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Bright Lights

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76 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:25 am

I'm growing anxious as I follow her, pausing in the foyer to wait for her. The longer we're here, the more I feel as though Richard's specter is looming over us, waiting to strike at any conceivable moment. To add to my discomfort, I'm woefully aware of the void Marnin's departure has left in his little corner of the world. It's a sensation I'm familiar with - that inexplicable stillness left by death's presence - but when it's left by someone like Marnin..? Death may be the closest thing to a deity I have, but unlike the other faithful people of the world, I have no desire to stand so closely to my patron.

"I want to leave," I call into the office stiffly, my hand dipping into my pocket to crumple the note Marnin had left on the bench beside him.

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77 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:34 am

All I've done is stand over his desk since entering the room, my eyes raking over all of his notes and scribbles and trinkets as I wonder how many unfinished projects he'd left here. Lavellan's voice breaks my reverie, though, and I nod as I look back towards the door. 

Perched near the pen cup, in hues of brass and leather, a mechanical bug he'd shown me only a couple weeks ago. Concerned he wasn't getting the various wings right, it'd been one of his longer works in progress, but even unfinished the brass bee is impressive. Without a second thought, I grab the bee and tuck it into the sleeve of my sweater, unwilling to find out if Lavellan would be amenable to my taking anything from Marnin's office as I step back out into the foyer. 

"I'm ready," I say thickly, heading towards the door past Lavellan as a weight settles in my chest. It feels wrong leaving, but the gentle presence of Lavellan's hand coming to rest against my back is enough to keep my legs moving.

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78 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:44 am

A heavy silence falls between us as we walk, my hand steering us toward the docks. Despite the silence, it isn't uncomfortable; instead, it carries the kind of weight coming to terms carries. I know Ljuba has far more on her mind regarding Marnin than I do, though I can't deny that I'm grateful to have a purpose to focus on as I lead the way to our escape route.

"Here," I say once we've reached the docks and I open up an old locker to pull out a long coat with a hood. It's too big for her, but at this point, she's more recognizable than I am - or will be, shortly. "Keep the hood up," I say as I pull another coat from the locker, pulling it on and zipping it up before I grab a pair of glasses out as well.

"There are gloves in the pockets," I say to the inside of the locker as I pull my own on before grabbing the large duffel bag and slinging it over my shoulder. "Keep them on, and don't use any magic. Don't even talk about it. We'll get off the ship at the third town we fly over. It should put us far enough away that we can find a ride somewhere."

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79 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:53 am

The coat he's handed me swallows me as I adjust the hood over my head, the metal bee slipping into one of the pockets as I dig out the gloves and pull them on. It's difficult as I realize, finally, that the numbness wasn't my imagination and that half of the fingers on my right hand have no sensation whatsoever as I struggle to get the fingers of the glove right. 

"I can't feel my fingers," I say softly as I look up at him, the softness of the vox tangling oddly with the breathiness of my own as I reach up to touch my fingers to my face, "I don't have my mask..."

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80 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 3:56 am

I don't say anything at first as I step forward to pull the hood lower, my hands finding their way to her cheeks as I frown. We can't go back for it, I remind myself as I lean in to place a kiss on her unscarred cheek.

"We'll manage," I say quietly before taking her hand so I can squeeze the fingers she's complaining about. I frown as I use my magic to feel the damage - damage that I can't fix, not now that the injuries have been healed. "But you can move them?"

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81 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:22 am

I wiggle my fingers in his hand as I shrug, having to look down to see if they're responding. 

"I guess so," I say as I squeeze his hand, anxiously adjusting the hood over my face with the other as I look past him into the mess of people moving about the docks.

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82 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:25 am

"Then we'll manage that, too," I respond before turning to head toward the docks, her gloved hand still in mine as we move to the ticket booths. I barely give the screen a cursory glance before ordering two tickets for a random city, nodding my thanks as I shove my money toward them and take the tickets.

"We need to get you a passport," I say quietly as we join the line boarding the ship. "We don't need it for this, thankfully, but we will the longer we travel."

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83 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:35 am

I nod, something about the coat engulfing me in the crowd of people with Lavellan towering beside me leaving me feeling very small. Nothing about the situation feels real, to be honest, my hand squeezing Lavellan's occasionally as I work my numb fingers without thought.

"Will I lose my name?" I ask, looking up at him uncertainly.

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84 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:40 am

"Probably," I frown as I glance at her apologetically. "Don't feel bad... I don't even remember the name I was born with."

