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Wanderlust



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Fri Aug 11, 2023 7:42 pm
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KocoCoko says...



Terith, a land controlled by the Gods, is entering a new age. Destiny and fate have tied us down for centuries. Now, a sly fox spirit believes it’s time for a change.


Screenshot_20230803_015740_Gallery.jpg


You remember having a strange dream one night. You remember hearing tales from your parents about how fae, nymph and spirits would come to mortal beings in dreams, but those were just fairytales! Well… You used to think that. Then the fox began speaking to you in this soft realm of dreams. He had a mischievous glint in his eyes. "I see a rebel in your soul," the fox spirit said, smirking. "Do you wish to kill the gods? Ah! No need to respond. We both know the answer."


You tried to speak, but found yourself unable to. When you looked at the fox again, he appeared to be a human man in a brown suit. He smirked at you, his canines sharp. “If you’re interested– Ah, who am I kidding, I know you are– meet me in the forest on the border of the Badlands. You have six days.”


You woke up with a start.




Terith is a land ruled by the Gods, and it has been since the beginning of time. In the end, there were twelve Gods who ruled over the human plain. Some were originally human, but now hold domain over an aspect of the human experience, while others have been around since the beginning of time. These Gods keep their hold over humanity by giving each human a soul related to them. Twelve Gods, twelve months.


Everyone is born with a soul, a portion of the Gods. It was a fact of life. Take September, for example.


September was the month of Creation. Those born in that month had the Soul of the Creation, naturally. No matter what, the compel to produce and create for the benefit of all. Some called it the Gods' will, others thought it was simply a magical draw, but it was no coincidence. Some found fulfillment in this by having a family, though many were artists.


The same could be said for May, the month of the Harmonics. Some found music as their way of harmony, others thought that counseling and bringing people together was harmony. Whatever it was, those with the Soul of the Harmonics would make and find harmony.


The Souls of Conquering were strong leaders and always found their way to being some sort of warrior. It was the way the world worked.


Until a fateful day in 1517.

Suddenly, there was one more day every four years.

Suddenly, a new God was born.


There were thousands of superstitions that followed poor Leap Day. Some simply thought no one could be born that day, it was impossible!


Except, that wasn’t the case. The myth goes when the leap year was first put in place, a new God had been born. A God with no home and nowhere to be. A constant state of wandering.


And so, the Souls of the Wandering were born. No place to plant their roots, no place to be. If they stayed in a place too long, they never did. Something always had them moving, changing, seeing new things. Many of them became historians and storytellers, while others struggled to make any sort of keep.


Many were scared to find out a new God could be born so recently. Others rejoiced. There was still a chance for them to ascend! There was a chance that the old Gods, who controlled every bit of their lives, could be challenged!


A certain sly fox agreed with that idea. He’s lived thousands of lives, lived for eight hundred years! Seeing the same destinies repeated over and over was getting quite dull. So, when he found the first Soul of Wandering born in 200 years, he saw an opportunity in them. Of course, he needed more than just one human soul to help him.


That’s where you come in…


---


January

The Soul of Enlightenment.

Those with this soul seek knowledge at all costs. Some things only the Gods should know, but the enlightened souls always push those boundaries to little success.


February

Soul of the Keeper

Those with this soul are known for their photographic and barely loosening memory. Many end up as recordkeepers or librarians of some kind. Sometimes, this flawless memory and retention can lead to madness and agony for the barer. Many find themselves keeping in to try and avoid too many new experiences, and thus memories that would be stored.


March

Soul of the Relentless

Those with this soul are goal-oriented to a deadly degree. They will do anything to get what they want, no matter who must be hurt in their chase. They end up feuding with those of the Determined Soul due to their similarities and difference in methods.


April

Soul of Harmony

Those with this soul are known for becoming musicians and peacemakers. This doesn't mean they are blessed with said skillset, only that they must find/create harmony in their lives.


May

Soul of Chaos

Those with this soul are often troublemakers and rulebreakers. They are truly inconsistent in their kind, but many end up becoming unpredictable outlaws and petty criminals due to their erratic mood and nature. Many hopeful parents actively plan their childbirth around avoiding this month.


June

Soul of the Heartless

Those with this soul tend to be unfeeling and uncaring of themselves and the world around them. It is rare for them to express emotion, but it's not surprising for them to end up feeling it at some point. Many still fear them and consider them highly likely to become criminals. Many hopeful parents actively plan their childbirth trying to avoid this month.


July

Soul of the Jubilant

Those with this soul feel joy and mania more than most will in this life. No matter the situation, these souls always seem to end up happy-go-lucky by the end of it. Often times, their eccentric and constant happiness to drive away others.


August

Soul of the Conquering

Those with this soul are known for being great leaders in whatever they do. Most kings, queens, and emperors are born in this month. They're often seen as forceful, but many listen to them despite this.


September

Soul of Creation

Those with this soul will forever be compelled to create. Whether that be life or art, it is up to the person (most times...) It's not uncommon for some to become unwilling parents or tortured artists over the need for creation this soul brings them.


October

Soul of Isolation

Those with this soul are destined to end up outcasted, homeless, and are often orphaned. Many hopeful parents actively plan their childbirth trying to avoid this month.


November

Soul of the Determined

Those with this soul are almost impossible to persuade off of something they put their mind to. Generally, they're seen as more gentle than those with the Relentless Soul and the two often rival due to their similarities.



December

Soul of the Decrepit

Those with this soul are born with or destined to be stricken with an illness or disability. Many who aren't born with such live a life of paranoia. Many hopeful parents actively plan their childbirth trying to avoid this month.



Leap Day

Soul of Wandering

There are very few with this soul. Those with this soul will forever wander the world, never knowing what the word "home" means. Many do not live long, as this compulsion is latent since birth. Many infants will crawl away from their parents seconds after they learn to, and they usually don't survive long after that.


---


Character Form:

Spoiler! :
Name:
Age:
Gender:
Soul Type/Birthday:
Appearance:
Personality:
History:
Profession and Related Skills:
Strengths:
Weaknesses:
Opinion on the Gods?:
Romance?:
Other:



Reserved Souls


Unnamed Child, Soul of Wandering - @KocoCoko

Soul of Enlightenment - @Omni

KSoul of the Keeper - @RangerofIthilien

Pratik Chrenko, Soul of the Relentless - @Shady

Siris Lyangi, Soul of Harmony - @Spearmint

Soul of Chaos - @VioletSkies

Zenith Dryden, Soul of the Heartless - @herbalhour

Petr Bain, Soul of the Jubilant - @Ari11

Sieglinde Engel, Soul of Conquering - @KateHardy

Belladonna Verdorbene, Soul of Creation - @WeepingWisteria

Mercury, Soul of Isolation - @JazzElectrobass

Nahja Yarrow, Soul of the Determined - @AmayaStatham

Soul of the Decrepit - @winterwolf0100


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Last edited by KocoCoko on Sun Mar 10, 2024 10:25 pm, edited 16 times in total.
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KocoCoko says...



The Child and Jonah

The Badlands


For a place so omniously named, it was beautiful. Golden sunlight rained from the treetops and morning dew glistened on each flower and blade of grass. Nature flourished in a place untouched by mankind. The trees grew thousands of feet high and the leaves seemed so much bigger than anywhere the child had seen before. The only reason it was called the Badlands was because of how viciously the nymphs and spirits fought for this specific forest and refused colonization. The small camp Jonah and the child pitched was almost attacked the night before, if not for Jonah's own spirithood.


The Badlands was a retreat for any soulless being to escape the toilings and messes that humanity made. It thrived from the sheer amount of energy and magic that floated through the air.


The child was enthralled by the plump grass, running rivers, and trees to climb. Jonah found it absolutely boring. He loved humanity exactly for the reasons other spirits hated. They were messy, they were hypocrites, and they were so diverse! They always fought about something and it was always entertaining to watch them act as if they were important. They were simply another creature of Terith, yet they were filled with so much pride. It was remarkably fascinating. 


Jonah curled up on a log next to the fire pit, resting his head on his paws. "Child," he sighed, squinting his thin eyes at them, "Do you really want to be like a sopping wet cat when our guests arrive?"


His words fell on deaf ears. The child screeched as they kicked off their shoes and ran off the small incline, tucking themself in just in time for the splash. The fox rolled his eyes.


The child's head shot up from the water soon after, a wide smile on their face as they giggled. They swam back to the bank, crawling onto the sand with their wet sweater sticking to their chest. They laid on the grassy sand, grinning. 


The fox soon swung himself off the log, his legs turning human in an instant. Just like that, he became a human man with starkly orange hair and piercing yellow eyes. He always chose to wear a brown suit and glasses in this form. He liked being a tall human, too, so tall that he loomed over most others. Foxes weren't known for their height, after all.


"Do you know how long that'll take to dry? What if you had been swept by the river? Now there's sand on you, too!" he said, staring down at the child. He knelt down by the firepit and, now with human hands, began to spark another. "What is it with human children and testing their elder's patience?" he mused to himself.


The child stayed still in the sand, staring up at the treetops as golden sunlight hit their face. The child playfully waved their arms and fingers around. I don't care, the child signed.


"Obviously," the fox grumbled, though he smirked to himself once the fire had started. He set down the rocks beside him and extended his hand, beckoning the child over. "Now let me dry you. I've known humans far longer than you ever will, and I know they'll want you to appear somewhat presentable."


