A Magical Roleplaying Experience 

Stories taking place in England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the Republic of Ireland.
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 #37118  by Wylder Gray
Chicago - 1987

"This way. Come on."

Wylder smiled. Brighter than normal, even if it was partly forced. He had reparations to make, sure, but beyond that he was genuinely happy to lure his friend into a trap that Wylder knew would please him so deeply. Stepping backwards, he pushed open the door to the vacant roof top, and let Anatoly pass him. After the male twin stepped into Chicago's early evening breeze, Wylder sealed the door shut behind them and took a nervous breath of the mid-autumn air.

London - February, Present Day

It was cold in such a familiar way -- despite the weather's bite, it offered a nostalgia and jolliness that was undeniable, even after the holidays had passed. Wylder was used to the cold and he was prepared, bundled up as he meandered the streets of London. However, the Wylder was not familiar with this city. He was a small town American, save his time at CAW and what little experience he had since moving to Italy. If he was in London, there must be a good reason.

And there was. It was all that had been on the man's mind really, for the duration of his trip across the channel. He let his worries and impatience with the proceedings relieve themselves by fiddling with a small leather pouch in his pocket. The pouch was something he'd made himself, crafted many years ago, character and age marking the vessel's patina and formed around its contents. Wylder carried it with him almost everywhere. But it was finally time to give it away.

He was outside Vaska, right on time, he thought as he checked his watch. Of course, he knew that it was impossible to be sure about the end of a shift when it came to working in a kitchen.
 #37127  by Ksenia Ilyenkova
Lights blazed on in the kitchen long after the final guests filed out of the dining room. Pots, pans, plates and cutlery scrubbed away vigorously in the sinks. Soaping washcloths worked themselves against every surface, nook, and cranny, and mops danced over the floors before returning to repeat their waltz a second time. Staff continued to weave tirelessly between the spaces as they prepared for tomorrow's work. Several ingredient shipments were being brought in, mise-en-place was in full swing, and the degustation-only lunch and dinner menus for tomorrow was being assessed and reassessed to ensure another night of smooth running.

In this space, in this room, time was all at once everything and nothing.

Nodding her approval of the final menus, Ksenia craned her neck from side to side as she straightened from the bound parchments that she had been working over the counter. She had not realised her neck was aching until she unfastened the buttons at her uniform collar. It was another several minutes of checking on the progress of their preparation before the executive chef bid her staff goodnight. She cast a brief glance at the darkened stairwell leading into the basement as she passed on her way out. The dining room was dim lit, but she knew better by now than to think business was closed for the night. Whatever went on downstairs had only just begun, and she did not care to know what it was.

It was not that she wasn't curious, but Ksenia knew better than to ask. Some curiosities were better off left to the unknown.

She dipped her hand into the pocket of her satchel for her flask as she neared the door. London was not as cold as the Swedish countryside, but it was draughty and damp, and there was nothing like a healthy swig of vodka on the walk home. England's chill billowed against her face as she pushed open the front doors and stepped out into the night. She unscrewed the cap of her flask at the threshold, lifting it to her lips as her glance glided across the empty courtyard still lit by street lamps and a lone stranger that stood underneath one. She took a swig and started down the stone steps.

Then, as if in an epiphany, Ksenia paused. The Russian turned back toward the tall male, perplexed at the strange sense of familiarity that she felt from the fleeting glance. Liquor burned in her gut as she stared at the man. Amber light flickered over his features and washed over hair that grazed his shoulders.

Her breath hitched.
Last edited by Ksenia Ilyenkova on 25 Mar 2020, 01:21, edited 1 time in total.
 #37128  by Wylder Gray
The door was locked tight. It was just them -- Wylder and Anatoly, an unbreakable pair..

Wylder smiled at his friend as they acclimated to the open, cold wind. There was an unspoken awareness of what they were doing there on that rooftop. Well, not of exactly what they were doing, but the overarching intent of Wylder's invitation and plan. He'd been seeing Anatoly less and less while seeing the twin's female counterpart more and more, and the energy was palpable. Anatoly knew. Wylder knew Anatoly knew. Ksenia knew that Wylder knew that Anatoly knew. And now, between discerning looks, Anatoly surely knew that Wylder knew that Anatoly knew, and Ksenia definitely knew about all of it!


Was it the cold or the nerves that had him jittery? Wylder clutched the pouch in his pocket tighter than ever.

