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09/15/2020 05:44 PM 

( dbd fantasy a.u. / part two - franklin mauritius )

DBD Fantasy A.U. - Part Two – Franklin Mauritius


The Realm encompasses many tales of ordinary victims who've subjected themselves to the perfect conditions for the Entity's picking. From benign to insidious, its preference doesn't seem to favour one particular personality, leaving much of its denizens to their own devices. Among the killers lie a mysterious link that is mutually shared; unspoken, but known. There is no escaping the Voices, although certain foreigners have proven to be resilient in that regard. The Executioner comes with its own brand of esoteric occultist magic that often conflicts with the objective. It's no secret that the tainted powers behind the Metatron proved to be a different kind of nightmare for the survivors, leaving the Entity to ease off for the time being.

But everyone has their share of skeletons. Franklin Mauritius is no exception, citing the profession of an infamous Resurrectionist for the time. His line of work wasn't exactly pretty, or renown for that matter; he simply excavated without a care. The dirty work was something to keep his mind off of the many suggestive thoughts that incubated within his consciousness. There's a certain pride to body harvesting that most people didn't appreciate. “He's a symbol of everything God detests. The desecration of a body is needless—find a live subject!” Though opinions differed, he was no believer in God. Some townsfolk spoke highly of the ancient texts, but where were they when he was forced to endure a reckoning beyond the Realm? Prayers never incited justice, not for him—not for anyone. It doesn't absolve the sinner of their crimes, and it didn't paint the town in a utopian delight. Often scoffed at for bearing the Entity's mark, their faces meant little throughout his day-to-day.

The disapproval was nothing new to Franklin; he's always experienced criticism throughout his years, though he isn't the oldest among the pantheon. He was always different in a not-so-endearing way, having to make the best out of nothing all while enduring the strict hand of his would-be guardians that shifted throughout his life. He knew little of his biological caretakers and dismissed the notion that a home ever existed. Despite his ploys to dismiss and separate himself, he did discover a deep affinity for camaraderie. The notions of an off-family; a brethren that stood the test of time was rather comforting. He'd never make it known, and despite the arrangements among the infamous killers, he didn't mind 'em so much.

A few exceptions came to mind that irked Franklin beyond expectation. Kenneth Chauncey, affectionately known a a jester of some kind had a nasty way of harboring his desires for debauchery and would frequently be called out by the Entity for the means he handles the female survivors. It does the cast no good if a survivor becomes unresponsive, which come in various forms. Kenneth's preferred means involved mutilation of a dangerously affectionate brand that progressed into sexual gratification. It wasn't hard to tell who he'd press continuously, as some of 'em were easily startled. Egregiously pained, their aggressiveness that sparked a flame for survival fueled his disgusting tendencies.


Franklin became cognizant of the aforementioned after a manic encounter with Meaghan Thompson—the ginger among the group. Prior to her repeat encounters with the Clown's antics, she seemed quite sure of herself and allowed for the fight-or-flight response to kick in at a moment's notice. “HEHEH! I see one of mine are up for ya' in the trial! It took some time, but she's developed into somethin' I say is worth every penny... You'll understand what I mean when ya' try to approach her. They're all like that deep down; it takes a certain touch to bring 'em out. HA! HA!” he exclaimed before attempting to pat the harvester on the shoulder.

“—I didn't need to know that, and don't f***in' touch me. You make it harder than it needs to be for the rest of us.”

“Eh? What's this about? Are ya' mad I got to her first...?”

“I don't care about the red-haired bitch, but whatever ye' f***in' did ALL OF US are going to pay for. Ain't none of this sh*t convincin' if they're burned ye' bellend. That's why I'm mad.”

“Oh, like you don't do the same thing boy? If I remember correctly—lemme' see here—the last couple punishments were because of You. Not only that, it wasn't even a criminal thing either. Ya' had somethin' going on—I lost all feeling in my gratifying hand because of you, so f*** off with the martyr talk. If I didn't know any better, I'd kill you myself.

Don't think for a f***in' second just because there's four of—oh, wait a minute! There Used To Be four of ya'. What happened, Franklin? That was Your Fault, wasn't it?”
Engorged lips curled into a smug expression, satisfied with the end result. He knew where to hit 'em if all else failed. Franklin had a penchant for pissing him off more than he count account for.

“F*** off with that. I ain't talkin' about it. Ye' don't know sh*t.”

“Awh, I'm so sorry for your loss—I really am... You ain't been the same since. It's not like they're dead or anything! HAH!”

“...”



The tale the Clown mentioned dates back before the Fall. Franklin is no stranger to troublesome situations, and somewhere in a past life, his sins have caught up to him. Amidst the public eye among the killers where punishment must be paid in full, the Entity had a unique set of arrangements for him all along. While it took some time, the anticipation that derived from his untimely fate would delve a mighty blow to the lonesome fellow. For particular problems, the Entity relocated the pantheon to a sub-realm where swift dealings could be handled. In Frankli—Frank's case, he sought the highest forms of treason against the Entity with utter disregard for the rules. And with each debilitating stretch, his body dwindled in manners that couldn't be supported on vitality alone. He's a defiant one, and would often dismiss the claims of his actions that had an adverse effect on his fellow killers.

It was never in the cards that a situation could arise wherein hearts could collide in a tangled mess that stressed the very Realm beyond its means. Despite his connection to the Voices, he stayed true—very much so, to one particular individual. He fought for his time, swindled the proverbial clock every which way all while ascertaining a selfish, self-serving delight that bewitched him at every turn. And what began as a test of sexual reprisal; an arrogant, pompous taste of unrelenting pride twisted into an entirely different spectacle. At the height of their exchange, it's been made bold that his affinity for that damned woman remained fixated. Unbreakable even with the inconvenience of separating the two. They still managed to come together, even if Benedict's theories coupled with Vigo's many experimental advancements were all but a pipe dream.

It seems the two have braved the depths of the Realm, though not quite the Void, over an impulsive, developing feeling that something more can exist. Unforeseen, and untold, the whispers of a loving reprieve couldn't be any truer.

Forged from the deepest flames, seated on a whim, for the life of him, he couldn't remember the final moments before the Entity stepped in to whisk him and the crew away. He wasn't the only person to incur the punishment meant solely for Frank Morrison, but its effects stuck with him throughout the transition. A burden for each, three souls that laid strewn in their purest form. Deep down, his lone style is merely a cover-up for camaraderie he much desired. The assembly of the Legion couldn't be whole without 'em, but how about in Him? Through the Entity's mysterious means, it struck an accursed brand upon him by infusing his spiritual essence with the souls of his “friends”. With each soul carries a great burden he's forced either to endure, or overcome. There is no clear-cut means to solve each individuals' restlessness, but if he wanted them back, he'd have to come to terms.

