Closed Heart and Hardship

(Caelum)

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Built into the cliffs overlooking the Suvan Sea, Riverfall resides on the edge of grasslands of Cyphrus where the Bluevein River plunges off the plain and cascades down to the inland sea below. Home of the Akalak, Riverfall is a self-supporting city populated by devoted warriors. [Riverfall Codex]

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Heart and Hardship

Postby Aoren on May 9th, 2015, 2:15 pm

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19th of Spring, 515 AV
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He could see the struggle written across Caelum’s face. What he was speaking was a challenge. It was a secret that the Ethaefal was letting go. Aoren was not ignorant of what that meant when it came to Caelum. The man was sometimes frustratingly difficult to understand. Perhaps this was the reason why? Caelum’s attitude toward a great many things shifted so frequently, he could see how being marked by a Goddess of Slaves and Addiction could only feed into his already passionate nature. Still, there was something troubling about what the Ethaefal was sharing with him. It made Aoren pause. It made him consider. Were he not in such a conflicted state, Aoren would have seen how much of a struggle that made for Caelum. Every day would have been a fight to focus on himself, for his own needs and desires, to find fulfillment in what he wanted as his own purpose.

Aoren was not in the most rational state of mind.

Is that what I am to you then? A need to fulfill? A desire to appease?” As he met the gold flecked gaze of the Ethaefal there was still the echo of hurt and anger in his face. It was not as jagged as before but it still lingered. The icy edges of Aoren’s fury were slowly melting. He did not want to be angry with Caelum. He did not want to be hurt. It was simply what he was feeling at that moment. He had seen the wine red chains that wrapped around the lower part of Caelum’s body. Many times he had brushed over those chain links during their most intimate moments. He’d found them curious, perhaps a memento to Caelum’s past. To be faced with the truth of what that chain meant though was a shock that Aoren found difficult to wrap his head around.

You know what I want, so you play me for the puppet? You drink in the fulfilling of my desires like a wine and when I have reached contentment it’s on to another?” Anger began to fill Aoren’s heart again. He felt lied to although Caelum had never specifically brought up the subject of this particular mark. All the same, this was not something that was small and it brought a whole new light to the relationship he shared with Caelum. It brought doubt. Had the Ethaefal only been drawn to him because he felt the echo of Aoren’s needs? Was he only interested in him because he gained the bliss that this Nikali bestowed upon her marked? It was all confusing and did little to ease the already messy situation.

What am I to you, Caelum? What are we?” He gestured between the two of them. Some part of him knew that the questions he was posing were hardly fair. But in that moment, Aoren didn’t care. He needed to push through what he was feeling then.


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Heart and Hardship

Postby Caelum on May 9th, 2015, 11:13 pm

The arrows Aoren shot at him with his words hurt more coming from so calm a place. The seer demanded sharp edged answers from him with a voice as disciplined as any mystic seer out of an ancient tale, unable to be bothered from the reverie of ages while offering over his condemnation. It caused the edges of Caelum's mouth to tighten and his eyes to wince as he came to a stop by the edge of the pond and curved quickly around to face Aoren again. On his way through the herb garden had had absently pulled a fist down a creeping vine of honeysuckle, an outlet for emotions, and now their leaves and fragile petals were crumpled in his hand, releasing a sweet scent to the sour night.


Now he shook out his hand, scattering the broken blossoms over the bank of the pond. A few fell into the water and caused ripples to bob outward in an ever widening gyre. They disturbed the reflected face of the moon and suddenly the physician was reminded of the pond in his personal dreamscape, the place that he had pulled Aoren to when the monstrous balicani had hunted him down in nightmares to spit acid over his fears again.


Anger rose with the wind.


"What are you to me? What kind of question is that?" Caelum's hands rose, endlessly expressive, framing the loose shapes of grasslands signs crisscrossed with an accent of meanings that were his and his alone. "You have lived in my home. You have been given a great deal of my time and made welcome in my bed. But you think you're just a need. You have spent time with my daughter and been trusted with my best friend and now you are just a fucking glass of wine to me?"


