AS Afflatus: Issue Twenty-Two

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afflatus prompt: he's been stealing dreams

Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:41 pm

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characters: eleea, rhea, azura tags: none words: 536
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  • Standing in front of Pariah Abbey was a feeling that Eleea would never be able to shake from her bones. Between the devoted, and expectant, oracles that perused the yard to the marble statue of their prince inside, mere metres away from where she stood -- it was overwhelming, and made her feel much smaller in the scope of things. Out of place. The vestige herself was not religious by any stretch. Sure, she acknowledged the existence of the princes of Oblivion, but she refused to worship any of them. A sour taste passed over her tongue, but she shook it off and pulled herself together, fingers brushing the wood of her staff as she slipped it onto her back.

    Clearing her throat, she approached the Oracle she'd grown to know the most, a kind smile settling on her face. "You sent for me?" Rhea immediately turned to the vestige, nodding frantically, gently tugging on her arm to pull her off to one of the side alcoves of the abbey.

    "Yes, I do apologise for the short notice and stressed urgency," the oracle began, her eyes flicking in each direction as she attempted to steady her breathing. Eleea offered her support through patience, resting a hand gently on Rhea's shoulder, a murmured "take your time" following. "It's the King." Eleea was silent for a moment, but the second she saw the fear that shrouded the oracles eyes, she knew that she was utterly serious. "Speak with the Lady of Twilight for guidance. I think..." There was a long pause, Rhea falling short of words.

    "Please, Rhea. Get some rest. I'll handle this." The vestige's words were gentle, contrasting sharply against the adrenaline that was pouring through her body. King Emeric was not her king, however. No, Eleea served Queen Ayrenn as her Eye, and swore fealty to no-one else. And though she had taken to delving into enemy territory, she left her political stance and alliance at bay for the sake of the people in Tamriel.

    As the vestige approached the statue of Azura, she gave a slight wince at the voice that pounded in her head, overriding her thoughts entirely. "Heed, mortal. The Dreamstride has claimed King Emeric. One of Vaermina's wretched priests is in my beloved Stormhaven. He has been stealing dreams and replacing them with the terror of Vaermina, sowing chaos and destruction amongst my children. Go now, find this priest and slay him in my name." Though Eleea didn't take too kindly to Daedric Princes, she had grown to realise the love (albeit harsh) that Azura offered. It was definitely a far cry from the wrath of Molag Bal, which she knew all too well.

    "As you will," Eleea responded, dipping her head out of mere respect for the Prince of Dawn and Dusk. She knew how tasks like these ended up -- kill the Prince's followers, kill the Prince's priests, kill the Prince themselves. She saw the end of this dark, dark path, and it would end with either her or Vaermina's defeat, which Eleea was determined to make sure it would always be her walking away from the field of battle. As she always did, the ever faithful toy soldier she was.
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prompt: he's been stealing dreams

Fri Apr 26, 2019 7:58 am

  • featuring: avery & hunter word count: 1357 cw: slight reference of past trauma

    For the first time in over a year, Avery lifted his head from the pillow feeling rested. This wasn't noticed until Avery was already swinging his legs over the edge of the bed in pursuit of coffee, but when it was realized it caused the man to freeze. The feeling was so unsettling that Avery glanced over his shoulder to make sure the man he had fallen asleep next to was the same in his bed now, half of his mind jumping to some unnatural conclusion. Reassured that it was still Hunter snoring softly and drooling on his sheets, Avery continued his progress out of bed almost carefully. He was still going to make coffee.

    Always on time, Hunter ascended the stairs to the kitchen to the notifying beep of the black coffee maker sitting next to the fridge. As usual, Avery sat at the dining table in the next room, nose buried in the morning paper. It was Hunter's job to pour two cups from the four cup kettle and add milk to one before pouring a bowl of cereal. The black mug was placed in front of Avery when Hunter sat down across from him to enjoy his breakfast of cheerios. Nothing was ever said until the newspaper was put down.

    "Did you notice anything weird last night?" Avery asked after folding the paper and setting it down on the table, followed by placing his now empty mug on top. Hunter just shook his head with a raised eyebrow to encourage elaboration, but he received none. Avery was lost in his own thoughts. If e wasn't going to share there was no use pestering so Hunter stood and reached for Avery's cup to refill but was stopped by a hand grasping it, holding it against the table. "Just one this morning." In all the time that Hunter had regularly stayed overnight, Avery has not once had less than two cups of coffee to start the day so this prompted outright concern. Avery went on before Hunter had to ask, aware that he would have to spill either way. "I didn't dream last night," he confessed almost uncertainly. He hadn't realized that until he'd been halfway through reading the paper and the realization caused him to read the same three lines three times over while he tried to process it.

