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  1. Chapitre 4: Winding Back the Time—Husband and Wife Mel tried to clear her head of many things—Edward’s obvious sulking, the impeded progress of their journey, and the mood swings of a vampress. She was worrying too much and that was a sure sign that things would go downhill. Which was why Mel loved to depend on her gut feeling. Thinking just complicated things, not to mention it wasted a lot of time and energy. Like now. Mel was thinking about how thinking was a waste of time and now she realized that by doing so, she was wasting her time. And thinking about how she was wasting her time by thinking just wasted even more of her time. Ugh. Her head was spinning. Need. To. Clear. My. Head. “Hey, say something,” said Mel, abruptly breaking the cold silence in the Istir forest. Galahad was evidently surprised at her request. He seemed preoccupied about something and Mel surmised it was about his wife. There were a lot of things that Mel wanted to ask Galahad about—mostly about Te’ijal to be sure. “What do you want me to say?” Galahad asked quietly. Okay, something’s definitely wrong. Why isn’t he his usual obnoxious self? As the virgin snow muffled their footfalls, Mel realized that they had gone quite a long way. This must be a very bothered Galahad to have not checked their wandering. But then again, Mel was thankful for that. Distance is very healing at times. “I don’t know. Isn’t there something you’d want to share? A moment of glory perhaps?” Galahad lost his usual frown as he fell back to reminiscing. “I was under the King’s service before. I was the Captain of the Guards and I had everybody’s admiration. I even saved the King’s life once, when an assassin tried to take his life. But… it was too long ago,” he murmured. Mel had stopped walking and was instead looking at Galahad’s face. When he was not scowling or bathing in his pompous self-righteousness, he was rather handsome. True, frowning and scowling had marred his face with lines but Mel could still see that once, he must have been very handsome. She felt a little sorry for him. “When did you meet Te’ijal?” she asked cautiously. Galahad let out a sigh, creating a mist with his breath. “At that time too, after I had saved the King’s life. She was with a party of travelers out to save the world.” Wow, he’s not spitting and shouting when talking about her. Mel made a mental note to store this memory in her mind for years to come. “Let’s sit down.” Mel looked around and found a nice spot under a tree where a rock with smoothened surface jutted out. She sat herself and watched as Galahad followed her, his cape flowing behind him. He contented himself by leaning against the tree under which Mel was sitting. After a moment’s hesitation, Mel asked, “Tell me, what do you really think of Te’ijal?” Mel heard him sigh again. “She has turned me into something I had loathed. She had tricked me into marrying her. She had made me experience living that dreary monotonous existence, forever plagued with the insatiable hunger for blood. She has made me a mockery of my ideals.” Then he chuckled. “But I don’t know. She has become a habit to me. Living with her. Arguing with her. Running away from her yet fully aware that she would be able to find me in a few days’ time. It is funny really. Perhaps I am always half-hoping she would find me when I do those kinds of things. It gives me a vague reassurance that maybe, maybe I am more than just a plaything to her.” Mel’s eyes widened in surprise. “Do you love her?” “I wonder.” Galahad lifted his face towards the clear Northern night sky. “I wonder if I could love her. After all, she is the only one I can love because she is immortal. She will not fade away with the passage of time. But continually being treated like a plaything is not something that can earn one’s love.” “You rescued her,” Mel pointed out, remembering that incident in Darkthrop Keep when Te’ijal nearly ‘died.’ Mel could still see in her mind’s eye Galahad’s face then, anxious and worried. Mel had wondered then if he loved the vampress. “I did because, as I’ve mentioned earlier, she has become like a habit to me. Her existence is nothing but a habit to me,” said Galahad with a little more vehemence than usual. “It’s nothing but a habit.” “Okaaaay.” Mel narrowed her eyes. “What the hell is wrong? Is Te’ijal dying or what?” “What makes you say that?” Galahad asked sharply. “Well the way you’re talking, all reminisce-y and sad, makes me think that she’s about to die or something.” Mel stopped. Goddess, I’m such an idiot. “Wait, I’m sorry.” Galahad kept his eyes on her, a frown forming in his brows. An awkward silence settled between them, like an oppressive fog. He closed his eyes again and shook his head. “She’s hurt.” “What?” “That woman cannot really heal people.” “What are you saying? She healed me before when—” “She’s not capable of that,” Galahad repeated. “She can only transfer the wounds and injuries of others to herself.” “You mean my wound earlier…” “Yes, that is why she’s suffering for it now. She has to drink somebody’s blood for her to heal. Or she can wait for days until her self-regeneration can do that for her. And that is the reason why you and the rest of your friends should stay away from her for a while.” “But why? Why would she do that?” Mel sputtered in disbelief. “Why did you let her?” Galahad opened his eyes and glared at her fiercely. “Because that cursed creature has a heart! She does care!” He covered his face with his hands. “About you and your friends.” “Galahad?” Mel stood up and approached him cautiously. When she was near enough, she touched him lightly on the shoulder. “Hey…” “She did that for me a couple of times, when I was stupid enough to run away from her and face enemies I could not defeat.” He looked at the young woman beside him with a pained expression. “Why did you have to do this to me?” Mel felt herself coloring in confusion. “W-What?” “Reminding me that she is not wholly a creature of evil.” Galahad gritted his teeth and turned away. After a few moments, he seemed to have regained his composure. “Come, we have wandered