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A Thing Called Loyalty

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1A Thing Called Loyalty Empty A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:14 pm

I didn't sleep after returning to my tiny flat that night. I didn't even stay there long enough to turn on a light; only to close and reopen the door before stepping out into the deep, icy wilderness. What happened after that is still a blur, and I'm still running hot when I arrive to Sylviane's shop the next morning, bright and early, right at opening time.

My brow furrows when opening time comes and goes with no sign of Sylviane. For a fraction of a moment, I fear our conversation the night before may have scared her off, but it's a notion I quickly bat away as absurd. As though I could keep a creature such as her away from what's hers. No, this is her territory, not mine.

"Maybe she just overslept," I comment to Button, the bored feline looking up at me with a sleepy blink. "Let's get some breakfast, just in case this feeling is a fluke like last time. Maybe she'll be here when we get back."

*

But she isn't.

It's nearly noon before the worry something's happened manages to override the desire to respect her privacy and not show up on her doorstep uninvited. Button is hot on my heels, now just as agitated as I am as he feeds off of my energy - an energy that crackles on the air as I pass thanks to the potent colossus magic coursing through my veins.

At first, there isn't an answer when I knock on the door, and my knocking becomes more intense as I cock an ear slightly as though I might be able to hear something inside.

"Sylviane??"

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2A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:43 pm

"Fuck," I grumble as the knocking gets more fearsome, Aoifa's voice carrying through the door, no doubt as easily as it's carrying through the halls of my apartment building. The room spins under my feet as I hurry upright, catching myself on the edge of the bed as I regain my composure. The last thing I need is more sick to clean up. 

I jerk the door open as another round of knocking starts, glaring up at him as I grab his sleeve and pull him inside.

"Jesus, be quiet." I hiss, shutting the door roughly before I make my way back to the closet to pick up the bits and baubles strewn across the floor from the toppled-over apothecary case.

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3A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:46 pm

"You weren't at the shop, I got worried," I say apologetically as I look around with wide eyes. "What happened??"

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4A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:55 pm

Shoving the items in my hands back into the case, I settle on my knees with a groan. My head is still throbbing with the same fierce headache I had when I woke up, and the lingering hunger in my gut is making Aoifa's presence much less pleasant than it was the night before. 

"I got robbed," I say simply, "Elyse drugged me, and then she and one of her bitch friends tore the place apart looking for whatever stones they could find. They took them all, along with the money I'd saved for the coming winter and some other things - for the hell of it, I guess." I shrug, looking up at him tiredly.

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5A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 5:57 pm

"Elyse?" I frown before I piece the information together, a scowl deepening on my features. "Wait, is this the girl you've known for twenty years?"

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6A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:01 pm

"Yes," I answer sharply.

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7A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:03 pm

"But-," I stumble over this, the contradiction not wanting to click into place with what I'd felt of the woman from the stones Sylviane had given me. "I don't understand. Why would she do that?? She's been loyal to you since I was still just a babe."

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8A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:06 pm

“If I had to guess, bought loyalty isn’t real loyalty.” I grouse, closing the apothecary case and shoving it out of the way as I start separating the clothes pulled from the dresser.

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9A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:09 pm

I don't have a response for that as I begin picking up random items. Uncertain what to do with them, they begin to accumulate in my arms, and I find myself staring at Sylviane with wide eyes. I've never had someone I knew rob me before; in fact, I'd rarely had people rob me at all. Just bears and badgers.

"I'm sorry," I finally say lamely.

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10A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:24 pm

"It's not your fault-" I say after a moment, sighing heavily as I settle back from the dresser and run my hands across my face tiredly. "But, thank you."

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11A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:28 pm

"You don't look well," I frown as I go to put her things down on the fireplace mantle.

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12A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:48 pm

"No, I don't imagine I do." I respond, piling the clothes into my arms before rising to my feet so I can dump them on the bed. 

"She took something before coming over - Something that poisoned her blood." I say weakly, "I've heard of it before, the name escapes me - but whatever blood I got from her last night came up this morning. I feel like I've ingested death."

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13A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:54 pm

"Do you need more?" I ask with a frown as I look her over with some concern.

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14A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 6:58 pm

"Of course," I answer abruptly, my head throbbing as I frown at my own lack of manners. "I- I can't ask that of you."

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15A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:00 pm

"You're not asking, I'm offering," I respond simply. "You gave me part of you, and I'm still feeling well because of it. This is the least I can do to show my gratitude."

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16A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:07 pm

"The least-" I frown sharply, "It isn't pleasant. It doesn't feel good. It gets muddled up with all of these feelings but, it's adrenaline and shock and-

"It's not a little thing you're offering."

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17A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:12 pm

"I know what I'm offering," I respond sternly, giving her a sharp look. "Every breath and drop of energy I have is precious to me; no one understands the weight of this little thing better than I do. But you're drained, and you've been poisoned. Meanwhile, I'm buzzing with your magic and energy.

"It's an exchange of energies," I insist, shaking my head. "Nothing more."

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18A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Wed Feb 06, 2019 7:21 pm

"Aoifa," I frown. Sighing heavily, I nod softly before heading through the bedroom towards the kitchen, gesturing for him to follow behind. 

"The bathroom is through there," I say as I point towards the closed door past my desk, "I hope you'll understand when I ask you to clean up first... I'll make you something while you do. It's nothing strange - Just something to kind of help with the healing after. Lots of iron and other stuff." I shrug slightly as I linger near the kitchen door. My gaze lingers on him before it averts shamefully, and I clear my throat as I look down at my nails.

