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babushka reblogged cjadewyton
jadewyton -

She’d only half-undone her seatbelt before Gavin leant over the seat and planted a kiss on her cheek.

‘I’ll meet you inside!’ he decided, reaching into Talia’s pocket for her keys. She didn’t have time to argue otherwise before he was out of the car and halfway into the stairwell.

‘Gavin wai— Ugh,’ Talia leant back in her seat as her son disappeared.

‘There he goes,’ Dale’s voice floated into the car as he pulled open Talia’s door for her. ‘Fast little bugger, isn’t he? Nyoom.’

‘Nyoom,’ Talia repeated, though a little flatter than Dale had said it. ‘Sometimes I wish he’d slow down. Just a little bit.’

‘Aw, but then he wouldn’t be Gavin, would he?’ joked Dale. Then he offered Talia his hand. ‘Come on. You alright?’


babushka reblogged asylum
asylum -

There are 3 types of ships -- Seaships, Airships and Aetherships. They’re always referred to by their full titles unless they’re being described as a cross-section group, in which case they are all simply referred to together as ships.

Seaships travel across water, usually oceans and seas but some are built small enough to cross lakes or travel up and down rivers. They are the second most common ship, known and located in any world with large bodies of water. Seaships are all built with sails and paddles to catch the wind and control direction, though in some locations smaller seaships also have motors to travel through still places and up rivers. Those who can steer these ships are called aquanauts. Only one two seaships are able to cross between worlds.

Airships are the most common ship, as every world has air above to travel through. Most look similar to seaships, but instead of sails they have balloons that capture the heat of flames to lift and keep them in the air. Airships also have engine rooms or decks that control propellers that control their direction and forward and backward progress. Those who can steer these ships are called aeronauts. No airships can cross between worlds.

Aetherships can travel in the space between the worlds. They are either always entirely enclosed or have a function that enables them to close up entirely, and then open up again once withing safe airspace. They are built more with engines than sails or balloons, though some have both so that they they can travel across air or sea in one world before or after entering the aether to travel to another world. Those who can control these ships are called aethernauts. They can travel freely between all worlds.


babushka reblogged timeskip

How to Become a God

timeskip -

OC writing with experimental writing style; Storm's backstory told in the second person future tense (yes, really.) 2072 words.

------------------------------------------------

Step by step, you will rise towards godhood.

First:

You will be nothing. You will not know who you are, but you will feel the heat on your skin as you are created. Your Mother is not kind, this you will know—but she is warm and abstract, colorful and powerful. She is not doing this for you; she will be creating you for the sake of the universe. That will be okay.

Your identity will be solidified by Fate, forged in the fire of your heart. You will destroy everything, then be remade.

You will be created with recycled parts, bits of stardust melting together until you are a person, real and truly, like all of the gods that came before you. You will be able to walk on the Earth with the humans even though you are so different, and you will be able to destroy them. There are inevitabilities that come with being god, and your Mother will ingrain you with every one of them.


Second:

You will not know how you feel.

The humans will worship you, because you are a god, and because you shape them and their world with your own hands. And you will wonder, in some portion of your warped mind, if this is really what you want.

You will sit on the top of the pedestal, and you will know that you are perfect, and good, and correct. This is the burden that will be given to you in godhood; flowing robes you don’t want but suffer through for the sake of being a god, and the warm water on the beach, and the storm clouds that follow you around, the ones that the other humans, the ones who don’t follow you, fear and call evil. You will not be evil.

You will confess to your Overseer that you are unsure. Araceli will comfort you, like the Mother who never did, who could never. You will not know what it’s like to have a mother like Araceli, with a solid body and who didn’t create you for some grander sake. You will understand everything, eventually, that the sickness rising within you is uncertainty, and that you have walked too far already. But at that moment, you will take comfort in your friend; she is trying so hard to help you.

You will begin to understand that you love her, then.

This will not falter, even as you begin to realize the truth; this will come later, so for now you will continue to sift through your feelings with her by your side. She may be an Overseer, but you will think she’s kind, and she will forever continue to be, in your eyes. She will help you as you begin to understand your own importance.

You will find that humanity knows, that Araceli knows, and that even your Mother knows; you will be important, and perfect. You will be good. You will be correct.

Third:

Gods have buildings dedicated to them, and yours will be built with fragile walls unable to bear the storms that swirl at your fingertips. They will fall, and you will laugh in your destruction. The humans will cower from you, or maybe surround you, or maybe give you gifts, but either way, you will not be happy.

Laughter is a defence mechanism that you will find in these times. Electricity will adorn your robes, metal ringing your neck and fingers, too gaudy to be real. You will hate yourself for this, but you will also know that you deserve to be worshipped by humanity as a whole, because you are better than them. This is the inevitability ingrained within you, unable to be separated from yourself.

You will fall slowly into this; you will not crash into the water all at once, but instead dip your toes into self confidence, wading deeper until it consumes you.

Soon, you will think yourself royalty.

You will still feel the taste of fear and uncertainty. Something is wrong, and it will buzz in your veins like the powers you control, like your constant trips to Earth will tell you. You will search far and wide for a reason for this, reading again and again. You will have friends with you, many of them, gods of status and power, and gods with none. You will laugh with sharp teeth and welcome them with you in your pursuit of knowledge.

Araceli will tell you to be careful, and that gods never benefit from too much knowledge. You will understand this, but you will also ignore it, because she is too wounded from the past to truly be controlling, despite the way she carries herself. She will think of herself as your friend, and you will take advantage of this trust in you. This is the first fault in your relationship.

Things will crack with thunder when you meet Angel. They will be a human with a pale figure, who steals your robes and sits beside you to braid your hair. They will talk about legends about gods, about family and nonbelievers, about running away from home and finding you, and how they believe in you. They will talk about the older legends, passed down with secret books, the kind you so crave. They will confess that they don’t think they could do anything without you, in that cheeky way of theirs. They will only make you love yourself more. You will grin at them.

Angel will not change you inherently, but they will break you free. You are captured in the shell, and your Fate will sway with the storms until you break it. You, still, will not believe that your storms are evil.

You will begin to realize that you were never a god at all. You will begin your journey anew, as the perfect human, immortal and created by a Mother you will never trust again.

Fourth:

You will hurt Araceli.

You will continue to love her, even as you change yourself. Your world will shift to the side, with this change, and with the realization of everything around you that you hadn’t realized. You will understand your Fate, and you will recruit another god to follow you; this time, it will be Caelestis, who trusts you, who helped you search for this knowledge before.

You almost feel bad for using him, but you will find that your uncertainty has washed away like the waves on the beaches. Your thirst for knowledge will be answered, and Caelestis will follow you as you pursue a way to escape the world Fate has trapped you in. You may not be a god, but you must continue to search for it, and you will let danger snap at your heels, laughing as you run.

Laughing will never feel so freeing as those moments. Caelestis will follow you, the wind blowing behind you, and Araceli’s words, telling you to be careful, will echo in your mind. You will have already gone too far to look back, and caution means nothing to you anymore. The only thing on your mind will be to fix the world that has been broken, even if it’s under your Mother’s nose.

Araceli will be hurt by you, but you justify it to yourself; it will have to be done, because you are correct, and this will be the only thing you can do to change your own Fate, to make her face her own problems. She will never be good at facing herself unless you get close, until you comfort her like she once comforted you.

But you will never comfort her. This you know—she will turn away from you, and you will love her too much to tell her your secrets. So you will bury that love, sand covering everything you were, smoothing it down until you are simply a statue of your old self, smooth and featureless. You will not hate yourself, this time, from on top of the pedestal. The new you will be better, and more knowledgeable.

You will believe yourself to be better than Araceli, because you will not be able to love her or comfort her, so you must find a way to fix things in some other way.

You will no longer be sick of everything; instead you will be free, with the other gods at your side. You will finally be happy, even as you make more enemies, push them away in your constant quest to change things—anything and anyone you can touch. You will be called evil as you do. This will not bother you.

Fifth:

You will be caught.

You are a child, and your Mother has discovered the trick. Your Fate will surge forward, capturing you like the chains you wish it wasn’t. You cannot break free. Your Mother will find you, then, and tell you without words that she’s disappointed in you. She will never have been disappointed in you before, but you played around too much in attempting to become a god, and you will, inevitably, face your punishment.

She will tell you that you were always a god, in color and in life, with your Fate bound to you forever. She will be careful not to break you, because—unlike the humans who surrounded you, unlike Angel who only lived for your sake, unlike Araceli who trusted you until you broke her, unlike Caelestis who followed you with hope for the future—you will be repurposed into something else. The essence of a god is different from the essence of a human, and your godhood will be distilled until your Fate is reworked, until your secrets will be buried under your skin, and you won’t be able to scratch them out.

You were created for the sake of the universe, and the universe—your Mother—has decided that you are a stain on it. Humanity wasn’t created for you, but the other way around; you were created for humanity, and you failed them. You will know this, as your Mother melts you down.

You were supposed to be perfect, the pedestal crumbling underneath you. But you will still love yourself, because there’s nothing else to love, and nobody is more wrong than your Mother. You have always wished to be free, and you would do anything to make it happen. You grasp desperately at your memories, at everything your life will have given you, at its end.

This will be the death of a god. Or, maybe, you will be an overconfident human turned to ashes.

The other gods will forget you existed. They will be trapped by Fate, or their own fading memories of your life. Or maybe they’ll refind themselves, and you will be dust at the bottom, wiped away by a loving Mother. You will not be remembered, as you were a faulty god. Your remains will be used for better means.

Your successors will be nothing at first. They will not know who they are, but they will feel the heat on their skin as they are created. Your Mother will create them for the sake of the universe; she will tell them that they were once parts of you, split apart in order to protect the universe. She will not be making them for the sake of themselves; they will be objects of the universe.

Their identities will be solidified by Fate, your Mother taking your memories and putting it into their heads so that they believe her lies when she tells them they were once you. This, too, will cause their destruction as they are remade.

They will not be created with recycled parts. They will someday come to find you, asleep, not truly gone at all. Until then, you will wait, storms curling around you. You will not think of yourself as evil for what you did, even as the years continue to pass without you there to see it. You Mother will have destroyed you, in some ways, but you continue to lie there, waiting. She will not be able to stop you from waiting.

After all, there are inevitabilities that come with being god, and your Mother ingrained you with every one of them.

First?:

You will wake up alive again. You will, at last, through the efforts of your successors, be a true god, in control of your own Fate.

You hope that this destiny is in the cards for you.


asylum -

The universe is divided into three parts – the Punishment, the Asylum, and the Outsiders.

The Outsiders are the people who don’t know that magic is real. Who think fairy tales are children stories and fantasy books are fun to read. Nothing more. They think the world is no deeper or stranger than what they see. They walk on the outside of the veil, grown up and denying what they could see for themselves if they let themselves believe.

The Punishment know about magic. They know it’s real, they know it’s out there, they know it’s bigger than them and they want to destroy it. They think that magic will some day take over the world, and destroy everything in its path – including them. They think it’s evil and unnatural.

The Asylum is the magical part of the universe. Where creatures with magic in their blood live, and people who don’t have magic in their blood but believe in it. People of the Asylum are wild and free. The Asylum exists with no trends or concepts of normalcy to feel pressured into following. People of the Asylum are unapologetically themselves and protected for it.

  • Asylum has its own universal language. Most who are born and raised in Asylum grow up speaking this language as their original language, and often never learn any Outside language. It might be the only subject that is taught in every school and by every tutor, for those who come into Asylum later in life or grow up in the few places where Outside languages are more common.

babushka reblogged skarosian

Maps, in order: Default | Trade routes | Religious sects | Climates

Information about the world below the cut.


Astroria is a planet I started creating and working on well back in 2016. It's a planet somewhat similar to Earth, with a combination of fantasy and sci-fi. There is (or, was) heavily advanced technology, some so advanced that it allowed people to biologically change their bodies, grafting on and surgically adding new body parts that were fully functional. (Think of wings, tails, extra eyes, extra limbs, extraneous features like horns or spikes.)

There is also a magical side to the world, that any person living on Astroria can access and interact with. It's somewhat similar to Eragon, where magic is simply cast with will and energy. The difference is that Astrorian magic requires special objects known as "casts," which can be made of various materials to induce certain elements. These casts are engraved with different runes, depending on what their intent is.

Over the past few generations, Astroria has moved from having a largely scientifically-oriented society to being far more magically-oriented. This is due to a massive, rampant disease that started causing horrible damage to people who indulged in the opportunity to modify their bodies. The only solution that was found was through magic healing, and most people chose to shun it following the disaster, and didn't tell their descendants about it. There are still old laboratories scattered across the world, holding plenty of technology, research, and information from those days, though they are abandoned and decrepit.


intrepid-inkweaver -

Without Looking--A short romance story.

Edit: Putting first part under a read more so this doesn't turn into a really long post.


It is a beautiful day--the sun is shining and the blue sky has just enough fluffy white clouds to skitter about on the warm breeze. The sky reflects off of the calm waters of the harbor and even the shore has a sort of calm to it today that it lacks almost any other day. The people working are happier, calmer. There is an artist sitting upon the pier, their easel before them, painting the ships that sail into and out of the harbor, a small, secret, dreamy smile on their face. They paint to the sound of the rigging creaking on the breeze, the soft lapping of the water below, and the flapping of sails in the wind. Their painting is free and colorful and more than one individual stops in their activities to admire their work. Their smile persists through hours, and they fail to notice the small splotch of blue paint that has been charmingly smeared on their cheek.

When the evening approaches and it is time to head home, they store away their painting and palette and they fold up their easel and their happy contentment follows them as they walk through the colorful streets. They stop in the market to smell some flowers, and they toss a coin to a vendor, picking up a bundle of lavender and holding it to their face blissfully.

The Inn is quiet when they enter; the inhabitants either out or all up in their rooms. The Innkeeper still sits in his customary spot, however, keeping an eye on his kingdom from the corner of his eye while he pens a letter at his desk. The artist approaches quietly and waits for him to look up from his writing. When he realizes they are waiting for him, he looks up and they smile, holding out the bundle of lavender.

“I heard you say you needed some this morning, so I picked some up on the way home.” Their smile is warm, and their eyes crinkle with it on the outer edges. He notes the paint on their cheek and almost smiles fondly himself.

The Innkeeper seems surprised even underneath his usually-stoic face, and he almost stumbles over his words when he says thank you, and offers payment that the artist waves off.

“It was no trouble, it was so unseasonably beautiful all day, staying out a little longer was hardly a burden.”

He glances out at the sunshine now streaming through the door--he would have sworn it was cloudy not ten minutes ago, and when he looks back, they have already made their way up the stairs to their room, leaving him with a brown paper bundle of flowers in his hand and a puzzled expression.


intrepid-inkweaver -

The sound of rain on the roof accompanies the crackle of the fireplace down in the Inn’s parlor. The only other sound is the soft clink of the mug when the Innkeeper puts down his tea. It is late, and the Inn’s tenants are, presumably, asleep up in their rooms, so he sits by the fireplace in his shirtsleeves with his cravat loosened and the buttons of his waistcoat undone.

There come the now-familiar footsteps on the stairs, and the Artist comes down in their dressing gown to take the seat across from the Innkeeper by the fire. He no longer comments on the lateness of the hour, and they are no longer surprised by the cup of chamomile tea that has already been made and set out for them. They have grown used to one another, comfortable even in the silence together. Even despite the inclement weather, the parlor has become a spot of warm contentedness. Against his wishes, a smile tugs on the corner of the Innkeeper’s mouth.

They do not always sit in companionable silence; sometimes they speak quietly into the night, other times they play chess or cards--the Artist always manages to lose a few coins at cards even when the Innkeeper is letting them win. It has become a puzzle for the ages. Tonight, though, by some unspoken agreement, they both enjoy the peace of the fire and the rain, and at some point, the Innkeeper drifts into a warm doze. He comes back to consciousness a short while later to the sound of a scratching pencil as the Artist draws in the private little leather-bound sketchbook they usually keep in their inside jacket pocket.

When the Innkeeper stirs, the Artist glances up and smiles and closes the book, placing their pencil behind their ear. They yawn and stretch and announce their intention to finally go to bed. He wishes them a good night and he stands to gather the tea mugs to take them to the kitchen to be washed. When he passes the stairs, they have stopped near the top to watch him, and when he catches them looking, they quickly turn away. When he heads upstairs himself, he catches the scent of lavender in his room, and he touches the dried bundle on his nightstand before changing clothes and blowing out the candles.


intrepid-inkweaver -

On a Monday morning, a Stranger comes into the Inn. Their clothes were once well-made, but they are now worn and dirty, and they carry luggage that looks like it might be all they own. They look tired and ragged and the patrons sitting in the parlor stare at them as they walk across the room. Despite this, they smile at the Innkeeper as they approach the counter. As they heft one of their bags further up on their shoulder, they ask how much it costs for a room for the night. When he tells them the price, they brighten and pull out a change purse to begin counting coins. When they realize that they are one coin short, their face falls for a moment before they manage to plaster a smile back on.

“No mind,” they say, moving to swipe the coins back into their purse.

Without thinking, the Innkeeper reaches out and stops their hand. Making eye contact, he says quietly, so the rest of the room doesn’t hear, “It’s fine. It’s only one coin.” The the look of relief and open gratefulness on their face makes him flush with embarrassment as he gathers the coin to put in the lockbox. It’s only one coin.

“Thank you, sir, so much,” they say quietly, clearly holding back tears, “I will pay you back as soon as I have it. You don’t know how much I appreciate it.” He nods quietly, not knowing what else to say, and turns to lead them to their room.


intrepid-inkweaver -

The evening is bright grey and cool, and the trees all around the city have changed to a riot of vibrant colors that the Artist has taken to rendering in their paintings with great care. (The Innkeeper knows they have had offers on their latest painting, though he himself has not seen it yet.) The hour is later than when they would usually return home--the sun will set in half an hour, and the night streets here are not kind, especially to one such as them. The Innkeeper catches himself glancing at the wall clock rather more often than he normally would.

The door finally opens after most of the tenants have already cleared out of the parlor to admit the Artist, bundled in hat and scarf with nose and cheeks ruddy from the cold. Their eyes sparkle brightly when they see him, though, and they come up to the counter, unraveling the scarf from around their face and setting their easel and art supplies on the floor. “I’ve got something for you,” they say with a grin, fishing around in their inside pocket.

They pull out a carved wooden box, shiny and stained dark, that is warm from their body heat when they hand it over to him. (The remaining tenants pretend not to watch them curiously, though the ones that have been staying at the Inn long are much used to the Artist bringing small gifts home.) The Innkeeper opens the box, the hinges squeaking slightly, and finds, nestled in dark green velvet, a coin with an intricately carved anatomical heart on the front.

“Spin the gear at the bottom,” the Artist says, excitement coloring their quiet voice. He does so and watches as the heart begins to beat. At his astonished expression, the Artist’s smile widens and they ask, “Do you like it?”

“It’s--” A proper word doesn’t seem to want to come to him. Finally he says lamely, “Beautiful. But why--”

“I saw it a while back at the watchmaker’s shop a couple blocks away,” they say quickly, “and I thought you would like it.”

There is a warmth that spreads through his chest as he looks up at them, and his voice doesn’t come out quite right when he says, “I do.”

Their smile and their voice go softer when they respond, “I’m glad.” The warmth in his chest persists for long after they have gone upstairs to put their things away, all the way into the night when he falls asleep with the scent of lavender on his pillow.


intrepid-inkweaver -

(This has a title now!! It's called Without Looking.)

The Inn is quiet this early in the mornings, when the sun and all the tenants have yet to rise and the Innkeeper himself hasn’t been awake for more than a half an hour. He doesn’t expect anyone up at this hour, but here comes the Artist down the stairs, yawning, with their jacket thrown over their shoulder and their hair noticeably less groomed than what the Innkeeper has come to expect from them.

He gives them a nod in greeting and states that their breakfast won’t be done for a little bit yet. “That’s fine,” they say, sounding tired and considerably less bright than he has gotten used to from them. There are dark shadows beneath their eyes. The Innkeeper’s brow furrows, but he forces it out of his mind as they go over to warm their hands by the fireplace. It’s none of his business.

It’s several minutes later that they approach him in the kitchen to ask, “Do you need help with anything?”

He turns around to give them a questioning look. “That’s not normally how this works.” He can’t say that he’s ever been offered help from a paying customer before.

They shrug. “I need something to do with my hands or I’m going to fall asleep in the parlor,” they say with a mildly strained smile. “Didn’t sleep well last night,” they add quietly. He doesn’t state that falling asleep in the parlor for a little while might actually be good for them, by the look of it.

“Alright,” he says with a nod. He gestures them further into the kitchen and tells them what he could use help with. Mostly, they keep the dishes clean as he cooks, and fetches things from the cupboard as needed. They hum while they work, and he is mildly pleased to see that whatever shadow had been sitting on their soul when they came down that morning seems to have lifted.

When he pulls the lavender-blackberry scones from the oven, the Artist hums appreciatively. “Mm, those smell good--what is that? Lavender?” He nods, carefully placing the scones on the cooling rack. “Who are they for?”

“The tenants. I make them every month.” When they are cool enough to handle, he holds one out to them and they take it delightedly.

It’s when he requests a bowl from a cupboard that has a history of being unstable that an entire shelf-full of dishes nearly comes clattering down on the Artist’s head. He remembers just as they begin to open the door and manages to move in quickly enough to catch the shelf before it’s contents fall.

There is a moment in the Artist’s space where he can feel their breath and make out all the colors of their surprised eyes. He feels a blush blooming upon his cheeks so he quickly turns away, pushing the shelf into place, muttering, “I need to hire someone to fix this shelf.”

He doesn’t notice the matching blush coloring the Artist’s ears bright red.


intrepid-inkweaver -

Without Looking--A short romance story.

Edit: Putting first part under a read more so this doesn't turn into a really long post.


It is a beautiful day--the sun is shining and the blue sky has just enough fluffy white clouds to skitter about on the warm breeze. The sky reflects off of the calm waters of the harbor and even the shore has a sort of calm to it today that it lacks almost any other day. The people working are happier, calmer. There is an artist sitting upon the pier, their easel before them, painting the ships that sail into and out of the harbor, a small, secret, dreamy smile on their face. They paint to the sound of the rigging creaking on the breeze, the soft lapping of the water below, and the flapping of sails in the wind. Their painting is free and colorful and more than one individual stops in their activities to admire their work. Their smile persists through hours, and they fail to notice the small splotch of blue paint that has been charmingly smeared on their cheek.

When the evening approaches and it is time to head home, they store away their painting and palette and they fold up their easel and their happy contentment follows them as they walk through the colorful streets. They stop in the market to smell some flowers, and they toss a coin to a vendor, picking up a bundle of lavender and holding it to their face blissfully.

The Inn is quiet when they enter; the inhabitants either out or all up in their rooms. The Innkeeper still sits in his customary spot, however, keeping an eye on his kingdom from the corner of his eye while he pens a letter at his desk. The artist approaches quietly and waits for him to look up from his writing. When he realizes they are waiting for him, he looks up and they smile, holding out the bundle of lavender.

“I heard you say you needed some this morning, so I picked some up on the way home.” Their smile is warm, and their eyes crinkle with it on the outer edges. He notes the paint on their cheek and almost smiles fondly himself.

The Innkeeper seems surprised even underneath his usually-stoic face, and he almost stumbles over his words when he says thank you, and offers payment that the artist waves off.

“It was no trouble, it was so unseasonably beautiful all day, staying out a little longer was hardly a burden.”