far enough. Let us go back.” Still baffled, Mel let him take her back to the cave. When they arrived, the rest of the party, with the exception of Te’ijal, was still comfortably asleep. Galahad took up his position by the entrance of the cave. Mel deemed it best that she return to sleep. As she laid herself down by the fire, she closed her eyes and thought about the paladin’s words earlier. One thing struck her. He loves her but he won’t admit it. She had been lying down for about an hour but sleep wouldn’t come back to her. She opened her eyes slightly to see if anybody else was up. When she glanced at the entrance, she saw that Galahad was no longer there. Alarmed, she got up and went to the mouth of the cave. Snow had begun to fall softly. She noticed big heavy footsteps outside, leading to the forest. Galahad’s. “What is it, crumpet?” Mel whirled around. “Te’ijal!” The vampress, who was paler than usual, stood beside her. Her face was a little drawn as if tired. Mel could feel the blood rushing to her face as she tried to find the words to say. “I-I…” “Looking for my husband?” “Y-Yes!” Mel mentally kicked herself for her superb conversation skills. “He is in one of his thinking moods,” Te’ijal answered quietly. Mel couldn’t help but take note of the fact that it was almost the same answer Galahad gave earlier when she asked about Te’ijal. Husband and wife indeed. Somehow, it made her feel a little bit annoyed. Just a little bit. The pause must have been longer than it should have since Te’ijal was looking at her closely. “W-What?” Mel snapped, self-consciously. “You’ve been looking at me a lot these past few days,” the vampress chuckled. Mel’s face reddened even more. Damn it! Why won’t she stop that? “I-I was just making sure you weren’t going to have any o-one of us for dinner!” Te’ijal chuckled again. Despite her flustered state, Mel couldn’t help but feel a tingling sensation down her spine at the sound of the vampress’ chuckle. “You’ve gotten pretty bad at lying, rabbit.” “A-Anyway!” Mel sputtered, desperate for a change in conversation. “Galahad told me that you’ve… taken my wounds.” “That man talks too much,” Te’ijal muttered quietly. Mel looked at her earnestly. She could see the vampress was still in pain. “Te’ijal.” “You need not worry. I will recover from these, much sooner than you would have, to be sure.” “He… Galahad also told me that you’d heal faster if you drink blood.” Mel’s heart started hammering like crazy within her chest. “Since it is my fault, it’s okay for me if… you drink my blood.” Te’ijal raised her eyebrows. Then she smiled. “Very bold of you, little rabbit.” “Well?” Mel snapped again in nervousness. Her palms were getting sweaty even though it was so cold. And before Mel realized what was happening, the vampress’ lips met hers, cool and soft. Mel pulled away in surprise. “What are you—?” “That is very sweet of you, to offer your blood. But I am afraid that if I did that, I would have turned you to a vampire,” Te’ijal chuckled again. “T-That’s not it!” Mel paused, confused with what just happened. Maybe she was hallucinating. But the sensation on her lips seemed real. Too real. “You… you kissed me?” she asked uncertainly. “You’re doubting it?” Te’ijal’s hand slipped to the back of Mel’s neck, pulling the girl closer to her until their lips met. This time, Te’ijal opened her mouth and let her tongue made its way into Mel’s. Dazed with what’s happening, Mel could only let Te’ijal do as she wished. Her senses were getting blurry and she wasn’t even sure if what was happening was real or another of her hallucinations. But it felt so good. Before she knew what she was doing, Mel let her hands explore the vampress’ back, feeling the contour of her body. A slight groan made Mel jump away. She looked around and saw Edward shifting his sleeping position. Still confused, Mel looked at Te’ijal, who looked back at her with a smile on her face. “It’s real, rabbit.” Mel didn’t know what happened next and all she could remember was that she had let herself be led by the vampress to the innermost sanctum of the cave. to be continued
  2. @Stardale: Well personally I think she should hold it all in. After all she just has to do this for five more months and then she would be free to do whatever it i she wants. I just think it's a waste for her to quit. @NightMelody: Yes, I get what you mean. One of our friends warned her that she shouldn't bite more than she can chew. But she earnestly believed that she could do so much more and that she wasn't realizing her full potential that's why she kept on pouncing every opportunity that comes her way. And now, I think she reached her limit. @Klaus: I know she needs a break which was why I told her last time that everything would be better after the sembreak. But she was thinking of a much longer break. She wanted to take a break for a full year. Her parents were against it of course. @KTC: LOL maybe I should talk to her elder sister about that. xD So I managed to contact her last night and ugh, I don't know what to make of it. She's so fickle. I figured yes, she should be doing what makes her happy and that there's no sense in forcing her to be everything people want her to be. But then, she is now indecisive. I take what I said back about her sorority. Apparently that was the tipping point. So I said all right, she should just quit that then if that was the real cause of her problems. And lo and behold, she is hesitating. And then she said one cannot quit a sorority so easily, saying something about the vows she had promised and that she stands to lose so much. I don't really know how sororities work but so far from what my other friends and I know about her sorority, it is the best and most respectable on campus. Of course, I also know a sorority isn't something that one can quit so easily after all those initiation rites and what-nots. I think some of her sisters talked to her about it. Anyway, do I egg her on to quit? Or to just suck it in? The sorority's connections will help her in the future. It would be to her interest. But then again if it's making her so miserable, she should just quit right?
