Aiden isn’t given to drinking much. He grew up in a place where alcohol was a luxury and even after he’d settled in Tolkeen it wasn’t something he indulged in often. During the war there’d been neither time nor inclination and during his time on the run he’d had other things on his mind. A lot of other things.
It helps that he’s not especially fond of wine which is most of what the local drink is. Vodka is not something he’s had much exposure to prior to meeting Aliana, but one of the things he likes about it is that it can be satisfactorally had in small amounts. Hence the small drink he’s pouring now.
Well, pair of small drinks.
The night is wearing on in Vesper but the lights are still bright. They always are. The city is still pretty lively but from up in Aliana’s favorite lodgings the noise fades away, leaving just the sight of the skyline cast in the neon glow of the ley-lamps. The Senate building is visible from here, swathed in alternating shadow and regal purple spotlights while the market away to the right buzzes with oranges and yellows and reds and the distant harbor twinkles with more muted blues and greens.
It’s quite a sight. Aiden himself is still glowing golden. He almost seems to match, though the tones of his light are richer and somehow warmer.
There are a few lines of red that decorate Aiden’s torso, but those don’t glow. Most will be gone before tomorrow night. A few will linger a day or so more. Aiden heals like any other human.
There’s the soft rustle of fabric, and a few moments later Aiden can feel the heat of Aliana at his back before her fingers skate along his arm on the way to collect her glass. “Still awake. Guess I didn’t wear you out enough.” The teasing in Aliana’s tone doesn’t hold the mocking it often does. “I’ll have to try harder.”
Aiden chuckles low and leans back just a bit. “Be my guest…” He wouldn’t mind the trying or at least he thinks. Aliana, though, seems to have temporarily given up warning him against saying such things. Or perhaps figured that he’s had enough chances to put some distance between them and doesn’t seem to be taking any of them.
Once the blonde has her glass the psychic turns to regard her. “You’re still awake too, though.” The unvoiced question is ‘is something on your mind’? He doesn’t quite go as far as asking it. Things are often on Aliana’s mind and if by chance nothing is at the moment he doesn’t necessarily want to pull them back. The things they both have to think about are often difficult if not unpleasant.
“I don’t sleep much, generally.” Aliana admits. “Old habits. Besides… You’re a bit bright for a nightlight.” She stretches out one of the fingers holding her glass so she can trace over one of the golden lines along his skin.
“By the way. You’re a terrible monk.” The blonde chastises him while taking a drink, watching him over the rim of her glass. Her eyes have gone back to normal, lit only by that golden glow of his.
Old habits. That’s interesting. Aiden’s used to working on short sleep, but he doesn’t generally do so these days. He’d wonder if the not sleeping had something to do with the Reaper and its side effects but it sounds like it goes back further than that.
When Aliana traces that golden line the gold gets a bit brighter where she touches. Aiden watches the effect. It’s strange to watch his own body do something that he has so little… input over. It just happens when he feels things and he’s human so he feels things a lot. “Well, not with them brightening every time you do that, I suppose…” He replies his tone teasing a bit.
“I’m not a monk…” The psychic mutters as he sips his Vodka. It //is// true that he trained a monastery, though not many people know that. Less because it’s a secret and more because Aiden just doesn’t talk about it much. It’s not like he’s had anyone really to talk //to// until recently.
“Saves me from having to tell you to keep the lights on.” Aliana says, the words deceptively innocent. The glint in her eyes is anything but.
As to not being a monk? “You trained at a monestary, right? If the students aren’t monks, wouldn’t it just be a school?” Her teasing is somewhat sidetracked as her attention catches on one of the not-so-minor badges that Aiden has collected tonight. She reaches over to touch the small scabs where scar and light meet and that she set her teeth into. “Sometimes, I forget that it’s not you.”
“It’s a monastery becasue the teachers are monks…” Aiden starts and trails off when Aliana turns her attention to those glowing lines of his, particularly where she punctured them.
