All I remember from the dream is your silver-white hair smooth as silk, the weight of your unseen presence in the room, and the way your clothes clung to your hunched frame as you sat stubbornly smoking in the rain, refusing sympathy, and in this way it was like every other dream, the fleeting recollection of his hand on your face, the dissociation in your black eyes, the desire to remain there on the edge of the drop as long as you are there together, as long as we are there together.
I wonder what Tanim and Daren would be like if their circumstances were switched at birth. How much of who they are is a result of nature and how much of nurture?
Take Daren, the madman, and give him family, wealth, power. Give him the world at his fingertips and the protection of affluence to do as he likes. He’d look different; younger, stronger, healthier. But would he be any saner? Or would he just be better at hiding it, a Hannibal-esque psychopath in a very convincing person suit? Either way, he would be a force to be reckoned with. Unhindered by a past riddled with abandonment and abuse, he would have a terrifying clarity of mind and control over his actions. An unbroken Daren would be charismatic, intelligent, a skilled liar and shrewd interpreter of intention. He would easily succeed in the cold, calculating world of business and blue blood – though he might also at any moment destroy it all, just to see what would happen. Certainly he would not feel bound or beholden to anyone but himself, and would continue to act with impunity as he already does in every other incarnation.
Now take Tanim, the rich man, and strip all his blessings away. Make him the unwanted son of a druggie, thrown at a young age into a foster care system broken and beyond capacity. He certainly wouldn’t be living in a penthouse apartment and drinking scotch out of crystal decanters after that. Chances are good that he’d still be an addict, though, and probably selling himself for money instead of just giving himself away. Maybe a rough beginning would do him some good, give him the freedom to explore his identity without the confines of duty and expectation. At the very least, he might be haunted by fewer ghosts – or just more bearable ones. With no real need to live as a recluse, he might even create some sort of found family for himself made of other misfits and lost souls. Still, he would be just as likely to throw all that away when he met Daren as he is anything else in any other incarnation.
Together, they would be less internal disaster and more external destruction. Daren’s wealth and cruelty, combined with Tanim’s general degeneration and desire to fulfill all of Daren’s whims, would set them on a truly dangerous path. Maybe things start the way they do for this very reason – maybe otherwise Tanim and Daren are simply too volatile together. That’s a disturbing thought.
I would rip you open, he murmurs, teeth testing the taut flesh of your neck, tongue gliding over the pulsing heartbeat beneath, and you only smile with half-lidded eyes. You hope he will; you hope you feel those teeth sink deep into your throat and that sardonic mouth swallow your screams. Please do, your body begs. Just wait, his promises.
The following is an exchange that 100% happened between my DnD character (Remr, female tiefling) and my girlfriend’s character (Never, nonbinary dragonborn). Or maybe we were out of character. Or maybe even we aren’t sure. Anyway…
Remr: And the hot chick.
Never: [confused] Who’s the hot chick?
Remr: You know, [gestures vaguely] the hot chick. With the pointy teeth.
Remr: [snaps fingers] Yeah! The hot chick.
Never: She has a name.
Remr: Yeah, “hot chick”.
Never: [patience waning] You can’t just call them Hot Chick 3 and 7.
Remr: Well, no. [holds up a hand to start counting on her fingers] Hot Chick 3 would be–
Never: No, no, just stop. [holds hand out to silence her] There aren’t even 7.
Remr: [thoughtfully] Actually, if you count–
Also, here are some other recent hijinks!
The team got to ride on an airship, where it was learned that Remr has a sailor hat Tarcella gave her when they were kids. Tarcella named Remr her second in command on the ship because she just so happened to have read the schematics for fun. Remr then took out the hat to wear it, but it didn’t really fit on her head so she just kinda hooked it on one of her horns.
Later on when the ship was crashing, Remr and Tarcella both fell out of the front windows and would have fallen to their deaths in the ocean, but were saved at the last minute by Bao’ru.
- During a brief rest in the jungle, Remr spent her time collecting specimens of new or interesting bugs. At some point she ran out of containers to put them in, so she started stowing them in Never’s bags and then eventually just put them on the dragonborn themself for safekeeping.
“Why do you bother dressing like that every day?”
“What, I can’t look nice?”
“The dress shirt seems like overkill. And why the tie? You’re not even going anywhere.”
“Are you really giving me fashion advice when you’re not even out of bed yet, let alone dressed?”
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“It’s just habit, okay?”
“It’s a weird habit.”
“Says the man who wears nothing but black every day.”
“Why shouldn’t I? It’s served me just fine thus far.”
“Fine, I’ll lose the tie. But then you won’t have anything to yank on like a dog collar when you…”
“Okay, okay, you make a good point. Keep the tie; lose the shirt.”
He returns to the alley too often. It is not a gravestone, after all, but close enough and all he has. Sometimes he sits on the cold concrete, recalling the night they met – though he sits on the far side, never beneath the darkened streetlight. Most times he just paces back and forth as he lights, smokes, and discards cigarette after cigarette. Their burnt ends litter the cement, are ground beneath his shoes and grow soggy in rain puddles. He hopes some shred of fate still lingers here. He hopes he will catch his lover’s tragedy, be infected with whatever curse or punishment took the man from him so he can experience the same pain, the same misery, the same slow death. In this place where everything started, he seeks the beginning of the end. It is the only way left for him to feel close to his beloved. He hopes he will die here; living is a betrayal he cannot bear much longer.
He waits. The shards of glass have glittered like snow on the white carpet for five months now; he steps around them without thought as he paces. Sometimes he still purposefully treads on one to feel the bright, sharp pain travel up through his foot, to leave a few more bloodstains in the wreckage. He hasn’t even bothered to replace the shattered glass tumblers, instead drinking his liquor out of a coffee mug or straight from the bottle. He’s stopped bothering with an ash tray, too, and the cigarette butts leave little burn marks where they fall from idle hands. He doesn’t care. The one he loves will return to him, he is certain of this despite their parting words, the broken glass and passing months. The one he loves will return to him and so he must be here, cleansed by his penitence and proven faithful by his stasis. So, he waits.