  3. I just need more opinions on a particular case, actually how to get through one of my friends. Person A is the student council president of her college, cum laude standing, graduating in one sem, member of two distinguished organizations (considered for presidency of one but she chose the student council), a new member (or sister) of the most popular and respectable sorority on campus, generally well-liked. Sounds like she has everything right? The only problem is,um, shall I say her mental state. It's not that I think she's unhinged. She has always been a bit odd, a loner of sorts, poker-faced, clueless about mainstream stuff but quite knowledgeable in academic and weird things. Well she has confided to me that for a year now she had been feeling enormous pressure and wanted to quit (from her position, school, everything) many times but her pride just kept her from doing so. The first instance was during the elections, the second midway during the first sem and the third was this sembreak. And despite talking it over with her, she cracked and it was hard to contact her for days. So I'm actually pretty worried because she has this weird kind of thinking that she has no right to complain of anything that happens in her life. She has everything after all. So she doesn't really open up unless she's near her breaking point. Which I must say causes much problems for us her friends. In our last conversation, she said she will be quitting her sorority and the student council presidency, of which I was against. After all, I could see that the sorority had much to offer her and can improve her in so many ways. She has the potential to be much more than she is. Although I do understand where she's coming from, the sorority was pretty firm and held high standards and the work may have gotten to her. As for her presidency, I just think she owes it to the people who voted for her to at least hold her end of the bargain. But then again, she has gotten to the point where she would wait out in the rain for hours just to get sick and to have a break from her responsibilities (I asked her why couldn't she had faked it instead and she said she was a pretty bad liar), getting into near-accidents and now cutting herself off from the rest of the world for days. So yes, I would gladly go to where she is but she is currently in her hometown in a far island. Any thoughts on how to go about this? I mean I know she wants a break but she just has to pull this off for one more freaking sem. But reason is not getting through her anymore.
  4. Personally, no I don't think it is right for the firefighters to let the house burn just because the man wasn't able to (or for some reason didn't want to) pay that $75. First of all, consider why there are firefighters in the first place. They are there to prevent or to save people and/or their properties from fire. By letting that building burn is like forgoing the essence of the institution. They should just do their duties first and then fix that insurance problem after. Or clarify the law and the provisions.
  5. Whoo. Things are now ok. My friend's iPod just freaked since I didn't wait for the safely remove hardware balloon to show up before pulling it out. The files in the iPod are still accessible from the laptop. The thing just won't work until it's reformatted so my friend had to burn the files to DVDs. I'm now afraid to fiddle with an iPod, especially one with 160gb. :/ Anyway, thanks KTC and natalie.
  6. Hey guys, does anybody know how to recover files from an iPod? I copied some files from a friend through her iPod and when it came to removing it, I did the usual Safely Remove Hardware thing (but I didn't wait for the dialog box) and pulled the plug. And then the files just disappeared from the iPod. Help? D: Btw, I don't have iTunes in my laptop so it's not the automatic transfer of files from iPod to laptop.
  7. _____ It still bothered Mel that Edward was still not speaking to her. She never thought that he could be that sensitive. This thought was actually very effective in clearing her mind of other worries. Mel wondered how long Edward was going to sulk. She kind of missed his puppy-like concern over her well-being. Now he was just sitting by the cave entrance, looking at the snow whirling in a frenzied un-syncopated dance. Lydia had already turned in for the day. Actually it amazed Mel that the snobbish girl could sleep through any kind of weather. So much the better, anyway. At least the endless litany about ‘her poor Edward being preyed upon by savage girls’ stopped. Stella, well, she had also gone to bed although Mel was pretty sure that the frail girl was only pretending since she could not bear the heavy atmosphere in the cave. Like Edward, Galahad also sat by the cave entrance but his eyes were closed, as if meditating. Mel wondered if he was meditating over his black-and-white morality. Te’ijal, much to Mel’s surprise, had taken upon herself to stay further inside the cave, where the shadows wrapped their giant fingers around her body, leaving only her blazing red eyes to indicate that she was still there. It was rare that Te’ijal would be reclusive; most of the time, she would be teasing her stubborn husband. For the first time in almost a year, Mel felt alone. It was like she was back in Harburg all over again, in Harburg where there was nobody she could call her friend, not even Boden. This made her reflect on her actions. What was it that drove people away from her? Was it because of her peasant origins? Or the fact that she was once in the wrong side of the law? Or maybe it was her vulnerability to her emotions? Mel shook her head. Mulling over it in a cold, dark cave would bring her no good. So she laid herself down by the camp fire and fell asleep. ‡ Mel woke up with a start. She looked around her and saw that night had fallen. The blizzard had exhausted itself and everything was eerily peaceful. Surprisingly, Edward had gone to bed. He made his place near the entrance of the cave. Galahad was still sitting guard, with his eyes closed. And Te’ijal was leaning against the side of the cave, still covered in shadows. She had her face turned towards the innermost