"That's the entrance, there." Garth pointed quietly, his expression closed.
The Spire was massive. Of course, Reaver had always known it was big, but seeing it this close was another thing entirely. It seemed to stretch forever into the sky. It was overwhelming now, to consider how many people it would have taken to build in just twenty years. Reaver had been worried that his ship would be too big to sail into the Spire, but now that he saw the entrance, he realised his fears were ridiculous.
Garth had hardly spoken at all during the last 24 hours. He was now leaning against the railing by Reaver, his arms wrapped around himself protectively. He didn't look up, he didn't meet Reaver's gaze, he just stared down at the main deck expressionlessly as he struggled internally with his memories.
Leonardo shivered violently beside Reaver, his dark eyes unusually cheerless as he gazed up at the structure. "This place is evil," he whispered in Aragonian. He glanced at Reaver. "It haunts your mage." he pointed out warningly.
Reaver nodded and turned his attention to Garth. "Mage, come here." he commanded softly. But Garth shook his head, his gaze unmoving from the deck.
"Garth." Reaver tried, but Garth shook his head again, and Reaver didn't try anymore.
For the first time since the beginning of the voyage, the ship was utterly quiet. The men that came from below deck soon fell silent as they gazed around at the malignant structure, its walls dark and jagged, never-ending. They were barely inside when the sunlight seemed to just stop, creating further unease among the sailors.
"There's wretched spirits here," Kevin said, from somewhere on the main deck. "You can feel them." While Reaver thought that most sailors were overly superstitious, he couldn't help but agree with the man. Despair lingered in the air, suffocating, and the sense of suffering in this place was heavy. Thousands had died here. Reaver wondered if Sparrow might regret his wish were he to visit the Spire now.
"That sound, what is it?" Leonardo asked breathlessly. "You can feel it, you can. It pounds into your head."
Garth shook his head. "It's nothing to fear," he murmured. "But if you must get off the ship, stay close by. That sound grows more powerful the deeper you go into the Spire."
"What is it?" someone asked. Garth sighed.
"Will." he said expressionlessly. "It's trying to sap ours."
The docks were enormous; there was enough room for the ship to turn back around when they left. When they anchored, they did so uneasily, craning their necks to see beyond the stone docks. Though they were at sea level, water cascaded over what looked like a ledge, down into the abyss. What the hell was this place? Reaver was beginning to feel extremely lucky that he hadn't experienced too much of it.
Garth hesitated briefly before getting off the ship, his eye scanning over the structure. Reaver was quick to follow him, pausing only momentarily to indicate to Leonardo that he was in charge for now. Leonardo nodded, uncharacteristically grim.
Glancing over his shoulder as he followed the Mage to the main quad, Reaver wasn't surprised to see that his crew had all chosen to remain onboard. He could see that many were even retreating below deck. This place frightened them.
Garth walked a step ahead of him, his head down and his arms folded across his chest. "I never thought I would walk willingly back into this place," he murmured, a touch of bitter humour in his voice.
"How do you get deeper inside?" Reaver asked. Ahead of them, up several lots of steps, he could see the central tower, but it seemed to be separate from the rest of the building.
"Up these second lot of steps, on either side of the platform, is a Cullis Gate." Garth replied, indicating with a nod of his head. "They will take you straight to the Commandant's chamber, which gives you access to the rest of the Spire." He faltered for a moment. "We needn't worry about them, though. Lucien transported us to that central tower straight ahead, and that is where I believe Theresa will be."
"She had better have the answers we need," Reaver growled, though he knew his threats would be no use against her. She was immortal, he could tell. He could remember reading about her, many years ago: the sister of the supposedly great Hero of Oakvale. He had taken note of her ruined eyes when they first met, but it was only when Hammer said her name did it click with him who the woman really was. Why she was immortal, and not her brother, was a curious thing to Reaver.
He paused, an idea coming to him. Perhaps she could tell him about immortality? He told himself not to get his hopes up - after all, she was never exactly straightforward with the four Heroes - but he couldn't help the little excited flutter in his chest. It was the first thing other than unease he had felt since stepping foot into this place.
Up the third lot of steps was when they began to come across the bones. Skeletons of the men remained unmoved from where they fell all those years ago. Signs of clothing remained and the scent of death still lingered, though Reaver couldn't tell if he was just imagining it or not. Garth seemed genuinely surprised by the remains, his visible eye widening as he halted to stare down at them briefly. After a moment he shook his head, and continued.
