The Eccentric Anima's Legacy


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    The Eccentric Anima's Legacy Empty The Eccentric Anima's Legacy

    Post  TJ on Sun Oct 02, 2016 1:10 pm

    Pages 1-13:
    What time was it? As Talin lifted himself from his pillow and brushed his bangs out of his face, he yawned and stretched.
    He had probably slept in after the wild night he had last night with his wife, and he awoke to something slithering beneath his bed sheets. It was not the first time, and it would likely not be the last. If memory served him, Taliah had a distinct fear of lightning so she would take cover in their bed when it was at its fiercest. Her pride resulted in her escaping before her father would wake in the morning, so he always pretended not to see her. This too, was likely one of those mornings. He decided to lay back down and wait until she skulked off before he got out of bed.
    Up until something started tugging at his pants and the shadows of doubt encroached upon his paternal instincts. He craned his neck over his shoulder and noted that his wife had vanished—she was not an early riser by any definition of the word…unless she was going to do something troublesome.
    He lifted the sheets and his lips curled into a wry smile. “Kana…” He muttered under his breath.
    Within the darkness a pair of white irises became visible first before the snow white strands of hair gently swept across her face and rested there. She brushed them behind her ear before she beamed, eyes crinkled—a look of pure joy. “Good morning, Darling,” She answered.
    “Don’t you ‘good morning’ me. The hell’re you doing this early in the morning?”
    “Well…” She said as her irises shifted from one side of her sclera to the other. “I was thinking of giving you a Father’s Day surprise.”
    His ears wilted. “Are you kidding me?”
    “It’s not okay?”
    “Of course it’s not okay! Anyway, you did that yesterday under the same train of thought, you ding-dong!”
    Her smile widened into a grin and the twinkle in her eyes said she was ready to compete. He swallowed hard and grimaced instinctively as he reminded himself he could not let his guard down for even a moment.
    “Just a little bit won’t hurt any right? You dropped out last night.” She said with a gentle laugh.
    “That’s because you’re insatiable!  When I’d expended every last ounce of energy You decided it’d be a good idea to ride me like a gods damned rocking horse!”
    She let out a hearty laugh. “That look of ecstasy on your face said otherwise, Comrade!”
    He grit his teeth. “That was agony…and defeat.
    “That aside, the day’s just started. If I waste all of my energy on giving you what you want, I’ll be bed-ridden for the rest of the day. I’ve got things to do, you know.”
    She placed both her hands to her chin as her legs moved vertically in a rhythmic motion. “Then you don’t have to do a thing, Comrade. Just leave it to your adorable wife!” She puffed out her chest with a confident smile.
    “I don’t have to do a thing? Adorable? You?” He knit his brows as he mulled her words over. “What?! No! I can’t let you do that!”
    She knit her brows in turn and he felt a slight hint of guilt. “Why not? This one’s on me. All you’ve gotta do is sit back, relax and give me some of ‘that’.”
    He frowned. “After yesterday? The only thing you’re gonna be sucking out of me is my life force, you succubus.”
    “Are you implying that you see me in your dreams, Darling? How lewd!”
    “I don’t wanna hear that from you, you ero-demon!” He rapped her on the head with the side of his hand and she laughed as she stuck her tongue out.
    It was true she had always been like that, but in the earlier days they were nothing more than offensive and unwarranted jokes. She had not done good on any of them until the two had started dating…but in each and every action her feelings got across to them. She was doing all that she could to make up for the lost time—the two had been separated for years and their reunion was not one that was welcomed. With her life on the line he fought with everything he had to save her and to bring about one of the biggest changes the Earth Realm, the Old World, and their current world would see. Even more importantly than that…he got to see her true self hidden behind her perverted exo-skeleton. The young lady who held on to an enduring love for so many years.
    “We can still fool around a bit can’t we? A little won’t hurt!”
    He raised an eyebrow. “Your fooling around yesterday left a telltale sign of exactly what antics you were up to.”
    Her eyes opened wide as a bead of sweat ran down her cheek. He had her right where he wanted her. “E-eh? Did it?”
    “It did.” He brushed his hair back as if he would to tie it into his usual ponytail and there was a mark on the right side of his neck. “You had a little too much fun then, don’t you think? What would you do if the kids saw that?” He asked with a smug grin. There was in fact, a hickey.
    She began to sweat more as she averted her gaze. “We could just cover it up with…concealer…”
    “I don’t think that comes in violet, Kana.”
    “Ah!” She instinctively jumped at his words. Hook line and sinker.
    His grin widened. She was putty in the palm of his hands.
    “The captain goes down with her ship!” She cried out before she threw herself at him.
    The moment her arms reached around his shoulder he wrapped his around her waist and turned her over. “Oh no you don’t, you sore loser!” He exclaimed before he threw her down on the middle of the bed and pinned her arms down.
    Kana now straddled by him, lay on the bed with a look of surprise. Her hair was splayed all over and across her face and her legs rested one over the other between his own.
    “You really surprised me, Comrade! The talons aren’t to be underestimated!” She said before she laughed gently and caught her breath.
    He smiled wryly at the comment. He surprised her?
    “Although…I don’t mind if you’re a little rough with me…”
    Cheeks flushed, averted gaze, shuttered eyes…he swallowed hard. There was no way in hell that his wife could look that erotic naturally! She was the queen of being un-sexy! She must have been practicing in case something like this happened.
    He exhaled through his nose and steeled his resolve. “You’d like that, wouldn’t you? Not happening, though.”
    He reached behind him and removed Kana’s pajamas from the bedframe, then dropped them on her face. “I’m gonna go make some coffee so be sure to get dressed before the kids wake up, would you?”
    After he removed his hands and got up she pulled the clothes away and pouted. “You’re gonna have to make it up to me tonight, Comrade!” She huffed.
    He laughed before he kissed her on the forehead. “If you want it, you’ll have to defeat my minions before you reach me.”
    Her face eased into a smile. “Better not underestimate me. I know all of your weaknesses.”
    He grinned. She really, really did. “I’m the kind of boss who changes them on a regular basis. You’re gonna have your work cut out for you.”

    Talin sat in his living room as he perused through the newspaper The Midgard Spear. More often than not, some eccentric scientist came up with some new and ridiculous technology, but that week’s paper included some information about other parts of Jienda.
    As he took a sip of his coffee he noted an article that spoke of Princess Herne having a potential marriage candidate—in the form of some mystery man. Talin could not help but chuckle and shake his head at the thought. Royalty was bound to get into all sorts of antics, but the struggle of parents with their now adult daughter was known to all. He was thankful his children were still in their youth.
    As if his thoughts were read he caught a brief glimpse of his son’s eyes beneath his bangs before he flopped down in his father’s lap. Minion #1 had appeared to wreak havoc.
    “Guh…!” Talin uttered as he glared at the child.
    “Morning Papa!” He said with a bright childish grin…like hers.
    “I am Papa. Why have you summoned me?” He asked as he watched the boy with a raised brow.
    “Will you tell me about your childhood now?”
    Talin grimaced almost instinctively. He was indeed a man of his word but he was also one hard pressed to take any risks with his troublesome family. That included telling them anything they do not need to know about the past. “What do you plan to do with that knowledge, Faust?”
    “I’m just a little bit curious is all!”
    “Curious huh? Knowing you, you’re not just curious. You’re gonna get in some kind of trouble, I’d bet.”
    “Me? I wouldn’t do something like that!” The boy grinned and waved it off. “I’ve been super good lately!”
    “You? Good? Pfft.
    “That aside, can’t you see I’m busy doing dad things? I’ve got my paper, I’ve got my coffee, and for some reason there’s a nuisance in my lap. One of those things doesn’t belong, don’t you think?”
    “It’s the paper.” The boy said instantly, a serious glint in his concealed eyes.
    “No it’s you!” Talin retorted. He sighed. “Just the other day you had me summon Grimhelka just so you could see the fireworks downtown.”
    “Grimmy’s a big guy. He didn’t mind any.”
    “Then there was that time you made Kirin play fetch!”
    “I thought I could make her a bit more domestic.”
    Where did he learn these things? Was it Kana? It was probably Kana.
    Talin placed a hand to his face as he sighed. “Just a few days ago you had Layla give you a lap pillow. And you fell asleep there! Until the next morning! Her legs were sore for the next two days!”
    His cheeks flushed gently. “She has really soft legs.”
    “All of your statements are beside the point. Also you’re way too young to be thinking about a girl’s legs!” Talin ruffled his son’s hair.
    “But you’re not off the hook yet. The worst is yet to come.” He said as lips curled into a wry smile and the boy’s eye became visible, housing a look of both curiosity and surprise. “You…you hid your mother’s undergarments from her, didn’t you?” The man asked as he covered his mouth in embarrassment. “She went commando for at least two days.”
    “That…I didn’t do that,” Faust said with an almost dumbfounded tone.
    This gave the man pause. “You didn’t…? Gods, Kana!”
    As if summoned by his words his wife’s head peeked out from around the corner and she smiled at him. “Darling?”
    “Wha-” His face flushed with a look of brief surprise, which soon shifted to wariness. “What’re you-when did you even get over there? What’re you doing?”
    “Baking!” She said excitedly as her full body emerged. She wore a pair of oven mitts and her favourite apron that said, ‘Eat the chef, kiss the buns’.
    He knit his brows. “C’mere.” He said as he gestured her over with one finger.
    She approached and leaned in as she closed her eyes and puckered her lips. He placed both his hands to her cheeks.
    “Do not set the kitchen on fire, okay?” He asked as her looked her directly in the eyes.
    She smiled and raised her hand to make an OK sign.
    “Do not set the kitchen on fire.” He repeated with a serious glare.
    She smiled. “Okey doke.”
    He looked away from her, somewhat over her snow white locks. “Taliah?”
    “Yeah?” His daughter asked as she stepped out of the kitchen. Just when did they get there? Was he that absorbed in his paper?
    “Keep an eye on your mother would you? If you’re free, help her out. Make sure she doesn’t set things ablaze.”
    Their daughter grinned. “Sure thing. Layla and I have things covered.”
    “You can place your trust in us, Master.” Layla answered as she offered him an affirmative nod. She once again rested on the shoulder of Taliah. The two had become nearly inseparable.
    “Tali!” Kana shouted as she broke free of Talin’s hands and embraced her daughter. “Isn’t your Papa so mean?! He doesn’t believe in my baking skills!”
    “G-get off Mom! You’re suffocating me…with your boobs!” Taliah pulled away and managed a deep breath before she huffed while Talin looked on incredulously. “But I don’t really either. Dad’s had us do fire drills just in case it happens again.”
    Leaving aside the fact that Taliah had learned a word she did not need to learn anytime soon, the greater concern was the chef. If she set the house aflame, a couple words would be the least of his concerns.
    “Papa! Check this out!” The boy clenched his fists and started to groan lightly as he seemed to be concentrating.
    Talin raised a brow as he tried to discern what Faust’s intentions were, and when they dawned upon him it was far too late. Without a moment to spare Faust’s torso and everything below it was coated in a gentle glow and the moment it faded a silver armour took form.
    “Gh…! Faust…get off…That armour is seriously heavy!” Talin complained as he managed to lift the boy ever so slightly.
    When Faust released his concentration and exhaled with relief Talin sighed in turn. “I’ve been practicing!”
    “Yeah there’s no doubt about that.” Talin said as he smiled wryly.
    He was rather happy to see that. It was true that his children were growing steadily. They, unlike their mother had the opportunity to be themselves. Their true selves, from the moment they were born. They were Anima through and through, and with her guidance they were leaning just what that pertained. It brought him a bit of pride to see that Faust could manifest that much of his armour at his age. Taliah on the other hand, had better control of her clairvoyance.
    The only shame about their lineage was that Faust would likely face some hardship due to his Svaltalfar appearance, somewhat similar to his father’s. Both children had his ears, but Taliah had her mother’s skin tone. The boy’s eyes and hair would likely offset any suspicions about his origins, but one of the two remained hidden. Talin chuckled dryly. What troublesome children he had.
    However, knowing their mother’s origins might help them to understand their origins, and just what it meant to be an Anima of the last generation, and the future generation.
    He sighed. “Well…I know you won’t go away until I tell you something.” He said as he folded up his paper and set it down on the table.
    “So you will?!” Faust said beaming.
    “Just a bit. You’re not ready for the entirety of my dark past.” Talin said as he grinned slightly. There was a lot of gritty and bloody events that took place that Faust did not need to know about at this time.
    “I’m ready,” The boy complained.
    “I was just kidding about that.” He said as he picked the boy up and sat him down next to him. “I dunno who in their right mind wants to go through a series of flashbacks. Then again, you’d read or listen to anything if it’s interesting enough for you.”
    “You have really interesting stories to tell though, Papa!”
    Talin grinned. He was totally buttering him up. Like he would fall for that. “Oh I know. Now shush and let me tell you how I met your mother.”

    It had been ten years since the Unification had occurred.

    “The Unification was that thing that connected the ‘Old World’ and the ‘Earth Realm’ right Papa?” Faust asked.
    He had barely even gotten a sentence out before he was interrupted. To add insult to injury he did not even mention that to the boy yet. “Yes. It is.” He added with a sneer.
    After much struggling and searching, he had found out that the first time the Unification occurred was after his father’s expedition beyond The Veil—a place also known by the name Convexa Legionem. One that housed ungodly beings from another world.
    Talin’s journey had led him to his mother’s journals, and in it he found out the truth. How she had been inflicted by the Animus Legionem’s touch prior to his birth, and how within him a small portion of their biology was born.
    He had also found out the truth of Kana’s lineage, that she was not a Heliai, but an Anima. Her mother, Hilde Karin, had been a part of his mother and father’s expedition and she along with many others did not live to return to the Old World. Mercielda and Mustafa being among those that had been able.
    The first Unification itself…a fault of Mercielda’s. Talin himself acting as a tether and a means to which Convexa Legionem could be opened once more…upon his death. When the secret got out about Mercielda’s condition, she had fled the laboratory at the peak of her career along with her child, shortly after his birth.
    To make matters worse, at this same point in time the Sages of four of the six temples had been gathered to repair the seals on Convexa Legionem. One of the other ways it would open would be that the seals would weaken over time, resulting in the creatures within breaking through. It was then, that one of them was murdered in cold blood along with the reigning king. Such a set of events threw the entirety of the Old World into turmoil and chaos ran rampant across the continent for a time.
    Much to the surprise of Mercielda, she had run into the Sage of Light…an Anima. One of the only three that remained at the time. To that end, they formed a contract. The Sage Shea offered to seal Convexa Legionem if Mercielda would spirit her son away so that he would not be put to the sword and that he would live to become the reincarnated hero of eld. The child’s mother agreed, and their contract was bound in blood. Upon Convexa Legionem being sealed, the Unification began. To ensure that Mercielda kept to her end of the deal, portals opened all over Azenham and pulled men and women of all races to the Earth Realm. Mercielda herself stayed behind, but she entrusted her son to her remaining allies on the continent before she disappeared.
    “Now let me continue my story.” Talin said as he wrinkled his nose.

    Talin sat at the back of the class amidst a series of otherworldly beings—those that hailed from the Old World, or Azenham as they knew it. The young Dark Elf twirled his pencil through his fingers out of boredom until the teacher walked in.
    A tall man with long blonde hair, green eyes and dressed smartly in a suit and tie stepped in with the attendance in hand before he placed it down on the desk at the front of the class. His features along with his light skin tone and pointed ears were the proof that he was a High Elf. Mr. Hernescha, their homeroom teacher.
    “Okay all of you, settle down. I’ve got an important announcement to make.” He said as he tapped the attendance a couple times on the desk. “We’re gonna be getting a new student in our class today so give her a warm welcome would you?”
    Talin looked on in disbelief for a moment, but it quickly turned to disinterest. It was just one more annoyance to the bunch. To have someone transfer in from another school so many years after the Unification was stupid, really. But it was not him, so why would he need to care?
    “Come on in Kana.”
    A young Heliai girl stepped into the room. Alike to the others, she had long silver hair, pointy, wilted ears and a lack of irises and pupils in her eyes. She had a round face and a gentle smile and wore the same uniform all the other students had. Black dress pants, white golf shirt and a dark blue blazer with the school’s insignia over the left breast.
    “Class, this is Kana Altea. Try to get along with her would you?”
    She waved and smiled and the boys were in an uproar over how cute she was. Some of the girls were not so fond of her.
    “There’s a seat right next to Elio Ahn. It’s all yours.”

    “Mom was a Heliai?! But you said she’s an Anima.” Faust said as he furrowed his brows. “Are you making this up as you go along?”
    Talin looked appalled. And Kana thought they had a lack of faith in her?
    “She was! Technically! She was disguised, okay?”
    Talin smiled wryly. “That’s not the question you’re supposed to be asking. You should ask how before you ask why, you little twerp.”
    “But I wanna know why.”
    Precocious little… “The reason why is because that’s what Anima do. They disguise themselves as other races until they reach adulthood and can don their disguise at will. You know as well as I and Taliah do that your true form is that of what you are when you wear your armour. You’re not born that way, but you grow into it, and it grows with you. Until that time comes, the Anima disguise themselves if they need to hide among other races. Through that they can look and act just like them.
    “Your mother…she didn’t want that for you. She wanted you to be born and raised as Anima. To live as who you truly are with pride.” He smiled slightly. “I’d never seen her so vehement on anything before. Who was I to tell her that it isn’t a good idea?
    “But anyway, the point is, is its because the Anima were never meant to be known. They hid their homes, their existences and their powers for eons. When the Legio appeared during the age of Horo and friends and once again during our age, that’s when they revealed themselves. To do what none of the other races could.”
    In his journals, the other Talins, many of those that became Vanir had seen a different fate for the Anima. In some, he had found a way to undo their curse and was able to free them from the bindings of the Animus Legio. In others…he had defeated their leader and taken the mantle to control them and wage war against his father…against all of Azenham. In so doing he left the world in ruins, only to escape to Midgard as Vanir and aim to fulfill his unfinished promise with God Ah. In so doing, having lost Kana and murdered the Sage of Light Shea, the only remaining Anima was his previous companion, and Kana’s blood brother.
    In this time period he had succeeded at saving the Anima and Kana also. He had accomplished all that he had set out to do, and succeeded where his other selves had failed. Looking back, he came to realize how thankful he was that it had all worked out.
    “So what happened next?” Faust asked hardly remaining in his seat.
    “What do you think happened next? Nothing! Nothing happened! Because I was a loner through and through!” He said as he fixed his son’s sitting posture.

    During breaks Talin could hear the elated voices of students approaching the new girl and talking up a storm with her. He could not be bothered. He ate his lunch alone, he read outside alone and he went home alone. One more Heliai to the class would hardly change a thing. Or so he thought.
    As he was making his way home, book in hand he felt someone tug at his bag and this brought him to a halt. He turned to meet their gaze and locked eyes with the new Heliai girl.
    “You…” He muttered to himself as he watched her.
    “My name’s Kana. Kana Altea. It’s nice to meet you!” She said with a bright smile.
    He frowned. “I know. Bye.”
    He removed her hand from his bag and continued to walk away before she followed after him and walked next to him. He ignored her for a spell, but he eventually found it hard to concentrate with her hovering over him like that.
    “If you keep walking you’re gonna miss the bus.” He muttered as he eyed her from his peripherals.
    “That’s okay. I wanna talk with you more anyway!”
    He closed his book and glared at her. “What do you want? Money? I don’t have any. Do you wanna mess with me? Get in line.”
    She shook her head. “I wanna be friends with you.”
    His gaze sharpened. “Friends? I don’t need friends. And that includes you.” At those words he walked away, but she persisted nonetheless.
    “I saw you on TV plenty of times. You’re Talin Arimael aren’t you? That super popular actor?”
    He stopped in his tracks and clenched his fists as they shook violently. Super popular actor? What did she know about him? They could paint it any colour they like and sugar coat it to their heart’s content, but he knew the truth of it. It was less acting and more a circus. He was a spectacle for Humans, for the Azen, for anyone who wasn’t a Dark Elf. He was the only one in the whole of the realm. Not even his parents had a hint of Dark Elf blood in them and he hated it.
    He hated being on TV. He hated being looked at, and he hated all the attention he got just for being who he was. It was one more thing for bullies to pick on him for at school. Another fact that distanced him from his classmates and something that made it harder for him to face his family with his true feelings.
    But he would do it. He would continue to do it to earn money. There was no doubt in his mind that his parents, Harlin and Mona were not his real parents. He didn’t look like them, or they like him. For some reason they decided to raise a Dark Elf and this brought a lot of strange people to their home. But those strange people had money, and it was something everybody needed. If his being on TV could help ease the burden on his family, he would continue until people stopped caring about him.
    “You’ve got the wrong guy…” He muttered under his breath before he walked off.
    She laughed gently. “Couldn’t be! You’re the only Dark Elf around!”
    She was really trying him at this point. If she wanted to have a good laugh, she could do so behind his back with his classmates. “So what if I am?! If your only goal is to mess with me than spare me the fake kindness and just get it over with already!”
    His fists shook with anger, not at her, but at himself. He had let his ego get the better of him. “You’re just like the rest of them, aren’t you?! Don’t talk to me. Don’t look at me. Just…forget that I ever existed…and go away…”
    At those words he caught one last glimpse of her holding a fist tightly to her chest with a forlorn look in her eyes before he turned and ran away as far and as fast as he could.