sanctum of the cave. Mel found it very strange. For the length of their journey, the vampress had never purposely distanced herself from them—particularly from Galahad, whom she loved to tease. Thinking of which, Mel turned back to Galahad who was still sitting by the entrance of the cave. She decided to approach him. Mel stopped in front of the paladin. “Hey.” “What is it, young woman?” Galahad replied, without opening his eyes. “Your wife—is she okay? She’s not… herself.” Mel saw him press his lips together, as if hesitating how to respond to her question. “That woman is fine. Just leave her be; it’s one of her bloody mood swings.” “Te’ijal has mood swings?” Mel repeated incredulously. Somehow the thought of Te’ijal getting moody at times was... very unbecoming. Mel had always imagined the vampress to be fun-loving, sarcastic and entertaining—so mood swings were definitely out of character. “Yes she has,” Galahad replied simply. Suspicions began growing inside Mel’s thoughts. Something was definitely wrong. Galahad was not his usual damn-all-spawns-of-the-devil-especially-vampresses-who-steal-the-souls-of-paladins. It seemed like he was rather worried (if that was possible) for Te’ijal. “You’ve seen her moody before?” Mel asked again. “Yes.” “Does she bite when she’s moody?” “Yes, she does so you better keep your distance.” Galahad was always warning the whole party from getting close to Te’ijal, but usually he was energetic and shouting when he was doing so. The strangely calm and silent way he said those words now made Mel a bit anxious. And whenever Mel was anxious, she had the horrible tendency to do stupid things—like approaching Te’ijal and asking her what the hell was wrong. But Galahad’s steel gaze kept her from doing so. Even so, Mel knew that if she stayed a bit longer, she would really walk towards Te’ijal and ask her. “I’m going to stroll around a bit,” Mel said. Galahad narrowed his eyes. “After you got mauled earlier? No you are not going out. At least not alone.” At that moment, Mel thought that Edward and Galahad had so much in common. Maybe in a few years’ time Edward would be Galahad’s carbon copy, perhaps a little less incredulous on stuffs like magic (although Edward had already shown his tendency to not believe some things—like Orbs of Magic and vampires). Somehow that thought didn’t make her exactly happy. “Then accompany me then,” Mel answered peevishly. To her surprise, Galahad got up and said, “I will.” ‡ to be continued _____ For some reason, this fic is sounding more Galahad x Te'ijal than I intended it to be. :/ Oh wells. Next chapter will be on the relationship between Te'ijal and Galahad.
  8. Medea

    A Bedtime Story

    lol Do what you like. It just seemed so much better if we are provided with a reason why the Mommy is telling that kind of story--that would give it more relevance. Can't wait to read more of your works.
  9. Medea

    A Bedtime Story

    I'd like Two Princesses better since A Bedtime Story sounds too plain. :/ Anyways, nice job. I like the story, it does sound like a bedtime story although I wonder if the Mommy is the second princess' sister or something--I mean she sounds like preempting the possibility that her daughter would become a lesbian. While still in the middle of the story, I actually thought that the Mommy was the first princess and that her love story had gone wrong and that she was telling it to her kid (I assumed with the prince) to make her understand that love knows no gender.
  10. @Rena: Haha I'm trying to give Mel's character depth. xD I'm glad you think so. I've been trying to make an Ava x Uthar fic but keep on failing. Maybe someday... xD @natalie/Esme/Heero: Thankies. : ) @Blurble: Haha Mel here still likes him... a little. Anyway, thanks. : ) _____ Chapitre 3: A Night Like Any Other Night She had been sitting on a barrel outside Boden’s office, waiting for her him to call her in. Apparently there was a job assignment for her but he was still talking to somebody inside so she decided to wait outside. The moon was playing hide-and-seek in the sky. Once in a while, it would peek out from behind the clouds and Mel even fancied that it smiled at her. The thought made her smile in turn. Her life was an endless routine of starve-steal-eat and if it weren’t for times like this when she could just peacefully admire the moon, she would have become embittered. Yes, it was because of this simple pleasure that she could still consider life worth living. This ordinary night. A night like any other night. But the events that followed contradicted her thoughts. After being told of the job assignment, Mel immediately went to work. She went to the Clockwork Mansion, walked through the front door easily (goddess only knows why these people didn’t lock their doors at night) and tiptoeing past the sleeping occupants, she went to the veranda and saw three hooded figures. The man in the middle, the one in a blood-red cloak approached her and told her to steal the Orb of Darkness from the Darkthrop Tower. At first she resisted but his offer was just too hard to resist. 200 gold coins! It was a fortune. So she foolishly went and got the Orb for him only to be betrayed. The two hooded hooligans grabbed her by her arms as the leader in red opened a portal to goddess-knows-where. And she had thought it was the end of her until she came. Of course, Mel didn’t notice that she was beautiful at first. How could she when she was still panicking about what was happening around her? The woman who had saved her was fighting the man in the red cloak while Mel looked on helplessly. From what she could gather from their heated conversation, both the man and woman knew each other well and that the woman’s magic was stronger than the man’s. Eventually he had to retreat but he had also taken with him the Orb of Darkness. The woman introduced herself as Te’ijal, a vampress. A… what? To prove it, she fixed her glowing red eyes at Mel’s and she bared her fangs. Mel almost ran away in fright but the vampress caught her by the neck and she had stayed to listen. Nothing about Te’ijal registered in Mel’s mind except that she was strong, she protected her and she had a husband who