THE St. Louis Speakeasy
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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 7:18 am GMT 
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"I could," he repeated in a whisper. Meeting Septimus' eye, he smiled a bold, defiant smile. "Do you think I'm going to?"

In the past years or so, Han had gradually come to understand a particular paradox in his father's nature. That Lodewijk ruled their home with an iron fist was unmistakable. But Han had also come to suspect, on some subconscious level, that his father did not want docile, obedient sons. Han would, of course, be beaten for disobedience, particularly if that disobedience in any way undermined his father's public image. Once it became apparent that Han would not easily be found, Lodewijk would stop looking--or pretend to do so--so as not to expose this lapse in his total control.

It was only once they'd arrived home that his father's rage would explode into violence. And in the short term, it would be painful. But the holidays were nearly over, and soon enough Han would be back at school. And farther beyond that, he knew, his father would show him off with a little more pride, would treat him a little more like a man--the way he would never treat Koenrad. Because as much as Han strove to be the perfect son, he also knew the perfect son was one who dared to defy.

He stepped forward, ready to follow Septimus deeper into the shadows.

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:08 am GMT 
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"I thought not."

And so Septimus lead him on.

After only a few short steps the sound from the hall had already paled and grown to nothing more than a whisper, and then silence. The passage widened again... The stone less ragged and more worn, weathered into the smooth blocks that made up the walls on the corridors. The guard at the other end stood to attention and shifted from their way with a smart step, the gilded metal sheets barely making a sound. The armour was one of the only ornamental pieces here. The corridor for the most part was barren and loveless; a servant's walkway and little more, though there seemed precious few servants for such a monstrous place. Perhaps they were quick of foot and trained to disappear from sight; the wordless and invisible machinery that continuously churned beneath the smooth surface of the castle.

No one interrupted them, and the fissure of stone silently shut behind their quick footsteps.

It was only a short walk to the door, one taken at almost a run-- snatched glances, glimpses of furtive smiles, an electric silence. It had been a long time. The outside seemed very close now.

For once, the lock fell to Septimus' hand. Evidently restrictions were lifted somewhat for the night thanks to the guests, and it was with a burning, keen look that the young master of the house stepped out of the door and into the watchful night.

It wasn't savage, like the night they first ventured out. The wind was still, and the skies clear... No rain would interrupt them. Instead of the blinding darkness they'd first known, the grounds before them were traced in silver, each blade of grass and twig dusted with starlight. The night air was crisp, enough to show their breath, but not enough to hurt or cause a shiver.

The Rose garden, as ever lay first to their right. A night of conversation, trawling those immaculate beds with the gilded flowers and genteel formality, if they so wanted. But further lay the yew tree, the maze beyond, and after that the darkness of the long and lonely forest that covered the mountains like a cloak.

For a few hours, they were their own masters.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 1:28 am GMT 
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Immediately, Han brushed past Septimus, stepping clear of the house and letting the fresh air wash over him. He did so as if there were nothing more natural in the world. Obviously, their escape did not hold the same level of significance for him as it did for Septimus. Here the trees were different, as were the mountains, the stars. Rather than shrink from the unknown, he seemed to expand in this wide, open space, as though he couldn't plunge in quickly enough. The quiet night air at once soothed and electrified him; he felt very alive.

He slipped his hands into his pockets and turned back to face Septimus. He walked backwards like this for a ways, taking slow, meandering steps--roughly following the path--without looking where he was going. Han hadn't quite abandoned the pretense of looking at least moderately grown-up, but there was no masking the way he was beaming now. Cool starlight glinted off the whiteness of his uneven teeth.

"So... where to?"

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Mon Feb 02, 2015 10:39 am GMT 
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For a moment the other boy stood quite still in the shadow of the doorway... He eyes closed, letting the air strike the skin of his face and move through his hair like cold fingers. For a heartbeat he seemed to take his weight back, hand subconsciously reaching back for the door before opening his eyes and looking at Han where he stood before him, bathed in moonlight and grinning.

