Apr 04, 2020 10:46 PM
leareth meets serg in post mage wars valdemar
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Needless to say, he very much does not want to go on the ship. He’s not the same Lionstar who ran away, and he really doubts he could successfully impersonate the teenager, even if he wanted to be trapped with Clan k’Leshya. Which he doesn’t.

“Maybe I can fight them and get away,” he whispers quickly to Sakshemar. “There are more of them but I have magic- oh.” He should check if the party also has a mage before he starts throwing levinbolts. Galling as it is, they would likely be better trained than he is right now.

It’s not much of a plan. He doesn’t actually want to hurt the strangers.

 

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The party does have a mage; it's the one who stole some of Sakshemar's food.

Sakshemar, meanwhile, is trying to talk them out of kidnapping his friend. It doesn't seem like he's having much luck. To them he is—at the moment—just another teenager.

"They have more people on ship," he reports to Lionstar in an undertone. "Fight maybe bad idea."

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Lionstar’s mind keeps cycling frantically through the options: fight (and almost certainly lose, not to mention hurt people), run (and be chased and likely caught), let them take him and attempt an escape later, just go along with it and try to pretend he’s the original Lionstar (and who knows what they’ll do if he’s found out...)

”...I’m going to try to run,” he hisses to Sakshemar. “Can you make a distraction - or, if you have any other ideas...”

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He winces, but then shakes his head slightly. "I have idea. I fix it," he murmurs. "All good."

And he turns back to the Haighlei party and—does something to his posture. It's not quite just that he straightens up, because he wasn't exactly slouching before; it's that he's standing more... precisely, with more careful attention to exact position and movement. The cadence of his voice changes, too, when he addresses them sharply. His phrasing seems more elaborate, almost ritualized. He introduces himself by name.

At first they're just confused, but within a few seconds they're treating him with deference. The one who stole food from them drops to his knees to plead forgiveness. Sakshemar handles that with ritualized phrasing, too. He seems to have taken complete control of the conversation.

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All Lionstar can do is stare. What? It’s as though s different person has stepped into Sakshemar’s skin. 

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Whatever he's doing, it takes a while, and doesn't seem to afford him the opportunity to pause and translate. Occasionally a word goes by that Lionstar recognizes, though, and given the slow pace of the proceedings this is enough to put together a vague sketch of what's going on, if he's paying attention.

The topic of conversation does more or less seem to be whether or not these people are going to take Lionstar to White Gryphon, and whether or not they're going to tell the people of White Gryphon that they saw him, and, as a side note, possibly also whether the mage who stole a bit of their food is going to be reported to the authorities and lose his Gift and his position in the priesthood. Sakshemar is on the side of none of these things happening. The strangers, particularly the mage, are coming around to his point of view.

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Lionstar is starting to be seriously impressed. And confused. He’s going to have a lot of questions once this is resolved - which it looks like it will be, in his favor. Eventually.

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The exchange concludes, finally, with the strangers bowing to Sakshemar and then going away.

He waits until they are well out of sight before he sits down on the ground, relaxes his strange posture, and puts his head in his hands. He looks exhausted.

"Important person face is so bad," he mutters.

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Lionstar sits down next to him and puts his arm over Sakshemar’s shoulders. “It is over now,” he says in his best reassuring voice, which honestly isn’t that good. “You can stop. ...What was that? They danced for you like show-dogs getting up on their hind feet.” He realizes a moment later that Sakshemar may not be fluent enough to catch the idiom. “Er, they took you very seriously. You - your father - you are that important?”

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"Father that important," he agrees. "And... priest, he know he should not steal. But... Important person, sometimes, not think other person is... real? So he take food from us, because strange people with strange camp in strange land, not real. And child of gryphon people with Haighlei friend, not important, still not real. But my father, very real. Priest know he do wrong now, real wrong to child of real person. Very afraid I tell father. Other priest maybe not take Gift for small thing like this, but if father very angry, maybe do."

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“This troubles you?” Lionstar says, sympathetically. “It feels wrong.”

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He sighs, leaning into him a little.

"Feels..." A pause, considering his words. "I not more real than you. Both person. Same. Haighlei not more real than gryphon person. Important person not more real than not. All same. All person, all with feelings inside. And... maybe, if he just afraid, make sense. Important person is more danger. But he feel—bad! Feel—wrong-by-gods feeling! Guilty! Only when he know I important man's son! Only when he know I real! Is... stupid."

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“It is very stupid,” Lionstar agrees, squeezing Sakshemar’s shoulders. “Not logical. Inconsistent. People are...all just people. As you say, the feelings inside - that is the part that matters. All the people are lights in the world.”

