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04.19.19 - Eleuthera, Casim @ Eastern Tower

iiezu Apr 19th, 2019 (edited) 91 Never
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  1. Deathstalker Castle on Oasiz.net
  2. www.deathstalkerempire.com
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  5. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : It had been an exceedingly long week, and perhaps that showed worst in the splay of the Lich's desk. Gone were the neat stacks of incoming reports and reference tomes, the carefully, immaculately placed quills and inkwell, the aging stand of his sealing set and candles. These things were set aside and buried in favor of oceanic charts held to the desk with an empty scotch glass left behind from the night before, and Casim sat not far away, leaning back in his chair, irritated by the lack of the Navy's ability to find the Honeyscythe. Had it been an assumed name? An illusion meant to fool their unwary passengers? At least he had a few shreds of concrete information...it was a lunar cult...they'd been working ritual to return magic to the world in whatever deranged way their pagan goddess demanded. They partook of the flesh of a young man and very nearly tore apart one of his oldest friends in the world. They were dead. Every single one of them was dead, -c-
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  7. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- they just didn't know it yet, and it was everything the Lich could do not to begin an inquisition of the seedier parts of Immortalis's underworld to find these isolated cells of lunar cultists with their white robes and golden signs of the moon. He needed to be restrained in this, he knew, needed to be measured, but it was difficult...his pride demanded so much more, a reaction vastly disproportionate to the provocation. In many dark-market circles it was known that Erzabet served him, she had worked on his behalf countless times, so it would be expected of him to react with savagery the second she was crossed. How best then was he to reward them? Rising from his chair, Casim looked down at himself and cringed. He was unkempt, his robes hanging near the door in favor of straight-legged trousers and a half-buttoned homespun shirt, and thoughtlessly he reached for the toggles, fastening them, straightening them, his chilly fingertips tracing the collar to lay it down. -c-
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  9. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- It was a lovely day outside, and having no fear of sunlight, the greater undead unfastened a few of the windows and drew the panes inward to let the breeze in, to rid the air of the stuffy smell he knew was there even without detecting it himself. The map fluttered, threatened to slide off the desk with the scotch glass on top of it, and he darted over, nudging the desk with one boney hip as he retrieved both map out from under the tumbler and began rolling it up in nimble palms. Whatever the home port of the Honeyscythe was, it would have to be found later, when he had more information, when the Navy reported back their findings. He told himself that the Satyr would heal and be whole again, useful to him again, though some part of him worried that her association with him was what caused her to be a target in the first place. Tidying here and there, returning the glass to his liquor cabinet, rinsing it in a basin, he humbled himself with little tasks, -c-
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  11. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- appreciating the clarity they provided. Truthfully, he knew, no matter the immediate circumstances, it would pass, and in the moment seemed far worse and momentous than they were, but it was hard to get past the stammer in the voice he'd known for so long, to read her lengthy report about the murder of Teilos Black, to hear the stammer in her voice when he visited her that night in the temple. Some part of him was grateful for the distraction, as it carried the chilly clockwork of his thoughts away from Eleuthera, who'd been on his mind a great deal lately, far more often than was proper or polite. Even now, in such distant proximity her song still could be heard, shifting and moving alongside her as she went about her afternoon uninterrupted by these things that irritated him, and it gave him comfort. He felt foolish suddenly, returning to tidying his desk with renewed vigor, straightening, re-ordering, unable to avoid smiling to himself at the thought of her. -d-
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  15. Eleuthera : The news of Erzabet had been something the necromancer had received with shock. That Casim would use her to investigate different things was a matter of course. However this is the first she had ever been aware of the satyr being in serious danger. Injured and for a time, rumored to be dead. Ele had withdrawn from her usual evening talks with the Archlich and had not attempted to pry. The tether that connected them in the Ether - her summoning forever leaving her mark on the creature - vibrated with rage and fury. The cold, analytical kind. It seemed obvious he would avenge the grievous wrong these cult members had committed. Doubtless he was even now plotting their demise. Instead of bothering the Pale she had elected to make better use of her time tending to personal matters. The portals had been reopened and thus there had been tearful and long awaited reunions with her children. The Manor had been seen to as well. New staff had been hired and Ele had made it clear she wanted >