“I’m not sure how much longer that’s going to be true. They’re spreading.” And they are. Down his back. Over his shoulders. Down his arms. The progress is slow but noteable. The ends of the glowing ‘calligraphy’ are now creeping toward his elbows and his back is more than half covered with them. They seem to particularly loop around the spine. Where else they might be, unseen, is another good question. If they’ve been growing along his skin, have they also been burrowing even more into his head?
“It’s easy for me to forget it’s there. I hardly notice it in my head anymore.” The extra mind, he means. It helps that the thing basically never talks. About the only time he would notice it is if Aliana gave him an order and he disobeyed.
“I did some digging in the Academy Library… but no one there knows much about these things.” Which figures. Aliana had noted that the secrets of them are kept pretty secret to maintain monopoly on them for whomever makes them. Also, understandings of Splugorth magi-science are pretty patchy outside of Splynn…
Aliana Knight gives a faint frown as he mentions it in his head. She’s often careful about what she says, so things aren’t phrased as an order, even if she expects she’ll do as she asks. If she’s going to hurt him, she wants to do it purposefully. Speaking of hearing though…
“The music. Is that what it sounds like to you?” Aliana asks, brow furrowed a bit. The music was… nice. And not really what she’d expect of a Splugorth device.
Aliana gives a soft sigh as his research has turned up… well, not much. “I need to see if I can find someone that has more information on that. It’s been mostly… benign,” If you don’t count the enforcing of Aliana’s will. “But…” But who knows what it’s doing to him.
“It did, yeah. Wind chimes… or something like that.” It’s actually kind of amazing Aiden heard that given how worked up he was at the time. He glances down briefly at his side. He’d ‘bled’ some kind of glowing golden fluid and it had ‘dripped’ patterns down his flank. They’ve wiped off mostly, but some of the residue is still there. At first he’d thought they just looked like more ‘lines’ which had struck him as odd but on reflection, it might have looked a bit like writing. Really elegant writing.
“I’m starting to suspect that anyone who does know about them on this world is ensconced safely on Atlantis.” And who knows what she’d have to pay for the information. They might be able to find that information elsewhere but without a place to start finding it would be blind luck.
“Anyway we have… other concerns.” He glances over to the corner where she keeps her sword and very briefly there’s a flash of gold in his eyes. And then he shakes his head and puts a hand on his temple. “Ooooh… ow… what the hell?”
“I meant usually. You said you ‘hear’ it. Is it usually music?” Aliana asks, finishing off her vodka and setting the glass aside. While she often drinks, she’s rarely drunk.
She shakes her head in disagreement when he says they have other things on their plate. They do, but… “If we keep pushing it off something could be terribly wrong and by the time we notice it’s too late.” She seems about to say more, likely to argue with him when his eyes flash and he’s grabbing for his temple. She reaches out to support him, questions writ across her face.
The pain has Aiden stooping, leaning on the counter he’d been standing in front of. It takes him a solid minute or so to shake it off. “Ow… I’m okay… I’m… alright. Felt like someone was driving an ice pick into my head.”
He glances up, blinking. The sword is given a second look and then he looks over to Aliana. There’s another brief gold glow and Aiden shakes his head again. “Seeing… auras? Astral presence? You’re surrounded by purples and blacks and icey blues… And there’s something… in your shadow.”
He shakes his head one more time as if trying to clear it. “It’s… gone. When I looked at the sword for a moment I thought I could see something. Maybe someone. It was too fast. There’s nothing there now, though.”
“Your eyes are glowing again.” Aliana notes in a quiet murmur, reaching out to touch his chin so she can turn his head to try to look a them better. “Still gold.” She brushes one along his throat briefly. “Even with the pain.” She’d have expected a shift towards red, especially with as long as it took him to shake it off.
