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Fantasy Primacy [Closed]

‘I don’t think you know what a truce is.’ Varick didn’t say that, as he waited for Drazhan to set terms or…something. Instead, he just reminded him that they were traveling together, for a while. Varick shrugged, aware of this, not aware of Drazhan’s point. He could ignore the tension the way Varick would be doing.

He could not address Varick for anything other than business.

They’d get along fine.

“If you want a truce other than us not killing each other, and keeping our charges alive, you are going to have to propose terms. I can’t change how I feel towards you. Nor can you change how you feel towards me.” Sure, Varick could try to do that by actually getting to know who Drazhan had become, but he didn’t want to.

He didn’t care.

He just wanted this over with.


Kirsikka wouldn’t be starting any fights, but she was still a bit amused with how Malina backed down. She was almost disappointed. Riling Malina up was fun, when she wasn’t bound in chains. At least, when Malina could respond. It seemed she really had taken a blow, though. And Mikhail was keeping the peace.

So it was back to romance, a boring topic.

Although Kirsikka did snicker at the thought of a romance for Malina. “Please let me help. Sincerely. Seeing Malina go around lovesick would amuse me,” and give her something to target in the future if she ever got upset with Malina again. She’d omit that detail. Malina probably understood it well enough without it being said.

“Besides, you can’t go to a tavern for someone. They’re all too flammable for Malina. I’d say try a sailor, but….” Well, everyone knew the drunken sailor song.
Drazhan swallowed what he truly wanted to say. To let out years of pent up emotions, from anger to despair. He wanted to punch the older Primal and scream at him to acknowledge anything of that horrible day, to tell him how he truly felt instead of just casually pushing him off again and again.

“But you don’t know how I feel,” he said, voice steady. “You never knew how I felt about anything, even back then, because there was no time for emotions.” They were a weakness and only got in the way of a monster hunt.

Enough humans believe that Primals are emotionless.

Drazhan turned away from Varick with a sigh, resigned to the fate of the pain in his chest, never getting a chance to heal. “But despite everything, I don’t feel anger.” Just anguish and longing for a person standing just a few feet away, but would do nothing to acknowledge him.


Malina gave a disgusted noise. “I don’t get lovesick.” She makes men lovesick over her, not the other way around.

“Oh, I’m sure everyone gets lovesick at least once in their life,” Tamsin said, leaning forward with her elbows on her knees.

“Well, there was this one guy back when we were teenagers,” Mikhail said, looking up at the ceiling in contemplation.

Malina shot him an icy glare, daring him to continue that story. He held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “But we were all quite different as teenagers.”

“I was lovesick as a teenager as well,” Tamsin offered in her way to connect with Malina on some level. She didn’t know the mage, aside from that she and Kirsikka did not get along. At all. Malina gave her a look, but it wasn’t her normal icy glare. Something a bit softer. “Unfortunately it ended with the Red Whisper separating us.”

He was still alive, though, and last Tamsin heard, he had a family of his own now.

“But it’s okay to feel the ridiculous feelings of love. It’s part of the experience of life.”

Malina snorted and shook her head. “Love is for fools.”
Drazhan, once again, gave him nothing. No terms for a truce. Nothing but the whinging of a child who thought he was so terribly misunderstood, and the attempt to get Varick to listen by claiming he wasn’t angry. ‘I asked for a simple thing.’ If he didn’t understand, why not explain?

Varick was never worth that effort, of course. He was just supposed to get it. Then again, Drazhan never understood the lessons he tried to impart, either.

Varick wasn’t surprised that nothing had changed, except now, at least, he might have his blessed silence as Drazhan appeared to give up. He at least sounded resigned, so Varick took a seat on the ground and decided to tend to his blade.

It definitely needed sharpening up after dealing with those thick vines.


Kirsikka was intrigued about whoever this guy was. Had it been someone at the Academy? Someone before? Kirsikka had never paid enough attention to Malina’s life to notice, but she was morbidly curious now. At least she knew it was possible for Malina to become pathetic.

Well, more pathetic than she already was.

Tamsin wasn’t worth mocking for it. She clearly enjoyed it, and spoke of an old love she’d been separated from. “The Red Death was terrible,” Kirsikka never felt it firsthand, but she’d tried to help, wherever she ended up. “There was little even we could do with how fast it moved.” They could, but they had to be there in time.

That was the difficulty of it. They had no way to shield against it, but they could treat, up until a point.

“I do hate to agree with Malina, though…but I do. Love is also a terrible thing.” No amount of caring for anyone would convince her otherwise. It was terrible. It was something that tore a person apart and ruined them. It made them do the stupidest things.

And not a damn person could stop it when it happened. “Shame there’s no cure for that.”
Varick didn’t say…anything. He just sat down on the ground and tended to his blade. Drazhan felt dejected and infuriated. So the man was just going to ignore him, and that was that?

That wouldn’t do. Drazhan didn’t like that at all. He wanted some words exchanged! But Varick had always been one of few words.

“Just as stubborn as ever, I see.” Drazhan sat down underneath a tree just far enough away, leaning against the trunk. Maybe it was just a Primal quality to be stubborn. They all seem to be that way.

But also they weren’t good at expressing their emotions they wished to forget. Drazhan was like that, but Sophia had also helped him with that. To learn how to talk through the uncomfortable thoughts one wished to forget.