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  17. Eleuthera : it kept in order all year round should she or any of her children require it. Other changes had had to be made. Since her ascension to Archmage it had been her duty to assess the damage that had been done to the magical community along with her fellows during the decline. It was a blessing that crimes involving magic had been down however there were other things that required attention. The collar of livery she’d worn in the past made brief appearances during their meetings. The cabal was briefed and their work lay ahead of them. Ele selected several acolytes to lead the more errant members of her small flock and otherwise allowed the machine to run itself with only a little guidance. Before she had had her hands in too many projects but for the moment the necromancer was content to allow things to fall where they may. Should she need to step in then she would perform her duties as required. As it was Eleuthera had spent the night and morning out among the people. >
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  19. Eleuthera : The funerary rites had been followed, traditions upheld, and Ele had seen Erzabet from the crowd. Later she had approached the satyr and embraced her. The necromancer might not admit her true nature aloud but that she was there among their people was enough, she hoped. Her voice had joined the chorus and sang the fallen home into the Afterlife. The woman had taken the time to kiss the bruises on Erzabet’s face and share a drink or three. It was some time before she felt the need to return to the Tower and when she did, had slept very little before wandering back out into the Palace to spend some time with the Soothsayer should the Pale Elf be awake. And she had been, of course. >
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  21. Eleuthera : Emotions had run high and low the last few days and the necromancer decided she needed to be alone or at least not around strangers for a few hours. Or days. So she made to return to the Tower. The robes and veils she’d worn to the funeral were crumpled in a pile in her chambers and she stepped through the doorway wearing an outfit not dissimilar to the Archlich. The red curls were growing quickly and she was able to tuck them behind her ears. The usually pale complexion of the woman was a little blotchy and raw from last night, sharing in the collective mourning for the loss of some distantly related family. Ele took a moment after her entrance to splash water on her features and to gather a cup of tea. Then she wandered towards the Archlich’s office. The words of the elf’s sister still lingered in the back of her mind no matter the time of day. Ele found herself wondering about him at inopportune moments and when she should be focusing on other matters. She’d spent longer than >
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  23. Eleuthera : she wanted to admit wondering about his motives for divorcing Seren. It was going to be difficult not to mention it even a little bit in conversation over time but for now, the mood was still somber, and she stopped at the open door of his office. The scent of the mint tea she carried with her wafted into the room with the light breeze and her attention wandered from tracing the line of his shoulders to the open windows and back. “Good afternoon.” She said after a few moments, sipping the burning tea and watching him clean his desk. The sounds of the city below wandered up from the buildings and into the window. Ele stepped into the room and glanced around a little, noting the change in his attire. Suddenly she felt a little shy and wondered where the conversation should go. To Erzabet? To the quest he’d gone on with the Emperor, that she had barely spoken to him since? To his sister and the return of her madness? The cult that he now hunted? >
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  25. Eleuthera : “Have you tracked them down?” She murmured, tilting her head a little in question and making herself busy by sipping the scorching tea once more. -d
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  29. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : The necromancer's ever-present song strengthened in proximity, and he could feel it thrumming across his etheric senses like a rising, shifting chorus that heralded her approach, the Lich continuing his work on the desk, fingering through sheafs of reports, the topmost of which was Erzabet's, her usually clinical penmanship skewed with the throes of head injury. Putting it to the back of his mind, the Lich reached to smooth his gray locks, having cut them into something shorter and more manageable after his return from the Temple of Air, uncertain how Eleuthera would take the change, equally uncertain if she would even care or notice. Her voice ebbed over his turned shoulder, and though Casim didn't immediately look at her, he shook his head, "...no. They are proving quite elusive. Small cells spread out across Llarlandarl, and they know we are looking. They knew who she was when they chose her." Finally turning to regard her, it was hard not to stop short in his words, -c-
