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Karma Chu

Don't be a wimp, wimpy.

0 · 901 views · located in Aires

a character in “Birthstone Spirits: The Great Escape”, as played by birthstone_spirits


/Don't be a wimp, wimpy /
⇣ ⇣ ⇣

Karma Chu
|Discourteous|Coarse|Flamboyant|Tough|Plucky|Rude|Demanding|Comedic|Excited|Wise Beyond Years|Troublemaker|Scared of the Dark|

Age: 7
Nation: Solace.
Height: 3'11
Eyes: Brown
Hair: Pink- however people suspect that it is actually blonde.
*Hitches rides of Ryou's back often
*Enjoys seeing the students suffering
*Has an immense love for pork
*Eats everything in sight
*Pushes people to their limits with her smart mouth

When she isn't yelling at students, Karma Chu can be found in the Academy's dining hall stuffing her face with various forms of pork.

Because she grew up at the academy as the adoptive daughter of its owner, Ryou she feels as though she knows everything there is about fighting. She sits through all of the classes and training sessions, watching in hope that she will one day offered a challenge in the sparring arena. While she has the general strategics of combat down due to her colorful upbringing, her small stature prevents her from becoming the strong warrior that she had always imagined herself to be.

With this little pink yard-dog, her bark may be louder than her bite. But everyday her bite is growing in strength.

I may be smaller than you,

but its pretty funny how this little body

has a bigger fighting spirit

that your highness would dare to imagine.

Pinkies up, buttercup.

So begins...

Karma Chu's Story


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika
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Really, the sight of that table was ridiculously luxurious. It looked like a freaking last supper trope with Ryou as their jacked up Jesus figure. Haru also ate at the elite table. Placed between Ryou and Ji Na, he had to suffer Ryou’s games without accidentally elbowing Ji Na in the face. But it wasn’t like he was never used to this sort of behavior from his friend. Nonetheless, when Ryou tried to airplane feed him like a baby, Haru had to sock him in the throat. When was the last time that crazy monkey even went to earth to see an airplane?
Ji Na was a pretty neat eater. She sliced her meat in clean, small, vertical cuts before consuming them. With a controlled jaw she made chewing look like butter melting in her mouth. Occasionally she would cut pork for the loud obnoxious member of the table— little girl with pink hair. Pink hair! One might wonder if there was such thing as hair dye on Aires. But judging by the girl’s attitude it didn’t seem like it was really worth asking. When Ji Na finished cutting the meat the young girl stuck out her tongue, yelled, “you need more practice!” and lovingly threw herself under Ryou’s wing to make him redo it. Ji Na could be seen quietly gritting her teeth.
When Ryou and the scarecrow warrior approached the table, the little pink haired girl made it her business to join them. But not without a loaded plate that she intentionally ate in front of them.
It sort of worked on Tallyho and the kid knew it. As Ryou spoke of…whatever it was…Karma slowly stuffed a bacon-like dish into her mouth. And she was pretty gross about it too—slathering the grease all over the table with her tiny fingers.
When Ryou and the warrior finally finished their exchange, Tallyho tuned back in to the conversation. The most she caught was that they were doing something that night.
At a nearby table Kat and Kwasi sat. Kat dug into her meal prisoner’s style. She guarded her food—arm rested around the circumference of her bowl—her elbow in the air and utensil ferociously digging into its contents. Kawasi gave a nervous laugh. He didn’t really plan on sitting next to Kat but it didn’t make sense to start a new table for him. And after all, she was a new student too, right? Wouldn’t it make sense if the two non-warriors became friends? Kwasi and Kat didn’t attend the cyclopean demonstration simply because they weren’t warriors.
“So what do you think the Goddess has in store?”
Kat stopped. Her fork pursed into the meat of her fish. She looked up at the monk from a downturned faced. Kwasi sensed that she was deeply offended and tried to clarify himself.
“The event tonight. What do you think it is?”
The dark ginger muttered something that seemed to be in another language.
Kwasi responded instantly in the same tongue and Kat briefly popped her brows up in surprise.
“You know I speak the languages too. I was born in Nomansland,” he said.
“I’m surprised. You look watered down,” she said.
Their conversation ended there.
Tallyho didn’t really know what to do at this point. Her eyes drifted towards Dorian who sat in front of her. She stared at him for a while before fumbling with her plate. She probably seemed weird, but honestly what else was there to do?
Haru called from the other table. "Basically, meet us at the square by sunset.”
That was just enough direction for Tallyho who, without a word, pulled herself up from the table and made her way out the door.
Tallyho stood in front of the trail, studying the way the brown path winded and faded and speckled into the green. She took a step forward and didn’t look back.
This was peace. She was happy to see colors that didn’t belong to flesh. The blonde kept walking until she reached a clearing. In this clearing there was a small pond that looked very much like a puddle. She stepped in to wet her feet. The water found her ankles. Microscopic water beings nibbled at her soles. The bottom of the pond was smooth, unnaturally so, and she wondered why there were no twigs in the mud.
She dragged her feet at the bottom before scraping her foot on what felt like a sharp stone. She did not bleed but she cussed as she bent over to pick it up, the ends of her locks dipping into the water. This stone didn’t look too sharp. It was an orangey-gold and looked like a nugget of crystalized honey. She wondered if there were any more stones l like this in the pond and she padded her food around in search of more. And indeed she found them!
She began a collection by pulling up the skirt of her dress and making a hammock. There were honey stones the size of her fingerprint and the size of her palm. She was finding them in places she hadn’t seen them initially. It was like they were being dropped from the sky and her skirt was becoming heavy. There was a wetspot in her dress from where stones rolled down into the dimple of her hammock and the excess water splattered back into the pond.
“Where are these coming from?”
Tallyho’s collection of these stones was becoming an action of mania. She once picked them up because she was intrigued, but then she began to pick them up because somewhere in her gut she knew they weren’t supposed to be there. She took deep breaths and the stones continued to speckle the ground around her. This pond was so small! It was as long as Tallyho was tall and wasn’t even deep enough to water her knees.
Tallyho—fed up—dropped all of the stones she collected in her skirt. She looked down at the pile with disgust. She couldn’t see the earth of the pond floor anymore everything was orange. She heard a crackling noise around her.
The blonde’s brows furrowed and she turned around to see that the eastward trees surrounding the clearing were on fire. She turned to the west and those trees were on fire. She looked for the path leading back to the academy but she could not find it.
She could hear soft laughter coming from the trees. Her feet felt hot. The stones were burning her feet—they left a singed opening in the pond-stained part of her dress.
Tallyho clumsily backed away, too breathless to scream for help. Her green veins convulsed and her green eyes widened. She fell onto her back side, her feet still ankle deep in the warming pond and heard grass singeing behind her. Footsteps actually. She slowly turned her head and the sun blinded her. It was setting—everything was orange. She turned a bit more and saw the silhouetted legs of a man walking towards her slowly, leaving black grass at his heels. She did not dare to look any more. She looked forward again—
the fire was gone.
And it didn’t look like it had ever been there. She looked down into the pond and saw the dark earth. No honey stones in sight. She felt her dress and there was no longer a hole burnt through it. It was dry like she never touched the water. Tallyho gathered the courage to look back and see if the man was still there.
No, he wasn’t. But she could still smell the burning grass and the sun was still setting.
The blonde pulled herself onto her feet and without hesitation ran back down the path towards the academy.
She was greeted by the sight of Haru and the pink haired girl waiting around in the courtyard. Kat and Kwasi soon arrived. It seemed that it was time for the event. Tallyho attempted to regain her cool.
If anyone asked, nothing happened.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika
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Double Post


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo)
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The ragged rumble of a cart’s wheels and the hefty breathing of the ox that pulled it grew steadily closer on their heels, almost in perfect sync with the dying whale noises (that were vaguely human in origin supposedly) gradually fading off; made it rather hopelessly clear that her poor companion would obviously be eating his words soon enough, but woman remained refined and didn’t say a word about it nor let her mild amusement touch her eyes or even hint at regarding the matter. Until a hard, rich voice spoke up, wanting them to hear him: ”Thank Goddess.” The woman turned slightly in her seat upon her mount to look behind, tilting her head back slightly to allow her hood to fall gracefully off her head and bare her fair features to the ragtag group of wayward ‘sheepish’ teenagers and their ‘herders’. “Haru, the one be praised. You made better time than I expected.” She hummed lightly. Her lips parting slightly as a pale, faint smile rose on her lips in greeting.

”Lillian, thanks for sending Ryou and Dorian over by the way.” Lillian, now named, took the varying reactions to her appearance and the wheel’s turning in everyone’s heads that she was apparently the owl Haru had sent to get Ryou and Dorian ages past, with a certain amount of grace and indifference. She idly met everyone’s eyes, most without challenge and categorized them away in her mind for future reference, but she obviously held more affection in their depths for – Haru, Ryou, and even the grounds-keeper and ox-cart driver of Ryou’s Academy, Mr. Vo. And one young child who’d been walking a little ahead of the cart, studied and stared a little past the formal limit usually kept by most strangers. And Lillian seemed to give her a longer span of attention than most, with an odd sort of familiar curiosity glinted in her eyes, before moving on with a blink to the next.

“It was no problem. Ryou had an errand for me to run as well, so I apologize for not returning sooner. “ She finally responded, with a soft sigh and good natured coyish eye-roll in the direction of the other red-headed rider beside her astride his own mount. The more she spoke, her odd accent had an airy, breathless quality to it, simply singing a song as it were, even if just plain English. Lillian resumed focusing on the path ahead, guiding her mount up what was left of the trail to the gates.


Falke in the midst of ignoring Harper’s outburst, had not been able to successfully fallen back asleep like he’d planned. But felt like he’d woken up even more. If that was even possible? It wasn’t that he’d ever felt a nervous air before, and maybe it was just the thinner air of the high mountains and his fading temperament because of traveling in a messed up timeline in a bothersome 'new' world in general, he could blame it on. He felt annoyed of course, but, oddly, very much wide awake. It was probably just the realization, that he was really stuck in this for good, or even that he necessarily had to be more aware - just to keep his head attached, and the possibility of going home one day once this was all done? Oh who bloody knew or, or cared...

When they finally arrived, and were told to get off the cart. Falke was downright giddy, internally of course without letting it show unto his facial features. His legs screamed relief, or well, at the very least felt very light and almost ticklish, because of the rush of blood flowing through them to relieve agonized, sore muscles. And his stomach gurgled one last thought of possibly rejecting the meager bit of breakfast he’d gotten into his system hours earlier, before falling silent, eager as well seemingly to be over the faint motion sickness that had plagued him throughout the ride and back on his own two feet.

He stood, warily, much like even else around him, but seemed to be relieved enough to be alive and standing that he didn’t feel much of the need to work out any left-over aches and pains from the trip. Eyes wide, sightlessly surveying their surroundings with an interested, if rather honestly cautious air. He could not see the natural beauty of the place, but he could certainly smell the sharp, almost sweet, scent in the air of many different plants (except for this shit-smelling berry trees from the path into the main campus, of course), and fresher air than he’d ever really had to breathe before in general.

“Now don’t tell me he is asleep at the back of that cart… ” Falke turned toward the voice, not quite realizing he’d been facing in mostly the wrong direction most of the time since getting out of the cart, but able enough to lock on the sound a voice and turn himself toward it so that he vaguely looked like he was giving anyone his full attention. However, as she afforded each month warrior a moment’s worth of eye contact, it wasn’t really certain if they actually meet eyes at all, Falke’s were likely to high or too low or just plain not able to focus – not his intent of course, but being blind, that sort of thing happened pretty regularly.

And the following conversation, her words, and others, oh... And Harper, finally, apparently fainting. Well... None of it made much sense at all right now, as of yet, but he supposed they'd be answered soon enough, or later, if later. But for now, they apparently had a tour to take.


The next two weeks were an absolute terror, and nothing short of it. His lack of gracefulness, coordination, and lack of knowing exactly where he was going by sight; played a part in sometimes not being able to finish the tasks they'd been given at times or mostly just finishing them barely (after running into things, or tripping and falling a great many times, excreta). Falke's bones and muscles ached and had constant throbbing accompanying his every movement. At night he was plagued by headaches from physical and emotion exhaustion and whispering nightmares.

Today was, again, no different during the exercise of going up and down the sadistic mountain trail five laps with a sack of rocks to carry along the way. Falke always finished last. Unless by chance the monk, Kwasi, had taken to long to pray for strength to complete the exercise, or someone was just feeling a little slower that day. Only the past few days he'd gained enough will to attempt jogging, slowly, up the mountain. Down the mountain, he walked, period. Both ways he hugged the edge furthest away from the cliff, like Harper, but not with fear driving him but only the general concern that he was indeed blind - one step, well, you can guess what would happen.