The child rolled onto their stomach, pouting. But I want to swim more!, they signed. 


The fox simply crossed his legs and waited for the child to approach. With no attention being given to them, the child relented their puffed up cheeks and sulked their way to the spirit. They dropped next to the fox's feet, crossing their arms and legs. You're no fun, the child signed.


"I know, I know," Jonah chuckled. Jonah swiped the sweater off the child and took their hair into his hands, ruffling the scalp before he put their head near the fire, waiting for it to warm. "I pity humans," he whispered to himself.


The child overheard easily. I know, they signed, I can tell.


"How awful must it be to not have the ability to simply shake the water off? Instead, it sets into your skin and silly need for clothes… Ah, I'll never understand what Vita-Anima was thinking when she made you." 


What was she thinking when she made you?, the child signed, their hands shaking nervously from being put so close to the flames.


"She didn't make me, but I feel no need to give you another history lesson," he said, his smirk unmoving. "Now, let's hope these guests hurry up. I'm so tired of waiting. Humans die so quickly," he said to himself, "You'd think they'd pick up the pace a bit! But no, they meander through their tiny little lives…"


The child ignored Jonah from then on. The child had suffered through many, many of his tangents on the hypocrisy of human life, they didn't have the will to hear another. Sometimes, all they could wonder is if they were included in his speeches.


I want to stay here, the child signed slowly. The habit of 'talking' to themself had been developed from listening to Jonah for hours. 


Jonah looked down at the child, the sly look on their face vanishing. Slowly, Jonah dressed the child once more. The fire and sun combined has dried the child just enough, though the sandy hair on their head still dripped occasionally, sending shivers down their neck. "Well," he started, patting the child's back, "We know that's not possible as of now."


The child nodded, sadly. 


"But soon it will be," he said. The child stared at Jonah with an eyebrow raised. Encouraging words from him only happened once in a full moon. "Soon, you'll be able to go wherever you wish, and even I won't be here to tell you to get out of the river."


The child's green eyes sparkled at the thought of being free from the soul tied to them.


"Now," Jonah said, his eyes thinning once more. He reached into the child's bag, handing them a stale piece of toast and a few berries. "Eat. Our friends should be here shortly."
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AlienPoetry says...



Petr rubbed his hands together in agitation. There were red marks in his skin, shaped like the chain he'd taken the last week to craft so lovingly. It had been his most beautiful creation yet; bloodred rubies circled with gold and set in silver so shiny he could see his face reflected in it. Until Megan so rudely yanked it away from him, that is.

He liked to think he put up a good fight, but in reality his manager was much bigger and stronger than him, snatching the chain away with ease. Now all he had was those red marks to remember it by.

Petr tapped the coin pouch around his neck, heavy with slivers of silver and gold. Megan had compensated greatly for his work, but he couldn't wear money. Sure, he could buy stuff to wear with it, but what was the fun in that? All the other jewelry he could purchase was cheap and dull in comparison to his works!

What a waste, what a waste, he thought to himself, swinging his apartment door open. He lived in a small room behind the shop where he could easily go back and forth from his bed to his tools. Petr tended to sleep in short two-hour intervals, getting just enough rest before springing back up to work on a new piece. He didn't dream very often because of this, which made the vision he'd had a few hours ago all the more peculiar.

He'd been sitting in a field somewhere near a river, lying in the grass and listening to the burbling of the stream when a fox appeared in front of him. It was a very cute fox, and being in the dreamy state that he was Petr immediately tried to pet it. The fox jumped away from his hand, giving him an indignant glare before opening its mouth and asking him a rather odd question:

Do you want to kill the gods?

Petr had to stop and think about that for a second. The fox said it with such serious conviction that he couldn't help but consider his answer.

Maybe? he answered after a pause. I mean, the gods aren't particularly helpful, are they? Perhaps the world would be better off without them.

The fox nodded in response, an approving sort of look on its face. Then it disappeared and Petr rose out of his dream with a sudden feeling of restlessness. It seemed he had just agreed to something, though he wasn't sure what. The fox had made a deal with him that he was now obliged to follow through with.

That was what he thought until common sense kicked in, at least.

It was just a dream, he told himself, shifting his necklaces around nervously. Just a weird, oddly specific dream...

But he couldn't help thinking that maybe there was something off about this particular vision. The fox seemed awfully real, and it wasn't completely unheard of for spirits to give messages to humans through dreams. Maybe the fox was a spirit? It wasn't completely out of the question.

He wants me to meet him at that place, Petr thought, closing the apartment door behind him. He could hear Megan in the distance, haggling with some customers over the price of his beautiful chain. The field, with the river. It's not far from here...

He wasn't sure how he knew that, but now he was certain. Grabbing a bag from the closet he scooped his most valuable possessions into it; several sets of cobalt robes, many pieces of jewelry, a canteen that he could fill at the river, and some soap(just in case). He also snatched some grilled pork that he'd been saving for lunch, wrapping it carefully in a cheesecloth before setting it in a separate pocket in his bag. Something told him he'd get hungry on the journey there.

This job isn't very rewarding, anyway, he reasoned as he packed his things. Megan was going to be mad, so so mad, but she couldn't yell at him if he just disappeared, right? It would be fine. This was all gonna be just fine. Don't think about what you're doing! Just follow the fox spirit, yup, follow him to the river...this isn't crazy at all, no sir, I am completely sane right now. Totally, completely sane.




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Spearmint says...



Siris Lyangi wanted to sing. For context, she sang like a cat yowling mixed with a wine glass shattering. But right now, that was perfect: it would certainly get rid of the frustrating customers crowding the Eureka Bakery.

Despite having a Soul of Harmony, Siris was bereft of musical talent, and she sounded like a Soul of the Decrepit imitating a Soul of Chaos whenever she attempted to carry a tune. She found harmony in baking perfectly symmetrical confections instead. Right now, she was quite tempted to shove one such confection in the face of the gentleman insisting that he'd found flies in the pie he'd bought last week.

"I assure you, sir, I personally check each baked good. And there are never--I repeat, never--any ingredients other than the high-quality ones we always use." Siris gritted her teeth and clenched her fists next to her apron, below the level of the counter.

"You call your ingredients high-quality?" The man spluttered. "Why, I could taste the commonness in that pie! I demand my money back." He seemed like an aristocrat, with his fine clothing and slight paunch. Soul of the Conquering, maybe. Figured.

Siris suppressed a sigh. "Sorry, sir, but I'll have to ask you to leave now. Next customer, please."

The people behind the man jostled him impatiently, some of them already beginning to point at the baked goods they were requesting. The gentleman stumbled a step, then righted himself and clutched the counter, his face contorted in a sneer. "You think you have any power in this city, baker?" He spat the word like it was an insult. "I won't be returning here, and if these people know what's good for them, they won't either." He cut a glare across the room with icy blue eyes, but was flatly ignored by the chattering crowd. The man huffed and stomped his way out of the doors.

Siris relaxed imperceptibly. She nodded at the next customer, a woman wearing a faded frock and carrying a beat-up woven basket.

"Yes, excuse me, could I trouble you to offer me a discount on this loaf of bread? You see, two of my children are sick and the others..." Siris's eyes started to glaze over.

"No discounts," she said firmly.

The woman pleaded with her for another minute, then shot her a dirty look and shoved some bread into her basket. She plunked a few coins on the counter then left in a huff.

"You won't have many customers left if you don't learn better sales techniques," a fox said in amusement.

Siris blinked. When had she gotten here? She whipped her head around. Grass waving slightly in the breeze. Trees with leafy limbs reaching down towards a clear river. This was decidedly not the Eureka Bakery.

"Who are you?" Siris said suspiciously. She scrutinized the russet fur of the fox and the mischievous glint in his eyes. Was this some kind of hallucination? She had no time for this; she had to get back to work.

The fox only smiled and showed sharp canines. "Do you wish to kill the gods?"

Siris paused. But before she could respond, the fox continued, "Ah! No need to respond. We both know the answer."

In the space of a moment, the fox had transformed into a tall human in a brown suit. "Meet me in the forest on the border of the Badlands. You have six days." He flashed another unsettling smile, then faded out, leaving Siris surrounded by clamoring customers once again.

Siris stayed frozen for a moment. What had just happened? She mindlessly handed out baked goods and collected payment as she analyzed what killing the gods would even mean. No more gods interfering in mortals' lives? No more Souls? A memory buzzed to the front of her brain, as incessant as a fly. Yarras. Her best friend. They'd left Siris eight years ago, and Siris had blamed it on their Soul of Isolation.

Like sugar cooling, Siris's resolve hardened. She'd leave for the forest at dawn tomorrow.
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.--. / ... ...- -.-. .-.. / - .--. ..- .- / .--- --- ...- .--- / .--- --- .--. .-- / .--. .--- .-.. / .--- -.-- .-.. .... -
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chrysanthemumcentury says...



Today was a normal day for Zenith. Although, most days were normal. Wake up, eat, go to work, go home, eat, sleep, repeat. Yes, his soul made it so he really couldn't feel anything, but he'd gotten pretty good at mimicking. He knew to smile when people smile at him, be sad when someone's crying, apologize when you're being yelled at.

