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Phoebe

The Silence Never Changes

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It was near midnight. The streets of Hyperion were barely illuminated by the streetlamps. Grant’s apartment had a posh modern look. It looked like one of those rich people houses that only the aristocrats would stay in, but even then it was humble for the likes of a prince.

When Reyna pushed the door open, small beams of light seeped into the dark room. The inside of the house was just as quiet as the street. Grant must’ve been asleep. Carefully, she shut the door without making the slightest sound.

Even in the darkness, Reyna could make out the effects that the stress was having on him. The day curtains were drawn in spite of it being nighttime. It looked like nobody had touched them for a long time. A pile of unwashed laundry sat in the corner of the room, waiting to be dealt with. Stacks of unopened letters sat on his desk. Reyna moved closer to get a better look.

Most of the letters were private and confidential, and she leafed through them cautiously to avoid reading anything that she’d be better off not reading. Under the first stack of papers, she found Grant’s phone. Turning it on briefly, she saw that he had sent 10 voicemails and 15 unanswered calls to Raveena. Putting the phone aside, she carefully moved other important documents aside until she came to the very bottom of the pile. There, she saw several sketches of an unknown woman. Each sketch was slightly different from the last. The obscurity and familiarity of it all made it seem like Grant was trying to capture something – someone – that he had dreamt of.

@danzilla3

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The last week had been a hard one for Grant. 

In the week since the parade he had been dividing his time between doing his job and consoling his mother over the loss of the god Arun. The way this normally played our was that Grant would travel to the palace in the morning and have breakfast with his mother; or at least make sure she got out of bed if she had no appetite. After that, he would go to his office where he would spend the day trying to find the demon that had attacked them. So far it was slow going; the demon having vanished just as suddenly as it appeared. When lunch rolled around, he would call Rae to make sure she was doing alright; though whether she picked up or nor was a toss up. He would then work until dinner, which he would also eat with his mother before spending as much time as she felt like with her. Finally, he would go home and sleep before getting up the next day and doing it all again.

It wasn't that the busy schedule was too much for him; his job often left him with very little free time. What truly exhausted him was the fact that his mother was hurting, and there was precious little he could do about it. Raveena was one of the first people who ever truly cared about him; to make him feel like his existence meant something. He owed her everything. But when it mattered most, he could do nothing to help her.

Grant had dozed off for an hour or so when he heard the door to his apartment open and shut. Nobody but him, Rae and Rowan had a key to his place; and there was no way that they would just come in without calling first. Grabbing his revolver from the nightstand next to him, he moved silently to the door. He waited for a moment before flinging it open and charging through; revolver leveled in front of him to see something truly unexpected. 

"Reyna?" He asked.

The sight of the woman suddenly made him aware of the breeze he could feel across his chest, and he realized that he had taken his shirt off before falling asleep. He holstered his weapon and grabbed a nearby shirt.

"What are you doing here?"

@Frostbinder @Deus Ex Aizen

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“Reyna? What are you doing here?”

She turned her head to him, pleasantly surprised that he had managed to detect her presence.

“We haven’t spoken since the Festival of Lights, Prince. I thought that you might be asleep, so I let myself in and waited for you to wake up,” she said. A grin tugged at the corner of her lips when she saw his discomfort at being half naked.

The time needed for Reyna to heal herself had given her plenty of time to reflect on the things that had happened that day.

“We need to talk about what happened before the demon attacked the parade,” she said, her voice serious but with a hint of sadness. “Come.”

She led Grant out of the apartment and called for the dragon that slept soundlessly on his roof. Athari shook its wings lazily, crawling off the massive building onto the street, before flattening itself against the ground to be mounted.

@danzilla3

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Grant didn't resist as Reyna pulled him out of his apartment; pausing only momentarily to observe that the doorknob on his front door had been chilled to the point of metal failure. Making a mental note to get an element resistant doorknob, and maybe go over his security measures in general, he allowed himself to be led into the street. To his great surprise, a giant blue dragon with a face that somehow managed to look regal floated down from the roof and lowered itself down to ground level; seemingly beckoning him to climb on. He looked to Reyna for a cue about what to do to see her climb on. Thus assured, he climbed onto the dragon to find its skin pleasantly cool in the warm night air. 