    Hunter was markedly less surprised than Avery had expected him to be. He just stared down at Avery for a moment, expressionless, before giving a short nod. "Well, maybe it's getting better. Enough time y'know?" Avery didn't look convinced but Hunter didn't give him much time to dwell on it, already on his way to set their dishes in the sink.
    "I guess so," Avery was forced to agree.

    This went on for the rest of the week. Avery woke only once each night to the morning, unsettled and a little disturbed to find that he had no dreams to recall and only needed one cup of coffee. Once again at the end of the week, he tried to ask Hunter if he'd noticed anything odd but received the same response, a rather indifferent sort of shrug and the suggestion that perhaps he had just had enough time to heal enough that the dreams were fading. Left with no other options, Avery was forced to agree, although he had his doubts.

    For over a year, every night that he'd fallen asleep Avery had been woken several times to vivid dreams. At first, he tried to avoid sleeping but that had proven unsustainable. Later, he tried drugs, sleeping pills, and alcohol, but that too had proven only mildly successful and left him so tired he could barely function. In the end, the gang leader had settled on dealing with them by being woken up in a cold sweat multiple times a night, haunted by pepsi cans and pre-poured glasses of water and adding coffee to his morning routine, an energy drink for the afternoon. At least this way he could maintain some semblance of sanity, although the later the hour was the harder it was to keep together. Hunter helped wherever he could by offering assistance around the house, and reliably tuckering Avery out well enough before bed that he could fall fast asleep for at least a few hours. And despite Avery's tossing and turning that undoubtedly kept him awake, Hunter insisted in sleeping in his bed next to him time and time again when Avery mentioned that it was ok if he went home, that he didn't mind if the man he hooked up wasn't in bed with him the next morning.
    As such, Avery thought it reasonable he was a little perturbed by the sudden disappearance of his nightly disturbances as well as Hunter's lack of the same.

    The blissful, rested mornings didn't last long though. On the ninth day of no dreams, Avery was back to two cups of coffee. The day after, Hunter poured himself an extra glass. They both had darkening bags under their eyes, and while Avery could run himself into the ground without a second thought, it wouldn't do to have Hunter at anything but the top of his gang. After all, most of the time, Avery's life was in the other's hands. He'd been trained to take what men were giving him, not fight them; Avery couldn't protect himself if he tried and they both knew it.

    The morning paper was set down early that day, still open to the second to last page. "Am I keeping you up at night? You really need to start going home to get some sleep," Avery insisted before Hunter could interrupt. "Are you dreaming?" The answer was unexpected and prompted a truthful answer. "No." That didn't mean he was any less unsettled by it though. It was only then that Hunter added, "I'm not going home." He did not leave it up for discussion as he stood from the table and took his half-empty cup back to bed with him.

    If Hunter wasn't going to look out for himself, Avery was. That night, after Hunter's breathing deepened and settled, Avery slid from the bed as quietly as he could. It had taken a while, longer than he had expected, but unbeknownst to him, they had been playing a game of who could outlast the other. The house was dark by pitch dark by now and Avery was ready to fall asleep standing up as he shuffled his way up a flight of stairs, through the kitchen, to the living room where he collapsed onto the couch and only halfway pulled up a blanket that had been lying at the end of it.

    When Avery jerked awake a couple hours later hard enough to spill himself onto the floor from the couch he startled Hunter awake as well, who was sleeping in the reclining chair across the room. The unexpectedness of the other man in the chair had Avery on his feet faster than he could wake up fully. He stumbled back into the couch and by the time he was getting up against, Avery had enough time to realize it was just Hunter. He stayed seated then, glaring across the dimly light room at the other man. "What are you doing up here?" he demanded. At this point he was not going to take no for an answer, this was absurd.

    Hunter was still rubbing his eyes as he came to, groggy and a little cranky. "Wake you up," he responded. Avery was taken aback and a little confused; what was that supposed to mean? Thankfully, Hunter had the sense to go on. "I just shake you. You didn't wake me cause you're over there. Now let's go to bed." It took Avery a few moments to piece together the man's sleepy ramblings, but when he did a slow smile graced his lips and he accepted the offered hand to follow Hunter back to bed. As he feared, Avery had been waking Hunter with his tossing and turning, but Hunter had been returning the favor.

