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A crown covered in burned thorns

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It was the week of the wedding and Caleb was worrying himself about preparations, even though he truly didn't have to do anything but show up and partake in the ceremony and all of the aftermath the Empire required of the Archmage. This war was to be drawn to a close through one of the infamous Lords of Misrule being married off to an Archmage, Caleb agreed on the terms of 'I killed many people, this is my repayment for their losses'. Since then, Nott had not left his side -seeing the anxiety building up the closer it got to the 'inevitable day' - she had acted as a mother figure ever since she was assigned to him back when he graduated. The situations of their meeting were at the scene of Caleb’s true initiation to the Vollstreckers, when Caleb was at his most vulnerable and latched onto the closest thing he could, in this case, a small goblin he saw in the light of the flame. Meanwhile, Caleb didn't mind that he hadn't met his bride or groom, he didn't care, as long as this stopped the war. He was only anxious about the repercussions of this, the reaction of his partner as well as that of the other Lords of Misrule.

 

"Caleb? You have a meeting with the other Archmages," Nott, a small green-skinned goblin woman that reached Caleb’s hip decked out in an oversized cape black in colour, pulled on the loose fabric of his coat hanging off of his desk chair. "You really need to get out of this study, it's not good for you and they need a full court for today's hearings..." After not hearing a reply, she went back into silence, waiting for a response on one of the other chairs dotted around the bookshelf-stacked room. Out of every room in the castle, Caleb's study was the messiest of all as he only allowed in Nott and Beauregard (on occasion). Hearing Nott's voice snapped Caleb out of his train of thought, an affirmative sound falling from his lips.

 

"Ja, I will be down soon." His Zemnian accent was so heavy that every word (even Common, even more so Zemnian itself) was dripping in it. "Danke, Nott." That alone made Nott a small bit happier, but also concerned about the Misrule's reaction to his reservedness compared to the tales spread about the 'Auburn Inferno of Archmage Widogast'. Especially from his future partner. Nott thought back to what she saw when she spied on them, more often as of the treaty’s signing: could be the tall one, she may fit well, the two are both quiet... or even the small blue one, she would make the sacrifice for the other Lords. Even the purple painted one could work, though he does have some unique qualities surrounding his presence to the 'outside world'.

 

"Caleb?" Nott piped up "Are you sure you want this, I'm sure anothe-"

 

"I am sure, Nott. It is my fault the war was so costly on life. I need to fix it, it was my actions." Caleb cut her off, he didn't do that often and it caught Nott off-guard, his voice was clearer and had a tone of resignation in the way he spoke. "Whoever it is, I will allow them to discreetly have another partner. I know I have my... prerequisites and that may not be desirable for the Lords especially after what I have done to them, directly and indirectly." Caleb looked off to the side, tapping his quill on the solid oak table. He muttered some Zemnian curses - that Nott couldn't quite pick up - and picked mindlessly at the bandages wrapped around his forearms. After a minute or so, he propped his arms up on the desk, kicking the chair back a few feet and gathering some papers before calmly leaving, toward the council room, with Nott trailing behind him.



__________

 

The Lords of Misrule had been losing sleep as a result of the treaty, Fjord, a large Half-orc had had enough by this time and needed to bring up the choice as soon as possible even though everyone had been avoiding the topic entirely.

 

"We need to decide. Its a week from now and we still haven't decided who is gonna be taking this vow." Fjord was blunt in his speech, definitively out of the running as of the start of this process. He looked over at Jester- who was deep in thought with her head resting on her massive lollypop-  in his mind ready to riot if she was chosen. To him, she was too delicate for the Archmage. "I know, this isn't the best but we can figure out a way for whoever it is to not be shackled by the Archmage." He looked around, sat on a wooden crate, fists firmly planted on his temples. Everyone was unusually withdrawn, quiet, contemplating the choice that needed to be made.

Time passed,  pins dropped could be heard easily and tension would be difficult for even Yasha to cut through, between the Lords of Misrule before the notably outward Tiefling spoke up " fuck it. I'll do it." That was it. No argument, just a resigned agreement. "I can protect myself if this maniac tries to hurt me." Jester looked to Mollymauk with a look of despair, eyes wide and searching for something to protest Molly's choice. The lavender tiefling raised a hand up before Jester could speak, even though it was clear that the usually talkative blue sapphire had not a word to say.

Instead, the strong-willed barbarian spoke "I trust you, Molly. Thank you." Again, no protest from the group, when the Lords signed the treaty they had submitted themselves to silence in terms of the media. Caduceus nodded, only having been with the group for the past 3 moons, "We need to send a notice to the Empire then?" The rest of Misrule nodded in agreement.

Jester, with the neatest writing, produced a letter that read:

 

To the Archmage Widogast,

 

We contact you to inform the Archmage of his marriage candidate as stated in the 'Truce of Wildemount'.

The Lords of Misrule has brought forward 'Mollymauk Tealeaf' as the choice.

We hope that this vow between the two Kingdoms will bring an end to the war and any further inconveniences.

The Lords of Misrule

 

It still felt weird to talk about themselves under the group's name, especially as the name was synonymous with the conflict and their actions during it; these spawned stories and wives' tales that were only chronicled toward the end of the war. Nonetheless, they passed the note to Kiri who was happy to deliver the letter to the Castle in Rexxentrum. The dark sky looming above them, they could still tell it was pre-dawn. Now in the streets of Rosohna, Jester suggested they get some formal clothing for the wedding. Mollymauk was very keen to that idea, hoping to distract himself with the clashing colours. Yasha and Fjord preferred to stay in their armour, just in case. Caduceus was impartial however thought it would lighten the mood if he stayed in his regular clothes.

"So sad, all of you are sooo boring." Somehow, in this turn of events, Jester was back to her cheerful and childlike self. "Molly and I are gonna go shopping! Meet back here in like 2 hours, byeee!" After finishing her sentence she grabbed Molly's hand and rushed off into the streets, colourful flowing fabric trailing behind them like capes, the jewelled horns rattling like bells.

 

___________

 

All of the problems facing the court during the public trials were meaningless to Caleb, nothing of interest in his mind. All menial things like 'He stole my bread and took a chicken' to 'This girl snuck into the library' (even though it was public, which really could have been settled there and then). In reality, the crownsguard could have handled this with ease. Honestly, they didn't need Caleb there but he believes it was just to get him out of his study, which worked. After 1 hour, 32 minutes and 47 seconds he was finally dismissed from the hall, in which he rushed to his study - papers scrawled with ideas surrounding the logistics of Wishes. Caleb thought that if he figured out how to retrace the path and initial idea of a wish, he could fix the damages of ‘Archmage’s Inferno’ however, he knew that wishes could backfire with the incorrect wording. Many steps later, Caleb had reached his door, going to his notes and references to compare them with what he thinks could work. No... that would go into - Scheiße.

He made a mental note to go back and reanalyse the possibility of one choice of wording, versus one that Nott had suggested a few nights ago. Anything to get his mind off of the dreaded wedding day. Caleb must've been so outwardly stressed during this time that it had lead Nott to bring him a cup of floral scented tea and Caleb gladly took it from her, gentle in his movements as not to spill anything.

"Danke, Nott." Caleb allowed himself to take in the scent of the tea, the corners of his lips curling up for the first time in months.

 

"Caleb? Are you going to be taking a break to eat today or shall I ask Kelalyn to bring it up for you?" Nott inquired, Caleb had been eating and sleeping in this same room for weeks, ever since the treaty was signed. He could count the number of times he left on one hand.

 

The Archmage nodded, " Bitte, Schatz " Nott skittered off, the sound of her claws tapping on the hard wooden floors audible. For the first time in the last few hours, Caleb had been left alone with his thoughts, all types of 'what if 'scenarios racing around his mind

'What if they don't send anyone and the marriage is called off, am I that feared?'

 

'What if I can't complete the ceremony for whatever reason?'

 

Everything was crumbling around him, he knew they signed that to give the Xhorhasians time to prepare their army further, they were going to reinitiate the war once again and it would all be his fault. He can't just say that to the other Archmages, they would think he was stupid and dismiss it. He can't prepare his own army because then the Empire would think he wasn't going to commit to the vows. There was nothing plausible that would work. For once, Caleb had zero ideas of what to do.

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Jester and Mollymauk wandered through the streets of Rosohna looking for someplace that would have some moderately priced clothes that also fit Mollymauk's unique tastes. The two stumbled upon a small boutique, ‘Silks Den’, painted in cursive on a quality wooden slab. The exterior was modest, exposed brick stacking neatly to match the line of shops flaring from Rosohna’s central square. Inside, a small gnome lady clambering up a ladder to reach the higher shelves while a human man rested his head in his hands on the counter, mindlessly counting coins until the bell rang as Mollymauk and Jester entered and he rushed to the back room.

“‘Ello dears!” The gnome lady rebalanced herself on the top of the ladder, flashing a bright smile at the two Tieflings, she was adorned in a light blue and turquoise dyed blouse with a dark leather belt contrasting with the red puffy pants that visibly relied on the belt to stay up. The light grey tint to her skin was visible in the dim light of the chandelier resting in the centre of the shop, eyes fern-green clashing with the blonde nature of her frizzy hair.

“What brings you ‘ere?” The gnome was animated with her face, bouncing around with such energy, even as she was balancing on the ladders top rung.

Jester chimed in before Mollymauk could utter a word “Hello! Me and... my friend here are going to a big event! And we need the most classy but outrageous things you have for this cool guy” She smiled, gesturing to the uncharacteristically flustered lavender tiefling standing in layers of flowing material atop a beige cream tunic tied at the waist with a teal-green-purple tie-dye scarf that’d been repurposed as a belt.

“I see, I see…” The gnome looked Molly up and down, “I have just the thing, follow me! ‘Names Lorilla by the way” She beckoned for Mollymauk to follow her, Molly simply shrugged and strode after Lorilla.

A few moments later Molly stepped out into what Jester thought was ‘Kind of clashy but it works on you’ A flowing white skirt with a slit on the side tied around with Molly’s scarf and a sheer blouse top with long sleeves, covering his tattoos with a white mist.

“your friend ‘ere mentioned it was for a wedding so I feel as if this will make you the star of the night and,” She paused, picking up a box on a nearby shelf ”I ‘ave a special addition to this ensemble” Lorilla pulled out a pair of gold glittery heels that gave Mollymauk an extra few inches of height and his eyes widened.

