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    Thread: Reunion

    1. #1
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      This is something I've been working on for a bit, partly with regards to my own relationship to gender. If you want to argue, save it- this is my attempt at creating some sort of little fanfic piece from my own personal experiences.

      The genre of this fic is meant as a "slice of life" sort of piece, with some combat action- given the universe we're in. Additionally, I'm running with a couple of headcanons.

      • Magic is not restricted to spells from the deck. Experienced magic users can use magic at their own discretion, and can control it with their own knowledge. Spell cards just provide focused energy through illusive effects, which can make them more threatening.
      • Using an idea from Dragon's Dogma's caster classes, experienced wizards can use "cheats" by using multiple turns to cast spells.
      • Minions are the exception to the illusive effects rule

      Additionally, all characters are either switched, or have had their names changed using the current batch of names available in the test realm, at the time of this post. The idea behind that is everyone now has their own voice, and their own identity. These names are subject to change whenever the Test Realm is closed, and the Live Realm is updated. Format for the list is "Old Name/Character, New Name/Character Replaced (Pronouns)", specified as it goes down.

      • Gracie DarkSlinger is now Yvonne BlightWeaver (She/Her)
      • Hannah BattleThief is now Ayana BlurQueen (She/Her)
      • Rachel StormSword is now Reidan HydroWarden (She/Her)
      • Alex GhostForge is now Harmony SorrowSinger (They/Them)
      • Elijah RedThistle (He/Him) was called for duties elsewhere, and is now replaced by Breana (Brianna) FogHorn (She/Her)
      • Andrew SpiritStrider retired, and is now replaced with Octavia RoseKeeper (She/Her).
      • Mark DeathMask came out of the closet, transitioned, and is now Rylee RainbowSong (She/They)

      CW; This piece contains light sapphic/romantic interactions. All characters involved are considered 18+.
      Chapters 2 & 5 CW; This chapter contains violence, but nothing worse than what's been implied, inflicted, or what our wizard(s) has done in game.
      Chapter 6 CW; This chapter contains a depiction of an autistic meltdown.


      This speech impediment is still here. The mix of science and magic within Necromancy means I age slower, and don't "grow out" of some things. It's irritating sometimes, but if I'm writing these things out, nobody has any room to misinterpret me.

      Dear reader, you might remember me. The chaos we were up to, the implosions, explosions, abandonment, our own reunion, and so much else. If you recall, I am his- now her -little sister.

      I hadn't heard from her in so long. When SpiritStrider's mom died, everything fell apart. He retired with his wife Yardsley to Skull Island to live a peaceful end of his own years- it was too painful for him to return home. A significant part of his life was missing, after all. His assets were divided, some sold, and the rest distributed among the rest of us; except for his war trophies. Those went with him.

      The doctor RedThistle received calls for care from his old home of Marleybone not long after. He had to hang up his hood, face paint, and jacket to return home- multiple emergencies that someone like him could take care of. He stayed, if only so there wasn't any risk of anything going wrong on his watch again. He was an amazing doctor, and even greater fighter- but when an airborne pathogen makes its way through the Spiral, it meant that he had to

      GhostForge- not the shadow clone, but our own, got caught up in an interdimensional scuffle. She was transported to a different place and time, returning to us a changed, and newly named person. They called themselves “Harmony” now, and their musical focus was far greater than it was before.

      The StormSword returned to MooShu to meditate, as she always did, and she left a letter that was delivered to me recently under a different name. Nobody else that I'm aware of heard from her during Yoshihito’s administration for years. I suspect she’s somewhere outside of this plane of existence, given she’d have enough sustaining energy in the spirit plane to meditate as long as she’d need.

      As for the Myth girl, she moved for a time to Mirage. I ended up joining her for her own conquest, making a name for herself both above ground and below. Sometimes it takes a kick-butt lady to straighten out a thing or two, and it was nice to finally join someone closer to my age.

      There's one I haven't mentioned yet, though.

      My older sister retired to places unknown. I wouldn't find out that she was not my brother until she sent a letter recently- where she revealed her time away was to a private Arcanum quarter in Xander, Jaki, and Iona's care. The Mythling and I'd been there many times, and I'm shocked we didn't run into each other. Maybe she hid, for fear of my reaction? I didn't want to think about it further. She was my sister after all, even if I'd once known her by another name.

      She wanted to meet again. I'd told her about everyone, how we'd grown, how we all were called by new names. I'd even told her that we'd come across new allies, Breana and Octavia. We didn't have a team name though, and trying out old names didn't feel right.

      But I know that between the seven of us, we'd reach the end of the story in our own way. Together. Sisters and siblings in arms.

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      Yvonne BlightWeaver, once Grace DarkSlinger.

      Chapter 1 will be out when I'm done editing it.
      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 8-2-23 at 12:11:44 PM. Reason: The final character has been revealed, and 12 hours have passed since it was posted. Updating the name list.
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

    2. #2
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      Re: Reunion

      Chapter 1 is here. Editing took a little longer while I'm finishing this draft.

      Yvonne was found in the Arcanum library, reading a book recently re-added to the collections. Its edges were singed, and bits of sand fell out from between the pages. She'd retrieved it recently from a Qhathouse in Mirage, and it clearly suffered all sorts of abuse during its time there. The book was titled A Spiral Tour in Stories, a fiction collection of stories from many different worlds, one that had gone missing from the Arcanum's shelves. Yvonne had found it by accident while backing up the BlurQueen, as the young woman now called herself.

      Yvonne finished the chapter, and was ready to leave for Mirage again. She was stopped in the hall by the Librarian Fitzhume.

      "BlightWeaver!" Fitzhume shouted as he approached, "Letter for you!" He held out an envelope addressed to Yvonne.

      "From who?" Yvonne asked.

      "Your girlfriend," Fitzhume barked sarcastically, "She found a Zafarian prince to run away with- I don't know, I'm not someone who's going to dictate it line-by-line for you!"

      Yvonne rolled her eyes, and took the letter. “Thanks,” She said, “Real informative.”

      Fitzhume huffed and flew back to the Panopticon. Yvonne opened the letter and started reading.


      I'm glad you took the time to respond. I know that a lot of this has been hard on you, but I think I'm ready to get out into the field again. I want to meet the new team first, though. I'm spending a week in a Regent's Square hotel starting tonight, and I'm going to see if I can catch Doc RedThistle again. I already visited Andrew and Rachel out on Skull Island, since I knew how hard it would be for them to make it. The pair was rather accepting of me, which is no surprise. Rachel’s philosophy is more or less about occupational hazards, and Andrew did nothing more than shrug and say ‘It’s who you are’.

      I’m not sure if I’ll be able to see Doc RedThistle, but you know how punctual I am, or try to be. I'll be at the Bordeaux Café at 11:30am for coffee daily. Please meet me there, and don't be afraid to reach me on my P.H.O.N.E., it's the same number as before.

      With love.

      Yvonne shook her head. "Still bossing me around, eh?" She thought, though admitted to herself that she probably overshot how she was interpreting. Her sister always had her safe times and zones to meet new people. This probably was no different than before.

      Yvonne ran to her room, put the letter on her desk, and ran back out. She grabbed the Mirage key to the Spiral Door, put it in the lock, and entered the Oasis.

      A young woman, dressed as a nomad in green clothes, was running through the streets of Aggrobah, sword in hand. Many large men chased after her. She turned into alley after alley, cutting through obstacles, leading these people chasing her in the dust, and found new routes through the city beyond the streets.

      It wasn't until the woman came to the canals that she was stopped by a boat, parked in her path across bollards that’d lead to another dock. She came to a stop, and looked around. The men who were chasing her blocked streets, alleys, and climbing points all.

      "It's too late, slipjade!" One of the men yelled, "Come peacefully, and it won't hurt as much!"

      "That's a new nickname," She thought to herself. In response to the men, she flung her cloak open, and revealed a deck of cards.

      A couple of the men shuddered. "She's a spellslinger!" They cried, "The woman is a spellslinger!"

      The woman pulled a hand from her deck, and started leaping around the arena. One card was stuck on the forehead of one of the bad men, then another, then sixteen more in the vicinity who looked even remotely threatening.

      When she landed back in the center of the arena, the woman stood up. "Are you charmed to meet me?" She asked, attempting to sound cute, and snapped her finger. Each spell she planted fired off a stunning strike. Every single man who was chasing her fell on their knees, then groaned as they all dropped their weapons and fell to the floors.

      The young woman put her hands on her sides, and huffed triumphantly. Unbeknownst to her, there were combatants on the boat. They quietly raised their swords to strike, but something struck them first. The woman only turned around when she heard wood and reeds crack and tear behind her. A familiar Sorrow Seraph ascended from the wreckage as it sank.

      "Hi Malduit!" The woman said, enthusiastically.

      The Sorrow Seraph named Malduit returned the greeting with a bow. “Greetings, Ayana.”

      "Where's Yvonne?" The woman named Ayana asked.

      "The BlightWeaver waits for you by the Spiral Gate," the Sorrow Seraph replied, and pointed her sword in the direction of Caravan.

      "I'll finish this job and get to her, thanks!" Ayana waved, and darted away.

      “I have been tasked with ensuring your safety,” Malduit quickly followed.

      Yvonne would be found chewing on an apple. It clearly wasn't from Mirage, but nonetheless it was an apple. It was a good apple too, red delicious. She had it nearly down to its core while she waited for Malduit to get back.

      She kept a lookout from atop the high rocks of Caravan, allowing the camel who normally did that to get a break, and would call out entrants into the Oasis for the guards to get a heads up. This place wasn't policed like any other area of Aggrobah, but it was protected by mercenaries and capable warriors who volunteered. It deterred bandit attacks, no doubt, and could possibly resist a small army with its strength.

      She looked out towards Aggrobah, and saw a set of wings- nevermind, two sets of wings. One was a set of fairy wings worn by a woman going irresponsibly fast, and the other was Yvonne’s minion Malduit, with her black seraph wings.

      "We got a departure from Aggrobah!" Yvonne yelled, and then tagged the other lookout with a friendly slap to the hand, "And that's my cue to meet them!”

      The lookout accepted the tag. "May your journey end in happiness!" He said, and took Yvonne's position.

      Yvonne slid down the side of the mountain, landing on a cargo carpet coming from Caterwaul Canyon. She hopped off the carpet, drew a sacrifice from her deck, and tossed the card into the air.