The light coming from the central tower was blinding. Had it been that bright last time? Reaver didn't think so. Garth halted, staring at it hesitantly, seemingly unbothered by the light, and Reaver sighed.
"You worry like a woman." he said shortly. Garth glanced at him, taken aback, a bark of startled laughter following. Reaver grinned, thankful that his comment had been met with good humour.
The light blinded him as he stepped through the door, and he heard her before his eyes focused enough to see her.
"Welcome, Garth. Reaver."
Beside him, Garth chuckled humourlessly. "You aren't surprised." he observed darkly.
She hadn't even moved from where she had appeared all those years ago. Her hands were still held in front of her, her fingers linked together comfortably. Underneath her hood the whites of her eyes seemed to glow, as blind as Garth's and yet, eerily different as she faced them as though she could see them.
"I had a vision." Theresa's smile was enigmatic, infuriating Reaver to the point where he had to physically restrain himself from reaching for his pistol by folding his arms across his chest. There was no point in trying to kill an immortal, after all.
"How nice for you," he replied tersely. "Any other 'visions' we should know about, or are you all sighted out?" He fell silent at Garth's warning glance, though the scowl remained on his face.
"Then you know why we are here," Garth said, his voice neutral. She nodded.
"Lucien's men seek to revive him," she replied plainly. A moment passed before she spoke again. "I've seen this, and I've seen them attack you. But I do not know what I can do to help."
"Why can you see some things and not others?" Reaver complained loudly. Though he thought it a valid question, Garth silenced him with another infuriated glance.
"We were hoping you could tell us where the Guards are hiding now." he said. Reaver caught the faint note of irritation in his voice.
Theresa sounded amused when she spoke next. "Why do you expect me to know?" she asked.
Reaver clenched his teeth, fighting the urge to shoot her. Oh, he hated this woman. Blind old bat. He forced himself to grin and shrug his shoulders, even as Garth stared at her blankly.
"Oh, never mind," he said lightly, turning as if to leave. "I suppose you won't be bothered too much when Lucien tries to take this place back over, after all." He heard Theresa sigh long-sufferingly, and fought the urge to dance at her in triumph.
"Be silent," she ordered coldly. "I will search Albion for you."
I am ridiculously awesome, Reaver wanted to say, but he held his tongue and grinned triumphantly at Garth instead. Garth shook his head, a small, weak smile playing across his lips.
An eternity seemed to pass before Theresa spoke again, though Reaver was never particularly good at sitting still. He was contemplating exploring this accursed place further when she broke the silence.
"They are in Brightwood." she said heavily. She sounded exhausted, Reaver noted curiously. "Somewhere by Garth's old Tower. That is the best I can do."
"That hardly narrows it down!" Reaver protested, as Garth's posture slumped beside him. Theresa was unmoved.
"It is the best I can do," she repeated firmly. Reaver huffed irritably.
"Fine," he growled. "I have one more question, this one about your immortality." He ignored Garth's surprised glance.
"My immortality?" Theresa sounded too innocent again. Well, Reaver was more than willing to play her game this time. He shrugged, pulled out his gun and, ignoring Garth's startled exclamation, shot her. She gasped and stumbled, but she did not bleed. She did not fall.
She regained her composure fairly quickly, straightening herself up before she faced Reaver again. "What do you want to know?" she asked coldly. She was angry at being outmanoeuvred. Reaver enjoyed her games when he won.
"How you gained yours." he said simply. Garth raised an eyebrow at him, but he waved the Mage away with a quick flick of his hand. Perhaps he would explain, in time.
"Are you growing tired of having to answer to the Shadow Court?" Theresa sounded amused now. The woman's tempers changed as quickly as the ocean's. Reaver smiled tersely.
"Quite." he lied. She actually chuckled.
"I will tell you several ways of going about it." she replied. "The first is to rediscover the formula for an immortality potion created by the Old Kingdom alchemists."
"How simple, it's a wonder I never thought of it," Reaver muttered sarcastically. Theresa pointedly ignored him.
"The second is to be a descendant of the old Archons," she continued. "Though this isn't a guaranteed way. And the third is to prove yourself to the Old Gods."
