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Kris Li

0 · 614 views · located in Aires

a character in “Birthstone Spirits: The Revival”, as played by Loverofmusic97

Description

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Image
────KRIS LI ────
Full Name: Kris MinLi
Age: 19
Gender: Male
Month: December


PHYSICAL APPEARANCE───────────────────────────────────────────
Kris stands at about 5' 10" and so in his home country (South Korea) he is considered fairly tall but in the United States he is closer to average. He is fully Korean and so his hair and eyes are naturally dark, the latter having an elegant slant to them. He does, however often wear contacts and has his hair colored or bleached at almost all times. His nose is wide and his lips pouty and full. He has an overall oval shaped face however his jawline is quite sharp, accentuating his features. Though he is not over-muscled he does possess a quite muscular physique as he has maintained a strict workout and diet routine for most of his life. Though he has had several different haircuts and different ways of styling it, at the moment is is grown out a bit and brushed so that it falls in a diagonal slant over the left side of his face. His clothing is always perfectly matched uet each outfit is unique and all its own. It would be impossible to pin him down to one fashion or one style. Suffice it to say he is a trendsetter. To others, looking at him from a distance he might seem a bit closed off or unapproachable as he generally moves with his hands in his pockets and his head down or forward.

────────────────────────────────────────────────── PERSONALITY
Kris had a very unique childhood. Because of that he can seem quite shy whenever he is in one on one conversations with others. He is an introvert but can easily behave like an extrovert if it is required of him. Throughout his life he has had a very singular vision and that is furthering his career so he can seem heartless at times or selfish because of how much he is devoted to bettering himself, however this is mostly because he has difficulty connecting to other people on an emotional level. He is extremely hard-working and dedicated to anything he puts his mind to; he is extremely persistent. He has been called a pessimistic person but he isn't, rather he is realistic. He sees no use in lying to someone saying that something or some situation is going to get better whenever it seems to him that they will not. This sometimes has gotten him into trouble in some higher societal circles. He is not easily angered but when he is, his anger can be intense and long-lasting. In short, he feels deeply, but has difficulty expressing these feelings or letting them manifest themselves.

HISTORY ──────────────────────────────────────────────────────
Kris MinLi was born in Incheon, South Korea to a wealthy family. His father worked as a doctor and his mother as a lawyer. He was their only child. Since he was little his parents had wanted him to be a doctor or a lawyer just like one of them, however, growing up he always wanted a career in singing. Well his parents would have nothing of it and forbid him to pursue any sort of singing career, saying he wasn't talented enough or attractive enough to make it in that industry. This would not dissuade him. At eight years old he snuck out of the house, accompanied by his grandmother and auditioned for an entertainment company based in Seoul. When he returned his parents were furious with him and his grandmother for the deception. He was disciplined and assured that he would not hear anything back from the entertainment company. A couple of weeks later his grandmother recieved a call from the entertainment company saying they wanted Kris to sign a ten year contract with the company. His grandmother was elated and rushed to tell his parents. His parents were hesitant at first but eventually acquiesced. Thus began Kris' career in the entertainment industry. He began training at eight years old. He trained in singing, dancing, acting and modeling. At fifteen he was paired with two other male trainees to form the kpop boy group called TRInity. After that the three of them began training together and were given an apartment. Kris and another member of TRInity became romantically involved. Not long after he came to his mother and confided in her that he was gay. Her response was beating him with a broomstick until he swore that it wasn't true. His boyfriend at the time, after hearing what happened to him, couldn't face his parents and shortly thereafter left TRInity, the company and left Kris as well. The only other person he told about his sexuality was his manager who though she accepted it said that without a doubt he could not come out publicly as it would lower his appeal to their target audience. Since then he has found it difficult to open up to people. The third member of TRInity was replaced and they debuted shortly after. TRInity did quite well, releasing several hit songs and albums. They won several awards and toured all over South Korea and the surrounding area: Japan, China, Indonesia and Thailand. Kris became the face of a skincare company and a clothing line, also starring in several films and kdramas. Two years after, TRInity embarked on their first world tour as their fans spread across the oceans into Canada, Australia, United States and the United Kingdom. Now, at nineteen, TRInity is in the U.S. performing in New York.

So begins...

Kris Li's Story

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Character Portrait: Kris Li
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Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. The sun shone through the glass panes onto Kris Li's eyes as he hung upside down from a pull-up bar. Sweat ran up his bare torso dripping onto the floor. He synchronized his breathing to his movements: exhale as he sat up and inhale as he let himself fall back down. It was 6:18am, and he'd been working out for an hour. He had been on this schedule since he was eight years old and he doubted anything would get him off of the schedule. He believed strongly in protocol, in tradition, in strict regularity; it was almost militaristic. If only his other band members saw things in a similar fashion. Xiao and Rem were supposed to be here with him. He was not, however, surprised by their tardiness and indeed would not be surprised if their tardiness turned to absence. On the contrary, he knew where both of them were. Rem would be waking up in about 6 hours with a pounding hangover and wondering who it is lying beside him. Xiao, had a habit of self-medicating his homesickness. He had not been to China in 8 years and missed his family terribly. He stayed in a variety of drugged states to numb his anguish. Throughout all of this, Kris stayed true to his regime. This was not to say that Kris was free of all vices, for that was far from true. However, he had much better self-control and was more suited for playing the game that all celebrities must play: the balance between the private life and the life that the world sees. This wasn't due to natural born skill, of course, he had to become an expert in the art of creating facades.

After reaching his goal and doing one more just for good measure he grabbed hold of the pull up bars and lowered himself to the ground. He was a bit light-headed from having hung upside down for so long. Swiping a towel off a nearby rung, he wiped down his torso and neck. He retrieved his shirt and his ring that he had placed aside during his workout. The ring was the only memento he had from his first and, well, only relationship. It had ended badly, but his feelings for his ex-boyfriend had not faded and deep down he knew, or hoped at least, that Kai's feelings for him had not changed either. He still held out a semblance of hope that one day they might be able to be together. Their lives simply hadn't aligned... then. Maybe one day that could change.

Both Kai and Kris were born in December. Kai had given him the ring on Kris's birthday: December 7th. Kris would never forget that night. Kris had thought that Kai had forgotten it was his birthday; he had said nothing all day and Kris wasn't about to remind him if he forgot. Because of this Kris had been a bit cold to him all day. At the end of the day when Kris got back to his room he found a single white rose laying on his pillow. The rose had been sprayed with some sort of sparkling spray and even looking at it from the doorway the glimmer was visible. It was beautiful. There was a note underneath it stating directions to a spot outside that Kai wanted to meet. It had snowed heavily the day before and the land was thick with snow, but nevertheless Kris bundled up and went to the spot that the note described. Kai was there, lying on a stretched out sheet in a quiet, peaceful, secluded area so that they would not be witnessed. A cup of hot cider had obviously been prepared for his arrival. It was then that Kai gave him the ring placed at the center of another white rose that rested on a heart-shaped mound of snow, and then that Kai had kissed him for the first time. The ring was fourteen karat white gold. The band bore miniscule beads in the center running all around it. At the top was an exquisite snowflake design with a large turquoise stone(Kai and Kris' birthstone) as the centerpiece. Twelve smaller accent stones surrounded the centerpiece set into the outer fractal designs of the snowflake. It was breathtaking. Kris felt that, though Kai was gone, he somehow would always have him close by.

As he exited the gym a couple of girls were walking in. They oogled him. Despite his wishes he flashed them a flirty smile. Kai had hated the hypocrisy of it all. That's why he had chosen to leave rather than live a lie. Kris had not been ready to make that decision.This life had been all he'd known. He didn't know how to give it up; he didn't know if he even could. He didn't want to end things with Kai, but Kai gave him an ultimatum. Kai couldn't live a life of secrets, Kris didn't know any other way and so they had split paths and they had not spoken ever since. But Kris thought about him every day.

Kris got back to his room, luckily the members of TRInity didn't have to share a room, but Xiao's crying was audible as their rooms were next to each other.