“Like always though, you’re going to ignore something you don’t wish to talk about, because it makes you feel a certain way that you don’t like, and you wish to forget about it.” Push down the emotions that may get in the way of a hunt. But didn’t any emotion threaten that?

“Just as bitter of an old man from when I last saw you.”


In its own odd way, hearing that even the most powerful mages couldn’t stop the Red Whisper was of some comfort to Tamsin. It was a tragedy that no one could stop. No ‘what if a powerful healer got to town quick enough.’ It was merciless.

And it didn’t discriminate between the rich and the poor, the humans and nonhumans. Whenever it touched a town, it devastated the population, and those left behind wondered why they were spared, but not their loved ones.

But it was Malina’s and Kirsikka’s next statement that prompted a gasp of incredulity. “Love is most certainly not a terrible thing.” Oh how that went against everything she believed in as an artist! “Love is a beautiful thing.”

“And it comes in many forms,” Mikhail added. He was firmly on Tamsin’s side for this one, and thought it was such a pity that Malina and Kirsikka held such jaded views on such a wondrous thing.

“Sure, it does hurt when you lose someone. I’m sure a stab in the heart would be less painful, but having those memories to fall back on is worth it, I feel. That, and the crowds never get tired of love ballads.” Love was such a universal experience, that everyone could relate to those songs.

“But these two here haven’t had the best experience with love, so naturally they’re going to think it’s nothing more than a silly fairytale,” Mikhail told Tamsin with a scoff.
Varick did indeed persist in ignoring Drazhan. The child was unable to give him terms for a truce or say anything useful, so he had no need to humor the temper tantrum that he wanted to throw. He’d let him. And ignore it. He had a blade that needed cleansed, and he needed to stay alert in case anyone from the Council of Light decided to come this way.

If Drazhan said more, he didn’t notice.

He could tune things out when he wanted to, so long as he put his focus on something, and the blade was an easy enough guide. That, and looking forward to getting back to Tamsin. Sure, he’d have to deal with Drazhan again, but in a group. He could ignore him there.

Drazhan knew that was his fate.

He was not a Primal anymore.

He was not wanted, anymore.

So Varick would remain as he was until finally, the portal was made to draw them back.


Kirsikka did roll her eyes at Tamsin’s incredulous gasp, as well as Mikhail egging it on. She expected it, but that didn’t make it less annoying. “You know, Mikhail, you could support me in having something in common with your sister, since we’re trying not to kill each other.” Kirsikka only half-joked.

Really, he should encourage anything they agreed on for peace.

“Who knows? Maybe it’ll be the tie that truly bonds us, our mutual disdain towards love,” and of course, she couldn’t resist going further, since it would be a torment to Malina, “Maybe even the tie that makes us see how wondrous love is as it binds us closer and closer, until we find that we’re feeling it for each other.”

She couldn’t say it with a straight face.

Or without laughter in her tone because, no, that would never happen.

Even so, she looked at Malina, “What do you think?” obviously Malina would rather burn her alive.

At least the murderous feelings were also mutual.
The feeling of dejection and pure isolation only grew when Varick remained silent. His heart broke, though he would never tell Varick. He may never even tell Kirsikka. He just wanted an honest conversation with the elder Primal, but he was denied over and over.

Drazhan sat in silence for the rest of the time, off in thought as his fingers absentmindedly fiddled with the chain around his neck.

Soon enough, but not exactly soon enough the portal appeared. Still wordlessly, Drazhan got to his feet and walked through the portal, ignoring Varick the entire time.

He was still in a foul mood when he walked through the portal and back into Mikhail’s domain. The sooner they could finish with everything, the better. He even wondered exactly how important it was for Kirsikka to go with Tamsin, or if she could find another mage.


Malina could only glare at Kirsikka and her joke. Wordlessly, she got up, moved the empty bowl of porridge into the kitchen, before heading back upstairs to her room, still never saying a word to Kirsikka.

Some things just didn’t deserve a response. Her little joke was one of them.

The remaining three devolved into simple conversation for the remainder of the time, and once the time ran up, they gathered outside for the portal to be made for the Primals to come back. Tamsin waited with baited breath to see Varick once more, not knowing what kind of state he would be in upon return.

Did he get hurt? Was he perfectly fine?

And finally she would get her answer as the first Primal made his way through the portal, followed by the other.
Creating the portal wasn’t hard, and the Primals followed with no issue. Just…silence. It was strange from Drazhan that he didn’t return with a smile, or even a comment, he just walked through, and walked by. Varick followed right after.

He spoke. “We have plenty of sap, the area was overrun. I’ll let you sort it out,” since Kirsikka was the one with the immediate need. He handed it off to her. “I’ll collect my payment from you once that’s done.”

‘What about Drazhan’s payment
?’ Kirsikka took the sap, but wondered how to divide it. Well, perhaps Mikhail would just divide the payments evenly between them so it was no issue. A problem for later. “Thank you,” she could get to work on that, and the knife, now.

Speaking of, she still had that knife. She considered handing it back to Tamsin, uncertain if she’d get to work on it then, or later. Drazhan was…off.

That bothered her.

“I’ll see what Drazhan has and get it sorted,” easiest way to escape with Drazhan in tow, so she would close the portal up and head back inside Mikhail’s, to go towards the room that had been lent to Drazhan last time. Ideally, it would still be fine for him to stay there. ‘Does Mikhail have enough rooms for us? Does he assume I’m staying with Drazhan?’ He probably did.