      The young winged woman flew up in a spin, taking the card, and absorbed the healing energy off of Yvonne's spell. Her wings would disintegrate as they dispelled, and she fluttered to the ground as the last of the magic ash burned safely off her back. When the woman landed, she darted towards Yvonne.

      "How Gracie-ful!" The woman said enthusiastically, and hugged Yvonne.

      Yvonne rolled her eyes. "Shut it," She said, hugging the woman back, "I haven't gone by that name in years, Ayana!"

      Ayana laughed. "Still, puns are masterful!" She sighed against Yvonne's shoulder, then leapt out excitedly. "Why are you here though?"

      "It's Mar-"

      "Up-up-up!" Ayana interrupted, "Have you learned her new name yet?"

      Yvonne looked side to side, nervously, and back at Ayana. "No," She replied, a little disheartened, "I asked, but she refused to tell me. I think she wants it to be a surprise."

      Ayana giggled. "I just wanna see how surprised she is that her little sister got a girlfriend!" She exclaimed, excitedly.

      In spite of her pale look that was indicative of a Necromancer, Yvonne turned redder than the apple she was eating earlier. "I don't think it'll be THAT much of a surprise..." She mused.

      Ayana grabbed Yvonne's hand. "Then let's go see her!" She exclaimed, and started heading for the Spiral Door.

      "Hold on!" Yvonne cried as she was dragged to the portal, "We need to get the others first!"

      "Okay..." Ayana dropped her head, disappointed, "I'll go get Breana."

      "I'll get Reidan," Yvonne said, "And I'll go get Octavia too."

      "Then I guess I'm getting Harmony?" Ayana asked.

      "Please?" Yvonne asked.

      "Fine." Ayana grabbed the key to go and get the Wizard named Breana first, "Where am I meeting you?"

      "Tell them to gather at the Arcanum first," she said, "We'll go to Marleybone once the six of us are ready."

      "Got it!" Ayana exclaimed, "To Grizzleheim I go!"

      Once Hannah [REDACTED], now Ayana BlurQueen.

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      Chapter 2 will be out when I'm done editing it.
      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 7-28-23 at 4:21:33 PM.
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

    3. #3
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      Re: Reunion - Chapter 2

      I finished the draft the same day as the update. Working on cleaning up the rest to post. This will be one of a couple mirrors of this story.

      Backstory on Breana FogHorn will be added at the end.

      Without further ado...

      Reunion - Chapter 2

      In Savarstaad pass, ten human feet could be heard by the forest creatures, sprinting from something. The feet belonged to a crew of five pirates, running desperately to escape a pack of forest boars they’d enraged. The boars were gaining on them, and they had to take a shortcut through some thickets.

      Seeing an obstacle ahead, the musketeer fired her rifle, and the swashbuckler fired his pistols. Several forest pests fell from where they were fluttering, twitched, and were then trampled by the escaping pirates.

      The crew ran through a clearing, running at a full sprint. They reached a cabin, built in a way that they did not recognize, it looked like a watchtower. They stopped here- possible refuge?

      “Did we lose the boars?” The captain asked.

      The musketeer raised her scoped rifle, pointing it down the path they’d just come from. “If we didn’t, then they’re doing a good job of hiding.” She answered.

      “That’s reassuring,” The captain grumbled.

      The crew stayed armed, inspecting the cabin built in the base of a tree. They found supplies, plates, and more things that made the cabin look clearly lived in. Even the fire by the river was still burning. This kept them alerted.

      They inspected the tree further, going up the ladder inside, and found the watchtower inside. Nothing special here, and they couldn’t open the door on top of the old tree stump.

      “Uh, guys?” The witchdoctor called out, “The entrance is blocked!”

      The captain looked at the others, and hopped down to the ground level again. Indeed, where they had entered was indeed sealed up.

      “What do we do?” The witchdoctor asked.

      “Sleep,” A woman’s voice whispered through each of their heads.

      The crew heard several pops, turning their heads to the edges of the room. Some small explosives had gone off around the floors of the room, and the contents of those bombs were permeating the building.

      Desperately, the witchdoctor scratched at where the entrance once was. The captain, thinking there was another way out, tried making his way up to the upper room- only for the ladder to break under him with a loud snap. He landed flat on his back, and tried to get up. The gas was fatiguing him too hard to rise from his place on the floor.

      By now, his crew was coughing and collapsing. The captain himself resisted the urge to cough, and tried to stand. What little adrenaline he still had, he couldn’t muster, and he succumbed to the weakness-inducing effect of this gas. His vision fading, he witnessed the entrance reappear, and the figure of a woman walk through. She said something, but he couldn’t make anything of it before all his senses faded, and he lost consciousness.

      “Wake up.” A woman’s gruff voice sounded off, waking the captain. Her voice was in an unknown accent, at least not one known to him.

      The captain’s senses started coming to him. He tried reaching for his eyes to rub them, straining to move his arm. He looked up at the arm he tried to move, and found it was bound by a tree branch, protruding from the ground behind him where great trees stood. Separated, all spread away forcibly from his body in restraint. His crew was restrained just like him, arced around this clearing. Before them all stood a woman wearing green fur, hood over her head with glowing blue eyes. Her armor plating was visible under the patterns, and these patterns were clearly of Grizzleheim origin. A local, perhaps?

      “What brought you here?” The woman asked, her tone heated.

      The captain stayed silent, staring the woman directly in the eyes.

      “I know you’re all pirates,” The woman’s tone was unchanging, “I can find where you’re docked.”

      The captain huffed, but remained unspeaking.

      “Sir!” The witchdoctor cried, “This woman’s magic is strong, but I can’t detect the lengths of it, nor counteract it!”

      The woman took out a staff, one that was made from wood, fur, and feathers from another world. It presumably belonged to the witchdoctor. “I have your tools and weapons,” She said, her tone just as heated as it was before, “Resistance is futile. I’d recommend you answer my questions.”

      The captain still refused to speak.

      “Fine,” The woman shook her head, “Have it your way.” She removed and flung a treasure card from her deck, aiming for the captain’s forehead. She canted something in a language the captain didn’t understand or recognize. The spell stopped barely in front of the captain’s face, and went off with a spark. The captain braced, but he didn’t feel any different.

      “Who are you?” The woman asked, just as heated as before.

      “Captain Thomas Warren,” The captain said, unwillingly. His neck craned back in shock, and he recognized the effect of this spell; a truth serum, probably Beguile.

      “Captain Warren,” The woman crossed her arms, “What was your intention here in Grizzleheim, using an entry port outside of Northguard or Hrundle Fjord?”

      “We came to hunt a giant Grendel, take its head, and mount it on my ship,” The captain stated, unwillingly.

      The woman’s face grew angry, matching her vocal tone. She paused, and then asked, anger rising, “Did you think the people of this land would take kindly to this invasion?”

      The captain refused to answer. The spell hadn’t worn off, but there was just no answer his beguiled mind could assemble out of the feelings dredged from his internal depths.

      “You uncaring soul,” The woman shook her head, and the colors of her glowing eyes changed, “You have broken treaties in both Grizzleheim and Grendelwood. You risk sparking a war, and are lucky that I was sent to put a stop to this mess.”

      “Why should we care?” The captain asked. His crew let out panicked hushes.

      Even though her face was obscured, everyone could feel the woman’s scowl. Her eyes now turned into a deep shade of green. Veins, almost like roots, grew across her hood.

      “The fog spreads across your feet,” The woman chanted in a new voice, “The horn cries the name of the forest’s people, the wild and the fae alike. They have found their new prey.”

      In the little clearing where roots had taken the pirate crew, a thick fog started forming on the ground.

      “The forest will decide who is allowed to leave,” The woman said, “One of you will be set free. For those who remain, may you rest in peace as your corpses are covered in moss as the earth reclaims you.”

      The ground beneath the captain rumbled and quaked. It cracked so much, a vein in the earth opened up under all five of the pirates, emitting a gas from directly beneath them. Between struggles and screams, the captain focused. He made attempts to struggle against the roots, which pushed back against him twice as hard. He kept pushing, but the roots only pushed back against him. His waning attempts to struggle only grew weaker and weaker, and soon he grew too tired. His consciousness faded once more.

      The Theurgist named Breana FogHorn walked down the path leading northeast from Webwood to Draugarth Fort, carrying the unconscious body of Captain Warren’s swashbuckler over her shoulders. Swiftbranch wished her well as she passed, but neither of them exchanged more than a few cordial words.

      She entered Draugarth’s vicinity, and flagged down some grendel darters hiding.

      “What do you want, woman of the golden blade?!” The darters cried, “Here to make the forests do your bidding?”

      Breana dropped the body she was carrying. “This man sought to threaten you,” She said, solemnly, “His people were to do the same. On behalf of Valgard, the Golden Blade, I was sent out here to quell anything that would threaten the fragile peace between Bear, Wolf, Raven, and Grendel alike. I ask that you follow this man to his ship.”

      “And what would you have that interests us?” The grendels hissed.

      Breana opened a satchel to reveal sweet berries. One of the darters immediately scurried over, and accepted the berries directly from her hand. Others followed, and their rumbling indicated that they would agree- though tentative.

      “After you’re done following him, you are free to do whatever you please with the ship and its crew,” Breana said, “Mother Grendel will decide what to do with the people, but the treasures aboard are yours."

      The grendels before Breana chuffled, and took the bag of berries from her hand. Soon, more grendels gathered. "We will watch the pirate’s return, and raid his ship!" One of them said, "And if more come?"

      "That won't happen," Breana said sternly, dug around in her bag, and handed a dagger to the grendels. "Builder bears from Northguard will come to dismantle the dock. I ask that you plant trees in their footsteps as they leave."

      The biggest grendel of the pack took the dagger. "And what of this implement?" He asked.

      "To show that you do no harm," She said, "It's an athame that they know is mine, and a sign that they can trust you to guide them to their task." She pointed to the south. "After they complete their task, and you complete yours, one Grendel will take the dagger back to Northguard. You will place it on a stump by their watchtower outside of the forest. These are the terms I set to ensure that no harm comes to bearkind or grendelkind."

      The Grendels acknowledged the terms in varying ways, but most, if not all were in agreement. They’d get plenty out of this, more than the bears would! As long as the bears did no harm, and left as they’d entered, then all would be well.

