s5-vincentliam

Liam

The fight had taken a toll, and Liam, who had placed himself at the front of the assault, who had been mind controlled by a vampire, and had been scratched, clawed, bitten, and stabbed, was looking rather dour. It was the right thing they were doing, and in better circumstances, they could have been doing it voluntarily, the right way. As it was, they were being treated like criminals cleaning up their own mess. His thoughts turned to Graveth, and he prayed that he would not look unfavorably upon him.

Vincent

Looking around the ruined tower, it seems the others had settled in for the evening. The sisters locking themselves up together in a room, and Claire and Spiders chatting. He knew Liam was behind the last door and that he should head in, but Vincent was nervous. He hadn't spoken to Liam privately since their flirtatious evening and everything had gone completely sideways since then. He wasn't sure how warm the reception would be in there, but he knew what he had to do. Taking a deep breath and listening to an encouraging word from Thalenia, he knocked and opened the door. "Liam, may I come in. I would like to speak to you." He tried to be confident, but there was none of the usual casual joy in his voice.

Liam

Sitting on a chair as he tried to get the blood off his armor, his head turned as he heard the sound of the knocking door and it opening shortly after. His hand went for his sword in the swift moment before he heard Vincent's voice, before tensing and gripping the air. "…alright. Come in, let's talk." He went back to work, cleaning the armor with great care, making sure to keep the steelfungus plate from warping, to keep it shining brightly in battle. So far from his Order, his armor, displaying the eagles of the Iron League, was his strongest connection to those ideals and traditions.

Vincent

Closing the door behind him and ensuring it was sealed he looked back over toward Liam, his armor off, the full extent of his injuries visible. Vincent stared at him for a moment, feeling intensely guilty for every cut and developing bruise. The atmosphere was decidedly different than the last time, and instead of intentionally getting as close as possible, he felt he should keep his distance for many reasons, the least of which is that if this conversation went badly he could be attacked. He walked around the edge of the room and sat on one of the cots that had been set up. "I couldn't see very much from where I was, but you seemed to take quite a beating on those stairs. Are you alright?"

Liam

He shrugged, as he set aside the breastplate of his armor and looked over at Vincent, looking more worn out than angry at the moment. "Fine. Nothing that won't be right as rain by morning." Beside him at the table was a cup of tea, which he turned to take a drink of, wincing a bit as he did. As he grabbed another piece of his mail, he turned his attention back to the work. "I just do not understand it, Vincent. Why?"

Vincent

Vincent sighed deeply before answering. His voice was deeper, his Esnyan accent slipping through a little. He wanted to be his real self in this moment. "Have you ever gotten caught up in a moment, you make one small decision and then another and then another and then before you've even realized what has happened you're somewhere far away from where you began? Claire was so excited to go into the tower, and I wanted to show off for her. Despite how shy she normally seems, she can be so full of life when something catches her eye and I wanted to make her happy. So we tried to get in, and when that didn't work and I could see the disappointment on her face I wanted to make it better so I snuck us in, and the excitement of the moment got away from me."

Liam

It made plenty of sense when he put it like that, but at the same time it made him angry. That he didn't think things through, that he didn't use some kind of better judgment. Yet, what had he expected? He hadn't applied that thought process to any other time since he had met him, just going along on these whims without thinking through the consequences, so how could he be angry? "I understand what happened, Vincent. I understood that you had to push things, that it was just who you are, but I believed…I hoped that there was some kind of line, some kind of limit to the things you were willing to do for the sake of feeding those whims. Maybe it's because I had really hoped I was right, that you were only superficially vain, that you were capable of telling right from wrong, and in truth, some desperate part of me still hopes that is true, if only marred by this single, magnificent mistake you have made."