He glances out at the sunshine now streaming through the door--he would have sworn it was cloudy not ten minutes ago, and when he looks back, they have already made their way up the stairs to their room, leaving him with a brown paper bundle of flowers in his hand and a puzzled expression.


intrepid-inkweaver -

The sound of rain on the roof accompanies the crackle of the fireplace down in the Inn’s parlor. The only other sound is the soft clink of the mug when the Innkeeper puts down his tea. It is late, and the Inn’s tenants are, presumably, asleep up in their rooms, so he sits by the fireplace in his shirtsleeves with his cravat loosened and the buttons of his waistcoat undone.

There come the now-familiar footsteps on the stairs, and the Artist comes down in their dressing gown to take the seat across from the Innkeeper by the fire. He no longer comments on the lateness of the hour, and they are no longer surprised by the cup of chamomile tea that has already been made and set out for them. They have grown used to one another, comfortable even in the silence together. Even despite the inclement weather, the parlor has become a spot of warm contentedness. Against his wishes, a smile tugs on the corner of the Innkeeper’s mouth.

They do not always sit in companionable silence; sometimes they speak quietly into the night, other times they play chess or cards--the Artist always manages to lose a few coins at cards even when the Innkeeper is letting them win. It has become a puzzle for the ages. Tonight, though, by some unspoken agreement, they both enjoy the peace of the fire and the rain, and at some point, the Innkeeper drifts into a warm doze. He comes back to consciousness a short while later to the sound of a scratching pencil as the Artist draws in the private little leather-bound sketchbook they usually keep in their inside jacket pocket.

When the Innkeeper stirs, the Artist glances up and smiles and closes the book, placing their pencil behind their ear. They yawn and stretch and announce their intention to finally go to bed. He wishes them a good night and he stands to gather the tea mugs to take them to the kitchen to be washed. When he passes the stairs, they have stopped near the top to watch him, and when he catches them looking, they quickly turn away. When he heads upstairs himself, he catches the scent of lavender in his room, and he touches the dried bundle on his nightstand before changing clothes and blowing out the candles.


intrepid-inkweaver -

On a Monday morning, a Stranger comes into the Inn. Their clothes were once well-made, but they are now worn and dirty, and they carry luggage that looks like it might be all they own. They look tired and ragged and the patrons sitting in the parlor stare at them as they walk across the room. Despite this, they smile at the Innkeeper as they approach the counter. As they heft one of their bags further up on their shoulder, they ask how much it costs for a room for the night. When he tells them the price, they brighten and pull out a change purse to begin counting coins. When they realize that they are one coin short, their face falls for a moment before they manage to plaster a smile back on.

“No mind,” they say, moving to swipe the coins back into their purse.

Without thinking, the Innkeeper reaches out and stops their hand. Making eye contact, he says quietly, so the rest of the room doesn’t hear, “It’s fine. It’s only one coin.” The the look of relief and open gratefulness on their face makes him flush with embarrassment as he gathers the coin to put in the lockbox. It’s only one coin.

“Thank you, sir, so much,” they say quietly, clearly holding back tears, “I will pay you back as soon as I have it. You don’t know how much I appreciate it.” He nods quietly, not knowing what else to say, and turns to lead them to their room.


intrepid-inkweaver -

The evening is bright grey and cool, and the trees all around the city have changed to a riot of vibrant colors that the Artist has taken to rendering in their paintings with great care. (The Innkeeper knows they have had offers on their latest painting, though he himself has not seen it yet.) The hour is later than when they would usually return home--the sun will set in half an hour, and the night streets here are not kind, especially to one such as them. The Innkeeper catches himself glancing at the wall clock rather more often than he normally would.

The door finally opens after most of the tenants have already cleared out of the parlor to admit the Artist, bundled in hat and scarf with nose and cheeks ruddy from the cold. Their eyes sparkle brightly when they see him, though, and they come up to the counter, unraveling the scarf from around their face and setting their easel and art supplies on the floor. “I’ve got something for you,” they say with a grin, fishing around in their inside pocket.

They pull out a carved wooden box, shiny and stained dark, that is warm from their body heat when they hand it over to him. (The remaining tenants pretend not to watch them curiously, though the ones that have been staying at the Inn long are much used to the Artist bringing small gifts home.) The Innkeeper opens the box, the hinges squeaking slightly, and finds, nestled in dark green velvet, a coin with an intricately carved anatomical heart on the front.

“Spin the gear at the bottom,” the Artist says, excitement coloring their quiet voice. He does so and watches as the heart begins to beat. At his astonished expression, the Artist’s smile widens and they ask, “Do you like it?”

“It’s--” A proper word doesn’t seem to want to come to him. Finally he says lamely, “Beautiful. But why--”

“I saw it a while back at the watchmaker’s shop a couple blocks away,” they say quickly, “and I thought you would like it.”

There is a warmth that spreads through his chest as he looks up at them, and his voice doesn’t come out quite right when he says, “I do.”

Their smile and their voice go softer when they respond, “I’m glad.” The warmth in his chest persists for long after they have gone upstairs to put their things away, all the way into the night when he falls asleep with the scent of lavender on his pillow.


Irrequieto

synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter One, "Birthday Cupcakes"


Dev smiled as she felt a cat lie on her chest. “Lil,” she sighed and spat out some brown hair that had floated from her own head. “You know I need to get up, right?”

Her sweet black cat, oblivious to her plans, simply began to settle in. Again, Dev smiled and then proceeded to pick up Lil and set her back on the floor. She had fallen asleep on her favorite couch while waiting for her parents to get home, and her cat had great timing because she heard the door being unlocked now.

Jumping up and managing not to trip on the cat, she ran to greet her parents.

“Devain!” Her father yelled excitedly when he saw her, smothering her into a hug.

Dev sighed into his chest, but this was normal for him. No one else, not even her mother when she was stern, called her Devain. Only her dad did. She always guessed it was a form of revenge, seeing as his name, Triman, was equally as strange. The only one spared was her mother, Allison, who had the most normal name under the sun.

But this wasn’t the most important thought on Dev’s mind. As her mother gave her a kiss on the head, Dev turned to the table that could be seen behind her, completely set up with flatware and plates.

Her mother laughed. “Dev, it’s your birthday, what are you doing setting the table?” she asked.

Laughing as well, Dev sauntered over to pet Lil. “I was bored! I had nothing else to do before you got home, so I thought I’d just get it done, y’know?”

Her parents both nodded in agreement before getting settled in. Like they had said, it was Devain’s fifteenth birthday, an event that she had been waiting for since she turned fourteen. She loved her birthdays since she always got to have cake and not do chores. But aside from that, she also liked getting older. She knew one day she’d resent it, but not yet.

Allison laid out cupcakes she had gotten earlier and waved Dev over to the table along with her father. She stared down at the red cupcakes and green icing and winced. It looked like a Christmas party. But, her mother always insisted on green icing. “Like your eyes,” she would always say. Fifteen cupcakes, each of which would be eaten in the next day or two, one for each year of her life, sat on the table in a single row. A candle adorned the cupcake in the middle of the line of bakery treats.

Her father smirked as they all settled in. “Better make a wish before I take it!” he joked. He said that almost every year, and Dev knew it was her cue to make a wish. But as she blew, her head emptied. The wishes she had been planning to make floated out of her head unexpectedly.

She tried not to frown as her parents clapped. Grabbing the cupcake, she pulled out the candle and took a big bite, ignoring the strangeness of the occurrence. It happens, she supposed.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by her. A book from her mom, a succulent from her dad for her presents, Howl’s Moving Castle for the birthday movie, and chicken for dinner. It was pleasant and calm, exactly what she had hoped for.

Later that night, she sighed as she changed into pajamas and laid in bed. “Another successful birthday,” she said, to no one in particular.

Right as she started to drift off, her eyes closed, she shot up as a hand nudged her arm.

“What-” she yelled, frantic and unable to see in the dark room.

“Shhh!” she heard. Dev wasn’t about to shush just for that, but she quickly recognized the voice as her father’s.

“Dad?” she asked, annoyed. “It’s almost midnight, what do you want?”

He chuckled and pulled her out of bed. “Follow me.”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Two, "The Field of Mailboxes"


Devain grumbled as her dad led her out of bed. He stopped and flicked himself in the forehead. “Almost forgot!” he said to himself. “Devain, change into some sturdy clothes and shoes, and meet me by the back door.”

Dev opened her mouth to argue and ask questions, but he shushed her again and noiselessly slipped out the bedroom door. She grumbled, but did as asked, slipping on simple cargo shorts, tennis shoes, and a black t-shirt with Leviathan, her last name, printed on it.

Yawning, she walked out to meet Triman, who was standing in the backyard. The moon was bright tonight, so she could see easily without a flashlight.

Her father smiled when he saw her, then led her towards the line of trees that separated her house from the incredibly large field next to it. Frowning, Dev followed.

“Dad,” she started, “What did you get me up for? Where are we going?”

He chuckled. “You act like you haven’t been asking your mother and I to explore the tree line for years,” he simply responded.

“Yeah, and I’m glad I get to check it out, but why? It’s only fifteeen feet wide, and it’s the middle of the night.”

“Well, that’s because our destination is on the other side!” he gleefully responded, pushing aside a thick, low-hanging branch from a tree. Behind it, a narrow but well-worn path weaved through the bushes and underbrush to the other side of the line, the field.

Utterly confused but curious and trusting of her dad, Devain followed him through the foliage. The trees seemed to flow around her without a breeze, sending a shiver down her arms.

It didn’t take long for them to break through the trees on the other side. As she took a look around, she gasped. “Dad, what-” she asked, reaching out in front of her.

Her dad smiled and set his hand on the mailbox. One of many, so many that she thought she could spend hours counting and never find the answer. “I pass this field every day to and from school,” she said breathlessly. “These aren’t- these aren’t here.”

Triman slapped the lid of the mailbox, sending a metallic clang through the air. “That sound fake to you? I’ve got a lot of explaining to do, I know, but I gotta make sure you know something first, okay?”

Dev nodded, steeling herself for whatever her father explained next.

“Not a single thing I’m about to say to you is me pulling your leg, making a joke, or trying to prank you. And I need to know that unless someone fits the bill of what I explain next, you never let what happens here reach the ears of any of your peers at school, or family members. Even your mother.” he said, a serious tone lacing every word.
“I- Of course,” she said. “I promise.”

Her father sat down on a patch of soft grass and patted next to him. Devain understood and sat as well, settling in. Triman looked up at the mailbox and smiled. “This mailbox right here- this has been my mailbox for almost thirty years. It’s been mine since I turned fifteen when my father clued me into the family job. Been an Ivy ever since.”

“An Ivy?” she asked. “Family job? Grandpa?”

He shushed her again, laughing. “Devain, we’ll be here till sunrise if you keep cutting me off, sit back and listen.”She stuck out her tongue at him but didn’t keep going.

“Yep, Grandpa Levi, which stands for Leviure, taught me everything I’m about to teach you, aside from a few tidbits here or there. And I’m gonna say to you what every teenager probably longs to hear- The world you see every day? That isn’t the world I’ve been living in the past 30 years.”

Dev leaned back as a little giggle escaped her throat, which caused her father to laugh as well. “I know, right? I sound like I’ve gone senile early. It’s exactly how I felt when I first got this all told to me. But like I said, I’m not pulling your leg.”

“There are all sorts of creatures out there, most of which are just as complex as you and me. And those same creatures aren’t all bad either, as you’ll soon see. But just like we have criminals, those creatures can do wrong just as much. And so, a group exists-”

“Am I gonna get to shoot some monsters?!” she asked excitedly.

Her father burst out laughing. “Ha, no! Well, maybe a little, but that ain’t our priority, us Leviathans. But to understand what we do, you’re gonna have to know about the rest of the Citadel too.”

“The Citadel is the organization that’s been managing monsters as long as the monsters have been around, at least to my knowledge. And within that organization, there exists a hierarchy that’s kept the place running as long as it has. At the top of the chain, we have the Venus. They’re the leader, the president of us in a way. They’re elected once every five years in a mass election, one of which will be occurring this year. The Venus can be male, female, non-binary, or anything in-between. They don’t have to be human either, you see. Our current leader is a Sylph who I think will be re-elected this year as well.”

“After them, we have the Hyacinths. They’re the assistants to the Venus, and they’re all ghosts. Well, a ghost isn’t really the right term, they prefer to be called spirits. Anyways, the Ivy overseer will be here soon enough to judge you, actually. She’s a Hyacinth that works directly with the Venus.”

“Below Hyacinth, we have the job you will need to familiarize yourself with- Ivy. There can only ever be one Ivy, and it tends to be passed down from father to son through the generations. Actually, you’ll be the first woman to get the job in quite a while. Of course, there are some backups for who it can be given to, but that’s a general way.”

“Ivys have a very specific task. They look after this field here we’re sitting in, or more accurately, the mailboxes in it. These mailboxes are assigned to each member of the Citadel. They can have assignments, letters, coupons-”

“Coupons?”

“Yes, coupons. The Citadel is a big business. But basically, this field is the hub for any worker in the Citadel outside of the actual headquarters building. An Ivy’s job is to maintain this field. Keep out any monsters, clean the mailboxes, keep out any regular people, clean up trash-”

“So… we’re janitors. We’re the janitors.” Dev said solemnly.

Her father gave her a wide smile. “Well, in basic terms, yes, but even Ivys get jobs from time to time. Every once in a while, those “business trips” I went on weren’t for the real estate agency."

“How did you manage to keep up with both jobs? And how does Mom not know?” she asked.

“I managed to keep up with both jobs since your mother did a majority of the work herself anyways, I was always just her assistant. As for her not knowing, I’m almost always out here after she’s asleep. I think she’s known for years that I’ve been doing something out here, but she knows I’m faithful and that I make it back to her in the mornings, so she doesn’t mind. It’ll be hard to explain you sneaking out of the house, but we’ll manage,” he said, giving her a wink.

“But anyway, back to the Citadel. Below us, the Ivy, we have the Roses. The Roses are the muscle of the Citadel. They’re the ones who deal with any people that break the law. Sadly for you, they get the shooty shooty bang bang.”

Dev giggled again. “I can live without the shooty shooty bang bang.”

He nodded in mock approval. “Below the Roses are the intelligence of the Citadel, the Lilies. Most Lilies live relatively normal lives, but keep a close eye on any supernatural creature around the area where they live. If one misbehaves, they’re who report it to the Citadel. They also get sent out to investigate monster nests on occasion.”

Dev yelped as a man that looked slightly younger than her father popped into existence at another mailbox about fifty feet away from her. Her dad smiled, waving to the man. He waved back, checked the mail, then popped out of existence again. “I’ll explain that later,” Triman simply responded.

“The lowest and final tier to the Citadel is the Violets. The Violets are so large, you probably have a few in your school as teachers. Any supernatural creature that is in good standing with the Citadel, or any human who simply has a knowledge of the Citadel, is a Violet. Some don’t even work for them, but most do simple jobs that can help provide for a safe and calm life without trying to hide who they are. Most Violets do not have a mailbox, but some with more important jobs will.”

Her father leaned back into the grass. “That’s the bare bones of how the Citadel works. Any question?”

Devain thought on that for a minute. “...No, not really. Nothing that I can pin down, at least,” she answered.

Triman sat up and looked down at his phone, which Dev hadn’t even realized he had. “She should be arriving soon…” he muttered.

Not even ten seconds later, a breeze ran through the trees as a figure appeared in front of Dev. She was startled, of course, falling back a bit. She blinked at the figure, trying to pick out what was strange before she realized she could see partially through her.

“Devain Leviathan, fifteen, daughter of Ivy Triman Leviathan, correct?” The apparition asked, her voice like a bell.

Her father put a hand on Dev’s shoulder. “You don’t need to be so formal, Terrow. Yes, this is Devain. Devain, this is Terrow, the Hyacinth that has overseen me the entirety of my job.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Devain,” she said politely. “Now, let's get started, shall we?”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Three, "The Noctem Blade"


Devain stood next to Terrow while waiting for her dad to get back. She had tried to make conversation with the spirit earlier, but failed. Terrow seemed to be just as uncomfortable as Dev was. After a few minutes of silence, Triman once again made his way through the path in the trees. This time, he carried a long, thin object covered in cloth.

Removing the cloth, he showed off the item he had retrieved. Blinking, Devain took a few seconds to process. In front of her was a beautiful sword.

It was still sheathed, but that in of itself was a work of art. It was covered in a mesh of blacks, blues, and purples, with tiny white stars dotting along at random intervals. She then realized that those random stars weren’t random at all, they spelled out the word, “Noctem” along the side. But she didn’t see it for long, because her father then unsheathed the actual blade.

It had a simple hilt, stark white with a small blue gem set in the pommel. The blade was a dark black, with a line of blue about 3/4ths along the blade through the fuller. The sword in its entirety was just a bit longer than her arm, making it just shy of three feet long.

“This,” her father started, “Is the Noctem Blade. While fighting is not the foremost job for Ivys, it does happen, and it is important. But the Noctem isn’t just a regular Citadel sword. It has full control over the magic that keeps this field hidden. It also has the power to move the field, but that’s only if the current Ivy needs to relocate due to an emergency. It’s a gorgeous sword, but…”

Dev tilted her head, confused. “But?”

“The sword itself is- picky,” he said. “If it doesn’t like who it’s being passed down to, it just- won't work. It can’t kill monsters correctly, it won’t control the field. It makes itself a piece of junk. Valuable, ancient junk. Sadly, it never took to me. That’s why we still live here, in the old house where your grandfather lived.”

“So- you’re telling me that-” Dev sighed. “That I could have to store away this beautiful, cool as hell sword in my shed for years-” she paused. “Because it doesn’t like my vibes?”

Terrow nodded. “That has been the Noctem Blade’s way of doing things for a very long time.”

Triman gingerly handed the blade over to Devain, who ran her fingers just as gently up the flat of the blade. “How do I know whether it likes me or not?”

“Well,” Terrow said, smiling. “We leave you here alone until sunrise!”

Dev laughed at the sarcasm, but then they both drifted back toward the path. “Wait, seriously??”

A few seconds later, they were gone. The path in the trees seemed to close up behind them, leaving her alone with a sword and some mailboxes.

“This-” she said to herself. “Is utterly ridiculous.” But, she stood up, sheathed the sword, and began to explore.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Four, "Ethereal Dreams"


Trying her best not to trip on any twigs as she trudged around in the dark, Devain made her way to the center of the field. It was a long walk- it was much bigger in the real version than what it looked like outside.

It normally looked to be about an acre wide and an acre long, she could tell that it was about ten times bigger than that. She guessed that they needed the room though since each mailbox had its own area of about a five-foot square. With how many there were, they needed a lot of room.

In the center of the field was a circle about fifty feet in diameter. At the very center of that was a small well. At least, she thought it was a well. Mirrors were angled above it, directing moonlight down onto the pool of water below. Because of that, she could see the crystal clear water that had almost a silvery tint.

Stepping back from the well and unsheathing the sword, she grasped the hilt of the sword with both hands and tried to swing it around. She quickly realized that was not how this was meant to be held though, and tried it with only one. It fit much better this way, and she finally got a grasp on how it felt.

It was definitely not light, but it wasn’t exactly heavy either. It had a weight to it that wouldn’t hinder slashes, but would instead add momentum and force to the blow.

She felt the blade sing as she twirled it around, trying her best with the minimal knowledge she had on how to use a sword. Despite her lack of background knowledge, it felt almost effortless.

She sat down and cradled the blade after sheathing it once more. The wind was warm, and the crickets were quiet. Slowly, her eyes began to drift closed.

~~~~~

“Who are you?”

Dev turned around in the dark to see a figure with massive wings stretched behind them. They were only a shadow- she couldn’t even make out and facial features.

“I’m Devain. Devain Leviathan,” she responded. “And you’re the Noctem Blade, aren’t you?”

“Perceptive,” they said, nodding. “I like that. You’re father though I was a devil coming to take him away.”

“That sounds like something most people would think when faced with this situation, you know.”

The figure seemed to ponder that, tilting its head to the side. “True enough,” they responded. “But I am not looking for most people.”

They reached an arm out and pulled Devain into what she thought was an embrace, but she fell right through them. She kept falling, waiting for herself to hit something, for her fall to slow-

~~~~~

Stars glinted in the moonlight as Dev sat up and rubbed her eyes. Reaching to move the sword off her lap, she paused.

“What the actual hell,” she swore to herself, turning her wrists over. On each hand, right on her wrists, was a tattoo of plants that cuffed her arm. Not just any plant, ivy.

When she touched the sword, it was no longer just a dead thing in her hands, it thrummed with an unnatural excitement. She honestly didn’t blame it- she would be too if she was left in a shed for thirty years.

When she examined the blade again, she had a new appreciation for all the little details on it. The pitch blade, the gem in the hilt- it was a piece of art.

“Well…” she said, smiling at the blade. “Thank you for not making me leave you to sit covered in dingy cloth for a while.”

She stood up and left the well behind, making her way towards the tree line again. When she finally reached it, she saw the path that she had come from was still completely sealed off. Or at least, it looked that way.

Hesitantly, she reached out her hand. She barely even had to move for the plants to move aside, revealing the path that she had gotten here from.

Once she had made it through, she saw Terrow and Triman sitting on chairs under the moonlight. “Dad!” she called.

Yelping, he immediately fell out of his chair. He shot back up as quickly as he could, turning to her excitedly. “Devain! You did it! You did, right?”

Terrow smiled and drifted over to her, writing down more information on her clipboard. She opened her mouth to say something but paused. Her forehead wrinkled in confusion. “Devain, may I see your hands?”

“Yeah sure, it’s weird, right? Is this just like- initiation?” she asked, holding out her arms so Terrow could inspect them.

She shook her head. “I haven’t seen this before. I can’t say that it’s never happened before- but I definitely haven’t seen it in my years working with the Citadel.”

“Triman, it’s high time I go. You both also need some rest. Devain, I wish you well.” She then clicked her pen and was gone.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Five, "You're the Tutorial, Aren't You?"


Devain woke up the next morning to sunshine beaming directly into her eye.

“What the- Ow!” she said aloud, sitting up and rubbing her face. Her mind was still foggy- she was waking up pretty late in the day if the sunlight was on her. She fought the urge to roll over and forget her obligations to eat and drink like a human and instead reached over to grab her phone and check the time.

Squinting at her phone’s bright screen, she read out the 11:17 AM time that floated over her wallpaper. That wasn’t too awfully late, but still egregious for compared to her normal 8:00 AM schedule.

Throwing on some semblance of an outfit, she stumbled into the kitchen. Her dad was sitting in a chair in the connected dining room, where he was watching TV and sipping tea. Noticing Dev, he offered her a steaming mug as well.

She sat down next to him and sipped on the tea. It was raspberry green tea- her favorite. She probably sat there wordlessly watching TV for a good couple of minutes before she spit out the tea she was sipping.

“Are we just gonna act like last night didn’t happen?” she asked, waving her now-tattooed arms around. Her father laughed loudly, gesturing for her to calm down.

“I was giving you time to wake up and adjust. It’s not really every night that you get the responsibility of taking care of an entire field and a magic sword.”

Dev was about to agree, but she closed her mouth. Then she opened it again to ask, “But you’ll be doing it with me, right?”

Triman sipped his tea and didn’t meet her eyes.

“R i g h t ?”

He laughed and set down his mug. “Well, you’ll be doing almost all of it. I’m just here to answer any questions. Grandpa always told me you learn more by doing!”

Dev groaned and slammed back her tea like it was a shot. “Okay, well- it’s a Sunday. I’m going to go to the field and get my bearings a bit more. Tell Mom that I’m over at the park if she gets home.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll cover for you. Just don’t be gone too long! And don’t worry if someone asks who you are, just tell them you’re my daughter and they’ll probably give some monster-hunting tips and move on.”

Still wrapping her head around the fact that people could appear next to her with no warning, she went back to her room to change and grab some supplies.