His arms were a maze of cuts and blotches of bruises from when he tripped and the mountain terrain was less than forgiving, and covered in blood and grime or he'd managed to wipe it all off over his shirt accidentally. His jeans were ragged and ripped at the knees, and no doubt his knees were extremely sore. When given the momentary break to cool off between the next lesson, after he finished his final lap and dropped the pile of stones alongside everyone else's. He made is way over and sat down wordlessly next to Tallyho on the fountain's rim, to splash the cold water unto his arms. Falke winced slightly at the change of temperature against his skin and the stinging sensation that accompanied cleaning his 'wounds'.

Falke hadn't expected a Cyclopean as the next lesson, however... He focused intently at the rattling of the cage bars and the snarlings of the trapped beast as much (or potentially more so, all things considered) as Haru's explanations of the creatures. He held an odd sense of morbid curiosity about the beasts, because they certainly didn't sound all to pleasant company - but without sight to actually confirm if it looked about as bad as it sounded, or smelled for that matter, he didn't have a clue. However, he understood the primal flight or fight running through his veins now, and yes - he'd try to kill it before it could kill him no doubt. But, how would he even know where the heart was, where to 'aim'? And, of course, it did not seem likely that Haru or his unknown guardian for that matter would go back to Earth to tell his parents that sorry your son died fighting some alien war, especially if there was still 'work' to be done. So, eh? Well, whatever for now, it was just food for thought later (or nightmares)...

Even though their meals were always pretty basic and of small portions, but Falke was particularly hungry this late afternoon. He had considered the notion of heading back to the rooms for some extra shut-eye, but the heat exhaustion, and his muscles screaming for extra protein or sugars, chased the notion away quickly. He followed everyone into the dining hall, passing the tantalizing smells of the high table, before plopping down silently at one of the four-seater beginner tables - where he believed the girl called Autumn sat across from him? But he didn't really have a clue, or care about the matter on actually finding out. Lunch was a piece of bread, a thin slab of fish, a small bowl of water and a small bowl of milk. He ate the bread, and drank the small bowl of water; he managed to bite a bit of the fish, but no more, and the milk was left untouched.

When Ryou and the elite, Dae Grimm, finished their exchange, and Haru pipped in to be ready by sunset, it certainly didn't leave Falke much of a chance to do anything in his elected free time. He likely found a place outside in the shade in the outer rim of the courtyard; resting quietly twiddling his thumbs with his wandering thoughts, and resisting the urge not the itch the newly forming scabs on either of his arms that were threatening to drive him mad. Until, over a time, he heard others begin to arrive with their varying footsteps, and got up from his place stiffly to make his own way over to join them slowly but surely - stopping cautiously on the outside of the collected group.


Lillian wasn't seen much of the course of the few weeks since the group had arrived to the Academy, but nor did she disappear like Ryou seemed to have. But it was truthful that she didn't seem to be as deeply involved in the training as other guardians, or at the very least had sense to give Haru his space (despite this being his chance to shove the other guardians respective kids' training for them alone to handle, he liked the control) and Ji Na had an important steady presence there, Kit was useful in egging on his warrior, Autumn.

She was often gone for a few hours or half a day at most as a time, and returned to speak briefly with Haru - sad and sweet was the sound of her voice in the cool clear mountain air - or was seen during meal times at the end of the high table - eating with refined grace, impeccable manors, and didn't seem bothered by the antics going on further down the table. Sometimes after Lillian would stay watching for a time the warrior's struggle in their training with her eyes that were as cold as frost in the stars. Always silent. Always judging.

In a rare appearance of showing for the 'party' on time, Lillian walked into the courtyard a beat after Tallyho and Autumn, and took her place beside Haru with quiet footsteps. She was dressed as she always was, in a dress and/or tunic-dress of fine, home-spun silk. Today, the white color made her pale skin glow with a healthier sheen, and the faint golden accents tied in nicely with her golden arched brows and the hair on her head trapped in a messy bun; and the slits in the fabric on either side, allowed full, free movement of both her legs.


The dining hall of the Academy wasn't a large room by any means. But it had enough space to have dozens of low rising tables and pillow scattered across the floor for every butt that happened to call the Academy home at any given time. It was no different, for a rather ruggedly built man - tall, wide chested, and of a hefty poundage, similar to a bear in fact - sitting haphazardly perched on a comfortably lumpy green pillow at the table at the head of the hall. He was a regular face at that table, and had always sat beside Ji Na and a pink-haired little girl. However, no one of the month warriors knew his name, title, or even saw him anywhere at the Academy but at meal times when he seemed to hold brief conversations with his counterparts while they ate.

His dark hair and slanted eyes, doubled with a startling resemblance to Ji Na and Mr. Vo, hailed his birth place to be from the Eastern Isles likely. His clothes where dirtied and soiled from the happenings of the morning and afternoon but of a high quality fabric colored in dark colors of hunter green and forest earthy tones. A giant blackened war bow, rested in a leather harness across his back, while the bundle of gray feather fledged arrows rested in a quiver attached to a brown belt at his hip and out of his full range of movement. He looked powerful, dangerous even, except for the kind, familial glint in his eyes.

His mouth parted as a wolfish grin tickled unto his maw, apparently amused at the antics going on further down the table, even as he used it to hide a silently pained expression. "Patience, Ji Na…" He rumbled softly in reminder, with a touch of mild but shared exasperation flavoring his tone at the antics of their obnoxious ‘sibling in arms’. His accent was soft, elegant, and polished, with a deep, rich 'growling' sound to it that made it all his own. “I’ll take what she doesn’t want.” He added pleasantly. He touched her shoulder briefly as he politely reached around her to grasp the smaller plate with the meat that hadn't been cut 'correctly' for the little girl before dumping it unto his own, wasting nothing but in turn having the plate now clear for Ryou to have a place to put his 'properly' cut meat for the annoying midge.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher Character Portrait: Alatáriël Oronrá Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae
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Even with her good friend’s encouragement of patience, Ji Na couldn’t help but feel more that a little tested. She mumbled something under her breath, an unspoken language that was nothing like the one Kat and Kwasi sung but was strange nonetheless. As groups began to file out of the dining hall, Ji Na prepared to leave also.
“Huan,” she said, “will you be going to the event tonight?”
She didn’t wait too long for an answer before adjusting her robes and looking towards the door.
It didn’t seem like Ji Na was easily angered. But when she felt stressed or irritated she often took to a strange addiction. It was pretty hush-hush around campus to be honest. Some say they’ve seen Ji Na hanging out of her room’s window, a long, ornate pipe balancing between the idle pinch of her middle and pointer finger.
If Ryou knew about it there would be no doubt that he would disapprove. But there wasn’t much of a doubt that he already knew.
Ji Na was one of the privileged ones.
Not only had the elites earned a better dining menu but they also owned better rooms. The building at the center of the campus blueprint, and the only multi-story building on the premises, was elite housing where the hardened students had plenty of room to live and relax.
Ji Na’s room was both simple and complex. While she didn’t necessarily have, or even want, an elevated bed like Karma’s she still had a reasonable collection of ottomans and large pillows. Her room was filled with medical paraphernalia—dried herbs half-ground by the mortar and pestle. Empty glass jars, and jars flooding with medicines, potions, powers and creams. Above desk there was a layered shelf weighed down by clusters of jars with rare bugs drowned in preservation fluid.
The dark haired woman entered her room and struggled out of her soft, decorative over-robe. She knelt down to a basket in the corner of her room where she kept her pipe.

After a short moment of peace Ji Na came down to the courtyard. She re-covered her white under-robe with the fancier one and it looked like she hadn’t even removed it. She seemed just as pleasant as she had been before, and she greeted the others with grace.
Tallyho sat at the fountains edge as she tried to forget her ordeal in the forest. She wondered if the same thing would happen but felt safer because she wouldn’t be alone.
Ryou hadn’t made it to the courtyard yet and Tallyho was getting impatient. What on Aires was he preparing and when would they be able to do it? Haru was tapping his foot frantically. The blind kid was wandering around the outskirts of the group not really knowing WHAT to do. And that kid just arrived, the one with pink hair and greasy fingers.
But then Tallyho caught sight of Lillian who, like Ryou, wasn’t too involved but just involved enough and naturally she was hanging around Haru, the only other guardian in the square so far. The woman’s hair was bunned loosely and the sunlight blew a halo on her silhouette that made the color orange look comfortable.
Tallyho didn’t know anything about Lillian, yet she decided that she was instantly more tolerable than some of the other characters in their whacky group.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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On the way through the forest Tallyho noticed that they passed through the clearing. She veered away towards the brush as they walked by, not wanting to get anywhere near that pond. She swore she saw a patch of singed dirt in the shape of a shoe’s sole.
Meanwhile, Karma made it her business to run about and whack the month warriors on the thighs with sticks. She felt no same.
“If your leg giggles that means your huge and you should work out more,” she announced to her captive audience. Tallyho wondered if the child was only around to make people feel self-conscious and uncomfortable.
“But at least if you have like…maaaasive thunderthighs, you’ll make a super big splash tonight!”
What. The actual. Hell?
Not only was this kid just openly insulting everybody but she mentioned big splashes, which meant water. Deep water. Tallyho took Karma by the shoulder firmly and slightly leaned to the side as they walked. Her comment didn’t seem like something Ryou would approve of as this event was probably supposed to be a pure surprise. But Tallyho had to know for her own safety.
“Karma,” the blonde whispered, “A splash? Is there—“
“Yeah, a splash,” the pink-haired girl nearly yelled which more or less blew Tallyho’s cover, “when you’re fatter you make fatter splashes.”
The girl rolled her eyes with arrogance. “Duh.”

She didn’t even answer the question… Tallyho left her alone.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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#, as written by Linnea
Autumn let out a small cry as the stick hit her leg. Normally, she wouldn't have paid any mind to what the child said. Kids were kids and it wasn't uncommon for them to say insensitive things. This time, however, it struck a nerve. She couldn't see if her leg jiggled through her long skirt, but she sure felt the impact of the words.

She had struggled with her weight for years and had always been a bit chubby. If there was one way to upset her, it was to mention her weight. Even the training hadn't helped. It clung on like a leech, ugly and troublesome. She frowned, almost certain that she would make the biggest splash of all. And then everyone would laugh. Probably say something about a beached whale. It had happened before on Earth, who was to say it wouldn't happen on Aires? Whatever this splash came from, she dreaded it. Folding her arms, she stared down at the path below and tried not to think about it.

Kit seemed to slow his pace, avoiding contact with the pink haired girl as much as he could. He even went out of his way to avoid looking at her. It was bothersome, but giving her too much thought would only upset him. Looking away was the best thing to do.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Lux Adair Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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Her muscles screamed in pure excruciating agony. She had gone through one thing to another with the group. Running up a path, away from a Cyclopean (for which she was certainly going to thank Dae the Scarecrow man for), and now entertaining the notions of the pink haired child. As the stick hit her thighs, Lux let out what sounded like a squawk mixed with a yelp. Embarrassment crept in the moment the sound left her. Hands flew to cover her mouth. Her posture now screamed "Don't look at me!!" instead of "I'm pissed off!!!!". She hung back behind the group, hoping that no one heard her.

Or at the very least did not know that the sound came from her. That was enough to cause the actress to lose her control in trying to calm down her breathing. She didn't do much in the way of running, she preferred the lights and grandeur of the stage than sweating on some hot day underneath the unforgiving bright sun. A hand ran through the rat's nest that was now her once well kept hair. She didn't like this at all; however, her thoughts were, for once, pulled away from herself to the person she had ended up walking next to. At first, it took Lux a while to remember the blonde's name. But the moment she remembered, an uncharacteristically soft smile curled against her lips. With the clear sign's of Autumn's body language, even a person not so well versed in the art of body language could tell that she was insecure about something.

Heavily insecure. Walking just a bit closer to Autumn, the December warrior finally spoke up to one of her teammates in a while. "Don't let what that pink haired brat said get to you," she murmured hoping to keep the little girl from hearing the conversation. "I'll probably make a bigger splash than you, Autumn."


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Lux Adair Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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Harper ate quickly, burping loudly when he finished, despite the somewhat meager serving.

He had eaten worse.

He wasn't sure what to think of the supposed outing tonight, but hoped that it wouldn't be much worse than running rocks up the mountain. He stuck around the cafeteria, hoping to hear snippets that would give it away, but didn't have much luck.

