And all I know is I wanna be here with you from now on - You know.... when stars align (er... planets, in this case) on the longest night of the year... Hawk and Stri gotta create another au - Characters: L Lawliet - Death Note - merperson - ®Hawkpath® Orpheus - Hadestown - human - strider Kelsier - Mistborn - merperson - ®Hawkpath® Nico di Angelo - Percy Jackson - half-merperson - strider
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Dec 21, 2020 20:21:43 GMT -5
L was swimming closer to land than he should have been. He knew this. He was deeply aware of the dangers humans posed, deeply aware of what would happen if he were caught. He also knew that he didn’t want to go back where he might run into another merperson. Logically, he should have turned around and dove deeper, left the edges of town for the brave and the strong, of which he was neither. He was just about to give into the logical side of his brain when he saw it. L hesitated a moment too long, unsure what he was seeing. And then the net closed around him. Panic closed icy fingers around his heart and throat, constricting his breath as he realized what it was. He thrashed, fighting to get free and only getting himself more tangled. His tail escaped the water and then slapped back down, splashing loudly, and he winced, going as still as he could. He needed to think. He needed to think and figure out how to escape and he needed to do it fast. Where there were nets, after all, there were likely to be humans.
Orpheus needed to think. He often needed to leave the village to do that, to get away from the people who proudly bragged about how big the merperson they’d speared was, to get away from the people laughing at him for his cowardice, to just… think. On his own. To write music, if that’s what ended up happening. The boat was technically Mr. Hermes’ but his guardian had made it clear that it was Orpheus’ whenever he needed it. And he needed it now. He went further than most people were comfortable going, trusting luck to protect him. There was a sort of “edge” to the territory merfolk tended to swim in, and where humans ventured past. It was a fine line, but if Orpheus stayed close enough, it wouldn’t be a problem. Unlike most people, he didn’t bring a spear with which to protect himself. He didn’t feel the need to. He rowed out just a little bit further, about to pull out his guitar when he noticed a disturbance in the water. The flick of something blue, then a large splash, then… silence. And a tangle of nets floating just at the surface. Orpheus didn’t think. He didn’t have a chance to, instead rowing as close as he possibly could before hauling the net onboard. He was grateful his guitar was still in his case as water began seeping onto the deck of the small craft, but he didn’t spare that much of a thought as he took in what he’d hauled over. A person. That was all that occurred to Orpheus as he regarded the man trapped in the net. He noticed the tail, of course, he knew what he was dealing with, but this was a person with a heartbeat and a family, and if Orpheus didn’t do something, someone else was going to come along and kill him instead. With less than a moment’s hesitation, he began trying to help the man free, fighting to untangle the net where it had gotten wrapped around L’s tail and arms.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Dec 21, 2020 22:57:58 GMT -5
L tried to think, to breathe, but he knew how bad this was. He knew how bad it was to be trapped this close to the surface, where anyone could come along and see an easy catch. Humans were cruel things, after all, and they wouldn’t hesitate. He wasn’t particularly big or strong, he wouldn’t look impressive as a corpse, but at the end of the day it wasn’t really that that mattered. Another merfolk death was a win for the humans. Another body was another goal attained. He knew it was the same the other way around, And that was how a war was made. Something was coming. L went very still, listening. There was something in the water. A boat? He thought it was a boat, and he almost panicked again, but he held himself very still, trying to drift with the net in such a way that it wouldn’t call attention to him. Trying to disappear. For a moment, he thought it had worked. Then he felt himself being lifted out of the water, and the panic broke free. He fought back, thrashing with everything he had, twisting and turning and being as difficult to spear as he possibly could, which all things considered wasn’t very difficult at all. He was trapped. He was as good as dead. Why was he still fighting? No. He wouldn’t let himself give up. If he could just get himself over the edge, if he could just get into the water, then he had a chance. He didn’t speak. It didn’t occur to him to try. Orpheus was, in his mind, nothing but a weapon, a threat, and L would do whatever was necessary to survive. He had killed before. He could do it again.
“Hey,” Orpheus murmured softly, trying to hold the net so that when L thrashed, his arm would go through the place he was tangled in. It was just making the whole mess worse. “Hey,” he said again, voice gentle but firm. “Please listen to me.” Did they even speak the same language? He’d never tried to speak to anybody but humans. He’d never seen any of the merfolk this close. He put a gentle hand on L’s shoulder, pinning him lightly to the boat. With enough force, L could still break free pretty easily. “This isn’t my net,” he managed, as though that made any difference. “I’m going to let you go, I’m trying to…” he sighed, shaking his head. “I need you to be still. Please. Otherwise…” he frowned, noting a slight difference in coloration where the net wound too tightly around L’s tail. “You’re going to hurt yourself!” He managed, his voice high and surprised. For the first time he wished he did have a spear. It would make it a lot easier to slice through the net to free L. Still… he was making a little bit of progress, even with the thrashing. He had managed to get one of L’s arms free and was working on the tail now, not caring how close he was. Not caring that it would be very easy for L to throw him overboard. He just… he just wanted to help. Very softly, he began humming as he worked, making an effort not to touch L any more than he had to. He had a feeling that would just freak the man out more, and that was the last thing he wanted to do. Finally, he managed to slip a decent amount of the net over L’s fins, pushing the freed net to the side so he could better untangle the portion that was left.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Dec 22, 2020 12:52:43 GMT -5
The words didn’t make any sense, though not because they didn’t speak the same language. He understood their meaning perfectly. What didn’t make sense was why Orpheus was saying them. What did he think to accomplish by talking to his prey? L had never heard of that happening. Then again, maybe all the ones who had been spoken to were dead. The thought nearly made him fight even harder, even if he knew that it was just getting him even more tangled. Panicking was never a good strategy, but it wasn’t exactly a choice, either. Fighting for your life had a way of doing that to you. Survival instincts kick in, panic tries to keep you alive, and maybe you end up more tangled in the net, but at least you aren’t getting a spear in the heart. He felt Orpheus pin him, and panic gripped him tighter, cutting off reason. People pinned you when they were trying to make you an easier target. When they were trying to slit your throat. Or a hundred other ways they might kill you. He thrashed harder, fighting with everything he had to break free. He wouldn’t die without a fight, at the very least. He could knock Orpheus overboard...the man was likely to drown, which meant L would be able to see about untangling himself, then make it to the water. It seemed as good a plan as any. The human began to hum. L went still listening, confusion making his efforts to free himself trail off. If the words had made no sense, then the humming somehow made even less. What possible function could that serve? He stared at Orpheus, eyes wide and terrified and confused and everything else. He didn’t understand. He didn’t understand what Orpheus was doing or why...wait. Did he even have a spear?