He stares past Sakshemar at the swaying leaves of the nearby trees. “This mage is not the first to grant greater moral worth to those in power, to feel guilt only when criticized by one with authority, but he is wrong to do so.”

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"I not good person," he says. "Not feel guilt. Not care if wrong by gods. But—know all people real. If hurt someone, real hurt. Kill servant's child, real death. Servant grieve his son, real grief. I know. Important person feeling not different, life not different."

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“Then I am not a good person either,” Lionstar says quietly. “I could not care less what the gods think of my choices, and I consider guilt to rarely be pointful. But...the joy and suffering of living people is real. That is what I care about. Not some god’s conception of virtue.” He almost spits the words.

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He smiles a little.

"You good friend," he says. "Not care about gods. Understand all people real. I glad you friend."

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Lionstar takes a deep breath. 

"You left all of that behind," he says slowly. "Because it sickens you, no?" He twists to look Sakshemar in the eye. "You... It caused you distress, to wear that face again. You did not have to do that. But you did. For me." 

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"—yes," he agrees, sounding a little surprised. "You not want go back. You scared. I know how fix it, I do. Distress, yes, but—important. So do."

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Sakshemar keeps surprising him. Lionstar is confusedwhich is a problem on his end, really, it means there's a discrepancy between the world and his head. That he's missing something.

He remembers. Peace and stillness, rolling over him like a wave. Comfort, safety, quiet contentment. The deep okayness that Sakshemar had to want him to feel – and had to feel himself, in order to project it. 

He trusts me.

And, empirically, Lionstar trusts him as well. He let Sakshemar train his Gifts by meddling directly with his emotions; there isn't anybody with whom Ma'ar would have felt safe letting down his guard like that. 

"Sakshemar," he says. "I – there are things I ought to tell you. About my life, before. Things I should have said sooner." It's still a terrifying prospect; his chest feels tight already. 

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He smiles a little, and nods, and puts a comforting hand on Lionstar's shoulder. "I listen."

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Lionstar can't bring himself to meet Sakshemar's eyes. He has to be willing to take risks, he tells himself. To gamble, because the payoff of having a genuine ally will be so, so high, and the cost, if it goes badly, is – well, he'll be no worse off than he was when he woke up in the forest. 

He's also unsure where to start. What if Sakshemar doesn't believe him, and thinks he's insane? 

He grits his teeth. "I am not really Lionstar," he says. "I was...someone else, before. When I was young, I invented a spell that I hoped would, well, allow me not to die." His throat tightens. "Dark magic. Blood power. I did it, I judged it worthwhile then because the world is – everything was so broken, someone had to do something and, and no one else was, and I – I needed more time."

He closes his eyes; it's stupid how close he is to tears, he doesn't even know why. "It worked. I...died, and then I came back, to this body. The day you found me, I murdered him. The child who was the real Lionstar. I took his skin to wear." He shudders. "I did not mean to. When I devised this method, I thought perhaps I might share. But I – it was instinct." 

It's hard to speak. "I made a vow," Lionstar forces out. "That I would not give up. Not ever, until the world is fixed. That is why I did this. But the cost... I would understand, if you think it is too high, and no longer wish to be my friend." 

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Sakshemar hugs him.

"Still friend," he says. "Good friend. Good you. I say before, I not good person. Not care if good by gods. Not care if friend good by gods. Make mistake, still friend. Do blood magic, still friend."

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Lionstar relaxes. A little.

”Thank you,” he says. “There is more. Do you know of a war that happened, far from here, some years ago? Clan k’Leshya fled this war and that is how White Gryphon came to be here.”

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"Only little know. War, big, do something to magic, gryphon people run away."

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“It was a war between a powerful mage called Urtho, who was the Archmage of Tantara and the Kaled’a’in people, and another mage called Ma’ar, of the kingdom of Predain,” Lionstar says. “Of whom Clan k’Leshya are part. I assume they fled here to escape the damage.”

He looks down at the dirt. “I was - I am - Ma’ar. Urtho...sacrificed himself, his life...to destroy his own fortress when my forces were drawing near, and he unleashed a weapon I knew nothing of in retaliation, which I assume is what killed me and contributed to the destruction.” The memories are too hazy to be sure; his death was sudden, he thinks, with little warning. Just long enough to know he had lost, and be afraid.

His eyes are stinging now. “Urtho was my teacher. I never meant it to end this way, but it did. My actions. My mistakes. Led to his death. Might as well say that I killed him.”

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