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Private One Moment to Fall to Pieces

G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
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10
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Appears 24
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Male
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Miqo'te
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August 10, Year 109
tag; @Asra Alnazar
Was this what the Scions had felt, he wondered, when he'd ripped them across the void between worlds and drew them to The First? Lost and confused, thrown bereft from their own lives. Only G'raha had found nobody waiting for him upon his arrival. Just unfamiliar sights and sounds in a world that matched no vistas he had ever seen. That had been three days ago. And it was that very evening, when he'd come upon a small encampment of travelers along the dirt road he'd been following, that he was given his first proper introduction to Pandora. G'raha had graciously accepted their invitation to joining them, eager to rest his tired feet, and they had told him their stories.

A story that the entirety of this world seemed to share. One that G'raha could now add to his own personal journey through life. But it was not an easy one.

The road had left the open plains and fields behind as it turned into the mountains -- the Voiceless Heights -- as he'd been told. He just needed to get through the mountain pass, and there would be a town there on the other side. One where he could perhaps find a ride to the largest city in the region, where he would be able to find out more of the world he had been dropped into. But he only had to make it there.

Make it there as the weather turned, the skies overhead growing darker. And G'raha could sense a strange static in the air, one that ushered in a far distant memory of a stormy night. And then it was upon him. Wind and wain whipping around him, as a heavy fog swirled, the Vales throwing the height of its fury at the travelers in the mountain pass that night. G'raha squared his jaw and lowered his head against the wind, moving steadily forward, step by step. His robes rustled around him, growing wet and damp as the rain fell harder. He'd long since drawn up the hood of his robe, its depth and weight keeping it low over his face as he ducked his head. He was just one small figure, struggling against the winds, leaning heavily into the staff that he used as a lifeline, just to keep him stable and moving every forward. Staff braced against the ground. One foot forward and then the other. And then the staff again. He glanced up every so often, searching the rugged landscape for some place to take shelter, but there was only that curtain of rain.

And it was a slow change. One that he noticed, somewhere in the back of his mind. But shook it off, focusing instead on the urgency of finding somewhere to escape the weather before it beat him down. But his crystalline right arm only grew heavier with each passing moment, and G'raha couldn't shake the feeling that he was losing something. What would Y'shtola see, he wondered, with those eyes of hers that could see nothing but raw aether swirling in the world?

He struggled on for another few minutes like that. His neck felt...stiff. The vein of crystal upon his face pulling at skin more than it had ever done before. G'raha swallowed heavily, and the crystal felt restrictive upon his throat. Tension grew in his limbs, his shoulders. And as he realized what was happening, the only saving grace was that he was fairly certain the crystallization had not yet reached his internal organs. But his torso felt too heavy, stiff as he tried to twist around to look back.

His staff slipped in the dirt road that had become mainly mud at this point. Slipped and fell from his grip, suddenly unable to curl his fingers tighter around it. G'raha stumbled forward a step, body feeling off balance. And suddenly he was on his knees in the mud. A sharp pull at his shoulder, and G'raha let out a gasp of pain, shaking as he clutched his crystallized arm with his flesh and blood one. But he couldn't feel that touch. Not even the muted sensations he had grown used to over the years. Nothing beyond the hardness underneath his fingers as he gripped the arm tightly. He willed it to move as he kneeled in the mud. But it just hung heavily, still as stone, at his side.

And for one moment, the Miqo'te allowed the despair and fear to wash over him. Not for the rest of the world, but for himself. Something he had never allowed himself in so very, very long. G'raha curled forward as he squeezed his eyes shut, clinging to the dead arm at his side.

Just a moment. He just needed a moment. One moment to crumble beneath the weight of the cost he had taken upon his own shoulders. Then he would recover his staff from the mud, pick himself back up and face the storm head-on as he always had. But until then, he would give himself this one moment.​
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
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28
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Pandora was certainly something. Asra taking his time as he explored the new and foreign unknown paths; pushed the bounds of the maps he was given, just to see what exactly sat beyond the edge. However, they were surprisingly - and disappointingly - thorough. Most things charted, noted, or written about to some degree.

The only place that seemed vague was that of the other realms; a place - or rather places - he was gearing up to visit. His Personal Gate just needed...repair. A heavy one at that. There was a generic connection to the Otherworld that took route in the main pool of the damaged oasis. But it was unstable. The water constantly rippling, making it unsafe to travel. He knew of - and heard of - realms within the realm, and wished to build connections to those.

He'd get there. Asra just needed to learn about the world itself, to figure out how all the pieces neatly fit together.

Then he could easily warp the little pieces to his liking, in his Gate, and create access to the Otherworld realms he wanted.

But for now, he traveled around the Crystal Vales along the Broken Alter Trail. A storm had kicked in, despite the weather appearing nearly calm moments before. Something about the air feeling...wrong. Asra quick to bundle up - keeping Faust close to his body as the temperature dropped. Fatigue quick to pull at him, telling him the storm was more than it appeared. Silently, he reached out with his magic, and it felt like pressing his hand against a pane of glass. It stopped before it started. That was usual. And uncomfortable.

