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(Created page with "<big><big><big> Previously… </big></big></big> '''Summary''': Irenic runs into an exceedingly unlikely and profoundly vital person from his past....")
 
 
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Irenic didn’t want to come here. There was something telling him to stay far away from this place he once called home and never look back, but here he is and as soon as he steps through the path that leads to the cottage, his intuition is solidified. This safe haven, his home, is nothing but an abandoned shell anymore and even though he was ready to live out the rest of his days as a hermit widower here a couple years ago, he feels like an intruder on these grounds. In contrast to the desolate state of this cottage, the six foot eleven man is the same as before even though there are small details different about him. His skin is no longer tanned from the sun or scarred from decades of battle, nor is it tattooed and there are no crows feet decorating his temples in markings of wisdom. Ashen light brown hair isn’t speckled in grey anymore and his silver hue colored right eye matches the left. Ultimately, the man is young once again, unblemished and unaccomplished while remaining burdened by every memory of his long suffering life. For now, there is no use for his wings of fire, so they are inactive at the moment, making the tall tapered eared man look merely like a mutant elf or something! He takes his left hand out of the pocket of his black slacks and stares down at the emptiness where his wedding band used to rest. After walking up to the berry stained door and tracing his fingers over the iron door knocker in the shape of an owl, the avian decides he cannot bring himself to enter the old house. Instead, long legs meander around and the man finds himself below a tall Rowan tree.  
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Irenic didn’t want to come here. There was something telling him to stay far away from this place he once called home and never look back, but here he is and as soon as he steps through the path that leads to the cottage, his intuition is solidified. This safe haven, his home, is nothing but an abandoned shell anymore and even though he was ready to live out the rest of his days as a hermit widower here a couple years ago, he feels like an intruder on these grounds. In contrast to the desolate state of this cottage, the six foot eight man is the same as before even though there are small details different about him. His skin is no longer tanned from the sun or scarred from decades of battle, nor is it tattooed and there are no crows feet decorating his temples in markings of wisdom. Ashen light brown hair isn’t speckled in grey anymore and his silver hue colored right eye matches the left. Ultimately, the man is young once again, unblemished and unaccomplished while remaining burdened by every memory of his long suffering life. For now, there is no use for his wings of fire, so they are inactive at the moment, making the tall tapered eared man look merely like a mutant elf or something! He takes his left hand out of the pocket of his black slacks and stares down at the emptiness where his wedding band used to rest. After walking up to the berry stained door and tracing his fingers over the iron door knocker in the shape of an owl, the avian decides he cannot bring himself to enter the old house. Instead, long legs meander around and the man finds himself below a tall Rowan tree.  
  
 
Irenic’s heartbeat slows and thumps heavily in his chest as he stands in the spot where he vowed himself to Valrae Baines while he stares down into emptiness, but for him, he’s looking deeply into those mossy green eyes while the fringe to his hair falls lazily in front of his field of vision. The man’s face remains stoic and unreadable even though the sharp jawline tenses here or there in order to hold back the emotion swelling up. Obviously the guy is going through something, it’s a whole mood. Realizing it’s close enough to the day, his lips move as he mumbles a low, “happy birthday,” to his late wife in his low slightly less gruff timbre.
 
Irenic’s heartbeat slows and thumps heavily in his chest as he stands in the spot where he vowed himself to Valrae Baines while he stares down into emptiness, but for him, he’s looking deeply into those mossy green eyes while the fringe to his hair falls lazily in front of his field of vision. The man’s face remains stoic and unreadable even though the sharp jawline tenses here or there in order to hold back the emotion swelling up. Obviously the guy is going through something, it’s a whole mood. Realizing it’s close enough to the day, his lips move as he mumbles a low, “happy birthday,” to his late wife in his low slightly less gruff timbre.

Latest revision as of 16:13, 20 May 2020

Previously…

Summary: Irenic runs into an exceedingly unlikely and profoundly vital person from his past.