His fingers grasped thin air, and then curled into a fist to hang by his side. The door remained closed behind them.

Septimus walked forward... At first something cautious about his footsteps, as if testing the uneven ground beneath his feet, the soles of his shoes that had only ever touched burnished wood and fur rugs. The earth beneath his feet was hard, and the grass that rose to graze his ankle fresh and damp with late-night dew. The air was so sweet with the scent of newly fallen rain and leaves. His gaze was drawn down to the path before him, then glancing up, seeing Han again... Picked out in Mercury, and behind him the shadow of the mountains.

Once again, not quite a vision but rather a feeling would lance through the memory. Some sort of shiver.

The steps became stronger, longer, almost a stride, for one moment almost a run-- striding past him, face tilted up to the cold moon.

"Anywhere."

A laugh; brief and crisp was let onto the night air, so fleeting you could almost miss it.

"According to the land charts there are nymph clans along the lake shores, and a herd of centaurs in the west of the forest." He turned, glancing back at him, running his eyes down his companion in that intense, analytic way of his. And whilst he didn't smile, not exactly, there was something in his eyes...

"Anywhere. We've got the whole night."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Tue Feb 10, 2015 8:49 pm GMT 
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"The lake, then."

Han was rarely one to linger over a decision that could just as easily be made on impulse. He knew little about nymphs or centaurs; his school's survey course of magical creatures worked its way regionally across the globe, beginning in Africa, and they wouldn't even begin to touch on Europe until the following semester. But it was a feeling, a whim, nothing so rational as to merit explanation.

A sudden shiver ran through him: exhilaration, rather than cold. Briefly, he caught Septimus' arm and gave him a gentle tug forward, though he no longer seemed to need the encouragement. It was hardly a conscious gesture, just a boyish confirmation that both were here and ready to strike out into something vast and glorious and unknown. Somewhere beyond the flawless rose garden lay the wild heart of these lands. And in that moment Han felt it very possible that they might find it, tonight, the two of them.

Was it his imagination, or did the roses seem to bend aside as they slipped by? He glanced over at his companion, wondering if Septimus had noticed. In the moonlight, his pale skin and hair had become a wash of silver. He looked like a stray sliver of the moon which had touched the earth and assumed the form of a boy, thin and aloof, as remote as the stars from which he'd fallen. Luminous.

The garden yielded to them, and they slipped through it like fugitive kings.

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Wed Feb 11, 2015 7:01 am GMT 
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Running, breathless, pausing here and there to explore a tree felled by lighting, or a statue with its face long since carved away by the long progress of time and the cruel wind that laced the valleys. But here it still stayed civilised, to some extent. These were still the gardens. It was a long time till their footsteps fell to a halt in the shadow of the forest that formed the barrier between the world of te house, and the unknown if what lay beyond. Han arrived first, Septimus following shortly after. He'd been losing speed, and as they stood there together of the two of them his breathing was the most strained. Despite the cool night, Han may have spied a single bead of sweat slip down the side of his neck to disappear into the shadows of his throat.

Behind them still lurked the noises of the night. The screech of owls and the faint rustle now and then of nighttime creatures... They'd spy snatches of luminous eyes, watching them cut through territory half-given over to the wild. They could still see the lights of the house, begging them home... The obedient, thornless roses, the comforting nooses around their necks and their father's steadying hands.

Ahead lay the impenetrable silence and majesty of the forest.

Septimus glanced at his companion. His blue eyes slid down from his face, the strength in his arms, the unadulterated adventure of him; more keen than any blade, eyes watching the dread in front of them with that insatiable thirst. He looked raw, and free.

He reached out-- Not the same strong touch as Han's, the gentle pull urging him forward-- he obviously lacked the experience, the knowledge of how to touch another person's body... And instead ghosted his fingertips along the back of Han's hand. Fleeting, quick enough to almost be an insult, or instruction. A touch of frost.

But Septimus was already walking deeper into the shadows, and didn't look back. His slender white fingers had already curled out of reach, burning with the heat of Han's hand; stolen and rare.

