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Fantasy Primacy [Closed]

Rience observed the patch of grass that was oddly more nourished, more flourishing, than anything else around it. How romantic. Even in her anger and grief seconds after his death, she made sure her icy wind didn’t touch him. And now, that split second decision was being useful two years later, to find out why Dravon was still among them.

He watched Kirsikka in mild curiosity, seeing how she was approaching everything. The flowers may be the key to an answer. Flowers that turned from blood red to snow white.

They couldn’t keep watching the flowers forever. The sound of the horseman’s fury alerted them to their friend’s reappearance. Quickly, Rience summoned the shields again. “Are you nearly done?” The urgency was very clear.

She struggled with taking a fucking flower. “Do you need some assistance?” The question was more sarcastic than anything else, but if she needed him to grab the flower, so it hopefully wouldn’t die, then damn he would grab a flower.

In the meantime, he hurled various spells at the horseman to keep him at a distance, to give them some time to figure out what to do next.


Malina was irked that Varick interrupted their training session over something she saw as minor. Really, did he not expect her to get hurt at all? He was far too protective and doting on Tamsin. It almost sickened her. “She’s fine,” she said with a huff.

Expecting Varick to not accept her answer, since it wasn’t Tamsin speaking, she repeated what Malina said. “Yes, I’m fine.” The burn did sting like a bitch though, but she wasn’t going to tell him that. She wouldn’t allow him to cancel their session, not when she was making such great progress!

“You can’t treat her like she’s a delicate glass vase,” Malina said, strolling over to Tamsin. “Learning to hone one’s magic will involve some bruises, cuts, scrapes, burns, and anything else in between. I’m sure your Primal training likewise had many injuries.” She heard the stories. He couldn’t deny it.

Malina gently grabbed Tamsin’s arm and lifted it, inspecting the burn. She muttered a quick spell, and the burn healed, her arm as smooth as it was before. “I can heal most burns, if just the skin was singed. Anything deeper than that, such as tissue or muscle damage, requires a lot more preparation, and often doesn’t completely work. If those wounds do heal, scars will remain.” Maybe Varick would remain silent now that he knew Malina had no plans to permanently scar Tamsin.

She held no ill thoughts toward the bard, and it would be a shame to not hear her singing voice again.

“Now,” she turned and walked back to her original position, “ready to begin again?”

Tamsin nodded eagerly, and without any additional comments, Malina hurled a fire whip at her, restarting their session.
The stress of the draining and Rience’s tone definitely didn’t improve Kirsikka’s mode in trying to deal with the flower issue. She could have let go of the earth, severed it as uncleanly as she severed fire, but that frustration turned to fight instead.

Fuck whatever was draining her.

Fuck Rience.

Fuck Arias.

Fuck this fucking flower.

Kirsikka pulled back, and ice erupted out of her.

The flower she held became encased in ice that splintered out, rapidly, from the area, destroying the place where Dravon had lain with icicles that spread out and stabbed upwards, heedless of Rience; the icicles would try to pierce his shield, of course.

They were heedless of Arias – not that it mattered for Arias.

He wasn’t stricken by the spells that Rience threw, but some old memory did make the horse flinch at the familiar sound of everything cracking and going cold, so that it wheeled backwards and toppled its rider in fright, running away and leaving headless Arias on the ground, icicles stopping just before him, jagged with threats against his incorporeal body.

Not that they would hurt him now. Not as he was.

But old memories ran deep, and fear was still ever-present for the dead.

“Get your own damn flower.” Kirsikka growled out at Rience, positive he wouldn’t be able to get one without it dying. They died as soon as they were pulled up, but this one – she preserved it in the ice. She just had to find a way to keep it preserved when she let the ice melt so she could study the damn thing.


Varick didn’t care for Malina’s opinion, and did, indeed, wait for Tamsin to chime in. Not that he fully believed her, either, imagining she would downplay anything to keep going, throw herself into harm’s way to figure things out. She was near manic with fear over what she could become, she’d certainly endure horrors to find it out. He didn’t want that for her. He wanted it to be as safe and sane as possible.

He disregarded Malina’s commentary on how he could or couldn’t treat Tamsin, as the mage went over to heal the injury. He could do as he wanted, and look after Tamsin, and worry over her, as he wanted.