Behind a Hemlock Grove

You begin to hear the soft sounds of water again, though you are far beyond the waters of Vibrance. Curiosity urges you forward, towards a particularly dark part of the forest and to a strangely well-tended grove of tall hemlock trees. A small path, one worn through the forest by travel, leads behind the grove and to a wide glade. Wildflowers and sweet grass grow hip-high in some places here. A stallion, easily twenty hands high and black as pitch, grazes lazily, unconcerned with his surroundings. A stream runs along the eastern edge of the glade and a well stands close to it. A stable of stone, the word 'Fury' carved above the wide open doors, rests between the well and the cottage. Standing tall in the west of the glade is a two-story cottage of the same stone. Smoke, white and wispy, floats from the chimney and the pointed top of the curiously crooked tower that seems to be attached towards the back. The wooden arched door is bold, berry stained red with a heavy owl carved doorknocker of iron. The windows are wide, with diamond patterned muntin work and stained glass. A small pebbled pathway winds between flower beds, shrubs, and droopy branched willow trees. It leads behind the home and to a fenced garden. A fat, long-tailed inky black cat can be found resting drowsily on the fence in a patch of golden sun and watching you with heavy-lidded emerald eyes. Here, the heady scent of herbs and flowers in bloom greet you. The garden itself boasts plants of all types, both useful and purely aesthetic, in full and clearly enchanted bloom. The herbs and flowers are arranged in spirals around a bubbling fountain. The carved image of a woman stands in the middle of the water with hands cupped around a crescent moon and raised above her head. Cool and clear water tumbles from her fingertips into the wide fountain's base. The forest presses close behind the garden's fence, the tall trees casting long shadows. The rounded and slightly crooked tower is seen more easily from here. Its odd shape boasts a lower oriel window and a balcony on it's highest floor. Ivy climbs and covers the beautiful stone face.



Irenic didn’t want to come here. There was something telling him to stay far away from this place he once called home and never look back, but here he is and as soon as he steps through the path that leads to the cottage, his intuition is solidified. This safe haven, his home, is nothing but an abandoned shell anymore and even though he was ready to live out the rest of his days as a hermit widower here a couple years ago, he feels like an intruder on these grounds. In contrast to the desolate state of this cottage, the six foot eight man is the same as before even though there are small details different about him. His skin is no longer tanned from the sun or scarred from decades of battle, nor is it tattooed and there are no crows feet decorating his temples in markings of wisdom. Ashen light brown hair isn’t speckled in grey anymore and his silver hue colored right eye matches the left. Ultimately, the man is young once again, unblemished and unaccomplished while remaining burdened by every memory of his long suffering life. For now, there is no use for his wings of fire, so they are inactive at the moment, making the tall tapered eared man look merely like a mutant elf or something! He takes his left hand out of the pocket of his black slacks and stares down at the emptiness where his wedding band used to rest. After walking up to the berry stained door and tracing his fingers over the iron door knocker in the shape of an owl, the avian decides he cannot bring himself to enter the old house. Instead, long legs meander around and the man finds himself below a tall Rowan tree.

Irenic’s heartbeat slows and thumps heavily in his chest as he stands in the spot where he vowed himself to Valrae Baines while he stares down into emptiness, but for him, he’s looking deeply into those mossy green eyes while the fringe to his hair falls lazily in front of his field of vision. The man’s face remains stoic and unreadable even though the sharp jawline tenses here or there in order to hold back the emotion swelling up. Obviously the guy is going through something, it’s a whole mood. Realizing it’s close enough to the day, his lips move as he mumbles a low, “happy birthday,” to his late wife in his low slightly less gruff timbre.


Valrae had returned to the house herself, moving through it as if she were still a ghost. Sometimes, it felt as if she were. Out of place, out of time. She’d long gone through all of the precious things, the ones that were small enough to move with her, and carried them to her home in Cenril. She wouldn’t have left them to collect dust and fall apart as the rest of what was once home. Irenic’s ring she wore on a chain around her neck, some of his clothes she kept in a trunk with the books he’d loved as well. A mug he’d given her, a note he’d left. Little things, golden memories. Even still, she’d return here and run her hands through the dust and walk through her past. At first, she’d been like Irenic was now. She hadn’t been able to step inside the house. It was easier somehow, less painful to meander where they’d made promises and memories in the moonlight. But Valrae had longer to settle into her grief, longer to accept it. And so now, when life was messy (as it always was) or when she felt the loneliness settle deeper than bone, she would go home for a little while. The gardens were kept, unlike the house. Witches still gathered to tie ribbons of remembrance on the old rowan tree or visit the empty grave of the martyred witch. On the boundaries of the garden there were old and fresh graves as well, the bodies of witches who Larket that had been displaced or clung stubbornly to their homes. The garden was now a sacred place of mourning and the ground echoed that sorrow.