When both passengers were on board; the dragon took off into the night; rising far above the city in a matter of moments. Since he hadn't heard the woman give the creature any kind of verbal command, he figured they must have some kind of telepathic link. Grant held onto the dragons back for support, being careful not to dig his fingers in too hard and potentially hurt the creature. Now that he was no longer so focused on restraining himself from using his enhanced strength, he sometimes forgot just ho strong he really was.

After a few minutes passed in silence, he asked, "So where are we going for this talk?"

@Frostbinder

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Grant’s question would be met by silence. It wasn’t the awkward or angry type of silence. It was a sad tranquillity that reflected in the atmosphere as it did on her expression. After a long duration of riding through the warm puffy clouds atop Athari’s cold back, Reyna finally spoke.

“What happened that night, Grant, it cannot happen ever again. I did not exaggerate when I said that my hands were dirty.”

Before Grant could reply, however, Athari took a dip out of the clouds, and they began descending.

“We’re here,” she said.

South of Hyperion, there was an unnamed area with a high concentration of water springs. The freshness of the air was constantly refreshed by the geysers that splurged up columns of boiling hot water, rich in minerals and free from bacteria. The grasslands painted an even more beautiful sight, covering the rolling hills in a lush layer of green. It was the perfect setting for a picnic. Reyna would’ve brought a basket on other days. But this was not a day for celebration.

As Athari set them down, she was the first to slide off, long used to the smooth texture of her scaly companion.

“Hyperion is north of here, in that direction,” she pointed in the direction that they had come from. She didn’t want to think about it, but she feared that Grant wouldn’t allow her to take him back to his home after they were done speaking.

As Grant would take his time to admire their surroundings, Reyna composed herself. Deep breaths were taken, but they did little to soothe her aching heart. At last, she called for him.

“Grant,” she began, “Did you really love me?” She began to choke, struggling to force the words out.

“Because if you did, I cannot allow you to see me any longer. It is for your own good."

@danzilla3

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The Knight grew worried when Reyna didn't answer his question; leaving him to wonder if she simply didn't hear him, or was ignoring him. But the occasional glimpse of her face when she would turn just slightly to check on him made him think it was something else. It wasn't anger in her eyes, but what looked like sadness. A feeling of dread began to build in his stomach, but he said nothing. When they reached their destination, he was taking in his surroundings when Reyna told him Hyperion was to the north. He was about to jokingly ask if she was planning to leave him here when he saw the look on her face.

“Grant,” she began, “Did you really love me?” She began to choke, struggling to force the words out.

Taken aback by the suddenness of the question, Grant struggled to find words; but was spared when the young woman went on.

“Because if you did, I cannot allow you to see me any longer. It is for your own good."

Ah, so that's it.

Grant smiled and moved forward until he was a mere arms length from Reyna; at which point he stroked her hair with one hand while he looked deep into her eyes.

"Reyna..."

And then he gently flicked her in the forehead.

"I don't need others to tell me what is for my own good. It may have escaped your notice, but I am a grown man, and can make my own decisions; even if they turn out to be bad ones in the end."

A look of confusion crossed his face, "What's this about anyway? Because I'm a prince? If so, don't worry about it. Raveena already explicitly told me that my romantic life is my own business; and I can date who I please.

@Frostbinder

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For a few seconds, Reyna didn’t struggle. She allowed Grant’s hand to slide itself across her head. Her whole body tensed up, in a way that nobody had made her feel before. All at once, she was conflicted all over again, feeling the same pent-up anxiety that had struck her during the past week. Her breath quickened. She recoiled away from him, albeit forcefully, turning her face away from him.

“You don’t understand Grant! That kiss we had, it was a heat of the moment thing. Had I been thinking straight, I would never have allowed you to do it,” she choked again, tears welling up in her eyes. And then she snapped back at him.

“You don’t even know what I am Grant! You once called me a beautiful young woman. What if I told you that I was none of that?” she gestured to her body with her gloved hands, running her fingers down her cloak in exasperation. “What if none of this was real?”

She whirled around once again, letting him face her back. She struggled to compose herself as her lips shook. As her breathing steadied, she found a brief moment of clarity.