    “You were kinda mean to Mama, weren’t you?” Faust asked with a genuine look of concern in his eyes.
    It’d been so many years and he still felt pangs of guilt at the thought. Or perhaps it was in his son that he saw so much of his mother. Her keen curiosity, her perceptive but playful nature…her unbreakable and yet fragile heart.
    He chuckled mirthlessly. “…Yeah, I was. But she wasn’t the only one.”
    If he was to tell the boy how he met his mother, he would have to tell him about the greatest antagonists in his youth. A cliché group of bullies lead by a Herrenah named Argyle Sorstrom.
    “So? What happened next?”
    Talin frowned. “If I was to tell you what happened next I’d have to give you a day-to-day rundown of my life. That’s definitely not happening.
    “Anyway, there were plenty of small events between when Kana and I met that lead up to us becoming friendly. Suppose I could share a few with you.
    “But before that, it’s best I tell you that, as a Svartálfar I had more enemies than friends. Kana was the oddball.” He pursed his lips in thought. Not that she was not an oddball to this very day. “You remember why, don’t you?”
    “Nope! Tell me!” He said with a grin.
    “Don’t you lie to me you little twerp!” Talin rubbed his knuckles into the sides of the boy’s head.
    “I was just kidding!” Talin sighed as he stopped and gave Faust an expectant glare. “The Dark Elves brought the scary demons to Azenham right? And then they attacked people.”
    “That’s racist.” It really was not, but it certainly was improper manners when referring to his own kind. “Though you did get the gist of it.” He smiled slightly. The boy could give a more detailed explanation but it was clear as day he wanted to hear more than to say.
    “Now then…”

    Those who did not ignore him certainly paid him more attention than warranted. It was not the good kind, either. He had lost count of how many times he had gone home bloody, bruised and hungry—let alone how many times he had visited the infirmary just to be reminded that he should speak to a teacher about the issues he faced.
    Silly him, how could he not think of doing such a simple action? Such a simple…ineffective action. If giving him a black eye or bruised ribs was ‘his classmates trying to get to know him’ he could feel their loving embrace through the pain he suffered day after day.
    Today too, he felt would be no different. It was a hot summer day and per usual he holed himself up in the boy’s bathroom on the school’s second floor with the vain hope that he would be able to eat all of his lunch in it. On the second bite into his sandwich he heard the voices of a group of four boys as they entered the washroom, each talking animatedly.
    “You think the stalls are in use?” The first asked. Judging by the voice, it was Freldin. A Yalen, naturally second biggest race to the Herrenah and known for their yeti-like appearance. Like the Naga, they could take a more human appearance at will, but their long fur still covered the better half of their backs, and often their eyes. The fact they could see through it at all was incredible in and of itself. The men had curled horns that protruded from their temples.
    “There’s only one way to find out,” The second suggested. Saloq Crona—Loctu, in short, a lizard man. From the long tongue to the tail, they were as you would expect them to be.
    “Quit screwin’ around and get in there.” Argyle said to them as he followed after the others. The oldest of the group, over a year their senior.
    Talin lowered his sandwich and sat in bated breath, hoping with all his might that they would not check all the stalls. He picked the bathroom specifically because they raided the last one.
    He nearly jumped as he heard the sound of a door being kicked and colliding with the inner walls of the stall.
    “Empty,” Freldin muttered.
    “We find the need for you beings of flesh to excrete waste humorous,” Len Fii remarked. An Armana, a race without a corporeal form but one that used technology alongside magic to give themselves physical bodies that could hold their thunder-like existence.
    “Piss off,” Saloq hissed.
    As one after the next the stall doors were kicked open Talin took a deep breath. They were gonna find him sooner rather then later. After he exhaled he began to scarf down his sandwich and by the time he managed to cram the entire thing in his mouth they attempted to kick in the door he hid behind.
    “Think we’ve found our friend,” Argyle said in that sickening tone he got when he was going to torment someone.
    In a matter of moments Saloq and Freldin slid under the wall and door of the stall.
    “Why’re you hiding from us Talin? You should eat lunch with us once in a while!” Freldin said as he got to his feet along with Saloq.
    Halfway through chewing his food Talin glared at the Yalen with enough hatred to burn a hole through him.
    “Like I’d ever consider you losers friends of mine. Let alone have the nerve to eat lunch with you, you godsdamned sheepdog.”
    A hairy arm reached out for Talin’s throat, causing Saloq to stick to the wall as if he was to be the one grabbed. The Svartálfar was pulled from his seat and slammed into the wall.
    “I dare you to say that again, Dark Elf.” The Yalen muttered as a crimson glint flashed beneath his bangs.
    “I said you look like a godsdamned shee-”
    Freldin reeled a fist back but moments before he could throw it his fist was grabbed by Argyle.
    “Hey, don’t forget who’s the boss around here would ya’? Besides, what’re you getting so riled up for? He’s just some shrimp.” Argyle said with a grin. The largest and most intimidating of the group. Herrenahs like him, especially were known for their sharp spiky hair, prominent fangs, and long, at times branching, curled or just gnarled horns.
    “Tch.” Freldin clicked his tongue before he let Talin go and stepped aside for Argyle to get in his face.
    “Why so much hostility Talin? There’s no need for remarks like that, now are there?” The look in his eyes held not a hint of kindness. It was that of a predator, one who had no intention of even giving his prey an opportunity at escape.
    Talin silently glared at him. Regardless of what he would say or do, they would beat him up. Without a doubt he would be seeing the nurse before the end of the day. It was just a matter of what he would do that would get him beat up.
    Argyle placed two fingers to his chin as his grin widened. “Don’t wanna talk to me? I might have to get the boys to teach you what happens when people ignore me.”
    The Svartálfar furrowed his brows in fury. He took a deep breath and spit out the remains of his sandwich in Argyle’s face. “Get your grubby claws off of me, you dirty oni bastard.”
    The face he made in response to that remark nearly made him look identical to one.
    “So that’s what you have to say to our kindness?” Argyle asked as he bared his fangs at his underclassman and wiped the sandwich from his face.
    “I’d sooner find kindness in hell.” Talin remarked as he turned his eyes away.
    As one would expect, his insults did not make his situation any better, but he refused to give any bullies the satisfaction of hearing him plead for them not to hurt him.
    “Then we’ll give you a ticket there!”
    As he had expected, he was thrown face first into the back of the toilet before he was pulled back by his ponytail and had his head slammed into the rim of the bowl.
    “Oops! Sorry Talin! I MISSED.” Argyle said through grit teeth.
    Talin grinned as the blood from his forehead ran down his face and across his right eye. “You know what they say, third time’s the charm. It might take you seven or eight, but I forgi-”
    Before he could finish his face was plunged into the toilet and he held his breath while Argyle told Freldin to flush the toilet.
    After a few seconds of choking underwater Argyle pulled his head back up. “Had enough yet?”
    “No not quite. I’m curious what it’s like to be Freldin, you know? Drinking out of toilets and such.”
    Freldin kicked him in the small of his back before he dunked his head in the toilet while Argyle watched.
    After three or four more times of that, they got bored and skulked off leaving him with the words “We’ll be seeing you again tomorrow”.

    Faust said nothing. This surprised even his father. The young boy sat with his fists clenched in his lap and his lips curled in as he trembled slightly. There were nearly tears in the corner of his eyes and he seemed to be fighting them back.
    “Faust. Are you crying?” His father asked with a raised eyebrow.
    “I…I’m not!” He uttered through a choked voice.
    Talin smiled as he placed a hand to the boy’s head. The happiness he felt at knowing that his son could feel empathy to such a degree at such a young age was a blessing in and of itself. He hoped with all his might that Faust would not turn out like he had—that he would grow to know and share the kindness his father had through his comrades, his family and especially through Kana.
    Deep down, he was thankful that he had taken from his mother. Talin had a bad attitude and in a desperate attempt to cover it up from those he cared about he more often than not hid himself away. Out of their sight, but not out of their minds. He had built the wall between himself and everyone else. A wall to keep the beast within imprisoned for as long as it needed to be.
    He could not turn back the hands of time, nor change himself to such a grand degree in the present. What he could do is show his children the love that he had received from Harlin and Mona, his foster parents. The two who stuck beside him despite all the trouble he brought upon them.
    “Whatever you say tough guy. Though…even men need to have a good cry sometimes.
    “Now, let’s continue the story, shall we?”

    Talin limped over to the infirmary and stepped inside without a second thought. As he glanced around the room he noticed that the nurse was out and this brought him dismay. He recalled that she typically took her lunch break when the students did because they typically hurt themselves during recess, not before it.
    Perhaps he could just throw himself in a bed and sleep off the pain?
    He walked over to one of the beds and pulled aside the curtain to find that weird transfer student sleeping peacefully in it. His face changed from one of boredom to disgust almost instantly as she opened her eyes.
    “Ahh!” She cried out as she raised the blanket in a meager act of defense.
    “The expected reaction.” He said as he closed the curtain.
    “H-hang on Talin! I reacted like that because of your face!”
    He turned around and grimaced. “Doesn’t everyone?”
    She placed a hand to her face. “That’s not what I mean! You’re hurt again! Was it Argyle and his goons?”
    The Svartálfar sighed. “I am, and what and who and me have nothing to do with you, okay? I thought I made that abundantly clear every time you came around.”
    “If it has nothing to do with me then I’ll make it so!
    “What are you eve-” Before he could finish what he wanted to say she dragged him by the hand over to the bed and sat him down. “Look, I don’t need you doing all of these unnecessary things. If you’re here because you’re hurt that’s fine and whatever. Not my business. But I don’t need you going out of your way for me, alright?”
    “That’s why there’s a fine line between wants and needs, Talin.” She said as she took a cotton ball and some rubbing alcohol.
    “I neither want nor need your help, thank you very much. Besides you shouldn’t just be touching things without the nurse’s permission.”
    He was not in much of a position to stop her. He spent so much time in the toilet that the amount of blood he lost was a bit too steep for him to continue to remain conscious. To try and resist her help would push him to fainting.
    “It’s okay, I know all about first aid!” She said with a bright smile as she crawled on to the bed to get a closer look at his forehead.
    “You’re…you’re not even listening are you?”
    “I’m listening; I’m just pretending not to hear what you’re saying.” She began to dab at his wound and he swallowed the pain to avoid showing her any weakness.
    This free-spirited moron! Just who did she think she was and what in the seven hells was she up to? He did not ask for her help and she was dead-set on offering it at every interval.
    The idiot continuously attempted to bring attention to the fact Argyle and friends were bullying him, and she only brought attention to herself in doing so. He did not need her getting into a situation on his behalf to be on his conscience. If she just stayed out of it…
    “Talin…I won’t let this continue. I’m gonna find a way to get them to stop, I promise.”
    His mouth hung agape at her declaration for a moment, but he knew he could not entertain her flights of fancy or it would only get worse.
    “Don’t. Don’t do a thing. Hell, don’t even think about doing any more, okay? Just turn a blind eye to my dealings with Argyle and them and more importantly don’t get involved. Nothing good will come of it.”
    The smiling girl he had often found following him around had her lips pursed. “Not a chance! I can’t stand to see you hurting like this. You didn’t do anything to deserve this!”
    His eyes closed halfway at those words as he looked to the palms of his hands. “That’s what you think.”
    “I know you better than that. You wouldn’t.”
    What good did she see in him? She saw the victim, not the criminal. Everything he got, he deserved and it would remain that way for as long as he was willing to bring it upon himself. Whether she saw him for the terrible person he was or for the persona he maintained for those who were not involved, she had nothing to gain by getting involved with him. But she did have everything to lose.
    She was friendly, cute, pretty smart and really charismatic when she did not say anything strange or insist on seeing people’s future with her crystal ball. She had plenty of friends in class and without a doubt there would be more to come. To get caught up and caught with him would dwindle those numbers and leave her alone, just like him. To prevent that…his only choice would be to hurt her…so much so that she would keep away for good.
    He bit his lip for a moment and swallowed his pride. Her well-being was more important.
    He slapped her hand away and rose to his feet. His knee throbbed from where he hit it on the toilet and he nearly staggered but managed to retain his posture. Clenched fists and grit teeth, he looked over his shoulder at the surprised girl looking back at him.
    “What you’ve done for me thus far is…it’s enough already. I don’t want anything to do with you. I’m a Dark Elf, and we’re loners. I like being alone. I love fighting and if Argyle wants to bring his friends, let him do it I say! The more the merrier! If I get hurt, then I’ll just have to dish it back out twice as hard.
    “Now quit sticking to me already would you? You’re annoying.”
    She clenched her fist to her chest with that forlorn look she occasionally gave him, especially after being yelled at. Before he could walk away, however, he caught a glimpse of her mouth opening.
    “Why are you lying to yourself like that, Talin?” She asked.
    Her question gave him pause. She had seen right through him and he had no retort to the truth being laid bare in such a manner.
    “Lying?” He gave her a grin but even he felt that it was not as convincing as he would have liked. “Me? Ha! Yeah, right.” Without another word he left the infirmary as his false bravado wavered and he staggered over to a nearby stairwell.
    He slumped to the ground and placed a hand to his forehead as the world around him began to spin and distort. He closed his eyes slowly as his sight faded to black.

    “Mama cared so much…” Faust said thoughtfully. His legs swayed back and forth gently as he mulled the thought over.
    “She did. A little too much, really.” Talin added as he placed a hand to his face. Through his eye he caught a glimpse of Taliah sitting on the couch opposite to him, her chin in both her hands.
    “Taliah? When’d you get there?”
    “At that part where you were eating lunch,” She answered nonchalantly. So from the beginning then? She could have said anything if she was there that long.
    “O…kay then.”
    “So why was Mom glued to you anyway, Dad?”
    He gazed at her as he mulled over the possibilities. He could not help but notice that this time Layla was not sitting anywhere on her person and he felt both puzzled and conflicted at the sight.
    “Because she’s a-” He stopped himself. He was going to instinctively say ‘pervert’ but he did not want to give his children the wrong idea about her. If she was actually guilty of something, he would not hold back. “…weirdo.”
    He sighed gently as he crossed his arms. She had ample amounts of kindness to go around. So much so that it was dangerous. If she ran into the wrong crowd, they would certainly take advantage of that. As he got older he realized he could not bear to risk such an event coming to pass, and her desire to protect him became reciprocated with a burgeoning desire of his own.
    Taliah smiled at his words. “Well even I knew that. We’ve been around her long enough to see it for ourselves.”
    “Speaking of your mother, where did she get off to? The kitchen isn’t on fire, is it? You’re not hurt right?” He got up in a panic.
    His daughter looked a bit put-off by his sudden show of concern. “Relax Dad, nothing’s wrong. Layla and I had everything under control.
    “Anyway you don’t need to worry so much about her right now. You were in the middle of a story weren’t you? Keep going, I wanna hear the rest.”
    He sat down and knit his brows. “It really wasn’t much of a story though. More like a disjointed series of events about how your mother and I started dating.”
    She knit her brows in turn this time. “You really know how to un-fun things don’t you?”
    He had been called many things: Dark Elf, shit disturber, assface, even tainted. But this one, this one struck a chord in him the others did not. She really knew just how to take the piss out of him.
    “Your words hurt your father’s heart Tali.”
    “Y-you’re a tough guy aren’t you?! You should be able to handle that much!” She said defensively as she sat forward and frowned.
    Faust had a glint beneath his bangs that screamed ‘You reap what you sow’. This made his father smile wryly.
    He cleared his throat. “Well let’s continue then.”

    In spite of what he had told her, Kana doubled down on her efforts to stop the bullies and even moreso to get closer to him.
    As he was jogging on a Sunday morning he ran into a girl carrying around a bag and a cart full of newspapers all while biking. That troublesome transfer student was going at 120% today too.
    He had half a mind to take cover behind a tree, but while he waffled on the decision she took notice of him and rode over.
    “Talin! Hi!” She said riding and waving.
    He opened his mouth to say her name but opted out of the idea. To do so might show too much familiarity between them and it was the last thing he needed. “Transfer student! That’s dangerous!” He snarled as he came to a halt. “And wear a helmet, would you?!”
    She grinned as she stopped the bike and hopped off of it. She put the kickstand down afterwards.
    “You remembered my title! That makes me really happy.”
    His mouth hung agape. Just what was wrong with this girl?!
    He shook off the thought. “So why exactly are you delivering papers?”
    “It’s my job of course!” Her smile widened into a grin.
    Her response and face made it difficult to tell whether she was being smug or just generally nice. Either way, he was not fond of it by any stretch of the imagination.
    “I figured as much but…a student of our age range wouldn’t typically work, now would they?”
    “Well you do too.”
    “That’s different!”
    She smiled. “You know Talin, you remind me of my cat Bianca. It makes me wanna hug and kiss you!”
    He stepped back with surprise and covered his mouth with his almost-clenched left hand.
    “Wha-what kind of declaration is that?!”
    “You know,” She said as she raised a finger and spoke matter of factly, “cats nuzzle things to mark their territory. But they also do it because the scent that it leaves reminds them that they’re safe.”
    He smiled wryly. “Do I look like territory to be marked by you?”
    Her cheeks flushed and her eyes crinkled as she beamed—he eyed her warily as he took a step back in response to the sudden warm expression.
    “That’s the first time you smiled for me Talin.”
    “I-idiot! I wasn’t smiling for you! In fact, I wasn’t smiling!” He furrowed his brows and averted his gaze as his cheeks flushed in turn.
    “Anyway don’t you have a job to do? Quit using my being here as a reason to slack off!”
    He huffed before he ran off and she waved.
    “See you at school Talin!”
    “Don’t count on it, idiot!”

    Taliah had her eyebrows knit.
    “Wow Dad. You were putty in her hands, weren’t you?” She asked.
    “Are you kidding me? The harder she tried the more I avoided her. I hadn’t realized at the time that she was the walking embodiment of a Chinese finger trap. My avoidance only made her harder to shake off and next thing I knew we were stuck together.” He sighed as he chuckled gently. “Now I’m afraid to take my eyes off of her.”
    This made his daughter smile slightly. “Maybe I could learn a thing or two from her.”
    Her father eyed her with a look of terror in his eyes. “Learn? From her? Don’t do that! Ever! Especially if it has anything to do with boys! It doesn’t, right?”
    Taliah blushed in turn. “I’m not caught up with any boys, Dad! Gods!”
    She was safe…for now. But if any were caught dead with her he would keep a shrewd watch over them.
    “So why were you jogging Papa?” Faust asked as he laid his head down in his father’s lap.
    A bead of sweat ran down the man’s cheek.
    “You know how the television business is. Looking good is half the battle. I might not have been much of a looker but it didn’t mean I could be half-hearted about it.”
    It was a half-truth. The real reason he did so was to maintain his shape. Harlin had taught him self-defense because neither he nor Mona could stand to watch him get hurt and have no one take action against it. Upon doing so, however, he made Talin promise him one thing: that he would not use Harlin’s teachings to start a fight or to hurt others, but to end one and protect himself and those that he cared about.
    It was a promise only half-fulfilled, due to the fact that the sweet taste of revenge had clouded the young man’s judgement.
    Talin had reservations on sharing that with his children, but it may have been that event that solidified his feelings towards Kana…and one that truly set his fate in motion. Though he still was against it, he would tell them about it shortly.
    “I can’t believe you were on TV.” Taliah said as she placed a finger to his lips. He placed a hand to his chest with a pained expression. “With the way you and Mom went at it wouldn’t people be put off by your personality?”
    His daughter was a walking shotgun of insults. It was clear as day she did not mean what she said but the way she put it could make a grown man enter the fettle position after hearing her verbal abuse. In spite of his complaints however, she was right.
    He grinned mirthlessly. “You’ve gotta know how to have a TV personality. You are right, though. Thankfully there wasn’t much to document, and my foster parents were against any filming outside of the studios and such.
    “Paparazzi can’t really be kept in check, but sensationalist papers and magazines only draw so much attention. The only thing about me outside of my job that drew attention was your mother’s presence.” He closed his eyes as he leaned back. “As with people’s interests, the news has to be ever changing. You can only run a potential scandal so many times with the same girl before people get bored of it. It’s just the nature of news.”
    “I wanna hear about your scandals,” Faust said with a twinkle in his eyes.
    Talin chopped the boy’s forehead gently.
    “There wasn’t any.”
    Except for one. One that never saw the light of day—that very few knew, let alone remembered. One he felt better forgotten, but also that he recalled, given time…and many, many repeats of his life.
    “Anyway there’s another part I should share with you. Your mom and her ever-changing career.”