He caught up with the group--on time for once!--and followed along, trying to keep his spirits up and praying they wouldn't do anything height related. The pink-haired girl, Karma, ran around hitting everyone's legs with a stick.

The wood stung against his leg, but there was only so much force a small girl could have, and thing stinging didn't last long, and in a minute was forgotten. Some of the others squeaked and squawked, and he rolled his eyes. Babies. It was just a little girl. Albeit, a bratty little girl, but a little girl nonetheless.

Harper had always had a soft spot for children, even if they were snot-nosed little terrors. Kids were simple. They could be sassy, snappy, and stuck-up, but there was always an honesty about them. Like there wasn't a second agenda behind their words. And the world was so easy for them, that they never thought twice.

Karma was, admittedly, harder to get along with than someone like his sister, but in the past two weeks he'd been here, he still smiled at her, laughed at her retorts and offered some of his own in response. Even when she pointed out his vomiting and nausea, those first few days, he'd taken it in stride. After all, it wasn't like the other warriors had any kinder words, if they had anything to say to him at all. At least Karma said what she thought.

"A splash?" he repeated, and his tone brightened up, "Are we going swimming?" he asked the little girl. The thought of it raised his hopes, and his smile grew in anticipation. "If that is the case, than being fat doesn't necessarily mean bigger splashes. It's all about entry. I'm bigger than you are, but I'd make a smaller splash than you if I dove in and you just belly flopped." He moved his hands about in front of him, outlining an invisible square. "All about the surface areaa..." he drew out the A for a while before putting his hands down. Still grinning, he announced in a louder voice, "By the way, I'm a certified lifeguard, so if anyone's worried about drowning, I've got you covered!"


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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“You heard nothing from me, green man!” she said in a prideful cheer to Harper as she marched forward without paying too much attention to his gestures. She called him green man because he threw up so much.
Tallyho clammed up at the chatter about deep water. She didn’t even know what a lifeguard was. It sounded like some sort of spiritual entity and Tallyho really didn’t like the idea of Harper being a transcendental being that had any form of control over her life. She pressed forward—eager to see what was in store at the end of their walk.
The group stopped in what seemed to be another clearing. But something was different. She heard water and she could hear a lot of it too. She spun around, eager to find the death trap but there was nothing but brush and trees surrounding them. Haru encouraged to group to rendezvous around the clearing.
Tallyho skeptically moved along the edge of the brush until she was standing next to Haru. Once the group formed a semi-neat circle Haru spoke.
“What would you do if we told you that you absolutely had to jump off of a very high cliff?”
The redhead didn’t really expect much of an answer so he continued his question with very little pause.
“Into water?” He figured that addition would alleviate some fears and induce others.
Tallyho swallowed with a dry throat.
Kat seemed indifferent. She crossed her arms and asserted her stance. It was like she had performed such a stunt a dozen times.
Kwasi was probably less nervous than Tallyho but more nervous that Kat. However, one wouldn’t be able to tell by the way he filtered his emotions away from his face.
“Well some of us can’t swim,” Tallyho bargained. A long breath escaped from her lungs as she slid into a seat on the roots of a grand tree. She was short of breath as she spoke, “I-I mean. What about the…the blind kid, huh? He wouldn’t even see where he’s swimming!” The blonde offered a rough gesture towards Falke.
Even though it was so super obvious that she was uncomfortable with the test she had to find some other way to justify why they shouldn’t be required to jump.
“Clam down,” Ji Na said. “He isn’t saying that you will be performing such a stunt tonight.”
“Right,” Haru said.
“It’s just an analogy. The test you will be enduring is very much like jumping from a cliff. When you become a piece of this academy, your dedication should be a downward plunge locked by gravity. But for most of you, this test is about more than the brotherhood of this institution. It is the brother—and sisterhood of your team. Of you month warriors.”
After her soliloquy Ji Na offered a pleasant nod.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Ji Na Chae Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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Even though he had definitely taken his medicine today, Harper still nearly threw up at Haru's words.

Nausea still overcame him, and his confident self drowned as the fear tsunami'd in. It took every ounce of power to tell himself that he hadn't actually seen the cliff, that it was just a question, that it was just...

The addition of "into water" did help, a little. He closed his eyes hard and forced himself to breathe slowly. He hadn't even realized how shallow and quick his breaths had becoming. He wanted to sit down. He wanted to hurl. He wanted to turn around and run right back, splashes be damned.

Harper was oh so thankful at Tallyho's protests. At least SOMEone had their head on right. He would have added, but talking proved impossible.

"Clam down. He isn't saying that you will be performing such a stunt tonight."

He isn't saying otherwise either... Harper thought. He thought he might faint again as Ji Na continued talking, her words tumbling through and not making sense. He clenched his fists, trying to ram out the images of falling from a cliff, high diving, and the like. The highest he had ever dived from was 6 feet. Hypothetically, he knew how to dive from higher, but had never done it. Six feet was pretty high as it was.

He finally lowered himself, squatting on his haunches, head in his hands, trying to get a grip. Not that he cared if the others thought him strange or attention-grabbing, but he hated this feeling. The helplessness and fear. He hadn't had a panic attack since that first day, and he sure as hell didn't want another one.

Fumbling in his pocket, he pulled out his small knife and the hunk of wood he'd been carving into a fish. Shaking, he started whittling away, hoping it would hold his focus. The knife was clumsy in his trembling fingers, feeling too small and too big all at once, and after only two chips the blade slipped and dug into his thumb. He gave a shout of pain, jumping to his feet and shaking his hand. His thumb throbbed, the cut sharp and stinging much worse than Karma's stick, but he was glad. A distraction, and a welcome one at that.

"Sorry," he said, raising a hand, and he ducked to pick up the knife and wood (he'd dropped it, and now the fish was speckled in blood). Standing back up, he replaced the two in his pocket and sucked at the wound, hoping the topic would change to what they were actually doing. He didn't dare ask for clarification yet, all of his thoughts drawn to his bleeding thumb, the cliff lurking in the background.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika
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Tallyho eyed the newer new-comers. She still wasn’t that used to seeing Dae around and the new faces only made her more confused. Though, the most pressing inquiry she has was about why Ryou had such… colorful children hanging around. Did no one else notice how strange the Mori boy’s pallet was? And Karma was just mean enough to make people accept the way she looked without much question.
“Nope. Nope. Waaaait a minute. Karma. Goes. First!”
Though nobody was really in front of her, Karma made it her business to push pairs of legs away from the cliff’s edge for the dramatic effect.
“Karma. Always. Goes. First!”
She waved her finger as she proudly marched towards the cliff. Haru shared a glance with Ryou. He hadn’t really gotten the opportunity to sit down and chat with his old friend but he really had been wondering where in the world he dug Karma up from.
The little girl flexed briefly before sprinting over the cliff’s edge. Her screams were more like hoots and hollers as she belly-flopped into the water below. Karma actually made it look fun at least until the person she fooled realized that she was at high risk of growing up to be a psychopath. Haru peered over the cliff’s edge just to see if she made it. Karma was already marching to shore with her head held high. One could hear her chant “losers” from the island below. Charming.
Tallyho couldn’t believe any of it. And it wasn’t that her face conveyed a form of traditional disbelief. It was more like a purée of disbelief, confusion, and the aftertaste of witnessing sheer stupidity. Not only were they going to be forced down this cliff but they would have to be teased because an child was more willing to dive in before they were.
Then came Kat. She hadn’t said much of anything since they began the walk to the cliff. She brushed past Tallyho with a cool breeze before pushing herself into a jog, a sprint, and then a freeform. Despite her brutish demeanor she was actually very graceful, and barely made a peep as she strained jump as far out from the cliff’s edge as possible. Her toned body did not leave limbs out for the air to splay at its will. She kept her hands pointed in prayer towards the water. And like a rock she fell into a stable nosedive, sporting the splash of a pebble skipped across a pond.
Kwasi pressed his lips into a thin line. It was sinful for a monk to feel prideful. But Kat’s comments about him being “watered down” really took a stake to his heart.
“My tribe loves nature… We are the water people, right? Or was it fire?” The pensive monk thought to himself. He felt shame and deiced that he’d pray on it.
After a few minutes of bowing his head in silence he decided to make the leap though his wasn’t nearly as well-crafted as Kat’s. He went down with a crack in his voice—the yelp of a prepubescent boy—before landing in the water with his heels above his head and a huge splash. His robes didn’t make it any easier getting out. They became very heavy and he was winded before he even reached the shore. Karma was still doing a creative victory dance on the shoreline and Kat was leaning against a tree, unamused by just about everything. Kwasi rolled onto the sand like a walrus, offering a meek wave to the dry-folk from below.
“I-It was nothing!” he assured. His voice was still cracking.
Tallyho was pretty much done at that point. Kat’s flawless completion of this test and Kwasi’s eager but embarrassing flawed attempt pretty much assured Tallyho that she wasn’t going down. The blonde stood up from her seat at the tree and turned to leave—her face slightly red and breath short.
Haru pulled her back by the shoulder.
“I’ll push you if you can’t do it yourself,” he said.
That had to be the most uncomforting thing ever.
Ji Na piped in, “Remember, your friends can help too.”
Tallyho chuckled. The earthlings? She still wanted to think that they would laugh at her drowning but because of certain acts of kindness she couldn’t necessarily say that about them. But that didn’t mean she thought they liked her enough to drag her flailing and likely dangerous body out of deep waters.
“Fat chance,” she hummed as she shrugged Haru’s hand off of her shoulder. There was a sudden crash in the brush and Tallyho caught a glimpse of Harper’s feet scampering away. Haru shook his head and glanced at Ryou before going after to boy. And boy was he grateful for being the cat guardian, speed being an asset in this situation. It didn't take long for Haru to catch up. It was grabbing him that was the problem. He didn't hesitate in attempting to physically restrain Harper.
“I might need some help here,” he called through the green. It seemed that the only way to get Harper in was to catch him and toss him like a fish.
Tallyho was starting to think Harper had the right idea though.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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#, as written by Linnea
Actors? What was that supposed to mean? And where was the sound of water coming from?

Suddenly, things looked grim. They were jumping off a cliff, weren’t they? They were jumping down into deadly waters and were all going to die. That’s exactly what was going to happen. This was all a conspiracy to kill them in the strangest way possible. Then again, it was just an analogy. Just an analogy, right?

Autumn followed nervously, her previously casual pace turning into a shuffle. She certainly wasn’t tired anymore, not with the thought of rushing waters and impending doom forcing its way into her head. Of course there had to be a waterfall. It wasn’t an analogy at all. She didn’t even have the courage to take in the view.

She looked the two newcomers. Mori and Liam? Dark and spooky magic? Now that was interesting. For a fleeting moment, she almost forgot that she was about to plunge into the deep unknown.

What, were they spectating? Was this all some twisted spectacle where people watch teenagers fling themselves into their deaths? Probably not. Autumn had a feeling it wouldn’t kill her. Still, thinking such things at least justified her fear a bit more.
Surprisingly, someone actually went to jump. Unsuprisingly, it was the pink haired girl. She made it out fine, boasting loudly. Then Kat jumped. Even Kwasi made it in. For a moment, Autumn almost felt as if she could make it. Then Harper ran.

Kit gave a quick and quiet chuckle, as if he expected it not to end well for the boy. That only further confirmed that there was no way out of this. She glanced at her guardian briefly, but all he did was give his "do this thing" face as he always did while training her.

Within that split second, Haru was already running after Harper.

Once again, things seemed pretty frightening. She had to jump, but she really didn’t want to. The more she looked at the ledge before her, the more frightened she became. It was painfully obvious she needed someone to jump with her.
She backed away from the cliff, bumping into someone in the process.

“Oh, sorry I-“ Autumn turned around, now aware that the person she bumped into was Liam. She paused for a moment. “I think I might need some help down.”

