#had to power through some Fast and Heavy art block for this one
sixofclovers · 3 months ago
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critrole post apocalypse punk future is now 
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aconstantstateofbladerunner · 9 months ago
The Glitch
I get the Broken Reality au is a haha funny joke but there’s been some legit great art for it and since Butterfly is over and I haven’t gotten into the groove of my other projects yet, I decided to try some flash fiction of my interpretations. Note that this is very small and informal; I used whatever idea came into my head over the course of an hour or so instead of the weeks of planning that go into my usual fics. This was an experiment for fun. But if people enjoy the concept, I may be tempted to expand on it.
Credit to @lollitree @moonpaw @gentrychild​ @owlf45​ and @cyber-phobia​ (I’m sorry if I missed someone I lost track of how many people were involved in this mess).
Content working for reference to infant death.
Please enjoy!
The city shut down for a typhoon warning.  Thunder rumbled in the distance.  Dark clouds blocked the sun so much that by mid-morning it still looked like it never bothered coming up.  And yet the humidity made it too hot for coffee.  Inko didn’t know how to feel.  Work would have been a good distraction.  But she didn’t want any coworkers or clients to see if today got to be too much.  And it was already shaping up to be.  She caught herself making two plates of food for breakfast.  
Inko sat alone in the kitchen.  She couldn’t bring herself to finish her own plate.  Sickness set in fast.  The food had been cold for a long time before she summoned the strength to get up and throw it away.  Then she stood over the open trash can a while, debating whether to try and hold it together, or just throw up and get it over with.  She eventually managed to keep her stomach steady enough to go back to her bedroom.  There was another trashcan in there anyway.
A sound stopped her.  From her office.  The distinct sound of something heavy falling onto the carpet.  Right as she walked past the door.
Please not this again…
She opened the door with her eyes closed.  Her mind conjured a familiar image.  A bedroom full of books and hero posters.  Bright colors and personal touches.  A child’s room.  Inko opened her eyes to her drab home office.  Some of the older case file binders slipped off the pile again.  She really needed to sort those into storage. Not today though.  She didn’t bother to pick it up.
Inko walked faster than normal the rest of the way to her room.  She doesn’t want to face the temptation to search for old toys she remembers storing in the empty closet.  Or search the walls for scuff marks from action figures tossed into them she could always see even after the walls were painted. She hid her planner on a tall shelf and put the ladder away to make it that much harder to go through it over and over looking for doctors’ appointments and school events she knew were coming up.  Finally reaching her bed brought no comfort.
Of course she knew today’s date by heart.  She hadn’t put it on a calendar in the fourteen years since she used to look at it every day.  Inko stuck her head under her pillows, as if they could block out the silent noise of her memories.  Memories of before, the time even when she was by herself, she was never alone.
Fifteen years now, today.  With a shuddering gasp, the tears finally came.  Thunder crashed outside.  It’s not fair!  Why is it still this hard after this long?  Phantom kicks in her belly joined the growing ice there.
The hardest part was she still felt like that sometimes.  Like she wasn’t really alone.  Inko didn’t believe in ghosts, but the lost of what could have been was more than haunting enough.  She felt it watching her.  Judging her. Waiting just long enough for her to settle down into a peaceful, content existence before it reared up to plague her heart all over again.  Cliché hauntings like spooky faces in the mirror or blood coming out of the drains would have been preferable.  Those would be generic enough not to remind her directly.
Rain started outside.  Her phone lit up with a notification she ignored in time with a thunderclap.  The storm was getting closer.
Maybe I should call Hisashi, the thought crossed her mind.  Maybe he’s going through this too.  She bit her lip bloody.  Her frustrated memories weren’t in question like the others.  Probably not though.  I don’t want to talk to him anyway.
Hisashi had been stuck in the denial stage of grief, which often came off as him acting like he didn’t take hers seriously.  Not a year, not even half a year looking back, after they came home from the hospital, he wanted to try again.  
“We can’t let mourning hold us up forever,” he said.  “And it’s not like we lost a once in a lifetime opportunity!  We’ve got at least another twenty years to keep trying!”
But we did lose him! she had wanted to scream.  Still did, years later.  Why didn’t he understand?  He was your loss too!  Inko wanted for the next roll of thunder, then shouted.  
“I don’t just want any baby!  I want Izuku!”
The lights went out.  The temperature rose five degrees instantly when the ceiling fan stopped going.  The rain stopped.
Power outage.  Inko sat up with a sniffle.  Turns out the notification was a warning about roving blackouts.  Of course.  Oh well. I wasn’t really in the mood to cook tonight any-
Thunder boomed even louder than before, making her jump.  Then another.  Lightning flashed outside at the same time.  It was right on top of her.
What?  I thought the typhoon wasn’t supposed to make landfall until later toni-
Another crash.  It vibrated through her bones.  Then another. The lightning lit up her whole room. Except for a shadow on the wall. Inko jolted to look, holding her breath, and found only her own shadow in the next flash.
“I’m such an idiot…”  She went for her phone again.  For peace of mind, she decided to use her data to check if an evacuation order went out. Or any updates at all really, since the weather came so much faster than the news said.  “Nothing,” she sighed annoyed.  “I hate being alone for weather like this…”
A new notification pinged.
Inko blinked rapidly.  The message remained.  All of her insides turned inside out in an instant, and she started crying again. Was this someone’s idea of a sick joke? No one ever got a chance to call her that.  She touched the note to open it, but nothing happened.  No app or source was displayed.  Nor did it go away after a few seconds like normal.  
“Wha- What’s going on?” she wept.  In a mix of sorrow and rage, she wound up to chunk the device across the room.  But she froze.
Outside her window, floating against the pitch-black sky, were two small orbs.  Perfectly circular and glowing.  Watching her. She didn’t dare move.  
Another ping.  She looked without moving.
[I’m sorry]
“…  What?”
For a moment, all the sounds in the world dropped out.  They all came back at ounce.
Lights flickered.  Both the ones inside and the lightning going outside.  Multiple strikes laid on top of one another.  No relief.  Thunder pounded over and over like a drum solo.  It shook the whole building.  Inko ran into the closet away from the window.  She slammed her hands over her eyes but it didn’t help.  Her terrified cried were whispers to the screams of the storm.
A child’s scream.  She heard it. Each flash of light came with a cry. The distinct sound of a little boy calling out in pain blended with unyielding nature.  It came from every direction.  Every hair on Inko’s arms stood up in fear.  She felt the charge in the air.  But she had to go out.  Her baby was crying for help.
She burst from the closet into the living room.  All the lights and appliances turned themselves on and off.  The TV showed only static between its flashes. Something drew her too it.  The storm was deafening.  It pounded through her head like a heartbeat.  The beats got faster.  The static flashes started to look like a face.  Her usual caution was abandoned as she fell to her knees and touched the screen.  The snow cleared for a single instant.  Just long enough to look like the blank eyes from the window.  She felt the heartbeat there too.
Then it stopped.  All of it. The noise and lights all went quiet and dark.  The TV went completely cold in an instant.  Inko, stunned, palmed over it looking for something.  Anything.  The pulse. Warmth.  A burnt fuse or faulty wire.  But nothing.  The rain started again.
She pulled her hands back to her lap.  Her heart was still racing and tears kept flowing down under her chin. She looked around.  Everything in the living room and kitchen looked the same. No sign of the earthquake-like convolutions the whole appartement experienced only minutes ago.  Inko combed the entire space for evidence.  An object knocked off the shelf.  A picture frame fallen from the wall.  The notifications.  Toys in the closet or scuffs in the wall.  Still not a sign.  She even stepped outside her door to check the sky.  Only light rain and shattered thunder, just like the news said the day before.
There was only one thing out of place.  Back in her bedroom, the bottom drawer of her nightstand hung open.  Inko had to steal herself before approaching it. There were only two things in there: a little green blanket, and a picture of the ultrasound.  The most recent one from her last appointment. The doctor said he was doing fine.
“Izuku…” she whispered to it in her hand.
She remembered the squealing little bundling being put in her arms for the first time.  The first time he smiled at her.  Teaching him to walk, then immediately launching into play.  Him coming home with bruises and scrapes after the kids at school were mean to him, and crying in her arms.  Then, him coming home with his first real friends in a long time. She made them all dinner. Katsudon.  That was Izuku’s favorite.
Only she didn’t remember.  The same way she didn’t really remember the toys and scuffs.  Those were fantasies.  Daydreams of what could have been.  She just thought about them so often they felt like memories. Especially today.  It was his birthday after all.  They’d fade back into vague dreams by tomorrow.  They always did.  
And she would be left with reality.  The silence.  The cold, still little hand between her fingers.  Soft cheeks without blush.  Eyes that never opened.  Clutching him too tight to her chest, knowing the second she let go he would be gone for real and it would all be over.  
But it was never over.  Inko went through this same torturous song and dance every year for fifteen now.  All the guilt and dread would subside slowly over the next one, until it all came back at once.  Just like this.
At least it’s done for now, she tried to reassure herself, climbing back into bed. It still wasn’t even noon yet.  Plenty of time for another breakdown.  Hopefully the next one won’t be, feel, as loud.  She sighed heavily into her sheets.  This sort of thing can’t be normal.  I should really try therapy again.
Against her better judgement, she kept the blanket out, and clutched it to her chest.  Static electricity pricked her fingers.  With her other hand, she reached across the bed, and tried to imagine someone else there. Not Hisashi, never him anymore.  Izuku.  He was fifteen and happy, but the storm was making him nervous so he came to lay beside her.  She remembered it like it was now.  If she closed her eyes, she could feel his warm, soft skin, with a healthy, if a little anxious heartbeat just underneath.  The mattress warped as he sighed.
“We’ll be okay.  It’s just a little rough weather,” she promised.
“Okay, Mom,” Izuku answered quietly.  “…  I’m sorry.”
“You have nothing to be sorry for.”  I’ll start trying to get myself together tomorrow.  For now, let me have this.
Izuku didn’t respond for a while.  “I love you.”
“I love you too, baby.  Happy birthday.”
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bison-writes · 8 months ago
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Summary: Marcus Pike overhears an argument on the phone that turns his world upside down.
Fandom: The Mentalist Rating: Teen and Up Audiences Pairing: Marcus Pike x Reader Warnings: Religious themes, toxic parents,  pregnancy mentions, toothrotting fluff
„Being pregnant is not the problem here, mother!”
Eavesdropping, Marcus thought, was an awful thing.
And he really didn’t want to eavesdrop. But you weren’t exactly quiet on the phone as you argued with your mother.
He had asked you to come into work on a Saturday morning, in hopes to finally catch a break on the case the team had been working on, while the building would be less busy.
Two coffees and pastries from your favorite bakery down the block in his hand, he had almost knocked on the door to your office – until he had heard your voice through the door and stopped in shock.
He could, of course double back and give you your privacy, wait five minutes until he was sure that your argument was over – but this was a delicate topic.
Chastising himself for listening in on your conversation, he sharpened his ears.
You were one of his agents. If you were pregnant, he didn’t exactly have the right to know, but he should probably think about not sending you out into the field anymore.
Marcus didn’t have the time to think things over or digest the information that you were pregnant, because you were still shouting at your mother.
“Ohh no, you can’t play that card. It is not the womans fault when the bastard who impregnated her leaves her as soon as he finds out! If you want to blame someone, blame Curtis. He’s the one who packed his bags and hauled ass. The pee hadn’t even dried on the pregnancy test!”
He really, really shouldn’t listen. But the story got spicier, and more heartwrecking by the minute.
Marcus hadn’t even known that you had been seeing someone. He had even hoped that there was a spark between the two of you. But now-
“No, Mom, just no. Don’t bring God into this! It’s all ‘be a good, Christian, abstinent girl’ – until the day you turn twenty one. Ever since that day you’ve asked about ‘potential husbands and grandchildren’.”
Marcus suppressed a sigh.
He knew that your relationship with your mother was strained at the best of times, but right now, it seemed positively chaotic.
“Abortion?! Mom! You’ve been complaining to your friends about the lack of grandchildren for years, and now that there’s one on the way you want to get rid of it?! Just because it doesn’t come with a marriage certificate? Fuck you! Either you show some fucking support for your daughter and your future grandchild or you prepare for a future without them. Your choice.”
Marcus almost dropped the coffees when he jumped back as the cellphone that you had probably been shouting into hit the heavy oak door with a shattering smash.
He could hear you groaning and cursing and he knew it was time to retreat.
Thanking the gods above for the carpeted floor in the old building that hosted the art department, he slowly walked back towards the doors on silent feet.
He made it around a corner just in time when he heard the door of your office open and close again.
Deeming it save to appear now, he put on the hist best bland face so to not raise suspicion that he had heard and now knew your secret.
You had been power walking so fast towards him that he almost collided with you in the hallway when the turned on his heel.
“Woah, good morning there.”
Marcus could see the anger in your face, the storm in your eyes and you were still fuming.
But as soon as your gazes met, he thought that your features softened a little.
An exhausted sigh left your lips as you stopped in front of him.
“Marcus. Sorry, I didn’t look where I was- Please tell me those are pastries from Cherry’s.”
He smiled.
“It’s the least I can get you when you’re willing to come in on a Saturday.” Pregnant, and probably with a lot of other things on your mind, he added in his thoughts, trying not to worry.
Normally he’d ask you how you were, but he refrained today, just handing you your coffee. After all, he knew that you were not feeling good.
Also, he was afraid. Of course he would listen to your problems if you decided to tell him – but somehow he wasn’t ready for it.
You hadn’t talked to your mother in six weeks.
Between working on cases and reading books about babies and pregnancies, there was one more thing that weighed on your nerves – Marcus Pike.
Your boss slash friend slash secret crush was acting weird.
His mood altered between being nervous around you to straight up ignoring you.
And every time a new case came in, he asked you to stay behind and do the research instead of going into the field.
Had you done something wrong? Were you being punished?
Marcus knew you were a damn good field agent – so why was he benching you?
It didn’t just hurt your pride that he was effectively “demoting” you – it also hurt that somehow you had seemed to lose his friendship over the last weeks.
The breaking point came during an “all hands on deck” situation, where you slipped into your stab vest and prepared to leave with the rest of the crew, when Marcus turned around and told you to stay.
Your colleages had of course noticed that something had changed in the last weeks – they were trained agents after all.
You wanted to say something, but Marcus lifted his fingers and it seemed like he was trying to keep it together.
“Please, just don’t argue with me on this. Stay here.”
“But why? Marcus, seriously, we need all the people we-“
“I ordered you to stay, agent, and that’s final!”, he shouted, effectively silencing the whole bullpen.
Nobody tried to hide their stares. Never had any of them see Special Agent Pike lose his cool, or see him be anything but friendly and respectful.
“Fine…”, you growled, throwing your stab vest on the ground and stomping back to your office.
You could see that your colleagues were eyeing you and Marcus with curious glances, their gazes burning your skin.
It was 3. A. M. when Marcus returned to his apartment, only to see you sitting beneath his doorframe, shivering and waiting for him to get home.
Th glare he received made his skin crawl – but he had done what he had to do.
You were trying to play risks, actively putting the baby and yourself in peril – and he would not stand for that. If you still weren’t feeling like telling him that you would be a mother soon, then he had to take the reigns.
“Why are you lurking at my door, agent?”, Marcus asked, exhausted, fumbling for his keys.
You were getting up and it took all the strength in him to not scoop down or lend you a hand. Every fiber of his being wanted to help you – but technically he still didn’t know about the pregnancy.
“Don’t ‘agent’ me, Marcus. I’m not here as your employee, I’m here as your friend.”
Sighing, he opened the door and let you in. Darkness surrounded you, only the faintest moonlight illuminating the hallway.
Marcus suddenly yelped in pain when you punched his upper arm as hard as you could.
“What the fuck”, you complained, “was that earlier? What did I do, Marcus? Why have you been ignoring me? Why have you been benching me?”
Growling and frustrated, Marcus massaged his sore arm and trotted into the living room, turning the light on, carelessly throwing his leather jacket towards a chair.
“I could ask you the same thing. What the hell is wrong with you? Why are you still insisting on going into the field?”
That sentence earned him a confused look and two arms crossed in front of a heaving chest.
“What do you mean ‘still’? Why shouldn’t I go out into the field anymore?”
Marcus was fumbling, pacing up and down.
He knew he had to tell you now that he knew you were pregnant.
He had to face his feelings. The feelings of rejection he had felt ever since he found out.
The feeling of losing hope once again and heartbreak – heartbreak about a woman he had not even had a first date with yet.
“Because… Because of your condition.”
“My condition? Marcus, what…”
“Oh for fucks sake, I know you’re pregnant, okay? I accidentally overheard you fighting with your mother on the phone”, he exploded, sitting down on the sofa and running his hands through his hair.
He had thought a lot about your predicament in the last weeks.
Would you be alright as a single mother? Where could he find this bastard who had left you and kick his ass, make sure he paid child support?
How much help would you accept?
Should he… Should he offer to help out with the baby?
He expected for you to shout at him, to be mad, to cry or to leave the apartment, but instead he heard you ask: “Marcus? What is this?”
Turning his head, he saw you kneeling on the living room floor and cursed inwardly.
On one of his trips to an antique store in the last weeks he had found an old-fashioned wooden cradle and he had thought of you and your child.
He had bought it and some mint green paint from the hardware store and had repainted it.
Now it was standing on a stack of old newspapers, waiting for finishing touches. It was supposed to be a surprise present.
Sighing, he leaned against his couch cushions.
“A present for your baby. I found it in an old antique store and I thought it would be a nice thing to get you.”
Marcus watched you as you stood back up and stepped toward him, plopping yourself onto the couch, your thighs touching his.
You grabbed his hand in yours and squeezed it.
“That… that is very sweet of you Marcus. But I’m not pregnant.”
His second hand enveloped your intertwined ones and goosebumps were crawling along his skin.
All the colour left his face and it suddenly felt like his heart dropped into his stomach, making him sick.
“D-did… Did you lose the baby? I’m so- I’m so sorry. That must be so horrible. No wonder you were mad. I’m…”
With the one free hand you had left, you silenced him by placing two fingers to his lips.
You shook your head.
“I didn’t lose the baby, Marcus. You misunderstood. I was never pregnant in the first place.”
His shock was now replaced by confusion. He remembered the phone call vividly, had repeated it in his head a lot of times.
“My sister Caitlyn is moving in with me next month”, you explained, leaning your head against his shoulder.
“Her boyfriend Curtis left her as soon as she told him she was pregnant. Just packed his bags and left, the bastard. My mom is not happy about it, but she is more concerned with what people might think about Caitlyn having a child out of wedlock than anything else. She’s ten years younger than me, only twenty-three, and honestly pretty scared and lonely.”
Marcus could feel the weight that had been pressing on his chest in the last six weeks lifted from him. Your sister was pregnant.
“I thought I had done something to get you mad at me – or worse, did something to disappoint you. But you just wanted to protect me because you thought I was with child.”
“Sorry”, he mumbled. And that earned him another, yet lighter, punch.
“Don’t apologize for being the sweetest man alive, dumbass.”
Marcus could feel your heard on your shoulder turn towards the cradle again.
“You would have gotten me a cradle?”
He gulped, suddenly realizing the very close proximity you were in.
You were still holding hands, the left side of your body pressed against his right.
“It’s… It’s still yours if you want it. I mean, your sisters. I’d like to help any way I can”, he said.
He could almost feel you smile next to him.
“Of course you do. You’re wonderful, Marcus.”
“I’m not. I’m selfish.”
“Why’d you say that?”
Now or never, Pike, he thought, shifting to look into your eyes.
“I didn’t bench you because I thought it would be dangerous for you to be out in the field. Well, yes I did, but that was not my main motivation. I ignored you and benched you because every time I looked at you and thought about… you know… I got incredibly jealous.”
He could see in your eyes that you couldn’t follow, so he continued, his heart rapidly beating in his chest. Were his hands getting clammier?
“I… I like you. A lot. Have liked you for a while. And when I heard that you were pregnant and that you were left behind, all I felt was jealousy. I was jealous of the guy that you had apparently loved. I wanted to-“
Marcus was silenced by a pair of soft, eager lips who sealed his mouth with a kiss that was both sweet and innocent, yet still needy and full of passion.
Before he could reciprocate however, you retreated, biting your lower lip and shyly smiling up at him.
“Yes, oh”, you giggled.
“So.. does this mean you… I mean…”
You snuggled back into him, now wrapping your arms around his torso, leaning your head on his chest.
“I like you too, Marcus. A lot.”
“Thank you?”
He could feel your chuckles against his ribcage. Carefully he rested his hands against your body, rubbing your shoulders.
“D’you think your sister will like the cradle?”
“I’m sure she will love it.”
Notes: I will not pay for any dental bills if your teeth are rotting from all this fluff. Marcus is the sweetest and he deserves all the love in the world.
@supernaturalcat7​​​ @officerbrowneyes​​​ @phoenixhalliwell​​​ @lunasblipsandblurbs​​​  @marvgrrl​​ ​ @wyofabdoms​​ @alberta-sunrise​​ @princess76179​​ @lost-in-a-warm-shadowy-embrace​​ @criminalmind1927​​ @absurdthirst​​ @green-socks​​ @mrsparknuts​​ @likes-good-reblogs-even-better​​ @yespolkadotkitty​​ @softpedropascal @sarahjkl82-blog​​ @kesskirata​​​ @killyspinacoladas​​ @dihra-vesa​​  @wanderlust6969fandom2​​ @freeshavocadoooo​​ @humanransome-note​​  @littlemissthistle​​ @fourtypercent0ff​  @a-skov​​ @isretroavibe​​ @gallowsjoker​​ @petersunderoos96​​ @honestly-shite​​ @thestreamergirl​​ @the-ginger-hedge-witch​​  @sporadicshoebailifffish @what-iwish-you-knew​​ @janebby​ @christina-loves​​ @winter-fox-queen​​ @autumnleaves1991-blog​​ @starlightmornings​  @madslorian-main​​ @vibin-hippie​​ @qwtyy @giselatropicana​​ @tacticalsparkles​​ @greeneyedblondie44​​ ​ @fangirlalexia​​ @annalismane​​​ @sherala007​​​ @phoenix-of-loki​ @tintinn16​​ @juletheghoul​ @mishasminion360​ @oonajaeadira​ @freyjasamael​ @pintsizemama​ @anaaaispunk​ @luxmundee​ @spideysimpossiblegirl​ @lowlights​ @gracie7209​ @mylovelycomandante @kirsteng42​ @mufflerfluffler​ @cindyy-mayybe @dobbyjen​ @littlemisspascal​ @ig-you-idiot​ @lagoona89 @mswarriorbabe80​ @whiskeyshoneybee​ @leannawithacapitala​  @dark-twisted-and-mechanical-mind @thetypewriterimproviser​ @skvatnavle​ @theewokingdead​
A Ko-Fi , reblogs and comments and private messages are always appreciated <3
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challengeahellcat · 3 months ago
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⋯ in the dark of the night [18+]
“the nightmare I had was as bad as can be” ♫
⇥ vampire!𝖇𝖎𝖘𝖍𝖔𝖕 𝖑𝖔𝖘𝖆 x reader ⋰ sexy scary
⌧ tw ⋰ murder, blood spilled & ingested, reader death mention, reader physical abuse mention, sacrilegious use of a religious object, corrupt religious figures, spider mention, snake mention
@ original pic credit ⋰ horrorpulpart ⋯ edit + recolor by me ❤️‍🔥
❍ a/n ⋰ reader has a vulva and breasts, and is fem presenting/woman identifying. everything else is ambiguous
back at it again with another story inspired by an isisafrofairy mood board 💕 plus all the sexy scary pulp art from this tag game, bram stoker’s dracula, castlevania, the sims 4 + wickedwhims, the witcher, and cell block tango from chicago
au set in some olden time before electricity and guns or something idk I never paid attention in history
[read on ao3] - 4448 words
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𝖆𝖙 𝖋𝖎𝖗𝖘𝖙 they are merely fragments; jagged thoughts that seem to shatter when you try to piece them together.
The deafening silence.
Your heart thudding against your chest.
Those eyes dimming like cooling embers.
Something heavy in your hands that is dripping red onto the wooden floor.
His blood.
Splattered on your hands, pooling under his head.
I’ve killed him.
Then it’s you that shatters when all the pieces fit.
I’ve killed him. I’ve killed him. I’ve killed him. I’ve killed him. I’ve killed-
They will take everything from your family, ensure they are in worse conditions than the one that led to this, exile them from the town and-
They will have you stoned, or burned alive, or left in the desert to the mercy of the coyotes, or-
"Oh God oh God oh God oh God-" Breath abandons you, each word choked out with desperate gasps as the heavy weight drops from your shaking hands. There is a voice in the back of your mind demanding that you do something - escape into the night, hide the body, beg for divine help and forgiveness - anything. But there you stay, standing and staring at how your sacrifice for the ones you love has sealed all of your doom.
“Sweet of you to save me the trouble."
A startled scream tears up your throat but before it can escape, the man - the one whom appeared within the now open balcony doors - crosses the room impossibly fast to take you in his arms. A warm hand cradles your face while a thumb presses over your lips, barring any sounds from passing through them.
"Shhh, preciosa. I will not harm you."
Gazing into deep brown eyes, all else falls away as you are swept into their depth and a calm washes over you. This man is a stranger - and stranger still, he had to have crept past the guards, through the estate’s garden, and over the second story balcony to reach the master bedchamber - and yet… something within you whispers that you can trust him. That you should trust him.
And you do, because alongside those whispers is the need to have someone to believe in now that you can no longer trust yourself.
When it seems certain that you will remain quiet, his thumb moves to caress your cheek and despite his soft touch, pain radiates through your skin.
"Apparently Reverend Michael did not have that same respect." The gravel of his voice takes an even rougher edge - but rather than the tone, it is the name he spoke that instills fear into you.
Reverend Michael, the most powerful of Cerco’s clergymen. Reverend Michael, whom you’ve married just this morning. Reverend Michael, lying in final rest a few steps away.
I’ve killed him. I’ve killed him. I’ve killed him. I’ve-
"Breathe, preciosa, breathe," the man soothes the choked gasps once again clawing out of you, "That bastard can’t cause anymore misery. You’ve made sure of that." The last sentence is inflected with a smile instead of an accusation, but that does not diminish the urge to explain yourself as if already on trial.
"He-he kissed me. Grabbed my- demanded that I-" Your tongue trips over itself as the disgust returns to tangle with your panic. You knew what the Reverend expected of you. Knew you sold your body, your life, for the bride price that was too overflowing to refuse. But having those hands and lips and eyes on you felt as if spiders crawled over everywhere he touched. Just the thought of laying with him made a bed full of rattlesnakes seem more appealing - and more safe.
"I pulled away, I just. I could not- And then he… he struck me." Clear across the room and into the dresser with a back hand as strong as thunder.
More than the pain, it was unshakable rage that had consumed you then. How dare he punish you as if you were the wicked one? How dare he sit here in opulence while the rest of the town, your family, toils in the unforgiving sun every single day to keep starvation at bay? How dare he send men and boys alike to war against the devil’s spawns while he remains safe behind the town’s fortified walls? How dare he take wife after wife after wife just to have them wither away from his vile seed? How dare he? How dare he?
"Mmmm, and you struck him back,” the man’s smile grows, somehow proud of your greatest sin. “A quick death is better than he deserved, but the irony had to have rubbed salt into the wound.”
He looks down, and your gaze follows his to the gilded cross at your feet. It had adorned the dresser you were thrown against, and now the same crimson that covers your hands, covers its gold.
“The Church will have my soul condemned to Hell,” you whisper, feeling your heart sink as if the descent has already been decreed.
“Would that be the same church that deemed this man holy?” His laugh flows over you and seems to give your fallen heart wings. “Clearly their judgement is more than a little fucked.”
“What they should do is name you a saint, Miss…” he trails off to allow you to offer your name. Clearly your judgment is also fucked since you give it to him without a moment of hesitation. But those whispers murmur comfortingly, drawing your attention away from any worries and instead towards the enchanting way your name rolls off his tongue when he repeats it.
You are even further charmed when he takes your hand in his to place a chaste kiss upon it and introduces himself with, “Obispo Losa, blessed to be in your presence, and now in your debt.”
There is no confusion over what that last part refers to; all of his words have pointed to only one reason for him being here. “Why do you wish him dead?” Curiosity, not judgement, has you wondering. Reverend Michael had done so many wrongs that there would be a shorter list for why anyone would not want him dead rather than the opposite.
The man - Obispo - quirks a brow, the small smile still on his lips as he gives you a look that says, "Do you truly wish to know?"
You lift a brow of your own that replies, "I’ve asked haven’t I?"
Rising to the challenge, Obispo leans in as if sharing a secret and lowers the timbre of his voice to reveal, “His little crusade against my tribe has become more than just a nuisance.”
Which seems to be more of a riddle than a secret. Crusade? Tribe?
Reverend Michael always found a new holy war to be fought with each new moon, always preached about protecting the town from the lurking evil that would ensnare you all if not for him. Whether it be goblins or ghouls, were-creatures or witches, the Reverend took it upon himself to keep everyone safe and secluded from anything that walked outside of God's light.
The last call to arms was against monsters masquerading as humans, gorging on our lifeblood to sustain their own. To hear the Reverend tell it, these bands of wicked beasts, these vampire tribes, massacre entire towns in one night and they had to be stopped before Cerco was next...
All the air leaves the room as realization takes hold as disturbingly as chilled fingers wrapping around your spine. You stiffen in Obispo's arms, suddenly overwhelmingly aware of the blood drying on your hands, the blood racing through your veins.
The change is your demeanor is quick but he is slow to let you go, putting just enough space between the two of you so you no longer touch, yet still close enough to silence you if you make to scream. And although you have been looking at him this entire time, now being out of his embrace, now knowing what he is, the whispers no longer sway your mind and it's as if you are just now truly seeing all of him.
Black curls of hair swept back to reveal a devastatingly handsome face framed by a distinguished beard. Clothes of a nobleman, tailored to a strong yet ordinary physique. You could never possibly guess that he is something other than human.
“Am I in danger of being crucified next?”
There is jest in his tone but no denial of the clear accusation hanging in the air. That should be proof in and of itself, and yet your eyes deny the warnings ringing in your head. How could this be a monster, not a man, standing before you? You’ve only caught glimpses of other creatures around the edge of town when you dared to venture outside of the walls, but even from a distance all of them had some mark, some tale tell difference, that revealed their nature. Obispo looks and sounds and feels as human as you.
It is then that a sermon of Reverend Michael comes to mind; the one where he preached on how to expose the evil walking among us. There was something about souls and reflections that you barely remember but you grasp at the straws for any method of proving your suspicions.
Slowly, oh so slowly, your head turns away from him to look into the large mirror above the dresser. Reflected back is your own image, all terrified and spattered in red with a bruise darkening one side of your face, and… nothing except vacant space where Obispo should appear standing beside you.
Goosebumps prickle your skin as the chill down your spine splinters into the rest of your body to freeze you in place. Unable to bring yourself to look back at him, it is towards the space in the mirror that you pose the question, “Would you have killed me too?”
Will you kill me now? is what you truly wish to know but are too afraid to ask. Since agreeing to the marriage, you have anticipated an early end to your life; but while it had been certain, it had not yet been imminent. Not until this very moment. And now you do not know what to do with the end being so near, other than pray that the kindness Obispo has shown up to this point extends to granting you a quick, painless death.
There is no reflection of his hand reaching out to cup the unbruised side of your face, just the warmth of his skin bleeding into yours as he turns your head to face him.
"I will not harm you,” he repeats his earlier promise, the words ringing clear and - you foolishly hope - true. Foolish because there are no whispers coaxing you to believe in him this time, there is just your desperate wish to live and have someone to hold onto again.
“And I never intended to," he continues. "My tribe only hunts those who hunt us; which is why my only purpose here is to take him and leave this message of truce in his place.”
