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  Cool character! I think it’s a great touch giving him a brother, everybody needs family! There are a few things I wanted to point out though, just in case you weren’t aware.


  1)  Crysis are now called Craistals(I think the name changed on pg. 3-4?)

  2)  [in regards to having Craistals whenever you want] You really only need one Craistal of each element, maybe two if you want a backup for when they run out of charge, but overall one normally suits a characters purpose. They[Craistals] don’t typically break, and a lot of times the Craistals lose their energy once you(your character) lose your energy, so having another one would be useless anyway.  


  3)  Alchemist Craistals aren’t as powerful as Natural Craistals, and they take longer to recharge. Also, they can’t go into Crysis Mode. I don’t know if this matters to you or not, just thought I’d mention it.  


  Now, the unpleasant part. I’m sorry for having to bring this up, but I’m afraid I just can’t let it slide. Sorry.

 About the battle suit:


  I think your ice Craistal armor is a really creative idea, and I like the summoning process( do I sense a Flash fan?), but the overall power that the armor(and wearer) would possess is a little too OP(especially since he already has ice Craistals). I still think the concept is cool though, and I’d like to help you balance its power, you game?


Idea 1)

Downside- No armor  [This idea is kinda the suckier of the two, so I put it first.]

   The necklace your character wears contains a Natural (N) Craistal that serves as a sort of portable charger for the Alchemist (A) Craistals(C). The ACs would pull their power from the NC, allowing your character to retain his energy, and also allowing the ACs to last longer(and maybe be a tad more powerful than they would be on their own?)

Idea 2)

Downside- No ice Craistals (I know, I know, bear with me), no Crysis Mode

   The armor your character possesses contains ice AC shards, this would allow your character a little extra protection, as well as give him the ice power. Plus the ice power would last longer(not a by whole lot), because not all of the shards would be working at the same time. (I actually plan on doing something similar to this with one of my characters, we could make it a ‘thing’)   Note: the Craistals have to be (A) because (N) ones are almost impossible to break.


That’s all I got for the armor, let me know if you come up with anything; just remember: balance.


   Now, about the metal arm/gauntlet, again, I apologize, but it’s simply too OP. {helpful hint: When your building your character, try not to make them invincible. Writing about a character that can never lose isn’t fun, mostly because there’s no conflict. When your writing you want your character to face challenges that seem impossible, you want them to struggle a bit, because in the end it will make them stronger and they’ll grow into a better human-being. Sometimes our characters have to lose, but that’s okay, it’s what makes them, well, them. If your characters already at the top, there’s nowhere for them to go. Anyway, writing spiel over, idea time!}

Idea 1)

Downside- No shadow Craistal (I loved the idea of a broken Craistal; you wouldn’t happen to be a Star Wars fan, now, would you?)

    The metal arm/gauntlet( I’m gonna call it a gauntlet ‘cause I think it sounds cooler) could contain one of the five element Craistals that you mentioned.(again I know, just stick with me) Then, as the story progresses, he (very) slowly acquires the other four. {This could be a great starter/side plot for your story. Maybe the gauntlet was his...grandpa’s, but his grandpa only ever found one Craistal to fill it with. Grandpa dies and your character receives the gauntlet, determined to finish what his grandfather started(there’s that Star Wars popping up again)}   *This makes sense[the one Craistal at a time] in more than one way if you think about it, but I’ll wait to explain myself until a little later

Idea 2)  {this one is my favorite}

Downside- No gauntlet (or accompanying Craistals) [Are you a Marvel fan too? This seems so Iron Man/ Thanos. Pretty sweet. Anyway, gotta stay focused]

     So with this one he has the broken shadow Craistal, and it allows him to transport over small distances (like, no more than 20 ft), but since it’s broken it’s not very good at casting shadows/doing stuff a normal shadow Craistal would do (which isn’t a problem, ‘cause it can let you transport. No other shadow Craistal can do that). On the bright side (Ha,ha) when you enter into Crysis Mode the Craistal overloads and exploding black holes fly everywhere. This process is dangerous though, even to the user, and since it’s broken the user runs the risk of exploding the Craistal itself. (So Crysis Mode would only be able to be used max 3 times) Also, the drainage of the Craistal is really unreliable, sometimes it will let you transport five times within five minutes and still have a small charge left, sometimes you transport twice within a day and it’s dead. (This last part is to help add a little drama, will your character be able to get out of this situation?:O )

Idea 3) {This one kinda sucks, but I wanted to give you the option anyway}

Downside- No Craistal armor, No shadow Craistal, No Crisis Mode

   This one lets you have the gauntlet, along with all five Craistals, but I want to make sure you understand one very important concept about Craistals first.


  *FACT: Each Craistal drains it’s users energy to some level or degree, depending on the element, how long it’s being used, and how it’s being used.

For example, if you were to have a fire Craistal and you wanted to throw a quick stream of flames at your enemy, your energy would remain almost exactly the same. You could throw short bursts of flames for hours.


If you had a fire Craistal and decide to go into Crysis Mode, your energy would be gone within five minutes(if properly trained in Crysis Mode, maybe slightly longer, but they would have to be really good). You and the Craistal are now useless.

   So, back to your gauntlet, if your character was using all of those five Craistals at once, he wouldn’t be able to do much before he’d simply pass out (because all five are pulling at him at the same time). Now, assuming he’s a strong kid and has learned how to build up Craistal stamina, he could easily use the gauntlet as a supplementary weapon, turning it on/off as need be. He could NOT go into Crysis Mode though, his head would probably explode. Also, he would only be able to do minor attacks (streams[of element], balls[], covering weapon in element for a quick moment, etc.), because it would be too overwhelming for him to do anymore.

  Again, if you have your own ideas/ways to balance your characters powers, that’s great! These were just some suggestions. :)


  Once again, I apologize for the inconvenience, and hope that none of this ruins your experience in this RP.  (sorry for the long post)




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Sorry for the delay in part 2. Been really busy. I'll try and post after next week!

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Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace.







These wings are made to fly.

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Sorry for the lack of writings! I've been extreeeeemmmmely busy. And, I wanted to do a little more research on Dragons for Yutu. And possibly magic (For future plans that involve Eli, Ubel and maybe Charisse).


I'll try to get something done soon. But it may be late May before I post their POV's.

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Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace.







These wings are made to fly.

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 The boat surged along with the wave, pouring down the side and landing in a splash at the bottom, only to be sucked up the next wave and repeat the process.


 And again.

 And again.

 Up. Down. splash! Surge. Side to side, rock, up, down, surge, Splash. And again.

 I was below deck trying to eat my dinner of dried beef… or maybe it was pork. As implied, it wasn’t going very well.

 I tore off a bit of tough meat and swallowed, my mug of half stale water following immediately behind to help wash it down.

 Splash, surge.

 The water went down my shirt.

 I slammed the mug on the table and shoved the disgusting meal away from me. I had had it. This luxury cruise was no longer fun.

 I stared and picked at the grooves and chips in the table, bored, frustrated… lonely.

 I hadn’t talked to much of anybody since we had boarded the ship around a week ago. I didn’t want to. I didn’t know how to, so I avoided everybody, and they avoided me.

 I set my elbows on the table and let my head slump into my hands… How did it get like this? I mean, I know how, but how? And why? Why was I even here? This entire endeavor was stupid. What in Imaria had possessed me to think that Macai would forgive me, and not only that, but give me a second- or a sixth- chance?

 I slumped further into my hands.


 Hope had made me believe in the impossible, and pushed me on in the hope that maybe, just maybe, it wasn’t impossible after all. But it was.

 I had known this was a bad idea from the start. In all honesty I probably wouldn’t even be here if Chase hadn’t knocked me out of that tree. I would’ve turned back, I should've turned back. It would’ve been better for everyone...well, for Macai at least.

 I slammed my fist into the table. Why did that idiot have to knock me out of that blasted tree!

 The few sailors occupying the general vicinity glanced up at my outburst.

 I glared at them, “What?” I demanded.

 Most of them turned away.

 I exhaled, turning back to the chipped table and my pathetic dinner.

 Why was I here?

 I stared at my half empty plate and mug. They had offered me food, real food, but I had declined. I said I'd be fine. I lied. It seems all I ever do is lie.

 But I've been doing better! A voice in my head called out.

 I inwardly scoffed at myself. Better, as if. Sure I wasn't lying as much, but that was only due to the fact that I simply wasn't telling people anything. Instead of lying about it I just didn't mention it, which, I was finding, was just as bad.

 I shifted in my chair and allowed my gaze to wander across the table before bringing them back to my plate.

 “You alright, mate?”

 I glanced up at the middle aged sailor standing over me. I put on a smile. “Of course! Why do you ask?”

 The sailor shrugged, “Yah seemed troubled, throwing your food across the table like that.” he chuckled.

 I chuckled along with him. “Oh, that, I suppose I did cause quite a ruckus. I’m just a bit frustrated is all, nothing to worry yourself with.” I answered, imitating his speech. I was hoping he would take the nonverbal hint to go away.

 “Aye, been there.” he pulled a chair around, laying his coat on it, and sitting on it backwards. He let out a small groan, as he made himself comfortable. “It’s a lass, ain’t it?” he asked.

 My eyes flickered to him in surprise.

 He nearly exploded with his deep bellied laugh. “Don’t look so surprised, boy! I’ve had my share of run-ins with women!”

 I shook my head to recalibrate my thoughts. “Yes, but… how did you know?”

 He began nodding his head gravely, as if he knew the deepest secrets of the world, then pointed his finger at me. “There’s a look, see, you can’t miss it.”

 I raised my eyebrow, “A look?” I asked.

 “Aye, always a look.”

 “And I had it?”

 “Aye, could’ve spotted it a mile away.”

 “Hmmph.” I let my gaze fall to the table.

 “Aye, so who’s the lass?” he asked, sipping from a mug that I swear was nowhere in sight a minute ago. Shaking his head, he said: “Silly question, only two ladies aboard, so I ‘spose there's only two options. Is it the blue haired gal with the stick that you were arguin’ with when yah boarded?”

 My gaze cut to him, “How do you know about that?”

 He let out another eruption of laughter. “It’s a ship, mate, not a continent! Here, everybody knows ev'rything. So it is her then?”

 I shook my head, annoyed. “No, it’s not her.”

 “Ah, the red-headed lass then? She seems like a spunky one, aye?”

 I sighed, nodding my head. “Aye, she's spunky alright. Stubborn as well.”

 “All redheads are stubborn, they can't help it.”

 “She's part dragon too,”

 “Well if that ain't the worst combo of them all! No wonder you're frustrated, she must be near impossible.”

 “She is when she's determined to be.” I answered, shifting in my seat to a more comfortable position.

 “Aye, gals are already trouble, but add in red hair and a touch of dragon and there's no livin’ with ‘em. I imagine your lass is a blasted nightmare!”

 I glanced at him severely, “She’s not that bad,”

 “Aye, scared she’s listenin’? Don’t worry, I won’t tell, it’s an old sailors code: what happens in the tavern, stays in the tavern.”

“This isn't a tavern.” I pointed out.

“Ack, same thing. Point is you won’t catch me spillin’ the beans! Now, tell me. The gals a pure terror ain’t she?”

 I stared at him, semi perplexed.

 “Bet she never lets you get a word in edgewise, it’s her way, or no way! Starts spittin’ fire when she’s angry too, I’d imagine.” he shivered.

 I began shaking my head, “It’s not like that, well, sort of, but she doesn’t spit fire-”

 “Ice then?”

 “No, she’s not an actual dragon,” I was becoming flustered, and I wasn’t totally sure why. “She just has a bit of dragon blood in her veins, it makes her a bit more tolerate to poisons and- and stuff… why am I telling you this?”

 “Dragon blood is dragon blood, strongest stuff out there. How long have yah known her, this… Macai lass?”

 I had presumed he was going to start offending Macai again, and had opened my mouth to start up in her defence; the question threw me off. I hesitated, stumbling a bit. “Ahh, na- nine years?”

 The sailor laughed, “Yah sure about that?”

 I nodded my head. “Yes, nine years.”

 “And she’s been trouble all this time?” he asked, taking a swig from his mug.

