Evernight

Discussion in 'ONE ON ONES IN CHARACTER' started by keloryn, Aug 12, 2016.

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    People & Places

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    Evernight

    A dream prison built by one of the world’s most powerful sorcerers, Thalia, Evernight was designed as a prison to possess her greatest enemies and her incompetent son. In the heart of the land is Thalia’s fortress, a fine castle, built with a panorama of the surrounding lands. Heartbreaking, inspiring, something so wild, Evernight embodies equal parts nightmares and dreams and traps its prisoners in a perpetual dream-like state they can escape from. In the real world, nicknamed Green Reach, prisoners of Evernight lie in coma with the only known transport between the two realms being on the coattails of Thalia herself. In Evernight, magic is abundant and the landscape is crawling with life, both in creature and plant form. With its dramatic landscapes ranging from frozen tundra to enchanted forests to desert wastelands, there are wonders beyond human comprehension: fears waiting to be faced, magical beasts waiting to be conquered, lands waiting to be explored, skies waiting to be admired, wilderness waiting to be tamed.

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    Thalia

    A powerful sorceress, Thalia, whose immense power includes the ability to jump freely from one reality to another, makes her home in Green Reach, the same reality in which planet Earth exists. Creating her own realm made in the dreams of others, called Evernight, she has the ability to cast others in to a coma and forever trap them in her Evernight prison, but her power is never great enough to satisfy her greed. When a young maiden is announced to be wed the handsome prince, set to be king, of Doyle, jealousy strikes Thalia. Though her magic prevents her from killing people in cold blood, she casts the maiden into her Evernight prison. In an attempt to rid herself of the maiden once and for all, she sends her son, also trapped in Evernight, to slay her with the promise that if he does, he will be rewarded with his freedom to Green Reach. When her son inevitably fails his quest, not having the heart (or lack thereof) to drive his sword through the maiden’s heart, she sends her Watchcrew, a group of powerful and menacing magical creatures, in their pursuit, while she remains in Green Reach using every trick in the book to woo the prince and become Queen of Doyle.

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    Green Reach

    Green Reach is a nickname given to the realm in which Earth exists. Set in a Medieval era, Earth is wrought with castles, kingdoms, kings, queens, and wars. Magic exists in Green Reach and is abundant, but mostly useless. Most humans of Green Reach are entirely ignorant to its existence entirely. The kingdom of Doyle, with its prince set to marry a beautiful young maiden, exists in Green Reach, until inevitable tragedy strikes and the young maiden quickly begins to fall in to Evernight during her dream.



    Bestiary

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    Watchcrew

    The Watchcrew are cruel, silent hunters that take on a wolf-like form. They are extremely aggressive when approached, though it may be hard to spot one at first glance. A hybrid of animal and plant, Watchcrew can acquire nutrients by both hunting prey and photosynthesizing. They serve Thalia religiously and attend as her eyes and ears in Evernight when she is away, obliging her every wish and command. They move in packs, often three or four, though they rarely congregate in large groups. Different breeds of Watchcrew exist for the different climates to be found around Evernight, though no sub-group is believed to live in the Frozen North as there is too little prey and too little sun for them to survive on. They are extremely crafty creatures, able to speak a variety of tongues, and can be subdued by being asked a riddle they cannot solve. Be warned, there are very few riddles these ancient beasts have not heard.

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    Dragons

    About as fierce as one might expect, dragons spend most of their time hibernating in hidden away places, like burrows, caves, and even underwater. They are about as greedy as the lore has made them out to be, and will daftly pursue anything shiny or bright that catches their eyes. They come in a great variety of colours: blue, black, green, white, though this gives way to no differentiation in sub-group. All individuals look more or less the same in shape and form, though sizes are known to vary. Fearsome and mighty, the dragon is truly the ultimate predator, but incredibly susceptible to laziness. They aren’t often bothered enough to stir from their dwellings and slumber, least of all to pursue prey and generally sustain themselves on unsuspecting critters that pass by their caves and dens, making them more of an opportunistic predator than a classic predator. If, by chance, you annoy one great enough to make it wish to pursue you, you best kiss life goodbye… for nothing will stop a dragon when it has its heart set on a task except death. Only two have ever been slayed by human hands, though many more men have been slayed by dragons… countless, even. As they say: “Never laugh at live dragons” and truer words have never been spoken.

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    Oilers


    Oilers are most unusual creatures. Like butterflies, they have two sets of wings: anterior and posterior sets that span about two yards in length, though they are inky black and oily, which derives their names. They lack heads and instead have chemical seeking eyes peeking out from their sleek, hairless bodies, centralized primarily on their chest and shoulders. They are blind in a traditional sense, but use chemical signals to navigate and hunt. They click to communicate, like Morse code. They’re vicious predators, but usually hunt small game—rabbits, birds, and rodents and they, themselves, make for great meals because they are one of the few animals in Evernight that are not poisonous or liable to kill you before you kill them. They seem to enjoy following humans and other big animals. Though they rarely land, even sleeping while flying, they always travel in pairs: one above, one below. Such is the way of the Oiler.

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    Roc

    Considered one of the noblest animals in Evernight, the Roc are thought to represent what good remains in Thalia's heart. These coercive birds of prey easily dwarf most other creatures in Evernight, and is intelligent, strong, and just. They can see intentions and goodness in all living things around it and judge other living creatures based on what it sees. Win a Roc's praise, and it is humble enough to carry you upon its back and serve you loyally. Disgust it, however, and it will not rest until it has hunted you down. Roc are the only creature known to exist in Evernight that opposes Thalia, though they will not openly attack her, as they are intelligent enough to understand their origin. As one might imagine, Rocs are a dying breed, though those that remain can be hundreds of years old. They are solitary creatures and often come in shades of brown or tan.

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    Shivers

    Tall, spindle-like creatures, Shivers are ice-cold and only exist in the farthest Northern reaches of Evernight and reigns king in the frozen tundras. They're generally slow moving, but their incredibly capabilities to camouflage themselves amidst the snow and ice make them an apt predator, despite their lack of speed. They live on large territories and will never cross beyond the boarder of what they believe is 'their land.' Anything that wanders into their land, though? Why, they just happen to be fair game. Shivers, when hunting, will pick their moments carefully, then suddenly appear out of the snow and ice like a phantom to drag their prey away. They most kill their pray by crushing them with their powerful hands or freezing them to death. They have a tendency to hang their prey's bodies from trees until they are ready to eat, often hoarding huge stockpiles of frozen carcasses in a single tree. As one might suspect, they are incredibly liable to overheating and are scared of flame.