As he spoke, he moved unconsciously closer. It was the habit of a season and a half spent in almost daily contact with Aoren, the chains tightening; but it was also more than that. He caught himself at about arms length, a scowl blackening his face, and he took a single step back again while shaking his head.


"This is bullshit, Aoren," he informed him, quieter than before but no less impassioned for it. Dark eyes found aching blue. "I know what you want so I give it to you. If anyone's a puppet here, it's me. What are we? We're whatever we make ourselves. I've been trying to make us something more."
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Heart and Hardship

Postby Aoren on May 10th, 2015, 2:54 pm

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19th of Spring, 515 AV
.

Aoren simply met Caelum’s gaze. He had no words to say, so he said nothing. His fists clenched and unclenched. Caelum wasn’t wrong. Aoren didn’t feel that he was completely right either. The whole situation was a sour one that he wished had simply never happened. Such was not the way of life. The past could not be changed. What was done, was done. The only thing they could do was move forward. Reaching up he hands both of his hands through his hair taking a deep breath. His eyes looked around at the garden a memory rising up from the not so distant past. It was a place out of a dream. Or was it more fitting to say that it had been a place brought into a dream? Wordlessly he turned seating himself upon the ground in front of the pond. He pulled a knee up to his chest resting his chin atop it. For a moment he closed his eyes simply letting the silence drift between the two of them.

I remember this place.” How could he forget it? Caelum had dove into the depths of one of his darkest nightmares, torn it apart and brought him to the safety of this gentle pond. This was a haven. It was a place where pain and misery was pushed away. Aoren gave a weary sigh. He couldn’t hold on to his anger anymore. He wanted to. On some level he felt as if he’d been betrayed but there was too much that had been left unsaid between the both of them, too much that had been assumed, too many things that hadn’t been brought to light, for him to remain so. It was more exhausting to remain angry at Caelum than it was to simply take a step back and examine where they stood.

I am…sorry.” His voice hitched. “That was not fair of me. But you should have been honest with me. You don’t know how I would have reacted. If I had known, we could have spoken of this sooner.

He leaned back looking up into the sky focusing on the light of Leth. How curious it was to think that the beloved of Caelum’s bright and lovely Syna was there, watching their spat unfold. But it also brought a thought to Aoren’s mind, if despite their vastly differing natures Syna and Leth could cross the stars and stand together in a love as beautiful as theirs, could not he and Caelum? Because that was the truth, at some point in time or another Aoren had fallen in love with Caelum. He hadn’t said it out loud. Aoren didn’t believe he was ready to admit such a thing with words. It was there however. He could feel it in his chest and it was easy to admit, if only to himself.

I feel strongly for you, Caelum who was Kasb’el. How can I not? You are as wild and untamed as the Sea of Grass. You are as proud as the Striders of our people. You are as strong as the earth beneath our feet. Though you have fallen from the heavens, another man who so greatly represents the troubles and strengths of the world, I have not met.” His eyes found Caelum’s. There was still hurt in them but the anger was gone. Aoren could hold on to it no longer.

But we can’t continue under the guise that all will simply remain right in our world. We need to talk. Clearly.” It was perhaps not the most ideal time to sit down and define their relationship but there it was. Ranuri complicated things infinitely. Aoren’s duty to the Drykas people also weighed on his mind, a duty that Caelum no doubt had considered as well.


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Heart and Hardship

Postby Caelum on May 11th, 2015, 6:24 pm

Caelum swore under his breath as Aoren turned away from him to take a seat on the bank of the pond. One hand shoved back through a tangled of dark brown hair and he rather felt the urge to find his own practice dummy to destroy with nothing more his fists. A glance was cast the moon, the wild god whose wicked ways had only barely been contained by Syna’s blazing love. For perhaps the first time since his return to Mizahar in this life did this beloved of Syna feel a kinship with Leth that stretched beyond a wary and long suffering regard.