Asra made a face as he felt it - feeling Faust wiggle under his clothing from his confusion.

Gone?

Faust's voice in his head even felt wrong. Their bond went beyond magic, at least, so if there was a force cancelling that, they could still communicate. And yet Asra could feel the difference. It made him feel a bit ill.

"Something about this weather, I'd guess," he frowned, before glancing up from his feet and noticing a form in the distance. They were barely visible through uncomfortable weather - causing Asra to speed up with new determination.

He got there after the form had fallen already fallen to the ground; most features hidden beneath a robe. Jaw clenching, he ducked down to scoop the form up. Asra knew it could easily be a trap, but in this weather it was at least not a magical one. Though...if people did jump out and try to kill him, he really couldn't do much of anything to defend himself without magic. Cool knife tricks to scare them away or make them clap, maybe. But outside of that? Not really much of anything.

But he wouldn't just leave this strange on the ground. It didn't feel right, even without his magic to feel out the situation fully.

"I've got you, friend" his voice hushed, as he pulled them up onto his shoulder - idly surprised when he realized how short they were. Roughly the height of Portia, he'd guess. Asra was far from the strongest person, but with about a half-foot on them, it was fairly easy to lean their weight heavily on his and half-drag them ahead.

A cave sat not far down the path. Asra quick to dart off the path with his new friend - taking refuge from the weather. He carefully sat the small-framed person down, as he sat down himself next to them. Faust slipping out of his scarf to investigate the new person, as Asra dug through his bag for supplies. Right, no magic.

He sighed, ran a hand through his hair, before glancing over at the person.

"I can find us means to make a fire in a moment. I just need a second. I think...something might be cancelled magic with the weather," he glanced over his shoulder at the front of the cave, "I'm Asra, the snake Faust. She won't hurt you," he wiggled his finger at the snake, who had decided to crawl onto their new friend's lap for warmth.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
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10
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Beneath his hood, his ears flicked this way and that, though the sound of rain crashing down drowned up whatever other noise there might have been. G'raha found his moment, took it. But he could not let is last. Not when he could feel the dampness soaking through his robe. The bare skin of his one good arm utterly chilled to the bone, without anything to protect it from the weather. He twisted awkwardly in the mud, reaching past his dead arm, to find the staff that had fallen into the mud.

He had barely found it when somebody found him. Even at the center of a terrible storm, two souls still somehow had a way of coming across each other. There was pressure at his side, a firm grip on his arm as somebody helped him up from the mud, and a murmured comfort. G'raha did not question the help as his arm was slung over the stranger's shoulder, the Miqo'te allowing his body to lean heavily against this good samaritan.

"You have my thanks," he murmured back. It was the only thing he said as together, the pair made their way off the path and to a cave that G'raha would never have found on his own.

It was hard to say that the cave was truly dryer or warmer considering he was soaked and chilled to the bone at this point. His robe had already drawn in so much rain water, it hung heavy from his shoulders, dragging him down. And he was only too grateful to find a seat there on the cavern floor.

Shivering, he pushed his sopping hood off of his head, his two furred ears twitching a little with the droplets of water they caught on the way. G'raha scrubbed a hand (his functioning hand) over his face a moment, trying to wipe the moisture away in hopes of chasing away the chill. It did little on its own though.

It was only as he felt something slithering over his lap that he looked down to find a slender white snake coiling up there. Something that made him go tense for a moment, eyes flickering up to the stranger before him. Asra, and a friendly snake it seemed. A small, if tired smile, found its way to G'raha's lips as he looked down at the snake -- Faust -- with better understanding now.

"Hello, Faust. Though I suspect the wetness of my clothing might be uncomfortable to you right now."

He held a couple of pale fingers out to Faust, just testing the waters so to speak. Meanwhile, his gaze flickered back up to the man who had helped him here.

"G'raha Tia," he said, in ways of introduction. "You have the most fortuitous of timing, my friend. I fear I would not have made it much farther on my own."

Though with the storm raging outside, and the apparent effects of that storm, G'raha suspected their troubles weren't past them just yet. And as it was, G'raha was a mess. He bent forward, mindful of the snake in his lap, to undo his sandals -- both of them caked with mud at this point. The Miqo'te grimaced and leaned back -- every movement fighting against the heavy drag of his crystallized arm, it's crystal dimmed beneath the mud and dirt that had found its way there.

"And I think you may be right about the storm. I had the same-- ah, do you mind terribly if I..." G'raha trailed off a moment, pausing with with his left arm awkwardly bent up, grasping for the clasp that held the outer red and white layers of his robe in place. A touch easier to do with his right hand, but he'd have to make do. Before G'raha had been skilled in the magical arts, he had been a scholarly historian, working out in the field, getting his hands dirty. He knew sitting here, in these soaking clothes would do his health no favors.​
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
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Ears.

