Sooo, in the wake of Forumgate 2010 (AKA: Real ID), I noticed I forgot to put up the second half of the RP log I was working on. Whoops. So, here it is.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -Four days has passed since the night at the river.
Four days since the warlock heard that lamenting and pitiful howl of his lover.
Though despite him taking the time away to cool down, thinking about this whole ordeal heavily, Natharai was still at a loss of what to do–if there was anything he could do, that is. While he knows fully well that Arenvald, over the course of these months, has increasingly integrated his human tendencies with his wolfish ones...he still was not sure if it was him losing himself bit by bit or if he was attempting to find some sort of equilibrium between his two states. The only thing he did know was that Aren loved him dearly...and he felt the same in kind. If he did not, he wouldn't even consider on trying to right things again. So that means there is something...right?
Though it was difficult keeping positive throughout all of this mental deliberation he was undergoing... The more he thought about it, the more dead ends he found. The second day of his stay in Ironforge was a grim one, for that was the day he fully considered the negative end of this unfortunate event. He put in a request at the Great Forge for a truesilver dagger and confounded the smith with his statement that it was for practical usage rather than ornamental... It must be sturdy, but small and light enough to where he could conceal it and wield it with minimal effort. He also stressed that this was incredibly important and that it needed to be completed as quickly as possible without compromising the blade's integrity much... Nath did not much care about the rush fees that would be tacked onto his commission.
And on the morning of the fourth day...it was completed. He then found himself in possession of a tool that would end Arenvald's life as 'humanely' as possible, should it come to that...and most likely his own soon after. It was not as if he had much time left on this earth as a coherent being to begin with, after all.
The decision to return back to Elwynn that day was not an instant one, being he sat upon his inn bed, cradling the dagger within its sheath, as his slender physique was weighed down by silent dread. Just to even consider attempting to end the life of someone who was so precious to him, of someone who brought light into his life, was so difficult. But if he could save Arenvald from himself... then that would be the right thing to do. It is the right thing to do..
An hour before noon, Natharai took the long tram ride back to Stormwind to make his ultimate decision.
For the one left back in Elwynn, it was simply the beginning of a long, silent existence. The chicks still look to him, of course, and he's brought them food as he must, but even his bottomless hunger has faded until he barely felt like taking the occasional mouthful from the evening's kill. No Defias either... the bandits have learned long since to avoid going into that part of the forest. Not that any of them have come back to tell the tale, but... in a way, that's it. None of them -have- come back.
Not that he probably -would- have taken them as prey at this point, but with the option removed, it makes things... simpler. Aside from tending to the raptors, he hasn't done much aside from lurk in the barn out of the sun, and after nightfall, pace out into the darkness to skulk up and down the river. Not that he expects to find anything, but more just so he can look over towards Duskwood.
Occasionally, he wanders up towards the house and looks in the window... there's a few nose-prints on the glass, all more or less in the same place... but aside from that, he's done very little. Well... one thing.
In the afternoon on the second day, he made the foray onto 'sacred ground' to retrieve his silver bracelet, the one Natharai gave him so long ago, which he'd stopped wearing because it irritated him. Now, however, he has resumed wearing it... though even he's not entirely sure why. Memory? Penance, perhaps. By the third day of wearing, the hair has started to fall out under it, leaving bare reddened hide, but he still doesn't remove it. Instead, he continues his routine, such as it has been reduced to, pacing around the property after the sun is down, hiding in the barn when it's not.
When Natharai finally makes the journey down that long road towards home, it is well into the night. For hours prior, he remained in Stormwind upon the porch of their former home, that was still empty as could be, while a "For Lease" sign was nailed upon one of the support columns. While his trip there was a nostalgic one, thinking fondly of the days when life was a trifle simpler for both of them. The worgen curse has not manifested in Arenvald yet and they were a clumsy, yet slowly flowering, couple awkwardly in love. One might find such reminiscing contradictory to his plan, but he wanted to at least temper his resolve in ending his lover's life with some compassion for the man he is...or possibly was.
The walk home was a long one...his heart was heavy and his shoes felt as if they were filled with lead. The dagger he commissioned days prior was not concealed as he planned to, but instead secured to his belt so Arenvald would be aware of his possible intent. It is roughly fifteen minutes 'till eleven at night when Natharai makes the turn down the winding path that leads to their forest home.