"The things that go on offstage...." Kris thought to himself, dosing of for a bit.

"Would you shut him up." Rem came bursting through the door that adjoined their rooms, one hand up at his head, the other finishing pulling his underwear on.

"Unless you've got a ticket to China don't expect that anytime soon. What do you want?"

"I need to use your phone for room service. We somehow broke the phone in my room last night and I need coffee bad. Hey, can you order? Your English is better."

"Fine, just put some pants on."

Kris ordered a coffee, black, in English. As he was doing so, Xiao came in from the next room. His face was streaked with tears.

"They're not answering my calls. Mom said I need to learn independance." Xiao stuttered, his breathes ragged.

Rem groaned. "I can't speak Mandarin this early in the morning, Kris, you deal with it."

"Sorry. It just reminds me of home." Xiao explained, switching to Korean with some trouble. "Can you..." He held out an empty syringe and a jar full of clear liquid to Kris, a pleading look in his eye. "My hands are too shaky."

"God, Xiao." Kris ran a hand through his white hair.

"Please. I-I need it."

Reluctantly, Kris filled the syringe up halfway.
"I need to get out of here." Kris said, rising to leave.

I'm not staying to babysit it!" Rem called as Kris shut the door.

At times like these, Kris liked to go to still, quiet places like the one where he had his first kiss. There was only one such place in the middle of New York: central park. It wasn't quite as still as he would have liked but it would have to do. He chose to walk instead of taking a taxi which allowed him to let off some steam before he arrived. Upon his arrival, he laid down on a collection of rocks and gazed up at the sky, trying to slow his breathing and calm his nerves. He wore a cap over his white hair and sunglasses in an attempt to disguise his identity. TRInity's concert was in three days. It had sold out less than an hour after tickets were released so there was no doubt that he had fans scattered all about him, not knowing that their idol was so close by. He sat up as a cat grazed his arm, walking past him towards a girl who was starting to pour food out for them. It paused its trek for a short scratch behind the ears then continued towards the girl with a meow that Kris supposed meant its gratitude. He smiled, lying back on the rock to look at the sky again. If only every day could be as peaceful as this.

Suddenly, a searing heat burned his finger. It was his ring. He quickly started to pull it off but the pain stopped as quickly as it had started. As soon as the pain stopped he heard a commotion just over the hill of rocks he was lying on. He jumped up and ran to the top of the hill, witnessing all the commotion below.

"What the hell?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li
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The day kept getting stranger. First he helped out the gal stuck in a tree and then some mysterious stranger popped out of nowhere with a knife. While the knife itself did not make the situation strange, after all muggers in New York were as common as bees in a hive, it was how he was dressed. Ignoring the fact that it was too warm a day to wear anything heavier than a hoodie, the man looked like he had just got back from the Russian tundra. It also looked like something from Game of Thrones, like he on his way for a Night's Watch convention. However, it was nothing a strange as what caught Ron's eye a moment afterwards.

What stood near the man was a large creature, resembling what could only be described as a monster from some old movie. It was devoid of all humanistic features, even a face that could show the slightest bit of humanity. It was covered in small, black scales that looked dull and invested in parasites. To top it all off, the claws and teeth looked like something out of a nightmare. As it began to attack others around the park, he realized that there was no reason for unarmed people to be harmed. He then pulled out his pistol from his jacket.

With the creature now staring at them, Ron aimed his pistol and shot it in the chest. While it screamed out in pain, to his surprise it did not drop. So he darted away from the girls 10 feet away and unloaded two more rounds into the creature. It howled as the shots landed, yet he could not tell if it was damaged or not as it was all but alien to him. It made a full on charge at him, swinging it's claws at his head. While Rod dodged the claw, he did not notice the tail that slashed at him the second afterward, leaving a gash in his side. As Ron fell on the ground he shot at the creature's knees, hopefully crippling it. At that moment all he could feel was his gash, dire fear, and a strange burning on his ring finger.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li
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The fall to the ground was quick and a little awkward—she could tell by the look on the face of the girl who had broken half of her fall. As Tallyho gathered her bearings and looked toward the two strangers to offer them a brief thank you, another voice, loud and frantic, rang out.

“Holy fucking salad dressing!” A woman with dark curls came bounding toward their group, easing dangerously close to knocking into them. Tallyho recognized her as the cat woman and she didn’t seem particularly OK. In fact, it was amusing that when the woman was asking Tallyho if she was OK, she herself looked like she could pass out any second. Tallyho didn’t have much time to respond when she heard a dull and heavy thud nearby. Her gaze met a well-hammered sword, sharp, intricate and highly reflective. It obviously belonged to somebody who was a somebody.

”RUN YOU IDIOT!!!”

Tallyho glanced up to see who she assumed to be the sword’s owner, pursed and ready for battle. If you asked her, he was the most normally dressed individual in this area if you discounted the fact that he was a bit off-season. He looked strong and a little intense…What kind of warrior was able to disarm him so effectively? It was only after she heard a blood curdling screech that she actually saw it.

This was something out of her Baba’s sickest bedtime stories, a legend that most people mocked by the time they were old enough to ride horses by themselves. A figure whose likeness she shuddered at in picture books. The creature who stole her way in fever dreams. And now it was here in the flesh, ready to rip her apart like a tender piece of chicken. Tallyho felt the ringing in her ears as she searched her brain for some piece of logic that could debunk this experience. Surely this was a dream? When would she wake up?

A loud boom rang in the air. It felt like Tallyho’s left ear had exploded. Gasping in shock, she buckled down into the grass with her hands covering her ears. From the ground she watched in horror as the man who had helped her out of the tree began pointing a foreign object in the direction of the cyclopean, producing the same loud pop that startled her so. As he moved farther away, Tallyho had time to, once again, gather her bearings and probe her brain for everything she had ever learned at bed time—any piece of information that could kill this cross-cultural boogeyman. Besides, nothing anyone did seemed to have much of an impact.

The ringing in her ears continued and the sounds became more distant. She quickly dipped her head between her knees, hoping to delay what was on track to become a full-fledged fainting spell. She peeked out from behind her waterfall of hair to see the other blonde picking up the warrior’s lost sword. Tallyho couldn’t hear her words too clearly but she seemed to be offering it back to him.

“The head,” Tallyho huffed under her breath, finally conjuring an end to this nightmare. She fought her way upright, throwing her head back in exhaustion. This whole situation was stressful and downright disrespectful. It had to stop.

“TAKE THE HEAD!” She called much louder, hoping the warrior would take the sword and then her advice. She rolled back over, holding back the impulse to pass out completely. Baba’s folk stories always ended with the head and then a pile of black jewels (onyx shards), that shimmered brightly in the place where the cyclopean once stood.

As she slipped further into her spell she hoped that she wouldn’t wake up dead, or at least that she would wake up soon enough to get the hell out of town.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li
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Yelling. Gunshots. Snarls and Roars. The feeling of pure fear in the air.

It was complete chaos! If the scene were set in a village and everyone in the park were villagers, Pene was so sure that they'd all be running and screaming with their arms waving through the air about now.

Earlier, Pene had run over to the group of three and had immediately continued freaking out, as she had started on her sprint over already.

Now she was slowly standing up because if she continued to hyperventilate while bent over like she was then she would pass out at the first quick movement. Passing out in a situation like this could mean her death and Pene was very keen on surviving. As she stood up, she had to take very slow breaths and force herself to look around and assess what was going on and what would be the best course of action.

What she saw had her almost freaking out again while her shoulders were driving her mad with the tingling running through them.
Everyone was being a bloody daredevil.

One guy threw a phone.
The man, who was standing beside them just a second ago, was shooting!
And some stupid girl was standing there and kindly calling to the overdressed warrior and trying to hand him his sword back.

Pene grabbed her hair and made a sound of distress. This was nothing like the movies. Usually when New Yorkers were attacked by monsters no one even had to mention the idea of running and trampling anything that tried to stop them. The one thing that brought her a bit of relief was seeing that girl with the long hair book it and vault over a nearby fence and out of sight. She fanned her heated face "Oh thank god. At least someone's thinking..!" She said to herself while turning and looking for someone that was out of danger and would be easiest to convince to run.

