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Mu11berry

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Everything posted by Mu11berry

  1. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    Hi guys! I'm back!! Probably most of you don't remember me (I don't remember that many of you so I'm hoping anyway) but I used to frequent Spam Haven and the story forum. Theennn I got busy and the site changed and I was sort of intimidated, but now here I am again! I have returned from the dead! And I am going to share my "art" with you! Because the world needs more AV art, and not because my art is any good XD Actually it's pretty much the opposite of good, but I try. The image quality is HORRIBLE because I draw on paper and then take pictures of it. So I am sorry. Just enjoy the poorly done fanart, okay?! (If it even shows up. Hopefully it shows up) First up, Kandy, who is not an official Aveyond character but comes from a fanfic called "Shadows of my Twisted Destiny," by Queen_of_ice101, who is a truly amazing writer, by the way. Evil, but amazing. I tried to give her a sort of rebellious/evil but girly look, and instead she looks like Strawberry Shortcake on Halloween, but ya know. This is why I am not a character designer. Next, Rhen, cuz she's awesome. Not colored, because I drew her in my sketchbook instead of on loose paper, and I am left-handed so it is a pain to color anything in books. True story.
  2. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    I don't even know how to introduce this, so here. Here is my sappy, sentimental, silly, sometimes angsty, always fluffy collection of oneshots, wherein Rhen Darzon/Pendragon and Dameon Maurva fall in love. There will also be cats I'm going to try to post everything in chronological order here, so updates will be slow because unfortunately I am not one of those people who can write in chronological order. But the most up-to-date version of this fic will be on fanfiction.net, because I can rearrange chapters over there (which was so nice once I figured out how to do it!) One thing I can't do on ff.net, though, is include deleted scenes. Which I can totally do here, and I have some funny/cute ones, so I might share those here >.> Before we start, I'd like to thank the Aveyond team for creating such beautiful characters who have taught me so much. Aaaannd before I become too dramatic, here we go!! EDIT: So Queen_of_ice101 had to go and inspire me to write another piece with her adorable artwork, and this new piece is set before the original first one, "A Matter of Preference." But it's a short piece, so I'll just paste it in here and there'll be two chapters on the first post. That's fine, right? Am I breaking some forgotten rule here? But anyway, here it is: Confounded Set when Rhen is bringing Rashnu to the Sun Shrine. Dameon is waiting to meet her and then join her and convince her to join Ahriman. We’ll see how that works out for him. ________________________________ He was going to hate her. He knew, because his mother liked her so much. And he would never trust her— he had learned his lesson about trust. But she was going to trust him. He knew his place, and his part, and he would do what was required. He was prepared to swallow his irritation, his dislike, his discomfort— all of it. He would be charismatic, like his father. He would force a smile. He would say nothing wrong. She would be pompous, he knew. She would be full of being the chosen one, and he would have to take her down, carefully, slowly, so she wouldn't notice, so she would only gradually realize how impossible it would be to defeat Ahriman, how hopeless it was to even try. She would be puffed up with her own supposed importance, and he would have to show her what was really important— justice to traitors, traitors like his mother; and revenge for the wronged— surely even she, even the chosen one, had been hurt by someone, surely such a promise would appeal even to her. So he was prepared entirely to meet her, and as he watched her lead her companions up the temple steps, her braid swaying behind her, he knew he had been right about everything. Nothing she could do would surprise him, nothing would make him hesitate or doubt, nothing, nothing, would fool him into trusting her. Nothing, except the way she tripped right over the last step, and her arms flailed about wildly and her eyes caught his and he realized that she was going to fall, if he didn't move his arms right— now— He caught her shoulders, and he was already much, much closer than he'd ever intended to be and he hadn't even introduced himself yet. "Hello there," she said, which he never would have predicted even though now it seemed terribly obvious. She found her balance, and stood up straight again, and he pulled his hands back to his sides and tried to look polite, but he was sure he mostly looked bewildered. And she seemed to be trying to look serious but her nose was pink and her voice squeaked a little when she said, "I don't think we've met. Are you one of the druids?" He had prepared for this. He had an answer, which he was supposed to give, and it was supposed to be cordial, and charming, and he had no idea what it was— her eyes were purple, but that had nothing to do with it. "Rhen, this is my son Dameon, the Sun Priest." His mother's voice irked him, and he was sure he sounded stiff and cold when he said to the chosen one, "M'lady, pleased to meet you." He took her hand to make up for it, and he wasn't sure if he was trying to be formal or friendly but it was too late, he had kissed her fingers, and they were very calloused, and she was turning a very charming shade of pink. And either he had been a fool before, or he was a fool now, but he thought it would be ridiculous to try to strip away her pretensions, because she had none. And he never could have prepared for it, but somehow now he was smiling at her, and he knew, already, that this wouldn't be the last time she confounded him. ______________________________ A Matter of Preference This next short happens shortly (hahahaha) after Dameon joins Rhen's party. They are returning to Ghed'ahre to recruit Te'ijal into their group, having obtained sunscreen, but before they get there it starts to get dark and they have to camp in the Wildwoods. ______________________________________ "This looks like a good place to camp," the sword singer said, motioning at a flat space slightly sheltered by a few tall pine trees. The green-haired one wrinkled his nose. "It looks lumpy." Rhen rolled her eyes and explained to Dameon, "Lars always thinks that." Dameon nodded understandingly and privately thought that the sorcerer's antics were likely to become annoying very quickly. The sword singer turned to their other companion. "Elini, why don't we—" "I am not gathering firewood again!" the Veldtonian woman declared. "I get splinters and they make it difficult to do my summonings. I will set up the sleeping mats. You two can get the wood." "Er... Okay," the chosen one said. Dameon noticed that a blush had bloomed across her face, stretching over her nose and touching the edges of each ear. It was very charming and he couldn't help smiling at her. She didn't notice because she was stubbornly looking at the ground. "I'll light the fire once you're done," Lars volunteered, apparently feeling he was making a great sacrifice in doing so. Dameon rolled his eyes, but said in what he meant to be a polite tone, "Of course." "We'll have to go deeper into the trees," Rhen was saying to him, already walking that way herself. "I have camped before, you know," he said as he followed her into the woods, a little peeved at her apparent lack of faith in his abilities to do anything. Earlier she had cut down a crow that was coming his way, and at lunch she had ripped off his piece of bread for him. She turned back to face him and suddenly all he could see were wide, sad violet eyes which were staring straight through him. He dropped his gaze, feeling ashamed for he didn't know what, and mumbled in a flustered sort of way, "Sorry, m'lady." "I... am sorry, too," she said. "I guess I'm just used to having to take care of everyone." Her nose was pink again and it was so adorable that he forgot to be uncomfortable. "No more, sword singer," he assured her. "I will pull my own weight." To prove it, he picked up a stick. "See, I am contributing already." She smiled, just slightly, and Dameon realized the strangest thing. He had just made a joke. Albeit not a good one, but he hadn't even heard a joke since... since his father… since that day. He wasn't sure how to feel, but he was sure he shouldn't feel lightheaded and nervous. What was happening to him? They didn't speak much after that, except to point out bunches of sticks to each other. Once he moved a particularly low-hanging branch out of her way, and her shoulder brushed his hand as she passed. He felt his ears get hot and he silently thanked the darkness of the forest. He had fully intended to hate her. But she was so sincere, so entirely herself. She spoke as she thought and was so open that instead of disliking her he found that he was rapidly opening up to her. And that was both exciting and terrifying. When they had both filled their arms with sticks of varying sizes, they returned to the campground. Lars started the fire and Rhen passed out hunks of meat. Everyone reached for a thin stick to roast their dinner on, and Dameon did likewise. Nobody spoke. Everyone's meat was soon sizzling over the flames. The smoke rose straight up into the sky—the slight breeze wasn't enough to drive it into anyone's face. And over the smoke, the sky was clear and starry. "The weather is nice," Dameon observed conversationally, then quietly cursed himself for making such a dull comment. "Mmgdh," Elini said, but she wasn't responding to him. She was trying to bite off a piece of practically raw meat. Dameon was shocked and a little disgusted, but he quickly turned back to the fire. "Elini likes her meat rare," Rhen explained. "Mmpft" Elini said, having successfully taken a bite. "I also prefer my meat rare. Anything more done is dog food," Lars said haughtily. Then, his meat caught on fire. "Arrgh!" he squealed, beating his now blackened meat against the ground beside him until sparks stopped flying from it. "Blasted flames! Every time..." Dameon smiled slightly, a little amused, then turned to Rhen. "And how do you like your meat?" "Er," she looked at the ground, "Medium. But I can never get it right." "Why not?" "I, er, never really learned..." she trailed off. Dameon stared at her, but instead of seeing her he saw a lock of purple hair from a slave dealer, purple, not red, and he thought of her thin form curled in the dirty lower decks of a slave ship, or bent beneath a heavy burden, or flinching under— under— He shuddered. "I am... sorry, sword singer." She smiled thinly. "That's all right. I'm sure I'll get it eventually." He couldn't tell her what he had meant. Instead, he reached for her stick. "Let me try." "O—kay," she said, looking surprised but letting him take it. "Er, where did you learn to cook?" "I—" he swallowed, and said carefully, "lived alone, for some time." He turned her stick and moved it farther from the fire. "Oh," she said, and looked down, apparently embarrassed. "Couldn't you just eat in Teacup Town?" Lars said with a roll of his eyes. Dameon drew his eyebrows together, unsure how to respond. "They're cats..." Lars shrugged. "So?" "They eat cat food." Suddenly Lars smiled viciously. "It sounds perfect for Peta then." Dameon was confused. Did they have a dog? He hadn't seen one. "Don't call me that," Rhen growled, and Dameon realized what was going on. He frowned at the sorcerer, but Lars hardly noticed and continued to smirk. "Ahh," Elini sighed contentedly, apparently having finished her meat. "That's it for me, sword singer... Sun priest... sorcerer..." She inclined her head at each in turn. "I will retire now. Goodnight, northerners." "Goodnight Elini," Rhen said. "I'm going to bed too," Lars said, tossing the rest of his burnt meat into the flames. "Don't forget to put out the fire." Rhen sighed. "We won't." Then it was just the two of them under the stars. He should say something. He should try to bring up the finer points of Ahriman's plan, slowly reveal the truth to her. His mouth was open but nothing was coming out. What was wrong with him? Her eyes were so purple, violently purple, like storm clouds whirling through a night sky, sometimes pouring down destruction, otherwise softly calling to the tiny growing things beneath the soil. He felt he couldn't look at them for too long or he would be swallowed up, lost, destroyed— yet he couldn't look away. He wanted to say something witty and charming. He wanted her to blush again. Blushing suited her, made her silly little nose look more adorable, made her eyes stand out twice as much— He realized then that she was blushing, though he hadn't said anything at all. "What are you looking at?" she asked, self-consciously moving a piece of hair out of her face. Embarrassed, he quickly looked away, then cleared his throat awkwardly. "Your dinner is done, sword singer." He handed her the stick, carefully keeping his eyes down. He heard her chomping down on the meat, sucking up the juices like a starved animal. She was certainly not an elegant eater, but he thought it was fitting. She had no pretensions about herself, why should she have any for her meal? Without noticing, he raised his gaze to look at her, and was a little surprised to see she had already finished half her food. She caught his eye, and said, perhaps a little shyly, "It's very good, thank you." "Is it?" He said, more excitedly than he had meant to. "I am very glad." And he was very glad, which was very strange, and he hesitated a little and then added, "It is a pleasure to cook for you." She smiled, a real smile, and it was infinitely more becoming than the blush.
  3. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    I've ranted a couple places about the new piece I accidentally wrote, and I finally got it posted here so yay! It's chapter 10, The Opposite of Solitude, and you can find it on the first page after A Little Help and before Getting a Place. I've felt like something was missing between those two chapters for a while now, so it's nice to finally know what it was. Also, I've been wanting to address some of the stuff I talk about in The Opposite of Solitude since the beginning, but it always felt I was intruding or just not the right time so I'm really excited this idea finally wrote itself. If it's easier to read on fanfiction.net than to go back to the first page and find the new chapter, here's a link: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/12094251/10/In-Pieces
  4. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    Today I have for this thread a gift for a friend who loves te'ijalahad, the last Aveyond 31 day challenge piece, and also a fluff which was made as a Christmas gift art trade thing and which I am obviously late to post here. But this time I am only five days late! So yay. The Te'ijalahad gift: #THIRTY ONE Aveyond 31 day fandom challenge (it only took me like a year and a half or something completely not ridiculous like that XD): NOTP of AV4 Christmas gift for AmayaSakuragi11
  5. Mu11berry

