Giving up liquor had been difficult. It seemed he was only truly able to sleep though the night when intoxication robbed him of consciousness, but he had made a promise to his beloved; he would stay clean. They both would. Now that the war was over, that they had each other again, there was no need for substances to fill the void left by lack of affection. Was there?
He wakes, cold and sweating, still gripped by night terrors until his senses return. The Ishgardian instinctively reaches for the bottle that had, for so long, sat on his bedside table, a well-acquainted friend on the nights when dreams of fire and blood would startle him, though his fingers merely grasp at shadows. He takes a few steadying breaths, the adrenaline fading, leaving a queasy pit in his stomach, and he rises from the satin sheets, careful to not disturb the golden Wildwood so peacefully wrapped in slumber. Istolin dresses simply; trousers, boots, and gloves. It is early enough in the morning for him to have the entire city to himself, and he does not plan on feeling the Coerthan chill for long.
The moves are familiar, and he finds comfort in the way the steel sings through the frigid air, the weight of the longsword feeling more a part of him as he goes through the motions.
One, two, three.
One, two, block.
One, two, three.
The aevis keep coming, more and more rushing the gates of the keep. Discipline has deserted him as he swings almost blindly, felling beast after beast, praying the gates are repaired, that the call to fall back is sounded soon. His body aches, limbs screaming in protest as he blocks a blast of static, driving his blade up through the roof of the spoken’s gaping maw. His lungs burn, heart pounding in his ears. Distantly, he hears his name but cannot place it amidst the chaos.
He spins, blade stopping but an ilm away from impact, frozen in place as the scene fades from his mind and reality returns, blade and shield tumbling from his grasp. Istolin reaches out for his beloved, anguish painted on his features, haggard and gaunt from Fury knows how many sleepless nights.
“Forgive me… I could not… I did not…” Words failed as the knot in his throat grew, jaw clenching in frustration of just how pathetic he felt in this moment. Pale eyes search those golden features for any sign the Wildwood might have had enough of the Ishgardian, but as aether blue meet green, those emerald depths holding naught but love and acceptance, he cannot help the sob that is pulled from him.
Eventually, he is coaxed back indoors, the cold long since setting in and leaving him trembling as he presses close to Vaughn’s warmth, clinging to the man as if he were drowning at sea. Some days, the metaphor seemed rather more apt than others.
And some days, giving up liquor was difficult. But on nights like this, it felt damn near impossible.