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Legends tell of a race of divine beings known as Seraphim, whose unseen influence is felt throughout the world and Shepherd, who's most pure of heart could be granted their power. While some would praise the Shepherds as saviors, others would fear their strength and call them demons.

Elysia was known as the village of these magic creatures known as Seraphim that are invisible to all humans except those with high resonance. Because of this, several people consider them either extinct or creatures of myths and fairy tales.

But Sorey knew differently.

After all, he had been raised here in Elysia for fifteen years. It was a holy place where he lived in harmony with many seraphim who he had grown to know as friends and family.

He sat in his home, flipping through the pages of the Celestial Record. Enraptured by the legends within this ancient tome, he makes daily excursions into a nearby ruin with his childhood friend Mikleo, a seraph himself, in the hope of learning more about the Seraphim and their history.

And that's exactly what they were doing today!

Before he knew it, he heard the door open, smiling seeing his friend. He had his nose so into the Celestial Record, it didn't seem like he had been waiting as long as he had!

"Think we'll find anything new today?"

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there's no point in knocking, since sorey's home may as well be his own with how often he's here. when he pushes through the door, he's unsurprised to find sorey with the celestial record open in his lap- that's an occurrence just as daily as their ruins explorations. they've both pored over it since they were old enough to read, marking their favorite passages with ribbons and debating over the historic events documented within. mikleo figures sorey probably hadn't even realized his healing lesson with medea had ran a bit overtime, with how absorbed he gets into that book once he opens it.

he can't help but smile back when sorey looks up at him. it's contagious. leaning against the doorway, he crosses his arms and considers sorey's question- it never quite feels like they've learned everything there is to be known about these ruins, even in a small village like this. there's always something new to discover about the past, and that's what makes archaeology so interesting.

"could be. it's been a while since you've last activated any traps, and you seem to have quite the knack for discovering new ones."

he might tease, but that's what makes exploring with sorey feel like such an adventure every time. it's something he always looks forward to, and he can't wait to get there again today.


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Sorey pat the spot next to him for the water seraph to sit. "I was looking through the Celestial Record and there's another entrance I wanted to try. It's a bit trickier than the others, but I think we could manage it" After all, when they were together there was nothing they couldn't do!

Though he puffed his cheeks out hearing his teasing. "Hey, you activate plenty of them yourself!"

He then noticed the light outside. Wow, was it already that late in the day? "How did your lessons go today? You must have been on the brink of mastering or learning something if you're late? Or did I forget what time we were meeting?"

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at sorey's invitation, he pushes himself off of the doorframe and makes his way to sit beside him. he leans over to look at the page of the book sorey's open to, and the word 'tricky' catches his attention. it's for reasons like that that he began requesting lessons for healing artes in the first place. he and sorey are reckless adventurers both, but humans were a lot more fragile. he hums in agreement that they could manage it, though. they always do.

mikleo hides his smile behind his hand at the way sorey's cheeks puff out, but he's instantly taken aback at the accusation that /he/ activates traps.

"i can count on one hand the number of- VERY well disguised- traps i've activated! i don't think the same can be said for the both of us."

it's true that he'd stayed behind at his own insistence. he doesn't like leaving things half-done, and he's a quick study, but better safe than sorry if it came to having to put it to practice at an instant. "she was instructing me on how to remove poison ailments with the very same purity heal spell she taught me. should be useful, for snake bites and poisonous plants alike, which we both know you've had experience with." his tone may be light, but he really did want to perfect it as soon as possible for reasons like that.

he looked to the skylight in the center of sorey's ceiling. even though it was well into the afternoon, the sun would still be up for a few hours yet. they'd need the sunlight to assess the best course of action to take through this new entrance and he was already biting back anticipation at the thought of new discoveries.

"i'm ready when you are."

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"Oh, because you're SOOO perfect, right?" Sorey huffed before grinning, not even able to pretend to seem like he was mad or annoyed at the other. Sorey was a happy boy overall, but he was his happiest when he was with Mikleo. They always had fun together and greatly enjoyed each other's company, even when they were in a huge debate over what they read in the Celestial Record or the ruins.