    Alicia or Talia? Let the shipping war begin!

    Okay, as a science nerd I am obligated to tell you guys that Scrivener is right, red + blue = purple is NOT how genetics works. What you're thinking of is either incomplete dominance or codominance, and neither would work to make purple out of red and blue. A gene being "dominant" means it produces a pigment, and recessive usually means it doesn't, or it is masked, inhibited, etc. In some cases a certain amount of gene product is required to make something appear a certain color. So if, for example, you had a flower with one copy of gene that produced red pigment (which would make it dominant) and one that produced no pigment (effectively white, and recessive) then you could get a pink flower because there wouldn't be enough red pigment to spread throughout the whole organism, and THAT would be incomplete dominance. Red and blue are both pigment so that's not what's happening here (and even if you headcanoned that blue somehow works like white in Aia or something similarly crazy which changed the laws of physics, you still wouldn't get that pastel color that Rhen has). Codominance would be when some cells/hair follicles/whatever the thing in question is produce the pigment encoded by one gene, and others end up producing the pigment made by the other. So if this was the case, you would have some hairs that were red and some that were blue. Still not purple, and definitely not pastel purple with blue ends. TL;DR, Alicia is definitely Rhen's mother, and if the science isn't enough honestly just Rhen's personality should be, she couldn't possibly be anyone else's daughter. Science and the inevitable aside, Alicia already lost pretty much everything, it just seems wrong to take away her daughter too, just to make a ship headcanon. As for the Talia/Devin or Alicia/Devin ships, I can see the appeal of both of them, and I think canonly we're supposed to be able to. Devin actually doesn't fall in love with Alicia during the quest, he states outright that he and Talia were in love before she became the dreamer. (Side note, I'm pretty sure his age is never stated in the games and that the only hints we have are that he must be older than 13 in the beginning since he's already named, but younger than ~16 because he doesn't go through his growth spurt until the 3 years at the collegium, which would make a max age difference of 2 years, not 3. But if anyone has screenshots that say otherwise I'm interested.) Devin fell in love with Alicia after the quest, and it was probably a natural progression from the friendship and respect that developed between them during the quest. I think him and Alicia were good for each other; they made a heckin awesome daughter, and Devin seems to have learned more about communication and taking others' autonomy into account from his time with her. I like him and Talia, but he really wasn't great at doing those things with her during the quest, and Alicia is the sort of person who would put her foot down and make those things happen. As for what Alicia got out of it, they both love fun and adventure and have this strong hero streak, and I really believe they were happy together during what little time they had. And after AV1, of course, Devin and Talia get to be friends again and I think that's really sweet. I think Devin would need a century or two to process his grief, and honestly Talia probably would too, but I do like to think that eventually they get together again, after they have figured everything out and learned how to communicate and important things like that.
  6. http://fav.me/dcaynxg 

    This gives me life and I can't use the relevant emoji on DA so :kawaii-love:

  7. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    Just SEVEN more inktober pieces! So I'll share those all today and then only have all the pieces I did after October to catch up on XD Prickly Stretch Thunder Gift Double Jolt Slice (the last inktober prompt!!!) Yay!! Inktober complete! And it didn't even take me 50 years XD
  8. Mu11berry

    Ahriman's Prophecy (REBOOT)

    Awesome! I'm excited!!
  9. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    How long is too long for an art thread? Anyway here are more pics because I am really so far behind it's ridiculous: Scorched Breakable Drain Expensive Muddy Chop I think two more posts like this will catch me up. The end is in sight at last XD
  10. egg2.jpg?width=192&height=301

    This egg would probably hatch into something cool if you brought it to Moo Hatchery.

