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Bright Lights

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51Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:28

"He told me to run, so I did." I respond, my fingers tracing the dark lines sparked across his chest absently. "But I ran right into more of them. There had to have been a dozen of them, there were so many of them. They knocked me down, but I don't remember how, I just remember seeing Marnin covered with them down the alley. 

"They were kicking me when I grabbed one, though, and I remember distorting him." I say a bit more vibrantly, as though I'm proud of the memory. "It pissed one of them off, because he grabbed me up and was screaming in my face in whatever language when-"

Hesitant, I look away from Lavellan as I shrug, "I just thought of you, in that fucking hallway, daring me. So I used that spell, and it knocked them all off, but after that it starts to get fuzzy..." I frown. "I remember Marn running up to me,and someone taking him down but... Nothing after that."

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52Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:34

"We'll get you using your magic again, don't worry," I sigh as my fingers return to tracing the curve of her shoulder again. "That way you won't have to rely on the man in black to keep you safe if something like that happens again."

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53Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:37

"It's not that it wasn't there to use..." I frown, shifting against him as I watch the lines in his skin react to my touch, "But with Marn so close... I just got scared. Scared that it'd scare him again, or that it'd hurt him. It's like I froze."

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54Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:42

"Do you think you could have handled them if he hadn't gotten in the way?" I ask curiously. Before she can answer, though, there's a sharp crack and the crumbling of plaster - like someone's punched the wall somewhere out in the hallway. I frown as I hear heavy feet hurrying away and the clatter of something hitting the floor before I glance back at Ljuba uncertainly.

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55Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:46

Confusion twists my features as I crawl over Lavellan and to my feet, stumbling slightly from the haze of both drugs and magic before grabbing his coat to wrap around myself. Pulling the door open, I lean out into the hall, frowning at the mess of plaster dust and... A cane.

"Fuck, no!" I whine, stepping out into the hall to grab up the cane before I hurry forward towards the stairs, but the sound of the door downstairs slamming shut is enough to make my heart drop. 

I can't help the panicked tears as I rush back into the apartment for clothes, entirely oblivious to Lavellan sitting up near the bed as he watches me.

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56Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:48

"Marnin..?" I ask after a moment, a tight frown pulling at my lips as I sit up to put my own clothes back on - though I'm less hurried about it than the distressed woman scrambling for hers.

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57Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:53

"Mhmm." I nod anxiously, shoving his coat off before I twist to find whatever I can get my hands on - which happens to be a dirty slip and woolen sweater - tugging it on frantically. 

"Fuck," I curse as I struggle to get the sweater around the collar, my fingers fumbling to work the fabric around some of the mech near my shoulder as the numbness in my fingers registers for the first time.

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58Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 5:57

"You could make him forget," I offer half-heartedly, not really sure what to do with this situation. It was hot imagining getting caught, but now that we have been... it's a little stickier than I was willing to deal with. And, dare I say, a little crueler than I'd really committed to putting the man through... I've always enjoyed the fun of our little cat and mouse game, but in reality, I actually like Marnin. I hadn't meant to land any real blows to him.

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59Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 6:00

I only look at Lavellan, finally fixing the sweater as I pull it down around me and take the cane back in my hand. 

"Just-" I sigh, shaking my head as I slip on the only pair of shoes I have since losing my others at the hospital, not bothering to lace them as I head for the door. "No." I snap, rushing into the hall as I hurry to the street.

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60Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 7:02


My anger has faded long before I find myself standing numbly in the foyer, listening vacantly to the expansive emptiness of the house that hasn't felt like home in so long. There's an odd kind of peace that's come over me, like the last breath of mourning as acceptance finally sinks in. I failed Ljuba in that alley, like I've failed so many others in the past decade. My mother. Mel. Cliodhna. Jon and John. Richard...

Much as I've tried to pull it all back together, I've finally accepted that I just can't. There are too many pieces missing. I'm not even aware of where my feet take me as I roam through the house, cleaning up the mess from our failed dinner in the kitchen, changing out the record in the sitting room, and gathering and preparing a few things before I wander out to the garden.

