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Hayden Byrne

"If this is to end in fire, then we shall all burn together."

0 · 284 views · located in Greythorne

a character in “greythorne”, as played by partially-stars

Description



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if this is to end in firex then we shall all burn together
i see fire - ed sheeran
like real people do - hozier
disaster hearts - i fight dragons



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F U L LXN A M E
Hayden Byrne

N I C K N A M E (S)
Hay, Hay-Hay

B I R T H D A Y
June 21

A G E
21

R O L E
Elven Druid

S E X U A L I T Y
Asexual panromantic

E T H N I C I T Y
50% Irish, 25% American, 25% Russian

H O M E T O W N
Galway, Ireland

H E X
#005555.



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S T Y L E
Hayden doesn’t have all that much of a style if he’s being honest. Most of the time, he lives in button down shirts and jeans, layering with hoodies or denim jackets to keep warm. He’s usually found wearing multiple layers as he’s pretty much always cold, as well as providing extra cover for the faded scars of swirling symbols on his skin. When he dresses up, he just wears nicer button downs and nicer trousers, and might tie his hair back.

H E I G H T & W E I G H T
5’9”, 70kg

A P P E A R A N C E
Everything about Hayden’s appearance is made to make him blend in, make him unremarkable. He’s not unattractive, he’s got pretty blue eyes and full lips. But there are two things about him that are truly remarkable about him. First is his long light brown hair that sits just at his shoulders, curling gently and framing his face. He’s worn his hair long ever since it was forcibly cut when he was seventeen, and he never wears it any shorter than shoulder-length as it allows him to hide behind it, as well as hiding his distinctive pointed ears. Second is the swirling scars that cover his entire body. When one looks closely, the ones on his arms are a little more raised and not as clean as the others, and form sigils to allow him to cast spells if needed.



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L I K E S
He loves the comforting weight of layers. He adores fruit and herbal teas, and loves trying out new and unusual combinations. He likes people who can make him laugh and make him feel at home. He loves fresh flowers, but found that he could never seem to keep houseplants alive. He loves musicals. Drawing is one of his only escapes, and it's the only thing that can calm him down when he's stressed.

D I S L I K E S
He hates being told he should get a haircut or having people comment on his hair. Caffeine gives him palpitations and he's incredibly sensitive to it. Seeing blood makes him incredibly panicky, whether it's his own or someone else's. He finds boats make him incredibly queasy, and he doesn't like being so far from the land. He doesn't like it when people drag him in to arguments or try and get his advice over petty matters.


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ImageP E R S O N A L I T Y
Hayden had responsibility thrust on him at a remarkably young age, and it feels like his entire life has been defined by that. He's been expected to be a source of wisdom, a source of advice and of strategy. He's quiet and has a tendency to not speak unless spoken to, and only when he feels like he really has something to contribute to the conversation. Everything he says has thought behind it, and he's not one to speak out in anger or in haste. His own wellbeing and his own personal opinions come second to the greater good, to what will be better for those around him.

But he really doesn't want to be like this. He sees the freedom of those around him and longs for something similar. For people who are allowed to make mistakes and get things wrong without being viewed as a disappointment. He wants to do dumb things and laugh at silly things and feel alive for once. Travelling has allowed him to do that and has let him experience something like normality, but he has that awful, gut feeling that it won't last, that at some point he will be called to return and will have to take up that responsibility.

Hayden has always been the type to put himself over others. His family were historically defenders, not healers, but Hayden still received the ability to heal, and he does so without much thought for his own self preservation. As much as he longs for something like normality, his sense of duty almost always comes first. He has to do the right thing, as hard as it can be sometimes. But it runs deeper than just his role; it's who he is.

Hayden tends to keep walls up, keep a sense of distance as is expected from his role. But when he lets his walls down, many are surprised by him. He's got a good sense of humour and is liable to tease those around him to show affection. He doesn't show affection in the typical ways, but shows it through small gifts and drawings, as well as spending time with them and being completely unable to keep a smile off his face when he's around people he loves.


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H I S T O R Y
Hayden grew up in a rural part of Galway, far from most of humanity, where the elves could be themselves without anyone paying too much heed. Growing up, he was a beloved child, full of energy and light, able and ready to talk to anyone that he encountered. He was shown to be a proficient healer, and his parents had high hopes for him. There hadn't been a druid born to their village for well over a century, and they thought that perhaps the time for druids was over. But as Hayden grew up, the village elders recognised the signs of a child potentially called to be a druid.

Their suspicions were confirmed at the age of twelve. Hayden can't remember what happened exactly, but he woke up with three of the elders staring at him and talking excitedly about what this meant. And then, he began being coached. Taught how to cast more elaborate spells, made to strengthen his abilities as a healer, learning about the gods they prayed to and being tested for affinities for them. The way the people looked at him changed. He was now something holy, something to be looked up to, something that was a source of wisdom. Hayden felt like he was too important to these people, that he couldn't let them down, that he couldn't mess up.

The ritual came the night of his seventeenth birthday. He was given no warning. One of the elders simply came to his home and told him to change, before bringing him to the temple. Hayden can't remember much of it, but he remembers the pain. He remembers one of the elders carelessly slicing off a chunk of Hayden's hair as part of the ritual. He remembers feeling as though his skin was on fire. But he woke up the morning after, and everything felt different. Silver lines traced his skin like scars, and he felt... more powerful. He took up the role of druid and advisor once he'd recovered.

Hayden still doesn't know which of their gods he's tied to. It never seemed to matter. He spent three years serving his village. But when something in him told him to leave, told him to travel, he gladly listened. He spend months roaming America, listening for the place that made the voice in his head happy. He'd visited a number of towns like Greythorne, but Greythorne was the first place where he knew he'd be staying for a while.



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A B I L I T I E S
Hayden is, by birth, a healer. He can heal all but the most serious of wounds through physical contact. He doesn't have to be touching the wound itself, but the closer he is to touching it, the easier it is to heal. He can't reverse poisonings or reverse massive internal trauma, but he can repair broken bones, heal wounds, and even help cure certain illnesses. The larger the wound, the more energy it requires for him to heal. As a druid, he also has a number of other abilities, but all of them come with a more significant cost. The smallest of which is his perception. He can read people and gets a "feeling" about them much quicker, and can almost always tell when somebody is lying to him. As this is constantly present, it doesn't seem to drain him, but his hypothesis is that his perception is the reason he's always cold. He has a number of symbols on his arms that represent spells that require his blood as a sacrifice, such as shielding spells and more elaborate attacks. Not only do these spells require him to draw his own blood, they also use a huge amount of energy, often to the point of him passing out when he stops the spell. He can summon visions through a ritual, but doesn't like doing so as he knows he can't change the outcome of those visions.

T A L E N T S
Hayden is an incredibly talented artist, working best with watercolours, but also having a talent for just pencil sketches. Due to growing up in a Protector family, he's surprisingly good with a sword as well as a bow and arrow.

S T R E N G T H S
Hayden speaks Irish, English, and Russian fluently, and has a decent level of fluency in a number of other languages. He's an incredible artist. He was playing with toy swords and being taught to fight from a young age, so he's quite talented now. He's level-headed and isn't the type to rush into a decision without thought.

W E A K N E S S E S
His need to think things through can sometimes cause him to delay or procrastinate as he tries to figure out if he's doing the right thing. Blood makes him uneasy and anxious and can lead to him becoming overwhelmed in combat. He puts literally everyone else before himself.


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So begins...

Hayden Byrne's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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PHOENIX WOODS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #c4a7be
xxxam i more than you bargained for yet?
xxxi'm just dying to tell you
xxxanything you want to hear
xxxbut that's just who i am this week
They cried more that night than either of them had in years. Phoenix held it together until he was out of Alex’s sight and earshot, but the shock of seeing himself covered in his own blood was startling, and the realization of what had almost happened- what had happened, if only for seconds, minutes- hit home. And once the levee broke, it didn’t take much for the floods to start again. Just pulling on clean, dry then clothes was almost enough to set him off, but the fact that they smelled like Abuela’s washing detergent, that they smelled like Alex, sent him into floods of tears. Hugging Alex again when he got back into the kitchen. Laughter at Phoenix having to rescue the hot chocolate and the mac and cheese that turned into tears all over again. Phoenix waking them both up when he woke up from a brutal nightmare, already choking on sobs.

It got better with time. Once the shock and the horror and the guilt of the night was over, things got easier. Phoenix thought Abuela was actually going to cry when she came back the next morning to find the two of them sitting in her kitchen as if the past few weeks had never happened. And as horrible as the night before had been, that feeling of familiarity as the three of them sat in the kitchen and chatted and laughed made everything feel so much better. It felt like coming home.

But not everything was the same. It seemed their entire lives had been shaped by dumb, reckless decisions- and Phoenix’s decision to kiss Alex again after Alex insisted on walking him back to his apartment was no different. He realised the minute that he did it that he might have messed up, that he might be ruining everything they’d just fixed. But then Alex was kissing him back, and god, it just felt so right.

Figuring things out at first hadn’t exactly been easy. It was only when they stopped trying to figure things out and just let it be what it was that everything seemed to fall into place. They’d kept it just to themselves for a while. But they had to tell Abuela. Her reaction was… not what they’d expected. Apparently she’d been waiting for this to happen since they were kids. And after Jaiden “broke” into Phoenix’s apartment at three am to find them making out on the couch, they’d stopped trying to hide it.

After everything that had happened, Phoenix wanted to make sure that nobody was spending Christmas alone. His parents had been planning on coming home for a week or two then- but given that they’d had two major attacks so close together, they were reluctant to, and so were spending Christmas in Australia. Phoenix was oddly conflicted about the whole thing, but didn’t let himself dwell on it. It meant that he didn’t have any commitments and could do something good.

After the chaos that had been Friendsgiving, Phoenix should have been reluctant to invite that many people over again. But after what he felt was careful planning, he was convinced that he would have totally been able to handle it. It took Alex talking him out of it and Abuela offering up her house before he agreed that maybe the apartment was a little small. And he invited people who didn’t have family in town, or who didn’t get along with their family, over to Abuela’s for Christmas dinner, complete with Secret Santa. In return, he just asked people to bring a side, a dessert, or board games for after dinner.

He spent the entirety of Christmas Eve finishing up the last few things he needed to do. It was different to every other Christmas, but not in a bad way. It felt good to be doing something, something that would put smiles on everyone else’s face, and that was what mattered. At half one in the morning, Alex finally convinced him to go to bed.

And even still, Phoenix naturally woke up early. The sun was only starting to rise, the soft light filling the bedroom. Alex still seemed to be asleep, so Phoenix quietly slid out of bed and went to the kitchen. It was still a little strange, having someone else living in the apartment with him. Not strange in a bad way, but just in a way that struck him every now and when he had the place to himself. The apartment seemed smaller, but cosier, feeling more like there was constant life in it. Maybe it was the stones and feathers and other odds and ends that Alex appeared home with that were now scattered over the apartment, or the way that things were just never left in the same way that they had been when he was living alone. And he wouldn’t have changed any of it.

The coffee brewed and a selection of pastries piled on to a plate, he made his way back into the bedroom and put a mug of coffee down on Alex’s bedside table. “Morning, asshole,” he called with a grin. He sat cross-legged on the bed beside Alex, his own mug of coffee in his hands. “Merry Christmas.”





ROSIE THOMPSON
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outfit : herex|xhex: #cc0460
xxxlittle things i should have said and done
xxxi never took the time
xxxbut you are always on my mind
xxxyou are always on my mind.
Nothing had quite been the same since that night in her house. Nothing had happened that night- Kay had plopped herself down beside Kay and Trav and they’d chatted until Kay started to fall asleep. But Rosie had texted Travis the following morning after he’d left to ask him for dinner.

They’d gone for dinner a few times, gone for coffee a few times, but things never seemed to quite work out. She’d kissed him after their second time going for dinner, but it had been interrupted by her phone ringing. And things like that kept happening. Rosie didn’t mind. She liked just going for dinner or grabbing coffee or going for a walk together.

But after the attack, she’d also taken on a more proactive role in defending the town. Well, specifically, in protecting her students. They were taking it in turns to walk or drive some of the younger students home, as well as any of the older students who lived a little further away. When some of her students wanted to learn self-defence, she agreed, on the condition that it was only to be used if they had no other choice. The most recent attack had been bigger, more aggressive, more damaging, and just telling the kids to run and hide wasn’t going to be enough before long. They had to learn to fight back.

She’d been surprised when she’d gotten word from Phoenix, inviting her around for Christmas. Then he had explained what he was doing and that he didn’t want anybody to feel alone, and she’d gladly agreed. She hadn’t been all that surprised to find out that he and Alex were together. She’d felt sorry for Kay, of course, but she could remember what the two of them had been like in high school. She was only surprised that it had taken this long.

It was nice to sleep in for once. Even still, she woke up relatively early, stretching and yawning. Travis was coming around to hers first and they were going to Alex’s abuela’s place together. She reached for her phone and sent him a text, before having a quick shower and getting dressed.

To: Travis
Merry Christmas! Christmas breakfast at my place?





HAYDEN BYRNE
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outfit : herex|xhex: #005555
xxxoh should my people fall
xxxthen surely i'd do the same
xxxconfined in mountain halls
xxxwe got too close to the flame
Hayden had completely lost track of his days over the past few weeks. He’d known that it was close to Christmas, of course, but he hadn’t realised exactly how close it was until he woke up Christmas morning, went out in search of breakfast, and found everywhere closed. It was only then it sank in what day it was.

Something in him had been urging him to try and find this town for a while now. He’d driven all over BC, it felt, before finding himself in the tiny town the day before. He’d arrived into town, and that constant driving urge finally settled, something in him releasing a contented sigh of “here.” He didn’t know why he was here, or what he was supposed to do, but something told him that it was going to be here for more than a few days.