Wylder wasn't waiting long before an appropriately proportioned figure marched out the front door of the restaurant. It had been so long since he'd seen her, but Wylder knew that it was who he was looking for. Something about her structure was wired into his psyche, like the frame of her body and the silhouette of her face were the code to his operating system. It had been years, but even after so long, a dark, distorted figure stepping onto streets revealed itself.

Wylder stepped forward as the reality set in upon them both. What words were there? What could be said, especially by a man that wasn't know for his words? This was where Wylder's plan ended. He wasn't sure he'd ever get this far, but there he was.
 #37134  by Ksenia Ilyenkova
She would be a liar to say she had not thought of him. Her memory would betray her in the heartbeat that skipped, in the hollowed cavity of her chest which constricted, as she watched him from across the space of the courtyard between them. That space was closer than they had been in seventeen years and farther than she realised they were when he was physically absent. In that space, she was all at once seventeen years older as she was still seventeen years old.

In that space, time passed as it forever stilled.

She slipped her hands, and the old flask, into the pockets of her jacket. Pebbles rattled beneath her boots when Ksenia eventually moved, long and measured strides carrying her toward the man before she stopped short a foot or so away. She might have asked what he was doing here, but she already knew the answer. Instead, the witch tilted her head.

"How did you know where to find me?"
 #37167  by Wylder Gray
Time passed quickly, and the pair were at operating at their peak frequency, as they always did together. Plotting, positioning, debating, preparing it all. It was as good as things had ever been, and the drama that had taken over their lives so unnecessarily had receded into nothing more than an observant ghost. But the ghost lay in wait, patient with a deprived appetite for haunting.


His heart shriveled as she approached, squeezed dry of all that it had to offer, the last drop of his efforts released in an anxious clutch of the small pouch in his pocketed hand. Ksenia looked nearly the same as he remembered, only better. Still young but aging gracefully, despite life's hardships. Wylder wondered how Anatoly would have looked, if he were able to join them there in that courtyard. Would he have kept his hair long like Wylder? Would he take comfort in the coverage of facial hair that kept the world one extra, small step away? No. He would have been entirely different, in some wonderful way that neither Wylder or Ksenia would ever get see.

"I moved recently. Within ferry distance -- well, close enough to hear about the best chef in London, anyway." It was a stretch, but Ksenia wouldn't know that Wylder resisted using magic at any turn, even for ease of travel, when he could afford it. Anyway, the response was good enough for keeping introductions on the lighter side.

Fingers rubbed thoughtfully at the silhouette of Wylder's pouched delivery and his drifting eyes reflected his uncertainty.

"I'm sorry it's been so long. And I didn't mean to get the jump on you I just -- " he stopped himself. Anxious, worried over-explaining was not his way. He took a slow breath before finishing his thoughts. "I just needed to see you."
 #37182  by Ksenia Ilyenkova
In a space parallel to theirs yet constellations and lightyears apart, a Soviet girl bristled in mock offence at an American boy. 'Only in London?', she'd ask, tapping a wooden spatula meaningfully against her palm, for added effect, whilst from a corner in that same space, another boy gleefully tutted at his best friend's plight.

Even in his cavalier lack of sympathy, that boy would still be infallibly charming, blameless, impossible to despise. Unchanging, as always.

Sempiternal, ageless, and... deathless.

Not like his best friend, who had bags underneath his eyes the way a fine line had crept underneath each of hers. She wondered if the American, too, occasionally spent minutes in the bathroom sifting through his hair for that rogue couple strands of silver. He kept his beard longer now than he ever did as she remembered—she didn't realise she remembered until she did—but beneath it she saw running footprints that they called smile lines. It was a relief to know that he must have smiled enough since to grow them. She almost wanted to run her fingers along them, just to see how deep they really were. Ksenia wanted to ask Wylder about everything that made him smile or laugh in these years, almost as much as she wanted to ask him how dare he grow lines from doing enough of it.

How dare he grow older.

How dare he show her how he grew older.

But surely it was seventeen years too long to still feel whatever she was feeling? What was she feeling?

The woman drew in a breath, trying to keep her expression collected. "You should've wrote," she replied, and though the frank manner might still be familiar to Wylder, the lack of accusation and sense of politeness in it would be foreign. Nonetheless, in the heartbeat's pause, a hint of unease slipped through the cracks as Ksenia realised what her words might have meant.

"It's a bit cold," she added in her own unrealising attempt at over-explaining. "How long have you been out here waiting?"
 #37338  by Wylder Gray
Anatoly had a knack for transfiguration, and it was a fascinating subject. Wylder took interest, as well, but it wasn't something he was as skilled with. There was still fun to be had, however!