Orpheus watched L carefully, making sure he didn’t touch him more than he had to, making sure he wasn’t making things worse – but there really was no way to make things better, at least not until L calmed down and realized Orpheus was trying to help. Given the history between merfolk and humans, however… Orpheus wasn’t sure that was going to happen. He was surprised, then, when L stopped fighting at the sound of his humming. He kept going, the notes crystal clear despite the lack of attention Orpheus was paying them. He didn’t need to be perfect at singing, he just needed to make sure that L wasn’t moving around and getting even more tangled. Softly, Orpheus released the hand he’d had pinning L down, grateful that he wasn’t struggling anymore, as it allowed Orpheus a clearer view of L’s tail and where the net had wound around it. If it had been left like that too long… he steadied his hands, trying to push the thought from his mind. If anyone else had found this man… he’d be dead already. Orpheus had no doubt about that. But he looked so… well, human wasn’t the right word for it, but he was a person, as much as Orpheus was a person, and he was scared. “This might hurt,” he warned softly, trying to ease the rope off without taking any scales with it. He managed to ease a frayed section free, tensing as he had to gently lift the end of a scale the rope had seemed to get lodged under. “Ow,” he mumbled softly as his hand moved the wrong way and the scale bit into his flesh before lying back down as the rope was freed. He ignored the trace of blood on his palm, instead clearing away the last of the rope and checking to make sure there was nowhere the man was still tangled.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Dec 22, 2020 21:55:35 GMT -5
L was still breathing hard, still swallowing back panic as he stared at the human. He didn’t understand, but there was the small, strange thought that Orpheus wasn’t trying to hurt him. That he was trying to help, even. No, that wasn’t right...there was no way that was right, humans didn’t help merfolk anymore than merfolk helped humans. Which was, never. So Orpheus couldn’t be doing it now. Right? He reached up and pushed his streaming hair back, getting a better look at Orpheus’ face. He looked so concerned. And focused, like he was actually trying to free the merman. Now that L was no longer struggling as hard, the flash of confusion he’d felt before grew stronger, stopping him from shoving Orpheus overboard or trying to tip the boat over. He watched, breathing hard, as the human worked on his tail, unwinding the rope where it cut into him. He winced and gave a low hiss as it rubbed his scales the wrong way and he almost started thrashing again, the pain waking the desperate need to survive, the urge to hurt the human before he was hurt. He kept still though. Barely. He had no way to know what Orpheus was thinking of course. But if he could have known, he would have been even more confused, and probably not a little bit shocked. Humans didn’t think merfolk were people. Who knew what humans actually thought, actually, because humans were just monsters. He hissed again as he felt his scale being moved, pain flashing through his dark eyes as he stared at Orpheus. Truthfully, the only thing that stopped him from fighting back was the tiny “ow” Orpheus gave, which startled him into searching for the source of the injury. Oh...he was bleeding a little. That was unexpected. He felt the rope slip free, and a bit of feeling returned to his tail. He moved it experimentally, then blinked at Orpheus, eyeing him with both deep suspicion and deep confusion. Then he dragged himself to the edge of the boat and pulled himself over, splashing back into the water. Better to figure this out from a safer position.
“Sorry,” Orpheus mumbled as he registered the hiss, the word a break in his quiet humming. He hadn’t meant to hurt L, but he knew that to get him completely free of the net, some pain was inevitable. It was better than what L would undoubtedly feel if he remained stuck, though. He cleared the net away as best he could, starting a bit as L made his way off the boat. Good. One less life taken. Orpheus gave a tiny, private smile as he watched the shape of the merman disappear into the water, then leaned over the boat to dip his bleeding hand into the water. The salt stung a bit, but he knew he needed to get the injury clean. It would be a pain if it got infected, especially because that was his strumming hand. He lifted his hand out of the water before shaking it dry and turning to look at the net he’d hauled aboard. He couldn’t just throw it back in the water, or someone else was going to get stuck in it and end up hurt. Orpheus wouldn’t be responsible for that. But the last thing he needed was a net, especially one that could be considered stolen. He didn’t need a net… but he could always use rope. He shrugged, beginning to pry at the piece that had been broken by L’s scale. It was easy enough to start unraveling the net from there. It came apart far more easily than Orpheus had expected, though the rope was rough beneath his fingers. Rope burn was a possibility if he weren’t more careful, but he would rather get it all unraveled quickly, in case the owner of it showed up. Besides, he had come here to play and think, and there was a lot more to think about now. A real, honest to goodness merperson. He’d seen one, face to face. Moreover, he’d lived to tell the tale. And so had he. Orpheus glanced over the edge of the boat at the water, still working to turn the net into a bundle of rope. The man had been scared. And Orpheus hadn’t helped as much as he would have liked. This… this stupid war. This stupid war that taught human children to fear merfolk. To kill instead of save, to stab instead of listen. He should have been afraid, he shouldn’t have looked into those large, dark eyes and seen something familiar reflected back. And yet… somehow it didn’t surprise him that what he’d been taught was wrong.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Dec 22, 2020 23:09:19 GMT -5
Once in the water, L meant to swim away as fast as he could go and never once look back. He needed to think. He needed to think about what this meant, why a human would ever save a merman, especially one who quite obviously wasn’t trying to be friendly. He meant to swim deep and disappear and figure this out on his own, or maybe with Watari’s help. But he stopped. He wasn’t even sure why he stopped at first. Then he glanced over his shoulder, and he understood. This was not the time for curiosity. This was not the time for poking something that was likely to explode. But he didn’t seem to have all that much choice into the matter. He found himself hesitating for a very long moment, trying to make himself leave it, trying to make himself leave like he knew he should. Any sensible merperson would dive as deep as they could and put it from their minds, except maybe as an embellished tale to impress others. I was once caught in a net by a human and survived! Did the human survive too? Well…. He shook his head a little. He wasn’t much for that type of bragging, anyway. And he didn’t feel accomplished so much as he felt confused. He didn’t understand what had just happened, not in the slightest, and he had a feeling that if he dove deep and tried to forget, he would never find out. He looked back. The human was making no effort to track him. The human was, in fact, apparently fine with him leaving. He let out a short, frustrated sigh, flipping over once in the water as he slowly accepted the fact that he was not going to be sensible. This was...a very stupid thing to do. L turned and let himself float to the surface. About half his head poked out of the water a short ways away from the boat, just enough for his eyes to be above the surface. And he sat there. Watching, even though he had no idea what he was watching for. An explanation, perhaps. Though Orpheus wasn’t likely to offer it, he knew, especially when he hadn’t even announced his presence.
Orpheus would have missed it if he hadn’t already been looking in the direction L had disappeared. He hadn’t expected him to come back. Why would he, after all? Unless he wanted to kill Orpheus, but he was rather far away for that. If he was attempting to drown him… wouldn’t he have come closer? Would he really have risked announcing his presence? Orpheus sucked in a sharp breath, sharply pulling apart another piece of the net. So much for avoiding the rope burn. He brought his eyes back down to his work, trying to ignore the merman floating right there. The man who could, if he so chose, overturn Orpheus’ boat and drag him down into the depths. Why hadn’t he done so already? One good deed didn’t erase years of hatred between species. And yet, Orpheus mused, I’m supposed to believe that all of them are subhuman, all of them are beneath us? If that were the case, Orpheus would be dead. Orpheus glanced up again, but the merman was still there. Watching. Had something of his gotten tangled in the rope, perhaps? Was he waiting for Orpheus to give it back? Orpheus lifted up the half unraveled net, brow furrowing as he searched it for anything the man could have lost. Finding nothing, he set his jaw and continued with the net. He was almost done unraveling it anyway. Orpheus wasn’t going to row away until he’d had his thinking time. And it didn’t look like the merman was going to leave either. Where did that put them? What was the man in the water thinking? Orpheus had a hard time believing he was plotting a way to come and kill him. No need to lurk around like that if that was the goal. “I can’t swim,” he offered softly, the words sounding foolish to his own ears. “If you’re here to kill me…” he hesitated, then shook his head, working free a particularly tangled section of the rope. “Respectfully, I’d like to say ‘please don’t.’ But that probably wouldn’t stop my people from killing one of yours, so I see no reason why it would stop you either.” He didn’t want to die. He had just… wanted to help someone who needed it. And he was curious, now, why the merman had resurfaced when the obvious explanation was so obviously incorrect.
