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Aeyis



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Tue Feb 20, 2018 12:21 am
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Saen says...



Aeyis

The place you wake up in is cold and unfamiliar. Stationary ice juts out of the surging river beside you, caked in mud and littered with driftwood. There are two men fighting there. If that wasn't shocking in itself, their weapons are practically relics. One is a halberd, and the other is a sword. The battle is strangely enchanting. You desperately hope you're watching a reenactment of some sort.

But then you begin to notice the little details. The blades of their weapons shine in the sunlight that's reflected off of the ice, and their clothes match no time period. You fear for your life. Whoever the victor is will surely come after you next.

Wait – why does your body feel so wrong? You look down and are horrified to see that it isn't your body. You want to cry and scream and do everything someone is supposed to do in a situation like this, but there appears to be people around you. They're just as dazed as you are. You should be scared. They all have weapons sheathed at their sides or on the ground beside them, but they look oddly familiar.

You look at yourself again.

You are not a stranger, nor are they. They are your friends of two years, ones that you consider to be family. They are the roleplayers of Aeyis. And, by some terrifying twist of fate, all of you have ended up as your characters. Your horrified mind can barely digest your startling new reality. Still, you somehow notice that one of your group is missing. And this person is perhaps the most important of all.

The one who brought you all together is nowhere to be found.

Character Slots

1.) @Saen
2.) @FalconerGal9086
3.) @Thundahguy
4.) @PrincessInk
5.) @RaidenCheese
6.) @AliceinBluue
7.) @Lael
8.) @Lumi
9.) @soundofmind
10.) @Tortwag
"I have the magicky too. You're probably thinking, 'How the heckie does he have the magicky?'" -soundofmind, as Bo
  





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Tue Mar 13, 2018 9:12 pm
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Saen says...



Spoiler! :
A̷͕̯̅̏̾ͅm̶̫͉͙̥̳͐́͘͜͝ ̷̼̖͈͍̇̀̃̈̀̑̚͝I̵̧̡̗̱͚͔͆̏́͊͑̽͋ ̵̛̗͈̥͔͍͖̌͋̉̋̚͝ͅp̸͍̝͂̾̊͊̕͝ä̸͍́̋̿̆͆͑r̵̦͆͊̉̈́̈́͐͘̚t̴̠͗ ̸̛̭̣̀̑͊̕͝ͅő̴̤͖f̸̡̻̗̭̪̂̾̏̾ͅ ̷̜̭̭͕̒̔͛͌̚͘͝ý̸̞̳̠͇̹̗̉̈͘ò̶͔̠̞̐͂͂̽̀͋̔ų̶͓̥̺̻͖͆ͅr̷̲̬̙̠̣̰̉́̌͌̏̕͝ ̷͈̻̞̆́̂̍̆ñ̸͎͍̳̆i̷̡̫͈͉͔͕̻̦̇́g̶̡̟͔͙͚͓͔͒̔͠h̷̬͎͋̊t̴̢̪̔m̶̨̛̘̘͉̞̬͐͑̽̋͛á̶̛̲͚̞̮̪̳͐̽͗̂̃͜͠r̷̛̙̿͒̾͐͐͒ẹ̸̡̯̦͚̩͛͜͝,̷̢̣͍̩̝̗̱̝̿͆̃ ̸̛̳̳̘̙͎̦̖̟̄͑̈[̴̢̻̖͓̓̄̄̚Ř̸͇̯̟͉̖̠̼͆̑ẽ̷͕̪̳ḑ̸͉͐̊̒̔̓̂͜ȃ̵̡̰̼̙̲̗͕͖͌̄̚̕ç̷̩͙͚̊̍̈̿̈̽̕t̶̡̨̼̬̙͎̆͌̉̉͆͊̚e̶̙̥̭̲̲͓̓͜͝ḋ̸̙̩̜̭̝̀͋]̷̘̣̻̳̤̗͊͂͆́̈́̑̇?̵̺̼̜̯̗̱̦̚
̸̨̧͙̜̾̑̿̍̒͒̚͝
̸̜͔̞̃̄̍͊̔̇͝O̷̗̾͋r̶̡͈̠̫̬̹̞̉͜͠ ̶̡̹͕̄̓̃̕a̴͉͈̳̖̣͗͒̇͝m̶͖̹̟̼̎̇̈́̊̿͛͘͜ ̵̼͙͕̃͛̌̒Ì̵̖̲̌̇͌̂͑͗͠ͅ ̴͇̝̉͌̒́̈́̚t̸̪̀̓́h̷͚̫̬̯́̍͗̍͝e̸̝̦̩͇͑̀͊̆̐ ̴̢̛̬̲̆͂͝p̷̼̅͆͂a̷̡̡͕͍̮̙̣͕͐r̷̙̺̱̣͓̯̺̓́̔̂̉͘͘t̷̗͔̫̠̩̅̒̈́̑ ̵̖̲̻͂̃̋̆͐͝ͅţ̴̛̮̭͈̯́̊̕͜h̸̘̳̪̟̠́̉͋͜ą̷̛͉͇͔̙̠̑̎̍̓t̷̡̳̰̔̓ ̸̯͇̬̐m̴͓͆̅̑̈̋͌̈ä̴͎̼͎̔k̴͕̣̥̂͐̃͗̔̄͝e̷̫̞̎̈́͠ͅs̶̤̱̠̝̰̲̄̇̇̾́͜͠ ̸̢͗͆̌̔y̶̫̤̖̪̱̠̥̼͗̑͒̓̍̓̽̎o̸̧̞͎͐̇́̀u̴̮͚̟̼̤͊̉̔͝ͅ ̸̧̻̺̤̠́̄̾̀͋̄͘͠n̸̨̼͕̈́̂̔͌̆̀̾͜e̸̖̠̻͋́̏̔̽v̷̨̛̦̲͇̯͇̯̇̈ë̶̡̩͚̰́̀̑͑̐̅̈r̴͚͒̂͆ ̷̢͍̣̟͓̃͑̿̏ẉ̴̡̱̤̙̰͋̐ą̵̗̥̟͋̀̅́̚̕͝ṅ̸̬̲̟̖̞̝̅̑̏́̈̎̕ͅt̶̖̥̟̬̋͗͒͋̾ ̵̢͐͋̄̐̋͂̊̍ť̶͔͉͎̗̞̥̮̼̆̆ô̶̳̲̲̿͠ ̴̥͔̬̋̈̓w̶̨̯͙̬͍͍̎̅̔̚͘a̷͉͖͙̫͙̯̓̑̋k̸̡̛̝̘͚̅̈̈́e̷̛͇̯̯͗̽͗͑ ̷̨̘̹̫̱͊̎̃̌̓̊ṵ̴̤̮̪̤̭͚̖̉͌̌̑̅̓̉p̵̢̳̺̙̮̀̿̊?̷̧̤̲̮̩̲͖͌̾̓͜

[Redacted]

Movement in the darkness of the room. He could hear soft footsteps pacing back and forth, only to fall silent as their owner settled on the end of his bed. The weight was light. But there was still the slight sagging, the slight shifting as it waited like a predator stalking its prey. He held his breath. Having just woken up, his mind was still groggy. But he was alert enough to be gripped by a terrible fear as he peeked one eye open.

The shadow silently watched him.

He opened his mouth to scream.

In turn, it did the same. Darkness dripped from the recesses of the monstrosity, sliding down its chin in thick globs. A garbled mess of words came out of the dropped jaw. It was like the static of an old radio. A name, though it could barely be called that, was spoken. It was his name – his true name, the one that he had left behind – and suddenly the world came into focus.

He pushed the covers back. His fingers grasped for the lantern on the nightstand behind him, fire springing to life as he struck a small match. A warm light enveloped the two of them. Sitting up, he carefully positioned the lantern between them. The shadow watched the flickering flames for several minutes. Darkness stained the white sheets as it reached a hand out to touch the metal handle.

The shadow followed him as he prepared for the day, dutifully carrying the lantern in one hand as they traveled about the inn room. It left a trail of darkness in its wake. It chattered with a childlike glee as he offered it one of the gems he had gotten as payment on his last job. The gem pulsed with an unearthly glow as it passed from his hands to the hands of the shadow.

They ate their breakfast sitting on the edge of the bed, his being a stale piece of bread and the shadow's being the gem. He didn't ask how it could eat the gem; questions like that had been for the beginning of their friendship. They had just come a point where he had accepted the oddness that accompanied being friends with an eldritch monstrosity.

When they finished their respective meals, he walked over to the mirror. The shadow trailed behind him. It shrunk at the sight of its own reflection. He should have comforted it, but he was too concerned with his own and he had a history of failure when it came to the topic of its reflection.

He studied his reflection. There was a certain level of mischievousness to the dark fairy staring back at him, though he still hadn't figured out how he managed that with such a neutral expression on his face. He readjusted the silver circlet nestled in his dark curls. Draping his black cloak over his shoulders, he pulled up the hood.

“Riken, are you ready?”

The shadow behind him appeared to take in a large gulp of air. The darkness that now stained every corner of the room returned to its rightful owner, and Riken took a step towards him. Its fingers brushed up against his cheeks. One moment, it was before him. The next, darkness danced across his bare skin. It was a warm, slightly ticklish feeling that he was only now getting used to.

He grabbed his pack and halberd.

It was time for their day to begin.

~v~

She had a policy of not questioning strangers.

This policy was not shared by the others of her town. When everyone knew everyone else, anyone new was considered a special sort of treat. They desperately wished for stories of lands far away. Even more so, the strangers who frequented the town often were odd. It had nothing to do with their races. Orcs weren't particularly judgmental as a whole, and their town was built on a shared ideal of tolerance. But, more often than not, the adventurous travelers left their home because they simply did not belong.

But it was difficult not to ask questions of the stranger standing on her doorstep. Something moved from within the darkness of his hood. It was unnerving to not know what it was, but she bit her tongue. His halberd gleamed in the light of the early morning sun. Pressuring the armed was never a smart idea.

“'Morning,” she said. Her gaze lingered on his weapon. She was just a simple shop owner. Home visits from travelers was not a normal occurrence, and it was hard to shake the fear that accompanied such a strange phenomena.

He ducked his head in greeting. “Good morning.”

“My shop will be open in a bit, if that's what you're here for. It's right down the street.” She raised a shaking finger and pointed at the building in question.

He followed her gaze, nodded, and looked back at her. Violet eyes inquisitively peered at her from within the coils of his hood. He waited for her to say more. When she remained silent, he took it as a sign that he could speak once more.

“I'm here for a job,” he said.

“Job?” she meekly replied.

He nodded. “I'm a mercenary.”

All color drained from her face. A mercenary, here for her? Who had she wronged? There had been that group of travelers several weeks back, but that kind priest had reassured her that she had caused them no trouble when she had accidentally given them the wrong herbal concoction.

“I see,” she managed to say.

He fumbled in his pockets for something. Tensing, she waited for him to withdraw a weapon from the depths of his great black cloak. But it was a rather familiar piece of parchment that he withdrew instead. She had seen it just before; she had been the one to put it up in the town square. She hadn't thought much would come of it. The orcs of her town weren't skilled when it came to battle, and catching a criminal was something only the most powerful people could accomplish.

He held out the parchment. “I'd like to take the job.”

She narrowed her eyes in suspicion. She was terrified of him, but she would still remain wary. The reward offered for such a task was average at most; she was certain he would have been given better payment in the past.

And mercenaries never became mercenaries out of the kindness of their heart. They were driven by a terrible, terrible desperation, one that allowed them to keep pushing past their limits and take unthinkable risks. Something drove him to offer his services. Before she knew what thing was, how could she accept him?

“Why do you want to take this job?”

The thing hidden within his cloak shifted once more. He raised his head; striking violet eyes stared out from a young yet hardened face. Living shadows danced across his dark skin, moving about from one side of his face to the other in one fluid motion.

Her breath caught in her throat.

“I want to help you,” he said.

The darkness continued to shift in a mesmerizing pattern. She wanted to be mistaken, but that was impossible. Legends had told of land far, far away. It was home to a temple that housed a horrific yet sacred deity. And that being would take favor on those they deemed worthy; they would go as far as bringing them back to life if they died in its presence.

And that darkness, that moving, beautiful darkness, was what marked those who had returned from death.

“But why me?” she asked.

He shifted the weight of his halberd. “I have a mission that I need to accomplish. There was a group that came through here at some point in the past month. I want to exchange my services for information on them.” There was a fierceness to his eyes. From the very depths of those violet orbs, flames were brought to life. “There was a priest. He may have called himself K. I need to find him and the adventurers he travels with.”

Her heart skipped a beat. “What will you do when you find them?”

“That's something between us,” he simply said.

Should she risk the possible harm that might befall the group so justice could be delivered? They had passed through the town nearly a week before. Her information, though quite useful, couldn't pinpoint where they were now. And she needed the items that had been stolen from her store – without them, she was steadily plunging into debt.

She took a deep breath.

“I'll tell you everything.”
"I have the magicky too. You're probably thinking, 'How the heckie does he have the magicky?'" -soundofmind, as Bo
  





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Sat Mar 17, 2018 10:03 pm
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RaidenCheese says...