Hearing Mikleo was ready he nodded, getting up before holding his hand out for the other and pulling him up. He then blinked, noticing something. "Hey, am I getting taller than you??" he asked, noticing he was having to slightly look down at the other now. When did that happen? It seemed like for the longest time Mikleo was always slightly taller. After all, he was older so it seemed only natural. He grinned, seeing he was right! "Looks like I finally have something over you, huh?" he teased.

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mikleo grinned at sorey being unable to even pretend like he was offended. he might tease, but they both know it's all in good nature.

he took sorey's hand and let himself be pulled up. once on their feet, he could practically hear sorey's thoughts before he even spoke them aloud when he came up just a bit beneath sorey's eye level. he'd noticed not that long ago himself that they were no longer of the same height, as much as he hated to admit it, even to himself.

"not everything has to be a competition, sorey."

like he was one to talk.

frankly, he was a sore loser. he made a discreet effort to stand with his back just a bit straighter, trying to level the playing field as much as possible. his cheeks felt warm and he couldn't stop himself from pouting. he was being childish and he knew it.

"besides, you're not that much taller than me."

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You're one to talk" Sorey teased. They both made a competition out of everything since they were old enough to walk. Even when they were mere infants, it seemed like they tried to learn to do something before the other! Mikleo hated to lose, but then again, so did he!

"It's just different, you've always been slightly taller or we've been the same height" He had a hard time hiding his smile when he noticed Mikleo straightening his posture even more so than usual, trying to even things out again.

He couldn't help but chuckle seeing such a pouty look on the water seraph's face, moving over to poke at him in the sides to mess with him even more. "C'mon, stop sulking and let's go!" he laughed, especially as Mikleo started making his annoyed but cute noises as he poked him.

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mikleo playfully rolled his eyes at sorey speaking his very same thought aloud. they'd always had a knack for being able to read the atmosphere between each other.

sorey was right; he hadn't realized how much he'd enjoyed having the advantage of being taller than sorey until it wasn't something he had bragging rights over anymore. "don't get too used to it. i'm just giving you a head start, is all." he crossed his arms, trying to make it seem more like he was convincing sorey rather than himself.

he jumped a little at the first poke to his side, and he'd never admit that he actually squeaked from surprise. his waist was sensitive and sorey knew just how to use it to his advantage. "i'm not-" sulking, he wanted to say, but his breath caught on another startled noise as he was poked at again. "and i'd love to- go, if you'd- stop-" he squirmed just out of reach, holding onto his sides protectively, breathless and still trying to reign in a laugh. sorey was absolutely beaming and it made his heartbeat pick up even more than the tickling had. he straightened back up, bringing a hand up to his mouth to cover his own smile and attempt to regain his composure. but of course, he couldn't let this end without having the last word, delivering sorey a poke to the side of his own.

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"I don't think puberty and growth is something you can exactly give someone a head start on" Sorey laughed a little, hearing Mikleo trying to convince himself that he'll be taller again soon. But he probably thought he was convincing Sorey, not himself.

The brunette grinned from ear to ear hearing the little squeak, wanting to hear it again. He started poking at Mikleo more, laughing and not letting Mikleo escape his grasp without a fight! He laughed, as he was pretty proud of himself right now even with Mikleo escaped. "I can't help it, it's fun. You make cute noises" he teased, though he really did mean that. Mikleo was very cute, and his little squeaks was one of the many sounds he loved.

"Okay, okay, I'm done so you can stop pouting" he chuckled as he was about to grab his stuff so they could go when he jumped, feeling Mikleo poking him now in retaliation. "Okay, I lied" he warned, reaching over to tickle him now.

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'cute noises'-- he flared up instantly at that. what those noises are is /embarrassing/- what sorey /said/ was embarrassing- how could he just /say/ that- sorey was always genuine and honest, sometimes to a fault (or in this case, mikleo's embarrassment). he desperately hoped his cheeks weren't as red as they felt.

he didn't even have a chance to deny that he was pouting before sorey's hands were coming for his sides again. he made another noise at the contact and threw sorey his best glare, though the effect was kind of ruined by the giggles he couldn't manage to press down.

