Bonfire (October prompt for [community profile] nexus_crossings)

Feb. 11th, 2017 05:38 pm
conjuredskies: (Conjuration)
[personal profile] conjuredskies
Some months ago...

A good bonfire took time. Time to gather the wood he needed in a chilly mountain clearing. Time to inexpertly build the fire and coax it to crackling life (with only a little help from an atronach). Time to dissuade Sir Yolande’s interest when she came sniffing around his current misdeeds, and the attention his over-sized fire might draw. What in Stendarr’s name did he need so large a bonfire for, anyway? She didn’t even want to hear it excused as ‘destruction practice’.

If you must know, I’m expecting company. I’ve promised the captain some personal time together- why yes, out here. These are the Haafingar Mountains, not the Imperial Gardens. There shouldn’t be anyone lurking in the bushes…

It worked well enough to leave him undisturbed. Breton chevaliers were never much good at standing in the way of a quiet tryst, whatever the face they pulled.

He stooped to pull a bottle of pilfered brandy from the satchel, uncorking it for a sniff of the heady scent. He recalled borrowing one of these for Jim’s birthday all those months ago - not the first time, by any means, but the first to leap to mind. A reminder of what he ultimately desired here.

Talos knew what Yolande would have said if he’d told the whole truth. He stepped up to the crackling fire, the words of invocation spilling gladly from his lips, and raised the bottle to pour it out onto the sudden roar of flames.

A hand snatched it away before a drop could spill.

“Now that’s not a bad welcome!” The man beside him took a deep swig of the brandy, eyes closing in appreciation. “Ahhh. Too bad your brother’s such a dull fellow, eh? He always knows how to get his hands on the good stuff.”

He didn’t look anything special: a pale-faced Breton with scraggy brown hair and well-cut clothes (slightly wine-stained). Well-fed. The sort of fellow you’d quite expect to find in any tavern worth paying coin. You had to pay attention to notice the way his eyes sometimes flashed yellow. You needed a conjurer’s senses to catch the whiff of otherworldly magic, heady and intoxicating. The brief hint of alcohol and spices and other, more suggestive scents…

He was grinning at Felix, and Felix grinned back.

“Thank you, lord.” Felix bowed. Sanguine let out a guffaw and patted his head.

“All right already, get that staff out’ve your backside. Is this what the Legion’s making out of you? Don’t get me wrong, the uniform looks good, but I can tell you’re not putting it to best use. Eh? Eh?” His grin flashed wider, and he threw himself down onto the grass. “Now, I don’t see any party in need of my blessing. So tell me, Felix… what has you calling me up in the arse-crack of nowhere with a face like a Thalmor censor.”

Felix sat down and took the bottle passed to him. It didn’t taste quite like brandy when he drank from it, but his mind was elsewhere and you didn’t ask questions when Sanguine gave you a drink. “I need to ask your help, lord. I want the soul of a master vampire, and I fear I won’t have the strength to take on a whole nest of the creatures alone.”

Sanguine leaned back in mock surprise. “A whole vampire’s soul just for you? Now this is new. It can’t be for your precious studies, or your uptight buddies would be all over the job... I hope you’re not thinking of chatting up some other daedra.”

“No, no. I need it to impress… a mortal.”

“Someone.” The Prince’s smile widened, his eyes darkening hungrily. “A mage? A Vigilant? Some cute little noble’s daughter playing necromancer for a thrill?”

He shook his head. How much to say; how much to betray- “Much more important, my lord. He’s…”
Sanguine slapped an arm around his shoulders, voice an easy promise in Felix’s ear. The voice of a friend, a companion persuading him into a good time. “Come on, kid. You’re the one asking for my help here! Tell your good buddy Sam all about this guy you’re willing to beg for.”

He couldn’t decide, afterward, if it was the drink, or Sanguine’s jovial ribbing or Sanguine’s presence. But somewhere between the second bottle of brandy and the Winking Skeever and the revellers met on the road he told the Prince the whole story. Of becoming entangled with a space captain from another plane; of how indescribably handsome and charming and adventurous Jim was (Sanguine pressed for more details and Felix obliged whole-heartedly); of needing to demonstrate his use to Jim; of wanting so very badly to impress, even now their affair was a fact and not an implication…

Of the undead knight his captain calls a friend, and taking up the task of bargaining with two sentient, soul-devouring axes.

He did remember how Sanguine smiled when he was done. “Oh, that’s good. That’s a good one. All for this boy, eh?”

“All to keep him,” Felix said.

The Prince laughed, and didn’t seem to stop as he took another swig of lavawhiskey. “That’s why I always liked you. Felix. We both know how to gain by giving.” The points of his teeth showed when he grinned, speaking again before Felix could think that through. “If that’s your heart’s desire, my friend, then you can trust in me. It’s a deal.

When he woke on the floor of Sir Daimbert’s tent some hours past dawn, it was harder than usual to recall the details of their meeting. But one memory remained and would not leave: the sheer low pleasure of the Prince’s voice speaking eager promises into his ears, only hungry to be allowed fulfil them.

Call to me, and you’ll have everything you ask.

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Felix Caelus

September 2017

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