kept on running away from her Attraction? Practically non-existent. When Mel met Te’ijal again, it was with joy and relief—joy at seeing her savior and relief because she could finally prove to Edward that vampires did exist. Mel was still infatuated with Edward and it lasted so long that really, it took her by surprise that one day she realized that she just didn’t like him that much anymore. And she was equally surprised to realize that she had been looking at somebody far too much. ‡ “Hey Mel?” Mel looked up and saw Edward’s green eyes looking back at her. She had been sitting by the camp fire, thinking about things she would not rather tell. As usual, Stella and Lydia were fast asleep just across her. Being the spoiled brat that she was, Lydia had demanded that she be given two woolen blankets because the cold would ruin her oh-so-precious skin. Thankfully, Te’ijal and Galahad didn’t need blankets so they managed to spare some for the green-haired snob. “Yes?” She didn’t notice that while she was staring at the fire, Edward was staring at her from the corner of the cave. But she knew that his approaching her now was about her being absent-minded lately. Edward sat himself beside her. “Can we talk?” Mel pressed her lips together before answering. “Of course.” “What’s wrong? And don’t tell me that it’s about saving the world or recovering fully Stella’s memories because I can tell it’s not those. What is it?” Mel instinctively glanced towards the two vampires who were sitting near the cave. Galahad had his eyes closed, as if meditating, while Te’ijal fiddled her bow in a bored fashion. She glanced back at Edward and said, “It’s nothing.” Edward creased his brows. “It’s not nothing, Mel! With your lack of concentration, some of us would get hurt. What if we were attacked and you were zoning out?” “Well you’re there, aren’t you, the heroic prince?” Mel shot back irritably. “After all I’m just a petty girl with a knife.” She expected a smart-ass retort from him but hearing nothing, she looked at him. He was looking at the fire, and she could see his hands were clenched. “Good night, Mel.” He stood up from beside her. Mel could only look at him as he retreated to the shadows and laid himself down on the cold hard floor with his back towards her. She felt like she should apologize to him but decided against it. Goddess, what’s wrong with me? Mel groaned inwardly. She buried her face in her knees. ‡ They started out early the next day since the blizzard had subsided. Te’ijal, being the more experienced in traveling, led the party while Galahad guarded the rear. Stella was sandwiched in the middle since she was the weakest. Lydia was also in the middle party although she was far from weak—it just made her feel like a princess being guarded on all sides. Mel walked behind Te’ijal since she had the stronger affinity with the Orb and was, technically, the leader of the party. Edward followed after Stella and Lydia. Mel was still not feeling all that well. She didn’t really like quarreling with Edward. Although she was no longer attracted to him, she still valued him as a friend. After all, they had been through a lot. Maybe she should really apologize. “Heads up, rabbit.” Mel looked at Te’ijal still had her back turned towards her. Looking carefully through the gently falling snow, Mel could make out a pack of snow wolves running towards them. In a flash, everybody took out their weapons. Te’ijal, having a weapon for long-range, began shooting arrows. She managed to strike down half of the wolves but the other half were now approaching. Lydia used her fire magic to weaken those that remained but she couldn’t get them all. Edward and Galahad slashed their way, staining the virgin white snow with blood. Mel looked on beside Stella, unable to do anything with her knife which was too short to enable her to attack the wolves without getting scratched or bitten first. “Just stay by my side, Stella.” ”Yes, Mel!” Stella answered in a frightened whisper. Even during this time, Mel could not help but admire Te’ijal’s form as she straightened her back to string her bow. Even if she was covered in brown cloak, Mel could just imagine the vampress’ smooth arm muscles rippling imperceptibly beneath her clear pale skin. “Mel, watch out!” Stella shrieked. As Mel snapped back to attention, she felt three sharp nails shredding the side of her right arm. With blood spurting from the gashes, Mel dropped to her knees but was unwilling to let the culprit go without dealing a blow. Pouring her anger, pain and confusion, she dug the knife straight between the wolf’s eyes, piercing the thick skull. She brought the blade down, effectively slicing the wolf’s head in two. As the wolf dropped down dead, Mel was sprayed with its blood. She remained standing although the pain in her arm really made her want to roll in the snow to ease the burning pain. “Mel!” Stella cried out as she ran to her side. “Your arm!” “Wow, thanks for noticing,” said Mel through gritted teeth. With the sight of three deep gashes on her friend’s arm, Stella fainted. “Oh, how helpful of you,” Mel couldn’t help but mutter irritably. By now, the pack of wolves had been completely eradicated. Galahad and Edward were now returning with their swords and armors stained red. When Galahad saw her, he ran to her side and exclaimed, “Goddess, you’re injured!” “I know that!” Mel snapped. The pain was getting intolerable. Why was it that they have to state the obvious every time? Before she knew it, she was whisked off her feet and was carried in Galahad’s arms. “This is precisely the reason why women should never fight. Fighting is men’s business.” Mel felt like retorting but held her tongue. She felt she had no right to say anything since it was her fault why she was injured right now. Edward was right; her inattention would someday cost somebody’s life. Lydia, who had also come back, took one look at Mel’s wounded arm then turned away in disgust. “Careless, unskilled rat-face,” she muttered in a low voice. She scanned the area for Edward and when she saw him, she immediately went to his side and asked if he was injured anywhere. Mel looked at Edward and saw, much to her surprise, that