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Weather Girls

The Chrysanthemum

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a part of Weather Girls, by The_Queen.

None

The_Queen holds sovereignty over The Chrysanthemum, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

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The Chrysanthemum is a part of Weather Girls.

2 Characters Here

Elise von Hresvelg [625] "Hide away from the light, the rain is the only refuge."
Winter Matsuri [625] As gentle as the falling snow.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Elise was still sitting in her wheelchair, wiggling her toes a little as she finished telling the story. It really was an odd miracle and mercy that Kore was willing to break the rules to that extent to bring Ezra back in the same way Elise was. You could see if you looked closely, Ezra too now had those white horns on his head. The black eagle fully planned on abusing that the next time she could. He tormented her enough thanks to her horns, but now he would get a taste of his own medicine. Well, not yet, because Winter and the others were still around. This would be for later tonight, in the bedroom. "It was close. It is still hard for me to move my legs." She had used up a lot of energy in that fight. Maybe her form here in the Boundary was starting to remember the constraints she was bound by in the real world now.

Still, she hugged Winter back, wondering what news Winter had for the rest of them. Winter began to speak, an intriguing offer was made. Everyone was going to have the chance to become an Heir, as thanks for their work in saving Olympia from Arke and her sycophants. The same people who had made the Doctor the person he was, creating havoc and nearly destroying the Near Shore, if it was not for the Vassals. Twice now they had proven their mettle as worthy soldiers. Now Winter was offering a reward for each one of them. The black eagle could only wonder what kind of Heir she would be. The Heir of Judgement to look down on others like Oliver said she always did? The Heir of being smarter than everyone? She frowned, realizing that she was not the kind of person with many good qualities to exemplify the way Winter did. She did not deserve anything she had - it was all luck.

The fortune of being born into wealth and splendor. The fortune of being born to a woman with the funds to give her the best genetic modifications anyone can afford. Enhancing her looks, enhancing her mind, making her as perfect as perfect could be. Unlike everyone else, Elise was the least deserving of all the Vassals. So why was the offer extending to her as well? She observed as Mercedes and Oliver exchanged uncomfortable looks - both having responsibilities back at the Chrysanthemum to consider. Carter was a mixture of excitement and guilt. "But Claude..." Carter murmured, putting his hands in the pockets of his tunic. Claude was going to be abandoned and left behind if they all accepted Winter's suggestion.

Serenity was the first to accept, earning her title as the Heir of the Dawn. Her hair was dyed lavender in the real world, yet somehoe projected as the same hue here, was definitely always something that made Elise at least a little bit confused. She looked enthusiastic. Ezra was the next one to accept the offer, grinning from ear to ear. "See, El? You worry too much." About life, about death. He wanted her to get rid of her hesitations and her reluctance. He wanted them to be truly together again, instead of having this strange in-the-middle relationship that was difficult to truly define and place.

It made sense though. Ezra and Serenity had the least reasons for wanting to stay around on Earth. There was nothing to hold them back from taking the plunge to a new kind of life. But the others were not as ready, not as prepared. "I think we need some time to think about it." Oliver said in a quiet voice. "...We all have affairs to consider that we can't just up and abandon." Mercedes nodded, her eyes narrowed. "Can we go back to settle things and then decide?" She asked. "I don't want to leave any regrets behind if I end up taking up the offer."

"What would we all be?" Elise asked quietly, looking directly at Winter. "What would we be the Heirs of?" Maybe knowing that would help contribute to their decision one way or another. Ezra seemed impatient, wanting Elise to answer but she was still unsure. Perhaps she was naturally a cautious person. "I should say yes, Winter." It made perfect sense to. "But for some reason I am still unsure." Hopefully she could figure it out before the wedding, the date of which was racing at them closer and closer. Elise offered a tiny smile her friend's way. "I will probably say yes. Perhaps I just require a little more time to think about it."

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"I understand your hesitations," after all, becoming an Heir was no simple task. It meant that there were now responsabilities on your shoulders that you may have expected. "Take your time in deciding," Winter's smile was gentle, her hands folded in her lap. "Elise, you would be the Heir of Luck," she looked at Carter, Mercedes, and Oliver. Winter had a feeling that they would turn it down. She would not be sad, after all, she would understand. They had fulfilling lives back on Earth. Since Winter had chosen to bring her physical body to the Boundary, she would not be able to return. Nothing had gone according to plan, but it rarely ever did. "Oliver, you would be the Heir of Truth. Carter, you would be the Heir of Sand, since your Retainer was loyal to Arke and passed during the battle. Mercedes, you would be the Heir of Arms."

There came a knock at the door, Winter rose, knowing who it was. "Well, that's all the time I have for now. The wedding will be in a week from now, you're all free to stay here until after it, regardless of whether or not you make your decision by then." Nemia poked her head inside. "Lady Winter, it's time." Winter nodded, "I'm coming." She turned to Elise then, "If you want to work on rebuilding the Portal Generator, that room is still open for you to use." She took her leave then, Carter running after her. "I'll go with you!" She nodded, "Alright." He fell into step alongside her. "You seem... different somehow," Carter mentioned as they walked. "What do you mean?" Winter blinked, slowing down.

"Lighter, I think. The first time we met, I thought, "Wow, I can see the weight sitting on that girl's shoulders. Now, it's almost like you're free." Winter shook her head, "I never got rid of that burden, I just found people I could share it with." He paused as she pushed open the tall doors to a room. There were several people waiting inside for her. The sun fell like a halo around her golden hair, she strode into the space as though she owned it. Carter could recall how shy Winter used to be, how she had avoided everyone, but they had insisted on gathering around her. Now, it seemed that much had changed. She was not afraid anymore and more people flocked around her for it. "Lady Winter, what color scheme would you like to go with for the coronation ceremony?"

"Purple and gold," she replied, taking a seat. "Excellent choice," Carter stood beside her. The others had always been smarter than him, he had been riding on life based on charm alone. His looks had gotten him everything, good standing, a modeling contract. He was not smart like Elise or Oliver. He had no battle instinct like Mercedes or Ezra. He was not afraid of change, like Serenity. They spent almost two hours in that room, Carter watching as Winter made decisions like flowers and music. She was planning this coronation on her own, as was expected of her. "How can you stand it?" Carter asked once it was over and Winter rose to leave. "Stand what?" Winter asked, uncertain as to what he meant. "Being called Lady, having to make all of these choices. How do you know you're going to make the right ones?"

Winter turned to face him, was it his imagination, or was there pity on her face? Footsteps sounded behind them. Winter was never alone, she was always surrounded by others. He grabbed her hand, pulling her out to the garden through one of the open doors. "Carter!" He ran, tugging her wrist, towards the large maze in the center. "Come on!" She stumbled after him, losing a shoe. He ran faster, diving into the bushes, taking her with him. She landed on top of him, breathing hard. "What is with you!" She rolled off of him, that's right, she was engaged. She would be married in a week to a man that Carter wasn't sure he liked. "You're different here."

"Of course I am!" She rose, flinging her other shoe. "And you're still the same child from two years ago!" He sat up, staring at her, the sun shining down on her. For two years, he had stood in the same place, trying to progress, but feeling stuck. "I waited for you," he said quietly and she stopped walking. "I waited for you until I couldn't wait any longer. That date... we were supposed to go to the movies together, remember?" She turned to face him. "Carter, I never said yes." He froze, the weight of her words striking him. "I never liked you the way you liked me." He laughed suddenly, "You were too good for me, anyway. Too good for Oliver too, that no good snake." He propped himself up on his elbows. "You've moved on and I'm still stuck."

"I was forced to move on," she hugged herself. "You could have taken us with you," he reached out, trying to take her hand, but she stepped away from him. "No, I couldn't have. It's been two years and you still don't understand," her eyes glowed. How could he be so stupid? "I'm not a human Carter. My Mother might be, but my Father is an Heir. I'm an Heir, I never belonged in the Chrysanthemum in the first place."

It was how Merlin and the Doc knew who she would be born to. They could detect the energy levels on earth. Zoku had spilled the beans to Merlin and Winter's Mother had been killed as a result. Her Grandparents had done their best to raise her, they had never met her Father, but they knew that from her eyes, she was not of earthly descent.


Purple was not a natural eye color.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







It was irrational. It was foolish. But Elise simply could not shake away that feeling in her stomach that continued to persist and haunt her, that threatened to strike her soul if she dared ask for too much. Ezra and Serenity, the two new Heirs, were taken in to talk to Zeus about their new responsibilities and duties now that they were Heirs and welcomed fully to Olympian society. Not only were they being made heirs, but they all would be Major Heirs, instant access to the normally hidden city of Olympia. Was that just how thankful Zeus was? Was that just how much he realized he owed them for coming to save them from Arke and her kiln? Sure, there were losses. Iris was the most significant casualty. But like the Chrysanthemum, Olympia would have to rebuild and wrap their wounds, searching for a new day.

The Heir of Fortune. Did Elise really deserve being made an Heir? Being able to stand on the same level as the rest of them? The black eagle did not know as she waited for Ezra to return back to the meeting hall. Carter ran off with Winter to talk to her, and Oliver, Mercedes, and Elise found themselves awkwardly staring at each other. None of them were particularly social creatures. Elise was standoffish and cruel, Oliver had a tough shell about him, and Mercedes was harsh and serious, tempered by the hard times she survived. Somehow Oliver and Mercedes joined Winter at the window as she watched from her wheelchar as Servants and Heirs both worked to clean the Golden City, rebuilding the damage caused by Arke to try to restore the city to it's former beauty and glory.

"So, Elise, why don't you want to be an Heir?" Oliver pulled the knife out of his proverbial bag, going right to the crux of the issue. Elise glanced at him, as if trying to ask why he wanted to talk to her about this. "I do not feel that I deserve to." She replied honestly, turning back to the glass pane overlooking the streets below. "Everything I accomplished was due to luck. My money. My appearance. My intelligence. None of it was because I earned it, or because I fought for it. I was simply lucky." She did not have to try. Even when taking chances, most of the time she ended up successful. A deep well of self-resentment was growing inside of her as she realized just how unworthy she was. "Who cares if you deserve something? You'll regret it if you don't take it now." Mercedes said simply, going back to her corner by the potted plant.

Elise glanced back at Oliver. It was clear he wanted to say something. "Mercedes is right. Winter is too. Elise, you're trying to die, aren't you?" The black eagle frowned at him, her ruby eyes narrowed into slits. "What do you mean?" Oliver nudged a finger her direction. "You need the Underworld to survive, but Kore kicked you out. You'll disappear within two weeks, and won't even have a chance to reincarnate. What are you punishing yourself for?" What was she...? Was there anything? "The way I see it, you'll die if you don't become an Heir. So why? Why do you want to die?"

