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16+ Language

Everbound Book One : Demon's and Books Oh My! ( Part One.)

by Moonlily


Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for language.

Before we start, I want to say that this will be a lot rougher than the prologue. I do hope you stick around despite the odd grammar tense or reused metaphors that might pop up.

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The universe was out to get her through the means of soulmates. A stupid red string or perfect match. Regardless, it was tightening around her throat like a noose. Or that’s at least what Lilian’s head was trying to tell her over the hollow thrum of rain carving rough edges into crumbling brick walls. The sound pulsed through the floor below her, steady sheets turning into an all-consuming heartbeat. Its pull is so magnetic that even the inlaid lights couldn't help but move in rhythm, flicking between the fading gray of afternoon light and the LEDS burning white.

Not that she cared much, as her form followed her steps like a twisted twin in the mirror. The fabric of her sweater, stiff against her waving arms, sent shivers up her waterlogged muscles. Still, her thoughts ran faster than her feet could fall or the damp cold breaking into her bones could dissipate.

Whoever came up with the idea someone could so easily and flawlessly find their better half was insane. People aren't puzzle pieces designed from birth to click into place, one has to change. The more she becomes an extension of them, the more they are soulmates.

Lilian felt a sigh loosen in her chest like a free marble in a shrinking prison. The smell of lemons smothered her nose, threatening to clean herself out just as it had the toilets. For a second, her body stilled with a shiver and she forced a claw-like hand through her soaked hair. It tickles like a soft brush in the hand of an artist as her braid peeled from the crux of her neck. Water still gathered around every small plat making the black strands even darker. The bangs, however, refused to move as they bobbed towards her eyes while she tussled her hand through. It dipped into coal-coloured smears, dripping below her lash line.

Yet they always leave, no matter how long or perfect the act is. The mask wasn't good enough to sell a partner what they wanted. At least she had her job...

The muscles in her jaw clenched, sending unyielding cramps through her being. Soon came her chest. It constricted, trapping her breath in between two lumbering walls bound to collapse onto each other. A dreaded warmth clawed its way out of her throat and momentarily rested behind her eyes.

Her job, the one unrestrained act chosen by her for her. No pleasing for others, maybe if her next romance crashed before it burned, she could marry her job.

Tired of its rest, the heat brushed off its slumber and flowed into tears. Small beads of warmth that gained the color of graphite further dragged down the trails under her eyes. A cross between boiling rage exploding into screams and the last of a dying whimper filled the space. It lingered like a ghost while she tugged at the thin paper bag like paper towel. She rubbed the puffing skin under her eyes red to smear the stubborn eyeliner.

No, no, she is not doing this here, not now. For one second cupid can take the stupid arrows and shove it. She's here to shop not mope. Biblical flood be damned.

Lilian's sneakers scuffed against the tile, mimicking the soft sniffs she let out hoping to get her life together. Even if it was for just twenty minutes of staring at dusty books and debating for another twenty minutes if she should bring them home. The door stood taller than she was as she yanked on the doorknob, its copper being taken over by a dull green. A last step bathed in the crisp white light before the cast of darkening daylight called.

It was rare for the melancholy of rain to make a carpet look better, yet today the short khaki fuzz wasn't assaulting her eyes. Much like the damp air lazing around the maze of bookcases, the carpet had mellowed to an off-cream color. Compared to the tiles, it consumed her heels like a dusty cloud.

The dust acted as an old friend in the form of hanging curtains. It followed her as she weaved through walls of dark wood battered by time. Yellowed paper and aging velvet mixed with a thousand perfumes from the book's long-gone lives coaxed Lilian onwards. The rain became white noise as it rattled windows and the door, leaving her with an empty silence. Not a soul stuck around today.

The one thing that stayed was her thoughts on the very thing she was trying to escape. At first, they ate at her like an itch in the back of her mind. The kind in early summer there and uncomfortable but ignorable as her fingers traced crumbling book spines. One would die out and another would take its place whispering into her ears a little too loudly.

She didn't even give a reason or a goodbye. Why is she still looking for one? Those words seemed to sap all calm from the store. Ornate carvings or gold leaf titles became no more than fragile cardboard, worthless as she turned the corner. Now the store itself was taunting her. There, almost in mocking nature, hanging above her, were the words Self-help.

A weight as if stones were being stacked rolled onto her shoulders. With no other choice, they sank. Her eyes felt an all-too-familiar pressure like a tap threatening to overflow with hot tears. She always waited and waited ... to get nothing.

Lilian felt like the ground had become tendrils reaching out for her. She didn't have the energy to run. Just like the weather, it stole the beauty of the place. The shade wrapped around her wrist like chains. No doubt a flow of memories would act as the ball. A sigh streamed out of her, one exhausted sign of surrender. Doing the only thing that felt right, she lowered herself down so the shelves would bite into her spine. Then hugged her knees close as a few books were knocked free, their covers creating small colorful arcs in the air.

If it wasn't for their gentle movement and soft thuds, time might have stopped altogether. The atmosphere seemed to hunker down beside her like a full beast, tired from its meal. Her eyes focused on the gray stone patterns belonging to what little wall was visible. Even through her focus, she didn't see much as her churning mind took over.

At least no one is here to watch her pathetic display. However, she was used to doing it around others being weak. Scared and childish, but her act covered it, mostly. Fake is better, right?

Her mind acted on its own. The heat from the tears faded faster than the shining streaks could appear. An emptiness started in the pit of her stomach, creating a few ripples of hopelessness to float upwards. These ripples played with her vocal cords begging to leave as wracking sobs. Instead, her throat held tighter to them and her body curled inwards. Hoping to be as small as she felt while her hand flexed into a fist full of her sweater.

She's going to end up alone and bitter in some retirement home. No lover or grandchild to care about her, let alone carry her memory. Because she isn't enough, not as herself, not as what they want. No one will care about a woman whose only skill is putting chemicals in a petri dish.

Her breathing quickened into bare-bone rasps of air. The sobs that had been held down, pushed forward, eking their way into existence. Her muscles felt as though they were going to snap like a rubber band pulled too much. Their tension was filled with an icy dread as her body trembled on its own. A part of herself wanted the world to claim her right now, instead of being as fragile as glass.

Twenty-three years and all she could do is waste space. More than space, she wasted time, and air.

