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Rowen "Sparrow" Butler

Dance with a passion; live with a fury; and never stop asking why.

0 · 286 views · located in The Library

a character in “Chaotic-Systematic”, as played by AiteCipher

Description

Name
Rowen "Sparrow" Butler

Age
Fifteen

Gender
Female

Ability
Winged

Physical Appearance
She's got shorter hair and shorter legs, but...

Rowen is more than a pretty, freckled face. Though her wide smile and generally upbeat posture tend to make her out as friendly, she tends to hunch her shoulders when talking to other people, and she never gives out a true smile until she's dancing. Her green eyes are placid yet watchful, if not all too often obscured by her mess of brown hair. It seems dark against her pale skin, but in reality it's more mousy than rich. She doesn't tend to wear much other than cropped white shorts and a black dance top well-suited to movement. She doesn't ever wear shoes, but she's never without a handful of gold bangles around her left ankle. At times, she'll tape her palms and the balls of her feet with white athletic tape to cover blisters or to protect from too much friction.

She's not tall, at 5'3, and her girlish figure is lightweight and well-suited to both flying and dancing. She has a strong body from years of acrobatic dance, and her feet and the palms of her hands are well-calloused and never without a handful of blisters. She has her share of small scars on the tops of her hands, though this is mostly due to the fact that even the slightest dark scar will show up easily on her skin. She's sunburned easily, and because of this she spends as little time as she can in the sun.

Rowen keeps her face clear and free of makeup; even when performing, she'll only use the slightest touch of mascara and perhaps some lipstick for a special occasion. She has thin lashes and delicate skin that breaks out easily, but her face has a good, if not slightly childish and innocent, formation and structure. She has medium-thick hair, which she tends to braid before she goes to sleep. It reaches to roughly her sternum, though she tends to tie it back when she flies and when she dances. She'll hide behind it when she gets nervous— it has a slight wave to it, so it works well to keep her safe from any perceived danger.

On a side note, Rowen tends to wear only black and white (though she doesn't wear much to begin with, =P). She doesn't like any colors other than deep red and perhaps a touch of emerald. Her wings are a snowy white mottled with black like a snowy owl's. They're always out over her dance top, and she doesn't have any trouble dancing with them, as she's completely used to it.

Personality
Though she has a cheerful face, Rowen is shy and introverted and would much rather spend her time dancing or reading. She initially comes off as quiet, though she can have a lot to say when she's comfortable and is actually quite opinionated about most everything— she just doesn't tend to voice those opinions. Overall, Rowen's character is submissive and weak, and she tends to just leave a situation when it makes her uncomfortable. She'll rarely stand up for herself, but when she does she can become caustic, petty, and violent. She's actually a masterful prankster, however, so many might do her best not to annoy her.

Rowen has almost singularly claimed the top atrium of the library. She enjoys the garden and does her best to take care of it, though it's overgrown for the better part of the year because she's just not that good at gardening. She spends much of her time alone up there dancing, flying, reading, and occasionally singing (she can't sing on key for the life of her, though she does have an okay soprano voice).

Rowen is often absorbed in a book, but when she does speak, she has some trouble articulating her thoughts. This can cause her to come across as somewhat unintelligent because she prefers to use simple vocabulary. She's also not very technically skilled and breaks things easily. Rowen has a high pain tolerance and is very resilient, however, and doesn't give up too easily when she really does want something done. She doesn't, however, like asking people for help, and this can sometimes get her into deeper trouble than she started in. She enjoys getting up to mischief and no good, especially when exploring the massive complex. She knows the place extremely well and has self-made maps of places few have ever ventured.

She doesn't like to take risks, and this is the singular reason she's never tried simply flying off into the desert. She's not sure if she could make it— she suffers from a touch of negative self-image, as well.

Notable History
Like the others at the Cipher Complex, Rowen never knew her parents. Unlike many, however, her insatiable curiosity, no doubt bestowed on her by the countless books, has let her to pore through every document she could find. Only once did this produce any results. She'd stumbled upon some strange documents after having picked the lock to a formidable-looking room. The next moment, however, she woke up in the infirmary minus her bag and the documents. She's now currently without a lockpick kit and her favorite leather satchel.

Other
Rowen is ambidextrous but usually writes with her right hand.

So begins...

Rowen "Sparrow" Butler's Story

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Rowen clutched the piece of paper in her hand as though it would fly away if she loosened her grip even a little. Its edges pressed into the rough skin of her palm, and she registered a vague feeling of pain, but it changed nothing— she still stared blankly at the table in front of her with her hands in her lap. The curiosity nagging her was an overwhelming thing pounding in her mind at the back of her head, but she'd managed to suppress it for long enough. A few more minutes and another pancake couldn't hurt. She couldn't have anyone noticing her today, could she? She raised her head and reached to sweep her hair to the side, slipping the folded piece of paper into the single gathered strap stretching up from the left side of her top. It might have found a better home in the body of the shirt, but one of the many disadvantages of looking like a child was that she had no cleavage to hide such things in. She wondered vaguely if wearing looser garments might help, but the thought had soon evaporated. The clothing rations would be later today, and she couldn't waste her six garment coupons on such silly things. One of the straps to her favorite tops, a simple black number with lace accents, had inexplicably torn last weekend— and she had no idea why or how, since she usually kept it in its drawer outside of special occasions.