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    Wiverunners


    "Senseless predators" is a good way to describe the way of the Wiverunner. A powerful sprinter, the Wiverunner lives more then 90% of its life running, stopping only to rest, mate, and drink water. Sleeping in small doses of only five to ten minutes every few hours, the Wiverunners dominate the dry Dunes and terrorize other creatures with their powerful jaws and four rows of razor sharp teeth. They are known to kill for pleasure and will very rarely finish a carcass, leaving a trail of half-consumed bodies behind them. They travel in stampeding packs, and weighing in at nearly 1,500lbs per adult, it's not hard to hear them coming.

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    Abakers

    Distant cousins of the Wiverunners, Abakers are just as fierce, but live at a slower pace. They travel slowly for the most part, but are capable of short bursts of fast movement when hunting. They primarily hunt down small rodents and reptiles, like lizards and snakes, using the bright red 'crown' of feathers to lure prey, though they are certainly not opposed to consuming the half-eaten carcasses left behind by Wiverunners. Solitary animals, Abakers don't often travel in groups, though mated pairs come together twice a year for mating. Though their bite can be extreme toxic to humans because of the amount of bacteria in their mouths, Abakers's tough skin is often used for armor and leather products made by the Antropoes people. Their eggs contain a chemical compound that is a hallucinogen, and can be used as an anesthetic, though the Antropoes people will sometimes use it recreationally, as well.

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    Lilegif


    Similar to a griffon, the Lilegifs are a charming little woodland creature that do little besides zipping around and feeding on insects. As far as animals go, they're a bit low in the intelligence department, and survive as a species because of their flight alone. They often are solitary, but seem to enjoy flying with or around pairs of Oilers. They tend to be devious, and enjoy landing on the backs or heads of large creatures-- or, sometimes if they're feeling particularly frisky, pooping on them. The Antropoes often tame these creatures to keep as pets and while they can be eaten, they are so small, they provide little in the way of sustenance for anyone to eat. In terms of shape and colour, Lilegifs are almost all identical with a hazy chestnut coloured body that is fluffed with white chrome across their chest, bellies, and face and have the most miraculous healing abilities of all the animals in Evernight. Almost every appendage, with the exception of the head, cane be removed and will grow back.

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    Antropoes

    The only (known) humanoid species native to Evernight, the Antropoes are unusual little creatures who like heavy lagers, cuss words, and being crouchy. They tend to have foul attitudes, and even worse body odor, but are extremely adept at making armour, clothes, and taming animals of Evernight. They average about two feet high and have ashy skin with beak like noses and beady, yellowed eyes. There is nothing particularly attractive about these little creatures, but they're in love with anything that glitters and is precious (gold, silver, gems, etc). In exchange for favors, they are willing to craft clothes, armor, weapons, and tame beasts, though not without teasing their clients. Male Antropoes are especially keen on human females, and will eagerly and aggressively try to woo any one of them they come across. In terms of population, they live in small villages all across Evernight, though seem to be centralized throughout Tanglerot, Dry Grove, and the Ethereal Falls.

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    Ghadzi

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce vitae est dapibus leo luctus ultrices vel nec nulla. Pellentesque iaculis consequat leo, eget hendrerit magna vehicula faucibus. Maecenas euismod ligula erat, sed suscipit velit pharetra vel. Praesent dictum, enim id hendrerit aliquet, leo nulla interdum dolor, at sagittis est leo eu arcu. Morbi at metus in leo pellentesque scelerisque. Donec auctor a quam ac ullamcorper. Etiam vel rutrum nulla. Fusce molestie dictum faucibus. Ut vulputate est erat, a laoreet dolor porta eget. Duis sit amet porttitor nisi. Curabitur vitae erat tempor, aliquam diam volutpat, ultricies sapien. Curabitur vel nunc eros. Ut et porttitor felis. Integer rhoncus velit non turpis fringilla sollicitudin. Proin maximus metus lacus, sit amet placerat orci gravida sed. Cras id sem in ex posuere tristique. Curabitur eleifend turpis eget tortor tristique, eget ornare enim bibendum. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas.

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    Selk

    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce vitae est dapibus leo luctus ultrices vel nec nulla. Pellentesque iaculis consequat leo, eget hendrerit magna vehicula faucibus. Maecenas euismod ligula erat, sed suscipit velit pharetra vel. Praesent dictum, enim id hendrerit aliquet, leo nulla interdum dolor, at sagittis est leo eu arcu. Morbi at metus in leo pellentesque scelerisque. Donec auctor a quam ac ullamcorper. Etiam vel rutrum nulla. Fusce molestie dictum faucibus. Ut vulputate est erat, a laoreet dolor porta eget. Duis sit amet porttitor nisi. Curabitur vitae erat tempor, aliquam diam volutpat, ultricies sapien. Curabitur vel nunc eros. Ut et porttitor felis. Integer rhoncus velit non turpis fringilla sollicitudin. Proin maximus metus lacus, sit amet placerat orci gravida sed. Cras id sem in ex posuere tristique. Curabitur eleifend turpis eget tortor tristique, eget ornare enim bibendum. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas.

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    Shifts


    Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Fusce vitae est dapibus leo luctus ultrices vel nec nulla. Pellentesque iaculis consequat leo, eget hendrerit magna vehicula faucibus. Maecenas euismod ligula erat, sed suscipit velit pharetra vel. Praesent dictum, enim id hendrerit aliquet, leo nulla interdum dolor, at sagittis est leo eu arcu. Morbi at metus in leo pellentesque scelerisque. Donec auctor a quam ac ullamcorper. Etiam vel rutrum nulla. Fusce molestie dictum faucibus. Ut vulputate est erat, a laoreet dolor porta eget. Duis sit amet porttitor nisi. Curabitur vitae erat tempor, aliquam diam volutpat, ultricies sapien. Curabitur vel nunc eros. Ut et porttitor felis. Integer rhoncus velit non turpis fringilla sollicitudin. Proin maximus metus lacus, sit amet placerat orci gravida sed. Cras id sem in ex posuere tristique. Curabitur eleifend turpis eget tortor tristique, eget ornare enim bibendum. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas. Pellentesque habitant morbi tristique senectus et netus et malesuada fames ac turpis egestas.

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    Gofrees

    These unusually normal looking creatures are actually quite extraordinary. They are primary prey for a lot of predators, and survive using a combination of echolocation and infrared sensitive pit receptors that allow them to see heat signatures coming off possible predators. The sacks hanging from their chins can be flushed with blood to send heat coded messages to their herd, as they travel in groups of 12-17 individuals. They are exclusively herbivorous and they use fatty deposits around their body to store water, so they only have to visit watering holes once every few weeks. Primarily located in dry savanna, like the Dunes, Gofrees excel and paint the landscape by the thousands. Herds have been even known to travel into the forests and Outlying Territories and are extremely adept at adjusting to new vegetation and landscape.

