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The Dawn and the Dusk IC

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Children born of the Sun will always seek it...

Children born of the Moon will always covet it..

These are truths that are unavoidable.


Many years ago, our world was split into two, after the many wars that occurred between both sides.

Sol, the world of the Sun, where light is the sole truth...

Luna, the world of the Moon, where shadow is the firm idealism...

Both worlds, the same, yet different. The split was unavoidable. The Ancient Ones could no longer stand to see their mortal races fight endlessly.


In Sol, the Sun always rises, and has never set, eternally blue, clouds shrouding the heavens. The rain here is pleasant, but it never snows, for the heat of the Sun would not allow such a thing. People walk among the roads eternally, living comfortably in the warm rays of the Sun. It is quiet here, like a lazy summer day. No progress is made here. The people of Sol are eternally stuck in the medieval ages, when the world was split.


In Luna, the Moon is immortal. The few rays of Sol's Sun that reflect on the moon are the only light here, save the myriad of stars that coat the blanket of infinite night. Here, progress is key. In the cold, endless night, technology is the triumph. Unlike the people of the Sun, who are pleased to simply sit idly by and let their lives go on, the people of the dark earn happiness through other means - whether it be sins or other dark actions. Crime here isn't unusual, since materials are the only way for people to enjoy themselves in this dark world. Nightclubs and prostitution run rampant, plus black markets and other things hidden in the shadows.


As such, both worlds have their pros and cons, and have lived this way for a thousand years. But recently, a few select people have felt... pulled. Those of the Daylight who have been chosen feel like they are incomplete, and people of the Moonlight who have been chosen feel a similar way. They are not pleased with their lives.


There is only one way for the worlds to meet, and it's been sealed. But the seal is weakening. The door is cracking open, allowing the lights of both worlds to cross.

But the Ancient Ones have gone silent and have said nothing of why this would be. Why are the worlds opening to each other again? What will happen if they meet once more, these people of the Sun who are content to simply exist, and these people of the Moon who desire nothing more than progress?


That choice is up to you, chosen ones.





This is the IC! The OOC can be found HERE!


Anyone who has been accepted can go ahead and get things started. I still have a few more things to make sure of before things really roll.

Edited by Thaelasan

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Three Days Ago


"Sweetheart, you're beautiful. I don't know why you won't wear a dress more often."


"We've been through this several times already! A dress isn't a good work outfit!"


"Like unconventional methods ever stopped you before. Now, stop squirming. There's only one more seam to finish and then you can be on your way."


Vertie huffed, fighting back the urge to slouch as their dad completed his work. At his insistence, they caved and agreed to take a formal gown with them on their trip to Apollo, Sol's capital city. (They lost at his argument about setting good first impressions with the people you want to impress.) Vertie's decision to leave home and head to Apollo had left their parents buzzing with excitement and anticipation. Vertie, on the other hand, was doing their best to not become too anxious. They'd never left the rural town they'd grown up in. Beyond it's limits, they didn't know what to expect, only that Apollo was to the south. A several-day trip by foot.


"There, all good to go," the middle-aged man remarked, sitting back to admire his handy work. "It looks wonderful on you," their dad commented again, smiling brightly.


Footsteps made the floorboards creak as Vertie's mother entered the room, sucking in a breath. "That it does. Honey, are you sure you don't want more to wear on days when you're not tinkering around?"


"Mom," Vertie groaned, starting to leave the room in order to dress down and get ready to leave. "I'm always working so, what would be the point?"


"It was worth a shot." The teen smirked at their mother's mumbling, slipping into their bedroom and shutting the door behind them so they could change in privacy. Through the wall, they could hear their mother continue. "While you're away, be sure to make some friends. Don't stay cooped up inside the inn like you are here. Maybe you'll meet a nice boy or something? I still don't understand why you don't think Eric is a decent suitor."


Rolling their eyes, Vertie finished getting changed and reopened the door, shrugging on their backpack in the same moment. "Mom, Eric is a nice guy but I'm just not interested in him. He's... Not really understanding of my pursuits! He thinks I should do something else but I like my inventions and artwork! I want to do those!"


Their mother nodded and their father approached. "I'll just have to find a new dress model then while you're away. You'll write regularly. Won't you?"


"Yes, Dad," Vertie assured, smiling. "Now I have to get going!" they said quickly, hugging their parents one at a time before darting out the door. They jogged to the small stable where their horse was waiting in his stall. Upon seeing them, the chestnut-colored stallion bobbed his head and whinnied softly. "Excited to get going, Nutmeg? So am I," Vertie grinned.


Once Nutmeg was geared up, Vertie walked the horse outside before mounting. Waving to their parents as they watched from the doorway of their small home, the teen readjusted the goggles on their head and started off at a trot.




Present Day


They woke up to a warm, sunny day, like always. But Vertie was anxious now as they stared up at the wooden ceiling of the inn. Reality was sinking in with each moment that passed and resulted in them being more alert. They didn't have the time yesterday to absorb that they had finally made it, too weary from travel. However, they were now rested and could think with a clear head.


Abruptly, they sat up with a gasp, jumping out of the cot and snatching for their clothes before pausing. Wait. It was their first real day in Apollo. What if they ran into... Dare they think it? Bartholomew Starlight! No! If they ran into him...! Immediately, they dropped their usual clothes and quickly looked for their bag. Where was i-oh!


Dumping the bag's contents out on the bed, Vertie began to slip into the dress their father made as a parting gift. It was a brilliant blend of pink, purple, and blue fabric with hints of a few other colors. The dress was expressive, Vertie would give their dad that. But... did it have to have so many frills? Well, it didn't matter. They trusted their dad to know what would make a good impression. It was floor-length with a single strap over their right shoulder. They left their binder off, allowing the top of the dress to hug their torso naturally.


As they twirled around, trying to get a better feel of their motion within the dress, they remembered the dirt that clung to their arms and face. Dang! Swiftly, they undressed to wash up and, while they remembered, they tried to tidy up their unkempt hair, currently sporting a mixture of blue and purple strands among their natural black. Eventually, they were cleaned up and dressed up with flats on their feet to match the dress. Maybe they should eat first? That would require dressing down once more and getting into their regular outfit.


Their stomach churned. Maybe it was best not to eat just yet lest they get an upset stomach. Anxiety never was a friend of appetites. Okay! They were ready then. Hurrying out of their room once they were certain they had everything they needed - don't forget the key! - Vertie made their way down into the lobby of the inn.


Immediately, they noticed the shift of attention from the few occupants already there. Men (mostly) looked at them while the barmaid eyed them. A wave of nausea crawled through their skin as their nervousness intensified. Vertie managed to walk outside into the open air and sunlight without any incident. They paused, staring at the city before them with awe.


Apollo was, perhaps, the most magnificent thing they'd seen in their life. The architecture invoked appreciation in them as they took as much in as they could. Slowly, they started walking, allowing themself to get lost in the city and learn where everything was. The city was caught in that moment between being groggy from slumber and being alive with wakefulness. It was exciting to Vertie. They were caught up with the atmosphere and their energy, they started to twirl a few times.


They collided with something, causing them to stumble until they managed to halt their momentum and right themself. "I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to- to- to hit... you?" Their apology quickly switched from a rush of words to a dying question. Curiosity filled their thoughts and expression as they stared at the human before them with... furred ears and a wagging tail? Canine ears and a tail! "Wow! That's exciting! They look so fuzzy! Are they soft? Can I pet them? Your tail! Your tail wags just like a dogs! Are you part dog?" Vertie started eagerly, leaning slightly forward as they examined the dog-girl with their eyes.


[[in case anyone is curious about what the dress looks like: here ya go. There's no head piece and no gloves. Doc helped me out and provided me with this image.]]

Edited by Narvix

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One of the first lessons Ophelia learned about the human world was that they were absolutely nothing like lycans. Sure they looked like lycans a little, but they definitely didn’t act like them. Twice Ophelia got yelled at for sniffing strangers’ faces and she couldn’t recall just how many lectures she had gotten for trying to climb buildings or explore privately owned property without permission. For a non-materialistic people, humans sure didn’t appreciate sharing everything they owned. Perhaps Ophelia was just experienced culture shock. The humans were certainly wary of the strange lycan that was aimlessly roaming, but they were nice enough. Ophelia had no idea what would have happened if she hadn’t been getting constant assistance from the locals she managed to bump into. Without their help, she’d probably be at the bottom of the ditch wondering where on earth she was. Though Ophelia was eternally grateful for the few humans who took the time to help her in her endless trek across the continent, it appeared as though she had found herself in yet another predicament.


After walking off the main road to go explore some nearby woods, Ophelia had lost her way back to the road and ended up stumbling upon the biggest human city she had ever laid eyes on. Granted, she had seen very few human settlements in her lifetime but, nevertheless, she was impressed by the sheer size of the city. The entire city was like a set of whirring gears grinding against each other as they function in harmony. Beyond the gold walls of the city were hundreds if not thousands of manors, common homes, and other buildings were sprawled across the city. There were docks set upon large spiraling buildings that reached towards the sky. Mysterious balloon-like boats of that likes that Ophelia had never seen before soared through the air effortlessly. As Ophelia walked through the city, clutching her cloak tightly to her body as she gazed up at the sky in awe, her nose twitched. The alluring scent of fresh bread drifted into her nose and, after licking her lips in anticipation, Ophelia walked towards the smell.


Much to her delight, Ophelia was met with a bustling bazaar with countless people hustling from one stall to another as they bargained with the owners of the stalls. The plethora of enticing scents was absolutely tantalizing. There were numerous freshly baked breads, large hunks of juicy meats that were covered in foreign spices, fresh fruits both exotic and local, freshly caught fish laid upon beds of ice that were contained in wooden displays, and desserts practically laced in sugar. One stall had manned by a local hunter had racks of whole pigs, lamb, and rabbits along with slabs of beef, veal, and goat, along with defeathered poultry laying out for purchase. Another stall sold exclusively fish including one such fish, that Ophelia could not name for the life of her, that was nearly seven feet long and with a mouth large enough to swallow a child whole. The shop right next to the fish stall had thousands of spices that made Ophelia’s nose twitch in irritation. There were at least three different types of vanilla, all of which smelled incredibly similar and yet had a detectable difference in bitterness that Ophelia, with her amazing nose, could only smell once she was up close to the bottles.


Along with the amorous smells that food brought, there were other stalls with silk, cloth, leather, and wool dyed colors Ophelia didn’t know could be placed on clothing, stalls with various shiny ores and weapons, shops with pottery and masonry work, stalls with live animals such as chickens, pigs, birds, cows, goats, dogs, and cats that were sold to strangers, and there was even a magic shop where a supposed magician sold fascinating trinkets and gizmos to passersby.


Ophelia was positively overwhelmed by sheer amount of movement and action going on in the bazaar. She briefly pondered just how busy the entire city must be if the bazaar was so packed and filled to the brim with life. Just the thought of the large city being so full of life made Ophelia grinned. Though she strolled through the bazaar with a calm expression and elegant stride, Ophelia could not stop her large bushy tail from wagging madly to and fro. Her mind was racing with thoughts of adventure and exploring the miraculous human city. What sort of wonders laid within the golden city full of steam? What sort of mischief could she get into? Perhaps there was a secret cavern underneath the city just beginning to be thoroughly explored. Maybe there was a secret treasure buried deep within the bowels of the city, laying wait for thousands of years for someone to discover it and loot the contents within it. There were thousands of possibilities for Ophelia to explore and she was absolutely sure she was going to have the adventure of a lifetime.


With her mind clouded by thoughts of grandeur and their eyes locked upon the amazing stalls around her, Ophelia had little time to notice the stranger who collided straight into her. The lycan let out a yelp of surprise and took several steps back, head snapped to attention as they stared at the stranger with wide eyes.

"I'm so sorry! I didn't mean to- to- to hit... you?" Ophelia nodded, brushing off her shoulders as she regained her composure. Before she could say anything however, the stranger spoke once more in a much lighter tone. “Wow! That's exciting! They look so fuzzy! Are they soft? Can I pet them? Your tail! Your tail wags just like a dogs! Are you part dog?” Ah, of course. Humans were very curious about lycans. They had a reason to of course, the tribe was forbidden to see humans and Ophelia didn’t know any other lycans outside of her tribe so they were possibly the only ones around. Although they had been stopped and questioned by several humans before, Ophelia was nevertheless excited about being stopped.


“I have no idea what you just said,” they said excitedly as the stranger’s enthusiasm began to rub off on them. “Well, that’s a lie. I sorta know what you said but you spoke really fast and I’m a terrible listener.” The vibrant coloring of the human’s clothing caught Ophelia’s attention and she cocked her head as she looked at it. “Your clothing is absolutely gorgeous!” Ophelia gasped as she walked around the strange, picking up pieces of the fabric and pulling them to her nose so she could sniff it. “How did you get such pretty colors into it?” Ophelia stopped in front of the human, tail wagging and and a giant goofy grin spread across their face. “You... you have a really pretty face.” Ophelia said as she looked more closely the stranger. Goodness, she had almost forgotten how beautiful humans could be. Lycan didn’t really care about their appearances but humans certainly did. They all looked so unique from one another and even though two humans could look completely different, they could be gorgeous in their own ways. It didn't matter if they were male, female, young, old, or anything in between. It was both frustrating and absolutely fascinating to see. “Why are you so pretty?” Ophelia questioned as she gently cupped the human’s face and squeezed their cheeks together.


(Just a head's up, I got some help from Thael in terms of describing the city so everything should be accurate.)

Edited by Doctortear

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(( For the sake of story, I'll try to play as any NPCs you people encounter unless you give them names or otherwise say so. This is for you to be able to more easily delve into the environment.






Below the towering, golden walls of Apollo's Chariot, the castle in the center of the city lays a sprawling complex of manors and common homes dispersed amongst commercial shops and the zeppelin docks. Large amounts of people, either commercing, or simply conversing, walk down the entire length of the roads formed of cobblestone and other materials.

Far to the south is the Golden Sea, a body of water which connects to the vast Ocean of Sol. The Golden Sea is where most of the pirates and traders make their home, and it is the dream of many young men and women to go and sea the ocean beyond Sol.

To the north, the Shining Forests of the Sundrop, a large mountain said to be formed of solid gold, but this is merely myth. It is just shrouded in glowing rocks and minerals, making it shine like gold in the sunset.

And to the East and West, the lands of the Outlanders, people who do not live in Apollo, as well as the numerous other cities that span the length of Sol.

Far to the West, past the Meadows, lies the Temple of Apollo. It would take a week to reach this by horseback. But many make the pilgrimage to pay homage to the great God who blesses their world with the warmth of a living Sun.


This great city is known as Apollo, the City of the Sun.


A great sign decorated the front of a large, wood and metal building that seemed rather intimidating to an outsider. The words "STARLIGHT STEAMWORKS" were plainly visible to any who laid eyes upon it. Many came here to be trained. Many came here to work. But, as today was Restday, not many felt the need. Only a scarce few apprentices dashed through the metal and machinery, the steam making a soft hiss as each thing performed its task without question.

In the center of it all, examining a small, clicking device, was a hulking man who didn't look as though he should be here.

A slight tapping awoke Bear from his thoughts as he sat within the depths of his workshop.

"What do you think I'm here to tell you?"

Bear turned, pulling the goggles from his eyes to stare at the visitor stepping within his shop. A lean, wisened, middle aged man so familiar to Bear's eyes.

Of course, it would have to be this way. This was his father.

"Oh, good day, Father." Bear waved over the rack of machine parts that separated them both. "What seems to be the trouble?"

"Trouble? I have to have some form of TROUBLE to see my son in his shop? What has this world come to?" Theodore replied, stepping into the confines and clicking the switch to close the door behind him.

"Well, you did ask me what you could be here to say, so I assumed..."

"Ah. Quite right." Theodore replied, coming to stand in front of the rack of steel and iron. "Yes, you do recall what you must do in two hours, correct?"

"Two hours?" Bear asked, checking his watch. His mind flashed for a moment.

"Oh right." he nodded, taking a sip of his coffee. "The new apprentices."

"Not JUST apprentices, my young son." Theodore tapped. "Some of the finest new inventors and crafters that have been seen in AGES. I have been told by the others on the Council that quite a few of them have ideals and motivations that could change the very FACE of Apollo. Mark these words, my boy..." Theodore leaned over the metal, grabbing a small piece used to make watches and looked at it with a discerning eye. "You need to go and see them, lest this Steamworks lose the chance at getting some very good new hands."

"But I'm already full on apprentices." Bear said, motioning to a boy and girl in the back. "Plus the three who aren't here today."

"Surely my intelligent and hard-working son wouldn't mind having a few more hands to ease the weight? Besides, one day hes going to have to have time to take care of children and won't have time to take care of this shop every hour of the day." his father added the last pit with a prod of his cane. "Hopefully VERY soon."

"Yes, well..." Bear said, turning back to his work. "If it will please you, I'll go and meet them shortly. The Science and Literature building again?"

"Not this year. Since the renovations on that building aren't done, it will be taking place at the West Minister, down the way." Theodore gestured with his free hand. "By the way, are you STILL tinkering with that Spider of yours?"

"Huh? Of course." Bear said, holding out the small robot with admiration. "After all, you're the one who said 'an invention can always be better.'"

"Curse you using my words against me, you little rascal." Theodore chuckled, tapping Bear's head with his cane. "That doesn't mean you can ignore your other needs. Your mother's worried you're not eating right again."

"Tell her I'm fine. I've been getting my meals from Esmerelda." Bear said, turning back to the table.

"The daughter of the Coalsons?"

"Yes. Her."

"She's bringing you food?"


"For nothing at all? At times of the day?" Theodore asked.


"Is she single."


"What? How much more oblivious can you get, son?" Theodore said, holding out his cane. "She's bringing you food. She's attractive. She's taking care of you. Do you really not see what's going on here?"

"It's because I helped her with her grandfather's antique clock. Nothing more." Bear replied, picking up a wrench and beginning small adjustments.

"THREE MONTHS AGO, Bear!" Theodore protested, waving his arms. "Are you really this naive?"

"Father, ... you might be right but.."

"I KNOW I'm right. But enough about that. Get ready to go see those apprentices." Theodore said, turning to head back to the door. "And don't forget to wash up before you go."

"Right.. right..." Bear sighed, finishing his current work and turning to his watch again.

"Well... may as well start getting ready."




Within two hours, Bear was strolling down the streets, past the Alfred's Tailor's shop which had made his beautiful, starlit suit (but that's a story for another time... told in another life) and past the stalls which hawked the trinkets that they had made that day.

He rubbed his nose thoughtfully, then scratched his chin. West Minister.. that Church to Apollo hadn't been used in some time save for the classes for children on the weekends. Today, it was reserved for the Selection of new Apprentices.

As he stepped along, he moved through a few people. He heard some gasps from nearby as new children inventors noticed him moving among them. He smiled pleasantly back, waving.

"Oh, looking for a new inventor, eh?"

Bear turned, stopping short of the stairs to West Minister.

"You are?" he asked.

"Gay. Joseph Gay. My child's very obsessed with your work." he said, shaking Bear's hand. "They and I came here today to get their apprenticeship taken care of... but now they've wandered off. Vertie?"

He looked around, perplexed. Where had that child gotten off to?

