an even greater honor to have had the chance to become friends!

anonymous asked:

I was really struck by something I read in one of your earlier replies to an ask, which was "we’ll never know what Rachel would have done after the war ended", and I wondered if perhaps you may actually have some thought about what might have happened if she did? How WOULD Rachel, who thrived in war, adapt to the mundane life after?

Jake

After a while Rachel’s aunt and uncle get so used to her stopping by that they just make her a copy of their house key; it’s easier than answering the door all the time or leaving a window open for her, besides which they’re grateful because she’s there almost every day to bully Jake out of bed and into the world to go do something.  Most days it’s just attending Habitat for Humanity builds in the devastated areas downtown or visiting kids from the local hospital who idolize them both.  Rachel doesn’t mind dragging Jake out of his room at all, because while Tobias is good for taking random college classes or exploring new parts of the country with her, there are still plenty of stupid things that she can only talk Jake into doing.  Together they surf during hurricanes, skydive without parachutes, swim to the bottom of the ocean as orcas and throw themselves off cliffs as birds of prey.  

Rachel doesn’t pretend to understand what he’s going through, because she quite simply can’t—if she even tries to think about what it would be like if it was Jordan or Sarah she’d had to kill during that last battle, she tends to lose the ability to breathe.  But while she can’t give him empathy she can give him this: the scream of wind rushing past their bodies as they hurl toward the ground at nearly a hundred miles an hour, the incomparable thrill of the ground approaching them faster than an oncoming train, the moment of simple euphoria during that millisecond decision to once again open one’s wings and tell death not today.  He doesn’t smile much, and never laughs, but that’s always been true to some extent.  She doesn’t concern herself with making him smile, but with forcing him to gasp for air in his refusal to give up on life, to morph when not doing so would mean drowning in the cold Pacific, to swerve a second away from spattering on the ground.  Because she’s the only one who understands the power of those moments to make them forget everything in the world except the heady rush of being so goddamn alive they can barely even stand it.

Marco

It’s strange, really, how tough and showy they can be around each other most of the time… and how vulnerable they can become when no one else is around.  Rachel’s pretty sure she’s the only one who ever saw Marco cry after they all watched Eva’s body tumble hundreds of yards to its apparent death, and she knows for certain that she’s the only one to whom he says “it’s like we never really got her back at all,” the day his parents announce their divorce.  In public Rachel and Marco become even more themselves, one-upping each other to see who can come out with the most embarrassing story in round after round of interviews and bantering at lightning speed as live studio audiences laugh and cheer.  Rachel gives a hysterical, exaggerated account of Marco’s failed attempt at gatecrashing William Roger Tennant’s award banquet; Marco comes back with a heroic narrative of how his llama-self saved an entire television studio from the crocodile Rachel conveniently forgot to mention she had puked out backstage.  When talking about the time Helmacrons invaded Marco’s nose, they each manage to make the whole mess entirely into the other one’s fault.  

In private, they sit on the back porch of Marco’s primary house once a week and work their way through a bottle of triple sec they’re definitely too young to own.  It’s during those long evenings as the sun sets over the Newport Beach mansions that they air the things to each other they’ve never told a living soul before.  Marco talks about the hard bright-edged joy of watching 17,000 yeerks sucked into space and only being able to imagine their screams.  Rachel confesses to having cried herself to sleep after she and Ax dropped David on that island.  They air their sickest thoughts, lance their most pus-rotted wounds, spew poison at each other because they know that they are both strong enough (hard enough, cold enough, ruthless enough) to take it and give back in turn.

Cassie

Rachel’s honestly not sure how far Cassie would have gotten, politically, if not for her help.  Because that girl might have passion and conscience and common sense to spare, but Rachel’s not sure she’s met a more appearance-clueless person in her life.  The world of politics runs on fashion and makeup, though, especially if one happens to be a woman, and any time Cassie’s about to go tell the United Nations why they need to update the Universal Declaration of Human Rights today to include the hork-bajir and taxxons, or to scold Congress into giving the ex-hosts war reparations and not murder charges, Rachel is there in the background helping.  She shows Cassie the power of stalking into a room in a pair of towering heels, the ways to make a string of pearls or a Chanel handbag into a weapon of power.  Cassie laughs incredulously every time Rachel shows up at her house with a literal truckload of perfectly-tailored business suits and evening gowns, but over time she starts to understand just how much her reputation for being as elegant as she is fierce can work in her favor.  

Rachel, in turn, starts to put out patents for the kind of clothes Cassie would love: comfortable and practical items that can be worn for years without needing replacement.  Rachel figures that if she’s an international trendsetter already (and she is: her line of perfume makes millions every year, while black leotards are debuting on Paris runways) then she might as well have her best friend and the world of high fashion meet in the middle.  Of course Rachel doesn’t explicitly mention that her patent-leather pumps with arch support and heel padding are inspired by the experience of trying on Cassie’s Timberlands, or that her choice of size-16 models for all her advertisements comes from making dresses that would fit Cassie and sizing up or down from there.  But what’s most amazing to her is that the other dressmakers and shoe lines start to emulate her choices, emphasizing the comfort and sturdiness of everything they make even as they tout it as “cutting edge.”  If Rachel has dragged Cassie into being a fashion icon, then it turns out Cassie might just have dragged Rachel into being a social justice warrior along the way.

Ax

Ax seems somewhat dumbfounded when Rachel explains that there’s an Earth tradition that any ship’s captain can perform a marriage ceremony, and that even if there’s no law on the books about this particular power she wants him to do it anyway.  She’s not sure herself how her and Tobias’s small private ceremony (at least, that was the intention) has grown so much, but even she has to admit that somewhere between the 230-person guest list, the custom chuppah to be hand-embroidered by a team of local artists, the five-tier cake imported from a German bakery, and the dress which is personally designed by Alexander McQueen, things might have gotten slightly out of hand.  Ax takes the duties very seriously, practicing the strange mouth sounds he has to recite more than once in advance and promising solemnly that he will not eat any of the cake until Rachel and Tobias have had the chance to cut it.  

He serves as their best man as well (probably breaking with tradition, not that they care) and the speech he makes afterward is surprisingly heartfelt.  «There has been no greater honor in my life than to fight by your side,» he tells them, «and I owe you both my life many times over.  I owe you more than that, of course, for you have made this strange planet my home when I came to you lost and alone.  I am not sure what humans traditionally wish for each other with a bond such as this, so I will wish you this much: may your lives be long, may your battles be easily won, may you be loved and feared in equal measure, and may your chili always be perfectly seasoned.» 

Tobias

It’s not like they get jobs, or hold down formal obligations, or do anything more structured than attend occasional classes at UCSB or consult with the fashion agency that sends Rachel freelance checks.  So there’s really no reason they can’t continue their odd lifestyle, only in the same form at the same time for two hours at most.  At least, that’s how it is for the first several years… and then one day Rachel comes out of the bathroom, a tiny white stick in her hand, and they both realize their lives are never going to be the same again.  Tobias is terrified, of course: he’s been abandoned (voluntarily or not) by two parents, four guardians, and countless authority figures, and he’s got no reason to believe he’ll be any different.  But he knows what the first step will be in committing to raising this baby for real.  And so he morphs human for the very last time.  

In the years that follow, after their daughter eventually gets a little brother as well, Rachel and Tobias become more boring than they ever could have hoped for.  Rachel starts working full-time as a fashion designer, while Tobias finishes an advanced degree in graphic design and gets a job with the marketing branch of the same company.  They go to PTA meetings and teach their daughter softball, buy a sedan with good gas mileage and a two-story house in Mendocino County where the reporters can’t find them.  They still get restless sometimes, leaving the kids with Loren or Sarah for a week or two at a time to go white-water rafting on the Colorado River or to climb mountains in Tanzania, but they always miss the kids enough to come home before long.  They donate thousands of dollars to end world hunger every year, and they fundraise millions more.  Someday they’ll retire.  Someday after that they’ll die.  For now, however, they’re alive, and that’s enough.  

A Flower’s Path

GIF Credit to: @ygo-gx

Pt. 2 | Pt. 3

Pairing: Ban Ryu (Do Ji Han) X Reader

Genre: angst, coming-of-age, slight!romance

Word Count: 2,584

Request: Hi! For the Hwarang scenarios, what about one where you are a great enough fighter that you are asked to be the ONLY female hwarang (but against your will). Once inside, Ban Ryu is constantly complaining about how you shouldn’t be there and how it’s a disgrace for a woman to be in the Hwarang house. The two of you keep bashing heads bc even though you didn’t want to be there, you weren’t going to take that from him. Once the princess gets there she gets jealous that most of the hwarang gets close with the female hwarang and tries to get rid of her. - @starbooks13


Your hands’ grip slowly tightened on the big wooden stick. Standing ground and focusing on your opponent, you lowered the stick enough so that it pointed at your enemy. New beads of sweat formed on your face. Inhale. Exhale. You smirked, full of confidence. Ready.

You let out a yell, striking a blow on the left shoulder, right shoulder, stomach, and then the shoulders again. Your rival refused to move, only dust flying out of him.You dashed around, dodging for any incoming attacks and taking chances of your own to get hits. Loud rhythmic sounds could be heard from your stick coming in contact with the surface again and again. The amount of energy you used up showed when you found yourself starting to breathe heavily. “Miss (Y/N).” A familiar soft female voice of your personal servant caught your attention. You immediately stopped beating the dummy and brought the stick down to your side.

Turning around to face her, you noticed once again that the woman could not have been but more than a few years older than you. There was still some youth in her face, but she mostly look tired, probably from working for so long. You remembered her being there by your side since you were a little girl. “Yes, Soonja. What is the matter?” you asked.

“Your father insists you stop practicing your martial arts for today and dine with him for dinner now,” the servant answered, bowing her head low. “He also wishes to discuss some important things with you.”

“What does he wish to discuss with me?” You slid your stick back into your weapon rack that also included your spear, sword and knives.

“I am not sure, Miss (Y/N). He just wants me to let you know that it is an important conversation, so he is hoping that you won’t skip dinner to practice.”

You smiled. “Thank you, Soonja. Please allow me to clean up as best as I can before we go see Father.”