Vincent

He had been called worse insults, but these ones stung, although he wasn't sure why he cared so much. There was no doubt he was attracted to Liam, but he'd been attracted to many people in the past and had never particularly cared what they thought of him. He felt himself getting defensive. "It's not about feeding whims, it's about making decisions in the moment that get you what further. I know that I went too far in this case, but it's not always that simple. Some of us haven't had the luxury of a clean line between right and wrong. Sometimes there is something so important, so fundamental to who you are that everything else falls away in the face of protecting them. Lies can be required when the truth will never be understood." His voice had gotten louder as he spoke and he knew he had already given away too much, but he was so tired of the constant deception.

Liam

As he listened to him, the tone of his voice, he could tell one thing right away: this actually seemed to be bothering him. This wasn't a simpering, fake apology, this was taking the verbal blows and standing against them, while still showing proper remorse. Not defending the action, but the very nature of his self. But he had said several things that now caught his attention. "I know well enough what it's like to protect something far bigger and more important than myself, Vincent. For me, it's my order, and it's my god, and it's my family. What truth do you serve, Mr. Arbordale, that is so dear to you that you must almost destroy us to keep it secure?"

Vincent

'You should tell him.' 'He won't understand.' 'Have faith, my love. Vincent knew that this was inevitable, that it was only a matter of time before he would have to tell someone, but he was still afraid. "I will tell you, but please understand, I beg you to understand because nobody ever has. I have never told another living soul about this because anyone I try to immediately rushes to a terrible conclusion." He remembered the beating he had received at his father's hand when he tried to tell him. "Will you agree to at least hear me out before you react?"

Liam

All these conditions, all these hesitations, whatever he meant to tell him obviously had great weight. Would such a great secret demand him to do something against his honor? Against his own nature? It was not an easy concession, no easier than handing over his weapons to the militia, which had also been a consequence of his actions. Still, he nodded, looking him dead in the eyes as he spoke in Stiybian. "I swear upon my name, Sir Liam Goodestone of the Iron League, that I will accept these conditions, under pain of great dishonor to my self and my Order."

Vincent

His hand shaking, he held it up and pointed near the door. There a wispy illusion emerged, taking the shape of a woman. Tall and slender, her hair dotted with flowers, impossibly beautiful, yet her features clearly showed she was not human. He spent a moment staring at her, a sense of calm washing over him as it did whenever he could look at her. "This is who I serve and what I live for. This is Thalenia and she is not from this world. She is a creature of pure love and beauty and kindness and through a miracle she found me across dimensions of time and space and has been my companion for almost my entire life. She cannot exist in our world, but she lives in my mind and my heart. The power that I have, the magical things that I can do, they are not from written spells and dusty tomes, but are granted to me by her love. She has given me great strength under the sole condition that I make this harsh world better in any way that I can. That I bring joy and love and beauty to those I meet. I am no wizard, I am a warlock." He stared directly at Liam as he finished his speech, scanning his face in anticipation of his response.

Liam

Of all the things he had seen, and heard, in his tenure as a knight, as a boy in Stiybia, and all else in between, this was by far the most strange thing he had ever encountered. For the moment, he was at a loss for words. Everything up to 'I am a Warlock' needed a second to consider, as those four words had immediately set off a great deal of red flags in his mind. This was…was it even possible for this to be true? Despite all this, things seemed to make sense. The other lover Alra had talked to him about, the nature of his power, various bits and pieces of various conversations that were now more illuminated in hindsight. After a moment, he spoke in Neslethian. "You…are claiming to be some kind of Warlock that relies upon some…otherworldly being for your power, and that unlike every other warlock who has ever been known, isn't an evil and pernicious necromancer who desires the destruction of all life. Is that about the sum of it, Vincent?"

Vincent

"Yes." He tried to sound confident, but could not read the expression on Liam's face. He wasn't sure if he should be preparing to flee or if he had finally met someone who was willing to listen. "I do not know what pacts those foul men have made to be granted their powers and to what evil demons they have made them with. All I know is that there is no malice or hatred in Thalenia's heart or in mine. There may be others who have made a contract with a being that wishes no ill on anyone, but they would most likely hide their true nature, much as myself."