    Talin had picked up his sister from the bus stop and the two walked down to the plaza to drop by a McDonald’s. Mona had given him a bit of an allowance for going out of his way to look after her, and so he said he would take his sister with him to get something after school.
    By this juncture both he and Kana were in their teens and his career was steadily chugging along. He had half expected it to fizzle out, but the birth of Harlin and Mona’s child Belle breathed new life into his tired story.
    The two often showed concern about having a child, as their son was in fact adopted, but he assured them he would be glad to have a sibling. Though she cried often, as she got older they learned to get along.
    Talin pushed the door to the store open with his free hand and lead Belle with the other. As he walked up to the counter he looked over the items on the menu. Typically, he would settle for something small, but he got shaken down by Argyle and friends so his trip to the cafeteria was cancelled.
    “What do you want to eat Belle?” He asked as he looked down to the young Heliai girl holding his hand.
    “Ice Cream!” She said without a moment’s hesitation.
    He smiled at her. “Comin’ right up.”
    As he looked back to the counter he saw the transfer student with both her hands on her chin and her elbows on the counter. She had a smile that seemed to be goading him in some way or another, and his immediate response was to grimace.
    “Welcome to Mickey D’s!” She said with a bright smile.
    “You…what’re you doing here?”
    “I work here,” She said matter-of-factly.
    He sighed. She was inescapable. He would buy what he came to get and leave before she could get into her antics.
    “Is that your sister?” She asked with a twinkle in her eyes. “She’s so cute! Hi there!” Kana waved and Belle hid herself behind his legs.
    “Can I…can I place my order now?” He asked.
    “Sure! What can I get’cha?”
    “Number six…and a vanilla cone.”
    “Mm hmm…” She seemed to be placing the order in the register. In spite of her nature, she certainly knew how to do her job. “Would you like a smile with that?”
    “Yeah su-wait what?”
    She beamed and he furrowed his brows.
    “Say, Talin, you really like books right? I know a series you’re gonna love!”
    He frowned. “I don’t have any particular interests in novels…let alone anything you’d suggest. Only the gods know what kind of things you’d read.”
    “Come ooooonnn just give it a chan-”
    “Kana, now’s not the time to be socializing. There are more customers waiting.” A man in a light blue dress shirt working one of the other registers said to her. Judging by his appearance, there was little doubt that he was her manager. “Go get those fries and take the next customer’s order.”
    “Aye-aye boss!” She said as she saluted him and made her way over to finish Talin’s order. “By the way, here’s your total!”
    Did she really have such a casual attitude at her workplace? He had known her long enough to know how free-spirited she was just about everywhere else, but he thought this sacred place would tone her eccentricity down a notch. Apparently that was not the case.
    She returned with a bag and a cone in hand and offered them to Talin as he offered her the payment in turn.
    “Here’s your change.” As she handed it to him she leaned over the counter to whisper, “I snuck a few extra fries in. Don’t tell my boss, okay?”
    He looked on in disbelief as she stood on her toes to wave over the next customer. “Next in line?”
    Belle tugged on his uniform pants and held her hands out for the ice cream.
    “Ah…sorry Belle. Let’s get going.” He gave her the ice cream and the two made their exit, but not without Talin stealing a quick glance at the odd girl who worked the counter.

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    The Eccentric Anima's Legacy Empty Re: The Eccentric Anima's Legacy

    Post  TJ on Sun Oct 02, 2016 1:13 pm

    Pages 13-26:
    “What was with Mom and working all these jobs?” Taliah asked with a puzzled glance.
    Talin chuckled dryly. “She had to fuel her strange hobbies somehow.”
    “Like? Faust asked.
    “Cosplay…and buying graphic…everything? I mean you’ve seen it. The aprons, the shirts, the sweaters, everything. Your mom’s been a nerd for years before either of you were born.” Even the candy hearts. But they did not need to know about that little debacle…or Kana’s double yes sided pillows.
    Taliah laughed gently and Talin smiled. “She totally is huh?”
    “It’s a small part of the reason I worry about her.” Talin sighed gently. “She worked too hard to buy such menial items.”
    “Hey Dad?” Faust asked.
    “What is it twerp?” He asked in turn.
    “Do you ever miss Belle? And your parents too?”
    This question gave him pause. How many years had it been since he had gone to the Earth Realm? The last time he had returned was…to save Kana. He staked everything on that mission, and he knew in opening the rift between worlds he would make himself the enemy of both Human and Azen in the Earth Realm. He found himself fortunate that unlike his other selves he had made it there and back alive, as did she.
    Even so, during his visit he thought of them. The pain in his chest he felt as he looked upon his old home with a prolonged longing. By the time he had returned Belle would be entering her teenage years and would also be starting her preparations for high school. He could not help but wonder how his foster parents fared and how they were holding up without him.
    But even with all those feelings if there was any proof that he had been there, that they offered him refuge or even saw him would make them accomplices to his crimes. He could not leave any evidence of his being there, but he hoped that they knew he was alive and wishing them well.
    As he opened his eyes after reminiscing for a brief period he smiled somberly.
    “Truth be told, I do. I miss them plenty. But even if I can’t see them I’m willing to bet that they’re doing just fine. I do wish I could see them, but the most important thing to me right now is the present.”
    His somber smile quickly shifted into an impish grin.
    “And you know what that means. Keeping you troublesome dorks out of trouble. Especially that mother of yours!” He said as he tickled his son. Faust laughed as he tried to hold his father back, but to no avail. “When you two are strong enough to stand on your own I’ll think about going back home.
    “I can’t have you asking me ‘What’s a Canada?’ when I’m on my deathbed. In like 400 years or something.”
    “I still don’t know,” Faust said as he wiped his tears.
    “Oh you will. I’ll make sure of that.”
    He took a deep breath and exhaled.
    “Now then, here’s where things get a little…how do I put it? Weird. The bad kind.” He knit his brows. “Bear with me here, alright?”

    As Talin was leaving school Argyle and his gang crowded him and took him to a desolate portion of their school. It’s location was outside of the eyes of most of the student body, the teachers, and even outsiders.
    “Why’s your girlfriend on our case so much Talin?” Argyle asked as they cornered him against a wall. “She’s got the teachers and the principal sticking their noses into our business you know? If this keeps up, we might just get suspended.”
    There was little emotion in his eyes and his deadpan voice. “It hasn’t happened yet? What a good bunch of boys you are,” Talin answered.
    “You think this is funny, don’t you? Why don’t you call off your little girlfriend so we don’t have to teach her a lesson huh? Or we could teach you a lesson she won’t forget.”
    Freldin cracked his knuckles and Saloq grinned.
    “So the usual right? You lot hit like girls anyway so do your worst,” Talin remarked.
    Argyle tilted his head to Freldin and let him throw the first punch. His fist collided with Talin’s stomach and it caused him to cringe in pain for a moment as his bangs brushed over his eyes.
    His lips spread into a grin as he lifted his head and looked at them through his hair. “One more time, with feeling.”
    Freldin punched him across the face and as he reeled back he cracked his neck and wiped the blood that ran down his face.
    “That sure limbered me up. Wanna do the other side too?”
    Saloq kneed him in the ribs and though he doubled over he still rose up and grinned.
    “That the best you got? My little sister hits harder than the lot of you.”
    Argyle grabbed him by the face and slammed his head into the wall. “You must really like getting on our bad side huh Talin? Why not save yourself the trouble and become our gofer?”
    “Don’t you have enough pets as it is? I don’t wanna steal Freldin’s thunder.”
    The Yalen lunged at him and crushed him against the wall before he grabbed him by the shirt and hurled him against the concrete. Before he could continue someone ran over and stood in his way, both arms outstretched.
    “That’s enough, you bullies!” Kana stood tall wearing a fierce expression on her usually cheerful face. “I won’t let you hurt Talin anymore!”
    Freldin laughed as he nudged Saloq and Len Fii crossed his arms.
    “So you’ve decided to step up to the plate to defend the Dark Elf huh?
    “Why’re you trying to help him anyway? You know what they did.” Argyle said as he shrugged.
    “They. Not him! You just want someone to pick on, don’t you?! Well I won’t allow it!”
    He walked over to her and stood in her face, the young man easily towered over her and looked down on her. “You don’t think you could stop us, do you? A small thing like you?”
    She furrowed her brows further but said nothing. Her unrelenting expression spoke in response to his question.
    “You idiot…how many times have I told you to stop getting involved? We’re just having a friendly chat.”
    “You can’t fool me with wounds like that Talin. This ends now!”
    Argyle snickered as his lips curled into a grin. “Your voice is kinda grating but your face isn’t bad. Tell you what, you be my girl and we’ll leave the Dark Elf alone. That’s a pretty fair trade don’t you think?”
    Her expression brightened substantially. “Is that all I have to do?”
    The Herrenah raised an eyebrow before his grin grew wider. “Why not, eh? We could use someone without a sausage in the gang.”
    “Well in that case…how about…no. I wouldn’t look twice at you if I could help it. I don’t even think you’re worthy of masturbation material. I couldn’t even hate fap to you or any of your gang members.” Kana said as her demeanour immediately turned menacing.
    The look on Argyle’s face shifted from confident, to shocked, and then to enraged.
    “You think I’ll stand for your shit, bitch?!” He clenched his right fist and swung it backwards to hit her cheek.
    She hit the floor next to Talin and the rest of Argyle’s gang surround the two.
    “You had your chance. You’re not getting any mercy from us.”
    “Mercy?” Talin asked as he staggered to his feet. His expression remained unchanged but his entire aura seemed to emit a solemn fury. “The last thing I’d expect of you is mercy…and the last thing I’d ask of you.”
    He clenched his fists as he cracked his neck once more. “After all, if I asked for you not to hurt us, there’d only be room for sucker punches.
    “I won’t stoop to your level. Hitting a girl? That’s a new low even for you, Argyle. Hit me all you like, but raise a fist against her? I won’t accept that.”
    Argyle grinned. “You talk a big game, Talin! For some chump who’s been getting beat up by us for years you sure are acting tough now!”
    “I let you have your victories because people like you are weak. But not anymore! I’ll make all of you beg for mercy!” Talin raised his left fist and upon it a scar he had since his youth lit up a bright green. As it did so his veins took up the same colour and it slowly began to spread through his arm.
    “Get him!” Argyle snarled.
    “Just try it!” Talin roared.
    Without a moment of hesitation, he dashed towards Saloq and rammed his elbow into the Loctu’s stomach. He moved his head aside as Freldin threw a straight punch and crouched under his arm as he tried to catch him with a left hook. Talin rose with an uppercut that hit the Yalen’s chin and he leapt from the ground with a spinning kick.
    “Argyle!” He snarled as he pointed two fingers that emitted a bright green glow. They left a shimmering trail in their wake and when he completed the motion the ground beneath them trembled before it shattered and launched him towards the Herrenah.
    “What the hel-” He got three words in before Talin’s foot connected with his face and was immediately followed by the second. Argyle hit the ground hard and skidded across it with the Dark Elf atop him before Yen Fii pursued them.
    The Armana threw a punch but found the blow parried by Talin’s arm. Retaliating with his hands would only hurt him against the Armana’s body so he leapt off of Argyle to create enough space to kick him with the bottom of his shoe.
    “Your party tricks aren’t enough to stop us Dark Elf!” Freldin snarled as he returned with a vengeance.
    By this juncture Talin’s whole left arm was lit up and the veins extending to his torso began to gain the same effect.
    “I’ve got plenty more where that came from!” He turned to the approaching Yalen and drew another series of runes before he raised a hand.
    The ground before him shattered to pieces and a torrent of rocks was flung toward Freldin. His assailant was stopped in his tracks and he attempted to defend his face with his hands. In the wake of the spell Talin charged towards him to throw two rapid punches into his stomach. As he doubled over to recover Talin reeled a fist back and put the weight of his entire body in it to throw a punch at his face.
    “Who’s next?!” Talin snarled as the green glow spread across his other arm and up his neck. His face and fists both bruised and bloody but the look in his eyes one that spoke of revenge.
    “Talin.. you don’t have to do this…” Kana uttered as she picked herself up from the ground.
    He shook his head as he eyed his assailants. Freldin was down for the count. Yen Fii was able to get back up and seemed to be preparing to retaliate. Saloq would charge him in a matter of moments and Argyle was still picking himself up.
    “No…I do. I have to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again! I will!”
    “Don’t let him catch you off guard!” Saloq shouted to Yen Fii.
    “We shall attack alongside you!” The Armana declared as he levitated over.
    “Just try it!” Talin aimed his fingers in Saloq’s direction while keeping his eyes and right hand on standby to defend against Yen Fii.
    When he completed his next set of runes he turned to Saloq and clapped his hands together. The earth cracked and rose like spears to impale both of Saloq’s legs and cause him to stumble to the ground leaving a bloody trail in his wake. His agonizing screams sounded through the area and without a doubt would soon draw the attention of the others. Nevertheless, Talin would take any punishment that came with his actions that day.
    Yen Fii attempted a feint by drifting aside before coming into direct contact range of Talin but the defender did not move from where he stood. In place of it he watched up to the very last moment and shoulder checked the Armana.
    “Stay out of my way! It’s time I settle the score with Argyle!” He drew a new set of runes and with both hands outstretched them in their respective directions. The earth shook and opened up before him, then closed as he gestured for it to do so, trapping the Armana within the cracks.
    Talin’s entire body now lit up he looked at Argyle with a burning hatred.
    “I warned you. I warned you to leave her out of this. I won’t forgive you.”
    Argyle wiped the blood from his nose and growled. “You think I need your forgiveness?! I’ll just break those bones of yours! Let’s see you pull that shit when you’re being hospitalized!”
    “Try it, bastard!”
    Throwing caution to the wind Talin charged at him as Argyle did also. The two both threw a right hook and staggered each other with a blow to the face. As Argyle followed it up with a second Talin somersaulted backwards and leapt from where he stood to axe kick the Herrenah. Upon touching down he hopped backwards and spun around twice to follow it up with a roundhouse kick on the shoulder, then he finally lunged at him the same way he had Yen Fii but moments ago.
    “Let’s see who’s gonna be hospitalized Argyle.” He drew a new set of runes and raised both his hands above his head as a chunk of concrete rose into the air behind him.
    “Talin don’t!” Kana shouted as she got to her feet and ran towards him.
    The sound of helicopters and cars in the area drew his attention away from his felled enemy and as he did he caught a glimpse of a group of men in suits and riot police approaching from various directions. One of the suits pointed a gun at him and let it off. Before he knew it something attached itself to his clothes and an electric current ran through his body, causing him to release his spell and collapse to the ground.
    “Shit…” He muttered as his incapacitated body convulsed briefly from the shock.
    “Who…are these people…?” Kana asked as the police immediately closed off the area and a pair descended from the helicopter.
    They tied him up and gestured for the others within to haul him off. The incapacitated young man began his steady ascent into the helicopter as the suits immediately began to assess the situation and talk on their phones.
    Kana approached one of them and grabbed him by his coat.
    “Who are you? Where are you taking Talin?!” She asked frantically.
    The man ended the call and placed his phone in his pocket.
    “Are you hurt, Miss?” He asked. He was a human, but among them there were a variety of Azen also.
    “I’m fine! But I need to know where you’re taking Talin! What are you going to do to him?!”
    “That is top secret information. We will have to ask you to leave the premises. First aid will be administered as soon as possible.”
    “I don’t care about that, bring Talin back here you jerk!” She began to shake him and the police surrounded her and grabbed her by the arms before escorting her away. “Talin! Talin!”
    Her cries did not fall on deaf ears, but there was nothing they could do to bring him back down to the world below.
    As he was brought into the helicopter he caught a glimpse of another pair of men in suits. One of the two was on his phone and mentioned something about a code red and that they would be departing the extraction point immediately.

    Taliah blinked in disbelief while Faust’s mouth hung agape.
    “What happened next?” The boy asked with his fists clenched excitedly.
    Talin scratched his cheek gently. “It’s…hard to say. They gassed me. I’ve not the foggiest as to where they took me, but I certainly knew I was there when they took off the blindfold.
    “I dunno how long it was, but I do remember the events that unfolded. The brainwashing…the hypnotism…even the subliminal messages in propaganda, the works. They drilled it into my head that magic did not and could not exist in our world. I played along for the first little while but they didn’t buy into it. They continued their regime…what’d they call it again…’Re-education’?” He laughed mirthlessly.
    “They couldn’t risk me recalling those powers I had tapped into, because if a second event like that happened well…it’d likely be a domino effect. By the end of my time in their facility, I was a changed man.”
    His daughter crossed her arms as she knit her brows. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
    He smiled somberly at her. “I’d forgotten who I was.”
    “R-really?” Faust asked with his excitement diminishing into unease.
    Talin nodded gently. The points between his arrival and exit of the facility were events that were amiss in his memories, in all of them. But one thing that stood out was his return. The moment he stepped out of the car to meet with his foster parents before their house and to see Kana come riding over before getting off her bike with reckless abandon…to run to his side, to take his hands and see the puzzled and lifeless look in his eyes.
    “Talin! What happened to you?”
    He tilted his head slightly. “Do I…know you?”
    Tears welled up in her eyes as she looked from his to the magic sealing bangles that had been placed on his arms.
    Faust waved his hands in his father’s face as he said, “Midgard to Papa!” The actions and words snapped him from his reverie and he chuckled sheepishly.
    “Sorry, sorry, spaced.” He answered before he described what ran through his mind.
    “Those suits had told my parents and Kana that the effect would be temporary, but if not acted upon the lost memories would remain that way. During their re-education they cleared out my memories of the people and events I had come to know and gone through in my life. I’d forgotten about Harlin and Mona, Belle, Kana and even Argyle and his gang. In so doing, I had also forgotten everything I learned about magic through Mona’s notes and textbooks and also Harlin’s self-defense teachings.
    “That wasn’t the end of it, mind. That event marked the end of my career also. Throughout the papers, the magazines, even television shows and web shows people were asking where I had gone, some even speculating that I was dead. To the me then, it was no particular loss, really. I didn’t even know I was some kind of actor or whatever. Though by that juncture I didn’t even know myself.”
    Taliah pursed her lips and furrowed her brows at his words. “That’s just too mean, don’t you think? Why should they take away your powers? Those bullies were bothering you for years before you got back at them!”
    He placed a hand to his chin and the other to the elbow. “I suppose you could say that. Violence will often lead to more violence, but that doesn’t mean in my case it should have. I just made it so. I want you two to know that it should only be a last resort. I’m well aware how strong you can be and though nothing like that will happen to you, you may create enemies that will follow in the wake of those you defeated.
    “But!” He winked and raised a finger. “Knowing you two and who your mother is, the chances of that are unlikely. There’s a bit more to that story, but what followed it is a little long-winded so I’ll cut it short.
    “Pretty much, following the event your mother did everything she could to help me remember who I used to be. I thought her efforts were in vain, but she wasn’t born a quitter.” He smiled slightly. “When the two of us weren’t together I went through the attic in search of things that could jog my memory…and I found some of the papers Mona held on to that spoke of my mother back in the Old World. It felt like a tether to who I was, or who I had not realized I was. To that end, it became my reason for living and over the years I pursued anything I could find that mentioned her.
    “All the while your mother doubled down on her efforts and…before I knew it my cynical personality came back in full force. But…alongside that well…I guess you could say I found a lifelong friend. I had gotten so used to rebuking her ridiculous comments it became almost…routine. She just fit this strange void that my missing memories left in their wake. Her being there made me feel whole again.”
    “Did you start dating then?” Taliah asked with a slight twinkle in her averted eyes.
    “What? No! That was way too soon!”
    “What happened to Argyle and his gang?” Faust asked.
    Talin knit his brows. “Why are you interested in the strangest things?”
    “Because the strange things tell the most about you, I think.” He said with a smile.
    “Keh!” His father grimaced. “Argyle and his gang suddenly transferred out. There were only a few schools that had Azen in them within the metropolis, but they were spread out between the cities and boroughs. I hadn’t heard of them since, but there was no mention of my actions that day either, so I take it that they were sworn to silence in some way or another.”
    “So when did you and Mom start dating Dad?” Taliah asked with a hint of impatience dancing on the edge of her voice.
    “I’ll get to that…and by get to it I mean now. I’ve got other dad things that need doing. Also my legs are starting to get sore from your brother being on top of them.” He closed his eyes as he let out a sigh.