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    Born a magic starved child to one of the most powerful witches known to the contemporary world (the locals call it Green Reach), Thalion Tel'Nair was more or less born a disappointment. He always attempted to live up to his mother's expectations, but for the witch Thalia, expecting to bore a powerful heir to her empire, her son's efforts always yielded less than impressive results.

    Determined to shape him into the successor she was so desperately in pursuit of, he was cast aside into a dimension created by Thalia the Great herself--Evernight. Until he honed his skills in combat (unlikely) or proven possession of magic (even more unlikely), Thalion must remain in Evernight until he either succeeds, or dies. The vicious and often violent world of Evernight has given him a great number of skills, and he has survived alone, since his thirteenth birthday, on his cunning, charismatic, and conniving nature.

    Cold and untrusting, though in a place like Evernight probably rightfully so, Thalion certainly does not proceed to fill the role of the knight in shining armor; however, when an unusual woman from the Green Reach drops into his arms (a bit more literally than he would have liked), Thalion must conduct himself by a code of ethics, even though he's not particularly renowned for his morals. After all, he isn't a dumb man, far from, and when he sees the young princess bewitched for the first time, he doesn't see a woman in distress... he sees a way out of his own mess. After all, if the rumors are true, human-witch hybrids, often called Wichons, are born without souls.

    Though who knows, maybe that weight in his chest is there for a reason... or maybe it's just heartburn.


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    One might've thought besting over a thousand eligible young maidens in an extravagant competition for the hand of a handsome prince would be something worthy of celebration. For Minette it was the beginning of a long and arduous nightmare. Forced into the arrangement by a father too eager to see his youngest daughter well suited, Minette found herself in circumstances she was quite unprepared for when the Prince, entranced by her beauty chose her for his bride and set in motion a catastrophic turn of events.

    Cursed, they said. In sleep, Minette would find herself in a land unfamiliar and terrifying, surrounded by the unknown. Upon waking, whatever injuries she sustained within the dream would find their place upon her person. For weeks this occurred with no understanding, and over time, Minette began to resist sleep altogether. It wasn't until this too began to effect her health that the resident apothecary began composing a sleeping draft, lacing it into Minette's nightly meals. Unable to resist, she turned instead to fighting the dreams... and trying with all effort to find a way to break the curse and free herself from Evernight.

    Greater forces are at work here than any could imagine, though. A Witch with a vendetta... a plan to take over the kingdom and all that stands in her way is a princess already consumed by a powerful spell. But often times expectations are easily shattered... for in these dreams, Minette is not alone. ​


     
    #1 keloryn, Aug 12, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 25, 2016
  2. The road so far: Read it here


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    His fingers curved around her own and somehow, Minette wasn’t as surprised by the gesture as she might have been, even a few hours ago. There was no question, even with the confusion they both suffered, he cared about her. And it seemed natural, now… as it never had before that he might take comfort in their closeness, as much as she did. For as hard and cold as he could be, he was still a good man, and a man… at all.

    What -did- come as something of a surprised was hearing him open up the way that he did. To hear him explaining so much about his past, as much as he could remember, “I like your eyes as they are…” She murmured quietly, her smile faint, but said. There was a quality about his gaze when he was in a good mood that brought to mind the warmth of a fire, or the sun before it fell beneath the horizon… flecks of gold, light and soothing.

    As he continued, she fell quiet and lowering her gaze, shook her head. It was always his mother - she was always the answer. For everything that had gone wrong in her life, in his life… She was responsible as well, it seemed, for his soulless misfortune. But unlike when he’d first told her, there was a quality of hope there that she recognized all too well.

    “If it’s out there, Thal… and I believe with my heart it must be, then we will find it and we will restore it. And then you and I… we’re going to take her down. Your mother. We’ll find a way, but we’re going to do it. Together… And you will never have to be alone again.”
    --

    “It must be so damaged though, don’t you think?”

    He was damaged because of Evernight-- in mind, body. He couldn’t even imagine what twisted state a soul would be in after being trapped in such a place. A part of him hoped he’d never have to see it again, because he was certain that it would break his heart to see something so warped and macabre. After all, she had taken his soul but not his heart and that was still very liable to being broken, though it had grown quite resilient and hard over the years, warped in its own unique way. A part of him wondered if there was any part of him left unbroken; he doubted it.

    “Hm, I like your optimism,” he said with a small shake of his head, still leading the way almost absent-mindedly as if was the simplest thing in the world to do. He knew intuitively where to go though he had only gone this route a few times. Perhaps he knew because he had a keen memory, but a part of him believed it had something to do with the fact that this place was his mother’s mind. Who better to figure out a parent’s mind than their own child? “Well, I’ll just let you be optimistic for us both, ‘cause right now we don’t have a single weapon between us and we’re running away from Watchcrew with limited supplies, gear that is now less than appropriate for what we’re going to face, and no clue in hell what we’re going to do.”

    They didn’t seem to have a plan besides ‘escape.’ The North would save them for a while, but for how long? How long before his mother would plunge after them even there, find them, and do what with them? He dare not think of it. “Who knows, maybe optimism can fight a war.”
     
    #2 keloryn, Aug 12, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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    "Damaged? Possibly... But it's out there, and that's what matters. We can get it back, Thal. And then there's nothing to stop us from taking her down. This is the best chance we have of putting and end to all of this." She understood, however, his hesitation. It was unnerving, the idea of something being gone for so long, being in the hands of someone so wicked, so cruel. His mother didn't care about him, not for anything, and if she wanted to, she could do unspeakable things to that soul she possessed... Getting it back, it was a long shot in and of itself, but there was no telling what condition it might be in. But they had to try...

    Wiping her forehead, she glanced upwards to the sun, climbing higher against the pale blue sky, heat bouncing off of the scorched, dry sand beneath her feet. His compliment didn't go unnoticed, but it was difficult to find much heart in the words. Optimism. A few days ago, maybe... but now? Everything seemed hopeless. Their best chance lay in a small miracle, and they had very little luck with those thus far. She wasn't giving up, not for anything... not now that her heart was open and vulnerable to him, but optimism seemed a bit of an overstatement.

    He continued, and his words were more in line with what she was feeling, which, oddly enough, brought a small smile to her lips as she shook her head, "Maybe it can't win a war, but I'd take a battle or two. At this point, anything that even feels like a victory would be beneficial." Their morale had sunken, severely, since they had left the falls, and little wonder, considering what they had come from. The simple truth was, she hadn't realized what she had to lose until they had come so brutally close. And now that it was all out in the open, it was difficult not to feel like it was inevitable. Optimism... It wasn't something she had, it was something she desperately needed to find, again...

