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#learn to catch fish
i learned that Michael Jordan’s fishing team caught a 442lb Blue Marlin in a $3 million fishing tournament (x)
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sockablock · 3 years ago
(WELP I spent all day writing this, Campaign 1 Soulmate AU, where your soulmate’s last words to you are written on your arm, I’m sorry in advance for any sadness or emotions, MAJOR C1 spoilers below, read on AO3, enjoy!)
Their Last Words Are With Us
“They’re your soulmarks, dears,” their mother explained, kneeling by the side of the clear-running stream and running water over their tiny arms. “They’re special words that your soulmate will say to you, one day.”
“Soulmate?” Vax echoed as his sister inspected the faint scrawling on her arm. “What’s that?”
“Somebody very important to you,” Elaina said. “Someone who was meant to be by your side, always. As a friend, or as a wife or husband, who will always be there for you.”
“Like Vax?” Vex asked. “Is he mine?”
“Perhaps, dearest.”
“Who’s yours?” Vax asked. “Is it dad? Do you have his words?”
Elaina only hesitated slightly before smiling and saying, “It’s possible, dear. You never really know who the words belong to, until you do.”
Vax frowned slightly at that. “Huh?”
Vex held her arm out for her mother. “What do mine say, Mum?”
Elaina did not answer, instead grinned and poured water over both of the twins’ heads, distracting them and sending them into a fit of giggles and splashing.
Then she finished their baths, wrapped them up in the same old fabrics she always used, and led them back, one holding each hand, to their small home in Byroden.
Vex’ahlia and Vax’ildan learned many things as they grew older. They learned to mend holes in shirts and how to thread a seam that would not show. They learned to coax seeds into the earth and when to water the tomatoes and how to strip away the potato skins and the names of the farmers and hunters that kindly stopped by to bring meat and grains to their small family. They learned, through trial and error, to strike stones together until sparks flew and to sprinkle dry grass and small twigs over the logs in the stone-lined pit to keep the flames going. They learned the names of the birds that lingered in the trees and dotted the fields. They learned to catch fish, giggling madly and stomping through the river the whole time, from the patient, grey-haired man that lived a few homes down. They learned to watch the clouds for rain, to bundle close to each other when the snow came, to stay brave during thunder and to drink in the sunlight under a sky that always felt like home.
But they did not learn to read. In their small, dirt-dusted, seldom-travelled village, living with their mother in a simple, one-room shack, there was no need. And with no way to know what their soulmarks said, eventually the bright curiosity faded away into occasional cursory glances, with the firm knowledge that, wherever it may be, their soulmates were out there somewhere. They were loved, and meant to be loved. And for the twins, raven-haired children gleefully running barefoot through the grass, as their mother looked on, that was enough.
“Elaina never gave you any schooling at all?”
Syldor—their father—stood behind the beautifully-carved desk in his office, all high-windows and plush carpeting, rich green curtains pulled aside to reveal a gorgeous view of the bustling streets of Syngorn below. Warm light flooded into the room, and the sun shone brightly, but the temperature was cold under his icy tone, laced with disgust and disappointment.
They wanted to go home.
“She taught us a lot of things,” started Vax, “like how to count and how to sing and when to plant the—”
Syldor held up a hand, and Vax went silent. “But no arithmetic, no history, no geography, no etiquette?”
“No, father,” said Vex.
“Do you know how to read?”
The twins exchanged glances.
“No, father,” Vex said again.
He rubbed his temples with his thumbs. “Then you’ll start with private tutors, until you’ve caught up to your peers. I can’t have you interacting with other children until you have. This is ridiculous.”
“A Treatise on the Advancement of Elven Culture,” read Vex, clearly enunciating her syllables. “Written by Onvyr Zalim, Senior Scholar of the Lyceum, 549 P.D.”
“Good,” said her tutor, nodding his head. “Your father will be pleased to hear of your progress. Now, here is the copy in Elvish, I want you to have read through this one by tomorrow, and we shall compare the two for quality.”
“You know what it says now, right?” Vax asked one night after sneaking down the hall to his sister’s room and climbing onto the bed with her. “You’ve looked at it now, right?”
She nodded her head. Her eyes gleamed with excitement.
“Want to trade?” Vax asked. “You can read mine if I can read yours.”
“You’re in mine, I think,” she grinned, rolling up her sleeve. “Look.”
Vax pulled his arm free as well and brought it closer to his sister.
Under the moonlight, the curls of text across pale skin almost seemed to glow.
Vex grinned. “Aw, Scrawny, that’s so sweet.”
Vax tapped his sister’s arm. “Yours is as well,” he said, “but is it weird that they mention me too?”
Vex shrugged. “I plan on you bring a big part of my life, brother. I don’t think that’s strange at all. Maybe in the future you’ll be friends with them.”
“I’d better be,” grinned Vax. “Otherwise you’ve got to change soulmates.”
She rolled her eyes and shoved him out of the bed, and he lay on the floor giggling for some time before picking himself up.
“Good night, sister,” he smiled. “Don’t let the elves bite.”
She stuck her tongue out at him.
They were dining together tonight, Syldor seated at the head of the table and the twins at his left and right, across from one another. He was pleased at their academic progress, he said, even surprised at how quickly they were learning. They tried not to take offense at that, even when he added, with stomach-curdling self-satisfaction, that it must have been his blood finally showing itself in the twins.
After that, the table grew relatively silent, until Vex steeled herself and took a deep breath.
“Father,” she asked tentatively, “do you have a soulmark?”
He was silent for a moment. Then he gave a slight nod. “I do.”
“Could we know what it says?” she asked. “Is it…is it words our mother said to you?”
He sighed deeply. “I doubt it, Vex’ahlia. She never spoke elvish to me before. And, regardless, I would not know if they belonged to her until I died.”
Vax inhaled sharply, almost choking on his dinner. “What?” he asked. “What does that mean, father?”
Syldor put his fork down and gave both twins an incredulous look. “Did Elaina teach you nothing?”
They bristled at that comment, a common one in this household. Vax’s grip on his knife tightened.
Under the table, Vex kicked her brother and shook her head.
“No, father,” she said. “What is it?”
He met her curious gaze. “Soulmarks are words your fated will speak to you, you both know that, correct?”
They nodded.
“Do you know when those words will be spoken?”
Vax collapsed onto the mattress next to his sister.