"Vertie! Can you give them a second? Trust me, they're very ambitious."

Bear gave him a concerned look, frowning.

"I'm not sure we're allowed to meet the apprentices before the Screening.."

Joseph sighed, adjusting his suit nervously.

"That's not my worry right now. They haven't been to this city many times and they're quite young. I'm worried where they are now. VERTIE?!"

He yelled over the crowd but the loud noises of the other apprentices with their parents and the people heading up the steps drowned him out.

Bear checked his pocketwatch.

"If they don't hurry, they'll miss getting in here. They don't allow for stragglers."

Joseph blinked, a cold sweat breaking on his forehead.

"All of their work and aspirations, just because of them getting lost for one minute?! VERTIE!!?"

He swallowed deeply for a moment. Bear laid a hand on his shoulder, holding a thumb up.

"I'll help you find .. them? Two children?" he asked, confused.

"No. One child." Joseph stated firmly. "Why do you ask?"

"Because you keep saying them..." Bear said.

"Oh, they prefer that." Joseph nodded. "I hope you don't mind."

"...As long as their minds show desire to learn, I really don't care what they like to go by." Bear shrugged. "Just new to me is all."

"Oh bless you." Joseph said, then described Vertie in great detail. Bear listened intently, then checked his watch.

"I'll go see if I can find them. You stay here in case they come back." Bear ordered, wandering into the crowd.




After a while of looking about, his eyes came upon a lycan and another person. He hadn't had to look long at all, thankfully. They could still make the door.

"Hey, is your name Vertie?" Bear asked, stepping towards the teen. "Your father says you're here for an apprenticeship? You should probably come on before the doors shut."






Do you not understand? You serve the War President now. Any actions taken against what he says are null and void and considered treason by the government. Another action like this previous, and we will be forced to take lethal measures.

Treason will not be stood for.


His vision swam as he sat in the bar. The neon sign outside blinked "LE_H'S CAF_" as best it could, two of the letters having been blown out by agitated, drunken customers. But it was still obvious what this was - a lower class drinking establishment.

"You really... should stop."

A kindly, homely looking girl across from the counter stared at the man with concern.

"I'm.... not THAT intoxicated." Garas replied, gripping the glass tightly. "I've only had... what... three?"

"Five. The sixth was nothing but flavored water, sir." Fallea admitted sheepishly. "I'm concerned for your health."

She was busy wiping down the bar, Garas watching with half-interest as he sat, brooding over his decision.

Two hours ago, he'd been standing in a seemingly abandoned building, given his first mission - kill the son of a family who had had a child illegally. Him, and his two parents, as breaking population laws and attempting to smuggle a child was considered treason against the society.

There they were, bags over their heads, placed in front of him. The father kept telling the other two to stay calm. But the mother was frantic. The child was crying. And it was all he could do to stand there with the gun in his hand, his superior officers waiting impatiently.

Garas, just always remember that life is precious. You are your mother's special child, right? No matter what happens, remember that your job isn't to kill - it's to protect.

He had snapped, shooting one officer in the arm and the other in the leg, then jumped from the building, crashing out of the window to the water below.

Life hadn't meant anything anymore. He was now an enemy of the state. In his confusion, the water had drifted him towards the Slums, and he had fallen down a drainage runoff into Winters.

Smelly, dressed in military gear, cold, and wet, he had stumbled through the town, gaining the sight of several passerby. Finally, an elderly man, fearing for his safety, had stopped him.

"Whatcha doin' there, boy? You'll catch a death of cold ya keep like that."

"Death is only fitting." Garas whispered, coughing. "I deserve it. I have broken the laws of the state."

"Come off it." the old man replied, depressed for the boy. "Nothing is so bad that you deserve to die for it, ok well... some things, yea. But... I doubt ya did 'em. Ya don't have the eyes."

"The eyes?"

"Of a killer."

After a long conversation, the man had introduced himself as Reld. Through him, Garas had learned of several things, such as how things went down here.

After ending their conversation, Garas found himself wearing his shirt, with only his pistol, pendant, and military pants, and Reld throwing his military gear into the sewers below.

"Yer a new man, Garas. And if you ever need anymore help, ya let me know, got it? I'm here for ya. Oh, and tell Fallea I said hi!" he waved. "Never forget, down here, people are right kind."

"Thank you, sir." Garas had waved, walking off.

And now he found himself in a seedy bar, sitting in front of a girl who was cleaning glasses and existing as though nothing that had happened to him mattered.

Ah well. It was better this way. He stood from the chair, stretching.

"Is there a bathroom?" Garas asked, beginning to walk off.

"Down the hall. Lock's broken." Fallea added, "So make sure to knock."

"Right..." Garas moaned, heading down the hallway. On the way down, he passed by a girl with cat ears, holding a laptop in her hand.

"Do not vomit in there if you can help it." she said, removing a candy from her mouth that was on a stick - which, Garas had never seen before - "I have to clean it because Fallea is too 'dainty'."

"Uh... huh..." Garas replied, his vision swirling. Being drunk was very strange and foreign. He'd never drunk a day in his life before. What would his mother say now? Not that it really mattered.

He knocked on the door, then stumbled into the empty bathroom, closing the door behind him and gazing into the window.

"Who am.. I now..?" he whispered into the glass, concerned. But his reflection offered no response.

Outside, the rain continued to shower over the people without relent.






After watching the drunken stranger stumble off, Hallea gave a few more licks of her candy before she sighed, disdainful.

"He is going to throw up. I can already tell." she groaned. "They always do."

She pulled the laptop from her side and leaned against the wall, tapping a few keys on it with little enthusiasm.

"What are you doing over there?" Fallea asked, calling into the hallway.

"Ordering baking soda and bleach." Hallea replied. "Want some? I am sure drinking bleach is absolutely fine."

Fallea laughed.

"Maybe I should start serving it to customers, then. New taste sensation." she replied, finishing cleaning.

"It would liven up things, maybe." Hallea replied half-interested, finishing her typing. "Call me if the deliveryman shows up."

"Got you!" Fallea said assuredly. Hallea opened the door to her room, put the laptop on the desk, and fell onto her bed backward, huffing.

"So dull." she stated flatly, rubbing her forehead.

Edited by Thaelasan

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"I have a asldk what asdkhgioikwe said. Kjasdi, that oijndfs. I sorta know what oijk said but oihlksj spijoijk really fast and I lkasdhkj listener." The dog-girl spoke! Vertie didn't know why that surprised them but they were excited to hear the person speaking, even though they didn't understand every word that fell from their lips. A different language then. Maybe something native for the dog-girl but similar to their own natural tongue? Oh no, she was examining them now and Vertie grew anxious, nervously plucking at the ruffles on their dress as the dog-girl circled them. “Diknesd aoisdhfk is absolutely gorgeous! How did oaihkje aduhjne such pretty colors oljkne it?”


The person stopped in front of them, a large silly smile on her lovely face. Glancing over, Vertie could see her tail wagging excitedly. The sight made them start to giggle, a portion of their anxiety washing away. Their giggling was cut short when the dog-girl's eyes seemed to examine them more intensely. “Kewhk... ilkjfs have a really pretty face. Why are polkjmwem pretty?” Vertie's face grew warm, a tint of red creeping into the pale, dark coloring of their skin at the person's words. Unexpectedly, she started to touch their face, cupping and squeezing their cheeks.


A tremor ran up and down Vertie's spine at the dog-girl's uninvited touch but they clamped their teeth down on their tongue in an attempt to not freak out. The dog-girl seemed to have good intentions, just simply not aware of personal boundaries. ["Would you mind letting go of my face?"] Vertie mumbled, their words sounding a little warped due to the manipulation of their cheeks.


"Eoik, oihe ihe Vertie?" Blinking, Vertie shifted their gaze towards a new voice. For a moment, all they saw was a really tall young man in nice clothes. "Klke father says askje ihnes for an lknwef? Bneioj oihklne probably come oihkmwle gbujnew nmoinwe."


And then it hit them. ["Bartholomew Starlight!"] Vertie almost screamed, jerking their head free of the dog-girl's hands. They nearly tripped as they stumbled to turn and face the man. Nonononononono! They hadn't expected to meet him in person so soon! Let alone in such a manner, with their cheeks smushed between a stranger's hands! Oh no, this was too embarrassing! And he spoke to them by name! Wait, Bartholomew mentioned their father. O-o-oh was he going to be mad about them getting lost!


["M-m-mr. Starlight! I-I'm so sorry!"] Vertie started quickly, smiling anxiously. I don't understand everything you just said... Breathe! Take a breath and relax! Inhaling deeply, Vertie darted their gaze to the ground quickly as they worked to regain their composure. ["I don't un-"] Wait, wrong language! "Sorry. Don't understand... well. Apollo language not best." Oh, they sound so stupid! Swallowing, Vertie continued. "Got lost. Said 'father'? Where?"


This really wasn't the way they hoped things would go! If they hadn't gotten lost, things would be so much better! Less embarrassing too. But, oh! Mr. Starlight wanted them to come? "Going!" they stated excitedly, glancing back at dog-girl and snatching at her hand. ["Come with! It'll be exciting!"] they encouraged, hurrying to follow Mr. Starlight towards a tall building with a bell-tower. If not for the tower, the building's height would have capped at three stories above the ground. A second building was joined to the church on one side, a clear but architecturally beautiful remodeling.


["There you are! You had me worried! I told you not to wonder off, sweetheart,"] their father said quickly upon seeing his child.


["I'm sorry! I got distracted by everything,"] Vertie replied, sheepish. The man shook his head and sighed, smiling nonetheless and ushering Vertie into the church. He gave a brief, curious glance at the dog-girl but said nothing, knowing he would get an explanation later.

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The stranger spoke ago in the same foreign tongue that Ophelia only vaguely recognized. She cocked her head to the side curiously as the stranger squirmed between her hands. Were they uncomfortable with having their face held? Back in the tribe, physical contact was used frequently by the pack members to convey thoughts and feelings. It was used along with speech and body language in communication. Did humans not use physical contact to talk with one another? The idea was perplexing but Ophelia wouldn't be surprised if that were true. Humans and lycans were so different from one another and even after several months of interacting with them, Ophelia was still fascinated by the differences between her own culture and that of the humans. She figured she'd have to get used to how the human world worked eventually, otherwise she'd end up making a complete fool of herself.


Before Ophelia could remove her hands from the stranger, another human appeared. The pretty human in the dress reacted violently to the man's arrival. They jerked their head out of Ophelia's hands and turned to the large man, babbling incoherently before switching to a tongue that Ophelia understood. Ophelia looked up at the strange big man, blinking curiously up at him as they looked him over. He was absolutely enormous, he was almost as big as a fully transformed lycan. He reminded Ophelia of a big burly bear lumbering out into a sunny spot in the woods to take a relaxing nap. Ophelia bet his cheeks would be twice as squishy as the pretty human's, but, as Ophelia was contemplating the thought of standing on their tiptoes so she could squish the man's face, she remembered the pretty human's discomfort, they reluctantly decided against the idea.


"You're really big," Ophelia commented as glanced up at the taller male. "You are a human, right? I haven't seen any humans as tall as you before." Ophelia's tail had began wagging furiously once more. She wanted to ask the tall man all sorts of questions about his size and the strange gizmos he was wearing on his body. Of course, before Ophelia could ask any questions, the pretty human grabbed her hand and began tugging her along after them. "Oh, okay then!" Ophelia said as she allowed herself to be dragged along by the pretty human. The two humans marched towards a giant building with a bell tower connected to it. The lycan glanced up in awe, taking in the beauty of the building before being stopped by the pretty human who paused to talk to a strange man who gave Ophelia a curious glance. "Hey there!" Ophelia chirped as she squirmed her hand out of the pretty human's grasp and walked up to the man. She leaned forward and gave the man a curious sniff before taking a few steps back to marvel at the grand building she was led to.


"What kind of a building is this?" Ophelia questioned as she glanced back over at the pretty human. "I've seen these kind of buildings before but people don't really do anything in them. They just sit down and listen to another human talk for a really long time. Seems boring to me, but everyone does something for a reason, right?" Though she had, yet again, no idea where she was, Ophelia was nevertheless happy to be dragged along to a new area she had never seen before. It was the beginning of her adventure in the big city. So what if she didn't know what was going on? There was no adventure without uncertainty of what laid ahead.

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That accent. A nomad? A Nomad wanting to be an apprentice? Bear thought to himself, looking at the young child as they spoke nervously. This was a new idea to him entirely. It was expensive to get into the city, and not many Nomads had made the trip recently. They normally kept to themselves, teaching themselves their own arts...

But, whatever the reason, the thought was enticing. A NOMAD apprentice. He then looked down at the other girl.

She looked up at him.

He looked down at her.

She looked up at him eagerly. Her tail wagged.

Mentally, Bear had the sudden urge to scratch her head but deigned not to do it. At least, not at this current juncture, in front of a hundred or more people and their children.

Instead, he followed Vertie and the dog-girl back to the West Minister, where Vertie had their reunion with their father and spoke in the Nomadic tongue. Thank Goodness for those classes he'd been forced to take as a boy. All the Nomad customers he had would have been unintelligible otherwise.

He followed them into the door as everyone took their seat. He, however, was led to the front by the rest of the Inventors looking for new, bright minds to work with. Each of them took a seat, whereupon one of the inventors stood to his feet - but, he was not an inventor.

Enter one of the most disciplinary tacticians sent straight from the Ministry of No You Can't Touch That, who had been trained under the finest military minds of the Ministry of How Do You Wield This and the Ministry of That's Not How That Works.

Sergeant Eugene Xavier Peterson Edward Robertson Thompson Spice, Esq, the top of the line, the greatest in discipline, the most ruthless of seeking what children have done wrong. And now, he stood before the entire group, and he coughed.

And he ahemed.

And he cleared his throat.

And he swallowed.

And he coughed again.

"RIGHT THEN!" he stated firmly, in a very loud, very booming voice that startled even Bear from his comfort. "I have been TOLD by the COUNCIL that each of you little INGRATES are trying to enter our fair city and TAKE UPON yourselves the PRIVILEGE of being the next generation of INVENTORS, CRAFTERS, and THOUGHT PROVOKERS!"

He pulled a bull whip from his side and smacked it on the desk in front of all of them, his face stern. He looked over each of the inventors, whistling.

"MY... My my my.... ONLY A SELECT FEW of you have the EYES of a TRUE INVENTOR!" he stated firmly, smacking the desk for emphasis. "The EYES of ASPIRATION! Of DREAMS! Yes... only a FEW!"

He stood in front of all of them now, at attention.

"My name, for YOU, is Sergeant Spice. THE Sergeant Spice. IF you have not heard of me before, NOW you have!! I expect you to NEVER forget the name of the MAN who TURNED you from CHILDREN into APPRENTICES with ONE, SIMPLE TEST."

Bear leaned over to Vincent Asther, his uncle and father of another notorious inventor, and whispered, "He hasn't changed from when I was a boy. You?"

Meanwhile, Sergeant Spice continued to berate the children, yet his words never really became insults or toxic. They were merely commanding. Finally, he stood at ease, his body relaxed.

"I say ALL of that to say THIS.... Welcome, APPRENTICES, to APOLLO, City of the SUN!" he said, holding out his arms. "Here, you may FREELY seek your dreams, to become whatever you WISH to be. Whatever BROUGHT you here, whether FAMILY, FORTUNE, or ANYTHING BEYOND, you are now all CHILDREN of APOLLO. But there is ONE, FINAL thing you must do."

He smacked the table again, turning to Bear.

"YOU, Mister BARTHOLOMEW, do you have any WORDS of MOTIVATION for the children gathered here today?" Sergeant Spice asked, everyone in the crowd looking at him.

There were a few gasps from children as they realized who he was, the Nomad translators and Spirit translators telling the children what Sergeant Spice had just said.

"Erm..." Bear began, rubbing the back of his head.

"A BIT MORE BACKBONE, Bartholomew!" Spice smacked Bear on the back of his head, not painfully, but enough to get his attention.


"You are a PROPER inventor now." Spice said proudly. "One of my students as WELL! SURELY, you know what these children are going through."

"I won't be arrogant and say I know EXACTLY what they're going through..." Bear began, scratching his rugged chin. "But.... uh...Well."

He stood up straight, his posture noble and regal.

"There are those of you who do not speak the tongue of Apollo yet. I understand that. You come from different backgrounds, different motivations, different pasts." he began, looking at each one of the children (with a special glance to the dog-girl and Vertie), "But each of you have one thing in common - you all want to learn. You dream. You aspire. You have ambitions to create. That's something precious - something you should never lose."

He coughed a moment.

"One thing I want all of you to learn, as your first word of Noble tongue, the first thing that you understand when you hear it, is Dream. Learn this word, think of it, mull over it, look it over, study it. Embrace it. Everything you see in Apollo is the product of a man or woman's dream. It's the work, the dreams, of multiple people that has kept this city alive and thriving for more than a thousand years. In fact, I feel ashamed that I don't contribute enough to it on a daily basis. But knowing that I could leave a lasting mark here, to help people - that's why I invent.

But don't ever forget who you are, and most importantly, hold on to that Dream, the dream that brought you here. That's what you need to focus on. That's what you need to bring to life."

He let the words rest over the ears of the children before sitting down himself, slightly anxious, but feeling he said enough.

After everyone had given their own applause for his speech, Spice replaced him on the podium, pointing at the tables.

"In front of you is a test, written in different TONGUES, for EACH of you SPECIFICALLY." he said with emphasis. "From this TEST shall we GLEAN your level of MOTIVATION. From them SHALL we LEARN more ABOUT you, and this is how you will be CHOSEN by your MENTOR for the next 3 YEARS of your LIVES. If, you ACCEPT your mentor, and wish to CONTINUE to be TAUGHT by them, then you must file a SEPARATE application with the Ministry of Mentors down the road. BUT THAT'S A LONG WAY OFF."

He looked at Bartholomew with a bit of praise, then turned back to the children.

"Alright students, you may begin at your LEISURE. There is NO time limit. But MAKE SURE the answers are HONEST." he noted, frowning. "LYING will serve you NOTHING."

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"Are we there yet?"

"Almost, just a few more hours."

"We've been walking for days, though."

"We usually do."

"Yeah, but, why couldn't we have just taken one of those floating flying contraptions?"

"Cause someone failed to hide her tail just as we were about to gain access."

Now, encountering obstacles during his travels wasn't something terribly new to Damien, even some slight hesitation at the main gate before finally gaining access. What he wasn't expecting, however, was not just one, but two instances that almost prevented him from being able to enter Apollo.

At the main gate, leading in from the main road, Damien encountered a guard who had told him to wait. Of course, this was nothing too unnatural for a man who was traveling with a devil familiar, what he wasn't expecting was for him to be granted permission to enter while his partner had to stay outside.

Looking back at her, Damien heaved a sigh, rubbing a hand down his face, feeling the bristles of hair that had started growing down his cheeks and around his chin. Exchanging glances, Damien turned back to the guard and set his pack down for a moment.

"Look, I'm just here to speak with a Bartholomew and exchange some of potions before heading on out, we don't intend to cause any problems or anything, nor were we planning on staying for very long."

"I'm terribly sorry, sir, but with the recent demon attacks on the outer towns, we're just placing the necessary precautions. Nothing against either of you personally."