Rowen stabbed her fork into her pile of eggs. They were better than usual— saltier, maybe? Whatever the case, she loved them. She polished off the last bite and set into her pancake with a half-smile.

The chatter in the room bounded up around her. She's sat by herself at the far corner of the balcony, but more people were piling in now that it was less heinously early in the morning. It was the groggy sort of morning greetings uttered by the kind of close friends she's only ever watched from a distance. She peered over the railing, watching as two blondes and a pair of boys who looked like brothers took a seat at one of the central tables. One of the tussle-haired blondes, her face done up a little too much even though she really was very pretty, wrapped her arms around the taller of the two brothers. Between them, they had two trays. Sitting down, the girls took their single plates to the boys' two. Rowen's face fell into a small frown. It had to take more energy than that, living. Even on days when she didn't plan on flying she'd clear out at least a full plate. Between dance and mischief, she did expend a lot of energy. It was a wonder she managed it at all.

She stood up and picked up her plate. She hadn't bothered grabbing a tray, as she'd filled only one plate. Rowen finished off the last of her milk. It was an important thing, given that she was not only female but had hollow bones well-equipped for flight, as well. She debated between leaving to read the note and sticking around to people-watched, but eventually she decided to stay; she could always read that tiny slip of paper she'd found wedged between the forks and the spoons, but people were unpredictable. In a way, that was what she liked about them, but in another, it was what worried her the most. She knew she could never really trust anyone just as much as no one could ever really know her. They were simple facts of the human condition. Every point of view was really so different from the others.

But people were so dangerous. Like fire, they were fascinating from afar— yet she'd never let herself be brushed by something that could burn her. It was better to just watch and keep her tiny piece of paper safe in her sleeve.

OOC: All characters should be coming to the dining room— just to kick things off. I mean, breakfast is always good, right?

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Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson.
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Rowen's eyes skimmed the room with an apathetic boredom. She leaned to one side, then another; was there really nothing to see? Down on the floor below, figures milled about, an ocean of twisting colors and tantalizing smells. They poured in through the doors and took seats at the long benches and tables, some of their faces puffy and red from sleep and others glowing with the strange glint of freshly applied makeup. It was, in a way, refreshing to know that the world hadn't ended when she'd found that strange piece of paper. None of them seemed alarmed. Perhaps everything was fine. Still, she couldn't shake the nagging feeling, the tingling on her skin that pricked up every time the note made a resurgence in her memory. She didn't like that things were out of order.

Searching for anything to take her mind off her worries, Rowen focused her gaze on the girl sitting— er, lying— at the table immediately in front of her. She was singing again, or perhaps simply talking to her creations. Whatever the case, the fact that she could say 'again' about the whole situation— that was calming. But oh, she was thinking about it again. Eyes back to the girl. She had begun stirring shapes in her food, mixing things together to form some thing or another. Syrup melted into other things until a form began to rise up. Though it was a bit disgusting, her mashing up food, the raw power itself was a thing of beauty. She loved the way that magic moved, raw and graceful.

Rowen's attention slipped back out to the crowds below. They'd all begun to cluster at one table, with some residents sitting on others' laps and others pushing in uncomfortably close to fit in. Socialites and their suck-up crews: those were the ones hovering around the table like flies to rotten meat. They could do what they wanted, and she couldn't judge them for it, but it wasn't something she could ever see herself doing.

Rowen leaned back toward the wall and let her wings stretch out behind her. It felt good after having gone to bed earlier than usual. Her hair was extra-wavy today, to boot. It was a nice irony to start the day off with. With beauty came pain. She'd considered doing herself up today just for the sake of it, but she was glad she hadn't. The day was already pregnant with enough change. In accepting it, Rowen had taken into her mind a strange sort of silence. She didn't like it. Maybe it was better to be uncomfortable and shifting in her seat. At least then she would have something to attribute her suddenly foreign feelings to.

The girl nearby had sat up by now, and she rocked back and forth in her seat, her eyes half-closed. What was her name? Rowen's mind grasped for the word, not even knowing if she'd ever had something to attach to the strange and fascinating girl she'd so often enjoyed watching. Something not quite to the back nor to the side of Rowen's mind pushed her: go meet her, she told herself. But she held herself back. It wasn't as though she wanted to associate with other people. Still, curiosity had begun to get the better of her, as there was something she had yet to find out. She groaned a bit, inwardly. For curiosity, she'd push herself.

Rowen was on her feet, now, the bangles on her bare feet sounding dull jingles over the sticky white tape on her ankles. Pad-footed, she made her way over to the girl's table with a friendly-enough half smile light on her lips. She wasn't sure what to do and paused for a moment, then turned and stood opposite the girl.

"I'm, um. I'm Rowen." She pushed the words out, wondering vaguely if the girl already knew her name. She was sure they'd never introduced; she scrabbled for an excuse to be talking to her, anyway. If it would get a name out of her, anything would fly. "You, uh, wouldn't have seen a bracelet around here, would you?"

