Sunday, 27 August 2017

Chapter 3.07 - The Worst In Her

*Warning: Contains bad, uncensored language.*

Lyra had absolutely no idea what was going on, but she gathered the death dragon wasn’t exactly a welcome sight. Adrian had tensed up with fear, and Blaise’s eyebrows dropped into an even deeper scowl than the one he normally carried. From the backdoor, she heard Sionann gasp as she, too, stared at the new dragon with wide, fearful eyes.
Her voice was barely louder than a whisper.
“Who…?” she asked fearfully. Blaise scowled and lifted his arm, the dragon-wing earring hanging from his ear glistening in the light, and the black dragon they were so afraid of settled onto his arm.
There was a moment of heavy, tense silence as Blaise and the dragon stared at each other, before Blaise gave a deep, shuddering breath.
“Tighe,” he declared, his voice deeper and huskier than normal. Sionann gave a short, devastated gasp.
“Oh no,” she breathed, her hands shooting to her mouth. “That’s horrible. Poor Deirdre.” Her eyes welled up with tears, and she threw herself into Adrian’s arms, clinging desperately to him. Adrian’s eyes softened, and he held her close to him, rubbing her back and whispering soothing words to her.
Lyra stared at the scene in front of her, eyes flitting from one person to the next as she tried to figure out what the hell was going on.
“Uhm, a little explanation, guys?” she asked impatiently. Adrian, the dear soul that he was, glanced up at her, his arms still wrapped tightly around his lover. The corners of his eyes were tight with sadness.
“One of our comrades just died,” he informed Lyra. “Mortis,” and he nodded at the death dragon still perched on Blaise’s arm, “is Lord Leneo’s dragon. Whenever there’s a death in our community from an attack, Mortis goes out and informs everyone.”
Lyra gasped. Plumbbob, that was horrible. Judging from Sionann’s reaction, they must have been pretty close to this person. ‘From an attack’? Did that mean…was it the Wilds that had killed this person?
“Shit,” she breathed, horrified. “That’s horrible. I’m so sorry.”
“Fuck,” Blaise whispered, his face twisted in a grimace. “Sionann, this isn’t the time to cry. We need to get to the base before Deirdre does something stupid.”
The fairy in question gave one last shuddering breath before she looked up from where she had buried her head against Adrian’s chest. He loosened his hold around Sionann and allowed her to draw away.
 “Right,” she agreed tearfully. “She’s going to be unstable. We should go. It’ll be horrible to lose her as well.”
Again, Lyra looked at Adrian for an explanation. Plumbbob, she felt so out of the loop. Who the heck was Deirdre?
Sionann gave Adrian a teary smile before she stepped aside to take Blaise’s arm. Blaise looked at Adrian and cocked an eyebrow, wordlessly asking him if he wanted to go with them. Adrian gave him a sad smile, but shook his head.
 “I’ll stay here, with Lyra,” he decided. Blaise simply nodded and gave a sharp whistle, and he and Sionann disappeared along with the dragon.
“Who’s Deidre?” Lyra asked softly. She wasn’t particularly mad that Adrian had decided for her that they should stay. She didn’t know the deceased at all, so she had no intense desire to go to the base. Although, judging by their reactions, it almost seemed like everyone was more worried about this Deidre? She had no idea what the significance was.
Adrian sighed, and swept his hand through his hair, a sure sign that he was upset.
 “Tighe’s bonded,” he explained tightly. “A fairy.” He seemed to realise how utterly useless that answer was, as he gave a sigh and elaborated. “Fairies bond for life. They go about their entire lives searching for someone to love, to bond with, as their full powers are only unlocked when they experience ‘true love’.”
“True love’s first kiss?” Lyra asked sceptically. Really. Could things get even more cliché and fairy-tale-ish?
Adrian shook his head in denial. “Not quite,” he denied. “It’s rather more…” He tilted his hand side to side as he hedged around, trying to find the words. “Okay, look, fairies are magical. Very magical, and very powerful. They’re probably the most powerful of the classes, but you will very rarely hear about their powers, because of their nature.”
“Meaning?” Lyra asked, crossing her arms.