The world blurred around her into rough shapes. It was blinding despite the shade and gloom. Her body scrunched closer, pressing her knees into her labouring lungs and driving her spine into the edge of hardwood. The leather of her handbag swayed like a cracked, stained wrecking ball, sending more books into a free fall. She muttered soundless words from her trembling lips. They would never meet another's ears, the meaning lost.

Air came in short buzzing bursts like menthol to her aching chest. Her body felt as if it was fighting itself, trying to shake away thoughts with no form. The edge of her nails slipped further into her chilled palms. The pain was slight compared to her temples. In the space between her heavy brows, a pinching feeling shifted into a steep pounding Still it pushed away the feeling of light-headedness, collecting at the edges of her mind. Without it, she would be swimming in her own skull. Her body sputtered out one last uneven sob before she ran out of tears.

She was left alone with jumping nerves still alight and raw vocal cords tangled into knots. Her hand strained to let go of the sweater, convinced it was a lifeboat. They felt tender, as if on the brink of shattering like skin and bone left too long in the harsh cold. With a few drawn-out but level breaths, they wrenched free, still unsure and drawing into themselves.

Cold pierced the silence while she raised a hand to her stubborn nose. It continued to leak no matter how fast she cleaned up the clear snail-like trail rolling towards her mouth. Refusing to let her hold on to some dignity, as reality returns like an unfinished painting getting more washes. So did the pain as it traversed down her spine and wrapped around her nerves like burning sparks. There was a second of protest as her mind, still foggy, tried to grasp at a finished thought. She swayed forward regardless.

Her stomach churned as if disappointed in the meltdown before her eyes, then for a second, flutter closed. Shadows shift into tones of pink and red, with nothing left but the scratchy fuzz of the carpet beneath her. The knots in her throat lessen as if her breath were nimble fingers working away. Her heart stuttered for a few long minutes, stuck in fight mode.

One, two, three...

The swimming feeling receded but forgot to take the burgeoning headache with it. Her inner monologue resounded in her head like a new loudspeaker in an empty subway. A brief break from the critic that circles her brain as of late, like a bloodthirsty vulture.

One, two, three...

Her chest rose and fell like waves on the hull of a ship, luring out any numbness. The stutter in her heart slowed, re-finding its pace. With one big, almost spiteful breath, she pushed her still-wet face into one of semi-indifference.

It's time to pull it together or go back to kindergarten. Starting with...

Lilian's world became the walls of Mcthissles, once again. Although it was not the same as before, neither serene nor a storm of emotion. The place seemed to watch her, perhaps judging her as she forced a dry swallow and slipped off her bag. Its old leather was as beat up and well-used as she felt, as it flaked off in her hands like light snow. It sat on a small pile of forgotten books as if to look her in the eyes. The stomping of rain returned and the shaking of old half-filled Ibuprofen containers built like an orchestra as she rummaged through years of collected junk. Her hands shifted through empty gum packets and scratched sunglasses tangled together, looking for a single glossy strip.

It hid itself in the semi-darkness of her purse. Blended into other fragments of the past, the film, stained brown with coffee splatters, stood out against the cool gray that swathed it. Her finger traced flimsy packaging and chilled metal before reaching the sharp edges, as pointed as a dagger. It peaked out ever so slightly; the laminate glinting as her hands brushed it. The soft circles she drew reeked of stalling. For something so important, it was lighter than paper in her grasp.

Blurred ink slipped in between her fingers. On instinct, she leaned back into a slouch, more like a dance to be comfortable than anything. The film scratched her skin, a little too desperate to shed blood for such a small pocket of frozen time. A dry sweat ran through her like an unpleasant aftertaste when her gaze settled on the photo.

It's just a photo, for Christ's sake. Why is she sitting here letting it have power over her again?

The picture wasn't the sole thing lording this power over her. No, of course not, it was the thing on the other side of the photo that had been so hard to forget. At first, it was nearly impossible to make out much while it turned in her palm. Soon the low light shifted enough to reveal chunky strokes of a marker that once might have been black ink. Now, however, the phantom of the words streaked down the back in a muddied rainbow.

Found a lily in the garden, maybe I'll keep it. Here's to a new start and many more dates.

_ P

3/7/2016.

Her eyes refused to move from the date scrawled out in a drunken haste. The aftertaste turned into cough medicine. It coated her tongue in a thick, repulsive blob tasting like the next day's version of fruit syrup-filled cocktails. For a second her shoulders hugged her neck bracing for a fist to squeeze her heart like an overripe piece of produce. A burning returned to her chest, fluttering sparks of fresh anger. They weren't red hot, but they were something.

Perhaps with too much vigor, Lilian turned the photo back over. Her nose flared like an actor eating the scenery as she scanned the old memory. The overwhelming baseline of techno-pop collided with her brain, and she would swear awkward sheets of choppy hair teased the nape of her neck. All the same, her younger self stood ecstatic in a way that now seemed out of place. Much like the fringe that curled away from her forehead, it wasn't all bad, the eye-scolding neon lights took most of the attention.

If the memories of booze scorching her throat and a morning of sluggish trekking to the bathroom didn't turn her stomach. Then the Woman leaning over her shoulder in a sly cat-like pose twisted it without mercy. Her dark eyelashes played on Younger Lilian's cheek as light as her name had once been.

Without thinking, her mouth formed the silent word Pandora as if the photo had stolen away her voice. Those Sparks reached a fever pitch, and the air whispered sweet words of vengeance into her ears. She pressed the film against her twitching fingers, holding a debating breath in.

Why is she getting upset over Pandora's non-literal box?

Lilian pinched the film and held it away from her like a housewife holding a squirming rodent. Her grip unchanging as she brought her other hand to the other side and bared down. The sound of crackling plastic and ripping ink soothed the anger into mere embers. A mix of liquid silver and spider web-like lines bloomed from the center. Her eyes spared a tender glance at her past self as her mistakes broke in half. Then it too slipped through her hands, the stare back not as joyous. When her arms ceased like drained hydraulic brakes, that very breath streamed out of her like thick black smoke, tickling the top of bookshelves.

