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Lux Academy

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Wed Jul 20, 2022 3:58 am
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Omni says...

Collaborated with @Spearmint

At first, Railyn only heard the wind rushing in his ears. He thought he must have passed out somehow when he felt the floor beneath his feet vanish. Maybe it was a dream, and he hadn't actually woken up yet. He tried to open his eyes, but nothing had changed. It was complete darkness. Screams rang out and echoed over and over again in his ears, and that was what finally got him to realize this was real. He didn't know which way was up or which way was down, and his stomach tossed and turned because of that.

In the void, a burst of light flew up into the air, illuminating everything and nothing at the same time. It got faster, and then Railyn realized it was not rising, it was falling, and it was falling to illuminate the floor below them. Whoever conjured that light was certainly more on top of the game than Railyn was.

Finally, the orb of light crashed into the ground below and exploded in a flurry of sparks. Was that a city below him? Where did they drop them into? No, no time for those thoughts, he had to get to the ground without killing himself. Surely the staff at Lux Academy would stop him before he splattered all over the floor, right?

Railyn didn't want to take that chance. He tried to reorient himself, now that he knew which was down. In the corner of his eyes, he could see some other students in his peripheral igniting their auras. Somehow, they had gotten much further apart than they were standing around before they dropped.

He did the same, reaching within himself to find that familiar trigger to jumpstart his aura. He knew it was a novice way to do it, but it was the only way he had learned. It was a memory, and as soon as he thought on that memory, his aura roared to life, surrounding him like a storm of dead autumn leaves, picked up by an angry wind.

Wind! Okay, that was a way to slow him down. He channeled his aura down to his arms, charging his dragon tattoos as well as highlighting his two forefingers. He could sense the air around him as his aura enhanced his connection to the natural forces. The connection was slim, just the tips of his fingers, but it was enough to get almost shell shocked by the force and fury of the wind around him.

Railyn twisted his wrists around and opened his palm out. At first, the wind accepted the challenge of his mind and body and almost bent his fingers backwards completely, but his aura and the beginning of his Primal Sense struggled against its might. Spreading his fingers apart slowly, excruciatingly slowly, he forced the wind to bend to his will. While most of the wind still pushed against him, he was able to grab ahold of a fraction of the air and began circling it around him, acting as a buffer against him and the remaining wind. He could feel the effects instantly; the rushing of wind in his ears lessened and he was able to open his eyes completely.

As he slowed his fall, he glanced around. He could now faintly see a rough, rocky wall behind him. He feebly attempted to like, swim in the air to get closer to it and maybe grab ahold of it, but that was absolutely fruitless. The ground was still both fast approaching and seemingly taking forever. He didn't know if his little trick with the wind was going to be enough. If he had to take more than a moment to think about it, he guessed it wouldn't be.

The Primal Sense on his fingertips vanished and his aura in its entirety burned brighter. He shoved the rest of his aura into fueling his dragon tattoos. The storm of autumn leaves vanished and the spiraling inky scales on his forearms glowed maroon. Manipulating both the air and fueling his Affinity had started to make him lightheaded, but he had to get enough fuel to burn his Affinity for more than a few moments. If he could not use someone else's magic, his own would have to do.

The ground sped up to meet him, and the remnants of that orb of light from earlier started to vanish right before his eyes. His grasp over the wind around him faltered, and in that moment, he began to hear the wind warping around uneven terrain. It was now or never.

Imagining the maw of the dragon inside him opening, he shoved his hands down, palms open, and let his Affinity loose. Fire erupted from his hands, billowing in a large arc below him. This was no ordinary fire, it was Dragonfire, and it danced at the opportunity to be let out. His aura flickered back to life to protect his body from the flames he was producing, and he felt himself rapidly losing speed.

The ground met up with him too fast, and he realized almost too late that it was the roof of a building he was careening into. Swiveling his arms, he shoved his body to the side to narrowly avoid the building, Still, one leg got caught on the edge of the roof, and he went spiraling into the wall of another building. His aura absorbed the impact, but his concentration was shattered, and the fire vanished from his fingertips.

Shielding his hand with his aura, he half fell, half slid down the side of the structure with his gloved hand scraping the wall to try and slow his fast descent to the ground. Railyn mustered up what he could to his other arm and blasted flickering fire. With all of that, he was tumbled off the side of the wall and onto another, lower roof, rolling onto the cool stone and stopping the landing on his back. The impact sucked the air out of his lungs, and he just laid there gasping his breaths for a moment. At least he made it to the ground alive.

He had to say that, because in that moment the roof he landed on crumpled under the impact and his added weight, and he fell into the story below. He rolled to the side just before meeting the ground, and thankfully he didn't knock the air out of his lungs again this time. He groaned softly as his body protested his maneuvers back there.

Eventually --he didn't know how long-- he got himself to a sitting position. Snapping his fingers, a small light flickered an inch above his fingertips. He studied the newly lit room he landed (well, crashed) in. Besides debris and rubble, there wasn't much occupying the room. One corner wall was gone completely, and three huge windows adorned the three remaining sides. Through those vantage points, Railyn could make out other students making their way down to the city, judging by the sparkling auras in the pitch blackness.

Railyn flicked the fire to the ground and it stayed there. He pulled the backpack off of his shoulder and dropped it in front of him as he crossed his legs. He finally had a moment to process what just happened, but he still needed to busy himself as he did. So, he inspected what the school gave him in this backpack more thoroughly.

Pulling out the items one by one, he registered them in his mind. Two water bottles, one seemed empty and one seemed full. He chugged the water in the full one. The heat he produced through his tattoos often left him parched, so it was nice that they gave them some water before, y'know, dropping them into a gaping chasm with no warning whatsoever. There was also some rope --which Railyn couldn't even think of why he would possibly need that--, flint and steel for starting a fire --as if they didn't have magic, a flashlight, two glowsticks, a thin blanket that was rolled up and super itchy, a thin rod thingy, which was a flare upon closer inspection, and a whistle with some small writing on the side. Railyn moved closer to his fire and squinted to read the whistle. "For extreme emergencies ONLY". Huh, okay. How extreme are things going to be down here?

Railyn then remembered Headmistress Fea mentioning that there would be monsters down there with them. Goodie. He sighed and shoved the supplies back into the backpack, keeping the flashlight, the water bottle, and the whistle on top -- in case he needed them. He ran his fingers through his curly hair, sighing. He really should have eaten a bigger breakfast.

As he sat there, he heard a huge clank and the city around him lit up, well, barely. He scooted over to the edge of the building and looked up. Four large lamps, the ones you'd find in a huge stadium for a local ceremony, except these looked old, old and rotten; Railyn really couldn't think of a better name to describe them. They weren't much use as light, but he was able to make out definitions and shapes, and if he focused hard enough and kept still, he could see a bit more. It was just enough to allow him the ability to not trip and fall on any little thing. However, he would still have to use other sources of light if he wanted to actually see anything.

He couldn't stay where he was. He had to find one of those jewels Headmistress Fea mentioned. There were a limited number of them, and far more students fighting for them. He had absolutely no clue where to start.

Railyn opened his palm and summoned his chakrams to him. It obeyed and flew from his holster on his back to his hand. One of the handier Artificing skills he developed early on. Once he had fully caught his breath from the landing, he slipped down the building and out into the open.

"Okay, Railyn," he muttered, "what would a bigshot battlemage do? Whaaaat would someone who knew what they were doing... do?" He glanced around, doing a complete circle. "Well, I would find someone who knew what they were doing." The only trouble is, he only really knew of three other people down here with him. Thane, Edalyn, and...

"Pel!" Railyn exclaimed as the very boy he was thinking about rounded the corner, his expression turning joyous when he saw Railyn.

"Ri, I was looking for you," Pel said, a bit out of breath.

"That's funny, because I was just about to look for you. Are you all right?"

"Yeah, I'm fine." Pel winced. "Just a bit bruised from the fall..."

Their conversation was cut short by a deafening screeching sound, followed by Headmistress Fea's voice. "Hello potential students. Please be advised: The Voidborn have been released." With that, only silence followed.

Railyn and Aapeli glanced at each other. Railyn hid a gulp with a smirk. "We got this. Say, did you happen to see a fancy little jewel on your way here? Or two?" Pel shook his head. "If only it were that easy." The two of them stood awkwardly there, but their trance was broken as eerie screeches sounded from somewhere beyond their location. Railyn couldn't guess where it was coming from or how far away it was, but he wasn't risking the chance to figure it out.

Railyn slung his backpack around his shoulder and glanced around. They were in the middle of a ruined city, with crumbling buildings all around them. Back the way he fell into the arena was a dead end, just brick wall and water. The screeches seemed to be coming from one of the lamps dead ahead, so he looked left. There was a natural road there, perhaps it used to be made out of brick or something or... whatever roads were made out of. A toppled building blocked its path, but it looked scalable.

"This way," Railyn said, pointed to the cut-off path. He was desperately hoping he wasn't leading them into more danger.

Pel nodded and started down the path, clutching his pack with white knuckles. He gulped and said, "So... where do you think the jewels are likely to be? Is it random, or would they deliberately put them in dangerous places...?" He clutched his pack even tighter.

"Well," Railyn began, huffing from trying to keep his breath, "judging from the fact that we were dropped into an arena of death with no warning or way to get down safely, I'm gonna say it's random." He wheezed out a laugh, but it was a poor attempt at a joke.

Pel smiled weakly. "A-alright then... guess I'll just keep an eye out for anything sparkly..."

Railyn chuckled at that. Now there's something he could hope for.

He jumped up to a ledge, holding onto bent rebar and he pulled himself up, twisting his body to give a bit of leverage as he wrenched his arm to hang on the rebar by the groove of his shoulder. He struggled for a hold, but finally he curled the ends of his fingers on a groove of the concrete. His legs flailed for a moment as he struggled up, but he finally climbed up and gasped out a sigh of relief.

Aapeli stared at that for a moment, then walked around the collapsed building. There was an audible "oof," and Railyn noticed Pel struggling up a series of cracked ledges. Pel appeared to rest for a moment on the one closest to the top of the structure. "Ah... I didn't expect... this much of a workout... on the first day..." Eventually he pulled himself up with Railyn's help and brushed himself off.

Railyn stared out to what must have been the edge of the city, which was about two blocks from their location, and completely pitch black. "So, to stay in the city and meet up with one of those Voidborn or venture out into the black?" He glanced at Pel.

"Hah... well, the darkness definitely sounds like a better option than getting devoured by those things..." Pel shuddered.

"True." Railyn slid down a leaning wall to the ground, the momentum trying to make him stumble. He slowed to a walk.

Pel hesitated for a moment, then slid down as well, trying his best to make it a controlled descent by using his shoes to create friction. Halfway down, though, a hidden fragment of stone caught the side of his shoe, and Pel flailed into a half-slide, half-tumble. Railyn instinctively reached out and caught Pel before he planted face first into the mud. He lifted Pel just enough for his feet to find even ground.

"Whoops... sorry about that." It was hard to tell in the semi-darkness, but Pel's face looked a little flushed. "Looks like I'm getting a great start to this whole Lux Academy thing... Um. A-anyways! Any gems nearby?" He glanced around.

Railyn smiled softly, even if Pel couldn't catch it in the darkness, and he patted Pel on his back. "We all have our strengths. Mine is climbing trees." He turned his attention ahead. Beyond three or four buildings lay a wall of complete blackness. He stepped out to the edge of the city, facing the void face on.

He lifted his hand up and puffed into his palm. Fire sparked to life in the dragon's maw gaping out at him, etched into his palm.

Pel's eyes widened at that, reflecting the firelight. "That's a neat Affinity."

Railyn smirked at him. "Heh, thanks. Not as neat when you're climbing trees, though."

"Makes sense." Pel smiled, then turned to face the void. "Do... do you hear the void whispering to you?" He gulped and shifted his feet nervously.

"Wait, wha--" his words were cut off as he saw a glimmer in the corner of his eye. He had just enough time to pull the both of them out of the way as something whistled past, impacting the ground with a thud.

Pel stared at the thing-- which looked awfully sharp-- for a moment, seemingly in shock. He and Railyn exchanged glances, and Railyn scrambled back to his feet. He narrowed his eyes, struggling to see what the Thing was.

As soon as he got close enough to see that it was an intricate throwing knife, it glimmered again, and the ground around it exploded.
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Wed Jul 20, 2022 4:01 am
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Omni says...

Collaborated with @Spearmint

Railyn was thrown off his feet, landing on the ground. His aura reactively took the brunt of the blast, but the impact sucked the breath out of his lungs.

Pel was nearby, looking dazed but mostly unharmed. His aura swirled around him in shades of brown and gray. Railyn rolled to his side, shoving himself off the ground. His vision focused, and he noticed someone stepping out of the smoke from the explosion. They walked with a bit of a swagger, their aura glowing gold and crimson.

Railyn stumbled to his feet as the person approached, grabbing his chakrams from the ground next to him. He split them apart and widened his stance. "Whoa, we're not your enemy." He felt like it was a weak response, and he sounded weak or unsure of himself, but it caught him off guard.

The person stopped a few yards from him and Pel, who was off to his side, and tossed a glowstick onto the ground below them. "My name is Francois, and you became my enemy the moment you crossed my path."

"...What?" Railyn said, but the guy --Francois apparently-- ripped open his vest, revealing an entire jacket full of throwing knives. Francois pulled one out, twirling it around his finger.

Francois pointed at Pel. "You!"

Pel scrambled backwards. "Um, yes?" He held up his pack like a shield, then apparently remembered something and shielded the pack instead. There was a sound suspiciously like a croak from the pack, and Pel coughed.

"You are meek. You shall be the first to fall." Francois declared, flashing his knife threateningly.

"Whoa, whoa, whoa. No one is going to fall okay, unless you were climbing those buildings back there."

Pel added, "Yeah... Can we, um, talk things out? Or something? I'm sure there are enough jewels for all three of us..." He eyed the knife warily.

Francois brandished the knife at Pel. "You have a jewel?"

"No. Yes. I mean, I have it." Railyn interjected. He held his hands out placatingly. "Just leave him out of this."

"Ah, so you die first, then." Francois pointed his throwing knife at Railyn. That was all he needed to realize this guy was nuts, and not going to back down. Before Francois arched his arm back to throw the knife in either of their directions, Railyn flared his aura to life, arcing it across the blades of his chakrams.

He tossed one chakram out. It blazed across the air, streaking fire across the blackness. It swooped around behind Francois, forcing his attention behind him. As he turned to face the attack, Railyn slid across the mud on his shins, sweeping his leg against the back of his knees.

Francois buckled.

Railyn grabbed his spinning chakram out of the air and brought both of them down onto Francois' chest, but before he could, the guy flung two knives at Railyn. He shouted something, but Railyn's adrenaline was too high for him to hear anything.

The knives sunk themselves into his aura right in the middle of his chest. The knives shimmered, one white and one blue, and they both exploded into a huge cloud of frost, knocking Railyn back. This explosion, while closer, wasn't nearly as strong as the first explosion. Batting the cold dust out of his vision, Railyn struggled to maintain his balance.

Meanwhile, Pel activated his aura completely and summoned a flock of... birds? They were moving too fast for Railyn to tell exactly, but the shimmering figures worked decently at obscuring Pel's location.

Francois shouted something again and tossed a sleek green knife towards the whirlwind of birds, but though the knife exploded into a tangled mess of foliage, the whirlwind didn't cease. A couple more birds appeared to replace the ones caught by the web of green. Pel didn't appear to be going on the attack, however-- perhaps he was still hoping for a peaceful resolution? But that was pretty much impossible now.

Railyn shrugged off the chill from the frost and his shock from getting attacked. He connected his chakrams back together and, using his aura, tapped into the artificed etches on the edges of the circular blade. They glowed a dull emerald and the blade started spinning ferociously. Lighting the blade once again, he lobbed the spinning fireball through the frost, arching it directly at Francois.

He rushed in after his spinning chakram, running directly into the remnants of the explosion of frost. He kept his stance low --he didn't want to be hit by his own rogue chakram-- and rammed Francois into the ground.

Francois was prepared this time, though, and he kicked Railyn over him, so they both tumbled into the mud. Railyn was the first to rise, though, and he caught the spinning hilt of the flaming chakram in one fell swoop.

As Francois clambered to his feet, Railyn swung his chakram in a medium arc. It sliced at Francois' throat, but his aura burned a fierce golden with specks of red. Railyn ignited his own aura and the chakram instinctively flew back to him. Instead of catching it, he let it swing around behind him and targeted Francois again.

This time, Railyn charged Francois as his chakram flew around for another strike.

He brought his knee up, slamming into Francois' gut, and caught the chakram as it flew by, slicing it down upon Francois' aura. The impact of his blade, empowered by his Affinity, against the other's aura exploded into a flurry of sparks and raw magical energy.

The force caused Railyn to stumble back a moment, and Francois took that opening, lunging two throwing knives straight into his chest once again. These flashes yellow and ice blue respectively, right as Francois exclaimed "Frozen Thunder!"

The knives exploded in sparks of lightning, arcing out and getting frozen immediately after. Railyn was caught in the middle of it, and his stomach and right arm got frozen next to an arc of lightning. He struggled against it but stopped as Francois chuckled. "You are no match for me." He flipped a knife and walked over. "Now for your friend?"

Railyn couldn't see where Pel was, but hopefully he was somewhere safe. Just then, the realization of what Francois said hit him. "Wait-- did you say Frozen Thunder?"

"Yes, what about it?" Francois frowned impatiently.

"Do you like, have a name for every combination?"

"They are ability names." Francois was deadly serious.

"Not judging--"

Suddenly, Railyn was interrupted by a noise halfway between a battle cry and a strangled scream. There was a flurry of motion as a bunch of... paper? Wait, no, origami birds... whooshed past. Railyn saw Pel following the flock as it bore down on Francois.

The birds attempted to peck at the knife-thrower's hair and clothes, and while most of them were rebuffed by his aura, they did seem to be quite an effective annoyance. Pel lobbed a brick? stone? something he'd apparently picked up into the fray as well, seemingly doing his best to help. His aura swirled in a chilly storm of gray clouds and dead winter leaves.

In the second while Francois was distracted, Pel asked, "Y-you okay?"