Did she really? Elise flinched, having not thought of it that way. "I do not. That would be absurd." After fighting so hard to live, why would she want to die? "Then it's simple. You don't want to die. So you'll accept Winter's offer." It was not often Elise was manipulated by others. But maybe this was the first time anyone was able to do that to her. "...What about you? Why are you two holding back?" Oliver sighed then, as if knowing he would be asked. "When there was a crisis, and us children were made into Vassals, we were stuck in a city that wanted to control and hurt us. We were scared little children that didn't know left from up."

It was a terrible situation for children to be placed into. It was lucky that they were all talented individuals with the power to rise above the trauma to fight and struggle to the end. "The next time there's crisis, I want the Chrysanthemum to be prepared to help and support the next children made into Vassals. I feel like it's my duty to the next generation, to stay behind and build." A noble goal. It suited someone like Oliver. "If you explain it to Winter, she will understand." What about Mercedes? Why did she want to stay behind? "Well, obviously I want to help protect what we fought to create." Mercedes's response was very blase. "We saved the Chrysanthemum from disaster, and weeded out the bad people. Is it so bad to want to make sure all of that suffering was for nothing?" She would fight to eliminate further evil, and Oliver would shape a better future.

One thing was certain. "Well, we have all come to a decision. Let us go and inform Winter so she does not have to wait on her answer."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"What are you two doing?" Zed asked, standing over them. "It's my fault," Winter rose. "No, it's mine." Carter replied, "I'm sorry, I promise I wasn't doing anything indecent to your bride." Carter stood, standing toe-to-toe with Zed. "But let it be known, I don't like you."

"Carter!"

"No, it has to be said Winter. This guy hasn't proven to any of us that he's worthy of you. He's just taken you away and you expect us to let him do it?"

"Yes Carter, I do." Winter replied slowly, "because I love him."

"W-well I don't! So fight me, Mr. Zed!" Winter's eyes widened. "Do you want to die?" She asked, her brow twitching. "No, I'll fight him Winter, it's alright. I'll go easy on him," Carter punched the air. "Zed," she turned towards him. "I guess I have no choice," he sighed. "You can say no, he's just being an idiot." Zed shook his head, "If this is what it takes to earn the approval of your friends, come on," he took Winter's hand, leading them out of the hedge maze and to a clear spot in the garden. "Just to give you an advantage, I won't use my powers." Zed took off his jacket and unbuttoned his shirt a bit. Winter sighed, choosing a spot in the grass. "On the count of three. One... two... three," Winter dropped a handkerchief. Carter charged in, throwing a kick. Zed blocked it with his hand, countering with a punch.

Carter ducked underneath it, going for an uppercut, but Zed moved out of the way, kicking Carter in the stomach. He flew back several feet, but took it surprisingly well. Carter tried another flying kick, but Zed grabbed his leg, tossing him easily. He landed on his feet, running at Zed with a punch, but Zed grabbed his fist and flipped the momentum against him, Carter landing on his back. He grunted, getting back up. "You should have stayed down," Winter muttered, weaving blades of grass together as she watched. "Don't be stupid, I never know when to quit." He wiped his mouth, going at it again. Zed tossed him once more, Carter landing on his back. This happened three times before he groaned, "Had enough?" Zed asked, not having broken a sweat.

"No!" Carter rose slowly, Winter could tell he was sore. "I'll never give up, because even if you say something like you never belonged on earth, you're wrong!" Winter sat still in the grass, Zed looking at Carter strangely. "Because you belong with us! Even if you say you're an Heir, to me, you'll always be Winter Matsuri!" Winter rose slowly, her hands balling into fists. "Carter you-"

"I accept!" He began to glow, becoming the Heir of Sand. He rose, his wounds from his fight with Zed healed. "You idiot!" She tossed ran in the opposite direction, back towards the house. "Winter!" Zed ran after her. Carter fell, sitting back in the grass. "You really blew it this time," Serenity said, sitting down in the grass beside him. He nodded, watching as the man the girl he had loved had chosen, chase after her. "Winter, what is it? What's wrong?" Zed asked, catching up to her. He grabbed her wrist, stopping her from running away. He swept her off of her feet, tears welling up in her eyes once more. "I don't understand," she sobbed into his shoulder as he carried her away from view and to his room. "I don't understand Carter at all." He placed her down on the couch and smoothed the hair out of her eyes.

"Winter, did you like Carter?"

"No, I hate that idiot!" He nodded, smiling. "But your heart?" She swiped at her eyes, "It's not him," she reassured Zed. "I hated my time on earth, I realized that I never liked it there, but... the people that made my time there worth it... the people that I hold dear to my heart... they're going to go their separate ways again." Once Winter married Zed, once the coronation happened, her place here would be cemented.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







It was almost pathetic to watch as Carter made his outburst, his desire to keep on pining for Winter, even though it was hopeless. Oliver watched as Carter lost to Zed over and over, knocked away. Mercedes's eyes were smoldering and Oliver seemed sympathetic. Mercedes moved to help Carter up but Oliver took her arm, pulling her back, his other arm steady on the handles of Elise's wheelchair. "What? He's getting beat up for no reason!" Mercedes growled, a fierce protectiveness in her eyes. "Helping him would shame him more than losing to Zed would." Oliver said quietly, turning away to give Carter at least a little bit of dignity. "Is there a reason why you are not acting like Carter is?" Elise queried, looking up at Oliver. "You also love Winter."

Oliver sighed, a rare smile on his serious expression. "Yes, I do. But loving Winter is not the only thing that I value. The Chrysanthemum is important. Building a good, better society is even more important. I don't have time to worry about romance with so many lives on my shoulders." As expected of someone who was the secret President behing the President, the man in charge of the Chrysanthemum. "Hopefully that oaf get's in into his-" Mercedes started but then was startled as Carter made his proclamation. Power surged through him and he made the impossible decision. "Why?" Elise asked again, narrowing her eyes at the foolish man. "He had such a successful life. He was a celebrity. He had girls dreaming of being with him." Why would he give up on all of that for Winter? "Carter doesn't really understand yet what it means to have a greater purpose." Oliver's face was thoughtful. Carter mostly just floated around while the others fought. He did not have a reason to fight - and found his reason in his friends, rather than anything else. "Someone like him doesn't understand there's bigger things than just relationships." In a way, Carter had grown the least of all of them.

But now he made an irreversible decision. He could never return to the life he had built on the Near Shore. Carter ran past them, back towards the house so Oliver pushed Elise forward, Mercedes walking by her side. Elise waved her hand at Winter, doing her best to ignore Carter's situation. They had decisions to report after all. "Mercedes and I chose not to accept. I'm sorry, Winter." Oliver held his hand out to shake Winter's. "But I want to make sure the next time that Vassals are chosen, that the Chrysanthemum is in a position to help and support them instead of manipulate and use them." He did not want he next children to suffer the way this generation had. "We fought so hard to save the Chrysanthemum." Mercedes hooked a wicked smile. "I won't let anyhing threaten the peace we made." She would give her life on the front lines to make sure nothing else could hurt the city. "Sorry, Winter. We love you, and we always will. But there's something we have to do that is greater than us." They had purposes in life. They know what they were born for.

A luxury Elise had a feeling she would never truly have.

It was time for Elise to reveal her own situation then. "I do not deserve to be an Heir." The doubts were coming back again. Her eyes locked in with Winter's own, ruby and amethyst locked together. "All of my assets were because of other people, or other circumstances, rather than my own." Genetic enhancements. Money. Fame. She worked for none of that, yet it was handed it to her on a silver platter. "But if I do not accept, I will die." She had a time limit due to her unique body and form, as an actual corpse that was reanimated. "...I do not want to die. So even if I may not be worthy, I will still accept my role as the Heir of Fortune." She felt an odd power go through her. On one hand, she wanted to reject it, but on the other, she felt it belonged to he regardless. "You will not have to mourn me again, Winter." No doubt Ezra would jump for joy at the news as well.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




A bit after Winter had managed to calm down, she emerged from Zed's room, holding his hand. The others were waiting for her in the parlor, Carter sitting glumly in the corner, sipping tea. Winter turned towards the others, they had come to a decision. "That was fast," she smiled, but she could already tell what their answers were going to be based on their expressions. Carter had been stupid to accept it, Winter thought. He was not emotionally or mentally prepared to be an Heir, he had taken it on a whim. Still, his decision could not be reversed. It would be up to her to teach him, Ezra, and Serenity what it was like to be an Heir. In a sense, she was selfish. She was happy that some of her friends were staying here, that a few of the people she cared about the most would never leave her. Was she a terrible person for it? Winter wasn't sure.

"I'm glad you've accepted Elise, I don't want you to disappear." She did not want to have to mourn her friend again. No doubt Ezra would be happy too, when he came back from wherever he and Serenity had gone. They were familiar with Olympia, having been here before with Zoku, so Winter did not find it unusual that they had ventured outside of the gates of Zed's home. "What do you mean, don't deserve to be an Heir?" Winter furrowed her brow. "Of course you deserve to be one, just because you were born lucky, doesn't mean you didn't work hard." Winter had, had none of the same benefits the others had after her Grandparents died. She did not have a warm, loving family to return to. She did not have a Mother to cook for her, or a Father to help her up when she fell down.

But she had her Grandparents and she wouldn't have wanted anything else. "You deserve every bit of this," she said softly as Elise's glow faded. She turned towards the other two, "I figured that would be your answer." She had not expected Oliver or Mercedes to accept. Then again, she had not expected Carter to either. They could not leave yet, of course, not until the portal generator was fixed. "Lady Winter, Master Zed," Nemia poked her head through the door. "Dinner is ready," Zed nodded. "Well, now that you're awake, we can all eat together." She nodded, taking Zed's hand. "Let's all go enjoy dinner," she turned to Elise. "Do you think you'll be able to eat normal food now?" She smiled, "It's no Cynthia, but Zed's staff make a wonderful roast beef."

Winter sat beside her fiancee, feeling oddly whole as the others placed themselves in seats around the table. That night, Winter fell asleep quickly, her body still healing from having to be healed twice in large amounts. While she had fallen asleep quickly, her mind wandered in her sleep.

"Winter Matsuri has been found not guilty." She breathed out a sigh of relief, her hands shaking. They had been gripping the table so hard. Her lawyer gave her a hug, happy for her. She was just a child, a little girl, sitting in a large court room, waiting to be sentenced. "I'll see you on the other side," Winter nodded. She felt dizzy with relief as she was ushered out of the court room by two police officers. "Your clothes," she was given clothing to change into, a plain white shirt and loose fitting pants. "Winter Matsuri?" She nodded as she wheeled herself to the gate, "All of your belongings are in this bag." It was a ziplock bag, containing what she had been arrested with. A purse that looked like a teddy bear, colorful hair pins, and a broken camera that printed out photos as soon as you took them. "Is this everything?" She asked, her voice a small squeak. "That's all of it." The warden confirmed, pressing the buzzer. Winter wheeled herself out and into the sunshine.