  I started shaking my head again, “No, she’s not trouble, as you put it, she’s just… her-”

“Trouble.” he interrupted.

 “No,” I was becoming increasingly frustrated. What was with this guy?

 “No need to put a brave face on it,” he grunted, stretching himself out more comfortably. “She’s clearly got you locked in.”

 “No. I am not ‘locked in’, I’m here of my own free will. She’s not that bad!”

 My mouth moved before I could think, my brain was miles behind at this point.

 “As I said, no need to put a brave face on it. Free will, eh? You must be a brave man to stick by her this long, I know I couldn’t do it! Must have red hair in the family line.”

 “What do you have against red hair!?” I yelled, so thoroughly confused that I was just about enraged. What on Imaria is this guy blabbing about!

 The man continued on as if I hadn’t said anything. “Take some advice, there’s no use hangin’ around a lass that don’t want yah. Even less so if the girl’s a blasted tyrant! It’s best to just leave ‘em, there are always more fish in the sea.”

 “She’s not a tyrant!”

 “Aye, so you’ve said,”

 “And I’m not just going to leave-”

 “Now there’s the part I don’t get. I haven’t seen you two exchange one word since yah boarded, haven’t hardly looked at each other neither. You’re clearly unhappy. You’ve been moping about for the past week, eating-” he picked up a piece of dried meat, “whatever this garbage is, and avoiding just about ev’rybody. She clearly isn’t making you happy, so why hang around? Just leave her!”

 “I can’t do that,” I exclaimed, clenching my fist in irritation.

 “And why not?”


 “Because Why?

 “Because I don’t have a choice!” I yelled, standing up and pounding my fist on the table.

 All eyes turned to me.

 I sat back down.

 “So yah are locked in,”

 I set my jaw, “It’s not like that. She’s not the reason I’m stuck here.”

 “Sounds to me like she is.”

 I growled in frustration, “Well she is, but not like that. You wouldn’t understand.”

 The man stared at me expectantly.

 I gave a short sigh, “Look, I’ve made some...questionable decisions in the past regarding Macai and I came to make it up to her. Okay?"

 We sat in silence.

 Surge, splash.

 The sailor eyed me, “So, yah do love her.”

 I sat up straight, “What?

 He raised his eyebrow.

 “Where would you get an idea like that? I mean, who said anything about- about loving anything?” I continued, “I-I don’t… I can’t… I- I-”

 “Do love her,” the man interjected, “And by what I can gather, she loves you as well.”

 My heart pounded in my chest as I stared at him in confusion. How had he seen right through the situation? How had he seen through me? How had he found the one part of this whole mess that terrorized me? The part I was afraid to acknowledge because what if it was true? And what if it wasn’t?

 A minute passed, and I still couldn’t bring myself to say anything.

 He could obviously tell what was going through my mind. “It’s not sorcery, mate, just simple observation. You young ones wear your feelings right on your faces, can’t help it, I'd imagine.”

 I still couldn’t speak; what was I supposed to say? He had seen right though my training, so what was I supposed to do?

 He leaned over the table, “Why are you here?”

 I was slightly taken aback by the gentle way he repeated the question I had asked myself earlier. It took me a second, but I finally managed to answer. “Be- because I refuse to leave her.”

 “Why?” he persisted.

 “Because I tried that once and I hated every minute of it.” I answered somewhat bitterly.

 “And why do you think that was?”

 I could feel my heart rate accelerate. “Be-because she’s… because she’s… Oh, I don’t know!” I exclaimed, thoroughly frustrated. I felt disoriented knowing that nothing I had been taught prepared me for any of this. In fact, it disscouraged it. Somehow even thinking about 'it' felt disloyal, though, disloyal to what?

 “Sure yah do! You’re just too afraid to admit it. Yah love the red-headed beauty! Yah love her stubbornness. Yah love her dragon side, to whatever extent that may be. Course, that doesn’t mean you’ll always like it, but the point still stands, yah love it all, because you love her. And yet, I think it’s still more than that.” he paused, eyeing me all the more intently. “Look at me, boy.”

 I hesitated slightly, suddenly very aware of what he might see, but I brought up my gaze and held it, like any good soldier would.

 He tilted his head slightly, “Why haven’t yah told her?” he asked.

 My gaze didn't waver. “Told her what?”

 I suddenly felt a shooting pain course up my right arm.

 I groaned inwardly. Not this again.

 I did my best to ignore it, to pretend I was fine. My expression didn’t change, and I refused to break eye contact. The pain left almost as soon as it had come- as I knew it would- and left my arm completely numb and useless. Still under scrutiny, I took a very careful- and unfortunately shaky- deep breath, knowing that it would be over soon...or so I thought. My arm hadn't fully recovered when my right leg suddenly burst into flaming pain, and this time I couldn’t keep my expression neutral. My face contorted in pain as the flames coursed up and down my leg. This attack lasted longer than the first and at one point I found myself doubled over in pain, as it tried to spread. When the pain finally ceased my right leg was left heavy, and feelingless.

 I allowed myself a minute to catch my breath before coming back up to face the man across from me.

 He eyed me calmly, “That.” he stated.

 I glared at him, still somewhat out of breath. “You knew. How?”

 He shrugged, “Me and the men have been watchin’ yah, and we noticed somthin’ very interestin’. Yah see, every once in a while you would just freeze up, and the other day lil’ Jonny caught you practically on the floor with pain, so we naturally assumed somthin’ was up.”

 I could still feel my heart beating a million times a minute, but refused to acknowledge the fact in any way, instead I continued to glare at this man who knew way too much about me. “Yes, but… you knew I was about to have one of those attacks.” I took a deep breath, trying to calm myself. “How?”

“Aye, the boys and I also noticed a pattern to your ‘attacks’, as you call them.”

 “And…” I hesitated, “Do you know why they’re happening?”

 He grunted as he adjusted himself slightly, “Nope.”

 I relaxed back into my chair.

 “But I’ve seen enough dying men in my day to know the look of  ‘em.”

 My eyes darted up to him. I hesitated before gathering the strength to sit up once more. “You’re not allowed to tell anybody.” I threatened, "Or I swear I'll kill you."

 He held up his hands in mock surrender, “Aye, as I said before, no one will hear a peep out of me.”

 I slowly relaxed back into my chair, but continued to stay on alert. “So what do you want?”

 The sailor looked confused, “Want?

 “Yes want, blast it!” I yelled, standing up as forcefully as I could. “You hold leverage over me, now what do you want!”

 He smiled, but, to my surprise, the smile was not full of malice or scorn, it was just… a smile. A genuine smile. Why was he smiling?

 He gestured for me to sit back down, “I don’t want anythin'.” he stated.

 I eyed him, slowly- gratefully-  sinking back into my seat. I could tell by the look in his eyes he was telling the truth, but I didn’t understand it. “Why?” I demanded.

 He nodded, “Aye, that is the question, a good one too. ‘Why?’ What is the purpose? Why would I, a man seein’ a fellow man in need, try to help him for no profit at all? What would draw a person to such an action?”

 I continued to eye him as he went on his little rant, waiting for him to finally get to his point.

 “-Well I can tell yah part of it’s simply havin’ a conscience, but the other parts a wee bit personal. Yah see,” he leaned further over the table, “I was in your spot not too long ago, a dying man I was, with not much hope of recovery. I had taken a blow to the chest, a mighty big one from one of ‘em ice dragons. Anyway, long story short, when I finally realized I was dyin’, there was only one thing in the world that I wanted,”

 “A better doctor?” I guessed sarcastically, rolling my eyes.

 He chuckled, “No. My family.”

 I droped my eyes.

 “-And I think that’s what you want too,”   

 “I don’t have a family.” I retorted.

 “Now we both know that's not true.”

 Splash, surge.

 I glanced up at him; up at the more or less ragged man in front of me. I looked at his tangled, semi-greasy, black hair, his frayed clothes, his hairy arms, stubble, and weather worn face. I noticed his callous hands, the strand around his neck, and the tatoo on his right arm. His sun tanned skin and the small scar that cut diagonally just over the left side of his lip. I looked, and I wondered, just wondered, at this man sitting across from me.

 “Not much to look at, am I?” he smirked.

 I ignored his statement, changing the topic. “You were in the war, weren’t you?”

 He nodded, unfazed by my abruptness. “Aye. Bloody thing, that was.”

 I stared at the tattoo on his arm, Emma, it read. I switched my gaze to the strand around his neck. “Is your wife still alive?”

 He smiled brightly, pulling out the part of the strand that had been hidden by his shirt and revealing a gold ring. “Aye. Yes, thankfully yes. Her and two of my sons.”

 I met his gaze, “What about the the third?” I asked, assuming there were only three of them.

 The man sighed, glancing down at his mug before answering. “He a- he was killed in the war.”

 I dropped my gaze slightly, only to have it land on his ring. I wondered why he didn't wear it where everybody could see it, he clearly wasn't ashamed of it, so why hide it? I supposed he wasn't so much hiding it as he was protecting it. Protecting the physical representation of a promise. 'Protecting' the promise. My hand subconsciously snaked up to finger the scars plastered on my neck. Around, and around. Those were my rings, what was I protecting? What promise was I keeping? I had always worn them so proudly, but today they suddenly felt too exposed. For the first time in my life, I tried to hide them. For the first time I almost felt ashamed of them.


 “Look up, boy.” the sailor ordered, “No need to hang yah head.”

 Okay, first of all I wasn’t ‘hanging’ my head, and second: “No, you don’t understand. See-”

 He cut me off, “I know.”

 I glanced at him, perplexed. “But then you must realize that-”

 “It’s possible.”

 “But then why would you-”

 “Because I don’t blame you for the war, boy,” he exclaimed, “or my son's death. It’s not your fault. You were just one of tens of thousands of kids kidnapped and forced to fight for a deranged maniac, you didn’t much have a say in the matter. No, I don’t blame you, boy, I blame him.”

 “Yeah, but I- I’m- I was-” I attempted to explain, but the words would hardly come out. Why was this guy so nice?

 He held up his hand, “I know.”

 I hesitated. He didn't know. He didn’t know that I had been third in command. He didn’t know that I had helped to kidnap those tens of thousands of kids. He didn’t know that I had been given the option to turn back, but chose not to. He didn't know, and I was too cowardly to tell him.

 He stood up, “I ought to get back to work, but you just come and find me if yah need to talk again.” he paused as he threw on his coat, “I hope yah didn’t take me too seriously earlier concerning your lass, I was just gauging where yah stood. Didn’t mean a thing.”

 I nodded, “Yeah, I figured that out.”

 He nodded back, “Aye, you seem to be a smart boy.”

 I held back a grimince.

 He placed the chair back into its proper position and leaned against it with his hands. “Well, I better get goin’ now, and you should too.”

 I raised my eyebrow, “And where am I going?” I asked.

 “To the North Pole, of course!” he exclaimed, soaking me with sarcasm. “Now where do yah think?”

 I glanced down. He still didn’t understand, Macai didn’t want to see me.

 “Mate,” he addressed,

 I glanced back up at him.

 He looked me straight in the eye, “Quit worrin’. Get up off your bum. And go get your family back.” With that, the sailor nodded his farewell, and headed out into the thick of it.

 I sat for a while longer. Staring. Thinking. Picking. Reminiscing. Finally I made up my mind, and stood up. And walked out.




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Dear Macai,


  I’m writing this note because I didn’t think you’d want to talk to me… in fact I KNOW you don’t want to talk to me, and even if you let me talk I’m sure you wouldn’t listen, so I’m writing this letter.



  I wanted to start out by telling you I’m sorry for embarrassing you with my behavior towards the king the other week, I didn’t  mean to rile you up. I apologize. I DO NOT, however, apologize for what I said about him. I don’t believe royalty of any kind is to be trusted. And I still think you are foolish to do so, BUT I don’t want to start another argument, so suppose I will just keep my opinions to myself.     