    "...But she won't win." No matter how desperate things got, Minette was certain of that much, "We will defeat her, Thal. And I don't care what I have to give up, or where I have to go to make sure of that."

     
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    “Maybe,” he said with a shrug, but what good was a soul anyways? He didn’t even know what souls did or were… were they just floating energies that allowed him to possess certain emotions? If so, they sounded more pesky than they were worth. Emotions wouldn’t fight Thalia, especially those like sympathy, compassion, or love. A soul had never done anything for him, or denied him anything. In fact, he was confident he was a better soldier for it being lacked. He saw himself as a cruel man, a man whose only goal for over ten years could be summed up in a single word: survive.

    If there was anything he knew about his mother, it was that if his soul was still out there somewhere, it was beyond recognizable. Tarnished, broken, abused… it was probably worse off than he was. After all, he might have suffered under the hand of his mother, but at least he was free to roam Overnight at his pleasure. His free hand twitched at his side where it hung, humming deep and low in thought for just a moment. Truthfully, it was a moment of wondering whether or not he wanted his soul back at all. Once, it had felt like he was missing a piece of himself, but not anymore. The void was filled. With what? He wasn’t sure. It didn’t matter.

    Yet there he was, in a place he didn’t belong with people and creatures he didn’t really know, going on with his life and trying to be someone he wasn’t sure he wanted to be. He couldn’t even recognize who he was anymore, but sometimes he missed his old self sometimes. He missed Green Reach, missed the people, and the feelings he had back then. He hated it, he hated himself for it, and he didn’t want to keep missing those days like there was nothing wrong with him. There was a lot of things that weren’t how they should have been… he wasn’t the person anyone ever wanted or needed, he just was… Thalion. Sometimes, he wished he had just been everything his mother had hoped he would have been. He wished he could shed away those emotions like a second skin and forget the human half of him, because that would have been what was easiest.

    He sometimes wondered what his father would say if he had ever met his son. It wasn’t possible, of course. He was dead, sunk into the sea with ten iron weights.

    “Yea, I don’t know what to tell you,” he admitted finally, “I’m not sure we’ll be winning any battles any time soon.” It felt like he had badly stumbled. What Thalion didn’t know was how far he was destined to fall. “That’s sweet, but there isn’t much more left to give up between you and me. Aside from the clothes on our backs, all we really have left is our lives.” An unfortunate truth. Thalion didn’t even have his bow anymore. Instead, he had a chunk of half-chiseled out wood that vaguely resembled a bow.

    “Who knows, though. Maybe there are miracles, even in Evernight.”
     
    #4 keloryn, Aug 14, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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    Eyes moving to Thalion again, Minette shook her head, "If that's what it takes to free you from her..." She'd had half a mind not to say it. Not because she didn't mean it, but because voicing it aloud, saying it, it made the possibility seem so much more real. But all his life, he'd been on his own, he'd never had someone to care for him, and he had suffered... If she could do anything, if there was any sacrifice she could make, she would do it, if only because no one deserved to live their life so miserable and alone. Maybe it was a lot to ask of her, but it was something she was willing to give, if it meant he had a chance to live... to really live.

    She was raised a princess... and with that came certain elements of luxury. Her life, while less than thrilling, had nevertheless been fairly easy. She could only imagine all that Thalion had been through, and not just physically. IF she could help him, she would. She was determined, in fact...

    "Though as far as the clothes on our backs are concerned, it seems a bit late for that..." Her lip twitched upwards in a smile, soft, but teasing... something that felt so out of place, but all at the same time, desperately needed, "You've already seen me rather indecent, or did you forget?" It seemed so long ago, though it couldn't have been more than a day or two... It felt almost as if it had been a dream. A strange, but wonderful dream, one that had ended entirely too quickly. He'd said that there was a possibility they might make it back there some day, but it hardly seemed possible, now.

    Miracles. The falls had seemed like a miracle - but a bittersweet one. She wasn't giving up, though. Not yet. Not ever, if she could avoid it. There was too much at stake and they had been through more than their share of difficulties. Discouraged, maybe. But she was not defeated.... Whatever Thalia had up her sleeves, whatever she decided to throw at them, Minette would do whatever she could to hang on, to fight.
     
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    “I have not seen you in any such way, Minette,” he clicked his tongue at her in a tone that could almost… almost… be perceived as lighthearted. A small smirk rose the corner of his mouth, combined with the cool detachment in his eyes seemed almost Cheshire in nature, as if he was remembering a fond memory. The sand crackled below his boots as he walked swiftly on, his side still clearly giving him aches, but at least he was able to move without feeling like he was about to cripple to the floor below. The bruising from his side had leaked up his shoulder and neck, appearing just below the collar of his cape like a bad dream.

    Truthfully, he didn’t understand her sacrifice. It didn’t make any sense to him, seeing as she was probably the only one between them to have any sense of life worth living. He had made sacrifices for her to keep her safe, but it was a personal decision and he never expected the same in return. In his heart of hearts though, Thalion already knew. Perhaps he had always known, but it was he who had to face his mother… his ruler… his commander… his prison keep. He would either be freed of her, or not and he would die. Maybe he’d die either way. Maybe this was some kind of destiny, some kind of fate. All he knew was that he felt relaxed. The tension that had built in his shoulders eased and he was filled with a steady stream of confidence. Somehow, he already knew Evernight would be his tomb, but he was going to raise a little hell with every beat left in his chest.

    At the thought, a prickle—like the heads of needles—prodded at his fingertips and caused a shiver to race up his spine. A deep growl rippled through his chest in displeasure. Magic. He had spent every moment since their incident with the dragon pretending it had never happened at all… that he wasn’t magic, just like he always believed, and it had merely been coincidence. But it hadn’t. He could feel it in himself like a second heartbeat. Whatever had happened with the dragon had seeded within him his unnatural power and allowed it to blossom. It bounced around his innards almost uncontrollably, begging to be let out.

    He couldn’t be his mother. He simply could not.

    “Come, we must make good time,” he said, his voice slipping back quickly into his usual icy tone. Darkness hardened his eyes and the usual frown settled across his features. The air was dry and scratchy, the desert brutally hot as sand stung at his eyes and somehow managed to coat his nostrils and mouth. “The Watchcrew are closing in.” He didn’t know how he knew. He just… knew.

     
    #6 keloryn, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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    "Oh is that so? I must have been mistaken, but.. well, I was fairly certain it was you I was swimming with that morning. Hmm." He was teasing her, and she knew it well enough, and she might've had the good grace to find it absurd, except in reality she found it exhilarating. She'd thought when he had mentioned catching a glimpse of something beneath the water that she'd be upset or embarrassed, but the truth was, she hadn't minded nearly as much as propriety dictated. She was a young woman, and a lady first and foremost, but in Evernight, the rules were different... at best, they didn't apply at all. And there had been a certain element of enticement in those few moments of shattered privacy that she had rather enjoyed.

