Jump to content
Sigil Warden

[Amalia] Take One To Go

Recommended Posts

Mal listened to Arthur's tale with interest; a story of men meddling with forces beyond their ability to control, and therefore a tale as old as mankind. Growing up, he had sometimes wished that he could utilize magic like the kind Arthur spoke of. Scraping by on the streets of Last Chance picking pockets and dealing out beatings, he liked to imagine that the arcane would make his life easier. The grass is always greener on the other side after all. But the story reminded the merc that magic was a lot like fire; a useful tool when controlled, but one that would burn you if you failed to respect its power.

Unity's story was much more personal than Mal had anticipated from the woman; a tale of hardship and tragedy. It seemed like she had more in common with him than either of them had thought. As she spoke, it was clear that she carried quite a bit of guilt over her past. He could certainly understand that; it wasn't like he didn't have a list of mistakes a mile long that he would erase given the chance. When she was done, he wanted to say something, but wasn't sure how to start. Finally, he took one last drag of his cigarette before extinguishing it in the damp foliage on the ground.

"I can't say my experience is the same as yours, but I know what it's like to steal and fight to survive. The "normal" people look down on you from their comfortable lives and declare you the bad guy for having to take the things that are just handed to them. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying things like stealing and killing are right. But if it's an option between doing something wrong or dying... I'll never blame anyone for choosing to live. I've felt the kind of guilt you're talking about, and I used to hate it. Now though? I welcome it. Because it tells me that I'm still a decent person. And so are you."

A beat passed before he continued, "Of course, that's just my view on the subject. Make of it what you will. I'm gonna hit the rack, but my door is always open if one of you needs something... or my tent flap anyway."

Edited by danzilla3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The mage laid back on his furred ground cloth, staring up at the panoply of bright stars as Unity began a tale of her own. Arthur realized, as the woman spoke, that he was the only one of the three that didn’t share a personal story. It was unsurprising once he pondered on it for a moment. After all, leave it to a wizard to keep their secrets closely guarded, especially around total strangers whether they were to fight alongside each other or not. The black mage did feel a sense of relief, however. Though he kept much of his life under wraps, the others hadn’t leveled any suspicion his way when he revealed his identity as a black mage of the Exiled Tower. Normally, the Abode of Daimons and the Academy of the Left-Hand Path evoked dread and distrust.

Thankful, Arthur continued to listen to Unity’s deeply personal story, wondering why she had chosen to share it to complete strangers, but knowing that (like him) the woman feared what her new companions would think of her. If she was expecting a judgmental look, she found none when she found the mage’s wolfish eyes regarding her. In the darkness of the forest, his eyes shined orange like a looming predator, and from any other angle beyond the crystal foliage it would have unsettled most. However, from across their technological camp fire, the mage’s intimidating gaze softened with his sympathy. 

“Don’t feel guilty. We couldn’t judge you anyways. This job we’re all on is a heist after all. And those who would judge are hypocrites. People kill and steal and polite society would waste little time to denounce it, but are unsurprisingly the fastest to provide justifications whenever the archons and armies of the age commit the very same crimes under the guise of politics.” 

Nodding his head, as if satisfied by his statement, Arthur stood to his feet as Mal reassured Unity as well. Sensing that the pair were having a moment, the mutant dismissed himself quietly, retrieving a change of clothes, a brick of newly pressed soap, and a towel from his rucksack. “I’m going to take advantage too and wash myself in the stream. Get comfy. As I said, I’ll take first watch when I get back, but I’ll be waking one of you up a few hours before dawn to switch. I’ll need some sleep before we tackle the elevation tomorrow.” 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A Thousand Years Have Passed


It was a strange tightrope to walk, between gratitude and resentment. Unity was fortunate, pleased even, to be able to find likeminded souls on this journey that she had no say in. But at the same time, it was a gnawing feeling of betrayal, not from them, but from Unity herself. Had Mal and Arthur been cold, it would be easy to bristle back, to shut away the vulnerability as quickly as it had appeared, and feel nothing of the fact that her eyes were recording their every move and word. Instead, she was a wolf clad in sheepskin, and telling the two of her guilt didn't make the current feeling any easier.