 “Meaning,” Adrian continued, “that their true powers are only unlocked when they experience the strongest of emotions. They are neither good nor evil, but they have a capacity for both. When they find someone to love with their whole heart, completely and absolutely, without hesitation, someone they’d willingly bond themselves to, the ‘good’ aspect of their personalities reign. The ‘evil’ aspect of their personalities reign when they experience the exact opposite.”
“So, when they hate someone?” Lyra guessed. Adrian shook his head.
Grief,” he corrected sadly. “Hate and love are two sides across the same line. It’s the same emotion, essentially, and hate will never be stronger than love. But grief…love will take you to the sky, while grief will throw you in the deepest, darkest abyss.
 “When a fairy loves completely and utterly, they are the sweet, gentle creatures most people know, who’ll go out of their way to ensure there is more good in the world,” he continued. “But when they grieve…when they have loved so completely, and then had that person ripped away from them…they descent into a deep, deep madness they cannot get out of. Tighe,” he returned to the topic at hand, “was Deirdre’s bonded – her love.”
And now the source of her grief, Lyra understood. How absolutely horrific.
Adrian closed his eyes and bowed his head, silently grieving not only for Tighe, the deceased, but also for Deidre, who in effect, they were also going to lose, not to death, but to madness.
Lyra couldn’t possibly break the heavy silence that had fallen in the house. The raindrops pitter-pattered endlessly on the roof, and then, as if even the weather could feel the heaviness in the house, the clouds opened up and the rain started pouring.
It was several, long hours that passed before Blaise and Sionann returned from the base. Sionann immediately threw herself back in Adrian’s arms, looking for comfort.
Sionann’s a fairy, Lyra came to the sudden realisation. Of course, she’d always known, but she hadn’t understood what it meant. It suddenly made sense, why Sionann was so clingy and lovey-dovey with Adrian, and why Adrian was so tolerant of her spontaneous shows of affection. Adrian was her love.
 “She’s lost,” Sionann informed Adrian, sobbing into his chest. Adrian sighed and pulled her closer, and it was such an intensely private moment that Lyra immediately excused herself from the scene, giving them some time alone. She had no right to intrude on that moment. From the corner of her eye, she saw Blaise scowl and exit the house as well.
She spent a long, long time in the garden, unwilling to go back into the house and intrude.
People grieve in strange ways, Lyra mused as she listened to the conversation flowing around her.
They were all sitting in the living room, various forms of hot and cold drinks in their hands, and a very amiable feel had settled over them. Sionann was snuggling a bit too close to Adrian, the only sign that she was still upset, but she was laughing at a tale Blaise had told about Tighe making a fool out of himself. Her laughter was pealing in the room like little silver bells, Adrian’s heartfelt chuckles forming a warm counterpoint. Even Blaise’s constant scowl had evened out a bit as a fond smile pulled at his mouth.
They were grieving over their comrade, but they did it in such a positive way, remembering the good times.
That hadn’t been the way her family had grieved, after that night. Instead, there had only been silence, as everybody had tip-toed around the topic, unwilling to face reality. Paired with the way Arienne had ripped into Renard, blaming him for the entire event, it was no wonder it had taken Lyra so long to come to terms with it.
If they had talked like this after the funeral, remembering the good times, would her family still be whole? She wished she knew. But it didn’t really matter, in the end. They hadn’t, and her family had been broken apart. There was nothing she could do to change the past.
She wished she could see them though, even if only one more time. Did they miss her? Did they even realise she’d gone, or did they think she simply left for a different town without bothering to let anyone know? If they did realise, did they think she died? And if that was the case, did that bring them closer, or tore them apart even further?
She swallowed heavily at the lump in her throat. All things she’d never get the answer to.
“- Keeper, was it funny,” Adrian’s laughing voice pulled her out of her depressing thoughts. “I thought he was going to die of embarrassment. There he stood, mighty powerful fairy that he was, completely powerless to push away one measly little human girl, who was utterly entranced by the way his wings fluttered in embarrassment, and wouldn’t stop trying to touch them. It. Was. Hilarious.
The room burst out in laughter again. It made Lyra wish she knew this Tighe, if only a little. The stories were funny, but she had absolutely no context, no understanding of who he was, so they were funny in the way inside jokes were to bystanders.
