Was hoping to get a Tauryon/Sabrael photoset out, but they are less cooperative in game than in my head. Have this next installment at an accelerated rate, instead!
Tauryon held his spell as long as it took to knock Rei Ginsei out. Once the daedric incarnation of his boyhood companion crumpled to the ground, he lowered his hands, closed his eyes, and exhaled. He was getting too old and too rusty to cast spells like that.
“Rei?” Sabrael called, scrabbling out from under the covers and slipping off the bed to run over. “Rei? Tauryon, did you…? Is he…?”
“It’s alright, my dear,” he answered, holding out an arm. “He’s unconscious, that’s all.”
Sabrael walked over and put his arms around Tauryon’s waist. He could feel the poor thing’s heart racing against him. “What did you do?”
“It’s an alteration spell that concentrates the air in front of the caster and pushes it forward. It’s a mostly non-lethal means of defense or subjugation.”
“What do we do with him?”
Tauryon wasn’t entirely sure. The smart thing would be to find some of his colleagues with more expertise in daedric matters and turn him over to them. Turning him in to the city guard was asking for trouble.
“What exactly were you scared of?” he asked.
“Gods, he was angry, Tauryon! But not the usual kind of angry. There was so much going on in his heart, I couldn’t tell one thing from another. What few things I could didn’t make any sense.”
“Well, the anger, but he seemed sad, too. I felt his love, but it wasn’t like it was. It seemed like it hurt.”
Tauryon sighed. “Put something on, alright? I’ll do the same, and after that, we’re going to move him into the guest room and bind him.”
“Bind him?” Sabrael repeated. “Oh, no. No, no, no.”
“Why not? We can’t have him loose when he wakes up.”
“It just seems like a very bad idea. He’s so very strong, and when something’s in his way he loses his mind! Nothing would hold him, and then he’d-“
“Sabrael,” Tauryon said, kneeling down on the rug so that he could better look him in the eye, “I will keep you safe, no matter what happens, hm?”
The daedra nodded quickly.
“Besides, I haven’t met the person yet who could break my bonds.”
Sabrael returned his smile reluctantly, and Tauryon leaned forward, pressing his lips to his mouth.
“Let’s go, he won’t be out forever.”
It wasn’t easy transporting Rei Ginsei’s dead, lanky weight, even for the short distance between bedrooms. Tauryon took the torso, hauling his old companion under the arms and backwards, and Sabrael, being so relatively short, wound up with Rei’s crotch at his chest and his legs on either shoulder as he supported the lower half by his buttocks. They hoisted him up onto the bed and spread his limbs so that Tauryon could conjure glowing purple ligatures that lashed wrist and ankle to each bedpost.
When they were done Tauryon watched as Sabrael stood at the bedside and put his hand on Rei’s chest.
“Come now,” he said after a moment, putting a hand on the little daedra’s shoulder. “I don’t know about you, but some tea sounds quite good at the moment.”
“You’re not gonna let anything happen to him, are you?”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, if you tell people he’s dangerous, they’ll want to banish him.”
“Well, he is dangerous, Sabrael.”
“He told you he still does the things he used to,” he said, “and you didn’t throw him out or call the guards.”
Tauryon sighed. “It’s different when you’re personally on his enemies list. I know that makes me a hypocrite, but I never thought…”
Sabrael looked back at Rei’s limp form, his lower lip quivering.
“We’ll wait and see, alright?”
Sabrael nodded and again wrapped his arms tightly around Tauryon’s waist.
Tauryon held him close and stroked his long, soft hair for only a few moments before guiding him downstairs and back to the dining room where he pulled the gilded rope that would ring the bell in Tirwyn’s room.
“What did that do?” Sabrael asked.
“It summons Tirwyn,” he answered as a yawn worked it’s way out.
“Oh. You don’t really need to wake her up, do you?”
“Gods, nobody wants me near the kitchen.”
Sabrael looked a bit uneasy. “I guess she sleeps pretty deeply.”
“Referring to what just went on? Oh, yes. She sleeps like the enviable dead and her room is in the basement, besides.”
“It’s furnished and warm, never worry,” Tauryon assured him, smiling curiously. “It’s unfortunate someone as soft-hearted as you would fall so deeply for that creature upstairs.”
“I don’t think it is. There’s good in him; I know there is. I just think Vile has too great an influence.”
“You think perhaps he would have grown out of his behavior?”