Asra tried not to stare, but those ears were very distinctly cat-like. As someone who was used to blends of man and animal thanks to the realm of the Arcana, it wasn't odd to him, just new. And not something he'd typically see out of a person who seemed...normal so far. There were bits of something blue and hard, he had noticed when escorting his new friend to the cave, however. The Stars Arcana was not unlike the person sitting beside him. A vaguely humanoid person with cat-like features. He idly wondered if they held a deep connection to the Arcana - or even made a deal with them - or this was simply one of those 'Pandora things' he needed to not think too hard about.

Meanwhile Faust booped the tip of her nose against the person apparently named G'raha Tia - wanting to be pet by the hand that was offered to her.

"Don't be greedy," he cautioned the snake, who glanced over her metaphorical shoulder at him, before booping the hand again. Didn't even think any words at him. Just wanted attention from their new friend.

Definitely greedy.

Without word, Asra reached up and unlatched the clasp that G'raha was reaching for, offering the person a smile as he did, "Please shed your wet layers so you don't catch a fever," he insisted, as he started to do the same. Faust wiggled a few times in G'raha's lap before slipping off and looking up at Asra

"Faust can you go look up ahead to see if there's any dry wood deeper in the cave? A long shot but…" he shrugged.

Wood! the snake's voice telepathically dropped in the back of Asra's mind - though something about it felt louder. Was she trying to let G'raha hear her too? Look at her, being friendly. He shook his head, removing his ornate robes - testing to see if the white shirt underneath had taken any moisture. It seemed to be mostly dry at least. One kindness.

The snake disappeared into the depths of the cave, Asra feeling a touch uneasy about losing sight of her. But...it'd be alright. She'd return if she found any trouble.

"I likely have a change of clothing in my bag if you're soaked through," he offered, digging through the bag as he spoke "Though...I'd be a bit large on you, I'm afraid. But at least it'd be dry."
 

G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
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10
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Appears 24
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Male
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Miqo'te
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"Ah." There was just a touch of embarrassment on the Miqo'te's face, a redness to his cheeks, as Asra helped him with the cuff on his shoulder, but he accepted the aid graciously. His smile was sheepish as he turned his attention back to getting out of his own clothes, water still dripping from the heavy fabric. The snake had slipped from his lap, the Miqo'te's ears twitching quite independently of the rest of his body, as he heard slithering of stone, and of Asra asking his snake for aid.

G'raha was curious, and oh, there were questions. But the task of actually getting out of his robe was...a bit of a chore. He was able to undo the sash at his waist easily enough, letting it and its ornament fall away to the floor. And just a bit of shifting and pulling at fabric, and the red and white fabric that normally draped over his body fell free and into a wet pile to his side. His ears flicked in Asra's direction at the offer of a change of clothes. "That would be..." A pause and a grimace as he shifted unsteadily onto his knees. His right arm, still filthy, hung utterly still and useless at his side, while he worked with his left to drag the robe up his body.

He was, notably, not left-handed.

There was a notable stiffness to his movements, whenever he tried to turn his head, or twist his torso. That was new. While his crystallization had cost him some flexibility, it had never restricted him to this degree. As he dragged up the robe, only his small-clothes saving his some semblance of modesty, the cause of the stiff movements became clearer. And there, on display, was the full extent of the Exarch's crystallization. Hard matter, with rough and sharp edges, utterly lacking the smoothness of skin. The blue reflected what little light there was in the cavern, covering the entirety of his right side, from his hip and up, encroaching onto his chest around his left pectoral, and then crawling over his collarbones. The veins traveled up both sides of his neck, that final bit of growth on his cheek.

G'raha fought with his useless arm, jaw set in frustration, and not a small amount of embarrassment. Not from the nudity anymore, but the struggle as he finally managed to yank the bundle of fabric over his head and, at long last, drag it all down his right arm. It was perhaps a blessing that he did not favor more constricting sleeves. The last of his outfit dropped with a wet flop, and he grimaced as his crystal arm settled heavily back down, tugging uncomfortably at the skin attached.

"That would be...helpful, yes," he said, sinking back down to his heels with a slow breath. The Miqo'te turned his gaze towards the cave opening, if only to save himself from the looks he was surely getting. And now, without all the fabric in the way, Asra could see the red tail behind G'raha flicking back and forth just a touch, giving away the agitation he was trying to release, harmless, into the air.

"You probably have questions." It was an offer, as much as it was an admission to everything that was unnatural about him.

Though not the cat ears and the tail. Nope, that was 100% normal for G'raha. Never even something anybody where he'd come from had ever thought to question.​
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
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Aw, he was a blushy kitty.

The movement of his ears was honestly mesmerizing, though Asra was continuing to try to not get too distracted by them. When G'raha shifted to his knees, he nearly offered a hand, but thought better of it. People's pride, and all that. Instead, he averted his gaze back to his bag, digging through the pockets for his clothing. Normally he'd make light of such a situation. Point out the idle errotisim in the moment, and maybe even act on it. But this new friend seemed shy - plus neither of them were really at their best. Asra's white curls mostly flattened against his head from the moisture of the weather - and he knew that was about a quarter of his charm.