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Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson.
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"I'm, um. I'm Rowen.”
Her big, brown eyes shot upwards towards the pretty girl, examining her from head to toe. She seemed nervous, almost as if she has never introduced herself to anyone before; but she had to of, right? How else did Fibi know who Rowan was? Maybe she introduced herself to another long ago, and Fibi just so happened to overhear her, or maybe she heard others talking about Rowen and she inferred who she was; or maybe the blue talking giraffe and the green hippo who had anchors for teeth told Fibi who Rowen was. Either way, she knew Rowen’s name- if she still remembered how she heard about her, was a completely different, and hazy, story.

“You, uh, wouldn't have seen a bracelet around here, would you?"
If Fibi was a dog, her ears would’ve pricked up. She gave Rowen a slight shrug before holding up here finger as if she was going to leave or she was talking to someone; instead, Fibi’s attention turned towards her tray, she studied it intently before lifting it up, now studying the table intently as if Rowen’s bracelet could be hiding anywhere near her. Without another second’s ado, she dove underneath the table, on her hands and knees and leaving sticky hand prints everywhere Fibi went. Granted, people where staring at the two girls as she searched intently for Rowen’s ‘lost’ bracelet, but hey, at least she was putting the effort in to search for it. With a thud, a signal that Fibi’s hard head had hit against the table, she popped back up from underneath the table and searched towards her right of the seat, then to her left.

After no luck of finding it, Fibi turned her head towards Rowen and shook her head, causing the curls in her hair to sway messily back and forth. It was quite odd for Fibi to introduce herself to another girl; many of the time, people left her alone and she was quite fine- she only had one friend since she was here, but as time went on, the girl realized she could have much cooler and more fun friends than Fibi, who, most of her time, doodled on the walls of rooms or played with her food. She pondered a little more on what her introduction should be before she spoke in a small yet loud voice, “I’m Fibi.” If there was anyone sitting near her at the time, they’d either scooted down the table or moved completely. It was a slight side effect of being Fibi- whether it was a good one or a bad one depended on how she was feeling. “I could help you look.” She said, wiping her sticky, and now dirty hand on her sweater, thinking it might be rude to help someone with gross, gooey hands.

A small outburst broke out on the level below them, her head craning downwards and her eyes instantly spotting a guy, seemingly telling a cute red head off; her face becoming almost as red as the paint Fibi uses when she wants to paint flowers. She easily recognized the guy- Marcus- who wouldn’t? After all, he was the center of attention twenty-four hours of the time; he was often spoken a lot of by many of the girls. Some would say how utterly sexy and good looking he was and others would say how nice and cool he was; some would even give details of their fantasies – which always gave poor Fibi shivers of the icky kind. Sure, he was good looking, but he had a sort of air about him; you know the kind- the type a wolf has, or something a lion or a rabid dog has. Something that’s cool at first to look at from a far, but if you get too close, it’ll eat your head off and bury you half dead; not to mention if Fibi even thought of someone attractive, she’d probably forget about him within a few seconds to join her pink penguins or go swimming with the dolphins in her fantasies-or her room if she ever decides to finish drawing them.

Within seconds of dully looking down there, Fibi’s attention snapped back to Rowen. Rowen was smaller than she was, and prettier too- almost like a little dove; except with brown feathers instead of white, and with spotted wings. Ok, maybe not a dove, but defiantly like some sort of bird; perhaps a tiny snow owl? Fibi smiled at Rowen, as if saying, ‘nice to meet you’; for a mere second, her eyes shot down at the tiny, crumbled, and sticky piece of paper that was in her other, ‘clean’ hand before she shoved the poor thing into her pocket.

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Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson.
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If she could have tasted her own words, Rowen was sure her lies would have left a sour aftertaste like burnt meat skittering across the back of her tongue. As the girl held up a finger, her stomach twisted into something the size of a walnut; when she had asked the girl about her bracelet, she hadn’t expected her to have even stood up, let alone duck down and start searching for something that didn’t exist. Was this society in its purest form? At times, it seemed as though everything ever said was built on lies. Rowen knew she was no exception, but just knowing didn’t dissipate the imagined taste playing at the tip of her tongue. Not even the rich sweetness of the faux-maple syrup still clinging to her teeth could rid her mouth of the nauseating feeling that came with seeing her words jump to life right before her eyes.

It was, perhaps, something she was simply unequipped to handle. Maybe, Rowen reasoned, maybe lying needed to be taken in increments. Whatever the case, she was terrible at it. Her words, half-baked creatures brought to life with her tongue on a feeble whim, stuttered around like a puppy missing a limb. No doubt, it was her own stupidity that had gnawed it off. Like all crippled puppies, she’d probably have to end up shooting it to snuff out its suffering. The girl had hit her head on the table. This was the other half of the reasons why she didn’t talk to people. Nothing was ever perfect and simple like it should have been. Unlike a piano key, if properly tuned, she couldn’t know how a person would react if she hit him. She could, perhaps, use her rudimentary knowledge of physics to predict where he might fall, but his psychology would be something great and unknowable, and there was nothing like the unknown to make Rowen feel so powerless.

