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TOPIC | Ozie's Lore Shop! [FULL!~]
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@TheDeathseer Hey, lovely to see you're back! I'll let you know when I'm open again, certainly. [emoji=coatl tongue size=1]
@TheDeathseer
Hey, lovely to see you're back! I'll let you know when I'm open again, certainly.
Hey human, wanna buy some lore? Click here, you won't be disappointed!

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@Ozie Thank you so much! [emoji=guardian happy size=2]
@Ozie

Thank you so much!
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@Blueberrypodoboo Considering I'd continued to edit Walter's lore when I went away (yet again) and couldn't access the internet + had no signal, I thought I should send it now that it's finished! This is probably one of the more realistic parts I've ever done, plus it was a lot of fun to write, so I hope you enjoy it! [emoji=coatl love size=1] [i]Note: I'll link it in the first part so it's easier for others to get to.[/i] [quote=Walter (pt. 2)]-2- No one slept, as much as they all tried to. Only in fits and bursts did some manage, whilst others pretended so Walter didn’t fuss over them. Throughout the night of the fire, Walter couldn’t sleep. It beckoned to him, almost snagged him a few times and set him swaying on his feet, eyes so heavy he could barely keep them open, but he refused. The fire destroyed their home and it hurt his family. He couldn’t just leave them like that. “How are you doing, Nova?” he inquired, his voice quiet. “You’ve been working last night and now this morning, so I doubt you’re doing very well, but I thought I should ask.” Nova sat at a desk beside him, leaning over multiple vials of a peach-coloured liquid—a secret project—with eye bags that could reach the floor if they so wanted. The bright glint in her eyes, one that rested in any Plague dragon’s eyes to show their well-being, was dim, swallowed by exhaustion, loss and boredom. Even her clothes looked tired, stretched taut from overuse. She graced him with a sideways glance. Green tinted the glass she peered through; ash darkened the metal of her mask. It made her look more menacing than usual. “I’m well enough to continue, Walter. If anything, it’s you who should rest.” Walter chuckled lightly, leaning against the desk. “I’m well enough to continue.” Nova rolled her eyes and went back to the liquids, her bird beak clacking against the glass. As their doctor, he supposed she couldn’t rest. Especially not in the absence of Chip and Sylvius, both of which were answering an emergency in Clifford’s lair. He hoped they were okay, that they would be back soon to give the poor girl a rest. He tapped the desk to get her attention back. It sapped his strength not to wither away under her glare. “Is there anything I can do for you, like get you a drink?” It took her a couple of seconds to reply, a hum muffled by the mask. The eventual softening of her gaze was more than welcoming. “I guess I could use that,” she mumbled. “Is there any clean water around?” “I’ll get you some.” Giving their doctor a gentle smile, he looked through the collection of glasses on Nova’s desk in search for one that he hoped was clean, though picking and choosing wouldn’t help anyone. He gently plucked a glass—the nearest one—from her collection and gathered as much water as he could. Collectively, a few attempts later, it filled only half a glass. After a whole night in the tent, only a fraction of what they had started with swirled in the bottom of the pail. Walter made a note to go get some more before they ran out. He got up, swaying slightly. Just as Nova reached for him to steady him, he leant against the desk to steady himself, to stop the world from spinning, before sighing. There was a lacking presence in the tent. Walter scanned the Circus around the two woken dragons. He found that, in amongst the array of dragons, a particular male Pearlcatcher was missing from where Walter laid him to rest the night before, between Zachariah and Solar. “Where’s Vladimir?” Nova snorted and took the glass from him. Her bird mask sat before her, unfastened, revealing a plump face to match her cattish red eyes. “He left an hour ago to get some food. You didn’t notice him leave?” “No,” he whispered. Tail flicking, he moved to peer out of the entrance to the tent and into the blazed sky. No silhouette hovered there, only flames that licked the clouds and trees that were only just out of reach swaying in the dampening breeze. A storm was brewing. That fact was both a miracle and a curse. “You said he went an hour ago?” “Yeah, though I don’t know where he went off to.” He debated risking it; going to the nearest lair to ask for his husband. Eventually, he decided against it and headed back inside. Over the years, especially after their wedding, he’d learnt not to go seeking Vladimir out when he was worried. Instead of easing him, it only made his husband feel inadequate or untrustworthy. It hurt him. Of course, Walter didn’t want that for anyone, much less for the male he loved. Nova shot him a quizzical look. “You’re not going after him?” “He can handle himself,” he told her with confidence. “I just hope he doesn’t overexert himself in the process.” “It’s the Vlad we know and love,” she drawled, knocking back her water with a swift flick of her wrist. Humming, he turned to the Circus sleeping at his feet. Each one was a different size, different colour and had their own unique quirk that made them a prize of Shatterskull. Looking at them now, all bundled up in their own or each other’s wings, some twisting and turning while others lay flat on their sides of backs, you wouldn’t see that. Perhaps you’d see a lost group, or a gang waiting to ambush. All Walter saw was his broken family, one he’d promised to protect. He sighed, rubbing his eyes. In amongst the sea of dragons, he spotted his son curled up next to Solomon. [i]Torny Azama[/i], he’d cry from time to time, [i]future commissioning artist[/i]. As much as his sixteen-year-old saw it all as a punch, Walter meant it. No matter how much his son tried to dance his way into a performance like he thought they wanted, it wasn’t what he enjoyed. He did it for Solomon’s sake. His true passions lay in the gorgeous artwork he created, often of Solomon or of his fathers. A pang rose in his heart, and he looked away in guilt. The heartbreak on Torny’s face when he realised his drawings were gone drifted into mind, digging its trench deep at the forefront; tear-stained, broken, and trembling. It took both Vladimir and Walter half an hour before their son finally stopped pretending that it didn’t hurt, balling his eyes out in their embrace. Now he snuggled close to Solomon, whose wing rested over Torny’s shoulders. “Hey,” Nova mumbled, startling him. She didn’t notice. “They look cute together, don’t they?” Walter nodded, stifling a yawn. “They do indeed.” Shatterskull’s doctor gave him a sad, almost sympathetic look. “You’ve lost your banter.” “I’m tired and worried. I don’t doubt it’ll come back when—” A thud sounded outside the tent, followed by a groan. Walter’s heart jumped. He rushed to the entrance to see Vladimir on the dirt track, doubled over and panting. Multiple rucksacks littered the floor around him, a pail of water or two hanging from his tail, drenching his breeches. Slowly, his husband raised his head and tugged him out of his shock with his signature victorious smile. “I got some food,” he wheezed. Without saying a word, Walter stumbled towards him and pulled him into a tight hug, his lips quickly finding Vladimir’s before he pulled back and cupped his face. The faint taste of mint lingered on his tongue. [i]He must have had some before he left for energy[/i]. “You could’ve at least told me where you went, Vlad.” To his exasperation, his husband nuzzled his paws and grinned. He could’ve sworn his panting got worse. “You were... passed out... in a chair. I couldn’t bring myself... to wake you up.” He huffed. “Go sit down inside, I’ll bring these in.” “But—” “Go, Vlad. You’re already out of breath; we don’t want you to have an asthma attack.” Reluctantly, Vladimir gave in, but not without a final embrace from Walter. Despite the sweat dripping from his forehead with his feat, his mane was silky soft as he raked a paw through it with the hope of calming him. He always assumed it was one of the simplest charms Vladimir could use, one appropriately named Soften. He could be wrong. After a minute of shameless cuddling, Walter rolled his eyes and whispered in his ear, loud enough so that Vladimir could hear him over his rasping, “You need to go sit down.” “I want to... to help.” “Please? I don’t want you to have another asthma attack, and besides—” He gestured at the backpacks around them with a gentle smile. “—you’ve already helped out a lot.” It was his husband’s turn to huff, but he didn’t refuse, ambling into the tent with a hoarse cough that made Walter’s anxiety spike. He forced it to quieten down. He’d seen his husband have asthma attacks before, and he was certain that Nova would give him something for it. There was a spare vial in their crate. At least, he thought there was— Furiously shaking his head, desperate to stop mulling on it, he hefted a rucksack—a black one with scuffmarks along the sides—onto his shoulder and reached for another. “Nova, darling,” he called, “could you come help me out when you can?” He didn’t expect her to come out without glaring at him. As soon as she emerged, he braced himself only to find a gaze dulled by the verge of passing out. Her bird mask was back on, its darkened silver sheen glinting in the light of the fire. “How many are there?” she inquired, yawning. Walter counted them on his digits, then frowned. “How did he manage to get nine backpacks back without any help?” “I don’t know. Can we get them inside?” He nodded and they got to work, grunting from the amount of meat and fish and plants and bugs inside them. With her help, they managed to get four inside—one of each shoulder—before she raced straight over to the culprit of the coughing; Vladimir. “Is he okay?” he asked, dumping the bags on the floor and moving to go get the others. “Has he had his medication?” “What medication?” Unlike what most would think, the inquiry hit him instantly. His heart stopped, then beat wildly in his throat, as he made his way over to Vladimir. He perched on Nova’s chair, clutching his neck and wheezing. A shaky smile in his direction was all his husband could manage in the face of his stun. [i]Asthma attack! Get moving![/i] Alarm bells rang in Walter’s mind. Calmness he didn’t feel forced its way onto his features, into his stance, as he sped towards the chest with numerous vials inside for all sorts of things. Burns, injuries, that Deities-damned mystery potion Nova was working on; all of them could be found in there. He was almost certain Vladimir’s was in there as a spare that they never needed. Sifting through them took forever. With each passing second, the calmness seeped from him. Vial after vial, medicine after medicine. No sky-blue liquid peaked out from under another. Just dark green ones for Walter, that same orange one, clear ones for ailments and toxins and disinfectants and red ones for healing. “Oh no,” he whimpered, gripping the chest lid with white knuckles. He’d gone through all of the vials. Nothing turned up. His throat felt clogged. “Oh no no no.” “Walter?” Nova’s voice only just reached above the blood thrumming in his ears. “Is everything alright?” “There’s no medicine left.” He threw her a wide-eyed, deer-in-torchlight look. It screamed confusion and panic. “How long would it take you to make another?” She huffed, keeping Vladimir upright. He looked just as worried. “Without Sylvius and Chipscale here, it’s too risky. Are you sure there’s nothing?” “I’d damn well know if I saw it!” “Well, look again. Maybe you missed it.” He growled. Hurriedly shoving vials aside, a crazy idea popped into his head. It was almost too stupid, but could work. The risk of getting hurt was almost a hundred percent. But, it was their only option. The spare that they had—that they should have had—was gone. “Walter,” Vladimir called hoarsely, interrupted by a cough. “Don’t... you dare.” He shot his husband an apologetic look. “I have to.” “Walter—!” Walter refused to debate on it any further. He got up and sprinted for the entrance despite Vladimir’s protests. Only when he reached the dirt track did he falter, flapping his wings to keep his balance. The fire reached for him. It tried to pull him in. From where he stood in the midst of the dirt track, he still began to sweat. He could only imagine the burns he might get. [i]Stop hesitating and go![/i] He pulled his shirt up over his nose and ran into the blaze. Within seconds of entering, he started coughing. Beside him burned the fairground games, in front sat the remains of the tent. He couldn’t stop to examine the damage; not when the caravans were some ten feet away. Not while his husband sat choking on air. He continued to sprint through the flames, under the arch for their site. The burnt remains of the caravans shot up from the fire, damaged and blackened. His heart sank. So much time and effort burnt away in cinders. He could almost see the memories, the love put into them, in the ashes and smokes around his caravan at the other end of the site. Sprinting towards the caravan, he stumbled onto what remained of the porch. The door hung from the hinges, revealing his old room. Nothing but the medicine on the floor stuck out to him. Vials littered the burning floor here and there, none of which held a bright blue liquid. Panic seized him. He would’ve screamed if the fire didn’t threaten to choke him. Instead, he calmed himself and scanned it again. A memory clicked into place. In place of swallowing the liquid, they put it over a candle to heat it. It’d turn into a gas within minutes. Vladimir, when having an asthma attack, could only take it as a gas. Foolishly, he gulped down as much air as he could before pulling his shirt off to grab as many vials as he could. His coughing worsened. Through the thin white material, the vials seared his paws still. He didn’t care, Vladimir at the forefront of his mind. He needed to take all of them just in case, even the ones that were entirely the wrong kind. Walter quickly finished. He bundled his shirt up to keep the vials safe and tied it to stop them from falling out. Then he ran out, paw over mouth. A crack sounded to his right. He didn’t have time to see what it was. Bright white and burning pain travelled along his cheek. He let loose an agonised scream. A lit, half-burnt pillar tumbled to his feet. He barely noticed it, lost in a mist of throbbing. Walter stumbled along, paw to his cheek. It shook. Soothing the pain was impossible. He had to keep going. Agony a hindrance, he staggered back towards the tent, dodging the flames that reached for him and the vials. Heat followed him. It dug at his fresh wound, scratched at his heels. Burning wooden shrapnel prodded his feet. Walter turned back only once, after he’d reached safety. The Circus’s banner, already alight, collapsed in front of his eyes. It became official. Their home was gone. With a hurt snarl, Walter stumbled through the entrance. He leapt over waking Shatterskull members to get to his husband, stopping short just before him. He was pale, his skin a lighter grey than usual. Sweat beaded on his forehead and dribbled down his cheeks. An almost unnoticeable blue tinted his lips. The wheezing was gone. That wasn’t a good thing. It never was. “You [i]idiot![/i]” Nova cried, shooting up from his side with fury in her eyes. “What were you thinking, running into the fire like that?” “Call me what you want,” he snarled, crouching down beside his husband and fumbling with his tied shirt, “I did what I had to do.” “You’ve been hurt—!” Walter ignored her complaints. “Stay beside Vlad, help him lean forward.” Nova growled at him as the Circus’s doctor, but didn’t argue. She softened her voice for his husband, who remained unresponsive, and helped him lean forward. No noise came from him. Once did Walter look up from sorting through the vials. His panic peaked. Vladimir’s eyes were shut, his breathing barely audible. [i]Move faster, you idiot![/i] He frantically picked up and chucked aside vials until he came across an empty one. An idiot would throw it, and he was about to until a wisp of blue shimmered in the bottle. “Please work,” he whispered, his paw shaking as he held the vial near Vladimir’s nose and pulled the cork free. Sky-blue smoke came out, dissipating soon after – so soon you’d think you would be seeing things. He would have to wait patiently as it worked its magic. Two minutes at most. That was all. Walter gently plucked his husband’s paw from his side and felt for his pulse. He found it, and his heart sank into his stomach like lead to the ocean. It felt like he’d somehow run a marathon whilst he was gone. It showed little sign of calming down. “Please work.” He noticed the crack in his voice as he repeated his plea, but couldn’t bring himself to care. Twenty seconds went by. Nova ordered him to distract himself, to give Vladimir space for the potion to work. With nothing else to do, Walter fiddled with the rest of the vials in his shirt despite how they scalded him, noting which ones were genuinely empty and which ones held his husband’s medication. Thirty seconds rolled by and still no change in Vladimir’s condition. Walter had finished sorting through the vials, which—to his surprise and his distaste—included some of his own medication, and began to pace the length of the tent. He checked on everyone in that time, focusing on those beginning to wake up. Strom was amongst them; his burns were the worst out of everyone in the Circus, travelling up his left arm to his cheek after getting it trapped under a pillar. Honk slept next to him, curled up against his right. “How’s your burn?” he inquired, eyes locked onto the cloak wrapped around his arm. Honk’s cloak, dipped in what he’d described as the “nasty vinegar concoction”. “Stinging,” Strom said, grimacing. His gaze, softened with respect, was on the male next to him. “Honk tried his best.” “I can tell.” He sighed. Walter noticed their paws clasped in one another between them and almost grinned. He’d been watching them grow closer over the past six months; he couldn’t wait to see what became of them. “You get your rest,” he whispered, looking back at his husband who stayed limp in Nova’s chair. “You’ve earned it.” “I should hope so,” the Carny chuckled, his voice hoarse. His eyes closed soon after. That’s when Walter made his way back to find something else to distract himself. One minute dragged past, and Vladimir still showed no sign of waking. His pulse had slowed down. Not by much, but it brought him hope. Walter tore his shirt to strips after a few seconds. He dunked them in the pails of ice-cold water Aries brought inside and used them to wipe his husband’s brow. It wasn’t like he needed the shirt. Vladimir was more important. At last, after chewing his claws to pieces and handing food out to those who have woken, two minutes trudged by. He cautiously checked Vladimir’s pulse. To his panic, it hadn’t slowed any more than the last time he checked. Nor had his husband stirred, or so much as whimpered since he stilled. Silence hung around him like a heavy, thick veil. Walter’s eyes began to burn and his throat began to tighten. Biting his lip helped keep the worry at bay. The accompanying taste of copper didn’t reassure him. “He’s lost consciousness,” Nova mumbled mostly to herself, opening one of his eyes only to close it a few seconds later. From what Walter saw, his pupils were in thin slits and unresponsive to the light around them. “We need to lie him down. It’ll be more comfortable for him.” Walter nodded in agreement, his mind in automatic. He gently scooped Vladimir up into his arms and tried to ignore how his head lolled. How his arms, his legs, dangled uselessly. Even his wings offered little resistance. No muscles twitched or flexed against his forearms, no rustles or flutters, just an aching stillness. “Walter,” a voice called from across the tent. His gaze landed on Solomon, one of their official dancers alongside Kalameet and Tara, who sat cross-legged beside Torny. To his relief, his son still slept. “I can help, if you want.” “Are you sure?” He sounded robotic. His voice echoed in his ears, as if he heard it down a long corridor. “Of course.” It took him a couple of seconds to register his answer. Solomon was one of their kindest and sweetest members, yet somehow Walter didn’t expect him to want to help. He guessed he would be too exhausted. Apparently not. “Thank you, Sol,” he said. He could barely register his movements, hefting an unconscious Vladimir over to where Solomon now stood in Vladimir’s previous space. He couldn’t focus, couldn’t think. Walter knew better than to think his husband damned. However still, the thought terrified him. [I]I did this,[/i] he thought, eyes stinging and blurring, [i]If I was faster, if I hadn’t hesitated, I could have stopped this.[/i] That same thought looped through his mind repeatedly as he placed Vladimir on his blanket. Putting him in a comfortable position and using whatever he could—Solomon’s blanket and a generous Nova’s cloak—to cover him up, Walter slowly returned to the forefront of his thoughts and actions. The shock eventually subsided. Replacing it was mass amounts of fear and guilt. It was enough to make him shiver. A paw rubbed his shoulder. He knew it wasn’t Solomon—he’d gone to stay with Torny, who began to stir moments before—so he turned around, feigning a smile, to see the doctor behind him. Her bird mask continued to hide most of her face, yet something glistened in her eyes. Because of the tinted glass, he couldn’t tell what. “We need a constant flow of his medication,” Nova told him, crouching beside him. “What do you need?” Walter asked her. His voice sounded weak and broken, and he couldn’t help but glance around to see who heard it. She frowned. “I need the usual ingredients, but in the dozens, as well as a small cauldron and a constant fire.” Walter nodded and stood before anyone could talk him out of helping. You need rest this and you shouldn’t feel guilty that. He didn’t want to hear it as he stalked over to Leo and Hearth, two of their fire-related performers. Leo, being a Fire-born male, could keep the small flame contained and smokeless, with Hearth watching over him to make sure he doesn’t try to impress their twin acrobats, Luna and Solar. The amount of times he’d tried and failed was almost laughable. Leo stared at him in a heavy-lidded gaze as he neared, the flare in his eyes dim. “Ey’ up, Walt,” he yawned. “You alright?” He ignored the inquiry, fidgeting with his wedding band. [i]Walter, my ringleader[/i]. “I need you to make and watch over a fire for me.” “What kind, mate? If you mean that’un out there—” “Just a campfire. Nothing you can’t handle, I’m sure.” A glint of excitement flashed in Leo’s fire-stricken eyes. “Ya’d trust me with that?” “As long as you don’t try to impress the twins, yes, I do.” “Can’t promise ya that, mate,” he drawled with a wink. Walter didn’t so much as smile. “Please, Leo. I’m desperate. If you really want, I’ll give you extra pay—” His eyes softened as he held up his paw. “I was jokin’, Walter. I don’t want any extra money. Just ge’me some wood and I’ll set it all up, I promise.” “Thank you,” he whispered, exhaustion weighing heavy on him. “Don’t thank me, mate,” Leo told him, glancing at Vladimir’s near-still form. “It’s the least I can do.” Walter left it there with a small smile. He turned and headed straight for Nova, who’d returned to her desk sorting through the vials he’d previously done in the hopes of learning from Sylvius and his own medication. It won’t go easy on her, he knew that much. Closing the distance between the two until he was a few feet away, Walter felt sorry for her. “How are you feeling?” Nova inquired, making him jump slightly. She was renowned around the Circus for being solid and feared rather than weak and fearful. When it came to Halloween, no one could give her goose bumps, let alone scare her. Perhaps she had a sixth sense for presence. “Doesn’t matter.” Walter eyed the desk before her, only to see no sign of any list of materials. Strange, but he ploughed on anyway. “What materials do you—?” “None thank you. Aries has gone to do it.” He paused for a few seconds before pulling a face. “Well, where’s he gone? I’ll go help.” She shot him a sour look. “Nowhere that you’ll follow, Walter, because he requested that I don’t tell you.” Walter frowned, snarling at the floor. “Just tell me, Nova.” “No. Instead, what you can do for me—for your husband—is take care of your son.” Starting, he looked around to see Torny had woken up. Tears streamed as he curled up beside his father, and Walter felt his heart crack in two. How hadn’t he realised his own son was awake? “Go.” Walter quickly made his way over members of the Circus to get to Torny’s side, his heart aching more with every shocked “Pa?” and “Papa, wake up”. His son was better off from most others; he escaped the blaze mostly unscathed, save for the few paper-thin scars littering his right wing. He looked brighter than most, too, his eyes shining as he cheered everyone up the night before. That looked far away now. “Hey, beautiful,” he murmured, crouching down next to his son. “Why isn’t Pa waking up?” he blurted out, visibly shaken. “What’s wrong with him?” “He had an asthma attack. It’s...” Walter nibbled on his lip for half a second before continuing, trying to keep his tears on hold. “It’s my fault. I had to run into the fire to get his medication, and I hesitated. If I hadn’t, this wouldn’t have happened.” Torny’s lip trembled. “He’s not going to die, right?” “Of course not, this is Vladimir we’re talking about. Not even the Mist could kill him.” Slowly, despite his reassurance, his son began to sob. The stun slowly dissipated from his eyes, and Walter sat on the floor and let him curl up in his lap like when he was four. He tried to think of something to say, something that would make him giggle or so much as smirk for a few seconds, but he came up with nothing. No jokes or tales floated around his mind. All he could do was hold him and gently rock him back and forth. “When is he going to wake up?” Torny inquired into his chest. “Soon, sweetheart. He fell unconscious, but Aries zoomed off to get the ingredients Pa needs almost immediately afterwards.” Aries came in at the mention of his name, sweating to high heaven but without the panting and wheezing that followed Vladimir’s flight. By the entrance to the tent, both Leo and Nova scrambled towards him, urgency in their fast words and hurried thank you’s. Only then, after the visible dizziness of the rush had faded, he spotted them and crept over to their side, avoiding everyone but Honk on his way over. “Hey, Azamas,” Aries drawled, sitting next to them. His gaze drifted towards Torny, and he had to prod him in the side to get his attention. “What’s with the long face, Little Blue?” Torny frowned and buried his face into Walter’s shoulder. “Nothing.” Their scavenger poked his side again, then opened his arms wide and smiled warmly. “Do you want a hug?” It pained him to watch his son go to his uncle for an embrace, but he supposed it was for the best. A great state of mine was currently foreign to them both. Perhaps Aries could help him more than he could. “He’ll be alright, monkey,” he reassured his son, rubbing his back between his wings as he trembled. “You have to get your strength from one of your dads, after all. I’m almost certain you got it from Vlad.” Despite the situation—the tears threatening to spill over, the buzz of sorting out his husband’s medication, his son’s upset and his own inadequacy—Walter coughed out a laugh and slapped the scavenger’s arm. “You’re [i]horrible[/i].” Aries grinned at him. “What’ve you endured that’s worse than Vladimir?” “My father died.” “And Vladimir was trapped in the Plague’s Mist for Deities-knows how long.” “That’s nothing compared to living in the wilderness for nineteen years!” He huffed and frowned, waving his paws around dramatically. “[i]Alone[/i], might I add?” “Two things,” Aries began, Torny watching them with a smirk, “one, you had Jackie for a lot of that time, and numerous girlfriends to date. Two, Vladimir could’ve died in the Mist whilst you were prancing around like a crazed, bisexual fairy.” Walter feigned offence, clutching at his chest as both Aries and his son giggled. It was difficult not to smile, and the hurt hard to ignore. “Ex[i]cuse[/i] me!” “Am I wrong?” “Well—” “[i]Am I wrong, Walter?[/i]” At his stammer, Aries shook his head, a wide grin on his face. “Just face it, Walter—” “I have.” Both of the males stared at him in surprise. He didn’t know whether it was genuine or fake, so he carried on. “Aries is right, Torny. Your father is so much stronger than many of us could ever [I]hope[/i] to be, and you inherit your own from him.” He smiled softly and ignored the odd tear that escaped. “If he’s anything like you, son, he’ll be more than alright before you can properly say the Peter Piper tongue-twister.” In a desperate attempt, Torny tried to do just that. He ended up scrunching his nose and shooting him a raspberry after two attempts. Walter’s smile faltered slightly. “Why don’t you and Aries go into the nearby village? You can get yourself some more art supplies there.” “Aren’t you going to come with us?” Torny inquired, frowning. “I’ll stay here and look after Pa.” “Nope.” The two of them looked at Aries, Torny with hope and Walter with confusion. He looked back at the latter with a stubborn smile. “What do you mean?” “You’re coming with us, Walter. Neither of us are about to leave you here to mope.” Smiling, he looped an arm around his shoulder. “It’s what Vladimir would want.” He sighed. Aries was right, after all, and he hated that about him. The last thing his husband would want for him would be sit around and do nothing but worsen his own guilt. “Go wait outside; I’ll be out in a minute.” They obeyed, to some extent. Leaving him alone with Vladimir, the two temporarily split ways. Aries went straight to Jackie, who just woke up and slapped his ankle to get his attention, and began to talk to her despite how she looked asleep within a few seconds. Torny, on the other hand, stood near Solomon grinning like an idiot as he helped Nova. Solomon, of course, had his back turned to him; his gaze on Nova as they worked on that secret potion of hers, and in his son’s eyes rested a brand new shine he’d never seen before, not even when he was dating Strom; love, burning bright like candlelight. How could he tell? Walter saw that same spark in himself for Vladimir, and still did every time he so much as looked at him. Perhaps Torny [i]did[/i] get some things from him. “Our son’s growing up too quickly, Viper,” Walter whispered, gently clasping Vladimir’s paw. “You better wake up soon; I’m going to need some help with teasing him.” He could’ve sworn that his husband squeezed his paw in response. [right][size=1][i]Made by Ozie in "[URL=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2371542]Ozie's Lore Shop![/URL]"[/i][/size][/right]
@Blueberrypodoboo
Considering I'd continued to edit Walter's lore when I went away (yet again) and couldn't access the internet + had no signal, I thought I should send it now that it's finished! This is probably one of the more realistic parts I've ever done, plus it was a lot of fun to write, so I hope you enjoy it!