  11. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    Today is the day of my birth! So I am updating! I'm really fond of this next little piece, actually. And, it is set towards the end of fall, and right now is towards the end of fall, so for once my timing is right! __________________________________________________________________ Innocence First off, tinctura hypericum is a powerful healing item in the game, maybe you remember it Tinctura in real life is a medicinal mixture and hypericum is a flowering plant which actually does have healing properties (which I know because I'm a nerd), and it tends to react badly with other pharmaceuticals. So now when Dameon does his nerd babbling thing, you will know what he's talking about. Which actually isn't necessary to understanding the story but it's nice to not be confused, yeah? This is a story about Rhen's innocence and her trying to reconcile her really very gentle and kind nature with the violence she has seen and done. Sometimes we see these things as mutually exclusive and I think Rhen would have to work through having both in her— and because of Dameon's experiences, he would be able to help. Happens in Thais, before Aesma. ____________________________________________________________________ The problem was, he had very soft lips, like marionbells or apple blossoms, and she had very rough hands, and she didn't understand— of all the places he could have kissed, her forehead, maybe, or her cheeks, or her mouth— but instead he always chose the dirtiest, roughest part of her and it was— was— Bewildering. Ma had always told her to wash her hands. And she had been right, Rhen's hands were always filthy. Rhen had used them to pick apples and catch butterflies and she couldn't remember a time there hadn't been dirt under her nails. When she was a slave she'd scrubbed walls and floors until she didn't have nails anymore. She'd smashed spiders with her palms and got their gooey guts all over her fingers, and nobody had been there to tell her to wash them. She'd rinsed the gore off in muddy streams and dried her hands on her ragged smock and wondered if she'd ever hear Ma's scolding again. And when she'd had to she'd grabbed a stick in her hands and swung it— the splinters she got were for Eddy and she didn't regret them but she knew they weren't beautiful. Violence was never anything but monstrous. Except, maybe— Maybe— She had learned how to make swords sing and she got more than splinters from that; cuts and bruises that faded away and rough calluses that didn't. And it was those which Dameon always kissed with his flower petal lips, like they meant something. I had no idea how skilled you were with a sword. Her skill surprised most people, nobody expected ferocity from her. They didn't know what she'd sacrificed to become like this, they didn't understand she fought because she had to, because no one else would, because somebody had to stand between the monsters and the helpless, and if that made her a monster, too, then— She would be what she must. Deadly and beautiful at the same time. Deadly she had heard before. Beautiful was— Familiar in the same way a bird's song was after a long, cold winter, something she had known once and forgotten. It was winter now, or nearly winter. It might as well always be winter in Thais, there were no birds and the only green things were the carefully kept trees growing in straight lines in the courtyards. They didn't look much older than Rhen was herself; their branches were still spindly and they stood hardly taller than Galahad. Some stubborn gardener had planted them after the demon attack, and had fought all the elements to keep them alive. That sort of fighting was— it wasn't really monstrous, was it? She couldn't bring herself to call it monstrous. There was another word for it. If she was Elini she might know what it was, but she was just Rhen and she didn't know, so instead she stood and watched the stupid trees swaying in the wind and wondered. It was Dameon who finally found her. He was good at that. "Hi, Rhen," he said softly as he came up next to her. "Hi, Dameon." She turned to face him. "Finished shopping already?" He smiled and swung his pack off his shoulder to show her. "We have plenty of cassia leaves now," he said, briefly touching the neat bundle he had wrapped them in, "and they had tinctura hypericum. I don't know where they got the flowers, nothing seems to grow here. We'll have to be careful not to take it with anything else, it can react badly and— Rhen?" he interrupted himself. "Is something wrong?" She had been staring at the trees again. She forced herself to look away from them and tried to smile. "No," she said, in a tone that was meant to be convincing but was mostly tired. "Go on, I'm listening. You were talking about flowers." She had heard something about flowers, and nothing growing, and then she had lost track. "Flowers…" he repeated slowly, looking at her and then at the trees and furrowing his brow. Apparently that hadn't been his main topic. "Well, I— I couldn't find any flowers, but—" he cleared his throat almost nervously, which wasn't exactly the reaction she had expected, and then, "I did find something for you." He was rummaging around in his pack, and he pulled out something small and leather. "I— I noticed your old gloves were wearing out, and these looked like they would fit you. They do have flowers on the ends." His ears were pink as he held them out for her to take. There were little blue asters embroidered along the wrist seams. They were very pretty, which seemed strange for something made for a fighter, but it was sort of— nice. And she had never been eloquent, she wasn't sure what to say, but she managed to stammer out, "Er, thanks, Dameon," and then— He smiled at her, that stupid sappy smile that made her cheeks hot, and he took one of her hands in his and gently pressed it to his stupid soft lips— which was— which was— "Why do you do that?" she asked, searching his face. He tilted his head at her. "Do what?" She was very warm and probably very pink and her heart seemed to have forgotten its regular rhythm and was now inventing its own wild pulse, but she was stubborn and she managed to say, without squeaking, "Why do you kiss my hands?" There was a pause while he thought— his silences were familiar now, his slow and careful ways were soothing, and she found her breath as he brushed her hair back behind her ear. "I guess because— your hands do so much for others— and for— me." He looked at her with those deep brown eyes and that serious little frown and she clutched at the gloves. "I just want to— take care of them." And he took both her hands, and pressed them to his heart the same way she might have pressed a marionbell to hers when she was a small child with dirt under her nails— Deadly and beautiful. He cherished even the parts of her that were frightening, and the word for that was— Was— "Well, you could kiss my mouth, you know." And he did, so, so softly she might have thought it was spring and the flowers had grown again.
  12. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    Here are some more!! Cruel Whale Guarded Clock Weak Angular Bottle Aaand I should probably be done now, I really don't want to overwhelm anyone's page but I'm so behind on sharing art here, ahaha. Soon. Soon I will be caught up. Maybe,
  13. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    @Ishti Awww, thank you!! That's such a nice thing to say and I appreciate it a whole heckin lot @NickyLOL48 Thank you!! Frederick is red cuz he's blushing at your compliment _______________________________ Here's the next few! Drooling (very slight AV4 spoiler. Just one kind of silly line but if you haven't played it and like to go in blind then feel free to skip) Exhausted (another av4 one, could be considered another minor spoiler? Not sure but skip if you're so inclined) Star Precious Flowing 1/3 done! Just 21 more to go ahaha
  14. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    Happy Halloween!! Here is an update that has nothing to do with Halloween!!! (If you're looking for something more in line with the spirit of the day, go reread "Me Too" on the first page, that's all I've got, haha. One day I'll write a oneshot actually meant for Halloween but not today, I've got candy to eat) Before we begin, I wanted to share that this collection is complete on fanfiction.net now and I'm really excited about it Also! This!! Is one of my favorite pieces, I'm very excited to share it. _________________________________ Trembling Happens in the Blasted Lands, probably on the way to the Dark Caverns. I have them camping on the way there and this piece starts in the dark hours of the morning. You don’t know it yet but this is the piece you’ve been waiting for, so enjoy this dameonxrhen okay thanks _____________________________________ It had grown in him so quietly he couldn’t say when it began; maybe yesterday, maybe weeks or even months ago. Parts of it he thought he could trace to that first moment her unconquerable eyes met his. Sometimes it felt like— like it had been growing in him his whole life. But that didn’t make any sense. It was only safe to say that it was growing, and— and it was uprooting his old ideas and fears. It was destroying him and building him over again. He didn’t know how. He wanted to tell her, and that didn’t make any sense either. Already she was stripping him of every defense, and defense was all he knew. Could he survive being that— exposed? Surely it was foolishness to try. And yet— And yet he had tried, so many times, to tell her. The words, if there were any, eluded him. He told her she was deadly and beautiful, and that— didn’t even begin to explain it. He told her about the stars and the rain and the sunrise and every achingly lovely thing he could think of, but none of it compared to— to— He told her she was brave. And wise. He tried to remind her that she was capable, and strong, and worthy of every happiness. And mostly, he just smiled at her and hoped somehow she understood the strange growing thing that was happening to his soul. Sometimes he thought it had something to do with her smile. She had a small thin little mouth but somehow her smile, her real smile, was as big as the crescent moon. He wished she could always have a reason to smile like that, and to sometimes be that reason himself was— was— Dameon shook his head and rolled over on his sleeping mat. He was just going to make it worse— stronger. Better? Sometimes he thought it was the way she laughed. She had two laughs, one muffled and shy like a fairy bell, and one that was startling, loud and happy and unrestrained. More than once, he caught himself telling jokes, real jokes, terrible jokes, and he wasn’t sure if she laughed because he told them or if he told them because she laughed. Her laugh, both laughs, made him want to laugh, and that was— Was— It was time to wake up, and stop— thinking. He pushed the blanket off himself and sat up and immediately regretted everything because it was cold. Too cold to wake up into. He looked up at where Te’ijal was keeping watch. She had the bottle of sunscreen in her lap and was rubbing creamy dollops of it onto her bare arms, apparently unaffected by the frigid air. The fire was dying. He couldn’t blame Te’ijal for not noticing; it wouldn’t make much difference to her. Galahad, on the other hand, had his blanket pulled up over his head and his knees curled into his chest. He looked rather like a very large and very cold and miserable cat, and rather unlike a gallant and fearless knight. Dameon would never tell him that, but he might tell Rhen, and then she might laugh and that would be— Anyway, Elini and Lars also looked cold and miserable. Pirate John’s teeth were chattering and Mad Marge looked— murderous, actually. If he didn’t stoke the fire soon she would probably kill them all. He groggily reached for his boots and pulled them on. They were cold. Everything was cold. He stood up and draped his blanket over his shoulders, and then clumsily stepped over Lars and around Galahad. Te’ijal glanced back at him and then down at the paladin, her mouth curving into a smile that was either fondness or mischief. Dameon was sure he didn’t want to know which. Elini pulled her feet up as he passed her mat. Rhen’s feet were already pulled up. He wouldn’t have known she was even on her mat except the shivering mound at the other end of it. He hesitated, and then— And then he knelt beside her, and put his blanket over hers. It would be warm enough soon with the fire anyway, and— when he pulled the blanket over her she made a little contented noise, like a hum, and he felt warmer already. If he could just tell her. He found the stick designated for coal-stirring and poked at what was left of the fire. Tiny sparks floated up from it like fairy dust. Fairy dust was supposed to reveal the truth, maybe he could just swallow some, and the words would come out. And then— and then— he didn’t know what came next. Maybe she would kill him, like his mother had his father. Maybe that’s how it always went. He pushed more sticks into the coals and watched them smoke and then ignite and slowly, quietly— burn, burn, burn. The sparks travelled up towards the sky, as if trying to join the stars there in infinite space. For once it was not overcast. That would probably change before the morning was over, if the slight but persistent breeze that was playing with the fire had anything to say about it. He might as well make breakfast. He made his way to the brown pack near John, and carefully pulled cooking utensils out of it, trying not to wake the sleeping pirate. John made a sound like a snort and Dameon froze, but then he rolled over and settled back into an easy breathing rhythm and Dameon realized it was just a snore. The oatmeal was in the pack by Elini. Elini was “rather weary” of oatmeal, she had informed them all yesterday morning. But Dameon didn’t know what else to make. He was so tired, and cold. Shivering, he put the oatmeal in a pot over the fire, and poured in water from his pouch. The sun was almost up now; the sky was glowing orange. And there, slowly but steadily approaching, were the gray clouds, painted by the dawn with pink and orange and vivid violet. His mother used to tell him she missed seeing the sun rise. Maybe she was watching the sky now, too. Maybe she didn’t care anymore. “Dameon?” He started, and whirled around to find that Rhen was awake and up, and she was holding her brush out towards him with a hesitating little frown. “Can you help me with my hair today? It’s too cold to do anything.” He nodded, and reached out to close his hand around the brush, but the corners of her mouth curved up and her little calloused fingers wrapped around his hand instead, and she pulled him to her mat to sit. It was easy to follow her. “Rhen—” he began as he bent his knees to sit behind her— he would tell her now, before he lost his nerves— if he could only find the words— he had no idea what to say after her name. “Rhen—” “Yes, Dameon?” she said, picking up his blanket and pulling it around her shoulders. “I— I—” he swallowed. He was shaking and he didn’t want his voice to shake, this was too important. “I— I hope you feel— warmer now.” That— was definitely not what he meant. And he definitely felt warmer now, a strange, trembling warmth that quivered in his stomach. She laughed, the shy, fairy bell laugh. “I do. Thank you for the blanket.” He managed some sort of inarticulate hum in response, and busied himself with untangling her hair. It was so curly in the mornings, twisting and looping over itself and refusing to be separated. It was stubborn. And soft, and— one of his favorite things. That feeling was swelling in his chest again. It had very little to do with her smile or her laugh, really. It was more about— about— something in the way she turned to him to help her. She trusted him, and it was exactly that simple and that perplexing. I think you have a good heart, Dameon. He wasn’t sure what that meant, but he knew that he wanted it to be true. He wanted to be someone she could depend on in this world of inconstancy. There was always a particularly obstinate tangle just at the back of her neck. He held it carefully and tried to separate it with his fingers. He could depend on her. She had proven it more than once. He was used to trusting only himself, he wasn’t sure how to let her in. He shouldn’t let her in— but she fit so softly into the ragged edges of his broken life. He was used to falling. He wasn’t used to the way she caught him, every time. He wanted to tell her. Maybe it was just “thank you,” maybe that’s what all this ridiculous feeling was about. He opened his mouth but the words were sticking to the back of his throat. He swallowed a few times, and what he managed to say was— “You— you’re— you’re still shivering, Rhen. Here, take my cloak.” He put the brush in his lap and swung the cloak off his shoulders and onto hers. She tried to protest, “No, you’ll be cold. Dameon!” She had a very good scolding voice, but he couldn’t have shivered if he tried. His cheeks were burning. “I’m fine. Sun Priest and all that,” he assured her, leaning forward to say it into her ear. She sensed the teasing in his voice and she laughed again even though the joke was stupid. He was getting much better— or maybe much worse— at stupid jokes. He finished brushing through her hair and carefully began separating it into three purple bunches. He remembered he had been surprised to learn braids needed only three sections, they looked more intricate than that, like they had six, maybe seven parts at least. But he had learned that the simplest things were sometimes the strongest. Rhen was the strongest thing he knew. Very strong, physically; she could probably wrestle a dragon and come out on top. But also— There was another sort of strength, a quieter, softer strength that lived not in her arms but in her self. She always— helped. He remembered, she had carried Theodore nearly the whole way to the Gentle Children's School. She didn't have to. The child could walk. But he laughed so hard when she swung him over her shoulders, the little warlock was completely enamored with her. Dameon had taken care of Theodore during battles. He had no idea how children worked, especially witch children. But Theodore hadn't seemed to mind, he just talked to Dameon like a grown-up. A very small, very strange grown-up. He told Dameon once that he used to think it was horribly wicked of him to not be wicked, and that he’d wished for his mother's sake he could be mean just once, but that now he thought, maybe, it was okay to be kind, even if sometimes it was hard. Dameon had nodded and ruffled the boy's hair like he’d seen Rhen do sometimes, and he’d thought to himself that these were heavy subjects for someone so young. Rhen was always kind when it was hard. Maybe especially then. She was fearless, and gentle, and— not really fearless at all, just brave. If he knew courage like that, he could— he could tell her. He was so afraid of what that level of trust could do to him, he remembered how it felt to be destroyed by someone he depended on. He knew what it was to burn to ashes. He was learning what it was to grow from them. Over and under, he weaved her hair around itself as carefully as he could. He wished he had words sufficient to tell her what he was thinking, or— or feeling. There were words, he could feel them burning in his lungs. But he couldn’t get them out through his mouth, any more than he could cough up his ribs. Over, and under— “Dameon,” a tired little voice protested. “You’ve got to braid my hair more tightly than that!” "Oh, Rhen—” "What if we get into a battle, and it comes loose?" "Well, I—" he twirled a lock of lavender around his fingers— it was wispy and fine and soft enough to kiss, and certainly much, much too delicate to pull tight, and— before he could catch himself he had leaned forward and brought the lock up to his mouth— he had been wrong, it was much, much too soft to kiss, and he was drowning in the words that were burning in his lungs— he dropped it onto her back again, and cleared his throat and tried to say lightly, "Then— I suppose I will have to— braid it again." She laughed, because he had made another incredibly stupid joke, and he felt less like drowning and more like floating and he smiled and, carefully, pulled the strands more firmly against her head. She passed him her hair ribbon, and he took it and wrapped it around the end of her braid. He had to tell her. He was going to burst, and spill over everything— it was better to get it over with. His hands were trembling but he had finished tying the ribbon somehow, and she was turning to face him— "Rhen!” She turned wide violet eyes towards him and he tried to compose himself, and continued more softly, “Rhen, I— I have— I—" he didn't know how to communicate what was happening in him, but he had to say it, to tell her, somehow— "I have— an abundance of— feelings— for you—" and they were holding him in place, shaking him— "strong feelings, and you— I am undone." He swallowed, but his voice still wavered like the light of the fire in the wind. "I don't know how to tell you. You're everything. You— I— Rhen," he was pleading now, "do you understand at all?" She looked up at him with her brow furrowed— why, why was he doing this? She was rejecting him, as well she should; she was braver than him, stronger than him, more than him, and he felt himself crumbling under her gaze, could almost hear the pieces of himself falling around him. He wouldn't feel this here, with her right there, he had to get away. He tried to stand but she was leaning towards him, her eyes like two soft lights, and he couldn't move. Her hands were taking his and he was trembling and his cheeks were wet, couldn't she see that she was killing him? "Why are you running from me?" She was saying quietly, but he couldn't speak, didn't know what the answer was except that he hurt, and he didn't want to cry in front of her but he already was— "I'm— sorry, Rhen— I shouldn't have said anything—" She was leaning closer, her little hands trailing up his arms and behind his neck— what was she doing— he could feel his heart pounding through every inch of him— Her quick breaths were tickling his mouth, and he couldn’t breathe, and— And— Oh. He couldn’t feel anything except her, little lips softly saying everything his couldn't, all without making a sound, and slowly, naturally like rain falling or wind blowing he was relaxing into her, his hands found her waist and he cradled her shaking form against his chest. And their fears scattered like shadows in the timid light of the breaking day.
  15. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    It's the end of October! So here are some inktober drawings! I'm gonna post just a few at a time cuz I don't want to overwhelm anyone's computer trying to load the monstrosity that is all 31 of my pathetic attempts at inking, haha I decided to try to use the "official" prompt list or whatever, and draw Aveyond characters with it. First prompt is poisonous, so here is Frederick le Mew of Ahriman's Prophecy in his slime form. Cuz that's the first thing I thought of when I read poisonous XD Next, Tranquil♥ Roasted Spell Chicken Aaaand I think I should stop myself here before I get carried away, happy Halloween everyone!
  16. Mu11berry