She closed her eyes and looked up, wondering what happened next. She was supposed to wait here for her lawyer. "Ms. Matsuri, I presume?" A man approached her. He had a round stomach and glasses perched on the edge of his nose. "That's me," she said quietly, shifting in her chair. "My name is Doctor Now, I work for the Chrysanthemum." He knelt down to offer a hand, which Winter took. Was he a social worker? She wondered. "I'm not supposed to talk to anyone without my lawyer," she squeaked, wondering what she was supposed to do. "That's alright, your lawyer sent us in her stead. You see, you're a very special girl Winter and because of that, you're going to a very special home." Her new home? Already? He gestured behind him, a man taking the handles of her wheelchair.

"Wait, where are we going?" Winter asked, panicked. She did not see the body of her lawyer, being disposed of. "You're going to be staying in a very nice place, made just for you." There were bars on the window of the car, Winter was being taken from one prison, right to another. "No," she whimpered, lashing out at the man pushing the wheelchair. "No!" Ice spread out from underneath her, the chair falling. She tumbled down the stairs, attempting to get to her feet. One of her legs dragged behind her as she hobbled, trying to run away. "Oh my, it seems you're a runner. Well, we'll take care of that."

"No! I don't want to go with you!"

"No!" Winter bolted upright in bed, panting. "Winter?" The door propped open, light coming in from the hallway. "It's me," she could feel the weight of Zed beside her, crawling into bed. He hugged her in his arms, Winter leaning her head against his chest. "Another nightmare?" He asked, kissing her head. "Yes, I thought they had stopped... but I guess I was wrong."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







What kind of person would she be if she were born someone else? A different mother, with no money, no resources, no genetic enhancements. No fortune or fame. Who would she have been? Would she have even been able to become a Vassal? A Servant? The black eagle did not know, curling up on her bed as she tried to decipher everything. Winter said she deserved it. But Winter was a kind person who thought well of her. "Perhaps I just need time." Time to learn to accept herself. All of this fighting forced her to come to terms with who she was. A cold, analytical person. Unfriendly, anti-socal. Not kind at all, especially compared to Winter. Was she somewhat of a freak? She certainly was not like the others.

"You're the Heir of Fortune." Zeus had told her before dinner yesterday after the debacle of Carter and Winter. "Now you have new and unique duties to uphold. You're no stranger to Olympia, so we can get right to discussion your new identities." Zeus looked over the other new Heirs, guaging each and every one of them. The Heir of Sand. Courage. Dawn. All wonderful, beautiful things. Fortune was nice too, a good concept. But deep down it made Elise hollow. "You former humans showed great dignity and honor in protecting not only your world, but ours as well. We all thank you and expect more of the same going into the future. Your good characters are why you earned the privelege of becoming an Heir and standing equally with all of us." Carter had a strange fire in his eye. Ezra pumped his fist, eager to get the meeting over with. Serenity listened with rapt attention, a new sparkle to her pretty lavender locks.

All wonderful, worthy people. All capable of embracing their new identities with grace. Strong, strong hearts, strong minds, forged of their own wills. They had a lot to speak for them. What was it like? To be self assured in your worth? To know you have value and to truly believe it? "Impossible." Elise murmured, getting up. Her legs were her own. Her body belonged to no one but herself. Still, she had not been able to eat much of anything during the dinner. In the heat of the moment it was easy to know what had to be done. What needed to be done. But after the fact, after victory was attained, guilt could mire, stir, stew on her mind, eating and gnawing away at the shaky foundations of sanity. What was left? What was left? How was she expected to know that kind of answer?

The sound of the night insects singing to each other was certainly something as she walked, barefoot, around the palace. Would she have a palace of her own one day? It was strange to consider, definitely. Cruel. She did not accept Jasmine, even to the end. Ruthless. How many lost their lives because she let a dragon loose in a zone where countless civilians lived? How much blood was on her soul forever? Hades had judged her a sinner. Was he really wrong? Elise looked into the abyss, gazing with her blood red eyes. What looked back at her? Whatever it was, she knew she did not like the image she saw reflecting back at her. A part of her expected Ezra's arms to wrap around her. "What are you thinking so much for? Just live for the moment!" He might have said, if he were here, and not fast asleep on the couch in a different wing of the Palace.

Elise shook her head, sitting down by the flowers. No, her mental struggles was simply a new battlefield, one that only she had the right to fight in. "Hypocrite." Garrel Lawson might have said, had he been alive. "You were kind to me, you made me love you, and then you reject me in the end? You love that commoner before me?" She almost laughed, wondering if Garrel was even capable of thought anymore. How far in Hell was he? Elise did not know, but it was far beyond her now. "I expect the same dignity and honor." Zeus told them all. He wanted them to be good. To be worthy. To matter.

Insane. A fake. A mask, hiding emptyiness behind the plastic. What was she, really? "I will go back to bed." She said quietly, sighing. She had heard theories about this. About how conflict can affect the mind. Some learn to thrive in it, like Ezra. Some only pretend to be strong when it ends like Carter. Others coast through strong and well, like Serenity. Others grow up far too quickly, like Oliver. Not everyone can come out whole. Not everyone can come out fine. "Oh well." She would not burden anyone else with it. She was still stuck in the war, but it was now in her mind instead of any physical sense.

"Good morning." Elise said with a small, quiet smile. Ezra looked at her, grinning from ear to ear. "Winter's gonna show us the ropes. I'm so glad you decided to become an Heir too. We're going to have a long time together, aren't we?" He was so happy. Did he know? Did he see? "It will certainly be exciting." Elise nodded, taking his hand, finding a comfortable nook in his palm for her to fit her own hand. "I am very excited to learn all there is to learn about this new role." Ezra nodded, squeezing her hand in his. "Good to hear! You're never excited about much, but there's some life in you yet. Try to eat more though, alright? Zeus says you can eat food normally now." Her stomach twisted on knots. Food still tasted awful. "I will try." She nodded. "I can smell it already. Let us go meet the others."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




She drummed her fingers against the surface of the water, always playing something. " Lady Winter, the others are waiting for you at breakfast." Nemia called through the door. "Alright," she stood up in the tub, water rushing down her body as she stepped out of the bath. "Just one minute," she wrapped a towel around herself, exiting the bathroom. "Let's begin," she sat in her usual seat, the ladies rushing around her to prepare her for breakfast. She crossed her legs, her hair brushed out. It was long, since she had brought her human body here and her human body had gone without a haircut for quite some time now. "Elegance, Jezza." Nemia clucked her tongue, "Lady Winter is going to rule Olympia soon, she must always look the picture of perfection." Just like Iris, never a hair out of place.

"Cut it off," Winter said suddenly. "What do you mean?" Jezza asked, having just finished placing a pin in Winter's hair. "Cut if all off," she grabbed a pair of scissors from the desk, "Lady Winter, no!" Nemia grabbed them from her. "At least wait until after the wedding," she said gently, placing them just out of reach. "I'm not a child Nemia," it felt suffocating, to have this much hair. "Iris would have wanted to see your hair long," was she attempting to guilt Winter? She leaned back in the chair, allowing Jezza to fit the the pins she had arranged in it. At last, Winter was dressed and she joined the others at the table for breakfast. "Good morning," she took her seat beside Zed and leaned over to receive his kiss. "Good morning my red rose, you look as beautiful as ever." She blushed and looked down at her plate.

Carter glared from his seat, stabbing his fork into his breakfast. "Sore loser," Serenity snickered beneath her breath. "So, what are you gonna teach us today, Lady Winter?" Ezra asked, throwing quotation marks around the word "lady." Winter's grip on her fork tightened. Zed noticed, sneaking a hand over to place it on top of her own. "There's a lot to learn," she had received lessons first-hand, from Iris. The politics of Olympia, the ettiquette that an Heir was expected to follow. Lessons about the hierarchy in the Boundary, about spirit animals, and about an Heir's duties to the humans. "I have to head off now, but I'll be back soon." Zed rose, putting on his coat. "Bye, I love you." She reached up to kiss him, her kiss landing on his jaw.

"Well, come on you four, let's go start." She had hardly touched her breakfast, not particularly hungry this morning. "I guess Oliver and Mercedes can come too, since they're stuck here." She took them to the garden, where it was easier to breathe and less stuffy than the parlor. "The first thing you all need to learn, is how to dress like an Heir." Winter gestured to Nemia and the Ladies, who rushed out with swathes of fabric and tape measurers. "As an Heir, you must always look your sharpest. People who look put together are put together." There was a reason, for this of course. "Heir's are higher beings, we must always convey that we are ethereal beings, so we dress in clothes that might seem extravagent to the humans."

They must have noticed it when interacting with their retainers, how the Heirs had always dressed in extravagent pieces of clothing. Some with patterns that moved, others with pins and fabric that shifted color in the light. Once their measurements were done being taken and swaths matched, the Ladies ran away, giggling to themselves. "Now, the next lesson will be about Olympian politics, since you will live in Olympia." She went into her explanation. "Olympia and the Boundary are currently ruled by Zeus, who will soon step down to make room for Zed. The Leader of Olympia is chosen, if no Heir is present, by a competition."

"What sort of competition?" Ezra asked suddenly, "Well, the last one was about two hundred years ago and it consisted of three parts. There's usually a battle of some sort, a quiz to test knowledge, and a secret quest. The winner will become the next ruler of Olympia." Winter explained, "So how long until the next one?" Carter asked, Winter shrugged. "Probably not for a few thousand years." Carter's eyes widened. "Wait, so you're engaged to an old man!" He yelled, jumping to his feet. "No, Carter, I'm not engaged to an old man. Time is relative in the Boundary, it doesn't move in a single line, like on earth." He sat back down, Serenity raising her hand next. "When do we get to test our new Heir powers?" Winter blinked. "Why would you want to test that so soon? We've barely scratched the surface."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Wallowing. Wallowing. Pathetic, it was. She used to mock people for doing the exact same as she was doing. But it was so natural. It felt so right. Was it really wallowing if it was well deserved? Was it really moping if it was simply justice? Ezra smiled at her, love in his eyes. She reflected that love back to him, nuzzling him a little as they walked to meet up wit hthe others. "I'll miss the wheelchair a little. It's nice to feel like you're relying on me." Ezra said suddenly, right outside the breakfast room. "I do. But I also enjoy walking as well." It was in her blood. Masks. Acting. Who was she? Did anyone know? "Yeah." Ezra nodded. "Let's try to get some food in you, you look a little pale." She gave him a little stare. "I always do. But I will try."