 

Almost instantaneously, Molly swapped his shoes and spun around, the scarf and skirt following behind his movements, it was perfect. If he was going to be shipped off to an Archmage, he was gonna look great while doing it.

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Kiri, the young kenku girl, had met up with the Lords of Misrule in order to get a letter delivered to the Empire before the next day which was possible as she left before the dawn rose over the path to Rexxentrum. As the early evening drew near, the Castle came into view, a happy trill erupted from Kiri’s beak, twirling in the air. The terrain was peaceful to fly over, the trees covering the majority of the land but the plains of flowers and herbs were a welcome sight for her.

 

As she approached the gates, Kiri floated down, her hooded cape acting as a parachute.

“A letter!” She nudged a guard on the outskirts of Rexxentrum. “For the Archmage!” All of this was in Jester’s voice, as she gave Kiri the instructions with the letter. The Human guard looked down at the bird child.

 

A deep gravely voice spoke, “Who is this from?” He furrowed his brow, leaning down to meet the eye level of the kenku child.

 

“The Lords of Misrule!” She proudly proclaimed while she had the letter still held firmly in her beak.

 

Someone else, a  blue loosely clothed human with a staff in her hand, turned at the mention of that name. “Archie, I can handle this, go on.” She ushered the other guard away.

 

“Who was this for?” The woman asked, in hush tones.

 

“The Archmage Widogast!” A trill followed her words, nudging the woman with her beak, almost scrunching the letter against her leg.

 

“Can I, have it?” The woman asked, holding out a hand to the bird, Kiri nodded and dropped the letter into her palm. Awkwardly, the taller woman gave Kiri a pat on the head before turning away and into the gates of the castle.

 

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The evening drew near, the orange skies rising from the depths of the bright springs day. In the halls, Nott was searching for someone, looking in servants quarters and kitchens when finally she saw Kelalyn hopping down the corridor, humming a tune absently while heading to the dining hall with what she assumed was Caleb’s dinner.

“Kelalyn! Caleb will be eating in his study again” Nott caught the attention of Caleb’s assigned servant girl, Kelalyn, a young halfling girl with bright blue eyes and dark chocolate hair who was pushing along a cart just as tall as she was, stacked with 3 plates and a singular package that Caleb had requested be delivered.

“You got it miss, are you heading to the Study too?” Kelalyn inquired, usually servants were not to talk or interact with higher ups unless spoken to but ever since the Inferno when Nott had rescued a halfling girl and called her a ‘promising servant’, the relationship between them was different than most.

“Yeah, come on, best not to keep him waiting” Nott beckoned the girl, walking at a slower pace so that Kelalyn could catch up.


Eventually, they reached Caleb’s door, Nott knocked in a special sequence and Caleb answered it, opening the door instead of calling from his chair. “Ah, the book!” Caleb immediately honed in on the nicely packaged box, stepping to the side allowing Nott and Kelalyn to enter.

“Oh, hallo Mädchen He waved to Kelalyn, allowing her to set up the table in the top corner of the study, by the window.

“Hi there Widogast, everything as usual?” She was chipper in tone which was nothing short of what Caleb needed, everyone was sombre after the war. So a small hint of hope through what Caleb would think to be a miserable child was appreciated.

Kelalyn left quickly after she finished setting the table.

“I’ll send you a message when we finish” Nott gave a nod to Kelalyn as she left with her cart. The young halfling flashed a smile to Nott, skipping off down the corridor.

Beau passed Kelalyn as she was walking and gave her a nod, approaching the door with a sealed letter in hand. She knocked thrice on the door and waited for a response

 

“You can come in!” Nott announced, speaking before Caleb could.

Beauregard entered, holding the letter up so it was the focal point of both Caleb and Nott.


“Here. Small kenku kid said it was for you,” She held it to Caleb and he motioned to give it to Nott so she could check for traps. She grabbed it, inspecting it thoroughly, before opening it and reading it to herself.

 

“Uh, Caleb?”The green goblin enquired, careful with her words as if avoiding a tripwire.

 

“Ja?” Caleb replied nonchalantly,

 

“Do you want to know who you are being wed to?” Nott asked

 

“Nein, I’ll overanalyse things. I’ll fuck something up anyways.” He scoffed, dismissing the thought of who it could be entirely.

 

Beau chimed in “But, won’t you be more prepared? If the Lords are anything like you they are different in battle than in more… personal matters” She was visibly confused, stepping in and shutting the door behind them. The wizard nodded in acknowledgement to the Monk/Guard.

“Beauregard? Do you think you could keep an eye out for the Lords at the ceremony, I have a... suspicion around their attendance.” His tone shifted to one more serious, if he would be wearing his ‘official’ Archmage uniform - dark blue with red and gold flares, decorated with badges- he would not have room for spell components especially those needed to combat the Lords of Misrule, who in his mind were beasts tamed only by the treaty. When he faced them around 55 moons ago, they were valiant opponents, he expected them to be hostile to him especially after learning what he has done.

“Of course, Archmage Widogast.” Beauregard bowed, hands clasped behind her back, wisps of hair floating back as she moved. “Have no fear, the Lords will be searched for weapons before entering.”

Gut. Now, may I please eat? You may stay but I won’t be very responsive.” The Archmage moved from his desk to the window side chair, looking out onto the city of Rexxentrum and the beauty of the auburn sky. Something around its colour triggered a memory in Caleb, leading to him physically shaking himself out of it. At least the Empire was safe.

Chapter Text

Mollymauk and Jester were taking longer than expected, so Yasha, Fjord and Caduceus decided to get a gift for Caleb (mostly Caduceus' idea) they brainstormed some ideas and realised how little they knew of the Archmage except the stories they had heard in taverns during the war.

Caduceus suggested some tea, he thought that it was a very useful but also nice looking gift. So the Lords went on a tea hunt. Eventually, they reached a family owned cafe 'The Mayflower' owned by two humans, both female. The more they looked at them they were most likely sisters. They shared the same back length strawberry blonde hair with similar grey-blue eyes.

"Hello, welcome to the Mayflower! What can I get for ya'" One sister who was at the cafe's counter called out across the shop. Caduceus, weirdly but also logically, took lead with the war-scarred Yasha and Fjord trailing behind.

Yasha appreciated the layout of the small cafe, walls lined with white painted shelves filled with glass bottles and jars. Each inhabiting dried petals and various leaves.

"Hi there, we were looking for a gift pot for a new friend, we don't know much about them yet except they study magic." Caduceus smiled, approaching the shelves. "Maybe some white tea?" He picked up a jar, looked back to Fjord and Yasha who both shrugged their shoulders and looked back at the jar to inspect it.

"Ah, that one is infused with vanilla for those sweeter inclined." She interrupted him, not realising his expertise in the field.

"Perfect, how much?" The firbolg looked behind him with the jar in hand, nicely packaged.

"2 gold for the larger one." The young girl smiled, looking at a small sheet of parchment with assumed prices on there.

"Great," he handed over the gold after seeing Fjord standing by the doorway as Yasha examined a few nearby jars. "Do you have a small piece of wrapping?"

"Oh right! I'll get Helena, she's much more nimble than I." She rushed into the back with the jar in hand, leaving with the jar now wrapped in a brown paper, twine twisted around the top and pulled into a bow.

"Have a good day now!" Helena and her sister called from the store as the trio left. It had taken a while so they headed back to the tavern.

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Caleb quietly sat, picking at his food, stress was affecting his appetite and it showed. He was paler than usual and got tired after casting a few cantrips on his worse days. Beauregard and Nott talked quietly between themselves, anything ranging from specifics of the treaty on army limitations to how the weather was, just words flying into the air and dissipating into nothingness. The package Kelalyn gave to him was resting on the windowsill, Caleb pushed his plate to the side which must’ve made a louder sound than he expected because both Nott and Beau turned to look at him.

“You barely ate a piece of that, I know the weddings stressing you but you need to eat, Widogast.” Beauregard loosely pointed confused at the plate, her brows furrowed.

“I’m fine. Just lost my appetite that’s all.” Caleb spoke harshly, he dismissed Beau’s words, which fueled a small rage to burn inside of the Cobalt Monk.

“Clearly, you aren’t. Caleb, you can’t starve yourself over a treaty. You should be celebrating, you aren’t dead.” She continued, furthering her point. By this time, Nott had moved closer to Caleb, ready to help comfort him if this got worse.

“Beau, please. Take a breath.” Nott plead quietly to the monk, hoping that this wouldn’t blow up. She reached a hand to Caleb’s coat, old and tattered, and held on as if her life depended on it.

The Archmage hadn’t moved his head to face Beauregard, still staring vacantly at the table. “Beauregard. You know what I have done. You have seen it first hand, the death I caused, the lives I stole that cannot be replaced. If anything I should be in their place, dead. Because you damn well know I deserve it.” He spat, biting the inside of his lip, visibly tearing up. Caleb’s breathing became erratic and he curled over, sobbing into his arms as if his world had crumbled right beneath his feet and he was falling.

Falling,

Falling,

Deeper, further down the spiral, into his own mind, clawing at anything he could hold onto. In his head, he was tumbling out of control, spinning in an endless void with the screams of those he murdered in cold blood reaching out to tear him to shreds.

Screams of women, of men, of children for help. Screams of fear and hopelessness. His fault. It was all his fault. The Archmage’s Inferno was his doing. It was for the war, for the Empire.

“Caleb? Caleb, can you hear me? Blink twice for yes and... don’t for no?” Nott’s voice broke him from his trance, the human’s eyes fluttered in confusion as he drifted back into reality. He looked to Nott with puffy red eyes and tear-stained cheeks, throat clenched so tight not a sound could escape. He could see Beau pacing behind Nott through blurred vision, blinking twice so that Nott could gauge he was respondent.

The goblin smiled wide, “Breathe with me, Caleb.” He managed to nod while his brain was still going haywire. All of his focus was on the small green blob he could see through the blur.

“In….” she held the word out. The wizard followed “And out.”

She repeated this process, In and out.

In and out, his vision began to clear.

In and out, he could feel Nott holding onto him for dear life,

In, Caleb’s chest rose up...and out, his shoulders sagged, hunching over the table.

At last, he had stabilised himself with Nott’s help. Beauregard was still pacing behind him, oblivious that Caleb had stopped panicking. Meanwhile, Caleb was staring at his hands, more so his bandages that were still tightly wrapped around his forearms. His eyelids grew heavy as the darkness grew in the sky.

