Blind, But I'm Still Alive [M]

The boats were like phantoms in the night, the cold bitter chill of the Northern winds had their way of making anyone feel they were nothing more than a ghost in the harbor, but when the small crafts moved from one island to the next—racing as though they were part of some greater scheme. His skin felt like deamons, and the hell that followed him made him feel as though he were walking in the garden of Eden and that this prince? The one that he stole from the civil would be his for the night, and as they opened the second bottle of wine he was well into the moment.

“Tell me of you?” Gale asked moving in beside Nicholas who was simply stunning with the dark sea behind him as though shadowing him with a dark crown.

“What makes you tick hmm?” The soft and careful motion of the boatmen as they made their way towards the far off island—the bastard of Venice.

“First…what should I call you?” He met Nicholas’ eyes and glanced from one to the next as though reading him, or trying to.

“Tonight you can have any name you wish.” Oh how he loved this game, his body reacting to the very thought of it and as the distant fires of he lost island came into view he could damn near hold his excitement.
word count: 233

Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

The chilly wind invigorated Nicholas. It refreshed his senses and calmed his nerves. Despite his conviction to attend the party on the island, he could not escape the doubt and the hesitation which came with taking a step away from the very proper and very conservative world in which he existed. It was thrilling and yet utterly terrifying at the same time.

Thankfully, his new companion had thought ahead and brought wine for their voyage to the island. With the combination of wine and fresh air, Nicholas was feeling much more at ease, at least for now. He sat comfortably, content to listen to the sounds of the water against the timber hull or to converse with the musician, whichever came.

"What do you wish to know?" Much of Nicholas' existence was public knowledge, at least for the Russians and perhaps those who were overly interested in foreign royalty. "It is a very vague question." He added with a grin, not accustomed to such direct questioning but prepared to roll with it.

The Prince shrugged, "Nicholas will do." He could have any name, but he had a certain fondness for his own. Hearing his name spoken without a title, without deference, was strange enough as it were. "It is a common name in Russia." He added. "And you, will you call yourself something different?"
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Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

“But Nicholas is boring…” He could not help the way he loved to hear the man speak, an accent he couldn’t help but love. It was different and thick, like warm winter wine on a frozen cold day. It reminded him of Spring and how the cold came to suffer it away.

“I want to call you…Dragon or demon, something fun no?” He teased the youth and kicked his boot lightly to the other man’s foot.

“I want to be King this night. Perhaps you can let go of your title and give it to me?” He smiled though sheepishly and admired the boat a moment, “Do you ever get tired of living as though someone is always wanting the best for you?” It was a luxury he could live without and for that he was thankful.

“Forgive me. I don’t get to do this often and when I do, I get a bit…excited. You just—“ He paused a moment and laughed, “Well you seem like you needed to be let out. Let your hair down and be wild. So lets pretend a moment?” He thought or Russian folklore, of the few that he knew.

“Perhaps you can call me Vasilisa?” He grinned and drank again from the glass, the fires burning in the distance as though they were the only hope of a nights still to come.

“Vasilisa the beautiful…Vasilisa the wise. What would you say?”

He was talkative when he was nervous and nervous he was for certain, it wasn’t every day he got to entertain a prince.
word count: 267

Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

Nicholas made a bit of a face, his name was the name of mighty tsars! It was hardly boring. "Dragon?" He snorted if he were to use a different name to his own, he wanted it to be something palatable and not overtly grandiose. He was a Prince, he was hardly the sort of man to carry off the name of a demon.

"But I am no King." He replied with a grin, playing difficult for the simple sake of it. "The third son of the heir to the tsardom...And so perhaps, if I am fortunate, never to be one." If he could live a life without the possibility of ruling Russia, it would be a good one.

"Does not everyone live under such conditions?" Nicholas pointed out, sure that one's parents, regardless of rank or privilege wanted the best for their children. "Perhaps there are more parties involved in my situation -" Nicholas acquiesced before adding, "-does your father not want the best for you, though you know better?" He could not imagine anyone being completely content with decisions made for them, for their entire lives.

"I do." He nodded, "If I were home, things would be different, but here -" He glanced off over the water with a small sigh, feeling rather dramatic about it all, "-here I am without connection." Friends, family, horses, all the things he needed to keep level-headed, and they all remained in Russia.

"Vasilisa...It is a woman's name, you know?" Nicholas pointed out, although having the feeling the long-haired musician knew very well and was still happy to take it. The Prince gave a pause before deciding on a name for himself, "Alyosha, the dragon slayer." Grandious still, but not quite as absurd as a dragon or demon itself. Alyosha was known for his wit and looks, two things Nicholas was happy to attribute to himself this evening.
word count: 319

Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

“Would you want to be a king?” Gale asked with a coy smirk, “You could be my King if you wanted, this night at least. And I know it is a woman’s name.” He narrowed his silver eyes, the gold in them flickering from the lantern light, “This is part of the fun no?”