When you stepped into the dining room, you found the round table filled with lots of food. It was sort of funny because meals usually meant just you and your father eating. “Good evening, Father. How did the meeting with the officials go today?” You took a seat across from the old man. His gray hair tied into a bun. Though his demeanor looked quite rough at first, your father also seemed quite gentle at times.

He was a True Bone. Quite high in the bone rank system, he was of royal blood and worked as an official for the Royal Family. Since you were his daughter, you were of royal blood as well. “Some of the other officials were beginning to feel doubtful about the Hwarangs and their impact on changing Silla for the better,” your father expressed as you picked up a sweet and sour mushroom from a dish and ate quietly. “A few of the officials are worried about their sons who are part Hwarang as of now. They fear that instead of helping to protect the future king, that the young men will become dogs to the queen.”

“Her Majesty has been on the throne for so long,” you agreed, giving a nod. “She still has some control of them. I have a friend whose brother is a Hwarang. She says that they’re having trouble getting along as some are for the queen and some are against. The males are so focused on their ranks among each other that they hardly train their martial arts and performing arts skills. So much for elites…”

“How do you feel about the formation of the Hwarangs, (Y/N)?” your father asked, placing down his silverware. You did the same, putting down your spoon. You tried to read your father’s eyes to see if he genuinely wanted an answer, and when he continued waiting on you, you sighed.

“I wouldn’t want to be a part of a group like that.”

“Why not? Your fighting skills are impressive. Even though I disapproved of you doing martial arts at first, I’ve come to see that you’re talented in that area. You would’ve made a great Wonhwa.”

“Father,” you frowned. “both leaders of Wonhwa died.”

You started to feel the topic of the conversation dissipate and began lifting up your spoon again to eat when realization hit you. The utensil was placed on the table once more. “Wait… Father, does this have something to do with an important discussion you wanted to have with me?”

“Her Majesty and I have come to an agreement that Hwarang could use someone like you.”

You froze. A heavy weight set on your shoulders, and your stomach started to twist, ruining your appetite. “You don’t even like the queen…”

“But I respect the Royal Family. I also want the best for Silla. The king has not shown his face in years. We are not sure of what he can or can’t do as a ruler of the kingdom. I support our king, and I feel that it would be an honor for you to serve and protect him, (Y/N). Do you understand me?”

“I do, Father, but I don’t want to do this. Hwarang? My fighting skill is just a hobby. It’s also used to protect myself and the people around me, but nothing more than that. I don’t want to risk my life.”

“(Y/N),” your father said in a stern voice, and you knew he was serious about that decision.

“Besides, Hwarang already had their admission ceremony. They’re most likely not accepting anymore members. Hwarang is a group of young elite males. I’m a lady… Please don’t make me join.”

“Keeping your skills as a hobby only is pathetic. You can put those skills to greater use. As for Hwarang being only for males, you will be an exception. Her Majesty adores strong young women, and the chief instructor has also allowed you to stay in Hwarang House with your own small room.”

“You’re not listening to me, Father. I don’t want-”

“Almost all of the officials have a son who excel in sword fighting or literature. Meanwhile, I’ve raised a daughter all my life. I have heard people badmouthed me and you and how you’re only good to be married off to…”

You tried to speak up almost interrupted him, but knowing that arguing with your father would not help with your decision, you remained silent. At this point, you knew there was no way you could win.

“I know that you don’t mind being talked about to like that,” he continued, “but I do not approve of a True Bone’s royal blood being spoken about that way. My daughter is special, and if she doesn’t want to be seen that way, then she’s just going to have to continue living with it because she will be escorted to the Hwarang House tomorrow morning to stand next to the other elites.”

Tomorrow morning?! Already?! Feeling unfairness, your eyes began to burn with incoming tears, but you held them back. “Yes, Father. My apologies for trying to talk back.” You bowed your head down, and your father picked up his silverware and resumed his meal as if nothing happened.

Like your father said, when you headed out the next morning, you found a tall, handsome male dressed in Hwarang uniform waiting for you on a horse. Another horse without a rider was right beside him. “Miss (Y/N),” the male greeted. “My name is Ji Dwi, and I have been assigned to escort you to the Hwarang House.”

You hurried to climb on the other horse and then looked over to Ji Dwi. He cracked a smile which confused you. “My apologies, Miss (Y/N),” he said, an amused look in his eyes, “you just don’t look all that excited.”

You grinned the most sarcastic smile you could muster. “Better?” Then, you showed an honest laugh. “I’m sure you didn’t imagine a female Hwarang, either, huh? Please just call me (Y/N).”

The two of you whipped the reigns lightly so that your horses could make their way back to Hwarang House. “I think it’ll be interesting to have you,” Ji Dwi replied. “I didn’t imagine there would ever be a lady who was spectacular in fighting. It’s as impossible as the king living in the Hwarang House, disguised as a Hwarang.” He glanced over at you again and shared a playful smile.

It was not long until you reached the home of the Hwarangs and found the chief instructor as well as his assistant instructor waiting on you. Being a gentleman, Ji Dwi helped you off of your horse. “Thank you,” you told him before walking over to the chief instructor.

The chief instructor hummed, observing you. “Why, you must be (Y/N). I am Chief Instructor Wi Hwa. It is our pleasure to have you. Hopefully, you were able to get acquainted with my nephew on your way here.” When he gave you a short bow, you returned a deeper one.

“Ah, Ji Dwi is your nephew? I didn’t know that. I was wondering which family he belonged to as I’ve never met him before.”

“He lived overseas,” the old man affirmed. He then nodded his head over at his nephew, and Ji Dwi headed back into the Hwarang House. The chief instructor then held out his hand in the direction of the building. “I will be happy to show you around and answer any questions you may have, (Y/N).”

You paid attention to the view of your new residence as you listened to the chief instructor guide you through the area. You didn’t spot any other elites around, probably because they were having lessons or something. Beautiful flowers were grown in all of the green grasses, pleasing your eyes. The walls were painted of a rich, bright red and some gold. You soon found out ways to important places such as your own room, the bathhouse (you were assigned a different time from the other Hwarangs, of course), the dining room and the area where the young warriors practiced their fighting skills. It was nice, but you still felt quite uneasy about being here.

“Do you think it is strange,” you said, staring ahead at scenery, “that even though I know how to fight, I don’t want to be a fighter at all?”

Chief Instructor Wi Hwa glanced over at you and then forward, sharing the same view as you. “Your father told me, and I can understand why you’re like that. You probably feel like a pawn in Her Majesty’s hand. Please think of this as another path you have to take in life.” He began to move, and you followed right next to him. “Here, I can guarantee your growth, just like these flowers. Though you seem to agree that women should not be seen fighting, I disagree. Embrace that part of you - your natural combat skills like the earthy soil, your soft, yet intense beauty like the waves of water, and your bright character like the sunlight - and you will be strong enough to stand on your own. Maybe, you’ll even start to discover more of yourself here, among the other Hwarangs.”

Before you knew it, you found yourself inside of the household and in front of the doors. You heard chatters inside, and for some reason, your heart started to pick up more beats per minute. Chief Instructor Wi Hwa opened up the doors, and when eyes turned to him and then you, the room became silent.

The boys bowed, and the chief instructor nodded. You walked behind the old man when he started toward the center of room, walking up the steps to higher platform. You dared not to make eye contact with anyone. Only when the man next to you cleared his throat did you glance up. Handsome men in the same elegant uniforms stared at you, a few in a way different from others. Some were in confusion as if they could not believe you were there, and a few in awe, having heard rumors of your arrival but still could not take your presence in. You recognized a few faces.

“There is someone I would like to introduce you all to…” the chief instructor began.

You spotted Ji Dwi who you met in the morning. He smiled which calmed your heart down a bit. Then, there was Soo Ho. You only ran into him a few times when your father met with his, and the two brought up how both of their children excelled in sword fighting. Also, you’ve seen him when he was dating a few of your friends. He gave you a charming smile, as expected of someone who’s been around a lot of women.

You easily found Yeo Wool. His feminine features caught your eye. You heard about his family from your father, and even found Yeo Wool once at Okta. It was embarrassing for you to admit it, but you quite envied his beauty. He had an amused smile on his face. Right next to him was Han Sung. You knew he didn’t like to fight, so you wondered why he decided to join Hwarang. Maybe it had something to do with him being the last True Bone of his family. There was a twinkle in his eyes, and his mouth was slightly ajar. You couldn’t help but smile at his cute reaction.

“(Y/N) will be joining as the only female Hwarang. It is an executive decision made by the queen and myself. (Y/N) is amazing fighter. Even better than most of you,” Chief Instructor Wi Hwa said, muttering the last part to himself. “We believe that she will be a great addition to Hwarang. As I expect you all to treat each other with respect, getting rid of Silla’s bone rank system in the Hwarang House, I want you all to do the same to Jung Young Sik’s daughter. Understood?”

“Yes!” the boys replied in unison.

“Good.” The chief instructor turned to you. “Please head to the physician’s room. Miss Ah Ro has sewn you a uniform that is similar to theirs. After you’re dressed appropriately, you will return to this room and continue the rest of the day with these boys.”

You turned around and began to head down the stairs when a clear, loud voice spoke up. “Wait.” The short hairs on your arms raised from the chill.

Chief Instructor Wi Hwa responded. “Yes. Ban Ryu.”

Your body rotated to where Ban Ryu stood. You have never spoken to him, only heard about him sometimes from your father. Soo Ho might have mentioned once to stay away from Ban Ryu. You were very aware of their rivalry. His face was striking, but at the same time quite intimidating. You had a bad feeling about his next words.

“I don’t believe that she should be here. She doesn’t belong in the Hwarang House. It is a disgrace.”

I don’t know about disgrace… You frowned.

“You said it yourself Chief Instructor, Wi Hwa, that you wanted to form Hwarang with the capital’s greatest male elites. She is a woman. If she is the daughter of an official, then she should be taking on duties of a woman, preparing for marriage. Furthermore, if you accept her, it will be unfair as we already had the ceremony. What if the officials whose son didn’t make it get upset?” Ban Ryu glanced in your direction, a dirty look. “It’ll be all her fault.”