From within his waistcoat, Obispo draws out a folded letter stamped with an intricate wax seal. It is entirely ridiculous that a nightmarish vampire from the Reverend’s terrifying tales would sneak in just to quietly steal one person away and deliver a note offering peace. You could almost laugh - but you are certain that once you start, you would not stop until you were locked away for hysterics.
In the same composed tone Obispo goes on, “I expected everyone here to be in a drunken slump from the wedding celebration. You were supposed to be asleep until the morning revealed him missing and you a happy widow.”
That all sounds too good to be true, and much too late after the blood shed by your hands. So it is with baited breath that you ask, “And now?”
“And now,” Obispo moves closer and wraps his arm around you so you are once again comforted in his embrace, “we continue down this road until it leads back towards the original path. Can you change out of this gown?”
“Excuse me?” you blink, brows furrowed and mind reeling from all the different directions this conversation has taken. Just moments ago you were convinced he would leave you dead, and now - with his closeness, all the touches, the suggestion of that question - you could almost believe he would have you feeling very much alive.
Your cheeks heat at the thought and your gaze breaks away from his to look down at the plain linen garment you are dressed in. It is modest, long and unshapely, the very gown you wore at home around your family. You had put it on in hopes of discouraging the Reverend’s lust - and yet his sinful nature has led to drops of his blood soaking into the fibers all the same.
“If you change into another gown,” Obispo amends, raising your head back up with an amused look that lets you know he followed where your thoughts had traveled, “this one can be used to mop up the mess since he’s already soiled it.”
Mind whirling from yet another change in direction, it takes a moment for you to understand his plan. “We are… concealing my crime?”
That proud smile returns to his lips as he says, “Many would call it an act of justice, but yes. Tell me where the nearest well is and I’ll gather water while you... redress.”
The heavy pause before his last word is deliberate and surely meant to tease you. And it works, embarrassment rising fast and lodging in your throat, causing the need for you to clear it before you can tell him where to find the well.
There are three within the whole town, and Reverend Michael of course claimed one as his very own. It sits within the lush garden beneath the balcony, and it is the reason the supposed man of God ousted a handful of families to build his estate on this specific plot of land.
While Obispo leaves to gather water, you look for something suitable to change into. And something suitable is the last thing you find. All the other sleeping gowns you own were gifts from your late husband. Revealing, barely there slips of fabric that make it clear what the Reverend was after on your wedding night, and every night that followed. With little choice, you pick the one that seems to cover up the most skin; rich brown silk, soft and fitted to your form with a flowing skirt that kisses the ground.
As you nervously smooth your hands over the part of the gown that covers - and curves with - your thighs, you try to find solace in the fact that it’s not your intention to entice the vampire, of all things. But earlier wayward thoughts drift back to mind and you have to confess, only to yourself, that enticing Obispo would feel more safe than enticing the Reverend - and more appealing. Much more.
Obispo’s return is slower than you would imagine, given the astonishing speed he’d shown while entering and leaving the room. He knocks on the door and waits for your invitation before re-entering, then takes his time admiring your appearance as he returns to your side, a bucket in hand and a smile lighting up his face. “Preciosa indeed.”
You try not to show how affected you are by his compliment and remind yourself again of where your intentions should lie. It is a miracle that Obispo does not dwell on your flustering, instead continuing on with the plan.
“But for our story to be believable, we cannot have you bloodied and bruised. You shouldn’t have been this way in the first place - the bastard’s lucky he’s already dead.” With that gruffly said, Bishop sets the bucket down and picks up the old gown you left draped over the bed. The thick fabric tears like paper in his hands as he rips it into rags. Once done, he leaves all but one of the pieces of cloth to soak in the water within the pail. This one he dips into the water before ringing out the excess and holding it up in front of you. “May I?”
You are not sure why the act of him wiping away the splatter on you seems like crossing a line. Not after being in his arms, or having his hand on your lips, or his lips on your hand. Even still, his offer has words catching in your throat as something heavy and warm settles in your chest. All you can do is nod your assent and force yourself to breathe as he steps closer and once again takes gentle hold of your face.
The coldness of the water has you gasping and the goosebumps returning; has you flinching slightly but he holds you steady as he drags the cloth from above your brow to below your mouth, tilting your head from one side to the other until those intense eyes deem every spot of red to be gone. Then he’s guiding the cloth lower, down your neck to follow the curve of your shoulder to the lines of your arms.
The moments of his careful concentration on cleaning you stretch on for an eternity as you will your body’s reactions under control. Who would believe that simple brushes along your palms and between your fingers would spark lightning to lick beneath your skin?
It is both a blessing and a curse when Obispo finally cleans away the last drop, the effects of his touch both torture and bliss to endure. And your will must be weak because despite your efforts your nipples have risen to peaks, impossible to miss through the delicate silk. With those peaks comes another tide of embarrassment that threatens to drown you, just waiting for the moment Obispo notices to pull you under.
If he does notice, he makes no comment. Instead he steps back towards the bucket, and first lets the rag drop to the floor, then crouches down to wring out another rag and wipe his own hands clean. If he continues to focus on this well past the moment he is free of blood, you make no comment nor do more than silently wait for him to finish.
As Obispo rises his eyes drag up your body like a caress, decadent and indulgent, until they reach your face. Then with a deep inhale he closes his eyes and seems to temper himself. On the exhale his eyes open and his attention turns towards the cheek that the Reverend inflicted his fury upon. “Hmm, now to right this wrong.”
Caught within the heady air thickening between the two of you, you are not of the mind to wonder how he intends to mend the swelling that throbs the whole half of your face - not until he brandishes a dagger from a sheath at his side and cuts into his own palm.
You hardly manage to choke out "What-" through the sharp panic that cuts right through the air like a dagger of its own.
"Our blood is restorative - it quickens the healing of our own bodies and those of others. Drinking it will shorten the time of your recovery from weeks to seconds.”
His reasoning does little to calm you, especially not with his expectation for you to consume the crimson pooling within his cupped hand. Fevered forebodings from Reverend Michael shout through your memory; his voice proclaiming deception and corruption so clearly in your mind that it is as if he has risen from death to preach before you. Has Obispo’s kindness been a trick all along? Hiding his true motive of… of turning you into vampire, into a monster who would destroy your own people and-
Obispo calls your name, quieting the phantom haunting your thoughts. “Look,” he commands softly while extending his arm for you to examine his hand. Beyond the spoonful of blood, you do not understand what he wishes for you to see. It is as you prepare to tell him so that realization dawns. The wound that he slashed from his thumb to his littlest finger, the wound that should continue to be pouring blood, that should need sutures to be closed against infection, is gone. No angry red line or jagged scar left in its place. No sign that he was injured at all.
“It will heal you just the same, preciosa. Nothing more.”
I will not harm you.
He does not say it a third time but you hear the promise just the same. And you do not know how much more trust you have left to give. All of you feels ragged, frayed as if your threads have been pulled every which way and there is a fire prepared to singe any string you follow.
But a choice has to be made. There is no turning back, no undoing your decision to marry a man you hated or the manifestation of your hatred onto that man. You have to move forward, if not for your sake, then your family’s. Even if Obispo were not here, a choice would have to be made. And out of the strings before you, the one tied to him offers more than the one tied to the Reverend ever had.
Moving closer, taking Obispo’s wrist in one hand and his fingers in the other, you press your mouth to the side of his palm and tilt his hand so the blood pours into your mouth. There is no avoiding the flavor on your tongue. It tastes…
It tastes of the ripest berry and the richest wine. Of temptation itself. You wonder if this is the fruit the Church says led to the fall of man, though you cannot blame man after knowing how heavenly it flows down your throat. A mere mouthful is not enough, your tongue snaking out once and then again to lick all traces off his skin.
The need, the hunger is interrupted by a snarl, and the eyes that you do not remember closing open to see Obispo’s own entirely black, no brown or white in sight as he stares into you. Something within your gaze causes him to snarl again and your attention drops to his mouth where fangs have extended to dangerous points. Four fangs below his top lip and four above his bottom, they should be unnatural and grotesque to you. But it is awe that has your hand lifting to feel their edge for yourself.
Obispo grabs your wrist before your fingers can graze the points. “You’re in danger of being the one stolen away.” Even his voice has changed, deeper, darker.
Despite the warning and common sense, it is not fear that causes your heart to flutter. "Take me," you breathe out on a sigh.
Another snarl and he is across the room before you can blink. “Preciosa, that has no part in our plan.” There is another deep inhale, another moment of tempering. And this time when his eyes open they are the deep brown that have become familiar, the dangerous edge to his teeth gone. “Now that you are no longer hurt, let’s finish the concealment, shall we?”
Although “we” was mentioned, he does all the work, not allowing you to do more than keep an ear out for anyone approaching. Which becomes you watching him, fascinated with how he moves too quickly for your eyes to keep up with. There is just whirls of motion as he uses the rags to scrub the floor.
Though the spell over him seems to dissipate, the one over you holds fast. You feel almost drunk, giddy and inhibited, not in the least bothered over how you threw yourself on him while he was taking another form. While he was losing control because of you. The fingers that almost touched those fangs tingle with the desire to truly feel them.
The Obispo whirlwind ends with the water within the bucket looking of blood itself, and the golden cross gleaming in his hands. As he carries it back to its place on the pedestal on the dresser, you watch through the mirror as the cross seems to float back into position.
Last, he places the letter on the pillow where the Reverend would have laid. You are to read it in the morning and call the guards in grief stricken panic over your husband’s disappearance, a lie you will find great pleasure in telling.
It is unbelievable how in a matter of one night your fate has gone from dying in months time while giving birth to yet another of Reverend Michael’s stillborn children, to being executed within days for killing him, to inheriting his fortune by daybreak. And the last turn of events is all due to the kindness of the one once again standing in the balcony doorway.
Obispo holds all the signs of what truly transpired; the bucket of red tinged water and equally stained rags, and Reverend Michael himself. The clergyman is almost twice his size and yet Obispo had hoisted the dead weight over his shoulder as if the Reverend is as light as a feather.
Another wave of gratitude and awe crashes over you as you watch him study the room for anything out of place. You have nothing to give him for everything he has done, nothing besides a sincere expression of your appreciation, and so you go to him with the intention of placing a reverent kiss upon his hands. It is belatedly that you realize that said hands are full, and impulsively, you kiss his cheek instead. “Thank you.”
“It’s a debt repaid.” He kisses your cheek in return, then further closes the space between you to whisper a farewell in your ear. Your heart flutters again from the press of his lips, the promise in his words, and the way he pulls back to hold your gaze. With nothing more to say and yet so much unsaid, he turns to disappear into the night as quickly and as quietly as he appeared.
You stare off into the darkness beyond the balcony for a while, feeling dazed as if waking from a fevered dream. After finally closing the doors, you make your way to the bed but it seems to take a whole lifetime for you to succumb to sleep. Eventually exhaustion conquers the worry for what tomorrow will bring, the disbelief of what tonight had brought, the longing from his parting words echoing in your head.
“Until we meet again, preciosa.”
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© challengeahellcat/clearvinyl
⇦ general masterlist ⋰ ⇦ sexy scary special 🔪 ⋰ part two: coming soon ⇨
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lumberjack-halt · a year ago
Y’all asked for it, y’all got it! Here’s the bit of fic to go with >this< art I posted recently. Fair warning, it’s unfinished and not really edited, and I doubt I will ever fully finish it. It’s a fair sized chunk so if anyone wants the little bit of softer fluff that happens after this I’ll post that later too :V
Anyway: TW for: blood, violence, descriptions of injuries Unnamed Dream Team fic | 2.3 k words
The creature in the cave was like nothing Dream had ever seen, both like an enderman, and not at all like one. It hurt his eyes to look at any one part of it for too long, the shifting sliding dark-on-dark colors of its skin making it impossible to really see its full form.
“Just like an enderman,” Dream muttered under his breath, knowing the lie as he said it. “Just don’t look it in the eyes.”
But it was hard not to, it was advancing on him, more aggressive than any enderman-adjacent creature had any right to be when it hadn’t been provoked. Dream’s gaze flicked from limb to shifting limb and back to the ground under his boots, shuffling backwards and trying not to trip on the loose gravel. The creature gurgled and crackled horribly, the sound more unnatural than anything he’d ever heard. The hair on the back of his neck prickled; he had to get away now.
Unwilling to turn his back to the creature, he moved at an angle towards the sloping mouth of the cave, trying to keep the shifting horror of its inconsistent limbs within his sight at all times. It shuffled after him, chuffing and gurgling, and its jerky movement made Dream feel a little sick to the stomach.
All of a sudden the gravel turned underfoot and he stumbled, tripping and banging his elbow on a ledge of stone as he caught himself. Hissing in pain, he jerked his head up and felt his heart leap into his throat. The eyes seemed to be the only thing that weren’t shifting and inconsistent and they were boring straight through Dream’s mask into his own eyes. Swearing, he swiftly turned his gaze away, hoping that his enchanted mask would have given it some pause like it tended to do with normal endermen.
A claw lashed out towards him and yelled in surprise as he raised his shield to block the blow at the last second. As soon as the limb retreated, he lunged past the creature, ducking into a roll to avoid another slashing attack. He swore again as he realized that the move had taken him back deeper into the cave.
“All right ugly,” he hissed, drawing his sword, “let’s just get this over with.”
It didn’t take long for him to regret the idea of fighting.
The creature, part enderman, part pure nightmare or something, shifted limbs in and out of existence, twitched out of the way of Dream’s slashes and stabs, and moved with terrifying swiftness. He’d only got a few glancing hits in and it had cut open the back of his sword hand and given him a shallow slice across his right side. Neither wound was life threatening but they were annoying and painful painful, and blood was working its way into his palm, making his grip on his sword hilt slippery.
“Shit,” Dream spat, jumping back from another slash. “What the hell even are you?”
A shrieking gurgle was his only reply, and as he jumped backwards yet again a claw darted out and plunged into his left thigh. Yelling in shock, Dream stumbled and dove into a clumsy roll, tearing free of what felt like burning knives in his flesh. But this time the creature seemed to have learned, and it struck low, slamming him backwards with a blunt force attack. He tumbled into a wall and gave a strangled gasp as the air was knocked from his lungs.
This is bad, this is really, really bad, he thought frantically, struggling to get to his feet and hold up his shield to block the next attack.
His thigh was on fire with pain and with every rapid beat of his heart he felt blood surging from the wound and soaking the shredded fabric of his pants. It hurt like hell to put any weight on the leg so he was effectively crippled, unable to run with the lightning quick speed he was known for. Fear crawled through his veins like an icy poison.
I’m going to die.
There was a low hum and a thwok and the creature shrilled and recoiled abruptly. Dream breathed and shuffled away in the brief respite, risking a glance to see where the arrow had come from. If it was a skeleton, he was done for.
Relief rushed through him at the sound of the familiar voice. “Sapnap!” he called back.
At the mouth of the cave, George and Bad were just running in behind Sapnap, bunching up uncertainly behind him where he stood frozen in shock at the sight of the shifting horror in front of them.
“Be careful, it’s fast and unpredictable!” Dream warned.
“What the hell is it!?” George yelled, drawing his sword.
“No idea, just help me kill it!”
They lunged into the fray while Dream took a second to catch his breath. Shields raised, Sapnap and George fanned out, half-circling the horrible shifting being at a cautious distance. Bad darted the other direction around the enderman that wasn’t an enderman to stand with Dream, his faintly glowing eyes flicking over his friend from head to toe.
“That leg wound looks really ugly,” he said worriedly.
Dream gritted his teeth. “Yeah, it feels worse. We need to finish this, fast.”
As he spoke, Sapnap darted forward to slash at the creature. It twisted out of the way and retaliated, catching him across the face. With a yelp, Sapnap stepped backwards and awkwardly careened into George, who had just moved forwards to follow up his attack. Stumbling just a bit, George’s focus broke away from the creature, and it took advantage instantly, darting out a limb to deal a powerful blunt force blow right to his face. He was tossed backwards, skidding across the cave floor.
Dream’s heart was in his throat again, seeing both of his friends in imminent danger. Ignoring the agony in his leg and not waiting to see if Bad was following, he sprinted across the cave to plunge his sword into what he assumed was the creature’s back.
A horrible gurgling scream split the air of the cave and the shifting horror twisted as quick as a thought, yanking the still embedded sword from Dream’s hand as it did. Weaponless, Dream had mere heartbeats to do something, anything, to defend himself. In the space of a breath he snatched a water bottle from his pocket and splashed it across the creature like he was slashing at it with a blade.
The moment the liquid touched its skin, the creature shrieked so piercingly that everyone flinched in pain. Seething agony and hatred, the enderman that was not an enderman lunged for its attacker.
Dream tried to brace himself and raise his shield but his injured leg finally gave out and he stumbled, dropping his guard. The strike lashed across his face, snapping his head to the side. He heard his mask crack, and a chunk of white polished quartz broke off to go skidding across the cave floor. Reeling, Dream only had time to look and see the next attack coming, but he didn’t have the time to protect himself.
The blow connected like an avalanche on his chest, then he was briefly in the air, flying across the cave. Dimly he heard his friends screaming his name, but it was drowned out by the sick crack of his skull hitting the stone wall. Pain burst behind his eyes like fireworks and in the same breath darkness slammed down across all his senses.
Consciousness returned too quickly, and with it Dream found himself sprawled on the floor, struggling to breathe and shaking with pain. His head was full of thorns and fire, he couldn’t think straight, but he knew he had to get up and fight. The effort trying to sit up did nothing but cause agonized tears to dampen his eyelashes.
“Dream! Dream!”
He managed to crack open one eye at the sound of his friends’ voices, and a whimper crawled up his throat at the sight of a clawed dark hand reaching towards his exposed face. His body felt heavy, he couldn’t so much as lift a hand; he was helpless to defend himself as that terrible hand drew closer.
Just as he felt the brush of a claw on his exposed hair, a blade flashed into view, and the hand jerked back. Blinking away tears, Dream briefly saw George rush overhead, Bad following with a snarl. Not a moment later Sapnap appeared over him, and suddenly Dream was being carefully gathered into his friend’s arms. As much as it hurt to be moved, he let himself be bundled up and sheltered from the fight, an indescribable feeling of safety welling up in him and prickling in his eyes. He buried his face into Sapnap’s shirt, and felt his friend tugging his hood forward over his hair again before gently cradling his head with one hand.
“Don’t touch him!” George spat, his words echoed by an enraged hiss from Bad.
“Sorry,” Sapnap muttered just above Dream’s head, and then he shifted his hold and scooped Dream up bridal style. He swallowed a gasp of pain, and couldn’t stop himself from reflexively digging his fingers hard into Sapnap’s shoulder as his friend carried him quickly away from the commotion.
“Wait,” Dream croaked, “don’t leave them.” He tried to crane his head around towards the sound of George and Bad fighting the enderman-like creature, but gave up when the motion sent a stab of pain through his skull.
“I’m not,” Sapnap reassured him. “I’m just getting you out of the way.” He set Dream down just around a slight curve in the cave entrance and started digging around in his pockets for bandages.
“Go back, I’m okay,” Dream said.
“Sure,” Sapnap muttered, “and I can fart rainbows. I’m not leaving you till I can slow the bleeding on your leg at least.” He glanced up at Dream’s face, looked hastily away again, and stopped digging in his pockets to start fiddling with his headband. After a moment he reached up to tie it around Dream’s head. “Your mask is cracked really bad,” he explained, then added apologetically, “sorry it’s kinda’ sweaty.”
“Ew,” Dream quipped, but he was grateful for Sapnap’s consideration.
Sapnap grinned, and then finally seemed to locate his bandages and his smile faded as he set to work. When he leaned over Dream’s leg to tend to the deep wound there, his expression turned to a deep frown. “Shit, dude,” he said tightly, “it might have hit that major artery if it was any further to the right.”
“Fantastic,” Dream joked breathily. He bit down hard on the inside of his cheek as Sapnap used a folded pad of bandages to apply pressure.
“Sorry, sorry,” Sapnap kept muttering, and Dream wanted to tell him that it was fine, he knew Sapnap wasn’t trying to hurt him, but he thought that if he opened his mouth again he might just scream himself raw. Instead he clutched a fistful of gravel, hard, until the tiny bits of flint started to cut into his palm, and he tried to think of anything except what was happening at the moment. He forced himself to remember a cool breeze in the sun, an arm slung playfully around his neck, and voices laughing in ear; he grasped for things soft and pleasant, warm and gentle.
“Remember when,” he blurted out hoarsely, voice cracking as he rambled, “you remember when you… when you had greasy fingers and tried to… you grabbed George’s book? And he got so mad and you started to fight and, and… I laughed so hard…. I choked on a piece of apple?”
Sapnap’s voice floated to him as if from a distance, sounding distracted. “We had to do the Heimlich. And I did not have greasy fingers, I licked them off first.”
Dream laughed but it made his whole body throb with pain so he choked it back down to a weak chuckle. It hurt too much to try and talk again so he focused on breathing and remembering much nicer times than the current one.
Lost in his daze, he nearly missed the faint yell from further back in the cave but recognizing George’s voice dragged him back to awareness, just in time for Sapnap to cinch a tight knot in the bandage and then shove his axe into Dream’s numb fingers.
“I’ll be back!” he promised, and then Dream was alone.
Time was a difficult concept to grasp, lost in the fog and fire in his head, so Dream wasn’t sure how long he sat, breathing and resting against the cave wall, waiting for his friends to come back and trying to will himself back to full strength. A constant, restless need to be there with them, doing his part, burned faintly through him but all he could manage was a death grip on Sapnap’s axe.
Shuffling footsteps roused him again, and he clutched the handle of the axe with a white-knuckle grip; he hadn’t heard anything in a while, something terrible could have happened and he wouldn’t know it, so whatever came around that corner could be deadly.
But despite the blurriness in his vision, Dream recognized the blue shirt that rounded the corner. George limped over to him, supported by Sapnap, and Bad darted around them to kneel at Dream’s side.
“You’re safe,” Dream croaked.
“We’re safe,” Bad affirmed gently, “Now let’s get you fixed up.”
Dream ignored Bad as he started to shuffle around for potions, turning his attention to his other friends. “You okay?”
Nodding, George cracked a smile. “We’re okay.” He noticed Dream reaching slightly, palm up, and clasped his hand with a light squeeze of reassurance.
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jimlingss · a year ago
Moirai [1]
Chapter 1 - Chapter 2
➜ Words: 5.8k
➜ Genres: 60% Fluff, 40% Angst, Isekai!AU
➜ Summary: Death is supposed to be the end. Or at least that's what you assumed when you're hit by a TRUCK. But the moment you open your eyes again, instead of being sent to the afterlife, you've become a baby. And not just any baby. You're the female villain of a video game.
➜ Notes: Isekai is a popular manga and light novel genre in which characters from Earth are transported into a new world.
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This is the end.   “Do you have anything to say for yourself?”   The Prince stands tall, the very furrow of his brows jarring against the cold, cordial expression he maintains — the one she had always tried to shatter. All she desired was something other than courtesy. If not affection then frustration or misery. But she supposes that anger suffices.   Anger. The first time he’s ever looked at her with an ounce of any true feeling.   His shadow looms over her, his status powerful as the countless eyes are narrowed in around her — he is as powerful as the people who stand behind him. Every word he speaks booms through the ballroom, a grand timbre that has long replaced the mellifluous violins.    The Prince is as noble as he is righteous. He is the hero of this story.   “You choose to answer your crimes with silence?!”   The corner of her lips curl and cackles rasp from her throat. The noise is discordant and shrill, a mocking irony when it causes him to pull the woman in his arms closer. Even when she’s in this position, downcast head, knees burnt on the carpet, all she does is drive them closer together.   “The only sins I have ever committed was loving you until my last breath.”   “Guards!”   Murmurs spark across the room and the knights armour clank as they approach in heavy steps. She knows these are the last moments. “The only crime I have is looking out for the empire! But you chose her.” She looks upon the girl he holds, the one who has the same contempt on her visage. And as the knights rip her away from her place, she spits venom-laced words, “A lowly baron’s adopted daughter to make your wife. I am the duke’s daughter. I am educated. I am your fiancée—”   “No longer.” He condemns, “You have committed treason. Conspiracy against the crown. Attempted murder. Forgery. Harassment. Using your status to oppress the vulnerable—”   “Let go of me!” she shrieks as the guards drag her down the room. It’s undignified. Degrading.   “—Daring to entangle yourself with the dark arts. And you will answer to these crimes whether you choose to confess or not.”    “Let go of me!” she struggles, yet no one chooses to hear.    Their eyes have pierced into her, those who aren’t scandalized are snickering behind their feathered fans. But in the last seconds, status has no place. She looks to the person who matters most, the one she had spent her childhood idolizing. Her beliefs hold true. He will make a great ruler.   But she will never be the one to stand beside him. She knows now.   That position has long been stolen away from her.   “Everything I did,” she cries, “I did for yo—”   The grand doors slam shut with her pitched screams resounding.    Moments later, the lively music continues, violins and trumpets crescendoing to life once more. As if her life had just not been taken away from her. As if the denunciation was merely an intermission of tonight’s festivities.   Her heinous exterior is shattered by tears that no one would have sympathy for. She is limp when she is thrown into the stone jail cell within the depths of the castle. The knights twist on their heel and she is surrounded in pitch darkness with the sound of a scurrying rat echoing beside her.   The only time there is light is by the dim flame of the torch, a guard accompanying a frightened servant who carries a bowl of spoiled oats. It’s not enough to satisfy the grumble of her stomach, but enough to keep her alive for the execution day. Without a silver fork or spoon in hand, a handkerchief placed in her lap, seated by a candlelit table, she resorts to using her fingers to scoop the food into her mouth.   Sometimes, she thinks they forget about her.   Or perhaps time is simply drawn in darkness. A second made into a minute. A minute is an hour. She is merely left leaning against the molded stone, wasted away and drunk on memories of better places.   Punishment does not come in the form of her stripped title or even her head rolling away from her neck. Punishment arrives in the darkened loneliness. That loss of sanity that whisper she has failed to capture the attention of the only person she ever loved. That she failed to make him love her.   Everything she did, it drove him away.   Every act of love placed distance between them.   Everything.   Liberation comes back with the music of trumpets muffled by the stone walls. “What’s going on?” her voice is hoarse through her parched throat. The servant screams when her arm reaches past the bars to tug on the girl’s dress. Her eyes are bleary as she looks up at the girl. “Why is it so noisy?”   “T-The civil war’s over.” The girl backs away and the celebrations become more distinct with the realization. “The villain is dead.”   The girl withdraws into the cell and cackles rip through her lungs, resounding across the empty chambers. The servant scurries away as the knight huffs out through his nose and shakes his head. But it’s the best news she’s received since she’s been stowed away.    And a smile still graces her features when she is dragged out and jostled by the knights, taken up to where the sun blinds her vision.   “On the eve of the Solar Festival, we rid our empire of yet another villain and free it from treachery!”   There are cacophonous cheers in the crowd. Her eyes are hurt by the sunlight and she shuts them tight. Her legs are kicked and she’s knocked onto her knees, head being shoved against wood. She wishes she didn’t have to face the sun rays. There’s no decency to give her shade.   But the discomfort is over by the blade slicing through the air. She lives and both dies as the villainess — an inevitable legacy.            ❇ End of Royal Romances Chapter 7 -Prince Route- ❇
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Headbeams.   Fuck.   You never thought it would be like all those cheesy movies — the third Batman film, Grey’s Anatomy, the Simpsons, hell even Attack on Titan. But nope. They’re right. Time really does slow and your life really does flash by your eyes when you’re in the moment of your death.    But instead of feeling grief for yourself, all you can think about is what an absolute idiot you are.   You really shouldn’t have jaywalked at night. That cheesecake in the fridge was supposed to be yours! And holy shit, your parents are going to be really fucking mad that you died at only twenty—   The truck slams into you before you can finish your thought.   …………... ……….. ……. ….. ... .. .   Strangely, it doesn’t hurt. Maybe because it happened so fast. Maybe the initial impact was already enough to end your life. But you’re left feeling an empty void inside of yourself. An overwhelming agony that this is the end. That you never got the chance to fulfill your dreams, enjoy the fruits of your labour, that you never got to reach the happiness you wanted.   You have regrets.   Not for the things that you did. But for the things that you didn’t do.   But well….you suppose there’s no use in lingering in it.   Death is the end.   This is the end.   ……. ….. ... .. .   “—ook...t ...er...!”   “..hush!”   What?   Why are you hearing noises? Why does your face feel warm?   Are you in...heaven? Some sort of afterlife?! Oh man, you knew you deserved this! Fuck yes! You might have kicked that kid’s shin in the fourth grade and totally lied to your manager that one time that you cleaned the ice-cream machine when you didn’t, but your wrongdoings aren’t that bad.   You open your eyes.   Unusually, your vision is blurred. All you can make out is a fuzzy figure looming over you.   Your mouth opens—   “Waah!”   What the fuck. You can’t speak. Each time your lips part, drool dripples onto your chin.   In a panic, you try to move your body, but quickly find yourself heavy and practically stuck. You cry out and swing your arm, and that’s when your hand flashes before your eyes.   Your pupils focus and you realize that your hand is tiny. That you can barely curl and uncurl your fingers together. Holy shit. Holy fuck—   You’re a baby.   Wailing sobs burst out of your tiny lungs.    You don’t know where you are or how this happened. Your last memory is being hit by a truck!   The figure looming above you comes closer. “What is wrong with her?!”   The woman sounds annoyed, but it’s not like it's your fault. This is just a lot to take in.   Your mouth is blocked by a pacifier being shoved in. Immediately, you spit it out and the woman sighs. “Why is she being so fussy?”   That’s not the issue, lady! Christ, you wish you could communicate with her.   You feel yourself being picked up and she angrily mutters, “If the Devereux household wasn’t paying me so much, I would’ve just thrown you out the window.”   Wait. Say what now? Devereux?    Why does that sound so familiar?   You hear another woman’s voice, one that’s higher pitched and softer. “What’s wrong with little Anastasia?”   “Have you finished hanging the laundry yet?”   “Yes, I have.” You’re being passed on and your sobs subside in favour of a frown. Anastasia?   Anastasia Devereux.   You remember cursing that name out loud before, but where was—   Oh my god. Oh my god! It’s impossible, but the truth is right in front of your eyes. You’re living through it right now. This isn’t a dream. No. It’s your game, Royal Romances.    You’ve been reincarnated into the fictional country of Ashea. And of all people, you’ve been reborn as the villainess, Anastasia Devereux.   You burst out crying again.   //   A man in a coat and frilly shirt enters the room. Your head adjusts to see through the wooden bars of your bassinet, vision becoming clearer by the day. You know who he is without an announcement.   Your father. At least he’s supposed to be.   “How is the child?” he asks the maid.   “She is healthy, your grace. She may be a bit fussy at times, but she sleeps and eats well.”   He hums and leaves shortly after, never once coming to personally see or even hug you.    What an asshole. This entire world is fucked. You’re fucked.   Royal Romances is a love story game between a heroine and several potential matches depending on the route you take. Yet in every route, the main protagonist's rival, the Marquess and the Crown Prince’s fiancée, ends up co-conspiring with the villain and dies because of his crimes. Or exiled. Two options.   And you’ve taken her place.   But now that you think about it, that’s so unfair! You didn’t care much about Anastasia while playing, other than wanting her to get the fuck out of the picture for your OTP ship to sail. But why should the villainess shoulder the villain’s crimes?! If anything, it was him who coerced her! All Anastasia wanted was to be with the Crown Prince! He was the only person who ever showed her an ounce of kindness!   Oh god.   All you know now is that you don’t want to die.   You died too early in your past life.   “Anastasia.” You’re shaken awake from your thick slumber by soft cooing. A quiet woman’s voice calls and when you open your eyes, you’re able to focus on a woman you’ve never seen before but is familiar at the same time. She smiles and picks you up. “Good afternoon.”    Instead of fussing around like you usually would, a triumphant smile spreads into your face.   Fucking finally. It’s the first time you’ve seen your ‘mother’. Maybe she’s just been recovering from the birth these past few months. After all, there’s no way the family would actually just abandon you to a bunch of maids—   “Oh my goodness, Elanor!” A shrill voice has your senses tingling. There’s another woman sitting at the rounded table fanning herself with an orange, feathered fan. “What a lovely daughter!”   “Yes, she really is. She hardly cries.”   Now that’s a big fat lie.   You’ve probably cried a thousand times since you got here. It’s not your fault the maids don’t know how to put you in anything other than scratchy dresses and forget to change your underwear after you’ve shit yourself.   Another stranger approaches you and practically digs their nose into your face. Her floral perfume almost has you retching and spewing out an entire bottle of milk in her face. “She is simply too delightful! She has Herrick’s eyes and your nose.”   “Really now? I think she’s growing up to look more and more like the Duke each day.”   “Oh she’ll grow up to be a beauty. You are truly blessed, Elenor.”   Cordial laughter fills the room.   Motherfucker. She’s just using you as a decor! You’re a prop for her to show off at her tea party! She doesn’t care about you whatsoever.    But fine. You can play along with her. It’s not like you have any choice.   You muster an enormous gooey smile, channeling all the cuteness you know you must have and instantly, several of the ladies swoon. It’s an overwhelming victory! But one that requires a lot of energy when you were just awakened from your nap — and squeezing your butt cheeks results in the grumble of your stomach.   Being a few months old, you have poor control of your digestive system. So it’s no surprise that smiling so hard makes you shit your pants.    Oops.   The lump falls into your cloth diaper and instantly, your mother’s brow twitches.   The stench reaches her nose and the nostrils of the lady intruding into your space who immediately draws back in disgust. But what the hell are they expecting?! You’re a baby! All you do is eat, sleep and shit!   “Edith!”    Your mother’s shrill cry has the maid coming into the room. “Yes, your grace?”   “Take Anastasia.”   She passes you off without even looking and you’re swiftly taken away from the room, hearing the laughter and conversations resume the moment the doors close. So cruel!    “Ugh. I’ve never seen a baby who cries so much,” Edith complains and plops you into the bassinet instead of comforting you. If you had limb strength and mobility, you’d slap her for being so rude.   The younger maid with the higher-pitched voice looms over you. “Maybe it’s because she knows the Duke and Duchess never come to visit. She’s missing the comfort of a mother and father.”   Thank god someone can sympathize with you! As incompetent as Joan is — to the point where she’s checking your pants for the tenth time when you’re really just crying because you’re starving — at least she’s not a Karen.   Clearly, the bar is quite low.   “Well, it’s expected.” Edith steps away to fold the basket of your dresses. “The Duke and Duchess tried having children for years and the only child they have is a daughter who can’t even carry the family name. If it was a son, it would be different.”   “I don’t understand.” Joan rushes to the head maid’s side. “Usually daughters are treasured in noble families.”   Edith looks around and lowers her volume. “Don’t you know?”   “Know what?”   “Keep your voice down! If you say this outside, even I won’t be able to help you.” There’s a pause. “The Duke and Duchess aren’t real nobles, they don’t have any noble blood. The Duke’s late father, Arnold, fought heroically in the war and that’s why the King granted his family the title.”   “Oh…but...what does that have to do with anything?”   “Noble society is different from how we know it, you naive girl. No matter what you do, hundreds of eyes are constantly on you. It’s full of scrutiny and someone in power today might be exiled tomorrow. Having a son would’ve made it easier for the Devereux household to maintain their title and prestige.”   Joan sighs, finally realizing why things are the way they are. She comes to you and leans over the bassinet. “Poor thing. It’s not even her fault.”   She gives you her finger and you happily wrap your entire hand around it. Hell yeah! Finally someone’s feeling bad for your shitty situation.   But the older woman with wrinkles around her eyes scoffs. “There’s no use worrying about her. You should be more worried about yourself. If the House of Devereux fails to keep their power and wealth, we’ll be out of a job.”   Joan hums and pries her finger away from your grasps.   You frown and the next time the head maid feeds you, you puke all over her.    But you know what she said is true. It’s the reason why the real Anastasia felt like she needed to become the crown princess, why she tried so hard to make everyone around her approve of her. Aside from loving the Prince, she was desperate for recognition, desperate to fulfill her family’s wishes, and to maintain her family’s lineage without slipping from the status quo.   But you’re different.   You don’t care about those things. You’ll prove yourself on your own and do whatever it takes to survive.   Quickly. Quickly! You want to grow up and walk on your own two feet so you can protect yourself.   After all, no one else in this house will.   You stretch your arm in the air, curling your fingers together, staring up at the starry mobile.    But it’s hard in the body of a mere infant and you fall asleep in the midst of your exercise session, succumbing to the temptation of slumber with heavy lids.
