The Short Story

But not
everyone
will try
to offer
a hand,
for you
to hold—
in the end
when you
get home,
I hope
you’ll find
comfort
with yourself
even if
you’re on
your own.
—  ma.c.a // Alone but not Lonely

When the sorcerer found the dragon, it was attacking a grape.

This was only possible because the dragon was not much larger than a grape itself, but she still had to do a double take to be sure the object it was fighting with such animosity was in fact inanimate.

She crouched so that her eyes were level with the top of the table and squinted at it. The dragon sank its tiny fangs into the grape’s skin and gave a great tug, succeeding only in throwing it and the grape into a backwards tumble. The tiny green reptile rolled to a stop with its whole body wrapped around the grape and shook its head ferociously, managing to pull its teeth out but also launching the grape across the table. It gave a mighty roar of anger (about as loud as a human clearing their throat) and stalked after it, tail swishing dangerously.

“Do you need help?” she offered.

The dragon froze mid-prowl and whipped its head around to look at her, looking so offended she almost apologized for asking.

“I mean, I could peel it for you, if that’s the problem.” She wasn’t sure it was getting the message. One could never tell how much human language these little creatures picked up by hanging around the magic labs. Some understood only such essentials as “scat!” or “oh fuck, that sure did just explode”, while others could hold entire conversations — if they deigned to interact.

This one looked like it was deciding whether she was worthy. Finally, it sniffed daintily and flicked its tail, scales clacking together. “Little monster is my prey, and you can’t have it. Found it first. Will devour it!”

“Oh, sure,” she agreed. “But you know it’s a grape, right?”

This was the wrong thing to say. It glared at her and then bounded away to the other end of the table, where it slithered up to the grape and pounced on it.

Grape and dragon promptly rolled off the edge of the table.

The sorcerer quickly went around to that side, alarmed that it would be stepped on. The labs were bustling with shoppers stopping by to watch demonstrations this time of day, and a small dragon wouldn’t be easily visible on the blue and green tiled floor.

“Horrible! Dirty!” The tiny dragon was screeching at the top of its lungs, holding onto its prey for dear life. It would have been hard to hear anyway, with all the noise of the labs, but with the sorcerer’s diminished hearing it took several seconds to locate the screaming creature.

She scanned the pattern of the tiles for it and sighed. “Oh, hold on, we mopped this morning.” She cupped her hands around it and deposited it into her skirt pocket, an indignity the dragon endured only with more screaming.

“An outrage! Put me down!”

“Shh,” she advised. Lab workers were strongly discouraged from bringing creatures into the back rooms, which was where she was heading, picking her way through the crowded front lab.

“Fuck pockets!” her pocket responded.

“Oh, you can curse. Wonderful.”

The dragon seemed to take this as an actual compliment. “Am multitalented. Can also compose poetry.”

“Really? Can I hear some?”

“No. For dragon ears only.” It sounded viciously pleased to hold this over her head. The bulge in her pocket rearranged itself, and she thought it might be trying to gnaw on the grape.

She felt herself smiling even as she tried to squash her mouth into a straight line. She liked this little bad-tempered thing, even though its spiky feet were digging into her thigh.

In the much quieter kitchen of the back rooms behind the lab, she transferred the wriggling, scaly handful from her pocket to the table. The dragon hissed out a few more insults as it got up and straightened itself out, but its jaw fell open when it finally took in its surroundings. She’d set it down next to the fruit bowl.

“There you go. Food mountain.”

The dragon’s shock didn’t last long. Abandoning the grape, it scraped and scrabbled its way up the side of the bowl and from there onto an apple, its claws leaving tiny puncture marks as it hiked to the top of the arrangement. “Food mountain!” It repeated, its gleeful crowing much clearer and almost sing-song without having to compete with the noise of the crowd.

She watched it turn in a circle, surveying the feast. “But… cannot eat it all,” it observed after a while, crestfallen. “Human-sized. Big shame.”

“Don’t you have nest-mates who can help you with it?” she asked. She had assumed not, from the way it had apparently been foraging for food on its own, but she needed to be sure she’d found a loner.