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85 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:44 am

I drop my head so he can't see the tears the well at his response, my other hand coming up to try and stem their flow as I inhale shakily. I'm grateful to see the line ahead of me reach the airship so we can board before my crying will get any worse, Lavellan taking the lead as I stick closely just behind him.

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86 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 4:50 am

We board in silence, my jaw clamping shut to avoid dealing with Ljuba's emotions. Instead, I take the lead on getting us checked in and guiding us to the cheap seats I had gotten us. At the very least, we would have a small room to ourselves given how few other passengers there are, though it would still be cramped.

"We'll pick up some clothes in the next town," I say quietly as we make our way down to our seats, my body blocking much of the narrow hallway as I stop to slide the door open for her to go in and take her seat. "Small things, here and there, though," I say as I step in and close the door behind me so I can put the bag under the seat. "Nothing that might draw attention.

"How are you doing?" I ask hesitantly after a second as I take a seat on the uncomfortable looking bench beside her.

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87 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:00 am

"I don't think it's caught up with me yet." I say starkly as I look out the dingy window before looking back at him. "You'd think the second time around, it'd come easier, but-" I shrug as I laugh pathetically, sniffling as I rest my head back against the seat.

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88 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:04 am

"It never gets easier, honestly," I sigh as I stretch my legs out in front of me. "The part I hate the worst is not knowing where I'm going, not knowing if or when the journey ends."

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89 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:10 am

"Do you know where we're going?" I ask as I drop my head back to look at him, reaching up to pull the hood off now that we're tucked into our cabin.

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90 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:15 am

"I don't even know the name of the city we'll be landing in," I admit as I pull my bag up into my lap to start digging through it so that I might gain an idea of what our provisions look like. "We'll be moving west, though. It's the least likely place we would go."

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91 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:25 am

Nodding an understanding I don't have, I look back towards the window at the expanse of clouds as I curl my arms up inside my coat. There's a lingering headache just behind my eyes, and I shift to rest against the wall tiredly. 

"What are the chances of my tea being in that bag?" I ask lamely, already knowing the answer as I wipe at my face. "Probably best, though... Do you think he did it on purpose..?" I ask suddenly, looking at Lavellan tiredly, another question I'm aware of the answer to.

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92 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:33 am

I don't answer her for the longest time, her body weight shifting as I continue to rifle through the bag for awhile. Once I've figured out what all I have, I tuck it back under the seat before looking out the window past her.

My hand has long since closed over the note in my pocket, my gaze finally drifting back to Ljuba as she stares quietly outside. Pulling the note from my pocket, I glance down at it thoughtfully for a moment before sighing as I hold it out toward her in solemn silence.

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93 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:44 am

I'm in a daze as I stare out the window when something catches the corner of my eye and I look towards Lavellan, my heart nearly skipping a beat at the sight of a crumpled piece of paper. I reach up to take it with a gloved hand, trembling slightly as I unwrap it and read the single sentence scrawled in Marnin's even handwriting. 

The silence is broken with a choked sob as I fold the paper back up, hugging it to my chest as I cry thickly.

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94 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:47 am

I only stare at the floor as her crying overcomes her, my hands resting between my knees. After a long moment, I scoot a little closer to her, my arm coming back to rest on the cushion behind us - the closest thing to a hug I think I've offered anyone in a long time. The moment she sinks against me, though, I let my arm fall down around her, pulling her in tightly as I sigh at her unpleasant sobs.

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95 Re: Bright Lights on Wed Jan 25, 2017 5:58 am

It's not even a conscious thought, turning to sink against Lavellan once I feel him behind me, my fingers tangling in his jacket as I try to calm myself. I don't know how much time passes like this, as I seem to meld with his side. My crying tapers off, if only because exhaustion settles in it's place, and the absent sensation of his fingers stroking my side through the layers of fabric is enough to leave my eyes feeling heavy.

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96 Re: Bright Lights on Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:12 am

I'm left to my thoughts when she dozes off, and there is no shortage of concerns for me to mull over as the ship finally leaves the docks. Before we can get too far from the port, I pull my phone from my pocket and send one final text to Richard: I'm sorry. I didn't get to him in time.

I can see the message pop up that he's responding, but before he can hit send, the phone is consumed in my hand, the device crumbling into dust and falling between my fingers into non-existence. I know the moment he hits send, the message will bounce back to him as being disconnected, and his rage will consume him. For a moment, my heart hurts at the thought, and I wish - fleetingly - that I could be their to offer him some comfort. But I've long known Richard is beyond loving or being loved in returned. Anyone who tries would be consumed in his destructive wake.