For the past few days, Aren has allowed himself to revert fully to the nocturnal schedule that's more 'natural' to him; the evening meal for the chicks is roughly the first thing he does every day. By this hour, he's back down by the river where the black shadows of the forest can hide him fully... save for the eyes, of course.
And so when Natharai emerges from the woods into the clearing in which their house sits, the place looks strangely abandoned. The house appears shut up tight, but no lamp glows within, nor is there any sign of life from the barns aside from the door to the raptors' being slightly ajar. Moonlight lays bright on the garden out front, but it already looks slightly unkempt, weeds starting to sprout where the normally-fastidious highlander would've long since ripped them out. It's also silent, save for the sounds of night-birds and insects.
While he knew that the night of his leaving that Arenvald did not go back inside the house (though he could have sworn he was under the porch, but he was not sure about that), he was not entirely expecting for their home to look so...derelict. Perhaps it was the fault of wishful thinking that the house would be aglow with lamplight as it usually is and Aren would be waiting in the living room like he usually does whenever Nath goes away on errands or 'business trips'. The lack of otherwise commonplace sights made his stomach lurch briefly, pausing in his steps for a brief moment to fully survey the lonely plot of land. A distant part of him outright worries that he is now skulking in the woods like an animal or, worse, crossed the river to Duskwood. While he never had confirmation that Arenvald would ever entertain the idea of going over there, he at least seemed to speak about the "pure ones" across the water with more reverence than the pack that spawned him.
But...first thing was first. Walking up to the front door of the house, he reaches into his pocket to retrieve his keys...which is a fruitless endeavor because upon entering the house key, he found that the front door was unlocked. Is...Aren even here at all?
He certainly hopes so... If the highlander retreated to the woods, it would only pain him having to hunt him down.
The house is exactly as he left it four nights ago. Nothing he moved to pack his satchel has been disturbed, the partially prepared meal that Aren had started in preparation for the warlock's return is likewise still precisely where it was left... meaning the greens have gone brown and withered and the meat slimy.
The smell of rotting foodstuff is definitely not missed, but aside from wrinkling his nose and solemnly going about lighting the living room (refilling the oil wells for some of the drier lamps beforehand)...he does nothing. But it is painfully apparent that even if Aren was around...he hasn't come back inside.
While he's tidying up, he -does- hear something familiar... not the highlander's approach, but a distant howl, carried on the night air. It's recognizably Aren's, with its gruff timbre that makes it distinctive from the wolves that populate the forest. It's also not as heartwrenching (or loud) as the last one he heard, but still achingly mournful.
Hurriedly putting down the box of matches and abandoning his task on lighting one of the remaining lamps, Natharai now stands upon the porch and listens for any other howl that might follow. ...If there would be, it certainly didn't feel like it since time, in its infuriating relativity, seemed to grind to a halt as he waits. Licking his dried lips nervously, brow furrowing, he acts upon harebrained impulse and raises his hands to cup around the sides of his mouth and replies with the best wolf howl he could muster. ...One of which that was dry and crackly, his own eagerness and heart jackhammering in his ears stymying the attempt.
Eventually, thought catches up to him... Light, he can't believe he's doing this, but, uh, it's better than calling out his name after that unearthly bellow. That would be giving him away... right? Sure, let's go with that.
Despite his attempt at 'sensible' reasoning, he ignores it and tries again, this time reaching the proper volume and its tone unwavering. Sure, it sounds like a human doing a terrible impression of a wolf, but he hopes that Aren can hear it's his voice and, hopefully, read the intent behind his long howling reply–'Come home'.
On his perch by the riverside, long, shaggy ears perk at the sound. It's... well... not really what one would call 'textbook' but that matters little. The voice is instantly recognizable to his keen ears, as is the desire for him to come. He's already rolled onto all fours and bounded off into the woods before he even comes up with a conscious thought to do so.
Thought -does- catch up with him, although not until he's burst from the underbrush into the house's clearing... partly due to the driving need to respond to the summons, and partly just because he runs so damnably fast when he's really putting effort into it. The hulking shape backpedals to a stop, though, not too far from the edge of the woods, and seems to spend a moment reconsidering before slinking a step or two closer. He's still down on all fours, though, red eyes fixed on the warlock, wide and staring... but his posture is one of being poised to flee rather than spring, and he can't seem to decide whether to have his ears pricked toward the smaller man or laid back against his skull.