    Hunter had been stealing his dreams.
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ᴘʀᴏᴍᴘᴛ : ɢᴏᴏᴅʙʏᴇ

Sat Apr 27, 2019 5:56 pm

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      ───────── (ᴄᴏᴜɴᴛɪɴɢ ᴀʟʟ ᴛʜᴇ ᴅᴀʏs ᴜɴᴛɪʟ ɪ ᴅɪᴇ)──
      Character(s):Azarius Word Count:1,092 Warnings:N/A
      Reminiscent were the days Azarius had the memories his brother and him. Long before the bloodline child was born. Hell, even long before Ezras had been created. His other half had come in the form of a twin brother; and everyone knew that when an other half was gone, they were gone for good. Love wasn’t a thing in their world. Love, he could only guess, was a curse to the children of Satan. Well, almost all of the children of him. Festus practically radiated love, and who could blame him? The name his mother had given him literally meant ‘Festive’, but the point was that he didn’t quite belong in their world. He was too… much. Too much love, too much joy… in fact he was so much that it practically nauseated the demon. As for Ezras? Well, he was too set in his chaotic ways to ever feel sickened by anything, even his own self. But of course, there had been other times. Times where he felt as if he needed to protect the other two, just because he was the oldest. No, that wasn’t quite the reason, but perhaps all of his reasons had initially been more selfish than he thought them to be. There had been a hope with both of the siblings, that they could fill a kind of void that had been left when the first one left. But there wasn’t the same feeling, nor was there any similarity to that of the darker haired demon. And from then on, he realized better than anybody that every single human, demon, even the angels who only saw in terms of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ that everyone was different. Not because of their asinine or rather boring ways of life, but because of their ties. How they feel about others, and even what makes them feel in the first place.

      The fusty memory of him and his passing rang so clear through his head. It was crystal clear with the feeling of a soft breeze and the smell of a field full of buttercups. Every now and again he dreamt of the memories, only as if to reminisce and bathe in the memory of the short time he had spent on Earth as a child. It had been some of the only times he understood the human world was when he was younger, and hiding away from the sun while appreciating the fresh cut grass. Unusual behavior for a demon, but not for a child. It was nice, pleasant… and the only thing that killed that evening picnic were the words, “I have come to say goodbye.” That was when the usually ataraxic memories turned into some of the most cimmerian.

      It was a joke. It had to have been, because he knew his own brother enough to know that he wouldn’t just… leave. Even if he did, he would only end up coming back… right? That day Azarius had taken the saying with a grain of salt and the context of someone going to the market, or going to an underpaid job.

      And then days passed. Then weeks. And then years. Years and years went by, and soon enough Az was the only one celebrating his birthday every year. And, overall there were only two Holidays he was fond off; Halloween, and the birthday of his other half. Or at least, what he had thought to be his birthday. Being created instead of born led quite a way to a wondrous imagination. Over time, though, his wishes turned into nothing more than velleities that not even his father was able or willing to fix. Still, that never kept him from waiting at that window, looking on to see if a miracle had arrived in the form of his twin, but he had realized that it had been all for naught a little too late. An already darkened heart turned toxic, poison practically running through his veins for lack of a better term.

      The torturous agony didn’t bode well for the man, the pain only being carried over on what he didn’t know at the time would be his last trip on Earth, due to unfortunate events that had occurred between the man who raised him, and someone he supposed was akin to an uncle from a human standpoint. Perhaps what stuck in his mind the most was seeing the headstone in the graveyard. It was unnamed of course; why wouldn’t it be? He didn’t know the other to be very sociable, or even very kind to most other people outside of the family. But he didn’t need a name to know the obvious, especially not when the vibrations from that particular stone had been so strong -- much stronger than any human soul could have ever hoped to be.

      He went back later that evening, putting a bouquet of white roses down on the grave. If he could cry, or even had the heart to cry no less, perhaps he would have. However he couldn’t bring himself to do so, couldn’t bring himself to look weak in front of the other, even though he was deceased. No, not deceased; he had gotten obliterated, otherwise he might have turned back up in Hell, at home, with the rest of them.

      He must have said more words that day than he had in his entire life. He talked to both the stone and the sky as if they were old friends, and he was sure the people who went in out of the graveyard for one reason or another either pitied him or thought he was crazy. Though he simply didn’t care what those humans thought -- after all they were most likely dead after almost three hundred years. It was a strange thing, to be able to talk for hours non stop, and continuing the conversation even though there were no responses to get. After all, they did have quite a lot to catch up on.

      And then the conversation came to halt, but instead of feeling sad he couldn’t help but to feel relieved, or even fulfilled in a strange way. “...Exigo a me non ut optimus par sim sed ut malis melior.” The phrase slipped past his tongue as easily as the quick witted jokes they used to share, however it felt as though just those words alone had caused a rupture in his chest; “and I’ll never forget that. But I guess now… the has come to where I have come to say goodbye to you.”
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ᴍᴇᴍʙᴇʀ ɪɴᴛᴇʀᴠɪᴇᴡ : ᴍᴇᴍᴏʀʏ.