The person she found was the girl from the tree. She wasn't screaming, shooting, throwing things, or standing there and calling to the monster to come and eat her. In fact, she looked just as freaked out as Pene felt. So, Pene reached out, took her hand whether she would like it or not and looked into her eyes. "We have to hide okay? Running from predators like that only makes them target you so we have to hide..!" She implored the girl to understand and even started to move in a direction that would lead them away from the scene. Pene wanted to get out of here and she wanted to get out fast. She was even thinking about following that girl from earlier so that they could hide wherever she was.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li
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If Dorian had been concerned about fighting a legendary monster with just a basic knife (which, as a relatively sensible person who was already injured, he absolutely was), there was some modicum of relief for him within the following four minutes. People were screaming the moment the Cyclopean arrived, something Dorian could hardly fault them for after a moment of adjusting to their language. The words were mostly in Common, stained with accents he couldn't quite put his finger on (not surprising given that his encounters with foreigners were few and far between, even in Kora. Those that he'd actually interacted with were more keen to practice their own grasp of his language than to let him practice theirs, as was the way of foreign diplomats eager to impress), and he was momentarily grateful for his mother's insistence on teaching him more than just the language of Hales. Well, grateful until he realized the initial gems of knowledge being throw his way were simply to run.

That was all well and good for them, Dorian supposed, but turning your back on a nine-foot nightmare that seemed relatively eager to rip out your spine simply wasn't in the cards for this soldier. He dropped into a more appropriate defensive stance, adjusting his grip on his knife. No, there was no running away. The name of the game was survival, and, as the Cyclopean lashed its tail feverishly from side-to-side and jerkily began to thrust forward a menacing claw already glistening scarlet with Dorian's blood, Dorian was reminded that one of the most important elements of survival was luck.

Take for instance the flying flask that thunked the Cyclopean solidly on the head as it began to advance. It hadn't hurt the creature, merely surprising it (and Dorian) as both man and beast turned to the man who'd thrown it, staggering with heroic, drunken bravado. He reminded Dorian a bit of the men who clogged the warm taverns of Hales after too much Pyre Water, eager to pick a fight and prove himself that night's King of the Drunks*.

*It should be noted that the King (and occasionally Queen) of the Drunks was an actual title in Hales. There was an appropriately silly crown and everything, customized for each tavern. Dorian's favorite had always been a simple band of iron with little spikes on top, making it both classy and dangerous is the King decided to start head butting people.

This was Dorian's chance, he realized, to go for his sword. He began to move without much hesitation, backpedalling towards the tree it had landed near, never taking his eyes off of the Cyclopean. It only took him a moment to regret that decision because a violent percussive force was suddenly whirling past his head towards the monster, a raucous explosion of sound even deafening the continued screams around him. He dropped to the ground more as instinct than as a conscious thought, rolling out of the way as he searched for the other threat.

It was a man near the tree, holding what Dorian was horrified to see was a smaller, shinier version of Hales' newest weapon, still a closely guarded secret even among its military. Dorian had seen it before as a distinct privilege, had held the hand cannon (a working title) in his grip, had felt the power in his hands as he tested it for his uncle, and that was the only thing he knew to compare it to. How in the Goddess' name did he have something like that? Was there a rat infesting the Hales' science division, selling out state secrets to wherever he was? Or perhaps it was an expatriate, working with the brightest minds in the rest of Aires to arm other countries with superior weapons.

Dorian didn't have much more time to have his patriotic crisis because the Cyclopean began loping towards the shooter, infuriated more than wounded by each shot. That, indeed, was odd, and, as Dorian army-crawled further on, he began to realize that mere wounds wouldn't finish off a creature like this. It was like an automaton, a being that would keep moving, keep fighting until it was no longer able, regardless of wounds and the odds against it*. What was he meant to do?

*When later recounting the moment, Dorian would feel an odd sort of kinship with the cyclopean at that description, which he decided to never dwell upon again because that was just depressing.

"TAKE THE HEAD!” The cry came loud and clear from a blonde girl curled into herself, trembling in what Dorian felt was a very sensible way for what was happening, even as another girl made to move her from her position. The head. That was right. That was the appropriate way to do it. It was always the head in his grandmother's stories, always the neck that needed to be chopped through to kill a Cyclopean quickly. There were other ways to do it, but this was the way of the human hero, not one of the glistening Month Warriors with their spectacular powers and weapons.

There was that luck again, personifying itself in blonde women today apparently as another girl, shaking in what he could only assume was adrenaline and terror, offered his sword to him.

"Hi, hey, um soldier boy! You, you uh, dropped this!" she stammered, and he was already moving towards her, lifting the sword from her hands in a sharp, controlled movement as he simultaneously tucked his knife away. There was no time to thank her or the other girl before he was facing the beast again as it bore down on the shooter only yards away. Its back was to Dorian, which, as many people and animals had learned over the years, was exactly the wrong place to be.

He was moving swiftly, unhindered by the familiar blade and the pumping adrenaline masking the ache of his arm. He could feel the necklace under his shirt pulsate with his heart beat, now warm and grounding instead of burning. He didn't bother to cry out when he moved (screaming at enemies was typically frowned upon in a sneak attack), instead swinging his sword with a quiet precision at the Cyclopean's neck. The first blow didn't cut through the scales completely, stopping halfway. The second nearly had it as the Cyclopean let out its last screech. The third, however, finished the job, the head toppling to the ground in a dramatic, but surprisingly clean fashion. There was no spurt of blood, no slow ooze from the stump of its neck as the body toppled over soon after. Instead, the body seemed to glisten in the sun, glitter like a thousand jewels before shattering into onyx shards.

Dorian stood above the mound for a moment, breathing hard and resisting the urge to smash through the stones again with his sword just for good measure. Instead he knelt down and grabbed a handful of them in a gloved hand. A good trophy, perhaps, or at least something to deliver back to Hales as evidence.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Mal Mayfair
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Tallyho heard a soft echo in her ear, the voice of the young woman who looked so panicked before. She was grabbing Tallyho’s hand, tugging firmly to lead her away. The blonde offered a low grunt, thick and unladylike, as all the weight in her waif body seemed to sink to her hips, holding her heavy in the grass like a stone at the bottom of a river or like a paper weight.

“I can’t…” she slurred drearily. “I need water.”

Tallyho Abel had a very firm idea of what her threshold was for giving up, and sometimes it wasn’t very high. Finessing herself out of the tree was enough for the day, with this fainting spell coming up it didn’t look like running was in the books for her. Even as the girl tugged at her arm, she half way fought to keep put. If she ran in this condition, she’d only pass out and hold the girl back in a vulnerable space.

She was so out of it that she didn’t even get the satisfaction out of watching someone take her advice. She didn’t hear the curdling hack of the warrior’s sword in the cyclopean’s neck, or the tingle of small onyx shards raining on the width of his blade.

What she did notice was a soft rumble in the ground. She begrudgingly attempted to sit up again, hoping that the quaking she felt was a figment of her own nausea. And yet, there was a shake. She could tell by the way that the trees wavered and the leaves rustled. She let in a sharp breath, throwing one hand over to brush the other girl’s leg—a non-verbal gesture that essentially said, “Not today Satan,” if there were such a figure in Airesian lore.

She turned her eyes to the horizon, everything around them just seemed to keep going. The metal machines that roamed the roads continued to move, undisturbed by the disturbance under the earth. And the people that she could see far beyond the confines of this small corner of greenspace were the same way. But the trees—they were shaking.

And then there was a light, a growing dome that seemed to creep from between the tall buildings in the horizon, and toward the lawn where this slain creature lay scattered. It was slow at first, but as the blinding spectacle came closer it seemed to come faster, and the earthquake more intense. With the light came a fantastic gust of wind that licked back Tallyho’s hair in a sudden woosh.

