Chasing Dreams (Peregrine x Viverescribere)

Viverescribere

Always looking to write
Original poster
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Looking for partners
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1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female, Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Fantasy, Historical, Magical, Romance (usually within other genres), Dystopia, Fandom.





Zemira


He would follow after her.

...He had to.

Surely... surely he would...

...But what if he didn't? That was a possibility that hadn't been taken into consideration...

...No... no... he would. He had to.


Because Zemira wasn't sure how she would cope if he didn't.



Princess Zemira of Tarnung hadn't wanted to leave the way she had done. But they had left her with no other alternative than to take matters into her own hands. They hadn't listened to her when she voiced her lack of enthusiasm for the marriage to the Prince of Renati, nor had they listened when she made known her desire to travel. Growing up as a royal, listening in on some of the meetings that took place made Zemira hungry for the worlds that laid beyond her castle walls. She didn't want to end up as some seemingly-perfect, obedient, submissive but terribly miserable trophy wife for a rodent of a Prince who had tormented her when they were kids by cutting off his fingers and toes only to regenerate them moments later.

So that was why she left her beloved castle and handmaidens, abandoned her well-wishing family and shirked her duties as Princess of Tarnung.

And also deserted her best friend.

But she knew how to get him to race after her, as arrogant as it sounded. He was her closest confidant and made it known he would do whatever it took to keep her safe. It was because of that that Zemira had left him a note, just a note, in their secret Library spot. Hopefully it would be the next place he would look when he couldn't find her in her bedroom or in the baths. He was loyal, unbelievably so, and she just hoped that that loyalty and their friendship would simply spur him straight onto her tracks. Because there was no way she could have told him her plans before they were in action, lest he either attempted to talk her out of it or even alerted someone else to her intentions. Then she would have been ruined. She would have been deemed a flight risk (rightly so), and there would have been eyes on her at all times.

That being said, she still had to be careful. Gathering supplies around someone who had heightened senses wasn't particularly easy. The easy part came with sneaking out, as a matter of fact, when one would have thought it would have been the hardest part of the job.

With her skills in camouflage, it was all too easily to sneak past the guards and servants that were scattered randomly throughout the palace. She had swapped her gowns which dripped in silk and jewels for some cream riding breeches, an off-white riding blouse, a dark brown leather corset-belt at her waist and her light brown leather riding boots. A dark cloak was pulled tight to herself, the hood remaining down, hair braided.

Perhaps it would have been even quicker to change her appearance ever so slightly to look like one of the servants, and just walk straight out, but then she wouldn't have been able to wear her own clothes after. She would have had to have packed more, and she needed to conserve the space in her pack.

Her pack, as it was mentioned, had already been stashed away just beyond the palace walls, placed there by her in the earlier hours of the morning before the main body of servants had even risen. It would hold a single spare change of clothes for herself and her friend, some food to last two days and some stolen coins from the palace's treasury. Plus a weapon or two, only a dagger and a short sword. Not that Zemira even knew how to use them...

The moment she was passed the palace gates, now choosing to change her hair colour to an ashy-blonde, display a few freckles and add a few extra inches to her height, it felt as though a weight had been removed from Zemira's shoulders. The dust of the dirt road kicked up as she walked, but that didn't bother her in the slightest, not now that she didn't have to care about her appearances (at least in that sense). She took in a deep breath of what she felt to be liberation, but there was still a nagging guilt gnawing at her. It caused her to look back to the castle over her shoulder, lower lip being nibbled on as she thought to Eitan.

Her dear, beloved Eitan. She hoped he found the letter. She hoped he did as she expected, which was race after her. She hadn't wanted to leave him that way, but it was the only way to ensure she remained in the clear for a future that would be her own.

"Track me down, Eitan. Let the Gods keep you true to yourself and let you track me down." She murmured, eyes flickering one last time over the walls she once called home before she turned and continued her steady path down the dirt road towards the village.





Zemira Tarun


NAME
Zemira Inerys Mirella Tarun
NICKNAME/S
Zemi ||
BIRTHPLACE
Kingdom of Tarnung
FAMILY MOTTO
Semper occultatum voluntate || Intentions always hidden ||
AGE
21
EDUCATION
Private tutorage || Power wielding ||
OCCUPATION
Royal Princess of Tarnung ||
TATTOOS
None ||
PIERCINGS
Left ear || standard lobe x1 ||
Right ear || standard lobe x1 ||
POWERS
Camouflage (main strength) || Minor shapeshifting || Defensive abilities || Speed boosts ||
FACE CLAIM
Jennie Jacques || Actress || Vikings ||



PERSONALITY
Zemira is strong, protective woman who is loyal to those who are loyal to her. She will treat people with respect, so long as they extend her the same courtesy. She is determined not to be written off at any stage in her life, and determined to always do what she believes to be right. When she feels something, or does something, Zemira will not go into it half-hearted. She is an 'all or nothing' type of person.
LIKES
Singing || Dancing || Playing games || Strawberries || Roasted quail || Plums || Star watching || Fictional novels ||
DISLIKES
Insects with more than four legs || The smell of thyme || Overly strong tea || Desserts that are too sickly sweet || Hog roasts (hates seeing the full body on the spit roast) || Sticky fingers || Cruel pranks ||
HOBBIES
Playing piano || Playing violin || Reading || Looking at constellations ||
TALENTS
Piano || Violin || Camouflage ||
FEARS
Rejection || Loveless marriage || Spiders || Being locked in a room with no other exits || Burning to death || Drowning ||

BACKGROUND

The kingdom of Tarnung is one of the five kingdoms which was formed hundreds of years ago. When monsters first broke through into the human world, Zemira's ancestors were left bewildered and fearful for their lives. They had hunted normal creatures before, but nothing like the magic-riddled beasts that invaded their lands.

It was soon realised that they had to adapt, and evolve, in order to survive in this New World, and five different families took it upon themselves to learn about the different monsters they came across.

They captured, killed, and experimented with beasts that they fought. It took what felt like an age before the families came to realise that they could take the magic that was within the monsters and apply it to their own human beings. Each family then settled on a monster in which they wanted to channel that magical energy, hunting them now rather than only killing to survive.

The Tarun family managed to secure themselves enough Camouflage Beasts, plus a selection of other monsters, to entwine their bloodline with that of the creatures.

Fast forward a few hundred years and Zemira Tarun is the second born royal in the Kingdom of Tarnung. The mixed blood power from the four/five monsters selected by her ancestors continues to run strong in her veins, and she is particularly adept at her camouflage skills. The princess also found she was capable of putting on some extra speed when necessary, picked up defensive practices quickly and could make minor changes to her appearance - a few inches here or there in height, a different hair cut or colour, even her eyes could become a new hue altogether.

Due to protocols and politics, Zemira will never be expected to assume the throne as Queen should anything happen to her brother. However, she could still be married off to another kingdom for the sake of alliances. Currently, she is betrothed to the prince of Renati, which she isn't very pleased about. Deriving their powers from their own selection of monsters, including Hydras, the royals of Renati are capable of regenerating. Zemira had a particularly nasty experience with the prince pulling a prank on her with this skill after pretending she had sliced his hand off.

Zemira hadn't forgotten it since.

With the wedding fast approaching, Zemira finds herself growing more and more sick at the prospect of a loveless marriage. She hates the idea of being tied down to someone who she cannot stand and also without seeing anything other than the castle and certain areas of her kingdom.

So she plans to run.



Hex Code: #9d85b1 & #433e64

  • Tarnung
    • Princess Zemira and Eitan's original kingdom
    • Royal family are known for their ability to camouflage, minor shapeshifting, defensive abilities and speed boosts
  • Renati
    • Princess Zemira's betrothed kingdom
    • Royal family are known for their ability to regenerate body parts, speed healing, limb manipulation and flesh explosion
  • Vatten
    • Royal family are known for their ability to breathe under water, increased strength, increased reflexes and sound amplification
  • Maenia
    • Royal family are known for their ability to generate different poisons: paralytic, hallucinogenic, neurotic, etc.
  • Lenid
    • Royal family are known for their enhanced senses, agility and flexibility

(Link) Money goes as follows:
  • 1 pound (L) = 20 shillings (s)
  • 1 crown = 5 shillings
  • 1 shilling = 12 pence (d)
  • 1 penny = 4 farthings
  • 1 mark = 13s 4d
 
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Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Eitan stared down into the bucket of well water, which casually reflected back the image of his bare chest and grimacing face. The bucket naturally held none of the distaste for Eitan as his face held for it, but that didn’t stop the brawny young man from glaring at the bucket as though it was his mortal enemy.

A second later, and he clenched his teeth, every muscle on his body standing out in relief. He lifted the entire bucket over his head, before dumping it downwards. The cold water flooded down over him.

