forum Choking on Crimson Ash [OxO // mature 18+ // closed]
Started by @ElderGod-Carrots

people_alt 69 followers


The Under has seven layers. Seven layers of pain. Seven layers of torture. Seven realms.

The place was supposed to be cut off from the land of the living but someone has opened up the gates and the demons are flooding through. One at a time, the gates to the levels of The Under are creaking open and releasing the nightmares that haunt the Fae of Indrigos. The city of Starlight has never been more afraid.

It has started with the most basic level but the more death and destruction they cause, the stronger they become, the more they allow for the higher levels, the more deadly levels, to open and let their horrors escape. Ezekt, the God of The Under, is determined to be free. His followers are increasing in number, are becoming more powerful in order to let the demons they worship escape. People are dying. Death is on everyone's doorstep and no matter what magic is used, nothing is strong enough. Nothing will ever be strong enough, not unless the gates are closed and locked for good.

Caeso Duria is the Captain of the King's Guard, has worked and lived in the city his whole life, and is just as afraid as the rest of the people he protects. But he won't let it show, he can't let it show, because then even more chaos will ensue and the King certainly isn't doing anything to help.

But that is when he meets them. The man who had been marked by Ezekt himself. The man who wanted to close those gates just as badly because the longer they are open, the quicker his death will arrive. He needs those gates closed to protect himself from the God, because if Ezekt is freed? He is a dead man. Properly and utterly dead.

And Caeso sees it as an opportunity to set things right. With someone who is just as determined to shut the gates surely they can complete that goal, right? Right? They both get what they want if they team up, so why wouldn't they?

They just have to make it through all seven layers alive.

@kirky here we are bestie, a solid copy-paste of the prompt and here is Caeso

Name: Caeso Duria
Gender: male, he/him, queer
Age: 138
Race: Fae
Looks: Caeso has light brown hair with streaks of deep brown situated through his soft waves. It falls around his ears, maybe a little longer but definitely not anything more. He usually wears it down however when it gets longer and he is unable to have a haircut he ties up the top half to keep it out of his face in what he calls (what I call because I do this) a ‘ponkle’. His eyes are crystal blue like the ocean, strikingly so. They’re often compared to oceans and rivers with the storms they hold inside. It’s one of his main features that enraptures people. Caeso has no facial hair however sometimes he has light stubble, mainly during the winter seasons when he can’t be arsed to shave. He is tall, standing at 6’4 and has the build of a man who has seen battle, knows how to use a sword but is lean and toned rather than muscular and bulging. Caeso is tanned all year round, with the look of sunlight burned into his skin from the golden glow he has. His features are harder than most Fae, rather than the delicate jawlines and soft curves they are sharp and hard and defined which makes him stand out in the crowd.
Tattoos: Swirls extending across his chest
Piercings/Jewelry: eyebrow piercing over his left eye
Scars/Distinguishing Marks: a birthmark that goes down his neck across his right shoulder - it’s a light brown colouring and is jagged and looks like someone has taken a bite out of his neck
Preferred style of clothing: Caeso is usually wearing some form of royal uniform, whether that’s simply a white shirt and black pants with the royal crest that has been embroidered onto the shoulder or a belt with the same, there is at least one crest to be found. But if he is on duty he is wearing his full uniform with his sword strapped at his side. The sword has a handle of gold, with two plant-like vine swirls on the extending handles, what looks to be an eye above the main section of the handle and a diamond on the very top.
Personality: Caeso is hard-working and dedicated, he loves his job and what he does, loves his men and his friends and cares deeply and isn’t afraid to show it. As much as he is friendly in his general life, usually coming across as fairly relaxed, when he is on duty he is a different person. Not unfeeling and cold but down to business, straightforward and doesn’t tolerate crap. It makes him the perfect captain because he is kind and caring when he needs to be but also able to make tough decisions and be the leader that is needed in hard times.
Background: Caeso grew up as the son of the previous captain of the royal family and as such has been very acquainted with royal life. He was a few years older than the prince however they were very close despite this. Good life, good family life, he loves his job and loves the royal family and his men. He has a younger brother and sister who are twins, both his parents are still alive.
Magic: photokinesis, the ability to manipulate light

@ElderGod-kirky group

amazing, chef's kiss love the man already
time to torture him

Name: Nari Setoku
Gender: male, he/him, gay
Age: 126
Race: Fox Spirit (demonic? maybe? idk)

Looks: Technically speaking, Nari's 'natural' form is a fox; go figure. But he much prefers the most human version he's able to get. The best way to describe him is soft but sharp. Tall and slim, he stands at 6'8, with soft curves, tapered waist, thin wrists, such and such. Pale skin with rose undertones, especially in his lips. He's got narrow and up-tilted mono-lidded eyes that are a deep burgundy with subtle white streaks within them. Short and shaggy blonde hair that has some braids in it, and has enough volume that it's always fluffy. Sharp and pointed face, small nose, crooked smiles, and pointed teeth with slight canines. He's got fluffy fox ears, and his hands/feet are softer than the rest of his skin and very slightly padded. He is also super light, in terms of weight, and is never warm to the touch, but rather a nice chill/cooler temperature that's nice to snuggle against when hot.
His fox form is a bit bigger than normal foxes. Fur is blonde like his hair, with three pairs of symmetrical red hook-like markings on his cheekbones/ under his eyes. Red dots over his snout and cheeks. Red toe beans, and soft red tufts of fur marbled throughout his coat.

Tattoos: A half-sleeve of a light inky-style forest portrait, all done in red but just faded enough that it's not jarring.
Piercings/Jewelry: Arm bands, (tongue piercing?? tbd)
Scars/Distinguishing Marks: He's got the same markings on his face as he does as a fox, so the six red hooks over his cheekbones and then red freckle like dots over his nose and cheeks, but those are more faded and hardly noticeable.
Preferred style of clothing: Anything comfortable. Especially likes cropped shirts, sleeveless shirts, slightly baggy pants that are banded at the ankle. Usually something pastel with black accents to counter the overwhelmingly light color palette. Switches out clothes at a whim because he's indecisive and impulsive.

Personality: Nari is just a living and breathing ball of sunshine and mischief. Bull-headed to a fault, and will annoy people to death for the fun of it. He loves fucking with people and playing tricks on them, be it either blatantly lying to their face or putting a charm on them that temporarily scrambles their thoughts. Nothing is off limits, but generally he's harmless. Tries to get people to loosen up when they're a little too stiff for his liking, and is a definite rule-breaker. Spite is his best friend. But he's also caring, and attentive, and most of what you see is a front to cover up some deeper and less pretty emotions that he doesn't want people seeing. Insecurity runs deep through his blown ego.

Background: At a young age, he was contracted with Ezekt since he was a natural-born trickster and eager to please. He was tasked with bringing misfortune down on others, and had quickly become a malevolent omen. As he got older, though, he got bored of it, and he got concerned when the requests were getting more frequent and nastier, bordering on hands-off murder. So, he rebelled. He went against every rule given to him, refused to ind the poor souls that kept getting added to his list, and did his own thing. He lived his life how he wanted without a care in the world. But Ezekt wasn't letting him go without punishment. Now, he lives with Greed's Sight, a curse brought down upon him that he's lived with for decades, ignoring the fact that it makes him go blind "at random" (so he says)

Magic: As a spirit, he can hover in the air or float around as he wishes, but can't exactly fly. Just a little off the ground. Charms are his favorite way of using his trickster magic. He's not very powerful, just a minor fox spirit, but he's good enough at what he does to be useful to the death god


(he is babey i luv)

On a whole, if Caeso was to describe the state of the world at the present in one word, it would be fucked.