“They lit up just before you grabbed your head. And then again when you looked at me. So I don’t think you’re seeing things.” A pause. “I don’t think you’re imagining things.” She corrects herself. “And normally I’d ask if that’s a psychic power you might have dveloped…” But given the link to the lightshow he’s been rigged up with… The two seem to be connected.
“Well… you already know I’m a bit of a sensitive.” Aiden massages his temple a bit. There’s still a bit of residual pain but it’s subsiding rapidly. Interestingly enough his colors //aren’t// changing. “But I’ve never been that kind. I can sense other minds and lock them out. Or dull them. But auras? Never done it.”
Which doesn’t mean that it isn’t a psychic power he’s developed. Or is developing. That’s a possibility. Though connected with that gold light? The eyelarch has to be involved somehow.
“I was just… wondering to myself how the sword could be affecting you like it is. I know the basics. It’s magic, it’s the nature of its magic to transform its bearer but… I saw something. A figure. Like the sword was casting a shadow. And then lines. Black lines flowing from the sword toward me.” He pauses. “No that’s not right. In my direction but…”
He looks right up at Aliana’s eyes. “Toward you, I think. The black in your aura I saw had trails flowing off it. Or maybe… flowing into it.”
Aliana Knight doesn’t look terribly surprised. A bit grim, perhaps. She nods. “I’m bound to it, so that would make sense. And while it speaks to me sometimes I’ve never really thought of it as a… person. It’s more feeling and echoes of things I’ve heard or said than a conversation.” It seems Aliana has some familiarity of what it might be like with that eyelarch in his head.
The blonde moves over to pour Aiden a bit more vodka. “Hopefully you won’t start having visions and passing out like Slaine.” Which… is a bit unkind towards Slaine. The Mystic’s never passed out… has she?
Visions would be bad, Aiden has a feeling. “Hopefully not…” The smile is a bit rueful.
“I think you were going to tell me about how if we ignore this, we might not notice a change until it was too late…” The eyelarch seems to have rather made her point for her. “It’s chimes, yes, in answer to your question. Music. I hear them at the edge of awareness sometimes. Or in my sleep. They’re kind of soothing. Though now I’m wondering if that should worry me.”
He pauses to take another sip of Vodka and look over the blonde curiously. “I wonder why now… and why with you?” He wonders what set that whole thing off. If it’s reacting somehow to his emotions that might make sense. She evokes some pretty strong ones in him.
“I’m not sure why //I’d// hear them.” Aliana notes with a frown. “If it could ‘work remotely’, why go to the trouble of putting it into someone?” Partly she’s just thinking outloud. “And ‘soothing’ isn’t something I’d put down as something a Splugorth or their minions is interested in.” Aliana notes wryly, though concern still tugs at her expression with a frown.
“Maybe it’s annoyed I bit it?” Since Aliana did that when she bit Aiden. “It tasted like honey…” Maybe most of the things, being too much work to control are served as delicacies on Atlantean tables…
“Maybe. But I’ve never really gotten anything from it like emotion. Not even when it was hurting me.” Aiden cants his head a bit at the news that it tasted sweet. Maybe it is food.
“I wonder…” He opens first one drawer, then another looking for something and finally coming up with a paring knife. “Alright… here goes…”
The psychic delicately slices into one of the glowing lines on his right upper arm. The cut doesn’t have to go very deep and shortly a small trickle of gold fluid spill out onto his arm. And right on cue, there are the chimes.
“I think… I think the liquid is making that noise.” It’s evaporating remarkably quickly, just like before, wafting off him like golden steam. This time though, perhaps because she’s focused on it, Aliana will sense the power in it. The fluid is carrying energy. Psychic energy. From Aiden.
Aliana Knight leans a hip against a counter, arms crossing as she watches Aiden rummage around. When he comes up with the knife, she quirks a brow but she doesn’t try to stop him.
At his hypothesis she cocks her head to the side. “So it might actually be audible, and not just in our heads?” Though the earlier chimes Aiden mentions //were// likely just in his head, as no one else has commented on hearing them before. “I could try a Tongues spell…” But that doesn’t always work on more.. esoteric languages. If it is the creature riding Aiden trying to communicate.