Well, it was one way to make a friend.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo) Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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Tallyho was just about done. Harper went down the cliff like a roach being traumatically knocked off of a wall—his hairy legs wriggling with desperation and antennae zooming about in counter rotations as he rolled around on his back desperate to find his footing. Then he went limp. Then he wasn’t coming up.
She and Dorian were perched at the cliff side and between the two of them Dorian was more than likely going to be the one to save him. In fact, he had to be the one to go save him because even if Tallyho could swim, she probably wouldn’t.
Maybe she was overreacting. Maybe she was just selfish. But Tallyho actually got someone to help her with this on their own free will and Harper…. basically stole her ticket down the falls. Not only was the June month warrior drowning, but he had the audacity to drown after countless mornings hogging the central fountain for “swims”.
Then Dorian just jumped. Tallyho understood why, but she couldn’t help but feel more than a little peeved. With the March warrior gone, Tallyho wordlessly stepped away from the cliff and went back to her tree. There was bad news and good news.
If she had to be pushed she’d have to spend the night in the woods with the others regardless. But! If she had to be pushed she’d more than likely just drown and die, which, for her headache’s sake, sounded like a pretty good deal.
“What am I doing?” she hummed. She was disgusted. Disgusted by the churning in her stomach. By Harper. Her newfound reliance on others. Where did it all come from anyway? She didn’t need them. She could do it on her own, right? Right?
The jump was far, but not that far. And Tallyho wasn’t going to let a little girl jump in without being harmed yet come out with her own scars. Emotional or not. Tallyho thought quietly. She dragged her finger in the dirt and drew pictures.
Haru wouldn’t just let her die. Even if she couldn’t swim. She glanced over at the redhead. He didn’t really seem like he was in that big of a rush to throw people overboard. He just stood around silently, waiting for someone else to take the plate.
The blonde stood up, her downcast expression seeming more pensive than depressed, or angry, or whatever. She began a slow pace towards the cliff but she hoped that someone else would opt in to take the dive before her so that she would have a chance to reconsider and change her mind. Alas she was already at the cliff side. Note, not close enough to where her toes were dangling over the edge like Ryou’s but just damn close enough for her not to have a heart attack.
She was unsure of what to do with her body. She began by pinching her nose. She stopped when she remembered that none of the others had gone in that way. Perhaps it was a bad practice? She pivoted back and forth from one foot to the other trying to imagine herself jumping. She concluded that she would never make a jump as long as Kat’s. She wondered if she could keep her body in control so that she wouldn’t be tossed any old way by the incoming wind intensity. She had lean muscle but she wasn’t strong enough to do that. She turned her back to the water and wondered if falling backwards would get her killed. It might but she couldn’t find any other way to successfully jump in without being hyper conscious about how far out she was jumping, etc.
She briefly made eye contact with Haru who popped his brows up for a brief second. He was asking if she was going to go down that way. She pressed her lips thin and adverted her eyes as she relaxed her posture. She was telling him yes.
This wasn’t the place for Haru to instruct her on her form. The fact that she was going in alone was a miracle. But he felt that it would have done her good to know that falling face first would have been better. But it facing the other way was what it took for her to take the leap? Well… that was good enough for him. Before he knew it she was over the edge. Her fall probably seemed the least dramatic. She was stiff and looked like a mannequin who had simply been tipped over by a careless shopper in New York. She was silent too.
But that certainly wasn’t by choice. Tallyho would have preferred to scream just to remind herself that she was still alive. But in the midst of her fall she ended up turning over so that she was face up instead of upside down. Now she was facing the cliff’s wall and the red rocks were plummeting past her. She couldn’t scream because so much air wanted to find its way into her body. It was trying to make up for every breath she missed upstairs on the edge. Then there was water. A sudden burning sensation ran into her nose and by then she learned to stop inhaling. She swung her arms and legs but it wasn’t very coordinated. She wasn’t kicking hard enough or parting her arms fast enough. She thought of failed swimming lessons from her childhood. The white blonde of mother’s hair and the way her underskirt stuck to her white, white thighs and hips as she pulled herself out of the ocean.
Tallyho kicked harder. She didn’t need saving because she was going to save herself. She could feel her body pushing forward in the water! She was teaching herself how to swim. She could not feel her fingers. Her eyes were still closed; she did not dare open them for fear that she might sink like a stone. And she did feel like a stone—like she was being pulled up by a stone. Or maybe down. She did not know. She did not dare open her eyes.
From behind her eyelids she could see that light was approaching. Everything was bright red like her mother’s lips. Swimming was becoming easier. It was nothing really—just lightly waving arms and legs until she felt safe again. Everything became cold and she could feel the sand in her toes, someone’s arm latched to her waist, and fingers laced into her’s. She was still being pulled forward. She thought she was still swimming kept her legs limp, her shins dreamily skidding into seashell encrusted mud. Suddenly she was settled on something dry and hot.
“Open your eyes,” a voice said. And Tallyho did. She knew that she was safe now. It was Kat kneeling next to her with her unchanging expression.
“Did I swim?” Tallyho asked her voice was hoarse and throat sore.
“No.” Kat said.
Tallyho let out a soft defeated grunt and she did not try to get up. Instead she laid there with her head turned, fingers, toes and right cheek stuffed in the sand with her back exposed to the sun.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Katarina Bradley (Imani Cabo)
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They were jumping off a cliff after all.

Xabier enjoyed swimming. Obviously not as much as Harper though, since the guy never seemed to leave the water. The others had lept off with varying rates of success.
The monk had stumbled, the kid had yelped with delight while Harper went down screaming. He had screamed so loud that Xabier was surprised when it suddenly got quiet.
One by one the others made their journey down.

He'd have to do it. He'd have to jump.
Xabier would just have to pretend that it was back in the good old days, before he got burned so badly that he was unwilling to show his back.

He was almost too caught up in his fears of revealing his back to notice the friendly exchange between Dorian and Tallyho. Almost.

Then his thoughts flitted back to the whole topless issue.
Dorian suddenly broke away and dived off leaving Tallyho alone.
Xabier knew he could dive better.
He braced himself and took off towards the edge.

His feet pushed through the rough grass and hit the smooth warm rocks, still racing to the end of the rocks; his last foot slowly and gracefully leaves the edge of the rock. He was soaring. It was like cliff diving with his siblings and his friends in the summer time.

He missed home. Sometimes when he heard the high voice of that little pink haired girl, he was transported back to a warmer place in a better time. The times they'd dare each to dive off higher ledges into perilous depths of the turquoise water below.
Always holding his brother Aitzan's hand and his best friend Inke's in the other, he'd lose his senses and jump.

Falling, this time he was on his own. No one surrounded him, just air and a view of forever. His shadow on the ground. Its arms wide open mimicking his own, as if they were welcoming him into a sweet embrace. A promise of transporting him back to the past.

His head was pounding.
It's too reckless! Think it through!

His thoughts were pounding.
Stupid! Stupid Idiot! You are going to die!

His heart was pounding.
He never felt so alive.

He peeked down at the water.
Trying to time his last deep, desperate gasp of air, He tried not to think of anything.
His dilemma with his shirt long forgotten.

He felt the butterflies fluttering throughout his body. He took in the last source of air. Suddenly, the touch of the water that had been waiting for patiently, strikes him.

The deep water gently consumed his body and the darkness behind his eyelids was almost comforting.
It was as if the water had transported him home. No, not the water exactly. But the quiet split second when he was truly alone but didn't feel lonely.

Nothing but water surrounded his body.

He swam up through the bitter water to the surface. His eyes opened wide taking in the surroundings.
He rose from the water quietly gasping for air, breathing heavily with adrenaline. He just conquered the cliff. “Again!” He shouted, exhilarated. His hair had slicked off of his face and his mouth was turned up with glee.

And then he noticed that no one seemed to have seen. They were gathered near the shore clustered around something or someone.

He was surrounded with people but felt lonely. For the first time in a long while, he felt numb.

And then horror, he realised that the thing that everyone had focused on was actually a person. Harper to be exact. He must have drowned when he was busy enjoying himself.
Xabier swam as fast as he could towards the shore where Harper lay. The water was dragging his already tired muscles down. Like it was calling him.
"Come back down to the dark, it is safe and warm," it seemed to call.
He pushed on.

He had nearly reached where Harper was on the shore, when a rock snagged his shirt.

He couldn't help anyone without ripping his shirt. Precious seconds ticked by like hours.

They'd all see his scars.
But if he didn't move, Harper could die.

Xabier couldn't stand the thought of either scenario.

He knew he was being selfish, first with showing off and then assuming that everything was about him while Harper drowned.
He couldn't be selfish anymore.

And then it just kind of happened without thinking.

He pulled at his shirt and reached the shore at what felt like a painstakingly slow pace. His clothes dragged down to the sand.

"Is he breathing? Does he have a pulse?" He asked pushing past Dorian to check for himself.
Harper didn't seem to be breathing.


He couldn't die. As much as he was annoying and didn't seem to know when to stop talking, Harper HAD to live. Xabier checked for his pulse, it was there but only barely. He turned him over onto his back and began to pump down on his chest rhythmically with the heels of his hands.

It was at times like these that he worried about every move he was making.

Pushing down. 10, 20, 30 times.
And then he tilted Harper's head back and lifted his chin to free the airway.
Pinching his nose, he began CPR. He stopped after two breaths and checked to see if his chest was rising. He heard some exclamations from behind him. Someone else had almost drowned too.

He couldn't focus on anything other than helping the one who was in immediate danger: Harper.

Pumping his heart again, he leaned back down to try CPR again when he saw a flicker of life in Harper's face.
It was working.
Harper would live, and Xabier's shirt was ruined.

"I thought you could swim, idiot." He sighed.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Karma Chu
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As the last of the warriors started their decent, Haru veered away from the cliff.
“Welp, my job is done for the day,” he hummed.
During the commotion Karma eventually stopped her dancing and went to go pick up the warrior’s food. Another student left it halfway down the trail for the small girl to find and drag back and within moments the she was approaching the small collection of warriors. She dropped the sack before them before turning on her heels.
“Have fun come back up in the morning,” she chirped, “I’m gonna go home and eat my potatooeesss, and cheeeeese, and porrrk…”
She disappeared into the brush, her announcement of soon to be eaten food fading away from listening ears. The sack she left was full of bread and dried, jerky-like meat.

“So what exactly are you looking for out here?” Kwasi asked.
“I don’t know… Fruit or something?”
“I’m not sure that there are many fruit trees on this island.”
“How about you pray for some then?” Tallyho’s tone was half-mocking, she even rolled her eyes.
“Good idea. Could we stop here?”
“Ugh! No. I wouldn’t be caught dead in this forest by dark.” To be more precise, if she did get caught she probably would be dead.
“Well shouldn’t we get back to the others?”
“I don’t know. I feel like we should try to stay in one big group I guess…”
Tallyho turned around swiftly, her palm pressed against a tree and teeth pinching the inside of her cheek.
“Okay…” Tallyho said, faux pleasantness drifting through her lips. “How about you go back to them? How about you go back, sit down, and keep quiet while I go find something, anything for the night? And if they ask I am, you never saw me! Get it?”
“Well I don’t—“
“Got it?”
“I think—“
Good!” Tallyho whipped into a turn and continued to stomp through the brush. Leaving the monk behind.
As a monk, Kwasi never had much interaction with females and he was beginning to wonder if all women were like the ones he met these past few weeks. Confused, he wandered back to the shoreline until he made it to the rest of the group.
“What’s in the bag?” He asked them as he gestured towards the brown sack.

It didn’t take long for Kat to come out of the forest with an abundance of wood under each arm. Without greeting she began to make the proper preparations, forming the pit and stacking the wood.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav
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Diligently, the man finished the extra meat and the rest of his own plate without further word, or even blinks of an eye at Ji Na’s mumbled comments in a strange dialect. He was swallowing his last bite, as various groups began filling out of the dinning hall, as his good friend spoke up again beside him – discussing the coming initiation of the new children to the Academy. He took a moment to word a response, and in that time happened to glance in the direction of the table(s) the month warriors resided at currently with a thoughtful, somewhat curious (if only looking at them almost like at how best it would be to take them apart, piece by piece, but still – curiosity, never the less) interest. “No, I hadn’t planned to.” Huan answered honestly. He managed to convey a slight apology in his humming but soft tone, making it clear that he wasn’t against coming, or helping for that matter, but instead had prior duties to attend to before watching the event that night. “The kitchen matron needs two more deer and perhaps a hog to fill her need for the next few weeks, I planned to hunt this evening after basic classes with the little ones… If I finish early, I will come.” He finished lightly, not quite promising anything but making the offer all the same. Huan rose in turn with her, heading to the door together before parting ways; Ji Na back to her room to cool off before the event, and he went to the classrooms.


Lillian met Tallyho's sudden attention with an even patience of one knowing that they were being observed. The same look was in her eyes, a curiosity tainted by knowledge, but she remained wordless. Ryou's entrance, departure, and orders to follow along behind, interrupted the moment of contact; Lillian broke off with a blink, and walked beside Haru on the way to the initiation.

Standing in the same place she had been when they had arrived at the top of the cliff, like Ryou, daring the edge, without worry as she glanced with careless indifference to the figures moving down on the island below. No one had asked for her help in jumping, nor was there the need to push another unruly warrior or non-warrior over the cliff, so she had stayed were she was. Silent, and observing, per usual.