The Fair Folk 1/2

(More Oviposition, but please NO tentacles or snakes. Maybe somethin with magical orbs or similar to the sharkboy story?)

Your family had a secret, one hidden under threat of lock and key. At a tender young age, your parents told you something both wonderful and terrifying;

“Long ago, our village was under siege by a band of Fair Folk. They ravaged our homes, destroyed our crops, and violated the townsfolk in a hedonistic orgy of gluttony. This went on for several horrible years until a young girl made a bargain with the leader of the Fair Folk - they were to leave our village alone, and in exchange they could have their choice of sacrifices every ten years.”

“The Fair Folk assented. They withdrew, and we were allowed to rebuild ourselves and heal from the slaughter. But we had to keep our end of the bargain for the protection of all. One day, a boy gained a mysterious scar across his face in the shape of a rune, seemingly out of nowhere. The girl knew that this boy had been chosen as the Fair Folk’s sacrifice, so the villagers led him into the forest where he was never found again.”

“And this trend continued for at least a century. Until one day, modern people from the city came and brought their religion with them. And through their careful influence, the threat of the Fair Folk were lost amongst all but a few of the village, even if it still rang true. The few who still remembered tried to convince the others about the danger of the Fair Folk, and our debt to them, but they were never again taken seriously, sometimes prosecuted for claiming otherwise.”

“Our family is the only family to retain the pact. And it is our solemn duty to see it through, every ten years. We keep an eye out for anybody with a scar in the shape of a rune, and we lead them into the forest to be taken by the Fair Folk. That is what you’ll need to do, when you become of age.”

Ever since your parents told you of the bloody secret of the village, you kept a close eye out for any scarred faces amongst your neighbors and peers. According to your father, the time has not yet come. But a part of you secretly wished to experience these mysterious Fair Folk, and witness their supernatural presence.

Before too long, the time finally came for a sacrifice to be chosen. It was a few days after your 20th birthday, and you were having a celebratory picnic with your friends when you noticed Gweneth had a large, arrow-shaped branding that stretched from her jaw to near her nose.
“How’d you get that, Gwen?”

“Oh, this?” Gweneth scratched at the rawness absent-mindedly. “I woke up this morning with it. I must have scratched myself in my sleep.” And you made nothing more of the matter.

That evening, you told your parents about Gweneth’s fate, and they presented you with a bottle of a creamy, light-purple substance.

“A powerful drug,” your mother explained. “You’re Gweneth’s closest friend, so it’d be easiest for you to slip this into her food. After she’s unconscious, take her into the far glen, near the mushroom ring, and leave her.”

And so you did; the next day, you met Gweneth for a cup of tea, and when she was preoccupied, slipped a dallop of the drug into her cup. Within seconds, her eyes grew half-lidded and her speech was slurred.

You prodded her reaction. “Are you alright, Gwen?”

Gweneth gazed blankly at the middle of your chest, staring at nothing. She gave a small smile. “Alright? I’m perfect. I feel perfect.”

And with a gusty sigh, she threw her head back and slumped, suddenly asleep.

It was a minor struggle to cart her over to the edge of town without drawing suspicion, but you managed to follow through and lay her slumbering form within the confines of the mushroom ring. You also tied her hands to a nearby log for greater measure.

Your job done, you left, knowing that the village had been saved for the next ten years.

Even if a part of you dearly wished to stay, and witness the Fairies take your friend away forever.

But that night, you awoke to violent banging upon the front door. Running downstairs, you saw your father throw it open, but everyone fell silent at the empty doorstep. Suddenly, all the iron pots and clay flatware of the kitchen burst from the cupboards and smashed onto the floor with a mighty ruckus, the living room dining table floated inches above the floor and into the nearby wall, and the hallway grandfather clock clanged supernaturally loudly.

At the twelfth clang of the clock, an inky black shadow sprouted from the ground, right outside the door, reaching perhaps twelve feet in height and towering over your father. He gasped in horror, and fell upon his backside while your mother screamed. The shadow morphed into a dazzling figure with pale skin and black hair that pooled at its feet. Its face looked both divine and unholy, like an elf from legend turned goblin, or imp.

It was a Fair Folk. A Little People. A source of terrible evil and mischief.

And it was here, in the village. Where it should not be.

You instantly realized that something was terribly wrong. But for all you knew, the sacrifice had gone according to plan - you had left Gweneth in the right place, tied her up nicely, done all the usual things as your parents had taught you. But it obviously wasn’t enough.

The Fairy raised one unnaturally-long arm and pointed directly at you. Its voice rang throughout the house like from the bottom of a well, “You’ve made a mistake.”

Clearly you have, but you didn’t know what.

Upon your mother’s gasp, however, you began to realize - she was looking right at you, and her gaze spoke of a horror beyond the terrifying figure on your doorstep. On instinct, you raised a hand to where she directed her gaze, and felt the unfamiliar texture of raised skin upon your cheek that certainly wasn’t there before.

It was a rune. You were the one that was chosen, not Gweneth.

Gweneth’s scar must have been an honest one, you realized. And thinking back, it was clear that the scar was too long and imperfect to look like the runes in your father’s sketchbook. Your scar, however, you could feel it carved with purpose and a steady hand. From the shape, it was something like a spiky ‘B’, and you knew it was a letter that could be taken to symbolize ‘purity’.

You knew what you needed to do. With shaking steps, you approached the Fairy.

“NO!” Your father cried.

“The pact has been recognized by your brood, and if honored, we will not swoop upon the people tonight. Unless you wish to withdraw your hand?” The Fairy asked your father, and you couldn’t help but shiver at its oily tone.
Both of your parents fell silent. There was no choice, if you refused, everyone would suffer. You had to go with the Fairy.

As soon as you stepped outside the door, the Fairy gave a sharp grin, showing perfect, white teeth. One iron-strong hand grabbed at your shoulder, while another clamped itself over your mouth. You didn’t even get a chance to struggle before darkness took over and you fell unconscious.

When you awoke, it was to a strange pale light above you, and a flowery scent in the air. You shifted and groaned, an unnatural sleepiness still clouding your brain. You sat up to relieve it faster, and to gain your bearings.
Around you was darkness, and you lay in a circle of light that streamed in through a hole in the ceiling. The surface underneath was soft and springy, and a blanket had been placed over you while you slept. The walls appeared to be wood, and built in a circular rotunda.

You were inside of a hollowed tree trunk, you realized. The softness underneath you was in fact moss, and the blanket that covered you was a sweet-smelling pink thing that must be a flower petal. Whether this meant you had shrunken, or were currently in a world with giant flowers and trees, you didn’t know.

There were no openings in the trunk other than the hole several feet above you. And nobody else apart from you. You could hear the chirpings of birds, and the rustle of leaves echo from the opening above, but no voices, or footsteps around.

You sat up, and realized with a start that your clothes had been removed, leaving you bare skinned. You quickly grabbed the large pink flower petal, and wrapped it best you could around your torso.

You called to the opening above. “Hello?”

There was no answer for a few seconds, but a pointed face eventually revealed itself over the edge.

“Hello!” It shouted back.

It wasn’t the same figure that kidnapped you from your home. This one had shorter hair, and bigger eyes, but it supported a similar, sharp smile, lined with pointed fangs.

You shouted again to the Fairy, “Where am I? And what do you plan to do with me?”

“What do you plan to do?” The Fairy shouted in response, still smiling.
You fell silent. Would this Fairy only repeat your own words? It’d make things a lot less convenient.

Fairies are strange creatures, you decided.

The echoing Fairy jumped down the hole with a graceful leap, and landed noiselessly upon the soft moss. It was nude, and featureless, with a flat chest and nothing between its long legs but a strange lip-like nub, like something had been tucked away within it. It had no bellybutton or nipples, only that soft nub in the middle of its pelvis.

You backed up, wary and nervous. No one has ever returned from the Fair Folk, so you can only imagine what they had in mind for you. Going by what your parents had said of the horrors inflicted upon the original villagers of centuries before, there was no ending of possibilities for a painful future, and a painful end.

The Fairy certainly looked capable of force, if it was driven to. Although it was a slim figure, it stood several inches taller and had long, spindly fingers that looked brittle, like metal hooks. Perhaps it was hungry, and was preparing to make you its next meal.

It turned its predatory gaze upon you, and started to inch closer, its posture stooped and menacing.

“Stay away.” You managed to say.

The Fairy only grinned wider. From a wrapped satchel on its back, it retrieved a handful of something soft; light purple flowers, with a color similar to the cream you had been given to drug Gweneth. Seems like years ago, now. The Fairy crushed the flowers within its palm, making them crinkled and slightly moist.

With a quick pounce like a spider, it grabbed the back of your head and slammed its hand into your face, and the momentum forced the flowers within your mouth. You cried out and tried to pull away, but the Fairy was too fast. Before you could properly grasp the situation, the flowers were sitting upon your tongue, tasting strangely warm and sweet.

The Fairy immediately forced your chin back and used its other hand to press hard upon your throat with a thumb, and the pressure made you gulp on reflex. All but a few metals remained in your mouth, and when the Fairy finally released you, you wrenched yourself away and spat them out violently.
You hoped with all your might that they weren’t poisonous. The Fairy simply continued to stare at you with its vicious grin as you wretched and coughed. As you moved, the petal wrapped around your bare body slipped and fell from your grip.

You eventually began to settle down, and as you were catching your breath, you noticed that the Fairy was still staring at you, as if waiting for something. You tried to cover yourself with your hands and shield yourself from its gaze. But it wasn’t looking at your nudity, and instead at your face.

Suddenly, a bubble of warmth blossomed from within your lower stomach, quickly traveling throughout your chest and extremities, up your cheeks, and into your brain, fogging any complex thought. Following the warmth was an intense wave of happiness, the likes of which you’ve never felt before, like pure unadulterated joy and contentment spreading across your mind and body. Your eyes grew misty and weak, and you felt your body relax muscle by muscle as you slowly sunk back to the ground. You couldn’t help but allow a small, contented smile grace your lips.

