Half-and-Half

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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

"is it arrogance or bluster that has you exhausted now Percival?" Joseph asked in an even tone as he finished tweaking his puppet one last time before putting it aside. "I am an uncaring, unsatisfactory old man. I am dying but that is nothing new - medicine simply keeps me on the same tract my life has long been on: no closer, no further from death than normal. Riles lived with that fact years before we parted ways."

The old man laughed. It was a dry, performative sound that was scratchy from disuse. "You get so close lad and then every time the die is cast you insist on calling it wrong. Riley shows you me-" The puppeteer motioned to himself and then jerked his bandaged head towards Alexis in his first acknowledgement of the other man. The Lord's smile sparkled and his eyes twinkled under the acknowledgement. "-she shows you this shit and all the rest of this shit-" Joseph waved his hand about the sparse, rundown room all around them. "-and what do you do? Armour up? Withdraw yourself because it isn't about me?"

"You are a volatile young man and it is clear that dying is nothing new to you, but while I choose where I am now I can't say say you even understand where you are."
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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

"What am I to say?" Percival spoke ahead of his mind this time, his reflections halted by the pugnacious fire in his chest. "I'm here. I've managed that at least. I'm not trying to hide... Trying... to hide..."

The Alchemist was getting flashbacks to the garden at Safeholme, the incident only a couple of weeks old at this point, and still fresh in his mind despite everything that happened. Was it arrogance or was it bluster? Deep down the fire was stoked by a fear that he had damaged his bond with Riley like he damaged his bond with Ruarc. With the druid, he wasn't needed, not then, and not now. Replaced. There was no poultice or salve that could just solve the issue, and the restrained choler he had suppressed all of his life was no draught to sustain him.

"I..." Percival brought a hand up to his temple, and massaged it, "... I've gotten ahead of myself."

He turned for a moment, putting his back to the man, squatting down before one of the stage magicians.

"Riley."

At that, he looked at the other, as if it were the right one, and readjusted himself.

"Riley."

Then, he looked back at the first he had spoken to, before orienting himself before both.

"Riley. I've not been well, not since the whole incident, so I've been frustrated. Angry. I've not been myself. I've been so spittin' crazy I've ruined friendships. Your da's right, dying isn't new to me. That's a lot to take in, and its soured me a bit, but you didn't deserve any of that. You didn't deserve to get the Percy Show where I hide that behind some vacant, self-deprecating humor," the Alchemist looked a bit gaunt, "I'm sorry I put you through that."

He put a hand to the back of his head, scratching one of the many locks that had come undone through the day, "I'm also tanking this first impression, dear, so if you've any advice, I'd love it."
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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

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"Being hurt takes up a lot of time - I get that. It is... understandable that you've been pre-occupied." The first Riley let a slight grin across her face as she shrugged. "I... I just didn't expect that when you started to treat half of me as someone else that it would hit as hard as it did. I'm-" Riley hung her head and shook it as if she was going against her own thoughts. "-I'm supposed to be good at dealing with things on my own. It just didn't happen to work out this time. And-" Riley raised her face and quickly brushed hair out of her face in an attempt to reinforce her wan smile.

"-and da's just bein' an ass because he knows it is how he comes off as "charming"." The other Riley added their voice to the conversation. "It must be a family trait." The stage magician smirked as they let out their quip, but then followed it up by running their hands through their hair in frustration. "Ugh, bullshit aside, just don't pull the stranger routine anymore alright? It's a shit life."

"How transparently charming." Alexis's deep voice purred out from behind Percy. "Though if we are stepping all over pretense-" The Elementalist laid both his hands on Percival's shoulders and massaged his thumbs in slow circles against the alchemist's tense muscles. "-I must say I am only involved in this affair at all because the dear boy contacted my Offices in a tizz about your safety Riley." The older man chuckled good naturedly as his fingers' grip increased in pressure. "I, of course, made myself immediately available."
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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

Tears formed at the edge of the Alchemist's eyes as Riley came forward, honest and true with their feelings. A small storm felt as thought it abated in his chest. The landscape of his heart was still torn, but the winds and storms stopped blowing at least. Much like his mother, and his father, Percival was a hugger, but without another arm to take in both parts of Riley, he just shifted in his spot. Percival contented himself a mirroring smile.

