Nhulynolyn skidded around the last corner before the Companion Tower’s square just in time for the tension to snap. With a curse, he extended the nails of his right hand into talons and sank them into the brick wall beside him as unstable magick blasted out in a concussive wave that would have sent him flying had he not braced for it. Came to a jarring stop as wave after wave buffeted the air. Pressed himself close to the wall and waited for that unstable magick to settle. The second it did he blinked over to the Companion Tower and the Dragaen crumbled at its base, studiously not looking at the writhing mass of bodies a hundred feet away. Rhyshladlyn could handle himself.
Slipping in the blood that soaked the stones, cursing as he dodged around piles of bodies in whole and in pieces, careful to move around the body shaped crater in the ground, he dropped to his knees beside the Dragaen and surveyed the damage. That torso wound is the worst, gods, reached out, ripped off what remained of the tunic the male wore and focused his magick into his hands. Pressed it down into the skin and muscle and organs beneath him. Willed them to reknit, to heal, to close. All while keenly aware of the fight going on behind him, of how close they were to a literal mass of creatures he’d never seen or heard of before, things that the Forest had kept hidden for eons or longer. Rhyshladlyn was counting on him to heal the Dragaen and get them both out of immediate danger. But he wasn’t a Healer, not by a long shot.
But he would try regardless. And if nothing else he’d get the male stabilized that moving him wouldn’t risk killing him.
“Thank you, Nul,” the Dragaen croaked, voice dry and scratchy. Nhulynolyn glanced up with a raised eyebrow to show he was listening but otherwise didn’t take his eyes off what he was doing. “I didn’t think any of you would ever come…”
Didn’t think we’d ever come? What? He didn’t reply for fear of splitting his focus and losing what little ground he’d gained Healing the wound beneath his hands. But that didn’t stop him from wondering how the fuck this random Dhaoine he’d never met before knew him well enough to know his nickname on sight. Who was willing to let someone who obviously wasn’t a Healer seal up the worst of his wounds. Though if he was being realistic and honest with himself, if his choice was a non-Healer closing up a debilitating wound or facing a literal miniature army of flesh-less terrors? He’d choose the non-Healer in a heartbeat. Least if he died then it wouldn’t be a gruesome or probably as painful. Probably.
And if he also didn’t comment on the way the Dragaen felt familiar, like a memory that was just out of reach but teased along his spine despite that? Well, no one else had to know but him.
The ground undulated with a sudden, hard impact and the sounds of fighting paused. He glanced over his shoulder to find Rhyshladlyn standing still several feet closer than he had been when Nhulynolyn had arrived, so thickly drenched in gore that his clothes sagged with it, hair matted to his face by blood and thicker, goopier things, orange-amber eyes sun-bright and blinding with it as they stared at something out of Nhulynolyn’s sight. Moved in an up down motion, sizing up whatever had caused that impact before they blinked and Rhyshladlyn moved as the battle resumed. As though it had never paused. For a long moment he got caught up watching the Qishir fight, admiring how even now, Rhyshladlyn was just as beautiful of a fighter as he had always been, moving like he was made for it. Like this was how he prayed, how he gave manners and homage to his gods and ancestors.
Shaking his head, Nhulynolyn looked back at the Dragaen and froze. Felt the weight of those brown-golden eyes and frowned. Then the male shifted and something flickered just out of sight, there but gone as soon as Nhulynolyn tried to look fully at it. He blinked and those eyes were no longer watching him. No, that heavy, too familiar gaze, tracked what was going on behind him. Watched the source of the sounds of fighting. Watched what Nhulynolyn could feel the echoes of across their link.
Rhyshladlyn’s growls louder than the screams of his enemies, the feel of the sound vibrating his throat nearly painful. The whistling of steel and obsidian as they danced through the air, the eerie absence of the chiming of hair-bells and the hiss-crackle of magick as it filled the unBalanced air of the square, making it hum with impending danger. Body parts flying in arcs of glittering blood, ripped joints, the wet snap of bones compound fracturing through sun-leathered muscle in absence of skin. The way for all that his chest heaved, Rhyshladlyn wasn’t even winded, nowhere near his limit. Orange-amber eyes leaving streaks of color like raindrops with every dip, parry, swing, flip, duck, dodge, slash, roll, and stab he made. The way Ryphqi gave blips of power to the Qishir who gave it life and Balance, who had saved it before, who would always save it until the day that saving it was too great of a risk to take.
Wait…what? When did he have to save Ryphqi City before? Rubbing at his face, Nhulynolyn forcibly pushed the thought aside and moved to resume Healing the Dragaen when that flicker of something caught his attention again. And this time he saw enough to make him change priorities. Suddenly he had to know what it was, needed to know with absolute certainty. Even if it meant distracting his twin greatly enough to risk stealing his advantage. But Nhulynolyn knew that if he wasn’t certain and didn’t take the necessary precautions and failed to keep the Dragaen safe? The Old Ones See the Worlds. It was too scary to even think about hypothetically.