After digging around through her closet, she found a dark grey top that was made of sturdy material but was loose and cool enough for her to run around comfortably in. Next, she slipped on a pair of leggings made from a similar material. She couldn’t remember where she had gotten the clothes from, but they worked well enough for sword practice. She slipped on some tennis shoes and continued on.

Her next task was packing up a backpack. She decided to plan like she was going hiking, focusing on things like water, a couple of snacks, and a small multitool that she had been gifted to her by her grandmother before she passed.

With all this, she stepped back out into the kitchen. Her father was a bit startled. “I had forgotten I gave you those. Your grandmother was a Rose. Those were her field clothes.”

Dev threw her head back. “What, so everyone on your side of the family is all cool and stuff?”

He smiled and walked over, patting her on the shoulder. “Mostly. Your uncle isn’t directly in the business, and neither are his kids.”

Shrugging, Dev set off towards the back door. “No more history,” she commanded. “Just cool sword stuff.”

Once outside, she realized that she had no idea where her dad had stored the Noctem Blade. After Terrow left with her ominous message, he had taken the sword and sent her off to bed.

Luckily enough for both her and the sword, it didn’t take her long to find it when it popped into her hands.

“HOLY-” she yelled, almost flinging it away.

You will regret dropping me if you ever do,” a voice replied calmly. It wasn’t any voice, either.

“Oh lord. You’re the tutorial, aren’t you,” she said, staring pointedly down at the blade.

I am no such thing. I simply will not tolerate a completely idiotic wielder. In fact, I won’t be talking to you at all today after this.”

“Oh, I swear to god-” Dev threatened, but the bond between them that she didn’t even notice before loosened slightly, and the voice left her head.

Grumbling about her exchange with the Noctem Blade, she made her way through the trees and into the field. Now that it was bright outside, she could more fully appreciate the vast size of the field, as well as all the wildflowers that dotted the grass.

She didn’t know how her father managed to keep the length of the grass down, but it was barely tall enough to tickle her ankle if her leggings weren’t tucked into her shoes.

Weaving through the mailboxes, she made her way to the center of the field where she quickly noticed she wasn’t alone. Leaning over the well she had been sleeping by last night was a tall and slender figure who was filling what seemed to be an ornate flask with water from the well.

“Um, excuse me!” Dev said, trying to alert them to her presence. Turning around, the figure gave her a wide smile.

“Do you want some water as well? There is still some left in the bucket.” They spoke with a tone and lilt to their voice that was undeniably not human. Their short hair also helped this deduction, since it showed off the long and pointed ears they had.

“Oh, you’re a Fae!” she said excitedly. “Oh I- Sorry if that’s rude! I’m really new to all this.”

The Faery’s grin grew even wider as they took a long stride forward and clasped Devain’s hands. “You must be Devain!” they said happily. “I am Orlastumina! Most humans simply call me Orlas. Your father was always around while I got moon water from the well! He would talk about you on occasion. It is wonderful to see you!”

Smiling back at the Fae, Dev pulled her hands away and walked over the well. “What is the water in this well? You called it moon water?” she asked. The mirrors that had reflected the moonlight into the pool last night were now facing skyward.

They walked back next to Devain, lifting the flask that they had been filling. “Indeed, it is water that is powered by the moon! Many beliefs have a type or use of moon water. Fae culture is one of those. We use it for many things! It is very good for washing tainted blades.”

Devain made a spot in the grass and sat down, with Orlas following her lead. “A tainted blade is any blade stained with Rayiel blood! Many good swords lost with people who don’t clean them,” the faery continued. “The only sword that cannot be tainted is that sword on your hip! The Noctem Blade, the Night Blade. It was forged by the Fae for the Ivys back when the Citadel was first made! Very much history with that blade.”

“I’ve heard the word Rayiel a few times- what’s a Rayiel?” Dev asked.

Orlas smiled and clapped their hands together. “I forget, you are so new! Rayiels are the Citadel’s biggest issue, they have been fighting for years. They are big clawed humanoids that feed on children! Very bad food source.” they said solemnly.

“I agree. Bad food source.” Devain replied, nodding her head. She moved the Noctem Blade off her lap and unsheathed it. “Do you know anything more about what the blade can do? So far I’ve made it appear in my hands and create a path out of the field, but that’s about it.” she said, leaving out the “talked in her head” bit on purpose.

“Of course! It is told that the blade is imbued with the spirit of a Fae princeling who was exiled from the Land Under The Hill and that he is the one who chooses his wielder. Most people believe it is myth! I am not sure, but either way, it is a great sword. Take care of it well.”

Dev smiled and ran her finger along the flat of the blade. “I will. Thank you.”

“It is no problem little Ivy! I must be going though, vale!” they finished.

And with that, they were gone between one blink and the next.

“This is going to take some getting used to,” she said solemnly to herself before getting up to start training.


synthesystem -

Irrequito, Chapter Six, "Square Up"


“Anime protagonists watch out!” Devain yelled to the sky as she practiced swinging her sword around. It was balanced perfectly as if it was just an extension to her own arm. Despite this, it was hard for her to get a grasp on actually attacking with it. So, as anyone would do, she turned to the internet.

“How to build a sword… How to swing a sword- wait that’s a video game tutorial. How to act like an anime swordsman! Well, no, that’s not what I want.” she mumbled, filling the silent air.

Every once in a while, people would pop in and out of existence in front of mailboxes. All of them ignored her, but she enjoyed the inhuman features that some of them sported. The most common by far was the Fae- their tall and sleek figures were easy to spot.

There wasn’t just Fae either- for a while, she thought she was seeing Hyacinths, but after a while, she noticed that they were Sylphs that she was seeing- wind spirits. They also had a see-through quality to them, but you could tell them apart with the way their clothes billowed around them while no wind was present.

Sadly, whenever she got too distracted or sat down for too long, she felt the Noctem Blade hum in disapproval, making her groan and get back to practicing. Even with it’s judging tones, she felt that it was guiding her a bit. She had no prior experience with any blades but kitchen knives- and yet her arm was guided by the blade itself.

While she practiced, she could feel the blade nagging at her to check around the well. After trying to ignore it for a while, she eventually sighed and examined it.

She now knew it was for making moon water, but it definitely was for more than just that. And sure enough, after wiggling a stone, a spot on the ground that had been covered with dirt and grass creaked. After a few seconds, a hatch sprung up, spraying copious amounts of dirt into Dev’s face. “If this isn’t important-” she threatened the sword. “I will smash you into a rock.”

The hatch was a 3-foot by 3-foot hole, with a ladder that led down into a small room. Inside were training dummies, each about 6 feet in height. They were clearly used- and clearly not human-made. Each humanoid dummy was made with intertwining vines that seemed to mimic the way muscles would grow. She was slightly worried they’d come to life, but after hauling them out, they stayed inanimate.

They were the perfect things to practice on- each time the Noctem Blade sliced into one, the vines quickly grew back into place. If an arm or head was cut off, the vines grew out to grab it.

Getting bored, Devain cleanly sliced off an arm and ran off with it. She didn’t make it far before the vines retrieved it and reformed itself.

She had been outside for a few hours now, and her large water bottle was empty. Ready to take a break at the heat of the day, she packed up her things to head back home.

Grabbing the sheath for her sword, she went to put it up before hearing, “Stop.

She stared down at the blade, annoyed. “What?”

She didn’t get to question it any further before she blinked, and it was nighttime. But there were no stars- an empty, dangerous sky was all that was above her.

“Oh lord-” she started. “What is happening?” she asked, staring down pointedly at the Noctem Blade.

Get into stance. Face your back to the path you came from,” the sword commanded. Devain was annoyed but did as told. It was dark- darker then it had been last night. No one else was visiting.

It wasn’t too awful long before she saw a figure coming directly for her. It was small, but she kept her sword up, ready for a fight.

It wasn’t very long after that when she remembered that perception existed because it was not small. While she was in a field, even fields have slight hills. The figure stopped when it was on one such hill.

She tried her best to make out details from the figure, but it was too dark for her to see much except its height- it's massive seven-foot-tall height.

That,” said the Noctem Blade. “Is a Rayiel. You must fight it.

Dev’s hands shook. “You want me to fight that thing? *That?*” she whispered.

The blade simply thrummed in an impatient sort of yes.

“I guess I can’t argue with that." she grumbled. "Time to go fight my first monster.”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Seven, "Singing Blade"

Warning: from here on out, this story will include many aspects of YA novels that may be upsetting or tr/ggering to some people. Any extra things WILL be tagged, and if there is anything you'd like me to tag, ask and I will do so, but otherwise please read at your own risk.


Devain’s mind was racing faster than she thought would be possible. Her arms shook from adrenaline and fear. She felt a wave of calm come from the Noctem Blade.

“You may not have any prior experience fighting with swords,” it whispered. “But this is not hopeless,” it said.

She nodded, gripping the sword and taking a deep breath. When the Rayiel was about thirty feet from her, it stopped. Now that it was closer, she was able to make out more of its features. It's cloak was ragged, and it's shape was hunched and distorted. Despite this, it was extremely tall, almost two feet taller than she was.

“Are you-” the creature started. Devain yelped, startled by the fact that it spoke at all. It's voice was like a whisper, yet it was rough as sandpaper.

It continued, undaunted. “Are you the new? The new keeper?” it asked.

Dev kept her mouth shut. The Rayiel didn’t like that. In the blink of an eye, it was standing just a few feet from her. Even in the darkness, she could now make out it's distorted fingers on its slender hands. It held a dagger made of an unknown material, posing so that it could strike at any moment.

It growled at her, and struck. It's dagger barely missed her, but she spun her heels and avoided the blade. She quickly brought the Noctem Blade around, but the Rayiel was faster than she was. She stepped back, dodging the blade.

She jumped backward, attempting to distance herself, knowing that she had the advantage of a longer weapon. She was inexperienced though and only could move aside enough not to get stabbed when the Rayiel threw the blade. It missed its mark but still left a nasty cut on her side.

It didn’t take long for the Rayiel to pull out another dagger of the same make and rush her again. Now injured, she was at an even greater disadvantage, but she managed to pull through and dodge.

Dev took a deep breath and made a quick decision- she needed to go on the offensive.

Her blade sang through the air as she swung at the Rayiel, hard. This time, she managed to leave a cut on its side, almost a mirror of her own. It made an inhuman screech and jumped back, slowly circling her.

It slipped it's dagger back into its cloak before darting away, seemingly uninterested now that she had hurt it. She sat down on the edge of the well, panting and clutching her side, which was now soaked with blood.

“If that cut was any deeper,” the blade commented. “You’d be in trouble. You need to become a better swordswoman.”

“Yeah, yeah. I get that,” she muttered angrily.

She didn’t sheathe her sword until the darkness faded from the sky, and the birds started chirping again.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Eight, "Stitched Up"


When her breathing had slowed, and her heart had calmed, Devain gripped the hilt of the Noctem Blade and pulled herself up. Using the blade as support, she slowly made her way towards the path back home. She could feel the resentment of the Noctem Blade from being used as a cane, but she guessed it understood that it was necessary.

She silently thanked Mother Nature that she left out any steep hills from the field. Just getting up the gentle slopes were enough to send a teeth-grinding shock of pain down her side. Occasionally, she even had to use the mailboxes as support.

Once she had reached the path, her head was swimming. She wasn’t bleeding an awful amount, but the pain from the injury made her feel light-headed.

She stumbled into the living room clutching her side, and right into her dad’s shocked arms. “What- you were attacked?” he asked, trying his best to act calm.

He sat her down on the couch, where Lil quickly curled up next to Devain’s side. Triman lifted up the corner of her shirt, examining the injury. “This isn’t that deep- I can get this fixed myself. Don’t worry about anything now, but I’ll need an explanation from you later.”

Devain laid back on the couch, expecting to faint, but she managed to stay lucid throughout her father stitching up her side. He had obviously done this before, and his hands moved with a gentle and speedy pace that made it easy enough for her to zone out of what was happening.

Surprisingly, she guessed that the reason she was conscious was the Noctem Blade. It had a gentle reassurance that she couldn’t put into words. But she knew that having it there gave her a nudge towards staying awake.

After about thirty minutes, her father sat back and sighed. Still almost horizontal on the couch, Dev slowly but surely began to explain her encounter with the Rayiel.

Her dad mostly stayed silent, but he would occasionally grip her hand or sigh with a tired sadness that made Devain want to tear up.

“Did it give its name?” he asked when she was finished.

“No, not that I can remember. Why?”

“If you did, we could send out a formal request to hunt it. Without it, we can just tip that one was seen in the area. Although, the fact that it got into the field at all probably makes this a special circumstance…”

“So the darkness wasn’t normal, huh?”

Triman chuckled and squeezed her hand again. “No, it’s not. Usually, the field is surrounded by monster-repelling wards, which makes it our bunker in case we ever are attacked by monsters. It’s why the job doesn’t have a high fatality rate- the only people that ever perish on the job either can’t utter the words to get sent to the field, are to busy to remember that it is an option, or see that as the “easy way out,” he said, sighing again after the last option.

“What word gets you into the field? Is that why people just- pop into existence?”

“That’s exactly it. Back when the field was first created, a spell was created so that any official member of the Citadel can say the word “Interius” and get warped inside the field. The opposite is true for “Exitus,” which does exactly what it sounds like.”

Dev nodded, but then scrunched her eyebrows together and asked, “But why didn’t you get teleported just then? Do Ivys not get such luxury?”

“Well, that’s not exactly the case. If we are inside the field already, like if we used the path to get in like we normally have, saying Exitus wouldn’t work, no matter what. You can’t teleport back to your last location if your last location is inside the field. As for why I didn’t get sent in a second ago, you will only be sent there if you specifically have the goal to be sent into the field. That’s why people who are in too intense of a fight may not be able to- they aren’t able to focus well enough to be sent out.”

Dev sighed, exhausted. “That’s too much exposition, Dad.”

He softly chuckled and ran his hand lovingly across her cheek, “I know, and I’m sorry. I wasn’t planning on dumping this all on you so fast.”

“You aren’t as angry as I thought you’d be.”

“Angry? No. Worried? Yes, very much so. I… I knew you would eventually have to go out and fight things, just like I did. It’s not usually a fatal job, but it’s not safe either. I just wasn’t prepared for you to fight so soon.”

He laced his fingers together and smiled at her. “I am proud of you though, you know that? Most kids would’ve frozen up, and gotten scared-”

“I was scared.”

“Yes, well, too scared to move. But I’m proud of you for fighting back. It’s the first step to getting stronger. Good job, Devain.”

Smiling, she gently coaxed herself upwards. She realized that sometime during her painful haze, the Noctem Blade had disappeared again. “What will we tell Mom?”

“Your mother,” he said, winking, “won’t be hearing a *word* from me, and not from you either. Unless you’d like to explain this all to her and hope she lets you keep fighting monsters?”

Dev shuddered at the thought. “Yep, you’re right, best to keep silent about it.”

Her dad helped her get to her feet and to her room. “Just lie down for today- the paste I used to clean your wound was made by a Fae friend of mine, it helps promote fast healing. As long as you don’t scratch at it, you should still be good to go to school tomorrow!”

She groaned, settling onto her bed and grabbing her gaming console. “All this and I still don’t get out of school, huh?”

“No can do kiddo.”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Nine, "Names"


Sighing, Devain accepted her mother’s many hugs before she wriggled out of the front doorway of the house. “Mom, I need to get to the bus stop!”

Her mother frowned but kissed her once more on the forehead before sending her off.

Once safely at the bus stop, Dev grimaced at the pain in her side. She had agreed not to mention it to Allison, her mother, but that meant that all the mothering hugs she would give would smush, poke, and prod at her wound.

She was lucky that it scabbed over so quickly, but it still hurt. But even with a slice to her side, she had to go to school like a normal kid.

The bus ride made her cringe every time it slammed to a stop or hit a bump, but she managed to get to make it through the journey mostly unscathed.

As she slowly made her way off the bus, the building of her high school seemed to loom over her. She had been going to Holly High since the year started, but even after two months of grueling school work, the school still felt foreign to her.

Begrudgingly, she climbed the steps up to her first-period class. She was early- she didn’t spend the extra time before the first bell talking to people she knows. It wasn’t like she didn’t have any friends, she did, but most of them either had to be on the opposite side of the school or had other things to do. Even with all that, she could usually count on her friend Erika.

Devain always misses Erika when she’s not at school for her many doctor appointments and the like, but when she was here, Dev couldn’t frown for more than a minute without a scolding to be happy from her bubbly bestie. She wouldn’t usually get along with people like Erika, be even she has a serious side that Dev appreciates.

After a few minutes of milling around, students began to take their seats and wait for class to begin. Standing at the front of the room though, was a kid that caught Dev’s attention.

He was taller than most of her classmates, probably at around six feet in height. He was also skinny, which added to his unnatural lanky look. His hair was red, but not like an orangish-red, it was a deep mauve.

As he hovered around the teacher, his hands moved slowly yet constantly, either rubbing the hem of his shirt or the edge of the binder he was carrying.

When the bell finally rang, her teacher, Mr. Eldri, got up and led the boy in front of the whiteboard where everyone could see him.

He cleared his throat to get the attention of the students, then began to introduce him. “Everyone, this is our new student. He’s transferred in from out of state, so make him feel welcome.” Mr. Eldri turned to the new student. “Go on, introduce yourself.”

The boy finally lifted his eyes off the floor, giving Devain a clear view of the crystalline color of his irises, which were an unnatural green. She thought that he must be wearing contacts.

“My name is Eriador,” he started. His voice had a lilt to it that she couldn’t put her finger on. “But please call me Eric.”

She quickly realized the hilarity of the fact that this new kid has as strange of a name as she does, the realization of which caused her to give a quiet little chuckle.

“I’ve moved here with my family from across the country, so I’m pretty unfamiliar with the area. I’ll hopefully be adjusted soon enough though.” he finished, his eyes flicking and taking in the faces of each student.

After he was finished speaking, Mr. Eldri shepherded him to an empty desk that sat across the room from Devain.

For the next twenty minutes, both Dev and the new student barely paid attention to the lesson. Eric was preoccupied with his binder, while Dev was preoccupied with studying him.

When Mr. Eldri announced it was time to pair up for a short project, Dev sighed and made her way over to him. When he saw her approach, he frowned and laid his head in his hand and quickly said, “I’d rather not work with someone who laughed at my name and watched me the whole class.”

Dev stepped back, eyes wide in shock. “You heard me? And saw me?” she asked. He nodded, and she smiled and began to laugh.

When she saw the anger build on his face, she calmed herself. “No, I’m not laughing at you. And earlier, I wasn’t laughing at your name, I was laughing at the fact that we both have weird names,” she said, holding out her hand for him to shake. “I’m Devain. Call me Dev.”

Now it was his turn to be startled, but he quickly broke into a smile and shook her hand. “That still doesn’t excuse you from staring at me, I was worried I had something on my face.”

They both laughed and introduced themselves to each other a bit further before deciding to work together.

The rest of the class period flew by for Devain, who enjoyed Eric’s stories while they worked.

When the bell rang and they stood up to part ways, Eric glanced at Dev’s wrists. “You have tattoos?” he asked.

She looked down to see that her sleeves had ridden up enough to reveal the marks that she had gotten from the Noctem Blade. “Oh, uh, no. These are just temporary!” she said, fumbling for an excuse. Eric didn’t press her further though, and just shrugged and left for his next class.

Devain swore as he left and jerked her sleeves down, embarrassed that anyone had seen the markings. She tried not to dwell on it though and prepared herself to deal with her injury as she made her way to her next class.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Ten, "Maybe"


The rest of the school day seemed to crawl by fro Devain, who had to both deal with boredom and her injury. From time to time she would see glimpses of Eric in the hallways, but he’d quickly slip into a classroom before she could ever see him again.

When the final bell for the day finally rang, Dev followed the sea of students out to the buses. She made her way back to a seat and quickly stuck her backpack next to her, hoping to secure the seat. Not more than a few seconds later, she felt a tap on her shoulder.

“Mind if I sit here?” Eric asked.

Dev looked over at him, surprised. “You ride my bus?”

He smiled and picked up her backpack, dropping it onto her lap. He slid into the seat and nodded. “Funnily enough, yes. I probably do in the mornings too, I just was with my mom this morning.”

“Then I can finally get a seat buddy! No more having to sit with weirdos! If you sit somewhere else I will feel personally attacked.”

He smiled again and laughed. “Noted.”

While the rest of the ride was only small talk, Dev barely noticed her stop coming up. She had to jump up and run out when the bus stopped, waving a quick goodbye to Eric as she did. On her way down the bus’s steps, she tensed up from the pain and had to catch herself on the railing.

“Be careful,” her bus driver said roughly. Dev nodded and continued down carefully, making sure not to breathe too deeply before she got to her house.

Making her way into the living room, Dev greeted her cat. Sitting on the couch was her father, who smiled at her. “Your mother got called in suddenly to work, so it’s just me for a while. How was school?” he asked, picking up Lil and setting him on his lap.

“Boring. Painful. Highschool,” she said, gently holding her aching side. “On the bright side, there is a new kid who’s pretty nice. His name is Eric,” she smiled. “Well, it’s actually Eriador, so we bonded over weird names.”

Her father paused from petting the cat. “Huh. I wonder if his family works at the Citadel.”

“What?” asked Dev incredulously. “Why do you say that?”

Her father chuckled. “The name. Most anyone with a crazy name has family that works in the Citadel. They’re usually family names, and some people just like them for the charm. That’s what I did with yours.”

“So that's why I’m named Devain?”

“Yep.”

Devain scowled at this, cursing the weird tradition. She didn’t mind that much anymore, but she still was tired of being teased for her name. Now that she knows it was just a strange tradition, she wished she was left out of it.

“But- Eric. He could just have a weird name.”

Her dad sat and thought for a moment. “If he is really part of the Citadel, he’s old enough to start training. Did you catch his last name?”

She took a moment to think back on it. “..huh. No, not that I-” she paused, then clapped her hands. “Clutch! It was on his binder. Eriador Clutch.”

Triman tried to think for a moment but shook his head. “Nope, that’s no family I know. I wish the mailboxes we’re in alphabetical order, it would be easy enough to check then…”

“They aren’t?” Dev asked.

“No, when family names change and people die and such, the names keep getting swapped around. It might have been orderly generations ago, but now it’s a mess. It’s a functional mess, at least.”

Devain sighed and shrugged. “I’m going to head out there tonight. I have some homework to do, and I want to see if anyone is up for giving me some tips.”

“You’re going back so soon? After what happened yesterday?”

“It’s my job to take care of the field now, I can’t be scared of it, can I?”

Her father smiled. “No, I guess not. I should be scolding you for being so willing to talk to strangers, but most Citadel workers are good folk. And, well, you have a sword. Also, the Citadel is spread from around the world, so don’t be too freaked out if someone doesn’t speak English.”

“That makes sense,” Dev responded simply.

For the next few hours, Dev staved off her excitement to go back to the field. She ate dinner after her mother came home, then rushed back to bed. “I’m just tired,” she explained after her mother questioned her overzealous urge to sleep.

When she got back to her room, she checked on the wound. It was still scary to look at, but it was less gnarly and was healing very fast.

Laying on her bed, Dev summoned the Noctem Blade. It was just as beautifully crafted as before, but she now saw it as the blade that saved her life. She cradled it in her arms, letting herself daydream before she could leave to go to the field.

By 10:30, she knew her mom would be asleep. She was expecting her dad to send her off, but she instead found a note on the counter that read, “Don’t stay up too late! -Dad” in messy handwriting.


intrepid-inkweaver -

Without Looking--A short romance story.

Edit: Putting first part under a read more so this doesn't turn into a really long post.