The strain of her body lessened, easing into a pattering discomfort, as she fixed her mind to the side that hadn't been so lucky. It looked like shattered glass with the edges to match now raised for all to see. Yet the plastic bent in frail waves as if wanting to mimic her and curl away. A chance her mind couldn't pass up as once sweet whispers rushed like the raging winds. Soon it buckled and flailed between her tightening fist. At first violent like life was being strangled from it in dramatic death throes before it curved one last pitiful time into itself.

Harsh corners melded into a skewed lump coloured with a smattering of neon pinks and electric blues. Not even her pinky dared to twitch or did her breath bait, thanks to the gnawing fear, doing so would throw off her wave of inbound relief. However, the wave seemed to peak in a strong crest of growing shivers before it faded into a sad mist. Leaving her with only the sound of skittering rain and the shifting of her muscles.

Aw, would she look at that, all that effort just to get tired out?

Lilian's mind started to rise from the pits of fled emotion. Her hands passed the lump back and forth like scales being weighed. She should go, it's all out of her system, and this is painful. The building groans as if to complain further while she frees herself from her book pile and teeters onto her feet. Saving the remaining film from being trampled underfoot. Before it could be stored back into the purse's safe haven another groan came from the building. However, it bordered on the high-pitched scream of chains.

Shadows stained both her face, and the bag wrapped around her shoulder in thick gray squares. Once again mockingly, the sign and its words Self-Help stood like a trickster spirit, unable to leave her be. Her eyes fell onto the lump one last time and a trick of her own formed on her lips in a drained grin. The still air dissipated into a current of motion as the lump flew over shelves like a bird of prey, before landing on its target. Covering this little slice of the world in a wobbling ring and soft thud.

Followed by the low yet stubborn scrape of covers against the carpet strangling the books into an uneven path. Weak kicks splitting the path further broke the slight shuffle that trudged her onwards. Otherwise, she might be claimed by the store's unnatural emptiness. There was no feeling of companionship from the staff darting between the floor and the back. Nor did the bell announce another rain-soaked soul here to join her.

“Hello? “Lilian's voice sounded foreign to her ears as if belonging to a husky stranger as she peered around the corner. “Not to be that person, but... there's been a small spill.”

Her eyes darted around, waiting to glimpse sage aprons or bronze name tags. They continued to fall on shelves and small dust-covered displays, their bright colors toting deals. No answers would be found in silence, one that refused to break. As if everyone else took off while the water was calm. Leaving her in danger's path.

“Okay, this isn't funny, I just need a hand”

No answer greeted her while she passed the door. Its inset windows that had once welcomed her in now stood as a gray blur. The clouds sagged under the labour of its downpour. A few rippled with life as if a tossing and turning god beneath a dark bed. A damp gust of air sneaked its way towards her, skimming her skin, raising her hair and forming the curve of goosebumps. Chills traced her spine in a feather-like embrace.

She was a doll stuck in a dollhouse, wasn't she?

The chill seemed to burst into another embrace as she tore her eyes away. Her hands reached for a bell, sat on the desk before her. Its silver seemed harsh against the earthy tones, making it seem like a treasure. A few boxes spilled out from the back rooms and into sight, while she craned her neck hoping to find anyone. Even they seemed deserted, at least those that hadn't been stacked a mile high with their yellow tape uncut.

The air rumbled with the promise of thunder before it seemed to split like a seam behind her. A warm golden light formed like a spindly hand. Stuck within its clutch was a monstrous book, thousands of pages stuck between aged leather and curling red thread. The light had rocked back and forth as if to mimic the rumbling as it grew into a roar. Soon the poor book would be left to crash into an old rickety display. The sound of it hitting the table boomed like a cracking whip as signs and papers were forced off the edge.

Lilian's nerves screamed as she jolted forward, both her knees pressed against the desk close enough to see the tender markings of age. A quick burst of air leaves her lungs as her heart kicks into a steady rhythm. Her finger drew back into a loose fist before spinning around in a tight circle as the quiet fell back into place. Paperers lay in sloppy piles inches before her feet. No gold light shone upon them.

Her hands fell onto the paper, pushing it aside into neat stacks, her breath beginning to level. A sign lies on the floor in a heap, and brown ink loops into the words: the occult 50% off.

Is the irony also 50% off?

Her eyes catch on the book, tracing over the thick scarlet thread, and lets out an airy chuckle. After a second, she turns her heels to hit the bell again. Sounds stir from somewhere in the store, a mix of chatter and TV static. Almost intangible as distinct tones emerge, slipping into her ears like a whisper. Words jumble over each other fighting to be heard through the nonsense.

It seems to shift, voices growing or receding in strength. Something bubbles through her resting in her throat, stealing away any moisture. The air slinked around her shoulders sending pin-prick shivers through her.

“Hello” Lilian tried again, her tongue felt rough in her mouth.

This is wrong.

A dry sweat beaded around her temple, invading her body with a tight-knit dread. An odd paranoia seeps into the bricks and hangs around in a fine unstable mist. The pit of Lilian's stomach gave way like a broken elevator, leaving a restless energy in its place. She rocked on the balls of her feet as more jumbled words came and went.

Leave for the love of all things, holy!

Before she could act the quaint store shook with a deafening rumble as if it were from Zeus's personal war drum. The windows gave a desperate whine before the boom overtook them, and then everything went white. Gray skies had become nothing but a blank canvas that burnt the viewer more than soothing them. As soon as it had left, the store crawled back in through dim shapes and silhouettes. However, that didn't stop the yelp that escaped from her chest.

Either she's blind or that's a lady.

As if formed from the bleak weather stood a woman, now tucked behind the desk. Small bursts of light played on her face, gouging out shadows from her sun-kissed skin. Despite this even her freckles shined like gold-leaf embossed into her being. Yet Lilian's heart slammed against her chest like a fleeing convict all the same. Her body scrunched into herself like a child behind their mother's skirt, eyes squeezed shut. No matter how many times they would snap open, there, the woman in her sage apron stood.

The storm rolled into a lull, taking any jumbled words away with the thunder. But not the hair-raising wrongness. It still evaded the air, peeked through cracks and slipped itself through spinning brains. Taking further shape when the woman crooked out a lop-sided grin masquerading something grim within it. Instead, that wrongness clung like a too-thin demon, burying a sick sense of the uncanny into Lilian.