Railyn chuckled in between exhausted breaths. "Yep, just chatting with mister explode-y knives over here." He exhaled slowly and let his aura gently flare to life. It struggled against the ice, but he didn't need it there. He focused his aura into his dragon tattoo on his free arm. His palm flared to life in a fury of fire and he punched his frozen arm. The ice shattered away and with another well-placed punch, he was fully free. "You wanna get outta here?"

"Yes, please." Pel gripped his pack tighter. "Which way?"

"Good, let's--"

Two roars happened at the same moment. First, Francois jumped back up and readied two knives in each hand. However, the far more horrifying scream happened behind them. It was a gut-wrenching cry, something definitely not human and maybe not even animal. It trilled and roared and screamed all in one moment. An icy chill crawled down Railyn's spine and all the hair's on his arms stood on end. Without thinking, Railyn opened his newly freed hand and summoned his chakram back to him, and with his other hand --which was still alit with his Dragonfire-- he launched a blast of fire at Francois, which hit him solidly in the chest and knocked him into the darkness.

Pel's eyes were wide. "T-time to run?"

Railyn nodded hastily. "Time to run!" He launched another fireball in a direction that was not where that scream was from, and he saw a dilapidated stone sign that had "Mineshaft Ahead" scrawled on it.

"Good a direction as any, I guess." Pel gulped. Railyn didn't have anything to add to that; he just started jogging in that direction, with Pel following right behind. Another scream rattled behind them, echoing in his ears over and over. He couldn't tell if it was closer or not, but he didn't want to wait to find out. His pace quickened. He couldn't move too fast, as the ground was uneven and wet, and his was wiped. He could barely see in front of him, now that they had moved out beyond the light of the city. His fire was bright but didn't travel far. He couldn't stop moving to thinking about getting a better light, though.

Finally, they got to a fork in the road. Railyn slowed to a stop, letting himself catch his breath. On the right was a broken path that led further into darkness. Railyn fished out the flashlight in the top of the pack and clicked it on, but it did not reveal much more of the right path. However, on the left path it revealed a boarded up mineshaft entrance. The wood wasn't weathered whatsoever, which meant it was recently put there. Which meant the possibility of jewels hidden in there. Railyn pointed this connection out to Pel, who nodded in agreement.

"So you found it too, then?" A familiar voice announced from the darkness. Railyn shined his flashlight to some brush next to the mineshaft. In his other hand, he gripped the hilt of his chakram tighter. He wasn't ready for another fight, but he would do what he had to.

He immediately relaxed as Edalyn stepped out from the brush, a large bo-staff in one hand, the bottom tip trailing the ground behind her. He breathed out a sigh of relief. "You're... not planning on attacking us, right?"

"Now why would I do that?" She asked coolly.

"You should have seen the guy we just left behind," Railyn said, smiling a hollow smile. The truth was that he was far too tired to attempt a good quality joke, even if it was the perfect time to do so.

Pel smiled wearily as well. "Initiation's been pretty rough."

They turned their attention to the mineshaft. Railyn spoke up, "You think there's jewels in there?"

Their conversation was interrupted by a violent screech that was incredibly close to them. At that same moment, Railyn felt something deep within him. He furrowed his brows and hunched over. It wasn't a pain in his stomach, but something far deeper, and far more insidious than just pain. He finally realized where the pain was located. He glanced at his dragon tattoos instinctively.

Something was clawing at the memory he used to summon his aura, his natural connection to the magic within and around him. Whatever it was tugged at his aura, like it was a piece of bread that Railyn held and a ravenous stranger was eyeing him. His palms got clammy, and he rearranged his grip on his chakram. He glanced around at Pel, who looked similarly queasy, but he couldn't even get the energy or thoughts to say something to him.

Then the whispers started. He couldn't hear what they said, but it was like a whispering or buzzing in the back of his mind, making it even more difficult to focus. It was as if the entire world within his mind was being barraged by intruders, and the window of opportunity to save the village was closing.

Railyn blinked twice, struggling to get his mind to work, and the world around him felt as if it was on a delay, like it took longer for him to register anything happening around him.

Instinctively, he grabbed his memory close, and his aura roared to life. Almost instantly, the fog on his brain, the whispers, the sensation in his stomach vanished, and he was able to see and think clearly again. He stumbled as the world whooshed around him, like his brain was rushing to catch up with the reality around him.

Shaking his head to clear his mind, he glanced around him. Edalyn and Aapeli were both in that same state of mind that he was just in, judging from the vacant looks of pain and nausea on their faces.

"Use your auras," he said. Edalyn blinked twice at his words, but Pel didn't react at all. Railyn stumbled up to the man and grasped his face in between Railyn's hands. "Pel, look at me. You gotta start up your aura!"

A slight frown creased Pel's forehead. "Wh... aura...?" He blinked slowly as if waking up from a deep sleep, and his aura slowly started to gather in swirls of pale and dark gray. As the swirls moved faster, Pel looked more alert, until he suddenly jumped back in surprise. "O-oh! What just happened?" He looked around.

Edalyn's aura roared to life, like a roaring ocean around her. "We're being attacked," she seethed out. Pel's eyes grew round and he held on to his pack protectively.

An unsettling growl shook the ground around them, and something large pounced from the trees behind them. Railyn shined his flashlight over to it, but all he could see were red eyes and a vague form of some kind of large feline-like beast. It looked like it was sucking all the light from around them. It hissed at them.

Railyn gulped. "A Voidborn."
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Wed Jul 20, 2022 6:18 am
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HarryHardy says...


in collaboration with @SilverNight

Safi walked silently next to her new friend? Was it too early to think that? They'd barely talked for like five minutes and only knew each others names. She didn't even know Kynina's last name. What she did know was that her face was currently displaying a level of color she didn't think was possible. She thought she'd reached peak embarrassment the first time she'd met Siobhan and had promptly fallen flat on her face, but this had gotten closer to beating that one out before thankfully the conversation had switched smoothly enough to a less tripping over her own feet direction.

Trying not to think too much of that particular scenario, Safi took the moment of chaos as they neared the Zenith tower to try and make sure her bow was actually ready to use and stowed away in a way that wasn't just her clutching it and the quiver in her hand like a bag full of trash. That particular form of holding her weapon felt like it would inspire the wrong kind of image in the people who'd be present at orientation even if Safi didn't end up having to actually use the thing. Postponing her thoughts about that for later, she busied herself with getting her bow ready to go.

She started by stuffing her bow and its string and other parts hap hardly under her armpit as she got a hold of her quiver with both hands. The quiver was thankfully resistant to damage from Safi's poor handling so she quickly just patted it down to remove the random lint it had picked up stuffed into her suitcase, making the white leather shine ever so slightly from the magic running through it. It was a top of the line model that her mother had customised herself, allowing the already scratch, tear and almost everything resistant bag to hold about twice the number of arrows it appeared to be able to, while keeping it relatively light. Safi had asked for it not to be completely weightless because otherwise she was going to forgot it was even there and that would be bad. Before she slung it over, she activated the tiny crystal that allowed it to link with her bow to display how many arrows it had left and ran a finger down one of the fifty hand crafted arrows in it. They were so beautiful that in the past four years of using this set, she'd only lost one. She made sure she hunted down every last one, even though as she'd found out when one had been completely unable to find reducing her to tears, a replacement one would arrive in approximately two hours.

Hoping that whatever went down with this orientation would not have her lose any of them, she slung the quiver over her shoulder, the strap fitting around her like a glove from the time she'd spent four hours the first time she got it just making sure it fit her perfectly. She grabbed her bow out of its stashed location, stringing it as quickly as she dared. She'd practiced down this countless times, but standing up was an entirely different position to do it in and system that was installed in the thing to fire as powerfully as bows twice its size wasn't the simplest to put in place in a rush.

Somehow or the other she managed it however, as the last of the pulleys installed into it managed to snap into its designated place without her accidentally doing something monumentally stupid like strange herself on her own bowstring. She did want a repeat of the time she'd gone to the archery range with Siobhan and Kiera. Okay so maybe the strangling had more to with how long she'd spent staring at Kiera's abs. She deleted that thought before it could conjure up any images. She was red enough as it was. No need to test the limits of the human body in that particular function.

Done, Safiana gave her bow a quick wave, testing how it swung through the air. It all seemed to be holding together well enough for the moment. She touched up the crystal connecting to her quiver. It flashed a warm blue 50, indicating that was working well. She tested out the staff mode for a second, giving the bow a couple of experimental twirls well away from the crowd around her to ensure that her blades were extending properly and her string was disengaging when needed. Her bow appeared to be in proper working order. Running a finger lovingly down the main handstock where she'd engraved the name she'd come up "Sadahagindara". Eternal Flame. Not a lot of people seemed to get why she'd named her bow that, but she was proud of it, and for learning that language well enough to use it like this.

She was broken out of admiring the bow when she realized the orientation speech was going to start soon. Slinging it over her back along with the quiver Safi turned towards the headmistress.

"Do you think the headmistress is going to explain why we had to keep our weapons," whispered Safi tentatively hoping the girl next to her would hear. She didn't want to be loud and end up being singled out for talking in what was probably an important speech.

"Possibly?" Kynina whispered back. "She's probably going to have a lot of topics to get to, and most of them likely won't be that interesting."

"Umm...," said Safi, torn between agreeing knowing full well that half the jargon people had to announce at these things were boring and not wanting to be caught saying exactly that. "Yeah some of the topics are going to be...stilted. But I'm sure she'll have some important information too. Maybe."

"We could bet on it maybe? If there's an interesting talking point within the first five minutes I will buy you a soda."

Safi chuckled. "Now you sound like my brother." Lyn was very good at coming up with bets to avoid both of them falling asleep at the ultra boring parties. "And" She offered her hand.

Kynina shook it. "And since I expect I'll be winning this bet, I should let you know I don't like any lemon-flavored sodas," she said with a grin. "Just to make things easier when we wake up from taking a snooze through this and you have to scramble to the store."

"Someone's confident," said Safi, laughing a bit. She was going to take losing a bet if it meant she could stop looking like a freshy ripened cherry tomato. "But yeah you do have the odds in your favor. I don't usually win most of the bets I make with my brother."

Was it just her, or did Kynina blink confusedly at the word 'confident'? If she had, there was no trace of surprise in her voice when she asked, "Is he a trickster?"

"No, he's just...well its not him really...I just...I am bad at saying no sometimes," said Safi, "he's very good at convincing me to do things."

Kynina clicked her tongue. "I don't have siblings, but it seems like it's an interesting thing for those who do."

"Ohh," said Safi, "and always hate your siblings like its a universal law until they do something incredibly nice and you just realize you can't do without them." There was a very fond smile on her face as she said it before she realized she'd been taking almost exclusively about herself for a while now. " the effort to not fall asleep, tell me a bit more about yourself. I think we've talked about me enough for now."

Kynina paused. "I can do that, but it's probably easiest if you ask questions. What kind of things would you like to know?"

Safi thought back to her thoughts from a bit earlier. "Let's start simple...last name...unless for some reason you don't like sharing it?" She added the last bit just in case. It wasn't uncommon for people to not use their last name when introducing themselves but most of the time there was a good reason behind it.

Kynina chewed on her lip, then stopped, as if it was a bad habit she was trying to get rid of. "No, it's fine. The last name's Fallon."

"Oooh, that seems somehow fitting for you," said Safi, "reminds me of talon. Hmm..oh gosh I am bad at this. Usually everyone I talk to just wants to go on about how awesome they are and how much better they are. This is a nice change..but I must think...Hmm...oooh..what made you chose Lux Academy?"

"It..." For once, Kynina was the one trailing off uncertainly. "I don't know, it was unique and what I needed."

"That seems reasonable," said Safi. It sounded a bit like the practiced answers people gave when they didn't want to let too much on but something about the uncertainty in the tone made Safi wonder if anyone had ever asked Kynina that question or if she'd had more than one school to chose from. Before she could ask further the headmistress started speaking. "I guess we have to listen now."

"For as long as we can," Kynina agreed. "Five minutes starts now."

"I have years of experience at this, but I suppose me being awake to hear it isn't going to make something interesting," said Safi.

"Speeches are--" the girl waved her hand. "--difficult to make interesting, as someone who's made a few."

"Ooooh cool...I just do...not have the will to do those....I only had to do like two and just....I...cannot. My father explicitly said jokes would not be received well and that removed like 95% of my material," said Safi. "Apparently they do not appreciate puns in announcements of the heir to a business."

Kynina laughed, then clapped a hand over the mouth so the sound didn't travel too far. "That's such a shame. Puns are wonderful."

"I know right! " said Safi, "they need to incorporate them into so much more. I think the only reason they haven't is honestly because half of them don't know enough to make a good pun and they're afraid of being left behind."

She gasped. "They're dragging you down with them."

"Yes," said Safi, "you feel my pain. I thank you." She let out a giggle at the end as she did a mock bow.

There was a small and maybe wistful smirk on Kynina's face. "It's annoying when that happens," she said. "Like, obviously puns aren't a super serious matter, but family can get really upset when you have a chance at something that they don't."

Safi somehow sensed that last part was a little bit more loaded than it sounded but she did her best not to let that show. "Yeah that's one of the worse things you see in those meetings. My..." She trailed off. Gushing about how her brother had been helpful with the opportunity she got was maybe not the right direction for this particular conversation.

Kynina didn't miss it. "Everything okay?"

"Yeah," said Safi, "I shouldn't ramble too much. Soo...are those five minutes up yet? My chances are looking horrible aren't they?"

Kynina blinked, looking back to the stage like she'd forgotten all about it. "Damn, yeah. Looks like you'll have to find a vending machine."

"Well...I will verily do exactly that once this speech is done. It looks like we're close to the end here," said Safi.

She let out an exaggerated sigh of relief. "Well, thank goodness."

Safi tried to frown. "No need to rub it in." The smile that followed completely ruined the effect however.

Kynina grinned, and then suddenly there was applause as the Headmaster completed her speech and left the stage. Afterwards, the students began reaching in their bags, pulling out blankets, or leaving to search the ground for an open spot. "Oh. Uh, she said something about bedding and sleeping here, didn't she?"

"Yeah..." said Safi slowly. "Oh dear. I should have seen this coming when my mother insisted I back some but...." Safi did her best to hide the slight shudder at the thought of staying out here in the dark with absolutely everyone else. "Oh well."

"I see. Your mother thinks ahead a lot. Well I will just go get some for myself,' said Kynina standing up.

"I'll save a spot?" Saif said tentatively, wondering if she was being a bit too forward there.

Kynina flashed her a thumbs up and walked off.
Stay Safe
The Prince of Darkness

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winterwolf0100 says...


Written with @Omni

Thane lay in the dark, staring up at the ceiling far above, knuckle knives next to her. Murmurs around her echoed through the room, people wondering what was happening, the bombast of rich brats angry that they weren't set up in their rooms yet, a few of the younger ones who were scared to be out on their own for the first time. Thane didn't speak up in any of the conversations droning on all around her, conversations of "where are you from?" "Who's your family?" "What's your magic strong suit?" A few people talked about the essays they'd written to get into Lux Academy, some discussed their private tutors who had helped them.

Thane wondered what that was like-- to have enough money for someone to privately tutor you. She never would've gotten into the school with an essay; she'd dropped out of school at the age of ten, when Oya had died and Slone had gone missing. She was certain she wouldn't have known how to spell half the words she would've needed to, or where to even start with creating an essay. The only vague memories she had of that were the introduction, the three idea paragraphs, and the conclusion-- and even that memory was incredibly fuzzy.

"Ugh, I can't believe we're stuck here," someone said loudly, and Thane readjusted the pillow under her head, trying to slow her breaths to force herself to sleep. Her mind stayed settled on the buzzing talk of admittance and essays as it drifted back to how she'd gotten here.

She knew why she'd been admitted. She'd been in the ring, several months ago, fighting someone who didn't look like they should still be in the child rings at all. They'd been exceptional, one of the harder battles in recent years. Thane had dozens of scars from younger matches, the ones where she'd been less sure, less experienced. At an older age though, it was rare that she got injured enough to receive any scars from it, though she always came away from a night of matches with at least a few minor injuries. The girl had been cunning, clearly professionally trained, all her movements clean and sharp and precise. Thane had been drenched with sweat, blood dripping down her arms and onto the ground; she had to focus not to slip on it. And the girl had watched, her breathing quick even though she was ahead, as if she were scared, not sure of what she was doing.

Thane narrowed her eyes, wiping away a drop of sweat making its way down to her chin absent-mindedly. This girl was good-- way better than anyone she would've expected to see in the child rings. Had she lied about her age? She looked young, certainly, but under eighteen? Most definitely not. How had she managed to get in here? They weren't strict out of concern for the children, but kids were paid more money, and the boss was always careful not to give more money than he had to. Had she bribed one of the guards? The cash-out man? The boss himself?

The girl moved forward, daggers moving fast through the air. That was another thing-- the daggers were nice, expensive, leather handles and top-notch blades. It made no sense for this girl to be in the ring, and Thane tried to stay focused on the match even as it bothered her. She deflected both daggers, metal sparking against metal on her knuckle knives and making awful screeching noises as Thane threw her forcefully the other way, using the girl's force against her. She stumbled out of the way, nearly slipping but catching herself as she turned around again to come at her again.

And that's when Thane saw it-- the girl's weakness. For how well the girl was trained, Thane was surprised it had taken her that long to notice it. And that's when she knew this girl wasn't from around here. She was incredibly good at clean and quick moves, but she couldn't improvise for the life of her. She was following patterns, strategies. If Thane could figure out the order, she could break it and throw her into chaos. And so that's what she did.

By the time all-in was called, the girl was slowing rapidly, worn from how many times Thane had come at her. The black fog, rolled with green, encompassed her, and Thane swore she could hear an audible yelp of surprise and fear as she moved quickly and fiercely through it towards her. And before she knew it, the knuckle-knife was at the girl's neck.

"Yield!" Thane pushed the blade against her neck. The girl yelped, breaths sharp and erratic. Thane did not move. "Yield!" The girl's breaths sounded more panicked, but she did nothing.

"Put your aura up," Thane said quietly, not moving a muscle, still pushing the knife against her neck. "Put your aura up!"

The girl watched her, panicked and confused. "I don't--" she choked as blood began to trickle down her neck.