“Beau, you need to get back for evening recall,” Nott stated, snapping the pacing monk out of her train of thought. Beau nodded, seeing Caleb breathing steadily and she excused herself from the room.

“Caleb? Are you going to sleep in your bed tonight and not at your desk.”

“Maybe… If it will allow you to leave me alone.”

He settled in his room, just to the side of the study. The bed had gathered dust in the crevices, so Caleb drowsily brushed it off before changing out of his day clothes into something basic. When his head hit the pillow he realised how exhausted he actually was.

Caleb closed his eyes and the night washed over him, 6 days left.

--------------

The Lords regathered at the Harp and Badger Inn, in the 'Harp' section where live music was played and drinks were served aplenty. Caduceus hid the small wrapped gift he had gotten for Caleb.

Mollymauk entered with a bag of clothes and some new jewels attached to his and Jester's horns. Jester was smiling wide.
"Fjord! Look how glittery these are!" She practically ran at him, almost falling onto him.

"I see Jessie, they look wonderful on you." He smiled at the sapphire pendant hanging on one side and a ruby dangling on the other. What he didn't see was on the other side of the sapphire was a small emerald heart.

"What were you doing while we were gone? Did you go to the market? Or even the apothecary? Did you….." she went off listing all the things they could have done.

"We uh, went to a cafe. It was nice, quaint. Caduceus got some more tea." The firbolg nodded, smiling to Yasha.

"Mhm, the two girls were very nice in there. They had a good selection, I may have to go back there." His speech was slow and gentle, Caduceus tried his best to make a note of the small cafe.

The night went on, Fjord and Mollymauk getting drinks for the group as well as a chunky glass of room temperature milk for Caduceus. Dancing and twirling took place, Jester and Molly dragging Fjord from his chair with Jester insisting he shows her how to do a sailor dance. Fjord nodded and went through the steps as best as he could remember them himself, eventually just dancing with Jester regardless of if it was a sailor’s dance he enjoyed it.

Darkness showed it's head, drunken drowsiness taking over everyone but Caduceus and Yasha.

"We really need to get these guys to bed, we are travelling from tomorrow evening to get there in time for their… uh, wedding." Yasha said, not wanting to talk about the event but she couldn't ignore it nor drink her pains away. Mollymauk was her closest friend in the Lords of Misrule, he had joined Fjord and Jester back before the war had really kicked off.

Back then, they had no name nor a title or a reputation. They did simple mercenary work and travelled around Xhorhas.

Next, the group met Caduceus, when they helped an ally with a dead friend and he stuck around, bidding return to the temple eventually. Eventually was a long time away for the firbolg.

Since then, they had truly taken a side in the war, all but Caduceus, who only saw death and tried his best to fix it. That was when they gained their title when they killed for someone who wasn't a single person but a group, a people.

“We should, they will hate us now but they need to rest.” He looked down, at the slushy glass of milk in front of him.

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Over the span of 20 minutes, they gathered the slightly disappointed drunkards into their separate rooms. Jester wanted Fjord to teach her the dance again so Yasha allowed them to have their own room. Caduceus and Mollymauk shared one room and Yasha got her own again. Molly sat on the edge of his single bed, looking at his folded hands with a tinge of sadness radiating from his hunched form.

“Caduceus? May I spill my drunken revels to you?” Mollymauk leant back on his hands, pleading unwillingly through his eyes, it was something close to grief which Caduceus Clay knew all too well.

“Of course Mister Mollymauk.” He stopped packing away his things, that could wait, his friend needed him more than his bag did. The large firbolg moved to sit next to Molly, “May I?” the lavender tiefling nodded, resting his head on the larger man’s shoulder.

Molly adjusted slightly so that his horns weren’t prodding into the other’s side. “I don’t know what he’s like, maybe he’s actually really nice. Or he could be an absolute prick.” The tiefling gave an overexaggerated frown, narrowing his eyes. Caduceus threw an arm around Mollymauk, allowing his hand to hold his upper arm, lovingly brushing a thumb up and down.

“I understand. You don’t know him. You know Archmage Widogast but you don’t know Caleb.” Caduceus nodded to Mollymauk, sitting for as long as needed. He wasn’t fussed, it had been a long time since he held someone as affectionately as this.

Caleb Widogast, what a name.’ Molly thought ‘Soon, maybe, he would call Caleb his. If this goes any better than the worst case scenario, he could have a relationship? No. This guy is probably forced into it as much as he was, nothing could come from that right?

Mollymauk drifted further into his imagination before he could stop himself, in bed with a gingery brown wizard, his head on Molly’s chest, the slightly clawed nails running through his hair. The Archmage running fingers over his tattoos, following them all the way up his arm. No words spoken between them, just silent affection. Mostly as he didn’t know the sound of Caleb’s voice, his laugh or his cries. The one time he encountered him, was after the dreaded inferno. He saw no emotion on that face at least he thought, in the reflections of fire in the crystal blue eyes of the archmage he saw remorse? Impossible.

Molly broke the silence “What would you do Caduceus... if you were being married off to someone who you truly didn’t know?” He looked up at the pink haired firbolg, as innocent as Caduceus had ever seen the flamboyant man.

“I would try to… think of the better things. That palace I heard had magnificent gardens. I may find some new tea to give to my new partner.” He looked up, as if into the future. Then back to Mollymauk, with one of his dopey smiles.

“You’ll be okay, Mister Mollymauk.”

“I hope so, Mister Clay.”
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Yasha settled in her room, her greatsword resting against the post of the bed. She laid on top of all of the sheets, listening to the laughs and giggles from Fjord and Jester’s room. Sure, she was happy for them, she just didn’t want to see either of them hurt. Same for Mollymauk. For Mollymauk Tealeaf, her best friend. Molly hates to admit it but Yasha has seen him hurt in all types of ways. Back at the carnival, he dropped his showman face with her, that place was her family so when Molly suggested adventuring with these two that came to a show she thought he was joking.

Until he wasn’t, it’s one of the only times she has seen him out of battle with a straight face. Yasha trusted him and now it’s lead them here, somewhere that she had never thought they would be. With a roof over their heads, on the way to Rexxantrum for a wedding. Yasha just hoped that she could stay and wouldn’t be called away from her friends.

While thinking over everything, staring up at the ceiling with hands loosely clasped over her thighs she realised how lucky she was. For all of this, the memories she had made, allies she had met on the frontlines when they were called upon by the Bright Queen.

She smiled and slept, peacefully for the first time in weeks.

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Meanwhile, Jester and Fjord were dancing the night away, laughing as Fjord fumbled over steps. The downward spiral of the drink began to take its effect on the two, spinning not helping their cause.

“Oh Oskar, you are quite the dancer” Jester pouted, leaning on his chest as they swirled around the space, arms comfortably hung around his waist.

“Jessie, you know that’s not true.” He closed his eyes, chuckling inwardly. He held Jester close instinctively, one hand going through her hair and the other on her mid-back. The two had gotten close over the past adventures. When the two met on the Menagerie Coast, it was clear that the friendship they developed would last.

“Fjoooord?” Jester looked up at him, chin resting on his chest, Fjord raised an eyebrow. “Do you think this Widogast guy is going to be okay with Mollymauk?”

“He’s gonna have to be or I’ll step in” he raised the arm that ran through Jester's hair and flexed it, pursing his lips and winking over exaggeratedly. Jester laughed and that sight alone made Fjord’s heart flip, he wanted to keep this little sapphire happy, just as he promised Marion when the Lords visited her all those months ago.

“You’re so strong Fjord” She smiled up at him, “You can protect him!” Her words were truthful, he could tell even without the drink she believed in him and that meant so much to him.

“Come on Jessie, we gotta be up to get ready to leave” His speech was slightly slurred as he picked Jester up bridal style, wanting to freeze the moment she nuzzled sleepily into his chest. Fjord put Jester down on the bed gently, climbing in next to her while not protesting that she held onto him as she drifted into sleep.

“Goodnight Jessie.” he kissed her on the forehead before floating into blissful sleep himself.

Chapter Text

Everyone woke up, later than usual because of the nights that transpired. Mollymauk and Caduceus slept peacefully as did Yasha, Jester and Fjord were quite a bit dizzier because of their late night dances. Neither of them says they remember anything that happened so they assume the other simply forgot.

Caduceus and Yasha took lead in packing everything, Cad organised the moorbounders to attach to the front of the cart. Yarnball and Clarabelle were calm this morning, ready to carry the cart along the trail to Rexxentrum. They start at a slow pace, Caduceus and the now recovered Jester taking the helm of the Cart.

“Heyyy Caduceus, how are you?” Jester breaks the silence, smiling bright and cheerful.

“I’m okay, what about you? Did you recover well? You seemed to have some fun yesterday.” Caduceus looked forward, focusing on steering the cart. Jester’s cheeks and ears turned a slightly darker blue. She knows he is meaning innocent things but the blurred memories ring clearer than this morning, with the warm touch of the sun on their heads.

“I feel a bit woozy but that’s all, I had a good sleep last night,” She thought back to waking up in Fjord’s arms, moving and getting ready before he woke. She remembered the smell of salt and brine soaked into his skin

They set off on the main stretch of the journey to the Empire.

-----

Day broke over Rexxentrum, the sunlight flooding into the room's windows waking Caleb gently as opposed to being woken by Kelalyn or Nott at his desk with ink smudged onto his hands and cheeks. The human stretched, invigorated for the day ahead, for the first time in a while. There was a knock at the door,

“It’s open!” Caleb called out, putting on his day clothes and brown coat, he was going outside to get some ingredients as well as something else.

 Beau entered the room, head bowed to Caleb. “I’m sorry, Archmage Widogast.” She was extremely formal, her demeanour subdued.

“It’s okay Beauregard. I understand your emotions get the best of you.” After a night’s rest, he felt ready to forgive her. Even though she may be slightly guilty, that wasn’t what mattered to Caleb. Since the treaty, he tried to make an effort to keep his political standing but not be as menacing as his peers.

“I have a letter, from the King.” She rummaged through her satchel for the wax-sealed paper and handed it to Caleb. He nodded to her as if to dismiss her. Beau exited as quickly as she came in, shutting the door when she left.

Caleb made a confused face at the letter addressed in neat cursive writing: ‘ Archmage Caleb Widogast’ If it were anything of importance he would have been called to talk in person.