"you'd better not," he warned, but with how breathless he was it didn't come out very threatening. maybe poking sorey back after he'd finally escaped hadn't been his brightest idea. he took hold of sorey's wrists for good measure, making sure that he wouldn't swoop back in for another attack as soon as his guard was down. "who knew the great explorer sorey was so easily distracted from the promise of ruins by something like this. the daylight will fade if you don't stop messing around." sorey was still grinning, and as always, it had a domino effect; he couldn't bite back a smile of his own in return.

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Sorey couldn't help but laugh, seeing how red Mikleo was getting. He had ruffled his feathers up enough for now, so he wasn't going to point that little fact out.... not yet anyways, maybe later. No matter how much Mikleo huffed and glared at him, it was hard for him to really feel threatened. After all, it was Mikleo. It wasn't that the water seraph wasn't strong, he could put up a good fight! He just knew Mikleo was actually a big softie, despite how in denial he was about it.

"Aww, but it's fun" he grinned. He was having too much fun right now, it was hard NOT to smile! He put his hands back to his sides when Mikleo finally let go of his wrist, in an attempt to show Mikleo he was actually done now. "Well, the great treasure hunter Mikleo is the one that started this. If you weren't sulking I wouldn't have poked you"

As much as he loved hearing the sounds of Mikleo's little squeaks and giggles, he also knew when it was time to stop. Well, sometimes.

"But you're right, we better get going while it's still daylight. I want to at least find the entrance the Celestial Record was talking about before it gets too late" While Elysia was small, the ruins here were quite large! It was truly amazing that something like it was found here in their tiny home.

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he eyed sorey's hands cautiously, making sure they stayed put by sorey's sides instead of back on his own. mikleo was taken aback at being accused of starting this- if he remembered correctly, hadn't sorey pointed out their height difference, which had /technically/ started everything? he chose not to bring it up, huffing out a sigh and throwing sorey an exhasperated but fond look.
sorey had spent all day poring over the celestial record while he was at his healing artes lesson, so he'd be a far better guide to getting where they're going, considering the notabale size of the ruin. he spins sorey around and nudges into his back before he gets carried away by anything again.
"after you, then. i don't think i need to tell you this, since it's practically glued to you anyway, but don't forget to bring the book." they might need it as a reference once it got down to it.

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Sorey grinned from ear to ear seeing the look Mikleo was giving him, as if he had done nothing wrong.

He couldn't help but laugh, seeing Mikleo was eager to go. "Yeah, let's go!" He left the house first, Mikleo closing the door behind them before they headed out.

They walked a ways before it felt like they were having to zig zag their way around the shattered remains of ruin walls that were above ground. Sorey looked back and noticed Mikleo was having trouble keeping up. Sorey had memorized the path roughly from reading the Celestial Record, but Mikleo hadn't. He reached out and grabbed the other's hand with a smile. "Just keep following me, it's pretty winding"

They soon made it to edge of the cliff, Sorey still holding Mikleo's hand as he looked down. "Supposedly there's an entrance down here somewhere!"

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his heart fluttered at finally being outdoors again, following sorey's lead. he kept a close watch on the ground in order to not trip and faceplant into any remains of crumbling walls or the dirt, side stepping things at the last moment that sorey had no trouble avoiding.

he was still staring at the ground when he felt sorey take his hand, and when he looked up, sorey was smiling, bright and eager. anything he wanted to say died in his throat as he felt sorey tug him along. his eyes were fixed on sorey's back instead of the ground, now, and no matter how many times he's held hands with sorey, the warmth of sorey's hands still gave him butterflies every time.

he let sorey pull him to the edge of the cliff and as he followed his gaze downwards, his hold on sorey's hand tightened reflexively. he narrowed his eyes and searched for anything that looked like it could have been considered an entry way, but it must have been obscured from view. the cliffside was covered in creeping ivy and vines that looked strong enough to hold his weight, and neither he nor sorey were strangers to scaling walls and cliffsides. he was almost tempted for a race, but sorey did have the advantage of knowing what to look for and the only grappling hook between them was tied to sorey's belt.

he wasn't quite ready to let go of sorey's hand, and since they hadn't decided who'd go down first, there was no harm in holding on for a little longer. "supposedly, huh?" he nudged into sorey's side. "i guess we'll have to go down and get a closer look, together, then."