But Aoren wanted to stay angry. Caelum knew that like he knew the names of all bones in his surgeon’s hands. It was damnably annoying and he wrinkled his nose right up before scrubbing at his face and creating a meandering path toward the seer. Shoving air out of his lungs, he dropped into a corbie’s crouch beside Aoren and slid a strong arm over his shoulders. His fingers slid up into sweat dampened hair and he ducked his chin to press a kiss to Aoren’s temple.


“I love you, Aoren,” he admitted quietly, voice low and thick with that far-flung accent. It was deeper now in the night. “I never wanted to hurt you, but my wants are often difficult to hold on to. It can sometimes require all of my strength, and still be stripped from me with little more than the touch of a hand. I’m not telling you this to excuse my actions, any of my actions. I will own all of them. That’s the only way to live. But I’m telling you so that you know, and can maybe come to understand.”


Sighing, he withdrew his hand and rocked back on his heels, sitting there with his shadow a good three times taller as it cut across the reflected moon. He gazed steadily, brooding, at Aoren.


“You’ll be wanting to take a wife soon,” he said finally, matter of factly. “If you ever intend to join the Drykas in truth.” This was not an accusation, but a statement of fact. It was neither approving or disapproving, but rather very carefully neutral. “Several wives, eventually. I have never intended to ask you to choose between your people and me, Aoren. But I can’t choose between you and my goddess either.”


Not, that is, unless he bonded to Aoren. He had been pulling steadily back against the suggestive tugs of Nikali’s chains in that regard for a good run of days. After all, Aoren had his own path to follow, and one that was unlikely to have a lot of room in it for him in the role of a lover. There were other roles, of course, but what form of love framed them remained to be seen. He had survived this long unbonded; he would manage for a while longer.
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Heart and Hardship

Postby Aoren on May 11th, 2015, 11:53 pm

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19th of Spring, 515 AV
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Three words.

Three words echoed through Aoren’s mind. His whole body froze when he’d heard them. He felt the strength and the warmth of the arm that wrapped around his shoulders. The kiss that was pressed to his temple sent warmth curling through his body. Turning his body he reached out to Caelum drawing the Ethaefal in close. He tilted the man’s chin upward running a thumb across his cheek. Gentleness touched Aoren’s eyes as he looked upon Caelum. The Drykas man had no words to say in that moment so he simply acted. He leaned forward claiming Caelum’s lips. The kiss that he shared with the Ethaefal was a soft one. A hand slipped upwards to touch the back of the man’s neck massaging there lightly. When he broke the kiss he stared into Caelum’s eyes even as he thought on the words that he’d spoken.

I am not blind to the responsibilities that I now have to our people, I will not ignore them.” He brought his hand to rest upon the center of Caelum’s chest. Aoren felt the heartbeat there. He closed his eyes drawing upon the strands of his djed. He brought himself into harmony with his lover, his beloved, then opened his eyes. He searched for nothing in specific but simply stared at the beauty of Caelum’s aura. The wash of colors were enrapturing to him, he would never tire of seeing them. He would never tire of seeing Caelum if he was admitting to himself in full honesty.

But I will always have room for you. I will make room. You are part of my life, Caelum. I can’t see myself walking forward in this life here without you.” He took the beloved of Syna by the hand lacing their fingers together as he pulled Caelum into his lap. He was weary of the fight and simply longed for the comfort of his lover’s presence. A wound had been made inside Aoren’s heart but it would heal. He would mend it, but he would mend it with Caelum by his side. A melancholy smile touched his lips as he rest his head in the crook of the other man’s neck. He breathed in Caelum’s scent, the smell of horses, earth and what he could only describe as sunshine.

Ours will never be a love solely between each other. You have your duty to your goddess. Who better than I to understand being compelled by what you cannot control? I have my newfound duty to our people. But as I find a wife and sire a child, make a family, I want you to be part of that family. The Drykas may not approve, but can they refuse me if I fulfill my obligations?” He sighed. It was not so simple as that. Aoren knew that the search for a woman that he could love and hold in high esteem to match Caelum would be a difficult one, but he would search.

