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LMS VI: Silver and Silk



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Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:28 pm
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Two boys, separated by fate, find themselves on opposite ends of a conflict so much older than they are. What tore them apart may very well bring them back together, but at what cost?


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◈◆◈The Premise◈◆◈

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Twenty years ago, two unremarkable boys from an unremarkable village were caught in a brutal war. Every night, they would go into the mines to play hide and seek with the raiders, and every morning they would wake up to a town that held a few less people. During one of their sessions of hide and seek, they found something: a dragon egg. However, that dragon egg would become lost to time when they were caught by raiders. From there, their lives were torn apart, with both thinking the other as dead.

Now, twenty years later, Railyn Yora is a lieutenant in the royal mage military, leading a force into a neighboring country. Ryun Nguyen is a stablehand turned warrior, determined to defend his town from another devastating raid, and to get revenge on those who killed all he knew. These two men are just cogs in a machine of sides far beyond their grasp, but when their sides clash, the two meet each other once again.

With their worldviews shattered, the two men must begin a journey of self-discovery and self-worth as they must decide what, and who, truly shapes them. There may not be a choice, however, as their worlds quickly collide with one another, crushing everything in their way. A struggle between two childhood friends turned enemies could determine the outcome of the war, and perhaps the fate of all they know.
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┏━━✦❘༻༺❘✦━━┓

◈◆◈The Characters◈◆◈

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Sun Aug 07, 2022 5:29 pm
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┏━━✦❘༻༺❘✦━━┓

◈◆◈The World◈◆◈

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┏━━✦❘༻༺❘✦━━┓

◈◆◈The Plot◈◆◈

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Thu Oct 06, 2022 7:39 am
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┏━━✦❘༻༺❘✦━━┓

◈◆◈WIP Writing◈◆◈

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Week 7 - 1071 words

Spoiler! :
20 years later

The mornings of Alverdion started before the sun itself graced the horizon with its blazen presence, or even before the first farm animal croaked their daytime ritual. It started when the great beasts that crawled out of the sea the night before to rest on the cool coals of the coastline awoke. The reason for this was unknown, but it spawned many a child’s tale to stay off the beach at night time. The sea beasts were of no harm to the inhabitants of the quiet port town, but no one person in Alverdion began their day before they slunk back into the ocean.

Of all the people in the town, one family woke up earlier than the rest: the Viottas. They were also the head of the town, but that was less coincidental and more consequential; they were the ones who founded the town after all, from the ashes of the last war. From the necessity of survival came a habitual process to protect and build upon the town. It had been like this for the better part of two decades. And so it was this day as well, as the giant and gentle beasts left the land and slithered back into their waters, that the Viotta family started their chores like it was any other day. And, for them, it truly was supposed to be any other day.

Vera Viotta was the last one to wake, as she had a late night tending to her baby and making sure it was asleep before she was herself. As she prepared herself for the day and headed down the stairs, she saw three of her cildren sitting at the dining table, the oldest of them and her eldest sitting behind the others, busy with braiding their curly hair into tight braids. It was one of the oldest traditions of Vera's family and those of her community and culture, and her eldest had caught onto it quickly enough. Nowadays, he was able to braid their hair just as well as if Vera did it herself. Thankfully, that lifted a good burden off of her shoulders, as it was not a short process. Without the elders from her village to help her out, braiding the hair of her children took the most part of the daylight every fortnight or so. As someone who helped run the city with her husband, there were endless tasks to do with the limited amount of daylight, so any that didn't require her specialities and hers alone was most definitely a sigh of relief.

She glanced over her children with adoring eyes, before they settled on her oldest. "Leigh," she said, vanishing into a pantry for a moment before pulling out salted meat from the slaughter the week before. "Are you heading into the city today?" She slammed the meat onto the wooden counter, smiling slightly at her kids for a moment before she unwraps the meat.

"Tomorrow." Leigh said, pulling out a piece of rubbery string from where he held it between his lips. He wrapped and tied it around one braid. That way, it'll keep for much longer.

Vera nodded, pulling out a spiked hammer from one of the many drawers below the counter and slamming it down onto the meat. "Is everything on the wagon packed yet? Do you need one of us to go with you?"

"Ooh ooh, I wanna go!" Saffra piped up, trying to turn her head to look at Vera pleadingly.

However, the hair currently in Leigh's hand stopped her halfway, and he tugged gently to remind her of it. "Hey!" he said with a joking tilt in his voide. "Anyway, all that's left is some logs that father's yet to get from the field." He pulled out another string from his mouth. "He's supposed to do that today."

"And we've got important things to do while Leigh Father are gone, Saffra. Isn't that right, Leigh?" Leigh nodded obediently. "Don't worry, you'll get to go next time."

"Hey, don't promise anything you can't keep, Leigh!" Vera said disapprovingly. "You know I don't want them going before--"


"I know, I know." Leigh wrapped the final braid and patted Saffra on the back. "You're done. Go see if Father needs any help." Saffra groaned but obeyed, shoulders slumped. Phara scooted into her place, her time waiting patiently finally finished.

"Besides, the more time you have without the young'uns, the more time you could have with a potential lady friend."

That caused Leigh to stop in his tracks and give Vera a look. "Really, Mother?"

Vera waved the hammer lazily in front of her, accenting her words. "I'm just saying, Leigh. You know I love you--"

"--but"

"--but I made that house for you and your family, not just you and no one but the gods to witness what you do in there."

"Mother!" Leigh covered Phara's ears.

"What?" She feigned innocence. Then she gestured to Phara with her hammer. "Phara, where do babies come from?"

"They come from the fins of Avra and Verdon," Phara stated matter-of-factly.

"Exactly. See, someone knows their stuff around here." Vera pointed at Phara. "That's why you're my favorite," she whispered.

"Yeah, well, maybe Avra and Verdon need to stop opening their fins so much."

"Leigh!" Now it was Vera's turn to be offended. She frowned at Leigh and he matched her frown with a shrug and a completely innocuous look. She chuckled. "You know, I saw that girl from the market making some very suspicious eyes at you. What was her name?"

"Annika, and I'm not interested, Mother."

"She's nice, though."

"That she is." Leigh sighed. "You know what's nicer, though? If we'd stop talking about potential ladies."