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Sorey smiled reassuringly feeling Mikleo squeezing his hand, just in case the other looked over so he knew it would be okay. "It looks like the ivy and vines are strong enough for us to climb back up or go down. Plus I have my grappling hook" Any of them would be strong enough to hold them. Both of them were rather light and slender, especially Mikleo.

Hearing his suggestion he laughed. "What, not up for a race? Is the great Mikleo scared of heights?" Sorey teased, laughing even more when he was answered by a huff. "We can use the grappling hook? Just make sure to hold on tight and I'll do the same?" That would get them both down at the same time! Plus, he honestly wasn't ready to let go of the other yet himself.

Even as a child, he loved running over to hold the other's hand or hug him. He liked the feeling of having Mikleo in his arms, or at the very least holding his hand.

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mikleo bristled at being taunted about not being up for a race, but he wasn't going to take the bait- not this time, anyway.

"i'm not scared!" nervous was a more apt choice of words; looking down from such a height made his stomach do flips, but it was always with a sense of anticipation and adrenaline. "besides, who has to carry you back if you hurt yourself by being in a hurry? you're not exactly as light as you used to be, you know." the truth is, he knew he wouldn't win. he knew when not to make things into a competition specifically to avoid losing.

he let go of sorey's hand in favor of moving closer to his side, securing an arm around sorey's waist as sorey unfastened the grappling hook from his belt. his face felt a little warm knowing that sorey would be holding tightly onto him in turn. like holding hands, it was nothing new, but something that always /felt/ like new with how it never failed to make his heartbeat pick up. and with how close they were, now, it was becoming all too apparent that sorey had definitely grown. he sighed and tried to will his thoughts away from sorey's closeness and towards the potential of finding new treasure as he took one more look over the ledge.

"just try not to get us killed."

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"Ah, fair enough, I can't argue there" Sorey chuckled heartily. Thankfully that happened less and less as they got older, but it did still happen. It still amazed him that someone as small and slender as Mikleo was able to carry him back all those times. Sorey saw not only beauty but strength as well. Despite knowing this strength, Sorey wanted to do everything in his power to protect Mikleo and make sure he was the happiest person he knew.

He smiled, seeing Mikleo let go of his hand in favor of wrapping his arm around his waist. The brunette got out his grappling hook before doing the same with Mikleo. He made sure it had a good grip on the edge.

"I can't make any promises" Sorey laughed nervously, grinning like an idiot seeing Mikleo's startled expression. "Ready?"

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it was hard not to take note of how strong sorey's arm felt around him. sorey was always so warm, and it helped to settle some of his nervous energy.

sorey's laugh was generally heartwarming, but this time he sounded nervous, and frankly, that was concerning all over again. there was a significant drop between here and the bottom, but he'd put his faith in sorey for far more risky situations than this in the past. he tightened his hold around sorey's waist and steeled his resolve.

"as ready as i'll ever be, i suppose."

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"Atta boy" Sorey smiled as he held onto Mikleo. When he felt the other's grip tighten he did the same before backing them up to the edge. " Hold on tight!" he warned before jumping off. Each time they got close to the cliff's wall he used his feet to jump off again as he carefully worked his way down with them both.

Once they reached solid ground again, Sorey carefully let go of Mikleo. He had felt Mikleo's own heart pounding quickly against his chest. Once Mikleo let go he tugged on the grappling hook to get it loose before retracting the whole thing.

"let's start looking around here? The door is on this level, I think" And if it wasn't, well, it was still something new and interesting! Even if they didn't get inside, they could learn so much just from the outside! Even the architecture could give hints or clues to when in history it was made.