"By the one, that was... Eventful." Lillian hummed, lightly. Without any malice, but not without a certain air of annoyance flavoring her tone. Tsking under her breath, she turned away to follow the others' back to the Academy for the night.


When they 'arrived', he stopped, uneasily. He was not certain of the footing, which seemed even crumbly (even so far from the edge), and there was a new, odd sound playing at his ears. It was rushing water, he was certain, distant but still moving quickly enough and "falling" through air to make the 'rushing' sound that it did. And as he thought on it, he could only assume it to be a waterfall. He had it described to him how it should 'look' and sound, but he'd never really been able to hear one in person himself. Well, yet another fact of how different this world was from Earth. Earth still had some beautiful places, of course, but this Aires, hesh... It was just another world. He put it at that... As Ryou began talking again, Falke listened quietly, and politely in turn.

“-terrible actors...-jump off this cliff-..."

Falke blinked. What? He wanted them to… Um, no? He took a quick, hesitant step backwards, attempting to assess the situation ahead – and not finding much sense in it right off the bat. Listening to the varying reactions of the others, with a less than hopeful feeling at how few of the number had sanity on their sides apparently. Many were heightened by fear, but most controlled it enough to jump under their own power, or had help in doing so, and who everyone would have guessed to be thrown off something one day - was pushed off by two of the guardians to the watery depths bellow.

Personally, Tallyho had hit the nail on the head with her early comments in an attempt to get them out of jumping off a bloody cliff. While it had been a verbal slap to his face, more so with the fact that this was the first time anyone had actually admitted that he was blind since coming to Aires - and thus likely couldn't even remotely swim because of his disability. He'd paused momentarily to glance in her direction with a raised brow, but shortly had given her a short nod - not quite a thanks for stating the obvious, but acceptance of her use of words, even if it hadn't worked in their favor in the end.

It was true that he couldn’t remotely swim. Honestly, did you think his mother ever thought that he would have needed to be taught how to swim? He was blind. Being blind and learning how to swim and enjoying being in water in general (that wasn’t like a shower, or rain, anyway), just didn’t go hand in hand, period. Being able to know where the shore-line was to even swim to, yea, right, forget it...

While he was mentally freaking out, Falke remained stubbornly silent and still. His face hardly twitched with the raging of various emotions going on beyond the curtains so to speak, remaining carefully blank and neutral. Only his eyes seem to look perchance a little wider, with a faint hint of his relative unnerved-ness lurking in their depths, but hardly noticeable in the scheme of things. He wasn't trying to be defiant, or anything of that ilk. But, yes, he was quietly refusing to jump, or even for that matter state why jumping just wouldn’t be happening. Just… Anything wasn’t likely to be happening for him in a while. He wouldn’t be doing nothing. It was just, nope… Oh, he needed to quit being such an Angsthase.


It was simple comment, pausing for a visual or verbal response that he had heard them, which broke through his silent mental freaking out, caught his attention, and made him focus unto the person who had uttered it – it was Kyle, if his memory hadn’t faded and/or had happened to misplace someone’s name with someone else’s voice. Falke hadn’t even heard him approach, considering his mind had been inwardly focusing on other things, and his senses obviously weren’t exactly keeping him up to speed.

If his memory served, however, Kyle, was frankly one of those in the group that happened to lack some logical version of common sense in his honest opinion. He was impulsive, quick of temper in one direction or another or both at the same time, and seemed to enjoy their training like only an muscle-bound exercise nut would. He was the perfect living definition of the common idiom, Blinder Eifer ist Feurer ohne Licht. And to be truthful, he was almost weary of him just because of that.

Falke hadn’t even connected with him, or really anyone, since they’d arrived there. Why would he now want with him? Fei… He gave him a brief moment of his full attention in response. Polite as always, but leery seemingly in turn. Tilting his head slightly in Kyle’s direction, but his eyes, trying as they might, never did meet the general direction of the other’s eyes.

”I can help if you want it.”

Ah. Well… To be honest, no, he didn’t want his help; nor did he even want to jump for that matter. But for Harper’s fresh, spectacular failure at running away, and ultimately tossed off the cliff by the two Guardians, alone and out of his mind, it was doubtful they couldn’t get out of it by being unable to swim. However, his offer was honest, genuine even, and having someone make sure he didn’t drown wasn’t exactly a pleasant highlight, but perhaps something to begin putting trust in. Hah. Not bloody likely anytime soon, but for now, it would work well enough.

“Fine.” Falke grated out finally, the English mildly mangled by his harsh German accent (but mostly better than any other times he had spoken), in answer to Kyle. His tone clearly echoing his train of thought, not really distasteful of the situation at hand but not thrilled about it either, and perhaps a faint, very faint, thankful note buried in it.

But that thankfulness was buried further, when Kyle took his hand as if to lead him to the edge. His blearily listless eyes hardened abruptly, flattened, and glinted with dangerous intentions. Over the years, his mother had been the first and only one to start and continue holding his hand or guiding him around, and Otter, had taken her place when his individualism started to shine through as he grew older. Kyle was neither. Impatiently, Falke twisted his wrist and jerked his hand free with Kyle’s grip, and repeatedly swatted his hands away if and when he reached over to resume a better grip on him.

Falke stalked forward under his own power, toward the edge. Not without fear, but perhaps the mildly annoyed, clear anger he had felt since arriving with destiny shoved down his throat, and Kyle’s ‘honest’ attempts at helping, gave him a rain check on those feelings right now. He raised a foot in time with Kyle’s count, scuffling hesitantly until he found the edge, and was about to make the leap, and… Froze.

Kyle jumped ahead, by himself; and Falke, waited, standing on the edge alone, quietly. Putting his own anxiousness at the back of his mind, before making the ‘leap of faith’ on his own. Brother/sisterhood be dammed… Reluctantly, after a steadying breath, he let a steely tension appear in his shoulders, and leapt off the edge - alone, on his own, and by his own choice.

Argh! He didn’t expect the fall to be so far, and that he would gather so much speed before ultimately crashing into the lake. Then the pain of impact, water might have been better than bone-breaking ground or rock at that height, but it still hurt. The cool temperature of the water as he plunged into it shocked him enough to take in a startled breath of the same water surrounding him, and not the blessed oxygen he’d been hoping for. After a brief moment of struggle, finding that if he kicked his legs he moved, and by luck, he found the surface.

He gasped laboriously a breath of fresh, mountain air, spitting out the water from the first failed breath, and nearly sunk under again. He kicked his legs a little more strongly to keep above the water level, but it was such a disorienting struggle. Could he do this? Maybe. Now where was the shore? Kyle? Falke suddenly felt someone grab the collar of his shirt with a harsh tug in what he supposed was the right direction…

"We made it!" Falke barely heard Kyle’s exhausted exclamation, because he was out of breath, not terribly so, but enough that he hacked and coughed for minutes after being out of the water once they could stand and walk to the shoreline. He was fine, really, maybe a little oxygen deprived, because he’d gotten too much false-oxygen lake water. He had survived, and didn’t drown, whoppie. But Kyle’s over enthusiastic words of ‘making’ it, made him feel almost sick to his stomach after feeling like a nearly lost a lung. ‘Right’, ‘they made it’.

Finally, the coughs left him, and he focused on breathing slowly, perhaps a little heavily while trying to ease deeper breaths in. He was too tired to do anything else but wordlessly sit down where he was in the fine, grainy sand, while he resumed proper, healthy oxygen levels again he supposed. He felt soggy, inside and out. Huh, and very much like Otter on bath day’s for the poor mutt. Even, unfortunately, he noted that even wet people had a slightly unsavory scent to them as well. Or maybe it was just the lake water…

Falke raised a hand, wearily wiping away the streaming rivets of water off his face, and then moving on to ruffle through his hopelessly tangled, and very wet, hair in an attempt to make his hair fall down somewhat normally (and down, more or less) and squished out some of the water. And then rubbed with a wince to the red line his collar had left around his throat being dragged through the water, already beginning to purple with bruises to his fair skin. Great.

Focused mostly inwardly, he had not pay attention much to the goings on around him, or frankly cared much really. He had happened to notice the voices of others leaving the washing up unto the shoreline area, and heading toward somewhere that someone, Kat likely having been the first one to have jumped, had begun setting up a fire or a place to camp for the night; and Kyle had stayed beside him, catching his own breath, but also seemingly giving Falke company while he recovered as well the same time. It was odd for a relative stranger to even consider doing it, but not feeling abandoned or left behind was a nice feeling, he would admit inwardly to himself.

He caught snippets of the conversations going on further away: A couple potential drownings had occurred apparently, food rations left by the snot-nosed youth of the elite, and dreaded small talk seemed to be the topic between a couple of those from Earth, with Kwasi hesitantly but happily joining in.

Back home, small talk was generally reserved for the 30 seconds one was potentially stuck in an elevator with a stranger, and even then it was only used via a question and an answer basis; and even that was an annoyance he seldom, if ever, took or preferred to take part in. Now talking about his whole life story, or even a summary of it, was definitely not on his bucket list. He would imagine himself pressing his thumbs (or crossing his fingers, as English speakers knew the phrase) for Autumn in her effort to get to know everyone, if he remotely knew her in the first place, but… He wouldn’t be participating, that’s for sure.

Kat’s call was a welcome distraction, and Kyle too finally broke the silence between them both, long winded like he had always been. Falke had to narrow his eyes further, focusing intently on the jittering English dancing through the air, to be sure he understood what he was even saying completely, or likely just a close enough as he could. But the gist seemed to be directions, and a will not to allow the native Airian to eat all the food.

“Wery vell…” He muttered softly in answer to the other’s question, wariness dragging raggedly down on his attempts at English. Falke wasn’t very hungry himself at the current time, however, Kat was better, quieter company than the group crowded for small talk around the fire, if for a small moment. Reluctantly, he shakily stood, arms wind milling as he resumed and fought for balance; before making his way carefully over the shifting sand, under his own power, a few minutes behind Kyle.

As the pack was passed to him, he managed to grab a couple pieces of dried meat, like jerky, from the bag for himself, before passing it back to Kat as not to incur her wrath for Kyle taking it from her in the first place. But as Kyle started the same small talk with Kat, who Falke had a feeling didn't appreciate it all that much either, he stepped away from them both. Still close enough near the fire to enjoy it's warmth against his goosed flesh, but apart from either 'group', so as to not be included in any conversations as he silently chewed the food he'd pulled from the bag. Idly he sat down - wet, covered in sticky sand, and looking bedraggled - attempting to enjoy a few moments of peace.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Skylar Grayson Character Portrait: Kyle Keaton Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn
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True to his word, after waking in the morning, Dorian was pointedly mum on the subject of the night before, brushing that unwelcome and unpleasant memory under the proverbial rug in the company of so many other distressing thoughts that had been given the same treatment as of late. He soldiered on from there, one day during into two into three and so on until a week had passed, all of the days blurring together into a disorienting haze of structured monotony. In that way, he reflected, it was all very much like school if he was never allowed to leave and instead of learning about cosines, the periodic table, World War I, and how to accurately play Bach's Cello Suites, he was learning about Aires and how to survive on it. A lesson, of course, that he could have used a long, long time ago. If he'd known now what he'd known before, if he'd been as fit as he was now, if he'd known Aires, if he'd known how to survive...

Few things broke the exhausting tedium of lessons and painful training, but, as with anything, there tends to be exceptions to the rule. In this case, the introduction of meditation in the daily regimen. For most it was a welcome sort of break, a moment to relax and breathe and let themselves fall into a zen-like state of harmony. For others it was a way to connect with their ever promised powers, to find the ability deep within themselves to alter the world around them in some way, shape, or form. It should have been a task easy enough for Dorian given his relatively calm and quiet nature, but instead he found himself struggling viciously with meditation. For all of his stern and mild behavior, his mind was in a tumult, swirling and twisting around ideas and notions that would not leave him be. Clearing his mind, for the most part, was becoming an implausible task because, quite honestly and to throw in a simile that would meet his English teacher's approval, he felt like a boat without anchor, awash in an angry ocean, battered by waves on all sides in the form of exercises, his supposed group, and the situation that threatened to drown him. There was nothing to cling to apart from his long dead cellphone, the last of its battery life used up before he'd even found the Month Warriors again to provide a meager flashlight to fight off the darkness, and his watch that still cheerfully ticked away even if the time shown by the little hands didn't quite match with the foreign Airian days, but he'd never had the heart to go about changing the time.