"So what, leave my partner out here alone to fend for herself while I worry about her on the inside?"

"Honestly, I'd be fine by myself."

Damien shot a glare over to her, which she responded with a casual whistle. Still, after the guard denied them entry once again, he decided not to pursue the matter further and began lifting up his pack. Such shifting caused his pendent to fall out of his shirt and dangle freely in the air, catching the eye of the guard.

"Ah! Excuse me, sir! That pendent, where did you acquire it?"

"Passed down to me by father, which he got from his own before him, why?"

"Forgive my rudeness, sir. I had not realized you were a Vance. Please, please, both of you move along and enjoy your stay."

Damien didn't quite know how to deal with the sudden change, but wasn't going to argue the matter if it meant both of them were allowed in. Still, that was only the first problem he had to deal with, the next was the toll gate on the opposite side of the wall, at a second gate just before entering the city itself.

"Excuse me, sir, we need a minimum payment of a hundred and fifty SOLARS for you to enter."

"Wait... I have to pay to enter? The last guard said I was good, but now I have to... how much did you say it was?"

"A hundred and fifty SOLARS, sir."

"A... a hundred.... a HUNDRED AND FIFTY SOLARS?! Just to enter?! Look, I'm just here to see a Bartholomew, maybe trade a few of my wares and potions, and then go on my way."

"Well, sir, if you have a seal, you would be permitted to do as you please, but unless you have a seal or pay the Ministry of Mercantile, we can't let you in... we just can't. However, if absolutely necessary, you may take out a loan from the Ministry of Investment, we can even get you set with a representative right away."

Suddenly, Lilith cleared her throat, catching the guard's attention as she motioned towards Damien's neck.

"What about his pendant? When the last guard saw it, we gained entry almost immediately, so it has some kind of meaning to everyone here, does it not?"

Just as the words left her mouth, one of the guards seemed to gasp, pointing at the pendant like it was some holy relic not seen in ages.

"Oh... oi... that's the pendant of Vance."

"It is... what should we do?"

"Let's... inform the Guard Captain."

"Of what?!"

"Two newcomers, one... what's your name, sire?"

"Damien Vance, son of the Archmagus Fredrick Vance."

"And the young miss with you?"

"My apprentice and familiar, Lilith."

"Tell the Guard Captain that we have Damien Vance and his apprentice Miss Lilith, awaiting entry by the North Gate."

Figuring it would take a moment for word to get back down to them, Damien set his bag down once more and took a seat on top of it, Lilith plopping down right next to him, a rather mischievous look on her face at the moment.

"Apprentice? Me? Sometimes I feel you could learn a thing or two from me, but it doesn't matter. What does matter is when we get back to your hometown you need to stop by your Father's grave and make sure you properly thank him."

"Yes, yes, I was planning on it. We have two more cities to stop at before making it back, though, so be sure to remind me when we get there."

After some time had passed, the guard returned with not only the Guard Captain's permission to enter, but, as a means to prevent any further issues, he provided a seal for Damien to use.

Taking to the streets, it took a moment for Damien to adjust dialects, but he eventually found someone who directed him to where he might be able to find Bartholomew. From what he was told, Bartholomew was a well-known inventor and engineer, and was currently at the church to overlook possible new apprenticeships. Taking into consideration the man would be a bit busy at the moment, Damien figured the best course would be to await for him at his shop. Which... was huge.

Standing outside, Damien took a moment to look over the space Bartholomew had been provided for his work. Lilith just simply stared at Damien's awestruck appearance for a moment before walking up to the door. When he noticed what she was doing, however, Damien shook his head and regathered his thoughts before taking her position at the door and motioning for her to wait. Knocking, Damien paused for a moment before opening the door and peering inside, looking around to see if anyone was present.

"Umm... hello? I'm looking for Bartholomew? I was wondering if he might be able to fix my pocket watch?"

Edited by zakku_uchiha

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"Oi no shovin'! He said not to let anyone in while he was away!"

"It can't hurt to take a peek, can it?"

"Don't go breakin' Master Bear's rules! He don't deserve that!"

"But look! It's just fixing a pocket watch. We could do that!"


"No. Not like Master Bear could. Besides, we dunno how much it costs for th' parts."

"Well we could at least get 'im a drink, right? Master Bear wouldn't like us to be in... inhospitable."


A young, dirty-looking child of roughly 12 years old scurried up to the mage in question, looking him over.

"Sis! He's a MAGE!"

"Cor! Does he know any tricks?"

"Mister, you know any magic tricks?!" the young child asked, concerned.


The slamming of a cane brought both of the children back away as a person emerged from behind Damien and Lilith, looking them both over. He coughed a moment.

"Apologies, Master Mage, but my son is currently at the Choosing occurring at the West Minister. It's a very prestigious event. He couldn't miss it." he added, pleased that Bear actually HADN'T this time. "If I could, I wouldn't mind taking a look at your watch. But I understand if you're seeking his craftsmanship. He's better with clockwork anyway. I fancy aviation a bit more."

He slowed down a bit as he noticed the companion the mage had with him.

"....Er... is she...?" he began. "Not to be rude but with... everything that's happened.... No, nevermind. She's safe, isn't she?"

He stepped within the door, leading them both inside.

"Well get in I suppose and have a look around. We'll see what we can do."

Edited by Thaelasan

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"Ah, there's no need to call me Master Mage, my name's Damien and this is my... umm... apprentice, Lilith."

Looking in the direction of the two children before turning back to the older gentleman.

"I take it those two are Mister Bartholomew's apprentices? And he's seeking another one? Short handed?"

As he spoke, Damien also began removing the pocket watch he kept sheltered in the front pocket of his vest, unclamping it from the button it hung from and then holding it out.

Spinning in the dull light, the silver accentuated what light was inside, making the emblem on the front stick out more than it usually did. Of course, like his pendant, the watch had his family crest emblazoned on the front, but was otherwise nothing terribly remarkable in terms of overall craftsmanship. However, this was the only other thing he had reminding him of his parents, so he did his best to make sure it stayed safe and in working order. Still, even time required maintenance every so often, his watch taking a rest roughly two weeks ago.

"It was my parent's wedding gift, from my great grandfather. Just... want to see it ticking again, if it's not too much trouble. I've got potions of vigor and some that help increase concentration, even got some materials from the South Reach you might find useful to trade for your services. If necessary, I even know a few cleansing spells to rid your body of malnourishment and more uncommon sicknesses."

As much as Damien didn't want to admit it, the biggest thing he lacked as a traveling 'merchant' was a sufficient amount of Solars. This was mainly cause he used what he got for stock and supplies and repairs on the equipment they already had. Of course, it didn't help much that Damien often provided his services free of charge, almost depleting his stock of potions once in a town that was spreading a minor illness.

"Since he's not willing to speak up for himself, he'd also like a glass of water... we had a long, rough morning."

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Theodore shrugged off the need for payment.

"No. My son doesn't take credit for his work, seeing tinkering and solving problems as a hobby rather than a career. He does accept donations though, to keep this place up and running." Theodore pointed at the ceiling. "But nothing more than that. The current source of funding is his work in the field of automatons and ... of course, the money of the Starlights."

He stepped through the racks, using his cane to slide one covered in machine parts out of the way so that he could reach the desk where Bear normally worked. He relaxed, laying his cane on the table and putting a small, glass object on his eye for precision work. He groaned and stretched a bit, obviously happy to be back in this familiar environment.

"Oh yes... this chair always feels important.." he sighed happily. "My son... working so hard..."

He shook his head after a moment.

"Ah, no need to listen to the ramblings of a doting father. Please, hand me your watch. It'll take some time but I'm sure I can get it back to decent working order - at least until my son returns. I need to see him anyway." Theodore stated, holding out his hand. "If you need a place to rest until I finish, I believe the guest rooms are open in the back, near the places where the Apprentices sleep. They can show you. There's water in the front for machine cooling but I believe there's a spout for getting it for drinking, near the food area? Forgive me, I come here often but he always changes things to suit his needs for the current project."


In the back of the workshop, a small vine climbed over a window, curious, listening to the conversation. Behind that, a human face peered through the glass, staring at the three in the room...

Edited by Thaelasan

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For a moment, Damien sat in silence, listening as Theodore explained how the shop was able to continue daily business. Starlights? Like his own inheritance, Damien wasn't sure how to feel about the family's name, but he knew it held some kind of significance especially with how large the shop was. When he mentioned being a doting father, old and hazy memories flashed through Damien's mind before he snapped back to reality, shaking his head and moving closer to his elder.

As he passed the watch over to the man, Damien also took the time to observe the other workings scattered about the table and the workshop itself. So many gadgets littered the area, but one such device stuck out in his gaze. A small animatronic spider, that looked rather delicate, but the craftsmanship alone held Damien's gaze. Until he felt a tug on the back of his coat.

Turning to look at the one responsible, he noticed Lilith pointing at a Harmonizer, her eyes brimming with curiosity.

"What is that?"

"A Glove."

"You mean the items you use to help protect your hands?"

"Not quite. This one gives those who lack magic within themselves, the ability to use... well... magic."

"So, now you're telling me that not only do they serve a fire breathing, flying gecko, but they also have to use gems and trinkets just to use magic? Yet, when a demon or devil seeks aid, they shun us like pests."

"Some do, yes."

"Typical, but that brings up another question."

"What is it?"

"Do you serve the flying fire gecko?"

"I did."

"So, what happened?"

"I met a helpless little devil under a tree outside of an inn."

Lilith grew quiet, looking away from Damien and trying to find something else to focus her attention on. Smiling, Damien patted her head before turning back to Theodore and making sure he wasn't about to interrupt at an important part of his work.

"Thank you for your hospitality, I'll be sure to repay your kindness one day."

With that, he looked around for the young apprentices so that he might ask where to get some water as well as where he might be able to relieve himself. Slowly, the duo made their way towards the rear of the building, coming to a bedroom of sorts that seemed al out just as cluttered as the rest of main room. Was this how inventors really lived?

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「lynn ;; 」


Lynn sighed, the girl's delicate green eyes flickering around her. Though she grew up knowing this and nothing else, the streets of Luna still made her nervous with each passing day--she trusted not the constant darkness, nor the glances sent her way. Sometimes, it felt almost as if she was simultaneously the only one afraid in their cruel, cruel world, and one of a faceless mass that seemed to live only for survival.


But that wasn't why she was here, was it? No, the girl reminded herself, shaking her head even as her lips, pressed together in a grimace, faltered slightly--no! She had to be strong, for her brother, for a better life . . . she would find him, no matter what, and all would be well.

Think she did not of why he had disappeared in the first place; if she chose to dwell on past memories, she would never make it from the abyss of childhood into who she was now.

I'm almost a lady, she chided herself, and I can't be afraid of the dark forever.

Hesitantly, she took a wavering step towards the towering cafe. Large masses of people still scared her to this day, for the girl's trained senses and delicate conscience could not handle loud noises and angry, angry faces. She pushed open the door with a gentle nudge, as if afraid--if the door did not fall before her gentle force, would she give up this foolish quest?


But . . . I can't. She steeled her nerves, reminding herself why she was doing this--for a better future, for a better life--and entered.


She was greeted by an interesting sight--the cafe had a homely feel, almost, but she was still on edge--Lynn immediately took to the outer corners of the room, gently sliding herself near a kind-looking woman who appeared preoccupied wiping down the bar.


She cleared her throat. "E-Excuse me," she said gently, voice wavering. Her hands were folded in her lap, and she could feel herself trembling slightly--from the rain pelting outside that had stained her clothing, or her wounded nerves? She couldn't tell--"H-Have you seen a man? Um, he has green eyes, and dark hair, and he's about this tall . . ." She gestured vaguely with her hands, frowning as she attempted to remember her brother to the best of her ability--with every day that pass, memories had not been easy to retain; a faint blush spread on her cheeks as she attempted to get her message across.


「lime ;; 」


So this was Apollo.

The young wolf stretched as he strolled in the morning air, an apple in his hand. Sneaking into the city had been easy enough--nothing for the master thief Lime, of course!--for everyone was preoccupied with some apparently big event currently happening within a church . . . ?

Humans were a strange enough bunch. He'd listened to some chatter when he had masqueraded as a sailor to make his way into his the city, and though the lycan male could not understand all of being said, he picked up a few words here and there from previous knowledge.

He heard something about an apprenticeship, and wondered what that possibly was. A ship? Why were the humans so intensely excited about building a boat?


Lime shook his head. He would never understand these people, and that only made the bitterness within grow at the idea of Ophelia taking a fascination with what they did. His ears twitched as a response, flicking in annoyance as he scanned the area.

Where could she be? He'd run away from the leadership almost immediately when it was announced, and now he was lost. It was not so much that he wanted to find her, more that he needed to find and beg her to return because he was not one for responsibilities of any calibre.


He sniffed the air--gah, there were so many different scents around, intertwining in a way that made his head spin, and Lime growled--a noise low in his throat to display his annoyance, but suddenly--

His ears perked up just as he snapped his head up, his tail twitching slightly. What . . . ?

He caught the faintest lycan scent, and . . .

This was not just the scent of another lycan. This was the scent of someone who had been everything to him in a time when he had nothing, and the boy's eartips twitched as his heart began pumping in his chest, Lime holding his breath without being fully aware that he was doing so.

Ophelia . . . ?

He followed the scent, dashing through the streets without a second thought. He probably seemed mad--a wolf-eared male with a tail high up in the air, rushing past all with not a care for their wellbeing in his pursuit. Could it be? Was she truly here?


Following the scent lead him to a large building--and yet Lime paid no attention to the purpose of this place, only that it seemed she was within.

He slammed down the doors, head held high up in defiance.


Edited by Lady_Lunevis

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A hush fell over the entire church room. The door had just burst open, revealing a very crafty looking Lycan. Bear was already standing to his feet, Sergeant Spice with his bullwhip at the ready.

Everyone paused for a moment to collect their senses.

"Can... we help you?" Bear asked. Most of the students who had been working on their tests were now staring at the door.

This was unprecedented. An interruption during one of the most important ceremonies in Apollo, the Choosing?! Sergeant Spice moved forward with agitation, striding the length of the church. He ended with grasping the Lycan by the collar.

"Are you a LATECOMER?" he asked, in a booming voice. "DARING to show your face after the hour HAS ALREADY PASSED? What sort of MOCKERY of TRADITION is THIS?"

He frowned, staring at the boy for a long while.

"WHAT EXCUSE do you have for your TARDINESS?!" Spice roared, his face unreadable. It wasn't sure if he was angry or merely confused.




Garas and Hallea


Garas had somehow managed to keep his stomach contents where they belonged but his mind felt whoozy and broken. He had nowhere to turn. Nowhere to go. He'd rather die here in this bar than continue on. There was no more purpose. All he knew was this drunken stupor.

He stumbled from the bathroom, hand on the side of the doorframe, as someone stepped through the door.

"Raven?! We've bee-" Fallea cut herself off as she noticed the newcomer. "Oh. We're closed for today, dear. But...."

She ringed the rag out in the sink and tapped her chin after she'd finished.


A familiar face peered from a crack in her door.


"Help this girl find this man she's looking for, if possible, with your abilities." Fallea gestured with a thumb at the girl. "What'd you say your name was?"

Meanwhile, Hallea sighed, bored, as she retrieved her laptop from her desk and flipped it open, accessing it with her thumbprint.

"Fine fine... not like I am feeling tired at 11:00...." Hallea sighed. Not that it mattered down here. The darkness made it hard to tell the time without the regulated time that her laptop's clock displayed. It could have been 11 in the morning instead of the night and she wouldn't have known.

"Give me the description again...?" Hallea waved her hands as she left her room, displeased. "A name would help..."

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「lynn ;; 」


Crestfallen, Lynn was about to turn back when the kind woman spoke again, calling an unfamiliar name. They were closed . . . and yet still offering to help her? She blinked at this kindness, long lashes scattering across her cheeks.

"Thank you!" she immediately replied, nodding furiously to show her appreciation. "M-My name is Lynn, it's nice to meet you . . ."

A newcomer appeared then, someone with long, silvery-white hair and . . . cat ears?

Lynn blinked. Genetic manipulation . . . it wasn't unheard of, per se, but this was still her first time seeing anyone like this in person. The newcomer, one that the bartender had called Hallea, grabbed a laptop from nearby and grumbled something about being tired.

"I-I'm sorry," Lynn said, "I don't mean to interrupt, I can leave if it's too late . . ." Worried eyes scanned the faces before her, and Lynn made to get up. What time was it? In this forever darkness, she couldn't tell, and the girl wondered if it was too late for her to rush to her tiny apartment and forget this ordeal.

The plastic light of the laptop lit up the room as the girl with cat ears glanced up, seemingly displeased. Lynn gulped, waiting to be told to get out of their sight, yet . . .


"The . . . description?" she repeated, before snapping to attention. "Oh! Um, thank you, I appreciate this a lot, you don't have to help me, but you did, thanks . . ." She was aware that she was rambling, and she twisted a lock of her hair around her fingers as she did so, nervously playing with the light brown strands.

"He's tall, about six feet, with green eyes and dark brown hair. Um, he would've been 22 or so by now . . . Will--William Sieghart is his name."

Speaking his name made a cold wave of something rush over her body, and Lynn tensed. Something . . . didn't feel right, but she attributed that to being overly paranoid about this entire situation.

She scanned the room nervously as she waited, eyes taking in the cafe, trying not to make eye contact with anyone.

Edited by Lady_Lunevis

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She yawned for a moment, stretching.

"Fine fine..." she stated, typing quietly. "Seighart.. Seighart.. Sieghart..."

She went down the list for a long while, checking several names. Finally she paused. For once, she was unsure of telling someone some form of news.

But she wasn't one to lie out of kindness. Or maybe it was just she was blunt.

"This guy matches the description but I have some bad news for you." Hallea said, flipping the laptop around so that Lynn could see.

On the screen, a picture of a man in a mugshot matching Will's appearance was highlighted with a clear word - DECEASED.

"Seven years ago, he signs up on board a trading vessel heading out of Luna's Robert's docks heading for Loans." she read, clicking a few things. "A half a year later, the ship makes it to Loan's dock but half the ship had been destroyed and the crew was missing. Creepy..."

She scrolled down a bit more, reading on. She wouldn't dare tell the girl, but she had just hacked into the police mainframe of Loans, checking the case files. The girl didn't need to know she was committing a crime where they both stood.

"Several missing person's reports filed. A few corpses found lost adrift in the Murk. Several identified immediately. Others were missing fingerprints and even their blood and teeth, making correct DNA analysis difficult. A few were even missing heads." Hallea rubbed her chin. "I will not show you the pictures. They are very morbid. I do not think it would be good for your health."

She clicked a few more times, the screen alighting.

"Oh.... Hey, good news." Hallea said. "Turns out they are not even sure if some of the DNA matches were truly positive. Even with today's technology, that sort of thing made it very difficult Well, that is not true. Higher class cases could easily be matched immediately. It is just our luck we are not them."

She closed out of the search, giving Lynn a nod.

"The last place he was seen alive was in Robert's East Dock, Wing 5, in the harbor where they furnish trade ships. Maybe someone knows more?" Hallea shrugged. "But getting in there would be hard. That's one of the lines connected to the Arrow of Artemis. You need to already have a career in nautical or military to have permission to enter."