“I don’t know. But Vile doesn’t help. You should see them together. Vile dotes on him and keeps him close, and Rei seems obsessed with him. If Vile told him to drink poison I’m almost sure he would.”
“Well, if Vile dotes on him,” Tauryon said, “that’s something Celedaen never got from his authority figures. Not in response to anything he did, anyway. I have no real doubt that if he were stroked in just the right way from someone he looked up to – Daedric Prince or not – he’d be drawn in without much effort.”
“He said so the night before. He said he had all these reasons for why he loved his master and couldn’t give one for why he loved me.”
Tauryon sighed quietly and held out his hand, palm-up, on the table, and Sabrael clasped his fingers.
“Yes, Master Tauryon?” Tirwyn mumbled behind him.
He turned to see his servant rubbing her eyes with her fingers, dressed in her nightcap, plain gown, and robe. Perhaps Sabrael was right. He’d never really thought about it, but, he thought, why would he have? Still, she was up, now.
“Would you put the kettle on, dear?”
“Right away, sir,” she yawned. “The jasmine?”
“No, the white tea should do.”
She nodded and shuffled into the kitchen.
“You were right, Sabrael,” he said. “I shouldn’t have awakened her over this.”
The daedra smiled, but it didn’t reach his lovely blue eyes. Suddenly the smile drooped. “Oh, no,” he said.
“What if Vile told him to kill me?”
“Do you think he would?”
“Rei said he hates me. Vile does. He said I need to be careful around him.”
Tauryon furrowed his brow. “This seems awfully brazen considering what we know about him.”
“But you didn’t see Rei before he met up with him. He said he wanted to change for me, and he meant it, I know he did!”
Tauryon felt his heart break as tears fell down Sabrael’s cheeks. He supposed he couldn’t know, after all, but it just seemed like a lot of naivete. On the other hand, if Celedaen ever opted for seduction, it was never for more than a couple of days before he’d quit the person after getting whatever it was he wanted.
“I know he’s got good in him. He’s got problems, like you said, but I can’t claim to love him if I don’t at least try to save him, even if he is scary.”
Tauryon shook his head and sighed, shifting so that Tirwyn could place his teacup on the table. The conversation paused while she prepared their cups, and before she walked off, Tauryon put a hand on her arm. “I want to thank you, Tirwyn, for doing this. I know it’s at an unreasonable hour and I do apologize for waking you for something so banal.”
The little Bosmer smiled and cocked her head curiously. “It’s fine, Master Tauryon.”
“You’re very gracious, but there’ll be some extra on your next pay day.”
“Oh, sir, that’s not-“
“Don’t argue, just go back to bed. I’ll make my own breakfast if you need to make up for this lost sleep.”
Tirwyn backed away, dipping slightly. “Thank you, sir. Very much.”
“Did you do that because of what I said?” Sabrael asked once she’d disappeared downstairs.
“Well, as I said before, we of money tend to dismiss the help. I like to think I’m better than my parents were; my servants all get paid well and I try to be a compassionate employer, but often it’s easy to take things for granted. I could boil water, for all my dislike of kitchens.”
Sabrael smiled, and Tauryon felt a little surge of joy. He didn’t have much experience with daedra, and if somebody had told him that he would be falling in love with one, he’d have called them crazy. But here he was.
“I have a friend,” he said before taking a sip of his tea, “who’s well-regarded as an expert in daedric studies. She happens to be here, as luck would have it, doing research into the Orsimer communities in Skyrim. She’s very keen on being the first and best in everything, and she’s out to write the definitive thesis on Malacath and his alleged, erm, transformation from Trinimac. A bunch of bollocks, if you ask me.”
“Do you think she could help?” Sabrael asked.
“She’s the sort to ask questions, first, compared to my Thalmor compatriots and old military chums. Rei would be of significant interest to her on a purely academic level, but I’d imagine if there was a way to save him, she would know, or could at least come up with something.”
“Is she nearby?”
“Thankfully so, or I’d likely not have thought of her so quickly, nor would she do us much good. She’s staying at the embassy a few days recovering from her last encounter with the Orcs. As soon as it’s light, I’ll send a messenger.”
“Thank you, Tauryon,” he said.
“I want you safe, first and foremost, but if I can see you happy, as well, I’ll do my very best.”
