Belkar fought his way through the crowd with difficulty. Since the prince had been attacked the crowd had begun surging towards him, which in turn made it more difficult to advance. He grumbled under his breath irritably "Had I known human bodies were an option I would have taken it as my favored terrain…"
Finally managing to break free of the packed bodies, Belkar looked about. He cursed his low Track skill and instead found he had to rely on his nose. Thankfully he knew the elf's scent inside and out and recognized it almost instantly. Narrowing his eyes, he scowled upon the distinct smell of the human they were chasing.
He smelled foul, body laced in a chemical stench like too much cologne. It was disgusting, and Belkar felt like gagging. He hated the fellow the moment he saw them grab Vaarsuvius. It didn't help the bastard was staring him down as he danced with the elf. He seemed to have pissed off after Belkar held the elf possessively, seeming to get the hint.
Having a special hatred for the human, he quickened his trot after the scent of bloody chemicals and magical components. The hallway opened up into a grand lobby, and Belkar looked over at the front doors, which were ajar.
Rushing out through them, Belkar blinked to adjust to the darkness. Following the distinct trail of flattened grass, he took out a dagger he had tucked away. The bitter wind stung his face and he wished he had his cloak so he could pull his hood up, or at least his gloves.
A distinct pink light fired from his immediate left, dimming back down almost instantly. Following the cue, he changed direction. It did not take him long to come upon the scene.
The wizard was locked in a fierce battle with the human, who was now armed with a spiked chain. Vaarsuvius had a nasty gash along their right arm, and a multitude of smaller cuts throughout their body. Their white robe was dirtied with dirt and blood, tainted from its original pure white. Their lips were curled in a snarl, some of their loose hair dangling in their face as they began muttering what was surely the verbal component of a spell.
Belkar growled quietly and slunk quietly around the scene until he was positioned behind the human. The wizard –too focused on combat to have noticed their companion's stealthy approach- unleashed a lightning bolt at the human. Groaning in pain as electricity racked his body, he was perfectly distracted as the halfling rushed up behind him and shoved a dagger into his back.
Vaarsuvius's face turned less fierce as they noticed the assist, though the relief was short-lived as the human whirled around – his spiked chain lashing out with a metallic whish sound. Belkar shouted in pain as the spiked chain clasped his midsection and tightened, driving the edges of the metal into his stomach and sides. The human sneered at this and yanked on the chain, tightening it further.
The metallic smell of bloody metal and sweat swelled in Belkar's nose as he tried to free himself, however grasping the chain only managed to damage his hands. The human turned back to Vaarsuvius just in time to see the elf firing a mote of magma-like fire at them. He managed to only just evade the attack, and withdrew the spiky chain from around Belkar's body. As Belkar stumbled backwards to the ground the human shot the chain out at Vaarsuvius.
The wizard's eyes widened and they flicked their hand up, yelling "ForceCage!" A pink grid-like box surrounded the human, with the spiked chain hitting the wall of it just short of Vaarsuvius.
Spatting out blood, the wizard dusted themself off and took a deep breath. The human banged on the walls of the cage with his chain furiously, but the elf ignored this and walked past. They approached Belkar, who had not yet bothered to get up, and extended a hand down at him.
Blinking in surprise, the halfling took it. Helping Belkar up, the wizard looked at his cut up sweater vest and the blood trickling down it. "I pray that wasn't a rental vest."
Belkar let out a pained chuckle and smirked. "What about you, you look like shit."
"Thank you." They deadpanned, brushing a stray strand of hair out of their face. "I take it you have stabilized the noble?"
"Yeah." He nodded, then looked over at the caged human, who was still hacking away at the bars and shouting angry threats that fell on deaf ears. "He give you much trouble?"
"Do you wish to imply his challenge rating of four was too high for me to overcome?" The elf's eyes narrowed.
"Okay, I'm pretty sure it wasn't four." Belkar raised an eyebrow. "Now what, we gonna leave him here?"
"I am unsure. Instructions were to simply prevent the noble's murder. We have accomplished our task as is." They looked back at the human with lowered ears, eyes cold with malice.
"Well then nobody will know if we kill him in cold blood now, will they?" He sneered, approaching the ForceCage.
"Bitterleaf." Vaarsuvius's voice followed him. "You need not, I will simply contact the remaining members of our party and they shall decide his fate."
"C'mon, Ears, aren't you even a little mad? This guy tried to take you a-" He stopped himself quickly, the words catching in his throat as he realized what he had almost said.
"I did not take kindly to his advances on my person, though should that be a sentence for death I find you would already be deceased."