She waved, yawning again.

"Now, if you will excuse me, I must rest." Hallea said, shutting the door without saying anything further - as was her way.

Garas, who had been standing behind Lynn, listening in his drunken stupor, blinked.

"Wait... military careeeeer....?" he slurred, uncertain.

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Whilst Apollo's many residents went on about their lives or currently gathered around the West Minister church to wait for the ones that were taking a test within, a figure that was considered completely unnatural to the city slowly marched toward the main gates. His attire was almost the same as the one he wore consistently within him house, save for the buttoned-up front of his coat and the cane in his left hand, and his face was semi-hidden behind the raised high collar of his top.

"Psh... I seriously had to abandon the Spark Rail project for this?! Should've stayed at home and finished the calculations..." The man protested to himself as he continued to walk, irritation clearly noticeable in both his tone and gaze. For a moment, he came to a crawling stop, then turned halfway backward and stared at the stables in the distance. Would it not really be more preferable for him to return, take his horse and ride back the few hours it had taken him to reach the city...?

"Then again, Bartholomew did invite me," he seemed to reason with himself as he turned around with a sigh, then continued walking toward the gate, his cane clicking softly in rhythm with his shoes.

In truth, he really didn't wish to affiliate himself with the people of this city. His instincts often told him to avoid crowds and places where many would gather, but the word of his cousin had just enough influence over him to temporarily sway his interests and make him visit.

Raising his gaze up from the ground he'd been staring at for the past few minutes in silence, the man's eyes widened once he realized how close to the gate control he really was. His right hand rose toward his mouth and unbuttoned the coat from the front of his mouth, then folded the collar down so his head was not obscured. The guardsmen in front of him were now staring intently as he slowly approached the checkpoint, then came to a stop once they gestured for him to. They seemed bitter for some reason - was it because it was 'the Asther'? The one that didn't even get mentioned by the Caste and the Council?

"Ah, Miles. It's... unusual to see you here. I assume you're here to see the new Choosing?" One of the guards - a senior that had already seen him visit on a few other occasions - commented as he looked down in a list, then began inserting the man's name into it whilst his two colleagues shared a moment of quiet talk with each other.

"Yes - my cousin thought it would be an interesting idea for me to visit, even if I never pick an apprentice or find anything interesting," he replied casually as one of the two guardsmen stepped away and approached him, then began patting him down. Maximillian silently wondered if they did this to anyone else - however, he paid no heed and stood with open arms and legs, allowing the man to check for whatever he thought was necessary; they already knew about his bolter and Harmonizer, anyway, so his guess was that they were looking for something else he was carrying. Strangely, the pats along his head and lower back felt really unnecessary - was this man interested in the same sex or was he checking for something he didn't recognize himself? It left Miles confused, that's for sure.

Soon, the guardsman backed away and gave the senior a sign, to which he let out a sigh and added a few more details to the list in his hand, then finished with a large tick next to the man's name.

"Should've known even a Devil wouldn't disguise himself as Maximillian..." he mouthed under his breath, but was evidently caught by Miles anyway who simply read it along his lips. Only then did the reason for the guardsman's unnatural checks click with him - he was looking for standard Devil traits.

"Sorry for the uninformed security check - we've been having some trouble with Devils in the city lately, and we don't exactly want to let in any others. Most people need to pass through a physical and magical check, in case they're a Devil using magic or a fake persona to disguise themselves." The older guard explained as he placed the list in a holder on his side, then gestured to the third guard, whose eyes shone with blue light. A second passed until they dimmed, at which point the man turned and flipped a switch on the wall behind him.

"Yes, I figured that out, but... isn't that... a bit discriminatory?" Miles asked with raised eyebrows as he stared at the three, then heard the gates begin opening as their large gears turned the mechanisms of their hinges. He silently leaned on his cane as he awaited a response, which did come from the senior guard, but after a few moments of hesitation.

"It might be, but I'm just obeying orders. Came from the top itself, so I'm not going to risk... at least, for normal cases."

"And by that you mean...?"

"We just let in two newcomers to the city. One was a Vance, and the one escorting him was a Devil." The senior guardsman replied almost indifferently as he stared forward along the bridge, no longer even trying to acknowledge Miles' presence, whilst his colleagues waited for the man to go through. The inventor seemed to narrow his eyes at him and wondered how he could be so careless as to give away such important details - they could, for all he knew, be hunted by some contractor or debt collector. Then again, this on itself could make the guard a profit.

"I see... very well, then. Good day," Maximillian said with a nod as he stepped off through the now open gates, then heard the clockwork at the gates' sides begin yet again to switch them to a closed state.

"... so idiotic." The man seemed to randomly mouth to himself in regard to the trio once the clash of the two large gates came from behind him, then shook his head with a slight smirk and continued to walk. His rhythmic gait let out a pleasing click as his boots and cane synchronized, creating a slightly melodic beat that he absent-mindedly completed with a hummed tune...




After passing the second gate and gaining entrance to the city of Apollo itself, Miles stepped out of the gate section and into the busy central square that everyone was to walk into once they were through the security checkpoints.

"The city sure is busy today..." The man seemed to comment with his gaze in the clouds as he stood with his cane in hand, staring at the multitude of zeppelins floating above them. Looking down, he also noted the sheer amount of people walking past him - somewhere in the hundreds, if he had to give an estimate - and creating the feeling of an extremely large, bustling city that Apollo could honestly be called. Of course, this was the center of Sol, too, so underestimating its populace and importance would seriously be of bad taste.

Shaking his head slightly, Maximillian began to make his way through the crowds, knowing that he was probably already late for the Choosing's start. He had heard the bells signifying the exam's start as he finished his work at the second gate, anyway, so now he had to double-time it to reach the event before it inevitably came to an end only an hour or two after the bells first rang.

Thoughts of using magic passed through his mind as he struggled to make his way past the numerous walkers on the street. Truly, he could try his prototype's work with the new Grapple spell he'd learnt, as well as the Air Blast that would allow him to move in a certain direction... but he was not yet confident enough in using both properly, so he decided to avoid that and practice later, if he were to remain in the city tonight.

Instead, Maximillian did something else to increase his speed - chanting a short link of words in his mind, the man's glove gathered magic from the air and soon, the core shone furiously with a neon blue color. Channeling the magic into a new purpose through his Order Harmonizer, he let it dance along his fingers through the conductors and then let go of the spell as it reached his fingertips.

Instantly, a feeling of being light encased the man as he felt himself almost floating in one spot. Splitting from the crowd by walking onto a flower field - much to the dismay of various citizens that knew that was forbidden - he began to run forward, then leapt seemingly at random.

Strangely enough, instead of launching himself into the few people in front of him and coming down to the ground with them in tow, Miles' trajectory lead him flying above their heads and well into the air. He spread his arms and closed his legs into an arrowhead-like form as he flew through the air until he reached his first destination - the rooftop of a two-story building. From there, he continued with another leap that went clearly over a large bakery and landed on a steep street that, if followed, would lead him to the square on which the church was located.

Managing to scale the hundreds of meters of stairs through two large jumps, Maximillian landed with a soft thud on both his feet at the end of the staircase and found himself at the southwestern end of the West Minister church's plaza. Dispelling the magic in his body yet again through his gloves, which resulted in a temporary cloud of neon blue that quickly dissolved, the man placed his cane down and slowly walked forward to the entrance.

Strangely enough, the man found the entrance open - something he knew was most certainly not usual for the Choosing. As he came to a stop in front of the open doors, his figure staying bathed in light just before the shadows of the room's walls, he stared quietly at the commotion within.

Miles seemed to almost hide behind his own open collar as he suddenly found himself being stared at the majority of students - thankfully, he soon realized they were only staring in his direction instead, and raised his head up after taking a breath to calm himself.

"And what do we have here...?" The Asther commented as he stepped forward, his cane clicking along the floor as he analyzed the situation. Exactly in front of him was a figure he knew well - Sergeant Spice - who was holding a young Lycan man by the collar. Behind him, he could spot the easy-to-recognize figure of his cousin, Bartholomew, who was standing on his feet and seemed to have previously addressed the newcomer.

The situation clicked with him as he soon realized that the Lycan had probably burst into the room, surprising everyone with his sudden appearance and promptly leading to Spice's reaction.

He could see another Lycan in the room - the person of interest that the Lycan had been looking for, perhaps? - as well as various parents of the children, which included mostly Apollo citizens but, surprisingly, had a few Nomad families as well, if he could guess correctly.

The situation was tense, to say the least, and a large amount of people were staring in his direction, causing further discomfort. Miles had to solve this before he inevitably became either overwhelmed by the attention and had to walk off or hide because of sheer nervousness caused by being in the imaginary spotlight.

"Sergeant," The man began confidently as he stepped forward, then threw the cane and caught it so its longer end was above his hand and promptly lowered it with a smack onto Spice's hand, resulting in him unhanding the Lycan.

"It doesn't matter if the Lycan is an understudy or not. If he was late for the test, then it's simply his loss of time - if he visited because, say, he's a relative of someone in here, however, then there's no issue with that, too." He began at first, turning for a moment to stare at the ones in front of him. Regretting the decision, he swallowed slightly within the cover of his coat and continued.

"I do admit that his entrance was... very, very unsightly, but that is no reason to grab him by the collar and scold him like a child - he is a grown man that most likely does not originate from Apollo, considering he burst in during the Choosing, which is known well to all of our citizens. Moreover, by doing this, you're practically taking away the time of the students - and I can tell you, that is something of very bad taste," Maximillian spoke as he lowered the cane yet again, giving the Lycan a quick nod to assure him he'd handle the issue before he turned to the man.

"Please, take your position so we can resume the test calmly - after all, this is something very important for Starlight Steamworks and Apollo itself. I seriously don't think you wish to anger the families of these students by disrupting their work... right?" He asked with an inquisitive tone and a slight smirk on his face, aiming to calm the Sergeant - even if through a method he would probably consider irritating - before slowly turning around to the gates and cracking his knuckles.

Yet again his Harmonizer shone as it gathered magic from the air - then, without any real input, a beam of magic emerged from his fingertips and reached the gate's edge. There, it landed, creating a runic mark on the surface, which seemed to channel magic through the whole panel of the gate. Slowly, he dragged the beam toward the left, swinging the right door shut, and then repeated his action in reverse with the left panel of the double gates. Finished, he turned around and placed both hands on his cane before addressing the students that were looking at him.

「Continue with your tests, friends, so that you may one day also work on designs and strive toward perfection, like Bartholomew and I have done before and still do.」 Maximillian slowly exclaimed in the Nomad language almost all in the room would understand and then finished his short address with a quick smile on his face. Soon, the students returned to their work, and the Asther let out a relieved sigh.

Opening his coat quietly, he lifted his cane off the ground and activated the mechanism in the handle to fold the entire assembly into it before placing the cane in a small loop along his belt. There Miles remained, in silence, as he watched the others work and analyzed their tests. Occasionally, his gaze would skim over the two Lycans, as well as his cousin, but he wasn't the type to take the first step.










Far from the busy streets of the Winters district, within alleys very few knew intimately enough to roam in without risk of losing themselves, two strangers stood opposite of each other in complete silence. Their choice of meeting location was a very quiet alley between two abandoned buildings that once acted as a bazar for various deals on Sunlight and Daytime – a hallucinogenic drug that seems to bathe the world in light through temporary physiological changes in the retina and a combat stimulant that temporarily toughens the epidermal cells and also improves the body’s natural blood clotting ability respectively.

Run-down stalls lined both sides of the alleyway, filled with empty boxes and mementos of their previous owners, and multiple bullet holes showed evidence of a serious gunfight. Even various sprays of blood, neglected by the cleaning crew sent to this hellhole, remained to show where some had taken the last breaths of their lives. What was most heart-wrenching, however, was the evidence of children having been there, such as a couple of stray dolls or child-sized shoes. Multiple names and dates were written along the walls. They ranged from elders that were known in the community to infants. A terrible memory, to be exact.

The bazar had been destroyed last week, actually. An unexpected rat that revealed the location to the NSSF for a short-term rest in high class Athena and then a bit of money had led to the subsequent raiding of the entire sector around the bazar. A lone squadron was dropped from above, killing most that didn’t expect the attack and sending the others running. Then, multiple checkpoints set around the whole sector in a circle with a radius less than 2kms allowed all of the survivors of the initial meeting to be picked off.

The kill count was in the hundreds, as the day was good and there was a new batch of the experimental stuff – Gretoxin, a vaccine-like shot that would allow the body to create antibodies capable of fighting some sicknesses common to the slums, thus bolstering the body as a whole and acting like a one-time supplement. Of course, there was some debate as to where the Gretoxin had come from, as there were no scheduled raids in the days prior to the batch being sold, but most ignored the confusion behind its origin and had come to make use of the enticing drug’s properties - thankfully, Raven had not been one of them.

He wasn’t surprised to hear that the place had been attacked by the NSSF in a surprise raid, because to him, the drug could have only been acquired by someone in on the deal with them – after all, it was still experimental for the upper class too, and had been created almost solely for the tasks of the NSSF itself, which could temporarily be exposed to the multiple pathogens and contaminants that littered the air below once their filtering masks were removed.

What surprised him, however, was the sheer amount of non-gang members that had been on the meeting. Speaking with a couple of survivors, dealers and then visiting the location itself to compare names on the wall with people he knew had told him something horrifying – of the almost 180 people that died there on that day, less than 10 were gang members and dealers. All of the rest arranged from young families to orphans to elders of the community.

In truth, he didn’t mind people that used the drug. He himself smoked, and in a gloomy world like the slums and Winters district as a whole was, he found it perfectly normal to use things like Sunlight and Gretoxin to help oneself every once in a while. Hell, he was well-familiar with Daytime, as he would occasionally use it on operations that had risks of him being shot from many directions.

But all of that didn’t matter now, did it? The people he had vowed to defend were dead, killed because of what he considered his negligence, and the one to blame was known. He had to act.

He was here because of the man in front of him - the embodiment of the rat itself, the one that had directly been the reason for the raid and for the murder of Winters’ inhabitants, a man by the name of Reggie.



It had taken him a few days to locate Reggie. The man was taken by the NSSF to a high-class residence for the first few days after the raid, then returned to the Winters district under a different name and with a poor man’s surgery job to alter his facial structure.

Funnily enough, the only detail that made him notice Reggie easily had been left on his face – a crooked nose, broken because of a fight, combined with a well-sized mole on the right of his face, made him easy to recognize for Valerian. The reason for it, as he guessed and found out later, was that the bones had healed and set in a way that did not really allow manipulation of the facial structure in that area in any way. From various complications to internal hemorrhaging, all scenarios for how a surgery on that would go held risks – so, it was left.

Once he finally tracked him down, Valerian planned how to kill him. There were many options in front of him, but the one he thought would be best would involve attacking the hotel Reggie currently used, chasing him down to this section of the city and then killing him here, so he would die amidst the ones he had indirectly killed.

And that was exactly what Valerian did – after preparing everything, he silently entered the hotel Reggie used in disguise, crept to his room, cracked the door lock with an automatic lock picking device of his own making and then proceeded to chase him from his balcony to the roof of the building. There, the two would continue onward along a pathway of building rooftops that Raven carefully guided Reggie by to finally reach the alleyway, where he would catch up to the man and tackle him down to the small bazar’s location below.

That had happened a minute ago – the two were currently trying to catch their breath, after Reggie escaped his hold and leapt up, then turned after a few meters to stare at him as he also rose up. Valerian stared holes through the man, his gaze dark and deadly, as he stared back with a shocked expression. Even with his confused expression, however, Raven could tell he was lying. He knew what he had done – it was visible in his eyes. He had to pay for it now.


“W-why are ye’ chasin’ me, Raven!?” The man spoke in a garbled manner that the Remington could only describe as illegible and child-like, attempting yet again to throw off the reason both of them knew by heart. His get-up was just as immature as his manner of speech, with his dyed crimson hair at the top of his head and the usual black trimmed at the sides, face paint, tattoos, thug-like clothing complete with chains and a gun at the side of his hip.

“You… you shouldn’t even dare to speak,” Valerian simply replied as he procured his pistol in a flash, at which Reggie’s eyes went wide. The man then attempted to retrieve his own, but by then, the more experienced and quick of the two had not only shot once into his weapon, rendering it useless, but had also sunk another bullet deep into his right calf, making Reggie fall to the ground simultaneously in agonized groans with the clatter of his broken weapon.

“You sold us out for some money and a vacation,” Valerian began to speak as he marched up to the man, placing one leg on a box to his side and leaning onto it whilst the former dealer clutched at his calf and stared at the fresh bullet wound. He had the urge to simply dig his foot into the man’s wound and make him scream out in agony, but he held back from it with gritted teeth and anger sending his blood into a quick boil.

“Your actions lead to the death of many families and important figures – figures that helped the community down here in many ways… I should just have you killed right now, actually,” he continued and demonstrated by placing the gun in his hand against the man’s forehead, to which he instantly squirmed backward with a yelp.

“Tell me, Reggie. Was it worth it for you to spend two nights in a hotel up there and then come down with some extra change in your pocket? Huh?” He asked as he took a gander at the gun and noticed the slide was stuck. Pulling it back with his other hand to release the bullet casing within, he lifted the gun again in Reggie’s direction, who barely managed to look at Raven during his moments of suffering.

“You knew the poor would flock to the Gretoxin, Gregory, yet you continued with the damn deal – hell, I know you held the trigger that would call in the NSSF forces. You could’ve delayed all of this, you could’ve minimized the damage… but instead, you killed everyone.” Valerian spat with venom in his voice at the man, honestly struggling not to pull the trigger. Squeezing his eyes shut and placing a hand over his eyes in an attempt to calm down, the man breathed in and out deeply. Thinking of seizing this moment, Reggie quietly rose from the gravel below him and pushed himself to his feet, then began quickly shuffling away.

“Disgusting,” A word came from behind him almost at the same time as another bullet flew through the air, piercing his left shin this time to completely destroy the efficiency of both his legs. Agonized screams came from the man as he tried his best to continue crawling, but he could hear Valerian gaining in on him with a slow, brisk walk.

“I cannot let you live, unfortunately,” the Remington finished as he stepped in front of the man, then quickly placed a foot onto his left hand, earning another pained cry from the man. Reggie looked up through tears at his attacker – the man that would kill him – and shuddered with fear.

“I-I’ll get yer’ shots for half price! N-no, for free! I’ll give ye everything I have stashed away, just let me live!” Reggie spoke once again, gritting his teeth and groaning with pain as his legs continued to bleed, turning his skin pale white. However, Valerian shook his head and then slowly leaned down.

“Look at me. Recognize this face. Remember where you know it from.” He simply commented, to which the one named Gregory obeyed through pained cries and tears. His vision was blurred, yet… he could recognize some features. What was he reminded of…?

It was then that Reggie was hit with the truth of why Valerian hunted him. It was not only this atrocity. It was something else – something of a past he thought forgotten, left many years ago, but still obviously burning bright in the man’s eyes.

“… Terry,” Gregory simply replied with a look at Valerian, then slowly began to laugh. A grin spread along his face as he watched the older man rise back up, remove his foot from his hand and then pull the slide of the gun yet again to release the casing within.