“Hey,” Kirsikka spoke to him, “I’ll take the sap off your hand, and then I think you need to get cleaned up.” That wouldn’t shake him from this, but it’d be a start. “I can wash you off, make sure there’s no residual venom on you.” He’d know if there was. The offer wasn’t entirely for that reason.

Nor likely the reason Drazhan hoped, but baby steps.

Varick didn’t follow them, of course. He glanced to Tamsin, “Has she made any progress?” Varick, of course, assumed Kirsikka had been working on the dagger the entire time, not fucking of
f with small talk.
Drazhan was in his own world, stuck inside his thoughts, as he exited the portal. Not even any acknowledgement to Kirsikka, which was indeed strange for him. Varick’s response to his presence, or lack thereof, wormed its way into his mind, and it left him feeling hollow.

Varick was an asshole.

He didn’t even realize he had walked back to the room he stayed in last time until Kirsikka spoke up. “Hmm?” The sap. Oh. “Here you go. There should be enough sap for you and Mikhail.” Plus what Varick had retrieved.

But he was soon distracted from thinking about Varick with what Kirsikka said next. “You can what?” he asked, stupefied. The thought of Kirsikka’s soft hands on his bare body was enough to temporarily cheer him up. He gave her a crooked smile. “I don’t suppose this means you’ll be fully joining me in the bath, does it?”


Tamsin glanced back at Drazhan and Kirsikka as they left before turning back towards Varick, silently glancing over his form to see if there were any open wounds she could immediately see. Sure, he was experienced in the area of hunting monsters, but she could still worry.

“Progress on wha-oh!” She remembered now. The dagger. The dagger Tamsin had let her borrow for the sole purpose of seeing if there was anything special with it, before Tamsin and Mikhail dragged Kirsikka off to talk to them. From researching the dagger and helping answer a few questions about Tamsin.

“I’m afraid Mikhail and I distracted her for the duration that you and Drazhan were gone,” she admitted with a sheepish grin. She stepped up to him and placed a hand on his chest. “I admit, that’s my fault. She looked like she needed a little rest.” So did the Primals.

“I take it the mission went well?” Varicked handed Kirsikka a flask, so she assumed so. “Both of you came back without any injuries?”
Kirsikka took the sap that Drazhan had to offer, and stepped away to set all the gathered sap down as he registered the rest of what she’d said. She almost rolled her eyes at his hopeful little addition.

Well, at least he wasn’t completely lost from whatever happened when he went to hunt the archespores with Varick.

“Probably not,” she didn’t give him a certainty. She was mercurial, moreso of late, “But it would still be nice, wouldn’t it?” To relax in a tub, to have someone help him wash, fingers in his hair, warm water, a chance to try and not think about anything else. Then he could rest, and she could get to work on the damn dagger she was distracted from.

And then the potion.

Dagger first, though.

“You can take the offer as it is or leave it,” she did wonder if he would. Did he only want time spent intimately if it involved sex? He’d not chosen to stay with her for sleep, although he didn’t need it then. They had yet to feel out much else about what these moments would be like.


Varick could only sigh as Tamsin broke the news that nothing was done, even though his hand fell over hers as she set it on his chest. He was annoyed there was no progress yet, but he supposed he couldn’t blame her. She would want to get to know the people around her, and while he was away, she’d end up talking.

She was friendly that way.

Kirsikka probably wouldn’t have gotten much work done anyways. ‘Soon.’ He didn’t imagine the mage wanted to delay much more than anyone else. Now that she had the potion, once the dagger gave her answers, ‘If it does.’ she'd want to move on, too.

At least, he hoped.

“It’s all right, I’m sure she’ll figure it out soon,” Varick said, “the mission went well,” he wasn’t really injured, and was pretty sure Drazhan wasn’t, either. The man had been smart enough to bring flame with him. “She was right about the location, there were plenty to deal with,” she must have hunted there herself, when she was actively using the potions.

“Is everything all right here?” he knew she trusted Mikhail, but…well, he could still check. “Is there space for us here?”
Drazhan didn’t even have to ponder on the question. “Yes, it would still be nice.” Her fingers in his hair, those soft hands with a washcloth brushing over his bare skin. It would be hard to not have something else hard, but he would love the soft, intimate moment after the mission.

Maybe it would help dispel the lingering emotions from his mind.

“Do you need me to go ask Mikhail for the tub? Or can you,” he waved his fingers in the air, “conjure one?” He would rather not leave the room and risk the chance to run into Varick again, but for the promise of a nice, warm bath with Kirsikka there, helping him? He would do so in a heartbeat.

“And if you ever want the favor returned, I’ll be happy to do so,” he added with a cheeky grin. “And there will be no funny business, promise. My hands will behave.” Even if it may be torture for him.


Tamsin smiled and sighed in relief as Varick confirmed what she already suspected and had hoped. That everything went well and nothing had happened. “Good, that’s good to hear.” They found the monsters, and they hunted them down to gather enough sap for Kirsikka’s spell, and whatever Mikhail wanted it for as well.

Upon Varick’s questions to her, she nodded. “Yes, everything’s good here, though I suspect there may be some history between Kirsikka and Mikhail’s sister? There seemed to be a little tension between those two.” She shrugged. They hadn’t attacked each other though, and that’s what mattered.

“There’s a room for us to share, with a decent sized bed.” She shifted her hand so she could grip his and gently squeeze it. “So we can have some privacy later on if you want.” Tamsin’s eyes took in Varick’s clothes, and general state of cleanliness. “Or now, if you want to get changed or take a bath.”