 

Archmage Widogast,

 

Formalities aside, this letter is for your eyes only. Please keep it as such. Do not discuss the contents of this letter with anyone. This letter regards the formalities of the wedding, in 5 days time. The Lords will be arriving in 3 days.

You and the Lords will not speak to one another that day. You and the chosen Lord, or any Lord for that matter, will not have any contact or sight of one another until the veil is revealed on the altar. The chosen and yourself will be able to talk after the wedding. For the wedding, we will follow Xhorhasian tradition, with the ceremony in Common, as well as the meal being large and extravagant.

As for any after wedding practices, you shall follow Dwendalian tradition. This will include a 5-day honeymoon in the countryside away from all civilisation. Travel has been arranged for you, the Lords and Beauregard as well as Nott for protection in case anything were to ‘kick off’.

I will have Beauregard and Nott meet with the Lords at their arrival surrounding bedding arrangements. Obviously, the chosen and yourself will be in the same bed, after being married. Other quarters will be dispersed around the Castle as to stop conspiring between the Lords.

 

Regards,

King Bertrand Dwendal

 

Yet again, the name of his chosen was not revealed to him, he was okay with that. He doesn’t want to know. He assumed that the letter Nott read before was from the Lords directly and not pre-read by the King.

Caleb tucked the letter away, into the piles of papers stacked onto his desk. At this point in time, he noticed the neatly packaged book that he didn’t get the time to open the day prior. Like an excited child on his rarely celebrated birthday, he unwrapped the brown paper to reveal an intricately painted book, violet base with gold paints and green embellishments on the large symbol on the centre. Lots of star imagery, which was one thing that fascinated Caleb, wishes were reliant on some type of spectral power - at least that was theorised.

With the sun glowing ever higher in the sky, Kelalyn knocked on the door with her cart in hand, decked out with a healthy platter of breakfast food.

“Here you are, Archmage Widogast!” She placed the plate neatly on the table he ate at last night, leaving without asking a single question after seeing how focused Caleb was on the book on his desk

As she closed the door, Caleb remarked “Thank you, Kelalyn. I will be eating here in the evening as well,” The Halfling nodded, smiling to Caleb before shutting the door completely, leaving him with his thoughts.

He had work to do, if he didn’t finish this before getting in touch with the Druids who offered to help reverse the Inferno it would make the arrangement much more difficult to orchestrate.

--------

Nott snuck around the Castle, checking in with the servants that resided within the walls who were cleaning up after the grand hall’s breakfast. She bumped into Beauregard, who was returning to the Barracks after delivering the letter to Caleb’s Study.

“Nott? What are you doing ‘round the servants quarters?” Beau inquired, leaning against the wall, arms crossed and eyebrow raised.

“I didn’t want to disturb Caleb. He needs some space, I can tell.”

“Oh, I just popped my head in, he’s fine.”

“Right, I’ll leave him for now, I have some errands to run.” Nott scampered off, passing without a trace past her. Beau continued on her path, thinking about if he was going to change after this forced vow between him and this Lord of Misrule.

She hoped it would be for the better, but she doubted it highly.

 

--------

 

It was late evening on the cart, and the Lords of Misrule had set up their tent on the side of the road with trees surrounding them and plenty of creatures for the Moorbounders to feast on. Fjord volunteered to set up the two tents while Caduceus set up a campfire, Mollymauk and Jester gathering bedrolls and supplies needed for the evening. Yasha helped Fjord with the tents, holding things in place while he nailed the pegs into the ground.

Within 20 to 30 minutes, the Lords had gathered around the campfire with food rations in hand, silently looking around. Mollymauk stared directly into the flame, flashing back to the reflection in the Archmage’s eyes all those months ago, he shook himself out of his mind before his impulses took over. He wished that this man who thousands feared was just in a shell, ready for him to crack and release a functioning human.

Meanwhile, Jester and Fjord were sitting side by side, smiling and joking between each other amidst the crackling of the Campfire. Caduceus looked over at the pair, smiling slightly and wishing upon the wildmother that nothing brutal were to happen to these two.

“How long do we have left on the cart, another day of fast pace?” Molly looked to Caduceus, as the firbolg was in charge of direction even though he had never travelled this path before.

“We should be there in,” He looked off into the distance, narrowing his eyes, “3 days, if the Moorbounders are going to survive hauling all of our luggage” On the horizon, Clarabelle and Yarnball were racing about, chasing after some wildlife.

“Alright. So only 2 days in when we get there before the… the... “ He gestured with his hands, not wanting to say it directly. The large firbolg nodded, his pink hair bouncing as he moved his head.

“If you need to ramble on again, just say the word.” At this, Molly's lips curled into a smile at the taller man appreciatively.

Over the course of the evening, they discussed watch shifts for the night ahead as well as other topics like whether they should go on a pub crawl when they got to Rexxentrum which ultimately and to Molly’s dismay, was dismissed. The sun began to finally set over the hills they were travelling through and they decided to get some rest. Mollymauk and Jester took the first watch.

“Jester, you already know what I am going to ask, I bet.” Molly nudged the smaller tiefling and she hit him with her tail, or more accurately, poked him in the cheek with it. Jester’s lips were pressed together and a small dark blue blush lit up in the warm light of the fire.

“Are you sure about this Jester?” He turned to look at her love-struck face, brows raised slightly. “Right.” He looked to the side, he wasn’t going to have that. It is for the safety of others, he can find something else to love. Maybe a hobby that isn’t drinking or murder. He could take up gardening like Caduceus said he would indulge in the night prior.

“I want… I… I want to….” Jester fumbled over words, attempting to form her thoughts into words and failing quite significantly. Molly put a hand on the deep in thought shoulder of the small sapphire.


“Take your time, dear.” He didn’t want to rush her mind or force her into saying something she didn’t mean to. “We have a while ‘til the end of our watch."

Her tail swished and swayed, brows furrowed as she tried to place the words that were trying to spill out of her mouth. “I do like him, Molly, I do! He’s super nice and cool and he has this really neat magic but he gets scary dreams and I want to help him. I’ve asked the traveller to help him, I don’t know if it’s working…” Jester looked into the flame then at Mollymauk who had an understanding smile on his lips.

 

“Just make sure you think about it. Got it?” He patted Jester on the head, ruffling her hair slightly.

The watch was uneventful, they didn’t talk much after that.

Next on watch were Fjord and Yasha. They didn’t talk at all, they both sat and contemplated things. Caduceus took the last shift, beginning to make food for the group.

Sun rose, the Lords waking up quietly, no attempts of attacks that day. ‘ 4 days of freedom.’ Was all Mollymauk could think of.

“Good morning” Caduceus smiled to them all as they left the tents. “If we want to get there on time we can’t sit around as we usually do.” The firbolg had taken on a protective role in the group in the months they had known him, for the Lord’s benefit.

The moorbounders approached as they were packing up supplies, blood dripping from their jaws, clearly refreshed. Jester helped hook up Yarnball and Clarabelle to the cart and within 20 minutes they were off.

-----------

He read through the first few studies of wishes, taking notes in his leather-backed journal before heading out of the Castle for a supply hunt. Having lived here for as long as his name was ‘Caleb Widogast’ he knew where he was going, the exact time with his average walking speed as well as whether Ferro was in, every day of the year. With a small list in hand, he approached the wooden storefront of ‘Ferro’s goods’. (Caleb knew the man well, he wasn’t the most creative but he knew what he was talking about)

The small bell rang in the shop, bringing Ferro’s attention to Caleb. Ferro was an old human man, with a large bald spot, copper rimmed magnification glasses and a slight hunchback from working at a table too short for him. 

“Ah! Caleb, nice to see you again lad.” Ferro gave a crooked smile which Caleb didn’t return, the wizard just nodded while examining the shelves for all the ingredients he needed. “What’cha looking for there?” Ferro shuffled to where Caleb was standing and looked at his list, “Right, I can get that all for ya. Just got in some jewellery over there if you want to take a peek while I getcha your things”

The wizard peeked around the corner, lo and behold, there was a small stand of rings and the like. Perfect. Caleb was hoping to find something to get for his partner as a type of reconciliation gift for being stuck with him for the foreseeable future. What caught his eye immediately was a golden ring, intricately chiselled to have a snakeskin texture with the ‘snake’ biting onto an amber jewel in the centre. It was mesmerising for him to look at and he thought that whichever person he was paired with, would enjoy it. On the stand were some model horns with jewels hanging off of them, the glittery shapes and shine to each one zoned Caleb out a bit.

“I’ll get the things on the list and this, uh, ring.” He held up the amber jewelled ring. Ferro nodded and added it onto his mental calculations.

“That’ll be 10 gold total.” The old man nodded, counting the pieces Caleb gave to him. “‘Ave a good day, Caleb.” He waved as the bell rang once again as he left the store.

 

-----------

 

After another few nights of taking watch, eating around the campfire and appreciating freedom, the Lords of Misrule approached the gates to the Rexxentrum Castle of King Bertrand Dwendal. A mid-tone skinned monk and hooded goblin met them at the gate, quickly assigning guards to take their belongings into the castle after checks had been done.

“Alright. Here’s the rundown of what’s gonna happen here.” The monk spoke up, dressed in loose flowing fabric. Yasha paid attention to every word that came out of her mouth, standing up straighter with her sword stood between her legs to seem more menacing. Caduceus looked around at the pristine condition of all plants in the area, even spotting a wildflower garden that he was extremely interested in. Fjord nodded along as the human spoke. Jester smiled bright, trying to leave a good impression. Mollymauk however, knowing his fate, looked around trying to find somewhere to drink his sorrows away as soon as he could. ‘ 2 days left.’

“You will be allowed your weapons in the castle however they must be kept in the room at all times unless you are leaving the castle. When roaming around you cannot have them on you, King’s request.” The monk leant on her stick, clearly showing her authority.

The small goblin chimed in “Arrangements have been made so that each of you will have a room, with an attached study. We would prefer that you keep to these.” She looked up to Mollymauk indirectly, “The chosen, however, will have a separate room for the next 2 nights. After which you will share Archmage Widogast’s room.” The name alone made something in his heart tremble, with excitement or fear? He wasn’t sure.

“Before we enter,” the blue-clad monk spoke, “My name is Beauregard, and she is Nott.” She eyed up the group. “State your names, if you please.”

 

“Yasha.” The tall barbarian spoke first, the tips of Beauregard’s lips curled slightly.