There you knelt, riding out the waves of happiness that washed over you like warm sun rays. You no longer cared about the Fairy watching you. You didn’t seem to care about anything, anymore. All your existence was rendered so unimportant and simple compared to the contentment that bathed you.
Through the haze, you realized that the purple flowers must have this effect upon the victim. The drug you gave Gweneth were probably a constructed form of this very effect, distilled from the flowers themselves.

Gweneth probably experienced this same ecstasy before passing out. As you recall, she had worn a similar smile of pleasure even after she was unconscious.

But unlike Gweneth, you didn’t fall asleep. Instead, you remained awake, still lost in the joy and uncaring about the Fairy who simply turned back and clambered up the tree trunk and through the opening once more. And there you were left.

It might have been many hours since you next saw company, but you were much too drugged to be sure. The echoing Fairy was back, followed by a large group of other Fair Folk who all leapt down to meet you upon the moss. By that point, you were lying on your back and sighing periodically in happiness, still smiling and eyes half-lidded.

They conversed amongst themselves in a high-pitched, syllabic language that sounded like music. It was beautiful to your ears.

Everything seemed beautiful and perfect, now. Simply the moss against your bare skin made you let out loud moans from the novel sensation.

One Fairy reached down to peel apart your eyelids and examine your pupils closely. It continued to reach down and squeeze a nipple, massage your stomach, and eventually made its way to your groin, where it pried apart your opening and looked inside with interest.

Its attention made you grin unabashedly, and you could feel yourself get warmer from its long, cool fingers. It continued to gently examine and prod you, awakening a drive; you weren’t capable of complex lines of thought anymore, but you still instinctively craved for one of those long fingers to explore deeper within your hole.

More chattering, and you watched as two Fairies crowded around another and began to gently stroke upon the lip-like nud of a third one using their hands. The attention seemed to stimulate the Fairy, who began to tremble upon their feet and let out strange keening noises, its mouth open and showing its sharp maw. Some other Fairies were busy rummaging through cloth satchels, while the rest continued to examine your nude body.

The Fairy being patted eventually revealed a slimy, puckered protrusion from the tucked lip, perhaps a couple inches in length, like an oversized nipple. The Fairy swatted the others away and held its own two fingers around the loose skin of the nub, while the other hand fished a finger within the hole near the tip. The intrusion made it moan, but it poked and dug earnestly, the nipple-like appendage dripping more clear slime.

You continued to watch with clouded interest. The Fairies nearby were currently stretching your inner walls with what felt like sticks, holding them open for a few seconds before re-arranging the sticks to stretch the adjacent sides. The Fairy busy prodding itself eventually let out a string of high-pitched shrieks and began to buck its pelvis forward as it removed what seemed to be a single, small pearl from within the appendage. It panted slightly as it raised the pearl to its eye, turning it this way and that, examining it closely.

Within seconds, the small pearl began to smoke, and it quickly dissolved into white dust. But the Fairy didn’t seem discouraged, and instead turned to talk with the ones currently stretching you. A few words were exchanged, and apparently a consensus was reached - leaving the sticks still within you, the group of Fair Folk surrounded you with purpose.

Groups were formed amongst them, while one crouched down and remained between your legs. The other Fairies all began either stimulating themselves, or others, each gently petting at the tucked lips upon the groin. Some were touching themselves, their hands in a flurry while they squat and bucked uncontrollably, while others were exchanging strokes with the Fairy next to them in a train of hands.

The sensation of repeated pressure upon their nubs seemed to be very intense, whether in pleasure or pain, or a mixture of both, you couldn’t tell. One after another, they all revealed the nipple-like appendage that slipped from the skin, dripping with mucus. The hollowed tree trunk was filled with high-pitched, animal-like cries and shrieks as the Fairies began to puncture themselves in search of more those strange, small pearl-like things that were hidden deep within.

You lay there, barely lucid from the drugged flowers, surrounded by a wall of shaking legs and dripping groins. Eventually, one managed a pearl, and immediately handed it to the Fairy between your thighs who wasted no time in reaching deep within your opening and placing it there, making sure the pearl didn’t smoke and dissolve away. The pearl was small and wet enough to rest on the tip of its finger, which dove upwards into your body and stuck the pearl firmly upon your inner walls, where it sat.

“Ohh!!” The sudden penetration of the Fairy’s finger was surprisingly intense to your drugged body. Again, another Fairy produced a pearl, and again the finger dove within to plant it. More and more pearls followed, each inserted within your flesh like stickers upon a wall, the applicating Fairy creating rows and rows of pearls as if it were sewing a delicate embroidery.

The repeated friction of the Fairy’s finger, along with the supernatural orgy surrounding you and the drugged happiness still rolling in waves throughout your body eventually took you over the edge. You let out a joyous cry that mingled with the Fairy’s chittering as the pleasure in your body increased to truly impressive levels, lighting the surface of your skin with divine glow.

The Fairies continued to plant rows upon rows of pearls within you, until eventually they reached the opening and couldn’t fit anymore pearls. You could feel them, if you clenched gently, the layer of pearls dotting all throughout your inner walls like jewels. The surrounding Fairies seemed exhausted from their effort to produce the pearls, panting with open mouths like dogs.

But they seemed satisfied. They eventually turned to leave, and the Fairy between your thighs removed the sticks and allowed your pelvis to rest. You could feel the clink of the pearls as your muscles were allowed to relax.
Before the last Fairy left, it pried open your lips and inserted more purple flowers into your mouth, which you chewed and swallowed without hesitation. And with that, it left with the others, and you were alone once again.

You were tired yourself, from the whole ordeal, and closed your eyes to sleep.

When you awoke once more, the drugs still held their effects. As you shifted yourself, you could feel that the pearls had grown in size, from small rhinestones to larger bulbs. You sat up, and immediately moaned when the fullness of the grown pearls stretched and rubbed upon the walls within you.

In your half-conscious state, every physical sensation was multiplied in intensity. You felt so filled and stretched by the pearls, and every shift of your hips seemed to rub them deliciously together in a decadent sensation. You writhed, crying out in pleasure, legs kicking and your head tossing from side to side.

Within minutes, the pleasure plateaued, and you arched your back as you moaned loudly, and you could feel yourself squirt slightly involuntarily. The repeated clenching of your pussy as you came clinked the pearls together in quiet, metallic rings.

As you rode out the pleasure, you felt the inner pearls travel from your slick pussy into your relaxed cervix from the momentum of your climax. As every wave came and went, more and more pearls slipped deeper within your body, and you knew that they came to rest within your uterus.

When you finally came down, still many pearls were attached to the inner walls, and you began to rock yourself again to stimulate further. Through this process, you came several times in succession, and eventually all the pearls came to penetrate you.

The adventure in pleasure was too much for your body, and you slipped into unconsciousness once more.

(To be continued)

4

James/Thomas Appreciation Week:

Day 4Headcanons 

You were saying something about your judgement on this matter remaining intact. […] That thing which arises in your when passions are aroused, good sense escapes you. All men have it. But yours… yours is different. Darker. Wilder. I imagine it’s what makes you so effective as an officer, but when exposed to extremes, I could not imagine what it is capable of. And of greater concern, I’m not sure you do either.

Keep reading

RP connections thingy

Full Name: Sasha Elizabeth Rochester
Race: Midlander Hyur
Sex: Female
Occupation: Scholar, Researcher, Alchemist, Independent Mage.

Personality type (laid back, militant, high strung, etc):

quipped with smooth words, a disarming smile, and a keen eye for what she can use to her benefit, she sees the world as her playground for lies and deception. Her demeanor is pleasant and charming, always keeping a friendly though somewhat distant disposition. Seductive, provocative and perhaps a little cheeky, she takes pleasure from keeping others off-balance.

To those she can benefit from, this mask will be kept almost permanently plastered on her face, always willing to please and seduce. Analytical to the core, she will inspect and morph into what she believes others expect her to be, from the foolish, harmless damsel in distress, to the cunning archmage. Give her a stage she desires and she will put on a show. To her, all truths are malleable and easily bent, words are nothing but child’s play. People she considers fools or threatening will see another side of her, however. And they will soon discover that the coy smile bears sharp teeth and a sharper tongue. While she doesn’t seek to harm, her patience is often limited towards those she deems incompetent, and her sweet words will turn into bitter sarcasm and condescending arrogance.

Due to a distaste towards violence, she has a strong inclination towards battles of wit when facing conflict. Sasha also implements under-handed tactics, and more than anything, persuasion. She sees fists and blades as the arms of savages, and will frown upon those who see them as their first resort.

Despite her seemingly refined demeanor, she can be quite reckless and childish in her pursuit of magical power, having an absolute fascination for aetherial phenomena. She doesn’t care that aether harms her. So long as she can feel the rush of magic surging through her veins, she will always be motivated to look for more. Due to her aetherial sensitivity, her obsession with magic has proven many times to be highly detrimental to her condition. She stubbornly insists on continuing to push herself further and further, caring not for the consequences.

Manipulative, self-destructive, scheming, secretive, and distrustful, it’s easy to portray her under a negative light when people discover that part of her nature, but in her eyes, her tactics are nothing but a shell that protects her from a harsh, ruthless world. With few enemies and even fewer friends, she feels deep affection and loyalty towards those who choose to stand by her side, even after witnessing the best and worst of her.

What does your character look like?:

Face
Sasha has a very pale, clear complexion. She has a white birth mark on her left cheekbone, but no blemishes besides that. In a way, she looks like a porcelain doll. Her eyes are large, framed by thick, dark eyelashes. Colour-wise, they are what one would call a ‘forest green’, Green with a yellower undertone than blue. Her features could be described as delicate and femenine, with a thin nose, rounded, high cheekbones, and plump lips. Her face is relatively long, with a small chin and jaw. I would say her face is heart-shaped, and yes, her hairline does have a small widow’s peak. 

Body
Her body, much like her face, is diligently cared for. Her waistline would be like the classical femenine hourglass. She’s considered somewhat busty, but not as much as some of her friends. Her hips are proportional to this. She’s fairly slender, but lacks any good muscle definition save for her lower torso and legs. Her arms are likely a lost cause. I’d say her frame is medium to small. She also has the ‘dimples of venus’ on her lower back. 