  I also wanted to apologize for abandoning you that night (nearly) two years ago, but an apology seems useless unless I tell you WHY I “let you go” as you put it. You see, at the time, I was just a kid and I wasn’t sure about anything, and Ubel was watching me like a hawk, and at the time I was practically at the top, and then you came along threw me a curve ball I wasn’t expecting, and   I just realized this is a really long run on sentence. Anyway, the point is, I was given the choice between you and my position… my power… and I chose my power. I chose wrong. I’m sorry. I let my fear- yes, you were right that night, I was afraid. I honestly thought writing it would be easier than actually saying it, but it may have been worse. Now it’s on paper- I let it control my decision. I let it convince me the easy route was the best route and in doing so I hurt you. Again, I’m sorry, and I hope you can forgive me.


  Finally, I wanted to let you know that I WILL be leaving this little group of ‘misfits’ you’ve collected as soon as we reach Riorc. There’s no reason for me to stay if I’m not wanted. I know (as you have expressed it many times) that you would have preferred I have left sooner, or even not have come at all, and I almost think there was some sense in that… almost. When I really think about it I realize that I couldn’t of just left that first day, I had to at least try, but now that I have I almost wish I hadn’t… Almost. But you won’t have to worry about me much longer, I’ll be gone and out of your braid by mid next week… that is, if the weather doesn’t decide to get even WORSE… then you’ll never have to worry about me again.   Just like you want.


 Despite everything, I have to admit that I DID somewhat enjoy having Chase, Willow, and yourself as traveling companions, you know, when everyone was talking to NEARLY everyone else. It was… nice  not to be alone. I guess I get why you hang around those “hero” kids… although I have to imagine they get annoying after awhile, even having only two around gets highly irritating sometimes.


  Anyway, despite my previous objections, I hope you stick close to those Rebels. They seem loyal enough, and their clearly strong. I know- or, I HOPE- they will be able to take care of you and keep your reckless butt safe. Promise me you won’t completely bury my memory. Don’t let me hold you back, but don’t forget. Please don’t forget. I hope- that’s the third time I’ve used that word- you find exactly what you’re looking for, though I know you won’t find it in Riorc, I hope- four- that you DO find it. In fact, I know you will. You’re not a quitter, you don’t give up easily… you’re stubborn like that… but then again, so am I.


 That’s all. I know it was sort of long, but I probably won’t see you before my departure, and I wanted to say- or write- it all before I left.


                                             Goodbye, Carrot Top




                                                                                                         James A. S.









                                    P.S. I’m not afraid anymore: I  Love you.







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POV'll be out in a couple of weeks. Got to get through Finals and what not.

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Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace.







These wings are made to fly.

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2 of 3




 “Mhmm!” she replied with a mischievous look in her eye. “It’s a poem.”

For a moment, I breathed a sigh of relief.  But that relief was very short lived as I recalled what she had just said.

“ I’m…Doing…. What?”

“A poem, silly!” she giggled, “You’re writing a poem to confess your love for me. Then you were going to ask me on a date. Then I would have said yes and we would go see a play. Oh, wait! No! We’d go have a picnic on the beach and then we would go for a walk and then we’d go for a flight and oh! We could also bring Mr. Mittens. He’s never been flying before, but I think he’ll like it. Well, no he won’t. See there was this one time when I was little-”

And with that she started to ramble.

As she went on and on, her voice started to get farther and farther away. I didn’t really realize I was zoning out. Nor did I realize my hands were slowly curling into claws. All I really heard was a voice whispering something. ….Something strange. It was almost in audible but it almost sounded like…. Like….



Hearing that voice brought me back into the present. I started shifting back to normal and, looking around, I saw that Cloe was still rambling on, no longer focused on me. Well, that’s good I think, I quickly gathering up my things and heading to class.


“Good Afternoon, class!” exclaimed Mr. Garus.

“Good Afternoon,” a couple of students mumbled.

The jolly, yet slightly short, man frowned slightly. “You guys don’t sound too excited. Hmm… Must be bad weather coming.

A couple of people chuckled.

“Alright. Today is all about life. So, tell me, what do you know about the dragon’s life cycle?”

For a moment, no one answered. But then a green haired kid raised their hand.

“Yes, Felix?”

“There are five stages?”

“Correct!” Mr. Garus said, writing the numbers 1 – 5 on a chalkboard.  “Can you name them?”

“Umm….. No sir.”

“Not a problem! I’ll list them out for you guys!” Turning back to the board, he proceeded to write and explain the following:

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Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace.







These wings are made to fly.

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Branch: Janus

 I found the letter on my bed.

 I read it.

 I read it a second time.

 I crumpled it.

 I uncrumpled it and read it a third time.

 I stormed out.




 I found Jem in the kitchen, plate in hand, talking with one of the halfling chefs about to serve him reheated leftovers from dinner. His smile turned to a confused frown at my sudden and unexpected entrance.

 “... Macai?”

 I held up his note. “What kind of garbage is this?” I demanded.

 The chef suddenly looked very uncomfortable, and Jem’s face grew even more contorted in confusion, “Wha- What are you tal- What are you doing here?”

 I rolled my eyes in irritation. “I'm trying to find out what this idiotic note is about!” I snapped.

 “Idiotic?” he repeated.

 I exhaled sharply. “Yes, idiotic.” I repeated, grinding my teeth. “I mean what on Imaria- Wha-Why-” I was too flustered to form a complete sentence.

 Jem quickly glanced at the chef, who was ever so slowly retreating from the room. “That's all you thought about it?” he asked, bringing his focus back to me, “That it was idiotic? Did y-”

 I cut him off. “Well that's not all I thought about it,”

 “No?” another glance at the chef, he was almost out.

 “No. I also thought it was, let's see,” I began to use my fingers to list off each word. “Childish, cowardly, melodramatic, heartless-”

 “Did you even read the letter?” Jem interrupted.

 I glanced at him. “I did,” I stated, pausing, “twice actually, and the second was just as bad as the first.”

 The chef was so close, almost there, just reach for the handle…

 I could tell Jem was thoroughly confused, if not a bit offended. “And you thought it was… heartless?”

 I made a circular gesture with my hand. “And thoughtless, and stupid, and poorly written-”

 Jem cut me off with a gesture, “Yeah, I get it. You don’t like letters.”

 “It’s not that I don’t like letters,” I explained, “I was just disgusted with this one.” I glanced over and realized the chef was gone.

 Jem shook his head, “Okay, but why? I was only giving you what you wanted. You-”

 “What I wanted? Since when did I say I wanted any of this?” I demanded, “When did I ever say I wanted an apology? When did I say I wanted you to leave and never come back? Why on Imaria would I care whether you approve of my allies or not? Huh? When did I say I wanted any of this!?” I held up the note, shaking it violently.

 “Oh don’t give me that nonsense!” Jem objected, “You’ve told me half a dozen times you didn’t want me here. For crying out loud! You’re the one who altered our deal so that when I left I would never come back! So don’t give me the ‘I never said that’ filth, and even if you hadn’t said it, you tend to make your opinions crystal clear.” Jem didn’t even take a breath, “And of course you didn’t say you wanted an apology, because you don't want an apology, because you don't want to forgive me! You want to wallow in your self-pity and bitterness. Well guess what Macai? I’m not going to let you do that. So get off your pitty pony and get on with your life!”

 I clenched my fist, “Get on with my life? Get on with my life? How am I supposed to get on with my life when you’re here reminding me of everything I’m trying to forget!” I yelled.

 “Because your not supposed to forget!” he exclaimed, “You can't forget. It’s part of who you are! I don't understand why you're so set on forgetting, do you realize you would not be the same person if you didn’t know what you know, or hadn’t gone through the things you’ve had to go through?”

 “You’re right!” I agreed, “I wouldn’t be the same, I would be better!

 He scoffed, “No, you would be dead.”

 “Well at least I’d of died knowing my parents cared, instead of having to wonder!” I argued, “And- and at least I wouldn’t of had to live through all of that… torture, and- and… everything!” For some reason I seemed to struggle to get the words out coherently.

 Jem let his head fall into his hands in exasperation, “Why are we even talking about this? What’s done is done, Macai. You can’t change it. Why is it so hard for you to accept that and move on!” he threw his arms out in a wild ‘get over it’ gesture… that I very much did not appreciate.

 “Ha!” I placed my hands on my hips, “Easy for you to say! You weren’t the one abandoned.”

 Jem rolled his eyes. “I don’t believe you were abandoned, Macai.”

 I stared at him in disbelief, “What do you mean you don’t ‘belie’- What do you call being disregarded to a mad man and left to the mercy of strangers?” I swallowed hard, advancing toward him two steps, “Criminals, at that? Do you know how it feels to have the people you love most turn their backs on you? Do you know what it’s like to be left by the people who were supposed to protect you? They had a choice, Jem. They could have come back for me!” I was screaming now. I couldn’t help it; they’d abandoned me, and he didn’t seem to understand that. Nobody understood that. Why couldn’t they understand that? “They could have rescued me! They could’ve at least tried!” my voice ripped from my throat in anguish, “They didn’t even try,” I paused to catch my breath, “You don’t kno-” my voice cracked.

 Jem took a deep breath and glanced around. “I actually do know.” before I could protest that he didn't know, he held up his hand to stop me, and used his other hand to dig through one of his pockets. I watched as he pulled out a piece of paper and held it up for me to see, though the print was to small for me to read properly at this distance. He made eye contact, “It’s a contract of sale.”

 I stepped closer to get a better look, reaching out to touch the edge of the document.

“It’s signed by my father,” he continued.

 I glanced down at the signature at the bottom of the page, sure enough it read James T. Steele.

 “It promises protection, money, and of course the most important thing: a lifetime supply of liquor,” he allowed me to take the paper from him so I could examine it further. I began quickly scanning through the document. “In return, my father was to give this person the only thing of value he possessed,”

 I skipped down to the bottom of the document to ruin Jem’s dramatic reveal. The price of which will be one young male (halfling), by the name of James A. Steele…  I glanced up at Jem.

 “-me.” he finished.

 I shook my head and handed back the paper, determined not to be sucked into a sob story. “Jem-”

 “I found it a few months ago, hidden in a backpack of a man who owed Ubel. He didn’t even know it was there. Said the pack belonged to a buddy of his that had died recently, mostly due to his drinking problem. He practically poisoned himself with that despicable drink!” Jem’s face contorted in disgust, “Upon further questioning the man stated that, as far as he knew, his buddy never had a wife or a child. ‘At least he never mentioned or hinted anything of the sort.’ he’d said.” Jem took a step towards me, “I know you think you have it bad, Macai, and maybe you do, but you are so lucky compared to others.”

 “Lucky!” I interjected, “Lucky? Being abandoned is lucky? Being experimented on is lucky? I’m to understand having to live six months of my life on the run from a madman is a lucky thing?”

 “No,” Jem stated, “but being alive is.”

 I scoffed.

 “Macai you honestly don’t know how good you have it. You have friends, you- you have remarkable skills… For crying out loud, Macai! Half of Imara views you as a hero! And on top of it all you have a sister out there; a family! A real one! What do I have?” he waved the contract around before slamming it onto the counter. “Hmm? What do I have?” he used his fingers to list off exactly ‘what he had’. “A dead mother, a dead, drunkard, of a father that sold his own child, a few scars, and a death sentence.” he hesitated before stepping closer and scooping up my hands and looking me in the eye, “I guess what I’m trying to say is… all I really have is you, Macai.”

 I took a half step back, but didn’t pull my hands away… yet.

 “You wanted to know why I’m here. You wanted to know why I wouldn’t leave, well that’s it. You are my family, Macai, and I can’t lose another one. That’s why I asked for what I knew I didn’t deserve: a second chance.”

 I ignored Jem’s dramatic embellishments and instead studied his eyes, already knowing I’d be disappointed. I let the smallest of smiles sneak onto my face, “I almost want to believe you, Jem,”

 His face lit up.

 “But I know you’re lying.” I slipped my hands out of his.

 His smile sank like the mythical ship Titanic.

 “What do you mean-”

 “I mean you’re not telling me the truth!” I exclaimed, starting to pace.

 “What am I lying about?” he demanded.

 I threw my arms up, “I don’t know! That’s what bothers me because I just don't know.”

 I could tell he was just as confused as I was, though I was certain he had at least some idea of what I was talking about.

 He shook his head, “But I haven’t lied about anything,”

 “Well then you’re just not telling me something, because I know when you’re hiding something, Jem. You’ve been hiding it the entire time you’ve been here and it’s been driving me up a wall!”