[Sora]


He ran up to a wall, spun and pressed his back up against it. Take a peek. Asses, hide.
He pulled out his pistol, putting away the sniper rifle. A breath. Calm down.
He glided over to the next wall, crouching down behind it. Readying the pistol, he ran out. A bullet flew past - he ducked.
He clenched his jaw.
Jumping, he dived behind a car. Once the bullets stopped coming, he peeked out and took a few shots at his assailant with his pistol.
[+100]
Check ammo. 7/15. Enough.
He ran on, taking cover behind a bush. He peeked out. There it was - the enemy flag. All he had to do was capture that and bring it back to his base, and they'd win.
He scanned the area. It looked clear - obviously it was not. Squinting, he noticed C4 laying behind a patch of grass. Beyond that, behind a wall, he could see the barrel of an assault rifle sticking out the edge.
He switched to his sniper.
Looking through the iron sights, he saw the barrel again. He shifted the aim, to the wall and pulled the trigger.
[+100]
He cocked the bolt action sniper, and switched to his pistol again. A few shots and the C4 exploded where it was. He ran out, holding the pisol out to his blind spot. Nobody was there - good. He grabbed the flag, strapped it to his back and radioed back to his team.
"Obtained enemy flag, returning to base," he spoke, running through the orange building. As he exited on the other side, he glanced to his right. He had heard something that wasn't a gunshot - in fact, he barely heard it.

Then an axe struck his head, and he died.

<><><>


Sora slammed his head gently against his desk.
"I was...so close..." he whispered, before looking back up at the killcam on his screen.
"It was a lucky shot with that axe," a voice came through his headset. Sora sighed.
"Yeah yeah, but if I didn't run through the building..."
"It's alright fam, you were cool while it lasted," another voice came. Sora nodded, though he knew they wouldn't see it. He checked the time.
"Gah, it's two a.m. I'm gonna hop off to bed, night guys," he said, exiting the game. A few “goodnights” reached his ears before left the voice call he was on. He turned his pc off, yawned and crawled into his single bed. He stared up at the ceiling as his eyelids slowly got heavier and heavier. Finally, they closed, and he fell into a deep sleep.

<><><>


"This...this doesn't feel like my bed..." Sora thought to himself, his eyes still closed as his fingers trailed over the ground underneath him. Rough. Cold. Kinda like soil.
"Definitely not my bed." He opened an eye; and he shut it again. Sun was too bright. In the distance, he heard sounds of metal clanging.
"Kinda...sounds like a blacksmith...or something."
He opened both his eyes, sat up, and realised something was very wrong. He was in a forest, by the side of a river. There was snow covering parts of the ground, and the tree trunks looked damp, like it had recently been raining. He did not live in an area that had this sort of environment.
He turned to where he had heard the sounds of clanging metal. His eyes widened as he realised it was a battle - between some dude with what looked like a halberd and another with a sword. That...should not have been happening. There was a small chance it was a re-enactment, but he doubted it. They seemed too serious about it, from what he could see at this distance.
He spun his head round to see what was around him - and he saw a bunch of other people, lying on the ground like he had been. He blinked, as some of them looked familiar. Then he gulped, and realised yet another thing that wasn't as it should have been.
His chest was heavier than he remembered.
There were two somethings on his lower back.
He looked down at his hands, and suppressed the urge to scream. Though he was fairly certain if he did, he wouldn't be happy with the pitch.
His hands weren't his own -- large and thin filanges -- but were rather delicate and gentle, covered by mismatched gloves. His thighs weren't his large-ish, hairy thighs, but smooth, curvaceous thighs that would make some of his friends' mouths water.
"...this...this body looks familiar..." he thought, his attention solely on himself, ignoring the distant metal noises. The realisation was slow as he looked over every part of this new body carefully. The mismatched gloves were the first hint, then the shoes strengthened that hunch. With a natural-feeling shift of muscles he didn't know he had, the feathered wing-like objects that lay next to him moved as well. The long, bright yellow hair that he noticed when he looked at those wings pretty much confirmed it.

He was in his character's body.

No longer was he Sora - instead, he's Sofia, the peaceful Flugel.

"Well...uh...well crap,"
I'm cool as a cucumber
Even if I'm in a pickle


Two possibilities exist: Either we are alone in the universe, or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.
  





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Tue Mar 20, 2018 12:41 am
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soundofmind says...



Amy Brooks


"Hey Andy!"

Amy grabbed Andy's arm as they left class and pulled him aside, away from the flow of foot traffic. Flipping around to turn to him, she held her hands together at her chin, and grinned with scheming delight. She started talking. Probably too quickly.

"Okay, so you know how how Mihael and Bo kind of bump heads a lot in the rp and they're usually on opposite sides of the argument sort of thing? Well ever since that last scene where Mihael saved Bo's life in the fight with the giant snake I reaaaaally wanna see them slowly bond and like, gradually form a mutual respect for each other despite their differences."

Andy laughed a bit, but judging from the light in his eyes, he seemed excited about the idea as well. "I was ab-so-lutely gonna suggest that soon! The nasty, tense banter between them is hella old, and they're due for some character development in general."

Amy nodded eagerly. "Yeah. I mean, don't get me wrong. I like all of the creative insults you get to come up with. But since it's not really in Bo's character to insult people that are his comrades or to insult people in general it's gotten kiiiiiiind of boring for me, haha. So yes! Good, good!" She hopped up and down twice, before snapping her fingers and pointing finger guns at Andy.

"Okay, well, I gotta run! Five minutes is never enough time for me to run to the bathroom in between classes!"

Andy gave a little salute-like wake of goodbye and turned away as Amy ran off in the direction of the women's restroom. She really had to pee.

~v~


Amy stole another glance at the fellow sitting a few rows away from her on the bus. As always was the inner debate when drawing from life, she wasn't sure how much to look at the unsuspecting subject of her drawings and how often she should look away, because there were two things in mind. One, she kept hearing the voice of her art teacher in her head of: "Don't draw what you think you see, draw what you really see. The more time you spend looking at the paper instead of at what's actually there the more room there is to get it wrong because you're just assuming." So in order to do that - to not assume, and to actually get it right - she had to be looking as much as she could. But on the other hand, she didn't want to get caught.

Now on the one hand, it had happened a few times before where people had noticed her drawing them and they were completely cordial about it. Some even wanted to see the picture. Then there were others that just looked at her weirdly and turned away, or walked away. And then there were a few that got mad.

It was the latter that she wanted to avoid. She was trying to stay out of trouble.

Of course, in most cases, those reactions were a rare occurence, but in the grand scheme of things, she could never be sure. So when the old man finally looked up from his book and caught a glimpse of her gaze, she had a brief moment of panic, before she flipped her notebook around and showed him her sketch of him before he could make any assumptions.

"I hope you don't mind. It's good for practice," she said with a slightly nervous smile.

The man's thin lips wrinkled up into an impressed frown. "Huh. That ain't bad," he commented, as he looked at her sketch, then looked back at his book, seemingly content with the briefness of the interaction.

Amy let out a small sigh.

Crisis averted.

With the explanation out of the way, now she could just look at him without that vague sense of apprehension. So she tried sketching him again - looking at the curve of his sun-spotted nose, and the arch of his big ears, tucked behind his paperboy cap. Then there was the droop of his eyelids, the wrinkles at the corners, and the surprisingly long eyelashes. All of it was quite beautiful, and very fun to capture with her pencil to the best of her ability - that was, until the bus pulled to an abrupt stop and a straight line flew across the entire sketch as she shook to the side.

The grip around her pencil tightened, and she let in a sharp inhale, shivering slightly with repressed frustration at this, albeit, common occurence. But it was just as infuriating every time.

Loosening her grip slowly as to not break her favorite 0.5 led mechanical pencil, she closed her sketchbook, slipped the pencil in the ringed binding, and slipped it back into her backpack. She pulled her hands back into her jacket pockets, tightening her fists where no one could see them to channel her frustration somewhere. After a solid minute of murdering her palms with her nails digging into them, she loosened her grip and let out a long sigh.

This minor inconvenience was only one of many things that she would have to deal with today, and if she could manage to not overreact to this, it was a success.

Leaning her head back on the stiff seats that sported the signature grime of public transportation, she gave one last glance around the bus and the people around her before she permitted herself to space out in aimless thought for the rest of the ride home. Cause she knew she'd need it.

~v~


As the echoes of mom and dad yelling bounced downstairs into the basement, Amy curled up in the corner of the faded leather L-shaped couch with her laptop. On the other end of the couch her two younger brothers were arguing about what characters were the best on some sci-fi show and on the floor another younger brother was chasing their youngest sister around, screaming.

In her constant effort to dull out the noise, she blocked it out by blasting beats and rap music into her ears. She could totally see herself being deaf by thirty but at this point, she wouldn't mind if it meant she could have some quiet.

Her older brother Patrick came down the narrow stairway and stood at the edge of the steps, looking at her expectantly.

Amy looked up at him, annoyed, and ripped one ear-phone out.

"What?" she yelled over the screaming of her five year old sister. "It's not my turn to talk them down from it. I thought you were gonna do that so they'd shut up and we could have dinner."

Patrick, glaring in annoyance at the their two siblings running around, shouted. "Shut it, you two! D*mn it if we can't have a second to talk."

Lilly, age five, and Raymond, age six, were silent for a second before they both proceeded to scream, this time, louder than before. Amy and Patrick both exchanged mutually annoyed looks before Amy closed her laptop and tucked it under her arm, got up, and grabbed Lilly, tickling her. The squeals continued, but this time it was in protest.

"NOoOoOO, stop!" Lilly laughed and squirmed, trying to tickle Amy back.

"Oh yeah?" She let Lilly go, leaving her giggling instead of screaming. "Let's keep quiet while mommy and daddy are upstairs, okay? We don't want them coming down here to tell you two you've been too loud."

Lilly hurried away with Raymond with what looked like a nod, and they proceeded to continue their game of tag, but more quietly. Amy looked back up at Patrick, still standing on the bottom step, easily a foot and a half taller than her with the extra five inch boost it gave him.

"What is it, Pat?"

Patrick narrowed his eyes at her. "Did you take cash from my secret stash?"

Amy's face took on an exasperated, wide-eyed smile. "Excuse me?"

"Look, I know you know where it is. I'm not asking that much, Amy. I just need my money back. So just fess up."

Amy raised both brows, and looked him in the eyes. "Pat, I want nothing to do with your dirty money, and frankly, I don't need you trying to guilt trip me into giving you money again."

Pat took a step closer, stepping down from the stairs but still towering over her. "It ain't asking for a favor if it's money that was mine in the first place."

Amy shoved a finger in his face. "I'm not buying into this," she spat, brushing past him as she started up the stairs. "Leave me alone, Pat."

He grabbed her by the shoulder, pulling her down to the bottom step. She almost dropped her laptop, but gripped it tightly. "What the heck, Pat! I legit don't have anything to give you even if I did take your stupid money! God!"

"Look, I'm not joking Ames. I need the cash. I'm -" Pat's eyes flickered to their two brothers on the couch, who's stopped talking to watch the exchange. His voice lowered to a whisper as he leaned in towards Amy's ear. "I'm just in a little pinch, okay? I owe a friend and they're raising the stakes, I-"

Amy pushed him away from her.

"I told you Pat, I'm not falling for it, okay? Go to mom and dad if you really need money, you know how that'll go!"

Pat's whole countenance flared up in anger. "You know I can't do that."

"And I'm the better alternative?" Amy scoffed. "What happened to your job, man? Did you get laid off? Again?"

Pat looked even more angry.

"Look, I'm sorry, but, you know I don't make much over the summer and if I want any chance of keeping my scholarship - I mean - you know how busy I am! I can't - ugh!"

"You think you're the only one with a life, Ames?" Patrick retorted. "You know Karen and I would give anything to have what you have! Do you really have to be so selfish?"

Amy's fist entered Patrick's face. Patrick stumbled back, stunned.

"Don't you dare bring up Karen like she's just like you!" Amy hissed, stomping up the steps in a fury before Patrick could say anything else to anger her more. She ran to her room, locked and slammed the door behind her, only briefly passing by her parents in the kitchen who were still at it and didn't even notice her.

Amy slid her laptop into her backpack and jumped face-first into her pillow with a loud yell. Giving her blankets a death grip, she hardly had a moment's peace before a knock came on the door.

"Amy?" A high pitched voice came from the other side of the door. It was Lilly. They shared a room.

"What is it?" Amy yelled, still talking through her pillow.

"I can't get in."

"Yeah, that's kind of the point."

Silence, then a hesitant reply.

"But... Scamp is in there."

Scamp. Her stuffed dog. Amy pulled her face from her pillow and looked over at the stuffed animal sitting on her little sister's bed. Oddly, it almost seemed as if the dog's black beaded eyes were mocking her. She let out a growl of a sigh and got up, opening the door. Lilly ran in to be reunited with her precious Scamp. Meanwhile, Amy had turned around to grab her backpack, and quickly threw a few clothes into it.

"Where are you going?" Lilly asked.

"Just to Alice's for the night. I'm sick of it here."

Lilly was quiet for a moment. "You're always sick of it," she whispered quietly.

Amy turned around, her heart hurting as she made eye contact with her sister's little blue eyes.

"I'll be back tomorrow, you know. It's just a sleep over."

Lilly looked down at Scamp, hugging him close. "I know."