“No nest. No mates. No nest-mates. You’re rude.” It flopped down ungracefully, wings spread out flat on the apple like it was trying to hug the entire much-larger fruit.

She gave it a moment to be dramatic, and then offered it the grape, minus the peel. “You seem to have a good grasp on human-speak.”

It grabbed the grape without so much as a thank you. “Yes. Have composed poetry in both Dragonese and Humanese. Not for humans to hear, though.” Bragging cheered it up a little.

“You mentioned. I can’t hear very well, anyway.” She pulled up a stool and sat down. “Actually, I’ve been looking for a helper.”

“An assistant,” it said, apparently showing off its Humanese. “An attendant. An aid.”

She watched it bury its snout in the grape, juice dribbling down onto the apple it sat on. “Yes. A hearing aid. How would you feel about having a job?”

It smiled craftily. “Would feel positively, if job comes with chocolate chips.”

“It could,” she said, grinning. She had some friends who employed bird-sized dragons as messengers, but this was the first time she’d heard of one negotiating its salary for itself. “It certainly could. What’s your name?”

“Peep,” said Peep. “It is self-explanatory.”

“Don’t worry, I got it.”

Peep expressed its doubt that humans ever got anything, but she thought the tiny, prickly creature might be warming up to her.

“hello,” the dark lord said, “i need a library card.”

“everyone needs a library card,” the librarian said brightly, sliding a form across the desk. “fill this out.”

the dark lord produced her own elaborately plumed quill from the depths of her robes and scrawled her name in handwriting that was completely illegible but seemed to whisper the secrets of the dark from the blinding white page. “yes, but i need mine in order to take over the tri-kingdom area.”

the librarian’s polite smile barely faltered. “funny, the last dark lord to try that didn’t bother with a card.”

“yes, and do you see that fool currently ruling our kingdom? no. of course not. utterly ridiculous, to attempt to take over any size country without a library card, much less an intermediate-sized one like this.” she accepted the thin plastic card with a gracious flourish of her gloved hand.

the librarian, adding the new card’s number to the database, privately agreed, but chose not to say anything.


the librarian balanced the pile of pulled books under one elbow and held the list of call numbers in their hand for easy consultation. “intermediate spell casting for grades three and four,” they murmured, running fingers along the peeling spines until they found it. “willing to bet that’s sorrel’s request.”

they fit the large, paperbound book under their elbow and moved on, checking the list again. “magical creatures encyclopedia, L through M. that’s jackaby trying to finish the entire set by midsummer.” they would get that one last to carry it around the shortest amount of time.

“next — the complete guide to raising the dead.” they paused in front of the row of shelves with the right call numbers. they could guess the requester of that one too, but knew better than to say it out loud.


the return slot thunked loudly as it swung open and closed, having swallowed the returned books with a wet gulp.

“good morning,” the dark lord said pleasantly as she looked up from sliding her books in — or as pleasantly as “good morning” could sound when it was uttered by a voice that sounded like gravel being chewed to pieces by the jaws of a large monster.

“it is, very,” the librarian said crisply, conjuring a clean handkerchief for the still-slobbering return slot.

the mouth just visible under the dark lord’s enormous cloak hood curved into a scythe’s blade smile, but she said nothing else.

“did you enjoy your books?” the librarian asked, since she wasn’t moving and there were no other people waiting (most likely because of the dark lord standing there).

the hood nodded up and down. “extremely. especially the taped lecture by doctor dramidius ardorius of the dark arts institute.”

“well, we have many more taped lectures. i especially recommend the one on the healing powers of tea.” they tilted their head in a now get out sign. the poor steam-powered self-checkout contraption would get overheated if people were too scared to check out at the front desk.

they didn’t really expect the dark lord to take the recommendation seriously, but the next day they noticed the cloaked, hooded specter glide out the door with the taped lecture on magic-infused herbal teas tucked between a CD of dark chants and a step-by-step art book on drawing occult symbols.


“you give good recommendations,” the dark lord said with a shrug when the librarian raised their eyes from the front desk’s computer to the shadows of her hood.

the librarian wasn’t sure what to say. “you seem to take up quite a lot of my time.”

“i’m only a simple library patron,” the dark lord replied in a saintly voice that resembled a dragon coughing up a partially digested house. “do you enjoy mermaid song?”

