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Author Topic: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You  (Read 147 times)

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Offline Devesh Acharya

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If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« on: Nov 05, 18, 07:24:20 PM »
The sky beyond the mountains made those sacred peaks seem as though they were glowing. A faint indigo halo was only now beginning to materialize there. The beginning of the morning was apparent, but not yet so much so that the nascent signs of the sun were stronger than the torches that lined the path away from the lower temple.

The small group that accompanied Devesh had departed with him, a mix of escorts and acolytes mostly. With night retreating, Prince Acharya left his temple in the capable hands of other Priestesses. The strongest and most important rites had been conducted and now he was free to rest. The walk back to the main house was always a pleasant one. The rock-strewn hills sloped gracefully toward his destination, guiding his steps. The night air still gusted enough to snap the red pennants overhead but it was a welcome chill and would make the prepared bath all the more ideal.

His companions listened quietly as Devesh spoke to one of the newer attendants regarding the nature of service to Mother Night and the intricacies thereof. The two had been going back and forth for an hour now, Devesh gladly feeding these hungry minds. The stone bridge that crossed to his home was already underfoot when Devesh's words faded and his pace stalled. Both he and one of the escorts had the same reaction, both pausing and turning their faces toward the temple at their backs except that their eyes rested higher on the horizon. Absently, at first, Devesh lifted a hand to rest on the shoulder of a Priestess among their number. Tearing his eyes from the mountains, he brought his placid gaze to meet hers.

"Perhaps you could take up from here, Lady Amara," he implored respectfully. The Priestess nodded with a small smile and lifted her arms to corral the bevy toward the house as she picked up where Devesh had left off. Reluctantly, the group broke away, leaving Devesh and one escort alone on the bridge. The guard was watching him now, brow furrowed with a touch of apprehension as he waited for instruction. Devesh chewed his cheek, his thoughts remaining silent as he considered the sense that he had of the entity that had breached his sanctuary uninvited.

Soon, the two of them were alighting from the Winds, sandaled feet scraping a worn but intricately carved landing pad high in the mountains. Padmalaya Estate was far below, forever away it seemed from this remote shrine. The ledges that surrounded the entrance to the upper temple were narrow, the rock sharp and slippery with frost. Apart from the landing pad, there was little on the exterior to announce the presence of anything at all within the angled face of the mountain. The pad itself was kept hidden from sight. It wasn't that no one was to know of this place, yet it did remain largely a secret. Away from all else, this was Devesh's sanctum and few knew it. Fewer still knew how to reach it and even fewer could pass through the rough-hewn entryway and not trigger the traps that lay in wait for such an unplanned visitor.

Offline Vihaan Dara

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #1 on: Nov 05, 18, 07:56:51 PM »
Vihaan didn't remember having made the choice to come to the upper temple. Had he been more himself, he likely never would have encroached into such a sacred place uninvited. Rather, unattended. Devesh had made it clear that Vihaan was welcome here, but the warlord wasn't sure that either of them had expected him to show up unannounced like this, and at such an impolite hour. The part of him that was still cognizant of how inconsiderate he was being recalled quite clearly how Devesh had described having a connection to this place. Surely he'd know someone was here. Surely he'd be pulled from whatever he'd been doing, whether early rites or sleep or other things. But that voice, that one that was concerned with infringing on a man who'd been nothing but kind and gracious to him, was but one thread of thought within the veritable maelstrom which gripped his soul. He was so distraught, so pained and unsettled that he couldn't feel any of it, just yet. He moved as though walking through water, every limb seeming to drag heavily through an atmosphere unnaturally weighted by tragedy. He was mostly numb still, having descended into a kind of shock that only let him vaguely feel the despair that lurked just on the other side of that protective veil of anesthesia.

When he came back to himself, he was on his knees on the cold stone of the temple's interior. His arms and clothes were still covered in soil and dust, and...

He closed his eyes rather than naming the rust-colored stains on his tunic, his slacks. Sounds came back to him. Screams. Worse, the tortured moans in the wake of the collapse in the tunnels. He'd tried to stop it, had bled his Jewels so dry that even taking the Winds to the temple afterwards had risked shattering him. It hadn't been enough. None of them had been enough.

Vihaan leaned his head back and opened his eyes. High overhead, the cave's ceiling soared as high as the cathedrals he'd seen pictures of from other lands. Here there were no stained glass works of art, only ageless formations of rocks bearing witness to his pain. The soft trickle of water somewhere hidden nearby was the only choir to comfort him. He knew he needed to touch the ground, he needed to break the caul and weep and cry out and bleed his pain out here, where the Darkness would hold him. But he feared that moment, feared the weight of the reality he didn't yet feel strong enough to accept.

In that breathless moment, he feared death less. Had the Darkness chosen to swallow him up whole then, it would have been a mercy.

He couldn't say when that other soul arrived, and no longer felt like the only creature buried here in this hidden crypt, this cathedral of stone. The awareness dawned on him slowly, but it brought with it a new sort of ache. Vihaan didn't try to guess who it might be. It could be only one, and the knowledge of his presence both saved Vihaan and shamed him mightily. He simultaneously needed his Priest with a desperation he'd never known, and burned with horror at the thought of having called that holy creature here to witness him like this.

Vihaan tried to gather himself, tried to push to his feet. Uncoordinated, at first he only succeeded in putting his palms on the ground. The cold stung him through the scrapes on his hands, and it drew an oddly clear sense of focus on how disheveled he must look just now. That shame burned hotter, and this time it did push him to his feet, though he was not steady as he should have been. He wanted to ask for help. The words pressed themselves to his tongue, his soul begged his lips to part. He could not make the words sound, even so. He was lost, too lost to do anything but stand there, a man on the verge of broken with no voice left to him.

Offline Devesh Acharya

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #2 on: Nov 05, 18, 09:13:57 PM »
Vihaan. Devesh's inner voice didn't recite the name, didn't have to. Lord Dara's presence washed over the Priest-Prince like the deluge of water from a freshly broken dam. Devesh leaned forward and braced himself as though those psychic winds were real and whipping around him as he stood on the mountain ledge. His face contorted to match the grimace that agony painted with his mouth. Suffering exploded from the narrow passage that led into the temple, buffering about like a thousand bats breaking for the night.

Devesh's guard moved out in front of him, both to defend and investigate, but Devesh rose up behind him and touched suddenly weary fingers to the other man's back calling him to peace. "A friend is within, good soldier. A friend." The second time he said it, his voice had become a whisper as he stared reverently toward the place where he could feel Vihaan's heart breaking. Straightening, Devesh prepared himself to be the strength of the mountain, the strength that his friend needed from him. Stepping around his companion, he paused to look back. "Stay, please. Tell any others who come responding to the signs to leave us in peace." Or in shared anguish, it seemed.

Ducking through the entrance, Devesh trailed hands on either side of the narrow path that had been cut from the rock. He could walk this temple blindfolded, not only because he knew it so well, but also because somehow it seemed like an extension of himself. It was as though a small portion of him never left these lofty heights and returning here was the only way he could ever be truly whole. Instead of searching for Vihaan, he merely allowed himself to be led to the place where he was needed. Thinking himself prepared, Prince Acharya approached, but the raw reality in front of him threatened to buckle his resolve.