    Thinking back on it brought color to her skin, but not from any manner of mortification. Biting her lips he looked away from that jester's smile he wore and did her best to still the rapid pounding against her ribcage,the recompense of those memories. But it was all short lived - a moment later, he was back to his usual ways and as she often did, Minette found it in herself to tune her focus outward, to keep a wary eye on the path ahead of them. They had a long way to go, and she hardly thought those awful running creatures were the worst they might come up against.

    The Watchcrew. She had no doubt they'd show their faces soon. Thalion was too great a prize for them to waste time, and in their current stay, neither of them could put up a very good fight. They needed to get somewhere where they were on even ground, where the Watchcrew had as much to worry about as they did. Not that it was going to make life any easier for them, either way. What they really needed was a break, and she wasn't entirely sure that was coming any time soon. But survival wasn't all that mattered anymore. They had something to fight for - at least she did - and if the Watchcrew came, that motivation would need to be enough.

    It was another few hours beneath the sun, and exhaustion came quickly in the heat. But as the night began to cast her shroud across the sky, stars dangling like pinpricks against ebony, the temperature became to climb, and as a chill crept into the sandy air, they were met by the sight of an oasis - a small grotto surrounded by palms and dry, brittle bushes with a round, deep pool at it's center. Here, they stopped and dropping onto the sand, Minette sighed as she bent down to unlace her boots, tugging them free to inspect her ankle.
     
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    Fresh water. No sight could have been better on his eyes. He stopped by the pool that was lined with small shrub-like vegetation… the only thing remotely green he had seen in miles, though it was more of a brown-green than a true, lush green like they had seen back in Tanglerot. Still, it was a sight for sore eyes all the same. He plopped down next to the water and dumped his belongings to the side as he pulled his boots off. He first dipped his feet below the glossy, cool surface… then his hands. The water was splashed across his face and neck, desperately trying to cool the heat on his skin.

    Though he hadn’t burned, his skin had taken on a warm, burnt Sienna hue that had darkened the longer they stayed out in the sun. The scars along his arms and hands became more pronounced the darker his skin became, because they remained milky white. They danced all across his skin like stars on a dark sky, pronounced but in legions of indistinguishable numbers. It was impossible to tell where one ended and another began because there were just so many, yet he seemed to wear them somewhat prideful. So engrossed was he in the water he hadn’t noticed the small bugger creeping up through the sand alongside him. It was a Scorpion-looking creature, no bigger than a large coin. It scuttles across the sand and took its rest in the loose folds of Thalion’s boots that he had dropped.

    It liked it there, it felt dark and secluded. It waited with its stinger curled to its smooth exoskeleton as evening began to turn light into shadow. It was then that Thalion reached to grab his boots and the creature tumbled out and stung him on the hand. Already, he could feel the poison work through his system as he shot back in surprise, dragging his hand towards his chest. “Son of a bi--!” but he hadn’t even been able to finish his sentence before he grew dizzy. His eyes flickered a few times, dancing back and forth as his one clear image of the world around him became multiple fuzzy images, all lying on top of each other. He felt woozy, a bit nauseous as all rational thoughts escaped his mind, only to be replaced with the most absurd substitution.

    “Minette?” his voice somewhat sober, but quickly slurring. “I don’t--- ooh, I don’t feel so good.” He rolled on to the sand and chuckled a little, sprawled out and staring up at the stars. With every word he spoke, his words became a little more incoherent, a little more run together. Without reason, Thalion just burst out into laughter. It was painfully bright, delightful laughter, like that of a child who had just rushed down the stairs on Christmas morning to find the space underneath the tree now brimming.

    “Minenenenetttttteeeee—“ Somewhere in his subconscious, Thalion was still in there and he was hating himself, but it was like he had lost control of his body. Things were just being said… being done… like someone else was at the controls of his cockpit. “I think that meanie bobeanine momeaninie bit me!”

     
    #8 keloryn, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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    When they had been with the Antropoes, Minette had witnessed a new side to Thalion that she hadn't entirely anticipated. His love for the little creature's rather powerful drink had brought him to a place of near inebriation and had made him considerably more pleasant company, at least by social standards. But while he had spoken softer and been more inclined to acquiesce to her whims, he had still very much been himself. So when, rather out of the blue, he began to slur... his words pure gibberish, it didn't take much for Minette to recognize something was wrong...

    Or at least, something wasn't entirely right. Moving swiftly, she dropped down beside him as he flopped against the sand and frowning, she looked around for the source of whatever it was that might have attacked him. She found no creature, but the pricks against his hand were telling and shaking her head, Minette pressed her fingertips to the wound. It was warm to the touch, but not gravely so. Brushing her free hand across his forehead, she sighed, shaking her head.

    "Well... I don't imagine it'll do much good trying to ask you what that thing was... Hopefully it's gone, or I'm going to introduce the terror to the flat end of my boot..." What little sense he was making, and how quickly he'd devolved into nonsense was fairly telling. Instead, she turned away and reaching into his bag, pulled out the flask of water from the falls, "Here... Sit up, if you can. Drink this... It might not help, but it can't possible hurt to try."

    Fingers brushing back his hair again, she smiled, grimly, "We can't seem to catch a break, can we. Oh, my dear Thalion... Let's hope it doesn't get worse than this." Moving, she shifted in the bag again and pulled out the plants that she had gathered, plucking out a few he'd pointed out were good to stave off infection. Breaking one, she picked up his hand and gently brushed the bite with the sap inside.
     
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    “It was a… a… a Huffler-er-er-er-rus! Well… Hufflerus. Mmm,” he purred, breaking out into more laughter as he lolled his head back into the sand and tufts of dry desert grass. The Hufflerus was actually the little creature’s name and they were incredibly tricky little buggers. Their toxin was hallucinogenic and could be dangerous in large quantities, but a single sting wasn’t liable to life threatening. Gravely embarrassing perhaps, but not life threatening. In their pipes, the Antropoes liked to spike their smoking tobacco with a few drops of the Hufflerus’ toxin to give them a relaxed high, but the stinger Talion received was much more potent and immediate.

    It quickly poured into his bloodstream and worked its way through his brain and all of his nerve-endings until his entire body tingled. Suddenly, every laugh seemed like a better and better idea. The jokes around him got funnier and he became a comedian of epic proportions in his own head. He felt handsome, witty, and cool… there was a charming confidence in Thalion’s face as a smile that seemed so genuinely sweet with just a touch of shyness tugged the corner of his lips upward. “But I am not thi-thirsty, Minette,” he clarified, still lying in the sand but he had reached up and rested his hands loosely around her neck, right along the crease between her shoulders. His fingers were limp, his hands just sort of resting there in a gesture that could have most been perceived as affectionate.

