Chapter 1: Rain (intermezzo)
- Damned horns – booed Vatnir, when first drops of yet another Deadfire's rain had hit the ground and others quickly pulled their caps on.
He heard soft, female chuckle behind him. Large hand in leather glove caught one of his larger horns by it's root. Godlike was turned around and picked up by it, so only his toes were touching the ground.
- They have their... benefits – Brenice whispered in low voice and grinned, while her second hand moved down man's overexposed throat. Elf looked up on the almost feet taller warrior and flushed, while catching her breastplate for support.
- Come. Let's find us some shelter – she gently put him down and moved away. The intimate moment was over and the priest, still red under his mask, trotted behind the Watcher, deaf on the comments of others.
This treatment was as far from reverence at Dead Float as it was possible – and he wouldn't want to be anywhere else.
Chapter 2: Braid
At last they have left Black Isles. The malodorous place, filled to the brim with useless texts and dumb monks busy working on meaningless tasks, soon would be destroyed by movements of awaken self-digesting body of god.
Vatnir chuckled on irony of that – entropy provided by patron of collecting and preserving knowledge. It would be great to personally freeze this place, to cleanse it with the ice, but that outcome also suited him fine.
There was still the problem of … keepsakes. All of the group left the putrid place covered in layers of wet, still pulsating tissue and even small underdeveloped organs. Immediately after reaching the ship everyone collectively threw their equipment on the desks and began to frantically clean it. Even Tekehu had dropped his savior act and provided them with supply of fresh water.
Maybe that was because they all stinked now. Or maybe because even without that set of fur and leather on him they didn't have to see godlike half-naked. For that they should thanked Brenice – the loose, buttoned garment with long sleeves was gift from her, intended to be worn while his relic from Dead Float needs repairs.
Where she is, anyway?
Priest got up and wiped his hands into the cloth. He had to close his eyes while descending under the deck, the difference in lighting almost painful after hours of sitting in full sun. Man coughed and knocked lightly on the door to the captain's chambers, entering after welcoming call-out.
Warrior kneeled before her armor, arms moving back and forth as she cleaned every piece with determination. Godlike stood for few heartbeats in the entrance, mesmerized by rolling of muscles under scarred, brass skin. And then he saw her hair.
Instead of being collected in braid they slumped down in one dark, wet, tangled mass between captain's shoulderblades. Vatnir found himself beside women, touching mingled strands, still dripping with cold water.
-Are you... are you going to leave them like that?
-Will do them later. Must finish armor first. Whatever was on walls of Upper Bowels might corrode it.
-Maybe, but if the thing that farmer had found in his own had less eyes and more fur, he would keep it as a pet. Let me help you – man turned in direction of clean, organised desk.
Sound of scrubbing ceased behind him. Godlike looked over his arm. Brenice's face could be described only as utterly astonished. He could not precisely name his feeling in his chest when he saw that.
Coughing, glamfellen looked through the objects laying on the piece of furniture before him. He took comb with spiral carving as it's only decoration and came back to the warrior.
Vatnir carefully straddled Duskspeaker's calfs and took first strand of coal-black hair between his fingers. After bit of consideration he started to comb their lowest part first, slowly moving up.
For some time Brenice didn't even budge, seemingly mesmerized, her back straight. Then she visibly relaxed, took a bit stained cloth back in her hand and resumed scrubbing onto the metal. Soon they found common rhythm, allowing them both free movement.
In reality the state of Duskspeaker's hair wasn't so bad as he had claimed. Yes, there were... things in them, but rather small number compered to Aloth's or Eder's cases. Her favorite headscarf served her well. He just wanted to do something for her. Whatever, anything, however pathetic and unimportant it would be for rest of the world.
What would be reason for that? His every action toward Harbingers – and so many others – was always dictated by shame, guilt, fear, selfishness. Godlike felt again slight pressure in his chest, when he was pondering over this question, his hands not stopping even for a moment.
When he had combed every strand of women's hair at least twice, priest decided to do them in braid for her, so they wouldn't be in the way of her ongoing activity. Also that would prevent him from acting on his dumb fantasies of sticking his face into that black wave. It was rather pointless anyway – mask would not allow him to feel anything, and without it he would just smear his fluids over everything.
Ahh, there were much more interesting places on Duskspeaker to cover up with juices.
Yes, the touch of thick strands on his fingers made him riled up. There was a lot of moments, when he wanted to just throw the comb to the Hel itself and embrace Brenice from behind with all of his not-existent might, sneak his hands under her spare civil clothes and and feel her breast scar tissue moving under his fingers looking for nipple oh gods while biting her ear that he had stitched so many times move down neck stomach between legs oh gods oh gods between folds and take her pants down so he can please her with both hands at once and then enter her oh skyt moaning but no. However pathetic he ultimately was, he had enough pride to want prove himself, that he have something more for her than only sex and frost spells.
The braid was not elaborate thing – glamfellen mainly used his abilities of rope-making and little bit of string. Vatnir tried to be extremely delicate with his movements, especially when he reached to his healer's pouch.
Quill leaves were too waxy to weave them directly into the hairdo. That's why Harbinger just crumbled them in hand, trying not to cut himself in process, so juice would drip down onto the black hair. When he had ended, another idea came into his mind.