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  31. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- to fall silent at the sight of Eleuthera there in the doorway, captivated by the rich red of her curls, the striking emerald of her kohl-rimmed eyes, the dark pigment smudged from the prior evening's mourning. He'd felt it in some small way, the surge of communal grief tickling across his senses ere he worked, had seen the green flame of the dead satyr's pyre from beyond the Western wall from his high vantage here in the tower. Curls of steam from the cup in her hands caressed the sweet line of her cheek, and Casim forced himself to look away from these simple, beautiful things, focusing instead on the desk, on the questions she voiced, on the ones she didn't. "A number of cults have risen in the last fortnight, or at least finally chosen to make themselves known...this lunar cult of cannibals first...then we also have visitors from the Daughters of the Black Sun, who technically worship Sophia in the form of their Sapphic goddess, Sulis...and now," he reached for a -c-
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  33. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- hastily copied missive and offered it out to her, "I have an intercepted message to Armon Staccato about a group of goddamn vampire hunters targeting Immortalian citizens for death. It's going to be a long, bitter season, Ele." Once she'd taken the vellum perched in his hand, he withdrew, reaching to brush his now shortened hair out of his unblinking eyes, regarding the desk with a newfound sense of order, appreciating his work. "But then, if it isn't one thing it's another. It would be Belial, or Immoten, or the Dead King, or some other some-such power...and there are always cults and conspiracies, it's the nature of large cities to gather the strange and driven, I suppose." Another glance at the necromancer, and he found himself watching the purse of her lips as she read, irritated at himself for his unguarded thoughts and their antics, focusing instead on gathering up the tomes discarded on his desk and re-shelving them. -c-
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  35. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- "Cannibals, lesbian clerics, and vampire hunters," he laughed dryly, "it sounds ridiculous to condense the matter down, but there it is." Each were undoubtedly serious threats, and they would all be dealt with in turn, if indeed they could be found and uprooted. "We need a good inquisition." -d-
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  39. Eleuthera : Now that she was aware of what to look for it seemed as if he paused after taking in her appearance and before continuing their conversation. Perhaps she looked worse than she’d thought. Ele listened intently as he described the current status of his prey and those that yet loomed in the distance. All the while she was distracted by the state of his hair. Or lack thereof, really. The Archlich had always had long gray hair and when it troubled him had bound it together and out of the way. Distracted she hesitated a moment before taking the sheaf from his grasp and then reading the report. Vampire hunters. The city’s populace had a large number of undead and she could only sympathize with their collective fear. It would be a good moment for the Red Court to intervene and offer direction and surely, they would, but Ele did her best to not approach unknown vampires. They tended to disagree with her presence out of annoyance from her song. >
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  41. Eleuthera : The necromancer looked up from the missive to track the Archlich’s movements about his office and she sighed a little. “I admit, I love cults. They’re fascinating little hive minds and I enjoy watching them fall apart when you cut off the head.” She said at length, moving a bit to lean against the edge of his desk while he moved about shuffling paperwork as much as putting away the tomes he’d had out. “I thought we had an inquisition. Perhaps it’s been disbanded but.. I believe we have the bare bones of it.” Ele said with a mild frown and wondered a little, setting the sheaf he’d given her neatly onto his pile of reports from whence he’d plucked it. The necromancer sipped and looked out the window while he went about his work, allowing the silence to stretch as she observed the city she’d come to embrace as home. It’d taken long enough for the feeling to root inside of her. >
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  43. Eleuthera : “Maybe we could use these Daughters. Shape them and mold them into a new phase of Inquisition.” Ele suggested. “They’re devoted to Sophia. These other cults threaten Sophia’s people. Sons and daughters alike.” The tea was sipped and then set onto the surface of the Archlich’s desk before the necromancer stood and approached him. Barefoot as her shoes had been left near the door she made an effort to step a little loudly so he would hear her draw near. “You cut your hair.” She commented and absently reached up, pale fingertips wandering through the short gray. Forest green eyes moved with her fingers and appraised the new look of him with such a drastic change to his usual features. “It looks good. Different, but good.” She complimented and offered him a smile, distracted by the points of his ears. They had not been quite so prominent before or at least it seemed that way to the necromancer. >