”I’m Fibi.” Words drew Rowen’s attention back from the depths of her thoughts. She glanced up, catching a final bounce of the girl’s curls as though they had just been shaken back and forth. Though it was messy, she really did have pretty hair. It was sunny and had the kind of arabesqued curl to it that looked nice as it moved— it was the best kind of curl; people rarely ever stood still. She would really make a beautiful dancer. And she’d gotten the name: Fibi. An odd name, but it likely wasn’t her given one. A small spark of success flickered through her mind. It wasn’t long, however, before the roots of her guilt made their resurgence, snuffing out her short-lived bout of happiness. She opened her mouth slightly, a quick apology cobbling itself together on the tip of her tongue, but Fibi spoke up, first. ”I could help you look.”

And then her attention was gone to something below. Never one to pass up the opportunity to learn something interesting, Rowen’s gaze followed Fibi’s to where a sort of feminine squabble had burst to life on the main level. A blotch of red hair easily overshadowing any other color in the crowd opposed someone more masculine. She had to squint a bit to see who it was. Marcus? From the telltale swirl of bodies around him and the silhouette of a hulking figure nearby, she supposed it had to be. Who other than their dashing leader would be able to tell off a girl with hair like that? She couldn’t hear the conversation below, but it was laced with bitterness and girlish whispers. All the girls loved Marcus. Even Rowen could grudgingly admit he was just short of perfect. Still, there was something in that very perfection that didn’t sit right with her. Maybe it was that he reminded her of the oppressive bath of white and right angles her life had become. Cipher was a huge place, a fascinating place, with what seemed like an endless maze of places to explore, but there was still yet a haunting sameness to it all. Her world was a paper-white perfection that never seemed to end. In that, Marcus and the Complex were one in the same: beautiful, utterly fascinating, and deeply unsettling.

Rowen had drawn her attention back up within seconds, her stomach even more twisted than it had been before. It was no surprise. Still, she wondered why the girl had even bothered to stick around— it was an obvious lie, as she didn’t know how she should react. When had she ever owned a bracelet? The only things to ever grace her wrists were compression wrappings and the occasional scribbled note. Create what you know, she thought to herself. It was a bit of a writer’s creed, and if there was anyone she could trust, it was a writer. Even with a blatant lie, the truth would eventually slip out after so many words. She wondered if the girl had picked up on her shoddy excuse for a conversation just yet.

But the girl was smiling at her. It wasn’t a smirk or a scheming smile; rather, it was a friendly one of the kind she was all too unused to. Rowen ached to just tell the girl the truth, but in doing so, she felt as though she’d be losing something. What that something was, she couldn’t begin to figure out, yet she found herself spewing lies again. They slipped off he tongue so smoothly. She didn't stop herself; she really did hate losing, and there was something about the girl's friendly smile that held her just a step back from killing the exchange. What she had started, she couldn't leave just yet. ”It must be gone for good,” She shrugged. ”If anything, I’m sure someone picked it up. I’ll just have to make a new one. Do you— do you know how to weave bracelets?”

[OOC] @Tash: I know you're not really involved yet-- do you want to work out some way of working Marcus in over PM? I don't want you to feel like we're ignoring you or anything. It's just proximity, ATM ^__^

The setting changes from The Dining Room to The Cipher Complex

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Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson.
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“If anything, I’m sure someone picked it up. I’ll just have to make a new one. Do you— do you know how to weave bracelets?”
Fibi nodded her head, causing her curls to fly up once more; of course she made bracelets! Granted, she’d destroy them after five minutes, but she still made them. She could make them out of anything really; food, walls, floors, trays- etc. Sometimes, they were even edible; gross, but edible. Maybe Rowen wanted a new one after she lost her old one, though Fibi couldn’t sympathize or empathize with her, but she could try to make her a new one.

“Do you want to make some together?” She asked in an almost, abrupt tone. Her eyes were, once again, distracted by a pretty brunette that feathered by; she looked like a picture she saw in the library that was in a Renaissance Art book. The painting that was in the book was by Agnolo Bronzino; it was a woman who stared back at you with her dull, blue eyes with her stubby fingers over her chest. Her hair, just like the girl who walked by, her tray in her hands, was pinned up in tight, rolled back rolls that went to the back of her head. Fibi automatically thought of drawing her on her walls, but then remembered that her walls where already tight in space- not even a single line could be drawn without over-painting on another painting, which had been done a thousand times. Guess paper would do for now, or her blanket; she had to ask for paint, and could only get a few per month- boy, was she lucky that she did! Her paints were usually used up by the end of the month so replacing them just in time where convenient.

Then again, if Fibi had a specific color she knew she wouldn’t get in some time, she’d probably substitute the color with toothpaste or food, perhaps even some makeup. Without really knowing it, Fibi had ignored poor Rowen, wallowing in her own thoughts and practically blocking out whatever Rowen did or said. She looked down at the pretty girl, a slight smile pinching at her lips. “Later.” She said, meaning for the bracelet thing- if Fibi even remembered it herself, which the chance of that happening was probably fifty percent. Oh well. Before Fibi could think, she raised her hand up to Rowen’s face and waved a good bye; obviously bored with conversation at hand now- not that she had the intention of showing it. With that, she made her way out of the cafeteria, leaving her tray behind her on the table as she pranced and toddled back towards her room. Usually, after eating and playing with her food, Fibi would make her way back to her room, spending most of her time singing out loud, painting or drawing; this she did today. After turning down the hallways, and climbing up the latter, Fibi finally entered her room.