Feeling the potential power in the liquid though, she straightens and steps over closer. Reaching to touch the slow seep of golden light she speaks with that thoughtful frown she’s prone to. She glances up to him. “Do you feel any drain on your psychic abilities? Because you’re… leaking. Psychically speaking.”
Aiden concentrates for a moment and nods slowly. “Yes. Small. Almost impossible to feel.” The liquid on Aliana’s fingers is slightly sticky and when it evaporates off her fingertip it leaves a residue that catches the light if she angles her hand just right. It tastes sweet as ever. And it tastes rather distinctly of Aiden.
“So… this thing is… siphoning off my energy… and putting it into it’s… blood? What is this stuff for?” He pauses as Aliana offers to try a tongues spell. “Do they even talk. I was under the impression that most Splugorth tools like this were kind of animals of a sort.” He pauses. “If it’s gathering up my power… I wonder if it would react at all to yours. Magic and psychic energies are sort of related, after all.”
“By our powers combined we’re… a Mystic.” Aliana says dryly, and somewhat distractedly as she moves over to turn on a light so she can inspect the residue on her fingertips.
“Yes, they’re not usually sentient beings.” Aliana agrees. “Of course, they also tend to set the bar for ‘animal’ higher than most.” As in, they tend to regard beings as animals that others might feel are more people. “So it could just be barking at you for cutting on it.” Given that the creature can cause Aiden pain though, if it objected Aliana would have expected it to use punitive actions.
At Aiden’s suggestion… or was it just a question? She nods for him to sit down, reaching for the small blade as she moves to his side. “Hopefully the answer isn’t ‘like oil and water’.” Bringing the blade up she makes a small cut near the heel of her palm and, lifting Aiden’s arm up, focuses her power into her blood as it drips down over the leaking golden cut on Aiden’s arm.
Really. So unhygenic.
The touch of Aliana’s blood on the golden fluid produces an instant effect. The gold darkens rapidly, going to a purple-black that rapidly spreads up Aiden’s arm. The psychic’s eyes widen and he takes in a sharp breath as the entire ‘network’ of lines across him turns that color. His eyes briefly glow the same, if somewhat darkly.
“I’d say that did something…” All of Aiden’s hair is standing on end and his heart is beating a rapid tattoo. The purple begins to fade, though fade isn’t the right word. The gold begins to appear at the edges of the lines and spreads inward toward the back his neck, making it look as if the eyelarch is ‘drinking’ the purple all into it’s central location.
Aliana Knight goes very still, pulling her hand away so that no more of her blood mixes with.. well, not really ‘his’. She looks at him sharply, taking in the quick, shallow breath and the fast pulse of his heart she can feel from where she holds his arm. His eyes are very wide, and he looks a bit shaken. Not that she can blame him. “Given that the glow seems to be directly tied to that thing, the fact your eyes flare is a bit worrying.” She admits. She can guess he’s mostly OK… “Did you feel anything?” There was //certainly// a visual component there.
She doesn’t comment on the way it looked like poison, tainting that warm gold.
“Yes…” Aiden’s voice is a little shakey but the blonde shifter can tell it’s not shakey with pain. “Felt… alive. Like every nerve was on fire with sensation. Like everything I’d ever lived before was some kind of pale imitation of a dream. Just… an incredible rush.”
The psychic takes a moment to steady himself and looks back down. Even there’s a bit of blue creeping into the gold but his light is still mostly golden. “That chiming. It got louder in my head for a moment.” It certainly hadn’t gotten louder out where Aliana could hear it so that might be another indication that the eyelarch was directly affected by that somehow.