"In a straight line above you, put your aura up NOW," Thane growled.

The girl finally did so, her aura wavering slightly like she wasn't used to keeping it in such a narrow line. Thane finally stood, hearing the cheers and rattling on the metal cage as she turned away and walked to her exit without bothering to see if the girl got up. She walked into the back hallway, slipping her knuckle knives into her belt and going into the locker room set up for her, beginning to meticulously and emotionlessly wipe the blood off herself. And then the door opened behind her, no knocking, no anything.

Thane whirled around, ready to punch whoever had slipped in hard-- and froze when she saw it was the girl. "What are you doing here?" Thane asked, a sharp edge to her voice.

The girl paused, then gave a weak smile. "Good match." She was holding her neck with one hand, like she might bleed out if she didn't-- which was stupid, since Thane had barely nicked her.

Thane watched her with her eyes narrowed. "What are you doing back here?" She repeated.

"I just came to say--" the girl paused. "I came to say that you fight really good, and your hold over your magic is... it's amazing," she admitted.

Thane studied her face, trying to figure out what she was playing at. "Thanks," she said slowly. "Now get out. Your exit is on the other side of the cage."

"I know," the girl said quickly, "but I just... listen. I think you could make it at Lux Academy." She whispered, like she was sharing a secret.

Thane stared at her, eyes narrowed. She'd thought of Lux, of the God crystals and what she could do with one, but their only admissions was an essay and a general description of someone's hold on magic, along with someone trained signing off on their skill. She could never craft an essay good enough to even be looked at, let alone get someone formally trained to sign off in support of her.

"Thanks," she said shortly, "but they don't admit based on magic. They do it based on power and wealth." She turned to the mirror, grabbing a towel and wetting it quickly before using it to get all the blood on her arms, some of it dried from earlier fights.

"I could get you in," the girl whispered. "Here, just--" She reached into her pocket and pulled out a piece of paper, then wrote her name on it and drew a complex symbol. "When you're filling out your application, do a paper one, and mail it in. Put all your personal information that they need, your name, magical focus, but don't include an essay, and don't have anyone sign off. Just put this piece of paper in the application too."

Thane frowned, slowly taking the paper and glancing at it, before looking back up at the girl suspiciously. Behind her, a knock came at the door, and Kamau's voice rang out. "Thane! Come on, we gotta get going."

The girl glanced back at the door, then said, "Just think about it." She nodded encouragingly, then opened the door and stepped out. Kamau stepped back in surprise, and she hurried around him and down the hallway towards the exit. Kamau looked back in the room, like he was making sure Thane wasn't dead. "Everything good? We need to talk to someone?" 'Did she threaten you?' was really what he was asking, but Thane didn't answer.

She looked down at the paper, her mind caught up in a swirl as the words spun around in her head. This random girl could get her in. And suddenly, she was wondering if she was really just someone looking for extra cash in the child rings at all-- was it possible she was some sort of... recruitment? Thane felt frozen in place.

"Thane?" Kamau repeated, stepping inside the room and moving towards her. "Thane, what happened?"

Thane slowly raised her head to look up at him, feeling breathless. "I'm going to Lux."

As Thane lay in the dark, hearing people talk about their essays and how good their tutors were, the memory replayed in her head, and she couldn't help but feel some rare sense of pride rise inside her. She was one of the few-- one of the few who had actually proven themselves to be here. She hadn't had rich parents who paid her way in, hadn't had a private tutor she studied with every day after school. She had done this on her own. She had clawed her way to the top. And as she drifted off to sleep, she smiled a little.


Thane woke up to the sound of quiet footsteps and immediately rolled on her side to grab her knuckle knives, her mind hazy and trying to figure out what was happening. She stayed laying low, not wanting to draw attention to herself, before everything clicked as she remembered the previous day. Train ride. Orientation. Lux. She let out a small, nearly silent breath of relief, and slowly sat up. The giant auditorium remained dark, filled with the sounds of soft breathing and a few snores.

A few adults, likely older students helping with orientation and setting everything up, moved through the room. Against one of the far walls, she saw tables being set up and others bringing in plates full of small on-the-go foods. Around her, it seemed like all the other students were still asleep, and she tried to get her bearings and lose her sleepiness quickly. They were clearly setting up for the day to begin soon, and she needed to clean her wounds before anyone else woke and wanted to use the bathroom.

Standing slowly, she felt the familiar ache of soreness from her fights yesterday morning. She didn't generally feel sore if she'd been fighting using magic, at least not physically, but given that it had been a purely physical fight yesterday morning, she was definitely feeling it. She fought the urge to immediately pull up her shirts-- she was still wearing multiple, seeing as she hadn't been able to fit everything in her bag-- and check how the bruises on her torso were doing. An afternoon of riding the train had almost certainly also not helped the situation, and she tried not to wince as she walked to the table with the food and grabbed a water bottle. The adults glanced at her, but didn't say anything, likely just surprised she was awake. She walked back towards the other side of the room towards the bathroom, making sure to keep her posture straight and breathe slowly through the pain.

Once she was in the bathroom and the door was closed, she finally allowed herself an audible hiss and let out a slow breath. She set down the water bottle on the counter and began to unwrap the bandages around her hands. She'd need to hurry-- the bathroom was a shared one, which meant anyone could walk in whenever they wanted and see her at the sinks. She set the bandages down gently, studying the cuts on her hands to make sure they weren't infected before opening the water bottle and gently pouring water over each. She wasn't going to take any chances. She grimaced at the sting, but it was hardly the worst she'd felt and after a second she set the water bottle down. Turning the bandages over, she began to slowly wrap them around her hands again. Since she didn't have any clean bandages with her-- they were in her bag, wherever the hell that was now-- reapplying these was the best she could do. The cuts were small and likely wouldn't get infected after a day of being wrapped, but they would still hurt grabbing things. The bandages would help lessen the pain.

And now for the real test... Thane gently unraveled the bandages wound up her left arm, unveiling the burns and wincing slightly. She paused for a moment, taking in a few deep breaths, before she ever so slowly began to tilt the water bottle over her arm, pouring a small but steady stream over the burns. She grit her teeth and clenched her fists, feeling her heart speed up at the sharp itching pain that spread like fire up her arm. She hadn't had a chance to get any burn ointment, so the best she could do right now was try to make sure they weren't infected and suck it up. But gods, it hurt so bad... for a second her breath caught in her throat and she struggled not to make a noise. She didn't want to wake anyone up or draw attention to herself.

Blinking a few times, she rolled her neck before setting the water bottle down hard on the counter. After a moment's pause, she picked up the bandages from her burns. She wouldn't want to rewrap them in the same thing if there were any sort of leakage. Thankfully, there wasn't-- she wasn't sure what she would've or could've done if there was-- and she began to slowly, loosely wind the bandages back around her arm. The burns itched and flamed at the touch of the cloth, but Thane tried her best to ignore it and gently continued until they were completely back on, tucking the end into one of the earlier rounds to make the bandages stick. Finally, she turned to look at the mirror, frowning as she took in her own appearance, before beginning to inch her shirts up to look at the damage underneath.

It was a mess. Greens, purples going on black, yellowed at the edges, spread all across her stomach and spiderwebbing all the way up to her chest. Her black eye looked all the more noticeable after a full day of developing, especially when the faded marks encircling her eyes were so light from not using her magic yet today, and she felt carefully along her stomach to make sure none of her ribs were cracked. It hadn't felt like they were, but she let out a soft sigh at the confirmation that they weren't. That was good. Her fingers drifted lightly over the bruises as she watched herself in the mirror, then gently pushed in, trying to gauge how much it hurt in certain places and gritting her teeth a little.

Thane felt the air pressure in the bathroom change as someone opened the door-- she was no longer alone. She haphazardly shoved her shirts down and turned her vision to the intruder, as Headmistress Fea brushed her hands over the trashcan by the entrance and tore some paper towels from the dispenser.

They both froze momentarily as Fea noticed her. Headmistress Fea was the first to move. She smiled and sauntered over to the sinks, her heels clacking on the tile floor. "I didn't expect a student to be up so early," she observed.

"Force of habit," Thane said softly. She watched Headmistress Fea's reflection in the mirror carefully.

Fea smiled softly. "A light sleeper, then? I am, too. Although I assume yours is out of necessity." She plopped her small purse on the counter and plucked out a vial of lipstick.

Thane stayed quiet, frowning slightly as Fea began to apply her lipstick. The presumption based on Thane's appearance alone that she came from a place of hardship put her on edge; was it the fact that she was somehow underdressed, or was it just an air about her? It was something Thane could feel too-- just a glance at someone, and no matter how nice they looked, you could see it in their posture, their face, their magic. Was there something like that about herself too, something that set her apart visibly as much as she already felt separate?

Fea chuckled and set down the lipstick, aligning it perfectly perpendicular to the counter edge. "Relax, I am not going to hurt you." She leaned into the mirror, fixing her bottom lip. "If I wanted to see you suffer, I would have just left you to rot in Arelinor." With that, she let her eyes settle on Thane for just a moment before she busied herself with fixing her lipstick again.

Thane kept a blank face, even as her mind went over her words and swirled around the possibilities, including the ridiculously insulting idea that the only reason she was here was that this woman had dredged her up from the gutter, even though now that she thought on it, she knew it was more and more possible. She'd assumed the girl had some sort of inside person at the academy, but she hadn't considered it was something the headmistress would be fully aware of. Was it even legal for them to send their own students into underground rings like that? And still, the anger at the implication that Thane hadn't dragged herself up herself, ring after ring, to even be involved in a higher-paying fight where she was noticed, built inside her. She kept her face empty.

"You sent her," Thane said quietly.

"You'll have to elaborate, but I'll tell you this: you're quite good at concealing your emotions." Fea pulled out an eyeliner pencil. "It's a solid survival tactic." She closed one eye as the pencil neared the other. "Does a number on one's emotional growth, though."

Thane wasn't sure what to say to that, so she stayed quiet, watching Fea put the eyeliner on with a sense of growing dissatisfaction. She didn't understand the point of that. Maybe she would've been interested even remotely in it as a child if she hadn't seen the prices of the small containers of makeup. That had turned her off to any ideas she'd had quickly enough.

Fea set the eyeliner pencil next to the lipstick and did one last look at herself in the mirror. Then she turned to Thane. "You see, I know all students who apply at my university. It is my job to do so. I know every preppy little rich kid from Glinthaven to the pit fighter in Arelinor. You may not like it, Thane Mathai, but I know you. I know you will do anything to survive, but I am not here to tell you what it takes to survive in this world, or to succeed in life. I am here to help you thrive." She stepped closer to Thane. "Some of those kids out there? They do not have what it takes to be in my Academy. They'll find out soon enough, but there are a certain few I know have what it takes to become a Lux Academy student, and perhaps even more." Headmistress Fea gestured to Thane's exposed bandages. "Tell me, Thane. Do you want to survive? Or do you want to thrive?"

Thane re-adjusted her cloak, pulling it farther forward to cover her left arm and straightening her shoulders. She wasn't about to be bullied into submission, no matter what position of power the woman held over her. "You know me," Thane said quietly, looking up to look the woman directly in her eyes with a serious face. "Take a guess."

Headmistress Fea accepted her gaze, something turmoiling behind them. Then she smiled softly, a hint of crow's feet poking out underneath her makeup. She said nothing, just nodding her head. She then picked up her things, stuffing them back into her purse. As she walked to the door, she stopped just before exiting. "Oh, by the way?" She turned to glance back at Thane, "if you wish, any one of my staff outside will take your extra clothing to your dorm. I heard it's not quite the weather for extra layers today." With that, she click-clacked her way out of the restroom.

Thane watched her leave silently, her mind still caught up in everything that had just happened. Somehow, she felt as if standing up to her had been the right thing, the thing she wanted Thane to do. It conflicted with her slight anger at the headmistress' sense of righteousness or responsibility for Thane being there, even though she knew it was true. She would not be here if she had not fought that girl and been given that paper. She considered Fea's offer to get rid of several layers of clothing-- somehow, Thane had the feeling that she was hinting at something besides the weather, and almost without thinking, she felt herself unclipping her cloak, laying it on the counter, and pulling off two shirts, then two pairs of loose pants. She felt lighter and cooler already, and pulled her cloak back around her, clipping it in the front again, the extra clothes now held in her arms.

She glanced back at the door one more time, then turned to the counter and grabbed her water bottle before opening the door and walking out. The noise of people shifting in their sleep filled the room, the soft whispers of adults setting things up, and Thane walked quietly towards the nearest adult, who was not so subtly watching Thane's trip across the room. She handed the clothes to them wordlessly and moved back to her mat, rolling it up quickly and folding the blanket on top of it. She stood back up and walked to the tables of food, grabbing several pieces of bacon and a bag of trail mix-- they would help get her energy up-- and with that, she walked out of the doors and onto the fresh-cut grass.

3,781 words
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)

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winterwolf0100 says...


It was dark, the stars and moon beginning to fade overhead, and Thane slowly eased her way onto the ground, careful not to strain anything. She'd need to stretch everything out soon, after eating and before anyone else began to wander out here. She set her knuckle knives on the grass beside her and slowly munched on a piece of bacon, staring out at the dark, overwhelming sea. She hadn't seen this much water since-- well, ever-- and the menacing way the waves crashed against the cliffside, with fury and emotion and sobs of heartbreak, unsettled her deeply in a way nothing had since she'd arrived here so far. The cleanness and otherness of the city had disturbed her slightly, but this force of nature, so uncontrollable and black as night, unseeable and unknowable, was terrifying.

She could see it in her mind, even from yards and yards away, the image of her standing near that cliff, hearing the waves crashing below, the slip into salty water, drowning in blindness and fear-- a pulsing, uncontrollable fear, that fear of not being able to make a difference, of being dragged back into that water anyway, of drowning in her own blood in a cage while people laughed and cheered and hollered, of dying as her energy was drained little by little chained and starved in some upper's house and nobody knowing where she went, just gone, just gone and no way to tell if she was alive, of being found dead in an alley strangled by a gang of anti-mages, body bruised and beaten and hardly recognizable but still they could tell, her siblings could tell it was her from her scars and her wounds and that face that used to smile and tuck her into bed and now it was splattered with blood but they could tell anyway from the stench of her dead aura rotting in the stale air, image after image after image, and her eyes flickered as she watched the sea wordlessly but her mouth stopped moving, the bacon desolving to bitter saltiness in her mouth, the stench of Oya's blood in the alleyway, of her aura, gods, it had been so strong, damp dirt and that smell of something sizzling and burnt, filling her nostrils and choking her. And somehow, the understanding seized her-- that this sea was everything she had ever fought against, not because of what the sea was, but because of the pitch-blackness of it all. Because of what it could be, when drowning in the dark night. Because of who or what could be hiding there, ready to snatch her inside. She felt the childish impulse to move backwards, scoot away from the water, even though she knew how far away she already was. She suppressed it and took another bite of bacon.

Would Kamau and Moran be waking about now? Likely not, Thane knew reasonably. They'd likely thrown themselves into the rings again last night as soon as she'd been off. They would've been out late, and they'd be sleeping as much as they could. It helped with healing in a way that didn't drain your aura too much. Technically, anyone could heal theirself with their aura to speed up the normal process, but as Thane had grown older, she realized how senseless it was unless the injury was extremely serious. It spent a ridiculous amount of your energy and aura, and even though she'd gotten used to expending every last inch of her aura, it still took time to rebuild-- time she didn't have going into the ring every day.

Movement out of the corner of her eye caught her attention, and she watched as several adults carried a small wooden platform from a different building, a white skirt hanging around it, and began to set it up near the edge of the ground, near the sea. She took it all in silently, opening the bag of trail mix and dumping a handful of mixed nuts into her mouth. After finishing all her food, she slowly began her stretches, trying to work on all the muscles she could feel hurting inside her and hoping it would loosen them up for whatever would happen today. She had the feeling it would be something big. Slowly, the sky began to lighten as the sun reached the edge of the horizon, casting a warm calmness over the sea. In the light, when the water turned to soft blues, it didn't seem nearly as capable of drowning her.

Small pieces of conversation began to drift out into the lawn as students woke up, grabbing breakfast and making their way outside. Thane took in a deep breath, then pulled her hood over her head and pushed herself to her feet, arms crossed as she stood facing the stage. It didn't take long; within fifteen minutes of the first students waking and wandering outside, the adults had woken everyone else and rushed them out the door. Thane watched as Headmistress Fea walked across the lawn towards the stage, then climbed the stairs. A few adults fidgeted with a microphone before placing it in front of her.

"Good morning, first years!" She yelled, and her voice screeched loudly through all the speakers as she smiled. Thane couldn't tell if it was fake or not. "I hope you are all well rested. Apologies for the sleeping situation of last night, it's just, well, we've been lying to you."

Murmurs broke out all around Thane but she stayed quiet, studying Fea seriously as she smiled at the commotion she had caused.

"You see, you aren't first years," Fea said, almost too cheerfully for the words she was saying. "You're not even students at Lux Academy. Not. Yet." She spread her arms widely and adults began moving through the crowd, handing out something Thane couldn't see over all the bodies. People were muttering furiously at each other, indignant whispers they were too scared to say aloud. Thane took a small backpack silently from an adult and shouldered it underneath her cloak, eyes still nailed to Fea.

"Listen, listen to me, students," Fea said, raising her voice into the microphone to try to control the crowd. "We lied about your dorms not being ready, and we've been lying to you since you received our acceptance letters. You are not students at Lux Academy yet, and for some of you, this will be the last time you step on our campus grounds as a prospective student. You see, this is not an orientation. This is an initiation."

Thane could feel the fear and anger spike up in everyone around her, but a sense of calm seemed to wash over her instead, a sense of relief, even, knowing that these rich pricks couldn't be admitted just on money and an essay. They'd need to prove themselves, just like the rest of them.

On the stage, Headmistress Fea raised a single gloved hand and snapped-- blazing blue light sparked between her fingertips as the ground began to shake. Thane finally tore her eyes away from Fea to look around at the buildings. The Aethyr Crystal rotated, shining brightly in the light and making it hard to look at directly without hurting her eyes. The light shot out from the crystal and into the sea, steam rolling off towards the land in waves and making the air hazier. And that's when the sea split in two.