It was a failed mission and Ezra clearly disapproved as she played with her food, barely eating a single bite. He was not going to let her simply get away with that, but for now he remained silent. It was time for Winter to begin her lessons, to prepare them all for what it meant to be an Heir. Mercedes and Oliver shrugged and followed along, having nothing more important to do right now. "Might as well hang around." Oliver said. "Who knows when it'll be goodbye?" As much as they knew they had to go, it as not as if they wanted to either. They knew it would be permanent this time. They were dragging their feet. They were reluctant. "It could be fun." Mercedes snickered. "Who knows what stupidity they'll get up to when they think we're not looking?" But there was a bit of sadness in her eyes. She did not want to say goodbye yet either.

"It is okay." Elise said calmly. "I will make the Portal Generator for you two."

Winter began her lessons. She was telling them about extravagant clothes. "Can we customize them a little?" Ezra asked, nudging at Elise's shoulder. "A little someone can't stand not having her family's wings on her clothes somewhere." He was grinning as if he told a big joke. "No, it is fine." Elise rolled her eyes. "Sometimes people must grow up." She did not deserve to. Someone with the Hresvelg Wings is someone who can live with pride, head held high, facing the world knowing your place, your worth, and your value. The mess she was since the battle ended, what right did she have to wear the emblem she loved so much?

"Looking down on others. El would be good at that." Oliver snorted. Elise grinned icily at him, baring her fangs. Heirs were above the others. That was part of their job after all. But Oliver saying that was like a knife in her chest. They all thought the same, no doubt. That she was uppity, high-nosed, cruel. What did Ezra even see in her? She mentally shook her head, knowing it was useless to ponder such things. "We can practice on our own time." Elise cut in, wanting to know what else they needed to do. "What else should we know? Since these are our new jobs, we must be competent. Should we make mistakes, the other Heirs would mock you and Zeus for appoving us for these roles." If they made mistakes and messed up now, it would reflect poorly on Zeus, on Winter. "El, that's boring. Isn't fighting so much more fun?" Ezra nudged her again, shooting her a grin. Elise gave him a smile but ignored him, turning back to Winter.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter spent the entire day explaining politics to them. It was extensive and she didn't even cover it all, but had gotten down to the basics. There were three classes of Heirs, Major Heirs, Normal Heirs, and Minor Heirs. The larger the shrine, the large presence an Heir would have on earth. Major Heirs were Heirs like the Heir of the Sky, like Zeus, or the Heir of Gardens, like Zed. Minor Heirs were things like the Heir of Lost Items, or the Heir of Dogs. Then there were normal Heirs, like Winter. The Heir of Music, or Iris, who had been the Heir of Rainbows. The more important the role, the higher the standing in Olympia and in the Boundary. "Underneath all of the Heirs are the servants," servants too, came in classes. "Some are just wandering spirits that get stuck in the Boundary," some were from the Far Shore, that settled in the small villages outside of Olympia.

Then there were servants born to serve the Heirs. Dwarves, elves, nereids, selkies. They were not born into servitude, per say, but usually sought indentured servitude in order to provide for their families, since it was a good job with plenty of benefits and fair wages. "Ugh, so much information, my head is gonna explode." Ezra complained, he had never been good at school and learning. "I think it's interesting," Serenity smiled. Winter glanced at Elise, who normally would be hanging onto every word of politics and classes. Elise, instead, seemed far off, her expression distant. Was something wrong? Winter wondered. Was she imaginging things? No, Winter saw the signs. It was the same signs she had seen in herself when Elise had died the first time and Winter had been cut off from everyone. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

It all made sense now. The lack of appetite, the disinterest in things she normally liked, a feeling of self-loathing and little self-worth. "I think that's enough for today, Zed should be home soon anyhow." Someone landed behind them, his wild red hair and bright white wings glittering in the evening light. "Fear not, Olympians, and humans, it is I, Huxley! Heir of Messangers!" He grinned, dramatic as ever. Winter took a step back, this was the first time she was really seeing him, considering she had been blind the last time they had met. He strode across the garden, his wings disappearing in a flash of light. "I have a message for you, Winter." He handed her a sealed envelope. "What is this?" She asked, peeling the seal up. "I don't know, I just deliver messages. I don't read them," he rose, taking off into the skies and disappearing in the blink of an eye.

She unfolded the letter carefully, the neat handwritting unmistakable. She would recognize those swooping, elegant curves anywhere. "Iris," but how? "I'm gonna go to my room for a bit, I'll be out for dinner." She paused to kneel down to Ezra and whisper something in his ear. "Ask Elise how she's feeling." She said before disappearing inside. If she could ask Elise herself, she would, but as much as she wanted to, she could not drop everything for her friend. Not when she had responsibilities that she could no longer shirk off. Winter closed herself off in her bedroom, sitting on the windowsill. "Iris, you never cease to amaze me," she pulled the letter out of the envelope in full, carefully reading the message, then rereading it. It was true, they had gotten along like cat and mouse, but there was something matronly about Iris that Winter could not deny. Despite her harshness, Iris had truly cared for Winter.

To my Little Lady Winter,

If you are reading this, then it must mean that I am dead. You will soon become the Leading Lady of Olympia. It is a big responsibility and I expect you to take it seriously. No more running around barefoot in the garden, or staying up until dawn playing music. Alright? A ruler needs her beauty rest and that includes you. Now, onto official business. I have entrusted this letter to you, since I can never expect the men to get anything done. Despite your... heritage, you are a woman of valor and I cannot deny you that. I should hope that I have trained you well enough for what is about to happen.

When Zed takes over Olympia, you will receive a berth of knowledge that only the Rulers have access to. I trust you to make the right decision in guarding this knowledge, as it is older than Zeus himself. You will also have access to my jewelry, I should hope that you will take full advantage on your wedding day. Remember to smile, crying will make your makeup run.

All my love,

Iris


Her tears dotted the paper, making the ink smudge slightly. "Why did you die?" She asked quietly, "I needed you to guide me. You weren't done yet." She whispered, hugging the parchment against her chest.

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







The lessons were punctuated by a mess of red hair, the Heir of Messangers was here to deliver a message for Winter. Class was over for the day and Elise suppressed a sigh. What had they been talking about? After a while she had stopped paying attention, her mind going blank and empty. What did she miss? Anger boiled within. How could she be so idiotic to drift off during lessons? This was her job, her new role in the world, she needed to take it seriously. Typical, typical, so typical for someone like her to feel this way. She stared blankly ahead, then blinked, standing up. "You all should be better at this." She criticized, hearing Ezra complain about the material. "There is no room for mistakes here." She spoke to herself, shooting daggers into her mind.

Maybe she could gather more information from the library. Would this help her catch up with everyone and keep pace? Hopefully that was the case. She tried to remember the layout for the palace then began walking. "Hey, wait!" Ezra reached for her arm, pulling her back. Elise gave him a perceptive leer, flinching at his touch. "What?" She asked, cocking a hip. Ezra blinked then held her arm tighter. "Where are you off to? Serenity and Carter were trying to talk to you." They wanted to talk to her? What for? "I am busy. I need to do research in the library." She could see it now, from the other side of the room, Serenity and Carter were peering towards her. She tightened the mask, giving Ezra a sly smile, lowering her irritability, her hostility. "What are they requesting?" Ezra seemed almost relieved. "They want to try out our new powers. To see what we can do now."

And that was how she ended up sitting down, watching Carter and Ezra spar by the gardens. "Just don't make a mess. Don't hurt the flowers. Try to clean up once you're all done." Nemia told them before giving them access to the gardens. Carter was weaving sand around his hands, launching himself at Ezra with a series of punches and strikes. Ezra took every hit, almost looking as if he was taking no damage. "Carter has his normal abilities, taken from his former Heir." Elise noted, analyzing the battle. "Ezra seems to have some sort of pain tolerance. He also seems to have extra strength." No matter what Carter did, the bruises from the whipping sand, Ezra did not even flinch. He attacked back with power, a single blow to the chest and Carter went flying into the wall. "Whoa." Ezra blinked, grinning. "That's pretty cool." Carter normally would have begun laughing, but he sat there, stewing. He was dissapointed in himself. Elise envied him. How nice it would be to be a good simple person like that.

"Are you two gonna fight too?" Ezra asked, helping Carter up who looked almost as if he wanted to hit his arm away. "Yeah." Carter brushed it off, forcing a smile. "Give us a good cat fight, show us who's boss." Elise shot them a withering glare, turning her nose up at them. "Why would we fight?" Serenity giggled. "We are more civilized than you two. We have other ways to test our abilities." Elise turned off the lights of the room, observing Serenity who put her hands together. A glow appeared in her hands, growing brighter and brighter with each second. "Similar to your old ability." She could create light, like before. "Hmm, but I still feel a little different." Serenity perused. "Hey, El? Do you want to hit me?"

So Elise gave her a light smack on the arm. In the dark, Serenity let out a yelp of pain. After turning the lamps back on she giggled, as if tickled by the impact. "Stronger during the light, weaker during the dark." Serenity nodded, as if approving. "That's pretty neat. I think I like that." Elise sighed, standing up. It was about time she - tripped and fell back on her face. "Whoa, hey! Are you okay?" Ezra cried as Serenity fumbled in trying to catch her. Elise rubbed at her nose, the black eagle grimacing in humiliation. "Fine." She muttered as a purple bee flew too close and stung her on the arm. She glared at the insect as it perished, pulling itself apart. "How unfortunate." She mumbled. So this was her power. It was far less glamorous than the rain before, or her mist. But this was her own. Could she affect others? She pointed at Ezra, and then a sprinkler went off, spraying him with water, drenching him.

Strange. It would be difficult to use in a fight. But with hope, there would not need to be more fighting. She did not want to have to realize even more just how terrible a person she was. Still not good enough. Not good like the others. Not good like Winter. How could she hope to live up to Zeus's expectations? How could she hope to be good?

"You don't belong with them, Elise." Garrel's voice echoing in her mind. He was gone, he was gone, the chip was not there anymore, they removed it but his voice was still haunting her, the shimmers of memory. "You're just like me. We're meant for each other. The war is over, and we can be together forever." He was gone. He was not controlling her anymore. She bit her lip to stop the shaking. She did not want Ezra to look at her strangely. "You okay?" He asked, puzzled. "We were talking to you." She shook her head. "Just thinking." She said, lies slipping off her tongue easily. "Of how to use this power to protect all of you." Ezra nodded, smiling, taking her hand.

"No matter what you do, or what you say, you can never escape me." Garrel's laughter bouncing off the walls in her mind.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"How are you feeling today?" He sat across from her, legs crossed, glasses perched on the tip of his nose. Winter was sitting in her wheelchair, opposite, feeling numb. "Tired," she replied. "Well, I would assume so, you haven't touched your meal tray in three days." He leaned over, pointing a temperature gun against her forehead. "A mild fever, I'm sure you're suffering from the beginnings of dehydration." He rose, looming over her. She wore a loose white gown that tied at the back and a bracelet, like in the hospital. Only this one was made of metal and no matter how much she pried, it wouldn't come off. "008, can you please escort Winter back to her room?" He nodded, stepping forward and taking her wheelchair by the handles. "Let's go," his voice was oddly chipper. She stared at her lap, her temples throbbing. "You know, if you don't eat, you're not going to grow." He taunted, opening up the door to her room with his keycard.