"They're real?" Garth exclaimed suddenly, unease temporarily forgotten. His face had lit up with the prospect of a discovery, the way Reaver had only seen happen a few times when he worked in his study.
"Real enough to grant you immortality," Theresa said shortly, deflating his good spirits easily. Such convoluted answers were to be expected from her, and they could mean any number of things. Garth sighed softly.
"Of course." he muttered.
"There are other, darker ways," Theresa said to Reaver. "But I suppose you don't wish to know them."
Reaver cocked an eyebrow at her. "Oh? What makes you say that?" he asked curiously.
"Because I know you don't intend to use them." she replied, sounding amused, and it took Reaver a moment to realise what she actually meant. He scowled furiously, glaring at her, knowing that she knew, and hating her for it. He wished he could kill her.
"Go now," she ordered, her tone leaving no opportunity for argument. "This is your world, not mine. It is beyond my time, and of no importance to me. My place is here now."
"I'll let Sparrow know you said hello," Reaver grumbled sarcastically, gesturing for Garth to leave with him. The white light blinded him again as he turned back to the entrance.
He looked over his shoulder at her. She was unmoving, her sightless eyes seemingly focused on him. She unnerved him.
"You aren't entirely the same as you were," she said enigmatically. "But change too quickly and it could kill you. Remember that."
He stared at her blankly for a moment, waiting for her to elaborate and huffing a moment later when she didn't. He seized Garth's hand and all but pulled him from the tower, pausing only to allow his eyes to refocus on their surroundings. He ignored the crunch of bones under his feet as he marched down the stairs back to his ship, his hand still grasping Garth's tightly.
"Stone-blind bitch," he grumbled under his breath. "I wish I could smack her face off of her face."
Garth stared at him blankly, and it took Reaver a moment to realise he had spoken in Aragonian. Alternating between languages to speak with Leonardo had taken a toll on his brain, it seemed.
He was curious to explore the Spire, but he knew the delay wouldn't be appreciated. He was sure his mind could conjure up much more exciting - and bearable - images than the Spire had to offer, anyway.
The crew were antsy, and were visibly relieved when Garth and Reaver stepped back onto the ship. How long had they been gone? Ten minutes at the most, surely. Yet the men were acting as though an eternity had passed. Garth didn't utter a word, retreating quickly into their cabin. Reaver frowned.
"I'll just sail her out, it's all right," he called after his lover. He didn't receive a reply, and honestly, he hadn't expected one.
Leonardo joined him by the wheel. "Did you find your answers?" he asked curiously, sounding a little more like the man Reaver knew.
"Yes and no," Reaver replied, frustrated. "'Somewhere in the north of Brightwood.' Fucking Brightwood. Have you any idea how big that place is, Leonardo?"
"I can hazard a guess, Captain." Leonardo replied dryly. "You said yourself that you were not expecting to find any answers, so technically, you found more than you hoped you would." He grinned when Reaver huffed in frustration. Already he was beginning to relax, now that they were leaving the Spire. "Never mind, Captain, never mind. Who did you shoot? I heard the gunshot."
"The woman I told you about," Reaver grumbled. "I actually wasted a bullet on her. I'm disappointed in myself."
Leonardo laughed. "Well, Captain, perhaps you will get lucky, and the tower will collapse in on her." The imagery made Reaver chuckle.
Garth paced back and forth in the cabin, agitated and distressed. Oh, fuck, he hated that place. He had been so weak, so utterly helpless in it, and the moment he felt that pulsing beneath his feet, those feelings had returned. It was ludicrous, the sheer amount of time it had taken to summon his Will in order to kill one Guard, the toll it had taken on his body to destroy the Spire Collars. At any other time, he wouldn't have even broken a sweat. That place was fucking evil, and he was glad they were sailing out of there as quickly as possible.
But the feelings lingered. He still felt helpless, so utterly out of control that it was making him grind his teeth and tear at his hair. He needed them to stop, he needed the memories to go away, he needed to regain some semblance of control before he went mad and began lobbing massive Fireballs at anything that presented a large enough target. He wanted to go up on deck, but knew he couldn't, not until they were far enough away from the Spire that he wouldn't hear the ocean crashing against it.