"All right, all right." She waved her hands in defeat. "I'm just saying. You know your father and I love you very much."

Leigh didn't respond, but only sighed at the beginning of what he had heard so many times before.

"We have loved you from the moment we found you, when Avra lovingly graced us with your presence on the shores. So, I don't mean to pester. I just-- both of us want what's best for you. And we're getting on in our years. I'm just saying it would be nice to have another lady of the house to help around here. And I know you would make a wonderful father."

Leigh scoffed at that.
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Mon Oct 31, 2022 3:58 am
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Week 8 Writing - 1011 words

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"What? You would be! Tell him, Phara!"

Phara took her moment and piped up matter-of-factly, "You would be the best father anyone could ask for."

"Phara knows just what to say. I mean, look at what you do for your siblings every morning." Vera tugged at a slice of meat, tearing it away from the larger slab, and tossed it onto the large shallow pot that was always heated and always cooking, thanks to the small Eternal Flame that lay within the coals below it. The sizzling immediately reached all their ears, and seemed to soothe the underlying tension in the room.

Leigh held up a large braid, spreading the multiple threads in between his gloved hand, and wordlessly weaved tightly curled strays back into the main strand.

"Oh!" Vera waved a butcher knife around to enunciate her words. "What about... oh, what's her name..."

"Mother." Leigh said with a mixture of warning and exhaustion. He did not want to start this conversation again.

But, clearly she did. "Oh, right! Irisa. She worked at the docks for awhile--"

"--And she's already betrothed to Ackan. Plus, I'm not interested."

"Ah, well, I'm ssure if you tried enough, she would see you are far more of a man than Ackan ever will be."

"Mother, that is enough!" Leigh exclaimed. He gathered himself for just a moment as Phara glanced between them nervously. He plastered on a smile and quickly finished the last braid on her hair, and patted her on her shoulders. "All right, go help Father." Pharah looked to Vera for confirmation to leave the awkward situation, and Vera gave it to her with a nod and a soft smile.

Leigh sighed and swiveled his legs out from the bench and walked over to the wash basin, not looking at Vera as he cleaned the oils from his hands, both gloved and ungloved. Instead of addressing what she said, he dried his hands and took a good look at her. Vera just nodded at him. "We can discuss this later when we're not heated."

"I shall see you later." Leigh kissed her on the cheek and walked out the door.

The rest of the morning transpired smoothly. Grueling grunt work didn't require a brain, so Leigh was able to shut his off and not have to think or worry while he worked. And, he work he did. After corraling all of the kids and sending them off to go pester their mother, Leigh and his father busied themselve with dragging in the drying logs from last week's culling in the nearby forest. The thick trees has been soaked by clouds that turned angry a couple nights before and spilled its contents onto the town and the areas surrounding it. It was an occupational hazard of being a coastal town. While the logs themselves dried out quickly enough, the ground did not, instead preferring to soak up every last drop of moisture to then turn them into a disgusting mess of sludge and grime.

The caravan of supplies couldn't wait for the ground to dry, however, so that was their situation for gathering the logs: mindless and grueling. But, it gave Leigh precious time to be alone with his thoughts. As of late, he preferred that to the mind numbing pestering of his parents or the kids. They each had their own unique way of annoying him. His mother with questions about girls, his father with musings of the future or talks of the town which gave Leigh a headache, or the kids incessant questions about anything and nothing in particular. He withstood the badgering, but it wore on him.

As they piled the logs onto the end of the wagon and begun strapping them in, Leigh prepared himself for another onslaught of interrogation. He wondered who it would be next.

"So, Leigh. Son." His father, Kreives, pounded the last log into place and leaned on it for support to gain his breath back. Of course, being old and out of breath didn't stop him from asking questions. "Will any of the little ones be going with us to the city?"

"No, not until the bridge is complete." Leigh replied succinctly as he tossed rope to the other side of the wagon, where his father caught it.

"Right, right. Shame. I know they really want to see the progress everyone's made on it." He said, his words dripping with sadness but ending with a tinge of pride for what he's been able to achieve. "Ah, well, it will be finished soon. Especially with these supplies." He patted the caravan and chuckled. "I hope they'll love it there."

"They will, Apa." Leigh gestured to accept the rope back. Kreives looked lost for a moement before realizing what he was doing, or supposed to, in the moment. He hooked the rope through a metal loop attached to the base of the wagon and tossed it back over to Leigh, who moved to the front of the wagon.

His father laughed his moment of forgetfullness and tightened the roped on his side before he looked at Leigh and started on one of his tangents. "You'll be coming with me to the city, though, right? The roads are so lonely when you're trekking it... well, alone..." and he continued on with this train of thought before switching to one about the statue of the twin water gods being built in the city square.

His father was definitely the easiest to manage out of the family, since he often trailed off and onto his own tangents. His father was a person who focused on the big picture, and sometimes that led him to lose himself in the moment to something larger than life. It suited him, and he was well suited to help build Diajaveer. It wasn't the life for Leigh.

To be honest, he didn't know what kind of life was for him, or what he wanted out of life. How could one think of the future when they were still so solidly stuck in the past?
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Mon Nov 07, 2022 5:42 am
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Week 9 Writing - 1023 words

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The morning went by with the same kind of energy as most mornings did, and Leigh managed to keep the amount of pestering from his apa as low as possible. It was the main reason he spent his daytime with his father for the most part; he was the one who asked the least questions. That was why he was Leigh's favorite. Perhaps it was because they knew each other the best. It made sense, Leigh supposed, since his father was the first one who encountered him...

That was one thought he refused to entertain. He had spent far too long of his time growing up dwelling on that, to no avail. He would not continue to do so.

After the logs were securely fastened onto the wagon and the wagon itself moved back into town, it was time for breakfast. First, though, Leigh led the children through the process of feeding the variety of farm animals first, as was tradition. These very animals fed the town, so it was important to keep them fed, before their own needs. Through the entire arduous process, Leigh could smell the tantalizing and delicious smelling food Vera was cooking, as the sizzling sounds from the house carried the scent with them all throughout the farm. He could tell the kids felt felt the same, but they were far worse at keeping it from affecting them. The older ones had a constant frown on their face while doing the chores and the younger ones were absolutely fidgeting in their boots and audibly complaining about the situation they were forced to be in. Leigh had told them, time and time again, about why they did this. He had explained bluntly, carefully, elaborately, and countless other ways, but it did not matter; the outcome was the same every single day.