As Valrae stepped through the kitchen, movement in the garden caught her eye. The tall figure was familiar and somehow not, it stirred something in her chest that had her stepping out of the back door to follow him. She neared quietly, her feet landing soft on the smooth, round pebbled that marked the garden path. She heard a murmured happy birthday wish and thought perhaps she was dreaming. That voice was so familiar… “Hello?” She called hesitantly. Her own appearance was changed, perhaps more dramatically that Irenic’s. Valrae’s new body wasn’t nearly as thin. Her nose was smaller, her chin sharper and her eyes smaller, though the color remained. Her hair was golden, though not naturally, and she was taller than she had been before. As she stood now, she would hardly be noticeable as the wife he’d once loved. The wife he’d seen die in emerald fire.


Irenic blinks back the threat of tears from the rim of his eyelids and snapps his chin up to look at some strange woman, which made the tightness return in his jawline, but this time it was from anger. The man that looks like he could be in his early twenties takes one step away from his place of memories and defensively stands, “who are you and what is your business here?” He didn’t have to shout or raise his gruff voice to sound commanding and threatening, sounding as if he were a father reprimanding a teen for coming home too late on a school night. Pushing up the sleeves of his black v neck sweater to prepare for a fight or something? He doesn’t even know, but interestingly enough, the tattoos that used to decorate his forearms are gone. If Irenic had a son, this could be him, but the man was never as lucky.

Maybe the house isn’t as abandoned as he thought now that he takes in the shape of the gardens, “do you live here?” His voice softens a bit as if to apologize for his initial defensive reaction and he even takes a deep breath to calm himself because he started to feel a familiar burn trailing down his spine where his wings come out. Call it lazy, but he really doesn’t feel like finding another shirt. Shaking his head after running his hands down his face in attempts to mask his conflicting emotions, “look, I’m sorry if I disturbed your, uh... new home. I was just leaving,” he said short and coldly with one last glance at the tree before he begins to make his way out of the gardens. In doing so, the wind carries Irenic’s scent to Valrae, whatever her favorite scent happens to be now because of that odd avian trait.


Valrae flinches when Irenic rounds on her but not from his tone. He was hers and not. The wings were gone, both the feathered and the metal, and he was… Younger? The lines that grew when he’d laughed or smiled, the ones that had given the corner of his bi-colored eyes distinction, those were gone. As were the streaks of silver in his hair, the signs of age and the outward story of his life. She was still gaping at him, lips parted and emerald eyes wide, when he pushed his sleeves back to reveal the unmarked skin there. She still hadn’t answered him. He might have thought her daft by now as she took him in, unblinking. Finally, clumsy words fell from her lips, “I.. Is it really you?” Could it be? Stranger things have happened, right? Who was Valrae herself if not a woman reborn. She’d been so sure Irenic was gone, that he’d died either with her or later when she had been trapped in the afterlife. She questioned that now... And yet, he was so changed.

There were too many thoughts, too many emotions filling her chest. They threatened to spill over in her eyes, formed something cold and hard in her throat that she couldn’t seem to speak around. Before she can collect herself Irenic turns to leave and panic rises above the noise in her head. She stumbles forward, the wind bringing the scent of chamomile tea and the ocean to her, and calls out. “This isn’t my home,” She finally manages. “Not anymore, anyway,” The witch follows after the avian, “Irenic? Please wait.”


Irenic hesitates in his steps when she asks if it’s really him, but shakes off the weird question from a woman he’s never met. This isn’t like the time he lost his memories, right?! He’s pretty sure his memories are still intact, no matter how dreadful. He freezes when she calls out his name and chills run down his spine, “h- Lips tighten in a thin line before he turns himself on his heel and steps closer and closer to this woman. Who is this? One of Valrae’s friends? He thought many of the witches had been gone from what he gathered in public boards and some concentration camp looking place. “How do you know my name? Who are you? What do you want from me?” Is it not enough that he has to continue suffering his life in Lithrydel without his wife. If she continues to just stare up at him like a wide mouth bass, his voice does raise a lack of control over his newest ability. It’s then he notices the roots at the woman’s hair, is she really trying to look like Valrae!?

That does it, he can't hold back this time, the blinding wings of fire bursts out from the man’s back, setting his shirt ablaze as it turns to ash without leaving a mark on the avian's impeccable skin. Every muscle is taught with anger, “I am supposed to be dead, so I promise you that I’ve got no patience for these games.” The blazing wings arch out and reflect in the silver of Irenic’s eyes, by now he’s towering over the woman, “WELL!?”