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  45. Eleuthera : In another moment she realized she was invading his personal space and had touched him without invitation. Stepping back with a growing blush to her cheeks Ele turned away from him and approached one of the windows, the breeze drawing her near. “Erzabet looks awful.” She murmured as she did her best to dampen the effect that their sudden unexpected closeness had had. “I kissed her bruises and shared a drink with her. There were many fae present at the funeral. Mortals, too, after a time. The song and dance was too much for them to resist I suppose.” Ele said and eyed the landscape. “We haven’t spoken much since your return from the.. Celestial realm, was it?” She questioned and glanced over her shoulder to him. “That must have been a little awkward. An Archlich in Heaven.” Ele joked, and shook her head a bit, returning her gaze to the skyline. “I’m glad it went well though I was sorry to hear of the loss of Victoria.” -d
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  49. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : "Sordid little things, aren't they?" He agreed, admittedly curious about this lunar cult's motives and purposes. So far, they only collectively knew what Erzabet had reported, and it easily could have been some manner of act. "I'm still not certain if they intended for her to escape or not, it feels...theatrical. As debuts go, they could do no better, really." It was easy to let his anger dissolve in the pull of her song, to let himself be lulled by it, swayed into stillness by it, by Eleuthera herself. Watching her in the edge of his vision, her gaze long and distant down across the city beyond, Casim wrested his attention back to the task at hand, standing as tall as he could to replace a heavy tome on a high shelf, listening to her discuss the Daughters. "I'm uncertain where their goddess, Sulis, aligns with Sophia, but the reports I've received are curious to say the least." Curious was a vast understatement, but there was so little information to be gathered. -c-
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  51. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- "They are a tight-lipped bunch, the only information I have on the Sulistites is second-hand." The report lay on his desk, and it was woefully short at that. Returning to the desk, the Lich was adrift in his own thoughts, realizing her gentle approach only at the sweet measure of her steps, freezing in place as one pale hand reached to meander through his shorn hair, his eyes on her, unmoving, fixed on her face, on the way she seemed so quietly pleased with it, remembering to smile only as she did, though the expression was as genuine as the chilly mask of his face could allow. He was grateful that he could not blush, it would be the height of mortification. "I'm glad you like it," he admitted carefully, his chest tight with all the things he wished he could say, gathering up in his throat, demanding their release. He swallowed it all back down in favor of watching her take a polite step back, envisioning himself following, reaching for the delicate spread of her hands. -c-
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  53. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- Yet he did not. Could not. Not yet. This was not that moment, he decided. Watching her turn away, his gaze followed her turned back longingly, lingering long on the pale line of her nape beneath the burnished red of her curls. "I know she was grateful to have you near," he answered of Erzabet and the encounter Eleuthera described, "I watched the procession from the windows, but it wasn't my place to attend. I would be..." he considered the words, amused by them, "...an uninvited guest." Though, when she made mention of their time in the Celestial Spheres, the Lich grew quiet, uncertain what to say, how to answer, how to react. "It was-" he hesitated, "-illuminating, in a way, I suppose." Turning to her, he leaned on the edge of the desk to gaze at her as she watched the city below, "Victoria was a great loss to us. She shone bright and brave in the face of strange dangers that night, and she-" again, that strange hesitation, "-well, said something to me that -c-
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  55. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- has lingered. Forgive me-" his narrow fingertips laced together in thought, putting a barrier between he and the necromancer as he gathered the mess of them up in order to say what needed to be said. "I think of you often," he admitted, hating how clinical such a thing sounded, "often and, well...fondly. I've been considering what that might mean...whether I was somehow being influenced by your song...or perhaps the pact between us...and yet when I was adrift in the Void, cut off from those things, I still thought of you often. I spent hours upon hours reflecting on our time together," he watched her face, focused on any minutia of reaction, any change in her eyes, in the lovely line of her lips, "I've come to realize that this...this...adoration that I have for you came from none of those things...and I hope you can forgive me for the burden of my fondness. It is a terrible thing, Eleuthera." -d-