Because that was exactly what they were. Completely and utterly fucked considering the gates to The Under were open. From what he could tell, it was only the first couple. He wasn't well versed in the levels of the Death's God's realm because it was supposed to be impossible, really, to open those gates. There was a reason they were locked, because the destruction that followed in Ezekt's name was difficult enough to deal with let alone having to deal with the God himself. Locked away for good reason, Caeso knew, because the stories and legends of the Gods told of stories of his downfall. The guard presumed that it had only missed the God off enough to bide his time before he could make his return to the over world.

And for some reason, that was going to be now.

The destruction that had been plaguing the city had started out small. Unresolved, gruesome deaths to start, missing people, parts of the city burning down in the night with not a clue as to who committed such an act, no trace but the blood and bodies that had been left behind. But they had become careless with time. The more death they caused, the stronger the monsters and demons became, the stronger their connection with The Under, and the greater their ability to open those gates.

How they had slipped through the gates to begin with was an entirely different issue but wasn't important considering they were already through the gates. The first level was open, that much was clear. Ezekt's followers were even growing in number, making themselves more prominent, even during the day. No one knew who they were, why they were helping a God that would undoubtably kill them the moment they were no longer of use to the God, but again, it wasn't the most pressing matter or issue that needed to be dealt with.

No, the most pressing issue was trying to figure out how to shut the gates. Because the longer they were open, the harder it was going to be to shut.

The king wasn't helping matters, had practically instructed his Captain to figure out what was going on himself because he was too scared to do anything. As much as Caeso loved the man, his incompetence irked him more than he let on. It was made worse considering his people were dying and he only seemed to care about keeping himself alive, and had pretty much demanded Caeso be the one to shut the gates. Whether or not he died in the process, it seemed his king didn't care. But the guard was more worried about the people than anything else. Even his strongest men didn't want to step foot anywhere near anything related to The Under. It was almost certain death stepping into that realm. But Caeso didn't exactly have a choice in the matter. It was let the city, the Fae inside, perish, and let the kingdom crumble, or find out how the fuck he was going to stop Ezekt from escaping The Under.

The only problem was, well, the main issue he was facing at that moment, was his lack of knowledge on the area. He couldn't go in alone, surely, but he would if he had no other choice. It was how the guard had ended up in the extensive archives of the city library, pouring over the less than great selection of books and history related to The Under, to Ezekt, and hoping to find something.

There was little light this far down into the archives, and the Fae guard was using his abilities to conjure as much of the candle light into a singular point above him, leaving the rest of the place shrouded in darkness. In the near silence, his thoughts were just as loud as his frantic turning of pages.

@ElderGod-kirky group

Carrying a curse from the Death God himself should normally count as dealing with his nonsense and being at the tail end of his wrath, being in a constant state of having that looming presence bearing down over you back until you snap in half. And it did, in a sense. But when you've dealt with that nonsense for the majority of your life, you learn to live with it and forget. Or, in Nari's case, live with it in the fullest purely out of spite.

He had thought that he was safe. The most Ezekt had done to him for his defiance was pop an inconvenient curse onto him, but nothing else. Even when Nari had taken the ever-growing list of names and burned it in the pyre, effectively disconnecting himself from the Death God and saving those people from the torturous misfortune meant for them—nothing. No crack of thunder declaring his time is nigh, no split in the earth to swallow him whole, not even an elder spirit to scold him and pinch his ears. Ezekt had no power over him, not when he was safely locked behind those gates and Nari kept his nose far away from them. And the scholars he had responsibly consulted confirmed that he didn't seem to be in any trouble of further punishment. Because he wasn't within reach behind the gates, he couldn't be controlled. It all worked out nicely, just a minor curse to contend with for the rest of his life.

Then the world went to shit, and that safety shattered.

Demons and monsters flooded the land, raining down destruction and death. Nari had desperately traveled the land in search of the people he had been supposed to bring misfortune to, but he was too late. Every house, every nook in the street, had nothing but a bloodbath. Or he simply couldn't find them, which was unusual. Ezekt's demons had gotten to them in Nari's absence, and it made him sick. But there were more—so much more. He watched, high up on one of the tallest buildings, as parts of the city burned with no source, as people screamed for help but not long enough to actually be helped. The monsters hadn't found him yet, but he knew that it was only a matter of time. Ezekt wouldn't just forget him, not when he had been so pissed off at his dutiful little servant for defying him and his curse. Nari couldn't get caught, or else he'd end up dead, just like the people he had refused to torment.

But not getting caught would prove difficult when more and more of those demons and monsters flooded through the gates, and it was only a matter of time when they got even stronger, until Ezekt was bearing down on the Fae and everyone that had wrong him. He was locked up for a reason, and he needed to stay behind those gates at all costs. Which meant that someone had to close the gates. His scholar friend had vehemently demanded it not be him, because of the risk it posed to his safety, but he was at risk no matter where he was now. He could be spotted and slaughtered at the drop of a dime if he was just noticed in the corner of an eye. His other friend agreed. Nari needed Ezekt gone, needed those gates locked and sealed for good, because otherwise he was as good as dead. Nothing but the occasional bedtime story for those who he had once tormented.

If it lifted his curse in the process, then that was an added bonus.

Nari slipped through a high window of the city library, wondering if the Fae had kept records of The Under that would help him. He doubted they would, but it also gave him a good hiding place for the time being. It was dark, and reeked of loneliness as he landed silently on the floor. But his ears twitched as he heard the faintest rustle of paper. Someone else was here. Nari crossed the library towards that light, bare feet as silent as the library itself, out of curiosity. Whoever it was didn't sound like they were having a fruitful search; the page turns were loud and frantic, aggravation lining each sound. Maybe this person was looking for information too? As the spirit rounded the end of a shelf, he spotted a figure hunched over a pathetic collection of books. Nari hopped up and hovered in the air, moving closer until he was leaning over the man from above in an attempt to be nosy and figure out what had this stranger in a tizzy.


Caeso hadn't heard the new presence make their way into the library, too focused on the books that he was hunched over to notice that someone had snuck in. The darkness concealed their movement, and the light that Caeso was controlling really was only bright enough for the soft surrounding of his circle of books he had laid out on the ground. Every book he could find on The Under. Every detail, every manuscript, every documentation about The Under, about Ezekt himself, those awful gates, he had pulled everyone from the shelf and thrown them down in a hurry.

Time wasn't on his side. People were dying, houses were burning, and the captain was more than aware that eventually, it would make its way into the palace, to get to the Fae king and bring him down with the rest of the city. Caeso had never been so terrified for his future. All he hoped was that his message to his family had arrived, that they had left the city, that they were somewhere safe and far away and weren't caught up in the mess that was Ezekt's destruction.

Somewhere outside there was a thundering of feet as the Death's Gods followers rallied together. With every death they, too, grew in number. Some people, Caeso presumed, had only joined the forces in hopes that it may save their lives in the long run, but they were stupid, and a quick death was most likely the best way out of the horrible shitshow that was now their lands. Whatever Ezekt wanted, whether it was power or land or just simply death, Caeso didn't know. He didn't really want to know, he wanted nothing to do with the bullshit that was happening but he was right in the middle of it. He was going to have to fucking go to The Under itself, try and find a way to shut those gates and stop it all from getting worse. If he could somehow, by some miracle, manage to do that, then it would be worth it in the end.