He would, however, accept Malina’s explanation for the injury and how easily this could be healed. It was evidence she wasn’t using powerful spells against Tamsin, and so he nodded, and leaned back against the cottage to continue to observe the training as it began again, arms folded across his chest.

He didn’t really understand magic well.

He knew, generally, how to stop a mage, as he watched Malina use particular gestures or murmur spells. He could see Tamsin picking up on that, and he wondered if that would end up being a help, or a hindrance, for her.

Muscle memory was great for many things, but he wondered if she would become dependent on the movements – that was, perhaps, the one advantage Kirsikka seemed to have, much as he loathed it.

Kirsikka could likely channel magic in chains, if they were just regular ones. Tamsin ought to know that.
Fucking hell, woman.

Ice exploded all around Kirsikka, and Rience would’ve been another one of her victims had he not had the shield around him. He was vaguely aware that something had happened to the headless horseman, but he didn’t bother to turn and look at the moment.

He just stared at the mage before him with anger and incredulity.

“What the hell is your problem?” he hissed. Perhaps Rience should have thought it obvious that Kirsikka was insane. One doesn’t get her reputation by being completely right in the head. “We’re supposed to be working together, remember?”

He let go of the shield, and looked down at the desecrated spot that once marked Dravon’s death. Taking a deep sigh, Rience let himself cool down, not because of the icicles everywhere, before attempting to talk to Kirsikka again.

He was only trying to be civil for the bigger picture. For what he was getting out of this. It would be worth it. He saw how the flowers died when Kirsikka pulled them up. Encasing them in ice may have been the best option to be able to take them to be studied elsewhere, and because of her outbursts, a few others were encased in a prison of ice.

Kneeling down, Rience carefully removed one from the ground. The ice pierced the earth, encasing the entirety of the flower.
‘You are my problem.’ Kirsikka didn’t say that. Like Rience, she regrouped with a deep breath, and gestured at the ground, “There’s a magical leech that’s been following me around,” not a literal leech either of them could see. “Sometimes, when I use magic, it tries to take it. You might want to be on your own guard,” unlikely.

Rience didn’t have magic the same way she did.

“That’s what my problem is, and that was me breaking away from it. You’re fine,” not intentionally. She hadn’t really done anything to spare him. Or to encase the other flowers, but it was done. She picked up one of the dead ones, as well, since it would be good to have both examples, as Arias was scrambling to pull himself together, and other ghosts started to notice her outburst.

Time was up for being outside the fort.

“You need help getting anywhere?” Kirsikka asked, forming up the mirror to create another portal to, indeed, get the fuck out of there before the ghosts overcame their inherent fear of the ice to try and strike.
Rience raised one eyebrow at the mention of a magical leech. And one that’s stalking Kirsikka? That sounded odd, but he wouldn’t press on the matter. Kirsikka no doubt lost her mind years ago. Something else could be affecting her magic, but it wasn’t fucking magical leeches.

He wouldn’t lose sleep over these leeches.

More ghosts began to make their way over to them, as the horseman started to pull himself back together. Now as they had the flowers, there was no point in staying there anymore. “No, I got it.” A simple spell, powered by blood he possessed, and a portal formed in front of him.

Assuming Kirsikka was also getting the fuck out of there, he jumped through the portal to arrive back at the ruins from earlier, where he first bumped into Kirskka. He really hoped those damn flowers would provide an answer, or a path to one, as he really didn’t fancy going back out to all of…that.
Kirsikka saw the doubt in Rience, but didn’t bother with defending herself. I was unlikely to bother Rience anyways, and if it did? Well, it wasn’t a great loss. He created his own portal, and Kirsikka stepped through hers, closing it afterwards to find herself back in the ruined tower – the last place she’d spent any time with Dravon in.

She could have gone straight back to the cottage from there, but instead, she stayed.

The others wouldn’t really…be happy with her decision to study Dravon’s condition. Sure, she had to explain where she went, but by then, they couldn’t interrupt. Rience, it seemed, was also inclined to stay, so despite the bit of a tiff on the battlefield, Kirsikka allowed him into her space to assist.