Sure, he didn't really feel these at all, but it's what he was dealt. He wiped off the sweat on his forehead with the rag on his shoulder. The hammer he was making was forming quite nicely, the corners rounded to an extent, the handle next to it, ready to be placed inside.

Then the bell rang. He stood up, looking at the door. Nobody. The wind must have blown it open again. He sat back down, and continued molding his hammer.

A voice rang out behind him. "Do you want to kill the gods?"

He looked behind him. A tall, lanky man was there. "You aren't dressed appropriately for the forge. And I do not care if the gods are to live or die." Zenith picked up the bucket of water on the ground and extunguished the fire.

"Oh? Surely, you must have an opinion." The man looked fox-like. Zenith was about to speak again before he was interrupted again by the man. "Meet me in the forest on the border of the Badlands in six days."

Zenith then woke up. He thought about that... vivid series of thoughts. A dream, some people called it. He had never expirienced one of those before.

For once in his life, he felt inclined to do something that he chose. Of course, that choice was to mimic what a "nornal" person would do. He packed a large bag and his forging tools, and set off for the forest.
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JazzElectrobass says...



Mercury


Mercury dreamed of a fox, although he can't tell what his surroundings are. Everything is a blur of green, brown, and blue except for the fox. It had very nice looking fur, and it brought back depressing memories of sitting outside someone's home as they told their kids stories of spirits, nymphs, and gods. He wanted to shrink away from the fox, who was steadily staring at him with a mischievous glint. It was even worse that this fox looked unnaturally intelligent. Mercury tried to back up, but he couldn't move, and he didn't dare try to speak.

It would be easier to hide things in your jacket rather than your pant pockets. Tell me young one, do you wish to kill the gods? Mercury once more attempted to try to move, and his results were unsuccessful. The fox then shifted into a man in a brown suit, with a black tie, white collared shirt, and dress shoes. All of this was clothing Mercury could never dream of buying himself. He wouldn't wear something like that anyways. It reflected the fox's fox form well, but Mercury saw it as something very distinctive, something very conspicuous. He also loomed over Mercury, which was something that intimidated him. Pretty much everyone was taller than him, but this was more than normal. He gave a bone-chilling smile with those canine teeth. Not very talkative are you? Well no need to answer, we both know what it is. Meet me in the forest at the border of the Badlands. You have six days, tick tock.

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

Mercury woke up curled up in the middle of an alley. Everything hurt. The most noticeable were his fractured ribs which throbbed with pain that flared with every heartbeat. Everything else was manageable. The other hits, the hunger, nothing else bothered him. He did his best to get up, and start moving. This had started to happen recently, as others tried to occupy his space. Those guys were probably one of the ones that would do anything to get what they wanted.

He pondered upon the words of the fox spirit. It was right. He did want to kill the gods, but how does one kill a god? Aren't they suppose to be immortal? But if there was a way, it would in a way be like revenge. Being condemned to October was horrible. To make it worse, no one would even offer to help you. He despises his own kind. They rob, they steal, and they don't have an ounce of selflessness. A fox spirit, well it wasn't human. It would be fine, as long as he didn't have to interact with other people. So yes, of course he'd take up the offer.

He found one of his caches, and grabbed his meager amount of stashed food. He didn't know how this was going to go, but it would be nice to have some food with him just in case. If needed he could probably use it as an offering as well.

Why isn't he considering this even at the slightest bit? This was a fox spirit, and they are well known for their craftiness. Well, the fox made sense. It wasn't like there was anything better to do in his life anyways. He would probably just go there now, and then explore the forest. After all at this point he knew the entire city so well you could blindfold him and put him anywhere and he'd still be able to find his way back to a certain place.

The forest though, he never really headed there. It was easier to just steal from a local baker than try to tell the difference between two berries that look the same or hunt for small critters for lunch. Of course he could do it, but only when necessary. He wouldn't worry about that for now. For now, he headed for the forest.
Last edited by JazzElectrobass on Fri Mar 01, 2024 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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WeepingWisteria says...



Belladonna
Moboz


Strokes. Thousands of tiny strokes. Color bleeding into canvas, spreading into something familiar. It was a dance Belladonna knew well. Paint on pallet. Brush in paint. Paint on canvas. Breaking it down to its fundamentals made it sound simple but more complex than she could ever describe. Like water pushing aside dirt to create a stream.

She didn't know how long she sat there, painting what looked like thousands of fine hair strands. She didn't even remember what she was painting.

Wait.

Why didn't she know why she was painting?

Belladonna put her paintbrush down, blinking at the canvas. How long had she been painting for? She looked down at her hands, only to find them perfectly clean. She looked around. There was not a soul in sight, which was expected, but there was also no life. No paint splatters on the floor or art on the walls. No waiting canvases still wrapped in paper. This wasn't her home. This was a dream.

Belladonna didn't dream.

"Hello?" She walked away from her canvas, frowning slightly.

There was a dry chuckle. "Do you always call out for someone in your dreams?"

Belladonna turned, looking at her dream painting for the first time.

It was a simple painting of a fox, almost something out of a folktale. Belladonna didn't paint foxes. The painting chuckled. "There we go. Now we can talk properly."

Belladonna wrung her hands. "Who are you?"

"Well, that doesn't matter now. You'll find out if you're the right person." The painting of the fox moved into a sitting position, ears alert and eyes at attention. "I sense a deep bitterness in your soul."

She swallowed. "I suppose."

"Do you want to kill the gods?"

Belladonna startled. How could someone ask a question like that as casually as one asked for the time? But, surprise aside, it was a question she didn't have to ponder. Like the fox said, there was a deep bitterness in her soul.

The fox smiled, well, as much as a painting of an animal could smile. "No need to respond. We already know the answer."

Belladonna nodded. "So what do I do?"

The painting shifted to a grinning man in a brown suit and vivid orange hair, clearly drawn with a red underpainting like all of Belladonna's paintings, but it didn't seem to glimmer like it was supposed to. "Meet me in the forest on the border of the Badlands. You have six days."

Belladonna woke up in her bed. She felt strangely well-rested. Using that, she got up and packed a traveling bag. She wouldn't miss this for the world. She only hesitated when she passed the canvases that were already finished, sparkling with cured paint. Hundreds of fans would be disappointed if Belladonna didn't attend the art auction.

She found that she didn't care and kept packing, the bright sunrise filling her home with hope and deep, deep red.
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“the wist i knew would never allow a straight boy in their stories” ~Omni
“Hi Omni can I request wist get the role mom friend :]" ~winter
“ah yes, fear Wist's smile :) <- speaks of layers and layers of secrets” ~mint




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KateHardy says...



Sieglinde Engel


Westlio


Sieglinde sighed with disappointment at the report she was hearing. Another group foolishly refusing to surrender. It was starting to become an increasingly rare occurrence now as the reputation of their army grew, but there was always going to be a few stubborn morons dotted about the place that didn't have any modicum of common sense.

"I'll handle this personally," she said, finally looking up at Raquel.

"Are you sure ma'am? We have it handled. This seems a low level threat at best."

"I'm sure. Its the third one for the month and we need to send a message before this leads to a rebound of more people thinking its okay to be so disrespectful of our Empress."

Raquel nodded. "I hadn't considered but yes that would be a good course of action to take now. It should save us a bit of trouble down the line."

"I certainly hope so. Gather the others will you. I will join them in two minutes."

She nodded and quickly exited the room. Linda quickly gathered herself, checking to make sure that her weapons and armor was in order. She started out the relevant report that she would have to file later today before making a note in her planner about this current mission.

All of that sorted, she quickly marched out.

Her little elite team as she's started to call it, consisting of her two lieutenants and four of her best soldiers all stood at attention, ready to roll. She smiled warmly at them.

"Is everyone ready?" she said scanning the lot of them to be certain that no one was looking unprepared.

"Yes, ma'am," came the expected reply from everyone but Sieglinde paused at Johnathon.

"John?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Is that a slight limp I see."

"He swallowed. Well, my horse got.."

Her stare intensified.

"Yes ma'am. I was thrown of my horse and have a slight bruise in an awkward spot below the knee, but I assure you its hardly affecting my mobility."

Linda marched right up to him.

"John, I can see that you're limping. I have no doubt you'd easily defeat the scoundrels we are on the way to combat, but that is still going to worsen your injury so I'd ask you sit this one out. This is simply a move to intimidate and I'll not have you risk your knee over that."

Johnathon nodded. "Th..thank you. Truth be told. My wife warned me against coming today. I just didn't want to take the day off."

"Well you are now ordered to."

He nodded and walked off.

"Everyone else, let's get going."

Sieglinde took the lead, guiding the procession down the street. As she walked, something caught her eye in an alleyway. An unusually tall man stood there. He looked at her, and she didn't even need to look to know she wasn't standing in that busy street anymore.

"Do you want to kill the gods?"

She settled for the diplomatic option. "Do you?"

The fox chuckled. "I think we both know the true answer."

Linda smiled politely. "That is certainly...your opinion."

If you’re interested– Ah, who am I kidding, I know you are– meet me in the forest on the border of the Badlands. You have six days.

Before Linda could even consider it he was gone and she was back on the busy street. Well that was certainly something to mull over. At the moment however, her team was looking at her with mild concern.