“Our deepest apologies if I kept you waiting. We weren't expecting customers today.” Said the Woman, her tone a bit too light against the tapping of her fingers.

Confusion dragged at her shoulders, attempting to ease them away from Lilian's hard-set jaw. A bitter taste laced her tongue as she tried to push words through her throat and into her mouth.

“What are you, a horror movie character? Lilian said. The words tumbled out in a mass followed by a pained groan, “Sorry, sorry, it's been one of those days. “

Her eyes skimmed the woman, trying to find any acceptable resting place that wasn't her eyes like a guilty child. After a few drawn-out beats, they cemented themselves on a resting place, the small pin that said in a very corporate but whimsical font. Destiny.

“That I can tell no offence, but you look like shit.” Destiny let out an airy chuckle. “What can I help you with? “

“The offence might still stand unless you can fix my love life. If not I knocked over some books.”

Lilian fiddled with her hands for a brief second, giving a half-apologetic smile before arching her back in an awkward attempt to mark where she had come from. Destiny watched the flailing hands with an intent stare before shimmying out from the desk.

“Let me guess, it’s a listen to punk music and bleach your hair type break up. “

“How did you know…?”

In the dim light from the windows, that sense of uncanniness crept back in. As if Destiny was a bit too tall and a bit too calm. Her movements seemed to glide or float in careful arcs not quite stepping as she walked. Nor did her amber-specked eyes move from Lilian, who in comparison looked ruffled and tossed around. Her braid no doubt hung on a loose thread, the rest building outwards in an unseemly mass. Unlike Destiny's bun, twisting a thousand tight coils of liquid gold against her upper neck.

“Like I said, you look like shit.”

As Lilian trekked back to her small depressing alcove, she attempted to smooth the beast that was her hair. The slight waves refused to bend back into their soft braid, instead she rubbed the dead eyeliner blotches from her eyes.

“I guess that's what you get for making a deal with the devil”

The two made a brief stop as Destiny's gaze left her and favoured the small wrecked table growing a smirk. It felt wrong in the way it shifted on her face, not lighting it up nor wiping the grim edges away.

“Is that why you also took out the table? You know the devil isn't in the book, right?”

“They would have to find my ex to put the devil in it, so that doesn't surprise me” Lilian pushed past her retracing her steps” So no I didn't do that, the creepy-ass voice-providing book did it.”

“Oh, so the Occult book is speaking to you.”

Like a ghost, Destiny passed by her, although for a few quick seconds, it felt more like through her. Her feet graced the floor in small dance-like movements as her eyes soaked in the mountain of toppled books. Nothing seemed to change on her face. There were no long drawn-out sighs or sparks of amusement to lighten up that amber into an orange-tinged gold, as if Apollo blessed them. In the store's gloom, she seemed too bright as she scooped books up in tender handfuls.

” That's not normal or good, you know.”

Lillian stumbled closer, trying to avert her gaze from the bends of red thread. She was too bright. Even her scent hung light in the air, mixing the warm earthy coats of burning sandalwood and the sweet wispy nature belonging to lilies of the valley.

“You don't have to tell me twice. If the books are talking, you run.”

“Well, I don't know about running away. After all, good can be subjective,” Destiny paused, dragging her finger across the spine of the book she placed on the shelf." Sometimes what's good for us oddly isn't something we deem good. Instead, we are too blinded by the past to see what's to come or perhaps you're the type that loses themselves in what others want you to be. It might seem good, but not in the long run.”

Lilian was struck with a shiver, reaching and clawing into her core as her heart stuttered into a brief rest. Her tongue fumbled around her mouth, ramming against teeth, hoping to express anything other than a muddle of thick words. Destiny swayed, arms once again filled with books, and let her eyes pierce Lilian's soul. As if having read her from the inside out.

“I guess that is to say, although, not normal. Maybe it's trying to tell you something that would fall on deaf ears otherwise.”

“Wh- No that's not, How? No, No this is just a rough patch.”

for a second the rain steals their voices, patting on windows like an audience peering in keen on enjoying the free show before them.

“Hmm, Perhaps I was too forward with my hunch. I just figured, someone looking this bad after taking out this entire section, you got some issues.” A bleat in the form of a nervous laugh comes from Lilian.” But you know your life better than I do, miss Edenbrough.”

Her fingers curled into a fist as she took a deep but quivering breath. The dust took away the moisture on her tongue and the smell of lilies of the valley stung her nose. As if she was about to lose her senses in the cloying sea. Small gas bubbles parted this sea with an unsettling haste, as if to urge her out the door.

They didn't even say first names, let alone last names. Maybe it's wise to leave the creepy murder bookshop.

Those invisible bubbles twitched beneath the heels of her feet. As if to push her on her tiptoes past the carpet’s welcoming embrace like an obnoxious guide. Lilian's stomach rippled with more of the stinging florals as her feet moved forward in a series of tense taps.

Something flashed across Destiny’s face, and in an instant, those orange golds subdued into warm browns. Inside them, not as nimble as the rest of her fixed expression, is the twinge of regret. The eerie yet picturesque nature of her face shifted into harsh lines, no longer carved into the skin. All except for the curve of her frown that seemed to evoke the portrait of a cruel Victorian Mistress.

“Well, would you look at the time I should get going? I’m sorry to leave you alone with this mess but with this storm.”

Lilian's tapping turned into a few thousand hasty steps as the clouds still pushed around their weight outside. They seemed to heave with the promise of thick rain and striking flashes of thunder.

“Isn't that why you should stay? I don't think it's safe to go out in that” Destiny took a short breath piling on book after book”. The boss wouldn't like it if I got a customer electrocuted because I spooked them. If it makes you feel better, of course, the staff knows who you are, you're always here.”

Destiny stared at Lilian's moving form like a spell caster trying to land a jinx. It was unrelenting, as if thousands of eyes had opened up and stalked her. The eyes would gain tangled voices as she passed the cursed journal. As if they seeped from the cracked leather.

“Even if they do, I still have to get going and can't spend all day here. Oh, and if I get electrocuted, I'll let your boss know you're off the hook-”

The voices floated into her ears, overtaking the words in her mouth with someone else's disjointed thoughts. It echoed in her skull, pushing down the world, whether that would've been the march of rain or the hollow snap of footsteps. All of it became like the inside of a shell held up to her ear, waves replaced with gibberish. That was except for Lilian's steps, firm like the floor beneath them as she drew closer to the door.