It happened suddenly, like the waves began to push each other backwards, hard and furious and cold, and in the suddenly exposed space, a mass of land began to rise slowly, so tall that as it rose it reached the height of the buildings on campus, a large cage and seemingly no bottom inside it, the metal dripping with water as the semi-circular mass seemed to click into place to complete the circle of the campus-- except it wasn't land. All Thane could see was the caged roof extending downwards into rising steam and dead darkness.

"Oh, don't give me those sad faces," Fea said, and Thane heard her only distantly, her mind focused and buzzing about the cage. "Did you really think you could get into The Battle Academy in Rupturia, known for molding the greatest warriors, mages, and scholars of their generations, just by filling out a simple essay?"

Terrified whispers spread through the students like wildfire, but Thane just studied the cage, filling with a confident calmness as the situation sank in. This was her speed. This was what she was made to do. She could feel her respect for Lux Academy slowly rising, the fact that even if a rich upper's parent paid for their child to be "accepted", they couldn't pay their way through this. They couldn't pay their way through brute force and talent. It gave her a vicious sense of satisfaction, even if logically she knew she was about to be in danger somehow. She was used to this. She would figure it out.

"Inside," Fea continued, "are monsters from The Fracture's first moments, captured by the founders of this school to make the best warriors this land has ever seen. Look amongst yourselves. There are many of you here, but not all of you are Lux Academy Material."

Thane kept her eyes straight forward, focused on Fea. Fea inhaled, like she was taking the moment in. "Prospective students. Your goal is to obtain one of the thirty-six relics hidden deep within this structure." She twisted her fingers and a crystal appeared, floating above her hand like a miniature Aethyr Crystal. "Find one of these and escape with it, and your place is solidified at Lux Academy. Fail to do that, and you are gone. Oh, and, students?"

Thane breathed in deeply, straightening her shoulders. She could feel the electricity in the air, the strong pulsing of magic about to be set loose-- she braced herself.

Fea gave a small smile, and Thane bent her legs slightly, ready for whatever was about to slam her into the cage somehow. Find a crystal. Get there before anyone else. "Try to survive," Fea finished. She snapped her fingers and the ground fell from beneath Thane's feet. And the next thing she knew, she was plummeting into darkness.

1,713 words
And when the day shifts to night,
The wild wolf calls to me,
And I am not afraid.
I fear the darkness far more than I fear his claws


Pronouns are oVeRrAtEd (they/he/she)

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Thu Jul 21, 2022 8:44 pm
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Spearmint says...


Collaborated with @Omni

"Oh, um. Thanks... sorry I was in the way." Pel accepted his hand and then scooped up Rando and gave the other person an awkward smile.

"No worries! I should have been looking where I was going instead of sightseeing. Is that your frog?"

"Yeah, he's my brother's. His name's Rando." Pel shifted back and forth, sizing the other person up. He was probably another student, right?

"Cute name!" The other person flashed a smile. "Looks like he took the opportunity to sightsee as well!"

Pel laughed, then hesitated, unsure what to say next. He wasn't really used to interacting with people other than his family, but Pel figured he'd better learn if he was going to be spending the next few years at Lux. He took a breath and asked, "So... what's your name?"

"I'm Railyn! You can call me Ri, though, if you'd like." He held out a hand, but then laughed nervously. "I guess we've already shook hands technically."

Pel smiled. I can't tell whether those jokes are from nervousness or general outgoingness, but either way, I wish I could use humor as easily as that. "Well, it wasn't a proper handshake." He shook Ri's hand, then said, "I'm Aapeli, or Pel for short."

"Well, it's nice to meet you, Pel. Sorry for, you know, running into you. You a first year, too?"

"Yeah! I guess it's easy to tell, huh, by the way I'm gawking at everything. Also, don't apologize, I shouldn't have been standing and staring at the arenas like that." Pel looked around and realized that they'd been talking in the middle of the path, so he picked up his duffel bag. "We should probably make way for other students."

"Right, right!" Ri laughed and clapped Pel on the back. "Well, hopefully I'll see you around, Pel!"

"See you!" Pel smiled, a little less awkwardly this time, then placed Rando on his shoulder again and kept following the path. Phew... I didn't realize how exhausting it could be to interact with other students... Hopefully it gets easier over time. Pel hadn't walked more than a few steps, though, when he realized that Ri was going in the same direction.

"Haha, um, are you going to orientation too?" Pel tried to remain calm, despite his internal cringing from the awkwardness. If I think about it logically, I'll either hardly ever see him again, or we'll get to know each other enough that we'll forget about this... so it'll be okay, right? Unless we just become classmates and there's always that memory of awkwardness and... nope, shoo, go away bad thoughts.

"Oh, hey! Long time no see." Ri smiled at him as he pulled his trolley. "To be completely honest, I'm just going with the flow of traffic. They didn't really... give instructions, haha."

Well, instructions were something Pel could talk about. He internally sighed in relief at the conversation topic, and said, "Yeah, everything was so vague! I wish they'd given us step-by-step instructions, or even any instructions. Is this some kind of test, to see if we can figure things out on our own?"

"That's what I was thinking! Like, is this some kind of test? I should have put 'get's lost very easily' in my application."

Pel laughed. "I should've put 'greatly appreciates clear directions' on mine." He thought for a moment. Wait, should I have said directions or instructions? Which one's better? Ahh I'm going to overanalyze this, aren't I? But before he could think too much about it, Pel was distracted by the sights in front of them.

The Zenith Tower loomed above the two as they approached the crossroads. Other students with trolleys and luggage were arriving there and handing their baggage over to the Lux Academy volunteers, who were rushing around in a way that still seemed organized. There was a big sign tacked onto a table that said "Luggage Here." Well, there was a sign for that at least.

Pel walked over to the table and handed his backpack and duffel bag to the staff behind the sign, who said something about keeping his weapon on him at all times. That didn't apply to Pel, though, because the cranes he created with Symbology were his main weapons. After admiring the Zenith tower for a minute (it was so much taller than it'd seemed from the train), Pel looked over to where Ri was unloading his trolley.

"Hey, um, I think I'm going to head to orientation now. I can probably follow the other students, right? But it was nice meeting you!" Pel smiled and waved goodbye to Railyn.

After pausing a moment in front of the impressive doors to the Zenith Tower, Pel took a deep breath and stepped inside. When he eventually reached an auditorium, he gulped, a bit overwhelmed by the chatter of the crowd of students within. Pel wove his way between clumps of people, searching for a quieter space.

As he walked, he noticed quite a few students carrying weapons, and he suddenly felt very underprepared. I've really only practiced my Affinity on my own, and occasionally against a couple people from school. But no one had weapons like these... Pel ducked out of the way of a person holding a mace, and narrowly avoided bumping into a quiver of arrows. He gulped as he saw someone with a seriously scary two-handed battle axe.

Aapeli was relieved when he eventually ended up near a corner of the stage, where there were fewer people (and weapons). He stood there for a bit, holding on to Rando, who was definitely calmer than he was. Pel smiled at the frog, feeling a bit homesick already.

Before he could dwell on that too much, though, the room got dark and a spotlight illuminated the stage. Pel turned his full attention to the person at the microphone, who introduced herself as Headmistress Fea. As the Headmistress started her speech, Pel tuned out the chatter around him and tried to absorb all the information he could. He might not be the most experienced in battle, but he was a good student, and he would do all he could to take advantage of that.

And so Pel took mental notes as the Headmistress mentioned various donors who had helped expand first-year enrollment this year. He wondered how many of the students currently in the auditorium were descendants of those families, and he felt even more out of his place. I'm pretty sure it's only thanks to my essay-writing skills and decent Symbology that I'm here... Maybe I should've applied to Lyndira instead. There probably aren't as many scary weapon-wielding students there, right? But it was too late to change anything now, so Aapeli nodded along as Headmistress Fea thanked the students for applying to Lux Academy. She mentioned again what a prestigious academy it was, and Pel couldn't help but feel genuinely excited at that. Whatever happened with the battle part of Lux Academy, it'd nevertheless be a great opportunity to learn Symbology and Potioncrafting and get world-class training with his Affinity.

When the Headmistress eventually finished her speech, announced the sleepover, and abruptly walked off stage, Pel stood there for a second. He wondeed if this was a typical thing that happened at universities, though judging by the dismayed chatter around him, he guessed not.

Pel started looking around for... actually, he wasn't quite sure. A guide to sleepovers, maybe? The first one he'd had was quite uneventful... he'd gone to sleep at nine. (Though apparently that wasn't a common sleepover thing to do?) Somehow he doubted this time would be the same, if only because of the sheer number of students who'd likely be talking into the night.

Suddenly Pel caught sight of Railyn making his way towards him through the crowd, and he sighed in relief at the friendly face. Despite their somewhat-awkward interaction earlier, Pel figured it was better to stick to people he somewhat knew, at least until he could start attending classes where he'd be in his element.

Then he was briefly introduced to a girl named Eda, and Ri tried to cheer him up by slapping him with a pillow (which was, like, ow! But also a nice gesture). Soon enough, Pel settled into the bedroll and slipped into his dreams.


Aapeli woke up just as a few other students were starting to stir. After taking a moment to reorient himself, he got up carefully and picked up Rando, who croaked quietly. "Alright..." Pel whispered. "Let's see if we can get some insects or something for you."

Pel slipped out the auditorium doors and onto the grassy lawn outside. In the soft dawn light, he could make out a figure gazing at the ocean from one side of the lawn. But Aapeli decided to head in the other direction; he wasn't feeling quite awake enough for social interaction yet.

While Rando flicked out his tongue to catch a couple of flies, Pel took a few deep breaths, soaking in the quiet of the early morning. It was surprisingly peaceful. At least, until his stomach rumbled, and Pel figured he should head inside for breakfast as well.

As he wandered back to where he'd slept, Pel noticed the other adults waking students up, saying something about the Headmistress giving a speech outside. He shook Railyn awake and they grabbed breakfast, then headed outside.

Pel's spirits sank lower and lower as the speech continued. What did the Headmistress mean about this not being an orientation, but an initiation? What did initiations at Lux Academy entail? Aapeli started trembling when the Headmistress snapped her fingers and caused the ocean to split and a cage to rise. He had a bad feeling about this.

Then the Headmistress dropped her hand and said, "Oh, don't give me those sad faces. Did you really think you could get into The Battle Academy in Rupturia, known for molding the greatest warriors, mages, and scholars of their generations, by just filling out a simple essay?"

Pel grimaced. Um, yeess? I was hoping that, at least. But of course, I should've known better.

Aapeli peeked inside the backpack they'd handed out, and he started trembling harder. Were they going to be tested on their wilderness survival skills? He read the inscription on the whistle-- "For extreme emergencies ONLY"-- and gulped. Whatever the initiation was, it sounded like it'd be life-threatening or something...

With shaking hands, Pel placed Rando in the pack for safekeeping, then tried to focus on the Headmistress. She displayed a jewel, and with a couple of chilling last words, she snapped her fingers. Pel dropped into darkness, too shocked to scream.

(1781 words)
mint, she/her =D

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Fri Jul 22, 2022 8:20 pm
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Teddybear says...


Ezra clutched their bow to their chest as they fell. They weren't a student yet. The thrumming of their heart in their ears threatened to drown out their whirring thoughts.

Deep breath.

Dim light reached up through the black, and Ezra reached back. Their aura mingled with the fog of moonlight and tightened around it. As Ezra hit the changed light, it was like falling through a million cobwebs, like dropping into loose stuffing. The mass of broken light cushioned their fall when they finally hit the ground, and they rolled to their feet.

They heard the impact as someone landed nearby, and the soft groan as they tried to get up. The slick stones shine in the yellowish light, illuminating the broken remains of a city. Crumbling structures loomed about them, the tallest of the remaining structures being hardly taller than Ezra, but still seeming to cast shadows that were long and wide and all-encompasing. Standing in their shade, a chill ran up Ezra's spine. This place didn't welcome the disturbance.

They took a steadying breath and hunched down, slinking through the ruins. If they were in someone else's shoes, another, more desperate student's shoes, they would consider sabotaging the other recruits. Ezra couldn't, and wouldn't, trust the others not to be so dishonorable. They clipped their quiver to their hip and held their bow at their side, ready if someone tried something.

There was a skittering nearby, the soft tap of quick footsteps which faded into the ruins. The other student was gone.

Ezra moved as quietly as they could, glancing around every corner, moving every somewhat moveable piece of rubble, looking for a crystal to no avail. There was little to be found but rubble, and by now the students were so spread throughout the arena that there was hardly a soul to be found.

What felt like hours passed like this, the distant sounds of commotion and battle occasionally driving Ezra to circle around to another section of the city. They were skirting the edge when they finally met another soul. A group of three peeled out of the shadows, weapons clutched threateningly in ready hands. They were lean with muscle and dressed in expensive-looking workout clothes, some even looking like disguised armor. They'd been ready.

Ezra clutched their bow. They'd gotten too close already, but if need be the bow could be used for blugeoning.

"You got a crystal yet?" one of them said conversationally. The others were fanning out, surrounding Ezra.

"Not yet." The light was still dim, but a little brighter in this patch right between the edge of the city and the start of the forest, probably the brightest it got, being as close to the lamps as one seemed to be able to get without being in heavy shade.

"Shame. You mind if we take a look at your pack? Teamwork makes the dream work, you know."

Ezra's hand hovered casually by their quiver. The speaker's eyes darted down at it, then back to Ezra's face with a grin. "Not really the teamwork type then?"

The others shot forward only to collide with a wall of light like glass. Ezra pushed their aura out, forcing the others back as they nocked an arrow and released, narrowly missing the speaked who dove out of the way and rolled to their feet to Ezra's right.

The speaked charged forward, swinging their hatchet at Ezra's chest. They withdrew their aura and solidified it just in time for the mace to collide with hardened light, deflecting the blade, but shattering in time for the flat side to hit them in the chest. Ezra stumbled clumsily backward but maintained their footing well enough to nock another arrow and release. This one, by dumb luck alone, hit the speaker just below the knee.

They screamed in pain and dropped.

The other two advanced at once, one with a short sword to their left, dual daggers to their right. Ezra dodged, narrowly missing the point of the sword only for pain to erupt from their ribs. They whirled, biting back a scream as their vision went white. A scream ripped through the night, then another. Ezra reached for their wound and met steel, lodged in their side at an odd angle.

The third attacker was on their feet again and readying their hatchet to throw. Ezra didn't think, just loosed an arrow. Time slowed as they watched it fly. They must have been off, leaning toward their wound. They hadn't been aiming for their throat.

Numbness washed over them. The next few moments were a blur, oddly slow, methodical, but over in an instant.

A flare went off behind them a few minutes later, then another. Ezra never saw a third.


The crystal had been wedged into a knot of roots at the base of an evergreen. It wasn't anything remarkable. Just a somewhat magical crystal, not unlike the many many similar items in their mother's prized collection.

An unremarkable little thing, really.

Did I kill for this?

No, no, of course not. The faculty wouldn't actually allow that, would they?

Cold fear crawled up their spine. Could they be expelled for that? They hadn't used the arrows intended for the bow, other students had bows. How close were they being watched? Could they call that self defense? They were outnumbered, they could have died.

Had...had the other two been retreating?

They remembered it twice over, niether memory clear. They'd kept attacking, right? That one was the right one.

But if they had been trying to leave, and they were being watched closely...

They wouldn't expell Ezra for this. Surely not.

Their hands trembled as they placed the crystal gingerly in their bag.

The supplies in the bag hadn't been the most useful so far, nothing too good for the kind of would they needed to address, but they'd managed. Their shirt had already been ruined, so they weren't overly attatched. Anymore, anyway. They'd always been taught to treat their clothing with respect. It was expensive and wasteful to be careless.

Not that it should have mattered. They were wealthy, weren't they? Their family might not be the most well-regarded, but they were well-off enough to be wasteful once in a while. At least, they should have been.

Ezra frowned as they slunk through the undergrowth, suppressing hisses and moans of pain with every movement. Their thoughts were interrupted by the snapping of twigs and the rustle of leaves overhead. Ezra ducked down, hiding as well as they could in a cluster of bushes.

A creature passed by, a fog of blackness around a core of pulsing red. It mimicked the shape of a bear, but was too large, too graceful, to have ever been any kind of bear Ezra has seen. As it's eyes like red lanterns passed over Ezra, they would swear its gaze lingered. Their eyes met. This thing was corrupt, and hungry, so hungry. And its gaze lingered on Ezra.

Then it was gone.

A shaky breath escaped sore lungs.

They had to get out of here.

1,196 words
formerly TheMulticoloredCyr


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Sat Jul 23, 2022 8:11 am
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WeepingWisteria says...


Brought to you with the help of @HarryHardy and @SilverNight

The campus grounds were loud. Parents were saying goodbye to their children, best friends chattering about classes, and the occasional dog barking across the lawn. The wind scattered papers across the grass, making a mess of things.

It was already perfect.

Cyra pulled his suitcase along, whistling a small tune under his breath. The crowd bottle-necked ahead, clearly marking her destination.

Most students seemed nervous, biting away at their lips or looking around the campus. Almost everyone was lacking their weapon. Cyra shook their head. What a joke. You're accepted into a Battle School and leave your weapon behind. That's going to go over well.

Cyra readjusted xer battleax. Xe didn't like being without it. It was a comfortable, familiar weight hanging on to xer shoulders. It made people think twice before people tried to assault xem. It was a weapon of power and destruction.

Cyra felt like it was a mirror, reflecting the inner depths of xer soul, displaying to the world, Don't mess with this being, they'll eat your bones.

According to the wary glances some of his fellow first-years gave him, it was working.

Finally, Cyra approached an older woman with a "Welcome to Lux Academy Shirt." "Welcome! Your name?"

"Cyra Shula."

The woman nodded, scanning her large tablet. "Yep! Right there." She looked up with a smile. "Do you know where to go?"

Cyra sighed, watching the crowd pick up trolleys and skip to a luggage drop-off. "I have eyes, ma'am."

The woman frowned. "Well. Then go right on ahead."

Cyra rolled their eyes, deciding to skip the trolley due to her one suitcase and going straight for the luggage drop-off.