“All of us didn’t believe him when he told us we’d regret it later. Five members killed one man in a torture, almost ten years ago… do you still remember it, you sicko?!” Reggie replied with a crazed laugh, shaking his head and muttering a long series of ‘No’ one after the other whilst rubbing his face into the gravel below. He then lifted his face again with another sick smile at Valerian.

“You’re the one that killed the other three. You’re the one that killed our boss. You… you single-handedly eliminated the Blood Hounds.” The man muttered to him, then spat at his shoes in disgust. His mind was going out – perhaps from the lack of blood and the pain, or perhaps because of something kept deep within – and he began to speak in slurs.

“Yer’ un son ef a betch, Raaaven…” Reggie muttered with a crazed tone as he twitched, his entire speech becoming corrupt and broken-up. His pupils became deep and large, whilst his breathing grew rapid as he began to hyperventilate.

“Keelled yer’ own gang… en’ the Blood Hownds… yer’ the crazeh merderer, bahstard…” His words fell even deeper into illegibility as his eyes went wider and his breath became quicker and more ragged. Laughter emerged from his mouth in an extremely crazed fashion as he planted his face into the gravel under him, then lifted it up to reveal various cuts along his face. He bared his teeth and tried to dig them into Valerian’s shoe, to which he pulled back with a look of disgust on his face. This man had to die.

“I hope you’re not hunted by the spirits of the ones you killed.” Valerian commented silently as he lowered his gun and held it with both hands, pointing it directly at Reggie’s head. The man below twitched in his madness and occasionally let out giggles as his mind broke completely. For the last moments of his life, sanity returned to the man, and he turned his gaze toward the Remington, who simply stared back with pain in his eyes.

“Rest with the Moon, Gregory,” he finished as he pulled the trigger, and the figure below him slumped motionlessly to the ground.




It was half an hour later, and by now, Valerian had gotten rid of Reggie’s body and cleaned himself of any traces of the crime. He was currently walking down the main streets of Winters’ district, his expression merely… emotionless, as he stared at the people passing by him.

Though he had taken lives many times, it still didn’t help him cope that easily with the actual murders. This one was also much more justified – in more ways than one, really – and yet… he could feel a heavy, oppressive mood swing cruising his way.

He needed a drink.

Letting out a sigh, Valerian slipped out of the crowds he was walking with previously and began to walk slowly toward a locale he knew pretty well – Leah’s Café. It had gained a little bit of popularity lately (at least, according to him) but that did not make it less pleasing in any way – even the opposite could be said, as more customers meant more people he could meet and learn about and talk with.

His left hand reached out to the alleyway wall at his left and draped along its concrete surface like it had done many times already. His right one rose from his side and slowly began to unbutton the coat he was wearing, revealing the dark cobalt shirt he wore underneath.

Letting out a sigh and gathering his breath as he stood with one hand against the wall and the other at his side, Valerian took a second to calm himself and then launched off.

In front of him was a low building with a roof he easily caught to the edge of with a leap and then scaled up with the agility of a cat. The technique had really been perfected through many years and over the course of multiple failures, but to the average onlooker, it would look like something skillful and could possibly make them think the Remington was a freerunning god.

Once he was on the rooftop, he gained speed through a simple form of sprinting and used the momentum to leap forward, jumping over a gap that he had occasionally fallen into after tripping or, if he were unlucky, after not gathering enough momentum to leap over but generating just enough to slam into the wall. It could be considered lucky that he hadn’t lost any of his teeth to such accidents, really.

Once he cleared the gap, his trajectory remained straightforward enough, carrying him over a few more buildings of the same size before he leapt into a larger building through one of its broken windows. This was, according to his childhood explorations, an old office building that was left uninhabited after a massacre occurred within – of course, this was obviously something he thought would be cool as a child, but after some further evaluation, various bullet casings and holes told him it did have a grain of truth to it.

It was a minute later, after running through the halls of the lengthy building, that Valerian emerged again from one of its windows on the other side with a jump to the buildings below. Landing on the rooftop with a roll to minimize the impact, he rose quickly to his feet before vaulting over the railing at the edge of the building to land on the ground.

In front of him, just a few meters along, was the cafe he often founds himself visiting when in need of some mental relaxation – Leah’s. In truth, the sign up front meant a very… different thing before, but after some work on it and thanks to luck, it spelled out something close enough to Leah’s Café.

The man approached the café shop and stepped onto the ‘Welcome!’ sign, which then generated an electrical impulse, making the door that was mounted using servos swing open with a quick, yet very rusty and annoying whirr.

Stepping in through the open doorway and letting the door swing back shut, he slowly stretched in one spot after a long day and prepared to enjoy himself in a place he often considered to be his second home. After all, having been a consistent patron to this establishment over the course of a year had made him familiar with almost all things inside the four walls of the café.

Moving his gaze silently as he stepped forward, he took a second to acknowledge Fallea and gave her a quick nod – then, after walking up to the stools, he placed his hands on one of them and took a look down to take a seat. To his surprise, he not only found the standard stool, but also a series of glasses that stood just to the right of where his share of bar counter was located. Counting the shot glasses quickly, he slightly shook his head afterward – someone was trying to reach his numbers of drinking, but they still had a good while to go on. Resiliency to alcohol was something hard to build, especially if you didn’t have a strong liver.

“And who’s the individual that’s been chugging down tonight this early, Leah?” Valerian asked as he moved the stool to the side, then took the glasses one by one and dropped them on the other side to make it easier for the woman behind the counter to clean them. Once he did that, he took a seat slowly on the stool, hoping to not attract the attention of a certain other Leah that also lived in this establishment.

“Anyways… give me the standard,” He replied after a moment of consideration, then leaned his head onto one of his hands and stared at the assembly of alcohol in front of him. For a moment, he considered where his to-be colleague in drinking would be. After a few seconds, however, he soon decided that the most likely location would be the bathroom – probably clearing his bowels, he thought to himself, as such a quantity would not bode well, especially for usual non-drinkers.

The idea of checking on the person in the bathroom passed through his mind for a moment, but he decided not to, just in case they were actually visiting the toilet and he was simply guessing wrong – plus, by leaving his seat now to go check on the stranger, he’d immediately reveal himself to Hallea, who really did not enjoy his presence in the café.

Letting out a soft sigh, Valerian decided to remain in his seat and think about tonight’s events. There was enough for him to mull over himself, anyways, and he doubted the other patron would talk about their problem, so he decided that going through his standard course and clearing his head was the best course of action. For a moment, he thought about why the other drinker had come, as he (or she) was clearly not a regular of the café, but probably a troubled person instead.

Edited by KuroKishi

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When they were inside, everyone was taking a seat. Vertie chose a seat where they could easily see their father, patting the space beside them for Ophelia to occupy. Movement filled their peripheral and they looked over to see Bartholomew walking towards the front of the room. He sat among other inventors and Vertie stared at them with awe. One man stood and walked to the podium, where he proceeded to speak in a rather... attention-grabbing, tone of voice. His scattered yelling, or emphasizing, of words made Vertie jump a few times before they gradually got used to it.


They should have expected a test but, as soon as Spice - hot, hot, spice (they couldn't help the singsong thought and muffled their snickering with a hand) - mentioned everyone would have to take a test to gauge their worth, Vertie got nervous again. Spice bellowed out that he only saw a few with the "eyes of an inventor!" (Thank the heavens for Nomad interpreters!) But now they worried about whether or not this loud man saw such a thing in Vertie.


Their heart was racing.


Bartholomew was called up to the podium and they held their breath, anticipating what he might say. He was much more encouraging and thought-provoking that Spice was. And, did he stare at them directly? Oh no! He had looked at them directly! What should they do, what should they do! They quickly looked down, plucking at their dress before looking back up a few heartbeats later.


His gaze had shifted to the rest of the gathered individuals and Vertie let a small sigh of relief escape their lips. Bartholomew finished speaking and Spice retook the podium, giving a final word as the text sheets were passed around. When Vertie got theirs, they skimmed the paper and discovered they could read the questions. That was a very considerate thing for the people in charge to do and they smiled with excitement.


They could prove themself here! They had a chance to make sure everyone, Bartholomew especially, knew what great work they could do! Reading the first question, lifting their pencil, they...




These weren't the type of questions Vertie had been expecting. Actually, they'd been expecting to, you know, build stuff on the spot? Frowning slightly, they shook their head. No! It didn't matter what kind of test was presented before them! They would complete it!


They started with putting their name in the top corner - definitely couldn't forget that! Valentinianus Gay (Please just call me Vertie :D) was scribbled in a slightly funky handwriting but was legible. Then, they answered what seemed to be the easiest question first. Minutes ticked by and Vertie could practically feel it, growing more and more anxious with each moment they took to fill out the test. Eventually, other people started getting up and turned in their tests. Many of the inventors got passed different tests but Vertie was focused on each one given to Bartholomew.


Shaking their head furiously, they refocused on their own paper, their dyed hair once more in an unruly mess from ruffling it. They only had two questions answered so far, out of the four. Halfway there!


Suddenly, the doors were thrown open, slamming against the walls and allowing more light into the church room. Startled, Vertie jumped and twisted in their seat, spotting the source of the disturbance just as Spice strode up to them and grabbed the interrupter by the collar. Did the person have... dog ears? It was hard to see around Spice but, the momentary glance Vertie had managed to get was probably enough. They looked at Ophelia with with a surprised expression, flicking their gaze back and forth between her and the newcomer. If she was a dog-girl and the other individual a maybe-dog-person, was it possible they were related?


Someone else entered, calling attention to himself by calmly confronting Spice. With his cane, he made the other man release the interrupter, making a point about disrupting the test-takers himself. Ah! Right! They needed to finish! Turning back around in their seat to replace their attention on the paper before them, Vertie started scribbling out the rest of their answers. Soon enough, they were finished.


Jumping out of their seat, they hurried (stumbling between the rows) towards where the other individuals lined up to turn in their test. Vertie's nervousness returned, almost tenfold, and they considered the possibility of escaping without drawing notice. Glancing at their father, they saw him motion his hands in an encouraging manner, a smile on his face. They sucked in a deep breath and looked forward again.


Oh no... Oh no, oh no, oh no... Within a short amount of time, they stood before Bartholomew again. This was the moment they had imagined to be their first time meeting the man personally. Not back there in the bazaar with their cheeks smushed! Their skin flushed with heat, the red of an embarrassed blush crawling under their dark skin to tint their neck, ears, and face. Trying to hide their nervousness and embarrassment, Vertie looked down as they handed the test paper over to Bartholomew. Once they were sure he had grabbed the paper, they darted away to go sit back down, tripping over the leg of an outward-turned chair and almost making friends with the ground before they got there.

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Ophelia followed the pretty human, squeezing her way past the crowd as she transversed across the room and sat herself next to the human. Ophelia craned her neck as she tried to get a better look of her surroundings. There were so many people squished together in a single room! Ophelia had never seen so many humans cramped together before except for maybe at the bazaar and the city itself. Still, the diversity of the humans’ appearances was absolutely incredible. Ophelia had no idea humans could look so different from one another. If only the tribe didn’t enforce that silly rule regarding humans. They didn’t seem dangerous at all! Sure, the big tall man, who was currently sitting in the front of the room, could be considering a little scary, but he looked like a big fluffy bear to Ophelia. He couldn’t possibly be dangerous, could he? Even if he did turn out to be violent, he wouldn’t be a problem for the tribe. After all, nothing stood up to seven, sometimes eight or nine, feet of muscle, tooth, and claw for very long so what was the problem?


Not too soon after the last few people settled in their seats, a very strict looking man stood up from the front row of seats and took a few steps forward. He opened his mouth and began to shout loudly at the crowd before him. Ophelia shrunk down into her seat and flattened her ears at the sheer volume of the man’s voice. Her eyes widened in surprise as she stared up at the man as he began lecturing about the privilege of inventing or something on those lines. For someone who spoke so loudly, it was very hard to understand what the man was saying. The man, whose name was too long for Ophelia to properly remember, suddenly slammed his fist on the table in front of him before turning to speak to “Bartholomew”.


Much to the lycan’s surprise, the individual that Sergeant Spice was referring to was none other than the fuzzy bear man Ophelia had encountered earlier in the day. After some rather excessive encourage from Sergeant Spice, Bartholomew finally stood up and began his speech. Ophelia gave him a happy wave, the tip of her tail wagging, as he briefly glanced over in her direction. Ears pricked up in anticipation, Ophelia eagerly listened to the rest of Bartholomew’s long-winded speech. He certainly sounded like a big and important figurehead and, seeing the reactions of the humans around her, Ophelia guessed that what he said was inspiring. Although she understood what the human was saying, she couldn’t quite catch his meaning which probably stemmed from the fact that she had absolutely no idea what was going on or where she was. Nevertheless, she was excited to see what sort of shenanigans the humans would bring to the table.


After Sergeant Spice finished his second speech, pieces of paper along with elongated pieces of wood with sharp ends were passed out to each desk. Ophelia picked up the wood curiously, rotating it in her hand as she thoroughly examined it. Ah, she knew what it was! She was holding a pencil, a utensil she had only seen once or twice in her lifetime. From what she recalled, it functioned similar to chalk and charcoal but only on the narrow pointy end. Did that mean the shouting man meant for her to write on the paper? Now that she looked more closely, Ophelia realized there were various symbols scrawled down on the paper with large open gaps in-between each sentence. Now the man’s last speech made sense. For whatever reason, the pretty human dragged Ophelia along to take some sort of written test and, seeing as how tense everyone around her was, it appeared to be an important test. A wave of pride washed over Ophelia as she finally realized what was going on. The humans were giving her the honor of partaking in one of their sacred rituals or so it seemed. That was a huge step forward in lycan and human relations which wasn’t really saying much since any form of interaction between humans and lycans was already a big step forward, but Ophelia felt honored nevertheless. It was only after Ophelia had finished smiling to herself at her epiphany did she realize there was one big problem: she couldn’t read nor write.


For several minutes, she stared blankly at the paper in front of her. The words seemed to meld together and began swimming in Ophelia’s vision. She had no idea what was written on the paper and, even if she did know how to read and write, she doubted she’d know how to answer the questions presented to her. Luckily for the humans, Ophelia knew what she could do in the place of answering the questions. Often times when she was bored and left with no chores to do, Ophelia would find some charcoal and begin drawing on some stones or stick her finger in the dirt and create pictures in the ground. Ophelia wouldn’t really call herself a brilliant artist, but she did enjoy drawing whatever came to mind and she was rather pleased with the images she created.


Happy with her decision, Ophelia pulled the pencil away from her mouth, as she was chewing upon it without realizing, and began to sketch upon the paper before her. She began doodling a doe standing attentive with her ears perked up and her chin raised. At first she tried to make the doe realistic but after realizing she wasn’t happy with how the doe was turning out, she decided to try a different style. Briefly, her mind wandered to the great mechanical ships she saw sailing through the sky and the bronze pipes littered across the city that spewed out steam at passersby. The deer’s organs were replaced with gears and whirling mechanisms that were connected to one another by dark belts. Screws kept the deer’s outer metals plates held steady and a chime with steam pouring out of it was attached to the doe’s head. Ophelia knew absolutely nothing about engineering and highly doubted that the deer’s design could plausibly be recreated in the real world, but the golden marvels of the city were absolutely fascinating and since she didn’t know how to read or write, Ophelia hoped that she could give some form of a gift to the humans in a show of her appreciation of their nifty little machines. Not paying attention to those around her, Ophelia became armored with her work, licking her lips and bouncing her leg wildly as she concentrated on her mechanical deer.


Just as she was finalizing the outline of the doe, the doors to the church were suddenly swung open. Ophelia’s ears shot upward and her eyes darted over to the entrance of the church. Her heart nearly skipped a beat as a familiar scent wafted through the air, her eyes meeting with that of the familiar lycan standing defiantly in the doorway.

“Lime!” she whispered loudly to herself as she gazed over at her son. If her tail had been fast before, it was going a mile by hour now. A soft thumping filled the church as Ophelia’s large, bushy tail slammed against the chair she was sitting on repeatedly. A quiet whine rose up in Ophelia’s throat and it became very apparent to anyone who looked at her that she was extraordinarily anxious to get out of her seat as evidenced by her hands rapidly tapping the top of her desk and her knee bouncing so hard that it looked like it was going to shoot up and slam into the desk. Alas, just as quickly as Ophelia’s excitement came, it vanished. The other humans, especially the Sergeant Spice, did not seem to view Lime’s sudden appearance in a positive light. The sergeant marched to the other side of the church, yanked Lime by his collar, and began to scream into his face. Ophelia’s ears flattened almost immediately and her happy whine turned into one of surprise. What was Lime being yelled at for? He just opened the front door! Did humans have something against opening doors or was it just those doors in particular.


A fit of angry bubbled in Ophelia’s chest and her surprise and concern quickly turned righteous fury. Her whine transformed into a low growl and the pencil that was so delicately held in her hand was snapped in two. She didn’t care if Lime had broken some silly human law that he had no way of knowing, Sergeant Spice had no right to lay hands on her boy. Even if he did have some fantastical reason for being so rough with Lime that just about any other human would agree with, Ophelia couldn’t care less about it. Everything from his stance to his speech to the way he walked practically oozed out aggression. His stride was not that of a wise man walking hastily to halt the activities of a naught child. His speech was not chastising and wise but rather rambunctious and scalding. He was not reprimanding Lime to keep him in line, he was screaming at him in a dominating manner. The fact that the sergeant had a long whip on his person only made the matter worse. When Ophelia first noticed the bullwhip, she assumed it was for cattle or perhaps a fun toy to play, but now that she saw the man’s cruelty, she saw the whip as nothing more than an instrument pain.


Crawling out of her seat, Ophelia began to climb over the humans seated around her. Her snarl grew in volume the closer she neared her son and he vile human. She could feel her claws extending out of her flesh, hair sprouting from the sides of her face as she lumbered slowly towards the entrance of the church. She’d have no issue disposing of the human if she had to. Of course, she did not wish harm upon any human, but if the sergeant insisted upon acting so disgustingly, she’d be forced to protect her child by any means necessary. That was the way of the lycans and although she may have abandoned her tribe, she by no means forgot her culture and didn’t plan on doing so anytime soon. Just as Ophelia was climbing over a human, who was terrified that a growling lycan was sitting on his lap, another human entered the church. He snatched Lime out of Sergeant Spice's grasp and gave the man a lecture before wandering off to the sidelines, standing silently in the corner. Ophelia blinked at the sudden occurrence, tipping her head to the side curiously. Did the man with the cane discipline Sergeant Spice? Was the problem resolved? Ophelia could feel her claws retract back into her body and her extra hair vanish from sight. Her low growl disappeared and the lycan's ferocious demeanor was replaced with a cheerful one. If the human with the cane had settled the dispute then there was no reason for her to intervene. Everything was back to as it should have been.


"Um, miss?"

Ophelia's ears pricked up and she glanced down at the boy she was sitting on. "Would you mind getting off me?" he asked timidly with a forced grin.