Cold leaked from cracks of light as she drew closer, wrapping around her wrists and ankles. Both seemed to beckon her and border on a threat. Glimpses of Destiny's cool, demanding voice broke in before being washed away in the voice's static waves.

“I seriously can't in good conscience let you go-”

As if on cue, the clouds had moved again, swirling into a cycle of distress. The cold went from coy leaks into long dry strides. Whatever little skin sneaked from Lilian's sweater as she reached for the door handle was stretched with goosebumps. In the dimming light, her hair stood on end like an apparition. The air sparked with the stiff energy of a static shock, forming at her fingertips like a warning flare.

Lights parted the sky like fallen angels tumbling from heaven. The small, distant chime of a bell acted as the first note in nature's song. Winds slammed against the window, dragging out that low roar of a rumble once again. Filling the dark room with forlorn noise as flashes strike the cracking sidewalk on whatever little could be seen across the street. It looked too far away, like a cursed kingdom drowning in fog one might see in a fairy tale. As the light dies out for a few sweet seconds Lilian's fingers, thin and corpse-like in the low light, wrapped around the handle, beginning a slow turn.

Here goes nothing. If she gets struck by lightning, she could sue. It's better than nothing right…

Something bitter laced her tongue as the rumble slipped under her feet. The store sways and groans as the light hits again, splitting on the street like an exploding star. Her fingers hold the handle in a death grip curled tight against the cold metal. Rain seeps from the growing door crack, dotting the floor like clear blood. The light crept closer, seeming to burn her eyes tender, and force her back with a wince as the voices went silent.

“Stop it with the death wish! I know I came on too strong, but we only have thirty seconds.” Destiny's hand coils around Lilian's. Even now it shone like glitter as they pushed into her skin.

Lilian's gaze darts to her, holding for a long second. “Thirty seconds for what? Kindly let go, please the last thing I need is a fight.”

“How did you become a toxicologist being this dense do you not see outside, lady? “

Destiny's grip tightened further, beginning to tug Lilian away. Her skin no doubt bloomed with the start of a muddied bruise placed like a bracelet. Instead of moving with her, she falters back a step and pecks at the grip with her free but unsteady hand. Glimmers of fear and shock switched like masquerade masks on her face, clear to read. As if she was just one of the many items on sale.

“Okay look lady, I've been trying to be nice after a whole ass shit show for a few months. I don't need you practically assaulting and insulting me while dropping information. There's no way you should know.'' Destiny's face goes still, almost like a disappointed parent.” For someone worried about my safety, I am feeling really unsafe.``

“Well, if you weren't trying to turn yourself to ash, I would gladly let you stalk your ex or whatever you want to do. However, you just won't stop playing Joseph.”

The rumble under her feet grew, bucking and kicking like a crazed caged animal. The echoes of the building got lost in the sound as it shook. Knocking what little stock remained up right out of their homes, their forms backlit by lightning crashing down again. All the while, Destiny's face shifted into one of unbridled anger, deepening the lines with sepia shadows.

Is this the time she calls the cops or...

“What the hell! I don't know how you know this stuff, but let go or I will call the authorities”

Fear crashed into Lilian as she stared into Destiny's blazon eyes, the gold seeming to churn into lava, rather than sweet honey. Her breath caught as her hand turned, attempting to free its grip from the door. The fingers around her wrist burned as she tried to wrench it away, her body wheeling back. Adrenaline coursed through her veins like blood as there was a boom eerily close.

“Now, let's not get out of hand, shall we? No need to go overboard. You can either stay by that door and get fried or move away. One gives you more answers.”

Her fingers slipped, letting the burning ebb away to a tender brown splotch. Unlike the storm filling the store with teeth-rattling, crashes like ammo raining down on them. The dark clouds were alive with hot white lightning, pulsing with an energy that seemed magical. As if that magic was old and dark, unable to be wielded by a mere mortal. A dread soaked Lilian's mind, sending pins and needles to alight her already high-strung nerves and tighten her stomach.

“It's your choice…”

Lilian's breath caught at the sight before her. Everything was caught in a glow, one that should have been holy. Destiny's fingers let go tracing thin air for a second, watching as she backed up with a sense of terror that oozed out of Lilian's pours. Her feet hoping to find an untouched shadow, to cling to some sanity. As if the world crumbled away into an uncouth display of mother nature in a bright rage, even the lights gave up. Their surrender was a string of slight scream-like pops.

The walls gave one last futile groan before the bricks, once steadfast and stoic. Now cracked and chipped as if it was a demonic portal opening. Even the windows tired of their fight and winds wailing became painted in thin silk-like lines. Amid the brewing mess, that promised to lash out in a microsecond stood Destiny's statuesque form as the lights bent around her. The chaos seemed to bead off of her like water as her shoulders slumped with ease. Her eyes darted around the caving windows and deepening cracks as if it was a high art piece, crumbling. Shards formed and broke free in flurries of glass, like the hoarse gasp that came from Lilian.

Before their arc could be witnessed in its glory, the lights crawled forward and the world shook. Tunnel vision crept back into Lilian's life, as white took over it all. In splintering strikes of lightning that shook the floor and drove her to her knees, any will was knocked from them. Her shaking fingers wrapped around the wrist that once burned, a sign she was still in some way there.

The world became a blank shaking canvas, splashed with heat and rain flashed with off blues. Her skin and senses crackled with embers and stinging lashes. All the sound seemed to erase itself leaving only a high-pitched ring and the barest sound of haggard breath. Her mind raced into a thousand thoughts, trying to sew themselves back together, as her heart seemed to pound a few seconds too late. Even the wispy hairs of her neck refused to slick back as she shook in a crumple. The tremors were coated with the acrid stench of smoke. Vile and its bitter notes slipped from her lips in warm guttural heaves.

The blurred form of her reluctantly freed hands flew across what would be the floor, pressing it against the smooth white space. As her nails scratched across it, like a rock climber digging into a handhold, a rough edge graced her skin. Its uneven highs and lows were soaking wet and still held a warmth as if pulled by fire and shattered in mere seconds. The rest of it seemed untouched except for the needle-like point that slashed her fingertips. For once, as her head throbbed and her blood spilled, the endless white was broken by red.