She wouldn’t outright say that he needed to get clean, but he just fought some monsters. Hopefully it didn’t need to be said.
Drazhan didn’t turn it down because it held no promise of more. This was nice enough, and when he asked if she could summon a tub, she chuckled as she shook her head. True, she’d never tried, and she might be able to do something, but, “I can get the tub,” she knew where it was usually kept in here, despite years being away.

She could summon the water and make it hot enough. That part wasn’t hard.

So, she wouldn’t make Drazhan get the tub. She left the room to get it herself, and did use a bit of magic to carry it. Sure, she could also carry it on her own, but why? She probably did need a bath as well, or at least to tend to the new wound on her back, but ignoring it was working so far. It hadn’t hurt in a while, and it didn’t bleed, so everything was fine.

By her, arguably, low standards of ‘fine’, anyways.

So, she returned with it and set it nicely on the ground, with the soaps she’d found in the tub. She picked those out to put to the side before using her magic to fill it with water, using the fire in the room to feed warmth into the water.


Varick did arch a brow at the comment of some history between Mikhail’s sister and Kirsikka. He didn’t know there was another here, but it shouldn’t surprise him. Nor should history between mages – even negative history. That’s more what he expected from them, anyways. So, he’d ignore it for now.

If they were willing to stay peaceful enough, it didn’t matter.

Mikhail had given the pair of them a room to share, and Varick was glad for that. Being apart in a strange house belonging to a mage wasn’t his idea of a good time. He’d just be paranoid about Tamsin’s safety the entire time and not be able to rest. He wasn’t sure he’d be able to rest anyways.

He did chuckle lowly at her implications.

Well, there was no questioning her high libido.

“I suppose it would be best if I cleaned up,” there was nothing else for him to do, except wait. He may as well be productive in that waiting. The blood, at least, wasn’t his own. “Let’s go find a tub so I can get cleaned up.” Mikhail had to have one somewhere.
After Kirsikka left to grab the tub, Drazhan stripped off the outer layers of his clothes, stained with archespore matter. Since she could easily fill the tub with hot water, he may as well get himself ready for the bath. The mental image of Kirsikka there helping him bathe certainly put his mind at ease from what happened earlier.

Sitting on the edge of the bed in nothing but his trousers and tunic, he certainly had to force himself to not think about Varick at all. Doing so would only make him upset and angry.

He smiled at her when she returned, and watched in slight fascination as she filled the tub using her magic. Wordlessly, he disrobed the remainder of his clothes, unashamed in his form before her.

Drazhan hoped she looked.

“Thank you.” He stepped into the tub and sighed as he sunk into the water. “I really do appreciate this.”


Tamsin chuckled, taking in the dirty sight of Varick after he mentioned needing a bath. “Yeah, you are a bit unclean.” She assumed the blood she saw wasn’t his, as he appeared to be in no pain, and she wasn’t even sure what the other stains were.

She led the way inside, and it didn’t take long to find Mikhail as he exited a room. “Mikhail, do you have a tub anywhere Varick could use?”

The mage spared a glance at the Primal, an amused expression on his face. “Someone worked hard, I see. Unfortunately, Kirsikka just beat you to the spare tub I have. If you don’t see her before I do, I’ll let her know you’ll need it next.”

Mikhail walked off, and Tamsin turned to Varick. “Sorry, I guess you’ll have to wait a little while for that bath. Want me to show you to the room in the meantime?”
Kirsikka didn’t look.


Out of the side of her eye, definitely, but no, she wasn’t ready to just watch shamelessly no matter what had already been seen of her. When Drazhan sunk into the tub, she did pull a stool up near him and continued to manipulate the water to get his hair soaked through without falling down into his eyes, or into his ears.

She hummed at his gratitude as she took the shampoo into her hands and lathered it up to soap up his hair. There was no rush. No need to get it in and get it out, so she allowed it to be a bit of a scalp massage, “You looked like you needed it,” she noted, “you ignored me completely when you got back.”

So it was obvious something was wrong.

She wouldn’t ask what. Varick seemed a touchy subject, so she wasn’t going to push it.


Varick groaned as he was told the tub was gone. Well, in the room he could at least get out of some of the dirty clothes, but he didn’t want to put anything clean on until he was cleaned up. Not that he knew where the room was.

Tamsin did, so he supposed the next best thing was to learn the lay of the house, and where he’d be spending his time resting. “Yes,” he agreed, “I’d like to see the room,” and he would follow her to it.

“I’m still not sure I understand how you know Mikhail,” he added, once they were in there. Nor was he sure how Mikhail didn’t pick up on what Tamsin was, but perhaps it wasn’t a thing mages sensed.

Well, Dravon, but Dravon was undead.

Fiends seemed to sense it in Tamsin.

Perhaps Calliope would, too. And be able to name it. Gods, he hoped someone would have answers soon. And hoped they didn’t involve staying around Drazhan long. He wanted to be rid of the other man as soon as he could be.
Drazhan moaned and sank further into the water when he felt the soft massaging from Kirsikka’s fingers. It felt like heaven. When was the last time he had felt such an intimate touch that didn’t lead to sex?

Probably not since Sophia was alive.

He hummed. “I did need it.” He wanted to not continue with the thought, to tell her about Varick or what happened, but upon thinking about it for a second, he continued the thought, “I was lost in my mind when we came back. The mission may have been a success with the archespores, it still was overall an unpleasant experience.”