L was aware of the moment Orpheus found him, and it was almost enough to make him duck back into the water, his wide dark eyes meeting the human’s lighter ones. He could drown him, of course. Probably most people in his place would have done it without hesitation, or if they did hesitate, they would get over it. So why was he sitting there, keeping his position in the water and merely watching? Why wasn’t he moving either forward or back, closer or further? He didn’t quite dare come closer, and he didn’t want to go further. So he was stuck here, watching silently, trying to figure this strange human out. He didn’t understand. He didn’t understand at all. He just wanted to understand, and then maybe he could leave. Maybe his brain would let him escape. He watched as Orpheus stayed, expecting him to row away. Why wouldn’t he? It didn’t really make sense to stay so close to someone who could and probably would kill you without hesitation. And Orpheus was… What was he doing, anyway? He seemed to be unraveling the net. Why? L tried to stop himself, but he couldn’t quite do it. He raised his head a little further out of the water and tilted his head to one side a bit like a curious bird, trying to see what it was Orpheus was trying to accomplish. And also why it was more important than rowing away from the probably deadly merman staring at him. He blinked once, then again, as the human…L wasn’t completely sure what to call it, actually. He was pretty sure that wasn’t something most people did. Or if they did, it was a trap. A really weird trap that he couldn’t quite figure out. “I’m not going to kill you.” The words surprised even him. His voice was low, quiet, so much so that he wasn’t confident Orpheus would even hear him. He almost swam closer, but he didn’t quite dare. “I’m...unsure why you didn’t kill me.” There. That was closer to what he wanted to say. He searched Orpheus’ gaze, his own wide and unsure and still a little scared, but mostly just confused.
It hadn’t actually occurred to Orpheus that rowing away was an option. He had come here to think, and eventually, he was going to get that chance. As soon as he was done with the stupid net. Finally he got the last piece free, and was rewarded with a large bundle of rope next to him. Good. He could use that later, for something or other. Rope was useful. Nets not so much. He was just about to pull his guitar out of his case when he heard L speak. He looked up, resisting the urge to clamber to the side of the boat and lean over. Barely. He did come closer, resting his arms on the edge. He hadn’t actually thought L could understand him. He’d said so much and received nothing in response. The fact that not only could the merman speak, but that he could speak the same language as Orpheus was… well, nothing short of amazing to him. He gave a small smile, studying L’s face very carefully. Saving the moment to sort through later, when he could summon lyrics that somehow made sense of the fact that he was talking to a merperson. One who had just admitted he wasn’t planning on killing him. “Oh.” The second statement shocked Orpheus, though later he would consider that he probably shouldn’t have been surprised. There would have been no way for one of the merfolk to know Orpheus’ reputation around town. How he was too cowardly to kill, too cowardly to even carry a spear. It wasn’t born out of cowardice, but it was probably better for them to all think it was. “You needed help,” he replied softly, tilting his head as though that should have been explanation enough. “It would have been unforgiveable of me to leave you there.” He frowned slightly, pulling nervously at the zipper of his guitar case. He wanted the instrument out, but he found he didn’t want to startle L. This was a delicate balance. One he couldn’t help but feel had never been struck before. He lifted his eyes up to meet L’s. “Why have you decided not to kill me?”
Orpheus seemed so...normal. So much like a regular person, not a monster. He wasn’t immediately trying to kill L, he had had his chance to do so before and he hadn’t. And no matter how L looked at it, Orpheus had just saved his life. It was an almost uncomfortable feeling, he discovered, being saved by a human. Not even a human he knew, just...a human who had been at the right place at the right time. How many other humans would have done the same? How many merfolk would just be waiting here now, unsure what to do next? He couldn’t help feeling like they had gotten very lucky, both of them, because he couldn’t imagine this would have gone nearly as smoothly otherwise. He peered at Orpheus. The other man looked...excited? To hear him speak, which was yet another surprise. Today seemed to be full of those. Then again, he has been equally surprised to hear Orpheus speak in his own language. And he hadn’t exactly answered him before. So he couldn’t really hold the expression against him. It was just not what L had expected. Not even close. He had no idea who Orpheus was, or what his reputation was. He knew nothing at all about him, other than that he was kind, and he wasn’t supposed to be capable of being kind. Not according to every story L had ever heard, anyway. He was supposed to be bloodthirsty and cruel, intent on killing every one of the merfolk he could find. He was supposed to have a spear, at the very least. And instead he had just carefully dismantled the net that hat nearly killed L, and he was holding a strange object, and he was talking to L like he didn’t know they were at war. “Oh.” He said, his voice will puzzled. He didn’t understand, not really. Orpheus seemed...genuine. He seemed to really mean it, he seemed to really mean what he said about helping simply because it was the right thing to do, as if people actually did that. As if even the merfolk did that, Because in truth, sometimes he didn’t like his own people, either. Sometimes he wanted to get away from everyone, human and mer. He looked at Orpheus, his wide dark eyes trying to read him. Then, quietly, he spoke. “I don’t know.” He said honestly. There were a lot of reasons he could think of, but they all felt wrong. “I wish I could say that it is simply the right thing to do, but...I’m not certain I can claim to know the right thing to do. I’m not certain that that’s why, even if I could claim that. Perhaps it’s because you just saved my life, and it would be rude to turn around and kill you after that.”