They drank their tea in a silence that wasn’t entirely easy. Tauryon found himself tapping his fingers on the table, looking at no particular point in front of him. There was the unholy amalgamation of a broken mer and a Daedric Prince in his third floor bedroom, tied to his bed, and what Sabrael had expressed concern about earlier wasn’t just hysteria. He had no idea what he would do when Rei Ginsei regained consciousness, and he wondered if Sabrael weren’t here if he’d have just taken the opportunity to cut the thing’s head off.
“You said he was strong,” he said eventually. “How strong do you mean?”
“He snapped someone’s neck by stepping on it,” Sabrael said in a small voice. “And that man he beat up on…his face didn’t look like a face.”
“Why did he attack that man?”
“He called us a name. Because we’re both men and Rei wasn’t being shy about loving on me. It kind of escalated, but it didn’t really get bad until the man called me a name. Rei was egging him on, but to be fair he didn’t throw a punch until he got hit first.”
“He just didn’t know when to stop,” Tauryon said.
“That was the first time he tasted blood lust after getting his feeling back. Once he started, he didn’t want to stop.”
A muffled thud from the third floor made them both jump, and Tauryon looked up with trepidation.
“Tauryon!” cried an equally muffled voice. “Tauryon, get me out of here, or I swear…”
“Stay here,” Tauryon told Sabrael.
“No! I wanna go with you. I’m tired of being a scaredy cat. I wanna talk to him.”
Tauryon sighed heavily. “I’d rather you stay here, just in case.”
Sabrael shook his head. “I’m going with you. Besides, what if something happens to you?”
“Then you r-“
“I can handle myself. I can.”
“Alright,” Tauryon said reluctantly. “Stay close.”
The sounds of struggle continued as he climbed the stairs, Sabrael in tow. The bed frame was large and it was made of teak, and still the creature tied to it was managing to scoot it along the floor and lift individual legs up so that they slammed back down. When he opened the door, Tauryon stopped as he was fixed with those bizarre and broken eyes.
“Light the candles,” he heard Sabrael whisper. “He’ll have a harder time focusing on us. You know. In case something happens.”
Tauryon looked back at Rei and nodded slowly and as imperceptibly as he could.
“Let me go, Tauryon,” Rei said in a measured, calmer voice.
“I don’t think I will,” he answered, heeding Sabrael’s advice and lighting each candle with the one he was already carrying. “Not until I know you’re not a threat.”
“I’m not a threat! I’m not a threat. I’m calm, see?”
“Your acting ability goes right down the drainpipe when you’re not holding all the cards, I see.”
“Fuck you!” he spat. “Acting all high and mighty. You’d’ve choked on my cock the second I whipped it out.”
“Charming. Look, Rei, you’re not going anywhere for the immediate future, so you may as well settle in.”
“You think I can’t have my master here in an instant?” he asked. “Clavicus Vile is the god of power! Both of us together would obliterate you and your fancy townhome and half the street with it!”
“So why isn’t he here?” Tauryon asked.
“Because I told him I would do this myself!” Rei shouted. Tauryon was a bit startled to see tears fall from his eyes. “How can I call myself his right hand if I can’t even do this alone?”
“Rei?” Sabrael piped up with a small voice. Tauryon watched as he approached the bed, a terrified little creature soldiering through his fear.
“What do you want?” Rei spat. “You’re the reason everything’s gone sideways.”
“What’s gone sideways?”
“My life. Everything had been fine before you.”
“But you’ve got your soul back!” Sabrael said enthusiastically. “You can feel things and taste things and you can enjoy making love again.”
Rei rolled his eyes. “Making love,” he repeated.
“Well, that’s what you did with me, isn’t it? It’s what you do with Clavicus.”
Tauryon saw the knot in Rei’s long throat bob as he swallowed and looked away.
“And you’re trying to hide it – you’ve been trying to hide it – but I still feel your love for me. I don’t know why, but it’s hurting you, seems like.”
“Love hurts,” Rei answered simply. “I never knew what it was. In books it’s always some magical thing, but now I know that all it does is hurt and cause problems.”
Sabrael bit his lips and looked down a moment before gingerly reaching out to stroke Rei’s impossibly white hair. Rei jerked away, and Sabrael pulled his hand away just as quickly.
“I’m sorry,” Sabrael said. “Rei?”
“Hm?” he answered without looking over.
“Did Clavicus tell you to kill me?”
Rei only took a shuddering breath and sighed in response.
“I think that’s a question that deserves an answer, Rei,” Tauryon interjected.