Note: I'll link it in the first part so it's easier for others to get to.
Walter (pt. 2) wrote:
-2-
No one slept, as much as they all tried to. Only in fits and bursts did some manage, whilst others pretended so Walter didn’t fuss over them.
Throughout the night of the fire, Walter couldn’t sleep. It beckoned to him, almost snagged him a few times and set him swaying on his feet, eyes so heavy he could barely keep them open, but he refused. The fire destroyed their home and it hurt his family. He couldn’t just leave them like that.
“How are you doing, Nova?” he inquired, his voice quiet. “You’ve been working last night and now this morning, so I doubt you’re doing very well, but I thought I should ask.”
Nova sat at a desk beside him, leaning over multiple vials of a peach-coloured liquid—a secret project—with eye bags that could reach the floor if they so wanted. The bright glint in her eyes, one that rested in any Plague dragon’s eyes to show their well-being, was dim, swallowed by exhaustion, loss and boredom. Even her clothes looked tired, stretched taut from overuse.
She graced him with a sideways glance. Green tinted the glass she peered through; ash darkened the metal of her mask. It made her look more menacing than usual. “I’m well enough to continue, Walter. If anything, it’s you who should rest.”
Walter chuckled lightly, leaning against the desk. “I’m well enough to continue.”
Nova rolled her eyes and went back to the liquids, her bird beak clacking against the glass. As their doctor, he supposed she couldn’t rest. Especially not in the absence of Chip and Sylvius, both of which were answering an emergency in Clifford’s lair. He hoped they were okay, that they would be back soon to give the poor girl a rest.
He tapped the desk to get her attention back. It sapped his strength not to wither away under her glare. “Is there anything I can do for you, like get you a drink?”
It took her a couple of seconds to reply, a hum muffled by the mask. The eventual softening of her gaze was more than welcoming. “I guess I could use that,” she mumbled. “Is there any clean water around?”
“I’ll get you some.”
Giving their doctor a gentle smile, he looked through the collection of glasses on Nova’s desk in search for one that he hoped was clean, though picking and choosing wouldn’t help anyone. He gently plucked a glass—the nearest one—from her collection and gathered as much water as he could. Collectively, a few attempts later, it filled only half a glass. After a whole night in the tent, only a fraction of what they had started with swirled in the bottom of the pail. Walter made a note to go get some more before they ran out.
He got up, swaying slightly. Just as Nova reached for him to steady him, he leant against the desk to steady himself, to stop the world from spinning, before sighing. There was a lacking presence in the tent.
Walter scanned the Circus around the two woken dragons. He found that, in amongst the array of dragons, a particular male Pearlcatcher was missing from where Walter laid him to rest the night before, between Zachariah and Solar. “Where’s Vladimir?”
Nova snorted and took the glass from him. Her bird mask sat before her, unfastened, revealing a plump face to match her cattish red eyes. “He left an hour ago to get some food. You didn’t notice him leave?”
“No,” he whispered. Tail flicking, he moved to peer out of the entrance to the tent and into the blazed sky. No silhouette hovered there, only flames that licked the clouds and trees that were only just out of reach swaying in the dampening breeze. A storm was brewing. That fact was both a miracle and a curse. “You said he went an hour ago?”
“Yeah, though I don’t know where he went off to.”
He debated risking it; going to the nearest lair to ask for his husband. Eventually, he decided against it and headed back inside. Over the years, especially after their wedding, he’d learnt not to go seeking Vladimir out when he was worried. Instead of easing him, it only made his husband feel inadequate or untrustworthy. It hurt him. Of course, Walter didn’t want that for anyone, much less for the male he loved.
Nova shot him a quizzical look. “You’re not going after him?”
“He can handle himself,” he told her with confidence. “I just hope he doesn’t overexert himself in the process.”
“It’s the Vlad we know and love,” she drawled, knocking back her water with a swift flick of her wrist.
Humming, he turned to the Circus sleeping at his feet. Each one was a different size, different colour and had their own unique quirk that made them a prize of Shatterskull. Looking at them now, all bundled up in their own or each other’s wings, some twisting and turning while others lay flat on their sides of backs, you wouldn’t see that. Perhaps you’d see a lost group, or a gang waiting to ambush. All Walter saw was his broken family, one he’d promised to protect.
He sighed, rubbing his eyes. In amongst the sea of dragons, he spotted his son curled up next to Solomon. Torny Azama, he’d cry from time to time, future commissioning artist. As much as his sixteen-year-old saw it all as a punch, Walter meant it. No matter how much his son tried to dance his way into a performance like he thought they wanted, it wasn’t what he enjoyed. He did it for Solomon’s sake. His true passions lay in the gorgeous artwork he created, often of Solomon or of his fathers.
A pang rose in his heart, and he looked away in guilt. The heartbreak on Torny’s face when he realised his drawings were gone drifted into mind, digging its trench deep at the forefront; tear-stained, broken, and trembling. It took both Vladimir and Walter half an hour before their son finally stopped pretending that it didn’t hurt, balling his eyes out in their embrace. Now he snuggled close to Solomon, whose wing rested over Torny’s shoulders.
“Hey,” Nova mumbled, startling him. She didn’t notice. “They look cute together, don’t they?”
Walter nodded, stifling a yawn. “They do indeed.”
Shatterskull’s doctor gave him a sad, almost sympathetic look. “You’ve lost your banter.”
“I’m tired and worried. I don’t doubt it’ll come back when—”
A thud sounded outside the tent, followed by a groan. Walter’s heart jumped. He rushed to the entrance to see Vladimir on the dirt track, doubled over and panting. Multiple rucksacks littered the floor around him, a pail of water or two hanging from his tail, drenching his breeches.
Slowly, his husband raised his head and tugged him out of his shock with his signature victorious smile. “I got some food,” he wheezed.
Without saying a word, Walter stumbled towards him and pulled him into a tight hug, his lips quickly finding Vladimir’s before he pulled back and cupped his face. The faint taste of mint lingered on his tongue. He must have had some before he left for energy. “You could’ve at least told me where you went, Vlad.”
To his exasperation, his husband nuzzled his paws and grinned. He could’ve sworn his panting got worse. “You were... passed out... in a chair. I couldn’t bring myself... to wake you up.”
He huffed. “Go sit down inside, I’ll bring these in.”
“But—”
“Go, Vlad. You’re already out of breath; we don’t want you to have an asthma attack.”
Reluctantly, Vladimir gave in, but not without a final embrace from Walter. Despite the sweat dripping from his forehead with his feat, his mane was silky soft as he raked a paw through it with the hope of calming him. He always assumed it was one of the simplest charms Vladimir could use, one appropriately named Soften. He could be wrong.
After a minute of shameless cuddling, Walter rolled his eyes and whispered in his ear, loud enough so that Vladimir could hear him over his rasping, “You need to go sit down.”
“I want to... to help.”
“Please? I don’t want you to have another asthma attack, and besides—” He gestured at the backpacks around them with a gentle smile. “—you’ve already helped out a lot.”
It was his husband’s turn to huff, but he didn’t refuse, ambling into the tent with a hoarse cough that made Walter’s anxiety spike. He forced it to quieten down. He’d seen his husband have asthma attacks before, and he was certain that Nova would give him something for it. There was a spare vial in their crate. At least, he thought there was—
Furiously shaking his head, desperate to stop mulling on it, he hefted a rucksack—a black one with scuffmarks along the sides—onto his shoulder and reached for another. “Nova, darling,” he called, “could you come help me out when you can?”
He didn’t expect her to come out without glaring at him. As soon as she emerged, he braced himself only to find a gaze dulled by the verge of passing out. Her bird mask was back on, its darkened silver sheen glinting in the light of the fire.
“How many are there?” she inquired, yawning.
Walter counted them on his digits, then frowned. “How did he manage to get nine backpacks back without any help?”
“I don’t know. Can we get them inside?”
He nodded and they got to work, grunting from the amount of meat and fish and plants and bugs inside them. With her help, they managed to get four inside—one of each shoulder—before she raced straight over to the culprit of the coughing; Vladimir.
“Is he okay?” he asked, dumping the bags on the floor and moving to go get the others. “Has he had his medication?”
“What medication?”
Unlike what most would think, the inquiry hit him instantly. His heart stopped, then beat wildly in his throat, as he made his way over to Vladimir. He perched on Nova’s chair, clutching his neck and wheezing. A shaky smile in his direction was all his husband could manage in the face of his stun.
Asthma attack! Get moving!
Alarm bells rang in Walter’s mind. Calmness he didn’t feel forced its way onto his features, into his stance, as he sped towards the chest with numerous vials inside for all sorts of things. Burns, injuries, that Deities-damned mystery potion Nova was working on; all of them could be found in there. He was almost certain Vladimir’s was in there as a spare that they never needed.
Sifting through them took forever. With each passing second, the calmness seeped from him. Vial after vial, medicine after medicine. No sky-blue liquid peaked out from under another. Just dark green ones for Walter, that same orange one, clear ones for ailments and toxins and disinfectants and red ones for healing.
“Oh no,” he whimpered, gripping the chest lid with white knuckles. He’d gone through all of the vials. Nothing turned up. His throat felt clogged. “Oh no no no.”
“Walter?” Nova’s voice only just reached above the blood thrumming in his ears. “Is everything alright?”
“There’s no medicine left.” He threw her a wide-eyed, deer-in-torchlight look. It screamed confusion and panic. “How long would it take you to make another?”
She huffed, keeping Vladimir upright. He looked just as worried. “Without Sylvius and Chipscale here, it’s too risky. Are you sure there’s nothing?”
“I’d damn well know if I saw it!”
“Well, look again. Maybe you missed it.”
He growled. Hurriedly shoving vials aside, a crazy idea popped into his head. It was almost too stupid, but could work. The risk of getting hurt was almost a hundred percent. But, it was their only option. The spare that they had—that they should have had—was gone.
“Walter,” Vladimir called hoarsely, interrupted by a cough. “Don’t... you dare.”
He shot his husband an apologetic look. “I have to.”
“Walter—!”
Walter refused to debate on it any further. He got up and sprinted for the entrance despite Vladimir’s protests. Only when he reached the dirt track did he falter, flapping his wings to keep his balance. The fire reached for him. It tried to pull him in. From where he stood in the midst of the dirt track, he still began to sweat. He could only imagine the burns he might get.
Stop hesitating and go!
He pulled his shirt up over his nose and ran into the blaze.
Within seconds of entering, he started coughing. Beside him burned the fairground games, in front sat the remains of the tent. He couldn’t stop to examine the damage; not when the caravans were some ten feet away. Not while his husband sat choking on air.
He continued to sprint through the flames, under the arch for their site. The burnt remains of the caravans shot up from the fire, damaged and blackened. His heart sank. So much time and effort burnt away in cinders. He could almost see the memories, the love put into them, in the ashes and smokes around his caravan at the other end of the site.
Sprinting towards the caravan, he stumbled onto what remained of the porch. The door hung from the hinges, revealing his old room. Nothing but the medicine on the floor stuck out to him. Vials littered the burning floor here and there, none of which held a bright blue liquid. Panic seized him. He would’ve screamed if the fire didn’t threaten to choke him. Instead, he calmed himself and scanned it again.
A memory clicked into place. In place of swallowing the liquid, they put it over a candle to heat it. It’d turn into a gas within minutes. Vladimir, when having an asthma attack, could only take it as a gas.
Foolishly, he gulped down as much air as he could before pulling his shirt off to grab as many vials as he could. His coughing worsened. Through the thin white material, the vials seared his paws still. He didn’t care, Vladimir at the forefront of his mind. He needed to take all of them just in case, even the ones that were entirely the wrong kind.
Walter quickly finished. He bundled his shirt up to keep the vials safe and tied it to stop them from falling out. Then he ran out, paw over mouth.
A crack sounded to his right. He didn’t have time to see what it was.
Bright white and burning pain travelled along his cheek. He let loose an agonised scream. A lit, half-burnt pillar tumbled to his feet. He barely noticed it, lost in a mist of throbbing. Walter stumbled along, paw to his cheek. It shook. Soothing the pain was impossible. He had to keep going.
Agony a hindrance, he staggered back towards the tent, dodging the flames that reached for him and the vials. Heat followed him. It dug at his fresh wound, scratched at his heels. Burning wooden shrapnel prodded his feet. Walter turned back only once, after he’d reached safety. The Circus’s banner, already alight, collapsed in front of his eyes. It became official. Their home was gone.
With a hurt snarl, Walter stumbled through the entrance. He leapt over waking Shatterskull members to get to his husband, stopping short just before him. He was pale, his skin a lighter grey than usual. Sweat beaded on his forehead and dribbled down his cheeks. An almost unnoticeable blue tinted his lips. The wheezing was gone. That wasn’t a good thing. It never was.
“You idiot!” Nova cried, shooting up from his side with fury in her eyes. “What were you thinking, running into the fire like that?”
“Call me what you want,” he snarled, crouching down beside his husband and fumbling with his tied shirt, “I did what I had to do.”
“You’ve been hurt—!”
Walter ignored her complaints. “Stay beside Vlad, help him lean forward.”
Nova growled at him as the Circus’s doctor, but didn’t argue. She softened her voice for his husband, who remained unresponsive, and helped him lean forward. No noise came from him. Once did Walter look up from sorting through the vials. His panic peaked. Vladimir’s eyes were shut, his breathing barely audible.
Move faster, you idiot!
He frantically picked up and chucked aside vials until he came across an empty one. An idiot would throw it, and he was about to until a wisp of blue shimmered in the bottle.
“Please work,” he whispered, his paw shaking as he held the vial near Vladimir’s nose and pulled the cork free. Sky-blue smoke came out, dissipating soon after – so soon you’d think you would be seeing things. He would have to wait patiently as it worked its magic. Two minutes at most. That was all.
Walter gently plucked his husband’s paw from his side and felt for his pulse. He found it, and his heart sank into his stomach like lead to the ocean. It felt like he’d somehow run a marathon whilst he was gone. It showed little sign of calming down.
“Please work.” He noticed the crack in his voice as he repeated his plea, but couldn’t bring himself to care.
Twenty seconds went by. Nova ordered him to distract himself, to give Vladimir space for the potion to work. With nothing else to do, Walter fiddled with the rest of the vials in his shirt despite how they scalded him, noting which ones were genuinely empty and which ones held his husband’s medication.
Thirty seconds rolled by and still no change in Vladimir’s condition. Walter had finished sorting through the vials, which—to his surprise and his distaste—included some of his own medication, and began to pace the length of the tent. He checked on everyone in that time, focusing on those beginning to wake up. Strom was amongst them; his burns were the worst out of everyone in the Circus, travelling up his left arm to his cheek after getting it trapped under a pillar. Honk slept next to him, curled up against his right.
“How’s your burn?” he inquired, eyes locked onto the cloak wrapped around his arm. Honk’s cloak, dipped in what he’d described as the “nasty vinegar concoction”.
“Stinging,” Strom said, grimacing. His gaze, softened with respect, was on the male next to him. “Honk tried his best.”
“I can tell.”