The cabin door opened and Reaver entered, his face a mask of neutrality as he sat down on one of the chairs by the table, watching Garth the entire time. Moments passed, and it became obvious to Garth that both were waiting for the other to speak first. He sighed.
"You're paler than Sparrow." Reaver stated flatly. Garth didn't know why that was supposed to be such an insult, given that Sparrow was rather tanned from his constant travelling; he raised an eyebrow.
"Comparatively," Reaver elaborated, and Garth chuckled at the sheer absurdity of it. "Well?"
"Well what?" Garth demanded, and Reaver gave a long-suffering sigh.
"I'm not going to sit here and fuck myself, you know."
Garth stared at him, speechless, for a moment. "Sex is the last thing on my mind." he growled.
"But it is on your mind?"
"You're simply going to have to fuck yourself," Garth replied, forcing himself to keep his cool. Breathe, he told himself, and cut his genitalia off later. "I certainly don't want to do it."
"I'm telling you, you do."
"And I'm telling you that if you continue to push your luck, you'll find yourself in a very compromising position, hanging from the mast!"
Reaver stared at him with that unreadable expression for a moment longer, before doubling over with laughter. Garth glared at him, unappreciative of becoming the butt of the joke, especially since he had no idea why, but slowly his anger began to fade away because Reaver's laughter sounded so genuine, so real, and it wasn't often that Garth got to hear it.
"Feel better now?" he grumbled, when Reaver finally calmed down.
"Certainly," Reaver replied, hints of mirth still in his voice. "And you?"
That took Garth by surprise. "Pardon?"
"I asked if you felt better. You looked like you were ready to maul something when you got back on the ship."
Garth smiled wryly. "And you thought to become my punching bag?"
"It did look that way for a while, didn't it?"
Garth felt his anxiety fade away, if only for the moment, and he cracked his first real smile in what felt like days. "You're such a fool."
"And you're a grump." Reaver replied cheerily. "But now that we're both here, I have a little game I want us to play."
"A sex game." It wasn't a question - Garth knew Reaver well enough in this regard. If the man started to talk about sex, you could damn well bet he wanted it.
"Indeed." Reaver lounged back in his chair, a wicked smile curling his lips upward. "I can assume you're at least slightly interested, given that I've yet to be mauled, verbally or otherwise."
"Be out with it."
"Well, dear Mage, I've noticed that you severely dislike getting held down, so I can only assume this would translate over to, say, if I were to tie you up." Reaver chuckled when Garth wrinkled his nose. "I thought as much. The problem is, I like a little bondage, so I thought we could compromise. A bondage without the bonds sort of thing."
In spite of his earlier dismissal, Garth was definitely curious now. What was going on in Reaver's evil little mind? "I'm listening."
"Good." Getting out of his chair, Reaver took Garth by the hand and led him over to the bunk, instructing him to lie down. Garth did so somewhat hesitantly, and watched with curiosity as Reaver guided his hands to grip the bedpost.
"That is what I would tie you to. Instead, you are to hold it yourself, and know that if you let go for any reason other than panic, I'll immediately stop what I'm doing and leave you thoroughly cock-blocked." Reaver flashed a cheeky grin. "But also know that if you do begin to panic, you can simply let go and throw me across the cabin with your freakish blue powers."
"Your Will scars are blue. I've equated magic with the colour because of it."
Garth softly snorted and glanced at his hands, still obediently gripping the post. Reaver was right, and there was absolutely nothing threatening about his little idea at all. "What would you do?"
The mischievous glint in Reaver's eyes was now firmly in place. "Ah, dear Mage," he drawled. "What is the fun in knowing something like this? Far better for it to be a surprise, I always find."
Garth shifted and tried to ignore Reaver's handsome smile… and found the last of his resistance crumbling. "This had better be worth its hype," he warned, though he was grinning. "And you know that if you try anything strange, you will find yourself flying across the room."
Reaver laughed. "I would expect nothing less from you," he replied, and kissed him. Garth kissed back and, immediately forgetting the rules, let go of the bedpost and tangled his hands in Reaver's hair. Reaver jerked back, a mixture of amusement and disbelief on his face.
"That was quick, Mage."
Garth cursed and dropped his head back onto the pillows. Reaver laughed and positioned his hands around the bedpost again.
"Try again. Don't be so absent-minded this time."