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Four years later.   “Are you colouring, my lady?”   “Nooo.”   You’re writing. And it’s not just anything — it’s battle plans.    To anyone, it’s merely incoherent scribbles, a result of poor motor skills you have yet to refine. But it’s actually your life or death.   You don’t need status or power. Living in the countryside and living fruitfully is good enough. All you want is to live a long, peaceful life.   In the original story, after Anastasia’s eighteenth birthday, she was condemned for countless crimes, thrown in prison and then executed within the matter of weeks. All because of three people: the heroine, the Crown Prince, and the villain.   To avoid the effect, you should avoid the cause. Therefore, you need to do whatever you can to avoid these three!   It’s genius! Truly, if anyone knew how your four year old brain operated, you would be hailed as the next prophe—   “Get ready.” Edith interrupts your train of thought, coming into the room and swiftly shutting the door behind her.   “Why?”   “You’re having lunch with the Duke and Duchess.”   “But I don’t wanna,” you whine, especially when Joan starts collecting the crayons. You stand up before Edith can drag you and you stomp your feet. Why would you want to go have lunch with them when the amount of times you’ve seen them in four years can be counted on both hands.   “Don’t be spoiled. Come here.”   You stick out your tongue instead and the moment Edith’s fingers come to snag you, you swiftly dart and run as giggles squeak out of your body.   “My lady,” Joan sighs, at a loss as well.    The two of them try to corner you, but you dive to the left when there’s a chance.   The original villainess was always quite upright and strict, especially with herself. It’s reasonable considering the way she was raised and the massive burden placed upon her. But kids can get away with a lot more than adults and you’d prefer to take advantage of that while you still can.   “Stop playing around!” Edith finally snags the back of your nightgown and you laugh, still thrashing against her hold until she plops you down on the vanity chair. “You’re such an unruly troublemaker,” she mutters as she grabs the frilly dress you’re about to be changed into.   And just for that comment, you undo the pins she puts into your hair when she’s not looking.   It drives her crazy.   But your little antics are stopped the moment you’re sitting at the dinner table. The height of said table reaches your collarbone and the chair you’re sitting in overwhelms your form. The atmosphere is stiff and tense, your father sitting at the head of the table and slicing into his meat while your mom’s posture is upright and she chews gingerly.    Unlike the maids, you won’t test your luck with the Duke and Duchess. God knows they might send you to some kid ranch for the next ten years to reform yourself.    But you also know you can’t get any cuter than this.   You’ve seen yourself in the mirror — soft skin, big eyes, a button nose and chubby cheeks.   Who knows what puberty might do to you someday, but for now, you’re as cute as a four year old can get. And why not use that as a weapon in your arsenal?   “Momma.” You interrupt the silence and your mother across from you looks up. You give a full smile with teeth, quirking your head to your shoulder and open your arms as wide as they can go. “I like you this much!”   Oh. Hell. Yeah!   You can feel it. You’re totally gonna win them over—   Her head swivels over to the Duke. “Don’t you think it’s time to teach her manners?”   Wow. That’s cold.    Stone cold.   “Edith.” Your father glances over his shoulder and the head maid steps forward. “How’s Anastasia’s development?”   The older woman clears her throat. “She’s a bit wild, your grace.” You glare at her for exposing you like this. “However, she can write the alphabet and read through storybooks on her own. She seems to be a bright child.”   Damn straight. Of course, you’d be able to pick up the language of Ashea quickly. You still have the memories of your past life.   The Duke hums. “Then she can start training to be the crown princess.”   You nearly choke on your broccoli.    But you hastily compose yourself and look up at your father. “What’s that?”   “Don’t ask questions,” your mother quips and the room simmers down to the uncomfortable silence again.   It’s so ridiculous — the very definition of jumping the gun. You aren’t the Crown Prince’s fiancée, but they’re already considering you a candidate before you’ve even lost your baby teeth.   Not to mention, it’s all useless anyway. The original Anastasia never became the princess and you have no plans of even meeting the Prince.    “Do you know what happened in the year 921, my lady?” the tutor asks later on, pushing up his rounded spectacles up the slope of his nose.   You’re slumped over the table, one arm rested with your cheek squished in your hand, focused on twirling the quill with two fingers. God forbid Edith or your mother witnesses your awful posture, but no one’s ever interested enough to sit in on these dumb tutor sessions. They’d fall asleep instantly.   “The war of Winter,” you mumble and the tutor’s eyes light up and he enthusiastically nods.   “Yes! The most momentous moment in the history of Ashea. A great dragon rose from the mountains and in the war of Winter, great King Baek, the light priestess and fierce knights of the royal palace came down the lazy brook from Stoughsby Peaks next to the then Canary district which sold fabrics and spices up until the year 914 when the famine of 914 came—”   The tutor drones on and on.   But one thing grabs your attention. You forgot there was magic in this world.   “Ummm,” you interrupt him in the middle of his tangent. “Did King Baek kill the dragon by magic?”   “Great question. King Baek in the summer of 896, seven years after he was born, started to learn the art of swordsmanship through rigorous training with the fierce knights of the royal place who was then under the rule of King Ennik—”   You don’t know why you asked.   “How do you start doing magic?” you interject again.   “Well, magic is part of everyone and it’s everywhere. But some are more attuned to it than others. It requires vigorous training, the most talented magician was Ruffus Dolores who dedicated his life living in the Magician’s Tower and wrote most of the magical texts we have today.”   You look at him, curiosity finally alight in your eyes. “Can I do magic?”   There was never magic on Earth in the twenty-first century aside from Harry Potter or Twilight, if Edward’s sparkling constitutes as magic. But if it’s anything like those movies, then you’re psyched! You can wingardium leviosa yourself and yeet out of here.   Unfortunately, your excitement is short lived.   “The House of Devereux isn’t very magically inclined,” the tutor says and your eyes dim again. You’re not completely surprised considering Anastasia was never much of a fighter in the game. She just splashed water on the main character’s face a lot and made players like you curse her out. “However, while magic is an inborn talent and comes naturally, skills always have to be honed. There’s still a chance you may have magical abilities. We’ll just have to see as you get older.”   You hum to yourself.   //   Edith pulls the curtains together haphazardly, the moonlight crisp where the gap is and sheds a silver sliver onto the carpet. Joan takes the tray with your finished glass of milk, nearly toppling it over and shattering the glass, but finding balance in the nick of time.   “Goodnight, my lady.”   “Night night.” Your hand peeks out from the covers and you wave.   “Don’t get out of bed or else,” Edith warns in a low tone. “The Duke won’t be happy to hear if you’re found wandering in the halls or sneaking into the kitchen again.”   You giggle. “Bye bye.”   The door shuts, darkness engulfs your bedroom and you count to ten within your head. The moment the seconds are up, you throw the covers off of you and slide off the high mattress.   You come to your desk, grasp the heavy duty textbook off of it and lug it over to the windows.    The enormous book sits on your lap as you lean against your bedpost. The moonlight illuminates the cover and you flip to the magic section at the back, the noise of the pages soothing in the quiet space. Magic — not only is it interesting to you but it could be a great defense mechanism if worse comes to worse. Who knows. It might just add to your battle plans and help you survive.   Your pointer finger underlines the sentences and traces the words as you read the introduction slowly.   After reading, you learn that magic is more intuitive, rather than a particular procedure.    You push the textbook aside and hold your hands out. Shutting your eyes, you try your best to envision light. You try to imagine light engulfing your figure and form, causing your skin to glow.   Peeking with one eye open, there’s—   Absolutely nothing.   Well shit. Maybe the tutor was right. Maybe there is no real magical talent in your bloodline. But there’s no harm in trying to dabble in it a little more.   You conceptualize fire in your brain. And when you look in your hand, you’re ecstatic to see a tiny flame actually flickering in mid-air. Oh shit! It worked!   But it smothers out a blink later.   You try to visualize water next to see if your magical expertise lays within the element. When you open your eyes, your breath hitches at the water droplets floating in your palm. And for once, it doesn’t completely vanish within a second. A grin spreads into your face. But as if Lady Luck wants to slap you, the moment you get hyped, the water splashes into your lap.   It looks like you peed yourself.   “Really?!”   You sigh, ready to give up.   Maybe you don’t have a knack for magic after all.    You turn to grab the textbook, but the heftiness is awkward in your grasps and your thumb slips, accidentally flipping over the next page. The page’s heading makes you stop.    Oh yeah. Dark magic exists.   Might as well give it a shot while you’re at it.   Like all the times before, you shut your eyes and hold your hands upwards. You try to imagine darkness — the similar kind that’s already filled your bedroom, or like the empty void that you were plunged in after being hit by that truck. That abyss of nothing, of pitch black.   Suddenly, you feel a pressure on your shoulders. It’s heavy. Comforting. Eerie. All at the same time.   Your lashes flutter open and your breath is plugged in your nose. Darkness has overwhelmed the room. It bleeds out of you, consuming your form like smoke, the hue of ink spilt on oil. It covers the silver moonlight, erasing the sliver casted on your carpet and what was translucent through the curtains. Exactly like the empty void, the abyss of nothing.    It’s trying to consume you.   There’s a shriek from outside your room. “All the candles just blew out!”   Panic drains blood from your face and you drop your hands, flailing your arms as if you can dispel the black before it wraps its hands around your throat and submerges you completely.   It fades, the moonlight traveling back onto you again and you shove the book underneath your bed.   You’re still shaking as you climb back into bed.   God knows you’re never going to try that again.   //   So you might not have an aptitude for magic after all. But the grief is short-lived after the realization that it’s not a toy or something that comes out of a magical wand for you to fight Dementors with. But there’s still a lot of ways you can protect yourself. You just have to get creative.   “I wanna do that!”    Your nose, forehead and palms are pushed against the glass window as you peer outside.   Joan frowns and peeks out. “You want to go flower picking, my lady?”   “No!”   The useless maid finally looks to the two guards sparring with one another out by the field. “You want to sword fight?”   “Uh-huh.”   She bursts out laughing and you whirl around in irritation.    “I wanna! Pretty please?” How else are you going to protect yourself? If you can’t use magic, then you need to go the melee route and pick up a sword or at least a bow and arrow.   “You would have to ask permission from the Duke himself, my lady.” Joan turns away to make your bed, expecting you to give up. When it comes to asking your parents, it’s too much of a hassle to get involved with them. But this time, you don’t concede.   She’s surprised when you tug on her dress. “Okay.”   The Duke’s study doors are imposing on their own. Without needing to open them, the twisting ornate patterns on the wooden surface are enough to eerily remind you of exposed arteries. It feels like you’re approaching the principal’s office — a nervousness of the impending doom.   You’ve always been careful to steer clear any place your mother or father might be. The study on the third floor, the gardens, their bedroom. And any time you passed, your steps would quiet.   It’s not like you’re scared of them. Frankly, you’re just annoyed at how nit-picky they are.   But you remind yourself you’ve been through worse — you once spent an entire summer in customer service serving food in the twenty first century for god’s sakes!   With that in mind, you throw open the doors.   Joan, behind you, practically flinches.   Your father’s sitting behind his oak desk, quill and parchment in hand, and he looks above his rounded spectacles. You give your most charming smile. “Hi, papa!”   He looks to the older girl and deadpans, “What’s the matter.”   The maid clears her throat, clearly distressed that she’s been dragged into this. “Uh, well, your grace, my lady, uh, she…..well…”   “I wanna do sword!” You tottle towards him and round the desk to come eye to eye with his knees. C’mon, as uncaring as they are, they gotta at least care a little for their daughter, right? You’re too cute to ignore all the time. You flutter your lashes for good measure. “Pretty please?”   The Duke’s brow quirks. “You want to learn swordsmanship?”   You enthusiastically nod. “Uh-huh!”   He stares at you. You stare at him.   The older man sits back in his chair. “It wouldn’t hurt to learn an interesting skill or two. It might make you stand out.” Those two lifelessly said statements alone are enough to make you happy. Even when he resumes his paperwork. “I heard from your tutor that you’re a fast learner.”   You’re surprised the old fart said something good about you, but of course you are! You’re technically twenty four now. Mathematics is truly universal when you can recall the basics and the language is easy to pick up. You’re already dumbing down everything to not make it weird.   “Maybe you’re not so useless after all,” he mutters from the corner of his mouth, no longer sparing you a glance.    You hold back a scoff. Instead, you force a smile and a sweet giggle. “Thank you, papa! I like you too!”   You wonder if this is why Anastasia tried so hard. The only time she gains recognition in her family is when she’s focusing her time and energy into studying and proving her worth. If so, it’s depressing. You wish you had more sympathy for her when you were playing from the heroine’s perspective. But you’re beginning to understand her better and better.    Why she did what she did.   How she became the female villain.   “Fight me!” You point your wooden sword at the knight whose eyes are wide. You bet he didn’t expect to be sparing with a four year old when he was assigned to protect the Devereux house, but this is a matter of life and death for you. “Hurry!”   “Y-Yes, my lady.”   You smile, gripping the handle tighter. He comes up and weakly slashes you and you’re able to root your feet into the ground and keep yourself from stumbling back. He’s obviously not trying very hard, but it’s good enough for now. Slowly but surely, you’re finding a rhythm into things.    In your spare time, you learn the history of Ashea, read books and plan the next steps in your battle plan of avoiding all main characters of the game at all costs. You’ll protect yourself no matter what it takes.   And you’ll survive no matter what happens.
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jessiewritesthings · a year ago
Saudade - Pt. I
Prince Zuko x Reader
Hello I am here and I am obsessed with my boy Zuko so I decided to write this and now i’m sad but still obsessed!!! Hope y’all enjoy x
Part II - Part III - Epilogue
Breath hitched in your throat, anger coursed through your body as Aang fell, the energy from Azula’s lightning still pulsing through the air. Katara stood across from you, surrounded by waves of water. The Dai Li agents stood in shock; Azula smirking with her brows furrowed, and Zuko – Zuko.
 Mind swimming, you discarded everything Zuko had told you while you were imprisoned with Katara. He always lies, just like his sister, you thought. Quick to action, Katara rode a wave collecting Aang in her arms with tears in her eyes. Azula and Zuko made their way to Katara, preparing to claim their prize and ship him back to the Fire Lord without so much as a second glance at you.
 Narrowing your eyes, you focused on the pair as Azula and Zuko both prepared to attack, using the water around you and channelling it, intent on pummelling them down with fast, heavy plumes of water. Releasing, Zuko turned to you as the rush of the water skidded through the air, knocking him off his feet and distracting Azula.
“Now, Zuzu, don’t go getting complacent,” Azula murmured as she blocked your attack and faced you with a malicious stare. As Azula raised her arms, you prepared yourself to deflect her next attack, but Azula was cut short when a hot flame was thrown in front of her. Using the flame as a distraction, you launched yourself through the water to Katara’s side, as General Iroh spoke.
“You’ve got to get out of here – I’ll hold them off as long as I can,” he urged, fighting his own family and confirming his state as traitor to his nation.
“Go, Katara!” you yelled, intent on standing by Iroh’s side. Katara didn’t argue as she took Aang to safety, albeit with tears in her eyes as she watched you fondly.
Glaring at Azula with only one thing on your mind, the water surrounding you crept to Azula’s feet, creating a gimbal around her before turning the rings of water into a razor, cutting through layers of her clothing and leaving an angry red welt on her cheek. You would have been able to cause more damage if Zuko hadn’t attacked you, sending a brusque flame your way. Your fingers seared in pain, the water dry and sizzling as the flame hit.
Biting your lip, you quickly used water to partially heal the burn, before opening both your palms with arms open, channelling all the water you were able to. With arms raised, you grunted heavily as you brought them down with intense force. Eyes narrowed on the siblings, the wave you created pummelled towards them, parting where you stood. A quick flick of your wrist ensured Iroh was clear of your attack, and the satisfaction you felt as Azula was caught off guard was like nothing you’d ever felt before.
Iroh continued to send more fire at the pair, keeping a close eye on Katara and Aang, before relenting as they made it out of the catacombs. It was clear that Iroh was not going to fight his niece and nephew further, and you started to move to his side before a searing pain engulfed you. Azula glared at you, an eyebrow cocked in satisfaction as you writhed in pain, gritting your teeth as the blue flame coiled itself around your left leg. Your brain roared, the flame sinking through your clothing and embedding itself in your skin. It took every ounce of concentration you had to bend the closest water and extinguish the ugly flare.
Collapsing onto your forearms, the only thing you could think about was how much you wanted to hurt the royal siblings, even though any attack now would be futile – as much as you wanted to take it further, you had to reserve your energy to heal the wound.
Iroh moved towards you, kneeling down to hold you against him as Azula and Zuko approached.
“Well, brother, it looks like we’re done here. Apprehend these traitors and throw them in a cell on our ships!”, Azula commanded. “Father will be pleased that we have recovered his disgraceful brother, and I’m sure he’ll enjoy his little waterbending trophy,” she continued. Your brows furrowed in anger and a rush of nerves ran through your body at the thought of being delivered to Fire Lord Ozai on a silver platter.
“Ready to return home, Prince Zuko?” she asked, folding her arms and facing her brother.
Zuko glanced at you, heart swelling and pulsing before he steadied himself and gave you a steely glare.
“Yes. I’ve been waiting a long time for this,” he snarled. You felt Iroh as he shuddered at Zuko’s words, his disappointment in his nephew almost palpable in the atmosphere. Zuko, purposely avoiding his Uncle’s gaze, turned his back on the two of you and stalked off with his sister. Dai Li agents roughly picked you up and dragged you along, taking no care for the injury you had sustained. One bump too many and you felt yourself slipping as you watched Zuko, his back to you and his head held high.
“Zuko!” Katara exclaimed, surprise etched on both of your faces as the banished prince tumbled onto the floor of the catacombs. Ignoring the two waterbenders, he turned his back to sit in silence. You sat across from him, watching his back as his breath rose and fell. It was the first time you’d seen him without Fire Nation red, and the green of the Earth Kingdom complimented him.
Katara, pent up in her anger towards him, began an endless tirade of questions, saying anything and everything that she’d ever thought about Prince Zuko. You watched on carefully, and it wasn’t long before Zuko retorted, causing Katara’s anger to swell even further before she broke down in tears. Moving closer, you draped an arm over her shoulder and held her close, glancing behind her to see Zuko watching you carefully.
“We have that in common,” he murmured quietly. Katara wiped her tears, shuffling away from you to seek some privacy, fingers gently fondling her mother’s necklace. Turning to face Zuko, you were surprised to see he had come closer, legs once again crossed in front of you.
“Your mother was taken from you?” you asked Zuko, hesitantly. He glanced down, flicking his fingers before raising his eyes to meet yours. You nodded, understanding what he was conveying without words. If the Crown Prince could have his own mother taken away, how safe was he? Fire Lord Ozai had forced his wife to flee and banished his own son – what wouldn’t he do to gain power? You shuddered, watching as Zuko sighed glumly, flicking a stone away. His scar moved almost like an afterthought with the rest of his face, and you swore you could almost hear the strain it pulled on his skin – taught, angry and discoloured. His angry amber eyes glanced at you once again, and you gave him a soft smile in return. The green Earth Kingdom robes gave a different aura to the Prince and his eyes seemed softer than when he was adorned in his Fire Nation red. You caught the corner of his lips raise in return and felt your breath swell in your throat.
Despite all his misgivings, there was something about Zuko that made you want to reach out, caress him softly and murmur sweet nothings into his ear. Despite all that he had done, you knew that deep down he was lost, confused, and caught up in something much bigger than him. Spirit knows, having Ozai for a father would be one of the worst upbringings anyone could think of. You wanted to reach out, touch his face and feel him, alive and pulsing beneath your hands. And so, you did.
Weeks had passed in the small, metal cells that Azula had thrown you in. Iroh had been placed in a cell next to yours, which offered a small comfort. He was chained to the walls of the ship, wrists and ankles bound, his grey hair growing longer as sweat kept it to his face. You had been shown small mercy a few days after being taken into the cell – Azula had been observing your wound with satisfaction, thoroughly pleased with her work. The flame had wound up your leg like a whip, and a final sharp edge had splayed across your stomach leaving you mottled and marred.
“It’s rather breathtaking, really,” she had commented. “Art.”
The burn still seared – you had managed to bend a small amount of water into your water skin before being removed from the catacombs, but that hadn’t gone very far in your attempts to heal your wound. You were a talented healer, renowned in both the Northern and Southern Water Tribes for your abilities, but without water you were helpless. You had attempted to heal yourself using Bloodbending, something you made sure to hide from watchful eyes, but it had proved ineffective – your lack of training and absence of the full moon meant you would have to beg.
“I will die soon,” you started. “Do you not want to present me to the Fire Lord, a trophy or a pawn, whatever it may be?” you asked Azula. Guards flanked her, and to your right you could see Prince Zuko hovering behind his sister.
“You’re exaggerating, water rat. What makes you think I’d willingly hand over water to a captive waterbender,” Azula sneered, looking down the ridge of her nose with an angry glare. 
“If you want me to make it to the Fire Lord alive, then I’d recommend it,” your breath raggedy in your chest. Your body ached; the right side of your body bruised from holding yourself up in efforts to prevent your burns coming into contact with anything that would worsen the injury.
Zuko moved to stand next to Azula, breathing heavily.
“You must think us stupid,” he spat. His anger started to dissipate however, as you raised your eyes to meet his. Words caught in his throat as he saw you, covered in a thick film of sweat and dirt. The burn was awful. He would choose his scar over yours one hundred times, and then probably one hundred more. Your body was draped in such a way to prevent infection on your wound, but he could see near your ankle where it had started to take a more sinister turn. You were exhausted, eyes sad, defeated. When he had been trapped in the catacombs with you, he could feel the pulsing of life within you – something had been magnetic. Now, he couldn’t even be sure if he was looking at the same person.
“Stupid, no,” you murmured. “Do you really think I’m asking for water under the guise of a surprise attack? Even if I was, look at me. You’d have me hit before I’d even be able to bend anything. I need to heal myself.” Your eyes narrowed on Azula, taking a deep breath as you waited for her response. You knew that if Zuko were alone he would relent – especially if the Fire Lord wanted you for a pet.
Azula folded her arms, still unspeaking. Zuko shifted next to her, raking over you again with an odd sort of soft sympathy in his eyes.
Iroh grunted from the cell next to yours. The siblings had left him relatively unharmed, though treated him with seemingly even more disdain than they did you.
“It would be wise to give y/n the resources she needs in which to heal herself. She is a talented healer; she will not need much in order to prevent the damage until we arrive in the Fire Nation.” Iroh shuffled in his cell next to yours, moving as close as his chains would allow as he spoke up in your defence.
“Seems you still think you know best, Uncle,” Azula commented. “Very well. Zuko, why don’t you go and fetch y/n a small bowl of water. I’m curious to see how our little healer works. Perhaps we can keep her, if she proves useful.” One corner of Azula’s mouth raised in a little smirk, only for you to see. You knew she was taunting you, doing her best to make you aware that no matter how you tried, you were here now. A sharp groan escaped your mouth as the ship sharply lulled to the side, pushing you to your back. Another rough wave and you were forced on to your left leg, hissing as the shock of pain trembled through your body.  
Closing your eyes, you concentrated on your breathing as you pulled yourself on to your right hip, back resting against the wall of the cell. Glancing at your leg, you saw it was coated in dirt, and thick black pieces of ash. As Azula and the guards watched, you ripped a piece of your shirt, revealing the tip of the burn that coiled around your back and ended above your navel. The sudden jolts had caused your body to react in a sweat, but you waited for Zuko to return with the water bowl before bending your own sweat to remove the dirt and ash, instead choosing to delicately wipe at your leg with the fabric from your shirt.
“Charming,” Azula commented, as Zuko returned. “Wait, brother. Take a moment to admire my work.”
You ignored the hot, steely gazes of the spectators and continued dabbing at your wound, your heart beating as a drop of water fell from the bowl in Zuko’s hands. If you wanted to, you could take it from him now – bend it from the bowl and into your palms – but you knew better than that. You’d have to be careful, aware that any sudden movement could cause them to attack you and leave you to rot.
Azula motioned for the guards to open the cell door, and Zuko gingerly stepped inside, watching your slumped form. The desire to fight was there, and it was urging. Sure, it would be risky, but Azula underestimated how talented you were. As Zuko approached your side, bowl in one hand and a soft orange flame bouncing in the other, you could almost feel the pulsing ocean around you, as if it wanted you to take control, as if it wanted you to seize it and unleash a vicious ferocity you weren’t entirely sure you were capable of.
Zuko knelt in front of you, however, and any fantasy of wielding the ocean in your defence vanished as his soft flame doubled in size with a vicious flick. Gulping, you nodded in thanks as he placed the bowl down, heart racing in your chest.
His eyes didn’t meet yours, but you could feel their heat as they travelled from the burn on your ankle, following its length until the fabric covering your waist hid it from sight. You watched as his eyes trailed over your stomach, and his lips curled down in a slight frown. He knew how you were feeling - he’d experienced it first-hand. The scar covering his eye tingled, a strange sensation flowing through him. Zuko had the strongest urge to reach out and touch your wounds, as if one smooth caress would fix the damage caused by his sister. Fingers trembling, he fumbled with the seam of his shirt, before clenching his hands into fists and closing his eyes. 
Slowly, you raised your hand, preparing to bend the water over your burn. Zuko rose, stepping back when he saw the water slowly trickle through the air until it floated above your palm. You weren’t sure why he wasn’t backing away and leaving the cell, though a quick glance at Azula confirmed why: she was carefully watching Zuko, observing all the small movements he made, the shift in his demeanour that had changed since he’d entered the cell. It almost seemed as if she wanted you to attack him, as if that would bring her some sort of pleasure.
“You may begin,” Azula urged, eyes roaming between the water in your palms and her brothers form.
Slowly, the water floating above your palm slipped from your hand and drifted atop your left  thigh. Inhaling, you closed your eyes, focussing all your energy on the soft vibrations in your palms, holding them above your wounds. The water, now spread out to lay with all of your burn caused your leg to light up in a silvery-blue glow. It would have been beautiful, if it hadn’t been so awful to begin with.
The glow shimmered as you moved your palms across your body, fingers clenching as you concentrated on the soft, soothing motion of the water as it soaked through the burn, purging your skin of all the dirt and ash of earlier.
“Incredible,” Iroh murmured, his voice coming from the dark of his cell.
Glancing up, you saw Azula staring at you, hands on her hips and a gleam in her eye. Guards and soldiers were crammed into the hold, everyone eager to catch a glimpse of Fire Lord Ozai’s waterbending prize – and even better, they got a healing performance for free. It wasn’t every day Fire Nation soldiers had left waterbenders alive long enough to see it. 
To your left, Zuko flinched as you placed your palm flat over the burn on your torso. It was particularly bad here, and silently you took a moment to acknowledge that this would forever be etched on to your skin. You watched him now, quickly. The flames held up by benders in the room fluttered across his face, his scowl present but that same, soft look in his eyes.
He feels bad for me, you thought. It almost looked like remorse, too. Or some odd sort of jealousy – he saw the water work with your burn, rolling and soothing its knots and scratches. It was still bad – loud, angry and demanding, but you could tell he was thinking about what his own scar might look like if you had been there to heal him with your silvery-blue glow. 