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the rush of adrenaline mikleo felt as sorey backed them up over the edge of the cliff was indescribable. with the disappearance of solid ground under his feet came a quickening pulse, and they couldn't reach the bottom soon enough.

and when they did, his joints almost felt sore from how unconsciously hard he'd been clinging to sorey. he pulls himself away slowly, releases a sready breath, and composes himself flawlessly within a matter of seconds. with how often their adventures took them for risky turns like this, he's had plenty of opportunities to master the art of pulling it back together.

sorey sounded unsure about where to begin. mikleo grins a bit at that, but resists the urge to poke fun at sorey just yet. if sorey was unsure of where to begin looking, that evened the playing field out for the first time today. without making a comment, he decides this would be a competition.

he surveys the ground and takes note of broken wall pieces and crumbling pillars. between patches of grass are flat stones that look like they may have once been part of a path, thousands of years ago, if you really, really squinted. he follows it to yet another mass of broken wall and stone that appears to be the same as the rest of them, but notices the ground giving way underneath. sure enough, through all the rubble and overgrown weeds and vines, crumbling stairs could be seen leading to a lower level.

"hey, sorey." mikleo signals him over. "is this what we're looking for?"

he crosses his arms across his chest and sends sorey a proud glance. not bad for someone who didn't spend all day with their nose in the celestial record.

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"Now where could it be?" Sorey asked, more so thinking out loud than anything else. He looked around, not even seeing Mikleo had walked off to look for the entrance himself. He looked at the Celestial Record, trying to find some kind of landmark when he heard Mikleo call his name? "What the-? When did you get over there??" He was always so quiet he still managed to sneak around him even now!

He trotted over to where Mikleo was, grinning from ear to ear like an excited child seeing the stairs. "You found it! How'd you do that??" he asked, so curious and excited right now that he totally didn't see he had just lost the sort-of-competition Mikleo had created to find the entrance.

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sorey was buzzing with excitement, and his energy was always contageous. sorey was so genuinely curious that it was hard to be smug anymore.

"the stones in the grass- they were of a different sort than the ones used to build the walls. the remains of a pathway." he shrugged a little. "it could be something that's easily overlooked, if i wasn't specifically looking for clues to an entrance."

with a new entryway came the possibility of undiscovered chambers and untouched artifacts and treasures. it was hard to tell how far down the stairs went with a view obstructed by patches of overgrowth and caved-in bits of what probably used to be the doorway, and the light didn't reach far past it. getting in would be a chore of maneuvering over obstacles, but an adventure wasn't an adventure if it was easy.

mikleo bumped into sorey's side playfully. they'd have to go in one after the other, with all the wear and tear in the way, and sorey did have a ritual sword that wasn't the sharpest, but could still cut through ivy vines, unlike his staff. "after you?"

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"Oh wow! Good job, Mikleo" Sorey grinned from ear to ear. "The entryway looks old though, so let's be careful" Hopefully they didn't get caved in! But even if they did, they would find a way out. It didn't matter what they were up against, they always found a way to get through it together.

He smiled and bumped MIkleo back, nodding. "Yeah, I'll cut through the vines and clear a path. Just watch your step, okay?"

He went in first, swinging the ritual sword to cut through any vines in the way. He looked back every so often to check on Mikleo, smiling seeing he wasn't far behind him.

When they made it to the final few steps, Sorey held his hand out for Mikleo to help him down, since there was a bit of a jump. Though they were both quickly in awe of the ruins inside. "It's just like in the Celestial Record!"

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he followed closely behind sorey, ducking under broken vines and carefully stepping over bits of fallen stone. once near the bottom, he took the hand sorey was offering him, bouncing off the final step down to the floor level.

he had to blink a few times, eyes readjusting to the darker atmosphere after being used to the sunlight not that long ago. the architecture might have been extremely similar to the rest of the parts of this ruin they'd explored before, but just knowing this branch was yet untouched by them lit his pulse up. he was already wondering what sort of uses this room served, when it was still inhabited in its time period.

when he looked over, sorey was bright-eyed and awestruck. the celestial record and any reference from inside being brought to life was the number one way to light up sorey's day. mikleo felt largely the same, and tugged on sorey's sleeve to pull him further inside. "if you end up gawking so much, i'll find all of the treasure before you." he smiled easily at sorey in the dim light. "finders keepers, right?"

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Sorey wanted so badly to flip through the pages of the Celestial Record to see just what all he recognized and remembered from the pages he had read dozens of times. But with this dim light, it would be hard until his eyes adjusted.