“It doesn’t have to mean that,” he said sternly. “Maybe they didn’t know it would be…it would be the end, and something happened on their way to see me.”
Vex sniffled, and wiped at the edges of her eyes. “I don’t think so, Vax. I’m…I think it does mean—”
He shook his head adamantly. “No way,” he said. “Not possible.”
Then he pressed his forehead to hers and said, “I promise, that’s not it. We’re going to get old and grey together, and we’ll always be the same age except I’m still gonna be two minutes older. That’s that, alright?”
Vex sniffed again, and tried for a smile. “Alright, brother. Alright.”
After he left, she traced the scrawl on her arm with her finger.
I love you too, Vex’ahlia. I’ll tell your brother you said hello.
One of the girls scoffed, her nose flaring and prim lips forming a smirk, and Vex instantly pulled her sleeve down.
“It’s not even in elvish,” the girl laughed, turning to the others. “I bet your soulmate isn’t even an elf.”
“They are,” Vex said defensively, cheeks coloring, “They are.”
“I bet he’s probably some stupid round-ear, from that dinky little town you grew up in,” giggled another. “I bet he’s poor and ugly.”
“Of course he’d be ugly,” said another, “if he’s a human.”
Vex fought for something to say. And when nothing came, she got up from the stone bench and ran to find her brother.
“Humans’re better anyway,” said Vax loyally, hand rubbing soothing circles on her back. “Who’d want a stuffy, boring, dumb elf for a soulmate?”
They sat on one of the rooftops of the market district, watching people far below mill about under the colorful tent-tops and hanging flags and draped silks that adorned the streets. From this far up, they all looked like ants.
Vex nodded. “You’re right,” she said. “I hate this stupid city. I wish I could get out and run away and we could find our soulmates together.”
“Maybe they’ll be half-elves like us,” Vax suggested. “Maybe they’ll hate their dads just as much.”
Vex smiled. “I don’t think anyone could hate their dad as much as we do.”
He laughed. “You’re right, Stubby. That’s a good point.” Then he reached into his pocket and pulled out a carefully-wrapped square, that instantly filled the air with a warm, sweet smell.
“Look what I stole today,” he said. “Here, try some, I got it for us to share.”
Vex came back from the forest with leaves in her hair, mud on her boots.
“I’ve found the perfect path,” she said excitedly. “Did you get the weapons?”
Vax stepped away from the bed, revealing a polished wooden bow and a set of daggers. “Teachers didn’t see a thing,” he grinned, then held up a small leather pouch, jingling softly. “And Syldor didn’t see me slip into that dumb office of his either.”
She stifled a laugh. “Great. I can’t wait to get out of this fucking place.”
He picked up a dagger. “You’re in charge now, Stubby,” he said. “I don’t remember shit about living in the woods.”
Years passed. Vox Machina, formerly known as the S.H.I.T.S., sat around a campfire somewhere on the outskirts of Whitestone, just because they could. Tomorrow they would head back to Emon, after receiving news that Sovereign Uriel would be giving an important speech in the Cloudtop District for all to attend. But, for tonight, they were camping out in the northeastern woods, just because they could.
“Even though we have a perfectly good castle, just a few miles away,” Scanlan added as he plucked idly at his lute. “Even though Percy is the Lord of Whitestone, and we just finished freeing the town from subjugation and we’re huge heroes.”
“I needed time away from there for a bit,” Percy sighed, leaning against a log. “It was too much, all at once.”
“I was only there at the end,” agreed Pike, glowing slightly in her astral form, “but it seemed pretty intense.”
“I like sleeping outside,” Grog said. “Beds never fit me right.”
“If I could make a mansion,” Scanlan grinned, waving his hands around, “I’d make you the biggest room imaginable, with the biggest bed there was. Well, maybe second-biggest room, and second-biggest bed.”
“Thanks, Scanlan.”
Keyleth idly let flames curl around her fingers, and every once in a while, would flick a spark towards the campfire. “It’s nice not having to go anywhere and do anything,” she said cheerfully. “And it’s always good to be in nature.”
Vax nodded. He was giving her small, sideways glances that Vex, perceptive as ever, absolutely noticed. A bit of inspiration hit her.
“Hey,” she said, “we’ve all known each other for a while, right?”
They all exchanged looks.
“Yes?” Scanlan agreed. “That’s true.”
She grinned enthusiastically. “So, you know what would be fun? Why don’t we all tell each other what our soulmarks say? Wouldn’t that be interesting?”
“Er…why?” Vax asked. “Why would we do that?”
Vex rolled her eyes. “We’re like a family now! And it would a good way to learn more about each other! Of course, we don’t have to if we don’t want to.”
Keyleth shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t know, Vex. Those…those are the last words your soulmate will say to you. Isn’t…isn’t that kind of personal?”
Pike nodded, and now Scanlan’s eyes turned to her.
Vex’s shoulders sagged. “Alright,” she sighed. “It was just a suggestion. Sorry.”
“It’s alright,” said Percy quickly. “Perhaps some other time? We’re all a bit worn out from the whole…rebellion, and all.” And then, with a small spark of hope at the edge of his tone, he added, “But really. Some…some other time might be nice.”
“I don’t know what mine says,” shrugged Grog from his spot on the log next to Pike. “Can’t read.”
There was a brief silence, as they digested that. Both Vex and Vax felt an odd ping of kinship.
“Do you want someone to read it for you?” Keyleth asked. “Is it in Common?”
He shook his head. “Nope, ‘s in Giant.”
Pike smiled and gave him a pat on the arm. “I’ve asked before too,” she said. “He’d rather not know.”
“Goliaths don’t really care about that sort of thing,” he said. “As long as you’ve got your herd or…or your family, or whatever, it doesn’t matter. You need more than one person in your life, right? There’s always gonna be a lotta people important to you, right? So who cares if one of them is there ‘cause of fate, and destiny and stuff. Sure, they’re special, or whatever, but they’re not the only ones.”
Another moment of silence.
“Well,” said Scanlan, leaning over and giving Grog a pat on the knee, “again, somehow, you’ve proved you’re the wisest of us all, and I’m not even sure you realize why.”
The hulking barbarian grinned back at him. “It’s m’ charm,” he said matter-of-factly. “I’m just amazing.”
A few hours later, the girls sat together on the ground in Vex’s tent.
“I just really didn’t want to do it with the guys around,” Keyleth said sheepishly. “But I want to show you two. If…if you both want to also.”