So he left it be, giving the man privacy as he sought what he was looking for.

Considering the fact Asra was avoiding having a home, all his possessions in Pandora were tucked away in the bag. A few sets of clothing that he washed as often as time would enable. He liked smelling as well as looking good, after all. So the clothing tucked away in his bag was fresh; had a slight scent that he typically held himself lingering amongst its folds. A slightly spiced aroma that he hardly even was aware of anymore.

Only when he heard G'raha's voice again, did he look over, idly surprised to see the man stripped down to his small clothes.

Tail.

Again, he tried to not stare - but the crystallization on his body pulled his gaze from the curious cat-like features. It almost seemed...painful. The cat's movements were stiff, and uncomfortable.

"It's in my nature to always have those, but first let's get you warm, alright?" he smiled, pushing himself to his feet, as he shook out the warm purple poncho-like article of clothing that was in his hands.

And half-dropped it over G'raha's shoulders; fingers delicate as he evened it out.

"That should help. And have some pants," he dumped them onto G'raha's lap, "They will absolutely be too long, but better than being bare-legged in this weather,"

He ran his hands over his own arms - the sleeves of his dry shit only going about three-quarters of the way down.

Asra unceremoniously plopped himself back on the ground, stretching out his legs that were already feeling a bit stiff from the cold. His gaze rising to the depths of the cave, surprised Faust wasn't back yet. Retrieving the red scarf his mother had made him when he was a child from his bag, he wrapped it around his neck to give himself a bit of warmth.

"So you're a cat," he began, crossing his legs together, and leaning on his knee with his elbow, "Since I don't recognize you, I assume it has nothing to do with the...Star Arcana?" he asked, deciding to just not bring up the rocks quite yet.

Baby steps.
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
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10
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Miqo'te
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As purple fabric was draped over his shoulders, G'raha lifted his gaze to find Asra smiling down at him. And he was reminded in that moment how fortunate he was to have stumbled across somebody so kind-hearted in that moment. Others might not have been so willing to help. Or, worse, happy to take advantage of a traveler so down on his luck. Though he had little of worth on him beyond the staff he ever carried at his side. But then again, G'raha had always believed in the kindness of people. Of their willingness to help, even when all seemed hopeless.

The same was true even here, so far from home.

He was warmer already, with the fabric warm on his shoulders and chest. And after yet another thank you -- he would definitely have to find a way to pay Asra back for all he was offering -- he fumbled, one-handed with the pants, shifting and squirming to pull them on. Thankfully, his crystallization had not yet reached his legs. It took a couple of minutes, G'raha never daring to reach out and ask for help as he struggled into those pants one-handed. But eventually he pulled them into place, though left them loose at his hips and low in the back -- there was no hole for his tail, after all.

But it was suitable. And as he sank back down to the ground, he was much, much warmer. Warmer and even dryer, his red hair damp still, but no longer dripping down his back, at least. He reached behind his head until his fingers found the narrow braid, and gave it a bit of a squeeze, just to try and force whatever water still clung to fall free.

And then he sat with his legs crossed, good hand curled in the fabric of the poncho. His body seemed to naturally lean to the right -- towards the heavy crystallization. But finally they were warm. And could talk.

G'raha blinked at Asra's observation, eyebrows rising up. And then a small chuckle. Such a simple balm to the stress and frustration that had plagued him from the moment the rain first began to fall.

"That...was not what I was expecting," he admitted, eyes crinkling as he smiled. "But I suppose my features aren't exactly common here, so perhaps I should have expected it." Amusement danced in his eyes, tail finally falling still, curled forward on the floor. "I'm a Mithra." And then he paused, shaking his head. "A Miqo'te, rather. In the world I arrived in Pandora from, my people are known as Mithra. But in the world I was born to, we're called Miqo'te." It was strange, being able to fall back to words that he had not been able to use for 100 years.

He tipped his head slightly, lips pursed in thought. "I'm...not familiar with the Star Arcana. Which I suspect is different from the arcana present in my world -- used for divination and magics drawn from the heavens." Still, G'raha had his own questions.

"But what of your snake, Faust? The way you spoke with him and he went off, I suspect your bond is closer than that of a man and his animal companion."
 
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G'raha wasn't expecting that.

Asra smiled warmly at the surprise on the man's face, "Hopefully it doesn't come across as a rude question," he added, tilting his head to the side slightly, as G'raha filled him in on the details.

He silently listened - propping up his chin with both hands, as he leaned on his crossed legs. A loose wet curl idly dripping onto his pants, but he ignored it. It was a bit strange that G'raha used what was apparently an outdated term for his race.

"Call them Mithra then. I promise I won't know any better, and you seem more comfortable with the term," a slight shrug of his shoulders.