It was a large room that had a view of the city. There were stuffed animals sitting neatly on a shelf, as well as books and games that went untouched. "I don't care," Winter replied quietly, wheeling herself to her bed. She clambered onto the mattress, curling up as much as she could and facing the wall. "Tch, kids." 008 turned away, the door locking behind him.


Her dress swished around her as she walked down the hallway, the morning light streaming in through the large windows. Winter pivoted suddenly, stopping an oncoming attack. The sand was suspended in midair, Carter too, frozen. She sighed, releasing him and his attack. "How did you hear me coming?" He asked, "I was silent!" Winter crossed her arms. "I could feel the vibrations of your footsteps." Even after regaining her vision, Winter had noticed that she could still feel the vibrations of sounds against surfaces. Was she more in tune with her power because of what Arke had done? Winter did not know. "Where are you off to on this fine morning?" Carter asked, jogging to catch up with her. "I have an appointment on the other side of Olympia, so I'm in a hurry."

"Okay, I'll go with you."

"No," Winter replied quickly, "I have to go alone." She turned towards Carter, who seemed hurt by her rejection. "But there is something I need you to do for me," he nodded, grinning. "Anything, just ask," Winter looked around to make sure that they were alone. "Elise has been acting strange and I don't know if Ezra checked on her like I asked him to." Carter nodded, "You can definitely trust me with this, don't worry!" Winter smiled, "Thank you." She turned, meeting Zed at the door. "Ready?" He asked and she nodded, taking his hand. They walked to the carriage together, Winter sitting across from him. "Don't be nervous," he leaned over, kissing her. She smiled, "I'm not, I'm never nervous." He laughed, taking her hands. "This is a bit different than performing, I'm afraid." She nodded, "I know."

Their destination was in the mountain, what looked to be a temple, carved into the rough stone. Winter could not babysit the new Heirs everyday, she had her own duty and responsibilities. "I'll see you soon," Zed nodded, they were separated at the entrance. "Winter Matsuri, I presume?" An elf asked, dressed in white robes. "Yes, that's me." She followed the elf to a dressing room. "Remove all of your clothing and jewelry, none of it can go into the sacred pool." Winter stripped down to the nude, taking the offered robe from the elf. They walked deeper into the cave, their path illuminated by torches. Eventually, they reached a set of steps that Winter walked down alone to a glowing pool.

There were two elves waiting for her there, "hold your arms out." Winter did as told, scented oils spread onto her skin. They stepped back, gesturing to the glowing pool. Winter removed her robe, allowing it to fall to the ground. She placed one foot in, finding the water to be warm. "It's nice," she murmured, going in midway before dunking beneath the water and immediately passing out.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Many things based on fortune were under Elise's jurisdiction. Whether someoe guessed the right answer on an exam. Whether someone is late for work one day. Her job was to make sure that no one has too much good or bad luck. In that way, she was supposed to manage it so it was roughly equal for everyone. Naturally, that was a lot of work, but someone had to do it. Elise sighed, watching as a man grit his teeth, two men on the holo mocking him. "We have your kids and wife. Don't call the authorities, pal. Just wire us the money and you'll see them safe and sound." The poor man was shaking, unsure what to do. Elise could understand the conundrum. If he gave in, if he gave the money, could he be sure they would return his family? If he called for help, would they arrive fast enough to save them?

Depending on his decision, Elise would reward him. "I'll give you the money, okay? Just, let me make a call to the bank, I don't have the funds on me right now." He made a bad loan and owed these people a lot. A foolish idiot, most definitely. He ended the call, still shivering, and then made a call to the local bank, requesting a big loan. A coward. Giving in, surrendering to the enemy. Did people not know how to fight anymore? After securing his money and receiving a holocard with the funds loaded, he left his house, a gun hiddein in his pants pocket. He was going to fight. The black eagle wore a faint smile. A man after her own tastes then. Elise knew it was time to intervene then, and sent herself down to where the loan sharks were waiting, the family locked in a side room, huddling together. No one could see her, of course, because she was not truly here.

"This should suffice." She said, aiming her finger at the guns, jamming them. If the killers were to try and execute the family, they would realize their guns did not work. Elise was giving the brave man an advantage, but his victory still depended a lot on him. Could he aim his shots correctly? Could he drive fast enough to the location? Could he trust himself and his instincts to beat two men in a gunfight? Elise did not know - it was not her job to watch the conclusion. "Good luck." She whispered, and returned to her room, pulling her head out of the pool of water that connected her to the Near Shore. "What was that? You were able to see something?" Mercedes asked, glancing curiously at the pool. Elise did not even have wet hair as a result. "This connects me to cases where people make bets in desperate situations." Elise explained, sighing tiredly. "Depending on their actions, I can reward or punish them." It was one of her duties, but among the more exciting of them.

Mercy laughed a little. "Strange, but if you enjoy it, more power to you." The black eagle shot her a piercing gaze. "So why are you and Oliver still here?" Last night she made sure to fix the portal generator. Oliver and Mercedes were free to return home at any time now. "I'm waiting for Oliver to be ready." Mercy crossed her arms, an evasive look on her face. "When are you going to have your own palace? You're probably going to share it with that freak, Ezra, right?" Did she want to? It would make sense, but did she deserve that sort of life? "When Zeus decides it is time." Or Zed, once he took over.

She did not have time to keep on talking. She was about to put her head back into the pool to observe when someone pulled her arm back. "Hey, what are you two freaks doing?" Mercedes asked, not stopping them. "We need to borrow El for a second." Ezra grinned, Carter taking her other arm. Elise groaned. "Zeus is going to be angry. You two are ignoring your duties on your first day." Winter was going to be disappointed if she found out. "Don't worry." Carter sneered unpleasantly. "We only have to ask you a few questions." She did not resist as she was kidnapped out of her own room.

A voice. "How does it make you feel? Knowing how much they care about you?" Garrel asked her, a smile behind each word. Like the worst kind of person in the world, was the answer. But she did not have the will to fight back against their intervention.

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"Winter," a ghostly looking woman stood before her. Winter would recognize her anywhere. That crooked smile, that long blonde hair. Her eyes that twinkled like the stars. "Mom," Winter breathed, the woman stepping closer. She took both of Winter's hands in her own, her dress swishing around her as though they were under water. "My, look how big you've gotten and yet, you're still a tiny little thing." She touched Winter's nose, her warmth like the sun. "Is it really you?" She asked, her voice choking in her throat. "Yes, it's really me. I'm here to help you fulfill a desire that needs fulfilling," Winter nodded, following her Mother, trusting her. They walked through a dim hallway, leading out into a familiar room. Led filled her legs, her body felt so heavy, it was as though she could not move. "Why this place?" Winter asked as her Mother began to fade, "because there is something here that must be done."

The memories filled her mind, replaying in her head at lightning speed. The pain, the hatred, the overwhelming desire to die. Winter fell to her knees, palms against the floor. She wanted to vomit. She hated this place, but a voice in her mind told her that it was time to let go. A man stood before her, his shadow looming over her like a ghost of the past. Winter looked up at him, the Doctor standing before her. "You," Winter rose, shakily. She was a little girl again, standing in front of the man that had caused her so much pain. Her form flickered as she walked forward, aging between adult and child. She raised her hand to slap him, then stopped. It wasn't worth it. "You caused me so much pain," her shoulders shook as she stood there, her hands balling into fists. "You hurt me in an irreperable way." He did not move, he did not speak.

"Do you know what you did to me? How you isolated me? Do you even care?" She looked up at him, tears stinging her eyes. "I had no control over my life, I didn't even get to decide what I wanted for dinner. I didn't know that windows could open. You took my childhood from me, you took my friends from me, you made me into a monster!" These were words she had always been holding in her entir elife. "I'm not going to hold onto it anymore! I don't want to! I hate you, but I deserve to move on!" She looked him in the eyes, his expression sad. "I'm finally free of you."

He dissolved in front of her, all of it changing. She was a little girl on the farm again, running through the orchard. She fell, tripping over a loose root and scraping her knees. Winter rose again, running towards her Grandpa, covered in dirt, with a chipped front tooth. "Grandpa!" Suddenly she was an adult again, leaping into his arms. "My Winter, how you've grown." He carried her towards the house, "There's someone that wants to see you." He pushed open the front door with his back, placing her down in the kitchen. Her Grandmother stood by the stove, stirring apples in a pot, making homemade cider. "Grandma," her eyes teared up once more. "Oh Winter, my darling." She swept Winter up into a hug, her Mother was sitting at the table. "You've become so vibrant, just like a star."

"I'm an Heir now," they laughed. "We know my little Sprout," her Grandmother rustled her hair. "Come here, let me patch up those knees." Winter sat down at the table, drinking her Grandmother's homemade cider and munching on shortbread while her Grandma patched up her bloodied knees. "I'm getting married soon." In three days, she would wed Zed.

"Oh honey, that's wonderful." Her Mother reached over, squeezing her hand. She looked less ghostly here, she looked like she belonged, as though she had always been here. Maybe she always had been. "His name is Zed, he's the Heir of Gardens." Her Grandpa laughed, "That's my Sprout! Snagging herself a good farmer." He rustled her hair, the gesture familiar. "I wish you all could come to the wedding," her smile became a bit sad as she clutched the warm cup. "Oh honey, we'll be there. You might not be able to see us, but we will always be by your side." She knelt down, placing a hand against Winter's heart. "We live within you, right here."

The room began to fade, everything was becoming dark again. "Wait, I don't want to leave yet," Winter rose, panicking. "Please, don't go!"

"We're not going anywhere Sprout, we'll always be with you."




Winter bolted upright out of the water, shaking. She coughed, feeling as though she could not breathe. One of the attending elves reached forward, offering her a hand out. She was wrapped in a warm fluffy towel and led down the hall, to a new room. Zed was waiting there, wearing a robe and snacking on crackers and cheese. The room was warm, illuminated with bright lights and puncuated by plants to give it an outdoor feel. The roof was made entirely of crystals. "Winter," he rose when he saw her, taking her into his arms. "Did you get what you needed out of the pool?" She nodded, not feeling sad, per say, but lighter. "I love you," Winter said softly and he knelt down to kiss her. She felt butterflies in her stomach, or maybe it was fireworks. "I love you too."