"Sure!" Ophelia chimed, hopping off the boy before striding back to her seat. Ophelia plopped down into her chair, ready to continue her sketch as she suddenly realized that she had broken her pencil in two. She huffed in irritation, her cheeks puffing out in exasperation. She certainly didn't want to turn in an unfinished drawing but it looked like she'd have to. Besides, she wanted to see Lime as soon as possible. The thought of talking to her son after not seeing him for months on end got Ophelia's tail to wag up a storm once more. Grabbing her paper, Ophelia cruised through the crowd of humans and marched up to Bartholomew just as she saw the pretty human to. Tail still wagging madly, Ophelia presented the tall human with her paper, bouncing up and down excitedly on the balls of her feet as she glanced up at him expectedly.

"My pencil broke so I couldn't finish it," she explained as she handed Bartholomew the paper. "but that's okay! I hope you like it, Sir Bartholomew!"


Bowing her head respectfully, Ophelia hopped away from Bartholomew and ran up to her son, ignoring the sergeant as she embraced Lime as soon as she was close enough to get her arms around him.

"Lime!" she exclaimed as she buried her face into her child's hair. "It's you, it's you!" Ophelia was so thrilled to be reunited with her child, the light of her life, that she couldn't properly explain her happiness through words. Grabbing a hold of Lime's face, Ophelia began giving him a few cautious sniffs in an effort to figure out where he had been. Much to her relief, he didn't smell like he had been around anyone from the pack in a long while. She wouldn't have to worry about being dragged home anytime soon. The telltale scent of the forest wafted into her nostrils and, as she brought his forehead closer to her face, she could clearly smell the same scents that had flooded her nose when she went into the bazaar. So he had been in the city, but for how long? Was the tribe nearby? No, he smelled too foreign for them to be close by. So why didn't he smell normal? Where was the rest of the tribe?


As Ophelia began contemplating how her child had found her and why he was in the church all the while trying her hardest not to smack Lime with her ever wagging tail, she quickly remembered the cane man's help.

"Oh! Quick, quick, follow me!" Ophelia said as she grabbed Lime's wrists and pulled him along with her as she walked on over to the man with the cane. "Thank you, kind sir," she said, looking up at the human. "You saved me the trouble of reprimanding that man myself. I'm in your debt." Ophelia bowed her head to the man, who looked just as pretty as the pretty human now which made her wonder if there were any non-pretty humans, just as she did with Bartholomew. She neglected to mention just how she would have dealt with the sergeant but she figured it wasn't important. "Oh no, Lime!" Ophelia suddenly yelped as she turned to face her child. "He didn't hurt you, did he?" The lycan grabbed a hold of her child's shoulders and sniffed his neck warily before looking him over with wide worried eyes, ears flattened against her skull. She wouldn't forgive Sergeant Spice if injured her son, she wouldn't forgive anyone for such an offense. It was her place to discipline her child, not theirs.

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He sighed with relief as he noted Miles' entry into the building. The man always did have a knack for being fashionably late - but not because he forced himself to be, but because actually standing up from what he was working on was a strength of will. Poor man was exactly like Bear in that regard.

Sergeant Spice, however, frowned as his hand was smacked lightly but meaningfully with a cane. He dropped the Lycan boy, huffing.

"I SUPPOSE you DO have a point, MAXIMILLIAN!" he yelled loudly, hands on his hips. "Very WELL! Let it be known that on THIS day, that I, SERGEANT SPICE, overlooked the TARDINESS of a possibly ASPIRING INVENTOR! Consider yourself FORTUNATE, young Lycan, that MILES was here to ASSUAGE the SITUATION!"

With that, he marched back to the podium, then saluted as he went back at rest. His eyes alighted on the other children, who were still looking at the Lycan and then at Spice.

"WELL!?" he yelled again, hands outstretched. "Your TESTS await you! No need to FRET about HIM!"

He crossed his arms, shaking his head, as Bear moved over slightly for Miles to take his seat. Miles spoke for a moment to everyone, then seemed to stand still.

"Miles! Over here!" Bear called, in a hushed voice, before returning to his original posture. He crossed his arms as he eagerly awaited the test turn ins.




Soon, a few children had finished and handed him their papers, and their reactions were always similar. Sheepishness, bravery, or trying hard to be brave in this important moment. And, as always, he just patted their shoulders. It made him feel terrible when he realized they really didn't have the mindset for his field.

As Bear was the leading mind in Advanced Robotics and Automatons due to his recent breakthrough with his Spider, he like the other council members were obligated to have at least two apprentices in order to ensure their genius would be passed on. They could have more than this, but there was always a minimum.

But it also took a certain mindset in order to work with machines. A delicate hand. Precise movements. Things many apprentices would find hard to do. Those who wished to work on a large scale wouldn't find enjoyment in this sort of work - at least not for now.

Besides, most people who wanted to work in Robotics wanted to focus on the robots used in Apollo's Metal Arena, the Robotic fighting Coliseum that brought revenue from all around from the spectators who watched and bet on the machine contenders. Children found it fascinating and enticing.

In truth, Bear found it a waste of valuable metal and materials but at least the parts that got thrown away somehow found their way to him through either kind donators or purchases from the Apollo Metallurgy Markets.

But now the child he was looking forward to stepped forward. Obviously nervous, red in the face, and awkward. Bear merely leaned towards them and accepted the paper, while he gently placed his other hand on the side of their head and held them steady.

"Yep... I thought so." he smiled pleasantly. "You've got the eyes for it. I feel privileged that you would choose me over everyone else."

Next, the dog-girl from earlier danced up and gave him her paper. Sun, he wished he could understand more of what she was saying. She seemed so happy. He looked down at her paper for a moment.

There were pictures of animals on it, sketched in various positions. Had she... not been able to read? This... he'd have to check this again later. But she was already running off to the lycan boy from before, leaving Bear to his own devices.

After that, he began sorting through the papers, checking the questions of each person in turn. Frederick Lawson. Archer Forthwright. Lesley North. Oh, besides Vertie, there was another child who seemed bright... He'd have to see them for himself. Very good answers.

"Miles, did you get any tests, this time?" Bear asked, hopeful. "Oh, and.. good to see you again, by the way. I didn't think you'd actually come."

While he spoke, he flipped through the final three papers and found the one he was looking for, with a small happy face on it.

"Ah..." Bear said, crossing his leg over his other as he began to read. He was silent for a long while, smiling slightly as he shifted his body weight. She, of course, had written in Nomad, which made it slightly harder to understand - but not impossible. The basic idea was obvious.

He grabbed her paper and the other two papers from before and held them out.

"Spice." Bear stated, walking over to the Sergeant. He gave him a glance, intrigued.

"Hmm? Why BARTHOLOMEW!" the Sergeant began, slightly surprised. "I thought you were already FULL on apprentices. Are you CERTAIN?"

"I'd be a fool to pass this young one up." Bear held up Vertie's paper, flapping it. "Minds like this... they don't come often. Nomad or not, they have the mentality I've been looking for for this project. And that dog-girl over there... Hold off on her for a bit. I'm going to see what I can do for her."

"Alright! Wait... you said they before.. There's four children you've chosen?" Spice asked, confused.

"Er... no, that's just how they like to be referred to." Bear admitted, laying the two sheets on the desk. "The other one is still uncertain, as well as the Lycan. Tell this 'Arthur' if you get a chance that 'for the chance of procreation', no matter how it's phrased, is not an acceptable answer for why you would want to be an Inventor."

"DID HE REALLY?" Sergeant Spice said, grasping the paper. As soon as he read it, his face turned red.

"MY OWN SON?!" he grunted, turning to the boy in question. Bear quickly turned the other way, avoiding witnessing that, as he headed over to Vertie, patting their shoulder.

"[Tell your goodbyes to your father unless he's coming too.]" Bear began, kneeling to their height. "[You're going to be busy for a while. I hope you're ready. It's not going to be easy. There's going to be work to do, things to learn. But I feel you'll get a hang of it in no time. But first, we need to get you situated and get you a room. This IS your new home, after all.]"

He patted their head happily, standing back to his full height.

"[Welcome, to Apollo, Vertie.]" Bear said to them, hands in his pockets. "[i hope I live up to your expectations.]"

As for Ophelia, he watched as she spoke to Miles in her strange tongue. He could understand SOME of it, due to its similarities to Nomad... Apparently the boy was named after a fruit, and he was her... child? He couldn't get all of it.





Meanwhile, back in the Steamworks, a young woman, in a dress of white and light green, gazed at Damien and Lilith from her open, room door, watching as they spoke and walked around the area. One of the apprentices ran past and the woman quickly shut the door.


The apprentice, Charlie, who had also been the 12 year old from before, turned slightly. He scratched his small head, confused. He returned to dashing down the hallway with a glass in his hand, holding it up to Damien.

"Oi! Here, sir!" the boy said eagerly, holding it as high as he could. "It's fresh and cold! Do you need anotha one for her too!?"

He pointed at Lilith, concerned.

Meanwhile, the door cracked open again as half of the woman's face could be seen from it, staring at them both. For some reason, she felt something off about the girl with the man - something extremely magical. The man, of course, had the feeling of enchantment.

Had they come for her? Fear rose in her body. No.... not while Bear wasn't here! But why else would such a magical pair enter the Steamworks?! Did Theodore find out about her?!

She hesitated, closing the door and clicking both locks, then fleeing to the inner room. The closet. The bed. She needed to hide. She moved her hands through her hair with anxiety, horrified.

Finally, she settled on the closet. She opened it and hid within, shutting it quietly as her breathing pace began to slow.

She had to calm herself. Maybe they weren't here for her. Maybe they didn't know...




Garas and Hallea


Fallea's face immediately brightened up on seeing Valerian, but then she hesitated, looking over at Hallea's room. She relaxed when she noted the door was closed.

"You really shouldn't be so loud, Val." Fallea said nervously, leaning onto the counter. "She's been in a bad mood all day. She'd love to take it out on someone."

But that was her only warning to him. She turned back to the back of the bar, reaching for a few bottles of various drinks and mixes and then setting them on the counter in the back. The scent of alcohol filled the air almost immediately. Fallea moved back, waving her hand in front of her nose.

"You know, you're the only patron who can even handle this stuff. But you're also the only reason I keep it in stock." Fallea smirked, beginning to pour the mix. "I even started calling the bottle Raven's Choice. No one else has been able to handle it, til today anyway."

She finished the first part of it, waiting a second for the mix to settle while she sat at the counter.

"The man who drank all those glasses... Poor kid." she sighed. "You can tell just from looking at him that he's just ran from something. He actually drank a few glasses of that old mix I used to make for you, before we found this stuff. I don't know how he did it. When he said 'give me your strongest' I jokingly showed him the bottle - and he TOOK IT."

She shook her head, confused.

"Don't know how he's even still standing or speaking." Fallea stated, finishing the mix and pouring it carefully into a shot glass. "Anyway, I thought maybe you could help him out."

She said the last part with the familiar way of "You need to help him, for me." before handing the man the glass.

"Also,...." Fallea began, tracing her finger on the counter quietly. "Hallea's gone to sleep early... and my room has been rather cold, recently. After you help him out... maybe you can help ME out?"

She smiled suggestively, chuckling with him.

Garas, meanwhile, stumbled past Lynn and back into the bar proper, confused.

"Oh.. is it ...open again...?" he asked, rubbing his head. "Thought... bar was... closed? I'll... leave then.. Don't wanna bring.. trouble to you.."

He fell over onto the floor with a loud sound. After a moment, he grabbed the stool closest to him to lift himself up. Fallea shook her head.

"Oh hell no. Not like that." she said firmly, her voice now stern. "You're not stumbling back out into that rain and cold when you can barely keep your feet. We're an inn for a reason, you know. Get your ass upstairs and sleep this off. We can wait until morning."

"....But... I don't.."

"No. Go upstairs. There's a room down the hall." she instructed. "On the LEFT."

Gar shook his head, heading for the front door slowly. His voice was ragged now.

"No.. not when... but they'll find me... and then you'll... uh.... You'll get... charged..." he slurred. Was the building always rotating? He was certain when he'd entered it'd been obeying the laws of physics.

Fallea turned to Raven, concerned.

"Can you PLEASE get him to get some sleep?" she asked, pleading. "I mean look at him."

Garas was having difficulty remembering how the door opened, forgetting it was automated and not a pull or push. He leaned against it, sighing.

"I don't... want to hurt anyone..." he moaned, depressed.




Fenrir and Feyla


It was afternoon in the shrine. Then again, it was always afternoon until the Three Hours came about.

A beautiful, small river flowed through an orchard of trees and plants in a place where nature seemed immortalized. A few fox spirits, unclothed and uncaring, danced and bathed in the water together, helping each other with their purification rites before entering the shrine. He, like them, was undergoing this process, though he was always further down the stream, embarrassed to see them in their bare skin.

He washed the dirt and impurities from his body with the springwater, drinking a bit of it, enjoying the life it gave. Water trickled down his back and arms as he dumped a bucket of lye soap and more water over his head. He scrubbed carefully with the rag he had, making sure he was entirely clean before donning the ritual robes.


A small, naked child approached him from down the stream, looking up at him. She had the ears of her people, cocking her head as she appraised him. Her name was... Murn to them right? He had no idea what it meant in his language yet. He still had a problem learning their primal tongue. He'd never heard anything like it before. He looked down at her for a long while, trying to avoid looking at anything but her eyes.

"Myet nole?" the child asked, holding up a towel from where she'd been keeping it at her side. For a moment, he had no idea what she was asking. Then it hit him.

"Oh. No I can... do it myself." he tried to make her understand, trying to take the towel from her. She refused, indignant.

"Nole myet!" she repeated. He could have easily taken it from her but he didn't want to hurt her. Moon knows he didn't want to take the chance of offending these people. He'd been with them for a year but their customs didn't make sense.

His name was Fenrir Blackwind. A year ago, he had been in a world very unlike this one. A dark, sinister place of crime and corruption that had almost turned his mind to blackness. But somehow, he had kept his sanity, and had finally managed to flee from those people who had tried to turn him to their own mentality.

He remembered them though. The shark, who enjoyed the taste of blood. The hawk, who saw pain and relished in it, feeding on the weak....

He shook his head, trying to remove them from his mind. He had left them behind long ago, trying to forget they had ever existed. While he'd been distracted, the little girl had begun drying him off. He covered his private areas with his hands, embarrassed. If someone from his country had found him like this he would have been arrested. His face showed his anxiety.

"I can handle the rest of it." he said, looking at her. "Please."

She frowned, but handed him the towel reluctantly, running back off down the stream to her family where they looked at him as though nothing had just happened. Was he thinking too much of it?

He shook his head as he finished drying himself off. He'd only recently began doing this alongside them, having been allowed? or rather PULLED to being a part of their rituals and their traditions. He'd, at first, felt unworthy of it, but even from the beginning they had tried to teach him their ways - especially her.

Well... they felt like family to him. Maybe they saw him the same way? A younger sibling helping their brother like that... He supposed being dried off by a family member wasn't as bad, and he didn't feel attracted to her. That's how he'd see it then.

He finished and then turned to the robes he'd been provided. White, with chains down them, and a pair of undergarments that tied around the waist. He began putting it on by himself when another hand darted from nearby and grabbed the robes, stealing them.

"Wait- HEY-" Fenrir began, startled, then relaxed as he saw her face staring at him, holding the robes close to her chest. She was gazing at him with a mischievous eye.

".....Need help?" she asked, speaking with an accent. She had been trying to learn his tongue and teach him her own for the past year. Somehow, they had managed to make it work.

"Uh.... Maybe?" Fenrir said weakly, looking her over. He realized she had just started getting dressed herself. Where were the rest of her robes? She was only wearing the underclothes with the top shirt of the robe folded over her chest and back.

"Those we like... We dress." she replied, holding out the uniform. "Help each other. Prepare. Together."

"....We like?" Fenrir asked, concerned. Wait, how did she mean that? Like in what way? He narrowed his eyebrows. Sure, they had been very close and played together and she had taught him so much but.. did that mean...?

She helped him slip his hands into the robe, tying it around his arms and shoulders so that it didn't sway. She then grabbed the red and white belts and tied them around his waist snugly.

"Urk!" Fenrir grunted.

"Oh! Tight?" she asked. "I didn't..."

"Yeah. A little." Fenrir replied. She loosened it a bit, then pulled it back to a close so she could tie it.

For a long moment, there was silence as she helped him adjust the collar of the robe and the fitting of it around his legs and arms. Finally, she stepped back, looking him over.

"Yes! Good! Like us!" she said, pleased. "Look good!"

"Thank you." Fenrir said, slightly relieved it was over. She then handed him her own robes, bowing.

"Help me then?" she asked, hopeful.

"Uh... I don't.. know much about how you wear them." Fenrir replied.

"Do together then." she stated, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Like everything else. Together."

"Right..." Fenrir said, sheepish.

Her name was Feyla, and her last name had been translated to him as Lastchild. She was the last daughter of what Fenrir had come to understand was the leader of these people, though he didn't seem to lead so much as watch and protect. Her first name apparently translated, as best she could tell him, into "Gold Flower," but it meant more than that.

He helped her place the robes around her form, tying the belt around her waist below her chest and then the other two ties around her shoulders. The entire time she led him and taught him how to do it and tried to tell him the meaning behind each tie and piece.

Finally, he finished and she held out her arms, spinning in a circle.

"How look?" she asked, hopeful, as she gazed upon herself.

"Absolutely... stunning." Fenrir responded honestly. She stopped a moment, sheepish.

"I am... happy." she replied, taking his hand. "Now, come. I show you."

She lead him up from the babbling stream where the rest of the people were finishing their own cleansing and beginning to head up as well. A small, rock path made of smooth pebbles placed within the dirt with care showed him where they were headed.

This was the village of what Feyla told him was Oolon, which meant "Lost Dream" in their tongue. At some point in its existence, the village had come under attack during the First Breaking by starving Nomads who had forgotten the gods in their hunger. The entire original village had been sacked and lost to them. Thankfully, the majority had survived, and - during the Second Breaking - had been given gifts by the descendants of the Nomads who had attacked them as recompense. With the help of those people, they had rebuilt from the ground up, creating an entirely new village for them to call their own.

This, Fenrir had gathered with both Feyla's help and stones from around the village which depicted the story for the children. They would never forget their roots. Feyla was absolutely stern on this point, and her fervor had made Fenrir surprised.

"We never forget who we are." she had said, placing his hand on the last story stone, "Who we serve. Who made us. Never forget."

He was pulled back from his thoughts as she led him further up the path past the small homes and the school where the children of the community gathered for their teachings. A few kitsunes waved at Fenrir as he passed by them, smiling.

He waved back, feeling more comfortable than before. This felt far more like home than where he had come from. Family. Friends. People who treated you with trust and devotion. You were not someone to fear but someone to learn from.

Finally, they entered their destination. It was a large, wooden shrine, where they performed their rituals to their fox god, Lonwan, "Dream Child."

Here, Feyla pulled Fenrir to sit by her. In the middle of the room, her father, Lunpor, was already performing his prayer. The room was silent as Fenrir bowed his head with respect. The smell of incense was strong.

Lunpor spoke, drawing Fenrir's attention to him as Lunpor looked over at him. The rest of the people in the room were now looking at him as well. He sat, rigid, respectful.

"Muwan, chuwa porun." Lunpor began, looking now at Feyla. "Re'lan notora."

Feyla brightened up, her face taking on a shade of red. Fenrir looked at her confused. She gave him a glance. He gave her a questioning look.

