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Triad

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Llevame contigo, guardame un lugar
Cerca de tu corazón
Dejame tenerte, dejate querer
Antes de que pierda la razón

 

Aleks Syntek y La Gente Normal - “Sin Ti”

 

The bed moved as its other occupant crawled over me and padded away. It wasn’t Sliske-weight shifting the mattress, nor were Sliske-feet moving across the carpet, but no alarms sounded in my head. They were familiar sounds and feelings. I began drifting off again.

I heard cloth move as Quen returned to the bedroom. Sleep-blurriness didn’t offer much detail; I caught a narrow glimpse of dark blue light before the partition fell shut. It felt like some time had passed since he’d left.

It was too fucking early to be awake. I didn’t mind. Quen was here now, and waking this way was preferable to Sliske’s counterfeit brand of domesticity. The Mahjarrat hadn’t deigned to make an appearance last night, and I didn’t mind that, either. We’d made good use of the time.

There was more Sliske-less time to be had.

Reaching a hand out from beneath the cover, I tugged on his pants leg as he passed. “You need exercise, old man.”

The same leg bent with knee resting on the bed while the other swung up and over me. Long-fingered hands pressed the blanket down on either side. Quen inclined himself and kissed me. There was a curiously sweet, fruit-and-chocolate flavor to the kiss.

His elbows straightened as he pulled away, wisps of luminescent soul magic stirring in new shapes around his eyes with the reversal. “That will have to wait. There’s something we need to discuss.”

I squirmed discontentedly under the confines of the blanket. “We did enough discussing yesterday. What we need is for you to get more of whatever was in your mouth so I can put some on you. Then lick it off.”

A side of that curiously-flavored mouth quirked in an almost-smile. “I’m afraid that was the last of it. There is, however, this.” He shifted to rebalance his weight and lifted one of his hands.

A key glittered in the low lamplight. Gold rimmed a green gem set in the bow and traced the shoulder, trailing off into some sturdier, duller metal where teeth and tip protruded from it. Light slid along that bow, twinkling where tiny dents marred the gilding. It looked old. It also looked valuable.

I looked from it to Quen. “Have you had it appraised yet?”

He shook his head, easing back into a kneel and partially freeing me from the blanket trap. “This isn’t treasure. It’s an invitation.”

I grinned. “I accept. Let’s go lock me into whatever that opens.”

He sighed. “It isn’t an invitation from me. Nor is it from Sliske, before you ask. Someone else.”

“I’m not sure I can handle someone else. I can barely handle either of you.” I wormed my elbows back and push-slid myself into a sitting position, legs crossing. “Who?”

His fingers twirled and threaded the key between each other in a pretty display of dexterity. He was nervous, although his voice remained steady. “Someone more dangerous than either of us. Or Sliske.” The key stopped its dance, resting balanced atop two extended fingers. “Do you remember the memory imprints I showed you? Edgeville, Varrock, beneath the Soul Wars fields?”

I nodded, gaze flicking between his face and the key. I wanted to see it dance again. “It’d take a mean feat of magic to make me forget.” And that was understating the case. “This is about your past? Someone from before?”

The key tilted and swayed as Quen’s fingers moved, rocking like a Fremennik barge over unsteady waters. “The worst possible someone. This key was delivered to me through one of his anjuman. One of his soul-bonded hench-creatures.”

“Soul-bonded… oh.” My eyebrows furrowed. “But you killed him. I saw him impaled on your staff. Your… other staff.”

He gave me the look I deserved. “What I killed must have been another anjuman.” The key stilled. “One he’d invested more in, since this was a human rather than an animal. The loss of that man had to’ve damaged him enough to go into hiding and recuperate, but it would seem he’s confident enough in his recovery to reveal himself.”

Quen’s fingers closed around the base of the key. “The raven delivering this spoke in the Menaphite language of old, or at least replicated it well enough to leave no doubt in my mind. He is anjuman. Oreb’s.”

There would be no returning to sleep this morning. I began undoing my braid. “What are the anjuman? Wights?”

He winced, twin cerulean lights narrowing. “No, they aren’t undead or pseudo-undead as I was. It is a soul-affliction, however. In this case, a piece of Oreb’s own soul is separated from the greater mass and fused with the anjuman’s soul, subsuming it.” The wince disappeared. “He prefers creatures associated with death. Ravens, for the most part, but desert dogs in their distant relation to Icthlarin, scorpions, and sometimes wolves. Snakes. He can create human anjuman, too, but the process is difficult and he loses a sizeable portion of his own soul when creating one.”

