Three men gathered together in a room. Not particularly unusual of them, but something this time was off. An odd, unsuspected something that just felt wrong.
Rather than sitting amongst his coworkers, Sylas stood to pace, needlessly busying himself by lighting the fireplace and moving drapes from the windows. Torrin shifted in his seat for the fifth time, shared a quick look with Garrick, then continued toying with his fingers. And Garrick had a dry aggravation floating in his throat. Though he sat completely still, he couldn't resist the urge to itch and fidget with his casted, tingling arm.
Neither man said a word although the same question played at each of their minds. No mind reading was necessary for the Diviners.
One minute passed since Keiran called them all into the living room. He had yet to arrive himself, to which the three men could only ponder. Apprehensive, unknowing. There was something about the nature and timing of his beckoning that frightened them – though none would admit it.
At last, Keiran arrived. To one who knew him well, they might notice his face hinted with weariness; as if exhausted from some psychological battle that no one else would understand. Nevertheless, he took a look around the room and greeted his comrades all with smiles. Not a man present was fooled. "Thank you for coming." He said simply.
"What's the matter?" Sylas spoke up, emotion willfully capped. As soon as he had seen his master enter the room, he perked himself upright on impulse and ceased the pacing.
Slowly, Keiran walked towards the open, burning fireplace. "All right, then, I'll get straight to the point. And there's no reason to be so uptight, everyone. I'm giving you all a golden opportunity I need you to think about." Great speaker that he claimed to be, he first paused for impact. "Would any of you like to be reborn?"
"What?" Garrick spat out, causing Torrin to jump beside him.
"I want to encourage each of you to think about what you truly desire. Think about how you'd like to shape your life, and I'll make it happen for you on earth."
Garrick was about to shout an objection but stopped when Sylas opened his mouth first. The voice of karma was firm, "How could you say something like that? I don't need to think about it. I want to stay here."
"Because you want to? Is that really it? Or are you doing this just because I ordered you to? I want what's best for you, really." Keiran was insistent, and for some reason, Garrick noticed the speaker take a quick look at his cast before speaking, "But don't you feel like there's nothing left for you here? Like you have a bigger purpo-"
The quiet man snapped. Any and all restraint was neglected as Sylas angrily reached forward, grabbed Keiran by the open-collar, and rammed him back-first into the chair nearest him. "You self-centered prick, I'm staying. I don't need time to think." He spat out, keeping sure his words were heard this time while he pinned Keiran further with a tight grip and unexpected strength. "This is my everything, and you want to take this all away from me?!"
Sylas displayed a new set of emotion that Garrick and Torrin had yet to witness. They dared not speak under such heavy pressure. What more could they say? He seems so worried, so scared. For a heated moment, Garrick wondered how far Sylas would take his fear…
As the Diviner of Karma let his hands ease against the fabric, Keiran lowered his voice, then slumped in his seat. Though he appeared defeated, his promise remained, "I'm sending you – all three of you – down to earth to think it over while you enjoy a vacation I've planned out. I don't need your answer right away."
"I won't." Sylas repeated.
"It's not your choice. You either pack," Keiran dangerously raised his eyes towards Slyas', then readied his fingers for a snap, "or I send you now."
"Then, what should I pack? And how long do you expect we'll stay?"
"As long as it takes."
"And I imagine you'll be making yourself tea every morning?" Nonchalantly, Sylas waved an impatient farewell to the discussion before walking around towards the exit. "Keiran, I fear for what would happen to the world if it returned under your rule again. You know you could never do this alone. If I leave – if Garrick and Torrin both leave you – that beloved world of yours will fall apart."
Garrick was taken aback. In response to the accusations, Keiran said nothing. Painstakingly so. If there was a conversation going on via mindreading, it was beyond his skill to listen. After all, the two shared a bond and history that made Garrick feel as if he had no part to play.
His only mission here would be to go earth on vacation, return with the same answer, then continue working in Runawynd peacefully. Everything would be as it was. Surely, Keiran would never consider leaving them for good.