She spoke both quietly, and solemnly, “I’m not what your mother thinks I am Grant. Most races have poor tolerance towards my species. For your own sake, I beg of you, stop loving me. Find a woman who your society will accept, and I’ll be all the happier for you.”

 @danzilla3

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Grant felt a twinge of unease when Reyna asked him what would happen if none of what had happened between them was real. What did she mean by that? Was this yet another manipulation, a way to exert control by those who had made him what he was? His feelings for Reyna suddenly fell into question; because after all, he'd had what he thought were genuine feelings about his wife that turned out to be nothing more than false memories. Now here this woman was telling him that what he thought about her was a lie. What the hell was he supposed to think?

Calm down. Think it through.

The people who had turned him into a tool of murder no longer existed; he had looked into that extensively. He and his parents had taken great care to make sure that the mental conditioning ingrained in him had been removed. Grant breathed a sigh of relief as he felt the tension ease; but it was quickly replaced with confusion. If she wasn't referring to that, what did she mean. Then he recalled what had happened shortly before their moment together at the parade.

"Reyna, I don't care what you are. I already knew you weren't strictly human because of that asshole Fae."

@Frostbinder

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Grant wasn’t leaving. Every moment that they were together, it tore at Reyna’s heart, because she knew that the world would never accept their relationship. Yet Grant made her feel different. She feared that if she did not force his leave now, she wouldn’t have the strength to do it later. Her palms shook softly. She was holding back tears. She had been holding them back for far too long. A strange swell formed inside of her, and she felt as if she would explore from the emotional pressure. And quite literally, she did.

 

The transformation began subtly. Grant would begin to notice black wisps of dark matter leaking out of Reyna’s sleeves. These were in fact the remains of her articulate skin and flesh that were beginning to sizzle and burn off her body. With her back still turned to him, it was unlikely that he would notice half of her face rotting away to the bone. Her breathing quickened. As a result, one could quite literally hear the widening of her windpipe as the false flesh fell away. She now breathed in several voices, the omnipresence of her soul making the surrounding land appear as if it was breathing with her. And all at once, the reaction would become violent.

 

A massive explosion from the core of her body would send Grant hurtling backwards across the grassy plains. Her robes burst apart in the explosion, forming around her the dreaded gown of the lich. Like petals they fell outwards as if she was the flower, leeching the life from everything around her. Grant would feel a sudden massive drop in the temperature. The water springs froze, halting the endless flow of life-bringing liquid. The ponds glazed over, solidifying into a slippery sheet of ice. The grass began to wither in the cold, turning the once lush green hills into smoking patches of black. Around the lich’s feet, a circle of decay was beginning to form, where the grass rotted much more quickly.

 

Reyna let her hands fall. She was dizzy. She was in her most powerful, unrestrained form, but she had never once felt weaker in her life. She turned around, her empty eye sockets gazing pleadingly at Grant, almost as if begging for him to go, before she soon found herself on the ground. After largely frosting and destroying a large majority of the surrounding landscape, Reyna collapsed in exhaustion to her side. She had endured much more than this before, and she too was puzzled by the weakness in her body. Any thoughts were cut off when her skull struck the ground, causing her entire body to undergo a sudden violent seizure. Grant would be unlikely to feel sympathy for this skeleton that was now writhing about on the ground, but perhaps he would have been moved to action when she cast one last pleading looking into his eyes before her body went still and disintegrated into dust. All that was left in the pile of ashes was a single magnificent gemstone.

@danzilla3

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When tendrils of black vapor began to leak from Reyna's sleeves, Grant moved forward to make sure she was alright. This unfortunately put him closer to the epicenter of the explosion of supernatural energy that sent him flying backwards. His momentum was not enough to outpace the wave of cold that froze water, grass, and even stone. It made it so that when he hit a small tree nearby it shattered into a million crystalline shards before sliding to a stop a few feet beyond it.

When he looked up, he could see Reyna through a cloud of icy debris; her form now skeletal yet somehow emotive. The sadness in her eyes washed over him like a wave, and his instincts screamed at him to go to her; to help her. But when he tried to move, he found that the impacts he had endured had broken multiple bones in his body; leaving him momentarily helpless. Activating the MERLIN device to ten percent; he felt his bones knit, and then closed the distance between where he had landed and where Reyna was. When he arrived, she was nowhere to be found.