“Let's not put you in more harm. After all, I think that's the worst of it.”

Destiny's voice surpassed the ringing, and the canvas shrank back to the shop's browns. Now scattered with ripped pages, singed wood and the remnants of windows. All except for a pair of black polished dress shoes inches away from Lilian's pale face. With another smokey breath, the cogs, although dazed, turned.

“what-”

Hands pulled her back up onto unsteady feet, her head spun like a carousel in a ruined amusement park. A pair of arms looped around her own, the sun-kissed skin unblemished not a single cut, nick, or bruise. Silence returned as they tread over the shards beneath them.

“I told you it wasn't a good idea. Are you hurt? “

Lilian's shakes stilled as her feet were prodded forward, the smell of smoke following her like a bad memory. Her mouth moved in the vague motion of words waiting for her voice to catch up, choosing instead to hold up a bloodstained finger. The drops beading around the swirls of her fingertips in a slow descent downwards.

“How are you not? That was... was something.”

A light song-like chortle came from Destiny as if it was a normal day, the horror of mere minutes ago wiped clean. Stiffness flooded Lilian's arms as they were jostled on one side by a deep shrug.

“I must be lucky or the fates love me. Take your pick because hell if I know. “ She let out another airy laugh” Now are you trying to flip me off or show your wounds?”

Could both apply here, Miss Nonchalant?

“Depends if I get any answers wherever we're going.”

“Well, of course, a promise is a promise lightning strike aside.”

The path forward seemed to drag on through the carnage, her eyes fixed on the shallow shadows of those towering boxes. Even those had been upset, like the tower of Babel made from possibly soggy cardboard and tomes. The doll house was no longer an unspoken threat, instead, it was thrown down five sets of stairs spinning all the way.

Okay, this has to be the wrong way. They should have stopped at the door like sane people.

“Can't we have this answer fest while I'm leaving? You know I still have a life to get to.”

“What part of lightning strikes aside makes you think you're just ready to go?”

“Excuse me, I won't apologize for being partial on not being a hostage.”

“Relax, you're not a hostage, and secondly maybe I'm not the one you should sass little miss timid. "She studied Lilian for a second. " Anyway, I think it's wise to wait a bit longer, so I was thinking of having some tea and your answers. Maybe clean up the uh, what is that spittle?”

“Don't phrase it like I'm a baby having to be burped... we are still strangers.”

“I’m not too sure about that.”


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Fri Jun 14, 2024 12:39 pm
goodolnoah wrote a review...



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Hello there, one of King Koopa’s loyal henchmen, here!

Hello again! ~ Writing Commentary

Your descriptions are beautiful, truly electrifying! I feel like I have much to learn from your writing!

The muscles in her jaw clenched, sending unyielding cramps through her being. Soon came her chest. It constricted, trapping her breath in between two lumbering walls bound to collapse onto each other. A dreaded warmth clawed its way out of her throat and momentarily rested behind her eyes.


This, and the other descriptions of her making her way through the building seem to paint a picture of her fallout with Fate. It seems like she’s having a panic attack of some kind, I can only imagine how it must feel to make a devious deal in the shadows.

Those words seemed to sap all calm from the store. Ornate carvings or gold leaf titles became no more than fragile cardboard, worthless as she turned the corner. Now the store itself was taunting her. There, almost in mocking nature, hanging above her, were the words Self-help.


I really like this description here! In the beginning, it really feels like Lilian’s instability is being emphasized. The mocking sign(?) hanging above her saying “self-help” got a bit of a laugh out of me. There’s symbolism, character, and great writing all here!

Her breathing quickened into bare-bone rasps of air. The sobs that had been held down, pushed forward, eking their way into existence. Her muscles felt as though they were going to snap like a rubber band pulled too much. Their tension was filled with an icy dread as her body trembled on its own. A part of herself wanted the world to claim her right now, instead of being as fragile as glass.


This really emphasizes the desperation of her cries. It seems the setting is a bookstore, so seeing that she appears to take solace in this space is a good bit of character-building.

One, two, three...
The swimming feeling receded but forgot to take the burgeoning headache with it. Her inner monologue resounded in her head like a new loudspeaker in an empty subway. A brief break from the critic that circles her brain as of late, like a bloodthirsty vulture.
One, two, three...
Her chest rose and fell like waves on the hull of a ship, luring out any numbness. The stutter in her heart slowed, re-finding its pace. With one big, almost spiteful breath, she pushed her still-wet face into one of semi-indifference.

I LOVE how the descriptions when she is calming herself are at first very violent, calming to a lighter (still slightly violent) feeling.

No answer greeted her while she passed the door. Its inset windows that had once welcomed her in now stood as a gray blur. The clouds sagged under the labour of its downpour. A few rippled with life as if a tossing and turning god beneath a dark bed. A damp gust of air sneaked its way towards her, skimming her skin, raising her hair and forming the curve of goosebumps. Chills traced her spine in a feather-like embrace.


The imagery of her being a doll stuck in a dollhouse maybe eludes to how she feels quite lonely as a symbol of royalty in this world? Much of the descriptions thus far have created a more downtrodden and negative (a good thing, of course!) feel for things.

Like a ghost, Destiny passed by her, although for a few quick seconds, it felt more like through her. Her feet graced the floor in small dance-like movements as her eyes soaked in the mountain of toppled books. Nothing seemed to change on her face. There were no long drawn-out sighs or sparks of amusement to lighten up that amber into an orange-tinged gold, as if Apollo blessed them. In the store's gloom, she seemed too bright as she scooped books up in tender handfuls.


Destiny is a cool character! I like how this description of her heading over to the books makes her out as a very calm, almost emotionless figure, in contrast to Lillian thus far.

Some recommendations…

Her stomach churned as if disappointed in the meltdown before her eyes, then for a second, flutter closed.


I think you probably mean “fluttered” closed.

“Well, would you look at the time I should get going? I’m sorry to leave you alone with this mess but with this storm.”


This line from Lillian may read better as “Well, would you look at the time. I should get going. I’m sorry to leave you alone with this mess but with this storm…”

I assume that she’s trying to assert that she’s trying to leave. I’m not sure if having this as a question makes sense in context.