"I know that is a challenging road but..." Aoren wrapped his arm around Caelum's waist pulling him close. He pressed his lips to the side of the Ethaefal's neck gently. "...I love you, Caelum. I don't know how it happened, I don't care why. I love you."

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Heart and Hardship

Postby Caelum on May 13th, 2015, 1:33 pm

When Aoren pulled Caelum to him, the healer did not resist. He went where wanted, a strong arm encircling the seer's shoulders even as Aoren bowed his head to his shoulder and confessed his love. The smile that formed was pure joy, a rare and private thing that might have eased the heart of a particular goddess.


He lingered, wrapped up in Aoren's mingled desires and reveling quietly in the love at their core. The mystery to him was where and when along the way did anyone decide to believe in him, at what point had he become worthy of Aoren's love. The wind ruffled the surface of the pond and he thought he heard a sigh in it, familiar as the dusting of the seer's lips to his throat. Ducking his chin, Caelum stole a quick but fierce kiss before pulling away.


He extracted himself purposefully from his lover's arms, getting his legs beneath him and unraveling to his feet. There he inhaled and took a step backwards, away from Aoren so as to put enough distance between them that his mind might clear of all the little nuances that, once woven together, created the tapestry of Aoren Skycrown's self. It was only there, in the stirring wind that pulled the fog of ranuri from him like clouds from the sun, that he was capable of realizing that he was still angry. More than that, he was sad.


Both hands rubbed down his face as he took a moment to compose himself. For all that Caelum believed in the Drykas people, the needs of their continued society, the values of their culture, they were still not actually his. He did not share these people with Aoren no more than he shared them with Kavala or had with the descendants of his own past life, once blood of his blood, but now no more related than two tales told side by side. He believed in the Drykas people and he supported them, and as such he had known possibly before Aoren himself had what decisions the Skycrown son would be faced with upon being returned to his people. He’d known them, and understood them.


But that did not make it hurt less when Aoren confirmed that was his chosen course.


“I don’t know that it would be right for me to impose upon your family before you have even formed it. It’s more than just a difficult road, Aoren,” he said finally, heavily. “It’s one that keeps me as an outsider. I love you and that isn’t going to change, but I don’t think we should make decisions about the arrangement of your family before it’s necessary. You’ll always be part of mine. I can’t change that now even if I wanted to. But as you move more fully into the Drykas culture, find a woman worthy to be your wife –“ He shook his head. “I don’t know that I will choose to continue as lovers. I don’t know. We will need to make decisions in these regards as things happen. I can make no promises about them now.”


At the end his voice grew a little hoarse, throat sore with heartache. “You honor me with naming me family, love. And I think you’re right. Regardless of the details, from here on we ride together.”
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Heart and Hardship

Postby Aoren on July 31st, 2015, 2:48 pm

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19th of Spring, 515 AV
.

Aoren did not fight Caelum as he moved away from him. He did not want to. There was no fight left in him. He couldn’t stay angry with the Ethaefal. It took more energy for him to hold onto to the steely cold fire of his anger than it did to simply let it wash away. His heart ached. There was no denying that. It would continue but if anything, because his heart ached it meant that he had truly and fully fallen in love with the man in front of him. He rose to his feet letting his arms dangle at his sides as he listened to Caelum’s laments. They were not unfounded. Aoren heard them. The words fluttered into his ears but in that rarest of instances, at least according to the poets, his heart and mind were of single intent in this regard: the words were heard but neither listened.

I never thought I’d fall in love.” Aoren meandered over to the shore of the pond. He knelt down pressing his fingers into the loamy soil. Moving almost on instinct he drew upon his djed pushing it out of the tips of his fingers as res. With rotation of his wrist he willed his res to travel through the nooks and crannies of the dirt toward the water. He rest his hand upon his knee keeping a hold of the res as he maneuvered it through the water while speaking.