It takes a moment for Aiden to come down from that rush. After a few deep breaths though he frowns slightly. “It… turned the light purple. Same color as the energy I’ve seen around your sword. But //your// power is usually blue…”
Aliana Knight looks from Aiden over to the Reaper, frowning. The idea of a Runeweapon and a Splugorth creation getting all close and cozy… Not a great recipie. “I hate not knowing things.” Aliana mutters, scowling a bit. Usually her frown is thoughtful. Not so, now.
“I’m beginning to think we need to run down that half-demon that kidnapped you and beat him until he talks.” Aliana says with a low growl underlying her words.
“You won’t have any objections from me on that one…” Aiden knows it could be trouble. Even if he isn’t on Atlantis he does seem to have contacts. The fierce frown from Aliana has him drawing a little closer and draping an arm over her shoulders.
“I’ll be careful in the meantime. Try not to get cut up and bleed all my power out. And try not to get pumped full of magic…” Since now he knows that fluid is somehow reactive to it. “Not that I expect any other mages to be bleeding on me. Doesn’t seem to have done anything other than give me a buzz…”
So it should be fine, right? Nothing else could possibly come of this…
“You might want to be careful crossing leylines or wandering into any nexuses.” Aliana notes with a frown as well. “I wonder if it’s just if you’re uh… actively leaking.”
The blonde seems mildly amused as he drapes his arm over her, leaning in to him. Certainly it’s the first time he’s really initiated any casual contact with her. “I’d say it should be fine, as nothing’s happened so far…” But things seem to be changing. And change is dangerous.
*** OOC Time: Sat Apr 08 07:55:09 2017 ***
“Given how lousy Vesper is with ley lines, we’ll probably find out pretty quick if I have to be… cut in order to absorb it.” Maybe it requires direct contact. Or maybe he’s going to light up like a Christmas tree every time he gets close to anything too magical. He’s not turning purple now, but mages don’t tend to ‘radiate’ magic. They tend to absorb it.
“How do you want to proceed?” They’re very close to heading into Vanished Point to try to locate Dante, or at least to follow the only clue they have about his whereabouts. However if Aliana wants to pursue this instead, her point was rather neatly made. Ordinarily Aiden would strongly argue for prioritizing Dante but that’s her choice.
“You should put that on your To Do Fairly Soon list.” Aliana notes. “See both if you start reacting to ley lines when it’s open or not.” Because it’s not just a normal cut. It’s a cut of that new system he’s got integrating itself into him. “And I’d avoid any stealthy jobs.” She adds dryly, idly tracing the sweep of one line, before doing that thoughtful frown thing at it. “The pattern looks… almost familiar.” She says with the trace of annoyance that comes from feeling like she should remember something… and failing.
“I think we need to put it off just a bit given your… development.” Because this definitely seems like a new thing. She arches a brow at him. “I have to wonder, if you’ve been back-burnering this to avoid finding out something uncomfortable? Prioritizing my search over yours?”
Aiden glances out the window briefly toward Vanished Point and then looks back to Aliana. “I haven’t been particularly eagar to find out what this thing is doing to me…” And, unvoiced, to an extent he wonders how much it matters if he knows. They can’t remove it. So he’s stuck with it.
“But I really do want to help you, if I can. And I don’t want your lead to slip away because of me.” Trails going cold are frustrating, Aiden knows from other experience. And potentially ruinous given the circumstances.
Aiden sighs. “I don’t want you to lose yourself. You’ve fought very hard to keep it.”
The fact that the pattern looks familiar to Aliana draws a questioning look. But since she can’t remember he doesn’t press. Not yet. Though these are the times he wishes he was a telepath. They have some good tricks for remembering things.
“And part of keeping me is not ignoring everyone else’s problems and focusing on my own.” Aliana points out before smirking slightly. “I only do that most of the time.” Because most people just don’t impact her emotional grid enough to manage to care about them. How much of that is the demonic influence and how much is part of her upbringing, it’s hard to say.