"I don't want you doing this because you feel like you owe me anything, okay?" I say weakly.

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19A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Sat Feb 23, 2019 1:01 am

"I don't owe you anything," I smile lightly as I start toward the bathroom, pausing before I leave the room as I try to explain the motive behind my offer. "I am a Wildling. We don't really believe in trade or ownership, exactly. And helping is not viewed as something you go out of your way to do.

"It's hard to explain... but all things are a part of nature, right?" I say after hesitating for a moment to choose the right words. "Human, animal, or object - it all came from the same place. What's mine is yours because we are both the same, and one cannot exchange what one already owns. If you're suffering, then I'm suffering because we are two pieces of the same thing. I wouldn't neglect my left arm because it wasn't my right arm. I'd tend to it because they're both part of me, and I am better with both arms.

"It would be irrational not to help you. I'm better with you around and well."

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20A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:16 am

Smiling softly, I nod my understanding as I tap my fingers against the door frame leading into the kitchen.

“Wash up,” I say after a moment, not making eye contact as I peer into the dim kitchen, “I’ll fix you something.”

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21A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Sun Feb 24, 2019 5:49 pm

There's a moment of panic that comes over me after I close the bathroom door. Wash up, she'd instructed. Wash what up, exactly? My neck? My arm? My...? I can feel the heat rise up the back of my neck as I push that thought away.

Rather than being presumptuous, I go to turn on the shower and strip. I'll just wash everything I decide while trying not to think about how my coven would react if they knew what I was doing right now. I'd be banished, for sure.

Best not to tell them, then.

The warm spray of the shower does little to ease my nerves. With Sylviane's magic in my veins, I'm aware of her presence in the house, the nervous pacing in the kitchen drawing a faint smile to my lips. At least I'm not the only one going outside of my comfort zone today. Pushing all thoughts of what's to come from my mind, I close my eyes and let the nervous energy melt away under the water.

Centering myself proves more challenging than I'd thought, and I linger in the shower for longer than is probably polite. But, when I finally do step out, I'm perfectly calm and present in myself. I dry off methodically, every movement treated with ritualistic slowness. I don't know how these things usually go, but I know how I would do it if this were an exchange of magic, and so I give every action the mindfulness I would as though that were the end-result tonight. I dress lightly, leaving the bulk of my clothes folded neatly off to the side before I drag my fingers through my hair and stare at myself in the mirror.

I blink at my reflection blankly, a moment of confusion crossing the features of the face staring back at me. It's more youthful, more lively than the face I'm used to seeing. If it weren't for the marks on my face, I might think I was looking at someone else. I can't help the smile that comes to my lips as I turn away, and head back out to the living room.

It feels rather good to not be the one in need, for once.

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22A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:30 pm

The gradually calming heart beat in the bathroom helps ease my own nerves as I work in the kitchen, setting the kettle to boil and hunting through the contents of my fridge to find something suitable for him to eat. Fats and proteins, I remind myself. Dark greens, and liver. The organ meats were never my favorite, but I always had some on hand for Elyse’s overnights.

Elyse. Her betrayal still brings to sickening tightness to my chest and gut. Pushing it from my mind, I listen to Aoifa moving quietly through the walls, his plate of food coming together finally. Greens cooked down in a seasoned butter, organ meats cooked with more vegetables in a thin gravy. Not a meal I’d fix for myself, but once I’d seen Elyse eat a hundred times.

It’s set on the small table under the window where we’d shared a meal the night before, along with a glass of water and cup of tea. The meal complete, I can’t find the distractions to stop the ball of nerves twisting in my gut. I hadn’t shared a moment this intimate with a man in half a century or more. Men couldn’t be trusted, so I’d thought. Especially men with elven blood.

I find myself sitting anxiously at the end of the sofa when the bathroom door opens, dampness and the warm smell of my soaps seeping into the air as I look up at him.

“I fixed you something - it’s supposed to help.” I say lamely as I nod toward the table.

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23A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Sun Feb 24, 2019 6:40 pm

"Thank you," I respond as I wander over to inspect the dish she'd made. It isn't until I smell the appetizing aroma that I realize that I haven't eaten since the first stone she'd given me, and for the first time in a long time, I realize that I'm not really all that hungry. Still, I sit down and go through the motions of eating at least a small portion of the meal, pointedly saving the rest for later.

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24A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:00 pm

I try not to watch him as he eats, awkwardness lingering in the air as I pick at my nails. The black that usually coats its way up beyond my elbows barely stretches beyond my wrists, and I find myself inspecting freckles I didn't know I had as I stare at my arms. The pulsing black had shrunk substantially since last night, and it only serves to accentuate the gnawing hunger at the back of my throat as it creeps closer to the delicate bones in my wrists.

"I won't be able to heal the bite after," I remark softly, a tinge of guilt coloring my voice as I look up at him, "I've never been able to do that, unlike some others..."

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25A Thing Called Loyalty Empty Re: A Thing Called Loyalty on Sun Feb 24, 2019 8:18 pm

"I can heal," I respond lightly as I finish off my last bite with a swig of water to wash the taste from my tongue. There's a nervous energy coming off of Sylviane that draws me from my chair and over to the couch, my head cocking to the side curiously.

"You're anxious," I point out as I sit down on the floor in front of her. I reach out to place a hand on the inside of her wrist, my own settling into her hand where my pulse can be felt against her slender fingers. The contrast in the black on our arms is a stark one, and I find myself watching it with interest as I let out a sloe breath and watch hers grow as I let some of my energy bleed into her touch.

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