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The Stranger with the Fa(M)iliar Face (Jabba x Firesblood)

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Offline Jabbathejack

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Idryius' eyes fluttered open as he groaned softly. He was in a small, dark room, lit up by a few candles here and there. His stomach throbbed dimly, but it was a familiar pain, much like this room seemed oddly familiar, comforting.

He tried to get up, but he could not, the pain in his belly causing him to gasp softly.

"Lie still, friend."

A figure came into view, leaning over him. He was a young man, his blond hair tied back away from his face.

"Whoever did this to you nearly finished you off."

The young man was sat on a stool, crushing something with a pestle and mortar, his wrist moving in a steady rhythmn.

"Nearly."

He smiled, his blue eyes lighting up with a mischievous grin.

"Who are you?" Idryius managed to finally speak, his voice no more than a gasp; he was so cold.

"Tsarin." The young man smiled, reaching out with a pale hand to mop his brow, yet his touch was as cold as ice itself.

***

Idryius woke with a jerk, his teeth chattering with the cold. The thin blanket that had been covering him had fallen away, but he could do nothing to pull it back into place.

He was bound tightly, his wrists secured behind his back and his feet firmly lashed together. He could roll this way and that, but that was the full extent of his movement.

The wound in his gut was sharp, aggravated by the intense cold. It was similar to the one that he had taken, all those years ago, but this time it had been self inflicted. He had refused all forms of healing; they'd even had to force feed him a healing potion just to get him to survive.

You'll die of cold.

Idryius tried to blot out the voice in his head, but it was incessant, pleading at him for life, for a chance to rule their body once again.

Idryius shifted his body once again, setting his jaw so that he wouldn't shiver quite so much; he did not want to draw attention to his situation.

His crude stitches felt strained beneath his already blood stained clothes, making him wonder if the journey had torn them open once more. He had spent the majority of the last two days face down, lying over the saddle of a pack horse as they had climbed further and further up into the mountains. The journey had been excruciating, but Idryius had barely made a sound.

A few feet away, he could see the small group of figures, lying peacefully by the fire, their backs to him. Idryius understood why they would not want to see him. He was the man who looked like their son, but was not. He was the man who had taken over their son and was unable to give him back. He was their enemy.

Please. You have to say something. They can help.

No. Idryius thought to himself. He did not.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2019, 04:39:49 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Firesblood

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The mountainous landscape had been drained of color, replaced by painted silver and smudges of black.  Only the circle of the camp seemed untouched by the night’s muted affect, alive with the warm colors thrown by crackling flames.  Every so often, the pack leader Victor rose a few inches from his furs to add wood to the fire, but always slid promptly back into sleep the moment after. 

 His mate Lora had the watch, and she hovered on the periphery of the camp, pacing circles into the snow as the night droned on in slow motion. It had become clear within the first two weeks of travel that the pale woman did not sleep, and the fact that no one ever attempted to urge her to do so spoke of habitual restlessness rather than something newly developed.  She took the night watch always, sharp black eyes finding every movement. 

Lora’s eyes drew often to Idryius, though the raw pain of seeing the body of her son and the stranger who lived behind his eyes now always caught up with her and forced her gaze away.  The pack largely avoided speaking with him, carting him along the steep trek into the high mountain range like a sack of potatoes rather than a person.  Victor and Lora still tried, still clung to a hope that their Sam was still in there and that Idryius would come around, but there was never any real progress in that direction.  The stranger in their son’s body hated them, and wanted only to die. 

As the icy air began leaching into Idryius, the weight of warm furs enveloped him, seeping warmth immediately into his bones.  Lora’s circle had brought her round to him.  She wasn’t sure how long he had been uncovered, but she sensed that the blanket he had been provided with would not be enough to make a difference even if she placed it on him.  Instead, she shrugged out of the white wolf fur cloak that shrouded her and settled it around him with care.  She paused then, feeling like she wanted to say something to him, but Idryius’s response was always the same; sullen, if he spoke at all.  She decided that the action would have to be enough.  Without a word, she returned to her circling, appearing a third of the size she had been before in just the form-fitting leather armor she wore.  The cold didn’t really bother her either, it seemed.   

As the horizon began to lighten, the travelers began to wake and rise.  Victor was the first.  He gave Lora a kiss of greeting and went off into the trees to relieve himself and collect water from an icy brook for morning tea.  Before long, all were awake and speaking in hushed tones with one another, getting their fill of the porridge that had been cooked up for breakfast. 