“yes. you can find the library’s collection in the CD section over there.” they looked pointedly back down at the computer.

“i hear there’s a concert on the shore tomorrow evening.”

“perhaps we’ll get a recording of it.”


the dark lord continued taking out books on various unsavory topics. the librarian continued suggesting books on healing, positive thinking, and community service. the dark lord seemed more amused with each visit. her smile was almost charming, once you got past the long, sharp teeth.


the librarian was trying to go about their usual morning ritual of pulling books that had been requested the night before, but the dark lord wouldn’t stop making faces at them from behind gaps in the shelves. she seemed to find it hilarious. the librarian hadn’t decided yet if they were amused or annoyed.

“ooh, look at this,” the dark lord said, pulling a sturdy but beaten up board book featuring a werewolf mid-transformation on the cover from the shelf. “this was my favorite when i was just a little menace.”

“somehow i’m not surprised.”

the dark lord tucked the book into the ridiculous basket made of a large skull that floated alongside her. “didn’t you have a favorite picture book when you were little?”

“Barker the Sentient Book End,” the librarian said promptly. “i screamed for it every night until someone read it to me, long after i’d already memorized each page.”

the dark lord cooed, sounding like a cross between an owl and something eating an owl. “adorable. i knew you had a little monster in you somewhere.”

the librarian crossly debated denying being a monster at all or pointing out they had actual kraken blood in them.


they should have guessed how close the dark lord was from how good her mood was, but it wasn’t until they arrived at work on monday that the librarian heard the news.

“the newest dark lord managed to overthrow the faeyrie monarchy last night. something about combining traditional herbal spells with a newfangled mental magic based on the power of willful thinking… or something. the news reporter mentioned the use of mermaid song in a mild kind of mind control, i think? i wasn’t listening. the good news is, our budget stays in place.”

the librarian contemplated hurling the can of bookmarks across the room, but concluded that it would be both unprofessional and unsatisfying. they settled for aggressively stamping returned, only slightly saliva-covered books with red ink.


the phone clicked loudly. “public library, how can i help you?”

“by taking my offer,” the dark lord said, slightly hesitant voice like a rock slide that wasn’t sure it was ready to slide. “the royal library in the capital needs a new head librarian.”

“why’s that?” the librarian spun in their new swivel chair, tangling the phone cord while they were at it, thinking they wouldn’t want to leave so soon after getting it.

there was a cough like the ocean spitting out a new island. “erm, hmm, last one got… eaten. tragic. these things happen when you’re very, very small, you know.”

“so i’ve heard.” the librarian stretched the phone cord and watched it bounce back. “well, i’m happy where i am.”

“well.” her voice was more disappointed than they’d expected. “it’s a very nice library, you know. large selection of mermaid song in the CD section.”

“the royal library is part of our system. i can request any materials from there that i want to be delivered here.”

a pause. the dark lord had not considered this. “well, maybe i’ll take the royal library out of the system.”

“you wouldn’t dare disrupt the workings of our very intricate library system set up at the dawn of time.”

“maybe i would!”

“no.”

“fine. i wouldn’t.”

the librarian swiveled some more, wrapping the cord around with them until it ran out of give and spun them in the other direction. “would you like to grab a coffee sometime?”

“yes,” the dark lord said, voice too surprised to resemble anything in particular. “i can travel down meet you tomorrow morning.”

“don’t you have things to do?”

they could sense the shrug from the other end of the line. “i’ll move the capital to your town. i can do that, you know. i’m the supreme ruler of the tri-kingdom area.”

“yes,” the librarian agreed, un-spinning to return the phone to its cradle. “just don’t forget who gave you the library card.”

Darling
we will cry
with our hands
on our knees,
we will close
our eyes
with tired souls
and dreamless
sleeps,
but I always hope
that —someday—
one morning—
we will wake up
with courage
and wonderful
beginnings.
—  ma.c.a // Hope is a gamble, and I’m in
What MRA’s think will happen at the Women-Only Wonder Woman Screenings

We at the Alamo Drafthouse would like to officially apologize for our role in the end of mankind as we knew it, and the ascendant Gynocracy that followed. We didn’t know our women-only screening of Wonder Woman would result in the overthrow of all world governments and the total subjugation of men, but in hindsight we probably should have seen it coming.