Sat Apr 27, 2019 6:30 pm

    • 1. Who is your best friend and where did you meet your best friend?
      Ami/amnesia. is my best friend, and I actually met her on the site through the power of role-playing! And I am absolutely so grateful and lucky to have her in my life.
      2. What is your greatest achievement?
      I'm actually not quite sure? I've had many achievements, but they all seem like they're on the same level, none of them being higher than another. But it always nice when I'm able to sit down and write for hours at a time?
      3. Who is someone you aspire to be like?
      Most likely my brothers! I don't really know why, other than the fact that they're ??? absolutely awesome ????
      4. Are you a birthday person?
      Absolutely!
      5. What is your dream job?
      I would love to either be an author or own a bakery, and they're two of the only things that I've stuck with throughout my life. And, unrealistically I want to be an actress.
      6. What is your zodiac sign? Do you think it fits you?
      I'm a Capricorn, Leo rising, and ?? I don't know if it fits me. Sometimes I think it does; until someone brings up the whole 'Capricorns only care about work and money' thing, and then I refuse to be a stereotype, so ??
      7. What are some goals you want to accomplish in five years?
      Too many to count, but I'll try; 1) get to one hundred role-plays with Ami 2) Write a novel 3) Write a poetry book 4) Get a degree in ??? idk, psychology probably 5) To get out of role-play debt 6) Hopefully I'll be traveling by then and ??? I don't know, I feel like those are the only important ones at the moment.
      8. Name three places you’d like to vacation if money wasn’t an issue.
      England, Japan, and Canada
      9. If you knew you could never fail, what is something you’d attempt to do?
      Befriending people
      10. Do you believe everyone deserves a second chance?
      It depends entirely on the situation, and the feelings/emotions attached to that situation.
      11. What are you paranoid about?
      Most things
      12. What language(s) do you want to learn.
      Japanese, French, and Latin; though I'm not really all too talented when it comes to languages.
      13. What language(s) can you speak on a decent level?
      I think my English is pretty good
      14. Who was your first celebrity crush?
      I ??? don't know ??? probably John Stamos
      15. What are three things you want to do before you die?
      Travel, publish a novel, and make as many friends as possible
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prompt / i came to say goodbye / 2,912 words

Wed May 01, 2019 12:55 am

      • I CAME TO SAY GOODBYE

        ┏━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┓
        warnings: very mild sexually suggestive stuff & like one bad word
        characters: calladin, ferona (mentioned), harwen (mentioned) - mine / kova - not mine
        notes: i think it's obvious where i began to rush this (to get it done in time & because i'm tired),
        but i'm planning on re-writing the ending when i feel like it. wanted to earn the points though.

        ┗━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━┛
        x
        Calladin’s desk was still a mess of books, papers and various writing utensils when a knock at his door pulled his attention away from his work. It felt as though a spell had been broken and his conscious returned to his body at long last, leaving him in a rather disoriented and confused state as he glanced at the shut doors on the opposite side of the room.

        It was late, that much he was aware of. Calladin wasn't sure when he’d taken a break from work to light the candles that illuminated the room now. He also couldn’t remember when he’d last gotten up to stretch his legs. Or when he’d last had fetched something to drink. Or to eat. Or for how long he’d been awake by now.

        Fact was, Calladin couldn’t remember much of anything he’d done today, only that it had been a lot of horribly boring paperwork, and when the elf gazed back down at the letter that he’d been working on until the knock had interrupted him, he couldn’t remember consciously working on that either. Given that the ink was still wet when he looked at the most recently written words, it was quite obvious that he’d probably pushed himself far enough to completely detach himself from reality again.

        “Yes, enter.” Raising one hand to pinch the bridge of his nose, Calladin closed his eyes and shook his head slightly, as if that would somehow help him clear it. When he opened them again, he was almost startled to see Kova leaning in the doorway with crossed arms, his frame large enough to fill it almost completely. For a brief moment, Calladin could only stare at him, clearly surprised and somewhat wide-eyed, his fingers still pressed to the bridge of his nose.

        Kova raised an eyebrow and offered an amused smile. “Headache, my Lord?” His deep voice was calm, but had an undeniably teasing tone to it that rattled Calladin from his perplexed state almost instantly.

        “No, not yet. Though now that you’re here, my head is bound to start hurting any minute now.”

        With a benign roll of his eyes, the man snorted and pushed himself out off the doorframe and into the room, uncrossing his arms in the process. “What? Not even a thank you for checking on you and being concerned for your wellbeing? That’s cold, even for you.”

