Small Packages: Luca
Luca awoke with a familiar sickening panic. His eyes scanned the area for Marius on reflex to see if the fool had fallen asleep on watch again. Sometimes his eyes would meet his dutiful brother’s and Luca would feel a pang of fleeting remorse, then the routine would take over.This time his eyes found Marius' back which was just as well. Luca kept to his rituals and ran a mental inventory, confirming that he could still feel and move all his extremities. The wasting sickness stalked him like a thief, halted but never cured. If it returned he’d typically lose grip first, then his limbs, his ability to eat, to speak, and ultimately to breathe. His mind would remain sharp as his body became an inert prison. It was a terrifying sickness.
On an intellectual level Luca knew his brother would never fall asleep on watch again, it simply was not in Marius’ character to be so careless. The paladin had not tried dwarven spirits before that night and he only had a normal tankard full. Not only had Marius apologized, he had sworn off drinking all together. Luca just couldn’t help resenting his dependence on Marius.
The healer's amulet had halted the wasting sickness seven years ago, Luca’s slow appointment with invalidity and death had been forestalled, but his brother knew as well as he did that without more potent magic, Luca was living on borrowed time. The disease was still inside of him and could be triggered by any number of environmental factors.
A magic belt lent Luca the strength to move without assistance, though not without pain, and he was clumsy. Another magic trinket reduced Luca’s need to sleep and entirely removed the need to eat. It meant that once he merged with his Eidolon, he need not dismiss it to take a meal, or take a trip to the jakes. It meant that the amount of time a child could overpower him was reduced to two hours and a little over a minute every day.
A silent act of will and a single murmur of Iz’s name, would summon the otherworldly being that Luca wore like armor. When joined with Iz’s body his mind was no longer locked into a prison of weakness, ruin, and pain. Despite its fragile appearing translucence, Iz’s body moved with speed and power. It was almost enough.
Luca didn’t like to think about women, or more specifically one woman. There was no point in pursuing something that is so far out of reach, and she had married a few years ago. Nothing is more haunting than a kiss. Even one given out of pity.
Luca banished that line of thinking and focused on the body he had shaped with the force of his will and the bond with an otherworldly presence. When he was one with Iz he could feel the faint glimmer of a mind that was somehow distant yet content to be joined. To be whole was joy for both.
Luca rose, “get some rest Marius, tomorrow we leave this easy road for a war zone.”
Marius hunkered down with the wolves. Barely articulating a “thanks brother” before falling into a deep slumber. Like many traits Marius took for granted, Luca envied him for his ability to simply carelessly sleep. Luca’s mind was usually too loud and it took a good half hour to quietly sort his thoughts. He loved his brother, needed his brother, envied his brother, and hated his brother all at once. Cold reason battered away a deadly urge. It would be so easy.
Luca fled that line of thinking and got moving to check his trap lines. Luca left little to chance and set an elaborate series of warning and snare traps. The snares usually caught small game and served a secondary function in that they could trip up a stealthy approach if they went unnoticed. Then there were the dagger rakes, step on one of them and a dagger rose rapidly to stab the victim in the leg, they were outlaid in a secondary circle. Marius learned the pattern the hard way after a couple incidents.
On an intellectual level Luca knew that his brother was actually of about the average intelligence level, but he could not help finding fault in his brother’s mental abilities. Both brothers had their mother’s charm and looks, but Luca seemed to inherit all of his father’s magus wit while Marius just had his physical grace.
Luca avoided the subject of their parent’s death. Marius remembered the fire if not the cause. The failed rebellion of Lesh didn’t have a right side and telling Marius what happened would just repurpose him from useful to a creature of vengeance.
The snares yielded four rabbits, Luca would skin and cook one for Marius before dawn, he casually tossed the wolves one each raw. Less time wasted that way.