"He's... asking... um..." she began, trying to find the words. "Marry?"

"Marry what?" Fenrir was concerned now, but Lunpor stared at her for a response.

"......Tas." she admitted to her father, nodding. "Tas, lan're."

Lunpor rubbed his face with much thought. He did not look as old as he apparently was but, then again, Fenrir had found Kitsune apparently lived for quite a long time - at least, old enough for some of them to even know of something called the Final War. Lunpor was one of them, who had led his people to this place all those years ago. As such, his word was respected more than any other, and his wisdom exceeded his appearance.

He looked only barely older than his own daughter, a small amount of facial hair decorating his stern gaze.


Fenrir sat up straight, concerned.

"You. With us much." Lunpor began weakly, trying to speak. Fenrir was amazed. He didn't know that Lunpor had tried to learn his tongue at all. But he assumed Feyla had something to do with it.

"Yes." Fenrir replied, then quickly amended to, "Tas."

"You know our ways. Respect us. Together." he spoke, hand on his chin. "My daughter, Feyla. She is the last of my children. She is precious to me."

Fenrir swallowed and for some reason felt there was a lot more going on here than Feyla had told him. Much more. And at the back of his mind, some voice began screaming at him exactly what was happening. He struggled to hear it but he couldn't believe what it was saying.

That was impossible. Him, an outsider? But he gave Feyla a glance and her red face and the way she was gripping her robes made it seem FAR more realistic. His chest tightened and his heart began to race a bit more. There was no way. Not him. Someone far more deserving...

"You may be an outsider." Lunpor said, "But you are not like most. You are not like them who do not respect. You are not they who lie. I have seen liars. I have seen bad men. I have seen good men. You are one of them."

Lunpor's face relaxed. Fenrir's face definitely did not. There was no way this was happening. Only a year? But was it so wrong?

This place had become a home to him. Did he ever want to go back? No. Never. That wasn't his home. This was. He had come to love it here.

The sounds, the birds chirping. The scent of fruit when he awoke in the morning, Feyla pushing him gently to get him to get up. The sight of the water cascading from the mountain nearby as it pooled to become the lake they all drank from. The daily work. The feeling of contributing to something larger than himself. And the feeling that it was all sacred, pure, innocent, and had never been corrupted by a dark hand.

And that sun, immortalized above him, a light which had almost blinded him when he had first opened his eyes here. Yet, it felt as though it belonged in the sky, as the trees had opened to reveal to him his first sight of this sacred ground.


Fenrir's heart raced.

"I give you my blessing." Lunpor said, hand on his chest. "I want you to marry Feyla."

There was silence in the room. The rest of the kitsunes seemed to get the idea though. Some of them spoke in hushed whispers in their tongue. Most were happy with the very concept. Feyla looked down at the ground even harder as Fenrir blinked in utter confusion.

"Certainly she's... a glorious woman sir but.... Surely there's someone..." Fenrir began but stopped. No. The very thought of someone else being with her, being as close to her as he was... for some reason it hurt him.

"Thank you." he said finally. Feyla looked up, concerned, almost surprised. He looked over at her.

"It's ok, right?" he asked, smiling. "Or am I not who you want?"

Feyla shook her head, ashamed.

"No! I am happy!" she said, beaming. "This is... amazing!"

Fenrir turned back to Lunpor, absolutely content.

"I will gladly." he replied, certain. This was his home now. This is what he had always wanted. This couldn't possibly have been better. Nothing could have. The blessing of such a wise man. The hand of such a beautiful and playful girl. This world of sunlight and glory.

He never wanted any of it to end.

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「lynn ;; 」


Lynn felt her hands clench into her lap as her body stiffened, trembling ever so slightly.

Faintly, she could hear Hallea speaking as she regarded the information, but the girl's emerald green eyes were fixated on the screen.


But . . . it couldn't be, could it? After all this time, after all she had been through . . .

Why . . . ?

Her mind was numb; she could scream, but what would be the point? Who would answer? If any heavenly being was to descend upon this forsaken place, then surely their wings would ripped before the frosted gaze of the moon, eternally unforgiving.

What was she, but one born to suffer?

"I will not show you the pictures. They are very morbid. I do not think it would be good for your health." The cat-girl rubbed her chin as she spoke, elegant fingers playing across her keyboard with skill. The arithmetic click-click-click of Hallea's meanderings accompanied her thoughts, and the outside world was faint to the girl's ears. She was vaguely aware of another person entering the cafe, yet the notion that they were currently closed did not descend upon her coincidence in the face of such turmoil. She sat motionless, feeling an eternal frost creep over her body, chilling her blood to the bone.

For what did she have to live, now? To exist, but never to live? She dreamed of high winds and rolling plains, a place alight that shone far from the darkened alleys and silent screams so commonplace in Luna's area.

And if she could not go there with her brother . . . where would she go?

I don't want to be alone for the rest of my life. Lynn wiped at her eyes with the back of her hand, aware that they were growing wet. She sniffed, internally frustrated at such a show of weakness, but she could do naught but weep in such circumstances.

Orpheus loved his Eurydice enough to challenge the gods above for the gift of life, but she had no such one that would do such a thing. It was something to be lonely, another to be without a caring being in this harsh, harsh world.

"T-Thank you," she told Hallea, biting down on her lower lip. Robert's East Dock. How was she to get there? She frowned, her brow furrowing ever so slightly. A nautical or military career . . .

The cat-girl rose with all the elegance of a feline, a calculated look in her eyes. Of course. She had received kindness tonight beyond measure, despite such harrowing news, and Lynn would never forget that. "Thank you, Miss Hallea," she said earnestly, as she once again dabbed at her eyes with light fingers.

Suddenly, a voice sounded from behind, and the girl jumped. Spinning around in her chair, she squeaked as she came face to chest with a very tall man, who seemed to be . . .

Drunk? He smelt of alcohol, and she feared such a disillusioned man.

"I-I'm sorry--" she began, but was interrupted just as the man stumbled past her and collapsed onto the floor, making her jump. She watched, eyes wide, as he attempted to recollect himself and speak, but only managed to get into a one-sided, not very successful argument with the bartender who seemed insistent that he spend the night.

She didn't understand the most of their conversation, but enough for her to realise that perhaps . . . something was wrong?

"Um," she began, unsure, "is he . . . okay? I-I, um, I can help--I mean, unless you want me to go, which I can do too . . . " She shuffled her feet, staring down at the ground, as fingers played with the crystal heart resting at the base of her throat. "I'm just very thankful that you helped me," she confessed earnestly.


「lime ;; 」


Though he would not admit it, Lime let out a high pitched whine that probably grated the ears of everyone in the room as he was suddenly grabbed following his flamboyant introduction, by a man who seemed clearly angry that Lime was in the strange building. The man grabbed him by the collar, and the wolf-boy's ears flattened angrily, his tail held tensely.

The man screamed something at him, and Lime shrunk even more into himself. His mind was haywire--in his panicked state, he could not understand! What was it that the other wanted?

A low growl rose in his throat, and he could feel the hairs on the back of his neck raising, a more feral look sweeping into his eyes, his once-smiling mouth curved into a frown instead. He showed sharp teeth as he bared his teeth at the man, who held his collar tight and roared into his face.

His ears pressed tightly into his hair, Lime desperately looked around for a chance at escape--was this it? What if the entire church was filled with angry, yelling humans? The young lycan did not know what to do in his situation, yet before he could act another man burst into the scene.

The newcomer spoke with a calming presence that soothed Lime's grated nerves, and a previously unseen cane came down and smacked the other man's hand, and Lime felt his collar released as the young wolf hopped back, shoulders raised and muscles tensed at the ready. What was this? What were they doing? He was too nervous to pay attention to words as the one with the cane began speaking, and Lime cracked his knuckles.

The speaker looked back, giving him a nod. Lime growled back, though not with the same anger he had showed the one who had grabbed him--sure, this newcomer had released him from previous imprisonment, but his first impression upon entering these sacred grounds had not been pleasant upon his memory.

However, the young lycan was quickly distracted by another overwhelming scent, yet this was not entirely unwelcome. Ophelia washed over him just as his adopted mother grabbed him, and Lime felt ease envelope his being as Ophelia nuzzled her nose into his hair.

"Mom," he murmured, clutching her tight. His nerves began to calm down, and his ears slowly raised and shifted as he took in the background clamour of the room as the students settled back down to once again work.

Ophelia grabbed his face between her hands, and he let her--this was commonplace of the lycans, who were not shy with physical contact and would eagerly use touch as a means to communicate affection.

His tail began wagging along with hers as she spoke again, grabbing both his wrists as her excitement washed over him in a wave of affection. He stumbled along with her, too caught in her eagerness to notice anything out of sorts. Soon, they came face to face with the man who had earlier tapped his cane to save the young lycan.

He watched as Ophelia spoke easily in the commonplace tongue, and Lime marveled at his mother's ability to communicate so effortlessly. His own sentences were choppy and uneven, usable only for survival at best.

"Yes," he agreed, quickly bowing just as Ophelia did so, "thank you, sir."

However, just as he raised his head, he was suddenly grabbed by his mother. Her curious eyes peered up into his, an expression of worry across her features. She began to sniff at his neck in her haste to make sure he was alright, and the young male laughed nervously before attempting to slip from his mother's close hold.

"I'm fine, really," he said, his tail twitching slightly in memory of his earlier affair, embarrassed. "Really--I was just shocked, is all. Really!" He smiled in an attempt to lessen her nerves, and raised both hands to show both his personal space and that he was unharmed.

"But, mom," he said, brow furrowed suddenly, "what about you? Where have you been?"

Perhaps it was too early upon meeting to ask such questions, but he wanted to know. Why Ophelia had run, what luxuries could've possibly drawn her from the lull of lycan life to the busybody humans. He had to understand in order to communicate, after all.

Edited by Lady_Lunevis

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After dealing with General Spice's issue and smoothing things out so the tests could continue, Miles took a deep breath and then let it out in a sigh, whilst he gently maneuvered himself to one of the corners of the building - there, he remained for the rest of the time of the test, taking a second to calm himself.

Honestly, it always had been difficult for Maximillian to stand up to crowds - something he knew was inevitable if he were to aspire to become a proper inventor, but nevertheless didn't try to overcome or circumvent in any real way. He could handle himself fine in front of crowds and do a speech, yes, but what really wanted to avoid was being a center of attention, like Bartholomew currently was.

Even now, as he stared at him from the corner of the establishment, he could notice the hints of confidence and the slight smirk on his face as he stared at the possible apprentices in front of him and gave them a feeling of serenity they definitely seeked during the tension they felt because of the tests. That, of course, did not mean that Bartholomew was not soft himself, as Maximillian could also recall a few events prior to his departure from Apollo; the older of the two would constantly look at the crowd behind the curtains and share a few moments of talk with his cousin about their tension - however, unlike him, the Starlight was much more eager and quick to adapt to the situation, or simply ready to improvise his way through it.


The sound of students walking and a certain pair of Lycans approaching him caught the Asther's attention and pulled him out of his thoughts. A few seconds passed by as Miles remained with crossed arms and his gaze lowered to the ground - then, just as Ophelia came to a stop in front of him with Lime, he lifted his head up and took a normal stance, pushing himself off the wall to stand on both feet and letting his arms drop to his sides.

"... huh?" He muttered as he stared down at the two Lycans quietly behind the cover of his coat's collar, watching the woman with a curious look as she thanked him for his assistance in a form of language he barely understood and only because of the frequent travelers that passed by his house and seeked shelter or directions, then took the moment to also bow her head down.

Truth be told, the woman was very nice and definitely did not mean it, but the man could feel tingles rush along his spine as he yet again turned tense for being a center of attention - some students, interested after his actions at the start of the test, were now watching the trio very intensely.

Miles could not hold back the hints of the nervous smile appearing along his face as the younger Lycan that followed her also thanked him in the same language, then also joined her and bowed his head down. Thankful for the fact both could not see him as he tried to deal with the sudden wave of tension, he swallowed softly and then let out a lengthy breath with a sigh.

"You're, um... welcome," Maximillian replied to them in simplified Noble so they wouldn't wonder what he meant, then grew silent as the two began to engage in activities he really did not feel were commonplace for people. Deciding that the invasion of personal space by the woman as she sniffed along the youngster's face, hair and neck was simply a custom of the Lycans, the man excused himself with a nod and slowly slipped past the two and stepped toward the room's center, leaving the gaze of the other students that slowly began to split off.


"Ah, cousin," Maximillian replied as he approached the man slowly, his left hand almost absent-mindedly retrieving the cane from his side and hitting the switch to yet again extend it to the floor in a slow and strangely captivating way. Placing it down onto the ground as he walked forward, the Asther gave the man a pat on the shoulder before continuing past him to where he'd been sitting.

As he walked around a few of the students that discussed with one another or made their way to their parents, Miles finally made his way to the desk. His attention was caught by some of the tests already placed on the desk beside the protocol for the Choosing. His right hand idly reached out to move a couple of them, quickly skimming over the details, and then returned them to their standard stack once he had gotten enough time to check them all.

A slightly confused expression appeared on Maximillian's face as he remembered what he'd seen in detail and then wondered about just who would doodle animals on a test like this. There still were some good sheets, however, such as the one from... something akin to Valentine and with the second name of Gay - something that made the man merely blink with interest, then shrug with indifference - that his cousin would consider employing in the Steamworks.

Once he was done with the tests - mainly to make sure no one was again interested in his subject - he turned, put his cane down and slowly walked forward through the now clear area, then came to a stop and watched as his cousin stood next to another young inventor and spoke with them in a language he recognized as Nomad. He silently analyzed the individual for a moment, unsure of their gender, and soon decided it was a female because of a few key features. Having overheard the talk Bartholomew had had earlier with Spice, however, he wondered if this was the person that preferred to be called 'they'.

"Yet again, the answer's no, considering the usual interests of the youngsters that come here and the great words the Council has for me," Maximillian replied indifferently in relation to Bartholomew's previous question once he turned to face him as he took a gander at his Harmonizer, then placed both of his hands atop the cane and looked at the students in front of them.

"Plus, I don't exactly see myself ever having an assistant." He confessed to the man next to him. That was indeed what he truly believed, as he didn't have a sanctioned and approved laboratory - plus, his own house was split into the lower living area and the upper workshops, which were a total mess, so he never found it a good idea to invite someone out of the city just to study at his wreck of a home. Hell, it didn't fit with him right when Bartholomew or his father came to visit, as they would often come to see his contraptions, which lead to them seeing the mess and making him think about it enough for him to clean and order things all night, only for the rooms to return to their chaotic state after a few days.

"Anyways... shall we head over to the laboratories?" He asked, eyeing the understudy next to him for a second before he turned his gaze to Bartholomew. One of his hands rose from his cane to slowly rub at his chin as he pondered quietly. If one were to focus on his skin, they'd notice how fresh his shaving work was, as the skin would be slightly more red than its average bright hue - precision, however, meant there was not even a trace of a cut or a leftover hair along the man's face, as shaving for him was an hours-long process of utmost importance.










"Oh well - might as well let it out on the brick wall," Valerian replied to Fallea regarding her worries of being heard by Hallea and then getting yelled at as he gestured at himself with his hand and slightly smirked - he had, after all, grown almost completely resilient to all the other Leah of the establishment could do to him after various arguments and fights with her.

As if after a clap of hands, however, Raven's face dipped back down and his expression darkened. Though his mood was much better than before, the image of the criminal lying dead on the ground still swam in his head and gave him no chance of calamity.

The man raised his gaze up to watch Fallea as she began to yet again mix his standard batch of drinks for the night. Various amounts of gin, vodka, whisky and other assortments of liquor filled the air with the smell of distilled spirits, making a slight smile creep up on his face at the relief it would soon bring him. His mind vaguely drifted back with years as he watched Fallea wave her hand in front of her nose. He had also hated drinkers as a child, and Terry had made him completely resent cigarette smoke, and yet... here he was now.

"Hm...? Till today?" The Remington asked in a low tone as he raised his eyes from the counter to watch the mix being made, whilst Fallea replied with what she had in mind. The information she gave him made him raise his eyebrows in confusion. Truth be told, the old mix was a lot weaker than his current regulars, but it still held a kick higher than any average drink. If the guy beside him had drank from that, he probably had a dark enough reason to - hell, the fact he still managed to stand and speak inclined him toward the option further, as it was clear he wasn't a familiar of the bar and probably didn't drink like Raven.

Taking the glass that was placed down in front of him as he mulled over just how he could be of help to the poor sod, Valerian now straightened up a bit and rose to properly face Fallea. Her comment did made him chuckle with her and reminded him of the past, but the look in his eyes showed other things - things that held him back, made him suffer... and would keep him from sleeping, for sure.

"Some other night, darlin'... I've had enough red tonight," Valerian commented, clearly making a reference to the natural redhead and something else he preferred to keep ambiguous, as he smirked at her before raising his glass in a mock toast and downing it in one go. The alcohol burned in his chest as it went down, then rose back up from its descent like a phoenix and shot upward into his head with a heavy kick - even with that, however, the only feeling left afterward was bliss, which the Remington eagerly embraced.

Putting the glass down, Raven gestured for the second set and took a breath in. However, as he prepared for another shot, voices from his right caught his attention, and he soon found himself moving atop the stool to face the way toward the hall that housed the rooms of the Leah sisters and the bathroom.

What emerged from the corridor truly made Valerian's face sink. His demeanor shifted from mostly relieved to a very dark one as he stared at the man in front of him with a heavy sense of nostalgia. The mess of a drunk that slurred almost every word of his sentences was almost a carbon copy of his first night in this café from almost ten years ago, when the sisters' parents owned the place.

He himself had also been a complete mess - a bigger one than the man in front of him, actually, as he was still a 16 year-old that had just freshly lost a parent and was also coping with the loss of a semi-uncle - that had spoken in unconnected sentences and almost argued with the owners of the establishment. That was when he had first met the two Leah sisters... and from time to time, Valerian would wonder if that first impression was one of the many reasons as to why Hallea resented him this much. He was one of their loyal customers that frequently left tips, and still, no matter their financial situation, she'd berate him all the same.

It had taken him a few seconds to actually notice the other person he had heard talking in the hallway with a weak female voice that he easily could pick up hints of pain in as she slowly looked out from the hallway's entrance into the café. The young lady could be described as soft, frail and almost pure in comparison to the people that inhabited these streets, and yet... from her eyes, it was clear she too knew pain - pain from the loss of someone, possibly.

"O-oi!" Raven exclaimed as he stepped off his stool almost instantly the moment the teen stumbled and fell, regretting his moment of staring in silence that could have been spent noticing and properly stopping the young man's fall. As he moved forward and tried to bend down to help him, the man grabbed onto the stool closest to him and pulled himself to his feet, albeit very shakily. The young lady in front of Raven asked if she could help, then mentioned how she had been helped, leading the man to think she obviously wanted to return the favor.

"I... we'll handle this, dear. Drunks like me are hard to cope with - just give us a moment." Valerian replied with a calm tone to the young lady as he pulled back, only to watch how the man continued his attempts to leave.

The Remington could merely sigh as he shared a look with Fallea, who shook her head in denial. It was clear to him too.

This guy was in no form to walk, let alone speak, let alone make his way to a home that he possibly did not have.