Even as the wizard departed to clean up, and Mal withdrew to his tent, Unity lingered a while longer by her artificial heatlamp, staring at it, hoping for an answer of what to do or feel. The danger of the Ulway and the skittering centipedal curators of the alien forest around them seemed distant troubles, and she warred with herself over indulging in that eternal desire for validation. It was a choice she was free to make, however inconsequential or superficial... and the dark alchemist had given her the window to indulge it.

She sighed softly, extinguishing the glow of the cylinder, and rising from her repose, crept over to the mercenary's tent. She knew he'd not yet be asleep, but entered nonetheless as unobtrusively as possible, her silhouette punctuated only by the singular glow of her left crimson iris. The thief stood there, wordlessly, for several long moments that seemed to stretch out into eternity... but eventually a soft, inviting glow crept over her, lighting the interior just enough to embrace her figure in its entirety, the same body she had chided him over staring at in the daylight. Her lips pursed themselves, caught halfway between a smile and sadness on opposite corners. She took a half-step forward, and deft hands thumbed open the button on her tiny shorts.

"This is for me, not you."

 


 

When the wizard tired of his vigil hours later, he found the thief not in her shelter, but curled up against the warmth of her indiscretion and using the veteran's broad chest as a pillow. Her eyes were already half-lidded open and swiveled to meet the intrusion, disentangling herself with reluctance rather than shame. "I'll be right out."

A crisp, dewy chill had descended overnight, incongruous to the supposed tropical climate and wreathing the camp, and indeed the entire wood, in eerie mist. Though the moon was setting, it was still some time yet until the first fingers of dawn would creep over the horizon, and even more before the rays of morning sun came to pierce the canopy. In this cold stillness, the rogue's body steamed and her skin prickled, whisking away the lingering call of drowsy idleness as she wiggled her way back into her cutoffs. She took up Arthur's lookout without complaint, giving him a slight nod as he retired to have some rest of his own. Alone with her thoughts, Unity stretched out the soreness of her limbs with unhurried dedication, legs, arms, and core... and smiled softly to herself at the persisting twinge in her thighs as she posted up against a crystalline trunk with her daggers laid out in her lap.

Edited by Sigil Warden

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Mal had just shrugged off his shirt when he heard the soft sound of someone walking through the entrance to his tent, and turned around to see Unity standing there. Before he could say anything, her body glowed with a warm light, and she gave him a sad smile. She said something about this being for her, not him and then undid the button on her shorts. Confused, a thousand questions died on his lips as she came to him, and soon she was all he cared about.


Soldiers learn to take peace where they can find it.

For Mal, that comfort had often come out of a bottle; the liquid burn of alcohol scorching away the pain and regrets he carried every day. He had once entered tried to ease his pain with the company of numerous women; but much like with whiskey, the comfort they offered was fleeting, followed by an even greater sense of emptiness. Relationships had never been easy for him. Unable to articulate his the trauma of his past to his lovers, he would inevitably drive them away; and so eventually he stopped trying to pursue romance. Years had passed since he had known the touch of another, and he had begun to think that he had stopped missing it.

But now, as he lay with Unity's form entangled with his own, her breath warm on his chest, he realized that he had been lying to himself. The taste of her lips, the feeling of her hands on his body, fingers tracing his scars, the scent of her hair, it was like he had suddenly regained the use of a sense that had been long dormant. When she lay next to him he felt at peace; even in this hostile environment. Therefore when she left, and his heart sank, he knew there was a problem.

What was he thinking? A day ago his interest in her had been purely physical; but one night of sharing stories of hardship and now he was attached? There was no way this was going to end well. Neither of them were in a position to pursue any kind of romantic relationship. What's more, he remembered what she had said before they had made love.

"This is for me, not you."

It was arrogant to assume that the rogue would even have feelings for him beyond the satiating of a physical need. He chuckled darkly to himself. What the hell kind of professional was he supposed to be? He spent the next few hours in fitful sleep before getting up an hour before dawn and emerging from his tent. Spotting Unity, he offered a smile with perhaps a touch more feeling than he had meant.

"I'm gonna go wash up in the stream, then I'll take watch so you can sleep a few hours."

With that, the mercenary made his way through the underbrush toward the stream.

