firefly glowStarted by Nero Essair at Jun 22, 2019 11:07 am
Einmanudur 22, 76
These days, Icarus had two guards, and not one; Nero had nothing else to be doing, except... you know, being glad Thetis was awake, finally. She'd apparently been down the entire month, and Nero was pleasantly surprised he was wrong. In any case, he just, existed, mostly. Sometimes he pestered Cyprian, occasionally peeked in on Icarus to make sure he was doing okay and once in a while, yoinked a thing on the list of stuff to do or three and disappeared for a while. It seemed Dalmasca still thought he was dead, but it worked in his favour, and he saw no reason to rectify this situation. He didn't.
One of the slaves here, a former blood fighter from House Warwicke, had apparently become, at some point, Icarus' guard. Nero decided he was the other one. What? He had nothing else to do, remember, and besides, Kassandros had two. No one else wanted anything from him, at least not consistently enough to warrant making sure not to become too engrossed in something else. And if they weren't going to be interrupted by something-or-other every time they tried having a conversation, well, Nero was going to take advantage of it. He always did like talking to Icarus. It just wasn't every day they had the occasion to sit and talk. Sometimes, of course; there were little snatches of down-time, even at the Macenian border, and yes, Nero had been weirdly bold enough to flop over near Icarus and talk until probably well past midnight. Often, he'd regretted that decision, because then he had to wake up at the ass-crack of for the love of the gods just strike me dead, on very little sleep, but he never complained. Actually, somehow he managed to do this without seeming very tired. (He usually was.)
But it kept the others away. That was the point. (Did, also, start a few rumours... oops. But hey, now he was dead. He supposed Icarus was now free to go find another, proverbially speaking.) It wasn't like Nero had much right to like him. Icarus could certainly do better than him. Maybe not in Dalmasca, but somewhere.
So far, though, the trip out here had been quiet and uneventful. The other guard was covered in soap suds (he'd gotten roped into helping with laundry), so it was just Nero, and maybe he was being overly careful (he probably was - he usually was, with Icarus or his brothers), but he was paying a lot of attention to everything. It was just him; it wasn't like Icarus was a sitting duck, but he also didn't have quite the physical force Nero did. And besides, it wasn't Nero keeping House Essair moving. It wasn't Nero they'd be after. His ass was supposed to be dead.
There were some bonuses to being a dead guy. Other people didn't expect him.
"Where else were we going?" He'd said earlier, but Nero was too busy enjoying the sound of his voice to absorb it. Yep, he'd forgotten already. Mostly, he was just curious. Fortunately, the weather hadn't quite turned, just yet, so it wasn't hot, at least.
Icarus had initially been exasperated by the insistence on being attached to him. Two guards, did he really need two guards? He wasn't exactly incapable of defending himself. But on the other hand, neither was Kassi and they all saw where that had left them so maybe it was for the best anyway. He hadn't argued very hard, just occasionally gave a half-hearted you-really-don't-have-to-do-this.
It wasn't like there was much point in arguing with Nero - he'd always been stubborn. And, of course, it didn't help that he did enjoy spending time with Nero. And, of course, again, what had happened to Kassandros underscored the reasons that a guard was necessary even if it felt like it really wasn't. Or at least, that it shouldn't be. Sure, Cassimer was already under arrest for what he'd done, but Marcus was far from their only enemy, unfortunately. And the reality was that Icarus probably did need a guard to ensure his safety much of the time.
He'd just keep hoping that nothing came of it though, because the last thing he really wanted was for someone else to get hurt on his behalf. Especially Nero, given Nero had already nearly been lost once, and frankly his brothers would definitely prefer not to risk losing him again.
"Just to check on a couple things at the market." It wasn't Icarus' favorite place by any means, but it was kind of important. Double checking pricing on a few supplies that they were going to need for their trip. Everything was pretty much already set up with their vassal houses, so it was just a matter of making sure that they were ready to leave. It was... ah. Easier said than done in some ways, but Icarus didn't really mind.
And even if he grumbled about it, he'd definitely feel safer in the market with Nero beside him. "How're you holding up?" Nero had been still injured not that long ago, so making sure he wasn't extremely sore or something seemed like a good idea. "We can take a break if you need to."
Icarus didn't really expect Nero to admit it even if he did need a break, but it was always worth a shot, right?
That sounded like it should be uneventful enough. Should be, of course, but should be and were often were two different things, because the universe never quite liked doing what one expected it to. However, the increase in potential witness did have a neat side-effect of minimising the chances of an assassination attempt. On the other hand, those bold enough to try anyway may yet find their movements lost in the press of people and typical chaos of market. This was going to be a hard one. Was he safer there, or not? It was hard to say.