Finally, the supreme god spoke up, "Go get your things. There's nothing wrong with a change of scenery once and a while. The warp point will be ready in half an hour."
Sylas was first to leave the room. Garrick waited until Torrin stood to escort after him.
Clothing for a week's worth, money for a month. A few miscellanea from the bathroom, and Garrick was as ready as a minuteman could be. After assembling his suitcase of goods, mentally checking things off as he went, his eyes glanced at the clock. He still had time before departure. Perfect, then, for a quick stop.
Garrick had it all mapped out in his mind. Where he would go, how he would get there, who he would meet, what he would say to him… It could be said that thinking was hardly his strongest suit, but it seemed anyone could do enough of it to make a plan.
He approached Keiran's open doorway, but before entering, he stopped. There was incense lit inside, the smoke twirling and hovering around the bedside in a calm fixation around the light. The supreme god lay naked – no, half naked on his bed; arms stretched out, eyes fixed to the ceiling. Out of concern, Garrick watched to make sure he was even breathing. Sure enough, that exposed chest of his was rising and falling.
"K-Keiran?" Ughh, I didn't mean to stutter.
Like a slothing feline, Keiran rolled over to one side – to face the wall - then answered vaguely, "Yes, dear?"
Without eye contact, Garrick could already feel a gaping void between the two. "This… vacation. I appreciate it 'n all, but I'm just wondering… um, when 'd this come about?"
"Whatever do you mean?" Keiran hummed.
"This isn't the reason, is it?" Garrick lifted his casted arm to the ignorant man.
Leisurely, the other turned his head to at last initiate an airy connection.
"Look, I'm not here to argue with you or anything. But as a wild guess, the reason you're doing this is because you want us safe, and gone, and out of your hands for a while. Right? Well, it's not your fault for everything that happened to me. But if you want me gone and safe so bad, then leave the other two out of it and just make me disappear!"
Keiran hoisted himself around to fall again on his side. His back facing the speaker once more.
Hands formed to fists, Garrick stood for a moment, wondering if Keiran even gave his speech any thought. Shunned, the blond man heaved a shrug, rolled his neck tense until it cracked, then moved towards the doorway. He thought, I still think Sylas was right. You'll need us.
'But do you need me anymore?'
Garrick had broken through his barrier. Keiran was in a rare, vulnerable state, and if there was one magic skill that Garrick was good for, it was mind reading. Or perhaps, Keiran wanted the message to be heard…?
"What do you desire?" Keiran asked; flowing words prodded into the other man with delicacy.
Such words – such easy, free-flowing words, decorated with a hint of suggestion and menacing risqué – never failed to make Garrick's heart pound. He could feel more heat rising in his body, blood boiling with an unmistakable frustration, yet also the pink hues of disconcerted shyness. Which he hid from Keiran the moment he realized it himself.
Fleeing from distraction, Garrick felt the need to respond. "I-I want to stay here." Ahh, I wish it wasn't so hard to talk with him right now… If only the cocky bastard would put on a shirt.
Keiran sat up now, leaning back into a comfortable shoulder stretch. "Why? Do you think that by staying here forever – with me – you'll be happy?"
With each question, Garrick felt that more and more forbidden ground was being surmounted. But this one he deemed unapproachable. He drew a breath before speaking through clenched teeth, "I wouldn't go that far."
"Well then, what is it you want? To just keep helping the earthbound ones solve their problems? Is that it?"
"Yes, Keiran! That's what I want!"
"Hmm." He hummed quietly. "The portal's all set. Enjoy your time off. Earth will be fine without you."
Though he entered with a goal in mind, Garrick left feeling he hardly understood Keiran's intentions at all.
Midday tea and snacks were served by a lovely innkeeper. She smiled all the while, setting up the table in such a manner to be artistry. Garrick thanked the lady and was the first to take a seat at the low, blanket-clad table, burying his feet underneath the insulation. Torrin followed suit, but Sylas merely stood in the corner of the room, his mind clearly venturing elsewhere.