At first, he wasn't sure that Vihaan was Vihaan at all, but perhaps some demon who had mimicked the man that he loved. It didn't stop him from moving closer, gliding across the uneven ground toward the beaten thing that felt like his precious friend. Anxiety written on his brow, Devesh reached for Vihaan, a hand to his shoulder as if verifying the man was a man after all, the other hand to curl a finger beneath Lord Dara's chin so that the Priest could examine those expressive eyes. Gasping quietly to see the pain in those shivering orbs, Devesh collapsed his arms around Vihaan, pulling him close. Without knowing anything about what had transpired, Devesh felt as though he was terribly lucky to have this moment, that perhaps he was soon to learn that it could have been taken from him, and all others to come.

The fragility of Vihaan's Jewels was apparent without a further inquest. Whatever had happened was less important than this weakness in the present moment. And Vihaan's safety. Clapping his hands on either side of Vihaan's face, Devesh fervently kissed his forehead and cheeks before pressing a heavy kiss on Vihaan's parched lips. Bending at the knee, Devesh drew Vihaan to follow him down to the floor. When they were kneeling across from each other, Devesh invoked a Communal bond to bring them both into a tracelike state. Here, tethered to his Priest, Vihaan's Jewels could be protected, fortified.

"Tell me," Devesh beckoned, pushing the hair from his lover's face so that they could both see clearly.

Offline Vihaan Dara

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #3 on: Nov 05, 18, 09:53:03 PM »
A hand on his shoulder. The searing weight of those familiar eyes, searching for his secrets. The low musk of incense and the scent that was uniquely Devesh. These things grounded him, coaxed Vihaan back from the quiet, spiraling chaos of his near-fugue and helped him feel his feet upon the earth. When Devesh pulled him near he closed his eyes, and though his shoulders slumped and he leaned into that touch, he hadn't the strength (of mind? body? both?) to lift his arms and complete the embrace. The comfort of that gesture was enough, for just the few seconds that it lasted, to allow him to forget everything else and truly feel it. He survived to return home, and for those seconds that was enough to make things bearable.

His world still seemed steeped in molasses, and he felt like he moved so much slower than everything else. By the time he understood that Devesh was moving, that he'd kissed his brow and his lips and was pulling him back to his knees, it was all over with and done. He moved like a man walking in his sleep, sluggish and late. The only quickness in him then was the way his knees hit the ground once some unthinking part of him had deigned to follow Devesh's lead. He did not descend like Devesh had seen so many times before, full of the warlord's steady, thrumming grace. He fell to his knees like a man emptied of everything vital, a man who cared now how he moved through this world.

But then he was there. Seated. He felt Devesh's hands on his face, but it was the way Devesh's spirit joined with his in that low, timeless harmony that truly made the moment finally feel real to him. The Priest's gesture resonated with him in a way he couldn't control, like a tuning fork made to shiver in the presence of the note for which it was created. He felt a breath move through him for what seemed like the first time in hours, and the tension that'd tightened his entire body into a white-knuckled fist finally began to unclench.

Tell me, Devesh said, and that voice summoned Vihaan's eyes to his face. No, his heart whispered. I cannot. Surely it would be the death of him, trying to recount the horror from which he still reeled. And yet his Priest had asked this of him, and so Vihaan tried. He let his gaze lower, needing his focus, and tried to comb back through the night's memories to find the place from which he could explain.

"The..."

..was all he managed before everything threw itself against his mind at once. All of the chaos. The screaming. The pain, so strangely absent from the psychic presence of the tunnels yet unavoidably present in the sounds and smells that filled those small spaces. Vihaan closed his eyes, and tears that he'd thought were exhausted hours ago somehow revived themselves and cut determined paths down his dusty cheeks.

Stymied, he extended his mind towards Devesh's. Silently, he begged to be allowed to show him, for the words were still too difficult to form. He sank into the embrace of what felt like Devesh's very soul around his own, and opened his thoughts to the man before him. It would be chaos, at first, but allowed a moment to concentrate, he'd force his way through the swirl of pain, fear, shame, and fury to find the beginning of the night. He'd gone to a meeting held by the leaders of the Rebellion, one of the rare occasions when a group of them gathered in one place to make decisions about the future of their efforts. Their meeting place was well-hidden, jealously guarded. Vihaan was one of only a very few Jeweled people allowed to be present, though he was there as an agent and not as a leader. He was there to receive orders, to support that good work.

The attack was entirely unexpected. The first warning was a call shouted by those standing guard, but those shouts were followed almost at once by bolts of terrible power. Craft ripped through the meeting space, and all at once everyone present scattered into chaos. Some were cut down before they ever understood what was happening. No one understood at the time that those were the fortunate ones.

Whatever breach in intelligence had allowed the Glacian hostiles to find the meeting place, it had been a complete and terrible breach. They knew not only of the entrance and when to strike, but they were waiting at the ends of the hidden tunnels and picked off fleeing survivors as they emerged. Some ventured into the tunnels, lashing out with their Craft to cut down swaths of Landen in one blow. Some simply harried the tunnels themselves enough that they collapsed, burying the unlucky alive beneath the earth. The story was told only from Vihaan's perspective, the sense his mind had made of what he'd seen and heard. He'd used his own Craft to help some escape and to cut down those Glacians whose paths he crossed, but there was no mistaking how grievous the assault had been. It'd been a massacre, a slaughter as complete and vicious as the murder at the Territory Court.

"The... mother..." Vihaan breathed, summoning the image of the Landen's holy woman, the sweet face of the one said to host the spirit of the land within her body. "They killed her, pandit. They killed her, and so many others. They killed so many..."

Offline Devesh Acharya

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #4 on: Nov 05, 18, 11:01:39 PM »
With the powers of his contrary Caste, Devesh had carried Vihaan across the threshold of the psychic world to linger in Mother Night's narthex. Almost neither here no there, this was a realm that Devesh had sought to master for nearly all of his life. Closer to the Darkness and enveloped in the sense of the power emanating from the depths Devesh was able to steady himself against the storm of Vihaan's despair. Still, the Priest worked to subdue a frantic edge that danced just outside his thoughts threatening to toss the order there into chaos. Belaying such urges wasn't an arrow that Devesh could claim among others in his quiver. By his very nature, these things were rarely given the soil needed to grow and germinate in his mind. Thus the weakness in being prepared for such a moment. Having arrived to the font of the power of the Darkness, however, Devesh was able to press on.

Feeling the clumsy bump of Vihaan's flummoxed thoughts, Devesh understood, welcoming what his lover might communicate with him. Though tumultuous, sometimes thoughts and memories could say more than words might be able to explain. At first, Devesh was subjected to a barrage of abstract concepts that he wasn't sure weren't simply the manifestations of fear and agony. Caressing Vihaan's shoulders, Devesh bowed his head and then slid his hands to take Vihaan's. Lifting them to his lips first, he kissed each palm softly, turning them against his cheeks and then brought them down to press against his bare chest. Holding firmly, Devesh took a breath and began to release it with a deep sound that reverberated in his chest. The primordial mantra called to the Darkness that enveloped them, speaking without speaking at all as the frequency lured them both toward deeper understanding and clarity. Not expecting Vihaan to be able to coax himself to the peace required to join him, Devesh linked their bodies by touch, the resounding frequency easily felt on his skin.