It is a beautiful day--the sun is shining and the blue sky has just enough fluffy white clouds to skitter about on the warm breeze. The sky reflects off of the calm waters of the harbor and even the shore has a sort of calm to it today that it lacks almost any other day. The people working are happier, calmer. There is an artist sitting upon the pier, their easel before them, painting the ships that sail into and out of the harbor, a small, secret, dreamy smile on their face. They paint to the sound of the rigging creaking on the breeze, the soft lapping of the water below, and the flapping of sails in the wind. Their painting is free and colorful and more than one individual stops in their activities to admire their work. Their smile persists through hours, and they fail to notice the small splotch of blue paint that has been charmingly smeared on their cheek.

When the evening approaches and it is time to head home, they store away their painting and palette and they fold up their easel and their happy contentment follows them as they walk through the colorful streets. They stop in the market to smell some flowers, and they toss a coin to a vendor, picking up a bundle of lavender and holding it to their face blissfully.

The Inn is quiet when they enter; the inhabitants either out or all up in their rooms. The Innkeeper still sits in his customary spot, however, keeping an eye on his kingdom from the corner of his eye while he pens a letter at his desk. The artist approaches quietly and waits for him to look up from his writing. When he realizes they are waiting for him, he looks up and they smile, holding out the bundle of lavender.

“I heard you say you needed some this morning, so I picked some up on the way home.” Their smile is warm, and their eyes crinkle with it on the outer edges. He notes the paint on their cheek and almost smiles fondly himself.

The Innkeeper seems surprised even underneath his usually-stoic face, and he almost stumbles over his words when he says thank you, and offers payment that the artist waves off.

“It was no trouble, it was so unseasonably beautiful all day, staying out a little longer was hardly a burden.”

He glances out at the sunshine now streaming through the door--he would have sworn it was cloudy not ten minutes ago, and when he looks back, they have already made their way up the stairs to their room, leaving him with a brown paper bundle of flowers in his hand and a puzzled expression.


intrepid-inkweaver -

The sound of rain on the roof accompanies the crackle of the fireplace down in the Inn’s parlor. The only other sound is the soft clink of the mug when the Innkeeper puts down his tea. It is late, and the Inn’s tenants are, presumably, asleep up in their rooms, so he sits by the fireplace in his shirtsleeves with his cravat loosened and the buttons of his waistcoat undone.

There come the now-familiar footsteps on the stairs, and the Artist comes down in their dressing gown to take the seat across from the Innkeeper by the fire. He no longer comments on the lateness of the hour, and they are no longer surprised by the cup of chamomile tea that has already been made and set out for them. They have grown used to one another, comfortable even in the silence together. Even despite the inclement weather, the parlor has become a spot of warm contentedness. Against his wishes, a smile tugs on the corner of the Innkeeper’s mouth.

They do not always sit in companionable silence; sometimes they speak quietly into the night, other times they play chess or cards--the Artist always manages to lose a few coins at cards even when the Innkeeper is letting them win. It has become a puzzle for the ages. Tonight, though, by some unspoken agreement, they both enjoy the peace of the fire and the rain, and at some point, the Innkeeper drifts into a warm doze. He comes back to consciousness a short while later to the sound of a scratching pencil as the Artist draws in the private little leather-bound sketchbook they usually keep in their inside jacket pocket.

When the Innkeeper stirs, the Artist glances up and smiles and closes the book, placing their pencil behind their ear. They yawn and stretch and announce their intention to finally go to bed. He wishes them a good night and he stands to gather the tea mugs to take them to the kitchen to be washed. When he passes the stairs, they have stopped near the top to watch him, and when he catches them looking, they quickly turn away. When he heads upstairs himself, he catches the scent of lavender in his room, and he touches the dried bundle on his nightstand before changing clothes and blowing out the candles.


intrepid-inkweaver -

On a Monday morning, a Stranger comes into the Inn. Their clothes were once well-made, but they are now worn and dirty, and they carry luggage that looks like it might be all they own. They look tired and ragged and the patrons sitting in the parlor stare at them as they walk across the room. Despite this, they smile at the Innkeeper as they approach the counter. As they heft one of their bags further up on their shoulder, they ask how much it costs for a room for the night. When he tells them the price, they brighten and pull out a change purse to begin counting coins. When they realize that they are one coin short, their face falls for a moment before they manage to plaster a smile back on.

“No mind,” they say, moving to swipe the coins back into their purse.

Without thinking, the Innkeeper reaches out and stops their hand. Making eye contact, he says quietly, so the rest of the room doesn’t hear, “It’s fine. It’s only one coin.” The the look of relief and open gratefulness on their face makes him flush with embarrassment as he gathers the coin to put in the lockbox. It’s only one coin.

“Thank you, sir, so much,” they say quietly, clearly holding back tears, “I will pay you back as soon as I have it. You don’t know how much I appreciate it.” He nods quietly, not knowing what else to say, and turns to lead them to their room.


babushka reblogged rave

Rave X Among Us crossover fic

rave -

i. "среди нас есть один пришелец"

~660 слов, 2.5 минут


- Наконец-то! Наконец-то мы летим на Фиолетовую Пустыню! - космонавт в голубом скафандре размахивал руками, шагая туда-сюда по коридору. - Здорово Валери придумала угнать корабль!

- Не Валери, а Вайолет, - поправил его космонавт в коричневом скафандре. - Мы всё-таки на корабле, значит, надо называть друг друга по цвету.

- Но мы же сбежали, - развел руками космонавт в голубом. - От обезличивания, от законов... Ты, значит, будешь Браун? - добавил он после паузы.

Браун пожал плечами.

- Ну да. Эти правила древнее Города-Государства. Раз издавна повелось в космосе, а значит, так надо. Имена могут повторяться, а цвета - никогда. К тому же, их издали видно. Если что-то случится...

Космонавт в коричневом скафандре повернулся и поглядел на другого космонавта - вылитая его копия, но поменьше. Тот немедля пихнул его локтем в бок, и Браун ответил ему тем же.

- Сходи погляди в иллюминатор, мелкий. Мы скоро прилетим. Не отходи только от кафетерия.

Маленький космонавт побежал через коридор.

- Ты думаешь, что-то случится?

- Внимание всем, - донёсся из динамиков голос капитана, - проводится полный биоскан всего корабля. Просьба собраться в медотсеке.

- Пойду мелкого подхвачу, - Браун повернулся к иллюминатору.

- Разумно, - донёсся усиленный динамиком низкий голос из другого конца коридора. - Биоскан - процедура рутинная, но необходимая. Я и сам хотел предложить.

- О, это же четвертый участник! Я и забыл про него, - космонавт в голубом скафандре развернулся на голос и замахал рукой. - Привет!

Фигура в зеленом скафандре выступила из-за поворота.

- Циан?

- Грин! - Циан замер. Он перестал махать рукой. - Ты... Как ты здесь?

- Так же, как и ты, - Грин приблизился к нему и помахал рукой в ответ. - Пошли, в медотсеке увидимся.

Он прошёл мимо, а Циан так и остался стоять на месте. Браун аккуратно похлопал спутника по плечу. Мелкий уже тоже был рядом и выразительно поглядывал на Циана сквозь скафандр.

- Эй, ты чего? Пошли давай в медотсек, пока скан не начался. Эти лучи по глазам ого-го как бьют.

- Это... Он же... Он же известный учёный, я с ним летал как-то! - Циан замахал рукой туда, где только что стоял Грин. - Здорово, что он с нами! Интересно, откуда Ва.. Вайолет его знает?

- А, вот и вы, - девушка в сиреневом скафандре поприветствовала вошедших в медотсек. - Значит, так. Аптечка здесь полная, и все аппараты исправны, с этим проблем не возникнет. Система освещения, бывает, барахлит, и некоторые установки требуют ручного управления. Но тут нет ничего такого, с чем не справятся механик и программист, верно? Я буду наблюдать за нашим положением в пространстве, возможно, понадобится убрать парочку астероидов. Грин, по необходимости помоги ребятам. Ну а для тебя, малыш, - Вайолет наклонилась к маленькому космонавту, - у меня особое задание.

Она протянула ему вытащенную из-за спины головоломку, и тот немедля убежал в угол ее разгадывать. На проекторе загорелось изображение корабля.

- Кажется, все чисто! - радостно объявила Вайолет, показывая на стену. Экипаж уставился на изображение.

В наступившей тишине стало слышно, как гудит двигатель, как шумят устройство фоновой радиосвязи.

- Кажется, - упавшим голосом прошептала Вайолет. - О... Боже... Правый.

"Среди нас есть один пришелец"


babushka -

translation!

i. "there's one impostor among us"

~660 words, 2.5 minutes


-Finally! Finally, we are flying to the Violet Desert! - an astronaut in a light blue spacesuit was waving his arms, walking back and forth along the corridor. - It was so cool of Valerie to hijack a ship!

- Not Valerie, but Violet, - the astronaut in the brown spacesuit corrected him. - We are on the ship now, so we need to call each other by color.

- But...we ran away, - the astronaut in blue threw his hands in the air. - From impersonality, from the laws... So you will be Brown? - he added after a pause.

Brown shrugged.

- Yeah. These rules are older than the City-State, you know. It has been like this in space for a long time, which means that there's a damn good reason for it. Names can be repeated, but colors cannot. Besides, they can be easily seen from afar. If something happens...

The astronaut in the brown spacesuit turned and looked at the other astronaut - a copy of him, but smaller. He immediately shoved him in the side with his elbow, and Brown responded with the same gesture.

- Go and look through the window, kid. We'll be arriving soon. Just don't go far from the cafeteria.

The little astronaut ran across the hall.

- Do you think something will happen?

- Attention to all, - the voice of the captain came from the speakers, - a complete bioscan of the entire ship is being carried out. Please gather in the med section.

- I'll go get the kid, - Brown turned to the window.

- Reasonable, - a low voice amplified by the speaker came from the other end of the corridor. - Bioscan is a routine, but a necessary one. I was about to propose that myself.

- Oh, this is our fourth crewmate! I forgot about him, - the astronaut in a cyan spacesuit turned towards the voice and waved his hand. - Hello!

A tall figure in a green spacesuit stepped from around the corner.

- Cyan?

- Green! - Cyan froze. He stopped waving his hand. - You... How are you here?

- Same way as you, - Green approached him and waved back. - Come on, see you in the medical bay.

He passed by, and Cyan remained standing still. Brown patted his companion gently on the shoulder. The little guy was already close by and was looking at Cyan expressively through his spacesuit.

- Hey, what are you doing? Let's get to medbay before the scan starts. These damn beams hit hard in the eyes, you know.

- This is... He is... He is a famous scientist, I've traveled with him before! - Cyan pointed to where Green just was. - It's so great that he is with us! I wonder where Va... Violet knows him from?

- Ah, here you are, - a girl in a lilac spacesuit greeted those who entered the medical compartment. - So... The first-aid kit is full here, and all devices are in good working order, there will be no problems with this. The lighting system can sometimes go awry, and some devices require manual control. But there's nothing here that a mechanic and a programmer can't handle, right? I will be monitoring our position in space, perhaps we'll need to remove a couple of asteroids. You, Green, help the guys if necessary. And for you, kid, - Violet leaned over to the little astronaut - I have a special task.

She handed him a puzzle she pulled out from behind her back, and he immediately ran in the corner to solve it. The image of the ship lit up on the projector screen.

- Everything seems to be clean! - Violet announced happily, pointing at the wall. The crew stared at the image. In the silence that followed, the background radio could be heard rustling.

“Everything seems... ,” Violet whispered in a low voice. - Oh ... Dear... God.

"There is one impostor among us"


Irrequieto

synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter One, "Birthday Cupcakes"


Dev smiled as she felt a cat lie on her chest. “Lil,” she sighed and spat out some brown hair that had floated from her own head. “You know I need to get up, right?”

Her sweet black cat, oblivious to her plans, simply began to settle in. Again, Dev smiled and then proceeded to pick up Lil and set her back on the floor. She had fallen asleep on her favorite couch while waiting for her parents to get home, and her cat had great timing because she heard the door being unlocked now.

Jumping up and managing not to trip on the cat, she ran to greet her parents.

“Devain!” Her father yelled excitedly when he saw her, smothering her into a hug.

Dev sighed into his chest, but this was normal for him. No one else, not even her mother when she was stern, called her Devain. Only her dad did. She always guessed it was a form of revenge, seeing as his name, Triman, was equally as strange. The only one spared was her mother, Allison, who had the most normal name under the sun.

But this wasn’t the most important thought on Dev’s mind. As her mother gave her a kiss on the head, Dev turned to the table that could be seen behind her, completely set up with flatware and plates.

Her mother laughed. “Dev, it’s your birthday, what are you doing setting the table?” she asked.

Laughing as well, Dev sauntered over to pet Lil. “I was bored! I had nothing else to do before you got home, so I thought I’d just get it done, y’know?”

Her parents both nodded in agreement before getting settled in. Like they had said, it was Devain’s fifteenth birthday, an event that she had been waiting for since she turned fourteen. She loved her birthdays since she always got to have cake and not do chores. But aside from that, she also liked getting older. She knew one day she’d resent it, but not yet.

Allison laid out cupcakes she had gotten earlier and waved Dev over to the table along with her father. She stared down at the red cupcakes and green icing and winced. It looked like a Christmas party. But, her mother always insisted on green icing. “Like your eyes,” she would always say. Fifteen cupcakes, each of which would be eaten in the next day or two, one for each year of her life, sat on the table in a single row. A candle adorned the cupcake in the middle of the line of bakery treats.

Her father smirked as they all settled in. “Better make a wish before I take it!” he joked. He said that almost every year, and Dev knew it was her cue to make a wish. But as she blew, her head emptied. The wishes she had been planning to make floated out of her head unexpectedly.

She tried not to frown as her parents clapped. Grabbing the cupcake, she pulled out the candle and took a big bite, ignoring the strangeness of the occurrence. It happens, she supposed.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by her. A book from her mom, a succulent from her dad for her presents, Howl’s Moving Castle for the birthday movie, and chicken for dinner. It was pleasant and calm, exactly what she had hoped for.

Later that night, she sighed as she changed into pajamas and laid in bed. “Another successful birthday,” she said, to no one in particular.

Right as she started to drift off, her eyes closed, she shot up as a hand nudged her arm.

“What-” she yelled, frantic and unable to see in the dark room.

“Shhh!” she heard. Dev wasn’t about to shush just for that, but she quickly recognized the voice as her father’s.

“Dad?” she asked, annoyed. “It’s almost midnight, what do you want?”

He chuckled and pulled her out of bed. “Follow me.”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Two, "The Field of Mailboxes"


Devain grumbled as her dad led her out of bed. He stopped and flicked himself in the forehead. “Almost forgot!” he said to himself. “Devain, change into some sturdy clothes and shoes, and meet me by the back door.”

Dev opened her mouth to argue and ask questions, but he shushed her again and noiselessly slipped out the bedroom door. She grumbled, but did as asked, slipping on simple cargo shorts, tennis shoes, and a black t-shirt with Leviathan, her last name, printed on it.

Yawning, she walked out to meet Triman, who was standing in the backyard. The moon was bright tonight, so she could see easily without a flashlight.

Her father smiled when he saw her, then led her towards the line of trees that separated her house from the incredibly large field next to it. Frowning, Dev followed.

“Dad,” she started, “What did you get me up for? Where are we going?”

He chuckled. “You act like you haven’t been asking your mother and I to explore the tree line for years,” he simply responded.

“Yeah, and I’m glad I get to check it out, but why? It’s only fifteeen feet wide, and it’s the middle of the night.”

“Well, that’s because our destination is on the other side!” he gleefully responded, pushing aside a thick, low-hanging branch from a tree. Behind it, a narrow but well-worn path weaved through the bushes and underbrush to the other side of the line, the field.

Utterly confused but curious and trusting of her dad, Devain followed him through the foliage. The trees seemed to flow around her without a breeze, sending a shiver down her arms.

It didn’t take long for them to break through the trees on the other side. As she took a look around, she gasped. “Dad, what-” she asked, reaching out in front of her.

Her dad smiled and set his hand on the mailbox. One of many, so many that she thought she could spend hours counting and never find the answer. “I pass this field every day to and from school,” she said breathlessly. “These aren’t- these aren’t here.”

Triman slapped the lid of the mailbox, sending a metallic clang through the air. “That sound fake to you? I’ve got a lot of explaining to do, I know, but I gotta make sure you know something first, okay?”

Dev nodded, steeling herself for whatever her father explained next.

“Not a single thing I’m about to say to you is me pulling your leg, making a joke, or trying to prank you. And I need to know that unless someone fits the bill of what I explain next, you never let what happens here reach the ears of any of your peers at school, or family members. Even your mother.” he said, a serious tone lacing every word.
“I- Of course,” she said. “I promise.”

Her father sat down on a patch of soft grass and patted next to him. Devain understood and sat as well, settling in. Triman looked up at the mailbox and smiled. “This mailbox right here- this has been my mailbox for almost thirty years. It’s been mine since I turned fifteen when my father clued me into the family job. Been an Ivy ever since.”

“An Ivy?” she asked. “Family job? Grandpa?”

He shushed her again, laughing. “Devain, we’ll be here till sunrise if you keep cutting me off, sit back and listen.”She stuck out her tongue at him but didn’t keep going.

“Yep, Grandpa Levi, which stands for Leviure, taught me everything I’m about to teach you, aside from a few tidbits here or there. And I’m gonna say to you what every teenager probably longs to hear- The world you see every day? That isn’t the world I’ve been living in the past 30 years.”

Dev leaned back as a little giggle escaped her throat, which caused her father to laugh as well. “I know, right? I sound like I’ve gone senile early. It’s exactly how I felt when I first got this all told to me. But like I said, I’m not pulling your leg.”

“There are all sorts of creatures out there, most of which are just as complex as you and me. And those same creatures aren’t all bad either, as you’ll soon see. But just like we have criminals, those creatures can do wrong just as much. And so, a group exists-”

“Am I gonna get to shoot some monsters?!” she asked excitedly.

Her father burst out laughing. “Ha, no! Well, maybe a little, but that ain’t our priority, us Leviathans. But to understand what we do, you’re gonna have to know about the rest of the Citadel too.”

“The Citadel is the organization that’s been managing monsters as long as the monsters have been around, at least to my knowledge. And within that organization, there exists a hierarchy that’s kept the place running as long as it has. At the top of the chain, we have the Venus. They’re the leader, the president of us in a way. They’re elected once every five years in a mass election, one of which will be occurring this year. The Venus can be male, female, non-binary, or anything in-between. They don’t have to be human either, you see. Our current leader is a Sylph who I think will be re-elected this year as well.”

“After them, we have the Hyacinths. They’re the assistants to the Venus, and they’re all ghosts. Well, a ghost isn’t really the right term, they prefer to be called spirits. Anyways, the Ivy overseer will be here soon enough to judge you, actually. She’s a Hyacinth that works directly with the Venus.”

“Below Hyacinth, we have the job you will need to familiarize yourself with- Ivy. There can only ever be one Ivy, and it tends to be passed down from father to son through the generations. Actually, you’ll be the first woman to get the job in quite a while. Of course, there are some backups for who it can be given to, but that’s a general way.”

“Ivys have a very specific task. They look after this field here we’re sitting in, or more accurately, the mailboxes in it. These mailboxes are assigned to each member of the Citadel. They can have assignments, letters, coupons-”

“Coupons?”

“Yes, coupons. The Citadel is a big business. But basically, this field is the hub for any worker in the Citadel outside of the actual headquarters building. An Ivy’s job is to maintain this field. Keep out any monsters, clean the mailboxes, keep out any regular people, clean up trash-”

“So… we’re janitors. We’re the janitors.” Dev said solemnly.

Her father gave her a wide smile. “Well, in basic terms, yes, but even Ivys get jobs from time to time. Every once in a while, those “business trips” I went on weren’t for the real estate agency."

“How did you manage to keep up with both jobs? And how does Mom not know?” she asked.

“I managed to keep up with both jobs since your mother did a majority of the work herself anyways, I was always just her assistant. As for her not knowing, I’m almost always out here after she’s asleep. I think she’s known for years that I’ve been doing something out here, but she knows I’m faithful and that I make it back to her in the mornings, so she doesn’t mind. It’ll be hard to explain you sneaking out of the house, but we’ll manage,” he said, giving her a wink.

“But anyway, back to the Citadel. Below us, the Ivy, we have the Roses. The Roses are the muscle of the Citadel. They’re the ones who deal with any people that break the law. Sadly for you, they get the shooty shooty bang bang.”

Dev giggled again. “I can live without the shooty shooty bang bang.”

He nodded in mock approval. “Below the Roses are the intelligence of the Citadel, the Lilies. Most Lilies live relatively normal lives, but keep a close eye on any supernatural creature around the area where they live. If one misbehaves, they’re who report it to the Citadel. They also get sent out to investigate monster nests on occasion.”

Dev yelped as a man that looked slightly younger than her father popped into existence at another mailbox about fifty feet away from her. Her dad smiled, waving to the man. He waved back, checked the mail, then popped out of existence again. “I’ll explain that later,” Triman simply responded.

“The lowest and final tier to the Citadel is the Violets. The Violets are so large, you probably have a few in your school as teachers. Any supernatural creature that is in good standing with the Citadel, or any human who simply has a knowledge of the Citadel, is a Violet. Some don’t even work for them, but most do simple jobs that can help provide for a safe and calm life without trying to hide who they are. Most Violets do not have a mailbox, but some with more important jobs will.”

Her father leaned back into the grass. “That’s the bare bones of how the Citadel works. Any question?”

Devain thought on that for a minute. “...No, not really. Nothing that I can pin down, at least,” she answered.

Triman sat up and looked down at his phone, which Dev hadn’t even realized he had. “She should be arriving soon…” he muttered.

Not even ten seconds later, a breeze ran through the trees as a figure appeared in front of Dev. She was startled, of course, falling back a bit. She blinked at the figure, trying to pick out what was strange before she realized she could see partially through her.

“Devain Leviathan, fifteen, daughter of Ivy Triman Leviathan, correct?” The apparition asked, her voice like a bell.

Her father put a hand on Dev’s shoulder. “You don’t need to be so formal, Terrow. Yes, this is Devain. Devain, this is Terrow, the Hyacinth that has overseen me the entirety of my job.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Devain,” she said politely. “Now, let's get started, shall we?”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Three, "The Noctem Blade"


Devain stood next to Terrow while waiting for her dad to get back. She had tried to make conversation with the spirit earlier, but failed. Terrow seemed to be just as uncomfortable as Dev was. After a few minutes of silence, Triman once again made his way through the path in the trees. This time, he carried a long, thin object covered in cloth.

Removing the cloth, he showed off the item he had retrieved. Blinking, Devain took a few seconds to process. In front of her was a beautiful sword.

It was still sheathed, but that in of itself was a work of art. It was covered in a mesh of blacks, blues, and purples, with tiny white stars dotting along at random intervals. She then realized that those random stars weren’t random at all, they spelled out the word, “Noctem” along the side. But she didn’t see it for long, because her father then unsheathed the actual blade.

It had a simple hilt, stark white with a small blue gem set in the pommel. The blade was a dark black, with a line of blue about 3/4ths along the blade through the fuller. The sword in its entirety was just a bit longer than her arm, making it just shy of three feet long.

“This,” her father started, “Is the Noctem Blade. While fighting is not the foremost job for Ivys, it does happen, and it is important. But the Noctem isn’t just a regular Citadel sword. It has full control over the magic that keeps this field hidden. It also has the power to move the field, but that’s only if the current Ivy needs to relocate due to an emergency. It’s a gorgeous sword, but…”

Dev tilted her head, confused. “But?”

“The sword itself is- picky,” he said. “If it doesn’t like who it’s being passed down to, it just- won't work. It can’t kill monsters correctly, it won’t control the field. It makes itself a piece of junk. Valuable, ancient junk. Sadly, it never took to me. That’s why we still live here, in the old house where your grandfather lived.”