    She stole his hand away and he frowned, though it was more closely looking like a dejected pout. Everything she did was much too quick, her hands moving impossibly fast and it took him up to the point where she pressed the herb to his hand to catch up with her mentally. “Iamnot…. dyiiiiiing,” he spoke with marked enthusiasm, his head flopping back to the sand, “Though this life feels like the color purple and that’s weird. This is all very weird n’ you’re weird, n’ I’m weird and screw Thalia n’….” he ended up giggling, a sound that could have softened all of Evernight, as if his gentle laughter could make a lamplight more golden and a fire burn warmer.

    “I like you, Minnett-ey n’ you wanna know somethin’? I’m— I’m going to die here,” he burst into laughter again, as if what he had said was the funniest thing in the world. He did barely manage to sit up, but his forehead just fell forward until it was resting against her shoulder. With his free hand not currently occupied by her incessant need to treat the sting wound, he rested it across hers, brushing his thumb along the back of her palm and watching the gentle movements.

    “Somethin’ just keeps tellin’ me that I’m gunna die here,” he mumbled, his words still slurred and disoriented, “But… but, but, but, but— it’s always for youuuuu.”

     
    #10 keloryn, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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    If he were able to separate from himself... to see himself from the outside, no doubt, Thalion would have been beyond embarrassed. It was overwhelmingly uncharacteristic, but terribly endearing, but for someone so bent on proving he was a soulless, frigid soldier, it would undoubtedly mortify him. Whether or not the water or the herbs would help, she couldn't know, but she made the effort anyway, and when she had finished, she reached to put everything away, only to find herself tugged forward by the weight of his hand on the back of her neck.

    Shaking her head, she smiled faintly, "No... no you aren't. But you know what, Thal? I'm going to take care of you, anyway. I need to... And I suppose that might make me a touch odd, but if it does, so be it. Though whatever purple feels like, I've no idea. I'll certainly echo your sentiments on that woman." And echo she did, with a soft laugh, though not nearly so unhindered as his own. She envied him, to a small degree... He seemed so free in that moment, and it was a lightness she could have used, desperately.

    As he straightened and dropped his forehead against her shoulder, she sank back with a small sigh, glancing down at her hand as he traced nonsense patterns against her palm, "I like you, too... Well, a bit more than that, I suppose... But the rest of that? It's pure foolishness. Darling, I won't allow it. In fact, I forbid it, and as a princess, I've quite a bit of pull, you know?" Curling her fingers through his, she gently nudged him upright, so she could see his eyes, studying them for a moment. Though hazy, they seemed focused enough, and that, she figured was encouraging enough.

    "...If you want to do something for me, Thalion... you know what you can do? You can live. You can live a long and happy life. I know as soon as you've snapped out of this you'll call the idea ridiculous, but it doesn't seem so silly, right now, does it?"
     
    #11 Elle Joyner, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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    “Shh, shh, shh.”

    It was a throaty murmur, his black eyes drilling into hers as she tilted his head back so they could catch each other’s gaze. Those eyes were midnight and raven’s wings. They were the type of darkness that wasn’t quire dark; they were sweet silence before dawn and responsibility— a stark reminder that darkness wasn’t always a bad thing. He blinked a few times as his irises quivered, looking between her gaze as she focused on him and proclaimed she wouldn’t allow it. Hogwash! What fate had written had been written.

    Fate was a cruel death, which was something Thalion knew first hand. They were the demons in his life, the ones that held onto his neck so tightly they squeezed the air out of him. Yet he figured that at least fate would get tired of suffocating, that its clutches would numb. Even so, love was powerful… even Minette’s affections almost had him convinced for a beat of a second. Love was powerful, but fate was unstoppable. Her fingers curled through his an the warmth of her palm pulsed through his slightly chilly skin. There were shivers forming up his arms— little goose bumps despite the fact that the sand was still giving off wavy images as heat poured off its surface.

    “Do—do what you think you must,” he began, dissolving into a quick chuckle, “And maybe… maybe your magic wand of princess-ness, that’sawordright?, will protect me… but if it doesn’t… then, well,” he cleared his throat, angling his chin back for a moment and closing his eyes as if trying to organize the thoughts in his head but no organization could be made of such a chaos. “Then well, you must absolutely go see the Antropoes and party with— oh, I’m so tired, what was I saying?” his speech continued to slur, “Oh! Right, you must go to the Antropoes village. Yes, yes, yes, you must! When I die, that is what you must do. Must! Minetteteterrr, you must!” he laughed. He wasn’t sure why he was laughing, but it felt funny.

    Like a little father had lodged right between his rib bones and was gently causing the muscles to contract with delight. Suddenly, the laughter stopped and his eyes snapped up to meet her, falling quiet again as he studied her face. There was something very obviously wrong with Thalion— his expression was too boyish, too soft, too warm. So much so that he almost didn’t even look like himself, though it was hard to exactly put a finger on what was different about him.

    “’Tis a shame I have no soul, I think I couldae lived a happy life with you.”

    He paused a moment, sitting back so he could look over to her again. “Minette… when did you grow a second head?”
     
    #12 keloryn, Aug 15, 2016
    Last edited: Aug 17, 2016
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    "Hm." It was a soft sound, a dry little laugh. The simple truth was, she had no real solution and while it was nice to pretend, she was well aware there was no magical authority she possessed to keep him alive. She stood a very real chance of losing him, and that was an intimidating notion. Whatever had bit him, it had happened so quickly, and right under her nose. It was that simple. This time, they had gotten lucky and it wasn't something worse, but the chances of that happening again were so rare. Too many times no she'd come too close... and as long as they continued to run, Thalia was going to continue to come after them.

    "The Antropes? Something tells me I won't fair so well with them, without you, Dear Heart. I certainly don't imagine Fal would behave himself. But I suppose I'd be better off there than with a dragon. But it won't come to that. I won't let her have you..." In truth, it was a terrifying though, that she might ever need an alternative plan, should something happen to him. They'd gone through so much, but there was a very real chance someday she might be on her own and knowing that her only other hope resided in those tiny, strange creatures was a big of a difficult grasp...

    As his laughter died out, she looked up to meet his gaze again, frowning softly at the odd look in his eyes. So many sides, so many layers... she had doubts that even Thalion would recognize this one. It was a shame, really, because she could imagine that this might be who would be, had Thalia not interfered. Had he been permitted a normal life, a good life. And there was nothing in that moment that Minette would not have given if it were at all possible for her to find a way to give that to him. To make that buoyancy a permanent part of him...