The gentle massage provided by Kirsikka’s fingers urged him to continue. “Varick and I…exchanged some words. Or rather, I exchanged some words, and he barely acknowledged my existence. Only enough to survive slaying those creatures.”


Tamsin blushed as Varick wondered about her knowing Mikhail. There was nothing innocent about how they knew each other, and while she knew Varick wouldn't feel jealousy towards the mage, she at least hoped not, it still felt awkward to tell him.

But she couldn’t lie to him about it either. That was ridiculous.

She made sure the door was closed behind them before turning towards Varick. “A couple of years ago, he happened to watch one of my performances and approached me after the show to chat. He bought me a beer, we ended up talking for a while, and we really connected that evening.”

Tamsin cleared her throat before continuing, “I had just escaped that horrible relationship, and he gave me the comfort I had yearned for for so long. We ended up spending the next few days together and parted after that.” She sat on the edge of the bed. “We ran into each other a few more times after that, and we remained on friendly terms.”
Drazhan did explain why this was needed. The mission with Varick had been a success on the practical level, but not the emotional level. The issues between the two were still quite prominent, enough for Varick to disregard Drazhan completely.

It didn’t really surprise Kirsikka. She didn’t know Varick, but he obviously wasn’t a talker. It’d made working with him easy; she didn’t really want to talk or explain things, she just wanted ingredients. He wanted to be paid. Simple.

It would be a strain on Drazhan to continue. This had already been difficult for him; Kirsikka made nothing easy.

Her fingers did leave his scalp, to go down to his shoulders. She slid off the stool to make it easier, and she’d eventually reach for more soap to actually clean him off a bit more – after dousing his hair with water.

“I could still kill him,” jokingly suggested.

That wasn’t what Drazhan wanted. “What is it you want from Varick?” he obviously tried to get something from him, even if it was mere acknowledgment. Was he hoping to get an apology? “Would you really care to get it, if he hadn’t just…shown up out of the blue?”

He’d never really talked about that history. Never really made it seem like he needed that history. Perhaps it was as much a shock as Dravon was to her.

Perhaps he could just…let it go.


Varick’s eyes skimmed the room. It did look recently used, so he had to wonder if Kirsikka or Drazhan had used it earlier. Was he taking one of their rooms? He’d guess Drazhan’s since Kirsikka took the tub, but he didn’t know.

Hopefully, there wasn’t going to be a conflict over that.

He heard what Tamsin said, of meeting Mikhail at a performance, and obviously, sleeping with him. The kind of comfort was apparent even if she didn’t spell it out. He grunted, not jealous, though perhaps a touch annoyed they were staying with someone like that. Someone who obviously had no inhibitions about expression his desires.

If Tamsin wanted him, she’d be with him.

And he’d have to accept it if seeing him again on better mental terms, changed her mind about who she wanted to be with. He always knew this was likely temporary.

“I wish that meant it was obvious he was close to a town,” Varick sighed, “but I know with their portals that means nothing. I still don’t have a good idea where we’re at in the world.” and he really didn’t like that, either.

He wasn’t sure how safe this place really was, although safe enough from prying eyes. No one from the Council of Light had shown up to try and kill Kirsikka again.

“I am glad he was there to help you,” didn’t matter the kind of care. “Who’s his sister? Is she still here?” How trustworthy was she?

He didn't sit down, concerned about messing up the furniture.
Drazhan didn’t want to discuss Varick any further, just relax and enjoy the sensation of Kirsikka’s fingers on his skin. But he was the one to bring the subject up, and if he told her what was going on, maybe she would sympathize with him.

“Mmm, ask me that again after we’ve started traveling all together.” The killing idea didn’t sound so bad now, after fighting those archespores and dealing with the loud silence...

“What I want,” he started, opening his eyes to look up at the ceiling, “is just for a conversation that acknowledges what happened between us. I mean, I was a child when I left, but he doesn’t want anything to do with me or what happened.” He was content with ignoring Drazhan completely, but Drazhan wasn’t the one to be ignored.

“Well, considering I thought I would never see him again, or that he was dead, I wouldn’t have cared before. But now that he’s here, and we’re to be seeing each other for the foreseeable future, it is something I need.” Something he wanted, but he was to be denied.


Tamsin shrugged, wishing she could answer his questions. “Sorry, I’m not sure where he lives either. We met near Tenerife, but I know that probably doesn’t mean much for mages who can conjure up portals at the blink of an eye.” Which she knew Mikhail could easily do.

Varick was just going to have to live in darkness until they either leave, or Mikhail decides to take pity on him.

And Tamsin could only offer another vague answer for his next question. “I know his sister’s name is Malina, but I don’t know much else about her. She seems to be the silent type, keeps to herself, and Kirsikka seems to hate her, so maybe she’ll be able to give you more answers.”

Tamsin could only offer what she had observed, which wasn’t much.

“But yes, she’s still here, and it doesn’t seem that she’ll be leaving anytime soon. Why? Are you suspicious of her?”
All Drazhan wanted was a conversation, acknowledging what happened. Kirsikka didn’t know quite what that would entail, or if he’d be happy with it, but that didn’t sound impossible. Hell, she could do her best to force it on the road. So, she made that mental note. She didn’t have the background. She could ask for a retelling. That would be a kind of acknowledgment, right?

Or she could be a bitch about it.

That was the norm.