Bending slightly, you focussed the last of your energy on the burn that scraped along the sole of your foot. A silent, tired sigh rippled through your body and with a twist of your wrist you returned the water to the bowl.
“Thank you, Princess Azula,” you murmured, eyes open and trained on her, but desperately wanting to close. Healing was exhausting, and having a limited water supply didn’t make it any easier. Your audience was making you increasingly uncomfortable, beady eyes observing you in an eerie silence. 
“That was… fascinating,” Azula observed. “You’ll be an asset for our soldiers when the Fire Nation inevitably takes over the world.” While it was clear that you hadn’t been able to completely heal your wound, it couldn’t be denied that your healing powers had eased the angry red that wrapped around you. The pain had eased, and you let out a breath you didn’t realise you were holding in, feeling lighter than you had in days.
Soldiers started milling out of the hold, returning to their duties, leaving you alone with Azula, Zuko, and Iroh in his cell. Zuko collected the water bowl, handing it to a soldier outside your cell, as Azula turned to leave.
“I have some important correspondence with our father, Zuko. Secure her arms on your way out,” Azula commanded. Azula stalked out of the hold with a guard flanking her, watching you from the corner of his eye. It seemed that although Zuko was returning home, his banishment over, his younger sister still viewed him entirely beneath her.
“Arms out,” he said, holding the restraints in his hands. The cold, heavy metal felt clammy,  and your wrists ached as they rubbed on raw skin. His fingers lingered on yours, moving so softly over your hands that you couldn’t be sure he was even touching you. What did confirm his touch, however, was the heat that radiated from him. An involuntary sigh escaped you, as his closeness enabled you to feel warmer than you had since the Fire Nation soldiers had thrown you in your cell.
Once again, you felt an overwhelming desire to reach out to Zuko – feel his hands on you, memorize his face by touch alone, an appetite for the pressure of his body against yours tormenting you. The light was dim, a lone lantern dangling outside your cell. Zuko’s face was mostly hidden, but the light was enough that you could make out his amber eyes on yours. Raising your chained hands, you reached for his chin, fingertips gently caressing him before he clasped his hands around your wrists, fingers reaching under the metal to properly feel you. A heated breath escaped him, a small flame peaking from his parted lips.
Stop. Stop it. Let go. “Zuko,” you murmured, acutely aware of Iroh’s presence, and the fact that you were in the dark, quietly becoming enamoured with Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation – he who had helped put you in chains.
Bowing his head, he swallowed before releasing you, wiping his hands on his shirt. 
“I know. I’m sorry.” Zuko’s entire being was bewitched by yours, and he allowed himself to drop even further into his vulnerability as his mind ran through countless scenarios where he could touch you, feel you (maybe even kiss you) freely, without the fear of losing his honour breathing down his back. He’d only just regained it, and he couldn’t afford to lose it now.
In another life, maybe, we’d get out of here.
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outbythehighwind · a year ago
Tifa’s Fighting Style
One of the things that impressed me most about FF7R is Tifa Lockhart’s combat. Her mechanics were dazzling. Her combos left me awed. Her style was so realistic, but... what was it? Naturally, I did some digging, and happened to stumble across a blog where most of the work had already been done. So this post is courtesy of Flowerslightning, with thoughts and elaboration on my part. THANKS AND CREDIT TO THIS WONDERFULLY INSIGHTFUL BLOGGER (do check out her tumblr for more fantastic content).
First, let’s note that Tifa’s combat design is very much in the field of fighting games. To some degree at least, developers take inspiration from real-life arts. The style of Tekken’s Lei Wulong, for instance, is based on the Drunken First. Street Fighter’s Chun Li uses the model of Chinese Kenpo.
The FFVII devs - to my knowledge - have revealed nothing on Tifa’s inspired martial arts background. She adopted the monk style (the fisticuffs of FF-verse) from a traveler named Zangan. That’s all we know. She trained (obviously very hard) as his pupil for the 2 years between Cloud leaving Nibelheim and Sephiroth burning the town. Zangan then brought her to Midgar and continued his travels. The only path for discerning real-arts inspiration is through observing Tifa’s fights - though even such attempt is limited. Her style is not as straightforward as Lei’s or Chun Li’s. She seems to employ a mix of martial arts, specializing in the offense and using speed and dexterity to her advantage.
Here are the main styles that Flowerslightning deduced, supported by some of Tifa’s abilities.
1. Muay Thai [demonstrated by Somersault].
This is the known as the “Art of Eight Limbs” and is commonly referred to as “Thai boxing”. It differs from traditional kickboxing (which has its roots in Japan) most notably in being an 8-point instead of 4-point striking system. In other words, Muay Thai employs elbow and shin strikes in addition to kicks and punches. Tifa’s kicks, I would say, are actually more akin to kickboxing, for Muay Thai places emphasis on heavy kicks involving the shin bone. Yet her acrobatic style is very akin to the latter.
In addition to the key boxing techniques of both the Thai and Japanese art, Tifa’s elbow maneuvers provide further evidence for the former. This is most evident during her fight with Loz, where she uses her elbows for offense and defense. One could say she expanded her Thai-based skills during in the 2 years that followed saving the world.
Running a new bar and raising two under-10-year-olds would have left at least a... smidgen of free time, right?
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2. Muay Thai [demonstrated by Refocus].
Some may suggest this move of Tifa’s is a Taekwondo technique (we’ll get to that lovable sport soon, don’t you worry), but I agree with Flowerslightning in that her jumping style is more Muay Thai. Almost all Muay Thai techniques use movement of the entire body, rotating the hip with each kick, punch, elbow and block. This to me is the obvious discerning factor. Tifa exquisitely throws her whole body into the majority of her combos and limit breaks, ground and aerial alike. Specifically through that neat hip rotation. Refocus is but one example of many.
PS. Don’t you just love her boots? The gloves are really something but, those red boots... Just look at them.
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3. Taekwondo [shown in Overpower].
Literally the “Way of the Hand and Foot”, this is a Korean martial art set apart by its emphasis on kicks. Head-height kicks, jump spin kicks, swift kicks, the list goes on. (But of course, there’s plenty of hand blocking and take-downs too.) Did you know that Taekwondo is part of South Korea’s military training program as well as their national sport? Its skillset is heavy in self-defense.
Tifa is mostly an offensive attacker (and wow, do her strikes deal devastating damage). Yet her aerial maneuvers and acrobatic footwork certainly have elements of Taekwondo. What makes the Taekwondo kick-style unique is its elaborate, advanced forms. Xtreme 720s, for instance, are underpinned by precise technical soundness and accuracy.
Yes, these are literal 720° mid-air turns with a SERIES of kicks timed in utmost precision. They require extraordinary strength. Something Tifa deceptively pulls off with ease, no?
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4. Hēi-Hǔ-Quán [displayed in Starshower].
Flowerslightning deduces this ATB ability to be a Boxing combo. Though to me it looks more like Hēi-Hǔ-Quán (lit. ‘Black Tiger Fist’, a Shaolin striking art from China). Watch her hands closely: the thumbs are curled like the fingers rather than wrapped around them to form a fist. Tifa’s wide stances and acrostic kicks are a little less tiger-esque than Hēi-Hǔ-Quán, but there is definitely resemblance of the style there too.
All in all, she seems to employ a mixture of Shaolin arts and Boxing. Her finger-positions for fast jabs (as in Starshower and the Loz fight) are predominantly of the Tiger Fist. Her more powerful strikes, meanwhile, include Boxing crosses, hooks and uppercuts. The sewer cutscene demonstrates this clearly, when Tifa & Cloud encounter the Sahagin.
And damn, do we love the back-to-back Cloti in that scene. Surely I’m not just speaking for myself here.
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5. Boxing [displayed in Unbridled Strength].
Tifa’s aforementioned fist moves and powerful finishing punches are no doubt reminiscent of boxing. Also, she always enters a fight with her fists closed in a boxing stance (whether she will employ Shaolin or other hand techniques is irrelevant). Take her cutscene against the Whispers where she, Cloud and Aerith arrive at Sector 7. She begins with a cross and follows with a rotated hook - one of the most basic boxing combos.
BONUS FACT: Rather than orthodox, Tifa always employs a southpaw stance (right hand and right foot forward). This is the preferred stance of a left-hand fighter. Is Tifa left-handed? Considering her fighting alone, yes is the plausible assumption. Here are a few examples:
     - Unbridled Strength has her delivering a finishing blow with her left hand. We would expect such a move to be done with the power hand.
     - Her single strike that hurls Loz across the church is also with the left hand. This punch is not part of a combo; she could have used either hand.
     - In guard position, her left is the rear hand, to both attack and protect herself.
     - And of course, in southpaw stance, she always begins with a left-hand strike.
However, all of Tifa’s general actions (to my observance) - like bartending, catching Aerith in the sewer, carrying the Buster Sword into Corneo’s quarters, etc. - suggest that she is right-handed. So why use the left, the weaker, as her dominant hand in fighting? Could she actually be ambidextrous? That is a possibility. But weighing up the evidence in addition to Tifa's ingenuity, this could well be out of fighting strategy.
Southpaw can give Tifa a strategic advantage, you see, because of the tactical and cognitive difficulties her enemies would have of coping with a fighter who moves in a mirror-reverse of the norm. In other words, she takes advantage of the fact that most fighters lack experience against lefties. Doing this:
     - opens up chance for a variety of surprise combos;
     - puts her human enemies in danger of KOs by what would otherwise be ordinary strikes; and
     - enables her to trick her opponents should she unexpectedly convert to orthodox during fights.
Pretty damn awesome, huh?
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6. Gymnastics [dodging maneuvers].
Gymnastics, like fighting arts, enhances balance, strength, flexibility and agility - the four areas Tifa excels at. Now, we’ve talked a lot about her strong points. But what of her weaknesses? Players will have noticed immediately that Tifa has a major setback. She can accurately be described as a glass cannon, due to her low HP and defenses that counter-balance her speed and dexterity. That is precisely what makes playing as her so compelling; you get that sense of life or death intensity. The fight feels REAL. She is the least OP character in the party, in addition to by far being the most difficult to master. Utilized properly, she can be the strongest of them all. And wow, is that rewarding or what?
Because of her weak defenses, Tifa must constantly remain on the move, and gymnastics is the quintessential means in doing so. Hand springs, aerial cartwheels - you name it, she’s got it. As if those kicks and uppercuts don’t scream epic enough already. Doesn’t it just make her even MORE amazing?
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So I’ve added Hēi-Hǔ-Quán to Flowerslightning’s conclusion: that Tifa’s combat is Mixed Martial Arts, with her dominant skills as Kickboxing, Taekwondo and Muay Thai. And of course, the interweaving of Gymnastics, which adds an elegance to her epic kickassery.
Tifa lost her teacher after just two years, and spent the last five managing & running a bar, serving as AVALANCHE’s funder & treasurer, and effectively solo-raising Barret’s little daughter. Add two more years, and we have a completely absent Barret, a very sick child in addition to the one she is (now permanently) raising, and a depressed, distant Cloud who has left her to struggle as a solo barkeep, full-time nurse and single mother. How on earth did she find the time and will to master her fighting techniques?
Yes, we are talking about fiction, but this woman is nothing short of incredible. Not simply as a fighter - that isn’t even the start of it. Tifa is, to me, the character who has had it the hardest. Yet she perseveres. And not only that, but she gives. She gives and gives, and doesn’t give up, even when everyone else around her has. In addition, she is the only ‘ordinary’ member of the party: Cloud, on top of military training, had his senses enhanced with Mako & Jenova cells; Barret literally has a gun for an arm; and Aerith as the last Cetra possesses exceedingly strong magic. Tifa, like with everything she does, worked hard to hone her skills. And that, to me, is incontestably admirable.
As Flowerslightning put it, she was “ready to go through hell and yet still remain soft”. And those virtues she held to, where most people would have quit. Compassion and perseverance to the end, the two traits that uphold her - to me - as the most inspiring hero of fiction.
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kayr0ss · a year ago
[Avatrice, pre-relationship, snippets and some fluff,,,...] AO3
Ava has learned how to walk, run, fight, and survive.
But there's one more thing she's learned how to do, without knowing that Beatrice was the one that taught her.
Walking was a quick enough thing to learn. 
It was out of necessity—trying not to get blown up and all—and she was thankful to get herself out of the crossfire between… whoever the fuck was fighting back there. She wobbled a little, finding stability in the crumbling walls of what looked to be one of Spain’s more dated churches. Despite the danger, it was fascinating to feel the jagged surface of the stone, smoothened over by time and passage but still sharp against her skin. The concept of ‘sensation’ was new, but there were more screams and another explosion and if this wasn’t a dream (which she doubted), she had better get out and away— fast.
  Running was less of a learning experience and more of an absolute joy. Ava ran, and ran, and ran , and she couldn’t believe that she was running and that in itself only pushed her to run even faster. There was sand under her feet, and the feeling of air whipping along her hair, face, and features by virtue of the movement she was now lucky enough to initiate herself.
The freedom to move was intoxicating. 
She didn’t even tire out. Was it the odd superpowers or the sheer force of her adrenaline? She decided she didn’t care—she wasn’t going to stop moving. In the next moment she was flat on her back, peering up at the stars with her own two eyes. The clouds were kind enough to part for her that evening; maybe they knew? Awesome. She giggled to herself, grinning while taking in the sound of waves rushing into the beach and the feeling of sand on her fingers, always in motion. She didn’t even remember how it felt anymore—sand, or even just feeling —and this meeting felt like the first time all over again. She wanted to close her eyes to savor the sensations, but the stars were too beautiful to ignore.
Every second could slip away at any moment.
  Fighting was both exhilarating and terrifying and decidedly something she was not good at. 
But once again, necessity proved itself a great teacher because no she didn’t feel like getting decked by Lilith another fucking time, thank you very much!
“Again,” Mother Superion commanded with the crack of her cane.
Lilith bore down on her with more satisfaction than Ava was comfortable with, but when the first two hits phased through without harm to her person, she couldn’t help the satisfied smirk that broke through.
“You look confident.” The taller woman had a razor-sharp tongue.
Ava grinned. “I guess you could say I’m simply un phased. ”
There was a thud, a very loud “Shit!”, and a full two seconds before her brain registered that ouch that hit landed!
  She could walk, run, sprint, and even climb by now but by God and all the saints there was just no beating Beatrice was there?
Ava landed on the mat with a heavy thud and a sigh of defeat. 
At least Beatrice seemed more interested in her actually learning some of these moves instead of beating her up for the heck of it. Her opponent graced her with a soft smile and a welcoming hand to help her back up.
“Give me a minute.” Ava chuckled, gaze steady and careful. “Great view from down here!” 
Beatrice leveled her with a flat glare, sighing exasperatedly as she took back her hand. 
“If you’re not going to take this seriously then get up yourself.”
“Hey!” Ava complained, scrambling back upwards despite the ache in her hip. The thought of whether she had meant that quip or not passed by too quickly for her register or remember; especially since Beatrice had gotten back into form and was sending another flurry of fists her way.
  Falling off a cliff was not something Ava wanted to learn what the fuck Mary!
  The fear was chased away the moment the light hit her eyes. She could breathe again, finally outside the claustrophobic weight of a twenty-foot block of concrete, and her mind was a jumble of air , and relief , and Beatrice and freedom . There were hands at her face, coming up to soothe away every worry she had burdened herself with. Brown, searching eyes looked at her with a voice that sang ‘ it’s going to be okay .’
And it was. 
Because Beatrice said so.
Between then and now—she knew she learned another new thing. It was neither powering up the halo nor facing one’s fears. It was something else. Something she couldn’t name.
It was there when in the room as they read the story together, and in every bruise and cut that Beatrice had dutifully tended to. It was there in every tap on the shoulder and gentle reminder, and nod of reassurance and utmost belief sent her way.
The word this new thing  eluded her, try as she might, and— ugh.
She’d think about it later.
  They were huddled up in a safehouse, recovering from the aftermath of the Vatican which, to quote herself much earlier in the day, was a total shitshow what in the actual fuck. 
But now wasn’t the time for obscenities, not when the one most likely to nag her for her language was laying across her lap, resting. She didn’t go down without a fight either—Ava had to pull out the big guns. The puppy dog eyes and the little pleading voices! She had no idea how it worked, but it did, and Beatrice had awkwardly settled herself onto the makeshift pillow which was herself and eased that tireless big brain into some well-deserved rest.
Trust your team , Beatrice asked. She did. Ava let her gaze wander around the sparse living room—the safehouse was an old farmhouse along the outskirts of Italy. Everyone was resting now, even Lilith, and she was thankful that this time, the team was trusting her.  
She kept watch, tiredness kept at bay by the buzzing halo nestled in her back, and didn’t even notice the hours slip by until she felt Beatrice stir from underneath her.
“You good?” 
“As good as one gets after what we’ve been through,” she replied in a voice laden with drowsiness, moving to push herself upwards but not before Ava could press down on her shoulder—softly—insisting she lay down a little more.
“Your legs are probably sore by now.”
“Super pillow powers is just another one of the halo’s perks, I’ll have you know.” Ava grinned.
And by the heavens, Beatrice smiled back. 
Beatrice had a bruise on her cheek, a cut on her lip, and likely an innumerable number of aches and pains which she wishes she could soothe away, even just a little bit. She wanted to touch them—to run her fingers along them and pray that whatever kept her alive and awake could extend itself into healing someone she cared for. She didn’t even notice that her hand was moving until Beatrice tensed up and nearly flinched, before immediately relaxing into the feeling of Ava running her fingertips along her forearm.
It was a soft motion, just enough to graze along the hairs with barely any contact across from the skin. She would run along the few scars revealed by the rare occasion of Beatrice in rolled-up sleeves, and when she closed her eyes in contentment Ava was unable to resist the urge to run her hand along her hair, scratching softly, enjoying the way the other woman leaned into the action.
“Is it okay?”
Asking before doing is yet another thing she had picked up somewhere along the way.
“You’ve grown more dexterous.” Beatrice remarked, likely trying to pass it off as an even statement but failing to hide the tenderness along the end. “More careful. You were always flailing about, hitting furniture here and there in a simple trip to the kitchen.”
“Ugh. We need a major interior décor overhaul, I’ll tell you that.”
Beatrice chuckled. “Let’s not get started on you learning utensils.”
“Hey!” Ava chided playfully. “Low blow.”
“We did have to help you with nearly everything.” She smiled. “I suppose one could say you were… spoon-fed. ”
“Wow.” Ava laughed, warmed at the display of familiarity and nearness. “Look at you!”
“But I meant what I said,” Beatrice hummed. Ava had moved up from her forearms to tracing the back of her hand, the indentations where veins lay and creases of her knuckles. She turned the hand over, running the pads of her fingertips along a calloused palm to the tips of her fingers. It made her shiver, this action of familiarization, and she felt the slow rise-and-fall of Beatrice’s breathing quicken into something nearly erratic. “This is… new to you.”
And suddenly Ava understood where she had learned.
Where she first felt softness caressing her face, and the careful steadying of a hand on her shoulder. She had picked up the habit of delicate care and meaningful looks and knowing when to speak and when to quiet, the art of soothing someone tired and overexerted into rest.
Her muscles recognized the actions which spoke, ‘you are safe’ and ‘I’ve got you’ through memories of being held the same way.
She ran her thumb reverently across the other woman’s cheek, now falling back into a slumber.
From Beatrice, she learned…
A/N: Hello everyone! My first time trying for Avatrice, dipping my toes into the water. Hope it goes well - this show and the ship really pulled me in by the ankles I've gotta say.
Thank you to PyroTato for beta reading!
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gofancyninjaworld · a year ago
OPM Manga 138 Review: Into the Abyss
allright allright allright... I barely know where to start with this one.  Folks I need you to go away and brew some drink of your choice, pick up a snack, and seat yourselves comfortably.  I can’t guarantee that this is going to be short!
We’re not in Kansas any more.  If it wasn’t clear earlier that the manga is taking a different route to the webcomic, I hope this is your Wake Up Call!
What happened?  In short, Man’s search for God may have a definitive conclusion.   Or not.  I’m not sure if ‘Together We’re Stronger’ was meant quite this way.   The power of nakedness will astound you.  And  when you think of terraforming, I’m sure that what’s in the chapter isn’t what comes to mind.
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The Story
1. Flipping Fights
I need to remember not to tell jokes about what might happen next in OPM; they have a better track record of coming true than the more serious analyses.  I was saying earlier that with the way Orochi has survived things that should have killed him and indeed adapted to and overcome them, I was worried that he’d flip the tables on the cyborgs.  And if so I hoped they’d be in one piece, just not welded together. 
See? I should have kept my mouth shut.  
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One moment, Drive Knight and Genos are not just burning Psykos-Orochi, but they’re cutting Orochi’s body open too.  He looks to be on the point of bursting into a million pieces, and then incredibly, the next, he’s blasting *them* instead.  The blast broke Drive Knight’s durable Bishop armor apart -- but at least he had that to take the punishment.  Genos, being trapped under Drive Knight, took the full brunt of the blast.  As they go plunging towards the ground, Psykos taunts them, saying ‘Game Over.’
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She goes to attack Tatsumaki who is still fully engaged in keeping the barrier up, but what’s this?
2.  Yeet Master TankTop
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Now we get to see why Atomic was so happy to see Tank Top Master come to battle.  He throws multiple projectiles at Psykos-Orochi, forcing them to dodge around, which Psykos starts to mock until...
...what now?
Yes, the cyborgs are back!  With Genos providing the power and Drive Knight the parts, they’ve fused to form a tactical combination known as Promoted Rook.  They stop the monster in its tracks and Tank Top Master launches his biggest missile to date, what looks to be six stories of an apartment block.  As it reaches the monster, its top is sliced apart to reveal its splendid little trio of gifts, namely Atomic Samurai,  Puri Puri Prisoner and Superalloy Darkshine.
Adversity sharpens ability and this is incredibly on display here.  Black Sperm taught Atomic Samurai the futility of a thousand little cuts when one good cut is what’s needed.  There’s a fantastic montage of Atomic adjusting his technique kinesthetically, without a single word being said to deliver one god almighty slash that cuts clean through the monster.    Puri Puri Prisoner combines what he learned from both Baquma and Meltzegards to unleash a flying barrage of blows, the Dark Vibration Angel Rush, that shatters the monster like a rat caught in a mangle.  Superalloy Darkshine uses himself as a missile to launch the mess of a monster downwards with a kick Garou would have nodded approvingly at.
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Psykos, like all good cartoon villains, bails at this point to leave her lieutenant to face the music, which isn’t long in coming as Silverfang and Bomb jump up to pound Orochi into an immobile mound of mochi not even able to squirm along the ground.  Can things get any worse for this monster?
3.  Oh yes they can!
Terraforming, but not as NASA would approve of.  Now that the monster is subdued, Tatsumaki no longer needs to expend all her energy keeping the barrier up and she makes good on her promise of ripping the Subterranean city from the earth.   OMG.
But that’s not enough.  Oh no, no mercy for miserable monsters making malevolent plans on her sister.  She sharpens the tip of the base, heats it white hot and looks set to launch it back to pass clean through of what once had been Monster King Orochi,  looking even scarier and more feral than we’d ever seen her...
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4. ...aaand cut!
We cut to what’s going on with Saitama and crew.  They’re just about done freeing Flashy Flash from whatever has his arm trapped and Flash complains of something heavy pinning his arm down.   Saitama reaches in and retrieves a cube.  A suspiciously familiar cube, being as we saw one just like that in Blast’s hands in last chapter’s flashback.  Saitama tosses the cube, which breaks into the ground as if it’s a ridiculously dense, hard substance, an impression substantiated by Manako trying and failing to budge it in the slightest.
Flashy Flash withdraws his arm to finally get his precious Instakill back... Oh.  It appears that Tatsumaki lifting the city has sheared the sword off just about the hilt.  Bummer.  Flashy Flash’s look of dismay is one for the ages, as is Saitama’s disgruntlement at having dug so carefully for this miserable knife.
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Manako sees her chance to make a break for it (smart monster, never trust a hero to not be a hero) and starts to clamber through the hole.   And beholds a sight that literally makes no sense.   None whatsoever.
The hole is full of stars.  And in the vastness of a space far more commodious than the one created by Tatsumaki lifting the base is the curled up figure of a truly gargantuan man.   Or man-like object at any rate.
Which is where we leave off. 
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Berserker buttons
It seems that many characters have a berserker button, that one thing that just should *not* be said to them or else.  For Saitama, it’s someone alluding to his baldness.  For Garou, it’s being called insignificant.  For Genos it looks like being dismissed will JUST NOT DO.  Psykos taunting him was a big mistake on her part.
The logical thing for him to do would have been to drop to the ground, stay out of the battle and save his damaged core, but when Drive Knight offered the chance to get back in the fight, logic (and survival) be damned, he grabbed the opportunity.    He knows he’s invited his own death, but the ‘heh-heh you die’ smile he gives Psykos tells you everything you need to know -- also he never smiles or quips in a fight. Until now.
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...right now, I really, really want you dead
We know that it’s incredibly unlikely that Genos will die -- unless the manga is going to a reaally different place -- but his decision to press on is going to have serious repercussions both immediate and longer-term, particularly if/when the brewing cyborg war breaks out.
Speaking of reprecussions, one of the things we’ve now learned about Drive Knight is just how little energy his core is able to store.  For him, two days’ regular operation is a long time.  His regular transformations run him out of power in minutes.  It’s a stark contrast to how Genos has no meaningful idea of range anxiety when Drive Knight has to weigh up the cost of every action carefully.   So... these promoted forms Drive Knight has available won’t be actually useable to him without a supplementary power source, and judging from how handy-dandy a mask was, a pilot.   Which Genos has obligingly provided.  I guess when Drive Knight said it was a gamble it wasn’t the technology but rather his pitch that was at stake.   What are the chances that Drive Knight isn’t going to make further plans on Genos’s head or see if he can finagle that beautiful, hyper-powerful core somehow?   No idea, but I’d not bet against him.
Btw, Drive Knight has achieved his objective of snagging a bit of Orochi.  What’s he going to do now?  We wait to see!
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All heroes are Tank Toppers
I started a meta with that title, but more and more it seems to me that every hero has some ‘thing’ that they invest emotionally in.  This thing may be the silliest thing but nevertheless it’s something they can draw power from.  We laugh at Tank Top Master because for him, it’s an item of clothing, but I just think he’s more honest about it than most.
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McGuffin of Doom
That cube... what the hell is that thing?  And more importantly for the moment, what is it doing in a mile-deep hole in what used to be the Subterranean city?  It’s making me worry about what has happened to Blast since we last heard from him two years ago.  If it had been continuously in Blast’s possession since, then it’d imply that he’d visited the city.  Why? Was he chasing one of Elder Centipede’s known whereabouts?  In which case, what has become of him?  Has he been killed?  Is he...Orochi?   I really hope not.  And if so, then I hope that the other heroes never find out.   Has Sicchi been bluffing to the rest of the Hero Association and the world that Blast is being held in reserve when the truth is no one knows what has become of him?   Worrisome.
Finally we come to the mysteriousest mystery of them all: WHAT THE HELL IS ON THE OTHER SIDE?  There does seem to be a temporal relationship between Saitama handling that cube and the appearance of space and a being where neither should be, but whether that’s the case we do not know.  Maybe it’s not important.  What matters is a) what is that thing?  b) is it alive?  c) has it noticed the pinhole of light shining on its head?  and d) is it friendly?
I wouldn’t bet on the answer to d) being yes.
Hoo hoo, we’ve known this planet was weird.  It’s about to get a lot weirder.
Sharp-eyed fans have of course been spotting some very nice Easter eggs.
First, it looks like the dream ONE sketched Genos as having many years ago has come true, albeit at a terrible price.
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Second, Volume 23′s art featured the cube sitting on what looked like the Ark of the Covenant.  What I’ve not seen anyone mention yet is that there was a time when it was captured and put in a room with other idols.  All those idols were found fallen on the ground the next day.   Oddly like the other idols shown in this picture... why? Is  it an allusion to there being a ‘true’ god of this place?  If so, what’s it got to do with the cube?
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btw, I do get a kick out of Japanese authors playing fast and loose with Western religion the way westerners play fast and loose with Eastern ones. Turnaround is fair play. :D
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zebrabaker · a year ago
Paris Stands Alone; Part 13
Part 12
This chapter’s art is...
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As always, HUGE credits to @gajer-1226​ , for her amazing art!
Marinette groaned from her spot on the couch. Mullo had come down from relaxing in the sunroom a while ago, and the trio was sprawled out on the couch, cuddling under a blanket and watching a news report on the current Mayoral elections. Monsieur D’Argencourt was running again, despite having lost so many times in a row. His opponents were a strict woman who had been on the city council for years and was very conservative, and a man who was far more liberal but had little experience. She’d need to keep an eye on things politically, things like this always led to stronger Akumas, be they the politicians themselves or angry citizens.
Right as she had begun to debate with herself whether or not she should go back to bed the whole house shook, and she heard screaming in the streets.
“Son of a bitch…let’s go.” She rolled off the couch with a heavy sigh. “What are we betting on this time?” She asked, stretching and rolling her neck gently.
“Oh! Animal!” Mullo squeaked, perking up. She and the Kwamis had invented a game of betting on what the Amoks would be, winner getting to pick what game they would play on the household game night. If there was a tie, they would do a coin toss.
“I imagine after this morning they’ll go for inanimate.” Tikki yawned. “Ready whenever you are, Marinette!”
“Spots on!” She cried, smirking when she saw a portal appear a few feet away from her, put of sight of the windows. Leaping through, she let loose a battle cry as the world sharply shifted.
The Amok was a rampaging, canine beast, with massive fangs and glowing red eyes, and a hissing, spitting cobra for a tail. It looked like a terrifying mix of a pit-bull and a Doberman pinscher. Nightmare had taken to the rooftops, opening a portal that Ladybug leaped through with a mighty cry. She flung her yoyo at a flagpole and yanked it tight, swinging towards the beast feet-first. She slammed it across the snout, making it whine and stumble. A figure dropped from another portal in the sky, this one swirling blue and white, the figure indistinguishable.
“No way!” Teacup squealed, bouncing in place.
“What is that?” Batman asked, drawing a batarang.
“That is someone we don’t see very often.” Cat Sidhe muttered.
“Who?” Wonder Woman asked, fidgeting with her lasso.
“Bunnyx, the wielder of the Rabbit Miraculous. Her Miracle is called Burrow, it allows her to transverse the timestream with ease. She only visits on important occasions, or if she needs to warn us away from something. She’s the one who sent Jade Turtle out on patrol the night he died saving that girl from the disgraced one. Let’s go say ‘hi’, everyone.” Yellow Jacket was smirking as she took off running for the edge of the building. Right as she reached the edge, she grabbed a dagger from her boot and flung it at the beast at the same time as she flung her trompo at the same flagpole Ladybug had swung from. The dagger nailed the beast (presumably an Amok) in the eye, and it howled in agony and rage. It thrashed and stomped it’s feet, which were the size of minivans. It managed to take the corner off a building, making the civilians evacuating along the sidewalks scream.
Snapping Turtle dove into action, drawing their shield in a fluid motion and shouting something lost beneath the sound of the monster’s howls. A green semi-opaque dome made of hexagons appeared, surrounding a small family and the hero in question from the rubble raining from above. The shield didn’t even flicker or waver, merely protecting the small family as Snapping Turtle scooped one of the three small children up and prepping the family to move.
Vixen, standing on the rooftop, drew her reedpipes from her belt, and slowly began to play a haunting tune. Cat Sidhe, picking up on some hidden signal, made a series of gestures with the hand that bore his ring, before uttering a word that made the Americans shudder. It was dark and dank, this feeling, like the paranoia of being out late at night with shadows looming and every sound inducing panic.