    Hi

    Hi and welcome! Maybe you've already seen this but just in case, there is a site where you can play Ahriman's Prophecy online if you're interested! It saves your progress and everything (even months later, I just checked, hahaah) Here's the link! https://easy-rpg.org/play/?game=ahrimans_prophecy
  17. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    Hey look it is autumn in real life and this is a piece where it is autumn in the story, yayy! ______________________________________ Old Songs You can consider this piece a tribute to Aaron Walz’s gorgeous soundtrack. I listen to it while writing a lot . And you can also consider this another introspective piece for Rhen, cuz I do what I want. The lullaby mentioned was meant to be based on the story of the sun priests who sent the demons back to the demon realm and closed the “great schism” in like 4521 d (according to books in AP), and on the story of the sun priests who gave their lives to create agea and defeat Ahriman. I just really love the lore of Aia. Happens sometime after Rhen and co leave Memory Caverns and sometime before they get to Thais again. ________________________________________ She used to sing sometimes. Silly, old songs Ma had taught her, songs about children growing up like apple trees, or cheerful ballads of the druid Armaiti and the harvest. There was a sweet, sad song about a girl who gathered pink marion bells for her lover in the spring, only to lay them on his grave when summer came. Sometimes Rhen had hummed that one to herself as she brushed through her hair in the early mornings, watching while the light crept over her companions and the campsite slowly came alive. Ma’s favorite song had been an ancient lullaby about the coming and going of the sun. At least, that was the best sense Rhen could make of it. The tune was slow and soft, but the words told the story like it was a battle. The sun’s rays were the warriors of light, the shadows were cruel demons. The night fought to keep Aia in cold darkness, the day fought to restore warmth and brightness. There was a verse about the Goddess lamenting the price of sunlight— fire burnt to ashes, flowers from the soot. In the end, the light sealed the dark forces in the ground, and the bravest of the burning warriors closed the schism and burnt out, fire burnt to ashes. The last verse was about how these dead suns lived still in the stars, guarding Aia from the return of total darkness. Rhen used to sing that one to herself as she settled into her dirty bed in Mistress Rona’s house, and again in her room at Shadwood Academy. She had hummed it while lying on her sleeping mat for some months. She used to sing all the time, now that she thought of it. But Lars had always been quick to point out how off-key she was, and Elini would smile politely and tell her maybe she should stick to sword singing. So Rhen didn’t sing any more. The last time had been maybe— maybe last fall, when they were exploring the lowlands. One of the farmers had been humming a harvest song, and she’d joined in until she’d heard Te’ijal’s trilling laugh, and turned to see Elini’s carefully neutral face and Lars’ rolling eyes. It was fall again now. There was a sharp chill in the air, and a certain over-ripeness about the soil. The world was in a state of decay, like those wilted marion bells in the last verse of the song about the girl and her departed lover. Rhen peeked out of her sleeping mat and stared up at stars, and she thought of burnt out fire and flowers growing up from what was left. “Stop—” a hoarse voice choked, jarring the quiet Rhen had been relaxing into. “Why—” It was Dameon, crying brokenly into his blanket, tossing and turning and babbling quick, frightened pleas. He was having a nightmare again. The first time it happened, Te’ijal had watched him curiously, intrigued by this strange human phenomenon called “a bad dream.” Now she barely glanced at him. Elini would sigh sympathetically and pretend not to notice. Lars would roll over and bury his head in his blankets, and Marge would glare, but she never said anything. John slept through everything, and Galahad always resolutely kept his eyes on Te’ijal. Nobody ever tried to wake Dameon, and nobody mentioned it to him in the morning. And he never said anything about it to them. So Rhen had followed this pattern, for months now, for seasons, for almost a year. A year. Had it been that long? Had it been that short? It felt more like a moment, and a decade, all at once. “I— trusted— you,” Dameon sobbed quietly. Could he really be asleep? His eyes were closed, but— “Dameon,” she broke the pattern with a whisper. “Are you all right?” He didn’t answer, he just rolled over again, and his breaths came in small, strangled gasps. "Father—“ "Wake up, Dameon,” she said firmly, quietly. “It's just a dream. You’re okay." “Don’t— no—” She kicked off her covers and crawled over to him. “Wake up,” she said again, reaching out to touch his shoulder. He shuddered and she shook him gently and his eyes flew open, dark lashes blinking away tears. "Rhen—" "Sshh. It's okay, Dameon,” she soothed. “You were having a nightmare." He stared up at her, first bewildered and then embarrassed, his cheeks tinged a soft pink under the starlight and his chest still heaving. She looked away and then reached for his hand; his tossing and turning had uncovered it and it felt cold in her fingers. “Do you want to talk about it?” He breathed in and then out and he shook his head. “No.” So they didn’t. She sat beside him with his hand in hers and he stroked her knuckles with his thumb, and they let the silence of night settle around them. It was cold. “It will be morning soon,” Dameon said suddenly, looking up at the sky. Rhen followed his gaze. It was still dark as Halloween Hills. The air was motionless, not even the birds were awake. But there were the stars, twinkling faintly with the promise of tomorrow. “Yes,” she said softly. The day would come. “Do you remember—” he hesitated. “You used to sing a song. About the morning.” She blushed. “Oh.” The ground suddenly seemed rather hard against her knees. “I sort of hoped you didn’t remember that.” His brow crinkled, and a little line appeared between his eyes. “Why?” “Well, I— er— I didn’t sing it very well.” “Oh.” There was a pause while his thumb stopped stroking her knuckles, and he reached up instead to brush her hair away from her face. The tips of his fingers were cold but his smile was warm. “I— I thought it sounded— nice.” “Nice?” “Yes.” “Oh.” She took his hand again, and clutched it between both of hers. “Would— would it help you sleep if I sang it again?” Her face was burning red like the burning warriors but his was mild and soothing. “If you’d like to sing it, I— I would like it very much.” So she took a long, deep breath, and then she sang the old lullaby, off-key but happily for the first time in— it really had been nearly a year. And slowly like apple blossoms floating in the wind Dameon’s dark eyelashes fluttered and closed, and his breathing evened out and his chest rose and fell gently like the melody, fire burnt to ashes. Flowers from the soot.
  18. Mu11berry