He sighed. Walter noticed their paws clasped in one another between them and almost grinned. He’d been watching them grow closer over the past six months; he couldn’t wait to see what became of them.
“You get your rest,” he whispered, looking back at his husband who stayed limp in Nova’s chair. “You’ve earned it.”
“I should hope so,” the Carny chuckled, his voice hoarse. His eyes closed soon after. That’s when Walter made his way back to find something else to distract himself.
One minute dragged past, and Vladimir still showed no sign of waking. His pulse had slowed down. Not by much, but it brought him hope. Walter tore his shirt to strips after a few seconds. He dunked them in the pails of ice-cold water Aries brought inside and used them to wipe his husband’s brow. It wasn’t like he needed the shirt. Vladimir was more important.
At last, after chewing his claws to pieces and handing food out to those who have woken, two minutes trudged by. He cautiously checked Vladimir’s pulse. To his panic, it hadn’t slowed any more than the last time he checked. Nor had his husband stirred, or so much as whimpered since he stilled. Silence hung around him like a heavy, thick veil.
Walter’s eyes began to burn and his throat began to tighten. Biting his lip helped keep the worry at bay. The accompanying taste of copper didn’t reassure him.
“He’s lost consciousness,” Nova mumbled mostly to herself, opening one of his eyes only to close it a few seconds later. From what Walter saw, his pupils were in thin slits and unresponsive to the light around them. “We need to lie him down. It’ll be more comfortable for him.”
Walter nodded in agreement, his mind in automatic. He gently scooped Vladimir up into his arms and tried to ignore how his head lolled. How his arms, his legs, dangled uselessly. Even his wings offered little resistance. No muscles twitched or flexed against his forearms, no rustles or flutters, just an aching stillness.
“Walter,” a voice called from across the tent. His gaze landed on Solomon, one of their official dancers alongside Kalameet and Tara, who sat cross-legged beside Torny. To his relief, his son still slept. “I can help, if you want.”
“Are you sure?” He sounded robotic. His voice echoed in his ears, as if he heard it down a long corridor.
“Of course.”
It took him a couple of seconds to register his answer. Solomon was one of their kindest and sweetest members, yet somehow Walter didn’t expect him to want to help. He guessed he would be too exhausted. Apparently not.
“Thank you, Sol,” he said. He could barely register his movements, hefting an unconscious Vladimir over to where Solomon now stood in Vladimir’s previous space. He couldn’t focus, couldn’t think. Walter knew better than to think his husband damned. However still, the thought terrified him.
I did this, he thought, eyes stinging and blurring, If I was faster, if I hadn’t hesitated, I could have stopped this.
That same thought looped through his mind repeatedly as he placed Vladimir on his blanket. Putting him in a comfortable position and using whatever he could—Solomon’s blanket and a generous Nova’s cloak—to cover him up, Walter slowly returned to the forefront of his thoughts and actions. The shock eventually subsided. Replacing it was mass amounts of fear and guilt. It was enough to make him shiver.
A paw rubbed his shoulder. He knew it wasn’t Solomon—he’d gone to stay with Torny, who began to stir moments before—so he turned around, feigning a smile, to see the doctor behind him. Her bird mask continued to hide most of her face, yet something glistened in her eyes. Because of the tinted glass, he couldn’t tell what.
“We need a constant flow of his medication,” Nova told him, crouching beside him.
“What do you need?” Walter asked her. His voice sounded weak and broken, and he couldn’t help but glance around to see who heard it.
She frowned. “I need the usual ingredients, but in the dozens, as well as a small cauldron and a constant fire.”
Walter nodded and stood before anyone could talk him out of helping. You need rest this and you shouldn’t feel guilty that. He didn’t want to hear it as he stalked over to Leo and Hearth, two of their fire-related performers. Leo, being a Fire-born male, could keep the small flame contained and smokeless, with Hearth watching over him to make sure he doesn’t try to impress their twin acrobats, Luna and Solar. The amount of times he’d tried and failed was almost laughable.
Leo stared at him in a heavy-lidded gaze as he neared, the flare in his eyes dim. “Ey’ up, Walt,” he yawned. “You alright?”
He ignored the inquiry, fidgeting with his wedding band. Walter, my ringleader. “I need you to make and watch over a fire for me.”
“What kind, mate? If you mean that’un out there—”
“Just a campfire. Nothing you can’t handle, I’m sure.”
A glint of excitement flashed in Leo’s fire-stricken eyes. “Ya’d trust me with that?”
“As long as you don’t try to impress the twins, yes, I do.”
“Can’t promise ya that, mate,” he drawled with a wink.
Walter didn’t so much as smile. “Please, Leo. I’m desperate. If you really want, I’ll give you extra pay—”
His eyes softened as he held up his paw. “I was jokin’, Walter. I don’t want any extra money. Just ge’me some wood and I’ll set it all up, I promise.”
“Thank you,” he whispered, exhaustion weighing heavy on him.
“Don’t thank me, mate,” Leo told him, glancing at Vladimir’s near-still form. “It’s the least I can do.”
Walter left it there with a small smile. He turned and headed straight for Nova, who’d returned to her desk sorting through the vials he’d previously done in the hopes of learning from Sylvius and his own medication. It won’t go easy on her, he knew that much. Closing the distance between the two until he was a few feet away, Walter felt sorry for her.
“How are you feeling?” Nova inquired, making him jump slightly. She was renowned around the Circus for being solid and feared rather than weak and fearful. When it came to Halloween, no one could give her goose bumps, let alone scare her. Perhaps she had a sixth sense for presence.
“Doesn’t matter.” Walter eyed the desk before her, only to see no sign of any list of materials. Strange, but he ploughed on anyway. “What materials do you—?”
“None thank you. Aries has gone to do it.”
He paused for a few seconds before pulling a face. “Well, where’s he gone? I’ll go help.”
She shot him a sour look. “Nowhere that you’ll follow, Walter, because he requested that I don’t tell you.”
Walter frowned, snarling at the floor. “Just tell me, Nova.”
“No. Instead, what you can do for me—for your husband—is take care of your son.”
Starting, he looked around to see Torny had woken up. Tears streamed as he curled up beside his father, and Walter felt his heart crack in two. How hadn’t he realised his own son was awake?
“Go.”
Walter quickly made his way over members of the Circus to get to Torny’s side, his heart aching more with every shocked “Pa?” and “Papa, wake up”. His son was better off from most others; he escaped the blaze mostly unscathed, save for the few paper-thin scars littering his right wing. He looked brighter than most, too, his eyes shining as he cheered everyone up the night before. That looked far away now.
“Hey, beautiful,” he murmured, crouching down next to his son.
“Why isn’t Pa waking up?” he blurted out, visibly shaken. “What’s wrong with him?”
“He had an asthma attack. It’s...” Walter nibbled on his lip for half a second before continuing, trying to keep his tears on hold. “It’s my fault. I had to run into the fire to get his medication, and I hesitated. If I hadn’t, this wouldn’t have happened.”
Torny’s lip trembled. “He’s not going to die, right?”
“Of course not, this is Vladimir we’re talking about. Not even the Mist could kill him.”
Slowly, despite his reassurance, his son began to sob. The stun slowly dissipated from his eyes, and Walter sat on the floor and let him curl up in his lap like when he was four. He tried to think of something to say, something that would make him giggle or so much as smirk for a few seconds, but he came up with nothing. No jokes or tales floated around his mind. All he could do was hold him and gently rock him back and forth.
“When is he going to wake up?” Torny inquired into his chest.
“Soon, sweetheart. He fell unconscious, but Aries zoomed off to get the ingredients Pa needs almost immediately afterwards.”
Aries came in at the mention of his name, sweating to high heaven but without the panting and wheezing that followed Vladimir’s flight. By the entrance to the tent, both Leo and Nova scrambled towards him, urgency in their fast words and hurried thank you’s. Only then, after the visible dizziness of the rush had faded, he spotted them and crept over to their side, avoiding everyone but Honk on his way over.
“Hey, Azamas,” Aries drawled, sitting next to them. His gaze drifted towards Torny, and he had to prod him in the side to get his attention. “What’s with the long face, Little Blue?”
Torny frowned and buried his face into Walter’s shoulder. “Nothing.”
Their scavenger poked his side again, then opened his arms wide and smiled warmly. “Do you want a hug?”
It pained him to watch his son go to his uncle for an embrace, but he supposed it was for the best. A great state of mine was currently foreign to them both. Perhaps Aries could help him more than he could.
“He’ll be alright, monkey,” he reassured his son, rubbing his back between his wings as he trembled. “You have to get your strength from one of your dads, after all. I’m almost certain you got it from Vlad.”
Despite the situation—the tears threatening to spill over, the buzz of sorting out his husband’s medication, his son’s upset and his own inadequacy—Walter coughed out a laugh and slapped the scavenger’s arm. “You’re horrible.”
Aries grinned at him. “What’ve you endured that’s worse than Vladimir?”
“My father died.”
“And Vladimir was trapped in the Plague’s Mist for Deities-knows how long.”
“That’s nothing compared to living in the wilderness for nineteen years!” He huffed and frowned, waving his paws around dramatically. “Alone, might I add?”
“Two things,” Aries began, Torny watching them with a smirk, “one, you had Jackie for a lot of that time, and numerous girlfriends to date. Two, Vladimir could’ve died in the Mist whilst you were prancing around like a crazed, bisexual fairy.”
Walter feigned offence, clutching at his chest as both Aries and his son giggled. It was difficult not to smile, and the hurt hard to ignore. “Excuse me!”
“Am I wrong?”
“Well—”
Am I wrong, Walter?
At his stammer, Aries shook his head, a wide grin on his face. “Just face it, Walter—”
“I have.”
Both of the males stared at him in surprise. He didn’t know whether it was genuine or fake, so he carried on. “Aries is right, Torny. Your father is so much stronger than many of us could ever hope to be, and you inherit your own from him.” He smiled softly and ignored the odd tear that escaped. “If he’s anything like you, son, he’ll be more than alright before you can properly say the Peter Piper tongue-twister.”
In a desperate attempt, Torny tried to do just that. He ended up scrunching his nose and shooting him a raspberry after two attempts.
Walter’s smile faltered slightly. “Why don’t you and Aries go into the nearby village? You can get yourself some more art supplies there.”
“Aren’t you going to come with us?” Torny inquired, frowning.
“I’ll stay here and look after Pa.”
“Nope.”
The two of them looked at Aries, Torny with hope and Walter with confusion. He looked back at the latter with a stubborn smile. “What do you mean?”
“You’re coming with us, Walter. Neither of us are about to leave you here to mope.” Smiling, he looped an arm around his shoulder. “It’s what Vladimir would want.”
He sighed. Aries was right, after all, and he hated that about him. The last thing his husband would want for him would be sit around and do nothing but worsen his own guilt. “Go wait outside; I’ll be out in a minute.”
They obeyed, to some extent. Leaving him alone with Vladimir, the two temporarily split ways. Aries went straight to Jackie, who just woke up and slapped his ankle to get his attention, and began to talk to her despite how she looked asleep within a few seconds. Torny, on the other hand, stood near Solomon grinning like an idiot as he helped Nova. Solomon, of course, had his back turned to him; his gaze on Nova as they worked on that secret potion of hers, and in his son’s eyes rested a brand new shine he’d never seen before, not even when he was dating Strom; love, burning bright like candlelight.
How could he tell? Walter saw that same spark in himself for Vladimir, and still did every time he so much as looked at him. Perhaps Torny did get some things from him.
“Our son’s growing up too quickly, Viper,” Walter whispered, gently clasping Vladimir’s paw. “You better wake up soon; I’m going to need some help with teasing him.”
He could’ve sworn that his husband squeezed his paw in response.
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Note to self: Lore pinglist
@Ozie Oh gosh, things definitely got real omg [emoji=coatl scared size=1] Side note, you might notice that Solar's gone, but don't worry about changing anything! I pretty much decided that the whole acrobat thing wasn't for him and he pursued other things. Anyway, you write drama so well! I was on the edge of my seat several times ;v; I massively appreciate how you include other dragons, Silvius and Chipscale being on a medical emergency makes a lot of sense and really clears up any plot holes there could've been there. It just makes me feel like you know my lair really well and I'm touched. Oh! And the way Leo talks is amazing and I'm in love [emoji=heart size=1] Thank you so much again, I adore these stories so much, seriously they make my day every time [emoji=coatl love size=1]
@Ozie
Oh gosh, things definitely got real omg
Side note, you might notice that Solar's gone, but don't worry about changing anything! I pretty much decided that the whole acrobat thing wasn't for him and he pursued other things.
Anyway, you write drama so well! I was on the edge of my seat several times ;v; I massively appreciate how you include other dragons, Silvius and Chipscale being on a medical emergency makes a lot of sense and really clears up any plot holes there could've been there. It just makes me feel like you know my lair really well and I'm touched. Oh! And the way Leo talks is amazing and I'm in love

Thank you so much again, I adore these stories so much, seriously they make my day every time
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@Wendicat Hey! I'm sorry this took so long, I had a block with poor Dolor for a while, however somehow listening to Tangled's [i][url=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYfySVrQxto&list=RD6CJ96LGGP6w&index=3]Kingdom Dance[/url][/i] song on repeat got me out of that and helped me with the final scene. Don't ask me how, because I don't know either. It just turns out that something as lighthearted as that can fit a fight scene. I hope you enjoy her lore either way! If you have any issues, feel free to hmu! [quote=Dolor]-1- There are fates worse than death. Being locked in a library for Deities-knows how long, with only limited interaction to the outside world that she missed roving, wasn’t one of them. In a building that beheld as much knowledge as she could handle, Dolor felt at relative peace. The musty smell of old books, the aging armchairs of red fabric scattered around the open space and the hundreds of roses used as bookmarks, settling in huge ceramic vases up to her chin and winding around cracked marble pillars, relaxed her in many ways. However much she missed the fresh air, the sunlight on her face without the disruption of dirt-stained glass dome above her, the library kept her sane, kept her occupied. Days often turned into meagre hours when she found a good book. The one thing that still irritated her, even after two years of imprisonment, was the lack of spells and crafts allowed. Wards blocked her attempt at the smallest of spells. If she had the knowledge to destroy them, perhaps she wouldn’t be in this predicament; unable to complete her greatest work, a Plague to rule the Plague Queen herself. Of course, they had every reason to imprison poor Dolor. Her fantastical creation was at the top of her many achievements. Oh, how it danced around her digits, sang its sweet and encapsulating song to her - one of power and greatness, woe and destruction. She missed it greatly. Like a mother would her child, she loved her creation. That achievement shared its trophy with another; the strength that resided in her to live despite death looming over her, the Wormhole trying to swallow her whole, was that other. The death of her pursuer who killed her with her own creation wept at its second place prize. A smile, evil and twisting and wretched, stretched across her lips. The screams of Keres, her own victorious cry, rang out in her ears. [i]Now, that day was a day to remember.[/i] With care, Dolor put her book down on the table beside her, slotting a rose between pages 157 and 158. She stood with a slow stretch and a moan, then sauntered around the library for the second time in half an hour, her interest dwindling low. After two years, she’d at least started every book she could find. From fantasies to human mythology to books about insects, all of them had a rose marking the last page she had read. Very few were completely finished, deserving a reread after so long of sitting on a shelf. What stopped her was that she knew the ending. It dissatisfied her, to some extent. She loved a good story. None of these books littering the shelves offered her that anymore. Groaning, she gave her wings a stretch and flew for the glass dome settled into the roof. It was a small privilege; she could at least spy on the lair around her, even if there wasn’t much to spy on anymore. Eavesdropping was out of the question. Before, Dolor used to listen in on important conversations on the roof, as it was the Empress’s favourite spot. Her slave put an end to that. After a month into her imprisonment, she tried to break the windows and fundamentally ruined her fun. No one came up here after that. “My slave,” Dolor muttered, pressing a paw against the warm, now-warded glass of the dome. “Where are you?” Lilin, a Spiral she’d created just before her capture, was a sight for sore eyes, literally. Like Dolor and her malformed tumours, still thriving and bulbous despite her death, she had stitched the Spiral together like a ragdoll. Beautiful red lace was what held her together, a bright pink rose on each wrap of elegant fabric. Bandages swarmed around her snout and neck, where the stitches always fell loose thanks to her charm and writhing around the lair like a skinned snake. The only trait left of her from her life before was her eyes, red and gleaming like rubies beneath torchlight. No emotion ever appeared in them. Unlike other spirits, who were wrestles from guilt or from pain, Lilin stayed anchored to Sornieth through means of purpose; one she’d never found in her life. Perhaps she’d been innocent once, died too young or, like herself, she’d been bred for creations beyond their control. She sighed, her paw falling away. Too long had it been since she saw her old friend. Her only friend, at that. Other spirits differed from dear Lilin. They didn’t see a witch capable of powers fit to rule the Deities, they instead saw her as a threat, a Deity wannabe. They steered away from her, never so much as wailing too close to her just in case she snapped. It disgusted her to feel worried for her slave, though she couldn’t help but wonder where her little Spiral slithered off to months ago, what warranted her missing presence. Dolor hovered towards the ground, the floorboards greeting her feet with audible squeaks and groans. Loneliness and irritation consumed her. She chose to ignore it. Skulking around the edge of the library, paw to the cracking cobble and brick, she bore her gaze into the spines of books, willing herself to find something interesting. Something else caught her eye instead. Thin black lines spindled on the wall, up towards and along the ceiling across from her, plenty of rows away. Each rough edge, each fresh crack, in the stone appeared because of her. Her yearn to escape, to be free to do as she pleased. Of course, none of them gave way. If they had, she and Lilin would be far away, preparing their creation for the day of its release. Her paw began to sting before long. The runes of [i]Unbreakable[/i] etched into the stones most worn out burnt into her, their pain little against the agony of her tumours. Her imprint still lay in the stones from her pounding and screaming. Holes peppered the walls where she punched it, cracks splintered in an oval from shoving against them. A foolish temptation rose in her. [i]Maybe I can try again; maybe the runes have weakened—[/i] Dolor shook her head, scratching the wall with her claws. Her jewellery tinkled with the annoyed flare of her wings and the ripping of stone off the wall she had just traced. In hard and heavy chunks, bits fell to her feet. Runes flickered before her gaze, burning white and sparking. Just like the others, it was an [i]Unbreakable[/i] rune. A sigh escaped her and she moved away. As much as she tried to find a rune to counteract that of [i]Unbreakable[/i], runes weren’t her specialty. To try to undo it with magic was pointless, to say the least. Each stone protected such a rune. It would take days, if not weeks, to undo enough to be able to escape. “Dolor?” Dolor started, her gaze flicking away from the rune. The voice was familiar, though a year had passed since she last heard it. Peering through a nearby shelf of books, her gaze fell upon her suspect, and she nearly groaned. Folia had decided to turn up. Prophet and warrior of the Society of Souls, he stood proudly in the centre of the room, gazing at the ceiling-high shelves of tomes, manuals and novels with interest. Bronze armour and a brown cover protected most of his body, an orange scarf swinging around his neck to fight against the cold. Relaxation swept from his head to his toes. He didn’t seem at all scared to be there. Dolor growled quietly. She grabbed a book from the musky wooden floor, opening it to a random page. [i]Butterflies and their Meanings[/i] sat scrawled along the top of the page in golden, flowing letters. With a flush, she spied the spine of the book to see it was about insects. The rolling of her eyes was inevitable. “It’s lovely to see you, Folia,” she drawled as she rounded the corner of the bookshelf, eyes locked onto the words in front of her. She steeled herself against the upcoming taunt. The prophet snorted upon seeing her with the tome. For having been gone a year, he was still predictable. “Are you so bored that you’re reading about butterflies, Dolor?” “I miss them fluttering around my beautiful roses.” Dolor slammed the book shut, grinning at Folia’s slight surprise. “Who do you think took that from me, Folia?” “I had to do it. You know this.” She strolled towards him, a deadly and twisted grin tugging at her mouth. “What a shame, truly. I could’ve spared you from the onslaught of Plague I was about to unleash.” To his benefit, he didn’t say anything. Instead, Folia watched her draw nearer, eyes flicking with her every move. He stared at her paw as she laid the book to rest on her table, eyed her face as she moved nearer. He looked uncertain of her, like he’d forgotten about the numerous power-sapping runes in the walls. She loved it. Checking only once behind Folia, her grin widened. He’d left the door ajar. “Why did you come here, Folia?” Dolor inquired, ringing a rose from her flower-crown around her digit. “Surely you didn’t come here to see little old me.” “You’re right,” he murmured, hesitant. “I didn’t. I came here for a book.” She smiled sweetly, her next words smothered in honey. “Well then, dearest, I sure hope you find it.” Dolor shoved Folia aside. Ignoring his cry of surprise, she shot straight for the door. Scents of fresh air crashed against her senses. The sunlight leaking through the crack so unfiltered she could almost touch it; it all felt foreign to her. She couldn’t bear to be in the library any longer. Not with the outside world so close, she could grasp it. Something flung her aside. Her wings and back crashed into a bookcase. She cried out, temporary sharp pain blooming on her tumours. The shelf collapsed soon after she did; burying her in words that she couldn’t care less about. Growling, Dolor bore her glare into Folia. He stood a few feet away from her, slightly dazed, a spirit standing just behind him and glaring back at her. Before it dispersed, she could make out a small golden outline and four beady golden eyes staring at her with sympathy. Another snarl rumbled in her throat. [i]Apex, my dear, you certainly have nerves.