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The Descent



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Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:02 pm
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JamesPeterson says...



The Descent





Years into the future, a cataclysmic event happens. The Descent, as it is called. Earth suddenly merges with Hell. Both demons and humans are killed in the event, death tolls ranging somewhere into the billions.
In this future, Earth had become advanced, gaining technology far beyond what we have today. Hovercars, ion weapons, cyborgs, etc. The Earth had become one massive metropolis of skyscrapers and smog.
Now the Underworld is skyscrapers, lava, demons, and smog.


****

You have the option of being either a human or a demon. Demons have eight variants, listed below.

Spoiler! :
-Amethyst Bonding/Warping
-Ruby: Wings/Flight
-Sapphire: Telepathy/Telekinesis
-Topaz: Super Strength
-Diamond: Precognition
-Emerald: Health and Growth
-Onyx: Invisibility
-Amber: Super Speed


Rarity:
Ruby: 1
Topaz: 2
Emerald: 3
Amber: 4
Amethyst: 5
Sapphire: 6
Onyx: 7
Diamond: 8



Amethyst demons are able to teleport short distances similar to Nightcrawler. They also have the ability to “bond” a weapon, which allows them to teleport to that when they throw it short distances. Their horns are of medium length, varying in curling or not.

Ruby demons are where the standard demon comes from, with wings and horns, Rubies fly over the ashen fields of hell. They are normally in charge, and are the most common variant of Demon. Ruby demons have longer horns that curl into the standard image of a demon.

Sapphire demons have short, straight horns, and they are not the most common. Sapphires have telepathy, meaning they can read your thoughts, and limited telekinesis. Most sapphires stray away from large cities, tending to loathe the sheer amount of thoughts.

Topaz demons have thick, slightly curly horns, like a ram’s. They have the strength of ten men, able to withstand other things as well. Great endurance and strength is their talent. Topaz demons are pretty common, just behind ruby demons.

Diamond demons are incredibly rare. Most who are born are killed, imprisoned, experimented on, or run away from cities. There is a rumored bounty hunter that they say is a diamond demon, and he is incredibly efficient. They have a varying length of horns.

Emerald demons aren’t very rare, and live among everyday Rubies, Topazes and humans. They standardly have horns on the side of their head that extend somewhat, and might curve. Emerald demons can heal from most wounds, they can also make plants grow.

Onyx demons have obsidian-like skin, which matches their reclusiveness. Onyx demons are very rare, and they can turn themselves invisible. Onyxes also have increased senses to go with their invisibility. They have longer horns that usually curve, but don’t curl.

Amber demons are not terribly rare, they have enhanced speed, and higher senses to accompany that. Their horns are shorter, sometimes no more than stubs. Ambers are another common citizen of cities.


Keep rarity in mind when deciding your variant. Humans have variants in the way of standard races of today (i.e - Caucasian, Latino, etc). However, you can have implants. Implants can replace any normal body part, but only up to 45% of your body can be robotic. Implants are of any variety - use your imagination! :D

For the story, you are a demon or a human, and have received a letter from one "Gaufrid Naraden". The return address is TERMINUS.
The contents of the letter can change if you want, but the essentials are this:

Spoiler! :
Dear *NAME*,

You are accepted. Please come to this address two days from receiving this letter. If you come earlier, you will be rejected. If you arrive late, you will be rejected.

333 Scopular Drive
Azeria City, Vitreus Sector
Knock On The Door at 12:30 p.m. - Use the phrase "I'm here about the apartment listing."


No questions.
You can accept, and learn the truth, or deny and forever wonder.

The choice is yours.

Signed, Harpocrates.



What you decide to do about this letter is up to you.
But remember...
Hell awaits.


If you would like to join/have any questions, send a message in the OOC. There will be a character sheet there.

Slots:
1. @winterwolf0100 - Xozinath Tidrogg

2. @Ignorance - Solfataras Corrupsus

3. @Spearmint -

4.

5.

Thank you!
P.S-This is the first Storybook I have made, so bear with me... :)
Last edited by JamesPeterson on Thu Apr 15, 2021 11:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Zacharias Drake
  





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Thu Apr 15, 2021 3:20 pm
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JamesPeterson says...