 His face showed that he knew exactly what I was talking about.

 “Macai I-”

 I cut him off, “Unless it’s the truth I don’t want to hear it.”

 He looked somewhat crestfallen.

 “I want to trust you, Jem, but unlike some people I learn from my mistakes. I know I can’t trust you. That’s been tried and proven. I know you want me to believe you’ve changed, or that you want to change, but I just- I can’t- I just- I know you too well for that.”

 “But you changed!” he exclaimed, “You were given a second chance. You started over! I know I don’t deserve it-”

 “You’re right, for the second time today,” I commented.

 “-But neither did you.”

 I didn’t respond. He was right... Of course he was right, but that didn’t change what he did,  or-or how I felt, or that he was still lying to me about something.

 I shook my head, “I can’t. I’m sorry.” I turned and headed back toward the door.

 “You’re gonna have to let people in sometime, Macai.”

 I crumpled up his note and let it drop to the ground as I continued toward the door.

 “And just because you push me away doesn’t mean I won’t stop… l-loving- you.”

 I stopped dead in my tracks, “No- no, I am not dealing with this. Take it back!”

 There was a pause. “I won’t.”

 I whipped around to face him.

 “I won’t take it back, Macai, because it’s true. I- I love you.”

 “That’s a lie.”


 “That’s a lie!

 “Macai, you're just afraid-”

 “Of what-”

 “That it’s true!”

 I was silent for a moment, “I'm not afraid of anything,”

 He shook his head, “We both know that’s not true. Macai- Look, it’s okay… I’m scared too, alright? Julian said we should hit land as soon as tomorrow and… I honestly don’t know what’s going to happen after that. I don’t have anywhere to go, I don’t know anyone, I just… I’m scared, you know?”

 I rolled my eyes and glanced away.  Of course I knew. I had been faced with the same problem about two years ago, but… Oh, why was everything so complicated? Of course the right thing to do would be to let him stay. Of course I would be doing the right thing if I forgave him. And of course it would be the right thing to help him along the right track… but what about me, huh? What if I don’t want him to stay? And what if I don’t want to forgive him, or help him start over? What if I don’t want to do the 'right' thing?

 It hurt when he left, and now he wants to come back… but what if he… but what if… it could happen all over again, and I- deep breath -I couldn’t… not again. Not a fourth time. It wasn’t worth it.


 One glance at Jem told me he knew almost exactly what was going through my head, because he was having some of the same thoughts.

 “Macai… I know… I mean, I know you’re afraid that you’re going to be abandoned again, and… I know you think it’s just you, that there’s just something wrong with you, but there’s not. And- and there’s nothing wrong with me either, I just had a jerk father. Look, my point is… It’s not your fault. It’s not your fault your parents didn’t come for you. It’s not your fault Ubel was a jerk. And it’s not your fault that I chose to leave you, because it really didn’t have much to do with you.” he stepped closer and I stepped back. He sighed, “Look, Macai, just… stop blaming yourself for things that were out of your control, and stop blaming others, dead or otherwise, for things in your control.”

 I stared blankly at him. I Wanted to glare, I wanted to shout, I wanted to punch him in the face and storm out, but I didn’t… couldn’t, I could only stare.

 “Look, I’ve been thinking, and talking to Jones a lot about, well, just different stuff, and I think he’s right. I have to move on. You have to move on. You have to forgive the people who hurt you, and you have to forgive yourself, even if it technically wasn’t your fault because…. Oh, Jones explains it better, but it makes sense. Maybe you should talk to him.”

 I backed up another step. I wasn’t about to go talk to some guy named Jones, why was Jem? What was Jem even talking about to begin with? Forgive myself? For what? I hadn’t done anything. It wasn’t my fault I was like this, it was theirs. They're the reason I have trust issues. They're the reason my childhood was taken from me. They're the reason; it’s their fault.

 I clenched my fist.

 Forgive them? Forgive them? Ubel? My parents? Ha! What was Jem thinking? And he said I was the looney one.


 I whipped my head around to glare at him. Finally, the furys back. “What.” I demanded.

 He opened his mouth.

 “And don’t start spewing ridiculous rubbish about forgiveness and whatnot! We both know you don’t believe a word that you’ve said.”

 Jem looked concerned, “Macai, what’s gotten into you?”

 “What’s gotten into me? What’s gotten into you! You don’t care about forgiveness, or moving on and such ridiculous nonsense! You liked being one of Ubels top in-house assassins. You liked being a super soldier. You liked training. Am I supposed to assume that you’ve all of a sudden grown some type of conscience? You don’t even know what the word means!”


 “And another thing!” I exclaimed, taking a giant step forward, “I don’t appreciate the emotional games you tried to play on me; trying to ‘make me feel bad’ about your stupid dad situation. Well guess what? I've got a sucky dad too. And a sucky mom. So I could care less!”


 “No! This conversation is over! You’ve had your fun, and now it’s time for you to leave!”

 “But I was here first!”

 “I don’t care, I want you out! I never want to see you again! There!” I had to catch myself from breaking down, “... I said it.”

 Jem sighed, “Macai,”

 “No! I don’t want to hear it, Jem. You are the reason my life is so screwed up! You and my parents!”

 Jem clenched his fist, “Well what do you want me to do about it? Huh? I already apologized!”

 “I don’t want an apology!” I screamed.

 He smacked the countertop. “Then what do you want!”

 “I want a redo!” I felt the tears start to well up, but I held them down. I hated that they sprung up whenever they felt like it. “I want a family! A real one! One that doesn’t turn their back on me, one that doesn’t abandon me!”

 “And I get that! I want one too, but we can’t go back and change it. Macai-”

 "No! Stop! You don’t get to talk anymore. Not when it’s your fault I don’t have one!”

 I saw something switch in his eyes.

 “Macai, now you listen and you listen well. It is not my fault you do not have a family. I came into the picture long after they died, so that doesn’t even make sense and you know it. And it’s not my fault that you decided Ubel needed to pay for killing your parents and having a red flag on your file. And while it was my decision to leave you in the ‘middle of nowhere’, I have already tried to make up for it. And look, I get that all of those events were painful to swallow, but I also know that those events do not give you the excuse to blame all your problems on me. I will not accept blame for what I didn’t do, and I will not be the target of your pity party agresion. You cannot spend your life blaming others for your problems.”

 I opened my mouth to talk.

 “No. I know you think it's 'our fault' that you're stuck like this, and 'why shouldn't you blame the people responsible', but it's not 'our' fault you're still like this. This is your life, Macai. Nobody's controlling you. Nobody's dictating your actions. I'm not. Your parents and Ubel? They're dead, they can't do anything. So who does that leave us with? Oh, right, you. And isn't that just dandy? The fact that you get to decide who you're going to be? The fact that you get to decide what those scars mean, and you get to decide if you want to trust people. You decide your future, Macai. Get out of the past, and GET OVER IT!

 I stared at him, in shock.  

Jem let out a relieved sigh, “Alright. Now I’ll leave you to ignore everything I just said,” he grabbed his plate off the counter and brushed by me to get to the door. I heard him open it and begin to step through. “Oh, and don’t worry,” he called, “You won’t ever have to deal with me again,”

 Click. The door closed.

 I suddenly felt very hollow. I stared at the empty space around me, still trying to process what just happened. What- Wait, did he just yell at me to get over it? Why that two faced gnome!

 I grabbed the nearest thing- a ceramic platter- and hurled it at the wall.

 CRASH. Part of the platter shattered, leaving pieces of ceramic everywhere. The main part landed near Jem’s idiotic letter.

 I walked over and glanced at the pathetic, crumpled up, thing.

 Huh, I hadn’t noticed there was writing on the back.

 I brushed away a few of the shards with my sandal and bent down to pick up the letter, uncrumpling it for the second time today. I smoothed the paper out and read it.

 P.S. I’m not afraid anymore: I love you. Bye.

 I had to gasp to take in a deep breath.

 Soldiers don’t cry, soldiers don’t cry, soldiers don’t cry-

 I repeated it over and over to myself, just like everybody else had done during my training. Soldiers didn’t cry, because soldiers didn’t feel. Feeling was weakness, they said.

 Soldiers don't cry.

 You had to be strong to be in Ubel’s army, they said.

 Soldiers don’t cry-

 Crying showed you were weak, they said, you couldn’t be weak if you wanted to be the best.

 Soldiers don’t cry.

 Only the best could be Ubel’s soldiers, they said.

 Soldiers don’t-

 But I wasn’t his soldier. Not anymore.






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Jem’s PoV,




  It was time to say goodbye; we had finally reached the end of our journey. It was a bittersweet moment for me. On one hand, I was leaving the only thing I knew, and heading straight for the unknown with a noose  around my neck, but on the other hand I was a free man, I could start fresh and maybe even do some good… maybe.

  It’s been two days since my odd encounter with Macai, and I haven’t seen her since… actually, no one has.

  Land was spotted yesterday, but the storm kept us from reaching it, we actually were being pushed backwards at one point, but the crew persevered and morning came with clear(er) skies and semi-favorable wind.  And I’m sure the cheers that rippled through the ship when the sun came out could be heard all the way from Riorc.

  Anyway, we were docking now, and nearly everybody was above deck. Most were scrambling around stowing ropes and doing other ship-y type things. A few others, myself included, were up top just to drink in the sunshine and breath some fresh air.

  I glanced around myself as I strolled across the deck; I had hoped the sun would draw Macai out of wherever it was she was hiding. I wouldn’t have approached her or anything, I was just hoping to at least see her one last time, when she wasn’t so angry, but it didn’t seem as if that was going to happen.  

  “Aye! Jem! I see you’re all packed up,”

  I nodded, holding the pack in my hand up, “Yep, I’m ready to go, er, well, sort of.”

  “Yeah, I know what ya mean,” Jones commented, “It’s hard leaving behind what ya know, but sometimes it’s even harder stayin’.”

  I nodded again.

  “Have ya seen your red-headed lass lately?” he asked.

  I sat my pack down, “No, and I don’t really expect to.” I stated, scanning the crowd, just in case.

  “Well, I can’t say yellin’ at her would’ve been my strategy,”

  I shrugged, “It wasn’t my strategy either; it sort of just happened. I wasn’t expecting to see her, and then she started yelling- she’s always yelling- and I had just had enough.” I rubbed my temple with my palms, “I tried telling her what you’ve sort of been telling me, but it came out all jumbled and I honestly just sounded like an idiot.”

  Jones slapped me on the back and it took all my willpower to resist the reflex action to pound him into the ground. “I’ll bet ya did the best you could,”

  “Jones!” we both peered in the direction of the shouting voice, “ I don’t pay you to yap with the guests, get back to work!”

  “Aye!” Jones called. Glancing back at me, he held out his hand, “Farewell young Steele,”

  I took his hand and grinned, “Goodbye, Jones.” I said, giving his hand a firm shake. He nodded his final farewell and went back to his work.

  I sighed and took another look around… just in case. There was Willow and Chase, side by side, of course,  Jones was now over by the foremost mast, and Captain Julian was up top per usual… but no, no red-headed spitball to be seen. I sighed again and stopped craning my neck; there was no use, I ought to just accept it.

  “Looking for someone?”

  I whipped around, and, in a reflex action, brought my hand up to strike whoever was behind me… but Macai blocked it easily. I stood, gaping at her for a millisecond too long, “Ma- Macai,” I shook my head in an attempt to clear it, “Uh, sorry about that, reflex action and everything…” I tensed up, preparing to be accused of ruining her life.

  “Yeah, I know,” she stated airily, brushing my comment aside. She looked as if she were going to say more, but then closed her mouth instead.

  We stood in silence for a minute. I wondered if I was supposed to be the one to say something and she was just waiting for the right words to fall out of my mouth… maybe she wanted another apology. I shrugged mentally, it couldn’t hurt to try.

  I opened my mouth, but Macai beat me to the punch. “I wanted to apologize,” she blurted.

  I actually recoiled a step back, staring at her dumbly, “What?”

  She looked up at me, “I said, I wanted to apologize,”

  I shook my head a second time, “No, yeah- I mean, I heard that, but… why?” I asked. Wasn’t I the one who yelled at her?