As students flitted by her, it was hard not to wonder how many of them paid their way into the academy. How many didn't know the difference between artificing and symbology? When all you needed to get in was a pretty little essay and a famous signature, how many would sneak their way into the Lux Academy ranks?

Cyra didn't have to worry about that for herself. She wasn't here because of her penmanship or flattery. Someone has recognized their talent and decided it was worth something.

And Cyra was pretty sure that made her better than most people here.

He finally reached the top of the hill where the luggage drop-off tables sat. He approached the first volunteer, passing off his suitcase.

"Ah, Ms. Shula!"

Cyra shook their head. "No. Try again."

The volunteer blinked. "Are you not Cyra Shula?"

"Oh, I am." Cyra crossed their arms. "That wasn't your mistake."

The volunteer chuckled nervously. "Okay. Do you uh, have your weapon with you?"

Cyra pulled on the leather straps of her ax. "Right here." They froze, furrowing their eyebrows. " Let me grab something else."

The volunteer nodded. "Go right ahead."

Cyra crouched by her suitcase, pulling out a thick piece of leather with several glass bottles of varying sizes and colors. "Alright." She stood back up. "You can take it now."

"Oh, potions? Interesting weapon. Are there any potions that are easy to use in battle?"

"No, there's not." Cyra strapped the leather across xer chest. "That's why they're not potions."

Before the volunteer asked faer to explain, fae kept walking towards Zenith Tower, faer hands buried in faer pockets.

She took a deep breath. "This is it, Cyra. A hard reset."


Headmaster Fea finally stepped down from the stage, leaving all the students murmuring in her wake. Something about how yes, Lux Academy was very prestigious, peasants need not apply, and many people bowed and threw money at its feet yearly.

And, oh yeah, how everyone was going to sleep together in one big room with no separation.

Cyra knew Lux Academy had roommates. She was more than prepared to sleep next to one or two people. But the entire school? Hell no.

Cyra grumbled to herself. She hated the idea of sleeping in front of other people. It felt too vulnerable, too intimate.

He scowled and scanned the crowd for the person that seemed the least likely to try to murder him in his sleep.

Most people looked too nervous to be any good in a fight, but they hugged their weapons like a toddler's teddy bear. Approach them wrong, and the tension would make the auditorium devolve into a full-on brawl.

But one person with whitish hair seemed unlikely to attack as soon as someone spoke to them.

Cyra nodded, readjusting the belt of bottles across his chest. "Let's do this."

He slowly walked up to them, his scowl only growing worse as he stared down at them. "Is this spot available, or are you saving it for someone?"

The girl looked up, eyes almost comically wide for a split second before a smile split her face. "The one on the right, kind of, but the left side is totally free."

Cyra nodded before sitting down on the left. Xe kept xer bags close, eyes never leaving the girl. Never give them a chance to strike. Each blink you take is a chance you're giving away.

"So, first day?' asked the girl. "How'd you like it here so far?"

Cyra shrugged. "It's boring, but it's loud." He narrowed his eyes at her. "Where's your weapon?"

"The speech was a bit...." the girl trailed off for a bit before she finished. "Organized." She then tapped her shoulder, where a couple of white leather straps ran across her chest. "Right here."

Cyra nodded. "A bow and arrow, huh? Good choice." Quiet, stealthy, dangerous. He needed this girl on his team before she set his sights on killing him from afar.

The girl blushed. "Thank you." She paused for a second. "Battleaxe? You must be really strong to use that. I can barely lift one of those things."

Cyra flexed her bicep, her muscles protruding through the sleeves of her jacket. "I'm strong enough that I don't need a battle-ax to do damage." Xe eyed her. If she were a threat and plotting to attack xem, she'd panic. Maybe enough for her to make the smart decision and leave them be.

The girl proceeded to turn bright red as she stammered out," I...I can s..see that." She seemed to suddenly find her shoes very interesting.

Interesting. Cyra relaxed. For now, she wasn't a threat, just a woman of taste. "You have to have decent strength to control a bow. Take time to build it up, and you'll see results."

"Yeah," said the girl, "so I was told. When I first wanted to learn the bow, my instructor actually laughed at me. Then my grandmother came up with this really cool system that meant I didn't need nearly as much strength to use it, and I've gotten better since. I am still a walking broom handle, though."

Cyra shrugged. "Not everyone can build muscle as well as others." Ze frowned. "You can use that to your advantage, though."

The girl nodded. "Yeah, somewhat. Most people don't expect me to win..." She looked like she was going to elaborate more before she went even redder than before and groaned, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like 'twice in the same day.' "I'm sorry, but I realized I completely forgot to introduce myself. Where are my manners hiding today? I'm Safiana." She held out a hand to shake.

Cyra took her hand, her grip one of iron. "Cyra."

Safiana managed not to flinch, her smile staying as bright as it always was as she shook it. "That's a nice name. Also, wow, your grip is really strong. You could give my brother a run for his money in our who can give the scariest handshake competition."

"I'm sure I'd win." Cyra pulled away. "Any day of the week." Even as Safi slowly eased Cyra's worry, a scowl lingered on her lips. His eyes were hard and piercing, their bright orange only adding to the image of anger and lava rock.

Safi nodded. "Soo...not a fan of our current sleeping arrangements? You don't look too happy about it."

Cyra was at a crossroads. Either she admitted how uncomfortable this situation made them, or they opened themself to the prospect of being attacked.

He shrugged. Aim for the middle ground. "Hearing everyone gossip about which teacher is the most likely to be an alcoholic isn't the best situation for sleep."

"That is inconvenient, yeah," agreed Safi, before lowering her voice like she was afraid someone was going to hear. 'I"m not the biggest fan of this either...I mean, it's a fun new experience, and it's going to be kind of cool to sleep under the stars...but." She shrugged.

Good, this was good. This was a chance to make Safi trust her. She was already sharing her frustration. This could gain her a powerful ally, a way to form a winning team that everyone would recognize as the best. Cyra would already make the greatest leader of all time, but they needed good people to lead to show that.

"I slept outside a lot where I'm from. Mostly in the woods."

"Ohh," said Safi. She looked conflicted for a split second before words were spilling out again. "Something tells me it wasn't always by choice?" Her voice was now quieter in a different, almost softer tone.

Cyra clenched her jaw. "Whenever I did something, it was only because I wanted to. No other reason ever. Period." He didn't say that the other choices weren't good, that it was the difference between the chirp of cicadas or the deadened silence of a broken home and a scared town. He didn't say that the howl of wolves was the only sound that drowned out the droning war cries of the people who stole her home.

Safi didn't deserve to know that. Not yet. Not ever. To her, to everyone in this damned school and damned town, and damned country, Cyra slept in the woods because she wanted to, and no one could stop her. That's all it was, and that would ever be.

Safi raised her hands in mock surrender. Her smile didn't waver until it twisted into an apologetic one. "Sorry I...just. That was stupid of me to just assume like that." For a second, her face twisted into another expression, but it was gone before it came. "I guess the horrifying chatter of hundreds of students is nothing like the peace and quiet of the woods, huh?" Her beaming smile was back.

"A lot of people think the woods are quiet." Cyra's scowl was fiercer than ever, contorting xer entire face into a symbol of hostility. "A lot of people are wrong."

"Ohh," said Safi, "I need to stop talking about things I know so little about. Sorry again. You must think I'm a complete idiot by now. Maybe tell me about the woods...if you umm...want to, that is?"

"There's a lake where I live. Deer will sometimes stop to drink, and if you're very quiet and very, very still. You can watch the wolves devour the slow ones." Cyra shrugged. Safi was treading on dangerous territory. Maybe they were just trying to scare her off; perhaps they just needed to feel in control of the conversation. Either way, Cyra turned to what she always understood: violence. "Wolves don't attack people. Most think they do, but most of them don't. If you leave a wolf alone, they leave you alone. If you show the wolves you're not a threat, they'll feast in front of you without tearing you to pieces."

And if the wolf stood for something else, then Safi didn't need to know.

Safi let out a small, barely suppressed shudder, but somehow, the girl's smile didn't waver. "That is...good to know if I ever run into one. You definitely know your stuff."

"This is Lux Academy." Cyra snorted. "They might make you face a lion for all we know."

" probably going to happen," said Safi, "I wouldn't be as surprised as I would like to be. You think that's why they want us to keep our weapons on us even in the orientation. Not going to lie, that's worried me a little."

Cyra shrugged. "It was to be expected. Lux Academy is a battle university. We're not at Lyndira."

"That's fair," said Safi. "Oh well, I joined here because of the whole extra battle angle myself. It was the main difference between this and the other couple I applied to. I'll probably be fine once things get underway; it's more just the kind of secrecy that's unnerving me a little at the moment."

"They can't tell us what's happening out of the gate." They waved their hands scandalously in the air. "Heaven forbid the students actually be prepared." Xe rolled xer eyes.

Safi chuckled at that. "Hear, Hear." Her smile got even brighter. "You know what I think? They actually forgot to prepare, and instead of admitting it, they're going to pretend like they have this secret plan along?" She proceeded to dramatically look around as if any of the teachers would be around to listen in to their conversations.

Cyra gasped. "Careful! If you know too much, you'll be expelled before you even take a class."

Safi gasped in mock horror, looking around even more before doing a bit of a stage whisper. "I think I'm safe for now."

"I'll protect you, don't worry." Cyra gestured to the glass bottles across his chest. "I have plenty of non-lethal options if homicide's not your style."

Safi did a delicate bow. "I thank you, kind uhh...what pronouns do you go by?"

Cyra froze. It has been a long time, years in fact, since anyone had asked them that. Not since... not since... Cyra shook his head. That wasn't important. "I go by all pronouns. Not all pronouns in that I don't care, but all pronouns in that I want you to use as many pronouns as you can." They took a deep breath, their scowl a little lessened. "But don't use girl or boy. Terms like that are like wearing a shirt that's too small. I'm all, and I'm more." He nodded. "What about you?"

"Ohh, I will keep that in mind," said Safi, nodding, "oh, I am rather boring. Just a plain old girl over here." She paused for a second before adding. "Kind wait..madam..okay, they need to invent more words for this."

"All-powerful knight would work." Cyra tapped their chin. "My savior. The greatest of all time..." Cyra shrugged. "Plenty of options."

"Pardon my lack of creativity o' powerful knight," Safi said, bowing again.

"I'll forgive you just this one time, Princess. Don't let it happen again."

"Thank you for your kindness, gracious one," said Safi, "I promise it will never happen again." She proceeded to cross her pinkies. "That is now more official than a blood pact."

"Very official and very binding." Cyra nodded, xer face grace. "You can't begin to imagine the consequences should you break it."

Safi let out an exaggerated shudder. "I will never even let the thought cross my mind."

"Good. The very fabric of your reality depends on it." Cyra fell back into her sleeping bag. Fighting without sleep was dangerous, but sleeping right now was a gamble.

They'd just have to push themselves until the universe decided.

"So, Princess, you haven't talked about yourself at all. Are you a city girl?"

"Ohh, well, I guess you could say that," said Safi, "for the most part. I did live more to the outskirts a long time ago, but most of my life was in this city."

"So you're a local, then? How well do you know Glinthaven?" Cyra knew she couldn't convince anyone that he was local. He didn't know the first thing about the city other than it had the academy. He'd already mentioned the forest too many times too. He didn't have to reveal precisely where he was from, just a tiny town in the woods.

"I'd like to think I know it pretty well," said Safi with a shrug. "I've been to most if not all the places in and around here."

"You'll have to show me around here, then. I've clearly never been near a city before." They gestured to themselves: the homemade leatherwork, the type of clothes you'd find in a small town General Store, the one-of-kind blown glass bottles. He was the spitting image of a town not only isolated from cities but technology as a whole. "I'm going to need an experienced tour guide. And I suppose you'd be tolerable."

"Oh, I'd love to," said Safi, "I sure hope I'm qualified enough."

"Eh, I trust you more than these bozos." He gestured to the rest of the students. "They couldn't find their way out of a two-turn hallway without getting lost."

"I thank you for your faith in me," said Safi, "I promise we won't get lost."

"Good. I'd hate for you to prove me wrong." Cyra crossed xer arms. "I haven't been wrong since the cold winter when I thought I was wrong about something."

"I could never break a record as ironclad as that," said Safi, with a solemn nod.

"I'd never speak to you again if you did." He rubbed his temples. "And I mean that." But, according to the playful tint to faer voice, they didn't mean it.

"I couldn't survive such a harsh sentence," said Safi, doing a credible impression of someone going pale before a smile ruined the whole look.

Cyra hadn't smiled quite yet, but fae seemed pretty close. "Who could? I'm amazing."

Safi nodded solemnly once again. "Indeed, one would be hard pressed to match this level of amazingness." She just about managed to stifle a giggle.

"Why do you look like you're about to laugh? My level of radiance is nothing to underestimate."

Safi sobered immediately. "I'm sorry, your grace. I never meant to imply such a thing." She somehow kept a straight face.

"Yeah. That's what I thought." Cyra sat up, trying to blink away the exhaustion weighing his eyelids. "Know your place."

Safi bowed once again. "I will not forget my liege."

Cyra yawned, cursing internally. "So, anything else I should know about you, Princess? Any juicy family secrets or infamous lineage?"

Safi let out a yawn, too, even as she seemed to think for a second. "Nothing too fancy. Very boring, mostly standard upbringing over here." She seemed a little conflicted at the end, but it was gone quickly.

"Define standard. Of course, it's standard to you; it's yours."

Safi shrugged. "Well, just normal childhood things. I was getting tutored in things. Playing with your friends. Growing up. Those kids suddenly changing. Getting tutored in how to survive society. Surviving because my brother is a lifesaver. Getting a crush on someone who secretly hates you. Normal things."

Cyra hummed. For once, they were the opposite end of a loaded question. They could feel the strain that came with them in a powerful burst of empathy. "Yeah, normal things." They knew all too well what it was like to be pushed against the wall like that. They would not be responsible for that sort of pain.

"Yeah," said Safi, flashing a much smaller smile. Then in a voice that was so quiet, it was barely audible. "Thank you." She didn't elaborate on that.

Cyra didn't need an explanation. "Yeah. You're welcome." They looked away, suddenly all too aware of how their chest hurt and their lungs wouldn't fill quite right.

"Hey, Safi! I lost you for a bit." Another girl ran up to them, bursting out of the crowd of students and taking the seat to Safi's right that had been left empty. She blinked and smiled at Cyra. "Oh, hi there."

3,300 Words
Last edited by WeepingWisteria on Mon Aug 01, 2022 9:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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

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WeepingWisteria says...


Brought to you with the help of @HarryHardy and @SilverNight

"Hey, you're back," said Safi, turning around to greet the girl. She turned back to Cyra. "This is Kynina. Kynina, this is Cyra."

Kynina waved. "Nice to meet you, Cyra."

Cyra narrowed her eyes. "Charmed. Kynina, was it? Why'd you choose Lux Academy?"

Kynina frowned slightly in a thoughtful way, scratching the back of her head. "A few different reasons, but who wouldn't? It's a very unique place."

Cyra shrugged. "My best friend, Saturn. He's going to Lyndira. But, he's always been more of an academic." They looked Kynina up and down. "But you're more battle-aligned, right?"

Kynina shrugged. "At this point in my life, I'd say yes."

"What's your weapon? I don't see one on you." Cyra tried to spot something, the hilt of a dagger, the head of a baton, but Kynina's coat seemed to cover her belt.

The belt was exactly where she reached for, and she flicked a knife into each hand. They were perfectly polished and sharp, obviously meant for throwing. "I use these," she said, twirling them around playfully. "This pair is artificed, but I also have a lot of others that aren't, and I go through them pretty quickly."

Cyra's eye twitched. Fuck, that's impressive. "Those must be useful. Very quiet, and you have a quick hand. You can do some real damage." Way to sound like a fucking idiot, Cyra. They tried to ignore how warm their face had gotten.

Kynina smiled, looking a little bashful. "It's pretty effective, I guess. What do both of you do?"

Cyra cleared xer throat. "Battle-axe. I use a two-handed battle-ax. The handle's artificed, so it doesn't shatter on impact." Xe gestured towards the bottles across xer chest. "I use these too."

Kynina looked impressed. "That ax is a pretty neat weapon. I don't think I've seen anyone use bottles before."

Cyra smirked. "Do you want to see what these are capable of?" They unhooked a small teal teardrop bottle. "I have a beta test right here."

"As long as that's not your way of saying you want to attack me, I'd love a demo," she joked.

"Attack you here, in front of every teacher on campus." Fae snorted. "No thanks. Besides, this one isn't an attack." They placed it on the floor in front of Safi. "Ready?" They received a nod from Kynina. Safi inched back a tiny bit but nodded.

Cyra grinned and activated her affinity, placing a criss-cross of dark green and rust orange on her hand. She smashed the bottle, grinding the fragile glass into dust. Mist oozed out of the mess within seconds, swishing around the trio's ankles. "Can you guess how I did that?"

Safi barely held in a scream. She had not been expecting that to go down. "WOW. I have no idea how you did that, but that is sooo cool."

Kynina leaned towards the mist, intrigued. "Chemical reaction? It doesn't look like a potion, so that's my best guess."

"Nope!" Cyra scooped up the glass, armor covering both hands now. She grabbed a small bag out of her pocket and poured the glass in. "Maybe I shouldn't tell you. Then you can't make a fool of ourselves when you try to copy me." The mist flickered out of existence, leaving no sign it was ever there in the first place.

Kynina clicked her tongue. "Fair enough."

"That's a wise move," nodded Safi. "My instructor was quite clear about not trusting me with explosives."

"Ah yes. I wouldn't want to disrespect an authority figure. I've never done that before, and I certainly don't want to start now." Cyra snorted, looking through her many bottles, liquid splashing in some of the larger ones.

Safi seemed to hold in a giggle at that before continuing on a more serious note. "In my instructor's defence, the day she gave me exploding arrows, I may or may not have blown up a prized china collection. In my defense, I did not think exploding arrows would fly so much further than the normal ones."

Cyra laughed, covering their mouth in an attempt to seem composed, but failing miserably. "Wait! You-" They threw their head back, cackling madly. "Oh my god." They forced themself to take a deep breath. "Okay, okay. I see your point." He snorted. "But, that's how you learn. You have to destroy a few prized possessions and injure a few powerful people before mastering your craft."