The images came, becoming clearer on average though the clarity came and went with spikes of pain that emanated from Vihaan's psyche. Devesh felt the urge to recoil more than once. The images were graphic, yes, but more than that, the sense of such horror in Vihaan was the first thing to truly disturb Devesh in a very long time. Also, the Priest knew that sharing his experience meant breaking a boundary that had been long ago established between them. Did Vihaan share because he thought it right or because he thought it unavoidable in his search for peace?

Losing their Mother was a huge blow to the Landen and their rebellion, crippling at the very least and more than strong enough to put it down. It would mean busy days ahead, but Devesh couldn't think about leaving Vihaan and wouldn't for now. He analyzed the thoughts that Vihaan shared, attempted to categorize the disarray. From what he gathered, he was unable to piece together a picture any larger than one Vihaan had already assembled. The Glacians had attacked where the Landen and their supporters were most vulnerable. And it was entirely too perfect. It spelled infiltration or double cross. This meant that Devesh himself had reason to batten down the hatches on his own operations if the enemy hadn't already found a way into his own cryptic networks. Still, the man in front of him was dying inside and deserved his attention.

*Heal yourself*, Devesh offered on a thread as he continued to chant the small but drawn out mantra. Lifting up from his heels a moment, he pushed his knees just between Vihaan's, eager to be closer still, but unable to crawl within the man or physically envelop him.

*Fall with me into the depths. The Night will need Her stewards now more than ever.*

Strumming the taut and seasoned thread between them, Devesh implored the eager student toward the heart of their Maker. Restored, he would be in less danger, less of a threat to himself and hopefully he could return to the world centered and able to decide how to enact his revenge.

Offline Vihaan Dara

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #5 on: Nov 06, 18, 10:58:08 AM »
Never before had Devesh's guidance towards communion not succeeded in unilaterally quieting the concerns of the warlord before him. Even upon their first meeting, the only other time that Vihaan had shown despair like the darkness that currently gripped him, it'd taken only that initial descent to soothe him. Now, even cradled as he was in the protection of Devesh's decadent power, reliving the nightmare through which he'd just come was enough to keep the warlord unsettled and grieving. He tried to reel himself in, to breathe deeply and center himself and find some of that peace that sitting with the Priest always seemed to grant him. Every remembered cry of pain, every phantom scent of blood and damp earth, every terrifying slash of unfamiliar Craft he recalled worked to drown him in a blend of outrage and sorrow. These faces were ones he knew well. These were people he'd spent years proving himself to, earning their trust when they'd been built to trust no one wielding Jewels. He was not the only one, of course, but he felt the responsibility for tonight's tragedy as though he was. He knew their names, their personalities, their hopes and sometimes their fears. And now most of them were gone. He could not even tell himself they persisted in another realm, safe in the Darkness which reclaimed all Blood. They were simply gone, returned to the earth that'd born them, as though they'd never existed at all.

As was usually the case, Devesh knew just what to do to help him. Vihaan opened his eyes to find his palm being pressed to the Priest's lips, one hand then the other. With the retelling of the trauma still playing in his mind, he watched with dull eyes as Devesh pulled his hands forward and planted them on his chest. The heat of the Priest's skin burned against the scrapes on his hands, and focused Vihaan just as the cold of the stone had done before. He closed his eyes as Devesh began to chant, and he let that sonorous tone roll through him, filling him. He could feel it in his hands, the way the sound vibrated in Devesh's chest, and something in his soul answered back in quiet resonance.

He likely would've continued into peace from there, had the Craft fueling his psychic thread with Devesh not suddenly lapsed. Several things happened near instantaneously, then. The realization that he'd utterly emptied his Jewels was terrifying the way that falling from a great height was terrifying. It was an instinctive sort of fear that cut through him like a blade of pure ice, stealing his breath and leaving him hollow. Devesh was calling him towards the Deep and Vihaan descended, though he was moved by that sudden terror rather than conscious will. It was something like realizing all at once how delicate and fragile something in one's hands was, and then that knowledge causing a person to try and hold that precious thing more carefully, and in the process fumbling clumsily and nearly dropping it. Had Vihaan calmly descended with Devesh as he'd done so many times before, he would've been filled and no harm would have been done. Feeling that empty bottom of his reservoir sent him clumsily stumbling too hurriedly towards the depths, however, and then there was the mind-numbing realization that he wasn't stumbling anymore at all, but plummeting.

The warlord drew a slow, shaking breath, and his eyes widened. He was all at once aware of Devesh's face before him to a surreal level of clarity and detail. Not the magnetic pull of his gaze which had all but hypnotized Vihaan on so many occasions, but the specific shade of that mercurial green. Not the velvet-like texture of the lips that haunted his favorite dreams, but the shape of his mouth and the cut of his jaw. The length of the hairs of his beard, the way his brows were angled... a dozen insignificant details were stored in an instant, as though he feared this was the last thing his eyes would see in this world. He felt himself falling, screaming towards destruction and oblivion, too quickly to even begin to know how to stop it. Fear consumed him, worsening the speed of his fall. In an instant, it would all be over.

That is, it would perhaps have been, if it had not been Devesh there with him. Vihaan had scarcely begun to fall before the Priest arrested his descent. Though the danger had been very real, it was blessedly short-lived in the face of his pandit's experience and skill. Before Vihaan had even exhaled that same shaking breath, he felt himself mercifully imprisoned by Devesh's will. The breath that passed through his lips was stuttering, and his body slacked forward, relief taking the strength out of him. He reached for Devesh, eschewing any pretense of not desperately needing his support, and if the Priest allowed he'd wrap his arms around him and pull him as near as he could. He closed his eyes and silently thanked him, though there were no words to express it quite well enough.

The scare had sobered him, at least. Now, it was easier to temporarily set aside the horror he'd seen and focus on descending properly with Devesh. He would serve no one's cause if he allowed himself to be broken or killed from this, and so no matter what the next step was, he needed to heal himself as Devesh had instructed first. Now understanding how perilously depleted he was, he did not let even his shame stop him from yielding to that comforting embrace and letting it enfold him entirely.

Offline Devesh Acharya

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #6 on: Nov 09, 18, 05:30:07 PM »
Descending blindly into a world that they had no sense strong enough envision, Devesh led dutifully into the well of power that awaited below. What images did exist were merely shadows formed by the mind in the struggle to understand. Though it was a familiar place for even Vihaan, recognition was far from comprehension. For Devesh, it was something like swooping down and spinning through fields of tall grass except for instead of those dry blades, fluid silk reached for him, kissing and caressing his bared soul eager to gather him close.