"Of course, of cou--..."

The Elementalia felt the press of the Shadows intensely, both realms shifting uncomfortably with one another. The creatures and denizens of the Land of Dreams and Mist could see the effects, the umbra of everything stretching long despite the sun rising no higher. It wasn't the only thing that reacted strangely, every element was experiencing a strange distortion in its use, its effects.

Percival felt it, mostly in the form of a pair of thumbs pressing into his shoulders with the facts of the day and the last few weeks leaning in deeply. He stared at the floor as his mind began putting things together.

"It's starting to make sense now," murmured Percy, wafting his hand as if he were trying to catch the aroma of something. "I did all this digging before knowing how deeply connected it was. I thought she was just some child soldier being sent out to kill a nine-year old."

His muscles tensed against the pressure, and his eyes leveled again, "Riley. This might be my fault. I did some digging, deep digging, when I found a contract with your name in the subject line. Dated a decade ago. I began looking into the matter immediately, and made more waves than I meant to. Truthfully, I didn't want to alarm you, because it seemed so... insane... but..."

The man's brow furrowed with a wry smile, "I sought out the contracting mage. I found out that she's your, I suppose now... our sister. I was speaking to her right before you called me, right as I started asking about the why. Why her name was on a hit contract drafted by one Lord Alexis Valsted. And now... It seems..."

He raised a hand, gesturing to the current scene, "Ahm... Here we are."
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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

Percy suddenly found himself stumbling forward as one of the Rileys stepped out of his shadow and was shoving the Lord Elementalist backwards. "Get your fucking hands off my brother Alexis." The words that drifted up from behind the Alchemist were tightly controlled and the named ending it all was a soft, sibilant curse. Despite this, the air behind Percival's back was turning dry compared to the rest of the room as heat began to crackle into life.

"And what is it that I've done to be on the end of such lacking hospitality?" There was a lilting quality still to Alexis's voice as he spoke - his good humour still evident.

Before Percy could move to observe the pair behind him the other Riley strode forward and grabbed him by the front his shirt. When his eyes were brought down to their level the stage magician had their mouth pressed down into a thin line as they appeared to search for something in his face.

"You do not get to have explanations out of me." Riley's voice from behind was accompanied by the sound of flesh striking against flesh. A howl of wind rose up in response as Alexis laughed.

Percy had a front row seat - face to face with his sibling - as the skin from the middle of their forehead to down across their nose and ending at the edge of their cheek split open and began to bleed freely. The cut was more than razor sharp and deep enough that it would scar. Riley's only response to the wound replicated across their face was to flare their nostrils and close their eyes for a scant few moments before pinning their gaze back on their brother. "Why didn't you ask me about Lyra?" Riley's voice was disconcertingly even despite the wound openly weeping on their face. The stage magician tilted their head slightly so that the blood ran in a rivulet from their jawline down their neck instead of dripping onto Percy. "She's who taught me how to use a sword."
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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

The situation was fully out of Percival's control, his fingers writhing helplessly as he saw the wounds open on his sister's face. He almost didn't hear the words coming out of her mouth. The sight of blood got his own pumping, and the genial candor from before started to melt away again. His hands just kept making the motions, the same motions he would make to bring out his staff, to summon, to fight. Instead, it was just a twitching helplessness. Just ghostly feelings of loss.

Instead, the hand grabbed Riley's shoulder, to try and steady her, to keep her from antagonizing Alexis further on his behalf. He looked to the other half of his sister, but the truth of it seemed to come together in his mind.