It only took a few steps for the sound to be killed. As if someone had dropped a cloak around the forest; one that blocked out light and sound. Still, there was just enough to see by. Around them the trees towered, like the gaunt pillars of some ancient cathedral... The pine needles beneath their feet softening their footfalls to silence. The air tasted like sweet resin and sap. The sky was blotted out; a strange twilight, treading across a floor that had not seen the sun for centuries.

"It's only half a mile or so of the wood between the gardens and the lake."

Septimus hadn't lowered his voice, and yet the sound still fell soft, as if the trees muffled his words as a warning. Don't disturb the air.

"It's a belt, you can see it from the study. Apparently it was shaped as a shield between the castle and beyond, if the lake falls."

He glanced back at him with a faint smirk.

"Of course, the last time a battle took place here was centuries ago. ... That's unless our fathers decide to take issue with eachother over our transgressions."

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 1:24 pm GMT 
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Han returned the look with a cocky, boyish grin. "I'm worth a war. Don't you think, Septimus?"

Despite the bravado he radiated, there was a hush in his voice, a faintly reverent air in his bearing as he stepped into the space beneath the trees. It was like entering a cathedral, the smell of the pines its incense, so thick in the air he could taste it on his tongue.

He had never been particularly imaginative. At home, it was his sister who had always provided the impetus when they played pretend; left to his own devices, Han was just as happy pursuing some variety of sport or messing about in the garden and getting in the way of all the staff. The creative realms were largely unknown to him. Unlike Septimus, he'd never felt the need to conjure forms from dancing lights, nor had he ever attempted to invent or even alter a spell. Yet now, when Septimus spoke of ancient battles in these woods, Han found himself envisioning screams and explosions to rend the silence, the thick smell of blood and smoke on the air, the thud of falling bodies and the deep concussive bursts of heavy magic.

For the first time, he felt the true transgressive measure of what they were doing. He'd strayed a bit as they first fell under the canopy: springing up to walk the spine of a fallen tree like a tightrope, investigating a curious spray of mushrooms. Now, however, he drew closer to Septimus. A little too close, and their shoulders bumped gently. He didn't bother to apologize. But he couldn't repress a slight shiver, and his smile took on the faint bashfulness of a boy who's spooked himself.

It wasn't the emptiness of the forest which unnerved him. He'd been out on the veld before. But even in the midst of that vastness, life was everywhere, even if you couldn't see it. Here, however, on this night, it felt as though the two of them were the only two living beings for miles. As though they were trespassing on lands which rightfully belonged to the ancient, dead warriors whose bodies had fed the soil on which they now trod.

Half a mile. That wasn't so far. And if Septimus could do it, so could he. Because as infuriating as he so often found the other boy, there was something about him which made Han want to be the best version of himself, to put forward his best face and then live up to it. Maybe because Septimus was so hard to impress, the only one Han had ever known who hadn't instantly taken a liking to him and fallen into his orbit. The only peer whose approval he'd ever felt the need to earn.

He squared his shoulders and followed Septimus deeper into the heart of the old forest.

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2015 2:06 pm GMT 
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"You're not. But you'd still probably cause one anyway."

The grin was returned by a smile; fleeting, sharp and half-lost in the grey half-darkness. Their shoulders bumped together. Brief touches, so informal and unnecessary after the long months of sterile handshakes and half-bows, instructed and inspected by their respective families. Organic, unscripted. It made the pale veneer of the partly miles away so much more listless and dour.

When they first met, up to a few weeks, perhaps even hours earlier, Septimus would have shied back from the contact. Don't touch me. Now, he seemed to tolerate it, if not quite return it-- but then, not quite safeguard it from happening again either. And there was no denying that faint gleam in his eyes as Han moved closer; something curious and almost victorious flickering over his face.