    He spoke, and she raised a hand to brush her thumb across his cheekbone, shaking her head, "It's out there. And we're going to find it, and restore it. But even if we can't figure out how to do that... even if we fail and never locate it, as far as I'm concerned, you're a part of me now, Thal... You can have mine. It wouldn't be worth much without you, anyway." Her lip curved in a smile and she sank back again, shaking her head, "...But I definitely only have one head, still... I'm not sure you could handle two of me."
     
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    The warmth of her hand fell across his cheek and burned better than the sun in the desert, but it was a tingling, pleasant warmth. The dizziness of whatever toxin was wreaking havoc on his neurons was causing his vision to go fuzzy and blurry, giving Minette the distinct appearance of two heads. His irises wobbled a little and he blinked hard, letting his head gently fall against the cradle of her hand for support. His stomach lurched uncomfortably and if he had anything to throw up, he might have. Thankfully, they had eaten and drunk so little that day, his stomach was too empty and just sort of churned uncomfortably.

    Thankfully, the sensation was short-lived and he was quickly feeling better again. His eyes snapped open, looking across to her with a radiant smile. “Then that’s what we’ll do,” he remarked, “Maybe it is somewhere out there. Maybe it is worth findin’.” There was such a blatant optimism to him that wasn’t usually there. He was bright and smiling and he looked genuinely happy for the first time in… god, he wouldn’t have even known how long. He wasn’t even sure what was making him feel so happy, but he felt it. It bubbled through him like carbonation in mead. “Maybe it’s not completely broken; maybe I’m not completely broken yet.”

    Suddenly, he darted up to his feet, wobbling for a moment as he reached for the hem of his shirt and slipped it off, tossing it to the sandy side. The wind tugged it around for a while until it tangled up on a particularly wiry patch of desert grass. “And now!” he proclaimed in a loud voice, “We swim!”

    Thalion struggled to get his left boot off, though his right had come off easy. He had nearly tripped himself trying to get it off, but he finally managed to pull his feet free and both boots went flying off in opposite directions, hitting the sand with a ‘thump.’ He stripped down until he was in nothing but his knickers and promptly did exactly what he said he was going to—he waded deep into the water. It wasn’t particularly deep, perhaps four feet at the center of the pool, but it was enough to allow him to submerge entirely. The matting of scars vanished and his skin could only be seen in small suggestions as the water played tricks with the fading light.

    “Oh, Minette! Minette one, and Minette two! You should come swiiiiiiim!” his tone was sing-songy. Genuinely sing-songy. He flicked a bit of water at her, though he was too far for it to reach.
     
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    Whether or not it lasted, it was nice... for the time being, to hear him so encouraging, to hear him so optimistic. If nothing else, it was a powerful view of how he might have felt when she offered the same to him, a reminder that he needed that from her, because getting it in return was immensely helpful. It made her believe, made her want to believe that anything was possible. That they could find and restore his soul, that it would be the key to taking down Thalia and getting them both home. That it would change everything for the better.

    "You're not broken, darling. You'll only ever be broken when you give up... and even then, I won't, not ever. I'm going to fight for you, even if you're completely fed up with it all and ready to quit. I'm going to save you..."

    By the time he rose, she was feeling increasingly more uplifted - but even in her state of elation she hadn't quite expected him to rather suddenly start disrobing. Wide eyed, she watched as she stripped down to his undergarments and as he started for the water, a small smile quirked as he sunk deeper into the pool, calling out to her with a spirited hum.

    Breathing out a soft laugh, she shook her head and rising, made a face, "Turn around..." Though whether or not he did, she didn't frankly care. It was darker out now, and it wasn't as if she believed he hadn't caught a glimpse of her already, as it was. Peeling out of her clothing, she made for the edge of the pool and down into the cooling depths, sinking beneath it for a moment, savoring the feel on her dry, sun-bruised skin. When she emerged, she waded closer and carefully circling him, smiled, "...It'll be just my luck... you probably won't remember any of this in the morning."
     
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    Thalion smirked that dangerous little smirk, but ultimately obliged and turned around so his back was to her, though he had sunken into the pool considerably. He was buoying along so deep that his nose was just barely above the water, but he could feel the quiver of droplets with every inhalation he took. He was much too tall for only four feet of water, but his knees and hips bent easily, as if without gravity, in the suspension of the water. His arms were out to either side, gently undulating forward and back to keep him stationary.

    It was only when he heard the splash of her feet did he finally glance back over his shoulder. The tips of his hair were wet, caking against his neck and his shoulders as he moved. She quickly approached him, circling around him once. “Are you defiling my innocence, Minette?” he asked with a bite of sarcasm and that same Cheshire smirk from earlier. “Preying on me when my brain is all La-la-la?” he made a spiral design with his finger, which obviously represented the state of his brain, though all he really served to do was to send droplets of water scattering everywhere.

    After baking in the desert all day though, the water certainly felt nice. Sure, the water was hot, almost uncomfortably so, but it soothed the aches in his joints and the soreness in his skin. The muscles in his face and shoulders relaxed for the first time since they had encountered the dragon. Suddenly, in his drunken state of mind, his magic didn’t seem quite so scary. Carefully lifting his left hand above the surface of the water, he tried to replicate the sensation he had experienced with the dragon. He had been so… angry… maybe even a little sad, but there was something more to it. The intensity of his emotions had driven him to discovering his magic, but it was the concentration of his energy that allowed him to use it. It was the fact that he was relaxed that allowed the little bubble of water to rise from the surface and hover above his palm.

    There wasn’t any flair: no light, no sign magic was being used… nothing extravagant except for the fact that a perfect little ball of water, maybe the size of a chicken egg, was hovering just millimeters off the tips of Thalion’s fingers. With ease, the little bubble hovered then drifted off, floating until it was just above Minette’s head and… Pop!

    The bubble immediately exploded and rained down a small shower of water right over her head, which was enough to draw a delightful, full-belly laugh from Thalion. “Maybe it’s your luck I won’t remember, but it’s my luck that I have magic.”

    Just his luck… good, bad, he hadn’t decided.
     
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    "Defiling your..." Feigning indignation, Minette pushed back a ways, shaking her head at him, "I'll have you know, Thalion, that I am a properly trained lady. Besides, you're the one who was gawking at me when we were in the falls." A soft laugh melted away the expression on her face and settling her toes down into the soft sandy bottom of the pool, she watched him, "And at any rate, you might be a bit addled, but you've stopped slurring, at least, and I take that to mean it's wearing off. Not that I know anything about these miserable creatures. There's just too many of them. It's really honestly not fair. How anyone can keep track..."