“I do,” said Pike. “Definitely.”
“Same here,” grinned Vex. “Ready?”
They both nodded, and as one, all three pulled their sleeves up and brought their arms together.
There was a pause, as they all read one another’s marks.
Pike spoke first. “That’s…very sweet, Vex.” She smiled, though it didn’t quite reach her eyes. “Have you shown it to your brother before?”
She nodded. “But don’t worry,” she added quickly, “it’s not anything to worry about. We made a promise to one another, you know? We’ll be together always.”
Keyleth gave her painfully optimistic pat on the shoulder. “Of course,” she agreed. “And besides, we’ve got the best cleric in the world. She’ll always heal us.”
Pike’s smile grew cheeky, and she stuck her thumb out. “Definitely,” she said.
Vex grinned, and looked back at the writing on Pike’s arm. “Well, at least we know one thing, now.”
“Oh?” Keyleth asked.
“Yes! We know that Pike’s soulmate definitely isn’t Scanlan. If it was, darling, you’d have a novella on your arm. Not just a sentence.”
Pike laughed. “That’s a good point,” she said. “It’d probably cover my whole body, if it were him.”
“Our lives are fucking awful,” Vax sighed as his fingers worked through his sister’s hair. On the ground next to them rested three bright blue feathers.
“At least we are alive,” Vex pointed out. “Unlike…unlike a lot of people back h—in Emon.”
“I was starting to think of it as home too,” he said softly. “It’s…it’s been a long time since we’ve had somewhere to call home. And now it’s gone.”
Vex bit her lip. She could feel her brother beginning to sink, and she quickly reached a hand back, and wiggled her fingers. He paused in his braiding, and took it.
“I love you, brother,” she said, staring forwards. “I’m glad you’re here with me.”
A small smile crept across his face. “I love you too, sis. I’m glad you’re here too.”
“This time it’s different. We have each other, and Vox Machina.”
“That’s true,” he said.
“And you’ve got Keyleth, now, don’t you?”
His grip loosened slightly. “I…I’m not sure if I do. She says…she says she loves me, but she’s worried about getting attached. She’s going through a lot right now, and there’s still her Aramente, and now the world is falling apart around us.”
“But she still loves you, right?”
“Well, yes—”
“Are you going to wait for her?”
Vex squeezed his hand. “I’ll be here while you do then,” she said. “And once she sorts herself out and realizes she needs you, I’ll still be here.”
He squeezed back. “Alright,” he said. “Alright.”
She let go, and then grinned and said, “Come now, get back to work. My hair isn’t going to look amazing by itself.”
He laughed, and pulled gently on the braid. “You’re lucky you’re related to me,” he quipped. “Otherwise I’d never help someone as bossy as you.”
“It’s called the Deathwalker’s Ward,” said Vex, pointing to the spot in her journal where she’d written it down. “It’s in some kind of swampy, lake area, near Vasselheim.”
“Great,” sighed Scanlan. “More camping.”
“What happened? I was only down there for thirty seconds—”
“There, there was a trap, the armor was trapped—”
“The healing potion isn’t working, it’s not working—”
“Kashaw, can you do anything—”
“Fuck, fuck, I…”
“Percival, what happened—”
“I-I can bring her back. I can raise the dead.”
Later that night, Percy gazed at the words curling down his arm and thought back to the last thing Vex had said before…before.
She had smiled, radiant despite the gloom and darkness of the underwater tomb. She had been chuckling, not unkindly, at the sight of a surly, halfling woman clambering out from one of the pits.
All good, Kima!
He traced a finger over his skin. Did this mean she wasn’t his soulmate? Or did the words know she wouldn’t have been dead for long? He sighed, and shook his head. He needed to do more research on this.
"I really am sorry, Shaun."
Gilmore gave him a sad smile. "I know you are, Vax'ildan. I am too."
"You are a beautiful, wonderful, hilarious, glorious arcane bastard. You'll find your soulmate, and he will be the most fortunate man in the world."
"Thank you, Vax. I must say, your soulmate is a rather lucky individual as well."
He pulled Gilmore into a hug. "Not as lucky as yours," he assured. "Nowhere near as lucky."
“Percy, have you got any more of those exploding arrows for me?”
“Of course, Lady Vex’ahlia. I always have a supply on hand for my favorite Baroness.”
She grinned. “You flatter me. Am I your favorite only because we killed the rest of Whitestone’s nobility?”
“Well, technically, I suppose. But even if we hadn’t, you’d still be my favorite.”
Vax put his hands in his head and sighed. Next to him, sitting on the bed, Keyleth watched the turmoil storming behind his eyes.
“I know,” he began, “I know with all that’s happened, between my new patron and my sister pretending to gag literally every time we attempt to share a word together, and mostly my own being fucked up in the head for weeks now, that I’ve pushed all of you away. You most of all.”
Then he turned, and met her gaze. There were tears at the corners of his eyes.
“You didn’t deserve any of that. Keyleth, I need you to know, through all of that, everything, nothing has changed about how I…” He trailed off, but then forced himself to continue. “We’ve had so many near-misses. Death is unavoidable. And it’s all the more reason for life to be lived. And it doesn’t matter to me what this is. What we call it. If you are willing to spend some time, any time, with me, then I will simply count myself lucky to have it.”
Keyleth reached over, and took his hand, never breaking eye contact. “It’s…it’s not like I’ve made myself very accessible either,” she admitted. “It’s on both of us. For…for the longest time, I was terrified that I was going to lose you. First to death, and then to the Raven Queen—which is still kind of like death—and then ultimately to yourself.”
Then she took his other hand, and squeezed them both gently. There was a smile creeping across her face. “And then…and then recently, I had an interesting talk with Pike,” Keyleth said, “and she told me something that really stood out to me. It was that some people…just have more of themselves to give. And I realized this whole time that I was afraid of losing you to a future that ultimately has not yet been written, which is stupid.”
“Maybe so,” Vax began softly, but Keyleth shook her head.
“Ultimately, you’re right.” she said firmly. “We have nothing to lose. I love you, Vax. And I’m sorry for being me, that it took me this long to say it.”
Vax sniffled. “I’m sorry,” he said.
Keyleth laughed. There were tears in her eyes. “Yeah. Me too.”
“I love you, though. That’s pretty fucking great.”