Her room had drawings and paintings sprawled all over the walls and the floors- even the ceilings had their fair share of paintings and drawings; while the floors themselves where completely covered in either paper, clothes or makeup. Stepping on something was necessary for even moving around in the small, tiny room. Her feet trudge against the floor, causing the stuff to build up and spill over the side of where her feet were. Empty paint bottles, squeezed to the point where they were inside-out, littered most of the corners of her room. Dirty paintbrushes stuck to the walls for an ‘added effect’ of some of her drawings and paintings. Once she was at a certain corner of her room, Fibi dropped to her knees and her hands where glued to the floor, searching around the pigs’ sty. Finally, after what seemed like five minutes, she pulled out a long, purple ribbon that came off of one of her shirts; she tied both ends of the ribbon and wrapped it around her hair like a pony-tail. Now it was time to get down to business- after she finds a marker…

Fibi spent most of her morning drawing on her sheets; drawing the girl she saw in the cafeteria, drawing Rowen and once she got bored of drawing girls, she began drawing whale-like creatures that where deformed in the face. Sometimes she would sing out loud a soft tune, while other times she’d hum classical music while swinging her feet up in the air. Once she became bored of drawing on her sheets, she stood on her bed and slid her hands along the wall, bringing to life whatever touched her hands; she’d play with them, get bored and then destroyed them, sending them back to her walls until this afternoon after lunch. This all together took several hours, by the time she exited her tiny, messy room, breakfast was practically over. People where exiting the cafeteria and either heading towards their rooms or going somewhere else. Fibi twirled in the hallway, singing her song that probably was louder than it should’ve been; her voice carrying on through the halls, and instantly sending a message to the oncoming people. Most of the people avoided her, while others ignored her. She began to make her to the library, more and likely to rent out a book with lots of pictures in it so she could re-draw them on the mattress.

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”Do you want to make some together?” Fibi asked, and Rowen had to bite back a grimace. She’d only wanted to know if she could show her; a yes or a no would have sufficed for an answer. But that wasn’t how people worked, she supposed. She had to pause a moment to formulate some form of a polite refusal, staring down at the wood grain as though it would somehow speed up her thinking processes. Rowen’s wings folded into her back, and she was lost in thought for a good handful of seconds before her attention drifted back to reality. When she opened her mouth to speak, however, she caught only a glimpse of bouncing curls down below as they disappeared into the throngs of people jolted up from their seats to leave the room. There the girl was, again, lost among the confusion of human nature. Rowen huffed to herself. She was hopeless, wasn’t she? She hadn’t even noticed her as she’d left.

Perhaps it was all for the better that she hadn’t spoken, though, as it seemed as though reality was where the dreams that laced her words went to die. Keeping them silent inside her would keep them alive, wouldn’t it? Because anything was true so long as she could delude herself into thinking it. Once the truth crushed her ability to lie to herself, it was all over. Anything was possible when she was left with a question unanswered. Maybe the girl had forgotten about her in that moment when she’d decided to leave. Maybe she wouldn’t remember having wanted to make bracelets. Even though Rowen told herself that it was decidedly true, she knew she couldn’t justify it if anything ever came to the contrary. For all she knew of Fibi, she was off to find string and would be back any moment— and Rowen didn’t want to stick around to let their exchange sputter some more before dying away. She had to crush it now. In a halfhearted effort to clear her mind as she moved on, she crowned her own clean plate with Fibi’s sticky masterpiece.

Drifting through the crowd, Rowen was careful to avoid any of the breakfast-time stragglers, lest they be too chatty for her tastes. The crowd at this time usually didn’t pose much of a problem; it was, for the most part, the late-sleeping loners who couldn’t be bothered to be knocked out of their early morning stupor for a pointless conversation. In terms of drifting among social groups with no real intentions of talking to any of their members, it was certainly one of Rowen’s favorites. They hardly even spared her a glance in her passing towards the tray-disposal window. It was a wide, squat hole in the wall, hardly big enough to squeeze through even if she spread her wings wide and flat and pressed them hard into her back. She didn’t plan on squeezing through, that morning, though she had tried it on occasion. There wasn’t much to see: after setting her tray on the black belts just inside the window, it snaked to the right and dropped unceremoniously into a bathtub-sized blue bin just out of view.