    Mu11berry's Art-ish Looking Things

    @Scrivener Thanks!! _______________________________________________ Here is a piece that took me all month to color. Not cuz it was particularly fancy or difficult in any way, I just had no motivation. It was the fur. The fur killed me. OTP of av4, day 30 of the 31 day challenge (almost... there...) I like MystxRobin because they are best friends and they stand up for each other. Also, they both approach everything with such a sense of wonder, I like to think of them discovering the world together <3 They are in the dragon wastelands because I love the design for that map, it was gorgeous. For @Queen-of-Ice101's birthday, two things I drew plus a link to a tiny drabble which just seemed more appropriate to share with the pic it goes with than separately in my oneshot threads: I'm also doing inktober with an Aveyond theme (and have actually been keeping up so far :O), but I already know I won't log in here every day to share stuff so I'll post everything up at the end of the month (or the beginning of next month). If you'd like to see stuff on the day it's drawn for, I'm keeping up on deviantart (I'm Mu11berry there too) and instagram (I'm aveyond_obsessed there. Honestly, just search aveyond >> most recent in either place. You'll find me XD)
  19. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    I lost an argument with myself and am sharing this fluff today, welcome to the sappy piece where Rhen has friends. ________________________________________ Rhen’s Shield Originally this was going to be titled “Stupid,” for reasons which will become obvious as you read, but my sister suggested the title I ended up going with and it is so brilliant and metaphorical and much less, uh, stupid than my previous choice, and hopefully you all get it. if not I'll happily rant about it for three centuries Happens after the party tries to go to Time Shrine but finds the way blocked by a fairy. I have them going there right after defeating Agas because otherwise how would they know to go back to Thais to defeat Aesma? So here, have this fluffy thing: _______________________________ It wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t so adorable. He didn’t have to be so tall and lithe, and there wasn’t any good reason for his broad chest— except for her to hide in, but that wasn’t helping his case. And his eyes didn’t need to be so dark and deep and just right for reflecting all the things she had thought she would never find, and those two careful hands, so perfect for holding and soothing and— so utterly, entirely useless when it came to offense— That was another thing. He did try, no one could say he wasn’t trying, but really the only thing she could think when she watched him swinging that silly staff was that it was— well, it was cute. And usually Rhen could deal with this just fine, when they were fighting bigger monsters and he was focused on keeping the shields up and she was focused on death and destruction, but that day— They were in Memory Caverns, the only thing to fight was the overgrown frogs, and they were gross and slimy and they converged on Rhen’s little group like an army, but they were easy enough to deal with if you had a sword or an axe or some simple spell to take them out. But if you had a stick— well, the frogs were swamping Dameon, and he swung his silly staff very patiently, but Rhen— Maybe it was just that she was not patient, or maybe it was because— she’d seen him crumbling after Agas, and felt the pieces of him slipping away from her while his eyes begged her to hold on— she would hold on, she would never ignore those eyes. She had one basic instinct which overrode all the others, which drove her forward even when her spirit was broken, and that instinct was, to protect every helpless thing. And it was silly, but maybe that was why, even though they were only fighting frogs, and the frogs could only barely get to any of them through their armor, and there was literally precisely zero risk of even Dameon getting seriously hurt, even with his stupid stick— despite all of this, she still kept finding herself stepping in front of the druid and taking down everything that leapt at him. And by the way, having frog slime spattered all over her sword was not her favorite thing, and neither was having to wipe it off on her pants for the fifty hundredth time. Nor was she particularly fond of the way Elini kept raising her delicate little eyebrows and tilting her perfectly rounded chin, as if to say, I see, but there was most definitely assuredly not anything to see here, except maybe the bright blush on Rhen’s face, which was really just a flush from the exertion of battle. Obviously. She could tell that Te’ijal believed otherwise, but Te’ijal wasn’t always right, and neither was Lars, with his rolling eyes. And just because Galahad thought something didn’t mean it was true, not even if Pirate John was looking at him with what seemed suspiciously like agreement. The only sane one in this party was Mad Marge. Marge never looked twice at anyone. Except to spit at them. And then there were the fairies, the giggling, sparkling fairies who never told Rhen anything helpful, and— that one on the steps of Time Shrine, who wouldn’t let them pass! That one— she refused every sort of bribery Elini could think up, deflected every argument Lars could make, ignored even the worst of Mad Marge’s glares. She wouldn’t even tell Rhen how to help. All she kept saying was that she had been separated from her family, and she wanted to be alone. That, there, was the worst part. Rhen couldn’t even be mad at her. Well she could be mad, very mad, surpassingly angry, in fact— but she was mad at herself for being mad because— it was just a little lonely fairy, lost in a world too big for her, longing for what she had known before and refusing to let go of it, even when it was so obviously irretrievably gone. Anyway, because of that fairy they were on their way back to Thais. They had found a fairy kettle in Thais, so maybe they’d find fairies there, too, and if not... If not Rhen supposed Ahriman would just wait nicely in whatever hole he was hiding in while they scoured the world for forever, looking for signs of a fairy group that probably had never existed and wearing their boots clean through to their socks— if they all even wore socks, which she rather suspected Mad Marge didn’t. And— Why were there so many frogs in these blasted caverns?!?!?! She swung her sword with a frustrated grunt, dispatching them all in a violent spatter of slime and other icky gooey froggy stuff, and then— She was swinging her sword around to put it back in her scabbard, and she threw her shield arm up for balance and that’s when it happened— she’d forgotten how close she was standing to him, right up until she heard the sickening thud of thick metal hitting flesh. She whirled around in time to see him stumble backwards, his hands pressed to his face— “Dameon!” “Augh—” She shook her shield off her arm and it landed with a clang on the rocky ground— “Are you okay, Dameon? I didn’t mean to, I was stupid—” “I’m fine,” he grunted, “it’s okay, Rhen—” But he was dropping dizzily onto the nearest rock, and she couldn’t believe him— “Here, let me see it,” she knelt next to him, and reached for his wrists— “No—” he protested, leaning away, “No, I just need a minute—” “Leave him alone, you’ll just make it worse,” Lars said, and Rhen wished she could sink straight into the ground, but Dameon shook his head— “That’s not it, I— I’m just dizzy, give me a moment.” Rhen did, a painful anxious moment of her wringing her hands and wondering why she had to be so careless and reckless and stupid, and then he was clumsily reaching for his pack, and she saw the swollen, purpling skin— “You’re bruising!” she yelled, like it was an accusation, as if he had anything to do with her inability to control herself— “I’m sorry, Dameon. Let me help. Please?” “It isn’t bad, you don’t need to worry—” But she was worried, and she felt so far from him lately, and far from everything, she couldn’t do anything, it was all hurtling towards— towards disaster, probably, and she couldn’t get a grip on it— and he was fumbling with the ties on his pack— “Please, Dameon?” She felt her face drooping into a pout, but she couldn’t help it, and she caught his eyes on hers and held them there, and her face was going to burn off— And he looked down, his cheeks pink like hers, and he nodded once. “Okay.” He gave her his pack, and she took it in both hands. Aloe was for bruises, she had learned that fighting the feral oxen near Thornkeep. She hadn’t been in control then, either, but the world had felt smaller. She’d wished for space back then. She crushed the leaf into a paste while everyone stared at her— everyone except Mad Marge, who sat herself down on a rock a few yards away and took out a hunk of venison and chewed loudly. And then— Rhen took Dameon’s face in one hand, and tilted his chin up so she could see his eye— and she didn’t need to look behind her to know that Elini’s eyebrows were up in her hairline again, and Lars was rolling his eyes, and Galahad was pointedly looking away while Te’ijal made that face that meant she was laughing on the inside but was too composed and elegant to laugh out loud, but— she had hit him pretty hard, she could see where the skin was broken, and she pulled his face closer and he meekly closed his eyes as she smeared the paste over the bruise. Her hands were shaking, why couldn’t she do anything right? “Ouch,” he protested, flinching away— “Sorry,” she said quickly, and then— And then— Her stupid— Eyes— “Rhen!” Dameon let out a soft anxious sound, leaning towards her again. “Don’t cry,” he soothed. “I didn’t mean it. You are doing well. Here, you can finish.” He took her hand and pressed it against his tender, bruised face, after she’d hurt it, twice— and she— she— “I c-can’t,” she sniffled, and she tried to ignore Mad Marge snorting and spitting at an enchanted mushroom— “I— I’ll mess it up again—” “It— it’s okay, Rhen,” he said softly, and now he took her face in his hands. “Please don’t cry. You haven’t done anything wrong.” She tried not to cry, but now that she had started she couldn’t stop, and she tore her face from his hands and hid it in his stupid broad chest and he wrapped his stupid gentle arms around her and she cried because she was stupid and little and lost— “It’s all right, sword singer,” Elini’s voice said, and Rhen felt her slender hand on her shoulder. And then— “It’s okay to cry,” Te’ijal said, patting Rhen’s other shoulder. “It seems to be normal for humans.” Rhen had to laugh at that, and then sob, and Dameon’s robes absorbed all of it. “You have many pressing responsibilities weighing on your shoulders,” Galahad said, and he added his heavy gloved hand to that burden, and Rhen felt surrounded in an entirely different way than she had with the frogs. “We all have bad days” Lars said, joining the circle. And then Pirate John, too— “We’re here for you, girl.” She was an idiot, to be feeling sorry for herself when she had so much support, to be crying when she was the one who had hurt someone, and she tried to dry her face on Dameon’s sleeve and she looked up at all of them through red-rimmed eyes and stuttered, “Th-thank you, guys. I’m sorry I’m such a mess lately.” She tried to smile at each of them in turn, even Mad Marge, who was still sitting on her rock, chewing her venison. The barmaid scowled, and swallowed her food, and then she said— “You’re tough enough, for a landlubber.” It was probably the nicest thing she had said in her life, and Rhen— she guessed she could take that, and she laughed. And then started to cry again, and hid it in Dameon’s shoulder, and said, “I’m sorry I mess everything up.” And everyone patted her back, and Dameon stroked her hair, and his lips searched for her ear and he whispered softly, for just her to hear, “It’s okay to make mistakes.” She trembled against him, and she thought of the little lost fairy, and of Thais, and Ahriman, and Agas— and she thought of the way Dameon reached out for her when he was breaking apart, and she tilted her head up and carefully pressed her lips to the broken skin around his eye. Which was a mistake, because it tasted like aloe. But then he smiled at her, and kissed her nose, and Te’ijal really did laugh and so did Pirate John and Lars shook his head and Elini raised her eyebrows. And it was okay.
  20. Mu11berry

    Beginnings (AKA Berry has Too Many Feelings)