“Fjord.” The large half-orc spoke next, reaching out a hand to Beau and Nott.

“Jester Lavorre” The small blue tiefling spoke proudly afterwards, bowing to the two.

“Caduceus Clay,” He gave a calming smile to them, bowing his head.

“Mollymauk Tealeaf, Molly to my friends.” He gave a smile, allowing his slightly fanged teeth to be shown as well as an overexaggerated bow, the fabrics of his clothing floating in the light winds of the day. Beau raised an eyebrow before looking to Nott, who nodded with a pitiful expression.

 

“This way.”

Chapter Text

One by one, each member of the Lords of Misrule entered the gates of the castle, adding a barrier between them and the surrounding city of Rexxentrum. Besides where they walked were the servants carrying their belongings, Yasha tried to step in but was held back by   Fjord, who was walking behind her. The castle was a sight to behold, it's unique 5 spire design to signify the 5 Archmages that truly ran the Empire was matched with a warm brick colour, ranging from oranges to browns in tone. On the outside, Molly looked and walked and talked as usual - in his signature flamboyant way. However on the inside, he was panicking, the realisation really kicking in for him.

 

Beau had merged with the group midway through the journey to the entrance, speaking to Fjord and Yasha mostly. Nott lead the way, her feet tapping on the cold stone path leading to the grand gate on the Castle’s complex.

 

“We’re here. Don’t make any weird moves unless you want to get speared.” Nott remarked with a tinge of sarcasm in her speech. She gestured to the guards around her, all turning to attention when she motioned toward them. Beauregard stepped forward, facing the group while adjusting her robes.

 

"Your bags have been pre-escorted to your rooms, which we will show you to shortly." They all moved nervously into the castle, it having been previous enemy territory. "Lavender, meet us back here once you are unpacked." Beau began, grabbing onto his upper arm. "We need to ensure you know what's gonna happen." Her eyes were blank, staring into the pupilless eyes of Mollymauk. He nodded, smoothing down his sleeve where she had grabbed him, moving past with his coloured fabrics flowing behind him in the wind. Nott looked at him with a sense of distrust, she knew these types of people and the trouble they dragged others into and she wasn't about to let her boy get into another tragedy.

----------

 

'Lavender, really ... lavender? That was the best name she could conjure up?’ He sighed, hands rested in his pockets as he caught up with the rest of the group who were stopping in the centre of the entrance hall, waiting for the guards to escort them to their appropriate rooms. Everyone dispersed down the five corridors, slightly disoriented after their travels.

 

When Mollymauk reached his door, he saw a flick of ginger hair disappear around the bend of the hallway out of the corner of his eye. The tiefling dismissed the thought almost instinctively, turning back toward his door and gave the guard a smile and wink before shutting the door behind him. In all honesty, Mollymauk Tealeaf - King of the Circus - was amazed at the layout before him. He believed that he couldn't afford 99 per cent of the items in the small complex of rooms he was staying in for the last night of his freedom.  Molly didn’t bother to settle in and rest, as he recalled the small goblins request of meeting back there; discreetly.

 

---------

The archmage took a breath, looking back at the pristine suit hanging on the back of his door with a small satchel packed with items hanging over his shoulder. Caleb placed the bag down on his desk, an organized mess amidst the immaculate space of his quarters. Nott had made sure that when Kelalyn cleaned the room, she was not to touch the desk and surrounding area as Nott knew what could happen to Caleb’s mind if something was not where he placed it. Caleb paced back and forth, fingertips pressed together and index fingers resting against his lips. The sight of his suit alone began to force Caleb back into his memories of the treaty signing and the war declaration as well as all the war parades he was forced into when they got back from the battlefield for good. Decorated with small pins and badges hanging loosely from the left side of his navy blue coat and a red lining surrounding the lapel and cuffs.

 

As long as the person who met him at the end of the aisle was understanding and not a loose cannon, he would be perfectly fine. He hoped they were docile and could busy themselves around the castle quite a bit in order to not take up valuable research time.

 

After all, Caleb had come to the terms that he would live in a forced, loveless marriage; til the end of his days. Truly, he found it impossible to fall in love with a Lord of Misrule, until he caught a glimpse of the infamous Tiefling who he had seen only once in the flesh but heard novels about in taverns. The deaths he caused could not be subdued in his mind unless he vowed himself to someone who could never love- nor like -someone like Caleb. That lavender painted man was most likely involved with someone already, the Lords could never let an exotic man like that go to waste. Setting up them to be wed to him of all people would be the largest waste of human life possible.

 

Caleb glanced at the small box on his desk, open to reveal the golden snake ring encrusted with amber in its eye. If anything he hoped the small gift he had gotten for his ‘spouse’ would be enough to please them for now.

---------

‘Huh. neat.’ Caduceus looked around the room, the fuzz of pink brushing against the already tall ceilings. After being in Rexxentrum for a day now, he had realised that not many tall people lived in these parts or at least in the castle. The Firbolg hunched over so his hair wouldn’t brush against the ceiling, looking over at his satchel and searching for the glass jar of tea he had gotten for the archmage. During the travels, the twine binding the small tag had loosened and the light brown label rested at the bottom of his satchel, crumpled slightly. Caduceus furrowed his brow, straightening the label before refastening it with ease.

 

Quietly and carefully, the pink haired firbolg clambered into bed, curling onto his side as to not allow his legs to hang off of the bed’s edge.

--------

 

Molly snuck through the castle, the dark light peering through the windows. Nott stood leant against the stone wall outside of the main entrance with her arms crossed head ducked and hooded legs tapping rhythmically against the floor.

 

“Took ya’ long enough.” The small goblin didn’t look up, only commenting on Mollymauk’s arrival when he reached within 50 ft of her. She reached out her hand, scrunching her nose and flexing her fingers, almost as if she was waiting for him to comment which at this moment Molly stood with his arms clasped behind his back and balancing on his toes.

 

“Do you know you lot weren’t meant to send a letter to the Archmage?” Nott scoffed, disgust visible in the eye Molly could barely see as it was covered by hair. In response Mollymauk raised an eyebrow, his tail swishing from side to side instinctually. “Either way, he still doesn’t know you are his spouse and we intend to keep it that way until you are standing with him at the altar as par your traditions.” The tiefling nodded along with Nott’s harsh tone, leaning in closer and pushing his centre of balance back on his heels.

 

“Well then, that’s behind us. What do I need to do?” Mollymauk narrowed his eyes, smiling playfully to tilt the mood as to change his own. His tail perked up, flowing from side to side as he spoke. Nott looked him up and down, now facing him directly and tracing her gaze around the tattoos that peeked out of his sleeves. Molly rolled his eyes, pulling up his sleeve to reveal the myriad of tattoos the flourished on his skin, flicking out in multiple directions. He could tell, after all too many people had asked to see them, that Nott’s eyes were clearly fixated on the ruby red eyes of the snake winding down his arm.

 

“I know, weird right?” Nott moved to say something but Mollymauk cut her off “And no, I don’t know how it got there, why it got there or what it means” The tiefling counted the most common questions on his fingers as he spoke, overexaggerating his movements. Nott rolled her eyes, tossing back her greased hair to look with beaded yellow eyes at Mollymauk. She scowled and beckoned him to follow her, bringing her finger up to her lips which shocked Molly a small bit so he leant back, straightening his posture and following as silently as he could with his jewels jangling when he walked.

 

As they walked through the shaded courtyard into a small hut on the edge of the gardens Mollymauk could hear a faint ticking sound, he furrowed his eyebrows and searched through his pockets to find a pocket watch. It was golden, gilded with topaz and engraved with intricate flower designs, thorned roses crawling along the front leaving a gap to see through the lid. While walking he held it in his hand, examining it closely, he must’ve picked this off of a body and left it there. Molly pressed the small button at the top before the chain began and watched as the lid fell forward out of its clasp and showed a clock with numerals other than that of common ticking along as the seconds passed. Realisation passed over him and he quickly stuffed it back into his pockets after closing the lid, smiling as he caught up on lost ground.

Nott opened the rotting wooden door to reveal a well-furnished hut with trinkets, buttons and gold pieces scattered on every surface. The goblin’s eyes widened and she rushed around collecting the pieces, pushing them into various bags. Flustered, Nott offered Mollymauk a seat before taking a breath and returning to her serious aura.

“Right, Lavender listen up.” Nott sat down, resting her elbows on her knees while leaning forward, her fingertips leaning on each other to form a pyramid-esque shape. “This is extremely important. I know you don’t want to be here and neither does the Archmage. We need you to be on the same page in order for the Kingdoms to be at peace. Neither of us wants another war… another tragedy- ” Nott trailed off, the volume in her voice lessening the closer she got to the end of her final sentence. “So, we need you to be… what’s the word…” She paused, looking up to find the word in the depths of her mind.

“Respectful?” Mollymauk butted in, seeing she truly was at a loss for words.

“Yes! That!” Nott chirped, shifting in her seat

“It can be arranged..” ‘ like this damn marriage…’ Mollymauk restrained himself, moving his posture uncomfortably as the thought raced through his head. ‘ Tick, tick, tick, tick’ the tiefling heard, counting with them as the silence grew louder.

“Good. I assume you have your wedding attire?” Nott looked directly at Mollymauk, hoping he had remembered. He replied with a smile and a wink before darting to the door, as he closed it behind him he poked his head in and stage-whispered “good night, dear.”

 

-------

 

Morning rose over Rexxentrum, the bright sky contrasted deeply with the red eyes of Caleb. Normally he could put on a brave face and stand at the back, but looking in the mirror with that blazer on his body made him cringe. Surprising to him, he actually slept and got into a dream state, however, this dream caused a ripple to flow through his brain surrounding the war and the possibility that this choice was the worst one to make.

 

Grouchily he staggered to the bathroom mirror, staring deep into his own ice blue eyes. Resting his weight through his arms on the counter top he simply sighed, eyes looking down at his hands, now in an entirely different landscape. They were ash-ridden, held down in front of him with one hand wrapped around the neck of a Xhorhasian soldier, the other sparkling with amber flecks, light drifting around the war-torn scene frightened, he tried to pull back his hand from the struggling soldier but he could not, all he could do was look around the inferno

 

As quickly as he entered the world he stepped back into his bathroom, breath caught in his throat and eyes wide with fear like the face he saw all too often on those battlefields. Caleb took a deep breath, closing his eyes and thinking of how he would address the situation he faced today. Of all events he had been forced to attend, this was the one that scared him the most: His own wedding. How pathetic, he was afraid of such a measly party rather than before going to war.