The attack had exhausted Vihaan in all ways and when the last ember's glow in his jewels blinked out, Devesh sighed wistfully into the air between their discarded bodies. It was in these moments that he was able to experience a uniquely profound sense of fulfillment. The weight of his shame regarding his distaff Caste was swept from his shoulders as he easily and instinctively responded, insulating Vihaan's vulnerable chalice. When his lover panicked, Devesh was there, because he had been already, existing as if in and around his cherished disciple all at once. Quickly, yet with the finesse and tenderness of an unseen breeze, Devesh assumed control.

Soon they were falling again but purposefully so, joined together. For a brief moment, Devesh's consciousness expanded toward infinite and his perception shifted. The boundaries of his awareness shimmered like the glowing edges of paper put to flame. A prickly static danced from one thought to the next like the smallest flicker of electricity between greying clouds. And then a vision passed before him, a vision of every soul that was diving toward the heart of Darkness and seeking reprieve. Glowing softly as they streaked toward the deepest limit of their capacity Devesh could discern the unique signatures of hope and pain that they emitted into the vastness of forever. Surrounded by differences, they all descended the same, and Devesh saw himself and his lover as the single drop of rain that they had become in the gentle shower that would never abate, that would always renew the people, the land.

Alighting at the deepest level for Vihaan's Blood Opal, Devesh tapped that power, scooping from the potent water that flowed freely here and bringing it to Vihaan's lips. *Drink,* he urged with faithful purpose thrumming in the silent word. When obeyed, the Priest observed, contented, as Vihaan's jewels began to revive. Vihaan reached for him and Devesh responded by bending forward to mold himself against the other man's body, nestling his cheek on Vihaan's shoulder, steady breaths warming his throat. It was a passive posture, one of submission and a tenderness that was shared with so few. For a moment, Devesh remained silent and still, patiently waiting as Vihaan was restored, come away from that desperate edge where he could have lost everything. At the first sign of relief, everything went black.

Like waking in a dream, but waking to nothingness, the beauty of the moment was all but gone, the awe of the sense of being cradled by Mother Night was a distant thought. Removed from so much of himself, Vihaan was reduced to little more than his thoughts. Emotions had been left behind, awaiting him on a higher level of consciousness. It could have been more disconcerting but fear too had been stripped away. Shapeless and bereft of senses, they were merely two souls, one contained within the other, the Priest possessed of the pupil, but strictly governing the encounter. There was little more than his voice in the blackness when he spoke and his voice was clearer than any thought, dominant and compelling yet eternally serene all the same.

*You're safe, my heart. And this is nothing but a quick dream. You may not recall this when you wake, but you will wake restored.* The silence that followed lasted long enough to allow Vihann time to consider what had happened from a uniquely objective position. *Though you've lost so many, you are not as alone as you feel.*

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #7 on: Nov 09, 18, 07:49:59 PM »
Internally, Vihaan felt like chaos incarnate. His fear, his panic overrode everything else, and for that breathless pair of seconds there was nothing but the frigid emptiness of fear and the sense of his end rushing up from the deep to meet him.

And then, Devesh.

The Priest's control and correcting of the situation was so smooth and seemed so effortless that Vihaan felt foolish for how terrified he'd allowed himself to feel. That sensation, too, he released into his priest's care. Now keenly aware of just how completely and competently Devesh held him, it was an easy thing to relax back into his hold and let himself descend properly.

Threaded as they were through one another's minds, Devesh's vision flickered through Vihaan's senses as well. Willing to leave control of the moment in Devesh's hands, Vihaan was free to turn his attention towards those other lights, the distant streams of luminescence which seemed so familiar and yet so alien. It was a breathtaking sight, one that held the warlord rapt until he felt Devesh urging him to submerge himself in the healing waters of the deep. Vihaan didn't hesitate to comply, but he no longer moved with the fevered desperation of the terrified. The Night and its descending stars seeped into his soul, mending the weak parts and filling the empty places.

And then there was nothing. Nothing, save himself and Devesh. Suddenly not only were there no burdens, but he couldn't fathom what his burdens had felt like, only moments ago. He was removed from it all, removed from passion and pain alike. Things seemed so much more clear to him here. He felt as though he knew every answer to every question in the world; he merely had to consider it.

*They were souls,* he realized, in hindsight. *All seeking succor as I was.* He paused, considering it with an ease of thought that was a touch thrilling. *There were so very many.* He turned his thoughts back towards what'd brought him here, the tragedy that'd gutted him more keenly than any knife ever could.

*There were so many,* he observed again. *But I don't feel them here, in this place. I don't feel any of the pain that stole my breath before. I hope that I will remember this. I have not known this peace in... I have never known this peace,* he realized. *I thought you had shown me peace before,* he continued, while thoughts of their various meetings drifted in the background of his mind. There was a singular, gripping sort of comfort that came from being exhausted at Devesh's side, heated skin to heated skin, when there was barely enough wakefulness between them for there to be conscious thought. And communing, particularly with his beloved Priest, always brought calm and a strength to his soul. But even those tender contentments weren't the same as this place, this absence of everything.

My heart, Devesh had thought. This intimately conjoined, the Priest wouldn't miss how the designation summoned a sense of belonging, and resonated as truth. There was a corresponding place within the warlord into which the priest fit, though it was accompanied by a sense of reverence, a sort of self-imposed sacrifice that wouldn't let him fully claim the priest in a similar manner, despite the desire to do so. Devesh was not his, but the Mother's.

And here, deep past the worries of his mortal coil, that was easier to accept than it normally was.

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #8 on: Nov 09, 18, 09:21:14 PM »
Without a physical form, Devesh couldn't smile in response to Vihaan. With emotions muted, even the sense that the Priest was pleased would have been difficult to track. Nevertheless, the response was something like the psychic equivalent of being embraced, brought closer and made safe.

It would be very easy for Devesh to grow accustomed to the sort of power that he wielded at that moment. Vihaan was impressed, pleased with the revelations that the descent had shown them. If Vihaan would stay with him, Devesh could show him this all over and so much more. It seemed unfair, though, to bait the dutiful man, and cruel to reveal the wonders that he couldn't partake in while away in the commission of his tasks. It didn't mean that the thought didn't plague the pious Priest, though. Wouldn't it be nice to have Vihaan close? To share his bed and his warmth? To wake to his kiss? Who would know if Devesh stole this moment to experience an intimacy with Vihaan that couldn't be replicated elsewhere? There was a good chance he could make even Vihaan himself forget that his revered pandit had taken advantage of his role and abused the sacred bond. He told himself that it would be wrong, but it couldn't stop that a part of him would never not consider these things and on a basic level, the concept of right and wrong were based merely on the things that Devesh did and didn't believe he could get away with and still achieve enlightenment. Thankfully, Vihaan was good enough for the both of them and knowing it kept errant thoughts mostly at bay.