He let the topic of what was best for him and his father remain for a moment between them, as he never knew exactly how to answer this question. What was Jean-Luc to him? A father? A benefactor? A slaver? He was a kind man, but he had sinister tastes in desires and did a lot of dealing underground. His actual son, Laurent, had tried to kill him on many occasions and Gale too out of jealousy at how close he was with his sister. Laurent de Mercier was a horrid man, a monster, and a sick fuck by all counts of the imagination, and his obsession with his sister was sickening. However, Jean-Luc did his best to keep him away, and in turn appointed Gale to be her constant companion.

“I suppose he does, at least this one does.” Tonight he would spare is story, the wilds were calling to him in ways that only the lightest touch over the water could understand.

“Tonight, I am your connection. It is all you need for now, Alyosha, the diplomat and dragon slayer. Am I enough?” He was laying it on thick, but in many ways Gale wanted to almost mark his territory before the boats even arrived. It wasn’t every day that his guest was a Prince, at least one as handsome.

The island was dark at first, hidden by the ruins and the hospitals that had once been there. Bones lined the walk, candles inside the skulls as the square held a fire and the music made his heart race. As soon as they pulled up Gale removed his shoes as though welcoming the feel the flora that pushed through, transported from birds or the guardens that had spilled over from being unkept. He wanted to feel the earth beneath his feet and when he put on his mask he turned to the Dragon Slayer once more.

“Tonight is for you.”
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Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

Nicholas was temporarily lost for words or at least a response which would make any sort of sense in response to Gale's flirtations. Begin flirted with subtly or otherwise, was familiar enough territory - when it came from a woman, but to have a man so openly and brazenly say such things to him? Nicholas could only think the musician was fortunate to not have his father the tsarevich aboard, with his exceptional conservative expectations. Simply knowing the boat, however large, held the two gondoliers and two guardsmen also made Nicholas reluctant to say or respond to such teasing, even though it was unlikely they would be overheard - sheltered as they were by the shape of the vessel.

Nicholas resorted to doing the simplest and most familiar thing, smiling and changing the subject, using their nearness to the island to change their conversation. "It does not seem to be the most hospitable of places..." He mused, now more to himself than his impromptu host, once more fighting the flare of anxiety which rose in his chest. It was one thing to attend a commoner's party, entirely another to attend it on a supposedly haunted island with an inappropriately flirtatious musician. It was not that the silver man was not attractive, he was, however, it was simply not the way of the world to have such things spoke out loud!

Although he had been tempted to remove some layers of his formal clothing, Nicholas now found himself clinging to them as a shield from what possible insanity awaited him on the island. As the gondola docked and Monsieur Rousseau disembarked, bizarrely going shoeless in a place which was undoubtedly filled with broken glass and ruins, Nicholas mutely followed after him. Paying strict attention to where his boat was moored, feeling more secure in knowing he could escape at a moment's notice, Nicholas steeled himself for what was to come.

As his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness, he could make out other figures in the shadows, all heading toward one central area via walkways lined with bones and candles. It was a macabre and far too similar to the tales of witches and magic he had been told of in his youth to let him remain entirely comfortable.

"This is all very unusual." Nicholas murmured, his hands clenching and unclenching in a subconscious attempted to calm his nerves.
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The subject change was something he was very aware of as a defense tactic, but one that thrilled him all the rest. The Prince had not scoffed or made a face of illness to the idea of being close to him, but he seemed…nervous. This was as much to him a welcoming sign as if the other man had opened his legs in spirit of accepting his offer.

“It is not, to the outside world at least. A little more than a hundred years ago the sick were brought here to burn. Just like the first plague and the one before that, hundreds too sick to speak otherwise would be burnt alive. Their loved ones all thought that they were going for treatment, which I suppose was the case at first.”

As he spoke and the buildings started to come to life over the darkness, the fires burning in the center made them seem like a skeleton of their own—a fortress against the dark night.

“Do you believe in ghosts, Alyosha?” He asked as he led him through the walkway and over the turned up stones and broken bones. The ash from fires clung still to the sandstone, and though it was mostly from the fires of the recent month; perhaps one would be willing to let their imagination run wild with the thoughts that maybe it was the remains of the plague.

“It is unusual, but you are safe with me.” His voice was low as he spoke and he leaned in to whisper further, “We need a word. One that is only for you and I. One that if you speak to me without a second thought all of this ends. There will be no disappointment or questions asked, I will get you out of here.”

The music hummed at first until the sounds of drums and laughter filled the air. Lanterns were strung from one ruin to the next, the colorful banners all like phantoms in the wind and the salty sea air making the smoke from the fires near crackle as the world went on around them.

“Would you like a drink? And have you ever heard of the Mohocks?” A strange question for sure, but when Gale pulled a small leather pouch from his pocket he handed it to Nicholas to smell. It had a very bitter smell, organic and almost like tobacco.
word count: 400

Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

The story detailing the history of the island did little to quiet Nicholas' anxieties. Although he did not believe in hauntings, spirits or ghosts, there was an undeniable air of strangeness which generally came with places with such history. Perhaps it was all within one's own mind, a figment of the imagination brought on by the simple knowledge of the horrors which had unfolded there. It was abundantly clear which the Church thought it best the local population kept away from the island, but it also made the party unfolding there all the more worrisome. With all the wonderful locations in Venice, this was their choice? An island where the sick and dying and been burnt alive?

