To Feel and Confess
~ Starring ~
Dys as Ignis
Val as Deni
~ Starring ~
Dys as Ignis
Val as Deni
Deni wandered down the corridors of the surface palace of Pelagia, one long arm wrapped across the back of his short avian companion's shoulders. He glanced at every framed portrait and painting they passed, observing the intricate gold work that lined the walls. Even the guest quarters seemed grandiose. There was no doubt that the velen enjoyed living the rich lifestyle, but a part of him secretly hated it. The pomposity reminded him of all of the social meetings his parents forced him to endure. Rich families maneuvering, weighing up potential marriage candidates for their children before they even reached puberty. That was part of the reason why he left in the first place. At least this time was different. He was his own man. With his own woman. Even if he was trying to forget the horror that had transpired just hours before.
"Okay, so the cocktail bar's not as good as I remember," Deni chuckled. "At least the grill bar held its own. The taste of those gammarus tails…"
He kissed the fingers on his free hand.
"At least some things have stayed the same."
Ignis laughed at Deni’s review of the food and drinks they’d enjoyed with Aeria. “The food was amazing. You’re lucky to have grown up eating like that!”
She leaned against him partly for balance and partly because the feel of the velen man’s warmth seeping through her feathers was pleasant. The Pelagian cocktails she’d sampled had given the room a slight spin, the decorations on the wall seeming to shift this way and that with each step they took. Her dark eyes sparkled at the grandeur of it all. With the anxious edge taken off for now, Ignis was able to appreciate a setting that looked as though it had been taken directly from a book of old tales and magical kingdoms.
The posturing and social climbing went over her head for the most part. Being the social equivalent of a commoner had spared her any worries of being prepped for a political marriage or building a web of powerful allies. Any influence she had was a result of her misadventures and whichever path the wind took her.
“Do you think it’s alright to relax like this after what just happened?” the avian inquired, head rolling back to tilt her face upwards.
“Oh, I reckon so,” Deni replied, looking down into Ignis’ brown eyes with a smile. It was an unusual connection they had. When it was time to fight they could hold their own, thrive in any situation. Mortals and daemons alike had been unable to stop them when they were in the same place together. Yet it was during times like that when they seemed to be most intimate. The velen stroked her shoulder with his thumb, using his free hand to take the room key out of his pocket. “Two-thirteen, two-thirteen,” he began to mumble under his breath as he glanced at the numbers on doors that they passed.
“Ah! Here we are.”
The velen pulled away from his companion for a moment and put the key to the lock. It took him a few seconds longer than it should have to open the door on account of his tipsiness, but when it was finally open, he couldn’t suppress his gasp. Dim lamps designed like glass bubbles lit up the place as they entered. They had been told they were being given a room but it was bigger than Deni’s whole apartment in Terminus. The bed was wide enough for three and had one of those bubble-shaped lamps either side. At least half a dozen pillows decorated the bed in an arc.
“Aquila’s arse,” Deni breathed. “This place is amazing!” He ran and jumped onto the bed. He nearly sank into it as the mattress shifted and wobbled. “Whoa, it’s one of those fancy waterbeds too! I daresay we’ve hit the big leagues here, Iggy, my darling.”
Ignis followed her velen lover into the room, and gave it a wide-eyed once over. They could have come here under better circumstances, but it appeared that their previous inglorious activities prior to this afforded them the best hospitality Pelagia had to offer.
“This definitely beats camping out along a campaign march,” the avian mused, wandering around to inspect the interior design and architecture. The march to the final battle of the Black Portal had been slovenly compared to the luxury suite they were housed in for the time being. She leaned closer to one of the glass lights to inspect it, curious about the mechanisms used to make it work.
After a few more moments of quietly poking around, Ignis turned to face Deni, eyes trailing over his tall and pale form as he sprawled out on the bed.
“That does look rather comfortable,” Ignis said, eyes lighting up with mischief before she pounced on the bed, landing on Deni.
Deni laughed as the force of the petite enlil pushed him further into the bed.
The waterbed shifted and squished around their bodies as it absorbed the weight of the enlil’s impact, doing interesting things to the way they pressed up against one another. Once they were steadied, Ignis propped herself up on her elbows to look down at Deni’s face, still smirking.