From the ring began to emerge a shadowy figure. It morphed itself slowly into a humanoid figure, dressed in all white, with features that seemed to whisper ‘not right, not human, predator!’ in the ears of all who saw it. It was the unnatural smoothness of it’s skin and features, the inverted colors, with white pupils and black irises, hair that started pure white and faded to dull purple. It seemed to be a doll, unmoving, until Cat Sidhe spoke.
“Distract the Amok for me.” He ordered, and the inhuman thing melted into a pool of shadows, before the puddle seemed to dart away towards the Amok.
“What was that?” Nightwing asked uneasily.
“That was his Grace’s secondary ability, Nyx. It creates an inverted clone of pure destruction energy. You don’t want to be around when it self-destructs, that’s for damn sure.” Roi Singe sighed. “I’ll stay back this time; I don’t want to throw you guys off.”
“Alright. I’m off. Vixen, you good?” The fox, who was still playing her pipes, which were emitting a light orange mist, nodded slowly. The mist was descending to the streets below, and Cat Sidhe went running towards the edge of the building, going into a diver’s position as he plummeted towards the street below. Barely twenty feet above the pavement, the cat hero drew his baton and extended it, slamming the end into the ground so hard that it dented the asphalt as he vaulted towards the Amok, which was now biting and snapping as Ladybug and Yellow Jacket darted around it’s head. There was another heroine, this one in blue and white with roller skates on her feet, moving too fast for anyone to properly see her.
The orange mist, which now filled the entire block, suddenly blew towards the Amok, whirling around it as if being held by a tornado. A glance at Vixen proved that her fingers were dancing over her pipes faster than ever, and Batman felt on edge. He’d never been a fan of magic.
The mist rapidly coalesced into a large, feline shape, similar to the Amok in it’s unnatural size. The feline let out a powerful yowl, and swiped with massive claws at the Amok. The Amok (Who Yellow Jacket insisted on calling ‘Fluffy) growled and pounced at the beast, only to be entangled in the wires of Ladybug and Yellow Jacket’s weapons as the illusion dissolved into mist once more.  As the wires pulled taught around the Amok, Cat Sidhe’s Nyx reappeared before the beast, darting every which way and holding it’s attention. The beast, desperate in it’s rage to attack the tiny unnatural thing in front of it, thrashed and wriggled, trying to get itself lose, and only succeeded in tightening the wires. Slowly, Cat Sidhe snuck up behind the Amok, right hand raised in front of him as if he was trying to smack a fly. Right as the Amok snapped it’s jaws closed around the clone, Cat Sidhe slammed his hand into a thin red collar around Fido’s neck. The dog let out a startled, pained yelp, and was encased in a squirming mass of dark blue bubbles, which hissed and popped as the Amok shrank. Ladybug stood, waiting, and yanked on her yoyo string, which came zipping back into her palm. It wasn’t until the mass was barely any bigger than an American football that a peacock feather appeared that she acted, gently swinging her yoyo to catch it. When she had the feather secured, she flung her yoyo high into the air, crying out a string of words that felt like pure safety.
It was after the loveliness had faded that the final bubbles faded away, revealing a small, emaciated puppy, who’s bones showed through it’s skin, and it seemed to shiver as it looked up at all the heroes surrounding it. It snarled and snapped, cowering from the heroes around it.
“Wait, that was the eight-story tall monster that just did at least half a million in property damage?” Nightwing asked, walking up behind the Court members.
“This is why Hawkmoth and Mayura are so dangerous, they turn even the most innocuous, innocent little thing into something that can kill hundreds.” Vixen explained, landing behind them lightly, as if she hadn’t just jumped ten stories.
“What will happen to the poor thing?” Wonder Woman asked, watching as the puppy shied away from Ladybug’s hand as if expecting to be hit.
“Well, Fidel already has several dogs. They naturally love her, and Yellow Jacket has been talking about setting up a sanctuary for stray dogs. This one, however, seems to have developed a liking towards her Ladyship.” Roi Singe chuckled, watching as the small dog pressed it’s head into Ladybug’s palm.
“And lord only knows that my Melody could never turn away an animal in need.” Cat Sidhe said, approaching them casually. “Thanks for staying out of the way back there, it could have been bad if someone got hurt.”
“You’re in charge here.” Batman said gruffly.
“Still, we might have an issue. I have some stuff that needs me back home, so I was thinking one of my brothers could come over and help you guys out.”
“We’ll talk about it more tomorrow, for now we all need to split before the press starts getting pushy and Vixen, Bunnyx, and I transform back.” Ladybug said, holding the small dog in her arms. The canine was cuddled up close to her, soaking in her body heat. “Ready, love?” She asked Cat Sidhe, who nodded and sent a glare at a woman with pinkish hair who was coming their way, a camera crew behind her. “Bug out!” Ladybug said, winking to the cameras and flinging her yoyo (which should not be able to go that far) at a flagpole on a nearby building. Cat Sidhe began to extend his baton, before letting it fall, vaulting off down the street.
Nadya watched as Ladybug and Cat Sidhe left the scene, and the various Court members disappeared to the rooftops. This was perfect! And yet, right as she approached, Batman drew a grappling hook from his belt, fired at a gargoyle on a nearby building, and went flying off, and Wonder Woman barely waved to the camera before flying away. At least the remaining hero, a young man dressed in black and blue, took a moment to smile and give a dramatic bow before somehow climbing a brick wall. These heroes were ruining her poor ratings! Well, she still had that Ladyblogger girl’s number…
@krispydefendorpolice​ @ficsforthestars​ @multifandomscribette​ @legendaryneckjudgestudent​ @ash-amg-blog @bee-wrecker​ @dawnwave16​ @the-supreme-ace-queen @politelyvicious​ @stonestridernerd​ @justmdj​ @stingrowl​ @damianette-is-life​ @miraculous786​ @mjisntme​ @hauntedfreakdeputyhero​ @miraculousdisapointment @lesscooltodoroki @bb-basbusa​ @isabellemasen​ @sassydepression​ @imspectralboiii​ @spicybelladonna​ @moonystars14​ @frostymoon11 @worlds-tiniest-spookiest-pastry @spartanxhunterx​ @fandoms-run-my-life​ @chocolateherringtacofan​ @imburningneon @fandomsaremylifeline​ @risingmoonyue​ @zotinha456​
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pit-and-the-pen · a year ago
Don’t Underestimate Me
Here it is! This story is becoming a spider web of ideas for me so i can promise most of the chapters are just going to get longer from here! 
so a little clarification since I have the ideas in my head and I want to make sure it’s completely clear. The OC and main character is named Skylar. When she is in the castle being “herself” she goes by Abigail. They are the same person and from Freds POV he caller her Abigail in the castle. So just wanted to clear that up because it will happen a lot as the story progresses and didn’t want anyone to be confused! 
Warnings: None 
Taglist: @they-write-once-in-a-blue-moon @magical-spit @birdie-writes @ickle-ronniekins @heart-of-tempered-steel @wand3ringr0s3 @thoseofgreatambition @things-that-start-with-f @elf-punk @bitchywhisperswizard @a-little-too-much @izzytheninja @kpopgirlbtssvt @shadowsinger11 @harrysweasleys @obsessedwithrandomthings (let me know if you want to be added! or taken off)
Word count: 2.8K
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Chapter 1: The Fine art of Bullshit. 
She let out a grunt as she got slammed into the ground for the second time in a row, knocking the wind out of her. A feeling she’s never fully gotten used to since it happens so little. 
“Come on, really? You’re not focusing!” Her brother yells at her from where he stands. 
“You could have blocked that in your sleep.” He continues goading her. Sighing, she stands up and brushes the dirt off of her palms. Cracking her neck and rolling her shoulders, she takes a deep breath and tries to focus. 
Every time she tries all she can think of is the unopened letter sitting in their kitchen. The one made from heavy parchment with the red wax seal of the royal family. 
“What if they know?” She asks again for what seemed like the thousandth time since they started practicing. 
“Then you better go down with a fight.” He responds with a laugh. 
“Mace! This isn’t funny. Do you know what they would…” 
“How could they have found out? You haven’t done anything wrong. Now stop making excuses and bow.” She huffs at how casually he can brush this off but bows anyways. The sounds of them counting seem to be far away and her body picks up the familiar hum of energy, like a snake getting ready to attack. 
This time she manages to block everything he throws at her. Colorful and powerful swirls of magic aimed just so perfectly. “Fight back!” Mace yells. “Stop blocking and fight!” His words distract her for a split second and she’s fumbling over her feet and when she goes to block the next spell, her balance is off. She stumbles and falls over her own body, something she hasn’t done in years. 
“Stop. Enough of this. Just let me read the letter.” She calls, rolling out of the embarrassing position of falling straight on her face. 
“Oh how the mighty fall.” Mace laughs. His laugh is cut off when he gets blasted off of his feet and lands on his back. 
“Cheater!” He calls after his sister as she runs into the house. 
The house isn’t anything special. Smaller than most for this area actually, but it’s home. A small part of her thinks her father kept it small to stop people from wanting to visit. Or come to fight. No one would think the best duelers in the entire kingdom would live in a house like this and that keeps them safe. More than anything it keeps Skylar safe. If someone found out that there weren't three children in this house, if someone pieced together all of it, she would be doomed. Or not be able to fight, snap her wand and tell her she could never duel again and at that point they might as well just kill her. 
She closed the screen door behind her, letting it slam harder than she normally would. Every thought on the tiny innocent letter that could ruin her life. Vaguely, she processes that Mace is now in the kitchen with her. 
With shaking fingers she rips open the seal and pulls out the letter. 
 “We hope this letter finds you well. 
On Behalf of His Royal Majesty, William Weasley, 
The presence of both Mason and Skylar Green are being requested to partake in the Tri Wizard Tournament. 
A carriage arrives to pick you up on the first of May. 
Best regards, 
Alastor Moody, Assistant to the Royal family.” 
“May first. That’s a week away.” Mace says once he finishes scanning the letter over his sister's shoulder. 
“I can't go!” She screams. Voice wavering slightly. 
“It doesn’t look like you have a choice. You don’t turn down a royal summons.” He says grabbing the letter out of her shaking fingers. 
“I’ll write back and say I have dragon poxs. Something.” She shoots back after a moment of thinking. 
“And risk them sending a doctor? Absolutely not.” 
“I’ll hide. Run away?” Mace just shakes his head. 
“Calm down. We’ll think of something. Nothing is going to happen to you. I promise.” He says and grabs her to pull her into a hug. 
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep.” She cries into his shoulder. 
The week goes by quickly, and they still did not have a plan. Not one that was rational at least. And Mace shoots her down everytime she suggests just disappearing. 
“We do not back down from a challenge” He says sternly. 
“This isn’t a challenge. This is crazy.” Was her response to that comment. 
The general feeling of dread seems to intensify as the two go to bed on the last day of April.
“Merlin, just let it turn out okay.” Skylar says to herself before she blows out the candle that night. She stays up most of the night tossing and turning. A small part of her contemplates waking up Mace but what good will that do in the long run. He’ll just say she’s overreacting again. So she tries her best to sleep and ends up falling asleep shortly after the sun rises. 
A loud knock startles her out of her sleep. Mace opens the door with a grim face. Behind him is a server-looking woman with square glasses. Her black hair is pulled back into a tight bun that gives her entire face a very pitched looked. She was wearing an emerald traveling cloak. Skylar jumps out of bed before she remembers herself. Standing next to her bed she realizes that they’ve already been caught. 
“I’d rather hoped you had come up with  a plan on your own.” The older woman sighed as she walked into the room, closing the door on Mace. She suddenly reached into her bag and pulled out a large page hat. “That’ll cover your hair enough to get you into the castle.” She pushed Skylar into her vanity chair and promptly started braiding the girls hair. Once done she pins the hat over her hair in a way that shades her face as well. 
“That’ll do.” She says in a satisfied voice. With that she walks over to the small closet and looks through it. “As will these.” Pulling out clothes she throws them to the very confused girl. The woman gives her a look and up and down and Skylar suddenly realizes she wants her to change now. 
“Girl I’ve raised more children than you can count. Change. Now.” She sighs when she notices the look on the girls face. She at least gives her the decency of turning around while she strips to her undergarments. Hiding her embarrassment, she pulls on the itchy tweed pants and the green linen shirt she had also been thrown. McGonagall gives her a stern look over and simply nods her head. 
“Pack all of the clothes you have. Leave the dresses. It looks like the princess might have some that will fit you.” With one more stern look Skylar realizes she had been given another instruction. 
“Oh..Yes..Yes ma’am.” She says as she went to grab her small suitcase and starts throwing all of the work clothes she had. That plus some of her more favorite dueling wands. 
She doesn’t miss the way her eyebrows raise when she sees them. 
“Okay.” Skylar says looking around. “That’s everything then.” 
“Perfect. Let’s go get your brother and we’ll be off.” She pulls out a pocket watch. “Better be fast. We’re already running behind.” She shoos the girl out of her room and grabs her bag before closing the door. 
“How did you know?” Skylar asked the woman when they got outside of the house. 
For the first time she sees her smile. “I’ve seen all the birth records for this area and nothing matched up.” Skylar pales at her words. The woman gives a small laugh. “Nothing to worry about by seeing them I changed them to match what everyone already assumes. Although I’m glad you can see the severity of being found.” The smile falls away. “I have been in charge of raising the royal families children but I do have other duties in the kingdom. So now my job is making sure you survive this whole ordeal.”  She looks the girl up and down and sighs. 
“Lady Minerva McGonagall.” she says, extending her hand slightly. Skylar grabs it and gives her hand a firm shake. “I do hope you have a better plan than what I saw today?” 
“My plan was just to run away but Mace says we never back down from a challenge.” Skylar responds. 
“And what a challenge this will be. Alright enough chit-chat.” 
Mace has now joined them outside. Carrying a small bag thrown over his shoulder. 
“Time to go.” McGonagall says and gestures for the two of them to climb in. After throwing their bags in the luggage carrier in the back they hop into the carriage and set off for the main city. 
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The castle has been in a flurry all morning. Getting ready for the Tri wizard tournament champions to arrive. Maids and security running around getting rooms ready and greeting everyone at arrival. 
Fred sighed heavily to himself. This is the biggest deal anyone has made of the Tri wizard tournament in over a century. Leave it to Bill to try to outdo is father. Everyone in the family knows the real reason he’s trying to make this a bigger event than it needs to be, and while he understands it, what it symbolizes is terrifying. 
He stares out of the large bay window in his room. Sunlight just started to peak over the horizon making the grounds one of his favorite shades of pink. He should have been down in the rink to start his training about an hour ago but couldn’t find the energy to be around some of the new fighters that have come in. All so loud and determined to prove themselves. Once word got around that the Green brothers were coming it became chaos. Most of them personally having lost to them, it became a matter of pride. Seeing how they trained, how serious they must take the skill and most of all, trying to learn them well enough to figure out their weak spots. Training is something typically done in private so training with the same people you compete against is out of many of their comfort levels. 
A knock on the door pulls him out of his thoughts. “Yes?” He called in response. Already knowing who it was. 
“You never showed up. Come on, everyone is waiting for you.” A voice said from the door. 
“This is so pointless, George. You see that right?” He didn’t move when he spoke. 
“Mate, I hate this as much as you do but we have to set an example right?” His twin responded. 
“Says the one who gets to keep his nose buried in books all day. Why didn’t I choose to do more schooling?” He sighed once again and went to grab his training bag from it’s hook.
“Because we share one brain cell and we have found out we can’t both use it at the same time.”  The thought makes them both laugh. George always has a way of cheering him up and vice versa. The beauty of being raised alongside someone. If one was sad then they both would suffer so they do their best to keep each other in light spirits. 
“Let's get this over with.” He says, clapping his brother on the shoulder and closing the door. 
Of course the arena was already crazy by the time he arrived. George takes his place on the sidelines , notebook in hand to write about the events of training as normal for the competition. 
He ran into what he thought was a wall, but typically walls dont yelp. Fred looks in front of him and is confused, thinking he imagined it until he looks down on the ground and sees a mess of fabric and curls. 
“Oh no.” He scrambles to give her a hand up, wrapping his own hand around her shoulder. 
“Merlin are the hallways in this castle not big enough-” The girl starts, then her eyes go round as she sees his face. She instantly pales and he fights the urge to laugh at her expression. 
“I could definitely ask someone to fix that for you.” He said with a laugh. The first thing he really notices about her are her eyes. Now that they seemed to have gone back down to their normal size. He’d call them brown but that doesn’t seem to do it justice. Standing as close to the window as they are, he can see little flecks of gold and even some blue in them. Like someone splattered paint at a chocolate brown canvas. And her hair seems isn’t exactly curly or straight but a sort of wild middle.  He’d be an idiot to say she wasn’t pretty but with how shocked she looked she just looks funny. 
“I am so sorry. Pri-” He holds up a hand cutting her off for the second time. Formal too.
“I should have watched where I was going. And you must be new around here. Fred.” He holds out his hand and he can see her freeze. “It’s polite to shake it, ya know?” 
That seems to unfreeze her and she jerks her hand out, almost robotically. He noticed how her hand felt a little too rough. 
“Are you here for the tournament?” He asked once he let her hand go. 
“Umm...no..why would I be?” She responded a little too quickly. 
“My mom sent out a bunch of personal invitations to some of the ladies in the court. And some others.” Fred says remembering the way her hands felt rough. Like she actually does something besides sit around and try on hats and gossip. 
“Ah. Yes. Something like that then.” She says with a small laugh. 
“Sorry this is just my first day in the castle and I haven’t seen anyone.” This makes him laugh. 
“So definitely your first time in the castle. So what’s your name? Since you seem to know mine, it’s only fair.” 
“S..Um Abigail.” The girl responds. “Abigail Jones.” He laughs again. 
“You sure? You don’t seem so sure.” He giddies her. 
She nods. “Absolutely sure.” 
“Glad we could get that established.” She can’t help but give a small laugh at his tone. 
She has the kind of laugh that seemed like it belonged in one of his meetings. It was a deep belly laugh, even if it was just a little one. He made the decision right then and there to make her laugh more. 
A clink of heels echo through the hallway. 
“Oh there you are!” A familiar voice calls from down the hall. Fred’s head immediately snaps up. Used to people constantly looking for him. 
“Minnie!” He calls when he sees the woman standing in front of him. 
“Minnie?” the girl next to him whispers with a small giggle. 
“I have been looking for you everywhere!” McGonagall comes stomping down the hallway with a certain fury in her eyes that makes Fred feel like he just pulled one of his first pranks all over again. She completely blows past him and grabs Abigail's wrist. 
“Fred. Trouble as always I see” Minerva says with a slight smile. “You. Now.” She pulls the girls arm and starts heading the way she came. 
“Well it was nice meeting you!” Fred calls at the retreating girl. 
“Same to you.” She flashes him one of the biggest smiles he’s seen in a long 
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“Now if i have to explain the simple rules of a duel to you one more time. I will hex you into the next century.” Mace screams into Krum’s face. A hand is suddenly on his shoulder. 
“I got this.” A voice deeper than what he’s used to saying in his ear. That one was his idea actually.  A spell to make her voice deeper to actually pass off as who she’s trying to. Forces her from being mute, especially when you have to count during duels. 
“Krum. You and me. Now.” Skylar shouts across the pitch. 
His chest actually seems to puff up more as he walks into the dueling area. 
The two face each other and bow. Through their masks, Skylar never takes her eyes off of the man. 
“One. Two. Thr-” Before the last syllable is even out of his mouth, he gets blasted onto his back. 
“Now next time, you’ll figure out that we have those rules to be fair. If that’s the only way you can beat someone. Do better.” Skylar calls to him before spinning on her heel and turning away. 
Fred just stares in awe as he walks away. Krum is one of the biggest douches there is and if he’s going to be the one to constantly put him in his place, then maybe this tournament is worth it after all.
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notcallingyoualiar · a year ago
Clothing Is Custom, No Labels: Part Three
“No matches on prints, DNA, dental. Clothing is custom, no labels. Nothing in his pockets but knives and lint. No name, no other alias.”
Summary: You’re one of the last bespoke tailors in town, making suits and custom clothing for Gotham’s elite. Business men and women, well known lawyers, the Wayne family, and... the Joker?
Genre: Self-insert
Pairing: Ledger!Joker x fem reader 
Warnings: Tension, adult language  
Word count: 3,020
Author’s Note: Hey, everybody! I Hope you like part three 💜 I’m excited about this one! Here comes J 
Musical Inspiration: Feeling Good by Muse 
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                               - Part Three -
You ran to the bathroom at the back of the shop and fell to your knees in front of the toilet. Your insides churned but nothing came up, leaving you gasping as a cold sweat covered your forehead. Breathe. Just breathe. The shockwave from the rush of adrenaline that ran through your body stilled, leaving you a trembling mess on the bathroom floor. What the fuck just happened?
Your mind couldn’t make any sense of it. A flurry of anxiety, fear, and repulsion swirled with some hidden attraction creeping up from the depths of your subconscious, making you that much dizzier. You couldn’t seem to handle that man’s mere presence. He forced you into this corner of your mind where you lost control. Your body seemed to act on its own. Impulses free to run wild. You didn’t like it… But you didn’t dislike it.
Your body slowly calmed, the stillness that surrounded you making itself known. Your thoughts gave way to a tremendous curiosity. Was that story true? How he got those scars? He spoke it with veiled sincerity, nothing about it felt right. It made you feel like some loose end needed tying. Despite the anxiety simply being in the same room with him gave you, you wanted to know more. More about him.
Then reality came crashing down. Three days. You only had three days for the suit. Usually you set the deadline, but not this time. Forty hours of work in three days.
Sitting on the bathroom floor, you processed the situation you now found yourself in and a jolt of impetus suddenly brought you to your feet. What would he do if you were late? He didn’t even say he was expecting anything to be done but wasn’t it implied? Your heart sped up once again and there was this feeling in your gut that you should be afraid. But it wasn’t just fear of him that motivated you. That magnetism of his… that attraction.
You shook your head in an attempt to clear those thoughts from your mind. That was a dangerous trap to fall into. A man like him, he had to know the affect he had on people. And if he knew it, he could use it.
From the bathroom you rushed to the front to lock the door. But first you stopped at the window to peer out into the darkness. The street reflected the eerie calm of the midnight hour. There was no movement outside, but that looming presence of night, that threat of what could be out there in the dark, sent a powerful shiver down your spine before promptly turning the lock and pulling the curtains closed.
You grabbed the books of fabric from the table and hurriedly pulled the stocks from the storage room. After dropping the bulky rolls of fabric on the work bench, you stopped and stared at them. You never discussed any details. Style, buttons, fit, nothing. Maybe he did that on purpose. To leave you scrambling to guess what he wants.
There was nothing you could do about it now. You had to figure it out on your own. It had to be unique, one of a kind. Why else would he come here and not any old clothing shop?
You grabbed your sketch paper and pencils and sat down at your desk, scribbling out designs late into the night.
Your eyes opened when a soft noise roused you from your sleep. You were leaned over onto your desk, a small spot of drool collecting on the sketch paper beneath your cheek. Yawning, you sat up to stretch and rub your face. You blinked your eyes before looking to see that the mail had been dropped through the slot in the door. Wait, what time is it? 12:47.
What?? You cursed yourself for falling asleep at your desk. Now you had even less time to work. You scrambled to hurry to the front door but stopped as you began to reach for the lock. Joker paid you more than enough to stay closed for a couple of days. Sure you might miss out on some business but you never really cared about your typical patrons anyway.
You dropped your hand and left the door locked. The curtains remained drawn as well as you went back to your desk, stretching before sitting down. There were so many sketches, many of which you had no memory of doing. There wasn’t one that had all of the elements you were looking for together but a few were close.
The Joker. There was a darkness to that name and that face. It brought visions of playing cards, smoky underground gambling dens, rusty circus equipment and dark alleys to your mind. It embodied the ironic glee that came with popping a bunch of colorful balloons, splashing paint on a priceless work of art, when a car crash is happening before your eyes but you can’t look away, the urge to jump when you’re near a high ledge. That impulse to take something good or something ordinary and to twist it around into something else, something more exciting.
You lined up all of the various drawings of coats, jackets, vests, and pants next to each other on the table top. It had to have a classic look, but not too classic. Somewhere between English and American fit. Eyeing the pieces of paper in front of you, you began to choose them. Those pants, that shirt, that vest. The jacket and coat didn’t seem quite right. You slid two sketches forward and altered a few things. Change that pocket, sharpen the angle on the lapel, lengthen the coat. That’s it.
Quickly grabbing the watercolor set from inside the drawer, you put your brush to the sketches, bringing them to life. The royal purple for the coat, blueish grey jacket, green vest. They tied it all together with the hexagon patterned shirt and pinstriped pants. Your heart pounded as you drew up the final sketch, the complete suit. You felt bizarrely sure about this. It seemed to come together too fast. But it felt right, it had to be right.
Fueled by coffee and pastries from the bakery down the block, you got to work. The next couple of days were a blur of purple and green, sore fingertips, and measuring tape. Slowly, the shell of the suit began to take shape. The mannequin in front of you served as a surrogate for the man with the scars and as each layer was added, it felt like more and more like he was standing in the room with you.
It seemed as though you should be frightened by your own creation. It had this presence, this air of menace, despite the bright colors and stylish patterns. Even with the addition of green argyle suspenders. The panels of fabric for the jacket and coat were held together by white basting thread so that it could be easily altered. You had arranged the suit on the mannequin in order from shirt to vest, to jacket, to coat over top, pants neatly folded on the stand. You chose a tie with various shades of green in an ornate zigzag pattern that you knotted around the stand’s neck and stood back.
Now you couldn’t stop looking at it. Was the fit going to be right? Was it too showy? He gave you so little to work with, is it even what he wants? Why did you care so much?
You had to leave the shop or you’d keep staring, second guessing, taking an inch out here, take one in there. You had to sleep. After leaving from the side door, you headed down the block toward you apartment.
It was a cloudy day, the grey sky heavy with moisture threatening to drop down over the city. But it was still light out, there was no way you were leaving after dark. You had slept in the shop for the past two nights as you worked on the suit, only one night on purpose, and it was certainly showing by now. It felt was though your eyes were almost as dark-rimmed as Joker’s painted ones.
Silly thoughts like that kept your mind wandering so you weren’t watching where you were going. Suddenly, you ran head on into what felt like a brick wall wearing a leather jacket. It was the bald-headed man you now had the unfortunate luck to see for the third time.
“Ya need to watch where you’re goin’, lady,” he grumbled.
Your fatigue getting the better of you, you bit back, “Well maybe you shouldn’t stand in the middle of the sidewalk.”
His jaw tensed as he stared down at you, balling up his fist like he was trying to control himself. You were on thin ice. “Tomorrow night, eleven o’clock,” he said through his teeth.
Before you could respond, he stiffly turned and got in a black car parked next to the sidewalk, revving the exhaust in your face as he sped down the street. What a nice guy.
Tomorrow at eleven. You were going to see Joker again. The stirring in your gut was difficult to ignore. Anxious was the word for it. Anxiety about how you’d react, how he’d react. The inevitable tension in the air. It was too much for you now. You didn’t have the energy to worry about it as you flopped onto your bed, not to move again until after sunrise.
By morning, your anxiety was back with a vengeance. Simple tasks like putting on your shoes or unlocking the door were suddenly difficult. Your hands just tingled, not obeying a single command you gave them as you dropped nearly everything you picked up. Your queasy belly made eating completely unappealing but you managed to swallow down some nutrition.
All day you resisted the temptation to throw the suit away as you stared at it. Just yesterday it seemed so right but today, so wrong. Minor details bugged you, itching at your fingers to scrap the whole thing and start over. Too late now. It was the shortest amount of time you’d ever completed a basted fitting. What you would even change about it, you didn’t know.
The hours ticked by, waves of unease washing over you until you almost couldn’t stand it. Then suddenly it was time. 10:57. Your heart pounded as you sat at the front desk, wide eyes staring at the front door. The silence that surrounded you was overtaken by the sound of blood rushing in your ears, trying so hard to listen for any sound that you could hear nothing at all until the door opened.
A gasp swept through your lips when he appeared, green hair, ghastly face. He said nothing, he only stood there for a moment, letting the door swing shut behind him before taking slow steps forward with his eyes on you. It didn’t even feel like your heart was beating anymore, your body went numb.
He stopped in front of the desk, the piece of furniture being the only thing separating you, and his mouth stretched into a toothy grin.
“Miss me, Y/N?” he asked.
Your mouth opened but no sound came out as he raised his eyebrows, waiting for your answer. Finally, you found your voice and said quietly, “Um, uh, yeah. I did.”
Your face flushed bright red, mortified by what came out of your mouth as the real answer screamed out in your mind. Oh, you mean like I couldn’t stop thinking about you not matter how hard I tried and I lost sleep hoping that you like the suit and that you won’t kill me?
He responded with a cackling laugh, bending forward at the waist a bit with the force of it and making you jump.
“Goood. That’s good, doll,” he chuckled, after straightening back up. “I’m just, uh, de-lighted to see what you’ve come up with.”
He called you doll again. Your red face continued to burn hot as you could only muster a nod. Fuck, this is it.
You stood and stiffly walked over to the fitting area, Joker keeping close behind you as goosebumps crawled down your back. You couldn’t bring yourself to turn around and look at him as you gipped the curtain that hid the mannequin from view. So badly you wanted to run away, not have to deal with any of this. Before you could act on that wish, you forced yourself to pull back the curtain.
You kept your eyes on your hand still gripping the curtain, trying as hard as you could to take steady, even breaths. Until you saw him out of the corner of your eye and you couldn’t help but twitch your gaze over to him. He had stepped forward to stand in front of the suit. He studied it with an intense look in his half-lidded eyes, his lips parted as he reached out to lift the sleeve of the coat dangling from the figure. You could swear he was breathing faster. He hates it he hates it he hates it he hates it.
“Youuu,” he rumbled in a deep voice, still keeping his gaze on the suit. “You have outdone your-self.”
Your brow shot up and you held your breath for a moment as your heart jumped into your throat.
“What?” you squeaked.
“I sai-d, you’ve out-done yourself,” he answered, shifting his gaze back to you.
You froze, unable to look away from him. His eyes were glazed over, almost dream-like, as he stared at you. It felt like he was trying to look inside your head, read your thoughts like a book.
Eyes still stuck on his, you finally said, “You… you like it?”
He said nothing and suddenly broke his gaze to slide his blazer off of his shoulders. Letting it fall to the floor with a surprising metallic clunk, he started to unbutton his shirt in the mirror.
Your breath hitched and you quickly spun around when he untucked his shirt and unbuttoned his pants, your cheeks burning hot. He’s putting it on right now??
You swallowed thickly and cleared your throat before saying quietly, “Um, there are dressing rooms behind the curtain.”
He chuckled and answered from behind you, “No, uh, need for all of that, doll.”
“O-ok,” you answered, standing there stiffly and looking up at the ceiling as you blew out a deep breath. Don’t turn around. Don’t do it.
“Hold this,” he said, prompting you to betray your sensibilities and swiftly turn as he tossed the rest of the garments into your arms. He had pulled on the pinstriped pants and now wore nothing else. He stood there, barefoot and shirtless, unbuttoning the shirt on the mannequin.
You eyes went wide as you stared at his bare torso. His face wasn’t the only part of him that had been permanently marked. Scars of various sizes were scattered across his back and chest, a particularly large and brutal looking one beneath his left shoulder. You had an idea of how he was built since you took his measurements, but seeing his lean muscled form in front of you was jarring. Especially how your body reacted to it. Your heart thumped faster and you felt a rush of quivering in your core. No, no, no, stop that!
“Like what you see, hm?” he asked casually with a grin as he pulled the shirt off of the mannequin to swing it over his shoulders.
Heat rapidly rose from your neck and into your face. He knows. Without thinking, you jerked your head to the side and stared at the floor, unable to speak.
He giggled and said, “So modest. I told ya, I’m no gonna bite.”