Victor brought over a bowl of porridge and a mug of tea for Idryius, helping him to sit up before settling down just next to him.  He offered the tea first, silent as always.  He was the quiet sort, one who preferred action over words in almost every situation.  The Imperial was the only one who didn’t wear his emotions on his sleeve when it came to the Stranger inhabiting his son’s body, who had not faltered in treating him as though he were still all Sam, rather than an invading enemy. 

“Need to dress your wounds today,” Victor broke the silence, though his voice barely rose above a whisper.  “Would you like something for the pain today?”


Offline Jabbathejack

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Idryius tensed as the woman approached him, watching her silently. He was surprised that she chose to cover him with her own cloak, but he knew that she would not want to let him die, not when the chance of saving her son would die with him. Idryius remained silent; he could not thank her for doing this, prolonging his agony.

As she walked away, he felt the warmth seep into his body, causing more than a little discomfort at the sudden temperature change, his limbs almost numb with being bound for so long.

His stomach lurched with a sharp pang of hunger and Idryius realised it had been quite some time since he had last eaten. He had refused all but a couple of sips of water since Tsarin's death, turning his head away from all offerings.

Idryius' life had not always been easy; he had gone without food before, for much longer than this had been. Yet for some reason, this time was different; the sharp pangs of hunger seemed to strike him much harder than usual.

Even once his body had warmed up, the pain in his stomach refused to abate and Idryius spent the rest of the night in grim silence.

Idryius was still awake when dawn broke and he began to hear the sounds of his captors stirring softly. The hunger returned with a vengeance as he realised he could smell them cooking, knowing without having to look that it was porridge.

Idryius grunted as the man pulled him up into a sitting position, grimacing as the wound in his stomach was aggravated. Idryius could smell the blood. It must have clotted during the night, his ragged and dirty shirt stuck to the wound.

He turned his head away from the offered cup, refusing to drink.
"No." The answer was for both the tea and the offer for any pain relief, but he doubted that his captor would pay him any heed. Why bother to ask such a question? They would simply force feed him the healing potions, keeping him alive for as long as possible.


Offline Firesblood

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Victor gave only the barest of nods, but remained next to him all the same.  He set the wooden bowl of porridge nearby, the metal mug of tea he had brought as well.  In stark contrast to his mate, Victor never tried to force the issue of food or medicine, never tried to argue or throw his weight around.  He took things in stride and adjusted as he needed.  He asked permission, rather than simply going about things. 

The leader of the pack watched his people shuffle about, finishing their breakfast before getting to work on packing in their camp.  Lor directed the men, her voice ringing with authority in the wintry morning.  He smiled slightly to himself as he watched her, love evident in his green eyes.  Her belly was growing rounder with each passing day, visible confirmation to match the scent that lingered around her.  Pulling himself from his reverie, he looked at Idryius and heaved a silent sigh.  "Would you let me see to your wound at least?  You know that if I don't, she will, and she'll bring half the pack to hold you down...it's simpler if you just allow me to do it without a fight, aye?"

There was a touch of hope in his voice, but Idryius had been unrelenting in his refusal of help thus far.  They were at a loss of what to do; nothing they said or did ever appealed to his agreeable side.  Victor could say that he would probably be the same were their rolls reversed and Lor had been killed rather than Tsarin.  It made it harder in a way, to understand where Idryius was coming from.  A life without Lor would hardly be a life worth living at all, but how to convince Idryius that a life without Tsarin was worth living?  Victor didn't know. 


Offline Jabbathejack

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Victor was right, as much as Idryius hated to admit it. If he refused, then he would be held down and the wound would be treated all the same. He scowled; part of him wanted to resist, to feel something, anything at all even if it was the pain of the soiled shirt being ripped from the wound.

In the end, he relented, feeling too drained to put up the fight that was necessary.

"See to it." He growled. "Get it done with and leave me be."


Offline Firesblood

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Victor said nothing.  There was no triumph in his eyes, no smile of gladness or surprise when Idryius agreed.  Instead, Victor rose and retrieved the appropriate supplies and brought them back, setting them aside while he went after some of the water they had melted from the snow.  Returning, he set to work dressing the grievous stomach wound that Idryius had taken before, wincing slightly at the amount of blood that had spread across the bandages in the night.  He removed the soiled bandages carefully and dug a couple of bottles from the parcel, followed by a bundle of fresh linen to rebind him.  He cleaned the wound and the area around it deftly, spreading a quarter of the contents of the bottle over the deep gash.  After several seconds, a numbness spread around the wound and Victor resewed the stitches that had broken.  The second bottle remained untouched until the fresh bandages had been applied, at which point Victor unstopped the top and applied the liquid within to the less serious injuries that Idryius had. 