Deni maneuvered his hips left and right, trying to account for the direction the waterbed was swaying in, so that Ignis wouldn’t lose her balance, then matched her smirk with one of his own.
“I’ve never been on a waterbed before. Are these common in Pelagia?”
“Oh, not everywhere has them,” Deni replied absent-mindedly. He was too busy staring into those brown eyes. “Only the fun people have them.”
His hips continued to sway, shifting Ignis body in a circle and creating a pattern in momentum that the waterbed was matching.
Ignis' breath caught in her chest at the sensation of their movements. Her face began to turn pink.
“Apparently they were made to simulate the… motion of being in water, for velen outside of Pelagia.”
His hand reached up and caressed the side of her face. Deni could feel her breath against his cheek as their bodies gently swayed to counteract the waterbed.
“So what do you think of the… motion?”
Rather than answer with words, the avian dipped her head down to kiss the velen beneath her. Her mouth moulding against his lips would be answer enough to his question.
And it was.
Ignis' eyes stayed locked on Deni's for a moment while they kissed before sliding closed. She pulled away to ask, "Is this what it's like to do it in the water?"
The heady look in her eyes made them seem a shade darker, or perhaps it was the soft lighting. Either way, the enlil had unclasped her cloak, letting it fall and pool around their hips while her hero's cape fell to the floor. For once, Ignis had worn something beneath her cloak --a loose fitting tunic that slid down around her upper arms to expose her shoulders.
Deni unhooked the purple cloak from his own shoulder and threw it away from the bed. Even with Ignis on top of him, it was easy for him to remove his arms from his sleeveless leather coat and begin unbuttoning his teal shirt.
“As close as you’ll be able to get to it,” the inebriated velen laughed.
As he reached the lowest button of his shirt, Deni pulled his shirt open and jerked his hips, sending Ignis falling on top of him. Her lips landed straight on his. His hand grasped the feathers on the back of her head as he kissed her deeply, passionately.
Ignis returned the kiss with equal enthusiasm, small pleasured hums sounding in her throat as their mouths danced. Deni could feel her smiling into it.
He broke the kiss only to grin mischievously and whisper in her ear.
“Let’s see if you’ve got what it takes.”
"I do enjoy giving a good demonstration," she replied breathily. The avian squirmed beneath him to free herself of the tunic, leaving her bare as the day she was born. Unlike the smooth feathers on her arms and legs, her torso was covered with soft, downy feathers.
Ignis' hands found their way to Deni's chest, tracing his scales with her fingertips. Her eyes trailed over his muscles while she enjoyed the way his pale scales reflected the soft lighting of the room. She leaned down for another fervent kiss.
Deni slid his arms out of his shirt and discarded it as if it wasn't one of the most expensive pieces of clothing he owned. He caught the faint scent of alcohol, one of the fruitier cocktails, before her lips met his. The rogue closed his eyes and let the moment take him. If he wasn't flushed from the alcohol, he would have been soon with the warmth of the avian's bare torso pressed against his. The waterbed swayed gently from side to side with the passion of the kiss. This time, Ignis felt his lips curve into a smile against hers.
Deni's hands found her hips and rubbed slowly, gently, up towards her chest.
The feeling of feather on scale sent tingles down Ignis' spine as their bodies rubbed against each other. Her hand slid down his torso and towards the space between where their hips met.
Something about being together like this when they were between dangerous adventures made everything feel more intense as though the knowledge that this might be their last coupling made it feel special. Her teeth tugged at Deni's lower lip gently as Ignis' breath hitched at the feeling of his hands on her chest.
Deni exhaled deeply as Ignis bit his lip. His eyebrows raised as she reached further down. The pelagian twisted his hips this way and that and the waterbed swished with him.
Deni's hip movements elicited a gasp from the avian atop him. Her hips shifted forward to deepen the contact and her lower back arched, making her torso lift a bit.
The pale velen's hands grasped the avian's breasts.
Ignis leaned into the touch, her hands coming to rest on his shoulders for balance. She leaned down to kiss him again while they rocked back and forth and side to side.
The warmth of their bodies entwining, the undeniable fervor of their drunken romance. It was somehow fitting to end the day with the heat of passion after the heat of battle.