“Rhys!” he called, making the Dragaen jump and look at him.
*Yes? And his name is Xefras,* his twin replied, grunting when one of those creatures landed a kick to his abdomen. Rhyshladlyn’s calm, even, borderline monotonous tone was a shock even though it really shouldn’t have been. But maybe it was such a shock because the emotions in the eyes of the male beneath him were anything but calm.
“I need your sight real quick!” *An’ I’ll ask later how the fuck you know his name already.*
“What happened to your eyes?” Rhyshladlyn quipped, kicking a creature away and into a group of its fellows. Pieces of those things flying passed where Nhulynolyn knelt at the base of the Tower with Xefras, the ground rumbling with the impact as they hit several feet beyond him.
He rolled his eyes. “I need your Qishir sight!” *You sarcastic shit.*
There was a pause as Rhyshladlyn pulled that part of himself to the surface and unleashed it down their link. As it filled his room in the hallway that connected them, Nhulynolyn shuddered from head to foot. Swayed as what his own eyes saw and what he saw through Rhyshladlyn’s blurred and mixed. Swallowed hard against the bile that threatened to spill out of his mouth until he closed his eyes and was able to separate himself just enough from his twin’s mind so that when he opened his eyes again, he was only seeing through his own.
But the second he did he wished he’d kept them closed as an Otherborn curse made the air burn around him, teasing the lack of Balance that filled the square but in that moment he didn’t give a shit. Because he knew what those flickers were now, knew the danger their existence put them all in. Felt Rhyshladlyn’s attention swing around and land on him and Xefras, felt the shock and fear thunder down their link.
As he opened his mouth to curse again, pain sliced through his chest, wobbling his vision for an entirely different reason this time. Looking away from Xefras he stared down at his chest, one hand pawing at it weakly, confused by the lack of wound. Realized distantly as he struggled not to fall over that it wasn’t himself who was injured but Rhyshladlyn. But for all that he knew the why, it didn’t matter. He suddenly couldn’t breath around the pain, lungs failing to work as the distinctly slimy wet feeling of blood gushing down the front of his body registered fully. Scrambled to catch himself as he toppled fully to the ground, splashing the blood that soaked the cobblestones as he landed. Tried to cry out, tried to reach for Rhyshladlyn but he couldn’t get shit all to work. It was like he was being tossed about by a wave that had come out of nowhere, able to do nothing but ride it out until it released him. And hope that he wasn’t too injured to get himself to shore once it did.
Just as Xefras touched his cheek and brought that flickering movement close enough for him to make out the patterns mouth moving soundlessly, Rhyshladlyn’s shared Qishir sight failed entirely. And with its loss he was alone in his own head as sound rushed in. Was able to hear a shrieking roar, the ground shaking beneath his useless body as some great beast came bursting into the square, scattering the flesh-less things. But he only caught a glimpse of it before it was out of sight. Was able to smell the wood smoke and blood and sand scent of the Dragaen who was mouthing words to him that he couldn’t hear but could feel the emotions behind. Was able to feel the way the ambient magick in the square shuddered as Ryphqi City gathered itself.
Knew that Jerald had arrived as Eiod came running into sight. Knew that there was another voice that was so familiar but he couldn’t place it shouting over the cacophony. Not that it mattered. They were too late. He could feel it. Knew by the way his heartbeat was slowing down, the way it stuttered and skipped steps, that he was the only thing keeping Rhyshladlyn alive. He’d taken a calculated risk and it had cost them; he’d distracted his twin when he’d confirmed his suspicions and had left the Qishir open for the attack that could kill them both.
“Tell him that… it’s okay.” He didn’t know if the words actually made it into the vocal range, didn’t know if they were in Common. Just knew that the pull he felt was the same as when Rhyshladlyn had died in Shiran for those terrifying seconds centuries ago. Knew that so long as one of them lived the other wasn’t truly dead and the Old Ones only knew that Rhyshladlyn couldn’t die. Not even for the time it would take to revive him. “Tell ‘im… that… I’m sorry.”
Xefras’ mouth moved more expressively but he’d lost the ability to hear anything. He tried to lift a hand to pat the Dragaen’s hand on his cheek but his arm wouldn’t obey the command as that pull grew too strong to fight anymore. The last thought he had was Bayls is gonna fuckin’ murder me. But it wasn’t enough to stop him. His whole existence was to keep his kè safe and alive at all costs. Even if one of those costs was his own life. He just hoped that she’d forgive Rhyshladlyn for it, that she’d understand that it wasn’t the Qishir’s fault. Hoped, too, that his kè wouldn’t blame himself either, even though Nhulynolyn knew he would.
The last thing he saw as he relinquished the gift of life Rhyshladlyn had given him centuries ago was Eiod pulling Xefras away.