Right now, it didn't seem worth it at all.

Not when the books barely had any information about how to shut the gates. Seven in total, seven keys of some sort, hidden away in the realms themselves, but it was hard to see or find the specifics of them, and it only had the captain growing more and more frustrated.

It didn't help when he eventually, felt a looming presence over his shoulder. How had he not noticed it before? Finally looking up from the book he held in his lap, and up over his shoulder, Caeso practically jumped out of his skin as he swore maybe a bit louder than he should have, "The fuck are you doing?!" A stranger, a very unusual-looking stranger, and one that had scared him shitless. His heart lurched as if it had been to The Under and back.

@ElderGod-kirky group

Whoever this man was, his frantic flipping of the pages was quickly becoming annoying. All Nari wanted to do was inspect the books, after catching sight of a few titles that looked promising. But he couldn't when the pages flipped faster than he could read, and there was no logical pattern or reason behind it all. The spirit pouted to himself, leaning in just a little more and hovering practically right over the man, but it seemed his presence was eventually noticed when the man slowly looked over his shoulder—and yelled.

Nari reared back, nearly as startled from the sudden noise and at getting caught, and his ears flattened, then perked up, as he sat cross-legged mid-air with his hands braced against an invisible surface between his legs. "Reading," he said. The word was said so simply, so innocently, like he hadn't just scared a stranger half to death. "Well," he continued, "trying to, but you're not making it easy."

There was a spark of interest in his eye, and curiosity. Who else would be so desperate to research The Under? Nari wanted to know more so that he had a better idea of how to get rid of Ezekt, either by removing him from the world entirely or simply locking those gates once more and throwing away the keys—after wrapping them in reinforcing chains. If this person, who looked vaguely familiar but wasn't ringing any bells, was looking for more information as well, then Nari had the sneaking suspicion that they had similar goals. It didn't automatically mean partnership, because he could be wrong, but it wouldn't hurt to prod for more to get a better understanding of why the sudden interest in The Under.

He leaned to the side to take a peek at the books now that the stranger wasn't flipping through them, and his head cocked even more to read one that was tilted further to the side. Interesting reads, but not a lot of options. This was the city library, and they had a shitty collection of books on a major God that was now reigning down destruction upon the Fae kingdom. He would admit that no one could've foreseen this happening, but it still felt a little disappointing to not have much on the subject of a God.

"Looking a little lonely in here," Nari said, flicking his gaze back to the stranger and sitting back upright. "What brings you to the city library? In the dark?"


Caeso narrowed his striking blue eyes at the stranger, glaring up at him from his spot on the floor as the man floated above him. Reading. Ah yes, reading, obviously, over his shoulder silently and not making his presence known to the captain and instead inching ever closer until he had been practically leaning over him to get a look at the books scattered around the cross-legged man.

Whoever he was, Caeso wasn't impressed. Scaring him half to death and then asking questions about why he was there as if he hadn't just been looking at the same books that he had. Surely he could have made a guess as to why he was there. Either way, he was still trying to calm his heart beat to care too much about that. The man- fox? - for whatever reason had come to the same place, had been interested enough in what Caeso had been looking at feel he had to peer a little further over his shoulder to get a look. If the other was looking for information along the same lines, maybe this trip to the library wasn't going to be so pointless after all. Maybe this was someone who could help. Even if they seemed to have a thing for creeping around in the dark… silently.

Regardless, the thought didn't stop the captain from glaring. The light above them moved with a soft flick of his wrist so it hovered in between them, allowing a little more light to be cast on both their faces for them to see one another. It burned a little brighter, but the lack of light in the vicinity meant he couldn't make it burn any brighter. He did his best, for both their sakes. The library in the dark, especially considering what was happening outside, had even Caeso on edge, and any light that he could get to make sure that this stranger wasn't a threat was going to ease his heart a tad.

"Researching," The captain said, gesturing to the display of books, "And I'm not in the dark, I have enough light to read," He jerked his head to the ball of light, "What are you doing creeping around the library, in the dark, silently?"

The only reason someone would be creeping around at this hour in the dark would be if they didn't want to get caught by someone. Or something. Caeso had no other choice but to be down here because he had to find a way to close those gates. No one else was going to do it, his king had practically ordered it, and while the city was burning and people were being murdered in cold blood, it wasn't exactly something that could wait until morning. Hours would go by and there would probably not even be a city left to save if he didn't do something. But the library wasn't exactly providing many answers to any questions.

@ElderGod-kirky group

Deep burgundy squinted down at the stranger, amusement lining every inch of his face. This person spooked easily, if Nari had gotten such a reaction out of him for simply hovering. Granted, based on the emphasis on silent, it was easy to guess that his quiet approach had added to the scare since the library was presumably empty besides them. But, he was getting a nasty glare for it, and Nari couldn't help but find it funny that his mere presence had startled someone so badly that it put them into a bad mood. There were worse things out there, far worse, and they were actively carving their way through the Fae lands with an intent to maim and kill without mercy or thought. A little old retired bad omen was practically harmless compared to them.

But, that didn't seem to matter to this man. He swung whatever magic light he had been reading by so that it hovered between them, and this time Nari's squint was from the light. Though he couldn't see himself, he knew that the light was reflecting off of his eyes, so he tried maneuvering in the air to minimize it as much as possible, and to save his poor eyesight as it adjusted. In the end, he decided to have a bit of fun and play with this new mouse he had found.

Nari stretched out and rolled onto his back, until he was looking at the stranger upside down with a mischievous and toothy grin. From his position, his hair hung down in its messy glory, and he looked as though he was lounging midair. "You're very concerned about the silent part," he noted, just to poke at the bear. He couldn't help that he was light on his feet. "Are you scared I'm a ghost? A figment of your imagination?" Nari's grin deepened, eyes squinting, and his voice lowered into a dramatic hush, "A demon from The Under?" The fox spirit snickered and rolled back over and onto his stomach with his chin resting on his crossed arms.

"Curiosity," he finally answered. Not helpful at all, but he wasn't about to spill his every fear if he didn't need to. This was a random person, afterall, who was suspiciously researching the workings of The Under. For all Nari knew, he was looking to open more of the gates and eradicate the Fae people altogether. Maybe he was the reason Ezekt was getting loose in the first place.

Not that he actually thought that. This stranger seemed too huffy and cagey to be involved with the Death God. Some uppity stickler to rules, Nari guessed, who felt a moral obligation to do something about the slaughter. A fun type to mess with and run in circles around, especially when they got too dizzy and ended up losing their cool. That's when the real games started. Nari shrugged lazily. "This is the city library, a public space. I'm allowed here." Maybe. He didn't know if "fox spirit" was under the list of acceptable browsers. "Perhaps I wanted to look for a book on the history of ghouls and goblins. Fascinating stuff. You should really add it to your roster, better than this dull read."


Whoever this man was, Caeso figured he was a man who he would usually have no dealings with if it had been any other instance. From his grin, the way he spoke? The man was already getting on his nerves. He was still reeling from the scare more than anything, especially in the dark that was surrounding them. Yes, he was concerned about the silent part, because if he had crept up on him in such a manner what else was going to be lurking around the corners going unnoticed?

The demons from The Under had made their way into every nook and cranny that they could find so far, so it would be no surprise if they ended up down here in the old archives. It was the perfect hiding place, and it was why the captain was so on edge. His sword was sitting comfortably in reach if he so needed to use it, but he was hoping that he wouldn't have to. There was going to be bloodshed later on down the line whether he liked it or not, and if Caeso could avoid injuring himself so early on then he would gladly do so.