*I am keeping you from this pain so that you can heal.* He didn't share the thought, but Devesh drew upon his memory of the first time he'd encountered Vihaan. The man had been stricken, cursed by his own pain. For too long it had held him back. Devesh felt a stab of remorse on both planes then when he considered it. How long had he survived, only just barely, all the while carrying his ghosts on his back? He had now lost more than anyone that Devesh called friend. Though he could not experience a moving regret for the final fate of any Landen, he understood that these were Vihaan's family and that this loss would scar his lover's psyche. Apart from what damage may have been done to Nharkava's united cause against Glacia, Devesh was still capable of wishing that things had been different. For Vihaan's sake.

Devesh didn't speak again, not unless Vihaan spoke first. The silence, the void, it needn't be filled. The emptiness was a place of intense insight for Devesh, and he hoped that it could be for Vihaan as well. When Vihaan called for him, his voice would be there as it had been, constant and close.

Arising from the union had happened at some point while within that dream state. Vihaan might have observed it or not, may be able to recall it or not. Awaking would be slow, sedated as he was. The wish was that Vihaan could ease back into himself and the world that had just seen fit to destroy much of what he'd spent good years building. Still, if he called, Devesh was still there, sometimes a bit more distant than others now, but he was there. In some instances he was close, curled against Vihaan, at other times his resonant voice could be heard reciting mantras that took on an ethereal aspect when they echoed from the cavern walls. The steady trickle and drip of water gave away that they hadn't left the upper temple, but eventually Devesh's change of garb might be apparent and announce some passage of time.

Like a statue, the Priest sat posed near an altar that had been made out of protrusions coming up from the stone floor. Thousands of years of moisture and erosion had created the pillars, eventually growing together in a mound. One exacting slip of craft had leveled the top in a fascinating juxtaposition of shapes. The top was perfectly flat and smooth but the sides had not been changed and still maintained the natural structure of the cave's anatomy. Between Devesh and the altar was a thali set with a bronze censer that spilled incense smoke over the wet stone floor. No longer dressed in his ceremonial garb, Devesh wore only black dhoti pants. Even his feet were bare. He looked more the supplicant while posed this way than the man who led others to worship.

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #9 on: Nov 09, 18, 10:20:03 PM »
For Vihaan, there wasn't a discernible line between under and awake. He realized that he had returned to himself, that the darkness before his eyes wasn't Darkness, but the earthen ceiling of the cave he was in, dimly lit by the low glow of a strange fungus that grew here and there on the damp walls. Vihaan wasn't versed enough in such things to know if it was some natural bioluminescent marvel, or a trick of Craft meant to make the presence of light less intrusive. It was just enough to allow him to make out the shades and highlights of the uneven ceiling overhead, distinguishing it from the all-encompassing black in which he'd recently been enveloped. He didn't remember deciding to leave the deep. There was much he didn't remember, in fact. Yet he knew he was awake now, and had been for a moment or so at least. He also knew that Devesh was still with him, even before he slowly pulled himself upright and turned to look for him. It did surprise him to see that the Priest had shed his robes and shoes; he hadn't thought Devesh had left his side long enough to do so. The thought made Vihaan look down at himself. His clothes were still tainted by dirt, dried mud, and a streak of blood or two. For some reason it seemed surreal to him, as though the depths of his communion ought to have cleansed his garments as it'd done his heart. Instead, his dishevelment remained a quiet witness, proof of what he'd endured this night.

Girded now against the tragedy, thoughts of it didn't bow him in two like it had before. There was still an undeniable sadness that rested quietly within him, braided in with the knowledge that there were a number of faces he would never see again, now. Yet that truth, unpleasant as it was, was manageable. Even the knowledge that the Rebellion may very well never recover from the recent slaughter was an unfortunate but quiet truth that he could set aside for the moment. He felt stronger, no doubt at least in part due to his Jewels being so thoroughly filled after such an emptying. Vihaan slowly climbed to his feet, relieved to feel a part of the earth once more rather than the wildly flailing kite in a storm he'd felt upon arriving.

Wordlessly, he crossed the cavern towards where Devesh sat, marveling all the while at how that broad and familiar back could distract him even here and now, when he felt the press of such somber matters. He knew exactly what it would feel like to touch his hands down on those shoulders, to lean over and kiss his cheek, and to let his hands wander down Devesh's chest and abdomen. His mind, in fact, was merciless in replaying those sensations for him as he approached the altar. Instead of entertaining those urges, Vihaan lowered himself down to sit at Devesh's side. He mirrored the folded legs, the forward-facing focus. He didn't speak right away unless Devesh did. Instead, he'd try to line his breathing up with the Priest's, and would attempt to practice the meditation he'd been taught. He'd remained that way until he got the sense that Devesh was open to rejoining the mortal world, and only then would his voice break the quiet of the temple.

"I do regret causing you to interrupt your evening for my sake," he said, eyes heavy-lidded but pointed at the altar ahead of him. "But I am fairly certain you saved my life. So. I cannot regret too deeply, I am afraid." In spite of everything, a wan little smile tried to rise on his lips. "Thank you, Devesh."

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #10 on: Nov 09, 18, 11:27:50 PM »
Vihaan's awareness changed the energy in the sacred place. Bound to the very rock that made up the temple, Devesh was able to sense it all the more keenly, feeling the shift each time that the other man stirred. Sensing Vihaan at his side made the Priest smile, though only a touch, his placid face rarely gave much away. Knowing that his focus had shifted even momentarily to personal pleasures, Devesh took a breath and began the last portion of his silent prayers over again, devoted, this time, to not let his thoughts stray.

"You're always welcome," Devesh responded quietly as his eyes slid open. His expression was grave for a time as Vihaan's words sank in. Saved his life. Devesh raised his eyes to the natural wall beyond the altar, fixating on nothing in particular but suddenly possessed by the need to stretch a new tension from the muscles in his neck. You would let them ruin you? he thought, angry for a number of reasons, but unwilling to speak them and risk breaking Vihaan's hard-earned peace. Even if the commission of suicide wouldn't mean that he'd allowed Glacia to break him or that Devesh could never see him again, it was a sin and the concept alone threatened to break his heart.

"I need you too much," Devesh shot with a hint of confused bitterness, his head snapping to lock needy and angry eyes on Vihaan. It was a selfish utterance and the slightest sign of heightened emotion was uncharacteristic of the Priest, but he didn't attempt to censor himself any further than he had. They didn't need to discuss it and Devesh try to, but it was clear that Vihaan had unwittingly hurt him.

Allowing his eyes to fall away, he glanced absently down to the tray in front of him while loosening his legs from the asana. Various small food offerings had been provided and set around the incense. This prasada reminded Devesh that Vihaan had missed more than a few hours and would be hungry as soon as he gave himself time to notice.

"The day has passed,"  he said with a subtle sharpness in his tone. His jaw seemed tighter than usual as it moved, his chin more angled, but that faint temper no longer resided in his eyes. They merely seemed tired. "It is night again. Only just." And a good thing too, the night would serve to ground them both especially within the temple.

Pushing the tray of foods and incense closer to Vihaan, Devesh nodded encouragement in case of doubt. "Our Mother has enjoyed the offering given while you rested. Take as you like."