“So- you’re telling me that-” Dev sighed. “That I could have to store away this beautiful, cool as hell sword in my shed for years-” she paused. “Because it doesn’t like my vibes?”

Terrow nodded. “That has been the Noctem Blade’s way of doing things for a very long time.”

Triman gingerly handed the blade over to Devain, who ran her fingers just as gently up the flat of the blade. “How do I know whether it likes me or not?”

“Well,” Terrow said, smiling. “We leave you here alone until sunrise!”

Dev laughed at the sarcasm, but then they both drifted back toward the path. “Wait, seriously??”

A few seconds later, they were gone. The path in the trees seemed to close up behind them, leaving her alone with a sword and some mailboxes.

“This-” she said to herself. “Is utterly ridiculous.” But, she stood up, sheathed the sword, and began to explore.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Four, "Ethereal Dreams"


Trying her best not to trip on any twigs as she trudged around in the dark, Devain made her way to the center of the field. It was a long walk- it was much bigger in the real version than what it looked like outside.

It normally looked to be about an acre wide and an acre long, she could tell that it was about ten times bigger than that. She guessed that they needed the room though since each mailbox had its own area of about a five-foot square. With how many there were, they needed a lot of room.

In the center of the field was a circle about fifty feet in diameter. At the very center of that was a small well. At least, she thought it was a well. Mirrors were angled above it, directing moonlight down onto the pool of water below. Because of that, she could see the crystal clear water that had almost a silvery tint.

Stepping back from the well and unsheathing the sword, she grasped the hilt of the sword with both hands and tried to swing it around. She quickly realized that was not how this was meant to be held though, and tried it with only one. It fit much better this way, and she finally got a grasp on how it felt.

It was definitely not light, but it wasn’t exactly heavy either. It had a weight to it that wouldn’t hinder slashes, but would instead add momentum and force to the blow.

She felt the blade sing as she twirled it around, trying her best with the minimal knowledge she had on how to use a sword. Despite her lack of background knowledge, it felt almost effortless.

She sat down and cradled the blade after sheathing it once more. The wind was warm, and the crickets were quiet. Slowly, her eyes began to drift closed.

~~~~~

“Who are you?”

Dev turned around in the dark to see a figure with massive wings stretched behind them. They were only a shadow- she couldn’t even make out and facial features.

“I’m Devain. Devain Leviathan,” she responded. “And you’re the Noctem Blade, aren’t you?”

“Perceptive,” they said, nodding. “I like that. You’re father though I was a devil coming to take him away.”

“That sounds like something most people would think when faced with this situation, you know.”

The figure seemed to ponder that, tilting its head to the side. “True enough,” they responded. “But I am not looking for most people.”

They reached an arm out and pulled Devain into what she thought was an embrace, but she fell right through them. She kept falling, waiting for herself to hit something, for her fall to slow-

~~~~~

Stars glinted in the moonlight as Dev sat up and rubbed her eyes. Reaching to move the sword off her lap, she paused.

“What the actual hell,” she swore to herself, turning her wrists over. On each hand, right on her wrists, was a tattoo of plants that cuffed her arm. Not just any plant, ivy.

When she touched the sword, it was no longer just a dead thing in her hands, it thrummed with an unnatural excitement. She honestly didn’t blame it- she would be too if she was left in a shed for thirty years.

When she examined the blade again, she had a new appreciation for all the little details on it. The pitch blade, the gem in the hilt- it was a piece of art.

“Well…” she said, smiling at the blade. “Thank you for not making me leave you to sit covered in dingy cloth for a while.”

She stood up and left the well behind, making her way towards the tree line again. When she finally reached it, she saw the path that she had come from was still completely sealed off. Or at least, it looked that way.

Hesitantly, she reached out her hand. She barely even had to move for the plants to move aside, revealing the path that she had gotten here from.

Once she had made it through, she saw Terrow and Triman sitting on chairs under the moonlight. “Dad!” she called.

Yelping, he immediately fell out of his chair. He shot back up as quickly as he could, turning to her excitedly. “Devain! You did it! You did, right?”

Terrow smiled and drifted over to her, writing down more information on her clipboard. She opened her mouth to say something but paused. Her forehead wrinkled in confusion. “Devain, may I see your hands?”

“Yeah sure, it’s weird, right? Is this just like- initiation?” she asked, holding out her arms so Terrow could inspect them.

She shook her head. “I haven’t seen this before. I can’t say that it’s never happened before- but I definitely haven’t seen it in my years working with the Citadel.”

“Triman, it’s high time I go. You both also need some rest. Devain, I wish you well.” She then clicked her pen and was gone.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Five, "You're the Tutorial, Aren't You?"


Devain woke up the next morning to sunshine beaming directly into her eye.

“What the- Ow!” she said aloud, sitting up and rubbing her face. Her mind was still foggy- she was waking up pretty late in the day if the sunlight was on her. She fought the urge to roll over and forget her obligations to eat and drink like a human and instead reached over to grab her phone and check the time.

Squinting at her phone’s bright screen, she read out the 11:17 AM time that floated over her wallpaper. That wasn’t too awfully late, but still egregious for compared to her normal 8:00 AM schedule.

Throwing on some semblance of an outfit, she stumbled into the kitchen. Her dad was sitting in a chair in the connected dining room, where he was watching TV and sipping tea. Noticing Dev, he offered her a steaming mug as well.

She sat down next to him and sipped on the tea. It was raspberry green tea- her favorite. She probably sat there wordlessly watching TV for a good couple of minutes before she spit out the tea she was sipping.

“Are we just gonna act like last night didn’t happen?” she asked, waving her now-tattooed arms around. Her father laughed loudly, gesturing for her to calm down.

“I was giving you time to wake up and adjust. It’s not really every night that you get the responsibility of taking care of an entire field and a magic sword.”

Dev was about to agree, but she closed her mouth. Then she opened it again to ask, “But you’ll be doing it with me, right?”

Triman sipped his tea and didn’t meet her eyes.

“R i g h t ?”

He laughed and set down his mug. “Well, you’ll be doing almost all of it. I’m just here to answer any questions. Grandpa always told me you learn more by doing!”

Dev groaned and slammed back her tea like it was a shot. “Okay, well- it’s a Sunday. I’m going to go to the field and get my bearings a bit more. Tell Mom that I’m over at the park if she gets home.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll cover for you. Just don’t be gone too long! And don’t worry if someone asks who you are, just tell them you’re my daughter and they’ll probably give some monster-hunting tips and move on.”

Still wrapping her head around the fact that people could appear next to her with no warning, she went back to her room to change and grab some supplies.

After digging around through her closet, she found a dark grey top that was made of sturdy material but was loose and cool enough for her to run around comfortably in. Next, she slipped on a pair of leggings made from a similar material. She couldn’t remember where she had gotten the clothes from, but they worked well enough for sword practice. She slipped on some tennis shoes and continued on.

Her next task was packing up a backpack. She decided to plan like she was going hiking, focusing on things like water, a couple of snacks, and a small multitool that she had been gifted to her by her grandmother before she passed.

With all this, she stepped back out into the kitchen. Her father was a bit startled. “I had forgotten I gave you those. Your grandmother was a Rose. Those were her field clothes.”

Dev threw her head back. “What, so everyone on your side of the family is all cool and stuff?”

He smiled and walked over, patting her on the shoulder. “Mostly. Your uncle isn’t directly in the business, and neither are his kids.”

Shrugging, Dev set off towards the back door. “No more history,” she commanded. “Just cool sword stuff.”

Once outside, she realized that she had no idea where her dad had stored the Noctem Blade. After Terrow left with her ominous message, he had taken the sword and sent her off to bed.

Luckily enough for both her and the sword, it didn’t take her long to find it when it popped into her hands.

“HOLY-” she yelled, almost flinging it away.

You will regret dropping me if you ever do,” a voice replied calmly. It wasn’t any voice, either.

“Oh lord. You’re the tutorial, aren’t you,” she said, staring pointedly down at the blade.

I am no such thing. I simply will not tolerate a completely idiotic wielder. In fact, I won’t be talking to you at all today after this.”

“Oh, I swear to god-” Dev threatened, but the bond between them that she didn’t even notice before loosened slightly, and the voice left her head.

Grumbling about her exchange with the Noctem Blade, she made her way through the trees and into the field. Now that it was bright outside, she could more fully appreciate the vast size of the field, as well as all the wildflowers that dotted the grass.

She didn’t know how her father managed to keep the length of the grass down, but it was barely tall enough to tickle her ankle if her leggings weren’t tucked into her shoes.

Weaving through the mailboxes, she made her way to the center of the field where she quickly noticed she wasn’t alone. Leaning over the well she had been sleeping by last night was a tall and slender figure who was filling what seemed to be an ornate flask with water from the well.

“Um, excuse me!” Dev said, trying to alert them to her presence. Turning around, the figure gave her a wide smile.

“Do you want some water as well? There is still some left in the bucket.” They spoke with a tone and lilt to their voice that was undeniably not human. Their short hair also helped this deduction, since it showed off the long and pointed ears they had.

“Oh, you’re a Fae!” she said excitedly. “Oh I- Sorry if that’s rude! I’m really new to all this.”

The Faery’s grin grew even wider as they took a long stride forward and clasped Devain’s hands. “You must be Devain!” they said happily. “I am Orlastumina! Most humans simply call me Orlas. Your father was always around while I got moon water from the well! He would talk about you on occasion. It is wonderful to see you!”

Smiling back at the Fae, Dev pulled her hands away and walked over the well. “What is the water in this well? You called it moon water?” she asked. The mirrors that had reflected the moonlight into the pool last night were now facing skyward.

They walked back next to Devain, lifting the flask that they had been filling. “Indeed, it is water that is powered by the moon! Many beliefs have a type or use of moon water. Fae culture is one of those. We use it for many things! It is very good for washing tainted blades.”

Devain made a spot in the grass and sat down, with Orlas following her lead. “A tainted blade is any blade stained with Rayiel blood! Many good swords lost with people who don’t clean them,” the faery continued. “The only sword that cannot be tainted is that sword on your hip! The Noctem Blade, the Night Blade. It was forged by the Fae for the Ivys back when the Citadel was first made! Very much history with that blade.”

“I’ve heard the word Rayiel a few times- what’s a Rayiel?” Dev asked.

Orlas smiled and clapped their hands together. “I forget, you are so new! Rayiels are the Citadel’s biggest issue, they have been fighting for years. They are big clawed humanoids that feed on children! Very bad food source.” they said solemnly.

“I agree. Bad food source.” Devain replied, nodding her head. She moved the Noctem Blade off her lap and unsheathed it. “Do you know anything more about what the blade can do? So far I’ve made it appear in my hands and create a path out of the field, but that’s about it.” she said, leaving out the “talked in her head” bit on purpose.

“Of course! It is told that the blade is imbued with the spirit of a Fae princeling who was exiled from the Land Under The Hill and that he is the one who chooses his wielder. Most people believe it is myth! I am not sure, but either way, it is a great sword. Take care of it well.”

Dev smiled and ran her finger along the flat of the blade. “I will. Thank you.”

“It is no problem little Ivy! I must be going though, vale!” they finished.

And with that, they were gone between one blink and the next.

“This is going to take some getting used to,” she said solemnly to herself before getting up to start training.


synthesystem -

Irrequito, Chapter Six, "Square Up"


“Anime protagonists watch out!” Devain yelled to the sky as she practiced swinging her sword around. It was balanced perfectly as if it was just an extension to her own arm. Despite this, it was hard for her to get a grasp on actually attacking with it. So, as anyone would do, she turned to the internet.

“How to build a sword… How to swing a sword- wait that’s a video game tutorial. How to act like an anime swordsman! Well, no, that’s not what I want.” she mumbled, filling the silent air.

Every once in a while, people would pop in and out of existence in front of mailboxes. All of them ignored her, but she enjoyed the inhuman features that some of them sported. The most common by far was the Fae- their tall and sleek figures were easy to spot.

There wasn’t just Fae either- for a while, she thought she was seeing Hyacinths, but after a while, she noticed that they were Sylphs that she was seeing- wind spirits. They also had a see-through quality to them, but you could tell them apart with the way their clothes billowed around them while no wind was present.

Sadly, whenever she got too distracted or sat down for too long, she felt the Noctem Blade hum in disapproval, making her groan and get back to practicing. Even with it’s judging tones, she felt that it was guiding her a bit. She had no prior experience with any blades but kitchen knives- and yet her arm was guided by the blade itself.

While she practiced, she could feel the blade nagging at her to check around the well. After trying to ignore it for a while, she eventually sighed and examined it.

She now knew it was for making moon water, but it definitely was for more than just that. And sure enough, after wiggling a stone, a spot on the ground that had been covered with dirt and grass creaked. After a few seconds, a hatch sprung up, spraying copious amounts of dirt into Dev’s face. “If this isn’t important-” she threatened the sword. “I will smash you into a rock.”

The hatch was a 3-foot by 3-foot hole, with a ladder that led down into a small room. Inside were training dummies, each about 6 feet in height. They were clearly used- and clearly not human-made. Each humanoid dummy was made with intertwining vines that seemed to mimic the way muscles would grow. She was slightly worried they’d come to life, but after hauling them out, they stayed inanimate.

They were the perfect things to practice on- each time the Noctem Blade sliced into one, the vines quickly grew back into place. If an arm or head was cut off, the vines grew out to grab it.

Getting bored, Devain cleanly sliced off an arm and ran off with it. She didn’t make it far before the vines retrieved it and reformed itself.

She had been outside for a few hours now, and her large water bottle was empty. Ready to take a break at the heat of the day, she packed up her things to head back home.

Grabbing the sheath for her sword, she went to put it up before hearing, “Stop.

She stared down at the blade, annoyed. “What?”

She didn’t get to question it any further before she blinked, and it was nighttime. But there were no stars- an empty, dangerous sky was all that was above her.

“Oh lord-” she started. “What is happening?” she asked, staring down pointedly at the Noctem Blade.

Get into stance. Face your back to the path you came from,” the sword commanded. Devain was annoyed but did as told. It was dark- darker then it had been last night. No one else was visiting.

It wasn’t too awful long before she saw a figure coming directly for her. It was small, but she kept her sword up, ready for a fight.

It wasn’t very long after that when she remembered that perception existed because it was not small. While she was in a field, even fields have slight hills. The figure stopped when it was on one such hill.

She tried her best to make out details from the figure, but it was too dark for her to see much except its height- it's massive seven-foot-tall height.

That,” said the Noctem Blade. “Is a Rayiel. You must fight it.

Dev’s hands shook. “You want me to fight that thing? *That?*” she whispered.

The blade simply thrummed in an impatient sort of yes.

“I guess I can’t argue with that." she grumbled. "Time to go fight my first monster.”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Seven, "Singing Blade"

Warning: from here on out, this story will include many aspects of YA novels that may be upsetting or tr/ggering to some people. Any extra things WILL be tagged, and if there is anything you'd like me to tag, ask and I will do so, but otherwise please read at your own risk.


Devain’s mind was racing faster than she thought would be possible. Her arms shook from adrenaline and fear. She felt a wave of calm come from the Noctem Blade.

“You may not have any prior experience fighting with swords,” it whispered. “But this is not hopeless,” it said.

She nodded, gripping the sword and taking a deep breath. When the Rayiel was about thirty feet from her, it stopped. Now that it was closer, she was able to make out more of its features. It's cloak was ragged, and it's shape was hunched and distorted. Despite this, it was extremely tall, almost two feet taller than she was.

“Are you-” the creature started. Devain yelped, startled by the fact that it spoke at all. It's voice was like a whisper, yet it was rough as sandpaper.

It continued, undaunted. “Are you the new? The new keeper?” it asked.

Dev kept her mouth shut. The Rayiel didn’t like that. In the blink of an eye, it was standing just a few feet from her. Even in the darkness, she could now make out it's distorted fingers on its slender hands. It held a dagger made of an unknown material, posing so that it could strike at any moment.

It growled at her, and struck. It's dagger barely missed her, but she spun her heels and avoided the blade. She quickly brought the Noctem Blade around, but the Rayiel was faster than she was. She stepped back, dodging the blade.

She jumped backward, attempting to distance herself, knowing that she had the advantage of a longer weapon. She was inexperienced though and only could move aside enough not to get stabbed when the Rayiel threw the blade. It missed its mark but still left a nasty cut on her side.

It didn’t take long for the Rayiel to pull out another dagger of the same make and rush her again. Now injured, she was at an even greater disadvantage, but she managed to pull through and dodge.

Dev took a deep breath and made a quick decision- she needed to go on the offensive.

Her blade sang through the air as she swung at the Rayiel, hard. This time, she managed to leave a cut on its side, almost a mirror of her own. It made an inhuman screech and jumped back, slowly circling her.

It slipped it's dagger back into its cloak before darting away, seemingly uninterested now that she had hurt it. She sat down on the edge of the well, panting and clutching her side, which was now soaked with blood.

“If that cut was any deeper,” the blade commented. “You’d be in trouble. You need to become a better swordswoman.”

“Yeah, yeah. I get that,” she muttered angrily.

She didn’t sheathe her sword until the darkness faded from the sky, and the birds started chirping again.


Irrequieto

synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter One, "Birthday Cupcakes"


Dev smiled as she felt a cat lie on her chest. “Lil,” she sighed and spat out some brown hair that had floated from her own head. “You know I need to get up, right?”

Her sweet black cat, oblivious to her plans, simply began to settle in. Again, Dev smiled and then proceeded to pick up Lil and set her back on the floor. She had fallen asleep on her favorite couch while waiting for her parents to get home, and her cat had great timing because she heard the door being unlocked now.

Jumping up and managing not to trip on the cat, she ran to greet her parents.

“Devain!” Her father yelled excitedly when he saw her, smothering her into a hug.

Dev sighed into his chest, but this was normal for him. No one else, not even her mother when she was stern, called her Devain. Only her dad did. She always guessed it was a form of revenge, seeing as his name, Triman, was equally as strange. The only one spared was her mother, Allison, who had the most normal name under the sun.

But this wasn’t the most important thought on Dev’s mind. As her mother gave her a kiss on the head, Dev turned to the table that could be seen behind her, completely set up with flatware and plates.

Her mother laughed. “Dev, it’s your birthday, what are you doing setting the table?” she asked.

Laughing as well, Dev sauntered over to pet Lil. “I was bored! I had nothing else to do before you got home, so I thought I’d just get it done, y’know?”

Her parents both nodded in agreement before getting settled in. Like they had said, it was Devain’s fifteenth birthday, an event that she had been waiting for since she turned fourteen. She loved her birthdays since she always got to have cake and not do chores. But aside from that, she also liked getting older. She knew one day she’d resent it, but not yet.

Allison laid out cupcakes she had gotten earlier and waved Dev over to the table along with her father. She stared down at the red cupcakes and green icing and winced. It looked like a Christmas party. But, her mother always insisted on green icing. “Like your eyes,” she would always say. Fifteen cupcakes, each of which would be eaten in the next day or two, one for each year of her life, sat on the table in a single row. A candle adorned the cupcake in the middle of the line of bakery treats.

Her father smirked as they all settled in. “Better make a wish before I take it!” he joked. He said that almost every year, and Dev knew it was her cue to make a wish. But as she blew, her head emptied. The wishes she had been planning to make floated out of her head unexpectedly.

She tried not to frown as her parents clapped. Grabbing the cupcake, she pulled out the candle and took a big bite, ignoring the strangeness of the occurrence. It happens, she supposed.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by her. A book from her mom, a succulent from her dad for her presents, Howl’s Moving Castle for the birthday movie, and chicken for dinner. It was pleasant and calm, exactly what she had hoped for.

Later that night, she sighed as she changed into pajamas and laid in bed. “Another successful birthday,” she said, to no one in particular.

Right as she started to drift off, her eyes closed, she shot up as a hand nudged her arm.

“What-” she yelled, frantic and unable to see in the dark room.

“Shhh!” she heard. Dev wasn’t about to shush just for that, but she quickly recognized the voice as her father’s.

“Dad?” she asked, annoyed. “It’s almost midnight, what do you want?”

He chuckled and pulled her out of bed. “Follow me.”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Two, "The Field of Mailboxes"


Devain grumbled as her dad led her out of bed. He stopped and flicked himself in the forehead. “Almost forgot!” he said to himself. “Devain, change into some sturdy clothes and shoes, and meet me by the back door.”

Dev opened her mouth to argue and ask questions, but he shushed her again and noiselessly slipped out the bedroom door. She grumbled, but did as asked, slipping on simple cargo shorts, tennis shoes, and a black t-shirt with Leviathan, her last name, printed on it.

Yawning, she walked out to meet Triman, who was standing in the backyard. The moon was bright tonight, so she could see easily without a flashlight.

Her father smiled when he saw her, then led her towards the line of trees that separated her house from the incredibly large field next to it. Frowning, Dev followed.

“Dad,” she started, “What did you get me up for? Where are we going?”

He chuckled. “You act like you haven’t been asking your mother and I to explore the tree line for years,” he simply responded.

“Yeah, and I’m glad I get to check it out, but why? It’s only fifteeen feet wide, and it’s the middle of the night.”

“Well, that’s because our destination is on the other side!” he gleefully responded, pushing aside a thick, low-hanging branch from a tree. Behind it, a narrow but well-worn path weaved through the bushes and underbrush to the other side of the line, the field.

Utterly confused but curious and trusting of her dad, Devain followed him through the foliage. The trees seemed to flow around her without a breeze, sending a shiver down her arms.

It didn’t take long for them to break through the trees on the other side. As she took a look around, she gasped. “Dad, what-” she asked, reaching out in front of her.

Her dad smiled and set his hand on the mailbox. One of many, so many that she thought she could spend hours counting and never find the answer. “I pass this field every day to and from school,” she said breathlessly. “These aren’t- these aren’t here.”

Triman slapped the lid of the mailbox, sending a metallic clang through the air. “That sound fake to you? I’ve got a lot of explaining to do, I know, but I gotta make sure you know something first, okay?”

Dev nodded, steeling herself for whatever her father explained next.

“Not a single thing I’m about to say to you is me pulling your leg, making a joke, or trying to prank you. And I need to know that unless someone fits the bill of what I explain next, you never let what happens here reach the ears of any of your peers at school, or family members. Even your mother.” he said, a serious tone lacing every word.
“I- Of course,” she said. “I promise.”

Her father sat down on a patch of soft grass and patted next to him. Devain understood and sat as well, settling in. Triman looked up at the mailbox and smiled. “This mailbox right here- this has been my mailbox for almost thirty years. It’s been mine since I turned fifteen when my father clued me into the family job. Been an Ivy ever since.”

“An Ivy?” she asked. “Family job? Grandpa?”

He shushed her again, laughing. “Devain, we’ll be here till sunrise if you keep cutting me off, sit back and listen.”She stuck out her tongue at him but didn’t keep going.

“Yep, Grandpa Levi, which stands for Leviure, taught me everything I’m about to teach you, aside from a few tidbits here or there. And I’m gonna say to you what every teenager probably longs to hear- The world you see every day? That isn’t the world I’ve been living in the past 30 years.”

Dev leaned back as a little giggle escaped her throat, which caused her father to laugh as well. “I know, right? I sound like I’ve gone senile early. It’s exactly how I felt when I first got this all told to me. But like I said, I’m not pulling your leg.”

“There are all sorts of creatures out there, most of which are just as complex as you and me. And those same creatures aren’t all bad either, as you’ll soon see. But just like we have criminals, those creatures can do wrong just as much. And so, a group exists-”

“Am I gonna get to shoot some monsters?!” she asked excitedly.

Her father burst out laughing. “Ha, no! Well, maybe a little, but that ain’t our priority, us Leviathans. But to understand what we do, you’re gonna have to know about the rest of the Citadel too.”