“Let’s try to get an idea of what the changes are, so we minimitze how much they’ll surprise us while we’re out there. Then we’ll see about folloowing up on Dante and keep an eye out for those that might have information on the way in.” Chenan was a half demon, and he clearly had a pretty working knowledge of the thing. Other demons might know as well and where they’re heading? Lots of demons.
Aiden nods slowly. “Doc in Saren’s Rest won’t be able to handle that. So that means a trip to the Restorium. Even if they don’t know what the changes do they should at least be able to give us an idea of what the changes //are//. Though it’s… possible there might be a slight hitch in that. Because these devices are slaver devices, if they know that…”
Aiden trails off and lets Aliana finish the thought. He certainly hasn’t ‘outed’ her to anyone in Vesper but lines of questioning at the Restorium might get awkward and potentially tricky.
“The other option is to get checked out in Dogwood. They’d have even less of an idea what they were looking at, though, and they don’t like psychics.” Or shifters, for that matter. Or K’nert, if he deigns to show up. Speaking of K’nert…
“I wonder if that dratted imp knows anything…”
“Aaaand both would recognize the Atlantis slave tag.” Aliana says with a sigh. And while being an escaped slave isn’t likely a big deal to either city, they probably //can// pull his ‘registered owner’ off of it since well, that’s one of the main things the tag is for. She rubs at her eyes in frustration. “A competant ‘independant’ doc isn’t on my ready list of contacts…”
Aiden nods again. Slavery is illegal in both Vesper and Dogwood and Atlantean slavers are hated for a wide variety of reasons not the least of which are their occasional raids to test the mid Atlantic powers’ defenses. “Nor mine, really. I can ask around. See if Ghost or Slaine know someone.”
The psychic makes a face as an idea occurs to him. “I suppose it is technically possible to go to Atlantis. You’re a citizen and I’m…” He trails off. “Don’t know how dangerous that might be or whether that will even get us what we want to know.”
“We could.” Aliana admits. “There’s some significant interest in getting you back into the fighting pits, and I worry that’ll come up as leverage for the information we want. And I’m not much of a power in a place that likes to play power games.” There’s a pause. “It’s the most likely source of information.” That’s a truth she doesn’t deny.
The shifter can’t help a bit of a smirk. “I’m //sure// Slaine knows someone… But I’m guessing you haven’t told her about the whole lightshow bit and she’s as curious as a cat.” Pause. “I’m surprised it hasn’t killed her yet.”
“She is. I told her it was a ‘souvenir’ from Atlantis. She put together the rest.” He didn’t, specifically, tell her about Aliana but she might know. Curiosity does that. “I’m a bit surprised by that as well. She’s certainly quite the trouble magnet…”
The for now grey eyed psycchic gives Aliana a gentle squeeze and lets out a sigh. “So many options and none of them good. Why does this feel so familiar?” He asks wryly. Not that he expects an answer.
After a short pause he glances down at her. “Did it affect you in any way, other than cutting your hand?”
Aliana Knight looks down at her hand, opening and closing it a bit. “Not that I’ve noticed… But that makes sense, I just dripped all over you.” She notes with the usual snarky sort of edge to her comment. Then she arches a brow at him, blue eyes glinting a bit. “I’d should probably be more worried about the… tasting…”
Right. Because they have no idea what it actually //is//. Or what it does. Only that it has Aiden’s psychic power in it. Though Aliana seemed to have access to that before, so it’s probably not hurting her. He… hopes.
“Well with any luck that hasn’t done anything either…” There’s not a whole lot of conviction in his voice. Aiden’s luck very often runs the other way. So that’s perhaps understandable. “I’ll ask around in the morning. The city may never sleep but Ghost and Slaine do. I think. Speaking of sleep, are you going to get some?”
“If your nightlight impression has calmed down.” Aliana says with a nod, moving back towards the bed and tugging him after her. “Vesper is a big place.” For Rifts Earth. “There’s got to be some people here with some real knowledge of Splugorth devices.” Even if they don’t advertise the fact.