Ever since his first moment, after all, this boy had appeared to be bathed in death. His dispassionate number of a name, the endless portraits of the dead leering down from the walls and his study still emblazoned with his fallen brother's belongings. Battles and dead men had been his company for as long as he could recall, and the ghostless cathedral of his forest held no terror for him. What did came after these silent trees, in the places you couldn't see from the highest window and that fell under the shadow of this enchanted forest.

Tree was no real sense of time passing. The soft tread of their feet, stumbling now and then or pausing to run their hands gingerly across the scars in the bark the only way to tell time was moving. It could have been hours, or minutes till the thick canopy above them thinned enough to allow stray beams of moonlight to paint over the soft floor. Before them the trees rapidly grew further apart, till suddenly a breeze fell over their faces, enticing them forward and back into the cool night air. Abruptly the air was full of noise; the rustling of the tree tops as the wind ran its fingers over the forest, the quiet chirrup and stir of nighttime things. And, as they stepped out of the forest, they were met with the curved guard of the mountain's bases-- the rock hard and flinty beneath their feet as almost sheer mountains grew on either side-- stern guards of the bottleneck that protected the entrance to the forest. And directly beneath them, if you descended the jagged feet of the mountains lay the lake. Black and enormous, it only barely seemed to reflect the fragile moon as it hung low, half-hidden by the rock faces that toward over them. This was the wild, far older than any castle or man-warped forest.

A part of the world Septimus had only seen for the first time; a cut of the world just a little further than the horizon painted from his bedroom window. This was what lay outside the silken cage.

The memory shivered, laced through with some emotion like fear, something raw.

He had stood level with Han, but now the boy's footsteps drew back, as if reeled back into the silence and the entrapping darkness that lay behind them; old, familiar deathlike forest-- away from this new world so brimming with life and that framed Han's silhouette and crowed it in stars.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 9:00 am GMT 
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He struck a dark silhouette against the night sky. The stars, like sprays and eddies of ocean mist, stretched out to the horizon on all sides. Their luminous canopy cradled the death-pale moon. The stars were so numerous and bright, the lake so still and black, that Han had a fleeting impression that the world had tipped upside-down--that he stood at the edge of the sky, staring up into the waters.

The sound of hesitant footsteps cut through the eerie chorus of night noises, which had risen up around them the moment they left the forest. In spite of himself, Han felt as though they lingered now in the shadowy place between worlds, the realms of the living and the dead, though he couldn't have said which was which. He reached back, his ears abruptly attuned to the rustle of Septimus' jacket and the crunch of gravel and bark beneath his feet. And like a faithful Orpheus, his hand closed unseen around the other boy's forearm, feeling the cold bones of him even through that finely tailored sleeve. It was a light touch, and yet insistent.

We've come this far, it seemed to say.

His eyes stayed fixed on the stars. As a cool wind swept across the lake, rippling the dark waters, Han breathed it in and let it fill his lungs with the taste of the ancient wilds.

"This is yours, isn't it." He spoke quietly, as though unwilling to add his voice to the rustle of trees and other living things. "Or it will be."

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2015 11:52 am GMT 
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"Yes."

Septimus fell still at the touch. His feet dragged to a halt, though his eyes remained fixed on the twilight of the forest. Han's fingers were the only things seeming to hold him there; as if he had somehow managed to snare a ghost that still threatened to disappear back into that crypt of a wood.

The flutter of his pulse. Light, irregular, rapid through that fine silk cloth.

Slowly he turned, careful not to disturb the touch holding him. He moved as if Han's fingers could turn into a brace, or, perhaps worse, leave him. And so he looked back, holding his breath, as if taking shelter in the darkness of the other boy's shadow.

And this world-- his world, lay tangible before him. His.

His. And yet Han was the one basking in it when the owner seemed barely willing to draw breath in its air. Out of the two of them, only one dared to look at the Heavens. And hold starlight.

He dragged his gaze away from the blackness of the lake to their hands. The frail, tapered, scholar's hands with tremors only held in check by the other. Strong, and secure, and still. And warm. Against skin white with fear, and cowardice, and a lifetime hidden from the sun.