Safi gave a sheepish smile. "Yeah."

Kynina's grin showed all her teeth. "As someone who literally has the Affinity to make random things explode and who's seen some pretty expensive possessions placed in training areas, I can say I've done that too. It happens."

Cyra gestured to Kynina. "See? Maybe combusting expensive things is a part of the learning process."

"It definitely taught me people don't like it when you do that."

"That's beside the point. They'll get over it."

"The possessions will not, but that's a small price to pay." Kynina closed her eyes. "RIP to my mother's heirloom vase."

Cyra snorted. "I'm sure the world kept turning." Xe paused, considering Kynina for a moment. "So what exactly is your affinity? How do you make things explode?"

"Well, that china collection was honestly better off in small pieces," Safi whispered. "It was horribly ugly. But on the note of explosions, that is a really cool affinity."

"I can just kind of send things shooting off and then have them blow up," Kynina said. "It's like my aura charges that item, and then it doesn't know what to do with that energy it's storing, so it flies around randomly— or wherever I want it to— and then I can use that energy to make it explode. Sometimes it'll just happen on its own if it holds that energy long enough and can't contain it. I can pretty much turn things into deadly fireworks if that makes sense?"

Cyra laughed. "Deadly fireworks. Now that is a legendary affinity." He turned to Safi. "What about you? What's your affinity?"

"I glow," declared Safi before pulling a face. "That sounded much cooler in my head. It's umm sort of like these endless ropes made of pure light...they can also get like hot enough to cause some serious fires, but I am still kind of working on that."

Cyra opened her mouth to respond, but it was cut off by approaching footsteps. "You three! Lights out was an hour ago. What are you doing?"

Cyra clenched his fist. "We-"

"It doesn't matter. Get to sleep, all of you." The teacher stormed off, leaving the trio behind.

Cyra rolled their eyes. "Fine. I guess Mr. Killjoy ruined the party." They slumped onto their cot, curling into a tight ball.

Safi fell back so fast that it looked like someone had hit her with a petrification spell. The quietest whisper broke the night. "Yeah, Good Night."

Kynina yawned softly, arranging her bedding on the ground, so it was most comfortable, then flashed both of them a smile before she wrapped a blanket over her. "See you both in the morning."

Cyra stole one final look at her companions and smiled to themself.

Maybe Lux wasn't going to be so pretentious after all.

1,206 Words

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

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AceassinOfTheMoon says...


Technically, Sylkalyn didn't need an acceptance letter. Her father could've told her when he came home that night, or she could've swung by Headmistress Fea's office to ask. It wouldn't have wasted a sheet of paper that wasn't required. But she'd asked for one anyway.

"I think I'd like to frame this someday," she said thoughtfully, looking away from the window and at her father, hunched over his desk on the opposite side of the office from where she was perched on the windowsill, one knee drawn up to her chest and the other resting on the floor. "Hopefully next to my graduation certificate. That would be poetic, don't you think? The beginning and the end of my story here at Lux."

She received no answer from her father, and sighed internally, shifting positions a bit on the sill. She'd outgrown the small wooden space years ago, but this had been Her Spot for as long as her father had been in this office, and she wasn't about to change it now.

For weeks now, her dad and the rest of the staff at Lux had been scrambling around like disturbed ants, fixing all the last-minute problems that kept popping up, trying to finalize lesson plans in time for the arrival of a new wave of Lux students, and ignoring Sylkalyn entirely.

She wasn't surprised by this. It happened every year around this time, and had for as long as she could remember. As the clock ticked down to 'hell day', as the professors of Lux affectionally referred to the day the potential first years descended upon them, Sylkalyn was always left to fend for herself. For a few brief weeks, she became almost invisible as she did her best to stay out of the way.

"I feel like that would be slightly pretentious, actually," her dad said absently. "Have you seen my pencil sharpener around?"

"I could give you one of my daggers. That works just as well," Sylkalyn offered. "Also, sit up. You know your old bones can't take that kind of pressure."

"If I'm as old as you keep making me out to be, then it won't matter, since I've already got one foot in the grave," her dad bantered. "I'm sure it's around here somewhere." He tugged his greying red-blond beard as he examined the cluttered surface of his desk.

"Clean your desk sometimes and maybe you won't lose stuff." Sylkalyn turned back to the window. Far below, she could see the crowds of people arriving, tiny black specks far below Zenith Tower. Hundreds of hopefuls with bright eyes and nervous smiles and completely incorrect expectations of what Lux Academy would be like. Some people would be going through tearful goodbyes with their parents, others would be arriving alone. All would be examining each other thoroughly, mentally tearing each other to shreds to find weaknesses and strengths, potential friends and potential enemies. A complex social dance was being performed far below her feet, and for the first time, she would be expected to partake in it.

"Clean your room and maybe I'll follow your lead- Ah! Here we go." He fell silent, and the thin scraping of her dad's pencil being sharpened carried clearly through the still air, followed by the familiar sound of lead scritching against paper and the even more familiar sound of it pausing, then her dad sighing and replacing the scritch with the squeak of an eraser.

"Are you going down there, Silky, or are you going to hide in my office until it's time for Fea's speech?" her dad asked casually, finally setting his pencil down and looking up at her. "You've been staring mournfully out that window all morning."

"I'm not mournful," Sylkalyn protested. "I'm analyzing the situation from afar."

"Mournfully," her dad finished with a slight smile. "It's alright to admit you're nervous, love. Actually attending Lux has been your dream since you were old enough to understand what Lux was all about, and now that the moment has arrived, it's fine to be a bit overwhelmed by it all."

Sylkalyn exhaled slowly. "I'm not nervous. I'm... apprehensive."

"Hi, Apprehensive, I'm Dad."

She groaned and rested her head against the cool window, her exasperated breath fogging the glass. "Dad."

"That's what I just said, yes." She could hear the smile in his voice, that little lift in his tone that meant he thought he'd just said something hilarious. After a moment, he sighed softly and she heard the floor creak as he got to his feet, joining her at the window. "So, why are you apprehensive?"

"I'm not quite sure," she admitted. "I guess... it's like you said. The moment has arrived, and it's overwhelming. I don't think it's anything specific, just a natural emotional reaction to a life-changing event."

"Nice analysis, my little psychiatrist," her dad said, resting his hand on her shoulder affectionately. "But maybe you should get inside your own head instead of watching it from afar."

She rolled her eyes at him. "What do you want from me, the truth or a lie about how I'm worried about how I might not make it past orientation's extra step and I might not make friends? Those 'typical' new-school worries? I know I'm getting into Lux, and friends aren't going to be a problem."

"Extra step?" her dad asked lightly, his hand tightening slightly on her shoulder as a warning.

"Hmm? Did I say that?"

They both knew what extra step she was talking about. The arena initiation that Sylkalyn technically wasn't supposed to know about, but had learned about from professors and older students with bad secret-keeping skills years ago. Everyone knew she knew, but she'd personally promised Fea she wouldn't say anything to anyone, and she'd honoured her word since, so no one bothered her about it.

If she was worried about any part of the upcoming days, it would be that. She liked to consider herself a good actress, but with the way her emotions seemed to be rebelling against her, she wanted to be absolutely sure she wouldn't let anything slip while meeting her fellow Lux hopefuls. Fea's wrath wasn't anything to sneeze at.

Once they were actually in the arena, she wouldn't worry as much about keeping it a secret, but she didn't intend to let it be well-known that she was prepared for this. Some people would get jealous of her advantage, and that was simply something she didn't have time to deal with.

"I'll go down there eventually," she continued, changing the subject away from taboo subjects. "I think I want to wait until later, though, when more people are mostly settled and I won't be as in the way."

"My office is available for you to hide in as long as you need, Silky," her dad replied. "Are you going to at least sleep down there with everyone tonight? Get just as horrible a night's sleep as everyone else will so you're on equal footing tomorrow?"

She pulled a face. "Are you that eager to kick me out of the apartment? You're going to make me sleep in the cold auditorium on the hard floor?"

"Well, now that you mention it, I do need you out of your room by tomorrow," her father teased. "Figured I'd start renting it out since you won't need it anymore. It's always good to have a little extra cash on hand, right?"

"I thought you'd be looking forward to the peace and quiet of living alone."

"Hmm. That is true, I would like that. No more people trying to sneak in at three in the morning pretending they haven't been out all night."

"That was one time," she protested. "And I'm an adult! I don't have a bedtime anymore."

"Yeah, but your old man does, and I don't like having my beauty sleep disturbed." He gently tugged on her hair, then walked back to his desk. "If you're not going down immediately, do you mind reading through this for me and making sure everything's spelled right?"

She nodded, reaching up to tighten her ponytail as she slid off the windowsill and onto her feet. "Yeah, sure."


Try to survive.

Fea always did have a flair for the dramatics. Sylkalyn could appreciate that, but did she really have to make it sound like there was a high chance they wouldn't? The amount of paperwork she'd have to go through if a student died would be astronomical.

Still, she felt the same thrill of nervousness as everyone else as the ground disappeared beneath her feet.

Falling through the darkness was an odd mix of soothing and terrifying. She could feel the wind tugging at her hair, pulling her long, white ponytail up and blowing loose strands into her face, and the icy blades of air cutting through her loose jacket, but the darkness made it seem like she wasn't moving at all. There was no sky and there was no ground, and Sylkalyn would simply fall forever...

She exhaled slowly and focused on keeping herself relaxed and calm. Tensing as she fell would only make landing harder and more dangerous. What was her plan for landing, anyway?

As she fell further, she could begin to make out the ground beneath her; a ruined city, barely lit by a few flickering lamp posts here and there.

Alright, her landing plan was to not smash herself against the roof of a building.

She exhaled slowly one more time, then activated her aura, teal-and-red flickering to life around her as blood-red tentacles slid out of the veins in her wrists and pulled back the sleeves of her jacket; small and thin at first, but growing larger and stronger as she focused on them. With her blood now trailing out in streams behind her, she focused her attention on a pair of tall buildings almost directly below her. If she could grab onto both of those, she could slow herself and make her way down from there.

She counted down in her head. Three, two, one... now.

With one large tentacle from each wrist, she lashed out at the edge of the roof of each tall building, catching herself on them. She was moving too fast to just stop, of course, but she slowed down drastically. Her tentacles stretched thinly, and just before the shock of their impact on the buildings travelled down to meet her arms, she let go, continuing to fall at a reduced speed. Reaching out again, she dragged her tentacles down the sides of the buildings, slowing herself even further. By the time she reached the ground, she was moving slowly enough to simply drop to the ground in a perfectly executed three point landing.

She got to her feet and retracted her tentacles, letting her aura fade again as she scanned the place she'd landed. It was quite dark, of course, but from what she could see, there was no one in the immediate vicinity.

Sylkalyn took off her bow, backpack, and field quiver, so she could remove her jacket and tie it around her waist, leaving her in a dark tank top and leggings. While it wasn't the warmest or most protective option she could've gone for, she needed the sleeves gone so she could use her affinity effectively. Since she still needed protection from her bowstring, though, she had a custom-made bracer on her right arm, shortened a little bit so her wrist was exposed -- once again for affinity purposes -- and artificed to be comfortable to wear for longer than a regular arm guard.

She crouched to check her bag, making sure nothing had fallen out as she fell. She'd been given the same standard backpack as everyone else during Fea's speech, but she'd transfered the basic supplies inside it to her own bag, and it was possible she'd accidentally left a zipper open in her rush. It didn't look like it, though; her snacks, water, survival gear, and basic first-aid kit were all still there, as was her more specialized 'affinity clean-up kit', as she referred to it: a UV light, salt, a small bottle of hydrogen peroxide, a cloth, and a bottle of cold water.

Satisfied that she had everything she needed, she adjusted her ponytail, straightening it after the mess the wind had made of it, then picked up her things and started to move, her battle-artificed heels clicking against the dark stone of the street.

She had a crystal to find.
this is Ace erasure and I won't stand for it— silv

I haven't really said anything about ace but that's cause I'm usually speechless with how awesome ace is— Harry

Ace, you’re aggressively loved. Accept or perish.— Wist


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SilverNight says...


Well, Kynina wasn't surprised there was something more to get into Lux. But she still hadn't signed up for this.

She really hadn't, in fact. Kynina had learned from seeing many official documents in Isrith's paper trail that the details in fine print were important. Those were the haggles, the way you could deceive someone, be deceived yourself, or just create a severe problem by not thinking it all through. She knew how to recognize the times someone was trying to use a legal loophole against her or keep the details from her about something. She'd read every part of the application process and each permission form, and nowhere had there been a clause saying "by signing this, you accept that this institution may purposely place you in a situation where life and limb could be lost, without being a formally accepted student yet, which means this academy is endangering regular people" or "Lux reserves the right to lie to you about your placement".

Which meant, since Kynina had not signed anything waving her rights for either of those, she could technically sue Lux and donate the money from the lawsuit. But she had much bigger things to worry about right now.

Such as, there was no ground under her feet.

Her arms flailed around, out of her control for a few moments as she fell, before she gritted her teeth and pulled a hand in front of her so she could etch a sigil in the form of a downwards arrow in the air. The arrow symbolized her fall, and she wanted to counteract it. It was a very basic example of her sigilweaving, but she didn't need to use any of her more advanced abilities: a strong wind blowing upwards from underneath her caught her, and suddenly she was floating down like a feather. A feather that was still a little sleepy and unprepared for this, but still. Losing track of the ground and plummeting down the abyss did make for a pretty effective wake-up alarm.

Out the corner of her eye, she saw a bright light falling just a little bit slower than her. She turned, curious to what they were dropping down into the pit. Maybe it was a light source. It was pretty dark down there. It wasn't. Unless for some reason they were dropping a person shaped lightsource one that was connected to the top of it by some sort of very shiny rope. As she watched, the person seemed to turn in mid air towards someone suspended in midair. Another rope of light shot out from the person shaped object and seemed to pull something toward them. Before she could think too much of it, the bottom of the pit was coming up to meet her.

Kynina saw that she was headed for a roof in what appeared to be a... city? She braced herself, and the landing went safely but not very smoothly. She had to clutch onto the chimmey poking out the top to avoid stumbling backwards on the uneven and sloped surface. Once she was stable, she took a deep breath and looked around her surroundings.

The area around her was in fact a city, if the definition was taken at face value. There were enough buildings for it to count as one, and there were roads winding through it, but she spotted no landmarks. There were only about five different types of buildings, repeated and rebuilt like they'd used a cookie cutter to design them, and there were were no lights on in any of the windows. The only people she could spot had to be other students, scattered far apart and wandering the space like they were lost. Safi and Cyra had to be two of them.

This was no city, Kynina decided. This was no one's home. The academy had probably used this setting of a front for their initiation over the last several years. Which meant once they were done here, they'd have it cleaned up for the next year's applicants.

It also meant there was no resident living here to complain if she blew a hole in the roof.

Kynina flicked a hand towards a cluster of shingles. Her aura was absorbed by them, and they glowed bright blue for a moment before they burst into pieces, leaving a small section where the roof below was exposed. That too exploded, creating a crater just big enough for her to slide down into. Kynina sat down beside it, letting her legs dangle down into the hole, then grabbed onto the edge as she pushed herself in, careful not to cut her hands on the sharp broken sides of the shingles. After glancing down while she hung on to make sure the floor was close enough, she dropped down fully.

The wooden boards creaked softly under her fall, but barely. If this place was reused everytime initiation happened, maybe repairs had to happen often and this floor had been damaged, then made new again. Or maybe the setting was different every time and this building could have been magically assembled while they all slept above last night.

Kynina's partially active aura glowed faintly around her as she searched the room. The building had been two stories tall, and this room was barren and evoked an attic for her (although she doubted the academy had invested in furniture for this city, so the other rooms were probably equally featureless). There was a fireplace filled with logs on one end and a staircase leading down on the other. Almost everything here was scrapwood, a toolbox, random bars of metal, a coil of rope, and cinderblocks. Building materials from this project. Nothing exciting.

She took off and opened the bag that a volunteer had shoved into her hands moments before the fall, which had miraculously stayed on her back through it. Perhaps it was artificed to do so. It contained some very basic survival gear, no weapons. Nothing that would give her an advantage over any other student. The only item of interest to her was the small whistle with the text For extreme emergencies ONLY.

This whistle told Kynina a few things. First, blowing the whistle had to mean it would save her from danger, but would almost certainly result in forfeit, which was why they were warned not to use it unless they didn't have much of a choice. Second, she wouldn't be able to sue and donate any money because the Academy was providing them with a way out if they didn't want to risk their lives here, not that it was very important. Third (and actually importantly), it meant she would definitely be encountering threats to her life here.

She heard the crackle of speakers, and then Headmistress Fea spoke, announcing that something called the Voidborn had been released. It seemed she at least knew what that threat was.

How kind of the Headmistress to give a warning this time.

Kynina needed more weapons. The metal bars in the construction materials were too thick and heavy to carry along, but...

She glanced back towards the fireplace, feeling triumphant when she saw the two fire pokers lying to the side of it. They weren't stupidly heavy and more like staffs, so she could take them along, and they could be used as extra ammunition in case her knives got used up too fast. Kynina snatched the coil of rope from the building equipment and used it to tie the pokers up, then around her in a sort of sash. She already had rope in her pack, but it couldn't hurt to have another, just in case she needed the first one to climb her way out of here.

With that, she headed down the stairs and spared the entirely vacant ground floor a quick glance before stepping outside and promptly running into Cyra on the street.

Cyra's hands went straight for a bottle on their chest before their eyes flashed with recognition. "Oh! Kynina, wonderful. We're going to the woods." She turned to one of the roofs, gesturing towards Kynina. "Safi, Kynina's coming with us!"

Kynina followed her line of sight to the top of a roof and blinked, squinting at the brightness emenating from the roof. Safi was standing there at the center of it. Her aura swirled around her, generating the light. The girl proceeded to flash a thumbs up and gave a cheery wave, her smile matching her aura in brightness. Kynina returned the wave and grinned. She'd almost forgotten she didn't have to get a crystal alone.

"The woods?" Kynina asked Cyra. "I haven't gotten a good look around yet."