You turned your head back to find yourself suddenly face to face with him, noses only inches apart. His breath warmed your face and sent a shiver down to your toes as a your cheeks prickled. You huffed back at him, overwhelmed by his closeness as his tongue flicked out of his mouth. You didn’t know whether you wanted to move backward or forward, remaining stuck in between the push and pull of fear and anticipation.
“Relaaax, doll,” he purred at you, leaning even closer as he spoke.
Then he backed away, leaving you feeling as though you’d just been doused with a bucket of cold water, catching your breath. There was that feeling again. Like you’d gotten to close to some dangerous force and it drained your resolve right out of you. It was exhausting to fight it.
He proceeded to button the shirt and tucked it in before stretching the suspenders up onto his shoulders. You remained silent, hypnotized, watching him and the peculiar way he moved. Going through the motions of putting on each piece like he’d worn it before, smirking as he expertly knotted the tie around his neck before putting on the vest.
Your hands nearly acted on their own as you held the jacket open for him to slip his arms in the sleeves, like you did with every customer. But this was different.
This felt… significant. As though something was about to change. Something big.
Then the coat. He pulled it onto his shoulders and stared straight ahead at the mirror. His expression was indecipherable as he stood frozen, unblinking, before running his tongue along his lower lip. He stared himself down, inspecting the details. The buttons on the sleeves, where the vest came together down his chest, how the coat reached all the way down to his calf.
You took cautious steps to stand beside him, unable to take your eyes off of his reflection. You’d never seen a simple suit come to life in such a way before. Like it completed him and he completed it. He looked utterly formidable, an impending force with the world just waiting to be at his mercy.
His dark eyes shifted over to you and you slowly lifted your gaze to meet his as a devilish smile pulled at his scarred cheeks. 
              - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
More to come! J isn’t done with you yet. 
@amethystmoonprincess​ @call-me-harley-quinn​ @liz-rdwitch​ @germansarechill​ @thesadvampire​ @tsukiakarinobara​ @heavymetalnarwhal​ @neverputsaltinyoureyes​ @apocalypticwafflekitten​
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tarotnoob · a year ago
No Contact - How Can I Heal? Pick a Card
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Hi, all. I did this two days ago. Don’t judge me for having leftover phones. I’ve had even more and sold them off, plus I’m old. Instead of the usual “No Contact” I’ve seen on YouTube where it feels a bit creepy, like stalking an ex or someone who’s blocked you, this is a (healthier) “No Contact” reading for those of you who have experienced a profound loss through a death or a traumatic separation and you are still grieving the situation or require closure to heal. So, if you haven’t experienced that sort of loss (of family, partner, friend, etc), then this reading might be more particular to others.
I’ve had a couple of experiences where I needed some type of closure to move on, so apply these as healing messages. I asked advice from my higher self, your higher self and the person involved’s higher self, and these are the results. If you’re ready to hear such a message, please take a moment to pick a pile or phone or number. If it doesn’t resonate, you might pick another pile or maybe there is no message for you here (but for someone else, instead).
Take care.
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Pile 1: This is the phone I had when I went to grad school in England, so you may be a person who enjoys traveling or other cultures, or maybe you were drawn to the "Amsterdam" on the phone. So, more travel and culture as Amsterdam is a city with a lot of fantastic art museums, beautiful architecture, canals. I won't say Amsterdam is particularly "traditional" since it makes me think of the red-light district and weed, lol, but there is traditional in the sense of art and architecture appreciation. It's not ABSTRACT art I think of, but more traditional, renaissance, biblical art even. But that's probably because I already knew the Hierophant was in this pile. It's still interesting what draws us to an object. Plus as a phone that slides open, it's a bit old and simple (conservative). 
Intuitively I want to go through what the message feels like before I talk about who this person might be. First, we have the four of pentacles (holding on), Hierophant (family, tradition, religion, spirituality, institutions), and ace of pentacles (new beginnings regarding material aspects: new job, new relationship, new home, new opportunity (money). But, just looking at the images it's a rather simple message? There are four of these coins in your hands and then there's this divine messenger and then you see the hand planting a coin. So, whether you realize it or not, it feels like you're being guided to (not hold on) to something you already have and then to plant it elsewhere in order to make it grow. This could be you, your family... it could even (though there's no ace of cups or empress) be like... if someone has passed and you want to have children, like, this person helping you to get pregnant. But that's just an example, I feel like no matter the situation, you have this choice to grow something new, maybe more of what you have or by sharing something you already have. Or you could already see it taking place. Maybe you already started (planting) something new, new roots, and have seen results. Especially since Hierophant can also be about family.
Before we really get into it, though, let's go back to the back of the deck energy.  I think I forgot to check it out on the main deck, but clarifying, there's 7 of wands (defensive, going to higher ground), Temperance (healing, balance), and Tower. Maybe a Tower situation happened and you're still in the process of (spiritually) healing yourself, and it's also left you a bit on your guard.
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So, after reading World Within Worlds, the whole description looks like the cards in that, when you want to know what to do, rather than look to others for answers, you're being guided to look within yourself. That's not to say you can't ask your higher self or ancestors or whatever being or deity you believe in, as I do get the sense that the Hierophant is a spiritual adviser here, but also that you have that power of the Hierophant within yourself, as well. Choices, I'm not going not going to go into the full description, but I think it reinforces the other oracle in that you have the power to change your life or make decisions and you don't need anyone else's advice. 
So, yeah. You have a divine power within yourself to plant a seed (ace of pentacles) and grow it into something more (four of pentacles). Or, reverse, too. You already have a lot of potential (four of pentacles), and through your own divine abilities and the help of whatever spiritual beings watching over you, you can grow something new. If you've lost a family member, they might be sending you a message that you have really great powers of manifestation, so once you actually make the decision (Choices) to act, you will see results rather quickly and actually more than what you expected. If you go from planting one and getting four, that's... pretty dang great.
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Chop wood is interesting because it talks about "simplifying", which reminds me of the "traditional/conservative" route and simplicity of this phone. Also we could look at the way you have four pentacles and it's simplified to one.  Chop Wood is about "being grounded in everyday experiences, humility. This makes me think of the root chakra. I took a screenshot, so I'll just include it because - I am not a very simple person, and this does give off earth vibes. All three of the tarot are earth, with Taurus energy specifically. 
See, this is what happens when you look at all the cards and then interpret because they all seem to be about simplification. Being conservative, not politically or anything, but... spiritually. To heal from your situationship, it seems like the advice you're being given is to stop thinking on a big, chaotic scale and focus on what's simple for now. But it is interesting that you can read the cards right to left or left to right because if you do hold back on the goal, you become more open to receptivity - which means you're more likely to manifest what you want anyway. Maybe you're someone who needs to control a situation, but I get the sense you just need to ease back here. And if you're like wtf i have 3423434 fire elements, well the advice is to calm that sh*t down and take more of an earth-sign approach even if you have none in your chart. 
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Let's take a lookat the clarifiers because besides possibly the Hierophant being someone who's passed over into the spirit world in order to help guide you, I guess it's possible YOU'RE the person who might have caused a rift in the relationship of someone that no longer wants to be in contact with you, perhaps because you were always pushing or looking forward or had all these big dreams or ideas and maybe the other person felt kind of suffocated by all that, and that's why you're being guided to slow down and keep it simple. Maybe you were a bit clingy or codependent, or maybe you (or they) wanted to rush or get married or want a commitment, but it was too fast for the other person (or you). It could be that you need to humble yourself and allow others their own choices and not smother whatever inner divine powers that bloom inside a partner. 
It's funny because when you look at the images it's like you're shoving four coins at the priest who's like "no" or "slow down" or "not all at once" and instead there's just one seed being planted, so take that however it resonates because if you picked this pile you probably know exactly what this all means. And if you are more of the (victim?) of a situationship, this could be talking about a partner or family member or loved one who suffocated you in some way and you might've had to start over by moving to another place or ending that relationship so that you could start something new, that's a lot healthier. I do get a message here about simplifying, humility, careful/conservative choices, and our inner power.
Clarification real quick: Four of pentacles clarified by 10 of wands reversed and six of cups. This makes me feel like holding onto something that happened in the past, something that's still burdening you and keeping you from moving on. This is something that you are able to let go of, six of cups may mean that it particularly has to do with family or siblings, childhood issues. Hierophant is clarified by five of swords, both are fives which is change/balance. But five of swords is a kind of ugly conflict, usually amongst others, but it could be for defense purposes, like you felt attacked by this person in the past (again it's giving family vibes) so you had to get your claws out. It could be a situation where a family member was religious and overprotective and it's been affecting you since childhood and that wound is still there. Ace of pentacles, we have eight of swords, which is actually, like, coming out of a really heavy sense of anxiety or self-imposed mental chaos and next to that is 3 of pentacles, which is usually teamwork or collaboration, but it can mean alignment 
In that respect, it could help to do some inner child work or meditations (available on youtube), but it seems to me that there's relief in the future with that 8 of swords reversed and 3 of pentacles...  so whoever this person was, once you left them or (they left you), you're able to start over and that's when you're really going to flourish and heal. It may be that you'll have to do that healing through your own inner strength and taking it one step at a time. I keep getting the message of "keep it simple." Maybe you've been through so much already that it's been overwhelming so part of the healing process is to go one day at a time and don't overwhelm yourself. Maybe you needed to hear that this is okay to do, that you don't have to rush to get better or feel a certain way or recover, you can go as slow as you need to because it's your choice. They really want you to know that you DO have power. You are not helpless. You can make your own decisions and choices, no one else needs to make them for you. This is what everyone's higher self is wanting for you. All the best.
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Pile 2: You're actually the pile I'm writing up last, since I did 3 first and 1, and then this... and yours is the one that definitely screams to me of a larger possibility of a toxic relationship situation. This can be a friend, partner, family member... but I'll talk as if it was a romantic relationship or at least a sexual one because we have the Devil. The Devil can also be about temptation or bad habits, addictions. And just looking at the cards, I get that sense of codependent relationship, of drinking or drugs of a sort of make up and break up situation that kept going on and on over and over. Because we have so many "circles" here as images, the two of pentacles, the wheel, "never ending story" (I think back of the deck of that oracle was also round and round) and even the emotions oracle has that same imagery as two of pentacles, so it really feels like a situation in which maybe you got fed up about this person but always went back to them and then it all just repeated. You could be the (victim) or the instigator or maybe it was an equal blame situation. Water and earth make a great elemental combination but 5 of cups is grief/despair/disappointment and then the Devil so it's almost like an addiction to the chaos, a sexual attraction to this person or situation that wasn't so good for you. Usually the Wheel of Fortune would be about good luck, but in this case I think it's more about it being a wheel and going around and around again and also this "expansion" feeling of this being so hugely chaotic and dramatic. Never ending story - as I recall - is a lot about constantly drawing in drama and obviously it sounds like it just keeps repeating. 
Emotions is probably your advice card, if you're suppressing or retaining emotions from a past negative experience, it's okay to go ahead and release those (in a safe and positive way), to sit with them, but to not lash out at anyone or yourself. Put them to creative use if that's possible, direct them in a more positive way, but definitely let them out so that you don't blow up.
With two of pentacles reversed here, there's not only this feeling of a negative cycle but some severe imbalances....  with the wheel here, though, it's possible it was a karmic relationship, and from it, you are going to need to learn a lesson, and that lesson seems to be to learn to love yourself before your next relationship and to sift through your emotions.
If you're someone who only feels safe in chaos due to a previous trauma... that's a coping mechanism. I dated someone like that who couldn't handle when things were stable so he had to sabotage... and not only does that hurt you but that hurts the partner, and if they were in the same place as you, then I hope they can also find peace. And if you need help in dealing with these emotions or trauma, then definitely reach out to a professional so that you don't continue having a cycle of negative/codependent relationships. I've got two 10s here, which means 1, so this is about the self mostly. Two can be about balance or partnerships, five is change and balance...  there's a three which is about self-expression, six is about harmony, so you could be a person who overlooks their own needs to help someone else (and that can definitely attract toxic people, narcissists, manipulators). Or, that could be you.
But besides dealing with negative emotions in a healthy way, there's a need to call out that this is a cycle (probably with relationships) that will keep continuing until the root of the matter is dealt with.
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Quickly going through clarifications, too - back of deck for the cosmic oracle and the first tarot deck, one was surrender and the other hanged man, which is also about surrender, but behind that was queen of cups (emotional stability), temperance (balance/healing), and four of cups was fourth back (not receiving the message).
So, I do wonder if you're still in a place where this hasn't been dealt with...  five of cups is clarified by death, so there was definitely an end to a situation that was causing grief, but as the pluto card, this also makes me again think of ... sex. Sorry. It really does, there's a lot of... sexual energy, like sex addiction, but narcissists can really use sex as a means to control people, so even if this person was toxic you may have really still felt a sexual compatibility with them (and ... that's normal, I'm not judging, I'm just saying). And I feel like this attraction to this person made it hard for you to think clearly (page of swords reversed is on the devil). It could be, too, that this person might not have been honest with you. Wheel of Fortune clarified by strength reverse, so again there is this sense of being unable to tame or control (this beast), and two of pentacles is clarified by three of cups, which I'm not sure if that was reversed or upright when it came out but I left it upright, so this could be that you have a toxic, codependent friendship or you had friends that were trying to convince you this was bad or you keep attracting toxic relationships to yourself and wonder why... and it just keeps repeating over and over...  three of cups can also be about joy or celebration so it could be a high that you feel from chaos... so forth... only take what resonates... it doesn't have to be a sexual relationship (you could have a nasty friend who's a capricorn, heh). Sag is here, too, though. And Scorpio. And Leo. But anyway back of deck for clarifying is three of wands (progress, planning for future, journey start, travel), behind that is Justice (balance, legal stuff), behind that was Lovers (soulmate, relationships), behind that is Moon...  so as advice, I feel like progress can be made in achieving balance or, if it's SEVERE, moving forward with legal protection, but I think it's mostly talking about there's always been issues of balance in relationships and moon behind all of that gives some uncertainty, fear, confusion...  so really the best first step was to go into no contact with this person and get yourself some space and away from them. And to really reflect on the relationships that you're attracted to or attract. It's not necessarily your fault at all. If you're an empath, you may attract people who want to take advantage of your sensitivity or empathy or good nature and then you get caught up in their mind games. Or you find some stability in feeling needed. I definitely relate to this pile and it's a long journey in recovering and it requires having some alone time to figure out why we attract these people and what needs to change and becoming more discerning about the people we allow into our space and energy, including friends. You might need to clear out your friend list... but just be aware that this is a cycle and... for it to end, you'll have to put effort in regardless of whether you were the victim of someone else's issues. That's, sadly, how it works.
And if your situation isn't as dark as all that sounds, just take it as a lighter version and be careful of codependent relationships of any kind and their effects on you.
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Pile 3: Orange L-G flip phone. This might be my first or second cell phone I ever had, and I really liked it and still appreciate a flip phone, lol. I feel a bit sentimental about it. You also could be drawn to it because you have a blocked or overactive sacral chakra. This chakra can be blocked because of fear, especially a fear of death. Opening this chakra can boost creativity, manifested desire, and confidence. It also has to do with sensuality, sexuality, intimacy, etc... Just as an fyi.
I don't usually go on feelings or emotions when I read, but doing all of these spreads for each pile had a heavy feeling. That makes sense, but for pile 3, I especially sense a lot of grief. I don't necessarily feel this "no contact" situation has to do with a toxic relationship or friendship. This might be more a pile of having lost someone through a physical death, but we'll walk through all of the cards. It's that a lot of the oracles point to the spirit world, but there is the Emperor reversed we need to look at, as Emperor reversed can have an abusive personality, but I still don't think it's that sort of situation. 
Let's do tarot first. King of Cups can be a personality characteristic, you, another person. If it's someone else, it could be that you've lost an older male figure in your life, a father or grandfather, uncle, or older guardian, etc... If it's a reflection of yourself, it will have to do with your emotional state and one you've felt for quite a while, it is also a very strong feeling. Usually the King upright is about emotional stability, fair-mindedness, compassion. In that sense, the person who you're no longer in contact with may have held all of these qualities. This card is clarified by Death in reverse. In this deck, she's covering her heart, so in this situation, I feel that you are genuinely grief stricken, heart-broken. Over the passing or loss of this individual in your life and that Death is reversed, you've really struggled to be able to move on. When we talked about the sacral chakra, this passing might have also caused you to be fixated on death, fear it, spend a lot of time mulling over the loss of this person to the point that you're stuck in the grieving process. The thing about Death is it's a Scorpio card, the King is also about (water) emotions, so there's a lot of deep feeling here that's preventing a cycle from moving forward and transforming. It's possible you're unsure if this person has moved on (if they're still alive) or if they've passed, if they're around you at times or if they've gone to Heaven or whatever afterlife you believe in. With the oracles... free spirit and Mother Earth, Observer, Message in a Bottle - the names alone, there's a sense that they're around, they're watching, they have messages for you, they're free and happy, and want you to move forward.
Queen of Wands can be that you've lost both parents or grandparents, if that's so then they're coming through together to let you know they're okay. That it's clarified by two of pentacles gives me the feeling that these two are coming in as a pair. Queen of Wands is a very fiery, creative (feminine) energy. Two of pentacles is about balancing, juggling a couple of things at once. So it's possible you lost two people and are dealing with the trauma of juggling two losses. It could also be that this situation has made it difficult for you to juggle other things in your life, work or projects, maybe it's blocked your creative abilities or passion. I should also note that there are A LOT of fours here. Four is balance, good foundation. Organization. Home-life. 
Empress is about birth, creation (in terms of life or creativity), nature, love, feminine energy, Taurus/Libra. This could be mother or grandmother energy coming in or you are a creative person, but again aren't feeling as active with that type of energy as you used to be. I want to say that the Empress is this feeling of love coming in to comfort you because the way Judgment reversed is wrapped up like a cocoon and clarifies this card gives me the sense of this person wanting to hug you and keep you warm, but for you - Judgment reversed is about being hypercritical of yourself (or others), refusing to make terms with past happenings, feeling stuck in the past and unable to move forward (like Death reversed). It's like you've really shut yourself away from the world. The emperor reversed, which if a person can be controlling, etc... but this feels more like it's about a lack of action, which ties into the other major arcana cards here. And going back to queen of wands and two of pentacles, as well... it's like there's an energy that wants to push you out of your comfort zone and get you going again, because though there's a lack of... action or organization or drive with the Emperor reversed, it's clarified by the 7 of cups reversed, which is about coming out of a foggy haze, making decisions again. I feel like this is the message that they want to convey to you. They don't want you to live your life stuck and grief-stricken. There is a lot of love from this person(s) here and they want you to emerge from your cocoon and move forward, make decisions again, get yourself back on track.
Back of deck for the first deck was Moon reversed, which is a release of fear/grief, so similar to seven of cups reversed. We also have the world as BoD for the clarifying deck, which is an end/conclusion to a cycle.  So, they'd really like to see you move on, to stop allowing grief or despair to keep you stuck and unable to move forward and make important decisions in your life. I'm seeing Six of Swords toward the back, a King of Pentacles (manifestation and the card looks like a shadow). So maybe you've seen shadows lately... maybe you've seen these people in dreams. If you have, make sure to listen to whatever they tell you.
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As for oracles, I'll try to go through briefly and summarize: Free Spirit is back of deck: (actually it's easier for me to take photos so you can read in depth and not miss any messages they have for you). But mother earth seems to fit with the empress and free spirit feels like queen of wands message to PROVIDE balance and share your creative gifts w/ the world. 
Message in a bottle is a message that's meant to point you toward your highest good, which makes sense as I asked everyone's higher selves for advice.
"Spirit sends you signs when you ask for them, when you believe you will receive them and when you allow yourself to become fluent in the language of symbols, oracles, and omens." If you're having trouble knowing what to do next, it's very possible you're already seeing signs of where to go - through dreams or objects. My mom likes to say when she finds pennies, it's her mom sending them. My other friend sees cardinal (birds) and believes them to be a sign from her mom. It could be numbers, etc... 
Observer: This is about having objectivity. There's a sense of being so in your own feelings that you can lack perspective. So, you need to gain some distance from the situation. This reminds me of the two of pentacles, because the card talks about feelings getting all jumbled up and so you hear one thing a person says even if they mean something else. This is really about... work, but I think it can really apply if you're feeling stuck emotionally to consider what you might tell a friend in a similar situation or state of mind... and then tell yourself. Create a sort of mental distance from what YOU feel and then practice telling yourself what you'd tell a grieving friend who needs help, or also remember that if there are other people grieving this loss to not overlook their feelings, too. I think having the "fork in the road" as BoD for the oracle gives a sense that you're at a certain point where you just need to make a decision, preferably to push forward and if you don't know HOW to do that, just take the advice you'd give someone else in a similar situation. 
And with free spirit and mother earth next to each other, I feel like you might receive messages when you're outside, through nature or animals even.
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insxparablxduo · 8 months ago
Drabble based on my fantasy au. It’s ok if u don’t read as y’know its an au and not cannon but yeah I had fun with this one.
Oh, this was annoying as fuck. 
At first fighting a dancer and a soldier class seemed easy. Almost stupidly so. Surely they were left behind to die here by them or any other group brave enough to challenge him. Right? Wrong. 
If it was true they'd have killed the twins by now. Maybe they shouldn't have underestimated them so much. The truth of the matter was they were left in charge of this keep under direct commands from their 'master'. They were part of the cause for so many peoples suffering, and they had done it willingly? They weren't even the first 'boss' they've fought, so clearly they were a lot stronger than what meets the eye, and they were learning that lesson now. 
Dancers are known to be fairly weak and incredibly vulnerable to attacks, especially since they wore little to no armor. Their attacks weren't all that powerful either as they weren't particularly strong nor did most really even know what to do with weapons other than to block or even parry. The only difficult thing about them was they were hard to hit, but would go down easy just with a couple of attacks. 
Soldiers on the other hand wore hefty armor and carried great swords or a sword and a heavy and thick shield. This one wasn't very different. He had a great sword and pretty bulky armor. Which meant they would just have to chip away at his armor since he had no other protection. 
This fight should've been fairly easy. Especially with how much stronger they got to make it all the way up here. This should've been so easy, fighting 10 waves of their grunts back to back should've been easier.
Oh, how wrong they were.
First off, since when the fuck did dancers get so strong? It made sense to target and pick her off first since she was clearly the weakest. Whenever they tried to attack her via magic, sword, arrow, whatever her brother would always get in the way and cover for her. No matter how many of them went to attack her. It became clear if they wanted to attack her they would have to get rid of the brother first. No matter, dancers didn't really do much, but give their teammates a little motivation that helped them fight just a bit better, right? Wrong again.
Apparently they also had the capability to wake those who were passed out. They had targeted all of their attacks on her brother and paid her absolutely no mind. All she was doing was dancing without seemingly a care in the world or mind to what was going on around her. Slowly they had worn down her brother.  The only challenging thing at first is he would look at her and suddenly his attacks would get much stronger, or somehow he was much more agile than he should be, and he was evading more blows than should be possible. 
When they spared her a glance they would find themselves entranced and open to attacks or a fog would come over their minds and when they came out of it apparently they were fighting their other teammates. Matt seemed to have the later problem the most. Distantly, Janne remembers that dancers danced to please the gods. Considering how effective she was, she must've been favored by the gods. Or perhaps she was so skilled they couldn't help, but favor her? Either way, she was annoying.
When her brother fell, they let out a collective sigh of relief. He was much harder to take down then he should've been. They were already pretty exhausted. Their health was pretty low, and they didn't have many curative lefts. They would have to end this soon.
That proved to be harder than first thought. Maybe it was something about these two. There was a lot more than met the eye. 
The first obstacle in fighting her was they actually had to look at her now. Her moves were now affecting them a lot more now that they weren't just glancing at her. Her first set made them a lot slower. Janne did his best to attack her with his arrows, but she seemed to weave through them gracefully as if they were a part of her dance. Anytime Mat or Kataya got closer to her, they seemed to either immediately get charmed (Mat more so than Kat) by her once again or just completely missed her.
Despite most of Mat’s attacks coming from above as he jumped ridiculous high up and slammed down with all intentions to spear right through her, he would always miss by a hair as she just slightly moved out of his way. Even with Kataya backing him up by staying firmly on the ground fighting toe to toe on her. Sometimes the dancer would move out of the way and Kataya would follow her only to barely miss getting speared by Mat as he came down. Kat seemed to have the most luck as she managed to cut up her shaw that she twirled around and even the lightest cuts on her person. Still, for the most part she seemed to escape their reach and even got the two to almost hit each other and my own arrows weren’t helping much. 
Even as the two kept trying to hit her with their lance and sword she would just avoid it all no matter how fast they seemed to be, she was faster. It almost looked the three of them were dancing with the way Kat swung her sword and Mat tried to pierce through and stab her, she just weaved around it all, keeping the same grace she had once they started. Eventually Matt or Kat would move back to catch their breath, giving him and Lina a better opening to try and hit her. 
Lina being the only mage of the group took pride in her roll. He knew she had to be exhausted by now, but she maintained the same power as she kept attacking. Her attacks seemed to have the most success, but every now and then the girl would just hop around her magic as if it was nothing. Before they could even think of a plan to take her down, she did a couple backflips away from them. What was she gaining distance for?
She closed her eyes as she started her next dance. The group tried their best to stop her, but somehow she continued to avoid all their attacks. Her set seemed to be over, and she collapsed for a moment painting and looking up at the sky. Suddenly the clouds broke and a warm tray of sunlight enveloped her and her brother. Grass seemed to grow around his passed out body, and then he got up. 
Oh fuck.
It just got harder from there.
The two groups fought in a frenzy eager to get this over with already. The sister that just stayed behind was now attacking them too after she got up again. Janne switched to being a bard. Collapsing his bow back into a lyre, he sang to give his own team some motivation as it was clear his own attacks were doing little to nothing. On the bright side, this seemed to stop Matt from getting charmed by the sister. The not so bright side it somehow made the sisters dancers stronger. Even as he sang ancient tales and played beautiful music that made his teammates buzz with unrivaled energy that they needed to keep going. It also made his enemies crawl with anxiety. Still, she danced to the rhythm but, seemingly unaffected and danced in a way that counteracted the effect of his own singing.
It seemed that a battle of the arts has now started between the two.
As he kept singing she kept dancing and neither planned to stop till they became the victor. This was also a battle of skill and endurance and Janne didn’t plan to lose. He was regarded as not only the best storyteller in his caravan, but also in many other villages as well. He knew countless stories and had a fine ear for music. Despite his age, he had already masted the lyre. Her dancing would be no match for him.
Sometime after their own little battle began, she started to throw knives. Taking on a more active role to fight them. Still she didn’t stop dancing. Was she showing off? Unfortunately this left her a little more opening to attacks and Kataya focused in on her. 
As the battleground became littered with knives, when had to wonder where was she keeping all of this? Another was when would she run out? Soon enough, that was answered as she reached behind her and suddenly the chains that she had wrapped around her upper body fell to the floor.
After that she seemed to be more focused on fighting then dancing as she started to wield a chain mace. Her agility was still ever apparent of course. She had disguised her true weapon, (?) as something decorative, this whole time. She must be getting desperate as her brother seemed ready to fall again. Despite being awoken at seemingly full strength after being passed out, his moves were more sluggish and weaker. 
Janne considers this a win. Still, he doubts his arrows would be much help, so he continues his supportive role as a bard. 
It wasn’t much longer before they finally managed to win the battle against these ‘generals’. The group has never been so relived before. They barely managed to survive that with the skim of their teeth. The thought of having to fight another general makes them uneasy. If they wanted to fight their leader and not only win but survive, they would need to get much stronger. This battle was proof of how much harder it was going to get from here on. This battle was much harder than the last 5 ‘bosses’ before them.
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letterboxd · 10 months ago
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Best of SXSW 2021.
From properly good Covid comedies to an epic folk-horror doc and an Indigenous feminist Western, the Letterboxd Festiville team reveals their ten best of SXSW Online.
We dug out old lanyards to wear around the house, and imagined ourselves queuing up the block from The Ritz (RIP). We dialled into screenings and panels, and did our level best to channel that manic “South By” energy from our living rooms.
The SXSW festival atmosphere was muted, and that’s to be expected. But the films themselves? Gems, so many gems, whether shot in a fortnight on the smell of an oily stimulus check, or painstakingly rotoscoped over seven years.
When we asked SXSW Film director Janet Pierson what she and her team were looking for this year, she told us: “We’re always looking for films that do a lot with little, that are ingenious, and pure talent, and discovery, and being surprised. We’re just looking for really good stories with good emotional resonance.” If there was one common denominator we noticed across this year’s SXSW picks, it was a smart, tender injection of comedy into stories about trauma, grief, unwanted pregnancy, chronic health conditions, homelessness, homophobia and, yes, Covid.
It’s hard to pick favorites, but here are the ten SXSW features and two short films we haven’t stopped thinking about, in no particular order.
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Recovery Directed by Mallory Everton and Stephen Meek, written by Everton and Whitney Call
“Covid 19 is in charge now” might be the most hauntingly funny line in a SXSW film. In Recovery, two sisters set out on a haywire road trip to rescue their grandmother from her nursing home in the wake of a severe Covid 19 outbreak. There’s no random villain or threat, because isn’t being forced to exist during a pandemic enough of a threat in itself? If ever we were worried about “Covid comedies”, SXSW managed to flush out the good ones. (Read about the Festiville team’s other favorite Covid-inflected comedies, including an interview with the directors of I’m Fine (Thanks for Asking).)
Alex Marzona praises the “off-the-charts chemistry” between leads Mallory Everton and Whitney Call. Best friends since they were nine, the pair also wrote the film, with Everton co-directing with Stephen Meek. Every laugh comes from your gut and feels like something only the cast and crew would usually be privy to. “You can tell a lot of the content is improvised, which just attests to their talent,” writes Emma. Recovery doesn’t make you laugh awkwardly about how awful the last year has been—rather, it reminds you that even in such times there are still laughs to be had, trips to be taken, family worth uprooting everything for. Just make sure you’ve packed enough wet wipes for the road, and think long and hard about who should babysit your mice. —EK
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The Spine of Night Written and directed by Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt
Don’t get too attached to any characters from its star-studded cast—nobody is safe (or fully-clothed) in The Spine of Night’s raw, ultra-violent and cynical world. Conjured over the last seven years, directors Philip Gelatt and Morgan Galen King’s rotoscoped epic recaptures the dazzling imagination and scope of their influences Ralph Bakshi and Heavy Metal. Approaching an anthology-style structure to explore how ‘absolute power corrupts absolutely’—a proverb more potent now than when Gelatt and King began their project—the film packs a franchise’s worth of ideas in its 90-minute runtime. Though the storytelling justifiably proves itself overly dense for some, it will find the audience it’s after, as other Letterboxd members have declared it “a rare treat” and “a breath of fresh air in the feature-length animation scene”. For sure, The Spine of Night can join Sundance premieres Flee and Cryptozoo in what’s already a compelling year for unique two-dimensional animation. —JM
Kambole Campbell caught up with Gelatt and King (who are also Letterboxd members!) during SXSW to talk about animation inspirations and rotoscoping techniques.
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The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson Written and directed by Leah Purcell
Snakes, steers and scoundrels beware! Writer-director-star Leah Purcell ably repurposes the Western genre for Aboriginal and female voices in The Drover’s Wife. Molly Johnson is a crack-shot anti-heroine for the ages, in this decolonized reimagining of a classic 1892 short story by Henry Lawson. And by reimagining, we mean a seismic shift in the narrative: Purcell has fleshed out a full story of a mother-of-four, pregnant with her fifth, a missing husband, predatory neighbors, a mysterious runaway and a young English couple on different paths to progress in this remote Southern land. Purcell first adapted this story for the stage, then as published fiction; she rightly takes the leading role in the screen version, too.