        Calladin forced himself to relax, though his stiff muscles were making that more difficult than ever. Still, he managed to lean back in his chair without any obvious signs of discomfort, crossing his own arms to mimic Kova’s previous posture.

        “If you really cared, you could have checked on me earlier. I haven’t seen you all day.” He was pretty sure he hadn’t seen the man all day, anyway. He couldn't be entirely certain, not when more than half of his day was missing from his memories.

        The moment Calladin saw Kova’s expression turn from good-natured amusement to something more serious, he realized that he was about to hear something that he wouldn’t like. He did his best to shove the sinking feeling in his gut aside, hoping that his intuition was wrong, but when their eyes met, Calladin knew he was right.

        “Yeah, about that, I…” It was unlike Kova to stop and struggle with his words like that. The elf observed him closely, remaining perfectly still even as his usual anxiety began to claw at his insides. He took in the way the man’s eyes dropped away from his for a moment, staring blankly at the pens and papers on the cluttered desk, before he pulled back his shoulders and locked their eyes together with new resolve.

        “I came to say goodbye. I’m leaving.”

        The sinking feeling in Calladin’s gut was replaced by an oddly hollow feeling in his chest. With their eyes still locked, he wasn't sure how to react. This conversation had quickly gone from their usual banter, to the dreaded conversation Calladin had known they’d lead someday. What he hadn’t expected was for it to happen so unexpectedly, and most certainly not so soon.

        A small, but persistent thought gnawed at the back of his mind. So soon? It’s been a few years now. Your perception of time is much different from his. Though he had been pushing away the reality of living with a human, Calladin suddenly became very aware of what it entailed. When he looked at Kova now - really looked at him - time had left subtle marks. The man had always been made up of sharp, highly masculine edges, but his features seemed much sharper than before, any semblance of youthful softness gone. He hadn’t changed drastically, not in body and most definitely not in mind, yet it became increasingly difficult to deny that he had aged. He’d aged like a fine wine, yes, but he’d aged nonetheless.

        Calladin realized that he had been quiet for a while, frozen in place with an unblinking stare fixed on the man who stood in front of his desk. When he moved, the ache in his muscles seemed far away, unreal even. Carefully, the elf rested his hands on the desk and clasped them together tightly, tearing his eyes away to stare at them. He blinked, wondering briefly if his eyes burned because he’d been awake for too long, or because he hadn’t blinked in a while, or because there were feelings resurfacing that he really didn’t want to acknowledge.

        “... Leaving.” Calladin echoed that one word, sounding as hollow and empty as a part of him felt. It left a bitter taste in his mouth, his next breath shuddering slightly as he took it. “When?”

        Kova raised a hand to rub at the back of his neck with a sigh, and Calladin felt his heart throb at the sight. It was one of his own nervous habits, one that the man had adapted a while ago. “Tomorrow morning. I’m… It’s important that I leave as soon as possible.”

        Tomorrow. Tomorrow morning. Once the sun rose, Kova would be gone, and he’d still be here. Now that it was too late, Calladin realized there’d indeed been signs that this conversation was imminent. Kova had vanished a lot as of late. It wasn’t unusual of the man to disappear now and again, but it had been happening more and more often in the past few weeks. And even when he was around, he’d seemed distracted and strangely occupied with his thoughts. Calladin could recall more than one instance in the past month or two on which he had woken up to an already awake Kova, absentmindedly trailing his fingers up and down his arm while he thoughtfully stared up at the ceiling.

        What had he done? Nothing. Sure, Calladin had asked if there was anything wrong once or twice, but Kova had always been quick to reassure him that everything was fine. Whenever the man had been gone, Calladin hadn’t spared those disappearances much of a thought either, simply going about his days and allowing his obligations and work to consume him until Kova returned.

        Truth was, a part of him had seen the signs long ago and just refused to accept them for what they were.

        “... Are you listening to me?” Calladin blinked, startled and confused. His gaze snapped up to meet Kova’s eyes again, who looked at him with a strangely worried expression. It only took another second for it to grow even more concerned, his eyes widening in horror. The elf didn’t understand that expression at first, far too detached from everything to try and make sense of it, until he blinked again and felt something hot spill from his burning eyes and down his cheeks.

        By the time Calladin raised a shaking hand to wipe away at one of his eyes, Kova had already rounded the desk. It was an ingrained habit to recoil when the other reached out towards him in this moment of weakness, but Kova didn’t let that deter him, moving in closer to tightly wrap his arms around him despite the fact he had to bent awkwardly to make it work.