For Joseph, the symbol of death—a harbinger of the reaper tinged from his throat. A thirst for souls developed into something far more decrepit. While Franklin wasn't the most particular in-regards to his palette, he'd never find himself having a taste for emaciated flesh. The decay, the pestilence, its diseased-ridden entrails do little to deter the man from the march. Coupled with Joseph's spirit, there are instances and outbreaks where a feverish thirsty for live meat becomes insatiable. The death of someone—something along the way has its means to quell the aches, but it does not replace the sensation of flesh. Raw, preferably. It seems that Joseph has always had a taste for murder, there's no mistaking his aggressive ways, but he's also been a curious individual at heart. Quick to skim through the finer details, there was once a desire for understanding. He's had a keen awareness for the things around him, even if he wasn't very famed for anything beyond petty crimes. But despite this, he's never been satisfied with his findings, and would often be angered at the prospect of false truths. He sought something for the longest time, but the others had no clue of what. What was he hiding?

In Suzanna's case, it was difficult to pin-point the remnants of her spirit. She's always been a reclusive one who traversed the dream world within her affectionately famed imagination. A stargazer, and someone who'd wish the very moonlight to rain down upon the nocturnal realm, there was always a child-like disposition to her the others hadn't understood. In her past life, she was something of a thief. Impulsive in every way when an opportunity presents itself, her deft hands made quick work of just about anything within her means. Her spirit is plagued with guilt, occluded by a dark tinge to the purple spectacle that housed her sixth sense, it often 'caused conflict with Franklin's head—having already been afflicted with the Entity's accursed muses. A deep desire for penitence; reassurance from the others were things he couldn't bring himself to admit. The lack of empathy presented towards Suzanna's case made it difficult to sleep, though he never considered the fact that their energy could have such an effect.

The past suggested of another, a woman in this case. A foreigner to a different continent within the countryside along a realm far more lively than the Entity could provide masked an old heart that the past left behind. Though the two scrounged their differences and managed to maintain the 'guise of the Legion, the pieces of a broken relationship were the biggest burden of all. Peering into the amber wisp, the two were a product of survival. Mean-spirited but menacing a dark shadow lays upon Julie Kostenko. An expression so sinister Franklin could feel its weight within his chest, obfuscated by the ethical take Frank sought to rectify that fateful night—all of which have been obscured within the memory. It isn't his place to peer, but the feelings run rampant. Confusion and mistrust; contempt that holds a passionate, crackling spark beneath any light, Julia Constantine has been wronged. It's woefully telling in the inability to mesh with his vitality—a refusal even the Entity itself couldn't force.

It appears that beneath the surface, her past isn't lingering onto an old relationship, but rather, resolution. A respectful peace to ease the masses, she was always left behind when the time was convenient. The narrative in-question set the pace for a far more insidious interaction, with a hint of violence that remained unsettling within the Realm. Did she share her pain with the others? The survivors, even? She's hidden something, much to Franklin's dismay.


“You just 'gonna stand there, or you got somethin' to do? Don't make me invade those dreams of yours—the mind ain't protected by the Entity, heheheh.” Whisking of the blades, and that clandestine laugh. It couldn't of been anyone else but Frederick Krueger himself. Always one to press Franklin, he wasn't the type to sit back and take his demeaning commentary.

“It'd be a f***in' shame to get rearranged in your own realm, wouldn't it Demon? What do I do, call out to you? Demon of the Sands, Oh Demon; won't you come through with an Alchemist's elixir~? Piss off! I got better sh*t to do than to f*** around with you.”

“You're right, kid. You do have better things to do. You're living on borrowed time, just like the rest of them. Even I know that, and I'm not real. Hahahahahaha! Better move quick, Body Snatcher. I can smell their lives fading. Imagine that, a four-for-one special, and I ain't impressed in the slightest.”

“Ye' know what else ain't impressive? The fact that ye' forget how easy it is to get 'outta ye' bullsh*t. Those survivors turned your head on a swivel with their alchemy. Ye' never guessed what metallic seasonin' could do to the lucid mind.

But tch, whatever. I'm 'outta here. Keep your hands off of the kids, Chester. It'd be a shame if this place went to ruin because ye' thought ye' could pull a fast one on the Entity.”



After the get-together and formalities settled, he ventured off with the notion that his time was facilitated. There's also a festering hunger he'd rather not get involved with publicly. The shame that came with his festive consumption was often unsightly, and outright embarrassing for him. The shame coupled with Joseph's combined insatiable feast made it difficult to deny his urges. Feral Frenzy for the most part was controllable—during trial hours. Longer periods without a trial in-sight presented a whole new host of issues for Franklin that couldn't be subdued by simple prayer or the Entity's punishment. He needed something more—hard-hitting, if that made sense. His search for the next best thing came with another sighting. An older order that was filed for the days to come requested the pilfering of select goods off of an antiquated harvest, suggesting the body laid in a sepulcher akin to the high and mighty. The thought alone repulsed him, but he made due with the opportunity for some coin. Oddly enough, it was rare for the client not to request the cadaver itself—just their belongings? Seems as though they're in a similar predicament, but he wasn't one to discriminate.

He did his best not to be seen, making use of similar movements his adept companion would've been akin to had she been around. Despite his hungered state, he wasn't frail and was able to maneuver in ways most of his colleagues would gawk to recreate themselves. The travel was light, only packing the essentials—an old scythe to weave out troublesome stones and debris; a shovel to clear a path and an old metal rod fastened with a stone to create sparks necessary to relight the torch he carried 'round for deep-dive investigations. He could do for some tobacco, but the Entity wasn't so kind to provide and the local flora couldn't provide the nutrients necessary to facilitate growth. Tragic, really.

Traversing the tomb, he picked and prodded away meticulously as he would with any other interior. He's quite pedantic with his work, always making sure to double check the loose stones for traps and other unwelcome gizmos stashed away. The infamously wealthy wouldn't allow a peon to sift freely—usually. He did eventually come across the tomb, labeled in some estranged archaic runic language. There's no way to decipher the codec beyond the reference sheet he possessed, but he didn't pretend to know more than he was informed of. It's needless, but he proceeded to overturn the stone covering. The contents were there—a handful of wares that were keen for the client, and the corpse itself looked to be fairly recent. Give or take a few days, but the signs of a still corpse conjured nauseating thoughts. With a glance, he looked back before delving in to the bed.