RISIUS


Risius wanted to be noticed. He was trying to get attention.
So he flipped to the next page of his newspaper.
Paper was a rarity in of itself, since there were no trees in hell. Newspaper? Well, it left long before humans had even discovered ion cannons and implants. All the news of the previous day, or even that day, on a chopped up tree...intriguing.
Ris was already getting a few confused glances at his direction.
Hm? What’s this? Ah yes, an old article from 2002, nearly 200 years ago. Risius skimmed the lines, not really focusing on them. He was waiting for his prey.
Ris checked the watch on his arm. Quarter past two. The thugs should have come round already.
Continuing to flip through the pages of his newspaper, Risius continued to wait until it was thirty minutes after two. That’s when they arrived.
A black hovercar turned onto the street, and around twenty or so men piled out. Several held various weapons of some kind, walking with a fake relaxed posture. Resistance had happened before.
“LISTEN UP!” the lead person shouted, a slender demon with curly horns and pitch black skin. Risius hadn’t expected that. Onyxes were trouble, and Risius didn’t like trouble.
“I hear that you people think you can push back and stop payin up! Well, hate to break it to you, but the Nightbleeders don’t back down easy!”
There were woots and shouts of agreement from the men behind him.
One old, homeless man stood and limped onto the street, with what seemed to be his wife trying to stop him. “I would...rather die...than...than,” he broke into a coughing fit. That happened to the poor and those that lived in the slums. The ash and smog would easily give you problems.
The Onyx seemed to be waiting as the old man recovered.
“I would rather die than bow to you…” he finished.
Risius continued to “read” his newspaper, when, in reality, his eyes were peering over the top of it. The old man was shaking. He was afraid. Who wouldn’t be, after all. You were already in Hell, so you knew what happened when you died. You became one of the Damned.
The demon stepped forward, sneering down at the cowering, elderly couple.
“Very well. It will be as you wish,” the onyx waved his hand to one of the thugs.
There were two burned corpses crumbling to ash in the street.
Risius gritted his teeth. So many variables. There weren’t supposed to be any casualties. He would make it as few as possible.
The demon ground his boot into the ash, and shouted, “See here!? This is what happens when you disobey.”
Suddenly something clicked into place. That man was going to die anyway. The Nightbleeders had made him do that, so that he could be an example.
Why, those twisted…
Risius tucked his newspaper under one arm, and, whistling, casually walked towards the gang. Their eyebrows raised. He wasn’t one of their “examples''. Risius wasn’t a variable.
He was the solution.
“Ho there boys! Mommy said that we can’t play today, I’m sorry,” Ris lowered his voice, “I don’t think she likes your ugly faces.”
The onyx narrowed his eyes, and clenched his fists, “Alright, jokester, get back to whatever filthy hole you crawled out of.”
“I would, but I think that your ugly face is spreading! Oh dear, yes! I can feel it! My mother won’t accept me back looking like you!” Risius said, patting his hand against his face in a comically frantic way.
One of the men growled, stepping forward, “Why you-”
The leader cut him off, “I’ll handle this. Clown, didn’t you hear me? I said, get back before I blow your head off!”
Risius sighed with relief, “Oh, please do! It would be quite the improvement...”
The onyx pulled out a gun, “Look. I don’t like to kill my money-makers, but if you keep it up...there’s gonna be clown to clean off the streets.”
Acting confused, Risius continued talking, “Don’t like to kill your money-makers? Hah! Are you dumb, or just trigger-happy? No, dumb, ugly and trigger happy! That’s it,” he pointed to the bodies lying in the street, nodding to himself as if he just finished a puzzle.
The gang-leader pulled the trigger.