      As the grendels decided how to proceed, Breana left. She headed back for Savarstaad Pass, and then to Northguard from there.

      After she passed through Webwood, careful not to upset the imps or spiders, Breana heard a rumbling from ahead. That was the wrong direction for grendels, and it sounded like heavier steps than spiders. She narrowed her eyes, shaded them with her hand, and saw a wolf in a scout’s uniform charging directly at her.

      Breana crouched as the wolf charged, leaped into the air when it was a few meters away, and then landed on the wolf’s back. The wolf yowled and came to a stop, “Not so hard!”

      “Couldn’t tell if you were friendly!” Breana chuckled, and dismounted from the wolf, “What’s going on, Eileifr?”

      “Bjorn’s called you back,” The wolf named Eileifr said, “Are you done out here?”

      “Yes, and there's a need for a team of bears out here,” Breana said, “I need to talk to Bjorn anyway.”

      “And a team of builders to… unbuild ship docks?” Bjorn mused over what Breana had told him, “We can establish a-”

      “That’s in the middle of Grendel territory?” Breana crossed her arms, “They’ll cooperate long enough for you to take it down, and they’ll hide where it was built as if it never happened.” She started pacing, “Think about the problems of establishing a dock or a new village in the middle of Grendel territory, unwelcome,” Breana continued, “This would exacerbate the hostile tension between not only the Grendels, but the Boars.”

      “I see,” Bjorn ran his claws through the fur on his chin, “And what about the builders? How will you know they’ll be protected?”

      “I don’t,” Breana said, “But the grendels are willing to let them step foot to deconstruct the dock, and then leave. They have a blunted dagger of mine as a sign of trust, and I hope it’s enough.”

      “And what about the spiders and boars? How do we handle either one of them?” Bjorn asked, “If they think we’re staging an attack on either of their territories, then those workers’ lives will be at risk.”

      “Send a few warriors to guard Grendel territory, but never step foot in it,” Breana answered, “It’s not the warriors who are to be trusted, it’s the builders.”

      “Got it,” Bjorn lowered his paws from his face, and picked up his shield again, “I’ll make some arrangements, and the detachment will be sent out tomorrow.”

      “Thank you, Bjorn,” Breana said, holding out her hand to shake.

      Bjorn accepted the handshake. “You’re welcome, Breana. Thank you for keeping the peace.”

      “On behalf of the council of light, you are welcome,” Breana said, and took her hand away from the shake, “On a separate note, you asked for me back?”

      “Yes,” Bjorn nodded, “An energetic young woman named Ayana came from the Spiral gate, asking for you. She said that Yvonne from the Arcanum sent her to come get you.”

      “Really?” Breana tilted her head, “I’m familiar with both those names, but they came here?”

      “Yes,” Bjorn replied, “Ms Ayana made the request seemed urgent, so I sent Eileifr to get you.”

      “Wonder what’s got her in a tizzy,” Breana mused, “I’ll go check with her.”

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      Breana FogHorn (She/her) is a theurgist recruited by the Council of Light straight from Ravenwood's graduation ceremony. She's very direct, generally defensive, and her problem solving skills focusing on staying the course to be amicable with all parties. Doesn't focus nearly as much on recreation as she does peacekeeping.

      Chapter 3 will be posted as soon as I'm done editing it.

      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 7-28-23 at 4:23:19 PM.
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

    4. #4
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      Re: Reunion - Chapter 3

      Chapter 3 is fairly short, and was easy enough to edit. Unfortunately, due to a name change being... well, changed, this one was fairly easy to edit IMO. Not the strongest chapter, but it's here, and it's enough.

      Without further ado; Chapter 3

      Yvonne entered MooShu through the spiral door. She hadn’t been to the world in a long time. This was where her cousin Reidan’s last known location was, and Yvonne had ideas on where to find her. She assumed it would be an unfortunate long journey ahead, knowing Reidan.

      First, she tried talking to Su Lee and Xun Zhao, neither of whom knew Reidan by that new name. They referred Yvonne instead to talk to the Jade Champion. Yvonne thanked them, and went out the door and up the road.

      Yvonne strolled through the Imperial Palace’s streets, observing the hustle and bustle of the late afternoon. Much had changed since the Cabalist crisis began, and Mooshu was virtually untouched, even with Yoshihito’s involvement as a part of the Council of Light.

      Yvonne took the stone path around the Great Moodha statue, and avoided Ryoshi. He would inevitably strike up a conversation about fishing if Yvonne got close, and she only wanted to take the shortest route that didn’t end with her in water. When she climbed the stairs to the Jade Palace, she was stopped by Noboru Akitame.

      “State your business, Ms DarkSlinger,” Noboru held his left hand up in a stop signal, his offhand on his sword.

      “It’s BlightWeaver now,” Yvonne corrected, “Yvonne BlightWeaver.”

      “Apologies, Ms BlightWeaver,” Akitame apologized, and followed, “Please state your business.”

      “I am searching for Reidan HydroWarden, formerly Rachel StormSword,” Yvonne stated plainly, “I am here to speak with the Jade Champion, and possibly Emperor Yoshihito, for recommendations on how to track her down.”

      “I do not believe you have an appointment,” Akitame said, “You may speak with the Jade Champion, but you will only speak to Emperor Yoshihito at the Champion’s discretion.” He stepped aside, allowing Yvonne to enter.

      Yvonne nodded respectfully. “Thank you, Akitame.”

      Akitame said nothing in response. Yvonne proceeded into the Jade Palace.

      The doors stood at less than twice her height in the years since she was last here. “It’s really been that long,” Yvonne thought, observing. She opened the doors, proceeded into the Jade Palace, and was greeted by the Jade Champion, who looked as if he’d never aged a day. The Jade Champion gave a formal bow. “Ms-”

      “BlightWeaver,” Yvonne answered, and returned the bow.

      "Yes," the Jade Champion continued, "Ms BlightWeaver. What brings you to the Palace today?"

      "I came to look for my cousin, Reidan," Yvonne replied, "her last known location was somewhere here, in MooShu."

      "Alas, Ms BlightWeaver, I do not know where she could be," the Jade Champion replied, "The emperor would probably know."

      "Is he available?" Yvonne asked.

      The Jade Champion stepped aside, flourishing his arm as to indicate for Yvonne to proceed up the steps. She bowed her head in respect, and the Jade Champion returned the bow as Yvonne trotted up the ramp to the emperor's throne.

      She heard the sounds of sword fighting. She knew this could be in trouble, so she grabbed her hand ax off her belt and summoned Malduit. Yvonne and her minion nodded to each other, and the pair charged up the ramp. They came to a stop as soon as they could assess the situation.

      Emperor Yoshihito held his guard against the great Jade Oni. The Oni's sword came down against the emperor's blade, to which the emperor used the leverage of his position to riposte, and then disarm the Oni. The Oni's blade flew off into a corner of the arena, and the Oni collapsed under its own weight.

      Yoshihito stood up and wiped the dust off his yukata. He looked up, and nodded to Yvonne and Malduit. "Necromancer," He greeted.

      "Emperor," Yvonne replied.

      The Jade Oni audibly attempted to get up, whining as it did. Emperor Yoshihito responded with a slash of his still drawn-sword, cutting the demon into ash as it burned away- dispelling, only to be fought again when he was to be summoned.

      "What brings you here?" Yoshihito asked.

      "My Cousin," Yvonne said, "I need to find her."

      "Ah yes, one moment," Yoshihito closed his eyes, concentrating for a moment.

      "What is he doing, master?" Malduit asked.

      Yvonne shrugged.

      "The Tree of Life," Yoshihito said, "Reidan is currently in the ascendant realm linked to the Tree of Life."

      Yvonne nodded. "Searching a plane he has inherent access to," She answered Malduit's question.

      "Yes," Yoshihito said, "It is indeed unusual to outsiders, but it's an easy enough thing to do for me." He sheathed his sword, "You will need someone who can access the plane. I will help you do that."

      Yvonne and Malduit nodded. They heard armor moving behind them, and panting as the Jade Champion came to a stop. "But your imperial majesty!" The Jade Champion cried, "It's dangerous-"

      Yoshihito scoffed. "The Necromancer will protect me."

      The Jade Champion held his jaw agape, and looked towards Yvonne in shock. Yvonne simply shrugged.

      Yvonne and Emperor Yoshihito were conversing the way from the Jade Palace to Yoshihito Temple. The temple was named in honor of the emperor’s father, presumably. That wasn’t the subject, however. Yoshihito knew the importance of family, but was still wondering why Yvonne was coming to get her cousin.

      "And she's the reason you seek Reidan?" Yoshihito asked.

      Yvonne nodded. "She wants to see us all as her true self, all at once."

      Yoshihito nodded. "Although I do not understand, this is important to her. I will see to it that any documentation we have on her is changed immediately." Yoshihito turned to Yvonne, "What is her name now?"

      Yvonne looked away and rubbed her arm, embarrassed. "I… don't know," she replied, ashamed.

      "Hrm," Yoshihito huffed, "Did you not ask?” His tone was rather serious and assuming.

      "I did!" Yvonne panicked, "I did, I swear! She never answered!"

      Yoshihito laughed. "Maybe she's waiting for the full reveal!" He guffawed, clearly in good fun. Yvonne had turned as pink as a cherry blossom leaf.

      The pair had now arrived at the Tree of Life. Emperor Yoshihito drew his second sword, and carved a circle in the air before the tree. "This draws from energy in the area," he said, "And the Tree of Life will support one teleport through-" He sidestepped, and presented a newly opened portal to Yvonne, "She is yours to speak with, Ms BlightWeaver."

      After breathing a bit, Yvonne summoned Malduit again. She left the card in Yoshihito's possession. "If anything happens, Malduit will protect you for me."

      "Worry not," Yoshihito said, "Reidan will hear my cries if a sword is drawn against me."

      Yvonne shook her head. "It's not that I'm worried about."

      "I will be fine," Yoshihito reassured, "Trust me. I would not be emperor otherwise."

      Yvonne gave an uneasy look, but she knew Yoshihito would be insistent. She leaped through the portal.

      The region of the realm where Yvonne had landed was pitch black, even after her eyes had time to adjust. The realm wasn’t silent, however. She could hear a low hum, but couldn't hear the sound of her own footsteps. "Reidan?" She called out.