“And of course the more flustered he’d get, the more his wings would flutter, so the more entranced the little girl would get!” Sionann gasped in laughter. Blaise’s deep laughter rang with hers when Adrian confirmed it with a nod, unable to confirm it verbally as he tried holding his laughter back, before he finally gave up and joined the chorus of laughter.
…Come to think of it, Lyra couldn’t recall ever seeing a child since she came to this world.
“There aren’t a lot of children here, are there?” she asked curiously, interrupting the laughter. Adrian wiped a few mirthful tears from his eyes before he turned to her.
“Virtually none,” he confirmed, still chuckling. “It’s about the only rule Lady Alison absolutely enforces. Children are vulnerable and precious, so they have to be protected, especially from the Wilds. There is a barrier around the island, and entry and departure from the ports are strictly regulated, so the Wilds can’t reach the mainland. When someone expects a child, Lady Alison sends them to the mainland to raise their child, sending them beyond the reach of those who would harm them.”
 “So, just like that, people have to change their lives and give up their homes just because they’re having a child?” Lyra asked incredulously. “That’s a bit unfair, isn’t it?”
“And raising a child in the middle of a battlefield is fair?” Blaise growled pointedly, his customary scowl back on his face. “This is the frontlines. Anybody who would willingly raise a child here doesn’t deserve the name of parent.” He glared at her, daring her to disagree. She couldn’t, so she jerked her gaze away, breaking the glare.
“Fair enough,” she mulishly conceded the point, chafing at the fact that she was conceding victory to him.
 “Anyway,” Sionann interrupted with an excited clap of her hands, changing the topic and trying to break the atmosphere before the two of them got into an argument, “I made some apple cobbler. Would anybody like to try some?”
Blaise gave Lyra once last glare before he turned away, accepting the peace-making attempt.
 “By the way,” Sionann proposed, much, much later, long after the pieces of cobbler were finished, “I’ve been thinking…”
“A dangerous activity, that,” Blaise interjected with a mildly sarcastic growl, causing Adrian to chuckle. Sionann huffed and rolled her eyes at him.
“Very funny, Blaise,” she mildly reprimanded. “As I was saying…I think we should show Lyra some of the basics of self-defence. Living on this island, it’s always a good idea to know how to protect yourself.”
The proposal hung heavily in the air, and it took Lyra a couple of seconds to process the words.
 “Wait, what?” she asked incredulously. “Don’t I get a say in this?” She actually wouldn’t mind learning some self-defence tricks, but seriously? Could they stop making her decisions for her?
“Well, it is a good idea,” Adrian pragmatically pointed out. Even Blaise seemed to consider the idea, that customary scowl of his replaced by a contemplative expression as he studied Lyra. He seemed to come to a decision and smirked at Lyra, and the gleam in his eyes did nothing to reassure her. It was positively evil.
“Sure, why not?” he growled his agreement. “I’ll show her some tricks.” There was a challenge gleaming in his eyes, and there was no way in hell Lyra was going to back down from that.
“Bring it on,” she challenged with a sweet smile.
What had she been thinking?
Staring at the muscled monster of flesh standing in front of her, Lyra felt dread rising in her chest. Seriously, what had she been thinking? There must have been something illegal in Sionann’s cobbler to make her agree to this absolutely ridiculous idea.
Blaise was a fighter. He was part of the Hunt. He killed beings for a living!
She was so, so, utterly, fucked.
Blaise, the arrogant ass, seemed to read her mind as he suddenly smirked at her, that same evil, evil gleam in his eyes.
“Having doubts?” he mocked her, and goddammit, Lyra had to do something about her ridiculous sense of pride.
“Of course not,” she snarled, both at him and herself. Get it together, dammit!
“Know any martial arts?” he asked, pacing around her like a predator circling its prey, studying her with contemplative eyes. She felt like a piece of meat, about to get torn to shreds by something much, much bigger and stronger than her.
 “No,” she admitted with gritted teeth, once again remembering how utterly stupid this idea was.
“Good,” Blaise growled with satisfaction. “It means I have a clean slate to work with. Now, follow my movements.” He flowed gracefully into a stance, and Plumbob, Lyra would pull a muscle if she tried to do the same. She gritted her teeth and tried her best to duplicate his stance.
