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A Fleeting Eternity - Chapter Nineteen

by ShadowVyper


Ky sat straight in her chair. It was the only way to keep the binder from digging into her side, and she already had small sores under her arms from wearing it for so many hours throughout the day. It’d been three days so far, and Aleth had been true to his word. Her stomach ached and a queasiness lingered in her belly from the lack of food, but she no longer felt a proper sense of hunger.

She’d worked out what the letter said in a little over an hour of trying. As it turned out, it wasn’t too terribly difficult for her to take what she remembered from spoken Lytiasian and apply what she knew about reading in the Trade Language to understand the letter. It was just a businessman from the Port City asking Aleth to help him take care of a few of Makata’s soldiers who kept stealing from his tavern without paying for their food and drink. But she was strong in her resolve to feign ignorance. She was either going to be reunited with Father, or she’d die trying.

Aleth was sitting in the corner, at his desk, working on letters of some sort. Ky sat in the same spot that she’d been at the long table, staring at the letter, mind many miles away. She wondered what the township was like now. Surely Father was a bit grayer than she’d left him. Of course, the livestock had probably already been slaughtered and replaced with the young of year. It was hard to say if Father’s pride had allowed anyone to help tend the farm to keep it from growing up, or if she’d have unwanted shrubs to dig up and burn once she got home.

Ky looked up as Tadaaki walked in and nodded at Aleth.

Aleth set his pen on the table and turned his gaze on Ky. “Are you quite certain that you don’t remember how to speak any Lytiasian, Ky?”

Ky’s eyes darted nervously towards Tadaaki, wondering what new punishment Aleth had thought up for her today. It was beginning to seem that Tadaaki’s presence would always end badly for her – and he’d been absent most of the past several days of her hunger strike.

She wet her lips, silently urging herself to stay strong in her resolve. She was so close to going home to Father. All she had to do was out-stubborn Aleth, and he’d realize that she would be a useless assistant to him and let her go home. “Quite.”

“I thought that may be the case,” Aleth answered, standing up and gesturing towards her. “Let’s go.”

“Go where?” Ky questioned.

“Shut up,” Aleth answered crisply.

Tadaaki stepped nearer to Ky and grabbed her arm. She reluctantly stood and allowed him to lead her after Aleth, into the hall, a few steps nearer the front of the house, towards the sitting room where Aleth entertained visitors.

“I called for someone who might help you remember,” Aleth said.

Ky eyed the back of his head uneasily, apprehension growing in the pit of her hollow stomach. Aleth pushed the door open, revealing a large room with many cushioned chairs. Her gaze settled on the large man sitting on the couch in the center of the room before she noticed anything else about the room.

The man was large and burly, with clearly defined muscles bulging under his too-tight tunic. He had a black hood over his head and his hands were tied in front of his body. A rough looking man stood behind the couch; dagger pressed against the man’s neck. Ky looked at them for a moment before turning her gaze back on Aleth.

Aleth crossed the room and dumped a few coins into the armed man’s hand. “Thank you, you may go.”

The man nodded to him and quickly took his leave. Aleth waited until the door closed behind him to turn his attention back on Ky. “Do you know this man?”

Ky’s eyes traveled back towards the man as Aleth jerked the hood off his face. Her heart stopped as she locked eyes with Mr. Myrond. He was grayer than the last time she’d seen him and his face was more creased with age, but it was unmistakably her dear friend.

“Well?” Aleth asked, untying the gag in Myrond’s mouth.

Ky tried to wet her lips, only to discover that her mouth was just as dry. “No.”

“See, I believe that about as much as I believe that you don’t speak Lytiasian.”

“You mean you believe two true things?” Ky questioned, lifting her chin a bit as she refused to back down from his challenge.

“I grow weary of your antics,” Aleth hissed, yanking the gag the rest of the way out of Myrond’s mouth in a swift motion.

“Where am I?” Myrond demanded in Lytiasian. His voice was hoarse and wheezy. “Who are you? Why am I here?”

“Sounds like he has a lot of questions,” Aleth said.

Ky ripped her gaze off Myrond and forced herself to meet Aleth’s challenging glare.

“It’s too bad you’re not able to speak with him,” Aleth continued.