    Now in his mid-late 20s Talin ran through the streets of the city through familiar avenues to the house of his old friend. The sound of sirens blared through the night and searchlights from helicopters surveyed all over as he continued on his way. He was safe for the time being, but to return to Azenham he would need to enter a more populated area as that was where the mana concentrations were at their strongest…and it was his only means to open another portal.
    “We’re here Layla. You’re gonna have to hide for now. If Kana sees you she’s definitely gonna make a ruckus,” The man told his Fey companion.
    “Right away Master.” She flew around him once before she zipped underneath the hood of the cloak he wore and into the crown of his hair.
    “Not what I had in mind…but it’ll do.”
    He sighed before he took a running start at the tree sitting outside of the Altea home. He leapt at it and immediately shuffled his way up into one of the branches close to Kana’s room. He reached out to her window but the distance between him and it was far too great for him to tap on it.
    “Pain in the ass…” He muttered as he drew a short set of runes.
    A small group of pebbles took form before him and fell into the palm of his hand as the runes faded away. With his free hand he grabbed one at a time and threw them at Kana’s window in succession until the lights turned on. Shortly after the blinds were set aside and the Heliai girl squinted through the window at the shadow crouched in her tree. She lifted it up and he frowned.
    “You know I could’ve been a robber or a murderer or something right? You’re way too unguarded,” He hissed. It was no wonder some of the other Talins had been too late to save her and she fell into the hands of King Heinrichter and Dr. Truong. But perhaps…she had run into them expecting to find him.
    She placed both her hands to her face as she gasped and tears welled up in her eyes. “Talin?! It’s…really you!”
    “Yeah it is! Now grab your things and get the fuck over here!” Without a second thought she began to climb the window sill and he gestured to get back down. “That’s not what I meant, idiot! Use the front door!”
    He sighed. “Grab your most important things and some clothes for the trip. You can’t stay here—it’s not safe, so I’m getting you out of here.”
    “I’ll be riiiiiiiiiight there!” She said excitedly as she flitted about her room and packed her things up.
    He knit his brows. It was true that they had a very tight bond but he had hardly given her enough information to warrant him spiriting away and she agreed without a second thought. He felt guilty that he could not tell her everything that he knew as it would break the terms of his deal with God Ah, but he was thankful that she trusted him to such a degree. If they argued the point there would hardly be time before the special forces found and confined him.
    Ever since the Second Unification it seemed that the authorities cracked down on the dimension hoppers and they even had ways to detect anomalies in the flow of incoming and outgoing mana within the city. The moment he had stepped foot in it sirens were blaring and police were on the case. He was fortunate to have evaded them, but considering that he was still in a mage’s garb and carried Eirhern’s staff the chances of him being written off as a cosplayer were more than unlikely. That aside, he was the only Dark Elf that was once in the city and had become the only one to leave it.
    He eased his way down the tree as Kana exited with a knapsack on her back and locked her door.
    “I’m ready for our adventure Talin!” She said as she ran over and hugged him. She nuzzled him more than a cat that had not eaten in a week.
    “We’re not going on an adventure! And don’t cling to me, I can’t run like this,” He muttered. He managed to break her grip on him and he took her hand before he lead her down the avenue.
    “So where are we going anyway?” She asked.
    “Back to the Old World.” His eyes remained trained forward. He could not bring himself to look at her because he knew what he would tell her would wound her. “I know it’s sudden…you might not see your mom again but…I just need you to trust me on this. It’s for the best.”
    She smiled slightly. “I know.”
    He looked back to her with a puzzled expression. “What…do you mean…?”
    “I looked into Mom’s future. In it, I saw her return to an empty home. Just by seeing that I knew that I would have to go somewhere. But I’ve always had a feeling that my destiny would find me. That, and that you’d come back for me, Talin.”
    His cheeks flushed and he turned his eyes back to where he ran to avoid her smiling face. “O-of course I would! The gods only know what would happen if I left you alone any longer!”
    As the two made their way down towards a main street they found it blocked off my police. Cars, people and tape lined the way and he realized they likely had a majority of the perimeter covered. Unlike his Helios companion, he did not have the ability of flight, nor could he share it with his nearby allies.
    He grit his teeth and groaned as he turned back for the time being. Time was of the essence—Talin’s captain Bruce had said that the ship would remain docked until the following morning before they would set sail. Pirates were hardly welcome in any city and the reputation they had made for themselves preceded them. It took everything he had to convince his captain to stay docked for a single night so that he could take this journey to save Kana. If the two were left behind their pursuers would, without a doubt, kill them both.
    “The only way past the block is to get over it. This…is gonna get dangerous.” Talin muttered as he rubbed his arm.
    “I trust you,” Kana said as she beamed.
    “Well you shouldn’t! One wrong move and the two of us are gonna be street pizza,” He hissed.
    The two stopped in a nearby park and Talin considered the potential trajectory if the two were to be launched from where they were.
    “I have an idea. Layla.” At his words the Fey flew out from beneath his hood and took point before his face.
    “I am at your service, Master. What will you have me do?” She asked.
    Kana gasped and he placed a finger to her lips and shushed her. “I just need you to determine coordinates for the nearest spot with a high mana concentration. Scratch that, let’s say somewhere between near and far. Running distance, preferably. If we run into the cops or the special forces, we’ll be in a pinch.”
    “Right away, Master.”
    “I’ll have to have Grimhelka lend us a hand on this one.”
    He took a deep breath before he started drawing runes in the air. When he completed them he slammed the palm of his hand down into the grass as one of his arms lit up a bright green. The runes he had drawn surged into the ground and a magic circle took form before the runes on his arms seeped into the earth and filled the magic circle.
    “Grimhelka!” The ground lit up and a rusted bracer emerged as the head of the giant followed suit. “Hold it right there!” He said and the giant’s eyes peered at him from within its helmet. “Come too far out and we’ll be completely busted. I need you to throw us to the location Layla gives you. Layla?”
    She nodded and flew over to the giant’s ear to talk into it.
    “Guide my hand, tiny Fey creature.” He said to her and she nodded in turn.
    While Layla helped him to adjust the position and angle of his throw, Kana and Talin climbed the giant’s bicep and crouched down in the palm of his hand.
    “Don’t let go alright? Stay close too. I don’t want us to get separated.” Talin said to her, eyeing her from his peripherals.
    “Same here.” She said with a grin.
    “You know what I mean!”
    “Master, are you and your companion ready?”
    “Yeah. Do it, Grimhelka!” Talin shouted.
    The giant grunted before his hand started to move and as if he was throwing a shotput he launched the two through the air. As they had expected, they flew through the air, gaining altitude and speed as they continued their ascent and shifted into a steady descent. Both Kana and Layla screamed—one sounded like excitement and the other terror. The Fey held on to a few strands of her Master’s hair to avoid being blown away.
    “I…can’t…see a thing…with all this wind!” Talin uttered. “Layla, can you help us land?”
    “It’s taking everything I have to not be blown away Master!” She answered from within his hood.
    He reached back and took hold of her and covered her from the wind with his other hand.
    “My thanks!” She answered before she started drawing runes in his place. “There!” Once finished she pointed at the location where they would land and the runes surged forth ahead of them into the rooftop of a grey building. A portion of it cracked as roots took form and a flower grew from within. The petals spread open seconds before the three touched down and closed upon their landing.
    “Safe…” Talin muttered as he pushed the flower petals open once more and helped Kana climb down.
    “That was so much fun!” She said with a bright smile. “Let’s-”
    “Not ever do that again.” He dusted off his clothes and eyed the helicopters in the sky warily.
    “We have to get moving. Right now we’d be an easy target for those birds. Layla, can you guide us to our destination?”
    “Of course Master!” The Fey answered before she took to the skies to find them a way down.
    Layla made her way across the building to a set of stairwells that would ease them down to the ground. Talin took Kana’s hand and the two immediately made their way down them before he lowered the ladder and slid down to the bottom.
    “Jump down. I’ll catch you.”
    At his words she sat down at the top then slid off and felt into his arms.
    “A princess carry! How strong and daring you’ve become Talin!” She said with a chuckle.
    “This is no time for your jokes.” He muttered before he put her down.
    They followed the Fey through the streets and took cover in alleyways while police cruisers drifted by. It seemed that the police had chased off any passerby as there were few people and fewer cars that lined the streets. The stores were closed—even those that would have been open 24/7 had lowered their shutters and turned off the lights to close up for the night. Much to Talin’s dismay and somewhat his relief, the city was under red alert and the chances of him being sold out by any potential civilians was substantially lower. However, there was no shortage of people who were after them.
    The duo hid behind a statue while Layla took cover within his cloak as another pair of police cruisers passed by.
    “We’re close Master. Just a bit more!” Layla told him as she exited his clothes and flew away.
    “Good. I dunno how long Kana can keep going like this.” He said as he uneasily looked back to his comrade who ran and huffed with him.
    “Don’t worry about me, Comrade. Nobody would want a sex friend with poor stamina.” She said before she grinned through the beads of sweat.
    “I don’t think anyone would take you as a sex friend. Now save your breath would you?”
    Layla flew over into an alleyway between a smoke shop and a barber and placed her hand to the wall. “This is it, Master.” A blue glow was emanated from her hand and the wall in response began to release one that extended from the base of the building to where the Fey’s hand reached. Tiny spheres of light emerged from it following the event and she gave it an approving nod.
    “Thank goodness for that.” He said as he stopped in front of it and began drawing the runes.
    If his journal entries were any indication, at this juncture a group of special defense forces would discover him and pursue the trio through the dimension between worlds and into the Old World.
    The searchlight of one of the helicopters turned on him as it drifted by and it quickly turned around to point out his position.
    “You have been caught and are under arrest for misuse of illegal substances, breaking the Azen-Human Treaty and moving about the realm without the proper equipment! You have the right to remain silent and drop all weapons on your person or we will be authorized to use lethal force!” A man within the helicopter said as it hovered there for a few moments.
    They would do it anyway, the lying bastards! He had half a mind to summon Grimhelka and have him crush the helicopter but he had already made himself out to be a terrorist by crossing the dimension between Azenham and Earth. Crossing between the second dimension between the two would not help his case any, but his other selves had left an important note for him.
    To strike back and to kill any of them would result in more coming, more heavily armed and with the intent and sole purpose of killing them. There were at least two Talins who had retaliated, one of the two died fighting alongside Kana and the other had gone mad with grief after losing her and shot himself to join her in death. He did not want to be either.
    He hastily drew the runes and drowned out the voice of the man in the copter before the portal finally opened. Ropes fell from the vehicle and people heavily armoured descended to the ground while Talin took Kana’s hand once more.
    “Don’t you dare let go of my hand y’hear? If I lose you in Oblivion I’ll never be able to find you!” The dimensions that separated their worlds were named Oblivion and Oublier respectively, and after the first Vanir spent years drifting through the latter prior to striking a deal with God Ah, those that followed felt certain it was not a place that any of them would want to have an extended stay in.
    “I’m right here with you Comrade.” She said as she smiled.
    He felt like his heart would be ripped out of his chest at the sight. In a matter of moments, she could die and once again he would have to live on without her. Just like many of the others before him. Without another moment to spare he leapt through the portal that opened and into the distorted world before him. Streaks of mana like water paint lined the black backdrop of the infinity before them as they began a slow but sure descent towards another portal that opened within the dimension.
    “Hold it right there!” The voice of a woman in a riot suit shouted. To add insult to injury, it seemed that their outfits were enchanted with a variety of runes and some accessories that likely offered them magical protection. She was followed by two others and without a doubt, it would not be the end of their force.
    Talin looked back and grit his teeth. He pulled Kana close to him and cradled her in his arms—if they had the gall to shoot, they would have to pierce his body to harm her at all. Much to his surprise, the two had passed through the second portal and tumbled into the grass just outside of Leisym’s Cove. The spacious area once housed the slightly renown Port Town Pirates but now stayed abandoned after their defeat by the hands of the crew of the Shrieking Banshee.
    Without a moment of hesitation Talin got to his feet and pulled Kana along as he drew a new set of runes.
    “Come, Kirin!” He shouted as he placed a hand to the ground. Alike to Grimhelka’s summoning, runes lit up upon his legs and entered the magic circle before him. In a series of flames his summoned creature took form and he immediately ran over and mounted it, offering Kana a hand up afterwards.
    “There’s no time to waste! Let’s go immediately!” He said as the summoned being immediately rushed off.
    He looked back and caught a glimpse of the special forces units pointing their handguns at him. His heart seemed to jump at the sight. He lowered his head as the sound of their guns went off and he looked back to Kana who looked to them. He placed a hand to her head and pushed it down before he wrapped her arms around his waist.
    “Keep your head down, idiot! Kirin, faster!”
    The ship was within sight. If he could just reach it…
    Even so, the thoughts of retaliation danced in his mind. But he feared what casting magic could do now. One wrong move and he could lose her again. He clenched his fist and set his eyes forward to the docks just off the path of the small town Through the sound of gunfire and Kirin’s hooves clapping against the grass he prayed to the gods with all his might that Kana would survive this trial.
    “Bruce!” Talin shouted at the top of his lungs. “Bruce! Raise the anchor!”
    He caught a glimpse of the captain as he appeared at the aft with a telescope in hand and eyed the surrounding carefully. He lowered the telescope with a look of disbelief before he turned back to the other members of his crew and issued commands.
    The sails unfurled, the anchor was raised and as Bruce disappeared a masked Naga in a hippogryph leather jerkin took his place. With a wave of her hand the gourd on her back unleashed a short torrent of water and she immediately drew a short set of runes. The water took its place before her and became a frozen bow. As she pulled the string of it back an icy arrow took form and she let it loose. The arrow soared through the sky and shattered the barrier that surrounded one of the three enemy units and pierced their chest. She drew the string back once more and two arrows took form before she let them fly, killing the other members.
    “He’s so cool!” Kana said with a twinkle in her eyes.
    “That…that’s a girl.” Talin muttered. Thank goodness for that.
    They disembarked from Kirin’s back and made their way up the gangway to meet with the pirate captain.
    A tall human with chestnut hair, blue eyes and a handlebar moustache greeted them. He wore a navy blue frock coat, a white cravat and violet dress pants over leather boots.
    “You’ve returned to us Heinrichter and with time to spare. I take it that this is your friend?”
    “My name is Kana Altea. It’s a pleasure to make your acquaintance…?” She asked as she held out a hand.
    “‘Blunder’ Bruce Milliner. Call me Bruce, Lass.”
    “It’s a pleasure, Bruce!” Kana said with a smile.
    Talin eyed her warily. He had been away from her for five or so years and she suddenly gained an affinity for polite speech? Had he entered the twilight zone and not realized it?
    The Naga, Smith, approached and crossed her arms before him. Her crimson eyes glinted through the artifact mask she wore on her face—a single crimson tear ran down the left eye of the white mask. “Are those pathetic soldiers from the Earth Realm, Heinrichter? I had greater expectations for its warriors, but even armed with guns and enchanted armour they hardly posed a threat,” She said.
    The Naga were well known for their abilities to survive both on land and sea. Alike to the Yalen, they could shape-shift to such a degree that they could survive in the regions most races dared not visit, and if they did so did not remain in. Their webbed hands and feet along with their tails allowed them to swim under water with ease and their eyes allowed them to see through the ocean’s darkest depths.
    “But you, who have fought the Sages alongside us struggled to defeat even one of them. Truly a pathetic sight,” She continued.
    His mouth hung agape at her words. He did not even care about being a good fighter, but her words still stung his pride nonetheless.
    A Heliai girl stepped out of the superstructure with a puzzled look. Alike to many of the others, she had silver hair and no iris or sclera to speak of. Also very much unlike the others, she wore dark blue overalls, an oil-stained grey shirt, a crimson bandana with her workshop’s logo upon it and carried a series of tools in her pockets.
    “What? We’re moving?” She asked as she stepped onto the deck.
    “Zosia…” Heinrichter said with an exasperated glance.
    “Hey, you’re alive! And a new girl too! Am I finally gonna get promoted? Sweet!” She fist-pumped. “By the way, you look like you’ve seen a ghost, Hein.”
    “Kana and I had to run for our lives from the SDF.” He sighed as he rolled his shoulders. “I had to use Kirin like a mount again. It’s a bloody miracle that she didn’t scold me about it.”
    “Wait the SDF? Those guys from your realm?! Where are they?!” Zosia frantically looked about and caught a glimpse of Smith walking away as she returned her dismantled weapon’s water to its gourd. “Did Smith kill them? Where are their corpses?!”
    “Back on the mainland…” He answered as he pointed to where they departed. “Why?”
    “They have technology!” She cried as she ran to the aft of the ship. “Technology we’ve never seen before! Do you know what I could do with that?!”
    The Svartálfar grit his teeth. “I’d rather not.”
    “Bruuuuce!” Zosia complained as she slunk down to the ship’s railing with a defeated expression.
    “I will not turn the ship back.” The captain answered as he knit his brows.
    “Your crew seems like a lot of fun Talin.” Kana said with a smile. “I think I’m gonna like it here.”
    He covered her mouth and placed a finger to her lips as he shushed her. “Don’t use that name here! Or at least not where anyone can hear you.
    “And you will like it here, ‘cause this ship is loaded with misfits and weirdoes.” He smiled wryly. “Hell, I’m willing to bet you’re gonna fit right in.”
    “It would be in your best interest to introduce yourself to the crew, Lass.” Bruce said with a sweeping gesture of the ship. “We are pirates, after all. I can assure you that my crew does not take lightly to stowaways.”
    The young Heliai saluted him. “Aye aye Cap’n!” She smiled. “I mean, arr matey!”
    Talin could not help but smile wryly at her ‘correction’. It seemed that she too, had to learn that the pirates she knew of from storybooks were not anything like actual pirates.