It was refreshing to hear he had no association with the Star Arcana. Asra was rather liking G'raha, and didn't really feel like handling another Lucio situation at the moment. Plus if that was the truth, he'd have to wait until the storm passed before actually trying to fight this person. The thought was exhausting on its own; quickly dismissed with the lack of understanding of what Asra meant in the first place.

"Similar idea, just different Arcana I imagine," he vaguely stated, before the question turned to Faust.

There was a risk in telling G'raha his connection to the snake, and yet he didn't feel his tongue still when he shifted slightly to explain, "She's my familiar," he explained, as the snake reappeared dragging a stick, before quickly slithering away to gather more. Asra quietly laughed and shook his head, before returning his attention to G'raha.

"I've had her since she was nothing but a little egg. She's tied deeply to my magic; which makes her essentially an extension of myself. We can communicate telepathically because we're so innerlinked, though she can talk to others she feels the need to, or people I'm rather close with," a fond smile on his lips, as his gaze continued to be trained on where she had just headed off again.

Refocusing on the single piece of wood she had retrieved, he laughed to himself again, before pushing himself to his feet, "You try to warm up more, I'm going to speed up this process."

He walked into the darkness of the cave - continuing to feel that active block of the storm blocking his magic. Asra hated it. Absolutely hated it. But at least the company was lightening his mood.

Spotting Faust coiling herself around a piece of wood that was far too large for her to heft, he picked up log and snake alike, before awkwardly piling on a bit more. It was simply debris pushed against the back of the cave; likely blown in from other storms.

Nothing ominous like a still-set-up-camp or anything.

Wandering back, he placed the pile of wood where the other sole stick lay. Faust uncoiling from the log, and up his arm; quick to dive under her favorite scarf.

Warm!

"I know, I know," his voice quiet, as he patted the lump on his neck that was his clingy snake, before fishing out flint and steel from his bag. Typically he could easily set a fire with magical means, but he carried the items for when he was far too tired. Normally he tried to not push himself far enough to be that dangerously low on energy…

But it happened.

He silently got to work, until the flame caught - Asra using the large log Faust had tried to drag as a stick to stoke the flame.

"You can ask more questions if you'd like. Or shall I take a turn?"
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
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Appears 24
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It was strange really. It wasn't so much that he preferred the term Mithra. But that was just what his people were known as on The First. And it had been so long since he had been able to acknowledge anything from his life before. He did not regret his decision to seal the crystal tower, or carry it across dimensions. And home was so long ago, but still he looked fondly back on those days. Back when things had been far simpler than the grand plots stretching across worlds that he had orchestrated.

But he didn't push it. No, merely settled back, the two of them trading some small bit of information on Arcana, and then on the nature of Faust. His ears and then his eyes flickered over to the snake as he slithered back in, just as the conversation turned to him. G'raha had to stifle a smile, the snake working so hard for one tiny stick that would not be enough for their fire.

"I've never heard of such a connection before. Not to the extent I'm beginning to imagine, at least." And perhaps another mage, one so intrinsically interested in the inner workings of aether and how such a joining of the souls might function. But G'raha found himself leaning perhaps a bit more wistfully towards the effect, rather than the cause. "It must be a great comfort, to have a companion ever at your side. Your other half, if you would excuse the rather inept phrase."

He tugged the fabric a little closer to his chest, fingers brushing over the crystallized skin hidden just out of sight.

No matter how happy he was to sit and speak with another after the past few days, G'raha was a bit relieved that Asra put it upon himself to fetch the rest of the firewood. But still, one more thought slipped out as Asra stepped by him.

"I do think I prefer Miqo'te, though." No reasoning or explanation. Just a simple realization, and affirmation.

By the time Asra returned, G'raha had sank himself a bit deeper into that poncho. Even managed to draw his useless arm up and over his lap, resting it on his thigh instead of dangling like a dead weight. It took a bit of the strain off his shoulder, at least. He lifted his head as Asra returned, catching just a glimpse of that white snake tail vanishing into the man's scarf.

When the flame flickered to life, G'raha instinctively shifted closer to the fire, aching to draw in its warmth, to chase away the chill of the storm that still howled just beyond the entrance to the cave. He reached out from beneath the fabric, letting his flesh and blood hand warm itself by the fire.

"How about we make it a bit of a game?" he suggested, tone light, ears perking up just a touch. "For every question I ask, you get a question in return. Which, if I recall, makes it your turn to ask once again."
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
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Asra nodded, then fell quiet to G'raha's comments about Faust. There was another that was quite-literally his other-half. Asra's hand falling over his heart at the thought. The reminder. After that little chat with Julian, he had learned it was possible for the Apprentice to fall back into what they once had; despite the fact Asra himself had seen quite the opposite in his own timeline. Just yet another unsavory thought to quickly be dismissed before it could take route.

As he pushed himself to his feet and wandered off to get wood - he nearly missed the soft comment from G'raha. He paused in his step, glancing over his shoulder at his new friend.