Orpheus watched L for a few moments before deciding it was probably safe to take the guitar out of its case. He let his gaze drift away from L for a few moments as he removed it, carefully checking the wood for any water damage before he slung the strap over his shoulder and lightly plucked at the strings to make sure the instrument was in tune. It was easier focusing on that, the familiar element in the situation, than it was to focus entirely on L. Merfolk were supposed to kill humans. They were supposed to drown them and eat them, maybe, though nobody knew for sure what they did with the bodies. Just that those who were drowned were never seen again. Merfolk were definitely not supposed to place manners over bloodlust. Orpheus had always doubted the stories he’d been told. He was grateful now to see that he’d had reason to. “The right thing to do,” Orpheus echoed softly, meeting L’s gaze across the water. “I don’t know for you, either. I don’t know how you see the war, or if you participate in it, or…” he sighed, shaking his head. “For what it’s worth, as the one whose life was on the line in this case, I think you did the right thing. Neither of us got hurt, and now we get to go…” he trailed off. He wanted to go back to Mr. Hermes eventually, obviously, but the village as a whole he could pass on, for the most part. There was, after all, a reason he had decided to come out here in the first place. “Now we get to keep living. Whatever that means for you,” he amended, offering a small smile. He strummed a few chords, trying to work out the storm of thoughts swirling around in his head. “I’m Orpheus, by the way,” he said out of the blue, figuring that introductions might be the best place to start. Unless the man in front of him wanted to just… duck under the water and disappear to wherever he’d been going when he’d gotten caught. “Do you have a name?” He blushed after a moment, realizing how the question sounded. “I just mean… one you’re willing to share. To be called.” Was that too forward, asking for his name? He might not want to share that. But it felt like an easier beginning than launching straight into the fact that he hadn’t believed in the war to begin with, and actually meeting one of the enemy had cemented his opinions for sure. Maybe he’d get around to that. Or maybe he’d just keep talking to the man who was supposed to want to kill him for as long as they found things to talk about. Or maybe L would leave now, and Orpheus would be left feeling like a fool.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Dec 25, 2020 21:35:15 GMT -5
L watched, his eyes wide with fascination as Orpheus slipped the guitar from its case, and he swam forward a little almost without meaning to, curiosity pulling him along in spite of the fear. The sound was soft and gentle, and he wanted to get a little closer to hear it better, but…. He stopped himself. What was he doing? This was a human, with an unknown device that could easily be some sort of weapon even worse than a spear, something that would be more painful and more deadly than anything he’d encountered before. He couldn’t trust humans. He knew what they were like, what they did, and he had no real reason to believe this one was any different. Except… Except he had every reason to believe that. Except he had every reason to believe that the rule was not as absolute as it had been made out to be. Except that he was alive and if he had been right, he would be dead. When Orpheus spoke. l found himself listening. He wanted to know whether there was a reason he had been spared, when so many of his kind had been hunted and killed. When his kind were less now than ever they had been before, because of the killing, because it wouldn’t stop. It never stopped and who was he to complain when he had human blood on his hands, too? He was a part of the war. Not nearly as much as some others, maybe, but he would likely have killed Orpheus in different circumstances. If Orpheus had been the one trapped and helpless? He didn’t know what he would have done. “I feel as though I did the right thing.” He admitted, to Orpheus as well as to himself. “Though that doesn’t mean very much. If I had killed you, then I would never have been able to ask you why you spared me.” He blinked, startled as the name was given to him. Names were special, important. They carried meaning to their owners. To be given the human’s felt...he didn’t know how it felt. Strange. Unusual. Not wrong, not exactly, but close. It made the human - Orpheus - feel less like a threat and more like a person. Would it work in reverse? He hesitated. Giving his name felt like agreeing to something he hadn’t yet agreed to. But hadn’t he agreed not to kill Orpheus? Maybe he was overthinking this…. “You may call me L.” He said in a rush, before he could change his mind. Then he closed his mouth, wondering what other foolishness was likely to come out if he let it. Orpheus. The name suited the man, he thought, watching from the water. He was curious. Was Orpheus curious, too? “What’s that?” He asked before he could stop himself, pointing at the guitar, his head tilted to one side.
Orpheus watched L for several long moments, letting his own curiosity get the better of him. For a member of what was supposed to be a deadly and malevolent group of people, L seemed far too similar to humans. Were all of them like that, really, when given the chance? When having an honest conversation instead of drowning every person they saw? Did they kill for the same reasons humans killed? Was it really all about petty squabbles that nobody even remembered the origin of? Orpheus frowned, shaking his head. He was tired of the war. Seeing the other side like this… all it did was convince him even more thoroughly that the war was wrong. That really, they were all people, and that respecting each other and working together was a far more sustainable solution than bloodshed. And yet… some seemed as passionate about taking lives as Orpheus felt about saving them. It was why he had never actually voiced his thoughts before. “I hope my answer was satisfactory enough,” Orpheus replied after a moment, a small smile touching his features as he moved a bit closer to the edge. He knew he shouldn’t feel comfortable so close to one of the merfolk, but he couldn’t help it. Besides, L had already said he wasn’t going to kill Orpheus. And he seemed to care at least a little bit about manners. It would have been rude to go back on his word and kill Orpheus unprovoked. The truth was, Orpheus hadn’t actually thought before giving his name. Names had power, yes, but in the end they were just sounds, sounds that belonged to one person and one person alone. Without a name, it was easier to pretend that someone else wasn’t a person. Was that why the humans and the merfolk never talked? Because they were afraid of finding common ground and having to actually give the war critical thought? The war benefit some people, Orpheus knew that. But that didn’t explain why the rest of humanity was still willing to take part in it. Was it arrogant to assume he might find a way to stop it? Perhaps, but if he was the only one willing to put in the effort to think about it… it was just a fantasy, he knew. Distantly, he wondered how L felt about the war. He didn’t dare ask. “Nice to meet you, L,” he said instead, leaning over the side of the boat to offer L his hand. Did merfolk know what a handshake was? If not, they were about to. His gaze flickered to his guitar, and he quickly clambered onto the side of the boat so his feet could hang over, and so L could get a better look at the instrument. “It’s called a guitar,” he explained softly, plucking out a few chords, “It makes music.” That part was obvious, but Orpheus felt it still needed to be said. If only to prove that music was the only intended use for such a thing. “Do you have anything similar underwater?”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Dec 30, 2020 18:34:06 GMT -5
The problem for L wasn’t that he didn’t know what the rest of humanity was like. The problem was that he was now aware of how one of them was, and it was nothing like he’d been told. Nothing like the sort of mindless monsters he had been brought to believe humans were. Orpheus seemed more than alive, he seemed...well. He almost seemed to be kind, much more like a person than a monster, and he had saved L’s life at serious risk to himself, with no reason to believe that L would so much as pause before drowning him. Unless he didn’t know merfolk fought humans. How could he not know that? Was he stupid? He didn’t seem stupid to L, and he found himself dismissing the possibility. No...he wasn’t stupid and he wasn’t a monster. The options left frightened him almost even more. Because he wasn’t innocent. He had drowned humans before. And here Orpheus was, coming closer, seeming to take him at his word when he should have turned and run for his life. L was dangerous, he wasn’t someone to talk to. He certainly wasn’t someone to smile at like a friend instead of an enemy. L didn’t understand, but he found he wanted to. He wanted to ask if all humans were kind, even though he understood that they couldn’t be. He remembered what they’d done...his expression darkened just a bit as he thought about it. There was a reason he had killed, and it wasn’t just blindly following everyone else. Why a war? For the first time, L really had to wonder. Why was there a war when this was a possibility? When someone could be rescued rather than killed on sight? It didn’t make sense to take so many lives when they were really lives and not just the existence of monsters, creatures so other that couldn’t be compared. But that wasn’t what was happening here. They were just….talking. It seemed so natural, it seemed like Orpheus was just as kind as he seemed to be, and how was that even possible? None of this made any sense. He didn’t understand, and he probably wouldn’t for a while. He needed to think about this when he had a chance. Then the human extended a hand and L flinched, watching it, half expecting Orpheus to suddenly become the monster he was supposed to be. Curiosity was really the only thing keeping L where he was at the moment, and when that was gone? L wasn’t sure what he expected to happen. Would he dive down and never come that close to the surface again? Would he try to forget this had happened? Neither seemed like him, but then, desperation made people do things they’d never normally dream of. He couldn’t help coming a bit closer as Orpheus explained the guitar, because fear aside, it was fascinating. He had to stop himself before he was in arms reach, but he could see the instrument clearly enough. “Yes.” He said, nodding a little. “We have musical instruments, but not the same as that. Ours work differently.” He was getting himself in too deep already and he knew it. With every word he exchanged with the human, it would be harder to swim away.