So, today, he decided not to say a single word to the children, and his focus was on getting the chore done. He would rebuke them silently if they started "wandering" over to the home or getting too pushy with the animals, but he didn't try to assist them or help them understand their feelings. He didn't know what changed within him, but he was just not in the mood to try this time around. Maybe it was because he was stuck inside his mind too much to worry about others. Ah, well, he didn't need to try to understand this feeling; he just needed to go through the motions and try again tomorrow. After all, tomorrow he would be in the city, away from his siblings and parents. Maybe he would be able to do something he wanted while in Diajaveer. Then again, he wasn't sure what exactly he wanted to do while in the city. His life had been so completely and utterly focused on people and things around him that he rarely had time to himself.

What would he do in Diajaveer? His mind wandered over to one possibility, but he couldn't even get himself to think it in more than the deepest, darkest corners of his mind, lest he hear Vera's voice in his mind badgering him, telling him that was not what she had in mind from their discussion earlier in the day.

Thankfully, his mind kept him occupied through the rest of the feeding, including the family meal. His mother didn't really pay attention to him, which meant she was still hurt by his outburst in the morning. Then again, he was still hurt by her insisting on having that conversation, despite his insistence that they positively never have that conversation ever. Leigh barely thought himself more than a tool for his family, acting as a worker, a farmer, and a psuedo parent. How could he think about possibly wooing a woman? The thought was completely unappealing to him. It took him several years, even a decade, but he finally found a rhythm for himself. It may be boring, dull, and irritating at times, but it was constant, and that was enough for him. Why couldn't it be enough for his family?

Finally, when food cleared and conversation emptied, Kreives wiped his mouth with a handtowel and sighed contentedly. "This was lovely as usual, Vera." Vera smiled warmly. "Isn't that right, children?" The kids all agreed in their own, youthful ways. It was grating and cute at the same time. It had been awhile, but Leigh was sure he wasn't this annoying when he was their age. Then again, they didn't have to live through their adolescence under the constant threat of war, so they could enjoy the small things in life, even if it did come at the detriment of Leigh's sanity.

Kreives cleared his throat. "All right, I think it's time to get back to work. We still have some barrels of hay to load onto the wagon, and it's nearly time to meet up with the caravan." He set his cup down and gave a weary chuckled to fill the silence in the room. "The work never ends." He ended that with a knowing glance to his wife. Leigh resisted the terrible urge to scoff. The work never ended because they always found something else to do, something, or someone, else to fix. Luckily, Leigh was more than enough person to fix to last the rest of their lifetime. An insidious part of his mind wondered how long that would be. They were good to him, and, although he didn't want to admit it, good for him. That dark part continued the train of thought with wondering how much time he carved from their lives with his own, like a soul-sucking parasite. There was a reason he was alive, but he had to wonder if his reason for being was at the cost of his parents' wellbeing and generosity. It was a question he had been too scared to ask his parents but more than able to interrogate his own mind with for the better part of his life.

He left the burning question to torture his mind for more time and wordlessly followed his father out of the house.
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Mon Nov 14, 2022 5:33 am
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Week Ten Writing - 1006 words

After breakfast, the mind numbing, back breaking, and sweat inducing work seemed both much faster and unbearably slower. On one hand, the work was smaller than the log work in the morning, with it mostly just being the odds and ends of filling in the rest of the carriage. The journey to Diajaveer was not one easily made --they could not just simply walk to Diajaveer, at least not until the bridge was complete-- so they had to make sure to fit everything they could onto the wagon and carriage without overworking the animals that push their cart. It was more a work for their brains, or more specifically Kreives' brains, than their backs, but it still made Leigh sweat. At least he didn't have to work his brain as well as his body. The less he had to think, the better. Even then, it took them the better part of the remaining sunlight to get everything in place for their trek tomorrow. Leigh wished they would have stopped to eat again before finishing everything, but Krieves had gently but firmly explained to him that they needed to complete this before sunlight ended. Krieves was a man who didn't take anything less than perfect. (Why did Krieves take him in all those years ago?) Leigh couldn't help but appreciate the man's tact. He was definitely the one to lead building an entirely new city. But, it was irritating when Leigh's more primal senses wanted to take over, like his stomach complaining increasingly louder and louder about wanting food.

But, finally, they finished. They led the carriage to their barn to keep it close to the farm animals so they didn't have to pull it themselves any further than they had to. However, by the time they had gotten to the barn, light crackling in the air carried with it the tell-tale sign of impending storms. They had no spot by the barn to keep the carriage under cover. Leigh wanted to groan and just say fuck it and let's go inside to get some food and tempt fate before they go back out to take the carriage into town, but with one look exchanged with Krieves, he knew that would certainly not be the case. Sometimes he had to fight himself to not argue with Krieves because he would never, not in any scenario, win those arguements, not like the ones with Vera. See, Vera was passionate and let her emotions and feelings get into the cases she argued, much like Leigh, so it was a more even battlefield against Vera. But, with Krieves, well, sometimes Leigh doubted the man even had emotions since he was so logical. The man felt more akin to the carriage the dragged than the family he had back in the house sometimes. This assumption was not more prevalent than when trying to argue with him. It wasn't that he was stubborn or refused to listen, he just always had the frustrating way to point out the best logical way to go about things and persuade everyone around him that that was the way to do things. Even if Leigh didn't personally agree with Krieves sometimes, the man knew how to present his idea as the best idea overall.

So, they trekked through the still damp dirt, tugging the stubborn carriage behind them with tight ropes that bit into their shoulders while they walked, all the way to the town. It seemed like the carriage didn't move at all when they did, or they took steps backwards instead of forwards at times, but somehow they did end up managing to get to town. The Krieves' household wasn't far from town, no, but it was far enough away that the sun had managed to almost completely vanish from the sky by the time they reached its outskirts. Having a house that resided next to the farm instead of closer to the town meant they were bit of distant neighbors to the rest of the town, but Leigh enjoyed the solitude for the most part. The less people he had to be around, the less questions he had to answer. His family asked mundane things like how he was or how this thing worked or if they could play with the animals. The most painful thing to answer was Vera's poking about his lack of a love life.