She lifted a hand up, still laughing. “That is pretty great, yeah! High five! Yeah!”
And Vax gave her a high five, and then tackled her onto the mattress, now both of them laughing like idiots and grinning madly and giggling every time they accidentally bumped into one another, or clumsily hit elbows together.
And later, that morning, as the light filtered in through their window, they traced the markings on each other’s forearms and smiled.
“I love you, Keyleth of the Air Ashari,” read Vax, and pressed a kiss to her forehead.
She smiled softly, and tapped his arm. “I love you, Vax’ildan. I’ll…” and her voice broke slightly, but she shook her head and continued, “…I’ll see you again.”
“Oh, I love being this high up in the air!”
Vex leaned over the railing of the airship they had chartered, now soaring above the vast expanse of gleaming, deep-blue water far below, the rippling and sparkling surface of the Ozmit Sea.
Percy, standing next to her, smiled. “Is it better than a broom?” he asked.
She turned to face him, and her braid flew behind her in the wind. She glowed in the warm sunlight.
“It is, darling,” she laughed. “I love my broom, but it’s much better.”
Percy nodded, and turned back to look over the railing at the clouds beyond. “I’m going to install an airship port in Whitestone,” he said.
Glintshore came and went, and in the smoking aftermath of the battle—shrapnel scattered across the scorched crater and corpses dotting the landscape and Kynan shaking on the ground and Ripley’s eviscerated flesh painting the dirt crimson—Vox Machina gathered around the limp form of Percival Fredrickstein Von Musel Klossowski De Rolo III, bullet wounds no longer bleeding, breath gone from his chest.
Vax and Pike were the closest, the Champion of Death and the Cleric of Sarenrae carefully examining his body for any possible signs of life, and mulling over the next course of action. Vex and Keyleth watched on, and Scanlan and Grog romped through the background, making sure the hired mercenaries were finished, and giving the rest room to work and to grieve.
Then Vax turned around, and gently asked his sister, “Vex’ahlia, what were your last words to him?”
She blinked, tears still streaming down her face. “I don’t, I don’t know, I don’t remember.”
He tried again. “Did you tell him that you’ll miss him?”
She frowned, confusion beginning to creep in. “No? I, no, I never said that.”
He nodded, and now his expression was firm. “Percy’s not dead for good,” he said adamantly. “Not for good. We’ll be able to bring him back.”
“What makes you—” Scanlan began.
And then realization hit. They all stood in silence for a moment.
“You read it,” breathed Keyleth, and Vax nodded.
“You don’t know for sure,” Vex whispered. “You don’t know for sure.”
“I don’t,” Vax agreed, “but I’m pretty damn certain.”
“Let’s get him into the mansion,” Pike said softly. “We can rest, and get our spells back, and we’ll do the ritual tomorrow.”
“I should have told you. It’s yours.”
“Percival, would you like to see my soulmark?”
Percy blinked a few times, and turned around to face her. Vex’s skin was pale in the moonlight, her eyes anxious but hopeful. He reached for the beside table and pulled his glasses over, and they both shifted into an upright position.
“Do…do you truly wish to show me?” he asked.
She nodded. “I…I think it might belong to you. I want you to.”
He smiled faintly. “You know, I’ve always hoped mine belonged to you as well. Would you…?”
“Yes,” she sighed. “I would.”
They pressed their arms together, words towards the sky.
“I love you, darling,” read Vex softly. “I’ll miss you.”
Percy traced the text on her arm with a gentle finger. “I love you too, Vex’ahlia,” he read. “I’ll…oh. I’ll tell your brother you said hello.”
He met her gaze. “Vex,” he said softly.
She shook her head. “No, no, darling. Believe me, we’ve talked about it plenty before, but no. If anything, you should watch yourself any time you go off to visit him alone, understood?”
He laughed quietly. “Alright, alright. Of course.”
She smiled, and leaned in for a kiss. Their eyes were closed, so neither of them could see the worry written across Percy’s face, or the desperate denial on Vex’s.
“He really is gone,” Pike sighed, looking down at the ground.
Vex put an arm across her shoulder. “He…I know Scanlan will be back,” she said. “I think he just needs time alone.”
“I…I was just starting to think…”
The little gnome shook her head. “Nevermind,” she said. “Never…nevermind.”
“Oh, no,” said Taryon, waving his mug jovially and shaking his head. “No, I’m not doing that again.”
“Alright,” said Grog with a careless shrug. “Alright, fine. That means more ladies for me. You want me to find you a guy, or something?”
Taryon considered this proposal. Then he looked up at the large mountain of a man, eyebrow raised and tattoos dark against his grey skin.
“Do you believe in soulmates?” Tary asked.
Grog’s other eyebrow went up. “What? What does that have to do with anything?”
Tary sighed, and shook his head again. “Nevermind,” he said. “Just…just go have fun for the both of us, how about that?”
Grog grinned. “Yeah,” he agreed. “Yeah, that sounds like somethin’ I could do.”
“Zephra is beautiful in the autumn,” smiled Vax as he watched Keyleth’s hair blow in the breeze. She was standing in a clearing, leaves tumbling around her. “I can’t wait to spend the next hundred autumns here with you.”
She reached out with a hand to where he was sitting in the grass, and pulled him up to join her. “More than a hundred,” she said firmly. “Half-elves live a long time, and we’re retired now, right?”
He laughed, and wrapped his arms around her waist. “Sure, Kiki. Right now, we’re retired.”
"Do any of us actually know how to run a bakery?"
"Didn't you say it's all about getting experience?" Taryon asked. "It's like a new adventure! One that we will all be inexperienced in, at the beginning."
"I can sort of bake," said Pike. "Sort of."
"Most of us, then," Taryon corrected. "Do we have a name, yet?"
“And do you, Vex’ahlia Vessar, take this man to be your husband?”
In the silence of night, with only quiet chirping of crickets and the rustling of the wind through the leaves of the Sun Tree, Keeper Yennen’s voice sang strong and bright.
Vex’ahlia’s heart soared.
“I do.”
One day, a tall, dark-skinned man from Ank’harel came to visit with a lanky, half-orc bard-barian in tow.
Their retirement ended.
There was a knock, so Scanlan fastened his silk, royal-purple robe, put on his most charming smile, and with a flick of his wrist, the door to his room swung open, to reveal Pike.