"Reyna!"

Something compelled him to look down, and he saw a pile of ash and dust; in the middle of which was a flawless Gemstone. Kneeling down, he picked it up and instantly felt a warmth as though he was holding someones hand. Things began to slide into place in his mind, and one word came into his mind.

Lich.

So that was what she was hiding. Why didn't she tell him?

He shook his head; banishing those questions for another time. Right now he had to figure out how best to help the woman whose life he now literally held in his hands. If he remembered correctly, Lich's could regenerate their bodies so long as their phylactories where still intact. Nodding to himself, he upped the MERLIN implant to twenty percent, and made for home. When he arrived back at his apartment, he placed the gem carefully in his bed, and then took a seat in a chair to keep watch. Eventually he fell asleep, hoping he was right in his assumptions.

@Frostbinder

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Sometime after Grant fell asleep, the gemstone awakened once again. The outline of a new body formed on the bed, a case of blue energy formed around empty air. He was lucky to be asleep. He may not have liked to witness the formation of flesh from magic.

Over the next two hours, Reyna’s body quietly formed back together, taking up the human form which all her colleagues were familiar with. As the lasts curves and details of her body solidified, the blue casing hardened into her magi cloak, wrapping around her snugly as she lay in Grant’s bed.

Gradually, she regained consciousness, and her exhaustion and confusion sank in. Why was she in bed? She tried lifting up her arms but struggled to find the strength to do so. She had never once overexerted herself to this degree of severity, to the point where she barely able to move her limbs. She wondered where the dragon Athari had flown off to now that her telepathic control over his mind had been broken. She prayed silently that he would stay away from the towns, for fear of them incurring his wrath.

With quite some effort, she was able to observe her surroundings. Seated a few feet from her was the prince, head cocked over to the side in a light state of sleep. Where had he taken her? With a sigh, she rolled over onto her side. She didn’t know how he would react when he woke up. There was no doubt now that he knew. But if he knew, why had he brought her back to his apartment?

@danzilla3

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The sound of rustling fabric woke Grant from his sleep; and he opened his eyes to see Reyna, fully reformed laying on his bed, facing away from him. He sighed in relief at the sight of her, but wasn't sure how to begin the conversation that needed to be had. For a while silence reigned in the room as he hoped that she might be the one to speak first; but soon he realized that he would have to be the one to get the ball rolling. He got up out of his chair and walked around to the side of the bed that Reyna was facing before sitting on the bed with his back to her.

"I guess the first thing that needs to be said is... I know."

There was no need to elaborate on what it was that he knew; both of them knew he was referring to the fact that she was a lich. More minutes passed in silence before he managed to speak again.

"You should have told me... so I could tell you it doesn't matter."

Grant turned to face her, "It doesn't change the way that I feel about you. But if you really feel like you can't be with me because of that... I'll respect it. I won't like it, not one bit, but I'll accept it."

The young Knight reached out and took her hand in his own.

"What's your answer?"

@Frostbinder

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The waking of the Prince was a relief to Reyna, but also a dreaded moment. It was in this moment that all would be known. That there would be no more hiding from the truth. He spoke reassuring words, most of which came and left her head. She remembered how they had met during the Festival of Lights. There was no doubt in her mind that their first kiss was in the heat of the moment. It was under the effects of sexual tension, and nothing more And now he asked whether or not they could be together. Reyna turned herself over to face him clumsily, gazing back into his eyes. She searched for something that she valued about him. And when she did, she began to question that their love was superficial, that there was something else that drew them together. And in him, she found something that she saw in few others.

Compared to the stereotypical royalty, Grant was down to earth. Reyna had no trouble conversing normally around him, being able to speak like... a normal person. It strained her to mind when she wondered how much of a suck-up she must have looked like in front of the empress, but she was, in essence, a nobody in this land. What other alternative did she have? But when she spoke to Grant, it was never like that. His presence was both comforting and encouraging. It made her want to speak up, to be more than just a tool of destruction for some higher order or purpose. His open-mindedness she had seen in so few. Far too few. And now he asked her whether or not they could be together, even after knowing the truth about her. She knew her answer very well.