This seemed to be the way things went on their terrestrial holiday. Garrick was first to enter the portal, then Torrin, then Sylas. He was first to get acquainted with their traditional hotel room, then Torrin, then Sylas, who did so with the stubbornness of an unwilling child.
Garrick's optimistic outlook was dampened by his two partners' slump. As soon as the woman left the room, he called out to Sylas, "Why don' 'cha drink some tea?"
"No, thanks." Sylas was resolute.
The blond man reached across the table to for a snack, glancing over at Torrin, who made the deduction, "You don't like to be served tea, right, Sylas?"
Yeah, that's it. It's not like he won't drink tea, he just wants it the other way around.
Tight eyebrows knit together when Sylas' downbeat became a full-fledged scowl. He looked scornfully out the window, as if demonstrating that look for Keiran himself.
Garrick would have no more of it. "You know what, guys? We got vacation, and we're going on enjoy it. Let's all go take a bath, right now!" With newborn gusto, he rose to his feet, strode to the bathroom to collect three fresh towels, and then waited at the door for the two men to follow.
But they did not - only heaviness clung to the air. Sylas hadn't moved, and it was only Torrin's eyes that followed Garrick by the doorway. Though it was occasionally hard to tell with Torrin, the caring brotherly figure, Garrick, knew just how to handle him.
"Let's go, Torrin, let's go!" Garrick jested, dropping his blankets to playfully scoop the fragile boy up in his arms. "Or I'll take you by force!"
In the instant Torrin stifled a laugh, Garrick at last felt successful, a smile washing over his triumphant face. "Haha, stop it! Put me down!" The younger man breathed between laughs, tussling his way back to his feet, "It's embarrassing and ruining my masculine charm!"
"Masculine-? Tchh, come on, let's get you dressed – er, undressed, that is! All right, let's go! Time to strip!"
Sylas turned his head for perhaps the first time since they entered the room. He beheld a giggling Torrin being wrestled to the straw-matted floors by Garrick, who managed to hold a towel in his other hand. It was an awkward struggle that required a comment of suggestion, "The two of you can share your own little house together on a beach somewhere, but leave me out of it."
The boys ceased the joviality to whisper in unison, "Ouch, someone's moody." "I think it's time we should go."
Once the commotion had settled, two of the three men stood, gathered their things, and took out the doorway with towels and robes in hand. Leaving the third man, however, to commence his train of thought in the quiet. He looked at at tea set on the table and recollected.
It bothered me. Granted, it never took much to bother me, but this one… this man… I wish I could change him.
When I felt bothered – and I don't do this all the time – but sometimes I like to play the piano. It's meditative. It calms me down, helps me think and stay focused on what really matters. It makes me feel good.
Oops, I struck a wrong chord. How does that next part go again…? Honestly, I-
"What are you doing?"
He interrupted all my thoughts. Yes, that man. The one that seems to be getting me all hot and bothered. I stopped my dinking around the keys to turn and greet him properly.
This was rare. He actually spoke to me, and if I didn't know better, I'd say he was genuinely curious about me and what I'm up to. Well.
"Good morning, Sylas." I pasted a smile on my face, hoping he might do the same.
But no, of course not. "Good morning." He responded without using my name. Yes, that's right; he still won't use my name. He must hate me.
I must've hoped then that he would have contributed more to the conversation, but no, he wasn't quite ready. That's fine. It's only a matter of time, I figured. And we have plenty of that. In fact, all the time in the world.
And so, I resumed playing the piano. I did my latest song, the one I was practicing.
Funny, you'd think. That a god such as myself would need to "practice" a song. But think again. It's not as if one could simply touch an instrument and master it. I can't do everything, you know. The only reason I can play the piano is because I've practiced it well enough to know how to.
I don't know everything. I learn through people, through experience, just like the rest of the human race might. I can watch from up here and learn from them. It's strange. Though I might come to know people this way, they don't know or understand me… But I still know them.
Ah, I digress. As much as I love to talk – most of the time, not always – it's difficult for me to find a good listener.