Upon hearing the brush rustle, preceded by the oh-so-familiar heavy footfalls of the wolfish form of the highlander, the warlock's eyes widen as a faint, yet toothy, smile spreads across his lips. Seeing Aren rocket out of the forest with such gusto is a relief to him, but the moment is fleeting when he sees Arenvald skid to a halt and, regrettably, seems to reconsider even coming back. The smile vanishes from his face as quickly as it came as he now stares at Aren with a slack expression, though the underlying sorrow he feels is starting to show through thanks to the solemn arching of his brow.
Oh...right. That brief moment of enthusiastic reunion was only that... Brief. Both of them remember all too well the event that took place on several nights prior to this.
Natharai's eyes now focus on the ground as a lengthy soft sigh filters from his nose, soon moving to slowly seat himself upon the top of the porch steps, lower arms resting against his knees as his hands dangle limply between them. He still does not look up, his head bowing a bit, if anything to signify that he is at least sorrowful about what happened so many nights ago. Not to mention that he hopes that the lack of eye contact sends the signal to him that it is alright to approach. And Light...he hopes that he does.
It seems to work. Aren's been far more responsive to body language since his change anyway. To see Natharai so despondent, though, doesn't really make him feel any -less- like he should just leave him to the human world like he wanted. But he also still loves Natharai more than anything. With some hesitation, he stops hunkering down in place and starts picking his way slowly toward the warlock.
Once close, he takes a deep breath of his scent, eyes half closing. He missed him so. But there's a sharpness to it that isn't normally there, something harsh and acrid that isn't brimstone or his usual alchemical reagents. No, this is metallic, and makes his nose burn slightly. It only takes a split second for him to identify what it is, too,
He can't help but withdraw a step, but doesn't retreat beyond that, instead just crouching down in a lump before Natharai with his ears lowered. He doesn't say anything for a long, long time really; possibly long enough that he might wonder if he's lost speech to the wolf in only a matter of days. But eventually he rumbles a few words. "It's.... come to this, then, I suppose."
Hearing Aren stop in his tracks once again, along with the sorrowful rumbling of words, urges Natharai to look up from the floorboards and at cowering creature before him. Only briefly does his eyes glance down at the dagger at his side, a solemn frown tugging down at his lips. Truth be told, even with the backlighting of lamplit house behind him, which shadows much of his expression, Natharai looks like...well...hell. He has not slept much in the past few days and, like the highlander, has eaten very little. How could he with these thoughts plaguing him so...?
The warlock does not respond right away, the silence hanging between them thick and smothering, but when he does his voice is quiet and aching – Raw in its sadness to the point where he doesn't bother to cover up his accent. "...Tell me why I shouldn't, Aren..." He murmurs with eyes downcast once again.
The worgen doesn't respond immediately, likely considering his words. "It was difficult to control at the start." Most of his drawl is gone now, though it's hard to say if it's because he's focused on speaking clearer, or just because it's slower. "It's not a matter of decisions made, but of thought traveling slower than instinct. I cannot explain it more clearly, because... I don't think you can understand. Any more than I can truly understand what you must endure."
He heaves a sigh, then, settling to the ground and resting his head on Natharai's shoes, letting his eyes all but close. "I only wanted to protect you," he mutters awkwardly through his fangs. He knows it sounds kind of pathetic, but... it's true. Both in the general sense, and the fact that he was trying to protect Natharai from the knowledge of how difficult it was adjusting. Aren's never liked to be a burden.
And, oh, how he hates this... The warlock hates this weight in his heart from the knowledge that he came here not to make amends, but to be his beloved's executioner. However, at least he seems open to the idea of the 'convicted' pleading his case to try and change his mind. The mention of 'thought traveling slower than instinct' does make some degree of sense to him, but it is, as Aren said, not something he can fully understand. Humans, for the most part, are far removed from nature and a majority of the reactive instincts that Arenvald now possesses. But he can understand things being hard to stop...