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  59. Eleuthera : Casim’s summation of the cults as they presented themselves was met with a small murmur of consideration. Perhaps they could pay an agent or three to make their way into the numbers of these fanatics. Surely there were those that might be bribed to switch sides as well. The fact he had not rebuffed the touch and sudden approach she’d given was reward enough for the risk she’d taken. It had been unconsciously done and still it’d been a small thrill. Casim was much too reserved for overt overtones of affection and so she’d opted instead to test the waters with that touch. Something she hadn’t done since she’d grabbed his arm in the Great Hall when climbing the dais at his side. What had come in the next minutes had been the least of what she had expected. The mention of Erzabet had made her consider revealing her true nature to the Pale that she’d known for so long but perhaps this was not the correct time. >
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  61. Eleuthera : Eleuthera was surprised at this admission and it showed in her features when she turned a little to face him. Not looking at him seemed cowardly and he didn’t deserve that treatment from her. “I..” She murmured, blinking a few times and completely caught off guard by his confession. It seems Ele and Sevasti had been wrong in their assumptions of him. He had no inclination to play the long game and seemed to speak because she had asked the correct question. This was why her shock and surprise at his words was genuine and her features conveyed that while she listened to him speak and then to the silence that filled the chamber afterwards. Suddenly she was aware her heartbeat had quickened and the blush had fully bloomed on her features. Words failed her and she swallowed hard, attempting to come to terms with fact he’d just professed being fond of her and then apologized for it in the same breath. What exactly were her options here? Did she return his affections and say she >
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  63. Eleuthera : accepted his apology as well? Did she point out the contradictory nature of his words? Ele mulled it over while the sound of blood rushing in her ears dulled her senses and she focused instead on the features of the man across from her who leaned against his desk. “Terrible? How is your being fond of me terrible?” She asked, her eyes moving from his features to his hands and then back again while she turned and put her back to the window. “Do you want to resist these feelings?” She asked, uncertain of him for the first time in a while. Perhaps he had taken his measure of her and what could occur between them and decided it a foolish endeavor. Maybe he was telling her he considered it a waste of time. Confusion wandered across her face and she frowned a little. “Are you saying it isn’t what you want?” It was the way he’d said it that made her wonder exactly what his intentions were. "Because I.. I also think of you fondly but if you'd rather not walk that path, I understand." -d
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  67. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : He wished he could commit her touch to his memory, to preserve the stroke of her fingers through his hair beneath a clarion bell jar to be recalled at will in his darkest moments.  Her reddened cheeks in the moment were a point of concern, her confusion evident in the way the edges of her eyes narrowed, the curve of her lips shifted by infinitely tiny degrees, and immediately the Lich was concerned he'd made a mistake, that the worst scenario of all, that she would look down on him for these feelings, seeming to coalesce between them.  Casim looked away as she gathered her thoughts, understandably wordless in the moment, and it felt so damn foolish to be so fixed on her next words, waiting them with eagerness and dread.  Was he a goddamn schoolboy?  A nattering quim lovestruck and stupid?  This was ridiculous, but here he was, standing here with a woman he, by all accounts and measures, loved, unable to even say the word for the power it held in the moment. -c-
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  69. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- The Lich took her words in unblinking silence, his eyes on the bare edges of her toes, unable to lift his gaze as he took her questions without immediately answering, her questions on the verge of heartbreaking, the guilt he felt surrounding his attraction to her immense in scope. "You know what I am," he murmured softly, "you know what I had to do in order to become...this thing. You have seen me at my most fetid and terrible, you have seen the power that sustains me...so when I say that-" he cursed his lack of elegance in the moment, hating that the words he wanted to speak wouldn't come, "-when I say that my love could be a terrible burden to you, I mean it. I would understand if you were hesitant to accept it, knowing these things, having seen these things." He took a measured step toward the Necromancer, then another, chilly hands reaching for one of hers if she allowed it, "I don't want to resist it, how could I? But you, it is your choice to make." -c-
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  71. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- When she said she shared his fondness, it was as though the greatest weight of his life was lifted from those narrow shoulders, the tarnished quicksilver of his eyes lifting to her's. There were things he couldn't tell her, not in this moment, he didn't dare speak of Yggdrasil's offer spoken through brave Victoria, but one day perhaps he would, and her question over his encounter there had been the key to letting these things be spoken. "I want to walk that path with you, if you will have me," the Lich said, finding his own voice oddly solemn, as though he still feared she didn't truly understand what the burden he spoke of was. Though caution was in his nature, cowardice was not, and thinking the better of both, Casim closed the distance between them slowly, giving her ample time to draw away if she wished, his unblinking stare on the Necromancer as he sought her lips with his own in a chilly, almost chaste kiss. -d-