Wylder grinned at the look on his friend's face as he revealed his intentions, as he explained just how he had acquired such a dusty old tome, written in a text that was hardly English and only just barely comprehensible to the lads. And the glow on Anatoly's face -- a look of shock and intrigue combined -- as he revealed the tome's counterpart in the form of an ancient magical wand that looked more like a weathered twig than what they were used to today.


Wylder did not need goading to feel shame, even after so many years. And it was a fundamental shame, a deep dissatisfaction with one's self. Attempts at resisting could only be abandoned, and Wylder had done so, far enough in the past now that he couldn't even remember when he finally crossed that line. He could imagine how Ksenia felt, seeing him now, and how it might be something she'd rather not do. He felt the same at times, just facing himself in the mirror each morning. Maybe it was why he'd covered his face in hair -- an attempt to hide from himself.

"Not long," he finally answered. It might not have been true, but there was no need for additional strain. "But you're right," he exhaled a plume of hot breath into the cold air. "I should have wrote. You may be busy."

Perhaps she had a lover to return to, or some other plans. Or maybe she just didn't care to see him. In another life, maybe a teenage fantasy could have played out, and it would be someone else distracting Ksenia from returning to her home with Wylder.
 #37360  by Ksenia Ilyenkova
She wasn't. It had only been a month since she moved to England, and notwithstanding previously being preoccupied with house hunting, Ksenia's only true friends in the country were her paternal cousin and his loose cannon of a best friend if the latter even truly counted as a 'friend' in her books. After all these passing years and flurrying seasons, it would be folly to think anything at all remained quite the same. Nonetheless, more so than others, some things perhaps did still resemble their past selves—like how the wayfaring Russian still did not have many friends, not for a lack of options but for a narrower self-definition of the term.

If anything, what had changed was that the definition had since grown narrower by sheer distance of example.

It was one which no one else had or would ever again bridge.

Anyway, it was probably easier to let Wylder think she was, in fact, busy. They could part ways here. Perhaps they might schedule another time to meet. Some time when she was ready, if she would ever be ready. Perhaps they won't, and she would live her life and he would live his, as they had for seventeen long years and may continue to for the next seventeen years and the seventeen years after if they were cursed with that many, on parallels that were all at once immovably near and unreachable.

Except again, some things truly did resemble their past selves more than others—like how Ksenia found herself saying, before she even realised she had started saying it, "You're in luck. I have some time tonight." When she did hear her own words, and understood what they implied, she did not dwell on regretting them. Another person might; but not Ksenia, though she did for a moment then shifted wheel to regard the male with an expression that was almost dubious.

"Why do you need to see me?"

Needed, he had said. Not wanted, but needed.

"Why now?"
 #37401  by Wylder Gray
It could have been hours that they were hunched over the old tome, flipping between pages, deciphering the odd unrecognized word. The cold wind was just background noise that didn't bother them but, instead, kept them brisk and fresh and delayed their tiring.

Wylder pointed the ancient wand over the edge of the rooftop, practicing the prescribed motion, while Anatoly was nose deep in the cracks of the tome under his own wand light.


Wylder was not one to drown himself in worry, but this occasion had him on edge. That Ksenia was willing to see him was like the fruition of his greatest fear. He wasn't sure that he was really ready for this confrontation, now that it drew so near.

"Well.." he started slowly, his eyes trailing off with his words. Some chink in his sturdy armor revealing itself, revealing that there was indeed some heavy purpose to his visit, if the visit itself was not enough to make that clear.

"I have something for you."

Wylder offered the slightest of shrugs as his gaze straightened up.
 #37440  by Ksenia Ilyenkova
As if by some divination, Ksenia's own gaze flickered down to Wylder's pocketed hands. For one fleeting heartbeat, it lilted upon them with a certain concentration that seemed to will its way through the fabric, like a bright and blinding flash of fiery spark which rushed through a sliver crack in the door.

He did not answer her second question—why now.

Why, on an entirely insignificant date, seventeen years on—quite literally a lifetime later.

It was only a moment, nonetheless, that the spark burned. Her lashes shuttered the door on it and Ksenia was again removed, even if only so slightly, which may as well be an entire canyon between him and her.

"This isn't the place. Where are you staying tonight?"
 #37591  by Wylder Gray
"You're right."

There was no use conducting this out in the open, in the cold night. But they had already traveled beyond the point of any real planning, on Wylder's end. This was all basically uncharted territory.