"How do you meditate?" For all of his trouble with the exercise, Dorian decided that the first person he should go to- after an unsuccessful discussion with Haru at the beginning of all of this- was Ryou. When he realized that Ryou was almost always perpetually teaching lessons or otherwise occupied with his Academy job(which was his actual and very real excuse for being too busy to see them for the beginning of their stay at the Academy), he'd gone to Dae, one of the friendlier elites. He was always eager to assist anyone and everyone, even if, like in this situation, it was a little out of his depth.

"Personally?" He nodded.

"Alright, give us a second. I've never had to talk serenity before. Not my usual cup of tea. Let's see… Well, I kind of just start focusing on one thing- like, not a thought, really. Usually something physical, like I keep my hand on my sword or I focus on the grass I'm sitting on, yeah? Then I just really focus on that and everything else kind of just… melts away. Sorry, does that help?"

"I'm not sure."

"Yeah, sorry about that. Just give it a shot. Tell us how it goes, alright?" Dorian took some heart from the knight's crooked grin and, on his next meditation attempt, tried to put the practice into motion. He focused on anything he felt- the soil under his hands, the slightly rough texture of his clothes against his skin, the bracelet hanging ever heavy on his wrist… But to no avail. His mind simply wandered off to other things again, leaving him in the same position as before.


The field trips, however, were more pleasant than his mild attempts to calm the flurry of thoughts dancing around in his mind. He felt quite silly, of course, standing near mountain peaks, the sharp wind washing over him and the air thinner than he was accustomed to, waiting for something to click, something to happen. It was made all the more embarrassing my Haru's constant but encouraging presence in these little journeys, like he was waiting for something. Dorian had half a mind to remind him- to remind everyone- that they'd been the ones to call him the March Month Warrior- he'd personally never proclaimed to be anything less or anything more than Dorian Roberts. Still, the little trips weren't unpleasant and were actually, between all of the activities in his very busy day, quite enjoyable for what they were. There was something soothing about it, standing high up on the mountain and focusing on something quite tangible like the wind threatening to tip him over. It was, however, fortunate that he hadn't discovered his apparent proclivity for heights and windy days back in New York where it was far easier to find tall rooftops to linger on- knowing his neighbors, they'd probably have made a scene about it, asking him not to jump even if he calmly mentioned that he had no intention to do so, which would have been funny at first but then would probably devolve into pure annoyance for everyone involved.


"How do I meditate?' Liam had been Dorian's next choice, more due to the magician's generally easy accessibility given the fact that if one found Dae Grimm, they found Liam Valentine. The cloaked man seemed more intrigued by the idea of explaining meditation than his more action oriented counterpart, but Dorian was still rather hesitant to approach him. For all of his grace and elegance, there was something off-putting about a man who fought with a black, glowing energy and who seemed to take pleasure in the morbid things in life.


"Well, March Warrior, I personally like to focus on my energy and the way it connects with the world around me. I find it quite soothing to be interconnected with the rest of the world. Perhaps you could try concentrating on your wind powers?" Dorian, as it were, wasn't quite sure how he felt about someone like Liam being actively part of the world's energy flow.


One week bled into two, into three before life shifted and changed again and, unlike his unsuccessful attempts at meditation or his field trips that brought him further and further up the mountain, this was not a welcome change. Of course everyone was nervous about facing their monstrous enemy within the cage- nowhere to run, nowhere to hide- but he wasn't quite sure how much of that was a primal sort of terror where you should be terrified of giant monsters on principle and how much was a learned sort of fear in a 'Dear God that's a Cyclopean' as opposed to a 'Dear God that's a giant monster' sort of way. He tended to fall in the latter category of fear, which should be no surprise. In the three years that followed, he eventually had his chance to tell his story of where he'd been off to before Ryou found him and brought him back to the group. For the other Month Warriors, they'd been on Aires for too days; Dorian, on the other hand, had been there for at least two months. Two months not knowing where he was. Two months struggling to survive in the wild without any practical survival skills. Two months of- and this was the big one aside from the soul crushing loneliness and despair that clung to him still- Cyclopean sightings.

He'd never killed one past that first one in Central Park, but he knew the fear that came along with them now, had outrun them, sometimes nearly unsuccessfully as the scars littering his body now showed, hidden from them, seen what they could do when it came to not only animals but humans as well. So, yes, there was an element of primal fear there too, but glancing at the monsters brought up memories that could not be so easily quashed. It might have been a small one, but a small Cyclopean was still terrifying when you'd seen what they could do. It came back then, those feelings from before, before he'd been found. The soul-crushing loneliness, the fear of abandonment, the wondering if he would starve to death or not. If he'd never see a familiar face again and die just like that. Alone.

He went last, ushered into the cage and wishing desperately that a) no one would watch him and b) after all of the other Month Warriors, Haru would decide that that was enough for one day and send him on his way to fake meditate again. It was not to be so. The door clanged shut behind him and he was left with his quickly escaping wits and the still rusted battle-axe held in a painfully tight grip. His heart was racing now, pounding in his ears and adding a percussive sort of melody to the other sounds that filled the cage, a macabre sort of music blending his short, gasping breaths with the almost reptilian snarl of the Cyclopean advancing, his heart beat keeping tempo all the while. There were other noises, people outside the cage- but this was more of a duet than an orchestra and he couldn't focus on them because his opponent had sensed fear, sensed weakness and was moving faster now. The tempo sped up, the breathing escalated, the roar blared into the air. Then there was nothing but silence.


"Meditation?" Mori had come third in line if only because he preferred to be hidden away in the library as opposed to gallivanting around the campus with the rest of the students, Elite or not. As young as he was, the Month Warriors had quickly seen how his own well of knowledge dwarfed most adults, even if he did tend to be dreadfully haughty about it. It was a photographic memory mixed with good deductive and inductive skills, and a strategist's mind.

"How do you do it?" Mori paused a moment before taking pity on Dorian(who didn't know how he felt about a child pitying him).

"It probably won't help you," He admitted after a moment, shutting his book. "But I like to… listen. To whatever's around me. I concentrate on one thing- a bird song for instance- and then try to remember all that I've learned about birds. I get lost in the information. Sometimes meditation isn't about clearing your mind- it's about finding your center. I happen to have a very loud center."


"Dorian! Dorian!" The noise cut through the pre determined silence and Dorian blinked, eyelashes fluttering in a confused sort of way. The silence vanished as suddenly as it had appeared and he knew the situation once more. It was eerily similar, black blood staining his body, labored breathing, hands squeezing around his weapon in a death grip, which, like him, was saturated in foreign blood. Dark onyx shards littered the ground, not in a pile, but spread about in a haphazard sort of way, all around the cage. And then there was Ryou, standing in front of him, hands raised in a peace offering, golden eyes for once without a jolly twinkle. Now there was just concern as the Guardian took the axe from his trembling hands, struggling only slightly to get him to relinquish his grip. Then warm arms wrapped around him and it was only then that Dorian realized the wet on his face wasn't just blood, but hot tears that cascaded down his cheeks. The labored breathing was sobs as much as him being out of breath and, instead of pulling back, slipping his mask back on, he fell into the comforting hold.

He, as Ryou recounted to him an hour later after ushering him to Ryou's own rooms to give him a little privacy, had hacked the Cyclopean to pieces, which accounted for the onyx shards scattering everywhere and the copious amounts of blood as well. Dorian had for the next two hours, stayed there and it felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. A singular outburst of emotion that had been welling up within him for quite some time until he'd destroyed a creature that had tried to do him in, just like the rest of the elements he'd encountered before Ryou. The March Guardian stayed with him, seated next to him, rubbing soothing circles in his back and when the touch became too much, just shared his presence.

In that time, he meditated. His first successful attempt. He didn't focus on the bed beneath him to find a physical connection, he didn't concentrate on the slight breeze brushing in from the window, cooling the room, and he didn't focus on the noises from outside or within the room itself. Instead, he let himself think about today, about the emotions that had finally boiled over, and accepted those. He, as Mori had recommended, had found his center. So. This was why Haru had recommended meditation because, honestly, it felt fantastic.


Life began again and time marched forward after that day, as it tended to do, ignoring the meltdown as a slight blip on the cosmic timeline. Dorian soldiered on and felt, while not completely okay with the situation, better. Armed with the tools provided -meditation, quiet hikes up the mountain, alone or together with others- it was easier to continue on. He grew stronger, physically and he hoped mentally, even if he never went, as he'd secretly dubbed it "full Narnian", so named after the books he'd read as a child(and as an adult. No judge) and the children's desire to leave their own world behind to enjoy a world where magic was real and they were incredibly important. He still longed for Earth, his home, his father, but he could function around it now. It helped to keep busy. It also helped to find lifelines in the form of the other Warriors, even if he quite sure they didn't understand his way of thought.

Take for instance Tallyho, who'd risen from the category of "practical girl with common sense and no real drama" to the title of one of Dorian's closest, if not his closest, friend. She didn't understand his longing for Earth, for a single place in a single city, but she didn't have to to make their friendship work. It had begun, really, by her giving him the best gift he'd ever been given- electricity. It had been an accident, of course it had been, but a single shock had given life to his cellphone again, giving him access to all of the things from Earth he needed as a reminder of who he was back there, back then. Videos of his father and friends, his music, his photos- all a single touch away now with Tallyho's help. He hadn't been able to tell her how grateful he had been, so, instead, he'd offered to show it to her. Not the private things that he knew only held meaning to him- he was never one to inflict his own interest on people- but the things he knew she'd find fascinating.

They'd settled on art, a collection of paintings and drawing that cluttered his phone's memory, some from past projects at LaGuardia when he'd taken art history, others from museum trips, and still others that he simply found fascinating and had squirreled away in his phone's memory. Tallyho had shared the fascination and that was where their relationship truly began, stories woven of artists he'd never met and one or two that he'd had, tidbits of information or long biographies. It was a bonding point, of course, turned into the occasional quiz game where he'd simply show her a picture or spout off a name and have her fill the in the gaps. It was where their relationship had begun, but not where it ended as gratefulness on his part and curiosity on hers shifted to a real friendship with all the trimmings. Meal together, meditation side by side, the odd walk in the woods, and training during storms where electricity charged the air and the wind battered them.

Their friendship didn't surprise him, not like some of the others that had appeared before him. Harper was, of course, the most shocking of all. It had begun with a cello, just like Dorian's relationship with Sadie had, on the day of his mental break. At first, he'd expected another one-sided shouting match when Harper had asked him to visit after dinner, or another grilling session that he was most certainly not up to. Instead, he'd been presented with a sort of cello, bow and all. Harper had almost looked nervous when presenting the instrument- not quite a cello, but the closest thing he'd seen to it on Aires. That instantly made him move towards it, pulling the bow across the strings. Well, he'd realized when an awful noise resounded, it may look like a cello, but it wasn't. He'd seen the disappointment in Harper's gaze, probably mimicked in Dorian's own, so he'd made suggestions.

They'd met for a month, a forced and awkward relationship moving to small talk and idle chatter as the cello improved. Until, that is, the day it finally sang. It sang and sang and sang until Dorian's wrist ached from lack of practice and then, breaking the comfortable silence, Harper's quiet apology mixed with such an honest adoration for Sadie that Dorian did his best to forgive if not forget their past arguments. He's simply placed a hand on Harper's shoulder, squeezed, and thanked him, not just for the cello, but for being a good brother, no matter what he'd thought, to Sadie. Their relationship continued from there, filled with music and actually pleasant words, and a bond forged by a girl they both knew.

Other relationships fell into place as the years flew by- Autumn had weaseled her way into Dorian's life, something he reluctantly accepted at first until it became a given. She was a sweet girl- kind, peppy, but slightly insecure and he strove to help her when he could, offering an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on. She was like the sister he'd never had, except less obnoxious, he assumed, than actual siblings even if she could be a little irritating with her apparently endless cheer and the many, many tarot readings he'd had inflicted on him. Still, he liked her, a sunshine like presence so contrary to her own powers.

There was Skylar too, a comfortable sort of friendship forged from intersecting friend groups. Kyle, on occasion, as the two were neither good friends nor enemies, just something normal, like a classmate you worked on projects with. Falke was a reassuringly sane presence in the midst of the insane Academy, although neither were particularly close. Lux he knew mostly from Autumn, a stubborn but motivated girl. Gwen, who he'd never managed to connect with but who he was glad to see had filled out in a healthy way and no longer seemed to be going for every authority figure's throat. Xabier was- well, Dorian had no idea because the other boy seemed to find his presence as welcoming as, well, a Karma's- something to be endured but not liked. Dorian didn't find that he cared all that much. They were all decent people, he supposed, but he never let himself get too complacent. His goal was to help save Aires, however that may be accomplished, then go home, a thought that he dwelled on only by himself.