As a debut feature director, Purcell (Goa-Gunggari-Wakka Wakka Murri) already has a firm grip on the macabre and the menacing, not shying away from violence, but making very careful decisions about what needs to be depicted, given all that Molly Johnson and her family are subjected to. She also sneaks in mystic touches, and a hint of romance (local heartthrob Rob Collins can take us on a walk to where the Snowy widens to see blooming wildflowers anytime). Judging by early Letterboxd reviews, it’s not for everyone, but this is Australian colonization through an Indigenous feminist’s eyes, with a fierce, intersectional pay-off. “Extremely similar to a vast majority of the issues and themes explored in The Nightingale,” writes Claira. “I’m slowly realizing that my favorite type of Westerns are Australian.” —LK, GG
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Swan Song Written and directed by Todd Stephens
Udo Kier is often the bridesmaid, rarely the bride. Now, after a lifetime of supporting roles ranging from vampires and villains to art-house muse, he finally gets to shine center-stage in Swan Song. Kier dazzles as a coiffure soothsayer in this lyrical pageant to the passage of queer times in backwater Sandusky, Ohio. “He is absolutely wonderful here,” writes Adrianna, “digging deep and pulling out a mesmerizing, deeply affecting and emotionally textured performance, proving that he’s an actor with much more range than people give him credit for.”
A strong supporting cast all have melancholy moments to shine, with Linda Evans (Dynasty), Michael Urie (Ugly Betty) and Jennifer Coolidge (Legally Blonde) along for the stroll. Surreal camp touches add joy (that chandelier, the needle drop!) but by the end, the tears roll (both of joy and sadness). Writer-director Todd Stephens ties up his Sandusky trilogy in this hometown homage, a career peak for both him and Kier. Robert Daniels puts it well, writing that Swan Song is “campy as hell, but it’s also a heartfelt LGBTQ story about lost lovers and friends, vibrant memories and the final passage of a colorful life.” —LK
Leo Koziol spoke with Todd Stephens and Udo Kier during SXSW about Grace Jones, David Bowie and dancing with yourself.
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Islands Written and directed by Martin Edralin
Islands is a Mike Leigh-esque story that presents a Canadian Filipino immigrant family full of quirk and character, centered around Joshua, a reticent 50-year-old homebody son. The story drifts in and out of a deep well of sadness. Moments of lightness and familial love make the journey worthwhile. “A film so Filipino a main plot device is line-dancing,” writes Karl. “Islands is an incredibly empathetic film about what it’s like to feel unmoored from comfort. It’s distinctly Filipino and deals with the psychology of Asian culture in a way that feels both profound and oddly comforting.” In a year in which we’ve all been forced to physically slow down, Islands “shows us how slow life can be,” writes Justin, “and how important it is to be okay with that.” Rogelio Balagtas’s performance as Joshua—a first-time leading role—won him the SXSW Grand Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance. —LK
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Ninjababy Directed by Yngvild Sve Flikke, written by Flikke with Johan Fasting and Inga H. Sætre
Ninjababy is as ridiculous as its title. When 23-year-old Rakel finds herself accidentally pregnant, scheduling an abortion is a no-brainer. But she’s way too far along, she’s informed, so she’s going to have to have the baby. The ensuing meltdown might have been heartbreaking if the film wasn’t so damn funny. Ninjababy draws on the comforting and familiar (“Lizzie McGuire if she was a pregnant young adult,” writes Nick), while mixing shock with originality (Erica Richards notices “a few aggressive and vulgar moments [but] somehow none of it seemed misplaced”).
An animated fetus in the style of Rakel’s own drawings appears to beg and shame Rakel into motherhood while she fights to hold onto her confidence that not wanting to be a mother doesn’t make her a bad person. Ninjababy’s greatest feat is its willingness to delve into that complication: yes, it’s righteous and feminist and 21st-century to claim your own body and life, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to turn away from something growing inside of you. It’s a comedy about shame, art, finding care in unlikely places—and there’s something in it for the gents, too. The titular ninjababy wouldn’t leave Rakel alone, and it’s unlikely to leave you either. Winner of the SXSW Global Audience Award. —SH
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The Fallout Written and directed by Megan Park
Canadian actress Megan Park brought the youthful wisdom of her days on the teen drama series The Secret Life of the American Teenager to her first project behind the camera, and it paid off. Following the scattered after-effects of a school shooting, The Fallout may be the most acute, empathetic depiction of childhood trauma on screen in recent memory. “It sneaks up on you with its honesty and how it spends time with its lead, carried so beautifully by Jenna Ortega. Even the more conventional moments are poignant because of context,” writes Kevin L. Lee. Much of that “sneaky” honesty emerges as humor—despite the heavy premise, moments of hilarity hang on the edges of almost every scene. And Ortega’s portrayal of sweet-but-angsty Vada brings self-awareness to that humor, like when Vada’s avoidant, inappropriate jokes with her therapist reveal her desperation, but they garner genuine laughs nonetheless.
In this debut, Park shows an unmatched understanding of non-linear ways that young people process their pain. Sometimes kids try drugs! Sometimes they scream at their parents! But more often than not, they really do know what they want, who loves them, and how much time they need to grieve (see also: Jessie Barr’s Sophie Jones, starring her cousin Jessica Barr, out now on VOD and in theaters). The Fallout forsakes melodrama to embrace confusion, ambiguity and joy. Winner of both the SXSW Grand Jury and Audience Narrative Feature Awards, and the Brightcove Illumination Award. —SH
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Ludi Directed by Edson Jean, written by Jean and Joshua Jean-Baptiste
When Ludi begins, it’s quiet and dreamy. The film’s opening moments conjure the simple pleasures of the titular character’s Haitian heritage: the music, the colors, the people. Ludi (Shein Monpremier) smiles to herself as she starts her morning with a tape recording her cousin mailed from Haiti to Miami, and listens as her family members laugh through their troubles before recording an upbeat tape of her own. But that’s where the dreaminess ends—Ludi is an overworked, underpaid nurse picking up every shift she possibly can in order to send money home. Writer-director Edson Jean fixates on the pains and consequences of Ludi’s relentless determination, which comes to a head when she moonlights as a private nurse for an old man who doesn’t want her there.
Ashton Kinley notes how the film “doesn’t overly dramatize or pull at false emotional strings to make its weight felt. The second half of the feature really allows all of that to shine, as the film becomes a tender and empathetic two-hander.” George’s (Alan Myles Heyman) resentment of his own aging body steps in as Ludi’s antagonist. Jean throws together jarring contrasts: George throwing Ludi out of the bathroom, followed by Ludi’s memories of home, followed by another lashing out, followed by a shared prayer. The tension is unsustainable. By interspersing the back-breaking predicament of a working-class immigrant with the sights and sounds of the Caribbean, Ludi elegantly, painfully reveals what the cost of a dream can be. —SH
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Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched: A History of Folk Horror Written and directed by Kier-La Janisse
Building on the folk horror resurgence of films like The Witch and Midsommar, Kier-La Janisse’s 193-minute documentary Woodlands Dark and Days Bewitched is a colossal, staggering undertaking that should school even the most seasoned of horror buffs. “Thorough is an understatement,” says Claira.
Combining a historian’s studied, holistic patience with a cinephile’s rabid, insatiable thirst, the film, through the course of six chapters, broadens textbook British definitions, draws trenchant socio-political and thematic connections, debunks myths and transports viewers to far-flung parts of the globe in a way that almost feels anthropological. As Jordan writes, “Three hours later and my mind is racing between philosophical questions about the state of hauntology we generationally entrap ourselves in, wanting to buy every single one of the 100+ films referenced here, and being just a bit in awe of Janisse’s truly breathless work.” An encyclopedic forest worth losing yourself in—get ready for those watchlists to balloon. Winner of the SXSW Midnighters Audience Award. —AY
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Introducing, Selma Blair Directed by Rachel Fleit
There’ll likely be some level of hype when this intimate collaboration between actress Selma Blair and filmmaker Rachel Fleit comes out later in the year on Discovery+, and that’s okay, because that is Blair’s intention in sharing the details of her stem-cell transplant for multiple sclerosis. There’d be little point in going there if you are not prepared to really go there, and Introducing, Selma Blair is a tics-and-all journey not just into what life is like with a chronic condition, a young son, and a career that relies on one’s ability to keep a straight face. It’s also an examination of the scar tissue of childhood, the things we are told by our parents, the ideas we come to believe about ourselves. “I almost felt like I shouldn’t have such intimate access to some of the footage in this documentary,” writes Andy Yen. “Bravo to Selma for allowing the filmmakers to show some truly raw and soul-bearing videos about her battle with multiple sclerosis that make us feel as if we are as close to her as family.” —GG
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Femme Directed by Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping
I May Destroy You fans, rejoice: Paapa Essiedu, who played Arabella’s fascinating best friend Kwame, takes center stage in Sam H. Freeman and Ng Choon Ping’s intoxicating short film Femme. It’s a simple premise—Jordan, a femme gay man, follows his drug dealer (Harris Dickinson, mastering the sexually repressed brusque young man like no one else) home to pick up some goods on a night out. Except, of course, it’s not that simple. The co-directors build a world of danger, tension and electricity, with lusciously lensed scenes that lose focus as the threat rises. Frankie calls it “hypnotizing and brutal and gorgeous” and we couldn’t agree more. A crime thriller wrestling with hyper-masculinity seen through the eyes of an LGBTQ+ character, with a sucker-punch ending to boot, the world needs more than twenty minutes of this story. —EK
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Play It Safe Directed by Mitch Kalisa
If you (unwisely) thought that the vulnerable, progressive environment of drama school would be a safe space for Black students, Play It Safe confirms that even a liberal bunch of actors (and their teacher) are capable of being blind to their own egregiously racist microagressions. Mitch Kalisa’s excellent short film explores structural prejudice head-on, in an electric acting exercise that rests on where the kinetic, gritty 16mm camera is pointing at every pivotal turn. At first, we’re with Black drama student Jonathan Ajayi as he receives the assignment; then we are with the rest of the class, exactly where we need to be. “Literally in your face and absolutely breathtaking,” writes Nia. A deserving winner of the SXSW Grand Jury and Audience narrative shorts prizes. —GG
Follow the Festiville team on Letterboxd
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lovemecharlie · a year ago
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When Erik Met King Jade
Have you ever wondered what it's like to be in a romantic relationship where both parties alternate between "driving the boat" so to speak? It requires a lot of communication. You need to be willing to listen and follow as well as assert yourself and lead. You have to care about your partner's needs and be aware of your own.
N'Jadaka and I like to believe that we have found the balance because we make an effort to learn about each other continuously, but the thing about balance is that it requires great effort to maintain. Our relationship always wants to tip one way or another, and we're not perfect enough to stop it when it does. The thing that rights us is when we check the issue instead of each other.
At the beginning of the relationship though.. I won't lie. We had issues. We power struggled in a way that was not fun for us. I'm sure you wanna hear that too and I might as well tell you since I've shared so much as it is.
Let's go back to before the baby.. before the marriage.. when N'Jadaka and I were somewhat new and I still lived on the east coast.
Erik strolls close beside me through the Maryland art exhibit, hands in his plaid pants pockets while I hang onto his bicep, arm linked in his. I've pulled out my 22 inch wavy unit for this occasion.
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It's our mid-week date but we've specifically come to this rather liberal museum to support a college friend of mine who has a section of the gallery dedicated to her sculpted works. Signing her guest book I put in a bid for sculpture titled Womb in Motion.
"It's the low-hanging fruit," he says. "She didn't work too hard for that message, don't you think it's generic?"
"Because movement suggests life and the womb is life.. I love it," I explain to Erik. He's not completely sold. I'm glad Alice, the artist is not there to hear his honest opinions.
"It's a good fertility representation," I shrug, silently agreeing. He's not wrong. "I have another colleague who does Lamaze."
"I guess.." He moves us smoothly to the next piece, a sculpture called Rapture where it looks like a man is having an insane orgasm by the expression chiseled into his face.
"Well..." I bite the inside of my lip and look slyly to Erik. "That's a familiar face if I've ever seen it." When he sighs, my cheeks lift.
"Charlie this is the ugliest statue I've seen in my life and I don't look a damn thing like that... I don't," he adds when my brows go up.
Smiling with closed lips I glance to my right and that's when I see it.. a blatant symbol of a conversation I've been purposely avoiding. Immediately my reaction is to stand in a way that blocks Erik's view.
Draping my arms around his neck, I tilt my head to capture his gaze. "Let's go look at some paintings, I want to get at this Llama picture I saw briefly before someone beats me to it." ...But it doesn't work. Logically we both know it only makes sense to see what's in each exhibit as we walk and appreciate each individual work. It's what we do.
I know he sees it when his eyes stare past me and he pauses leaving me to roll my eyes. He puts his arm on my waist to guide me to it, unaware that I've already seent it through the corner of my eye..
"This one's interesting," he allows. Of course this would be the one he somewhat approves of. He's into this one, I can tell because he tries to view it from other angles and he's really looking at it. I try to talk about it as far as technique and material, but the subject matter is too obvious to ignore.
"Perfect Submission," he reads. It shows a woman kneeling and holding onto a man's leg and the man projects heavy alpha energy. It's a loud piece, skillfully created.. but loud.
"Baby... How would you feel having me as your dom,” he asks innocently. "You ever have one?"
There it is, the question I've been trying so hard to avoid.
"Have one?... No." I let him put two and two together. Suddenly, he's staring at me and I can feel it. When I look up, he looks confused and I don't like this intensely focused silence. "...What?"
"So, you've been one?" Sculpture forgotten, I'm now the focus of this conversation.
"No, I wouldn't say that..," I squint, "But I am used to.. calling the shots if you will. That's just how it's always been." I can see in his confused stare that it's a foreign concept to him. He can't picture it. "...Is that it?"
"Are you interested in experiencing sex differently? Seeing what it's like to give away control?"
I tilt my head, "Are you?"
"Honestly?" Wild brows high, he smiles humorlessly and I already know his answer, but I still wait for him to say it. "...No."
"Same.. I'm not cut out for taking orders. I don't like being told what to do."
"Neither do my wives, but in the bedroom it's different.. They feel good knowing they always have a firm hand and a strong dick."
"Pftt," I nearly spit, but cover my snickering. "Boy bye. I'm not your wife." That comment he made was enough to make my sides hurt.
"I'm for real. There's something I haven't told you yet," he says gauging my expression and I try to compose myself. "...I am a dominant." His eyes are serious. After a beat, I know I have to be serious too. I take a deep sigh.
"I could've guessed that," I admit. He didn't have to tell me and I was hoping that he wouldn't.
"My wives are all my submissives. We are into kink. We do fuck in the open. We do have group sex. We also do things that normal people do in relationships because we love our family."
"It's the weirdest family I've ever heard of..," I mumble, thrown by the explosion of TMI.
"We believe in full disclosure."
“Well, I'm not a submissive so it would get awkward really fast if you tried to dom me.”
"Is that facts?"
When I smile so to say 'yes indeed it's facts' he smiles as if he's thinking 'wtf' and his brows shoot up again like I'm some foreign object he can't figure out. He looks like I've just told him I have six husbands and want him to be the seventh... and he's just staring.
“Is something wrong?”
"Eh..," he mutters and it's like he wants to say something but changes his mind. "Charlie." Grabbing my hand to briefly kiss my fingers, he moves in closer and holds my hand in close to him. “Close your eyes and picture this.. You and me making love in Cancun.. music playing.. I lay you down and tease your body until you need the real thing and then I give it all to you.. I hold you down and have you take all of me.. and all you have to do is say yes. I'll buy you white lingerie from Agent Provocateur.. lace teddies and heels.. and I'll let you model them for me, while I touch you with my eyes.. Then I'll tie you up and kiss you all over your body from head to toe till you beg me to fuck you some more.. Now open your eyes. You don't want that?”
“Not really. One, that's boring and I'd rather explore and party if I'm in Cancun. Two, I can buy my own lingerie and I don't like white. Three, I'm not about to beg you for anything.. You can beg me," I tease. "Honestly, I'd probably end up tying you up and doing what I wish with you.. edging you. Imagine you in all your glory, naked in an apron cooking me breakfast because I turned you out and tore that cherry out,” I grin loving the image.
"Hell nah," he blurts moving onto a different sculpture where the sculpted couple is entwined around a third party. Any excitement he had deteriorated when I mentioned my lil fantasy.
"Um.. you good?" I follow closely, noting the shift. He says he's good, but I know I burst his little bubble.. this is exactly why I avoided the topic. "Look," I grab onto his arm linking mine again "I understand that this is different for you. Being in a serious relationship is different for me. I'm not used to this.. this is new."
"I know that. I respect you for being real with me, I just didn't see this coming. I have to adjust.."
"I tell you what. I have a suggestion and you just tell me if you're with it.. Okay?" Following him to the next exhibit, we stand side by side before an abstract painting that looks like the night.
"Well," I sigh, "What if we tried taking turns, that way both of us could orchestrate our fantasies and bring'em to life. I think we should try a situation where I dom you and then we'll switch it and.. you'll dom me?"
"Reverse it, I want you first," he blurts. It's not a big deal. Shrugging, I agree and we take time to finish looking through the exhibits before heading out  to my car. After grabbing milkshakes, I take him to his hotel and drop him at the front before heading home.
Little did I know this would be the start of our complicated journey, but I'll tell you more.. after I put this baby down for her nap. By the way, I have more to tell you about that too.
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richincolor · a year ago
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January's New Releases
2021 told 2020 to hold it's beer and what a month January has been! Publishing YA also came out swinging with a slew of new books (many already bestsellers) in what we hope will be another banner year for BIPOC stories. Click below to find books for your TBR list. 
Week of January 5th
The Life I’m In by Sharon G. Flake Scholastic Inc
My feet are heavy as stones when I walk up the block wondering why I can’t find my old self.
In The Skin I’m In, readers saw into the life of Maleeka Madison, a teen who suffered from the ridicule she received because of her dark skin color. For decades fans have wanted to know the fate of the bully who made Maleeka’s life miserable, Char.
Now in Sharon Flake’s latest and unflinching novel, The Life I’m In, we follow Charlese Jones, who, with her raw, blistering voice speaks the truths many girls face, offering insight to some of the causes and conditions that make a bully. Turned out of the only home she has known, Char boards a bus to nowhere where she is lured into the dangerous web of human trafficking. Much is revealed behind the complex system of men who take advantage of vulnerable teens in the underbelly of society. While Char might be frightened, she remains strong and determined to bring herself and her fellow victims out of the dark and back into the light, reminding us why compassion is a powerful cure to the ills of the world.
Sharon Flake’s bestselling, Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel The Skin I’m In was a game changer when it was first published more than twenty years ago. It redefined young adult literature by presenting characters, voices, and real-world experiences that had not been fully seen. Now Flake offers readers another timely and radical story of a girl on the brink and how her choices will lead her to either fall, or fly. — Cover image and summary via Goodreads
Happily Ever Afters by Elise Bryant Balzer + Bray
Sixteen-year-old Tessa Johnson has never felt like the protagonist in her own life. She’s rarely seen herself reflected in the pages of the romance novels she loves. The only place she’s a true leading lady is in her own writing—in the swoony love stories she shares only with Caroline, her best friend and #1 devoted reader.
When Tessa is accepted into the creative writing program of a prestigious art school, she’s excited to finally let her stories shine. But when she goes to her first workshop, the words are just…gone. Fortunately, Caroline has a solution: Tessa just needs to find some inspiration in a real-life love story of her own. And she’s ready with a list of romance novel-inspired steps to a happily ever after. Nico, the brooding artist who looks like he walked out of one of Tessa’s stories, is cast as the perfect Prince Charming.
But as Tessa checks each item off Caroline’s list, she gets further and further away from herself. She risks losing everything she cares about—including the surprising bond she develops with sweet Sam, who lives across the street. She’s well on her way to having her own real-life love story, but is it the one she wants, after all?
One of the Good Ones by Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite Inkyard Press
ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH? When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.
One of the good ones.
Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind–why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?–Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected–one that will change everything all over again.
Roman and Jewel by Dana L. Davis Inkyard Press
If Romeo and Juliet got the Hamilton treatment…who would play the leads? This vividly funny, honest, and charming romantic novel by Dana L. Davis is the story of a girl who thinks she has what it takes…and the world thinks so, too.
Jerzie Jhames will do anything to land the lead role in Broadway’s hottest new show, Roman and Jewel, a Romeo and Juliet inspired hip-hopera featuring a diverse cast and modern twists on the play. But her hopes are crushed when she learns mega-star Cinny won the lead…and Jerzie is her understudy.
Falling for male lead Zeppelin Reid is a terrible idea–especially once Jerzie learns Cinny wants him for herself. Star-crossed love always ends badly. But when a video of Jerzie and Zepp practicing goes viral and the entire world weighs in on who should play Jewel, Jerzie learns that while the price of fame is high, friendship, family, and love are priceless.
The Awakening of Malcom X by Ilyasah Shabazz & Tiffany D. Jackson Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
In Charlestown Prison, Malcolm Little struggles with the weight of his past. Plagued by nightmares, Malcolm drifts through days unsure of his future. Slowly, he befriends other prisoners and writes to his family. He reads all the books in the prison library, joins the debate team and the Nation of Islam. Malcolm grapples with race, politics, religion, and justice in the 1940s. And as his time in jail comes to an end, he begins to awaken — emerging from prison more than just Malcolm Little: Now, he is Malcolm X.
Here is an intimate look at Malcolm X’s young adult years. While this book chronologically follows X: A Novel, it can be read as a stand-alone historical novel that invites larger discussions on black power, prison reform, and civil rights.
When You Look Like Us by Pamela N. Harris HarperCollins
When you look like us—brown skin, brown eyes, black braids or fades—people think you’re trouble. No one looks twice at a missing black girl from the projects because she must’ve brought whatever happened to her upon herself. I, Jay Murphy, can admit that, for a minute, I thought my sister, Nicole, got too caught up with her boyfriend—a drug dealer—and his friends.
But she’s been gone too long now.
If I hadn’t hung up on her that night, she’d be spending time with our grandma. If I was a better brother, she’d be finishing senior year instead of being another name on a missing persons list. It’s time to step up and do what the Newport News police department won’t.
Week of January 12th
Chlorine Sky by Mahogany L. Browne Crown Books for Young Readers
She looks me hard in my eyes & my knees lock into tree trunks My eyes don’t dance like my heartbeat racing They stare straight back hot daggers. I remember things will never be the same. I remember things.
With gritty and heartbreaking honesty, Mahogany L. Browne delivers a novel-in-verse about broken promises, fast rumors, and when growing up means growing apart from your best friend.
The Meet-Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson Simon & Schuster
Mia’s friends love rom-coms. Mia hates them. They’re silly, contrived, and not at all realistic. Besides, there are more important things to worry about—like how to handle living with her bridezilla sister, Sam, who’s never appreciated Mia, and surviving junior year juggling every school club offered and acing all of her classes.
So when Mia is tasked with finding a date to her sister’s wedding, her options are practically nonexistent.
Mia’s friends, however, have an idea. It’s a little crazy, a little out there, and a lot inspired by the movies they love that Mia begrudgingly watches too.
Mia just needs a meet-cute.
Concrete Rose (The Hate U Give, #0) by Angie Thomas Balzer + Bray
If there’s one thing seventeen-year-old Maverick Carter knows, it’s that a real man takes care of his family. As the son of a former gang legend, Mav does that the only way he knows how: dealing for the King Lords. With this money he can help his mom, who works two jobs while his dad’s in prison.
Life’s not perfect, but with a fly girlfriend and a cousin who always has his back, Mav’s got everything under control.
Until, that is, Maverick finds out he’s a father.
Suddenly he has a baby, Seven, who depends on him for everything. But it’s not so easy to sling dope, finish school, and raise a child. So when he’s offered the chance to go straight, he takes it. In a world where he’s expected to amount to nothing, maybe Mav can prove he’s different.
When King Lord blood runs through your veins, though, you can’t just walk away. Loyalty, revenge, and responsibility threaten to tear Mav apart, especially after the brutal murder of a loved one. He’ll have to figure out for himself what it really means to be a man.
Angel of Greenwood by Randi Pink Feiwel and Friends
Seventeen-year-old Isaiah Wilson is, on the surface, a town troublemaker, but is hiding that he is an avid reader and secret poet, never leaving home without his journal. A passionate follower of WEB. Du Bois, he believes that black people should rise up to claim their place as equals.
Sixteen-year-old Angel Hill is a loner, mostly disregarded by her peers as a goody-goody. Her father is dying, and her family’s financial situation is in turmoil. Also, as a loyal follower of Booker T. Washington, she believes, through education and tolerance, that black people should rise slowly and without forced conflict.
Though they’ve attended the same schools, Isaiah never noticed Angel as anything but a dorky, Bible toting church girl. Then their English teacher offers them a job on her mobile library, a three-wheel, two-seater bike. Angel can’t turn down the money and Isaiah is soon eager to be in such close quarters with Angel every afternoon.
But life changes on May 31, 1921 when a vicious white mob storms the community of Greenwood, leaving the town destroyed and thousands of residents displaced. Only then, Isaiah, Angel, and their peers realize who their real enemies are.
Week of January 19th
Thirty Talks Weird Love by Alessandra Narváez Varela Cinco Puntos Press
Out of nowhere, a lady comes up to Anamaría and says she’s her, from the future. But Anamaría’s thirteen, she knows better than to talk to some weirdo stranger. Girls need to be careful, especially in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico—it’s the 90’s and fear is overtaking her beloved city as cases of kidnapped girls and women become alarmingly common. This thirty-year-old “future” lady doesn’t seem to be dangerous but she won’t stop bothering her, switching between cheesy Hallmark advice about being kind to yourself, and some mysterious talk about saving a girl.
Anamaría definitely doesn’t need any saving, she’s doing just fine. She works hard at her strict, grade-obsessed middle school—so hard that she hardly gets any sleep; so hard that the stress makes her snap not just at mean girls but even her own (few) friends; so hard that when she does sleep she dreams about dying—but she just wants to do the best she can so she can grow up to be successful. Maybe Thirty’s right, maybe she’s not supposed to be so exhausted with her life, but how can she ask for help when her city is mourning the much bigger tragedy of its stolen girls?
This thought-provoking, moving verse novel will lead adult and young adult readers alike to vital discussions on important topics—like dealing with depression and how to recognize this in yourself and others—through the accessible voice of a thirteen-year-old girl.
Your Corner Dark by Desmond Hall Atheneum/Dlouhy
Things can change in a second:
The second Frankie Green gets that scholarship letter, he has his ticket out of Jamaica.
The second his longtime crush, Leah, asks him on a date, he’s in trouble.
The second his father gets shot, suddenly nothing else matters.
And the second Frankie joins his uncle’s gang in exchange for paying for his father’s medical bills, there’s no going back…or is there?
As Frankie does things he never thought he’d be capable of, he’s forced to confront the truth of the family and future he was born into—and the ones he wants to build for himself.
Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo Dutton Books for Young Readers
“That book. It was about two women, and they fell in love with each other.” And then Lily asked the question that had taken root in her, that was even now unfurling its leaves and demanding to be shown the sun: “Have you ever heard of such a thing?”
Seventeen-year-old Lily Hu can’t remember exactly when the question took root, but the answer was in full bloom the moment she and Kathleen Miller walked under the flashing neon sign of a lesbian bar called the Telegraph Club.
America in 1954 is not a safe place for two girls to fall in love, especially not in Chinatown. Red-Scare paranoia threatens everyone, including Chinese Americans like Lily. With deportation looming over her father—despite his hard-won citizenship—Lily and Kath risk everything to let their love see the light of day.
If I Tell You the Truth by Jasmin Kaur HarperCollins
Told in prose, poetry, and illustration, this heartrending story weaves Kiran’s and Sahaara’s timelines together, showing a teenage Kiran and, later, her high school–aged daughter, Sahaara.
Kiran is a young Punjabi Sikh woman who becomes pregnant after being sexually assaulted by her fiancé’s brother. When her fiancé and family don’t believe her, she flees her home in India to Canada, where she plans to raise the child as a single mother. For Kiran, living undocumented means constant anxiety over finances, work, safety, and whether she’ll be deported back to the dangers that await her in Punjab.
Eighteen years later, Kiran’s daughter, Sahaara, is desperate to help her mother, who has been arrested and is facing deportation. In the aftermath, Kiran reveals the truth about Sahaara’s conception. Horrified, Sahaara encourages Kiran to speak out against the man who raped her—who’s now a popular political figure in Punjab. Sahaara must find the best way to support her mother while also dealing with the revelation about her parents.
We Free the Stars (Sands of Arawiya #2) by Hafsah Faizal Farrar, Straus and Giroux
The battle on Sharr is over. The dark forest has fallen. Altair may be captive, but Zafira, Nasir, and Kifah are bound for Sultan’s Keep, determined to finish the plan he set in motion: restoring the hearts of the Sisters of Old to the minarets of each caliphate, and finally returning magic to all of Arawiya. But they are low on resources and allies alike, and the kingdom teems with fear of the Lion of the Night’s return.
As the zumra plots to overthrow the kingdom’s darkest threat, Nasir fights to command the magic in his blood. He must learn to hone his power into a weapon, to wield not only against the Lion but against his father, trapped under the Lion’s control. Zafira battles a very different darkness festering in her through her bond with the Jawarat—a darkness that hums with voices, pushing her to the brink of her sanity and to the edge of a chaos she dare not unleash. In spite of the darkness enclosing ever faster, Nasir and Zafira find themselves falling into a love they can’t stand to lose…but time is running out to achieve their ends, and if order is to be restored, drastic sacrifices will have to be made.
Lush and striking, hopeful and devastating, We Free the Stars is the masterful conclusion to the Sands of Arawiya duology by New York Times–bestselling author Hafsah Faizal.
Week of January 26th
Written in Starlight (Woven in Moonlight #2) by Isabel Ibañez Page Street Kids
If the jungle wants you, it will have you…
Catalina Quiroga is a Condesa without a country. She’s lost the Inkasisa throne, the loyalty of her people, and her best friend. Banished to the perilous Yanu Jungle, Catalina knows her chances of survival are slim, but that won’t stop her from trying to escape. It’s her duty to reclaim the throne.
When Manuel, the son of her former general, rescues Catalina from a jaguar, a plan forms. Deep in the jungle, the city of gold is hidden, home to the fierce Illari people, who she could strike an alliance with.
But the elusive Illari are fighting a battle of their own—a mysterious blight is corrupting the jungle, laying waste to everything they hold dear. As a seer, Catalina should be able to help, but her ability to read the future in the stars is as feeble as her survival instincts. While searching for the Illari, Catalina must reckon with her duty and her heart to find her true calling, which could be the key to stopping the corruption before it destroys the jungle completely.
The Knockout by Sajni Patel Flux
If seventeen-year-old Kareena Thakkar is going to alienate herself from the entire Indian community, she might as well do it gloriously. She’s landed the chance of a lifetime, an invitation to the US Muay Thai Open, which could lead to a spot on the first-ever Olympic team. If only her sport wasn’t seen as something too rough for girls, something she’s afraid to share with anyone outside of her family. Despite pleasing her parents, exceling at school, and making plans to get her family out of debt, Kareena’s never felt quite Indian enough, and her training is only making it worse.
Which is inconvenient, since she’s starting to fall for Amit Patel, who just might be the world’s most perfect Indian. Admitting her feelings for Amit will cost Kareena more than just her pride–she’ll have to face his parents’ disapproval, battle her own insecurities, and remain focused for the big fight. Kareena’s bid for the Olympics could very well make history–if she has the courage to go for it.
Wings of Ebony (Wings of Ebony #1) by J. Elle Denene Millner Books/Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
“Make a way out of no way” is just the way of life for Rue. But when her mother is shot dead on her doorstep, life for her and her younger sister changes forever. Rue’s taken from her neighborhood by the father she never knew, forced to leave her little sister behind, and whisked away to Ghizon—a hidden island of magic wielders.
Rue is the only half-god, half-human there, where leaders protect their magical powers at all costs and thrive on human suffering. Miserable and desperate to see her sister on the anniversary of their mother’s death, Rue breaks Ghizon’s sacred Do Not Leave Law and returns to Houston, only to discover that Black kids are being forced into crime and violence. And her sister, Tasha, is in danger of falling sway to the very forces that claimed their mother’s life.