Garth chuckled despite himself and gripped the post almost painfully tight, as a constant reminder of the rules of Reaver's little game. Reaver kissed him again and this time, Garth resisted the urge to pull him closer. Garth groaned as Reaver pulled away and began planting kisses down his neck, pausing to nibble on his collarbone as nimble hands worked to unfasten the clasps on Garth's jacket.
Garth arched his back slightly as Reaver nipped at the delicate skin on his chest, repeating to himself don't let go, don't let go like a mantra as Reaver's tongue followed a particularly prominent Will scar down his navel.
"I do so enjoy the tingling those pretty blue lines leave on my tongue," Reaver said lightly as he began to remove Garth's trousers. He was grinning as though he was having the time of his life, though Garth barely noticed it. He had two things to concentrate on: his hands around the bedpost, and Reaver's mouth on his body, and right now his so-called brilliant mind was threatening to be overwhelmed. When Reaver instructed him to lift his hips he did so almost mechanically, the cool air on his now naked legs his only indication that Reaver had actually removed his trousers. It was only when he felt Reaver's mouth move dangerously close to his erection that he realised what the man was planning to do, and he sat bolt upright, startling Reaver.
"You don't have to do that." he said quickly, feeling his face heat up as he tried to push Reaver back. Reaver batted his hands away impatiently.
"You are most definitely the dumbest smart person I know. Of course I don't have to do anything." He gave Garth a scrutinising look. "Did it ever occur to you that I might find it enjoyable?"
Garth was unconvinced. He had never found such an act enjoyable, after all. "But-"
"But nothing, Mage." Reaver interrupted irritably. "Does it look like anyone is forcing me to do this? Your experience is not universal. Now sit back, put your hands back on the bedpost and let me suck your goddamned dick."
Garth's face heated brilliantly at Reaver's language, and he found himself unable to do anything other than what he was told. When Reaver asked him if he had ever been on the receiving end of oral sex, Garth shook his head, pointedly ignoring the wicked grin he received in reply. He gasped as Reaver's hot tongue slid up the length of his erection, and when Reaver finally took him into his mouth, it felt like a shock to his system.
Reaver seemed to have no gag reflex at all as he inched down Garth's length, swallowing him completely. He swirled his tongue around the hard flesh and when he began to suck, Garth gripped the bedpost so tightly that he was sure either his hands or the post would break.
He bit down on his bottom lip to stifle a groan as Reaver pulled back and sucked on the tip, and when Reaver swallowed the length again and began to hum, Garth couldn't quite remember why this hadn't been such a fantastic idea in the first place. He lifted his head to look down at the Thief - oh god, was Reaver jerking himself off, too? - and he couldn't bite back a moan at the sight.
Reaver pulled away completely and chuckled, stroking Garth's erection as fast as his reflexes allowed as he grinned. "Enjoying yourself now, Mage?" he asked, his tone slightly breathless. Garth took in his tousled hair, the light dusting of pink across his cheeks, and his swollen lips, and felt a familiar warmth begin to pool quickly at the pit of his stomach. How he longed to touch the Thief!
"Yes," he gasped out, his hands clutching the bedpost so hard that he was sure they would be bruised. "I think… Ooh."
"I like this," Reaver breathed, the wicked grin never leaving his face. "Utterly speechless." He descended back down onto the length and sucked hard, and Garth didn't bother to stifle his moans as he thrashed and twisted in pleasure, his hands never leaving the post. With a final cry of Reaver's name he came, his body spasming as Reaver swallowed his seed.
Reaver pulled back after a moment, closing his eyes as he concentrated on bringing himself to completion. With a final groan he climaxed too, catching most of it in his hand. His breath shuddering, he rested his forehead upon Garth's stomach as they both basked in their afterglow.
"You can-" Reaver cleared his throat. "You can let go of the post now," he said, his voice a little hoarse. Garth did so gratefully, and began to flex his aching fingers as Reaver stood up to find a towel.
"Why did we go to the blasted Spire," Reaver began as he cleaned his hand. "When we could have been having fun like that?" He flashed Garth a grin and tossed the soiled towel aside.
"I don't know," Garth replied honestly, still in a bit of a daze. Reaver laughed and climbed into the bunk with him.
"Rest easy now, Mage. That awful pointy rock is behind us."