****

Risius’s original plan hadn’t worked. He thought there would only be a few thugs, and that they would see his newspaper, back him into an alley, and…
Well, he would figure it out from there.
Smiling to himself, Risius walked on a street a few blocks from the Nightbleeder “incident”. He payed for a donut at a small bakery, and chewed it on his way home.
His house was on the other side of Azeria...why did he always walk home? It would be so much faster to take a hovertaxi.
Nah, he knew why.
Trudging through the slums of the city let him see people. See the poor, see the down-trodden. Maybe help a few.
Oh, that and get robbed. Risius always loved getting mugged.
Maybe today’s my lucky day… he thought as two mean-looking men started following him. They saw the newspaper did they? Or maybe it was the hat. The hat always drew attention.
Risius couldn’t help that he was so old-fashioned.
Suddenly, a knife was at his back. “Into the alley. Now.”
Finally!
Risius was half-shoved into the grimy alleyway next to him, where only rats and trash remained. The two muggers stood, cheap knives out, ready to gut him.
“Give us everything, demon,” the tall one spat the last word like an insult or curse.
Risius played the fool, as always, “Oh, please don’t hurt me, I’m just a rich man with like...thirty hovercars, a mansion, and...oh, right, money!”
He fumbled to grab his port and wallet.
“Hurry up!” the squat criminal hissed.
“You hurry up, you grubby little...oh, yes, this is a mugging! I forgot, sorry.” Risius searched through his pockets for...ah yes there it was.

****

Risius dragged the thugs up against the wall of the alleyway, making sure they were comfortable. The squat one took a bit of work. After he was done, Ris dusted off his hands, and tucked a few credits into the tall one’s pocket.
“There you go...maybe stop mugging people? Good, good,” Risius said, mostly to himself. Then something struck him. The thug had known he was a demon. Most people didn’t recognize it, as his skin was a similar color to humans most of the time.
But his horns were gone, so how did the criminal know?
Hm. Good eyes?
He took off the top hat, and gingerly ran his fingers over the bumps where his horns used to be.
He turned to leave again, “Oh well. Sent by someone, maybe?”
“Yes…”
Spinning on his heels, Risius faced Shorty. He was awake? He should have been out for another five or ten minutes...Hm.
“Well...who sent you, then? Chop, chop, I haven’t got all day...Well, I do, but you can’t have it.” The thug seemed paralyzed still, only his eyes were open, and he could move his mouth.
“Letter…we...decided...to rob...you...instead…”
Risius raised an eyebrow. “Someone sent you to deliver a message and you mug them? Not good manners, that. Alright, where’s my letter?”
The man chuckled, as well as he could, “Your...pocket. I put it in...while you...gave Shay credits…”
“Well, nice job! I usually notice a pickpocket…” he was thinking at the time, however, and thinking was a distraction. Patting through his many little pockets, Ris noticed a...paper envelope in his pocket.
Someone out there was rich.
When Shorty had said a letter, he was right...Risius had expected a message inside a chip or something, not actual paper.
His gaze went back to Shorty, “What?! Actual paper? Why did you try mugging me instead of just selling the letter?”
But Shorty didn’t answer.
Risius stepped closer to him. The man’s eyes had gone wide, and white froth was dripping from his mouth.
“Ashes and flowers...how…” Risius’s mouth was open in horror as Shorty gave one, final convulsion and the light faded from his eyes.
“Who…”
His fingers found the paper letter in his pocket. Risius gingerly slid it out of his pocket and flipped it to the other side. A wax seal.
Somebody felt rather aristocratic today.
Risius grabbed one of the shanks the thugs had been using, which had fallen to the ground. He carefully cut open the letter, not wanting to damage the paper.
Risius didn’t have much paper. His newspaper was the largest he had. That and a book.
Within the envelope, a white piece of paper fit snugly. Risius could tell there was writing on it, but he wasn’t sure if he wanted to read it.
The writer had just killed the messenger.
But Risius loved mysteries.
The letter began:

Dear Risius,

You are accepted. Please come to this address two days from receiving this letter. If you come earlier, you will be rejected. If you arrive late, you will be rejected.

333 Scopular Drive
Azeria City, Vitreus Sector
Knock On The Door at 12:35 p.m. - Use the phrase "I'm here about the apartment listing."


No questions.
You can accept, and learn the truth, or deny and forever wonder.

The choice is yours.