Ignis collapsed forward into the velen man beneath her, panting from their love making. Her forehead was slick with sweat and their bodies were sticky. Letting out a contented sigh, the enlil rolled off of her partner.
Deni caught her with his arm and wrapped it around her shoulders, cushioning her landing with an embrace.
Now they laid side by side, with just the sound of their breathing to fill the quiet. Ignis turned her head to face Deni and take in the look on his face, a tired smile on her own lips.
"What is it about danger that makes it better?"
Deni allowed his pulse to slow a little before taking the time to answer. His breathing was at least as ragged as hers.
“It’s the threat,” the rogue breathed, wiping sweat from his forehead with his free hand. “Knowing consciously that you could die empowers every part of you that wants to live.”
"It's one infernalis of a drug" the enlil commented with a breathy laugh.
Ignis snuggled closer to the pale velen despite how hot and sweaty they were, wanting to savor the moment while it lasted. They would need to get cleaned off before they both dozed off in a pile of limbs and stickiness. With everything starting to come down, the avian noticed how tired she was. Her body felt heavy and opening her eyes felt like lifting heavy stones.
"We should shower before we fall asleep… or a bath, that sounds nice, too," the avian mumbled into the side of Deni's neck, all the while seeming to get more comfortable with staying exactly where she was.
Deni opened his eyes, though he didn't remember closing them.
"No bath," he stated drowsily. "Wouldn't want you falling asleep and shrivelling up."
The enlil snorted, amused.
The velen grunted as he heaved his arm, pulling Ignis back on top of him. He continued to roll with the momentum until they almost fell off the bed. There he slid off the waterbed, his slender naked form turning away from his companion and making its way towards the bathroom.
Ignis missed the warmth of Deni's body the moment he left the bed. She propped herself up on one torso to examine the velen's backside from a more comfortable position.
"You want to help test out the shower or are you happy staring at my arse a while longer?"
"Well, I suppose I could see if it looks any different in the shower," the enlil mused, slipping out of bed as well.
She padded after her partner, curiosity piqued both by the possibility of unique mechanisms in the shower and the idea of a naked and wet velen. Each of these thoughts were exciting in their own way. Her talons clicked against the bathroom floor as she stepped into the decent sized wash room.
"Luxury indeed…" Ignis commented, noting the spacious tub with clawed feet.
Deni noted the large tub along the far right side of the bathroom, but his eyes were focussed more on the ceiling. He noticed a large number of small silver beads across the ceiling.
"Oh, luxury indeed," Deni repeated after his partner. He slid the door shut and headed to the left side of the room. A twist of a silver lever on the wall and the water began to flow.
Dozens of narrow streams of water poured from the tiny silver balls on the ceiling, covering an area large enough to fit eight people.
Deni flinched as the water hit his scales. He twisted the lever a little more to adjust the temperature, making it a little warmer.
"This is what I'm talking about!"
Once the water began to fall, Ignis' eyes snapped towards the balls on the ceiling. Briefly, she wondered about the mechanics of such a shower. Did it rely on ocean water? Or perhaps freshwater and clever plumbing. Clever enchantments could assist engineering to create systems that would ordinarily be complex in a more efficient and compact manner. Doubtlessly, the kingdom of Pelagia would have its own magicians and engineers at its disposal. Perhaps she ought to seek some out. The physics of building massive structures under the sea could definitely keep her entertained for months.
The engineer stopped pondering the mechanics of the shower and decided to just enjoy it. She stepped under the spray and fluffed up her feathers to allow the water to get beneath them. Ignis sighed at the feeling of warm water, eyelids sinking to half mast.
"I like luxury."
“Careful now,” Deni replied as he approached his avian companion. “Wouldn’t want all this luxury to make us soft now, would we?”
The velen’s warning elicited a soft laugh as Ignis shook her head. “I doubt we’ll be allowed the pleasure of becoming truly soft anytime soon.”
The pelagian took her hands in his own and gently rubbed the feathers on her wrist as the water cascaded down them. He stared at those light feathers as he caressed her hands, slowly turning the palm of his right hand upward. Water beat upon the criss-cross of jagged lines and curves that had been seared into his palm, the scarring that he deliberately tried to hide in public.