    Talin had decided to take refuge in the captain’s quarters for a brief period as he went over Vanir’s journal entries. He flipped through a series of entries that had reached this juncture in time, but despite how many had lived to see this point, there were very few in particular that had made it thus far alongside Kana.
    Most who had had already been cursed by the Sage of Darkness and the keeper of the last temple that Bruce and his crew were to visit—The Exile of Svartálfheim. The two remaining Sages, Shea and her sister Eve were the most dangerous of them all and to kill the former invoked the ire of the latter. Something most Talins had done.
    The end result? He was cursed. The effect corrupted his mind and body from the inside out, slowly but surely turning him into an Animus Legio. The secondary effect was that in his dreams he would see his death—every potential way he would die in the future both near and far. Be it a mercy killing by his own companions, to fall by the hands of the Kingsguard, the King himself, or to the Sage of Darkness upon their meeting.
    Upon Kana’s death, she sacrificed both her soul and her treasured crystal ball to remedy the effect that stemmed from his eye. It was not an absolute cure, but with that and the use of the scarf she had given him, he could keep the ability under his control and use it to glimpse into the futures of those he locked eyes with. The ability strained him to do so, so it was one used infrequently, but thanks to it his many sleepless nights had come to an end. However, an eternity of suffering followed in the wake of his beloved’s death, and upon it he had sworn himself to avenge her, whatever it took.
    Those that had not lost her by this point did so shortly after. At times she was mislead by people who promised her power in turn for her cooperation, and in some she had fallen during battles at sea and invasions of the ship.
    He closed his eyes and intertwined his fingers. How was he to keep her from her old ways? He had become strong enough to protect her, but her desire would not likely be so easily diminished. The best way, would perhaps be to intervene before things got out of hand. To oversee her becoming a class, to look out for her during battles and ensure that no shady people could find their way to her while he was away…could he manage such a feat? He could not take her with him into the Exile of Svartálfheim, nor into Convexa Legio. Before any of the events that took her life occurred, he would need to see her growth through himself.
    His reverie came to a sudden and abrupt halt as the sound of knocking at the door drew his attention. He clapped the book shut and it vanished in a sphere of mana that dissipated into a series of sparkles.
    “Come on in,” He said.
    A notebook held by pale hands lit with blue veins and glowing tattoos appeared within the door frame. “Am I being a bother?” It read.
    “No, not at all. Come on in Zavela.” He answered with a thumbs-up.
    A Helios girl drifted in as she smiled and waved. She wore a white coat with crimson feathers that lined the neckline and hood. Upon her head she wore a gainsborough hat with a black veil, matching beads and a series of red roses that lined the front of the hat. She wore a knee-length ruffled skirt and thigh-high white boots beneath it. A black marker rested in one hand and the notebook in the other. The way she remained in the air made it almost seem as if she was sitting on a leaning, invisible chair.
    The Helios, a closely related race to the Heliai had quite a few features that separated them. Their magical capacity that revealed their mana veins, their slightly-pointed and short ears in comparison to the long, wilting and pointed ears of their counterpart, their tendency for flight and their tattooed skin. However, both worshipped the same goddess, that being Alsaana. Their ideals about her differed.
    It was Zavela specifically that did not speak. That, as it would be with any other race was an uncommon trait that made her stand out among the others. Though sister to Zosia, their parents hailing from each respective place gave the siblings differing upbringings and the end result was as follows.
    Without further ado she scribbled onto the next page and held it out for him to see. “I met your friend. She’s cute,” It said.
    He smiled wryly. “Most of the time. If she asks you to look into your future you can say no. There’s no need to feel guilt over turning her down.”
    “I’ll keep that in mind,” She wrote.
    “Was there something about her that caught your eye? Or did you just come to see me after I got back?” There were some who wished to follow him to the Earth Realm but he deemed it a dangerous and unnecessary risk.
    She pursed her lips as she wrote something else. She turned the notebook back to him and it read, “It’s about those manacles that she wears. I can’t say for certain…but they seem to have runes engraved in them for sealing magic.”
    It was nigh impossible to trick a Helios when it came to anything magical. There was hardly a thing they did not know about it, and considering that their region held the greatest library in all of Azenham there was precious little room for doubt.
    “Good eye.” He said as he rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s something the people of our world wear…for that specific purpose. As I’ve mentioned before, the Humans there don’t use magic. Rather they’re terrified of it and what the Azen can do with it. I suppose you could call it balancing the scales.”
    He once wore them too, prior to his arrival in Azenham. It was thanks to Bruce’s efforts and the help of some shady dealers that he was able to take them off. That and it allowed for him to become a Summoner.
    “I take it that you wore them once upon a time also?” He nodded at her question and she began writing again. “You’ll remove hers too, won’t you?”
    “As soon as possible. I’m sure she has some magical ability. I just hope it doesn’t go out of control when we do.” He was more concerned about her going out of control, but there were things even she could take seriously. That aside, it may have been a stepping stone to preventing Kana from seeking out the aid of someone she should not trust.
    “I would expect no less from you, First Mate Heinrichter.”
    “I’m just a first mate in name only. I don’t do much, really,” He chuckled.
    She smiled at his words. “I’ll leave you to your devices. Hackett may be in need of my help and I don’t want to keep him waiting. That, or leave the crow’s nest empty for too long.”
    Good man, that Hackett. “Sure thing. See you around Zayela.”

    Later that night Talin made his way to the deck and heard the sound of someone playing a lute. Most of it was lost amidst the sound of Bruce and Cattleya, a Herrenah who had proven herself skilled enough to become a Dragoon. Also one that had proven her stomach girded enough to compete with Bruce in drinking contests…to which they engaged in at that very moment.
    He sighed and shrugged at the thought that things were the same as always, save for the addition of his long-time and beloved friend. Where he expected to find Zayela playing the instrument, he saw the lone Heliai girl with her hands to the strings solemnly playing in the moonlight. As he approached the sounds of everything else around him faded away and he heard the sounds of her song. That which she had spent years composing.
    “Kana? How did you wind up with that?” He asked as he approached.
    She opened her eyes and smiled at him. “Zayela lent it to me. She said since she became a Maestro she didn’t use her guitar anymore.” She answered as she grinned.
    “That’s not a guitar,” He answered matter-of-factly. “That’s a lute.”
    “They’re both in the string family,” She huffed.
    He hated to admit it and opted not to, but she was right about that.
    “Also can you believe it Talin?!” She clenched her fists with a twinkle in her eyes. “The classes here are just like they are in the game! Bruce asked me if I wanted to become a pirate but I think I wanna learn to be a Bard.”
    He smiled as he scratched his cheek. He did know. He was an Invoker, and had gone from the base class of being a Summoner to that juncture in his journey.
    “So how come you didn’t become a Necro?”
    This gave him pause. “Summoning undead in a game is all fine and dandy but doing it for real is a little on the strange side, don’t you think?” That aside, he would have to go through even shadier channels to find someone who would teach him the dark arts.
    “I guess…” She said as she pursed her lips.
    He chuckled gently. After spending so much time venturing through the realm, having a normal conversation with a friend from the life he cast aside was refreshing. He cherished those moments and he felt certain there would be more to come…that is, if he could keep Kana alive long enough for that to occur.
    She tilted her head quizzically as she looked to him. “What’s wrong Comrade? Is there something on my face?”
    “Yeah.” He said as he reached out to her. “It’s this.” He tapped her nose with a finger in an upwards gesture and she flinched before she covered it.
    “That was uncalled for…” She muttered.
    “You asked, I delivered.” He answered with a smug grin.
    “I can deliver for you too. Your children, that is.” She said as she winked and stuck her tongue out.
    He covered his face due to the second-hand embarrassment. “The years haven’t done a thing to you, have they?”
    She grinned as she made an OK sign with her fingers. “I’ve got enough gems to make up for all of our lost time, Comrade!”
    “Well isn’t that a treat?” He asked as he smiled wryly.
    As he looked at her smiling face through his fingers the thought that he had to and wanted to protect her burned ever stronger. The realization that there were more things than death that could create a chasm between them…and in so doing, their close relationship would come to an end. He found himself lucky that such an event had as of yet come to pass, but he did not have any certainty to that claim. The only thing that he had to go on was that she had not mentioned anyone else that she held precious in the Earth Realm.
    Perhaps there was something right now that he could do—something that he could act upon to give him the means to protect her without a greater need for power.
    She was strumming the guitar once more and stopped abruptly to look to him. “Uh-huh?”
    “I…” He turned his eyes to his shoes as he rubbed the back of his neck. “You know…”
    “Yeeeees?” She answered as she looked at him smugly. Was she on to him?
    “Umm…Azenham’s a pretty dangerous place, you know.” He said as his cheeks began to feel hot. “S-since you’ve got those manacles on still you can’t use magic. S-so stay close to me alright? If things get bad, that is.”
    She saluted him. “Aye-aye sir!”
    He would have to be clearer than that if he was to get his point across. He had been through it plenty of times before, why was it so difficult now?
    “L-look, what I’m trying to say is…is…you know…” He covered a portion of his face with his hand as he tried to get his thoughts in order. “I…I’ll protect you! No that’s not right…I want to be the one to do it. Urgh…” He sighed. “If some better looking and stronger or more muscular jerkface comes along and sweeps you off your feet, then…well there won’t be a need for me. I’d rather not be a third wheel. That’s weird, right?”
    “Go on,” She said beaming.
    His embarrassment increased a hundredfold and he instinctively glared as he tried to utter what he felt.
    “I….you…just…let’s just date already, okay?!”
    It did not come out as he had hoped, but he managed to do it. He huffed less so out of frustration and moreso as a release to all of his pent-up unease.
    She beamed as her cheeks flushed. “Sure thing, Talin.”
    He blinked in disbelief. He had expected her to have her reservations on the matter after all they had gone through. She never showed any particular romantic interest towards him, unless her bad jokes were meant to be romantic in some way, shape or form. On the other hand, she had turned down all of her admirers under the pretense that any men or women with more than two dimensions were not in her strike zone. To add insult to injury, she acted as his wingman on more than one occasion, and helped him through every breakup.
    “H-hold on a second. You’re actually okay with this?” He asked as he eyed her warily.
    “Of course! Why wouldn’t I be?” She asked with a genuine smile and a puzzled head tilt.
    “I mean, what about your ideals about men with more than two dimensions?”
    “That was just a joke!” She laughed.
    His mouth twitched at her response.
    “What about all those other girls you said were interested in me?” They actually were. She knew, and she was the one that helped him get together with them.
    “Isn’t it normal to hook your friends up?”
    His eyebrow twitched. Not exactly what he meant, but it was clear as day that was what she believed and exactly what she did. Of course, that did not mean that the relationships all ended on a happy note.
    “Didn’t that bother you? Like at all?” He squinted. “Are you just agreeing to this because I asked?”
    She shook her head gently. “That isn’t it. I’ve always felt this way towards you.”
    His mouth hung agape, partially out of surprise and the other out of disbelief. He grabbed her cheeks and began to pull them.
    “You mean this whole time I’d held back thinking that I didn’t stand a chance with you and you were into me all along?! Give me all those years of concern back!”
    “Noooooo the talonsh have come out!” She laughed as he pulled her cheeks. Eventually her smile shifted into a worried expression. “H-hang on Talin thash not it!” She gripped his hands and attempted to stop him.
    He pursed his lips. “Explain and you shall be spared.” He let go of her cheeks and she rubbed them gently.
    “The reason I didn’t was because it wasn’t the right time.” She smiled gently and he raised a brow. “We’ve been together all these years and I got to see you grow and change.”
    She gently strummed the guitar once as she looked down to her shoes. “When you had forgotten me, I felt like the chance had passed me by. But if we had started dating before then and you forgot, it would hurt even more.
    “By then, the Talin I knew was gone and someone else had taken his place. Before I took the chance to be yours, I wanted you to find yourself first.” For once her cheeks flushed out of embarrassment and not out of laughter or joy. “I knew there would be other girls in your life…and that was okay. I knew it would be hard for you, falling in and out of love like that…but as you did, you changed little by little. You confided your fears and doubts about your relationships with me and through that I came to know what concerns you might have had if we were to have been the ones dating at the time.
    “I realized years ago the Talin I knew might never return, but I also realized that there would come a time where you might look my way. The experiences you had gone through up to that point would make you become the best you could be…and I can’t say that I wouldn’t like to see you at your coolest and most confident. And if at that time you came back to me then…I’d be the happiest girl in the world.” She smiled with flushed cheeks. “And just like a prince in shining armour you came all the way from Azenham to get me.”
    He looked at her in disbelief and shame because he had underestimated her. The idiot…he was looking her way this whole time thinking that she had eyes for someone else. However…she was not wrong. He did not think he was good enough…on most occasions. That was but one among several other doubts he carried in his relationships and she knew them all. If her words were any indication, she believed that after going through his experiences that sooner or later he would overcome his weaknesses and moments of self-doubt. To think that she had thought things out to such a degree…he really did not give her enough credit…and yet at the same time she was an enigma he could not begin to fathom.
    “You…you did all that for me…?” He rubbed the back of his neck. “I dunno what to say…I mean…honestly…could’ve just told me sooner…” He muttered under his breath. He really did not know what to say and his tendency towards snarky remarks took over. He needed to rethink his opinion of her and how he spoke to her.
    “There’s no need, Comrade!” She grinned. “But since we’re officially dating now you don’t have to have any reservations about my requests right?”
    He let out a sigh of slight exasperation and defeat. “I suppose…” He muttered as his irises shifted across his sclera. “So? Ask and ye shall receive.”
    She smiled with delight. “Well then, how about you and I find somewhere quiet so you can tongue-punch the whispering eye, hmm?”
    His mouth fell agape. He was about ready to take back all of those thoughts he had about her just a moment ago.
    “Absolutely not! You’re incorrigible, you know that?!”
    “Ehh…?” She groaned in disbelief. She pressed her fingers together as she downcast her gaze and mulled over his rejection. “Well maybe that’s a bit too high level for people who started dating…”
    “You think?” He asked with a long sigh.
    “Furious petting?” She suggested.
    “Not a chance!”
    “You’re a tough nut to crack, Comrade.” She said as she placed her index fingers to her head and tilted it somewhat.
    “For good reason…” He muttered as he smiled wryly. To think that she would call him Comrade even after they started dating…her requests were as outrageous as ever, however. Thankfully, she did not suggest anything too extreme this time around.
    “I’ll settle for tonsil hockey.” She said as she looked to him through upturned eyes.
    Despite her perverted words, the expression was certainly cute, if nothing else. “Well I won’t. Although…”
    Her demeanour brightened substantially at the final words and he reeled back in shock.
    “I won’t deny you completely.” He said as he looked into his peripherals. “But you have to close your eyes.”
    “Sure thing! Lay it on me, Comrade!”
    He placed a hand to her chin as she closed her eyes. He gently leaned in as he reconsidered his options. The two had just started dating. He opted out for a gentle kiss on the cheek before he let her go and made a hasty retreat.
    “That’s all you get for now! I’m a busy man after all!”
    She placed a hand to her cheek and smiled. “That’ll do just fine.”

    Posts : 895
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    The Eccentric Anima's Legacy Empty Re: The Eccentric Anima's Legacy

    Post  TJ on Sun Oct 02, 2016 1:14 pm

    Pages 26-35:
    The present Talin looked up to the ceiling as he looked back on the memories fondly. In spite of her settling for that, though, she came back with a vengeance the next time they docked. She had found a use for some of the ship’s spare coils of rope that she mentioned could be used for S&M play but he was completely averse to that. She at least gave him that much leeway.
    He sighed as he chuckled dryly. He had to exclude the end portions of the story for the sake of the kids’ innocence but he found those portions hard to forget.
    “So what happened next?” Faust asked looking up to his father through parted bangs.
    “You don’t need to know what happened next, Twerp. That’s it! That’s the whole story in a nutshell. What more could you ask for?” Talin asked as he glared at him.
    “To hear more about your pirate adventures of course!” The boy said with flushed cheeks and a bright smile.
    He was so much like his mother it irritated his parent.
    “I have better things to do than go through all of those with you. Besides, you’re way too young to hear about any of that, don’t you think?”
    “I don’t think so…” He muttered as he pursed his lips.
    “Yeah of course you don’t.” He chuckled dryly.
    Taliah crossed her arms. “So what did you do differently Dad? I mean, why didn’t you get cursed by Eve by that point in time?”
    Talin left that part out too for them. Too violent for kids…and yet she knew about his becoming Vanir in spite of all of it. He had the sneaking suspicion that his little brat of a son spilled the beans to his sister.
    He blew a couple strands of hair from his eyes. “I had to talk my comrades out of killing her when we fought her. Most of the time when we had, that was…more or less unavoidable. Those that had succeeded did not often succeed in convincing her that our cause was just.
    “I think what sold her was that we believed we could free the Anima from the curse. Whether she would buy into my story or not varied.”
    He could not help but think a major part of his successes across dimensions was heavily based around luck. To that end, he feared treading in the steps of his predecessors too heavily, as should one event divert from what he had come to expect all hell would break loose.
    “So I guess being nice to the people you meet is the best way to be a good adventurer huh?” Taliah asked with a slight twinkle in her eye.
    “Right you are.” He answered with a smile.
    “Though you shouldn’t have made Mom wait so long before you told her you liked her, Dad!” She said as she furrowed her brows.
    He held his hands up in surrender as he frowned with a hint of guilt. “Well it wasn’t entirely my fault.”
    “But didn’t you always say that a man shouldn’t shrug off the blame if he had a part to play in an event where things went wrong?” Faust asked with a genuine curiosity.
    The Svartálfar grit his teeth. “I may have said something like that.”
    Their storytelling session was quickly turning into an interrogation. The only reason he said something like that was to get Faust to admit that he broke a tea cup…and so that he would come clean about his mistakes going forward.
    “You really should be more honest Dad. Lying is a bad, bad habit,” Taliah scolded him.
    He closed his eyes in bitter defeat before he lifted his son and hurled him onto the couch across from him and next to his daughter.
    “That’s enough scolding your father don’t you think? Father’s Day is all about worshipping your benevolent and wonderful dad! Now then, I’m off!”
    Without another word he fled to his study as his children laughed about his sudden departure.

    Vanir’s journal sat open before him as he wrote a shimmering trail of words with his finger. The chance that another Talin may have found his way to this juncture in time was not something he was willing to rule out. However, it was something he had done so much it had become something of a habit for him.

    Little to my surprise, the children’s growth has been progressing rather quickly. To think that Faust could manifest that much of his armour at his age is impressive, to say the least. It seems that he can only maintain that amount for a brief period, but I’m sure given a couple years he’ll be able to summon all of it for extended time frames. In truth, I would like to see it.
    Still, for a time I had thought Kana had spent the better half of her time simply playing with the children, but perhaps she had been sneaking in lessons when I hadn’t been looking. With how free-spirited she is, I would imagine that her teaching would be simply incomprehensible…though there is no denying that there’s some method to her madness.

    He paused for a moment as he tapped his chin with his finger a couple times thoughtfully. He was good at most subjects, save for math and geometry. She often took the time to teach him those subjects, and he everything else. Save for anything in physical education.
    He sighed audibly. He could not help but wonder if she really did not understand the subjects or she just wanted to spend time bothering him. She certainly knew how to get her way, whatever the reason.
    Even still, the young Anima was adept at a variety of things and magic was one of those very things. Despite his origins as the hero Eirhern reincarnate, she had become stronger than him in less than half the time it took him to master being a tested and true Invoker. It stung his pride somewhat.
    As he turned his eyes back to the journal he noted that the most recent thoughts he had were marked down within and he grimaced almost instantly. With the finger he used to write he underlined the words and erased them with a swipe of his hand.

    Even so, both in their training as Anima and as their respective classes, they’ve grown so much. I’m sure it won’t be long before Taliah takes up her first Contract with a spirit…but about their Oaths…I still feel unsure. It’s not unusual for High Elves to have Fey familiars and I…may have been an exception, being a half, but the kids have even less High Elf blood than I do. I’d rather they not face the sting of that rejection at such an early age…but I’m reluctant to avoid my side of their bloodline for too long.
    With some certainty, Faust will likely ask me about it in good time, especially since he’s beginning to grasp a clear understanding of what it means to be an Anima. Taliah seems more interested in becoming a better Summoner and her bond with Layla may take priority of having an Oath with a Fey of her own but…how should I proceed? Is it too much too soon? Or is it better to do things from an early age? What would Mother have done if she were here now?