Ky swallowed hard. Everything within her wanted to run to Myrond and throw her arms around him in a tight hug and never let go. She wanted to demand updates about Father, and the farm, and the township. She took a deep breath, forcing her expression to stay neutral. It was best for everyone if Aleth didn’t know the depth of her affections for Mr. Myrond.

“Sit,” Aleth ordered crisply, gesturing at the couch across from where Mr. Myrond sat.

Tadaaki gave her a slight shove towards the couch. Ky resentfully sat on the edge of the cushion, decidedly refusing to look back at Mr. Myrond. Aleth gestured carelessly at Myrond, and Tadaaki stepped forward to wrestle him onto his knees in front of Aleth.

“Do you know my assistant?” Aleth asked, eyes locked on Myrond.

Ky watched in a horrified silence, entire body tense.

“Answer me!” Aleth bellowed.

Myrond looked at him quizzically, eyebrows drawn, then slowly answered in the Trade Language. “I… speak this… language… unwell.”

“Are you sure you can’t translate for us?” Aleth asked, turning his gaze on Ky.

“I still can’t speak Lytiasian.”

“Do you know my assistant?” Aleth asked, raising his voice at Myrond.

“Please… may you… speak in the… language of Lytias?”

“No,” Aleth hissed. “You’ll speak in the Trade Language, and you’ll answer my questions!”

Myrond looked at him quizzically.

“Tadaaki, bare his back.”

Ky sprang to her feet before she could stop the impulse.

Aleth raised an eyebrow. “Change your mind?”

Ky’s eyes flicked down to where Myrond knelt, then back up to Aleth. Her chest was tight. Thoughts raced across her mind and then disappeared before she even had the chance to consider them. She swallowed hard, desperately trying to think of a way to fix this situation.

“No? Alright.” Aleth swiftly walked to the chest just under the window, bent, and stood again holding a long whip. Tadaaki wrestled with Myrond until he had his tunic pulled over his head, exposing his back and broad shoulders. “Well, since he won’t answer my questions, he must pay for his disrespect.”

“He can’t understand you,” Ky protested, walking forward.

“How am I to know that?”

“He said he can’t speak the Trade Language.”

“I mean, that’s what he says,” Aleth said, shrugging carelessly as he rolled up his right sleeve. “And you say you can’t speak Lytiasian. I suppose I’ll just have to beat him until one of you changes your mind and answers me truthfully.”

Ky’s palms were sweaty. “Don’t do this.”

“I’d love to not have to do this,” Aleth answered, letting the tails of his whip fall as he flicked his wrist, reading the punishment.

“Please stop,” Ky pleaded, chest tight with fear.

“What do you care?” Aleth question, squaring up behind Myrond to take his aim. “You don’t even know him.”

Ky wet her lips, mind spinning in an attempt to talk Myrond out of this mess without blowing her own cover. Aleth pulled his arm back, reading the blow. She saw his arm moving forward, and leapt between him and Myrond without another thought. She threw her arms out, covering as much of Myrond’s back as she could with her own body.

The tails of the whip cracked across her back loudly, stinging her shoulder as they curled around her body and sliced through the areas not covered by the binder. She grunted as the whip burned like fire against her skin.

The silence that followed was deafening.

“Well isn’t that interesting?” Aleth said condescendingly.

Ky closed her eyes, frustrated. She couldn’t let Mr. Myrond take a beating for her falsehood. Father would never forgive her if he knew she let their dear family friend get flogged for her selfish desire to return to the farm.

“Stand up,” Aleth ordered coldly.

Ky picked herself up off the ground, face burning with embarrassment and frustration, shoulders stinging. She turned to face Aleth.

“Strip down.”

Ky hesitated, looking at him fearfully. The binder had blocked the worst of the blow, but from the way her shoulders still stung, she didn’t want to know what it felt like to have the full brunt of Aleth’s anger.

“NOW!” Aleth bellowed, taking a threatening step towards Ky.

She stumbled backward, instantly lifting the bottom of her tunic and yanking it off over her head. She fumbled with the hooks under her right arm. “I know him.”

“Obviously,” Aleth answered, rolling his eyes.