Then there was the Academy students as well. He attended classes more often than not and enjoyed all of the lessons for the most part. Ji Na was an incredibly intellect, wise but still somehow distant, slightly unobtainable for all of her gentle friendliness. Her friend and comrade Ben was similarly a distant sort of thing, meant to be admired and respected but not exactly connected with. Dae was a more friendly and open presence, helping with the physical aspects of training and still never beaten in hand-to-hand combat("Don't expect you to win. You may be Month Warriors and have powers, but I've been doing this for ages. Don't disrespect the normals, yeah?" he'd noted cheekily once after knocking Dorian to the ground with a swift roundhouse kick) and generally flitting about the Academy, offering help and a good laugh where he could. Liam was more distant, just as off as Ji Na or Ben, but his sheer proximity to Dae made him seem more approachable. He was slightly terrifying with a delight for the macabre and eerily, eerily calm. Still, his magic was something to be admired and he was incredibly patient when one had questions. Mori was, well, Mori, slowly entering the realms of being a pre-teen, dragged there kicking and screaming, of course. He was disturbingly intelligent, helping with fact-based classes like Airian history, and he described events and ideas in such detail that you almost had to understand. He was a bit of a brat- not nearly as bad as Karma- but it was nice to see a kid being a kid, especially when he demanded that Dae carry him around campus or when he blew raspberries at particularly rude students. Ryou was in a league of his own, taking a more hands on approach with all of them, but carefully reserving a sort of centering time for Dorian to focus on March related things. He was his savior, after all, rescuing him from months in the wilderness, and Dorian had never forgotten that or his wonderfully kind behavior towards him post meltdown.

People change as you get to know them, relationships change when you're thrown together, and you change by what impacts you and what you go through. Dorian had grown stronger, physically and mentally, his axe now like an extension of his arm than an imprecise weapon to be seen only wielded in Lord of the Rings. It arced through the air now as he finished training for the day, shards of onyx littering to the ground, never quite as gruesome as kill number one in New York or kill number two on Aires. He, for once, escaped it without any blood spatters despite his weapon being one of the messier ones, and skipped the fountain everyone else seemed to linger at. He was starving, after all, given the intense work outs both mental and physical that he put himself through for the sake of training.

He came in at the tail end of the conversation about the hangings- they had been big news for everyone in the Academy because, yes, there had been people who'd claimed to be Month Warriors in the past, according to Dae, but never when the Academy students knew actual Month Warriors to actually exist. He nodded a mixed hello and goodbye to Ji Na as they passed and settled at the table with Falke and Tallyho, going for his own meal, now more substantial and delicious than the basics they'd been provided with in the beginning.

"You guys doing alright?" He greeted, automatically passing his bowl of Banya towards Tallyho. It wasn't that he disliked to fruit, it just wasn't his favorite and Tallyho enjoyed it far more.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Dorian Roberts Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ryou Zerinn Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Falke der Herrscher
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Tallyho took Dorian’s offer graciously but she certainly didn’t hesitate. Despite being pretty full already the blonde ate his and even Falke’s banya almost as quickly as she ate her own.

“I’m fine. Not really looking forward to more training but you know…”

Technically she didn’t have to do it. Haru pretty much freed them from the earlier, more rigorous training ritual he enforced before. By now he figured that they cared enough to take responsibility for their bodies.

Without any warning Tallyho reached over into Dorian’s pocket and pulled out the familiar black rectangle. By now she gained a certain concept of how to use it. It was pretty magical really, all she had to do was touch a picture and she had control over everything. The only picture that wouldn’t work was the one in the likeness of the planet. Dorian told her before that it wouldn’t work because Aries didn’t own a wifi (whatever that was) but she didn’t believe him. Aires had a lot of things after all. What did he know? Therefore, she took it upon herself to check on its status from time to time.

She tapped around for a while before finding her pictures, the first one to come up being a work by Hieronymus Bosch. Tallyho tilted her head to the side. All of the people in his paintings were so tiny—precious even. Too precious to be participating in some of the…well utter bullshit they were getting themselves into. Okay… maybe they weren’t precious per say, but Tallyho still felt concerned whenever she found a scene in his paintings she hadn’t noticed before. The man put a lot of time in his work, adding fine details to every inch of his vision but the blonde couldn’t help but feel like the artist was a little tortured.

“You know,” she hummed to the table, “I overheard Haru talking to Ryou about getting us fitted for armor sometime soon.”

Tallyho still wore dresses from time to time because they made her feel freer. But she found pants to be a lot more accommodating for the training they were doing. Besides, it wasn’t like the girls really got to wear their pants when they went out into the city. Tallyho took advantage of the opportunity and honestly, she couldn’t understand how people like Autumn could stand to jog around in an apron for three years.

She slurped down the rest of her soup before popping up from her pillow. It was getting late and Tallyho didn’t particularly care for running up and down the mountain during sunset.

“Falke and I will see you around.”

Three years. Three years and shit was getting a little bit easier, yes. But Haru Karokov still didn’t feel like the team was at their very best. Or maybe they were? He wouldn’t know because of the lack of direction. While he found that the kids (as a whole) were a lot more manageable, he still needed more to work with. Haru was a superb strategic planner but what could he improve next? He’d spend his evenings with a cigarette poised between the pearl clasps that were his teeth, thinking about what he could do to make training more efficient.

He wasn’t sure if he was doing everything—if anything—right. There were no signs from the Goddess, just long, dragging days, all prayers unheard and if they were heard then very silent answers. He wondered how many years they would have to spend at the academy before they reached enlightenment. How many more ritualistic cyclopean kills. How many more walks up and down and through the mountain.


And Haru wasn’t the only one. Tallyho too wondered when their journey could begin. After a smack talk laden sparring session with Falke the young woman continued training. She trudged up the mountain path, her slender calves pulsing with an acidic drive. When she reached the top she would lean forwards and graze the dirt with slender fingers before turning on the ball of her foot and trudging down the path like a wild boar. Tallyho did this until the sky was orange and she was laid out on her running path, heart pounding, chest heaving, and belly facing the sky with a special familiarity. She could not hear her breathing through the cicada songs.

The blonde rolled over onto her side to face the world beyond the mountain. Tiny trembles of light were seen from the city far below. Had she not spent the day training, she might have gone down for a drink.

All she’d need was her scarf which she made a ritual of using to cover her hair. She realized long ago that there was a difference between the month warriors and everyone else. Whenever they went down to town Tallyho felt like she was supposed to be harboring a secret. And maybe she was. But it wasn’t like she really made a point of not telling outsiders about her status as a Month Warrior. It just never came up in conversation.

Though, judging by what happened in the RK, maybe it was good that she never felt compelled to explain her situation to any old stranger. She could imagine herself hanging from the gallows, her small white body drowning in an even whiter robe with a rope burnt neck as dark as an elderberry. That was what happened to people who made a habit of speaking too much. That was what always happened.


Soft clicking noises could be heard farther down the path. Tallyho sat up in a hurry to find Mr. Vo’s ox cart dawning over the dip in the path. There were a couple of students in the back, one of them being Kwasi who spent a significant amount time with Mr. Vo helping with the garden in exchange for many trips down to the city. One time Tallyho asked what business he had down there and he told her that he’d been spreading the word just as he had before he was saved by the group.

Kwasi spotted Tallyho and offered a kind wave. He really hadn’t changed so much. Three years ago he did seem a bit on the boyish side. But now he was a man with the same innocent attitude and beautiful, kindly, holy hands. He kept his head shaved and monk robes clean. Sure he had to replace a pair of sandals or two but he still managed to keep true to his aesthetic despite Kat’s silent but effective teasing.

Mr. Vo stopped the cart allowing Tallyho to move towards the path wall.

“Another long day of training?” Kwasi asked as the cart restarted its wobble past.

“You guessed right,” Tallyho said, allowing it to move in front of her before effortlessly hitching onto the back for a ride to the top of the mountain. “Did you go down there yelling your banter again?”

“If that’s what you want to call it.”

Kwasi was too polite to question why Tallyho was so resistant to the Goddess. Not only was she a Month Warrior but if she was of the lineage he thought she was from—and the hair really gave it away—then her denial of the entity made even less sense.

They rode in brief silence until Mr. Vo’s cart rounded at the fountain. Tallyho jumped out of the back and bid goodbye to Kwasi before a small force ran into her, staggering her from the waist down.

Karma pulled her small shoulder out of Tallyho’s thigh before running around her. Her eyes trained on the back of Mr. Vo’s cart. A small coin sack wrinkled in her fist.

“Don’t tell me you bozos decided to go to flipping town without me!? I JUST found my money!”

“Yesterday I told you that we were leaving at daybreak,” Kwasi called calmly.

“I want candy! You could have waited a few more hours!” The child yelled as she chased after.

Tallyho furrowed her brows. Karma had no concept of time and it didn’t seem like she planned on finding one.


As the small girl disappeared around the corner, Tallyho slowly backed towards the forest. After the jumping incident Haru showed them a path to the water that was way quicker and did not require one to jump from an obscene height. She meandered on the edge of the beach for a proper place to bathe, finally deciding on a shady spot that was hidden behind the leaves of a low hanging branch. After stripping down, she made a brisk pace into the water, melting into its murky blue as quickly as she could until it was below her nose. Blonde curls swam on the surface with moss and lily pads, her eyes closed until the moon was fresh on the blue-black sky.

She dragged herself out of the water and redressed quickly. It became a little difficult from time to time with so much hair sticking to her back and shoulders. Every now and again she’d wince as she yanked a few unnoticed tresses in her hurry. Even in the dead of night she was never comfortable bathing in the lake knowing that there was a population of 300 nearby. She didn’t even use the bath houses and made trips like this quick (maybe not painless) and certainly discreet.

Finally dressed, Tallyho stalked back up to the academy with wet hair swung over her shoulder. On her way back to her building she passed the clearing. Had she been more careless she would have totally forgotten about her episode in the clearing and the hot jewels that burned a hole into the lap of her dress. But the fear wasn’t as crippling as it had been. In the years after she hadn’t been tossed into any other strange occurrences. She couldn’t even remember where the flaming man’s footprint singed the soil.


That night Tallyho dreamt of being stranded on a beach. The island was naked and there were no trees to shield the young woman from the sun’s baking gaze. She tried to plea with the island but the only thing she owned was a pinecone. Desperate, she told the island that she would feed her only beloved pinecone to the soil if it bore her a tree. The island, extremely hungry, said yes and she planted it. She waited seven days and nights for the shade she was promised but nothing came. Then she became angry and yelled at the island.

The island was saddened and complained to the sun who alerted the clouds who came to the island’s defense. They darkened, threatening Tallyho with barks of thunder but she was not scared. She told the clouds that she could control their greatest weapon. That she could control lightning. Offended, the clouds pelted her with rain which cooled the young warrior. Eager for more water, she taunted the clouds with more insults. They became so angry that they began to spit fire. Tallyho was frightened, and with no mighty tree to hide under she was forced to perish by the whim of the raining flame tears.


The blonde fell in and out of consciousness, her hands drifting to her face involuntarily to swipe away layers of sweat. She tossed back and forth too hot in any position she managed and lifted her shirt to expose her damp stomach. Soft screams were flooding in from all sides. Tallyho hacked and rolled over again, this time covering her ears.

A firm grasp to the elbow ripped her out of her sleeping trance. Green eyes popped open, eager but bloodshot. Tallyho could hardly register that someone was yelling something in her ear before the same force that woke her lifted her by the elbow, off of the ground, and onto ill prepared feet.

“Get up…….Fi….. Get…..”

A young woman Tallyho had never spoken to before was yelling at her in an incoherent language. She took Tallyho by the shoulders and shook her into clarity, the segments of sounds working hard to form words and finally an understandable sentence.

“Fire! Fire! Come on get out!”

Tallyho glanced around the room with saucer eyes that were tantalized by the orange glow that overtook the girl’s wing. The paper walls were blackening and being eaten by eager flames with little mercy or patience. The unfamiliar girl, sure that Tallyho had finally gotten the message darted away, presumably to wake another heavy sleeper.