    A gentle knock at the door roused his from his reverie and he immediately clapped the book shut before it vanished.
    “Who goes there?” He asked as he spun on his chair to face the door.
    “It’s meee!” Faust said from the other side, moments before he opened it.
    Talin frowned. “Watch what you pick up from her y’hear? That could spell bad news.” It would likely be the case if the roles were reversed, as in, him saying what his father would. Kana had a penchant for safe words. Should the children enter the room when he was not present, there was a 75% chance they would find their mother in some state of undress. There were many and more things they knew, however that was something he prefer not be burned into their memories.
    “Mom says a lot of memorable things though.” The boy said beaming.
    Talin placed a hand to his face and sighed. “You don’t know the half of it.
    “So? What has you skulking into my study, Twerp?”
    He clapped his hands together with a look of realization. “Right! I was looking for Taliah but I haven’t been able to find her. I’ve also been sensing a lot of spiritual mana around the house.”
    The Svartálfar knit his brows. There was no way she would go to the Spirit Realm without Layla. She was too untrained to open a portal herself, let alone hold her own there. That aside, Layla was with Kana…right?
    “Are you sure she just didn’t go out? Was the door locked?” She did tend to forget that.
    Talin waved him off. “You’ve just been watching too much T.V. I sense a disturbance in the force, you know and its name is Faust.”
    The boy pursed his lips at his father’s words—an event that did not often happen. “It’s true! Besides, Mom and Layla are gone too.” While he did so he walked over to the desk and rummaged through Talin’s pencil cup.
    He squinted at those words. “And the kitchen wasn’t on fire?”
    The boy nodded as he pulled out a marker and inspected it.
    “Shit.” Talin immediately got up and made his way over to his armoire.
    Taliah going into the Spirit Realm alone was risky. Her going without Layla was dangerous. Kana being among their numbers was a disaster.
    He flung the doors open and shuffled through a series of robes, coats and cloaks until he located his best robe. He immediately removed his top and climbed into the ornate green robe before he adjusted it to fit properly. The robe itself had a series of designs similar to runes that decorated it, not just for show but to offer greater protection to its wearer.
    “To think your mother would sneak off to there…just what is she doing?” He asked himself as he reached to the top shelf and removed a matching hat with three metal silver feathers resting within the gold ribbon tied around it.
    He removed his staff from the armoire and placed it to his back before he sighed audibly. The last item he took was Kana’s homemade scarf. An item that appeared as a white scarf with pawprints sewn into it, but would take its true form upon him becoming Vanir—what once looked like pawprints became protection runes.
    “What’s that Papa?” Faust asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
    “A portion of my best equipment.” His father chuckled in turn. “They’re a replica of what the hero Eirhern wore during the battle against the Animus Legio. They’re also what I wore during the battle against King Heinrichter.” He grinned weakly. “If there’s another one at hand, I at least want to be somewhat prepared.”
    The staff he carried was not a replica, however. It was the very weapon Eirhern wielded, passed down from one reincarnation to the next. Though he had often borrowed it to Taliah, she could not awaken it’s true potential. It still proved to be a useful weapon in the hands of a skilled Summoner, however.
    “Anyway, I’m gonna go find your mother and sister, so wait for me here.”
    Talin held out a hand before him and after a few moments a portal opened. On the other side he could see the Spirit Realm just as he recalled it—following the link that connected him and Layla, it lead to the most recent location she had teleported to, that being a forest within the dominion of the High Elves’ God Exodus. One both High Elves and Fey worshipped respectively.
    Tall mushrooms of all shapes and sizes, flowers and fauna decorated the area and gave it the vibrant look that tickled his youthful memories of his first visit. He saw a variety of spirits nearby, from young wolf pups to Unicorn Rabbits.
    He caught a glimpse of another Summoner nearby riding a popular creature on the main continent, the Rakh. To the day, it still seemed to be a mixture of ostrich and toucan. With long thin legs, bright red plumage, short wings, a white stripe over two beady black eyes and two more over a black beak.
    Talin stepped through and scanned the area desperately. Had something happened that Layla could not tell him about? She had not taken neither him nor Faust along with her, so perhaps it was something she could only entrust to Kana and Taliah. Though it was very unlike her to keep secrets from him—especially ones of great import. Unease welled up inside him rapidly as he searched the nearby area.
    He caught a glimpse of a fairy watching him from behind the safety of a massive tree and he waved as he approached her.
    “Hey, have you seen a-” Before he could finish his sentence she giggled and flew away.
    The Svartálfar grit his teeth at the response. They had a penchant for playing tricks on travellers. The main reason they did it was to prevent suspicious people from finding their way into their domains, but this was not the time or the place for such shenanigans.
    “You’re really unpopular, huh Papa?” A boy asked him.
    Talin turned around and picked up the boy by his waist before glaring at him. The boy smiled in turn. “What are you doing here?” He asked.
    “I came to keep you company. Going alone can be scary, don’t you think?”
    “I didn’t see an old man who told me, ‘It’s not safe to go alone! Take this!’ at any point in time.” He glanced past the boy and grimaced. “If that portal was still open I’d throw you right back into it.”
    At those words he dropped his son and turned around.
    “Regardless, you’re here now, so don’t get separated from me alright? The last thing I need is to find you and your mother.”
    “Okey dokey!” The boy said with a smile and salute.
    It seemed that Layla was in the direction of the domain where he first met her. The domain being similar to that of the guild rooms that could be found on Jienda. A pocket Instance Dungeon using the Spirit Realm as a host and serving as a place where the Fey could live peacefully.
    As he continued on he caught a glimpse of another Fey sitting atop a mushroom looking at him with a keen curiosity.
    “Hey, you there?” He asked.
    She pointed to herself, giggled and flew away.
    “I only need one coquettish girl in my life, thank you very much!” He roared at nothing.
    Three more times this event occurred and he was getting rather frustrated with the series of events that played out. At this juncture it was nothing short of shooting magic missiles into the darkness and there were more pressing matters he needed to tend to.
    As he proceeded, he felt that he was nearing the domain and could see a semi-transparent barrier come into view. He looked to the boy and held out a hand.
    “Take it, Twerp,” He said.
    The boy smiled, nodded and placed his hand in his father’s.

    As they stepped through the barrier they came to an even more vibrant portion of the forest. There were even more unusual flora growing here, growing in a variety of colours. Flowers lined the ground, mushrooms grew at the base of the trees and a variety of fruits and nuts hung from the trees. Upon the branches and hidden within the leaves, a myriad of Fey looked upon the two visitors with keen curiosity.
    He had half a mind to ask one of them if they had seen his missing wife but opted out not to. The fact they had made it here in such a short period of time was unusual in and of itself. Did they recognize him? Or were they expecting him?
    Much to his joy, it seemed that nothing unusual was happening within the vicinity. Even so, he could not help but feel a sense of dread upon hearing that Kana was gone once more.
    However, Layla was near and Kana was likely with her, unless Layla had come to see her mother to find her. A series of potential scenarios began to play out in his mind and his unease increased.
    “Wow! It’s so beautiful! What is this place Papa?!” Faust asked as he glanced around and waved at the Fey.
    They too, smiled and waved back.
    “Sonela’s Domain. One of the Fey domains scattered across the Spirit Realm. This is where I made my Oath with Layla.” His father answered as he attempted to look ahead, past the brush and trees to the heart of the Indun.
    “Let’s go. If anyone knows where Kana is, it’d be her.”
    The two made their way through the flowers and around the various other flora. Faust seemed to be making many friends along the way, waving his hand and blowing kisses to the Fey that looked on from on high.
    When they came to a clearing, the area before them came into view and as Talin remembered it, it was as lovely as ever. Flowers of all colours and types coated the grass up towards a small hill where a single magnificent tree stood tall and proud. There underneath the shade of it, he saw the three things he found most beautiful of all. His wife, daughter and irreplaceable companion resting on the shoulder of the latter. With them stood the Matriarch of the domain, Sonela herself.
    The Fey was taller than the average Human, with raven black hair, bright green eyes, magnificent butterfly-like wings with a black outer margin and blue inner and a smile that could melt any man’s heart. She wore a laurel of yellow roses, a long white gown that covered all save for her feet and a bracelet of mistletoe on each arm.
    Faust’s hand slipped from Talin’s as the man looked upon his wife who talked with the Fey Queen beneath the tree. When she caught a glimpse of him, her mouth opened wide for a moment before she smiled and waved both hands before her.
    “Darling,” She shouted to him, “Hi!”
    “Go on, Papa.” Faust said with a grin.
    Talin’s knees felt weak and he could feel his heart welling up with joy as he stole a single glance at the boy and turned his eyes back to his wife. Without another moment to spare he ran through the field of flowers to her, arms wide open and awaiting him.
    He threw himself into her arms and the force of their collision pushed her back a few steps but she still held her ground.
    “Kana you idiot!” He sobbed into her chest as she stroked the back of his head. “Whaddya’ think you’re doin’ just running off like that huh?! D’ya know how worried I was about you?! Shit!”
    She smiled knowingly and nodded. “I didn’t mean to scare you Darling.” She said as she looked down upon him and smiled. “I really wanted to surprise you, so I had the kids and Layla help out a bit.”
    “Surprise?” He asked as he looked up to her through his tears.
    “I was a distraction!” Faust said with clenched fists as he exhaled through his nose proudly.
    “I’m kinda surprised you didn’t catch on Dad. You’re usually pretty on the ball when Mom’s up to some kind of trick.”
    “This isn’t what I could have predicted. Besides, you know how I hate surprises. It’s not even my birthday, dummy.”
    “It doesn’t have to be your birthday for you to be recognized as a great daddy.” Kana said with a childish grin.
    “I made plenty of sweets too and without setting the kitchen on fire!” She raised her nose skyward proudly. “You’re free to praise me plenty, Daddy.”
    He got up, wiped his tears and gave her a gentle rap on the head with the side of his hand. “Refraining from setting the kitchen on fire isn’t a hallmark of skill. That’s a goal that would only be set for you.
    “Also calling me ‘Daddy’ is more embarrassing than anything you’ve said before.” He smiled gently.
    He looked to Sonela and gave her an acknowledging nod. “I’m sorry you had to see me like that, Sonela. It’s been over 20 years and you get an eyeful of me crying like a child. Still, you look well. You haven’t aged a day have you?” He grinned.
    “As do you, Talin. It feels as if it were only yesterday that you and Bruce had come before me with a twinkle in your eye of your heroic aspirations. Now you’ve returned, a man grown and with a child of our domain a Fey Queen of her own right.
    “You have my thanks for looking after Layla throughout the entirety of your journey.” She clasped her hands together as she smiled at him.
    He and Bruce had spent days wandering through the Forest in search of the Fey’s domain. They mislead them, insisted that certain foods within the radius were safe, which they were not by any stretch of the imagination, and lead them into a series of man-eating flora along with all sorts of aggressive fauna. The psychedelic trips, close calls with devious creatures and days spent feeling ill were not his fondest memories of his journey. The end result however, certainly eased the burden he faced up to that point.
    He knit his eyebrows out of embarrassment. “Well…not really…I mean, I have to thank you. I wouldn’t have made it this far without her, really. I’m thankful for her to for all that she’s done for me, even now.”
    If Layla had not gone with Kana, she would have gotten sick from the influx of spiritual mana in their current realm. As it was with Convexa Legio, the unknown place where the Anima once resided, and both dimensions between worlds, there were different types of mana flowing within them. Without the right companion or skill, traversing them for extended periods would be nigh impossible. Thanks to Heath, Kana’s brother, Layla and his own origins with the Animus Legio he could see his journey through to the end.
    “Nevertheless, let me not keep you from your family overlong. They have come a long way to celebrate such an important day.”
    Talin furrowed his brows. “I’m sorry Kana dragged you into this Sonela. This idiot tends to do whatever she wants regardless of who gets caught in her pace and whether or not they’re involved.”
    The Fey Matriarch chuckled. “Is that so? I would not say that we are not involved in such an event. After all, was it not you who raised our very own Layla into the Fey she is today? I remember when she was but a crystal…”
    “M-Matriarch! Please don’t mention that when the children are around!” Layla complained in a somewhat formal tone. It seemed that even she could be embarrassed.
    The Matriarch placed her fingers over her lips as she chuckled gently. “There is nothing to be ashamed of, Layla. Every Fey must begin somewhere, no?”
    “Well yes…but…”
    She nodded sagely. “Talin is a father to you as he is to his own kin. I am most certainly positive that he raised you with the love and care that he shows to his own also.”
    She pressed her index fingers together as she lowered her gaze. “Yes…he did…”
    “Hmm?” Taliah asked with a sly smile from cheek to cheek. The Fey flew into the crown of her hair to hide her embarrassed expression.
    “Come now children, there’s no need to hide! Many of you recognize Talin, do you not? Come on out.”
    Fey from all over the domain came from within the trees and beneath the flowers and surrounded the group.
    “Whoa…” Talin muttered under his breath. “There’s more of you than there was the last time we visited. A lot more.”
    One of them approached and pointed to herself. A tomboyish Fey with short red hair and freckles. “Do you remember me Talin?”
    He blinked once. “Merla.”
    “Pretty good!” She said with a grin.
    “Me next, me next!” Another shouted.
    One after the next they continued to show and he named them off allowing them to take their place with a content look.
    “Okay, there’s clearly too many of you. Hell, I don’t even know half of you yet!”
    Kana tugged at his sleeve and he looked to her through his peripherals. “You haven’t eaten anything yet, have you, Darling? Why don’t you eat some of the sweets I made?”
    He wrinkled his nose. “That’s not a meal. It’ll spoil the kids’ dinner too.” It would spoil his dinner also, solely because when she did them properly, her sweet making skills were unrivalled. He would eat them whether he wanted to or not.
    “Ehh?” Faust asked with a look of disappointment.
    “Come on Dad, a little won’t hurt right? We worked super hard on them!” Taliah said as she pouted.
    “Hrm…” How could he say no to that? Let alone turn down a mother-daughter cupcake? “Maybe…a little won’t hurt. But let me inspect them first!” It sounded like a declaration of ‘dibs’ which it was, but he had to be sure that there was nothing wrong with them. Kana had good intentions, but despite how perceptive she was, she was clumsy when it mattered.
    “Right this way!” She said as she took his arm and brought him over to a short table decorated with all manner of sweets and fruits.
    There was even a cake with the whole family recreated through icing. Kana and Talin had their arms around their children who stood before them and Layla sat on his shoulder between the two adults. Without a doubt, this was one of Kana’s specialties.
    He cracked a smile at the sight, glimpsed at Kana and immediately masked it with his usual expression. That soon turned to a grimace as he caught a glimpse of a cupcake with a certain set of berries on them.
    “Kana, do you know what that is?”
    “A cupcake?” She asked with a look of confusion.
    “Yes, it is. But the fruits! We’ve been over the herbology of the Spirit Realm several times! Did you forget already?”
    “Maybe a little bit?” He frowned and she raised her hands in surrender. “I couldn’t help it! During those study sessions I couldn’t focus on my work because I couldn’t take my eyes off of you.” His cheeks flushed and his ears wilted. “Then there was that time I dropped my eraser and I caught a glimpse of a rocket hidden under the table and-” as she continued on a small line of drool ran down her lips and her eyes glazed over.
    He rapped her on the head once more and she laughed it off.
    “Sorry…I kinda got lost in my own reverie.”
    “Some reverie,” He sighed.
    “Anyway, there’s a reason most people avoid the flora that grows in this place. Our bodies are different from spirits so we can’t stomach these things. They have side effects! Do you know what the Fey call these berries?”
    “Blueberries?” Kana asked as she tilted her head quizzically. They certainly did look similar.
    “Napberries. Remember this.” He said as he removed the paper cup from the pastry and put the whole thing in his mouth in two bites. “Eat enough of these things and you-” At those words he collapsed to the ground.
    “C-Comrade?!” Kana asked with a look of shock.
    The Fey Matriarch pursed her lips. “I thought you girls promised that you would not play any more tricks on Talin.”
    There was quiet giggling among their ranks.
    Faust looked down at him, drew the marker from his pocket and uncorked it to scribble on his father’s face.
    “Faust,” Kana said. He looked to her, who wore a stern look on her face and held a hand out for him to put the marker in. He placed the lid back on, lowered his head apologetically and put it in her hand.
    She nodded sagely before she walked over to him, squatted down and uncorked it herself. At that, she began to scribble on his left cheek. With a proud look she stood up and held out the marker to her daughter who looked on in disbelief.
    “Seriously?” She asked.
    Layla looked down to the sleeping Svartálfar and knit her brows. His forehead said ‘meat’. His cheek said, ‘Property of Kana Arimael’.
    “I would not recommend being an accomplice to their crimes, Taliah,” She suggested.
    “Yeah I think we’re in agreement. I’m gonna pass on that, Mom.”
    The Anima pursed her lips. “You shouldn’t pass on family activities, Sweetheart,” She said.
    “Only four of us can partake! I don’t think the fifth is gonna like it.”
    Kana beamed with flushed cheeks. “You sound more and more like your father every day.”
    “G-gross!” Taliah said with flushed cheeks. “I don’t sound anything like an old man like him!”
    Talin twitched as if he was having a nightmare.
    Kaila flew over to Kana. “Would you mind if I had a turn?”
    “Be my guest!” Kana said as she offered the Fey the marker.
    “Kaila! You too?!” Layla complained with a look of disbelief.
    “I can’t help it!” She laughed as she landed in the grass and held the marker like a battering ram. “It’s just in our nature!”
    She was certainly not the last of them to want a turn. By the end of it, alongside the messages, there were signatures, whiskers, eyelashes and eyeballs and even a moustache and goatee scribbled on Talin’s face.
    “So…how do we wake him up?” Taliah asked as she crossed her arms and shifted her gaze to Layla.
    The Fey rubbed her arm gently. “Well…most people do not wake up until the effect wears off. You can splash them with cold water…or they get up if they have a bad dream, but we do not really have either of those at our disposal.”
    “Oh but we do!” Kana said with a sly glint in her eye. She squatted down once more, placed a hand to her cheek and whispered, “Darling, I’m gonna make you breakfast in bed, okay?”
    At those words his eyes shot open and he pulled himself from the ground as he shouted, “Gods!”
    He eyed his surroundings warily, dusted off his clothes and looked to his wife.
    She beamed at him. “Good morning, Darling.”
    An angry vein protruded in his cheek before he reached out to her and started pulling her cheeks. “Don’t you good morning me you idiot!”
    “Ahh! The talons are out!” She mock-cried with a smile on her face.
    “Now why do I smell marker…?” He licked his thumb, rubbed his cheek and noticed that some of it came off. He looked to his wife who rubbed her cheeks and smiled guiltily, to his son who looked away and whistled (when did he learn to do that?) and finally to the myriad of Fey who had a range of expressions. Some even had the gall to laugh.
    He sighed. “I’ll let you off the hook this time. Hard to say which of you did it, really, but I should have expected as much.” He shrugged and a chuckle escaped his lips. “You all could learn to appreciate Dads some more today.”

    Later that day Talin and Layla sat and spoke with Sonela.
    “You have come so far over the years Layla. You are nothing short of a Fey Queen in your own right. If you so desire, I can share with you all the knowledge you would need to know to become a Matriarch with your own domain.”
    “M-me?! A Matriarch?!” Layla asked with her hands cupped over her mouth.
    “Yes.” Sonela answered with a graceful smile. “You have much and more experience and Kana told me how much of a blessing you have been to their family. You have experience with children and are very well versed with the world beyond Exodus’ Keep. Even that beyond the Spirit Realm, and Azenham itself. I have little doubt that you have surpassed me. That knowledge, you can pass on to the children of your domain as I have given you mine.”
    “But what if I am not prepared to be a Matriarch?”
    Sonela blinked. “Do you have doubts in your experience Layla?
    She shook her head gently. “N-no…it is not that. I just…” She looked to Talin with a fist held tightly to her chest. “I want to stay here, beside Master. With his wife and children…I want to watch over them and protect them. I have seen them grow since they were but suckling babes and I wish to see their growth into magnificent Anima…and Svartálfar.” She smiled gently as she watched Faust stuff his face with cupcakes while Taliah scolded him.
    The Matriarch’s eyes crinkled as she beamed at her young protégé. “Is that so? If that is the case, then perhaps there is still something I can do both for you and for them. Talin?”
    The Svartálfar raised a brow. “Mm hmm?” He asked.
    “Would you call your children here for me?”
    “Sure thing.” He got to his feet. “Taliah! Faust! Get your butts over here!”
    The two immediately hurried over and Layla flew over to the boy.
    “You’ve got icing on your cheek Faust.” She said as she wiped it away and licked it off her hand.
    “Thanks Mom.” He said with a grin.
    “I am not your mother, I am your father’s guardian!”
    He closed his eyes. When she said it like that it made him sound like a child. Faust’s actual mother was getting her hair braided by several different Fey. He took a second look to find that they were not just doing that, they were showing her how to paint her nails with things growing around the forest. Those girls were eerily skilled, leaving aside all of their tricks.
    “Faust, Taliah?” Sonela asked as she looked upon the two and they stared at her, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. “Would you like to form an Oath with a Fey?”
    “Huh?” Talin asked.
    “R-really?” Layla asked.
    Faust looked ecstatic. “You mean we could have our very own companions?! Does that mean I can have one even though I’m not a Summoner?!”
    Taliah seemed somewhat reluctant. She rubbed her arm gently and averted her gaze. “I…I dunno…I mean I do but…” Her eyes shifted to Layla once and then to her shoes.
    Talin had expected she would have some reservations on the matter. He felt a pang of guilt at the sight. Perhaps if he had talked to her about it sooner it would be easier for her to make a decision.
    Layla flew from Faust’s side to his sister and placed her hands to her face. “Taliah, it’s fine to have a companion of your own. Just because there’s another Fey, it doesn’t mean that we won’t be as close as we always have been. I’ll still go on adventures with you and teach you everything you need to know about being a Summoner.” She said beaming.
    Taliah knit her brows. “R-really? Do you promise?”
    The Fey nodded affirmatively. “I promise.”
    “Pinky swear?” The young girl raised her pinky and Layla flew over to it, grasping it with both hands.
    Taliah looked to Sonela with a newfound conviction. “Okay…I think I do too.”
    Sonela smiled upon them and nodded before she clapped her hands. “Then let us begin the ceremony.”
    Talin raised a brow. “Are you sure you don’t want to just pick one of the girls here? I mean, there’s plenty of them. No need to go through all the trouble.”
    She gently shook her head. “It would be easier, yes, but even so I want them to feel at home with your family. The girls here do much and more for me and I’m sure despite their love of children that even they would be hard-pressed to separate from their siblings.” She placed a finger to her lips and winked. “That aside, those children will have a Fey to call their Matriarch one day, I am certain.”
    “I suppose.” Talin said with a shrug and grin. Layla had once said a Fey never forgets their way home—that should their master ever pass on, abandon them or forcefully break their oath that they would still be able to return to the domain where they were born. Talin would do none of those things if he could help it, but even he knew someday his life would end. When that time came, he hoped that perhaps Layla would found her own domain. Perhaps the gift that Sonela would bestow upon his children would serve as a foundation for that future.
    “Gather around girls. The time has come.” Sonela said and the Fey all over the domain flew and surrounded the tree at varying heights, forming a series of circles.
    Kana approached with a few locks of her hair braided and looked upon the sight before them. Her husband looked to her and chuckled under his breath to which she blushed.
    “M-my hair’s only half done! Don’t laugh!” She said hiding a portion of her face behind it.
    “Yeah it does look a little ridiculous.” He said with a grin. She looked cute with that style also, but he would let her figure that out on her own.
    Without further ado, Sonela began to hum gently. As she did so, the tree lit up, a gentle wind blew and tiny spheres of light fell away from it. When the entire tree emitted a glow, she began to sing and was soon joined in by a ring of Fey. The first, second, third and fourth rings joined in at differing intervals, each singing in unison with their own set of the choir. Their voices meshed together perfectly in an ever-rising crescendo that seemed to have the entirety of the domain springing to life at the sound of their song.
    Talin looked on solemnly but in awe. How many years had it been since he set his eyes upon such a sight? It was nostalgic, beautiful and both a treat for the eyes and ears. It seemed that it had also become more complex as the amount of Fey had increased since he last visited…and yet, those both new and old got along as if they had been together all of their lives.
    As the song came to a close from within the tree, light gathered to a certain point and within it two tiny golden rhombus took form and drifted down into Sonela’s palms, gently levitating above both.
    Taliah, Faust, I entrust these children to you. Protect them as you would your own and you shall not find a more loyal companion in all the realms.” She held them out to the two children and they accepted them with both hands before Sonela placed her hands to their foreheads.
    A bright glow appeared upon each of her heads and on their backs the magic circle that Talin also had upon his own took form behind them, before finally fading away.
    “Thus, the Oath is formed. Thank you for accepting our kin as yours, children.”
    Faust smiled. “Now we can be like Papa too! I’m gonna raise mine to be as strong and pretty as you, nice Fey lady!” He said with a twinkle in his eyes. She chuckled gently with a hand to her cheek. Talin could not help but fear that his son might someday turn into a lady-killer. The exact opposite of his mother.
    “I guess that means you’ll have some new sisters, huh Layla?” Taliah asked with a slight grin. “I promise to take good care of her.”
    Layla beamed. “I have not a doubt in my mind that you will.”
    Kana walked over and wrapped her arms around the children. “Looks like I’ve got two new adorable daughters to love!” She said with her usual childish grin.
    Talin walked over to her and placed his elbows on her shoulders to rest his hands on her head, his chin atop them. “Our family got bigger huh? It’s gonna get really noisy in that house.”
    Dinnertime would certainly be something to remember. He would look forward to it. But that would be his secret.