Ky unzipped the zipper on the front of the binder and began working at the lacing, chest getting tighter with each passing moment, despite the loosening of the binding. She swallowed hard, heart racing as she looked at the rage filling Aleth’s eyes.

“You will either take a beating willingly, without having to be restrained, or you will watch as I beat your friend to death.”

“What’s happening?” Myrond demanded in Lytiasian. “Why am I here? What are you doing?”

“Sounds like your friend has questions,” Aleth said. “Answer him.”

Ky took a deep breath, wondering what she could even say.

“What’s going on?” Myrond questioned.

“I am to…” Ky trailed off, the guttural feeling of her mother tongue coarse and unfamiliar in her throat after all these years.

“Before I get angrier…” Aleth said testily.

Ky swallowed hard, looking down at Myrond as she undid the final clasps on her binder. “I am preparing to be whipped.”

“Why?” Myrond asked.

“Because I was caught in a falsehood.” Ky sighed. “And now either I can take a beating, or you will die for it.”

“Why would take a beating for me?”

“Because I care for you.”

“Why?”

“All the way off,” Aleth ordered. “Your back is the only thing I want getting destroyed in this process.”

A shiver ran down Ky’s spine, but she did as she was told, setting it down on the nearby couch. Her face flushed with shame at Tadaaki and Aleth’s gazes on her bared body once more.

“Why do you care for me?” Myrond questioned.

“Because you called me friend, in a past life.”

“Who are you?”

“Take your belt off,” Aleth ordered, interrupting.

Ky quickly did as she was ordered, ignoring Myrond’s question.

“Give it here.”

Ky handed her belt over to Aleth. Her eyebrows knit together in confusion as Aleth laid the whip down and instead readied the belt.

“You’re a bleeder,” Aleth said. “I can’t have you passing out from blood loss before I’m ready for that to happen. Lay across his back.”

Ky swallowed hard again and set her jaw, then knelt behind Myrond, cringing as her chest met his bare back.

Myrond gasped. “You’re a woman!”

“In a past life I was,” Ky murmured, stretching her arms across Myrond’s.

She yelped as the belt came down across her back. Myrond tensed under her as she dug her fingernails into his arms as she writhed in pain. She forced her fingers to relax. “Sorry, Mr. Myrond.”

“Ky?” Myrond sounded shocked. “Kylia, is that you?” 


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Wed Sep 16, 2020 7:44 pm
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Vil wrote a review...



Reading Awful Books Improves Writing is a neat article that might h

With luck, that will make me hate Aleth way more than I already. That little piece of sh-- I mean, that evil little... um... [*insert string of awful horrible curses that would make sailors blush with shame and apologize to all that heard them*]. I mean, really, he's a jerk!

Please, please, please tell me that he dies at some point in this story. Or that he at least has a morally appropriate salvation/redemption arc. I mean... I'll still hate him, but... Well, you get the point.

Have a nice [*insert time of day here*]!!!




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks for the review! Aleth is truly terrible, and I'm glad it's so obvious to tell that even jumping in in the middle xD



Vil says...


Kill him.



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Thu Sep 03, 2020 10:44 pm
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mellifera wrote a review...



Shady!!

I'm back, of course, and here to knock out another review (and finally be caught up again, for now :') )

and she already had small sores under her arms from wearing it for so many hours throughout the day


the attention to detail though!! not the same thing, but I remember when I was one crutches and NOBODY has said anything about how much they rub?? And just like, ill-fitting clothes in general, this is a really good detail. I know you're probably going "mel why are you freaking out about tiny sores" but it's something that can be so easily glossed over, and I really appreciate that you didn't!

Her stomach ached and a queasiness lingered in her belly from the lack of food, but she no longer felt a proper sense of hunger.


reading this while hungry?? weird experience

Makata’s soldiers who kept stealing from his tavern without paying for their food and drink.


such a small interaction, but it really highlights what kind of king Makata is.

Surely Father was a bit grayer than she’d left him.