But, the town folks, well, they asked far more insidious questions. Why did he wear a glove, why did he not look like the rest of the Krieves family, did he have a past. Questions he shoved down from his own mind that came scratching and clawing back to the forefront of his mind when someone else probed. They weren't ever that forward, no, unless it was a child being youthfully and innocently curious. No, they were devious. They approached the subject from around the corner. They tested the edges, brushed against the defenses. The innocence had been stamped out of them, like it had been gutted from Leigh. However, when that happens, something worse slithers in to fill the vacancy. It was a beast that had no end to its hunger, and it suckled to secrets. If secrets there were none, then it had to be sustained by spreading rumors. This monster lapped ravenously at his borders. He was an outsider, and they wanted in. Well, jokes on them; Leigh has spent most of his lifetime keeping his own thoughts, wants, desires, out of his own mind. They would have to try harder and for much longer to pry his secrets out of him. But, boy, did they try. While his defenses remained solid, his mental fortitude did not have nearly the resistance training.

Still, he had to steel himself no matter how worn that mental metal was. He vacated his mind as the roads transformed from trodden mud to a mixture of cobble and clay and narrowed. It was the first sign of some kind of civilization since they left their farm.
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Mon Nov 21, 2022 2:19 am
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Week Eleven Writing - 1042 words

As they followed the road that circled the outskirts of the town, Leigh had begun to realize something was different on their trek into town. All roads that lead into their little town didn't actually lead directly into town. Instead, they snaked around the outside, like a funnel of water before it descended into the depths of the drain in the middle. It was Krieves' idea. Somehow, the town had actually agreed to his idea, and thus this convoluted mess of a way into town was created. Krieves had envisioned it as a sort of way to unite the fractured villages from the war to a common goal that was easily seen. If everyone had to circle the town and take in the mosaic of cultures and styles before actually entering the town, they would be more appreciative of the work that went into building the town, and thus they would put in more effort, continuing the cycle into one of success. Or, so Krieves spouted out at any chance he could. Leigh really only thought it was unnecessary. But, there was a reason they didn't ask him to build the cities. Well, it was one of an entire list of reasons, but he was sure it held a place somewhere up at the top.

That wasn't the thing that irritated him this time, though. Sure, it was still irritating, but Leigh was more annoyed with the fact that no one had greeted them yet. Now, normally Leigh would be absolutely comforted by this fact, as it meant less time actually interacting with people. But, this also meant that Krieves had no one to talk to. And he was extremely chatty when they got into town. He just reeked of enthusiasm, and the folks in the town guzzled it down like it was the first water they had in days. That meant, unfortunately, that Krieves had no one but Leigh to focus his energy on. Leigh was already done with the day, so he just had to settle with ignoring Krieves besides the occasional agreement or hum that tipped Krieves off he was still paying attention and invested in the absolutely one-sided conversation.

The start of soft pattering on his shoulders and pinned up hair offered him an answer as to why there were no villagers to be seen. That could be it; they didn't want to be loitering on the edge of town when the storm inevitably rolled in. Leigh could relate. The last place he wanted to be was in town when the storm hit, because he knew Krieves would want to get back to the farm. That meant trekking through wind and rain and sludge. That was something Leigh was looking forward to almost as little as the slight verbal jabs he was doomed to get from the people in town about his appearance or his differences. Them happening back to back left an even more sour taste in his mouth.

By the time they got to the entrance of town, Krieves had finally noticed there was no one about. It took him less time than Leigh would have guessed. That surprised him, but it unnerved him more. When Krieves noticed something was off, it meant doom was right around the corner. Just ask the burnt shack that pathetically sat behind their farm, away from view.

Krieves voiced his concerns. It was the first thing Leigh's mind actually registered enough for him to discern the words the older man was saying. It was like his brain had poked him in the mental ribs, forcing him to pay attention to the lecture, as there was going to be an assignment the next day on those exact words. Gods, class was a pain. He was so happy he didn't have to do that anymore. Still, even with the prodding, he forgot to actually respond to his father until the man asked his question again.

"Say, Leigh, where do you think everyone's hiding at?"

"They're probably in the tavern, Apa." Leigh drudged out, his words barely separating themselves as they escaped his lips.

Krieves seemed to notice his lack of enthusiasm in his response, because he glanced back at Leigh; something that he did not do often when he was in one of these moods. He offered a small smile to Leigh. "Don't worry, we'll get out of the weather soon, and fill our bellies with some mead and hot stew."

Now that he mentioned it, Leigh's stomach had just remembered it had not eaten for far too long and it was going to audibly and aggressively remind Leigh about this. "That sounds good," Leigh muttered out, with much less excitement than his stomach wanted him to do.

As they headed in deeper into town, the lack of people unsettled Leigh, and it was only exasperated by the increasing ferocity of the pouring rain. They had to stop twice, once to get out cloaks for the two of them and once to get a wheel unstuck from a particularly stubborn patch of mud. Leigh's muscles screamed at the exertion he was applying to them; since the rain had started, Leigh had to move from the front with his father to the back to make sure the wheels didn't get stuck to the point of no return. Pulling a wagon of this magnitude was much easier than pushing, but he wasn't about to tell his father that just to have the old man apologize and take the task on himself. He would never hear the end of it from Vera, or his own conscious. He desperately wished to complain just as loudly as his muscles were to him, but he bit his tongue and forced himself on. At least he would gain the mass to look strong and slightly approachable when the warmer season came. For all the ladies that were lining up on his doorstep. That would make Vera happy. He was also sure that there were at least a few women who wouldn't mind seeing him shirtless and on the coastline, with all the hard-earned muscles, his age or older. He did not know what to think about that information, but at least it earned him a chuckle in his mind.
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Mon Nov 28, 2022 4:16 am
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Omni says...



Week Twelve Writing - 1114 words

They reached one of their usual spots in town: The Greasy Whale. It was owned by one of Krieves' childhood friends, so they often enjoyed that spot as an area to rest after a hard day's work. Thankfully, there was a large shack next to the tavern where travelers and visitors would put their carriages to keep out of the road and the weather, and this time it held an empty spot for them to stash their wagon for the night. Turning the wagon around proved to be a time-consuming task because the front wheels refused to actually give way in the mud so instead of using them to turn it, Leigh and Krieves had to brute force it and shove it around in the mud and stone until they could get it into the shack and in a spot that wouldn't actually leave it to sink overnight.