When the wolfcreature rests his head upon his shoes, it takes an extraordinary amount of willpower to not reach down and reassuringly stroke his fur. However, he does reach down...but towards the dagger. In a slow and intentionally non-threatening motion, he draws it from its sheath and holds the blade in front of him at eye level, studying it with distant eyes.
"...Not long after your change, you made me promise to make sure that you did not lose yourself fully. And...seeing what I have over the past few months...coupled with what I recently discovered," he murmurs absentmindedly, not really paying close attention to what he's saying if his expression is any clue. "...You seem to be on the precipice of losing yourself. And I do not know what to do, Aren..." A short mindless bark of a laugh. "I don't. I have tried so hard... And I am so scared for you." As well as himself... "Hah. Hah..."
"I have given you a home... two, currently. You are sheltered, loved, and well fed... And yet," his words hitch for a moment as he struggles to throttle the telltale signs of an unwanted noise–though if it was uncertain if it was the beginnings of a sob or a laugh. "And yet I find those bones... and fear returns to me. Will you continue to kill and devour others...? Will one of them be a friend or ally of ours? How far does this hunger go, Aren...? Will you lose all control when I am gone...?" He is not aware of the slip in his words as he carefully fingers the tip of the truesilver blade with the pad of an index finger. "...So I made this. To save you."
Arenvald listens to the explanation silently, without moving. Briefly, he toys with shifting back, but that would likely only make matters worse. Better that he continue to see the beast rather than the man. "You've given me more than I could've ever hoped for. I only regret that I couldn't do more for you." And that's the truth, really. His only solution to Natharai's problem is causing the same situation that now brings him to this point.
As for what he'd do if he lost Natharai... that's something he's actually very studiously NOT been thinking about. "As... for killing. That's all I've ever done," he murmurs. "It's what I did for my homeland, it's what I did for the Kamil until I walked away from it. Just because some monsters are easier to see doesn't mean others don't exist." He sighs, quiet for awhile before continuing. "As for... the rest of it... I've not fed from...that sort of kill in months." A pause, this one slightly longer, then almost inaudibly, "....Have I been fading?" Maybe he has. Maybe the eccentricities he thought were Natharai's are failures in his ability to comprehend. He -thought- he'd finally begun to come to grips with it, but.... then, he's always considered Natharai the careful observer, and now he's afraid he's missed something grave.
He's trying not to stare at the certain death hovering over his head, though, even though he can -feel- its proximity. But he still doesn't move. "My.. control is not perfect. I know it's not. I always have to keep it in mind, how things will cause reactions whether I want them to or not. But I'm trying, Natharai. With all my soul, I'm trying." He's quiet for a little while, but then his brawny shoulders sag slightly. "But.... if you think I am too weak, that in the end it won't matter... then I trust your judgement," he rasps, almost inaudibly. "I would have let you four nights ago, and I will let you now."
The mention of not feeding off of human flesh in months is a bit...disarming, to say the least, and manages to make his resolve on the matter dwindle somewhat. Though, honestly, he had no idea of the timeline these kills took place in. For all he knew, he could have had a bit of human tartare as a snack a week ago and hid the remains elsewhere. He could have asked this earlier, but he was hardly of sound mind... It is rather difficult to do when you find a miniature aquatic graveyard filled with the half-eaten victims of the one he holds dear..
Though Arenvald has never been much of a liar... probably due to the fact that he is not really good at it – not to mention he knows all too well that his life hangs in the balance as of now.
The half-questioning if he has been fading or not does give Natharai further pause, since it really could be, once again, the warlock's own uncertainties and failure to understand this newly adopted worgen 'culture'. But, rather than admit to possible fault on that matter, he looks to the side slightly before sheathing his dagger once again. Alright... Aren has managed to sway him, for the time being, and now he is listening with rapt attention for the worgen's further explanation. "...What would you have done if I had not come back?" Upon uttering that quiet question, he looks back down at Arenvald and watches him–closely.
He shrugs slightly. "Tend to the raptors. Guard," he murmurs. "I thought... you weren't coming back. I wanted to keep the house just like you left it." There's something... a little eerie there, but at least it's fairly harmless. "I wanted to remember when I was happy. That's all. Stay here, and guard."