Tallyho, if she wasn’t already dreaming, was going to die today. The wall of light wasn’t stopping. And as it hurdled toward her and the other girl, the wind felt increasingly suffocating. She always knew that if she was going to die young, it was going to be on her own terms. But now, she supposed, that she was too young to know everything. Blinded, she closed her eyes, held her breath, and let the wall of energy crash into her very being.


What came next was like experiencing death while still being very alive, at least from Tallyho’s perspective. It wasn’t that she was reviewing every memory that encompassed her life, or watching her body from high up, cursing herself to get up. It was a different kind of ethereal removal, a feeling that she was floating in the center of nothing and everything. She was floating in this nothingness for eternity, incubated and healed of all that ailed her only moments before. The dizziness, nausea, and heaviness in her heart was spooned from her body and spilled far away.

Another light flickered in the distance, but it was nothing like the frightening wall of energy that brought her here. It was warmer, sparser, like a single laser pointing to the center of the universe. It grew, but slowly.

Tallyho no longer felt like she was floating. Something cold pressed against her soles, and the pull of gravity felt gradually more apparent. Below her feet, a sprinkling of small white balls of light, almost like stars in a night sky, dotted a path running toward the light.

Beneath the transparent path of stars, a murky body of water was churning as if it wavered in a storm. And then she looked up, catching a glimpse of a flock of twelve large birds. They, glided above her gracefully, a mass exodus of white underbellies toward the warmth of the light. Their bellies were soft and round and their gentle coos rang throughout the space. Before her she saw the path of light. But what was behind her? She turned around to see a wide gaping vortex of blue and black.

And as if on cue, it was like the houselights came on in the theatre. It wasn’t that the darkness was gone, but gradually the blonde was able to make out the forms of the other people around her. There weren’t many, she actually recognized most of them: The girl who tried to help her, the warrior, and other blonde, the man with the loud machine, the fighting trio. And there were even a couple who Tallyho hadn’t really noticed before. She wondered if they saw all that she had seen and felt everything she felt. Could they see her as well as she could see them? The answers to all of these questions were more likely than not going to be yes. She took a step forward. Physically she felt great. It was like she never jumped out of the tree or was on the verge of throwing up. She wondered if those who had been wounded felt similar effects. She wondered if they also felt an inexplicable pressure to make a decision.

“I think,” she began, pausing briefly to behold the way that her voice reverberated throughout the space. “That I’m going to go that way...”

She pointed toward the softer light that was moving ever closer. That’s the direction in which the twelve birds flew and the warped vortex on the other end of the path didn’t seem particularly inviting. In any normal situation Tallyho would have questioned the logistics of such an experience. But something about this made her want to act based on her most primal instincts.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Mal Mayfair
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Roísin O Connor


As panic took hold of Roísin’s body she could feel all her muscles lock with tension, her stomach revisiting that nauseous feeling from this morning, her vision blurry with hot tears, her lungs burning with the desire for more than the shallow breaths she was taking, her ears could only hear the distant shouts of others, a few loud bangs and her heart beating furiously in her chest. For a moment she felt as if her ribs would shatter and break. She was vaguely aware of a man stepping in front of her but she could not make out his face nor the words he said, her eyes were focused on the 9 ft tall creature only a few feet away from her. It screamed, she tried to scream but nothing would come out of her mouth. She could almost imagine how she looked, as people around moved quickly and decidedly as merely a frightened woman. Hunched over, paler than usual, with a white knuckle grip on her phone Roísin had heard of the fight or flight response before, in fact she spoke about it often when she described her heroes and their stories and had always thought that she would be a fighter-considering how many arguments she got into. But never did she expect that she would freeze.

The shattering of the creature broke the spell over her in the same why the monster broke into a hundred shining black pieces. Roísin was overcome with gratefulness that it was gone and fell to her knees and slowing she began to get her senses and emotions other than fear back. Though what also washed over her was shame and guilt that she had done little but be a screaming girl in the background. She cursed herself, having always loudly condemned female characters in stories that did nothing while a man saved them. And a mystery man to top it off, her eyes flickered to Dorian while she rubbed away her tears who was inspecting the onyx shards and her heart began to beat a little faster for her would be rescuer, it didn’t matter in that moment that the strangely clothed man had probable been trying to save himself, he had saved her by proxy. And Roísin was grateful. Reaching out with her right hand she grabbed one of the glittering pieces and stuffed it in her bag- no doubt when she calmed and told a story about this later she’d want some evidence it actually happened. She then became aware of a cramp in her left hand, where she still clung onto her phone. Needing some comfort of home Roísin dialled the number of her mother, not really caring what time it was back in Ireland.

“Dia duit mo ghrá” [Hello my love] her mother answered into the receiver.
Roísin almost started to cry once more, with relief she felt completely safe while listening to her mothers voice.
“Dia duit mo chroí” [Hello my heart] she replied. “Ní bheidh tú buille faoi thuairim cad a tharla sa lá atá inniu. A ollphéist agus fear...” [You’ll never guess what happened today. There was a monster and a man...].

Upon saying the words monster and man Roísin’s eyes looked at the pile of jewels and at Dorian who looked...bright? She trailed off from her mother as she squinted at the warrior man, it wasn’t he who bright but a brightness coming towards them, the ground beneath her started to quake as adrenaline and fear revisited her as quickly as they had come before.


“Buíochas le Dia! Uimh! Níl, níl mé ag iarraidh go bás.” [Oh my god! No! No, no I don’t want to die] she almost whispered into the speaker of the phone. It seemed like even if she ran it would do no good. She watched helplessly as she saw others collide with the dome of light. It would be her next. “Is breá liom tú” [I love you]. That was the last thing Roísin said to her mother and as she could hear her mother screaming her name the light came upon her in a rush and she was swept up in a hale of wind and then. Silence.

If death felt like this, this disconnection, this nothingness yet she could still feel her body but almost as if it was far away. Almost like the place between awake and sleeping when you know you are in a dream. It wasn’t so bad. It wasn’t so bad to be dead. After what seemed like an eternity and also seconds Roísin became aware of other around her. As she lay still on the floor she leaned to see a blonde girl already walking towards a very inviting path. Roísin wanted to follow this woman, her own body was light and calm, no longer filled with anxiety and last night’s bad decisions. As she got to her feet she heard a thud, her phone clamored to the ground. And as clear as day see could see the words “Máthair [mother] Disconnected."

Cold tears slid down Roísin's cheeks as she reached for the phone and stared at the screen. Her mind was telling her to walk away, to move towards the light but she found herself trying to call her mother back only to hear the long, lonely beeps of a connection not being able to get through. Her face scrunched up as she tried again, and again, silently sobbing a little harder with each failed attempt. "I...I can't get through ah, I, I can't get in touch with my mother" she said quietly, defeatedly, hoping that this was a dream.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Mal Mayfair
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A week ago Tallyho would have said that she was indifferent toward the idea of death. It wasn’t that she thought that life on the other side would be a bed of roses, it’s just that she decided that there wasn’t much to look forward to. Especially so after her 16th birthday, the year when she learned that girls like her weren’t allowed to live their lives and do what they wanted. That a girl was raised to clean and cook and bed whichever loser a council of old welted fruits chose for her. That she had to sing hard, dance harder, or, if she was talentless like Tallyho, work admissions for a performance she’s heard a million times. And yet, the girl here in this space of everything and nothing yearned to hear that performance again.

Tallyho, though she’d always been a relatively independent young woman, was somewhat relieved to see that she wasn’t going to be walking into the light alone. Although she hesitated when one girl started crying and another went over to help her. The blonde stopped to look at them, now unsure of her choice. The girls were huddled over their small rectangular slabs, swiping their pale fingers against its shiny, glowing surface. She would have taken that time to finally ask what those contraptions were had she not noticed the change in the waves below them. The water seemed restless and she could feel the faint tapping of deep vibrations from the star path at her feet.

“I really think we should go,” she said louder than before. She blurted this out uncomfortably, offended by the sound of her own voice and the way it ground against the acoustics of the space. Although to be fair, her voice sounds much lovelier than she thinks it does. She halfway hoped that the warrior would follow her advice again and get the rest of them to budge. Sometimes all it took for a woman to be heard was the cooperation of a man who, in recounting his choice, would say that it was his idea all along. That’s how that half of the human race worked.