She cleared her throat and resumed walking. It seemed she might have to take a small vacation. Gatlon had been hounding her about taking a rest.
Stay Safe
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NadyaStatham says...



Nahja Yarrow


Daughter of Calia and Hyria



As Nahja carried two buckets of water probably heavier than herself, she walked up to the corn field.

As she almost tripped over her feet, she muttered under her breath, ‘After eleven months of hard work, I’ve learned nothing but that his favourite food is Macaroni.’

She poured the heavy buckets over some of the plants and said, ‘Come on Nahja, you can do better than that.’

Nahja walked back to the well and fastened one of the buckets to the rope and let it down.

‘I just need to find a way for Luis to tell me everything.’ She said to herself as she rested her head on her palm.

’He won’t tell you anything if he doesn’t know who you are.’ A voice said from behind.

Nahja turned around in a flash pulling the scarf around her neck up her face, ‘Who said that?’

The voice laughed in a childish way and disappeared.

‘I’m probably tired and hearing things.’ She thought as she fastened the second bucket to fetch water again.

As she walked back to the field which was about 30 acres, not a small land, she thought about what the voice had said.

‘What if she tells her uncle, Luis, that she’s the daughter of his brother? Maybe then he’ll trust her enough to tell her everything.’

The thought only made her lips curl into a smile. That also meant she didn’t have to work anymore. Great!

She poured the buckets over some plants and placed them next to the shed as she ran inside the house.

‘Luis!’ She shouted, ‘We need to talk.’

A man in his late forties bowed over a miniature electric dam and tried to carefully pour some water over the little dam to check if his plan was going to work.
He wanted to find a quicker, easier and more effective way to water the corn field, and thus he was experimenting on different projects every week to search for the ultimate best one.

But Nahja’s scream startled him and the water unfortunately went on the wires causing the electricity to hit him.

‘My holy cornfield!’ he yelled too as he ran to the sink in the kitchen and pushed his hands into the dirty water. ‘MS. NAHJA YARROW!’

’Whoops,’ The mysterious voice said in Nahja’s ears. ‘You want me to pray for you?

‘I don’t need help from the Gods, I can settle this myself.’ Nahja said back as she stomped towards Luis totally oblivious that she was talking to the mystery person again.

‘You know, I’m searching for a better way to help the both of us! The only thing I ask of you is patience and a little quietness!’ Luis said as he took out his electrified (burnt) hand.

‘Well, I have a good reason for that.’ She said as she placed her hands on her hips. ‘I need to tell you something.’

Luis frowned, ‘I hope it’s worth it because you just made your job ten times harder now.’

Nahja said, ‘Trust me, it’s worth it.’

They went back in the house and sat down at the kitchen table. Nahja had put up some tea to calm Luis down, just in case.

She cleared her throat and began, ‘Remember your brother Gabriel.’

Luis nodded as put a balm on his hand and bandaged it. He listened carefully to Nahja, because he hadn’t heard of his brother in ages. Why would someone suddenly be interested to talk about him, especially his new help, Nahja?

‘Well, I’m his daughter. And he has another older son too, both of us with different wome-’

Luis cutted Nahja off and said, ‘Enough! I don’t want to hear it again, go back to your work.’ He slammed on the table causing the tea cup to fall along with all the tea in it.

‘But, I mean it. I have a pict-’ Nahja said as she reached in her pocket.

‘You can’t be his daughter, you hear me! Gabriel was sterile.’ Luis said, angry.

‘You don’t understand, you have to help me find him. The entire reason I came to work here is because of him.’ Nahja pleaded.

Luis growled now, ‘He wasn’t my real brother, okay?’

This made Nahja shut up.

‘I got taken in for seven months because I needed to learn farming from my dad. My dad had paid Gabriel’s dad to teach me that. I was not family, but they always treated me like one of them… Now, that’s it. Back to work, young lady.’

Nahja walked out of the house angrily picking up the metal buckets as she stomped to the well. She placed the buckets next to her on the ground and held the well as she pushed her head in the opening and yelled.

‘WHY!’

The echo came back ten times louder.
‘Stupid Gods, why do you have to make my life so miserable, huh. I mean he’s not his brother, are you kidding me.’ She said as she pulled her head back.

’Do you wish to kill the Gods?’ The voice asked.

‘Well, kill? I’m not sure, but if I think about it-.’ She tried to reply as she looked behind her without her scarf up.

There stood a fox on the ground which turned into a man in a tailored brown suit and interrupted, ‘Well, no need for hesitation. We both know the true answer.’

He smiled lightly and said, ‘Well, meet me in the forest on the border of the Badlands. You have to make it in six days.’

Nahja didn’t even get to ask him a question or process what just happened as he disappeared again.




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RangerofIthilien says...



Anora Stewyrd

Ares


The docks of Ares bustled with their usual busy energy. The wide variety of sights, sounds, and smells was almost overwhelming as ships were being unloaded of exotic spices, colorful cloth, and other products from many different countries and kingdoms as well as loaded with local products which sometimes included animals who had a habit of creating quite the fuss and adding to the ruckus.

All of the energy was far too much for Anora but, much to her dismay, she had a job to finish. One last company she had to get numbers from and then she could go home for the day, sit down with a nice cup of herbal tea, run the numbers, then maybe just maybe take a nap before dinner. Either that or manage to sneak in research on more medical plants. She had just made it past the M section in her book and was hoping to get through N or better yet, O, before tomorrow.

Anora, pencil and notepad in hand, pushed her way through the busy crowds to get to the last ship that was unloading cargo. After being rudely disregarded by a member of the crew, which she presumed the man to be a soul of the heartless, she sought out the ship’s captain or at least first mate to retrieve the list of items to be sold and how much they were worth in total. She approached a tall man with greying hair who she believed to be the captain by the way he was ordering the crew around and made her introduction.

“Hello, I’m here on business of accounting for the city of Ares and request to see a list of items you are planning to sell here and their worth. I’m assuming you can provide that for me?” She asked dully. At this point, since she had said those two sentences so much that day, she was simply reciting them from memory.

The captain looked her over a moment before responding, “yes, I can indeed.” He handed over a list which Anora swiftly took and read over before glancing up again.

“Is that it?”

The captain nodded as a barrel clearly labeled WINE was rolled past.

Anora, seeing the barrel, frowned. “I would have reason to believe that is not correct, as that,” she motioned to the barrel, “is most definitely not on the list.”

The captain’s brow furrowed and there was a slight edge to his voice now. “Odd, it must have been tallied wrong. Let me go talk to my first mate and have it amended.”

Anora nodded, crossing her arms with a heavy sigh. “I’ll wait.” It was quite often something like this happened, making her wonder how much they actually managed to get away with.

And so she did as the captain walked off below decks before returning a few minutes later with an amended list. Anora looked it over again when it was handed to her, hoping everything was truly on there this time although she knew full well it wasn’t. Though, it wasn’t her job to make sure people followed the rules.

She nodded slowly and tucked the list in a pocket of her notebook. “Thank you for your cooperation and assistance. Have a pleasant day.”

The captain simply grunted in response as Anora left the boat and began pushing her way through the busy docks again to make her way back home.


••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••


The old, carved oak door to the study and library, that Anora had essentially claimed as her living space over the years, creaked as she opened it. She enjoyed the comforting atmosphere and the way the books on their shelves seemed to muffle any and all outside noises. It gave her a sense of calm as she sunk into the soft cream floral sofa in front of the fireplace.

Anora was entirely exhausted from the day’s bout of work and so soon found herself, instead of reading, aimlessly gazing into the crackling fire in the fireplace without any good reason. Alike to the fire, her eyelids began flickering open and closed as she started to doze off. But, as sleep slowly took her, something strange occurred…

A fox slowly materialized out of the fire, crackling flames smoothing into well groomed, bright amber-orange fur. It’s twinkling golden eyes with a mischievous glint stared at her from across the room when it spoke.

“I see a rebel in your soul.”

Anora blinked at the fox. Sure, she was different than the rest of her family, but that didn’t classify her as a rebel, did it? She had never actually enacted any plans to change. That is, except studying in secret… maybe she was a bit of a rebel after all.

The fox simply smirked at her. “Do you wish to kill the gods?”

She tried to protest. Killing the gods? Who would be crazy enough to attempt that? Weren’t they immortal? How would one even begin going about how to do that? Much less successfully! Although, it would free her from her curse.

All of this she wanted to express but was cut off as the fox spoke once more as if he had read her mind of her last thought. “Ah! No need to respond. We both know the answer."

Blinking in surprise, she glanced around. The bookshelves around her merged into large trees. The dark wood wrinkling into bark on the trees’ large trunks as the books seemed to mould themselves into bright green leaves and foliage. The sofa she was sitting on was not a sofa anymore but a grassy knoll that she leaned back against in this strange forest. The light from the window had changed as well, shifting in its angle and becoming brighter until it was no longer light coming through a dusty window pane but warm sunlight filtering through the leaves above.

Was she dreaming? Where was she? She knew for a fact that she only ever dreamed about places she had been before and she had certainly never been here.

When she looked for the fox again, Anora was surprised to see a tall man in a brown suit standing in its place. His hair was the same bright amber-orange as the fox’s coat had been and his golden eyes glinted with the same mischief, leading Anora to believe that he and the fox were one in the same.