This makes me Incredibly Nervous. whenever a character speculates about their past/people from their past in a positive light, 95% of the time it means something has happened to them

It was beginning to seem that Tadaaki’s presence would always end badly for her


*shakes nearest object but pretend its tadaaki* what are you doing here why are you helping him what does Aleth have over you uGHAdajdaljklklkadshh

I'm so curious about how Tadaaki came into Aleth's service, and how he feels about being there? He seemed sympathetic towards Ky, if I remember correctly, when they were leaving. Not helpful, but sympathetic, so I'm really wondering if he's just playing like, nice for some reason, or if he's genuinely trying to be helpful, and if so why, what's he doing, what's his goals, etc. He's such a conundrum and it's driving me crazy?? We KNOW Aleth is cruel and clever and Ky is trying her best, but what's Tadaaki's deal??? I don't know whether to hate him or like him but I'm VERY curious about him

She wet her lips, silently urging herself to stay strong in her resolve. She was so close to going home to Father. All she had to do was out-stubborn Aleth, and he’d realize that she would be a useless assistant to him and let her go home.


BABY

“I called for someone who might help you remember,” Aleth said.


oh god

“You mean you believe two true things?” Ky questioned, lifting her chin a bit as she refused to back down from his challenge.


I don't know what it is about "You mean you believe two true things?" that makes it sound so suspicious?? like, she's trying to remind him she wants him to believe she's being honest. It's a good line, don't get me wrong, and feel free to discard this suggestion if you want because I don't think it's of too much consequence, but there's just something about it that makes it sound like Ky is slipping up a little in her panic (which could also be the case, which was be great, and you can ignore this completely xD)

Everything within her wanted to run to Myrond and throw her arms around him in a tight hug and never let go. She wanted to demand updates about Father, and the farm, and the township.


or maybe like, get him out of there and THEN do all these things.

“Sit,” Aleth ordered crisply,


You've used "crisply" now to describe Aleth's tone twice now, and while it's not a huge issue, it's in one chapter and close together and it did stand out to me as I was reading. I know I'm one to talk for someone who uses "quietly" and "softly" like, every other dialogue tag, but I digress.

Ky sprang to her feet before she could stop the impulse.


"before she could stop the impulse" isn't necessary here since her springing to her feet is already describing the impulse.

Aleth answered, letting the tails of his whip fall as he flicked his wrist, reading the punishment.


"reading" the punishment?

edition as I read further: you describe "reading" multiple times now, and I can't find any definition for it that I haven't heard of that fits this situation, so I'm curious now what it means? I mean, besides contextually figuring it out in the situation lol

“All the way off,” Aleth ordered. “Your back is the only thing I want getting destroyed in this process.”


ewWWWWWWWWWWW

Lay across his back.”


,,,, why though


This Scene Is So Gross In So Many Different Ways


Myrond sounded shocked


no, really?

Ok, but really, I would describe this is a different way? Obviously he's shocked, why wouldn't he be, so saying it doesn't hold much impact. I'd suggest something more like: He gasped. "Ky?" The tension in his voice grew breathy now, grew quiet. "Kylia, is that you?"


I know this is going to sound like a counter to what I said in the last chapter, and I promise it isn't, but there is a lot of dialogue in this chapter that isn't fleshed out by anything. It's not bad by any stretch of the measure, you still have Ky's trains of thoughts to break it up, but towards the end it starts losing that. And while the pacing is good and I got caught up in the rush of it, there were parts that didn't impact as hard as I think they should on, i.e when Myrond first gets hit and the subsequent time that Ky does (since you did a good job of it the first time). Since Ky isn't wearing anything the next time she gets hit, I wish there was a little more than her yelping, and while, again, the "writing in pain" and her digging her fingernails into Myrond's arm are good because they're showing the reader what she's going through, we are in Ky's perspective, and getting hit with a belt hurts.

Also, just as a note, I'm not sure if it's meant to be an indication of how the language is structured (if so, ignore) or not, but the way Ky speaks to Myrond in Lytiasian is really formal ("Because I was caught in a falsehood" rather than, say, "Because it's my fault." or "I am preparing to be whipped" rather than "I'm going to be whipped" <- as another note, it seems strange she doesn't tell him why he's here? it feels a little like you were trying to hold the reveal that Myrond realises it's Kylia until the end, but were struggling to figure out why she wouldn't tell him right away?)