“Hate!” Eitan proclaimed, dancing slightly on the spot as little waterfalls appeared all over his body. “Hatehate hate!”

His proclamations, however, did nothing to stop him from vigorously scrubbing himself with the coarse cloth he held in one hand.

A minute later, sopping wet and glowering at nothing, Eitan flung the rag to the side and shook himself like a dog. Water droplets flew off of him, causing his short, sandy brown hair to plaster itself to his face. Scraping it off with offhanded irritation, he stalked out of the well courtyard, shooting an irate look at the tipped over, discarded bucket.

It was lunch time. Lunch time meant it was time to meet Zemi. Lunch time also meant he’d just finished his morning’s sword training. Which meant he was smelly. Or, at least, had been smelly.

Eitan hated cold water. It was uncomfortable and it made him uncomfortable. However, he was not someone allowed in the lavish, warm-water baths of the nobility. No bath meant going to see Zemi smelly, and that was simply not an option. That meant cold water it was.

But he didn’t. Have. To like it.

Eitan rushed back to his knight’s quarters. He probably still had time to spare, but finishing his part one minute earlier meant he could start waiting for Zemi one minute sooner. He needed to be properly dressed to meet her.

Despite calling it knight’s quarters, it was, in truth, just pages’ quarters. Eitan considered himself more than qualified to be a knight by now, but it had just never happened. He proclaimed the knight’s oath himself instead, and since there was no one else living in his quarters he called it whatever he pleased.

But, regardless of the name, the space was tiny. Two large strides, and Eitan was already most of the way into the room, standing in front of a few rickety drawers that looked about ready to fall over. He fished out a nice shirt from within them. One of his few, but he saved them for Zemi, so there’d always be at least one clean. Pants, socks, shoes. His ‘armor’, plates of steel he’d gotten from the blacksmith, had already been discarded before he went to visit the stupid well.

And, done. There was no mirror for him to see himself in, but he would have checked his reflection if he could have. Whatever he looked like, it’d have to do. Waiting for Zemi was waiting.

The guards did not stop him from entering the palace. They knew his face, knew who he was going to see, knew she’d raise a stink if they didn’t let him in. But they didn’t greet him, either. Eitan was used to it. Not many people other than Zemi talked to him. He was always the target of rumors, of one sort or another, no matter how hard she tried to dispel them.

He was used to it.

Eitan waited for Zemi in front of her room door. Normally she would have had classes in the morning, but this was one of her days off. Eitan didn’t really take days off, but he was sure Zemi absolutely deserved them. She worked so hard, after all.

Eitan liked waiting for Zemi. It meant that he would never miss her arrival. Of course, she didn’t like leaving him waiting, which had once created a weird little dance between the two. But, after he had shown up the night before their morning appointment, it seemed she’d finally understood his determination, and had left him to it.

So Eitan waited in front of her room door.

And waited. And waited a bit more.

He didn’t mind, but Eitan was sure they were well into the lunch break by now. This wasn’t like her. Where could she be? Gradually, a scary possibility occurred to him.

Had he been late?

Panicking for a moment, wondering if Zemi had been watching him this whole time, he immediately pulled aside the closest curtain. “Zemi?”

A second later, and he paused, blinking. No, that was stupid. She wouldn’t be behind the curtain; she’d naturally wait for him in her room. It was her room, so it was the best place to wait. Therefore, he immediately knocked on the door.

“Zemi?”

No answer.

After several moments of careful and heartfelt deliberation, Eitan hesitantly intruded upon her room. Sticking his head out from behind the door, he surveyed the space. Empty. What was more, the smell of her soap, scented with strawberries and plum, was faint. She hadn’t been here in a while.

It was only then that it occurred to him that, if her scent was stale, it naturally meant she hadn’t gotten here before him.

Momentarily stumped, Eitan’s thoughts ran in circles. There were no classes to delay her today, no court sessions to obstruct her. Where could she be? His thoughts spun and spun and spun, and gradually settled at one possible idea.

Was she playing hide and seek with him?

It had been a long time since Zemi had cheated at hide and seek. Of course, it had been a long time since they’d played hide and seek, but that was beside the point. It wasn’t very fair of her to start the game without warning him, but he decided it couldn’t technically be counted as cheating.

Eitan began to search.

Not her room. Not the baths, not the kitchen. Not their lunch spot. Starting to get frustrated, he backtracked to her room. There, he ultimately decided it was okay for him to cheat, considering she hadn’t told him they were playing in the first place.

She’d been here this morning. He sniffed carefully, nostrils flaring.

It was well past the lunch break by now, and he was supposed to be starting training again. But, well, it wasn’t like anyone ever watched him. Finding Zemi was more important. Carefully, he tracked her from her door through the hallways, rounding corners with his head lowered and back hunched. He ignored the servants, who were giving him a wide berth, and finally traced her to the library.

The library! Of course, why hadn’t he thought to look here earlier? He didn’t need to continue tracking her from here. With unerring steps, he made his way to the little bookshelf cubby she’d made when they were children. Or, he’d made? Zemi couldn’t carry bookshelves. But she’d told him where to put them, and as far as he was concerned, that made it her creation.

Inside… no Zemi. Eitan felt a momentary sense of letdown, but steeled himself a second later. She obviously hadn’t liked the hiding spot. He’d have to keep tracking her. But, it was equally clear she’d been here, and recently. Why come by if she didn’t want to hide here?

He scanned the space carefully, and his sharp eyes instantly locked on to a small piece of white paper, which had been hidden in a small corner he had once used to store sweets. Carefully squeezing his way into the narrow space, which was, quite frankly, a lot smaller than he remembered, he pulled out the little white paper.

Eitan, I’m sorry. I’ve left the palace.

She’d left the palace? But she wasn’t supposed to do that. Eitan had heard that her father had told her many times that it was dangerous out there. What if she got hurt? Outside the palace was not a good place for hide and seek.

I’m not coming back.

Eitan promptly forgot to read any further than that line. She wasn’t coming back to the palace? Ever? But the palace was where they’d both lived for so long, why wasn’t she coming back?

If she wasn’t coming back… Eitan couldn’t wait for her. Because she’d never... arrive?

For one instant, it felt like time itself froze around him. And then he was moving before he even fully understood what he was doing. The bookshelf toppled away from him as he accidentally brushed against itk. But he had no time to care for the splintering wood or fluttering pages. Nor the fact that the library door also cracked when he touched it. Zemi had left the palace and she wasn’t coming back.

And that meant… that meant… That meant he was leaving the palace and wasn’t coming back. With Zemi. Because it was dangerous out there. He’d heard that. And that meant he had to be there, with her.

The palace was a blur, a gust of wind and motion and a few screams as he hurtled his way through the corridors. He wasn’t still tracking Zemi. There was no need. After all, there was only one exit outside the palace walls. He’d pick up her trail again there.

Halfway to the gate, Eitan realized he was leaving and wasn’t coming back. If he was going away, wasn’t he supposed to pack? But he didn’t know what to bring. He’d never really thought about leaving the palace. After all, Zemi was here. But now she wasn’t, and he had to leave.

He didn’t know what to pack. But, he turned towards his quarters anyways. He had a small bag of money there, which he’d earned from various little places, but never had to spend. It was fine. If he didn’t know what to pack, he could just buy it again later. First, he had to catch up to Zemi.

Room, money, leave. Then he was back moving towards the gates, where he finally picked up Zemi’s scent again. Faint. She’d been gone for some time, but he was sure he’d be able to catch up before long. He’d always been faster than her. If he really tried, he was faster than some horses, too.

He’d catch up.
 
  • Love
Reactions: Viverescribere

Viverescribere

Always looking to write
Original poster
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, One post per day, 1-3 posts per week
Writing Levels
Intermediate, Adept, Advanced, Prestige
Preferred Character Gender
Male, Female, Primarily Prefer Female
Genres
Fantasy, Historical, Magical, Romance (usually within other genres), Dystopia, Fandom.





Zemira


"Watch yerself, lass!"

Zemi stumbled back from the middle of the cobblestoned street, eyes wide as her heart pounded within her chest. A horse, trudging wearily with a cart of hay behind it, moved by with its driver waving a hand in flippant irritation.

The Princess - or rather... former Princess? - turned her head each and every way to take in the bustling activity of the village town she found herself in. Only a thirty-minute walk from the castle, it was the nearest civilisation to the palace, and the one the road she had chosen led to. Zemira had never been to any of the villages within the Tarnung Kingdom, her father often reminding her of the dangers that lay beyond the castle walls.

Not that Zemi really took any notice, since she always found her father's fears rather... mislaid. With their bloodline, their powers, what did they truly have to fear? They were the ones with magic in their veins, and they were considered protectors of the Kingdom because of it. Why would anyone want to wish them ill?