My song – or at least what I had learned of it thus far – was over. My thought process just sort of stopped along with it. I guess now's the time to find another song to play…
I reached my hands out again to play, but I thought twice. Sylas, my recently-hired Diviner of Karma, stood there patiently and intently. So he likes music.
"Want to try?" I asked him.
His face was difficult. It's always difficult. Because he's rare to speak, it really leaves me to depend on facial expression and body language. He frowned and his eyebrows were tight together. As a frightened animal might be towards a free gift from a human, he hesitated and looked at me with his head cocked a little to the side.
It took him a moment – another moment of me waiting for him to warm up – but after all that hesitation, he finally came to my side.
I'd rather he sat beside me, but there he stood, and I knew better than to cross certain boundaries with this one. He's so shy and so very unsure. I wanted and wished with all my heart that he would learn to trust me. And I vowed to use this piano as his break in. Or at least, I would try.
I showed him how to place his hands, but he wouldn't set them on the keys. I showed him the first few notes of a simple melody, but he waited for me to stand up before he sat down at the bench. It made me wonder if he was doing all this on purpose – just to irk me.
But with just about everything, patience is key. "Patience and practice, you know. It takes time to master something. It's a part of living." I told him, standing and watching him work from above, "And you know what the greatest thing about practice is? You can only move forward in the long run. There's no moving backwards."
At last, my inning. He looked up at me – such beautiful brown eyes - and asked, "Where do I start?" Then he let me guide his fingers on the piano.
I thought that if I could do whatever I wanted whenever I wanted, it'd be boring. So I created a place in its likeness, where I would live and guide my own life and experiences. And now, I could live with you, Sylas… like an earth of our own. A utopia, if you will.
"Sylas," Nothing like the present. "Why would you decide to stay up here with me?"
"Anything's better than staying down there." Was his cold response.
I didn't understand it, but I held my tongue and just let things flow as they were. Because at least then, he trusted me enough to unlatch a lock in his heart. Even if for just a short while.
"How does your arm feel, Garrick?" Torrin asked with concern, carefully sitting himself down on the waters' edge, dipping his feet in the steaming pool.
"What? Oh, it doesn't really hurt anymore." As he took a seat beside his friend, Garrick awkwardly gestured to his arm, concluding, "Actually, I could probably take the damn thing off. Starting to smell pretty nasty."
After watching fate struggle with his cast, Torrin helped him remove it. In a timid, disconcerted way, the blond man thanked him, then worked on stretching out his arm. Though the limb was healing at a celestial rate, it was still discolored white with a clear red and purple streak along the surface of his skin. As he moved it around, bending and twisting, Torrin couldn't help but notice how it shook from the physical strain.
I can see he's trying to be strong for me. Torrin thought, removing his towel and slowly letting his body sink in the water. I wish he'd stop all that, and just be honest with me, and treat me more like an equal. I know you've been hurt, and even though I don't really understand it all, I know we can get it all fixed together. That's in our job description, right?
There was a minute of strained silence before Garrick communicated, 'Torrin?'
He knew he was caught. Mind reading barriers… Torrin reminded himself. Sometimes I forget. With a smile and innocent façade, he said, "Don't worry yourself, it's no trouble."
"Nah, you're right – you're absolutely right." Garrick admitted defeat to Torrin, "Guess I gotta work on that."
Torrin sensed his words were heartfelt. After all, the hot springs seemed like the perfect place to collect one's thoughts, so perhaps this time, he could learn something new about his friend…?
Garrick disrobed and submerged his sore body into the waters. Unintentionally, he let out a deep sigh of relief, and it was a while before he bothered to breathe in again.
Easing out his aches and pains in the spring, the Diviner of Fate noted the night sky. To him, it was beautiful and flawless. A stretch of stars were just overhead, projecting a glowing light across the skies, and the moon was set center-stage. It was still and quiet, save the soft running of water, and picturesque as the steam rose and disappeared somewhere along the cool night air.