He’d asked the day before if there were any elves in town, anyone like him. The owner of the B&B had shook her head, before going “Oh, wait, we have a half-elf. Her name’s Kaylessa Valven.” They’d written down her address for him. He didn’t know whether or not he should visit, given that it was Christmas Day. But he didn’t have anything better to do, and he figured that if she seemed busy, he could claim to just be stopping by.

But even as he reached her front door, he reconsidered. Maybe tomorrow would be a better time, maybe she had plans today or just wouldn’t want to see anyone. But before he could knock, the door opened, and he was confronted with a young woman, probably about his age, with long dark hair, and big blue eyes. "Uh, hi, sorry, are you... Kaylessa? Sorry, it's just someone told me you're the only other elf- well, half elf in town, and, well, I'm an elf so I thought I should... come say hi. I'm Hayden, by the way. Oh, sorry, are you just heading out? I can... come back?" He rambled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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KAYLESSA VALVEN
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #FF4500
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xxx If I'm a bad person, you don't like me
xxx Well, I guess I'll make my own way
xxx It's a circle, a mean cycle
xxx Sometimes I wanna fuckin' scream or run away,
xxxI can't excite you anymore

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Kaylessa had a much better night spending it with Travis and Rosie, but started getting tired and excused herself from Rosie’s place, promising to travel safely, the attack had died down but there could still have been stragglers. But Travis insisted on walking him home, he was still a little cold from what all happened, but after hugging Rosie the two walked back to Kay’s place, Travis still wrapped in a blanket. Kaylessa also gave Travis a hug before she walked into her home, and scrawled across her bed and falling asleep.

Kaylessa was excited to get a message and invite from Phoenix talking about a get together with numerous people from Greythorne and even doing a Secret Santa, she pulled Markus’ name. While they were close and she considered him a friend, she had some issues trying to figure out what to get him. Kay knew what he liked, but wanted to get him something that he would enjoy, and not just some generic gift. She spent most of her time since receiving Markus’ name around him trying to get ideas, but not trying to reveal she had his name for the secret Santa. So to make him not think it was her, Kaylessa would ask him questions about Jaiden and what she likes, while slipping in small questions about him. In her mind, if she asked questions about Jaiden, he would think she got Jaiden’s name but not his. Though this only party worked, she ended up getting a lot of ideas for Jaiden and not many gift ideas for him.

One day while walking around town Kay spotted someone walking their dog who was carrying a toy and finally figured out what to get him. While hanging around Markus and being at his place, she noticed his dog Coco didn’t really have much for toys, which made sense since Greythorne didn’t exactly have a pet store and usually would need to be special ordered of someone have to ask Travis to pick it up. So she would get Coco a toy. But Kaylessa wasn’t someone to buy stuff for people but liked making things, so she spent most of the time in the woods trying to find whatever leaves and plants were surviving the winter to make a rope for Coco, hoping Markus would appreciate it.

It was now Christmas morning and Kaylessa was excited. She had finished weaving and making the plant based rope for Coco. She was proud of what she made and was sure that her gift would be well received. She placed it in a box for a poster and wrote who it was for on it. “To Markus (and Coco)" With a small smile and flower next to it. After it was done, Kay was thinking of heading back into the woods, maybe to get some more inspiration for her gift for Markus and quickly got ready and opened her door to head out. Though to her surprise, there was someone on her door step. He had pretty deep blue eyes and hair that was about shoulder length, which not many males around Greythorne did. Kay had never met this man before, but for some reason he felt familiar and had a certain glow about him. “Oh hi!” She said with a smile before he spoke.

At first Kay was confused why he said someone said she was a half-elf and why that would be important to him, but the next thing he said caught her attention and her eyes widened and she was intrigued. He was an elf. She could tell now by his facial features and noticed one of his ears not completely covered by hair. “You’re an elf? Wow! Yeah, I’m half-elf. So like, half you, half Travis then.” She replied to him, And his name was Hayden. “Oh. No, I’m not busy. Was just gonna head into the woods for a bit. But come inside! And call me Kay!” Kaylessa said as she twirled back around and headed inside. “Oh, and please take off your shoes.” Though Kay didn’t wear shoes, she still had a shoe rack by her front door for others. Taking off your shoes before entering wasn’t Kay’s rule, but one of her mothers that she kept following.

As they went inside Kaylessa apologized for the mess, though it was more of just some blankets thrown around and the occasional dish left on the side table, she prided herself on keeping the house clean, another thing she learned from her mother. “So, you’re an actual full blooded elf? I’ve only ever known my mother, but she left awhile ago.” Kaylessa ran over to the shelf and handed him a picture of her mother and young Kay, before flopping onto the couch. [color=#FF4500]“But tell me about you! Like, what is it like? You have a tribe right? Do our people still do that? Can I say that, our people? You know, since I’m only half.” She spouted many questions at Hayden, showing her hyper personality she has.

Before Hayden could reply to any of her questions a spark came to Kay and it was probably noticeable. “Oh wait!” She quickly got up and went to an old looking trunk in the corner of the room and opened it, picking up the book that was on top, and walking back and handing it to Hayden. It was bound in leather and had a piece of twine tied in a bow that could be untied to open it. “Merry Christmas. It’s an old book of my mom’s and has markings and other stuff I don’t exactly understand. But like, you would know this stuff right? My mother was in a tribe long ago before she left, well… exiled…” Kaylessa trailed off, she knew being exiled meant alot, but couldn’t exactly understand it all. “I tried asking other elves that would come through but th-” Kaylessa paused for a second. “They didn’t like me, and avoided me. Since you know, I’m not like them, not like you.” Growing up, Kay’s mom warned her some people wouldn’t like Kay, not because she wasn’t human, but because she was half, and many elves saw half-elves as less than them. “Sorry if I’m talking too much, I’m just excited.” She finished, smiling again.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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PHOENIX WOODS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #c4a7be
xxxam i more than you bargained for yet?
xxxi'm just dying to tell you
xxxanything you want to hear
xxxbut that's just who i am this week
Phoenix just smirked as Alex swore at him in response to his greeting. It had only been a couple of weeks, but it hadn’t taken long to get used to it. Then again, he’d gotten the same response any time Alex had passed out on his couch for whatever reason as they were growing up, so he couldn’t say he wasn’t used to it. The same went for Alex practically inhaling the pastry, making Phoenix raise an eyebrow and his smirk widen a little.

Phoenix raised his eyebrows as Alex brought up the present again. He’d been getting this for a while now. Or else Alex would talk about how amazing the present he’d gotten for Phoenix was and try and bait Phoenix into giving away some of the details. In all honesty, trying to find a suitably nice present had been hard. It didn’t help that he was limited to the few shops in Greythorne itself and online shopping. But he’d wanted to find something special after everything they’d been through.

“Okay fine, whatever, you can have it if it’ll shut you up,” Phoenix said melodramatically, putting his coffee back on the bedside table and getting up, going and retrieving the small box from under the tree, before going back into the bedroom and climbing back into bed, pulling the covers back up. “Here.”

He’d found it by chance. He’d been looking in the antique store for something else entirely, but he’d spotted this instead. A small, simple, gold pocket watch. It was in need of a good clean and was perhaps a little plain for some, but it was perfect. Phoenix had brought it to the jewelers to get it cleaned up, and to get a few symbols engraved into it. A sigil for protection on the front and back, as well as Alex’s initials.

“You always like shiny things,” he said by way of explanation with a small shrug, while trying to gauge Alex’s reaction.





ROSIE THOMPSON
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outfit : herex|xhex: #cc0460
xxxlittle things i should have said and done
xxxi never took the time
xxxbut you are always on my mind
xxxyou are always on my mind.
Rosie grinned at Travis’ response to the text, starting to make up the pancake batter. She honestly hadn’t known what to get Travis for Christmas. She wanted to get something nice, something… different. She didn’t have a whole lot of time to go shopping, but the idea struck her late one night as she listened to some of her records while grading papers

She’d just retrieved the first batch from the pan when there was a knock at the door. She went to let him in and beamed at him as he stepped inside. “Thank you!” She called as they went into the sitting room. She raised an eyebrow at the small box, but eagerly tore open the paper.

“Oh my god, I love it! It’s so pretty!” She gushed, pulling it out of the box and putting it on. It was a little bit quirky too, which just made her love it more. “Hold on, I’ll get you your pancakes and your present,” she said, going back out to the kitchen and plating up some pancakes for both of them, and retrieving the present from where she had it left beside her small Christmas tree.

“It took a bit of work because nobody really… does this any more, or they do it differently. But when I was growing up, if you really liked somebody… you made them a mixtape,” she said, handing him the box. “I figured you probably don’t still have a cassette player, so I got you one of those too. Don’t listen to it now. You listen to mixtapes when you get home and when you can really appreciate it,” she said with a grin.






HAYDEN BYRNE
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outfit : herex|xhex: #005555
xxxoh should my people fall
xxxthen surely i'd do the same
xxxconfined in mountain halls
xxxwe got too close to the flame
The energy he got from the young woman across from him was immediately positive. She didn’t seem fazed by his presence at all, already chatting away and inviting him in, asking him to take off his shoes as he did so. The house was warm and cozy and made him feel immediately at home, as did his energetic host.

He glanced at the photo she handed him, of the beautiful woman and the pretty young girl in it. He couldn’t say he recognized the woman, but his village had been small and an entire ocean away. Frankly, he would have been more surprised if he had recognized her.

Even though Kay kept asking him questions, she wasn’t giving him much of a chance to answer. He found her enthusiasm endearing though, and he found himself smiling. He’d taken his life for granted, growing up around people who respected him and almost revered him. He couldn’t imagine not knowing other people like him.

She seemed to suddenly remember something and shot to her feet, darting across the room to a trunk. He wasn’t sure what to expect, but the book she handed him wasn’t it. He untied the piece of twine and began to examine the book, before she revealed that her mother had been exiled and that the other elves who had passed through had ignored her and her questions. There were some elves like that, who believed their bloodline was sacred, that there should never be any interbreeding because they were above the humans. Hayden didn’t know all that much about the humans, but from what he had seen, cutting themselves off seemed like a foolish decision. And kicking people out for falling in love seemed even more so.

“It’s completely understandable. Our people, well, they’re not always the most open-minded. But that mindset is becoming outdated. The elf blood matters just as much as the human blood,” he said with a smile. “So, I can’t answer most of your questions, because as you can probably tell, I’m not really from around here, so whatever tribe or village your mother came from could have done things differently. There’s a lot of… differences, depending on where they are. See, we didn’t grow up entirely separate from humans, we just grew up around humans who knew to stay away from magic and who knew not to piss off magic users,” he joked. “But there are some who are very closed off, who don’t like the humans at all. I’d say they were some of those that passed through.” He turned his attention back to the book. He recognized some of the symbols on the front- they were the same runes and sigils that ran along his arms. He opened the book and flicked through the pages. He didn’t immediately understand a lot of it, but there was power in this book. It was old, old enough that he wasn’t sure how much of it he’d be able to work out without help, but he could feel the power just by holding it.

“Thank you, Kay. I’m afraid I… kind of forgot it was Christmas, otherwise I would have come with something for you too.” He admitted, closing the book and putting it to one side. “So tell me, what do you want to know? I don’t have a gift but I do have stories.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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TRAVIS GRAVESON
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #8B4513
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xxx Older than water, stubborn as stone
xxx There'll be no forgiveness for all that you've known
xxx Oh these days, oh these days get heavy
xxx Hotter than friction, subtle as sound
xxx There'll be no forgiveness for you to come around

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“I’m glad you like it! The second I saw it, I thought of you.” Travis said with a smile. He was filled with joy that Rosie appreciated the gift. Yeah jewelry was a little cliche, but he really felt it was something Rosie would like and wear, and when she put it on it did fit her look very well. He nodded as she excused herself to get them their breakfast and the gift she had gotten for him. Even though he had a slight inkling she would give him a gift, he was still surprised when she retrieved a box from next to her tree.

Travis was intrigued as Rosie kept the box close to her as she explained the reasoning behind her gift. He hadn’t listened to a mix tape, let alone one on a cassette in a long time. But he’s never had someone make him one before, and he genuinely felt thankful for it. “Rosie! Oh my god. This is great, and you didn’t need to get me a cassette player, I couldn’t bought one. But thank you. I can’t wait to listen to it.” Trav said as he set down the box with his gifts in it and embraced Rosie, pulling her in for a long kiss.

After a few moments of kissing Travis finally pulled back with a smile. “Thank you again Rosie, but this food is teasing my stomach and I’m hungry.” He said with a chuckle and turned towards the table and started eating. The two of them messed around a little bit and after goofing around maybe a little bit too much the two had to spend some time getting syrup off of Rosie’s couch.

A few hours passed before Rosie and Travis headed over to Alex’s place for the get gift exchange and get together, both of them having their separate Secret Santa gifts, making small chit chat along the way. Outside of Alex’s Travis spotted a familiar face, with an unfamiliar figure next to her. “Hey Kay! This a new friend of yours, or a gift for someone?” Trav laughed lightly at his own joke. This person he hadn’t seen before in town, so he was a little wary of them. Kaylessa quickly introduced the new person, Hayden, a full elf. “Well nice to meet you Hayden, little bit a warning, these folks are a little out there.” He was said as he shook the elf’s hand before Rosie lightly hit him on the arm. After introductions Travis knocked on the door of Alex’s place and waited to be greeted, looking back and smiling at Rosie.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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KAYLESSA VALVEN
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #FF4500
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xxx If I'm a bad person, you don't like me
xxx Well, I guess I'll make my own way
xxx It's a circle, a mean cycle
xxx Sometimes I wanna fuckin' scream or run away,
xxxI can't excite you anymore

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Kaylessa drifted her gazed after mentioning being discriminated against due to her being a half-elf, but slowly looked back to Hayden as he said it was understandable. He spoke about how those mindsets are becoming outdated, a small smile crept out as he said the blood matters the same, elf or human. She listened as Hayden spoke about how he wasn’t from around here and even so tribes could be different from one another as they are from different areas. That thought hadn't crossed her mind, she just thought all tribes were the same and followed the same set of rules, but it did make sense. Much like Travis told her how different towns had different rules as well, tribes of course would be the same as they were sort of like smaller towns. It was a little upsetting that there were still elves that had those ideals about blood purity being important. They had never met or even given Kaylessa a chance and were already judging her.

Kay watched Hayden flick through a few pages and his eyes move across the pages, she wanted to ask what it was about, but just gave him some silence and time to concentrate and take in whatever information the book was offering. She had asked numerous people throughout the town, even before the elves would come and go, and no one really understood it. She perked back up when Hayden said her name and apologized for not bringing her a gift. “Oh, its fine! Just talking to an actual elf is a gift in itself!” She said with a smile. “Though, am glad the elf is you, you’re really nice and such.”

The elf then asked what Kaylessa wanted to know, though he didn’t have any actual gifts, he did have actual stories. “Hmm…” Kaylessa took a moment to ponder what she wanted to know, she had many questions but wanted to make it count. “Well, could you tell me what it is like being in a tribe and what exactly you did? I heard they were sort of like our town here but more close and how each person has a specific role or job.” Kay leaned forward and sat cross legged on the couch, brushing her hair out of her face.


Kaylessa listened to Hayden talk, giving him her full attention as the two talked for awhile. She had lost track of time until she glanced at the clock and saw she would be needing to head to Alex’s place. “I’m sorry to interrupt, but I have to get going, we have a Secret Santa thing.” Kaylessa quickly got up and got the small bag with Markus’ gift in it. “Hey! You should totally come! I’d really like you to meet my friends, and be nice to spend more time with you.” Kay asked as she walked past Hayden getting her jacket back on and opening the door. Her mind has been on Alex still, but something about being with and talking to Hayden made her feel better. “Please?”

Hayden eventually caved and the two walked outside, but quickly stopped as he asked her if she needed a jacket or atleast shoes in the cold. Kaylessa giggled a little before answering. “Oh, no I’m okay. I don’t get cold as others do, and I enjoy the feeling of the earth beneath my feet. My mother said I was gifted. I can also heal others.” She said as she took his hand and led him towards their destination.

Outside of Alex’s place Kaylessa saw two friendly familiar people. “Travis! Rosie!” She said outloud as she gave Rosie a hug. She stepped back as Travis asked about Hayden. “Yeah! This is Hayden, he’s an elf, like an actual elf.” She said, grabbing Hayden’s arm. “Hay, this is Rosie and Travis. He’s a human, like the other half of me that isn’t you, and she’s a Siren.” She laughed at Travis' little joke before he knocked and waited for someone to answer the door.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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Z A D A min ALBAHR
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outfitx|x#78b0ad
xxxi called it the moonsea
xxxit is a cruel dream
xxxfrom up so high, I can hardly decide
xxxif you're waving hello, or waving goodbye

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It didn’t take Zada long to find and scoop the dead bird up from the ground. Its red feathers were a tragic, but beautiful, contrast to the snow. Then she put it in a large zippered freezer bag, and wrapped that nicely in a gift bag, complete with beautiful tissue paper and curled ribbon. That would do. Zada then finished getting ready, applying a deep red lipstick to her lips and putting on her coat. The last step before heading out was grabbing the baklava she’d made for the event. Phoenix had asked everyone to bring something and, honestly, you couldn’t have too many sweets at a Christmas party. She also just, really loved baklava.

She took the walk to Maria Garcia’s house at a leisurely pace: she’d left in plenty of time, and there was no way she would be late. She enjoyed seeing the town in winter, even if the beautiful cover of snow came at the price of a frozen lake.

When she arrived at the house, everyone was just standing in a group outside. Zada was a little confused, and shot Rosie a quick ‘what’s going on?’ look, but didn’t bother trying the door. If everyone was grouped outside like this, there must be a reason. She noted the newcomer in the group, but didn’t make a move to introduce herself. She did, however, greet Kay warmly. It wasn’t long before Neden arrived with a… Comically large bag slung over their shoulder, and it was they that ushered them all inside. The first thing Zada did when she stepped through the door was look for Alex, and when she found him, she said, “Was there a reason we had to wait out in the cold until everyone arrived?”

Alex just stared at her, as if he didn’t have a good answer to her question, and then stood up and attempted to take the baking dish from her, “Here, I can-” Zada didn’t let it go, but instead held tighter to her dish, “I’ve got it.” Alex started to direct her to the kitchen, which she ignored. She knew where it was, she was in Maria’s book club. She went and put her dish with the rest of whatever else was there. All presumably made by Phoenix. She couldn’t help but smile at it all, it really was incredibly kind, and made the town feel more like home, and her friends feel more like family.

She took off her coat and settled down in a chair just in time to listen to Neden’s little speech about presents, and the hats. Zada had no intention of wearing one, and even upon Neden’s insistence that she put it on, just stared blankly at them. She watched as everyone put their own hats on, some with more reluctance than others, and sighed. There was really no harm in wearing the hat, so she carefully perched it on her head, as if to try not to mess up her hair. Still, the whole thing was… Charming, and she couldn’t help the ghost of a smile that appeared on her face.

She’d never had a Christmas that involved this much gift giving (the years she even celebrated had been more private affairs), and the whole thing really was pleasant. Though she wasn’t entirely sure what to think of some of her gifts, she still gave Neden a small smile, “Thank you, these are lovely.” She decided to go ahead and put the necklace on, even as she thanked Neden for the gifts, partially because the color made her look a bit more festive, and partly to show that she did genuinely like at least one portion of her gift.

After Neden was done, Zada picked up the gift she’d brought, and held it out to Alex, but made no move to take it to him. After a short moment, and a confused look, he stood up and took the present from her. He moved slowly, as if he were expecting her to jump up and bite his head off at any moment. He took the gift back to his seat to open it, shooting Phoenix a wary glance as he sat down. “I drew your name. It made me think of you.” Zada didn’t know what reaction to expect from Alex opening the gift, but pure elation hadn’t been it. She had to admit, though, she was kind of glad he liked the bird.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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A L E X GARCIA
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outfitx|x#3a0a4d
xxxglass sky, killin' time
xxxyou leaned upon my shoulder
xxxand my thoughts dried
xxxdidn't mind

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When Phoenix said Alex could finally have his gift, a wide-and goofy-grin spread across Alex’s face. He loved getting presents, and this was no exception. He set his coffee precariously on the bed, grabbed the present, opened it up quickly, and turned the pocketwatch over in his hands a few times; looking it over. He nodded at Phoenix’s explanation-he had always liked shiny things. He opened it up to look at the face, before shutting it back and looking up at Phoenix, a smile on his face, “This is great.” He figured he could carry it at work: he often had to dress up a little more than he would like, and couldn’t wear all of his amulets and other paraphernalia as easily, and he often felt he needed all the protection he could, working with the dead. He leaned over and kissed Phoenix on the cheek, “I’m gonna break this thing, though, I want you to know that. There’s no way I won’t.” Then, almost as an afterthought, he added, “Thank you. I love it.” He picked up his cup and took a long drink of his coffee, “You can’t have your present yet, though. I don’t have it. I’ll give it to you at the party.”

He’d had to keep it at Abuela’s, because otherwise he would get excited and give it to Phoenix early, and then he’d have nothing to give on Christmas, and that would be a disaster. They spent a short amount of time talking and drinking their coffee before they had to get going. They wanted to make sure they were there before the others so they could get things set up. Alex also wanted to make sure he had the gifts he was bringing squared away: one for Jaiden (that she was going to love), and one for Travis, who he’d drawn for the secret santa exchange. He’d had a little bit of trouble with that one: he hadn’t known Travis for an excessively long time, and admittedly mostly talked about himself (and the town) when he saw the man. It was probably fine, though. He’d finally decided on giving Travis something he’d found in the woods, which was where he generally went for his gift ideas.

Soon enough they were headed to Abuela’s house, with more foods and baked goods than Alex thought necessary. “What was the point,” He said as they walked, “In asking everyone to bring something, if you were just going to make all of this, anyway?” He wasn’t upset, in fact he found it amusing. He knew that Phoenix just wanted everything to be nice for everyone, but he thought that Phoenix tended to do too much, and stress himself out.

In Abuela’s house, all the pictures of Phoenix were back up, plus new ones that Alex didn’t even know she had. If you didn’t know better, walking into the house, you might just think that Phoenix was her grandchild, and not Alex. Alex couldn’t help but chuckle, “You’re definitely her favorite…” The two spent a little time getting things set up and ready before Alex excused himself to go get Phoenix’s present from its hiding place; and evidently missed the first knock on the door. Everyone made their way inside just as Alex was sitting down to wait for them to arrive. Zada asked him why he’d made them all wait outside, and Alex didn’t know what to say to that. He was a little confused, and he was certainly scared of Zada, so instead he sort of just ignored the question off and tried to help her with the dish she’d brought, but she brushed him off and went to drop it off herself.

He stood still for a moment, face blank as if processing what had just happened. He’d never known how to take Zada, and this was no exception. Soon enough, though, he turned to the others with a charming smile, “I didn’t hear you knock, I didn’t leave you outside on purpose. The door wasn’t locked, though, you could’ve come in at any time.” He noticed the elf accompanying Kay pretty quickly and offered a warm smile, “I’m Alex. This is… Well...” He paused for a second, not entirely sure how to describe the house, “My grandparent’s house. Welcome.”

It wasn’t long before Neden was ushering them all into the living room passing out hats and talking about gifts. They’d gotten everyone something? Alex put on the hat happily enough; he had to admit that Neden had brought some real holiday cheer with them, even if it was a bit… Much. Neden announced that they could open their gifts, and Alex did. He wasn’t particularly thrilled with them, but he smiled and thanked Neden. It was a nice thought. But then, there was the last one. Now, a sword hadn’t been something Alex was expecting to get for Christmas. But when he opened it, his face lit up in a sort of childish wonder, and before he could even think about it he found himself saying, “Oh my god, this is incredible.”

Soon afterwards, Alex noticed Zada holding something out to him. He waited a second, and it became clear that he was going to have to get up and go to her. Fine. He didn’t particularly like being treated like some sort of animal or whatever she thought of him as, but he wasn’t about to argue with her, either. He was, frankly, terrified of her, and the careful way he approached, and how quickly he retreated back to Phoenix’s side made his fear pretty evident. She said the gift made her think of him, which made him even more wary, because he knew she didn’t think very highly of him. Still, he opened the bag slowly, looked inside, and grinned widely. He pulled the freezer bag up out of the wrappings and looked across the room at Zada, “Thank you! This is great… Really, I like it. I can use this.” There was nothing but sincerity in his tone; he was really, genuinely, thrilled. The look on her face dampened his enthusiasm a little. He wasn’t sure if he was meant to not like the gift, or if that was just what her face always looked like, but he decided not to dwell on it.

Alex turned to Travis, grabbing a small box and handing it to him, “I um, I want you to know that I’m about eighty percent sure this isn’t haunted.” The disclaimer came even before Travis had a chance to open up the pocket knife. Alex had only recently felt comfortable enough to go into the woods again, though never far, and nearly never alone, and he’d found it out there while he was digging around for things. He’d cleaned it up the best he could, and just hoped that Travis would like it, or at least not hate it.

Then he gave Jaiden a gift. He had been planning this particular present for some time, it took a lot of effort and time to get everything together to make it perfect. Inside was a fanny pack, since she’d liked his so much. He waited a moment for her reaction, then smiled and said, “The real present is inside.” Inside, however, was just filled to the brim with various different glitters.

He didn’t wait around for her to open it, in fact he started to walk away even as he told her to open up the fanny pack. He handed Phoenix the tell-tale red envelope of a Christmas card, wanting to make sure to give it to him quickly in case Jaiden murdered him. “Merry Christmas, Phoenix.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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PHOENIX WOODS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #c4a7be
xxxam i more than you bargained for yet?
xxxi'm just dying to tell you
xxxanything you want to hear
xxxbut that's just who i am this week
The smile on Alex's face made Phoenix sigh a little in relief. He knew it was a little old fashioned, but it was still useful, and still pretty. His grin just widened as Alex leaned in to kiss him on the cheek, before admitting that he was probably going to break it. Phoenix just laughed and rolled his eyes. "Oh, trust me, I know that," he teased back. He just picked up the pillow next to him and hit Alex with it as Alex said he had to wait. "You asshole, I should have made you wait too."

They finished their breakfast, finished up the last few things for the dinner, and then started packing up the stuff to bring to Abuela's. As per usual, Phoenix had perhaps over-catered a little, especially considering that he'd asked people to bring food anyway. But, when Alex remarked on it, Phoenix just rolled his eyes. "Because if everyone showed up with sides, we'd have no dessert. And if everyone showed up with desert, we'd have no sides. And if everyone showed up with board games, we'd be totally screwed," he said. He knew that Alex probably knew, he'd probably heard Phoenix muttering to himself trying to figure out who was likely to bring what, before just giving up and deciding to cater for the worst case scenario.

Abuela's was already feeling like home again, the photos back in their proper places. Phoenix hadn't realised how many of photos of him there was until Alex pointed it out, and then he couldn't stop seeing it. He didn't even know how she'd gotten some of those photos unless she'd been on to his parents for them (which, admittedly, was not outside the realms of possibility.) He just laughed in response to Alex's comment about him being the favourite. "It's because I can make her sopapillas and you nearly burned the kitchen down when I tried to show you how," he called as he shoved up his sleeves and got to work doing the last minute prep.

He only realised that the others had arrived when he heard Neden yelling something about wanting to give them all presents, and Zada brushing past Alex with her usual distaste, saying something about him not letting them in, and Alex retorting that the door wasn't closed. A distraction soon arrived in the form of Neden handing him a hat. He grinned and pulled it on as soon as they handed it to him, before spotting a newcomer, someone that he didn't recognise and that was sticking pretty close to Kay, looking a little overwhelmed by the whole situation. "I'm Phoenix, nice to meet you," he said. Alex had rolled his eyes when Phoenix had said he was going to presume that more people than were invited were going to show up, and he'd been right. But he didn't mind. It was nice to see the excitement in Kay's face as she introduced him to people.

He took the small pile of presents from Neden with excitement and attempted to balance the flower crown on top of his christmas hat. That would have been more than enough- and then Neden handed him and Alex "matching presents." He gasped with delight at the sword, looking over to Alex in excitement. "Holy shit, this is so cool!" He gushed.

He just shrugged a little in response to Alex's look as Zada handed over her present to him. She hadn't been asking Phoenix anything about ideas for Alex, so it was much of a surprise to him as it was to Alex. Upon seeing the dead bird, Phoenix shot a look of confusion at Zada. But, of course, Alex loved it, and Phoenix just grinned to himself and shook his head.

"Maybe- before you open that-" Phoenix said, spotting that Alex had handed Jaiden her present. Once the glitter got everywhere, there would be no dragging Jaiden back. "Here. I hope you like it, I... really didn't know what else to get you," He said, handing Jaiden a flat, heavy object. He'd been pestering Alex for ages, trying to get him to help him to come up with an idea, but Alex had initially suggested the fanny pack as her secret santa present, so he'd stopped asking after that. He knew that she'd been having a rough time of it over the past few months, and knew that they probably hadn't helped things by her finding out about them the way they did. So he'd put hours into the scrapbook instead- handwriting some of her favourite lyrics into it, writing out her favourite recipes so she could make them herself, pressing some of her favourite flowers, and finding every single photo they had together over the course of their friendship, the good, the bad, the ugly, and the blurry, and sticking them in to it. "I left some room at the back so you can add more to it if you want."

Alex left to go retrieve Phoenix's present at last- or maybe just to escape Jaiden's wrath. But he was back quicker than expected, handing Phoenix an envelope. Phoenix raised an eyebrow as he began to tear it open. "If this is an IOU I swear to god I'm break..." he trailed off as he looked at the two tickets in the card. Two tickets to an MCR concert. When they'd started announcing dates, Phoenix had said in passing that he'd been so pissed off when his parents didn't let him go when he was a teenager, but that they probably had a point. He would have been a liability, he would have given them all away. Alex hadn't really said anything, but Phoenix had just presumed it was because he'd heard enough of the complaining at the time.

"Holy fuck-" was all he could get out, just staring at them. This... this wasn't even a "local" venue, this was at least a few hours of a drive away. It was probably almost a day of a drive away, if not more. "Thank you so so much-" he managed to get out, wrapping Alex in the tightest hug he could muster.





ROSIE THOMPSON
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outfit : herex|xhex: #cc0460
xxxlittle things i should have said and done
xxxi never took the time
xxxbut you are always on my mind
xxxyou are always on my mind.
Rosie grinned at Trav's reaction. She'd wondered if it was a little bit cringeworthy, if he would even like something like that, so she was glad when his reaction was genuine. They spent the morning together as Rosie made her mom's stuffing to bring to Phoenix's, as she figured most other people would probably be bringing desserts. It was nice, just relaxing with somebody like this, doing their own thing as they kept each other company. She knew that the dinner was bound to be a little chaotic, but honestly, she was looking forward to it.

They left together, Rosie carrying her baking dish and her presents, having given the bag of drinks she'd also decided to bring to Travis to carry. They met Kay outside, and she awkwardly returned her hug as best she could while balancing the dish in her hands. There was a guy, about Kay's age, standing beside her, and Rosie was pretty sure she hadn't seen him around town before. He'd certainly never been in any of her classes. But Kay answered that question by introducing him. "I'm Rosie," she said, also shaking his hand. "We don't get many elves around these parts besides our Kay here, so it's lovely to meet you!" She said. Travis made a comment about them all being weird, and Rosie batted for his arm. She spotted Zada arriving, who shot her a quizzical look. Rosie shrugged a little, before Neden arrived and led them all into the house.

The scene that ensued was chaos. Neden had, of course, brought presents for everyone, but especially Rosie. She beamed with delight at her presents. "Neden, these are amazing, thank you so much!" She gushed, standing up to hug the angel. The rest of their presents made Rosie watch with interest. The swords were... an interesting choice, and she made a mental note to make a bet with Neden later to see how long they could go without injuring themselves with them.

Zada's present to Alex, and more accurately, their reactions to it made Rosie laugh. She stood up and passed a small bag to Zada. "Happy Christmas, babe. It's no dead bird, but..." she said with a teasing grin. She'd gotten Zada a bottle of their favourite red wine, a selection of slightly obscure but interesting-sounding novels, and a hair comb she'd found entirely by chance.






HAYDEN BYRNE
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outfit : herex|xhex: #005555
xxxoh should my people fall
xxxthen surely i'd do the same
xxxconfined in mountain halls
xxxwe got too close to the flame
They spent a while talking, Hayden explaining things to Kay, telling her that he was a healer too. He didn't know why, but he decided against telling her that he was a druid. Maybe it was because he presumed she wouldn't know what it was- or maybe it was because he was afraid she would. He didn't mind it, never had minded the respect his position had earned him, but he liked just being normal for a while.

He had intended on excusing himself when Kay said she was going to meet with her friends- but instead, she asked him to come along. So he went, curious to see more of the town and to see what the other people were like. Upon shaking hands with Kay's two friends- Rosie and Travis- Hayden got two very clear cut impressions. A good one of Rosie- warmth, energy, authenticity. But there was something... off about Travis. Hayden's polite smile slipped for just a moment as he tried to figure out what it was, but then he fixed it back on as if nothing was wrong. He laughed a little as Travis said the people were a little out there- but it didn't take long for Hayden to realise that he wasn't lying.

Inside the house was chaos to say the least. One person was handing out presents left right and centre, and even had some for Hayden. Nobody seemed terribly surprised or upset to see him there, which was nice, making him feel included almost right away. Hayden opened the presents to find a deep green crystal necklace, a book of poetry, and an denim jacket that looked like it would just fit him. Considering that they hadn't known he was coming, he was extremely happy with those presents, and was glad to be engulfed in the chaos of the party. There were, however, a few things he still didn't understand, like why the dark, vaguely threatening woman gave one of the guys- Alex, he had said his name was- a dead bird, and why Alex had seemed so happy about it. The blonde one- Phoenix, wasn't it?- had jumped up to hug Alex and appeared to be fighting back tears. After a few minutes like that, he gathered himself to excuse himself and go finish the cooking.

Hayden laughed a little and leaned in to Kay. "So do you want to tell me a little about all of these people?" He asked with a grin.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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KAYLESSA VALVEN
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #FF4500
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xxx If I'm a bad person, you don't like me
xxx Well, I guess I'll make my own way
xxx It's a circle, a mean cycle
xxx Sometimes I wanna fuckin' scream or run away,
xxxI can't excite you anymore

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Kaylessa was happy with the others being nice to Hayden and greeting him, and the group quickly entered the apartment, dispersing to do their own thing. She quickly sat crossed legged on the floor as Neden spoke, handing out a hat and presents to everyone, even Hayden. She quickly opened her gifts. She gave out an audible squeak as she saw the dress. “Thank you!” Kay watched as the others got their gifts and awed a little bit at what Hayden got.

Jaiden quickly called over to Kay and handed her another gift, explaining she was her Secret Santa. The gifts Jaiden had gotten here were a little bit more than what Neden got her. “I love this art! Did you do this yourself? It’s perfect!” Kaylessa quickly lunged and gave Jaiden a hug from her sitting position before pulling back and flashing a smile at Hayden, though then a commotion caught her attention. Alex and Phoenix. A weird feeling came across Kaylessa’s chest that she didn’t really understand and she thought back to how she told Phoenix her feelings about Alex and then seeing him kissing Alex.

Kay was then brought back out of her thoughts by Hayden leaning against her and asking about the others. “Oh! Sorry. That's Jaiden, she's a witch, controls fire. A little shy but nice to be around, she gave me these!” She showed the gifts Jaiden had just given her. “Neden, the person who gave us the gifts, shes I think an angel? But her wings were different, but still pretty.” Kay paused for a second as she glanced around the room. “That’s Violet. She’s like a sister to me. I think people have said she's a ghost, but she’s alive now. It’s confusing as well.” She then pointed at Rosie, Travis, and Zada. “You met Trav. Rosie is a Siren and the teacher at the school, she taught me in school. Zada is a mermaid, she eats men's hearts , but she's super nice so you shouldn’t have to worry. Though she doesn’t exactly like Alex.”

Kaylessa paused for a second after saying Alex’s name. “He… Me and him went to school together, and I thought we had feelings for each other… But I guess Phoenix likes him more…” Kay trailed off for a moment before catching herself. “Oh, sorry. They are both witches as well. Well Alex is more of a necromancer type, while Phoenix works mostly with earth-y things and plants-” Kay was cut off when the door opened and she saw Markus walk in. “And thats Markus! He’s a werewolf, and the person I got a present for. So be right back.”

After getting up and grabbing her sundress and the gift for Markus, Kay hugged Markus. “Hey! So I got you for the present exchange thingy.” She held out the small bag with the homemade dog pull toy for Markus’ pup. “Well, more so for Coco.” Kaylessa quickly excused herself and went to the bathroom with the sundress and changed. When she slid the dress on Kay twirled for a second to see how it looked on her in the bathroom mirror and smiled. Most of her stuff was multicolored and more laid back, but she loved the little stitches in the dress. She quickly came out of the bathroom and went back to Hayden, who had gotten up and started talking with the others. She grabbed his hand and smiled.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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A L E X GARCIA
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outfitx|x#3a0a4d
xxxglass sky, killin' time
xxxyou leaned upon my shoulder
xxxand my thoughts dried
xxxdidn't mind

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Alex smiled as he watched Phoenix open the card, though he was also keeping an eye on Jaiden-he knew that he probably deserved whatever pain she would inflict on him, once she got her present all opened. Phoenix’s reaction brought the biggest, brightest smile to Alex’s face. “I told you it was a good present.” Alex happily returned the hug, chuckling slightly as Phoenix thanked him. “Of course. It’s for you.” As Phoenix started to let go, Alex heard Jaiden yell that she was going to kill him. “Okay, I gotta go.” He turned and ran from Jaiden, but there was only so far he could go without heading outside, and he really didn’t want to do that.

So, after a short time, Alex stopped and turned to Jaiden, arms outstretched as if to hug her, “Jaiden, just listen-” She didn’t listen, though. Before long, Alex and Jaiden were both tumbling to the ground. Alex was laughing, Jaiden was not. “Jai! Jai! Stop it!” He brought his arms up to cover his face, as if he thought she was going to start punching him, “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! It was a joke!”

It wasn’t long before someone had physically restrained Jaiden, and they were both back on their feet. “I guess the glitter was taking it too far.” He shrugged, “I thought it would be funny. Lesson learned.” He looked down at himself, and realized that now he was covered in glitter. “Oh, wow. I’m sorry, Jaiden, I-” He cut himself off as he started laughing again, bringing a fist to his mouth to try and hide the smile, “I didn’t really think it through.” After brushing himself off the best he could, and then just accepting that he was just going to look extra fabulous for a while, Alex decided to rejoin the party. First order of business was collecting his dead bird and putting it in the freezer until they left. He was going to thank Zada again but she looked happy for once, and not at all like she wanted to murder someone, so he decided not to be the one to ruin that.

Instead, he returned from the kitchen with a small paper bag, heading straight for Markus, practically purring out a, “Hey, Daddy.” As he approached, leaning up against a nearby wall in an effort to look cool and composed, “I have something for Coco.” He handed over the bag, filled with Christmas cookie shaped dog treats, “She’s a good girl and I love her.” He leaned in a little closer, “And, listen, I know we’ve been dancing around-” He gestured between the two of them, “You know, for years. I want you to know that it’s fine, I really and truly am over it.”





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Z A D A min ALBAHR
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outfitx|x#78b0ad
xxxi called it the moonsea
xxxit is a cruel dream
xxxfrom up so high, I can hardly decide
xxxif you're waving hello, or waving goodbye

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At first, Zada didn’t outwardly react when Neden said they had something else for her, and to find them later, but she did flash a small smile to them before moving on and looking around the room. A lot of chaos had erupted as soon as Neden finished handing out their gifts, and Zada had never experienced anything quite like it in her time on dry land. She had to admit, though, that she loved it. Something about it all really made her feel like she belonged and, for the first time since she'd left the sea, she really felt like she might have something resembling a family, again. She didn't know that she really liked them all, but she didn't need to.

When Rosie handed her a gift bag, Zada initially just raised an eyebrow but when she opened it up, a genuine and warm smile lit up her face. “Thank you!” She stood up, wrapping her arms around Rosie in a gentle hug, “It’s perfect,” She gushed, “Of course, you’ll have to come by soon so we can drink this, and I'll tell you what I think of the books.” Naturally, she would expect her closest friend to know what to get her for Christmas, but she was honestly thrilled. She pretty quickly sat down and started looking over the covers of the books, admittedly judging them a bit. She always said that she liked to get to know a book before and as she read them, and that was a part of it.

She heard some commotion, saw the glitter in the air, and then Jaiden went running. She was after Alex, though, and Zada just genuinely didn’t care. Jaiden could kill him, for all she cared. As that was going on, Zada saw, out of the corner of her eye, someone new walking in. He quickly turned to check it out, but it turned out to just be Markus. She flashed him a smile: a mixture of relief and, just maybe, a bit of happiness on her face. They weren’t close, but she was comfortable enough with Markus, almost enough to call him a friend.

After Kay had changed into her new dress, Zada walked over to where she sat. She smiled over at Kay, "You looked wonderful before, but that new dress is lovely on you."

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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PHOENIX WOODS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #c4a7be
xxxam i more than you bargained for yet?
xxxi'm just dying to tell you
xxxanything you want to hear
xxxbut that's just who i am this week
Phoenix laughed as Alex pulled away from the hug to run away from Jaiden, who had just been covered in glitter by Alex's present. A distraction, however, came in the form of Markus, who awkwardly handed him two boxes, explaining that he'd pulled his name. Alex opened the smaller box first and laughed with delight at the mug. The jacket, however, was a surprise. He recognised it right away, he was pretty sure he'd complimented Markus on it when he'd been wearing it. "Markus, this is... this is wonderful, thank you so much!" He said.

As he went back into the kitchen, he spotted Alex trying and failing to brush the glitter off of himself and laughed again, shaking his head. He'd tried to talk Alex out of the glitter bomb and had failed, but was glad to see that it had at least backfired somewhat. Everyone seemed so... happy, so relaxed. After the past few weeks they'd had, they all needed it, and it made him happy to see it. He was about to go into the kitchen when he saw Alex, still covered in glitter, heading for Markus. Just Alex's expression made Phoenix smirk and lean against the doorframe, watching what was going to happen. He managed to keep a relatively straight face even as he was just able to overhear the conversation. He sauntered over to Alex, leaning an arm on his shoulder. "Sorry, babe, but... he gave me his jacket. We both know what that means," he said, before kissing Alex on the cheek, winking at Markus, before heading back out to the kitchen, smirking to himself the whole time.

It didn't take dinner long to come together. Someone had started handing around drinks and had kept Phoenix's rum and coke sufficiently topped up as he cooked, calling everyone to the table as he dished up. As Alex had accurately predicted, they had way too many desserts with plenty of leftovers for people to bring home, but he didn't even mind. It felt nice to do something like this, something where everyone was relaxed and happy. Well, Phoenix wasn't convinced that Jaiden had completely given up on killing Alex, but he was pretty sure she wasn't going to do it immediately. As they moved into the sitting room to play some boardgames, he found himself leaning his head on Alex’s shoulder, feeling happy and safe as if he could fall asleep there and then.





ROSIE THOMPSON
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outfit : herex|xhex: #cc0460
xxxlittle things i should have said and done
xxxi never took the time
xxxbut you are always on my mind
xxxyou are always on my mind.
Zada’s reaction to her present made Rosie grin, returning the hug. Zada was honestly like a sister to her and she’d been so relieved when she’d pulled her name. She sat back down and laughed as Jaiden chased Alex out of the room, a glitter bomb having been unleashed upon her. She smiled at Travis handed her the wine and she leaned into him a little as he put her arm around her, sipping the wine. It had been so long since she’d been in a room where everyone was so relaxed, where nobody seemed worried. Phoenix was popping in and out as he cooked, laughing at whatever was going on at the time. Even Markus seemed relaxed.

The dinner was amazing, as expected, with plenty of food to go around and plenty of leftovers too. They were under strict orders from Phoenix to take something home with them, and to take as much as they wanted. They ended up draped across various couches and chairs, playing board games and laughing. Phoenix seemed to be nearly falling asleep on Alex’s shoulder, and Rosie took that as a sign for them to leave. She sat up, stretching a little. “Okay, I think we’re going to leave. Thank you so much for everything,” she said.

“No problem. Don’t forget your leftovers,” Phoenix mumbled with a sleepy grin, and Rosie grinned. She retrieved a box of leftovers from the kitchen, before calling goodbye to everyone again, and waiting for Trav to catch up with her outside. “So… do you want to come back to mine?”






HAYDEN BYRNE
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outfit : herex|xhex: #005555
xxxoh should my people fall
xxxthen surely i'd do the same
xxxconfined in mountain halls
xxxwe got too close to the flame
Hayden watched as Kay pointed out each of the people in the room. She pointed out the people he’d encountered already- the witch who had given Kay her secret santa gift, Jaiden, the androgynous person who had given Hayden his gifts, Neden- and then started onto the others. There was a “ghost” which wasn’t really a ghost, the human, a siren… He raised his eyebrows at the description of the mermaid. The woman who Kay had indicated was the vaguely terrifying woman who had given one of the others the dead bird. Even if Kay said that she was nice, Hayden made a mental note to avoid crossing her as much as possible.

Hearing Kay talk about Alex made him a little sad, seeing the expression on her face. But she quickly gathered herself, explaining that he was a necromancer and that Phoenix was an earth witch. And then, to round out the group, was a werewolf, who Kay ran up to to give his present.

Someone started asking about drinks, and Hayden was handed a Coke. He started chatting to the others. When Kay came back, he smiled at her. “You look nice. Your dress is pretty,” he said, with a grin, blushing a little as she took his hand. Then Zada came over to talk to Kay, and Hayden straightened up a little. “You must be Zada, right? I’m Hayden, it’s nice to meet you,” he said, holding out a hand.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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TRAVIS GRAVESON
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #8B4513
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xxx Older than water, stubborn as stone
xxx There'll be no forgiveness for all that you've known
xxx Oh these days, oh these days get heavy
xxx Hotter than friction, subtle as sound
xxx There'll be no forgiveness for you to come around

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Travis sighed a little as he watched the glitter bomb happen in Jaiden’s hand and then again when she dropped it as she chased Alex yelling she was going to kill him. He thought about helping but quickly saw some of the others seperate them, and relaxed as Markus gave in and gave him a slight head nod as a greeting and turned back to talk and laugh with Rosie before food was finally done cooking and the group ate.

It wasn’t long until everyone was done, somehow Kaylessa was the one who ate the most, but sort of made sense as she probably had a high metabolism as well as her healing powers. Travis stopped for a second. Powers… Supernaturals… He zoned out, thinking back to why he was here. He originally came to this town to get rid of these people because he thought they were all monsters. But they weren’t. They were just like him, just like humans, and just normal people with normal lives who just happen to be a little different.

And now Travis felt like he actually belonged for once. Yeah he belonged to the group called the Branded, but it was more of work, and maybe some friends. But in Greythorne it was different, he felt comfortable, safe. The people around him weren’t looking to get ahead, but just get by. They were more than just monsters, or just people with powers, but like their own little dysfunctional family, and Travis didn’t want to ruin that. He already had the first two attacks on his conscience and he spelt many nights drinking himself to pass out after closing his shop, or just staying up all night so he wouldn’t have nightmares. But now...

Travis was taken out of his thoughts as Rosie moved a bit, and he helped her up. Not only did he feel comfortable, but he had someone amazing that cared for him, and helped drown out the demons in his head. Trav looked deep into Rosie’s eyes and saw the innocence in her and the happiness behind her smile. He couldn’t help the Branded anymore. These aren't monsters. They were his friends, his family.

Travis walked out of Alex’s place carrying some leftovers and his gifts, then hearing Rosie ask him if he wanted to come over. “God I don’t know, been with you all day, don’t know if I can handle anymore…” Trav said, laughing a little and smiling. “Of course.” He said, giving an actual answer as the two walked back to her place. Talking about the party, laughing at the events that happened. It wasn’t long before they were back at Rosie’s and quickly taking off their jackets and putting down all the things they had to carry.

“I really enjoyed myself tonight Rosie...” Trav said as he gently grabbed Rosie from behind and wrapped his arms around her. She quickly spun around and threw her arms around his neck. She replied with a smile and leaned up and the two kissed, he pulled her in more and held her tighter, before pulling back. But he just looked at her and smiled. Travis lowered his hands and lifted Rosie up and started kissing her again as he carried her through the hallway.






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KAYLESSA VALVEN
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #FF4500
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xxx If I'm a bad person, you don't like me
xxx Well, I guess I'll make my own way
xxx It's a circle, a mean cycle
xxx Sometimes I wanna fuckin' scream or run away,
xxxI can't excite you anymore

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Kaylessa blushed a bit and smiled keeping her head low as Hayden complimented her and the dress. “Th-thanks.” People complimented her often, but hearing it from her new friend, made her feel warm inside, she wasn’t sure why exactly though. As she was about to say something to Hayden, Zada came over and also commented on her dress. “Thank you Zada! Neden just gave it to me!” She replied, then hearing Hayden introduce himself and hold out a hand to Zada.

“Oh sorry! This is Hayden! He’s an elf, like my mother. He just got here and I wanted to bring him here so he wouldn’t be alone.” Kaylessa said as her hand reactively rested on his leg. “Don’t worry Zada, he’s a really good guy. Not like the other elves that wouldn’t stay long here.” The three of them sat together and talked for a bit before food was finally done and brought out, Kay thanking everyone for cooking and bringing food.

Kaylessa laid down on her back on the floor as she finished eating, stuffing herself full. The food was some of the best food she has had in awhile, so she wanted to enjoy as much of it as possible. But now she was exhausted and feeling really sleepy from the food and barely kept herself awake during some of the games, having her head in Hayden’s lap as they finished the last game of cards and people started getting their things and saying goodbye. Kay stretched and made a small squeak noise as she stood up and said bye to everyone again before walking outside with Hayden.

As Hayden and Kay walked back to her place, she huddled close to him, not because she was cold, but because it just felt right. When they reached the door Kaylessa opened it and looked back at him. “Do, do you want to stay the night here? I wouldn’t mind.” The two walked in after Hayden said yes and Kay started getting ready to go to sleep. She stopped and stared for a second at Hayden. “Do you want to sleep with me?” She blurted out, but quickly gasped and covered her mouth, getting red. “I mean, uh, I have a bunch of blankets on my bed, we could share them…”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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Z A D A min ALBAHR
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outfitx|x#78b0ad
xxxi called it the moonsea
xxxit is a cruel dream
xxxfrom up so high, I can hardly decide
xxxif you're waving hello, or waving goodbye

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Zada glanced over Hayden for a short moment before taking his hand, giving it-perhaps-a firmer-than-necessary shake. She had really come to care for Kay, and wasn’t keen to see him around her so soon after her heart had been broken. She didn’t smile as Kay introduced him, instead she nodded in understanding, “Well, Greythorne is normally a wonderful place to live. With any luck, Hayden will be able to enjoy his time here.” Zada enjoyed the rest of her evening; the conversation ranged from irritating to excellent, but considering the guest list, she expected no less. The food was good, and overall, she had a great time. Zada had never been good at board games, or card games, and found them mostly frustrating, but everyone else seemed (mostly) happy, and she just couldn’t help but enjoy herself, in spite of her constant losses.

It wasn’t long before everyone seemed to be getting ready to leave, some looking more tired than others. She gathered up her leftovers, and as she said her goodbye, made sure to thank Phoenix for inviting her along. It was nice to not be alone on a holiday, for once. Being alone truly didn’t bother her anymore, but something about being included in the festivities just felt… Nice. When she’d first come to Greythorne, Zada had thought of it as a place that she could live in peace, and nothing more. Nowhere had ever felt like home, not since she’d come ashore. Greythorne came close, but she didn’t think she would ever fully feel at home on dry land.

The walk home was a quick one, and for the first time in a while, Zada felt a small pang of something in her chest. Loneliness, maybe. Or homesickness. She still longed for the sea, even if her life in town was wonderful, her friends amazing. She wondered, briefly, if her sisters would like Christmas, and came to the conclusion that it didn’t matter. Her friends in Greythorne did, and they were her family, now.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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A L E X GARCIA
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outfitx|x#3a0a4d
xxxglass sky, killin' time
xxxyou leaned upon my shoulder
xxxand my thoughts dried
xxxdidn't mind

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When Markus planted a kiss on the top of his head, Alex couldn’t help but grin. In the back of his head he felt like he’d won some sort of a prize. It had only taken years of teasing Markus, and while they both knew that it was (mostly) not very serious, something in him was still very pleased by the gesture. When Phoenix commented that Markus had given him his jacket, Alex laughed. “Dammit, Phoenix. I thought I finally had a chance!” He was happy, though. He couldn’t think of a better gift from Markus. Well, he could, but there was no way Markus would entertain it.

It wasn’t too long before the food was done, and Alex tried to keep drinks full (but mostly focused on his own) in the time between. Mostly, Alex was just glad to have everyone together and happy. He saw smiles on faces that had been missing them for a while; even Zada seemed happy enough, and Alex wasn’t sure he’d seen her with anything but an angry or perfectly neutral expression before. It was nice to see everyone talking and laughing together, especially after all they’d been through recently. Sometimes all the different conversations and noise felt almost like it was too much, but Alex managed just fine.

After dinner, they broke out the board games, which was fun. Everyone was getting along well, and it was going great, until Violet accused Alex of cheating. This spiraled into a bit of an argument. It was, honestly, amusing, and probably inevitable. Alex never was able to convince Violet that he wasn’t cheating, but she did eventually drop it… After it was politely suggested that the group should just start a different game. Which was fine, but Alex still insisted that he hadn’t been cheating, and he was offended that Violet thought he was.

Eventually things started winding down. Phoenix had leaned up against Alex’s shoulder, and Alex couldn’t help but smile. He also didn’t dare move; if Phoenix was going to fall asleep using him as a pillow, then Alex accepted his fate and decided to enjoy his new life as a pillow. It was around then that people started packing up to go, saying their goodbyes, and eventually it was just the two of them left. Alex would’ve been lying if he said he wasn’t a little relieved. He was tired, and as much as he’d enjoyed everyone’s company, he was ready to wind down. He rested his head against Phoenix’s for a moment, savoring in the quiet. Which was, maybe, not the best idea at the moment. Because there, feeling safe and secure, heart full of love and happiness and no worries on his mind, he quickly drifted off to sleep.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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0R O S I E 0 T H O M P S O N 000000000000000000000000 T R A V I S 0 G R A V E S O N

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hexcode
#cc0460 0 | 0 #8B4513

outfit
rosie 0 | 0 travis



Christmas had been a welcome break from the fear and the tension of the previous attacks. But the peace and quiet had to end at some point, and it ended two days after Christmas, when Neden called her to tell her that Markus had died. It didn’t take long for the anxiety to start seeping back in. Rosie knew it was time to do something. Something that could make people feel a part of something, let them know that they were doing something. So she called another town meeting. Neden was going to update them on the patrols, let them know if or how they could help. Rosie was going to see if there was any more interest in her self-defense class, and see if anyone else had anything to contribute. And more than anything, she was going to try and give everyone hope.

After the holidays things seemed to get back to normal, though unfortunately normal meant people being paranoid and scared of the Branded and the town being vulnerable. Travis had slowly been spreading rumors of another attack to keep people on alert and not to get comfortable, though he did feel bad making people freak out. He was thankful that another meeting awas coming together, would give the town a chance to come together, as well as get some more information for him to report back to his superiors.

Travis set up in the same spot as last time, towards the back of the room and keeping an eye on things, the only thing he had on him this time was the knife gifted to him by Alex. He took a deep breath as people sat down and the meeting was about to get underway. Though a running figure through the crowd caught his attention, Kaylessa. She handed something to Rosie, and glanced at Travis, but didn’t keep eye contact before backing out of the light and people turned their attention back to Rosie.

Rosie didn’t quite know how to react when Kay ran up to her as she was about to start to speak and shoved a note into her hand, telling her she had to read it out to the crowd. Rosie didn’t have time to read it beforehand, and so opened it on stage, in front of the entire town. She didn’t know how she managed to keep herself composed, her stomach feeling as though it had plummeted through the floor. For just a moment, she was tempted to just read out the statement and let what happened happen. But she couldn’t bring herself to do it. She needed to get his side of the story first. And so she read out the statement, but instead changed the final line.


“Dear monsters of the so called town of Greythorne,

From our recent attack on your encampment and what we have observed, we have seen that you are somehow able to act somewhat like actual human citizens. So this is a letter from us to let you know we will be withdrawing our resources that were used to try to smother you from this world. We will be keeping an eye on all of you from a distance to monitor our new peace.

Also, to prove this to you here is some information. There is a spy amongst you, and has been for an extended amount of time. Providing us figures with your numbers, the details of the type monsters you are, points of interest, and other information so we could have the advantage.

We will reveal the spy in three days.

Sincerely,

-The Branded”


She shot a look at Kay. “Trust me, I’ll explain later,” the look said. She took a deep breath as panicked and angry discussion broke out. “Listen to me.” She said with enough power to make everyone listen. “We cannot let this divide us. For all we know, this could all be another ploy. We need to trust each other. We have to work together, no matter what. Neden will now discuss the patrols, as well as how this changes in light of what we’ve just discovered.”

She didn’t particularly listen for the rest of the meeting, instead staring at the floor and trying to keep herself calm. The minute things wrapped up, she got to her feet and walked up to Trav. “My place. Now,” she ordered, heading straight outside to avoid anyone talking to her.

The letter. Travis leaned off the wall as it was read. He knew nothing about it, where it came from, why it was sent. Especially with the part with them almost blowing his cover. What is their plan here, why would they act like they are giving up? Possibly to make them lower their guard. Trav thought to himself as he watched Rosie take control of the situation. He thought about sneaking out, but knew that would quickly put suspicion on him, more than there already was. People would panic and probably quickly pointing fingers.

As the meeting came to the end Rosie caught Travis’ attention as she approached him, just about demanding him to follow her. He took a look around and followed her out. The two didn’t talk during the walk, Rosie keeping a slightly faster pace than Travis towards her place. After the two arrived, she closed the door behind him, a look on her face he hadn’t seen before. Travis quickly spoke up to try to ease the tension. “I don’t believe this letter, it’s a fake out for us to lower our guards. But if this spy talk is real, we sho-” Travis was cut off when Rosie held out the letter to him.

Rosie could hardly even look at Travis as they walked back to hers, her heart in her mouth. She was furious- both at him and at herself. Because she had never even considered it, not really. She’d let herself be drawn in, just let herself believe he was different, after everything. She let them both in, slamming the door behind them. She was almost hurt when Travis began trying to cover it. She couldn’t even say anything, just shoved the letter into his hands.

“Don’t you dare try and bullshit me, Travis,” she said quietly. “I could have turned the town on you, so the least you owe me is the goddamn truth. Is this for real?” She asked, her voice low and even and too calm.

Travis was surprised how Rosie spoke to him, asking for the truth and if it was real. He opened the letter and saw it was exactly what Rosie had said during the meeting, except for one thing, something that Rosie hadn’t said, but changed.

The spy, Travis Richard Graveson.

He was petrified. They had ratted him out. Just about threw him to the wolves, and it was only Rosie that had prevented it. Trav stuttered for a second before letting the letter fall to the ground as he looked up at Rosie with soft eyes. “Rosie… I…” Travis took a deep breath. “Yes…” He sighed as he confessed the letter spoke truth about him being a spy and working for the Branded. “But Rosie, you have to listen to me. I didn’t mean for any of our friends to get hurt. I didn’t know how amazing any of you were, are.”

Rosie knew it long before he said yes, but that didn’t stop that one word from feeling like a punch to the chest. She raised an eyebrow as he said he’d never meant for any of their friends to be hurt. Our friends, Travis? Are you actually being serious right now? Is that the only part of it you regret? Every single person that died in those attacks was somebody’s friend. They were all people, and you had a part in their death. Don’t you dare say you regret our friends being hurt.” She shook her head, turning away slightly. “So… what was this? Just… a way of working your way even deeper into the town? They don’t trust you, but they trust me, so if they know I trust you, maybe they’ll trust you too?” She asked.

Travis just listened to the retort coming from her, everything she was saying was true. He was responsible for the death of many people in Greythorne. He regretted all of it. The morning after the attacks, seeing not just the bloodshed, but the internal pain and mourning that people wore. Trav barely kept himself together after seeing the misery he had caused. “Rosie, listen. You’re right, I am responsible for all that, and it’s eaten away at me. I regret all of it, I wish I could take it all back, never come to Greythorne and not bring the death that had followed me here…” He trailed off as Rosie turned away from him.

Hearing her question what they were hurt more than anything, after everything that had happened, being with her actually brought joy to Trav’s life, bringing light to the darkness that had been clouding him. “What? No, this. Us. It’s real. I promise. Just listen to me.” Travis said as she reached and gently grabbed onto Rosie’s shoulder.

Rosie felt his hand on her shoulder and for the first time, she snapped. She slapped his hand away and whirled around to face him. “No, Travis. Nothing you can say is going to change my mind. You came here with the sole purpose of hurting people, and you succeeded. Markus is dead because of you!” She yelled, her voice cracking. She took a step back and reached up, undoing her necklace and pressing it into his hand. “Get out of here. You have two days before I tell everyone what you did,” she said. “And if you’re still here then… it’s your own problem.”


Travis took a step back as his hand was slapped away and was quickly met with Rosie yelling at him, he had never seen her like this before. He barely had time to respond to what she had yelled about, bringing up Markus, saying he was dead because of him. Rosie had come to Trav when she found out, and telling him. He was speechless and his heart sank along with a pain in his chest. He wasn’t exactly close to Markus, but they got along well enough, and he was dead because of him. The next thing that came out of her mouth was telling him to leave, that he had two days before she would tell everyone. Travis wanted to stay, say whatever he needed to convince Rosie, but he knew by the tone of her voice that there was no way. He closed his hand around the necklace forced into his hand. “If this is truly what you want…” He said in a low voice, pain building up in his chest.

After stuffing the necklace into his internal jacket pocket, Trav turned around and went to leave Rosie’s place, but stopped and turned back as he opened the door. “Rosie, I lo-” He paused, realizing there was no point in saying the next two words. “Thank you…” Travis said as he walked out and closed the door behind him, keeping his head low as he went back to his place. He had two days to leave, he didn’t want to, but he knew he had no other choice. Travis had realized he had lost the greatest thing that had been gifted to him, not just friends, not just someone that cared for him, but just happiness in general. I’m sorry for everything Rosie, but I’m not sorry for loving you…

Rosie couldn’t even look at him right then. She only stayed in the hall to make sure he actually left. Then when he left, she just sank down against the wall, the tears starting to stream down her face. After everything, she’d really let herself think there would be one good thing in it all. She’d been wrong. She gave herself a few seconds before standing up, brushing herself down. She went to the bathroom to fix her makeup, before taking a deep breath and heading back into town. She had to keep it together. She had to lead by example, and that meant going back out to see if anyone needed her help.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Markus Valegood Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne Character Portrait: Zoe Peña
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KAYLESSA VALVEN
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #FF4500
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xxx If I'm a bad person, you don't like me
xxx Well, I guess I'll make my own way
xxx It's a circle, a mean cycle
xxx Sometimes I wanna fuckin' scream or run away,
xxxI can't excite you anymore

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The couple days after Christmas was great ad people seemed to get more relaxed and joyful, but it didn't last long. Rosie had come to Kaylessa’s house in the early afternoon, in the middle of her and Hayden messing around, Kaylessa was talking about how she could turn the entire living room into a blanket fort with all the blankets she had stored away and Hayden seemed a little skeptical. When she answered the door she could tell something was wrong by the facial expression and how Rosie stood, she was someone who was mostly bright, but right now she just seemed dark and sad. The news that she delivered Kay never expected to hear/. Markus was dead.

Rosie had told Kay and Hayden about another town hall meeting being scheduled for the coming week, but Kaylessa didn’t want to go. The days after hearing the news about Markus hit her hard and not going out as much. She let Hayden stay with her since he arrived in Greythorne, telling him that her door was always open, but they didn’t do much besides Hayden trying to cheer her up. Kay was thankful to have hime there for her, no one else really was, but she didn’t blame them. Most people were taking the news of Markus’ death badly as well. The only person she really talked to besides Hayden was Zada for a little bit, but it was more so Kay venting about Alex and Phoenix and Zada giving her some advice.

The town hall meeting finally arrived and Hayden had asked Kaylessa if she was sure she didn’t want to go, talking about how she should go out and get some air and sunlight. He was right, but Kaylessa didn’t want to go to the meeting so she just told him she was going to go for a walk near the woods, reconnect with nature and herself. Kay told him to make himself at home while she was gone or to get food, that he didn't need to wait for her.

While Kaylessa was walking she was dragging her feet through the snow as she tried to collect her thoughts, not sure how to handle all this going on. She was surprised when she heard a hiss like sound and quickly figuring out it was someone in the bushes trying to get her attention. The woman silently called her over and handed her a note in an envelope saying to give it to whoever was incharge of their town. Kay looked down at the envelope and when she looked up the woman was gone. Kaylessa was curious about the note and quickly opened it and read it over, it contained something just as shocking as learning Markus’ death, but much more complicated

Kay ran through town, trying to get to the town hall meeting, wanting to talk to someone about this, if it was true or just a scare tactic. By the time she opened the door, she spotted Rosie on stage, and realised she needs to know about this and dodged through the crown and handed her the opened envelope saying it was important

When Rosie read the letter Kay was confused why she didn’t tell the truth, but was quickly met with a familiar face she saw often in school telling her to be quiet and would talk to her later about it. Kay listened as Neden spoke about updates to the patrols and other things to similar to the safety of the town. As the meeting ended though she lost sight of Rosie and Kay just sighed and walked out and through the town heading back home, hoping a little bit Hayden had waited for her.

During her Kaylessa greeted people that said hello to her with a flash of a smile, not really saying much. As she rounded a corner she saw two people walking a familiar dog but with an unfamiliar third person. Alex and Phoenix. As Kay stared at them from a distance, seeing them hold hands, she thought back to the things Zada had talked to her about and how she felt, and what Alex and Phoenix did to make her feel that way.

“Hey!” Kaylessa shouted as she walked towards the group, no smile on her face, but just a serious tone. She finally stopped in front of them. “We need to talk.” She spouted at Phoenix.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne Character Portrait: Zoe Peña
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0000P H O E N I X 0 W O O D S 000000000000000000|00000000000000000 K A Y L E S S A 0 V A L V E N
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hexcode
#c4a7be 0 | 0 #FF4500

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phoenix 0 | 0 kay







Phoenix flinched a little as someone yelled at them, his grip on Alex’s hand tightening for a fraction of a second. Then he looked and realised that it was just Kay. But her usual smile was gone, and she seemed… almost angry. Phoenix had never seen Kay properly angry before. And it… seemed to be directed at him. He glanced at Alex, before remembering Zoe was there. He forced a smile and handed Coco’s lead to Alex. “I’ll be right back, okay? You two play nice,” he said. He walked a short way away before turning to look at Kay. “Is… everything okay?”

Kay heard Alex say hello but ignored him as she just waited for Phoenix, and then followed him until he stopped and turned back to her, asking if everything was okay. “No.” She said short, pausing for a second. “Why did you kiss Alex? And now why are you two, you know, a thing!?” Her voice raised a little, as she scowled.

He knew the minute she spoke that he was right about her being annoyed with him. His stomach plummeted as she asked why he’d kissed Alex. “Kay I- I’m sorry, okay? I just… that night in the graveyard, I wasn’t thinking straight, I didn’t mean to rub it in your face, okay, but we were- I was scared.” He’d tried not to think about it since, because the guilt was too much. But now he had to come to terms with it.

Kaylessa eyes squinted as Phoenix gave excuses, about how he didn’t mean to rub it in her face. “I told you, I told you everything and how I felt!” Kay shouted and gave him a light push. “Why did you just let me tell you everything? Make me look dumb and stupid, I felt pathetic.” Kaylessa paused for a second.

Phoenix didn’t fight back, let Kay push him. He probably deserved it. Why hadn’t he stopped her from telling him all that? He hadn’t needed to know, he hadn’t wanted to know but he’d just let her because he couldn’t say no. He should have said something, but he didn’t. And now he’d probably just ruined their friendship forever.

“Kay, I never meant to hurt you, okay? When you were telling me this, I didn’t think there was a chance in hell that he felt the same way. And I tried to tell you that Aex was like that with everybody,” he said, dropping his voice so that only Kay would be able to hear him. “I don’t know what you want me to do, or say, but I’m sorry.”

Kaylessa scoffed when he said he didn’t want to hurt her. “You didn’t hurt me, what hurt was when I fell out of the tree and couldn't swim. You weren’t there for me then just like you weren’t there for me when I confessed how I felt.” She stared at Phoenix, as her mind went back to the attack, and how Travis saved her from drowning, the same guy being accused of being a spy. “You know what I want? I want you to not be with him, I want you to feel what I felt when I saw you kiss, when I saw you holding each other at the christmas party.”

Phoenix just stared at Kay at her response. This… this wasn’t her. Part of him wanted to reach out to her, wanted to find out what was wrong. But he was also so hurt by what she was saying. The newcomer from the Christmas party, Hayden, appeared, almost from nowhere to take her arm, obviously trying to calm her down. But Phoenix was too angry, too hurt to even acknowledge him. “Kay. I died that night. I’m sorry you got hurt, but I couldn’t be there, because I had just bled out in a graveyard. I told you that Alex was that way with everyone, and you didn’t listen. I’m not saying I didn’t make any mistakes, but this is not all my fault. You have your role in it.”

“Kay, come on. We should go,” Hayden said, pulling on Kay’s arm, trying to get her to leave with him.

As Phoenix talked, Kay noticed Hayden was there but just focused on the man in front of her. “Yeah, you died, but the second you were alive you kissed him. And you know it wasn’t just because you weren’t thinking. If I had healed you, would you have kissed me?” Kay kept speaking as Hayden held onto her arm. “First you destroyed the flower crown I gave him, and then pretended to care about it and fixed it. You pretended to listen to how I felt, pretended to be my friend... “

Some tears started to form under Kay’s eyes as she spoke. Hayden turned her towards him and into a hug, trying to calm her down. “Just take me home, please.” She said to Hayden, muffled into his shoulder.

Phoenix just froze, his anger dissipating. Even through all this, he’d still thought of Kay as a friend. And he’d ruined that. Just like he’d ruined everything else. As Hayden pulled her into a hug, Phoenix took a step back, and glanced at Alex and Zoe. With a chill down his back, he realised that Neden was also there now, and that they’d all seen- and probably heard the whole thing. They were going to hate him too. Everyone was going to hate him for hurting Kay. And could he blame them?

“I’m sorry-” He stammered out, before turning and heading back towards the apartment, needing to be anywhere but there right then.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne Character Portrait: Zoe Peña
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A L E X GARCIA
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outfitx|x#3a0a4d
xxxi ain't happy, i'm feeling glad
xxxi got sunshine in a bag
xxxi'm useless but not for long
xxxthe future is coming on

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xxx
Alex let Zoe and Phoenix do most of the talking as they walked through town. He was tired. The nightmares and visions had started again the night Markus died. If he’d been less upset about them, he might have found some poetic beauty in it. Instead, he was just annoyed. He heard someone shouting, felt Phoenix’s grip on his hand tighten, and shot his head to the source of the yelling. It was just Kay. He was halfway through the process of relief when he realized that something was wrong. “Hi, Kay,” There was clearly more he wanted to say, but between Kay ignoring him, and Phoenix handing Coco off to him, the words never left his tongue.

As Kay and Phoenix began to argue, Alex looked over to Zoe. This probably wasn’t the welcome into town that she’d envisioned. When she quietly asked what was going on, all Alex could do was shrug, “I honestly have no idea.” A part of Alex wanted to take Zoe and pull her away from it; this wasn’t any of her business, and it honestly felt like it wasn’t any of his, but something about what he was hearing was connecting dots in his mind Honestly, Neden just about running him over was a welcome distraction.

Neden rambled on for a short while, only really stopping long enough to get Zoe’s name. Alex smiled when they picked Coco up, some familiarity would do the little dog good. She’d been, understandably, upset since Markus died (well, since he left her with Alex and Phoenix, to be exact). She was adjusting, but Alex knew that her whole world had been turned upside down. She missed Markus, and there wasn’t anything Alex could do about that. “We were just showing Zoe around town when we… Ran into Kay.”

Normally he would’ve said more, but Phoenix and Kay were getting pretty intense, and Alex desperately wanted to say something, to try to break it up, but he didn’t even know what was going on. He would probably make things worse, and he didn’t want to leave Zoe there with Neden to watch everything go down. He wasn’t the fondest of her, but she honestly looked like she was witnessing something traumatic. Maybe she was. Thankfully, the argument seemed to end shortly after Hayden stepped in, but then Phoenix just turned and left. Shit. Alex looked to Neden, then Zoe, “Phoenix!” He called out, to no avail.

It became pretty apparent that Neden was going to go after Phoenix, so Alex took Coco back and looked at Zoe, “So, I know we asked you to join us for dinner, but that isn’t happening.” The thought that Alex owed her nothing, and didn’t have to do anything to help her crossed his mind, but that would only serve to upset Phoenix, and Phoenix didn’t need any more reasons to be upset. As badly as he wanted to go after Phoenix and try to make everything better, Alex knew he had some other business to attend to. “Here,” He handed Coco off to Zoe, who was still standing there like she had no idea what was going on. He sent a quick text to Jaiden, explaining that they needed to take a rain check on dinner, if she was still planning on coming, and he started once again down the sidewalk, not bothering to check if Zoe was following behind.

They didn’t talk as they walked, they didn’t talk when Alex bought Zoe something to eat, and they didn’t talk when Alex found her a room to get checked into. Alex almost left for home without saying a word, but he finally spoke up just before he left, “I don’t know how the next few days are going to go. Phoenix is… Upset. Obviously.” Alex paused, trying to decide how much information to share, “He’s not really used to people sticking around when things get rough, and even I don’t have the best track record of being there for him. So,” He sighed, “I’m trying to do better. I definitely don’t deserve him, but I’m trying to.” He shrugged, “I guess… Listen, I’ll talk to you, I guess you deserve that much after the shit show you went through today. But I have to put Phoenix first. I don't know how much he's going to need-or want-me around, but...” He shook his head. He had some thoughts to add, but Zoe didn't need to know, "Anyway, I'll come to you." With that, he left Zoe for the night, and went to carry Coco home.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne Character Portrait: Zoe Peña
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Z O E PEÑA
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outfitx|x#6E9ECF
xxxsomething is familiar
xxxlike a dream I can reach but not quite hold
xxxi can sense you there
xxxlike a friend I've always known

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xx
The whole thing may have been foolish, but now that she was here, Zoe was really starting to enjoy herself. She wasn’t sure she had expected to find Alex in some sort of relationship, but Phoenix seemed to be genuinely wonderful, and definitely had a cooler head on his shoulders. Then a woman’s voice yelled out at them. She heard Alex try to greet her, and Phoenix walked a short way away. Not far enough. She half expected Alex to talk to her, walk away farther with her, try to distract her, something. Zoe didn’t know Alex well, but judging by his face, the things they were hearing was news to him, too. Still, she leaned in and whispered, “Ale-Alex. What’s this about?” Only to hear that he didn’t know, either.

She had halfway been hoping that asking about it would remind him that she was there, and that he’d do something. She felt like she was listening to something very personal that she had no right to know, and it was more than a little uncomfortable. She was having some first day in town.

Eventually, someone else appeared-having almost run right into Alex, clearly not paying attention to where they were going. They just started talking, and introduced themself. “Oh, I’m Zoe,” She replied, when asked for her name. She thought about clarifying who she was even farther, but between the argument happening behind them, and Neden welcoming her to town and then picking up her brother’s dog, she had no idea what to do.

“I died that night.” Zoe wasn’t really listening to the argument at that point; she’d been trying to tune it out, but something about that comment hit her ears, and a look of horror crossed her face. She didn’t know a lot about Alex, but she did know that he was a necromancer. Their father had told her as much when she asked why he lived in Canada, so far away from the rest of him. She’d always been under the impression that necromancy was a dangerous and shameful thing, and now she had some strange ideas running through her mind, and she couldn’t help but wonder what Alex had done. She tried not to be too obvious about it when Alex turned to look at her, but she felt like her thoughts were painted across her forehead.

After that, it wasn’t long before things ended and Alex was handing Coco to her. Zoe didn’t mind holding the dog- she was soft and cute and very clearly getting tired of walking. At first, she’d just assumed he was planning on going after Phoenix, but he started sending text messages, and then turned and started walking the opposite direction Phoenix had gone. Honestly, Zoe was planning on standing there until she’d figured out what to do, but then she realized that she had his dog. “Hey, wait!” She hurried to walk beside him, and one look at his face told her not to try to talk to him, so she didn’t.

Zoe quickly learned that the good thing about living in a town populated with a variety of magical beings was that there was always something open. Alex went to buy her something to eat, and when Zoe started to stop him, trying to explain that he didn’t have to do that, he just shot her a look that pretty effectively communicated his desire that she just shut up. So she wound up letting him buy her some dinner, and, since she had Coco, he even carried the takeout bag for her. He was using his phone quite a bit as he walked her through the town, and when they came upon a bed and breakfast with plenty of open rooms, she realized why. She didn’t remind him that all of her things were back at his place. The plan had been to find her a place to stay and bring her back there after dinner, but they’d had to adjust the plan. At this point, she figured she would swing by in the morning to pick it all up on her way out of town. This had gone so badly that she was willing to admit it was a terrible idea to have come in the first place.

Then Alex finally spoke to her, and though she didn’t really know Phoenix and Alex, the words just about broke her heart. They’d lived very different lives than she had, and she was only just realizing it. She wanted to thank Alex for being willing to give her a chance. She wanted to tell him that she didn’t think he was all that bad, and she was sure Phoenix didn’t think he was too good for him. But she didn’t. Instead, she just said, “Okay.” And watched him walk away.

Then she closed her door, sat down, and ate her dinner. She had a lot to reflect on, and a lot to think about.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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ROSIE THOMPSON
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outfit : herex|xhex: #cc0460
xxxdon't make me laugh, i'll choke
xxxjust let me cry a little bit longer
xxxi ain't gonna smile if i don't want to
xxxhey man we all can't be like you
Rosie had fully intended on heading in to town to see what was needed, to see if she was needed there, but instead, she thought of someone who she was pretty sure would be needing someone about then. Jaiden and Markus had been close, especially over the last few months, and Rosie knew that Jaiden had to be taking it hard. They all were. Markus had been a stable part of the town, someone that you could always rely on, that was always just there. And now he wasn't. Things were changing too quickly, and it was a painful reminder that they might never be safe again.

It had been a while since Rosie had been down to Jaiden's house. She’d only been there a handful of times, and it was when Jaiden was in high school or shortly after she’d graduated. Rosie hadn’t really needed to go since then. The house was deep in the woods, deeper than most people went unless they had a reason to. But it was peaceful, and Rosie knew they weren't likely to be interrupted. Even though she'd initially intended on going into the town, she'd realised that she didn't particularly want to face the crowds, didn't want people expecting her to be a leader right now. She needed to be doing something, but she also didn't want or need to be pretending that everything was fine. Because it wasn't.

She knocked on the door, before realising it was open and stepping inside. "Jaiden, it's Rosie," she called gently, shutting the door behind her.






HAYDEN BYRNE
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outfit : herex|xhex: #005555
xxxfly like a cannonball
xxxstraight to my soul
xxxtear me to pieces
xxxand make me feel whole
He'd really enjoyed spending time with Kay and her friends. But the following day, news came that one of the guys that had been there had died after apparently hiding an injury ever since the last attack. And things changed then. Most of the time was spent just trying to keep Kay company and trying to distract her. He got the impression that it wasn't really working, but at least he was trying, and that was something. It was a start.

He'd heard something about a meeting or something, and thought that maybe it would have been good for Kay to go to it. Get out, meet some of her friends, get some fresh air. But instead she said she wanted to go for a walk by herself. Hayden let her, and decided to cook them both dinner while she was gone. But when he started looking for ingredients to make something, he realised that her cupboards and fridge were pretty empty. So he went out to get some groceries and picked up some take out while he was out instead of cooking.

But while he was out, he spotted Kay talking to some of the others. And even from a distance, he could tell it wasn't a happy conversation. He hadn't seen Kay angry before, but he knew that was exactly what was happening. He went and grabbed Kay's arm, trying to pull her away and calm her down. But she stayed talking, stayed practically yelling at Phoenix, bringing up things that had happened for them in the past. And then, eventually, she calmed down, going and letting him pull her into a hug.

He took her hand and pulled her away, shooting the others an apologetic look. Kay had been so upset over the past few days, he knew that she probably hadn't meant any of it, but that didn't mean they weren't going to be hurt. But they'd deal with that later. He walked her home, holding her hand tightly. He didn't say anything until he got her in, sitting on the couch with the takeout in front of them, and a blanket around her shoulders. "Do you want to talk about what happened?" He asked softly, sitting cross-legged beside her.

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Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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KAYLESSA VALVEN
Image
Image
Image
outfit xxxxxxx hex; #FF4500
Image
xxx If I'm a bad person, you don't like me
xxx Well, I guess I'll make my own way
xxx It's a circle, a mean cycle
xxx Sometimes I wanna fuckin' scream or run away,
xxxI can't excite you anymore

Image

Kaylessa was oddly quiet while walking back home with Hayden, keeping her head against him and head low, eyes lightly tearing up. She felt like everyone was watching her, judging her. The dumb girl who thought a boy liked her and embarrassed her self. She wanted to believe how she felt about Alex was true, but of course she wouldn’t understand something. People told her ignorance was bliss to make her feel better about herself, but in the end it wasn’t.

Hayden opened the door to her house and guided her to the couch and laid a blanket over her shoulder. “Thanks…” Kay said, sniffing a bit and wiping her eyes as her tears finally dried up. She watched as she set up the food he had bought on the table in front of her and asked if she wanted to talk about what happened. She didn’t want to, she just wanted to eat the food and go to sleep, but she knew it would be good for her to talk about it, and to let Hayden know what’s going on since he only just arrived and didn't know.

“It’s stupid. I’m stupid.” Kaylessa said as she looked at Hayden. “Me and Alex… Went to school together and such, same with Phoenix. And like, he was always nice to me and gave me compliments. Plus he would always ask about me and such, so I thought…” She Trailer off just looking down at the ground, knees to her chest and arms around her chest. “I thought maybe he liked me, and it even continued after school to recently. And I told Phoenix, how I felt. And during the attack…” Kay thought to the night, running to Phoenix and trying to heal him but nothing working.

“Phoenix was injured. And I have healing powers and tried to help him as I helped others. But it didn’t work. And Alex, who like practices necromancy, saved him. Then Phoenix kissed him in front of me. I felt betrayed, I felt lied to. I told him everything and he does that! Why would he!?” Kay shouted, before breathing a bit and apologising for yelling. Hayden spoke again, wiping away some tears from below her eyes. Kaylessa didn’t even know she had started tearing up again. He was close to his face and was gently rubbing his thumb across her face. Something about having him there and just listening made her feel a little better. Kay just stared at him as he talked to her, looking deep into his eyes and feeling like someone actually cared about her for once, wanting the best for her.

Kay just leaned across and gave Hayden a hug, gripping onto him right for a little longer than a few seconds. She wasn't quite sure what it was about him, but having him hold her made her feel warm. Even when she was with Alex she never felt like this, his compliments did me a lot to her and would brighten her day than most peoples, but having Hayden there and hearing his voice consoling her release a different type of energy within her, but after what all happened with Alex, she wasn't sure if she could trust her own feelings to lead her the right way. “I just feel so dumb Hayden. I can’t tell when someone is being nice to me because they genuinely want to be nice to me, or because they are just being nice because of who I am or that’s the type of person they are. People always call me innocent and too good for the world but I want more than just being innocent and cute. I want something more than that.” Kay began talking again, not pulling back from hugging Hayden until she was done speaking.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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ROSIE THOMPSON
Image
Image
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outfit : herex|xhex: #cc0460
xxxdon't make me laugh, i'll choke
xxxjust let me cry a little bit longer
xxxi ain't gonna smile if i don't want to
xxxhey man we all can't be like you
Rosie forced a smile as Jaiden said she wasn’t expecting anyone. “Sorry, just said I’d drop in and see how you were doing. I just swung by here on a whim,” she explained. In all honesty, she’d hardly noticed the mess, but she just shrugged. “Don’t worry about it, my house isn’t much better,” she said. She knew that Jaiden had to be struggling just as much as she was, and she knew their smiles were both fake, but neither of them wanted to acknowledge it. Rosie sat down on the couch and nodded as Jaiden asked if she wanted tea. She just smiled sadly as Jaiden asked how she was.In that moment, she decided she wasn’t going to mention Travis. She trusted Jaiden, she was pretty sure that she wouldn’t say anything. But Jaiden didn’t need to hear that someone they’d let in, that they’d trusted, that they’d called a friend, had been a mole. Had been part of the reason that they’d lost people. That they’d lost Markus.

“It’s been… well, it hasn’t been easy. It’s… it’s strange more than anything. Sometimes you… you almost forget, you know? And then you remember and…” She trailed off. “You know it as well as I do, though. How have you been doing? And don’t tell me you’re fine. I don’t think either of us are exactly ‘fine,’” Rosie warned. “You’ve been through a lot over the past few weeks, hell, the last few months. You don’t have to talk about it with me but… talk about it with somebody.” She caught herself and smirked a little. “Can’t quite switch off teacher mode. But it’ll help, trust me on that much.”

She knew it was ironic that she was shifting the conversation away from herself because she also didn't want to talk about any of it. But she could see it in Jaiden's actions that Jaiden needed someone to listen to, or at least, someone who she knew would listen if she needed it. Rosie would make it through. No matter what.






HAYDEN BYRNE
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outfit : herex|xhex: #005555
xxxfly like a cannonball
xxxstraight to my soul
xxxtear me to pieces
xxxand make me feel whole
Hayden was glad at least when Kay decided to talk about it. He was starting to realise that this truly was no ordinary town, if only for the people that lived in it. Maybe his life had just been extraordinarily easy before, but things were different here.

So he just let her talk, wiping away some of the tears when she started to cry again. He wanted to tell her that it wasn't her fault. It wasn't anyone's fault. Even if his life had been straightforward, he knew that feelings weren't. Nobody could help how they felt or who they fell for.

The hug was a surprise, but he hugged her back, holding her tight. He didn't really know what to say to make her feel better, but he knew that the hug would help. He rubbed her back a little as she clung on to him.

"It's not your fault, Kay. People are confusing. But I'm willing to bet most people are nice to you because they want to be nice to you, because they're nice to everyone. And it's much better to be someone that believes too much in the good than someone who only sees the bad. Innocence is valuable because you will always try to help. There's nothing wrong with being innocent... but there's nothing wrong with wanting to be more than that. So what do you want to be? Who do you want to be? Once you figure that out... you can start working from there. And while we figure that out," he said with a smile. "We better eat this food before it goes cold, right?"

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Jaiden Price Character Portrait: Violet Marsden Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Zada min Albahr Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Neden Isimir Character Portrait: Travis Graveson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne Character Portrait: Zoe Peña Character Portrait: Trisstana Glasser
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ROSIE THOMPSON
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outfit : herex|xhex: #cc0460
xxxwhen you act like this
xxxwhen you get so into yourself
xxxi lose track of common goals
xxxand letting go so i can be all alone
Rosie was been relieved and delighted when Jaiden had taken her up on her offer. Jaiden was spending much more time around Rosie’s, which was making Travis’ absence a little less difficult. The town knew by now, and people had started regarding her with a degree of suspicion. But it had only lasted a day or two until they’d realised she was deathly serious in her warning that if he was found within town limits, he was to be captured and taken to whoever was leading the patrols at the time. A vampire by the name of Evelyn had stepped up to help with the patrols following Markus’ death. A young vampire by all standards, even younger than Rosie herself, but she’d quickly proved herself. And she’d promised Rosie she would only kill him if really necessary. He’d left town after three days. She’d been reassured of that by the spriggans, who seemed to be of the opinion they were much better off without them and that she could do better anyway. Rosie had thanked them for their information and had left it at that.

Training Jaiden had been a welcome distraction. She was trying to keep it as broad as she can, teaching self defense as well as offensive techniques. She’d been taking it slow with the magic, partially because Jaiden was still unsure, and partially because Rosie herself was unsure of how to best train and advise on it. But she was seeing progress. It was small, but it was there, and that was something.

She’d all but stopped giving her classes assignments and tests. Partially so she’d have less to do herself, but also because she could tell they were scared and stressed enough without her piling work on top of it. More than once, her class had gotten derailed as they talked about what was happening. She let it happen, knowing that talking about what was happening was important.

Seeing how scared her students were had prompted Rosie to do some thinking. People were feeling scared all over town, holding their breaths, waiting for something to happen. People needed hope, needed a sign, needed support. There were families who had lost a loved one or who were trying to help a loved one heal. So Rosie had approached Phoenix with an idea, and he’d organized the whole thing in a week. A brunch in his cafe, donation only. All of the money raised would be going to the families that needed it. She had no idea if they’d even make that much, but it was also something to get people out, to get people interacting again.

She woke up a little earlier than usual, showered and got ready. She’d volunteered her services to Phoenix to help keep things running smoothly for the morning, but she’d also accepted the leadership role she seemed to have been handed, and she knew it was important for people to see her there. She found herself ready a little earlier than needed, and decided to make herself some breakfast, figuring that she was going to the cafe to help, not get brunch herself.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Alex Garcia Character Portrait: Rosie Thompson Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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PHOENIX WOODS
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outfit : herex|xhex: #c4a7be
xxxhey, i promise you will be fine
xxxgot the universe on your side
xxxwhen you're out in space
xxxdon't be afraid, no.
Phoenix could see the flash of guilt on Alex’s face and suddenly wished he’d said nothing about falling asleep on the couch. He hadn’t meant to upset Alex, he just knew that he would probably notice anyway so it was easier just to say it. “It’s fine. Probably should have just gone back to bed,” he said with a small smile. He immediately knew he had to downplay exactly how worried he’d been. They’d been friends for this long, Alex knew that Phoenix had a tendency to worry. He’d teased him enough about it growing up. But Phoenix was afraid that he was too much now that Alex was in the same space as him all the time, that he had started worrying even more. And over the past few weeks, it had only worsened even more. And now he was afraid that it had suddenly been too much, too intense.

But Alex at least told him what had happened, and that was something. But Alex seemed to be stressing that he was fine almost too much, and Phoenix was convinced that all of the worrying and stressing had just finally annoyed him. So when Alex changed the topic, Phoenix took the hint, not quite meeting Alex’s eyes. This was what always seemed to happen. He should have known it was coming.

“Oh, uh, yeah, I’m a little nervous. Haven’t really done anything like this before. But I’ve got everything organised, and I’m pretty sure that Rosie will keep everything under control if needs be. I think it should be okay.” He couldn’t stay here in the awkwardness, knowing that as always, he had been too much. He glanced at his phone. He probably needed to start preparing stuff anyway. He drained his mug. “I probably need to go get started on stuff anyway, make sure everything is ready to go. I’ll talk to you later, yeah?” He said, getting to his feet and kissing Alex on the cheek.

He didn’t give himself time to really dwell on it once he got down to the café, starting to work on the prep. If he started to think about it, if he started to dwell on it, he would go into a spiral. And he couldn’t afford that. Not today.






HAYDEN BYRNE
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outfit : herex|xhex: #005555
xxxsee, i'm just trying to find my place
xxxbut it might not be here where i feel safe
xxxwe all learn to make mistakes
xxxand run from them
Hayden was starting to settle into town at this point. People still regarded him with weariness, but he honestly couldn’t blame them. Not after Travis had been exposed as a spy. An outsider was a risk. But the fact that Kay trusted him and that he seemed to be keeping himself to himself seemed to encouraging people to trust him, and that was something. It was a start.

He and Kay had been spending a lot of time together. Her energy was infectious, and her optimism was always wonderful. It hadn’t taken her long to apparently forget everything that had happened that night, but it was nice to see her happy again. She’d been upset over Travis, of course, but that hadn’t gotten the best of her either.

Hayden had seen a poster for the brunch earlier in the week when he’d been out and about earlier in the week getting groceries. He thought it was a lovely idea and that it would be nice to get out for something different, get to know the town a little more. So he swung by Kay’s on his way into town.

“Hey Kay, it’s me!” He called as he let himself in. “So I saw that there’s a fundraiser brunch thing on in town, I was wondering if you wanted to go? It looked like a really cool idea. Oh, and I think Rosie is involved in it? I was talking to her during the week and she was talking about it.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Phoenix Woods Character Portrait: Kaylessa Valven Character Portrait: Hayden Byrne
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KAYLESSA VALVEN
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outfit xxxxxxx hex; #FF4500
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xxx If I'm a bad person, you don't like me
xxx Well, I guess I'll make my own way
xxx It's a circle, a mean cycle
xxx Sometimes I wanna fuckin' scream or run away,
xxxI can't excite you anymore

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Kaylessa had calmed down over the last couple days, Hayden staying and visiting her often helped greatly. A lot had gone down in such a short amount of time that it was hard for Kay to take everything in and understand it, her talk with Travis actually helped her as well, and she would miss him very much. She wasn’t sure what it was, but she felt bad for him, but knew she couldn’t tell anyone that, and even if she did they would bring up all the bad things he’s caused.

Kay found ways to keep her busy, Neden and Rosie and few of the others didn’t want her out as much in the woods, worried that she might get hurt. Though it was more quiet now, so maybe the hunters were truthful in their message about leaving Greythorne in peace, which would be nice. Greythorne was supposed to be a town about peace and where anyone can go to restart and lived a nice life. Recently she had started going through some old boxes of her mothers, not finding much but enough to reorganize and possibly redecorate.

The sound of the door opening caught Kay’s attention and a smile came across her face as she heard it was Hayden. She popped up from behind a small pile of boxes, keeping her smile. “Hey Hayden!” She shouted as she climbed over the boxes and walked over to him as he talked about a fundraiser, and that Rosie would be going. “Oh! That’s really cool, and I should go huh, haven't really been out as much…” She trailed off as her gaze wandered a bit, but shaking her head and looking back at Hayden. “Yeah let’s go!” She exclaimed as she skipped past Hayden and out the door and started heading to town, slowing down so she can walk with Hayden.

The two walked a little to town, Kaylessa swinging her arms with her step and laughing during her conversation with Hayden. As the two entered town Hayden stopped and said this was the location of the fundraiser. Phoenix’s cafe. “What?” She paused as she looked inside and saw people gathered. “This is Phoenix’s cafe. I don’t want to go in there.” Kay said looking down with a small frown on her face. Hayden apologized and explained that he didn't know, but that they should still go and try to have a good time, reassuring all would be okay. She looked up at him and nodded, and entered as he opened the door for her.