[/i] He cleared his throat and dusted himself off, a hint of confusion floating in his eyes. “Don’t make me take the painkiller away, Dolor. You know how well that went last time.” “You mean you inadvertently tortured me,” she hissed, pushing and throwing books out of her way. The pain subsided into nothing, thanks to the numerous runes dotted in exactly the right places. [i]Painreliever[/i] runes were as specific as they come, after all. One mishap and you have to start again. Guilt flickered behind a curtain of softness. “That wasn’t my—” “Shut it, Prophet.” Folia did as she ordered. He took a silent step towards her, reaching down to help her. Instead of accepting like a rational dragon, a flurry of rage and longing sparked in her. She ran. Pain split across her body as soon as her foot touched the biting cold of stone. She couldn’t even gasp as she crumpled. The dirt came up to greet her face-first, and a small yelp came from her. Dolor tried to focus on something—her pain felt too much that Folia would have sufficed—but only white dots danced teasingly in front of her eyes. Even her rasping didn’t help her concentrate, tightness digging into her chest. Folia appeared eventually behind the curtain of dots. A sad smile spread across his face. “I told you,” he whispered, “didn’t I?” Only a whimper—one that she hated, one she would gladly trade for a snarl—escaped her. She couldn’t move. Her dignity hung heavy in the air, ready to split in two in front of the very male who trapped her. Folia moved to help her up. She swiped at him, gritting her teeth against a growing scream of agony. He smiled warmly at her. “Dolor, you can’t stay down there.” Her returning hiss didn’t move him. “Come on,” he cooed gently, reaching down to help her once more. She was grateful for the sudden distraction that was his warm paw. “Let’s get you back to the library.” Each movement was torture. Dolor her arm slung around Folia’s shoulders, leaning against his freezing-cold armour for support. The tens of seconds it took to drag her a few meters from the door into the library felt too long. Exhausted crowned her brow, pain paled her skin. She felt cut off from herself, as if she was witnessing it all from a distance. It almost felt like she was outside without pain as a limit. Despite herself, she chuckled. [i]Perhaps insanity is beginning to set in.[/i] As soon as she entered the library, she sighed. Relief swelled in her. The pain dissipated from her feet, then her legs and her arms. It continued to travel all the way up to the side of her face, where a tumour grew latched to her jaw. Before long, she fell from Folia’s grip, this time with her wings to cushion her fall. She felt too light to be living in this reality. She supposed she wasn’t alive. Folia chuckled, snapping her back to reality. Faint amusement danced with concern. “Feeling better?” “Get out before I kill you,” she choked, outrage flaring in her eyes. Her claws dug into the wood beneath her. “At least let me offer you this.” With a few swift movements, he shrugged off both his armour and cloak. He gently placed the armour on a nearby chair, much to her disgust, and threw the cloak over her. The faint smell of damp stone and smoke lingered, intertwined in the fabric, accompanied by the tiniest shavings of bronze coating from Folia’s breastplate. “Take your Deities-damned cape,” she growled, feebly shoving it aside in her attempt to sit up. “I don’t need your hospitality.” Folia stood aside quietly as she struggled to sit upright. He continued to stand there when she yelped and fell back to the floor, clutching a bulbous tumour lump on her leg. Only when she groaned, her head rolling against the floor, did he move towards her. “I don’t think you’ll be walking for a few hours,” he murmured, crouching down next to her. No mockery shone in his eyes, and no distaste tugged his mouth into a frown. The only positive to shine around him was the rune he sketched into her skin with a claw. “Stay there and I’ll go get you something to eat.” Dolor hissed at him, but it did little. Slowly and surely, her strength seeped out of her, crossing out the idea of shoving him away. Instead of viciously denying him, she used this time to her advantage. She stared intently at the rune he drew, memorising it, as he'd confirmed to her what it was within moments. The [i]Painreliever [/i]rune. Folia grinned down at her. He’d finished with the rune, which glittered against the red of her skin, and began to tuck her underneath his cloak. From what she could remember, it looked like a cross surrounded by tiny dots. “You get some rest, and I’ll bring you some food.” Dolor didn’t bother to stay awake long enough to see him leave. She had the information she needed.  -2- None of these runes looked accurate. A few of them appeared to be similar to the [i]Painreliever[/i] rune, but as soon as she blinked, the looked entirely different. No wonder none of them worked when she yelled their name, or when she drew their sign into the air with reckless abandon. You’d think it was the magic-sapping runes in the walls that would stop the runes from working, but somehow Folia managed to defy them whilst she couldn’t. The very fact enraged her, but she kept looking. Surely it was here somewhere. She just had to find it. “No,” Dolor grumbled aloud, throwing the book to one side. [i]Runes and Magistry, Volume II[/i]. It joined a pile on the floor, a foot away from where she sat curled up in a chair. Almost a seventh of the library lay in that pile. Growling, Dolor threw her head back and peered angrily at the dome above. Stars glistened in the sky, clouds shifting across them at an agonizingly slow pace. She missed lying under them. Her plague would dance around her digits, ready for further development the next day. It, like her slave, was always eager for the night-time to come by and bask them in its beauty. Perhaps Lilin enjoyed them by herself in recent months— She closed her eyes and sighed. [i]Stop thinking about her. She’ll come back, she has to.[/i] Knocking sounded at the great wooden doors of the library, booming and echoing around the old building. She cracked open one eye. Dolor hoped that it was merely her slave being polite. However much she hoped, she knew she was wrong. Lilin, for her charm, couldn’t knock on a door even when it hit her in the face. She stood with a groan, slotted roses in the pages she left open, tucked her hair tidily behind her ears and tied it up in a loose, messy bun. Just an hour ago, Dolor had woken up and immediately got to work. In her rush, she left Folia’s cloak bundled on the floor. She scooped it up with distaste and stormed towards the door. The temptation to thrust it into his paws and slam the door sparked in her. Dolor gripped the brass handle. Then she let go, scowling. She forgot she couldn’t leave. It seems Folia had, too. “Open the door.” He did so, peering around the corner with a faint smile dancing along his mouth. His eyes instantly fell upon the pile of books over way, then at half of the shelves which she stripped bare of the books that perched there for years, if not decades, without use. She couldn’t remember which ones she’d thrown, or where they went. All she knew was that she had to keep looking. “You’ve been busy.” “I had a sudden spurt of inquiry,” she snarled, shoving the bundle of brown-gold cotton into his arms. She gripped the door in a grasp of steel, ready to slam it and get back to work. “Goodbye, Prophet.” Just as Dolor moved to close the door, Folia stepped inside, barring the entrance. He then gently took the door from her. The soft click that accompanied his padded footfalls made her growl. Without knowing why, she’d begun to hope he’d leave the door open again. It was a foolish hope. She knew it was a mistake you only made once. Folia strolled aimlessly towards the pile. He nit-picked a book from the mound of tomes, scanning the spine then the pages. It was one of the oldest in the library. With the cover beginning to peel away from misuse and the pages staining a beige colour, she’d found nothing useful. On its spine held no title for one to glean, merely symbols of ancient runes alongside what looked like a common letter. Whatever it stood for, she couldn’t bring herself to care. “These are all rune books,” he muttered, raising an eyebrow at her. “Why are you reading them?” “I’ve finished the others,” Dolor lied, smiling with a sweetness to make a treat fairy sick. “The fantasies were my favourites. Alas, I can’t bear to read a book again, so I’ve moved on to the more… physical ones.” A flicker of emotion sparked to life in his eyes as he threw the book back onto the pile. She cringed. As much as she’d chucked other books, she was at least careful with the oldest of their collection. Such treasures, after all, were rare now-a-days. It would be a shame if they were to suddenly fall apart when they could yet be useful to her. Of course, as they were treasures, they may well sell for a lot of treasure once she escaped. Dolor watched with distaste from the door as her visitor removed his armour—recently polished, guessing by the dust of gold flecks that dotted the breastplate—and began to wrap himself up in his cloak. She was amazed to find that, despite spending an hour on the floor in a disgruntled pile, the cloak presented not a single crease. “I hate to spoil your fun, Dolor—” Folia narrowed his eyes at her and fastened his cloak around his neck, his armour resting neatly atop the pile of tomes. “—but we don’t have fantasy books.” “And I wondered why you weren’t as magical as dear Eris,” Dolor cooed, sauntering back towards her chair. “It seems you missed the rather obvious section of fantastical books near the back, isle five, shelves one through three.” He smirked at her once she curled up on her chair. She frowned. “You’re turning into somewhat of a librarian.” “I wonder whose fault that is, [i]Folia.[/i]” “Perhaps we should make that your job. It’d keep you occupied, to say the least.” Dolor’s cheeks began to burn. “You dare and I’ll skin you alive.” Folia, unlike any others, didn’t so much as flinch at her threat. If anything, his grin widened in its face. Of course, he had no reason to feel genuine fear from her. With being the Prophet of the Society, he had nothing [I]to[/I] fear. The other spirits protected him, and always would. “I brought you food, by the way.” A flicker of red scampered away in the corner of her eye, between a curtain and a shelf. Dolor waved her paw dismissively, eyeing the space with uncertainty and concern. A spirit was here. “Eat it yourself. I’m not hungry.” “That’s surprising.” She hissed at him and he grinned. “Go to—” An apple flew at her, catching her off guard. She only just caught it before it would hit her in the snout, causing it to ache for the next two days. It shone in the torchlight littering the library, reds and greens mingling with each other along its surface. Snorting, she proceeded to throw it into the air and catch it. “You know I’m dead, right?” “I also know you’re more alive than the others, Dolor,” Folia responded, irritation in his tone. He didn’t seem to be infuriated with her, but rather something else. Dolor couldn’t tell what. “You might be able to survive without food, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get hungry.” “Someone knows me better than I know myself.” A revelation came to mind and she slouched forward, taking a bite out of the apple. “Have you been spying on me, my dear Prophet?” “Nope,” he said, voice blunt, which was most unlike him. “The other spirits never scream about wanting food. They never get cravings.” Dolor gasped mockingly. “So you [I]have[/i] been spying on me? Why, you little cheat.” “The whole lair can hear you, Dolor.” He didn’t sound amused as he spoke, hurriedly strapping his armour on, growling when he got it wrong. Whatever was irritating him made her grin. “We hear you much better at dawn when you’re yelling for [i]pancakes[/i] of all things.” “Oh, do I love me some pancakes,” she sighed, clutching her chest in longing. The sweet taste of strawberries and sugar on a pancake was enough to make her mouth water. Her grin grew. “Would you mind getting me some?” Folia softened only slightly. “I’ll think about it if you behave.” “And if you behave, you won’t lose your head.” Before either of them could see the culprit of the voice—lilting, feminine and soothing to the ears like music—a cleaver rounded his neck and pressed against the skin. Its hilt glinted a murky gold in the torchlight, with evident finger perches. The paw holding it was white like snow, with a lace bracelet around her wrist. On it perched a beautiful pink rose, one like no other. Lilin’s head popped over Folia’s shoulder with a smile to match Dolor’s own. Folia sucked in a breath, surprise glistening in his eyes. “I should’ve known.” “You should have, really,” Lilin agreed, pouting. Then, in the blink of an eye, her pout sprang into a grin. “Good thing you didn’t though, right? That would’ve been a [i]bad mistake[/i] on my end.” “What do you want?” To hear fear in Folia’s voice as the blade drew the tiniest nick of blood gave her courage. Whatever crazy scheme her little servant has planned, she was almost certain it would work. “I want you to set my dear friend free.” “You know I can’t do that—” Lilin frowned, her wide eyes gleaming with mocking sadness. “Why not? I’m lonely out there.” He sighed, his paws clenched into fists. “She’s a danger to everyone.” “That won’t matter when she’s completed her Plague.” She giggled maniacally, her gaze turning insane for a split second. “She might even spare you.” “Lilin, listen to reason—” “I’m dead, Folia,” she drawled, pressing the blade harder against his neck. “Reason doesn’t matter to me. Now let dear old Dolor go.” “[i]Old?[/i]” she snarled, standing upright almost instantly. “Who are you calling [i]old?[/i]” “Evidently you, my dear master,” her servant sighed, bowing. With a paw in Folia’s mane, he followed her, grunting in agony. He didn’t seem to enjoy it one bit. “You’re many years my senior, after all.” “That doesn’t mean I’m old, child,” she said as she strolled to her side. “I died at a young age.” “If I let Dolor go,” Folia began, reaching up to pull Lilin’s paw free of his matted mane. The further digging in of her cleaver, drawing more ruby-red blood to stain his scarf, made him lower it once more. “How do I know she’s not going to cause danger to the rest of the souls?” “I’m stood right here. You could just ask me.” He gave her a level glare. “How do I know [i]you[/I] are not going to be a danger to the other souls?” She snorted. “Because they mean nothing to me. It’d be a waste of—” A flash sparked below her. She looked down just in time to see Folia finish sketching a rune; a signal for the others. “—Wait!” Before she could react, he swiped her legs from under her with his tail. With a cry, Lilin fell back against the floor next to her. She panted and clutched her chest. Folia stood and grabbed Dolor by her lei. He ignore the strain it put against her neck. It felt like wire digging into her skin. The roses did little to comfort her, falling to pieces as the life began to drain from them. All she could do was let out a strangled cry. “You two have inflated egos, that’s for sure,” Folia hissed. It surprised her to hear such a tone exit his mouth. Ever since he’d trapped her in here, in this confounded library, she’d never once heard him lose his temper. “Pretty much,” Lilin wheezed from the floor. In her eyes settled a deadly gleam, one that could flare to life at any moment. Dolor, in her choking state, hoped that was soon. She didn’t particularly want to pass out. “It’s why we love each other.” “More like tolerate,” Dolor coughed out. Glass shattered above them, and a sudden burst of pain blinded her. She found herself on her knees before long, gasping. It wasn’t Folia’s doing, for he’d never touched her. Only then did realisation dawn on her, as she drew the [i]Painreliever[/i] rune on herself. [i]The runes are gone.[/i] “It’s lovely to see you both,” Folia drawled from behind her, still keeping hold of her lei. She spared a glance towards the dome. A hole sat in its centre with glass raining down on them. Two Pearlcatchers drifting through it with ease despite their blindness. One was a dirty gold, silver in her wings. A rose wound round her tail and golden dress that accompanied her colours—a cape, wing ribbons and Roundhorns that curled around her ears—glistened in the moonlight. Her companion was the opposite. Where gold and silver shone on her, black and gold wrapped around him. He wore a coat and shawl of the same colours, both flapping in the winds of his movements, with claws that looked made for scarring; a permanent reminder if one was to ever cross him. A weak sound escaped both Dolor and Lilin. The two Pearlcatchers were none other than Eris and Discord, two of the most irritating and dull soldiers she’d ever met. “Having trouble, Folia?” Eris sneered playfully, landing with grace. Her mask shimmered with a soft golden sheen along where her eyes hid underneath. Discord’s did the same, a rune flickering on the side of their headdresses. [i]Sightseeing[/i]. They knew they were there. “It’s us having the trouble,” Dolor squeaked, her claw hooked at the knot that held her lei together. It felt close to snapping. “Oh, Dolor,” Discord crooned, edging too close her for comfort. No smile danced at his lips, no amusement shone in his tone. He sounded flat, like a broken instrument. “Maybe you should behave yourself.” “It wasn’t her,” Lilin piped up, her tone the direct opposite of Discord’s. “It was me.” Discord turned to face her. Her slave moved then, tackling him to the ground. Despite her efforts, Eris went down with them. Lilin’s blade whistled through the air with deadly intent, clashing with claws and orbs and horns. A scream of war, not of pain, echoed around the library and lair. Dolor took the opportunity of Folia’s encapsulation with the fight to kick his leg. It crippled him enough to loosen her lei. Gasping, she swung her tail used his tactic against him; she knocked his legs from underneath him. He fell with a confused cry, his armour clanking against the wooden floor. Dolor spared him only a glance and grinned. A daze settled in his eyes, furious blinks his attempt to get rid of it. Without looking back, she charged towards Lilin. Her servant lay sprawled on the floor, reaching for her knife as Discord pressed his paws into her spindly neck. Blood poured from his cheek, tears littered his cloak and shawl. He didn’t seem to care as Lilin struggled underneath his weight. The rips of his gold-coated claws scratched at her bandages. Dolor had to think quickly. So she did. Frantic, Dolor looked around for any kind of weapon. [i]A blade, or a candelabra, or even a book would do![/i] Then she stopped, grinning viciously. Her times of reading dull human history may be paying off. [i]Books are the most lethal weapons in the world. Arm yourself![/i]. The answer wasn’t with the use of a knife, but in the weaponry of writing. Her mind shifted from blade to paper, and she went on the hunt for the heaviest book in the library. Dolor knew that Folia would be up and attacking her soon, whilst Eris called for reinforcements. It was a good thing she knew exactly where to look. She ran for the back of the library, where the oldest of their books stayed. Her footfalls pounded against the wooden floorboards. “Get her!” Dolor heard Discord yell, followed by a whimper from Lilin. Fury and disgust flared in her heart. She reached the back of the library within seconds. Immediately, she began to scan the books, looking for one in particular. Narvinian Chronicles: the Sentries of the North. In it sat nine-hundred pages worth of once priceless information. A rose perched at the back of the book. Dolor found it and almost growled with satisfaction. Pulling it free of the shelf, she cackled to herself. “You’ll be of use to me one more time, my old friend.” “Dolor!” She didn’t spare Folia another glance as she rushed between shelves, knowing exactly where the entrances and exits lay. Two years in the library had proven useful indeed. At first, it was a maze. Now it was like walking the streets of the lair; she knew the place like the back of her paw. Unlike her pursuer, she didn’t falter once. As she would tell you, there are definitely fates worse than death, and this wasn’t one of them. Dolor rounded the corner to the centre of the room. Discord still struggled with Lilin, who now pressed her blade into the crook of his neck. As much as he might fool himself, a second death never scared her slave. It seemed he was beginning to realise that. “And we thought you could be trusted,” he snarled at dear Lilin. She grinned back at him. “No one can trust me, dearest.” The tome smacked against the back of Discord’s head with a loud, reverberating thud. Dolor grimaced as he slumped to the side, worry sparking until his chest rose and fell slowly with unconsciousness. She helped Lilin to her feet. Tucking the tome underneath her arm, she got to work with fixing her slave’s bandages. Folia appeared in the corner of her eye. The book she held caught the thrust of his blade. He swung his sword wildly, as if he wasn’t trained. It would’ve made her laugh if that wild swinging hadn’t sliced the tome in half. “Give up, Dolor,” he panted, gripping the hilt with two paws. “Never.” Lilin rushed aside when he attacked. Dolor dropped her two halves of the Narvinian Chronicles and backed away with each swipe. A shelf stood tall and proud behind her. All she had to do was lure him in. “For a soldier,” she sneered, jumping back once more, “you’re rather inaccurate!” He growled low enough that it could have shaken the library’s foundations. “Because I don’t deal in swords.” Folia lunged at her, sword singing through the air. He landed exactly where she wanted him to. She grabbed the edge of the bookcase and heaved it forward. It rocked forwards, slowly at first. The creaking and rising darkness gave away her intentions. Much to her irritation, Folia leapt out of the way just in time, his wing fan tearing with the sudden movements. The bookcase landed on the floor with a crash, and she was back to facing Folia. “Can’t win ‘em all,” she cooed sweetly, aggravating Folia further. He gave up with words and instead ran at her. Dolor didn’t have time to dodge; he threw his sword into the wall on one side of her and pinned her against it with his arm. The back of her skull cracked against stone. Warmth spilled down the back of her neck. A choked sound rose in her throat at the sight of the pools of muddy fury that became of Folia’s eyes. Gone was the gentle, earthy-brown. It was now war-time. “I should make you suffer,” he snarled, his voice low enough so that only she could hear. “But that wouldn’t be enough.” “Have I… caused that much trouble?” she tried to say. Her sarcasm and wit dissipated with some imaginary wind. All she had left was her pride. “Yes.” Folia let her go then, left her gasping for air she couldn’t grasp. Dolor never got to ask him what he was going to do to her. Lilin came up behind him and shoved him aside, making him trip on the bookcase. The crunch of wood against back made her cringe. “Fly, Dolor!” Lilin screamed, heaving her to her feet and spreading her wings for her. “Why are you still here?” “I—” Her tongue felt fat and sloppy in her mouth. She assumed it was the adrenaline that caused it. Confusion flared when Lilin sounded as tipsy as a sailor, her words slurring. “[i]Fly, you moron![/i]” She couldn’t. The strength in her legs gave way to numbness. The rest of her soon followed. Before Lilin could help her up, or even fly away herself, she too fell to the ground. Not a sound came from either of them. Panic rose in her and her blood thrummed in her ears. She didn’t know what was going on, but she didn’t like it. Not one bit. Folia stood before them before long, shaking his head. He dusted himself off as if nothing happened, as if the fight never took place. Then, with the click of his digits, Discord woke up and rose to his feet with the tiniest grimace. The two males stood aimlessly before them, glancing between the two for what felt like forever, until Folia delighted them with his presence on the ground level. He sat with them, a victorious smile playing at his lips. “Whadedyewduh,” Dolor slurred, her nose scrunching with the effort to keep her words straight. “I did nothing,” he remarked, paws up in surrender. “You did this to yourself.” “Whuh?” His smile grew. It became twisted with the arrogance of his winning. “The rune you used on yourself isn’t [i]Painreliever,[/i] like you thought. Instead, it’s one called [i]Punishment.[/i]” Dolor would’ve growled to herself if she could. Of course it was [i]Punishment.[/i] She should’ve guessed that; never would Folia be so reckless twice in one day. Unless the entire thing was a bait laid out just for her. He continued, much to her growing disgust. “As you well know, [i]Punishment [/i]is disguised to look like any rune the user wishes, as long as the one being inflicted behaves. As soon as that happens…” “Yewtraytor,” she snapped at Lilin, whose eyes widened with shock. “Oh, your dear servant had no hand in this,” Folia drawled. “However, she did let loose some delightful little details about you, like your impulsiveness. Since we already knew you were planning to escape, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put the rune on you.” “Eris should be back soon with Hestia and the trainees,” Discord grumbled. “Should we stay or should we go?” “We’ll stay,” he ordered, smiling slyly. “We wouldn’t want them to try anything in our absence and startle our new additions.” What she wouldn’t have given to punch him in that moment. [right][size=1][i]Made by Ozie in "[URL=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2371542]Ozie's Lore Shop![/URL]"[/i][/size][/right][/quote]
@Wendicat
Hey! I'm sorry this took so long, I had a block with poor Dolor for a while, however somehow listening to Tangled's Kingdom Dance song on repeat got me out of that and helped me with the final scene. Don't ask me how, because I don't know either. It just turns out that something as lighthearted as that can fit a fight scene. I hope you enjoy her lore either way! If you have any issues, feel free to hmu!