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  75. Eleuthera : The ritual to become a lich was not unknown to her. Most necromancers went that route eventually. Their practice of magic twisting and warping them into corruption. It was inevitable they die or perform the said ritual. “I know what you are.” She repeated him after a few minutes with her voice pitched low, her eyes moving over his face while he stood close to her. To many people he was a shambling horror and yet she looked upon him and didn’t feel the fear others might. Not anymore and not for a long time. Forest green eyes moved from his gaze to his mouth and then back. Ele had offered her hand freely when he’d reached for it, her own pale fingers welcoming his touch. The necromancer had a lower body temperature than most mortals and so to her Casim felt warm, the same as she. Though he had bound himself to the monster that was the Abyss Ele felt no trepidation in his presence let alone at the idea of being the subject of his affections. Perhaps it was unwise or naive but she >
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  77. Eleuthera : couldn’t shake the sensation. The words of his confession kept wandering through the back of her mind on repeat especially when he’d mentioned his fondness was more akin to love. The sound of her quick heartbeat seemed so loud. Surely he could hear it. Everything seemed to happen very quickly when he affirmed his interest in her. The way he stepped closer, how he leaned down and the brush of his lips against hers. Ele had no desire to move away from him or push him back. Instead her eyes shut and she leaned into him while her free hand moved to grab his arm but missed, grasping the fabric of his homespun shirt instead. Heady with the feelings surfaced and acknowledged between them she deepened the kiss. After a few beats the burning in her lungs prompted Ele to pull away from his kiss and her breath was short. Opening her eyes the necromancer attempted to put together a sentence and struggled for a few beats to gather her thoughts. “Casim, I feel safe with you.” She admitted >
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  79. Eleuthera : while he lingered near her. “I've always felt safe with you, even when I glimpsed the Abyss using you. And if there’s danger around the bend I won’t shy from you just to avoid it.” Ele murmured, swallowing and licking her lips. “I’m not that kind of woman.” -d
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  83. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : The common thread of shared senses strengthened between them, her reaching hands on his sleeves, wanting to touch him, to be near him - something he hadn't expected of her, wouldn't ever have demanded of her - yet as she offered further measures of her touch, there was a reverence the way he accepted, interlacing his fingers with her own, their kiss deepening, the chilly eyes tracing across the damask of her cheek easing closed, letting everything around them be set aside in order to burn this moment into everything that he was. Long had his ardor for her smoldered in quiet places, so long had it been politely set aside in favor of respecting her relationship, even when it gave her such deep pain that it hurt him to witness only to finally, at long last, be realized. He wasn't immediately aware of the way his hand had risen to carefully cup her jaw in his palm, surprised at himself in the moment as he caressed her cheek with the edges of worshipful fingertips, -c-
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  85. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- and yet it felt so natural to touch her, to be near her. As Eleuthera withdrew, her quick breath so near to him, the Lich found himself faintly smiling, a private habit of his when thinking on her. "You -are- safe with me," he affirmed, believing it, even beyond the pact they shared, beyond the agreements they had. No, she wasn't that kind of woman, and as he watched her taste her own lips, the gesture such a simple one, it thieved his words for a shameful few seconds before he found them again. "No, you aren't that kind of woman. Your resolve and strength in the face of my storms and the dangers we have faced, and will face again, is something I have treasured in you for years. Years, Ele." Her enemies were his enemies, that much was already true, and yet as they shared these secret words with one another, it became truer still. Never would there be another as devoted to her as he, never one so willing to sacrifice, to gift his time and purpose, to annihilate for her. -c-
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  87. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- They both knew he was the kind of man that was long to consider and slow to act, every movement a deliberate and calculated thing, and yet in her presence he found himself acting on impulse more and more often. Lifting their still entwined hands, Casim watched the Necromancer over the pale spread of their touch, kissing the backs of her fingers, breathing her in, no true scent to be found, only warmth that he relished in, adored, and wanted a greater share of in its due time. "I've seen nothing but you," he murmured against the backs of her fingers, "I've counted the measure of your steps each day, listening for you, awaiting your word, your eyes, anything. I'm a fool for not saying it sooner." -d-