        Calladin felt his breath hitch as a wave of emotion crashed against the dam he’d built inside of his head and around his heart many, many decades ago. “No, don’t, I…” His voice cracked as the first tremor wracked his body, as merciless as the emotions that threw themselves against their restraints again, and again, and again. He resisted for just a little longer, pushing feebly against the chest he was pressed against, but Kova’s only response was to tighten his grip until, finally, the elf gave in and allowed everything to burst free at once.

        It wasn’t pretty. The moment he gave in and slumped against Kova, everything spilled out at once, the emotions so strong it completely overwhelmed him. His fingers dug into the man’s shirt and he pressed his face into his chest, just as the first sob wracked his body and more tears poured from his eyes, unrestrained this time.

        He’d never been a noisy crier. Even now, Calladin was clearly attempting to keep the noise down, though it only made him feel worse. Never before had he felt such a strong urge to simply let go and wail like a little child, not even during the damned war, or the day Kova admitted to having been paid to sabotage him. Even now he couldn’t let go entirely, not even in the man’s tight embrace while hands gently rubbed his back and a low voice assured him that everything was alright.

        Nothing was alright though. Calladin wasn’t sure things would be alright again anytime soon.

        Kova held onto him for what felt like ages, even after he’d calmed down for the most part. Calladin’s fingers were still buried in the man’s tear-stained shirt, as though that would keep him from leaving this room and leaving him. He had turned his head to make breathing easier, but it still rested against the human’s body, while his red, swollen eyes tiredly stared at one of the dark corners of the room without taking in much of anything at all.

        When Kova moved slightly, the panic quickly flooded back into his exhausted body. Calladin gripped the man’s shirt like he was a drowning man clinging to a rock and pulled his head back to stare up at the man. “Don’t. Please, don’t let go of me, stay, please stay, I- I can’t-”

        A finger was pressed to his lips gently and the elf fell silent, but continued to look up at Kova like a scared, lost child. “Hush. I’m not going anywhere right now, just trying to get us both into a more comfortable position. Can you move with me?” Calladin nodded reluctantly and Kova readjusted his hold on his body to switch them around so that he was seated in the chair while the elf rested in his lap.

        “Comfortable?” Kova’s voice was a soft murmur next to his ear. Calladin nodded once more, reluctantly releasing his vice grip on the man’s clothing to rub at his eyes. “I’m sorry,” he whispered after a moment, voice hoarse, “I didn’t mean to… Crying wasn’t my intention, I should have kept my composure.”

        He could hear Kova roll his eyes by the way he sighed. “You don’t need to apologize. If anything, I should be the one apologizing. Telling you that I’m leaving in the morning the night before wasn’t… well, I should have brought it up earlier.” A hand came to rest on the back of his head, cradling him like a child. “I just… didn’t know how, or when. It never felt like the right time to tell you.”

        A new, nagging thought popped into Calladin’s head. “What about Ferona and Harwen, did you…?”

        “If you’re wondering whether or not they knew about my plans before you, yes.” Calladin felt like someone had just driven a dagger through his heart, until Kova continued. “But they didn’t know about it until earlier today too. I told them about it in the morning, and asked them not to tell you. I knew you were busy, but I still wanted to tell you myself. I actually waited in your room for a while, but you didn’t show up, so I came here.”

        Calladin gave a soft, slightly bitter chuckle. “You should have told me this morning too. I wasted the day doing… Gods, I don’t even remember what I’ve been working on all day. I could have… I would have spent the day with you instead.”

        A kiss was pressed to the top of his head. “I know,” Kova mumbled softly, “I’m sorry for being an idiot, and an asshole. You’re free to punch me in the face before I leave tomorrow, I’m sure your father would love that.”

        The elf’s laughter was a bit more genuine this time, if still clearly exhausted. “I’m not sure. He might, but on the other hand, showing that much emotion and lack of self-control? He’d be appalled. Horrified. Ashamed.”

        Kova snorted. “Good. Let him be appalled, I don’t want him to feel satisfied that I’m leaving.”

        Calladin sighed. “I’m afraid that’s impossible. He’d cry tears of joy, if he knew what those were.” Shifting slightly in Kova’s lap, the elf gazed up at him. “It’s safe to assume that you didn’t tell him?”

        He earned an incredulous look for that question. “Him? Why’d I tell him? Scratch that, he refuses to even acknowledge my existence, he wouldn’t even listen to me.”

        Calladin shrugged in response. “I’m certain he’d actually pay you handsomely for leaving, especially if you promise him to never come back.”

        A hand cupped the side of his face and raised it, until a pair of lips lightly brushed against his own. “Well, good thing I’m your paid personal guard then, not his. You’re the one in charge of me.”