All said the process took ten minutes, and at the end Victor left him alone as he had asked, gathering the cup of tea and the porridge along with the parcel of medicines he had brought over.

The pack was ready to move in within an hour, and two of the younger ones lashing Idryius into the saddle of one of their spare horses for the journey, which would be led by one of them at Victor's demand.  Certainly it was better than being slung across a saddle like a dead animal, but they remained close and watchful all the same, making sure that he couldn't escape even if he tried.   


Offline Jabbathejack

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Idryius watched the man work on him, but true to his word, he made no complaint, uttering no sound, even when the wound would be most painful. As Victor left him, he let his head fall back against the snow, feeling the pain melting away, even if it was a temporary lack of feeling.

To his surprise, when they came to get him, he was not thrown over the saddle like a sack of spuds, but allowed to ride almost normally, albeit tied to the saddle and allowed no control over the beast himself. It was as if they were giving him a reward of sorts for his complicit behaviour.

Perhaps if he had been a better rider, he would have been able to use his legs to move the horse, but being led by one of his captors, he knew he was not strong enough to even bother trying.

They travelled for most of the day, stopping just to feed and, as before, Idryius refused all food and water. Waiting in silence for when they would be ready to continue.

When the sun began to dip beneath the horizon, they called a halt and made ready for camp again. Idryius, once he was released from the saddle, settled down into a sitting position, watching the others work to set up the camp.

We'll probably reach home tomorrow. If the weather holds.

Yet what he would face when they arrived, he had no idea and the voice in his head was not able to tell him, other than meaningless platitudes.

Idryius frowned, was that a shadow up on the ridge? All of their group were present, building their camp. Yet as he stared up into the shadows, the movement came again and this time, Idryius was sure, they were being watched.

Slowly and painfully, Idryius climbed to his feet. He was aware that his movement would draw the gaze of the others, but he remained silent; if they were to be attacked, then he would not be slaughtered lying down.


Offline Firesblood

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"He's going to die before we reach home," Lor said softly, an edge to her voice that Victor liked not at all.  She glanced at their prisoner, her mouth twisting faintly in displeasure.  "The body can only go without for so long.  He'll take nothing, not even water.  This cannot go on, Victor.  We cannot lose our son before we have had the chance to save him, and that selfish son of a bitch will rejoice in death."

"The man has lost his partner, Loraene, and found himself in the company of people who have imprisoned him.  Speaking for myself, I can understand how a person could wish for death after losing everything that holds him to life," Victor replied, drinking from his cup.  Lor turned his gaze to her mate, her dark eyes narrowing.

"While I appreciate your empathy, he is more than welcome to die so long as he does not take Samuel with him.  How I wish I could just...just tear him apart with my bare hands!  Curse his lover!  I wish him eternal torment in the worst realm of Oblivion for what he has done, and I will take great pleasure in sending that imposter to his precious Tsarin there."

"Curse all you wish, wife," Victor said, his own tone growing stern, "But it changes nothing."

"We'll have to force feed him again.  I will not lose my son, Victor."

Victor sighed, glancing in Idryius' direction with a small frown.  "He allowed me to see to his wounds this morning.  He has not done that before.  Perhaps he will change his mind about nourishment as well."

Lor scoffed, shaking her head emphatically.  "Your faith is misplaced."

Victor treated her to a dry smile.  "Yes, they said that about you as well when we first met, yet here we are.  Leave him be, Lor.  Things will work out as they are meant to, no matter the outcome."

Lor fell silent, despite looking as though she had plenty enough to add.  Victor rose before she had the chance, intending to check on Idryius and see if he had a need to relieve himself.  However, as he did, Victor saw Idryius rise, his eyes fixed somewhere behind him.  He paused and glanced over his shoulder, inhaling the scent of the wind even as his eyes caught sight of shadows bearing in slowly towards the camp.

"On your guard!" Victor growled loudly, not taking his eyes from the potential attackers.  Immediately, those in the camp were on their feet and going for weapons, moving into a defensive formation around the camp.  Victor glanced back at Idryius as he drew his sword, debating something.  He seemed to come to a decision in short order.  Sinking his sword into the snow, he withdrew one of his daggers and cut through Idryius' bonds, then pointed out one of the spare weapons leaning against a nearby tree.  He said nothing as he took up his sword, leaving Idryius the choice to defend himself and fight, or not.  He had serious doubts as to whether the man could do much of anything at all without having anything to eat or drink in so long, but he refused to leave him bound and defenseless during an attack.  It lacked honor.         