He felt the water seraph tug on his sleeve, smiling seeing the other was eager to go further in. His smile only grew as he could faintly see that smile that he loved so much. "Admit it, you're just as excited as I am!" he said, grinning as he reached over to ruffle Mikleo's hair, knowing that would get him flustered. "I won't lose again!"

Though seeing Mikleo puffing his cheeks out as he fixed his hair he couldn't help but laugh. But now he knew he would have to be on guard for an retaliation!

They went deeper in, their eyes slowly adjusting. Thankfully there was bits of light peeking through to light their way from how much the walls had crumbled and cracked. There were inscriptions and carvings everywhere, some text and some pictures. "Do you think any of these have to do with the Shepherd?"

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he was excited, that went without saying. he was already focused on what was ahead of them, so when he felt his hair being ruffled, he made a tiny, startled sound- "sorey!"

he brought a defensive hand up to his hair and combed it back into its proper place with his fingers, sending sorey a heavy glare from under his bangs. mikleo knew that sorey knew what he'd just gotten himself into.

further inside, he let his eyes travel over the inscriptions on the walls, and could pick out words here and there that he vaguely understood. the artwork was easier to interpret. depictions of flora and fauna, elemental symbolism in intricate linework. these were all things that encompassed the initial asgardian era, a time where shepherds and seraphim alike were highly revered. he hummed his agreement to sorey's question, and while the pictures might not tell as much of the shepherd's lore as the text, it was unmistakable.

"you really admire what it means to be a shepherd, huh."

though it made sense, and what he understood made him feel warm inside. the two of them had always dreamed of a world where seraphim and humans coexisted alongside one another, and that was everything a shepherd stood for.

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Sorey couldn't help but laugh, despite knowing he'd suffer retaliation later for messing with the other's hair. He wouldn't know when or where, but Sorey knew it would happen. At least he was semi-prepared? Well, maybe.

As his eyes started to adjust, he started to pick out words in the inscriptions, able to read enough to get a vague idea of what it said. He smiled some, seeing Mikleo studying it and trying to read what he could. He had taught Mikleo as much as he could one he learned other languages. "This has to at least be from the Asgardian Era!"

Hearing Mikleo's question he nodded with a big grin on his face. "Yeah, I like what he stands for. Can you imagine? A world where seraphim and humans coexist and live alongside one another? That's a world I want to live in" He didn't like the idea that, to other people, Mikleo and everyone else in the village was seen as 'imaginary'.

He had never seen another human for himself, so he didn't know if it was true but.... it sounded like nowadays humans couldn't see or hear seraphim. In fact, a lot of them just saw them as legends or works of fiction. Chances were, the only reason he could see and hear them was because he was raised alongside them.

"It has to be possible, right? I mean, I can see and hear you."

He had to fight back a frown. What if things hadn't been this way? What if he couldn't see Mikleo or hear his voice? That was something he didn't like to even think about, and yet, that's what it was like for other people.

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sorey's idealism always gave mikleo butterflies.

he'd learned from gramps, about humans with high resonance, able to see and hear seraphim even in this day and age, though they were few and far between. he'd also learned that the contributing factor to sorey being so particularly gifted was that he'd grown up alongside so much spiritual power.

"that's because you're-" special, he wants to say, but pauses. "different. humans don't grow up in close proximity with seraphim, anymore." though there were other gifted humans out there, rare as they were. "but, yes, i think it's possible."

he notices sorey's tense expression, senses the shift in the atmosphere. he doesn't want to think about sorey not being able to sense him, either. "don't think so deeply about the what ifs," mikleo says in response sorey's thoughts, written loud and clear on his face. for now, just the two of us is fine, he thinks, and lets the back of his hand brush against sorey's. he feels his face get warm at that, embarrassed by his own actions. "a-anyway. we didn't come here to get sentimental, did we?"

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Sorey blushes slightly, feeling Mikleo's hand brush against his and knowing the other had started to hold his hand in an attempt to comfort him. That thought alone was enough to cheer him back up. Mikleo may tease him, but he also knew just what to say and do to get him into high spirits again."Yeah, you're right. Thanks, Mikleo" he smiled before grabbing Mikleo's hand again, the smile only brightening seeing that embarrassed look on the other's face. "Let's go farther in. We still have a bit before we need to head out, right?" They would need what light was peaking through to get around.