He smirked once again at her, sharp canines visible. “If you’re interested– Ah, who am I kidding, I know you are– meet me in the forest on the border of the Badlands. You have six days.”

Just after he spoke the last words, Anora woke up with a start. She looked around in confusion, realizing she was back in her study, half sitting-half laying on the sofa. The room was pitch black, the only light coming from the dying embers in the fireplace. For the fire to have died, it had to be early morning.

The most odd part was that she remembered her dream. She never remembered her dreams and if she did, they were the same as a past memory.

This was real.

Springing to her feet at the thought of possible freedom from her curse, she began grabbing everything she would need for the journey: A map, change of clothes, a canteen, journal and plant guide, and maybe a bit of food before shoving it all in a backpack then hurrying out the door. If she was lucky, maybe she could catch a boat headed to the other side of the inland sea before it left port.
”Not all that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost.”

-J.R.R.Tolkien




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KateHardy says...



Sieglinde Engel


in collaboration with @WeepingWisteria


Sieglinde finished her packing with a satisfied smile. She had to travel quite often in her line of work, often to places with little to no facilities while also having to pack quite light and more than once very fast. That made packing something she excelled at and took maybe a little pride in.

She took a glance in the mirror. She'd dressed in a bit of a middle ground when it came to her preferred attire. A simple dress simply was the most comfortable thing for a long journey like this but she'd allowed herself boots, just to make sure she didn't end up getting pricked by absolutely everything out in the wilderness. She was never going to go anything but sleeveless though. It was just too suffocating. She'd opted for no armor upon setting out. She did have to pretend she was going on a full vacation after all but it was there resting at the bottom of her bag. Never being one for makeup, a simple hat completed her look, shading her eyes just enough that tipping it down just slightly would allow her to go unnoticed especially in the lands bordering he kingdom where there was the highest risk of someone recognizing her and trying something funny.

Satisfied with her look, she turned away, picking up her bag and taking stock of the room around her. After a cursory glance to ensure nothing was too terribly out of place, she stepped out. Walking toward the little stable she had out back, she started to prepare her friend for the journey ahead. Alice was obedient as usual looking very happy as she got a little head scratch. Well her full name was Apocalypse, but that was reserved for people she didn't like very much.

Once Alice was ready to go, Sieglinde mounted her and took off. It was slow going at first, having to ride through few fairly busy streets before she approached the outskirts of Westlio and then the outskirts of Gatlon itself. It was a pretty uneventful ride for the most part, her keeping her hat down low for most of it and sticking to the most obscure streets that she knew. And she knew them quite well. Gatlon was her playground and she knew every nook and cranny of it quite well. It was only when she finally crossed into lands that were foreign to her that she started to be just a little bit more vary about her surroundings.

Her first bit of suspicion was a woman walking all alone and on foot none the less in a street that really didn't seem like her kind of area. This was the sort of place Sieglinde walked with one eye on her back, a place with a lawlessness that was a touch famous even for one from an entire different kingdom. Those cute blonde pigtails did not generally fit into an area like this, not without at least a suit of armor or a few more scars than that. Well there was the one odd scar. Although that only made her more suspicious. This was most definitely not a woman to be trifled with. Clearly someone with a set of skills that meant she had no fear walking through an area like this and clearly someone who still managed to look far too innocent. A dangerous combination. Still she could also be someone perhaps in need of a ride to a safer part of town so Sieglinde hailed her, keeping a respectable distance from her.

"Hello there!"

The woman seemed to freeze before turning around slowly. "You speaking to me?"

"That's right!"

She seemed a little hesitant. "Oh. Well, hello."

"Need a ride miss?"

"Oh, I wouldn't want to impose. Besides, who knows if we're going in the same direction?"

"Oh I'd be happy to help. Where are you headed?"

She hummed. "Where are you headed?"

"To the badlands."

This caused the woman to pause again. "The Badlands?"

"That would be correct."

She considered Sieglinde closely. "Hmm. Last I heard, the Badlands had a... high population of foxes. Do you like foxes?"

"Umm. Foxes are...tolerable. Not tasty. A little bit mischievous. I'm neutral on foxes. I suppose they are cute but they annoy one too much to be singularly likeable."

"I see." The woman went quiet.

"What's your opinion on foxes?"

"All I know is that people go to the Badlands to see the foxes. And I'm interested in what the hype is about."

"Understandable."

"Is that why you're going to the Badlands? To see the foxes?"

"I will be seeing a fox."

"A fox? Why a fox?"

"Well to see foxes you must first see a fox."

"True. But I'm mostly interested in seeing if we're going to see the same fox."

"Oh? You're seeing a fox too?"

"I am."

"Well mine was a...dream like one."

"Oh?"

"Yes."

"Hmm. So was mine."

"Perhaps it was the same fox after all."

"Perhaps it was."

"What was its name?"

"It didn't give one."

"Fair enough."

"But it gave me a very important task."

"Oh it did?"

"It did."

"I think it did for me too."

The woman walked towards Siegelinde and her horse, leaning in. "What was it?"

"Hmm? Something about killing dogs."

"A certain breed of dog? That has a reputation for... ruining things?"

"Indeed."

The woman looked a little shocked, before she quickly cleared her throat. "I... wasn't told someone else was given this mission."

"Neither was I."

"I..." She cleared her throat. "I would appreciate the ride."

"And I would be glad to have a companion. One does not simply waltz into the badlands alone if they're wise."

"I suppose I'm not very wise, then." The woman looked around. "I would appreciate a hand up."

"Of course." Sieglinde brought Alice a little closer before offering the woman a hand. She took it and swung herself over.

"My brother owns horses. None as big as this one, though."

"Quite understandable."

The woman folded her hands in her lap.

"I would advise holding on. It can get a bit bumpy."

"Oh, I don't---"

"Do you want to get knocked off this horse?"

The woman flushed and slowly held on to Sieglinde's waist.

"That's better." She patted Alice and the horse started to trot again. "So what do I call you?"

"My name's..." She seemed to hesitate again, looking at the ground. "Belladonna."

"Ohh? The artist?"

The woman, Belladonna, looked at the ground. "I... suppose."

"I've seen you around town before. You're quite popular."

"So I've noticed."

"Your artwork really is quite impressive. I've seen it on occasion. I always was quite impressed."

"It's..." Belladonna seemed to blush. "It's nothing special."

"Oh it is."

"Not really."

"Oh sorry then."

"You don't have to be sorry. That happens to be popular opinion. But... I was born to do it, you know? It's like congratulating someone born into wealth on their riches. They had no say in the matter. Imagine how impressive it would be if... a Soul of Chaos or Decrepit did what I did."

"I see what you mean."

"So sure, the work that I make might look nice, but does it really mean anything? Aren't I just exploiting something that was designed specifically for me to succeed?"

"Well I'd say you still play a part in it. More than you maybe give yourself credit for."

Belladonna gripped her tighter. "Maybe..."

Sieglinde shrugged. "Hey its not my place to tell you what to think. Just a humble observation."

"I know."

"Very well. Have you brought any food or drink with you? You're travelling awfully light."

"Oh, I brought some water. I tend to just... live off the land when I can."

"That's fair. I was just asking if we would have to make a stop along the way."

"I'll be fine. I'd like to make... as few stops as possible."

"Luckily I do pack quite well."

"Glad to hear it."

"Wonderful."

"Off we go then. I assume you were also planning on passing through Schober?"

"Yes."

"Lovely. I just prefer not to show my face in Waylin."

"I understand. They're not too kind to outsiders." She hummed. "What is your name? I don't think I ever asked. You feel..." She gave her another slight squeeze. "Strong."

"I'm Sieglinde. I'm not too weak."

"Sieglinde? Like the general?"

"Depends on which general you are referring to."

"General Sieglinde. As far as I'm aware, there's only one.@

"Of which empire?"

"Gatlon...?"

"That would be me."

"My brother is obsessed with you. I don't follow politics that often, but he's usually writing stacks of fan mail and advertisement."

"Oh. I see. Well I don't blame you staying away from politics. Its often a wise choice."

"And I don't blame you for not answering my brother."

"I must admit I get a fair amount. I try to answer at least once."

"He's trying to get you to supply your army with his weapons."

"Ahhh. That could also explain it. I do recall someone who seemed a little too eager to not be someone hoping to sell to both sides."

"Probably him. He's still going at it."

"Well I'm afraid he's unlikely to be too successful although don't tell him that."

"I understand."

"Thank you."

Belladonna giggled at that. Sieglinde smiled. "I'm amusing am I?"

"You have been thus far. Though, I'm still curious if you're strong."

"Not that strong to be honest."

"Oh." She sounded almost... disappointed.

Sieglinde chuckled. "I've only run through a wall by accident twice."

"Oh. That's..."

"Hmm?"

"Very strong."

Sieglinde bowed her head. "So I've been told."

Belladonna cleared her throat. "It must come in handy."

"It does from time to time."

Belladonna nodded.

"Why do you ask?"

"Oh, my brother just... mentions it a lot."

"I see. That nickname was always a little too famous sometimes."

"I'm quite sorry it made its way into my brother's head."

:Oh its no worry. It has its perks."

"Such as?"

"Well a good reputation has its values."

"Such as...?"

"People not engaging me in needless combat."

"That is useful. Saves your strength for needed combat."