His tone shifts slightly as he speaks, as his words simplify. Perhaps it's a bit more of the wolf-mind responsible for his actions post Natharai's leaving, yet still colored with human sentiment. Would he have killed trespassers? Well... probably, if only to prevent them from telling anyone what was here. But that's not the worst of sins, after all. He's killed an awful lot of people in his life. "I... have nowhere else to go."
Natharai does not react save for furrowing his brow at the unnerving shift in tone, remaining silent as he takes this in. "...I want you to promise me something else, Aren," he murmurs, his own tone evening out to his usual 'standard' Stormwindian manner of speaking. "No matter what may happen, whether you stay in the world of man or regress to a more natural state. I ask you, no, I implore you to engrave this upon the core of your mind from this point on. I need you to promise me that you will not consume the flesh of humanoid races. Killing them out of self-defense is one thing, eating them or, heaven forbid, hunting them is not. I... do not want to believe that you are a monster, Aren... And I will not have you face a monster's end." He has done terrible, -horrible-, things, yes, but so has Natharai... Though he had the chance to atone, somewhat, so why should he deny Aren his chance when he so determinately says that he is trying?
Aren nods as best he can with his jaw still resting on Natharai's boots. There really isn't anything he feels he can say... and what's more, he can't grovel any more completely without embarrassing himself. But... he promises not to eat people, yep.
It's arguably a good thing that...well, the races he considers 'not-people' he doesn't think taste good. But that's not something he's putting much consideration toward at the moment. He just wants things to be like they were. "Anything you ask, Natharai," he rumbles softly. "Anything."
Hearing Arenvald agreeing to this earns a faint, if not trembling, sigh of relief as he lets those hazel eyes drift closed behind the windows of his reader glasses. The highlander answered honestly and he, in turn, believes him. As a result, his judgement will be delayed, but at least the consequence for any future 'slips' has been presented...
The hand that sheathed his dagger, which still rests upon the butt of the pommel, shifts once again...but to unfasten the ties that binds the weapon to his belt. Once freed, he picks up the deadly object and tosses it to the side of the porch – which bounces and clatters with all sorts of noise as it skids far from harm's reach.
Freed from the role of judge and executioner at last, Natharai's hands move to press their palms flush against the porch steps, gripping the edges lightly as he bows his head with eyes closed. A distant nagging part of him finds this giving in to be weak and that he will, likely, live to regret this decision... But he is so tired...and like Aren, he wants nothing more but to be just a bad dream and that they would wake up and continue on like nothing happened.
"...Can you ever forgive me, Aren...?" He pauses for a moment in his remorseful question. "...Can you ever forgive me for coming to our home with a weapon crafted to bring about your demise...? For even considering using it upon you...?"
Aren finally lifts his head from the ground, placing a paw on the step below the one Natharai sits on and drags himself up slightly. The point of the maneuver is to wedge his shaggy head between the warlock's upper body and his lap. It means he gets his muzzle kind of squished against his stomach, but right now, he can't really think of anyplace he'd rather be.
Something gets mumbled completely unintelligably into his gut. It sounds really heartfelt and quiet, but... apparently physical logistics have won out over social for the moment. But... he does forgive him. Rationally or irrationally, as the case may be.
The feeling of Arenvald pressing himself against him so eagerly causes the warlock to choke on another sound that threatened to escape his throat, one that was much louder than the one prior and is, unmistakably, the beginning of a sob. It is a pitiful, relieved, and repentantly solemn noise as his hands unbuckle from the steps he grips to pull Arenvald closer for an embrace. On any other day, the warlock would be loathe to show any signs of distress like this but they are alone...and the last four days have been soul-draining, to say the least.
Any sane and normal couple would have likely fled in terror at even the mention of semi-cannibalism and premeditation on assault with a weapon...but the two of them are hardly normal and have enough issues to likely fill a book. He just wants Aren back... sensible reasoning could go to hell, for all he cared.
There's a soft, rumbling whine from Aren as he lets Natharai wrap his arms around his shoulders and shifts his head into a more comfortable position. He also settles his arms around him carefully, resting his weight on his knees. He's honestly not in too much better condition than Natharai emotionally, it's just that he's not currently suited to tears. There is a hint of a soft whine in his breathing, though, as he noses and licks at the man in his arms. "I'll do anything and everything for you, Natharai," he gravels softly. "Never doubt that."