Keep reading

I wonder
if there’s still
an unbroken heart
here in this world—
other than
a newborn child’s,
other than
an innocent kid’s,
with a pure beating heart,
with a clear thinking mind.

I wonder,
and
I hope.
Even if
the answer
might hurt.

—  ma.c.a // Pieces of our hearts

you want to paint the underside of your coffin with glow in the dark stars so you’ve got something to look at. when you were in mass last sunday god spoke to you directly and asked you to please stop it. you’ve been trying to stop it.

she’s wearing a red dress that hugs her waist so tight that you picture your hands searching for your sanity somewhere in the folds of that body. between thighs like that. is this objectifying her? you worry to yourself, smashing lipstick on.

your head already hurts, and there’s a girl who is puking in the corner. you ask her if she needs anything, and she tells you she likes your dress, and you say thank you do you need water, and she says, it’s okay i’m going to die here, and you say, okay let me bring you water. so you bring her water, even though the other girls look nasty at you when you cut the line. it’s not for me, you try to explain, weakly, over bass that is breaking your eardrums. nobody likes a hero. the girl is surprised you’re back. she spits up daintily, almost neatly, and drinks the water in a single chug. she tells you to go back to partying, so you do, because she tells you to.

where the hell is your friend. it’s not like she promised she’d stay next to you but here you are and here she isn’t, which is either rude for both of you or just the average way of things.

nervous hands bring you back to the bar where at least you can linger and pout and think about god, and his hands, and the sun coming up tomorrow on the bones of your body. where if you keep your eyes down and don’t look up you won’t remember that all places of worship are churches and here you are, nursing a vodka tonic you finished five minutes ago, praying about hell while women cagedance not more than six yards from where you sit.

a man in a suit - an honest-to-god suit - comes up to you. the cloth is powder blue. he asks if you want a drink. you don’t. you say yes because your mother taught you not to turn down free things. he orders you something you don’t like and you lean across the bar and tell the bartender nicely that unless he wants you to die you will be drinking a shot of fireball and nothing else, thank you. the bartender says, i don’t want you to die.

you don’t say, okay, but, what if someone would finally let me die. that’s dark. that’s something you stow for your friend who has a good enough sense of humor.

you smile at the man, take the shot, wave at him, ask him to come dance, melt away into the crowd with that ability you learned somewhere in high school. now you’re alone again and can’t go back to the bar because the man will be looking. you remember you’ve got a phone finally.

you ask your friend where she is. she doesn’t reply coherently, but you like the addition of the cat emoji.

some terrible part of you slips into your skin now, the ache of wanting out. so you go out.

and there’s the girl in the red dress.   

you feel yourself choke like a car engine and it’s gosh dang embarrassing.

she’s laughing, blowing smoke up at the building. a man is standing next to her, but she makes eye contact with you. you ask her if she’s willing to bum you one. you’ve never smoked in your life and you’re terrified of them like guns. she nods and slips you a clover. you don’t let your hands shake in the glow of the lighter, only after, only when she smiles at you and asks you how you’re doing.

how am i doing? i’m very lonely and i think god abandoned me and it feels like a train wreck inside me. i feel myself reversing. my headlights are going out. tomorrow already hurts.

instead you shrug and say something inconsequential. you say, that’s a nice dress. even manage to keep how hard your heart is pounding out of it.

isn’t it? asks the man. you now remember he’s here. you have the urge to smoke suddenly. inhale deeply.

sorry to bother you, you say, just got too loud in there.

she nods, looking at you, mouth in a pretty smile. not bothering, she says, it’s okay. want to go back in with me?

her outstretched hand is soft and cold. you drop the clover. once inside she shouts over the music to you about how men are creeps. her lip touches your ear while she speaks. her hand doesn’t leave yours. she pulls you to the dance floor. your heart feels like a carousel.

she dances. your throat is dry. she takes your other hand and makes you dance with her, a silly little twisting thing. your palms are sweaty and she is laughing. she leans in to speak with you, pressing up against your body. there is lightning shooting out over your skin. she smells like roses. her hair seems soft.

she’s whispering something and for a second, the sound of corroding stops in your brain. like the train finally derailed and now it’s dead and can leave you out of it. like stuff gets quiet even though you’re drunk in public on a friday night.

so this is worship, then, you think.

you say, sorry, and she says ? for what? and you can’t speak.

when she turns around, you leave.