"Yes. And prevents needless bloodshed."

"Yes, that too."

"Yes."

Belladonna nodded. Sieglinde nodded. They fell into a little tentative but oddly comfortable silence after that, riding off towards the rapidly fading sun. It wouldn't be too long now before Sieglinde or rather both of them would have to look towards finding a place to spend the night.
Stay Safe
The Princess of Darkness

Hello! You? Yes you reading this. Have a nice day because you're wonderful and you deserve it!

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WeepingWisteria says...



Belladonna Verdorbene
Collabed with @KateHardy


Sieglinde was an interesting woman. Strong, but almost quiet about it. Her appearance made it pretty obvious, but her demeanor almost seemed to not want to admit to it. It was an interesting sort of contrast, brute strength and gentle touch. The sort of contrast that if it were translated into a painting would be... legendary.

Belladonna's heart seemed to flutter at the idea, but she tried to suppress it. Siegelinde wasn't a new subject. She was an ally. And allies had to be respected. Still, she was starting to get a little dizzy. She hadn't painted this morning and the full vial of red paint in her dress said that she had yet to fill her quota for the day. Hopefully they'd stop soon.

"Siegelinde?"

"Yes?"

"Do you have camping gear?"

"I have packed for that."

"Would you want to stay out here, then? I would like to... avoid towns whenever possible."

"It would be convenient to camp to be honest."

"I agree."

"Then that's what we shall do. Are you geared for a camp as well?"

Belladonna nodded. "I am."

"That suits us perfecty."

"Perfect."

"I suppose we should start looking for an ideal location then."

Belladonna nodded. "Somewhere with lots of cover, preferably some small animals, but not the hunting grounds of big predators."

"Hmm makes sense. And perhaps some water. I'm curious though. Why the small animals? Because its a good indication for water availability?"

"Well, yes. A good indication for a lot of things really. Possible edible forage, easy hunting if you're good at that. It just makes for a more survivable area."

"Smart. You seem quite experienced."

"I've done this a couple of times."

"I see. Well do let me know if you spot something. I'm keeping my eyes peeled as well."

Belladonna nodded. "I shall."

The ride continued on comfortably, even as she was slowly growing dizzier. It was becoming hard to focus on anything, let alone have an opinion.

"How does that look?" Sieglinde called out.

Belladonna just nodded. "Yep! Looks good."

"Wonderful. I'll bring us to a stop then."

"Sounds good."

After a few minutes the horse slowed to a stop. "And here we are."

Belladonna nodded. "Wonderful. Could you... perhaps let me down?"

Sieglinde got off quickly. "Of course."

"Thank you."

"You're most welcome." She offered a hand.

Belladonna took it and slid down. As soon as she was standing, her head swam and she tilted dangerously to the ground.

"Miss? Are you okay?"

Belladonna stumbled back, feeling her feet slip. Her vision ebbed and flowed and her ears roared. "I..." She felt arms wrap around her.

"Miss? Miss?"

Belladonna groaned. "I'm fine. I'm fine."

"Do you need to lay down?"

"No... I..." She shook her head, her vision clearing up to reveal a very concerned Siegelinde. "I need to sit down. And paint."

She looked a little confused but set her down. "If you must."

"Thank you." She shook her head again and found a nice looking spot on a tree root. "My soul... makes me quite sick if I don't paint everyday."

"I can see why that would happen."

"Hmm?"

"I agreed with your explanation?"

"Oh, okay."

"Sorry if I wasn't clear. I'll give you some privacy then. I should set up a little fire and some place to sleep anyway."

"I don't need privacy. But yes, a fire is a good idea."

"Alright. I'll get about making a fire then." She walked off a little into the distance.

Belladonna gave her a small smile as she opened her bad, pulling out a small canvas. It was nothing impressive, even smaller than her usual work was. Hopefully it would be enough to satisfy her soul. She pulled at the ribbon aeound her waist until she was able to pull her paint vial free. It looked dainty: a fully glass jar with an intricate batickesque design. It was full to just below the stopper with an almost glowing red paint.

Sieglinde started to hum to herself as she seemed to be gathering firewood.

Belladonna glanced up at her as she started the underpainting, painting the entire canvas red. Sieglinde was carefully picking up the wood, making a neat little pile in a central location.

Sieglinde was clearly strong, and Belladonna could see her muscles ripple and flex as she carted around the wood. She felt her hands move of their own accord, feebly trying to echo the movement before her. Sieglinde was full of life, spark. Something deep within her that made the canvas feel less like paint and fabric and more like blood and bone. Like it was truly infused with something more than dye, but human essence.

Her soul quivered and stood at rapt attention like a cat in the face of catnip just out of reach. Her soul loved Sieglinde, already considered her the perfect subject.

But Belladonna didn't paint people she knew. She kept work and life very seperate. And maybe she didn't know Sieglinde well, if they were going to be killing gods together she would certainly know her better soon. Best to draw the line now.

She looked down at the canvas. It was a maroon, faceless silhouette. Thick arms. A wide-legged stance. And a still dripping axe held above its head in victory. Or maybe just ceaseless bloodshed. Belladonna shook her head softly. Once she painted the features, she could seperate it from Sieglinde. But this kept the soul happy. For now, at least.

Sieglined finished her neat pile and started trying to light it. It only took her two tries before there was a fire slowly roaring to life. She put a few rocks around it making it into a nice little campfire.

"Looks lovely, Sieglinde."

Sieglinde looked up with a small smile. "Why thank you."

Belladonna smiled and went back to painting. She nodded and started to set up a little camp for herself. She managed to fit a surprising amount into that relatively small bag that she'd been carrying with her.

Belladonna tried to glance up less, turning the painting into a successful hunt. A deer laid dead at the silhoutette's feet. Blood pooled at a gash across its neck. The silhouette has food for the night now. Perhaps even the winter.

After a little while Sieglinde called out. "I'm all set up. Maybe I can set up camp for you too while you finish your painting?"

"Thank you, but you don't have to. I'll be done soon."

"Are you sure? I've got nothing else to do really."

"You could rest."

"Well we're about to do that anyway."

"And you can do it sooner."

"Well we have to dine too. I might as well help make it faster for you."

Belladonna considered her for a moment before sighing. "As you wish. Just don't overexert yourself." She nudges the bag towards her. "There's a palette knife in there. Don't cut yourself."

"I'll be careful." She quickly got to work.

"Thank you."

"You're most welcome."

Belladonna smiled and pulled off the bag that she was wearing across her shoulders. It held all of her travel paints. They looked matte and muddy, nothing like her red. She chose a few colors and started painting the top layer, gently easing in details and shadows and depth. This was her favorite part of painting, watching the flat lines turn into something natural. Watching the person's face emerge like tearing off wrapping paper. She hummed a song under her breath, her eyes never straying from the bristles of her brush.

IN the background Sieglinde's humming returned as she set up camp for Belladonna as well, a sightly different tune from earlier.

Belladonna welcomed the background noise. It was a... welcome contrast for how her life in her studio was. Before long, the painting was done and she set it aside, shaking her head. "I can take over now, if you want."

"Well as it would happen. I am done."

"Oh. I'm sorry."

"Oh please. Nothing to apologize for."

"Well, thank you then. Now you sit down. I'll fetch us a meal."

"Are you sure?"

"I am." Belladonna grabbed her palette knife and sent Sieglinde a small smile. "Anything you would prefer having?"

She shrugs. "Not too particular about it."

"I'll get what I can then."

"Thank you. I'll set up something to cook it in."

"Thank you!"

Belladonna set out into the woods, the sounds of Sieglinde humming about fading into the gentle rustle of trees and distant birdsong. Belladonna rubbed her finger along the flat part of her palette knife. Sure, Sieglinde probably had much better weapons, but Belladonna had done this before and didn't want to learn how to use a new weapon just to hunt dinner.

She was entirely lost in though when a white rabbit hopped up to her and sat at her feet. It looked up to her, nose quivering. Belladonna smiled sadly as she picked up the rabbit. "I'm sorry. But your death won't be in vain."

She plunged the knife into its chest, the rabbit squeaking in surprise and betrayal. Belladonna had to try hard not to cry and such a pitiful noise. But it was dinner. They could eat. She shook her head and walked back to camp, holding her head higher than she would have liked.

"Ooh is see dinner's ready?"

"Well, the ingredients are. Unless you eat raw meat."

"I do not." She gestured to a little pot she'd set up over the fire. "Let's cook."

She nodded. "Should I skin it or do you want to take that?"

"I'll prepare the spices.You can skin it."

Belladonna nodded. "Sure."

She noded and pulled out a small pouch. Belladonna walked away, looking for a suitable place to work. Once she found one, she sat on the ground and began to carefully skin the rabbit. "Thank you for your life. I will use it well. To sustain my body and my soul." She moved carefully, with the sort of ease that came with practice. About fifteen minutes later, she set aside the skin and stood back up, the meat in hand. "Are you ready for the rabbit?"

Seiglinde nodded. "All ready over here."

Belladonna handed over the rabbit. Sieglinde picked it up carefully. She applied a small blend of spices that she'd prepared over it, carefully covering every surface before gently placing it in the pan which was quickly sizzling. The smell of cooking meat quickly filled the air.