As the light moved in between them and the stranger's eyes glistened and reflected - glowed, almost - Caeso moved the light lower to allow for them to adjust, but he wouldn't deny that it was fucking freaky. Quiet as anything, glowing eyes, and those ears? The way he hovered in the air? As much as he was glaring furiously at him, there was a glimmer of curiosity mixed in with that confusion and annoyance, "Who- what are you?"

His jokes weren't funny, not at a time like this. He could have been a demon or a ghost, especially with the way he was floating about so nonchalantly he definitely could have been a ghost looking for some fun and to ease their boredom. No one would want to be outside, and no one was coming this far down into the library at this time of night with the chaos outside unless they were like Caeso, looking for something specific, "I'm not adding any books to my roster apart from these because at least these are useful." Well, not really. They hadn't provided any useful information as of yet and it was as clear as day.

@ElderGod-kirky group

Nari, seemingly incapable of sitting still for even a minute, moved his body back upright once more, but this time went towards the books at a decline. "Uh huh, and you were just on the verge of stabbing them for funsies because they were just so useful to you," he drawled as he approached the books across from the stranger. When he touched down onto the ground and circled the books, head cocked, his feet made no sound. It wasn't intentional, and he clearly wasn't trying to be sneaky as he practically danced around the books to read the covers without turning them, but that didn't mean anything to the stranger probably.

"But!" he exclaimed, and turned towards the man with a smile, "I'm glad you asked." Nari bowed with a flourish, but he couldn't contain his snicker from him being entertained by himself and his dramatics. "Nari Setoku, local fox spirit in your presence." Not at your service, because he was not subjecting himself to servitude once again. There was humor in his eyes and a twitch to his ears, and he had a knowing look as he added, "Maybe you should read up on your ghouls."

Because obviously the books about The Under weren't useful. What little information he could see while the stranger was flipping through was useless for the purposes of stopping the torment going on outside. It was as though the gates had let in a flood of The Under's influence, making the living land just as desolate and full of death as it was. Ezekt would rule with a hammering fist that would crush anyone who defied them—Nari included. He didn't know how long Gods held grudges, but they lived very long lived, and that seemed like ample fuel to carry on grudges and make them simmer and stew. Reading books on useless information wasn't going to help stop that inevitable from being inevitable. What Nari needed, and perhaps this jumpy man as well, was solid notes on The Under and Ezekt himself.

And unfortunately, he didn't think it would come from here. If that was the entire collection, then there was nothing of use to them if they kept that angle.

Having introduced himself, Nari went back to circling the books. He stepped through the mess with careful precision, angling his body and head to read titles once more as an idea struck him. The gates were the main priority. One book caught his attention, and he crouched down to flip through it. The gates. Surely there were clues about the gates and the keys meant to keep them secure. Riddles. Gods and scholars loved their fucking riddles. "Genuine question," Nari prompted, then continued before the man could deny answering, "have you looked at this with a cotton brain, it have you looked for tricks and nonsense?"


The stranger, Nari, had been in Caeso's presence for no longer than five minutes and he was already annoying beyond belief. With his dramatics and snickering at his own stupid jokes, it was almost insufferable. Maybe he was just on edge because of the literal burning of the world around him, or maybe it was because Nari just seemed to be someone who was a walking annoyance, he didn't know. He didn't think too much about it though because it wasn't important.

Whether or not the spirit was someone he would get along with wasn't important, not when he had things to do, and progress to make, which seemed to be falling short. It also seemed that Nari had noticed. How long had he been snooping around in the archives while he had been reading? The whole time? From the way Nari made no sound when he walked around the books, it could have been ages, and Caeso wasn't fond of the thought, not one bit. Silent and creepy and weird. Had Nari not asked him a question, he probably would have said something on the matter once more. But, he had already been called about for being stuck on Nari's silent feet, he wasn't about to make that comment again.

"I haven't exactly been looking for very long," The captain replied. His glare faded only a little, but the books around them made him just as annoyed as Nari himself. It wasn't any of his business what he had been doing or how he had been looking at the books. Did the spirit want information on The Under, too? Was that why he had stuck around? Probably why he had ended up over his shoulder all things considered, unless he was just a fucking creep who liked scaring the wits out of people, "Don't suppose you have a wonderful idea you're willing to share?"

But maybe the other was onto something. Maybe he shouldn't be looking at things from the usual angle.

As Nari flipped through the pages of one book, Caeso picked up another, one that, for the most part, had the majority of the same information as the rest of them. The same retelling of Ezekt's downfall, how he was locked away, his relation to the other Gods so on and so forth. But as he flipped to the chapters on the gates, now that he was paying more attention, it was clear there were pages missing from his. Pages on the sixth and seventh gates, the ones closest to Ezekt himself.

The ones on the first couple, however, were still there, and the images depicted the twisting gates and locks on the first. The gates into Aerroium. To the side, a passage of speech. Caeso had ignored it the first time around because he figured it was just some old wives' tale, something that wasn't important, but the words were sticking out now.

If the key to Aerroium is what you seek, heed these words as you follow the creek. Rivers of black and oceans of night, the dark contains the passage of white. Follow them down to the depths below, the reflection contains Ezekt's deepest woes.

@ElderGod-kirky group

As much as a trickster he was, looking for sneaky little riddles within a boring old textbook wasn't much of a delight or easy adventure. Some, he noticed, were tossed in as obvious ways to send people on wild goose chases if they decided to overthink the odd phrasing just a little too much. Others were complete nonsense, with no reason to the rhyme of the riddle. Smoke and air, but in text form. Whoever had written these books, they wanted to hide the information from anyone who was just zealous enough to go out on a hunt for something they shouldn't touch. But considering there were tricks within the pages, however shitty they might've been for the sake of deeper trickery, it meant that there was something within them that could be useful for those who knew what was real and what was fake. Crimson flames run amok among the towers of a sock? Utter nonsense, but some hopeful idiot would desperately look for some vaguely sock-looking rock with fire painted on it.

"I do, actually," Nari quipped, quickly discarding his book as useless when he couldn't find anything worth his time and attention, and picked up a new one. He cast a glance over at the stranger—who rudely stayed anonymous—to make a further comment. But when he noticed the other was going through another book as well with more purpose, it died on his tongue. "But it seems you already picked up on it."

The spirit trotted on over to the stranger and leaned over his shoulder, this time standing at his side instead of hovering over. Even without being in the air, Nari still towered over the man. His build was slighter, with a softer aesthetic than the angry man, so he wasn't necessarily bigger. But the stranger was shorter, much shorter than him, and he couldn't help but be amused by the difference. If they wanted to be eye to eye, Nari would have to do contortions. Or kneel, either one would work.

But, he had more important things to focus on than the shorty he had found all alone in the dark. The spirit cocked his head and read the section that looked to be a simple saying passed down through families. A quick children's story to tell of Ezekt and Aerroium's connection. "Well look at that," he murmured, "you managed to un-cotton your brain. Congrats. Now there's just six more to find, and they may or may not be in these books." Things like these liked to play treasure hunt. You started with one, and had to find the treasure to find the next clue. Or he could be wrong and they'd get lucky. Best not to bring down misfortune on something so important. Nari rose back up to his full height and glanced around the library, waiting for his vision to adjust back so he had better sights on the books shrouded in the dark. These couldn't possibly be the only ones on The Under?