"The weather's really nice. It's beautiful out." Garrick said aloud. Torrin nodded silently in agreement.
It was as if Keiran rewarded him for his respect. A soft flicker of light in the distance crept closer, and the flickering became an incandescent, disappearing and reappearing glow that seemed to join the two in the baths. Fireflies. The troop of fireflies came and went, journeying above and beyond the rooftops out of sight.
The weather, the serene location, the short little miracles of an earthborn life… It was as if Keiran was doing all he could to make the earth look more beautiful in hopes to convince them to stay. But those little miracles only reminded Garrick of the one responsible. "Even if I left, he'd still be with me. That's my fate, I think. To be stuck with that annoying jerk for the rest of my afterlife."
"Is that what you want? To be with him?"
"I dunno. When you put it that way, it doesn't really sound right, but… I mean, I can't really picture myself doing anything else, but…" Garrick shook his head and ran a hand across his bad arm, rubbing it out. "What about you?"
"Any secrets you wanna share, y' know?"
"You mean, do I have someone I like? Sorry, but that sounds like something you'd ask at a girly slumber party. Geez."
Garrick turned, disquieting the waters around him. "You know I didn't mean it like that! I mean, like – Gah, I dunno. Just – just forget it. It's none of my business."
He's so funny when he's flustered. He's so easy. I can see why Keiran has so much fun with him. "What I want… I just want to go home." Looking up to the sky, Torrin hoped he could get a glance at what lie beyond that sea of stars. "I've never minded earth, but I feel strange here, you know. Like I don't really belong. But it's sorta sad when you find a new family that doesn't want you anymore."
"Ohh, Torrin, it's not like that at all. He'd never want to leave you! He really cares about you, y' know! Like a parent, like family, he…" Garrick's words began to make little and little sense, and failed altogether to make the situation any nicer. He mumbled, "Well, I care about you. And I'd never leave you like that, ya know."
"I love you, too, Garrick." Torrin said with all brotherly intentions.
"I- hey, yeah." 'Uuug, my heart's poundin' like a moron. I hate how my face gets so red. Hope he can't see it, this is so – ahh, he's so cute, yet so awkward sometimes. I'll just turn my head and act cool. And I guess I love him too, but I can't really say that, 'cuz it's not like THAT, but-'
As the rambling soared further and further into disarray, Torrin sat in full confidence but feigned pure ignorance while Garrick's body became redder and redder. Goodness, I'd better be careful, or I'll make him pass out from heat exhaustion.
When enough time passed, and when temperature limits were met, the boys agreed to surrender and return back to their room.
"Oh, Sylas, we were just on our way out. Your turn?" In the changing room, Torrin greeted the robe-clad man, who was readying himself to bathe alone.
"Yes, I…" Sylas nodded but trailed off when his eyes beheld a horribly red, disheveled Garrick, hastily drying himself off in the background. Concerned, he pointed, "Is he all right?"
"Never you mind. He's just fine." Torrin fluffed his hair to dry. "I'm off to take a nap, but I'll see you around dinnertime then?"
With one more professional acknowledgement to the younger man, Sylas nodded, then stood tall to watch Torrin make his way around the corner and back to their room. A nap sounds good. He thought to himself.
In the time it took Sylas to disrobe and wrap a towel around his body, Garrick came bounding in the dressing room, "You came after all? Great! I'm going to help get Torrin ready for a quick nap, but then I'll come back and join you!"
Energy, energy, you have so much of it. "Don't trouble yourself."
In a second, Sylas noticed Garrick's eye contact veer to the right a little behind him, so he turned, too, to follow the distraction.
A tall man with auburn hair and tired smile approached the two, pushing the dressing room curtain out of the way as he lazily entered. Sylas noticed him glance at Garrick, who gave him a nod on his way out, but then turned to look Sylas straight in the face. The stranger beamed wide and indistinctly. "Hey."
Like Garrick, Sylas nodded a greeting as well, but he became irked. As this unexpected stranger arrived and started getting removing his clothing in Sylas' presence, he thought twice about the alone-time bath he promised himself.