"No, of course not," Nicholas said firmly. It was the one thing in this whole crazy situation he was sure of. The Patriarch said spirits and ghosts were not real and so as a good patron of the Orthodox Church, Nicholas knew he thought it also. "Though -" He glanced down at bones as they passed them, before admitting, "-if any location must be infected with spirits, then this seems a likely place."

He was not entirely sure why they needed a special word to indicate his desire to leave. If he wished to leave then he would do so and would make it abundantly clear - with or without his guide. While he was not shouting his title to the crowd, he was still a Prince and would do exactly as he was pleased and entitled to do. His boat was not far away and at any moment he was more than confident enough to find his way back to it. "I am unsure why one would need such a word, why not speak plainly if one wishes to leave?" Nicholas said with a small frown, wondering why such concept existed and what it might indicate about the evening they were embarking on.

The music, the lanterns and the comforting sound of crackling fire made the square out to seem far more friendly and hospitable than Nicholas knew it to be. If they remained here, perhaps things would not be so strange

"Yes, a drink, of course." Now drinking was something Nicholas could get behind, knowing it would help ease his nerves and perhaps make all the oddness not seem so worrisome. Although he had a feeling he ought to keep his wits about him, this was no ordinary party, at least not for a man who hardly left the confines of palaces and courts.

Sniffing the strange bag of herbs and making a face as he did so, Nicholas handed the pouch back to its owner, "It is a variety of tobacco, yes?" He did not smoke, his grandmother did like the smell and had encouraged the court to avoid using it or smelling of it in her presence. "Do you smoke it?"
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Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

There was a sound of a constant lashing coming from somewhere higher in the third or perhaps even forth floor of the ruins, and with each one a woman’s voice did rise out of pleasure and pain.

“Just trust me? Everyone speaks in code now, this can be just one more? And it isn’t just if you wish to leave. It is if something or…someone is making you uncomfortable. It is wise to always have a guide at these parties, we do things rather different in Venice.” Gale shrugged a little, “Well and France too. Oh and in some parts of the East Indies...China” He could have kept going, but he didn’t want to startle his guest.

“It is why we wear masks and why we do not use our names. Here you can be or…be with anyone you wish.” He opened the bottle of wine that he had brought for them, and offered it with a coy smirk.

“Drink to me? Only with thine eyes,” he stepped into the Prince’s circle, the personal space that this man kept around him like a darkened doorway, “And I will pledge with mine.” Through the golden outlines of the mask his eyes looked up through dark lashes and narrowed near teasingly, “Or leave a kiss but in the cup, and I’ll not look for wine.” The poem was an old one, an immortal writing by Benjamin Jonhson, and one of his favorites, but Nicholas didn’t need to know that.

“And yes, you smoke it. My American friend busted a ring of the Mohocksmen recently and it was a gift. If you do not believe in ghosts now, you will after you have breathed this in.”
word count: 292

Re: Blind, But I'm Still Alive

Things continued to grow stranger and more disconcerting as the sound of a woman being lashed made its way through the ruins. Nicholas was again forced to wonder what sort of situation had he arrived at, and if it was perhaps best to leave now before he found himself too far in. Reputation and propriety aside, was this even the sort of occasion he would enjoy? Was it worth the risk and the potential danger, when all he had desired was a simple night of drinking and conversation?

"Everything is making me uncomfortable." Dryly the Prince remarked, because anxious as he might have been there was always time for sarcasm. "If I wish to leave or end a situation then I will say as much, what is the point of code." Nicholas was stuck on the point, simply unable to understand why one needed to be coy about their intention to leave. "But if you wish me to play along, pick something." It would at least end the conversation as Nicholas was sure no matter how the musician explained it, the nature of using a random word to denote one's departure, would never make sense.

"I am perfectly fine being myself." The Prince added, taking the bottle of wine if only to seek some cure for the absurdity the musician was attempting to convince him was normal. It all seemed so convoluted. Why have codes and pretend to be someone you were not when doing the opposite was far easier? "Though as you said earlier, sans title." The titled he could shed for an evening, but did he need to pretend any further. Parading as a commoner was already a trial enough!

Swallowing far too big a gulp of wine as Monsieur Rosseau once more started his bold flirting, Nicholas gave a cough as the liquid irritated his throat. It seemed the musician was doing his best to put him off balance... "You're very bold," Nicholas replied, taking a small step back and unconsciously increasing the distance between them and handing back the bottle of wine, all in one movement.

He gave a small, slightly confused smile, "Why would one wish to smoke something which made them believe something exists when it does not. Hallucinations are generally signs of an infected mind..." It was clear much of Monsieur Rosseau's world was in conflict with his understanding, the more the musician spoke, the more confused Nicholas found himself.

Nicholas gave a glance over his shoulder, back in the direction they had come before looking back to his guide, "Perhaps - " He started slowly, "I have been mistaken in my agreement to join you." Better to leave now while the confusion was light, rather than later when who knew what else would be sprung on him.
word count: 466

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