“The Citadel is the organization that’s been managing monsters as long as the monsters have been around, at least to my knowledge. And within that organization, there exists a hierarchy that’s kept the place running as long as it has. At the top of the chain, we have the Venus. They’re the leader, the president of us in a way. They’re elected once every five years in a mass election, one of which will be occurring this year. The Venus can be male, female, non-binary, or anything in-between. They don’t have to be human either, you see. Our current leader is a Sylph who I think will be re-elected this year as well.”

“After them, we have the Hyacinths. They’re the assistants to the Venus, and they’re all ghosts. Well, a ghost isn’t really the right term, they prefer to be called spirits. Anyways, the Ivy overseer will be here soon enough to judge you, actually. She’s a Hyacinth that works directly with the Venus.”

“Below Hyacinth, we have the job you will need to familiarize yourself with- Ivy. There can only ever be one Ivy, and it tends to be passed down from father to son through the generations. Actually, you’ll be the first woman to get the job in quite a while. Of course, there are some backups for who it can be given to, but that’s a general way.”

“Ivys have a very specific task. They look after this field here we’re sitting in, or more accurately, the mailboxes in it. These mailboxes are assigned to each member of the Citadel. They can have assignments, letters, coupons-”

“Coupons?”

“Yes, coupons. The Citadel is a big business. But basically, this field is the hub for any worker in the Citadel outside of the actual headquarters building. An Ivy’s job is to maintain this field. Keep out any monsters, clean the mailboxes, keep out any regular people, clean up trash-”

“So… we’re janitors. We’re the janitors.” Dev said solemnly.

Her father gave her a wide smile. “Well, in basic terms, yes, but even Ivys get jobs from time to time. Every once in a while, those “business trips” I went on weren’t for the real estate agency."

“How did you manage to keep up with both jobs? And how does Mom not know?” she asked.

“I managed to keep up with both jobs since your mother did a majority of the work herself anyways, I was always just her assistant. As for her not knowing, I’m almost always out here after she’s asleep. I think she’s known for years that I’ve been doing something out here, but she knows I’m faithful and that I make it back to her in the mornings, so she doesn’t mind. It’ll be hard to explain you sneaking out of the house, but we’ll manage,” he said, giving her a wink.

“But anyway, back to the Citadel. Below us, the Ivy, we have the Roses. The Roses are the muscle of the Citadel. They’re the ones who deal with any people that break the law. Sadly for you, they get the shooty shooty bang bang.”

Dev giggled again. “I can live without the shooty shooty bang bang.”

He nodded in mock approval. “Below the Roses are the intelligence of the Citadel, the Lilies. Most Lilies live relatively normal lives, but keep a close eye on any supernatural creature around the area where they live. If one misbehaves, they’re who report it to the Citadel. They also get sent out to investigate monster nests on occasion.”

Dev yelped as a man that looked slightly younger than her father popped into existence at another mailbox about fifty feet away from her. Her dad smiled, waving to the man. He waved back, checked the mail, then popped out of existence again. “I’ll explain that later,” Triman simply responded.

“The lowest and final tier to the Citadel is the Violets. The Violets are so large, you probably have a few in your school as teachers. Any supernatural creature that is in good standing with the Citadel, or any human who simply has a knowledge of the Citadel, is a Violet. Some don’t even work for them, but most do simple jobs that can help provide for a safe and calm life without trying to hide who they are. Most Violets do not have a mailbox, but some with more important jobs will.”

Her father leaned back into the grass. “That’s the bare bones of how the Citadel works. Any question?”

Devain thought on that for a minute. “...No, not really. Nothing that I can pin down, at least,” she answered.

Triman sat up and looked down at his phone, which Dev hadn’t even realized he had. “She should be arriving soon…” he muttered.

Not even ten seconds later, a breeze ran through the trees as a figure appeared in front of Dev. She was startled, of course, falling back a bit. She blinked at the figure, trying to pick out what was strange before she realized she could see partially through her.

“Devain Leviathan, fifteen, daughter of Ivy Triman Leviathan, correct?” The apparition asked, her voice like a bell.

Her father put a hand on Dev’s shoulder. “You don’t need to be so formal, Terrow. Yes, this is Devain. Devain, this is Terrow, the Hyacinth that has overseen me the entirety of my job.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Devain,” she said politely. “Now, let's get started, shall we?”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Three, "The Noctem Blade"


Devain stood next to Terrow while waiting for her dad to get back. She had tried to make conversation with the spirit earlier, but failed. Terrow seemed to be just as uncomfortable as Dev was. After a few minutes of silence, Triman once again made his way through the path in the trees. This time, he carried a long, thin object covered in cloth.

Removing the cloth, he showed off the item he had retrieved. Blinking, Devain took a few seconds to process. In front of her was a beautiful sword.

It was still sheathed, but that in of itself was a work of art. It was covered in a mesh of blacks, blues, and purples, with tiny white stars dotting along at random intervals. She then realized that those random stars weren’t random at all, they spelled out the word, “Noctem” along the side. But she didn’t see it for long, because her father then unsheathed the actual blade.

It had a simple hilt, stark white with a small blue gem set in the pommel. The blade was a dark black, with a line of blue about 3/4ths along the blade through the fuller. The sword in its entirety was just a bit longer than her arm, making it just shy of three feet long.

“This,” her father started, “Is the Noctem Blade. While fighting is not the foremost job for Ivys, it does happen, and it is important. But the Noctem isn’t just a regular Citadel sword. It has full control over the magic that keeps this field hidden. It also has the power to move the field, but that’s only if the current Ivy needs to relocate due to an emergency. It’s a gorgeous sword, but…”

Dev tilted her head, confused. “But?”

“The sword itself is- picky,” he said. “If it doesn’t like who it’s being passed down to, it just- won't work. It can’t kill monsters correctly, it won’t control the field. It makes itself a piece of junk. Valuable, ancient junk. Sadly, it never took to me. That’s why we still live here, in the old house where your grandfather lived.”

“So- you’re telling me that-” Dev sighed. “That I could have to store away this beautiful, cool as hell sword in my shed for years-” she paused. “Because it doesn’t like my vibes?”

Terrow nodded. “That has been the Noctem Blade’s way of doing things for a very long time.”

Triman gingerly handed the blade over to Devain, who ran her fingers just as gently up the flat of the blade. “How do I know whether it likes me or not?”

“Well,” Terrow said, smiling. “We leave you here alone until sunrise!”

Dev laughed at the sarcasm, but then they both drifted back toward the path. “Wait, seriously??”

A few seconds later, they were gone. The path in the trees seemed to close up behind them, leaving her alone with a sword and some mailboxes.

“This-” she said to herself. “Is utterly ridiculous.” But, she stood up, sheathed the sword, and began to explore.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Four, "Ethereal Dreams"


Trying her best not to trip on any twigs as she trudged around in the dark, Devain made her way to the center of the field. It was a long walk- it was much bigger in the real version than what it looked like outside.

It normally looked to be about an acre wide and an acre long, she could tell that it was about ten times bigger than that. She guessed that they needed the room though since each mailbox had its own area of about a five-foot square. With how many there were, they needed a lot of room.

In the center of the field was a circle about fifty feet in diameter. At the very center of that was a small well. At least, she thought it was a well. Mirrors were angled above it, directing moonlight down onto the pool of water below. Because of that, she could see the crystal clear water that had almost a silvery tint.

Stepping back from the well and unsheathing the sword, she grasped the hilt of the sword with both hands and tried to swing it around. She quickly realized that was not how this was meant to be held though, and tried it with only one. It fit much better this way, and she finally got a grasp on how it felt.

It was definitely not light, but it wasn’t exactly heavy either. It had a weight to it that wouldn’t hinder slashes, but would instead add momentum and force to the blow.

She felt the blade sing as she twirled it around, trying her best with the minimal knowledge she had on how to use a sword. Despite her lack of background knowledge, it felt almost effortless.

She sat down and cradled the blade after sheathing it once more. The wind was warm, and the crickets were quiet. Slowly, her eyes began to drift closed.

~~~~~

“Who are you?”

Dev turned around in the dark to see a figure with massive wings stretched behind them. They were only a shadow- she couldn’t even make out and facial features.

“I’m Devain. Devain Leviathan,” she responded. “And you’re the Noctem Blade, aren’t you?”

“Perceptive,” they said, nodding. “I like that. You’re father though I was a devil coming to take him away.”

“That sounds like something most people would think when faced with this situation, you know.”

The figure seemed to ponder that, tilting its head to the side. “True enough,” they responded. “But I am not looking for most people.”

They reached an arm out and pulled Devain into what she thought was an embrace, but she fell right through them. She kept falling, waiting for herself to hit something, for her fall to slow-

~~~~~

Stars glinted in the moonlight as Dev sat up and rubbed her eyes. Reaching to move the sword off her lap, she paused.

“What the actual hell,” she swore to herself, turning her wrists over. On each hand, right on her wrists, was a tattoo of plants that cuffed her arm. Not just any plant, ivy.

When she touched the sword, it was no longer just a dead thing in her hands, it thrummed with an unnatural excitement. She honestly didn’t blame it- she would be too if she was left in a shed for thirty years.

When she examined the blade again, she had a new appreciation for all the little details on it. The pitch blade, the gem in the hilt- it was a piece of art.

“Well…” she said, smiling at the blade. “Thank you for not making me leave you to sit covered in dingy cloth for a while.”

She stood up and left the well behind, making her way towards the tree line again. When she finally reached it, she saw the path that she had come from was still completely sealed off. Or at least, it looked that way.

Hesitantly, she reached out her hand. She barely even had to move for the plants to move aside, revealing the path that she had gotten here from.

Once she had made it through, she saw Terrow and Triman sitting on chairs under the moonlight. “Dad!” she called.

Yelping, he immediately fell out of his chair. He shot back up as quickly as he could, turning to her excitedly. “Devain! You did it! You did, right?”

Terrow smiled and drifted over to her, writing down more information on her clipboard. She opened her mouth to say something but paused. Her forehead wrinkled in confusion. “Devain, may I see your hands?”

“Yeah sure, it’s weird, right? Is this just like- initiation?” she asked, holding out her arms so Terrow could inspect them.

She shook her head. “I haven’t seen this before. I can’t say that it’s never happened before- but I definitely haven’t seen it in my years working with the Citadel.”

“Triman, it’s high time I go. You both also need some rest. Devain, I wish you well.” She then clicked her pen and was gone.


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Five, "You're the Tutorial, Aren't You?"


Devain woke up the next morning to sunshine beaming directly into her eye.

“What the- Ow!” she said aloud, sitting up and rubbing her face. Her mind was still foggy- she was waking up pretty late in the day if the sunlight was on her. She fought the urge to roll over and forget her obligations to eat and drink like a human and instead reached over to grab her phone and check the time.

Squinting at her phone’s bright screen, she read out the 11:17 AM time that floated over her wallpaper. That wasn’t too awfully late, but still egregious for compared to her normal 8:00 AM schedule.

Throwing on some semblance of an outfit, she stumbled into the kitchen. Her dad was sitting in a chair in the connected dining room, where he was watching TV and sipping tea. Noticing Dev, he offered her a steaming mug as well.

She sat down next to him and sipped on the tea. It was raspberry green tea- her favorite. She probably sat there wordlessly watching TV for a good couple of minutes before she spit out the tea she was sipping.

“Are we just gonna act like last night didn’t happen?” she asked, waving her now-tattooed arms around. Her father laughed loudly, gesturing for her to calm down.

“I was giving you time to wake up and adjust. It’s not really every night that you get the responsibility of taking care of an entire field and a magic sword.”

Dev was about to agree, but she closed her mouth. Then she opened it again to ask, “But you’ll be doing it with me, right?”

Triman sipped his tea and didn’t meet her eyes.

“R i g h t ?”

He laughed and set down his mug. “Well, you’ll be doing almost all of it. I’m just here to answer any questions. Grandpa always told me you learn more by doing!”

Dev groaned and slammed back her tea like it was a shot. “Okay, well- it’s a Sunday. I’m going to go to the field and get my bearings a bit more. Tell Mom that I’m over at the park if she gets home.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll cover for you. Just don’t be gone too long! And don’t worry if someone asks who you are, just tell them you’re my daughter and they’ll probably give some monster-hunting tips and move on.”

Still wrapping her head around the fact that people could appear next to her with no warning, she went back to her room to change and grab some supplies.

After digging around through her closet, she found a dark grey top that was made of sturdy material but was loose and cool enough for her to run around comfortably in. Next, she slipped on a pair of leggings made from a similar material. She couldn’t remember where she had gotten the clothes from, but they worked well enough for sword practice. She slipped on some tennis shoes and continued on.

Her next task was packing up a backpack. She decided to plan like she was going hiking, focusing on things like water, a couple of snacks, and a small multitool that she had been gifted to her by her grandmother before she passed.

With all this, she stepped back out into the kitchen. Her father was a bit startled. “I had forgotten I gave you those. Your grandmother was a Rose. Those were her field clothes.”

Dev threw her head back. “What, so everyone on your side of the family is all cool and stuff?”

He smiled and walked over, patting her on the shoulder. “Mostly. Your uncle isn’t directly in the business, and neither are his kids.”

Shrugging, Dev set off towards the back door. “No more history,” she commanded. “Just cool sword stuff.”

Once outside, she realized that she had no idea where her dad had stored the Noctem Blade. After Terrow left with her ominous message, he had taken the sword and sent her off to bed.

Luckily enough for both her and the sword, it didn’t take her long to find it when it popped into her hands.

“HOLY-” she yelled, almost flinging it away.

You will regret dropping me if you ever do,” a voice replied calmly. It wasn’t any voice, either.

“Oh lord. You’re the tutorial, aren’t you,” she said, staring pointedly down at the blade.

I am no such thing. I simply will not tolerate a completely idiotic wielder. In fact, I won’t be talking to you at all today after this.”

“Oh, I swear to god-” Dev threatened, but the bond between them that she didn’t even notice before loosened slightly, and the voice left her head.

Grumbling about her exchange with the Noctem Blade, she made her way through the trees and into the field. Now that it was bright outside, she could more fully appreciate the vast size of the field, as well as all the wildflowers that dotted the grass.

She didn’t know how her father managed to keep the length of the grass down, but it was barely tall enough to tickle her ankle if her leggings weren’t tucked into her shoes.

Weaving through the mailboxes, she made her way to the center of the field where she quickly noticed she wasn’t alone. Leaning over the well she had been sleeping by last night was a tall and slender figure who was filling what seemed to be an ornate flask with water from the well.

“Um, excuse me!” Dev said, trying to alert them to her presence. Turning around, the figure gave her a wide smile.

“Do you want some water as well? There is still some left in the bucket.” They spoke with a tone and lilt to their voice that was undeniably not human. Their short hair also helped this deduction, since it showed off the long and pointed ears they had.

“Oh, you’re a Fae!” she said excitedly. “Oh I- Sorry if that’s rude! I’m really new to all this.”

The Faery’s grin grew even wider as they took a long stride forward and clasped Devain’s hands. “You must be Devain!” they said happily. “I am Orlastumina! Most humans simply call me Orlas. Your father was always around while I got moon water from the well! He would talk about you on occasion. It is wonderful to see you!”

Smiling back at the Fae, Dev pulled her hands away and walked over the well. “What is the water in this well? You called it moon water?” she asked. The mirrors that had reflected the moonlight into the pool last night were now facing skyward.

They walked back next to Devain, lifting the flask that they had been filling. “Indeed, it is water that is powered by the moon! Many beliefs have a type or use of moon water. Fae culture is one of those. We use it for many things! It is very good for washing tainted blades.”

Devain made a spot in the grass and sat down, with Orlas following her lead. “A tainted blade is any blade stained with Rayiel blood! Many good swords lost with people who don’t clean them,” the faery continued. “The only sword that cannot be tainted is that sword on your hip! The Noctem Blade, the Night Blade. It was forged by the Fae for the Ivys back when the Citadel was first made! Very much history with that blade.”

“I’ve heard the word Rayiel a few times- what’s a Rayiel?” Dev asked.

Orlas smiled and clapped their hands together. “I forget, you are so new! Rayiels are the Citadel’s biggest issue, they have been fighting for years. They are big clawed humanoids that feed on children! Very bad food source.” they said solemnly.

“I agree. Bad food source.” Devain replied, nodding her head. She moved the Noctem Blade off her lap and unsheathed it. “Do you know anything more about what the blade can do? So far I’ve made it appear in my hands and create a path out of the field, but that’s about it.” she said, leaving out the “talked in her head” bit on purpose.

“Of course! It is told that the blade is imbued with the spirit of a Fae princeling who was exiled from the Land Under The Hill and that he is the one who chooses his wielder. Most people believe it is myth! I am not sure, but either way, it is a great sword. Take care of it well.”

Dev smiled and ran her finger along the flat of the blade. “I will. Thank you.”

“It is no problem little Ivy! I must be going though, vale!” they finished.

And with that, they were gone between one blink and the next.

“This is going to take some getting used to,” she said solemnly to herself before getting up to start training.


synthesystem -

Irrequito, Chapter Six, "Square Up"


“Anime protagonists watch out!” Devain yelled to the sky as she practiced swinging her sword around. It was balanced perfectly as if it was just an extension to her own arm. Despite this, it was hard for her to get a grasp on actually attacking with it. So, as anyone would do, she turned to the internet.

“How to build a sword… How to swing a sword- wait that’s a video game tutorial. How to act like an anime swordsman! Well, no, that’s not what I want.” she mumbled, filling the silent air.

Every once in a while, people would pop in and out of existence in front of mailboxes. All of them ignored her, but she enjoyed the inhuman features that some of them sported. The most common by far was the Fae- their tall and sleek figures were easy to spot.

There wasn’t just Fae either- for a while, she thought she was seeing Hyacinths, but after a while, she noticed that they were Sylphs that she was seeing- wind spirits. They also had a see-through quality to them, but you could tell them apart with the way their clothes billowed around them while no wind was present.

Sadly, whenever she got too distracted or sat down for too long, she felt the Noctem Blade hum in disapproval, making her groan and get back to practicing. Even with it’s judging tones, she felt that it was guiding her a bit. She had no prior experience with any blades but kitchen knives- and yet her arm was guided by the blade itself.

While she practiced, she could feel the blade nagging at her to check around the well. After trying to ignore it for a while, she eventually sighed and examined it.

She now knew it was for making moon water, but it definitely was for more than just that. And sure enough, after wiggling a stone, a spot on the ground that had been covered with dirt and grass creaked. After a few seconds, a hatch sprung up, spraying copious amounts of dirt into Dev’s face. “If this isn’t important-” she threatened the sword. “I will smash you into a rock.”

The hatch was a 3-foot by 3-foot hole, with a ladder that led down into a small room. Inside were training dummies, each about 6 feet in height. They were clearly used- and clearly not human-made. Each humanoid dummy was made with intertwining vines that seemed to mimic the way muscles would grow. She was slightly worried they’d come to life, but after hauling them out, they stayed inanimate.

They were the perfect things to practice on- each time the Noctem Blade sliced into one, the vines quickly grew back into place. If an arm or head was cut off, the vines grew out to grab it.

Getting bored, Devain cleanly sliced off an arm and ran off with it. She didn’t make it far before the vines retrieved it and reformed itself.

She had been outside for a few hours now, and her large water bottle was empty. Ready to take a break at the heat of the day, she packed up her things to head back home.

Grabbing the sheath for her sword, she went to put it up before hearing, “Stop.

She stared down at the blade, annoyed. “What?”

She didn’t get to question it any further before she blinked, and it was nighttime. But there were no stars- an empty, dangerous sky was all that was above her.

“Oh lord-” she started. “What is happening?” she asked, staring down pointedly at the Noctem Blade.

Get into stance. Face your back to the path you came from,” the sword commanded. Devain was annoyed but did as told. It was dark- darker then it had been last night. No one else was visiting.

It wasn’t too awful long before she saw a figure coming directly for her. It was small, but she kept her sword up, ready for a fight.

It wasn’t very long after that when she remembered that perception existed because it was not small. While she was in a field, even fields have slight hills. The figure stopped when it was on one such hill.

She tried her best to make out details from the figure, but it was too dark for her to see much except its height- it's massive seven-foot-tall height.

That,” said the Noctem Blade. “Is a Rayiel. You must fight it.

Dev’s hands shook. “You want me to fight that thing? *That?*” she whispered.

The blade simply thrummed in an impatient sort of yes.

“I guess I can’t argue with that." she grumbled. "Time to go fight my first monster.”


Irrequieto

synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter One, "Birthday Cupcakes"


Dev smiled as she felt a cat lie on her chest. “Lil,” she sighed and spat out some brown hair that had floated from her own head. “You know I need to get up, right?”

Her sweet black cat, oblivious to her plans, simply began to settle in. Again, Dev smiled and then proceeded to pick up Lil and set her back on the floor. She had fallen asleep on her favorite couch while waiting for her parents to get home, and her cat had great timing because she heard the door being unlocked now.

Jumping up and managing not to trip on the cat, she ran to greet her parents.

“Devain!” Her father yelled excitedly when he saw her, smothering her into a hug.

Dev sighed into his chest, but this was normal for him. No one else, not even her mother when she was stern, called her Devain. Only her dad did. She always guessed it was a form of revenge, seeing as his name, Triman, was equally as strange. The only one spared was her mother, Allison, who had the most normal name under the sun.

But this wasn’t the most important thought on Dev’s mind. As her mother gave her a kiss on the head, Dev turned to the table that could be seen behind her, completely set up with flatware and plates.

Her mother laughed. “Dev, it’s your birthday, what are you doing setting the table?” she asked.

Laughing as well, Dev sauntered over to pet Lil. “I was bored! I had nothing else to do before you got home, so I thought I’d just get it done, y’know?”

Her parents both nodded in agreement before getting settled in. Like they had said, it was Devain’s fifteenth birthday, an event that she had been waiting for since she turned fourteen. She loved her birthdays since she always got to have cake and not do chores. But aside from that, she also liked getting older. She knew one day she’d resent it, but not yet.

Allison laid out cupcakes she had gotten earlier and waved Dev over to the table along with her father. She stared down at the red cupcakes and green icing and winced. It looked like a Christmas party. But, her mother always insisted on green icing. “Like your eyes,” she would always say. Fifteen cupcakes, each of which would be eaten in the next day or two, one for each year of her life, sat on the table in a single row. A candle adorned the cupcake in the middle of the line of bakery treats.

Her father smirked as they all settled in. “Better make a wish before I take it!” he joked. He said that almost every year, and Dev knew it was her cue to make a wish. But as she blew, her head emptied. The wishes she had been planning to make floated out of her head unexpectedly.

She tried not to frown as her parents clapped. Grabbing the cupcake, she pulled out the candle and took a big bite, ignoring the strangeness of the occurrence. It happens, she supposed.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by her. A book from her mom, a succulent from her dad for her presents, Howl’s Moving Castle for the birthday movie, and chicken for dinner. It was pleasant and calm, exactly what she had hoped for.

Later that night, she sighed as she changed into pajamas and laid in bed. “Another successful birthday,” she said, to no one in particular.

Right as she started to drift off, her eyes closed, she shot up as a hand nudged her arm.

“What-” she yelled, frantic and unable to see in the dark room.

“Shhh!” she heard. Dev wasn’t about to shush just for that, but she quickly recognized the voice as her father’s.

“Dad?” she asked, annoyed. “It’s almost midnight, what do you want?”

He chuckled and pulled her out of bed. “Follow me.”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Two, "The Field of Mailboxes"


Devain grumbled as her dad led her out of bed. He stopped and flicked himself in the forehead. “Almost forgot!” he said to himself. “Devain, change into some sturdy clothes and shoes, and meet me by the back door.”

