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Aether's Heart 8.1

by Vincian, AlyTheBookworm, Chaser, ScarlettFire, soundofmind


Warning: This work has been rated 18+ for language.

Written by Chaser

80 Days B.N.D.

The old man shook with the force of his missive. "You will find out that you have special powers in the upcoming nights. Find each other. Flee Synilas. Survive. They do not take kindly to magical fol--"

Purple flames clawed their way up Paimon’s torso, subsuming her head in hot hazy magic. Paimon kept her eyes wide open, and saw the room shift and burn away, turning inside out itself as the fire patterned itself the surface of her eyes. It shifted and grew until it felt like it was cleaving her in two, and Paimon thrashed as violet dimensions upturned.

Her fist flew down and struck clay shingles. Paimon’s eyes focused on the light blue sky. She lay flat on her back atop a roof. She’d scratched her hand on the masonwork when she hit.

Paimon turned over and looked on the pipe clutched in her other hand. The sunweed was still glowing softly. “What the hell did that guy sell me?” she marveled aloud.

Still, the pipe was a worthy purchase. It was a long, serpentine item, with the payload nestled in the jaws of a dragon, complete with ceramic whiskers. Even if it had cost her the day’s profits, and a bit of her sunweed store, and however much effort it took to get up on this roof - she hardly remembered doing it - she’d given herself some premium rest and relaxation. She couldn’t wait to see the look on Mogul’s face when she strolled up and offered a hit.

“Hey!” Paimon looked down to see an old man peering up at her from beneath a brimmed leather hat. “Get out of here, you,” he snarled. He had a brick in his hand, poised to throw.

Paimon pushed herself to her feet and dusted herself off. “Alright, alright,” she muttered as the old man continued pouring out insults. She slid to the edge of the roof and shimmied down the stone wall, landing awkwardly in front of the street. She stumbled for a moment, before catching herself, spreading her hands wide to the man. “See? I’m gone.”

The old man grumbled something else, and noncommittally lobbed the brick at her feet. He huffed past her and into the house, slamming the door.

Paimon took the last drag of her pipe and let it burn out. This wasn’t the first rooftop eviction she’d faced, and damned if it’d be her last. She stowed the pipe in her bag, the bag under her cloak, and most of her body with it. A wry smirk spread on her face, and her conical form fluttered as she took off, looking for new prospects all around.

The bells tolled the hour. Paimon raised her head at the familiar sound.

“It’s not a bong, it’s a pipe,” she said to herself, then chuckled. “That’s stupid. That’s so stupid. Ooh.”

She smiled to the high heavens. “Find the others. Collect them all. We’re in grave danger!”

Syna’s streets ran twisting up and down like a corkscrew spiderweb. Magic users were known for their inscrutable minds, so Paimon thought they must have been writing in cursive with the city streets. It was the late afternoon now, and people had begun to move about, some from their work to home, some from their work to more work. They looked upon Paimon and frowned for a moment, before shaking their heads. It’s easy to be happy when you’re that helpless, they thought. She’s content to be a bum.

You’re right, Paimon thought. Not gonna stop me, though. Because when people convinced themselves not to be happy, they were just going to be preyed upon. Guilt too, was overrated.

The sphere popped perfectly out of the cobbled street, as Paimon’s foot fell directly on top of it. Suddenly the ground burst beneath her, the stones impacting and shattering like teeth crowded together by a new growth. Paimon’s vision was overrun by the seal on the stone, crossed slashes looking so much like an eye, or an open head wound.

The stones that pushed up now crumbled to dust. Paimon was left with her foot raised above a pothole of crushed stone. The people passing by had heard the resounding crunch, or seen the gravel shoot skyward from her feet, and were now looking directly at her. Their jaws hung open.

Paimon spread her hands weakly. “Ta-da.” Pivoting on her other foot, she hightailed it down an alley before anyone could say anything else. She headed for the church.

“Sanctuary, sanctuary,” she sang beneath her breath, though taking refuge in a church probably wouldn’t protect her from the law. Better to just hide there and make things easier for everyone.

The church loomed up before her, a distinctive slate grey, a circular stained-glass window depicting something or other high power. The bell hung in its same spot, waiting to be rung again. The stone stairs were wide and tapered up to a humble wooden door, a simple entrance to the holy something-or-other. They were also empty. The old man must have gotten treatment. If not that, a home to rest. Something.