Well... why would anyone in their own kingdom wish them ill?

Or... anyone who didn't sympathise with other kingdoms... or disagreed with Tarnung's polices...

Alright. Fine. There were a few groups who could wish Zemira and her family ill. However she didn't see how that could be a problem! Not with their abilities.

After checking her path twice this time, the young woman crossed the street with hands tightly grasping hold of the strap that kept her pack to her back. Her head was slightly bowed and eyes averted as she continued her hurried strides, turning right and walking with a set of buildings to her left, the street with multiple carriages and horseback riders to her right.

Even with her bowed head, Zemira was capable of the occasional glances around, surveying her surroundings and beginning to feel more and more daunted as time went on. Her cloak, while dark, still seemed too new and unstained to be in the crowd it was. Her cream breeches, also too clean and almost seemed bright with their colour against the dull browns and miserable greys. As a royal who prided herself on blending in, she had never felt more exposed in her life.

"Eitan..." She whispered under her breath, raising her head to look over her shoulder, eyes desperately swinging across the faces in the crowd, "...Where are you?"

She was beginning to worry she had made a mistake. Perhaps she should have told Eitan. At least then she could have convinced him to be with her from the start, rather than putting all her hopes on him finding the letter and coming after her.

Oh by the Gods-- what if he did come after her but brought the palace guards? Or her father?

Zemira felt sick at the notion, even stopping abruptly in the middle of the walkway much to the vocalised annoyance of those walking behind her.

No-- no. Eitan wouldn't do that. Besides, would they even listen to him? She couldn't imagine they would. She was the only one that heeded what he said, or suggested. Others disregarded him, or ignored him, many preferring to act as though he didn't exist - which angered Zemira massively. The young woman often berating those who would acknowledge her presence but not Eitan's.

Swallowing thickly, Zemira realised she ought to perhaps stop, allow some more time to pass. Her hopes that Eitan would come after her were waning. Her fear that he perhaps didn't find her note creeping up on her. She would have put it in a more noticeable place, but she didn't want anyone else finding it before him. Not to mention, she only trusted him to find it.

Her family not finding it meant she would at least have one full day ahead of the palace guards that would be sent out in search of her.

She was betrothed after all. She had a promise to keep, a duty to fulfil. Oh Gods-- That meant that the Kingdom of Renati would also send out a search party.

Releasing a deep breath, Zemira attempted to calm herself, going as far as to physically shake herself out. Taking in another breath, nose wrinkling at the stronger taste on her tongue from the air of horse manure and stale ale, she began to look for a space in which she could wait without drawing attention to herself. Her eyes settled on a swinging tavern sign, eyebrow quirking at the particularly bosomy merwoman whose tail curled into a circle so her fins rested just below her hips. Watered-down red was painted over the hair which was carved awkwardly to rest over her paint-flaking shoulders.

A tavern. A tavern would be perfect. If Eitan could pick up her scent, that is. But if he did, at least it would stick out against the rancid smells that would undoubtedly be all over this little inn.

Quickly Zemira set off again, ploughing forward to enter the tavern and being careful to dodge the two, drunken, laughing fellows that stood just outside.

It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dimly lit settling, a hue of smoke gathering along the ceiling and fading downwards, not entirely helping the lack of visibility either. A handful of oil lamps, attached to the walls, were lit and the air was stagnant with ale and urine. Careful to keep her expression neutral, for the fear that a wrinkled nose may offend some people, Zemira carefully picked herself around chortling groups, passed out bodies and women sat in the laps of men.

She had to hastily avert her eyes as she passed one of the latter, cheeks staining a hot red at the inappropriate sight. Coin was pressed into the hand of the woman who was scantily clad. A tight corset sucking in her waist and stomach, but causing her breasts to practically spill out of the top of the piece of clothing. Her shoulders and upper arms were covered, but there was plenty of skin being shown of her chest and throat. Her skirts were asymmetric, long at the back but shorter at the front, much shorter. Black stockings were the only things covering her otherwise bare legs and even then that was being generous, due to the amount of holes and rips within them.

Zemira hurried to settle herself in the far corner of the tavern, sitting with her back in the corner and facing outwards to the rest of the establishment. Her pack was placed on the bench beside her, an arm remaining looped through the strap but hands twisting tightly together in her lap.

"Wha'll ya be havin'?"

The young woman startled at the voice, having been too occupied with ordering herself and also watching the woman lead her partner from the table and upstairs. What place had she allowed herself to walk into?

"I-- uhm... what?"

The barmaid who had come to her table to collect the old tankards huffed, eyes rolling, "I said, wha'll ya be havin'? It ain't hard, lovey."

Zemira swallowed hard, brow furrowing as she floundered. What did people order in a tavern? Was it the ale? But she had never had ale before. And the smell of it in the air didn't exactly make her eager to have her first.

"I-- I... ah... I'm just--- waiting-- for someone. I don't need anything. Thank you." She answered, stumbling over her answer. Even her voice sounded like it didn't belong. Because it didn't.

Too proper. Too well spoken. Too much annunciation.

Eitan... please hurry. If you're coming, please hurry.

The barmaid narrowed her eyes, setting the tankards back down with a heavy thud. "Ya ain't stayin' if you ain't buyin'. Now yous can get yerself a drink or some food, or ya can clear off-- got it?" She retorted, causing Zemira to stare up in bewilderment at the treatment she was receiving.

However instead of arguing, she nodded hastily, "S-sorry. I'll-- ale. Ale please." She finally ordered, voice small.

Zemira remained still as the woman's eyes ran over her, clearly taking in the clothing and the pack on the bench. However, instead of saying anything, she just snorted and pulled away from the table, taking the tankards with her. Zemira breathed a sigh of relief and sank back against the wall behind her, simply glad the exchange was over, at least for now.

Her attention then went back to the door of the tavern, lower lip being taken between teeth and hands once more wringing together.

Surely he would be on her tail by now. If he had found the note. Lunch would be over by now, and he would definitely know she was gone. He always liked to be there, waiting for her. There wasn't any possibility in the world that led to him not noticing she was missing.

"I'm here Eitan. Please find me."
 
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  • Sympathy
Reactions: Peregrine

Peregrine

Waiting for Wit
SECURITY DEPARTMENT
Invitation Status
Looking for partners
Posting Speed
1-3 posts per day, Multiple posts per week, One post per week, Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
On fairly regularly, every day. I'll notice a PM almost immediately. Replies come randomly.
Writing Levels
Adept, Advanced
Preferred Character Gender
Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
The city wasn’t entirely unfamiliar to Eitan. After all, the gate guards never did anything to stop him from leaving. They occasionally stopped him from coming back in, but then he just slept in front of the gate until Zemi came and got him. He wasn’t supposed to climb the wall. That was bad. So all he had to do was wait.

The city was busy and crowded and dirty and smelly. People were everywhere, and Eitan didn’t really like interacting with them. They were nice enough now that he wore the good clothes from the palace, but he still remembered the way they used to kick him without warning when he was small and trying to get the good-smelling food off their tables.

Of course, he understood now that they were unhappy that he took without giving money in return, but Zemi was the only one who ever explained that. The rest just kicked him.

He disliked the people even more right now because they were getting in his way. Even though he wove and darted among them as quickly as possible, it still required him to zig-zag from the straight line he longed to take. However, touching people without permission was a no. Like climbing the wall. Or breaking things when he wasn’t paying attention to how he was holding them.

Although he’d already broken that rule when he left the library. Too late to think about it now.

The strawberries and plum led him to a large courtyard filled with carriages. Zemi’s smell was nearly buried under the overwhelming scent of horse dung and sweat that filled the area, but the faint smell still ultimately led him to a wagon that was waiting on the edge of the courtyard.

Eitan scanned the carriage. No Zemi. But that was obvious. He was still too far behind her to catch her now.

“Where is this carriage going?”

The people inside the carriage looked at him as though he was something foul that was stuck to the bottom of their shoe, but fell silent at the sight of the royal guard’s emblem that was emblazoned upon his shirt. Frankly, Eitan thought they were worse than him, sitting in a carriage packed among bags and boxes that smelled like vegetables and grain, but he didn’t say anything either.

Eventually, someone answered. “...Claywich. It’s going to the village of Claywich.”

The name meant nothing to him. What he really wanted to know was if Zemi was there, but these people wouldn’t know that.

“Which way is Claywich?” Better to pick up Zemi’s trail outside the city, away from all the people and smells and distractions and interruptions.

Eitan’s glare seemed to stun the person who’d spoken, but eventually the man lifted one slightly shaking hand, and pointed off into the distance. “That way.”

Eitan left without further word. It was rude, disrespectful. He knew that. Zemi had taught him good manners, even if he didn’t often understand the point of them. But he’d worry about manners again when he’d found Zemi.