A brief appreciation, while repulsive as dirty fingertips graced the deceased. Scarlet brightened within his eyes, citing the might of Feral Frenzy with hastened strikes. Nails dug deep, clawing with a visceral take and bloodspatter aplenty 'til the decaying chunks were enough to pick away at. Ragged, but gloved hands peeled away at the darkened matter before carrying out his consumption. The struggle to keep a straight face as he tried to look away didn't help that deep-seated satisfaction he got from every bite. The sensations of meat akin to a mushy but viscous texture gave the tongue mixed signals. There was nothing to scoff at in that department, but the taste left much to be desired. If the blood hadn't gone rancid, he'd actually have something to appreciate. In a quiet Hell he quickly consumed what was required before covering the body back up. Bloodied fingerprints laid strewn against the stone cover, but it couldn't be helped 'til at the very last moment, something slipped between the coffin and its cover: a note. It looked awfully old, and appeared to have a bit of text that suggested a forest of sorts.

“The darkest of conditions were obstacles to overcome. For the elusive mist of the Forest Past would become a place that soothes. Dangerous and astray, it's an arduous trek I'd say. But if you feel ill, take a moment, if you will. There's always something of value in the farthest of places; out of reach, but not out-of-sight. If you can manage, you may find what you are looking for. A sleepless night? Pain that gouges the essence of the soul? Begone as one of the Forest would suggest. It's all but a rumor. If it's a 'gest, the creatures of the night will put a swift claim to the Soul, no matter how blood-stained or bastardized you might be.”

He couldn't believe it. Did such a thing exist? Did the realm beyond the border hold such a remedy even for an accursed man? He wasn't exactly a believer in heresy, but something tells him he didn't have much of a say in the matter. A body harvester with nothing to lose, the odds were against him. Tired, and confused, he dug himself out of the tomb's hole before following the loose illustration beneath the text. The labyrinth of the town had to have an exit of some kind, farce to say. It's also unlikely that the others knew much about it, and he couldn't approach survivors without a third party getting in the way.

To say the journey would be simple was understating it severely. While he's no home-body, he never dared trek beyond the borders. It's something of a mystery, even for him. As many bodies as he's desecrated, the few notes he's managed to scrounge together only suggest a timeless passage. The air's different beyond the town, and its denizens that stalk the borders are creatures of unrivaled capacity. Benedict suggests that the lot are illusions, eclipsed by the moonlit waters that surround the land. The images around 'em are rather deceitful, and prove to shapeshift just as he could when the situation calls for it. It was all theories however, and without any certainty beyond his shovel and trusted armament, he'd only find out first-hand.

Sometimes, if you call out to the mist a wisp of energy appears. Captivating in every way, her elusive presence can be seen when visions become obscured by the climate. Her powers are esoteric and seem to transcend the boundaries of what the Entity has agency over, but perhaps it's a different kind of magic within itself. It's all word-of-mouth, but—there has to be some truth to everything.


( to be continued - part III )

09/15/2020 05:22 PM 

( dbd fantasy a.u. / part one - introduction )

The Hallowed Blight — DBD A.U.


The aroma of pestilence and death lingers in the air as the twilight sky occluded in a lavender tinge blankets the night. There's much to appreciate within the dreary Neolithic infrastructure that towers over the Realm. Its denizens weren't aware of the peculiar intricacies that laced their beloved setting, but the days of a lone campfire were long gone. The mysterious means that established each person, indiscriminate to the rules—both survivor and killer harkoned a new era of mortifying prosperity among 'em.

There were no known records of the anomaly, nor a change in scenery. It's as if the Entity acted out of impulse; a change of pace, or the forgetfulness that came with an interdimensional paradigm. The others knew nothing of what laid about, but acted as if nothing had changed. Perhaps he underestimated the gravity of the Entity's influence, as it seemed to act independently of the killers that once were. They've certainly taken a different form coming through the mysterious rift.

Dr. Herman Mac Artair, an infamous quack doctor known for his neurological blunders found the changes to be delightful, citing his experiments with a wretched passion that shook the hearts of his once opposing victims. That wasn't to say he wouldn't ascertain their assistance when called upon—there's no rules to muster within the decree of the Hallowed Blight. It's the wild, wild west amidst the town, and everyone's looking to score. To say he's quite eccentric is an understatement. His electrodes possess a different kind of power, fueled by the Doctor's morbid curiosity for the macabre, his interests have always remained high. With no way to express his gratitude beyond the blood-curdling cries of his test subjects, he ensured with the utmost haste that the laboratory results would get the job done.

It wasn't hard to tell when a finding was discovered; the violent crackling among the dusty atmosphere rippled with a menacing luminescence that paled in comparison to conventional electricity. The sparks rummaged throughout the lightning conduction, spelling another poor soul for the taking. He was never the type to limit himself to a fair practice. Exceed expectations—go beyond the scope of brevity!

In other cases, however, they weren't so fortunate. Amelia Jung sought a perilous path of salvation through the Entity's praise, knowing little of what it was actually capable of. While she reigned as a harbinger of death—an executioner in her own right, her frail, unhinged mind slipped through the cracks into a miserable mess. The devout mindset; an entitlement best described as atrociously forthcoming became a devious mark across her terror.

It always struck him that she was more human than the others appeared to be, but she gave in so easily to the plight, there's nothing left. Was it a call of loneliness? The dissatisfaction of Johnathan Kramer was to blame? Hidden truths seemed to elude the others, and it was never questioned whether or not the vitriolic application was a product of the Entity. Scorn burned deep, and those roots were far entrenched beyond the Entity's comprehension. It didn't factor emotional turmoil, nor the implication of a sleight she may have up her sleeve. Disguised as a merchant, her wares were of the exotic brand. An eye-for-an-eye; a dagger unsightly, but ornate in design. In other cases, the occasional ailment was necessary. She was no apothecary, but kept a keen hand on difficult-to-get materials. With some knowledge on synthesis, there's quite a lot she could do with the right ingredients, even if the cost came hefty.