Amy slipped the backpack on and shoved her feet into her shoes before she kneeled beside Lilly's bed and gave Lilly a hug.

"When I get back we can play horses vs. dogs. The rival of the clans. A story of forbidden love. All of that stuff. Yeah?"

Lilly smiled and nodded. "Yeah!"

~v~


Alice came into the living room with two bottle of water and threw one over to Amy on the couch. As she plopped down beside Amy, she picked up the T.V. remote and slowly turned down the volume, which eventually caught Amy's attention. Amy looked over to her.

"What'd they do this time?"

Amy twisted the cap on her bottle open, taking a sip of water before she replied. She swallowed. "Not they. Just Pat. He's running around, doing whatever delinquent shit he usually does and he just wants me to be his sponsor."

"Does that mean he'll be moving back in?" Alice asked, finally turning the T.V. off completely.

Amy slouched back into the couch. "I dunno, honestly. I mean, it kind of sucks either way. He's a pain to have around but I'm more worried about him now that he's out of the house, so I really don't know. I think mom might make him move back though if he keeps this up."

Alice took a sip of water as well. "Well, I mean, even if he does move back in, you'll be moving out in a few months when you graduate. College dorms and everything."

Amy tilted her head back and forth. "Yeeeeah, but. I'm more worried about my little bros and sis. Pat isn't exaclty the best influence."

Alice nodded in understanding. "Mm... yeah. I would be worried too."

Amy swiveled her head around towards Alice. "Hey! I thought you were supposed to be comforting me!"

Alice raised her hands up defensively and laughed. "Haha, I'm just agreeing with you! You have legitimate reasons to be worried. But it's not all your responsibility to be the responsible one in your family. That should be the job of your parents. At least, for the kids's sakes."

Amy had started making a puppet with her hand, making it move when Alice talked. Alice slapped the puppet away. "Stop that! I'm just trying to be encouraging, you booger."

Amy had resorted to ventriliquism and began speaking through the hand-puppet. "I'm JuSt TrYiNg tO bE eNcOuRaGiNg YoU bOoGeR."

That resulted in giggles and laughter from them both, to which, Alice got up and threw a blanket at Amy.

"Ughhhh, whatever, Amy. It's getting late, and it's a school night. I don't wanna be dead at school tomorrow. Go to sleep."

Amy, popping out a hand from underneath the blanket, replied in her puppet's voice. "Go tO sLeEp."

Alice laughed again, but curled herself up on the other couch. "Seriously, Amy. I have a test tomorrow."

Amy sighed, and shuffled around on the couch to get comfortable. "Okay, okay. Fiiiine."

"We can talk more in the morning or something," Alice suggested, with a yawn following not long after.

"Yeah, yeah... sure."

~v~


Alice's couch was not as comfortable as she remembered. Was it always this hard? Did she always wake up feeling like someone had kicked her in the back? Did she always feel this... heavy?

Amy groggily opened her eyes - no. Eye. Just one eye. She felt all over her face, finding only a rough scar all around where her left eye should have been. Oh god. Oh god, no. What in the world was happening? What happened to her eye?

As she looked around, she quickly realized that she was not indoors, nor was she on anyone's couch, but she was underneath a lightly cloudy blue sky and trees. And she was in cold, wet, mud. With her face immediately twisting in disgust she cringed up into a sit, looking down to hurriedly wipe herself off, but as soon as she caught a glimpse of her hands, her heart stopped.

What. The. Hell.

In wide-eyed shock she stared at her hands. They were big, and rough, and tan, and calloused, and marked with little scars. They were giant, man hands. But that was nothing compared to the rest of her. All of her. Was a man. But as she took in the details; the missing eye, the outfit, the tall, muscular, frame, and everything down to the scar on her arm, she was certain.

This was Bo. In the flesh. Down to every last detail that she'd drawn up herself in his character reference sheet. Except, now, she was Bo, and he was real except, he was her?

In a panic, she was up on her feet.

"Oh! My! GOD! I'm-" She bit her tongue for two reasons. One. That was not her voice. Two. She heard the sound of clashing metal not far from her. What was - ? Wait.

As she looked around her and the other bodies lying on the ground, she realized she was staring at the real life versions of their characters in the rp. With her breath shaky and her heart pumping faster than she ever knew it could, she found herself smiling - her annoyingly creepy trait that she didn't know how to restrain in times of great stress, and now she was only imagining the expression plastered on the face of Bo. Dear God, have mercy on whomever looked upon her - or him? - now. She bet that in the eyes of anyone else, she looked like she was about to kill someone. Or that Bo did. Both of them. Or they were the same person.

God she was confused.

There came the sound of boots crunching in the snow behind her. Him. The sound of a groan. She turned in the frozen leaves, and, meeting the eyes of the demon himself, two long-time enemies spoke together:

"You..."
"It's all a matter of perspective... everyone is the hero of their own story, and the villain of another's." - James
  





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Lumi says...



Andy finished up his classes a bit sooner than normal, giving him a bit of bonus time to lounge out in his car with a Snickers bar and a post-consumption toothbrush. Just as he took a swig of water to clean out his mouth, his passenger door opened, and a familiar, friendly body dropped into the passenger seat, backpack thrown into the backseat.

"Cam, you know what your mom said about you getting rides from me." Andy grinned and took the young man's hand in his own, lightly brushing it with his lips.

"Yeah, Andy--not to let the bigger guys see it."

Andy frowned. "It's not...that bad, you know."

"What isn't?"

"Being out."

Cam shook his head and withdrew his hand. "I can still see the dark under your eye from where those bastards beat you last month. I don't have any interest in coming out anytime soon."

Andy nodded wordlessly and cranked the Pontiac, rolling it out of the parking lot and towards the city. As it lined up to their pattern, he and Cam would go for coffee, study in the park, and fake their way into the local gay bar--but today felt different...somehow. Cam wasn't smiling. He was irritated. He was irritated at Andy.

And it was during their study session that Cam broke a mechanical pencil, and said words that Andy, in all his glamour, had never imagined would be told to him: I Need Some Space. He stood. He gathered his things. Cam left him alone in the dusk.

~v~


His writing was way too sloppy that night, back at home. He cut down two AP papers due by the next Wednesday and tried to write up posts for Mihael, but something felt strained. He was good at writing for Mihael because their character traits were so opposite. He was a pure fantasy; but when he felt the same as Mihael, nothing would come out. He imagined Bo as one of the rednecks at school who'd beaten him in the locker room.

He imagined Bo as Cam. Mihael's hatred for the man had to grow for him to be healthy, almost as if he fed off the emotion. But Andy closed down his computer and changed into pajamas. He would feel better in the morning, he knew it. So with his lavender oil diffuser turned on, and ambient noises playing, he drifted off to fitful sleep.

When he awoke, there were chills running through his body. But Andy also felt a fever in his blood, his face, tongue? Shivering hands gripped what should've been the edges of his mattress, but were hard as rocks. His head spun. His thoughts raced.

He was goddamn starving.

Andy heard a voice from a few levels down the cliff face, and while he suspected he'd be awkward climbing down, his footfalls and agility were that of a true athlete--but as his boots crunched in snow (God, this was some freakish dream--had he been slipped a drug?) he noticed a man surrounded by a plethora of bodies, the sounds of battle not far off. The man turned around, and Andy immediately recognized him from countless drawings Amy'd sketched. Countless photo claims. Without his own consent, he began growling; his exposed chest puffing out.

"You..."

The man backed a step away. "You're here..."
I am a forest fire and an ocean, and I will burn you just as much
as I will drown everything you have inside.
-Shinji Moon


I am the property of Rydia, please return me to her ship.
  





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AliceinBluue says...



Nora Davis


“Nora, sweetheart, it’s almost 3am.” The voice seemingly came out of nowhere and Nora flinched as a hand was placed on her shoulder, her train of thought already scattering to the winds.

“I’m almost there, just two more paragraphs and I’m done,” She said, mind already turning back to how she wanted to finish her paper.

“I’ll give you twenty more minutes before I’m kicking you out for your own good,” Jenny said as she swiped the long empty coffee mug from the table. “And no more coffee.”

“Jenna!” Nora whipped around to face her friend so fast she saw little white dots dance across her vision.

“Coffee pot’s already off and our doors are locked, you don’t get to argue with me about this,” She said, pointing the coffee cup at Nora in a way that made the girl feel distinctly threatened and she rolled her eyes as she went back to her paper.

Thirty minutes later, Nora was saving the last few changes and hitting submit as Jenna flicked off the rest of the lights for the cafe. Nora quickly shut her computer and shoved it into her bag before linking arms with Jenna as they walked out into the brisk night.

“Ugh, I am going to sleep for at least three years,” Jenna said, leaning her head on Nora’s shoulder as they walked.

“Only three years?” Nora’s voice was coated with sarcasm, even as she rested her head on top of Jenna’s.

“Ehh, it was a slow day at work.” Jenna said, shrugging her shoulders as best she could from where she was leaning on Nora.

“You’re ridiculous.”

“Yup!” Nora laughed as Jenna linked their hands together and swung them back and forth. They spent the rest of their short walk across campus was spent in companionable silence.

“See you tomorrow?” Jenna asked as they came up to the intersection between their buildings.

“Nah, I gotta sleep at some point,” Nora said, turning to give the other girl a quick hug.

“Okay then, I’ll see you again when your next big paper is due,” Nora let out a sound of pure indignation as Jenna danced out of the embrace and down the sidewalk a bit.

“See you later Jen,” Nora called, her face melting back into a smile as she turned towards her building.

“Bye Nora!” Jen said from behind here and Nora raised her hand as she walked towards her building. She could feel her body starting to drag as she walked closer to the front door, but her mind was still going a mile a minute. She mused that maybe Jenna had been right in taking her coffee cup away from her when she did as she scanned her student ID card. The light turned green and she swung the door open as she heard it unlock.

The building felt abandoned this late at night as Nora moved almost silently through the hallways to her dorm room. She scanned her ID card again and let herself into her room.

The room itself was dark and Nora could just see the shape of her roommate asleep as she softly closed the door. She briefly considered turning on her bedside lamp in order to change into her pajamas, but the last time she had done that her roommate had woken up halfway through and complained about the light. So instead she turned on her phone light and changed by that light.

The dorm room was a little colder than Nora normally preferred, but as soon as she crawled into her bed and wrapped herself in her massive duvet, she started warming up. She set her alarms for the next day at the loudest setting she could before she lay down and curled up on her side.

She tried to relax enough to fall asleep, but her mind was still buzzing, jumping from one half formed idea to the next. After a few solid minutes of just laying there, Nora let out a small growl and grabbed her phone.