"Then Miqo'te it is."

With the fire lit, Asra watched G'raha out of the corner of his eye - idly making sure he wasn't worse off then he was letting on. His posture was far more relaxed than it was earlier - reaching up to warm a hand near the flame. He'd be alright, most likely. Asra was far from a doctor, but with enough time around Julian, he had learned to pick up on little signs that people were unwell.

Asra gracefully shifted a bit closer so their sides were nearly touching, as G'raha offered the idea of a game. He knew it probably seemed a bit forward, but with limited wood and the weather cancelling the magic, they'd be in danger if they didn't at least slightly utilize body heat.

A smile further warmed his features in the fire-light, as Faust poked her head out just next to his neck - watching the conversation and both of them with interest.

"I accept your terms," he nodded, adjusting his scarf slightly to cut the cold a bit more - allowing the over-sized material to hang low across his body, "Hmmm...what to ask next...what to ask next? How about...where were you headed in this weather? I think you were out in it far longer than myself."

Asra stoked the flame a bit as she spoke, only raising his gaze up at G'raha as he reached the end of his words.
 

G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
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10
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Appears 24
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Male
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Miqo'te
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There were so few he'd allowed close over the years. Not out of lack of desire to form those close bonds -- he'd never been afraid of touch in his youth -- but out of a duty to carefully laid plans, 100 years in the making. And for the inevitable sacrifice he would need to make, and all the people he would be leaving behind.

And so, as Asra sat close, G'raha couldn't deny that it felt...nice. Nice to bond. To share in some companionable conversation, where it wasn't about the end of the world or other mistakes that needed to be fixed. For a moment, he found himself trying to clasp his hands together. Only to remember that one was non-responsive. He curled his fingers lightly in the fabric draped over him instead -- a poor replacement for a lingering nervous habit.

But he turned his attention instead to the game, smile only widening as he saw Faust there, watching the game with just as much interest.

The smile turned mischievous, gaze playful as he watched the rain fall in the distance. "I wasn't heading anywhere in this weather, as you plainly saw." G'raha's ears flicked as he moved to lean forward on his knee -- only to pause halfway through the attempt, fighting the pull at his side. He settled back into his original position instead.

"But I'm in a charitable mood, and that was only the first round. Before the storm, I was trying to make it through the mountain pass. I heard there's a village just beyond, where I might find a ride to...ah...Cascade Bay, I believe it was?"

G'raha's voice was light, only good-natured teasing. "You should take more care with your words next time."

But now it was G'raha's turn. He thought about it a moment, eyes thoughtful. "From what I've been told, nobody in this world is native to Pandora. Knowing what you do now, any advice you might have given yourself as a new arrival?"
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
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28
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Asra's gaze widened a bit in surprise, before his eyes narrowed as a smirk captured his lips. G'raha had caught him off-guard with that little comment. More a spark to this person then he had originally thought. Then again, he did find the man half-dead. Anything beyond a silent borderline corpse was going to seem colorful.

Asra watched his ears flick with the comment - smile growing a bit wider.

He attempted to not pull focus to the fact he had been noticing the many minor struggles that seemed to be troubling G'raha when it came to the crystallization. The question would rise, eventually - but starting there just seemed mean. Even then, he'd word it carefully. It seemed...like an uncomfortable thing to deal with.

Asra nodded as the gaps were filled in. Walking through the mountain pass to get to Cascade Bay. He had been there a handful of times himself, though that wasn't quite his goal. Honestly, he didn't really have a destination in mind - and never really did. It was part of his wandering; never really an end point, just following a fleeting feeling.

"I really should be," he nodded, as Faust readjusted yet again. Her tail slipped out of his sleeve and down his arm - loosely taking hold around his thumb. Snout disappearing for a few harrowing seconds, before just the very tip of it reemerged just under his chin. Asra booped it once with his finger, causing her tongue to dance in the air for longer than usual.

"Lesson learned," he winked, before threading his fingers together - the fire popping loudly as G'raha asked his question. It was a bit broader then he was expecting. General, instead of probing.

"Hmmm, he rolled his shoulders a bit in thought - feeling stiff, if he was honest with himself, "Well, if there's anything you wanted to do back home but couldn't, now is the time. There's no...obligations here, no fate, no destiny, no anything you don't want there to be," his voice a bit far away, "Enjoy yourself, and avoid freezing to death in storms if you can help it. There's not always going to be a handsome magician with a snake to give you a hand," he offered yet another wink, with a quiet laugh, as he grabbed the thick log to stoke the flame with, "Right, my turn," he studied G'raha yet again, before returning his attention to the flame, "May I touch your ears? Or would that be weird?" a mischievous smile settling on his lips, as he cast G'raha a side glance, "They look rather soft."
 