“I’m not making any promises, but I’ll see what I can do. He may think the story is told between the two of you, but Tamsin and I are ignorant, and we’ll be dealing with that heavy tension through the travel. Besides,” she shrugged, “I don’t really care if Varick likes me or not.” So she wouldn’t have a problem upsetting him, and continuing to push on it.

She wasn’t concerned he’d hurt her. Ego, but she didn’t think he could. Not that she hadn’t been proven wrong several times already.

In either case, she did let her arms drape down across his chest to give a bit of a hug. Not that it was a real one, given she was outside the tub, but she could at least press against him with her arms and rest her head near his own. “Getting closure sucks.”

She still didn’t have it with Dravon.

She didn’t think she ever would, either. Even if he…lived. In a way.

“I could also just make some truth serum,” she offered once she drew her hands back up, lazily dragging her nails up to resume where she left off, “although I’d probably have to have all of you drink it so it’s not suspicious.” Wonderfully entertaining for her. She would not drink it. “I’m pretty sure Mikhail has the ingredients.”


Tenerife did not mean much.

Nor did Malina and Kirsikka hating each other. ‘I get the feeling Kirsikka hates a lot of people.’ Or vice-versa. Given she was a literal war criminal who destroyed an entire landscape. So that wasn’t much. It was probably more a miracle people liked her, although he knew that wasn’t a surprise. People who hadn’t seen the battlefield and were opposed to Triflehem liked her.

That’s why the song existed.

It definitely wasn’t a rallying cry for Triflehem.

So Varick sighed as Tamsin mentioned that Malina was still here. “I’m suspicious of everyone here except you, Tamsin,” he stated. “They are all mages with ulterior motives for having us here, motives that surround you and your power. For all we know, they actually want to sacrifice you.”

That was unlikely, but also, not impossible.

Mages would take power from other power sources. Sacrificing that thing for power was not abnormal. Ingredients existed for a reason, after all, and they could never be something normal like basil.

“The Boreal Wind destroyed an entire battlefield because Dravon died. She isn’t to be trusted, no matter how sincere she seems. She may be working with him and not telling us.” In a way, that made Malina more trustworthy. “Drazhan doesn’t have the best judgment.” So his being with her did not make it better.
Drazhan chuckled and sighed. “I’d appreciate that.” If Kirsikka didn’t care how Varick reacted to her questioning him, then he wouldn’t either, though he would have a problem if Varick decided to strike out in his anger.

He may strike out in retaliation, despite Kirsikka able to defend herself.

Drazhan leaned into the hug, reaching one hand up to gently stroke one of Kirsikka’s arms that draped over him. “It really does.” And with Varick…it would be a miracle if he did ever get that closure he yearned for.

Surely Varick, deep down, also wanted that same closure, right?

Goosebumps erupted on her flesh where her nails dragged along, and he swallowed a moan. She said something…about truth serum. That’s it. He chuckled, “As amusing as that may be, I don’t know how I like the idea of being drugged with truth serum. Would you drink it as well?” He would definitely do it if she did as well.


Okay, Tamsin didn’t quite think of sacrifice. Did she believe it? Not really, but also, Mikhail was the only mage she knew, and she didn’t quite know him that well. “That doesn’t sound entirely pleasant.”

She may just stay near Varick during their time all together.

And he did have a point about Kirsikka. What she was capable of…what she did…that was one mage she didn’t want to mess with, yet simultaneously have her on their side. “I guess love can make you do crazy things.” Like work with the undead for some unknown reason.

She looked back up at Varick. “What’s with you and Drazhan anyways? You never told me the story.”
Drazhan truly was a creature of touch. That, or he’d just been deprived of it so long, but Kirsikka quite thought it the other, based on the reactions. It was a shame she was having issues now with all of…that. However, she made a note of it, filing it silently away with her amusement at those reactions.

“Drazhan…you ought to know the answer to that,” Kirsikka hated talking to people about anything personal, obviously she wasn’t drinking truth serum. “But, you’d have both Tamsin and Varick under it.” She’d love to get Mikhail under it, but he’d be too wise. Malina just wouldn’t take anything from her.

Maybe Mikhail, if she could rope him into it.

“You’d still be winning by having two of them under, if you want to consider all the things you could get Tamsin to tell,” whether or not there was actually much was another story, but Kirsikka wasn’t one to discourage truth serum where she wasn’t involved in drinking it.

“You can consider it,” she might consider doing it anyways. She wouldn’t say that, though. Honestly, if Drazhan still accepted food and drink from her after she already drugged him once, that was on him.

She would finish up washing him off, before rising from the side of the tub, “You can make yourself decent now, I’ll see that the tub gets returned,” she could deal with the water easily, the weight of it wasn’t an issue.


Varick held an amused frown as Tamsin seemed to think on sacrifice, and it was maybe sinking in that she didn’t really know these people, or what they wanted. Varick certainly wasn’t going to be trusting them soon. Not with the way they appeared out of nowhere, looking for Tamsin. Someone had to be wary.

He snorted at the comment of love, but supposed it wasn’t wrong. Not in Kirsikka’s case. She could very well be working with Dravon, even if she protested it. Or he at least still had a pull on her. She’d fumbled when it was brought up.

He didn’t trust it.

And he didn’t want to talk about Drazhan. Varick sighed. He couldn’t even be clean so he could sit down and talk about it. “There’s not much to it,” Varick said. “He was a Primal who decided to leave the rest of us behind, and then tarnish our name further by taking jobs against humans and other sentient creatures as a mercenary, a bounty hunter…whatever you want to call it,” Varick rolled his eyes.