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Face, perfect. Back straight. Hands folded elegantly in her lap. She sat in the chair, watching her two captors. The faint smell of sweat. Ezra's room, consisting of a bed and some books. Carter was grinning, but he wore it poorly. Nervous? Perhaps. A mask so flawless no one could see through it. What did they want? Did they realize that she was wrong? That there was something wrong with her? "You don't deserve their love." Garrel told her. Frankly, she had to agree. "You two are wasting your time." She said icily, not moving to resist. "Zeus is expecting results for our first day." Ezra nodded as if in agreement. "Well, yeah. So why don't you make this quick and cooperate with us. So we can go back to our fancy little jobs." Her eyes narrowed like a hawk's talons, razor sharp and deadly.

She remained silent. They wanted something. They would get to the point once they were prepared to speak and begin the interrogation. "A friend of ours noticed something about you." Carter began, pacing around her like a police officer would a suspect in the questioning room. "That you might have been acting strange. Do you -" Elise gave him a neutral glance. "Winter." The half-guilty smile on his face was evidence enough. "She's worried about you. Are you okay, El?" Ezra's approach was softer. He knelt to gaze at her at her level. "Normally I'm good at noticing these things. If you stpped up your acting game, something must definitely be wrong." She maintained the mask of course. "You think you have the right to accept their help?" Garrel mocked, jeering. His voice sounded almost like her own. She hardened her gaze, folding her hands more tightly to control the shaking.

It was too late. Ezra took her hand, squeezing tight. Love was in his eyes, or something like it. Why did he not understand? She loved him, yearned for him. She wanted to protect him. He deserved better. Better than a villainous person like her. But she was not strong enough to make the hard decision. To end it all and leave him. She loved him too much to break it, but she also loved him to know she was holding him back. The two years she was dead. His incessant mourning of her. What did she do to deserve that kind of love? To warrant that sort of reaction? And it was almost a sort of cold feeling, flushing down her back, a deep dread that she could not push away.

What was this dread? What was this sinking feeling? It put her off-balance. She went paler than usual. "Hello? Earth to Elise?" Carter waved his hand in front of her face, frowning. "You're right, Ezra. She's been really spacy lately." Ezra nodded, squaring his jaw. Too much pride to ask for help. Too much pride to admit her wrongs. Too much pride to accept her weaknesses. Her faults. Her shame. How could she be a Hresvelg? Every instinct in her told her to be better. To improve. That is what she told others who were failures. Who were disappointments. Be stronger. Be better. Be more than you are. Now that it was her turn she found herself paralyzed.

She wanted it. She could feel it. A certain edge, a desire from deep within. "You've become a maniac." Garrel laughed, each word like a punch to the lungs, taking her breath. "I would like another enemy." She said accidentally. Ezra and Carter were both looking now, and they were concerned. Now that she was talking it was as if she forgot how to stop. How to remain silent. "A new threat. A new fight. Someone to occupy my thoughts. Someone to make me scheme and plot against. To distract me from the emptiness." Why was she a good actress? Well, was it not easy to act when you had no face behind the mask? "There's no enemy left, Elise." Ezra said in a gentle way Elise never heard before. As if he was talking to an infant. An invalid. Someone beneath him. Irrational anger rose up. Elise fought to keep it down, to bottle it. To not say something she would regret.

Her emotions were ugly. Filthy. It would be selfish to push them onto someone better than her. Onto someone she loved so much. How could she be so weak? So pathetic? This was her fight. She cursed inside of her head, the chill growing worse down her spine, in her limbs, her fingertips. "Is there an Heir of therapy?" Carter asked, clearly alarmed now. "We should tell Winter about this." Elise hissed, shaking her head. "No." She muttered. "Winter has enough to worry about. Same to both of you. You are both new heirs, learning your duties. This is my fight. I can handle it alone." They looked at her, then at each other, sharing a shrug. "So we're telling Winter about this." They agreed, ignoring her completely.

A single word echoed in her skull. "Burden." Garrel chanted, a sing-song repetition.

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




They held hands as they walked along the inside of the throne room. Two new chairs were being made for them, each in its own magnificent way. Zed would not allow her to see it, it was currently covered in a sheet. He would unveil it the day of the coronation. "It's strange," Winter admitted as they made their way back to the carriage. "What is?" Zed asked, squeezing her hand. "I never thought there would be a day that I would get to know peace. I had this pent up rage inside of me and it was eating away at me. Now, it's evaporated. I don't feel angry anymore, I feel as though a weight has been lifted off of my shoulders." Zed smiled, "I want to protect you from all of the bad things, but I know that it's unrealistic. You're strong in your own right," he swept her off of her feet. She squealed, her cheeks turning bright pink.

"What are you two doing?" Zeus asked, having heard them. "Just on our way to lunch," Zed replied as he appeared from one of the rooms. Zeus nodded, "How was it, Winter?" He asked, referring to the experience in the cave. "It was... good." Winter admitted, Zed placing her down on her own feet. "It gave me a lot of closure," Zeus nodded. "Good," he knelt down to touch his forehead against her's. "You are going to make a wonderful ruler, I can tell already." He ruffled her hair, then shook Zed's hand, "I am glad that you make my daughter so happy." He took his leave then, allowing the two of them to continue their stroll to the carriage. "Where are we going for lunch?" Winter asked, sitting beside him. She lay her head on his arm, not quite reaching his shoulder. "A surprise," Zed tied a ribbon over her eyes.

The carriage stopped, Winter could smell freshly overturned earth and flowers. Zed took her hand, leading her up a hill and removing the ribbon. "Surprise," she blinked as the sunshine fell across her face. They were standing on top of an orchard hill, a picnic spread out for them. "This looks wonderful," she hugged him, "Thank you for the surprise." She plopped down onto the picnic blanket, Zed sitting beside her and pouring them lemonade. "I thought we could use some private time, since your friends have taken over the house." Winter laughed, "Yes, they're quite the rambunctious bunch," she agreed, clinking their glasses together and taking a sip. It was cold and refreshing, just what she needed. There were little sandwiches for them, along with crackers and cheese, roasted root veggies, and apple cake for dessert. Winter was stuffed by the time they were done.

Music began to play from somewhere in the orchard. Zed held out a hand, "May I have this dance?" Winter smiled, rising to her feet to take his hand. "Yes, you may." Tomorrow, they would be separated from the required two days before marriage, a tradition they had in Olympia. Winter had butterflies in her stomach, the thought of the wedding being so close making her nervous. What if something happened during the wedding? No, Winter would not think about that. He spun her in a circle and she laughed. Zed twirled her once more, Winter landing in his arms. They swayed together until the music stopped. "Come with me," he led her to a swing overlooking Olympia. They sat together on it, Zed's hand resting on top of Winter's.

"Zed, what do you think about children?" Winter asked, "I don't mind if we have, but I also don't mind if we don't." His hand squeezed her own, "we can just adopt a dog." She laughed, "Yes, that sounds nice." Eventually, the moment ended and they had to return to the carriage. They rode home in content silence, Winter resting her head on Zed's lap as he played with her hair. "We're back!" She called as they reentered the house.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri
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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Sometimes you have to make the hard calls. The tough decisions. There was a time for thinking, and there was a time for action. Elise was very glad that for once, she was given the choice to act. To move. To plot against her enemies. Anything to take her mind away from how horrible she was. How unworthy she was. "Good luck." She whispered, finishing another assignment. A girl decided to give herself up to fortune, rolling a holo eraser with numbers on it to determine the answers for her exam. Elise would help the eraser land on the right answers, as that kind of bravery deserves praise. "Two days until the wedding. Don't you know how much of a burden you are?" Garrel was enjoying ths. Even if he was not real. Even if he was simply her inner voice speaking, it was extra painful that it had to take the form of that specific person's voice.

"I know." Elise pulled her head out of the pool. Winter would be home soon. If she wanted to make sure that the wedding went smoothly, she needed to act. She needed to take away Winter's worries. To prevent Carter and Ezra from reporting in at any cost. At least let the wedding go well, she pleaded with herself. She was once a prodigy after all, surely that would not be that difficult? "If you add a new problem now, that would be really bad." She could not, she would not weigh everyone down. Her pride would shatter if she did. She shook her head, pinching herself on the arm. Even the pain felt distant, so she pinched harder. Back to reality, back to logic. Back into the right space to formulate a plan.

Many schemes ran through her pitiful mind. Threaten their lives. They would not listen. Destroy the Portal Generator? They would not fall for the bluff and still tell Winter. What could she do? What option did she have to stop them? Threaten to run away? They would watch her even more intently. Only one idea survived the intial simulation tests in her head. She looked sadly at the black wings on an unworn dress she was given. "I will never wear you." She was a bastard child after all. Had she ever been a Hresvelg at all?

So Elise ended up kneeling in front of Ezra and Carter. Desperation. Humiliation. Despair. All coursing like poison through her strange Heir veins. That same chill only growing stronger, making her shiver and shake, a trembling wreck where once she was strong. "What are you doing?" Carter asked, puzzled. Ezra scowled, as if not liking her like this. "You will not tell Winter. Not until after the wedding. After the coronation." She begged, throwing away her pride, tossing out her right to bear the wings on her person. "She has suffered enough. She deserves better than to be troubled with my problems. She is the Leading Lady of Olympia now. She does not have time with my personal problems." Did she break through? Did she convince them? Carter's face softened considerably. Ezra balled a hand into a fist. "You better talk to the Heir of Therapy after." He growled. A warning. "Of course." A lie. That was all she was ever good at, after all.

Winter announced her return then. Elise stood up abruptly, brushing extra dust off her back to go and greet her engaged friend. Zed and Winter entered the palace together. Serenity looked tired as she learned how to manage the rising sun, but she seemed happy. Oliver had been at her side, providing moral support the whole time for that important duty. "Carter and Ezra were shirking their duties." Elise said bluntly. "It seems they are not taking their duties properly." Ezra grinned but it looked plastered on. Carter scratched at his head in almost shame. "Sorry, Winter." Carter winked at her. "I'll do better next time, alright?"

Ezra flexed his jaw. He was debating something strongly in his head. Would he obey Elise's demand? It was out of her control at this point. "How was your day?" Serenity asked, blushing. "Did you have a nice time with your beloved?" Thank goodness for Serenity. Her bright personality was the perfect distraction. "She is too excited for the wedding." Oliver snickered. "She almost missed the sunrise over the Himalayas."

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Just as she had expected, they came out of the woodwork, meeting her at the front door. Elise reported in first, Ezra and Carter had been shirking their duties. "I expected nothing less," Winter laughed, "They'll just have to make up for it tomorrow by doing double the work." She laughed as they groaned, predictable. She would miss this life, she really would. Eventually though, they all had to grow up and move on. They would still remain friends, Winter hoped, but they could not be stay like this unless they never wanted to grow. She looked at Carter, wondering if he had done what she asked. She would confront him later about it. Serenity bound over, Oliver behind her. Where was Mercedes? Winter wondered, not spotting her as she scanned the entrance of the house. "I'm excited too," she squeezed Zed's hand. "I'm going to make sure dinner preparations are under way," he smiled, returning her squeeze before slipping away.