Sighing, Leigh tossed one of the straps onto the pile of supplies and walked out to meet his father, stretching his back out to try and get rid of the pain along the way. Krieves flashed a smile at Leigh. "Boy, am I ready for some of Linda's stew. How about you?" Leigh couldn't find the energy to actually say his agreement, but his stomach growled loud enough to speak for the both of them. Krieves chuckled at the noise and patted Leigh's stomach. "Sounds like someone agrees." Leigh swatted at his father's hand half-heartedly. Still, he couldn't get a small smile off of his face as he followed Krieves through the doors of the inn.

The first thing that welcomed him was the warmth in the place. It wasn't heat, persay, but just a compete difference compared to the cold, wet, and darkness they were just in. A huge fireplace across from the entrance was the first thing that greeted them upon entry, carrying with it comfort and the joyful smells of hearth and home. Atop the fireplace was a massive black pot, steam spewing around the lid that haphazardly covered it and onto the stone bricks beneath the fireplace. Though the steam itself didn't carry all the way to them, the smell certainly did. While Vera's cooking was always delicious, it couldn't hold a flame to Linda's infamous stew. She did something with it that just made everyone's mouth water. Leigh was certainly no exception, especially at that moment. His brain was completely consumed by the prospect of sitting next to the fire and chowing down on a hearty serving of stew and some sturdy bread to accompany it. Leigh also wouldn't have minded some ale to go along with it, but Krieves wasn't someone he felt comfortable drinking with just yet. The old man was a bit stubborn when it came to that. He was normally a perfectly reasonable person, but mead, ale, rum, they all infuriated him. So, Leigh would have to skip it for tonight. Perhaps, when Krieves was asleep upstairs later on, Leigh could sneak down and enjoy the drink with some more stew. He liked how it loosened his body up and emptied his mind. It felt like it was only those times, when he was full of alcohol, he was able to loosen up and be free of his thoughts, free to make friends and make strangers and make enemies.

Krieves cleared his throat, and Leigh snapped out of his imaginations and thoughts. "Linda! Where is everyone tonight?" He said easily as they both walked to the bar to the side. Linda, a tall and broad lady who could strongarm any man around with her words or her muscles, whichever one suited her best in the scenario. Her hair had started graying with recent years, and her stature had bent under the weight of time, which was the one thing she hadn't been able to beat out... yet. She certainly didn't to be the victim of time as much as Krieves was, that was for sure. They were around the same age, had to be, since she was a childhood friend of his.

"Krieves, you look horrible!" Linda said matter-of-factly.

"Thanks, Linda. You didn't answer my question." Krieves chuckled. Leigh slid a coin out from his pocket and over the bar. Linda caught it easily and nodded to him. Leigh took the opportunity and grabbed him a clay bowl from a stack on the bar. He inspected it for a moment. The rounded edges had been made uneven due to years of usage, but it was clean and practically begging to be filled with stew. Well, that made a second thing, after his stomach.

As Leigh made himself busy with spooning out ladels of stew, Linda replied to Krieves. "Well, mostly everyone's in the town center. Word around is that some sprightly new general is coming around for some important news and that's got everyone in a tizzy. I would have assumed you just came from there if you hadn't just asked me about it."

Leigh perked up. A general is here? In the middle of nowhere? Someone from Vildavel coming all the way here doesn't bode well for anyone.

Krieves grunted. "Well, then, I suppose I missed the excitement."

"Please, Krieves. We all know the only thing that gets you excited are buildings and roads."

Krieves scoffed. "You know, that wasn't true when we were younger."

"Apa!" Leigh said, trying not to choke on a large chunk of meat that was currently in his mouth.

"Anyway. Why aren't you there?" Krieves asked Linda. She leaned on the bar.

"Some people can't just get up and leave their business. Besides, Malcom's there."

"Well, I suppose we should be getting on our way, then. Don't want to miss this big, important speech this general's got for us. Leigh."

Leigh rolled his eyes and shoveled a few more bites of his stew before turning to Krieves. "Can't we just... not go?" He was asking for both him and his stomach at that point.

"Leigh." Krieves repeated, this time with disappointment and a tinge of annoyance in his voice. That was Leigh's message to stop it. He knew Krieves was about to say something frustratingly true and something that unfortunately made sense, so he stopped that conversation from happening before it started.

Leigh sighed and set his bowl on the bar. "I'm coming back for that." He warned Linda, who chuckled at that.

"It's gonna get cold like that, Leigh."

Ah, right. Cold stew is gross stew. He stooped down and scooted the bowl next to the fire. "Stay." He said to the bowl as it was going to up and walk away the moment he turned his back on it.
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Omni says...



Week Thirteen Writing - 1069 words

His stomach yearned for more food as he and Krieves exited the inn and back onto the dark and dingy roads. Still, with a bit in his stomach he could think a bit clearer and withstand the pelting of the rain far better than before. If there was one thing that good, hot food could do, it was warm the belly amidst a night as cold as this one.

As he walked behind the older man he called his father, he could feel his back knotting against the harsh wind and harsher wetness that soaked through his overshirt and undershirt. The tensing caused the muscles in between his shoulders and the ones in his lower back to groan and complain about their current surroundings.

Pain was one of those sensations that was a double-edged sword. While it caused the immediate sensation of discomfort or just the general feeling of "please make it stop.", Leigh couldn't disregard the positive effects it had on him, ones that he had come to understand over the years.

Pain kept you awake. Well, to a point. If you needed to stay awake longer than your body felt comfortable, you could cause pain to yourself to keep yourself awake. It didn't have to be anything huge. A fingernail in the palm, a thorn against the inside of the wrist, a small prick or a slight cut. Sometimes, even just biting the inside of his mouth could keep him up longer than normal. This was helpful more times than Leigh wanted to admit, especially when he was younger and found himself in some more... precarious situations.