I stopped undoing my braid. “That makes absolutely no sense. If he’s lacking so many pieces of his soul, isn’t he vulnerable?”

Quen shook his head. “Not as you or I. There was one lesson I never received during my time as Charron’s student, and that was his ability to blend the essence of soul energy into himself divorced from the person’s unique configuration.” He tapped his bare chest. “Within me are the souls of thousands, but they’re complete souls and assembled haphazardly. If their ties - the soul strings that bound them to their source body - were many, then they are still many within me. Same with those who had few or thin ties, or stout ones.” His hand joined the other one holding the key between his knees. “It’s a mess in there. Power in plentiful supply, but no matter how depleted, the soul’s husk remains attached to the rest of the mass. His is uniform. No husks. It’s all his, no matter how many he consumes.”

He spoke matter-of-factly, but the image he’d drawn made me ill. “Yours is like Gielinor was.”

He nodded. “Like that in essence, yes. Had my construct been of Oreb’s make, you wouldn’t have found it so easy to defeat. Nor would Icthlarin have been able to divide the souls and maintain their individual integrity.”

So easy to defeat? I bit back the snide remark and opted for another question. “So what do these anjuman do? Besides home deliveries, I mean.”

A trace of tension left Quen’s features. “He can hear and see through them, if he chooses to focus. They don't act as secondary eyes and ears unless he’s piloting them. He can speak through those capable of speech. Imperfectly in most cases, but enough to be understood provided the anjuman has any physical capacity for it. When he’s not focused on one, I’m given to understand they behave as their normal animal counterparts do. For the human… I don’t know.”

It wasn’t the first time I’d heard him admit ignorance, but it was still strange. I tapped the exposed part of the key in his hand. “So why are the two of us accepting his invitation?”

“Three.” He looked grim. “This is going to require Sliske, too. As for why - to give him additional time to perfect whatever he’s planning would be foolish. His mastery of soul magic dwarfs mine, and his methods…”

I remembered Tammen. My hand left the key and covered his. “Fair enough. But why Sliske?”

“It will test your patience and the same curiosity that once led you to me, but I ask that you trust I wouldn’t include him unless it was absolutely necessary. And he is necessary.”

I grumbled something vaguely obscene. “Alright.” I stroked his hand, tensing a little. “About Sliske…”

Quen covered my hand with his other, smothering the stroking. “You want to know what exists between us. Why I return to him after everything.” The hand atop mine squeezed. “There will come a time when I’m ready to explain. I can’t yet, but I will. Soon.”

“Alright.” I let the subject drop despite my curiosity. He’d tell me in his own time, and there were other questions. “You said Menaphite language. Is that where he is? Oreb?”

“Almost certainly. He had a fascination with the place and its history, and I do believe he intended to travel there once he’d exhausted the ready supply of test subjects in Edgeville. We head out tomorrow afternoon.” He smiled suddenly. “That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t pack for camp, however. We have plans tonight.”

That caught my attention. “We do?”

“We do.” The smile became lecherous. “You need exercise, old woman.”

I barked an indignant noise and he laughed, leaning in to kiss me again. It was brief and held a great deal of promise.

I narrowed my eyes at him as he broke the kiss, leaning back. “That’s absolutely foul, Quen. Making me wait after that?”

Chuckling, he slid the key into a pocket and crawled off the bed, getting to his feet. “There’s something I have to see to, first. I shouldn’t be too long.” He reached over and rested his hand against the side of my face. “It will be worth the wait.”

The hand drew away and I leaned toward it, licking the back before it was out of reach and offering a grin of my own. “I’ll hold you to it.”

Quen pulled on a shirt and snorted. “You won’t be holding anything with your hands tied behind your back.” He made his way toward the partition again. “Get a bit more sleep. I’ll pack when I return.”

I watched him dip beyond the heavy cloth and smiled.

I missed you.

 

……….

 

Stooped down and out, you got me beggin' for thread
To sew this hole up that you ripped in my head
Stupidly think you had it under control

 

BANKS - “Beggin’ for Thread”

 

Nomad stepped barefoot into the early Pollnivnean morning, careful fingers finding a pocket and ignoring the key in favor of the other capsule given him by Rhyaz. He drew it out and put it in his mouth, rolling it with his tongue until it sat between cheek and teeth. Even without biting through the flexible coating, he swore he could taste a hint of sweetness from its contents. A chocolate-and-fruit sweetness.