“I slaughter people who make casual slips of the tongue towards me and my master. Don’t think that our past precludes me from killing you for trying to dictate what I’m supposed to be doing.”
“All I said was that this man – who loves you, by the way – asked a legitimate question considering everything that’s happened tonight. If you do have even a shred of love for him in return, you owe him an explanation.”
Rei’s face seemed to soften only the slightest bit and he looked over at Sabrael. He couldn’t maintain eye contact for more than a moment, though. He opened his mouth to say something, but then closed it, shutting his eyes tightly.
“Yes,” he said finally. “But we were both in on it.”
“What do you mean?”
“That first night we spent with him, when we disappeared and you were looking for us, he told me he wanted me to rip you limb from limb. He said he wouldn’t order me to…And I know he thinks I don’t know him as well as I do, but for all his detachment I know he still hung onto it. I want him to be happy, though. He’s the only one who’s never once criticized me or brushed aside my efforts. But you, you were never happy with me.”
“You know that’s not true,” Sabrael said. “I just don’t think taking joy in killing people is something to be praised.”
“But Clavicus loves me as I am,” Rei said. “After that night, the more I thought on it, the more it seemed like perhaps that thing he said in a fit of jealousy made sense. When we spoke a few hours ago he even told me I was right to feel that way.”
“Because you’re a thief.”
Tauryon furrowed his brow as Sabrael took a step back.
“You stole a part of me. And you’ve got it now, and Clavicus thinks – and I agree – that you tried to justify it by projecting your love onto me. Because who could argue with love, right?”
“Would you listen to yourself?” Sabrael pleaded. His voice cracked. “I admitted to you when we first met that I knew what I did was wrong, and I admitted it without you even asking! You didn’t even think about theft when we first met!”
“How do you know what I was thinking?” Rei snarled. Tauryon knew it was still a very dangerous situation, but he thought he could see real uncertainty brewing.
“Because you were more concerned with my not finding you sooner, remember? You said you needed me.”
Rei shut his eyes tight and took a deep breath.
“Clavicus has you all twisted around, and he doesn’t even see you as a real person!”
“When you get hurt, why does he say you’re damaged? That’s not how you describe a person, Rei. And what about Barbas?”
“What about Barbas?”
“Clavicus was willing to cripple himself over a disagreement, just so he’d never have to see him again. Someone who loves you doesn’t do things like that. It’s insane.”
“He doesn’t love Barbas!”
“Well what do you think would happen if you ever disappointed him or did something he doesn’t like? It’s bound to happen now that you have your feelings back!”
A change came over Rei’s face like he’d been doused with cold water.
“Do you think he’d forgive you?”
Sabrael sniffled. “Why?”
Rei sniffed and looked away again.
“I forgave you,” Sabrael said through his tears. “Remember? You were so afraid that I left you out of anger and disappointment, but I forgave you instead. I forgive you now, whatever happens.”
Tauryon watched as neither said another word, wiping his cheeks with his fingers. Sabrael’s determination was admirable, and while he couldn’t say he was completely on board with this rescue business, he couldn’t deny the softening of Rei Ginsei’s demeanor, to an extent he hadn’t seen the previous evening. They were communicating, that much he could tell, but it was in their own unheard language.
“I can feel you,” Sabrael said eventually, smiling hopefully.
“What do you feel?” Rei asked. His voice was barely audible.
“You’re scared and confused. You trust is shaky, but I don’t blame you.”
“I don’t know what to do.”
“You don’t have to do anything right now,” Sabrael assured him. “Tauryon, can we untie him?”
“I’d rather we not,” he answered. “I’m sure you understand.”
“No, Sabrael,” Rei interrupted. “I don’t trust myself, either. You have to understand that there’s a draw between myself and my master. I love him, and I will always feel that need, and right now, as much as I do very much want to hold you, it’s just not safe. I don’t trust myself to not swing back again.”
“Then can I hold you?”
Rei nodded. His smile was tired, sad, and unsure, but as Sabrael climbed onto the bed and squeezed into the small space between his left two limbs, Tauryon felt that there was perhaps more it all. It occurred to him that, while Celedaen was never the picture of compassion, he didn’t get very bad until after his scare in the sea. He wondered if all “kelpies” were as sweet as Sabrael, or if something was amplifying already admirable traits.
He saw the sun beginning to peek through the curtains. “I’m going to write that message now,” he said. “Will you be alright alone with him?”