A million lines, ranging from I don’t remember asking for an angel, to why, isn’t this a pleasant surprise, to oh, I see Ioun has answered my prayers after all, to aren’t I a lucky gnome tonight?
He managed to hold all of them back and instead gave her a small grin. “Hi, Pike. What’s up?”
She closed the door behind her, and took a step forwards.
“Hey, Scanlan. I was wondering if I could ask you a question.”
He raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Well, don’t be a stranger, come and sit down, ask away.” He motioned towards the velvet couch by his fireplace, and they both took a seat.
“Scanlan, what does your soulmark say?”
He balked. This wasn’t exactly unfamiliar territory, since soulmates was a rather rich vein for pickup lines and for hitting on people in bars. But this—seated before a warm fire with Pike sitting not too close, but also not too far away—was nothing he could ever anticipated.
“Uh…well…why do you want to know?”
“I was just wondering,” Pike said with suspiciously carefree nonchalance. “If you don’t want to show me, I totally get it—”
He pulled down the sleeve of his robe, and her eyes instantly trained in on the words.
“It’s gnomish,” she said, slightly surprised.
He shrugged, and gave her a grin. “I’d like to think it’s honoring my humble roots,” he said.
“Can…can I read it out loud?”
“Of course.”
“Stop it, Scanlan. Take all the time you need.”
She bit her lip, and traced the words slowly. It sent a strange tingling up Scanlan’s arm.
“Interesting, isn’t it?” he asked, defaulting in the face of uncertainty to what he knew best: talking. “I mean, I’ve always wondered what I might have said to the other person to get them to respond with that, or what they mean with take all the time you need, but you can never be sure, right? Anyways, I think it’s the universe’s personal laugh that I’ve also got Stop it, Scanlan written on my arm, you’ve got to admit that’s pretty funny…”
He trailed off as Pike stood up.
“Thanks, Scanlan,” she said, slightly strained. “I…I appreciate you showing it to me. I’m going to bed now.”
She started walking out of the room.
“Wait, Pikey, is everything alright? Are…are you alright?”
She turned, just before the door, and gave him a smile. “I’m okay,” she said lightly. "Don’t worry, Scanlan, I’m okay.”
She closed the door behind her, and Scanlan was left staring at the elegant woodwork in the silence. He turned back around, and lay down on the couch. Eventually, tracing his arm where Pike’s finger had been and wondering idly what she had been thinking, he fell asleep next to the crackling fire.
“Are you all ready to go?” Percy asked. “I…I’m not sure what we’ll find on the other end, or how we’ll be getting back.”
“I’m ready,” said Grog. “I wanna go kill those creepy culty fucks.”
Vax grinned. “I agree with the big man,” he said. “They’ve got it coming.”
“Ready,” said Keyleth, gripping the Spire in her hands.
“As I’ll ever be,” said Scanlan, shooting a wink that Pike and Grog, recently apologized to, grinned at.
“Let’s go, darling,” said Vex. “It’s time.”
Vax was dead.
And then he wasn’t.
“I can’t help but hate her,” Keyleth shook her head, face buried in Vax’s chest as they lay together on the bed of their room in Scanlan’s Magnificent Mansion.
“I know,” Vax sighed. “I know.”
“It’s just…It’s just not fair. It’s not fair. You’re my soulmate, Vax. We were only going to have a hundred years together. And now…and now…”
“I know,” he said again, stroking her hair. “I’m sorry.”
“I hate her,” sobbed Keyleth. “I hate her.”
In the other room, down the hall, Vex rubbed at her eyes.
“He’s my brother,” she said.
“Yes,” Percy said back.
“He…if we’re successful, he won’t live past this year.”
“And if we aren’t, the world will end.”
“I want to world to end,” she whispered. “I don’t want to live in a world without him.”
Percy put a hand on her back, and when she began to cry, he pulled her into his arms. “I’m sorry, Vex. I’m sorry.”
“It was right there,” she breathed between sobs, wanting to choke on her own words. “It was right there, in my stupid soulmark. It was right there, all along. He was going to die first. And then…and then you would, and you would see him for me.”
Percy nodded. His own body was starting to shake as well.
“We knew that I wouldn’t live as long as you,” he tried. “I’m human.”
“I know,” she said, “I know. But I wish you weren’t. And I wish Vax wasn’t going to die either.”
“And…And I’m going to miss you. I’ll be gone soon. I don’t even know if we have time. A lot of us could be dead soon, but I’m not offering you this thing, but I’m offering you an experience.”
There was a long pause.
“I don’t know a lot of big words, but I feel like I need a little bit of clar-if-ication.”
“I don’t know if we have time for this, but maybe, for old time’s sake, because I love you and I know you love me and we share this in common—”
“—yep, definitely—”
“—I thought maybe we could prank Scanlan together.”
The day came. And from somewhere within the dark city of Thar Amphala, lurching from the movement of the terrible, enormous body that carried it, they all linked hands and closed their eyes and nodded.
And then they began to climb.
Scanlan, the tiny gnome bard perched up, thousands and thousands of feet in the air, held aloft by nothing but the shimmering, translucent purple form of Bigby’s Hand, made of pure arcana and here by his own force of will, looked up at Vecna, the Ascended as the sickly green swirl of a teleportation spell began to creep around the emaciated, bloodied avatar of the new god.
Scanlan raised a finger, eyes dark and cold. 
“This was going to save Vax,” he said, and fired off a Counterspell that, for once, was not driven by song or dance or laughter—just the enraged sorrow of a bard who had, long ago, buried his mother, nearly just lost his daughter, and soon, all too soon, would lose one of his best friends.
It connected. There was no question there.
And then, finally, Keyleth was handed the tome.
In the distance, the impossibly gargantuan skeleton of the massive titan loomed over the city of Vassalheim, as cheering and shouts of surprised delight burst over the night sky like fireworks. Lanterns were beginning to bloom along the city skyline, and people were coming out of their homes and armies were lowering their weapons as now the news spread like wildfire that finally, finally, the Undying King had fallen.
But Vox Machina were not celebrating.
Vax pressed his forehead to his sister’s and put his hands on her face. Behind him, the silent form of the Raven Queen watched on, unimaginably distant and terrifyingly close, all at the same time.
“I never had a greater friend than you,” he said softly. “And we traveled a lot, but I never had a greater friend than you.”
Vex shook her head, tears hitting the grass below them. “I feel like she’s taking part of me away,” she breathed, a wracking, shaking sob.