    Posts : 895
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    The Eccentric Anima's Legacy Empty Re: The Eccentric Anima's Legacy

    Post  TJ on Sun Oct 02, 2016 3:21 pm

    In truth, I didn't have much intention to return here. It's...ugh. For various reasons. Truth of the matter is that not...all people are as bad as I make them out to be. Rather, not all people are as bad as others. There are some who would lay down their weapons and lower their heads to me...though my position is not defined and they much more successful in their own merits. They honour me...moreso than even I think that I deserve and at the very least I could try to show them the same amount of respect.
    So I'm here. I won't say I'm here to stay, as I'm almost certain things will change in the near future...and being here has its own costs to my own success. But for now at least I'll do this much, so I'll try to lighten up a bit and talk about TEAL, Hero and everything in between.

    Fire the Headcanons!:

    In truth, TEAL may be the latest story in the Project H/H's afterstory, but it has a much longer, storied history than one might be lead to believe. To give you a bit of a better idea of what I mean by that and to help you understand the more subtle nuances of the novels, I'm gonna go back into my own history. I'll do a proper literary analysis some other time if I don't do it today, so if you're not interested in the past you can skip anything regarding it. Just in case, spoilers? For Sanc? Maybe not. They're mostly old concepts, but if the rest didn't gave away everything spoiler related I will.

    Where Hero began:
    Project H/H wasn't actually the beginning of the concept. It was a reboot of a short series I had started in 2005 I yes, when I was 12 years old(My writing career actually began in 2001 I believe, so if you thought Frequency was bad you haven't seen anything yet). It was the first time I attempted writing a series. At the time it was just a oneshot that I shared with my friends in class(Yes I had friends lol. It was still a far cry from reaching realfag status though). It was originally written for an assignment and I shared it with them. They liked it and so I decided to continue it. Originally named Hero, the follow up named Hero 2:Newbie Town. A little embarrassing to admit now but...I was just some dumb kid at the time. Creativity wasn't my strong suit!

    Anyway, the friends I shared it with let me use them as the main characters of the novel. I also made some unoriginal original characters I won't talk about. Ever. For reasons. In truth, I never did finish the novel. They were regarded to me as separate stories, but if you grouped them together they might be barely under half of Frequency's length(that is, excluding Sanc and everything else). It was close to ending, however. I suppose as the year wound down towards graduation mid-2006 I stopped putting as much effort into it as I once had and let it be. Maybe I outgrew it? It's been far too long for me to recall what lead to me not finishing it but nonetheless, it was never done.

    Fast forward three years to 2009. There were some writing assignments and short stories I had done between those years but they're all lost to time. Also they were bad. But the events of it, and my discovery of one of my favourite manga, that being Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles lead to the existence of Frequency. You might not know this, but it was in fact the spiritual successor to Hero. I'll go over the details of that a little later. From there on you're pretty familiar with how things went due to all the posts here. It's a shame but...well, everyone's gone now. The forum was once a lively place and everyone who made it so eventually vanished. I do wonder about it...and a small part of me wants to follow in their wake. My time hasn't come yet, however.
    Enough about that, though!

    Flash forward two years to 2011. I'd spent those two years being a realfag before my life got flipped-turned upside down and I'd like to take a minute just sit right there, I'll tell you how I became the author of a novel Called Project H/H. Jokes aside, a lot of the guys I knew back in grade school(I still know them to this day) and I got together and we were doing our thing. We got to talking about it and discussed rebooting the series with some new ideas. There was four of us who put it together. Let's call them Mr. A, B and C respectively. More details on them later. Anyway, the four of us brainstormed ideas about the characters we would create, their backstories, and the world they would live in.
    I'd never designed a world myself, at this juncture. My best experience was giving Jienda a novel form, but as I always say, Frequency is, through and through, a fanfiction. I couldn't sell it even if I changed the names of characters and places. Even so, it holds an importance greater than the sum of its parts.
    Back to the topic at hand, I needed to design the world and as you'd expect, it was a rough process. On another hand, I was brainstorming for Sanctuary at the same time and I thought, "Hey, what if some of the characters from this novel had an appearance or part in Sanc?!" This is what happens when I have too much creative freedom. More on that later.
    As you'd expect, the ideas didn't pan out well. This lead to a series of different iterations of the novel. Since I wasn't the only one contributing to it, and for the first time had others who would point out the flaws there was a lot that needed to be fixed. Poorly used metaphors, questionable characters with questionable motives, lack of focus, the works. Thus it was written and rewritten...I think about 3 times in total? More on that later

    Flash forward two years to 2013. On the final iteration and rather burnt out from the series of events that happened that year, I had stopped there. Innocent had come to a halt, Project H/H was on the backburner and I could hardly bring myself to look at Frequency. Though you know that story pretty well already.

    Flash forward two years to 2015, when I neared the end of USSR. For some reason people wanted an epilogue to Talin's story? I think? Don't ask me how I knew. It's magic. I'm magical. DEAL. So I decided to write one at the end of it which you can only find here and in my documents on my computer don'tstalkmepls.jpg. Then it somehow became a recurring thing. For whatever reason. It's 2016 and I'm talking about it. What has the world come to?

    Anyway, to wrap up this section here's a bit of trivia! Hero(The original physical copies because they weren't digital) probably still exists. I gave it to Mr. A begrudgingly. If I had my way I'd have burned them and scattered the ashes to the winds. I expect by now that if they still exist they're more faded than the magna carta, so if you're thinking of going on a treasure hunt across Canada just hang up your things now.

    Hero and Project H/H:
    I never talked in length about it, really. I was trying to be sneaky-sneaky about it back in the day but it doesn't mean a thing now, anyway.
    So lemme tell you about the original Hero.

    When I first wrote it, it was meant to be a VR game. Came with helmets and everything!(Until I tried to rewrite it and the helmets became chambers? Scary!) It was a really popular game at some arcade on a busy street. There were four heroes, each representing one of the four elements being Fire, Water, Wind and Earth. Their job was, more or less, to assist the Sages of the elements in getting to their respective temples safely to keep the world's order or something. I...can't quite remember what the exact reason was...but that was the gist of it. On that note, there were also the elements Sound(for whatever reason) Light(Holy at the time, I thiiiiink. Maybe not.) and Darkness(Naturally). I think the darkness route actually had my first OC. Prior to Amata. Maybe?
    The whole of the world was connected and it was named Creation. Sort of like a virtual Pangaea, Newbie Town was at the center of all of it and had a guild where the Sages would register to find the heroes to help them out. It was so bad lol. A good attempt for a kid though, if anything.

    In relation to P: H/H, things were a little...backwards. Project H/H actually was meant to take place after Hero, though that would likely remain unknown. In the first iteration of it(Let's call it V1) Hero was introduced as a game that Talin and Kana played. Though only vaguely hinted at and mostly headcanon, one of the four heroes made a cameo as the writer of the game-based-novel "Game of Throws". The others though unmentioned created the game and also moderated it. In this version, Hero had become a game that was based on a real place--that being Azenham(Creation). The Azen, all of the other species that came from Azenham had settled on Earth after an event that took place called "The Unification". From the locations in it to the very temples the Sages inhabited, all of it was as they had recalled and redesigned. Lofty goal, that.

    Trivia time! Leaving aside the four heroes, there were actually two other returning characters from the original Hero. Those being, Shea and her sister Eva, the sages of Light and Darkness respectively. Their design was pretty much the same across novels but Eva was renamed. Originally she was Destiny and was substantially less...evil? She wasn't evil per se. Just as Shea indirectly aided the heroes with her cryptic messages, Eva aided King Heinrichter. More trivia? Amae is a returning character from Hero also. She didn't have an appearance(by that I mean I didn't get to the end so she didn't appear) but she was the combination of Shea and Destiny. I think then the big bad was supposed to be Asmodeus also, but rather than being an angry god he was some sort of virus that trapped the players in, thus the Sages and Heroes needed to band together to break the hold he had on all of them.

    So anyway, in Project H/H rather than having all humans, they became the only race without a specific elemental affinity. They could dabble in any element they liked, along with classes while the others had specialties and gods they worshipped. Each of us designed a race according to the element we chose. Originally I planned to have 5 of us(since there was only four elements they used, Bruce took up a different role that worked out rather nicely, if I do say so myself!) which lead to us designing our respective characters around that fact. Talin, being a half High/Dark Elf meant he was Earth. Originally he was supposed to be a Necromancer, but I thought that just screamed bad guy so I made him a summoner instead. Mr. A designed Smith(originally named Jedediah with the Smith being her title. In V2 or V3 she just went by that) because he had no problems with making a monster girl. Bruce was designed by Mr. B which was also good for the story because the characters would need a ship. Mr. C designed Heath, a character who made his first major appearance in V2 and V3, a winder user and Helios. Mr. A and I designed Cattleya together, the team's fire user and Herrenah. I'm almost sure she appeared in all versions.
    This is often why you'll hear me say I won't write those characters or use them--they don't belong to me, save for Talin and maybe Cattleya.
    Harlin, Mona, Belle and Kana only appeared in V1. Those guys didn't make the cut, but I still had plans for Kana. Hackett and the other pirates appeared in V3 and really solidified Bruce's character. As for Layla, she too was originally from Hero, but she didn't get a proper appearance because she was from the rewritten version. Spent all those years as a headcanon lol. Thus, she would become the current Earth user's familiar. ...Alas, I didn't get to that point before everything went horribly wrong, and so it never happened. But don't let it be said that I never had ideas for it! It was indirectly mentioned in Sanctuary in fact, during Vanir's talk about summoning spirits during the Gula arc I believe. TEAL gave you a proper look at it.

    Anyway, like Pangaea, the world shifted, broke apart and thus it became a bunch of islands scattered across the vast sea. This gave way to piracy. And by piracy I mean pirates. Actual pirates.
    Nonetheless! Let's talk about the story of Project H/H shall we?

    When I wrote it, I wanted to create a hero and a storyline that would appeal to modern-day audiences. I often scoured the internet to understand what people were into, what kind of MC and what kind of story they would prefer. Talin wasn't the MC, mind, but he had an important part to play, hence why he changed so much over the 3 iterations. As for the story, you could say it was the exact opposite of what the original heroes' goal was. On that note, what was in demand was a novel from a villain's perspective, or that of the not-so-good good guy. Thus, I formed a concept from it.
    They had tasked themselves with breaking into each temple, murdering the respective sages and opening the Vault, also known as Convexa Legio(I used google translate and it was originally Convexa Legionem but it's changed over the years, gdi). In this time, Newbie Town had become the kingdom of Mercy lead by a man by the name of Cassius. Betrayed by Chancellor Heinrichter and with a lack of offspring to take up the throne, he was crowned the king to keep order in the world.
    Trivia Time! Shea and Eva were actually his blood daughters. He was married to one of the last remaining Anima, a woman by the name of Thenelstra. The others being their daughters, Hilde Karin(Heath and Kana's mother) and their children. Nobody had known that their children existed. The two had become the respective sages of the temples The Fortress of Daylight and The Exile of Svartalfheim and remained unknown to the public eye for all the years the king had lived--his longevity being a moot point among the citizens of Mercy. On the topic of Hilde, Kana being Heath's blood brother was a headcanon/future idea of my own.  Thus despite the death of both Hilde and Thenelstra along with herself, Shea and Eva, there would be one Anima in the world that remained, and one that could have either kill/seal the corrupted Talin at the end of the novel when they fought.
    If you've read Inno, you know how he's done some shady things and he also indirectly mentioned he fought his previous allies. The fact that he escaped was proof that it was a battle he couldn't win.
    Back on topic, the reason they chose this path was because it was basically a battle to determine the fate of Azenham and the Earth Realm. If they were to commit regicide, they could stop King Heinrichter, but to do so they would have to wage war against the whole of Azenham which would be backing the King while potentially throwing nature into turmoil due to the lack of the sages. On the other, if King Heinrichter lived he would have the races summon and their gods to commit deicide, leading to them awakening to their true potential and no longer fearing the gods, let alone the strength of Humanity--thus, they would tear down the borders between worlds and reclaim those taken from them while also eradicating the Humans of the Earth Realm.
    It was more or less, a Morton's Fork. Both choices were wrong--they had to choose the one which was less wrong.

    I'm pretty sure that more or less covers the history of the novel and some things in between. Next time I show up I'll properly analyze TEAL itself and if there's any trivia that might not be obvious at a glance I'll be sure to mention it! Until next time! That is, if there is a next time.

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    Post  TJ on Sat Oct 15, 2016 9:35 pm

    Alright, alright, I get it. I'm so...baffled I don't even know what to say. What in the seven hells do people want?!
    I mean, no matter what I've said or done it seems people's problem with me just is...unfathomable. Am I really so deplorable that people can hardly withstand my very presence? Am I truly so detestable that my very existence is a bother?
    I mean, sure, I made plenty of jokes about it in the past but I did so with the hope that the crushing weight of the reality of the matter wouldn't make me want to die.

    But let's be honest here. Whatever reason I've been born in this place, in this age and have been through all of this doesn't matter even a little. Who truly cares? Do you even care what I have to say now? Does any of it matter? No probably not. So if you don't care, you can go ahead and stop reading this right now.

    If for some reason you do however, let me make it clear. I want to quit. Rather than just quitting I'd rather some kind soul go ahead and solve everyone's problem. Burn me at the stake, throw me into the atlantic, put a bullet through my head, I don't care! I'm sick of these passive-aggressive dismissals of my existence every single goddamn day.
    I will not try to get friendly with another person. I will not speak unless spoken to in public. I won't even visit the places I used to frequent. And this one...? I don't want to be here anymore. Everyone left, and if you still haven't guessed why it's because I was here. This is what happens. This is what always happens and always will happen.
    The idea of ever getting close to another person terrifies me. Even the people I was once close to...anyone. I'm not like you, or them, or whoever. It doesn't matter where or when or what they look like.

    So whatever means you sought me out with, put it to rest. My story is over. Or rather it should've been long before any of this began. I don't care if I'm detested. I don't intend to, nor expect to be liked, desired, or even pitied. Hate me if you must, even more so if it makes any of this simpler to take in. This is the way things need to be, and anyone who says otherwise would likely change their mind if they had been in my presence long enough.

    If my life has taught me anything, it's that the world does not want me, nor does it need me and by that extension whatever the hell I represent. However, assuming that I exist, there will be or should be someone else who will fulfill the role I occupy. I'm probably just talking out my ass. But if it were true, how far would you be willing to go? Would you be willing to fulfill my wish? I'm sure the chains of morality could only hold back so many people when the weight of the world sits on the other side of the balance.

    Sadly, I'm not a moral being...or at least not as much as a human should be. I likely fail to qualify as a human, if it makes you feel any better. Do as you will. I'm sure the world will keep on turning.
    The only one who may take issue with your actions is my cat, since he seems to be the only one who can stand me at all.

    I hope my previous warnings did some good at least. Not that I intend to rub salt into an open wound--but I just want to make sure that my message is clear now more than ever. We stand divided. The line has long since been drawn and so I'm finally going to oblige. Now once more, the world is in the hands of the people and the ball in their court. So? What will you do? I don't mind waiting.

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    Post  TJ on Wed Oct 19, 2016 4:14 pm

    I know I said I wouldn't return here. In such a case I would say it would be against my better judgement to do so...but even I know that would be a blatant lie. Perhaps not all would see the truth to, but many would, of that, I'm certain.
    As always, people aren't often interested in what wisdom I'll depart through such a means and if so you can avert your eyes and your attention. But know this, both within and without my writing, the knowledge I intend to impart upon you is one and the same.

    There's plenty I can't say about my situation due to how precarious it is. If I could it would certainly make things easier but...that's not the case.
    So let me put it another way. People are against me talking about myself, but I am the only person I can talk about openly without causing a stir. No more politics for me.
    Anyway, on with the example: So no matter where you look, chances are you've realized how much our world has changed...especially through the media. The creators of the content we so look forward to aren't just names anymore. They've become faces, they've become people we can actively communicate with through various means of social media and all sorts of other means. Video streams and live streams, Twitter, Instagram, whatever. They're people who impact our lives and we impact theirs. This is a major part of most societies nowadays and my studies(not personal studies but actual educational studies) talk about this very fact. This is the face of our society. And you know what else?

    That face isn't always pretty.

    There are a lot of hard, ugly truths that accompany the facts. How do we face these? How do we overcome them? Who and what will be affected and how can we contribute? These are questions we should all ask ourselves.
    I'm probably in no position to be speaking like this, but these are certainly things I have asked myself. It's why I would swallow my pride and return here...because I know...I understand and I've agonized over it for years.
    But I also want you to understand that in spite of everything you might know or believe about the way the world works, that there is indeed a face behind these messages. The stories I tell aren't just things that are made up, mind. Just like your favourite Youtuber, that artist you follow on Twitter or that person that writes your favourite poetry on whatever site, there is a face behind all of them and through their words and actions you come to understand something or many things about them. It forges a bond between the looker and the actor. I can't stress enough the importance of it.
    I'm sure you know that already, but not everything can be told at a glance.

    Because it was requested was not the only reason I wrote TEAL, Another or ATAP. I never have actually said it to anyone, but Kana was one of the most complex characters I had ever brainstormed, but like all things I've done, it would take more time for her character to properly unfold in its entirety. I hope that TEAL showed that somewhat, but it barely scratches the surface of what she truly is like. I did it from the eyes of an observer, that being Talin and his dishonest disposition about her doesn't truly cover her traits. But that's his character and something they all embrace about him. If I can convince myself to stay here for long enough I'd like to do an in-depth analysis of her character where I can talk about her as an author, the bits of her backstory that I never spoke of and what we don't know about the situations presented in the things we have here, things that aren't and especially in TEAL.