“Get out of the way!”

Paimon hopped aside, looking in confusion as two men in heavy coats barreled past, carrying between them an animal-skin stretched on a wooden frame. On that skin lay a woman, staring up at the sky, her mouth frothing with spittle.

The door opened inwards, the priest standing at the door, covering his mouth with his robe as the woman was carried past. His aging face was grim with fright. As the priest went to shut the door, his eyes met Paimon’s. “You’d best stay away for your health, child,” he said. “There’s more where she came from. So many more.”

The door closed. Paimon was left standing in the road in front of the church. Groans escaped through the wooden door.

Her bag felt helplessly light. She’d sold all of her ingredients for hybroth potion. She stood there until she felt like she’d snap in two, like her cheap flea-market pipe.

“Mrrrow.”

Paimon looked down. A blue-grey cat with wings folded to its back brushed lithely past her leg and headed for the step. It hopped up to the door and looked around, searching for a way in.

“Pspspspspspsss,” Paimon said, beckoning with her fingers. “Hey, hey. Kitty. C’mere.”

The cat looked at her, and Paimon could swear it rolled its eyes. It hopped off the step and walked around her. She stretched out to pet it as it passed, before losing her balance and toppling over. She landed on her back, splaying out on the street.

“Puah.” Paimon reached backward for the cat; her hand wrapped around someone’s ankle. She looked up.

Standing over her was a man dressed as an angel. His robes flowed around him, rippling a shadow into the twilight. His face was a bit darkened but somehow, Paimon could see his eyes shining.

“Hello, kitty,” Paimon said. “You looking for some medicine?”

“I don’t need to buy anything,” the man said, almost reflexively. He smiled awkwardly, then shook his leg.

“That’s fair. I’m out of hybroth potion anyways.” Paimon released his ankle, rolled over, and stood up. “I could offer you some peoda seeds. Wouldn’t cure you. Might just help with the opposite, in fact.”

She circled around him, getting a better look at his face. As he turned to the light, she could see the rashes trailing down his neck. “You really ought to see someone,” she added. “The apothecary on Razel Main should have some curatives.”

The man shook his head. “I’ll be fine.” The cat leapt onto his shoulder, and he petted her absentmindedly as he looked at the church. “The cures should go to the people who need them.”

“Except no one short of the Idora family could afford that much cure,” Paimon said. “This outbreak is really unprofitable. I mean, unfortunate.”

She waved her hands around, smiling. The man leaned forward, raised an eyebrow. “But you’ve got a way of selling hybroth?”

“It’s what I do. Paimon Fel, freelance apothecary,” she said, jabbing a thumb to her chest.

“Elidyr var Ardys,” the man replied.

“And I used to have a supply, but it’s all run out now,” Paimon continued. “Hybroth, by the way, is just pell leaves and root of riander, ground up and dissolved. I tell everyone that, but the method to getting them is secret.”

Elidyr glanced at the church. “Too secret for this?”

A low moan sounded from inside the church, whirring pain from a torn-up throat. Paimon cringed.

“I’m just maintaining my business,” she huffed. “At least my prices haven’t gone up. You look around and you see clinics marked up double, triple. The nerve of some people.” She withdrew the pipe from her bag, packed in a bit of sunweed.

Elidyr stared at her through the smoke as she exhaled. “If it’s money you need, I could--” he stopped, amended, “--I might be able to get it to you.”

“Well, it’s not really the money either, it’s just, I, damn it.” Paimon thrashed her hair with her free hand. “Why’re you doing this, anyway?”

The orange light caught in Elidyr’s eyes, glowing up his face. “I don’t want to just wait around while people die.”

“That’s so freakin’ noble. You remind me so much,” Paimon groaned, looked skyward and slapped a palm to her forehead. “Alright.”

“Alright?”

“I’ll get the ingredients.” She held up a finger. “If you come with me to help collect them. And,” she added, and smiled at Elidyr’s shoulder, “I get to pet the cat.”

Elidyr and the cat looked at each other. Paimon could have sworn that they were battling it out in stares. Elidyr’s gaze remained tender, but strong, and eventually the cat’s head drooped. Elidyr turned to Paimon.