      The realm seemed to respond, firing up sconces on either side of a pathway that extended to a platform, almost altar-like, where a woman dressed in red shinobu garb sat, sword laid before her. Her eyes seemed as if she hadn’t slept the whole time she was here.

      Yvonne hummed instinctively, nervously. She walked forward towards the woman, recognizing her outfit and visage. It was Reidan.

      "It feels as if it’s only been five minutes in this realm," Reidan said, "How long has it been out there?"

      "Years," Yvonne said. "And where were you for any of it?" She thought

      Reidan nodded, acknowledging both what Yvonne said and did not say. "Private thoughts are nothing in this realm," She said calmly, "Those who tap into the energy of this plane of existence can perceive beyond the senses."

      Yvonne froze up.

      "You're here for me," Reidan said, "But why, cousin?" She tilted her head like a curious cat.

      Yvonne didn't reply, nervously. She thought of why she came in the first place.

      "So it's my cousin, and your older brother, Mark, isn't it?" Reiden asked.

      Yvonne nodded.

      "Only he is no longer your brother, she is now your sister?" Reiden asked.

      Yvonne nodded again.

      "I see," Reiden mused, "And she hasn't told you her name."

      Yvonne shook her head.

      Reiden tipped her head so the brim of her hat obscured her eyes. "Then to the Arcanum we will go," She said, "But let's get Yoshihito home first, shall we?"

      Yvonne's eyes lit up with surprise. "You mean you know he's here?!" She exclaimed.

      "His presence is unmistakable," Reidan smiled warmly, "Let's return." She stood up, drawing the sword and picking up the sheath. She drew a symbol of lightning, and a portal to the Garden of the Tree of Life opened up. "Come," Reidan said, "this portal will support us both."

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      Once Rachel StormSword, Reidan HydroWarden (She/Her) devoted some time to studying Shadow Magic further after the team fell apart. She took that knowledge, and meditated on what she learned. She has changed, valuing the members of her team more closely, taking measures in ways she knows how.

      Chapter 4 will be an interlude, of sorts, and will be posted when it's ready.
      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 7-28-23 at 4:24:00 PM.
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

    5. #5
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      Re: Reunion - Chapter 4

      Chapter 4 was one I'd made several passes on already, and it's pretty well complete. It's an interlude, of sorts.

      Harmony SorrowSinger's updated bio will be at the end of this chapter.

      Perspectives will shift constantly through this, just as a heads up.

      Reidan led the way through the portal into the Arcanum, Yvonne followed behind. When the door was shut, Reidan was ambushed by a hug from a very speedy little Conjurer.

      "Reidan!" Ayana exclaimed, tightly clutching the Diviner, "It's been so long!"

      "Indeed it has, Ayana," Reidan said, "I want to know what you've learned-"

      "Later!" Ayana interrupted energetically, "I need to head for Polaris!"

      "Later then!" Reidan replied, smiling warmly, "It'll be good to see your progress, that’s all!"

      Ayana nodded, then ran and pecked Yvonne on the cheek. "Gotta run!" She darted through the Spiral Door to Polaris.

      Yvonne shook her head, slightly embarrassed, and said nothing. She turned to Reidan, whose jaw was hanging slightly open with surprise. "Did she-"

      "Yes," Yvonne said.

      Reidan pointed, alternating between Yvonne and the door, "Are you-"

      "Yes," Yvonne replied.

      "And how-"

      "We're a year apart," Yvonne said, "I was the youngest of the team, remember?"

      "Right," Reidan acknowledged, "I just didn't expect you, of all-"

      "Cut it." Breana said, walking from the panopticon, "Don't say something you'll regret."

      Reidan looked up at Breana, who towered over her, and laughed. "I'm the same way, ma'am!"

      Breana was totally defused by that. "Ain't there anyone here who likes men?"

      Fitzhume coughed to get Breana’s attention.

      "Yes Fitzhume, we all know about you," Breana snapped.

      Yvonne fell to the floor now, laughing. Reidan crossed her arms and shook her head. Breana became flustered, and failed to recover from the situation.

      “You are clearly new to the team,” Reidan said, “Let’s go talk over dinner, hmm?”

      “You’re telling me you came all the way from Zamunda,” Elijah RedThistle expressed his surprise, “To Marleybone, specifically for a healing salve and not for a doctor?”

      “Yes,” The Zebra woman said, “We are having issues getting supplies from Stone Town. Queen Amahle AutumnRain told of a doctor in Marleybone who was familiar with the ways of our healing.”

      “Outside of magic, I am indeed familiar,” Elijah nodded. He opened a cabinet, took out a tub, and placed it in front of the woman. “Some of these methods surpass what doctors here in Marleybone know, and I’ve traveled the Spiral to learn what other lands do.” His hands started glowing, and he focused in on the powers surrounding his hands. After a few moments, his hands stopped glowing, he patted the lid of the jar, and handed it off to the Zebra.

      “Thank you, Dr RedThistle,” The Zebra woman said, “How much do I owe you?”

      “No charge,” Elijah said, “Spent enough time between cities in Zafaria to know how much this helps. I’d rather save lives than gouge your gold.”

      The Zebra woman smiled. “Thank you, again.” She took the jar, put it in her bag, and left the hospital.

      Elijah smiled towards the woman as she left, and he got back to work. He was on duty in the pharmacy today at St. Basset’s Hospital, so he was going down the checklists between periodic customers. Many names would be unrecognizable to anyone but him, or any other appropriately trained nurse, practitioner, or doctor on duty.

      He set the cart and double checked it. Everything was set, but before he could start his rounds, he was stopped by one of the experienced nurses.

      “Elijah, have you had your break yet?” The nurse asked.

      “Been a bit busy for that,” Elijah replied.

      “Go on your break,” The nurse said, “You’ve been going non-stop, and we’ve hit a lull for a bit. Why don’t you have your lunch?”

      Elijah shrugged. He knew this nurse, she’d be insistent. “Sure,” he said, “Can you do the rounds for me then?”

      The nurse nodded. “Go, eat lunch!”

      Elijah gave the nurse the key to the pharmacy, and went for his break. He stopped by his lockers to get his lunch, and then went upstairs to the roof of the hospital.

      It was windy atop the roof. Nothing terrible, but it was a light breeze. Elijah sat down on a lone bench in the middle of the roof, and set down and unwrapped the pack of lunch that was wrapped gently in cloth. Nothing special, it was something simple that he made on his own.

      "Is the other seat taken?" A woman's voice asked.

      "No," Elijah answered instinctively, scooching his lunch closer to him, "come sit, miss!" He paid closer attention to his lunch assembly as the woman sat down, but only looked up when the woman offered a hand with a cookie in it. Elijah looked up, noting someone familiar in guardian's armor.

      "Oh my god!" He exclaimed, and hugged the woman, "It's been so long!"

      "Yes it has!" The woman returned the hug, "How've you been, Elijah?"

      "Busy, but fine," Elijah said, "You look wonderful! I'm glad it all worked out!"

      The woman giggled.

      "Did you figure out your name?" Elijah asked.

      "Because it doesn't have to be consistent?" Harmony was a little surprised, questioning their choice of name.

      "It just seems strange to me," Ayana crossed her arms, "like, if you're non-binary, wouldn't you want a more neutral name?"

      Harmony rolled her eyes, shook her head, and unlocked the spiral door to the Arcanum. "Not always," Harmony replied, "besides, Harmony was a better name than Alexis was for me." She opened the door and held it for Ayana.

      “Hmm,” Ayana mused, and walked through the door.

      Yvonne immediately hugged Ayana as she came in. “Glad you’re back safe!” She exclaimed.

      Ayana, surprised, hugged Yvonne back. “Are you ready to go back out?”

      “Nah,” Yvonne shook her head, releasing Ayana from her arms, “It’s late.”

      “Good,” Ayana stretched and let out a massive yawn, “I’m tired.”

      Yvonne nodded. “Let’s head for bed then.” Yvonne and Ayana said their goodnights, and went off to their room.

      “So how long will you be in Marleybone?” Elijah asked, and took a bite of his lunch after.

      “A week,” The woman said, “And then duty calls, I’m headed back to Karamelle on behalf of the Arcanum. Just need to make sure some loose ends are tied.”

      “Anywhere I can see you?” Elijah asked.

      The woman hastily scribbled, then gave Elijah an index card with her written plans for the next few days.

      Elijah nodded. “I’ll be off tomorrow and the day after, so I’ll see you-”

      The pair was interrupted by the hospital roof door slamming open, and two burly dogs and a cat armed with wrenches and pipes came out. “Awe,” One said, “What’s a little wench doin’ up here with the doctor?”

      The woman stood up, and turned to face the ruffians. “Leaving,” She said, “Peacefully.”

      “That ain’t happening,” The ruffian said, “Drop yer purse, kick it over, then we’ll letcha.”

      Elijah pulled out his P.H.O.N.E., dialed a number, and continued to eat his lunch.

      “Fine,” The woman threw a card on the floor. Subsequently, the spell activated, spreading a field with shades of red and tan all across the roof. The arena now smelled of something sun-kissed, and the woman began chanting under her breath.

      The ruffians panicked. “What’s she doing?” One said to his companion.

      “I dunno!” The second shook his head rapidly

      “She’s a spell slinger!” The third yelled, “Get ‘er before she can cast!” He charged.

      The woman continued her chant as the dog charged. The dog raised his weapon, ready for it to come down on the woman from above, when he was knocked back by a blast of fire. He yowled, and skittered back towards his companions on his back.

      “You witch!” The first one yelled, “Come on, Barry!” He and his companion charged in tow.

      The woman smirked, tossing cards on the ground. The Lady of Judgement appeared, then another. As the ruffians charged, they lost their footing and fell, hitting brass with their chins. They felt themselves being lifted off the ground, and steadied themselves on their feet again.

      “Who believes they are truly righteous while robbing an innocent woman?” The woman said, opening her spellbook, “Ammit would truly be appalled!” She threw her arms out, tossing a feather opposite on the scale where the pair of ruffians stood.

      “Do you know stories of Krokotopian legend?" The woman asked, "the stories of final judgment?"

      The ruffians started to panic, and looked desperately around for a way to escape. One tried charging off the end of the scale, only to rebound against the barrier, and collapse back on the scale. They were truly trapped.

      "Because this balance is not in your favor," the woman said.