She flipped through her apps until she found what she was looking for and plugged in her earphones before she pushed play on the video. She let the video play as she drifted off.

~~~


Cold. That was the first thing she realized as she started to wake up. She was cold. Maybe she had kicked off her duvet during the night, but she did not remember the room being her this cold when she had changed last night. Also, her bed felt unusually hard under her back.

The illusion that she was still in her dorm room shattered when she finally opened her eyes and saw a sky above her.

Her heart jumped into her throat as she scrambled to her feet. She was in a wooded area with several other people in different stages of being awake and there were sounds of metal hitting metal some distance away.

“Oh! My! GOD! I’m-” One of the people who was awake shouted and Nora instinctively hunched down into the shadows of one of the trees as she observed the scene playing out before her.

There was a very large and scared man standing in the middle of the group of waking up people, eyes wide as he looked around. Something about the man seemed familiar, but Nora could not exactly pinpoint what it was.

Then a demon walked out from behind some of the trees across from Nora and things clicked into place with startling clarity. That was Bo standing over there and he and Mihael seemed to be engrossed in each other. Sofia was a little ways away from her, watching the potential explosion in front of them.

Nora looked down at herself and realized that she was not in her own body. This one was far more muscular than she normally was and she could feel the deadly thin knives strapped all over. The dark hair hair that was falling in her face only confirmed what Nora had already assumed. She was in May’s body, and it looked like the rest of the party was starting to stir.
  





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PrincessInk says...



Ellen Smith: From Home to Aeyis



Ellen found that walking home in the rain washed away her worries. It was wonderfully refreshing to splash among the puddles in her red rain boots, and to listen to the pitter-patter of rain as it splashed the sidewalk, the trees, and her umbrella.

That day, school was not much fun. In English class, she had had to present an oral report on the themes in Hamlet, a play that both interested and horrified her. And talking about revenge in her squeaky little voice made things worse, especially because her report included some excerpts from Hamlet. After the class, some boys mimicked the lines she had quoted.

“They are not worth your time,” her friends told her, and Ellen agreed, but the mimicking still hurt. It wasn't like she could deepen her voice, could she?

She took the longer way home. While the world around her dripped, wet and cold, Ellen was warm—in fact hot—as she stamped through the pools, thinking about the world she had role-played in for two years: Aeyis. Walking through the rain reminded her of the time Fay, Ellen's character, and her Aeyis friends had gone to battle the giant serpent residing in the lake to the south. She smiled to herself as she thought of the collision she and Kyungjin had planned: Fay's arrow would accidentally strike a ray of magic Kyungjin's character Sooho would produce, and the magic would explode and generate a gigantic wave that drenched everyone, including the snake.

Role-playing was so enjoyable. She imagined it was akin to the fun authors might have when cowriting.

Once she had reached the porch of her house, Ellen shook the drops off her umbrella and headed inside. “Home, Mom!”

“Ellen, what held you back?” her mother called from the kitchen.

Ellen removed her coat and boots and hung them up to dry before padding inside the kitchen. “Oh, I took the longer route.”

Her mother folded her laptop shut. She was a web designer who worked from home while her children were at school; once they were home, she put away her computer and became a mom again.

“Why don't you check your emails now, dear? Because...”

Ellen knew what her mother had left unsaid: her top pick college had sent out their application responses. Today would be it. She would either go in, or get rejected and have to cross her fingers that her number two top pick would accept her.

Her sister Ally entered the kitchen, yawning slightly. “Ellen! There you are. You vanished after classes ended. I wanted to ask you, did you get the results today?”

“I'll check now,” said Ellen. She had been pushing her nervousness away all day, willing herself to wait until the response landed in her email. Still, it weighed her down as she left and ascended the stairs to her bedroom. Once inside, she sat down at her laptop and clicked her way to her inbox. And, yes, there was an email from that university. She clicked it again and stared at a line: ...we regret to inform you that we cannot accept you as a student...

So that was it. Feeling strangely dry and empty, she read the rejection letter a few times and tried to shake it off with a laugh. Ally had been trying to get a short story published in the last few months, and all she received were rejections. Rejections—they're a part of life, she thought, but her heart was heavy.

Ellen logged out of her email and turned off her computer, suddenly unwilling to do anything on it—read the blogs she followed, write a post for Fay, watch some videos. Ally was waiting outside the bedroom door, and as soon as she saw her older sister's face, she reached out and hugged her. “Don't worry. There're other places. A whole world of them.”

Ellen managed to smile. “Yeah, I know.”

Her mother appeared at the floor below them. “How—oh, I'm so sorry, honey. It doesn't mean that...well, it's certainly why you applied to several colleges.”

Ellen nodded, grateful to Ally and her mother for trying to be supportive.

Ally punched her shoulder. “We know you're smart enough to get what you want from life.”

“I suppose,” said Ellen. But really? Am I good enough?

She stared out the window at the gray world beyond. The rain outside sounded like heavy iron bells clanging a mournful tune.

~v~


Later that evening, when Ellen's father returned from work, she heard her mother talking to him. Nobody brought up the rejection again, and Ellen suspected her mother had told him not to mention it. She temporarily forgot about it while they cooked and ate dinner, and washed the dishes, but once she was in her room and in her pajamas, those thoughts came back in full force.

No use sulking, Ellen, she scolded herself. What's happened has happened. No more daydreams about walking about the campus there, about wandering the halls and listening enthralled to professors discussing great literature like the Iliad, the cultural effects of Meiji Restoration. They were daydreams, after all.

She lay back against her pillows and tried to sleep, but she couldn't, not even when she counted sheep to two hundred. When she picked up A Wrinkle in Time for some light reading, her mind wandered away from Meg and Charles Wallace and Calvin. Eventually, she gave up reading and just lay down again. She thought of Aegis, and in her head, revisited all the adventures Fay and her Aeyis friends had gone on till she fell asleep.

~v~


It was with a jolt that she woke up, shivering with cold. She was lying on wet, muddy ground, her hand pressed against a tree several yards away from a swollen river. Chunks of ice and driftwood floating on the current raced downstream as fast as sleds skid down a hill. The branches above creaked as though whispering something in her ear, and without thinking, she strained to listen. Men. Blood. Blades.

Across the stream two men dueled, blades clashing in a song that stung her ears. They seemed to move in fluid motion, a graceful parry and step, then a quick thrust and step. But every action bespoke of viciousness, and the tree seemed to supply her with images of bloodshed till she cowered and took her hand off the trunk, forcing herself not to look at the men.

Around her strangers lying on the ground were stirring awake. Everything felt as familiar as an oft-visited dream, but she was unable to place how. Then, several of the strangers stood up, shaking sleep away, and all at once it hit her. They were not strangers. They, in fact, they were characters of the friends she had role-played with.

And how about herself?

She was wearing a thin cloak made of several layers of petals stitched together, and under her leaf dress was a bump the shape of a necklace. She touched the side of her face—two buns. Nestled in the branches over her were a bow and arrows. There was no doubt about it. Somehow she had ended up in Fay's body. It explained everything: the strange-yet-familiar land, her hearing the tree's thoughts, her appearance.

She stood up, snatched her bow and arrows, and drew her bow and arrow taut, ready to shoot any moment. Here could be dangerous, and Ellen—perhaps Fay—was determined to be prepared this time.
Hummingbirds, ink, and princesses


  





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Lael says...



Kyung Jin Han

"How was school?" asked Kyung Jin's mother in Korean as he slid into the passenger seat and dumped his backpack on the floor of the car.

"Fine," Kyung Jin answered shortly, in the same language. He turned his face away and stared out the window.

His mom started the car and drove away from the school, letting the silence drag out between them briefly. After they were on the road nearing their house, she said, "Has XXX University sent you an email yet?"

Jin let out a quiet sigh. "No, Umma," he replied, switching to English. "Not yet. But I already have a good number of choices."

"But it looks good for you to be accepted into many prestigious schools."

More like good for you to brag to all of your friends back home, thought Jin. He thought back to the one instance of being waitlisted by YYY University and had to fight back a wince. That didn't go over well.

They pulled into the driveway and Kyung Jin's mom parked the car in the garage. When they entered the house, Jin took his sneakers off and slipped his feet into his indoor shoes, a pair of slides. Slinging his backpack over his shoulder, he said, still in English, "I'm going to go study. I'd like to not be disturbed." Then he turned away and went upstairs.

To be perfectly honest, his mood was a result of not having the best day at school. Coach Matthews seemed quite eager to verbally abuse the entire varsity swim team today, and his English teacher, Ms. Jones, was having major mood swings, like she was having PMS or something. Later he was once again hounded by a girl who liked to gush to him about her bias from BTS (who thankfully was not the member named Jin). He hated that he was the victim of her fangirling because of his being South Korean.

Jin shut the door to his room and shook his head, sending those thoughts to the back of his mind. He tossed his backpack down by his desk and sat on his bed with his laptop to surf the Web. As he scrolled way down in his social media news feed, he paused at a certain article. 'Keith Quinn donates another...'

Wow, what a do-gooder. A small smirk appeared on his face as he studied the accompanying photo of the man. Sometimes it was still hard to believe that some random guy who was his roleplay leader was actually some famous millionaire, but it wasn't like they'd ever meet in real life, so he supposed it didn't really matter. But he was a nice guy, at least. He thought about the many times where Keith's character K, had freaked out over Jin's own character, Sooho, wandering off without notice, but in the next instance had forgiven the incident and made Sooho sit down to eat with everyone else.

"Good times," he whispered. If only they were real.

He glanced up as there was a knock on his door and realized that several hours had gone by.

"Kyung Jin, I have your dinner." His mom's muffled voice came through.

He hastily closed his laptop and hurried to open the door slightly. He accepted the tray, and his mouth watered at the sight of the bulgogi, along with rice and side dishes, which, of course, included kimchi.

A pit of guilt grew inside Jin as he remembered how he'd treated his mom earlier. He gave her a smile and said in Korean, "Thanks, Umma. I will eat it well."

He ended up only eating the meal and continuing to surf the internet instead of studying. "But there really isn't any test or quiz tomorrow," he mused, when he noticed that it was past 11 o'clock. "I've lost enough sleep in this lifetime." So he shut his laptop and got under the covers.

He stared up at the ceiling in the dark for a few minutes, random thoughts coming to mind, but almost the instant he closed his eyes, he fell asleep.

***

He woke with a start at the sound of metal clanging. He shot up into a sitting position, looking about wildly as he took in his surroundings: total wilderness.

"What--" He glanced down and froze at the white robes and the long, black hair trailing down over his shoulders and back. Then his eyes fell on the large, long shape in a cloth case beside him. When he opened the case, he sucked in a breath at the sight of an ornate gayageum within.

"Sooho?" he whispered, shivering slightly as he closed the instrument case. "I'm Sooho?" So where was the rest of the party?

Just then, there was a deep, loud shout. Jin stood and picked the gayageum up and pulled the case's strap over his shoulder. "Goodness, what was I thinking?" he muttered. "How can Sooho walk properly, holding something as big as a firetruck?" He walked through the trees cautiously, nearing the general area of the sounds.

At the first sight of a group of people on the ground, coming to their senses, for some reason Jin had an overwhelming sense of joy and felt an urge to rush into their midst. That was weird. His eyes caught sight of . . . Fay (?) with her bow drawn, eyeing what seemed to be turning into a conflict between . . . Bo and Mihael. Jin could feel himself shrinking on the inside with just one glance at the flaming creature, and it surely wasn't only any residual emotions from Sooho.

Mihael advanced on Bo, who seemed uncharacteristically flustered and afraid. Oh, goodness. Was he going to attack him?

Almost instinctively, Jin sprinted towards them, holding onto the gayageum tightly. His hair whipped around his face as he came to a stop between the two, breathing hard. But . . . now that he was here, both were staring at him.

Stupid, stupid idea. What would Sooho do?

"Please don't fight," said Jin, in a quiet voice, then fell silent, watching both their reactions. He clenched his fists in an attempt to hide how violently his hands were trembling.
In God I Trust

"as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death."
Philippians 1:20
  





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Thundahguy says...



George Vlahos


The only light in the dark dank apartment came from the TV, playing another rerun of whatever movie the channel had licensed. George sat sprawled all over the couch, munching on some old popcorn he still had. He was debating whether to switch to Netflix, but there really wasn’t anything he specifically wanted to watch.

The instant his phone rang, George picked it up. “Ray, my dude, what’s happening?” He excitedly asked, freed from his boredom for a few moments.

“How did you pick up that fast?” Ray asked.

“Just the overwhelming love I feel for my best buddy,” George laughed. “I’m stuck watching reruns of this movie. Don’t even know what it’s called.”

“Do you have any clue what it is?”

“Nope. Want to come over and binge movies. You know, Netflix and chill or whatever.”

“Without the homo?”

“I can’t promise that.”

“I’ll never know if you’re joking or not,” Ray sighed. “So, I can assume you have nothing else to do.”

“Not for today or tomorrow at least,” George noted. His boss had to attend a funeral, meaning he wouldn’t have to do anything. Chances were, however, that his boss would manage to get a job for something big, so he only had the two days to relax.

“You want to go get some Chipotle then? We were just heading there,” Ray said.