I see lights
in between
our fingertips,
I hear the
sweetest
melodies
flowing out
of your lips,
and here
in this place
lies my dreams
making it
easier for me
to breathe.
—  ma.c.a // You, Me, and My Writings
A Handful of Questions to Ask Yourself While Creating a Character

Compelling characters make compelling stories. Here’s a bunch of questions you can ask yourself while developing a character. 

1) What does your character want from life? What is their motivation? What drives them? Most people want things - it could be as small as wanting a sandwich, or something huge like wanting to change the world. Does your character want something? Does your character dream? What about? And if they don’t, why don’t they? 

2) Is your character shy? Outgoing? Insecure? Proud? Why are they the way they are? My favourite example of this question answered well is Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. He’s insecure because he doesn’t come from a wealthy family, has a bunch of older brothers who are all amazing in some form or way, his mother always wanted a daughter, Ginny, and so he doesn’t feel as wanted. Also, one of his best friends is the Chosen One, and the other is the brightest witch of her age - a cocktail that would make anyone doubt themselves. 

3) What kind of clothes does your character wear? Why? The way you dress says a lot about who you are. For instance, If a character wears designer clothes and the latest fashions, it shows that they have the means to keep up with the trends. However if they wear a medley of things bought second-hand, or buy cheap stuff from supermarkets, they might not have the money to spare on outfits, or maybe they just don’t care about fashion.

4) How does your character speak?  Speech patterns have origins. An accent, language, a dialect, all signify geography, social class, personality. It could be as simple as cussing too much. But be sure you know why your character speaks the way they do. And if it’s not a speech pattern you’re familiar with, do your research!

5) Likes and dislikes I sometimes give characters specific likes (”I like tomatoes”) or specific dislikes (”I dislike eggs”), simply because it humanises them. You don’t have to do this, or be as specific as that, if it doesn’t serve your story. But it’s definitely something you can consider. Everyone has those little things they love and hate, and you can go places with them. (”I hate eggs because my childhood bully threw an egg at me and scarred me for life.”) Be creative and have fun with it.

6) Who does your character love? Romantic attraction isn’t necessary to create a wholesome character. Nevertheless, if they are in love with someone, be sure to understand why they love someone. Love is at its best, a complicated emotion difficult to break down, but a relationship has to be believable. As a reader, I need to be able to look at a couple and think, yeah, I can see what their love is built on. 

7) What would their favourite songs be? This is not so much a question as it is a trick I use to get a better feel for who my character is. No matter what time period your story is set in, you can use this to understand your character better. Take your playlist and pick what songs they would enjoy. It says a lot about who they are. For instance, one of my characters would enjoy Western classical music and nothing else. Another character listens to the worst kind of pop and loves it. 

8) How does your character react under stress? Can they cope with it? Do they get tense? Angry? Teary? Why? Why not? How a person deals with stress is a vital part of their personality. Decisions taken under stress can be the worst you’ve ever made, or (depending on how you handle stress), can be effective solutions to problems. The way a person reacts to stress often has a lot to do with their background and upbringing. Example (this is a generalisation, of course): someone who comes from a difficult family background may have more extreme reactions to stress than someone who is well-adjusted and comes from a happy family. 

9) What does your character do when they’re alone? You’re often a different person alone than when you are with other people. The pretences and false faces come away, and all the little thoughts you usually ignore now have time to play in the open. Who is your character when they’re alone? What do they do? What do they think about? Why do they think about/do things in that way?

10) Where does your character fail? Characters must have flaws to be compelling. Nobody is perfect, and your character shouldn’t be either. Whether its insecurity or anger, or a lack of initiative, or smaller things like not being a good artist, or not being the best at sports–we all have personal failings and we all have things we aren’t good at. Consider: where does your character mess up? 

I hope this helps! Remember to have fun. Developing characters can be the most exciting thing. Keep an open mind while working. Happy writing! 