That was the worst of it.

Drazhan didn’t really change careers, so much as he just changed his target. “Now more people think We actively harm and hunt down humans, because of him. He could have stuck with monsters, but he wanted a different life.”

It grated on him.

It infuriated him.

But no, it wasn’t a story.

There wasn’t anything to the youngest Primal betraying his entire family and then slandering their name across the continent. It didn't matter if Drazhan thought he was different...the world saw them as the same.
Drazhan did know the answer to his question, but he still asked it to see the answer. To see how she would react, and see what alternatives she may give. He considered her words as he stood up, unashamed in his form, and grabbed the towel to wrap around his waist before stepping out of the tub.

“While I don’t know Tamsin, I would enjoy seeing Varick under the effects of a truth serum,” he mused. And maybe he could actually get to the truth of what the elder Primal thought about…everything.

Every second he thought about it, his being under a truth serum sounded worth it for the reward he may get out of it.

At the very least, amusement.

As Kirsikka set to the task of returning the tub, part in thanks to her magic, Drazhan dried off and got dressed, and waited for Kirsikka to return.


Tamsin cocked her head as Varick spoke, the contempt clear in his tone and how curt he was concerning Drazhan. It didn’t feel like the whole story, and she knew Varick was allowing his emotions to create a strong bias in choosing what to tell.

“How do you know what he’s done since he left?” Tamsin wondered. Did the Primals just heard stories of the one who left, and spread them amongst their ranks? Did the two actually encounter one another years later, and somehow exchanged stories of what they’ve done since?


“And I left behind my town and my people, arguably when we needed each other the most.” Sometimes people just…need different things, and there should be no shame in it. “Did he truly have the intention of leaving everyone behind forever?” She still couldn’t imagine hatred for someone one used to love. Surely that love was still there…or Tamsin was just a dreamer.
Kirsikka whisked the water out the window before picking up the tub - still using that little bit of wind magic to help her take it out of the room.

And then went to browse Mikhail's wares to make sure he did have enough ingredients if she opted to do a truth serum. There were indeed enough, which didn't surprise her. Mikhail didn't have reason to fake a persona but he had plenty of reasons to mix truth serum into a tea. 'He better not already have this idea.' she made a mental note to test every drink.

She considered checking with him about a room for herself, but decided against it for the moment. She hadn't made any decisions yet, and she still had a dagger to research in any case, which she left in Drazhan's room.

She returned there. "Mikhail does have everything I'd need." She opted to tell him, as she went to where she'd lain the dagger. "They didn't give me any time to work," a bit of a mock sigh for the fake drama, "as if they don't want me to have any time at all to rest." No one would blame her if she rested.

No one but herself.

She kept having to get work done overnight for spells.


Varick's stare was dulled and more than a little annoyed. "People talk. When you refuse a deal, they say someone else did it. They even give names." To cite their sources. Drazhan's name was the greatest offender. They may not have connected, but Drazhan wasn't an unknown in the world and his crimes still reached Varick's ears.

As for intention, "He was told what would happen, very clearly. He ignored it. A child who has an intention not to drown when they jump into water not knowing how to swim, still drowns. Drazhan was no child." He was an adult, even as the youngest of them. "You didn't storm away from home." Perhaps others would have wanted her there, "I saw how everyone still cares for you."

She had left on good enough terms, never mind that things were different for Primals. Varick was always worried that Drazhan would do something that would start the witch hunts again and be the final end of them all. He'd considered ending Drazhan himself before it could happen, but he'd never been able to bring himself to it.

"He made his choice to have nothing to do with me. I want nothing to do with him, but I can tolerate him like any other client. I won't let that be the end of your quest for answers if they can truly provide answers." He wanted that for her, no matter how much he had to endure
Drazhan's existence.
Drazhan had been hoping a little that Mikhail wouldn’t have enough ingredients for the truth serum, that maybe there was just enough for Varick and Tamsin. Or just Varick. “When do you think you’ll make the truth serum?”

Maybe the sooner it was done, the better.

He chuckled at Kirsikka’s mocking antics. “I’m pretty sure everyone here wants you to rest,” he chuckled. A slight jab at her appearance, as Kirsikka did appear to need a nap or more. “And if you do want to rest and would like some company…” he let the suggestion hang in the air.

Nothing naughty. Nothing suggestive. Just to lay together, his arms around her.

“And then after you’ve rested up, you can focus on what you need to focus on.”


Varick had some valid points. That didn’t mean the entire situation didn’t sit well with her. Weren’t they family? And family should always find a way around an obstacle.

What she would give to be able to talk to her family again.

“Surely there are some things you want to say to him that aren’t steeped in anger.” Maybe that was just her naive heart. “Some things you regret saying to him, as I’m sure he held some regrets over the years as well. He left for a reason, and maybe there are things he wished he had done differently, as is natural for all of us, and I think you should listen to him if so.”

Tamsin stood up and placed her hands on his chest, ignoring the mess on him from the hunt. “As for the mercenary job, I know it’s frustrating, but also I wonder, would humans give him a chance in any other job? Or would their hatred for Primals lock him out of any other job? Did he become a mercenary willingly, or was he forced into it in order to give himself food and shelter?”
"I have your permission now?" Kirsikka arched a brow, mischievous smile on her lips as Drazhan asked about the serum. She set the blade down and walked closer to him. "Why don't you tell me, since you'll have to be under it, too, hm?"