The blonde flinched, sucking air through her teeth as a cold wave of water billowed up on the path and took a lick at her feet. More waves seemed to follow suit. The water was rising and it didn’t seem like they had much time to meander in the void any longer. It was now or never.

Tallyho glanced pleadingly at the group. “Now,” she huffed before turning on the balls of her feet and making a sprint toward the light. The warmth enveloped her and she performed what felt like a nosedive into the sun.

--

There were birds chirping and Tallyho basked in the warmth that settled on her back. She was lying face down and could feel the texture of dry grass pressing onto her cheek. Her pink lips curled into a half smile but her eyes were still shut. She knew it was all a dream, but didn’t care much to know that she wasn’t in her tent, only that she felt alive. She felt a sudden jut in her side from a hard metal object. It wasn’t particularly painful, but it was the kind of sensation that made you scream “OW” just because you were shocked and not because you were actually in pain. She recoiled, gasping for air as her eyes bugged out and she floundered in the opposite direction of the probe.

Bleary-eyed, she made out the image of a red-faced older man with thick grey tufts in his salt and pepper hair. He wore a white cotton shirt, dirty and untucked from thin brown trousers reminiscent of potato sacks. In his hands was the long garden hoe that he used to wake her up, jabbing her in the side like she was a tiny spud fresh from the dirt. She was lying in a field of wheat, which made Tallyho wonder why he didn’t wield a sickle. She fixated her jaw to scream but could only let out a winded wimper-huff.

The man, unbothered looked out into the distance and called out.

“Mary, get th’ boss. It looks like ther’re a lot of em!”

A lot of them? Surely he didn’t mean the others from the strange dream? Tallyho began her scramble backwards, attempting to work her way into standing upright. The man looked back at her, noticing her discomfort. His voice was stern and intimidating.

“Now look here girl. I don’t know what you and yer friends were stealing from this farm but yer gonna have to answer to the big guy now.”

The big guy? Friends??

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

“Don’t play dumb, girl!” his voice rose dramatically.

“I’m not playing anything.” She replied sternly.


“What’s going on out here?” a voice from the distance implored. Tallyho couldn’t see the voice’s owner over the wheat, but it sounded finer, not fancy but any means, but much smoother than the voice of the man in front of her. Younger too.

“We’ve got thieves!” The older man howled.

Tallyho hoisted herself onto her feet and the man posed to stop her as if she were about to make a run for it. She turned toward the other voice.

Before her was a grand old house. The wood was old but she could tell that the building had antiquity rather than rats. Around her was an expanse of land, cultivated into rows and rows of crops and wheat. Around her stood other people she hadn’t seen before, many of whom were men of varying looks and ages who wielded gardening tools. They seemed to be looking down at the ground in front of them. Tallyho wondered if they waking up those others? They couldn’t be here right?

“Oh right, I was expecting guests.”

Tallyho looked back over at the house where she saw a young man taking a huff of a cigar that seemed far too rich for this backdrop. He wasn’t overly extravagant, his pants looked like they were made of a nicer material, but he wore a plain white button down (similar to those of many of the men in the field). The only difference was that his shirt was clean. His hair, a tuft of brilliant auburn, was slicked back with a mannish care—groomed, but not too meticulous. His gray eyes scanned the field and when they landed on Tallyho she grew rigid. He didn’t seem particularly amused or bothered by her reaction, in all honesty he seemed a bit deadpan, like he’d done and seen all of this before.

He popped the cigar out of his mouth and let out a huff of smoke. He put it out in an ash tray presented to him in a timely fashion by a woman with the mark of a big scar on her face. It looked old and well worn, like she’d gotten it years ago. When she caught Tallyho staring she rolled her eyes and smirked, causing the blonde to glance away.

Once everyone woke up the young man spoke again. “Dinner’s almost ready and I’m sure you all have a lot of questions. Let’s get you cleaned up and settled and we can chat maybe?”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Willow Elaine Stryder Character Portrait: Mal Mayfair
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Willow had awoken this afternoon to a slight burning on her neck as the emerald choker she wore grew hotter she sat up quickly and looked around. After a few seconds the burning stopped, Willow looked in the mirror her blue eyes slowly adjusting to her dark apartment as she found her clock it was pretty late in the day and she had a paper to work on. With a low sigh she stood up and grabbed her brush running it through her mated red hair quickly before throwing on a black t-shirt and a pair of black leggings.

She left her apartment and had made it halfway down the hall before she remembered to grab her backpack 'Ah! why can't i ever remember my stuff?' she asked herself internally as she face-palmed quickly before shouldering the large galaxy colored backpack. Now finally at her door she looked out at central park 'Might as well take a walk since i already slept away the day, stupid all nighters... .' she thought before running across the street quickly a tinge of pain coming from hr throat as the choker grew hot once again igniting a fear in her as she remembered the last time that had happened and how she woke up in the middle of the woods next to a half eaten rabbit, Willow shuddered as she shook the thoughts from her mind and looked out at the park the scent of grass filling her nose. Willow felt immediately at ease surrounded by grass and trees and let out a content sigh closing her eyes to listen, only to hear a loud commotion, her head wiped to the east and suddenly her choker was a sun on her neck. Blackness, all around her was darkness, Willow felt like she was floating in her own mind and she was " Shit! Not again..." she said to herself her voice clearly afraid of the darkness.

Willow's body had frozen for a moment as her eyes shifted to an emerald green and her lips parted in a confident smile as the earth took her over one bit at a time. This was not Willow in the earthly sense as she had been, for the second time, awakened to her powers allowing the great earth spirits to take over and use her body as she lie dormant in her mind though the spirits could hear her they didn't much care for the girls wishes. Earth Willow broke into an inhumanly fast sprint her black sneakers barely touching the well kept grass as she went "Yes, freedom at last!" she said loudly to herself. It had been less than a minute when she reached the commotion that was a battle with a cyclonean. Earth Willow smirked at the death of the vulgar creature and noticed the trees were shaking as the world around her suddenly became silent and the pillar of light that led back to the spirits home world opened, she saw a couple humans go forth into the pillar and felt as though she was forgetting something before she shook her head " I'm going home." she said with a cocky grin and ran full speed into the pillar ignoring the others as she plunged into the pillar like a child into a warm bath. Light, all around her was light.

Willow had awoken from the darkness to be surrounded by light, her hands felt grass below her and she took in the scents around her suddenly she heard voices and sat up with a start.

“Mary, get th’ boss. It looks like ther’re a lot of em!”

“Now look here girl. I don’t know what you and yer friends were stealing from this farm but yer gonna have to answer to the big guy now.”

The big guy? Friends??

“I don’t know what you’re talking about…”

“Don’t play dumb, girl!” his voice rose dramatically.

“I’m not playing anything.” She replied sternly.

“What’s going on out here?” a voice from the distance implored.

“We’ve got thieves!” The older man howled.

“Oh right, I was expecting guests.”


“Dinner’s almost ready and I’m sure you all have a lot of questions. Let’s get you cleaned up and settled and we can chat maybe?”

Willow stared at the man in complete confusion as she stood up looking at the field around her as a panic built in her slightly her eyes rested on the very large house that must have been the well dressed mans. She walked closer to a blonde girl who had been the source of one of the voices earlier than she looked to the man with a calm face and asked with a slight sharpness, 'Where in the hell are we? And how did we get here?" she added a slight flirty smile at the end without actually noticing she had done so. Her choker had gone cold now and she felt as if she had forgotten something important as the spirit inside became as unaware as she was to her powers and the world she had now entered leaving only a faint remembrance of what it had to do, protect.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Willow Elaine Stryder Character Portrait: Mal Mayfair
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Dorian fought the urge to sink down to his knees in the grass- and it had to be grass although it was so lush and vibrant- and simply breathe for a moment. He’d probably been awake for nearing twenty-two hours at this point, and he’d just fought what was most likely the most interesting battle of his life thus far. All he wanted to do was have a seat, maybe drink a bit of water, and then figure out what in Her Fury was going on.