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arthur spent his evening in relative silence, offering his companions ample time to conduct their business as he washed up. Not that it mattered, he had to use his blasting ear plugs anyways. If he was some reprobate, he would have been able to listen to his companions from a mile away. Before long, and dressed once more, the black mage took up a guard position under a crystalline tree at their camp, using his sharpened senses to pick up on anything that dared approach. 

Once his shift was over, the mutant went looking for Unity in Mal’s tent, giving the woman an amused look before heading off to bed. It didn’t take long as he settled into his hammock before Arthur dozed off. 

Unfortunately, the early morning came as if in a blink of an eye. Arthur’s eyes opened groggily, rolling out of his hammock and stretching out his limbs. Brushing his teeth as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes, the mutant elected to cook up some breakfast. The ingredients he carried were kept in wrappings of wax paper, outfitted with runes of preservation, but they wouldn’t last that much longer without refrigeration than food carried normally. Cutting slices of emmental cheese, bread (which he promptly seasoned with olive oil, salt, and provincial herbs), and tomatoes, the mage constructed six sandwiches along with some pre-sliced ham. 

Tying lengths of twine in a satchel-like knot around each sandwich, Arthur used Unity’s heating cylinder and a large pan from his rucksack to cook the sandwiches. The surface was large enough to cook three at a time, using the twine to flip the sandwiches or to transfer them to his cutting board when they were finished. 

@Sigil Warden @danzilla3

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Ascent


As with all good things, they come too soon to an end. The short nap in her own blankets left the thief unfulfilled, barely slipping into true sleep before the sounds of breaking camp and sizzling ham sandwich pulled her right back out. She had been clutching her pack in slumber, and now pushed it away from herself with a frown. There was to be no lingering on her actions of the night prior, lest the inkling of catching feelings be given fertile soil to root. And so she ignored Mal for a bit, not out of malice or dislike, but to plunge the idea of further developments under the cold rush of reality. Even when she asked him to help cinch in the laces of her leathers, she stared past his shoulder, carefully avoiding the mercenary's gaze as he pulled each layered band taut over her torso.

More generally, a sense of urgency shook off the lethargy and helped refocus Unity on the task they had yet to do. Two days to attain the summit, find what they were looking for, and depart, ideally without incurring trouble. So far, they had been very fortunate. So, with her breakfast freshly liberated from Arthur, she gave him a friendly squeeze of the shoulder in thanks, and precipitously disassembled her shelter, eager to get underway. The sun was still low in the sky and creeping upwards, its golden orange scattered among the well-kept crystal trees. Above, Mount Icthys loomed like a giant, its rocky slopes promising breathtaking views and climbing effort alike.
 


The initial going was not tremendously difficult. The loam of the jungle and the stitched podzol of the mixed, temperate forest further inland gave way to gravel and sparse, fruitless topsoil with only a few stubborn brushes and sprouting grasses clinging to sustenance beside rocky outcrops and overhangs. Although unmarked and very faint at times, a sort of trail formed from natural weathering snaked its way upward in shallow gullys between boulders, marking tracks where storm rains cascaded down during monsoon season. It was a strong contrast to the increasing signs of artificial intervention around the base of the mountain, as if the process had abruptly stopped here and the elements had been given back this playground to act freely.

Unity, for her part, bounded ahead like a mountain goat, unperturbed by precariously slanted channels and loose gravel underfoot, her crimson wedges always finding purchase on the worn stones. Even when the last of the plant life had faded away and the only thing that greeted them was bare rock faces, she cheerfully held her footing even on the slightest ridge or crack, conjuring and whisking away pitons of orange hardlight as needed to assist her companions upward.

The natural path had disappeared by this point, and the slow progress of the expedition merited an important question - one that the shapely thief broached to the pair as they cleared the lip of a larger ledge that she had picked to rest on for a few minutes.

"How the hell do the little bastards get up here, anyway? I wonder if we're climbing the wrong side."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If Mal had worried that things might be awkward between himself and Unity after their interlude the previous night, he should have been relieved to find that the rogue was acting like nothing had happened. That is, it should have made him feel better, but for some reason it only added to confused jumble of emotions he was feeling. Still, he was a professional, and he certainly wasn't going to mope around like some lovestruck schoolboy. At least that was what he had told himself before the thief had come to him and asked for his help lace her up. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't help but remember the way her skin had felt under his fingertips, nor could he not take in the smell of her hair. Thank god he was facing away from Arthur.