“Her name is Lady,” he said. “And she says you’d better hold up your part of the deal.”

“I definitely will,” Paimon said, and reached up to pet Lady. “My dear dealer apprentices.”

Elidyr peered out of the alley, looking around for the watchmen in the night. When he saw nothing, he looked again. “Are you done?” he asked.

“Shh, this is a character moment,” Paimon said, further down the alley in the darkness. She was holding her cloak open to display her wares. “It builds character.”

“A drug deal builds character?”

“Builds your patience,” Paimon called back, then looked forward, “And mine. Are you gonna pick an ingredient, kid?”

“I’ll pick soon,” retorted the client. “You can’t afford to rush me.” He was a young man with blond hair, a stiffly upturned nose and lip. His gaze flitted to every part of the alley, taking in Paimon as a source of unbridled danger. Eventually, he pointed to a bundle grains by her breast pocket.

“Buckflower,” Paimon said, handing over the bundle, “a smooth and pleasant ride. That’ll be seventy Gildar.”

The client sniffed and reached into his coat pocket. “I’m overpaying for this, so you’d better be grateful.” He withdrew a belt buckle from his pocket. It glinted in the faint streetlight, the clasp set into a small medallion with an octahedral sapphire into silver metal.

“It’s a Hextech gem,” he said, dropping it into Paimon’s hand as she passed the herbs. “You’d activate it by twisting the stone.”

“Is that so.” Paimon weighed the buckle in her palm. She glanced over at Elidyr. “You can heal me if this thing explodes, right?”

Elidyr shifted his feet. “Maybe. Just hurry up, please.”

“Some things can’t be rushed,” Paimon said, uncoupling her belt. She held her pants up with one hand as she fastened the new buckle, trying to ignore the revolted stare of the client. Soon enough she had the new belt buckle shining around her waist. She grabbed the sapphire in the center, trying to loosen it. “Okay, so I just twist it, this way.”

Suddenly her body jumped inward, sucking most of her with it. Paimon staggered, looked down, and saw her body compressed to centimeters wide. “Whoa.”

The client nodded. “It’s a corset. Though I think you twisted it a little too far.”

“This is cool. This is really cool,” Paimon said. Her spine had become thinner than a pole, the rest of her body sucked inwards towards it. She jumped up and down, feeling the weight of her entire body, but the near vanishing of her torso and chest.

Elidyr looked a little pale. “You shouldn’t play around with magic like that.”

“Oh, but this isn’t magic,” Paimon said, rippling her body like a wire. “It’s just diet and exercise, with a side helping of good ol’ prayer.”

The client seemed annoyed. “Is that fine?” he asked. “Good. I’ll be off now. Don’t follow me.” With that, he spun on his heel and disappeared down the alleyway.

“He seemed pretty eager to get that off of his hands,” Elidyr noted. “You don’t think he-”

“Kids steal from their parents when they think they wouldn’t notice them.” Paimon waved her hand. “What people want to do with their money isn’t up to me. It’s what they’re feeling that really matters.”

She patted the belt buckle. “And right now, I feel pretty amazing. Let’s find a place to sleep, and we can head out first thing tomorrow.”

Elidyr nodded. “We’ll have to find transport too. It might take a while.”

“All of that is fine and good!” Paimon said, twisting herself into a rail-thin spear. “No use discussing it any further. Let’s go save Syna!”


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206 Reviews


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Wed Jun 16, 2021 2:38 pm
MissGangamash wrote a review...



Hello! Here for a review! I'll point out things as I read then do an overall review.

'turning inside out itself as the fire patterned itself the surface of her eyes.' - this sentence reads a bit awkward. 'Turning itself inside out'? also the repetition of 'itself.'

'so Paimon thought they must have been writing in cursive with the city streets.' - I like this imagery.

'The sphere popped perfectly out of the cobbled street, as Paimon’s foot fell directly on top of it. Suddenly the ground burst beneath her, the stones impacting and shattering like teeth crowded together by a new growth. Paimon’s vision was overrun by the seal on the stone, crossed slashes looking so much like an eye, or an open head wound.' - this part read quite confusing. To be honest, it's be a while since I've read this story but I do vaguely remember a symbol or something on the ground? Which I'm guessing this is reference to. But when I first read it it sounded like the stone broke and she fell through the pavement. Then I read it again and realised the stone just crumbled. Just a bit of clarity needed here.