Dolor wrote:
-1-
There are fates worse than death. Being locked in a library for Deities-knows how long, with only limited interaction to the outside world that she missed roving, wasn’t one of them.
In a building that beheld as much knowledge as she could handle, Dolor felt at relative peace. The musty smell of old books, the aging armchairs of red fabric scattered around the open space and the hundreds of roses used as bookmarks, settling in huge ceramic vases up to her chin and winding around cracked marble pillars, relaxed her in many ways. However much she missed the fresh air, the sunlight on her face without the disruption of dirt-stained glass dome above her, the library kept her sane, kept her occupied. Days often turned into meagre hours when she found a good book.
The one thing that still irritated her, even after two years of imprisonment, was the lack of spells and crafts allowed. Wards blocked her attempt at the smallest of spells. If she had the knowledge to destroy them, perhaps she wouldn’t be in this predicament; unable to complete her greatest work, a Plague to rule the Plague Queen herself.
Of course, they had every reason to imprison poor Dolor. Her fantastical creation was at the top of her many achievements. Oh, how it danced around her digits, sang its sweet and encapsulating song to her - one of power and greatness, woe and destruction. She missed it greatly. Like a mother would her child, she loved her creation.
That achievement shared its trophy with another; the strength that resided in her to live despite death looming over her, the Wormhole trying to swallow her whole, was that other. The death of her pursuer who killed her with her own creation wept at its second place prize. A smile, evil and twisting and wretched, stretched across her lips. The screams of Keres, her own victorious cry, rang out in her ears. Now, that day was a day to remember.
With care, Dolor put her book down on the table beside her, slotting a rose between pages 157 and 158. She stood with a slow stretch and a moan, then sauntered around the library for the second time in half an hour, her interest dwindling low. After two years, she’d at least started every book she could find. From fantasies to human mythology to books about insects, all of them had a rose marking the last page she had read. Very few were completely finished, deserving a reread after so long of sitting on a shelf. What stopped her was that she knew the ending. It dissatisfied her, to some extent. She loved a good story. None of these books littering the shelves offered her that anymore.
Groaning, she gave her wings a stretch and flew for the glass dome settled into the roof. It was a small privilege; she could at least spy on the lair around her, even if there wasn’t much to spy on anymore. Eavesdropping was out of the question. Before, Dolor used to listen in on important conversations on the roof, as it was the Empress’s favourite spot. Her slave put an end to that. After a month into her imprisonment, she tried to break the windows and fundamentally ruined her fun. No one came up here after that.
“My slave,” Dolor muttered, pressing a paw against the warm, now-warded glass of the dome. “Where are you?”
Lilin, a Spiral she’d created just before her capture, was a sight for sore eyes, literally. Like Dolor and her malformed tumours, still thriving and bulbous despite her death, she had stitched the Spiral together like a ragdoll. Beautiful red lace was what held her together, a bright pink rose on each wrap of elegant fabric. Bandages swarmed around her snout and neck, where the stitches always fell loose thanks to her charm and writhing around the lair like a skinned snake.
The only trait left of her from her life before was her eyes, red and gleaming like rubies beneath torchlight. No emotion ever appeared in them. Unlike other spirits, who were wrestles from guilt or from pain, Lilin stayed anchored to Sornieth through means of purpose; one she’d never found in her life. Perhaps she’d been innocent once, died too young or, like herself, she’d been bred for creations beyond their control.
She sighed, her paw falling away. Too long had it been since she saw her old friend. Her only friend, at that. Other spirits differed from dear Lilin. They didn’t see a witch capable of powers fit to rule the Deities, they instead saw her as a threat, a Deity wannabe. They steered away from her, never so much as wailing too close to her just in case she snapped.
It disgusted her to feel worried for her slave, though she couldn’t help but wonder where her little Spiral slithered off to months ago, what warranted her missing presence.
Dolor hovered towards the ground, the floorboards greeting her feet with audible squeaks and groans. Loneliness and irritation consumed her. She chose to ignore it. Skulking around the edge of the library, paw to the cracking cobble and brick, she bore her gaze into the spines of books, willing herself to find something interesting. Something else caught her eye instead.
Thin black lines spindled on the wall, up towards and along the ceiling across from her, plenty of rows away. Each rough edge, each fresh crack, in the stone appeared because of her. Her yearn to escape, to be free to do as she pleased. Of course, none of them gave way. If they had, she and Lilin would be far away, preparing their creation for the day of its release.
Her paw began to sting before long. The runes of Unbreakable etched into the stones most worn out burnt into her, their pain little against the agony of her tumours. Her imprint still lay in the stones from her pounding and screaming. Holes peppered the walls where she punched it, cracks splintered in an oval from shoving against them. A foolish temptation rose in her. Maybe I can try again; maybe the runes have weakened—
Dolor shook her head, scratching the wall with her claws. Her jewellery tinkled with the annoyed flare of her wings and the ripping of stone off the wall she had just traced. In hard and heavy chunks, bits fell to her feet. Runes flickered before her gaze, burning white and sparking. Just like the others, it was an Unbreakable rune.
A sigh escaped her and she moved away. As much as she tried to find a rune to counteract that of Unbreakable, runes weren’t her specialty. To try to undo it with magic was pointless, to say the least. Each stone protected such a rune. It would take days, if not weeks, to undo enough to be able to escape.
“Dolor?”
Dolor started, her gaze flicking away from the rune. The voice was familiar, though a year had passed since she last heard it. Peering through a nearby shelf of books, her gaze fell upon her suspect, and she nearly groaned.
Folia had decided to turn up.
Prophet and warrior of the Society of Souls, he stood proudly in the centre of the room, gazing at the ceiling-high shelves of tomes, manuals and novels with interest. Bronze armour and a brown cover protected most of his body, an orange scarf swinging around his neck to fight against the cold. Relaxation swept from his head to his toes. He didn’t seem at all scared to be there.
Dolor growled quietly. She grabbed a book from the musky wooden floor, opening it to a random page. Butterflies and their Meanings sat scrawled along the top of the page in golden, flowing letters. With a flush, she spied the spine of the book to see it was about insects. The rolling of her eyes was inevitable.
“It’s lovely to see you, Folia,” she drawled as she rounded the corner of the bookshelf, eyes locked onto the words in front of her. She steeled herself against the upcoming taunt.
The prophet snorted upon seeing her with the tome. For having been gone a year, he was still predictable. “Are you so bored that you’re reading about butterflies, Dolor?”
“I miss them fluttering around my beautiful roses.” Dolor slammed the book shut, grinning at Folia’s slight surprise. “Who do you think took that from me, Folia?”
“I had to do it. You know this.”
She strolled towards him, a deadly and twisted grin tugging at her mouth. “What a shame, truly. I could’ve spared you from the onslaught of Plague I was about to unleash.”
To his benefit, he didn’t say anything. Instead, Folia watched her draw nearer, eyes flicking with her every move. He stared at her paw as she laid the book to rest on her table, eyed her face as she moved nearer. He looked uncertain of her, like he’d forgotten about the numerous power-sapping runes in the walls. She loved it.
Checking only once behind Folia, her grin widened. He’d left the door ajar.
“Why did you come here, Folia?” Dolor inquired, ringing a rose from her flower-crown around her digit. “Surely you didn’t come here to see little old me.”
“You’re right,” he murmured, hesitant. “I didn’t. I came here for a book.”
She smiled sweetly, her next words smothered in honey. “Well then, dearest, I sure hope you find it.”
Dolor shoved Folia aside. Ignoring his cry of surprise, she shot straight for the door. Scents of fresh air crashed against her senses. The sunlight leaking through the crack so unfiltered she could almost touch it; it all felt foreign to her. She couldn’t bear to be in the library any longer. Not with the outside world so close, she could grasp it.
Something flung her aside. Her wings and back crashed into a bookcase. She cried out, temporary sharp pain blooming on her tumours. The shelf collapsed soon after she did; burying her in words that she couldn’t care less about.
Growling, Dolor bore her glare into Folia. He stood a few feet away from her, slightly dazed, a spirit standing just behind him and glaring back at her. Before it dispersed, she could make out a small golden outline and four beady golden eyes staring at her with sympathy. Another snarl rumbled in her throat. Apex, my dear, you certainly have nerves.
He cleared his throat and dusted himself off, a hint of confusion floating in his eyes. “Don’t make me take the painkiller away, Dolor. You know how well that went last time.”
“You mean you inadvertently tortured me,” she hissed, pushing and throwing books out of her way. The pain subsided into nothing, thanks to the numerous runes dotted in exactly the right places. Painreliever runes were as specific as they come, after all. One mishap and you have to start again.
Guilt flickered behind a curtain of softness. “That wasn’t my—”
“Shut it, Prophet.”
Folia did as she ordered. He took a silent step towards her, reaching down to help her. Instead of accepting like a rational dragon, a flurry of rage and longing sparked in her.
She ran.
Pain split across her body as soon as her foot touched the biting cold of stone. She couldn’t even gasp as she crumpled. The dirt came up to greet her face-first, and a small yelp came from her. Dolor tried to focus on something—her pain felt too much that Folia would have sufficed—but only white dots danced teasingly in front of her eyes. Even her rasping didn’t help her concentrate, tightness digging into her chest.
Folia appeared eventually behind the curtain of dots. A sad smile spread across his face. “I told you,” he whispered, “didn’t I?”
Only a whimper—one that she hated, one she would gladly trade for a snarl—escaped her. She couldn’t move. Her dignity hung heavy in the air, ready to split in two in front of the very male who trapped her.
Folia moved to help her up. She swiped at him, gritting her teeth against a growing scream of agony.
He smiled warmly at her. “Dolor, you can’t stay down there.”
Her returning hiss didn’t move him.
“Come on,” he cooed gently, reaching down to help her once more. She was grateful for the sudden distraction that was his warm paw. “Let’s get you back to the library.”
Each movement was torture. Dolor her arm slung around Folia’s shoulders, leaning against his freezing-cold armour for support. The tens of seconds it took to drag her a few meters from the door into the library felt too long. Exhausted crowned her brow, pain paled her skin. She felt cut off from herself, as if she was witnessing it all from a distance. It almost felt like she was outside without pain as a limit. Despite herself, she chuckled.
Perhaps insanity is beginning to set in.
As soon as she entered the library, she sighed. Relief swelled in her. The pain dissipated from her feet, then her legs and her arms. It continued to travel all the way up to the side of her face, where a tumour grew latched to her jaw. Before long, she fell from Folia’s grip, this time with her wings to cushion her fall. She felt too light to be living in this reality.
She supposed she wasn’t alive.
Folia chuckled, snapping her back to reality. Faint amusement danced with concern. “Feeling better?”
“Get out before I kill you,” she choked, outrage flaring in her eyes. Her claws dug into the wood beneath her.
“At least let me offer you this.”
With a few swift movements, he shrugged off both his armour and cloak. He gently placed the armour on a nearby chair, much to her disgust, and threw the cloak over her. The faint smell of damp stone and smoke lingered, intertwined in the fabric, accompanied by the tiniest shavings of bronze coating from Folia’s breastplate.
“Take your Deities-damned cape,” she growled, feebly shoving it aside in her attempt to sit up. “I don’t need your hospitality.”
Folia stood aside quietly as she struggled to sit upright. He continued to stand there when she yelped and fell back to the floor, clutching a bulbous tumour lump on her leg. Only when she groaned, her head rolling against the floor, did he move towards her.
“I don’t think you’ll be walking for a few hours,” he murmured, crouching down next to her.
No mockery shone in his eyes, and no distaste tugged his mouth into a frown. The only positive to shine around him was the rune he sketched into her skin with a claw. “Stay there and I’ll go get you something to eat.”
Dolor hissed at him, but it did little. Slowly and surely, her strength seeped out of her, crossing out the idea of shoving him away. Instead of viciously denying him, she used this time to her advantage. She stared intently at the rune he drew, memorising it, as he'd confirmed to her what it was within moments.
The Painreliever rune.
Folia grinned down at her. He’d finished with the rune, which glittered against the red of her skin, and began to tuck her underneath his cloak. From what she could remember, it looked like a cross surrounded by tiny dots. “You get some rest, and I’ll bring you some food.”
Dolor didn’t bother to stay awake long enough to see him leave. She had the information she needed. 
-2-
None of these runes looked accurate. A few of them appeared to be similar to the Painreliever rune, but as soon as she blinked, the looked entirely different. No wonder none of them worked when she yelled their name, or when she drew their sign into the air with reckless abandon. You’d think it was the magic-sapping runes in the walls that would stop the runes from working, but somehow Folia managed to defy them whilst she couldn’t. The very fact enraged her, but she kept looking. Surely it was here somewhere. She just had to find it.
“No,” Dolor grumbled aloud, throwing the book to one side. Runes and Magistry, Volume II. It joined a pile on the floor, a foot away from where she sat curled up in a chair. Almost a seventh of the library lay in that pile.
Growling, Dolor threw her head back and peered angrily at the dome above. Stars glistened in the sky, clouds shifting across them at an agonizingly slow pace. She missed lying under them. Her plague would dance around her digits, ready for further development the next day. It, like her slave, was always eager for the night-time to come by and bask them in its beauty. Perhaps Lilin enjoyed them by herself in recent months—
She closed her eyes and sighed. Stop thinking about her. She’ll come back, she has to.
Knocking sounded at the great wooden doors of the library, booming and echoing around the old building. She cracked open one eye. Dolor hoped that it was merely her slave being polite. However much she hoped, she knew she was wrong. Lilin, for her charm, couldn’t knock on a door even when it hit her in the face.
She stood with a groan, slotted roses in the pages she left open, tucked her hair tidily behind her ears and tied it up in a loose, messy bun. Just an hour ago, Dolor had woken up and immediately got to work. In her rush, she left Folia’s cloak bundled on the floor. She scooped it up with distaste and stormed towards the door. The temptation to thrust it into his paws and slam the door sparked in her.
Dolor gripped the brass handle. Then she let go, scowling. She forgot she couldn’t leave. It seems Folia had, too. “Open the door.”
He did so, peering around the corner with a faint smile dancing along his mouth. His eyes instantly fell upon the pile of books over way, then at half of the shelves which she stripped bare of the books that perched there for years, if not decades, without use. She couldn’t remember which ones she’d thrown, or where they went. All she knew was that she had to keep looking. “You’ve been busy.”
“I had a sudden spurt of inquiry,” she snarled, shoving the bundle of brown-gold cotton into his arms. She gripped the door in a grasp of steel, ready to slam it and get back to work. “Goodbye, Prophet.”
Just as Dolor moved to close the door, Folia stepped inside, barring the entrance. He then gently took the door from her. The soft click that accompanied his padded footfalls made her growl. Without knowing why, she’d begun to hope he’d leave the door open again. It was a foolish hope. She knew it was a mistake you only made once.
Folia strolled aimlessly towards the pile. He nit-picked a book from the mound of tomes, scanning the spine then the pages. It was one of the oldest in the library. With the cover beginning to peel away from misuse and the pages staining a beige colour, she’d found nothing useful. On its spine held no title for one to glean, merely symbols of ancient runes alongside what looked like a common letter. Whatever it stood for, she couldn’t bring herself to care.
“These are all rune books,” he muttered, raising an eyebrow at her. “Why are you reading them?”
“I’ve finished the others,” Dolor lied, smiling with a sweetness to make a treat fairy sick. “The fantasies were my favourites. Alas, I can’t bear to read a book again, so I’ve moved on to the more… physical ones.”
A flicker of emotion sparked to life in his eyes as he threw the book back onto the pile. She cringed. As much as she’d chucked other books, she was at least careful with the oldest of their collection. Such treasures, after all, were rare now-a-days. It would be a shame if they were to suddenly fall apart when they could yet be useful to her.
Of course, as they were treasures, they may well sell for a lot of treasure once she escaped.
Dolor watched with distaste from the door as her visitor removed his armour—recently polished, guessing by the dust of gold flecks that dotted the breastplate—and began to wrap himself up in his cloak. She was amazed to find that, despite spending an hour on the floor in a disgruntled pile, the cloak presented not a single crease.
“I hate to spoil your fun, Dolor—” Folia narrowed his eyes at her and fastened his cloak around his neck, his armour resting neatly atop the pile of tomes. “—but we don’t have fantasy books.”
“And I wondered why you weren’t as magical as dear Eris,” Dolor cooed, sauntering back towards her chair. “It seems you missed the rather obvious section of fantastical books near the back, isle five, shelves one through three.”
He smirked at her once she curled up on her chair. She frowned. “You’re turning into somewhat of a librarian.”
“I wonder whose fault that is, Folia.
“Perhaps we should make that your job. It’d keep you occupied, to say the least.”
Dolor’s cheeks began to burn. “You dare and I’ll skin you alive.”
Folia, unlike any others, didn’t so much as flinch at her threat. If anything, his grin widened in its face. Of course, he had no reason to feel genuine fear from her. With being the Prophet of the Society, he had nothing to fear. The other spirits protected him, and always would. “I brought you food, by the way.”
A flicker of red scampered away in the corner of her eye, between a curtain and a shelf. Dolor waved her paw dismissively, eyeing the space with uncertainty and concern. A spirit was here. “Eat it yourself. I’m not hungry.”
“That’s surprising.”
She hissed at him and he grinned. “Go to—”
An apple flew at her, catching her off guard. She only just caught it before it would hit her in the snout, causing it to ache for the next two days. It shone in the torchlight littering the library, reds and greens mingling with each other along its surface. Snorting, she proceeded to throw it into the air and catch it. “You know I’m dead, right?”
“I also know you’re more alive than the others, Dolor,” Folia responded, irritation in his tone. He didn’t seem to be infuriated with her, but rather something else. Dolor couldn’t tell what. “You might be able to survive without food, but that doesn’t mean you don’t get hungry.”
“Someone knows me better than I know myself.” A revelation came to mind and she slouched forward, taking a bite out of the apple. “Have you been spying on me, my dear Prophet?”
“Nope,” he said, voice blunt, which was most unlike him. “The other spirits never scream about wanting food. They never get cravings.”
Dolor gasped mockingly. “So you have been spying on me? Why, you little cheat.”
“The whole lair can hear you, Dolor.” He didn’t sound amused as he spoke, hurriedly strapping his armour on, growling when he got it wrong. Whatever was irritating him made her grin. “We hear you much better at dawn when you’re yelling for pancakes of all things.”
“Oh, do I love me some pancakes,” she sighed, clutching her chest in longing. The sweet taste of strawberries and sugar on a pancake was enough to make her mouth water. Her grin grew. “Would you mind getting me some?”
Folia softened only slightly. “I’ll think about it if you behave.”
“And if you behave, you won’t lose your head.”
Before either of them could see the culprit of the voice—lilting, feminine and soothing to the ears like music—a cleaver rounded his neck and pressed against the skin. Its hilt glinted a murky gold in the torchlight, with evident finger perches. The paw holding it was white like snow, with a lace bracelet around her wrist. On it perched a beautiful pink rose, one like no other.
Lilin’s head popped over Folia’s shoulder with a smile to match Dolor’s own.
Folia sucked in a breath, surprise glistening in his eyes. “I should’ve known.”
“You should have, really,” Lilin agreed, pouting. Then, in the blink of an eye, her pout sprang into a grin. “Good thing you didn’t though, right? That would’ve been a bad mistake on my end.”
“What do you want?” To hear fear in Folia’s voice as the blade drew the tiniest nick of blood gave her courage. Whatever crazy scheme her little servant has planned, she was almost certain it would work.
“I want you to set my dear friend free.”