The consistency with how terrible and intelligent Aleth is KILLS me but also, from a writing standpoint, DELIGHTS me (but only from a writing standpoint l o l). It's so hard to write a smart villain because it means you have to come up with like, fifty thousand ideas on how the protagonist can even escape from them/defeat them in a way that doesn't undermine the villain's mind. They're absolutely one of the scariest villains because they're consistent and you can count on them to almost always win.


ANYWAY, Aleth is disgusting and a terrible man, as if anyone needed the reminder.

I was actually going to close my review when I wrote that but I just had to say Once More that Aleth was the word haha

I hope this was helpful for you, I'll be looking out for this the next time you post a chapter ;)

Have a wonderful day, and Happy RevMo! <3




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for the review!! I was so happy to see this notif! Helpful, as always!

Ahhh @Omnom has been reviewing Before The Dragon lately and it gave me IDEAS to revamp that and now you're giving me life for this one and I don't know what to dooooo (btw a wonderful typo from Omni yesterday was to call Jerica a sassassin and omg if that isn't the most beautifully perfect way to sum her up xD)



mellifera says...


SASSASSIN it's so true!! do what I do and write both :p



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Mon Aug 17, 2020 3:28 am
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JabberHut wrote a review...



Aleth is just a nasty piece of work and I get more and more furious how he gets away with everything.

I don't see Myrond getting out of this alive to be honest, I'm pretty sure the guy's getting stuck in Aleth's service since Aleth wouldn't want to risk any bad rumors spreading. Ky's efforts are merely to protect Myrond from physical injury, but now if she wants to go home, she has to help Myrond at least too.

Despite how awful Aleth is, I'm glad he's not stupid. A smart villain is terrifying and realistic. He's a smart guy who's seen a lot of things in his life, he understands the human psyche better than most people simply for the nature of his job and the nature of his behavior with his home staff. He's just smart. He doesn't let Ky get under his skin -- she's no different than the others under his control -- and he's practiced in beating obedience out of his staff, considering he's already got Myrond here in an effort to control Ky.

Oooooooh so Myrond could potentially be thrown into some new place where other staff members' friends/family are kept or something to adsilsdjladsf i don't know man BUT MAYBE??

OH and I wanted to talk about the dialogue 'cause I really just loved how this progressed and, therefore, supported the outcome of this chapter. It was just really really good.

“You mean you believe two true things?”


This sass is fantastic, though I'd suggest rewriting this to sound a little more clever or sassier, like "Told ya" or "I don't tell a lie" some quip like that, just to better play the pretend truth-teller she's trying to play up.

“I still can’t speak Lytiasian.”


This made me laugh. I loved this so much.

Okay, back to the chapter itself, I am glad that this went poorly for Ky again 'cause it's simply consistent with everything that we've seen so far. Like I said before, I like that Aleth is just always one step ahead of her. All that said, I'd really like to see some level of success from her so that the reader has some sense of a victory in her future, like this is the heroine of the story, or at least tease us into what major part she's going to play in the story before her imminent demise. Whatever her future is, she's only ever failed so far, and at this point, we'd definitely want to see some success, however small. Maybe make friends with other servants or see Aleth actually reward her for good translation efforts or something like that.

Speaking of, I'm still looking forward to Ky translating things and actually gaining some useful knowledge that could personally help her in her situation as well. Imagine if she ended up writing letters for Aleth in this language and, depending on who they're writing to, she puts in little SOS messages or even develops some sort of code with a pen pal under Aleth's name. Like... I don't know. She's in SUCH a good position to make a difference for EVERYONE who's fallen victim under Aleth that I really think this is the opportunity to see some of those little successes come out of her and see her potential as a heroine. She's got a lot of spirit, a lot of spunk, so let's give her a golden nugget and show the reader that yes, she can do it.

Awesome development. Honestly, you're creative punishments so far have been fantastically brutal. Very descriptive and easy to picture and I cringe drastically every single time, and I'm still massively disgusted at Aleth for humiliating both Ky and Myrond here. He's just so disgusting, and it's just terrifying how well he understands the human psyche in these scenarios. Like he's been doing this forever and I just. He's nasty.