I think Paimon's character is interesting but I found it odd that the stranger was so quick to help her out considering she's clearly a drugged up bum. But maybe this guy is more trusting than I am haha. The whole scene just seemed a bit rushed to me. They meet. They introduce each other then suddenly they're partners?

Anyhoo, hope this helps :)




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Mon Jun 14, 2021 11:40 pm
AshlynPhoenix wrote a review...



Hiya Ashlyn here for a review!! Before I dive into it though please know that this review is not intended to offend you or make your writing look bad!

Paimon took the last drag of her pipe and let it burn out. This wasn’t the first rooftop eviction she’d faced, and damned if it’d be her last. She stowed the pipe in her bag, the bag under her cloak, and most of her body with it. A wry smirk spread on her face, and her conical form fluttered as she took off, looking for new prospects all around.

The bells tolled the hour. Paimon raised her head at the familiar sound.

“It’s not a bong, it’s a pipe,” she said to herself, then chuckled. “That’s stupid. That’s so stupid. Ooh.”

She smiled to the high heavens. “Find the others. Collect them all. We’re in grave danger!”

XD, Paimon really has a sense of humor, doesn't she? She seems like a well developed character, personality wise.
Ahh, I had a little trouble understand what you meant by 'her conical form fluttered as she took off, looking for new prospects all around.'
What exactly do you mean by new prospects all around? Do you mean a new adventure? A new hideaway? A new customer, or something? And you could be a little more specific-what kind of cone? Maybe a comparison would be useful here (ie. Her rocket like form, terrible example but you get what I mean right?)

The orange light caught in Elidyr’s eyes, glowing up his face. “I don’t want to just wait around while people die.”

“That’s so freakin’ noble. You remind me so much,” Paimon groaned, looked skyward and slapped a palm to her forehead. “Alright.”

Did you mean, 'you remind me, or me so much?'
Aaand that concludes this review! I hope you found it helpful ^^
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Thu Jun 10, 2021 5:28 am
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mordax wrote a review...



Hi again! I think we can skip introductions, and I apologize for the small delay on this review, I was hoping to get it all done in one go but I got side-tracked...

Here we go!

The old man shook with the force of his missive.

Maybe I'm wrong, but I thought "missive" meant a letter, so why would the letter exert a force that shakes him?

subsuming her head in hot hazy magic.

Also, I believed subsuming to mean like, absorbing? Perhaps a word like "enveloping", "immersing", or "engulfing" would be better?

the room shift and burn away, turning inside out itself as the fire patterned itself the surface of her eyes. It shifted and grew until it felt like it was cleaving her in two, and Paimon thrashed as violet dimensions upturned.

I was a bit confused by this part. So the room was turning inside out, but I'm confused by the "itself" added in there. Perhaps you mean "turning itself inside out"? As for the fire, as her eyes are open, I imagine the fire would burn her irises rather than create patterns there as it would against closed eyelids. As for the room shifting and growing, I am currently envisioning this room caving on itself, turning inside out, and now I imagine it turning and expanding and it's a lot to take in. I would either dive into more detail on how, exactly, the room is shifting or changing or create a consistency in the changes of the room. However, if chaos is what you are trying to exhibit, then perhaps reflect that in Paimon's thoughts, such as describing how the room is moving in ways it shouldn't, thus confirming that the reader's view of the room should be entirely unnatural and chaotic. Also, how does the room shifting cause Paimon to feel as though she is cleaving into two? This felt a bit sudden and I would suggest pushing the point of how she is attached to the room in order to make this connection seem more viable. Lastly, the "violet dimensions upturned" stumped me. Perhaps that's just me, lol, but I can't really visualize what that means. Are the dimensions the dimensions of the room? I assume the violet is in reference to the flames, but fire doesn't really have dimensions, and how could either the room or the flames turn upward? These are all my opinions, so take it with a grain of salt for I may just be misunderstanding the whole thing.

Paimon’s eyes focused on the light blue sky

I would suggest having her blink here (perhaps the burning of the purple flames on her eyes became to much so she blinked to find blue sky?)