Calmly and unceremoniously, Sylas grabbed his things out of the basket aside the man's. As Sylas came close, the handsome stranger looked over at him, completely unashamed while he continued removing his own robes, and whispered a soft slur of opening, "What, I'm g'na take my bath alone now? Too bad, mate."
Ignoring the man's incentive, Sylas mocked back only in thought. People like you don't need attention. Enjoy your bath alone.
Garrick returned promptly but was confused to see Sylas leaving, rather than going in. A second glance at the shady intruder,.
While they made their final sweep of the room collecting their things, the man said, "Hey, 's a nice night, huh? How long you guys stayin', anyways?"
"Only a night or two." Garrick responded, even though the question was aimed at Sylas. "And yeah, the weather's been real nice lately. We've been lucky."
And with that, the two made their way out the room.
"Ouch, dude. He was just trying to make conversation." Garrick grimaced at the attitude Sylas displayed, thanking himself inwardly that he was Sylas' friend rather than enemy.
"Don't go there. I know his type."
"Hmph, that's how you are, huh. Barriers and defenses up. What, do you think they're going to attack you, or somethin'?"
It took a day for the Diviner of Karma to be alone and comfortable when at last he dipped his tired body in that warm well of nature. A rare smile made its way across his face, while he took both hands to his forehead and smoothed back his dark hair.
All was courteously peaceful and well until an unfortunately familiar face came forward from the entrance door. It spoke, "Lucky me, look who it is. Where's that mate that was with ya?"
And his entrance is my cue to leave. Without hesitation, Sylas gathered his towel, stood to make his exit, and said, "That's none of your business."
The stranger parked himself aside where Sylas once sat in the tub. "What, leavin'? Thought you 'jes got in though. How long you been in 'ere, three minutes?"
It has been three minutes. …In fact, three minutes exactly. A disgusting realization hit. He's been watching. "Leave me alone. Don't touch me, don't come near me."
Adamantly, the man shot him a flirtatious smirk, enjoying the reactions he earned, "Tch, 'scuse me."
Water dripping down his skin, Sylas covered his half-baked body with his towel and stormed off - leaving a little magic behind to do the rest.
The hot spring in which the intruder sat suddenly became cold. Frigid cold, but the man was unable to stand. His feet and lower regions were trapped in an icy blockade, frozen to the rocks on which he sat.
As Sylas left the scene, a dumbstruck Garrick arrived. He hardly blinked while he watched, astounded at the frost that glistened around the pool. Not only had this man made Sylas furious enough to use magic, but how Sylas was able to cast such a spell was beyond his comprehension.
It made him think about his own powers. Wish I could use magic like that. Mind reading's really the only thing I'm good at… I wonder if Keiran would teach me when I get back?
Halting his train of thought in its tracks, Garrick noticed Sylas speeding past him, repeating underneath his breath, "I hate humans, I hate humans…"
Garrick quickly collected Sylas' forgotten things from the dressing room, then sprinted to catch up with him as they made their way to their safe room. Utterly impressed, he grinned wittily, "Instant karma?"
Sylas hardly smiled. "The water will be safe in about fifteen minutes. We can come back later."
Garrick had much trouble deciding whether or not to laugh or to cower in fear.
Knock knock knock. "Someone's at the door." Torrin had just finished his nap and briskly got from his comfortable cocoon to greet the visitor, while Sylas read quietly in the corner and Garrick prepared himself a cup of coffee from their kitchen area.
No sooner had Torrin stood to answer the door that Garrick exited the kitchen, then jumped upon seeing Torrin's "nightwear" which consisted simply of modest shorts, rather than the head-to-toe, cotton outfit complete with slippers as the decent man might have imagined him in.
In a sudden panic, Garrick nearly spilled his coffee as he ducked towards the bed and whispered a frantic warning, "Oh shit, no, no, no, don't answer it, shh!"