“Sure, let me just- You said ‘we’ there, didn’t you? Who’s with you?”

“I was with Angela and her friends.”

“Ah, your girl. I’m not going to intrude then.”

“If you don’t like my girlfriend, you can just say so. You know that, right?”

“It’s not that, Ray…” George muttered. His cursed his strange sort of gynophobia. It was strange, being so aware of a problem yet somehow not being able to fix it. “Whatever. If you want to hang out, then we can do that tomorrow.”

“Sorry, I got classes tomorrow,” Ray apologized.

“Ah, the entrapment of post-secondary education. You should’ve gotten out, like me!”

“I’m sorry, George, but I wasn’t recommended a trade because I kept getting low grades,” Ray snapped back. George winced a bit. “I’ll see you whenever.”

“Yeah, see you,” George said wistfully. “I got diarrhea meds if you need them.”

“I’ll keep a note of that,” Ray chuckled, before ending the call. George dropped his phone onto the floor, sighing to himself. Once again, his gynophobia had distanced himself from his friends. He didn’t know why he hadn’t told them about his gynophobia, but it had become impossible at this point. With more and more of them getting into relationships, he knew he’d get isolated if he continued to struggle like this.

His eyes started to flutter as the sounds of the TV began to blur. The final thing he could make out from the rerun was Matt Damon shouting “Matt Damon!” a few times. George chuckled. He still had no clue what movie it was. It was his last thought, before he fell asleep, popcorn falling onto his lap.

~

George’s eyes flickered open, at the sight of ice jutting out of a stream. Strange. He didn’t think he was watching a nature channel before. He struggled to get up, only for his hands to slip and faceplant in the mud. He wasn’t in his apartment.

Christ, where the hell am I? George thought, wiping the mud from his face. It was then he realized his arms were bright red. Surprised, he recoiled, slipping in the mud once again. He gazed at his arms again. Bright red, warm, oddly manicured hands.

A few locks of red entered his vision, surprising him again. He never died his hair. Even if he did, it never would have been red. Blue suited him better. Eyeing the river, he crawled towards it.

The face in his reflection was not George’s. It wasn’t even the correct gender! Red and black hair framed the red-skinned mature woman’s face looking back at him. His gynophobia acted up, and he leapt back from the stream.

His arms began to feel strange. He looked down, realizing they were growing. They ballooned to three times their size, and his fingernails sharpened to the point that they could probably pop them.

Calm down, George. Calm down, George repeated to himself, trying to make sense of the situation. His arms and hands shrunk back to their original size as they scratched his head, feeling his strange new brimstone hair. He had almost figured everything out, but he needed a little more evidence to confirm his fears. Reluctantly, he looked down.

Instead of his regular body, dirty from a long work day, he saw a woman’s. One not particularly developed, to say the least, but a woman’s nonetheless. It glowed softly like magma. Strange markings etched into the skin covered the privates, though George doubted if it even had them to begin with.

His suspicions now confirmed, he collapsed, falling to the ground with his hands and legs spread. He had become a woman. And he was starting to have a sneaking suspicion of who specifically he became.

The sound of metal striking metal rung in his ears, and he hesitantly turned around. Two men, both enclasped in armour, fought each other with steel weapons. It was a graceful fight, both striking blow for blow. George quickly realized, based on their skill and the sense of bloodlust, that it was perhaps not just a simple reenactment.

Others filled his vision along with the two. Two men, both pretty much George’s type, faced against each other while a third Asian man with a guitar without the body stood between the two. In a nearby tree, a tiny elf had her bow drawn. A girl in black with a bunch of knives and a what looked like a priest sat up. An angel-looking creature laid opposite to George. This was also the first time George had noticed a small purple puffball dressed like a pirate flew through the air, landing next to the Asian man.

Right. This is going to be fun, George thought, before falling into the mud once again.
Last edited by Thundahguy on Mon Apr 23, 2018 9:22 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Tortwag says...



Neil – Pawns & paws


In the darkness of his closed room, Neil couldn’t help but sing along the mustached plumber clad in green as he walked his way through the scary manor as an improvised Ghost Buster. The main theme of Luigi’s Mansion looped for the fourth time, and Neil took that chance to put his controller on the side of his giant revolving chair, turning said chair towards another computer screen. He frowned as he realized that the Hylians had successfully completed an alliance with the Gorons, then smiled as he saw that his own alliance with the Fairies of the Lake had been accepted as well. A few clicks later, he ordered his side – The Zora Dominion, his preferred choice in Hyrule: Total War – to create two more training facilities for cavalry. It was growing stronger by the second.

M-Mario…?” Luigi called from within his own screen.

Neil jerked his head back to it and picked up his controller: a ghost has been singing alongside Luigi for a few seconds now, which means that it was near. Very near.

“Hmm...!” Cadence, Neil’s sister, exclaimed from her spot in an excited voice. “I don’t know what to do!”

Neil took a second to glance at her: she was lost in intense concentration in front of her playing mat, gazing at both her field and the Yu-Gi-Ohcards in her hand with uncertainty. Neil couldn’t help but chuckle as he looked at his own field: two cards face down in the Spell/Trap card zone, one Battle Ox in the Monster card zone, and three more cards on the table next to one of his computers. He knew exactly what he’d do, but he doubted Cadence was yet good enough to expect anything.
She was extra adorable when lost in thought, however.

“Come now, I’m sure you can figure something out.” Neil encouraged. “Your deck’s gotten a bit stronger since last time, right?”

“Yeah, but you’re still way stronger than me!”

“That’s fine – you don’t learn without losses, right?”

“That makes me even more worried!”

Neil giggled as Luigi began to suck up another bunch of ghosts thanks to his vacuum cleaner – the Poltergust 3000.Three down. One more and the path should be clear. “Well, I suppose you ought to be.” he glanced at his other screen. Hmm, The Gorons were asking for his Zora Dominion to surrender as their vassals. They were getting bolder.

“I summon Insect Knight in Attack Mode!” Cadence exclaimed as she played her card. “It’s got one thousand and nine hundred Attack Points, but your Battle Ox only got one thousand and seven hundred. So, I’ll attack it!”

“A good card,” Neil commented, satisfied to see the Dark Hallways of Luigi's Mansion lit up to signify the lack of any more ghosts in the area. “I activate my trap card: Compulsory Evacuation Device! It’s the last one on your left.”

“Oh, not that again...” Cadence sighed as she revealed the card. “My Insect Knight goes back to my hand, right?”

“Indeed!”

“Hrrm… Well, guess it’s your turn. I’ll put this card face down on the field, though.”

“Magic or Trap, right?”

“Yeah. Oh, here’s yours to draw, by the way.”

Neil took the card from his sister’s hand. “I reveal my second card: DNA Surgery!”

Cadence frowned as she flipped the card for her brother. “...I don’t know that one.”

“This card allows me to declare a type of my choice. After I do so, all the monsters on the field will become that type as long as DNA Surgery remains on the field.”

Cadence’s frown deepened as she tried to figure out how this would help Neil, while the latter gave her a few seconds to think as he prepared his Zora Dominion for taking a Goron fort, and letting Luigi reach the save point of the game. The poor plumber had had enough for today.

“Now, I activate this card from my hand: Scapegoat.”

“Okay...” Cadence muttered to herself. “Magic card summons four super weak tokens on the field… But he can’t sacrifice them, so, that can’t be it… Ritual Summoning, maybe?”

Neil giggled. “Close. I activate my other magic card.” Neil finally turned his revolving towards Cadence, giving her the satisfied smile of those who enjoyed a plan well done. “Polymerization.”

Cadence’s eyes immediately widened. “What?!” she exclaimed. “But there’s nothing to fuse! You can’t summon F.G.D. yet unless you have–” Cadence interrupted herself, jerking her head towards Neil’s field. Four Scapegoats. One battle Ox. One DNA Surgery.
...Five dragons.

“…Oooh…!”

“As you’ve just guessed, Caddy,” Neil interrupted gently as he played a new card on the field, “I am fusing all five of my forcefully made Dragon monsters to Fusion Summon the Five-Headed Dragon.”

“He-e-ey!” Cadence protested. “I thought we’d agreed you’d always call it by its original name!”

“Because Five God Dragon is definitely cooler, yeah,” Neil admitted. “Sorry. So! F.G.D.’s here, and you’ve got no monsters on the field.” he glanced at his sister. She looked back in silence, trying her best to keep a neutral expression.

“Mm. So, Mirror Force, then.” Neil guessed.

“You don’t know that.”

Neil and Cadence kept on staring at each other. If the one card she had left on her field was a trap, he would regret it. But if she was bluffing, he’d give her some momentum. And he had no more resources to properly protect his F.G.D. They both remained motionless, with that single thought in mind. The two computer screens suddenly appeared like two projectors aimed at them, at their field, at their own, special moment.

Boop!

The brief, bubble-like noise sounded like a thunderstorm in the silence of their intensity, and it took Neil a real effort to tear himself away from the moment and check who had come online. The annoyed frown on his face was immediately replaced by a bright smile. “It’s Matt!” he exclaimed.

“Well tell Matt he’s a jerk!” Cadence exclaimed as Neil closed Hyrule Total War and Luigi’s Mansion to focus on his friend. He launched a Skype call, and waited, head resting on his crossed hands until his friend began talking.

“...oh. Um… Hi?” Mattathias began in a shaky tone. “Um… Why d’you put your webcam on, N?”

“Because when I want to see a friend’s face, sweetheart, I’d rather make it fair and offer mine for a good trade.” Neil winked. “Oh, and Cadence says you’re a jerk since you just interrupted an awesome Yu-Gi-Oh duel.”

“Ah, sorry.” Mattahias excused himself. “...Wait, why am I apologizing? You’re the one who ambushed me!”

Neil chuckled. “‘Ambushed.’ he repeated. “I like the sound of that. But let’s get back to chit-chatting, shall we? You,” Neil continued, pointing at the blank image of his friend’s non-existent avatar, “should feel trapped. Because I’m almost halfway through Luigi’s Mansion.”

Neil could easily imagine the wonderful image of Mattahias’ eyes widening in surprise. “Wait… What?” Mattathias exclaimed. “But it’s been three days! Don’t you have any homework?”

“Multi-tasking is kinda my thing, silly-billy.” Neil countered with a mischievous smile. “And your thing is soon to become that wonderful furball plush we’re gonna buy for you when I’m done with this game. I told you: you can't win this bet.”

“...Well, you haven’t won yet, so, maybe I won’t have to buy anything. The game isn’t that easy.”

“True, true. Nothing’s said in stone.” a chuckle. “Just, well, very very likely.”

“Stop that.”

“Never. Can you imagine if I asked you to drop your sweet, sweet British accent?”

“Won’t it naturally just… go, after a few years?”

“I’m fairly certain that depends on you, but I meant to say that you can’t just make it go on command.” Neil grinned. “And see, I love my quirks too much to let them go.” he slightly approached the screen. “Silly-billy sweetheart.”

“Argh, stop!”

Neil allowed himself a good laugh, soon to be joined by his friend’s. “Sorry, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t tease you so much. How’s your day so far?”

“Oh, fine. I was almost late in class, but aside that, nothing exciting to report. I’m just surviving until we get to our next roleplay session with the rest of the crew.”

“Don’t you mean ‘cavalry’?”

“N, we’ve been over this: Tracer’s British accent is great, but exaggerated – also, you just said you wouldn’t tease me more!”

“I’m a liar or you’re gullible: pick one!”

“You’re a liar.”

“He is!” Cadence suddenly intervened in the background.

“Ah, family’s verdict has been given,” Neil commented. “I am found guilty. But still, I’m happy you’re looking for the next session – since I, too, am looking for that.” he chuckled. “I’ve added a little something for Andetto’s personal quest, and I can’t wait to use it.”

“Oh. What is it?”

“A Draconian form!”

“Wow! You too? Is… Is it because I–”

Please, Matt, I wouldn’t sink that low just to tease you."

"O-oh. Right."

"No, I had planned to add a Draconian form-changing spell for quite some time. We’re pretty free in terms of abilities, with this RP, so, I’m fully experimenting with Andetto’s spell-book. Most of it is about summoning and body alterations, so, there’s a big one I need to test that’s based on dragons.”

“Nerezzar will mock that, though.”

Neil smirked. “Not when he sees what it leads to, whenever it happens, but sure! I’d be disappointed if he didn’t. Now, then! Let’s go to bed, shall we? Class begins again tomorrow, so, I’d prefer being ready for it. Thanks for the talk, though!”

“Yeah! Thank you for calling.”

“My pleasure. Sleep tight, Matt! And start planning for your future furball’s size, ‘cause you’re not escaping a supermarket adventure with me.”

“We’ll… We’ll see. Bye.”

“G’night!”

Mattathias dropped the call, and Neil turned back, finally getting up from his chair. “Alright, Caddy! I’m done. What time is it?”

Cadence pointed at the windows. Neil followed her finger, frowning. “I… didn’t even notice you opened them.”

“That’s because it’s already dark outside, Bro,” Cadence said. She fell silent, putting an uneasy hand through the thick, long black hair that stopped below her shoulders. “...Think Satchel’s okay?” she said in a worried tone.

Neil swiftly walked towards her and knelt, putting his hands on her shoulders. “Of course he will be. He’s just going through a lot of pressure right now.”

“But he… He wasn’t so silent before?”

“Sat’s just working a lot, Caddy. University is tough. Real tough. Let him be for a bit, okay? We have to make sure he understands that we’re here for him.”

“But can’t I just… sleep here? You’re the only one who ever plays with me anymore.” Cadence looked at the ground and continued in a whisper. “I don’t mind Satchel but you’re like Mom, to me.”

Neil giggled and pulled Cadence into a hug. “What’s wrong with Dad?”

“…Um… You’re… Mom-like?”

“That’s interesting. I’ll try to stay that for ya. But in the meantime, go back to your room and enjoy Sat’s company, okay?” Neil broke the hug and let a bright smile decorate his face. “It’s all temporary.”

“Okay. ‘Night.”

Neil watched Cadence leaving his room as slowly as she would, suddenly feeling very tired. He gazed at the abandoned decks on the floor and looked at her field’s face-down card.

Mirror Force.

Grinning, he then looked at her hand. Doom Dozer: a monster with two thousand and eight hundred attack points that could be Special Summoned directly from the hand if she had two more Insect monsters in her graveyard. Then she could simply Normal Summon her Insect Knight again and attack, for a total of four thousand and seven hundred damage - just three hundred lower than his own F.G.D. Had Neil attacked, he could’ve lost about as easily as he had taken his overwhelming advantage.
Cadence had grown into a wonderful liar.
With that thought in mind, Neil rose from the ground and let himself fall on his bed, letting out a sigh. A wonderful liar, but still a flawed one. It had been two years since she had stopped calling Satchel “Big Bro”.