Favorite hobby:

  • Magic 
  • Alchemy
  • Reading
  • Forming Connections

Motto they live by:

“ Never attempt to win by force what can be won by deception.”

Favorite type of environment:

She is very fond of the night–Particularily near the sea or the ocean. She also enjoys places that she considers lively bastions of civilization, like Ul’dah. Otherwise, give her a warm, starry night, a candle, and some books. 

Friends/Allies:

(I can’t write down all her connections because I will murder my fingers that way. I will name her closest allies, or those she has had for the longest time. Excluding X’elo from this one)

Edda Eglatine (@lodsamone) Edda is someone she finds deightfully entertaining and disarming, despite the fact Edda herself is played as a very awkward, uptight character. Sasha sees a kindred spirit in what she could have been, and seeks to break Edda’s uptight and timid exterior. 
Lorentz Rivers (@andarion) He put up with so much of her shit and still protects her. He also isn’t scared to knock her out when she’s being irrational or violent. I guess he’s O.K. OOC, kind of a loser nerd. 
Issabel Drake (@twelvesavethequeen) There’s a friendly competition between both of them. Sasha genuinely find her company charming and enjoyable, albeit vexxing at times. There are too many things they share in common for her not to constantly compare herself to Issabel. 
Gogonji Gegenji (@gegenji) She cares about this man as much as she admires him. In a way, she sees Gogonji as a mentor. She values his counsel and input more than any other of her allies or friends. 
Miziutte Zuiremand (@themizyin) Though their interactions are limited, she genuinely cares about Miziutte and truly wants to establish a healthy, lasting friendship with her. In a way, despite their different backgrounds, she sees a kindred spirit in academic pursuit. 

Who they admire:

Her grandmother (Caroline Chamberlain), though she admittedly does it because she idolizes her. Sasha admires Caroline as much as she fears and distrusts her. Their relationship is somewhat toxic and abusive, as they both idealize each other to the point of an unhealthy obsession to meet each other’s expectations.

What do they hope to do 10 years from now?:

Take over the world and let there be a dominion of the uncontrollable power of aeth–Okay, no. Just kidding. She hopes to become a renowned and respected archmage and scholar. Her ultimate goal is to be the kind of mage people write legends about, to her, that’s the only way she can truly honor her bloodline. She hates the fact her ancestors are so much greater than her, so she truly hopes she one day will surpass them.

Are they single? If not, who is their spouse/partner/life mate?:

 Happily married to X’elo Maimhov.

What do they look for in friends?:

People she can use. No, seriously. People she can use. 

If they walked into a bar and saw a talking slug, what would their reaction be?:

Be disgusted and fascinated. Would likely observe it for quite a long time. If the talking slug was somewhat intelligent, she may try to carry a conversation, but again, she may be utterly repulsed by the idea.

OOC:

Usual Playtime: 6-7 p.m. EST

Server: Balmung

FC/Guild: <<Thorn>>

Looking for (friends, ships, hate ships, shady connections, etc.):

EVERYTHING. All of it. You want to stab her? Go ahead. 

RP Hooks:

If you’re from Sharlayan:
Sasha’s grandmother, Caroline Chamberlain, is a well-known professor and scholar who is native to Sharlayan. She doesn’t travel outside the city state much, but she certainly has a lot of connections within. It’s not difficult for me to set something up from this angle.

If you’re from Ul’dah: She does not have a terribly good reputation, but hey! She’s known for being rich! And manipulative. And dishonest. Also, people die around her a lot, especially people who are inconvenient to her. But hey! Money! Also she spends like 90% of her time in Ul’dah. 

If you’re in The Shroud: She travels to the Shroud a lot, mainly for research and alchemical ingredients. Usually goes with a bodyguard, but may go alone if she’s in a bad/incompetent mood. Aether there fucks her up.

If you’re a Mage in any city-state: Sasha loooooves fellow mages. She has a record of academic excellence and is seen as competent in most, if not all forms of magic available to the Eorzean general public. Any magic is a common ground for her.

If you have connections to the Ul’dahn or Lominsan criminal underground: Sasha’s former husband, Stefan Delumiere, used to have a big influence on the criminal underworld up until he dissappeared. He mainly dealt with the black market for “alternative medicine” (If you know what I mean). He was also known as a lying, scheming, criminal piece of shit. A complete con-man. The chances of him marrying her for the money are high.

If your character is a Noble of any sorts (or stupidly rich): Sasha is a very socially aware character, so if your character comes from a wealthy family like her own, chances are, she has heard about them. There’s also a high possibility that there are pre-existing relations between her family and your character’s own. This can be settled OOC. 

If you’re an Alchemist: She is often found in the Alchemist’s guild, but if not, she is more than open to people who share her love for Alchemy.

If you’re a scholar: Same as Alchemist. She appreciates people she can have a common ground with. 

Sasha should be back in the RP Scene next month, after a 6 month hiatus to Sharlayan. 

List of LISA AU’s (Updated)

Brad: The Painful RPG: Brad and Lisa switch roles, and Marty dies instead of his wife. The flash kills all the men.

Office: Everyone’s a worker at Joy corp.

Dog: Everyone’s a dog.

Fairy Terry:  Terry is a tiny hint fairy that follows brad around, like navi from Zelda.

Animal: Everyone is an animal (fly is a fly, Buff Van Dyke is a buffalo,Geese is a goose etc.)

Magical Girl’s: Everyone’s a magical girl in a cute dress, like Sailor Moon.

Wrestling Plot: The whole game is a wrestling plot.

Medieval:  Brad is the king of Olathe and Buddy is the princess. Terry is the royal adviser.

Warlord Brad:  AU where Brad is a warlord and his gang are his soldiers. Dusty is just a regular person living in Olathe when one day he finds Buddy. He keeps trying to give Buddy to Brad, but Brad doesn’t recognize Dusty and brushes him off, to comical effect.

Monster Hybrid’s: Everyone is a demi human creature.

Suburban: Everyone is happy and lives in a nice suburban neighborhood.

Vengeful Lisa: Lisa switches places with Buzzo.

Beautiful: Instead of Buddy and Brad hiding away from everyone, Buddy and Brad are on the run from degenerates, perverts, and criminals trying to get their hands on Buddy.

Frozen Olathe:  AU where instead of the white flash turning Olathe into a dry desert, it turns it into a frigid, Arctic terrain.

Fantasy: Yado is an evil sorcerer, Rando’s gang is basically a travelling group of adventurers trying to help everyone after the world tore itself open and mashed itself together again. Big lincoln is a badass he doesn’t fight wearing armor and Terry Hintz is a bard.

Underjoy: Buddy takes Frisk’s place in Undertale

Painverse: Ruby and Sapphire from Steven Universe end up in Olathe and join Brad on his adventures.

ROSE: The Painful RPG: LISA’s characters are replaced with characters from Steven Universe. Greg is Brad, Pearl is Buzzo, Rose is Lisa, and Connie is Buddy. 

LISA: P.T.: An AU of LISA Where you Play as Brad exploring Marty’s deserted house while the ghost of LISA Armstrong pursues you.

LISA: Shattered Memories: Lisa survived her childhood because Brad actually tried to defend Her from Marty instead of running away. But Marty accidentally killed Brad one day. Marty was sent to jail and LISA ended up in foster care. Years later, a 20 year old Lisa goes to see a therapist, Dr. Yado, for help with her delusions about her brother. You then wake up as kid Brad in Marty’s house and set off to find Lisa, unaware that you’re already dead.

LISA The Painless: the Flash never happens and Marty is a supportive, good dad. Buzzo and Lisa are both students of Brad’s karate class. Throughout the game, you find other party members and recruit them by solving their problems (e.g. helping Olan beat his alcoholism, helping a young Jack learn magic, finding a good home for all of Yazan’s stray cats.)

Joy Rando: An AU where Buddy can’t defend for herself and Rando took Joy, they desperately scout the land for a cure before Rando turns completely.

Hogwarts: Everyone’s a student at Hogwarts. 

Zombie Apocalypse: Actually, there’s no zombies, joy mutant’s will serve for the zombies. Lisa ran away with Buzzo instead of committing suicide. Brad made his house into a fortress with his friends, Rick, Sticky and Cheeks, and adopted Buddy. Buddy runs away when joy mutants intrude into their house. Rando and Brad don’t meet, Rando trained himself. Females are still around, so Buddy is not rare. Some warlords lead gangs but some don’t. Lisa and Buzzo still have bitter feelings toward Brad, and they like wandering, so it’s hard to be managed. 

Rando and Buzzo Role Reversal: Buzzo was the peace bringer and Rando was the one stalking and torturing Brad. Buzzo destroyed Brad’s dojo and cut off Rando’s face, Rando went insane. He followed Brad because he was obsessed with making him love him. He was jealous of Buddy and hurt her to get at Brad. Buzzo became horrified by what he had done and vowed to honor Lisa in a better way, while also redeeming himself. He helped the downtrodden and mistreated people of Olathe so that no would would end up like Lisa.

Very Terry: AU where everyone is Terry Hintz.

Pirate: AU where everyone’s a pirate. 

LISA: The Regretful:   You play as Marty on a trip to get some cheap beer. However, a Joy prototype has been released to the local drug cartels (against Dr. Yado’s knowledge and will) and it has swiftly consumes the local market. As Marty goes and grabs beer the shop keep mutates initating the first fight. Now Marty has to relearn how to fight, get sober or die, and hopefully change his ways as he tries to find Brad and Lisa and escape.

Rando: The Heartful:  AU where you play as Rando in the early days of the Flash. No longer working under a higher power, the police become corrupted and swiftly use their greater weaponry to dominate and abuse the people of Olathe. Rando teams up with the warlords who would wind up on The List in their early days and their deeds cement themselves as the strongest in Olathe.

 Dating Sim AU:  A dating sim for the LISA: The Painless AU, where you can also date the party members and help solve their problems.

LISA The Bizarre AU: It’s a game taking place within the LISA setting combines the uses of stands within the game. Nothing much has changed but people have stands that they developed through the flash, plus it is a mini-game to figure out what the enemy stand does to fight back against it. Adds more strategy and problem solving to the game while giving it a rather bizarre® mood to it.