In the days before she had bothered to explore it, she had originally thought the room much bigger. The window itself was a good twelve feet long, set into the back wall of the cafeteria just next to the serving areas. In reality, it was hardly any larger than the portion of her room underneath the sleeping area, built to be maneuvered by no more than one or two people. The impermeable tile enclosure housing the plates and castoff food, which made the perfect hideaway for her more drug-addled brethren, narrowed into a slender hallway no more than two feet wide. It could fit the bin and perhaps a person, provided they could unlock the keypad set into the door handle at the end of the inset. Rowen had found no particular use for it, and, as far as she was aware, it led only to the sections of the semi-circle not already visible as part of the lunchroom: the dishwashing area and the kitchen store-rooms, both well-guarded to prevent, respectively, the unknown and food theft. Even Rowen’s thirst for knowledge had dulled over time to not care about what was behind that door— it was something she’d long since giving up on unlocking, and for the life of her, she couldn’t figure out why she didn’t care; the question of why it didn’t bother her seemed to plague her more than unknown, which was a rarity she handled with some suspicion.

As an individual with little want for others, Rowen had come to be well aware of her own tendencies. Among the most familiar was her curiosity: an unquenchable thing that flared up, much to her chagrin, in just over eighty percent of the least appropriate times. She had grown accustomed to having to feed her desire to know. An absence of her metaphorical mind-stomach’s growls was a refreshing silence, but it was an eerie one, regardless. It was curious that she wasn’t curious. Still, in following her lack of curiosity about the room, she set her plates down and moved on without event. Her footsteps were light and bounded up and down with an unrestrained energy seeping from her calloused soles. She’d eaten to fly that morning, and it was that she intended to do. Her bangles jingled with each step she took over polished wood and stone tile alike— though they made more noise on the latter, she noted. She silenced her footsteps in the hallway. They followed a path well-ingrained into her muscle memory, and she hardly needed to spare a glance around to know the turns. If she measured each step carefully enough, she could count: twenty-seven steps from the dining room, left, follow the wall for seventy-three. Right, then another forty straight forward. Turn right. Three steps. Left— she was passing the tiny washroom tucked away for those who needed it badly enough. Somehow, someone managed to find it and clean it, if only once a week. She’d never needed it; as it was located right outside the chapel, it was never far from the library, which housed its own— two, in fact, with one each for men and women.

Rowen took a sudden left and ducked through the open wooden door, arriving in a dimly-lit room made of stone and colored glass. The odd things carved into the wall proclaimed it a chapel, though she wasn’t completely sure what a chapel was. Everything she’d ever read had assumed she was already familiar with the concept; by result, she’d only ever learned that they housed weddings. Hardly any weddings had ever taken place in the Complex, so it made sense that the chapel, for the most part, served only to store an ever-growing community of dust bunnies communing under the benches. Even from the dictionary, she’d managed to glean nothing more than the fact that it was used to worship someone or other.

Statues of men nailed to posts loomed over the stone enclosure. Despite their strange imagery, they looked beautiful under the dappled color falling through the windows above. The men looked similar— perhaps they were brothers? Their smooth, somehow inhuman features gave away nothing of their story, only sitting in stony silence, expecting that she somehow already knew their story.

Above the brothers, however, posed her favorite image, by far: a winged man with yellow hair. His wings were white and unmottled by the black spots so prevalent on her own, and they hung at a funny angle, but she couldn’t help feeling some sort of kinship with the man despite his many oddities. As a ritual, it was always the open-air window above him Rowen perched on before taking off into the heat outside. Rowen gave a farewell glance to the dying brothers before turning her back to them, leaning forward, spreading her wings, and letting herself drop. Like a parachute, they caught the air and slowed her fall until she forced them down, up, then down again. Massive muscles for massive wings flexed and exerted their power to carry Rowen up, up higher until she was diving and catching the desert drift high above the chapel’s rather imposing, pointed roof. There was still higher a distance to climb before she would be able to land in a perch on the glass dome covering the library tower, and her spiralled trajectory soon carried her there. She spread her wings wide, coasting in on a practiced bout of residual energy left from flight. Rowen released her abdominals, holding her, in tandem with the wind, nearly parallel to the ground before tucking her knees to her chest.

One.
Rowen folded herself tighter. The glass dome, a fragile thing perplexingly strong in the desert sun, was hardly six meters away.

Two.
The dome neared. It was close enough for Rowen’s mind to switch to feet. At ten feet away, she released her arms from around her knees and spread her wings as wide as she could to catch the air and slow her down. Five feet, three feet.

Three.
Her feet pressed down into the glass, and Rowen had to catch herself from slamming face-first into the glass. She’d seen birds botch the landing all too many times. But she’d made it, and her face was fine, just as usual. The roof hadn’t cracked— it never had. Against the whipping breeze, she crawled over the roof until she found the single hinged panel and let it up before hopping down and in, drawing it shut on her way in. She folded her wings into her body and slipped through.

Finally— some peace among her books.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson. Character Portrait: Brandon Thanes
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Brandon had seen the note among his morning meal. Of course he was a curious young man, and most definitely would read the note later, but now, it was time to get some calories into his body. The morning bustle began as the residents of the Complex came to get their breakfast. A couple even said hi to Brandon. He was, in no way, popular. At least, not as massively popular as Marcus. He had friends, and he talked to them daily, but he never had crowds of people doting over him. Which Brandon very much enjoyed. Companionship was a lovely thing, but talk about overdose. The king of the Complex's social circles must have the patience of a god.