“...Thank you.”

Well. That hadn’t really taken much. Now he’d worry about manners again when he found Zemi.

True to his expectations, he found Zemi’s trail again much easier once he was out of the hustle and bustle of the city. There were no fresh wagon tracks, but her trail was getting fresher. He’d catch up soon.

Without people to get in his way, Eitan set off down the road with a long, loping gait that contained the wild stamina of a horse or wolf. However, Eitan didn’t really care what the people traveling down the road had to say when he ran past them. This was the fastest way to catch up with Zemi, and he wouldn’t let anyone get in his way now. Eitan began to accelerate.

Only a few minutes later, and the capital city had already vanished behind the horizon behind him, and a new town was rapidly approaching in front of him. It was smaller than the capital by far, but Eitan still slowed down carefully as he approached, before slipping in among the buildings once a group of guards had passed by.

Zemi was close now, he was sure of it. He’d gained a lot of time on her running down the road, and now it was just a matter of finding her among all the people.

After wandering down a few more roads, Eitan finally barged his way into a dirty-looking inn, causing the slightly drunk man who was about to walk out to stumble backwards.

Eitan was still fairly young, but his height and raw bulk turned him into an intimidating presence. The fact that he tended to look through most people with a dull gaze, as though staring at inanimate objects rather than living, breathing humans, did nothing to help ease his severe first impression.

As he walked his way straight across the busy inn floor, people scooted out of his way. It was a good call on their part, because Eitan likely would have walked right into them if they hadn’t gotten out of his way.

After all, he’d finally found his target.

Eitan sat down across from Zemi, staring at her with an unblinking gaze. She didn’t look injured. She didn't look like her usual self, either, but that didn't really take Eitan by surprise. Zemi did that a lot, and he could always tell it was her from her smell.

“That wasn’t a very nice game of hide-and-seek,” he finally said, voice muffled and a bit coarse. “I think… I think making the search area so large is cheating. Cheating, Zemi.”
 
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Zemira


The tankard of ale looked like piss.

It wasn't appealing to look at, that was for sure. The dull-grey vessel it was in was equally as off-putting. But Zemira kept her expression neutral nonetheless, not wanting to cause offense to the barmaid who put it down in front of her.

The former princess fished out the coin that was required from her pack and the barmaid was on her way again, but not without another dismissive snort and eyeroll. Zemira forced herself to wrap her hands around the cup in front of her, swallowing back a gag at the sure feeling of grime beneath her fingers. What in the lowest pits of hell was on this tankard?

Actually-- actually... she didn't want to know. In fact, the truth was the furthest thing from what she wanted to know.

Her hands were soon removed from the drink and subtly rubbing against her thighs.

As singing broke out within the tavern, Zemira made sure to keep her gaze lowered and averted from the other patrons in the establishment. She didn't wish to draw attention to herself; that was the last thing she wished for. Attention meant trouble, or it meant being found out and taken back to the palace. Neither were the results she longed for.

What she did long for was for Eitan to find her and for them to begin their adventure together. In her mind, it had been planned out to the last detail. But Zemira was soon learning that reality always had a way of coming between the desiree and the desired.

She couldn't help the wince at the sudden change in dynamics from the singers in the pub, fingers tightening around her thighs until they were pressing firmly into muscle and skin. Her brow furrowed as she continued to stare at the ale before her, briefly wondering if she ought to try it. Just a little sip. Just to see what all the fuss was about. Clearly everyone in the tavern enjoyed it, or at least the influence it had on them. Perhaps she should simply give it a go...

However, before she could allow herself to give in to the idea - a very poor one, when she would think back on it - the chair on the other side of her table scraped back.

Sharply, the former princess' head snapped up, frown replaced with widen eyes and raised eyebrows. One hand immediately removed itself from her thigh to grasp onto her pack, as if fearing someone coming along with the intent to steal it from right under her nose. But instead...

"That wasn’t a very nice game of hide-and-seek. I think… I think making the search area so large is cheating. Cheating, Zemi."

Instantly relief filled her and Zemi even released a sigh, a silent prayer of thanks being sent up to the Heavens with it.

"Eitan--" She breathed, hands moving up from under the table to stretch across the surface towards her friend. A small smile pulled at her lips, unable to even begin conveying her gratitude that he came after her. She knew she could rely on him.

Her eyes moved to the rest of the tavern behind him, checking they wouldn't be disturbed, before focusing back onto him.

"This isn't a game, Eitan. I am not playing a game now." Zemira replied, pushing the tankard to the side so it was no longer between them before reaching out again for him. Her eyes flickered over him, checking to make sure he himself hadn't gotten harmed on his way to find her.

Zemira was aware that things had gotten better for him since receiving the good clothes from the palace, and even the guard's uniform, but she still worried for him. She couldn't help but fret over what this change would mean for him. She would no longer be able to protect him with her title, nor he be immune from any prejudice once she requested he lose the uniform (since she had spare clothes in her pack for him).

Taking in a deep breath, she leaned forward, wanting to keep their conversation between them. From there, she paused, looking down at her hands before raising her gaze back to him and continuing, "I... I have no intentions of returning to the castle. That life-- I have no want for it. The betrothal, the monotony, the life of court... I don't want that. I want adventure, I want to travel; to see the world."

Her lower lip was taken between her teeth where it was nibbled on, as if anxious about his reaction all of a sudden, "I... want you to come with me. I don't think I can do this without you-- I mean-- I mean I will, if I have to but-- but I want you with me, as you always are. I will confess it as much of a need as it is a want but-- but I don't want to force you into this. But I-- I would... I would like to have my best friend with me, when I move forward from this place."





Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 
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Not a game? Eitan couldn’t help but frown slightly at that, unconvinced. She hid, and he found her. That was no different from what they usually did.

But, well, if Zemi said it wasn’t a game, then it wasn’t a game. He didn’t really understand the difference, but he trusted she knew what she was talking about.

“I know we aren’t going back,” he replied finally. “I read your note.”

Well, he read part of her note. A small part. The important part, he figured. He’d read the rest of it now that he’d found her, if it wasn’t for the fact that he’d dropped it somewhere and didn’t know where. Should he go back and find it?

No, he decided a moment later. What if she left again while he was looking? Then he’d have to catch up again.

“So… where are we going?”

It was hard for Eitan to understand that she was considering the possibility that he might not come along. To him, it was self explanatory. If Zemi went somewhere, he went too. Most of the time that had only meant walking through the town that surrounded the palace, but he could fathom no reason it would be different for going far away.

As a matter of fact, there was all the more reason for him to accompany her if they were going far away. She would always be safe in the palace, but they wouldn’t be in the palace anymore. There wouldn’t be guards everywhere.

He’d pledged himself as her knight. That meant it was his duty to protect her. Without guards, the job would rest solely on him.

...That didn’t seem safe.

“Shouldn’t we go get more guards?”
 
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Zemira


Zemi's lips parted to respond to his question about where they were going, but her mind was blank, and no words came out. She lingered like that for a moment, lips closing before parting again in her moment of floundering. "I-- I don't know. I hadn't... actually thought that far ahead." The confession weighed heavily on her chest. She had no plan, no idea, no thought about where she ought to go.

Her main concern had been getting out of the castle undetected. She hadn't imagined she would get as far as this village, let alone think about where they were headed next.

"I guess... I guess we ought to get a carriage to somewhere, anywhere. As far away from here and Renati as possible." She didn't dare set foot in Renati yet, it surely wouldn't be long until she was noticed to be missing and word would be sent out. Then a letter to Renati. Search parties would be in abundance.

It was all well and good that she could change her appearance, but she would need to be careful, considering the glamour could only be maintained for so long, and she was incapable of keeping it up while she was sleeping.

"No!"

The answer was louder than Zemi anticipated, causing some of the more sober patrons to look her way. Zemi ducked her head sheepishly, propping her head up in the heel of her hand and using the palm to cover the side of her face, regardless of already being unrecognisable.

"No-- No guards, Eitan, okay? I-- look, did you really read all the note? Remember in one of those books I read to you about the boy running away to join the... the, uh... the circus? That's-- that's kind of what I'm doing, okay? But not to join the circus? Just... running away. To see places. New places. New kingdoms."

Zemi watched him carefully, trying to figure out how best to explain this to him. "Everyone back-- home is going to be looking for us now, and I don't want them to find us, okay? I don't ever want to go back. So we can't let anyone from the castle come with us or help us or know what we're doing or where we're going, okay?"

That being said, she turned to her pack and started rifling through it, brow furrowing in concentration, "So... so you're going to have to change your clothes, alright? Because you'll stick out in the uniform." She paused, looking to him, "That means people might be mean to you again, so... so I just want to ask you - are you sure you want to come with me now? I won't be able to protect you like before. People won't listen to me out here without my guards and gowns and everything. So I-- I'd understand if you want to... stay... and be safe. I don't want you getting hurt."



Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 

Peregrine

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Eitan's head tilted slightly. It didn't seem quite like Zemi, to not know where they were going. She was always good at plans, at figuring things out. Part of him felt like there should be some significance behind that anomaly, something that would tell him more about the situation.

But, well, Eitan had never been as good at all that as Zemi.

He supposed, in the end, it didn't really matter where they ended up. There was no spot he particularly liked more than any other. Well, that wasn't true. The spot he liked best was wherever Zemi was. He often couldn't be there, because she was a princess and he was a knight. Squire. Something.

Whatever he was, he wasn't a princess, that was for sure.

It meant he had to treasure the time he spent in the same place as Zemi all the more. He supposed, in that regard, it was a good thing they were leaving the palace. There wouldn't be any more classes to take Zemi away, and no maids to drive him from her room in the evening.

Zemi's sharp reaction to his question caused Eitan to flinch slightly, his entire body tensing as his hand unconsciously dropped to his waist in preparation for a fight. It was only when his hand closed over empty air that Eitan realized he'd forgotten to bring his sword. It was still next to his bed, just opposite the drawer where he'd grabbed the money bag. He'd looked right over it.

"I -- uhh..."

He hadn't read all the note, but Zemi didn't really seem all that interested in hearing an answer to that question. He was more than happy to let her keep talking and bury that particular question in a stream of words.

And a stream of words it was. Zemi had always liked to talk, and sometimes she shifted topics faster than a squirrel jumping branches. Generally, he was able to keep up. He'd just store all the words in his memory, and go through them slowly, one at a time. That almost always worked, so long as he didn't end up out of order.

Zemi's last statement jolted all possible order out of his mind.

It wasn't safe for him to go? He might get hurt? But he was a lot stronger than Zemi. And if he could get hurt, then so could Zemi. And if she could get hurt, he had to be there to make sure she didn't get hurt.

"I'm going!" There was no trace of hesitation or uncertainty in his response. His dark eyes were filled with a steely determination. "I'm your knight. I can't let you get hurt."

Some knight he was without a sword. But, well, if someone threatened Zemi, he could just punch them instead.
 
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Zemira


It was selfish relief that flooded Zemira at Eitan's determination to join her on this new way of life. Relief because she would have her friend with her, also someone she knew she could rely on to help keep her safe too. However it was selfish of her to feel that way, especially since she knew the people in this world would treat him with scorn and disgust because of who he was. She never wanted to put him in the same position she had found him in ever again... yet here she was, asking him to leave a life of relative security just because she didn't want to live the life she had.

Her hands paused in her pack, fingers firmly secure around the spare clothes she had brought with her for him. Her eyes lingered on him, wondering if she ought to make it more clear what may happen to him as they ventured out into the unknown world. However again, selfishness won out.

Eitan was a loyal friend and stuck close to her side whenever he could. Some may have found that annoying, a maid even voicing such opinion to her one evening after having chased Eitan from her chambers. However, Zemira didn't find it at all irritating.

She enjoyed Eitan's presence as much as he seemed to relish hers. When they were younger, it was because he could keep up during playtime with her, and wouldn't cry or whine when she used her powers in her games, he simply used his in response. As they grew older, and the life of court became more nefarious, Zemira felt she grew even closer to Eitan simply because she knew he could be trusted with everything and anything. Including her life.

"You're my knight... that's right." She smiled quietly, removing a hand from the pack to reach out across the table to him. "Thank you, Eitan."

Clearing her throat, the former princess moved her gaze from him to survey the rest of the tavern, carefully moving aside her untouched tankard of ale. "I think perhaps we ought to get you out of the uniform and into the clothes I've brought you." She commented, shifting uneasily at the few looks being thrown in their direction, "Then we can get moving - we can get a carriage to one of the furthest kingdoms, how does that sound? Perhaps Vatten? We could go to the beach."

The Vatten Royal family were known for their aquatic breathing, one of their few powers that they harnessed after the family also intermixed their bloodlines with monsters such as Kappas, Sirens, and other such creatures.

It was also one of the furthest kingdoms from Tarnung, something that was incredibly appealing to Zemira.

"I would just need to return to my normal appearance, and you need to change. Then we can find tickets. Yes?"



Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 
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Eitan took Zemi's outstretched hand tenderly, folding her fingers carefully within his large, calloused palm. He'd hurt her once when they were both a lot smaller; he'd been over-excited and had squeezed her hand too tight. It felt like the bruise that had formed on her skin had been seared into his mind, and he'd never dared to touch her carelessly after that point.

For a moment he relished the feeling of her fingers, the tips slightly cool against his own. And then he let her go, folding his hand into his lap and gently stroking the ghostly sensation of her fingers with his other thumb.

"We can go wherever you'd like," Eitan replied. He had no memories of having ever left the city, his earliest memories of running through the streets with gangs of children. Anywhere they went would be new to him, although he was fairly sure him seeing new things wasn't the point of the trip. "Anywhere you like is good."

Many of the knights and their squires had gone on excursions to the wild borders of the country, to fight against the monsters. They had never let Eitan go with them. He'd heard them muttering at times, wondering if he'd suddenly betray or attack them. He wouldn't, but he'd long since learned that it did no good to correct them. They'd just get angry.

Of course, Eitan had never really wanted to go with them, either. What would he do if something happened to Zemi while he was far away? He wouldn't be able to get back in time to help her.

He accepted the clothes that Zemi brought out of her pack carefully, pressing them against his chest with one hand. He had the feeling she'd explained to him why he needed to change his clothes before, but he'd forgotten the explanation due to his worry that she might try and leave him behind if he didn't speak quickly enough.

Well. No matter. He understood that clothes were very important to most people. What you wore would change how people treated you. Clearly Zemi was trying to get his clothes to say something on his behalf. He could only trust it was the right thing.

"Where am I supposed to change?"

He wouldn't have had any particular objection to changing his clothes there and then, but Zemi had long since taught him that was a bad thing to do. There were places and times for changing clothes, and when anyone else was around was not the time or the place.
 

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Zemira


Zemira watched him as he took the clothes from her hands, suddenly realising, with his question, she wasn't sure where he could change. Her lower lip was soon back between her teeth as she thought, eyes darting around the room in an attempt to figure out just where he could go.

She wasn't about to send him to the lavatory. It was vile in this tavern, she couldn't even begin to imagine what their toilets would be like. Nor did she dare try and see if he could sneak in to a room upstairs, lest a tavern wench got the wrong idea and attempted to take him to bed. The idea alone was enough to make Zemira feel warm with mortification, leaving her to physically shake her head to try and remove the thought from her mind.

Being a princess, she had heard a few things from her Lady's Maids, but had never done anything herself. So, inexperienced, uncertain and unaccustomed to a life were sex was pretty much within constant view, it was a difficult change to adjust to.

"I-- uh...you can, uhm..." She was flustered, not helped by the fact a man was coming down the stairs with his trousers unbuckled, tucking in his shirt. He was drunk, that much was for certain, as he kept swaying and having to stop to catch his balance again. Her eyes darted back to Eitan, swallowing hard as she forced herself to focus on her friend.

"Just change your shirt. Here. Really quick, okay? I-- I think it's a normal thing to do-- Here... here, give me the rest of the clothes." She motioned for him to pass them back, shoving them back into her pack once he done what she had asked. "Just change your shirt here then we can... we can worry about the rest later."

From what she could see, only the upper half of the uniform had any insignia or crest on it. The trousers were fancy, of course, good fabric and good colours, but they could be overlooked if his shirt was worn in the right way. As for the shoes, why dispose of a decent pair of shoes? She was sure she could get them scuffed and dirty-looking relatively quickly.

As she waited, Zemira fished a coin out from the smaller pouch within her pack, leaving it beside the still-full tankard of ale. She also pulled the weapons closer to the top of the pack, ready to give to Eitan when they were in a more private setting.

Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 

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"Here?" Eitan repeated, studying Zemi's face for a moment to make sure she wasn't playing a joke on him. He was fairly sure that this was not an okay place to change clothes, but Zemi wasn't one to make games of what was and wasn't okay. Not when he would believe her, and could end up getting himself in trouble because of it.

Of course, Zemi's criteria for acceptable places to change clothes had always seemed a bit strict to Eitan. Many of the knights or squires would take their shirts off after a hard bout of training, even though lots of people were around. Perhaps she made it strict to make sure he wouldn't make a mistake by misjudging the situation. That sounded like the kind of consideration she'd have. She always tried to keep things simple for him, if she could.