        His heart fluttered, his next breath shaky for an entirely different reason. “Me? In charge of you? I couldn’t even get you to knock before entering my room half the time.”

        Kova cracked an easy smirk. “Half of the time, my hands were otherwise occupied already.”

        Calladin pulled back abruptly and turned his head to the side. “Stop it. Be serious.” He was aware that his cheeks were still flushed when he turned to face Kova again. “What… are you going to do? You’re not sticking your nose into wars that don’t concern you again, are you?”

        The human shook his head softly. “Nah, no wars to fight in for me. Unless you were writing a declaration of war in here, of course.” Kova peered over at the desk for a moment, before his gaze fell back down to Calladin. “It’s the usual mercenary work, really. I think it’s better if I don’t give you any specifics, but… we both knew I’d return to it sooner or later. I’m not the kind of person to remain in the same place for too long. I need a change of scenery.”

        Slowly, the elf nodded. Yes, he’d known. He’d always known, but ignored it in favour of living in the here and now. It would be better not to pry further than that; a part of him knew that he didn’t want the specifics of Kova’s work that would keep him awake at night either. Still, a question burned on his tongue, one he knew the answer to as well, but couldn’t stop from spilling past his lips anyway.

        “I know I won’t be able to change your mind. I want to, I really do, but…” Calladin shook his head, discarding that thought, before he locked their eyes. “I only ask one thing of you. Please, promise me you’ll come back.”

        He had never thought that he would feel like this about anyone. He had never thought that it would be so hard to let someone go, especially not someone like Kova. And he had also never thought that he would ever see Kova look so conflicted and pained, and that this kind of expression would threaten to shatter his heart into a million pieces.

        “I… You know I can’t promise you that.”

        The elf raised his hands to Kova’s face. “I know. I wish you could, but… I don't want you to lie to me like that. Not ever again. Not tonight.” The man only watched as Calladin moved and otherwise allowed him to lead. The kiss they shared barely qualified as such at first, but it deepened slowly, until both revealed a desperate urgency to connect in this manner one last time. By the time they broke away from each other, both of them were breathing heavily.

        “You should take me to bed. Join me one last time. You don’t have to knock, your hands are clearly occupied.”

        Kova eyed him, his gaze amused, but clearly concerned. “Are you sure you’re not too tired? I’m perfectly content just resting with you tonight.”

        Calladin shook his head and rested their foreheads together. “No. I want to. If you make saying goodbye hard for me, I’ll make sure it’s just as difficult for you. Let me… Let me say goodbye, too. I’ll turn it into an order if I have to.”

        The grip on his body changed again and Kova easily lifted him up into his arms.

        “As you wish, my Lord.”
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|afflatus prompt|

Wed May 01, 2019 2:55 am

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Miranda sat at the dark, oak wood dining table. A lit cigarette dangled from her pursed lips as the smoke encircled her face. It had been almost five years since she had inhaled the nicotine that was contained in a single cancer stick. Blake, her husband, was not a huge fan of everything smelling like smoke in the house, especially with their kids around. At this point in time Miranda could care less. Lying in front of her were piles upon piles of paperwork and receipts of purchases that totaled up to a sum that neither one of them could afford. She knew what all of this meant. The man that she fell in love with five years ago was a complete stranger now. It was clear to her now that Blake was having an affair. With whom? That was beyond her. She was not about to let it all go circling down the drain. Not now. Not after everything she had given up for him.

The couple met their senior year of high school. She was the prom queen and he was the quarterback of the football team. Everything looked so promising. No one would've expected that this is where they would end up ten years later. Come graduation, Blake convinced Miranda to hold off on attending college and travel the world with him. Hesitant, Miranda agreed to put her dreams on hold and see the wonders of the world with him. Blake's parents weren't involved in his life, so they could care less about what he did with his future; Miranda's on the other hand were your typical helicopter parents. They were furious when they found out what she planned on doing they tried to put a stop to it. However, to their dismay Miranda went with Blake anyway. To no one's surprise, they only ended up in touring the eastern border of the United States. Blake had not thought out how they intended on getting from point A to point B. Not wanting to grovel back to her parents, Miranda was determined to stay and the east and continue a relationship with Blake. He ended up taking a job as cashier at a local grocery store and she ended up as a waitress. Even though they were living paycheck to paycheck they were happy—or so it seemed. Miranda now and again daydreamed about what her life might have been like if she hadn't listened to Blake and just gone off to school.