“What the hell! I don't know how you know this stuff, but let go or I will call the authorities”


You would want a period or an exclamation mark at the end of this sentence.

I guess if I had any other recommendations…It could be to increase the descriptions of where Lillian is traveling to. Your writing regarding her feelings is GREAT! I just felt slightly confused on where she actually was midway through the story. I had thought she’d gone back to where she started the story in (where she made a deal with Fate?) until I realized she was still in the bookstore with Destiny. Though, this could be me confusing myself, since I don’t actually read that much, lol. Your writing style is very “wordy” (not a bad thing!) with heavy descriptions, so I may have gotten lost on the context there.
(I take some of this statement back, because the descriptions towards the end after Destiny is introduced are great!)

Love and…Lightning! ~ Story Commentary

Okay…After reading this entire chapter this is my brief summarization of events.

Lillian has been through a bad breakup with someone named Pandora, she traveled to a bookstore/library with her emotions high, and she met Destiny (maybe the literal manifestation of destiny), the supposed attendant at the library, who urged her not to leave. Lightning strikes nearby the bookstore, causing the glass of the store to break, and injuring Lillian. Destiny opts to take her deeper into the bookstore to heal her wounds…somehow.

Tears…tears ~ Closer

Overall, this is a great chapter 1! Your descriptions are top notch and you should surely be proud of yourself! I really consider myself more of a “beginner” writer still, but this writing here is great! Word choice is vivid and imaginative, doing it’s job to create a wonderful and meaningful image of what is happening here. Good stuff!




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Sun Jun 02, 2024 6:21 pm
Ley wrote a review...



Hello fellow writer! Ley here to write a tortoise-y review on this amazing work you've published! This is a new review style that I'm using only for the month of June, in spirit of the Great Tortoise Race! Let's get started, 'shell' we? xD

Shell Start:
So, here we are, getting ready to dive into this story! Let's recap: in the first part, the prologue, Fate was trying to convince the queen to give them her diary in return for life. In the next part, the introduction to this part, you expanded on sacrifice and how humans can't help that that's part of them. Now, moving onto this piece, it seems like we're finally meeting Destiny! Not sure if this 'Destiny' is actually a real person, or the figure destiny even after reading, but I feel like its the second one? It would make sense, being as you introduced Fate in the prologue, so I'll just write this review as if I'm correct on that.

Favorite Leaf:
Here, we go to know Lilian. Not sure if this is the Queen from the prologue, I'm guessing she is? But maybe not. Is she?

If she is the Queen, I really do love how you showed what type of person she really is. Your use of sensory descriptions was truly mind boggling and amazing, like the words;

thick, repulsive blob


This really immersed the reader in Lilian's thoughts and allowed the reader to feel these things as well. I really love reading imagery and descriptions, and yours were absolutely perfect! You also used photographic imagery-- while Lilian was looking at the photograph she felt dismay and disassociation: she wants to sever ties with painful memories that haunt her. This gives us some perspective into her past, and possibly foreshadows for future chapters.

Now, for character dynamics! Oh my, Lilian seems deeply troubled, and by destroying the photo in the beginning highlights her vulnerability and and senses of being completely overwhelmed. I feel like the weather presented later on in the chapter can represent Lilian's overall internal chaos. And then she enters the bookstore and feels even more dread and apprehension, which also adds to character description and themes.

I really did enjoy your descriptions of the setting: the eerie bookstore that seems to really mess with Lilian's head. When she meets Destiny, she seems to act pretty defensive, which I'd think would be normal for someone who just sees Destiny appear right in from of them. Seems on theme and valid. xD The ending when Destiny keeps her from making a bad decision, and promises that she's 'not a hostage' was a great way to end the chapter!

Shell Fractures:
I couldn't find anything to point out in this chapter besides some silly (and small) grammar mistakes, so I won't put anything here. This chapters descriptions and flow was perfect! Nothing huge I'd recommend or suggest changing.

Tortoise Wisdom:
This has to be my favorite description, as I love the greek mythology reference and I'm a sucker for vivid descriptions:

Like a ghost, Destiny passed by her, although for a few quick seconds, it felt more like through her. Her feet graced the floor in small dance-like movements as her eyes soaked in the mountain of toppled books. Nothing seemed to change on her face. There were no long drawn-out sighs or sparks of amusement to lighten up that amber into an orange-tinged gold, as if Apollo blessed them.


Lovely!

Also this:

Something flashed across Destiny’s face, and in an instant, those orange golds subdued into warm browns. Inside them, not as nimble as the rest of her fixed expression, is the twinge of regret. The eerie yet picturesque nature of her face shifted into harsh lines, no longer carved into the skin. All except for the curve of her frown that seemed to evoke the portrait of a cruel Victorian Mistress.


I love this little excerpt, even though it's a bit creepy and offsetting. I think that it really added dramatic irony to this piece, and I could totally imagine associating browns with the feelings of regret. Amazing job here!

Overall:
This was a fast paced, descriptive, and eerily prominent chapter! I love the fact you introduced Destiny here, so maybe next chapter we'll meet someone like 'Lust' or 'Greed'? Just taking a guess. :D

Thank you for taking the time to read this review! I hope to see you join the race, and keep being awesome! Happy Writing~

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Moonlily says...


Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed reading it.



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Mon Apr 15, 2024 4:08 pm
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RavenAkuma wrote a review...



Hello Again, My Friend!

It's me, Raven, and I'd like to review the next chapter in this great story using my Familiar method! Let's dive in, shall we? Heh heh heh...

What The Black Eyes See...

WOW. This chapter caught me by surprise! Partly because of the sheer volume -not complaining, I love big chapters! Though for that reason, this review will probably be lengthy, so I apologize for that ~

Everything here was so good!! Following the vividly narrated sequence that Lillian finds herself in was such a somber yet brilliant experience. Then as the chapter leads into Destiny's arrival, things took a mysterious turn that had me absolutely fascinated. With that uncertainty about her character, Lillian being "trapped" with Destiny due to the storm also created a bit of tension to help build the mood, and added some anticipation for what's to come. Let's get into the details though.

Where The Dagger Points...