Signed, Harpocrates.

P.S - I am apologetic for any trouble my...associates gave you.


Reading it over a few more times, Risius drew a sharp breath. Somebody wanted him for a job or something.
He should have known it would only be a matter of time before someone higher up heard of his ‘abilities’.
Well, Risius couldn’t ignore a letter from “Harpocrates”, the Greek god of secrets, could he. A very good alias. Almost as good as Risius’s own pseudonym.
Sometimes he couldn’t even remember his real name. It just wasn’t used. Ris slipped the letter into the envelope and put it into his pocket, and prepared to head home. He had two days to wait, and if there was one thing Risius hated doing...it was waiting.
Before he left, he set up a discovery of the thugs so they could receive a proper burial. Or maybe just one thug. Ris wasn’t sure if the tall one would die, but he certainly wasn’t waking up, and Risius couldn’t stay.

As the demon sauntered down the street, snacking on another donut, he fingered the letter in his pocket one more time.
“Who are you, and why me?” he said, under his breath.

“Who are you.”
Zacharias Drake
  





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Thu Apr 15, 2021 9:41 pm
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winterwolf0100 says...



Xozinath Tidrogg


When I got the letter, I was wearing a light grey button-up and a black cloak, carefully stitched slits of openings for my wings in each of the garments so I could pop them out at will. My shoes weren't the nicest pair I owned, but they were presentable at least, a simple pair of tennis shoes. And who was I trying to impress? The human souls I was giving a tour of Hell to? Don't be ridiculous. They couldn't care less about my shoes, or the pair of grey baggy pants only a few shades darker than my shirt. They were the type that cinches right at the ankle, so they were baggy but fashionable at the same time. Honestly, it was a masterful outfit on my part, especially since I wasn't hoping to impress anyone with it. At least, not anyone worthwhile. So maybe I enjoyed the turning heads of a few of the souls— but it wasn't like it was going to lead anywhere. They were humans, and even if they weren't dead, they'd still never have had a shot with me. I may be a Ruby demon, but I would've never been caught dead with a human. Especially not if the human was already... well, dead.

So... now that you've got that all in your mind, that's what I was wearing when I got the letter. The outfit wasn't actually an important detail or at all related to the letter, but I'm proud of it so it doesn't really matter if it's relevant in the grand scheme of things. Besides, I'm the writer and you're the reader, so really, you're just gonna have to suffer through whatever I write in hopes of reaching the worthwhile information you're here for. You are here for information, right? Not here to hear me blab about my outfit? Personally, I'd think it would be much more worthwhile for you to hear a few of my fashion tips than attempt to get any sort of interesting facts out of me. But to each their own. It's not like I can stop you from reading. Actually... for that matter, if I really wanted you to stop reading, I suppose I could just... stop writing. But now I'm having too much fun with this. It's nice keeping someone else on the edge of their seat for once. Besides, they're expecting me to write a full report of all the events that happened. I'm sure they're doing the same thing with everyone else too, just to make sure our stories line up I guess.

Alright, alright, I'll get back to the story.

So I got a letter. I know you're probably thinking: Xozinath, you already said that. And yes, yes I did. But I'm repeating it in case there are any humans out there who are a bit slower than the average demon reader. (Okay, I'm looking back and editing this, and realizing that may not have been the nicest thing to say. I've been told by some people I've grown close to lately that I'm "prejudiced" and "unnecessarily rude" towards humans. What do they expect? I'm a Ruby demon! We don't exactly grow up hearing shining reviews of humans. Most of the interaction we have with them is the damned souls who did something horrible enough that they're in our division. But they won't let up about this line if I don't take it out, so for the sake of the over-dramatic, let me try this again. You'll probably see other lines that I've crossed out as well along the way, so just ignore them. Again, my friends are overzealous about these types of things.)

So I got a letter. I know you're probably thinking: Xozinath, you already said that. And yes, yes I did. But I'm repeating it in case there are any humans out there who are a bit slower than the average demon reader. But I'm repeating it because "everyone" can have some memory issues, and "all my readers, no matter their species" might've forgotten I got a letter. So, the letter.