“You know I can’t do that—”
Lilin frowned, her wide eyes gleaming with mocking sadness. “Why not? I’m lonely out there.”
He sighed, his paws clenched into fists. “She’s a danger to everyone.”
“That won’t matter when she’s completed her Plague.” She giggled maniacally, her gaze turning insane for a split second. “She might even spare you.”
“Lilin, listen to reason—”
“I’m dead, Folia,” she drawled, pressing the blade harder against his neck. “Reason doesn’t matter to me. Now let dear old Dolor go.”
Old?” she snarled, standing upright almost instantly. “Who are you calling old?
“Evidently you, my dear master,” her servant sighed, bowing. With a paw in Folia’s mane, he followed her, grunting in agony. He didn’t seem to enjoy it one bit. “You’re many years my senior, after all.”
“That doesn’t mean I’m old, child,” she said as she strolled to her side. “I died at a young age.”
“If I let Dolor go,” Folia began, reaching up to pull Lilin’s paw free of his matted mane. The further digging in of her cleaver, drawing more ruby-red blood to stain his scarf, made him lower it once more. “How do I know she’s not going to cause danger to the rest of the souls?”
“I’m stood right here. You could just ask me.”
He gave her a level glare. “How do I know you are not going to be a danger to the other souls?”
She snorted. “Because they mean nothing to me. It’d be a waste of—”
A flash sparked below her. She looked down just in time to see Folia finish sketching a rune; a signal for the others.
“—Wait!”
Before she could react, he swiped her legs from under her with his tail. With a cry, Lilin fell back against the floor next to her. She panted and clutched her chest. Folia stood and grabbed Dolor by her lei. He ignore the strain it put against her neck. It felt like wire digging into her skin. The roses did little to comfort her, falling to pieces as the life began to drain from them. All she could do was let out a strangled cry.
“You two have inflated egos, that’s for sure,” Folia hissed. It surprised her to hear such a tone exit his mouth. Ever since he’d trapped her in here, in this confounded library, she’d never once heard him lose his temper.
“Pretty much,” Lilin wheezed from the floor. In her eyes settled a deadly gleam, one that could flare to life at any moment. Dolor, in her choking state, hoped that was soon. She didn’t particularly want to pass out. “It’s why we love each other.”
“More like tolerate,” Dolor coughed out.
Glass shattered above them, and a sudden burst of pain blinded her. She found herself on her knees before long, gasping. It wasn’t Folia’s doing, for he’d never touched her. Only then did realisation dawn on her, as she drew the Painreliever rune on herself. The runes are gone.
“It’s lovely to see you both,” Folia drawled from behind her, still keeping hold of her lei.
She spared a glance towards the dome. A hole sat in its centre with glass raining down on them. Two Pearlcatchers drifting through it with ease despite their blindness. One was a dirty gold, silver in her wings. A rose wound round her tail and golden dress that accompanied her colours—a cape, wing ribbons and Roundhorns that curled around her ears—glistened in the moonlight.
Her companion was the opposite. Where gold and silver shone on her, black and gold wrapped around him. He wore a coat and shawl of the same colours, both flapping in the winds of his movements, with claws that looked made for scarring; a permanent reminder if one was to ever cross him.
A weak sound escaped both Dolor and Lilin. The two Pearlcatchers were none other than Eris and Discord, two of the most irritating and dull soldiers she’d ever met.
“Having trouble, Folia?” Eris sneered playfully, landing with grace. Her mask shimmered with a soft golden sheen along where her eyes hid underneath. Discord’s did the same, a rune flickering on the side of their headdresses. Sightseeing. They knew they were there.
“It’s us having the trouble,” Dolor squeaked, her claw hooked at the knot that held her lei together. It felt close to snapping.
“Oh, Dolor,” Discord crooned, edging too close her for comfort. No smile danced at his lips, no amusement shone in his tone. He sounded flat, like a broken instrument. “Maybe you should behave yourself.”
“It wasn’t her,” Lilin piped up, her tone the direct opposite of Discord’s. “It was me.”
Discord turned to face her. Her slave moved then, tackling him to the ground. Despite her efforts, Eris went down with them. Lilin’s blade whistled through the air with deadly intent, clashing with claws and orbs and horns. A scream of war, not of pain, echoed around the library and lair.
Dolor took the opportunity of Folia’s encapsulation with the fight to kick his leg. It crippled him enough to loosen her lei. Gasping, she swung her tail used his tactic against him; she knocked his legs from underneath him.
He fell with a confused cry, his armour clanking against the wooden floor. Dolor spared him only a glance and grinned. A daze settled in his eyes, furious blinks his attempt to get rid of it.
Without looking back, she charged towards Lilin.
Her servant lay sprawled on the floor, reaching for her knife as Discord pressed his paws into her spindly neck. Blood poured from his cheek, tears littered his cloak and shawl. He didn’t seem to care as Lilin struggled underneath his weight. The rips of his gold-coated claws scratched at her bandages.
Dolor had to think quickly.
So she did.
Frantic, Dolor looked around for any kind of weapon. A blade, or a candelabra, or even a book would do! Then she stopped, grinning viciously. Her times of reading dull human history may be paying off. Books are the most lethal weapons in the world. Arm yourself!. The answer wasn’t with the use of a knife, but in the weaponry of writing.
Her mind shifted from blade to paper, and she went on the hunt for the heaviest book in the library. Dolor knew that Folia would be up and attacking her soon, whilst Eris called for reinforcements. It was a good thing she knew exactly where to look.
She ran for the back of the library, where the oldest of their books stayed. Her footfalls pounded against the wooden floorboards.
“Get her!” Dolor heard Discord yell, followed by a whimper from Lilin.
Fury and disgust flared in her heart. She reached the back of the library within seconds. Immediately, she began to scan the books, looking for one in particular. Narvinian Chronicles: the Sentries of the North. In it sat nine-hundred pages worth of once priceless information. A rose perched at the back of the book.
Dolor found it and almost growled with satisfaction. Pulling it free of the shelf, she cackled to herself. “You’ll be of use to me one more time, my old friend.”
“Dolor!”
She didn’t spare Folia another glance as she rushed between shelves, knowing exactly where the entrances and exits lay. Two years in the library had proven useful indeed. At first, it was a maze. Now it was like walking the streets of the lair; she knew the place like the back of her paw. Unlike her pursuer, she didn’t falter once. As she would tell you, there are definitely fates worse than death, and this wasn’t one of them.
Dolor rounded the corner to the centre of the room. Discord still struggled with Lilin, who now pressed her blade into the crook of his neck. As much as he might fool himself, a second death never scared her slave. It seemed he was beginning to realise that.
“And we thought you could be trusted,” he snarled at dear Lilin.
She grinned back at him. “No one can trust me, dearest.”
The tome smacked against the back of Discord’s head with a loud, reverberating thud. Dolor grimaced as he slumped to the side, worry sparking until his chest rose and fell slowly with unconsciousness. She helped Lilin to her feet. Tucking the tome underneath her arm, she got to work with fixing her slave’s bandages.
Folia appeared in the corner of her eye. The book she held caught the thrust of his blade. He swung his sword wildly, as if he wasn’t trained. It would’ve made her laugh if that wild swinging hadn’t sliced the tome in half.
“Give up, Dolor,” he panted, gripping the hilt with two paws.
“Never.”
Lilin rushed aside when he attacked. Dolor dropped her two halves of the Narvinian Chronicles and backed away with each swipe. A shelf stood tall and proud behind her. All she had to do was lure him in.
“For a soldier,” she sneered, jumping back once more, “you’re rather inaccurate!”
He growled low enough that it could have shaken the library’s foundations. “Because I don’t deal in swords.”
Folia lunged at her, sword singing through the air. He landed exactly where she wanted him to.
She grabbed the edge of the bookcase and heaved it forward. It rocked forwards, slowly at first. The creaking and rising darkness gave away her intentions. Much to her irritation, Folia leapt out of the way just in time, his wing fan tearing with the sudden movements. The bookcase landed on the floor with a crash, and she was back to facing Folia.
“Can’t win ‘em all,” she cooed sweetly, aggravating Folia further.
He gave up with words and instead ran at her. Dolor didn’t have time to dodge; he threw his sword into the wall on one side of her and pinned her against it with his arm. The back of her skull cracked against stone. Warmth spilled down the back of her neck. A choked sound rose in her throat at the sight of the pools of muddy fury that became of Folia’s eyes. Gone was the gentle, earthy-brown. It was now war-time.
“I should make you suffer,” he snarled, his voice low enough so that only she could hear. “But that wouldn’t be enough.”
“Have I… caused that much trouble?” she tried to say. Her sarcasm and wit dissipated with some imaginary wind. All she had left was her pride.
“Yes.” Folia let her go then, left her gasping for air she couldn’t grasp.
Dolor never got to ask him what he was going to do to her. Lilin came up behind him and shoved him aside, making him trip on the bookcase. The crunch of wood against back made her cringe.
“Fly, Dolor!” Lilin screamed, heaving her to her feet and spreading her wings for her. “Why are you still here?”
“I—” Her tongue felt fat and sloppy in her mouth. She assumed it was the adrenaline that caused it.
Confusion flared when Lilin sounded as tipsy as a sailor, her words slurring. “Fly, you moron!
She couldn’t. The strength in her legs gave way to numbness. The rest of her soon followed. Before Lilin could help her up, or even fly away herself, she too fell to the ground. Not a sound came from either of them. Panic rose in her and her blood thrummed in her ears. She didn’t know what was going on, but she didn’t like it. Not one bit.
Folia stood before them before long, shaking his head. He dusted himself off as if nothing happened, as if the fight never took place. Then, with the click of his digits, Discord woke up and rose to his feet with the tiniest grimace.
The two males stood aimlessly before them, glancing between the two for what felt like forever, until Folia delighted them with his presence on the ground level. He sat with them, a victorious smile playing at his lips.
“Whadedyewduh,” Dolor slurred, her nose scrunching with the effort to keep her words straight.
“I did nothing,” he remarked, paws up in surrender. “You did this to yourself.”
“Whuh?”
His smile grew. It became twisted with the arrogance of his winning. “The rune you used on yourself isn’t Painreliever, like you thought. Instead, it’s one called Punishment.
Dolor would’ve growled to herself if she could. Of course it was Punishment. She should’ve guessed that; never would Folia be so reckless twice in one day.
Unless the entire thing was a bait laid out just for her.
He continued, much to her growing disgust. “As you well know, Punishment is disguised to look like any rune the user wishes, as long as the one being inflicted behaves. As soon as that happens…”
“Yewtraytor,” she snapped at Lilin, whose eyes widened with shock.
“Oh, your dear servant had no hand in this,” Folia drawled. “However, she did let loose some delightful little details about you, like your impulsiveness. Since we already knew you were planning to escape, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to put the rune on you.”
“Eris should be back soon with Hestia and the trainees,” Discord grumbled. “Should we stay or should we go?”
“We’ll stay,” he ordered, smiling slyly. “We wouldn’t want them to try anything in our absence and startle our new additions.”
What she wouldn’t have given to punch him in that moment.
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@Ozie Holy crap this was absolutely worth the wait. Seriously, I love it! This deserves way more than what I paid for, so I'm going to go ahead and send a serious tip lol
@Ozie Holy crap this was absolutely worth the wait. Seriously, I love it! This deserves way more than what I paid for, so I'm going to go ahead and send a serious tip lol
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@Blueberrypodoboo After working on a particular Pearlcatcher, his sister drew me in with her possibilities, and so here's her part one! I'm making it somewhat of an unfortunate habit of sending one part at a time, aren't I? I hope it's not too much of a bother! She's been a lot of fun to work on and I can't wait to work on two and three. I hope you enjoy it! [quote=Rose (pt. 1)]-1- He was at it again. In the darkness of her room, with a few slithers of moonlight entering from behind the curtains, Rose could still make out the outline of her older brother sneaking around. Though both of them were dark colours, often mingling with dark rooms with near invisibility, their eyes always gave them away; bright green for the Wind flight and flickering with infinite amounts of playfulness. It was the same for her brother; mischief shone behind a cloud of anxiety. She frowned at the sight of it. Her brother was to graduate with the highest honours, with a job of the Priest’s Right Hand to prove it. It wasn’t to be taken lightly. Rose stayed still despite her urge to move and tackle him. Pride fluttered in her blood, mixing with worry as Alvin slunk towards her. She hoped that his new role wouldn’t steal him away. If that was to be the case, she wanted to make the most of it, so she stayed still with closed eyes in the hopes that he’d mistake her for sleeping and surprise her. “I know you’re awake, Rosie,” he whispered, perching on the edge of her bed. “You don’t have to pretend.” Groaning, she cracked open her eyes and smiled. His grin softened from into a loving smirk. “I thought you were with the cute new guy,” she murmured as she sat up, sounding almost spiteful. Alvin, in spite of his coolness, blushed in the moonlight. “I was.” “I still think it looks like he’s been stained with mustard.” “Stop being cruel,” her brother snickered, flicking her ear. “It’s not his fault that he’s covered in yellow swirls.” “Maybe he should be called Mustard, not Walter.” “Oi!” Rose scrambled away from her brother, grinning. His usual tactic was to grab her and haul her into his lap, refusing to let go even when she head-butted him, and tickle her until her voice was hoarse. Tonight, however, he merely smiled at her, unmoving save for the calm rising and falling of his chest. She frowned. “Is something wrong?” He started, confused for a split second. Then, in the presence of the deepening of his flush, Rose snorted. “You were daydreaming about him, weren’t you?” “Shut up,” he snapped, pulling a face. “He’s cute, alright?” “Alvin loves Mustard Man!” she exclaimed. A thought crossed her mind in that moment. “Does he even know your name?” Alvin rolled his eyes. “No, and I refuse to tell him.” “Why?” “I don’t know,” he admitted, shrugging. “I suppose I don’t want him to think horribly of me, considering what I am. And besides, he’ll learn it during graduation tomorrow.” A glimmer of something shone in his eyes for a split second. “I just hope that doesn’t change anything.” She cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?” “He invited me out for a drink with his friend after my graduation.” “I think Mustard Man likes you.” “Please.” He sighed, ears flattening against his hair. “He’s good looking, so he’s probably got a girlfriend somewhere.” Rose rolled her eyes. If she rolled them any harder, she was certain she’d see her brain. Unlike her, Alvin was shy, considerate and loving. He thought too little of himself and too much of those around him. She supposed it was their parents fault for leaving him behind, condemning him to loneliness and guilt before she came back to him. [i]They left because of me.[/i] Alvin frowned at her and flicked her nose. “Don’t you dare start blaming yourself again, you hear me?” “But—” “No.” The bluntness of his tone, a tone he rarely ever used, shut her up, her gaze on her brother as he spoke. “They ran off because they were incapable of looking after us, Rosie. That’s all.” “Incapable of looking after [i]you[/i],” she muttered, bundling herself up in her wings. “I obviously wasn’t an issue.” Alvin chuckled, prying at her wings. The brashness of his voice was gone, replaced by unimaginable softness. “Am I that much trouble?” “Yeah, no wonder the Priest shooed you away from the new guy. He was afraid that you’d be a bad influence.” “‘Shooed away’ is a bit of an understatement, if you ask me.” Rose giggled, unwrapping herself from her wings. Her brother wasn’t exactly the tallest male, or the bulkiest. When sat together, they looked almost like twins, except with entirely different personalities. Where Rose was your overgrown, violent eleven-year-old with a tendency of getting into fights, wear torn breeches and Alvin’s baggy shirts in lieu of her own fancy ones, Alvin was different. He was the gentle nineteen-year-old brother who’d patch her up and scold her at the same time, his silver half-moon glasses making him look like an old librarian and her birthday present to him—a crimson mage’s hat—scratching against the horns that made him look like a rhino. “You gonna be okay tomorrow?” he inquired, raking a paw through her matted mane. He sounded almost hesitant. Frowning for her brother, she nodded. “I should be asking you that, though.” He grinned and rooted around in the pocket of his tunic. “I bought something for you, actually, whilst out with the Priest.” “You forgot to mention Mustard.” “Well then,” he began, pulling his paw out with nothing in it, “I won’t give it to you.” “Nooo!” Rose cried, flopping into her brother’s lap. “I’m sorry I insulted your future husband. Can I have it now?” “I’ll think about it.” “C’mon! Please?” “Maybe later.” Rose growled into his tunic and shot him an angry stare. “Is it like that snow globe you got me?” “That was pretty!” her brother exclaimed, a mockery of hurt crossing his face. Grinning, she said, “I know.” Alvin sneered at her and eventually pulled out a red velvet box. A ribbon of green settled in a lovely neat bow kept the box together, a tag with her name on it hanging from it. After rubbing it with his digit, he handed it over with a smile that could make even the Priest smile back. “You’ll like this, I promise.” Rose took it and hummed in thought, weighing the box in her paws. Nothing shifted inside, so a pendant was out of the question. Lifting it, she looked around for any indication of what it could be before she opened it. It seemed, however, that he brother had learnt his past mistake. “Unfortunately,” he cooed, “you can’t see through material.” “Shut up, stupid!” she snarled. Alvin laughed, slapping her attacks away with gentle baps. At her mercy, he refused to give away what was inside of his box. She opened it in time, growling at him for teasing her. It quickly died in her throat, giving way to a small, partially delighted gasp. Slowly, she lifted her present out of the box and held it up to get a better look. Her heart sank into her stomach at the gorgeous black lace necklace in her grasp. A ruby rose jutted out before her, shimmering lightly in the soft rays of moonlight. Slowly, she ran her digit over the apparel. Both rose and necklace were soft to the touch, the material shifting pleasantly under her touch. “A rose,” she remarked softly, lowering the rose into her lap. “Typical.” Alvin snickered. “I couldn’t help myself.” When Rose looked up at her brother, he gave her a soft, innocent look, almost begging her. “Want me to help you put it on?” With the knowing glint in his eyes, Rose knew she could say no, that she could do it herself, and her brother would accept it. However, as hard as she might be with others, she couldn’t bring herself to be that way with Alvin. She didn’t want to hurt him, and besides, time with her brother was something she never denied. “That’d be nice.” His face lit up with a bright grin. As she turned, her back to him and her mane of hair out of the way, exposing her neck, he began to work on pulling the necklace tight. He made sure to be gentle, and asked her constantly if it was choking her or hung loose when he tugged on the strands. Rose sighed, snagging his attention. Alvin gently tapped her shoulder. She swivelled to see him frowning at her and had to look away. “What’s wrong, Rosie?” “I don’t want you to go,” she murmured, pouting. “I’m still going to be here, silly,” her brother sighed, not exasperatedly, tying the strings on the necklace. “Still...” “There,” he murmured at last, the silk soft against her neck. She turned to see he looked pleased with himself, as if it was an achievement. “Is that okay?” “Yeah,” Rose grinned, a strange smell drifting up into her nose. She grimaced. “Why does it smell funny?” “Ah, that’ll be the charm I put on it.” Rose raised her eyebrow at her brother, smirking. “Is it a masking spell? Does the necklace really look like two misshaped scraps?” Alvin shrugged, lips pursed. “No. It’s more like a linking spell.” At her confusion, he showed her his digit. A spot of dried blood stained the end. “An item can be linked to a dragon as long as you have a bit of their blood. Now, that necklace will tell you where I am to save you from your worry. I’ll have to do it again every so often, but it should stay for a few months.” “Did it hurt?” “Deities, no,” he chuckled. “It didn’t hurt at all.” She threw her arms around him with a wide smile. “Good. Thank you for the present.” He wrapped her up in a tight hug and kissed her forehead. “Love you, worrywuss.” “Love you too, stinkbrain.” “Excuse me!” The door clicked open before she could throw another insult, prompting the siblings to peer into the open doorway. The School’s headmaster, the Priest, stood in the doorway, eyebrow raised. Even though he was a Mirror, he was taller than the two of them, with calico colours—black, white and orange—spotting his body like he’d been splattered with paint. A hat of bamboo rested on his head, a tunic of bright green similar to Alvin’s own hugged his body. Nobody but Alvin knew his name, and even as his sister, he refused to tell her. “Sir,” Alvin said by way of greeting, smiling sheepishly. “I told you to go to bed and stop flirting with Walter,” the Priest informed him. The smile tugging at his mouth was mistakable for a snarl. “That doesn’t mean go see your sister.” “I had to, Sir. I got her the necklace, after all, and never had the chance to hand it to her.” “I’ll let you off, then.” The Priest looked at her, head titled. “Do you like it?” “Yeah!” “Good.” Her brother relaxed slightly as soon as the door clicked closed behind the Priest. He stood in the middle of the room, had his softened gaze locked onto Rose. She didn’t know why, but she hated it. “How are you, my dear?” “I’m fine, Sir.” He snorted knowingly. “And I’m not the Priest. What’s wrong?” “You’re not worried about my graduation, are you?” Alvin inquired with a hint of sarcasm, arm looped around her shoulders. “Kinda,” she admitted, curling up against his side. “I’ll miss you.” “I’m not going anywhere, stupid. I’ll just be a bit busy.” She should’ve smiled. “That’s the problem.” Alvin tutted. He ruffled her hair again, his face buried in it soon after. “I’ll come see you as often as I can during the day, okay? I’ll also be right here with you every night and every other weekend for the [i]entire[/i] two days. Can you believe that?” “Really?” Rose cried, smiling up at her brother. “Really.” He turned her gaze in the direction of the Priest. “We had a talk about it a couple of nights ago.” “We also discussed his pay,” the Priest informed her, crouching down before the two siblings, “which is roughly seventy-thousand a week. It includes his bonus to help look after you and an added bonus for anything extra would bring it to about ninety-thousand.” “All in all, we’re going to be rich,” Alvin added with a wink. Rose giggled. The reality of the situation quickly cut it short. “I’ll still miss you, though.” Her brother sighed, keeping her close. “That can’t be helped I’m afraid, Rosie. It’s either I take this job as it is or I struggle to find another.” With no hesitation, he flicked her nose again, causing her to frown. “As much as I’m busy, at least we’ll be stable.” She moaned. “I’ll miss you.” “I’ll miss you too, maggot.” Rose smacked his arm, smiling at his laughter and shrieking. Slams echoed up from downstairs, on the large mahogany doors constantly guarded by men vowing loyalty to the Priest. Why, she didn’t know. She always guessed that it was because the Priest lived here, but the security increased in the last few weeks. Neither Alvin nor the Priest would tell her why. “I’ll go get that, it may be my delivery,” the Priest mumbled, standing up with a groan and a stretch, his eyes settled on them. “Alvin, Rose, say your goodnights. You both need to be up early tomorrow.” “Do I [i]have[/i] to attend stupidnose’s graduation?” Rose groaned alongside Alvin complaining, “Does ugly face [i]have[/i] to attend my graduation?” The Priest shook his head. The two siblings snickered. “You’re both ugly [i]and[/i] stupid, now get to bed. I want you both up by dawn.” “[i]Dawn?