We've moved far enough away from the port now that a cool breeze finds its way through the leaves of the trees, bringing with it the calming memories of a youth spent on this very bench. I would have liked to have seen the garden, like Ljuba had promised, something that leaves a dull ache in the pit of my chest. The feeling coaxes me to pull the pad of paper into my lap - the same thick parchment I had used for Ljuba's instruction manual. I hesitate for a moment, a thousand things vying to be put down on that piece of paper, but none of them will come. Instead, the pen scratches across the parchment, almost of its own accord, a single sentence bleeding onto the page.

I put the paper aside, placing the pen beside it carefully before turning my attention back to the garden as I tuck a hand in my pocket. My eyes close as I listen to the wind again, breathing deep the scent of the flowers and the damp earth, the only place in the world I'd take with me if I could. I barely feel the bite of my needle in my arm as I find myself humming to the record playing in the sitting room inside the house, the music so close to masking the sound of footsteps and the call of, "Marn??" from the foyer.

The stab of sorrow her voice elicits is the last thing I feel as the plunger sinks under my thumb, and the garden is left behind.

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61Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Tue 24 Jan 2017 - 23:40

I'm running on fumes as I rush into the foyer, my heart aching from it's panicked racing. Despite the music filtering from the living room, the house is eerily quiet. 

"Marn??" I call out, heading towards the stairs that lead into the basement to see if I can hear anything, but it's impossible over the sound of music. "Marn, please," I cry softly as I abandon the basement to go cut off the stereo. Nearing the kitchen I notice the rustling of plants in the sunroom, and when I stick my head through I'm relieved to find the garden door open. 

The music is forgotten as I step through the sunroom, already coming up with a string of apologies as I step out to find Marnin perched heavily on the bench. Guilt wrenches at my insides at his hunched posture, and I approach him slowly should he tell me to get away. 

"Marn, I'm so sorry," I say quietly, but my next thought is stuck in my throat as I realize something peculiar about him. "Marnin...?" I breathe the name as I round the bench to see his head hanging limply, a broken sob shaking through me at the needle in his arm. 

"No, NO!" I yelp, nearly falling over myself as I come to jerk it from the crook of his elbow, throwing the syringe away angrily as I cradle his face in my hands. "Marn, no, wake up, c'mon!" I urge, pressing my head to his chest before returning my attention to trying to stir him. His stillness unnerves me, and the weight of his body as he seems to shift over only worsens my crying. 

Looking up, I can see Lavellan standing stone-still at the open door to the sunroom, a breathy sob of relief shaking me as I reach out to him.

"You have to fix him!" I cry out, clumsily holding him as I kneel before the bench, "Come on!"

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62Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 2:29

"Lju," I frown, coming forward hesitantly, my gaze fixed on the quiet stillness of the man stooped on the bench. There's nothing left of him. I could feel it even before I'd stepped into the sunroom, before I'd even passed through the eerie emptiness of the foyer. The house, Marnin's body, the spirit has left them both as nothing more than an void space.

"Lju," I say again, more gently this time as I put a hand on her shoulder. "He's gone. There is nothing left to fix - he's left this world."

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63Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 2:45

"No, you're wrong," I say forcefully, reaching back to grab his wrist as though I can force his touch to heal Marnin, "Just do it, fix him!" I practically scream as I cradle Marnin awkwardly in my arm, still pulling on Lavellan hopelessly.

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64Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 2:52

I only frown as she forces my hand to the man's lifeless body. I make no effort to stop her, a sad frown on my lips as I watch her silently for a moment.

"Ljuba," I start before sighing heavily. "What power I have over the dead would not give you back the man you care for. I could revive him. I could. But he wouldn't be Marnin anymore. Marnin has already let go of this body. He's gone, Ljuba... and he's not coming back.

"But if you ask me," I frown starkly as I drop down into a squat beside her, my hand coming up to touch her back gently. "I will do as you ask. But I want you to ask yourself before I do, is that what Marnin would want?"