"I actually have to leave tomorrow morning. I'll be staying with Zeus until the wedding, since Olympian tradition mandates you can't see the person you're marrying for forty eight hours." She didn't want to just leave them with Zed, of course. "If you guys want, we can start house hunting for you four?" Since it might take them a while to make up their minds. "Of course, I don't mind you staying here," she didn't want them to feel as though she were kicking them out either. "If Elise and Serenity want, they can come stay with me for the time being?" That way she wouldn't have to be at Zeus's alone. Not that she didn't like her Dad, but he and Winter still struggled to connect. Even though he showed his affection in various ways, it was clear that there was a gap between them.

"Just let me know, so I can let him know what to expect." She smiled, rocking back and forth on her heels. "Oh, Carter, can I talk to you for a minute? I have something I need to ask." He nodded, "Yeah, sure." Winter grabbed him by the arm, pulling him into a different room. "Whoa, calm down there. People are gonna get the wrong idea," she rolled her eyes, closing the door behind her. "What are those two up to?" Serenity blinked, Winter hoping that the door would be enough so that the others couldn't overhear them. "How did it go?" Winter asked, "With Elise, I mean?" Carter seemed nervous for some reason, did something happen? He scratched the back of his head. "She wants me to tell you that she's fine," she sighed. So Elise had known that Winter had sent them?

It seemed that this was a situation she would have to handle herself. "Alright, I'll talk to her-" he grabbed her arm. "No! I mean, no. She doesn't want you to have to do anything before the wedding," Winter furrowed her brow. "I can just talk to her, I know she's probably hurting a lot right now. She probably feels empty inside," Carter nodded. "We made her promise, that after your coronation, she has to see the Heir of Therapy, if there is one." Winter crossed her arms, "I'd have to ask Zed if such an Heir exists." She sighed, even if Elise didn't intend it to end up this way, she was being a handful. "Fine, but right after, she needs help." Carter nodded, the two of them emerging from the room. "So, who wants dinner?" She asked, clapping her hands together.

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Idiots. What did they really expect? What were they hoping for? Of course they were going to have to be reprimanded. Extra work and extra duties and workload would now be forced onto them. Would this keep them out of her hair? At least a little bit? Elise hoped so, because she had a plan. There was something she had to do to get this chill away from her, to remove the creeping dread growing in her gut. "Idiots." She said as Carter and Ezra groaned. Winter seemed to be scanning them as they welcomed her back home. "Mercy is with Yuuki, he said he has a question for you?" Serenity updated Winter. "He came to visit, Mercy's talking with him in the lounge."

Elise glared at Carter as he was dragged by Winter away and dinner was announced. The idea of eating made her feel nauseous, but did she really have a hope to avoid eating forever? She would try as much as her stomach would tolerate, she supposed. "I'm famished! I spent all day working!" Ezra rubbed his stomach, a carnivorous look in his eye. "If working means kidnapping me." Mercedes glanced back and forth, squeezing her eyes, concern clear. "Kidnap?" She mouthed, tilting her head. Elise shook her own head, not wanting the bright friendly girl to worry for her sake. She wanted to keep her problems to herself, not bring more people into it. But no one seemed to understand that.

"If they knew just how broken you were, why would they ever care about you?" Garrel asked, shooting a bullet into her spine with his words. She controlled the flinch, her mask strong and in control. House hunting sounded good. "That would be nice." The black eagle controlled her gaze as they walked to the dinner table. The dinner table was animated, with Mercedes and Yuuki chatting happily. Who even thought they could be friends? "I don't know what kind of Groomal Gift Zed would want. Why don't you just get him something for the plants?" Yuuki frowned, shaking his head. "Look around, Mercedes. What could I possibly give him that would help his plants that he doesn't already have?"

Yuuki definitely had talents, allowing himself to become a Major Heir upon promotion. What could he offer that would make the garden shine? "Could you share some of your Nevermelting Ice?" Elise considered, glancing at Yuuki, trying to remember the garden's layout. "There may be a section where an ice sculpture.." As Garrel laughed, doubt struck her mind, freezing her in place. She grit her teeth and looked back down at her food. "No, maybe not. It might be a foolish idea." Yuuki looked as if he was thinking though, that maybe Zed would appreciate it. Why he would was a mystery to Elise. Garrel was right - she was incompetent, what worth were her words anyways?

But she wanted the wedding to go well. And Winter gave her a role to perform, a job to do. She turned towards Winter, an inquisitive gleam in her ruby eyes. "With the wedding so close, I have a few questions." She tilted her head a little. "Shall we speak in private?" Once dinner was over Elise got Winter to herself in another room. She found herself a chair to sit in, her back straight by mere reflex. "So, I am to be the Maid of Honor. If that is still to be the case, is there anything in particular I should do? Any duties attached that I am expected?" It was an important role. And Winter's wedding needed to go smoothly.

"And what makes you think you're good enough for that kind of job?" Garrel mocked her, giggling in the chambers of her skull. She stiffened very slightly and ordered him to shut up. To be quiet. She would not let herself and her problems get in the way of Winter's happiness at the wedding. She would not be a burden. "If you have any advice or instructions, I would be happy to receive them." She smiled a dangerous smile. Almost like her old self. "Your wedding will be a day of happiness." She would fight anyone that would threaten that.

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Character Portrait: Elise von Hresvelg Character Portrait: Winter Matsuri Character Portrait: Jallet
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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




After dinner, Elise asked to see Winter in private. "Sure, we can go to my room." Winter smiled, leading Elise to her room. She sat down in one of the lounge chairs, Elise sitting across from her. Winter was excited to stay at her Father's tomorrow, but also nervous. She had butterflies in her stomach the past week. "So what is it you wanted to talk about?" Winter asked as Nemia prepared her nighttime cosmetics. She had a skincare routine now, instructions left in detail for Nemia by Iris. Supposedly, Iris had foreseen her death. She had spoken to one of the Fates, who had told her about the worst coming to pass. Elise began to talk about it, wanting advice and instructions, since she was the Maid of Honor. "I've never been to a wedding before, so I'm not really sure what the position is, aside from being like, the best person that holds your dress when you go to pee." She scratched her cheek as she admitted that tidbit.

She had seen weddings in movies though. "I guess, if my Mother in Law starts acting up, you could try and hold her back? But she's a really sweet woman, um, she's the Heir of childbirth, so she's kind of emotional." Her Father in Law was the Heir of Wine. Funny enough, he could not stand it. Perhaps that was why Zeus blessed, er, cursed him with that position. "I just want the day to run without hiccups. Oh! I think the Maid of Honor is also supposed to throw a bridal shower? If you want to do that? I know Iris was going to put it together but she's um... dead." Who had put the bridal party together for Jasmine? Winter wondered. She wished she could have tried her food, but Winter would never be able to go back to earth.

"Anyway Elise, there's something else I want to talk to you about." She had promised Carter that she would wait until after the wedding, but Winter had also not expected an opportunity like this to arrive. "I've noticed it in you, because the same thing happened to me." She reached out to take Elise's hand, squeezing it gently for support. "You don't have to suffer in silence, you know? You're suffering from PTSD." Elise's hand felt warm, a strange contrast to before, when she was dead. "You don't have to pretend or push us away. We want to help you, no matter what your mind is telling you." No doubt Elise's mind had told her a lie that she believed to be true. No doubt Elise was struggling to reach out right now, wanting to keep these things private.

"I know Claude, Jeralt, and Cynthia wouldn't want you to pretend that you're alright when you're not." She hoped that Elise would be honest with her, she hoped that Elise would tell her what was on hre mind. Winter could get Elise real help, the same help she had gotten, in order to work through it. Was Winter in a perfect spot? No, she was not completely healed, but she was mending what had been fractured. "I want you to not have to live with a voice in your head that's constantly putting you down and making you believe something that isn't real, is." Winter still struggled with it, sometimes, but when she did, she spoke to Zed. He helped her through it, he had been there for her every step of the way. Hopefully Ezra could be that person for Elise.

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Throwing a bridal shower? Keeping the Mother in Law in line? Making sure Winter could use the bathroom in peace and quiet without getting her dress dirty? Elise nodded, already writing the notes in her head. She had a task to do, a job. Something to quiet her head, something to focus her mind and give her a direction. "Then I will do all of that." Did she know how to throw a bridal shower? Not exactly, but that was what the library was for, was it not? She would do the research and prepare for everything tomorrow night, right before the wedding. "I will help organize the best bridal shower." Perhaps she would enlist the help of Serenity and Mercedes to assist her in this task. Surely their input would be helpful.

The dangerous smile was still on her face as she planned and plotted, already setting aside time to do her research until she was satisfied with her information. She would make the bridal shower fun, a nice exciting moment before the full real day, the wedding day. A party before the solemn ceremony to celebrate the union, and to celebrate Winter's life up to then. Who would be invited? Elise would have to sort all of this out. And the time limit only made it harder. All of this combined was making her eager. Like a tough puzzle, she wanted to break it apart and solve it. "You'll just let her down. Don't even try." Garrel told her, snidely, venomously. She bit her lip, needing to ignore it. She could not let Winter see. "You will have a fantastic bridal shower."

Then the topic changed. Winter's eyes shifted. Her tone of voice went an entirely different direction. A direction the black eagle did not want. The word repeated in her mind. Burden, Garrel said. Useless, he told her. She was convinced of course. What kind of actress could not continue playing the character to perfection? She noticed. "Carter?" Elise asked, her eyes narrowing into two hawkish slits. Then she sighed, lowering her guard, the mask. Exposing the emptiness she did not want to confront. She did not want to lash out. Not right before Winter's birthday. This was not as she planned, but it was too late to change courses now. It was too late to avoid the discussion.

"She's just a stupid little musician. What can she do to help us?" No, she had to silence this now. "Garrel Lawson. I ignored him this whole time while we had an enemy to fight, but now I cannot avoid him with the silence in my head." When there was not an enemy to fight. To plan against. To strive for. "Since he chipped me and broke my resistance in my head, this was bound to occur." She was not able to fight the control. She had been a prisoner inside her own body, looking outside through eyes controlled by another. "He is mine. I can handle him on my own." She turned away, gnawing her lip. Hearing his laughter, she turned back to Winter, feeling unsteady on her feet. "But some pointers would be helpful. How did you find success? How did you beat your inner Doctor?"