He refrained, however. It was a matter of dignity as a soldier not to show weakness in front of strangers, especially when representing Hales. Also the strange others had begun converging on the area where he stood, whooping and chattering loudly in a bizarre mix of Common and some things entirely foreign to him or pocketing shards of the shattered Cyclopean like so many curious little baubles, which, alright, sort of weird.

He’d heard of people collecting the supposed relics of Month Warriors* to display, but never of Cyclopeans. Okay, yes, he’d taken up the shards first, but he had fought the thing and had to take a victor’s prize, and it seemed relevant to get something like this back home where people might like to know that a creature that shattered into onyx shards was stalking the tundra. He’d never expected to be a trendsetter, and these strangers seemed like they were more inclined towards such morbid things as collectables, even after said creature had attempted to slaughter a few of them.

*He’d seen one such relic at a little church his grandmother had taken him to. The main draw had been the favorite left shoe of June for pilgrims, placed on a dais for pilgrims to worship. Dorian had never quite understood why it had been June’s favorite left shoe rather than shoe overall, but he’d been too afraid to ask given that his grandmother was in one of her “religious fervors”.

He frowned a little or, to be more precise, his permanent scowl lost even more of its pleasantness as he wandered away from these flippant strangers, already more concerned about his wound than their magpie-like tendencies. His arm had begun to ache as the adrenaline wore off, even if the jagged wound was now only bleeding sluggishly. It was at least a clean cut, Dorian realized as he tore at the hole in his jacket, then shirt sleeve, exposing the wound to his sight. No dirt, not deep enough to really butcher the muscles, no obvious signs of poison or immediate infection because who knew where those claws had been? He would live, Dorian decided as he pulled out a scarf from his pack* and began to dress the wound. Probably.

*Most Hales soldiers carry around scarves in order to wrap them around their faces in the event of a snow storm or to ward off frost-bite. Dorian’s was oddly patterned, lop-sided and just plain ugly, the victim of one of his mother’s first attempts to knit something. He knew he’d have to work very hard to put on a sad face when he explained to his mother why he’d had to throw it away.

If Dorian hadn’t been quite so tired or quite so wounded, perhaps he would have taken a moment instead to try to adjust to his new surroundings. Maybe he would have spotted the cars still trundling by in late afternoon traffic. Maybe he would have admired the skyscrapers dominating the skyline a little more, beacons of man’s ingenuity. However, he did not, and, really, it was just as well because he wasn’t exactly going to get a chance to go sight-seeing.

He felt the rumble before he saw it, the tremor not violent but still enough to set his nerves on edge. The trees were swaying, the wind picking up into a violent fervor as it whipped around him with sharp gusts and gales, and the ground beneath his feet began churning wildly before light was suddenly arcing over the horizon, racing to engulf them all. Dorian dropped into a sturdy, defensive stance, the only thing he had a chance to do before the light had swallowed him up.

His only thought, drifting or perhaps flying or maybe even staying completely still in the void was something akin to “here we go again”. Did these things happen to other people because Dorian was starting to think that it was just him. At least this sudden bizarre trip through space didn’t include a Cyclopean appearing in flashes around him like a demented firefly or like what he imagined a firefly to be. There was none of the panic of last time, none of the fear and anger. Just frustration linked with exhaustion and a certain surrender as his entirety began to shift with the environment around him. He wasn’t used to it, but at least he had a better idea of what to expect than last time.

He waited patiently as the world began to grow clear again, something solid appearing under his feet. It was already an improvement from bursting out of the ground like a hare wriggling out of its burrow. What he’d mistaken for the sea of stars lay underfoot, now revealed as a solid path of the Heavens, glittering as if a beacon over a murky lake, urging him to follow it to the warm, dull light ahead. It wasn’t very frightening, Dorian thought, if only because he had only the swirling dark vortex behind him and the rough waters below to compare it to. Honestly, it seemed downright inviting.

It took a moment for Dorian to realize that he wasn’t alone in this strange abyss. He could see those who had made their appearances during the fight and some he’d not managed to catch sight of in the midst of everything around him on the path. Many clutched little rectangles that lit their faces with an eerie, unnatural glow. The most normally dressed blonde seemed confident enough to approach the light by herself, not defiant or curious but resigned to their only option. One of the girls began to cry before his sword-profferer moved to her side with soothing words. Or at least probably soothing words. She was speaking quietly and waving about one of those rectangles, and Dorian strained to understand as he tried to knock some of the mental dust off of his knowledge of Common.

He began to move too, closer to the back as he took in his surroundings. One of the girls- the girl with the cats and curlier hair than he’d ever seen- had gravitated to his side, close but not quite too close.

"I just really need someone to relate to right now so.. I am really really scared.."

It took him a moment to understand her, especially as she was murmuring, but he caught the gist of it. While Dorian had never been particularly good as comforting people, something that he’d come to accept long ago as a fact of life, but he could relate. He leafed through his mental dictionary of Common, trying to come up with a coherent sentence.

“No fear.” He tried. Ineloquent, but he was sure it made some sort of point, even if it wasn’t what he wanted to say.

But the water was rising now, becoming more and more violent as it sought to overtake the path of stars. The people were moving slowly or not moving at all. Maybe there was a reason to fear after all?

“I really think we should go.”

It was the blonde woman again, already so near to the light as she glanced back at those still lingering, worried for them perhaps or just sensing the awe still instilled in everyone and not being completely terrible.

Dorian cottoned on rather quickly. The waves were more violent now, and some people had yet to really get moving. He, not being a complete bastard (regardless of what those who fought him said) turned to the few still around him at the back, particularly the cat girl still by his side and the woman most concerned with her rectangle who was wearing far fewer clothes than Dorian could quite fathom, battling his words, rusty with misuse.

“Us go.”

No, that wasn’t right.

“We go now.”

Almost, but not quite.

“No fear, yes?”

Fine. Good enough. He’d worry about modifiers and grammar and sentence structure later when there wasn’t a threat hovering over his head. The language was blossoming again on his tongue, weighted down with the Koran accent in the Hales region* and the flipping through the mental pages of his Common dictionary. It was coming easier, at least.

*The Hales accent is something that sounds like an odd mix between Russian and Swiss. The closer to Kora you’re from, the more Russian the accent, giving city-folks a harsher appearance vocally than those who dwell in villages.
And he was moving now, jogging than running as the waves began to wet the path before he too threw himself into the light.

Dorian awoke on his back, sunlight nearly blinding him. The world had changed again, and now he was surrounded by a field of what he thought was wheat, golden crops reaching skyward and completely masking the rest of his view. He struggled to his feet wearily, wondering where on Aires he could be now. Not Hales, clearly. Apparently that would be too convenient.

A cry of pain, or at least shock, cut through the air, and he stood a little quicker as argument quickly followed. He could pick out some of the others now, gazing above the grain. It was the blonde woman again, facing down a farmer of some sort, howling about thieves and arguing with her. Dorian, for lack of any other option, trudged from his landing-spot cradling his injured arm, moving forward just as a red-haired man entered the fray.

He was dressed plainly, but the cigar dangling from his lips spoke of something more wealthy than the old man grumbling before him. The entire image was made even more aristocratic by the proffered ashtray, held up by a woman with a scarred, smirking face.

“Dinner’s almost ready and I’m sure you all have a lot of questions. Let’s get you cleaned up and settled and we can chat maybe?”

Those were the first words Dorian really caught, and they were automatically the only words that mattered. He hadn’t eaten in a while, and while his stomach did not let out a well-timed growl, he began to feel the ache. Besides, the offer of getting cleaned up and maybe some sort of answers was not to be passed up.

One girl didn’t seem keen to wait, already demanding answers with an odd smile. Dorian bit back a sigh before stepping a little closer, gesturing to his arm. He didn’t like being needy, but, well, he did need.