She could do it immediately. She could wait until they were on the road. It mattered little to her, of course. She wasn't invested in Varick's comfort, only Drazhan's.

And there wasn't much comfort for him here.

There hadn't been for a while, but she didn't want to dwell too much on her guilt there. This had changed in ways she hadn't intended. Hadn't wanted.

Was still terribly unsure of, even with his suggestion. It hadn't been long ago that she'd offered similar.

She was terribly fickle. It was amazing anyone tolerated that, as she opted to reach up and wrap her arms over his shoulders, around the beach of his neck, "Maybe I'll be convinced to sleep if you promise to keep people from annoying me when I start to work. Including yourself." Still more playful than serious. Even if the request was a real one.


Were there regrets? Perhaps at one point, but not any longer. That was the past. Varick had moved on. Moving on didn't mean he had to like Drazhan, though. He closed that door a long time ago.

A part of him wanted to be cruel and ask Tamsin about her ex. About regrets and reconciliations. He knew it wasn't the same, though. He knew that was needlessly cruel, but he was getting very tired of this. He'd dealt with enough from Drazhan.

He pushed away from the wall.

"I made my peace with it, Tamsin. I will never be happy with him and his decision, but it's done. Nothing else matters. There is nothing else to say." And he was exhausted by people thinking there was.

"He talked enough and doesn't seem to get that either. I have nothing to say to him because it's done."

He went to the door. "I'm going to see if the tub is available." And see if he could bathe alone somewhere. Outside wasn't a bad option. "I'll be back later." That should be enough to tell her he was done repeat
ing himself for a night.
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Drazhan made a noise at Kirsikka’s question, not quite liking the idea, or her expression, but there was some thrill in it. “If we do this,” he said, “then you can’t make fun of me for anything I may say or profess.”

He scrunched his brows as his eyes lifted for a second in deep thought, trying to think if there was anything truly horrible he may accidentally say that could ruin things. Nothing came to mind, and he could only hope nothing he repressed came out.

Others would be hearing his truths spilling from his lips as well.

His gaze settled back on her face as her arms reached around his shoulders, and Drazhan settled his hands on her waist. One hand ventured up to brush a stray piece of hair behind her ear. “And I think I can manage those terms, if it means you’ll actually get some more rest before exhausting yourself even further.”

But oh the thoughts running through his head that didn’t involve rest.

“And yes, I promise I’ll be good.”


Tamsin frowned at the rather curt way Varick seemed to leave everything. How he brushed her off, how he avoided some of her questions, how he left the room.

She felt hurt by his brusque manner. Why are men so fucking stubborn.

Varick left for the bath, and Tamsin decided she wouldn’t be in the room when he returned. She needed some space, some air, and some time to think, so she headed downstairs, and though she had intended on going outside, she paused at the landing when Mikhail came out of the kitchen with a cup of tea. That sounded good.

“Do you mind making another cup?” Tamsin walked up to him, crossing her arms over her chest.

Mikhail furrowed his brows as he studied her with those knowing eyes. “Of course. Something the matter?” He turned back toward the kitchen, and with a wave of his hand and a slight incantation under his breath, the tea kettle came to life as it seemingly poured water into a cup by itself.

“Just, men being hard headed. The usual.”

Mikhail chuckled. “Aren’t they all.”
Kirsikka made a fairly non-committal noise as Drazhan asked her – told her – not to make fun of anything he confessed. Which, she absolutely couldn’t promise him. With all the interesting things he could say, stories that could be told, there was definitely a chance she’d want to use some of it later.

But she could be a little merciful about the use.


He was trying so hard to be good, and she did nothing but make it difficult for him. She did still want to work. She wasn’t likely to rest well with things to do. She never could. Some rest would be better than none, though, and he promised to keep people away from her the next time she tried to work, which would be that morning, so she decided to relent.

“All right,” she consented, “I’m tired enough. Dealing with people is more exhausting than work,” not entirely untrue. She didn’t dislike Tamsin or Mikhail, but Tamsin was new, and that was draining in a different way. She’d tried to play nice, so the woman would be a bit more comfortable, given they were going to have to figure out a lot together.

It’d be better if they were on the same page. “Let me dress down and I’ll join you for rest,” she emphasized, although she knew Drazhan got the point. Not tonight, although the thought bothered her, a bit.

There was a want, and there was a fear.

There was the knowledge that the next time might not be for a while because of the potion. She wasn’t having her first time with him in a disguise.

‘Not a problem now.’ She’d dress down, pushing the thoughts aside to try and focus on the rest she should be getting.


Varick found the tub on his own, and was able to go outside with it. He went about collecting water, and went through the process of warming it on his own. It took longer, but that was fine. He didn’t want to deal with the mages, or anyone else, that night. Besides, bathing under the stars wasn’t bad.

He sunk into the tub and tried not to think.

It wasn’t as hard as it could have been. He felt the weight of the thoughts, but he ignored them. He followed old constellations with his eyes, and remembered teaching Drazhan how to read the sky so he’d never be lost.

And so, Varick started to get a good idea of where in the world he was, as he cast that thought down. He doubted Drazhan retained much of those teachings, anyways. Nevermind remembering fire for the archespores.

The water was cold by the time Varick dumped the tub, and returned it.

The room was empty.

It did worry him, but he forced himself to disregard that. He’d likely upset Tamsin with his exit.

If she wasn’t there in the morning, he’d kill everyone in the house.
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