he was looking at her coldly. “Wait, husband.” Galahad turned around fiercely. “Has the bloodlust gotten to you again, creature of evil? You are not going to have her blood as long as I am here! In my honor, I will defend this maiden’s life with—” Te’ijal chuckled. “Much as I’d want to, I do not drink blood mixed with a wolf’s.” Galahad glared at her skeptically. “You lie, you have no power of healing!” “She has,” Mel said feebly. “She healed me once when I was going to Thial Mountain Pass.” After a brief moment of hesitation, Galahad allowed Te’ijal to come near them and pass her hand over the open wounds. Mel looked on in silence as an unearthly blue emanated from the vampress’ hand and covered her wounds. The gashes slowly faded until nothing was left. Mel looked away lest she began staring again. As she raised her head to talk to Galahad, she saw that his face bore a strange expression—something like awe and respect and something else. But it lasted only a second; it was gone again in no time. With her arm now all right, Galahad let Mel down. They then proceeded to find a cave where they can stay until Stella, who was being carried by Edward in the same way that he had carried her when he and Mel first found her in the ruins, revived. Lydia was scowling and kept muttering, “Sly and useless girl abusing my dear Edward’s kindness.” They found one in a heavily wooded area of evergreens. After making sure that there were no animals taking refuge within, they settled down. When Stella finally came around, a blizzard had began blowing, ending the progress of their journey for that day. This brought on a darkening of everybody’s mood. ‡ chapter not yet finished; will post more later
  11. @KTC: That would depend on the type of education given to them. It actually goes beyond the pointing out of their rights. It's more on the what they can do to fight for it. I have met union leaders and laborers who are openly opposing the system. They are threatened, definitely, of torture, abduction and death--not only them but also their family. But how are they able to conquer that fear? It's basically education and, as I've mentioned in the previous post, through these we can make the people see that although the sacrifices are great, the reward will even be greater. It's through these we can break through the individualist culture being forced upon us by the system. It's basically making them realize the power of collective action.
  12. @smirk: Haha nope. I'm a lit major (quite obvious isn't it lol) who isn't stuck in her ivory tower. Flagship campus. I'm usually at the building where one can find Oble's sister. xD I'm actually losing faith in our PolSci students. Those that I meet are all theory, no practice hence they can spout very convincing arguments why the government is like this and why we should just let things happen as they should (corrupt government and all), blah blah blah. Some of them, mind you, would vote for dearest madame president if she ever runs again (which, although clearly unconstitutional, can happen if the charter change pushes through)because they prefer an 'evil they know rather than an evil they don't know.' See how screwed up they are? These are the people who have never been with the laborers (who are abused, sexually harassed, abandoned when they are injured in the workplace) or the farmers who have to sell 4 kilos of rice stalks to buy 1 kilo of rice. They have the gall to speak of those abstract ideas simply because they have never descended from their lofty chairs of academic knowledge to really know the situation of our people. They don't even care that the two students who have been abducted for over two years now were in the same college as them. This is precisely the reason why the academe is also an ISA. What they teach us in school is never enough. The academe can also be used to reinforce the ideology that promotes passivity, blind acceptance and cynicism. Yes, even in our beloved university, what with those budget cuts and blatant selling out (call centers in a piece of land supposedly for 'academic' purposes, anyone?). @Stardale: Not necessarily. I've been with people who have experienced abuse and corruption firsthand. And some of them still don't fight back. Why? Because they acknowledge that the government, the system is too strong. Like the laborers, who although they had been unjustly dismissed without compensation, still settled for scraps. They don't want to fight back because they know that the system can strike at them with even greater force. Heard of the abducted ones? That is what happens to those who dare fight back in our country. Activists, journalists, union leaders. They are scared. What do you risk when you try to fight back? Torture and death, not only to yourself but also to your family. What then is the solution to apathy? It's education, theory and practice. Not the type we get from the four walls of the academe. But the type we learn when we try to live with the masses. It's through these we can make the people see that although the sacrifices are great, the reward will even be greater. It's through these we can break through the individualist culture being forced upon us by the system. As KTC said, it would be hard. But hey, nobody said real social change can be achieved without much time, efforts, lives being sacrificed. @KTC: Amen to that. In our country, 75% of the population are farmers, 15% are laborers, 8% petty bourgeoisie, 1% national bourgeoisie, 1% landlords and big bourgeoisie-compradors. It's very clear that the largest chunk of our population is composed of farmers and laborers but sadly, they are the most oppressed. If what corruption hitting a person is enough to wake him/her out of his/her apathetic slumber, then surely we'd have our social change. But no, we don't. It's because of interpellation. From the moment they were born, they were taught to follow this, follow that or else they won't get wages. They're made to play the roles of mute slaves who are deprived of education so that they'd never learn to fight back. Which is why it is very important to educate them about their rights and what they could do to effect the change we need.