The petals of Berath's bell caressed ends of the collected strands, spreading sweet smell. Vatnir sat back on his heels, looking his work up and down. Some form of admiration started to transform into cheeks-reddening shame and selfloathing. What he was thinking? He's not Tekehu, just making fool from himself with pretense to know anything about pretty things. There is nothing beautiful, that could ever leave his cold, bony fingers, only frost, lies and rot.
Godlike was so transfixed on his own curled into fists hands laying in his lap, that he had almost jumped, when he felt warmth next tho the mask's edge. Winking, Vatnir looked up.
Brenice was touching him, lazy, tender smile on her lips. She probably had to notice lack of movement behind her.
And then she had spotted flower.
Is she.....? Yes, the Hound of Eothas was blushing, cheeks maroon thanks to her skin's shade.
Reddish hue crept between scars, fresh and old.
It looked like he had striked a chord in her. Little chime, deep inside, almost forgotten, buried under ladyship, god's demands, wailing of departed, years as mercenary.
-Uh... Thank you, eh, for... doing my hair – she cleaned her throat, trying to cover her suddenly higher voice and slight smile with the fist brought up to the lips.
Vatnir found himself grinning like a moron or the fishboy. And he didn't have any problem with that.
The water in the tub was almost painfully hot, but Vatnir actually liked it that way. At least for a while there was no cold, that ever blazing sun of Deadfire Archipelago could not make go away. Even illusion of feeling has showed up in his frostbitten toes. The most full of puss ulcers could be opened with just stronger brush of fingers.
And Brenice was with him. She was leaning comfortably against bath's cloth-covered walls, eyes closed and head bend back. One could easily imagine her purring like a lioness in her current state.
He was curled up on the opposite side from her, adjusting to the water's temperature and caught up in his primal need of being alone. His lover called such times a ice-melting.
It all was so … nice. Never during his days in the Land nor Harbinger's Watch he had felt so comfortable, accepted for who he was in reality, not in imagination of others.
The fact, that Brenice had never pushed him in everyday things, helped. Of course, in dungeons and battles she had ultimately the last word in everything, but she didn't even blink, where he – coughing, blushing and staggering – said, that he would like not eat in front of her, preferable ever. She just took such things in, calm like water in the well.
Godlike straightened his spine and legs, sighting in delight from warmth making his rheumatic pains to go away for a bit. He felt Brenice's thighs on both sides of his hips.
Women behind him slowly spread a handful of water onto his back. Wet, but still rough in touch fingers moved along edges of bones under grey skin.
-Come. I'll wash your hair – accent from Plains was thick like a velvet.
Shifting of bodies followed. The bigger horn kept man's head just over the layer of water. Warrior's calloused hands, bit softer thanks to the time spent in the bath, slowly massaged skin under his hair. It was relaxing, warm, calming. He was even a little sad, when it was over – that feeling dissipating only after their thigh embrace, his head next to her neck.
Brenice's heat burned his uncovered cheek. Godlike winced from time to time, when droplet of sweat or condensing water got into one of wounds usually protected by the mask. Warrior's hand moved up and down his scalp, keeping white hair wet and clinging to the skull.
He was dozing from the warmth and caress, when Watcher said:
-Was thinking about things you said in the Sanctum.
Glamfellen shifted to look up at her, but she just stared into the distance, jawline more pronounced than usual.
-If all this travels and fights are so much bother for you, why don't you go anyway? Why don't just leave?
Vatnir felt the same rush of adrenaline and panic as always, when someone asked him a real question. The flight instinct was almost overwhelming. He was between fit of cough and hyperventilating, jumping from one quick answer to another in his mind.
No. She deserved something more than lazy rebuttal to get her off from his sorry back. The real thing. The true thing. One of very few, that he could offer.
Priest took slow, deep breath, sucking in moist air before speaking up.
-Because... Everything ends, ja? Even... Even this – he shrugged his arms lightly. - But whatever time we have, together or just alive, I need …. I want it to be with you.
Brenice did not answer. The chamber's silence was broken only by cracking of the ship's boards. Cold was growing in glamfellen's heart.
Then Natlan slowly moved her head and smiled tenderly at him. Small wrinkles showed up in corners of her eyes.
The ice had melted, at last.
Feels, hmm.... less baroque than former pieces? IDK.
Chapter 4: Luminous Bathhouse (intermezzo)
His body seemed to not be sure, if he had understood the level of his own stress, so it used all it's tricks to communicate that. From flashes of painful heat to the stirring of bowels, he hunched, practically naked, if one didn't count the small bathing cloth.
In his mind Vatnir was mostly cursing. But there was someone in almost equal distress as him. Brenice's cheekbones were more prominent from clenching her teeth. She tried to cover up turmoil with straight posture, but eyes betrayed her. The excuses to be still in changing room was ending.
Glamfellen usually laughed on the vanity of others with all might of his half-useless lungs. When the end come, they all will look practically like him, insects and rodents eating their flesh away on the bottom of the mass grave, that is Eora. Did Ydwin's frills and laces saved her from Rymrgand?
But in case of his lover godlike was unable even to smirk because of that. There was no satisfaction in witnessing her discomfort.
Vatnir touched lightly Watcher's forearm:
-You don't have to worry about them, Duskspeaker.
-And why's that? - Brenice raised her eyebrow, still visibly nervous.
-Because you're not the one they will look at – he said, pulling aside bandages from his face.