The rain outside was only noticed by Raven the moment Fallea mentioned it, as he had been busy making sure the young man didn't stumble again and fall flat on his face to possibly break a tooth or a nose. It wasn't exactly storm-like outside, but everyone knew that the cold streets of Winters turned into slip-and-slides with even the slightest drizzle because of the mud and ice that formed after them. His current shape would only lead to him falling and cracking his neck - at best.

"Listen to her, boy - you're just going to get yourself killed when you're drunk off your horse like that," Valerian supported her claim as he placed a hand on the man's shoulder, then turned to her as she gave him directions and nodded softly. As the young man headed for the front door, however, Raven merely gritted his teeth and stepped with him, his hand still remaining atop his shoulder.

"I'll take care of him," The man replied to Fallea with a sigh as the young man leaned onto the door, moaning something that made his eyes slightly widen. Thankful that the Leah behind him didn't notice, as he was currently facing the young man, he took a second to pull him from the door, then slung his arm over his shoulders and turned toward the stairs. His eyes wandered over to the young woman and gave her a quick nod to indicate that the man would be fine.

"We'll have a talk and I'll be right back," Valerian commented as he slowly made his way to the staircase, doing his best not to bump the man in his care as he swayed heavily under the influence of alcohol, then slowly began to ascend with him. At one point, the man's legs gave and bounced off the stairs with a lot of noise, but the Remington could do nothing except grit his teeth as he endured the extra weight and pressure until they reached the top of the stairs.

"Just... a bit more..." He breathed in and out slightly now, obviously out of wind, as they moved along the hallway. Two rooms on the right, both irrelevant, and two rooms on the left for guests. Coming to a stop in front of the first door on the left, Valerian clutched the drunken one with his left arm and quickly opened the door with his left, then pushed it in with his leg whilst using both his hands to move into the room.

The quality of the rooms were, as expected, a bit low because of the café's location, but all the guest rooms held the charm of Fallea's work - sheets of cherry red covered the authentic wood panel bed in the left corner, whilst a flower vase and a small radio playing soothing tunes were placed atop the table, armchair and sofa combo on the right side of the room. A drawing he considered made by the two Leahs was also placed on the close side of the wall to his left to further accentuate the room, whilst a small end table that matched the bed's frame split it and the lit floor lamp with a white shade that provided dim lighting to the room in contrast to the bright light of the ceiling lamp above. All of this was accentuated by a soft, fluffy carpet in gray on the floor and a pleasing pale yellow color on the walls.

"Alright, let's see what's up with you," Valerian muttered as he looked around the well-known to him room, then stepped forward to the bed and slowly let the man take a seat on its side. After making sure he would stay upright, as he could choke if he felt like emptying his bowels whilst lying down, the man stepped out of the room and returned with a small garbage can, which he placed in the man's feet.

"So," He began, taking a moment to simply plop himself down on the carpet without a care in the world, as he looked at the man, "tell me what's gotten you drinking this much." A second passed by as the two sat in silence before Valerian blinked and nodded to himself.

"Oh, right," he muttered as he turned around and used his height to shut the door and flip the latch of the lock on it, then turned around to the young man and awaited his reply.

Edited by KuroKishi

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Damien was looking at some of the devices on a nearby shelf when the young boy ran up to him with a glass of water. Smiling, Damien took the glass from him and sipped on its contents before looking over at Lilith, who was currently staring towards the back of the workshop, and then returned his attention to the boy.

"She's the reason I needed a glass of water in the first place. Anyway, no, don't worry about it, thank you. As a reward, I'll show you something neat."

Kneeling down, Damien held up one of his hands, creating a small flame in the palm of his hand. With his opposite hand, he waved it around in a circle above the fire before clapping down, seemingly extinguishing what he had made, but when he started to pull his hands apart the flame in the center had not only had a green color, it had taken the shape of a small lizard that scurried around his hand.

Lilith merely shook her head and looked towards the door she could have sworn had been ajar just a moment ago. Feeling a tap on her shoulder, she turned to look at Damien motioning for her to following. Sighing, she did as requested, following him back towards the front where Theodore was still working.

"I remembered that I had some business in the next town over, so we'll fill up our water pouches and then be on our way. Next time we're in town, I'll pick up the watch and compensate you for the trouble... consider it a donation to the shop, if you must, but I will repay you. Thank you for the hospitality, we'll meet again soon, I hope."

With a wave, Damien picked up his bag, which he had left near the entrance to avoid knocking anything over, and proceeded out of the door. If anything, he'd just stop at the well he had seen on the way in to fill up the water pouches. As Lilith was stepping through, she turned around, waved with an exaggerated smile before bowing and following after Damien, making sure the door had closed behind her.

Edited by zakku_uchiha

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Bear had expected Miles' answer before he had given it. After all, he'd long been in solitude, refusing guests and others alike who had asked to see his work. Even the Council had been given a hard time when they demanded to see a sample of his work when he applied for the position he created in the Council.

After all, his work had never been seen before. They had to make an entirely new spot on the Council for him, which had required weeks of deliberation among the bureaucrats and the legislature, two telegraph posts to the Ministry of Forming New Positions - which regulated that sort of thing in order to keep people from just randomly proclaiming something new had been formed -, several more posts to the Ministry of Traditionalists - who believed this new position violated several "famous" traditions that no one had ever heard of -, and finally required Miles to prove a second time that there WAS a need. After all, even for non-traditionalists, the sudden formation of an entirely new sect of a long-running Council for the first time in fifty years was quite the news. The last position to be added was Bear's currently held Robotics faction, which oversaw the production and creation of new machines and automatons.

And that, of course, had spawned around the time the first coliseum matches had taken place and the Council had realized "Hey, those giant machines require someone to INVENT them, AND they're quite marvelous to watch. We should make a bureau for that."

And they did.

Thus, did the Robotics faction begin to rise swiftly amongst the Council members with a single head who represented them on the Council. Other notable members included Theodore Starlight, the current representative of Avionics and the Study of Flight; Arthur Layman, the current representative of Steam and Thermal Energy; George Bateman, the current representative of Magical Studies; and now Maximillian Asther, the current representative of Techmaturgy and Magical Enhancement.

But there were many smaller council members and various branches. Each one was considered the "Master in their Field," the leader and greatest mind of their age. As such, they were expected to hold apprentices, assist other like-minded inventors in brainstorming, be present when patents pertaining to their field were brought before the council, and other such formalities. This was, of course, considered one of the highest honours for any inventor to achieve. It wasn't something to be taken lightly.

But Miles had then gone further and caused more of a stir by refusing to partake in the choosing of an apprentice. Even though it was a very large obligation, he managed to convince the council that "having those little rascals run about my workshop would ruin the structural integrity of my current, various inventions."

As such, Miles had been given a pass not to have some, but he was ordered to at least get ONE by his twenty first birthday. The pressure was mounting, and Bear worried for his cousin's state of affairs.

"You really should consider getting at least ONE, Miles. They don't have to be kids." Bear suggested, sighing. "The Council will force one into your service if you don't pick one yourself. It's a law, you know. You know how seriously they take those. But, they'd most likely select me or my father for doing it for you, so... at least you'd know that the apprentice chosen would be fitting?"

He shrugged, gesturing to the door.

"Right. Let's get back to the laboratories." he nodded, turning to Vertie. "[Come on, Vertie. We're going to see your new home.]

He then hesitated, looking at the Lycan pair.

"....Should... I bring them too?" he asked Miles, pointing at them both. "I can't... speak their tongue almost at all."

Now that, Miles would know, was a lie - but a lie Bear had to make believed as much as possible in public ... for many reasons...






He was led up the stairs by another pair of hands. The rickety wood beneath his feet groaned with reluctance as they maneuvered up each step. He tried to look over at the person next to him but his vision blurred. He struggled to follow, each movement a burden. It felt like his legs were made of lead.

They entered the rustic room, a window across from them, allowing the starlight to filter in meagerly through barred glass. For some reason, it gave off the feeling of a prison more than a cafe, but it was for good reason.

A year before, a drunken patron had screamed as he had thrown himself out of the window of the room adjacent to this one, dying of a broken neck, his body left to freeze in the snow. Fallea had been unable to do anything but call the Lower Class authorities, which had never shown up. It had taken the combined work of the community, led by Reld, to move the man's frozen and half-decayed corpse (after all, it HAD been a week) to the town incinerator.

It was never a pleasant sight. The only warmth came from a great, bellowing furnace which had been made for the sheer purpose of removing bodies which had no more meaning to their families or the world from this existence. Immortality was a joke for these people, who struggled to get their injections of life-prolonging fluid by legal or illegal means. No, here, any human would be reminded of their own, futile mortality. Flames spat from inside the stomach of what the citizens called "Hell's Mouth."

There were wheelbarrows, of course, filled with the bodies of the children and infants from the Trash Pits, carried by people who believed it wasn't right for their bodies to freeze eternally within that foul place. The cries of civilians could only barely be heard above the sound of the gate of the furnace shutting every moment, allowing new groups of corpses to be tossed in. And some of them weren't even dead.

It was a silent, spoken truth that the gangs and other crime syndicates could easily remove "liabilities" from their sight with a bag over the head and a small amount of force to throw them through the air. No trace evidence. No means of being discovered. If a police force ever bothered to track them down, they would find nothing left behind. The furnace swallowed it all, without a second thought. The ashes joined the ashes. The dust turned to dust.

Only a single incinerator there was, for six sections of a community, to be shared between all of them. All the Lower Class members knew that their fate was to disappear within Hell's Mouth, never to be remembered, only to be forgotten. There were legends and nightmarish tales told of it to others. It was a fearful place.

A massive, open crucible that was eternally heated, the area around it barren of life. Approaching it was like walking the path of the dead but for those who lived in the cold, the heat of the fires of those being cremated brought back life to their flesh.

So it was that there was a town around the furnace, for people who could ignore the constant, loud sound of the furnace closing, brushing away the countless pounds of ash, and then reopening for a new harvest. That town was known as Hell's Gate, a town cursed for its arrogance and sacrilege in being built so close to such a forsaken ground.

Thankfully, Garas and Raven were far from there, safely locked within a room in a cafe that had been built as a respite from the chilling cold. And being burned alive was only one of the many fears Garas had at the current moment in time, albeit all of them dulled by the drink he had consumed.

Raven was asking him something. He looked up at this newcomer with a frown, not knowing his name, his face unfamiliar. Garas' own head swam as he fell over onto his side, on the bed. A trash can was provided to him but it was meaningless. He didn't feel the need to vomit, at least, not yet.

"....Number... 2213.... Garash... Gras.... Garas Barold...." he mumbled, eyes half closed. "2213.... Missions... Today's mission... They... I went and found them... the family..."

The memories flashed in front of his face. The door bashed down. Guns pointed. Screams as the husband tried to defend them. He was knocked aside. The eldest teenage girl was taken by one of the other officers. Garas didn't see her after that, never again. The other three were taken with him. The rope. The bags. The abandoned building. He winced, tears falling from his eyes and soaking the cloth of the bed.

"They had known... it was illegal... Why did they do it? Why have a child?" Garas asked, concerned. "Bringing them into this... this world.... Not even worth... Child would suffer... Better to die... Right?"

He coughed, his eyes closing. Sleep began to grasp at him.

"No more meaning.... No more reality... No more life... I'm going to die... I've committed treason... I stopped them.... The family is going to die anyway... But ...." he trailed off, blinking rapidly as he tried to stay awake. "What... why did I do it... It didn't mean anything... I didn't stop anything... Anything.... I just... made myself a target...."

He closed his eyes, breathing slowly.

"...Target...." he whispered. "Number... 2213..... Gar...."

He went silent, his chest rising and falling with his breaths.




Fenrir and Feyla


A whole group of the Kitsunes had gathered, each trying to push past the other as they stared with confusion at Lunpor leading Fenrir and Feyla to the front, to a shrine made for this purpose. Feyla's new robes - white and beautiful - decorated her form. She was pleased, far than that, smiling as she walked with him, through the grass and along the path.

Lunpor turned to them both, looking Fenrir over again as they stood in front of him, now.

The sun shone on Fenrir's joyed expression, and he felt utterly at peace. All of his nightmares were forgotten in that single, blissful moment. This was his new reality, his new life, his new destiny.

A hand gripped his own a little tighter, female and slender. He held her hand in his own. They would do this together, just as everything else.


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"Then let them force one onto me - at least then I won't get angry with myself for picking the troublemaker in the first place," Maximillian responded with a complete lack of regard for the seriousness of the matter as his cane slammed down with the boom of his words, creating a small resonating smack through the room that gathered the gazes of the ones around him. After realizing what he had done, the man cleared his throat and dissuaded them from staring intently and they turned away, at which point he turned to Bartholomew.

"Besides, if there's anyone capable of picking the best apprentice for me - even right now, I'd say - then that individual would be you. After all, I'm horrible at guessing who really is interested in my fields," Miles added with a slight smirk as he lifted the cane from the floor with one of his hands, then quickly lifted its tip to his cousin's side and poked him before putting it back down. The claim he made was one even Bartholomew could confirm, as he has previously accidentally hired two understudies for the man that seriously had no interest at all in even working for the Starlight Steamworks. After clearing out the issue himself, Bartholomew asked for his cousin to never pick understudies in his lieu for the Robotics subsection of their caste, to which the man agreed with no hesitation.

Though the man really did not want to ever see the concept of him having an apprentice bear fruit, he did wonder just how beneficial would be to him. A second person in the house that was capable of cleaning the lab up WITHOUT ruining or misplacing notes and important gadgets? That certainly made him consider hiring one in place of a maid, but then quickly redacted the thought, as no idiot would put himself under his study just to clean up for him - plus, the Council's checks on a trimonthly basis meant that he had to prepare his apprentice four times a year for various tests he really did not think were necessary.

"Hm? The Lycans?" Miles asked as he slowly turned his gaze toward the two, then pondered for a few seconds with a hand on his chin and then gave himself a quick nod.

"Sure thing. I'll act as your translator," He said with a serious tone, albeit simply joking to Bartholomew, as he stood for a few moments and then turned to the young lady beside his cousin. Although he was almost sure that it was an actual female, the thought about the 'they' pronouns still made him consider for a second his variant about their non-binary gender. Perhaps he'd have a quick talk with... them, after they reached the laboratories.








"Garas... a Number, huh? Ex-NSSF... that explains things, kid. A lot of things that I know well by heart, really," Raven replied with complete calmness as he pulled himself back until he reached the wall and then leaned onto it. His breath came out in a huff as he collided a bit more forcefully with it, causing him to clutch at the back of his head for a few seconds to calm the throbbing sensation. A short hiss later, he put his hand back down and turned to the man.

"A mission. A family. Sounds like the standard kill order for people that are 'overcrowding'," Valerian commented with hints of venom in his voice as he looked aside for a moment, unwilling to exactly keep eye contact with the younger man in front of him. However, as this was his goal, he grudgingly turned back forward whilst his hands dug into his coat and retrieved a curious small metal box. Hitting the small switch of the cigarette case to flip it open, he picked out one of the three remaining within and then shut it with one hand. Placing the case back in the confines of his inner pocket, he pulled out a lighter from the same spot and prepared to light the cigarette - that is, before he heard Garas' next words. His gaze rose up from the actions he had gotten busy with, and his expression soured as he noticed the tears sliding down his pale cheeks.

"Hey, hey..." He slowly muttered, rising by pushing himself up with the wall behind himself, then slowly lit the cigarette as the man spoke his problems away. Inhaling the sweet flavor of the tobacco as it burned vigorously, leaving a hint of red at the tip of the roll in his mouth, he pulled it away with one hand and blew out the remainder of the white cloud from his body.

"The world down here's censorkip.gif, kid. I assume you're high class to not have known it before... or a naive person, which I've yet to meet," Valerian spoke as he quietly stepped forward, the carpet below absorbing the sounds his shoes would've made instead.

"People getting killed for bearing the fruit of their love... children dying after being abandoned... it's a true hellhole," he continued with an absolute cold voice - a voice that knew by heart all he spoke of. A sigh escaped his lips as he thought quickly about all of the things he'd seen in life, then was silenced by the second pull of the cigarette that Raven hurried with in an attempt to bring forth the calming effects of the tobacco more quickly.

"Huh...?" The Remington mouthed with cigarette in mouth as he stared at the young man. Slowly, he seemed to drift further and further away from complete consciousness, as his eyes struggled to stay open and his body's breathing slowed from its previous frantic tempo. Thankfully, he seemed to be going down without incident - however, there was still the issue of the alcohol within him, which Valerian could not pass by. He showed no signs of alcohol poisoning, but it never was too clear with more skinny people, such as the young man himself.

"Alright, kid..." Valerian spoke as he pulled away the cigarette with his left hand, then blew out the smoke away from the bed. Coming to a stop after a few steps next to the man in the bed, he bent slightly over the drunken one's form and let out a sigh. His right hand quietly moved to his face.

"Sleep for now. You'll be safe here. We'll speak tomorrow," He finished as the man slowly drifted, his final words yet again speaking his name, as he dragged his fingers over his eyelids, shutting them and sending him directly into a calm state of sleep. Another sigh came from the Remington as he turned away, then placed the cigarette back in his mouth and walked out of the room, making sure to lock it from the outside with a quick flip of the lock from his tools.

'Moon... what happened to that guy?' He asked himself as he leaned onto the wall beside the door for a few seconds and smoked the cigarette in silence.

He had incorrectly assumed that his first drinking case had been worse than this - after all, his drinking case did not involve what Valerian considered most likely was the bane of the slums they lived in, a family elimination mission.

Of course, his eyebrows rose as he considered how a NSSF operative such as the man now sleeping in the room had been unable to tolerate the stress of a kill mission like that. He wasn't sure of it, but a lot of rumors went by about just how strictly and cold-bloodedly the NSSF taught its personnel in various arts of killing that left almost every person to finish them an emotionless shell of a human.

'Bah, I should be surprised in a good way that someone disobeyed the NSSF,' Valerian simply thought to himself seconds later as his cigarette came to an end, then quickly extinguished its flame in his grip before throwing it down the hallway into a trashcan that stood next to the bathrooms. Taking a deep breath to calm himself, the man slowly made his way down the stairs.

"Alright... I suggest you leave him to his rest. I'll stay over for tonight, just in case," Valerian muttered as he turned to Fallea with a gloomy expression to further signify his claim to her and its importance, then turned to the young woman still standing in the lobby.

"So I didn't pick up everything, but you are to visit Robert's docks down East?" He asked, placing a hand upon his chin and wondering what there was to be done - after all, it was easy for him to tell the young woman hadn't exactly been shown the worst of the life in these slums, and as such, decided it would be better off not to let her out into the cold, dangerous nights.

"There might be something we could do to help you, but I'd heavily suggest resting over in the café tonight - no offense, but you don’t look like you know your way around here, and that would mean people with bad ideas would flock to you like flie... children to ice cream," The Remington switched his comparison for a second as he was compelled to by the soft appearance of the young woman in front of him, then let out a sigh and returned to his seat at the bar.

"I'll handle the fee if you can't pay for it, and no, you don't have to return it. Consider it a gift from the less dangerous residents of the slums," The man finished before he returned to his set of drinks, this time instantly chugging the second glass before calmly setting it down with another heavy sigh.

Edited by KuroKishi

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