She had to go back for more flowers periodically, as the main task of unfreezing one and keeping it alive became an irritant, but trial and error was a specialty of Kirsikka, never one to shy away from potentially dangerous things. This wasn’t all that dangerous – the flowers just required blood. The field was drenched with it, in its way.

Rience was good at channeling it.

Of course, there was still the question of The Point, but at least the flowers could be revitalized and not die immediately. And when fed, the corpse flowers did begin to twist their petals about, almost like a puppet.

“Whatever Dravon is…it has to do with this corpse flower,” obviously. Kirsikka was annoyed with it. “It’s not a very direct method,” which was perhaps why Dravon had such freedom, “the White Sun bloomed the flowers, and somehow used it to give Dravon life….” And that’s where she lost understanding, because she didn’t know a kind of animated creature like that, or what it meant.

“I don’t suppose you’d be willing to find out if other creatures can be animated with this flower?” It was a bit of necromancy. Forbidden – but what was that to a blood mage? It didn’t have to be human. “If we understand how it animates, we’ll be closer to figuring out what Dravon is, and the blood seems to keep them alive.”

Even if they never took it back into their petals to turn red.
For a reason he wasn’t quite sure of himself, Rience stayed to help research the flowers with Kirsikka, despite their little tiff earlier. When she wasn’t talking, she was actually more pleasant to be around.

But maybe that’s why they weren’t exactly friends. She was never quiet for long.

He assisted with the flowers, providing blood when needed, and was pleased that Kirsikka didn’t ask about how he channeled the blood. There was a reason blood magic was frowned upon, but it seemed she didn’t mind when it concerned their shared interest in researching the flowers and how they related to Dravon’s current situation.

And they still remained confused after looking into the flowers more, but there was now a place where they could research further. So he nodded at Kirsikka’s request. “I can look into which creatures can be animated with this flower, and I may know where to look for more information about these corpse flowers in general.”

He wouldn’t promise that, but Rience held many times about magical practices that were frowned upon, and any flower that could reanimate was sure to be in there somewhere. It was a matter of where.

“Now since I’m sure you aren’t staying in one place for too long these day,” a slight jab at her status as on-the-run, “how should I contact you if I find anything?”
Rience didn’t flinch at the suggestion of practicing necromancy, which really didn’t surprise Kirsikka. She wouldn’t have asked if she thought he’d be too opposed to it, but often, blood magic and necromancy went hand-in-hand. That was another reason it was frowned upon. ‘But where else are the secrets to life going to be?’ And in this case, Dravon’s life.

“If they’re somewhere hard for you to get, I can likely get that information,” Kirsikka did want to know where, but she wouldn’t press Rience for it if he wouldn’t give it. They were conspirators in this, but conspirators promised much.

Dravon might not grant both a boon.

She wasn’t at all upset by his query. She was on the run.

“Even if I told you where I was, you wouldn’t recognize me,” Kirsikka stated, “I think it’s better for both of us not to be surprising the other. I can find you,” that, Rience probably knew, and detested. “But why don’t we come to an agreement to simply check back here every other night?” No, she wouldn’t give him the secret of her mirrors.

That was a mistake with Dravon.

“If one or the other doesn’t show, we can just assume there was no information that night and move on.”
Rience nodded at Kirsikka, accepting that she could find information if he had any difficulty. He didn’t expect that he would, but he would take her offer seriously, if he needed to.

He raised a brow at Kirsikka’s curious state of how he wouldn’t be able to recognize her. A disguise potion, most likely. Must be how she’s been able to be on the run for so long without capture.

Then why no disguise now and risk being seen? Just as he was able to see her? Maybe a story for another time, if he could be bothered to ask.

He hummed. “Alright, we’ll do that. Come back here every other night, around the same time as tonight.” That would be easy enough. He just hoped this little mission of theirs wouldn’t take terribly long, so that this was something he wouldn’t have to do for some time.

“If that is all, then I will see you very soon.”
Kirsikka was glad they could easily accept the terms. Although Rience was likely to see her in a disguise soon, it was still unnecessary for him to go looking for her in that form, or be assured it would always be the form of choice. She may have to consider using illusion magic to cover the disguise when she came to Mont Pellinor.

At least no one seemed to come here to strike at her. This and Mikhail’s cottage seemed the two safe places, ironically enough.