[/i]” they remarked in harmony. “Dawn,” he repeated. A sly smirk danced along his lips, but it wasn’t towards her. “I’m sure your brother, Rose, would love to continue his flirting with the circus performer.” Just as Alvin moved to object in the midst of her chortling, his words tumbled over themselves and the door clicked closed just as they straightened out. The Priest’s laughter rolled along in the near-silence of the world. Genuine guilt rested on Alvin’s features when he turned to face her. “You didn’t take all of that literally... did you?” “No,” she said, hoping her smile would cheer him up. It did. He tucked a strand of ruby hair away before pushing her head back down onto the pillow. “Good,” he whispered, his green eyes soft and loving once more. “I’ll talk him out of it, then.” “You sure you don’t want to spend a lot more time with your circus boyfriend?” “He’s not my boyfriend and you know it.” Rose giggled at his flush. “Can I have a hug before you go?” Alvin opened his mouth, about to say yes, when the Priest called for him. “Dakota’s at the door! He wants to see you!” Rose watched in sadness as her brother tensed and winced. His smile returned seconds later, though it faltered as he stood. She didn’t like the anxiety in his eyes and stature. Something was wrong. “I better go see him,” he muttered, ruffling her hair again, “being my—” His pause unsettled her. “—ex, and all. I’ll see you tomorrow morning, okay?” Slowly, she nodded. “Okay.” At that, he winked and left. She waited until the thuds drifting to the lower floor ceased to be, counting the seconds until the fourth step from the ground floor creaked. Rose counted it as her signal to move and devise what was wrong. So many questions went unanswered, and what for, because of her age, or otherwise? She didn’t like it. In fact, she hated it. The cold wooden floor of her room nipped at her feet, yet didn’t give way to sound once, as she reached the door to the carpeted landing of green. Her door’s brass doorknob, with its dent in the centre because of Alvin’s clumsiness two years ago, felt slipper in her sweaty grasp. Twisting it, she cracked the door open and half-expected guards to be on patrol, yet only silence loomed out at her. Another thing she didn’t like. Rose allowed her mind to drift to something else. The embroidered silver threads of the carpet resembled twisting patterns meaning [i]Loyalty[/i] and [i]Reliance[/i], from what she could recall from Alvin’s history books. She kept her eyes trained on them to lower her anxiety. Slowly, she closed the door to her room. The click of the lock echoed in her ears. She let herself sigh in relief when voices drifted up the stairs, evidently unaware of her new presence. “—here?” the Priest inquired. He sounded furious. “You were kicked out months ago.” “Surely you don’t have an issue, do you Priest?” another voice snarled. Dakota. “After all, I’m still dating Alvin, your precious student.” “No... no you’re not,” she heard her brother whisper as she crept down the stairs, perching high enough so that she was out of sight but low enough to peer through the banister. Her heart wrenched at the sight of her brother cowering slightly. Confidence had never been his forte. “We broke up two months ago.” “I suppose so,” Dakota drawled. His golden figure drifted into view, draped in a contrasting black cloak from his days at the School. Unlike Alvin, most students of the School wore black, designating them as anything but the future Right Hand. “However, I also heard you’re about to see someone new.” A dark chuckled rebounded up the staircase. Rose barely stifled her shiver. “I wonder, Alvin. What’s made you stoop so low as to fantasize over a [i]circus act?[/i] Desperate, by chance?” “Dakota, please stop.” “Leave Alvin alone,” the Priest snapped, moving to stand between Alvin and Dakota. “He’s ended your relationship, and you know that.” He looked behind Dakota and nodded to two guards standing by, awaiting orders. Which two, she didn’t know. She could only see their polished boots. “You can leave.” “Oh, hush,” he drawled, paws drifting to his cloak’s pockets. She could’ve sworn one was bulkier than the other. “I’m not here about that anyway.” “What are you here for?” Slowly, Dakota drew something silver from his pocket. His eyes locked onto hers, blue and depthless in the torchlight of the hallway. She flinched. “Rosie.” Alvin turned, fear in his eyes. He screamed her name, he told her to run. She couldn’t. Not even as Dokata charged at her, blade in hand, did she run. Instead, Rose did what she hated; she cowered, head ducked between her paws, and screamed. She only felt safe when he stumbled a foot from her and growled at whoever stood behind him. One of the guards—her favourite, at that, called Izzy—grabbed at his tail, keeping him away from her. In a flash of green and orange, the Priest launched himself at her pursuer. He took Izzy’s place as she drew her blade with a hiss. Catching Dakota’s cloak, he flung him back down the stairs. Alvin took that opportunity to run. He didn’t run away, but towards her. Protecting her, as his only family, was his top priority. In that moment, she didn’t understand why. She forgot the danger she was in. “Rosie!” Alvin reached her within seconds, cupping her face. He ignored the mess behind him. “What are you doing out of your room?” Words failed her. She watched with wide eyes at the scene behind her brother instead. Dakota was scrambling to his feet, murder in his eyes. The Priest had his back to her. He flung his broken bamboo hat across the room. Izzy and a guard she didn’t recognise guarded the door. A jewelled sabre hung in his slack grip. “Get Rose up to her room,” the Priest growled, swiping at Dakota to keep him from running towards them. Alvin turned to him. “Sir—” “Do it, Alvin!” Without a second’s more hesitation, he hoisted Rose up onto her unsteady feet and dragged her away. All fell quiet as they raced away. That was, until Dakota screamed something—perhaps “traitor”?—followed by a cry of agony. The sound from the floor below rebounded around them. It trapped her, muddled her. She couldn’t tell who screamed. “You need to get somewhere safe, Rosie,” Alvin whispered, stopping on the landing. He checked behind them to make sure no one was nearby. “Go to Shouhei’s room. I need to stop Dakota.” [i]His name’s Shouhei?[/i] “But—” He shut her up with a tight hug. “Go, before he sees where you’ve gone. I’ll come up and get you when it’s over.” Thinking she would run, he turned and crept towards the staircase with the stealth of a housecat. No doubt he’d used [i]Quieten[/i] on himself. Off came his cloak in a single shrug. He bundled it up in his paws and, without looking behind him, threw it towards her. The voice that came next sounded nothing like her brother, but was too close to be anyone but. He spared her only a sideways glance. Authority and confidence caked his eyes. “I promise I’ll come get you, now go before I make you.” Trembling, she behaved herself. She yanked the cloak over herself and charged up one staircase. Then another. For every two stairwells was one floor. The room she needed was on the top floor. Never before had it been a problem for her, not when Alvin often raced her up and down during the dull days, but now she could barely catch her breath. Rose tugged the cloak around her, her breathing ragged. She knew she couldn’t stop. The top floor staggered her for a few seconds, primarily because of the lack of guards. More often than not, no one but Alvin and two others had permission to venture beyond the top step of the final staircase. Because of this, the beautiful orange and black swirls of the Priest’s door took her purely by surprise. She shook her head and surged for the handle. The door clicked open all too easily. Caring was beyond her now. She wanted to wait for Alvin. Slamming the door behind her, she panicked. With so many places to hide and so little time to do so, how was she to conceal herself properly? Shouhei had a wardrobe perched in one corner, made from some of the richest wood around. A bed sat opposite, a surprisingly common cover over the top. “Where’s the child?” she heard Dakota cry from a lower floor. “Where have you taken her?” “She ran off,” her brother yelled back at him. “You’ll have to kill me to find her.” Rose refused to listen any longer. She dove under the bed, used Alvin’s cloak to cover herself. Her new objective was to block out every sound. The screams, the thuds, the guards finally arriving to help at the door; she wanted it all gone. She imagined herself snuggled up in bed, Alvin talking to her to soothe her after a nightmare. One sound, abrupt and unclear, shattered her thoughts; a scream. Rose wasn’t sure who’s. She hoped it was Dakota’s, though something wrenched at her heart. Pain spiralled across her chest, and she gasped. It wasn’t anxiety that caused it. As much as Shouhei often joked about how inseparable they were, they had a reason for it; their connection. Panic consumed her, throwing aside her sense of preservation as she screamed, “[i]Alvin![/i]” Rose scrambled out from under the bed, Alvin’s cloak trailing behind her, and charged for the hallway. The brass bit into her paw in her iron grip. She yanked on it and threw open the door. It slammed against the wall, damaging it. A hole lay where knob hit plaster. After that, upon racing out into the hallway, not a second thought about it crossed her mind. Her foot caught the edge of the carpet and sent her stumbling into the opposite wall. A painting fell to the floor with a thud, but not before the edge caught her forehead. The slam snagged the attention of the silhouette at the end of the hall. He’d only just staggered up the stairs, and lay on the ground panting. She half expected it to be Dakota. After all, she wanted her brother to succeed and rid them of the terror. He raised his head in her direction. It took him a second or two to see her. As soon as he did, relief plastered his features. “Rosie.” Before she could utter another word, Alvin got up and staggered towards her, one paw to the left side of his face, the other twitching with a spell she didn’t recognise. Blood dripped from his jaw, his chest, staining his dark breeches a deep red-purple. Rose was almost certain they’d all scar. “You’re hurt,” he murmured, using the spell paw to wipe at her forehead. Blood came free, though not much. “So are you,” Rose stammered, using a shaking paw to try and uncover his eye. “Rosie—” “Move your paw, Al.” Hesitantly, he obeyed. Her lip trembled at the sight of it. Blood swelled from his mid-brow to his cheekbone, dripping down his jaw and neck. Grey stained his left eye in place of a gorgeous green, of which only flecks remained. Beneath all of it was a deep, thick gash. To look at it made her feel sick, dizzy. She must’ve swayed on her feet, for her brother reached for her, steadying her. “Take it easy,” he murmured as he helped her sit down besides the painting. She sobbed. “He hurt you.” Alvin sat with her and pulled her into a hug. He had the audacity to gentle shush her, even as warmth dribbled down her neck. “I love you, Rosie.” “Al—” He didn’t hear her. “I love you. No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, I’ll always love you and that’ll never change.” A storm of thudding sounded up the stairs. At first, she thought it was the guards, but as soon as a golden head peered around the corner of the stairwell, she stiffened. She couldn’t run, just like before, and it seemed Alvin knew that. After all, the top floor only held one room with no safe way down to the ground, save for flying. Rose wasn’t like other dragons, in that sense. She couldn’t fly. Why? Her fear of heights prevented her from even hovering, let alone soaring among the clouds with reckless abandon. Her brother stuffed an object into her paws. Then, he let go. Rose only saw a blur after that. Black and red clashed with gold and black as tears streamed, screams of war rang as her own voice failed to make a peep. Black ripped, white sang, blue sparked. She tried, feebly, to grab her brother. She wanted to pull him away. The last thing she wanted was for him to suffer because of her. Hell, she was willing to give herself over as long as Alvin didn’t get hurt. Yet she couldn’t reach him in time. Then, a flash of yellow appeared at her brother’s side. She knew that spell. “Alvin, don’t!” Rose saw a split second of hesitation, a flicker of his free paw as if he wanted to reach for her. That was all before he cried those fateful words. “Dakja mourhin!” A bright flash blinded her for a few seconds. It left lights dancing in her eyes, the kind that she had to blink away furiously. As soon as they dispersed, disbelief clouded her mind. She couldn’t tear her gaze away from the space at the end of the hall. It was empty, save for a single, silver blade. Rose didn’t know how long it was until the Priest came stumbling up the stairwell. A mask obscured his face from her eyes, but she knew it was him. She didn’t know anyone else who would wear an elegant tunic in the midst of battle, blood spotting it in a constellation. He noticed her instantly, rushing past the blade. “Rose,” he whispered gently as he sped towards her. Crouching down before her, she could see more blood leaking from under the mask. “Where’s your brother?” She didn’t answer. Her tongue didn’t convey what she wanted to say, not that it bothered her. The dust flickering in the space at the end of the hall, dancing in the moonlight coming in from a stained window, preoccupied her. The speckles would turn purple, then white, the green with every twirl and swirl. They filled the very space her brother had once stood in. “Rosie?” Blood spattered the carpet, one a deeper red than the other one. Her brother’s blood mingled with the wretch’s blood, like a hero with a villain. A necromancer and a warlock went head-to-head there. You can guess which one was which. Only Rose and Shouhei knew the full truth of it. It’d take her brother’s death to break her. The object in her paws suddenly felt weighty with knowledge in her paws, the waterproof leather cover brushing against her thumb. Her brother’s notes and readings of the one place he’d gone to sat inside. Endless hours of studying, watching, and learning; every one of them Alvin had recorded in this very notebook. A sob, harsh and silent in her throat, scraped up her throat like a blade. She doubled over into Shouhei’s chest, clutching Alvin’s notebook close to her heart, and cried. “Rosie,” he said kindly. He wasn’t affectionate, but rather extremely patient with those he cared about. Rose was a prime example of this; if he hadn’t loved the two siblings in some way, she was almost certain she wouldn’t be here now. “Where is he? We need to go find him.” Rose hiccupped, curling up further against him. In response, he wrapped an arm around her, lending her his cuffs to fiddle with as a distraction. It was a subtle act of kindness on his behalf. He never did it with anyone else, just the Dymari siblings. Whether it was because of Alvin or both of them, Rose didn’t know. Shouhei waited for her to speak, never once rushing her. Eventually—for she didn’t know how long they sat there—she found the courage to speak, her necklace repeating the same words in her mind over and over again until she voiced them. “He’s in Plague,” she croaked. “He’s in the Plague Mist.” When the Priest didn’t speak, Rose hesitantly turned her bleary-eyed gaze towards him. She saw only softness in his eyes, with a flicker of anguish for his lost student. “We’ll find him, my dear.” He used a digit to wipe away a stray tear. “Alvin will survive this, and as soon as he returns, we’ll be right here waiting for him.” [right][size=1][i]Made by Ozie in "[URL=http://www1.flightrising.com/forums/art/2371542]Ozie's Lore Shop![/URL]"[/i][/size][/right][/quote]
@Blueberrypodoboo
After working on a particular Pearlcatcher, his sister drew me in with her possibilities, and so here's her part one! I'm making it somewhat of an unfortunate habit of sending one part at a time, aren't I? I hope it's not too much of a bother! She's been a lot of fun to work on and I can't wait to work on two and three. I hope you enjoy it!
Rose (pt. 1) wrote:
-1-
He was at it again.
In the darkness of her room, with a few slithers of moonlight entering from behind the curtains, Rose could still make out the outline of her older brother sneaking around. Though both of them were dark colours, often mingling with dark rooms with near invisibility, their eyes always gave them away; bright green for the Wind flight and flickering with infinite amounts of playfulness. It was the same for her brother; mischief shone behind a cloud of anxiety. She frowned at the sight of it. Her brother was to graduate with the highest honours, with a job of the Priest’s Right Hand to prove it.
It wasn’t to be taken lightly.
Rose stayed still despite her urge to move and tackle him. Pride fluttered in her blood, mixing with worry as Alvin slunk towards her. She hoped that his new role wouldn’t steal him away. If that was to be the case, she wanted to make the most of it, so she stayed still with closed eyes in the hopes that he’d mistake her for sleeping and surprise her.
“I know you’re awake, Rosie,” he whispered, perching on the edge of her bed. “You don’t have to pretend.”
Groaning, she cracked open her eyes and smiled. His grin softened from into a loving smirk. “I thought you were with the cute new guy,” she murmured as she sat up, sounding almost spiteful.
Alvin, in spite of his coolness, blushed in the moonlight. “I was.”
“I still think it looks like he’s been stained with mustard.”
“Stop being cruel,” her brother snickered, flicking her ear. “It’s not his fault that he’s covered in yellow swirls.”
“Maybe he should be called Mustard, not Walter.”
“Oi!”
Rose scrambled away from her brother, grinning. His usual tactic was to grab her and haul her into his lap, refusing to let go even when she head-butted him, and tickle her until her voice was hoarse. Tonight, however, he merely smiled at her, unmoving save for the calm rising and falling of his chest.
She frowned. “Is something wrong?”
He started, confused for a split second. Then, in the presence of the deepening of his flush, Rose snorted. “You were daydreaming about him, weren’t you?”
“Shut up,” he snapped, pulling a face. “He’s cute, alright?”
“Alvin loves Mustard Man!” she exclaimed. A thought crossed her mind in that moment. “Does he even know your name?”
Alvin rolled his eyes. “No, and I refuse to tell him.”
“Why?”
“I don’t know,” he admitted, shrugging. “I suppose I don’t want him to think horribly of me, considering what I am. And besides, he’ll learn it during graduation tomorrow.” A glimmer of something shone in his eyes for a split second. “I just hope that doesn’t change anything.”
She cocked her head to the side. “What do you mean?”
“He invited me out for a drink with his friend after my graduation.”
“I think Mustard Man likes you.”
“Please.” He sighed, ears flattening against his hair. “He’s good looking, so he’s probably got a girlfriend somewhere.”
Rose rolled her eyes. If she rolled them any harder, she was certain she’d see her brain. Unlike her, Alvin was shy, considerate and loving. He thought too little of himself and too much of those around him. She supposed it was their parents fault for leaving him behind, condemning him to loneliness and guilt before she came back to him.
They left because of me.
Alvin frowned at her and flicked her nose. “Don’t you dare start blaming yourself again, you hear me?”
“But—”
“No.” The bluntness of his tone, a tone he rarely ever used, shut her up, her gaze on her brother as he spoke. “They ran off because they were incapable of looking after us, Rosie. That’s all.”
“Incapable of looking after you,” she muttered, bundling herself up in her wings. “I obviously wasn’t an issue.”
Alvin chuckled, prying at her wings. The brashness of his voice was gone, replaced by unimaginable softness. “Am I that much trouble?”
“Yeah, no wonder the Priest shooed you away from the new guy. He was afraid that you’d be a bad influence.”
“‘Shooed away’ is a bit of an understatement, if you ask me.”
Rose giggled, unwrapping herself from her wings. Her brother wasn’t exactly the tallest male, or the bulkiest. When sat together, they looked almost like twins, except with entirely different personalities. Where Rose was your overgrown, violent eleven-year-old with a tendency of getting into fights, wear torn breeches and Alvin’s baggy shirts in lieu of her own fancy ones, Alvin was different. He was the gentle nineteen-year-old brother who’d patch her up and scold her at the same time, his silver half-moon glasses making him look like an old librarian and her birthday present to him—a crimson mage’s hat—scratching against the horns that made him look like a rhino.
“You gonna be okay tomorrow?” he inquired, raking a paw through her matted mane. He sounded almost hesitant.
Frowning for her brother, she nodded. “I should be asking you that, though.”
He grinned and rooted around in the pocket of his tunic. “I bought something for you, actually, whilst out with the Priest.”
“You forgot to mention Mustard.”
“Well then,” he began, pulling his paw out with nothing in it, “I won’t give it to you.”
“Nooo!” Rose cried, flopping into her brother’s lap. “I’m sorry I insulted your future husband. Can I have it now?”
“I’ll think about it.”
“C’mon! Please?”
“Maybe later.”
Rose growled into his tunic and shot him an angry stare. “Is it like that snow globe you got me?”
“That was pretty!” her brother exclaimed, a mockery of hurt crossing his face.
Grinning, she said, “I know.”
Alvin sneered at her and eventually pulled out a red velvet box. A ribbon of green settled in a lovely neat bow kept the box together, a tag with her name on it hanging from it. After rubbing it with his digit, he handed it over with a smile that could make even the Priest smile back. “You’ll like this, I promise.”
Rose took it and hummed in thought, weighing the box in her paws. Nothing shifted inside, so a pendant was out of the question. Lifting it, she looked around for any indication of what it could be before she opened it. It seemed, however, that he brother had learnt his past mistake.
“Unfortunately,” he cooed, “you can’t see through material.”
