Magnus doesn’t move for an entire hour. He doesn’t need to anymore.
All the aches—his bad left knee, his left elbow, his lower back that he always throws out—are suddenly gone. He doesn’t need to shift as he’s sitting to relieve those small, innocuous pains. Fuck, he doesn’t even need to breathe. He doesn’t need to eat. He doesn’t need to sleep.
He isn’t living anymore.
Magnus isn’t even alive anymore and all he is doing is sitting by a fire, trapped, waiting for morning to break so they can get back on their way to wherever the fuck the Red Robe was taking him.
What were those ten years that he sacrificed now? Do souls even age?
Can he even die?
For the first time in however long, he shifts, he clenches his fist as a sort of unreasonable fury waves through him. Yes, he was glad to be back—he had to finish whatever needed to be done here and he needed to protect Merle and Taako—but an ugly part of him begged for it to be just done. Years, he had begged to be done so he could slip away, so he could see Julia again. He hadn’t planned to live that long, he had admitted that, and now for that agency to be taken away.
It was not even a sacrifice or a part of their game. Just one last bitter note to the end, revenge for killing what had been closest to her.
Magnus cannot feel anymore and he wonders if that’s some ironic part of the whole thing. Just when he had been ready to burn and live and feel again, this.
Taako’s ears twitch his direction and he belatedly realizes that he had been clicking his fingers together as he clenched his fist. Same as Magnus, Taako had been perched in one of the old chairs that he had carved the last time they had been through here, nearly a year ago—Merle had immediately passed out on the ground near the fire, not even bothering to roll out a sleeping mat.
That had left Magnus and Taako awkwardly standing there until they both took their positions, Magnus offering first watch like usual—and unlike usual, Taako had looked like he wanted to actually challenge him for once, but had just instead sank into the chair. Now, once again, Taako peaks his eyes open and watches Magnus.
There is no way to tell if he is awake or not. He does not breath, he does not move—for fuck’s sake, he could be dead, his soul fleeing this cursed mannequin, for all Taako could tell.
His ears flatten against his head and he shifts in the chair, dragging the blankets with him, “Maggy, you awake?”
Magnus could fake it, he could so easily fake it now, “Yeah, don’t know if I can sleep anymore.”
There’s a pause. “Oh… fuck. Well, guess that makes two. I don’t really sleep either.”
Sure, elves don’t sleep but also Magnus isn’t sure what he would call what Taako does at night meditation.
He doesn’t respond and Taako shifts again until he sighs and gets up, taking all of his blankets with him. He plops down in front of Magnus as just a mass of blankets with some elf in there somewhere and leans against him. At least, he sees that Taako leans against him, but Magnus cannot feel the warmth coming off from him.
He blisters again—touch was not something that Magnus could live without, if one could consider this living.
He wants to feel, he needs to feel, and this sort of deprivation where he can only see and hear is jarring.
In a last desperate effort, Magnus reaches out and tries to touch Taako’s hair—hair that isn’t quite as shiny or bright anymore and the curls are not as perfectly coiled—he remembers faintly the tug of braiding hair, or at least attempting to braid Taako’s hair before his hand would get swatted away.
His ears flick in irritation, but Taako doesn’t stop him.
It’s weird. He should be able to feel the strands parting and some part of him feels like he can feel the pull—maybe not the touch but at least the pressure, the tug. He chases that phantom touch and tugs a bit harder only for his wrist to get restrained by Taako’s hand. “Nu-uh, you just lost hair rights, bubba,” he hisses, turning his head to look at Magnus.
It has to be jarring. To see a mannequin and not Magnus. Sure, Magnus is in his own personal brand of hell that Wonderland could have only dreamed up, but his companions also had to still be suffering.
There’s shock in Taako’s eyes, at the blank face that returns his look. “Somethin’ there?” he jokes swiping at his face with his free hand that Taako isn’t holding.
The only thing that lets him know that Taako is gripping him tighter is the fact that Taako’s knuckles have gone white. His face scrunches up, “You can’t feel anything.”
It’s a statement. Not a question in the slightest. “No,” and Magnus still answers.
Taako jolts up just like he had done before, his hand still tightly clasped around one wooden wrist. Twisting and turning in his blankets until he’s facing Magnus. “What the fuck,” he mutters and tugs at his arm. “What the fuck,” he repeats.
“Hey, Taako, you okay?” he mumbles out and puts out a hand to steady the now shaking elf.
Taako jolts out of his hold and then swears again, letting go of his wrist in favor of rubbing at his should where Magnus had grabbed him until his fingers pluck something off of him—a splinter. “Fuck,” Taako mutters, flicking it off somewhere.
There is a moment, where neither of them say anything. Taako just breathes and Magnus waits for him to calm down after whatever had gotten him riled up. Without saying anything, Taako touches his hand again.
It’s different this time.
Unlike before when he had gripped it, a zone almost traveled up his arm as a spell slowly started to transform his forearm.
It… It looks like his old arm, no doubt. He recognizes the bronzed tone and the scars might be slightly off but that is his arm. He touches it with his other hand, the still wooden one, and… he can feel it. It is only a faint touch, not as prominent as before but he can feel.
“I can feel it,” he stammers out, realizing that Taako was probably looking for some kind of confirmation.
And as quick as the spell was there, it is gone. Left is just his empty, wooden hand.
An almost sheepish look manifests itself on Taako’s face as he turns to look up at him, “Sorry, Maggy, only got so many spell slots, and turing wood into flesh is a real kicker.”
He nods numbly, and then lets out a little shocked laugh as he thinks of Taako using two spell slots a day for them both to just look like themselves.
Magnus knows he’d do it, though. Magnus might have been the one to lose his body but it seems to be affecting Taako almost as adversely for whatever reason. Maybe, he’d ask him, one day, if they got to that, but for now, Magnus will let him live without having to explain.
“Thanks,” he mutters, flexing his hand because he can almost feel it—a phantom bit of warmth at the very tips of his fingers where Taako had held his hand.
“No problem, my dude. It’s a temp fix, but we’ll get you your body back,” Taako promises.