Now, there was a balance to this. If you put yourself into too much pain, your body woulld automatically just pass out to keep you from feeling the brunt of the pain. He learned this one from some of those precarious situations. There are certain people, those who walk the darker paths of life, who know this information intimately, either by use on themselves or usage on others. There are few benefits to cause a person just enough pain to keep them awake -- barely. Leigh found himself to be one of the few people to know of this balance and to have put it into practice before.

The second usage of pain is to clear the mind. When your body is screaming for attention, it leaves little room for your mind to do much wondering or worrying. It was this latter one that Leigh was grateful to be taking advantage of as he paced behind Krieves. There was a certain point where his mind could ignore the pain while it still battered at his mind's defensives, leaving him in a kind of mentally numb state.

Now that there was a small source of comfort in the stew settling into his stomach, his mind and body had both woken up just enough to make him consciously aware of the pain and the haunting thoughts bordering at the edge of his mindspace.

Leigh sucked in a deep breath and focused on his steps. The uneven pebbled ground and the sticky mud were two minor things that added onto the major list of the things that pained him. It took that much more energy to step carefully and not fall, and if his body was sore, he felt every ounce of energy he had left being spent slowly but surely. However, if he focused on his steps, he could spend less energy trying to keep his footing. And so he did that, keeping his sight on the path right ahead of him, predicting where he needed to place his next foot to maximize the stability of his composure. It was menial, laborious, but it was one of the thing Leigh had found that calmed the constant pains he had gathgered from his childhood, little medals of trauma and memories he wished he could forget and scatter to the wind. Physical reminders were the absolute worst, and that pain in the small of his back was the one that made itself known the most often.

Slowly, inch by inch, the muscles in his back and shoulders untensed, and he let out an excrutiatingly slow breath alongside them. Unbunching his muscled released a hold on both his body and mind, like a fog lifting in the early morning. In that vacancy, he could hear the telltale commotion of a large amount of people gathered together. A crowd. Oh, joy.

Leigh dragged the anchor that was his head up to force himself to face the impending task. His father had already reached the start of the crowd, and Leigh himself had found he lagged behind his father quite a bit in his concentration. That didn't stop Krieves, though. Crowds were a place he thrived in. As Leigh crawled closer, the sounds of the rain were drowned out by the blend of voices, sounds both distinct and muddled, like the giggling of ghosts. Leigh felt the unbearable sensation that every single voice in there was talking about him.

He pushed forward. With only the lights of the lamps circling the town center and the moon overhead providing sight, Leigh blended in like one of everyone else. He dodged and ducked through the crowd, and ducked his head each time someone glanced in his direction or each time he bumped into someone too hard. If he was careful, he wouldn't become the talk of this town gathering.

He got close enough to the center to see what was going on. Thankfully, he was about as tall, if not taller, than most of the town people there. He felt a hand on his shoulder, and turned to see Krieves had caught up to him. He didn't think the old man had kept an eye on where he went. Still holding tricks up his sleeve, even at his old age. Leigh would keep that in mind. Perhaps Krieves caught onto more things than he let on. He had the aura around him of being this delightful but distracted old man, someone so caught up in his ideas that he didn't have the time or energy to keep track of the simple things around him. Leigh enjoyed that aspect of Krieves. It allowed him to keep to himself more. Krieves didn't ask much about Leigh, and Leigh didn't ask much about Krieves.

Maybe that had been a mistake all this time.
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Omni says...



Week Fourteen Writing - 1168 Words

The people in front of them cleared, revealing a regiment of troops on horseback, with one wearing significantly more regalia. That must be the important person from Vildavel. He was busy talking to the town elder. Leigh didn't know her name, nor did he particularly care to.

However, the person that did interest Leigh was the commander. It must have been quite a serious matter if someone came to the absolute middle of nowhere. The last time that happened... well, Leigh didn't want to drudge up those memories. They were buried deep, and for a reason.

The commander stopped talking to the elder and turned his attention to the crowd. Instantly, the people around Leigh grew silent. For the first time since he walked into the midst of everyone, he could hear the droplets of rain pitter-pattering on the thatch and shingles of the rooftops around them. The sound was normally quite pleasing, but now it was eery.

First, he pulled out a scroll from within his vest and unraveled it. "Citizens of Alverdion, hear this decree!" Oh, great, Leigh thought grimly, some official statement about how they're raising taxes or something. Leigh wanted to turn his hearing off or just walk away, but something kept him listening.

“By order of the High Reach, all male leaders of households must conscript into the imperial forces. You have the rest of the night to prepare. We ride back to the High Kingdom at first light.” Without taking a second glance at the crowd, the commander continued. He raised his voice to travel over the rising dissent among the crowd. Leigh himself had to take a moment to register what exactly had just been said, but there was no time for that.

"In accordance to the country population records, we have compiled a list of all members to be drafted. It is up to you to come to me if there has been any change of Head of Household since the last population notice. If you have not arrived for the march at dawn, you will be considered acting against the law, and will be treated as such." He rolled the scroll back up.

A few townspeople walked up to the commander, but most started to disperse. Leigh tuned to find Krieves, his mind spinning. He had prepared himself for war, of course. He had to, after what had happened. But this quaint town and large family had been all he had known for awhile. War was something completely different, foreign to him. It was going to be a new life, and maybe the ending of that, and any, life for him.

He found Krieves straggling at the edge of the quickly dissolving crowd, talking in a hurried expression to the same town elder that the commander had spoken with before his decree. Krieves had a look on his face that Leigh had only seen one time before, back when he had first met him. It was one of dire concern.

Krieves noticed Leigh out the corner of his eye, and his demeanor changed, as he plastered on a smile, but it didn't feel genuine. Krieves thanked the elder and turned his attention to Leigh. "Let's go home," he said.
"Are we going to stop at the tavern?" Leigh asked, yearning to finish that stew before getting back on the road.

"No, no. We must get home to prepare before tomorrow." Krieves looked distant, like he was busy thinking about something too broad to grasp if anyone else tried. It was somewhat like how he planed his larger projects, but in those cases he seemed more sure of himself at those points. Now, though, it was a look of feeling lost. A look of hopelessness.

Leigh knew better to question Krieves. He did not want an entire discussion on why he was wrong. So, he followed Krieves out of town.