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #11 on: Nov 10, 18, 12:36:32 AM »
The shift in Devesh's mood was stark, not because the Priest was obvious about his thoughts at first, but because his disciple was typically so keenly focused on him when the two shared a room. Prayer, communion, and meditation were the only times they occupied a near space when Vihaan wasn't rapt by every glance, every word. And truth be told, more often than he liked to admit he struggled even still with maintaining a single-minded focus in those three things, as well. Devesh was a walking force of nature, as far as the warlord was concerned. He pulled at Vihaan like the moon pulled the tides, natural and unavoidable.

So when Devesh's words emerged towards Vihaan for the first time with an edge to them, the warlord felt it keenly. The priest turned his head to lance the other man with a bitter glance, and it struck Vihaan soundly enough that his lips parted, his words stolen from him for a breath. His mind splintered into a few factions, the most regrettable of which was the thought that he'd pay a great sum to have that needful look etched into a crystal for his own consumption, even if he had to take the anger with it. Vihaan was stunned, too thrown off by the unexpected and informal rebuke from Devesh to even properly appreciate the words he'd said, at first. The priest was explaining how long Vihaan had been under and pushing food towards him by the time the warlord had gathered enough sense to form a thought aloud.

Vihaan reached for Devesh's wrist and held it still, interrupting the movement of the plate of food towards him. He sought the priest's gaze, his own expression grave but seeking.

"You're angry with me," he observed quietly, his brow creasing beneath the weight of that statement. Unconsciously, his thumb began to pass back and forth over the rise of the Priest's wrist bone, an idle, soothing gesture. "I don't understand," he admitted. "Is it because I -- because I fell?" he asked, concern slowly pinching his features. Almost instinctively, he reached for Devesh's mind, wanting the fullness of thought for this conversation so that he might understand more completely.

*Forgive me. I didn't mean to. It was not wise to panic, but I hadn't the presence of mind to stop it, at the time.*

But Devesh's thoughts shed more light on the matter, drawing out tones and details. Vihaan sensed the hurt beneath the anger, and traced it back to where it'd come from. I need you too much, Devesh had said. Vihaan played it over again in his head, and suddenly it made a different kind of sense.

"No," he said, aloud as though the thread between them wasn't enough. *I only meant...* he started to explain, but quickly abandoned words for the more complete and amorphous communication made possible by shared thoughts. He'd been sure the fall would have killed him, had Devesh not been present to aid him.

"Even in my darkest moments, I am too selfish by far to surrender this life willingly."

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #12 on: Nov 10, 18, 03:32:30 AM »
There was confusion that was mirrored back at him since shortly after he'd begun to respond to Vihaan. Devesh had acted well outside of his normal tendencies when he hadn't paused to examine the situation further. He had a catalog of predetermined responses for most any scenario on top of the somewhat predictable scientific way that he approached things. There wasn't much that threw Prince Acharya off, and even less were the things that managed to confound him. Vihaan was an occasional exception to all of this. The depth of his feelings for Vihaan had distorted his thoughts on more than one occasion. Though there were others that Devesh strongly cared for, it seemed that the others were either more like him and thus easier to understand, or had spent enough time in his life that misunderstandings had become a rare occurrence.

Seeing that his words had affected Vihaan had the unexpected consequence of making Devesh feel guilty. A twinge of resentment settled in beside the guilt that he didn't think he deserved. He told himself that it was normal for someone to be hurt when they were judged even if they were judged rightly, that this was where Vihaan's reactions had come from. He'd intended to move away from the unspoken hurts, but they were proving difficult to escape or even comprehend at the moment.

The gentle tide of emotions coming from Vihaan revealed a sort of surprise that felt innocent in nature. It was as though he regretted having spurned Devesh even though he couldn't understand how. This conflicted with the fact that every Nharkavan native knew better than to take their own life. The mere discussion of such a thing was taboo in most circles.

When Vihaan took his wrist the gesture was so earnest that finally, Devesh became convinced that a miscommunication had occurred and his mind began to work methodically backward while at the same time absorbing every detail of the interaction as it happened. The gentle way that Vihaan touched him, implored Devesh for his rapt attention spoke to something primal inside of him. The vulnerability that altered the timbre of Vihaan's voice did as well.

"No," Devesh frowned, narrowing his eyes. The fall? The fall had been normal, expected of a soul depleted of Mother Night's bestowed essence. That Vihaan seemed ashamed of this moved Devesh while he still hadn't grasped the root of the confusion. He wanted to stop and explain that there was nothing dishonorable about losing himself there, especially considering the dire circumstances, but then Vihaan echoed him, uttering a single 'no' himself. In Devesh's mind, he heard 'I only meant," and it didn't matter that he'd not finished the thought, because suddenly the truth became apparent to Devesh.

Heart skipping, stalling and then thudding back into a clumsy rhythm, Devesh clapped a hand over Vihaan's where it rested at his wrist. Remorse melted Devesh's stern expression before he dropped his eyes repentantly. "I misunderstood you. I can't explain how. I judged you without questioning my thoughts. Even after the things you've come through. I don't know why I was so quick..." Devesh trailed off, which was an uncommon thing for him. He'd been distracted by the assumed topic, that's why he'd been so quick to judge. And now he looked foolish on top of having added to the number of demons haunting his gracious lover. Bending low, Devesh pressed his forehead to the back of Vihaan's hand where it lay atop his and then turned hisaffectionatelyinately against it. "Forgive me. I'm a fool."

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #13 on: Nov 10, 18, 12:58:31 PM »
The moment was a strange one, for Vihaan. He was as aware as Devesh was that the Priest had acted in a manner unlike himself, though he struggled with what to do with that information. His heart was divided on the matter. Part of him wanted to latch on to the idea that perhaps Devesh had responded so sharply just because he'd been confronted with the notion of losing Vihaan. That kind of connection and possessiveness was dangerously alluring, and imagining the creature before him viewing him through that lens was thrilling. But there was another part of the warlord who was certain that such thoughts were merely the result of his own ego and selfish hopes, trying to find some way to make it feel like he was more than just one of Devesh's many disciples. That's not to say Devesh had ever made him feel expendable, but Vihaan worked hard to try to keep himself cognizant of the fact that Devesh wasn't his and couldn't ever be his. He belonged to the Mother, with a calling much higher than devoting himself to a single warlord. That part of Vihaan tried to deduce some other explanation for Devesh's anger, and worried that Vihaan himself had somehow misstepped and legitimately upset the Priest. And then there was the part of him which focused on the fact that Devesh's detour into anger was sure to upset the Priest simply for the fact that he seemed to prefer not to indulge in such moments. Vihaan didn't judge him for it, but he feared Devesh would judge himself harshly.

And he did, in fact. Suddenly, Devesh was apologizing and bowing his head to meet Vihaan's hand. The warlord was quietly flummoxed, not sure how to respond. It seemed criminal to see a creature such as Devesh supplicating himself (nevermind that there was a base part of the warlord that would likely never forget this moment), particularly when Vihaan didn't feel trespassed against in the first place. He wanted to lift his hand to force the Priest to lift his head, but that seemed crass considering how tender and genuine the man's apology was.