“That’s all,” Kirsikka took her frozen flower for more study, “take care,” she’d make a portal away, though never directly to Mikhail’s in front of someone else. She always saved that for a couple of portals down the road, and then, of course, she was back.

The tang of fire was already in the air when she returned, but there was no sight of Malina outside, nor anyone else. With any luck Drazhan was still sleeping, though Kirsikka knew her luck wasn’t that good. It never was. So, of course, she walked to the door as if she’d done nothing wrong and entered the cottage to see everyone gathered to eat.

Varick gave her a look. She expected him to ask where she’d been, but instead, he said, “Malina’s already taught Tamsin how to use her magic on command.”

Kirsikka’s brows lifted, then she let out a sigh of relief, “Thank god, I don’t have to teach anymore,” she hadn’t thought Malina would know how to do that, but she’d take whatever she could get.

She didn’t like teaching, and she knew she wasn’t good at it.

Varick’s surprise at that reaction was a bit unexpected, but she didn’t care. If he thought that was going to hurt her, he was dead wrong, so she took that to make a move towards the room where she could stow the flower for further research.
Of course, Drazhan was sitting in the main area with everyone else to eat his meal in peace; therefore, he wasn’t sitting near Varick.

He could sit in the same room without wanting to start an argument.

He looked up when Kirsikka came through the door, and his brows shot up as his eyes laid on her. She and Varick had a ridiculous conversation before she left to head towards their room. Oh no, she couldn’t just simply disappear, after their night together, and pretend nothing happened!

Drazhan left his food behind as he shot up and followed behind her. He entered their room shortly after she did, and he shut the door behind him, but didn’t move from it, blocking her path out. “Where the hell did you go?”

Tamsin looked up from her food as everything happened, and after Drazhan left the room, she made a noise. “I think that went better than expected.”

Malina snorted. She would bet anything that they would hear Drazhan and Kirsikka yelling in just a few minutes.
Kirsikka wasn’t surprised that Drazhan followed, nor was she even upset with it as she heard the door shut behind, and she settled the frozen flower on an end table. Her fingers smoothed over the ice, making sure it wasn’t going to melt anytime soon. The enchantment would hold. She could work on it more, later.

“Mont Pellinor,” she answered him once she finally withdrew from it and sighed, “I still had plenty to do last night,” it was said a bit apologetically. She could have told him that, but why? It would have only ruined the mood if he knew she was going to leave once he was asleep and sated.

He did look angry, though. Did he expect her to linger all night and waste those precious hours? Okay, admittedly, she probably did need to actually get more than two hours of sleep at a time. “There’s still much to do, Drazhan. I didn’t enjoy our night less for that. It was a pleasant distraction from all of it.”


Varick noted the way Drazhan got up and immediately followed. It may have gone better for them, but it probably wasn’t going to go well for Kirsikka. Or Drazhan. The other Primal was definitely not making good decisions after leaving his siblings behind, but that was Drazhan’s problem.

He grunted at the comment.

“Maybe we can leave them behind,” Varick murmured, “since you have a better teacher,” although that would mean keeping Malina along to continue teaching Tamsin on the way, but Malina seemed to know enough about this evil.

Certainly, that would be just as good, wouldn’t it? Well, actually, “Unless that dagger has more we need to learn about?” he knew Kirsikka had already returned it to Tamsin, so it likely didn’t. They could be free of them at last.
On a surface level, Drazhan was really hoping to hear that she just went for a long walk and lost track of time. But to hear that she went to Mont Pellinor? As a wanted woman?

He made a noise deep in his throat that signaled his extreme dissatisfaction at her answer, and when she said last night was a pleasant distraction, his face fell. “Was that all last night was for you? Nothing more than a distraction?”

It certainly meant more to him than that.

His eyes diverted over to the frozen flower for a second, wondering at it. Wondering if her risking capture or death was worth that flower.

“So what was important about why you had to go to Mont Pellinor last night? What about it couldn’t wait?” Drazhan allowed his voice to remain level, even, for now, but the urge to yell grew with every passing second.