“First one for her. The other for the third of your triad.”

“Triad?”

“Yes. He plays an unfair game with you two and I intend to see he doesn’t pull all the strings. And be damned careful with these! You don’t know what’s been sacrificed for them. One has suffered unbearably as it is, but she was good enough to through with the process despite that. I will not put her through it again.”

“Rhyaz, if this is some scheme of yours-”

“-I wouldn’t disturb you at this Zaros-damned hour for a prank, Quen Mahon. Whatever makes its den in Menaphos has ties to you, and the vision alone nearly killed Aris. Almost killed the Oracle, too.”

“Very well. Not a prank. What will these do to us?”

“Save the two of you, I hope. The Oracle refused to say what she saw, only that the three of you will be in some sort of tangle with that threat and your triad entire will be necessary if Razwan is to defeat it.”

“Razwan? If the three of us-”

“I can’t explain it all. I barely understand half of it. But the killing blow, whatever form that takes, must be hers. It cannot be you or Sliske.”

“I’ll do as you ask.”

“Thank you. There is one other message for me to deliver before I go home and reheat these chilled bones by the hearth, Quen, and you must tell her before you face whatever there is to face in that golden city.”

“What do I tell her?”

“‘Hate is the kindling. Rage is the fire.’ That’s the whole of it. Remind her.”

“I don’t understand.”

“You don’t have to. She’ll understand when the time comes.”

Perhaps she would, but the layers of secrecy and ignorance were building rapidly into something Nomad disliked. Prophecy was as often vague to satisfy a huckster’s purpose as it was a consequence of being relayed through human - thus faulty - mediums. He suspected Rhyaz withheld information, too, and she’d asked him not to reveal the capsules’ existence to either Razwan or Sliske.

Sliske he understood. It was terminally foolish to play one’s hand face-up with him.

The rest troubled him, mostly because he preferred certainty over nebulous guesses, but also because he’d begun to appreciate not having to measure anything of himself with someone. Neither he nor Razwan belonged among Saradomin’s glittering throng. They weren’t infatuated with the ideas of heroism or virtue. They were both practical, scarred animals who found something akin to peace in each other’s company. He could lie to her, but it was never thoughtless.

Nomad reminded himself of the business at hand even as something in his midsection sank at what he was about to do. Anticipation and dread shared space in him, oil-coated butterflies beating their wings helplessly as they slid down his insides.

The imprint of the old connection remained despite losing its backbone of wighthood. He focused on it, pulling, seeking the sense of belonging that at once confined and freed him. The infected acceptance that brought him to heel. Shadows crawled, untethering themselves from the realm of simple physics and manifesting anew in the agency of magic. They rose as a Mahjarrat’s silhouette, then peeled away from Sliske and slithered back to their mundane confines.

The Mahjarrat left in their wake reached for Nomad, tracing cheek and then jawline before settling his hand on the back of the other man’s neck. “You don’t know how I revel when that plea comes to me through the shadows. ‘I need you, Sliske,’ it says. Tell me what has you begging in this fading darkness, love.”

Nomad bit the capsule as he stepped in and hooked a finger around the ornate belt on Sliske’s pseudoarmor. He didn’t risk speaking with the almost sickly-sweet fluid in his mouth, instead meeting the hot amber gaze with a silent look.

Sliske made a humming purr of satisfaction and bent to kiss him. First lips met, then tongues, and Nomad shared the second of Rhyaz’s concoctions with his last master. He felt the taller man pause, but Sliske seemed to think little of it, resuming the slow exploration before drawing away and straightening.

Nomad spoke before Sliske could. “Razwan and I are headed to Menaphos tomorrow afternoon.”

Sliske stepped forward, forcing Nomad back until the wall of Ihali’s place pressed behind him, and smiled. “You’d prefer I stay away while the two of you holiday in the lap of luxury? After I’ve already been considerate in leaving the two of you be last night?” He reached to Nomad’s hand at his belt and drew it lower, half-lacing his fingers with Nomad’s own. “And you invite me into a cold morning rather than the comfort of your home, like a lamentable disease that must be quarantined. You’re asking a lot for a man offering nothing in return.”