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




"The first step is asking for help," Winter replied, since Elise was asking for pointers. "Your brain is telling you a lie that you suddenly believe is true. It might seem like it's happening for no reason, but it means that your brain is ready to rip off the bandaid." Winter explained gently, trying not to make Elise feel bad. "I noticed it the other day, the way your eyes seemed to unfocus, the way you've been skipping meals." Winter knew these same patterns because she had seen them in herself. "You aren't a burden, you are worthy of love." She rose, holding Elise's cheeks in her hands. "You're a wonderful person Elise, no matter what the voice in your head is telling you. You deserve love, you deserve kindness. If Garrel is telling you otherwise, well then he never actually knew just how great you were." She smiled, tucking a strand of hair behind Elise's ear.

"Now smile, untense your jaw." She released Elise from her grasp and set back down, "There are so many people that care about you." She wanted tips on how Winter had beaten her inner Doctor. Winter sank futher into her seat in thought. "I confronted him," Winter admitted. She could feel her heart racing as she thought back on it. Her time in the pool. "I told him everything I had always wanted to. I told him how much he had hurt me. I wrote the letter and sent it. I know he'll never receive it, he'll never know how much he actually effected me, but I felt better after doing it. Like I was ready to move on," she pictured herself sitting in the family kitchen. Her Mother was there, as though she had always been there. SHe had drank her Grandmother's cider and had let her Grandpa patch up her knees.

In a way, perhaps, he had been patching up the hole in her heart. The void where they had once been had been filled with so many wonderful people. Winter didn't think about them as often anymore. She still missed them of course, but she no longer actively mourned them. "You haven't had the chance to grieve either." Winter pointed out, "I'm sure the loss of your parents must be exponential and not having Claude beside you doesn't help either." Claude had, had to mourn all three of them alone. "I wish I could help more, but you just have to start combating these thoughts and reaffirming what you know is true." There was a knock on the door, "Lady Winter?" Nemia poked her head inside, "Oh! I apologize, I didn't realize you had guests." Winter shook her head, waving Nemia's apology away. "It's fine, it's fine. It's just Elise, is it time for bed already?"

It was growing late, "I still have to finish packing. Are you going to come to Zeus's?" Winter asked Elise, getting up to finish picking out jewelry from Iris's collection to bring to her Dad's for the weekend. "We're really in the final stretch now," she smiled. "It's almost strange, as a child, I never really pictured myself getting married." She had always seen herself as a bit of a loner. "Making friends was always kind of hard for me, the only reason I had friends before the whole... disaster thing was because we were all just country bumpkins who were forced to have playdates." She laughed at the image as Nemia rushed over to try and zip Winter's suitcase. "I'm sure you must have had an easy time of it, considering the whole star status thing. I bet you never thought you would end up with a guy like Ezra?"

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Elise knew, of course, she knew all of it. What Winter was saying made perfect sense, like a clear visor on a mask. She could agree with most of what she was saying. And her stomach continued to sink with every word, even as she sat there listening. "They all want you to be fine. They all expect, need you to be strong and well." Garrel told her, cutting through Winter's words even as she cupped Elise's cheeks in her own hands. She unhinged her jaw, trying to relax her face as ordered. She nodded, trying to ignore the growing pit in her stomach. "As an actress, I am embarrassed." A graceful, humble smile. "But as Elise, I am glad you noticed." Of course Winter did. She was more attentive than anyone when it mattered.

Winter told her story then. How she was able to confront the Doctor. How she was able to beat her demons. It was working, thoguh it would always be a process, a work-in-progress, for Winter to feel whole again. "Finally. You have spent way too long revering the man." She gave an easy nod of approval. Winter was becoming stronger. Why did Elise feel so weak in comparison? It was a sick feeling, so she gulped it down and radiated pride. How much was real? How much was acted? Would the black eagle ever know? The conversation shifted to her family then that she never had the chance to mourn. Elise glanced at where she usually bore the crest - on her left collar - now left blank. She did not deserve to mourn. "I was not a true Hresvelg. I did not have the right to." She lowered her eyes, directing them towards her feet. Was that shame in her chest? "Is what Garrel says, anyways."

They were interrupted then, Nemia coming in to move the day along. "Sorry. I can move out of the way." Nemia was a busy elf, she had a lot to do. "By the way, is that Carter boy seeing anyone?" Elise stared at her as if she were looking at an alien. There was an odd, uncharacteristic look on Nemia's face. Were Heirs and Servants even allowed...? "There's something about his loyalty to Winter that is very charming." She must have seen the display a day or so ago. "He is emotionally taken." Elise warned, but the elf did not seem to mind or care about that. "Yes, I would like to join you to Zeus's. We could host the bridal party there." She just needed to take a few books with her to study exactly what to do at a bridal shower.

"You earned it. You worked very hard." Elise told Winter, standing up so she would not be in Nemia's way as she tended to her tasks. "Who would have thought. You, married?" She looked happy though. There was a glow, a vitality to her cheeks that was not there back on the Near Shore. Elise was glad she did not have much to pack. Koer was kind enough to allow her to keep the mist cloaks, though now she did need to clean and wash them like everyone else. "Ezra was uncouth and ridiculous. How did I end up with him?" Someone refined and well-mannered like Elise? It was the definition of opposites attracting. "I should pack what little I have. Thank you for the talk, Winter." She gave a little wave, wondering why she still felt sick to her stomach.

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❝I put my arms around myself and I'm unbreakable.❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#BDA0CB β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #F7B3DA】
|| Dear Winter || AJR ||




Winter turned back to Elise, "You are a true Hresvelg. Jeralt is still your Father and Cynthia I'm sure would cry if she heard you say that. Remember, Garrel is dead. He can't hurt you, the chip isn't functioning, I don't even think it's there considering you're actually dead." Winter reminded her, "And an Heir. Garrel is probably just your inner cynic, voicing your own thoughts in a tone that you know you hate and will subconsciously evoke the worst from you. Garrel isn't real, he can't hurt you anymore. Words can't hurt you either." Winter reminded her, "And I'm sure Claude would smack you if he could hear you speak like that." Was this the real Elise? Winter wondered. She had little self-esteem, she was shy and subconscious. It was a stark difference from the Elise that Winter had gotten to know.

Winter giggled when Nemia admitted to having a crush on Carter. "Nemia, you know the rules," her cheeks turned bright pink. "I know," she said with a smile, cleaning up around the room before she made Winter sit down and began applying her nightly creams and serums, per Iris's instructions. "I know wht you're thinking Elise," Winter said as she closed her eyes. "Elves are specifically forbidden from being with Heirs. It's a centuries old rule that was made because the elves had warred with the Heirs and lost." It was part of the reason Elves now served Heirs. They were still a proud race and Zeus had said that occasionally, they would still act up. The Heirs had proven themselves to be the stronger of the races multiple times and thus, the Elves continued to serve them.

"You ended up with him because you love each other," Winter reminded Elise, "and he loves you and wants you to rely on him too. So don't be afraid to talk to him, alright? Communication is important." She giggled, it was true, it was hard to imagine herself married. Winter opened her eyes as Nemia finished up. "Goodnight Lady Winter, Lady Elise,"[/color] she bowed as she exited the room. Winter rose, Nemia would be coming with her to Zeus's of course. "Goodnight Elise, I'll see you in the morning." Winter waved as Elise exited and lay down in bed. She fell right to sleep, a stark difference to how fitful her rests used to be. Perhaps confronting her past had given her a bit more peace than she had realized. For the first time in a long time, Winter slept like a baby.

In the morning, Nemia entered to wake her up. "Will you be taking breakfast in here this morning?" She wanted to know, poking the door open. "Lady Winter?" Nemia was surprised that she was still asleep. Winter bolted upright, Nemia scaring her. "Yes, yes, please. I'll have breakfast in here today." She rubbed her eyes, then pulled the blanket off. "I'm going to take a bath, I'll be done soon." She soaked in the tub, wondering if this would be the last night in this room. She sank deeper into the tub, the warmth enveloping her. Winter couldn't spend too long basking, as Nemia was waiting for her. "Good morning Lady Winter," Nemia and her team of ladies greeted her, setting breakfast down for her to enjoy in her robe. She couldn't see Zed from now, until their wedding. As much as she wanted to be with him, this was tradition.

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❝A second return, but what for? And for whom was I brought back?❞

【ɗιαƖσgΟ…Ρ” cσƖσя:#0C94CC β™™ тнσυgΠ½Ρ‚ cσƖσя #CC0C2E】

|| Azalea|| Nano.ripe ||







Late at night, Elise continued to roll and turn in her bed, trying to wrap a pillow around her head to block the sounds. A mental war raged in her head, her doubts and hatreds rising up, trying to win, to break her. She was needed to be strong, but at times it was hard to know for who's sake. "The others were brave. Strong. They survived all the fighting with their strength." Garrel reminded her, attacking her notches again. She was, however, a coward. She was empty. "You run away from every encounter. How did you survive? Acting. Playing a role that was not you." She shivered, hissing, needing to make the voice go away. She needed to function. She needed to organize a bridal shower in less than twenty four houes now if she wanted to perform her duties.

But she simply could not get any rest at all. She sighed, relaxing her legs, uncurling as she stared out the window at the dim moonlight wafting in. It was almost beautiful in some strange way. "You were not like the other, Elise. You and are were meant for each other. Broken, shattered people." Just like him, abused by his father his whole life. Just like her, built up with impossible expectations, and shattering when she feared she could not achieve them. What could she do? She could put on a mask, she could perform for everyone. But really, none of it was real. "I need to be more than this." She murmured, frustration lacing each syllable. "They are counting on me to be stronger." They thought of her as fearless. Cold. A genius, a prodigy. She needed to live up to that, no matter how impossible. "Don't you see?" Garrel mocked her. "Exactly like before. History keeps repeating itself." It was a trap. But she cared too much about the others to want to let them down.

"But I deserve better than you." She said softly. "You hurt me in ways you could never understand." Took away her first time. Broke her mind when she needed it most. Stole her freedom, used her body as if it were a toy. A face shone clearly in her mind. Someone who would not do that. "Ezra would never hurt me like you have. If you wish to stay in my head, you can enjoy seeing my relationship with him grow stronger." She could almost feel the pain surging in her skull. "He is so much better than you! So what makes you think you have the right to-" She cut him off with a scowl. "He is better than me and wants me, so who am I to take that away from him?"

Exhausted, Elise barely managed any sleep as she rose. She frowned, wondering when she would feel brave enough to wear the black wings on her body again. Did Winter have it etched into her maid of honor dress? The black eagle had no idea. With a set of books under her arm, and her clothes alongside her, she headed out to the breakfsat table to pretend to ingest the food. Ezra looked at her curiously, as if trying to examine her. He sat down next to her while the others waited for Winter to come. "How are you today?" He asked, in his blunt way. "Not good." Elise murmured honestly, gulping with anxiety. For some reason, he grinned. "Well, you made mine. I thought I'd have to kidnap you again to make you open up." He pulled her into a hug and Elise wondered as she was being crushed, exactly what she did to find someone like him.