Regardless, the door had opened, revealing a girl dressed in a fancy robe and a wholesome amount of dazzling cosmetics. Her expression changed from inviting to sheer surprise when her eyes scanned the scene.
But yes, Torrin's sharp wit knew just how to handle the situation. He turned to Garrick and asked in a disappointed tone, "Oh, Garrick. Company? Does that mean I gotta go now?"
The woman, taken aback, sputtered, "Oh, he's - Oh, Garrick, I was going to- Forget it. Have fun, boys. I won't get in your way."
And with that, she left down the hall. Smiling, Torrin closed the door behind his back, turned to Garrick with hands still on the knob, and locked it tight.
Sylas was first to inquire, "What was that all about?"
"Hnnng, she's been following me around since we first friggin' got here. Sucks. So annoying, but thank god Torrin happened. I don't know what you just did or how you did it, but thank you, Torrin."
Sylas shook his head, "First I've heard of her. So that's why you've been so clingy to us this whole vacation. It looks like Keiran's trying to lure you into staying using a woman."
"Well, it won't work! I don't even like girls!"
A questionable pause. "Watch what you're admitting to there."
As would a devoted parent, Garrick made sure Torrin was comfortably sleeping before he made his way back to the springs. Two days had passed by, but this night would become the first night he spent solely with Sylas. Reason being, he wanted to give the man a little space, but decided that tonight would be a better night as any for a long-awaited discussion.
The hallways were peacefully, yet unbearably silent. He passed many a room in which lights had gone out, and only the soft flicker of candlelight and moonlight shone him the way. And though hard he tried, his feet still caused a creak underneath the wooden floorboards. But despite the hour, Garrick knew he would find Sylas in the baths.
When Garrick first pulled the entrance curtain aside, he had to stop a moment to hitch his breath. Sure enough, Sylas was soaking, but something in his posture exposed weakness. He rested his head in the nest of his folded arms, leaning against the rocky edges of the bath, and Garrick immediately sympathized.
Though he only scratched the surface, he understood that Sylas greatly feared being separated from Keiran. He feared returning to earth. He was happy and ultimately feared the change that Keiran forced upon him. He wanted to go home.
Fearfully, Garrick decided against trying to console him. He sat down outside the pool a short distance from Sylas, who jumped and backed away unexpectedly, but relaxed a little once Garrick had greeted him.
"Yo." Garrick started, wishing to brush off the uneasiness.
In return, the charcoal-haired man straightened himself up and exited the pool, drying himself off all the while. Garrick followed him quietly, and they both made their way out together to the garden area of the establishment.
For what seemed like an insufferable few minutes, both men sat speechless on the deck of the overseeing gardens. Until Sylas at last began, "A long time ago, it was only me and Keiran up there. But back then, he made some unfair decisions that ended up hurting a lot of people."
"Once there was a woman who – well, up until a time - spoke nothing but lies and hurtful things to others. Keiran had given humans the ability or privilege of free will, giving them a means to make mistakes, learn from them, and change to better themselves and others. But instead, he took it upon himself to dry out this woman's tongue, and within the snap of his fingers, she became mute."
"And that wasn't the first time he'd done something like that. Once, he noticed a girl being mistreated by a man that broke her heart. So he broke his heart, ripping his soul clear out, then tangling it to never be reborn. No second thoughts, no forgiveness, no time for fate to take its natural course."
"I would watch him do these things over and over, but it took a while before it actually started to phase me. I thought him to be cruel, so I confronted him about it, asking him why he wouldn't see me to check into their karma first. But I suppose he never really knew himself. He was unsure, then, and used 'sense of justice' as his excuse."
"Garrick, you don't understand, do you? That storm we fixed together? Keiran put that there for what he thought to be solid judgment, because of what one person did there a long time ago. It was one person's punishment, but the whole town suffers generations later? Is that fair? Hell, Torrin might have died at his hands if it wasn't for you when you first joined."
"He mentioned to me, back then, that he would continue searching for someone who would be better suited for determining one's fates. Someone that is compassionate towards all living beings, free from self-will. And he settled for you."