Valrae doesn’t flinch this time, not when he rounds on her again or when his wings of fire bloom to life and devour the shirt on his back. The tang of smoke curls toward her and a fleeting moment of terror passes through the depths of her forest shadow eyes, a phantom reflex that she hadn’t quite trained herself from just yet. Her lips twitch but she doesn’t move, even as Irenic draws himself up to tower above her head. “Supposed to be dead?” Voice far away, the witch’s hand moves slowly to touch the avian’s arm. She stops herself short. “Irenic, I’m… It’s Valrae. I’m Valrae.” Something delicate in her chest stirred painfully. She’d put him to rest. Had he done the same for her? Memories threatened to drown her now, of sun drenched afternoons and firelight kisses. On arguments, of waking up alone, of leaving for Larket that final night without knowing it would be the last time she’d ever touch her husband as a free woman.

Slowly, with shaking hands, Valrae pulled the delicate chain that hung around her neck until it revealed the wedding bands they had both worn. She pulled them over her head and offered them out to Irenic, face hopeful and filled with a storm of nameless emotion. “I thought you were dead…” Her voice was barely a whisper. “I had a dream and you were… You were with me but not. And I hadn’t felt you through our bond in so long…” Suddenly, the words were rushing out faster than she could control them, an unstoppable waterfall of explanation. “When I was dead I came back. I came here and you were gone. Maude, she was here. Meri came too but Maude left with her then and I was alone. No one could see me. I couldn’t find you. And when they brought me back,” Her breath hitched, “I came back again. And again. And then I didn’t for a long time.”


Irenic’s throat lets out a low sigh that sounds like a displeased grunt as the inferno of his wings roar on behind him in his anger, but his piercing silver hues continue to glare down at the woman. He’s quiet for the longest minute after snatching their rings from this person, but when he finally speaks, his low gruff timbre sounds exhausted and old like it used to, “is this some sort of sick joke?” Boldly grasping the woman by her upper arms, gripping a little tightly and then giving this psycho a firm shake, “is the tragedy of a grieving husband amusing to you?! You think you can come in here, read a few books and DARE imitate my Valrae!? What’s wrong with you?” As he’s staring down into those unsettling mossy green eyes as his harsh words bark down at her, their faces mere inches from each other and his jawline clenches when tears threaten once more.

The only thing is, he cannot get past those eyes and it clicks. How far fetched could it be? Irenic somehow came back to life, although much younger - could his love have been through a similar ordeal?! There was one foolproof way that he could find this imposter out, “you can’t.” He starts in a studdery frustration, “you jus-just, just-“ his lips shape into a thin line in aggravation, but in the span of a heartbeat his lips had closed in around her own. If it really was her then he’d know by a simple kiss. It was a heated lock, as if he’d thought of nothing but his Valrae the last two years while being locked away in prison. His arms automatically slip around the woman’s waist, fingertips gently pressing into her upper back in desire, his body curved around her own and his nose greedily inhales her scent before softly exhaling on her cheek.

In this torrid moment, his soul retraces it’s steps to their old bond and it was like saying hello to a dear old friend, but just as quickly as it happened, the feeling flutters away. Slowly, the wings dwindle down until they are gone from his back and he regrettably untangles himself from her slowly in the awkward silence to pick up the rings he’d dropped during their exchange. Stillness rests for far too long between them again, “I watched you burn and the life of you snuffed out. Through our bond, I felt every bit of it and my reason to live was also snuffed out, even though I continued to take care of our home and dear Maude. I became a shell of a man, assumed our bond was shattered when you died and when Island Vere authorities came to arrest who they knew as Edlin Corier for my long list of crimes committed against the crown, I gave in all too easily. Relieved to have this tragedy after tragedy of a life to be over and live out my sentence. I think I was held in prison for two years before my execution and the last thing I remember is my neck being sliced through cleanly by guillotine, effectively severing my head from my shoulders, but then I woke up in f#<%in’ Larket…. I really hate Larket.” All of this stated in a matter of fact way as if he was simply discussing the weather.

Now his gaze is trained on Valrae, in wait because other than her physical appearance, she’s not the same Valrae, he could feel it in that short moment when his soul couldn't truly connect with her own again.