As Marnin has proven.

But I can't dwell on such thoughts. Death and dying are as natural as breathing, and for me, my only focus right now must be continuing to breathe. For my own sake as well as Ljuba's. Glancing down at her, I find myself frowning at her troubled and fitful sleep. I hadn't accounted for a second body joining me when it came time to run. In all honesty, I had grown accustomed to the comfortable little life I had managed to put together in Skycrest. I hadn't honestly thought about the possibility of having to run in years, that much is apparent in the dated style of the clothes I had packed in the locker on the docks.

With Ljuba by my side, I have barely enough provisions to last us a week, maybe two, before we have to start working for our meals. It's hardly enough time to put a respectable distance between us and Skycrest, but if we play it right, we might be able to make it stretch. But I'll have to do something about Ljuba's injured face... for her lack of magic, the recognizable scars, and, if we're lucky, for the sake of ridding her of her seizures. Needing a constant supply of moppy will leave a trail that Richard can follow - a trail we must not allow him to find.

***

Lost in thought, I don't even notice when or how I manage to drift off, but I do. It isn't until I feel the jarring sideways movement of the airship being roped and pulled into a dock that I realize I've fallen asleep. Just as well, though. We weren't due to dock until we'd reached the third town on the ship's voyage, which means it's time for us to get off.

"Ljuba," I whisper, shaking her lightly as I reach down to grab my bag. "Come on, it's time to get off. They're already pulling the ship into port. We need to get moving if we're going to catch a ride out of town."

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97 Re: Bright Lights on Thu Jan 26, 2017 2:38 pm

Stirring reluctantly, where I am doesn't quite register as I push off of Lavellan, my arms curling into the bulk of coat around me as I look around the cabin. Oh. There's something very sobering about the realization this is still my reality, Marnin's final words still clutched tightly in my still-gloved hand as I shift around to sit up properly. 

Without a word, I tuck the note into my pocket and pull my hood up, looking out the window curiously. I haven't the faintest clue where we've landed, and with Skycrests constant moving, I don't even have the ability to guess. The ship is still jostling us slightly when Lavellan rises to his feet, and I follow suit as I use the wall as a brace. There's something both endearing and unsettling in the way Lavellan watches me as I move, my arms folded against my chest as I wait for his cue to move. Like he's waiting for me to break, or maybe wondering if I'm done, like an impatient concern. Something that's wholly Lavellan. 

"How long as I asleep?" I ask, not quite making eye contact as I look up at him.

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98 Re: Bright Lights on Thu Jan 26, 2017 5:50 pm

"I don't know, I fell asleep, too," I admit as I dig around in my pocket with a frown to pull out an old watch. "We boarded at midday... it's nearly midnight now. We'll need to be careful," I sigh quietly. "Richard will have found him by now, he'll have people out looking for us."

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99 Re: Bright Lights on Thu Jan 26, 2017 6:54 pm

Nodding solemnly, I don't say a word as the airship seems to settle finally at the port, Lavellan opening the door so we can disembark. I don't take his hand this time, somehow feeling like I've exhausted most of Lavellan's sympathies for awhile, and instead stick closely behind him. It's still peculiar to me, watching him move and offer polite niceties to those passing. His posture is less imposing, his hair disheveled and those glasses make him look like a loopy old professor I would have had just before I'd left my general education courses. 

Luckily, though, with him towering ahead of me, no one seems to notice me trailing behind him. At least, not enough to try to peer inside my hood. No, Lavellan is striking enough to let me pass relatively unnoticed. 

The air is chilling as we step out onto the docks, the wind threatening to take my breath away as I curl more tightly into my coat.

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100 Re: Bright Lights on Thu Jan 26, 2017 7:02 pm

I can't help the shiver that creeps into my bones as we make our way to the queue to get off the ship. It's at this moment that I wish I had kept a dream drop with the pack in the locker back in Skycrest, every pair of eyes that grazes over us earning my suspicion.

The moment we've stepped foot on solid land, I lead the way to the toilets. I manage two steps into the men's bathroom before realizing Ljuba is no longer on my heel, my lips pulling into a tight frown as I step back out quickly and grab her arm to pull her in. "Nope, no splitting up," I say simply as I push the door closed behind her and lock it before going over to the urinal to relieve myself.

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