Unseen, those pale eyes glittered momentarily with a kind of frustrated, yearning malice.

"It's mine."

The touch between them was broken abruptly; his voice a little too cool. And whilst he drew out from Han's shadow, he still couldn't raise his eyes towards the stars.

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2015 10:56 am GMT 
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"Lucky you, then."

The spell was broken then. Whatever transcendent awe had brought Han through the forest to the shores of this lake was gone. This was no mystical journey, merely two boys who had snuck away from a dull family party. Under ordinary circumstances, this would have been enough. As it was, it felt strangely like a disappointment.

"So, this is the lake. What do you think--midnight swim? Or would you rather go looking for centaurs?"

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Hey kid.
 Post subject: Re: Friends Close, Enemies Closer...
PostPosted: Fri Dec 29, 2017 4:45 pm GMT 
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“I don’t know how to swim.”

As soon as the words were out he seemed to regret them; his mouth bolted itself into a straight line and he threw his gaze upwards, finding some fact about the stars or the nature of the constellations in a doomed attempt to distract from the confession just made. And there they were, waiting. Suddenly they were accessible, the heavens, just there, and that touch he had just broken wasn’t ownership, or triumph but... and the stars were so far and yet as pale as he was.

The memory throbbed once with the sting of regret; and then something else, a beat not unlike that of a child’s racing heart as Han’s grin broke across his face, and he reached out a hand again to snare him by the wrist and pull him behind him on the wild chase down the decline. The memory became fragments, scattered.

on the rocks beneath their feet

starlight

slipping, ankles twisting, soles too smooth to persue this treacherous path

No, no, I can’t

You will

No

laughter gasping

leaves spiralling overhead to coat the lake’s surface. they smell like mould, a damp, dank green coloured smell, yet pleasantly sweet

a thousand drops of black water! they hang in the air like bulbous dark motes, like rain falling in reverse upwards

Han tugging off his own dress robes, and pulling his off over protestations, and they fall from thin shoulders as easily as a moth shrugs away its chrysalis. They lie like a pair of severed bat wings on the damp gleaming rocks behind him, and his body feels so light without them, as if he is a sort of paper lantern fashioned into the shape of a boy. He looks over his shoulder at them, they seem far beneath him now, and he’s being pushed forwards away from the scent of pine to the scent of cold water and weeds and wet, fresh earth ground up by their careless foot falls

Thump thump the memory goes. If beats like a drum, it trembles with terror and joy and thrill

hands on his shoulder blades, warm and foreign through his shirt. he realises for the first time that they are animals

a breathless voice in his ear


The lake isn’t black, it’s littered, dusted with a million white and silver specks of dust that tear through space above them, and as he breaks the surface into them it’s like falling into the galaxy headfirst.


flailing, coughing, choking and the sensation of being dragged towards whatever silt death trap of a floor waited below before and then—

that voice speaking to him like music, like food to a starving man, and the sensation of being held and pulled up, and air rushing into his lungs over the sound of Han’s inescapable laughter

you really can’t swim! - I told you! Oh god, I’m going to die - just kick your legs like

Time seemed long and short all at once, both rancid and sweet with terror. There was less memory than sensations; the cold and agonising press of the dark water, the feeling of an iron lung entrapping his ribcage and squeezing, Han’s arms, the splash of water making fleeting shadows and light dance across their skin, their breath like fog between them. Han’s head flung back, mouth open in an ecstatic grin, uneven teeth like little pearls.

The images start to take form again — a boy flat on his back, stretched out across the black rocks beneath him, and another close by on his hands and knees. The the night air was thick with the sound of their hoarse laughter and harsh breathing, and the whistle of the wind in the trees. The boy lying down raised a pale hand to tug away his cravat and flung it away. It lay on the ground like an abandoned snakeskin. He was cursing Han’s name with every fractured breath. His pale face was flecked with leaf litter, hair wet and wild, blue eyes the colour of a storm.

“Next time... next time I will drown you, Johannes I’ll...”

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