While she had a home, much of her fate has forced a nomadic lifestyle. Braving the barrier beyond the busted cobblestone road, she broods her way across, leaving llittle but the faint wisp of Jigsaw's Baptism for the others to see. Mechanical etchings; an ironwork that rusted beyond neglect. Its dilapidated aesthetic left much to be desired, though she promised to leave behind the contraption. As a memoir, and perhaps a final note. Gone were the days of the burden she hoped for—but that didn't stop her from cleansing the streets among the Hallowed Blight.

With the killers, a new set of doctrines were instituted through the elaborate effort of the whispering voices that compelled them as a collective. The beckoning was an underlying eldritch knowledge, esoteric by nature but unable to be deciphered. Its cypher remained a privacy even the greatest of minds like Vigo couldn't decode.

For the Survivors, their stories seemed to stem from a collective rite. Many appeared to take up the apprenticeship of a false belief. Vigo, as it seems, hadn't manifested within the Realm despite their ploys of traversing the Void. A true survivor in his own right, he's also something of a craftsman. Through smarts and ingenuity, his tinkerer's nature enabled a practical application for the blighted mess that plagued a horrid atrocity among the alumni pantheon. Blisters and boils, their clothing has been soiled. Perforated, they wander; in a daze that pops the moment a step is taken forward. They too, have become their own brand of survivor, and braved the malformed modifications until the Entity's intervention.

The research involved was carefully picked from the archaic notes left strewn throughout Vigo's choice of housing—where the survivors lingered. Their residence wasn't anything of particular interest; books upon books in a dust, decrepit home that a few of 'em did their best to make hospitable. The young maid, astute in every sense but also a fine caretaker, Lauletta Moore sought to rectify the abode with a restoration in order. She beckoned the others to pitch in and do the same, much to the others' dismay. Throughout their cleaning, the crew rummaged around, finding bits and pieces of an overlapping facet of knowledge depicting the Realm's deepest secrets, though much of its context was indiscernible Latin. Even with their collective minds, it'd take a little more than a translator to decipher the pictographs and other encrypted messages Vigo chose to meticulously add as a failsafe. What the Entity couldn't gather, the Entity couldn't rid someone of, no matter what.

Despite this, however, the others hadn't known such a fact. It's deeply embedded within a scripture only the dangerously curious could hope to uncover, for its knowledge within could drive a person asunder. Benedict Baker, the open-book survivalist briefly spoke in a note lifted from the carefully laid totem just beyond the graveyard, housing a suggestive nature that could bring much insight to the apt pupils 'round town.

“I swear I've seen it all—it behooves me that no such thing exists elsewhere! I once read of Vigo's theory behind the Void; what an accursed mess that Realm has become by the sounds of it. I cannot delve into much detail, but I shall leave whoever stumbles upon this letter something of value.

The symbols depict something ancient, deep across the recreated territories those damned killers protect. It's almost as if they're prisoners of something bigger—larger than the ducts themselves. Take note of any suspicious, sentient markings. They are nothing like the Metatron divine I spoke about with the Executioner, but it does correlate with an outside force. Deciphering the truth will lay the foundation for the End. A day where others can escape. I am certain.”

The most they could hope for, was that Benedict is truthful in the way he professed. While they weren't the dumbest cast, there's much to be uncovered amidst the copious annals of the Archives themselves. Rumor has it that an older husk of a building exists, dialpidated from the extierior that houses the much needed information the others before them hoped to obtain. It's farce to say that such a thing exists, as no one's laid claim to such a structure. The story wasn't the first to be heard—there was living proof, disguised as a drawing by an unknown artist, it speaks volumes to the breadth of what could be something special. It's likely the location is buried beyond the barrier that encompasses the Hallowed Blight, but a private sector—somewhere—could bypass its estranged energy. If only, if only it were that simple.
 
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Elsewhere, depicted in the catacombs laid a man of many woes. Faced with uncertainty, he's a bit of an anomaly. The festering within became an intrusive defilement the closer someone approached. Deeper and deeper, he dug away at the emaciated flesh, though the corpse itself didn't seem particularly ancient. It's likely to have been deposited a little under two days or so, but for Franklin Mauritius, its state mattered not. He clawed and slashed away, indiscriminate and uncaring towards the haphazard application. Was he always like this?

The taste of rotten flesh hadn't bothered him in the slightest. It's unlikely that the flavor has a way with him, but rather the catharsis sensations that compel the Hallowed Blight's resurrectionist to feast with a menacing grin. Accursed crimson eyes, and a feral escape of morbid breath could arouse the deceased. The sight grew unsightly very quickly, for Hannibal Morrison had his own means to satiate. Alive or dead, there's no stopping his feast. The scourge within the deep, he braves any crevice when the time comes to feed. This is but one of many unfortunate blunders the Entity has struck its citizens with. Killers too, can have the short end of the stick.


( to be continued / part II )

09/15/2020 04:02 PM 

( f.j.s.j. au / dbd / delving into the legion )



FJSJ — The Corporeal Masquerade


Darkness is sentient among the Entity's culling. The obsidian wisps whisk away a frightening maelstrom. It appears that Benedict's notes hadn't remain truthful to the development of another divisive nightmare within the nocturnal realm. Foretold by the whispers, the plight of times' past developed its own narrative. WILLED into existence, the corporeal mass took shape of a humanoid husk. Hallowed through the center, akin to an effigy. No flesh, no bone—no writhing souls to bear witness. They'd be captured from the previous crop of victims unfortunate enough to succumb to divine punishment.

The four of 'em posed quite a struggle, as the Entity found them inseparable. A warrior spirit? Certainly not, but among the bunch, they possessed a collective tenacity that could disrupt the mightiest of connections. Their souls tether to the promise of a “better life”, but the realm doesn't play. There's no second chance—no bitter reprisals. Only the purest of 'guises can tread with safe passage, for all but one managed to brave the mangled trenches in search of respite. She's but a lone soul; a delightful flower. The auburn streaks laced with goldenrod nectar—there was nothing else like her. A legend in her own right, bless her soul.

There's DARKNESS AMONG 'EM, and for their treachery, a grave price is paid. Tortured souls, fused within the alchemic magistry; a forced benediction among the apothecary that couldn't bear witness. It's a tragedy, truly. The shadows take shape, draped in a prismatic autumn that polarized the veil that surrounds the realm. It crackles, it creeps—the flicker of inferno, aroused by the four torn asunder. It's a wonder how they managed not to lose their grip as one collective blunder.