Belladonna sat beside her painting, watching her. It took a little while for it to cook, Sieglinde humming once again as she cooked with what hd to be practiced ease.

"You look very... peaceful."

"Oh?"

"My apologies, that was... unprompted."

"Oh its fine. I'm just curious as to what makes you think that."

"The way you move. It's like you just... flow from one place to next. Like a slow stream. And you're usually humming and handling things like they're delicate. Like you're picking flowers."

She smiled softly. "Why thank you. Its what comes naturally when I don't have a myriad problems banging away at my mind begging to be resolved."

"I'm glad you currently don't have a myriad of problems then."

"Thank you."

Belladonna nodded, fidgeting slightly with her apron. Aftera while Sieglinde removed the pot, setting it down near Belladonna.

"Fresh rabbit, get it while its hot."

"Thank you." Belladonna reached in to grab some meat.

"So how was painting?"

"It was fine. Nothing special today."

"Hmm. Do you enjoy it?"

Belladonna hummed. "Do you enjoy breathing?"

"I do actually."

"Well then, I guess there's some aspects of it I like and some aspects I have to do. I've never imagined a life without painting. I've done it so much it's who I am."

"Hmm. It seems you're a little tired of talking about painting. What other things do you get up to?"

Belladonna shrugged. "I visit my family on the weekends. I go to art auctions. Other interests were never... a part of the equation, I suppose."

"I see. Is there anything you do for yourself?"

"I eat. I maintain a comfortable living environment."

"For leisure?" She scooted a little closer.

Belladonna shrugged. "Nothing really."

"Oh. Not to tell you how to live or anything but perhaps you should. Maybe you can find an identity beyond painting."

Belladonna let out a bitter laugh. "Sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, that's what it is."

"Why do you say so?"

"Do you know who my mother is?"

"I'm not that familiar."

"My last name is Verdorbene. Does that ring a bell?"

"A little. Yes."

"Madame Blanche Verdorbene?"

"Oh I'm familiar. Quite the figure."

"That's my mother."

"A little notorious among...law enforcement."

"And a little obsessive over fame wealth."

"Yeah. Let me guess she would never let you stop making and selling paintings."

"Precisely. My sister and I are the only with 'positive press.' And she lives in fear that my sister is going to get too nasty to provide it some day. So she's hoping I'll be the family's saving grace."

"I see."

"My apologies. That's a lot to dump on you."

"Oh no worries. I was the one asking after all."

"Yes, but most don't want an honest answer."

"Well I respect and quite like an honest answer."

"Well, there you go then. Anything else that needs an honest answer?"

"What do you think of this journey we're on?"

"I think it needs to happen. And if we don't succeed, then we must do everything we can to make sure the next people will."

"That's a wise opinion."

"It's the only right opinion."

"Fair enough."

"How do you feel?"

"About?"

"The journey...?"

"Ahh.I'm not entirely sure. Its my little vacation for now. It certainly feels important but I'm taking things one step at a time."

Belladonna shrugged. "I guess some people are more distant from its effects."

"Yeah. I know morally we're setting out to do the right thing but I can't say I've been personally wronged to the point I have a personal vendetta."

"Consider yourself lucky then."

"I will."

Belladonna nodded.

"I must say I am glad to have the company."

"It... wasn't what I expected. Or am used to."

"Oh?"

"I don't... fraternize often."

"Oh why would that be?"

"Not much time for it mixed with people's... tendency to see fame and not personality."

"I see."

"I bet you have some nice friends, though."

"Ehhh.I suppose so."

"What do you mean?"

"I have a good squad. And my boss is wonderful."

"Sounds nice."

"It does. I would consider most of them friends so I can't complain. I don't really have friends outside of work which my moms say is a little bit of a problem, but yeah. I'm not exactly starved for human contact. I prefer being alone when I'm finally away from the job anyway."

Belladonna nodded. "I understand."

"Apologies. That was a bit of a ramble."

"Don't apologize. I'm just sorry you won't have that alone time."

"Oh please. Don't apologize for that."

"Why not?"

"I'm not trying to get away from a busy day here. Its a new day of my vacation. A little company is honestly quite welcome."

"Oh. Well, I hope it's as relaxing as you hope."

"We shall see. So far its been very relaxing. You've been wonderful."

"Oh." Belladonna flushed. "I'm... I'm glad."

"Of course."

Belladonna tapped on her bowl, looking down at the ground.

"I think perhaps I'd like to get to know you more than just the artist I hear about twice a year."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. Your company is rather enjoyable."

"Really? What if I turn out to be an axe murderer?"

She giggles. "Well you haven't tried to murder me yet."

"Maybe I'm waiting for you to be asleep so you don't stop me."

"If so, you've done a very poor job of tricking me into falling asleep unguarded which means you're not super experienced so its never too late to stop."

Belladonna smiled softly. "Maybe."

She smiled back. "So. No problem then."

She nodded. "No problem."

"So you agree your company is enjoyable?"

"Currently, you're the only one testing that. So if you believe so, then it's true for now."

"That's a surprisingly diplomatic answer."

"I learned from the worst."

"Indeed."

"I... I'm sure getting to know you would be nice."

"Thank you."

She nodded.

"I think this will be a good journey."

"I hope you're right."

"I hope so too."

"We should probably turn in for the night. I'll take first watch."

"We should. And well if you're offering. That's rare. Everyone asks me to take first watch and usually all the watches." She chuckles.

"Oh, it's hard for me to fall asleep. So I'll usually stay up until I'm too tired to protest."

"I see. Well are you going to sleep and give me watch at all then?"

"We'll see where the night takes us."

"We shall. Do wake me up though. Even if we both end up keeping watch."

"When do you want me to wake you up?"

"Uhh when should we start heading off again?"

"Sunrise maybe?"

"Sounds good. Wake me at around halfway to that?"

"Alright."

"Thank you. Goodnight then. It was lovely talking with you."

"Goodnight. Sleep well."

She nodded and walked off with a small wave. "Be safe. Wake me up if something happens."

"I will." Belladonna watched her go, tapping on her knee. She picked up her painting and looked it over. It was a tall, well muscled-woman swinging her axe down on a doe. The doe's hooves were speckled red. She put it inside her bag and leaned against the trunk of the tree. Sieglinde did not have to see that.
She/They/Fae

“the wist i knew would never allow a straight boy in their stories” ~Omni
“Hi Omni can I request wist get the role mom friend :]" ~winter
“ah yes, fear Wist's smile :) <- speaks of layers and layers of secrets” ~mint




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Mon Apr 01, 2024 5:39 am
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Spearmint says...



Siris



Siris wished there was a perfectly symmetrical way to eat a croissant. Due to their curved shape, eating a croissant starting from one end left it asymmetrical and off-balance. But it was uncomfortable to eat a croissant from the middle. Oh! Wait... What if... Siris carefully folded the croissant in half, putting the ends together. She gave a small smile. There! Now, she could eat it in peace, without that pesky asymmetry.

Siris happily munched on her chocolate croissant as she walked towards the forest on the border of the Badlands. She'd been traveling for about a day now, after closing up the shop and entrusting its care to one of her employees. She could only hope they wouldn't run the business into the ground during the short time she'd be away. The fox hadn't been very specific, but surely Siris could return to the bakery in a few days? Killing the gods didn't have to be done all at once. If she were to speculate, she'd guess this initial meeting would lay out some plans and groundwork for the eventual overthrow of the gods. That is, if she believed the fox's true goal was indeed that of killing the gods.

Lost in thought, Siris strode down the path. Even distracted as she was, however, she eventually got the feeling of being watched. Her eyes narrowed as she pulled herself to the present and glanced to the left and right. There! On top of a rock. A person thinner than the blade of a knife.

Siris observed the observer for a moment, swallowed what was left of her croissant, then got to the point. "Why are you watching me?"

He did not answer, just remained crouched while staring with his heterochromia eyes.

Hm. His scrawniness reminded Siris of some of the street urchins back home. It was usually best not to associate with such riffraff. Siris kept walking, but the sensation of being stared at didn't subside.

Finally, she stopped again and looked back. He was still staring, but not completely like a fish would. He did blink like a normal person. Whatever you'd consider to be a normal person anyways. His face did show a slight bit of curiousity.

Siris glanced at her satchel of baked goods. Was it worth it to feed a street urchin? Giving free samples to people who couldn't pay for other goods wasn't the most intelligent business move. She frowned. "Goodbye." Then she kept walking, ignoring the itch to look back again. The staring persisted.

Finally she whirled around again and snapped, "Would you quit it already?" She immediately regretted it when he shrunk a bit. Right. She had to work on her customer service skills. Siris attempted a smile, felt that it was like sliding off her face like oil off parchment paper, and defaulted to her usual serious expression. "I mean, would you kindly stop staring at me?" She would've attempted another smile, but she didn't think looking like she was in extreme pain would help matters. He was still looking tense as if he was ready to bolt. He did look in a different direction, but she would still be visible in his peripheral vision.

Siris huffed a sigh. "Are you hungry? Is that it?" She fished out another croissant from her satchel and held it out towards the person. "Here. From the Eureka Bakery in Cambrid. If you like it, recommend it to anyone you know."

He turned his head and eyed the crossant warily, as if it would bite his nose off.