    There are a couple more things I'd like to talk about. If my plans go awry which they're won't to do, I'll stay longer--regardless of whether they do or don't, I'll likely cover what I have in mind later, but to address the issues in my life first are my priority, if possible. But that's the present and I've nothing to teach through that, so I'll leave that out.

    Let me tell you an old story. Perhaps one you've heard before or know already, but one that will always remind me that...people can change. If they really and truly wish to...and the value of those who would take the chance to offer them that opportunity.

    Now, back in my teenage days I was...pretty bad. Not rebellious teenager bad, but nihilistic prick bad. If my last post here was any indication, it's that sometimes the skeletons come out of the closet. I'd had some bad experiences and I was to blame for some of them. Perhaps some were undeserved, find someone to blame wouldn't exactly bring me some form of satisfaction, really.
    Anyway I'd met somebody. We lived in different cities but we were cool. We'd talk about shit and game once in a while. We got close and started talking over the phone. I didn't say much back then 'cause my thing was glaring at people. They didn't like me and I loathed them. Life goes on, you know.
    That person didn't give a crap about my faults nor my bark that was worse than my bite. They'd share all sorts of secrets with me or would confide in me if something happened. Even about the personal things. I didn't think I was the best person to ask, but to be trusted with that Sooner or later I started helping with patching up relationships and whatnot. To be able to be of some help to that person meant the world to me.
    You'd probably guessed it by now but yeah, it was one-sided.
    Anyway some shit happened and then that person vanished. The end.

    Moral of the story is that there's something to be learned here. Now you know something about me. You don't need to care, you could if you want, it doesn't matter. More importantly than that, I want you to consider how that affects your personal life. As I said before, the reality can be harsh. You might have a fight with someone and go your separate ways, but know that you won't always get the chance to make up with that person. Sometimes they'll go out of your reach...and sometimes you'll never see them again because someone or something laid a claim to their life. And just like that, they're out of yours...or everyone's. Your words would have to remain unspoken.

    As you read Frequency, TEAL, or anything else by me I want you to consider these things. True, they're kinda mediocre fanfiction...but I want the experiences within them to be as real as they are in real life. If it isn't already obvious, I'm not a very emotional person. The world can indeed shape the man. Writing this, however requires me to dig into the deepest parts of my psyche to look upon painful experiences, loss both in life and death and emulate them--so that my readers might see the world through my eyes, but without the bloody and bleak outlook I often have. There is hope in this work...but giving it a form is no small feat.
    I've still such a long way to go but...there is someone I can think of right off the bat who can truly capture the painful, at times beautiful and magnificent feelings of raw emotion through words. That is something I yearn to do, but need to learn from their example and find out how I can do so in a way that fits someone like me.

    Nevertheless, leaving aside the author's side of things here, take what I've said today and look at my work through new eyes if you've as of yet been able to see everything as it is--then once more to see what it can be. Amata's story is a great place to start and though I can't say too much about it, it does face some of these very themes. Those that follow will also hit heart-rending notes, or so I hope as different characters face their own challenges.

    So this time...let me speak how I truly feel. We're all in a very difficult situation, but this More or less. We rely on each other--we all do. We're all bound in one way or another and as take we give back in whatever means we can. I'm uhh...a little embarrassed to admit it but this is one way I can do so. Not this, mind! Well maybe this know.
    Anyway I', for now. There are people who would give for me, so I'll make an effort to extend them that same courtesy.

    Though I do have to say, as terrible as it may sound, as a popular artist once said, there's beauty in the breakdown. I'm sure someday I'll get to appreciate that in the fullest extent, but let's make an effort to prevent that, shall we?

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    Post  TJ on Wed Oct 19, 2016 6:06 pm

    I feel like I'd brought this upon myself plans didn't go accordingly so here I am still. There's no easy road for me is there? Life's hella unfair.
    So, shall we?

    Let's Talk About Kana(For All):
    You know, I'd spent like 5 years mulling this over and now that I'm finally doing it, I feel like I'm gonna blow it. Go figure!

    The internet is prone to hate. All of them haters sitting in their computer chairs with a bottle of hatorade at the ready and cracking their knuckles can just take a backseat for a minute. Before you can say, "She's a manic-pixie-dreamgirl' or 'Your waifu is shit!' let me tell you she's neither of those things lol. Moving on!
    The Eccentric Pervert's Legacy:
    So let's start at the beginning. You're probably wondering why the hell Kana's that mysterious transfer student aren't you? There was actually a reason. To put it bluntly, nobody likes a fortune teller. Especially one that can actually see their future.
    To give it context, Kana used to go to an all Anima school in another part of the city. Growing up with a talent like that, I'm sure any kid would want to show it off, if not to make friends. The thing is, what comes out of her visions isn't always...pretty. People wouldn't like that and kids can be pretty blunt about that. As you'd imagine, sooner rather than later she made an outcast of herself and an enemy of both parents and teachers alike, so doing what she did best became an unwelcome thing and Kana did also by extension. She began not wanting to be there and this made things difficult for her mother(Mrs. Altea, not Hilde. She too had a foster parent, hence why she lived on Earth too. She only appears in the short "Birthday(Tea) Party" though.)
    Eventually they moved and given a chance to start over, she did so. After what had happened though, her mother insisted that should she look into anyone's future that it be hers so that she doesn't upset any of the other students and in it she saw how her relationship with Talin unfolded through her mother's eyes.

    Which pretty much set her on a beeline for the unsuspecting Dark Elf. Through his monologues/dialogues we find out that she actually had a pretty good rapport with her classmates. However with him, she showed no self-restraint...but the reason isn't what you think. She didn't do so because she was a pervert, but rather it was the quickest way to get him to lower his guard. Well actually, in his case it caused him to raise his guard, but in doing so she simultaneously managed to get into his space, leave an impression and continue to have an impact on him with her continued presence.
    The surprising thing is, if she had approached him like any of the other girls he wouldn't have given her the time of day because he'd have expected her to be like the others. You see an example of that when she introduces herself to him. That was, of course she became a pervert lol.
    However, at the very least he was the only one she sexually harassed. For the record, I, under any and all circumstances, do not condone sexual harassment. These are characters in a novel, so do so at your own risk.

    Anyway, leaving their past aside she had stuck to him like glue. In him she found a lifelong friend who would, in fact someday really and truly need her and in her he found solace where he would find none else. Now the reason she joined him wasn't just because she wanted a comrade in isolation--he allowed her to look into his future(mind this was before she had gotten skilled enough for him to see what she saw) and in so doing she came to realize that her actions would set his fate into motion and later on decide his destiny.
    In V1 they talked about the event that was to take place that day and she advised him against going. You might be thinking, "If someone told me not to do something, I would definitely do it!" and if so well...I pity the fool. He didn't do so under that pretense though. In all honesty, the reason she warned him was because it was a crux of his destiny. If he went he would run into Shea and then the story would set in motion, because she'd cause the Unification to happen again. He'd be dragged to Azenham and well...the five heroes would finally be in the same realm, which is where Project H/H typically begins. If she had actually told him what would happen he would avoid that fate, which would be out of Shea's expectations, thus he'd avoid being caught up in their dilemma for a time.

    While he was gone she would go to his family and tell them what happens while being the one to comfort them in their grief. In his place also, she was going to look after Belle as if she were her own sister.

    The second crux of his destiny was her giving him the scarf during the short story "Birthday(Tea) Party". It was, in essence her foreshadowing for what was to come. In the story she had said it was because he hated toques and would not wear one, which was true. He hadn't known what purpose the scarf would serve at the time, but she did and in doing so she was embracing the potential possibility that she would in fact, die during his journey.

    What really made her shine however was the third major crux of destiny that involved the two--that being his success/failure at saving her. Obviously it would be easy to warn him of what was to come and change his fate, but in doing so she would be committing two major taboos. The first would be going against his wish not to know what his future pertained. The second would be to dramatically alter the futures of the people around her to create a world where nothing went wrong. To her, that would be overstepping her boundaries and in essence be playing god. She wanted him to decide for himself what the end result would be--to fight, tooth and nail and grasp at the future that he desired the most and to claim it with the knowledge that he did so with his own power. This was not just for himself, mind, but for all those who watched the trials and tribulations he went through to save Azenham.

    As one would expect, she did not know exactly how his fate would change after the event where they reunited. What she knew was that the scarf would serve to neutralize his curse, alongside her sacrifice. She went along with him knowing full well that they would kill her, but did so knowing that in death she may have been able to change Talin's fate and by extension Azenham's.

    Now this is where things get a little...iffy? I mean, feminism is a thing. I'm okay with people calling me a feminist. This however, would contradict that at a first glance, so before you freak out, bear with me for a while.
    What Kana did, in essence, was give herself whole-heartedly to him. You know, body and soul. Typically when that's the case they become the kind of girls that would kill the competition but...well she wasn't that type. Thankfully? A-anyway...this was one of the things I myself had a conflict with. The time it would take for me to flesh out her character enough to justify it vs. the speed at which the readers would determine she was a worthless character was immense. I wondered how I could make her acceptable to such a point where they could look beside what may have been obvious or temporary flaws to see her character unfold and I agonized over it the entire time I had written the story...and beyond.
    Even now, I have trouble doing so...but I do have a decent, albeit strange explanation for her actions.

    Going back all the way to when I was 14 I think? I developed a tendency to often write my characters in pairs. It doesn't always have to be romantic, mind, but they usually had someone that acted as the deuteragonist. It initially started with a project I did for an assignment and went on from there.
    You can see this fact now in most my works--for example, TJ has Su, Reina has Salem, Peorth has Kooh, etc. Talin and Kana were originally a pair also. Back when we were brainstorming ideas, me and Mr. A talked about a character and their foil. We built our characters somewhat around that fact with the thought in mind that they would bounce well off of each other to make for an interesting cast.
    As I designed Talin, I had considered what would make a good foil for him. I realized how difficult his character would be to work with and so I came up with someone who would fit perfectly in that scenario. In short, she became the boke to his tsukkomi. Despite how difficult she was, she fit the slot of deuteragonist for him perfectly, and so they became two halves of a whole. I realized it would also make for an interesting change when he became separated from her because his retorts would more often than not, have little or no impact on the other characters.
    I have a couple excerpts from V3 that'll give you an idea of what I mean.
    It's so bad it's almost good:
    “Bruce Milliner, sailor extraordinaire.” Bruce replied while offering the mayor a handshake.
    The two shook hands and the mayor shifted his gaze to Heinrichter uneasily. The boy nearly jumped after feeling the mayor’s gaze on his back but he remained focus on his task at hand. “Your companion is awfully quiet.”
    “Ah! Yes yes he is. This is Hei-nz. He is the soft-spoken type. Do not mind it. Now then, what could we do for you Mr. Ingle?”

    “Consider it done.” The mayor said his goodbyes and parted ways with the two. “Shall we be on our way Heinz?”
    “Seriously Bruce? Heinz? Do I look like a bottle of ketchup to you?” The pirate gave him a puzzled glance and Heinrichter sighed. “Why do you have to keep my name a secret too? Is this chancellor guy that important?”
    There's a bit of dialogue in between but I didn't include that stuff. Quest details, not important to this. Also I feel I've gained a greater appreciation of Kana after reading that.

    Moving on! Or rather, back on topic! After I played P4 back in 2015 I think? Or was it 2014? It's somewhere in the archives here. I started to familiarize myself with the arcana, their symbolism and what it has to do with the characters involved. I think that was a major step in my understanding of symbolism and I certainly did learn a lot from it, while also gaining a greater appreciation of the series myself. My first experiences with Persona were someone I knew making a bad joke about P3's battle theme name lol. That, and hearing about people shooting themselves in the head to summon monsters. You could imagine my reaction at that.
    But that's off topic! Back on topic! From those experiences I came up with a sort of catchphrase or mantra that my work often follows. "Every Fool has his/her Magician". Those words remind me of what I've learned and often serve as the driving force behind the pro/deuteragonists I work with.
    Now here's the kicker! Talin was one of the protagonists in Project H/H while Kana was in the supporting cast. Of that duo however, she was the Fool and he her Magician. I'm sure you can find the symbolism on those two cards so let me tell you why it is this way.
    Throughout the stories, you'll often hear him talk about her. As Vanir, you can see his regret in losing her, in failing to save her and by extension the care he shows towards Reina's well-being. In TEAL and the other Another stories, we see the difference in what would happen if she wasn't killed. She's the one who alters destiny. As he mentioned in the story, her living is necessary to getting Shea to aid them, to stopping Eve from going berserk and cursing Talin, and finally to give the two Anima's kin the ability to take on their true forms. In her coming to know the pirates, to meeting all of those Talin had met including her birth-brother and awakening to her true self, she too could transform from the Fool to the World, and in so doing get to the heart of the matter, changing all of their fates.
    She is a fool by every meaning of the arcana. In TEAL you can see how she entrusts her life completely to him. Despite all the dangers he puts her in and the warnings he issues, she shows no fear nor apprehension at his actions. She believes in what he intends to do and follows him without question...that sounds bad. I don't mean it like THAT, you know? Well you get what I mean right? ...Right?

    She's kind of a controversial character. But that's also part of what makes her character so complex. I wanted to step outside the norm in designing her and so it was. I suppose to that end, I also wanted to make a character who was very one-dimensional at a glance but could be so much more given the opportunity. My early years with Frequency often included me trying to figure out ways I could catch an audience's attention with things they didn't consider cliche. My opinion on it differs now that I'm a little older but...well you could see the end result lol.

    That is the long and short of how Kana came to be. In a sense, the untold story. Of course, some of it happened after I had stopped writing it, but like all those others who had made a return like Layla, she was a character I had not entirely discarded because the story had not seen its end.
    I have to admit though, that her character also served as the basis of Alessa. Alessa is kinda like Kana divided by...100. It's not easy to reach 'best girl friend' status, you know. She too developed in the same way Kana did. Like a freakin' rocketship baby! USSR helped me develop her further and you'll be seeing more of her in Sanc also.

    I've said just about all I have to about Kana really. I suppose the last piece I wanted to add is that...well, I really wanted to write a character who knew how to love someone from the bottom of their heart. I know in real life her example would be a bit extreme, but it was without a doubt a learning experience for an aspiring author. I do realize most readers would likely feel uncomfortable with having a character like that so there aren't any like her in Sanc. Again, the closest it gets is Alessa but she her complexities too. And before you can say Kooh, I haven't even STARTED on her character development. She's gonna be a rollercoaster.

    Anyway, before I start spoiling things I'm gonna GTFO. Idk what I'll do the next time I come back. I'm conflicted between skipping the reviews and going right into the overview and well...vice versa. Hopefully this at least gives you a better perspective on Kana's character. A lot of thought went into her, I just never know, actually covered it. At least not so in-depth. It's just subtle little details in the actual stories.
    So yeah! That's it! Goodbye! For now? I guess???

    Posts : 895
    Join date : 2009-03-29
    Age : 26
    Location : Cake Tooooooowwwn

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    Post  TJ on Mon Oct 24, 2016 2:36 pm

    Despite what I said before I'm not actually here to do that. However, I'm going to share with you the links to the original documents for Project H/H.
    Before I do however, lemme clarify a few things. Technically there IS 3 versions of it, but V1 and V2 are almost exactly the same. I think? Scratch that, after reading it over I realized that I overhauled the characters after a discussion with some of the others. I'll post it here too.
    That's not the important thing I wanted to cover, though. In V2, Talin's meeting with Heinrichter speaks about the lore of their world in great detail. The thing about this is that it's...well it's  HUGE spoiler. I mean, like...125%. No holds barred. Absolute Spoilerdom. For Sanc, at that. Sort of? To give it more context, it talks about something, vaguely, regarding the stories in God Ah's Larghissimo. It also explains quite a lot about a certain race prior to having their names changed know, discuss with care? Or don't discuss it at all, because it's my shame in a digital format lol. Read if you're curious, read if you wanna formulate ideas or read if you're just bored. But again, try to keep any potential spoilers/theories under wraps so those who don't want to know don't have to.
    The other thing I want you to remember is that as each version is a separate entity in and of itself, not all things mentioned will hold ground in the next. V3 was the last one I had done, and that was, more or less the closest to the canon as possible.

    Now then, without further ado:
    (Btw, if you have any doubts ab out the legitimacy of these links, I can assure you with 66% accuracy that I am probably, most definitely not a robot that would send you a virus via google docs.)
    Hero V1:

    Hero V2:

    Hero V3:

    Birthday(Tea) Party:

    Ahh...I knew the day would come. That or I'd never hear the end of it. It's been five years since I started this project. Three years since I dropped it. Suppose its time that I let it go. Still, in it I left a part of me, my memories and a part of Frequency. With me I carry a small part of it in the form of Talin and Skuld. As I've mentioned before, though the work may have been discarded, it certainly isn't forgotten. I guess carrying a bit of things from everything I do helps me to remember them as I age.
    Before I go back to the Sanc forums there's one more bit of trivia I'll share with ya.

    She wanted her trophy:
    I'm sure you've noticed by now, but TJ's spell in Frequency 'Caster's Workshop' is actually based around Smith's unique skill 'Frozen Armoury'. The long and short of it is that it's a watered-down version simple enough for TJ to do.
    Around the time I started Sanc, and by extension Hero I had planned to a do a crossover between them. I'll show you a couple excerpts that point to this.

    From Sanc:
    The barista smiled wryly. “Are you serious? Do I look like some kind of hint NPC to you?” TJ tilted his head quizzically. “Should have expected that reaction...regardless, I'll do what I can. If you're gonna come all the way here, you better buy something next time you hear? I don't run a charity!”
    He smiled. “I will. It's a promise.”
    The barista clicked his tongue. “Freakin' pretty boys. One more thing before you go.” The young man gave him a curious stare and nearly jumped when Vanir placed his hands on his shoulders. “I heard about you using a spell some time ago from a mission you were on...what'd the Ice Queen call it? Caster's Workshop? How did, do you know where you learned it? Did someone teach you?”
    TJ rubbed his chin thoughtfully. He could recall using the spell during his fight with Su but not where he had learned it. Who had taught him? Or where exactly did he learn any of the spells that Peorth had not passed on to him? He shook his head. “I dunno. That part of my memory is missing too. Sorry Vanir.”
    He let go of the young man and sighed. “Nah...nothing you need to apologize for. You've got amnesia. Didn't do anything wrong. If you do remember something about it, tell me ASAP, got it?”
    “Yeah...okay. Will you tell me the reason though?”
    The barista cracked a tiny grin. “I'll tell you when you're ready. Now get out of my sight. Go get that box kid.”

    From Inno:
    He fumbled the cup he was holding and narrowly managed to catch it while shouting, “Gods!” After successfully managing to get a proper hold on it, he gave her a stern glare. “Have you gone mad?! You're skin and bones! Your body says you're not fit to be a warrior!”
    “I'll do whatever you tell me to do, so if you can, teach me!” She was adamant on having her way and he knew it.
    “Why don't you study to become a wizard? Trust me, I've seen some real warriors before, both male and female and they were not the type you'd want to cross swords with. Hell, I used to run the gamut with one of the finest warriors in all the realm. She and some other power houses kicked my ass. Badly. It's a damn miracle that I survived with a few scrapes.” He frowned. “As for you, you're not cut out to be a warrior. If you're so vehement on doing it, I'll be damned if I could actually convince you not to, but if you can't even be in the vicinity of a man you'll only get yourself killed. I don't need that on my conscience.”

    So! Originally before the Asgardians fled their home TJ was actually supposed to train under Smith and Cattleya, those two being the only ones who had left Azenham in pursuit of Vanir...after he ruined everything lol. Smith was the one who taught TJ basic water magic and from her he was to learn her skill-however, unlike her he wasn't a master of weapons or magic so he could only do very basic creations that were within his skill level. Despite having the ability now, he still struggles because he doesn't have the strength nor skill to wield them. Cattleya was the one who would teach him armed and hand-to-hand combat. That idea got scrapped a little later, though.
    Nevertheless, as you can see it was foreshadowing that sooner or later the two would find him to finish what they started lol. I suppose you could say the irony of the story is that in Talin surpassing his father in raw might, he became the next best target for Smith. Actually, all things considered he surpassed everyone in Azenham because of his use of the Animus Legio.

    Anyway that's all I have to say on this matter for now! I've gotta get back to the Sanc forums 'cause I'm being rushed. There's only like 20 missing pages though??? Hope you enjoyed these little trivia tidbits at least!

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