“The wood would probably warp under the water,” Orpheus considered, tilting his head softly. “Maybe there’s a way to stop that from happening so you could play similar instruments down there.” He wasn’t good at figuring things like that out, though. There were materials people used to waterproof their boats… was it possible the same could be used on something as delicate as an instrument? He was getting distracted. “I’d love to hear what sort of instruments you use underwater,” he commented with a small smile, still watching L carefully. He knew in the back of his mind that L could still pose a threat, but part of him didn’t seem to want to believe it. The merman was nice, nicer than a lot of humans were, even. Most people weren’t interested in his music unless they could hire him to play for a party or a wedding or some other event that required dancing. He had gotten quite used to those sorts of gigs, but he rarely ever got to play what he wanted to play when there was someone else around to listen. Orpheus began to play a song, eyes closing for just a moment, his feet still dangling in the water. Some would say he was tempting fate, but he didn’t see it that way. He saw no reason for L to attack him, and he believed him when he said he wasn’t going to. Was that naïve of him? Probably, but… there had been plenty of opportunity for him to be attacked, and it wasn’t as though merfolk tended to be subtle when drowning humans. As far as Orpheus had heard, they just tipped the boat over, grabbed a leg or an arm, and swam down fast enough that sometimes the only indication of someone drowning was the tiniest darkening of the waves as the person’s eardrum burst. Orpheus shuddered, shrugging away the thought. The point was, he felt as safe as he possibly could on the ocean. Quietly, very quietly, Orpheus opened his eyes and began to sing, the notes of the song mingling with the chords of his guitar that melted into individual notes as his fingers expertly plucked at the strings, producing just the right sorts of sounds. Hermes had often told him he could get someone to fall for him with just a song, but he had never really been interested before. Well… he had, once, but… it was easier not to think about Eurydice. His song gained the tiniest note of sadness, though he tried to quickly push it away before L could notice. Did he know the person who had drowned her? It was possible. Did Orpheus know the people who had undoubtedly hurt someone L knew, too? It was almost an inevitability. Orpheus wouldn’t have lost anyone if there hadn’t been a war. He shoved the thought away one last time, squeezing his eyes shut and forcing his optimism into the song. Best present the best parts of himself to L first and leave the fear for later. If there was a later. Why was he thinking like he was going to see this merman again? It was almost impossible. He drew the song out, opening his eyes again to meet L’s. He didn’t want this to end, for some reason. He didn’t want to think that he’d talked to someone – someone nice – that he wouldn’t ever see again. So it was selfishness, a desire to make this moment last – that caused him to play longer than he would have normally.
“Mm...yes, probably.” L mused, eyeing the instrument curiously. Was it fragile? It looked fragile...he couldn’t tell for sure, and he was fairly certain that Orpheus wouldn’t appreciate him asking to hold it. Besides that, there was any slight water problem. His hands were wet, and he didn’t think he had anything to dry them on. So holding it was out. “I can’t play the instruments we use,” he murmured, shaking his head a little. “But I’ve heard songs. I don’t know what the difference would be, besides the obvious materials. He was interested in his music. He was curious, wanted to know everything he could, and Orpheus seemed eager enough to share, so he didn’t feel too bad asking questions. His eyes widened as Orpheus closed his eyes, and his eyes flicked down to his feet, dangling in the water within easy grabbing distance. It would be incredibly easy and safe for L to kill this human. It would be fast, simple, the right thing to do if what he’d been taught was to be believed. And L had believed it. There was blood on his hands. Did Orpheus know that? Would he had been so trusting if he did? L doubted it. He didn’t know L was a killer, he was naive, too trusting...and here was L, thinking of what would happen if he did it. Knowing he was capable. The music soothed him. He wasn’t going to do it, that much he knew. Whatever he believed, whatever he’d been taught...he did not believe this person deserved to die. Because it was a person, that was so clear now. He watched Orpheus open his eyes, and he didn’t realize how wide his own had gotten. The music was…he wasn’t sure he actually had the words he needed to describe it. It was like nothing L had ever heard or experienced before. He stayed frozen, mesmerized, trapped in its gentle grip, and he wasn’t struggling, though he felt like he should have been. No...he was okay with this. It didn’t feel like a spell, it felt like a hand reaching out to him, only to be taken if he chose to. He chose to. He noticed the edge of sadness, though it vanished quickly. What was that? He didn’t know...he didn’t know how to read Orpheus. He couldn’t tell what he was thinking. The song was...determined. And not sad. Was it happy? L wasn’t sure he’d describe it that way, wasn’t sure how to make the emotions it brought. It was frightening, how deeply it was affecting him, how almost painfully loud his own emotions were now. He couldn’t tell the song was longer than it might have been. He didn’t speak, not even after the last note faded, but his expression betrayed how much it had touched him. It was only a song, he tried to tell himself, but it felt like a lie. “You’re very skilled at that.” He murmured finally, searching for words that had a chance of making it past his constricted throat. “I’ve never heard anything like that before.”
Orpheus listened carefully, nodding a little at that. He had no doubt that any instruments they used where L came from would be different. He tried not to be surprised that they even had instruments. If the things Orpheus had been told were to be believed, merfolk had no concept of art. They had no culture or society; they were just monsters set on killing people because they could. Looking at L now, hearing that some people under the water found a way to play instruments… Orpheus found he couldn’t believe it. He couldn’t believe that the world L was from was terribly different from his own world. Or… if not similar, at least as real as Orpheus’. If Orpheus were honest with himself, he wouldn’t have been surprised to learn that L had killed before. He didn’t think he would kill him, but if the stories merfolk told were as effective as the ones the humans told? It would have come as no surprise to Orpheus that L had blood on his hands. It wasn’t that he didn’t mind – of course he minded, they were his people, but he couldn’t hold it against L. They were all fed lies. Orpheus was just lucky he had met L before he’d staked his innocence on believing them. There were obviously differences between their homes, but Orpheus couldn’t help but be struck by the similarities. “Thank you,” he whispered, leaning back to set the guitar down in the boat. He made sure to keep one hand visible at all times in case L thought he might be reaching for something dangerous. He didn’t want to startle him. Eventually he twisted back around, letting his hands sit in his lap, his feet still dangling in the water. One of his pant cuffs – which he had tried to roll up – had come down and was now half saturated with water. He didn’t make any move to fix it or get it out of the water. “I’ve been practicing for a very long time,” he murmured, cheeks reddening a little bit. He didn’t know how to take a compliment – the people he knew weren’t quite so genuine with them as L seemed to be. It threw Orpheus off guard. “Thank you for listening,” he added, swinging his feet gently in the water. He made sure he had a solid grip on the boat – as much as he trusted L, Orpheus didn’t know how to swim, and he didn’t think he could reasonably expect L to save his life and get him back on the boat. This war between them couldn’t be healed with just one conversation, and there were surely things that they both still believed that would turn out to be untrue. “And staying,” he whispered, his voice having grown a little bit smaller, quavering just a bit as he spoke. “You didn’t need to stay and talk to me. It… probably would’ve been safer for you to swim back home. But… selfishly… I like talking to you. And hearing a little bit about how your world and your people aren’t at all like we’ve been taught to believe.” Was this a goodbye? Not quite. He was just stalling until it had to be one.