Caleb splashed his face with water, gasping at the feeling of something other than Nott’s hand on his cheek, he could do this… this is easy, the Dwendalian tradition didn’t require anything other than the detox-honeymoon. From what Caleb had researched on Xhorhasian wedding traditions they were inherently simple, modest celebrations of connection through an exchanging of rings; a celebration of love, yet another thing Caleb would never experience. The closest Caleb had gotten to being in love was to a now married classmate of his. Astrid. However, all too soon he realised that she wasn’t into his scrawny type, she much preferred the muscular but smart types like Aeowulf - who Caleb couldn't help but admit was quite good-looking - so it made sense she chose him over Caleb. At least she was happy now. Her general status in the war meant she would be attending the wedding, seeing him being married off like some maiden. That stage was behind him, after learning of her research into food poisoning he became less interested in her.

Caleb looked up to the clock on the wall, ticking away the final hours of his freedom, '2 hours left Then I am no longer a bachelor, my mother would have been so proud… No. He wasn’t Bren anymore, that boy had died in the fire as she did. He had been reborn as Caleb Widogast, Archmage. His new family was here, with Nott and Beau.' The trio was mismatched, to say the least.

 

----------

 

Jester lurked outside of what she had figured out as Molly’s room, knocking gently on her fellow tiefling’s door. A semi-ready Mollymauk opened it, ushering Jester inside the lavishly decorated room.

“You realise you need to get to the King’s study in like..” Jester checked her watch “1 and a half hours?” Molly shrugged and nodded, turning back to his desk which had a mirror on it and various makeup powders scattered in glass jars underneath it. Molly went back to attempting to flick a black liquid off of the corners of his eyelids. When he succeeded he threw his arms back, leaning on the cushioned back of the chair.

 

“Darling, I’ll be fine. This ensemble isn’t as intricate as my daily wear, have to be modest you know?” Molly smiled at Jester, flicking through his wardrobe and picking up a hanger with the flowing material and red scarf he had found in there before. “One moment dear.” Mollymauk disappeared behind the bathroom door, exiting in the beautiful sheer-sleeved white top with a deep dipped neck and flowing skirt with a slit down one side, all tied together with the red tie-dye scarf and stiletto-heeled shoes. Almost floating, he glided to the door where Jester stared wide-eyed at the goddess dressed Mollymauk that stood before her.  

 

“I’ll see you at the altar.” He winked, leaving the door to meet the King and practise his parade down the aisle. In his hand, he held the small pocket watch he had discovered the night prior.

 

Chapter Text

It was time, the clock chimed for 12’ o clock and Caleb stood nervously at the altar, staring down at his feet with his hands clasped. The chapel room of the castle had been re-decorated to fit the traditional Xhorhasian wedding designs. The colour scheme was red, amber and gold, with roses twirling up the lattice on the walls. The 6 pillars that stood on each side of the aisle each had roses swirling around them, thorns on as well. In the front row was Caleb’s fellow Archmages, King Bertrand Dwendal, Astrid and Aeowulf on one side and the Lords of Misrule, Beau and Nott on the other. Caleb closed his eyes, counting the seconds in his head. A tune began to play as the door opened minutes later, revealing the dress of what he assumed was the female Tiefling, the veil dropped over their head hid any determinating features however after looking at the Lords of Misrule once more, he saw the sapphire blue Tiefling sat staring up at the horned person walking toward him. No… Caleb dismissed the thought as quickly as it arrived. Caleb stood opposite of the veiled suitor, not listening to the pastor at all until his ears pricked up on the ‘I do’ section of the ceremony, each word digging at his freedom. The voice of his suitor was deep but sultry and Caleb still did not want to admit to what he knew. With his eyes closed, he put the ring on the other’s hand and held out his own to do the same, feeling the glares he was getting from those invited.

“You may now seal this vow with a kiss.” The pastor spoke and Caleb gulped, looking up at the veil. With a shaky hand, he lifted it, revealing a sight Caleb never thought he would see. The lavender tiefling from the night prior, in a stunning display of artistry, the eyelids beautifully painted with oranges and golds to contrast the stunning red pupilless eyes he was staring into. Caleb and the tiefling nodded to each other, the tiefling with a small apologetic smile, acknowledging what must be done.

Molly leaned in before Caleb realised and they met in the middle, pulling away as soon as their lips touched. Embarrassed, Caleb rested his hand on the back of his head, holding out his shaking ringed hand to the taller Tiefling, Mollymauk gladly accepted, Caleb leading them both out of the Chapel with cheers and screams. Somehow, Caleb could pick out Beau’s screams above the rest.

As soon as they left the chapel, the Archmage released Mollymauk’s hand, only uttering a few words.

“Follow me, please.”

And with nothing better to do, the stiletto-wearing tiefling followed behind the wizard, his heels making loud echoing sounds on the marble floors of the palace.

----------

After walking out into the afternoon sky of the courtyard, Caleb felt the small box in his pocket and decided now was a better time than ever to give a gift.

“Uh, Mollymauk was it?” Caleb spoke up, not making eye contact with the tiefling.

“Yes, what is it?” He raised an eyebrow at the reddening wizard.

“I have a gift for you.” He paused, breath caught tight in his throat. An audible swallow was heard coming from Caleb, “If you would like it…” Caleb looked anywhere but his husband’s piercing red eyes, feeling in his pocket for the box.

“Of course darling, that’d be nice.” Molly took one of Caleb’s hands into his own, rubbing the top of his hand with his thumb comfortingly. If Mollymauk was going to be married to this murderer he was at least going to try.

Mollymauk’s eyes widened as the famed ‘Auburn Archmage’ fumbled with a small box and produced an equally minute snakeskin textured ring with a beautifully polished amber crystal embedded in the eye of the snake as well as the larger centrepiece that the miniature snake fangs grappled around. With his free hand, he held it out to Caleb and he silently but gently placed the golden ring onto his clawed finger.

“Thank you..” Molly smiled genuinely at the expensive-looking ring on his hand and then up to Caleb, seeing he was still avoiding meeting his eyes. Mollymauk stepped back, letting go of Caleb’s hand, it was clear that the Archmage needed some space afterwards. Surprisingly, Caleb’s anxious aura reminded him a lot of Yasha’s sometimes - or at least when she was clearly running low on her social battery.

“Please, meet back here in uh, a few minutes. I must get something.” This was followed by him apologising profusely and excusing himself.

This left Mollymauk alone in the courtyard, his new home, a new golden ring on his right hand as well as a simple silver band on his left. The newlywed tiefling found a comfortable seat on a nearby bench opposite a garden of flowers in the shape of the Empire’s emblem. Quietly, Molly reflected on his journey as he stared up at the dazzling blue sky, clouds drifting slowly across his view. As time passed and Caleb didn’t return, Mollymauk’s mind wandered.

With furrowed brows he pondered what to do, he might as well ask what was wrong, what did he have to lose.

And with that, Molly rose from the wooden bench and followed where he thought he saw Caleb leave.

--------

‘Schisse. What had he done, he could have let someone else take his place but then there would be backlash on his part however he would be free to find someone else.’ Caleb’s mind raced, he hadn’t had time to comprehend all of the events since this morning but the more he thought the louder the thoughts battled to get his attention, overwhelming him slightly.

This was fine, Caleb knew he could just find a place to clear his head and return to the public in order to keep up his reputation as well as the safety of the Empire… later. While pacing back and forth in a nearby corridor with his head bowed and hands clasped behind him, he flinched when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Dear, are you alright?” Molly stood, eyebrow cocked in something that looked like genuine worry. Still frozen by surprised Caleb managed to nod, slowly while his eyes were shut before opening to rest his gaze on the floor.

“Uh, Ja.” Caleb still faced away from his husband which made a part of him curl in on itself. ‘How pathetic, can’t even face someone who you are bound to til death.’ “We should...” Caleb paused, gesturing frantically down the corridor all the while not making eye contact with Molly “head to the, uh, dinner now.” A sense of urgency ran through his speech, with a quiver in how he spoke. Still looking to the floor out of embarrassment, Caleb began to lead the way to the main hall for the reception, coattails flowing behind him as a result of the pace he was moving at.

Something about how closed off Caleb was planted a seed of curiosity in Mollymauk’s head, a familiar tinge of mystery shivered down his spine. Now, this was an investigation… or at least something for Molly to do for the foreseeable future anyway.
--------
Beau and Nott had trailed behind Caleb and Mollymauk, leaving the four of them to mill about for a moment. Momentarily out of the peering eyes of the press. Studying the space around them, they all were uncharacteristically quiet, it had finally set in for those like Jester and Yasha, who had now realised Molly was going to have to stay here instead of with them. Fjord coughed as if he were going to say something, which dragged the attention of the other three to him in the still air. “Uh.., I- Thi-” The half-orc fumbled over his words, scratching his jaw in an attempt to seem as if he were thinking over what he was about to say.

Caduceus spoke up to help Fjord’s cause, peering back at the delicately placed flowers.“Isn’t the decoration beautiful?” His comment was met with nods from the other Lords,

“They look familiar, I think I saw the bushes on the way in yesterday,” Yasha replied softly, thinking back to their entrance to Rexxentrum Castle.

“If my memory doesn’t fault me, they were next to a patch of wildflowers… if I’m honest they need better care. I should ask about that..” His sentence trailed off as the tall firbolg made a mental note to speak to the palace gardener, just to make sure they were taken care of properly.

A guard approached the quartet, stopping the already dying conversation from continuing. Behind the armour was a large scaled Dragonborn with dirty blue scales and a protruding bump covering half of her left eye. Her head was bowed until Fjord stepped toward her,
“What do you need? Some kinda ceremony we gotta be at now?” Authority exuded from his tone, clear and nonchalant. Fjord leaned his head forward to rush an answer from the clearly uneasy guard. Jester gave Fjord a light slap on the arm,

“Come on Fjord don’t be mean, she’s just trying to do her job.” Jester pouted at Fjord, who shifted his gaze from the Dragonborn to rest on the mildly angered sapphire blue tiefling staring up at him.

“Sorry, Jessie” His words were sincere, a sprinkling of regret in his past wording evident. Hesitantly, the half-orc reached his hand down and gave Jester a pat on the head. This soothed Jester to a lesser extent, however, she maintained her pouting glare.