  “Because I’ve been treating you like dirt for the past how many weeks. Because you really have been trying to help, even if you almost always go about it the wrong way. And because, despite everything, there may have been a tiny, little, grain of truth in all that mumbo jumbo you were yelling at me.”

  I stared at her in disbelief. Did she just say I was right?

  Macai must have caught the look on my face, “I didn’t say you were right. I was just saying you were almost right.”

  I gave her a small grin, but of course, knowing Macai, I didn’t take it any further.

  She cleared her throat, “So, ah, will you forgive me?”

  I brought my hand up and stroked my chin while looking her over, mock contemplating whether or not I was going to forgive her.

  Macai placed her hands on her hips, “If I had known you were going to take this so lightly I wouldn’t have bothered.” she glared at me.

  I dropped the play acting, “Oh, uhh. Then yes. Yeah, I forgive you,” I answered, “Does… that mean you forgive me?” I held my breath. I knew it was a risky question, even more so because I really didn't deserve to be forgiven, but I had to know.

  Macai took a deep breath and glanced down, shifting her weight slightly. “I’m working on it,”

  I gave a hesitant nod, “I’ll take it.” Not that I had much of a choice, but at least it was progress. Yeah, progress. Maybe being patient would pay off.

  There was a banging of wood on wood over to the side and both me and Macai glanced up. They had just set the gangplank in place.

  I sighed and reached down to pick my pack back up. “Well, I guess this is goodbye, again.” I stated, suddenly very aware that I hadn’t had an ‘attack’ in a little while and one was bound to happen soon.   They had grown in intensity these last couple of days, and I knew it wouldn’t be long before it just shut down my body completely. It seemed the less physical exertion, the more infrequent the attacks, but even so they continued to spark up at the most inconvenient times… not that any time was really convenient.

  I glanced at Macai. For some reason she looked very conflicted, maybe it was because- no, no… I refuse to guess.

  “Jem! Macai! Where have you guys been? Do you know how long I scoured the ship looking for you two?” Willow’s voice had started off in a friendly chatter, but was slowly morphing into an angry shout.   “Don’t you ever do that ever again, either of you, understand? I haven’t seen either of you for nearly a week, a week, I said, and do you know that I was beginning to think that at least one of you had thrown the other off the ship! And I just- You guys- Urrrgh! What do you two have to say for yourselves?”

  Macai and I glanced at each other, unsure what do. I wasn’t quite sure what the big deal was. Macai sometimes disappeared for weeks, even months, at a time without me worrying whether or not she was okay or not; She was always okay.

  “Well?” Willow prompted.

  “Um, sorry?”

  Willow glared at me, “You better be, don’t ever do that to me again!”

  “If it’s any consolation I wasn’t worried,” Chase chipped in.

  I rolled my eyes. It wasn't.

  “Well, anyway,” Willow began, almost immediately cheering back up, “Now that I know where you are we can start figuring out a plan of action for when we meet the queen. So, first things being first… Macai, you changed your hair!” Willow announced, practically squealing.

  I glanced at Macai in surprise. Wow, it was true; Macai really had changed her hair, if only slightly. It was now hanging in a low ponytail down her back… I never realized how long her hair was.

  Willow was still gushing, “It looks so good! And it’s so long! Look at that gorgeous hair, and to think you kept it all tucked away for how long?” Willow just kept talking, “It’s fun to play with, isn’t it? Oh, it looks so good! Doesn’t it just look gorgeous, Chase?”

  Chase was caught off guard, “Uhh, yeah. It, umm, looks great.”

  When I glanced down I was surprised to find Macai blushing slightly. Had Willow done that? Chase? Why hadn’t I noticed her hair? I’m such an idiot. Then again, on the other hand, it’s just hair, and it really wasn’t all Willow made it out to be. To be honest, Macai looked like she needed a shower… we all looked like we needed a shower. Of course, I had enough tact to know not to mention that.

  “It’s not a big deal,” Macai protested, her left hand sneaking up to her scars. That’s when I noticed she still managed to, at least partly, cover them up. “Can we move on?”

  Willow continued to beam at her, “Sure. Sooo… what’s the plan exactly?” she asked, “Same thing as last time? ‘Cause I wouldn’t mind wearing another one of those fancy ball gowns again, or even the same one. Plus, staying over at a castle is one of the coolest things I’ve ever done, next to attending a royal ball of course- What am I talking about? It IS the coolest thing I’ve ever done... ever will do as well, come to think of it. And everybody there was just sooo nice, well, almost everybody. Do you think the queen will give us a tour of her castle?”

  I turned to Macai, allowing her to be the one to burst Willow’s bubble. As far as I was concerned, I was no longer required to interact with these people; I could leave whenever I wanted.

  Macai sighed, “I don’t think there will be any touring here, Willow. Queen Cashlin isn’t exactly known for her hospitality, at least, that’s what King Elliot said.”

  I raised my eyebrow at her, King Elliot?

  “Oh, well alright then.” Willow looked slightly crestfallen, “But everything else is the same, then? Jem and Chase stay here, and-”

  Macai glanced at me, “You didn’t tell them?”

  Umm, no.

  “Tell us what?” Chase spoke up.

  Macai shook her head, “Well nevermind that. It might not matter now.”

  Now I was confused. “Macai, wh-”

  She held up her hand, “I was actually planning on switching it up,” she addressed Willow, “Queen Cashlin isn’t as, let’s say, gracious as King Elliot, and we can’t afford a misstep.” Macai must have caught the look on Willow’s face, because she quickly added, “It’s not personal, it’s strategy.”

  Willow nodded, seeming to more or less understand, which was more than I could say. She was really going to take Chase? What was she thinking? At least Willow had been exposed to royalty and whatnot, so she knew at least a little about behaving oneself in court. Chase on the other hand probably couldn’t even bow properly, let alone know how and when to address a queen. But of course, that wasn’t my problem.

  “Instead, I was going to have you and Chase stay here on the boat as backup and-”

  Wait, so she was going alone!?

  “Wait, so you’re going with Jem?


  “You’re going with who?” I exclaimed.

  Macai held up her hand again, but before she could explain I regathered myself and decided to speak up. “Macai can’t go with me because I'm leaving. She seems to think she’s going to go alone, which is about the dumbest idea she’s come up with.” I stated.

  Macai opened her mouth, but Willow cut her off. “Oh, she is not going alone. This thing called ‘buddy system’ was invented for a reason.”

  “Macai, you can’t go alone,” that was Chase speaking, “You said yourself that Queen Cashlin isn’t ‘hospitable’.” he used finger quotations to emphasize his point.

  “Chase is right, Macai. You need to take somebody, even if it’s not me or Chase. Take Captain Julian along for all I care!”

  “Or Jones,” I suggested.

  “Who the heck is Jones?” Macai demanded.

  “Maybe we should all go,” Chase proposed.

  “Can’t.” Willow objected, “I’m pretty sure the letter only specifies two. Besides, who would stay and guard the ship?”

  Chase gestured behind him at the crew, “These guys,”

  “Okay, but say we needed backup?” Willow persisted, “We wouldn’t have any backup.”

  Chase’s gesture was wilder this time, “Again, these guys,”

  “Okay, but what if-”



  “So you are taking Julian?” Chase ventured.

  “No! Will you all just let me finish?”

  “Well you stopped talking and-”

  “Zhhrbzr! Be quiet. Let me talk.” Macai stared us down until she felt she had our full attention. “I am not going to address the queen by myself, okay? And I’m not doing it with Julian, or Jones, or anybody like that. I’m going to go with a person I trust, and that knows the ins and outs of royal etiquette and espionage.”

  Willow gave Macai a face, “What?”

  My thoughts exactly.

  “I’m taking Jem.” she announced, “That is, if he agrees.” she turned to me, waiting for my reaction.

  “So I was right the first time?” Willow blurted.

  Macai sighed, “Yes, Willow, you were right.”

  I stared at Macai, more than a little confused. Me? But I thought- What, did her new hairdo mean everything was back to normal again? I wasn’t so sure I wanted it ‘normal’ again. I was so set on leaving, but now- I mean this wasn’t really an option before. She invited me. Hand picked over her friends. Me. Me? Maybe her ponytail was on too tight.

  “Look, you don’t have to,” Macai was saying, “and you can leave as soon as it’s done if you like. I know asking you now makes it sound like I’m the jerkiest jerk that ever lived, and I know I really don’t deserve it,  but if I’m not being biased you really are the best choice.” Oh, so it’s not because she’s given me a second chance? “And I do trust you” She what? “…to a degree.” Oh. “It’s only one more assignment, then we can do what’s best part ways.” What's best, right- “Soo, will you help a ‘friend’ out for ol’ times sake?”

  “Friend?” I inquired.

  She shrugged, “Friend in progress,” she corrected.

  I smiled. Close enough. “Sure,” I agreed, “One last mission.”










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Quick note: A lot of the Dragon lore comes from D&D as well as basic mythology. And I’ve recently been told that some of the D&D stuff may not be up to date (but I really don’t want to go find and rewrite three pages of stuff). So, if there’s something kinda out of place, uh……Sorry? I’ll do what I can to fix it.


Also, starting to work on Charisse’s parts. I finally got an idea as to what I wanted to happen in her and Eli’s adventure. It’s just taking a while due to my large amounts of essays that need to be written.


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Wyrmlings – Newly hatched and somewhat weak (for a Dragon at least). Roughly the size of a large wolf or a full-grown human. They already have a large amount of knowledge imprinted from their parents. Phase lasts from 0-5 years.

Young – Not as weak as a Wyrmlings but not as strong as an Adult. Roughly the size of a horse. They are very territorial and have a much better grasp on their abilities. Phase lasts 6 -100 years.

Adult -  As an adult, they have complete control of their abilities. They are not as territorial as the Young but can be very protective of their environments. They have gained a considerably large amount of knowledge from learning experiences. Phase lasts 101 – 400 years

Elder –We are still learning about this phase. From what we know, Elders are very much like Adults, just wiser. Phase lasts 401 – Unknown number of years.

Ancient – Theoretically, a full dragon can live hundreds to thousands of years. However, not much is documented or known about this phase.


“Uh, sir?” asked a raven haired girl, “What does this have to do with our training?”


“An excellent question! Anyone want to guess why?”


Once again, the room fell into silence. But, after a moment, I slowly raised my hand.


“Yes, Yutu?”


Every head in the class turned to me. And, instantly, I felt a bit self-conscious.


“U-um, it’s important because we are only half dragons. I’m guessing that, since we don’t develop the same way physically, we don’t develop the same way mentally?”


“Precisely!” Mr. Garus said excitedly. “Often times we forget that half dragons don’t develop the same way as full dragons. Especially when it comes to your abilities. For example, you all know what your element is, yes?”


There was a resounding yes.


“And you all know what your elemental power is, yes?”


Again, most of the class answered yes.


“But did you know you had secondary, maybe even tertiary abilities?”


His question was met with silence. Looking around the room, I could see some people had a look of shock and confusion upon their faces. Others had a look of doubt.


“It’s true. A full dragon has anywhere from two or four different abilities that they can control with little to no problems. This is due largely to the fact that much of their knowledge of themselves from their parents. As halflings, we do not have this knowledge passed onto us. Additionally, we have the task of having balance between our human AND our dragon sides to safely and effectively use these abilities. Thus, the need for mental training. Now, before we begin, are there any questions?”


Just about every hand in the room went up.

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  Wow, I'm really excited to learn about all this dragon stuff! I never actually took the time to research any of that, so I'm glad you're giving me some of the basics. (I honestly hate these smiley faces... so creepy) 


   Anyway, I totally understand the homework thing. Even this summer I'm busy, busy, busy, so don't sweat it (I swear this is the most aggressive wink)



  And as always, more coming soon!





  ~ Macai

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Yaaaay!!!! That's awesome!!!


Okie dokie! And yes, the emoticons are somewhat creepy. Maybe aggresive? IDK? Emoticons have always been weird.....

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I figured out why the emojis are so weird! They're waaaaay too big!





So that’s what we did. For the next three days, Eli and I spent every waking hour going through his notebooks and trying to figure out what went with the giant map of Imaria. And I will be honest; most of his writings were a bunch of random nonsense. But, every now and then, there seemed to be a moment of clarity.