    Hello, more angst, sorry. I wrote this one about a year ago I think, when I was replaying AV1 (I'm pretty much always replaying av1 haha) and I was at the final battle and my roommate was watching, and she asked what would happen if I didn't have the fairy dust. So I told her and she told me I should write it so… I did. And it is dramatic and I am sharing it anyway, you're welcome. The longer italicized phrases are a story by themselves (and they make more sense on fanfiction.net cuz I used them in the summary but wleajgwe oh well). If I was a better writer you would understand, but I am still learning so you will just have to deal with this, and I am sorry. ___________________________________________________ "It always began with a change. There was always a choice, there was always a war. There was always a fall. In the end it was death-" The End ________________________________________________ It always began with a change. He had gone to Ahriman, it had really happened, it wasn't a dream— it was a nightmare, a waking nightmare like the ones Talia had warned them about. And then— he'd offered her a choice, a real choice, after all this time, but it wasn't one she could take, she couldn't join him, she couldn't join that— that— thing, standing beside him with a too-satisfied smile, if it could be called a smile— She couldn't join him, but oh! He couldn't really be asking her to fight him, he couldn't mean it. "Come back to me," she pleaded, tears stinging her eyes— she had not expected to cry here, she had thought she would only bleed. He stared back at her, white-faced, and when he spoke it was with a dead voice, not like the one she knew. "I belong to Ahriman now." "Ahriman is evil!" she cried again. "He is using you! Why can't you see it?" Ahriman's laugh was worse than his sneer. "It is pointless to resist, child. Join us or perish." "Dameon," she said, not because he wasn't already looking at her but because she wanted to call back the man she knew, the man who spoke softly and carefully and who listened quietly when she needed him— "Please." "No," Ahriman said sharply, grabbing Dameon's arm with one of his bony, claw-like hands. "Very well then, sword singer. I see you have made your choice. It is time to end this. Sun Priest, take her now!" Dameon looked at her with wide dark eyes, his mouth open in that little o shape she had become so familiar with, and his chest shaking— "Strike her!" the demon hissed again, his eyes flashing now and his gruesome mouth twisting into a snarl. "Master… please," Dameon said in that same dead voice, "she is innocent. She is only confused. The oracle—" "Wretch! How dare you disobey me?" Ahriman rasped. "Do as I say! Fight her!" Dameon was fighting, something in himself, some dark power assaulting his mind— he let out a strangled grunt, clenching his jaw, and then he doubled over and clutched at his head— "Kill her!" Rhen was trembling and Dameon was falling to his knees— "No," he gasped. "No, no—" "Traitor!" Ahriman bellowed, shaking the whole cave— "Coward! You will never be all your father was!" He raised his twisted staff over Dameon's bowed head and swung down— "No!" The Sword of Shadows met the dark staff, and Rhen had chosen to fight the demon— it was her decision, after all, fate had no power in this place. There was always a choice, there was always a war. She swung and he dodged, she thrust and he knocked her sword aside and sparks jumped from their weapons like all the stars of heaven were falling around them. And she danced, the song of the battle was written in her beating heart and the words were the clashing and clanging of a blade drawn to defend the defenseless— she had known the music all her life. The others twirled into the action— Elini and Lars and Te'ijal and Galahad and John and even Marge. Dameon kneeled still on the ground, fighting another battle, the ancient war of truth and error, light and dark, good and evil— If only it could be so simple, if only he could see clearly which was which— In the darkness everyone is blind. Ahriman shot a spell and she twirled out of the way, she sliced and caught his hood in her blade— he wrenched himself free with an awful screech, and he shot at Elini and then Galahad and then— Then— Her sword was singing and she felt the shift in the rhythm, this was not her battle to win; like the ancient sun priests who forged agea, and the fairy guardians of the dreamworld, she, too, was fated to fall before the rising darkness, she, too, would die for defying the natural succession of order to chaos, day to night, life to death. There was always a fall. The sword of shadows was blasted out of her hands, and she watched it skid away. She had made her choice, she did not regret it, even as the demon raised his staff to point it at her and she knew the song was ending. She had fought for her parents, all of them, and for Eddy, and Tiny and the people of Dirkon and of Thais and— Last of all, she fought for Dameon, whether he accepted her or not. She could not regret defending someone who had meant so much to her, and as the spell sped towards her she thought of dark eyes and warm hands and she wished for light— Light— Light. The room was suddenly filling with light, exploding with it, and Rhen was blind and there was screaming, and screaming, Ahriman was screaming, and somehow Rhen was alive still and— When it cleared Dameon was standing, his body shaking but his gaze steady. "No!" Ahriman howled. "You belong to me! Do as I say! Kill the girl, she is of no worth to us now!" Rhen stared at Dameon, and he stared at Ahriman, and said in his quiet, even voice, "She is the chosen one." "Fool!" Ahriman roared. "She will destroy us! Do you think she will take you back after your betrayal?" But Dameon only swallowed, and breathed softly, "I will accept the consequences." Ahriman shrieked, and the ground was quaking and he was raising his staff— "Wretched traitor!" — and Dameon was crying out and stepping back under the force of the spell, and Ahriman was cackling— Rhen's hands searched for the hilt of her sword, and somehow Te'ijal had found it and was passing it to her and Rhen took it and ran and yelled, she raised the blade high over her head and then brought it down— The impact was violent, a tremor ran through her sword and up her arm and through her entire self, Ahriman was frozen with his hands still in the air, his laugh still etched on his face— it was gruesome to watch, how the sword sucked him in and glowed red in the demonic blood, and Rhen knew now why the Oracle called it cursed— she was going to be sick, but the demon was gone— "We— we did it," she panted in disbelief, turning to stare at the others Dameon stared back, his mouth slightly open, his body still shaking. She dropped the cursed blade and stumbled to him— she had thought he was lost— he was safe, he was safe— She buried her face in his chest, stained scarlet where the spell had hit him— "Rhen—" he gasped softly as her forehead pressed into his collarbone. "I— I am a traitor." She wrapped her arms around his waist, pulled him closer— "I am wretched." She tried to say something but her breaths were coming in quick little gasps— His hands settled uncertainly on her back, and he traced warm, soothing circles. "I deserve death." And then the whole world was trembling, and rocks were falling all around them—. "Come on, everyone!" Lars shouted. "Let's get out of here! This place is collapsing!" But instead she collapsed against Dameon's chest, and he picked her up and carried her and her sword through the crumbling caverns. He sent up an earth shield and the rocks bounced off it and he tightened his jaw but he didn't flinch, and— they came at last to the end of the caves and burst into the sunlight— the sunlight, it was still there, after everything. Dameon gently set her on her feet, and then he kneeled in the sand in front of her and held her sword out towards her. "Rhen," he said, in that same dead voice from before. "Take what is yours. Take my life. I cannot be trusted." She reached out and traced the bones of his face, where the tears would have fallen if he had any left. "You came back to me," she said. He took a careful, shaking breath. "He wasn't supposed to hurt anyone." "Your life belongs to me now," she realized, as she took her sword from him. He bowed his head, ready for the blow that would finish everything. In the end it was death— But she sheathed the cursed blade, and tilted his chin up so that he had to look at her. "I choose to set you free. Your mind is yours." She brushed his hair behind his ear and looked into those dark eyes, glittering in the light. "Let your gentle heart guide it." — or forgiveness.
  21. So it turns out sometimes I write stuff because I have a lot of feelings and I don't know what else to do with them. This is the topic where I will share the oneshots resulting from that. Some of these will pretty much be pure fluff, like this first one, and later I have some angst ones where I explore some what-ifs for the games, and who knows what else I will write in the name of being overly emotional. I've been wanting to start a topic for these for awhile but 1. I am slow, and 2. I had a hard time figuring out what in Aia to call it XD I went with Beginnings because pretty much anything I can write will at least have a beginning. I mean, hopefully, right? And the stuff I've already written deals with either the beginning of something (like this first thing I'm going to share) or with the tragedy of missed beginnings. So close enough, I tried, hopefully I don't ever write anything that absolutely cannot fit under this title and ruin my own plans. I'm going to keep a contents list on this first post, like I do for Silly Aveyond Shorts, because we all know otherwise I will get lost:) Intentions (8/28/2018) Wild (9/6/2018) ________________________________ This first oneshot was written as pure fluff for a friend who loves Te'ijalahad. Galahad is a bit OOC in it because, fluff, but it always makes me smile anyway. I am a sap, there is a wedding, it is inevitable. I thought about including this in my Silly collection because it is humorous, but it just isn't quite that humorous. Also, I always use the pet names I used in "Softly" in In Pieces for all my stuff, canon-compliant or not like this oneshot, so if you haven't read that, the bat's name is Serpent Spawn, and it belongs to Te'ijal. _______________ Intentions _______________ Rhen had not begun the day with any intention of sitting through a wedding. Her plans had been to shop for new armor— she had dents and nicks in her shield and her boots were rather worn. And while she was at it she'd intended to ask around to see if anyone knew where she might find a demon, and possibly also a band of fairies. The fairy kettle had been here so it was possible— that's what she kept telling herself, anyway. The universe itself, actually, had seemed to be preparing for an uneventful day. When Rhen had finally gotten all her companions out the door the sky was overcast like usual, and the streets were as bustling as they normally were, which meant hardly at all. Nobody was buying anything blue or borrowing anything significant— well, Te'ijal had borrowed Galahad's soul some time ago, and she wore that around her neck very proudly, but somehow Rhen thought that wasn't exactly what the old wedding rhyme meant. So really there had been no warning, every sign had pointed to the sheer impossibility of anything exceptional happening that day in Thais. If it had been Clearwater all exceptional events would have been cancelled in advance in order to avoid the misfortune bound to follow anything that dared to occur under such an ill-omened sky. But Rhen had realized long ago that Thais was not Clearwater, and anyway, perhaps it should have tipped her off when the priest's name was Gray. But it didn't, of course, so instead she found herself standing there with her mouth hanging open when Te'ijal took the holy man up on his offer and turned to Galahad with her usual blood-chilling smile. "Galahad, my tasty tidbit, would you like to earn your freedom?" Galahad, predictably, proclaimed that he would never bargain with serpent spawn (and Rhen ducked before remembering the bat was back in Sedona), and with all his usual eloquence he told the vampress to hand over his soul or die. This made Te'ijal laugh, of course, and before Rhen knew it Galahad had bargained with serpent spawn, and the paladin was being ushered to the front of the room while Te'ijal was being ushered out of the room and Rhen was being shown to a seat— she was not dressed for a ceremony like this, she hadn't even had a chance to buy new boots yet and she hadn't washed this pair since— it had been a while, that's all she would admit. Elini took the chair on one side of her and crossed her ankles and looked very proper and pretty and as though she had been practicing to be surprised like this her whole life. And Dameon sat on Rhen's other side, and glanced towards her with his eyebrows raised and his mouth open slightly, making a little o. He was just as unprepared as her, then. She reached over and