Liam

"For good reason, most people would think you mad, or slay you on the spot. Both, likely." There was much to consider, and little trust to base such an assumption on. "I need something more than words, Vincent. I need something I can trust, more than just an illusion, that your powers are beneficent in nature. I…want to believe you, not just because of any feelings I might have, but that I know better than to so closely associate with an agent of evil."

Vincent

Vincent was taken aback by the implication he may be evil. He remembered every time that people spoke of Warlocks as foul monsters without any understanding and how he had to remain silent for his own protection, but now he fully had the chance to express himself. He had been nervous before but was now growing angry. "If I was an 'agent of evil' why would I voluntarily surround myself with those who would actively disrupt my nefarious plans? If I just wanted to gain power would it not be easier to find those who would do anything for any price rather than waste time befriending honourable companions who I must hide my true nature from? Why, Liam? Why would I do these things if I'm not what I say I am? And why would I tell you now and risk everything?"

Liam

As he listened to his tirade, he put up a hand and looked him in the eyes. "Stop, I get it." Dropping his hand, he sighed and began getting his armor back on, piece by piece. As he did so, he considered what he was going to say next, realizing he had impuned his friend, and to not further villainize him. "I do. At the very least, I would like to think I have enough measure of you to believe such things impossible. Your answer to my request told me enough." It didn't take long at all for him to be suited up again. He had to be prepared, for an attack at any time while they were sheltering in this cursed place. "I apologize, but you must understand my incredulity."

Vincent

Liam's calm response made Vincent pause enough for his anger to fade. He felt slightly sheepish for getting so angry, it was unlike him. "I do, it is a lot of information and requires a lot of trust. There is a reason I've never told anyone before. In fact, you've taken it better than I had hoped. I was half expecting to need to magic myself out of this room in case that sword came my way." He let his standard smirk and playful demeanor slip onto his face. As Liam put on his armor to protect himself from attacks, this too was Vincent's protection of a different kind.

Liam

Seeing Vincent's confident expression reassured Liam, glad to have diffused the situation somewhat. There was still the matter of telling the rest of the Lenai, and that wouldn't go so easily. "Do you really believe that I might have struck you down? I am your ally, an honorable knight, who is fighting right now to help clean up this mess you got us into. That's the very last thing I would do, Vincent."

Vincent

"I did not want to believe it, but you can never be too careful. As I'm sure you know…" Vincent gestured up and down to Liam's armor, drawing attention that he was putting it on before bed. "As you want to trust me, I want to trust you, but I know it is a heavy burden to carry such information and I do not want to make your life more difficult than I already have. It was a difficult decision to finally tell the truth, but deciding who to tell was not. There will likely come a time sometime soon when I can trust the others with my secret, but I wanted you to hear it from me first…and alone."

Liam

Looking over at him, Liam looked tired and more than a little exhausted from the whole day's insanity. Now he was the keeper of a dangerous secret, one that, if unleashed improperly, could tear apart the Lenai. "Right. Never too careful. The same applies to how you present this truth to our companions. At least one of them will not take it well, and unlike myself, may not have an adversity to using violence on other people. As for us…I need some time to think on things. As you might imagine this…complicates things. In the interest of somewhat uncomplicating them, could you…explain who this woman is?"

Vincent

"She is what is called a Nymph and she lives on another plane of existence that I cannot reach. She is not like us, but another kind of creature entirely. She is bound to nature and life in a way that we are not. She has reached out with her power into my mind where she is with me, but as I understand it she still exists there in her own world with others like her. As for what she is to me, she is my love and the closest companion in my life. She has been with me for almost as long as I can remember and has shaped me into the man that I am today. The good that I have inside of me is because of her encouragement and her endless serenity. She is a part of my soul." Vincent had never been able to talk about her out loud before, he felt full of warmth and joy. "But our love is not a jealous love or a love based on possession. Her happiness is mine and mine is hers. She has tasked me with making the world more beautiful in exchange for lending me her power and supports me in anything that I do in order to fulfill that goal. If I were to become evil and harm others she would abandon me and I would be left with nothing. That is who and what she is."