He stroked her cheek. “I will bring it with me to remind me of you.”
“I don’t know how to live.”
“I will see you again.”
“I know.”
“I will see you again. And I will tell your mother that you say hello.”
She laughed, a short a humorless laugh. “Please.” and then she sobbed again and said, “I love you. I don’t accept this.”
He nodded. “I know that it’s hard. And I am sorry.”
“I’m going to find you.”
He wrapped her into a hug. And then, after a moment, after one final hand on her back and kiss to her forehead, he pulled away and turned to Keyleth.
The druid walked up to him, and threw her arms around his neck, tears streaming down her face. He pressed his lips to hers, and afterwards whispered, “I’m sorry it’s so cold.”
“I don’t care,” she said. “I don’t accept this. I love you.”
He smiled. “I will never stop loving you.”
“This isn’t fair,” she said.
“I know.”
She looked him in the eye, and her heart broke all over again. “I guess…I guess we have to say goodbye.”
He took her hands, just as she had, all those nights ago, and squeezed them gently. “For now,” he agreed. “I love you, Keyleth of the Air Ashari.”
She stole one final kiss, and murmured back, “I love you, Vax'ildan. I’ll see you again.”
After what felt like the lifetime they would not have, he pulled away, and took a breath he did not need, and began to walk towards the dark cloak of the Raven Queen. With each step, tiny flowers began curling around his feet, small white petals blooming against the dark green grass where they stood, until a carpet of snowdrops trailed back from Vax’s pale form to the rest of his family. He turned to face them.
“S.H.I.T.S.!” he called, voice wavering but firm and strong. “How lucky I have been to have had all of you. How lucky, indeed. Thank you.”
Then he strode into the embrace of his mother, and his patron.
And then, it was just feathers.
Years passed. Keyleth of the Air Ashari watched alongside Percy and Vex in the shade, as three dark-haired and two white-haired children chased each other through the grass and around the gardens.
“Julius looks just like him,” said the druid with a sad smile. “But you said Jonathan’s the one who talks to birds?”
“Yes,” said Vex, “and he thinks you’re very cool, so I think you should go and talk to him later.”
“I might just do that,” Keyleth nodded. “Maybe he might want to come visit Zephra, one of these days.”
“Take Olivia also,” said Percy. “We think her magic is arcane, but it might do her some good. Besides, she’s his twin, and they don’t like being separated.”
“I can see how that might work,” said Keyleth. Then she looked at Percy and Vex and asked, “Say, did Pike and Scanlan set a date yet? I know gnomes don’t really operate on the same timeline as everyone else, believe me, I know, but have they said anything yet?”
“No,” said Percy, “I don’t think so. But knowing how quickly they fell all over each other, after everything that happened, I’m sure it’ll be soon.”
“Scanlan?” Pike asked, from their spot in bed.
“Yes, Pikey?”
“Remember when you showed me your soulmark, and you mentioned something about wondering why it said what it did?”
“Yes, I remember.”
Pike rolled her sleeve up, and held her arm out to Scanlan.
“It’s in gnomish,” he said, slightly surprised.
“It’s my humble roots,” she grinned. “Go on, read it.”
“I won’t make…” Scanlan faltered, but with a gentle nudge he tried again. “I won’t make you wait long, Pikey.”
“Stop it, Scanlan,” Pike recited. “Take all the time you need.”
Their eyes met.
“So…you think…?”
“I’m pretty sure I know,” said Pike, and grinned. “You forest gnomes live a long time.”
“Are…are you alright with—”
“I am,” said Pike. “I really, truly am.”
“Oh, good,” said Scanlan, and he smiled as well when she leaned in for a kiss.
“Mama, what do these marks mean?” asked Percival IV, holding his arm up for his mother to see.
“That’s called a soulmark, darling. It’s words your soulmate will speak to you, one day.”
“How will I know who my soulmate is?”
“You just do, when the time comes. I know that sounds confusing, but trust me, alright? When you meet the right person, you’ll know.”
“Did you meet the right person, Mama?”
“I did, darling. And guess who that person was?”
“Your father,” and here, she bopped her son on the nose and he started to giggle.
“But, you know, these marks don’t always mean you have to spend time with only your soulmate. When your mama traveled around with Vox Machina, well, it almost felt like all of them were my soulmates.”
Her son considered this. “Like when I’m with Elaina and Julius and Olivia and Jonathan and Trinket and Dad and Auntie Keyleth and Uncle Grog and Auntie Pike and Uncle Scanlan and—”
She grinned, and bopped him again. “Yes, darling, just like that.”
The wedding was small, and Grog carried Scanlan down the aisle on his shoulders as Kaylie played a bridal march on her fiddle, and Great-uncle Wilhand, arthritic and nearly bald, officiated.
There were two flower girls and one ring bear, that carried the three ring-bearers on his back.
They were seated beneath the Sun Tree, watching the clouds roll by over Whitestone, below.
“Yes, Vex?”
“Do…do you think you’ll ever find someone else?”
There was a pause.
“I…I’m not sure,” she said. “Maybe. It’s…it’s still too new. But I know he would want me to move on.”
“You have all the time in the world, darling.”
She laughed. “Oh, I know.”
“I know there’s a lot to be said about soulmates, but still. We’re not soulmates, and I still feel connected to you. To everyone in Vox Machina.”
Keyleth nodded. “I know what you mean,” she said with a small smile. “I think…I think it’s always nice to know who your soulmate is, but it’s also nice to just…to just spend time with other people.”
“Yes,” said Vex, poking Keyleth in the arm. “It is.”
Nobody knows the reason why, or how, or who is behind the curling lines of text that appear on the skin of every newborn child across the planes. Perhaps it’s the work of sentimental deities, brushing their fingers against the arms of their creations to let them know that no matter what, in this chaotic, unpredictable, dangerous world, they will never be alone. Perhaps it’s the gods of love, helping mortals find the ones with whom they will share every full, deep breath of air and every beat of their hearts. Perhaps it’s the work of trickster gods, playing their jokes on those who will never know who their other half is, until the end. Or, perhaps, it’s the work of the Raven Queen herself, Weaver of Fates, Matron of Death, leaving her mark on creation and urging all to find their fated and enjoy the time they have together, before the inevitable.
Nobody really knows.