Offline Jabbathejack

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Idryius tensed as his captor approached, blade in hand, yet to his surprise, he was cut free. For a moment, he simply stared back at him, lost for words. Then as an arrow cut through the air beside him, he ducked and ran towards the tree, taking one of the spare swords.

Instinctively, he took the sword into his left hand, yet anyone who had fought beside Samuel would have been surprised at this, for he was right handed.

Idryius found cover, crouching by one of the tents in their camp, waiting. The shadowy figures made their way down the ridge, running from cover to cover in a way that suggested some training. Idryius counted six of them, perhaps there were more.

In a moment, the bandits had closed on them, screaming out as they attacked. In that moment, the thought of surrender or of allowing himself to be killed never even occurred to him.

As one of the bandits neared him, a Khajit wearing light hide armour, Idryius broke his cover and met the attack with a clash of steel. His years of sword training took over and he used the attacker's momentum against him, giving way beneath the strike in a way that enabled him to turn his own blade upwards, driving it into the weak part of the Khajit's armour beneath his armpit. The Khajit's eyes widened in surprise and Idryius gave a cry of effort as he dragged his blade out of the bandit's body.

He staggered away from the dying bandit, feeling a burning sensation in his side and he knew that his fresh stitches had been torn with the effort. Breathing hard, Idryius held his borrowed blade out, ready for any other attacker to approach.


Offline Firesblood

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The bandits rushed into the camp like a wave and Victor and his pack met them in battle.  Despite their supernatural gifts, none shifted to their forms just yet; rather, they met them with sword, hammer, and axe.  One scaled a tree and, nestled within the strong boughs, shot at targets from above where he was safe from the melee.  Lor crushed the head of one of the bandits with a heavy blow from her warhammer, sending pieces of his skull and brains raining on the fellows behind him.  For his part, Victor remained near Idryius, ever watchful and cautious.  There was no way that Idryius could fend off too many assailants, with his injury and the physical weaknesses that came from lack of food and water.  Watchful yes, but he also kept a decent distance between them, running interference between the imposter within his son's body and anyone else who thought to take him on. 

They were outnumbered, but the company that Victor and Lor kept were up to the task.  They fought like seasoned warriors all, and when several more broke through the trees to join the other six that had led the initial attack, two of them cast aside their blades and transformed, scraps of leather and cloth shredding and puddling on the ground.  Claws rent through armor and down to flesh and bone as easily as a blade through parchment.  Throats gave way to savage teeth, sending arterial spray across all within the immediate vicinity.  More horrifying was the way the Wolves bent over their victims and fed their desire for flesh, the bloodlust a primal haze that banished all coherent thought of civilized combat.

As another bandit broke through the trees, Victor moved quickly, sliding easily between the assailant and Idryius with enough time to block the vicious blow that had been intended for the injured man's back.  With a roar, Victor dealt a swing that would have taken the man's head from his shoulders, advancing on him even as he was scrambling to get away.  On the other side of the camp, one of their pack met his end, and then a second as the bandits persisted. 

With a cry of rage, Lor shifted, the blood of her victims striking a crimson contrast on her snowy pelt as she launched herself after the bandits who had won over her men.   


Offline Jabbathejack

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Idryius held his blade in one hand, his right clutching at his side for support. An animalistic growl sounded across the camp and Idryius turned, his eyes widening as he saw a werewolf spring at one of the bandits. As he stared, another of his captors changed, their flesh rippling as it reformed into the wolf.

In his shock, he did not hear the approach of the bandit behind him. He wheeled as Victor struck out, realising that the bandit's attack would most likely have ended him.

With another of the werewolves shifting their form, the bandits that were still alive turned and ran. The slowest of them was caught and torn apart by the wolf's claws.

Why was he so surprised? Idryius shook his head, grimacing to himself. He knew that he had been placed inside the body of a werewolf, that had been one of the reasons that Tsarin had chosen him, so that he would survive the insertion of his consciousness. It made sense that his family were werewolves as well.

Victor, the only one of them who had not shifted his form, stood before him and Idryius knew that he would probably be about to take the blade from him, ready to bind him for the rest of the night. Saving him the trouble, Idryius dropped the blade onto the snow.