LISA: The Irredeemable: A LISA AU where the accident or illness that kills Marty’s wife also kills Brad and Lisa leaving Marty with no one to abuse or take out his frustrations on. This causes him to slowly but surely lose his mind due to having no one in his life and having to hold all his problems inside. After the flash he lives all alone as a sad pathetic creature and everyone else treats him like shit and steals his stuff on a regular basis because he’s just a weak old man at this point. He also starts taking Joy and has hallucinations where his dead family tortures him and viciously berates him for the monster he is. The main theme is redemption, or more specifically, if redemption is even possible for some people. Depending on the players actions, Marty may or may not become a better person, but even if he does he still can’t ever make up for what he’s done.

Possessed Buddy AU: AU where Buddy gets possessed by the spirit of Lisa after visiting her coffin in the Joy labs. But she isn’t fully possessed. Instead, Buddy fights with Lisa over control of her own body and Lisa goads Buddy into doing worse and worse things. Just imagine Buddy yelling and screaming at some invisible person while Rando and Buzzo are confused as all hell. It doesn’t even have to be during Joyful. It could be during Buddy’s childhood in Painful. Imagine how differently she would act around Brad and Marty knowing what they’d done in the past because of Lisa telling her. “No, I know what you really are. She told me so.” Imagine that scene when Brad gets knocked out and Buzzo force feeds him Joy. Buddy is just sitting there and says “I know who you are, and I know why you’re doing this.” Buzzo doesn’t take it seriously and goes “Really now? Then tell me why I’m doing this.” And she just quietly says “You’re doing this for Lisa, and she says you’re not doing a very good job.” Both Buzzo and Brad are staring at her with their mouths wide open. She probably wouldn’t care about being important to the world or being free either because of Lisa’s influence.

Betta Harvey AU: AU where Harvey is a Betta fish. 

LISA: The Survivor AU:  a LISA AU where lisa survives and brad dies and some other things are different too, there’s a lotta things that make the olathe of the Survivor AU significantly different from the olathe of canon. There’s both women and men in olathe now but still no chances at reproduction since any adult with a chance of being assaulted under the excuse of repopulation mutilated themselves as a form of protection. there might still be possible childbearers out there but they’re essentially cryptids Men and women tend to settle apart from each other, though groups or gangs with both aren’t uncommon. In the place in time where her suicide would be in canon, lisa instead ran away from home for good and lived with bernard. The red skull incident still happened and was the tipping point for brad, who killed himself soon after. Lisa broke up with bernard after brad’s suicide and bernard has trying to win her back and show her he’s a good person ever since (she’s not having any of it,) In post-Flash olathe. bernard has attempted to reform civilization in central olathe and he forces all his people to wear shirts which is sort of admirable. After the red skull incident dusty was homeless again until he found a nearby office building and begged the boss to give him a job there. That boss was dr. yado and he took dusty in as his personal assistant. dusty admires yado greatly and sees him as sort of a new dad?? yado knows this and uses it to exploit dusty, conditioning him into the ideal submissive servant and then experimenting on him. This left dusty with spinal deformations, chronic pain, and a partial joy mutation, but on the plus (???) side he’s resistant to fully mutating. which is good at least because he takes joy for his pain. Lisa is incredibly protective of viviana around other people, to the point of killing others on occasion should they wander too close. viv is very scared of her mother and averse to bloodshed, to the point where being stuck with lisa upsets her so much that she flees to try to get to central olathe, which is where she heard a man named bernard has been reforming civilization. Lisa has ice powers for combat and one of her signature moves is the Cold Shoulder

Beyond Broken Buzzo AU: An AU where Yado is Bernard’s biological or foster father? You know what, I’ll expand on this little idea and make it bigger. Yado in this universe has a change of heart after seeing a downtrodden and miserable looking child on the streets while on business in the city. Yado stops and asks the boy “What’s a kid like you doing in a place like this?” Bernard just shrugs and says “Failed another grade at school and my parents didn’t want to deal with me anymore, were going to send me off to a military academy, so I ran.” Yado then feels a connection to this child squatting in a box in an alley. Yado himself lived with cold and distant parents who were gone most of his childhood, yet felt that they could comment and direct his life, so Yado too ran away. Yado, in what to him seemed like insanity, decides to adopt Bernard, and Bernard not wanting to go home and not wanting to stay in his cardboard box reluctantly agrees. It goes far better than either expects, and they end up bringing the best out of each other, all the while having the brightest and happiest years in either of their lives. Because of this new found purpose in life, Yado loses interest in his Joy Project and soon hands over control of it to a lab assistant. That assistant is Marty Armstrong. Don’t worry, Marty is still the same bastard in this universe, he’s just a genius on top of all that. Marty then continues the Joy Project and as a precaution hires someone as his muscle, Chris Columbo. Yado visits the labs one day and finds himself horrified at the products of Marty’s experiments. Yado then tries to stop Marty, but Marty is one step ahead, and Columbo pulls out a gun and shoots Yado, Yado get’s hit in the chest and slowly bleeds out on the floor. Marty then says “Clean this up kid.” Buzzo is devastated when Yado fails to come home for days. He then finds himself living on the streets yet again, while getting involved with Lisa as more of a coping mechanism in this universe. Although he still falls in love with her and ends up maiming her as well. Buzzo is completely destroyed as a result, and is even more violent and crazy. He doesn’t just wreck the dojo and scar Rando, he also sets the place on fire and Rando ends up with scars all over his body, Rando ends up having to cover his whole body not just his face. Buzzo vows to not just torture Brad, but kill him and Marty as slowly and painfully as possible. Buzzo doesn’t have a gang here, he just has animals and mutants that he forces to follow him, Buzzo himself is also covered in blood constantly and has piercing covering his entire body.

LISA: The Spaceful RPG: LISA AU where everything’s the same, but the games now take place in a science fiction outer space setting with aliens and stuff.  

Opposite Day AU: AU where it’s opposite day and everything is inversed.

Noir AU: AU where brad is a hardboiled detective with terry as his hintful assistant. 

The Reset Blues LISA AU: A LISA AU where some of the main characters like Buzzo, Brad, Buddy, and Rando get a vague or strong feeling of déjà vu whenever the player loads a save or restarts the game after finishing it? Brad and Buddy have memories of dying or other horrible things happening to them, Buzzo starts to get the impression that something else besides Joy is controlling Brad and starts calling the invisible entity out, and Rando struggles to keep on hoping when he already know how the events of the game will play out and is powerless to stop it.

The Last of LISA AU: AU where the flash doesn’t happen or work out, but Joy is a disease/infection instead of a drug, which is spread by cuts or contact with fluids etc. Everyone lives in small gated communities, protected by either the army or gangs led by warlords. Joy Mutants are a lot more dangerous and common. Brad travels with Buddy, the only girl immune to Joy, to give her to Rando’s firefly like group to make a cure. When Joy broke out initially, Brad ran away with Lisa after Marty got attacked by an infected person. Just like The Last of Us, Lisa gets killed by some army dude or whatever. But don’t worry, most people in this AU are still awful. Buzzo still follows Brad, but his more like David now. Yado is still just working in the background. The party members are just random survivors.

It’s time to reveal the winners of the Everyday Hero contest we ran in North America earlier this year! The contest asked you to submit a picture and accompanying background information of your very own Everyday Hero, with the first place finalist securing a $10,000 scholarship fund provided by our Everyday Hero Scholarship Fund.

We were absolutely blown away by the amount of amazing entries we received, and were incredibly touched by the many different everyday heroes that were nominated. Many heroes were highlighted for their efforts in their respective workplaces, often for going above and beyond the call of duty or perhaps simply for fulfilling vital but often overlooked roles in today’s society. We saw family members be nominated for their inspiring life stories in the face of, in some cases life threatening, adversities. It was also fantastic to see so many people be nominated for both the great and little things they do in everyday life, their contributions to making the world a better place each and every day. This contest truly demonstrated that there is no one single definition of an everyday hero and that such amazing individuals can come in all shapes and sizes and from all walks of life.

Given the staggering amount of high quality entries, we decided to take a little more time than initially expected to thoroughly work through each and every entry and we really do appreciate your patience over the past few weeks. It was a difficult task picking out the finalists, but we ultimately settled on three submissions… so, without further ado, here are finalists of the Everyday Heroes Scholarship Fund 2016 contest!

First Place and winner of the Everyday Heroes Scholarship Fund 2016 contest:

Everyday Heroes! - Alex L. (Winner)

It was pouring rain! The Austrian volunteers have saved the night by helping a soaked mother and child from freezing and gave them new dry clothes on, so they could again feel comfortable. You are safe now.

“This picture combines perfectly both the core of the “Everyday Heroes” theme and artistic and technical qualities. The play on the looks and gestures of the people captures really tells the story of both the mother and child and the volunteers. We can see that they truly care for those people and commit themselves completely to this job. On the technical side the composition, exposure, sharpness, focus and vibrant colors are really great.”

