Aided by a spirit of compassion, Nicolas searches the Fade for Julien
before bringing his lover to the cabin where he gives him a tantalising tour.
Note: Preview is SFW.
Nicolas watched the wardens and King Maric leave before turning back to face the mantle. He heard Julien hurry in.
‘They are leaving,’ stated Julien.
Nicolas said nothing. He merely stared at the hearth.
‘Nicolas? Are you going to tell me what is going on?’
Nicolas turned to face Julien. He slowly walked to him, his heart heavy. ‘They are right, Julien.’ He cupped his face and traced a finger along the man’s moustache and short beard. ‘You’re not real. This is but a dream.’
‘But you didn’t go with them?’
‘I can’t. I want to die. I’m…already dead.’
‘So you’ll stay?’
Nicolas’s brows furrowed as he searched Julien’s eyes. ‘What are you? A spirit? A piece of the demon? You cannot be Julien. How can you be Julien?’
‘I feel all that he does,’ Julien replied. ‘I love you as he did. The echoes of his love linger in your soul.’ He touched Nicolas’s face. Nicolas leaned into his hand. ‘If you want me to be him, I will stay with you and be with you.’
Julien kissed him tenderly, his tongue gliding along his. Nicolas moaned softly as his stomach fluttered, and his lips lingered on Julien’s.
After a moment, he pulled away slowly. ‘But what are you?’
‘I am a spirit of compassion.’
Nicolas’s eyes brimmed with tears. He bowed his head. ‘I cannot go back with the others, I do not wish to, and even if I did, it is too late now.’ He sighed heavily, trembling with chagrin. ‘But I want Julien, my Julien. Mon amour, Julien.’
Julien’s eyes grew sad. ‘Then let me help you.’ His gaze grew distant. ‘I know how to find him, how to find where he wanders.’
‘And then we can bring him here?’ asked Nicolas.
The spirit in Julien’s form had tears in his eyes and he took Nicolas in his arms, holding him tightly before letting go and transforming into a spirit form. He now wore Grey Warden armour, Nicolas assumed for recognition, and he shimmered with a golden-white light.
The spirit of compassion nodded to him. ‘This way.’ Its voice retained an Orlesian accent and was male but it was different, as that of a stranger’s.
Nicolas followed it away from the cabin.
‘Do not worry,’ it reassured, ‘everything here will remain as it is when we return. You have claimed this corner of the Fade.’ It smiled. ‘I have already sent a thought to other spirits for them to guard this place for you. It is your new home.’
‘I appreciate that, spirit,’ Nicolas said.
‘You may call me Compassion.’
Together they travelled through the Fade, from one area to the next, stopping to speak to other spirits from time to time. Some of them were dreamers, others had similar forms as this one, shimmering with the light of various colours.
‘How long have you existed?’ asked Nicolas, wanting to take his mind off his worry.
‘And…are you not worried my woe will corrupt you?’
Compassion chuckled and turned its head to regard Nicolas. ‘It takes something much more intense than that to corrupt a spirit.’
‘I was sent into the Fade by a demon though.’ Nicolas was grateful for the spirit’s aid and was genuinely concerned.
Compassion shook its head. ‘That is not how it works here.’ It stopped and turned to face Nicolas. ‘Do not worry yourself about me.’
They continued for another while. There was a woman who was singing vibrantly nearby. She stopped, embarrassed when she saw them. She was human, a mage, Nicolas could see. She regarded Nicolas and smiled.
‘You know it’s funny. I saw such a handsome man such as you not too long ago. Orlesian too by the looks of his moustache.’
Nicolas’s heart leapt with trepidation. ‘Dark hair, short beard, warrior?’
The woman nodded. ‘You know him?’
‘He’s my lover!’ Nicolas blurted out.
She pointed some ways ahead. And resumed her singing, more softly this time.
Nicolas quickened his pace and they came to a rise in the Fade that gave access to many other sections and platforms. His heart racing, Nicolas ran ahead. He might have been dead but his lungs burned from breathing heavily all the same. Compassion just glided along beside him, matching his speed.
Finally, they came to a cliff in the Fade. Nicolas became frantic. ‘Where do we go from here?’
Compassion placed a hand on Nicolas’s shoulder and squeezed gently. ‘Look.’
Nicolas followed its gaze and saw across a chasm another island where wandered Julien, looking this way and that as though searching yet looking forlorn.
‘Julien!’ he called out. Julien paused, looking up. ‘Over here!’
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