As they made their way further out of town, the rain lessened and they saw more people. The mood was dour. He saw a couple crying and holding each other with their toddler son in between their embrace. A few others were packing supplies with solemn looks on their faces. Leigh removed his hood and nobody noticed. For the first time. there were more pressing matters then just idle gossip.

the people in the town lowered his emotions, so Leigh drew inward and focused on his own problems. Like the others, his world was going to change tomorrow. He had no weapon, as he didn't really need them, but he had trained with a one-handed sword and shield, and he had a bit of experience • with archery. He assumed they would give him armor and weapons before sending him to his death.

Who were they at war with? He supposed it didn't matter. These type of conflicts never mattered or made any sense or involved the smaller forces. These towns and their people were just victims of the larger picture. The last time Leigh we had gotten caught up in a war, he never found out the sides of the fight, nor which side he was supposed to be on before he had been swallowed whole in the conflict at large.

How would Vera react to the news? How would he break the news to the kids. The older ones looked up to him and the younger ones basically thought of him as another parent. How would that strain Vera and Krieves lives, both as people and's parents. Would they have to move closer to tour ? Would Krieves be able to continue his development of Djavaleer?

They reached the end of the town. Leigh cleared his throat. He had managed to maintain the speed of Krieves, so he wasn't far behind the o der man. "Apa, how are we going to tell Vera? Or the kids?"

"You just leave that to me, Leigh." Krieves said solemnly.

"What do you think I should pack and prepare? I don't have a lot of things-"

"Leigh."

"I shall need clothes for both women and cooler climates-"

Leigh! Listen to me, son.'' Kriens said. That was the first time Leigh had ever heard him raise his voice, and it was startling, even though he still wasn't that loud. Leigh shut his mouth "Leigh, you're not joining the army."

“But," Leigh said, "you heard the officer."

“They want me to join the army."

Leigh furrowed his eyebrows. "I know you are technically the head of household, but I've trained for this."

"I know, and I wish this wasn't the case. This is how it must be."

"But—"

"Leigh. Son." Krieves stopped in his tracks, and grasped Leigh's shoulders. "You are my son, in every way that matters. But, we are not related by blood. The country doesn't recognize you as being a pot of my household. We never thought this would be a problem." He heaved a heavy sigh. "So, it must be me."

The rest of the trip home was made in silence.
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Omni says...



Week Fifteen Writing - 1053 words

Leigh lagged behind Krieves as they reached the homestead. He couldn't bear to be around as the news was shared. He heard first the joyful cries of the kids realizing their Apa was home. Little did they know. How would they tell the kids? No, Leigh didn't want to think about that. He glanced over to them, and saw Krieves embrace Vera. After a moment, she released the embrace and gasped, her face contorting enough for him to see from where he stood, awkwardly shifting back and forth in the pitch blackness, with only the moon glancing down upon him. That was enough of that. Leigh stopped viewing that horrible situation. There was only one place he could think about going to.

The boathouse. It was ironic on multiple levels that the boathouse was the one last safe place for Leigh, especially after the kids came into their life. Even in the darkness, Leigh knew the path by heart. The trees thinned to bushes, to sandy dunes and rocky outcrops. It was then that Leigh turned, walking alongside the shore. He kept the roving sea to his right, keeping his eyes low to the grand. It made seeing things much more difficult.

However, it was better than getting lost watching the waves at night, just sinking into existential dread and terror. Leigh could handle the sea during the day, but he immediately buckled when attempting it at night. His fingers absentmindedly sought out the comfort of the rope that was put on the trail years ago.

It offend a guide to the boathouse, but more importantly, it became a source of solace over the years for him. Anytime he had to grab ahold of this rope, he was not in a good spot. Today was no exception.

The boathouse was a blot against a starry night, sticking out like a blight against the picturesque background. The wooden steps croaked against his feet, bending under the weight of time. The door opened easily, it's hinges weathered and loose. Leigh walked inside and wordlessly laid down on the walkway, staring at the ceiling. Leigh exhaled, slowly and desperately, and let his eyes unfocus.

The reflections of the water on the boathouse mellowed out to thick lines, dancing around the darkness in a wordless melody. The normally raucous waves thinned out before reaching the boathouse. The mellowed water sloshed against the sides of the boathouse and those its boats, bringing some beat to the reflections' rhythm.

Pale blue circles bounced around each other, blending in and bleeding into each other. Leigh let the mirage bleed into his vision, and then he closed his eyes. The memories of the water danced in behind his eyelids and he let the sounds of the water fill the void where his thoughts would normally be. This place was one of the only things that could halt his spiralling.

Just as he was beginning to calm down, he heard the door's hinge swing open. He didn't bother to pry his eyes open. It was only one of two possible people, and Leigh didn’t really want to try to talk to either of them. The person laid down next to Leigh and sighed. It was Vera. Leigh didn't know if he preferred that over the other option.

For a moment, neither of them spoke. Neither of them really needed to, to be honest. Leigh didn’t have the energy to do so himself, and he knew Vera didn’t need to ask just how he was doing. She probably already knew, from what Krieves had said to her. Then again, he didn’t need to say anything. Leigh and Vera were far too similar. Vera knew exactly how Leigh felt, because some part of her felt the same way.

Leigh wished he could reach out to comfort her, to console her, to do something rather than being in his one comfort zone. However, he was far too stuck in his own mind to attempt to reach out and delve into someone else’s.

His eyelids felt heavy, and he felt like his own body has started to melt into the boathouse. His emotions drained into the damp wood and soaked into the waters below. He wondered if Vera was able to absorb any of his feelings.

Vera cleared her throat. “Krieves told me.” She didn’t really need to say that. Leigh kind of wished she hadn’t spoken at all. Because speaking something into existence like she just did required him to actually face it instead of running from it or burying it deep, deep down.

Leigh licked his lips, tasting salt. Was it from the sea or from his own cracked lips? Or maybe it came from tears he didn’t realize he had shed. He attempted to speak, but couldn’t find any words that would appropriately fit the moment. So, he said nothing. He knew something would be said eventually.

“When I first heard the words that Krieves said, the first thing that came to my mind wasn’t about my children, or my husband. I just thought… why couldn’t it have been me, taking his place?” Vera spoke into the darkness of the boathouse. It made things easier to say when you didn’t have to look at anyone in the eyes. “Just a split moment of reason would have explained away that thought, but still, my mind asked that of me and it has stuck since.”

