Private Tales Have you heard there's a rumour in Alliria?

A private roleplay only for those invited by the first writer

Althea

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There was no stopping the tears. The breeze forced them down her cheeks as she took in the sight and felt her soul breathe for the first time in five years.

"No." She answered quickly with a firm shake of her head and glanced at him as she wiped at her face. "No.. I'm not afraid." she answered a little more calmly and let out a breath. She had managed to ease herself, to forget about whatever worries awaited her on the ground and just remember how much she loved this, how much she'd pined for it.

She turned to look at him as he questioned her, her brow furrowing slightly and her lips parted as though she'd been about to answer before she thought better of it. It would have been another lie and so she swallowed it and decided that for now, she'd ignore the question entirely.

"Everything seems so small from up here."
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn pressed his lips into a thin line and his brows furrowed together as she brazenly avoided his question.

"It is."

The clouds below them were not thick and in between large clumps were wisps thin enough to reveal the world below. Under the canopy of night it was hard to make out much more than different shades of black which could have represented forest, animals or even people far below. But every now and then lights clustered together showed a larger populated town or city. In a way it looked almost like the starry night above. The general wasn't looking at the landscape below though, he was looking at the woman in his arms. The moon made her white hair vibrant and illuminated the contours of her face.

His eyes drifted lower to her back.
 
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Althea

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She stopped sobbing, but the tears were relentless. And yet, as hard as she tried to fight it, she couldn't help but smile. It was a small thing at first, but the more she eased, the more it grew until she was grinning so wide her jaw ached and she laughed under her breath as she let her arms spread and fingertips catch the air.

This. This was the peace she'd been missing. The unexpected silence above the clouds and the occasional mist that clung to her skin like dew and sparkled in the moonlight. Of course, she'd never feel the delight of spreading her own wings again, nor the pleasant sensation of the wind tickling through her feathers. Her smile faltered, and her arms fell to hold onto him again.

Her eyes closed and she tucked her face against the crook of his neck. She felt the sorrow like an icy chill, one she had not felt like this in quite some time. He'd given her a gift and yet reminded her of what she had lost all at once. Not that she needed reminding, but she had tried to forget how this felt. It was just as wonderful as she remembered, and her entire body ached with grief.

"Take me down.." she asked without any bite or disdain. The tone of her voice more a quiet plea than a demand.
 
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Gawyn

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Her joy was a distraction to his search but yet he still found his eyes drifting to her smile and the light in her eyes.

It was intoxicating.

He had forgotten what it was like for people who couldn't fly when they first experienced soaring above the clouds. Awe, wonder, and a happiness he couldn't really describe but that most Avariel who had ever carried another person knew. Thea was different though. This wasn't newfound joy on her face at all but like a homecoming. Her eyes swirled with memories and he wouldn't have been surprised in the least if right then she sprouted her own wings--

His eyes flickered back to her shoulders but they were covered. A frown begun to form and he opened his mouth to say something when she turned against him like a frightened child and begged him to take her down. He pressed his lips together but nodded, holding her a little tighter to him.

"Hold on," he tilted his double set of wings and begun a steady sweep back down below the clouds. Wet dewdrops clung to his clothes as the clouds broke against him and then they were through to the other side. They were over a meadow of sorts, he saw as they got lower, and did a wide circle before finally touching down amongst the tall wild flowers. With care he set her down but didn't let go.

"You've flown before."
 
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Althea

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Her eyes didn't open until her feet felt solid ground and she'd been about to step away from him when she realised that he hadn't let go of her to do so. Her brow furrowed slightly and her moonlit gaze rose to meet his, noting that there was no lilt of question in his tone. Slowly, she nodded, her lips drawn into a thin line and a huff escaping her as her shoulders slumped.

"A long time ago." she answered quietly and chewed on her lip.

"I'm sorry I snapped at you. I just, wasn't expecting it... I guess it looked pretty real though huh?.." she laughed under her breath and dropped her gaze awkwardly to the arm still wrapped around her..
 
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Gawyn

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The apology caught him momentarily off guard and both eyebrows rose at her in disbelief.

"It certainly felt real," his lips curled up into a faint smile before awkwardly uncurling his arms from around her waist. His hands lingered on her hips briefly as though afraid she would bolt the second he let go, before releasing her with a sigh. She didn't owe him any answers and she had had a traumatic enough night. He wouldn't ask. He ran his hand up the back of his neck and into his hair before glancing to the wings which arched over his shoulders.