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G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
Posts
10
Age
Appears 24
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Male
Species
Miqo'te
Alignment
Neutral Good
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Single
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They were on the same page now, the nature of the game clear to them both. That spark in G'raha's eyes said it all. No more taking it easy on Asra. It was, perhaps, a meaningless game. A little something to make the evening just that touch more interesting, as the back and forth questions served as an excellent ice breaker. G'raha cocked his head slightly, watching as his unexpected companion mulled over that question.

One to get more of a read on the type of person Asra was. And perhaps to learn a little something about how to better handle his own present, from someone else's past. It might have been years since he had called himself such, but G'raha had never truly given up his roots as a historian. And so he listened. Listened and learned, gaining some small insight into what made Asra tick.

And a bit more of his own uncertainty as well. G'raha's eyes grew distant, hand sliding over, lightly running over the crystal arm. A constant reminder of all he had given up, and everything he had set out to do. What to do, with infinite possibilities ahead, when you had spent so long looking ever at only one. His tail swayed a touch beside him, the tip flicking back and forth, ever a betrayal of his thoughts if anyone knew how to read it. And incidentally flicked once or twice against Asra's hip.

He was drawn from his thoughts by the teasing turn in Asra's voice, focusing in on him just in time to catch the wink and words, and G'raha felt the heat that was not at all the fire warm his cheeks. "While I can't make any promises -- predicting the weather is a bit beyond my skillset after all -- I do count myself as quite fortunate. Else we might have simply passed each other, with little more than a pleasant word," he said, ducking his head just a touch, if only to hide that momentary fluster.

He was far more used to his title granting an innate respect, if appropriate distance, between himself and the people he tried so hard to serve.

When was the last time anybody had flirted with him? Or perhaps he was mistaking simple friendly banter for something more.

Then, once again, Asra surprised him with his question. G'raha's head snapped up, eyes wide, cheeks even redder if at all possible. "My, uh...you want to touch my ears?" he echoed. Though yes, he had indeed heard Asra clearly. The man raised a hand instinctively to his red ears, the tip flicking automatically with the slight touch. "Are they that remarkable?"

It was astonishing, and perhaps a bit odd. His features had never been anything to cause such fascinating. Except maybe for his gender, wandering around out in the world. He'd left the ways of his birth tribe even longer ago.

But after a moment, G'raha smiled, if it a bit sheepishly. "I suppose so. Though I don't remember when somebody last touched my ears." His voice fell to a low murmur, but the Miqo'te acquiescing that unexpected request with a tip of his head towards Asra. "Do be gentle."
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
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If Portia's cat Pepi and G'raha had anything in common, that tail was giving more away then his expression ever would. He kept an eye on it out of the corner of his vision; a few flicks as Asra idly mentioned escaping what their old worlds had in store for them. The tail even brushed against him once or twice, as G'raha gently touched his crystallized arm. It really was beautiful, wasn't it? He was earlier making a point to not pay too much attention to it in detail. It was sad that something so beautiful could cause as much discomfort as it seemed to be. The question about it continuing to burn on the back of his tongue. But no, not quite yet. It wasn't his turn.

Asra felt proud as G'raha flushed at his words. His smile reflecting as much, as he made a quiet pleased hum in agreement; quietly noting how easily flustered G'raha was, complete with a little head duck at his attempt to flirt back. It was cute.

"I like this too." he simply agreed, using his stick to push one stubborn log a bit closer to the hungry flames.

The flush only grew warmer at Asra's question, making him feel almost bad, but not really. If the floor was open to questions, he was going to ask if he could touch those ears. If G'raha said no, he would gladly never ask again, and move on. It was as simple as that.

"And that counts as your question," he leaned on his hand as he spoke, watching G'raha with half-lidded eyes, "Yes, yes, they are."

He hadn't expected him to say yes. Hadn't expected G'raha to tilt his head towards him, to make access even easier. It was his turn to be slightly flustered - quietly glad the other's head was inclined for easy ear-petting access.

Asra reached forward, before hesitating. Taking a deep breath, he carefully ran a finger over G'raha's ears - tracing them delicately, before growing a bit more confidant, and actually pet them.

It was soft.

He cleared his throat, pulling his hand away after his little indulgence, "My turn, then? I'll accept a pass if you're prefer I ask something else, of course. But do all Miqo'te have the rock-candy crystallization?" he tilted his head slightly as he spoke - taking a chance.
 

G'raha Tia

Final Fantasy
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10
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Appears 24
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Male
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Miqo'te
Alignment
Neutral Good
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Once more he found his eyes widening in surprise, and then that quiet amusement. "Fair enough, though you did catch me by surprise." Shame, he had intended to make that question count.

Were they flirting? Was G'raha attempting to flirt back? And was G'raha actually kind of enjoying it?

Yes, he decided. Yes he was. A bit of harmless fun.

And maybe that was what let him fall over that strange divide, and tip his head, furry ears and all towards Asra. Honestly, the fascination utterly baffled him. It wasn't like the round ears of Hyurs, pointed ears of Lalafell and Elezen, or the even rarer, rabbit-like ears of the Viera had ever given him any sort of fascination. Certainly never heard of anybody asking to touch another's ears before.