"Come here Prince," she beckoned for him, patting the side of the bed with enough room that he could lie down next to her. As he came, she would gaze into his eyes sadly. When his rear touched the bed, he would feel its surface to be icy cold, having lost all its warmth to Reyna’s body.

“You could live with this?” she looked away from him now in disappointment. She would forever remember the look that he gave her in response to her cues. Then, she lunged at his face with a surprising amount of force for her exhaustion, grabbing his neck and pulling his face close to her own as she smothered his mouth. After a brief period of tussling, they became still and leaned into each other.

Reyna fell backwards onto the soft surface of the bed, looking back up at Grant. “I hope you realized that I was teasing with the looks,” she grinned meekly. “You should’ve seen the look on your face.”

For a while, she watched him. She felt that she could watch him for an eternity. She grinned, finally willing to answer his question.

“Yes Grant, I think we can make this work.” Now any trace of playfulness had left Reyna’s face. The time for play had ended. Or at least, the time for one type of game was over, and it was now time for a new one.

“You cannot under any circumstances inform anyone of what I am Prince. Not even your mother. I don’t know how they would react, and whether or not my life would be in danger because of it.” She would make him promise not to tell anyone. Then, she would drag him down to the bed, grabbing the bottom of his shirt to pull it up.

@danzilla3

Edited by Frostbinder

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Since the day he had woken up with no recollection of who he was, Grant's life had been a blur of pain, misery, and fear. Recently that had begun to change; but when he remembered the last few years, the bad memories still outweighed the good ones. Despite this, there were still a few moments in his life that he called on for comfort when he felt himself being overwhelmed by the bad memories. The first had been when Rowan and Raveena had accepted him as their son. Now, as Reyna pulled him into a heated kiss, he had no doubt that this night would among the good memories.

Reyna took her mouth away from his to engage in some verbal teasing; to which Grant answered with the occasional grunt as he simply kissed her neck and around her jaw. She pushed him gently, and he sat up; enjoying the way she looked at him. When she said that they could make it work, his heart soared. Then, things came down just slightly when she asked him to not tell anyone else about what she was. 

"I promise."

He lowered his hands to meet hers and pulled his shirt up over his head before leaning back down to continue their kiss. Soon he moved down, kissing her neck, and then her collarbone, and then even lower than that...

 

Hours later light streamed through Grant's bedroom window, and he wondered for a moment if he had been dreaming. The notion quickly evaporated when he looked over to see his new lover still in his bed. He pulled her close and kissed the top of her head.

"Glad to see your still here."

@Frostbinder

 

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Reyna awoke gradually to Grant’s incessant touch. Hell, that had been one good sleep. Energy returned to her limbs, and she no longer felt to be in the same state of passiveness as she was the night before. With a soft sigh escaping her lips, she rested her palm on Grant’s chest, insulating her skin so as not to chill him with her touch.

Her clothing was gone. But with nothing but his blanket covering her, she had never felt more at ease.

“Glad to see you’re still here.”

She smiled warmly, “You too.”

There was a brief pause as she lifted her head to rest it upon his chest.

“I may not be for long though. I have to figure out what I’m going to do with my life. First, it was the mercenary thing, now the enforcers, I just don’t know if I’ll ever find anything that suits me.”

There was a sudden knock on Grant’s door. Reyna bolted upright in alarm.

“I cannot be seen here,” she slid out of the blanket hastily, her clothing forming on her like a second set of skin, knitting itself cleanly into place. In mere seconds, she was fully dressed, robe and everything.

“Until we next meet, farewell Grant Knight,” she caressed his neck once again, giving him a quick kiss.

After pulling away, she raised her right palm, fanning it out towards the wall of Grant’s room. With her other hand, she drew circles in the air. Magic crackled and burst in the air in front of her, eventually spluttering open into a small portal.

She turned to look Grant once more in the eye. Their time together that night had been much too short. Reyna craved for more. As she stepped through the portal, taking her to an alley a few blocks from Grant’s apartment, she gazed back into his eyes all the way, until the portal swallowed her up. Then, all was silent in Grant’s room.

All too quickly, it was broken by the knock on Grant’s door.

“Master Knight! I bring a message from your mother!”

@danzilla3

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