When I first met you, I thought that you might be something that I was going to call home.
And I was right.
—  d.p.a
7

My first short comic in ages! Haven’t drawn comics in over 9 years so getting back into it proved to be a tough but rewarding learning experience.

Not autobiographical, but I did want to have a white nose at one point growing up after a I got called a Chinese pig at school because of my flat nose. For a very long time I thought a long white nose, blond hair and blue eyes could solve all of my problems, but turns out they can’t! I’ve also grown fond of my flat nose and almond-shaped eyes over the years. Enjoy!

Masterpost: Yana Toboso’s blog/twitter post translations

People who visit my blog on PC probably know that there’s already a masterpost of all my past blog/twitter post translations, but the majority of people seems to use the mobile version of tumblr and therefore have no access to it (?), so here’s a masterpost that is hopefully accessible to everyone! Also, I’d appreciate it if you could check this masterpost *first* before asking me “Has Yana ever talked about XX on her blog?” xD

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional translator but just a normal Japanese Kuro fan with intermediate English skills, and I primarily translate all these Kuro related posts for myself, namely to improve my English! All posts marked with * are proofread by my precious, lovely friend minacchin though (thank you for your help<3), so you can expect a flawless English translation :)

Yana Toboso:


Kuroshitsuji/Black Butler:


Sebastian Michaelis:


Ciel and the Phantomhive household:


Lizzy and the Midfords:


Grim reapers:


Other characters:


Musical:


Live action movie:


Drama CD:


“Nijishitsuji2” scanlations in cooperation with frederickabblerline:


Tips: If you don’t know where to start reading, here are some tips. The posts in bold are the ones that got over 1000 notes. And the ones in italic are my personal faves that I found funny/interesting and definitely recommend you to read! :)

And finally, thank you to all those people who read and liked my translations and sent me lovely, encouraging messages in the past 2.5 years! ♡♡

Originally posted by nitratediva

Have fun reading Yana’s posts<3

People often misunderstand what the old saying about a cat having nine lives means. The cats prefer to keep it a secret, as most humans can’t be trusted with information so fragile and precious, but there are exceptions.

The merchant who shares his leftover fish. The young girl that hides littler after litter of newborn ones in her room until they find new homes. The old man with scars who still has enough kindness to open his shed to let them slip in from the rain. Boys, teenagers, mothers, warriors, brothers - some are trusted.

Exceptions, yes, few nowadays and rare, but honoured all the more.

So nine lives there are indeed. Each cat is born with them and no matter the time or place, they are lost easily.

This is where the story ends for most people.

But for those who are trusted, those who wake up one morning and find a weird taste in their mouth, the scent of a forest never touched by human hands in their nose, and a strange lingering touch of whiskers on their forehead - they know the truth.

Nine lives for this world, is what all our legends used to say.

You, friend of cats, know the ancient, almost forgotten sayings.

You know of cat eyes shining in the deepest night when they shouldn’t be able to. You know of cats staring past your ear, at that forbidden spot right by the frayed corner of your vision, and you fear that if you look, your cat won’t be able to stare it into submission anymore. You don’t look. The cat purrs. You’re safe.

The kittens have all their lives still. They do not look at the edgewalking beasts that whisper through their humans’ house. It will take time until they fall, hurt, learn.

The oldest cats know so much that a touch of their paw will make an entire village shudder. Their quiet voices cast spells. Let them roam. You cannot imagine the things that flee from them as they walk in silence.

Cat friend, you know it in your heart.

You know of the paths they walk that human feet can’t find.

You know of the nights they vanish and return with the scent of blood, earth and salt in their fur, and when your fingers touch their coat, a cold shiver awakes your skin.

Sometimes, they hear things. You don’t know what, but you know enough to let them sit in front of your house or room, paws tucked under, dark stare never leaving an invisible spot in the air.

And when you float between sleep and life, when you’re unlucky enough to claw at the edge of death before you’re ready to go…

Then maybe, friend of cats, you’ll feel a brush of fur along your legs. Maybe, just before you startle with awe in your heart and wake once more, the same pair of eyes that should sleep by your side winks at you from another world.