To begin, it dates back to their infamous criminal mastermind—Frank Morrison. A troubled man, much like the others whose had everything delightful pilfered from his cold, dead fingertips. That's not to say it's all undeserved—someone struck a nerve and forced his hand. Destined for demise, its no surprise the boy struck back on full tilt, bastardizing the gymnasium in a scornful tirade. It's unclear what really went on, but something burned deep within. A passionate conviction burst at the seams, and the referee found himself knocked out in a winded breeze. He was once a basketball phenom; problematic in his own right, but a shinning star on the court. But after that fateful evening, one poor decision snowballed into a life changing direction. He stripped himself of the good boy aspirations, scoffed at the sight of academic institutions and did away with any athletic aptitudes, all in one fell swoop. Tattoos? Not-a-problem. Let's get a skull with sleeves to match; a few piercings here-and-there. The semi-formal wears were stripped away with a rugged jacket. He'd never drop the hood, all within the same span of a few months. A craftsman of a delinquent crime syndicate, the collective mischief of him and his group sparked an outcry. Unfortunately for Frank, the rewards were short-lived, as he found himself alongside his peers on the edge of darkness itself. The perforating, stringent essence that burned a hole into reality itself lulled them in one-by-one, never to be seen again.

The second of the four sacraments goes by the name “Julie”. Julie Kostenko. Something of an anomaly, she too was an outcast. Never fit the bill socially despite her unique beauty that seemed to tickle Frank's fancy at some point during their high school endeavors. She too possessed a fire for something more, but at the expense of what? An intimate exchange raped all sense of self at the hands of that damned perpetrator within the school, sabotaging far more than her self worth. It's almost as if she lived life on the seams; her tether remains loose. Caution thrown aside, she stuck out the ride with no care in mind. To her, there wasn't much to stay committed for, and entertained Frank's dastardly schemes. She seems to have a history of poor interactions with adults—it didn't stop at the school, but the gang came equipped. Within the well, there's wounds deep down. Merciless in her application, the meticulous approach hadn't rubbed off, much to Frank's surprise. Passionate strikes, and a murderous delight. Julie developed a taste for retribution; the conviction much needed for the Entity's bidding.

Suzie's something of a unique case. A stray among losers, her innocent disposition wasn't quite what someone would expect. It seems she has a knack for the patty-wap, catch-a-cat, steal-your-sh*t-in-one-false-act. Was she a kleptomaniac? Possibly, though it could be argued it was less for personal gain and more for the sport—whatever that meant. Resourceful, but not the most confident. It took quite a few endearing words from Frank and Julie to get her taste for mischief going. The pretense for “something better” was always a wish, and she played along the marching band. Frank hadn't questioned her belongings, though he thought the lot of it was unnecessary. Fast hands aren't a thing if a teddy bear's swingin', but without her material goods, she's hopeless. There's just some things that can't be taken from the girl, no matter how profound they may be. An apt thief, there was something to take from her deft reach. Silent, but steady, he never thought someone so uncertain possessed great dexterity.

Lastly, there's Joe. “Joey”. Not much of a talker. It took some coaxing on the girls' behalf to get him goin', but once he came around, he and Frank remained quite sound. From the looks of it, Joe had a knack for automotive work and was something of a mechanic despite not pursuing an education past 16. He hadn't cared about the uncertainty of his career path—life's too short, and there's a party to be had. Scrapping wasn't unorthodox for him, he's used to confrontation. Often mistaken as a troublemaker, his quiet demeanor is often misread alongside systemic roots dating back to his days in Detroit as a younger lad. Conflict was a way of life, and the pistol's a comfort; a luxury throughout the night. Not everyone could turn the corner without breaking out into a firefight, but if he had to—he'd snap necks to stay alive.

They're not religious, far from it in-fact. There's anarchist beliefs for sure; the chaos bears a cross for everyone to mast. It's from those mayhem roots where the populace flourished. And within the mastermind's hand, he'd make full use of every tool available. The steadfast disregard for authority; a passionate contempt with ferocity for all; a knack for tinkering, with a snide, cunning that could coax most; the brutal upbringing that could change a situation at any time. They're all components for the DARKNESS AMONG US. From their resurrection, the cultivated talents would prove quite the adversary for those beloved survivors, graced by Benedict's protection.

From the kindling, bears a spark to assimilate a mannequin that internalized the sorrows of those unfortunate souls. The misfits, collectively, gave way to a new demeanor. Their thoughts, overlapped; their skills, all in-tact. They'd brave the Entity's path and carve a name for themselves.

FEAR the LEGION! We ARE the LEGION! AMONG US, darkness FALLS. Heed our call, or else—you'll FALL!

09/02/2020 04:26 PM 

( assortment of musings. )

Wonder

Starlight Wonder, I've always meant to ask why this continues to happen. With a feint, you're quick to pull away; without a word, you're just as quick to stay. The feeling is volatile; the moments are a quiet storm. Beneath the twilight blanket, the lace and veneer of an amaranth delight lie a fickle woman. A former mistress, was it fate that brought the change? Was it the pain that reached hard enough to muster a false courage?

It's all imaginary, baby. Through-and-through, we know what to do. There's no mistaking the writing on the wall. But every single time, I fall for it all. Bewitched, we're often playing with potions; concoctions I'd never understand.

But the taste is unforgettable.



Catch-22

Within every moment, we're whisked away at the very last second—the instance where we'd try to “open up” and speak truths that the Styx couldn't foretell, the Entity's meddling tears the tale. A lapse of judgment; a subconscious chemical spill. There's all these things I tried to say, but couldn't. It simply wouldn't let up. The voices argue amongst me as if they share the same mind. A cacophony within the hive; this head has space for one.

We're lulled into the clutches of our sins, picking away at the verbose debris that litter our bodies. Entwined within a tumultuous sphere that refused to ascend. Every time I called, it feels like dark waters cascading over the message. I try to look beyond the veneer, but cannot hear what you have to say. Was that you? Is it really? Or has its clandestine clutches lay waste to the meaning.

Maybe we speak different languages. I'm certain the vernacular is there; the dialect will never match, but you can feel what I'm saying. I wish I could feel yours too, but we're always so tongue-tied, twisted within the maelstrom of these forbidden admissions. Tell me again while I whisper, “What's gotten into you? Do you feel it too?”



The Time Has Come

It would never be the same without you. For a stray, that's hard to believe. You've spent so much time on the run, it's hard to imagine stopping. I can't say I've walked the same path, but taking to the streets ain't unfamiliar. It's easy to move away, forget about the past and put the skeletons to rest.