Tamsin frowned at Varick’s comment. She didn’t like that idea, as she was already set on Kirsikka and Drazhan joining them. Besides, she didn’t think Malina wanted to leave her brother anytime soon. She seemed…done, with everything.

But Tamsin did have a better teacher in Malina…and Kirsikka really seemed to not like being her teacher, which Tamsin was just a little insulted at. Just a little.

She shrugged at Varick’s next question. “Yeah, I would say there’s probably a lot left to learn about it, and I believe Kirsikka wanted to run more tests on it.” Which would mean they would need Kirsikka, and thus Drazhan, to join them.

“Do you think you could handle having Drazhan joined us if they were to accompany us?” she asked Varick with a side grin. Oh, that would be interesting…but also interesting for song writing! Even if Varick wouldn’t like that.

Kirsikka was terrible at this. She palmed her face immediately as Drazhan clarified if that was all it was and groaned, “No, that’s not all it was,” the truth serum won her no favors, apparently, in understanding, but when should she ever expect that? “It’s just all I think to call it when I have things to do, but it’s…it’s more than that.”

And she was used to calling it that, when her work would be interrupted by Dravon.

What he’d call it when she interrupted him.

Things were not nearly so casual here.

The levelness of Drazhan’s tone was the most worrisome part, and she sighed, and dropped her hand, gestured to the flower, “In case you haven’t noticed, we’re on a time table about Tamsin, and the one person who knows anything, happens to be looking to figure out what he is. Considering he’s undead, I went to where he died to find clues, and I found them. So, that’s what is so important.”

Dravon, in other words.

She could pretty it up by mentioning Tamsin and the time issue, but it was Dravon. There was no way that was going to escape Drazhan’s notice. But none of them were going to help, determined to believe he was evil because, why, undead? Her ex? The reasoning didn’t really matter; she’d worked with shadier situations.


Varick wasn’t pleased the dagger might keep them around, and he did lift his gaze to Malina, “Could you research the dagger?” Kirsikka could part with the information she knew, and Malina could carry on from there with tests, or anything else, right? She was a capable enough mage, and this seemed to all relate to her former faith.

At the inquiry, even with the grin, Varick deadpanned, “I have tolerated worse,” he didn’t want to travel with either of them, but he would if it was necessary.

He was just hoping to find ways to make this not necessary.

Whatever Kirsikka wanted with the White Sun, it didn’t have to involve Tamsin. And whatever Tamsin was to the White Sun, it also didn’t need to involve Kirsikka. He also had an idea that it might be better if they weren’t together.

Not simply because he disliked Kirsikka.

Two mages of strange powers together…and apparently, two mages of strange powers that Dravon wanted to be together…didn’t bode well. Their powers likely complimented in some way, or harmonized, and that could be a bad thing.

No, Varick was fairly sure it was.

Distance would work better, certainly.
Drazhan crossed his arms over his chest as he stared down Kirsikka in her attempts to explain things. He may have looked stern on the outside, but he was trying not to lose it on the inside. No, she had to have a good explanation, and what happened last night had to mean more to her than a simple distraction.

But the truth serum revealed much to both of them, and with that memory, and her continued explanation, he allowed himself to relax some. But her mentioning Dravon didn’t allow him to fully relax, and he grunted.

“I just…” he sighed. “I just wished you would’ve told me before you left and had me worried about where you were.” He brushed his fingers through his hair. “I may have understood why you needed to go right then!”

Maybe not.

All he could think of was what if she had been captured, and he couldn’t save her. And there was the fact he knew she hadn’t gotten much sleep recently. But he also knew how stubborn she could be.

“So how does that frozen plant over there play into all this?” he asked, motioning with his head towards the flower encased in ice that she brought back.


Malina was hardly paying the lovebirds any attention, but when Varick asked her the question, she sighed and looked over at them. “It pains me to say it, but if you want all the information on the knife that there is, Kirsikka is meticulous with her research and is far more knowledgeable on cursed objects than I am.”

She didn’t even look at them while she spoke, too absorbed in her book and tea. “Besides, I don’t wish to join you on your little journey, especially if it means having to tolerate Kirsikka on the road.” She may not be out to arrest and kill the ice mage anymore, but that didn’t mean she wanted to be friends.