Ignis’ eyes settled on the strange burn scar on her lover’s palm, her free hand coming up to trace its lines gently with her fingertips.
“You never did tell me how you got this…” the avian murmured, sweeping her thumb over it gently. Despite being so intimate, there were still so many things the pair didn’t know about one another.
Deni felt… the best way he could describe it was vulnerable. Like an exposed wound, the kind of thing he’d be aiming with his pistol in a rough fight. It definitely wasn’t something that he was used to. He wanted to reel back, to make some witty comment or joke, but he didn’t. Instead he just stood there, frozen under the warm water while the fingers that tickled the palm of his hand sent shivers down his spine.
“Arctoa,” the velen said in a hoarse voice. He cleared his throat and continued, feigning nonchalance. “I know you’ve seen that glass orb I always have with me. That’s what it did to me.”
Deni struggled to match her brown eyes without seeming regretful, despite his grin.
“It’s called Lachtára. Do you want to see what it allows me to do now?”
Ignis looked up, concern etched across her soft features at the tone in Deni’s voice. She locked eyes with the Pelagian for a moment before nodding once.
Deni locked his fingers with hers.
“Try not to fight it,” Deni said mildly, “it will be easier if you don’t.”
Before Ignis could ask about what he meant, it hit her. Her hand tightened reflexively around Deni’s larger, scaly one as intense pressure shot through her arm. It felt as though her arm might burst, unable to contain the force travelling through it, into her shoulder, up her neck, and into her head.
“Ah!” Ignis cried out in a tone resembling a squawk, knees shaking. Her weight pulled against her arm as her body started to tumble backwards while her free hand reached up to grip at her short headfeathers.
When it was all over, Ignis stiffened. She could see herself hunched over and holding her face. This wasn’t entirely unnatural for her because of her bond with Amicus, however the mons infans wasn’t in the room.
Ignis had the strangest sensation of watching herself open her eyes and straighten up.
“Deni what--” the words died on her lips. The magical pressure subsided in favor of something even more uncomfortable. Emotional pain. Guilt so heavy she wanted to drop to her knees under its weight and beg for forgiveness.
Ignis stumbled forward and reached up with her free hand to touch Deni’s face.
Deni sighed at her touch.
The feeling of her curved talons resting against his cheek was odd --foreign in the way of someone else touching her rather than her own hand.
Before he could answer, Ignis had freed her hand from his grasp and wrapped her arms around the velen man, holding him tightly. The tight feeling in her chest squirmed and she struggled not to push him away.
The embrace was so much more under the influence of the artifact. The gentle caress of another soul, perfectly embodied within one mind then refracted and rebounded by the other. The guilt that weighed down on him matched the concern of his companion. On the battlefield they were unstoppable. In that moment beneath the cascading water, minds bound together, they were an anxious mess.
“I know I always joke and deflect,” Deni began, even then with a mild chuckle, “but I need to tell you about what happened in Ísvaskur.”
After a deep breath, he reluctantly pulled Ignis away from him so he could explain to her face. No matter how hard it was to look into those worried brown eyes.
“Down in the ruins, I found a portal into Infernalis. I was attacked by a daemon that must have come through somehow and I ended up dragged through the portal.”
The velen paused. Saying it out loud somehow seemed surreal.
“I ended up in Infernalis, the plane of daemons.”
Ignis lifted her head from where she had buried her face in Deni's shoulder during their embrace. Her brows furrowed at the admission. In times past, he'd always evaded any questions about what really happened to him in Ísvaskur. Likewise, Ignis had not been very open about where she'd gone either.
Believing him was easy. If it could happen to her with Natum, then it was possible for someone else and Infernalis. The pelagian would know that she didn't doubt his statement in the slightest, that she was waiting for the other shoe to fall so to speak.
Her grip on him tightened as the enlil braced herself for what was to come. The anguish she felt coming from her partner was a harbinger of what was to come. The same woman who brushed with death so many times that it didn't strike fear within her as strongly as it should, feared what her lover would say next.
“It was strange,” Deni said, his words tripping over themselves as he began to ramble. “Time was different, I was there for days, but it was barely minutes here. There were mortals there, velen and enlil like us and laicar and spurii as well. That place was designed to bring out the worst in people. I was no exception.”