Finally thinking at full speed the blonde reached for her sword, clutching it as tight as she could before meandering into the hall where academy girls were shoving past, bumping elbows and trampling on one another. Tallyho tried to think quickly about which female warriors slept where and how she would get them up. Realizing that she had little time to think, the blonde plowed through the gaggle of frightened students, contrasting the natural movement of the line and moving away from the exit which frankly pissed a lot of people off. Every time she caught sight of one to the Month Warrior girls huddled in their burnt out stations she offered a hoarse and rude awakening.

“HEY! Get up! Get outta here.”

As she moved farther back into the blazing building, she made a mental checklist of every warrior she managed to notify. This didn’t help however. She was a little too frightened to remember who had been woken up and who hadn’t. So Tallyho, despite her better judgment, moved to the back to the building until she hit the back wall.

She looked back at the exit—girls were still struggling to escape and there was no way in Aires that Tallyho was going to get out on time coming all the way from the back. A flaming support beam plummeted down from the ceiling, crushing a few girls in the middle mark of the chaotic line and blocking the girls in the back from exiting. Some girls tried to slide through the crevices of the fallen beam only to have their clothing burst into flames. It was a test of human kindness—the other girls would not help the ones who were burning alive, even beat them away for fear that they too might catch on fire.

But in situations like these somehow it was okay to be selfish.

With the scent of burning flesh overtaking the hall and Tallyho backed into a corner, she began to panic. She looked for a way out and her sights fell upon a small window that barely had enough space for one person to crawl through at a time. Then her sword.

She smashed at the back window with the hilt and other girls joined, the resilient glass crumpling into web-like designs before shattering. A cry of victory roared from the back and soon girls were toppling out of the window one by one. Tallyho almost stayed behind to let more girls go through the window before her, but that martyrdom was stolen from her by a group of upperclassmen who showed a kindness, leadership, and support that Tallyho hadn’t witnessed from students at the academy before.

Despite how easy it was to knock the window out, it was a different story when it came to climbing up onto its seal. Two older girls knelt down in front of the window. Their strong knees perched in front of one another’s to make an impromptu stepping case. Tallyho gripped two hands of very different textures and life stories as she planted a foot on each young woman’s lap. In this mob of desperate human lives Tallyho suddenly felt like just another academy student. It was an average student who had woken her up and it was average students who were maintaining order, holding Tallyho’s hands and letting her literally step on them in order to help her, and few others get out alive.

Before leaning out of the window, Tallyho looked at one of the young women. Her eyes were blue, jawline strong and narrow and somehow this made her come off as a bit of a tomboy with her short black hair barely pulled into a pony tail. The blonde nodded thank you and the upperclassman nodded back.

After that Tallyho didn’t waste any time straddling over the seal and tumbling onto the pavement. She barely escaped with a deep nick on her left inner thigh caused by leftover glass. Finding no time to wince over her new cut, the February Warrior—no, girl, because she felt like a girl again— stood up and ran out to the courtyard where she knew everyone else would congregate. The entire—entire—academy was ablaze. No structure spared.

Tallyho plowed through students who were standing around looking for their teacher with panic stricken eyes. Tallyho was looking for her teacher too. Haru was nowhere in sight. And she hadn’t run into any of the other warriors yet.

The only familiar face was a distraught Mr. Vo. The old man was standing ankle deep in the fountain trying to garner the attention of students who were just too scared to listen.

“Everyone stay in the courtyard! Everyone stay in the courtyard!”

His soft, old face stained with tear trails from watching his beloved ox burn alive in their barns.

“Everyone stay in the courtyard!”

From his staggered breaths Tallyho could tell that his old heart wasn’t used to so much excitement or tragedy. She meandered over to the fountain, the cut in her thigh sending a sting through her body but she didn’t even care anymore. She jumped at a sudden crash. The roof of the girl’s wing had completely collapsed.

From the wreckage that was the elite housing little Karma came walking. She was not marching, just walking. The light from the fire illuminating the bags that puffed up under her eyes from a disturbed sleep. Such an old feature on a young face. She looked like she was lost, stumbling through a place that she used to know. Her eyes were glazed with tears, snot crusted on her upper lip, and Mr. Vo saw her and embraced her.

Another loud crash. This time it was an explosion from the medical lab. Tallyho wondered about Ji Na.

Another. This time from the stables.

“Everyone stay in the courtyard! Everyone stay in the courtyard!”

No one would stay in the courtyard.

Some students made a break for the forest while others fled to the crumbling dormitories hoping to salvage the twisted bodies of friends from the wreckage. Kwasi was sitting on the ground of the courtyard praying. Chanting the same damned prayer over and over.

“May the Goddess save our souls for we have been wretched enough to witness such tragedy. May the Goddess save our souls for we have been wretched…”

Tallyho bowed her head and half of her almost wanted to pray too. Instead she clutched her head in her hands, covering her ears.

Another explosion, another roar of cries.

She wasn’t even positive if any of the other female warriors had gotten out alive. And what about Dorian? Where on Aires was he? And Xabier, wasn’t he afraid of fire? Falke was blind…. Autumn? She wasn’t even sure if the other female warriors made it out of the building before it collapsed. She wondered this already but she couldn’t help but relapse. She would have even felt comfort in knowing that Harper was alive. She wanted nothing more than to get up and be girl with the nerves of steel again—to get up, go and find out if anyone was still alive—but her legs were too weak, folding under her like ribbons, blood striping down from her thighs to her ankles.


The blonde looked up to see Haru stalking towards her. His red hair glowing against the fire. His clothes ruined, face smudged with ash.

“Keep a look out for the others. We have to stay together.”

Tallyho, excessively nervous, threw up all of her precious banya on Haru’s shoes. But he did not jump back, make a face, or even look surprised. Instead he gently scratched her back and it was the most comforting thing he had ever done for her. He then looked over at Karma who was still petrified in Mr. Vo’s arms.

“Karma. Hey… Listen to me. Have you seen Ryou?”

She did not respond. Instead she looked to the east with a glazed expression. A cold tear rolling down her round cheek.

“Karma. Where’s your dad, huh?”

Karma did not answer. Instead she pointed at the forest entrance. There was the silhouette of a man on fire, walking towards the academy with an unsettling calmness.

“Ryou?” Haru’s voice was strong. He squinted through the smoke, eager to get a response.

“That’s not Ryou,” Tallyho, who had been watching said with a shudder.

That’s the flaming man.”


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Harper Calloway Fields Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Autumn Jones Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Kit Withers
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#, as written by Linnea
Kit spent the night mulling over the hangings in his home country. They were brutal spectacles. And the robes, the pure white robes. He had nightmares that night.

The smell of smoke was always welcome in the Jones household. Smoke meant meals by the fireplace or burnt meals that ended up as a family joke. It meant incense that lit up and calmed the room.

The only time fire ever threatened her was when she was on a field trip to see firefighters. They told her of the danger and in her young mind she was terrified. As she grew older, she became less interested in fire prevention and more interested in the firefighters themselves.

All in all, fire was positive for her.

It was positive until she heard Tallyho’s voice. She didn’t even see the girl after she woke up, she only heard the crackling flames and the screams of other students. It took a moment for her to fully comprehend the situation. She almost thought that she had been back at home.

Her weary eyes opened quickly. The light was what first alerted her to the danger.

She grabbed her bag and weapon, despite what she learned in her youth, and fled.

The voices rang in her head in a cacophony as she tried to shove her way through the crowd. More and more voices entered her head, pleading for escape. Some didn’t even realize that they were dead.

Autumn passed through a student briefly before nearly stumbling over their burning corpse.

She couldn’t even tell who was living or dead at this point.

Her heart pounded so loud that her head hurt.

The smoke stung her eyes as she ran, realizing that she hadn’t even warned the others. There was someone else to do that, right? Someone had to be helping. Of course, it was Tallyho. Tallyho had helped. She could rely on Tallyho.

It was too hot. She felt like she was already burning. It was hot and she needed to escape.

It felt like years had passed. Time moved slowly as faces blurred. Some tried to guide her to the exit. Autumn followed.

She fell to the floor, crawling in a desperate attempt to try and get some oxygen. Her face was pouring sweat and her weapon was burning to the touch.

She barely made it out.

She spilled out of the doorway and ran into the courtyard, desperately trying to find the others as she coughed. Pink hair. Safe, comforting, familiar pink hair. Tallho and Haru, too. Autumn scrambled towards them, only to be pulled back.

Kit gripped her shoulder tightly, his eyes fixated on the forest. “Don’t move.”

Autumn dropped her weapon, no longer able to stand the burning metal.

“W-“ She couldn’t speak. She couldn’t even question what was going on. She could only stand there and tremble as Kit pulled out his daggers. His bag was covered in soot and the straps were completely torn, leaving him with no choice but to carry it.

“We’ll be fine. We’ll be just fine.” His voice was gentle. As gentle as a voice could get when it had inhaled so much smoke.

The smell was enough to make her feel like puking.

She fell instead.

Kit was there to catch her.

The spirits were screaming at this point, barely any spoke. Most of them were students.

She could only hope that they weren't her comrades.

Only a few could be heard, some she had met before, their dead lips pressed close against Autumn’s ears.

“It’s them. They’re coming.” They whispered.

“It’s Amber.”

Autumn had no idea who Amber was. If this were any other day, she might have asked.


Characters Present

Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Karokav Character Portrait: Kwasi Ihejirika Character Portrait: Karma Chu Character Portrait: Mr. Vo Character Portrait: Amber (Edwin Bradley)
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The flaming man.
“What did you say?” Haru did not look at Tallyho but the blonde knew that he was speaking to her. Another roar erupted from the boy’s dormitory. Tallyho covered her ears with eager, ashy palms.
“The flaming man.” she said again. This time her voice was louder. That was the man she saw in the forest. The singed footprint. The burning rocks. The flaming forest.
“He is the flaming man!”
Haru squinted at the figure. He found no use in asking if he had been the one to cause the fire because it was more than obvious. So he asked the second most important question:
“Who the fuck are you?”
The flames around the man dissipated but his silhouette was still prominent against the black forest. A low orange glow emanated around his figure. Haru likened this glow to the end of a cigarette when the life was sucked out of it by a nicotine thirsty s.o.b like himself. But this man, he was far from being devoid of life. As the figure pulled out of the darkness his featured began to form.
The “flaming man” seemed to be in no hurry really. The ground below him sizzled, dark boots sinking into the ground with off-beats and complete certainty. He was a firm figured man that rose at a sturdy 6’2 and was weighed down by a muscular build. The light consumed him slowly. Revealing the little things, white skin dark hair, heavy stubble. An eye patch clung to his left eye—with pride even! His footsteps, once identified by the thick sizzle of leaves were now known by small tongues of flame.
“Who are you?” Haru asked again.
The man stopped. He seemed offended and this frightened Tallyho. He did not answer right away however. Instead he slowly lifted his arm into the hair. His palm facing the sky growing hotter until fire licked the beds of his fingernails and soon a small ball of light was billowing up in the air.
It seemed anti-climactic really. Everyone watched with awe as the little fireball rose slowly before hitting an arc and succumbing to gravity. Haru’s expression, mouth twisted, brows furrowed, did not betray the feeling of perplexity that overcame him. The arc in his brows softened however as he thought about the man’s action. Certainly there was more to this?
“Get back…” he huffed. No one moved and maybe it was because they thought he was talking to the mysterious man. “I said get back!” This time he was louder, and turned to the others. He even made a point to stumble away from where it looked like the rapidly shrinking ball of fire was going to land. Random students obeyed, moving away in staggering waves. Mr. Vo hardened his grip on Karma and waded out of the fountains water with the help of Kwasi who found that prayer wasn’t appropriate for this situation.
It wasn’t until the majority of bystanders were safely behind the fountain that the fireball landed, whittling away in the pavement.
It wasn’t that Haru was disappointed that something more didn’t happen. But he was extremely pissed off by the man’s…lack of straight forwardness.
Haru stood up and moved towards him again and the crowd began to draw near with a sheep like loyalty. The little ball of fire was nothing but an ember on the rocks.
“I will ask you one more time. Wh—“
An explosion.
It all seemed to happen in a split second, really. The ember, generally understood to be harmless, expanded rapidly. The ground around it shuddering to rubble sending rocks flying. Haru was tossed back into the fountains edge. The half wall slamming into the back of his knee at an unsettling force. A slew of rocks coming down on him, and everyone close enough to the front of the crowd for that matter. Tallyho winced as a hunk of stone pelted into the one arm that was (thankfully) hovering above her head in an uncertain way of protection. Her other hand gripped her thigh, warm crimson reeling over the crevices of clenching fingers.
Dark smoke overtook the area where the flaming man stood. Haru could not see him but he could definitely hear him. A dark husky voice that dragged with a bit of claw—
“Call me Amber.”