I don’t mind Satchel. “Yes, yes you do, Caddy,” Neil whispered to himself, closing his eyes as he wondered how to cure the poor girl’s pain.


Image



Neil opened his eyes once more, and frowned – he didn’t remember falling asleep. Darn it, he hadn’t even brushed his teeth – that was seriously careless of him. Oh, well, he’ll just have to take twice as much time in the morning. With that in mind, attempted to rise from his bed, until he noticed that he wasn’t in his bed, that his feet were short, and that he had been sleeping upright, standing on a large tree’s branch. Blinking, Neil also noticed that his left eye, though active and well, was hidden by an eye patch.

“...Wha–” Neil interrupted his own sentence. His voice was grave, had lost its typical constant singing note, and the mouth itself was huge – not to mention he could feel giant teeth inside of it.

Okay. Okay, okay. So, I’m Andetto. Neil thought to himself. He closed his eyes and took several inspirations, focusing on the air coming in and out from his lungs. What should he do? What would anyone in his place do? This wasn’t a realistic situation. So, he’d need an example that wasn’t realistic. From a cartoon, maybe? An Anime? Yes… yes, he recalled something. Kabuto – a character from the Naruto series. Cadence had shown him an episode in which an opponent he faced switched the nervous control of each of his body parts controlled by his brain: seconds later, he could already move again, having understood which body part was wired to which nerve at lightning speed.

Yeah… Like testing buttons. Neil, or rather Andetto, began to move. First, the tiny feet below his fluffy body: monstrous, they were, with their dark greenish shade, as well as giant claws. But as he tried to jump, he realized that they were amazingly muscular, allowing him to jump with ease. Same for the hands – clawed, massive, barely outside of his body, but very mobile, still. Gradually, a tooth-filled smile appeared on Andetto’s face. He could get used to that agility of his.

“Please, stop fighting...”

Andetto looked down, finally noticing a diverse group of people below him. Ah, of course. If he was Andetto, then his other friends had potentially followed the same fate and became their own characters. He frowned as he saw Sooho standing in front of Mihael and Bo, both of which seemed very close to fight.

Well. I always was good for diversions, wasn’t I? Andetto extended one of his clawed hand, and a green book decorated with a black feather came into his hand with a cloud of smoke. As a blue light appeared around the book, Andetto leaped from his spot and performed a fancy front flip before landing right next to Sooho, surprising both him and the two others.

“Hey, my people.” Andetto began in a singing tone, making sure to smile without showing off his teeth – not that he could hide the golden fangs coming out of his mouth, then again. “So, I’m not sure what’s going on, but from my tree, it looked like you were about to fight like these two over yonder? Just making sure we don’t have one more casualty for it, yeah? Don’t worry if you’re hungry for that kind of dish, though...” five fur balls suddenly fell down to the ground, having been summoned right above Andetto. They formed a little pyramid with their bodies, and Andetto jumped back, performed a backflip – he really started to enjoy his new body – and landed atop the said pyramid, chuckling cheerfully. “...’Cause I brought snacks!”
"Is there a limit to how much living I can live with my life? How will I know if I've gone too far?
And why did I spend my life savings on sunglasses for a whale?
I shall find the answer... to these questions."
  





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FalconerGal9086 says...



Mattathias Jermaine



His pencil danced across the page, a face taking shape on the notebook. A sweep of a line here, some shading there, a darkening of this shape or that. The lined paper becomes a scaly draconic head, slit-pupilled eyes cold and a smile dancing across his face in a small smile to reveal the long, slender fangs. Two ivory horns jutted out behind his skull and under it the pommel of a weapon was visible on his back.

Someone touched his shoulder. Matt jumped involuntarily, turning to see the face of his teacher behind him. She adjusted her glasses and righted herself.

"The class is dismissed, Mattathias," she told him. Sure enough, the desks around the boy were empty.

"Oh, sorry, Ms. Davidson," he said, grabbing his papers and shoving them into his backpack with haste.

"What were you drawing today?" she asked, gazing down at his paper.

"Uh, just a dragon," he answers, standing and pushing his chair in to his desk. "Have a nice evening. Sorry to hold things up."

"Not at all," she answered with a small smile. "I'll see you tomorrow, Matt."

He nodded and returned the smile before hurrying out of the classroom.

~*^*~


The walk home was only about fifteen minutes, so soon enough he was back in his room on his bed. His father wasn't home yet - still at work - so he had the evening to himself. He wandered over to his computer and logged onto World of Warcraft, selecting his character - level 96 Worgen Death Knight. It'd been a while since he'd used it, but he was ready for a change from his main character. There was a little voice in the back of his mind telling him how he should be doing his homework, but he ignored it; he'd get to it in an hour or two when he ate dinner. It's not like he has that much, anyways, since he got most of it out of the way during class.

A few raids later, Matt decided he'd go online to Skype and see if Neil was around. WoW was fun, but he'd give it up in an instant if it meant some time with his best friend. Before he even had time to register the fact that yes, he was indeed online, his computer made a popping noise at him, informing him that there was a call from none other than Neil himself. He smiled and accepted it - then, unexpectedly, Neil's face appeared on his screen.

"O-oh. Um...hi," he started, awkwardly. He could feel his face begging to flush as he stumbled over his words, frustratingly tongue-tied in the presence of his friend. "Uh...Why'd you put your webcam on, N?" he finally decided to ask after a slightly uncomfortable silence. He mentally kicked himself for being so flustered; did he have to make himself sound like a complete idiot?

“Because when I want to see a friend’s face, sweetheart, I’d rather make it fair and offer mine for a good trade.” He winked in a charming fashion, voice lilting in his unique, singsong way. “Oh, and Cadence says you’re a jerk since you just interrupted an awesome Yu-Gi-Oh duel.”

“Ah, sorry," he said, still a bit flustered. “...Wait, why am I apologizing?" he amended, realizing that he hadn't even started the conversation. "You’re the one who ambushed me!”

The conversation continued in their usual, casual manner, supplemented with some lighthearted banter and the surprising news that Matt was almost undoubtedly losing their bet and would have to buy a stuffed fluff ball before long. All too soon Neil had to leave for bed, leaving Matt gazing at his blank computer screen again. He sighed and shut it off, grabbing his backpack and getting started on his homework.

He found his thoughts drifting back to Neil before long. His impish smile, the odd-yet-appealing lilt of his voice, the glint in his eye when he proudly proclaimed that he was already halfway through Luigi's Mansion. He was the first one of the roleplay group Matt had met, and his first friend since he'd moved. Since it was long-distance anyways they'd been able to keep in touch, so he meant a lot to Mattathias. He still wasn't quite sure exactly what had drawn him to Neil in the first place, but he was glad for it: he didn't know what he'd do without his friend. He'd certainly be far more lonely.

That was the last of his drifting mind before he fell into unconsciousness on his math textbook.

~*^*~


He rolled over, annoyed in his half-sleep by the uncomfortable sensation of a stick poking into his cheek. There was a small but sharp jab of pain as he moved on his..back? Shoulder?

Matt jerked to wakefulness, sitting up abruptly and jerking away from whatever it was that had just poked him in such an offensive fashion. Wind generated from the movement blew snow across the dark, icy ground.

Moving his...back? There's snow? Ice, even? He leaps to his feet, making a startled exclamation that comes out as a low, grumbling yelping noise instead of the surprised yip he expected. He reels back and nearly trips himself on a rock, flapping wildly to regain his balance before he completely falls over.

....Flapping...?

His eyes widen as he glances behind him to catch sight of a very large, scaly, reddish wing, the membranes almost luminescent in the dim light reflected off the snow. He looks down at himself only to realize that his wings aren't the only thing that are deep scarlet and plated in lizard-like scales: his arms, legs, even his hands and feet are, too. Talons extend from his fingers in a manner reminiscient of a bird of prey. He touches his face only to realize that he now has a snout that merges into a large-browed face complete with horns extending from the back of his head.

This form...it's familiar, almost as much as his own, but not...not like this.

"N-N-Nerezzar?" he stammered, his voice once more coming out far more gravelly than it should be.

As he speaks, the metallic clanging of metal on metal reaches his ears and he looks up to realize that he's woken up in the middle of what appears to be a sword fight. Two figures battle nearby, but, more immediately, he realizes he's not alone - he begins to recognize the characters around him - Sophia, Bo, May, Fay, Sooho, Mihael, and Andetto.


The first thing he notices is the origin of the clanging: swords are crossed between anonymous figures, the two of them fighting in the snow. Sooho is getting dangerously close to the combat as he tries to calm the two, and, next to him, is a purple fluffball on top of five other purple fluffballs with an eyepatch: Andetto. Or, more accurately, Neil.

He starts to try to say something but finds himself too surprised to get any actual words out, instead only managing some incoherent noises. They were, however, more than enough for Andetto to turn back and stare down at him from the top of his improvised pyramid of minions.
Which would be fine, if said minions hadn't turned back at the exact same, scary second.

"Oh, hey." Andetto said in a chuckle. "A scaly sweetheart appears," he looked down at his minions. "Still no smiling, boys. We know he doesn't like that."

He opens and closes his mouth a few times, unable to figure out an intelligible response. "Uh...I...you...Andetto...er...I mean....Neil?"

A light smirk appeared on Andetto's face. "I'd tease you, but let's not break character, shall we?" A stern movement from his head followed. "First, let's figure out what's going on." Andetto's smile disappeared immediately as he looked at the fighters in the distance. "...And especially," he continued in a serious tone, "what's going on with them."

"Ch-character? O-oh! Right! Character!" it's the closest thing to a real sentence he’s managed since appearing. “And fighting. Yeah. Um…" His voice trails off as he gazes in shock at the fighters before he jerks out of it, glancing towards Neil/Andetto. He feels himself calm down a little bit, his friend's confidence offering the security he needs. His mind races, overthinking the half-cooked ideas for what could be happening and leaping from one to another before the first is even complete. He finds himself stammering incoherently again, his brain moving too quickly for the rest of him to keep up. Finally he cuts himself off abruptly, his gaze moving back to Neil. He takes a breath, slowing himself enough to reason: these aren't characters they recognize, so, odds are, they are NPCs. If that's the case, they're likely there to keep the plot moving, especially in the beginning of the story like this - ideally, they need to break this up to figure out what's going on.

Mattathias - or Nerezzar, he's not sure which, because his own actions surprise himself - steps forward, tail snapping out to hit the fighter closest with the intention of grabbing his attention; in his mind, it's going to be the fastest and most efficient way of bringing their combat to a close.
"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed." - Ernest Hemmingway

"A professional writer is an amateur who didn't quit." - Richard Bach
  





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Saen says...



Spoiler! :
I̵̞̪̲̙̋̉̚ ̸͎̺͙̬̔́́w̵̛̞̰ỉ̴͚̰s̶̫͋̍h̶̼̦̟̮̩͗́̅ ̵̨̔̓̌̐͊I̵̛͉ ̸̗̺̖̖̇̃̽̌ͅc̷̛̯̃͆͠o̶̝͇̲̍̏̕u̴͎̣̪̽̽̅̆͗l̴̻͎͍̫͛̾͜d̵̢̠̗̤̫̾͗͝ ̴̳̞͕͆̚͘ṭ̷̢͍͇̾ę̴̯͈̲̠̍̔̐͋l̵̡̤͎̲̀͐͐͋l̸̘̿͒̏̌ ̶̟̮̱̝̺͆͆̂̅y̴͍̓̋̽̇ͅo̵͇͕̽͂u̴͎͉̙̥̼͛͋̕ ̵̙̬͗̆͆̅ṱ̸̲̘̪͉̐ẖ̵̓͋̍̏̈́ȩ̵̣͓̀ ̸̨͙̺͓̊̓ͅt̷͇̲͆̉͋̉͝r̴͕̺͕̓̔̅̃͌ṵ̷͔̫̠̽̋̈́͆͘ṭ̸̠̾̃̄h̴̛͔̦͎̏͒̍͑.̸̛̜̎
̴̧͗͜
̵͖͈̳̜̤͒̒B̵̳̜͇̃͒̔̍u̶̖̺͚̇̿͐̈t̵̛̟̞̘͖̉̿ ̷͔̊͗̓̏y̴͛̃̔͜͝ǫ̴̱̥̾̒̀͝ū̶͕̘̍̈́'̶̳̮̜̓̈́͋̒̃d̶̼͇̞͉̰́̎̄̉͑ ̷̘̻̗͆̀n̶̞̜̎͒́̍̆ě̴̻̱͔̒́v̵̧̫̥̭͛͊ĕ̶̂͜͝ŗ̵̻̖̽̔ ̶̠͆̇͋͂̚ͅb̸̡̧̘́̔ͅe̷͉͍̳͔̗͑̅̈̊l̸̪̜͉͛̇i̷̠̘͋͜ḙ̷̎̆͜͜͝v̵̩̇̚e̶̹̎͜ ̶̳͖̹͍̃ͅm̷̪͓̪̫̻̈́͝e̸͉͊̓͠.̵̡̥̫̞̓̍̀̏͘

[Redacted]

He narrowly deflected the sudden jab of his opponent's sword with a quick raising of his halberd, but there was a noticeable dent in its metal staff. It was too difficult to dodge in a place like this; the ice he was standing on was uneven, and he would surely lose his balance in these stupid high heel boots he had gotten. But if he returned to the safety of the shore, his quarry would undoubtedly escape. The thief had already been trying to do that. Give him an opportunity, and he'd surely take it.

Another offensive maneuver. He went to deflect the attack for a second time, but a pillar of ice suddenly shot up from the ground and sent him flying back. He rolled across the incredibly cold ice. Jagged edges dug into his sides – he would have bruises for weeks.

“Of course he has ice magic,” he muttered. “Of course!”

The thief smirked. The jerk.

He hoisted himself back up to his feet and eyed the man with a nervous look. He was uneasy, but that was natural in a battle. This look was meant to be over exaggerated and dramatic; his opponent knew little of who he was up against. He had his own tricks up his sleeve, and he would play them as the need arose.

He took a step back. Readied his halberd. The man grinned, the attack seemingly quite predictable. But just as the man raised his sword in defense, he was bombarded by countless vines that shot out of the ground.

“Sorry,” the mercenary apologized with a grin of his own as the vines wrapped around the man, “but you're not the only magical one here.”

The thief struggled against his bonds. When he realized he was unable to break free, he turned to an alternative approach. “What share of it do you want?” he questioned. He continued to struggle, but there was a calculating glint to his eyes. “That's why you caught me, isn't it? To get a share of the goods? A shady guy like you must want at least some of it – you should see some of the stuff that I've gotten from that shop-”

The thief started to make a choking noise; it was dramatic, though certainly reasonable. After all, the vines had just tightened around him and were pushing the air out of his lungs. It wasn't enough to kill him, but just enough to make him regret what he had done. The mercenary kept his face neutral. It was an incredibly difficult feat to manage when the thief had a look like that on his face, but it still had the desired effect.

“I don't like thieves,” he simply said.

Then he turned around and started to walk away. He managed to keep the neutral expression for a few more minutes before laughter started to escape him. Riken had done it for as long as he had known the shadow, but if it was on his skin and needed to get his attention, it had a tendency to tickle.

And he was very ticklish.

It was odd, though – Riken rarely stayed on one side, but the movement it had just made was the first one from the entire battle. And, in both cases, it was on the side of his face closest to the forest. He eyed the trees bordering the river with curiosity. Riken must have noticed something in there while he was fighting. What could it possibly be?