“Your presence is required at the reception, Lords.” She bowed, startling Yasha at the gesture.

"Thank you…" Fjord nodded to the Dragonborn guard dismissively, turning back to the group as her heavily decorated armour echoed through the corridor from the chapel. “We better be off then.”

“We need to be there for Molly,” Yasha spoke, solemn in her words as if sensing his discomfort when leaving the chapel better than anyone else who knew him.

Affirmative noises came from each member at varying tones, Caduceus’ being the lowest and Jester’s the highest. In two pairs - Yasha and Caduceus, and Fjord and Jester - they travelled silently, observing their surroundings. Fjord was constantly on the lookout for ambushes but Jester saw his eyes constantly darting from door to door and quietly put her hand in his, squeezing twice. Shoulders rising slightly at the new sensation in his hand, Fjord hesitantly squeezed back. When they arrived at the door they were quickly rushed to their seats, glares received from other attendees as they did so.
--------
As Caleb and Mollymauk approached the glistening golden-trimmed dark oak doors of the hall, Caleb put a hand behind him to stop Mollymauk from continuing. “Uh, Mollymauk? During the dinner, please do not feel obligated to talk to me. You may go and fraternize with the other Lords once the courses have been served.” Caleb’s head turned over his shoulder, allowing his hand to fall back at his side.

“Oh, Right. I’ll get the door then?” Molly moved next to the human, reaching for the handle when Caleb grabbed his hand and stood up tall to whisper in his ear ‘Just wait for the guards, our attendance must be proceeded by a speech from the King.’ he jerked his head to the door, where a faint voice could be heard speaking rather loudly. Mollymauk adjusted his hand to hold Caleb’s comfortably, feeling the anxiousness emanating off of the wizard standing beside him.
“And now, here they enter!” King Bertrand Dwendal flamboyantly gestured to the door which opened to reveal the newlyweds, hand in hand and dressed to the nines. The duo walked through the tables, Molly giving the Lords a nod to signify that they did not need to resort to violence just yet. As they got settled in the top centre of the hall, dishes with beautifully cooked meats and vegetables were served to everyone. Next to Caleb was Beau and the other archmages, Nott was lurking in the shadows, keeping watch as they all ate.

“Don’t you think this is just wonderful?” Molly spoke up, attempting to spark a friendly conversation with the Archmage Caleb. He got a nod in reply, Caleb making sure he was unable to speak due to the amount of food he was gradually piling into his mouth.

“In the Dwendalian Tradition, do you have first dances as we do?” By this time Mollymauk had devoured his plate, as did Caleb, and they were waiting for plates to be collected by staff. Caleb’s eyes widened and he froze momentarily. ‘Schisse.’ He forgot about the dance. Secretly he hoped that those manners lessons he took as a child kicked in and he would do it flawlessly but inside the wizard knew, today was never going to go completely to plan. The least he could do was try.

Chapter Text

Plates were stacked and carted away, all guests turning to look at the head table when King Bertrand clinked the end of a fork against the fragile glass. Caleb audibly gulped, adjusting his badges so they were completely in line with the pocket, if he was going to be the centre of attention - though he dreaded it - he had to look good for the press. Anxiously, he ran a hand through his hair as silence befell the room of approximately two-hundred guests.

Concerned, Molly looked over at Caleb with his head tilted - jewels jingling quietly as he moved - the Archmage shook his head, attempting to dismiss any and all worry from someone who truly should not care about him right now (or ever for that matter).

“We shall now commence the first dance! But first, a toast. To peace and prosperity for Dwendalians and Xhorhasians alike” Bertrand raised his wine glass high, everyone in unison replying.

“For peace!”

“For peace.” The lavender tiefling nodded to the wizard, and he replied, clinking their glasses together.

“For peace and to no more death.” Caleb trailed off, giving a weak smile which Mollymauk returned with more ‘honesty’. Beauregard gave Caleb a nudge, telling with a glaring look ‘get it over with’. For once, Caleb took the initiative and stood up, offering his hand to the beautifully dressed Mollymauk. With a smile Caleb couldn’t tell was genuine or not, he accepted, allowing the Archmage to lead them both to a clearing in front of the head table.

This was where Caleb had no clue of what to do and it was clear. So Molly took the human’s hand and placed it on his waist, resting his forearm on top of Caleb’s shoulder and doing the same with the other hand. Unlike the Archmage, Mollymauk surely didn’t mind being touched by someone he had just met while Caleb was struggling to keep his cool. The band began to play, a slow ballad where the front singer of the group - a gnome adorned in purple silks with a sense of age to his voice.

 

“This journey's over
Another's just begun
Beneath the moonlight
Or by the warming sun”

 

Molly led the slow dance, whispering counts to Caleb so he wasn’t out of time, stepping from side to side and occasionally being twirled by the inexperienced human. The song was almost over, the tiefling deciding he was going to rest his head on Caleb’s shoulder - just so the press couldn’t say this was a false marriage- visibly Caleb froze, eyes widening. Mollymauk only smiled at him and whispered through his teeth. “Just go with it, smile and pretend.” He winked afterwards, showing his true nature to Caleb for the first time.

 

“Oh could I see now
The swallows in their flight
Watch the moon dance
On oceans in the night”

 

“Oh, alright. The bar is free tonight, just thought you should know” Caleb whispered back, hands still resting - and twitching occasionally - on Molly’s hips. He twirled the tiefling as the final chorus came about, allowing him to playfully dip him down when the final note was played. ‘Just play along, Caleb.’ With a gulp, he gave his ‘husband’ a shrug and a pitiful look.

“You know me so well already.” Molly grinned at the man holding him up. Mollymauk wrapped his tail around Caleb’s wrist, which from what the wizard had researched; was a sign of intense affection when done as the tiefling had. Courteously, Caleb gave a look to the outside door and Molly nodded.

 

“For I remember
That if my heart be true
Just like an eagle
I'm coming home to you”

 

When the song came to a close, the Gnome bard bowing extravagantly, Caleb and Molly left the dance floor and went back outside. Alone once more, Mollymauk decided to strike up the conversation.

“So what now... Is this it? Do we have to do any more ‘press things’ or are we left alone for the night?”

Caleb nodded “Nein, I mean uh- no more for today, but tomorrow we are heading to a small grove cottage for our ‘detox honeymoon’ .” Silence fell on the dimly lit courtyard, small metal lanterns attached to high-reaching poles. Mollymauk bit on the inside of his lip, looking for something to say. Caleb continued to flick the tips of his fingers with his thumb to keep his mind occupied until Molly broke the quiet.

Eventually, he asked politely “Are the Lords welcome to stay nearby?” Something clicked in the Archmage’s head and he apologised profusely.

“Oh right! We have arranged accommodation for the Lords, saying they are your ‘guards’. Nott and Beau will also be joining us as my ‘guards’.” Caleb paused between most of his words, thinking back on the conversation he had with the King regarding the aftermath of the wedding.

----------

The night went on, Mollymauk and Caleb milling about separately. The wizard was almost glued to Beau and Nott’s sides. Fjord and Jester were dancing the night away, the smiling sapphire a glad sight for the worrying orc. Mollymauk and Caduceus sat at the bar, the lavender tiefling doing shots while Caduceus pondered over a glass of chunky milk. Inquisitively, Mollymauk asked what the box-shaped protrusion from Cad’s bag was. The firbolg’s eyebrows raised in realisation, of course he would forget!

“Do you know where Caleb is?” The calm but gravelly voice of the firbolg shook the chunky liquid settling in his glass.

Across the room, Molly spotted the auburn hair of Caleb Widogast, narrowing his eyes to check it's him. Molly pointed a claw-nailed finger over at the Archmage, head slumping back on to his fist that rested on the barside. The eyelids of the tiefling drooped, sleep setting in until he threw back another shot and liquid energy pulsed through his veins.

Caduceus stood up from the stool, stretching his arms up over his head. He truly stuck out like a sore thumb, standing up at least a whole foot above the crowds. Slowly, he made his way through the masses where Caleb, Nott and Beau were talking.

“Like I was sayin’, we haven’t ‘ad any new recruits these past months since the war finished…. Oh! Tall guy, whaddya want?”Beau vented to Nott, huffing during pauses and tapping her foot rapidly. Her aura calmed when he approached but the backburning anger around the lack of fresh meat in their troops.

“I have a wedding gift for Mister Caleb?” Caduceus began fiddling with the straps of his bag, the pads of his paws lacking any friction with the leather.

“Oh, that’s real kind of you!” Nott perked up, hoping it was some type of jewel.

“I hope so.” Caduceus picked out the nicely wrapped jar, handing it to Caleb “I thought this might fit you.” He gave a lazy smile to the clearly intimidated human, patting him on the head with his free hand.

Nott looked to Caleb, who shook his head and leant down to her ear. “No need to check, I trust this man.” The goblin narrowed her eyes at Caduceus, looking him up and down - a bit unsettled by his constant passive smile and half-settled eyelids.

“Alright. Be safe, I’ll be watching.” Nott scampered off to the shadows, bright eyes glowing softly from the chandelier light.

“So, uh, what was your name?” Caleb raised an eyebrow, not having talked to this intimidating man before, Caduceus reached a hand down to shake the human’s, dwarfing the wizard’s hand with his own.

“Caduceus Clay. Nice to meet you.”

------------

Music blared on through the night, increasingly drunken partygoers twirling and switching between dance partners as the music played on. Yasha got up on the stage, heading straight for the harp. To Fjord and Jester’s surprise - since they were on the floor below, now looking up at the stage - Yasha knew how to play!

While her eyes were closed, Yasha’s fingers methodically but gracefully plucked the strings to create a beautiful melody that filled the hall’s grandiose ceilings. A female blonde dwarf who had seated herself on the edge of the stage began to sing along to the plucking of the strings. Fjord offered his hand to Jester in which she gladly accepted, holding it down beside them both as she reached her arm around Fjord’s waist. With her sapphire blue eyes, she stared up at the Half-orc with a smile - one of pure childlike joy. He returned it, eyes looking fondly on the blue-skinned tiefling. The blonde dwarf began to sing, the voice angelic to all those who heard. A calmer aura drifted over the crowds,

 

“If I had a hundred wishes
And only one of them could come true
I would wish that over this distance
I could be right there now with you”

 

Jester smiled wide as she span round and round, fabrics following behind her every step. Delicately, Fjord held the top of Jester's hand, keeping her stable and stopping her from tornado-ing into the crowd.