"If there is anything to forgive, then you are surely forgiven," he said softly, instead. His free hand alighted gently atop the bowed head, more to pet the dark, smooth hair there than to be any kind of benediction. Vihaan had to work diligently for a second to push away thoughts of other times he'd felt that hair sliding through his fingers, and made himself focus on the moment at hand.

"But I do not think you a fool. You are a judge, and I was not clear in my words," he pointed out. "And even if there was a trespass to forgive, it would have been worth it to hear the words you said," he confessed softly, hesitantly, as though it truly was a sin to hold that memory so tightly to his heart. It felt selfish to speak of what Devesh felt was a moment of weakness, but Vihaan was not of a mind to hide his faults now.

"Mine is too greedy a heart," he said, only just above a whisper. He watched Devesh with lidded eyes, and a rising sense of... something. "It would believe what cannot be true in its pursuit of possessing what is not mine to have."

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #14 on: Nov 10, 18, 09:13:06 PM »
The lie had been easier to believe due to the hell that Vihaan had endured. Not only most recently, but throughout his life. Everything good that he'd ever had had been taken away from him with spectacular cruelty. Glacia had been behind the vast majority of these losses and Glacia had made herself Nharkava's overseer. Their influence in the Territory was more evident every day, especially near the borders and capital. Had Devesh been the one who had survived that savagery, he wasn't sure that he wouldn't wish for death. Perhaps he'd projected this onto Vihaan, he who could do no wrong.

Devesh could feel the forgiveness that Vihaan was eager to give and it made him feel unworthy of it. Having been so quick to believe that Vihaan cared so little for the tenets of their faith meant that he deserved to be viewed with the same scrutiny, but Vihaan wasn't even upset with him. He could have taken exception to Devesh's ability to think less of him yet he seemed genuinely glad that the air had cleared and that Devesh wasn't truly angry with him.

As always, the magnetism that drew Devesh to Lord Dara confounded him. Each time that Devesh had seen him it had been like meeting an old friend, even the first time. When Vihaan had fatefully found him inside that remote shrine Devesh knew that the face of that weary traveler would stay with him forever because it simply seemed as though it had always been. Though they felt so close, times like this always had a way of pointing out the reality of their relationship. Devoted, yes, eternally, but what could either of them infer about the daily lives of the other?

Thinking of what Vihaan's life might be like outside of their lucky few interludes reminded Devesh that Vihaan might have an alternate existence completely. Was he interested in a woman? Another man? Both made the Priest unfairly jealous, but so much more to think Vihaan may have been charmed by another man. He wanted to believe that he was unique, that Vihaan had forsaken the natural order because he found the Priest exceptionally alluring in all ways. Prideful or not, Devesh had ceased to feel guilty for such feelings. The same was certainly true of how he looked at Vihaan. Devesh had shared sexual intimacy with a few other men before, yes, but it only in the commission of certain obscure duties. None of them had ever made a home in his heart the way that Vihaan had upon the moment he'd first knelt before Devesh and begged guidance. Devesh didn't deserve him which only made the Warlord all the more treasured.

The muscles in the Priest's shoulders shifted, smoothing back into the landscape of his back as the tension dissipated there. Sitting up only halfway, Devesh gave Vihaan a forlorn look of contrition.

"Which words?"

The devil in his eye said that he wasn't sure he was allowed to make light of the moment, but he was eager to put his upsetting mistake behind them and eager to goad the Warlord who spoke so freely with him.

"Forgive me?"

Averting his eyes he smiled softly then, more on account of how his shame bloomed over again. Foolish wasn't a feeling that he was used to. Rocking forward, Devesh planted a palm on the ground on either side of Vihaan's legs and leaned in. He didn't lift his eyes back to Vihaan yet. Instead, his wandering gaze appeared to appraise Vihaan's unkept apparel, nevermind that he'd only noticed because he'd been eager to see beneath it.

Sighing, Devesh reached for the shirt and wound his hand in the loose collar, pulling himself closer and Vihaan in to close the distance. The Priest sought his kiss blindly, unhurried, though compelled. Just feeling those lips on his body stoked a hunger that Devesh didn't know he possessed.

"Would you see me beg?" he breathed against Vihaan's cheek. Nudging the Warlord's chin up, Devesh sucked small kisses down his throat. "Or would an offering suffice?"

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #15 on: Nov 11, 18, 03:58:34 PM »
Devesh's goading both helped to resolve the suffocating fragility of the moment and ratcheted up the tension in the air between them. Ready to concede that he was a weaker man than he ought to be, Vihaan was already leaning forward when Devesh took hold of his collar and used it to bring them together. His lips collided with Devesh's, fueled by a sudden needful fervor that already had him breathing hard when Devesh broke the kiss a moment later. Devesh teased at his throat, and Vihaan tipped his head back, eyes closing, and let the Priest's gentler touches inflame him more completely. Devesh's following words summoned a soft groan that sounded almost pained, a raw representation of the surge of desire that flooded through the warlord.

*You are my offering,* his psychic voice declared, while he once more busied his mouth with chasing Devesh's kiss. Vihaan rose to his knees, taking his Priest with him, and wrapped himself around his lover while he reveled in that decadent indulgence of tongue and lips and teeth. *That I leave you at all, that I ever take myself away from your touch, it is my sacrifice to Her.* If Devesh allowed it, Vihaan would tip him backwards, and lay the Priest down beneath him on the cold stone they were likely to warm. He loomed there for a moment, dark hair shrouding his face, dark eyes glinting in the low, strange light. None of that obscured the fondness and desire with which he looked at Devesh. He touched the Prince's face, allowing just his fingertips to trace lightly down one cheek in a carefully reverent gesture.

"But she has already supped on you, tonight. Your work is done for this moment." Like the thali with the food Devesh had suggested Vihaan eat. "And what She leaves behind for me," he said, a mere whisper while he leaned down to once more taste Devesh's lips and tongue. *I will consume and be thankful.*

If the Priest did not force matters another way (Vihaan would yield if he did),the warlord would allow a hand to drag down the other man's torso to find the weight of him between his thighs. While stroking him through the fabric of his dhoti, Vihaan nipped his teeth at the Priest's throat, then began a slow descent down the man's body. He intended to inventory every rise and cleft of the shape of his chest and abdomen, as though reclaiming as his every bit of the flesh that had been denied him.

*Could this not be an offering as well?* that voice purred through his mind, soft and sincere. *To express my love of this creature that is so wholly of her?*

Offline Devesh Acharya

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #16 on: Nov 16, 18, 09:44:30 PM »
Much of Devesh's style of worship was considered taboo, more so the further that one traveled from his temple and into other territories so he was used to defending his actions even if only to himself and the Darkness. His coupling with another man wasn't unheard of and not forbidden, but doing so with the belief that they were brought together by Mother Night herself added a level of complication to their relationship. Nevertheless, fucking in front of a dark altar for reasons other than worship was sacrilege as far as he was concerned. It wasn't the intention.