"You never told me your name," he said, still looking, ears twisting around as if he could listen to the books and see if there were more (he couldn't), "Kind of rude. I told you mine and you even asked 'what' I am. Double rude." They were alone in the library, the stranger needn't worry about that. And the spirit had only been watching for a minute or so. But paranoia always got the best of people, and in situations like the one outside, Nari tried to cut the man just a little bit of slack for being short. It was funnier not to, though. But a voice in his mind whispered to not enjoy it too much, to not let his joy at teasing the stuck-up man reach too high of levels. Now wasn't the time to be in the dark.


Caeso looked up from the book and the passage, his finger resting on the page so he wouldn't lose his place, and his annoyed glare returned. It didn't help that he had to crane his neck upwards to get a good look at Nari from where he was sat. Even from down here he could tell the other was taller than him whether or not he was standing or sat, but it didn't make it any better considering he was hunched over on the ground and the other was standing at his full height. If he wasn't careful he was going to get a neck ache from having to look up constantly.

"Because fox-spirits are so common around these parts," The captain rolled his eyes, "Caeso. Caeso Duria." He omitted the title on purpose because it wasn't important. If he returned from The Under there might not even be a king to guard, an army to command, so did it really matter whether or not he added that tidbit in there? Probably not. His name was known regardless but he wasn't sure whether or not Nari would be aware of that. Wasn't important. It was the least important thing on the agenda right now. There were demons flooding the streets, blood lining the pavements and it seemed that Nari was more focused on him asking 'what' he was rather than that. They could be killed at any moment. A creature of The Under could easily sneak up behind them and pounce, take their lives before they even registered what was happening.

Caeso went back to flipped through the pages, keeping a hand on the page with the passage regarding Aerroium's gates. But of course, it was never going to be that easy. They had one clue, which was at least a start of something that would lead them down the right track. But the rest of the passages? Half the pages were missing and the other half were faded, or simply led them back to the first.

Because having all the clues in one place was a brilliant idea to whoever had transcribed them and ultimately had decided to make things fucking harder for anyone planning on looking. Caeso wouldn't deny that it was kind of genius. To get to the other gates, to find the other clues, you had to go to Aerroium first. A test, he figured. If you were so desperate to make it through those gates, to get those keys, you had to prove you were capable and determined to get there. Typical, genius, but just as annoying as Nari.

"There are pages missing, and the other passages for the other gates lead back to the first. Unless there's anything else in the others then this is the best there is." Travel to Aerroium, find the key and ultimately, find the next clue. This was the Death God, easy was never going to be anywhere near close to what he was trying to achieve. At least it was clever when it came to keeping the God locked up in The Under, not so great when trying to lock him back up. Whoever had locked him there in the first place hadn't thought their entire plan through, clearly, but then again, he guessed they weren't expecting him to try and escape, or for people to actively see to open them.

@ElderGod-kirky group

One of Nari's ears twisted towards the man when he introduced himself, even if he didn't look his way. Duria. The name sounded familiar, and as he scanned the shelves that held the closest topics to The Under, his mind churned trying to put the name and face to what he knew. With his attention split between several tasks, it took him a little longer to do both, though. No matter where he looked, there was nothing that stood out. Nothing even remotely useful to them. Who the fuck wanted to guard the secrets of The Under so badly that they had zero information on it, besides repetitive books?

Guard. The spirit snapped his fingers and turned to Caeso. "Captain of the King's Guard. Thought you looked familiar." It didn't do him anything, but now that particular worm was solved and he could exert his energy towards listening for any miniscule sound within the library and scanning the dark books for relevant titles. Nari wondered further into the bookcases, further away from the light, yet was navigating and browsing without issue. Occasionally, he hopped up and sat on the air to look at higher shelves, but the further he got, the more frustrated he got with the lack of answers. This was proving worthless, besides the single passage that dear Duria had found. What was the point in coming down to this library at this rate?

From somewhere in the depths, Nari made a disgruntled noise when Caeso made his observation. "Big surprise there," he huffed, and padded his way back to the captain with his arms crossed. "If the other passages lead back to the first, then chances are the missing pages do the same. Or," he considered, "they were ripped out for a reason, and that reason being they lead elsewhere." Now back within the reach of the light, but on the outskirts, Nari leaned against the end of a bookshelf and tapped his nails against one of his arm bands. "It doesn't matter either way; we don't have access to them." If they somehow managed to get a hold of them, then it would be relevant, but they were missing. Without knowing what they led to, it would be a waste of time and more of a risk to try and find them.

Thankfully, with his focus on listening for monsters and the nuisance that was finding all the information needed, he was less at risk for losing his sight from teasing Caeso. It was due to happen at any point, but with them currently in a dark and silent library with the city above being steadily ravaged by demons, Nari would rather he have all his senses at top performance to avoid being caught unawares.

"I'm going to go out on a limb and guess," the spirit said after a moment of silence, eyes fixated on Caeso. "Either you want to close the gates from a sense of moral obligation to protect your people, or the King has made it an order and threw you to the wolves. In both scenarios, you do know that you are utterly fucked, right?" Nari knew the feeling well.


Caeso was only a little surprised when Nari did in fact know who he was. There weren't many spirits that hung around the Fae parts, there weren't many of anyone other than Fae that ended up in the city unless on a casual day visit to a friend or simply just passing through. It wasn't a place people went without a goal in mind, and so generally, if people weren't local, he could get away with being undetected in public spaces around them. But that was on a rare occurrence. Didn't happen very much anymore, and definitely wasn't going to be happening anytime soon. At least that whole situation with being 'anonymous' as Nari had said, was sorted.

The captain kept his eyes on the book in his lap, as if staring at the empty pages was somehow going to bring the missing pieces back. He was already tired of this bullshit. He couldn't even remember how long he had been down here in the near dark for, hunched over the books as if he were a goblin hoarding a treasure he didn't want anyone else to find. No, he was just tired of reading the same information ten times in slightly different wording and all leading back to the same stupid points of no one having any good clue as to where they were supposed to go. Even the passage about Aerroium was vague in its own right. Did Gods even have woes? Would Ezekt have woes? It didn't make sense, but it was the best he could get.

"Everyone in this city is fucked," Caeso counteracted, although he couldn't help the soft sigh through his nose that followed, "Ezekt will burn everything and everyone to the ground if he escapes. There are at least three gates open and the others will be soon to follow. We're all dead."

But considering Nari had hit the nail on the head when it came to why he wanted to close the gates. Part of it was moral obligation. He wasn't captain for no reason. Caeso swore an oath to protect and serve not only his king but the people. Right now, he wasn't exactly doing a good job at either of those things. How many people were dead already? He didn't want to know, more than he could count or imagine was possible in such a short amount of time. For someone who had spent his life dedicating it to making sure everyone within the city walls was safe, maybe this was a sign for him to change career paths.

And the king. The king, as much as the man had treated him like a second son over the years, didn't care as much as Caeso wanted to believe. It showed when he had told him to fix this and hadn't shown any offer of help. Hadn't told Caeso that he believed in him, even, just to do his job. He wouldn't be surprised if the king thought he was already dead. As much as his abilities were strong enough to get through at least a few decent fights, His Majesty never paid much attention. He could be dead and he wouldn't care, really. Deep down, the king had told him to shut the gates because at least then, if he died, he wouldn't be around to see what would happen to him at the end of all things.