      The feather finally landed on the opposite scale. When it did, the scale the ruffians were on lowered. The ladies of judgment rang their scale bells, and a harsh tone of resonant energy struck the ruffians. The ruffians collapsed, covering their ears, but fell unconscious to the sheer force of energy being inflicted upon them.

      When the magic was dismissed, the ruffians were all laid out. The one still conscious stared helplessly at the woman who had just effortlessly cut through his little gang's ranks, and could only breathe heavily through the sheer force of exhaustion.

      The door slammed open again, the trio of Marleybone Police officers burst through, nightsticks in hand. They quickly assessed the situation, and put their nightsticks on their belts. "You sure made our jobs easier," One said to the woman.

      "She hasn't lost her touch," Elijah stood up, lunch now eaten and packed, "All these years, and she's still slapping things silly." He patted the woman's back.

      The woman nodded, and made her way past the officers.

      A new morning, so to speak, and Harmony, Breana, and Reidan had worked to make a nice breakfast to start the day. They conversed through making and eating the meal.

      "So what's your story?" Reidan asked Breana.

      "I was one of Ambrose's picks from my class," Breana replied, "And offered a role as a liaison between the Council of Light and allied worlds. I'm basically cleaning up messes for people."

      "I'm well familiar with that role," Reidan offered a friendly smile.

      "You know how contentious it can be then," Breana continued, "Like advising Bjorn IronClaws that tryin' to build a civilian dock in hostile territory's just waiting for a cry for war." Her unusual accent started to seep into her speech, "Tryin' to make a reasonable deal with fae o' diff'rent worlds is already difficult enough."

      "Psst," Harmony nudged, "Your southern drawl's seeping in."

      "I know," Breana sniped, "I ain't out there right now. Don't think I need to be professional!"

      Harmony tried to send further, less subtle signals, but they went ignored by Breana. Reidan sipped her tea, amused by this social scuffle going on in front of her.

      "So who's the one missing?" Reidan finally asked when the argument died down.

      "Her name is Octavia," Harmony said, "We stumbled on her in Khrysalis, and she was recommended by Zaltanna afterwards."

      "Oh, is she a mantis?" Reidan asked.

      "No," Breana crossed her arms, "Human."

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      Harmony SorrowSinger (they/them) is the definition of "cheerful nihilism." Misery loves company, and they're the happiest unfortunate soul you'll ever meet. As long as they can play their music, they'll be happy.

      Octavia RoseKeeper will be introduced in the next chapter. It may be a bit longer because I have to rewrite a part of it, but as with before, chapter 5 will be here when I'm finished editing it.

      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 8-3-23 at 4:41:28 PM. Reason: PRONOUNS. hecc.
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

    6. #6
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      Re: Reunion - Chapter 5

      Octavia has been a wonderful character to write. This chapter has honestly been the most fun, even if it's difficult to describe combat. I did my best here- I would ask that criticisms be saved until after this story is complete, there are two chapters after this one.

      Also, if you see some qualities of a certain Hoyoverse character, that was unintended but she fits too.

      In a time before now, the Human and former conscript of the Shadow Queen, Octavia RoseKeeper was once a lone human among an interspecies squad of rebels, under Cornelius’ command. The squad consisted of herself, a blind Mantis named Zilkos the PowderEyes, a Goliath who specialized in Fire named Pykalak, a nameless Burrower, and a drone named Nezzric. These five, together, were called The Exterminators.

      Their final target as a team was Kytheks, a Goliath with distinctive red and silver stripes. He was a low-level agent while Morganthe was still alive. After the war, he roused many agents

      One by one, her allies were killed. Zilkos was first, the sands of the Khonda Desert showed no mercy as she grew dehydrated, and her corpse was sustenance for Kytheks. The nameless Burrower was next, having drowned when Kytheks’ magic flooded the ground he was burrowing in for a night’s rest. Nezzric would be shot out of the sky while scouting, his stinger and wings having been hit, and he withered away and died two days later. Lastly, Pykalak was washed away during his last trip to Crescent Beach, having disappeared under mysterious circumstances, until his body was discovered weeks later- petrified from the cold waters.

      Octavia was there for each and everyone one of them- in life, and was there when they all died or were found dead. Each of them killed by Kytheks and his agents. He had to die.

      Through Cornelius, now revealed to be Zaltanna the MirrorMask, Octavia had learned the Agent Kytheks was traveling from Sardonyx to Fort Rachias, intending to try to undermine the work that had already been done by the Council of Light to liberate this world. He wasn’t alone in these acts, so this would proverbially be cutting the head off the hydra. But Zaltanna knew how important it was for Octavia to find him, and do unto him what he did to her people.

      This was Octavia’s chance.

      Keeping a lookout with what little sleep she got, rarely using so much as a telescope to avoid compromising her position, Octavia saw the ship he was supposedly on. It was a cargo ship, one that would presumably be bringing supplies to Bastion. Mantises, Hundred-Leggers, and Hoppers worked together to unload the ship, a unity not seen in years.

      And then, she spotted him, slipping away from the other side of the ship. Kytheks, a Goliath, one with unique red and silver stripes going up and down his arms, and across his head like a toque.

      Octavia drew a hand from her deck of cards. She was inexperienced with the magics of Ravenwood or the Shadow Queen, but she’d been taught much in her short time on the side of the Light. Her first hand contained a Snow Angel, a mysterious figure on the back of a pegasus. She appreciated this spell for its effects, but knowing it would be an instantaneous effect, she held off on using it or any of her other spells. She put the hand of cards aside, and held up a small, marked flag for a moment.

      “Wind’s going at 17 knots,” Octavia said to herself, “Nezzrick, if you were here, you’d be the one saying that.” She armed the oversized arbalest mounted where she was camped, in a tower within Fort Rachias, high up enough to pierce the obstructions of cliffs, and see the shores of Crescent Beach. She placed the bolt tied to a rope, adjusted where it was placed to lead her shot, but waited to fire.

      Octavia ran back to the other end of the tower, where the rope was anchored on the structure. This was nearly a mile of rope she’d knotted together, and it would take her down reliably if she was careful. It just had to survive this landing.

      Octavia ran back to the arbalest, and cast her Snow Angel spell. It formed, standing on the arbalest, waiting.

      Octavia double checked where the irons were aimed, checked the wind speed and direction once more, then pulled the trigger near to the mechanism’s completion, and took cover away from the arbalest with her hands covering her ears. The arbalest fired with a loud crack, and the rope whipped as it trailed off into the distance. Octavia stood up, watching the carnage as it landed through the irons.

      In speed with the bolt, the Snow Angel descended upon Crescent Beach, leaving a frosty fog in its wake as the hooves of the pegasus galloped downwind. With the grace of a mantis, Octavia picked up her swords, and sprinted down the rope to catch up.

      The girls remained asleep after Reidan, Breana, and Harmony finished their breakfast. After an hour of waiting, Reidan took the initiative. “We ought to go find Octavia,” She said, “Knowing Yvonne, she’s probably been pushing herself again.”

      Harmony agreed. “And with Ayana’s energy pushing Yvonne past her limits…”

      “Necromancy ain’t a substitute for sleep,” Breana shook her head, “Seen it time and time again, people pushing themselves into states of delirium. I don’t wanna subject her to that.”

      “Yes, that was the point,” Reidan said in a friendly, affirming tone of voice. She filed through her keyring and pulled out the key to Khrysalis, listening to Breana’s vague mutterings as she unlocked the door.

      "Oh wait, I like doing this," Harmony shoved their way through, placed their foot on the edge of the doorway, and tilted forward a perfect 90° to a standing position in Bastion, beyond the still unrepaired Spiral Door of Khrysalis. "Ta-da!" They declared.

      A slow clap of a familiar Mantis Commander sounded adjacent from where Harmony stood. "Impressive," Zaltanna the MirrorMask uttered sarcastically, "Like I haven't seen that millions of times from other wizards."

      Harmony shrugged. "What can I say?" They shrugged and smirked with an air of confidence, "I like flourishing."

      Zaltanna chittered and clicked a seemingly untranslatable series of tones from her mandibles. "Who's the new Theurgist?" She asked.

      Breana got out of the portal in one swift motion, landing prone on the ground. "Breana FogHorn," She answered as she stood up, "Just keeping company."

      Zaltanna chittered less than satisfied. "Why are you here?"

      "We're looking for Octavia of the White Rose," Reidan said, climbing out of the spiral gate.

      Zaltanna chittered a bit more, and held up one of her fingers to indicate the party should wait.

      “Finally,” Octavia declared into a cave, “I have you cornered.”

      Kytheks chittered and clattered. “I remember you, spellbinder,” He said, turning from the wall of the cave he’d just ran into, “I remember your comrades too.”

      “I swore an oath when I returned to Khrysalis,” Octavia continued, “I’d uphold her defense. I swore that with my allies, my brothers and sisters, and I won’t break that promise.”

      “Swore on their graves?” Kytheks chittered confidently, “You will join them soon. My treat.”

      “Then in their memory,” Octavia’s eyes narrowed. She raised her broadsword forward, steadied it by grabbing the guard with her offhand, and it clicked.

      Kytheks readied himself for combat.

      “Vengeance will be mine.” Octavia uttered, and charged into the cave.

      Her sword forward, Octavia attempted to drive the point of her blade into the Goliath’s body. Kytheks countered, and Octavia leaped back. In riposte, Kytheks bound forward towards his attacker, swinging his talons down against his aggressor. Octavia dodged to the side, and the Goliath’s talons were driven into the sand. Octavia saw an opening, and swung her broadsword into the Goliath’s back. The Goliath recoiled in pain, and wildly swung its arm into Octavia. Both Octavia and her sword went flying into the cave ceiling.

      Octavia used her gauntlets and armor to pad the impact against the ceiling and wall. Her broadsword separated, she redrew her Blade of Fallen Azteca, and landed with both feet on the ground, sword readied in her right hand. She looked up.

      The Goliath charged at Octavia, arms held in front of him. She rolled to the side, letting the Goliath slam into the wall. The earth around the two quaked, and rocks, sand, and dust fell around the two.

      “RoseKeeper,” An agent on Octavia’s handset hailed, “Status?”

      Octavia clicked the on button, and yelled “Engaged!” into the speaker. She bounced off the cave wall and attempted to charge again at the Goliath. Kytheks avoided the attack, and countered, swinging its arm in a sweeping motion, knocking Octavia across the cave. This time, she couldn’t recover, and landed face-down in the sand. Kytheks skittered out of the cave in a panic.