It was a spectacular failure.
“Bring your feet closer together,” Blaise instructed shortly. “You’re off-balance. A feather landing on you will cause you to fall over.”
Lyra gritted her teeth and did as he instructed, but he still wasn’t satisfied.
“Twist your chest a bit more to the right, and bring up your arm.” A moment of irritated silence later. “No, idiot, your other arm.”
“You really suck at instructing, you know,” Lyra snapped irritably at him. He growled, actually growled, at her and pushed her shoulder back a finger length. From the side, Lyra could hear Adrian chuckle, but she resolutely pushed it to the back of her mind. She had to focus.
 “You’re the one with absolutely no awareness of your body,” Blaise growled and tapped her elbow, lowering it a fraction. “Now, stay like that. When I reach for you, raise your arm like this,” he paused a moment to demonstrate the movement. Lyra clumsily tried to imitate the movement, and once again she was met with Blaise’s irritated scowl.
And holy hell, she could even start to differentiate between his scowls.
No, you idiot, don’t move your shoulder,” he barked at her. She scowled venomously and tried her best to follow his orders. Again, her movement was met with complete disapproval.
 “You’ve got absolutely no talent for this,” he declared a moment later. “Keeper, it isn’t that difficult. How hard is it to copy someone?”
“Well, maybe,” Lyra snapped fiercely, her eyes blazing with anger, “if you weren’t so utterly useless at explaining something it wouldn’t be so difficult!”
That same fire that blazed in her eyes appeared in Blaise’s.
“And maybe,” he growled menacingly, “if you had an ounce of athletic ability you wouldn’t find it so difficult!”
Sionann clapped her hands together, breaking up the imminent fight.
“Okay,” she announced sweetly, “I think that’s enough for tonight. Give Lyra some time to process it, yes?” She stared expectantly at Blaise until he stepped out of Lyra’s space with a low growl. And when had he gotten so close?
Lyra tossed her hair back over her shoulder and tried to recompose herself, willing her racing heart to calm down. There was just something in that ass that always managed to bring out the worst in her.
 “This isn’t over,” Blaise declared ominously. “Practise what I showed you, and we’ll see if tomorrow goes any better.”
And so Lyra’s months of hell began.
 “Again,” Blaise ordered from his seat on the stairs, his entire presence radiating boredom. He watched with half-lidded eyes as Lyra smoothly repeated the movement, her limbs flowing gracefully into the new stance, and she couldn’t quite suppress the flicker of satisfaction in her heart.
She loved martial arts.
Oh, she had hated it, at the start. She couldn’t get anything right, and Blaise was a ridiculously hard taskmaster, refusing to move onto anything new until she completed each movement with absolute perfection.
The first couple of weeks had been hell, and there hadn’t been a single night she’d gone to bed without fresh bruises and screaming muscles, but then a day came when she got the movement, Blaise’s mouth quirked in satisfaction, and Plumbob, it was the best feeling she’d ever experienced. Not because Blaise was satisfied, oh no, never that. It was just an absolutely indescribable feel to know exactly what she wanted, how to do it, and have her body respond perfectly.
She just couldn’t get enough of it.
 “Passable,” Blaise murmured and stood up, shrugging off the outer layer of his shirt as he did so. The days were starting to get chillier, and while Lyra knew winter was still a little over a year away, the chill in the air some days tried its best to convince her otherwise.
He took a stance in front of her, lightly bouncing on the balls of his feet and rolling his shoulders, loosening his muscles. Lyra felt a flicker of anticipation at the sight. They were going to spar. They didn’t spar often, as Blaise was way too stubborn on getting her to perfect the movements, and he was a firm believer of practice makes perfect, but when they did spar…damn, it was good. The thrill, the speed, the fear, the way he constantly pushed her more and more until just before she reached her limits…it was a dance she was absolutely addicted to.
For all her bluster that first night of instruction, Blaise was actually an incredibly good instructor. Not that she’d ever admit it out loud.
He rolled his head on his neck, his entire body still the picture of boredom.
“Now, let’s see if you can apply that in practice,” he declared, and moved. Lyra saw the punch coming and responded, twisting her body out of the way in a graceful dance and going on the offensive herself. Her kick was, as always, met by an immovable defence.