Tamsin looked back at Varick with one brow raised. So no, it looked like he wouldn’t luck out and have Malina on their journey instead of Kirsikka and Drazhan.

“Good!” she said with a cheery smile. “So I won’t have to worry about any sudden shouting or fighting matches on the road then, right?” She more so worried for Drazhan and his need for Varick to so much as to look at him again. Just tolerating his presence isn’t enough for the young Primal.
Well, Drazhan wasn't shouting, but he wasn't happy, either. Understandable. "I'm sorry," she did chuckle, a little, "you looked too peaceful sleeping, I didn't want to wake you." What was peaceful sleep even like? Kirsikka could definitely use it.

She didn't hide the details of the flower, "It's a corpse flower. They're usually red, but this was used in whatever brought Dravon back to life. They were growing where he fell." She didn't need to add it was the only space where life existed.

She didn't need to add anything that reminded Drazhan how dear Dravon was.

"I was able to use magic to see it happen but it didn't tell me enough. I know a flower settled into his chest. I know if I pick one without freezing it, it immediately withers. I know it seems to feed on blood," despite not being red. "I don't know how it all goes together. I've never heard of a spell that used these flowers to animate the dead, but I also didn't study necromancy."

Which led to the next problem. "I'm going to have to steal some books on the topic though. I don't plan to practice!" She hastened to add, "but I need to know what's going on. We all do. Unless you know of something off-hand?"

Maybe he had some deep lore on corpse flowers and beasts.


Varick grit his teeth as Malina denied accompanying them. She considered Kirsikka the better researcher, and didn't want to be around her, which Varick couldn't really argue. He didn't want that, either.

He was also familiar with the dynamic.

Some of the best Primal hunters were terrible teachers. They didn't know how to teach and lessen the lessons to be useful. Then the teachers couldn't always use their own lessons as effectively themselves, but they could teach it.

"You'll have to learn as much as you can while you can, Tamsin," Varick sighed. "And I can't promise anything. Drazhan has a temper." Weren't they all anticipating a screaming match from his borrowed room?

He wouldn't initiate any fights though.

Or he'd try not to at any rate.
Drazhan sighed. “That is not a good excuse, and you know it,” he said with a point of his finger. He would definitely prefer to be woken up for something like that! But he would let it go. For now.

And he listened as she explained the corpse flower. He wanted to say he heard the name before, but he wasn’t sure. But he definitely did not like the sound of everything.

“You’re messing around with very dangerous shit,” Drazhan warned, voice deepening. And of course she wanted to steal some books on necromancy! Why oh why couldn’t I fall for someone normal.

Because he wasn’t normal. And her eccentricities were part of what drew him in.

Drazhan thought for a moment when Kirsikka asked him about any knowledge he may have, but he ultimately shook his head. “Nothing is coming to mind at the moment. But,” he sighed, “if you’re going to steal these books to learn more, we need to make sure Varick never catches wind of what you’re doing.”

He didn’t want to imagine the consequences of that.


Malina decided to interject once more before getting lost in her thoughts again. “Don’t worry, little bard, I’ll keep training you until you all leave. I’ll be sure to even give you tips for honing more of that ability of yours on the road, far from a teacher, unless Kirsikka has a change of heart.”

Maybe unlikely. Maybe she’ll decide that Tamsin is too great of a risk to not continue studying with a teacher.

With that, she turned away from them.

“See? I think I’m in capable hands.” But their time left at Mikhail’s house just wasn’t enough time for her to learn everything she needed. Did a mage ever truly stop learning, though? Tamsin learned new things about her craft every so often, and some would consider her a master at her instruments.

She’ll just have to see if Kirsikka would help her out on the road.

“Well, I know you can at least try and maintain the peace. For me?” She gave him a slightly begging look, making sure her lip was pouting. “Besides, I think we’ll all have enough stress to worry about. We shouldn’t add to it where we can help it.”
Kirsikka folded her arms over her chest at the ‘not a good excuse’ and the warning tone. Although she rather liked the warning tone. She wouldn’t mention that, just arched a brow. Obviously, Kirsikka knew she was diving into dangerous things. How could it not be? Yet, what choice was there?