Offline Firesblood

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As the bandits ran, those who were left of Lor and Victor's company made chase.  They disappeared into the trees after the running, fearful men, sending howls at their backs to let them know that the pack was not far behind.  Lor remained, as did Victor.  The woman shuddered visibly, and her form began to change back to that of a human, bones popping and skin rippling while a low growl of pain emitted from her chest.  The leathers she had been wearing destroyed, she stood nude near the fire as the transformation ended before limping after her bag with a scowl on her face.  Victor watched for a moment, eyes skimming her form to verify that she had taken no serious injuries before he turned back to Idryius.  A man's scream pierced the night in the distance; they had caught one. 

While Lor dressed and saw to the two men of theirs that had fallen, Victor stepped towards Idryius, certain that the man would fall over at any second.  Instead, Idryius dropped the sword he had been holding--left handed, Victor noticed.  The Imperial hardly gave the blade a second glance, giving Idryius the once over as he had his wife.  He winced, seeing the blood springing freely from his healing wound.  "You held your own well, despite the state you're in."

Grabbing his bag with the medic supplies tucked inside, he approached Idryius as he normally would have, still leaving the sword in the snow near the man's feet.  He pulled out the bandages once more, the silk thread for stitching, and finally a small stoppered bottle with a faintly glowing red liquid inside.  He set the bottle within Idryius's reach; there was no need to ask or tell him what it was.  He had been trying to convince Idryius to take the potion of healing since the beginning.  The man would take it, or not, as he chose.  "You fight with your left hand.  That's not a common thing.  I hear it's more difficult to fight with the left than it is with the right," Victor said conversationally. 

On the other side of the fire, Lor crouched over the two dead men, muttering something under her breath whilst she drew a sigil upon each of their foreheads with blood from a cut she had opened in her hand.  After they had been marked, she drew the same sigil on her own forehead and then became utterly still, dark eyes closed and features lax while she focused on whatever it was she was focusing on.  When it seemed that an entire age had passed without her moving, she shifted and began chanting words that were guttural and sharp to the ear, almost painful to listen to.  Victor ignored her, his features betraying a subtle tightness as he set out to care for Idryius' wounds.  "May I?"       


Offline Jabbathejack

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Idryius was stunned, both physically and mentally, wary as he watched one of the werewolves return to their human form, revealing Loraene.

Victor was talking to him and with an effort, Idryius dragged his attention back to him.

He shook his head.
"No, its just..." Idryius faded out, not bothering to finish the sentence. What did he care what hand he held a blade with?

By giving into his instinct to fight, Idryius knew that he had missed a chance to end his life. He had failed Tsarin and himself along with him. Now that he had had a chance to think about what had happened, the feeling of failure was threatening to crush him.

"Do what you will." Idryius' voice hardened, forcing back his emotions harshly. "I am no match for you. Not like this."
« Last Edit: October 24, 2019, 03:39:00 PM by Jabbathejack »


Offline Firesblood

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The Imperial accepted Idryius' answer in silence and made to restitch the dire wound stretching across the man's belly.  From across the camp where Lor stood over the two bodies, an eerie green glow began to emit from the targets of whatever dark words she was speaking.  Shadows danced on the periphery, and the marks she had drawn upon their foreheads flashed like fire before disappearing entirely.  Darkness weighed in the camp like a void, nearly killing the fire at the center.  Then, the dead men opened their eyes and sat up, and the pale woman stepped back and dropped her hands, using a sleeve to cleanse the mark from her forehead.  There was a weariness in her frame now that had not been there before, and she promptly sat upon a nearby rock. 

Victor worked quickly, and once the wound was stitched again he doused it with healing potion, watching with satisfaction as the wound knit from freshly dealt to weeks old in the span of a few seconds.  "I was surprised that you fought, Idryius," he murmured, packing his things back in the satchel.  "I did not expect you to take up a sword in an attack, as sorely as you have wished for death..."


Offline Jabbathejack

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Idryius watched as the werewolf worked on him, making no sound as he stitched. Not far away, he saw Loraene with the dead bodies, yet he was not sure what she was doing with them. Until they sat up. Necromancy.

Yet who was he to judge? Tsarin had tried to explain that, amongst other things. It wasn't the act that was the issue, but what it was used for.

Remaining silent, Idryius turned back to Victor as he finished with the wound.

"Perhaps I should have let them?" He shook his head, heaving a weary sigh. "But there is still a part of me that has some dignity, somewhere."

"If I am to die, it will be by my own hand, or in battle... against a worthy opponent. Not someone like that." He paused, taking a ragged breath. "I think he'd understand."

He looked up at Victor, feeling drained of all emotion. He held out his wrists, ready for them to be tied once more.