Eitan buried his slight confusion over the situation behind a firm layer of trust. She said it was normal. Even if it wasn't normal, it didn't matter. She was asking him to do this, so he naturally would.

Eitan easily passed over the remainder of the clothes, picking out the shirt from among them, before he pulled the black shirt emblazoned with the insignia of the royal guard off over his head with only slight difficulty.

He didn't get new shirts all that often, so it had been slightly too small for him for some time. Even under the fabric, there had been little to hide Eitan's raw, muscular bulk. Even as a child he'd built muscle much faster than the other pages, kept it much easier, and that hadn't changed as he'd gotten older. Eitan was fairly sure it was another thing that made him different from most people, but this one he didn't worry about. It made him stronger and faster, too, which would make him a better knight.

Without the shirt on, the deep lines of his muscular form were put on full display, but it was only for a moment. A second later and he'd wrestled his way into the shirt Zemi had given him. Unlike the knight's shirt, it was the perfect size, even considering his unusually broad shoulders. Although the material was coarser than the royal shirt, causing a faint itch to form between his shoulder blades, he still smiled at Zemi with gratitude.

He liked this shirt better. It was a wonderful gift.

"Thank you," he said, before pausing, glancing at the black knight's shirt that was still in his hands. He wasn't entirely sure what they were supposed to do with it now. Did Zemi want this in exchange for the shirt she'd given him? It seemed like a lackluster return gift for such a nice present.
 

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Zemira


Her eyes only lingered on the muscular form of his body for a moment before Zemira caught herself staring. As a result, her gaze dropped to the table, another faint flush appearing on her cheeks. Of course she had taught Eitan where it was suitable and appropriate to change, but that had been when they were younger, much younger, and when his body hadn't been so well-defined or toned.

He may be her friend, but she was only human, after all.

At his thanks, she lifted her eyes back onto him and quickly smiled, "Not much to thank me for, Eitan. It's me who should be thanking you." She answered softly as she reached across to take the shirt from him.

Perhaps it could be sold later on for an extra coin or two. The material was nice, a seamstress or tailor might want it.

"Now, let's go. I don't want to linger any closer to home than we need to." She told him, standing and pulling another cloak from the pack as she did so. It would probably be wrinkled now, being so tightly rolled up and fitted into the bag, but at least it would be another layer to keep him warm. Zemira pulled her own on, the strap of her pack soon resting over her shoulder afterwards. She then rounded the table to stand in front of him, holding to cloak out to him.

She paused there for a moment, looking up at him as she hesitated, "You might not be treated as nicely when we leave now, Eitan," she began, unable to help but give into the guilt that was telling her to provide the warning, "Like when I found you, remember? People might... if they realise... they might treat you as badly like before I found you. I-- I won't be able to stop that this time." She kept her voice low, so the conversation remained between them.

Zemira was certain this would change nothing. She was confident that he would still come with her, regardless of any warning she gave him. But this was something she had to tell him, just so he knew and could make his own decision. He was her knight, just as he claimed moments ago, but she didn't wish him a hard life and yet there she was, about to walk him straight into one because of her own selfish reasons.

"I want you with me, not because I know you'll be able to protect me but because you're my best friend, Eitan. But I-- won't be able to protect you like I could before. You-- you need to know that."


Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 
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Eitan took the cloak Zemi handed him, holding it with both hands for a moment as he stared up at Zemi. She’d been taller than him when they were young, even if she was shorter than him now. Looking up at her like this, for a moment he felt like a child again.

She’d always looked out for him when he was small. Fed him. Sheltered him. Kept him safe, when he couldn’t protect himself.

Yes. He remembered the first time they’d met, when he’d been small. His home had been a corner of the street, and he’d spent every night cold and hungry. But the hunger and cold had been tolerable. Sometimes, sometimes it had been much worse than that.



A young boy stood in an alley at the edge of the market, staring out into the crowds of people. He didn’t want to go out there. There were many people out there, and people meant danger. What was more, he knew he was small and weak. Almost anyone there could knock him over with little more than a casual blow.

But all of the children on the street knew that this was the best place to get a meal. Either by sympathy and begging, a method that he had never been able to pull off, or by taking something edible when no one was looking.

This market was the best, because it was where the wealthy and nobles liked to come. They were less inclined to give a copper or two to a small orphan than the commoners, but when they gave, they gave generously. What was more, the merchants who manned the table were more likely to get distracted and miss sneaky fingers when a noble patron came to their stall.

The boy moved into the crowd carefully, using his small, thin body to dodge between the narrow gaps between people and dart under moving legs. Several people shouted after his back, cursing after him because it was obvious no one was there to care about him. His clothes were dirty, his hair was long, messy and dreaded, and a layer of dark grime covered his skin. He was an unwanted child, and no one had reason to care about him. He didn’t care about them either, so long as they didn’t bother him.

He did his best to ignore the hunger that gnawed at his belly, the countless smells of cooking food somehow simultaneously appetizing and nauseating. He couldn’t get any of it anyways, without the little coins some of the other orphans used to trade for the food. He had to snatch it himself, risking the shouts and blows that would follow him if he was caught in the process.

Only a few stalls were suitable for taking from. Time and abuse had taught him the signs. Distracted merchants. Lots of crowds. Shouting people nearby, occasionally drawing the eye. Any of those could provide a small opportunity for him.

Then it was just a matter of quick action, confidence, and luck.

The boy moved the moment the opportunity presented itself, his fingers reaching out to close over a red fruit. He pulled away as quickly as he moved, ducking downwards in hopes of avoiding the merchant’s line of sight and starting to skulk away.

“Did that kid just…”

He tensed.

“Hey! Mister! He just grabbed an apple!”

There was no time for skulking now. He instantly broke into a run.

There was an inarticulate shout from behind him, before the young boy heard the faint rushing noise of something flying through the air. A moment later, something heavy hit his back, breaking into small, sharp pieces. They sliced through his cheap clothing and right into his back.

He stumbled, falling to the ground, as brilliantly golden liquid stained his shirt and spattered across the ground, gushing from the slices opened on his back.

For a moment there was silence, before someone shouted.

“Monster! It’s a monster!”

The words were quickly drowned out by the sound of screaming, as the boy desperately tried to pull his way to his feet. He wanted to run, he had to run. He couldn’t be here. It wasn’t safe. People were dangerous.

But he had no time to move to his feet before a booted foot connected with his head, snapping his neck backwards for a moment and stealing his balance.

“Kill it! Kill it!”

He curled into a ball, his hands protecting the back of his head as he tried to protect himself from the blows raining down on him. He couldn’t stand anymore. Couldn’t move. Could barely even think. But he’d taken beatings before. So long as he could endure until it was over, he’d be able to crawl away and quietly nurse his wounds.

The sharp fragments on the ground cut his side and hands, opening tiny slices that instantly began to bleed more golden blood. The sight seemed to provoke the giants looming around him.

The blows kept coming, and coming, and coming.
 
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Zemira


Zemira could remember the carriage being stopped that day.

Her and her family had been returning from a visit to a neighbouring kingdom, their path leading them through the town in which Eitan found himself to be residing in as a child. It had been a long and tedious journey, one of which saw even Zemira's youthful body complaining of aches due to how long they had been sat for. That was even with a overnight stay needed in a nearby Lord's home.

"What is the meaning of our delay?" The king called to the driver, cane being thumped against the top of the carriage ceiling.

Zemira huffed as she leaned against the inside of the carriage, eyes drifting to the view of the village shops beyond the window but not really seeing anything. "Ow!" She yelled, startling upright with tears beginning to pool in her eyes, "Mama! Frederick just pinched me!"

"Did not!"

"Did so!"

"Enough." The king's irate tone cut through the siblings bickering, leaving them both to quickly fall silent. Eyes averted, heads bowed, hands folded in laps.

Huffing with a final glance to his children, the king unclipped the lock from the carriage door to climb down one step, "Edmund, I asked--"

"There seems to be some fight going on in the street, Your Majesty. It has blocked the road, the villagers are... well it seems quite alike to a mob, sire." The driver's voice drifted into the carriage thanks to the opened door, immediately causing Zemira to perk up in her curiosity. A grumble came in response from the king, who hesitated on the step of the carriage.

"What sort of unruliness must be occurring for the people to blindly ignore the presence of their king?" He muttered, clambering back inside, "See to it they realise who they are holding up, Edmund, immediately! it's been a long and taxing day as it is."

Biting her lower lip, Zemira attempted to press herself as close to the window as possible, as if that would help her see what the fuss was about. Unknown to her family that her fingers inconspicuously worked at the lock on the door nearest to her.

"Zemira! Zemira get back here this instant!"