"Do they make you uncomfortable? I can put them away."
 
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Althea

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She took a slow step back as his hands finally released her, her face a little flushed as she combed her windswept tresses back with a deep breath to calm her fluster. Her gaze had wandered reluctantly to the wings as he asked the question and her arms wrapped around herself with a brief shake of her head.

"No they're-" she cut herself off, but there wasn't another word she could think of other than the one she'd been about to say. "They're beautiful." she huffed softly and forced a small smile. She knew the discomfort in hiding wings, and she wouldn't ask him to do so for her sake despite how her chest ached every time she thought of them let alone looked at them. And yet, she caught herself staring at his wings, then his face, and she gave a weary smirk as she let her gaze fall to the grass as she turned away from him.

"Feels strange to be... anywhere else. It's so quiet.." she sighed, her arms tightening their hold on her arms as she let her eyes close just to listen to nothing. Alliria was rarely quiet, and she found her ears drawn to the soft breeze that tickled through the grasses and the leaves of nearby trees.

"What now?.." she breathed to herself..
 
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Gawyn

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What now?

The question snapped him out of his trance caused by the moonbeams dancing across her skin through the tree's canopy. It created odd little spots like a leopards, an image he thought was rather fitting for the claws she had flashed every now and then. He almost lost himself in that second skin of hers again but he reminded himself of her question and with a soft clear of the throat folded his wings as tightly as he could against his back in an effort not to offend her.

"Well... there must be somewhere you've wanted to see?" he tilted his head and the breeze caught the strands of dark hair that desperately needed a cut and blew themselves across his eyes. "I suppose... as I kidnapped you I at least owe you is a lift to a destination of your choice. What about Dornoch? I hear women rule there," his eyebrow arched.
 
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Althea

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Thea laughed under her breath at his suggestion. "Surely such a place is a myth.." she mused as she turned to him, her lips twisting.

"I think I've had enough excitement for one night. Right now all I want to do is sleep." she laughed under her breath, her hand rubbing at her brow.

"And you don't owe me anything. If you have places to be, I'm sure I'll be safe out here." she shrugged as she looked around, her silvery gaze settling on a nearby copse of trees.
 
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Gawyn

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Yes, he could just imagine Aohdan's face right now if he went back and he told the avariel with feathers that looked like crushed diamonds he had left a woman alone in the middle of the night, without supplies, to fend for herself in her new life. A life he had picked her up and dumped her into with little choice. He shuffled his feathers like an awkward youngling and then set off for the trees himself.

"It's a long flight back and it's been a long day. I could do with a rest myself - it's pretty tiring carrying heavy cargo," he mused and scratched at his beard as he walked, not daring to look over his shoulder to see if she was following. Perhaps he could see her to the next village at least so she could get her own supplies... he didn't have to babysit her every step...
 

Althea

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"Heavy carg--" she gaped incredulously, her fists on her hips and her brow quirked at the cheek of him. "I am not heavy." she protested as she sauntered after him, smiling as her fingertips trailing over the tall grass. Thea was anything but heavy, in fact. There wasn't much to her and she was aware that her bones may have been a little more visible than they strictly should have been, but even then she weighed less than she looked like she should.

She assumed he'd felt obliged to stay with her, and honestly she wasn't opposed to his company. It'd be nice to feel safe for once. Thea picked up what broken branches and twigs and dry kindling that she could and formed a small pit on some dry dirt..

"Might as well make yourself useful then." she commented with a smug smirk as she gestured to the pile as she kicked off her boots and removed her coat which she rolled up and set against a tangle of roots to use as a pillow.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn arched an eyebrow when she motioned to the pile of broken bracken and gave a snort. When was the last time he had been given an order rather than been the one dishing them out? And when was the last time he'd actually listened to said orders? The latter was a streak he had no intentions of breaking for a woman with hair spun from moonbeams. He tossed a token stick in her direction.

"You build the fire, I'll go find something to eat. I missed my dinner waiting on the docks for a pretty girl and now I'm starving," he threw her a crooked, cocky smile and then began to saunter off to one of the rabbit holes he had seen dotting the meadows side. If he could flush one of them out and catch them it would be a stringy meal but a meal nevertheless.
 

Althea

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Thea caught the stick and blinked, her lips parting with the obvious intent of spilling out some incredulous protest with a twist of insult, but she paused.

Pretty girl?