I was at work when it happened. In the outfit I already described. I suppose I have to describe myself for you to get the full picture though, don't I?

As I already stated, I'm a demon. A Ruby class one, to be more specific. That means long, slightly curled horns, crimson-colored skin, wings... yeah. You get the picture. I've got black, curly hair that falls just above my ears, and it's ridiculously thick. My eyes are a light grey, I'm around 5'10", I've got sharp cheekbones and a sharp jawline, and I've been told (many, many times) that I'm veryattractive mostly by myself, to the mirror. My wings are a bit smaller than most other Ruby demons (only about four feet long on either side), and my horns are black with notches. I suppose they kind of look like tiers now that I think about it; like each floor of a building was stacked on top of each other, each one slightly smaller than the last. I've got five 'floors' for each of my horns, making them a possible extra foot or so of height. Don't be fooled though. I know some of you (humans, yes, I'm looking at you) have certain... misconceptions regarding a demon's horns. So let me dispel a few of the rumors:

  • Yes, they are sharp. Yes, they would cut your weak skin. I don't suggest you try it.
  • No, I do not use them as weapons. Seriously? And you wonder why I think you're practically animals uncivilized! What do you think I'd do— charge at someone like a bull? Don't be ridiculous. Everything in Hell is red. If I charged at it all the time, I'd never get anything done. Besides, horns are extremely sensitive, and they don't exactly grow back. If you break one, you're just down a horn, and good luck trying to find someone who'll give you a prosthetic for that. (Besides, demons look down on prosthetics. We unlike humans are actually confident in our bodies).
  • Horns are sensitive. I said this in the last one, but I feel the need to point it out again, because it's true, and you can't go around just hitting people's horns. It's one of the most sensitive parts on a demon's body along with wings (if they have them), and breaking one is like being stabbed and breaking a bone at the same time— white-hot pain, then dulled pain, sometimes for years after the incident. I've never experienced it, but that's how it's been described to me, and I am not anxious to test it. They're very difficult to break, much harder to break than a bone, which I suppose is a point for us, but still... we avoid any type of painful horn contact if we can.
  • Horns— they are sensitive. Yes, there is already another point for this. But I'm reiterating it again because I know this is going to go over the heads of some stupid humans. Think of it like this: if I walk into a door and hit my horns on the door-frame accidentally, I might pass out depending on how hard I hit it. So yeah— horn touching and hitting is a definite no if you want to keep your limbs attached to your body. (I strongly suggest you do unless you're planning on getting a prosthetic.)
  • Now, this is the most interesting one. Apparently, humans don't realize horns need... maintenance? Really? How could you not realize that? They're horns. You think they just stay polished and finished on their own? No, it takes seriously long appointments to polish and take care of your horns, and even then, pretty much every demon has some sort of night and morning routine for taking care of them. If you're signing up for a professional horn polishing and touching up, you better go to a certified and well-known place (for the love of hell, not a place run by humans) and you might as well take the day off from work. Horns will be— you guessed it— pretty sensitive after any work like buffing is done to them, and they always recommend you rest afterward.

And while I'm dispelling rumors, I suppose I should just cover the basics on most Ruby demon wings (because why the hell not):

  • Feathers: just no. Come on, we're not descended from the dinosaurs, you idiotic uninformed apes "generic audience that could be any species". And we're not cheesy angel depictions in bad romance novels. We're demons. Our wings aren't going to be "aesthetically pleasing" to everyone because they were created by evolution and not some thirsty teen writing fanfiction.
  • So if they're not feathers— what are they? Short answer? Skin. Long answer, basically skin but with some bones in there somewhere. I don't know how to explain it. The closest comparison would be bat wings— it's like we used to have an extra set of hands that developed into wings we can fly with. Except we didn't. So don't start thinking we did.
  • Where do they go when they're not out? Well, this is a bit... difficult to understand. Humans want everything to fit completely with science, but the thing is, it doesn't. We can keep them folded up and out in the open, but we can also fold them up and basically make them disappear. The spots they come out of have two long, thick scars down my back for me, and I'm pretty certain it's that way for every demon with wings.
  • "Wings are easy to learn how to use". Okay, I really don't know where you puny people got that from, because... no. They're limbs, like an extra set of arms but not. It takes babies and toddlers years to learn how to properly walk, so don't expect to learn to fly in the span of a day. It comes with practice, precision, and patience. It's definitely not like learning to ride a bike. If you don't use them for a while, you're going to be rusty, and it's going to take some time to build up the muscles again. You can't go for months without walking and expect to still be able to run a marathon; the same goes for flying.