slipped her hand into his and thought that it was nice to at least be lost with someone. His cheeks turned pink, like she hadn't held his hand a hundred times before, and slowly his long fingers closed over her clumsy ones. Then, her face did this embarrassing thing where a stupid smile flitted across it and her cheeks felt warm, and she tried to pretend it wasn't happening and she looked towards Galahad instead. Galahad was also pink, but in a rather different way. His mouth was turned down in a frown at least as deep as the Eldredth, and he stared ahead with all the stoic resolve of a knight about to meet his dragon— which was really pretty much exactly what was happening, Rhen supposed. The priest stood behind him, and signalled to someone sitting behind the organ— Rhen hadn't realized there was anyone behind the organ, but whoever it was began playing and the door Te'ijal had been ushered through opened again and Galahad ground his teeth. Then he saw her. Was he actually crying? Maybe it was time to intervene. Rhen almost stood to say something but Dameon leaned towards her and she paused and he whispered almost reverently, "This is the first time I've seen him smile." She looked again— the paladin was smiling, and the world was stopping and Te'ijal was floating down the aisle— literally floating, because she was a vampire. She was radiant, even though she was still wearing the same clothes with those clumsy patches from when that Nemesis had caught her off guard. Rhen was caught off guard this time, and she settled back into her seat and stared. Te'ijal reached the front and Galahad seemed to remember himself and scowled and looked away from her. But he also took her hand— stiffly, like he'd never done anything quite that crazy in his life, which he probably hadn't. Te'ijal grinned and her fangs glistened and she looked impressively not terrifying. Just— happy. "Gentle lords and ladies, and ruffians," the priest began, with a quick glance over their worn armor and dirty faces, "the agreement having been made before our eyes on this very day, we gather now to join this fair— uh— vampress and noble knight in unholy matrimony, by the—" he coughed, " the blessing of the goddess." Rhen had been to one or two weddings in Clearwater, when she was small, and she supposed the introduction might have gone somewhat vaguely more or less like that. "Sir Knight," the priest continued, "dost thou come today to enter into this blasphemous union of thine own free will and choice?" Galahad scowled at him. "Aye, priest!" "Very good. Vampress, dost thou come—" "Aye!" Te'ijal declared, smiling widely. Galahad glanced at her again and those hard lines around his mouth twitched. "Ah— excellent!" the priest said. "Then as you have both pledged your troth to be married this day, I call upon the sun and moon to bless this union. If any one has any reason to object, by the Goddess's Law or the laws of Thais; let them speak now, or else henceforth and forever hold their peace." Rhen shuffled her feet, and behind her Pirate John coughed awkwardly. She looked at Dameon and he shrugged, and that pretty much summed it up. It was the first time she had seen the man smile... "There being no objection to this marriage let us continue. Do you, Sir Knight, take unto thyself as wife this— uh—" "Creature of the night," Galahad supplied. "Creature of the night," the priest continued, nodding, "and swear unto her before the Mother of All and these witnesses to be her protector, defender, and champion? To honor and support her, in sickness and in health, in times of light and of darkness, to cherish her above all other treasures, with all thy worldly powers, so long as ye both shall live?" Rhen stared. In times of light and of darkness— who could make that kind of promise? She found that she was holding her breath, and she let it out and Dameon's hand tightened around hers, and Galahad clenched his jaw. "I do." The priest didn't even blink. "And do you, vampress, take unto thyself as husband this noble knight, and pledge unto him before the Mother of All and these witnesses to honor, obey, and cherish him? To cleave unto him, in sickness and in health, in fair and in foul, in times of light and of darkness, to be his one true and lasting counselor and solace, with all thy worldly and otherworldly powers, so long as ye both shall live?" "I do!" Te'ijal trilled. The priest looked vaguely amused, but not half as amused as Te'ijal, and he declared with all the drama that might be expected, "Then by the power vested in me, I pronounce you wed! You may now kiss the— er— bride." And Galahad did kiss the bride, so quickly Rhen almost didn't believe she had seen it, but the stunned look on Te'ijal's face was proof enough— In times of light and of darkness— if anyone could intend to keep such a promise, surely it was the vampress and the paladin.
  22. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    Fair warning, this piece hurts to read for me. I promise there is healing later! But first it's important to go through this part. So find something soft to follow this up with. If you're reading after I post the next piece, "Rhen's Shield," then that is soft, but if you are reading before, I am sorry<3 _____________________________________ Tear Shrine This piece almost doesn’t even belong in a fluff collection, but I think that some of what happens in this scene was a really big part of the character development in the game (and just of the plot in general), and I think it was also an important part of Rhen and Dameon’s relationship, so I’m sharing it anyway. Happens in the Dreamworld, pretty much right after they first enter. For those of you who haven’t played AP or those who don’t remember, Talia has brown eyes ______________________________________ He had not been here for… years. He had forgotten how the purple grass swayed slowly in the cool wind, too slowly, like it was underwater. He’d forgotten how the violently pink leaves of the trees rustled, quietly, as if they were whispering dangerous secrets, and the stars were scattered over his head and under his feet, there were places where the land just ended, and he could have walked right off into the sparkling abyss. He had not forgotten the path to Tear Shrine, he still remembered the way to— to— Mother. His heart fluttered desperately in chest, like he’d swallowed one of those portal butterflies and it was trying to escape. He wished he could escape. Or maybe— Maybe— He took one tentative step forward, toward the shrine, towards her. He knew she wasn’t there. She was never there, when he looked for her. But— She was his mother. He took another step— she had been there, sometimes, when he wasn’t looking. She had told him stories about fairies, and elves, and made him wash his hands before dinner, and… She had killed his father— He remembered that, so vividly it paralyzed him— he had yelled until he thought his heart would come out his raw throat, it had done nothing— She had watched silently, like those cold, distant stars. Were they even real, or were they an illusion of the Dreamworld? Dreamworld. It was not that anymore. It was a nightmare, and he was lost in it. “Dameon?” The calloused tips of little fingers brushed across his arm, and he turned slowly, trying to still his shaking chest— It was Rhen. It was always Rhen. Her eyes shined, not at all like the stars, much closer, much warmer, and she smiled bravely at him— bravely and gently. “Can you lead us to Tear Shrine?” He knew the way, but— to walk it again— He did not know if he could do it without breaking in two. She was watching him quietly with those violet eyes. She trusted him. He did not deserve it— But he wanted to. He dipped his head. He could not raise it again, but Rhen understood, and she slipped her arm into his and followed him down the old, bloodstained path. Or, did he follow her? The others trailed behind, starting at every rustle of the fuchsia leaves, huddling closer with every distant screech. It was only shivens and dream witches, they weren’t the worst things that had walked these paths. Dameon whispered the words for a spirit shield. He could feel Rhen relax next to him as it settled around the party. He couldn’t relax, he could barely force his feet to move, one after the other— She was a murderer, she’d taken everything from him— She was his mother, she’d given him life, she’d held him in her lap and sung him to sleep— She’d left him alone in a cold stone temple, with no one around except binis and fairies, and Vata, but he couldn’t talk to Vata, Vata treated him like a child— He was a child, a very lost child, and he wished— He’d had two parents once, and— He wished— It was impossible. His mother had protected his dreams, even after what she’d done. He had felt her silently watching from a distance, and fading away as the sun rose, like the twinkling stars. And by that, he wasn’t sure if he meant— a small light in the dark, or far away and cold, and always meddling cruelly with fate. That was before— Agas had meant to kill her, but he only cast her out of her realm. Dameon had been— almost grateful. He had been ashamed of his weakness, he had tried to forget the feeling. But now, as he walked the paths of his childhood, it rose up and swallowed him. His feet stopped moving. A soft blue glow had been cast over the ground ahead of him, and he knew if he looked up he would see— He had not been here for years. The last time— The last time— There had been death. He could still feel the echoes of it, reverberating in his soul. “This is it,” he said, his voice hoarse and strained and hardly recognizable as his own. “My— my—” Rhen put a hand on his back, and said quietly, “Tear Shrine?” He swallowed hard and nodded. The others slowly stepped around him, began climbing the temple steps. Rhen tugged on his hand, and, somehow, his feet started moving forward again, closer and closer to— A monster lived in the shrine, and as he finally reached the top of the stairs, Dameon half-expected to see his father’s body still lying on the floor, his mother standing watching with her silent dark eyes. He had his mother’s eyes. What he saw, instead of any of the familiar horrors, was him. Agas. The demon laughed at them, a low, dead sound, a sound that did not belong here, in his— His— Home— “You’ve come only to die!” Agas hissed, and— Not here, in the last refuge he had known, the final resting place of all his hopes— there had been light laughter once, and warm smiles, and— and— there had been tears, too, from more than one set of eyes— “You are the one responsible for my mother’s demise!” The words— came out of his mouth, and— and he meant them— he was going to split into two, he could not hold both of these feelings in him at once, he would be destroyed— “I recognize you, sun priest. Whose side are you on?” His father fought for justice, his mother for mercy, and he— He— He didn’t know. “I’ve always suspected your intentions,” the demon said, with a low, scornful laugh, and he drew his sword with a clang that might have been a death knell. “Prepare to be destroyed!” But somehow— Somehow— When it was over, it was Agas who yelled and crumbled into dust. Elini was quickly drawing the symbols that would allow her to call him back to the living realm, and Rhen stood in front of where the demon had been, panting, and she turned to stare at Dameon— He could hardly do more than stare, himself. “He is destroyed,” he said, quietly, amazed. “My mother will be proud.” The words felt strange in his mouth, strange and… and… He nearly said them again, but his eyes met Rhen’s and she watched him with— fear. She was afraid of him— he had never meant to frighten her. “Dameon? Did you know the demon?” The demon— he was surprised the Tear Shrine did not come crashing down around him, he had forgotten, for a moment, why he was here, what had been done— how could he forget? Rhen looked down, and then up at him again. “He talked with you as if he did.” He could only stare at her, his breath rattling in his chest, like it was empty, like he’d finally managed to lose the heart that beat there and bled— He swallowed, and looked at the floor. “I encountered him once before,” he said, carefully, his voice flat and lifeless. He would lose her now— He had already lost everything once. “You must trust me,” he begged. “I am against him.” Him— his father, or Agas?— “—Them,” he corrected, quickly, and he heard Lars scoff, and Rhen— Rhen— “I trust you will do what is right.” He did not deserve it. He did not know if he could live up to it, or if he even knew what right was— But he wanted to. He raised his head to look at her. She looked back with brave, guileless eyes, and he said the only thing a broken, lost person could when a hero like her believed in them. “Thank you, Rhen.” She nodded, and she bent down to pick up the Dreamer’s Tear from where it rested in the dust. She cradled it carefully in her palms, and the glowing liquid swirled in the glass orb. There had been tears, from more than one set of eyes. Slowly, she walked to him, her gaze not leaving his, and she pressed the orb into his shaking hands.
  23. Mu11berry