“And bandage too, please?” Ah, that sounded about right. It was still a bit stiff, but the language was coming back to him a bit.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Ron Muller Character Portrait: Roisín O'Connor Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Willow Elaine Stryder Character Portrait: Mal Mayfair
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The woman with the scar retreated into the house with the man’s half-smoked cigar crumpled at the bottom of a delicate porcelain dish. She handled the saucer with a rough familiarity. The man shifted on his weight, wincing a bit at the small flirty smile that punctuated the red head girl’s coarse disregard of his suggestion to ask questions later. He placed his hands behind his back and stood straight, a pose reminiscent of a high military official with far too much influence.

“My name is Haru, this is my farm,” he began. His voice was crisp and clear, every sentence he spoke held an air of old authority and legitimacy, something that didn’t match his youthful appearance. He spoke like an old king but looked like a fun-loving prince. “You’re in a very faraway place from where this chaos began. But I truly believe that these questions are best answered sitting down.”

The young man perked up to an interruption from an unfamiliar voice with a very familiar accent.

“And bandage too, please?”

Haru tilted his chip up and appraised the warrior through hooded eyes. “Yes,” he said calmly. “I’m sure some of you need bandaging too.” He turned to the men in the field, who had since set their tools in the high grass. “Scout out the injured and take them to the back to have their wounds cleaned and tended to.” They immediately obeyed, scanning the group for open wounds so that they could help hoist them up and escort them to the infirmary for a quick patch.

“For the rest of you, please, come in. We have plenty of bed space.” Haru stepped to the side, clearing a path for the ragtag group. The woman with the scar came out of the house and back onto the porch. She nodded approvingly at the group, encouraging them to step forward.

Tallyho, being so close to the front of the group, felt obliged to step forward first. She looked around, paranoid that if she moved too slowly two men would grab her arms and hoist her up the stairs. She moved carefully, making it to the porch without any further “assistance.”

She wasn’t drawn to the porch in the same way that she was drawn to the light. Back in that space, she unquestionably trusted that what she was about to do was the right thing. This time, such certainty was foreign to her. She didn’t go into the house because it felt like a safe haven, but rather because there was nothing left for her to do. She scanned the area for other forms of civilization: There were miles of wheat fields, a few scattered wooden houses (most likely reserved for the farm hands) a mountain range to the north, and a wide expanse of sky. If she declined this offer not only would she be at a loss for free food, but she might even be left to die with a group of people whose sense of self-preservation told them to do everything to a cyclopean but the one thing that would kill it.

The woman held the door open for Tallyho and all who happened to follow. She shimmied toward the front of the group and cleared her throat for their attention.

“We have three guest rooms in this house with 4 beds in each. You may take whichever room you like,” she turned to hike the stairs and lead them to their rooms. As Tallyho followed, she mulled over the math in her head and how many people had landed in the field. A bed for everyone? This farm seemed very prepared to receive them and it was a little off-putting.

The woman led them down a narrow hallway and gestured toward the three doors. “Choose any room you like, I will be bringing you fresh clothes. You might want to visit one of the bath houses nearby before dinner. They are separated by gender. To find them go downstairs and toward the back of the house. There will be two sheds—left for ladies, right for men.”

Without much of a goodbye the woman turned to leave.

Without thinking, Tallyho retreated into the room at the very end of the hall. The room was quite simple: Wooden floors and walls with a pair of parallel narrow beds on each side of the room. The blonde claimed one of the beds near the window and dug her knees into the mattress, which was packed with sheep’s wool. She’d never really had a bed that wasn’t a cluster of blankets on the floor of a tent or in the back of a wagon. She rubbed the fabric of the sheets between her fingers then glanced out of the window at the expanse of wheat.

Tallyho wasn’t sure what was going on, but she needed to make sure that she didn’t die tonight, especially after surviving the cyclopean. Being killed by anything less than that monstrosity would be a shame. It didn’t take long for the woman to come back into her room with a bundle of folded clothes. She slapped them down onto each bed haphazardly, only pausing to differentiate men’s trousers from women’s dresses, depending on who occupied the other beds. Tallyho gathered the dress into her arms. It was no more special than the dress she already wore: light and airy, perfect for the heat of a Solace summer. She could move around in it, which was a plus if Tallyho had to make any mad dashes.

Still without shoes, she gathered the new dress to her bosom and headed straight for the bath house.

She took a deep breath as she entered the shed. The air was thick and moist and hard to breathe through. She was greeted by an older woman, who sat next of a large cauldron of boiling water and another filled with chunks of ice in water. Upon seeing the blonde enter, she reached for a wooden bucket and dunked it into the boiling water before hobbling over to one of 4 separated stalls. She dumped the water into the small wooden tub and repeated the process (mixing the boiling water with the ice water) until the tub was filled up at an acceptable temperature. As she did so, she made small talk:

“Ye lot are very lucky to have this man taking care of ye,” she hummed in her thick common. “I was near m’sixties when m’son died. The only person taking care of me.”

The woman dumped another bucket.

“I came ‘ere and he let me in, gave me food and shelter… Something to do with m’time!” She looked at her bucket and laughed, her lungs sounded like they were full of cobwebs.

“When ye don’t have nowhere to go ye come ‘ere… He don’t care where ye been and where ye going. As long as you pull yer weight and don’t cause no trouble ye have a home here till you get back on yer feet.”


Tallyho replayed this woman’s statements as she sat in her bath stable. She curled into herself with her legs pulled up to her chest. Her knees looked like small crescent moons above the water. Why was she here, in this space for people with nowhere to go? She drafted questions in her head, planning to bring them to the attention of her host over what would hopefully be a very heavy dinner.

She finished her bath and draped herself in her new cotton dress. Later, she sat on a bench nearby a pump well next to the bath houses. She sat alone, attempting to smooth out wrinkles in a dress that was a little large and certainly wasn’t tailored for her figure. Her damp blonde hair curled and clung to her doe-like face.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Dorian Steinsson Character Portrait: Pene Michaels Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Angela Taylor Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Willow Elaine Stryder
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Kris watched as the others entered the pillar of light, one by one disappearing as they tell forwards into the shining column. He looked beneath him at the path of pure starlight backlit by a rush of crashing waves and then behind him where the stars seemed to stretch for eternity. There was no way back...only forward. Determined, he dive headfirst into the light. It felt like he was falling forever spinning and turning endlessly, but he was not afraid and the sick feeling that normally possesses you when you fall never came. But his landing was fast approaching. He began to spin at breathtaking speeds, closing his eyes. When he opened them, he was lying face down on a field of grass. The scent filled his nose as he pushed himself up to a seated position. He had no idea where he was, where they all were, but, after listening to what the men had to say, he was persuaded that they were safe, at least for the moment.

He stood. He had several questions, however, all that could wait until he had a bath and a hot meal and, possibly some sleep as well. He didn't know why, but he was already exhausted as if he had been on a terribly long journey, and so he followed the man inside, going upstairs to the first room on the left and claiming the bed closest to the door so that, in event that he needed to leave he'd be close to an exit. When someone came in, leaving clothes and a towel, he gratefully accepted, leaving the room and going to the washhouse. Upon entering, a man had drawn a bath and was testing the water's temperature.

"These are for you and your companions."

"Thank you."

"If you need anything else, all you need do is let me know."

With that he went back to maintaining the temperatures of other tubs. Kris quickly undressed and slipped into the tub, the warm water instantly relaxing him. He let out a deep exhale as he descended into the water. He was slightly uncomfortable as he was rather exposed, but after a moment of relaxation, he finished his bath quickly, ensuring he covered himself with his towel as he stepped out and dried off. His clothes were somewhat quaint looking as if they were from a different century. A pair of rather tight brown trousers and a billowy white shirt with a low v-cut in the front and a long lace winding through, barely keeping it closed. After he dressed he stated into the tub at his reflection. His hair he had dried, but it was still slightly damp when he exited. He surveyed the land around him: miles and miles of wheat. These people's existences seemed so quaint, so bleak, yet they seemed so happy, so content. He lingered about outside, enjoying the weather, waiting for dinner to be served or someone to speak to him.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Xabier Sanchez Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Kris Li
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Tallyho eventually stopped tugging at the wrinkles in her dress, accepting the fact that she’d have to wear them out of the fabric over time. She took a note to hang the garment from a tree when it came time to wash it.