@ElderGod-kirky group

Nari snorted and pushed off of the bookshelf. "With that attitude, absolutely." He was silent as he circled to around Caeso, purposefully approaching him from behind because of the man not paying attention and instead focusing on the books that were already deemed useless. Once he was right off to the side of the man, just a little back to be out of his peripheral, he crouched down and rested his arms on his knees. This time he made an effort to not be noticed, waiting for the right moment to prove his sudden point. For a man so paranoid, he was focusing on the wrong things, and it was hindering him. Nari could provide some help, as he had very valuable expertise that the captain clearly didn't possess—like a sense of humor. Or even a knack for looking outside the box.

It didn't take much looking for Nari to conclude that the books were clearly just pointing to the first key of the gate. They wouldn't provide anything more, especially when they didn't even have an original thought between them all. It was the same information and riddles, over and over again, with just a slight variation in wording. Different people wrote them, maybe, but all had the same goal in mind. Why Caeso was agonizing over them was beyond him.

Finally, he spoke—and made his presence known. "Sitting on the floor in the dark isn't doing you or your people any good." Nari leaned just a little away to avoid getting hit and waited for Caeso's tantrum to cool, then continued. "Staring at books isn't going to do anything either if it hasn't been fruitful." Only if there was something incredibly miniscule but vital that they were both missing. The single crack that led to the secret door. If they could get their fingers into that, then maybe they could force the door open just enough to slip through.

Nari reached out and stole the book away from Caeso, mostly so he'd stop hunching over it to make his eyes bleed. But he was also wondering if he could find that miniscule thing, if it existed. The spirit was slower with his perusing, delicate fingers ghosting over the pages as he shifted until he sat crosslegged on the floor next to Caeso.

Now on the same level, it was clear they had a height difference. Nari didn't tower over Caeso quite as much while sitting, but even with his head bent, he was taller. The captain would roughly be able to tuck himself into the spirit's body, maybe with a bit of hunching, at their current level. Standing, though, Caeso's head would reach Nari's chest and no further. Nari would be able to comfortably rest his chin on his head, and once he realized, he'd take advantage of that if they stuck together. Anything to annoy Caeso, because it was so entertaining seeing his reactions and constant pouty annoyance, like the spirit's mere presence irritated him.


Caeso once more couldn't help the way he swore as Nari scared shit out of him, again. Was this going to be a reoccurring theme? He surely hoped not, because it was going to get very annoying very quickly. Well, it already was annoying, and the captain showed it in the glare that made its return in its full glory. It had only been replaced with one of huffy annoyance at the lack of information he had continued to find in the books, or the fact that they all led to the first riddle but not anymore because Nari was earning his glare.

Entirely unfair that he was able to just sneak around like that and be so quiet. And right now that wasn't the best thing because Caeso could only think about what else was able to do the same, what else was going to frighten him. He could pretend all he wanted that he wasn't terrified of the prospect of going into The Under simply because he wasn't supposed to be scared, but going face to face with those demons, Ezekt himself, possibly, who wouldn't be shitting themselves?

When the book was snatched from his lap Caeso made a move to reach for it, only for a moment, because then he was standing, hands on his hips, as he glared down at Nari, "And what? You think you're going to find something in there that I've missed? Or have some better idea? Because if you do I would love to hear it so please, share with the class why don't you." At least now he was standing he felt as if he had some height on Nari compared to when he had been sat. It made it easier to feel more intimidating. He wasn't exactly short, he was average height and there was nothing wrong with that, the spirit was just incredibly tall, even when sitting. Another thing that he could add to the list of Nari's annoying qualities he had picked up on during their short time together.

Why did Nari even care to begin with? If he was looking for information on The Under, too, maybe he had a similar goal. As much as he hoped not, because it would probably mean having to stick around with the man and that was going to be worse than the demons themselves, at least it meant he wouldn't be all alone on his near impossible mission. There would be someone else around if things went sour, another hand, another brain- even if an annoying one.

There wasn't much else that he could do, anyone else to call upon. No one would willingly offer to go down into those horrible realms to attempt to shut the gates. It was a suicide mission. Everyone knew that, the king certainly did, and was why he wasn't doing anything to help, either. But sending Caeso meant he could believe that he was doing something to help his people, even if it was sending the captain to his death. At least he was going to try instead of running or giving up. It was the least he could do for the people he had served for so long.

@ElderGod-kirky group

Nari ignored Caeso's annoyance, the most acknowledgement being his entertainment at the tantrum being thrown. The captain was far too on edge, even if he should be paying more attention. His paranoia was more telling of his lack of attention, because if he were, he'd know they were safe. It didn't take super hearing to know nothing was snooping about in the library. Nari was a spirit, with lightly padded feet and hands and very little weight to him. He was naturally built quiet, with none of the brawn to constitute being a genuine threat. Those that were true threats would make some sort of noise as a natural consequence of having the equipment to be dangerous.

At least, that's what he assumed. Either way, he detected nothing, so they were fine.

While Nari flipped through the book, searching the words for something, Caeso decided to get up and throw even more of a tantrum. The spirit slanted a bemused look up at the captain, and was met with a poor attempt at being big and intimidating while griping about the loss of the book. He didn't immediately react, just went back to the book and flipped the page. There, on a section that was otherwise plain and boring, with basic facts about The Under, was his something. Caeso wouldn't have noticed it, so Nari wasn't blaming him, but it was so simple that he nearly tore his hair out. Right over the boring passage was a charm. Of fucking course.

It was simple, easily unbind-able, and only gave off the faintest of a shimmer to the trickster's eye. And, what had caught his eye the most, was that it was in the shape of an old key. Nari held his hand in a loose fist and ran the knuckle of his index finger right down the middle of the charm, unbraiding the charm's hold on its contents until it wound apart completely and revealed the true contents of the page. The shimmer fell apart, and the page shifted to what it really was. The text was still there, but only on hazy edges; in the middle of it all was an intricate mirror hastily sketched in. When Nari leaned over it in question, the inside of the mirror blurred, then played a moving sketch of some sort of scene. It quickly became clear what it was, and the spirit hastily closed the book to avoid it. Got it. Now he knew what the key did.

Another look back up at Caeso, equally as unimpressed as the last time, but this time he made his way to his feet to stand with the book in hand. If the captain wanted to try and intimidate the spirit with his height, then he would be sorely displeased to know that wouldn't work. Especially when Nari leaned in, staying grounded, and towered over him without any effort. Smugness wasn't far to follow on his face, and he stayed there for a few seconds just to revel in the feeling, just to rub it in and get the captain to shut up and stop huffing to pay attention.

Then, Nari lifted the book and flipped it back to that once-charmed page. His every movement was slow, purposeful, an entirely different pace from their initial meeting just to prove a point. "If you're done," he drawled, "then take a look at this." The book flipped over, and the mirror faced Caeso. Blank. Unassuming. But not for long. And Nari was kinda of buzzing from watching Caeso squirm from both the book and Nari.


Paranoia came with the job description of having to guard the king and command an army that was far larger than it probably needed to be. If he wasn't constantly paranoid, he might miss something, miss anything, and it could lead to a fatality that could cost lives unnecessarily. It had happened before, and it was why he was so on edge. It was only increased considering where they were, what was happening, the drama that was following, and the prospect of having to travel to the most dangerous place in a search for keys that could be lost to time.

All of those thoughts were racing through his mind as he waited for Nari to respond, to do anything other than incline his head upwards at him for a moment before going back to the book he had so rudely stolen from his lap. Then the spirit was moving, and standing, and Caeso suddenly felt very small when the spirit stood over him that way.