But he's clearly got a mission or goal. He's searching for information, and there's something hidden behind this language that he needs, so maybe Ky will find out exactly what Aleth is after. I'm really excited about how this is progressing and am so glad I caught up. I'm totes ready for the next installment!!




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks so much for all your awesome reviews, @JabberHut! It really brightened my evening to get so much love on this novel, and I really appreciate that you're still following along and excited about it <3



JabberHut says...


I'm so glad!! Don't let my tardiness affect your motivation 'cause I can TOTALLY see a dramatic, action-packed story full of political intrigue and familial love enfolding here. I truly look forward to reading more! :D



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whatchamacallit wrote a review...



Hi Shady!

Can I just say that Aleth gets more and more awful the more I read? I'm also super impressed that you manage to make him so horrible while still keeping him realistic, well done on that! Often times antagonist end up flat or over-exaggerated, but Aleth is very well developed.

I believe you mentioned that this chapter is a bit dialogue heavy - there definitely is quite a bit of dialogue, but I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, especially since the previous two chapters have been quite balanced. The only thing I would suggest if you want to even out the dialogue a bit would be adding more reactions, thoughts, and emotions from Ky - it's an awful situation to be in, she's sure to be feeling a lot of emotions - but you do already have quite a few, which is great!

I honestly don't have any big critiques for this chapter! The characters are staying really consistent and the dialogue between them shows their personalities quite well. The pacing, too, is a nice speed!

Now onto smaller comments,

As it turned out, it wasn’t too terribly difficult for her to take what she remembered from spoken Lytiasian and apply what she knew about reading in the Trade Language to understand the letter.

I feel like this would be stronger with either "too" or "terribly", but not both.

She was either going to be reunited with Father, or she’d die trying.

I like the determination!

Ky eyed the back of his head uneasily, apprehension growing in the pit of her hollow stomach.

I love the description, but I think it'd be nice if you expanded on it a little - did the fear climb upwards into her mind, casting a shadow over her thoughts? did it send its thorns into her lungs, making it hard to breathe? Something like that.

The man was large and burly, with clearly defined muscles bulging under his too-tight tunic. He had a black hood over his head and his hands were tied in front of his body. A rough looking man stood behind the couch; dagger pressed against the man’s neck. Ky looked at them for a moment before turning her gaze back on Aleth.

Another instance where I feel like this description could be spruced up a little. Also, minor nit-pick, I believe the semi-colon after "couch" should just be a comma.
And in this overall section, you use the word "man" a lot - I'm not sure how that could be fixed, but I just thought I'd point it out, especially since it alternates between refering to the "armed man" and Mr. Myrond.

Ky’s eyes flicked down to where Myrond knelt, then back up to Aleth. Her chest was tight. Thoughts raced across her mind and then disappeared before she even had the chance to consider them.

I love this description, and I can definitely feel how conflicted Ky is.

Ky wet her lips, mind spinning in an attempt to talk Myrond out of this mess without blowing her own cover.

This is really small, but this is the third time this chapter that you've described Ky as "wetting her lips" - which maybe you're trying to enforce the idea that this is a nervous habit she has, but I just wanted to point it out in case it wasn't intentional.

“Well isn’t that interesting?” Aleth said condescendingly.

Ugh this guy. Who gave him permission to be so awful??

“Why would take a beating for me?”

I think you're missing a "you" here.

“Ky?” Myrond sounded shocked. “Kylia, is that you?”

Aaa great ending!

All in all, another wonderful chapter. I think the dialogue isn't really a bad thing, but if you do want to create some balance then adding some more reactions/thoughts (you've already got quite a few, so this is definitely optional!) might help with that. You're really good at ending chapter at an intense place, too - I really can't wait to find out what happens next!

whatcha




ShadowVyper says...


Thanks for your AWESOME reviews, @whatchamacallit! I really appreciate it! You are bringing so much fresh perspective to this and being super helpful and giving me energy to keep at it lol. Do you want to be added to my tag list when I publish more chapters? No pressure at all! Just checking in case you are interested c:





Aw you're welcome, I'm glad you're finding them helpful! Yes please, definitely add me to the tag list! <3



ShadowVyper says...


Yay, will do! <3




Do just once what others say you can't do, and you will never pay attention to their limitations again.
— James R. Cook