“What do you want from me?” I know what you want from me.

Sliske’s free hand went to Nomad’s face, a claw tip tracing the outer arc of his ear. “I’m afraid there’s nothing you can offer that will tempt me away from Menaphos. That you seek to keep me away is reason enough for me to follow and discover your secrets. But,” he pressed Nomad’s hand tighter against himself, “you can buy yourself a day’s reprieve. With a reminder.”

Nomad swallowed. It’d worked, but he wasn’t out of the woods yet. “A reminder?”

Shadows again stole away from their corners and recesses, this time shrouding both of them as Sliske pulled them into his own realm. “A demonstration of where you stand with me no matter how tight your grip on Razwan’s leash. Right now. I will leave the two of you to your own devices until tomorrow in exchange, provided my compensation is adequate. And enthusiastic.”

I expected no less.

Human knelt before Mahjarrat as the darkness encompassed them and bore them to a bitterly familiar plane.

One day I will be free of this. Someday I will stop wanting this. For now, I will satisfy myself knowing I have, for once, manipulated you the way you’ve so often manipulated me.

“Agreed.”

 

………..

 

I hate to say it, the more you fuck, the better for your health

3OH!3 - “Dirty Mind”

 

Movement was made of aches. Warmth was a counteragent to aches. I squirmed closer to Quen, then stopped.

Something pitpatted on small feet atop the blanket covering us. A lot of little somethings.

They were beeping.

I cracked my eyes open. The blanket was mostly over my head, trapping as much heat as possible in the face of cool Piscatorian air blowing through the tent. It’d been almost too warm once we’d finished what we were doing last night, but that particular kind of heat didn’t linger for long. I regretted not listening to Quen when he’d suggested securing the front flaps closed.

Now something was in here with us, on top of the blanket. Carefully, I curled a finger around the edge and tugged it down to greet our company.

They were everywhere. Lots of them. Too many of them.

Kebbits. Squat, bipedal furballs with strong hind legs holding them upright hopped or waddled across the blanket while large heads - with equally large eyes - swung to and fro. Their little hind ends jerked, too, as half of them went about the business of satisfying themselves with their partners or pitpatting across the soft terrain to find new ones.

“Quen.”

Muffled grumbling answered me.

I whispered again, this time a little more urgently. “Quen.”

“Mmmm?” I felt him beginning to shift position.

“Don’t move. Just… look up over the cover. Just… oh for anima’s sake they’re everywhere.”

The edge of the blanket pulled and folded as Quen peered overtop. “Kebbits.”

I wormed my arm up and over the blanket, tugging carefully at my pants and trying to dislodge an energetic pair of critters that’d humped themselves halfway into a pocket. “Yes, I see that. How the hell do we get rid of them?”

His tone was conversational. “I did tell you they’re empathic.”

“Yeah, that they respond to moods and… wait, this is our fault?”

Quen chuckled. “Yours, actually. I also warned you to tie down the entrance.”

I looked over at him, or what I could see of his face above the blanket’s edge. “You didn’t explain… you didn’t warn… Quen, we are covered in kebbits. And they’re trying to make more kebbits on top of us.”

“We inspired them.”

“Quen!”

He chuckled, reaching for his pants and moving carefully as he put them on. “They’re quite content. I’m afraid we’re going to have to remove them by hand.”

I paused and glared at him. “I am not picking any of them up while they’re… doing that.” I resumed squirming carefully into my own pants and looked back at the fuzzy mass of coitus taking place on our blanket. “Hsssstsssit! Shoo! Gooreto gom kon, you little fucks!”

A few of them paused, staring at me. Quen rumbled his amusement. “They respond to mood, not sound.”

The pair nearest me had stopped, too. The one being attended to looked away, but the larger of the two blinked at me as I watched him.

His little butt resumed jerking and he pinned me with a defiant alpha stare.

“Quen?”

“Yes?”

“I think I’m going to have an hysterical episode now.”

“That one reminds me of you a bit.”

I made a strangled sound.

He sighed. “We’ll use the blanket.”

I straightened a finger over the edge of our cover and pointed at Alpha Stare. “I think they beat us to it.”

Quen wriggled out from beneath the blanket and I did likewise. He grabbed a corner and side-stepped along the inside edge of the tent to the other corner on his side, and I realized what he was doing. I grabbed another corner, side-stepping to the last one.