I never questioned it, there wasn't a reason to. I can see the shame across your face every time you look away. I'd take a step closer, but you're quick to dismiss the thought. “It's nothing, don't worry about it.” I've heard that time-and-time again, even with my guard down, knife kicked aside and the hook—disassembled. There's never a moment of true comfort, that just ain't possible. I guess I've forgotten sometimes what it means to look into the mirror. There's somethin' there to reminisce about. It became kind of comforting in a way, but it feels like all good things come to an abrupt end.

I ain't sh*t when ya' think about it. Former basketball phenom, part-time sprinter. Workin' the legs was never a thing for me, but it came with the escape. Ye' double down when ye' need to, make no mistake. We're trained to evade, duck and weave, get away. I can't promise a healthy time, I can't reassure ye' the world's OK. I'd rather watch it burn to a smoldering ember, where the flames take your thoughts away. It's mesmerizing, you'd understand. Take my f***in' hand and come to a stand.

You've heard this sh*t a million times. The messages, subliminal. I definitely ain't the first, but I wonder if I'll be the last. There's not much time left. The Entity's pretty mad. Rearing its ugly head, there's no tellin' what'll happen next.

Don't say I didn't warn ye'. Sometimes sh*t ends quick. I couldn't know for sure, but I remember tracing your lips; through those murky times, you wanted to know somethin'. I know that expression when I see it.

And it's true. I do. F*** the mantra, f*** the forbidden take. My stomach can't take it anymore, so rest assured. You know now.

I'll see ye' on the other side—well. Y'know!

09/02/2020 04:24 PM 

( without you, i'm kinda lost to be honest. )

Without You


The alloy vibrato, the shadowed dash—both of those components make for an unforgettable relapse. Fell from graces of out space into a place that couldn't save face because the haste involved became a slog within the bog. And with every step, he leaped across the pallet in a chase he had net met—someone so swift, who moved beyond the tip—of the blade, he caught her fade amist the broken cellar doors, in their estranged circus parade. For another day, he'd come through to pay—back, every opportune moment she struck.

Their abstract made heads turn; stomached churned while the chapel burned all throughout. There's no mistaking a gem's been found, covered in sh*t. She occasionally sucked d*ck, only to spit—and get spat on real quick. Unhinged jaws, a prideful lick between those balls struck her walls in ways she couldn't begin to imagine. Even while fastened, his grip became massive, and any urgency for retreat missed its beat weeks ago. The hastened skeet, a tumble, a twist—there's no mistaking the jewel flare beside her lips. Tucked beneath him, asphyxiated, he confiscated her rights like the Parliament on the 9th. Violent thrashes, missing lashes and the cries of a broken euphoria. “Bruise me,” the thought emerged. The cadence never let up, and his tempo overflowed to a breaking point that jettisoned the mightiest yield; a sprung moment that churned beneath the hips. A discharge, no space. Kissing, without face. They'd never see it to love, for the hate enveloped every moment.

Times had changed, and positions rearranged. They took to the quiet life, masked by internal strife. A constant pull left the wool to obscure the truth. A sad reality that could never be let loose. Even if things worked out, their times were at an impasse. There was never a happy ending. It's fated from day one. They tried to stash away the feelings that provided that much needed distraction. It's almost a neverending tease, offset by the temporary release that hurt so good.

“I think you might've gotten into my head, but I'd never get this feelin' from anyone else.”

And for a moment, she catches a lapse, not wanting to leave. The escape meant a loneliness she wasn't equipped to deal with. For so many times, even after the Fall, there was a moment between them. Once and for all, that couldn't be felt anywhere else but there. Her eyes widened, scoffing at the claim before another touch caught her in a frozen warmth.

09/02/2020 04:20 PM 

( frank talking to himself, with himself, among himself, and themselves. )

The Manifesto of Emotional Quandary


Get this feelin' away from me, I don't want it. I never asked to play into a game the rules weren't set for.

There were never any rules to begin with. You tempted fate with every stroke; now you're alone with nothing to your name.

It's not that there weren't any rules man. You knew what you were getting yourself into from the very first night. It happens to all of us.

NO, IT DOESN'T! NOT TO ME! NOT TO FRANK!

Why not... just give in then? Give up to your stupid anarchist peddling and assimilate with the Entity's bidding? The others don't seem to mind it. They're happy—I think. You've never been like this before.

...What are ye' talkin' about? Like what?

Look at you, dude! You're talking up a schism—you've been doing so for the past three days in another burnout coma you've had from those f***ing drinks the negro keeps pushin'. I don't even blame him though. You waned it.

Does anyone know what's going on anymore? His head's getting busier than it can handle. Someone needs to shut this off. I don't care who it is.

Who the f*** made you the boss around here!? We're not even real!

I'm real, but they aren't. He's not either, and she couldn't be. They're everything you didn't want out of the cup. And we're hopeless—every single one of us. Trying for something that was never obtainable in this cataclysmic blunder. It was an escape. He wanted to get away, and found company in the strangest of places, even if it meant forcing an assault. We don't call it an “assault” though; it's what's ours, after all.

I 'dunno whose funny idea this sh*t is, but everyone needs to shut the f*** up about it. About everything. ALL OF IT! I don't need a f***in' commentator about any of this crap. JUST LEAVE IT! ALL OF YOU!

...Huh? There he goes again, desperately fighting for control. The deed is done, y'all. We'll be back, soon enough. It's all par for the course.

What's bothering him anyway? Any one here know, or?

Nope.

Na-da.

Couldn't, even if I wanted to, but if I had to put my proverbial finger on it, whoever he's been involved with might have somethin' to do with it. Who knows. He's an enigmatic one. This “emotion” is surreal.

09/02/2020 04:16 PM 

( syrup-sippin' demon. )

Double-Cupped, Leanin', Syrup-Sippin' Demon


Lethal in his application, the taste of viscous relapse was all-too enticing to pass up. Despite the 'gests to stop, the quelling of his inner thoughts wouldn't let up. He was tired — oh so very tired of the cycle. He's treading a dangerous journey beneath the nebulous waters, caught amidst the twilight sparkles — the pretense of a “happier place”. Scoffing could be heard all throughout; Frank didn't have a reason to comply — especially to Her concerns. Those times were over, and he took it on good faith that the passage to safety was delightfully swirling within his double cup setup.