    Beginnings (AKA Berry has Too Many Feelings)

    @Scrivener of the Gods Thanks! And you should write how want, essay-style is good for some things, but if you have strong feelings and they aren't hurting anyone, writing is the place to express them, I think. It's always cathartic for me, and sometimes you learn about yourself:)
  24. So I found a lovely fanart of Alicia giving Rhen to Tailor on deviantart and it needs to be seen by the world. The artist is razvielf96 :)

    1. NickyLOL48

      NickyLOL48

      I'll check it out. I always trust your judgement Berry! :kawaii-happy:

       

  25. Mu11berry

    In Pieces (RxD oneshots)

    So I was going to save this update for next week, but then I realized I've kind of been sharing a lot of angst lately, and this piece is a little fluffier. Plus, it is my friend's birthday. She doesn't even know Aveyond besides my ranting but I still can't have her day pass without sharing fluff of some sort, so here: ________________________________________________ Sunshine This piece happens on Mount Orion, after the party goes there to search for Priestess Oyane but before they find her. I think I have managed to outdo myself for sap once again. I even out-sapped Night Watch. And there are a lot of stupid sentimental metaphors if you look for them but I think you will be able to enjoy the story even if they go over your head. (Or, especially if they go over your head???) Anyway, also, there are jokes. ________________________________________ She could hear the rain pattering on the ground outside the cave, even with her head buried under her blanket. She did not like rain. It was cold and unrelenting, like— It had been overcast in Thais, too. It had sprinkled on them in Mysten Far, and still they had trudged on, because— well, that’s what they were supposed to do. But Rhen, for one, was tired of being responsible. For two days now they had been searching for that confounded priestess, spelunking through caves, hiking up steep rocky peaks, and— also— getting— rained on! Well, okay, so she hadn't exactly been getting rained on, but only because she was a rebel, and she had ignored the blasted Oracle all those months ago and let that dang Sun Priest come with her. And that dang Sun Priest could do a few cute little tricks, like, say, shielding the entire party from water. Rhen was very grateful for this cute little trick, and she had beamed at the dang Sun Priest several times. And if she beamed once twice more than was necessary just to see him smile back— well, she already admitted to being a rebel, and she would do as she pleased. But— as lovely as it was to be dry, there was still the mud to hike through, and it made ridiculous noises every time she pulled her boots out of it— shooolp! shkiiip! schup!— and it had been funny at first but it definitely wasn't by the end of the day. Neither were the landslides, or trying to fight ravwyrn kings and fire griffins in the howling wind, and— and— She was sick of the mud, and sick of not finding any signs of that blasted priestess, and also— Dameon kept rolling over, and his restlessness was keeping her awake. “Dameon!” she hissed at last— it must have been midnight, at least. “Can you please lie still for five minutes?” There was a guilty silence, and then he whispered back, “Sorry, Rhen.” Sorry, Rhen. He wasn’t even trying to be eloquent. She watched him through narrowed eyes, and he stared up at the cave’s ceiling, his body rigid except for the uneven rise and fall of his chest. “Dameon,” she said after a long pause. “Is something bothering you?” He looked at her with wide, dark, anxious eyes, but what he said was, “N—o.” She sat up on her mat and fixed him with her most serious gaze. Sleep was overrated, anyway. “Are you sure?” He swallowed, and turned red, and then finally, reluctantly, he admitted, “I— cannot sleep.” That made two of them. “Why not?” But before he could answer— “Will both of you shut up?” Lars interrupted exasperatedly, not bothering to whisper. “No one can sleep with you two around!” "That isn't quite true," Te'ijal said, turning towards them from where she had been keeping watch. "Listen to the pirate." Pirate John was, in fact, snoring loudly, though Rhen definitely hadn't noticed it before. Elini rolled over in her sleeping mat to look at John. "Hmm," she said. "I'll have to do something about that before our wedding." "I could bite him," Te'ijal offered. "Serpent spawn!" Galahad scolded, sounding half-asleep himself. "Leave the pirate alone!" Mad Marge shifted, and they all looked towards her in terror. "You're all crazy," she muttered, before flipping over and, if not actually sleeping, doing a very good job of pretending she was. "For once I agree with her," Lars said, crossing his arms and glaring up at the cave ceiling. Te'ijal chuckled. "You could all try eating mutton." There was a confused silence wherein Rhen tried very hard to figure out this strange suggestion on her own, and then, finding herself completely at a loss, she said, "What?" "Isn't that what you humans do to fall asleep?" Dameon laughed, and Rhen started and everyone turned to stare at him. He flushed and cleared his throat, and mumbled, "My apologies. I— I believe she meant counting sheep." Then Rhen laughed, but no one else was laughing and she quickly choked on it— not before Dameon looked at her and beamed. Which made her feel much less stupid. Te’ijal just shrugged. “It hardly makes a difference to me.” Nobody argued with her. Galahad rolled over. Lars pulled his blanket up over his head. Elini closed her eyes, Dameon lay motionless as stone, and Rhen— Rhen still wasn’t going to fall asleep anytime soon. Lightning flashed outside, and the light bounced off the cave walls like the silver sword of some vengeful demon. Rhen hated storms. In Clearwater rain meant days spent inside helping her mother with chores, and praying to the goddess that there wouldn't be any landslides or sinkholes, and that the apple orchards would be all right— Rain was the sort of thing that could change someone's life in an instant, without ever asking for permission. Rhen did not like those sorts of things. The thunder came after that, insistent and unforgiving, and Rhen ducked under her covers and shivered. Why did the rain have to be cold, too? Te’ijal was talking to someone in a low, laughing voice. Everyone was supposed to be sleeping. Who was she talking to? Rhen shifted and peeked out from beneath her blankets, just in time to see Dameon walking out of the cave. And not bothering with a water shield. Where did he think he was going? He was going to get caught in a rockslide, or struck by lightning, or— or— She hated the rain. “Te’ijal,” she hissed. The vampress looked towards her and Rhen asked, “What is Dameon doing?” Te’ijal tilted her head, and her fangs glinted eerily in the strange glowing light of the midnight storm. “He wanted to take a walk.” “In this weather?” But Te’ijal just shrugged, amusement clear on her features even in the darkness. “Do humans find that unusual?” Rhen sighed. And pulled on her boots. And went out into the stupid, detestable cold repulsive rain, too. Because, she was crazy. She flinched as the first icy droplets hit her bare arms, and then her face— and then she lost track, and she was soaked through to her bones and tiny streams were flowing off the ends of her hair. And her boots— were— sticking— in— the— mud! Again! “Dameon!” she called over the sound of the storm and the Schkuup! Shhhkk! of the mud. Now was not the time for pacing or thinking or— whatever he thought he was doing. Now was time for sleep. Or at least, pretending to sleep— Shhllp!— Schkip!— She hated the mud— Shhkkpp— kkp— And she could barely see anything in the rain and the darkness, this was ridiculous— Kkp— kpt— “Argh!” she yelled as her ankle twisted and she slipped and careened forward and fell into— Wet, cold— Robes? “Careful,” said a low voice over her head. She didn’t know how she heard it over the rain. “It’s slippery.” “Th-thanks,” she shivered, clutching at Dameon’s cloak— of course it was Dameon— and she tried to regain her balance and— “Ack—” she squeaked as she stepped down on her foot and felt a sharp pain, and she fell forward into Dameon again because her ankle wasn’t working like an ankle and it hurt a lot— And mostly, because falling into him was much nicer than falling into the mud. “Are you hurt, Rhen?” She nodded into his shoulder. “My ankle— I— it’s not working—” Words. She was forgetting all of them. But he brushed her wet hair out of her eyes and then he was lifting her off the ground— shhlkp!— and her boots were out of the mud and dangling in the air and— Now, also, somehow, her arms had found their way around his neck, and she was looking up at him and thinking that the rain sparkled on his face like fairy dust, and— She could feel his heart beating through his robes, a steady rhythm that was nothing like the thunder. He was nothing like the rain— and she realized her mouth was still partway open in surprise or— whatever it was, and she quickly closed it again and looked away, and— She had kissed Danny once. Jenna had dared her to during a winter solstice celebration, and she’d found him by the pastry cart and she’d grabbed his shoulders and— It was slimy and gross and— thrilling, and she’d run back to Jenna and they’d giggled for weeks after. It had frightened Peter and confused Danny, which only made it all funnier. And then, slowly like the snow melting and the flowers growing, as naturally as springtime, they had forgotten. Kissing Dameon would be different. If she kissed him, it would feel like— like those bright mornings, the kind that dawned gradually after a long, dark, sleepless night, the kind where she was awake before the birds and she saw and heard and felt the whole world come to life around her, and felt like maybe she, too, could come alive again— he would feel like the first rays of sunlight falling gently on her skin and thawing her frightened heart, and— “I’m going to set you down here, and look at your ankle.” His soft voice brought her back abruptly to the rain and she stared up into his stupid dark eyes— If she kissed him, she would never forget it. He set her down on a rock and kneeled in the mud in front of her, and carefully took her foot in one hand. “I need to take off your boot,” he told her— she saw his lips form the words more than she heard them. “It might hurt.” Her boot was heavy and covered in mud and his careful graceful hands didn’t belong anywhere near it— but there they were already, easing the boot off her foot and setting it aside so delicately she would have thought it was a glass slipper. And it did hurt, but he held her ankle and rubbed the bones while muttering one of his spells, and the rain splashed on her bare toes and dripped off the end of her heel and it was all very— Soothing. He lowered her foot into his lap and looked up at her. “Is that better?” Yes, but— “You’re all dirty now,” she told him, frowning at the mud caking the knees of his robes. He shrugged. “I don’t mind.” He picked up her boot and pulled it back over her toes and her ankle and then her calf, and she felt warm which didn’t make any sense because it was supposed to be wet and cold out here— it had been, not that long ago. “Dameon— what are you doing out in the storm?” He looked down at the rain bouncing off the ground between them. “I couldn’t sleep.” His hair was sticking to his forehead and his cheeks, and she reached out, carefully and slowly like she had learned, to brush it back. “Why not?” Now he looked at her with wide brown eyes. “I just— I’m not ready.” She waited. “I— It’s— been so long, since I’ve been to the Dreamworld. I— I don’t know if I can— go there again. Last time—” he swallowed and shook his head, looking at the ground again. “Last time— it— it will be hard for me,” he finished quickly, and fisted his hands in his lap. Rhen, too, was afraid to go to a place. She was afraid of what had not yet happened there, he of what had already occurred. She slid off the rock to kneel beside him, and put her hand at his elbow. This was how she said I’m here— and his elbow fit in her palm very nicely. Then, because she was tactful and patient and very serious, she said, “So you decided to take a walk in the rain?” And then, because it couldn’t get worse than that, she added, “Why didn’t you put up a water shield?” But she knew she hadn’t offended him by the way his lips curved up, and he looked at her sheepishly. “I like the rain.” She blinked. “Really?” He nodded, and one long, elegant finger traced circles in the mud. “I used to play in it, when I was little.” “Hmm,” she said, tilting her head. “I always had to stay inside.” His childhood had been so different, and he was so different, but here they both were, sitting quietly in the soft rain and remembering. She traced a circle beside his. “What did you play?” He glanced at her, brown eyes almost glowing in the blue night. “I don’t remember,” he said with a nervous laugh, and his hands traced circles over the circles. “I— I used to make— cakes. Out of mud.” She wrinkled her nose. “Cakes?” He gave her a short, embarrassed little nod. “Yes. Like— like this.” And then his two graceful hands scooped up a pile of mud, and plopped it onto the ground between them. She giggled— she couldn’t help it, she had wondered for so long what his childhood had been like and now he was showing her and it had been full of mud, and he laughed too, and she scooped up her own handful of mud and plopped it on top of his. “Like that?” “No,” he said, but he was smiling and she almost thought he was about to make a joke. “You have to do it like you mean it. Like this.” Then— he tossed the mud so hard at the little pile they had made that it splashed up and Rhen gasped. “Sorry,” he said quickly, “I got carried away—” But she was laughing now, and she gathered up all the mud she could into her two hands. “Like this?” she said, and she threw the mud so hard that it spattered up into their faces and Dameon sputtered and spat it out of his mouth and— Laughed and laughed, so that Rhen had to laugh too, and she rolled forward and had to catch herself with her hands in the stupid wet slimy mud, and she thought that if this was what rain was really like, maybe it wasn’t so bad. “You’re a natural,” Dameon told her when he had caught his breath, and she grinned when she had caught hers. “This is fun.” And she patted more mud onto the cake, and he patted more mud onto it and their hands brushed against each other like timid butterflies, and their cheeks were pink in the soft blue rain. “So this is how you played? When you were little?” He smiled wistfully. “Sometimes. In Aveyond. It— doesn’t rain in the Dreamworld.” “Oh.” Now her hands were brushing his on purpose. His fingers were warm still, under the layers of mud and rain. “I used to think storms were sort of— magical.” “Really?” She never would have thought of it before, but now— now everything seemed bright and enchanted. “Everything sparkles in the rain.” He glancing up at her with a soft smile— what sparkled was his eyes, and something in her chest when he laughed quietly and said, “Or everything gets covered in mud.” She grinned. “Like us.” He nodded and laughed again, and she took a fistful of mud and patted it down over one of his lovely warm hands. “Rain makes things— new,” she said, and she thought she was going to smile at him but then she was too shy so she smiled at the ground instead. “Yes,” he said softly, while she proceeded to bury his other hand in the wet earth. “I think— it makes the tired world beautiful again.” They breathed for a moment with nothing but those words between them, and then he said, “Rhen?” She looked up at him, and now there was nothing between them but breathlessness, and he finished timidly, “You are like the rain, for— for me.” She blushed, and smiled, and then she was laughing and leaning over the stupid mud cake at way-past-time-for-sleeping, and saying, “And you are sunshine.” And they sat in the cold, wet, quiet rain with shining eyes and pink cheeks and warm, bright hope inside.
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