The yells for her were immediate, as the little princess tumbled down the stairs of the carriage and began to race towards the group that blocked her path back home. There was so much anger, so much unadulterated rage that Zemira couldn't really understand or comprehend at such a young age. Of course, as she grew up and in turn learned about the history of the land, she would realise why the people were so hateful. But for now, all she understood was that she was fearful of the emotion on display, and was grateful that it wasn't directed at her.

Managing to slip into the crowd before the guards or footmen - or even her Papa or Mama - could reach her, Zemira managed to jostle and push herself to the front. Her gown would be mudded at the hem, shoes ruined, tiara slight askew.

But gold. Gold would stain the fabric on both shoes and hem.

A young boy. At least he seemed to be a boy. But he shone with gold. Where he got the gold, Zemira wasn't quite sure. Was that why these people were beating him? But she didn't realise that liquid gold was something that could be acquired.

"Stop! Stop it!" The eight-year-old princess charged forward with dress skirts slightly raised in order to allow herself the quick movement, even then tripping once or twice. Her little hands raised in defiance and a scowl marring her expression as she faced the blood-thirsty crowd surrounding her, so naively confident in her title and what power it brought. She stood over the ball that was the small boy, a foot either side of his hips, dress skirts therefore draped over his torso and thighs.

At the glint of the jewels and the well-dressed child, the first wave of realisation began to fall over the crowd. Those who were not released from their red-misted sights immediately were soon talked around by those who noticed the wealth, if not the tiara, on that of who stood before them.

"Back away from the Princess, immediately!" The command was bellowed, reaffirmed by the sound of swords being drawn, "Make a path! You-- you! Move! Make a path for your king!"

As the mob instantly placed space between themselves and their princess, Zemira finally allowed herself the chance to lower her hands and look down at the boy she had thrown herself towards to protect. Worried eyes flickered over what she could see, still uncertain as to why there was so much gold. Blood was red, was it not?

Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 

Peregrine

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It hurt.

Every blow that fell upon him caused his entire body to spasm, sending the shards of glass deeper into his flesh. He wanted to run away, he wanted to hide, but he was surrounded. Any time he so much as twitched, another blow would strike against him.

It felt like something inside him was screaming, desperate and scared. Somewhere in the depths of his throat a noise was building. It escaped from his lips as a strange, keening shriek, painful on the ears like metal scraping on metal.

No, baby. Don't make those noises. Hush, hush. It'll be okay.

But it hurt. It hurt so bad.

Why were they still hitting him?

He just wanted it to stop. He needed it to stop. Stop it. Stop it.

"Stop! Stop it!"

Another kick landed on his side, followed by a blow to the top of his head. Something scratched at his arm. And then finally, mercifully, it was over. There was still shouting going on around him, too noisy and chaotic for him to understand. His body still hurt, sharp little sparks of pain racing through him like a flash of lightning on a stormy night. But the blows had stopped.

Gradually, the young boy opened his eyes. Everything was blurry, his eyes filled with tears and the golden blood that flowed down from the cuts on his head. Countless shadows surrounded him, giant figures that caused his heartbeat to skyrocket.

He wanted to run, but he couldn't move his legs. When he tried to scratch at the ground, hoping to claw himself away, pain flashed through his arm, causing him to let out another keening shriek. Unable to do anything else, he could only rub at his eyes with one small hand, hoping to clear his sight enough so that he could spot a chance to get away.

When the young boy finally dropped his hand away from his eyes, he saw an angel standing in front of him. Her dark hair seemed to glow with the light of the sun.

The boy had heard of angels before. The people of the church spoke of them, when they came with a pot of food and fed the orphans one at a time. Angels served a god, and they make sure their god's will was served on earth. The church said they were kind, beautiful, and merciful, but the young boy had never seen anything like that in his life.

But now, a delicate, beautiful angel stood over him, facing down the giants who had caused him so much pain.

For a moment, thoughts of running away were banished from his mind. Instead, he reached out unconsciously, the fingers of his working hand carefully closing over the hem of her dress. It was soft, and he thought the way his golden blood stained the fabric was beautiful.
 
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Zemira


"Zemira Inerys Mirella Tarun... you come here right. This. Instant."


The young princess always knew she was in trouble when her full name was used. Not to mention, that tone that was used to demand her obedience... it was icy. And scary. It caused her to look up and away from the boy she was stood over, faintly aware of the pressure on her skirts as a hand came to grip the hem. But she didn't flinch, nor did she try to pull the material away from him.

Her hands came together in front of her torso, trembling slightly as they moved at the sight of the anger on the king's face. Even the mob that surrounded them backed away an extra step or two, their heads now bowed if their bodies were not. Women curtseyed low to the ground, staying there with their eyes averted out of respect for the royals that now graced their presence.

"N-no, Papa." The refusal to meet her father's wishes was quiet, just above a whisper as she shook her head. The motion started slowly before quickening, becoming rapid and sharp in movement. "I-I cannot. He-He will be hurt... if... if I do."

The king allowed his gaze to move to the boy, the abomination that laid curled beneath his daughter's feet. His nose wrinkled at the sight of gold that painted the cobblestones nearby, and that now stained his daughter's dress. "He is a monster, Zemira. A half-breed."

She had heard stories of them. Them being the half-breeds, created from a human and monster - although just how she was told she wasn't old enough to know just yet. However she knew about their existence; that monsters from the outskirts preyed on vulnerable humans and had their wicked ways with them. Again, she was too young to know just yet just what some of the 'wicked ways' entailed. The monsters were to be feared for what destruction and chaos they could bring. But half-breeds were just as dangerous, as they didn't have the same tell-tale signs as the full-breed monsters. Some half-breeds did have physical differences which set them apart from normal humans, but others did not, except for the glowing golden blood within their veins.

"But-- but he is in our kingdom, is he not, Papa?"
Zemira looked down to the boy herself, eyebrows knitting together. She couldn't understand just as to why the villagers came to inflict such harm. The child was younger than her, with no physical differences and obviously no devious powers he himself could use otherwise he would have defended himself, "A-and you've-- you've always taught me to... to... defend the-- the people in our k-kingdom."

It was seemingly unfair to Zemira, that this boy should be punished for having links to a monster while she herself would be celebrated. She had been told her powers came from her family line which mixed monster blood with their own. So how were her family not the villains here too?

"He is very hurt, Papa. I shall not be leaving him, and he shall not be staying here a moment longer." Zemira took a step to the side so she was no longer stood over the beaten form of a child. Instead she crouched down, surveying the damage with another furrowed brow. His arm looked seriously hurt - much like how her brother's arm looked when he fell out of a tree two years ago. "Either he comes with us, Papa, or I shall stay here and look after him. I won't let him be hurt again."

The king stared at his daughter's back, a muscle in his jaw jumping at the defiance on show to him, and also to the people in the capital. It put him in a difficult situation. He had taught his daughter well, it seemed, about her duty to her people... but too well, since she was incapable of differentiating between normal people and those who didn't deserve their help. Yet if he were to say no... he would never hear the end of it from his daughter. The best he could do would be to allow the pauper monster to recover within the grounds of the castle - perhaps a stable - and then send him packing.

"Fine." The king all but growled, further frustrated by the sight of more gold seeping into the material of Zemira's dress, "Edmund, see to it the creature is placed on the carriage somewhere. And for goodness sake wrap it in something, I don't want gold staining the carriage."

The driver nodded once, face having paled slightly at the prospect of having to have a half-breed on board his vehicle. As the royal employee stepped forward, the king turned to address the people: "Disperse now! You have had your witch-hunt, and made your point clear. Go back about your day!"

With a selection of looks, scowls, grumbles and scoffs, the mob slowly began to meander away from the scene, leaving a cold and empty space where it was before.

Zemira remained crouched by the boy, now kneeling in a puddle of gold as she waited for the driver to return with whatever he found to swaddle the child in. In childlike fascination, her fingers reached out to brush hair across his forehead, sweeping the locks away from eyes like her mother had done to her countless times. She had found it soothing, perhaps this half-monster would too.

"Everything's going to be just fine."
She told him softly, smiling gently with a firm nod as if to cement her words into place, "I promise."


Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 

Peregrine

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High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Monster.

Half-breed.

He'd lived his life carefully, hidden and secretive, due to the instinct of some half remembered voice of guidance. He knew people would hate him if they got to know him. That's why he had to be careful, had to hide.

But they called him 'monster'.

He'd heard of the monsters, terrible creatures that existed outside of the safety of the capital city's walls. Creatures that hurt people, creatures that knights and soldiers fought against. He'd never really thought about monsters. They were far away, and he had to worry about his next meal if he was going to worry about anything.

Unconsciously, his fingers closed tighter around the hem of the dress that he'd woven between his fingers.

They were going to kill him, just like the monsters outside the walls. That's why the people had hit him, and hit him, and kept hitting him.