Second Place:

Be Your Own Ice Cream Flavor - Chloe S.(Finalist)

There is a common weight that all must share to qualify as human. I was not aware of this until recently. I thought the weight assigned to my character was a flaw. I thought I was not sufficient to be a human. This weight can also be known as definition. Some may find his or her own definition through adversity, others may have had a definition made out for him or her from the womb. How one deals with adversity is how he or she builds up a definition. A norm has been cast to ensure many people cope with difficulties in the same way. This creates a problem, boxes. Boxes are a level of definition that can be harmful. Fear is what builds the box and maintains its presence. Some individuals are too scared to tread away from norms, and become anxious or scared. Others have found a way around the obstacle and have truly become individual. The former keeps people very much alike. Those individuals create their own prisons, and some are unable to escape it and find his or her own definitions. Andrew Fine is an Advanced Placement English Language teacher and someone I believe everyone should meet. He is one of the most genuine and kind human beings the world has to offer. Never have I ever been able to trust an adult so wholeheartedly. He was the first person I was able to come out to. He gained the reputation of trust through this disposition; he emulates the type of feeling one would share with an old friend. It is through his class that I was able to realize that I was human. On the first day of my Junior year, I recall him talking about what is wrong with boxes. Men are shoved into the BE A MAN BOX, and women are placed with the GIRL POWER FLOWERS. Typically, there are people to contend with how fundamental boxes are. As a homosexual male he has pushed towards both sides of that spectrum. His gender forced him to comply to the be a man box the first years of his life. It never fit him to do everything traditionally. Mirroring that, there was a threat presented, the parts of the box that did qualify may be stripped from him by individuals who pride themselves on being traditional. From the experiences placed before him Mr. Fine has learned not to hate. This is the second lesson he places upon the class’s shoulders. It is easier to hate than love, but hate festers into more hate for the things one loves. As a man of many talents, Mr. Fine is outstanding. He can make anyone’s day better from simply being a part of it. Whether this is product of his musical talent, writing genius or ability to persevere is beyond me. He might as well be the most sung unsung hero. Somehow, even with having 120 students a year Mr.Fine has found a way to gain a personal connection with each one. It is hard to leave his class without regarding him fondly; beyond that not many people can say he or she knows who he is. I believe that he has helped changed the atmosphere at my school. The students that have participated in his classes have implantations of his ideals on love and equality. We carry these gems with us post-graduation and try to enlighten anyone facing a negative standpoint. This start of inspiration is not something just anyone can do without knowing his or her own definition. I stayed in the Girl Power Flower box for the better years of my life, I deeply hated myself and saw no potential in my being. The energy each individual is granted upon participating in his class is healing; it was enough to fuel my escape. With Mr.Fine’s wisdom I was able to come out with who I am. I know now that I do not have to feel inhuman for not being able to function as a heterosexual female comfortably; I am a human who may define as they wish to. I have Mr.Fine to thank for my life now. My full gratitude goes out to him, he was someone I needed to meet.
 

“There is a true sense of “slice of life” in this picture, a genuine feeling of looking at a human being that is passionate about his job and his students. The moment is captured perfectly and the smile and expression on the teacher shows all his dedication. The composition is great, framing the teacher between his white board and the raised hands and books of those students captivated by his lesson illustrates in a great way the importance of his vocation.”

Third Place:

A Fighting Chance - Michael S. (Finalist)


My everyday hero comes in the form of two brothers, Edwin and Carlos C., who constantly thrive to support their community through the art of boxing. Their non-profit gym nestled deep within the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts first opened its’ door back in 2008 as a means to keep the youth off the streets. Not just the youth though train here, people from all walks of life come to the gym and are welcomed. The C. brothers work tirelessly to take care of others before themselves ensuring that all those who train at the gym have a healthy and bright future ahead. Through boxing they want people to install themselves with life lessons, to bravely march forward with the knowledge that they can do anything. They both constantly sacrifice their free time to help others, but to them there is no greater satisfaction than giving back. Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, for me Edwin and Carlos C. define what it means to be an everday hero. To inspire and give back without asking for nothing in return. #everydayheroes

“The photographer managed to capture a picture that resonates with his words and captured what he saw in those two people. With the close-up framing we feel ourselves close to the two brothers through this picture. We can feel how important to them are the gym and the people who come here.”

Honorable Mentions:

The Game of Compassion - Anthony C. (Honorable Mention)

In my travels, I met the homeless gentleman playing chess on the right, who’s named Francis. I was intrigued and asked to play a game with him and he happily accepted. I learned that he sets up his chess board there every single day. He teaches others how to play, and during the games he just listens to what they have to say. Everyday he plays countless games and listens to others’ problems. To just listen and spread the love of chess seems to simple, but it’s actually a very powerful thing. He may be homeless, but that’s not stopping him from lending his ears to others. Sometimes all we need is someone to listen to us. To just be able to listen and give others his time when he has nothing else, that makes him my everyday hero. He gives all that he can even with nothing.

This entry is very moving and the story behind it really reached us. The picture is well thought and puts the viewer close to the two protagonists, creating a great “photojournalism” style photo. The only drawback that refrained us to put this entry in the top 3 is that the composition doesn’t isolate well enough the main protagonist, the viewer’s eye is drawn to the tarp to the right or to the noisy wire fencing.

A Small Hand - Jillian D. (Honorable Mention)

My mom is an amazing woman. She has the courage to leave an abusive relationship and become a single parent to four children. Since then, she has been unemployed, gone through a house fire, and struggled with the daily ridicule of her peers. Yet, despite all of this, she still remains the same strong, caring woman who raised me and continues to pass on her loving nature to others.

There is a lot of subtle storytelling in this picture, the movement of the mother while the kid is still hesitating to move shows perfectly the role of the parents, to guide and bring their kids forward in life. It’s a minor issue but we think that the picture would have worked even better without the car in the background, which reduces a bit the readability and importance of the mother.

Letting the missile hit TonDC - was that necessary?

Hindsight is a funny thing. It allows us to see things we can’t when it the moment. It allows to use to see if something actually was necessary or strategic or a complete mistake. Like it season 1, hindsight tells us the culling was completely unnecessary, where in another world, it might have been what saved everyone. Characters can’t know hindsight, but it does allow us to see when a mistake as been made. Somehow with the culling, almost all viewers recognize that those people didn’t need to die, but when it comes to TonDC, many viewers still believe that letting those people die was necessary or even the best choice that Clarke and Lexa could have made. Why is this? Because it’s harder to admit the mistakes of a main character? Because the situation is more complicated? 



In this analysis, I’m going to go through both Clarke and Lexa’s choice at TonDC and figure out if it was the best or necessary choice.



Some data to consider first:



TonDC. There were approx 275 people in TonDC. 271 grounders and 4 sky people. 250 people died. 


Mt Weather. There were 108 people captured in Mt Weather at the time that the attack was being planned. 60 grounders and 48 sky people. Later 55 sky people. (Here is the data on that). Four people died (although 25,000 people have died in Mt Weather before then).


Hindsight

The point of letting the missile hit TonDC was to give Bellamy the best chance of not being caught. Giving Bellamy a chance meant the best chance of rescuing the 108 people in Mt Weather. That’s straightforward enough, but before I can say if that means that letting the missiles hit TonDC was the best choice, we should look at the whole picture. Did Bellamy NEED that protection?



While Lexa and Clarke were debating on what to do with the missile information, this is what was happening at Mt Weather.

Containment Breech! Every knows it wasn’t you that did that, Jasper.

After this, Cage knows the sky kids had help. This tells us that it wouldn’t have changed anything whether the missile hit TonDC or not because… Cage already knew there was an inside man in Mt Weather.  Or did he? He didn’t know about Bellamy. He first suspected his father and his own people, but would he not have also blamed his own people for warning the sky people about the missile? There are people in Mt Weather who would know how to use the radio to contact the sky people. Logically, a spy within Cage’s ranks would be the first suspension that the people in TonDC had warning.

But maybe not. Maybe that’s too far of a stretch and Cage would never suspect his people would care about anyone outside the walls. Let’s assume that Cage realized the TonDC people had warning and immediately suspected an outsider (Bellamy). Would that have changed the outcome? Would Bellamy have been caught sooner? Probably not. They were already on his tail whether they realized who they were chasing or not. They weren’t able to find the kids that were being hidden. Why would they suddenly find Bellamy just because they knew he was around somewhere? That said, I acknowledge that we can’t know for sure what would have happened. Maybe saving the village of TonDC would have given the the mountain men the push to know to look for Bellamy, but I would only say it would have upped Bellamy’s risk of getting caught by a small margin. Like Bellamy would have had a 20% greater chance of being caught. 



Keep in mind, that it was only one day later, that Bellamy was caught, yet he was smart enough to escape anyway.
 

Identity Exposed. Bellamy handles himself pretty well. 

The conclusion is that perhaps letting the bombs land on TonDC helped Bellamy, although data suggests that Bellamy is clever and sufficient and probably wouldn’t have needed the extra protection. The odds are that he would have survived either way.


So far, I’ve only discussed the mission and whether the decision at TonDC was best for that. Letting the 250 die in TonDC is more complicated than that. Clarke and Lexa had different reasons and obligations, so I’m going to separate them into two sections.

Clarke Griffin


There was 250 people in TonDC, and there was 108 people in Mt Weather. Clarke had to choose what group to save. 



Personally, I’m a universalist, so I freely admit I’m biased. I don’t believe “my people” are more important than “your people.” When there is a choice of saving innocent people, I believe the ethical and moral choice is to save as many people as possible. Thus, guaranteeing 250 people to death to MAYBE save 100 people is wrong.



I believe Clarke would want to believe in that philosophy, but she does place more importance on her people (not with her abandoning all moral code, which is why Clarke did feel torn about TonDC). But this choice wasn’t as simple as her choosing to save her people. She chose a GAMBLE. No matter how you look at it, saving the people at Mt Weather was a gamble. Bellamy’s existence being exposed in Mt Weather would have increased his odds of being caught and the mission failing (as I said, TonDC being saved would have increased his danger 20%. Of course, Clarke wouldn’t have known the suspicion that was already happening in Mt Weather, so she would have thought he was at least 50% more likely to be caught). 



The gamble goes the other way too. Clarke and Lexa could have let TonDC be bombed, and Bellamy could have still been caught. Just by being there at all, he was in danger. Clarke could have let 250 people die in TonDC and had the 108 people in Mt Weather still die.



In Clarke’s defense, I do understand why she made the choice she did in TonDC. The people in Mt Weather weren’t just “her people.” They were her FRIENDS. The people in TonDC were strangers, except for three (Octavia, Kane, Abby… and Clarke saved Abby. That’s real nice Clarke). Make no mistake though, Clarke was making a gambling choice with 250 people’s lives. It wasn’t to guarantee Bellamy’s survival or the Mt Weather rescue’s success, just to increase the odds. Increasing the odds that Clarke saves the people that she wants to save. 



I could understand the choice at TonDC better if the attack on Mt Weather wasn’t just meant to be a rescue mission (more on this below). But because the plan was for it to be a rescue mission, the comparison becomes who was more important to save. The people in TonDC or the people in Mt Weather.



Did Clarke have a choice? YES. And her choice was not a clear choice between a “good” option and a “bad” option. She has a choices of all equally difficult weights. She could have tried warning the people or causing a distraction. There was no guarantee of what would have happened with Bellamy. Or she could have chosen to run away. That’s at least three clear choices. 