He glanced back at the thief. He wouldn't be getting out anytime soon. He could spare a few minutes to investigating whatever Riken had picked up on. He carefully maneuvered his way across the uneven platforms of ice, only stumbling one time. Then he was among the shadows of the trees. He went the longer way around them, following the border of the treeline rather than go straight into it. He would rather avoid a potential threat than get brought into another battle because he had been careless. He pulled up the cloth hanging around his neck; it effectively covered the lower half of his face. He adjusted his hood as Riken impatiently drifted from one side to the other.

He came to an abrupt stop underneath an old, gnarled tree that towered above him. He had finally seen what Riken had been directing him towards all this time – a group of people that looked somewhat familiar to him. It was only when he stared at them for a good minute that it clicked.

These were the people who he was looking for.

“Riken,” he whispered, “I think it's best if we separate. I've changed so much since our last meeting. If you're covering part of my face, I think they might not recognize me.”

The eldritch monstrosity formed at his side. Casting a brief glance towards the mostly silent group, it expectantly held out its hands. Confusion flickered across his face at the gesture. Giving what suspiciously sounded like a sigh, it took a step forward and started digging through his clothes. It withdrew a seemingly simple piece of rope from the depths of his belt pouches. Then it gave him what he guessed was meant to be a reassuring grin before heading back towards the thief.

He turned his attention back to the group.

Taking a deep breath, he stepped out from the shadows.

Chaos immediately broke out. One or two fumbled for their weapons. Some straight out screamed. And Bo and Mihael continued to glare daggers at each other, unsurprisingly on the verge of another fight. He looked at this with an incredulous sort of disbelief. Here was a group of warriors that had been through all sorts of battles. He wasn't sure what type of reaction he had expected, but it certainly was something like this.

“Hello,” he said. He kept his voice deep and ominous. Bo spared a brief glance in his direction, only to immediately return to glaring at the demon across from him. And the few that hadn't grabbed their weapons already hurriedly did exactly that. But something didn't sit right – they weren't supposed to be like this! Even Bo seemed nervous when he looked at Mihael, and Bo was never nervous. At least, not in a situation like this.

“Have you all forgotten my face?” he asked, his halberd glinting in the light of the dying sun. “The last time you saw me, you left me for dead.”

There it was again: that look of terror that just didn't fit with what he knew of them. They were horrified by what he had said. Why had that cliché, over dramatic line inspired so much fear? He looked for their leader – the only one he truly needed to talk to – but he couldn't find him.

“Where is the priest?” he inquired. When he received blank looks from the majority of the adventurers, he elaborated, “Where is K?”

An awkward moment of silence passed. They all glanced around the nearby forest for their missing leader – even Bo and Mihael momentarily halted what he perceived to be an intense staring match to look for him. But he remained stubbornly elusive, and the mercenary found himself growing more and more dejected.

“Who are you?” someone asked from nearby; Sofia, if he went by the wings. It was hard to determine who was who when things were like this.

Violet eyes peered out from underneath his hood. “Arawn.”

“Y-You died,” Sooho stuttered, staring at him with wide eyes. He clutched his gayageum close to his chest. “You were killed during the expedition into the shrine a year ago.”

“I was,” he confirmed, adding a slight nod of his head. He had survived the encounter thanks to Riken, but pretending that he had perished was far more fitting. He scanned their faces. The longer he studied their reactions, the more perplexed he became. None were happy to see him – they all were oddly terrified. He always acted like this. Why would they suddenly fear him?

Whatever the case was, he had other matters to attend to. K was missing. K, the one he needed the most. He would have to make do with another member of the group, but who could possibly help him now? None were as wealthy or as old.

“I require...assistance from one of you,” he hesitantly started. This had never been part of the plan. “I must pass on a message to the gods of my people, and I need one of you to be their ears. K is more in tune with them than the likes of you, but he is not here.”

No one stepped forward.

He groaned. “One of you must be willing to assist me.”

They all stubbornly stayed where they were. Bo and Mihael returned to staring at each other, but oddly refrained from attacking each other. The battle between them would be inevitable; it was just a matter of when it would happen. Suddenly quite certain of whose help he needed, he raised a finger and pointed at Bo.

“You,” he said.

“M-me?”

“You are the one I'm pointing to,” he confirmed. When Bo refused to come over, he marched over to him and grabbed the giant of the man by his arm. He tried to get him to move, but Bo was strong and heavy. He awkwardly tried to pull him for another minute before – blushing in embarrassment underneath his mask – he gestured at the tree he had just been standing under.

Bo reluctantly followed him over.

“So what exactly do I have to do?” the man nervously asked, glancing back at the oddly silent and unmoving group he had just left. When they realized they were being watched, the group of adventurers collectively began to look at other things.

He held up a finger to his lips. “Listen. I will speak the necessary words.” He started to spout random gibberish. He hoped it sounded convincing; it would have been far easier to pull the wool over his eyes than Bo's.

He placed his hands on Bo's shoulders, a feat barely made possible by his high heeled boots. “Amy, you must listen to me. I do not know how this message is being received – I suspect it is by words magically appearing before. But however you may be getting this, you must help me. I am trapped here. Keith is the only one who can help me. He has the power and resources to-”

Bo was staring at him.

Why is he giving me that look?

“Ar-Arthur?” Bo stammered.

He slowly nodded.

“You're trapped here, too? But you haven't been a part of the roleplay for nearly a year!”

He looked wildly from Bo to the others. He had suspected that it had been that long, but for a comment like that be uttered with such a genuine look on the man's face...

“Amy?” he said, his voice small and quiet.

“Bo” nodded. “I just woke up like this-Arthur, where are you going?”

His movements were slow and mechanical. No, no, no. This couldn't be happening. He was supposed to be the exception, the only one who ended up as his character. Not the others. To live like he had wasn't living at all; even Riken hadn't known the truth about him. And if they were trapped here, who could possibly help him now?

He walked over to Mihael. “Andy?”

Eyes widened in shock. But before he could say anything, Arthur was already going to the others. Saying their names, the names that only belonged to the roleplayer and not the character. Someone finally found the strength to speak – George.

“You're Arthur,” he said, “and not Arawn.”

“You haven't been a part of the roleplay for a year,” a small voice piped up from below; his heart sank down to his feet when he realized it was Neil. “How are you here?”

He looked over at all of them.

This is where I've been for the past year.”
"I have the magicky too. You're probably thinking, 'How the heckie does he have the magicky?'" -soundofmind, as Bo
  





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soundofmind says...



Amy Brooks


"What?!" Amy shouted. But she didn't mean to shout. Her deep voice echoed through the trees as it hit her: if Arthur had been stuck here for a year, did that mean he was stuck here forever? Did that mean they were stuck there too for years or more? Did this mean they couldn't get out? Amy could feel her heart palpitating in her chest. All of them were trapped here? She looked around at the others, trying to imagine her friends behind the faces of the characters - still reeling over seeing the characters in the flesh, instead of just two dimensional drawings or just imagined in her head.

She wasn't the only one panicking. Everyone looked equally worried, and everyone was in varying states of confusion.

"Okay, okay! Just -" Arthur's hand touched her arm again, as if that was going to help.

"Let me just-" He took in a deep breath. "Explain," he said, looking to the others and motioning with his hands as if to silence them before he was bombarded with questions. As he took in a deep breath, the tension in the air seemed to release by just a fraction. Everyone looked at him expectantly.

"I woke up here a year ago in Arawn's body. I mean, you all remember me leaving the rp, but basically, all I wanted to do was kill off Arawn because he was super cliche and I wanted a new character. I talked it through with Keith, he gave me the go ahead, and we arranged for Arawn to be killed off at a shrine - to sort of, honor the deity there. Lots of treasure and stuff. So when Arawn was killed off I thought that would be the last of it. But then... then this happened." He gestured to himself.

"Turns out the deity of the shrine saw that Arawn was dying and decided to help him with one of the treasures... and somehow when Arawn came back to life I ended up in his body. And the deity, named Riken, was there. And I was so confused, I didn't even know what was going on. I - I ended up telling Riken my true name! I mean, uh, my real name. Arthur. But by some miracle I was able to play it off as my 'true name' like in fairy lore and... Riken bought it. But yeah, Riken wanted to leave with me and so that's what we did. Riken's been with me since, but it's not with me right now because I told it specifically that I needed to talk to you guys alone."

Amy stared at Arthur with wide, doe eyes. Or eye. She only had one. Which was still tripping her out. She couldn't see anything in her peripheral vision on her left side, and it was messing with everything. This was going to make her dizzy - well, the eyesight issue, but also everything that was spewing from Arawn-Arthur's mouth.

"Where's Riken now?" The little fur ball that Amy knew had to be Neil piped up.

"It's waiting for me," Arthur answered. "I told it that you may not recognize me since Riken, as an eldritch monstrosity, shadows half my face when it travels with me in my cloak."

"But - why did you want to talk to us alone?" Sooho - no, Jin asked. "If you didn't know-"

"I was hoping that Keith's character K would be here... so I could talk to him and figure out a way to get to Keith. He's the only one who would have the resources to get me - or... us - out of this mess."

A somber silence fell across the group as they all looked around, checking one more time to confirm what they already knew. Keith wasn't there. They didn't know why.

"Wait, so, if you've been stuck here for a year..." May-Nora said, breaking the brief silence. "What have you been doing all this time?"

Arthur adjusted his hood, and flipped it down. "I've been looking for you guys. I've been tracking down your guy's characters in hopes of somehow - and I don't know how it'd work but - somehow getting through to you guys. But that was before you guys got here too. But this whole time I've been working as a mercenary, trying to get knowledge and money, so just maybe, I could get out. And this whole time while I've been looking for you, I've been telling Riken stories about your characters. Riken's still convinced that me, and all of you, are from this world. So -"

Sofia - no - Sora interrupted him. "We don't get to be ourselves, do we...?"

Arthur opened his mouth to reply, but words seemed to escape him as he met Sora's eyes. Looking away, he replied quietly.

"No... everyone else in this world thinks you're your character. Which means... you'll all have to stay in character."

"But... I don't... have... magic." Amy replied, though feeling rather dumb once the words left her mouth. Did she...?

"Oh." Arthur looked over to her. "Actually you guys do. Or you should. When I woke up at Arawn I had all his abilities, and his body has all of this muscle memory for fighting and stuff so... you should be able to do whatever your character can do. The only thing I didn't get were his memories. Which... makes it hard when you run into people that your character knows. Or in my case, knew. Though with me I have a little more of an excuse, being resurrected and all."

Neil came back with another question. "Wait, so you've run into o t h e r..."

Everyone's voices began to fade out into the background as Amy looked down at Bo's hands. Her hands. So she was a man now. She was Bo. She was big, and strong, and in a way, a lot of things she would've wanted to be, but as herself. But could she pretend to be Bo? Bo was so much more... mature than her. The real Bo had decades upon decades of life experience under his belt, but she? The walmart rip-off brand Bo? The pretend Bo? People would smell the fake from a mile away.

But maybe, just maybe, she could convince them she was him with magic.

She closed her eye, trying to think of how Bo would channel his magic. How he would just do it. He could just... do lightning. And he could just -

Suddenly Amy's eye shot open and a crazed smile spread across her face. With the full light of joy and realization shining on her face she squatted down, and then jumped up into the air, yelling at the top of her lungs: "GUYS OH MY GOD I FORGOT! I CAN TURN INTO A-" her body instantaneously shot up into the sky, and with only a small burst of shimmering mirror-like sparkles she was flying in the sky, as a big, long, serpentine dragon with shimmering white scales and fiercely bright eyes.

It was unlike anything she'd ever experienced or felt before. Not that she expected it to be like anything she'd ever known because she was a DRAGON. But it felt oddly... freeing. She didn't know how she knew how to fly, or how that even worked, but she just was. Swirling and dancing in the sky as she looked down at the tiny people below and for just a moment, she forgot that all of this was real, and it was like a dream.

Then she remembered it was not a dream.

And that's when she curled up into a coil in the sky and began spiraling down - gracefully, mind you, by some miracle of "muscle memory." As she floated down, her long draconic body swirled around the group, and she had them circled with herself. It was again, the weirdest thing. But if there was anything nice about being a dragon it was that she had both eyes in this form. She didn't know why that was. Probably a fault in her own character design of Bo. Where was the continuity?

Somehow her ears were still blocking out sound until that very moment when a yell reached her ears.

"BO! RIKEN IS HERE!" Arthur yelled. "IT SAW YOU IN THE SKY!"

So soon? Amy let out an audible growl, though she didn't mean to.

"Oh." The dragon's voice replied, even lower than Bo's. She guessed she wouldn't be able to be herself anymore... did that mean she'd have to change back to Bo's human form?
"It's all a matter of perspective... everyone is the hero of their own story, and the villain of another's." - James
  





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Wed May 30, 2018 9:43 pm
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Saen says...



[Redacted]

[The Antagonist]