Cyra nodded. "So far, most of the students, especially groups, have been sticking to the city. Safi and I spent a couple of minutes watching them. Our best chances of getting three crystals is in the place no rich-kid-buy-in is going to go."

"Seems like a good spot then," Kynina said. "You heard the Voidborn announcement, right?"

Cyra grinned, looking a little manic in the dim streetlights. "We did. And we're ready."

She wasn't sure she could match their excitement, but she nodded, taking one of her artificed knives off her belt and tossing it in her palm. "Alright. Let's get going then."

Cyra nodded, wiping her hands on her pants, a streak of blood following her right palm. "Safi's going to watch for people while we make the trek."

Glancing over in Safi's direction, Kynina compared the advantages of having a third person on the ground as opposed to a outlook. If something sudden happened, she and Cyra could be in trouble, but having Safi there lowered the odds of anything being unexpected. Hopefully this would work best. "Sounds good."

They used the city roads while Safi went from roof to roof. The streets were plain concrete, and slightly cracked in places. Kynina saw one that could have been called a pothole if there were cars to drive here, and she imagined a student landing here, creating a powerful blast to shield themselves from the impact. It could've been from years or minutes ago.

There was a shout from above her. "Look, we've got friends up ahead. Looks like three, probably four."

Kynina sighed. Friends was being said ironically, she was sure, but if the people in that group were to be her fellow students, friendships wouldn't start easily if she had to fight them first.

"Do we hide?" she asked Cyra quietly. "Or confront them if they try anything?"

Cyra wiped her hand again, blood still coating her palm. "Let them come. If they want problems, we'll give them problems."

Kynina hesistated. "Did you get hurt?"

Cyra inspected their hand. "I cut myself on the way down. It's nothing to worry about. I've had worse."

She nodded, giving it a quick look of her own. It seemed like it'd be alright, but maybe uncomfortable for holding a weapon. "Okay," she said, a little uncertainly. But before she could decide whether to ask another question about it or brush it off, she saw the "friends" Safi was talking about.

There was a group of four emerging from around the corner, all looking heavily armed and their auras glowing. Kynina could tell from their clothing that they were all at least stable middle class, if not higher. She scanned them all rapidly. The tallest of them was walking in front, suggesting he was probably their leader, officially or not. He was closest, and she was pretty sure she could see a cocky smirk on his face. There was someone just a few steps to his right that shared his smirk and spiky orange hair, but was ever so slightly smaller. She took a guess that they were related, either non-identical twins or cousins the same age. The other two were a girl with an undercut and a sparkling green aura, and another girl who had to be at least a full foot and a half shorter than their leader but looked extremely fierce despite her small size. She carried about as many weapons as the other three put together.

Friends, my ass, Kynina thought. They were here to fight.

Cyra crossed their arms, hiding their injury from sight. "Hey! What the hell do you want?"

The unoffical leader stepped right in front of Cyra, his smirk growing as he looked her up and down. "Do you plebs happen to have a crystal?"

Cyra scoffed. "We got here fifteen minutes ago, dumbass. They're not raining from the sky."

"Posh, that's probably true," the girl with the funny hair and green aura said, stepping forward. Kynina saw that she was wearing one of those personalized necklaces with a name, one that had absolutely nothing going for it except that it was probably made of gold. The name on there was Alinta. "They probably are too slow for that--"

Kynina made a sound that was clearly a poorly contained laugh when she heard the nickname. Posh? Who would want to go by that? The other group all turned to her indignantly, and Alinta wrinkled her nose.

"Well, never mind. Now we've got to search you."

Kynina tossed the knife that was already vibrating from one hand to the other. "It's your funeral."

"Why does everyone have their weapons out?" Safi called from far away. "That's rude for a first meeting."

Cyra turned towards Safi. "They didn't come in peace, Safi!"



Kynina whirled around in time to see that the smaller orange-haired guy was holding up a whistle as he grinned triumphantly at Cyra. That was their whistle. How had he gotten it? He must have a speed Affinity and acted when their back was turned.

"Nice work, Josh!" the smallest girl with all the weapons crowed. Even though it was far from the most important thing happening, she still couldn't fathom why those two wanted to go by Posh and Josh.

"Say goodbye, suckers," Josh taunted as he lifted the whistle to his mouth.

A quick bolt of panic shot through Kynina as she reacted on instinct, reaching into her coat to grab a more disposable knife and throw it. "Wait, shit--"

Cyra reached forward. "You bitch! Stop-"

The air was pierced by the sharp sounds of a whistle being blown and the knife bursting apart while there was a bright flash in front of her that she had to look away from. Everyone else did the same. When she turned back, she was very confused by what she saw. The whistle had dropped to the ground, and her shrapnel presumably hadn't hit its target (although she could see a piece had hit Alinta in the shoulder). Josh was nowhere to be seen at all.

"Josh," Posh said slowly, looking around in perplexion. "...Where's my brother?"

"You know, you'd have to be a real idiot to think that blowing someone else's whistle would send them out," a new voice said lazily. Almost simultaneously, everyone turned to look for the newcomer. Sauntering up behind their attackers was a girl, probably about nineteen, with long, white hair and a bow strapped to her back. Her lips were curved in a slight smirk, but her eyes were deadly serious.

"I mean, did you really think that Fea would take the time to genetically code each whistle to each individual participant?" she continued. "That's hundreds of whistles for hundreds of initiates. And of course, that raises the question of how she'd obtain everyone's DNA to do that. I mean, I wasn't required to send in some of my hair with my essay or anything like that, were you?"

"How the fuck would you know that?" Alinta snapped, trying to dig the finger-long piece of metal out of her shoulder and generally just making it worse. Kynina suspected she didn't know you shouldn't do that with something that size.

"Well, I thought about it for more than two seconds, actually. I mean, would you take the time to do something like that so assholes like you could unfairly send someone out of the arena?"

Alinta snarled under her breath, and Kynina caught her aura coming off her in the form of... a noxious-looking gas? They should probably stay away from that. "Well, you won't be feeling so smug when we kick your ass. Maie, go--"

"Alright!" Kynina hollered, cutting her off. "Team, let's get out of here!"

Just before making a break for the forest, she made her aura travel out at the weapons that the girl who must be Maie was holding. She first heard a yelp of surprise as all the knives were yanked away from the initiate and moved a couple feet away, then some shouts as they all exploded and the pieces hovered in midair, creating a barrier too sharp to cross around the three.

Cyra swiped a bottle off of their chest and threw it directly at Posh. It shattered on impact, dousing his clothes in a shimmering liquid. Xe flipped them off. "Fuck you and your dumbass brother."

"There's no one towards the left. Go that way," shouted Safi from above them. A gleaming arrow thudded into the ground, pointing away from the wall of knives.

"Oh no you don't," Posh hissed, his dark brown aura falling like particles of dust to the ground as the earth began to shake.

Kynina stumbled back, throwing her arms out for balance. "Okay, if we're going, we should really now." She met the newcomer's gaze. "Anyone who wants to, run!" She took off, something between stumbling and sprinting as fast as she could over the rumbling ground, hoping at least someone would follow. It was extra difficult with the fire pokers, but what mattered was putting distance between them.

Cyra groaned. "Kynina! We can take them." They took off after Kynina, throwing one last glare to Posh over her shoulder.

Kynina glanced back too, seeing that Alinta's gas was traveling through the shrapnel barrier, too slow to reach them, but who knew what could have happened if they'd stayed. "I don't particularly feel like choking on that if I don't have to, and I'm sure you'll get to fight plenty of things."

Through the barrier, she could see the mysterious newcomer stagger a bit, then adjust to the moving ground. The girl was in a bad spot to try and run, starting from behind the group, but from what Kynina could see, she didn't seem fazed by this.

She was forced to look away by the shaking ground; running and looking behind her was a recipe for disaster. As she focused on keeping her footing, someone shrieked behind her, and a few moments later, the newcomer popped up in her peripheral vision, retracting some sort of red tentacle back into her wrist. The ground stopped shaking, and they could run better.

"You're all good?" Kynina asked her between breaths.

"Just fine," she assured her.

Kynina nodded, then looked back to check on Safi, who was taking a different path over the roofs. It seemed the four of them were headed the same place then. "To the forest," she said, as they approached the trees. Once they were far ahead, she released her hold on the wall of shrapnel, leaving the other group behind, just as they were swallowed up by the woods and out of sight.
"silv is obsessed with heists" ~Omni

"silv why didn't you tell me you were obsessed with heists I thought we were friends" ~Ace

"y’all we outnumber silver let’s overthrow her >:]" ~winter

silver (she/they)

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Teddybear says...


The creature faded into the shadowy wood, and as it went, something followed. Something slithered into Ezra's mind, twisting and swirling until that silvery something overcame their senses, dragging them into a vision of something. A curving path, cold, damp air and flashes of refracting light in shades of watery blue and lilac. Walls of jagged crystal surrounded them in pastel shades, tossing patterns of light just too bright to be possible so deep - and it was deep - underground.

Ezra had never been there, but they knew the way. The knowledge was there as though it always had been. And something else. The vision was nearly over, they knew through whatever magics sourced it, but something lingered at the end. A sense of heat, slow and thick, crawling through spaces alight with a yellowish glow. Molten rock and fire.

Then it was over.

Ezra blinked and the vision, which felt as though it lasted a lifetime, was over, and not a second had passed. A tugging in their gut urged them to follow in the path the creature had taken. The way to the cave.

They shifted their weight from their less injured leg and back. The pressure of their blood pooled and pressed against the makeshift tunicate on their bad leg, and still, some soaked through the bandage and bloomed onto their pajama pants. Another blotch of red on the yellow silk. They'd have to order another set.

With that thought hanging in their head, they limped off into the woods as quietly as they could manage.

The other candidates had to have been fighting for the remaining crystals by now. Maybe they were still looking. Ezra had been lucky to find the one they did, so easily accessible in that knot of unguarded roots at the base of just any tree. They imagined that the other crystals were mostly better hidden, better guarded, or already found. They got this one because they were lucky. Lucky to find it before the trio who were so close to it. Lucky to have been able to beat those three. Lucky not to have run into anyone since.

Born lucky.

Someone had said that once. A sneering reporter wrote a scathing article about Ezra's family, long enough ago that Ezra couldn't remember their name. It was some article about how the wealthy families of the city had the local government in their pockets or some other reactionary nonsense. It wasn't surprising, really. The sensationalist headlines painting the people who dared to have earned their way to the top as lazy, horrible monsters sold awfully well amongst the people who complained about not being able to buy anything.

Ezra crept along through the underbrush. The whispers of a distant fight brushed by their ears, clanging metal and shouts of pain and effort. Flashes of light flicked through the gloomy forest, someone's yellowish aura lashing out at something big and darker than any shadow Ezra had ever seen,

Even at this distance, the thing sent a cold shiver down Ezra's spine.

The tugging in their gut urged them toward the fight, but they diverted their path to avoid it. The tugging turned to twisting, and they nearly keeled over, the contents of their stomach rushing up their throat. Dropping to their knees, it spilled out.

Through watering eyes they blinked down at the mossy ground, trying to collect their thoughts, which had scattered like cats from a clap of thunder. Waves of cold sweat washed over them; the world swayed.

It was a long while, or maybe a few moments, before they managed to get back on their feet. The fight in the distance was over, neither figure visible any longer through the trees. They hoped the student had won. They doubted they had.

An uneven gait carried them to the ground where the fight had taken place, torn ground and scorch marks marking the place. A trail of blood over the ground, handprints on the trees, led further into the woods, and Ezra would swear they heard something fall a healthy distance away. They kept going.

It was a long walk. A long, uninterrupted trek led by a gut feeling to a hill of stone with a lopsided and jaggedy arch over a dark tunnel tucked into a hidden corner where Ezra now leaned heavily on a boulder just outside. They had to go inside. In a minute. They'd go a minute.

The bandages on their leg had soaked through, the tunicate now doing absolutely nothing as drips of blood snaked down their leg and pooled around their shoe. Bloody shoeprints from that foot marked their journey over the stone to get here. Anyone who happened this way would know there was someone in the tunnels. Anyone who happened this way would be ready for a fight. Perhaps they'd expect an easy one, but a fight nonetheless.

They steeled their nerves and straightened their posture. They best get deep enough that no one would bother following, then.

With that, they limped into the dark.

There was hardly an ounce of light, Ezra relied on the tugging in their gut and their heavy lean on the wall to lead them to the right place.

With every step it seemed they grew more lightheaded, every movement more a chore than the last. I'm not going to make it,

Not all the blood that had dried and stiffened the skin of their hands was theirs. Were those people alive? Would this school allow potential students to die in the initiation phase?

There's not much they can do about an arrow to the neck.

Healing magic was good, but not perfect. It didn't work miracles. Even if, somehow, they'd managed to get that kid out of here before they drowned on their own blood, it was possible they'd still die. And Ezra would be at fault. Another monster for the family line, and they hadn't even needed to use their affinity.

Maybe they'd be fine. It was self-defense. A little too far, maybe, but self-defense.

They'd be fine. They were going to save their family's reputation, not ruin it further.

Their blurred vision soon filled with familiar pastel tones. Blue and purples and-


formerly TheMulticoloredCyr


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Thu Aug 18, 2022 4:15 am
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WeepingWisteria says...


While Cyra was awfully impressed that Headmaster Fea had the guts to sort through the rich kid buy-ins and the real talents, they strongly felt that the falling was a step too far.

Especially since they were hurtling towards the ground with no way to stop themself.

She forced herself to breathe and brushed her fingers against her potion bottles. Mist, fire, a couple of healing ones for xer teammates (he certainly wouldn't need one), anti-momentum. Ah, that should work! Unfortunately, it was a tiny vial, rather than the jugs some of them were. It was more an experimental brew since fae was unfamiliar with the ingredients. Oh well, it was either try it out or kick off initiation by dying.

She activated her aura, settling it around her chest. She was going to have to sacrifice xer hand here since the armour always made them too stiff to move. They smashed it against their chest, and suddenly, they hung completely still in midair. He tried to find familiar faces, but everyone else was still zooming toward premature deaths, and it was almost pitch black.

This wouldn't last forever, so they needed another way down, and fast.

Cyra's eyes landed on the opposite wall. They could bounce, slowly losing momentum with every push-off until they arrived at their less deadly landing. A perfect idea!

The momentum potion started to wear off, and Cyra started to fall again. Taking one last deep breath, xe tucked their arms in, moved eir armour to their head, and smashed into the wall. Pain shot their chest, but nothing broke and he wasn't dead, so that was an approvement!

She kicked off of the wall and headed for the next one. With a dull thud, they crashed into that one too. It definitely hurt more than the last one, but pain was always better than being dead.

As Cyra kicked off this wall too, slightly slower than last time but still powerfully, he felt something warm that felt like it was some sort of pillow wrap around xem. It was loose at first, and it didn't seem to do anything until suddenly it tightened, and they began to slow down.

Cyra's thoughts came to a screeching halt. Who was trying to save them, and what did they want in return? She turned her head behind her, following the trail of the strange substance that had wrapped around faer.

Connected to the other end of whatever the heck was wrapping around him was a glowing hand. Following the hand, Cyra could make out a person floating down. The person's entire body was glowing just as brightly as the hand, and two more of the thing that was currently holding Cyra was connected to her shoulders, shooting up and to the top of the arena. That's when Cyra spotted the face. It was harder to recognize with parts of her skin shining like a mini sun, but that was unmistakably Safi.

Cyra's eyes went wide. If fae was religious, she'd say that Safi looked like an angel.

So, she'd just have to settle for thinking that she was utterly beautiful in a way the stars over the woods were, in a way that consumes you with wonder and leaves you breathless.

There was a gentle tug on the thing wrapping around her chest, and suddenly it was becoming shorter, and Cyra was moving up and towards Safi. Seconds later, Cyra was right next to Safi, who proceeded to wrap one hand around Cyra.

"Hold on," she said, barely audible over the sound of air that was still rushing past at a respectable speed.

Cyra tensed for a full second before relaxing and wrapping her hands around Safi. One of them was bleeding, with a jagged piece of glass stuck in the wound. She propped that hand on its wrist, deciding it best to look at it when they landed. It felt strange to fall like this, with another's arm around xem. She hadn't been that close to anyone since... since... He focused on the dull throb in his palm; it was less painful than anything else.

Eventually, after a few seconds or a few years, they landed on a roof. Cyra immediately let go when they landed, the hot emotion in their chest too much to bear and the pain in their hand not enough to distract from it.

Beside xem, Safi's glow lessened, and the girl turned to face them.

"Please tell me your plan wasn't to just bounce between the two walls all the way down?"

Cyra flushed, stuffing their injured hand in their pocket, so Safi didn't see it. "It wasn't my initial one."

Safi frowned. "But it was still a plan, wasn't it?"

Cyra huffed. "A last resort. Forgive me for not having your magical tentacle power."

Safi's frown was replaced by an apologetic look. "Sorry, I didn't mean to make it sound that way. I just...when I saw you smack into the wall like that, I was so worried."

Cyra looked at the floor. "Well, I'm fine." They clenched their fist, a sharp shot of pain running through their wrist. She winced from the surprise of it. Cyra had known her for less than a full twenty-four hours, but Safi was already turning her into an idiot.

"Good," said Safi. "I don't like it when my friends get hurt."

"Well, I'm not hurt." As long as you don't count the glass in my hand. "And I suppose you made that bit easier. So-" She gestured vaguely with their uninjured hand. "- I owe you, I guess."

Safi flicked her hand nonchalantly. "I'm just glad you're okay. You don't owe me anything. Friends keep each other from potentially breaking all their bones when falling into large pits."

Cyra froze. A friend. Friend. She had friends, of course, Saturn and Neptune, who moved to Alenda before things got really rough in Desdemona, but they hadn't seen each other in person for years now. And since then, Cyra hasn't had a friend beside her since. "Friends. Sure, whatever." He brushed a couple of stray dreadlocks out of his face.

Safi smiled. "Maybe you can do one thing for me after all. Promise me you'll tell me before doing something dangerous down in here."

She held out her pinkies.

Cyra cocked their head to the side. "Are you asking for a pinkie promise?"

"It's the most sacred of all promises," said Safi, very solemnly.

Cyra rolled their eyes but reached out their not-injured hand, pinkie extended.

Safi waved her pinkies mock threateningly. "Both hands."