  13. @smirk: I believe we're studying in the same uni and are in the same year. @bread: I don't mean to sound antagonistic but truth be told, international awareness is not that useful at all. Hegemony is the key word. We are all living in an oppressive system--most of us just don't notice it because of the interpellation that comes with hegemony, with lots of help from different ideological and repressive state apparatuses. What is draining us all, making us apathetic, afraid, and ignorant, is a very powerful ideology advanced by certain countries, imposing it to their neocolonies. And those that advance this ideology have, with the passage of time, grown so much in power that they can effectively render meaningless any attempt to fight back against the system. Their hold on the ISAs (like the media, academic institutions, etc) is very strong. We can see this in the news black-out, or as KTC has pointed out, how even the most atrocious of crimes last only a week in the papers. Alienation and passivity is being promoted because it works well for those on top. For example, what happened in Myanmar. Despite the whole world knowing that the Burmese military regime had oppressed and made the lives of the people of Myanmar terrible, what with all the murders and torture (not putting aside the fact they held on to their power illegally--they lost in the last elections to Aung Suu Kyi), nothing is done. Why? Of course the international community will hide behind the excuse that they respect Myanmar's sovereignty as a country. They'd release a press statement every now and then so it would look like they're doing something when in fact they really aren't. So what's the real deal? They don't really want to help at all. What is it to them? They'll gain nothing. That's how the ruling ideology works today. If you want something to be done, money must be involved.
  14. http://img24.imageshack.us/img24/2443/desktopziu.png[/img] My wallpaper is a photo of Tumana, Markina, one of the areas flooded by the recent typhoon Ondoy and where we went for our college's relief operation. Just to remind me not to be a slacker and to inject some meaning into my existence by helping out the masses.
  15. Haha, how true. Te'ijal is sexy. xD _____ Chapitre 2: Winding Back the Time—The Pendragons They had gone on in their journey peacefully, with Mel making a great effort to be lively and sarcastic as she was before. She succeeded with her act for the most part; but there were two people who saw through it all. For many nights now, as the scenery changed from the verdant greenery to the blinding whiteness of snow, Edward had been shooting worried looks in her direction. At first, Mel was kind of touched but as the days wore on, she found them very irritating. She was actually having second thoughts whether to go to the brown-haired prince and confront him about it or just pray that he would tire of it. His approaching her seemed out of the question, especially since that incident in the forest where she nearly knifed him. The other person who saw through her act was the person she wanted most to be deceived. Whenever Mel would meet Te’ijal’s eyes, the vampress would give her a look that plainly said: You are very amusing, rabbit. And try as she might, Mel could never read beyond that message. Does she know that I’m bothered by her? Does she know why I’m acting this way? These thoughts would race inside her head and she would turn away, her heart beating wildly. Mel knew better than to deny whatever it was she was feeling. She was attracted to the vampress, with her cool and witty personality. This, Mel reasoned, was because she is… exotic. There was nothing wrong with it, really. Mel had been attracted to many people before and for various reasons. But thoughts of survival had effectively scraped off every other thing in her mind. The closest thing that she ever got with someone she was attracted to was being friends with him. That was Edward. Edward was handsome, Mel admitted that. And he was like her in many ways—they were both trouble-makers and adventurers. And though he was a noble, he didn’t act like a snob—he was down-to-earth. So it didn’t come as a surprise that she found herself wanting him to be next to her or that she was incessantly getting worked up every time Stella or Lydia flirted with him. But as she got to know him, she also discovered some flaws in his personality—like the fact that he had that horrible tendency to become a male chauvinist at times. Mel saw in her mind once again the incident in Naylith summit, where she, Edward and Stella got into an argument. Mel admitted that it was wrong for her to have lied to Edward but what could she do? She had always been an emotional girl and besides, it really wasn’t Edward’s business. True, they needed a brawn in their party but they—well, at least Mel didn’t force him to come along. It was him who insisted on tagging along. And his words, ugh, they were just sexist. “It is my business. I’ve saved your life countless times on this mad mission of yours. I deserve to know what you’ve gotten me into!” he had said. And after Mel told the truth, he didn’t believe her and accused them instead of being crazy. “The goddess help me, both of you are insane! I can’t believe you talk me into this crazy quest! What was I thinking?” “You! I didn’t talk you into anything. You refused to let us go alone!” Mel had retorted. Then of course, as typical of sexist nobles, he evaded her comeback. “That was before I knew you were mad! Vampires? Magical orbs? Enslaving humanity? I gave you a chance to tell me the truth about this silly quest of yours and you reward me with bigger lies? I’m done. I’ll see you both later!” He had forced himself into their company but he made it seem like it was they who forced him. But Mel forgave him for that. She was still attracted to him then and as they always say, attraction blinds one to a lot of faults. But as time passed, she discovered yet another flaw—that of his cowardice in facing his duty. He dreaded becoming a king and had been skirting from his fate. It was obvious that given a chance, he would run away. But the influence of the King and Queen of Thais would surely bring him back and that was why he settled to the next best thing—traveling the world before he’d be stuck in his throne. She couldn’t help but compare it to the story she had heard from a pirate she had met in a bar in Harburg, a story about a king of Thais who lived hundreds of years ago. It was the story of Uthar Pendragon. ‡ “Hey missy, you want to hear a story?” asked the dark-skinned man with a long scar running down his cheek. It took Mel quite some time to figure out what this man’s profession was. He had the