Truthfully, I didn’t want to. Life is…different when you’re a Seer. Every breath a person takes is a moment locked within the tapestry of their life. Every waking moment, every weary one too, all pieces of their ever growing puzzle solidifying on the Chavi forming a painting that mortals words can’t truly describe.” Aoren blinked willing his res through the water until it came to his intended target. A water lily. The Drykas had always enjoyed the flowers. They were beautiful, delicate things that to him signified rebirth. He trailed his eyes over the outline of the flower. As he did, his res began flowing over the lily filling its every twist and fold. Rising to his feet Aoren made a rising motion with his hand. As he did his res responded by lifting itself out of the water bringing the lily with it.

All of those moments are mine to see. From the day of a person’s birth to some of the most private pieces of their lives. Little is hidden from my gaze if I but take a breath and release myself to the journey there is to be found in the Chavi.” Motioning for the lily to come nearer, it drifted through the air toward the Seer. He cupped his hands until it came to hover just between them. Pulling on the strings of his djed once more, Aoren began weaving more res around the lily.

People know that. When I was younger, I was targeted for it. Sometimes I was just called names. Sometimes I was bullied, the other children would throw rocks at me. Or they would beat me until I fell to the ground. There was a time where they even relieved themselves on me.” He began stepping closer to Caelum. The whole while the res building up around the flower between his hands began to take on a spherical shape.

They couldn’t lie around me, you see. The tricks they’d pull, trouble they’d cause, things they might have stolen, I could find it. I could find all of it. Sometimes I did so willingly. Sometimes the visions just came to me. So they hated me for it. There was no hiding from me. Children aren’t the only ones who know that.” An orb had begun to form around the lily. As it sealed up at the top, a perfectly smooth sphere encompassed the lily completely. The blossoming flower was completely covered by Aoren’s res. The orb was a deep royal blue though it still seemed fluid as it shifted between the Seer’s hands.

When I was older I distanced myself from people. I learned well that not everyone smiled on my gifts. I grew to fear them. Part of me hated them. I was afraid. The knights of course smiled on me. I was visited by a few of them from time to time. There weren’t many known Seers outside of the Konti associated with the Order. Why they ever took an interest in me I’ll never know. But the point is, I was different...and so are you.” Aoren brought the orb upwards to his chest. He drew in a deep breath then exhaled over the orb. A sound almost like glass freezing over slowly spread over the orb. Light blue crystal frosted over the orb until it was completely solid. At the center rest the lily, perfectly outlined in full bloom to be forever preserved within the magic crystal conjured by Aoren. He held his creation close.

I didn’t want to get close to others. I’d tried. They always ended up hurting me in some manner. People had been that way my whole life. But then you came along.” A smile touched Aoren’s lips. Cobalt blue eyes gazed down at the preserved flower.

You were unlike anyone I’d ever met or had ever seen before for that matter. You blazed across my otherwise darkened sky like a comet to rival the sun. You changed it, just as you’ve changed me now.” The Drykas extended his creation to Caelum. His eyes searching the Ethaefal’s features.

I can’t see the future, Caelum. But I refuse to live in one where you’re not present. My heart is like this flower. It is delicate and easily bruised. When I am around you though…” He paused feeling a lump form in his throat. Aoren swallowed forcing himself to continue. “…when I am around you I feel safe. My heart feels protected. I have known that kind of love only once in my life. It was torn from me by a cruel world. Forgive me as I struggle to believe this is real, that I can feel this way again. There will be moments where I stumble. I will falter. But in the safety of your embrace I feel as though…as though this is a thing that will last.” He took a deep breath.

"I love you. You are and always will be important to me, Caelum Sunwalker. You and Lillian are my family, if you'll have me. I made a mistake tonight, I beg you not to pull away from me because of it. Can you forgive me?"

There he stood. His hands extending the orb to Caelum, a gift woven by his own hands using his very essence. Though his body did not shake there was a fear in Aoren’s eyes. He was afraid that Caelum would turn from him.

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