They continued the spar, dancing around each other until Lyra finally saw the opportunity to use the new move she had learned. She spun into the movement, going for the opening and felt her heart sink when she realised Blaise had simply been baiting her. He moved his feet a mere fraction and suddenly she was thrown off-balance, and he was in her space, forcing her to back away.
Her back hit the wall behind her, and his hand came to a stop, way too close to her head.
“You’re dead,” he growled menacingly, the same way he always did when ending a spar. “Learn some spatial awareness, idiot.”
Lyra bit her tongue, silently fuming at herself. She had absolutely allowed herself to be baited into that. It wasn’t even the first time he had pulled that move on her.
…And holy freak’n hell, it was difficult to concentrate when he was so close to her. She breathed heavily, silently willing him to back away, as she was unwilling to let him realise just how much his proximity was bothering her. He’d been confusing the heck out of her lately. She still couldn’t stand him, but the months of instruction had shown her a different side to him, and he was such a goddamn exhibit of testosterone that she sometimes had to stop herself from doing something outright stupid.
He was so close to her that she could feel his breath ghosting over her lips. Unconsciously, she flitted her tongue across her lips, wondering what it would feel like for him to place his lips on hers and kiss her senseless.
His pupils dilated, and he backed away with a growl, the sound sending sparks down to her belly. She coughed and looked away, trying to slow her racing heart. He was the absolute last person she wanted to get all hot and bothered over.
 “We’ll stop here for today,” he growled, and seriously, could he stop that? Her goddamn libido had enough trouble as is.
“Fine,” she bit out, very eager to remove herself from his presence. “Tomorrow, then.” It was a little ritual they completed after each instruction session. It had started when he’d challenged her that she wouldn’t be able to continue with the lessons, that she’d give up, and of course there was no way in hell she’d ever give up, so she always promised to be there for the next lesson.
He nodded curtly before turning on his heel and walking over to his outer shirt layer. The muscles in his shoulders pulled tight against his shirt, causing the fabric to stretch and cling to his skin, highlighting every line.
She spun around, jerking her eyes away from the sight. His footsteps crunched on the grass as he walked away, leaving her to stand alone in the garden. When she turned around again, he was nowhere to be seen, and she couldn’t help but sigh, both with relief and loss.
He was going to be the death of her.
She wished she understood her own heart more. She hated him, but she couldn’t deny that she was attracted to him. It was becoming difficult to be around him and not wonder what it would feel like to run her hands over his chest, or feel his hands on her waist, or bury her fingers in his hair, or
Plumbbob, she needed a shower. A cold, cold one. Even Edwin had never turned her on quite like this, and it definitely hadn’t been due to lack of trying.
She set off towards the house, more than ready for that shower, but before she could enter through the door, hands pulled her away and flush against the familiar chest she had just tried to get out of her mind. She glared up at Blaise, but he merely shot her a look, halting her angry tirade before it began.
“Don’t interrupt,” he ordered briskly, eyes focused on the scene inside the house.
Lyra shoved at him, trying to push him away, but Plumbob, he was strong. His muscles were like iron-bound logs, pinning her to place and leaving her no room to move. It was not comfortable.
“Let go of me,” she hissed dangerously, trying to keep her voice low enough that the couple inside the house wouldn’t hear her.
He did, so abruptly she almost fell over as she was deprived of her support. She shot him one last glare before she straightened, nonchalantly dusting off her clothes and paying attention to the scene inside the house for the first time.
It took her a moment to process.
“…Is he proposing?” she asked incredulously. She shouldn’t be so surprised – Adrian and Sionann was the quintessential couple for living the happy family life – but she was. Perhaps it was because she’d always seen them as the happy couple, and in her mind, they had long passed that step.
Blaise grunted in response.
“About fucking time,” he murmured, whether to himself or her, Lyra had no idea. She crossed her arms, looking closer at the scene visible through the glass door.
“I thought they were already bonded,” Lyra admitted, a bit confused. Wasn’t that what fairies did? Look for their true love and ‘bond’ with them? That day when Adrian had explained a fairy’s nature to her…she had been so sure that he was Sionann’s love.