Dev opened her mouth to argue and ask questions, but he shushed her again and noiselessly slipped out the bedroom door. She grumbled, but did as asked, slipping on simple cargo shorts, tennis shoes, and a black t-shirt with Leviathan, her last name, printed on it.

Yawning, she walked out to meet Triman, who was standing in the backyard. The moon was bright tonight, so she could see easily without a flashlight.

Her father smiled when he saw her, then led her towards the line of trees that separated her house from the incredibly large field next to it. Frowning, Dev followed.

“Dad,” she started, “What did you get me up for? Where are we going?”

He chuckled. “You act like you haven’t been asking your mother and I to explore the tree line for years,” he simply responded.

“Yeah, and I’m glad I get to check it out, but why? It’s only fifteeen feet wide, and it’s the middle of the night.”

“Well, that’s because our destination is on the other side!” he gleefully responded, pushing aside a thick, low-hanging branch from a tree. Behind it, a narrow but well-worn path weaved through the bushes and underbrush to the other side of the line, the field.

Utterly confused but curious and trusting of her dad, Devain followed him through the foliage. The trees seemed to flow around her without a breeze, sending a shiver down her arms.

It didn’t take long for them to break through the trees on the other side. As she took a look around, she gasped. “Dad, what-” she asked, reaching out in front of her.

Her dad smiled and set his hand on the mailbox. One of many, so many that she thought she could spend hours counting and never find the answer. “I pass this field every day to and from school,” she said breathlessly. “These aren’t- these aren’t here.”

Triman slapped the lid of the mailbox, sending a metallic clang through the air. “That sound fake to you? I’ve got a lot of explaining to do, I know, but I gotta make sure you know something first, okay?”

Dev nodded, steeling herself for whatever her father explained next.

“Not a single thing I’m about to say to you is me pulling your leg, making a joke, or trying to prank you. And I need to know that unless someone fits the bill of what I explain next, you never let what happens here reach the ears of any of your peers at school, or family members. Even your mother.” he said, a serious tone lacing every word.
“I- Of course,” she said. “I promise.”

Her father sat down on a patch of soft grass and patted next to him. Devain understood and sat as well, settling in. Triman looked up at the mailbox and smiled. “This mailbox right here- this has been my mailbox for almost thirty years. It’s been mine since I turned fifteen when my father clued me into the family job. Been an Ivy ever since.”

“An Ivy?” she asked. “Family job? Grandpa?”

He shushed her again, laughing. “Devain, we’ll be here till sunrise if you keep cutting me off, sit back and listen.”She stuck out her tongue at him but didn’t keep going.

“Yep, Grandpa Levi, which stands for Leviure, taught me everything I’m about to teach you, aside from a few tidbits here or there. And I’m gonna say to you what every teenager probably longs to hear- The world you see every day? That isn’t the world I’ve been living in the past 30 years.”

Dev leaned back as a little giggle escaped her throat, which caused her father to laugh as well. “I know, right? I sound like I’ve gone senile early. It’s exactly how I felt when I first got this all told to me. But like I said, I’m not pulling your leg.”

“There are all sorts of creatures out there, most of which are just as complex as you and me. And those same creatures aren’t all bad either, as you’ll soon see. But just like we have criminals, those creatures can do wrong just as much. And so, a group exists-”

“Am I gonna get to shoot some monsters?!” she asked excitedly.

Her father burst out laughing. “Ha, no! Well, maybe a little, but that ain’t our priority, us Leviathans. But to understand what we do, you’re gonna have to know about the rest of the Citadel too.”

“The Citadel is the organization that’s been managing monsters as long as the monsters have been around, at least to my knowledge. And within that organization, there exists a hierarchy that’s kept the place running as long as it has. At the top of the chain, we have the Venus. They’re the leader, the president of us in a way. They’re elected once every five years in a mass election, one of which will be occurring this year. The Venus can be male, female, non-binary, or anything in-between. They don’t have to be human either, you see. Our current leader is a Sylph who I think will be re-elected this year as well.”

“After them, we have the Hyacinths. They’re the assistants to the Venus, and they’re all ghosts. Well, a ghost isn’t really the right term, they prefer to be called spirits. Anyways, the Ivy overseer will be here soon enough to judge you, actually. She’s a Hyacinth that works directly with the Venus.”

“Below Hyacinth, we have the job you will need to familiarize yourself with- Ivy. There can only ever be one Ivy, and it tends to be passed down from father to son through the generations. Actually, you’ll be the first woman to get the job in quite a while. Of course, there are some backups for who it can be given to, but that’s a general way.”

“Ivys have a very specific task. They look after this field here we’re sitting in, or more accurately, the mailboxes in it. These mailboxes are assigned to each member of the Citadel. They can have assignments, letters, coupons-”

“Coupons?”

“Yes, coupons. The Citadel is a big business. But basically, this field is the hub for any worker in the Citadel outside of the actual headquarters building. An Ivy’s job is to maintain this field. Keep out any monsters, clean the mailboxes, keep out any regular people, clean up trash-”

“So… we’re janitors. We’re the janitors.” Dev said solemnly.

Her father gave her a wide smile. “Well, in basic terms, yes, but even Ivys get jobs from time to time. Every once in a while, those “business trips” I went on weren’t for the real estate agency."

“How did you manage to keep up with both jobs? And how does Mom not know?” she asked.

“I managed to keep up with both jobs since your mother did a majority of the work herself anyways, I was always just her assistant. As for her not knowing, I’m almost always out here after she’s asleep. I think she’s known for years that I’ve been doing something out here, but she knows I’m faithful and that I make it back to her in the mornings, so she doesn’t mind. It’ll be hard to explain you sneaking out of the house, but we’ll manage,” he said, giving her a wink.

“But anyway, back to the Citadel. Below us, the Ivy, we have the Roses. The Roses are the muscle of the Citadel. They’re the ones who deal with any people that break the law. Sadly for you, they get the shooty shooty bang bang.”

Dev giggled again. “I can live without the shooty shooty bang bang.”

He nodded in mock approval. “Below the Roses are the intelligence of the Citadel, the Lilies. Most Lilies live relatively normal lives, but keep a close eye on any supernatural creature around the area where they live. If one misbehaves, they’re who report it to the Citadel. They also get sent out to investigate monster nests on occasion.”

Dev yelped as a man that looked slightly younger than her father popped into existence at another mailbox about fifty feet away from her. Her dad smiled, waving to the man. He waved back, checked the mail, then popped out of existence again. “I’ll explain that later,” Triman simply responded.

“The lowest and final tier to the Citadel is the Violets. The Violets are so large, you probably have a few in your school as teachers. Any supernatural creature that is in good standing with the Citadel, or any human who simply has a knowledge of the Citadel, is a Violet. Some don’t even work for them, but most do simple jobs that can help provide for a safe and calm life without trying to hide who they are. Most Violets do not have a mailbox, but some with more important jobs will.”

Her father leaned back into the grass. “That’s the bare bones of how the Citadel works. Any question?”

Devain thought on that for a minute. “...No, not really. Nothing that I can pin down, at least,” she answered.

Triman sat up and looked down at his phone, which Dev hadn’t even realized he had. “She should be arriving soon…” he muttered.

Not even ten seconds later, a breeze ran through the trees as a figure appeared in front of Dev. She was startled, of course, falling back a bit. She blinked at the figure, trying to pick out what was strange before she realized she could see partially through her.

“Devain Leviathan, fifteen, daughter of Ivy Triman Leviathan, correct?” The apparition asked, her voice like a bell.

Her father put a hand on Dev’s shoulder. “You don’t need to be so formal, Terrow. Yes, this is Devain. Devain, this is Terrow, the Hyacinth that has overseen me the entirety of my job.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you Devain,” she said politely. “Now, let's get started, shall we?”


synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter Three, "The Noctem Blade"


Devain stood next to Terrow while waiting for her dad to get back. She had tried to make conversation with the spirit earlier, but failed. Terrow seemed to be just as uncomfortable as Dev was. After a few minutes of silence, Triman once again made his way through the path in the trees. This time, he carried a long, thin object covered in cloth.

Removing the cloth, he showed off the item he had retrieved. Blinking, Devain took a few seconds to process. In front of her was a beautiful sword.

It was still sheathed, but that in of itself was a work of art. It was covered in a mesh of blacks, blues, and purples, with tiny white stars dotting along at random intervals. She then realized that those random stars weren’t random at all, they spelled out the word, “Noctem” along the side. But she didn’t see it for long, because her father then unsheathed the actual blade.

It had a simple hilt, stark white with a small blue gem set in the pommel. The blade was a dark black, with a line of blue about 3/4ths along the blade through the fuller. The sword in its entirety was just a bit longer than her arm, making it just shy of three feet long.

“This,” her father started, “Is the Noctem Blade. While fighting is not the foremost job for Ivys, it does happen, and it is important. But the Noctem isn’t just a regular Citadel sword. It has full control over the magic that keeps this field hidden. It also has the power to move the field, but that’s only if the current Ivy needs to relocate due to an emergency. It’s a gorgeous sword, but…”

Dev tilted her head, confused. “But?”

“The sword itself is- picky,” he said. “If it doesn’t like who it’s being passed down to, it just- won't work. It can’t kill monsters correctly, it won’t control the field. It makes itself a piece of junk. Valuable, ancient junk. Sadly, it never took to me. That’s why we still live here, in the old house where your grandfather lived.”

“So- you’re telling me that-” Dev sighed. “That I could have to store away this beautiful, cool as hell sword in my shed for years-” she paused. “Because it doesn’t like my vibes?”

Terrow nodded. “That has been the Noctem Blade’s way of doing things for a very long time.”

Triman gingerly handed the blade over to Devain, who ran her fingers just as gently up the flat of the blade. “How do I know whether it likes me or not?”

“Well,” Terrow said, smiling. “We leave you here alone until sunrise!”

Dev laughed at the sarcasm, but then they both drifted back toward the path. “Wait, seriously??”

A few seconds later, they were gone. The path in the trees seemed to close up behind them, leaving her alone with a sword and some mailboxes.

“This-” she said to herself. “Is utterly ridiculous.” But, she stood up, sheathed the sword, and began to explore.


Fathers Bury Sons - 1

sjflemingwriting -

Written by Serena J. Fleming, 2019

Science fiction, serial story

Chapters up early for Patreons Content warnings: Violence, gore, body horror

--

The first breath I ever took was fire filling my lungs. The first time I exhaled, thick, clear, slime dribbled out from my mouth. I retched and coughed, trying to get a hold on where I was, on who I was. Each breath hurt, but a little less than the last. My first step was on to cold, hard, ground. Like ice.

I opened my eyes. The first thing I saw were men and women in white coats, sleek and clean and paying attention to everything in the room but me. It was a blue-clothed woman who was the first to touch me, grabbing my hand and wiping away some of the ooze that coated my body.

“Hey, my name is Maria, Nurse Maria. Can you take a step for me? Good, good.”

I understood what she was saying. I didn’t understand how I did.

Oh, the light hurt. It hurt so much. Nurse Maria, the lovely lady, lead me from the light to some other, darker room. The light here was red, dull red, and it didn’t hurt nearly so much.

“Who am I?” I asked. My voice cracked and strained.

“You’re TFL-eight-nine, six, two-four, nine-five, five-nine-oh-one. Nine-oh-One, how’s that sound, at least for now?”

A designation. That’s what I was.

“Nine-oh-one?”

“Yep! Or, if you’re gonna be with your squad, niner-oh-one. Don’t know why, I’m just here to help you get started. Now, could you please jump for me?”

Without thinking, I jumped.

“Wonderful! Can you hold your arms out for me like this?” She stretched her arms out to the side. I did so as well. She grabbed my upper arm and gave it a squeeze. “Okay, good, muscle mass seems standard. Just step into that biometric scanner over there, and then we’ll send you on your way with the rest of your batch.”

“Batch?”

“Yeah, don’t worry, you’ll fit right in with them!” She let out a hollow laugh. That must have been something she said often. She gestured to a diagram on the wall. “So this is you. Well, not just you. The whole clone thing in general. I’m just making sure you and your batch are close enough to this.”

I looked down at myself, as if to confirm the diagram was correct. It was. Hairless, pale, completely flat chest and stomach. No genitals, no belly-button. Things I knew about, and yet didn’t have. Everything about me was identical to the diagram. A feeling of unease fell over me, an awkward sense of being judged and tested.

“Am I?”

“Well, we’ll need to see. Just step into this machine here, dear. It’s nothing too dangerous.”

“What if I wasn’t?”

The nurse shrugged. “I don’t know, not my job. But you don’t need to worry about it, so just don’t think about it.”

The machine was a cylinder, white plastic and clear glass, with two hoops - one on the top and one on the bottom. The glass slid off to the side, and two lights turned on. I took a deep breath, and stepped inside. A screen inside told me to REMAIN CALM.

The glass door slid behind me, and the screen went black. For the first time, I saw my own face. I didn’t have time to examine the details, but I knew it was me. My mind took some time to process it, trying to parse the idea that I had an identity. I was a clone, and I was a designation, but that face reflected on the screen, that was me.

A great whirring sound filled my ears, and the machine started to rumble and vibrate. Contrary to the screen’s instructions, I felt fear. A tugging at my muscles, telling me to run fast and run far. That had to be what fear was, it was the only word I knew that matched what I felt.

“Good, now, step into the shower,” Nurse Maria gestured to another cylinder. “There’ll be a uniform ready for you when you’re done.”

The shower was cold. Really cold. Or maybe it wasn’t, and I just had no idea what a proper temperature for it was. I stepped out, and felt a lot warmer. The air was….better. Warmer now. Probably just in comparison to my skin, but that hardly mattered. It felt good. There was a uniform, a black jumpsuit, waiting for me. It was itchy, uncomfortable.

A series of arrows led me out of the room. I followed them for no reason in particular. It just felt right to do so.

A thousand other people, each one looking identical to the diagram I had seen, stood in the room I ended up in. A disorganized throng of people, putting on uniforms like mine and wandering around the room aimlessly. I saw my own face in each of them, staring back at me. Bald and browless, with blue eyes. Gaunt and tired, despite having only been awake an hour at most. I had no choice but to look each person in the eyes as I walked through the room. All of us were the same. Same height, same build, same face. Sure, some small differences existed between us. I saw some who were darker-skinned, others who were lighter, some who had ever-so-slightly different facial features. But we were still all clones, born from the same genetic stock.

Two people, who looked very different from anyone in the room (as if that was hard), came in. They were dressed very smartly, in military uniform. One of them was a lieutenant, the other was a colonel. I saw the uniforms and knew right away, before I knew their names.

“Now,” the colonel said, his voice amplified by means of speakers in the room. “This is the batch I’m commanding?”

The lieutenant leaned over and whispered something into his ear. He nodded, and pressed a button on his sleeve. The speakers stopped amplifying his voice, and the two of them kept talking. I didn’t hear anything, but I could see the colonel seemed displeased. Why? Because of me? I was the inspected clone, so maybe he didn’t think we were good enough.

He got on top of a raised platform, and pressed the button again. After a few moments of throat-clearing, he spoke.

“My name is Colonel Abrams. I am the commander of this Batch-Regiment. You are all members of the Legions of Fallen Trappist, division eighty-nine. Welcome to your first day of life. Now, I will answer the three questions that Clones, statistically, ask most often. Where am I? You are on Orbital Facility sixty-two, in the Alpha Centauri system’s second asteroid belt. How do I know ‘insert topic here’? Well, we implanted you all with basic soldier personalities and knowledge. Basic anatomy, weapons use, language use, the works. And finally, what’ll happen to me? Well, this division has been assigned to the defense of a human system some ways from here. You’ll get a full briefing soon, soldiers, understood?”

There was silence in the room. After a few moments, Colonel Abrams continued.

“Just so you know, when a commanding officer is done speaking, you have to say ‘Yes, sir.’”

“Yes, sir!” the whole room declared.

The first week of my life was aptitude tests. Training with every weapon, making sure the implanted knowledge had actually set. In two minutes and twelve seconds, I did a field breakdown of a EMEMPS-SIR Striker rifle. Apparently, that was a few seconds slower than average.

I was able to keep a three-inch group at two-hundred yards with that same gun. It felt natural in my hands, like an extension of my own body. But again, I was told that was sub-average. Apparently the average Clone can keep a two-and-three-quarters inch group at five-hundred yards. I’m not quite sure what I felt when I was told that. Shame, maybe.

Somehow, despite being the same as everyone here, I felt inferior. I wasn’t given any time to process these feelings, though, because as soon as I felt sadness over my score with the A3, an EMP Trencher shotgun was put in my hands. I was told to shoot the moving targets by another clone, one with a deep gash from left eye to right cheek.

Fifteen-point-seven seconds to hit each one.

At least there, I was average. Some measure of pride returned to me as I moved from small arms to large. At least I wasn’t terrible at everything. Emplacements and whatnot. Again, average or below. Endurance, average. Strength, average. Average, average, average. Where I was below, it wasn’t by much, and where I was above, there was an even slighter difference.

Rationally, that should have been the case. After all, if I was a clone, there was a template. If there was a template, there was a standard. If there was a standard, then everyone had to more or less fall into the average, right? But still, being told over and over again that I was just average gave me a strange feeling, an empty feeling in my gut.

I got over myself when I saw my armor, though.

Sleek, smooth, and black, every part covered by plates of plasteel, every joint protected with hinged plates. Every part that could be rounded and angled was, but it still retained that sleek and slim profile. The helmet was almost tear-drop shaped, the face completely sealed in. Six eyes, cameras protected by bulletproof glass, were arranged in three horizontal pairs. An antennae stuck out from the left side, short, blunt, and blocky. It was exactly my size, and that was something I knew before I even got into it.

It fit beautifully. The harnesses were comfortable and padded, the neural bodyglove fit like, well, a glove. Not a single piece felt too tight or too loose. The weight didn’t hang on any particular bodypart, and it moved with almost flawless grace. It responded to my movement so naturally, so smoothly. There was nothing about it I didn’t like.

From there, I was processed into a squadron. Nine other clones, those with their helmets off staring blankly ahead into nothingness, those with their helmets on likely doing the same. I found myself zone out from time to time, from the sheer amount of stuff I had to do and process. My mind was still ruminating on Maria, trying to remember her face. I couldn’t.

We had some free time, and each squad was directed to their room. The rooms were like us clones. Each had a window that, when walking past, you could see through. Ten beds, in five bunks, with ten chairs, around one table. A separate bathroom. Beyond that, there was little in amenities. When we got to the room, I realized that much of the walls were actually closets, each one with our designation over it. Our armor seemed to respond to it, unlocking and letting us take it off when we got near. I stepped out of my suit, and the closet opened up. Two mechanical limbs stretched out, grasping the helmet and drawing it inside. Two more came, and grabbed the body-suit itself. The only thing left untouched was the neural suit, which I realized was actually quite nice to wear. Light, airy, almost like it was nothing at all.

The nine others in my squad had extremely similar designations. It took me a moment to realize, though, that we were all one-after-the-other. I was the ‘middle child’ of the squad, so to speak. Nine-oh-one. Four ‘older’ than me, from nine-oh-two to oh-five, and five ‘younger’ than me.

None of us spoke to each other. What was there to say? “Oh, weird being alive now?” or “Where will we be sent?” or “Do you know how to do this?” No matter what topic I considered, I drew a blank.

Ultimately, I ended up taking off the neural suit and packing it away with the rest of my armour. There had to be something to do, something I could use to pass the time. Eventually, after far too long searching, I found a gym. It was completely empty, the barbells and treadmills having gone completely unused. The glass door was locked, and a fingerprint scanner seemed connected to the lock. I pressed my hand against it.

The screen flashed out five words in sequence: NOT. PERMITTED. ENTRY. OFFI-CERS. ONLY.

Now that didn’t make too much sense to me, but I shrugged and figured there was going to be some other room for the grunts. They probably didn’t want us wandering around anyways. That was it, yeah. Not wandering around. The thought entered my mind, and just wouldn’t leave. I turned around, and jogged down the hall. Didn’t want to disobey the officers, and I didn’t want them to see me. But the halls were empty, why was I running like I heard one come around the corner? It wasn’t even a conscious thought, it was…a compulsion, something deep in my chest dragging me away.

I found myself back in my room before I was able to think too deeply on it.

There were a series of little pamphlets sitting on the one table in the room when I got there. No one else had picked them up, and I had no idea where they had come from. The paper was clean and crisp, and still warm, as if they had just been printed.

A hatch opened, and a clear, rectangular tube lowered down over the table, and another packet of pamphlets was dropped on it. The tube retracted, the hatch closed, and I was faced with new reading material. It wasn’t anything particularly novel, just explanations of ranks and serial numbers that I already knew. The first two digits, eighty-nine, were division number, then regiment, then battalion, then company. Eighty-ninth division, sixth regiment, twenty-fourth battalion, fifty-ninth company. Everything after that was just my individual clone ID.

Individual clone.

Of course, I knew what they meant, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit of…irony at that statement.

I sighed, and put down the pamphlets. No wonder no one had touched them, it just pointless.

“Nine-oh-One,” said Nine-oh-two. I turned around, and faced them.

“Yes?” I replied.

“You missed the announcement. We’re going into weapons training in about half an hour.”

“Weapons training?”

“Yes. Weapons training.”

“Good!” I declared, putting my hands on my hip. “That should be, at the very least, not boring.”

“Yeah, I hope so,” said Eight-nine-nine.

--

“This is a EMEMPS-based Standard Issue Rifle, or SIR, also known as the Striker A3,” declared a clone from fifth-division. He had only one arm, the other being made of steel and plastic, and half his face was a poorly-done skingraft. “In my three years of life,” he continued, holding up a sleek, thin, rifle damn near as long as him in his artificial hand. “This thing has saved my ass more than you can imagine. It’s sturdy, it’s robust, it’s deadly as all hell. Your SIR is your best friend, because even if you aren’t in armor, you still have a fighting chance with it.”

“Now,” he put the rifle down, and his voice took on a harsh quality. “You’re all just a bunch of amniotic-suckers, I’m going to assume that the implanted knowledge is still fresh in your head. You probably worked with these things in the aptitude tests, but just to be sure...you!” He pointed at me.

“Yes, commander?”

“Fieldstrip this SIR.”

After a moment of stumbling and pushing past clones who didn’t seem to understand the concept of getting out of the way, I found myself watched by fifty pairs of eyes, all of whom were just waiting for me to mess up so the veteran could yell at me. I was determined to make sure I didn’t mess up.

Fieldstrip the gun. Alright. I could do that. Press the primary magazine catch, unload the canister of exotic matter-plus-battery. Press the tab on the top, at the back of of the optic’s mounting. Pull the entire front of the gun forwards, then bend it 45 degrees. It all came apart, perfectly. It looked almost like a shotgun ready to be loaded.

I pulled the magnetic rails out, and placed them off to the side. There. Fieldstripped, and I didn’t embarrass myself. All I got in response was an acknowledging nod, and an order to get back into line.

“Now, some of you will be given Standard Issue Carbines, Shotguns, and other weapons using the same EMEMPS system. They all operate in the same way, and fieldstrip in more or less the same way. Now, on to exotic weapons, the lucky bastards among you will be getting these.” He walked over to a large backpack-looking thing with a tube and nozzle.

“This, for example, is one of my favourites. A plasmicaster. Take one of these, point it at whatever you want to burn, and the entire area will be covered in plasma. You can vapourize just about anything organic with this damn thing.” He let out a short laugh, as if he was remembering some particularly funny memory from long ago. “Urban environments are ideal, but as long as there’s something to burn, you’ll be having loads of fun. Each tank is good for about two-hundred seconds of flame, but if you’re using it for that long, you have much bigger problems”

This carried on for quite a bit longer, going through nearly two-dozen weapons and their uses. After a while, I felt myself grow a little restless. If they were going to tell us all about these things, but not let us use any of them, what was the point? Dangling a carrot in front of us?