      Octavia breathed heavily. That first strike wasn’t terrible, but this one knocked the wind out of her. She knew doing what she was doing was risky. She slowly picked herself up, found her Blade of Fallen Azteca, resheathed it, and picked up her broadsword again.

      “Backup is en route!” The agent hailed over the radio.

      “Negative,” Octavia muttered to herself, “If I die, I die.” She steadied her sword for a charge again, and ran out of the cave. The Goliath was ready this time, and in a sweeping motion harder than before, knocked Octavia down the beach.

      Octavia couldn’t catch herself, and tumbled through the sand. She only stopped when her lower half slammed in the water. She was hurting, and now she couldn’t move. “Is this truly the end?” She thought to herself.

      Off in the distance, a familiar guitar riff played. Kytheks was distracted by it, and Octavia attempted to see what it was. She looked up, and saw a blurry figure at the top of the hill that led to Fort Rachias. In her state, she couldn’t identify who that could be. It was now that Octavia began to feel the cold water seep away at what little body heat she had.

      Octavia spent what was presumably to be her final moments looking up at the figure, who clearly distracted the Goliath, continue playing their solo performance. She watched as the figure played an aggressive strum, and sparks flew out from their position. They hit the Goliath, and it became briefly paralyzed.

      “With me!” A familiar voice ordered. Two more figures that glowed a warm green and defiant purple respectively, alongside something large, brown, and furry, charged straight into the Goliath. The Goliath flew across Crescent Beach, slamming against the fragile cliff of Skull Rock. A section of the skull broke off, and pinned the Goliath deep into the sand. It flailed, panicking, trying to get out.

      The figure, alongside the big furry thing, ran to Octavia. “Get up!” A familiar woman’s voice shouted, and lifted Octavia by the shoulders and onto her feet. Octavia felt a rush of adrenaline, feeling regenerating effects from a spell. As her vision was restored, she saw Breana FogHorn in front of her, a Forest Lord yeti backing her up, Reidan with her sword drawn in a defensive position, and witnessed the dismissal of a representation of Bartleby in spell form.

      “Feeling better?” Breana asked.

      “Yeah,” Octavia replied, “You didn’t have to come.”

      “And lose our defending rock?” Reidan shouted, throwing an Elemental Blade treasure card to Octavia. The treasure card burned into magical ash, and three magical swords circled around Octavia.

      Octavia walked away from Breana, and drew her sword. She threw the top card from her deck out into the sky, and a snow angel descended from the sky. The pegasus walked slowly behind Octavia, approaching the trapped Goliath.

      Kytheks now mere feet away from Octavia, the warrior raised her sword. The cold fog from the Snow Angel spread, frost permeated the sand, seeping into the Goliath’s carapice. He shivered, parts that were submerged in the sand froze completely, and what parts that weren’t twitched as his body heat was sapped.

      “As I said,” Octavia declared, “In the memory of my people,” She raised her sword above her head, “Vengeance will be mine.”

      Zaltanna took the rock with the red stripe, examined it, and even tossed it a couple inches out of her hands. She examined the distinctive red stripe, and some parts where it appeared features of the rock had either fallen off or were torn off. She chittered with approval.

      “Excellent work, Octavia,” Zaltanna said, “I will send this for processing. In the meantime, your leave is approved.”

      “Leave?” Octavia asked, “What leave?”

      Zaltanna ignored the question, and took the rock elsewhere.

      Octavia turned to the rest of the group. “What leave?”

      “Remember how I talked about my cousin?” Reidan asked, “The sorcerer?”

      Octavia nodded. “Yes, why?”

      Name:  Photo Khrysalis-Kondha Desert-2023-07-27-01-54-01.jpg
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      Octavia RoseKeeper (She/Her) is a Thaumaturge who learned magic very late in life. She's a veteran of the Khrysalian wars, being a part of a cross-species pack of sweepers called "The Exterminators." After the war was over, she honed her swordsmanship in Avalon, and learned magic of her own accord. She's trying to adjust into civilian life after only knowing the fight for so long.

      Chapter 6 will be posted after I make my second pass through it.
      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 7-31-23 at 11:03:17 AM.
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

    7. #7
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      Re: Reunion - Chapter 6

      Chapter 6 is here. Didn't take much tweaking tbh, though that may show.

      I've edited the top of this thread to add a content warning which I'm going to repeat here.

      CW: This piece contains a depiction of an autistic meltdown in an adult. I wrote this while I was in the middle of a grief-stricken shutdown event, and this was a good outlet for me.
      You may skip this chapter if that's an issue for you, I won't be mad.

      If you feel the need to skip it, then here's a summary in a spoiler. Read this spoiler at your own risk.

      Octavia's injuries called for a delay, ordered by Zander and Breana. Yvonne was upset because of the disrupted plans. Reidan paid for Yvonne's sister to stay in Marleybone for another week.

      And yes, this is the chapter with the garlic bread.

      Without further ado, Chapter 6.

      Ayana poured hot water through the filter, making her second cup of coffee for the day. She’d already prepared another for Yvonne, and mixed it just the way she liked. Teaspoon of sugar, and with some warm milk. She called it an “unsteamed misto,” whatever that means.

      When the last drops came down through the filter, Ayana threw the grounds in the trash tube, and set the pourover in the sink. She put lids on both of the cups of coffee, and started making her way across the arcanum back to hers and Yvonne’s bedroom.

      Walking through the halls, Ayana heard the spiral door open. She heard the voices of her friends, and saw them when she turned the corner. “I’d wave,” She called, “But I got coffee in both hands!”

      “Hey, I could use a warm drink right about now!” Octavia joked.

      “Go make your own!” Ayana stuck her tongue out playfully, and opened the door to hers and Yvonne’s room. The wizards around the spiral gate shared laughter together, while Ayana went into her room and closed the door behind her.

      Ayana set the coffee down, pushed off her shoes, and swapped to some comfy slippers. Iona was fairly pushy about unsafe footwear in the Arcanum. Frankie likes to pinch small appendages, and there’d been enough incidents with sandals that it was easier just to change shoes in dorms. She picked up the coffee, and took it over to the bedside table.

      The room used to look as if no effort was thrown into decorating. When Ayana came into Yvonne’s life, it came with a lot of change. Yvonne had previously used this apartment and all of her floating properties as storage space for various things she’d found throughout her journey. When Ayana was brought into the picture, she took initiative to make at least some of it a liveable space. She’d done a lot of work, including using some downright strange treasures. A notable treasure was a Tricera statue that Yvonne ‘found’, among the collections of an unnamed Marleybonian collector of stuff. The statue now sat off in the edge of the room, looking at the stars.

      Ayana set the coffee on the bedside table beside where Yvonne was sleeping. One of Yvonne's many magical pets, particularly a firecat, immediately curled up around the cup to keep it warm. Ayana set a treat for the firecat down in front of the little guy, and pet his head. The kitty purred.

      "I knew you trained him to do that," Yvonne said, groggily.

      "Yep," Ayana smiled, "You'd sleep for so long, your coffee would get cold."

      Yvonne sat up in the bed and stretched. "I’m afraid that today, I'll have to skip out on coffee,” She said, yawning, “I was planning on setting out soon to go find Octavia."

      "There's no need," Ayana waved her hand as she sat down, "She's already here."


      "I saw her on my way back with the coffee," Ayana answered, "Reidan apparently took the others and got her."

      Yvonne sighed, relieved. “That’s one less thing to worry about.”

      Yvonne and Ayana spent some time together, drinking coffee in their own little alone time. This was something which, if unintentionally, rarely happened.

      “What happened again?” Elijah spoke into his P.H.O.N.E.

      “I’m calling for a delay in the meeting,” Reidan said from the other end of the line, “Octavia suffered an injury in battle, and Breana and Zander are keeping her on observation for a day.”

      “You can bring her here, can’t you?” Elijah asked, “We have beds if she needs to stay.”

      “Cross-world travel is too risky right now,” Zander’s voice resonated in Elijah’s head, “As much as I’d love for her to, it’s completely inadvisable.”

      Elijah shook his head. “Understood. The problem is that she’s only here for a couple more days.” He took a drink of his coffee.

      “I can send along some gold,” Reidan said, “I’ve got coffers filled, and I can comfortably fund a stay for a whole month.”

      Elijah spat and choked on his coffee. He set down his cup through the cough, and slapped his chest until he could catch his breath. “What?!” He shouted and blinked his eyes rapidly, barely seen through his foggy glasses.

      “What?” Reidan asked.

      “You don’t just drop that sort of information so casually!” Elijah shouted.

      “Well, I’m sorry,” Reidan sounded off sarcastically, “I didn’t think that it was so important that I help my cousin, Yvonne’s sister, ensure that we can reunite.”

      Elijah tried to speak again, but started choking instead. He cursed, hacked, and could only get out a single comprehensible utterance. “Rylee!” He cried through chokes, “Take this!” And he tossed the phone over.

      Reidan watched the camera view from her end of the phone flying over to a familiar, yet new person. She recognized her cousin as her face came into focus, but she’d clearly been feminized. She had the look of a woman more than the young man Reidan remembered her as, and she wore the winged Guardian’s outfit with a celestial hat atop her head.

      “Hi…” The woman said, squirming a little because she didn’t know her cousin’s new name.

      “Reidan,” The Diviner said, “I’m Reidan now. And you’re Rylee?”

      Rylee nodded and relaxed a little.

      “It suits you,” Reidan smiled warmly.

      “Thanks,” Rylee replied, her cheeks blushing slightly pink, “I didn’t want anyone to know until you all saw me.”

      “Your secret is safe with me, cousin,” Reidan said, “Just as it was when you first set foot on this journey.”

      Rylee returned Reidan’s smile. “Thank you, Reidan,” She said.

      Reidan nodded. “Did you hear what I said to Elijah?”

      “Yes,” Rylee replied. “Does she need a month?”

      “Hold on,” Reidan turned to someone out of frame, then returned. “No,” She continued, “Zander just wants her on a 24-hour hold, just to make sure she doesn’t have a concussion, or something more imminently wrong.”

      “Okay,” Rylee replied. She was alerted to something off-screen on her end, snapped her fingers, and Reidan could hear Elijah breathing with relief.

      “How long do you want to stay?” Reidan asked.

      “I’m not due back anywhere for a little over a week,” Rylee replied, “So another week should be fine.”