Leigh couldn’t break this line of thought. It was then he realized that Vera needed this moment in the boathouse just as much as he did.

“The children need me. But, they need their Apa as well. He’s too old for war. I’m inexperienced, but no doubt they would have shoved me into some nurse’s tent to tend to the wounds of battle. I would have been miserable, but I would have been alive when the war was over, ready to come home to my husband and children. But, Krieves…”

“Don’t.” Leigh interrupted suddenly, and the silence settled back into the boathouse. It sounded harsher than he wanted it to, but he knew that Vera immediately realized what she was about to say after he stopped her. Neither of them wanted that, no matter how probable it might have been.

The ripplings of the waves were broken by soft sobbing.
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Omni says...



Week Sixteen Writing - 1203 words

Leigh didn't know what to say, so he said nothing. He supposed Vera needed her time to work through whatever she was feeling. He just wished he wasn't tagging along for the ride.

Finally, Leigh cleared his throat, and he heard the sobbing soften. "It shouldn't be you."

"It shouldn't be him," Vera said.

"It shouldn't be him,"Leigh agreed.

He desperately wanted to say more, but he just did not know what to even try to say. What could he say that would give the situation justice? He could say that he would sneak out and take Apa's place in the military. Middle of the night, no one could know.

But of course people would. He is no old man. The military would see his name and his skin color and immediately figure out the ruse. Then both and his family would become enemies of the state.And the rulers of Uildauel were not known for their mercy. He was one of the few living testaments of that.

Krieves was also not one who had a huge ego or much pride, but he would not do anything that put his family in danger. Stubborn fool. He abided by those rules his entire life, and where did that end up getting him?

Leigh didn't hear Vera get up from her position next to him. He only found out when he stopped hearing the cries. He opened his eyes and let the faint light settle in his vision. Vera had moved to the lone window, her back to him.

He scrambled to a sitting position, dangling his legs over the edge.

Vera glanced back at him. “Krieves pet the kids to sleep, it seems like. The flames were doused."

Leigh hummed in response. Vera walked back to him and returned to her position at his side. Before she sat next to him, she heaved up the tails of her dress, giving her the opportunity to dip her feet in the sloshing water as well. She was shorter than Leigh, so she was only able to skim her toes against the waves. The two of them busied themselves with kicking their legs above the waves, in opposing rhythms.

Leigh could feel Vera's eyes on him. He opened himself up and wrapped his arm around her. She then leaned on his shoulder, humming lightly, although Ioud enough so that Leigh could feel the vibrations through her jaw into his own bones. While still leaning on Leigh, Vera's hum turned into a slight whistle of an old song they used to sing to him when he was younger, especially during his rougher nights.

Leigh began humming along, and Vera's tune stopped. Leigh could feel her smiling. "You remember."

"Of course I remember."

“... Do you remember that night?" Vera asked, which felt more like a prod into his heart and a fresh stab to his gut.

Vera must have felt him instinctively stiffen because she glanced up at him. "It's okay, I just, I know it's not a good memory for you.” A moment of silence. "Did you know that I was the one who found you? That day?"

Leigh shook his head, too unsure of himself to respond any other way.

“I know it’s not a day you want to think about. It’s one I can’t stop thinking about.” The words just started spilling out of her mouth. “Ever since Krieves told me he had to leave, I can’t stop thinking about it. It was right here, before we built this place. I wasn’t one to be believing in fairy tales and the like, but it was like… well, it was like the water gods themselves brought you to our doorstep. Krieves, he was always the most reasonable of us too, but that night showed a whole new part of him. He could have sworn he saw the twin water gods that night.”

Leigh said nothing. This was a side of the story he had never heard before. Vera and Leigh had come to an unspoken arrangement early on that they would not speak about what happened that night. In the beginning, Vera was full of nothing but questions. She wanted to know who Leigh was, what his name was, what had happened to him, and so much more. Too many questions. It was more like an interrogation than anything. If Vera prodded too much, or too often, or a combo of the two, it would send Leigh into a panic attack. Over time, they compromised on some things. But, that night, no compromises were made over that night. Leigh wouldn’t, couldn’t, talk about that night.

Until today, he supposed.

“We didn’t even know if you were alive at first. Thought you might have been a baby whale who got beached or one of the great beasts come to this part of the beach, like it got tired of the cooling itself on the rocks and wanted something softer. You were so still.”

In some kind of twisted irony, Leigh felt completely still, unable to move. He suddenly felt so acutely aware of every minor discomfort on his body at the moment. His shoulder was starting to complain about Vera’s head resting on it. His bottom was damp and cold, as the water from the wood had seeped through his layers to tickle at his bare skin. His back still ached from the work of the day, and he was just absolutely drained, mentally, physically, and now emotionally. In all the ways he could think of, his body was screaming at him to get out, and pretend this day had never happened. But, he was stuck.

“Both Krieves and I weren’t really ones to rely on prayer for things. But, we prayed a whole lot that night. Krieves had gone into town for help, and I…” she stopped for a moment, mulling her words. “I had to tend to your wound. I had to get the water out of your lungs. I had to keep you breathing. Krieves, if he had come back to find you still, it wouldn’t have been the end of the world for him, but I had become attached. From the moment I laid eyes on you, I knew I needed to keep you alive.”

Leigh swallowed, his throat dry. “Thank you,” he said after what felt like an obscenely long spread of silence. He didn’t know if he meant it.

“No, thank you,” Vera said. “I saved your life that night, but you gave me a life worth living.” She suddenly stood up, breathing in deeply. In the pale light of the moon’s reflection, Leigh saw her hold out a hand. “Let’s get some sleep.”

She sounded different, like something inside her had suddenly fallen into place. Or, perhaps whatever had changed had broken beyond repair. In the near complete darkness, Leigh couldn’t tell. He wanted to stay at the boathouse, or just stop existing in general. Or maybe he didn’t know what he wanted.

Somehow, she knew what he was thinking. All she said was, “tomorrow is another day.”

Hesitantly, Leigh took her hand, and together they followed the trail back to the house.

Krieves was gone before he woke up.
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