  • So endurance. That comes pretty naturally, right? And all demons can fly the same length of time? Again, no. We're not robots being churned out of a factory. In fact, you're closer to robots than we are with your add-on limbs and metal prosthetics. Like I already said, they're like legs. Some people can run for longer distances than others, and you have to build muscle up to be able to go really long distances. Most Ruby demons use their wings daily and most of the day, but for people like me, stuck in an office half the time and walking around more than I fly, it's not as easy going longer distances. Like the usual muscles, they can strain or get injuries, and they'll start to burn if you're going too far. Eventually, they'll just give out, so make sure you land before they do.
  • Are they sensitive? Duh. They're a part of a body. They're not indestructible. Now, if you're wondering if they're as sensitive as horns, then the answer is no. They're more like arms— it'll hurt if you run into something, sure, but it'll take pressure to actually break something in them. They have bones, remember? But yes, they are sensitive. You can't get something heavy dropped on your wing and walk away like it was nothing just because you've got a lot of muscles in there— it'll still hurt like hell, and you'll definitely have something broken.

Alright, I got off track again, but it kind of takes some background knowledge to even understand what it's like to be a demon. And before you start, yes. I know some of the readers of this likely are demons. But I'm trying to dumb down adapt my writing to fit with all types of readers, even humans.

So— now you know what I look like. Charming, demonic, genderfluid Xozinath. Wait, did I mention I'm genderfluid? (Upon review, I realize I did not mention that I am genderfluid... but at this point, I don't have the energy to try to insert it somewhere, so you'll just have to learn about that as this goes along. I've waited long enough to actually start the story. I'm not going to write a five-page paper on my gender now.) I use pretty much all pronouns; I don't usually correct people unless I'm feeling really strongly one way or another because it's fun to watch the straight people panic when they realize they can't tell if they're turning gay by being attracted to me. Where was I going with this? Oh right, the letter.

I was at work when I received the letter— sitting at the front desk, filing boring entrance work from a few new souls who had come in that morning. The waiting room was completely jam-packed with souls waiting to get in, but I didn't have the effort to let any more in right then and lead them to open rooms to fill out their personal paper, so for the last 30 minutes, I'd been taking what I call some "me" time. I locked the front doors and told them all the rooms were filled until I finished the filing I was doing. Really, it wasn't my fault; they usually had at least five people on front desk duty, and I wasn't even supposed to be one of them. Somehow, all five of the demons that usually worked here managed to get sick at the same time, and I'd been called in last minute to stop my job of transporting and leading souls to where they needed to be in order to cover the desk.

Then, I heard a knock on one of the doors from the waiting room. That wasn't what caught me off guard— it was the fact that it was a bullet-proof glass door, and the guy knocking on it cracked it without trying. I could tell right away that he was a Topaz demon of course; the curly ram horns were a dead giveaway. That, and the fact that he had the power to crack a bullet-proof sheet of glass on accident. That tended to hint at supernatural strength.

I shot to my feet at the noise, then blinked a few times before I realized what was happening. The noise from the waiting room was loud, but I could just make out the demon's muffled, "I've got a letter!" through the glass. With a sigh, I walked to the door, unlocking it and ushering him quickly inside before shutting the door again and locking it— just in case any souls got any ideas.

"Yes?" I said, irritation seeping into my voice.

The demon looked at me for a few seconds, then said, "I have a letter for a Miss..." he trailed off, then added hesitantly, "ter? For a Mister Tidrogg?"