      Reidan nodded, turned, and panned her phone to get Zander in frame. “Zander,” She asked, “Can I get a line into your office?”

      “Of course,” Zander’s voice resonated in both Reidan’s and Rylee’s heads.

      “I’ll slip out to MooShu then,” Reidan began planning, “Make a withdrawal, and head your way. Text me how much you need.”

      Rylee nodded. “See you soon.”

      Reidan nodded back. “See you soon, cousin.” And disconnected the call.

      Looking back at Zander, Reidan collapsed in her chair. “Great Moodha,” She said, “I didn’t think she’d get far. You all did a heck of a job.”

      “It was her, really,” Zander’s voice resonated in Reidan’s head, “Once she crossed the first line, she kept going. She did what she felt was right for her, and was determined to see it to the finish.”

      Reidan leaned her head on her hand, musing. “She’s such a strong woman,” Reidan said quietly. She stood up, planted her magical flag, and teleported away.

      Two days had passed. Yvonne was getting antsy. She hadn’t slept for those two days, her face and behavior showed. She’d normally go without sleep for almost a full week at a time, but being back in the Arcanum with Ayana and the rest of the team gave her more exhaustion than she’d ever had to deal with. She paced around the table by where Cyrio Cassini would normally stand.

      “You okay?” Ayana asked.

      “She would have left by now,” Yvonne cried, rather quietly.

      “Your sister?”

      “Yes!” Yvonne shouted suddenly tears now streaking down her cheeks, “We’d been trying to meet for months now, and this was the only time I could get everyone together, and-”

      “Your sister is still in Marleybone,” Reidan’s voice boomed, “I made sure of it.”

      Yvonne turned suddenly towards Reidan, who now walked down the hall.

      “You went?!” Yvonne squeaked.

      “Yes,” Reidan said, “But I did not see her. I met with Elijah at the Spiral Gate in Wolfminster to deliver the gold.”

      Yvonne paused for a moment, then mouthed some words that bore no sound. Instead, she squeaked a painful and incomprehensible squeak. When she realized this, she sprinted down the hall in a panic. A door then slammed in the distance.

      Ayana looked up at Reidan, confused. “What just happened?” She asked.

      Reidan shook her head. “Try as she might to mask, she’s just like her sister.” Reidan sat down beside Ayana, resting her head on her hand, elbow on the table. “Up late, never sleeping, it does damage.”

      Ayana nodded, but didn’t say anything. Reidan looked up at Ayana, expectantly. “You look as if you want to say something,” Reidan said, “You don’t need my permission to speak.”

      Ayana visibly hesitated.

      “Well?” Reidan was getting a bit annoyed.

      Ayana still paused, feeling pressure.

      “Spit it out!”

      “Should I,” Ayana paused, “Should I go see her?”

      Reidan briefly held her breath, then exhaled. “That was not what I was expecting.”

      Ayana shook her head. “Not at all, ma’am.”

      “I’m not her mother, don’t call me that.” Reidan said, “I’m your teammate- your ally; as much as I am hers too.”

      Ayana paused again.

      Reidan sighed. “She and her-” She paused, “Sister… They always fought each other for control. The two were always contentious.”

      Ayana nodded.

      “You ever wonder why you rarely, if ever, saw them in the same room together?” Reidan asked.

      Ayana shook her head. “No, not really.”

      “Because no matter what it was, they’d compete for the pettiest of things,” Reidan said, “They wanted control. Not over one another, but of their situation.” Her eyes dropped to stare at the table. “And her sister would often flex her age to get what she wanted, and Yvonne felt forced to relent.”

      Ayana nodded again.

      Reidan looked up at Ayana. “That sort of changed when her sister became your benefactor on this team,” Reidan said, “You two, of course, hit it off.”

      “Yeah,” Ayana’s eyes lit up a bit, “I didn’t think we would be a thing when I first started, but here we are.”

      “Mhmm,” Reidan nodded, “And then her sister had her own awakening.”

      Ayana tilted her head. “What do you-” She then realized what Reidan meant, “Oh.”

      Reidan nodded solemnly. “We have to unlearn so much,” She said, “To accept ourselves. I’ve seen it before, I’ve been there before, and sometimes I am still there. By no means is it a linear process.”

      Ayana stared down at the table again.

      “I haven’t seen her melt down like this for years,” Reidan said quietly, concerned.

      After a moment of shared silence, Ayana got up. “I’m going to see her,” She said, “I just want to know if she’s okay.” She ran off.

      Reidan stayed at the table, staring out into the hallway, lost in thought. This situation brought back memories.

      “I heard shouting,” Harmony said, popping their head through a door, “Everything okay?”

      “Yes,” Reidan replied, “Just the old usual.”’

      “Think there’ll be a problem when we’re down there?” Harmony asked, setting a plate of fresh, thick-cut bread down on the table.

      “Doubt it,” Reidan replied, taking a slice of the bread- it was rather greasy. She took a sniff of it. “Garlic?”

      “Yeah, it’s called garlic bread,” Harmony said excitedly, “I learned how to make it when I got sucked into that portal!”

      Reidan eyed the piece of garlic bread suspiciously, and then eyed Harmony suspiciously.

      “Try it!”

      Reidan was hesitant, but she took a bite out of it. It was good. She took another bite, and then another, and soon found she had eaten the whole slice. “It’s nice,” She said, “Comforting.” She thought for a moment, “How much did you make?”

      “There’s another batch in the oven.” Harmony said while chewing on a piece, “Why?”

      “I think Yvonne and Ayana would appreciate this."

      Reidan knocked on Ayana’s and Yvonne’s apartment door, covered tray of warm garlic bread in hand. She waited for a response, but got none for a minute.

      “Ayana?” She called out. Reidan still didn’t receive a reply.

      Reidan got out her P.H.O.N.E. and sent a message to Ayana. “I have comfort food for you and Yvonne.”

      On the other side of the door, Ayana was in bed with Yvonne, giving gentle, soothing comfort under the blankets. Malduit had been summoned, but she was napping high on the second floor. The warmth of another person calmed Yvonne down enough that she had fallen asleep, and Ayana herself was nodding off.

      Ayana received Reidan’s message, and set up an illusive barrier spell- not too dissimilar to Tower Shield, but one to defend from sight rather than a physical object. She knew Yvonne would want privacy, considering the panic she’d been in earlier.

      When the spell was cast, Ayana grabbed her P.H.O.N.E. and replied. “Open the door quietly, put it on the table at the door. Don’t come any further into the room, please.” She then pulled the blankets over Yvonne’s head enough to obscure her, in case the spell wasn’t enough or failed for some odd reason.

      She heard the door open, and closed her eyes to concentrate. She heard Reidan’s breathing patterns, though suppressed, and listened.

      Reidan crept to the table, and set the plate down slowly. Her footwear was quiet enough it was almost noiseless, but having been around Rylee as long as she had, she knew any overstimulating noise could make Yvonne’s own experience worse. She tried to put the tray down carefully, but it was stainless steel on stainless steel, no suppressing noises.

      There was a sudden movement, and Reidan looked up. She stood face-to-face with a Sorrow Seraph, who cast an aura spell that silenced the area around them.

      “Malduit?” Reidan mouthed.

      The Sorrow Seraph nodded. Malduit reached out her hand, placed it on top of the tray’s lid, and gently guided the tray down to the table. It was noiseless in this aura, as was anything in it.

      Reidan let go of the tray as it was set down. She nodded at Malduit, and walked out. Malduit followed to suppress the sounds of Reidan’s footsteps, and the door closed silently behind the Diviner.

      Ayana quietly breathed a sigh of relief. She grabbed her phone, and sent a message to Reidan. “Thx. What’d you bring?”

      “Garlic bread,” Reidan replied, “Harmony’s recipe.”

      Chapter 7 will be the final chapter in this saga. After I finish editing it and its posted, I will work on an audiobook version to upload to YouTube.
      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 8-1-23 at 5:03:36 PM. Reason: formatting, garlic bread
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

    8. #8
      FarTooManyFrogs's Avatar
      FarTooManyFrogs is offline Grandmaster Wizard
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      Re: Reunion - Chapter 7

      It's here. Sooner than I thought.

      Chapter 7 had some cleaning up to do. No CWs for this one, just pure joy.

      A new “morning” in Marleybone’s eternal night. Silence was relative, but the hustle and bustle of the world was dependent on Wolfminster Abbey’s clock. This morning, a Tuesday, it rang first at 8:00am. Rylee’s hotel room was sound-dampening, thankfully. Any off-world travelers would need it.

      Rylee woke up at 8:00, but didn’t get out of bed at 8:30. This was her 10th day in Marleybone, and though she enjoyed the white noise backdrop of the city, it was getting kind of old to her. She’d had lunch every day with Elijah, and that helped her settle into a routine while she was here.

      By 9:30, Rylee had gotten done all her morning care. She learned a lot from Jaki, who was nervous about her own insight on the situation. Rylee had quickly figured out that Jaki gave good care advice for others, but failed to follow it for herself, which was complimentary to her scatterbrained personality.

      Digressions aside, Rylee had to figure out an outfit for the day. She’d gone in armor that she knew everyone would be familiar with- modified Draconic armor that she’d taken care of for years, even reshaping it to fit her changed figure now. She had an additional outfit that she’d wanted to wear, Guardian’s vestments But today? She wanted to look pretty.

      Elijah had gotten an elegant hat for Rylee, one with a wide brim, folded on one side. She remembered how it was worn too, the folded brim should be on the left side of her head. She then selected a dress she’d picked up from the tailor’s, one that fit her well. It even had pockets!

      When she was done, she looked at herself in her bedroom’s full length mirror. It wasn’t until six months ago that she realized the woman in the reflection was really her. She knew other people like her had similar issues, and she’d done a lot to help her own image. However, this was still surreal.

      That woman was her. That woman was Rylee RainbowSong.

      “Six of you?” Private Kinchley looked at the group, bewildered, “Blimey, you’re a right gang.”

      “Officer, I am a liaison of Emperor Yoshihito when I’m on the clock,” Reidan said, unamused, “You’ve seen me here before.”

      “I have,” Kinchley replied, “But it’s not you I’m worried about,” He pointed to Harmony, “It’s ‘em.”

      Harmony laughed. “Yeah, our last tour here sold out and caused a riot!” She exclaimed.