Had Devesh had his way, he would have enticed Vihaan away and led him toward another place in the temple where the mountain runoff poured from the ceiling and walls in steady, sometimes loud and heavy streams. But he'd underestimated Vihaan's vigor and how well he would be able to captivate the distraught Warlord. There was a desperation in the other man that surprised Devesh at first but quickly enough the Priest recognized his mistake and how when deprived of so many companions, one might starve for closeness and touch.

Was it the caliber of Vihaan's argument, or the dark and needful way that his voice resounded in Devesh's soul that made the Priest wonder if he should protest? Of course, he didn't want to, but for a brief moment, he was wholly unsure of whether or not he should. Thinner excuses had been made to moisten the stones of an altar before and the walls hadn't come crashing in, he told himself. Was Vihaan playing coy? It seemed as much. But could an argument be made?

Suddenly breathless, Devesh stared up at Vihaan, silent and still, perhaps seeming as though he were rather awed. Vihaan's inciteful words read like a prayer in Devesh's head, reverent and as true as the Night, but was it merely because they spoke aloud what he wished for in the depths of his soul? "Don't say it if you don't mean it," Devesh cautioned in a wistful tone that betrayed his desires. The concept of disengaging now seemed as impossible as bringing back Vihaan's fallen compatriots, Darkness find them.

His hands walked slowly up Vihaan's chest, pawing over his taut shoulders to trickle fingers down the center of his back. Glancing aside, Devesh felt compelled by the powerful arms that seemingly trapped him on either side. Those capable arms could do nearly as they wished even if it wasn't Devesh's intention to allow exactly that. Those capable arms shifted and one dragged a hand over Devesh's bare skin, down to where the Priest couldn't hide his favorable stance. Devesh shuddered, letting his head bump on the rock as it fell back. His hips arched into Vihaan's grasp as the torture in his thoughts bled out and took the form of tension that overtook his more streamlined frame.

"It could." Devesh's voice trembled through uneven breaths. Turning his head to the side, he forced his eyes open to look at the archway that led from the room toward anywhere else. They could leave. It would make no difference. They could rut together any and everywhere else. Looking back to Vihaan required Devesh to rise up on his elbows. It took him a moment to call on the necessary muscles tightening in his abdomen to do so as they were currently the subject of so much adoration. "For Her," he nodded, though regretted that this admission was even necessary. It felt off and like an excuse. Even so, the devotion in Vihaan's eyes seemed very real, and Devesh wasn't inclined to question him further.

Pursing his lips, Devesh turned quickly, scanning the ground for any sharp edge on the smoothed surface. Finding none, he grunted and summoned his Purple Dusk, staring over the surface for only a moment before he stabbed his thumb over a point. He hesitated for a moment, waiting for Vihaan to look up and then caught the Warlord's intensely dark eyes. Vanishing the Jewel away, Devesh leaned up and pressed his thumb to Vihaan's lips. A thick bead of blood had formed there which was used to paint the lips of his lover. Blood. Blood sanctified everything.

Offline Vihaan Dara

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Re: If I Ever Lose My Faith In You
« Reply #17 on: Today at 11:02:21 AM »
Perhaps it couldn't honestly be said that Vihaan lived a simple life. He did, however, tend to try and approach things as simplistically as he could, where it was appropriate. He helped the Landen in spite of their rampant distrust of him because he believed it was the right thing to do, not because it benefited him in any material way to do so. He worshiped the Darkness because he'd seen it and felt it, and knew it as the source of the power he wielded. Worshiping and communing left him feeling refreshed and purposeful, and so he deemed it was a good thing and was grateful. No, he'd never encountered anyone who worshiped quite like Devesh did, but there was no denying that his methods were effective. It was difficult for the warlord to know whether it was the manner of worship or the Priest himself that was so compelling, but in the end he didn't think it needed to matter. The result was that they communed, and when he left afterward he felt renewed and girded against the trials She had set for him to face.

Likewise, he didn't think it particularly mattered that the place in which he guided Devesh to his back was technically still part of the altar. Sex had never been a taboo or shameful thing for him, just another part of life as Mother Night had created it. And truth be told, he meant every word of what he said to Devesh about it. The reason Vihaan didn't try to make himself a more permanent fixture in Devesh's life was because the warlord felt the press of responsibility; he was beholden to his work and he assumed Devesh was beholden to his own. Neither of them would serve as well if Vihaan spent his time trying to keep the other man confined to his arms. It was absolutely submission to what he believed was the will of the Darkness that he treated his time with Devesh as blessed reprieves rather than steps on a path towards any sort of claiming.

No, Vihaan was not playing coy. Such would be clear, perhaps, when Devesh's wistful warning caused the warlord's movements to slow to a halt. He studied Devesh's expression, listened keenly to the connection between them for aid in deciphering the Priest's intent. It was he now who tried to discern whether Devesh was being coy. Surely he knew better? He must. Yet there was something in the way he said the words... It seemed implausible that the sage beneath him could be ignorant of anything that Vihaan knew. He was so accustomed to looking towards Devesh for guidance, he realized, that he'd never once stopped to consider what insecurities or uncertainties the other man might harbor himself. Was it possible that Devesh needed reassurance, that he was truly hesitant to believe Vihaan's earnest words? It seemed so unlikely, but it felt like a privilege, rather than a burden, to expend the effort to say the words again.

"What is it that you doubt, my Prince?" Vihaan asked, even as he lowered his head once more, trading away the sight of Devesh's hauntingly beautiful features in order to be able to dust a kiss along his jaw. A second, then a third, while Vihaan's voice purred through the other man's mind. *Do you doubt that it is only my service to Her that keeps me away from your touch?* His kisses trailed down over Devesh's throat, where his soul drank up the way the Priest's breath hitched just so at the stroke of his hand below. *Do you doubt that there is no other lover to warm my bed who doesn't find themselves compared unfairly to you? Do you doubt that I see your eyes, hear your voice when my heart indulges its most selfish fantasies in my dreams?*

By then Vihaan had begun to work his way down Devesh's chest, gently stroking him towards ardor while painting a trail of kisses over his skin. He paused there to look up towards Devesh's face, though, and rose up enough to kiss his lips once more. Briefly, pointedly, before meeting his eyes fro mere inches away.

"Or do you doubt that, given the chance, I would entirely consume you?" he said, pausing to hold that fathomless gaze for a moment before dipping once more to kiss Devesh with a decadent sort of care.

Something tugged at the edges of his awareness, just beyond his ken but only just. Something was amiss. He didn't realize consciously that Devesh was somehow unsatisfied with the moment, though he was sensitive enough to his lover's normally pervasive state of calm to not miss it when the Priest cast his attention away for a moment. Devesh searched for something else, and it gave the warlord pause to try and discern what he'd overlooked. He looked up from his affections when the flicker of Craft whispered through the air, and he watched as Devesh pierced his own flesh on his Birthright. He pressed that bloodied thumb to Vihaan's lips, and the warlord's darkly burning gaze held firm to the Priest's while he parted his lips to allow his tongue to flick against the macabre offering. His lips enveloped the offered thumb, eyes closing while he bathed the with his tongue and mouth.

*What is it you wish of me?* he asked, a sober solemnity in the thoughts he shared. *I would give it to you, to please you, whatever you ask of me.*