"He needs us. Otherwise, earth has no chance if it's being bound by his own sense of justice. All his mistakes, and he's been using us to slowly make things right. And even though he has the power to govern the human race, he's chosen to share that power with you, me, and Torrin. All just because he's incapable of making the empathetic choice. And if you ever leave him, I'll never forgive you." Such a final statement should have been terrifying, considering it came from karma himself.
Garrick sat quietly and listened. But as soon as his body started to shake and a familiar sensation began stinging at his eyes, only then did he feel he had the right to speak, "I don't care. I don't care. I can't see my own fate. I can't see Keiran's. I've got nothing better to do than follow his stupid orders anyway, and there's this part of me that can't get away from him, I… I'm stuck. Just like you are, right?"
But before he had a chance to break down completely, Garrick stood up furiously, wiping at his eyes, throwing his head up, and taking deep, hissing breaths.
"Garrick." Sylas looked up at him intently.
"Ugghh, I'm fine, I'm fine. Let's just go back t' bed, go back to Runwaynd, and get everything sorted out. I'm sick of all this. I just wanna go home."
"Well, back to work." The Diviner of Fate groggily rose from his bed, filling his lungs with the familiar scent of his beloved Runawynd.
While he hastily threw on a sloppy outfit, just barely forgetting to button his dress shirt, he at last noticed the oddity in the air.
Where is everyone?
The man searched for a face, a noise, any sign of life. Going down the hall, he checked Sylas' room. Everything in it was in its place, but no Sylas. Walking a little faster, he checked Torrin's room. No Torrin. Sprinting, he made a dash for Keiran's office. No one's around?
In a fit of panic, he fumbled with the doorknob before slamming it open. Brown eyes met solemnly with his. "Keiran."
The high god reclined on his most favored window seat, turned to Garrick, paused, then said, "They're already gone." Fatigued, he pulled himself up to his feet and looked his subordinate in the eyes, "It's your turn, Garrick."
"What is it you want, Keiran?" Garrick questioned, creating a whole new tension. "You want us gone?!"
But it was as if his words went unheard. Keiran came in closer, close enough to reach out and touch him, as his eyes sized up every part of Garrick, finally landing his fixation back onto his eyes.
Breathing hard, Garrick dared not move his gaze away, nor did he bother to run away. He even stood completely still as Keiran moved closer into him to stroke his face with both hands. His fingers stroked carefully, gently, yet achingly, and for a hypocritical moment of betrayal, disgust, and bliss, Garrick grazed his nose against the palms. He could have melted in the heat, but his head and heart were rushing, "You want my body? Then take it." Garrick whispered coarsely, voice struggling to keep volume, "I'll gladly give it to you if you stop this. Bring them back."
Intently, Keiran responded in all insinuation, "That's only a small part of it. I can never have what I really want. It's unattainable." As his gaze lowered, Garrick dared not close his eyes, which widened the moment Keiran took a hand over his chest, settling comfortably against his heart.
The Diviner of Fate was unsure how to respond. Do I let him, or… He lifted his head."Don't do this."
Keiran had waited long enough.
Garrick's lips were overtaken. An overwhelming heat suffocated his chest, and his world spun with a new-found exhilaration the moment Keiran made the connection.
But before Garrick had the mind to break it off, Keiran gave his shoulders one last squeeze, one last tug on his blond locks, then pushed him away.
Such a state seemed the best opportunity to send Garrick down the rift. Keiran readied his hands for a teleportation spell, but no sooner had Garrick realized it, "Keiran, don't-!", he was too late.
"But I must, my beloved Garrick. For that is your God-given fate."
Swirling blue and white immobilizing lights enveloped Garrick, driving him back away from Keiran, to whom he yelled, frantically, "I make my own fate! I'll make my own decisions, I'll think for myself, and when I get back, I swear I'll kill you!"
The lights around him sent him through the floor, out of Runawynd, out of his home, out of the reach of immortality, where he crashed to earth – as might a fallen angel.