Deni’s heart raced. His stomach churned. He felt anxious. Anxious! The cool and collected Deni Perfide!
With each word that spilled past his lips, the velen would feel tension rise within his partner like a string pulled too taught.
The following words came so heavily, like every syllable added a stone onto his shoulders.
“Iggy, while I was there I slept with someone else.”
Deni’s blue eyes were filled with regret, but Ignis could sense it already. He shook his head apologetically.
Before, Deni could feel a flood of things from his partner, but now that connection had gone silent. He felt nothing from her.
“Ignis, I’m so sorry. I…”
A painful twist of confusion and disbelief followed the brief silence between them. Water from the shower dripped down down her face, but Deni could feel hot, salty tears mixing with the water droplets even if he couldn't see them.
Ignis' mouth opened, but no words came out. Her throat constricted painfully. She stood there, wet, naked and mouth slightly agape. The expression resembled the shock on someone's face after realizing they'd been mortally wounded.
Bearing the emotional pain of two was too much to handle. What was he thinking, connecting their minds like that? No. It was something that he needed to do. That way she knew how he truly felt, no lies, only the truth, no matter how raw.
The mental scramble for a reason, some excuse, a rationale for why this happened and why it didn't represent some sort of betrayal clawed at Deni desperately. Her grip on the velen loosened as her arms started to go slack. And then, it shattered.
The connection binding the two of them emotionally snapped.
Deni gasped as his body jerked at the sensation of falling and then sudden stillness.
Ignis staggered backwards, her back hitting the shower wall. She stared at Deni as though she didn't know who he was.
The pelagian wished that the sudden absence of Ignis' emotions was a blessing, but what he had felt before the connection was severed was already too much.
If he had felt vulnerable before, he certainly felt like an exposed wound now. In his most desperate moments, words had always been able to save him. Right then, he struggled to form a sentence. But he couldn't stand the silence.
Deni opened his arms, but didn't attempt to step closer to her.
"Punch me if you want," he said. His tone pleaded. "Throw something at me. Scream at me. Hurt me. Do whatever you need to, I deserve it."
Ignis continued to stare at her partner, chest rising and falling rapidly and shallowly. She regained some footing and straightened up.
Even without the empathic link, her need for an answer was clear, almost tangible.
Deni’s slender arms dropped down by his side. She wasn’t responding to his outburst. He knew very well what that anguished word asked of him. That made coming up with an answer so much more difficult.
“I… don’t know,” he breathed. “That place… I know it was me, I have no excuse but…”
What was he going to say? That he had ended up in Infernalis and suddenly became that same two-timing skirt-chaser that he had always been? The truth was far worse. The velen’s eyes glazed as he tried to focus on the memory, trying to pinpoint a valid reason for his affair.
“I don’t know.”
Ignis didn’t know what she hoped he would say but this wasn’t it. She stood there awkwardly, gaze dropping to her feet, and swallowed thickly.
The door opened and Amicus slipped inside. How the mons infans was able to reach the handle was beyond the enlil, she hadn’t been paying attention. The cat-sized bush ran towards the pair, pushing past Deni and grabbing onto his contractor’s leg.
The avian slid against the wall until her bottom hit the tub and she sat there and wrapped her arms around Amicus, holding onto the little woodland spirit for dear life.
Deni reached one webbed hand as if to grasp her, despite the distance.
Not wanting to face this anymore, she called on the everpresent flames within her. Unfettered by the cooling droplets falling onto the couple, fire began to lick at Ignis’ feathers and creep up her body, consuming her where she sat huddled.
Deni collapsed in the centre of the shower. He leaned all the way back until he was laying down. The pile of damp ashes covered the drain, creating a small pool of warm water that touched his scales.
“Real good job,” Deni snarled. Pits of ice formed in his stomach despite the warmth of the shower. She might not have screamed at him or caused him harm, but right then he could have. “Best thing you’ve had in years and you had to go and fuck it up.”
He didn’t smash anything. He didn’t shout the place down. He didn’t even go out to get drunk. Instead, he laughed. Bitterly, wildly. He laughed until the tears merged with the falling water.