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Mar 28, 2021 20:19:26 GMT -5
If Orpheus was surprised that menfolk played music, L was just as surprised to find that humans did. They were supposed to be cruel, thoughtless creatures, not able to do more than fight, with themselves and everything else. They hunted merfolk for nothing, they killed thoughtlessly, they were dangerous and if you didn’t kill them first...but L hadn’t killed him. L had been saved by him. He didn’t understand...it went against everything, absolutely everything he knew. He had to think back to the other lives he had taken...what if they had been like Orpheus? What if they had been harmless, or at least very good at pretending to be harmless? Orpheus...he hadn’t quite convinced L that he wasn’t dangerous, but he had done something that was, perhaps, even worse. He had invited L’s heart to consider, just consider, whether he might not be an enemy. And once L started to consider something, he rarely stopped until he was completely satisfied with the answer. He watched Orpheus move, and half of him said he should just leave now, before this had a chance to go wrong, but another, less familiar part whispered but why not stay a little longer? Why not see it through? You’ll never know what might happen if you go now. He wasn’t sure he wanted to know what might happen. Then again, there was his damn curiosity, refusing to be silenced so easily. Humans could make music. A human had saved his life, had talked to him, continued to talk to him...and he didn’t want to go until he understood why. “How long have you been practicing?” He asked, searching Orpheus’ expression. It seemed a reasonable thing to ask next. And he didn’t quite want the conversation to end just yet. “I liked listening,” he added quietly, almost shyly. “It...was unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Music sounds different underwater, I suppose….and I haven’t heard much of that, either.” He hesitated, unsure how to reply to the next comment. “Oh,” he murmured, tilting his head a little. “I...I suppose you’re right. It would have been smarter to leave immediately. But...I find myself glad that I chose to talk to you. You’re not at all like I thought you’d be.” He wasn’t sure he was ready to go just yet. That would mean this conversation was in the past. Which would mean he would have to think about what to do next. As long as he was still talking to Orpheus, his next move rested safely in the future, where it couldn’t hurt him.
Orpheus knew what merfolk were supposed to be. He knew his mother had left and his father had rowed as far out to sea as he could, until there was nothing but water and merfolk. And Orpheus knew he had drowned, just like anyone else who went too far from the shore. Orpheus glanced up in the direction of town. He couldn’t see it anymore – which meant that he was too far from shore, technically. He had drifted a little bit in the struggle to get L free from the net. Yet… Orpheus found he couldn’t regret that, not when they were talking, having an actual conversation, not when L seemed nice. Not when Orpheus was still alive, and there were two hearts beating along to the music. He managed a small smile, gaze catching on L’s for what felt like an eternity. “I’ve been learning since I was little,” he admitted, letting his fingers skate over the strings for just a few moments. “I must have been… three? Maybe? When I picked up my first instrument. I’ve always liked the guitar most. I’ve been practicing this since I was six.” Orpheus looked up, letting his eyes catch on L’s once again. He had expected merfolk to look different… he had thought they’d look… crueler. But they were very similar to humans. Orpheus may not have been able to read L’s expressions, but he could tell there was something earnest about it. He didn’t look like a mindless killer. He didn’t act like one either. “I’m glad you like listening,” Orpheus added softly, propping the guitar back up. “Music doesn’t mean very much if there’s nobody who wants to listen to it. If… if I could hear what music sounds like underwater I would, but… I think that’d probably not end very well.” Orpheus blushed, reaching a hand up to awkwardly scratch at the back of his neck. “Besides, I don’t think there are very many merfolk who would be willing to play for a human.” Orpheus knew – he knew that it wasn’t very smart to befriend a merman. He knew that there were things that both sides would do if they found out one of their own had been turned away… but something about L was intriguing. He didn’t want this conversation to end, and he didn’t want to go back home and be the only person who had ever actually talked to a merperson. “You’re not what I thought, either,” he said after a moment, letting his toes dangle into the water. “But… in a good way, I guess. I think… maybe if more humans and merfolk got to talk like this, they might not hate each other so much.” Was that wishful thinking? Orpheus didn’t see how it could be – he and L were living proof that they weren’t programmed to hate each other, it was just… circumstance. “I think it would be nice if we could all just… exist together. In ways that help everyone instead of… instead of just hurting people.” Orpheus sighed, pulling his legs inside of the boat. “Sorry,” he said a few moments later, crossing his arms over the side and leaning his chin on them. “I guess… I know I sound idealistic, but I really think it could happen.”
L knew how dangerous this was for Orpheus. He was more than aware of how far they were from shore, and he didn’t think Orpheus was stupid enough to not under the risks. Yet he was still here. Talking, like he didn’t think L was a danger. Like L had never killed anyone, when he didn’t know that, when it wasn’t even true. L had killed his kind before. And he didn’t think it was very likely that Orpheus hadn’t killed any merfolk his life, even if he had saved L, even if he didn’t have any weapons. Okay...maybe it was a little more likely than he would have thought before, but that didn’t mean he was going to just...assume. L listened, fascinating as Orpheus continued. No wonder he was as good as he was...he’d been at its long enough and he had a knack for it at the same time. And he enjoyed it. Which was an important part of learning something well, not always but most of the time. He nodded a little, tilting his head very slightly as the war came back to the front of his mind. Ah...right. He was supposed to be killing Orpheus. He hadn’t forgotten so much as tried not to think about it, but...it was still a bit of a shock, remembering. Orpheus seemed so...well….person-like. Not a monster. Not even a threat. He knew better than to trust so easily, but to his credit, Orpheus did make it hard not to. “No, I suppose not,” he admitted, glancing down into the water. “It seems only fair that you hear what it sounds like, but I don’t play. It’s very different, though.” This was dangerous, L knew that. He was talking to the enemy. He was having an actual conversation with a human, and it was stupid, and he didn’t understand why knowing it was stupid wasn’t enough to stop him from doing it. He didn’t want to go, and he didn’t understand why he couldn’t do the sensible thing and do it anyway. He considered Orpheus with his head tilted a little to one side. Tried to imagine what he was thinking, what he meant. A world where there was no war, where people just...existed together...he didn’t know how to picture that. He couldn’t imagine it. “I think that would be nice,” he admitted. “Even if it is a bit idealistic. I have my doubts as to how possible it is for this war to end in anything other than complete annihilation, and yet...I wish it could. Now, especially. I didn’t think you’d be so…” he trailed off, not sure how he’d planned to finish that thought. “So much like me,” he decided a moment later. “Or, not precisely like me, but...you aren’t terrifying. Not that I expected all humans to be terrifying. Not that I’ve never seen a human before - “ okay, maybe mentioning the time he’d killed some of Orpheus’ people wasn’t his best decision. He broke off, floundering for a long moment.