      “I’ll keep her under control,” Breana stepped up. “I’ve wrangled worse.”

      Kinchley looked between the fairly diminutive Harmony, and the resolute Breana. He seemed unsure how to react.

      Octavia crossed her arms. “Trust me,” She said, “The lady can keep the spark from spreading.”

      “Alright, fine,” Kinchley finally relented, “Keep ‘em within your sights. I don’t want to see you two separated, you hear?” He opened the door into Regent’s square.

      “Thank you.” Reidan said, still bemused. She waved for everyone else to go through the door.

      When everyone filed out of Westminster, they all looked around. This was, after all, Breana’s and Octavia’s first time in Marleybone. The two looked up towards the night sky, watching ballooncars navigate in the skies above tall buildings.

      “Is everything so massive here?” Breana asked.

      “These aren’t unlike trees in those forests you’re in,” Octavia remarked.

      “But they ain’t natural,” Breana shuddered, “I don’t like it.”

      “Fair enough,” Octavia shrugged.

      Reidan checked her P.H.O.N.E., and sent a message off to Rylee. “We’ve arrived. Where are we meeting?”

      Rylee finished her chapter when her P.H.O.N.E. buzzed. She checked it, and ran to the window.

      Three floors down on street level, there they all were. Reidan and Yvonne were there, Rylee’s old apprentice Ayana was holding Yvonne’s hand, Harmony was there, and the two others Yvonne had told her about- presumably Breana and Octavia. All were there, together.

      Rylee was now realizing that they’d overestimated their capacity to see everyone all at once, especially the new people. It had been years. They all were different now, and she didn’t know how familiar she’d be to everyone else. She needed a buffer.

      Rylee sent off a message to Reidan. “can u send them somewhere else and meet w/me 1st?” She peered out the window, watching for Reidan’s reaction.

      Reidan tried to subtly, but hurriedly look around for opportunities. She saw a sandwich sign by the fountain, pointing to Barkingham Palace.


      “No wonder Elijah reacted that way,” Reidan thought to herself, “Hotel rates must be expensive right now.”

      “What’re you looking at?” Yvonne asked.

      “I’ve got some quick business I need to attend to,” Reidan lied, “Yoshihito’s request,” She pointed to the sign, “Wanna check that out while I do?”

      Yvonne shrugged. “We’re not meeting for another couple hours,” She said, “What about everyone else?”

      Everyone agreed fairly immediately to go check it out. Octavia was especially interested, maybe it’d be a good chance to test her own skills. Yvonne led the group away, and Reidan went down the road towards where a post office would be.

      Rylee received a message from Reidan. “They’re at Barkingham for that fencing event. What’s with that?”

      Rylee replied quickly. “Big annual event the Queen put on since she was rescued. Where ru going?”

      Reidan replied back. “Feigning business. Meet for breakfast?”

      Rylee nodded, and replied. “Bagels?”

      Reidan replied. “Bagels.”

      The pair sent an exchange of messages that simply said “bagels” for some time. Reidan then sent a picture of a storefront. “Here. Where are you?”

      Rylee sat up and put on their sandals, sending another message off quickly. "On my way."

      Reidan had already ordered the bagels, and was ready to take them to a table. She quickly eyed over which ones were which.

      For Reidan: a rosemary bagel, with plain cream cheese and lox.

      For Rylee, an everything bagel with strawberry cream cheese.

      Both orders were correct. She picked up the tray, and turned around, nearly running into someone. "Bagels," A strange, yet familiar voice said.

      It took Reidan a moment to process, but this was indeed her cousin. The person formerly known as Mark DeathMask, now Rylee RainbowSong, was standing before her. Rylee was wearing a dress and hat with Balance school symbols on them.

      "Bagels," Reidan said, motioning towards the tray, "I hope I remembered your order correctly."

      Rylee looked down at the bagels, and nodded. "You did," she said.

      Reidan led Rylee to a table, and the pair enjoyed their bagels. They stayed for awhile, catching each other up on the events of the past few years. Rylee's transition, Reidan's meditation, how Andrew was thriving in "retirement" as a merchant, and so much else.

      "Rachel wanted you two to fight?" Reidan laughed.

      "Yeah," Rylee replied, sharing the laughter, "Andrew refused, and Rachel tried to get me to spar instead. Talked about how I needed to still be a good fit for a team."

      "And it's not like Rico's going to get our help anytime soon," Reidan rolled her eyes, "What happened anyway?"

      "Andrew defused the situation," Rylee said, "He shockingly doesn't like conflict anymore."

      "Really?" Reidan chuckled, "Andrew the Pacifist?"

      "Indeed," Rylee said.

      The two talked for nearly a full hour, until Reidan got a message from Yvonne. "Are you done with business?"

      Reidan messaged back. "Yes, and I ran into Rylee. You still at Barkingham?"

      Yvonne replied. "Yes."

      Reidan sent one last message before putting her P.H.O.N.E. in her pocket. "We'll be on our way shortly."

      "Yvonne is expecting us," Reidan said, "Are you feeling up for this?"

      Rylee closed her eyes, inhaled, and then exhaled. "I think I am," She said.

      Reidan knew her cousin, and that was an uncertain response. "Are you sure?" She asked.

      "No," Rylee answered honestly, "But I've been trying to hype myself up for this. It's important that I get to see her, more importantly that she sees me."

      "She's got her own little thing to show you too," Reidan said, "But don't lessen the importance of you seeing her."

      "Right," Rylee said, "I'm not ready, but let's do it anyway."

      Reidan nodded, and smiled warmly. "And I'll be there every step of the way."

      "A spellslinger?" The hound cried tauntingly, "What's a spellslinger doin' in the tournament grounds?"

      "Shut your darn trap, and draw your blade!" Octavia shouted, tossing her face wear aside, "I am from the Khrysalian Order of the White Rose, and I will have you on your knees at the end of this match!"

      "She got a mouth on her," The hound taunted, ostensibly addressing the audience, "Don't she?"

      In the stands, closest to the doors to Barkingham, Yvonne sat with the other wizards. Harmony had found an old bandmate that retired to Marleybone, and somehow got the queen's approval to provide a soundtrack to this fight. The Queen apparently loved the punk rock that Harmony played, and out of revenge they would play something else. The language this was in was close to ancient MooShu texts, and Harmony had familiarized themself with the lyrics already. They were just describing to their bandmates what they would play.

      Yvonne kept looking at her P.H.O.N.E., and back at the gate. She was worried. "Should I go out and look for them?"

      "There's no need," Ayana squeezed Yvonne's hand, "Reidan had enough power to guard them both."

      "I know, but-"

      "Hey, relax," Elijah RedThistle was sitting behind Yvonne, "I've seen your sister in action. She can hold her own too."

      Yvonne whined a little, then exhaled, depressurizing a bit. "Okay." She said.

      The wizards continued to watch the fencing match take place. Octavia insisted on not wearing face protection, saying she didn't need it. The score was tied now, and she and the hound were getting ready for their final round.

      The Queen stood up, Royal fanfare providing the soundtrack.

      "Pause the festivities and games," The Master of Ceremonies called out, "Please rise out of respect for the liaison of MooShu Emperor Yoshihito, Reidan HydroWarden!"

      Yvonne turned to the gate, and saw Reidan. Beside Reidan stood an unknown, yet familiar woman.

      The Master of Ceremonies cleared his throat. "And her guest-"

      "This is unnecessary," the woman whispered to Reidan.

      "Rylee RainbowSong!" The Master of Ceremonies declared.

      Yvonne realized at that moment, that was her sister. Her name is now Rylee.

      Reidan proceeded forward from her position, Rylee hiding behind her, and walked to greet the queen.

      Yvonne got up from her seat, letting go of Ayana's hand, and leaped off the platform. "Rylee!" She cried, immediately taking her sister into her arms.

      "’Ey, that was a fine entrance!" Elijah toasted with root beer from the keg, "If I do say so."

      "She did not look fine," Breana shook her head.

      "It won't matter in the end," Elijah said, trying to offer some reassurance, "I've known the two since they were kids. They'll laugh about it by tomorrow afternoon."

      Breana was still worried. Elijah saw, and put a pitcher of root beer into her hand. "Cheers, Bre!" He said, "Live it up!"

      "Never pegged you as a party type," Breana said rather seriously, and drank from the pitcher.

      The group had gotten the royal treatment, literally. The Queen met with Reidan, the group was invited down, and some were partying it up. Others were relaxing, laying back, and getting some rest from the excitement.

      "Perks of being royalty!" Ayana said, relaxing by leaning back in her chair, "Haven't felt like this in awhile!"

      "Don't count on it," Yvonne jabbed, "We're her friends for a day. It's political convenience."

      "Still," Rylee said, "Take advantage of the opportunity before we hit the streets again."

      Reidan paused. "That's a lot more optimism than I expected from you," She said.

      "Well, transitioning’s changed my perspective," Rylee said, "And everyone's grown too."

      Yvonne latched onto Rylee's shoulder. "But you're still my sister." She said, smiling. Rylee returned the smile.

      Octavia scoffed, and stood up. "I didn't come here for this!" She walked back toward the field, "Warner, you hound! Get back out here!"

      "Is she always like that?" Rylee asked.

      "Not always," Yvonne replied, shaking her head, "She just doesn't like leaving her work unfinished."

      As the contestants readied, the Queen signaled for some music. Harmony picked up their guitar, and grabbed the microphone.

      "This one's from another place, another time." Harmony said, "Just like Rylee, you gotta get out of your chrysalis, and emerge as a butterfly."

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      Rylee RainbowSong (She/They) is the character who is ostensibly me. I was already out as non-binary in 2019, and she started her social transition when I did. She's ahead of me on her care, but she's still the knowledgeable person that she once was. A new name, a new voice.

      This sort of care is important. For people who are worried if their family members are trans, you are not a failure. Your child is embracing their identity that while they always have known, they may not have the words to describe that they aren't assigned to their agab. I'm doing what I need to do for my own happiness, to become who I am- to become Riley. My Wizards were my biggest dysphoria drivers, especially my Balance wizard. I'm so happy this update came out, and I'm even happier I get to live as my true self where this chaotic life that is mine started.

      Take care everyone. This chapter is over, but a new chapter will unfold... eventually.
      Last edited by FarTooManyFrogs; 8-1-23 at 9:37:36 PM.
      They/them. Always knew I was, never had the words for it.

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