But maybe, as a wise goliath once said around a campfire in the woods outside Whitestone, under the night sky with his friends at his side, “who cares?” In the end, you stick with the people you love, all the people you love, and perhaps, maybe then, it won’t matter what fate tried to tell you. You’ll have found the ones you wanted, and you’ll have been with the ones you needed, all along.
And that? That is more than enough.
This was a place, almost a hundred years later, where the sun was bright, and the grass seemed to glow, and the skies always felt like home.
“Your sister says hello.”
There was a laugh, and a smile, and a warm hand on his shoulder.
“I know, Freddie. I know.”
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bogleech · 3 years ago
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Anyway I learned today that people do catch squid with fishing poles but squid lures have a different kind of hook entirely, a circle of them to snag on tentacles. These end up looking like a ring of tentacles themselves and that’s fine because if there’s one thing squids love to kill and devour, it’s littler squids.
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imnotwolverine · 11 months ago
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Mood blurb - Blue shores
A weekend getaway with your bear pack
You walk along the desolate beach to your little cottage where you have soft white towels at the ready. 
It’s August, the British sun just warm enough to go for a quick dip - and yet you squeal because the water’s still pretty darn cold on your toes. IEEEKSS!  
Kal racing around through the wet white sand - in and out of the water -, his large muzzle trying to catch the waves. Occasionally having to snort quite comically when he got a bit over-enthusiastic and the salt water gets into his nose. 
Henry, wrapping his arm around your shoulder and pulling your free flowing hair back behind your ear. 
‘Fancy a dip?’ 
You shrug, your summer dress tugging in the warm wind. ‘Mm..’ You look at the water. ‘..I guess the last one in the water’s cooking tonight..’ You tease, already running into the water, your hands pulling your dress over your head just before you dive in. 
Henry grumbles a complaint as he quickly follows, gathering you in his arms, making you squirm, the cold water embracing you both.
‘Looks like I caught myself a rather pretty fish.’ He smiles. 
You protest, trying to get away, but fail quite miserably. You pout at him, which makes him chuckle. 
‘Then again I learned you have to set pretty fish free after catching them.’ He lets you go and you quickly stop him from diving away, your hand tilting his head towards you. 
‘And if the fish truly loves you, she’ll be sure to come back.’ You smile into his lips. 
Salty, sweet summer kisses
And yes, Henry cooks dinner - gladly. 
In the mood for more?  Orange glow | White buzz | Green tea | Cinnamon spice | London red | Green fingers | August’s aquamarine | Black Beauty | Goldfinger | Pride&Prejudice | Black sails | Healing waters | White Himbos | The Blue Room | Scheherazade | Ocean Heart | Professor, professor! | Happy Henners | Hmm.. | The Monster’s Lair | Nighthunter | Kill your darlings | Boar blood | ‘Atta girl | 
(Link to my Masterlist)
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junk0u · a year ago
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Fair Game Week: Day 2; Date/Domestic
Fishing date? Could also be domestic? In which, Qrow learns how to fish and Clover somehow catches a shrimp Grimm. 
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pinktights · 2 years ago
old man: actually im the spirit of a dead king & my daughter has been fighting against the evil that hangs over this land for 100 years inside that fucked up castle on the horizon and YOU are our greatest hope
me remembering the 55 minutes it took for me to learn how to catch a fish:
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dooblebugs · 2 months ago
hey uhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh take this Mer One-Shot
Ghost was too little to hunt. That’s what everyone said. Hornet said they were too weak to catch fish, and they might end up as prey instead. Cloth said they were too little to go out on their own, they could get stuck or lost. Quirrel was optimistic in saying that while Ghost was “A very capable one, despite your small stature”, he agreed that Ghost was too little and too weak to hunt on their own.
Ghost thought it was ridiculous. They had freed the Dreamers, rescued their large sibling from the Radiance, and technically killed a Goddess, surely they were more than capable of learning how to catch a single fish.
Surely there was someone who could teach them how to hunt. Someone irresponsible enough, someone who’d be happy to teach them.
"If you wanna learn how to hunt, you came to the right place, Squib." Tiso said, arms crossed over his chest, smug grin stretching ear to ear. He was more than happy to teach them, basking in the glow of being able to show off his skills to someone. "I've been fending for myself since the day I was hatched, and everyone in the reef knows I'm the best hunter."
Ghost strongly disagreed with him on that sentiment. Hornet, for starters, was a great hunter. Cloth too. Oh and The Hunter. They didn't let this show, however, because they really wanted to learn how to hunt, and Tiso seemed very interested to teach them.
"There's two main methods I use, see." He began to explain, sitting up slightly and leaning closer to Ghost as if sharing secrets. "The first method is ambush."
"See, fish are dumb. All I gotta do is sit in a nice, dark cave, make sure the fish can see a little bit of my tail in the sunlight, and they come swimming to me!" 
Tiso seemed to wince; his smug grin faltered, and he looked away, sheepish. "I suppose there's a bit of a drawback. Sometimes, on a bad day, it can take hours and hours and hours to catch a fish, and-"
He didn't finish, interrupted by the loud rumbling of his empty stomach. "...sometimes I'm not patient enough to wait." Bouncing back, Tiso assured them, “Not to worry, my second method is more successful. It requires two hunters, and hey look at that, there’s two of us!”
Ghost didn’t have a chance to react before Tiso grabbed them, already swimming to their hunting grounds. He must be excited to teach. Or excited to get something to eat. Knowing him, maybe both.
“I like to call this the ‘Cooperative Hunting’ method, squib.” Tiso explained, letting Ghost go and floating nearby. He gestured to a nearby reef. “There are two parts to this equation. One of the hunters needs to be slippery and able to maneuver in tight spots in the coral reef.” He pointed to himself, puffing up his chest. “That’s me, in case you’re unsure.”
Nodding, Ghost wondered where he was going with this.
“The other hunter - you! - will patrol the outside of the coral reef. The plan is to chase them out of the reef, where you’ll grab them!”
Tiso failed to explain how Ghost would catch them though. The little pup was confused on what they were supposed to do! Were they supposed to use their claws? Their teeth? What if they weren't fast enough?
Patting them on the back, Tiso said, "And that's all there is to it! Ready?"
"Great! I'm gonna get into position."
Wait no!
Tiso flashed them a grin before darting into the coral reef. He was easily able to squeeze into the smaller cracks, being naturally flexible and slippery. Ghost swam just outside the reef, waiting for fish. They were very unsure what to do, and they held their nail in a loose grip.