Words turned to stone in her chest and she felt her cheeks warm. She barked a laugh at her own flustered reaction to his cheeky charm and with a poorly concealed grin she growled and chucked the stick on the pile.

"Could you please start a fire, Thea? Of course Gawyn, I'll get right on that since you asked so nicely.." she mocked, sure he'd hear her as he strode off. Her time alone was spent getting a fire going and pulling herself together. Had she ever seen anyone as frustratingly handsome as Gawyn? No. Avariel were a beautiful race, but even then, she'd have been lying if she said the male hadn't made her knees feel weak at the first sight of him. It made it a little difficult for her to continue with her standoffishness, but she couldn't bear any more shame

"Ass." she murmured to herself as she poked at the flames.
 
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Gawyn

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It was slim pickings in terms of game in a wide and open meadow with only a few groups of trees. Deer, boar and larger wild-stock were probably far away in the safety of more overgrown forests. All the meadow offered a weary traveller were mice and rabbits. Maybe a mole if he was really lucky, but he focused on the rabbit tracks which were plentiful. Hunting with wings was as difficult as it looked; Avariel preferred to hunt like birds from the sky and shoot, not crawl around on the ground trying not to trip over wings twice as long as he was tall.

With a lot of cursing later and a few dented feathers he returned with skinned and prepped rabbits, their innards buried a good distance away so as not to attracted starving predators looking for an easy kill.

"It's not much," Gawyn said by way of apology for the three skinny morsels of meat which he spitted over the flame. "But they should take the edge off," he settled down opposite the fire to where she sat and let his wings splay behind him like a cloak of midnight water.
 

Althea

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By the time he returned she was comfortably reclined by the fire, her head propped on her balled-up jacket and her eyes closed as she bathed in the comforting heat and silence and let her troubles sink to the back of her mind.

Her eyes opened as she heard him approaching and she tilted her head to watch him with a small smirk. “I’m impressed.” she admitted, her voice strained with a sleepy stretch as she sat herself up and rubbed at her face.

“Thank you.” she sighed, her eyes drifting over the wings splayed behind him, unaware that she was gnawing on the inside of her cheek as she studied them through the smoky haze of the fire.

“So what will you do, when you go back?” Thea cleared her throat and awkwardly curled a lock of hair around her ear.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn blew out a long breath and ran a hand through his shaggy mess of brown curls.

"Tell the others what I found out about them," he couldn't predict how any of them would react. Opinions on what the Avariels of Orisa should do differed wildly from person to person. Even families couldn't agree. Brothers fought openly over the matter or mothers ignored their daughters. Some desperately sought that feeling of home they had been missing whilst others had mourned and moved on years ago. Returning would just be reopening those wounds they had put to rest. "It is much the same as Thysari in how we govern ourselves, it's not just my opinion that matters. Others went to do their own research elsewhere - Bhatharik, Elbion..." he pressed his lips together.

"After that I'm sure it'll be months before an actual decision is made, I'm sure you remember," he added casually and leaned forward to turn the rabbit carcasses before they were burnt.
 
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Althea

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It was so strange to sit listening to another speak of Thyasari. To speak to another avariel at all. It was difficult to shift the bitterness she felt for her own kind, but that distant sinking feeling was there and she knew that underneath it all, she pined for her home. She had never belonged anywhere else.

"Mhmm.." she nodded with a huff of a laugh, her lips pursed in thought as she sighed in sage agreement with him. She'd been so casually about to add her own comments, but the words caught in her throat and she felt a cold wash of dread as she realised what she'd almost said.
 
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Gawyn

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Almost.

His eyes narrowed a fraction as he watched her suck in a breath and clamp her lips shut. He pretended not to have noticed and continued on casually rotating their dinner for the evening, sprinkling the few bits of mint he had found in the meadow over the roasted flesh. She would be more on her guard now so the same tactic wouldn't work, at least not right now, not with her being mindful of everything she said. Artfully he changed the topic to something he hoped she would find safer.

"What about you? If not Dornoch, maybe Elbion or the Falwoods? They're always welcoming to one of our kind. I'm sure they would take you in."
 

Althea

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Thea dragged in a deep breath, savouring the pleasant aromas and trying to cover the sound of her growling stomach by clearing her throat as she settled down by the fire to wait patiently.

"Hm.." she stretched out. "I've never been to Dornoch, or Elbion. Perhaps I will find some place to settle in the Falwood." she agreed, peering up at the patches of starlit sky visible through the canopy of rustling leaves. "I haven't spent enough time in the forests." she sighed and let her eyes close.
 