After spending so much time away from that dreadful palace, he hated returning to it even more than before. This was something that had always been aware of but never put much thought into prior to this point; it had been easy to forget about it when he was miles upon miles away. Now, standing before its menacing walls in an outfit he absolutely despised, his bubbling hatred for the palace and the man that resided within it became all the more apparent.

He approached the guards. As he looked the two solemn men over, he wondered – not for the first time – what would compel someone to give up their freedom to serve their master. The only ones he could understand were the ones who were coerced into wearing their shackles. Anyone else was a mystery, and the only mysteries he enjoyed were the ones that he created himself.

He cleared his throat.

They surveyed him over and let him through. Good. They knew who he was, and they knew he had been scheduled to meet with their master. He followed a familiar path through the spiraling hallways and seemingly endless corridors once inside the actual building. He had lost his way many times in the past, but time had brought with it knowledge. His destination was unfortunately no longer a foreign location. It had become a reluctant sort of home, the type he wanted to burn into dust and lay a thousand curses upon.

After another ten minutes of nursing his festering hatred and navigating the palace, he arrived at a pair of large wooden doors. He summoned a spell. Though he could have just easily opened it with his hands, a dramatic entrance was the perfect way to show just how powerful he had become. Let his master think that he had created the weapon before him; eventually, his ego would blind him from seeing the truth that was right in front of him.

A strong gust of wind threw the doors open. Cloak swishing behind him as the wind died to a gentle breeze, he walked into the throne room. There his master was, today dining on an exquisite bowl of fruit while foolish men and women served his every need.

He bit his tongue and let a smile grace his lips at the sight of his master. He quickly bridged the distance between himself and the throne, falling to his knees when he was only a foot or two away. He ducked his head down, his glare hidden by the dark bangs that had fallen in front of his eyes. “I've come to present my report on my most recent exploit, my lord.”

He raised his head. His master took a particularly large grape from the goblet resting in the hands of one of his mindless servants, savoring the taste for a minute before gesturing for him to continue. And continue he did, making sure to tell him everything he had planned to say on his way over. He had prepared this version of events so it was satisfactory, but kept some details to himself. He would not let him meddle with what he planned. The last times that had happened had ended with disastrous results, and he would do whatever it took to prevent those losses from reoccurring.

“They have all arrived. From the little I have seen, it appears that their bodies are functioning exactly as I hoped they would.” He paused, then added, “I believe they are even better than the last group. They have all met up. The last time I checked, they were in the woods that they awoke in. Their precious priest is nowhere to be found, as we discussed – if he was with them, he would have been too inclined to give them information.”

“Good,” his master said.

He ignored the praise. “I will say that a problem has arisen.”

The comment should have had some sort of noticeable response, but the man lounging in the throne was much more concerned with the state of his meal. He gave a lazy wave of the hand and gestured for him to continue speaking.

“I'm sure you remember Arawn – or, I should say, Arthur Croft.” A glint of recognition in those despicable green eyes was enough for him to know that he did remember. “He managed to find them only minutes after they awoke here. He knows more about this world than Keith Quinn ever would have had, and I suspect he is already telling them everything he has learned in the year he has been here.”

“Then we must dispose of him,” his master surmised.

He raised his hands to summon forth the proper servants for an order such as that, but he paused upon seeing the conflicted look on the face of the man before him. He gratefully took the window of opportunity and put forth an alternate plan.

“I believe it is best to keep him alive, my lord,” he carefully said. If he misspoke, it would be seen as a challenge – and his master utterly despised underlings who went against their orders. “His knowledge does not explain how they arrived here, or what their purpose here truly is. Even more so, he will likely remain with that group. If we dispose of him, we will be inadvertently giving them more information. They currently believe they were brought here by an unfortunate stroke of luck. Croft's death would only tell them that other forces are at play. I know them well – they are far from foolish or ignorant. If given a hint, they will discover everything.”

His master mulled over what had been said. The now empty goblet remained at his side, only to be ushered away by another one of his servants when he saw that he had finished.

He ducked his head once more and waited for a verdict. Though he only had to wait a few minutes, the time spent in the suffocating silence was unbearable.

“Proceed with the plan, Kartiel,” his master said.

He rose to his feet, giving a slight nod of the head to show that he understood the orders. A smile that didn't reach his eyes danced across his lips. “It will be my pleasure, my lord.”
"I have the magicky too. You're probably thinking, 'How the heckie does he have the magicky?'" -soundofmind, as Bo
  





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Thu Jun 14, 2018 12:08 am
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AliceinBluue says...



Nora


Nora’s brain kinda feels like she has wrapped it in cotton, everything has that fuzzy feeling around the edges, like all of this is happening to a different person. And it is happening to a different person, it is happening to May, but it is also happening to her.

Someone who exists outside of her little existential crisis bubble starts shouting at Bo, who is actually Amy and also a DRAGON, and Nora gives herself a little shake to drag her mind away from the drain it has been circling and focuses back on the conversation.

“I wanted more time for you guys to get comfortable with the idea of being your characters!” Arthur says, dragging his hand through his hair and making it all stick up in different directions.

“Sorry,” Amy says, her gravely voice disguising any shame she might have felt while Nora’s brain oh so helpfuly chants ‘dragon dragon dragon’ at her in what could have either been mind numbing terror or just bland acknowledgement. Nora personally, is leaning towards option number two. Too many weird thing have happened to her in too short a time, her brain is shot and she has used up all of her shock for today, maybe even for most of tomorrow too. But hey, option one could also be a distinct possibility, because you know, DRAGON.

Somewhere deep inside her, Nora feels her energy start to fizzle and knows that even if she thinks she could, and even should stay in this state of shock for a while, the rest of her has other ideas.

“So we just need to act like our characters until Riken goes away, right?” She asks, drawing Arthur’s attention, “and that shouldn't be TOO hard, we did make them all.”

“Nora, Riken doesn’t usually leave,” Arthur says, almost like he is explaining something to a child, “he’s only not here now because I asked for some time to talk with you guys without him.”

“Oh,” Nora says, her brain already bouncing along new ideas. There has to be something they could do, something that would make all their lives here easier.

Her thought process comes to a grinding halt however as thunder rolls across the clearing. Nora’s eyes flick upwards, but the sky is still as clear from thunderstorms as it was just a few minutes ago. Slowly, everyone in the group looks to where Arthur had been fighting just a few minutes ago, one thing clearly on all of their minds, the man Arthur had trapped there.

The ice around the person cracked and broke apart, the vines that had held him were torn away from his body as the ice moved. Any of the vines that were not destroyed by the ice were quickly cut away by the man’s sword.

“No!” Arthur yelled, lunging after his former captive.

Nora ran after him, if Arthur needed this guy wrapped in vines, she would do everything she possibly could to help.

Nora was positive that the other members of the group also joined in on the chase with Amy, Matt, and Sora probably taking to the skies, Neil and his many minion friends running(scurrying? scampering? Nora honestly had no idea how to describe how Neil actually moved around) along with the rest of them. But none of that actually mattered, Nora’s whole world narrowed to just her and the person she was chasing. Everything else was deemed non-important and dismissed.

She knew in some distant part of her brain that she still had knives in her hands from when she had almost unconsciously drawn them earlier, and she knew she should probably have put them away when she had started running, but there was something comforting about their weight in her hands. So she kept them out as she ran.

Nora hits the ice and almost falls flat on her face. Her feet slide out from underneath her and she sees the ground come racing up towards her face at an alarmingly fast rate.
She is pulled back onto her feet at the last second by George, who’s clawed feet were probably what were keeping him upright on the ice.

“Thanks,” Nora gasps as she gets her feet back under her. George gives her a sharp nod, but her focus is already turning back towards her quarry.

She starts off after the escaping man again, shortening her stride so as to better keep her balance. But even as she gives chace, she knows she is not going to be able to catch up with him, he is too far away from her now and he has too much of an advantage on the ice.

Then Amy, still a dragon, drops from the sky, effectively cutting off the route of escape the man was attempting to use.

The guy tries to change directions, his feet scrabbling uselessly against the ice as his momentum continues to move him towards Amy. For a brief moment, Nora thought he might fall, but at the last second the guy reclaims his balance and rockets off in another direction, throwing ice at Amy as a parting shot. She throws a streak of fire at the ice even as she shifts her position to avoid getting hit.

Sora hits the ice next, a blast of his magic already racing towards the man as his feet touch down on the ice. But this time, the man is more ready. He throws himself sideways and rolls before hurtling back onto his feet. The magic blast Sora sent his way misses him by mere inches as Sora himself seems to fall through the ice with a strangled yell.

“No!” Nora feels the word rip itself out of her chest. She goes to alter her course, determined to save her friend even as the thought of diving into the water makes part of her brain scream in wordless, formless terror. But there are several other people who are faster than her.

Matt is already streamlining his body in a dive as George and Andrew peal off from the running group to help.

Seeing that there is nothing that she can do and knowing that if she tried she would just get in the way, Nora once again focuses all of her attention on the fleeing figure in front of her. The gap between the man and the group who had run after him on foot has closed significantly and Nora pushes herself to go even the slightest bit faster.

A blast of Amy’s fire comes down almost directly on the man and only the slight warning from her shadow had given him enough time to keep himself from being burned.
And then Nora was on him. Her hand lashed out, the knife a silver blur as she struck the back of his head.

He stumbled forwards, his hand coming up to cover the wound. Then he twists in the opposite direction and his weapon, that Nora had completely forgotten about until this moment, comes sweeping towards her. She flinches backwards, bringing her arms up to shield her face in a desperate attempt to save her head any injury. The, because she cannot bear to watch as the blade swings towards her, she squeezes her eyes shut, not wanting to see her death coming for her.

But his blow never lands. Instead, there is a loud clang as metal hits metal and Nora’s eyes fly open to see that Arthur's halberd has been her savior. She simply watches for a second as the two men again engaged in battle. They both clearly know what they are doing and Nora wonders how this world has changed her friend.

Then the man scores a lucky hit against Arthur and Nora jumps forward. The man’s weapon rises to meet her oncoming attack and Nora has a brief moment of panic, convinced that she has made a gigantic error in judgement. But her body takes over, remembering movements that Nora has never learned but that May has drilled over and over again.

Quicker than thought, one of Nora’s knives comes up to shift the trajectory of the sword as she dodges down and sideways, coming up under the man’s guard with her other knife to score across his chest before she ducks away again.

She makes a few fast passes at him, trying to remain in motion, but her mind is starting to take over and she isn’t working on pure instinct anymore. Her brain is throwing a million possibilities at her, screaming for her to do SOMETHING. She feels his sword score across her body and she cries out in pain.

Nora tries to move back from the weapon that is coming in for another swing even as she drops one of her knives to try and put pressure on her wound. But instead of stepping on ice, she accidentally steps on one of Neil’s many minions.

He moves forward and Nora is only save from a painful bruising as her body once again takes over. The hand that was applying pressure to the wound flies out and hits the ice. In one smooth motion she shoves all her weight am momentum down into the hand, planting it as much as she can as she rises into a one-armed handstand. Then, just as fast as she found herself in a handstand, she lands on her feet as the hand that had supported her releases another one of her knives.

She’s facing the fight so she watches as Neil’s minions all swarm the guy with what looks like vines and half of her brain processes the fact that she was totally just used by Neil as a distraction while the other half flips out about that totally cool half backflip-handstand-thing she just pulled.

Amy, now as human Bo, and Arthur walk over as Neil finishes cocooning the man from the shoulders down. The man starts to shout things about how he will make them all rich if they just let him go. Arthur raps the man in the stomach with the staff of his halberd and the man gasps for air. Nora figures she should probably feel bad for him as he struggles to get his wind back, but she just can not find it in herself. Amy takes this opportunity to swing the gut up into a one-armed potato-sack carry and Nora is filled with envy that Amy was able to pull off such a move without even thinking about it.

She sheaths her knives as Amy and Arthur start to walk back across the ice to where all their stuff had been left behind when Nora remembers that Sora had gone through the ice earlier. Her body freezes with terror at the thought of her friend being trapped under the ice, his lungs screaming for air as he tries desperately to find air.

Desperately, she scans the ice and sees a group making their way towards them. Nora jogs over them, her mind swirling with worst case scenarios.

She gets close enough to see that Sora is being supported between George and Andrew with Matt bringing up the rear. Nora feels her body go limp with relief at the sight of Sora, soaked but relatively safe even as a curl of guilt worms it’s way through her stomach.

Next time, she promises herself as they wait for Arthur, Neil, Amy, and their captive to meet up with them, next time I will be strong enough to save him.

In the corner of her eye, Nora sees a shadow unnaturally dart towards them from across the ice.
  








Be careful or be roadkill.
— Calvin