Liam

Listening along, he did feel a little discouraged with the way he spoke about her. Not that he didn't think it sounded wonderful, but exactly that, the way he spoke about her was transcendent of mere affection. The rest of his explanation made some sense, recalling some of the more outlandish tales and lessons of his Asharian tutor. "Incredible, to think something else is out there, beyond the view of mortal men. Why exactly did she choose you, of all else in the world?" Knowing more about this person made him more secure in the idea of trying to help smooth the impact of the rest of the information to the rest of the group. "I do not mean to judge your character, you seem like a fine choice for such an aim as spreading love, but what brought her to make such a deal?"

Vincent

Vincent could tell that Liam was a little disappointed in his answer, that perhaps he would be uncomfortable sharing his affections. Having been on the far end of the room for the duration of their conversation, he took this moment to stand and walk slightly closer under the pretense of pacing. He no longer feared Liam would lash out at him and instead wanted to try to close some of that distance, even if only physically. "She has said that she had seen our world, had watched the results of the Rotting Legion and the pandemic and had felt pity for us. She wanted to do what she could for us, even being so far away. As for why me, it is a question I have asked both myself and her my whole life. She will say only that she saw a spark of life in me that drew her. I can only understand a small part of the magic within her, only the surface of a deep ocean, so how she could find me and what she was looking for is beyond I think all of our comprehension, but she has never given me reason to doubt her intentions." Vincent stopped directly in front of Liam now, bringing himself as close as he dared without crowding him. "Liam, I will understand if this changes things for you, but understand that it does not change my feelings. I care for you a great deal."

Liam

As he drew closer, Liam relaxed his stance a bit, still rather exhausted from the day behind them and already further exhausted by what would be the day before them. Maybe it was just how persuasive he was, he told himself, as to why he was accepting any of this as the truth, but he had made his stance on the matter known. With him drawing close, a gauntleted palm came to rest on Vincent's shoulder, heavy. Not to keep him at a distance, but to break some of the tension, along with a bit of a smile, by bridging the gap. "…I do not know if things have changed, and I wish for some time to think about things before I make a decision either way. I do care for you as an ally, and perhaps more, but as your friend, I need you to promise there will not be something else that I have to discover like this. You have told me the whole, and complete truth as well as you know it, is that correct?"

Vincent

Vincent placed his own hand atop Liam's being sure not to look away from him. "I swear to you, there is nothing else."

Liam

He couldn't feel the touch of his hand through the thick plate, but he grinned a little bit more as he did so. "Then that is all I need to hear. I will support you in revealing this secret to the Lenai, including lending my blade to your aid if things go wrong. If I have been deceived, then consider this vow revoked, but be you honest, then I will lend my honor and testimony to your defense as well."

Vincent

The formality of knights always amused him, but he refrained from chuckling. He knew it was an important gesture for Liam to give such a vow and it was truly appreciated. He thought that no one would ever accept him as he was, yet here was this man who not only believed him but was willing to fight those who would harm him. "Thank you, Liam. I will try not to be worthy of your trust." Despite himself, he had to blink back tears from forming. Surprised by his own emotions, he cleared his throat and backed away, turning around to face the other side of the room and one of the empty beds. "Perhaps we should get some sleep. I imagine we still have a difficult task in front of us tomorrow."

Liam

"I agree. We will need all we can muster if more fiends like those await us below the tower." Clad in his armor, Liam got ready to get to sleep. Sleeping in armor took…patience and practice, but he had done it before, and he would likely do it again before ere long. "I believe I have second watch, so I need at least a few hours of rest." It had been a crazy day, but there was one thing Liam knew better than anything at this moment, which is that if they were going to survive their trials ahead, then they would need to trust one another, and he had just taken that first leap of faith that would undeniably precipitate others. "Good night, Vincent. Let us hope for brighter days in our future, and better beds."

s5-vincentliam

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