Which is where we are today. On the eightieth page of what was probably the thirtieth notebook, there were two simple words:


Blue Candle


And, to me this did not make much sense. But Eli seemed to know what it meant. At least, that’s why I assume he bolted out the door without any kind of coat. Not a great idea in a place where it can get below freezing, even during the summer.


After quickly putting on a jacket, grabbing one for Eli, and grabbing a lantern, I ran outside.


“Eli?! Eli where are you?!”


There wasn’t a response. There was, however, a somewhat faint creaking noise coming from the back. I probably should have gone back inside and grabbed my staff. But something told me I wouldn’t be needing it. So I headed to the back of the house.


To my surprise, the back of the house was almost snow free. And, in the middle of the yard, there were two, open cellar doors.

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Jem’s PoV,




  After my conversation with Macai, I scurried below deck just in time to have one of those painful episodes of mine. I hated those things. Each and every time one of them hits, the only thing I can think is: ‘This is it; I’m going to be stuck like this for the rest of my life.’

  Of course it always passes, but I hate that moment of panic. I was trained to be cool and composed no matter what the circumstances, but every time an attack starts… I just lose it. On a brighter note, the attack was definitely less aggressive than the previous ones, which gave me hope that my body could fight the poison after all. Maybe I wasn’t dying. Maybe.

  I currently found myself gazing out at the sea, enjoying the sunshine and cool breeze. If I didn’t know better, I’d of thought it was going to be a lovely day, but I did know better,  and I could already tell the day was going to be sweltering. I sighed; welcome to the desert.

  Chase approached me from behind and leaned on the rail beside me. I thought about ignoring him, but changed my mind. There were things I needed him to know.

  “So that bit with Macai was interesting.” Chase commented before I could open my mouth. “I have to admit, I’ve never been with two more confusing people… or dramatic. One day you’re mad, the next day she’s mad, then you both almost seem fine, but then it turns out you’re not… but now you are?” he summed up uncertainly, “Am I getting that right?”

  I sighed, “Yeah, I think so- look, I wanted to talk to you about something.”

  Chase turned to me, still keeping one elbow on the railing. “Yeah?”

  “Yeah… you know, just in case things don’t go as planned.” I continued.

  Now I had his full attention, “Do you expect things to go wrong?”

  I glanced at him, “Always.” I turned my attention back to the waves, “But this time especially.”

  “Why’s that?”

  I glanced at him again. He asked too many questions.

  I shook my head, “Look, there’s a possibility I don’t make it through this, and I need someone I trust to, well, watch over some some things for me. Got it?”

  Chase almost looked horrified, “What on Imaria do you think is going to happen!?” he asked, “You’re only asking for a bit of information,”

  I rolled my eyes, “Yes, I know, but-”

  “It’s not like you’re planning to murdering the queen!”

  “No,” I agreed, “But you don’t know what she’s like-”

  “You’re making it sound like you’re heading off to a war!”

  “Chase!” I snapped, “Can you shut up for two minutes? I am trying to pass off valuable information that I need you to keep safe, and you just keep jabbering! Shut up!

  Chase did exactly that.

  I exhaled. Finally. “Now look, I- Well I don’t know how to ask you this, but… Will- Will you look after Macai for me?” Chase’s eyes grew wide, but his mouth remained shut. “Assuming the worst happens, I want to know that she at least has somebody. I mean I know she has the Rebels and Willow and all that, but they’re not sworn to loyalty. I just want to make sure she’ll be alright.”

  Chase’s mouth moved up and down as if he was trying to say something, but no words were actually coming out. He gestured to his mouth, opening it obnoxiously wide.

  I rolled my eyes. “You can speak now, Chase.”

  He let out a huge breath as if he had been holding it, “Finally. Phew.”

  I glared at him. Was this kid serious?

  Noticing I was unamused, Chase seemed to pull himself together. “So, you want me to look out for Macai?” isn’t that what I’d just said? “But… why? I mean, I feel slightly honored, but… why?”

  Too. Many. Questions. “Why?” I repeated, “Because I asked you to.”

  “Yes, but… you really trust me enough to look out for her? I mean, I’m not a soldier-”

  “You were in Ubel’s army, right?”

  Chase nodded, “Well, yes, but only for a couple of months, and I wasn’t even that good. And it’s not like I wanted to be there, ya know? I was kidnapped! I’m- I’m not a soldier, I’m a doctor.”

  I smacked the railing (mostly just to startle Chase) and turned to him, “Well it’s a good thing I’m not looking for a soldier then, isn’t it?”

  Chase was so confused, “Wha- But you said-”

  “I said I wanted someone to look out for her, not be her bodyguard, you nimrod.” Chase looked slightly insulted. “All I want you to do is make sure she doesn’t fall for some jerkface, alright? I want you to make sure she doesn’t lose sight of who she is or fall back on old habits-”

  “Like blaming you?”Chase interrupted, somewhat rudely.

  I glared at him, “Like blaming herself.”

  Chase nodded his head in a dismissive way, “Okay, okay. I think I get what you want. You just want someone who can check up on her once in a while to make sure she’s not screwing herself big time, but that still begs the question… why me?”

  I exhaled and turned back to the ocean, “Because… you seem like a good person, and good people like to help other people.”

  “Okay, and…?”

  I sighed, “And you’re the closest thing I have to a friend.”

  I didn’t look at him, but I could feel the surprise and almost… excitement?... radiating off his body.   “Really? That’s sort of… cool, sort of sad, but I’ll take it either way.”

  I rolled my eyes, “Don’t get too excited,” I warned, “You just happen to be the only person on the boat that I actually know and has the means of checking up on her every so often. It’s just circumstantial.”

  Chase’s smile grew, “I don’t believe it for a second.”

  Ripples of water bouncing against the boat.

  “Have you ever known Macai to not be okay?” Chase asked out of the blue.

  I shook my head.

  “Then why worry?”

  I shrugged, “I just… wanted to make sure,” I answered,  “Even diamonds can break.”

  Chase nodded, “I’ll look after her, at least until you come back,”

  I nodded.

  Slomp. Slomp. Slomp.

  “Oh, and Chase,” I added, “one more thing. Just in case Macai isn’t able to find her sister on her own, I figure at least one other person ought to know who it is.”

  Now, I have to admit, Chase’s mouth drop was the funniest thing that day.






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  Macai’s PoV,




    We started out just before noon. We figured by the time we reached the Riorc castle it’d be a little after noon and the courts would more or less be open… or, at least, awake. Besides, it took nearly that long to persuade the captain to let us go without a full escort, we currently had two guards at both our front and rear. It wasn’t what I wanted, but it also wasn’t what he wanted. It was a compromise we could both live with.

    Jem and I rode in silence- unbeknownst to me the ship was carrying horses- it wasn’t an unfriendly silence, but it wasn’t a comfortable silence either. I really didn’t know how to behave. Part of me still wanted to be mad at him, but the other part was tired of always blaming him and wanted to be friends again. Of course both sides had convincing arguments, and I can’t say either side was winning.

    But I had decided not to focus on Jem; this was about my sister- Chris, Elliot had said- er, king Elliot had said. Jem was right, I needed to keep the distinction. Elliot wasn’t just a person, he was a king, and kings almost always spelled trouble… almost.

    Anyway, back to my sister- my sister- I still couldn’t believe it. I had a sister. Me.

    “Excited?” Jem asked.

    I suddenly realized there was a giant smile on my face; I quickly fixed it. “No, not in particular. Why?”

    He shrugged, “You just looked excited, that’s all.”

    I could tell he was excited, I , on the other hand, was nervous. What if Jem and Elliot were right and this was a dead end? What would I do then? I didn’t have any other leads and this Chris- my sister- could be anywhere. Of course Uterp would’ve been a good place to start, seeing that’s where we lived before… Urg! Why hadn’t I searched there? Actually searched? But then what was I supposed to do? Knock on every door on the continent and ask if a Chris lived there? Elliot wasn’t even sure that was her name, he probably just made it up to make me feel better. Ack!

    “Nervous now that you see it?”

    That brought me out of my thoughts.

    Standing before us was a large castle like structure. I don’t want to call it a castle exactly, because that word didn’t quite seem fitting. It was a huge structure (width wise, at least) and, as oddly as it may sound, was very open. Of course there was the usual fortification wall and accompanying towers and such, but the actual castle was mostly open space. Three stories of billowing peach curtains served as walls for over half of the rooms lining the outside of the castle. The rooms that were enclosed were made out of rough sandstone and sandstone bricks, giving the entire castle a much different feel than other castles. Unlike the outside section, the center section is fully enclosed and looked much more like a castle should. Four, maybe five, stories high, towers, gaping windows, and proud country flags completed the look of any respectable castle. Of course with this being said, I couldn’t help but notice the lack of defensibility. This castle was clearly only for the aesthetic, which is a bold move considering it’s the only castle in Riorc- only official castle, anyway. I guess that just shows how confident they are.

    As we approached, the foreguards slowly allowed us to pass them and present ourselves to the guards stationed at the gate. We paused a few yards away and unsaddled, finishing on foot.  

    “Halt!” was the ever-so-clever greeting. One of the men stepped foreward, “Your names and whence you’ve come.”

    Ooooh, I really wanted to roll my eyes.

    Gatekeepers were always so pretentious. I wasn’t willing to play their game, but apparently Jem was.      “We hail from Uterp, but have been sent from Jachi with letters from King Elliot to Queen Cashlin with a request concerning my companion here.” Jem handed him the letter and gave a small, unnecessary, bob of his head and clearly wanted me to do the same. I, on the other hand, clearly refused.

    As soon as Elliot’s name came up the guards interest in us increased tenfold; they also seemed to get a bit nervous. The guard who spoke before addressed us again, “And your names?” he asked, somewhat tentatively.

    Now I spoke up, “Miranda Ashwood, and Jared Nometal,” I stated.

    The guard bowed and ran inside to inform the queen, the other stood by awkwardly and watched us.

    We waited an uncomfortable moment before Jem nodded at the man, “We’ll wait by our horses,” The guard nodded back, and then I was suddenly being thrust toward our horses. Jem turned to me, “What was that?” he demanded.

    I placed my hand on my hip, “‘that’ was all part of the plan. You know I don’t like to give my real name out.”

    Jem looked as if he wanted to choke me, “But the letter-”

    “Says my name is Miranda Ashwood,” I explained, “it doesn’t specify my ‘companion’.”

    Jem rubbed his forehead, “You could have told me,”

    “Why?” I asked, “There was no reason you needed to know.”

    “There was no reason to know I would be using a fake name?” he demanded, bringing his hand down in a frustrated gesture. “You don’t think it would have been a problem if I had started off by saying, ‘well, Macai and I-’?”

    “Well, you didn’t.”

    “And what if I can’t remember the stupid alias? Or your alias? What if I call you Maria by accident?”

    Really? He had to bring up the Maria incident? “First of all, that happened years ago, so you really need to get over it. Second, that’s not going to happen because you already memorized both of our names, you’re good like that. Besides, I’ve never known you to slip up.”

    Jem exhaled sharply, “You’re missing the point, Macai. The point is, you risked the whole mission just because you wanted to feel like you were ‘the boss’. That’s not how a mission works, not a good one, anyway. That’s how people get hurt.”

    I interrupted him, “Since when do you care about people getting hurt?”

    He ignored me, “Look, we’re either in this together or we’re not. I won’t have this wishy- washy nonsense. I came because I know how much your sister means to you, but if you’re just gonna mess around- You’re gonna have to trust me, Macai, for your sisters sake if not for ours.”

    I glanced at my shoes, “I trust you… sort of.”

    Jem wasn’t giving in, “Do you trust me enough to get the job done?”

    I took a deep breath, summoning my courage, and glancing back up at him. “Yes.”

    He nodded, “Good. Now is there anything I should know going forward?” he asked.

    At that moment the other guard came charging back. “The queen- wishes- to, ah- see- you guys.” he panted.

    I leaned over to Jem, “Later,” I whispered to him. Right now we had an audience with the queen.








    “Your Majesty, presenting Miranda Ashwood and Jared Nometal, as you requested.”