Orpheus knew he was in danger. If another merperson found him here, he could very easily die. He didn’t think L would fight for him, and he didn’t expect him to. Not against his own people. L was friendly, but they were still strangers. They were still strangers on opposite sides of an unwinnable war. A war where both sides had done absolutely despicable things, where they both tried to pretend they were in the right. Orpheus could see why they did that. He may not have known all the details, but Hermes was more honest about what had happened than the rest of the town seemed to be. Orpheus knew there were labs that ran experiments on merfolk that had been unlucky enough to be caught. He knew merfolk were beached, killed, hunted… trapped in nets. And he knew that there were likely similar things happening to humans. You couldn’t live to adulthood without knowing at least two or three people who had been drowned. Yes, Orpheus knew how dangerous this was. He also knew how monumental it was, the ability to have a conversation with an actual merman… the chance to talk as equals rather than as enemies, because they both could have killed each other by now. For some odd reason, they hadn’t. “Maybe one day I’ll be able to hear it,” Orpheus murmured after a long moment, though he knew it was a longshot. He couldn’t breathe underwater, for one, and secondly, he doubted he would ever find another merperson who would give him the benefit of the doubt for as long as L currently was. He wasn’t armed, he couldn’t kill L even if he wanted to, but surely merfolk were aware that sometimes humans concealed weapons. “I’ve never seen a merperson before,” Orpheus admitted after a long moment, trying to save L from whatever he was having a hard time expressing. He had a feeling he knew what it was, but he wasn’t going to accuse L of that. Not after they had just met, and certainly not when they were having a perfectly civil conversation. “I’ve… been thinking about peace for a long time now, but I didn’t know if it was possible. I didn’t… I doubted it was. I didn’t know what to believe, because they always portray you as big and scary and monstrous, and you’re just… a person. A person with a tail and gills – do you even have gills or do you have lungs? Or both – doesn’t matter, you’re a person. Which means your people are, too… which means there’s a chance for peace.” He frowned for just a moment, then gave a small sigh. “There’s no alternative for peace. It’s either that, or we all die. Or we keep fighting this for centuries longer than we already have, we teach our children to kill instead of coexist, and that’s… not a world I want to be part of.” He gave a small sigh, letting a fingertip fall into the water, tracing a small pattern across it. “I know it’s idealistic,” he murmured, hazel eyes meeting dark. “I never thought it was possible. But… but you being here, still… that proves it might be.”
Would L fight for Orpheus if it came down to it? If he had to fight another of his own kind to do it? Would he protect Orpheus at the cost of treachery? Well...was this treachery now? He considered that carefully. It seemed to border it, at the very least...he wasn’t sure whether it counted or not, but it seemed like it might. Talking, not killing. This wasn’t allowed, he knew. This was dangerous, he suspected, but he didn’t quite know how dangerous. The thing was, they didn’t have the resources to do the same sorts of things with humans. Since humans couldn’t survive underwater, it was hard to keep prisoners or experiments. It was much easier for humans...merfolk could be out of the water for a while. There was no pressure to contend with. He was pretty sure they were still as cruel to humans as humans were to them. He couldn’t understand why they hadn’t killed each other. Why Orpheus had saved his life. Why, then there had been no guarantee that he would do anything but kill him as soon as he could? He hadn’t had any sort of assurance that he’d be safe. None at all. He knew Orpheus might be armed. He was assuming, for the moment, that he was. It was much safer to be wrong that Orpheus was armed, rather than the other way around. He wasn’t giveing Orpheus the benefit of the doubt...was he? The thought made him a bit uncomfortable. He didn’t think he has that in him. It was easier to pretend this was a stalemate. It was simpler to think they weren’t killing each other because they knew they’d be killed if they tried. “Never?” L broke his own thoughts off, shock painting his expression. He couldn’t imagine how that could be anything but a blatant lie. A human as old as Orpheus was, who’d never killed a merperson before, was...it wasn’t really very possible, was it? He couldn’t imagine how it could be. How could anyone not have killed? “Most of us know what humans look like,” he admitted after a moment. “So it’s not as if we don’t know that. It’s just...we’re having a conversation, aren’t we?” He moved his hand through the water absentmindedly. “Peace...is a very strong word,” he murmured. “I’m not sure whether it’s at all possible. If it ever way, then perhaps...perhaps it isn’t anymore.” He listened quietly. Orpheus had a point, of course. He was that they had to change something, he was right that it was idealistic to believe there would be one. He was right that the alternatives weren’t good. “My being here…?” He repeated quietly. “I don’t know that it’s that. You’re the one who saved my life. Perhaps...you’re the one who’s proving it. I wouldn’t have talked to you if you hadn’t done what you did.”
Orpheus couldn’t count what he was doing as treachery. It wasn’t a betrayal of his kind to treat someone else with respect. How could he live with himself if it was? He bit his lip, trying to push the thought as far away as possible. This moment between him and L, this was a chance at peace, this was proof that maybe things weren’t as bad as people said they were. If he and L were talking, then that meant that maybe merfolk and humans weren’t meant to be mortal enemies forever. Maybe… maybe they had just gotten off on the wrong foot. He wished he knew what had incited the war. He knew what the stories were. He knew they said it was a massacre. There had been a ship carrying the families of everyone from their little village, and it had been drowned because the merfolk thought it would be amusing. They enjoy killing, the stories said, They do it for fun, they make orphans because they can, because it makes them feel powerful. They leave families childless, they take and take and take because they are nothing but monsters. Whatever blood they share with humans has been corrupted. Orpheus had believed that once. He had hidden from the water whenever he could, before he had realized that humans were sometimes as cruel as merfolk. He had a feeling that humans were crueler, sometimes. Whatever this war was, it wasn’t perpetuated only by one side. Humanity held an equal share of the blame. So Orpheus had learned to sail. He had spent time learning the ocean, though he knew if he ever met a merperson it would all be over. It was true that most merfolk didn’t hesitate to drown a human on sight. He also knew that most humans were more than ready to shoot a merperson down if they saw them first. The whole world was filled with violence and cruelty, and Orpheus was disgusted by it. “I wouldn’t be here right now if I had ever seen a merperson before you,” Orpheus replied, but there was no bitterness in his tone. It was just fact. “I don’t carry around a weapon, and I’m easy to take advantage of. If I had seen someone like you before, they likely would have drowned me without a second thought. But… I guess I got lucky that you haven’t chosen to do that yet. And… I guess you’re lucky that I found you instead of someone else. I guess… this whole situation could have been very, very different.” Orpheus was grateful for the way it had turned out, even if he knew that getting peace was likely a nearly impossible goal. “I don’t believe that peace is impossible,” Orpheus murmured, shaking his head a little bit. “We’re fighting a war that people hundreds of years ago started. We don’t even know what the real origins of it are. And… if I don’t try to find peace, then more people are going to die, and not doing anything is just sending the message that I’m okay with it. And… and I’m really not. I’d rather die trying to do something than live doing nothing.”