He walked a little farther inside, still holding Mikleo's hand when he saw a chest hidden in the corner. "Hey, look!"

Sorey walked over to it before looking to Mikleo. "You found the entrance so you should do the honors" Plus, Mikleo enjoyed the treasure hunting aspect more so than Sorey did.

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the warm feeling of sorey taking his hand always robs mikleo of anything intelligent to say, so he only offers a nod in response and lets himself be pulled along.

his eyes land on the dusty chest at about the same time sorey beings to point it out.

sorey had given him the honors to open it- he looks over to sorey and gives him a quick smile to show he was grateful before kneeling down in front of the chest. the lock had already rusted through and wasn't difficult to break, and the hinges creak as the lid is pushed open. inside are bits of parchment that were too old and worn to be eligible anymore lining the bottom, and pale orange feathers that had undeniably fallen from an ancient elysalark bird, five in total, in varying sizes. they were the same ornamental feathers that sorey used to wear when they were young, before they'd fallen victim to sorey's own recknlessness. he reaches into the chest and scoops the feathers up into his hands carefully, knowing before he even turns to face sorey that he's glowing with excitement.

"these look familiar, don't they?"

they remind mikleo so heavily of sorey and he's already decided that there's no way he'd be keeping them for himself.

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"So? What's inside??" Sorey asked, beaming with excitement and anticipation to see what Mikleo had found within. He watches as Mikleo carefully picks up whatever was inside. Seeing him turn around his eyes widened. "Those are elysalark feathers! The look kind of like the ones I used to wear" Well, before i messed up those earrings.

The ancient elysalark bird... He remembered finding a nest in the village once. A baby bird had fallen out of it's nest and he had wanted to keep it, but Gramps wouldn't let him. 'A kept bird will never learn to fly. Put it back' But he had kept the feathers that were left at least, since they were molting.

"We might not find those again, keep them" Sorey smiled at Mikleo.

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elysalark birds weren't exactly common. it'd been years since the last time he'd seen any nesting in their village, yet sorey offered so genuinely to let him keep these feathers.

feigning to keep them all makes his chest uncomfortably tight. he knows how important shepherd symbolism is to sorey, and these feathers often appeared as status symbols along with the intricately patterned cloaks. the urge to take sorey's hand and let him have them all right now is almost overwhelming, but the thought of making something out of them that'd make sorey even happier than having them sit decoratively on his bedside table lets him push it down.

he looks down at the collection in his hands. two symmetrical pairs, and one that's larger than the others.

he takes sorey's hand, turning his palm face up, and quietly places the largest of the feathers there.

"at least take this," mikleo says softly, leaving the 'for now' unspoken, and tucks the others safely away.

------------

Sorey's eyes widened at the gesture, seeing the feather in his hand. "You sure? I mean, you found them you should be the one to keep them" he asked, but smiled seeing the other insisted on him at least keeping the one. "Thanks, Mikleo" he beamed as he hugged the other like an excited child that just got a new toy.

He looked at the feather in his hand once he let the smaller male go before carefully tucking it away.

They stayed in the ruin and roamed around for another hour or so before deciding they needed to head back. It would be getting dark soon, and while they were older Gramps still didn't like them being outside the village after dark. Plus they would need whatever light they could get to find their way out of the ruins.


Eventually they got out and made it back to the village. They checked in with Zenrus before heading back to their house. "I'd say today's trip was a success" he smiled as they walked in, Sorey getting his equipment off and putting it in the corner on the floor. Sorey carefully got the feather out of his pocket and put it on his dresser to keep it safe.

------------

"of course i'm sure-" mikleo starts, but then he's being pulled into a hug. it was hard not to think about just how well he fit into sorey, only slightly annoyed about their growing height difference at a time like this.