After taking a few bites of pancake and egg, Brandon removed a small orange bottle of pills from his pant's pocket. The pills were his medication. Brandon never liked to take the pills, because he knew what they did. The doctors say that Brandon's ability allows him to access around 35 percent of his brain, but that extra percentage is only good for using his ability. It can't retain knowledge, and doesn't get much exercise. The doctors also tell him that if his brain usage was 50 percent, the horrible side-effects would stop. But the meds wouldn't let that happen. They stopped Brandon from accidentally killing himself. Alas, it was his price to pay for his power, and he bared it bravely. Popping two small white pills in his mouth, Brandon takes a gulp of water and forces the medication down. It only takes a few minutes before he can feel his mind dull, just a little, but still noticeable.

Two tables over, Fibi sat, playing in the day's breakfast. The girl always managed to fascinate Brandon. Her eccentricities made her so interesting. And her ability to animate her makeshift creations was just as remarkable, even if the girl did brutally destroy them shortly after their birth. Brandon usually watched her make a mess on her plate most days, as it served to brighten his morning often. Although, he never talked to her. One of these days, he would. Fibi sat up from her art session to read from a small piece of paper. She wasn't being very subtle about it, so Brandon could see that it looked like the slip of paper he'd found. Though, he couldn't hear what Fibi said, as the chatter in the dining room was much too loud.

Rowen eventually came down from her balcony to talk to Fibi. Brandon never really took notice of her, probably because she was trying to keep it that way. All he knew was her name, and that she had very cool wings. The winged girl came over to Fibi, and shortly after, Fibi went straight under the table and began looking for something. An audible thump sounded from the area, and Brandon suppressed a chuckle when she got up, seemingly unfazed. He also followed her gaze to the area over the railing, where Marcus was dumping this week's admirer.

Not caring too much for the drama, Brandon finished his breakfast and sent his tray through the window at the back of the cafeteria. He made his way out into the hall, before the after-meal rush could sweep him through the halls. His destination was the library, to do some research on psychology.

Now, Brandon steps through the halls, rubber soles thumping lightly on the wood floor, heading towards the depository of knowledge. On his way, he passes the chapel. Brandon never understood the concept of religion, a concept which he gleaned from his research. All he knows is that the hope of life after death and the thought of a creator gave people purpose; purpose defines one's outlook on life, therefore, their own psychology. Shaking his head, Brandon passes through the double doors of the library, and heads off to the back, where he could read in peace. Once he sits down in a chair, Brandon pulls the note out, and gives it a read.

Somewhere,
a desert rose blooms


A note so cryptic and poetic it hurt. Sighing, Brandon grabs a stack of books. This little line would be a tough one to crack, but a satisfying challenge none the less. Although, when did they start giving out riddles at meals?

The setting changes from The Cipher Complex to The Library

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Rowen "Sparrow" Butler Character Portrait: Felicia (Fibi) Marie Thompson. Character Portrait: Brandon Thanes Character Portrait: Marcus Walker
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The library was filled with anything but silence in the after-breakfast-between-lunch rush, but then, Rowen hardly come expecting a soundless sanctuary. After years in the Cipher spent forming her cycle of habit, Rowen had come to realize that the places she'd once come to expect privacy from rarely offered anything of the sort. Strangely, however, she could find peace under the gaping dome of windows above, and that was enough. Making her way across the room, she pushed aside the stacks of books she'd accumulated the previous week and added the hardly-diminutive stack to the growing fortress surrounding the only ladder leading up to her haven atop the library. The books awaiting return were stacked like bricks, and like most shoddy, mortarless constructions, the teetering wall of books threatened to topple at her unsuspecting touch. Fortunately for Rowen, she was well aware of the precarious predicament she'd built herself into, and she told herself somewhere in the back of her mind that she'd return the books sometime that week.

Of course, that was what she'd said last week, and she'd told herself the same in the weeks and months before. She could hardly remember the titles of the books on the bottom. Unlike the books she had kept hostage in her room in the name of scientific inquiry, this wall of books had never moved on its own. Books outside the library were all too often found missing from where she had left them to die upside down and alone, but the mess she made here hardly did anything but gather dust over the course of the last few months. From the fact that the tower was still standing she could surmise that no one had bothered to climb the ladder in just as long— Rowen had a habit of either taking the domed ceiling's entrance or just staying in when the chance presented itself. Anyone else motivated and able to join her in her peace had done the former when she hadn't been doing the ladder; not once had she seen another soul in the atrium above the library.

It was, in a way, her own small secret, this sunlit place. When the sun hit the windows in all the right ways, it almost seemed as though the undergrowth slipping onto the tiled floor was forming the carpet of the lush meadows she'd so often read of. Lush meadows, too, had their own special places in the heart of secrets kept, so the atrium itself was more than just her surrogate home above the library— in a way, it was the very world itself, as well.

The atrium, despite its spacious composure, was in a perpetual state of clutter. One thing or another was always in bloom while something else had just died, so Rowan often left all the windows open to circulate the air and alleviate some of the humidity. The windows opened in a single circle within the shape of the dome, so when each was opened at once, end to end, the top of the building in itself resembled the flowers it housed within. This small perfection gave the entire level a character and a mystique of its own, and Rowen would swear it was half the reason she spent so much time up there, in the first place.