    “As I requested,” I mumbled under my breath. We had finally made it to the throne room after waiting for more than an hour outside of it. Jem had been right when he mentioned she was a pompous degenerate of course the degenerate part was still to be proven.

    We approached the massive wooden throne, excessively overlaid with elegant, golden designs. I glanced around, using my eyes only, and noticed that, unlike the outside of the castle, the inside section was very much like a cave. That’s not to say it wasn’t elegant, red sandstone pillars, built in waterfalls at given intervals, and a golden ceiling depicting a great monster, along with the subtle lighting, gave the place a definite ‘majestic’ feel. It didn’t take one long to notice, however, that there were no windows and, except for the large wooden doors we entered through, very few exits. I also knew that there would be guards watching us from somewhere within the walls, waiting for any sign of hostility. I really wished they had let me keep my daggers, or at least my fan, but alas I was weaponless.

    I resisted the urge to scan the ceiling and instead ‘casually observed’ the figure sitting prettily on the throne. She wore an airy, cerulean, floor length, dress, with a chiffon skirt. The top part was very fitted and nicely showed off her slim figure. Over the dress she wore some type of scarf/cape, thing made of such thin material you could see through it easily… clearly it was just for decoration. She wore thin, open toed sandals on her feet, and golden jewelry on her neck and wrists; she also wore a fair amount of blue and gold makeup. The queen’s skin tone was much lighter than most who lived on Riorc, as was her hair, which was currently blonde, but one could tell by the roots that she was naturally a brunette.

    Jem and I paused a few feet away from the stairs leading up to the throne, bowing out of necessity. Up until this point Queen Cashlin had acted as if she hadn’t noticed our presence, but now that we were standing before her she snuck a glance in our direction. Her dark eyes feel on me first and while her facial expression remained neutral, her eyes flashed in diguest; when they landed on Jem, however, they flashed with recognition. Resuming her act of unawareness, she made us wait another minute or so before she spoke.

    “I was told you had a request from the king of Jachi,” she stated, in somewhat of a careless matter.

    I resisted the urge to clench my fist, and instead answered, “Yes, your Majesty,” I added an unnecessary bow to the end, just to butter her up a bit.

    “And what exactly would that be? Has he sent two filthy servants to come fetch me to his ship and furthermore his castle? Perhaps he has come himself and sent the two of you in as a joke.”

    I opened my mouth to reply, but apparently the queen wasn’t finished. “I hope it has nothing to do with that tedious treaty stuff. I really cannot stand when he talks about politics, not that you will repeat that to him,” she eyed us steadily.

    “Of course not,” I replied.

    “Good. Now get on with it, I don’t have all day.”

    Jem was graceful enough to take over the speaking role. “Your Majesty, as stated in the letter we have come-”

    The queen interrupted him, “I did not read the letter,”

    That threw Jem off guard. “You- um, didn’t read the letter?”

    “No.” Queen Cashlin answered, “I find reading horribly arid, don’t you? All those letters and symbols, possibly nonsense! Reading is almost as bad as politics, but of course, Elliot loves to read- or so I have been told- so I suppose it is tolerable. You will not mention any of this to him, will you? Of course not.      Now, let us get on with it, and please, try not to mention anymore tiresome activities, it would be terribly rude if I fell asleep.”

    Jem, quite taken aback by Cashlin’s manner, stood speechless for a moment. I took the opportunity to attempt to get to the point of our visit. “Your Majesty-”

    The queen didn’t even glance in my direction, “Please do not speak to me. I only wish to hear your companions voice, despite his stench and scattered appearance.”

    I clenched my jaw. Oh, how I wanted to punch her.

    She smiled a sickly sweet smile at Jem, “Jared Nometal,” the queen addressed, “is that your undercover name? I seem to remember you being called Duke Witherbloom when we last met.”

    Duke Witherwhatam? Why that little- ugggrh! I could strangle him right now. A duke! Not to mention the fact that he's meet the queen before! Riding on me for keeping secrets! Once this is over…

    Jem put on a pleasant face, “Nothing gets by you, your Majesty.” he said as he bowed once more, “You have caught me in the act.”

    “My, it has been a while, two years, I believe. I never forget a face. Well, now that I know it is you, you must come have tea with me on the terrace, we have so much catching up to do-”

    “Actually, your Majesty, this trip is strictly business. We have come with a letter of introduction and a second of request for our aid, both signed and sealed by the king of Jachi himself.”

    Queen Cashlin’s face sank into a frown, “It is always work with you men, is it not? Never any fun.” she sighed and rearranged herself on her throne, “Fine. What is it you want?”

    “As described in the note, your Majesty-”

    “Please stop mentioning the note that I did not read. And also, call me Cashlin.”

    Jem bobbed his head in submission, but I could tell he was growing increasingly frustrated.    “Queen Cashlin-”

    “Just Cashlin, darling, and get to the point.”

    Jem hesitated a moment and she smiled encouragingly at him. “Cashlin,” he began, choosing his words carefully, “we have come to request your assistance in the locating of my companions sister, along with any information you may have on her parents or familial relations.”

    The queen's eyes suddenly flashed in my direction, “Is she a Jachian royal?” she demanded, inspecting me head to toe.

    “No, my Queen, she is not.”

    She snapped at him, “I told you to call me Cashlin.”

    Jem made an apologetic gesture.

    “Is she an Uterpian royal?” the queen's irritation was clearly visible.

    “No,” Jem repeated.

    “Is she even nobility?”

    “I'm afraid not-” 

    “Then why in the seven kingdoms would I assist her?” Queen Cashlin demanded.

    I could tell Jem was just itching to correct her- technically there were eight kingdoms and a gazillion sub kingdoms- but I brushed my hand against his and he managed to calm down. This didn't happen without the queen's noticing, however.

    She scowled at me, “I demand to know who this woman is, and what on Imaria she is doing in my throne room!”

    The guards near the throne stepped inward as I took a determined step forward. “I am Miranda Ashwood, daughter of Nicholas and Cassandra Ashwood-”

    “Oh, yes.” the queen cut me off, “I remember those two double agent slime bags, they came twice on business.” she eyed me, “You look just like them.”

    “Slime bags, your Majesty?” Jem asked, stepping up to my position.

    “If I have to tell you one more time I will send you out,” she threatened, “call me Cashlin. And yes, they were slime bags. Every time they came they started spewing nobility nonsense and whatnot, trying to show me how a proper ruler should act and such garbage. I mean honestly, what did they know about royalty and ruling a kingdom? They were peasants who just happened to have the right skills old king whatshisface and his demented assassin Ubel wanted out of their ‘ambassadors’. I was glad to hear of their ‘tragic demise’”

    It was Jem's turn to calm me down. “Even so, Cashlin, we would be much obliged if you would share any information regarding them.”

    The queen's gaze lingered on Jem for a moment, “I will do as you request if you agree to have tea with me.” once again she gave him that sickly sweet smile.

    Jem did not smile back, “I would be delighted.”

    Her smile brightened, “Fantastic. Guards! Please escort Duke Witherbloom to the guest suit, and give his filthy slave a room as well. I want both of them to look presentable the next time I see them. You have an hour!”

    Both Jem and I were suddenly being shoved in opposite directions. Did I mention that I hate rulers?






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   Macai's PoV:




    Thirty minutes later Jem came sneaking through my closet doors. I have to admit, I don’t scare easily, but I felt my feet leave the ground when he suddenly emerged from a supposedly closed off area. Luckily  I didn’t scream; I did hit him though.

    “Ow! What’s the big idea?”

    “You startled me! How on Imaria did you get in there, and how did you escape the guards?” I asked, then remembering I was mad at him added, in a whisper, “And why didn’t you tell me you had already met the Queen?

    Jem held up his hands in mock surrender, “Those are all fair and understandable questions, and I will answer them, but first… you look exactly the same as when I left you thirty minutes ago.” Jem himself was sporting off a loose, white cotton shirt, with a pair of black, wide leg trousers and his hair all spiked over to one side.  

    I wagged my finger at him, “Nu-uh, not only did I bathe, wash my hair, and wash my clothes, but I also haven’t put my hair up yet. So, there.” Unlike Jem, I wasn’t willing to play dress up for a queen who well deserved her name.

    He rolled his eyes, “The difference is minimal. The point is, you’re still in the same outfit. Cashlin wants you to be ‘dressed as a lady should be’.”

    Now I rolled my eyes, “Yeah, whatever that means.”

    “She wants you in a dress.” Jem clarified.

    I gave him the ‘really?’ look, “I know what she meant. I just don’t want to do it, if only to spite her.”      I turned around and plopped myself in the nearest chair. (Despite the room being ‘a peasants suite’ it was actually quite large and housed its own bathroom, walk-in closet, sitting room, and, of course, bedroom.)

    Jem followed my lead and plopped down in a chair parallel to mine, both were tilted inward toward the table in the center. I waited a moment before opening my mouth and turning to Jem. “So, about the whole queen business,” I started.

    Jem reached back and rubbed the back of his neck, “Yeah,” he admitted, “that was bad.”

    “Bad?” I demanded, “That was worse than ‘bad’! You could have at least told me you had meet the witch before! And you were the one giving me the talk about ‘not ruining the mission’” I mocked.

    Jem glanced up toward the gap between the ceiling and the wall that ran all along the room. “Maybe we should save this for another time.”

    I slouched further into my chair, “Fine. How about we discuss how you got in here, because there is no way you could’ve gotten past all those guards.” I stated, referencing the gazillion and one armored soldiers outside my, and I assumed his, quarters.

    Jem shifted in his chair and lowered the tone of his voice, “I didn’t have anyone watching my room.”

    I let my eyes flash in annoyance, “What?” I demanded, also speaking in a lower tone. I might be somewhat furious, but I’m not stupid. “Then why is there an entire battalion outside my room?”

    He shrugged, “Cashlin’s always been the jealous type, she probably thinks you’re a threat.”

    “Oh please,” I stated, reverting back to my normal volume, “she doesn’t think I’m a threat, she’s just mad because I tracked mud on her floor.”

    Jem also dropped the lowered tones, “She’s mad because she knows the king of Jachi doesn’t let ‘slaves’ borrow his ship for such a trivial thing as wanting information about their parents, and he definitely doesn’t send them directly to a queen with letters of introduction and request. She may be a witch, but she’s not stupid.”

    I rolled my eyes, “Well she shouldn’t worry, I’m not a threat to her, at least not in that way.”

    Jem cleared his throat, indicating that I should be more careful with my wording.

    I rolled my eyes a second time, “Yeah, whatever.” Normally I wouldn’t be this brash on a mission, but normally I would have the threat of death breathing down my neck, just waiting for me to slip up. This time, if I failed, I’d only lose time. Besides, waiting an hour to be seen by the queen, when she was obviously in the throne room doing nothing, put me in a bad mood.

    Jem shifted again, “Well, I think you’re a threat.”

    I didn’t respond. What was I supposed to say? I wasn’t even sure what that was supposed to mean.

    We sat in silence, that is, until Jem started chuckling to himself. I glanced at him sideways, slightly annoyed. He smiled at me, “Do you remember that one time you blew our cover because someone said your curls were cute and started playing with them?”

    I let my head fall back and stared at the ceiling, “Ugggh, yes. Whatever made you think of that?”

    Jem ignored me, “And do you remember what you did to him?” he asked, stifling a laugh.

    I bit my tongue. Was now really the best time to push my buttons? “I slammed his head into the vending stand.” I answered, annoyed.

    Jem was struggling to keep from a laughing fit, “And- stifled laugh- do you remember the look- laughing sputter- he had on his face?” more laughter.

    I couldn’t help the smile that crept on to my face. I did remember the look on the vender’s face, it was a classic ‘what just happened?’ look of complete confusion mixed with unbelief that a ten year old could do such a thing. Picturing it in my mind, I broke out in a small fit of laughter myself. “Yeah, yeah, okay, but I least I completed that mission. Remember the time you blew a mission because our escort thought I was older than you, and instead of just letting it go, you threw a temper tantrum and managed to out us?” I giggled.

    Jem’s laughter subsided for a second, “I actually got beat because of that,”

    “Well you deserved it!” I exclaimed, trying to suppress the laughter, “We hadn’t even left the facility!”