But it was an interesting little experience, and G'raha decided he did not wish to shy away from them. Plus, maybe the flirting helped.

His ears flicked at that first light touch of a finger -- an instinctive reflex that he focused on stilling. He could not see Asra through his curtain of hair, not with the way his head was tipped. But he felt the gentle tracing of a finger, ruffling the sensitive skin that was tuned to pick up shifts in temperature, air, and the slightest of sounds.

His hand ran absently over the unforgiving crystal of his arm, a touch sheepish, that warmth still dancing in his cheeks, but not truly bothered.

It was...strangely comforting, actually. How long had it been since he'd shared a quiet moment with anyone?

But with those last pets, Asra put distance between them again and G'raha sat up straight, brushing back his hair, just a little self-conscious. But that smile still quirked his lips as he looked back towards Asra.

His next question.

"I must admit, this was the first question I thought you would ask." G'raha looked down at his crystallized arm. Most of it had been obscured by the fabric at this point, but some of that blue crystal still shown where the garment did not quite reach. "Though I do not recommend trying to eat it. It would prove a most unpleasant experience."

His words were light, eyes shining with laughter. But his tail flicked behind him, and G'raha was merely buying time. All while he tried to decide just how much to reveal.

Decision made, he shifted, trying to turn a bit more fully towards Asra, within their little circle of warmth. It was an effort, the Miqo'te using his good hand to brace himself against the ground as he turned, arm heavy, his upper body ever leaning towards the right.

"I wasn't born like this, no. It was but a small cost for the choices I've made," he said, brushing right past that. He pulled the fabric back a little, revealing the full extent of the crystallization up as far as his elbow. Leather bands that matched those on his right arm were embedded in the crystal, as if the crystallization had grown right over them.

"Truthfully, it doesn't normally cause me such trouble. But as you noticed, the storm tonight...It seems to have depleted the crystals of their natural flow of aether." The Miqo'te paused, gaze flickering towards Asra. "The magical energies, rather. Or...perhaps merely made them gone stagnant." For a moment, the Miqo'te grew silent, thoughtfull as he rolled over those possibilities. But he seemed to remember himself after not too long, waving his hand dismissively. "Exact cause aside, the effect is plain." G'raha, brows pulled down, jaw tight, pushed his arm lightly from his lap.

It dropped like a stone, hitting the ground with a solid thunk.

"It's little more than a dead limb now." And G'raha, though he did not voice it, was worried that even once the storm abated, the flow of aether would not return.​
 
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Asra Alnazar

The Arcana
Posts
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28
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Non-Binary (he/them)
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Human
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Fortune Teller
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Asra softly smiled at the recognition that G'raha thought it would be where Asra started, "Both your destination and ears were more pressing matters," he shrugged - quickly falling silent again, as his companion made a joke about not eating it, after Asra's rock candy comment.

There were an assortment of lewd comments that danced on the tip of his tongue, but while his lips parted, he softly undid the action and silenced himself. There was no need to be so crass at the moment. Things were gentle, calm, and sort of beautiful in a way. How often did he find himself in such a scenario that he so-often sought out on his travels? Things like this were exactly why he wandered. If he stayed in one place, he'd know everyone; things would become mundane and familiar. When he kept moving, there were always new people. Not so much...crowds, but the one-on-ones that he enjoyed. Craved, even.

So, no, Asra didn't sully the moment. Instead, he just listened.

Cost for the choices he made. It was like listening to himself in a way. He chose not pushing further on the matter, with how quickly G'raha moved on. Perhaps it would come up again organically, or perhaps it would remain one of life's little mysteries.

G'raha pulled back the purple fabric of the poncho; Asra not being shy about studying it this time. There appeared to be something trapped in the crystal as well; as if they had grown over some leather straps that were once harmlessly sitting on top of flesh. Asra tore his gaze away as G'raha continued - mentioning how this was usual. Essentially the storm was causing the natural flow of magic to cease, the limb essentially...dead.

Asra's gaze followed it hitting the ground, an idea brewing in the back of his head.

"I see," voice quiet, before he turned back to his bag, and began digging - his movement slow and steady in order to not wake Faust, who was likely asleep at this point. Locating a long band of cloth, he scooted on his knees behind G'raha.

"If the limb is dead-weight until we can get some magic flowing through it again, let's at least make it easier to handle," his touch soft, as he gently pulled back a bit more of the poncho from G'raha's crystallized arm - wrapping the band of cloth around it in a few key spots, before looping it around his neck. Making sure to keep it loose yet sturdy, he secured it with an easy to release knot behind his neck, before resettling next to him; legs crossed, and smile on his lips.

"That should help. I have a...friend who's a doctor. You pick up a few things when you're around people enough," his gaze dropped for a moment, before he cleared his throat, and bumped his knee again G'raha, "Still your turn for the next question."

 
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Justin McCay VERSUS Luke Skywalker:
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