He was only distracted for a moment because Nari was showing him the page that he had found. The captain would give credit where credit was due, smart of the man to find the hidden charm and the information revealed underneath. A different type of magic to his own. Caeso never would have found it by himself because he, unfortunately, didn't possess the qualities to reveal or unravel the charm to show the truth beneath. Maybe Nari was more useful than he thought. Not exactly what he had been hoping for, since the bastard look as smug as anything.

The mirror, blank, when he first looked, was intriguing enough. The metal that seemed to be holding it in place looked similar to that of the gates to Aerroium themselves. The same twisting metals, the same sharp edges. Then it was moving and it took only a few moments for him to realise what it was showing before he had to look away. Down to the ground to gather his thoughts, before, quite literally, upwards so he could look Nari in the face. Caeso wasn't short by any means, but it certainly felt very small looking up at the spirit, especially when they were close, that Nari was practically in his space.

"Alright, I get it, good work or whatever. Get out of my space now." They didn't have time for this. Caeso didn't need to feel flustered. He could tell Nari was purposely in his space to make him squirm, and it was working. His glare only got worse. If they were to travel to find that mirror then there was no doubt he would be forced to watch those images again, and that thought was enough to make him shift on the spot from how uncomfortable it was, he didn't need a smug spirit making things worse.

@ElderGod-kirky group

He might've enjoyed messing with the captain, but the book's contents wasn't something Nari even liked, and he wasn't cruel. So, the second it was clear Caeso knew what the mirror did, Nari closed the book. Deepest secrets. He wondered what Caeso had looked away from. What had the uptight, no fun Captain of the King's Guard done or seen that was so bad he didn't want to watch it? Nari acknowledged what he had done, even if he never wanted to see it again, so curiosity had the question on the tip of his tongue. But curiosity held no candle to basic respect, and he swore off cruelty long ago. It was the entire reason Ezekt was most likely on his ass now.

With the book closed, though, he now had the freedom to keep messing with Caeso. That glare and demand to get out of his space only made the spirit more inclined to get closer, lean over him more, emphasize just how different they were in height. His justification was an inclination to distract the captain from his paranoia and the memory of the book's mirror—but he knew that was only an excuse.

The edges of his vision hazed black.

Nari hummed and tilted his head, coy and innocent-like. Caeso really was the cutest thing out there, all flustered and annoyed with every little thing that the spirit did. There were plenty of people who were much shorter than Nari, even shorter than Caeso. Some hardly made it to the middle of his chest, while the man in front of him was just tall enough for him to potentially rest his chin on his head. Nari's eyes glittered at the realization, but he didn't do anything—yet. No, he took in the sight of a flustered captain while he could, leaning in to get into his space, tilting his ears to make them more floppy and innocent, one tilted up and one flopped to the side. Anything to overwhelm Caeso the most. "Am I in your space? I didn't realize."

Though the room wasn't as bright as it could be, even with Caeso's light, Nari could see him perfectly. It was his eyes, though, that were the most striking. Brilliant blue, blazing even brighter with the heat of his glare. The way he had to turn his gaze up every time he wanted to look up at Nari, those so blue eyes peeked beneath lashes and furrowed brows. The spirit was having far too much fun with this, making a show of inspecting the captain from head to toe while leaning into his space, the book discarded on a nearby shelf to free up his hands. Caeso wasn't built like most of the Fae, harder around the edges, a clear soldier in the lean lines of muscle and slight knicks of scars. Sun-touched skin. Definitely easy on the eyes, even when scowling and bitching and trying to be all tough while clearly falling into Nari's trap.


The image that the book had shown Caeso hadn't been a pleasant one. Far from it. A reminder of how he had failed so many, no one more than himself, however. A horrible nightmare, that picture had been, a memory that would never leave him because the guilt that followed hadn't cleared, and it had been years since the memory- the incident - had taken place. Probably part of the reason as to why he was so focused on trying to do right by the King now, the Fae, as much as the prospect of going down into The Under petrified him to his core, more than he would ever let on, especially to Nari. It only made things worse knowing that they- or at least he - was going to have to find that stupid mirror, probably face hat stupid memory, and Caeso had a strong hunch that Nari was going to be tagging along with him since he was so interested in the place, too.

But he didn't have much more thought on the matter as the spirit was once again getting into his space, even closer than he had been before. Caeso couldn't remember the last time he had been in the presence of someone as tall as Nari was. The captain wasn't exactly short, he was average height, six foot wasn't short by any means. Nari was just freakishly tall. Not big, because the man was lean and thin in what was unfortunately for him, all the right ways. Caeso would easily overpower him by strength alone, but it was the height. The fact that the spirit could just lean over him so easily, standing or seated. That he was able to get up in his space like he was doing and look so stupidly smug about it.

He took a step back. There wasn't exactly much room to go far considering the lines of bookshelves on either side of them, surrounding from all sides. Caeso could just push him back and he would move, right? He could, if he wasn't focused on trying to convey his annoyance through his glare. Because he had to tilt his head further up when Nari got closer, really look up at him.

"Yes. Yes, you're in my space." He ground out.

Nari's plan to distract him from what had been in that book was working. It was hard to focus on it when he had another man getting up close and personal with him. They didn't have time for this bullshit, for whatever Nari was trying to do. It made it worse when he watched the spirit drag his gaze over him, and he took yet another step back into the shelf behind him, as if doing so would get the other to stop looking. Caeso had every right to grab his sword and stab him with it for being such a nucience, demand and ask if he did this with everyone he did upon first meeting or if this was just some stupid, special treatment that he was getting. He couldn't tell if he liked it or not, because really, Nari wasn't the worst person to be in this situation with when it came down to looks, it was just his personality that made it annoying.

@ElderGod-kirky group

Nari snickered at Caeso's strained words, thoroughly entertained. It was so easy. The captain was backing away, backing himself into a corner, and it was the perfect opportunity for the spirit to keep messing with him. Either Caeso was doing this on purpose, or he was too flustered to function right and didn't know what he was doing. Or, option C, he planned to do something about the spirit advancing on him. Push him away, threaten him, literally anything besides backing up and accepting it with minimal challenge. The only thing he did was glare up at Nari, his stare hard and blazing and oh so bright even in the dark. It got further and further away from them as the man backed further into the shelves, shrouding them both in shadows, but even with his vision waning by the second, Nari could still see him clearly. And, oh, was it a sight.

When Caeso's back hit the wall, Nari only prowled closer, until they were near a hair's breadth apart. His smirk was fixed onto his lips from being able to get the captain so riled up just by leaning over him. Surely, no thought was going through the other's mind besides Nari. Nothing about deepest secrets and nasty mirrors, no ghosts in the corners or Death God to be seen. Just a mischievous fox who happened to be very tall and very entertained—and somewhat blind.

Now that he had the captain cornered, quite literally, Nari stood at his full height. No longer leaning, he wasn't in Caeso's face, but that also meant that he wasn't shortening the distance between them. The man would have to look up even more, even if by a slight margin. And, ever the gentleman, Nari did it for him.