Did Clarke make the best choice for her people and her friends? Yes. (Except for Kane and Octavia, but Clarke still had a greater number of people in Mt Weather she was looking after, so the focus was there). If you believe in that logic, that Clarke’s obligation is only for her people, then she 100% made the right choice.



Did Clarke make the best ethical or moral choice? No.

Lexa


Lexa had the same choice as Clarke: save 250 people and put 108 people at risk. Or let 250 die to give 108 a greater chance of survival.



But it’s not even as simple at that! While I don’t believe in the “my people” and “your people” philosophy, Lexa does. Lexa’s ONLY concern is her own people. That’s what she has been taught it her obligation, to the point that it doesn’t matter if another group is harmed, killed, eradicated. Not even honor matters to her if she saves her people. Regardless if this is a good philosophy or not, it is Lexa’s philosophy, and following her own logic, she made a poor choice in TonDC.


The 250 people at TonDC were her people. At Mt Weather, there was about 60 of her people. (Compared to Clarke who had 48 people at Mt Weather and 2 people in TonDC. Clarke’s best chance to save her people was MT WEATHER. Lexa’s best chance to save the most of her people was TONDC).

 

In TonDC, Lexa let 250 of her people die to simply have a chance to save 60 of her people. In the process of saving those 60 people, some of the soldiers in her army were sure to die (that’s always cited as a reason she took the deal at Mt Weather, to prevent those deaths too). If we are playing a number’s game and we are to believe that that’s all Lexa cares about (because by taking the deal at Mt Weather, she clearly didn’t care about winning the larger war). Lexa made a illogical decision at TonDC. 



Part of being a good leader is knowing which battles to fight. Fighting a battle where 270 people die to save 60 is not a wise battle to fight. Not unless you were getting something else out of the deal. For example, if the goal wasn’t just a rescue mission but a mission to defeat Mt Weather, then the decision at TonDC would make perfect sense. Mt Weather had killed over 25,000 grounders. 25,000! Lexa letting 250 people die in TonDC to take down the Mountain would have been a strategic move. Letting 300 soldiers die fighting Mt Weather to take it down would have been a strategic move. Letting the 60 weakened prisoners inside the mountain die fighting would have been a strategic move. Yes, those deaths would still be tragic, but if they won the war, then in the long-run, Lexa would be saving people, because the mountain men wouldn’t be able to harm anyone else. 



I’m probably going to make a separate post about Lexa’s choice at Mt Weather, because that choice is its own complicated decision. I could argue a few different sides and how her perception might have changed between TonDC and Mt Weather. Regardless, with her choice at TonDC, it’s negated because of her choice at Mt Weather. Lexa let more people die than she saved. Whether that’s only in hindsight or not, that’s reality. 



Did Lexa have a choice at TonDC? Yes.

Did Lexa make the best choice for her people? No.

Did Lexa make the best moral or ethical choice? No.

I know I’ve been critical of both Clarke and Lexa, but this isn’t mean to be anti-Clarke or anti-Lexa. Not anymore than I’m anti-Kane if I said his culling was completely unnecessary (I can like a character and admit their mistakes).  TonDC is a complicated choice, and it’s not black or white, right or wrong. Clarke and Lexa didn’t have my advantage of being able to think this through for months. They had no great options and the stakes were high. All I really want to say is this:



They had a choice.

Erwin’s Guilt Complex

I’ve read so much great responses to chapter 76. I was particularly inspired by @plot-armored-titan‘s post here to write this meta. I’ve just been frustrated by how Erwin judges himself more strictly/severely than anybody else. I feel like I’m just repeating what others (basically all the very talented meta writers we have in the SNK fandom) have already said and what we’ve been told in the manga for several chapters now. My way too long ranting (sort of) under the cut. 

Keep reading

KC Wednesday prompt: Caroline is a headstrong, brave French princess promised to a Viking Brute. He comes for her and their wedding day will be their first time meeting.

Caroline sat at her dressing table, gazing calmly at her reflection in the glass as her ladies maids carefully and masterfully plaited her long flaxen tresses to one side. Soon the couvrechef was in places, the silken cloth framing her face beautifully, but the calm, beautiful countenance of the woman didn’t match the war that was waging behind the ethereal visage.

Caroline had always known that being the only daughter of King William of the House of Forbes meant that her hand in marriage would be but a bargaining chip in France’s foreign affairs. But she had no way of knowing that her hand would be the deciding factor in whether her country’s resources and people were plundered and pillaged by Vikings. And now, in the wake of her father’s sudden, unexpected death, Caroline was unequivocally France’s only hope to surviving foreign invasion by means of treaty﹣matrimonial treaty.

“I heard that Klaus and his félag have plundered and pillaged beyond measure and Klaus is by far the most notorious, ruthless and feared viking warrior…” Elena, one of Caroline’s ladies maids murmured to Bonnie, another of Caroline’s ladies maids, as she re-tied the ribbon fastening Caroline’s braid.

“But isn’t he a jarl?” Bonnie replied. “Stefan was telling me that the majority of vikings are ‘karls’ and are middle class free people… Stefan says that Jarls are the noble class, and their wealth is measured not just in their amount of treasure or number of ships and estates, but also in their number of followers… This Klaus must be a noteworthy man to have such an army of warriors at his disposal…”

Caroline tugged nervously at her long wool sleeves before fiddling with the shorter tapered sleeves that were layered over the top of her gown at the mention of her closest friend Viscount Stefan Salvatore.

The Salvatores had been close allies of the Forbes family for generations, and Stefan’s eldest and only brother Damon served as her mother’s close personal advisor. Despite the fact that she did her best to steer clear of the eldest Salvatore after some questionable behavior towards her in her youth, Stefan was one of Caroline’s dearest and most trusted friends. When even the young Salvatore conceded that Klaus and his Vikings were France’s best chance after her father’s death, Caroline knew her fate. She was just glad that Stefan had agreed to escort her down the aisle in the absence of her father.

“Enough, you gossipy, insipid half-wits. The Princess has been dressed and you’re starting to bother me, and if you’re bothering me, I shudder to think how the Princess feels,” Lady Katherine Pierce said, her voice and presence commanding the room, as Caroline’s chief lady-in-waiting should. “Be gone… Out with you… Out out OUT!” she said, all but grabbing the servants’ petticoats and dragging them out of the room. Once there were alone, Katherine turned back towards the quiet, poised blonde and chuckled with a sigh. “Lord in Heaven, I haven’t the faintest how you can stand all that chirping day in and day out… I’d rip their throats out if they were my ladies maids…”

“They’re usually much less… a twitter…” Caroline murmured with a small smile, the commentary chirps echoing in her mind and she took a shuddering breath as her gaze flitted back to her reflection in the glass.

“Caroline… are you… alright?” Katherine asked tentatively, approaching her friend and sovereign with worried eyes as she kneeled slowly beside the seated princess.

“The greater good…”

“What?”

“The greater good takes precedence over self-preservation…” Caroline repeated, finally tearing her gaze away from the glass and landing it on her lady-in-waiting. Katherine watched the blonde’s beautiful cerulean irises become blurred with tears as the princess said, “Tell me that the greater good takes precedence over self-preservation…”

“With all due respect, your highness, I’m the last person to relay that sentiment with anything close to resembling sincerity…” Katherine replied sheepishly. Caroline chuckled and quickly wiped away a stray tear with her free hand as the exiled Bulgarian baroness rubbed the other. “I will say, however, that were I in your place, I’d trust Stefan. I’d trust Stefan with my life…”

Caroline took a deep breath and nodded at Katherine with a close-lipped smile.

⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭⚭

Katherine passed Caroline off to Stefan with a supportive and reassuring squeeze to her hand and went to take her place amongst the French nobles and dignitaries assembled for the ceremony. The only thing that kept Caroline from collapsing into a trembling mess was Stefan’s firm, comforting hold on her hand.

“Stefan, what am I doing? I’m selling myself off to a barbarian for the sake of security… my father would die of shame if he knew that I was compromising myself in this manner…” Caroline whispered as they gradually strode towards the altar.

“Your father would be proud of your selfless courage and your immense concern for not only your family, but for your people…” Stefan whispered back. “And I would not support you ‘selling yourself off to a barbarian’ so easily or so confidently… you know me better than that…” Caroline sighed, squeezing Stefan’s hand knowing him to be true.

“And I wouldn’t be escorting you towards your future husband had he not proven himself an honorable, diplomatic, chivalrous human being… no matter his genuine and unabashed interest in you…”

“Funny you’d categorize a pillaging, plundering, murderous and treacherous heathen as—” Caroline began, but as the sea of people began to part and clear, the sight at the end of the aisle stopped her mid-sentence.

The menacing, terrifying, coarse, bloodstained monster Caroline had expected to be waiting for her was no where to be found. Before her stood a man in an unadorned, yet respectable tunic free of bloodstains and gore, and not only was clean but his facial hair was meticulously groomed, as was his the natural dirty blond curls atop his head despite the close shaved sides. The only way to distinguish him from any other foreign attendant was the simple gold banded crown atop his head.

Stefan must have seen Caroline’s gobsmacked expression, because soon she heard him recite, “A Lion once fell in love with a beautiful maiden and proposed marriage to her parents. The old people did not know what to say. They did not like to give their daughter to the Lion, yet they did not wish to enrage the King of Beasts. At last the father said, ‘We feel highly honoured by your Majesty’s proposal, but you see our daughter is a tender young thing, and we fear that in the vehemence of your affection you might possibly do her some injury. Might I venture to suggest that your Majesty should have your claws removed, and your teeth extracted, then we would gladly consider your proposal again.’ The Lion was so much in love that he had his claws trimmed and his big teeth taken out. But when he came again to the parents of the young girl they simply laughed in his face, and bade him do his worst. Love can tame the wildest.”

Caroline’s gaze turned towards her dear friend who was smiling supportively and she turned back to the notorious Viking warrior that awaited her with a knowing smile and blue eyes blazing with understanding and passion. 

She took a calming, deep breath and strode towards the altar with added confidence, suddenly less fearful of the lion’s mighty roar knowing she had to power to tame the King of Beasts.