Today, however, the windows were closed. The humidity was hardly noticeable, for once, and she couldn't be bothered to tend to the greenery. Nestled between against a rather stunted willow and the dirt-holding terrace's brick wall, she was content to skim through the first book she had grabbed. She couldn't have read them all, with the stack she'd brought up last week. But skimming through it, she realized it wasn't anything new. Without something to read, sitting there was going to be a long, trying affair, so she stood up and searched the books scattered around the room for something to occupy herself with. One book after another, think and thin and too heavy to lift without a struggle, found its way into her hands, but not a single one stayed.

It occurred to Rowen that now might be a good time to get some new books. Internally, she groaned. Either she braved the people downstairs or she could sit here, bored, for hours while they all left.

Well, there was always dance. She could practice her dancing. Granted, she would have to clean the place up a bit and find a spot not covered with creeping vines— but she could do it. Right? Well, if she gathered the effort. Which wasn't going to happen. Rowen sat herself down again to think for a bit. It had hardly quieted in the minutes she'd spent bumbling around the place, and she doubted silence was going to come any faster. She didn't have a choice.

Also, she really needed to take those books down.

Rowen gathered a stack and extended her wings. She held a good number of books in a pile laid against her chin and chest. The stack was tall enough to cover three or four weeks: hard-backs, paperbacks, it consisted of whatever she could find in the vicinity. It would take her more than a couple trips to get them all down, but it would probably be worth it. Probably. Rowen was afraid to admit to herself that she couldn’t remember what the atrium actually looked like in its barest state, free of books and the mess she’d made.

When she pushed down to take off, however, her muscles screamed with the effort. They were already taxed enough carrying the hundred-pound, hollow-boned girl, and another handful of pounds thrown in by the books wasn’t about to help. The stack was too high and too heavy to fly with even carrying moderately sized loads. In the matter of transporting books, Rowen’s wings were clipped; she was bound to the ground. There was no point in climbing down the ladder, as she had no means of carrying them down, and risking the collapse of her book fort was hardly an inviting option. That left what was potentially hundreds of small trips taken to cover the hundreds of weeks of book rations Rowen had left for herself scattered about the room.

Ah, wonderful. She began to wonder why no one had ever bothered building stairs in the place.

It was then that her desperate eyes found it: there, in a tucked-away alcove long since smothered by the vines, was an odd black door she hadn’t noticed before. Perhaps she had always been so engrossed in reading, or perhaps she had never had need to notice such a thing, but now, on seeing it for the first time, a small flicker of joy was set alight in her heart. She slipped through the vines and let the door swing open to reveal a daunting metal cage. Made of nothing more than wrought-iron bars attached to a wood-and-metal floor, it exuded anything but an air of safety. The device looked like nothing more than a storage closet until she noticed the pulley lever attached to the inside and the sign reading “Elevator” just above the doorway. The function of the strange closet became obvious. She stacked up piles of books inside, first, before stepping in— it was best to lose the rickety cage and the pile of paper than her life, she concluded. When it held fast, she stepped inside.

Rowen had read about elevators, but she had never seen one before. The majority of the vertical transport in the Cipher was achieved via stairs or ladders, as there was no need for large-scale, automated transport. Rowen, however, would gladly take the opportunity to use one now. Though she was sure she hardly needed the extra ‘protection,’ she slid the doors shut just for the thrill of it and wrenched the lever down hard.

Almost inevitably, it wouldn’t move.

Rowen levered herself against it, and it creaked a bit, but it still moved hardly more than an inch. She had to hoist herself up onto it and sit on the thing before a deafening crack sounded and the elevator hummed to life. There was the most beautiful sinking feeling in her stomach as she dropped to the floor. It was like flying with her feet still stuck to the ground, and she was disappointed when the adventure was finally over. She opened the sliding grate and opened the outermost door, nearly falling into a heavy coughing fit when what must have been years of dust tumbled onto her head from the doorframe. It seemed as though the elevator had never been used.

The door opened out behind a bookshelf. The small space, through which Rowen could hardly fit her wings, was the perfect breeding grounds for spiders and any number of unpleasant things that liked to crop up in the moments she wasn’t watching where she tread. The elevator, loaded with books, would take more than a couple trips to rid it of its contents. Rowen picked up a new stack and shuffled out from behind the bookshelf, careful to take note of where this hidden treasure laid in wait— it was the wall farthest from the entrance, tucked behind a shelf of books on nothing more than strange modern art and drawing. Of the few glimpses she managed to catch of the books, the paint splotches on the spine were the first to come to her attention. She supposed even the strange art section had its clientele.

With that, Rowen set to work, slipping through the library to seek out the drop-bin while trying to avoid the gaze of the passers-by. Underneath the stack of books, her face was invisible, and she walked the library like she ran the place. She wanted to get this over with as soon as possible.

If she didn’t, she swore to the sky above that someone would ask her to help find a book.


[[ OOC: Tagging you all, since you're all in here. Do what you will. Sorry it took so long— I had no idea who was supposed to be posting. Guilt. Guilt. ]]

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