Valrae flinched then, as Irenic shook her and fought against the idea that it could really be her, here and in the flesh. She could understand, truly. She'd just wrested with seeing him again, standing in the garden over her empty grave. But he wasn't so changed. Younger, maybe, but the witch stood in a body not her own and a lifetime removed from the love they'd shared here. And she felt weak and small as the tears welled and slipped over her cheeks. She didn't argue with him, only tilted her face to him and let the emotions work through him. It felt right, fitting, when he finally brought his lips to her own. Had she not wanted to do the same?

She yielded to him softly, slipping easily into his arms. It was familiar and not, reaffirming and bittersweet. The witch rose up to the tips of her toes and brushed her fingers through the hair that rested near the base of his spine. It was reflex, muscle memory, and bone deep desire. The bond they'd once shared brought smoke and fire to her lungs and threatened to burn her heart to ash. When he slipped away from her, again, Valrae was painfully aware of the loneliness that sat like a stone in her chest. She watched him retrieve the fallen rings quietly, swiping at the tears below her eyes in a vain attempt to save the makeup that now ran down her cheeks. She'd always been a messy crier. Irenic spoke then, finally believing, and told her of what had come to pass for him after her death. She struggled with it and the emotion danced over her face unbridled. "I-" What could she say? "I'm so sorry..." Sorry that she died. Sorry that he'd gone through every agonizing moment with her. Sorry that she'd not found him sooner. Sorry she'd even gone to Larket that night instead of staying home, with him and the life they'd built. She struggled with it for a moment, the tension only momentarily broke as she laughed through tears and nodded along. "I hate Larket too," But not here. Not home. She didn't say the quiet part out loud but her face told it.

The silence spread between them again and Valrae felt guilt writhing in her belly. The watchful look the avian gave her made her heart twist painfully. "I... I thought you were gone and I just... I kept going. There were battles, witch hunters. I thought I fell in love again," Admitting that to him was painful and uncomfortable so she looked away. "I was a ghost and things were confusing, I thought... I don't know if it was the magic he'd held, the skull, and the hope of life or if I was just lonely?" She looked at him again now. "I don't know. You were gone and I was alone." The witch took a small step back, wrapping her arms around herself. "I'm not who I was," But he'd already known that, hadn't he?


Irenic hurts hearing this, not visibly and definitely not for his own accord. He hurts because she was alone and because she ’thought’ she fell in love again? As in, past tense… Did it not work out? And if so, does that mean whatever person she had ended up with didn’t cherish her like the powerful goddess that she obviously IS!? The avian’s fists clench and he could feel the temper rising in the radiating heat along his spine as he voices his assumption, “they are a fool to have let you down and disappoint you.” The man can feel that there is more to her story which will all come out in due time, but right now she just needs a friend, someone to lean on… So, no matter how much it hurts him, he knows he’d just have to figuratively step aside and learn about this woman again. “I see,” he said as the gruff timbre softens and he makes his way around her to take a seat on the steps of their old back porch. His elbows rest on his knees and silence rests for quite some time between them as he looks up at the Valrae who isn’t really Valrae anymore.

“Rae…” he starts while fiddling with those rings in the palm of his hand, “no need to apologize, I’m quite happy you’re alive - again. I don’t know how to feel about my own predicament, but it does seem we are destined to be continuously pulled apart by tragedy. With you being in jail, me getting cursed, witches being hunted and then you’re in jail again. I watched as you were burned alive and then I was hauled off to jail while you came back to life. Now, I also come back to life through a fire that destroyed the very platform where they burn witches smack dab in the middle of f@%#ing Larket.” It’s like the worst version of Ross and Rachel on Friends. “I’ll always care for you and hope for your happiness,” one of his weaknesses, “but… I don’t know.” He sighs heavily while placing those rings on the step he’s sitting on.

“You know I will always help you fight whatever battles have found their way to you, no matter our predicament,” it’s a genuine sentiment. He will fight for her happiness even if it doesn’t end up involving him, “I just need a little time with this I think. Okay?” He forces a grin and stands back up, “I’m sorry, too,” if that may not be something she wanted to hear. If maybe he didn’t get all jealous and storm off like most men would have, or maybe just because he went to jail. “I’ll see ya,” he nods a couple times and makes his way around her again to head back the way he came. Not even alive for more than a few days and he already needs a stiff drink… or ten.


Continue…