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Gawyn

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Gawyn watched her over the flames of their little fire with a thoughtful frown. Why had she stayed in Alliria? With... them? The thought still enraged him. But she could have gone anywhere even.. even if what he suspected was true. Of course he couldn't comprehend what had happened for her to be alone and... wingless, but she had shown she had fire enough to survive. Why settle for being someone's pet?

"These should be ready now," he said lightly and took them off the heat and set them on a flat rock. The fat hissed and spat as he drew his sword. It wasn't what he liked to use it for but needs must demanded it. In one swift swipe he slashed the roasted bodies in two so it would be easier to eat.

"Heads or tails?"
 

Althea

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She tried not to look at him. She knew when he was looking at her with that look of consternation that he was trying to work her out. Maybe she wanted him to, maybe that way she could be herself again.. Could she ever? She'd convinced herself that she couldn't, told herself that she hated her own kind for what they'd done to her, when in reality the shame of what she'd done and what she'd become only solidified the fact that she didn't belong with them. She wasn't worthy of the race she was born into, and she'd have to live with that for the rest of her life however long or short.

The smell of the cooking meat made her realise just how hungry she was. Her stomach tightened and her mouth salivated at the thought, and she swallowed as she sat herself up and cleared her throat "Hmm heads." she smirked with a glance across the fire at him. A glance that lasted a little longer than she'd intended, for all the thoughts of her own scars made her consider his also.

"Thank you. I don't think I'd have been able to catch much on my own." she huffed a laugh.
 
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Gawyn

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"So... Best not to take you somewhere you have to hunt for your own meals, duly noted," he teased as he passed her her meal and begun picking apart his with long delicate fingers. "If not a hunter, what were you... before you found yourself in Alliria?" Nobody ever willingly ended up in a situation like hers. It was the desperate that found themselves seeking aid or protection from men such as that. His jaw clenched thinking about it.

But if he was right and she was what he thought she had to have had a discipline. She did not look too young either that she was born after the Closing. Had he met her before? Those eyes ate at him and doggedly encouraged him to connect the dots.

"I was a general," he offered casually, hoping that by answering his own questions she might feel more inclined to give him hers. "But since we've been alone, I've done a bit of farming, hunting - even tailoring."
 

Althea

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Althea's lips twisted and she shook her head shyly, her eyes falling to the food as she began to pick hers apart too. "I was a healer, of sorts." she shrugged, something somber in her tone.

She offered him a small smile as he spoke of what he'd done since the closing. "Tailoring?" she laughed under her breath. It was difficult to imagine.

"Farming sounds nice." she admitted quietly. "It sounds like its peaceful there.."

She chewed small pieces of the meat, trying to savour it. "Perhaps I'll find some work in the Falwood somewhere. A quiet little village, maybe." she sighed at the thought.

"I can't quite remember what peace feels like."
 
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Gawyn

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The fire spat as a bit of fat fell into the flames.

"You... could come back with me."

He didn't know why his kin in Thyasari would have thrown her out, or denied her aid when she had gone to the trouble of trying to procure it if her story was true. Truthfully he didn't care. The cities had been apart for so long that they now felt like separate bodies altogether governed under different rules. Unless she broke the laws of Oriasa and committed a crime on their soul, he couldn't see any of the circle with whom shared the load of leadership with him spurning her either.

"I mean... until you think more on what you want to do. I realise I took away your chance to properly plan back there," he rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly.
 
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Althea

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Thea offered him a tight-lipped smile as he made the offer to her again. Her shoulders rose and fell in a sigh and she cleared her throat quietly. "I'll consider it.." she said if only to change the subject. She wouldn't consider it, she wasn't sure if she was even permitted to go there.. If anyone there recognised her, she wasn't sure she could cope with their stares, with their knowing, and she knew it'd only drag her back into darkness.

She tore at some meat with her teeth and fell into silence as she ate, enjoying the ambience and considering her new found freedom. Her thoughts drifted back to Nikolai and her stomach twisted nervously. She could only imagine how angry he'd be.

Suddenly, she laughed. It was a sound that started off as a quiet, breathy chuckle and it gradually developed into an uncontrollable, hysterical laughter until her eyes streamed with tears and she flopped onto her back with a deep sigh as she tried to compose herself.

"I can't believe.... It was that fucking easy.... This entire time...." she snorted.
 
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