Justin is a junior in high school. He knows exactly three things about his soulmate. One, she’s around his age. Two, she’s definitely American. Three, she has a thing for musical theater.
Ever since puberty. Everybody stares at me. Boys, girls. I can’t help it baby.
Justin, or Ranser as his hockey team knew him, sighs. He’s knee-deep in a practice SAT test. He knows his soulmate is American, so that’s where he’s planning to go for university. Even if they don’t end up at the same school, it’ll be exponentially easier to find her if they don’t have an international border between them.
So be kind. And don’t lose your mind. Just remember. That I’m your baby.
“Allow me to kiss your hand, be your man,” Ranser interrupts. “You know, I’ll understand…You see where I’m from, WC, I’m from Nigeria,” he murmurs. “Omo, you know say na criteria.”
Justin doesn’t know what skipping ahead in a song does to the music inside his soulmate’s mind. But he’s not one for singing,really. He finds the songs that suit his message and sticks lyric-less songs otherwise. Many reactionary music genres nowadays were mainly instrumental to resist the idea of finding soulmates through consumerism. It’s not that he didn’t care about his soulmate. But it’s one less thing to worry about if he has separate music for communicating with her and for enjoying for himself. Afrobeat has been particularly effective in balancing out her more…exuberant tunes.
He can’t fault her for her love of Lady Gaga, but priorities take precedent over fun time. As if she understands his protests, the music dies down. Justin takes a deep breath, resuming his test. He can only hope she doesn’t do this during the real exam time. Although most administrators were understanding, it was a three strikes policy for singing during an exam.
If there’s one thing Justin’s learned about his soulmate, it’s that she sung everything she felt.
“What if I got a double major in music and economics?” Adam, or Birker, asks his teammate, Hobbs, one movie night his last year in Juniors.
Hobbs eyes him incredulously. “Why?”
Adam shrugs, “my soulmate listens to a lot of cool music.”
“So? Fucking congrats,” he snarks.
“No man, it’s like,” Adam gestures with two hands at the space in front of the coffee table. “Most of the stuff they like isn’t pop and doesn’t even have lyrics. Which fucking sucked when we were younger, right?”
“Sure,” he concedes.
“I learned how to play the piano and some other instruments so I could figure out what songs they were — and now I have all this musical knowledge that I won’t be able to use ever again.”
“Because…” Hobbs prompts.
“Because when I find them, what the fuck do I need to know this shit for anymore? If they like something, they can just show it to me.”
Hobbs rolls his eyes, “be a music major. Become a fucking teacher why don’t you?”
“You think I could handle that?” Adam inquires seriously.
“I think your other option is to get famous writing music, and fat chance of that ever happening,” Hobbs chirps.
“Thanks, you’re helpful,” Birker rolls his eyes dramatically.
“I don’t get why you’re going to college anyway,” Hobbs jabs him in the ribs.
“I’m not doing the draft, bro,” Adam reminds him curtly.
“Oh c’mon,” Hobbs eggs him on, “what’s the worst that could happen?”
“I miss my chance to meet my soulmate in college, I spend four years in fucking Syracuse before I get called up. I retire at 32 if I’m lucky with no degree or skills.”
“Except music,” Hobbs chirps.
“Except music,” Adam parrots.
Brownie comes back with a bowl full of popcorn and a bag of Twizzlers. “What’d I miss?”
“Birker’s whinning about his soulmate again,” Hobbs replies.
“What else is new,” Calvin shouts from the kitchen.
“Can we start the fucking show already?” Adam shouts back.
“Yeah,” Calvin comes running in, hopping onto the first body he sees (Adam).
Adam frowns when Calvin won’t get off his lap. “I really hate you sometimes.”
“Taking your way in the world today takes everything you’ve got.
Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot,” the four boys chorus.
“Man, I hope for your sake she’s funny,” Brownie tells Birker.
Adam laughs hollowly. He’s very convinced that his soulmate’s a dude. Which is fine, Adam’s as bi as the day is long. The way Calvin looks back at him pointedly, reinforces his suspicions that he’s not the only queer guy on the team.
Which is exactly why he’s going to Samwell. It was one of the queerest schools in the country. He had no assurance that his soulmate will find him there. But at the very least, he can have four years away from the quite chaos of hockey. The NHL was still ignoring the fact that a good third (or more) of their players weren’t straight. The press was constantly writing soulmates off as “platonic”, and Adam was not about to put up with that any time soon. He wanted to go to school, do something he loves, and fall in love. Why was that too much to ask for?
The abandoned ruins in the Lorkrata Hills in Rivenspire had originally been a stronghold built in the first era by the Bretons soon after the Aldmer Clan Direnni’s rule over High Rock had come to an end. The foundations for the fort had itself been built upon an old Ayleid ruin, and it is said that during his reign, King Ranser had ordered the rebuilding of the once-towering ramparts to compliment the fortifications he already controlled at the Tor, hoping to thus secure his hold over the entire region.
Now just another crumbling edifice on the Rivenspire landscape, garrisoned only by skeevers; yet like so many of the ruins scattered across High Rock, it is not the fallen walls or spiring towers that are of interest to the modern explorer, but what lies beneath.