"yeah..." he says softly, almost to himself, as sorey steps back, watching sorey's eyes sparkle as he looks down at the feather in his hand. sorey tucks it away, and mikleo makes it a point to look at the floor instead, suggesting that they should move on while they still had a little time left.

once they were back home and checked in, he follows sorey through the door to his house. "i'd say so, too." mikleo replies, thinking of the four feathers he has tucked away for sorey. definitely a success. he can't help but smile to himself a little.

he moves to sit on the edge of sorey's bed, glancing at the feather on the dresser. "aren't you tired, after all that climbing?"

------------

Sorey smiled, seeing Mikleo seemed like he was in rather high spirits once they got home. He figured it was because of their outting today and all that they already found! He had no idea what Mikleo planned to do with the feathers he found.

Hearing his question he stretched and thought for a moment. "Hmm, not really?" he answered. Okay, that was a lie. He was actually a little tired, especially physically! But not enough for bed. He saw Mikleo was about to say something when his stomach growled out in hunger. "Apparently I am hungry though" he laughed a little, rubbing the back of his head.

"After I eat, I was thinking about staying up and reading for a bit. Want to join me?"

------------

of course it wouldn't be that easy, mikleo thinks.

it had nearly slipped his mind, since he felt no such thing as hunger himself, that they hadn't eaten yet. he didn't have any sort of need to eat, but he did like to eat with sorey, anyway. he and the other seraphim always had, to make sorey feel less like the odd one out.

mikleo looks to the skylight in sorey's cieling, noting the sky turning from orange to purple. it was almost getting too late to hunt, but something could probably be done about that. "what do you want to eat? are you up for a hunt, or should i make something for you?" he didn't think sweets were a very fulfilling dinner, though.

he thinks about it for a moment before deciding he can't resist. sitting close enough to sorey that their shoulders touched while they read was always nice. "i will, for a bit, since it's been a long day."

------------

"I have some meat preserved from my last hunt, so it should be enough for both of us, if you want some too?" Sorey offered with a smile. He knew Mikleo, as well as the others here, didn't have a need for food or sleep.... but they did what they could to make Sorey feel at home and normal. Well, as normal as Sorey could get. "How about we both make something? Dinner and dessert" After all, he really loved Mikleo's sweets! And not just because he had a sweet tooth.

"You don't need sleep and you act like you're the one that needs it" he chuckled, hearing him say it had been a long day. He knew what Mikleo was doing though. He always worried over Sorey, and he truly appreciated having someone like that.

------------

as long as they had an actual dinner first, there was no reason not to make sweets. besides, it always made sorey happy, and that was always rewarding in itself. he was specialized in vanilla ice cream, which happened to be sorey's favorite, but he had mastered a few other recipes by now, too.

"that sounds fair. what do you want for dessert, then?"

mikleo didn't really have much of a habit of sleeping, honestly, and sorey knew that. sometimes he would get bored enough to doze off for a while, but most of the time he would just stay up all night reading by himself, listening to the sound of sorey's deep and steady breathing.

sorey had gotten him there. mikleo had the stamina of a seraph, of course he wasn't tired.

"fine, fine. just don't stay up all night, okay?"

everything else aside, sorey always made it a point to try to stay awake far later than he should.

------------

"You know what I'm going to say. Your vanilla ice cream's my favorite" Sorey grinned, hearing Mikleo was up for doing both. This was another time they complimented each other so well. Mikleo knew how to make all kinds of desserts and snacks, where Sorey cooked actual meals. They had tried it the other way around before and it did NOT end well at all.

"Is there anything specific you want me to make?" He knew Mikleo didn't have to eat, but it still made him happy he did anyways. He liked cooking for other people, especially Mikleo. He remembered the smile on the water seraph's face the first time he ate some of his cooking and it made him so happy! He wanted to see that smile as much as possible.

Sorey's face lit up, hearing Mikleo give in and letting him stay up with him a little longer. He was about to say thank you when he sneezed, quickly moving to do so in the bend of his arm. He noticed Mikleo looking at him, a bit of concern in his eyes now. "Hey, don't give me that look, it was just a sneeze. It's probably from all the dust from the ruins and the pollen outside"

Humans sneeze, that was just part of it. But he knew why Mikleo was giving him that look. Often times when Sorey was about to get sick, he coughed and/or sneezed frequently.

------------

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