“Maybe this is heaven, hmm?”

Tallyho listened closely to the muffled voice coming from inside the steamy bath house. It belonged to the girl who had been staring at Tallyho all day. At first the blonde wasn’t sure if she’d offended the woman, especially because she was only used to being ogled by grandmothers who liked to pinch her thighs and say that she needed to fill her figure out. And judging by the feminine curves that woman had compared to Tallyho’s spritely figure, she was beginning to fear that it was the case for her too.
What was heaven? Judging by the way the woman seemed to sing it didn’t seem like such a bad place. Her voice sounded so close, as if the brunette were right on the other side of the wall Tallyho rested her back against. She listened as her voice trailed off and into an unrecognizable combination of sounds. It was quick and rolling, similar to the words one of the men in the group said to Tallyho. Oh-lah? She wasn’t sure what it meant, and was so caught up in figuring that out that she didn’t have a chance to respond to him.

“…This is Solace,” she said after a while, her words mostly directed at the girl beyond the wall. “What is heaven?” By this time her voice had settled back into its normal tune, the soft singsong accent attributed to the Sun people. (To someone from earth it might sound a bit Turkish.) Her voice was a great deal calmer than it had been when she was on the verge of being eaten by a child’s nightmare.

As she waited for the girl’s response, her eyes followed a young man with silvery hair. She hadn’t seen anything like that before—she always thought that white hair was for old sages and albinos but this man was neither. She hadn’t seen him during the attack but she could tell by the way he carried himself that he was just as lost as she was. Maybe a little bit more actually…

“Bath is there,” she said to him, aiming a finger at the shed directly across from her. “How your hair like this?”

She gathered a handful of her own tresses which were beginning to dry and bounce back to original volume.

She looked at him again. He seemed a lot calmer than the others.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Yasmin De La Rosa Character Portrait: Tallyho Abel Character Portrait: Haru Sinwood Character Portrait: Kris Li Character Portrait: Willow Elaine Stryder
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There hadn’t been much time for Tallyho to learn the secret of the young man’s hair. Almost as quickly as she’d asked him, she heard the creak and slam of the flimsy back door swinging out and into the wall. And then, the loud and hallow clank of a cowbell.

“Dinner! Dinner for our guests,” the woman with the scarred face called, nodding in Tallyho’s direction between her ringing. The dinner bell was clutched tight her small pale hands. Tallyho glanced at the young man before reluctantly rising to walk, and carefully bounced her knuckles against the thin walls of the bathhouse—something that she thought would be a helpful gesture just in case the brunette couldn’t hear the incessant noise from her cooling bath.

The blonde slid her hands through her hair as she mounted the stairs of the porch, twisting her it into bun. It sat high, a imperfect sun preparing to set on the crown of her head. She shuffled into the house as the woman held the door open, once those from the back yard were inside, she moved to gather folks from other parts of the house, but not without gesturing toward the intimate dinner setup wedged in a room not much bigger than the large wooden table that occupied it.

It was a simple theme that Tallyho had begun to notice. For a place that looked so grand on the outside, the farm’s owner—Haru—seemed to have a taste for the rustic. No room was doted over—no fine décor or accents. Every room seemed to have exactly what it needed, no more no less. But she wasn’t sure what it said of the man’s character.

Tallyho was the first in the dining room and for a moment she began to wonder if the others—the redheaded girl with the flirty smile, the warrior who killed the beast, the brunette in the tub—had run off without her. From the way the redhead seemed to survey the room for their exits, it seemed to Tallyho that everybody was looking for an out. They were all wild dogs trapped and ready to chew their own arms off.

It hadn’t taken more than fifteen minutes for a couple of maids to move the food onto the table. There was enough food, Tallyho thought, to constitute a small feast. The table was populated with cauldrons and dishes of rolls, roasted potatoes, glazed chicken, vegetable stew and Banya, a dish from solace that bakes sweet corn, bread, eggs, cream and sugar together to make a dessert casserole. Tallyho had a particular fondness for the dish, and made it her business to reach for it as soon as it came to the table. She pulled the bowl close, scooping a large glop of the delicacy onto her dish.

The maid sucked her teeth at her audacity to eat before her host even arrived. The older woman itched to chastise her, but held her tongue when Haru entered the room. If you weren’t looking you might have missed him— he moved into a seat at the head of the table with a cool calm. When Tallyho glanced up at him with her body hunched over her plate and her arm swung around it’s circumference like a prisoner protecting his food from thieves, he offered a slight smirk.

“Please do eat,” he hummed. “We have plenty of time to chat.”

Tallyho, not wanting to strike up a conversation with him alone dove back into her food, continuing to eat if only because she was nervous. She would continue to eat until everyone reached the table, and by the time he’d given them the same “eat now, talk later spiel” the petite sungirl was stuffed. But instead of looking at Haru, or even taking another serving, she chose to stare at everyone else’s plates as they would scoop and scrape the food into their mouths.

Haru let them eat for a while, eventually breaking the silence by asking the maids to leave.

“I wanted to let you eat first before getting into all of this… It’s been a surreal day for all of you I’m sure.” He spoke slowly. One could tell that though his voice wasn’t especially warm, he was trying to sound comforting.

“I will try to answer all of your questions to the best of my ability, but I ask that you let me explain a few things uninterrupted. That monster you saw today, the one that wounded a couple of you, was nothing short of an oddity. Most of you have not seen or read anything about its likeness, and in all truth it wasn’t supposed to be there to begin with. However, I’m sorry to say that it isn’t the weirdest thing you would have learned about today.

You’re not on earth anymore. Today you are in Aires, and I wish that I could tell you it’s as simple as “being on another planet,” but it’s a little more complicated than that. Aires is nothing like earth. It doesn’t run on the same fabric of time or development. It has none of the modern technologies most of you are familiar with. It’s a different line of reality with a different set of magic and physics, and the path of stars you walked across earlier today was the only bridge between these two worlds.

While Aires is very different from Earth on a fundamental level, what you all witnessed back there wasn’t normal for your world or mine. These monsters have been appearing in small numbers across our planet, and it seems as though they’ve been infiltrating yours from time to time as well. These monsters, cyclopean we call them, are the reason you are here at this table today.

They haven’t been seen in hundreds of years, and that was because we had a full line of defense against them, working to protect this reality and the next. At the top of this defense was an elite group called the Month Warriors—a group of demigods with special powers that were activated by gemstones the Goddess gave them. They were created to attack the issue at its source—to murder the king of the cyclopean. However, after a long campaign, they failed their mission and were cursed. They put the king to rest temporarily, but each of their souls were subsequently sucked from their bodies and into the birthstone jewelry they wore. These gems, over time, were scattered across reality. And ironically, you lot (many of whom aren’t from Aires) possess them. They are lodged into your necklaces and bracelets and rings from your grandfathers, and fate brought them to you.

There’s a prophecy that says that the stones will find kindred souls to finish the work that they started… and as much as I’d like to tell you that you can simply give them away and walk away from this, I need to be frank. You are the next Month Warriors. The powers they possess can only be unlocked by the right person and no one else—someone who can wear the burden of saving all forms of humanity against a common evil. I’m sure you felt your stones burning, and no it wasn’t the summer sun. It was the spirit in your gem telling you that you are chosen and that you are not alone. That the people you are meant to embark on this journey with all happened to be in the right place at the right time. I had been told that fate would bring you to me sometime soon, but I didn’t think it would be this soon. I don’t know why any of you are chosen, in fact if I had the choice I would ask for a more robust group of fighters… But you are who you are.”

Haru exhaled quietly. He realized how ridiculous this all sounded, but if he was being fair to himself there was no other way for him to get such a complex explanation for “here’s why you’re at my dinner table” across in a simpler way.

“Okay… Now you can ask questions.”