"I don't have anything lined up," Wylder admitted. It may seem foolish or forward, but it was true that he just hadn't been able to imagine getting as far as he had. He would spend the night trekking home, wallowing in his sorrows, if it came to the worst.
 #37611  by Ksenia Ilyenkova
He seemed to think she was right a lot. That would join the list of things that had changed with time.

Nonetheless, Ksenia looked at him like he was a madman. What person ferried across the English channel this hour of the night without making overnight plans for travel or accommodation? That—or perhaps, no plan was the plan, which was almost familiar an approach from a boy she once knew. She shook her head immediately, as if the motion could somehow shake away a rising sense of grief which long buried itself so deep in her bones that she almost forgot its enduring companionship.

"I guess, at least, that narrows the options down," the woman noted with a slight shrug. "It's messy at mine, I'm warning you." Ksenia took a step forward, then another, and another, till she was close enough to hold out her hand for Wylder to take.

It hovered, carefully, between them.
 #37894  by Wylder Gray
It was an invitation - one that Wylder had no expected but had, perhaps, desired. He had some hesitation, allowing a woman he hadn't seen in seventeen years to invite him home. He could have been anyone now, entirely different from the boy she knew. But the same could be said on Ksenia's part, and Wylder could sense some sort of understanding.

Wylder focused on the offered hand, peering through another plume of breath rising in the cold air. Slowly, his own reached to take hers, and it was clear that even after so long, they had enough faith in each other to take this blind leap.

"I.." he didn't know what to say. "Thanks."
 #37922  by Ksenia Ilyenkova
Even after all these years, his hand still fit around hers as neatly as a well worn glove. She could not truthfully say she remembered the exact shape, the exact grasp. She could not remember if it had always been this calloused or if age had left its trace. There might have been a vague memory of how her younger self might have felt once, surrounded by trees, wild mushrooms blooming from a rotting root by her feet, but that, too, slipped between her fingers like a knife falling away from her grasp. Only in the heart of her palm against his, a phantom smile which a long time ago had split it open seemed to suddenly gain a pulse of its own, like a throbbing heartbeat, as if it remembered something her mind did not.

Ksenia closed her eyes. In a stroke of will, she let the old manor and the grand courtyard and the street lights plummet from them, and pulled Wylder with her.

They stood, only seconds later, in a dark room. A sliver of light elbowed its way in through the drawn blinds, enough to make out the silhouettes of simple furniture in the space, a heap of clothes strewn on the couch, and on the floor a large box that was opened.

Ksenia dropped the hand she was holding and stepped away, just a little, enough that she did not even realise it. With a mumbled incantation, she set light in the room and dropped her satchel onto the floor, next to a haphazard pile of random items that were clearly being unpacked from the box. "I got the keys yesterday," Wylder's hostess explained as she hastily charmed the items back into the box—the cookbooks and old books, the tangled pile of clothes hangers, the small radio and another record player, the vinyl records and large tin box with a lid rusting at the corners, the old and faded baseball cap that looked a size or two too small with an embroidered charmed crow he might recognise.

She slammed the flaps shut on the box and straightened.
Sometime, somehow, they had started taking dinners together again: two boys and one girl, huddled in the narrow galley of their apartment kitchen, seated still in respective own's chair that had been unofficially designated by some unspoken law when they first moved in. Anatoly's fingers were still ink-stained as he reached for the ladle. Ksenia was still meticulous in mopping her plate clean with black rye bread. Wylder's sixteenth birthday gift mug in the shape of a leshy still hopped a little too close to the edge of the table and had to be caught, more than once, before it should leap to its own doom. Between them, the plates were still perfect, still intact, still unbroken enough to have never been. Between them, an unknowing Anatoly brandished his spoon and hurried Wylder to finish so they could get going, whilst underneath the table, his sister twined her fingers through his best friend's, her lithe fingertips drawing invisible, senseless marks in the heart of his palm.
 #37940  by Wylder Gray
The touch of her hand was like the connection of two streams that had meandered their separate ways, working through the earth and carving their paths in whatever planned or unplanned direction they went, finally bursting through that final barrier and joining again into one steady stream, stronger than they could have ever been separately. But just as the union was made, the stream's path was obstructed.

Wylder stomach turned as they appeared in Ksenia's home, it had been a while since he'd apparated, and he stumbled just enough to reveal a gap in his sturdy demeanor. He ran a hand through his hair, glancing around the living space.

"You just moved?" A pointless question, as the answer was clear, but more of an acknowledgement. "Me too."