“Shut up, stupid!” she snarled.
Alvin laughed, slapping her attacks away with gentle baps. At her mercy, he refused to give away what was inside of his box. She opened it in time, growling at him for teasing her. It quickly died in her throat, giving way to a small, partially delighted gasp. Slowly, she lifted her present out of the box and held it up to get a better look.
Her heart sank into her stomach at the gorgeous black lace necklace in her grasp. A ruby rose jutted out before her, shimmering lightly in the soft rays of moonlight. Slowly, she ran her digit over the apparel. Both rose and necklace were soft to the touch, the material shifting pleasantly under her touch.
“A rose,” she remarked softly, lowering the rose into her lap. “Typical.”
Alvin snickered. “I couldn’t help myself.” When Rose looked up at her brother, he gave her a soft, innocent look, almost begging her. “Want me to help you put it on?”
With the knowing glint in his eyes, Rose knew she could say no, that she could do it herself, and her brother would accept it. However, as hard as she might be with others, she couldn’t bring herself to be that way with Alvin. She didn’t want to hurt him, and besides, time with her brother was something she never denied. “That’d be nice.”
His face lit up with a bright grin. As she turned, her back to him and her mane of hair out of the way, exposing her neck, he began to work on pulling the necklace tight. He made sure to be gentle, and asked her constantly if it was choking her or hung loose when he tugged on the strands. Rose sighed, snagging his attention.
Alvin gently tapped her shoulder. She swivelled to see him frowning at her and had to look away. “What’s wrong, Rosie?”
“I don’t want you to go,” she murmured, pouting.
“I’m still going to be here, silly,” her brother sighed, not exasperatedly, tying the strings on the necklace.
“Still...”
“There,” he murmured at last, the silk soft against her neck. She turned to see he looked pleased with himself, as if it was an achievement. “Is that okay?”
“Yeah,” Rose grinned, a strange smell drifting up into her nose. She grimaced. “Why does it smell funny?”
“Ah, that’ll be the charm I put on it.”
Rose raised her eyebrow at her brother, smirking. “Is it a masking spell? Does the necklace really look like two misshaped scraps?”
Alvin shrugged, lips pursed. “No. It’s more like a linking spell.” At her confusion, he showed her his digit. A spot of dried blood stained the end. “An item can be linked to a dragon as long as you have a bit of their blood. Now, that necklace will tell you where I am to save you from your worry. I’ll have to do it again every so often, but it should stay for a few months.”
“Did it hurt?”
“Deities, no,” he chuckled. “It didn’t hurt at all.”
She threw her arms around him with a wide smile. “Good. Thank you for the present.”
He wrapped her up in a tight hug and kissed her forehead. “Love you, worrywuss.”
“Love you too, stinkbrain.”
“Excuse me!”
The door clicked open before she could throw another insult, prompting the siblings to peer into the open doorway. The School’s headmaster, the Priest, stood in the doorway, eyebrow raised. Even though he was a Mirror, he was taller than the two of them, with calico colours—black, white and orange—spotting his body like he’d been splattered with paint. A hat of bamboo rested on his head, a tunic of bright green similar to Alvin’s own hugged his body. Nobody but Alvin knew his name, and even as his sister, he refused to tell her.
“Sir,” Alvin said by way of greeting, smiling sheepishly.
“I told you to go to bed and stop flirting with Walter,” the Priest informed him. The smile tugging at his mouth was mistakable for a snarl. “That doesn’t mean go see your sister.”
“I had to, Sir. I got her the necklace, after all, and never had the chance to hand it to her.”
“I’ll let you off, then.” The Priest looked at her, head titled. “Do you like it?”
“Yeah!”
“Good.”
Her brother relaxed slightly as soon as the door clicked closed behind the Priest. He stood in the middle of the room, had his softened gaze locked onto Rose. She didn’t know why, but she hated it. “How are you, my dear?”
“I’m fine, Sir.”
He snorted knowingly. “And I’m not the Priest. What’s wrong?”
“You’re not worried about my graduation, are you?” Alvin inquired with a hint of sarcasm, arm looped around her shoulders.
“Kinda,” she admitted, curling up against his side. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’m not going anywhere, stupid. I’ll just be a bit busy.”
She should’ve smiled. “That’s the problem.”
Alvin tutted. He ruffled her hair again, his face buried in it soon after. “I’ll come see you as often as I can during the day, okay? I’ll also be right here with you every night and every other weekend for the entire two days. Can you believe that?”
“Really?” Rose cried, smiling up at her brother.
“Really.” He turned her gaze in the direction of the Priest. “We had a talk about it a couple of nights ago.”
“We also discussed his pay,” the Priest informed her, crouching down before the two siblings, “which is roughly seventy-thousand a week. It includes his bonus to help look after you and an added bonus for anything extra would bring it to about ninety-thousand.”
“All in all, we’re going to be rich,” Alvin added with a wink.
Rose giggled. The reality of the situation quickly cut it short. “I’ll still miss you, though.”
Her brother sighed, keeping her close. “That can’t be helped I’m afraid, Rosie. It’s either I take this job as it is or I struggle to find another.” With no hesitation, he flicked her nose again, causing her to frown. “As much as I’m busy, at least we’ll be stable.”
She moaned. “I’ll miss you.”
“I’ll miss you too, maggot.”
Rose smacked his arm, smiling at his laughter and shrieking. Slams echoed up from downstairs, on the large mahogany doors constantly guarded by men vowing loyalty to the Priest. Why, she didn’t know. She always guessed that it was because the Priest lived here, but the security increased in the last few weeks. Neither Alvin nor the Priest would tell her why.
“I’ll go get that, it may be my delivery,” the Priest mumbled, standing up with a groan and a stretch, his eyes settled on them. “Alvin, Rose, say your goodnights. You both need to be up early tomorrow.”
“Do I have to attend stupidnose’s graduation?” Rose groaned alongside Alvin complaining, “Does ugly face have to attend my graduation?”
The Priest shook his head. The two siblings snickered. “You’re both ugly and stupid, now get to bed. I want you both up by dawn.”
Dawn?” they remarked in harmony.
“Dawn,” he repeated. A sly smirk danced along his lips, but it wasn’t towards her. “I’m sure your brother, Rose, would love to continue his flirting with the circus performer.”
Just as Alvin moved to object in the midst of her chortling, his words tumbled over themselves and the door clicked closed just as they straightened out. The Priest’s laughter rolled along in the near-silence of the world.
Genuine guilt rested on Alvin’s features when he turned to face her. “You didn’t take all of that literally... did you?”
“No,” she said, hoping her smile would cheer him up.
It did. He tucked a strand of ruby hair away before pushing her head back down onto the pillow. “Good,” he whispered, his green eyes soft and loving once more. “I’ll talk him out of it, then.”
“You sure you don’t want to spend a lot more time with your circus boyfriend?”
“He’s not my boyfriend and you know it.”
Rose giggled at his flush. “Can I have a hug before you go?”
Alvin opened his mouth, about to say yes, when the Priest called for him. “Dakota’s at the door! He wants to see you!”
Rose watched in sadness as her brother tensed and winced. His smile returned seconds later, though it faltered as he stood. She didn’t like the anxiety in his eyes and stature. Something was wrong.
“I better go see him,” he muttered, ruffling her hair again, “being my—” His pause unsettled her. “—ex, and all. I’ll see you tomorrow morning, okay?”
Slowly, she nodded. “Okay.”
At that, he winked and left. She waited until the thuds drifting to the lower floor ceased to be, counting the seconds until the fourth step from the ground floor creaked. Rose counted it as her signal to move and devise what was wrong. So many questions went unanswered, and what for, because of her age, or otherwise? She didn’t like it. In fact, she hated it.
The cold wooden floor of her room nipped at her feet, yet didn’t give way to sound once, as she reached the door to the carpeted landing of green. Her door’s brass doorknob, with its dent in the centre because of Alvin’s clumsiness two years ago, felt slipper in her sweaty grasp. Twisting it, she cracked the door open and half-expected guards to be on patrol, yet only silence loomed out at her. Another thing she didn’t like.
Rose allowed her mind to drift to something else. The embroidered silver threads of the carpet resembled twisting patterns meaning Loyalty and Reliance, from what she could recall from Alvin’s history books. She kept her eyes trained on them to lower her anxiety. Slowly, she closed the door to her room. The click of the lock echoed in her ears. She let herself sigh in relief when voices drifted up the stairs, evidently unaware of her new presence.
“—here?” the Priest inquired. He sounded furious. “You were kicked out months ago.”
“Surely you don’t have an issue, do you Priest?” another voice snarled. Dakota. “After all, I’m still dating Alvin, your precious student.”
“No... no you’re not,” she heard her brother whisper as she crept down the stairs, perching high enough so that she was out of sight but low enough to peer through the banister. Her heart wrenched at the sight of her brother cowering slightly. Confidence had never been his forte. “We broke up two months ago.”
“I suppose so,” Dakota drawled. His golden figure drifted into view, draped in a contrasting black cloak from his days at the School. Unlike Alvin, most students of the School wore black, designating them as anything but the future Right Hand. “However, I also heard you’re about to see someone new.” A dark chuckled rebounded up the staircase. Rose barely stifled her shiver. “I wonder, Alvin. What’s made you stoop so low as to fantasize over a circus act? Desperate, by chance?”
“Dakota, please stop.”
“Leave Alvin alone,” the Priest snapped, moving to stand between Alvin and Dakota. “He’s ended your relationship, and you know that.” He looked behind Dakota and nodded to two guards standing by, awaiting orders. Which two, she didn’t know. She could only see their polished boots. “You can leave.”
“Oh, hush,” he drawled, paws drifting to his cloak’s pockets. She could’ve sworn one was bulkier than the other. “I’m not here about that anyway.”
“What are you here for?”
Slowly, Dakota drew something silver from his pocket. His eyes locked onto hers, blue and depthless in the torchlight of the hallway. She flinched. “Rosie.”
Alvin turned, fear in his eyes. He screamed her name, he told her to run. She couldn’t. Not even as Dokata charged at her, blade in hand, did she run. Instead, Rose did what she hated; she cowered, head ducked between her paws, and screamed. She only felt safe when he stumbled a foot from her and growled at whoever stood behind him.
One of the guards—her favourite, at that, called Izzy—grabbed at his tail, keeping him away from her.
In a flash of green and orange, the Priest launched himself at her pursuer. He took Izzy’s place as she drew her blade with a hiss. Catching Dakota’s cloak, he flung him back down the stairs. Alvin took that opportunity to run. He didn’t run away, but towards her. Protecting her, as his only family, was his top priority. In that moment, she didn’t understand why. She forgot the danger she was in.
“Rosie!” Alvin reached her within seconds, cupping her face. He ignored the mess behind him. “What are you doing out of your room?”
Words failed her. She watched with wide eyes at the scene behind her brother instead.
Dakota was scrambling to his feet, murder in his eyes. The Priest had his back to her. He flung his broken bamboo hat across the room. Izzy and a guard she didn’t recognise guarded the door. A jewelled sabre hung in his slack grip.
“Get Rose up to her room,” the Priest growled, swiping at Dakota to keep him from running towards them.
Alvin turned to him. “Sir—”
“Do it, Alvin!”
Without a second’s more hesitation, he hoisted Rose up onto her unsteady feet and dragged her away. All fell quiet as they raced away. That was, until Dakota screamed something—perhaps “traitor”?—followed by a cry of agony. The sound from the floor below rebounded around them. It trapped her, muddled her. She couldn’t tell who screamed.
“You need to get somewhere safe, Rosie,” Alvin whispered, stopping on the landing. He checked behind them to make sure no one was nearby. “Go to Shouhei’s room. I need to stop Dakota.”
His name’s Shouhei? “But—”
He shut her up with a tight hug. “Go, before he sees where you’ve gone. I’ll come up and get you when it’s over.”
Thinking she would run, he turned and crept towards the staircase with the stealth of a housecat. No doubt he’d used Quieten on himself. Off came his cloak in a single shrug. He bundled it up in his paws and, without looking behind him, threw it towards her. The voice that came next sounded nothing like her brother, but was too close to be anyone but.
He spared her only a sideways glance. Authority and confidence caked his eyes. “I promise I’ll come get you, now go before I make you.”
Trembling, she behaved herself. She yanked the cloak over herself and charged up one staircase. Then another. For every two stairwells was one floor. The room she needed was on the top floor. Never before had it been a problem for her, not when Alvin often raced her up and down during the dull days, but now she could barely catch her breath.
Rose tugged the cloak around her, her breathing ragged. She knew she couldn’t stop.
The top floor staggered her for a few seconds, primarily because of the lack of guards. More often than not, no one but Alvin and two others had permission to venture beyond the top step of the final staircase. Because of this, the beautiful orange and black swirls of the Priest’s door took her purely by surprise.
She shook her head and surged for the handle. The door clicked open all too easily. Caring was beyond her now. She wanted to wait for Alvin.
Slamming the door behind her, she panicked. With so many places to hide and so little time to do so, how was she to conceal herself properly? Shouhei had a wardrobe perched in one corner, made from some of the richest wood around. A bed sat opposite, a surprisingly common cover over the top.
“Where’s the child?” she heard Dakota cry from a lower floor. “Where have you taken her?”
“She ran off,” her brother yelled back at him. “You’ll have to kill me to find her.”
Rose refused to listen any longer. She dove under the bed, used Alvin’s cloak to cover herself. Her new objective was to block out every sound. The screams, the thuds, the guards finally arriving to help at the door; she wanted it all gone. She imagined herself snuggled up in bed, Alvin talking to her to soothe her after a nightmare.
One sound, abrupt and unclear, shattered her thoughts; a scream. Rose wasn’t sure who’s. She hoped it was Dakota’s, though something wrenched at her heart. Pain spiralled across her chest, and she gasped. It wasn’t anxiety that caused it. As much as Shouhei often joked about how inseparable they were, they had a reason for it; their connection.
Panic consumed her, throwing aside her sense of preservation as she screamed, “Alvin!
Rose scrambled out from under the bed, Alvin’s cloak trailing behind her, and charged for the hallway. The brass bit into her paw in her iron grip. She yanked on it and threw open the door. It slammed against the wall, damaging it. A hole lay where knob hit plaster. After that, upon racing out into the hallway, not a second thought about it crossed her mind.
Her foot caught the edge of the carpet and sent her stumbling into the opposite wall. A painting fell to the floor with a thud, but not before the edge caught her forehead. The slam snagged the attention of the silhouette at the end of the hall. He’d only just staggered up the stairs, and lay on the ground panting. She half expected it to be Dakota. After all, she wanted her brother to succeed and rid them of the terror.
He raised his head in her direction. It took him a second or two to see her. As soon as he did, relief plastered his features. “Rosie.”
Before she could utter another word, Alvin got up and staggered towards her, one paw to the left side of his face, the other twitching with a spell she didn’t recognise. Blood dripped from his jaw, his chest, staining his dark breeches a deep red-purple. Rose was almost certain they’d all scar.
“You’re hurt,” he murmured, using the spell paw to wipe at her forehead. Blood came free, though not much.
“So are you,” Rose stammered, using a shaking paw to try and uncover his eye.
“Rosie—”
“Move your paw, Al.”
Hesitantly, he obeyed. Her lip trembled at the sight of it. Blood swelled from his mid-brow to his cheekbone, dripping down his jaw and neck. Grey stained his left eye in place of a gorgeous green, of which only flecks remained. Beneath all of it was a deep, thick gash. To look at it made her feel sick, dizzy. She must’ve swayed on her feet, for her brother reached for her, steadying her.
“Take it easy,” he murmured as he helped her sit down besides the painting.
She sobbed. “He hurt you.”
Alvin sat with her and pulled her into a hug. He had the audacity to gentle shush her, even as warmth dribbled down her neck. “I love you, Rosie.”
“Al—”
He didn’t hear her. “I love you. No matter what happens, no matter what anyone says, I’ll always love you and that’ll never change.”
A storm of thudding sounded up the stairs. At first, she thought it was the guards, but as soon as a golden head peered around the corner of the stairwell, she stiffened. She couldn’t run, just like before, and it seemed Alvin knew that. After all, the top floor only held one room with no safe way down to the ground, save for flying.
Rose wasn’t like other dragons, in that sense. She couldn’t fly. Why? Her fear of heights prevented her from even hovering, let alone soaring among the clouds with reckless abandon.
Her brother stuffed an object into her paws. Then, he let go. Rose only saw a blur after that. Black and red clashed with gold and black as tears streamed, screams of war rang as her own voice failed to make a peep. Black ripped, white sang, blue sparked. She tried, feebly, to grab her brother. She wanted to pull him away. The last thing she wanted was for him to suffer because of her. Hell, she was willing to give herself over as long as Alvin didn’t get hurt.
Yet she couldn’t reach him in time.
Then, a flash of yellow appeared at her brother’s side. She knew that spell.
“Alvin, don’t!”
Rose saw a split second of hesitation, a flicker of his free paw as if he wanted to reach for her. That was all before he cried those fateful words. “Dakja mourhin!”
A bright flash blinded her for a few seconds. It left lights dancing in her eyes, the kind that she had to blink away furiously. As soon as they dispersed, disbelief clouded her mind. She couldn’t tear her gaze away from the space at the end of the hall.
It was empty, save for a single, silver blade.
Rose didn’t know how long it was until the Priest came stumbling up the stairwell. A mask obscured his face from her eyes, but she knew it was him. She didn’t know anyone else who would wear an elegant tunic in the midst of battle, blood spotting it in a constellation. He noticed her instantly, rushing past the blade.
“Rose,” he whispered gently as he sped towards her. Crouching down before her, she could see more blood leaking from under the mask. “Where’s your brother?”
She didn’t answer. Her tongue didn’t convey what she wanted to say, not that it bothered her. The dust flickering in the space at the end of the hall, dancing in the moonlight coming in from a stained window, preoccupied her. The speckles would turn purple, then white, the green with every twirl and swirl. They filled the very space her brother had once stood in.
“Rosie?”
Blood spattered the carpet, one a deeper red than the other one. Her brother’s blood mingled with the wretch’s blood, like a hero with a villain. A necromancer and a warlock went head-to-head there. You can guess which one was which. Only Rose and Shouhei knew the full truth of it. It’d take her brother’s death to break her.
The object in her paws suddenly felt weighty with knowledge in her paws, the waterproof leather cover brushing against her thumb. Her brother’s notes and readings of the one place he’d gone to sat inside. Endless hours of studying, watching, and learning; every one of them Alvin had recorded in this very notebook.
A sob, harsh and silent in her throat, scraped up her throat like a blade. She doubled over into Shouhei’s chest, clutching Alvin’s notebook close to her heart, and cried.
“Rosie,” he said kindly. He wasn’t affectionate, but rather extremely patient with those he cared about. Rose was a prime example of this; if he hadn’t loved the two siblings in some way, she was almost certain she wouldn’t be here now. “Where is he? We need to go find him.”
Rose hiccupped, curling up further against him. In response, he wrapped an arm around her, lending her his cuffs to fiddle with as a distraction. It was a subtle act of kindness on his behalf. He never did it with anyone else, just the Dymari siblings. Whether it was because of Alvin or both of them, Rose didn’t know.
Shouhei waited for her to speak, never once rushing her. Eventually—for she didn’t know how long they sat there—she found the courage to speak, her necklace repeating the same words in her mind over and over again until she voiced them. “He’s in Plague,” she croaked. “He’s in the Plague Mist.”
When the Priest didn’t speak, Rose hesitantly turned her bleary-eyed gaze towards him. She saw only softness in his eyes, with a flicker of anguish for his lost student. “We’ll find him, my dear.” He used a digit to wipe away a stray tear. “Alvin will survive this, and as soon as he returns, we’ll be right here waiting for him.”
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@Ozie OH GOSH WOOOW I'm so glad that you're writing for Rose Ahhhhh ;w; Oh and don't worry about it at all, I'm just as happy with something new as I am with continuations! The feels in this one though, I just know it's only downhill from here too if you're following the points in her bio T-T and Shouhei being involved is a fun twist! Thank you so so much, I love it! [emoji=coatl love size=1]
@Ozie
OH GOSH WOOOW I'm so glad that you're writing for Rose Ahhhhh ;w;
Oh and don't worry about it at all, I'm just as happy with something new as I am with continuations! The feels in this one though, I just know it's only downhill from here too if you're following the points in her bio T-T and Shouhei being involved is a fun twist! Thank you so so much, I love it!
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@Ozie please add me to pinglist <3
@Ozie please add me to pinglist <3
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@Techmox Just added you to the lore pinglist. I hope that's the right one. If not, just lemme know, since there's also now a pinglist for the reopening of the thread, but thank you for taking interest! (I would advise, if I did add you to the right one and if you haven't already, that you favourite the thread since my memory is terrible. It's guaranteed that I definitely will forget to ping you.) [emoji=coatl tongue size=1]
@Techmox
Just added you to the lore pinglist. I hope that's the right one. If not, just lemme know, since there's also now a pinglist for the reopening of the thread, but thank you for taking interest! (I would advise, if I did add you to the right one and if you haven't already, that you favourite the thread since my memory is terrible. It's guaranteed that I definitely will forget to ping you.)
Hey human, wanna buy some lore? Click here, you won't be disappointed!

Note to self: Lore pinglist
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