We walked toward each other, slowly lifting and gathering the long edges as we moved, making of the blanket an impromptu carrier. The kebbits’ beeping and trilling went from cheerful to indignant, several of them squeaking their surprise as they tumbled with gravity toward the center.

Quen lifted as I did, and we moved as one out of the tent and around the still-smoldering fire pit to an area just beyond. My arms were beginning to shake from the surprising amount of shifting, complaining weight in our burden. It’d begun to sway with our steps.

“Here?”

He nodded, dropping one corner of the blanket. I did the same, and we pulled the other side across, pouring disgruntled kebbits out onto the ground. Quen began gathering the blanket into a ball and we watched as our visitors responded to their expulsion by righting themselves, shaking as though doused in water, and hop-waddling in search of previous mates or new ones.

They were going back at it. Well, almost all of them.

Rather than join his fellows, the same muddy brown specimen from earlier looked up at me with huge black eyes, challenging.

He beeped. Angrily.

I lifted a finger at him, but my mouth quirked in a smile. “I like you. Still, fuck off.”

Alpha Stare chirped and hopped away.

As I’d been dismissed, I turned and trotted to catch up with Quen. “We’re not keeping that. There’s no salvaging it.” I pointed at the blanket balled in his hands. “It must be burned or its existence will haunt me until I die.”

The blanket shook as Quen snickered. “Agreed.”

We burned it in the fire pit. Though he’d been more amused than anything by the morning’s events, I noticed Quen watched it wither and darken with a satisfied expression. The bitter smell of burning fabric made both of us wrinkle our noses, but we stood vigil until nothing recognizable remained of the blanket.

An acceptable loss.

I followed him back into the tent, this time sealing the front shut against furry intruders. We made do with our bedrolls for covering, overlapping them into one makeshift blanket.

An absurd, still semi-hysterical urge struck me. I beeped.

Quen propped himself on an elbow and looked down at me. “You can’t be serious.”

I put a little more enthusiasm into another beep, adding a trill to it that better replicated the kebbits’ mating-sounds.

“Don’t… please do not.”

I trilled again, grinning at him.

“Razwan!”

 

……….

 

This land was green and good
Until the crystal cracked!
Once more, they will replenish themselves
Change and then wait
The power of their source

 

The Crystal Method - “Trip Like I Do”

 

Money, runes, changes of clothing. I eyed the pack of tiny, paper-wrapped cigars - a gift from Wahisietel - and added it to the bag, nestling it inside the bundle of a spare shirt. I stood and looked at Quen. “This should be it. There’s a bank in the Merchants’ District if we need anything else.”

He knelt next to the bed, reaching beneath and dragging an unremarkable box toward himself. “Not quite.” He stood with it in his hands and turned to me. “There is one other thing.”

I walked to him and set my bag on the bed. “What’s this?”

He rested the box on a forearm and used his free hand to undo the catches on the front. “A gift. One I’d hoped I would never give, but the need has arisen.”

The second catch fell loose and he lifted the lid. Inside, surrounded by soft fabric, was a clear gem with amorphous white light undulating slowly in its core. It was marginally smaller than the pink one set in Quen’s breastplate, but I recognized the same cut.

He moved the box toward me. “Take it.”

I picked it up, cradling it in my hands and running thumbs over the smoothness on top. “It’s like yours, isn’t it? A magic retention gem.”

“It isn’t a gem.”

I looked from it to Quen. “Crystal, whatever. Why is this one white?”

He shook his head and closed the box, setting it on the floor and toeing it back under the bed. “It isn’t a crystal, or a gem. Not in the sense you mean. It’s a living creature.”

“Alive? Quen, are…” I felt nauseated. “...damn it, are they hurt when-”

Quen shook his head again. “-No. Not harmed by magic. They act as a focus, keeping spells cohesive despite the presence or touch of metal, but it’s incidental. No more harmful than one of us standing in the rain. We get wet. Magic passes through them and it's unremarkable as far as they're concerned.”

I reached out and tried to hand it to him, but he stepped back with his hands up, palms out in a gesture of negation. “No. You’ve begun the bonding process. To touch it at this early stage would to risk having it align itself to me. It would become useless to you and what I have is adequate to the task of circumventing the metal’s conduction in my armor.”

“Align itself? Themselves?”