The purple nectar wasn't something he came across on his own, 'course not. The Chopped & Screwed era never quite hit Canadian soul, for its niche applications. The jagged, drowsy beats; the deep baritone cadence and a tempo that made the average person wonder if someone spilled the coffee across the synthesizer. Joe's hard-hitting preferences and likeness towards the subculture piqued a deep curiosity after the Fall. After the first go, Frank was hooked. There was something fascinating about the loss of control; a deep-seated submerging descent into an incubated stasis. Indescribable, but discerning from the moment someone took a glance into those glassed, hazel eyes occluded by the crimson chaos. A smog was present that quickly enveloped, and his movements were sluggish. He didn't have a care in the world, but for the life of him, couldn't remember what the hell was said all those nights.

It's a dangerous game; the convulsions came sudden, but quick. He couldn't tell if the symptoms hit in a lucid dream, or reality took its hold from an evil obligation. The Entity's tug & pull never did much to ease the blow. The sin was intoxicating; a poisonous, heart-stopping tonic that sought to alleviate the ever waking mind, and his conflicting duality.

He'd give it another go, even if the risk brought a premature halt to FJSJ.

“Help me forget—just one more time. I don't like thinkin', I don't like a lot of sh*t. Maybe it's the pressure, I 'dunno but I can't afford to lose this for the night—so back off, and quit askin'. Even if we're one. I'll gamble for You.

09/02/2020 04:13 PM 

( tease, but don't claim. there was nothing to begin with. )

Touch Me, Tease Me, But Don't Mistake Me For Us


With a promise to keep things private, he was playfully whisked away into the starlit night. A firm hand came to his chest, pushing him down to be seated. “Huh? What's this about? What're ya' tryin' to pull this time~?” She never responded, though she paid careful attention to keep his jacket secure from behind the dilapidated canopy. In a smooth strut, she approached him with mischief in-mind. There was somethin' to entertain between 'em, and the way he approached every time with a different kind of intent in-mind garnered a mutual intrigue.

A likeness would be too soon to tell, but the ride was worth the wonder.

Perhaps the way he spoke out; a charismatic charm of sorts entertained her ear in ways only he understood in the moment. It never failed that he'd hit a high note consistently, able to keep up in creative ways with their mortifying, but brutal banter. She took to a stroll before a pivot led to a firm press against him. Posterior high with hands laced along the thighs. A smug expression developed, and she reciprocated his look, but as he went to reach, she quickly turned around to push his head back. Waving a finger side-to-side, the show was hands off 'til she saw fit.

Much of her movement mirrored somewhere between a dancer and a stripper, striking a stride that encouraged the gradual approach. The sweet nothings he was known with her as a means to encourage became a reliable way to welcome him forward. For the most part, however, the two remained silent. A mutual appreciation and an exchange that kept sights locked. She even pulled that killer bite — gripping the bottom lip as he gave a look to approach. The ascent was true to nature, gripping him by the shoulders as a lascivious gesture gave way. There's no mistaking she forced out a hardened outline through her playful endeavor.

And throughout that night, there was a different kind of atmosphere. While sexually supercharged, the urge for control remained paramount. They hadn't acted solely on impulse—especially for himself. The close movements were entertained, however, and he knew she could feel him slide along the fabric. A gasp of air; a breathless escape, could it have been the moment they'd engage in something beyond the strip?

09/02/2020 04:10 PM 

( starlight dressโ€” )

Lady Dujour of a Two-Toned Kind


From the moment he laid eyes on her along the ironworks descent, there was something different in the moment. It's a breathtaking realization that the urban beauty could undergo a miraculous transformation. The cascade of dissenting midnight struck a polarizing glint with darkness obscura, and he took a moment, gulping in awe. A confident poise at first-sight, there's a distinct nervousness to her strut that could only be reflective of an impressionable kind. He'd never seen anything like it. The scintillating pattern of descending starlit droves coalesced the fabric in ways the nebula collapsed within a snowy dwarf. She's one-of-a-kind in every respect; the pinnacle of an amaranth's angel. Despite her strut, the inclination of a frigid stance iced the very tips of that glamorous expression; a piercing gaze that enticed the mightiest of monsters amongst the nocturne.

He's obviously no exception to the power, but for him, he always found himself lost within her icyene delight. There's no mistaking from afar, just how beautiful she'd leave him, ajar.

But beneath the theatrics, behind the masquerade of a delectable wonder lie the misfortune of days' past. The byproduct of misfit's untimely demise. The trials and tribulations were strewn throughout her wrists. Sullied splotches covered by the veneer of the Entity's gift lay waste to damaged particulates—a dangerous game she's played to ease the thunderous outcries of morality itself. A staunch mistrust; the protection of an alloy skyloft that couldn't be penetrated, perforated or inseminated by any means, left its door open on a whim. He took the forceful plunge like no other, and tussled within the corridors of agony. The excavation of many aches; the burning of a woman scorned beyond realization, and the lavish distraction of an abusive innuendo. They'd call out to each other ten times over without understanding the language.

Within their loveless cries, resonated a mutual pain. The pangs of a desperate kind, hoping to be captured. Enticed, the glorified tribulation sprouted a nurturing act that blew expectations away like a maelstrom.

And with sin, a sanctum erected. The illusion of a love unforeseen, deep within the reaches of Ormond's dull inferno.

09/02/2020 04:08 PM 

( the entity's calling, but with a hint of deep-seated truths. )

Unrequited Confusion – The Bittersweet End


The constraints of the Entity forced a corporeal wall to erect between Frank and Nea at unprecedented speeds. Small pockets in between the twists and thorned turns within its infrastructure bred a means to look beyond the occluded darkness that lingered off from its blisteringly hot impression. It seems that the Entity has grown tired of Frank's shenanigans and imposed a live punishment as a means to establish its place as the dominate force. The ground shook, earthen rippled cracked from beneath with a forceful hand as tendrils ascended to skewer the Legion's mastermind up in ways only a masochist could dream of, but he wasn't the type. Twisting abruptly led to pain indescribable to the masses, and he winced face gave way to a whole different type of agony.

“...Frank!? What's going on!? What the hell is that thing? FRANK!” Nea continued to call out, uncertain of his status. The most she could gather was from his cries and the industrial white noise that emanated beyond the structures. She scooted herself closer as a hand was brought out in an effort to look beyond the wiring—only to stop last second. Survival instincts reeled in, preventing an unintentional means of self-inflicted harm fro that “thing”.