The spirit reached out and hooked a finger under Caeso's chin, forcing him to look up and meet Nari's gaze. "Deepest apologies," he purred, "I only wanted to have a closer look." He made a show of tilting his head and inspecting the captain, as if he didn't have night vision—and as if he wasn't steadily losing his vision altogether. His ulterior motive was shining through just a little more, even without his permission. Though Nari was simply entertained by the easily flustered captain and the quick reactions he got from his teasing, he did like seeing him less terrified about the unknown. Made him look younger, less like he had the world on his shoulders, and more available to be glaring at a fox spirit and making futile demands. You're in my space. And yet, beyond the glare, Caeso did nothing to combat that. A guard, a King's Guard even, but he couldn't even bring himself to shove a spirit out of the way to save himself from having his space invaded. Deep down, Nari theorized, Caeso enjoyed it to some extent.


Nari's internalized theory wasn't wrong, because really, deep down he did. But he wasn't about to even admit that to himself, let alone to Nari. Not going to happen. Not now, not ever. Neither of them had to know the captain's internal struggle because Caeso was certainly ignoring it and therefore the spirit would know. Perfect plan, even if Caeso wasn't exactly doing it on purpose.

When that finger hooked underneath his chin and he really had to look up, his glare only got worse. Looking at him right in those stupid, deep burgundy eyes that glistened even in the lack of light. Stupid, dumb, annoying. The only worse that Caeso could use to describe the man, or let himself use to describe him. It was only because of the height that he had on him that this was possible. Totally not because of anything else the captain had going on that Nari definitely didn't have to know about. His ocean blue, those storms within, only grew stronger, partly because he was ignoring the multitude of other feelings that the spirit had conjured up with just a few words - that stupid tone.

This couldn't go on any longer, "Fuck you." In one swift motion, Caeso batted Nari's hand away from his chin and then shoved both his own against the spirit's chest to put space between them once more. It wasn't a hard push, barely any of his actual strength because he wasn't looking to hurt the man, but considering Nari was lighter than most people, it was able to put a good amount of distance between them. The captain felt as if he could breathe again now that he had his personal space granted to him once more. But, any thoughts of paranoia, that mirror, that image, were gone because Nari had been successful in turning his thoughts away from them.

Moving quickly, Caeso hurried to grab his sword from where it had been discarded to one side and latch it back to his belt. Supplies, he would need supplies. Weapons, too, more than just a sword because as much as it was great at combat, not necessarily ideal in all situations. The other books he had gathered from the shelves were in his arms a moment later and being placed back on the shelf where he had found them, dust being sent flying into the air as an indicator as to just how long they had been there for.

Finally, when he had his composure once more, he turned back to Nari, "The city is burning and Ezekt could be free any moment. I don't know about you but I'm going to go and try and do something about it before anyone else is killed in the process."

@ElderGod-kirky group

Nari knew it was only a matter of time before he was shoved away, or stabbed, or some sort of verbal blow done to him. He was waiting for it, at this point. Caeso waited long enough for the spirit's vision to go black, then he felt hands on his chest shoving him back. Instead of feeling hurt or upset at the rough shove—no matter how gentle Caesi tried to be, the spirit's weight was something to get used to—he took a few extra steps back and tossed his head back in a laugh. Perfect. Now all of that storm was settled onto him, no focus diverting to anything to do with fear and paranoia. Just annoyance and conflict. which Nari didn't know the full extent of, but came to the conclusion that it existed in some capacity. No man who was conflicted about his feelings on things would've put up with him for that long, or stood in place so obediently and rapt. Nari was under Caeso's skin, and it was the best thing to come of this library trip. Oh, the stories he could spin about the Captain of the King's Guard.

"You'll thank me later!" Nari called after Caeso, still cackling. He was unable to contain his mirth, no matter that he had to feel for the shelf behind him to lean against it and that he'd be like this for 24 hours at the least. This was his thing. Humor, entertainment, enjoying the little things that came about in life. He was the laughter from children playing in the backyard and the winged people in the snow. The leaves blowing across the grass after a jump into the pile. He was the pranks friends play on each other that have them rolling on the floor afterwards, clutching their stomachs and unable to speak they were laughing so much. The odd little things people place that catch people's attention long enough for them to enjoy the humor of the trick. He was the mud-caked faces after failing to show off.

Ezekt tried to take that away from him. He had seen Nari's dislike for his newest tasks, seen him breaking away to enjoy the small things in life, and he ripped them away from the spirit's sight. Jealousy was a powerful thing, and sometimes Nari wondered if his curse was the result of the jealousy the Death God held for his former minion going out and reveling in everything the world had to after. Ezekt was stuck behind seven gates, within The Under, and had nowhere else to go—at least, until now. But Nari hadn't been bound to The Under. He got free of the chains his master had loosely collared on him, and sprinted away through the fog to experience sunlight and life for once.

Or Ezekt was just a bastard who didn't like being told nom Either one was a bitch move.

Now completely blinded from the curse, Nari went through the quick reorienting ritual. His ears twitched and moved around more often, calculating what was happening and where things were based on how things echoed. The dull roar of silence. Caeso's huffy tantrum. He scented the air and got nothing but old books and dust, with a hint of the man with him and the death going on from outside. He remembered enough of the layout of the library to not need much guidance, maybe a hand here and there to not run into walls. Besides that, he would be fine. He had navigated the world in darkness for decades. Plus, it would be difficult to not hear Caeso's tantrums and follow if need be.

And speak of the demon, Nari tilted his head towards Caeso's voice. It wasn't much of an invitation, but Nari was going to take it anyway. He needed to go and help close the gates, both because of the people, and to save his own hide from becoming a fashionable accessory. "Now now, don't be so quick to abandon me." The spirit pushed off of the shelf and strode over to Caeso, grabbing the book he had left and held it up in question. "I am volunteering my companionship."


Caeso tried not to sigh, or glare, because he could feel a tension headache forming from the amount of it that Nari seemed to bring out at all moments. He figured, considering Nari had been down looking for similar information, that the spirit would have tagged along whether or not he announced it to the captain. He had helped find that missing piece of information, so it wasn't entirely pointless for the man to tag along with him. Even if he didn't necessarily want him to, since he had already gotten on his nerves enough for a lifetime.

But he didn't have time to argue. They didn't have time for this pointless back and forth and wasting time because people were dying and he needed to do something about it, "Fine. But I swear if you fuck around too much then I'll kill you myself."

It wasn't an empty threat because Caeso would, in fact, kill the man if there was the slightest hint of anything to indicate that Nari wasn't working with him but against him. He didn't need someone who was going to play games the entire time, not when this was a serious matter and no one else was doing anything about it. If it came down to saving his people or Nari, the choice was as clear as day. The Fae came first. It was his job, his right and his protective duty to make sure that they were safe and that Ezekt was locked away for good. Somewhere he would never escape, or get those keys to burn them into a thousand pieces of ash never to be remade.

He hadn't noticed that Nari was now blind, mainly because he was too far away from him to see, and also was focusing on the very broken and shit plan forming in his head. The palace wasn't far from the library, and all his stuff was there. H was going to have to head back there first. Supplies, too. The palace would have everything that he needed.

They. Stuff that they needed. Because it wasn't just Caeso doing this now, it was him and Nari, "I'm going to need my things. And I'm guessing you're going to want yours, too. So we'll head to the palace and then wherever it is you have all your spirit stuff." Unless Nari was just able to conjure everything up that he needed with a flick of his fingers. He didn't know much, if anything, about the way spirit magic worked and so was clueless. But he didn't give the man any time to argue back against his decided plan as he moved through the shelves. His light followed, remaining between them as a guide. He was nowhere near as quiet as the other. Even if his steps were light they had weight to them, indicating where he was and where he was going.