Worse still, evidence mounts that the evil plaguing East Row is the same one that lurks in Ghizon—an evil that will stop at nothing until it has stolen everything from her and everyone she loves. Rue must embrace her true identity and wield the full magnitude of her ancestors’ power to save her neighborhood before the gods burn it to the ground.
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coutelier · a year ago
Irongate - Monsters
Big chunk of the current draft of Chapter Three - about 3,600 words.
Tenley screamed. All her young life she’d taken care of herself and her mother. She tried to be strong as it seemed that’s what mother wanted, so screaming was not something she did often. But the moment she’d awoken in this place - a place she had no recollection of coming to - and placed her hands in the dirt to push herself up, she screamed. A million grains of sand scratched and burned, sticking to and into the skin of her palms, and she could feel every single one. As she scrambled back every stitch in her clothes - which again she had no memory of having dressed herself - rubbed roughly against her body.
Through all her wincing Tenley saw the glowing form of Titania sat at one end of a cavern upon a thorny throne, cheek resting on a fist as she regarded the child like a child regarded a bug - curiosity more than any other emotion. She was just waiting to see what the girl would do next. As in the forest, Tenley found it hard to look at Titania for very long, the way her skin throbbed and shifted, but nor could she focus on anything else. Around her were rocks and roots and mushrooms which also pulsed with their own inner light. And there were bugs - spiders whose skittering was like a thousand needles piercing Tenley’s skull. Fireflies whose beating wings were like a thousand drums. Tenley could do no more than curl up, covering her ears in a futile effort to block it all out.
Then a voice - again, much too loud, every syllable stabbing in her head. “Your strength is increasing a hundredfold,” it said. Tenley tried to listen to it, and only it. Kneeling close to her was the red-haired woman Titania called Lilian who at least seemed sympathetic. “But, you don’t want to crush everything you hold so your nervous system also needs,” Lilian paused, visibly searching for the right word, “recalibrating.”
Tenley jumped at another voice squawking, “I wager she breaks like the others.” The other young woman who had been with The Queen in the forest - Ella, pacing in circles around them.
Lilian ignored the blonde and continued trying to soothe Tenley. “Likewise, your hearing and other senses are many times what they were. Your mind needs to adjust - to apply new filters.”
Ella yawned, seeming to relish the pain each new and unexpected sound caused the girl as it reverberated inside her. “There’s still a chance it’ll mutate. What do you think she’ll turn into?”
Tenley could barely comprehend anything being said as each noise bled into every other. One word did stand out - filters. She needed to focus on something - anything. So long as it was just one thing. And so, despite every movement feeling like her body was being set on fire, she crawled and inched so that she was sat cross legged, raised her arms horizontally, then with a thunderous clash her palms came together. Her mother had taught her when she had been spinning and eventually overcome by dizziness and nausea, the fastest way to recover was to focus on her finger. And so that’s what Tenley did, eyes narrowing with laser precision on just the tips of her fingers until they were all there was. The scratching, beating, skittering, all slowly faded into the background - unimportant details she currently had no reason to pay attention to.
Titania upon seeing the girl’s recovery stroked a thick root connected to her throne. “Not bad,” she cooed into it, “I daresay she’s your best work yet.” Lilian also looked pleased that Tenley seemed to be managing things, but Ella for reasons known only to herself had clearly already taken a strong dislike to the new girl.
Tenley remained in her meditative pose, in which there was only her finger. Her breath. Nothing else mattered; not pain, not Ella’s disdain, not even Titania rising from her throne to declare, “this one will not break. I chose her, after all. As I did the two of you.”
“Remember what it was like, Ella?” Lilian reminisced, “you were screaming for days.”
Screaming would have still hurt Tenley’s ears. That was why she’d stopped. Breaking her concentration now might bring it all flooding back, but that was of no concern to Ella whose lip quivered like that of an incensed animal before clamping her hands on Tenley’s shoulders. “Let’s see just how fast she adapts,” Ella snarled. No-one tried to stop her - even Titania just wearily sighed - as Ella threw Tenley into a pit. Tumbling through the darkness Tenley knew not to struggle, yet she fell such a distance reaching such speed that a rat would have been killed, a man broken, a horse’s innards splashed all across the ground she landed on. Yet Tenley was fine. Not unhurt, but she was no worse off than if she’d just fallen from a swing. She was alive. How long would it stay that way?
Tenley lifted her head out of the crater she’d made. Still caves, but deeper, darker. She could see nothing down here. But the first part of her to change had been her eyes - like she’d grown second eyelids, but instead of blocking light they allowed her to see on wavelengths humans were normally blind to. Gray rocks, gray sand, stalagmites, tites, and nates; nothing unexpected. Except maybe she hadn’t been expecting the rocks to be looking back at her. Or to have teeth. Big, big teeth.
A bent stone column rose then fell, the earth quaking at its impact. Then another. With a low rumble the eyes and teeth rose, attached to a creature that stood hunched like a Gorilla. Ten feet tall at the shoulder - over twice Tenley’s height. With several guttural grunts it began to drag its heavy body toward her, shuffling on its knuckles, faster and faster, building momentum. A hand ground into a stony fist, rising over its head as it kept moving… moving - Move!
Tenley had been so enamored at the sight of rocks coming to life that she almost forgot to move, pushing herself away just in time to avoid the fist crashing down to embiggen the crater she’d been lying in. But she had very much misjudged the power and speed of her actions; instead of flipping and slipping gracefully away from the monster her back cracked on stone that had prior been fifteen feet above. Yet she did not break; she gasped and bounced then scurried for the cover of the stalagmites, having to bury the pain as the grim stony visage of the creature sent shock-waves after her as it roared.
Was it as confused as Tenley? She seemed to not be fully in control of her own body, trying to run but with each stride she bounded and propelled herself clumsily forward, lucky not to trip. She was like an astronaut bouncing on the surface of the moon. Was that it? Titania’s promise, and had not Lilian said her strength was increasing a hundredfold so she was effectively operating in lower gravity than she was used to. Must not have just been her muscle, but bone as well - it was all going to take some getting used to. Of more immediate concern was the creature that with a swipe smashed apart the rock formations she was hoping would buy her a few more seconds at least. She continued to duck and roll to avoid being squashed. Tenley had no idea why it was so mad - not her fault she’d been thrown down here - but didn’t suppose it would be willing to talk over their differences. In her favor, this thing wasn’t that fast.
“Remember,” Lilian’s voice floated down from some place high above, “force is mass times acceleration.”
Tenley didn’t have a lot of mass, and how she could she possibly accelerate enough to do anything to a creature whose skin was stone? Even if she could, wouldn’t her own skin be destroyed in the process? How was that supposed to help?
The distraction was costly as couldn’t avoid the creature’s next blow. It thrust it’s arm forward, Tenley instinctively crossing her arms to protect her head and chest as the heavy pillar drilled into her, pushing her back. Pushing - but not breaking. Tenley opened her eyes, seeing grooves her feet had just dug in the dirt as she was forced back. But she was alive. Above her, somewhere, Lilian and Ella and Titania were watching - Titania who had found her in the forest, chosen her - surely after all that they wouldn’t allow this if there were no hope of defeating this beast.
The creature retracted its arm, finding Tenley wearing a small smirk. “Alright Rocky,” she said as she clenched her fists, “let’s rumble.”
The recently dubbed ‘Rocky’ roared, rattling dirt, stone, and Tenley’s bones. But this time she stood her ground as it raised its fist and brought it crashing down on where she had been. She’d jumped straight up as the fist cratered the dirt, tiptoes landing on the column then shooting her along it at Rocky’s skull. Hooking on with her arm, Tenley did a full orbit of the head, building speed and momentum for her knee to smash into its stupid stone face.
Fighting was an art, Tenley’s mother had taught her. There were forms, Katas that could be beautiful when done well, but sometimes you just had to improvise. Life was an ever churning sea of chaos and you never knew what it would throw up next. To win your mind and body needed to be quick. Tenley dangled from the face of the now more furious Rocky trying to shake her off, needing more speed. She spied its huge hand rising to try and grab her, so straightened her arms then catapulted herself over so all it caught was its own head. Twisting in the air, her legs bowed as she touched the wall then launched her right back, Rocky’s jaw swinging sideways as she flew past like a bolt of lightning.
Although Rocky tumbled and rolled like a huge boulder, Tenley wasn’t sure if she was winning. The beast was getting angrier, but she was panting a little while this thing might not pant or sweat at all. So new plan - she needed to improvise a weapon. The only readily available thing were the broken stalagmites. By now, she wasn’t too surprised that she, although an eleven year old girl, was able to lift one nearly as big as her with ease.
Another thing in her favor - Rocky wasn’t very smart. It just kept rushing at her, trying to smash and grab with its long arms. So Tenley waited for it to come at her again and its fist came down she raised the stalagmite so the point pierced Rocky’s palm. The creature recoiled, the tip of Tenley’s makeshift spear breaking off as it fell back. But she wasn’t done. With a run-up she kicked and drove the point further in, Rocky’s roar now a howl of agony. As the stone gorilla limped about on one knuckle, Tenley took another stalagmite as a club with which to take out its other support, bringing Rocky crashing down. All that was left then was to beat its head in.
But Tenley didn’t. She was going to. Rocky was certainly trying to kill her, right? So it made sense - it was her or it. If someone’s trying to kill you, you have the right to kill them back. And anyway, it was just a stupid rock monster. It wouldn’t be troubled by such thoughts were she the one lying helpless. Yet as she stood poised with her club ready to finish this battle, Rocky turned its head to look at her, a pained, plaintiff moan escaping its throat. Perhaps she thought she’d lain helpless after her mother’s brutal training. Perhaps she shouldn’t have given this stupid rock monster a name. In any case, the decision was then taken out of her hands by an arrow piercing Rocky’s skull, silencing the creature for good.
Titania stood on a huge leaf attached to a vine that slithered down the shaft Tenley had fallen down, handing a bow to Lilian and taking back the big red flower she seemed to love so much. “If you spare these creatures,” The Queen stated, “they only return in greater numbers.” The leaf touched the ground, Titania stepping off, twirling her flower-umbrella, skin pulsing and rippling as she approached Tenley. “You who seek justice - would you show mercy to your mother’s killers?”
Tenley dropped her club, eyes heavy even as the muscles in her tensed. “No,” it was very clear now. If an animal killed another that was survival, not murder. But for a human to do that, knowing the pain it caused and thinking they could get away with it - they could not be allowed to. “They’re monsters.”
Titania’s lips curled. Lilian stood at attention just behind her. “Suppose someone will have to clean up this mess,” Ella snorted as she inspected the fallen beast. Tenley tightened her fist. Ella… “Worthless sack of roc-”
Ella spun like a top, Tenley’s hand cracking across her jaw. The smaller girl then pounced, pinning Ella down. “Die a million deaths!” Tenley hissed as she rained fists, “I ought to rip out your dumb blonde hair and stuff it down your throat, then pull it out along with all your guts,” she launched into a litany of any nasty thing she could think to do, as Titania may have rolled her eyes (hard to tell since she had no whites), saying with a matronly sigh:
“Honestly. You girls…”
But Ella was only stunned. With a feral growl she shoved Tenley off, pushing the girl back across the cave, wincing again as she collided with the stone. As Tenley detached herself from the wall, collapsing to one knee, Ella wiped the spit from her lips and held out a palm facing up. With a snap of her fingers a ball of orange flame burst from Ella’s hand, turning blue as she pulled her arm back to charge at the girl. You never knew what life would throw up next. So now it was magic. A few days ago, Tenley might have been surprised. There was no point in that anymore, so instead she rushed forward to meet Ella half-way.
Before battle could be joined a wave of power rose between them, then split, extinguishing Ella’s flame and sweeping both her and Tenley back the way they’d come. “That is enough fighting for today,” Titania warned. She glared at Ella, “you should not have thrown her. And you,” she turned to Tenley as picked herself up, “save your anger. My eyes and ears will have found your mother’s killers soon.”
Titania’s skin had ceased pulsing, Tenley’s rage subsiding with it. A little. Enough that she could stand on the leaf with The Queen, Lilian, and Ella, with no further incident. “A Changeling without dignity is never pretty,” Titania mused as the vine lifted them. “Chin-up, both of you. Smile. I shan’t be sending any of you into the world if you’re going to make a show of us.” The leaf deposited them - not in the throne room, but another corridor partially illuminated by the iridescent mushrooms. “For now we have time to kill. Feel free to explore, but don’t go beyond any red crystals. Everything past those points will eat you - and I do mean everything. I shall summon you when I have news.”
Tenley watched the other three walk away before surveying her own options. In front of her was a long dark corridor. To her right was a long dark corridor. Guess what was to her left? Was it a lute? She’d only ever heard them in video games, but yes - that sounded like a lute echoing down a long dark corridor. That way then.
There was a tree in the room at the end, and on one thick branch lay a man. He wore several layers of dirty patched coats, a frayed scarf, and had white hair with a beard curling from his chin. If a goat were magically transformed into man, it would look like him. For all Tenley knew that’s exactly what happened. “Who are you?” She asked.
The goat-man stopped his lute playing to peer at her a moment before putting the instrument aside to hop down. “Well you’re new,” he said, holding a monocle to his eye like examining some antique or other curiosity. “And, you are still you, aren’t you?”
Tenley peered back, “who else would I be?”
“Some of the others, when they start to feel everything they don’t stop screaming. So Titania gets in their heads and makes it so they can’t feel anything. She always gets in your head, one way or another.”
He sounded slightly German, Tenley thought, although it was again something she’d only ever heard in games and movies. She had no difficulty understanding his words but still wasn’t sure what he was saying. “What are you talking about?” She asked.
“You’ll figure it out, You,” he said, straightening his back while pocketing the monocle.
“Tenley. And you didn’t say your name.”
“Ah! Forgive me, lady,” goat-man then said with a flourish and bow, “Klaus. Sir Klaus Ragin. Scholar, Bard, and Knight of the Realm.”
Tenley couldn’t help but smirk a little, “you’re a knight?”
“Of course I’m a knight! Look! I have a sword and everything,” he skipped around the tree trunk, returning with a longsword in hand. “See? A sword doesn’t lie.” He presented it to her with another flourish.
“A sword doesn’t tell the truth either,” Tenley gently with one finger made sure the blade pointed away from her. “A sword is just a sword.”
“Just a sword!?” Klaus gasped in mock-horror, plunging the tip of the sword in the ground so it stood upright on its own. “No such thing as just a sword. A sword is a symbol of courage, justice, and honor.”
“Yeah, well, I never like games where the sword talks. It’s too cruel - giving feelings to something that only exists to kill. It would go mad in a prison like that.”
“A sword can save lives. Defend as well as attack,” Klaus folded his arms and lent on the tree trunk, scrutinizing the dark haired girl before him. “The question is, young Tenley, what kind of sword are you?”
Tenley squinted with one eye while raising the opposite black eyebrow. “Are you okay? You can see I’m a girl, right? Not a sword.”
“The other girls here - they’re all tools or weapons. Lilian is a loyal puppy. Ella is - well, Ella is a bully, but useful if pointed in the right direction I suppose. So why did she bring you here?”
The bit about Ella was certainly true. ‘She’ was obviously Titania, and Tenley really didn’t care what her reasons were - what mattered was she strong now. Stronger than Phaedra could ever have dreamed. Tenley explained, “she promised me my mother’s killers.”
“Oh,” there was a long pause, during which Klaus produced a whiskey flask, Tenley’s nose instinctively flinching in revulsion of the unmistakable whiff of alcohol. That was much stronger as well - another thing she’d have to get used to. “I had a mother once,” Klaus said, “So long ago. It’s hard to remember…” His face scrunched from the effort, then gave up. “But, you must have loved yours very much.”
“I-I…” Tenley shuffled and fidgeted guiltily. She did. Of course she did. She was her mother. But it was complicated.
“You didn’t like her?” Klaus answered for her, Tenley eyes flashing angrily at him but then lowering in acceptance. “I could speak seven languages once as well, including sad child. And you’re one of the saddest I’ve ever seen.”
“I don’t think she liked me,” Tenley admitted. “Mother was never kind, or loving. Some days she would fill my backpack with bricks and make me run through obstacles while firing paint-balls at me. But she was… she was mine.”
“We don’t get to choose our parents. But are you sure she was never kind?” Klaus asked, Tenley responding just by arching an eyebrow so along with her nose and mouth it formed a question mark. “I mean, how often did the paint-balls hit?”
Not too often, Tenley supposed. Certainly her mother’s aim had been a lot better when shooting other targets. But it didn’t matter now, did it? She didn’t know why she was bothering to talk about it. “What about you?” She switched. “Why are you here?”
“Well - I lied,” Klaus confessed, “I’ve never been knighted. I dreamed about it; knights and castles and machicolations. All I dreamed about as a boy. Then, once upon a time, there was a princess in a dungeon. So of course, I had to try and rescue her. Now the princess is a queen and I’m the one that’s trapped.” Klaus shook his little flask, amber liquid sloshing inside as he proffered it to Tenley. “Drink?” He asked. He was obviously mad. “I realize you’re a little young, but it doesn’t actually affect us anyway,” he explained, taking a swig. “It’s a pity.”
“I tried some of mother’s drink once. It tasted terrible. I don’t get why adults are so obsessed with that stuff.”
“True - we don’t really drink for the taste.”
“So why bother? You just said it didn’t affect you.”
“Habit, I suppose. Memory,” as Klaus drank a boy padded into the room clothed in only a white silken tunic. About Tenley’s age, but there was something off - his face blank and emotionless as he bowed. She gets in their heads and makes it so they can’t feel anything, Klaus had said. It was probably kind, wasn’t it? Tenley wished sometimes that she didn’t have to feel.
“Titania’s eyes and ears,” Klaus said, raising his flask to the newcomer. “People, birds, bugs - anything she can infect, she can see through. That’s how she’ll find your mother’s killers. I think you’re being summoned.”
She had said she would, although Tenley wasn’t expecting it so soon. She moved to go with the boy, Klaus asking before she left, “are you certain revenge is what you want?”
“I want justice,” Tenley assured him, and left.Klaus unstuck his sword, swooshing it up so it vibrated and sang into his ear. “She isn’t a monster yet,” he said to it, then had more drink. “It’s a pity.”
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cutegirlmayra · a year ago
If you are taking fan fiction requests, can you write a story about Sonic will be injured when protecting Amy, Amy will take care of him. She will calm him down. Thank you. 😄✌️
I’d be happy to oblige ^^
PROMPTS ARE ON SHUTDOWN! Don’t send any in till I post the grand announcement, okay?
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(Thank you to @aadoodledoodle (x) For her Preview Image to this prompt! It’s perfect for this story, you’re the best! -If you’d like to have your art featured as a Preview Image, please feel free to submit your artwork with a link for your credit! I’m excited to have more images to use for my prompts, and to show off your amazing artworks to the world!)
‘This doesn’t look so good…’
Sonic squinted his eye open, trying to feel the heavy breath pump his blood through him for added strength. He held one hand tightly on his bent knee, trying to remain standing.
‘Doesn’t feel so hot either…’
Metal Sonic had set the whole place up to blow, but with such a deep cut in Sonic’s chest, there was no way he could run through the pain and find it in time. ‘If I knew where it was… that might help, but at this point…’
Metal Sonic readied himself, sharpening his blade-fingers before a loud cry sounded out.
“Wha..? Amy?!” Sonic fell back, watching her fall from the top of the broken pillars and slam into Metal Sonic. “Ah!” he looked at his large gash across his chest, and quickly tried to hide it with his hands, smiling weakly as to disguise the true pain he was going through.
“Right on time.” He tried to sound fine, coming up with his best charming tone and line, but sadly… he still looked pretty beat up.
‘How do I play this off so she won’t be worried about me? I got to keep my composure…’
Amy continued to fight but Metal Sonic just flew up into the air, showing the ticking clock in his hand,… the bomb would go off soon.
He flew off, as Amy sighed and quickly dropped her hammer to rush to Sonic.
“Sonic! I’m so glad I found you, what happened?!”
“N-n…” He wanted to say ‘nothing’ but didn’t feel like lying. ‘A small fib wouldn’t hurt.’ he decided instead. “Never you mind me, where’s that bomb?”
“Bomb?!” Amy’s eyes widened, “Y-you let me deal with that, just get out of here, okay? Here,…” Gently, a little too sweetly, she began to loop her arms around his waist.
Sonic twitched, worried that if he made a sound, it would call out his bluffing. “Th-that’s okay, I’ll be fine, Amy… I can help-” before he could finish, Amy lifted him up.
The pain caught his breath and left his mouth open, no sound escaped but his eyes shook as his spine seemed to carry the weight of his body up like an escalator straight to his brain. He couldn’t handle being on his feet.
For the first few seconds, he almost lost consciousness, and his full weight fell into Amy.
“S-Sonic!” Her eyes now scanned his legs, wondering why he couldn’t stand. Her grip became tight in her panic at his sudden limpness and finally–
“Ahh!” He let out a sharp cry.
“What?!” Amy draped him over her shoulder, lightly bending her knees to let him lean on her as he regained his consciousness.
‘I… I can’t walk.’ Sonic’s eyes shook in fear. ‘A…Amy…’ he put his arms, quivering, around her.
Amy felt the sudden tight pull and straightened out, ‘What’s happening? Is he okay? Why can’t he stand..?’ she looked to the side of herself, trying to see his face but couldn’t.
She saw that his hands had moved from his chest and realized that he was severely injured.
“Sonic…” Her breath almost felt like a warm plea. Don’t die… Don’t die…
“Sonic, look at me!” She suddenly found a strength course through her, unimaginably blocking out her own fear.
He slightly lifted his head.
“You’re going to be alright! I’ve got to get you out of here. If this place blows, it blows! Nothing can destroy a Chaos Emerald, right? It’ll just be flung in the explosion.” She knew they needed that last emerald… but if Sonic couldn’t even stand, how was he to become Super Sonic?
Then again, if he was Super Sonic, he might rapidly heal…
‘I’ve gotta found that emerald… It’s Sonic’s best chance.’ She took a deep breath and began to sling Sonic over her, carrying him like a soldier in war.
Sonic’s pride was abolished in that instant, but it was replaced by an even deeper feeling of comfort.
As his vision blurred, the pain jumping with the bounce of her footfalls, he was quickly reminded of a small but tough little girl he once met so many years ago.
“I can help too! I-If you want me too… One day, Sonic! I’ll repay you ten-fold! Then you’ll have no choice but to marry me!”
He found himself falling deeper into that memory, “Amy…” his eyes drooped, he was losing too much blood. “You’ve grown up… so fast…” he closed his eyes, his head falling down and his body turning into a ragdoll in Amy’s grip.
“Hang on, Sonic!” Amy called back, moving through the debris as the whole building began to shake as though experiencing an earthquake.
Outside, Metal Sonic had his arms folded. He was standing on a sturdy tree branch and checked the clock in his hand. 00:30… seconds away from destroying his arch-rival.
“Sonic,… Sonic, wake up!” the frantic voice had Sonic’s eyes blink open. “Oh good! I’m glad you’re back, at least… somewhat.” She tapped his face, and he could tell by the night sky that only a little time had passed. The building was still there… Amy was still there… Amy…
He loopily blinked his eyes, trying to focus them, but he couldn’t exactly see her. There were many versions of her, and his hands weakly moved up to try and feel where she really was.
“Amy… Amy, where are we..?”
“Outside the base.” Immediately, as though reflex, Amy gripped his grasping hands to let him know she was there. “I promised, didn’t I? For all the times you’ve helped me out, I would help you too.”
“Heh…” He smiled, “I remember… It’s weird, I haven’t seen you like this… not sense… sense…” his eyes began to get tried again. “I swear, I’m not this unreliable.”
She chuckled through her tears, placing his hand against her cheek, “You’re not anything but perfect, Sonic. Stop that. You’re hurt. There’s nothing you could have done about it.”
“I’m reckless, Amy… But what about Metal? The Emerald..?” He felt some strength, pushing up off the ground somewhat.
“You don’t know?” Amy blinked, amazed.
“Know… what?” he suddenly looked to his arm.
Then his body…
The gash…
He was glowing bright yellow.
Amy giggled through her exhaustion, lowering her head before smiling up at him again, “You’re in your super form, Sonic… I got the emerald.”
The building exploded.
In an effort to regain himself, and return the favor, Sonic instinctively wrapped his arms around Amy.
A burst of Chaos energy shielded them from the blast, but as the light faded and the embers flared, Amy was shocked to see that he was still holding her firmly, his face serious and angled in a powerful dedication to keep her safe.
“S…Sonic! That was-!” she was about to dote on him but noticed his super form fading. “Sonic… Sonic, wait-!” She felt his arms fall and his body sway to the side. “No!!!” she grabbed him, shaking him as he returned to his normal form.
The gash was healed, but even with Chaos Energy, his natural strength couldn’t control how much chaos energy he used. “Sonic!!!”
Metal Sonic landed behind the two, watching the scene as he revved up his engine.
Amy looked behind her, holding Sonic still and glaring to Metal Sonic. “Don’t you have a heart!?” her mercy cry didn’t faze him.
He threw back his hand, ready for a showdown.
“I won’t let you hurt him…” She held him tighter, “You’re gonna have to get through me first!”
Without hesitating, Metal Sonic dashed forward and went to strike right through her to get to Sonic…
But Sonic smirked, opening his eyes.
“Thank you… for still letting me feel like your hero, Amy.” He pushed her forcefully aside to the ground as he swung a fist to Metal Sonic.
“Ahh! Sonic! No!” Amy rolled to the ground…
The last thing Sonic remembered was having a sharp pain in his chest again but also seeing Metal Sonic’s head fly off his body at his own impact.
His fist hurt… but not as badly as the numbing from all over his body at the chest pain.
His heart didn’t seem to beat as fast as usual.
Sonic also now felt surrounded in water… strange.
He blinked his eyes open, but the water blurred his vision and stung a little, so he tried to bat his arms about to get out, but his head bumped the top of the machine.
“H…Huh?” His voice sounded muffled. He tried to touch his mouth but something was in it’s way… a life mask?
He breathed in and out, even though he was surrounded by water, oxygen was still being pumped through him, and his muzzle was completely dry under the mask.
He put his hands to the clear cylinder and looked around. ‘Where am I? This doesn’t look like Tails’s place…’ then he looked down.
Surprise, Surprise…
Sonic smiled.
Amy was on her knees, her hands bundled together and up in a prayer with her eyes diligently closed in respect for whatever higher power she may have been begging with.
He felt–not pain–but adoration for her then. He knocked lightly on the clear glass, “Amy… Amy, look up.”
When she heard the banging, she wiped some tears from her eyes and gaped at him. “Sonic! You’re awake!”
He winked and gave her a thumbs-up, “I’m okay.”
She jumped to her feet and ran to the glass, placing her own hands up to match where his were, “They said you might not make it, but I knew, I knew you would!”
That feeling sank deeper in Sonic, soaring a relaxing feeling throughout his weary body… Amy… She really had grown up to be an amazing young woman.
He was listening to her, but most of his attention was on her lively eyes, glossy from previous worry, but filled with absolute, undeniable love in them.
“I waited here for you. So did Tails and Knuckles, Cream and Vanilla, we all were right here waiting for you! They said it might take days or weeks, but it’s only been a day and a night! I knew you’d pull through!”
He lightly moved his head to the edge of the glass, ‘Amy…’ her words weren’t the only thing comforting him, but her actions were healing him too.
She was smiling. She believed in him. Her whole body was jittery at his presence and she was moving from foot to foot, eager to embrace him, he supposed.
She turned her head to embrace the glass, “I’m glad… I’m so glad I could help you. You saved me again though… I guess my debt is never to be repaid enough.” she wiggled her head against the glass, as though nuzzling her affections through it to reach his heart. As her head swayed around, rubbing the glass, Sonic noted the wagging tail and grinned even more.
He then leaned his head further against the glass, “So you’re alright, then? My heroine?”
She suddenly blinked at the strange term and moved a little back, looking at him clearly now. “Your..?”
He gave her a kind look, “Well, you don’t think I’m not grateful, do you?”
“Oh!” she jumped right up, “No-no-no, of course not! B-but I’m usually the one who’s thanking you…”
“Nah, I always appreciate everything you do for me, Amy. Even if it’s a bit excessive, just seeing you happy and alive like this… it’s enough to make me want to say it too.” He beamed, bubbles coming out from the clear oxygen mask to spray around the healing water container he was currently bobbing in.
“Say… what again?” she tilted her head, blushing.
“Pfft! Oh no!” Sonic leaned away from the glass, “You’re really gonna ask me to say it again? No way!” he shook his head, before feeling a tinge of pain and playing it off, just rubbing his neck. “Ouch… that’s cruel.” he pretended he was acting as though Amy’s antics were painful to bear, but it only made Amy giggle and smile brighter.
“Hey, is that a rosy cheek?” He tapped where her cheeks were, “I’d better watch out, if I keep making you smile like this, your cheeks may hurt and forever be stained red!”
“Oh, you!” she patted the glass, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!!” she covered her face, turning her body back and forth like the lovesick girl he always knew.
“That easy, huh?” He muttered to himself, but he seemed to enjoy the exchange. “So? Metal me blasted?”
“Yep!” she hopped back from the glass.
This… made Sonic swim–to the best of his abilities–up against the glass again to see her. “And the Chaos Emeralds?”
“Safely back on Angel Island!” she swayed her body, still swooning at his eyes on her.
“…And I can see that your rascal nature hasn’t changed.” he flirted slightly, seeing her tail more vividly now that she was turning away from him. “Tell me, which moves faster? My feet or your tail..?”
“AH!” she slapped her hands to her butt to block the view of her tail and turned around with a face brighter than a tomato, “Scoundrel!” she teased, “Quit looking there!!!”
It hurt to laugh, but also felt so… so good!
“Hahaha! Never change, Amy!” he felt his body sink down a little in the cylinder before Amy stomped right back up to him.
“You need to be careful, you silly hedgehog… Hmph! The Doctors here at G.U.N say that you’ll need to make a full recovery before-”
“I think I want to see it up close…” He smirked, his eyes darting up to her in a playful threat.
“…H-HUH!?” She fidgeted a moment before realizing he was about to-…
“S-Sonic! H-hold on a second! This isn’t-! Ahhh!!!” She at first tried to persuade him otherwise but seeing him angle his feet to the back of the cylinder… she knew his mind was already made up. She waved her arms out and then finally bolted as he spin dashed through the observation glass, dehooking himself from the machine, and spinning the oxygen mask off of himself.
Water sprayed everywhere as Amy jumped out of the way, before looking up through her hands to see him stretch out his body, fighting through any lingering pain and getting his muscles back into shape.
“Now then…” after a few more stretches, he playfully smiled to her, “How should I repay my darling hero..?”
“You’re… You’re teasing me and I don’t like it!” she shook her legs out and got up on her feet, trying to scurry away, “I knew you would beat everyone’s expectations but I didn’t think you’d beat out my own!” she admitted, still blushing as Sonic laughed.
‘She thinks I’m serious, doesn’t she?’ the innocence of that notion left Sonic utterly moved by her affections for him. He gripped his heart in a teasing fashion, ‘She’s still as cute as ever, but I’m sorry, Amy. It’s only an act.’ He sped off in a different direction…
However, while searching for a way out, spooking some G.U.N soldiers along the way, he noticed the whole place was a maze…
When finding Amy, he would nip at her dress, as though still giving her the illusion he was after her… Though she safe-guarded her tail every time, he thought it endearing that she really thought he was after her…
‘I’ll have to remember that…’ Sonic mused to himself, ‘How to make Amy really happy after saving my life? Give the girl a scare for a bit. After all,’ he flicked his nose, feeling something delightful stir in his heart.
‘I do owe her an unrepayable debt.’
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