aura of a pirate but his language was more refined. A merchant perhaps? Or maybe he really was a pirate but the type who would be sent out for reconnaissance. That much Mel knew, what with her meeting different people from all walks of life (except the nobles, of course). She had just earned fifty gold coins for a job and was treating herself to a drink in the bar. As she sat herself on a stool, the person on her right accosted her. She could see that he was slightly drunk, not totally wasted—yet. The bar was half-filled, since it was a weekday and people didn’t have money to bust on drinks until payday. But it was still noisy enough to make one feel that he can spill the secrets of his soul or of his family to anyone who happened to be beside him. Mel was in a good mood. It was rare that she’d have fifty gold coins to spend. So after she demanded a shot of tequila from the bartender, she turned to the scarred man (Mel was pretty sure he was a pirate, what with his weather-beaten face) and said, “Go right ahead.” “You’ve heard of Thais, haven’t you? That rich kingdom which was laid to waste hundreds of years ago during the time of the Demon Lord, and then rebuilt to a greater splendor once the Great Queen Rhen Pendragon returned to her rightful place. Well, let me tell you that heirs or heiresses lost were actually quite common in Thais. “Like King Uthar Pendragon.” Here the stranger took a swig from a bottle of rum. “See, when this Uthar was a young man, way before he married that pretty princess Ella of Candar, he was wild and adventurous. He once stowed away in a pirate ship and stayed there for a year. Mind you, he was a rotten prince before the captain of the ship set him right. He would whine and complain about the chores that he had to do onboard the ship. “‘I’m the Crown Prince of Thais, you scoundrels!’ he would shout. ‘You have no right to treat me this way!’ “And then the captain would fix her eye on him and say, ‘Your title means nothing here, oh mighty prince. Here you are nothing but a useless lout. Don’t you even dare insist your high-and-mighty ass on us or you’ll be walking on the plank.’ “It took a while but they broke him and surprisingly, he became a rather good pirate. He was smart, brave and strong. He became the pride of the crew. And then one day, as they had been engaged in a combat, something went wrong with one of their cannons and it exploded, sending shrapnel and pieces of timber all over the place. One of these shot towards Uthar’s direction and would have made a hole in his head had it not for the captain who pushed him out of the way and lost her eye instead. “And that was how the captain got the name Ava One-Eye, although she was more popularly known as Rip. She lost her eye trying to save the prince. Of course, after everything that has happened, Uthar felt guilty and said he would stay by her side. But then she sent him away, saying that his kingdom needed him more. So he returned to the Kingdom of Thais and ruled that place, never mentioning his adventures with the pirates or that of his relationship with the captain, except perhaps for that incident with the travelers out to stop the Snow Queen, where he saw Ava once again and I guess for the last time.” The man stopped. He took another swig from the bottle and sighed. Mel was actually befuddled. True, the story was uncommon but nothing really striking. What would it matter if a King of Thais went out for some adventuring? “But you know what, missy?” the man broke into her thoughts. “He loved her.” “What?” “He loved her. Uthar loved her. Even before the eye incident. And she loved him too. But duty, goddamn duty got in the way. They were two dutiful people. He was needed in Thais; he had to go back.” “Why didn’t she go with him?” Mel asked. “Their lives were too different. She was a pirate, remember? She was wanted all over the world. The people of Thais, those stuck-up snobs, would never consent to a Pirate Queen. Besides, imagine this, all your life you’ve been a pirate and then giving it up, giving your men up, to be a queen?” Mel found herself nodding in agreement. Yes, it would have been very selfish of the captain to leave her crew to become queen. Ah, duty. How did a traveler once put it? Dharma. Yes, that was it, dharma. The path that has been foreordained for you. “And you know what makes this story even sadder? Nobody knew. Not a person in Thais realized how much their King gave up for them. He gave up freedom, he gave up love and they didn’t know. He had accepted his position, regardless of what he really felt.” Mel downed her shot of tequila. Even with her unscrupulous ways, she understood duty and for that, despite her hatred for nobles and their hypocrisy, she respected the King of Thais, Uthar Pendragon, just a little. “Wait a minute, if no one knew of this story, why do you know it?” The man smiled a little. “Because they were my great-great-great-grandparents. Uthar didn’t know he had left a child with Ava and in the space of time before she met her eventual husband, the warlock Gavin, she gave birth to a son. Gavin didn’t know that Ava’s protégé was her son with Uthar. Family secrets passed on, dirty secrets. But then again, it’s better this way, to know whom you descended from.” ‡ Comparing that sense of duty which made a King turn back from those which he had really loved and the lack of that sense of duty which made a Prince want to turn back from the people who needed him, it just made Mel think of Edward less. Both wanted the same thing, Uthar and Edward. They both wanted freedom. But Uthar recognized his duty and uncomplainingly went back to it, while Edward refused to recognize his duty and complained about going back to it. But, Mel reasoned to herself, Edward is still young. This is just a phase. But despite knowing that, Mel couldn’t help but liking Edward a little less than before. And this triggered, in part, Mel’s wandering attention. Being less engrossed with Edward (and the petty jealousies she felt when he was with Stella or Lydia), Mel began to be more observant with the rest of the people in their party. She didn’t think much of Lydia; she was practically the incarnate of all the things that Mel hated—a snobbish, self-righteous, stuck-up noble. Nor did Mel think of Stella, pure and frail, always needing a man like Edward by her side. She tried thinking of Galahad but found his black-and-white thinking repulsive. Which led her to Te’ijal. As with any growing attraction, Mel decided to go back to where it all started. It started on the same night that she had played the fool for the evil vampire mage, the night when she stole the Orb of Darkness. ‡ to be continued
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