They'd only stopped because the angel had interrupted them. And now... and now she was trying to keep him from getting hurt further. Even though everyone was glaring at him, looking as though they were prepared to start hitting him again the moment she stepped away from him. Including the well-dressed man who was taking to the angel. His... angel.

The boy could see the disgust in the well-dressed man's eyes, buried under a layer of apathy. He averted his eyes quickly, unwilling to look, wanting nothing but to hide. But he still couldn't move his legs.

He didn't lift his eyes again until he suddenly felt gentle fingers brush across his forehead. The young boy jolted unconsciously, head lifting, only for him to suddenly freeze as he found himself face to face with the beautiful young girl. Somehow, a streak of his own blood had ended up on her cheek. He longed to reach up and wipe it off for her, but his hands were already stained. He'd only make it worse if he touched her.

"It'll... be fine?" he muttered back. He would heal. He'd always healed fast. But the adults were still glaring at him, even as they began to move away. He'd never be able to come back to this market. Most likely he'd have to hide for a long time, until they forgot about him altogether.

Wrapped up in the angel's gentle eyes, he didn't notice the man approaching until it was too late. He was scooped up abruptly from the ground, wrapped up in a thick, coarse horse blanket. He screamed unconsciously as his arm was jolted, before he instinctively began to writhe, trying to escape the captivity. The man, struggling and swearing, continued to wrap him tighter and tighter, and the boy's few attempts to bite him were thwarted by the metal armor he wore.

A moment later, bound in the blanket like a tied roast and hearing the sound of a worried young girl's voice, the boy finally gave up on struggling. Falling limp, he allowed himself to be hauled away to the carriage.



In the noisy inn, Eitan offered a soft smile to Zemi.

"I'm a lot bigger now," he said, gesturing vaguely at his own person. Most likely, the five year old child that Zemi had picked up from the streets would be able to curl up on Eitan's current chest like it was a bed. "They won't be able to hurt me so easy now."

There was no doubt, the world out there hated half-monsters. Perhaps they hated them even more now than they had 13 years ago. Despite the hatred people would show him, Eitan doubted he would hit back if he was discovered. Unless they were threatening Zemi, it was better to be passive about it. Otherwise, people would just get more and more angry.

But he was fast, and practiced. Unless trained knights attacked them, he knew he would be able to dodge or block attacks from peasants. Eventually, they'd run out of steam. Long before Eitan would, that was for sure.

"This time... Zemi, this time it's my turn to protect you. You don't worry about me. I'll worry about you. Okay?"
 
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Zemira


It was unclear as to where Eitan went for a few seconds, his eyes seeming to glaze over after her words which concerned Zemira for a short while. However she didn't interrupt whatever it was that Eitan was thinking about, only anxious about what sort of memories her words stirred up. When he finally came back to the present, and smiled up at her, did she offer her own relieved uplift of lips.

"I'm always going to worry about you, Eitan, no matter what." She informed him fondly, hand reaching out to sweep his hair across his forehead just like she had done in the memory. It had become a habit, passed down from her mother. Her fingers then combed back the rest of his messy locks, taking a moment as she realised that there would no longer be any handmaids to stop her from doing so as often as she wanted, or her father's scolding tone to command she put distance between herself and Eitan due to it not being proper otherwise.

Abruptly she stepped forward, arms wrapping around him and pulling him tightly to her. Zemira took in a deep breath, eyes closing as she took that moment to compose herself. She would have her friend, for definite, for this new path in her life. He was willing to put his safety at risk and come with her, just as she had hoped.

A minute or two passed, but Zemi eventually released him, smiling down at him still as she took a few steps back, "We should get going. The sooner we get on a travelling coach the better. Get your cloak on... I have weapons I can give you when we find a tavern for the night. We'll also buy you a pack too, so you can carry things you need."

Zemira was also well aware of the fact that it would be much safer her travelling the world outside her own kingdom with a male figure. Thieves, bandits and other ill-wishers would undoubtedly be roaming the country sides, and that wasn't even including the monsters.

Waiting for Eitan to gather himself, she led them out of the tavern. Once out on the street, she slipped her arm through his to rest her hand in the crook of his elbow. She would need to think of a backstory for the two of them, Zemira realised, as while she was desperate to runaway, she was still too proper to not care what people thought about a lone, unmarried and not-promised woman travelling with an equally single male. But for now that could wait, they needed to find the place to buy tickets to get them on the coach first. And she wasn't entirely certain where to look first.

Pulling up the hood of her cloak, Zemira allowed her disguise to melt away, once more revealing her true hair colour and natural features. Only when enough time walking down the street had passed did she lower her hood once more. She barely left the castle, and on the rare occasion where she did, it was either in a carriage or the people were at a far enough distance where they wouldn't be able to get a proper glimpse of her face.

"We may not get a coach all the way directly to Vatten, it may be a carriage change here or there. But that should work well, since we'll need a place to sleep tonight."
She murmured to him, sticking close to her friend with how busy the street was becoming and allowing her gaze to dart around every so often in the search for any clues leading to where they could get on their desired carriage. "We're going to have to lie to some people too, Eitan, but make sure we know what lies we're telling so we don't get caught out."


Eitan - #A62
Zemi - #9d85b1
 
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Primarily Prefer Male, No Preferences
Genres
High fantasy is my personal favorite, followed closely by modern fantasy and post-apocalyptic, but I can happily play in any genre if the plot is good enough.
Eitan blinked, unconsciously bowing his head to present Zemi with easier access to the top of his head.

For a moment, he froze in place as he suddenly felt Zemi cling to his chest. Stiff enough to more resembled a training dummy than a human being, it took Eitan several moments for his mind to catch up with what his body was feeling.

Zemi... Zemi was hugging him. Her arms wrapped around his sides, hands clasped behind his back. Her head tucked in against him, cheek resting on his shoulder. For a moment, he would have sworn he could feel the movement of her eyelashes against his shirt. The smell of strawberries and plums enveloped him.

How long had it been since the two of them had last hugged like this? Not since they were children, surely. Back when they had both been small and free enough that they could escape anyone's attention, and play games in the castle grounds for hours on end. Before Zemi had to truly take up her responsibilities as a Princess of Tarnung, before she had to be escorted everywhere she went by a maid or a knight, or someone who was there to stubbornly remind her that 'casual contact was improper conduct for a princess' and shoot him a dirty look.

They had last hugged when things had been so much simpler for both of them.

His spiraling thoughts suddenly snapped back into place. What was he doing? Zemi was hugging him, and he was just standing there like a log! What if she thought he didn't like it?

Ever so carefully, Eitan lifted his arms and wrapped them around Zemi's shoulders. He held her body close to him in the same manner that he'd held her hand only minutes before. Carefully, gently, making sure that he didn't hurt her. But warmly. With consideration. With all the attentiveness and presence of mind he could bring to bear for that one, singular task of holding her close to him.

Heavens above, he didn't want this moment to end.

But end it did eventually have to, and after a length of time that Eitan couldn't begin to guess at, he felt Zemi's hands loosen from their hold around his back. In his arms, she squirmed ever so slightly. With a trace of reluctance flooding through his heart, Eitan unfolded his arms from around her back, allowing Zemi to step away from him.

It took several moments for Eitan to blink himself back into some measure of coherence. He had already blindly received the cloak Zemi presented him, and he quickly swung it over his shoulders, settling the hood over his head with familiar movements. He quickly tried to track through the things she'd told him.

Weapons. It looked like he wouldn't have to be a swordless knight after all. His fists clenched briefly, thinking about the simple iron sword he'd left next to his bed. How silly.

At least Zemi had thought to pack some.

Following after her obediently, Eitan once again momentarily stiffened as he felt Zemi tucking her hand onto the inside of his elbow. A moment later, and his other hand boldly reached around to overlap with her hand. There was no maid here to scream improper, no knight to glare him away, hand on the hilt of his sword. Just townsfolk, who couldn't care less about them.

Eitan moved his hand back a moment later, scared of accidentally chasing her fingers away from him.

But they were still touching.

It was good.

At the sound of Zemi's voice, Eitan turned his head to the side. She'd gone back to her normal face, which didn't take Eitan much by surprise. She'd never been able to fool him by changing her face, much to her disappointment when they'd been young. She'd also had to practice it more, since she wasn't as good at that as she was at hiding, so Eitan had seen it plenty.

He glanced away a moment later, chewing on his lips in worry. He wasn't overly good at lying. It wasn't that he wanted to be honest in particular. It was simply that it was hard enough for Eitan to keep the words straight in his head, and all the harder when he had to combine them with fake memories he didn't have.

"I'll try," he promised all the same. He was best at lying when Zemi asked him to, but even then he wasn't all that good at it. "I will. What are we going to be lying about?"
 
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