"They’re my children." he said, placing a small cloth over the basket. It wouldn’t really keep them from getting out, but it would provide at least a little bit of warmth from the cold sea air. He should light the wood stove too while he was at it. "They’re the only things I have close to being a father again…"
Ithnan looked to Sinbad who had his face pressed into his sheets. ”They…probably don’t smell very good, I haven’t cleaned up in here in a couple of days…” he said, blushing a little and moving to just light the wood stove for more warmth.
He says, “They smell like you,” much in the same way someone else might say “It’s just fine”. Considering he keeps them like that against his face, he doesn’t seem to find it unpleasant.
While Ithnan is busy with the stove, what limited curiosity he has gets the best of him and he stoops down by the basket, lifting the edge of the cloth to peek in on the occupants idly.
"You shouldn’t have come out here to give them to me. You should have gone to sleep." he said, taking the scythe and the doll. He turns to set them inside for the moment and turns back to Sinbad. "I said I would stay and I will. There’s nothing out there for me if I leave, only capture. I wouldn’t leave even if there was something better for me out there. I’ve accepted my fate, Sinbad."
He helps Sinbad into the small, nearly empty hut, making him to sit on the bed. ”Get yourself warm and go to sleep.” he said, moving the snakes to a large basket for them to sleep in.
"No," he murmurs, but it’s not clear what, exactly, the protest is against. He watches Ithnan tend to the snakes almost vacantly, before he continues on, quietly. "You really love them… Don’t you?
You’re more concerned for them, than yourself.”
He vaguely begins to realize the bed he’s been sitting on smells like Ithnan. By the time he’s being looked at again, he’s absently picked up the sheet and is holding it to his face, bunched up, inhaling.
It was hard for him to really sleep even though he was very tired and there was shuffling outside and someone mumbling to themselves. He pulled himself up, ready to just tell whatever intoxicated citizen was wandering around the streets to go home. He didn’t expect to find Sinbad.
"…Why are you wandering about, Sinbad? It’s cold and late…why aren’t you in bed…why are you wandering around with my scythe…?"
He finds himself realizing he hadn’t noticed the chill. Regarding Ithnan with dull, yellow eyes, he extends the staff and doll to him.
"These are… Yours," he says, trying to explain himself. "Now you don’t have to come back." He looks tired in this dim light, his eyes rimmed with shadows. The toll that the curse has taken on him — both physically and emotionally — is painfully obvious. "You don’t deserve to suffer."
Ithnan rubs his sore hip for a moment before curling up in the dimly lit room. His fingers stroke along the scaly backs of the snakes who slither up to him. There is certainly no place for him to go. Leaving would be worse than staying in the sort of situation. He said he wasn’t going to anyway. He had realised that he had left the doll with Sinbad, perhaps he would put him out of his misery. There was nothing left for him in this world either.
"I don’t know… Where to even begin."
Ithnan must still be somewhere on the island, without his staff. And while Sindria was small compared to most nations, it was still a sizable island. Even if he did pass Ithnan’s hiding spot by, how would he know?
"I suppose I… Didn’t… Plan this out, well."
"Go to sleep, Sinbad." he said, leaving the room to return to his hut. It’s likely he would return again that night. He was tired and distressed and he hadn’t been as depressed as he was in such a long time.
He pushed opened the door, closing it behind him. He hadn’t thought about how difficult it was to walk without his staff. His hip sort of ached from walking back and forth without it. He gently picked up the snakes, placing them in a safe place on the bed so he could lay down with them.
After Ithnan has left, Sinbad remains sitting like that for some time, eyes staring ahead but not really focused on anything. He tries to will himself to feel something, anything: indignation, sadness, relief… Something.
But even after what feels like it must be hours of this, nothing comes to him. He finds himself at a loss — he can’t spare even a tear for himself and what he has lost, even with the desire to have such a reaction to it all.
Eventually, he stands, moving to the cabinet. He unlocks it, retrieving Ithnan’s scythe. The magician will be needing it, and perhaps his hold on it is the only reason Ithnan is still humoring him like this. It must be; he’s as useless now as he’s ever been, he considers as he leaves his bed chamber with the weapon and fragile, gilded doll in his grasp, exchanging his turban for a much more inconspicuous cloak. He finds himself remembering being called such a thing before. Supposedly, it had always been in jest, in helpless frustration. He had always smiled, but it still had stung. It doesn’t, this time around.
The king sets to wandering the streets, not sure where he intends to end up. But maybe, if he returns these to Ithnan, he can put an end to this terrible state they’ve found themselves in and allow the magician to go free.
"Growing up doesn’t mean closing yourself off from people and becoming bitter, choosing to be lonely so you don’t get hurt, Sinbad." he said. "You learn from your experiences and let people in, but still be cautious of them. You can do whatever it takes to protect someone or make people happy while finding happiness for yourself. Indeed that world is cruel, I wish sometimes it wasn’t made to be that way. But in destroying another unfair world, I got to spend one or two chances with someone I love more than anything." he stood from Sinbad’s lap.
"I must go tend to my snakes now, they’re probably wondering where I went."
He looks up after Ithnan blankly. “Alright.”
He then looks back down, directly forward, toward the wall. “I will be waiting here, when you have need of me.” His hands rest in his lap, perfectly mirroring one another as they lay there; that perfect sort of regal posing he’s likely used to doing on instinct, by this point.
Hi, if anyone’s wanting a starter from my new followers today, just give my rules a quick read and with that info in mind, feel free to ask for a thread!
He looked down and nodded. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t been in a situation where he had unrequited love before. It was very much like how it was when he was Solomon’s subject. He just had to go about his life as if there was nothing wrong again.
"Yes…" he said. "I will be fine…and…I’ll make sure you are protected…and Sindria’s protected…"
Sinbad reaches up, holding Ithnan’s face gently. His thumb presses into the other man’s lips ever-so-slightly, feeling the give in them as it strokes to the side. He can still remember the sensation, vaguely.
"You… Used to be… You were like that sun, to me."
His voice is just above a whisper. “It did… All hurt. I wept. I ached. I wondered what I had done wrong. I felt like… Such an idiot. So I would be lying if I were to say this wasn’t what I had wished for.”
He regards Ithnan with dull, sulfur-yellow eyes.
"I wanted to be like this. I grew up, but never really learned how to close off my heart from unwanted pain. I never learned how to protect myself by hating others. I took on too much and became this.
This many be what I need to be, to survive.”
"I…I didn’t want them coming after you like they already had…you were so young and you deserved a long life…I wanted to be with you so bad…I wanted to hold you and love you and show you all the happiness in the world…but instead I chose to keep away so that you could be safe…I didn’t have faith in my ability to fend those people off and protect you. I wasn’t that powerful magician from Alma Toran anymore.
But I never stopped loving you. And here I granted my selfish desire to make you black like me so I could be close to you and not feel so pained…but I…I took away your ability to feel anything…and any feelings you might have had for me…and now…I can’t think of living another day alone…inside some dark place…or somewhere else without you…
I know it isn’t a good excuse…any of it…I hurt you then and I continued to hurt you…it’s all my fault…”
"You’ll just be the only one who knows, again," he says quietly.
"If you’re willing to stay here and fight — I’ve learned how to manipulate magoi, and hide the disruption in my aura. No-one has to know but you and I; it’s not as if faking smiles is a new thing for me, either.
You can stay by me as long as you like, as long as you are willing to tolerate me like this; as I am now. Will you be able to?”