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65Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:08

Lavellan's words settle over me with a sickening sense of understanding, my body unable to stop the sharp sobs that shake me to the core as I sink to the ground completely. I can't stop touching him, my hands moving over his front as I smooth the fabric of his shirt over his lifeless chest, the tips of my fingers gingerly inspecting the bruises and scrapes on his face from the alley I'd last seen him in. 

The man still squatting beside me is forgotten as I whisper softly to Marnin, apologies blurring into promises before I lean in to kiss his lips softly.

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66Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:15

I frown as I watch her for a moment before tearing my gaze away to give her some privacy. Spotting the note on the bench, I glance at Ljuba before subtly palming the note and shoving it into my pocket out of view. My thoughts then turn to what comes next, the first dregs of a plan forming as I give Ljuba a moment to say her good-byes.

"Ljuba," I whisper after a few minutes of listening to her broken sobbing. "I'm sorry, I know this is difficult... but we have to go. Soon."

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67Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:18

My fingers are coming through Marnin's hair as I whisper to him, Lavellan's statement tearing my attention from him as I look up to Lavellan with a pinched expression. 

"We can't leave him here," I say brokenly.

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68Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:24

"We won't," I respond, reaching down to squeeze her arm - both to comfort her as well as coax her to get up. "We'll tell Richard - or John - someone. But not until we're on the airship."

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69Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:26

"What?" I can barely even breathe the word as he guides me unsteadily to my feet, my gaze searching his for some sense to what he's said.

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70Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:31

"The airship," I repeat, frowning starkly as I brush her off. "To leave Skycrest. We can't stay here. As soon as Richard finds out about this... Ljuba, the facts won't matter. He'll kill us both, then bring us back just to do it again. I've seen it... that man you met at his house, Jonathan? He's been dead for five years. Richard has been playing with him like he's a fucking toy because he hit Marnin once."

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71Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:53

Inhaling shakily, I look back at Marnin's lifeless form as another wave of tears hits me. Still, no more sobs wrack through me as I wipe at my face tiredly. I don't want to leave. Marnin, nor the city, but that doesn't matter. I know that Lavellan knows that. 

I'm exhausted as I nod weakly, my arms wrapping around my front in a weak attempt to comfort myself. 

"So, back to my place then... Yours?" I ask vaguely, sniffling to try and even my tone. "Then leave..?"

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72Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 3:56

"No," I frown, shaking my head as I put a hand on the small of her back as we start back toward the house. "I have a bag hidden at the dock. We'll grab that and go."

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73Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 4:00

The pressure of his hand grows as I stop walking, shaking my head as I look up at him pleadingly. 

"I have to go back," I whine, "I have to, I don't even care about clothes, but Bea!" I inhale jaggedly as I reach out to grab his other hand, squeezing it tightly as I try not to dissolve into tears, "Those pictures are all I have of her, please."

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74Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 4:07

"No," I say firmly, my tone not leaving any room for argument. The tears welling in her eyes only leaves me with a flicker of hesitation as I sigh in frustration. "Ljuba, I've been planning for this day for fifteen years," I frown as I squeeze her hip gently. "It's not worth getting caught to go back for them. I'm sorry. We cut and run, no looking back. It's the only way we make it out in time."

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75Bright Lights - Page 3 Empty Re: Bright Lights on Wed 25 Jan 2017 - 4:19

My grip on his hand loosens as I pull away from him to wipe at my cheeks, burying my face in my sweater as I cry. The jolts of pain as I rub roughly at my marred cheek do little to dissuade me, though they do leave me feeling tired and light headed. Just inside the sunroom where we'd stopped, I look around at a loss, the sight of him still hunched on the bench outside bringing forth a strangled sob as I shake my arms at my sides. 

Before Lavellan can intervene, I start going down the shelves of the sunroom, pinching off lengths of plants right and left as they begin to form a bundle in my hand. It's a frantic task, my hands shaking as though I expect him to stop me at any moment, but he only seems to watch me as I twist the herbs and flowers into shape before pinching off and adding more. They'll need to be dried properly, but for now the makeshift bundle will work. 

I don't wait for Lavellan as I dip through the keeping room and through the kitchen, heading straight for Marnin's office.

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