Of course, he did keep those observations to himself. Mostly, Icarus grumbled about there not being much point to Thana, let alone Nero, following him around, but Nero considered that to be a sign the both of them were doing well at their self-assigned jobs. If he thought they were necessary, then there was too much threat they weren't doing enough to mitigate. So, of course, Icarus' grumbling about it generally just ended in one or the other, or both of them, smiling and shrugging, and carrying on.
At that, Nero looked slightly surprised, and then shrugged one shoulder. "Could be better," he answered. His knee was starting to scream a little, but it was also being a little puss. "Could be much worse, though. I don't think it's enough to warrant a break. Besides, you're never terribly thrilled to be out here. Starting to wonder if you just hate being stuck with me." The amused lilt in his tone hopefully made it clear he was joking.
Sort of, at least. If Icarus was getting tired of getting stuck with him, maybe that was a something they ought to address. On the other hand, maybe that was unavoidable. It wasn't like Nero intended to stop following him around anytime soon. Two heads were better than one, see? Or at least, that was how that saying went.
Hm. Icarus considered that answer for a moment. It was a pretty heavily neutral answer, and Icarus was going to have to trust that Nero was being truthful for it. There really wasn't any reason to assume he wasn't being truthful. Especially given that was a pretty detailed answer and he did admit to it being somewhat painful. He'd trust Nero for now, but keep an eye on it. It wasn't like Icarus liked spending time in the market anyway.
Icarus arched an eyebrow slightly. Well, he could see where that came from, sort of, but that wasn't exactly... he shook his head. "No, it's the being out here, not the you." Icarus answered without preamble. "Presses of people and being polite to people I know would stab me in the back given half a chance and on and on." Something like that.
He actually really enjoyed spending time with Nero he just... wished that it wasn't because Nero felt the need to protect him still. Because it kind of made him wonder if Nero actually liked spending time with him or if he just carried forward with the protecting him and never quite moved away from that. Which, ah, given the fact that Icarus had come to really enjoy his presence would be unpleasant to learn.
Icarus recognized he was probably worrying about nothing, because no one was nice enough to spend this much time with someone they really didn't like. Still, the concern was there somewhere under the surface and he couldn't do muchmore than ignore it for the moment.
"Also the concern for not putting you in more pain than I have to was legitimate." It was. There was no need to push those burns further than necessary. "Because if they were bothering you too much then I was planning on doing the market later or early tomorrow instead." Since they were out, and the burns weren't bothering him too much, they'd get it taken care of in one shot and Icarus would just be glad they didn't have to come back out immediately. ... Probably at least.
"Come on," he said, one eyebrow arching upward, looking amused. "I'm not that nice. I'm also pretty bad at lying." Yes, so he was. He did still have something of a filter, but otherwise, he didn't make a habit of hiding too much. If he really couldn't handle it, it'd probably be more obvious than this. Besides, the quicker they got all this stuff done, the quicker they could go back to the Essair manor, and Nero could sit on his ass for a bit. Fortunately, nobody seemed to mind him doing that, though he did occasionally sit in the library with the twins and help them sort through books.
Here and there, he and the twins also dropped in on Cyprian. Nero was considering adding onto the small building he'd sort of taken over, adding some extra things, like a small pantry with snacking items in it, maybe. Cyprian was very bad at remembering to take care of himself, and at least if he had something closer at hand, he might remember food more often.
He smiled a bit, there, though. "The quicker this is over with, the quicker it's done, right? Then you don't have to worry about it anymore." That'd be a marked bonus, even if only because it meant that was one less thing for them to have to deal with. Things were kind of rough, as it was, and the added bonus of having to manage the day-to-day household affairs without Kassandros present and conscious to sort of guide through it, Nero could imagine that was kind of difficult and a bit nerve-wracking. Never mind Kassandros wasn't present and conscious, that was its own issue, but the justicars were having a field-day over there at House Cassimer last Nero heard. It was good to know Marcus wouldn't be doing that again.
They could use a few less psychopaths around.
Well maybe that was true, Icarus wouldn't argue. ... He still worried a bit because he didn't want Nero to come out of this any worse for wear than he had to. And, it didn't help that Icarus really didn't like dealing with these things. But they needed to be done and he was going to do them so that was... practically a moot point.
"Fine, fine. I was just worried. Clearly unnecessarily." So that was something. Icarus would just remind himself not to worry about it for the moment and trust Nero to know his own limits because that was really about all he could do in this particular situation.
"That's true though." The sooner it was done the better, honestly. After it was done it would be one more thing he could cross off the list and one less thing to worry about for the moment and that was... yeah that was for the best, Nero was right about that. He could use to knock a few more things down off the list it was just... hn. People. The market was always such an... interesting affair. On the other hand it really was a good place to learn some rather important details from time to time.
"I'll just be glad once this is all over and we're on our way to Saqqara." That was quieter, but he was sure that Nero would hear him say it before he continued down this path here towards the part of the market that he needed to check on.