Not much to put here! It will probably look that way, but it's a big chapter, so even these suggestions account for a tiny portion of it. Descriptions, dialogue, tone and mood; you may call it a rough draft, but I would think it's the rough draft of a professional! I almost feel unworthy of critiquing it, but in hopes of helping you bring your work to its best as we all do on YWS, I will try...

I have so little to complain about as far as chapter content and story goes, most of these will have to do with specific instances regarding grammar and such -and considering this is a "rougher" draft, I would take these very lightly.

To start, I noticed a couple of sentences that I thought were broken off a bit too early, like here:

If the memories of booze scorching her throat and a morning of sluggish trekking to the bathroom didn't turn her stomach. Then the Woman leaning over her shoulder in a sly cat-like pose twisted it without mercy.


The building groans as if to complain further while she frees herself from her book pile and teeters onto her feet. Saving the remaining film from being trampled underfoot.


In either instance, I personally thought it would have felt a little bit nicer to see the sentences conjoined by a comma, rather than broken by a period. "If the booze scorching her throat didn't turn her stomach, then the woman..." and "The building groans as if to complain further while she frees herself from her book pile and teeters onto her feet, saving the remaining film."

Then I thought I spotted a possible typo here:

Paperers lay in sloppy piles inches before her feet.


[Papers], perhaps? And finally, some minor grammatical notes...

“What are you, a horror movie character? Lilian said.


That question is just missing a quotation mark, and then...

“Well, would you look at the time I should get going? I’m sorry to leave you alone with this mess but with this storm.”


The first was a bit of a run-on, whereas the second felt a bit cut off. It does capture the "rushed" feeling of the moment, so it does work as it is, though perhaps it would read nicer as something like..."Well, would you look at the time? I should get going; I'm sorry to leave you alone with this mess, but with this storm..." Not that exactly, perhaps, but a variant of it?

And of course, I am not a professional, so please always take my advice with a grain of salt. Do not feel pressured to make any changes you're not comfortable with, and know I still very much enjoyed this chapter as it is ~

Why The Grin Widened...

Ah, where to begin?! There's so much I could condense into this section, haha!

First of all, I have to say it again. Descriptions! So vivid, so beautiful! Detailed visuals and great sensory notes really make your settings pop, and just immediately sucked me into the moment. Like this one, here:

The dust acted as an old friend in the form of hanging curtains. It followed her as she weaved through walls of dark wood battered by time. Yellowed paper and aging velvet mixed with a thousand perfumes from the book's long-gone lives coaxed Lilian onwards. The rain became white noise as it rattled windows and the door, leaving her with an empty silence.


The aging of the wood, the clash of scents, the white noise of the rain; gosh, your attention to detail is impeccable here! And going beyond descriptions of the setting, I kept finding very poetic tidbits that were very pleasant to read, and reflected well on the main character's feelings and the overall mood of the story. Like, for one example, this here:

She muttered soundless words from her trembling lips. They would never meet another's ears, the meaning lost.


The note of unheard, lost words feels very ethereal. It invokes a sense of intense loneliness, and maybe even invisibility. With what we know about Lillian so far, that fits, so it worked very well!

Speaking of the main character, I like her a lot so far. She is easy to understand, though at the same time, there are mysterious fragments to her being that make me want to learn more. It is easy to empathize with her, and following her internal monologue, we got some very interesting glimpses of her struggles:

Whoever came up with the idea someone could so easily and flawlessly find their better half was insane. People aren't puzzle pieces designed from birth to click into place, one has to change.


I especially liked that line as a bit of realistic wisdom, and it immediately gave us a general idea of what she's going through and what she's struggling with. It was also great to see how it's rubbing off on her self-image and how she views her current state of being:

At least no one is here to watch her pathetic display. However, she was used to doing it around others being weak. Scared and childish, but her act covered it, mostly. Fake is better, right?


Moving ahead a bit, to the encounter with Destiny, I really enjoyed their interaction. She struck me as an interesting character from her debut, and her mention of the occult books, but as they got more into the conversation, she gave us some great lines that I thought reflected on her experience:

“Well, I don't know about running away. After all, good can be subjective,” Destiny paused, dragging her finger across the spine of the book she placed on the shelf." Sometimes what's good for us oddly isn't something we deem good. Instead, we are too blinded by the past to see what's to come or perhaps you're the type that loses themselves in what others want you to be.”


Love that, from the way it was said to the sense of realism behind it. Likewise, I did enjoy the dry humor that was added to the moment, with her and Lillian's snide remarks. Like this one:

“I must be lucky or the fates love me. Take your pick because hell if I know. “ She let out another airy laugh” Now are you trying to flip me off or show your wounds?”

Could both apply here, Miss Nonchalant?


It was enjoyable, and it added some balance to the very grim and gloomy mood of the chapter in a very fitting way. Nicely done there ~

And finally, that ending! What an eerie line to leave the chapter on.

Our Mad Thoughts...

Overall, this chapter was awesome! You're showing off a lot of skill as a writer! Again, apologies for the long review. For the future, if you want, you can clarify here if you want me to focus more or less on something (more highlights, more critiques, make more notes on something specific like characters, etcetera).

Nicely done! :D

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Moonlily says...


Thank you for the good feedback and for catching the typos. I think that Grammarly is odd lol. I will gladly take long reviews. It helps me see what I am doing right and what I need to keep an eye on. I am glad you like long chapters I fear part two is a bit beefy. :)



RavenAkuma says...


No problem! Excited to see what you put out ^^



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Sat Apr 13, 2024 7:52 am
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Animist1 wrote a review...



Hi my name is Animist1 but some people call me Bamzygold because it is my nickname (Good morning/ Good afternoon/ Good evening) whatever time it is in your country. --------------- Let me say i am speechless, this story is the longest story i have ever read on this website, i love your grammar, truely speaking i had to use goggle to know the meaning of some spelings, i am not joking. --------------- If i am asked to rate your story, i am going to rate 99.9%/100% or even 100%/100% or rate 5/5 stars, this work just keep's amazing me, in fact i am jealous. If YOUNG WRITERS SOCIETY were awarding people, you wold get the highest reward because your story is amazing, i wish the whole world could see this. [pls if i made any mistakes don't forget to leave a reply because no one is perfect.] THANKS




Moonlily says...


thank you for the nice words I hope you you will keep reading!




Everything is a lot of things!
— Hank Green