    His smile returned, “Okay, yeah. That was pretty bad. What about the time you broke the instructor’s nose?”

    I doubled over laughing; it was too much. I remembered that instructor, he was a pain in the butt… I think he ended up getting tossed into the monster pit or something.

    I managed to sit up straight again, “I remember that,” I laughed, “he accused me of pulling my punches and getting lazy in training, and threatened to report me to Ubel. So I- burst of laughter- told him to prove it, and he was like ‘I will,’ so he grabbed you and Ubel and was like ‘start swinging!’. Ugh! I hated that guy.”

    “But you forgot to mention the best part,” Jem pointed out.

    “Well, yeah, but you already know what happened.” I reasoned.

    “Yes, but our guest doesn't,” Jem replied, nodding up to the ceiling.

    I glanced up, acknowledging the fact, and gestured to Jem. “You tell him.”

    Jem shrugged, “Alright.” he turned slightly so the spy could see him better, “So we're all standing there right? And the instructor gestures to the ground and is like, ‘go on, show ‘em. Show ‘em how you've been cheating,’ and of course Macai's just glaring at him, I'm all tensed up because I know this is gonna hurt, and Ubel is standing there looking like he wants to murder all of us over calling him down for something so stupid. Nobody moves, and the instructors faces just flushes bright red, and then he just bellowed ‘START SWINGING!’. So Macai's natural reaction was to swing her fist as hard as she could… right into his nose. I gotta tell you,” Jem chortled, “I don't think I've ever seen Ubel look so pleased.”

    I stifled a laugh. The event itself wasn't really that funny, but the guys face and his hissy fit afterwards had been hilarious.

    We continued to pass short stories back and forth, remembering and laughing at our foolish, younger selves. It felt good to laugh with Jem. For a few moments we both forgot about all the crazy nonsense in our lives. For a few moments we didn’t hate each other. For those few moments we were almost friends again. But that would be the closest we would ever get.

    It took a minute, but the laughter wore off and the moments passed, and we were left sitting there, the same questions on both of our minds.

    Jem was the first to voice it. “Why can't things go back to normal?” he sighed.

    My smile faded slightly. It was a question we both knew the answer to, but couldn't stop asking, as if if we asked it enough times the answer would change, but it never did. We couldn't go back to ‘normal’ because ‘normal’ didn't exist anymore. We had changed, grown apart, learned to live without one another, and while it was possible for us to relearn how to live with each other, neither of us really knew if we wanted to. Did we really want to start over? Did we really want to fix this sinking ship? Maybe it was better to let go. Maybe we had a better chance if we jumped overboard and swam for shore. Maybe at least one of us would make it.

    I glanced at him, “If you could go back, and change that night, would you?”

    He didn't hesitate, “Yes,” he answered, “Unequivocally yes,”

    I stared blankly at the coffee table in front of me, thinking over the past two years, what happened, what could've happened. I considered the question I posed to Jem, and his answer, and what it meant.

    I was still staring at the table when I answered, “I don’t think I would,”

    Jem turned to me, “Would what?”

    I glanced at him, “Change that night. A month ago I would've, even last week, or the day before yesterday I would've given anything to change that particular night, but I wouldn't do it now.”

    Jem sat up and leaned forward in his seat, lacing his hands together, “But I thought that's what you wanted most: a do over. You can't tell me two days sulking by yourself changed your mind.”

    I resisted the urge to slap him, and instead answered his question, “They didn't,” I responded, somewhat coolly, “You did. You helped me to see that my life, even though it has been ridiculously sucky, isn’t all that bad in the long run.” I caught Jem’s skeptical gaze, and sighed. “Okay, so that really didn’t make any sense, but you get what I mean, right? I mean look at you, you’re not letting me hold you back. This morning you were packed up and ready to go, you were ready to move on- are ready to move on, to make a better life for yourself than the one just handed to you. You were scared, but you were going through with it anyway, and… and I guess I figured if you could do it, I could do it too.”

    I couldn’t read Jem’s expression for the life of me. What was he thinking?

    “So you’re saying I inspired you to move on?” Jem asked hesitantly.

    “I’m saying you inspired me to try.”

    Jem waited another moment to speak, “And how is that working out for you?”

    I felt the corners of my mouth prick up into a smile, “So far so good. I mean, it’s not easy, but… I think it will be worth it.”

    Jem was silent.

    I turned my attention to the cushioned arm of the chair, playing with the fabric by ‘drawing’ lines, or circles, I even drew a smiley face at one point. I glanced back up at Jem, and, before I half realized what  I was doing, I started to speak.

    “I wouldn’t change that night because it would mean giving up too much.” I blurted, catching both of us off guard. We happened to glance at each other, and I took the opportunity to continue. “You said that I was lucky, and at the time I didn’t believe you, but I now think there was a grain of truth to it. My life isn’t so bad right now, I mean just look at where we are!” I gestured around at the room, “We’re in a palace. Heck, for the last year or so, I more or less lived in a palace! I’m traveling the world, and somehow managing to pick up a few friends along the way. I- I have a sister. I have a place to go back to, and friends to go back to.” Although Willow has informed me that what I classify as a friend is not in anyway what a real friend should be like. “So, I guess what I’m trying to say, in a roundabout sort of way, is that… you were right.”

    I was highly expecting some smart aleck remark out of Jem, but he didn’t even respond.


    Jem’s gaze slowly wandered across the room, “Nothing. I’m just… happy for you, that’s all. You, very literally, don’t need me anymore. I mean, I know you kept saying so, but I never actually believed you until just now.”

    I stared at him. I wasn’t quite sure what was going through his head, but I could tell he was at least partly heartbroken, although I wasn’t completely sure over what. Was he afraid our paths would never cross again? Was he scared that I would forget about him as soon as he left? Was he simply somber over the fact that such a huge chapter in our lives was at an end?

    I turned to him, “Don’t forget, you no longer need me either.” I smiled, “I guess we’ve just grown up.”

    Jem glanced at me and gave a reluctant nod.

    I grinned at him, “I won’t ever forget you, James Taylor Steele,”  

    Jem’s eyes nearly popped out of his head when I said his middle name, “You promised!”

    I couldn’t help but giggle, “Oh, come on, there’s nobody here.”

    “What about him?” Jem pointed out, gesturing to the back wall.”

    I rolled my eyes, “He left ten minutes ago,”

    “Actually I’m back.” the voice came from the upper corner in the back left wall, “But don’t worry, I won’t tell… Taylor.”

    I cracked up.

    “Macai! You little… Why does everybody think this is so funny?!?”

    I managed to subdue my laughter long enough to explain, “Because James T. Steele sounds like somebody who’s gonna break your neck, and James Taylor Steele sounds like your nice, downstairs neighbor who lets you borrow his sugar when you run out.”

    Jem glared at me, “That’s awfully specific.”

    I shrugged.

    Glancing at me, he sighed and turned somewhat serious again, “I’ll never forget you either, Macai.”

    I gave him an encouraging smile, “I’m sure our paths will cross again, the world isn’t that big.”

    He nodded, and returned a smile that was supposed to be encouraging as well, “I’m sure we will.”

    “Ahheehm.” the back corner cleared its throat, “I hate to interrupt, but the queen wants you guys back in like seven minutes, and I’m afraid she’s about ready to behead somebody.”

    I stood and glanced up at the talking wall, “Thank you my friendly, talking, wall ghost.”

    “You’re welcome.”

    I glanced back at Jem.

    “You should get changed.” he stated, standing up.

    I almost started arguing with him again on how I was not going to appease the queen, but I stopped myself. This wasn’t for the queen, this was for my sister. So instead I nodded and walked toward the closet full of old, dusty, dresses.

    “Um, ac-actually, I brought you a nicer one, if you want. The queen purposely gave you all the heavy, ratty ones, but you'd probably faint if you wore one of those today, so me and one of the maids smuggled you a nicer one, that is, if you want it.” the corner offered.

    I glanced up and smiled in his general direction, “Why, thank you my friendly, talking, wall ghost, that is very much appreciated.” I walked over to the corner and a dress came crashing down from the ceiling a little to my left. I caught it and headed toward the bathroom.

    “My names Shawn.”

    “Mines Macai.” I stated, taking a leap of faith.

    The voice came back, “So I heard, but I’ll pretend I didn’t. Anyway,  the dress is still old, but it’s not as heavy, plus it’s a nicer color than the rest.” Shawn seemed to be very anxious about me liking the dress.     “Oh! And the top skirt rips off. I made sure to get you one like that… just in case.”

    Jem glanced up at the corner, curious, “Just in case of what?”

    “Just in case you guys need to make a run for it.”

    I couldn’t see them now, but I could still hear their rambling.

    “Is that likely to happen?”

    “Always, but especially today. She’s made herself dizzy trying to figure out why the king of Jachi would allow you two to borrow his ship when she's never been invited onto his ship.”

    “I see.”

    By this time I had thrown on the dress and was debating what I should do with my hair. I stared at myself in the mirror, thinking. The dress was a chiffon type thing, with a red-orange layered skirt and a dark brown, almost gypsy style, top, with straps that tied around the neck. It wasn’t as big as the ball gown I’d had to wear, but it wasn’t just a light skirt either.

    “What’s taking so long? We’re gonna be late!”

    I clenched my fist. I was trying. It wasn’t my fault the queen wanted me in a dress. I hated dresses. I much preferred pants. Oh, what was I thinking? I had to hurry! What to do. What to do. What to do…


    Oh… whatever. I’ll just put it half up half down, that was simple enough, besides, my hair didn’t look half bad with all my red curls hanging down. There. At least it’s out of my face.


    “I’m coming! Hold your ever lovin’ horses! I swear I’ll punch you yet if you…” I let the sentence hang in the air and smiled to myself, things were back to normal… the new normal, at least.  






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POV next week! Had to do some digging on Alchemy.

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Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace.







These wings are made to fly.

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I can’t believe I had forgotten about this place.


Standing in the middle of the cellar, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of nostalgia. There were old books, flasks and a couple of empty craistals. There were jars full of sand and a few wilted plants, which made me sad. Poor fella’s. There was even a drawing of something called Achlysahal on a wall. How peculiar. I wonder -


“Eli? What’s all of this?”


I jumped and turned around.  Charisse was standing a few feet behind me. She looked kind of mad but mostly relieved.


“Uh, I think this is some of my old alchemy stuff.”

Raising an eyebrow, she picked up a dusty wooden spoon from a shelf. “Even this?”


“Oookay. So why’d you come down here?”

“Well, I remembered where my desk is.”

“Your….. desk?”

I nodded and led her to the desk behind me. From what I could see, I was not very big on keeping things clean. There were mountains of paper on one side. A few pieces of chalk and ink on another. And most importantly, there were many pieces of wood.

Engraved on each piece of wood was some sort of circle. And sitting next to the plaques, was an old leather book.

Charisse, who was standing behind me, seemed even more confused. “Uh…What in the world is all of this? ….Were you trying to summon a demon or something?”


I couldn’t help but laugh. “No, no! It’s an Alchemy circle. And, I’m guessing that book has the symbols in it.”


She still looked confused. And this was not an easy subject to explain. So, I picking up a wooden block, the notebook and a piece of chalk, I sat down on the floor.


“Alchemy is… uh…In a sense, it is the science of understanding, deconstructing, and reconstructing matter. ”

I took a block of wood and placed it in front of us. Then, picking up a piece of chalk, I slowly began to draw a circle.

“But, it’s not an all-powerful art. It’s impossible to create something out of nothing.”

Once I had completed the circle, I took out the book and looked at the symbols – no runes. Then I began to draw them in the circle.

“So, if one wishes to obtain something…….”

The circle glowed a dull blue for a moment. And then…….

“…..Something of equal value must be given.”

The blue slowly faded away and, in place of the wooden block, was a small wooden bird. And then, I got an idea.

“So, when my notes said “Blue Candle”, I can only assume that meant I had trans-mutated a type of wax into a candle. And it had to have been blue. At least, that’s what I think….”

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Be daring, be different, be impractical, be anything that will assert integrity of purpose and imaginative vision against the play-it-safers, the creatures of the commonplace.







These wings are made to fly.

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