They saw a flash of Tiso’s scales, and the reef exploded with life. Fish darting away from the reef as quickly as they could, some away from the reef, some deeper into the reef. A few darted towards Ghost, and they tried to slash at them with their nail, but the small fish were too quick for them.
They should have worn Quickslash.
“Huh? Didja get any, kid?” Tiso asked, poking his head out between two coral. When Ghost shook their head, he growled, “Kid, you’re killing me here! C’mon! Everyone is born knowing how to hunt, just use your claws!”
He might have, but Ghost was born knowing two things: Swim and use a nail. Everything else they had to figure out on their own. They were hoping Tiso could teach them how to hunt, but it looks like they were going to figure this one out too.
Ghost looked at him, expectantly.
Tiso rolled his eyes. “C’mon, squib! A fish swims by, you grab it! It’s not math, it’s basic survival!”
“What is going on here?” Hornet swam out from behind a nearby rock formation. “Hm. You two are never a good combination. Explain yourself.”
Tiso squeaked in surprised, but quickly returned with a snarl, “Back off, Hornet! Can’t you see I’m busy?” He puffed out his chest, patting Ghost on the head. “I’m teaching Ghost very important life skills.”
Hornet crossed her arms over her chest and narrowed her eyes. “Interesting. Care to elaborate?”
“Ghost has come to me for hunting lessons!”
She was immediately taken aback, almost looking insulted. “They. They came to you for hunting lessons. You. For hunting lessons.”
“Yup! First person they came to!” He leaned closer. “Why? Are you jealous~?”
“Absolutely not!” She hissed. Jabbing a claw into his chestplate, she continued, “I’m more concerned that you’re using them as a free meal ticket more than anything.”
Tiso’s turn to be offended. “How dare you assume such a thing! If I was really gonna  use someone as a meal ticket, then I would've picked a better hunter." Tiso immediately realized he made a mistake, seeing how Ghost’s face fell.
Did he think they were bad at this? They were doing their best!
“Squib? I-I wasn’t trying to insult you!” He said, trying to backpedal. “I’m just saying, I-I didn’t mean to be mean! You know, you’re still learning-!”
“I’m surprised, Tiso. You’re always hungry, despite being completely full of shit.” Hornet hissed. “Come Ghost, let a real hunter teach you.” She grabbed their arm before they could protest. Ghost spared Tiso a glance as Hornet swam away; he looked...almost ashamed. But he didn’t make any effort to stop them.
Once a good distance away from the reef, Hornet sighed. “Tiso means well...he’s just a moron. And an ambush predator, he wouldn’t know how to teach you.” Her face soured. “I’m still baffled you chose him over me.”
Wait, was she actually jealous? Ghost tilted their head, staring at her intently. She seemed to crack under their stare, shifting uncomfortably. “I know I said you were too weak to hunt. I know I said you were too small...but Tiso? Seriously? You asked him?”
Well, who were they supposed to ask?
As if echoing their thoughts, Hornet muttered under her breath, “Who else could you have asked? Everyone else was in agreement for waiting until you were ready...Well, I suppose you are ready, if you asked someone to teach you.”
“...I better teach you then, hm?”
Ghost nearly jumped for joy. Hornet was gonna teach them how to hunt! They pawed at her cloak, tugging on her horns and fins.
"Alright! Alright! Settle down, Ghost!" Hornet said, trying to push them off. "If I had known you were this eager, I would have taught you ages ago."
This was great. This was better than great. They were gonna learn how to hunt from their sister. This was better than learning with Tiso (not that they would say that. It'd break Tiso's heart.)
They could finally catch their own food, without having to rely on others. Maybe they could catch dinner now! Maybe they can even help give Hollow something to eat when they needed it. 
"Right. Come, Ghost, I'll show you where the best spots are. Then we can discuss your nail and the best way to use it."
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moocha-muses · a month ago
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“- and I wanna learn how to fish! So I can catch my own dinners. Mom says I’m too little to go huntin’ for real.”
“Well, honey, I’ve got medical journals to read. But maybe you and your mom can go out to the lake today.”
“Can we? Please?”
“You just finish all that oatmeal and we’ll see.”
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wendylianmartin · 11 months ago
In episode 59 when Siren tells Pagoon he wants to learn how to catch a fish because he hasn’t eaten in a while did Arp look at him like that because Arp had eaten a fish earlier in the episode
Actually Arp was not looking at Siren, Arp sensed Pim and was looking back at her. 
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jesperssecondrevolver · 15 days ago
Now that Ablerto is basically Massimo's son, Massimo starts to feel guilty about catching and eating fish so instead they learn how to make pasta from scratch and make a living off of that
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andiaberto · 24 days ago
i was discussing a human!alberto au with berry and i thought i’d share the stuff i figured out here! 
alberto lives in the lighthouse on the isola del mare. it isn’t broken down, it’s a functioning lighthouse and is crucial to helping ships and boats dock in portorosso.
he used to live there with his father, who was rather reclusive to begin with, until one day, he decided to leave, abandoning alberto and leaving him behind. 
terrified that he’d be taken away from everything he knew, alberto lied to the townsfolk, saying his dad was just being more and more reclusive lately and didn’t want to see people. people knew he was a hermit since his wife died, so no-one really questioned it. 
alberto runs the lighthouse by himself, having learned everything from watching his dad as he grew up. he catches fish around the island with various nets and traps that are set up, and often takes them into town to sell them in order to earn money to buy things he needs. 
that was how he met massimo and giulia marcovaldo. he and giulia became pretty decent friends, despite only seeing each other during the summer. they tease and torment each other, but always have each others back. 
he is always ready to throw down with ercole who is just as big a jerk to him in this as he is to giulia canonically. he’s a little stronger in this au due to doing a lot of rowing and fishing and working the lighthouse so he’s absolutely gotten into a few scraps with him and his goons before. 
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omegaverse · 8 days ago
WAIT U WATCH MASARU TOO?????????? IVE BEEN WATCHING HIM FOR A BIT NOW I LOVE HIS VIDS SO MUCH i love learning abt the fish n stuff he catches, it itches that need 2 accumulate knowledge :]]
HE'S SO LOVELY i want to show his vids to my mom because we love seafood and odd food in this house but she doesn't watch youtube D: his channel is so fun and i'm glad it's taken off ^__^
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