    He raised his hand and with a curious gaze, she witnessed the small bubble form, a brow quirked at the ease with which he performed. He'd been so afraid, after the dragon, and she had been so sure he would do everything in his power to avoid using magic again, but there he was, showing off... fiddling with it like a brand new toy. It was both endearing and a little intimidating. Magic was something that was so far out of her comfort zone, something so alien to her that she was sure even if she spent the rest of her natural life with Thalion, she would never fully understand it.

    Glancing upwards as the egg positioned itself over her head, her eyes snapped back to Thalion and she opened her mouth to speak before it popped, raining water down on her head. With a scoff, she splashed a small wave at him, speaking with that same pretense of insult, though with far too much humor in her tone to be taken remotely seriously, "Oh! You devil! You're just terrible! And after I took such good care of you... Shame on you."
     
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    “A devil!” he laughed back at her, his entire body rocking back with laughter as it lit up his face. “Me!? A devil!? Minette… please… never!” but he ended up dissolving into even harder laughter as she swatted at the surface of the water and a small wave sprayed him the face and wetted his hair. The toxin was already beginning to be metabolized, evident from the way his words seemed more coherent than before, but the joy still lingered. There wasn’t a poetic way in the world to describe the life in Thalion’s face: he just seemed happy. As simple and straightforward as that.

    Swiping the damp locks from his face, he looked back to her and the mischievous grin softened into a warm smile. “You did take pretty good care a me, I agree,” he explained, sinking deeper into the water again and swimming up towards her. This time, he didn’t take advantage though and just simply twisted a section of wet hair away from her forehead and tucked it behind her ear. “You— Minette, are a wonder. Too good for lil’ ole me, truly!” with a bestowed kiss right to her left temple, Thalion pulled himself back on to the shore and shook off the excess water before reaching for his cloak and using it to try himself off. Ultimately, he ended up hanging the damp oiler skin cloak from his shoulders and collapsing down on to the grass.

    It wasn’t soft. in fact, it was dry and sort of prickly, but the minute his head head a horizontal surface, he felt sleepy. The toxin was settling deeply into his neurons and exhaustion grew into his bones like a weed in summertime. “I think,” he said, yawning, “I should… I should sleep.” Not only had the toxin been exhausting him, but the magic too had taken a little out of him— even something so small as a small bubble of water. He wasn’t trained and certainly had very little understanding in how it worked. Come morning, he was bound to be mortified of all and everything he had done.

    “You should… you should rest, too,” he murmured softly, his eyes already beginning to slip close as he pulled his cape more entirely around himself. “Too good, too good…” were the last words out of his mouth before the heat in the air wicking the moisture off his skin was just enough to tip his tired body off to sleep.
     
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    There was a flickering moment, there in that pool in the darkness, when Thalion came close and brushed the hair behind her ear, pressed his lips to her forehead that Minette could have sworn the world stood entirely still, from the beating of her heart to the crisp breeze. It was him and her and no one... nothing else in all of Evernight. No monsters, no Thalia, not a breath in the air but their own. He swam away and the moment passed, but not the feeling that came with it. In a thousand years, that feeling would not fade.

    Too good for him. Maybe it was true, at least to some degree. Maybe on some basic level, where understanding was a simple think and complexity of depth and emotion didn't exist. Where what a person deserved was dictated by action and not by the heart - where who a person was, no matter their circumstances, defined them. Maybe it was true. But to Minette in that moment it couldn't have been further from the truth. How many times had he put himself in harms way for her? How many times had he risked everything to keep her safe? Being there, even now, he was defying his mother, defying her will... all for a girl who he knew but a few weeks.

    If either of them was lacking, it wasn't Thalion. He deserved only the best, and until now he had been denied even a modicum of that. It was tragic and wrong, and if there was anything she could do about it, she was going to try. Her heart was fixed on it - set on it - determined... and if was the last thing she ever did, she would find a way to bring him some happiness. Even if it was just a wisp...

    He fell back against the sand and within minutes was asleep, and as Minette pulled herself free and dressed she sank down beside him, watching as peace settled across his features. In the morning, all would resume again. The toxin would be flushed from his system, a mere memory and it would be back to their journey, back to the harrowing, dangerous course towards the frozen north...

    Laying back on her arms, she stared up at the star dappled sky and sighed, softly. So much had happened over the last few days, so much had changed... and the weariness she felt ran deep into her soul, but there was something new there - a fire... raging, roiling within her that was building, steadily. Thalia might win. There was a strong chance of that, if only because they were on her terms... But she would not win, uncontested. Minette would fight. To the last breath within her, she would fight.
     
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    It was a barking cough that woke him. At the end of each cough, it had that whistling sound one would get when their airways were closing up. They were coming thick and fast and he was struggling to get enough air. Doubling over, Thalion’s stomach hit the sand and he rose up on just his hands enough to curl his spine and continued to cough. He shivered violently in the humid morning, just before the sunrise. Now that his stomach had stopped lurching, he merely felt bruised inside. Falling back belly first to the sand, he took a moment to heave and breathe. What had happened to him?

    His hand ached and he turned it over, seeing the familiar triangular shaped sting on the back, right between his first and second knuckle. The wound had bruised but the wound was minor, and with an annoyed sigh, he let his hand roll back to a more comfortable position. Hufflerus, unmistakably. He had been stung by one only once before and it had nearly killed him as he had tried to make friends with a Roc. In his drunk and bumbling state, the animal was not amused and had nearly (in the process) ripped his head cleanly from his shoulders. Luckily, Fal had been nearby and had come just in time to shoo him away to safety. It was the toxin hangover, however, he remembered most clearly.

    His cape slipped down his shoulders and pooled at the center of his waist, revealing the powerful muscles across his shoulders and back clenched with discomfort. Waves of heat coursed through his blood and a cold sweat glistened on his gaunt features. His eyes seemed ringed with darkness and his skin sallow. Everything ached, everything felt like it weighed a hundred pounds. The pool of water stared at him from a few feet away and he barely managed to scramble up to his feet so he could go over and take a sip. Everything was getting a little better until he turned back to pull on his trousers and shirt when his eyes grazed across Minette.

    He was mortified, frozen to the spot. He felt traumatized. Blushing would have been no problem, but what he did was go as red as a beetroot and radiate heat like a hot pan. She could have cooked a three course meal on his face had she been awake (thankfully, he didn’t think she was). Dear lord, what had he said to her? Better yet, he wasn’t sure if he did, or didn’t, want to remember. Tugging a hand through his hair, he hastily dressed. There was no rescue from his embarrassment. It was absolute. Torture. Utter humiliation. He didn’t even know what he had said or did, but he knew it couldn’t have been good. How could it been? Fat had told him all about the last time he had been stung…

    What if he…? Oh. Oh. What if she hated him? Well, that was probably for the best. God damn Hufleruses. The only problem with the name ‘Huffleruses’ was that it was awfully hard to curse that name and sound serious.