There are several things going on here that I feel the need to stop the narrative for:

Number one: this demon's voice was not at all the deep, baritone voice you would expect from someone who could, I don't know... crack bullet-proof glass by knocking on it. The demon had a light voice, and it cracked as he debated between 'miss' and 'mister'. He looked like an adolescent, so I guessed he must be doing the mail job as a side gig.

Number two: The 'miss' and 'mister.' I have no words to describe the exhilarating thrill that rushed through my body when I watched that puberty-ridden boy try to decide if the person in front of him was a male or a female, so I'll leave it at this: it was a beautiful moment.

"That's me," I replied, looking up his short, buff figure. He had a horn piercing in his left horn— who let their kid get a horn piercing? It looked amazing of course, but still... interesting move.

"Uh, alright then," he said, fumbling around with the bag slung across his shoulder. He opened it and pulled out several envelopes, before shuffling through them and replacing all except one. "This is for you then."

I took it, turning it over to see who it was from, but all that's written in place of a return address is "TERMINUS."

"What the hell?" I wonder aloud, then glance up and realize the boy is still in front of me. "Is that all?"

He swallows and nods, glancing up at my face questioningly before looking away again. "That's all. I'll be on my way. More deliveries to make. Oh, and uh, sorry about the door." He looked chagrined as he said it, before his face brightened and he said, "you know, your building really should consider investing in Topaz-proof glass! Much harder to break than bullet-proof."

I nodded absent-mindedly, not really paying attention to him anymore. I flipped the envelope over and pushed one of my fingers under the flap, pulling upwards until it opened with a tear.

"I guess I'll be going then," the boy chuckled nervously, before moving back to the door and unlocking it. I heard him close it on his way out, and walked back over to lock it before sitting back down at the desk. I pulled out the single piece of paper inside to read:

Dear Xozinath Tidrogg,

You are accepted. Please come to this address two days from receiving this letter. If you come earlier, you will be rejected. If you arrive late, you will be rejected.

333 Scopular Drive
Azeria City, Vitreus Sector
Knock On The Door at 3 p.m. - Use the phrase "I'm here for a private horn polishing."


No questions.
You can accept, and learn the truth, or deny and forever wonder.

The choice is yours.

Signed, Harpocrates.


I stared at it for a few seconds, then leaned back in my chair— because what the hell was I supposed to do with that? I was "accepted"? For what? The best-dressed award? Well duh, I was the best-dressed. I didn't need this letter to tell me that. (I have been told it is "cocky" and "arrogant" to write that I am the best-dressed apparently. Who knew?)

After a few seconds of thinking, I glanced back upwards at the souls filling the waiting room. They were becoming increasingly agitated, which wouldn't normally be my problem, but since I was on desk duty, it unfortunately was. I set the letter back down on the desk and stood to go start letting people filter into the rooms. I'd go to the weird address in two days during my lunch break, get an extra hour or so off, and then be back in time to close up for the night. This was definitely not how it ended up going down of course. (Apparently, humans consider something like this a "spoiler," so I deleted it because you are weaklings. "eager people who don't want the story spoiled for you.")

I glanced back at the desk one more time, then unlocked the doors and held them open. "Alright people, come on in and make an orderly line at the desk. It's only me on desk duty today and it's going to take a long time to sort through everyone, so be prepared for a wait."

I heard several grumbles and complaints through the crowd as I made my way back to the desk and sat down, absent-mindedly tucking the letter away in my bag.

It stayed there for two days until, after flying to Azeria City, I took it out to look for the exact address. And at 3 pm, I knocked on the door and said I was there for a horn polishing. Was I worried? Maybe a little. Confused about why I was there? Definitely. Wondering why I had been chosen to do whatever it was I was doing? Certainly. But did I ever seriously consider turning back and going back to work? Absolutely not. I was too intrigued to back out by then. I wanted to know why someone had sent me this letter, why it was in this specific building, why it was me. So I followed the directions the letter gave me. And I was there on time— not early, not late. And I said the magic words.

What can I say? I'm a sucker for suspense.
  








But answer me this: how can a story end happily if there is no love?
— Kate DiCamillo, The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane