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Wyatt Costanza

"Sometimes to find yourself, you have to get completely lost."

0 · 458 views · located in Tokyo, Japan

a character in “Immortal Ties”, as played by an edgar allan poet

Description

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WYATT COSTANZA.....................................Reincarnation
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Wyatt is a college dropout who is still trying to find how he fits into the world. He can't shake the feeling like there's something missing from his life or that there's something he hasn't found yet.

...ImageAge.......Nineteen......................D.O.B.........6 / 14 / 1997
Origin.... Italy...............Sexuality....Bisexual

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I. ..A D . H O M I N E M



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        A S P E C T U S
        6 ' 0 | Dark Brown Eyes | Chestnut Brown Hair


        Wyatt's warm brown eyes are complimented by his smooth curry colored skin. He has a mop of warm brown hair that he keeps short and swept out of his face. His features are soft and gentle, reflective of his personality. Despite his inviting personality, he hardly ever smiles or lets his face admit what he's feeling which can be very frustrating when someone is having a conversation with him. He comes off as someone with high, insurmountable walls but he's just someone who keeps to himself. When he does give up his cold exterior for a smile, it is warm and kind. His lips curl back in some sort of crooked semblance of a smirk and his deep brown eyes swim with amusement.

        Wyatt has a medium build and slight muscle tone beneath his skin. He doesn't look like a bodybuilder, but definitely like he could hold his own in a fight. He covers himself up in baggy shirts and thick coats, holding a partiality to a completely average wardrobe of a tee shirt, jeans, and a pair of Vans. He doesn't attract a lot of attention on first sight, but his eyes have a sort of magnetism that make him much more approachable than he lets on.

        His appearance reflects his calming personality and he tries to be a relaxing force in people's life because he's faced lots of heavy stress in his past. He doesn't keep up with the vibrant Tokyo fashion and mostly sticks to whatever he had back in Italy.



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        P E R S O N A
        Patient | Reserved | Witty | Insecure

        Wyatt comes off as quiet and a little judgmental, but he's just perceptive and observant. He likes to learn about people from watching them which can sometimes result in some awkward silences or brief conversations that make him feel a little aloof. Wyatt is very grounded in reality, he doesn't allow himself a lot of time to pretend to have dreams or crazy goals. He just wants to live in the simplest way he can and leave silly dreams behind in childhood.

        He's extremely patient and is very generous when it comes to second chances. This seems a little contradictory to the way he is a cynical realist, but it's mostly directed at himself. He believes the best in everyone else. He will encourage any other friend's ambitions, but will never indulge in his own. He's a very gentle person and understands that humans make mistakes and sometimes, they make a lot of mistakes, but that's nothing to get caught up on. Everyone is deserving of forgiveness.

        Wyatt hates talking about himself and will avoid the topic as much as he can. He doesn't find himself particularly interesting and doesn't think he has a lot to offer besides the fact that he's a great friend. He keeps his personal problems to himself and doesn't let anyone know when he's going through a rough patch, set on going through it on his own without any help. Asking for help is inexplicably embarrassing for him and he will avoid it at all costs. Sometimes he pushes away the people who want to help him because he doesn't want to come off as emotionally weak to his friends or the people he cares about.

        When the conversation isn't aimed at him, Wyatt is a wonderful conversationalist. He's witty and bright and loves to brighten up other people's days the best he can. He's a great friend and is fiercely loyal to his friends. He's a relatively good judge of character, but always gives someone the benefit of the doubt before writing them off. This has hurt him in the past, but he likes to assume the best until the worst rears its ugly head.

        Wyatt's biggest flaw is how insecure he is. He doesn't trust his own judgement and his inner monologue is always littered with constant second guessing and a little bit of self-loathing. He isn't bold in any way because of how much he fears being wrong. This is another reason why he doesn't exactly stick out in a crowd, he avoids it if he can manage. This is why Wyatt needs someone to kind of walk with him through life and give him the encouragement he needs to be bold and make choices or he won't try anything new or scary.

        He has a debilitating fear of fire that has no real life basis. He has frequent nightmares about fire, though. Especially fires in skyscrapers where there's no place to go. These nightmares rule his head during waking hours and any possibility of fire from street performers to tightly packed slums make him uncomfortable and wary, like he's waiting for a disaster to happen.





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FORGIVING..Wyatt always forgives people who hurt him, regardless of
what they've done. This can be a double edged sword, but Wyatt is fierce in his belief


RESOURCEFUL..Wyatt is really quite brilliant
and can think on his feet real well. Pressure doesn't scare him.


EMPATHETIC..One reason Wyatt is so forgiving is because he knows how
to put himself in someone else's shoes really easily.



INDEPENDENT..Wyatt refuses to ask for help from anyone,
even if he's struggling to keep his head above the water.


CYNICAL..Wyatt is cynical when it comes to being realistic with
his goals.He doesn't reach for anything more than he's been given.


INSECURE..He's almost constantly worried about messing up and
doesn't trust himself or his judgement for nearly anything




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II. ... I M M O R T A L I S . M O R T A L E





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        A C T U M .T E M P U S

        Wyatt was born in Florence, Italy two decades ago to a mother like Summer and a father like Winter. With that slightly inexplicable combination of people came insecurity. Wyatt was a normal child up until the point he entered school. His father was very involved in his son's life to the point where every decision was made by him, no negotiation available. This became a huge source of annoyance in Wyatt's childhood until it became clear that the boy couldn't even make the simplest decisions without his father there to guide him. In the end, he learned it was easier to just listlessly listen to his father than to bother arguing with him. His father pushed every one of his opinions on the boy as if Wyatt was intended to be his father in every way. He was taught to be independent and strong because reaching out to anyone was a sign of weakness.

        Where his father was harsh in Wyatt's life, his mother was gentle. One of the biggest mysteries in his life was how this treasure of a woman got stuck with his father for a husband. His mother taught him the softer things in life and the biggest thing he learned was that humans could offer an unyielding forgiveness to each other. His father was the first person he unconditionally forgave. His mother also gave him an appreciation for people. She trusted them and loved them as if they were family and his mother often held parties. Of course, Wyatt never moved away from the walls at the parties, but he found he could learn a lot about people just by watching them. They had mannerisms and expressions that made them readable like book. Wyatt watched them all, even when they were convinced no one was watching them.

        Wyatt was pushed to do well in school by his father and he was as subservient as he could manage, respecting the man with all his heart. He soon found that he liked learning new things and that school didn't have to be much of a challenge as long as you could remember things. From that revelation on, Wyatt flourished in school, juggling his courses while finding time to read classics like Dante's Inferno and Shakespeare. He learned more about people from reading than a million parties and he felt he was really scraping along the surface of human nature when high school ended.

        Of course he had plans after high school, his father had already picked one out for his as well as the major he would eventually turn into his career, but everything changed when he left home. He wasn't able to be coached by his father for every decision and Wyatt quickly discovered that he didn't know how to make a confident decision for himself without questioning it all the way to fruition. His mental health broke down in the first few weeks, but he pushed through the first year, managing without any help. When he went back for his Sophomore year, he knew he wasn't going to be able to handle the hell he was living for another three years. He wasn't even sure if he even qualified as his own person or if he was just some conglomeration of everything his father said, a weak sponge of decisions he never made.

        One day, Wyatt packed his stuff in the middle of the school year and left. He went to Tokyo without breathing a word to his family or his friends. It was the first decision he had made for himself and he had made it on a desperate whim. He still hasn't told anyone that he's left, trying to push off the inevitable, painful conversation that was bound to come creeping for him. Now, Wyatt lives in the city, living day to day as a new man, trying to figure out who he is as a person and hoping to eventually find an answer for whatever felt like it was missing from his soul.



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                  ( OOC )

                  FACE CLAIM: Luke Pasqualino
                  HEX CODE: #666699
                  PORTRAYED BY: an edgar allan poet
                  CS CREATED BY: Epimetheus
                  TIME ZONE: EST

                  DISCLAIMER: This sheet uses
                  code written by Epimetheus, with
                  portions of her work inspired by
                  Verix. All credit goes to them.
                  _( ASSOCIATED )
                  ..words and phrases

                  When someone makes up a statistic on the spot.
                  He's a good friend guys.
                  "Hey, dude, you're being kinda mean."
                  Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellente
                  Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Pellente
                  _( MISC )

                  Wyatt thinks everyone should be educated in the topic before
                  making any sort of argument against anything and he can be very vocal about this. It's a pet peeve,
                  but it rules his conversations.

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So begins...

Wyatt Costanza's Story

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Luciana de Silva Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Kohaku Character Portrait: Cassius Dōriēwes Character Portrait: Minako Character Portrait: Seung Character Portrait: Teruki Satou Character Portrait: Alucio Character Portrait: Cara Chung Character Portrait: Ikeda Shiori Character Portrait: Ryan 'Rango' Prosker Character Portrait: Basil Gardner Character Portrait: Jiangyu Bai Character Portrait: Kohta Honda Character Portrait: Aera Lee Character Portrait: Seok Areum Character Portrait: Kaede Shimizu Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza Character Portrait: La Verne Caron Character Portrait: Paola Millán
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#, as written by Cloud
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CHAPTER ONE: THE BEGINNING
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Date: Evening, 1st April, 2017
Location: Tokyo City, Japan
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xxxOnce, before Tokyo had been given its name, before tall spires of metal dominated the horizon and light polluted the sky, one could see the stars. They say it was the gods who wove constellations into the otherwise blank expanse of night sky; exposing pinpricks of light to tell stories of legends that would transcend time. Yet, as civilisation grew ever skywards, electric lights began to drown out the natural illumination of the night sky. There are still those who remember centuries long gone, whose gaze at the night sky and remember a time when it was only clouds that interrupted their view. The constellations had changed since they were young, shifting across the Earth’s sky as time flowed forward. Yet, more than one could still take comfort in the beauty of it.

xxx “A shame really.” The man commented absently, his gaze fixed upwards, past the canopy of sky-scrapers towards the sliver of cloudless ink visible above. “Once you could have made out millions of stars from anywhere in the prefecture.”

xxxThe surly teenager seated beside him grunted and shifted slightly away, unsure who this stranger was and why he had randomly started talking to him.

xxx “I made it, you know.” The man continued, an almost smug smile on his face as he leaned against the park bench. He didn’t seem to care that the youth was resolutely staring at the screen of his cell phone, attempting to tune out the rambling stranger. “I mean, I made everything really. You’re welcome by the way.” He paused and glanced at the mortal, as if expecting a ‘thank you’, or any other form of gratitude. When none was offered the man merely continued talking, “But, I am particularly proud of the stars. ”

xxxThe man’s dark eyes returned to the small portion of the sky not covered in thick cloud. He held his hand in front of his eyes, stretched out as if he might pluck the very stars from their homes in the sky. Instead, he waved his hand slowly from side to side, as if waving away a particularly bad smell. A satisfied smile lit his face as his hand fell to his side,

xxx “There, you see!” The man said, nodding towards the now cloudless sky. Though the light from numerous skyscrapers still dimmed the brightest of the stars, they seemed stronger now, shimmering happily above the world below. “Much better.”

xxxThe youth merely grunted again, his hands fiddling headphones into his ears as he attempted to tune out the well-dressed man beside him. Unfortunately, the man’s voice continued to blare through the headphones, as if the younger man’s music wasn’t playing at all.

xxx “I fancy myself as a bit of an artist, if I’m being frank.” He continued, a note of pride creeping into his words, “You see that tree there? I designed it, right down to the edges on the leaves.”

xxxThe teenager didn’t even glance up, too busy checking that he had plugged his headphones in properly. Of all the nights for them to stop working, it had to be when he was getting his ear talked off by some mental stranger.

xxxFrom behind the pair a female voice replied, full of barely contained impatience, “I think you’ll find that I was the one to design that tree. If I remember correctly, you were still babbling on about how sludge was going to be the next big thing.” The woman snorted in amusement. “Well, we all know how that went.”

xxx “Excuse me for trying to do something different.” He retorted hotly, even as he slid across the park bench to make space for the new arrival. Beside him, the irritated youth was silently cursing the two adults who had interrupted his brooding and was quickly stuffing his phone into his backpack. Without a word the kid stood, pulled his hood tightly over his head, and walked away.

xxxThe two gods barely seemed to register the departure, more concerned with the back and forth that had begun. “I make one mistake and you never let me forget it. I made flowers, and gave the world bees. Who doesn’t like bees?” His hands made exaggerated movements in the air.

xxx “One mistake? Oh, I can count at least three dozen you’ve made in the last decade alone.” The female retorted, slapping his hands casually away. She opened her mouth to continue, before changing her mind and instead adding, “But I didn’t come to bicker with you.”

xxxHe nodded. His partner had come for the same reason he had. He stood up slowly, stretching out his tall frame, before offering a hand to the woman. She took it with a nod, her head tilting slightly in a wordless expression of ‘after you’.

xxxA second later the two figures blinked into existence on the wind-swept top of a sky-scraper. From here they could see the city sprawled out below them; neon, artificial lights marking roads, shop advertisements, and the lit windows of residential apartments. Above them, cleared of the thick layer of clouds, was the night’s blanket of stars.

xxxThough no eyes – mortal or otherwise – happened to glance up at the tip of the building, had someone done so, they would have seen two immortals bathed in moonlight, watching their world with a confidence only the gods know. They were one and the same, and yet separate, two entities burning in a universe of their creation.

xxxHe was tall and pale, his feet rooted solidly in the ground beneath him even while his hands reached heavenward. His cheekbones were chiselled from marble, sharp enough to cut mountains. Dark eyes of endless knowledge inspected his world, while strands of hair the same pitch black were pushed back from his face with lithe fingers. His appearance was similar to natives of this land, albeit almost concentrated, as if he were the original that all others had been moulded by.

xxxShe, on the other hand, had the dark, warm skin of someone who would have been marked a foreigner had she walked amongst Tokyo’s population. Her face was softer; a smooth sculpture of beauty, with thick curls of coal-coloured hair engulfing her head. Pupils that whispered of eons gone by watched the city like a predator of old, her lips held tight in a thin frown as possibilities of the days to come ran through her mind.

xxx “Owari” He spoke her name like a resolution; a finality echoing from his lips; the end.

xxx “Hajimari.” She responded with his name; a beginning; a taste of fresh possibilities, and boundless growth.

xxx “Things are moving.” He stated, his eyes too seeing beyond the crawling traffic below. “Do you think they’re ready?”

xxx “They’ll have to be.” Owari responded, her tone firm.

xxxHajimari nodded, rising his gaze from the streets at his feet to the stars above. His hand rose, fingers splayed above his head as his eyes searched between the digits. “Perhaps a sign then.” He murmured, almost to himself. Though, Owari heard and followed her partner’s gaze to the heavens.

xxx “Many have long since forgotten us.” She reminded him as his fingers began to dance overhead. His hand made a graceful pulling motion, a soft breath left his lips, and then the first star fell across the night’s sky; a streak of pure light momentarily illuminating the heavens. More followed, creating a meteor shower for any who happened to turn their attention to the sky that night.

xxx “Well, perhaps this is for my comfort than.” Hajimari replied, his hands clasped behind his back as he admired his work. Owari let the silence build as she too watched the show above, until a dozen moments had passed.

xxx “They all have demons to face.” Her words rang with a hint of pity, for she knew the dangers that were to come.

xxx “Most are of their own making.” Hakimari responded, “They would have had to face them eventually.”

xxxOwari nodded, her curls shifting as if stirred by a gentle wind, “We can only watch now.”

xxxA look of slight guilt crossed the pale god’s face, his eyes flashing momentarily. His partner turned ever-perceptive eyes on him, her frown deepening as she sensed his intentions, “Hajimari, if I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a million times, stop interfering with their lives!”

xxxAnd just like that, the aura of power and mystery that surrounded the two gods evaporated. Like an old couple, married for too long and all too aware of each other’s faults, they began trading words; barbs, insults, passive aggressive suggestions. A bird soaring above would be wise to avoid the area directly around the snapping deities, a rat might have taken sheltered in a solid pipe well below the pair too. For the less perceptive mortals, they continued their work without contemplating that above them stood two squabbling gods, or that among their number roamed immortals and ghosts. Even as the two gods disappeared, the only witness to their presence a pouting teenage boy, the world continued to move of its own accord.

xxxIn a shoe-box apartment only a few blocks from the building once occupied by the two gods, a Guardian Angel calling himself Kohaku was preparing to leave on work-related business. A short distance further, within the performance hall of one of Tokyo’s learning institutes, a blonde boy studying music gave his hands a shake as he glared at a piano piece. And further away, across vast oceans and mountain ranges carved and painted by the hands of the divines, a goblin’s hand reached for a door knob. Slim fingers curled around the brass head, her eyes shut, mind searching for the pull of her next destination. She opened the door and slid through, her eyes alighting on the clear windows of her Tokyo apartment to see stars decorating the sky.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza
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It was strange to look up at the sky and think that his mother was staring up at the same one. Wyatt chewed uncertainly on his bottom lip, his eyes full of the clouds that shrouded the silver disc of the moon. The air around him was reflective of Spring. It was slightly chilled with the Sun having retreated so far below the surface of the earth, but it was charged with something that felt reflective of life. Like the world was coming back to life. Of course, in Tokyo, it never felt like the world ever died. Wyatt's peripherals were full of the halos of neon signs and video advertisement screens that boasted bright, eye-catching words of a language he had grown to understand at least a little.

Wyatt had been in Tokyo for about five months and he'd be lying if he said he hadn't come across days where he didn't regret it. Sometimes he would pack everything in his suitcase and write his flatmate, Marlon, a note to let him know he was going back home. It wasn't until he read the note over again that he would tear it up into the tiniest pieces and stuff it in the trashcan where it belonged.

It was a funny situation he was in.

The boldest, craziest thing he had ever done was up and move to Tokyo without even a word to his parents.

And now he wasn't even brave enough to move back.

This came as no surprise, he wasn't even brave enough to call his family to let them know he wasn't dead, that he was just taking a year off.

That would end up being a lie, though, wouldn't it?

These past five months were the most terrifying, liberating months of his young life and he liked making decisions for himself, even if most of them had to be pre-approved by Marlon. If he went back, he would never get to taste that freedom again.
Wyatt turned on his heel and retreated back into the small, cramped store he worked at. The man hung his forest green apron up on the allotted wooden peg hanging from the wall with a sense of finality. He had finished early for the night.

The shop he worked in was a mix between a superficially superstitious hole-in-the-wall and a tiny herb shop. The heavy aroma of the sharp plants cut into Wyatt's senses at first, but after spending a few months at the shop, he found the smell didn't bother him quite as much as he thought it would. The job had started with the hunched old woman who owned the store and the WANTED sign she had placed in the window. Wyatt had applied as soon as he had seen the sign, in some desperate need for cash. The woman had agreed almost instantly, claiming she didn't care about Wyatt's lack of experience in a job, she claimed she just needed someone to be able to reach the tall shelves in her apothecary.

The apothecary itself was a strange store, quirky to the point where walking into it felt like entering another dimension, but it was good work. The woman was nice enough and she paid Wyatt more than he probably deserved for just managing the store. Tonight, the woman had left early, explaining to Wyatt in very simple Japanese that when you get old, you get tired just trying to wake up in the morning. A wheezy sort of laugh escaped her chest like someone was leaking the air out of a balloon very slowly after she had said it.

Wyatt closed up the apothecary shop and stood aimlessly on the sidewalk, looking around like the streets would give him an answer to the question drifting in his head. What now?

The answer came a second later and it was almost too obvious.

Marlon.

Of course.

If he was nearly finished with the piano for the night, maybe they could do something better than going home and lazily calling it a night.

Wyatt fished his flip phone out of his pocket, carrying a real life fossil in his jeans. The man quickly (as quickly as you can on a flip phone) jotted out a quick text to shoot to his roommate.


To: Marlon Roommate
Done @ the shop. Let's go get drinks!


Wyatt looked at the message, read it over and over. 8 words shouldn't be this hard. But they were. Wyatt mashed the delete key until he was just looking at an empty message box again. A quick breath steeled him.

Done @ shop. Want to do something? Whatever you want.

Telling Marlon "whatever you want" was always a loaded choice, but giving him the decision made Wyatt more comfortable. He may be miles away from Italy, but he could still feel the tight hold his father had on his brain. He couldn't even choose what to do for a night without reading into it too much.Marlon and Tokyo were helping, though, slowly but surely. One day, maybe he wouldn't be such a mess. One day.

A streak of soft light suddenly fell upon the sidewalk under Wyatt's feet, pulling the man's gaze from the tiny phone screen to the heavens. Full sweeps of warm light were tracing themselves across the sky like brilliant brush strokes. A tired smile worked its way onto Wyatt's lips and he suddenly felt at home looking at the meteors blazing and then flickering out. There was something comforting about the flickering lights, like things were about to change for the better.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Jiangyu Bai Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza
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#, as written by Cloud
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xxxMarlon’s feet came to an abrupt halt as a flash of orange cloth pulled his attention up. With a yelp, he jumped back against the railing, skinny elbows smacking against the iron balustrades hard. The mortal’s gaze flicked up, taking in the towering figure as Marlon’s mouth opened in surprise. Part of his brain was trying to figure out where the man had come from, for only one door led onto the balcony and Marlon was sure he hadn’t heard it open behind him. Of course, the larger portion of his brain was dedicated towards inspecting the strange figure before him.

xxxThe man was tall and incredibly striking in what Marlon assumed were monk robes. Yet, what really drew the teenage boy’s gaze was the well-defined muscle of the stranger’s chest and abdomen. Even in his shock, Marlon’s eyes took a moment to memorise the way taut skin pulled over perfectly formed abs. It was, certainly, a much more enjoyable sight than the thing that jutted out from the man’s neck. A knife marred the man’s aesthetic, protruding violently from his neck. A gold-leaf snake slid around the hilt of the weapon, while most of the blade itself was buried in the man’s skin.

xxxMarlon quickly cast his eyes back down to the comforting sight of the man’s abs, wondering if this was just another odd being that the general populace couldn’t see. Like those who wondered the streets in all black, slipping around mortals invisibly, or the individuals who wore two images and sometimes sprouted wings. Or perhaps he was merely an actor, dressed for a play in which he played a handsome monk who was stabbed to death. Regardless, when Marlon’s lips parted, it was not to ask why the monk had a knife in his neck, but to instead inquire,

xxx “How did you get onto the balcony?” The English was rushed, and Marlon immediately began to translate the sentence into Japanese, though using simpler words, “How did you get here?”

xxxJiangyu did not know what entirely to make out of the current predicament. Whatever color remained in the pale-skinned youth's face had leached down to intensify his trembling physique.

xxxThe lilt of his voice was the same that called Jiangyu out of his sedentary reflection with its earnest deliverance. It was immediately clear that the youth had summoned him, yet his cowering form implied otherwise.

xxxUpon hearing the inquiry, Jiangyu turned the question back on it's owner, fumbling over the Japanese characters with as much difficulty as the youth, "I could ask the same of you, sir. All I can determine is that I have appeared here by your directive. Whereas before I was in deep meditation, I heard the sounds of your pining words and I stand before you now. It's owing to the intricacies of karma that we should meet by such strange circum--"

xxxJiangyu had not been looking directly at the boy as he spoke, rather his eyes filled with the glittering city lights he saw below. As he drew his statement to a close his gaze wandered back to the youth, whose attention likewise seemed riveted elsewhere. Instead of attempting to read the man in front of him through the emotional imprints cast in the contours of his face, the youth's scrutiny was rather aimed at the contours of Jiangyu's...lower... abdomen...

xxxAs a Buddhist, Jiangyu had learned to live a conservative, plain existence. All human possessions are a furtherance of materialism; an outcome that nature had never intended. Even wearing the robes of the Shaolin monks was symbolic of living in austerity of nature; the purest form of living. But the way the youth looked at him now, eyes content on the beads of sweat still dripping down his body, was unnerving. Jiangyu found himself willing to defy his principles if he could cover up his entire body from those prying eyes.

xxxBefore he would continue any further, he said, "Please sir, can you refrain from looking at me so? In my culture that is what they call the 'evil eye' and I need no more misfortune in my life"

xxxIt appeared, despite the initial Cantonese verbalised by the monk, that he knew Japanese too, for he began to answer Marlon’s question in the same language. Yet, Marlon found his brows knitting together in concentration as he attempted to translate all the words. Some, the harder. rarer words, were beyond the boy, but he was able to understand the general idea regardless of the gaps in his comprehension. Marlon understood enough to translate and grasp the admonishment, his eyes quickly flicking up from the monk’s abdomen to meet his gaze as a faint tinge of pink coloured his cheeks. Normally, some quick barb would be thrown right back. Something relating to the impossibility of not looking when the man’s abs were so clearly on display. Yet, Marlon found himself slightly unnerved by the sight of the knife in the man’s neck – which he was resolutely avoiding inspecting.

xxxInstead, he wet his lips and addressed the man’s earlier point, “I didn’t call you here.” Marlon assured the man, his hand sliding down to tap the cell phone in his jean pocket. He had felt it buzz moments before, indicating a text message. “I don’t know who you are, and I don’t have your number, so…”

xxxPart of Marlon’s mind drew up memories of speaking with a friendly Japanese police officer who shared Marlon’s ability to see the black clothed individuals and fox-tailed few. Yet, she had also spoken of conversing with ghosts, a skill that Marlon had never held. He wouldn’t have believed her had he not spent his life able to see the oddities that walked invisible throughout the world. Could this man be a ghost? The only way to find out was to ask.

xxx “Are you dead?” He asked bluntly, gaze flickering from the man’s face, down to the knife impaling him, and back to those steady eyes.

xxxAlthough the youth's focus now returned to the conversation instead of morbidly engrossed on his body, Jiangyu still shivered with the gust of frigid air that followed and that lay his skin afrost. His scant apparel did little to shield him from the wind, but he continued to fasten the coarse cloth tighter around himself.

xxxDespite the abruptness of his departure from the refuge of the monastery walls, Jiangyu remained indolent to the affair. Peg it to his lassitude to the transience of the universe, but his demeanor revealed no signs of distress. Jiangyu had long ago acknowledged that to grow jaded with your condition was to inevitably invite pain and sorrow in the future. Renouncing attachment and notions of hope imposed the necessity for adaptation to whatever the universe may send his way. Jiangyu knew that everything happened for a reason... even being teleported to company of some cowardly boy.

xxxAll forms of pleasantry had escaped the boy's address and Jiangyu could read that of the numerous thoughts flitting through his head, only the irrelevelant, disconnected ones were expressed. "Our connection was not made by some physical device, it was a spiritual connection, don't you understand?", Jiangyu remarked in a soothing tone. In response to his inquiry, "Though at points I have doubted whether my soul had deviated to the depths of the Netherrealm, I do declare before you now that I am indeed living, breathing, sentient flesh. Why do you ask?"

xxxMarlon shook his head, playing his lip between his teeth as he fought valiantly to keep his hazel eyes off the offending knife stuck in the man’s neck. He didn’t really understand what was going on; who this man was, where he’d come from, and why he spoke like Gandhi – if Gandhi spoke Japanese and had abs like-… No, forget the abs. He’s not allowed to look at the abs.

xxxClearing his throat Marlon finally speaks, “So you I think I called you here by some ‘spiritual connection’?” Marlon made quote marks with his fingers as he spoke, clearly sceptical about some so called mystical bond. Perhaps this guy was actually insane? Or maybe Marlon had gone crazy after too long practising the same piece. Rather than contemplate his own sanity, Marlon continued quickly, “Look, I didn’t call you, and I have to finish my practice so… Do you need me to show you out?” Marlon’s hand waved vaguely behind the monk towards the door, despite the fact that clearly it should have been the door the monk entered through as it was the only one to the balcony.

xxxMarlon’s hand fell to his side as he left the statement hanging, fingers brushing against his cell phone in his pocket and wondering if he could get away with taking a quick picture of the stranger. Would he even appear in a picture? Marlon had tried it once, years ago, with one of the beings who had multiple appearances only to find that only one image was captured. Now, he wanted proof of this bizarre conversation so that he could share it was Wyatt.

xxxThe generational (historical?) gap between the two was sluggishly tangible, both socially and technologically. The youth could not seem to adhere to the idea that there were greater forces at work than chance that would bring them together. Besides, the more they lumbered to and fro in this excruciatingly awkward waltz, the more the boy appeared intent on bee-lining for the door in a frenzy. That was not an option.

xxxAlthough Jiangyu had the ability for years to traverse expanses far removed from his homeland, he remained transfixed to his roots. He need only step through door and be transported to the regal Mount Kōya range in Japan or perhaps coalesce a true syndicate with the heavens in the isolation of the Himalayas. Yet, bar the visits he had made to abide his duties to the monastery, he always found his footsteps returning back home. That was until now. For far too long he had been entangled in affairs of his mind and finally here was an egress to direct his energy to the outside world instead of one of his own creation.

xxxStirred awake by the boy prepping his speech, Jiangyu knew his own answer before the question was even finished. I see your attempt to dissuade me, but I am far more disposed to carry out what has been preordained. I shall follow you along as you continue your day and see where it takes me.”. His composure shifted in accedence but as his eyes lifted to meet the youth’s, he realized the negligence of his statement.

xxx “Forgive me for it seems that in the confusion of the moment there has been a lapse in my character,” he said coyly. “My name is Jiangyu Bai and I am a practicing Shaolin monk, hence this;” he pointed to his clothes. What would I have the honor of calling you, young man?”

xxxMarlon pursed his lips, hesitation clear on his face as he considered the man- Jiangyu’s words. His initial thought was to refuse Jiangyu’s desire to follow Marlon as he continued with his day, not wishing to have a six foot something stranger in monk’s robes following him around modern day Tokyo. Yet just as a refusal was on the tip of his tongue, he paused and reconsidered. Surely, bringing the living, breathing curiosity with him would prove to Wyatt just how bizarre his night had turned. It would be much better proof than a photo possibly could be. It would also enable Marlon to ascertain whether Jiangyu were another figure only visible to him, or a solid, breathing person capable of interacting with others.

xxxSo, after a weighty silence, Marlon nodded slowly and returned the introduction, “You can call me Marlon. Marlon Page.” He replied, digging his hand into his pocket to retrieve his phone. “And if you’re going to follow me, just…” Marlon paused again, unsure how to tell a Shaolin monk with a knife in his neck to ‘be cool’. Clearing his throat, Marlon merely waved his hand and, skirting around the monk slightly, headed towards the door. “..come on.”

xxxSwiping across his cell phone screen, Marlon opened the text message he’d received and smiled at Wyatt’s invitation. Normally, Marlon would suggest visiting some bar that was barely within Wyatt’s comfort zone, but with a Shaolin monk in tow, he decided on a less risque route.

xxxTo Wyatt,
xxxxxxMeet me at the Chocolate Café on the corner by our apartment… I’ve got a surprise for you.


xxxWith another glance over his shoulder to make sure he was being followed, Marlon stepped back inside and began to collect his things, already picturing how Wyatt might react to Marlon’s ‘surprise’. The blonde boy wouldn’t have long to wait, for it was only a short journey to the café mentioned in his text. Of course, the normally simple trip was made slightly more extraneous in the company of a shirtless monk. When they made it to the café Marlon smirked at the way the waitress’ gaze roamed down Jiangyu’s chest before returned to his face with a blush before she ushered them to a booth at the back of the cafe. At least that answered Marlon’s question about whether he alone could see the monk. Now he had only to wait for Wyatt’s reaction.

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Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Jiangyu Bai Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza
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Wyatt ran his thumbs over the curved sides of his flip phone, the action comforting him like a worry stone. The meteors that were streaking above him were fading into the indigo sky and with their leave, the boy felt a gentle reassurance in them. The chilly air was beginning to eat away at Wyatt's skin, his body still mostly acclimated to the warm climate of Southern Italy rather than Japan. An involuntary shiver ran its fingers down his spine before the tiny device clutched in his slender fingers let out a digital chirp. Wyatt's eyes instantly flew to the tiny screen that told him he had one new message. It had to be Marlon's answer, Wyatt hadn't gotten overly friendly enough to hand out his phone number, he just figured he'd see people when he saw them. He quickly read Marlon's text, his face visibly shifting from polite interest to a weak grimace. And all in the span of 17 texted words.
A surprise.
Yikes.

With Marlon that could include a multitude of things, some very varied in response. Sometimes what was a pleasant surprise for Marlon ended up being mildly uncomfortable to Wyatt. The man wanted to quickly explain that to his roommate, but was much too lazy and uninvested to go through the inevitable five minutes of typing it would take to text out anything on the tiny flip phone. It could really be a hassle sometimes, but at least it wasn't as distracting as a smart phone. Wyatt felt ironically more connected to the world around him by refraining from the use of social media.
So, Wyatt shoved the phone into the pocket of his light jacket and began the short trek to the Chocolate Cafe. Maybe the surprise was that they would have a lovely quiet conversation over some coffee instead of shouting their brains out over drinks at a bar. Wyatt couldn't smother the grin that worked its way onto his lips, curling back to reveal a mouth full of white teeth.
Yeah, right.
Wyatt cracked himself up sometimes.

It wasn't long before the cafe came into view and Wyatt's pace developed a bit of a spring in it while he yanked the door open and slid inside, looking around the tables, searching for Marlon's wavy hair that reminded Wyatt of a halo that floated effortlessly around the youthful face of his friend. Marlon definitely looked that part of an angel. As long as he didn't open his mouth.
The man's eyes landed on a shock of wavy blonde and he headed towards the table, his mind already searching for a topic to bring up first.
He could mention how a woman had come into the shop and accidentally sneezed a box of powdered herbs into a grimy dust on the floor.
Or how a man in a suit kept coming into the apothecary every day armed with Scientific brochures that were meant to prove the superiority of modern medicine and how the shop would close any day now with the information swimming around outside the doors of the tiny shop.

Any words instantly shriveled up in Wyatt's throat like a raisin in Summer sun at the sight of the dark haired man sitting across from Marlon at the booth. The first thing Wyatt noticed was that the man was bare-chested, sitting plainly like it was something he did every minute of every day. His eyes wandered for half a second before he tore himself away, physically shoving his head to the side to rip the sight out of his head. After a hesitant moment, Wyatt's eyes flickered back to the pair, taking in the situation again before slowly grabbing a chair from an adjacent table and kind of awkwardly dragging it across the floor to place himself at the end of the table, still eyeing the dark haired man with obvious skepticism.

"Hey," he started uncomfortably, looking to Marlon so that he only saw his friend's face and nothing else so that he wouldn't make a fool of himself.
"How's it going? Uh, who have-" Wyatt broke off here to (hopefully) nonchalantly clear his throat, an apologetic glance thrown at their guest before he continued in a quiet, but pointed voice, "Who have we got here?"

Wyatt ended the question with a smile, hoping to look at any rate, normal. His mouth felt too stretched though, like someone had dug hooks into his cheeks and were stretched them into some semblance of a smile. He hoped the man couldn't tell. He was trying to be polite, but making new friends was not a forte of Wyatt's. Still, practice makes perfect.

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Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Jiangyu Bai Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza
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xxx As a child, Marlon's mother had attempted to hammer into his thick skull many moral and educational sayings. 'Patience is a virtue', 'The early bird gets the worm', 'Sukces ma wieju ojców, porażka jest sierotą', and other such common phrases. Marlon was sure that half the children in the world had grown up with such inane lessons being repeated again and again whenever impatience or sloth struck. Marlon was not immune, and could recite a list of Polish and English phrases that would make any grandmother jealous.

xxx However, in the slow minutes that passed since entering the small chocolate cafe, Marlon could only hear one phrase being repeated constantly in his mind: 'Patience is a virtue'. Marlon glanced at the clock on his cellphone, before hazel eyes slide sideways and then across the table to where his monk sat. A crinkle worried Marlon's brow as he frowned slightly, pursing his lips and forcing his gaze once more to the door. Wyatt couldn't be long now.

xxx Marlon supposed he could attempt conversation while they waited, but each time his mind was made up and his lips began to part, he found himself wondering what use speaking would actually do. All his immediate questions had either been answered at the university hall or waved aside. Confusion was still rife and Marlon decided that before he were to start spurting off anymore accusations or repetitive questions, he'd sort his thoughts out first... and see how Wyatt reacted to the Monk.

xxx As if on cue, the store door opened and in walked Marlon's Italian roommate. Seeing Wyatt's steady form walking towards him helped steady Marlon slightly, as if seeing someone from his normal life helped to convince the blonde that this wasn't some elaborate dream or prank. Certainly, Marlon had seen some strange things in his life, but the sense that Jiangyu gave off unbalanced Marlon more than the men and women in black, or the individuals who sometimes sprouted wings out of their backs.

xxx Marlon waved Wyatt over and waited, watching for his friend and roommate's reaction to the shirtless god sitting in the chocolate cafe. Regardless of the situation, Marlon couldn't help the small grin that spread across his face at Wyatt's shock. He was glad Marlon wasn't the only one put off by the appearance of a shirtless monk.

xxx "Hey Wyatt." Marlon replied as his friend pulled a chair to the end of the table. Biting his lip and glancing from Wyatt to Jiangyu, Marlon waved a hand and introduced the pair, "Wyatt, this is Jiangyu, a practicing Shaolin Monk who decided to... ah, drop in as I was practicing tonight. Jiangyu, this is my friend and roommate Wyatt."

xxxMarlon pursed his lips momentarily, wondering whether he should admit to Wyatt just how odd Marlon's first meeting with Jiangyu had been. Would Wyatt believe him if he said that Jiangyu just suddenly appeared behind him with no sound of the balcony door opening or closing? Marlon had never before mentioned any of the unusual beings he'd seen, and he really didn't want his roommate to start thinking he was crazy... perhaps Marlon could get a few drinks in the quieter boy and then spill the information. Though, he'd rather do it without the presence of the tall monk, but Marlon had a feeling that Jiangyu wouldn't be easy to shake. And for some reason, completely unrelated to the man's impressive chest, Marlon wasn't entirely opposed to having Jiangyu around.

xxxMarlon's thoughts were interrupted as the waitress brought over the hot chocolate Marlon had ordered during the wait for Wyatt. A free orange flavoured chocolate sat on the dish, and Marlon pushed the treat towards Wyatt. Orange flavoured chocolate was not chocolate in Marlon's mind. With a nod of thank you to the waitress he turned back to his friends, before turning his head back again to the waitress who was still hovering by the table, her gaze glued to Jiangyu's face and chest.

xxx "Thanks." Marlon said, catching her attention and raising his eyebrows. The waitress blushed slightly, muttered something under her breath and them scampered off.

xxxAll too soon Marlon's drink was nothing more than dredges of melted chocolate at the bottom of the glass, his stomach warm and his tongue sweet with the taste of sugar. He smothered a yawn with his hand, eyes glancing at the quickly emptying cafe as he realised the lateness of the hour. "I hope you weren't planning on a rager, Wyatt." Marlon commented with a smirk, even as he hesitated slightly to find the right words in Japanese, "I'm exhausted."

xxx A stray thought crossed Marlon's mind and his gaze turned to Jiangyu, "Ah, do you have somewhere to stay?" Marlon hadn't thought he'd seen a wallet or keys on the Monk's belt. Well, technically Marlon hadn't noted a belt either. "I guess, you can always stay with us if you want? We have a semi-comfortable couch..." Marlon's voice drifted off, unsure whether inviting the relative stranger into his and Wyatt's apartment was the best idea. Then again, he didn't get any dangerous vibes off the monk and, though he might pretend otherwise, he was slightly curious about him.

xxx "Though, you might be too tall for the couch. You can have my bed and I'll go in with Wyatt." Marlon declared, smiling confidently at Wyatt, as if the wider his smile, the more likely Wyatt would be to have Marlon hogging half the blankets beside him. "That is, if you're staying with us...?"

xxx Marlon left the question hanging and open, he supposed that whatever would happen, would happen. He wasn't one to believe in destiny, but if it was destiny to have a strange man with incredible muscle definition staying in your apartment, then Marlon could come around to the idea.

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Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Jiangyu Bai Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza
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    While the monks’ lodgings back at the monastery were concentrated in a small village east of the central temple area, Jiangyu’s dormitory was found on the outskirts of the village repurposed from a storage site that had fallen into disuse. Gnarled strangler figs curled like tendrils of smoke around the building concealing most of what lay beyond.

    Besides assembling for group meditation, Jiangyu spent most of his time in his quarters. He was not opposed to fraternity with the other monks, but if that meant he should partake in the obliquities of food and drink, he spurned the idea. Jiangyu felt that the monastic routine had grown grossly diluted. Monks were placing a disproportionate significance into physical training rather than spiritual betterment. The village common area had thus become a breeding ground of imprudence and indulgence for those who felt entitled to celebration after a long day’s labor. Recreational time had also become far more prevalent and it would not be uncommon to see monks with technology of the modern age in their hands, smart phones and the like consuming their attention. Jiangyu steered clear of all these distractions.

    Jiangyu felt far more liberated when relegated to the homely backdrop of his tiny dwelling. They were not the highest quality of fabrics, but the drapes he hung on his walls afforded a very secure atmosphere. Wisps of incense completed the ambience, their ancillary visual appeal merging with the pungent fragrance that hung in the air. This was the ideal environment for his reflections as he soundlessly drifted to his meditative reveries.

    These thoughts would wade through his mind as Jiangyu’s temporary escort led him through the busy streets of Tokyo, the youth’s shock of blond hair bobbing through the sea of flesh. The entire experience was a mixture of terror and delight, but whatever emotions it invoked, Jiangyu could only halt in sheer wonderment every few moments at the debauchery of dazzling neon lights, flurry of sounds, and bold presentation of everything that greeted him.

    While Jiangyu had largely divided his time circulating the monasteries in China, there were a few occasions when he operated outside the country on assignment. He was not completely uncultured to the ways of the modern world, but all his ventures outward rarely challenged his sense of complacency for these locales had him in the ease of the countryside. He never had reason to set foot in to the domain of industrialism until this point.

    I see that that they reject all means of modesty , he thought to himself although he was unsure if he surmised it at any specific point or if it was more of a sustained impression of his surroundings. In all his giddy fascination with this new setting, Jiangyu barely noticed when they had arrived at their destination. He was not given any explanation as to the reason for their visit, however without question he followed Marlon inside, drawn by the floral scents of tea and the tamer atmosphere.

    They had no less stepped inside when they were meant by the amicable smile of their hostess. She comfortably slid into pleasant banter with Marlon, but upon seeing Jiangyu, here attention turned to his uncovered physique. It was only for a few moments, but it was enough for an awkward hush to fall over the group. The woman snapped her attention back to the monk with a sheepish expression of embarrassment and apology and quickly directed them to an open table, not wishing to probe the situation any further.

    Jiangyu could not understand why everyone was shocked by his appearance. By the hostess’s blushing, he could deduce that his robe was immodest or profane, although his bearing of social cues was lacking so the conclusion was uncertain. All’s well that ends well , he thought to himself. If he had any inkling to see where this cosmic interlude would take him, he presumed that he would have to adjust to customs of the period, including clothing himself properly. Based on their last exchange Jiangyu would have to guess that Marlon would not be too enthusiastic about that. However, he was of the opinion that his nakedness would leave an indelible impression on the youth.

    With that thought Jiangyu once again studied the boy that sat in front of him. Jiangyu had just lectured Marlon on the importance of evaluating all circumstances with detachment and objectivity, yet here he was in the company of a stranger he had only just met. The boy was nice enough to let Jiangyu accompany him, but Jiangyu still had his qualms. There was little opportunity to divest the cordial façade Marlon had on, for his friend had just arrived. Immediately the newcomer bore the expression of terror that everyone seemed to have worn that night, yet Jiangyu pretended not to notice.

    Jiangyu heard Marlon’s voice as it materialized from the background, “Hey Wyatt… Wyatt, this is Jiangyu, a practicing Shaolin Monk who decided to... ah, drop in as I was practicing tonight. Jiangyu, this is my friend and roommate Wyatt."

    Jiangyu wordlessly bowed in greeting. He did not venture to talk, believing that it would further sour this first encounter if the outsider was to initiate conversation. He looked to Marlon for prompting but he was in the midst of downing his drink.
    Seeing no better recourse he turned back to Wyatt and said, “Umm… You seem tense, Wyatt. I promise you I mean no harm. It’s just as Marlon said we happened to cross paths and I asked him if he could help me find my way through the city. Without him I most assuredly would have spent a night in the cold…” The words sputtered out and he felt strained telling them. Jiangyu was not good at stretching the truth and he gave up maintaining eye contact halfway through his statement for fear that Wyatt would call his fib.

    Marlon saved him from his hopeless fumbling when he interjected with a stifled yawn. Jiangyu was disappointed in his spontaneity for the day; the crowds were beginning to thin outside and it was with a start he realized how long he had been away from the monastery. This excursion was quickly losing its charm.

    When Marlon mentioned the possibility of lodging with the two roommates for the night, Jiangyu held up his hand in polite refusal, “Pardon me for the brevity of my departure, but I did not realize the lateness of the hour…, anticipating resistance from Marlon he continued ”…If I remember correctly from my last visit there should be a monastery close by here I may reside for the night.” The words stung for their obvious contradiction to what he had just previously said.

    He muttered and few words of thanks not waiting for a proper response before his feet struck with a brisk pace towards the exit. He knew his preferred destination as soon as the doors swung open.

    In flash he was back in the central courtyard of the Shaolin Monastery and he noticed the surprising lack of the old man that had been there before his adventure. He said with a humpf, “Figures.”

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Luciana de Silva Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Kohaku Character Portrait: Cassius Dōriēwes Character Portrait: Minako Character Portrait: Seung Character Portrait: Alucio Character Portrait: Cara Chung Character Portrait: Ikeda Shiori Character Portrait: Ryan 'Rango' Prosker Character Portrait: Basil Gardner Character Portrait: Jiangyu Bai Character Portrait: Aera Lee Character Portrait: Seok Areum Character Portrait: Kaede Shimizu Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza Character Portrait: Paola Millán
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━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━
CHAPTER TWO: THE FESTIVAL
━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━━

Date: Early afternoon, 2nd April, 2017
Location: Kan'ei-ji Temple, Ueno Park
Tokyo City, Japan

━━━━━━━━━


xxx A sea of delicate pink blossoms fluttered in the faint spring breeze, a show of nature’s intoxicating beauty revealed for the world to see. Lanes of sakura trees turned the pavement below a rosy hue, while in other places the falling flowers had carpeted the grass in blushing blooms. The Hanami custom was old, a traditional indulgence by the people of Japan and those world-wide to walk beneath spring’s buds and admire the astounding beauty of it.

xxx In Ueno park, lanterns hang on invisible ropes between the trees, arching across lanes and illuminating pathways during the nightly yozakura. Yet, even during the day, as wisps of cloud pass overhead, the lanterns only add to the festive feel. Kan'ei-ji temple is a Tendai Buddist temple within the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. It sits in the park, a beautiful array of centuries old architecture within the modern city.

xxx Fires from various civil wars and earthquakes have seen the original facades diminished, yet still the temple stands tall and proud. The five-storied pagoda and the Ueno Tōshō-gū shrine still remain as gems of the original temple, beautiful relics of a time gone past. Today, as the midday sun passes overhead, the temple grounds were thriving with activity. Cherry blossoms coloured the grounds pink, while the laughter of young children brought smiles to many who passed by. Stalls set up in one of the courtyards offered delectable treats; yakitori, grilled chicken on sticks; takoyaki, pancake balls with tempting chunks of octopus in the middle; watamep, cotton candy in all colours and styles, and more.

xxx The temple’s festivities were set to continue throughout the evening and into the early night, when the lanterns strung up would offer soft illumination. However, as early afternoon struck the festival was well into full swing. Some families take to the lawns beneath the cherry blossom trees, where picnic blankets allow them to stretch out and admire the blooming petals, while others content themselves with pulling young children around to the games set up for those who require a bit more entertainment. Also present are young couples keen to take in the romance of the sakura blossoms, their hands intertwined as they whispered endearments to each other while walking beneath the blooms.

xxx It was one of these couples that caught Lucia’s gaze as she stepped off the bustling street and followed one small, winding path towards the heart of the temple. They were young, late teens or early twenties, and yet their devotion to each other was clear. As the goblin passed the love-struck couple, she caught a glimpse of their future, intertwined for decades, their hands still clinging together as they age from young and fresh to gnarled and old. Luciana smiled softly, a hint of sadness perhaps beneath the warmth in her eyes. She had once been in love, a foolish affair, yet her story had not ended in happiness as this couple’s story would.

xxx She bypassed the devoted couple with a quick side-step, sending them a hint of good luck as she passed. Ahead, the path opened out into the main courtyard of the temple, a busy thoroughfare of festival seekers. The smell of freshly cooked food and sweets drifted between the crowd, tempting any with a nose or hint of hunger towards the wooden stalls edging the courtyard. Overhead, unlit lanterns and streamers added further decoration, even as the cherry blossoms were the real draw card.

xxx “I’ll take two yakitori, please.” Lucia intoned in flawless Japanese, nodding in thanks as her money was exchanged for the chicken sticks. The dress hugging her body floated around her knees slightly as a faint breeze snaked through the crush of people, and Lucia followed it beneath the tall pagoda and around to where a lawn of grass unfurled beneath a stand of sakura trees. A free root offered the perfect seat, and Lucia tucked her feet to the side as she sat beneath a shower of rosy petals, her gaze drawn upwards to the light blossoms blushing softly against the sky.


xxx “Beautiful” The goblin thought to herself, a feeling of peace settling across her shoulders. She left her mind wander to the twists of the day before, her thoughts less tense than the swirling cacophony of feelings that had assaulted her the previous night. Following her departure from Paola’s apartment, Lucia had spent a long time deciding on her next course of action. Her first instinct was to leave, to run from the city where she had seen and touched her ex-lover. Yet, the goblin couldn’t shake the sense that she should be closer to Paola, if only to investigate the mysterious way the girl had called her.

xxx To stay, or to go? It was the decision that had taunted her throughout the night, and though the goblin hadn’t landed on a conclusive answer, here she sat, still in Tokyo. The tough choice of the previous night seemed all the easier to face now, beneath the sakura. She would stay, would face Cassius if ever they came upon each other again. She was not the same young, naïve woman she had been as a mortal, she was stronger now, more sure of herself. She could handle it. Yet, even as her resolution settled, she remembered the feel of his hand on hers, the colours of his eyes, feel of his breath against her skin…

xxx A flicker in the corner of her eye dragged Lucia’s thoughts from the fox and she turned, searching the crowd of blossom admirers for the movement. Her brows moved into a frown as soft green eyes fell on the dark figure of a ghost. He looked as out of place amongst the pale blossoms as a bear would look in a colony of honey bees. Taller than the natives around him, and dressed in regal, medieval garb that was only now worn in theatrical plays, he was a man out of time and out of place. Though, it wasn’t the unsettling wrongness of his appearance that had Lucia pushing herself to her feet in a second. No, it was the familiarity of his face, the way the deceased soul’s gaze seemed to pin Lucia to the spot, as if he had sought her out from the beyond.

xxx The goblin took a step forward, a jolt of fear racing down her spine. “It cannot be…” She thought, wishing the distance were less so that she could be more sure, even as she wished to be miles away and safe from the soul’s eerie glare. She strained her eyes, even as a crowd of young Japanese temporarily blocked her view. Lucia took another half step forward, only to stop as the crowd passed and where the ghost had been, was nothing. He was gone, like a mirage teasing the goblin with images of her past. Had it been him? Or had the events of the previous day caused her to remember the less fortunate parts of her mortal life?

xxx Luciana took a shuddering breath, her hand instinctively flying to her neck where her fingers traced across the jewels that clung to her skin. She remembered the necklace tightening, the memory of the hand that had ended her life stark in her mind as she stared at the empty spot where he had just stood. But no, that was centuries ago. No ghost could last for that long. She forced her shoulders to relax, let her legs buckle as she regained her seat. It had been her mind, nothing else. She was safe.

Setting

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Luciana de Silva Character Portrait: Marlon Page Character Portrait: Minako Character Portrait: Wyatt Costanza
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xxxxA head of blonde curls shifted, shuffling beneath the warm cocoon of blankets. Early morning sun filtered through blinds, painting the bed in horizontal beams of light. The figure beneath the sheets wriggled slightly, distorting the bands of light as a disgruntled groan left his lips.

xxxx “Go away” Came the muffled cry, directed at the intruding light that had woken the blonde prematurely. With a grunt, Marlon’s slim hand reached from beneath the protective collection of blankets and searched blindly for his second pillow. His fingers brushed against the pillow cover, clutched at the soft cushion, and pulled it quickly over his blanket covered head, attempting to block out all light entirely.

xxxxIt didn’t do much, and within a minute Marlon was pushing blankets and pillows aside to draw in a breath of fresh air. He squinted at the obtrusive sunlight, as if glaring at it would somehow make the light disappear and enable Marlon to return to sleep. Yet, surprisingly, it did nothing, and with another pout, Marlon pushed himself out of bed.

xxxxA curse escaped his lips as his foot banged against something – a textbook – and then he had to wobble on one foot as he clasped the tender toes. Eventually, without maiming himself further, Marlon made it to his door. Breakfast was eaten standing in the kitchen, a bowl of cereal and milk while Marlon danced from foot to foot on the cold tiles.

xxxxThe apartment he shared with Wyatt was small, a given in a dense city like Tokyo, but it was comfortable and close to everything they needed. The kitchen-living room-dining room was cosy and filled with their shared items. Sheet music littered the coffee table, mixed in with his university assignments. Marlon knew he should probably take a look at them at some point today, but his hands were itching, and as he turned to stash the cereal bowl in the dishwasher, Marlon already knew that he’d be heading to the university’s music rooms for a morning practice.

xxxxThat’s where the blonde found himself an hour later, ‘tinkling the ivories’ as one old pianist used to say. He moved through an easy Beethoven piece, twisted his fingers around Liszt, and had begun a set by a local artist when thoughts of the previous day truly hit him. Marlon had been deliberately trying to keep his mind off the suddenly appearing monk, Jiangyu, both because thinking of those abs was distracting, and because he wasn’t entirely sure that his encounter with the monk hadn’t been some figment of his imagination… albeit an imagination that somehow incorporated Wyatt and a hot chocolate and…

xxxx “I wonder where he went last night.” Marlon mumbled to himself as he stood, shuffling through his music idly as he replayed Jiangyu’s exit at the café. It was as if Marlon had blinked and suddenly the departing monk had vanished as he’d passed through the door. Perhaps Marlon had merely missed him disappearing into the crowds outside. Marlon readily admitted that his eyesight was slightly impaired thanks to hours staring at piano music, but surely not bad enough that he’d mistake a man stepping through a door for completely disappearing?

xxxxMarlon gave his practice another attempt, but every note struck was accompanied by a reminder of the previous day’s oddities, and eventually Marlon gave it up for a lost cause. Packing up, the young man left the university, phone in hand as he brought up the contact information for Wyatt.

xxxTo Wyatt,
xxxxxxI’m heading to the cherry blossom festival at Ueno Park. Meet up if you’re free?


xxxxHe wanted to get Wyatt’s opinion on Jiangyu, after his friend had had a chance to sleep on it. But, until he made contact with his roommate, Marlon would entertain himself at the cherry blossom festival. He’d not been to one before, having arrived in Japan too late for them last year. Yet, at the advice of several local friends, Marlon was not about to miss them this year. So as midday passed Marlon set his feet towards a bus stop, from where public transport would deliver him right to Kan'ei-ji Temple’s doorstep.

xxxxThere were already crowds streaming in and out of the temple, young children pulling happily on their parents’ hands or couples clutching at flower souvenirs. Marlon only hesitated slightly, checking his phone reflexively for a reply from Wyatt, before slipping his phone into his pocket and stepping forth.

xxxxA skewer of delicious takoyaki found its way into Marlon’s hands at the exchange of some money, his tongue licking some of the sauce into his mouth.

xxxx “Urgh, yes.” Marlon said in English, his taste buds happy as he savoured the treat. The pianist’s feet pulled him along with the crowd, hazel eyes rising to take in the pink ceiling of blossoms. While he was usually drawn instead to thriving bars and clubs with music that made your ears ring the next day, Marlon had to admit that there was a certain appeal to the slower paced events like this. The sakura was beautiful, and the takoyaki was mouth-watering.

xxxxMarlon’s phone was pulled out again, his thumb tapping through his apps before arriving at snapchat. Extending his arm, Marlon smiled, held his remaining octopus balls up in frame, and took the photo. He added a smiley face emoji and typed a quick ‘When in Japan’ in the text bar before adding it to his story. Now everyone would see how much fun he was having. Except…

xxxxBiting his lip, Marlon glanced around. He wanted a better photo, but with only an arm of limited length, he would need help to take it. His eyes darted to a group of young college aged men joking with each other, but despite the way his eyes lingered on one’s full lips and dimpled smile, he discounted the youths and instead landed on a pair of women beneath one of the cherry blossom trees. The smaller woman was dressed in a kimono, delicate and small, she could as easily have looked at home in the Japan of centuries ago. She appeared to be offering the other women, who was clearly not of Japanese descent, a bite of her festival snack. Stumbling over to the pair, Marlon plastered a friendly smile on his face and waved with his free hand to grab their attention.

xxxx “Konnichiwa,” Marlon said in Japanese, “Would you be able to take a photo of me, please?”

xxxxHe held his phone out hopefully, having flicked the device from snapchat to his phone camera. Who knew, if the photo was any good he could plaster a filter over top and upload it to Instagram. That’s what technology was for, after all. Though, as Marlon’s gaze drifted between the two women, he began to wonder if he’d accidentally walked into a conversation best left alone. The woman seated on the root, whose smooth olive skin made Marlon want to ask what cleansing routine she followed, seemed particularly unsettled. Shit, he should have asked the dimpled college boy.

xxxx A tug on his pants momentarily drew Marlon's gaze from the two women, down to a young child who was holding aloft the thin wire of a sparkler.

xxxx “Uh, arigatō." He thanked the child as he took the offered sparkler,
holding the tip towards the adult hovering behind the child who held a lighter. Another thank you left his lips as the handheld firework caught alight, before Marlon leaned in to blow out the flame flickering at the top. The red flame disappeared, replaced with the white crackling sparkles, and Marlon once again smiled and thanked the kind child before the kid and adult left to find another soul to gift their sparklers too.

xxxx “Um, do you think you could take a photo of me still? With this?" Marlon asked the two woman, waving the sparkler in his hand at the same time.

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