Also I love your transition from the vision to the real world. However, I would suggest showing her winding her fist back in the vision to reflect that shift to the real world. Why is she hitting the clay tiles? What was she hoping to strike?

“What the hell did that guy sell me?” she marveled aloud.

Yesssss I'm glad to see her chalk the vision up to some strange occurrence in response to this new object.

her conical form fluttered

This is another description I struggled to visualize. Is her body the shape of a cone? And why is it fluttering? Perhaps you mean shuddering?

“It’s not a bong, it’s a pipe,” she said to herself, then chuckled. “That’s stupid. That’s so stupid. Ooh.”

I was also a bit confused by this. Is the "bong" in reference to the clanging of the clock? And what is stupid? Her joke? I suggest clarifying both the joke and what is stupid, and if it is the prophecy she speaks of, adding just one sentence after showing her thoughts, such as "She's had a lot of crazy dreams while smoking, but this was by far the craziest" or something (that's just an example, but up to you)

She smiled to the high heavens. “Find the others. Collect them all. We’re in grave danger!”

Lolll I love her sense of humor and I'm glad to see she is not taking this seriously. I would do the same. (also, I think you can combine this paragraph and the one preceding it.

corkscrew spiderweb.

I love this description! I can see it perfectly.

Guilt too, was overrated.

I love thissss, it shows a lot about Paimon's character. She may be among my favorite of the characters.

The sphere popped perfectly out of the cobbled street, as Paimon’s foot fell directly on top of it. Suddenly the ground burst beneath her, the stones impacting and shattering like teeth crowded together by a new growth. Paimon’s vision was overrun by the seal on the stone, crossed slashes looking so much like an eye, or an open head wound.

This transition into the sudden dramatic scene felt too sudden and I had to backtrack to clarify what was happening. I would suggest a small build-up before hand. Perhaps just slowing down how the sphere erupts from the ground, hinting at Paimon's surprise or how she notices it a second too late, or whatever. That way it flows smoothly from this previous reflection into action.

“Sanctuary, sanctuary,” she sang beneath her breath, though taking refuge in a church probably wouldn’t protect her from the law. Better to just hide there and make things easier for everyone.

I am not going to lie, I am a bit confused by what just happened. So she stepped on something that caused a pothole, causing a scene, but why would she be afraid of the law coming down on her? How is hiding making things easier for everyone else? Was this sphere something important and if so, is anyone chasing her for having broken it? This scene moved very quickly and a lot of these important details were lost along the way. Perhaps I am reading to deeply into it, so ignore me if I am.

Her bag felt helplessly light. She’d sold all of her ingredients for hybroth potion.

I love this! It shows a new side of Paimon, this side that wants to help people. I can't wait to see all the layers of her character for I feel there are many.

Standing over her was a man dressed as an angel. His robes flowed around him, rippling a shadow into the twilight.

Ooooh I love how she describes Elidyr this way!!!! I always love seeing other characters through different perspectives.

This outbreak is really unprofitable. I mean, unfortunate.

Hehe, connecting economy with health again!

I mean, unfortunate.”

She waved her hands around, smiling.

I would suggesting joining this sentence with this previous paragraph

Paimon cringed.

“I’m just maintaining my business,”

I have a feeling Paimon talks a big game but feels guilt nonetheles... :)

I don’t want to just wait around while people die.

Oooooh, but only moments before he was telling the healer they were on their own. Interesting, interesting....

You remind me so much,

Who does he remind her of? If you are not going to clarify, I suggest adding in the dialogue tag how she stops herself from finishing her sentence, as though she were not meant to say that.

“It builds character.”

“A drug deal builds character?”

“Builds your patience,” Paimon called back, then looked forward, “And mine. Are you gonna pick an ingredient, kid?”

Hehehe, I love Paimon and her quips.

“Oh, but this isn’t magic,” Paimon said, rippling her body like a wire. “It’s just diet and exercise, with a side helping of good ol’ prayer.”

Lollll

Ahhhh I'm so glad they are meeting!! I feel like they will have a very funny dynamic and I'm excited to see what you do with it!!

Okay, I will finish reviewing part two tomorrow!! Yayyy I'm glad y'all updated this story, I am invested.

Mordax





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