Just because it wasn’t supposed to be treachery, didn’t mean it wasn’t going to be seen that way. L was aware that this could possibly kill L as well as Orpheus if they were found, and he didn’t think there would be anything Watari could do to protect him. He could imagine they’d want to make him an example of what happened when you were a deserter who shared secrets with the enemy, a warning to any other idealists that war was not a good way to make a point, and couldn’t they make art or run away from home like everyone else? Never mind that L hadn’t done anything more than talk. It was the principle of the thing. Humans were not to be talked to, they were to be killed before they could hurt anyone, and then bragged about. They couldn’t pretend nothing had happened. They couldn’t pretend either side was innocent in this, even though both seemed to claim they were. At least, L assumed the humans claimed innocence. He knew his people did, and it wasn’t as though he’d known to disbelieve them, at first. He hadn’t known how to tell, he hadn’t met a human. But he was alive here, talking to a human. One who had saved his life, even. He didn’t understand how it was possible, but it had happened. If it didn’t make sense, then he needed to find a way to make it make sense. L didn’t flinch, though the truth stung. He couldn’t deny it. He couldn’t say Orpheus was wrong. His people would rather drown a human than talk to them, and if he’d been in a different situation he might have done the same. He couldn’t pretend it was anything other than what it was. “I know,” he said instead, his voice soft. “I didn’t...expect you to hesitate before killing me. I assumed if I was found I would be killed on sight. I’m...relieved that that didn’t happen.” He breathed out, unsure how to answer that. Orpheus seemed sure, but how could he know? “They say this war is meant to be,” he said carefully, testing each word. “They say this is how the world is supposed to be. Some people would miss the war, if it ever ended. Even if peace is possible at all, not everyone wants it.” He let out a small breath. “What are you going to do?” He murmured, watching Orpheus’ face carefully. “If you’re going to do something...what? What is there to be done about a war you didn’t start?”
Orpheus knew this was dangerous, but he wasn’t thinking about that. If people wanted to target him for talking to someone, if they wanted to call him a traitor for doing his best to save lives… well, then let them. They were going to keep fighting an unwinnable war. Both sides were killing each other at unsustainable rates, and though the humans were able to experiment on merfolk to have a better grasp of their weaknesses, the fact remained that there were simply fewer humans. That, and they relied on fishing to keep their population alive. Orpheus knew full well that as long a both groups existed and nothing changed, they were going to keep killing each other until the merfolk or humans died out entirely. The thought made him sick to his stomach, especially now that he had met a merman. L was as much of a person as anyone else Orpheus had ever met. More of a person than some people, given that L was kind and willing to listen, and some of the people Orpheus had met wanted to do nothing but make fun of him and call him a coward for not wanting to help them go hunting for merfolk. “It’s a game, to some people in the village,” he said without thinking, the words slipping forth before he could stop them. “I mean… everyone I know has lost someone to the war, and a lot of the older people I know are fighting to protect their children or to get revenge for losses. But some of our younger citizens… they hunt your kind for fun. I know that not everyone wants the war to be over. I know that some people profit off of it and others base their entire identity on how good they are at senseless killing. But if we don’t do something then one of our populations is going to die out. I just… I don’t think you deserve that. And I think peace is preferable, so people don’t have to fight to avenge the people they loved. So children can grow up without their parents being terrified that they’ll be killed in a war nobody knows the full story to.” He took a deep breath, shaking his head just a little bit. He didn’t know if it was similar where L was from, but he had to believe it might be. War had defined Orpheus’ village for as long as anyone he knew could remember, even Hermes. That was… that was a very long time. A lot of lives had been lost. “Why should we keep fighting a war we didn’t start?” Orpheus asked, eyes wide as he searched L’s. “It may not be our responsibility to clean up the mess that our ancestors made, but if not us, then who? If everyone keeps saying that it’s not their place to stop the war, then the war will never end. Thousands more people will die. I want to do something about that.”
Post by ®Hawkpath® on Jun 18, 2021 18:30:30 GMT -5
L couldn’t help thinking about it. He couldn’t help wondering how badly wrong this could go. He wanted to do this, for some reason, he wanted to do this. But he wasn’t in the dark about how badly this could go. Watari wouldn’t like it, he knew. Watari wouldn’t think this was a very smart decision, and really? He was right. This wasn’t smart. L prided himself on being smart. What was he doing? What did he hope to accomplish by letting this human...well, what was this human doing? He didn’t think he knew. He wanted to...he wanted to understand, but he just didn’t. Maybe it was his curiosity that implored him to stay a little longer. Or maybe...just maybe...he was lonely. He didn’t let that though get any further. There were implications. He didn’t like them. Orpheus was a good deal kinder than most people L knew, and he wanted to...maybe he wanted to see why. Maybe he thought this would prove that humans were not to be trusted. Maybe he didn’t know what he wanted. He didn’t flinch as Orpheus continued. He knew it was true. He had figured as much, humans hurting merfolk for sport, humans enjoying their pain...he knew how terrible it was to be caught. If you were released, you would love merely for the sole purpose of spreading fear. And you would do it. You would tell of the horrors you’d survived. You’d be traumatized, you’d warn others, you’d make the human’s reputation as terrible as it possibly could be. L knew better than to be caught this close...he needed to go, probably. Was this a game to Orpheus? Was this what he did with his prey? Did he toy with them before he ended them? L didn’t want to believe that...no, he had saved L, he wouldn’t have done that if he was dangerous. Right? It didn’t make sense. It was still terrifying. “This isn’t sustainable,” he allowed, looking away, he wanted to deny it, but he couldn’t. It wasn’t like Orpheus didn’t know what he was talking about. He knew, he knew how bad things were looking for both of them. The humans were fewer, the humans were deadlier. The menfolk has greater numbers, the merfolk weren’t as likely to make a kill. It was frighteningly balanced. Which was probably why no one was willing to give in. They both thought they had a chance of winning this. They couldn’t see how much they would lose in the process. “That’s not really what I meant,” he replied, shaking his head a little. “I just meant...how? It’s a noble desire, and I see why you think that, but do you have a plan? We don’t even know what started this. We don’t know why our kind hates each other.” He breathed out. “I just mean, if you’re going to stop the war, then you’ll need help.” Which wasn’t at all what he’d intended to say. But he didn’t take it back.
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Cloudy Sky: Seeing the name gave me flashbacks to certain events that happened about two weeks ago.
Jun 22, 2021 4:51:35 GMT -5
Violetsky: Her name is Tika. She's a Cymric, or long-haired Manx.
Jun 22, 2021 6:27:08 GMT -5
Violetsky: I left the gel pack in the freezer overnight and now it's a solid thick sheet of ice.
Jun 22, 2021 6:32:05 GMT -5
Violetsky: Cymric is the technical term for a Manx cat that has long hair.
Jun 22, 2021 13:48:50 GMT -5
Violetsky: Technically they are Manx's as well; they are not a separate breed but an alternative variety of traditional Manx's, which are short-haired. They're also called longhair Manx's.
Jun 22, 2021 13:50:11 GMT -5
Violetsky: It's okay, I thought she was a traditional Manx for a while
Jun 22, 2021 14:02:13 GMT -5
Violetsky: Well, she is. It's like if brown bears that lived further up North had thicker and longer fur than their southern counterparts. If that was true, then they would be the same species and "breed", they just have different adaptations.
Jun 22, 2021 14:02:52 GMT -5