Honestly, Nero was sure Icarus wasn't the only one in the House that carried the same sentiment. Most of them seemed to think the same. Even if the Lucains that were present were struggling with mixed feelings about it, none of them were outright against it, and for good reason. Saqqara didn't abandon its citizens. Saqqara didn't murder its soldiers' families. Saqqara didn't torture its political opposition. Saqqara didn't punish people for daring to be born there. Nero wasn't fond of being in Dalmasca to begin with. He was feeling a lot less fond of it, these days.
He wasn't really Dalmascan, anyway. He supposed it made sense he wouldn't like it. Now all his family were in chains and he had Dalmasca to thank for it, or at least the ones running this gods forsaken nation. Funny, wasn't it, how he ended up finding a Dalmascan he liked enough to be following him around at market. This country had done enough trying to kill his brother, though. They didn't need to decide they were after Icarus and Cygnus, too, but Nero was sure they already had.
Marcus might be down, but he still did have friends. Salonus, of course, would be feeling pretty threatened right about now.
"Somehow I figured you'd be less interested in the sudden change," Nero mentioned. Icarus did seem like the type that would be resistant to change. Somehow, he reminded Nero of a cat, and no cat liked sudden change. Things were always changing, though. Just about as quickly as they were staying the same, and that was just how life went. Nero, mind, he never really bothered feeling too strongly about change. Sometimes, change was good. Sometimes it wasn't. Even other times, change was the only solution to a problem, but it wasn't an easy route. One of the reasons, actually, Nero had never mentioned anything about his stupid feelings. Didn't need to go changing things too quickly on him and freaking him out.
Or maybe it was just a really good-sounding excuse that he used to justify it in his head. The world may never know. "But honestly," he went on, "I can't, either. Always did want to see the Free Cities, anyway." And getting his parents to them, that was an added bonus.
"I mean I'm not really fond of the whole sudden change thing." Icarus admitted dryly. "But the benefits of the move greatly outweigh the discomfort with the idea." The whole... things would maybe get better and his brothers would be safer and maybe he could take a walk outside without wondering if he was going to be stabbed or something along those lines.
Besides, things were going to change here no matter what, after what happened to Kassandros. MIght as well choose what kind of drastic change he was going to deal with, right? And this was something that Kassi had wanted to do after all. There were... plenty of things, really, that helped overcome the fact that he didn't really like changes. And sometimes... letting things change was better than demanding they stay the same.
Especially since staying the same had cost them so much already. No, something definitely had to change, before they lost anything else. Before it cost them something that they couldn't tolerate losing. It already almost had.
"Well, this'll be nice for you then." If Nero had wanted to go anyway, that was sort of cool. But, ah, he wasn't surprised, in a way, that this was something Nero looked forward to. The change would do them all some good, he thought, in the end.
They just had to make it there. They were so close, they just had to hold on a little longer. Icarus hoped they could manage to get to Saqqara without anything else going wrong. Without losing anyone else, preferably. Icarus wasn't going to hold his breath, but he was going to damn well try to get the rest of them out alive. Kassi had trusted him with this much, after all.
It would be good to do something right so that maybe the blond could see that he didn't have to do everything himself.
That much was true. It was a strangely sudden change, and from what Nero heard of them, the Free Cities on the whole, not just Saqqara, were culturally and literally a world away. It might be difficult to get used to, but the strangeness of the entire ordeal would ultimately be worth it. Anything, almost, would be better than Dalmasca. (Almost, as Nero wasn't too fond of Jihon, and wasn't too certain the Essairs would be, either.)
"Hopefully it'll be nice for us all," Nero replied, sounding a touch amused. He didn't think it'd be bad. There wasn't much that could be worse than this, or maybe Nero had become too jaded over the years to think otherwise. In fairness, Dalmasca was salvageable. Someone, surely, if they wanted to, could right the wrongs and fix what was broken and set Dalmasca on the right path.
But it wasn't going to be him, and it wasn't going to be Kassandros, either, and perhaps the more unfortunate part of that thought was that Kassandros could have done a lot of good for Dalmasca, if Dalmasca had not punished and near destroyed him for being someone that could.
Change was difficult, of course. Dalmasca didn't like it any more than anyone else.
Somewhere amid their walking, though, Nero stilled. What was th - no he knew what that was, without thinking too hard about it, he turned and shoved Icarus to one side. A dagger slammed into his shoulder. That was what he heard. He grit his teeth, following the trajectory, and then ripped the dagger back out, and threw it; a loud squeak and what sounded like liquid gurgling was heard, and then a crash.
He stayed still, listening, one hand on his sword's hilt (the hand that wasn't attached to the damaged shoulder). It sounded like that was it... he grimaced slightly. "That went a lot better in my head," he said. Of course, reality often went differently.