“Itself. They are no more sentient than algae. And yes, align.” He tapped his robe where the pink gem lay below it in his breastplate. “They’re from Teragard, as is Charron. He brought them with him when he came here. I was told that his House specialized in them alongside other objects related to magic. Their purpose is twofold: magic retention, and identifying the core emotion with which a person operates. What drives them on a fundamental level.”

I looked down at the gem. The white within it swirled the way the nebulae in Death’s realm did, and I thought I spotted a thread of gray before it disappeared. “So what does white mean?”

“That it is young and unaligned. White is a lack of emotional imprint; as it bonds with you and matures it will change color.” Quen set his bag on the bed and began rifling through its contents. “Some change almost instantaneously, most a few days before the first strings of color can be seen at the core.”

I watched him shuffle his belongings in the bag. “What do yours mean? The pink?”

He smiled faintly. “Mine are an anomaly. Pink isn’t a fully matured color, but I am driven by two disparate things in equal part.”

“What two things?” My fingers spider-crawled over the gem, idly measuring the facets by touch.

The smile disappeared. “Protection is blue. Hatred is red. Since the gem can’t mature with such a duality present, there’s only a bit of each in them. Rather than purple - which signifies something else entirely - the two are blended in only a small amount and white is still present in the mix. Hence the pink.”

I looked down at the gem again. More gray. “Protection and hate. That’s a hell of a mixture.”

“And a hell of an introduction to the nature of oneself. I sought - and still seek - to protect the world. You. Saiman. But I also bear hatred for the world and most in it.”

No wonder you’re so fucking moody. “Charron has these?”

“Red ones. He is a curious man, a learned man, a cultured one, but he is the embodiment of hatred. Is rather proud of it, in fact.”

The gem - my gem - rotated in my hand as I turned it with my fingers. “What do the other colors mean?”

Satisfied with the arrangement in his bag, he drew it shut by the string and turned to me. “I don’t recall all their meanings. Blue and red you know. Yellow is happiness. Orange is… something like verve, I suppose. A passionate devotion to life. Purple is shame.”

I stopped toying with the gem and held it up for him to see. “What does gray mean?”

Quen took two steps forward and stopped just shy of the gem. As he watched, two more tiny rills of gray, darker ones this time, spun around the edges of the little nebula and crawled into the spiral. “Gray means it’s begun its alignment. It isn’t the final color.”

My fingers caged the gem loosely on the underside and I looked up at him, the sudden change in his tone stirring worry in me. “Then what is the final color?”

He looked grim. “Black. Black is your color.”

Wonderful. “If red is hatred, what the hell is black?”

“Rage.” Strangely, some of the grimness left his face and he seemed thoughtful. “Perhaps that’s why.”

“Why what?” I wasn’t sure whether to be relieved Quen no longer looked like I’d been handed a death sentence, or worried by the considering expression that’d replaced it. “Quen, this would be a wonderful time for you to be informative rather than vague and mysterious.”

“‘Hate is the kindling. Rage is the fire.’ Rhyaz asked me to pass that message to you from the Oracle.” He pointed at my robe where a pocket sat inside. “Keep that close to you. The better aligned, the more potent its ability to reduce spell diffusion. You will need armor made for you to fit that, and you are fond of reminding me that Menaphos has, in your own words, ‘everything.’”

I opened my robe and set the gem inside the pocket, wrapping both sides tightly around the thin tank top beneath. With a small grumble, I bent and lifted my bag, settling it over a shoulder and making the sword sheaths at my back clatter against each other. “It does.”

Quen rested a hand on my shoulder, stroking collarbone through the robe. “Razwan.”

“Hmmm?” I was feeling the heat build in the tent and wanted out, but I paused.

“We…” he looked like he was straining something, “...will succeed.”

My itch was forgotten and I laughed. “Quen?”

He raised one dark slash of eyebrow at me. “Yes?”

“That’s the most beautiful speech I’ve ever heard. No ego-driven assurances, no lengthy expositions about how we’ve amassed incredible power and that our enemies should tremble before us? No, ‘give up now, Oreb Charron, before the empire you’ve constructed in your mind has fallen before it has a chance to rise?’ No threatening to eat his soul or-”

He snorted. “-Do you want me to give a speech?”

I laughed again. “Fuck no, and don’t you dare. I’ve heard more of your speeches than I can stand. Let’s go to Menaphos.”

One of his arms wound around my shoulders, and the inside of our home melted into the brilliant white and violet double-helix of his teleport.