Out of his vest pocket, he pulled a little kerchief, the only magical item he dared to bring along. Which was also a bit of a misleading fact, as his clothes were 70% mystfibers(30% cotton), and Alexis could likely have turned him into a candle at any moment. So, with that in mind, he pressed the cloth to Riley's cheek, soaking the blood, and pressing it into the wound. Soothesilk, a fine mesh that staunched bleeding and encouraged healing. It was no health-potion, but Percival had come to be very familiar with the material in his time in the mountains.

"Oh, you know me," he said, almost laughing at the incredulity of how in the dark he was, of how silly he had been to now, "If you don't tell me these things, I just leap straight to conclusions. Bugger... I've been dreadful to Lyra, haven't I? I don't know if a simple apologize would do."

He looked over his shoulder at Alexis, his mix of emotions bubbling under the surface of a stabling candor, "There's no need for all this, is there?"
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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

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The air around Alexis and the other Riley shimmered with the heat both of them were expelling. The Lord Elementalist nose was broken and his face was mottling towards the colourful as blood drained freely into his beard. The stage magician on the other hand held a hand against her face and was periodically wiping blood away from her eyes.

"What a delightful sentiment." Alexis, despite the foe in front of him and despite his condition, turned his attention squarely on Percy and smiled. The older man's eyes were filled with both lightning and the sparkle a boy had when his first puppy obeyed a command. "My dear boy I don't think I can think of any reason to fight anymore." The elementalists attention slipped back towards his quarry and a victorious smile crossed his face. "Do keep in touch-" Alexis raised his hands in front of him. "- and do never change my boy!" With a single clap the Valsted man disappeared.

The Riley that Percy was helping snatched the kerchief from his hand and clipped his shoulder with their own as they brushed past to help deal with the wound unattended on their mirror. The two kept their backs turned with their spines ramrod straight as they strode off down a side hallway and into the dark to lick their wounds.

The only sound that could be heard in the whole building for a bit was the stomping of their feet against a flight of stairs until that too dwindled to nothing.

"Percival." Joseph Alstad's words didn't have the rough booming quality from earlier, but even as he spoke softly it was clear he was giving a command. "Come sit."
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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

Percival's legs worked about as well as his missing arm did. He tried to stand, but he came back down to his knees. There was a moment where he spent as much time as was sociably acceptable just catching his breath. With Alexis' presence, he hadn't realized just how much he had been physically frozen. His emotions had ridden up and down so much that the minor sting of his shoulder wasn't evident until he tried to stand up again.

"You'll have to forgive me, I'm already a bit advanced in my age," without really seeing if the joke would land, Percival finally managed to come to his feet. His first step reminded him of the exhaustion he had started the day with. He had come to be so used to being tired that he hadn't realized that he had spent himself bearing the heat back in England.

He came over to an empty chair, unable to make his own, and plopped down into it. A weariness wearing heavy over his shoulders. A few things were playing in his mind: the sight of his sister leaving into the shadows, the feeling of knowing the Lord of Elements, the guilt of having drudged up such painful memories for Lyra. It took him a moment to rise above the passing stupor.

"I must apologize, I lost my temper earlier. I've been terribly short lately," doled Percy, in an attempt to bring himself back to the current scene.
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Gwathdraug
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Gwathdraug »

"Forget about that." A hint of Joseph's early gruffness returned. The man flipped his screwdriver back up into his hand but instead of going to work on his puppet again the again man just caressed the tip with his flame-scarred thumb. "You need to follow after Riles soon but not with you wandering around damned and lost like you have been."

The bandage covered puppeteer sighed heavily and folded his arms in front of him as he leaned back. "What do you know about Alexis Valsted, Percival?"
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Kokuten
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Re: Half-and-Half

Post by Kokuten »

"He's old magic. Rather, that's what my da would say," answered Percy, thinking on the question for about as long as it were to summon that same warning from his father. "The Lord Magus, though he's retired that title in recent years. Does what he wants, has an excellent habit of making you seem terribly small, no matter how big you are."

Percy felt about for a familiar item on his person, but couldn't seem to find it.

"He's a man who believes power unchecked is not the responsibility of those who wield it, but those who contain it. Me mum would agree with him there at least."
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