A year had gone by and the two were still barely surviving; living in a one bedroom apartment. Barely making ends meet, neither one was ready for what was heading their way next. Miranda was late, but didn't think anything of it until a friend she had met while waitress started questioning the possibility of being pregnant. It was a possibility. A high possibility. With the stress of work and her relationship with Blake, Miranda stopped taking the pill a few months back. She never thought anything of it until the two of them got intimate. When he talked her into not using a condom, Miranda tried to explain the situation; Blake didn't want to hear it. He convinced her that them doing it once with no protection wouldn't get her pregnant. Blake was wrong about traveling the world just like he was wrong now. Miranda ended up having her friend pick up a pregnancy test on her break and she unwillingly took the test at work. To her disappointment, she was going to be a mother.

During dinner a week later Miranda broke the news to Blake. He was delighted, to her surprise. "Blake, I don't think you get it. We are not fit to be parents. Plus, I thought I was suppose to go back to school?" She pleaded with Blake, hoping she could get him to see things for what they really were. Like he did with everything, Blake brushed her comment off and took her hands, "Babe, we are going to be parents. We are going to have a child. We can do this." Miranda gave him the information about adoption and even abortion, but Blake just shook his head at the possible idea of giving up their unborn child. That same evening, while they were getting ready for bed, Blake got down on his knees and asked Miranda to marry him. In complete and utter shock, she said yes in the heat of the moment. When deep down, she knew this was a mistake.

The following month, things seemed to be looking for the struggling couple. Miranda had quit her job as a waitress to take on a job as a paid intern at a local publishing house in the city. She manage to obtain this position thanks to being on the yearbook committee and taking a few journalism classes in high school. Blake, on the other hand, went from being a cashier to now being a bartender at a brewery down the street. After letting her parents know of her and Blake's situation, they insisted on paying for any medical bills that involved their new grand-baby. With that putting her mind at ease, Miranda was able to focus a little more on her career she hoped could take her somewhere. The two found out that they were going to have a beautiful baby boy and they couldn't be happier. All of her fears about this pregnancy were pushed aside with the knowledge of her new child and soon-to-be new husband. Not long after finding out the gender, Miranda and Blake married in a courthouse with her parents as witnesses.

A year down the line, Miranda had given birth to a healthy baby boy. Together, the newlyweds named him Daniel. Miranda had worked herself up the ladder and was just announced the new junior editor, a month before giving birth. With this new title, she was able to take some time off work to spend time with her family. After a few weeks of Miranda staying home with Daniel, Blake suggested her quitting her job all together and becoming a stay-at-home mom. "Come on, Miranda. Everyone does it. They have a kid and then they stay home." Blake explained while attempting to convince her. Miranda was speechless when he brought this up to her. He really wanted her to drop everything at her job, in which she was succeeding in, to raise their child. "No, Blake. Everyone doesn't do it. Some mothers continue working and that's what I want to do. I want a career. I don't want—I will not let this child consume me." Miranda sternly told Blake. She would be damned to come this far after everything they had gone through to become a stay-at-home mom. This is where things began to take a turn for the worse. This is where Miranda should've left Blake. "You want a fucking job? Fine. Go. Go have a success career. But Daniel and I won't be here when you get back." He spat at her; his words filled with anger.

Flash forward seven years and a few months and are back where we started. Miranda sitting at the dark, oak wood dining table. An older, worn out Blake came stumbling through the front door. His odor reeking of a mixture of cheap perfume and booze. "Where have you been?" She questioned her obviously intoxicated husband. Giving her a look, he made his way over to her before plopping himself in a neighboring dining chair. "Just out drinking with some friends. No big deal." He explained while his words slurred together. Miranda flicked a few ashes from her cigarette, her opposite hand gripping the pile of papers before her. "What the hell are these then? What are these? Where do you think we have this kind of money? Who are you spending this kind of money on, because it's certainly not me or the kids?" Miranda screamed at him, tossing the various receipts and papers at him. At this point in their relationship all Miranda could do was shake her head. "You know what, Blake? At this point, I don't even care anymore. You fuck whoever you want, because I'm done. For years I let you decide what was best for me. What dreams I could or couldn't have. You stole my dreams of ever having a college education or a successful career. The only good thing that came out of this marriage, if that's even what you want to call it, is those kids." She huffed and puffed as the words just began firing out of her mouth like machine gun. "I'm done and I'm taking the kids. Just try and stop me." Her rage induced words continued to flow as she pushed herself away from the dining room table and into the connecting kitchen. This was it. She stood up to him. She stood up and won. She was finally free to chase after any dream she wanted now.
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Re: AS Afflatus: Issue Twenty-Two

Mon May 06, 2019 1:06 am

Any post/submission made after this will not count towards points. Make sure to participate in the May issue!
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