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  91. Eleuthera : The touches he’d given lingered and Ele knew she’d retrace this moment in its entirety later on. The way he’d carefully approached her and how gentle he was with her was endearing. Especially that he seemed to put her preferences above his own. Though he appeared a monster Casim was a gentleman and if that had ever been in doubt before it was reaffirmed now. The relationship he’d had with his first wife had made it clear he was a dutiful husband and if they were to have a relationship Ele knew she might find the same from him. Where she’d found a steadfast ally in friendship it seemed obvious she’d find more wherever this might go. The touch he’d given to her jaw tingled while he spoke and Ele reflected on the words. That Casim had coveted such things from her for so long was a surprise. Had it always been this way for him and he had simply never dared to speak the words aloud? Ele wondered about the times she’d gone to his estate for safety as much as to escape the events >
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  93. Eleuthera : between she and her intended husband before he’d died and how quickly he’d welcomed her. The days she’d spent struck silent and how he worked nearby on his orchids, far enough away to respect her privacy but close enough to keep an eye on her. Eleuthera had been going over their time spent together since Sevasti had whispered Casim’s secrets before magic returned. It seemed she’d either been blind to it or had acknowledged they might have been something should their respective partners not been involved. As it was then there was nothing to be done about it. Now? Ele leaned into him while they stood so close. “Years?” She asked, her voice pitched low while her senses were full of him and she was a bit dizzy from their kiss. Ele watched his mouth as he lifted her hand and kissed her fingers, her gaze transfixed on the image for several beats. It was a moment before she realized what he’d said and she smiled a little. “At least you said it. It must have been difficult for you >
  94.  
  95. Eleuthera : over the years.” The necromancer said, her free hand moving to run through his shorn hair once more. The redhead leaned forward to brush her lips against his brow and then straightening. “I had no idea. I’m a fool as well then. We were both spoken for, though.” -d
  96.  
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  99. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : The line of the Necromancer's body against his own, the warmth between them, it was something he'd never dared hope for even in his wildest imaginings, this sweet contact with her something that threw his thoughts out of balance, out of the rigid structures he'd assigned for them both over the decade and a half they'd known one another. Though he'd maintained these lines between them out of respect for his colleague and her life, steadily they were beginning to dissolve, and it gave him a strange joy to see them bridged as he slipped an arm around her, palming the small of her back through her blouse. "Years, but there was nothing to be done," he agreed, "you were living a tender life outside of my reach, and I-" he blinked against the fractured memories, the shade of some woman he did not know lingering like a faceless wraith in countless images, "-my duties lay elsewhere. It was difficult, certainly, but the respect I bear you allowed nothing else." -c-
  100.  
  101. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- "It wouldn't have been a good thing to know, not with the troubles you were facing," he grew quiet as she stroked his hair, his eyes easing closed, the soft press of her lips on his brow like a blessing he received with reverence, "it wouldn't have been fair to you."  He did not celebrate the ending of her prior relationship, had not waited for it or willed it to happen, and though he could not remember her, the descriptions of his relationship with Seren suggested he had been his dutiful self, perhaps had loved her, even if every tender thought for the empty space in his memories had been taken from him. This was a different time, a different place, and as much as he hated them, had cursed them over the years, perhaps, just this once, the Gods had smiled on them. Reaching, he ventured to trace the edge of one crimson curl around his fingertips, finding it so very soft, so perfect against the the sweet curve of her cheek. -c-
  102.  
  103. Cαsιм·Cryтιĸos : -c- She was beautiful, and fierce...so very fierce. Though he did not look at it as the memory came, the sharpened letter-opener she'd stabbed him with so many years ago out of defense of Rashun still gleamed up from the desk's polished surface, to Casim it had become a treasured keepsake, a symbol of her. Even her rage had been lovely to behold, if not a measure terrifying to him in its intensity. She intrigued him, held his attention in a way no other could, and perhaps it could be told in the way he gazed at her. "Thank you," he finally said, "I hadn't dared to hope." -d-
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