 

“In the night I see you still
Darken hair and tender smile
Leaning out of the window sill
Clutching roses on the while”

 

A loud crash of thunder erupted against the ebony skies, evening having set hours before. All the heads turned to the windows when a bright flash of light burst into eyesight.

 

“If I had a hundred wishes
Only one of them could come true
I would wish that over this distance
I could be right there now with you”

 

Yasha ended the song with a beautiful trail, notes climbing up to its highest point. The crowd erupted into glorious applause, the Aasimar's cheeks glazing a slight red. Another flash of lightning, more violent than the last, drew Yasha’s attention to the window - her braided hair whipping around as her head moved. With a withdrawn sigh and a slow blink, Yasha stepped down from the stage, disappearing from Fjord and Jester’s view.

----------


The moon was high up in the springtime sky, clouds shrouding the glowing orb from view. All the guests had begun to funnel out from the main hall, out onto carriages and into the town. Mollymauk was at the bar still, pouring shot after shot down his throat, his eyelids drooped and his vision was blurry. When Caleb put a hand on his shoulder, he almost whacked the human in the face but his arm was too numb to do so, what Molly ended up doing was flashing his teeth and hissing before his head hit the barside - making Caleb pull his hand back instinctually.

Beau advanced forward toward Mollymauk, knowing how to handle drunkards as she blurrily remembered how Nott and Archie took care of her. She placed an arm around Molly’s shoulders, pushing the glass away from him. Simultaneously, Nott clung to Caleb’s leg, eyes darting around the room at the half-orc and tiefling who was sitting cross-legged on the floor talking over some type of journal; then to the firbolg who was standing back from the bar, eyebrows furrowed.

“Alright, you need to get to bed mate.” Beauregard tutted, holding up the drowsy tiefling who was supposed to be the Archmage’s consort. Caleb moved to help Beau but Nott tugged at his coattails.

“Have his things been taken to my study?” Caleb bent down slightly, looking down at Nott with a worried expression. The small goblin nodded, pulling down her hood to reveal the string-like black hair that lied beneath.

Hesitantly, Caleb followed behind Beau and the elegant-looking but drunkard walking Mollymauk, Nott was holding up the back of Mollymauk’s skirt to stop him from tripping over it. From an outsider’s view, this could be seen as a really sad wedding procession.

Eventually, they reached Caleb’s study door, motioning for him to mutter an incantation and pulling the white string from the door handle as to not startle the sensitive tiefling. The door creaked slightly as he opened it, allowing Beau to move Mollymauk onto the lavishly decorated bed, filled with pillows and a beautiful throw around the bottom.

Determined, the human monk lifted the tiefling into a cradle, Molly snuggling into her chest slightly.

“Hey! You sleep in the bed.” Beau furrowed her brow at him, Nott scampering under her (and Molly) to lift the sheets on the bed. As carefully as she possibly could, Beau placed the intoxicated newlywed into the bed and lifted the sheet over him.

“Goodnight… sweet prince.” Beau remarked sarcastically, mildly inconvenienced after having to deal with someone who had just been appointed - through law - to one of the highest titles in the Empire. Archmage Consort.

Molly didn’t reply, only holding the piece of fabric around him tighter, he didn’t seem to care about taking off any of his jewels; nevermind taking off his beautifully smudged makeup.
Nott followed after Beauregard, giving Caleb a nod and a click of the tongue on her way through the door. When the door closed, Caleb was left alone with Mollymauk however he felt uncomfortable sleeping next to his supposed husband so he dragged a few pillows off of the bed and placed them around the windowsill which had been turned into a reading corner separate from his study. Somehow, fortunately, the Archmage knew how comfortable the different places were on the padded side so he adjusted himself accordingly - first taking off his wedding attire in the bathroom and changing into his nightclothes, all Caleb wore was some plain shorts and a simple but comfy tunic.

Gradually, Caleb managed to fall asleep with the moonbeams lightly glazing across his pale skin. If this was how life was from now on, so be it. Unannounced to all in the Empire, this was only the start of a new timeline. A new era.

Chapter Text

Light beamed into the bay window where Caleb had slept, turning back to see the peaceful looking Mollymauk, jewels dazzling beautifully against the sunlight. A few minutes passed, Caleb realising he had been staring intently at each little gem that hung from his horns. He shook his head, snapping himself out of his own gaze.

Delicately, he moved around the room, wincing at the creaking floorboards. He made his way over to the bathroom mirror, staring at the dark circles resting under his eyes. Quiet rustling of sheets startled him slightly but he took no notice, just as he was told during training, spoke when spoken to if you think they think you can’t see them.

Small groans of rebellion fled from Mollymauk, clearly not wanting to leave the comfort of the bearly used bed. Caleb dismissed everything he was going to spiral into and focused in on his scrappy looking face. With a shaking hand, he grabbed the razor and carefully brushed it along his skin, narrowing his eyes as he tilted his neck and checked if he had missed any spots. Satisfied, Caleb splashed water on his face and took a deep breath in. Now in a sort of autopilot, the human walked from the bathroom on the west over to his closet on the east side of his room. Even though he had been feeling the burning looks from the tiefling lying in his bed Caleb continued on, taking a tunic, trousers and the other essentials from his closet. For just a moment, he looked inquisitively at the clothes and fabrics on the other side, a burst of colour to his tired eyes. In a haze, he wandered into the bathroom once again, not comfortable being anything but fully clothed in front of Mollymauk. A minute or so later he walked out, dressed and shaven, prepared for the few days of travel ahead of him. When he opened the door he saw a topless Mollymauk grazing through hi- their wardrobe, clearly unfazed by the sound of Caleb entering the room once again.

“Morning, dear. Bathroom free yet?” Molly turned to Caleb over his shoulder, chuckling slightly at the surprised face of the archmage, he winked “Enjoying the view?”

Caleb blinked a few times, snapping himself out of his train of thought. “Oh, sorry. I should have knocked. The bathroom is free.” Caleb stepped out of the way, furrowing his eyebrows while thinking about what he said “I should have knocked?’, really?’. In defeat, Caleb closed his eyes, exhaling through his nose in frustration at himself.

After the door closed, Caleb stood there for a moment - which turned into a minute, then to two and three and… knock knock. The archmage looked at the door expectantly, realising then that he had to go and open it. When the door opened, the tall firbolg stood there with a dopey smile on his face.
“Ah hello, Mister Widogast.” The ears twitched slightly “Is Mollymauk here?” Caduceus paused for a moment, “He left this behind yesterday.” With a grey hand, he returned a silver bracelet with a moon pendant hanging off of the chain.

“Thank you, Mister Clay.”

“See ya later and uh, say hello to Mister Mollymauk for me.” Caduceus turned down the corridor, assisting the servants with the heavy bags of the Lords.
Mollymauk re-entered the main room fully dressed and repainted. Caleb could only wonder the skill and precision of those hands to create such delicate lines on his eyelids and cheeks. The tiefling ran a hand through his hair, something clearly brooding inside of his head, however, it was not in Caleb’s area to approach him about what he was thinking so he let Molly go past and sit in one of the chairs by the fireplace that was against the wall leading to the bathroom.

“Caleb? May I ask you something if it's not too much?”

“Uh, ja. What is it?”

“Why did you sleep on that,” Mollymauk paused, gesturing to the window indent where Caleb had slept, “When there was a bed within, I’d say… 10 feet?”

“I- Ich, I was not sure you were, how do you say, comfortable?” Caleb shifted where he stood, trying to cover his reasoning.

“Darling, I know you better than some others I have slept in the same bed with..” Molly rolled his eyes, reminiscing on something Caleb couldn’t quite place a finger on. “But, thank you. Other people may not have been as graceful as you have been.”

“It’s no worry, I just have my own..” The human furrowed his brow, thinking and gesturing to find the right words, “Boundaries? Ja, boundaries.”

Mollymauk nodded, understanding. Yasha was the same, It took months of constant talking to get her to open up a bit. If Caleb is the same, it would give the tiefling a little project to chip away at for the foreseeable future. Looking up at Caleb, Molly saw broken pieces held together with a single thread of string that could snap at any second and fall apart onto the ground. What lies behind the mask of Caleb Widogast was something Mollymauk was willing to explore.

“For now, we can sleep as we did last night. Maybe in the future, we can share that space.” Caleb interrupted Molly’s thoughts. He nodded to the wizard, giving him a smile of what he hoped came across as genuine and kind.

In Caleb’s mind, he saw the pupilless eyes of the tiefling and wanted to get lost in them for hours but Caleb knew, Caleb knew, that was never going to happen. The confidence exuding from the man he was meant to call his husband was something Caleb wanted to collect, keep safe in a locked box as to never feel unsafe. Mollymauk could never, in a million years feel any attraction to him. The Killer. The massacre preceded him always, treading lightly ahead, warning any and all who even looked his way of what he had enacted. It was never going to leave him, even if the wish worked how he had hoped, it could never erase the pain he had caused to every single person. Fire and death were so closely associated with his name it could almost be used as a synonym. ‘Widogast.’

-----------------

Sunlight gently caressed the sides of both Fjord and Jester’s forms in the early morning, Jester woke up first, mumbling and yawning. She got up, wiping the dust from her eyes and stretching upwards. Jester narrowed her eyes at the room, not fully recognising the layout well. After a moment her senses kicked in, this wasn’t her room, oh gods - this wasn’t her room. Her breathing quickened until she turned back and saw Fjord, lying peacefully with the light passing over him ever so carefully.The breathing calmed but a ticking worry at the base of her skull began to form, closing her eyes, she tried her best to ignore it, deciding to sneak out as to not cause any worry for Fjord.

Jester stepped lightly until she rested her weight on the wrong wooden floorboards and… creak. Damnit. On instinct, Fjord perked his head up from rest and hazily rubbed his eyes “Jessie? What are you ...” He paused, thinking for a moment before a dark green brushed across his cheeks and the tips of his ears, his eyes widening slightly before he regained his composure.

“Doing here?” he finished his sentence, slowly going over the syllables of the two words.

“Leaving and pretending this didn’t happen?” Jester forced a smile, more of a wince. Fjord nodded slowly and made a similar expression. “Okay byeeeeee” Jester rushed out of the door, closing it behind her.

Fjord took a deep inhale, hands over his face as he still sat on the bed. “Goddamn it.”