As he procured some breakfast from the wizard, he sat down and made himself focus as he ate. He knew from experience that trying to deny the things he felt would only allow them to intrude into his mind that much easier. Instead, he acknowledged his emotional turmoil regarding Unity, and decided that he would address it at a more appropriate time. By the time he was enjoying his post breakfast cig, he was ready to go.


Though not as adept as Unity at scaling the rough terrain, Mal had gotten plenty of experience traversing difficult environments during his military days. He moved with practiced confidence as he trailed after the rogue, occasionally checking to see how Arthur was getting along. The hardlight handholds that Unity provided were much appreciated as the going became rougher.

"How the hell do the little bastards get up here, anyway? I wonder if we're climbing the wrong side."

Lowering himself into a seated position, he pondered the question, "Could be they're just really good climbers. Or they could have some kind of gadget like the bridge that we haven't seen yet."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Arthur grinned as he cleaned and packed his cookware, silently smirking with amusement as he watched the awkward interactions between Unity and Mal unfold. He would never tease them (verbally) on account of their feelings, but the mage had no qualms displaying his mirth as he hungrily tore into his own well-deserved breakfast. It was a paradoxical thing to observe, and very much indicative of the sort of society they all lived it. It’s incredibly easy to have sex, but for most it’s a terribly difficult topic to talk about. 

The mutant followed his comrades after their breakfast was over. He was dressed in clean clothes (putting away his robes temporarily) and his new climbing shoes; his harness and rucksack strapped to his torso. Similarly, the black mage made up the rear as they ascended the rock face. Arthur didn’t use a rope as he scaled up the wall with his hands gripping the insides of a crack on the wall. During more technical parts of the climb, the mage clipped his harness sling into the pitons that Unity left behind, along with pieces of protective equipment that the mutant wedged into the stone. 

The mage exhaled deeply as he lifted himself up onto the ledge at the end of the last pitch they climbed. Having collected the pitons that Unity had left behind for her companions, Arthur offered the equipment back to the woman. Leaning back against the rock face, the mutant took a moment to relax, shaking his arms to alleviate the sensation of his blood pooling in the vessels of his muscular arms. 

“We’re definitely taking the long way,” Arthur responded, his knowledge and experience on mountainous terrain coming in handy. “But without a proper map, it would take us even longer to locate the passes, valleys, and ridges that would lead us to the summit without having to travel vertically. But while it’s the more comfortable route, it’s also the route where we’re most likely to run into out little friends. This is the best course of action, undoubtedly.”

@danzilla3 @Sigil Warden

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The Mountain


"Don't worry about collecting those, they disappear after I am done with them." Unity chuckled, and shooed away the offered pitons, letting them dissolve back into ambient sunlight in Arthur's grasp. "I'm glad you're here to back up my decision-making though, I was starting to doubt it was worth the effort...

The thief pulled herself to her feet, and squinted up past the glare towards the peak as best she could. A wreathe of dense cloud clung to it in a ring, unmoved by the winds at this height, and with few other landmarks to go on, reaching this band was her next immediate objective. Easier said than done, for certain. By this point the entire southeastern face had become a steep, wrinkled crag, between which fallen boulders lay wedged precariously, and the air grew ever thinner. Bioengineered lungs compensated with almost comical inhalations, maintaining Unity's oxygen levels with rib-creaking breaths. She hoped the other two would be able to keep pace without becoming light-headed, and paused several times to make sure they were all taking the same route up. Her natural and supernatural agility was no longer cutting it on these extended rises, and she too had fashioned a rope seat harness from her own cordage to keep her ascent steady.

Thusly belabored, the day seemed to careen by in a flash, and the sun was already well past its apex as the shroud of vapor hugging the mountain enveloped them. Unlike the temperate clime directly underneath, the band was abruptly cold, like a freezer box, stinging at the flesh with every slight movement, and yet warm enough to keep the body painfully aware of it. In the space of a few yards, a thin crust of frost crystallized on the shapely rogue's long eyelashes, which crinkled as she tried to blink away the bite of the swirling sleet. Her hair too, stiffened at its frosty tips into actual peaks of hoarfrost, and small icicles spun threads from the edges of her belts.

"Uh... I don't know about this..."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...