They needed to know what Dravon was. She couldn’t rely on Rience to get all of it, though maybe she could have him keep the books when she wasn’t using them. “Don’t worry,” Kirsikka shook her head, “I can keep going off at night and doing what I need to do. I won’t bring anything back.”

Varick would never see a single book on necromancy. “Mont Pellinor seems to be a…well, safe isn’t the word, but the Council didn’t come after me there, so they may not be willing to go there themselves.”

No wonder why. She suspected plenty dead would also harm them. Shame they hadn’t figured out how to deal with that mess she created. “I’ll be careful


The look did nothing for Tamsin. The fact the topic of Drazhan and ‘keeping the peace’ was constantly brought up to him, only agitated him further. Had he not said enough by force last night? Had he not made all his thoughts clear? He wasn’t going to start anything! “You should be telling this to Drazhan,” he put his hands on the table and rose. “I’m not the one who’s starting the problems.”

They wanted him to keep the peace, after all, and this was just pissing him off. Something no one else seemed to grasp, or else they didn’t care. “I’m going to tend to Marzipan.” He hadn’t seen her that morning and he really ought to, “you can discuss what you need to with them.”

It didn’t seem like they were going to be starting a yelling match, and Tamsin apparently had more to figure out with the dagger.

And she should be telling this shit to Drazhan, as he indicated. He didn’t need to be present for it. He could at least offer him that much dignity, even if no one else gave a fuck who heard him be told to behave.

He would, indeed, leave the house on that note to head towards the stables.
Drazhan made a noise of discontent at Kirsikka’s asinine statement that she could keep going off at night. “And when are you supposed to rest? You’re still recovering, and you aren’t exactly at your best when you’ve had no sleep,” he told her, recalling early in their journey together when she barely slept and stumbled over her magic as a result.

Maybe he’d ask Mikhail to whip up a sleeping draught for her.

“You need some nights where you actually get a full night’s rest and don’t go wandering off to cursed lands.” Surely they could compromise here! And, if he was being a little selfish, he wanted to wake up with her in his arms.

That morning was unpleasant from lack of her warmth.

“Do you have to go every night? Can’t you go like…every other night or something?” he asked, hoping she would see reason.

And as for whether or not Mont Pellinor was safe, he would trust her for now on her judgement on that. It may be safe from the Council, but there was a reason for that.


Caught off guard, Tamsin didn’t go after Varick, instead allowing him to cool off in solitude with his horse. She was afraid she would make matters worse if she tried to make things right.

Instead, it would be Mikhail who decided to pay Varick a visit.

“Do not fret about your horse. I’ve been making sure they’ve been taken well care of.” Of course they both knew he wasn’t there to simply check up on his horse to make sure it’s been properly seen after.

“These horses will probably be spoiled from traveling and too much excitement after resting here,” he chuckled, gesturing to Marzipan and Luna. “Though, I’m sure you’re not as eager for this rest and prefer to be on the road.”

Or, at least, the Primal didn’t want to be so close to someone who had apparently hurt him in the past.
Kirsikka didn’t intend no sleep, but less sleep each night, yes. She was aware it wouldn’t keep her at her best, but did she need to be, with Drazhan, Varick, and Tamsin? They could handle the monster fighting; someone had to handle the research portion, and she didn’t think any of them were really good at that.

Maybe Varick, but she didn’t want Varick involved.

But through all of Drazhan’s complaining, she heard the whine. The pleading for something he wasn’t directly asking for and she sighed, rolled her eyes a bit as she cocked a grin, “Was it really so bad waking up without me?” Why were men like this? Gods, perhaps she should have fallen for Malina when she was younger! Or at least a woman.

“I don’t intend to go without. We can figure an order of guard shifts. Varick, myself, you – I can leave on your shift, and be back by the end of it.” She’d get some sleep on Varick’s shift, perhaps a bit on Drazhan’s when she returned. “Or take the starting shift and give you the second shift, be back before the third…I’m not intending too many all-nighters.”

But they would be there. There was no denying it.


Varick heaved a sigh as he heard yet another voice tail after him when he tried to be alone. No, he really wasn’t going to miss this place at all. He’d be glad to leave. ‘Why aren’t we?’ Did Tamsin need to learn a bit more about her powers first? He’d have to ask her later when they could leave. He was already exhausted of this entire situation, and knew he was only going to continue to grow in resentment towards everyone.