Siris held out the croissant for another few seconds, then dropped her arm. "Well, then don't take it. I don't care." She started walking again, trying her hardest to ignore the sensation of being stared at. What she couldn't ignore was the clopping sound of a horse approaching from behind. Siris moved over to the side of the road and tried to keep walking in peace. The urchin had hopped off of the rock, away from the horses.

The horse appeared at her side, towering over her with two riders on it.

"Hello!"

Siris ignored the rider.

"Hello there!"

Was the rider talking to her? Siris glanced over and made eye contact, then quickly glanced away again. "Hello." She subtly walked a little faster. Two interactions in one day? And here she'd thought that traveling would at least afford some peace and quiet on her own.

"Sieglinde, it sounds like she wants to be left alone."

Siris faltered half a step. "Actually, could you just do one thing? Could you check behind us and see if there's still a street urchin watching me?"

The street urchin was still there, keeping distance but keeping up while watching the interaction.

"There is."

Well, that was just great. Actually... Siris had an idea... "If you two are looking for a conversation, I'm sure you could attempt to strike one up with him!" Baking two pastries with one oven. Perfect.

"I think he wants one even less." The second rider fiddled with something on her waist.

"Nonsense. I'm sure he's just slow to warm up." Siris increased her pace a little bit more and tucked the croissant back into her satchel. She glanced at the second rider for a moment.

The horse easily kept up. "Well it appears so are you."

Siris paused for a moment, then walked even faster and didn't deign to respond. It was a mistake to have started talking to this person. Now she might (oh, the horror!) be dragged into a conversation.

The second rider seemed to be almost hiding behind this talkative terror out of pure embarrassment. "Siegelinde, is there another way to go?"

"Hmmm? Why do you ask?"

"Because we're starting to look like stalkers."

Despite herself, Siris had to stifle a snort. Stalkers was a little extreme. Perhaps overly-friendly people would be a better fit.

"Are we?"

"I guess it's up to her. But she's walking faster."

Siris nodded mentally and increased her pace until she was nearly outpacing the horse. Her calves started to burn.

"Let's just stop and look for lunch. It's getting late."

Siris's ears perked up. Lunch? That was right, it was around mealtime. She couldn't help but be curious what they were planning to eat. In matters of food, at least, Siris didn't mind having to deal with humans. She had a sandwich and a blueberry muffin prepared for herself.

"It is. Perhaps a good idea."

"I haven't seen much out here, but I think we can manage a squirrel. Maybe two."

Hmm. Squirrel. That would be good with creole seasoning, and perhaps some crushed nuts for garnish? Siris reached into her satchel. Aha! Two packets of creole left. She fingered the packets, still hesitant to be drawn into the conversation. But... squirrel did sound rather better than a day-old sandwich...

"Here." Siris held out a packet of seasoning to the riders. "This'll make the squirrel more flavorful. Mind if I-" She swallowed and started again. "Mind if I join you for lunch? I have some bread we can share. Maybe." Oh gods, was she actually doing this? Eating lunch with strangers? All for squirrel meat?

"Oooh I packed a little spices myself but this is much better actually.Thank you. And you could absolutely eat with us."

The second rider cleared her throat. "Where are you heading? We don't want to keep you from your journey..."

Siris pursed her lips. Surely it was too early to talk about foxes appearing in dreams. "Oh, just the forest on the border of the Badlands." She waved a hand vaguely.

The second rider's eyes went wide before she controlled her expression. "Any... particular reason why?"

Sieglinde narrowed her eyes ever so slightly. "Foxy reasons perhaps?"

Siris stiffened. "You... too?" Her gaze darted towards Sieglinde and the other rider, taking their appearances in in more detail. "Would those foxy reasons have anything to do with the gods?"

She darted a quick glance backwards as well. The street urchin's gaze seemed to sharpen, more tuned into their conversation. Or maybe she was just imagining it. Surely not all four of them were on this road because of the same dream...

"Maybe. If... yours does."

"Nothing about taking down the gods, for sure. Right?" Siris watched them carefully, almost tripping over a rock in the path.

"If by nothing you mean it's the literal point of going. Then yes."

Siris nodded slowly. "Well. Perhaps we have more in common than I thought." She glanced up at the midday sun. "Shall we stop for lunch?"

"I think we shall."
mint, she/her


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Mon Jul 15, 2024 1:22 am
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Omni says...



Estanya

Westlio


Estanya only rested when she slept. Her days were filled with the relentless pursuit of knowledge at the Lantern Citadel. This place was considered by many as the birth place of knowledge itself and perhaps even the God of Enlightenment. Others posited this place as the previous home of the Gods before they left this plan of existence for something different, or something more. Others still questioned if this place had any significance at all in the age of Gods, or if it did, it was only their launching destination for the world in the next. Whatever the significance it may or may not have had in the age before then, it clearly held importance to Soulskind, to humans, as both a wealth of knowledge and a place to become closer to the Gods, to understand those who preceded them and created them.

The Lantern Citadel was a large and beautiful place to visit and explore, combining the beauty of several generations of architecture, design, and the direct reflection of that generation's most brilliant minds. It was commonplace in the Lantern Citadel to build upon ideas rather than disregard them, and this showed in the citadel itself. As a result, the Lantern Citadel was a bustling miniature city all on its own, full of mazes, stories, and secrets.

Estanya herself called the Zenith her home within the Lantern Citadel. The Zenith was one of the oldest structure in the place, built within the first five generations of the Soulskind. It was originally meant as a temple to the Gods, to stand alone in the skies and give reverence to the Gods; to look below and understand the Gods' past, and to look above and glean into perhaps the present. This building marked the template for an expanding civilization and truly began the Lantern Citadel as it stood today.

Over the centuries, the Zenith became a portion of the Lantern Citadel that dedicated itself to the study of the Gods themselves, and became the home of the most Enlightened. It wasn't their home alone, of course, as it also morphed and evolved into a place of worship for those inclined to try and feel a closer connection to the Gods their souls belonged to. Estanya, like most other Enlightened, never really minded those who pilgrimaged to the Lantern Citadel and Zenith. It always made the place feel not so lonely, and it helped her with new perspectives and new ideas.

Estanya's days started early, as the sun peaked over the horizon and into her curtained windows. Dawn's morning light reached the Zenith before any other part of the city and the land beneath it, so the only people up before her were those who prepped for that day's food, both for the animals and the people. Estanya used those few precious beginning moments to document the final stars that stubbornly peaked through the light, and the time it took the sun to show itself completely. It was mundane, and not a part of her true research, but it was the way Estanya had become accustomed to when she started her mornings. It primed her mind and washed awaay the night's doubts and concerns. Over the past decade, Estanya had begun to include a new step in her daily routine, just after sketching out the celestial movements.

"Jah, jou, mave, ehtasu. Eh--. Hmm." That syllable did not sound right. She had spent her mornings practicing the language she painstakingly transcribed. Estanya sat down by a small, circular table in the opposite corner of her room from her bed, and dipped a quill in a tiny pot of red ink. She scribbled her thoughts on a piece of parchment with one hand while she absentmindedly plucked a hard biscuit that she had left on the table the night before. It had become a bit of a habit of hers completely by accident. She got more food than she could eat in the evening --that was, if she ate at all while she was deep in transcribing ancient texts. By the morning, the food had become stale and tough, but it allowed her to munch on it while she thought aloud. Her days, these days, were spent pouring over texts preserved over the generations. These texts were what they called the Firsts. They were recountings of stories told directly by the Gods, so they self proclaimed. The internal records of the Lanter Citadel indicated these papers were several, several hundreds of years old, if not more. It was also indicative of the first writings from the Soulskind. It was interpretations or translations of spoken songs and stories, some of which supposedly came straight from the Gods' mouths.

Handling these ancient relics was a delicate process. Some of them were so brittle, it took an entire team just to carefully retrieve them from the archives. But, the most time-consuming part was just trying to transcribe it. The works were a long dead language transcribing an even older dead language or giving a non-literal translation of spoken stories. Estanya's goal was not transcribing these stories themselves, no. It was going deeper, to the language of the Gods. Decoding a language of which the Soulskind had never retrieved a written piece on, and only heard slight mentions and rumors from the Firsts was an arduous task, and nigh impossible. It had also never been done before Estanya, not in all of the Lantern Citadel's records. The difficulty was impossible, yes, but the thought of even trying it was questionable at best. Other Enlightened mostly understood her thirst for knowledge, but it certainly excluded her from most others. To yearn for the Gods was understandable, even natural. But to try to use knowledge to learn the language of the Gods? Sacrilege.

All it meant for Estanya was that she had more time for her transcriptions. Those didn't halt until long after the sun set. She kept transcribing until she could no longer see the North Star from her windows, meaning it was fully overhead. At that point, Estanya finally would let herself rest. And she only rested when she slept.

But not when she dreamt.

Estanya rarely dreamt, and it was even rarer still for her to remember them. She was no Keeper, after all. So, when she did have dreams that lingered, she knew them to be important. This one was simple. It was a nondescript forest; the details of the forest did not matter. In the forest there was a fox. The fox was unmoving, yet it called out to her.

"Do you wish to kill the Gods?"

︵‿︵‿୨♡OwO ♡୧‿︵‿︵


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Someday, everything is going to go right for you, and it will be so wonderful you won't even know what to do.
— Hannelore Ellicott-Chatham, Questionable Content