My impatience was punished by another four hours of training lectures and explanations, of doctrinal ideas and general tactica in different scenarios. I looked at the clock as much as I could, and counted out how much of my life had been spent doing anything but the one thing I had been created for.

Again, one of those feelings I couldn’t justify, but felt regardless, a compulsion that was somehow different and yet the same from the one I had felt when I ran from the officers-only gym.

I was, of course, overjoyed when I was handed my SIR. It was natural to hold, something that felt almost like an extension of myself from the second I shouldered it. Despite it being as long as I was tall, I didn’t feel weighed down by it, it didn’t feel awkward to swing about and aim. It was…perfect, or at the very least the closest thing to it that could exist.

The shooting range had massive plates of metal, moving on tracks. Dozens of us were lined up, and told to fire. The recoil without the armor was intense, pushing the air from my lungs. Eventually, I got good enough at holding my breath that it didn’t bother me as much. My shoulder, however, disagreed quite heavily with the rifle.

It was much better when the armor trials began the next day. I could barely feel a damn thing, it was less like a rifle, and more like a popgun, as far as my shoulder was concerned.

The war games were fun, really. Actually, legitimately, fun. We were given weird meshes to wear over our armor, and Non-Lethal Laser Rifles. It was a matter of setting up defensive positions against the Red Team (I was on blue), and making sure you knew how to competently follow instructions. Digging foxholes, setting up sandbags, things I knew already. Over time, I started to feel…happy.

Oh-two was a decent person, always willing to lend a hand, and ninety-nine did their job admirably. Somewhere along the line, oh-four said she preferred to be called she. No one seemed to have an issue with that.

“So,” she said, sitting down next to me as we prepared our meals over a flameless heater. “Can’t wait to blow some heads up for real.”

I nodded, not exactly sure how to answer that.

“Well,” she stretched, resting the back of her head on her hands, “I found out that we could get deployed soon. Guess this is all just to keep us busy.”

A pang of excitement shot through my heart. “Deployed?” I asked, almost in disbelief. “Where to?”

“Defense of Cygnia, or whatever. I didn’t really spend too much time looking at the documents, what with the officers coming down the door.”

“Wait, you read classified stuff?”

“Yeah. Delivered to me by mistake. Apparently, I’m one digit off from a lieutenant-militant or whatever. So of course I read it.”

I felt sick. Intensely, truly sick. I didn’t know how to respond, save to stare silently at the bubbling food. It was one of those things where I didn’t think there was even a decent response. Do I report her to the officers? Do I keep silent? Do I admonish her? What could I do? Betray a squadmate, someone who I would need to fight with for possibly years on end, or stay mum and go against every regulation pounding in my head?

I smiled.

“Yeah, I would have done the same,” I said, something unnameable yet fundamental within me shattering.


Irrequieto

synthesystem -

Irrequieto, Chapter One, "Birthday Cupcakes"


Dev smiled as she felt a cat lie on her chest. “Lil,” she sighed and spat out some brown hair that had floated from her own head. “You know I need to get up, right?”

Her sweet black cat, oblivious to her plans, simply began to settle in. Again, Dev smiled and then proceeded to pick up Lil and set her back on the floor. She had fallen asleep on her favorite couch while waiting for her parents to get home, and her cat had great timing because she heard the door being unlocked now.

Jumping up and managing not to trip on the cat, she ran to greet her parents.

“Devain!” Her father yelled excitedly when he saw her, smothering her into a hug.

Dev sighed into his chest, but this was normal for him. No one else, not even her mother when she was stern, called her Devain. Only her dad did. She always guessed it was a form of revenge, seeing as his name, Triman, was equally as strange. The only one spared was her mother, Allison, who had the most normal name under the sun.

But this wasn’t the most important thought on Dev’s mind. As her mother gave her a kiss on the head, Dev turned to the table that could be seen behind her, completely set up with flatware and plates.

Her mother laughed. “Dev, it’s your birthday, what are you doing setting the table?” she asked.

Laughing as well, Dev sauntered over to pet Lil. “I was bored! I had nothing else to do before you got home, so I thought I’d just get it done, y’know?”

Her parents both nodded in agreement before getting settled in. Like they had said, it was Devain’s fifteenth birthday, an event that she had been waiting for since she turned fourteen. She loved her birthdays since she always got to have cake and not do chores. But aside from that, she also liked getting older. She knew one day she’d resent it, but not yet.

Allison laid out cupcakes she had gotten earlier and waved Dev over to the table along with her father. She stared down at the red cupcakes and green icing and winced. It looked like a Christmas party. But, her mother always insisted on green icing. “Like your eyes,” she would always say. Fifteen cupcakes, each of which would be eaten in the next day or two, one for each year of her life, sat on the table in a single row. A candle adorned the cupcake in the middle of the line of bakery treats.

Her father smirked as they all settled in. “Better make a wish before I take it!” he joked. He said that almost every year, and Dev knew it was her cue to make a wish. But as she blew, her head emptied. The wishes she had been planning to make floated out of her head unexpectedly.

She tried not to frown as her parents clapped. Grabbing the cupcake, she pulled out the candle and took a big bite, ignoring the strangeness of the occurrence. It happens, she supposed.

The rest of the day seemed to fly by her. A book from her mom, a succulent from her dad for her presents, Howl’s Moving Castle for the birthday movie, and chicken for dinner. It was pleasant and calm, exactly what she had hoped for.

Later that night, she sighed as she changed into pajamas and laid in bed. “Another successful birthday,” she said, to no one in particular.

Right as she started to drift off, her eyes closed, she shot up as a hand nudged her arm.

“What-” she yelled, frantic and unable to see in the dark room.

“Shhh!” she heard. Dev wasn’t about to shush just for that, but she quickly recognized the voice as her father’s.

“Dad?” she asked, annoyed. “It’s almost midnight, what do you want?”

He chuckled and pulled her out of bed. “Follow me.”


babushka reblogged cjadewyton
jadewyton -

Hey! Just added chapter 13 to A Man Worth a Million! :D Dale and Talia have FINALLY gotten together!

Ya'll can read the draft so far here: https://cjadewyton.com/my-writing/kladstone-romances/

It was good to hear him laugh so much.

And just as she thought about it, she heard him start laughing, and wondered what joke she’d missed as Dale turned into the apartment’s parking lot and slotted into one of the spots.

She’d only half-undone her seatbelt before Gavin leant over the seat and planted a kiss on her cheek.

‘I’ll meet you inside!’ he decided, reaching into Talia’s pocket for her keys. She didn’t have time to suggest otherwise before he was out of the car and halfway into the stairwell.

‘Gavin wai— Ugh,’ Talia leant back in her seat as her son disappeared.

‘There he goes,’ Dale’s voice floated into the car as he pulled open Talia’s door for her. ‘Fast little bugger, isn’t he? Nyoom.’

‘Nyoom,’ Talia repeated, though a little flatter than Dale had said it. ‘Sometimes I wish he’d slow down. Just a little bit.’

‘Aw, but then he wouldn’t be Gavin, would he?’ joked Dale. Then he offered Talia his hand. ‘Come on. You alright?’

‘Yeah, I...’ Talia hesitated, then took his hand and let him pull her up. ‘I’m fine. I just....’

She lost her train of thought.

And when Dale waited patiently for her to continue she felt her cheeks start to burn, and she looked away and pulled her hand back.

‘Talia?’ Dale’s voice was soft as his hand took hers again and gave it a squeeze that trapped butterflies in her stomach. ‘Hey.... Look at me?’

She dared to turn back, and as she met his soft, kind eyes she felt the butterflies trying to push out of her throat.

‘Talia,’ Dale managed, his voice cracking with the same emotions that had paralysed Talia. ‘Please be my girlfriend?’

And the butterflies escaped her as a laugh.

She didn’t mean them to.

But they escaped her, and she found herself choking on giggle after giggle as she collapsed back into the car and covered her mouth with her hands.

She had known that the question was coming, but she hadn’t expected it to sound like that out loud. She hadn’t thought he would say it like that.

So simple.

So straightforward.

She couldn’t breathe.

It was too much.

‘Yes!’ she managed. ‘Yes! Yes! Yes, Dale! Yes!’


babushka reblogged beefox
jadewyton -

‘Are you real?’ she asked.

Scaychie hesitated. ‘What?’

‘Are you real?’

‘I.... Uh, yeah.’

‘Oh, good!’ the woman stood up straighter, tucking her wings behind her back and pushing her hair out of her eyes. ‘Sometimes it’s hard to tell. You know?’

‘N... no,’ Scaychie answered, feeling her brow furrow at the strange woman.

‘Oh, well...’ the woman’s ears flicked back. But then, they flicked back up and she smiled. ‘I’m Keeyata. What’s your name?’

Scaychie just eyed her.

When she didn’t reply, Keeyata’s ears folded back down, and she stepped forward, gently placing a hand against Scaychie’s shoulder before pulling back and letting out an anxious laugh. ‘Oh, ah— Hah, you are real!’

‘I said that,’ Scaychie grunted.

‘Yes, but you may have been lying.’

Scaychie just shrugged.

‘Uhm...’ Keeyata shuffled again. Then offered another nervous grin. ‘I’m Keeyata. What’s your name?’

Again, Scaychie stared. And again, Keeyata edged forward.

‘Am I speaking?’ Keeyata asked. ‘Out loud?’

Scaychie sighed, and nodded. ‘Yes. Yes you are. My name’s Scaychie.’

‘Oh, that’s a nice name,’ Keeyata’s grin grew, before she held out a hand.

‘What do... do you want something?’ Scaychie asked. ‘Why are you...’

She trailed off as Keeyata slowly took her hand and gave it a timid shake.

‘What... is this?’ Scaychie asked.

‘Hello,’ Keeyata said, giving another shake. ‘Mother Tarasi said this was polite.’

‘How... is touching my hand polite?’ Scaychie grimaced. What kind of... weird custom was this?

‘I’m not sure,’ Keeyata responded. ‘I never understood it. But Mother Tarasi said to always do it when saying hello. Because it’s polite.’

‘Mm,’ Scaychie felt herself frown as she pulled her hand away. Then she leant forward and butted her head against Keeyata’s. ‘Well, uh.... Hello. I guess.’

‘Wh—‘ Keeyata’s eyes widened and she stumbled back, as if Scaychie had butted her hard. ‘What the fuck?!’

‘I was saying hello,’ Scaychie snorted. ‘That’s how dassens greet each other. Were you raised felinic or something?’

‘No, no, Mother Mairas was dassen,’ Keeyata replied. ‘But my brother and I are from Canis! With wolvens?’

‘Yes. Wolvens,’ Scaychie grunted.

‘Was that really how you say hello?’

‘Yes...’ Scaychie trailed off as she spied Linzor a little ways off.

Keeyata seemed to notice her tense, and glanced to see what she was looking at.

‘Oh! Linzor!’ Keeyata ran to her brother. ‘Linzor!’

‘What?’ Linzor growled.

‘Scaychie showed me how dassens say hello! Can I show you?’

Linzor rolled his eyes and gave a huff. ‘Fine.’

She headbutt Linzor so hard he fell over.


babushka reblogged cjadewyton

Unhappy bubbles! Unhappy baby.


Naga have the shortest gestation of all live-birthing Sentients, at 4 months. Due to their short gestation naga infants are born fairly weak, with their eyes sealed shut, and need constant supervision until their first year when they start to open their eyes.

Although naga are born functionally blind, their sense of smell is still very acute and they can learn to recognise people and things by smell. They will blow large mucus bubbles and press them against people to sniff them.

These mucus bubbles are also used in an infant’s communication. As most naga language is visual body language, closed-eyed infants have a hard time communicating with their parents. Instead, they express emotions through their mucus bubbles. Happy naga babies will blow large bubbles, filling them with multiple breaths until they burst. They do this by breathing in through their gills and out through their nose. This can be uncomfortable for mothers who are breastfeeding, as the mucus sticks to their chests and (while they don’t often think of it as gross) if it’s not cleaned off properly it can cause irritation.

To express discomfort or displeasure an unhappy naga infant will, instead of crying, blow lots of small mucus bubbles into the water around them like floating tears. These bubbles will stick to most surfaces and are usually an unexpected menace for inexperienced parents to deal with. Most naga will grow out of this during their childhood, and rarely carry the habit into their teen years.

From birth, naga have what’s known as the “baby curl” instinct. Young, blind naga curl their tails around things and people and grip as hard as they are able. Once they find something they like to wrap around they will refuse to uncurl their tails, even in their sleep, until they find something else to hold onto. Parents usually wrap their children’s tails around their own arms, so that they aren’t separated.

The baby curl instinct may carry on after a young naga opens their eyes all the way into early childhood. This is considered the equivalent of a land-dwelling child sucking their thumb, and many naga children will have specific comfort items, such as blankets or toys, that make them feel most secure.


babushka reblogged cjadewyton
jadewyton -

‘You want to talk about what happened?’

‘I don’t know,’ said Talia. ‘I guess we have to, don’t we?’

‘I suppose we do,’ Dale replied. ‘Well.... First things first; do you like me?’

Talia looked away, focusing her gaze on the school yard and scanning the building for signs of students. ‘Yes.’

‘Do you want to date me?’

‘I don’t know.’

‘You don’t know?’ Dale asked, his fingers tapping on the wheel again.

‘I’ve been trying to decide all day,’ Talia admitted. ‘That’s why I didn’t want to talk about it sooner. Because I’m just not sure. It’s... overwhelming. And I’m sorry. I wish I had an answer.’

‘Hey, it’s alright,’ Dale replied, and she felt his hand rest on hers. When she turned, his gaze was soft, and kind, and full of love, and it made her heart wrench sideways and upside down. ‘You don’t have to be sure, yet. You can think about it.’

‘You’d wait for an answer?’ Talia almost scoffed. ‘That’s.... I don’t know how long it’ll take me. What if it takes me a week to decide?’

Dale shrugged. ‘Then I’ll wait a week for the answer.’

‘God, I want to strangle you! Stop being so sweet!’ Talia groaned. She caught a glimpse of Dale’s grin as she turned and dropped her head against the window with a huff. They both sat for a while, staring at the nearby buildings, before Talia let out an exasperated breath and turned back. ‘Dale?’

‘Yeah?’

‘Thanks,’ she managed. ‘For being patient with me. I appreciate it.’

‘It’s alright,’ he replied.

Then the bell rang, and less than a minute later students were pouring out the doors into the yard.

‘Here they come,’ Dale said.

‘Oh, no, is that Jacob?’ Talia groaned— And then felt herself relax as Jacob waved goodbye and veered off in another direction. ‘Oh thank god. I did not want him being involved in this conversion.’

‘Yeah, talk about awkward,’ Dale gave a half-hearted laugh, which became much more genuine as Gavin pulled open the car door and leapt in. ‘Hey, Gav, how was school?’

‘Was alright,’ Gavin replied, throwing his bag in the foot-well and pulling on his belt. ‘What were you doing in mum’s bed last night?’

For god’s sake, Gavin! Talia almost screamed as she watched her son through the rear-view mirror. Have some tact!

Thankfully, Dale chuckled. Though it was awkward. ‘Just chilling.’

Gavin’s brow furrowed, and he looked confused as he stared at Dale. ‘Chilling?

‘Yeah, chilling!’ Dale repeated. ‘Nothing wrong with two people just, you know, hanging out!’

‘In bed together?’

‘Yeah!’ said Dale, his voice cracking as he blushed. ‘Just two good friends. Hanging out.’

Gavin looked at his mother. Then to Dale. Then back and forth again before he rolled his eyes. ‘You asked her out, didn’t you?’

‘Yes,’ Dale admitted.

‘Like you said you would.’

‘Yes.’


babushka asked:

Trust

intrepid-inkweaver -

(I finally got an idea for this one!!)

I’ve sat in the woods and watched the leaves. I’ve sat there and watched the rain, and the snow, I’ve watched as much of the sky as I can see. I’ve seen the foxes rush by, and the squirrels in the trees and so many birds, I long ago lost count. They run and fly and climb like they have places they must be, and here I sit, watching. I lost count of the times I’ve seen the sun and the moon and the stars rise and set. I think I’ve been here months, I think I’ve been here years, I think I’ve been here decades and centuries and millennia. Moss has grown over my body, I am indistinguishable from the fallen trees around. Flowers grow in my hair and my eyes and my fingernails have crystallized. My heart is covered in leaves, but it still beats out thumping rhythm that I hear when the woods get quiet. That is a rare occurrence, though, and sometimes I am forced to wonder if it has stopped. I am content waiting here, and smelling the springs, summers, falls and winters come and go. Watching a seedling grow into a massive sentinel, only to be struck down by lightning in the first century of it’s prime. It has returned to the earth from whence it came in a way that I have not. I hang on and hang on and hang on because I have a promise to keep. I promised I would wait. They promised they would come. And I trust to that promise, though I cannot remember their voice, or their face, or their name. I know they will come, and until then, I am content in the forest. I watch the leaves, and the rain and the snow and the sky. And I can hear my heartbeat under the moss. I am content to wait.


Comparison - doodleboodgle

I havent finished what im doing just yet, however I feel like im ready to disclose Ghost Spinls story ! Reminder, this is a character for my steven universe alternate story.


Ghost spinel, like any other of her type, was an entertainer. Once upon a time, she was assigned to boost the moral of some quartz soldiers and a few high ranked gems within a sector.

All was going well. The crowd ate her up, not once did Ghosts jokes fall flat, she even got attending agate to chuckle at her antics ! Given Ghosts main audience was the soldiers of the sector, lets call it LX7-1; she stuck mostly to impressions, shapeshifting, and poking fun at a few pearls.

As the audience roared in laughter, her jokes grew to the point of teasing at upper class gems. For most of the act, no issues came up - until a visiting Pyrope took offense.

The gem huffed over the smaller cut, telling her to mind her place. The rest of the high class gems didn't feel the outburst to be necessary, Pyropes happen to be snooty and father uptight to begin with; they made no motion to defend or back her up.

Ghost of course kept going with her usual stunts. She picked at the Pyropes skirt, stretching tall enough to look down on her, even commented on how pretty she would be as a pearl. Quartz soldiers screeched in delight, sapphires giggled under they're breath, and other gems who came for the show were estatic !

However this did not last, Ghost somehow went too far.

Whatever she did to rise the audience to anger wasnt clear, and was hardly explained.

"You just insulted an upper crust !" Yelled a gem in the back.

"How dare she ?!" Yelped another.

"Doesn't that spinel know any better ?" Howled someone else.

Before Ghost even knew it, she was being bleached. Her pigment sizzled to the tones of black and white, she could feel it within her gem.

Then she'd poof.

This continued over and over again, every time she reformed, they'd inject more chemicals; the pain was staggering.

The damage was already doen once Pink Quartz and other rebel gems came to her aid, they were too late.

Her jovial an sassy attitude was signed away, her pigment was completely altered.

That was the day Ghost spinel came to be.

And thats how the most terrifying rebel gem joined Pink Quartz and her crusade for freedom among gem kind.


babushka reblogged goat-ish
crownedwithwisteria -

to hell with it.

self-indulgent fic is up, yes glowingjellyfishtreelights is my ao3 account, yes posting this on waterfall is giving me a considerable amount of anxiety. however, I also happen to be in a mood where I feel like kicking my anxiety in the teeth right now, so here we are.


The Good Place "Soulmate" "AU"

After a while of restarts, Michael decides to tackle the "soulmate" lie he tells his subjects a little differently. The idea is suggested by a demon from the "Internet Crimes" department.

As the residents of the neighborhood wake up on the first morning of being there, the names of other residents appear on their wrists. Michael announces that the system has chosen a soulmate for each one of them, but the true pleasure for them will be to find their soulmates by themselves, and that's what they should do. Soulmate names can stay private, so everyone gets a bracelet to wear on their wrist.

Chidi wakes up with a name that is written in a truly unique font. It has so many swirls in it, he can't quite figure out what it says. Michael just shrugs and tells him to go with his heart, but the scribble can as well say "Eleanor", "Eloise", "Simone", "Legolas"... Even worse is that a lot of men in the neighborhood, somehow, share their name with him and there is a lot of "Chidi"s written on wrists! Chidi struggles to constantly choose between people who come up to him with this name, only for one of them to be swept off their feet by their actual soulmate right in the moment of his decision.

Tahani's wrist is blank. She gets very self-conscious about it, at first, as the demons constantly ask her about her soulmate. At some point, though, she gets over it and decides she is, in fact, fine with being single for eternity and it doesn't take away her value as a person. She throws a huge party, on which she announces that her wrist is blank. Everyone applauds her strength and the ability to publically announce such a huge deal, and she enjoys the spotlight. Then she jokingly says "None of you here have me as your soulmate, do you?" and Jason stands up.

He, indeed, has her name on his wrist, and the reason Tahani's wrist was blank because Jason's monk alter ego was so humble, that not only he gave up his speech, he gave up all of his possessions in this world, even his name. It's kind of humiliating to Jason since he wanted to be a known DJ. Of course, he's been staring at Tahani's hot appearance this entire time, but couldn't bring himself to talk to her, fearing of being caught and sent to the bad place. He spent his time in his budhole and asked Janet for the advice on his soulmate, but her advice wasn't always helpful since she was already subconsciously jealous after that timeline they were together. Now, of course, Tahani is in an awkward situation, as she has made the humblest creature on the planet suffer for so long, and she doesn't really want to be stuck with a nameless monk. After they move in together, no big changes happen, Jason is still scared of her and she is hopelessly trying to get him to open up to her.

Eleanor finds her soulmate pretty quickly. Ken is a total pushover though, so her selfishness only grows. Later, he gets fed up with it and they're arguing a lot, in the heat of the fight Eleanor puts up her wrist to remind him they're soulmates, but there is another name on her wrist. Ken runs away, furious. Eleanor realizes this is one of the side effects of her not belonging here, she finds Ken and begs him to stay, but no matter how hard they try, her name doesn't change back and his name just gets smudged. Eventually, Michael finds out.

Eleanor is terrified but Michael explains this is plausible. Some people are complicated, he says, so the system recalibrates along the way with them. It can happen a number of times, he says, but in the end, you will still find The One and your ex-soulmate will be just fine, probably... Shortly after, Ken gets a new perfect soulmate - a big, fluffy cat (who is also a demon in disguise). Eleanor goes off to find another soulmate.

This also doesn't go well, since Trent already has a soulmate, and Eleanor's appearance ruins his perfect relationship with them. They stay up all night, and Trent's partner is ready to give him up because they're too kind, only for Eleanor's name to get changed again next morning. Her misery continues as she finds other people who she doesn't get along with, and a few Chidis, and she can't help but count the numbers the name changes on her wrist. At least if "Chidi" changes to "Chidi" it's not visible...

When she runs into our Chidi Anagonye, he looks at his wrist, which could as well be saying "Eleanor" and decides to give her a shot. She then pleads him to pretend to be her soulmate and vows not to bother him much since she finds him to be a boring guy not interested in women, unlike some other Chidis, and with his scribble of a wrist names they can easily pass as true soulmates. And he can also teach her to be good - perfect catch! However, she needs to respect his wants and needs and truly try to form a relationship and for the name not to be changed again, because the system only needs to be calibrated for a fixed amount of times on a good person... And Chidi still hopes his soulmate is somewhere out there, searching for him, and he just gave them up, and the ethical cluster fork continues...

Everyone is suffering, and Michael is happy.

Until Eleanor figures out that not only are they in the Bad Place, but in a particular fanfiction-based one! Chidi is curious how the names worked then, and Michael explains, laughing, that he just drew the names on everyone's hands with a Sharpie while they were sleeping, and did it several times with Eleanor.


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