“Of course I will,” Sabrael said.
Tauryon shifted his gaze to Rei.
“You have my word, Sabrael is safe.”
“May I ask what message this is, if it concerns me?”
“He’s got a friend who studies daedra,” Sabrael offered cheerily. Tauryon squinted his eyes shut in irritation.
“…And what’s this friend going to do?”
“I’m only summoning her for her insight,” Tauryon said quickly. “No banishment, no killing, I just don’t really know what to do with you, and you, yourself said you don’t trust yourself unbound. Let’s face it; it’s a bit inconvenient for both of us to have you chained here indefinitely.”
“Fair enough,” Rei sighed.
Tauryon nodded and cast one lingering look over at the pale little daedra snuggled up next to the one he loved. The lamb and the wolf.
Hoping that his shudder went unnoticed, he left for the study and his stationery.
Rei felt sick to his stomach, but his mind was calmer than it had been. It was hard accepting that which he knew to be the truth. Indeed, even someone like him knew that a person gets hurt. If something ever happened to one of his horses, even, that horse was hurt. His sword got damaged during a sparring match. Or even the one time his opponent was a bit too cavalier with their hammer and damaged his breastplate which then hurt his chest.
But where his master was concerned, he only ever got damaged.
Did that really matter, though? Vile loved him; wasn’t it possible he just had a linguistic quirk? He thought of all the things Vile did to show his love, and suddenly things began to take on new meaning. He was shown off, spoken about to people as if he wasn’t there, even if it was flattering and even if it was to prey. These were the sorts of things he did with his horses.
He shook his head and took a deep breath. He was reading too much into things. Sabrael was-
“Do you really think Clavicus sees me as an object?” he asked. “I think he sees you as someone who never questions him,” Sabrael answered. “I think he sees you as a prize. Rei, I don’t mind that you love him, I really don’t. I just don’t understand why all of a sudden I have to go away.”
“I wish I could explain to you how tight his grip really is on me. Without my soul I couldn’t appreciate it; all that would happen was that I would get very tired sometimes, but right now I very desperately want to be back on his plane.Thinking about being without him hurts like you wouldn’t believe.”
“Do you think that might be because you have a part of him in you?”
“I guess that would make sense,” Rei admitted. “It would explain why Barbas is so averse to leaving when he doesn’t have to.”
“Yes, there’ve been times he had to leave on behalf of our master, and he hated it. When he came back home he was completely drained.”
“He seemed fine when he was banished.”
“Because he was free of our master’s will…Oh….”
“Shh,” Sabrael hushed, placing a hand on his cheek.
The spear of panic seemed to plunge right through his stomach. “They’re not going to make me leave him, are they?”
“I don’t know. They’re just gonna talk, okay?”
“I’m so sorry, Sabrael,” he moaned. “I really am. It’s true what I said the other night, though. You need to just leave me. I can’t think of a time where a couple of weeks seemed like a couple of years, but my mind is tired, and I know you are, too, and it’s not going to get any better.”
“Don’t say that.”
“You’re not understanding,” Rei said. “You need to leave, or you will die. When Clavicus gives me an order, that order has to be carried out, and if I can’t do it, I’d imagine it’s both of us who’d have to pay, not just me.”
“If it means I have to threaten you and try to break free…if it means I have to force them to put me down to save you, I will. But it won’t be forever, and you’ll have to run.”
“I’m staying with you,” Sabrael said firmly. “I love you, Rei, and you’re not going to get rid of me that easily.”
“I love you, too,” he said. “Gods help me. This is punishment, it has to be. All of it.”
Sabrael’s lips were on his before he could say anything else, and he returned the kiss as hard as he could.
“The worst case scenario,” Sabrael said as he pulled away, “is that we both ‘die’, but we’ll still remember each other, right? And I’ll be reborn right there in my lagoon, if you should ever want to visit.”
“If we come out of this with our skins intact I’ll take you back to your lagoon anyway, sea be damned, and I’ll live right there with you.”
“In the sea?”
“Well. I think I’d have a house built. We land-dwellers get waterlogged pretty easily.”
Sabrael giggled quietly and hugged him tightly. Rei sniffed and managed a smile as he moved his head to tuck his kirin’s head beneath his chin. It wouldn’t be that easy, of course. Nothing ever was. His desire for Vile’s embrace was unbearably strong, and if there was one thing he’d learned, it was that his will was shamefully weak.