Especially Mikhail who played a hand in seeing to all of their poisonings.

Mikhail didn’t ask any questions. He just made assumptions, as Varick calmly went over Marzipan’s tack and didn’t look over at him. He grunted affirmation that Mikhail was right – he wanted to be gone from here – as he picked up a brush to get Marzipan all brushed out.

He knew the horses weren’t being mistreated, but that didn’t mean he didn’t care about Marzipan. Only a heartless wretch didn’t miss their horse, or their dog, when they were separated. Marzipan may indeed be destined to die long before he ever did, but that didn’t mean he loved her less for that.

“If you have a point, Mikhail, get to it.” Varick stated, “I’m tired of all of you mages and your tricks.”
Drazhan paused and scoffed at Kirsikka’s insinuation. No, that wasn’t the only reason for his arguments, but it certainly would have been nice! He wasn’t normally the type of guy who left the woman after fucking her, and he didn’t really appreciate it happening to him.

He yearned for contact and human touch.

He sighed at her bargaining, and ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t completely hate the idea,” he offered. “But I don’t completely like it.” That was a given. “I suppose you want to keep the others completely left out of what you are doing in your free time?” He didn’t blame her one bit.

Varick would go off the handle if he found out where Kirsikka was sneaking off to, and what she was researching. Tamsin…well, she was still a wild card in his mind. He didn’t know enough about her to how she would react. But he was more worried about Varick.

“Just as long as you do eventually get some sleep,” he said, crossing his arms. “Even if you are traveling with others who could easily defeat any creature or foe we come across, it would be best for you to not get too fatigued.”


Mikhail held his hands up in a gesture of surrender and that he had no ill intentions in his visit. “I’m just here to visit as a friend, I promise. No subterfuge, no tricks.” Granted, Varick had every reason to not trust him, given the truth serum incident.

That was worth it.

“You just looked like you needed someone to talk to. Maybe someone to rant to?” he offered, picking up a brush hanging on the stable wall and going over to Tamsin’s horse to begin brushing Luna. “I know you have no reason to like me, except for the fact I provided you shelter and food.”

He waved a hand. “But that’s hardly important. I won’t hold that over your head for some small favor in the future. Believe it or not, I’m not that kind of person, unless you’ve done something to piss me off.” Which, Varick hadn’t.
Kirsikka nodded. Obviously, she wanted to keep the others out of what she was doing. All that would matter to them was that she got answers. They didn’t need to know how, or that she was making deals with the undead for said answers. Or blood mages. Or reading up on necromancy, likely enough to be able to practice it.

She wouldn’t.

‘You won’t.’

Kirsikka found she didn’t fully trust herself.

That didn’t matter, either. “Eventually,” she said, and meant it, but how it would play out in practice was anyone’s guess. She had things to do, and Drazhan already knew how relentless she was when there were things to do. Already, her mind was away to where books were, and whether or not Malina would be up for a trip to kill some cultists.

Or perhaps Malina could show her someone she could create an illusion of. Or perhaps she could just use Malina’s likeness? They didn’t quite know she had betrayed them yet, did they? All the witnesses were dead.

She shook her head, realizing she’d barely heard the rest of what Drazhan said. Not a good sign for her appearing rested and lucid, “I will sleep some, I promise. There’s just…a lot. I need to check with Malina, the books I want are likely held by the Council of Light and getting into their library is going to be a pain.”

Idly, she wondered if Rience was even considering it.


“We’re not friends.” Varick pointed out flatly.

Mikhail might throw the word around loosely, but Varick didn’t. He had one friend here. At least Mikhail knew Varick had reasons to mistrust him, given all that had happened. “I have no reason to rant,” again, flat.

He didn’t leave Mikhail on that. It wasn’t a secret, “I said all that needs said. I will not be picking fights with Drazhan, but his emotions and reactions are not my responsibility. They are his. People seem to want to continue to make me responsible for how he feels, and how he reacts based on that. That is not my job, nor will I make it my job.”

He would be peaceful.

He would not throw any punches.

But he wasn’t changing for Drazhan either.

Perhaps Mikhail understood given his sister, perhaps not. He could not answer for everything that she did.

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