Cyra opened their mouth to protest, but Safi gave them an honest-to-goodness pout. They relented and brought the injured hand out of their pocket. They curled their fingers, breathing deeply to ease the pain in a poor attempt to hide it and extended their pinkie.

Safi frowned. "Why are you holding your hand like that?"

Their hand had stopped throbbing and settled on a burning pain as every minute twitch of his fingers disturbed the glass. "Are we going to do this or not?"A thin line of blood trickled onto his wrist, drawing a stark line of red down their forearm.

Safi's face went through several expressions. Shock. Concern and finally, Determination. She very gently hooked her pinkies through Cyra's. "I'm adding one more clause to this promise. If you're literally bleeding, try not to hide it like you just did."

Cyra stared at Safi's hands, how smooth they were until they reached the bends that were worn away by her bow strings. It felt wrong for Cyra's bleeding, rough, and ragged hands to be so much larger than hers when they were too unkind to outweigh Safi's fingers. But that kind of thought was stupid; whether or not Safi's hands were smaller than xers did not matter. Safi would always hold more things like this, gently as if the entire world were spun out of the most fragile of glass than Cyra could ever dream of. And Cyra had held glass, she had spun all of her glass bottles into existence in makeshift hot shops, but somehow, Safi's hand spoke of more creation than Cyra's ever could.

Safi finally let go after almost a full minute. "Now it's official. I don't think I have to remind you of the grave consequences of breaking a promise this sacred."

Cyra shook their head. "No. I wouldn't want the wrath of the princess."

"Good," said Safi, with as serious a look as she could muster. "Keep that in mind. I would hate to bestow my wrath upon my favourite knight."

"Hopefully, it doesn't come to that." Cyra looked at the shard of glass in their hand. It would make it impossible to wield her battle-axe in the future, which would only lead to very bad things. He pushed the skin around it to test how deep the glass lay, hissing in pain.

Safi dropped the serious look as concern overwrote her features. "I can try something to stop the bleeding if you want. Leaving that piece of glass in there like that wouldn't be very good for you, to say nothing of the pain."

"What do I need to promise to you to earn that service?" She looked back up at Safi.

"A hug, to be delivered when this is all over," said Safi, smirk back in place.

Cyra's throat almost closed entirely. Damn, was Safi really trying to kill her before the voidborns devoured them? "Fine."

"Or..." said Safi, smirk getting even wider. "Good luck kiss." She tapped her cheek.

Cyra shrugged. Finally, a chance for some damn payback over all of these fucking feelings Safi's try to make him feel. "I suppose."

Safi let out a small satisfied laugh. "Thought so." Then something seemed to register as her eyes went wide, and she froze mid-smile.

Before Safi could yell at her for taking it semi-seriously, Cyra leaned in and placed a gentle kiss on her cheek. "Does that satisfy you, my princess?" His voice was uncharacteristically soft, even with its gravelish tone. It felt foreign to speak such pretty words, but it felt unimaginably right.

Safi stood there frozen for a full ten seconds before she finally snapped out of it, her face going bright red although it wasn't the easiest to discern with the glow of her aura. She opened her mouth. It looked like she was trying to say something, but no sound came out. After a few more seconds of that, she finally found her voice. "Yes." It was more of a squeak than a word. "That was a great kiss."

Cyra smirked. "Good. I wouldn't want to disappoint my princess, would I?"

Safi seemed to regain the ability of speech to a better extent as she replied. "No, you wouldn't, my knight in slightly shining armour."

Cyra's smirk softened into something almost reminiscent of a smile. He held out his injured hand to Safi. "Well, your knight awaits."

Safi very gently took their hand. She rubbed a finger around the piece of glass, keeping her touch featherlight. Cyra shuddered. She hummed a gentle tune in a language Cyra didn't recognize. As she did it, she very carefully pulled out the piece of glass. Cyra locked their jaw to stop them from gasping, blinking their eyes rapidly to mask their watering. The bleeding seemed to increase for a moment before it quickly slowed and then vanished entirely. The wound didn't quite close up, but the pain around it numbed.

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

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Thu Aug 18, 2022 4:50 am
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HarryHardy says...


Safi was...well she wasn't exactly sure how she was. She was confused for one. Those people back there had attacked. There hadn't been any sort of provocation. They'd just gone ahead and attacked, and when Cyra's back had been turned of all times. That was the lowest of the low. The only kind of justification she'd been able to see from up there were the weapons that everyone had been casually swinging around. If only she could've heard what they'd all been saying. She couldn't even properly identify any facial expressions or lip read from as far away as she'd been.

Without all that context, Safi probably shouldn't be so quick to judge that lot as people to be kept at arm's length, but then one of them had tried to send Cyra away, and in the lowest most dishonorable way possible. She would not be smiling at that person if she ever met them again. They were probably not making it to Lux, so maybe that wouldn't even come up. Then there was the one person Safi had been surprised to actually recognize from the group. The girl with the shaved head. She's recognize that look anywhere. Ally. Well, that at least explained a few things. She'd always been a little mean. She'd probably ended up influencing everyone else there as well. She was certainly quite good at doing that.

With her mind wandering, Safi almost missed the next jump she was supposed to make. She was maybe three rooftops away from the point she'd have to get on the ground if she wanted to follow the rest of them into the forest. She should probably try and avoid falling down here. Not only would that be painful, she'd lose sight of them and probably get left behind.

Doing her best not to lose focus, Safi let her thoughts wander just a little bit longer. She still had to unpack the bits that had come after all that unpleasantness. For starters, there was Cyra. Her heart had leapt right into her throat when she'd heard that whistle. In a stroke of luck, Lux's faculty had turned out to be smart enough to prevent sabotage like that but she'd been the one who'd distracted Cyra long enough for that... thief to do their thing. She'd absolutely had to go apologize for that. She knew very well if she hadn't asked that question when it probably wasn't necessarily Cyra would never have been taken by surprise like. Sure, it had ended well, but that didn't excuse her behavior one bit. She had to be better than this. What if Cyra had in fact been kicked out. Safi didn't even want to go down that line of thinking. In addition to losing out on the company of someone who seemed like they'd be a genuine friend, she'd be just as bad as the moron that had stolen the whistle if not worse.

As Safi approached the final jump, she forced those thoughts aside to focus on the last point of contention. The newcomer to their little alliance of sorts. Whoever that was, they'd decided to follow them after all. Maybe they had run into a friend after all. Whoever it was certainly had a few moves, judging by the trick they'd pulled when running away. They seemed to be standing up to Ally's club of meanies just as strongly as Kynina and Cyra had done so they were probably a force to be reckoned with too.

On that note, Safi reached the final roof and looked down. The trio were just about disappearing into the forest through a gap in the trees. It was a spot not too far off from this roof, so with one last deep breath, Safi slung her bow back on her back where it had been and jumped off, landing with a simple three point roll before she was back on her feet and running after them. There was no point doing a flashier landing if no one was going to be around to see it.

It didn't take her too long to catch up with the three of them as she too was swallowed up by the forest. Looking back, she could no longer see anything but trees. She focused on the three in front of her. She had so many things she needed to say. Before she could clam up trying to decide which thing was more important she blurted out the very first thing that came to mind.

"Cyra I'm so so sorry. I was being stupid and I distracted you and that nearly cost you everything...I hope you can forgive me," she said, already mentally prepared for the yelling she was sure would follow.

Cyra shrugged, her injured hand in her pockets. "It's whatever. I wasn't worried for a second. Like this one said-" Xe gestured at the newcomer. "-sending me back wouldn't make any damn sense."

Safi was taken aback for a second by that revelation. If she thought about it for a second it would make a lot more sense logistically to make whistles that transported whoever blew them as opposed to custom designing them for everyone, but that still didn't excuse her behavior.

"'re not mad at me?" she asked, hoping her voice didn't betray too much hope.

Cyra snorted. "Did you sneak into my bag in a moment of dumbassery and attempt to get me kicked out of the competition?"

"I would never," said Safi, immediately. She managed a small smile as she gave a little bow. "Far be it for me to sabotage my gracious knight."

Cyra returned the bow. "Then I have no ill-will towards you, my princess."

Safi really hoped her aura currently glowing around her was making her look less like a tomato than she was feeling. "Thank you. I'm so glad nothing happened to you."

"Not even God herself can get rid of me that easily." Cyra winked. "So don't you worry."

"Of course, forgive me again for doubting your abilities o' chosen one," said Safi, winking right back, goofy smile in full force.

Cyra smirked. "I suppose I can forgive you again. This is the last-"

"If you two need a room, I'm sure we can find something nearby," the newcomer said pointedly. "Otherwise, we should probably get moving again."

Safi did a double take. It had completely slipped her mind that there was another person, scratch that, two more people nearby. She really hoped no one could see her face properly right about now.

"That's umm... yup... good... great idea," said Safi, her voice taking on a slightly dreamier note as her brain decided to replay the image of a gentle touch of lips to her cheek. Her cheek heating up in response had to be because of her aura. There was no other explanation. Her traitorous mind was about to let that response stand when somewhere deep inside her brain cells actually registered what she'd just said and instantly her eyes snapped open. Wait a second. When did they close? Safi chose to ignore that as she tried to salvage the situation. "I mean the moving again thing... running... into... these... wonderful woods... not... the... room... not at all."

Cyra shrugged. "That depends. What are you offering?"

That drew a laugh from the newcomer. "Maybe worry about getting a crystal and getting out of here before you do anything like that, yeah? There'll be plenty of time for finding a nice room later."

Cyra hissed. "Damn." Fae glanced at Safi. "Maybe next time, then?"

Safi very nearly choked on her own spit. It had to be her aura that was making this place feel so warm all of a sudden right. Her face was practically on fire. She had absolutely zero idea who was joking and who was not but before her common sense filters could respond (she blamed the heat having fried her brain cells for the filters not working) she blurted out a "Sure". Two seconds later those fried brain cells finally caught up to her. The subject was in dire need of changing before she ended up spontaneously combusting. Where was an evil bloodthirsty monster out to kill them when you needed one?

"So umm... heyy... you were very cool out there earlier in the fight, we didn't catch your name, if you want to give it that is, if you don't that's totally cool too," said Safi before she slapped a hand over her mouth. "Sorry I'm rambling."

"Why, thank you. It's Sylkalyn," she replied. "And you are?"

Cyra gave her a two-finger salute with his uninjured hand. "I'm Cyra, and that hot mess there is Safi."

Sylkalyn nodded. "And the third wheel hanging out over there?"

Safi gulped. Why did she feel so out of breath all of a sudden? That would explain the last thing she heard at least. She could've sworn that Cyra had emphasized... She shook her head rapidly. It was definitely a trick by an oxygen addled brain. "That's..."

"Well, I'm Kynina," Kynina said, almost sounding stung. She was standing a few feet away from them, and turned away towards further into the woods. Her gaze was a little distant but yet tense, like she'd been thinking and then had gotten distracted from it.

"Cyra, Safi, Kynina," Sylkalyn repeated. "Pleased to meet all three of you." She smiled, and for the first time it looked genuine.

Cyra nodded. "Yeah. You should be."

"Cyra." Kynina gaped at them. "Well, I think it's nice to meet you."

"Pleased to meet you too," said Safi, hoping this particular change in subject was going to stick and not circle back like it had done the other time.

Sylkalyn's smile widened a little bit more, although it wasn't clear if she was amused by Cyra or Kynina or both. "Alright, now that introductions are out of the way, we should get moving. With as many people as there are in the arena, it's going to be hard to grab a crystal if we waste any time."

"There is something over there," Kynina said, gesturing in the direction she'd been looking at. "It looks brighter, which I think means there's a clearing and light reflecting off something. There must be a pond that way."

"It better not be a pond," Safi murmured under her breath before she realized that was maybe a little loud and immediately raised her voice. "Oooh that must be something exciting if not a crystal. I vote we go that way."

Cyra frowned as they shoved their hands deep in their pockets. Xer previous energy seemed to evaporate as it was replaced with dark anger.

Kynina paused, her look of intense thought softening as she looked between the three of them. "Is that fine with everyone?"

Sylkalyn nodded, then glanced at Cyra, the only member of the group who hadn't assented in some way.

Cyra nodded, crossing faer arms.

"Right." Kynina stayed in place for a little longer, then waved them over and took the lead. "Let's go then."

Safi followed along as the group headed deeper into the forest. Sylkalyn was just behind Kynina while brought up the rear along with Cyra. As they went a little further, Safi could make out what Kynina had been talking about. Rising from the general gloom of the nearly closed canopy of the dark forest around them, there was a section that was quiet obviously a clearing. Well either that or a massive spotlight of some sort, but that would probably make a lot less sense.

As they get even closer the clearing theory became quite solid, but unfortunately it seemed Kynina's deduction about a pond was also probably correct. Unless it was some kind of other more dangerous liquid like sulfuric acid. Either way it was definitely a large pool of liquid and Safi hoped against hope it wasn't going to be as deep as it looks.

Not a minute later, when they'd made it almost to the edge of the pond, Safi had her answer. It was a little on the murkier side so the bottom wasn't quite visible but some form of light shone from the bottom of it and it was enough to see that the pond was at the very least more than waist deep. Trying to damp down the paralyzing feeling threatening to creep up, she looked behind her towards Cyra.

Cyra stood a few feet away from the edge of the pond. Xe stared at the pond with wide eyes, her entire frame completely still, as if she wasn't even breathing. They took a step back, eyes never leaving the water. Emotions flashed across their face like lightning strikes and eir face was slowly turning grey.

Safi looked between the pond and Cyra. Cyra definitely seemed to have the right idea. Safi took a few steps away from the pond herself, closing her eyes, as if that was going to shut off the images forming in her mind.

Kynina was frowning slightly, looking between them and the rippling surface.

"So, if I were to take the average reaction here, I'd say we generally aren't feeling good about going in there," she said, delivering her words slowly. "But I can see something glowing in the depths. And I think our first crystal is down there."

"Yup. Umm you know go for it," said Safi, flashing a thumbs and a smile she was sure looked far more like a grimace. "Ladies first and all that. I'll stand over here and umm... keep watch... you know... against... rats... I mean people... monsters... bad things." Safi flashed a double thumbs up before turning firmly away from the pond and towards the nearest tree.
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Wed Oct 05, 2022 1:26 am
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Teddybear says...


Harper ducked behind a bush and bit back a torrent of curses. The shiny thing was a crystal, of course, just sitting there in the pile of rocks. It felt as though it had been hours. Hours of treking through the woods in sleep shorts and a tank top, hours of being bitten up by bugs and scraped by, just, everything, hours of avoiding the other potential students because she knew that when the others read 'magical weapon' they probably didn't bring a useless twig like Harper.

Hours of all that, and this little prick just swept in and scooped it up before Harper could reach the lighted clearing. The other not-student froze as soon as the crystal was clasped in their hands, the air around them rippling with magic for just a moment before dissipating. Another beat passed with the student just standing there - if Harper had to guess, recovering from whatever spell that thing had released on them - before they shrugged off their pack to put the crystal away.

That was the moment Harper chose to come out.

As soon as the student spotted her they tensed and wipped out the short sword, which had apparently been strapped to their back under the pack and hidden itself well in the folds and shadows of their hoodie.

Harper held her hands up in surrender, dropping the wand. "Relax, I've already got one," she lied. The student didn't lower the weapon. "...I'm Harper, she/her. You wanna team up?"

They blinked. Their sword hand wavered. "Um...sure?"

"Sweet." Harper scooped up her wand and walked confidently over to offer her hand to shake, which the student took, hesitantly.

"Oh, I'm Josh, he/him. I uh, like your hair." Josh, himself, had a long floppy mohawk that shome dark green in the low light. With some hair gel and proper lighting it probably looked sick, and Harper said as much.

They went on like that for a bit, Josh eventually begining to lead the way through the terrain which soon became littered with jagged stone in place of the once dense trees. Harper could keep meaningless chatter going for hours upon hours if she was motivated to do so, and Josh seemed to know where he was going. He confirmed that notion a few minutes later.

"Yeah, like those visions they have attatched to the crystal things-" Harper had been talking about an old man in the local church who had an affinity that could shift thoughts from one person's head to another. It had some...interesting applications once he'd passed away and Harper got her hands on it, but she left tht part out of her conversation with Josh. "-I mean, I know we need directions, this would go on forever if we had to search for the exit after already searching for the crystals, but they could make the whole thing feel less foreboading, ya feel?"

"Right? The whole thing sent chills - like, actual chills - down my spine. These people are the best of the best, they could probably put together a less creepy-feeling vision for the kids they just threw in a fight pit in the middle of the night."

"And the whole lava thing at the end? What was that- oh, this is probably it." Josh had stopped them outside a cave (tunnel?) with a squared-off enterance framed by questionable looking beams that repeated as they went deeper.

As Josh deliberrated aloud how likely it was that there were traps and monsters in the tunnels or whatever he was on about, Harper eyed a book-sized rock next to her foot. I could still need him to navigate. Yeah, probably. But she wasn't going to get another chance to get rid of him.

She stooped down and fiddled with the laces of her sneakers, mhm-ing along to his rambling. He's too nervous to make it to the end of this anyway, probably, she thought as she heafted the rock up into her hands. He was pretty cute. Luckily this wouldn't fuck up his face. It would probably ruin her chances with him later, though, which sucked.

"-I mean there are some pretty nasty magical traps that even an amature can set up, so with professionals like this we can't kn-" thunk. He dropped like a stone.

Harper winced. "Sorry."

She shouldered his pack, then made quick work of dragging his dead weight to the nearest tree and tying him to it with the twine from her goodie bag. He couldn't be following her. He'd probably be pretty mad, and want the crystal back, and both of those things were just not gonna work. If they met again he could get as pissy as he wanted, but right now, no thanks.

She considered taking his weapon too, but she didn't know how to use it. Most everyone here had been training with that kinda thing for years. Keeping it on her was just a good way to give some snotty brute another option on how to skin her if they felt like it. Some of the fights she'd seen back in the city portion of this fight pit were just about that brutal.

So she delved into the mines - they were probably mines - without it. It couldn't be that hard to find the exit from here.
formerly TheMulticoloredCyr


Treat all disasters as if they were trivialities but never treat a triviality as if it were a disaster.
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