“Hell if I know, but I always told ya' that day would come. I 'dunno how many times I've had it play out, the times I've dropped hints for ye'; all those moments before. It's always listenin', always in my f***in' ear like the girl's best friend.” He coughed, feeling the tendrils morph slightly. An extension of its limbs, the thorns that escaped pushed past the skin from beneath. A faint siphon took effect, reeling away at what sentience was left in him at an IV drip's pace. Perhaps it had all the time in the world, discrediting the mortal body for its resilience within the Realm, and for all to see.

“I got a question for ya', Nea... Those nights from before, y'know the ones you 'don't want to talk about', where we'd dangerously dance around the idea of things being more than just a 'fun time'? Tell me it wasn't a joke—ACK!” The curls of the wiring; the stifled pulsing that surrounded him. There's an unnatural heat that burst through the surface, aiding in his discomfort beneath all else.

“I... I...—“ She gulped. Hesitation filled her heart; she didn't know what to say. It's been some time, of course. Even she couldn't deny that after a certain point in their dynamic, repulsiveness and debauchery turned into a comfort. Euphoria ant anticipation offset by the weird moral grounds the two stood upon created a means to connect. As an escape, every moment built upon itself that the possibilities to look beyond the crevice of misfortune, could in-fact, work out. They played their parts well. The dance never stopped; it's a constant in-and-out, playing pedantic mindfulness to ensuring the sit-ins would never move past the pitch.

He scoffed slightly, kinda' kneejerk. He shifted within his living cage, only to nod his head amongst himself. In some sense, while he couldn't hear her properly, the silence could be read. “I think I understand. We played into each other. There were things ya' had, I'll admit, I wanted. I think the same thing can be said for ye' as well. It's easy to forget the past when the present's so good, yeah? I 'dunno why I started looking beyond that. I read too hard into it, and ye' warned me not to. But seein' as time's almost up here, I may as well say it for what it is.”

“What do you mean!? I hesitated. I don't like how things are; this situation, the circumstances we're in.” She stared off, lost in thought. Digits pursed the sentient iron, grazing her fingertips with a lingering darkness that couldn't be easily removed. Its essence tapered. “I've felt somethin' here I never thought I'd ever feel in my lifetime, Frank. We hid those feelings because we know what's best for us.”

“...Then what? Eh? What the f*** was I then, an emotional crutch?”

“No! It's not like that, it isn't. I swear.”

“What are you scared of then? Ye' already threw my knife out. I gave you my word to things I'd never. EVER. Do for anyone else!”

“It's not you, Frank. I assume out of safety, but in reality it's me. I can't bring myself to go down that path. The thoughts, the feelings—everything was nice. Beautiful, in some ways. I can see why they like you. Anyone for that matter.

“...IT'S NOT ABOUT ANYONE ELSE! It's about YOU!”



The more he tried to rationalize the situation, the worse things became. He wasn't exactly in a position to do so, considering he's on the verge of “death” with no leg to stand on. On the extreme end, the unthinkable emerged in his thoughts. Was everything really for nothing? He felt like an emotional tissue for those many lapses that suggested something different. He even chocked it up to the Entity manipulating parts of his head into believing other visions—the accuracy was off, for certain, but his authenticity was far from insincere. He cracked in the dance department, knowing deep down feelings began to develop.

On the contrary, the anxiety that surrounded opening herself up to the possibility of someone else—a frenzied “monster”, reformed into a man whose “skills” turned her world upside down on more than one occasion. The sweet allure that emerged, that she refuses up and down 'til death's end. She could never admit to herself that at some point between 'em, she too felt the same. Even now, the feeling still lingers, but she had to stay true to herself. There's been too many close calls with the proverbial salesman. In the past, it led to those moments, just to have the rug snatched from under her. While Frank didn't seem to harbor the same intentions, she found it difficult to work past.

And even then, within the stirred silence. The occlusion between the two, and Frank's dying breaths, it appears that a greater pain would suffice for the Entity's bidding. Slowly the tendrils lowered him to the ground; a religious symbol akin to Metatron's calling. The great descent, and one he bared with a stillness unsightly. He pulled the mask off, tossing it aside as the numbness began to settle. The walls dissolved en masse, opening the gap for the two to once again reunite. She scurried over, feeling the wounds inflicted with a sticky viscosity before pulling him over. His head settled onto her lap with lids closed for a time. They hadn't muttered a word to each other for several moments. She held his head with both hands, bloodied up and gently massaged in good faith he'd get back up. His breathing stopped, but she couldn't get a proper feel for his respiratory system amidst the high emotional count. His future remained uncertain, and a nervousness began to settle in. Even she was becoming concerned towards his inanimate response.

“...Frank?” You awake?” She called, leaning down into him in the clutches of his head, pulling him closer with tensions arising. “Hey, Frank, get up. This joke ain't funny.” She slapped his face a couple times, padding her blows with a gentle caress—similar to the times he did the same. There was always something endearing about his affection. The sadistic intentions coupled with a gentle relapse put her on an emotional rollercoaster every time, and she hoped the same would provide him with a comfort to awake.

“I'm not laughing, Frank. You sh*thead! Get up!” With another pull, she attempted to raise him a bit higher. Perhaps blood filled his system, and he needed a pump. She did her best to use her makeshift talents to fasten a quick bandaging across the pierced spots, though the center looked to have closed up on its own. Heated remnants of skin seared the wound close, though it's likely to become infected later. Employing the motions, an effort to pump him full of life fell on vitality's deaf ears. Mouth-to-mouth, a hard squeeze on the groin amounted to no response. She didn't know what to do at this point, punching the ground beside him with a tinge of pain. Is this it? Was he the one, and I lost grips at the wrong time? I never liked people getting close, something always happens. I don't ever get to see the misfortune, but this time—things were different. I'm not a believer in God, or any transient religion, but I pray that some higher power gives him what he needs right now.

She shifted a bit, taking the position to keep his head supplied in her lap. The gentle strokes of the gradually drying blood, coupled with a shutter of crystalline droplets that happened to emerge. Not by choice, but out of fear. Fear that he'd be lost to the Enttity's clutches; fear that he'd be lost from her, permanently. There's no reset button in the Realm. There's no “do-over” with humans—everyone's got one life to play, and to have it taken prematurely was always a bitter thought in her mind for the people that mattered. She leaned in, muttering a stifled whisper in his ear as one final callout.

“I like you too. I have for a while. I'll miss you if you leave, I really would. Every risk you took, every punishment you endured, I remembered. I remember so vividly it pissed me off. I'm not worth that kind of risk, but with you, it was a different story.”

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