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Neel and Sirosso Part 1 (m for now)

Mr. Black Cherry Berry Tea

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So this is just a little intro for a pair of characters that I hope to write a whole series about. Basically all you need to know is that all varieties of extra- super- para- and non-human sapient species (and maybe some non-sapient monsters idk we’ll see) are allergic to Sirosso, Neel included. And aside from that... enjoy!


Hard straw. Dull roof. A draft from the window and no fire in the hearth. Another mercenary morning for Neel the Swordtongue. Another inn in another town, another monster for another quest, another meager reward to be exchanged for another night in another inn in another town… 

Still, he had a blanket. That he couldn’t take for granted. And a hard straw bed was better than the hard ground. A dull, leaking roof was better than no roof at all. The drafty window, the cold hearth, they were minor imperfections in comparison to some of the lives he’d lived. And even in the repetition of his life, there was a glimmer of hope. Not hope that he’d ever restore himself to the heights from which he’d fallen, that guttered out years ago. But perhaps hope that he’d seen his worst day as well as his best, and that soon both would be equally far behind him, growing dimmer as they grew distant, like the vague outline of the leaky roof of another inn in another town as he walked another road towards another monster and another quest. And then, in a small, guilty place he hid just behind his chest, there was also a little, greedy desire to…


Neel was roused from his thoughts by the calamitous snoring of the man beside him. Neel and Sirosso had long since become comfortable sharing a bed—for sleeping only, Neel was constantly assuring the women whose bedchamers he hoped to delight—but Neel could never get used to that snore. Nor could Neel’s nose get used to Sirosso, as that old familiar itch crept into his nose. It was far too dim to blossom into a sneeze now, just a shudder of faraway feeling as the sensation pulled at his attention. He scrunched his nose involuntarily, though he’d rather coax the feeling out than recoil from it. After all, if Neel could be distracted from his morning’s reverie by his companion, why not his companion awoken by Neel?

Because should the sneeze come to fruition, Neel’s nose would surely awake not only the man beside him but in all likelihood any other inhabitants of the inn who’d chosen to sleep in well past the rising of the sun. That was yet another thing that had changed about Neel. He’d never been much of a sneezer, and when he did sneeze, it was an unremarkable “attsshh!” easily smothered into a cloak or robe. Until he met Sirosso.

Habituation had smoothed if not extinguished his nose’s reaction to Sirosso, but the first time they met, Neel the Swordtongue had briefly turned into Neel the Stormnose. (It required a very firm foot-down and extensive use of his famed sword of a tongue to keep that surname from sticking). He’d sneezed so loud and so long and so violently that he’d scared all the birds out of the trees, nearly caused a stampede out of the barn, and caused the town guard to hunt down the source of the commotion, swords drawn, assuming some sort of attack had been launched. (It took some of the old sword tongue to calm them down as well.) Fate conspired to make them travelling companions despite Neel’s violent reaction, and ever since then, while Neel’s occasional sneeze from dust, from pollen, from a spicy dish or the odd scent that struck him the wrong way was the same unremarkable “eettscchh” he’d known from his youth, his far more frequent sneezes from his allergy to Sirosso was a great beast of a sneeze, a shouting, spitting, roaring affair that made babies cry, made grown men jump, and made Neel the center of attention every time it occurred. 

And since he’d rather bring the sneeze on now, of his own volition, than have it strike out of the blue later on (and waking Sirosso would admittedly be fun), Neel leaned down and took a quick sniff right at the nape of his companion’s neck, and the itch blew up so suddenly and violently it was all he could do to recoil, to avoid erupting right in Sirosso’s ear, to desperately pitch to the side as he gave vent to the mighty “HHHHESSSHHHHHHHHUUHHH!!” Perhaps sniffing at Sirosso’s neck had been a mistake, because even as his companion startled into wakefulness (”Neel—!”) Neel succumbed to another vicious, purging “EEEEE-YESSHHH-UHHHHHhhhh!!” That sneeze was louder still at its apex, trailing off into rumbling satisfaction. Only a roar of a sneeze could be commensurate to the monster of a tickle in Neel’s nose.

Sirosso, for his part, damn near fell off the bed.

“By all your rotten Northman gods, damn you Neel the Swordtongue!! Ohhh I was having the most wonderful dream, and to have it ripped from me by your ridiculous screaming… you know I have heard orcs with less absurd, dramatic… AUGH!”

“If it makes you feel any better, you practically snored me awake.” Neel said, gentle smile playing on his lips.

“Dragons, Neel. I would rather have a dragon sneeze at me, fire and all, than listen to another of your great roars.”

“You’re probably travelling with the wrong guy then.”

“You’re lucky you have your silver tongue, or I wouldn’t be.”

“Sword’s tongue, I wield it to woo and to ruin; and admit it, you can’t live without me.”

“Without you, perhaps not. Without your sneezing? Very certainly!” Sirosso said, already whirling around the room, packing their things, snatching off his dressing gown and armoring himself for the day. Neel was long past both his embarrassment at ogling SIrosso’s quite pleasing form and the ogling utself—he’d seen his fill of Sirosso and then some. To Neel, Sirosso’s body could no longer be merely a source of embarrassment or pleasure. To Neel, Sirosso’s body was a tool, a battleground, a thing to guard, but above all a fact.

Neel joined him stripping off nightclothes—not that either of them wore much to bed, just enough to cover their genitalia, that bare boundary about all they had left—and assembling himself for the day.

“Oh, Sirosso, you charmer. You know my nose is your favorite. Your mere presence might induce sneezes from giant and troll, fae and chimera, werewolf, kelpie, and kraken alike, but no sneezes is as precious to you as… oh wait… oh I think I feel anuhh… another one coming on…!”

“Oh shut it Neel!” Sirosso said, before hightailing it out of the room, the man’s manaical efficiency having them packed and ready to hit the road in only a few minutes. 

Neel, for his part, had of course faked the oncoming sneeze, though he did feel a little ghost of an itch. Hopefully he’d be able to wait until they left town to belt out another of his windstorms. For all he enjoyed joking about his sneezing with Sirosso, he didn’t really want to be known primarily by his nose in every town to which traveled. Especially if he wanted to be welcome in the inn again. 

No, he had chased Sirosso from the room just for a last moment of reflection. Another inn in another town, a town they might never see again. A life constantly on the road, making a living from Neel’s way with words and Sirosso’s sneeze-causing quirk and their combined talent for battle—when necessary of course. It was not the life Neel might have imagined for himself, in his teenaged glory days. But that was two, three, maybe four lifetimes ago.

And it could be much worse. After all, he did have a blanket. 

“NEEL!” Sirosso shrieked, sticking his head back in the door, “Neel, if you’re not going to blow my eardrums out with your accursed sneezing, could you please get a move on?”

“Now wait wait wait, didn’t I wake you up? As far as we know, you had plans to sleep in all day…”

“Oh no you don’t as though I’m not the one who checks our ravens and keeps our appointments and…”

“Our appointments! And whose fault was it we arrived late in…”

Well, a blanket, and a friend.

Edited by Mr. Black Cherry Berry Tea
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