Shutting his eyes and growling under his breath, he had to admit the wizard had a point. But that was different, he told himself. That human had no right to come onto Vaarsuvius like that. To claim them.
They were his.
Looking over at the elf he took a moment to check them. They looked tired and worn out, yet still retained their grace. Their injuries were starting to take their toll, as the wizard's eyes were dulling and closing. Vaarsuvius was teetering ever so slightly, and they were unusually drained of color.
Belkar's gut felt like it had an ice block in it. Or maybe that was the internal bleeding he was suffering as a result of that chain. Regardless, his face softened for a moment. "Hey. You okay?"
Vaarsuvius looked slightly surprised at the question and blinked a couple of times, seemingly to focus them. "Well… You can clearly see my various wounds, but I shall live. I appreciate your assistance."
"We should get Durkon to take a look at you before you pass out."
"I can assure you, I am perfectly capable of…" The wizard's eyes fluttered shut and Belkar had to rush forward to catch them as they teetered over to one side and gravity began to take them.
Belkar lunged forward and caught them carefully against his chest, his cheeks heating up as the wizard gasped in his ears. Belkar took the elf by the shoulders and lowered them to the ground gently so they would be in a more stable and safe position. "Hey, I thought you said you were good!"
"I am …perfectly…" They murmured incoherently.
Belkar cursed. The elf must have lost more blood than he thought. Then again, their arm was pretty much in two. With a sigh he wriggled his arm under the elf's legs and supported their head against his shoulder. He stood up, holding the elf bridal style, and looked back one more time to the captive human.
He felt a thin fist hit his chest weakly. Looking back down he saw Vaarsuvius with barely opened eyes protesting to be put down. "I have informed you, I am perfectl-"
"No you're not. Now shut up and let me handle this." He shot back, readjusting his grip and –ignoring the agonizing pain in his stomach- set off back towards the wedding. The elf continued their protests, but now –too weak to speak audibly- they resorted to lifting an arm and holding onto his ear in what would be an attempt to pull it if it wasn't such a pathetic attempt.
It didn't bother Belkar, if barely pulling his ear was his punishment he considered himself lucky. Eventually the elf let their arm fall and Belkar tucked it over their chest.
The elf was so light, it was incredible. Maybe he was just imagining it, but it almost felt like they were curling up in his arms. They were so vulnerable, so… fragile. He almost wished he had some gum to stick in their hair, but just almost. There was something about this… it felt like Vaarsuvius was trusting him. Trusting him to protect them. Trusting them to keep them safe.
Trusting him with their life.
Swallowing the lump that formed in his throat at that, he cradled the elf a little closer. He could have sworn he heard a small moan of content from the elf, but upon looking down at them he found they were fast asleep. Perhaps he was suffering a little bit of loopiness from his blood loss too.
If the elf had passed out that meant he didn't have much time left. He quickened his pace and was relieved to see the lights of the event in the distance.
"Thar he be!"
Belkar looked over at the sound of a familiar –if obnoxious- voice. Durkon hobbled over with widened eyes. "Thor's beard, what 'appened ta ye?"
"We kicked ass, as usual." Belkar shrugged, suddenly realizing that he would have to put Vaarsuvius down and stalling to delay the moment he would have to release the warm bundle of robes curled up against his chest.
"C'mere, lad. Lemme heal ye." Durkon held out his holy symbol and cast Heal Moderate Wounds on Belkar, then Cure Critical Wounds on Vaarsuvius.
The elf's eyes flickered open slowly, and they looked up to meet Belkar's eyes in confusion. After a moment that confusion turned to shock and the wizard realized their compromising position curled up contently in Belkar's arms. Quickly turning their head to look at Durkon, they paled.
"Ye alright, lass? Er, lad?" Durkon didn't seemed put off at all by their reaction.
"Y-Yes." The elf eventually managed to choke out.
"Good. I'll get Roy 'n the others and go git that man. Ye need to rest."
"V…very well." Vaarsuvius looked dazed still.
Durkon headed off in a rush, armor clanking as he disappeared.
The two were silent.
"So… um…" Belkar started.
Vaarsuvius looked back to him. They were being held so securely, so closely. His arms were strong and his chest broad. They almost didn't notice the way they had their hands against him. Taken aback, they blinked. "I.. appreciate your assistance." They whispered.
"Yeah." Belkar couldn't think of what to say.
Vaarsuvius's hands seemed to travel on their own as they slid up his chest and wrapped around his neck. They felt the halfling stiffen and saw his eyes widen a little. Vaarsuvius let their eyes shut and they rested their cheek against his chest. They could hear his heartbeat thump in his chest, and let out a tiny sigh, hoping the angle they were at would prevent Belkar from seeing their smile.