“Don’t talk about shit you know nothing about,” was Blaise’s oh-so-helpful response.
The glare Lyra shot him at that response spoke volumes. Freaking ass. Why did he have to be such an irritating, arrogant asshole?
Inside the house, Sionann threw herself in Adrian’s arms, exuberantly accepting Adrian’s proposal.
A/N: *Reads over the spar scene again. Cringes* Well, I suppose that’s what happens when I try to write romance – clichés and badly-written-fanfiction-like sexual tension. Oh well. I enjoyed writing it. XD I’m having so much fun writing and shooting those two. Some of the expressions they pull are simply brilliant. So expressive. I love my sims. <3

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Chapter 3.06 - The Hunt

*Warning: Bad language*

Lyra stared at her reflection, critically inspecting the clothes she was wearing. It wasn’t her style at all, but she supposed it was pretty enough. There had been no skirts in the closet, and both the jeans and the tops were a bit more revealing than she preferred, but overall, it wasn’t too bad. It could’ve been a lot worse. At least she could still wear her preferred colours.
She smoothed her hands over the top, taking a deep breath. It was time to face the rest of her new housemates. She hadn’t ventured out of her room yet, too busy taking stock of her new belongings, and to be perfectly honest, she’d been trying to avoid meeting that ass again.
And of course thinking that sentence caused her mind to helpfully provide her with the images of his half-naked body. She paused irritably, leaning against the dresser and trying to force the images out of her mind. She’d admit, he had a damn good body, but that didn’t change the fact that he was big, arrogant, chauvinistic asshole. She’d gladly follow his command of staying as far away from him as possible, but that would mean she’d be obeying his orders. She couldn’t quite decide which option was worse.
The alarm clock on her bedside table beeped once, marking the new hour, simultaneously reminding her that time was passing, and no matter how tempting the thought of never leaving her room sounded, she couldn’t avoid the others forever. She exhaled irritably and smoothed the creases out of her clothes one last time before steeling herself and exiting the room.
Almost immediately, she encountered that ass (and Plumbbob, she needed to find something else to call him). He was sitting by the table, that little red monster perched in front of him, greedily taking little strips of raw meat from Blaise’s fingers. It was such an utterly surreal scene that Lyra paused, staring at them in bemusement.
The little red dragon chirped happily, greedily snatching a piece of meat from Blaise before it turned its eyes on her, staring balefully. It flared its wings and screeched at Lyra, clearly warning her to stay away. To her surprise, the action caused Blaise to chuckle fondly, one corner of his mouth pulled up with amusement. The action softened his features, and for the first time Lyra could see what he looked like without a scowl marring his face.
“She’s not here to steal your food, you greedy little bastard,” he mildly rebuked the dragon, still paying Lyra absolutely no attention. The dragon chirped innocently and turned back to Blaise, eagerly watching the next strip of meat in Blaise’s hand. It was gone in the time it took Lyra to blink. The dragon crooned with disappointment when it realised the plate in front of Blaise was empty, and that there was no more food available. With a dismissive flip of its tail it curled up in front of Blaise and promptly went to sleep. Blaise simply watched it with bored eyes, clearly used to its antics.
“Is that really a dragon?” Lyra asked, overcome by curiosity. She still couldn’t believe they were real. She immediately snapped her mouth closed after she asked the question, mentally kicking herself. She did not want to talk to him!
“No, it’s a bird,” Blaise retorted, rolling his eyes at her before fixing her a baleful glare. “Yes, he’s a dragon. Why are you bothering me?”
Lyra drew herself up, ready to give him a piece of her mind, but Sionann’s voice stopped her rant in its tracks.
“Blaise,” the fairy rebuked, a faint warning in her voice. “You promised.” The words seemed to mean something to him, as he sighed in defeat and rested his head in his hand, turning his face away from Lyra, clearly done paying her attention.
 “I see you’ve met,” Sionann addressed Lyra, giving her a smile. “Please excuse Blaise’s horrifically rude behaviour. He’s a bit of a grouch, but we still love him.”
Blaise huffed disbelievingly and pushed away from the table.
“That’s it, I’m out of here,” he declared with a growl. “I don’t have to listen to this shit.”

 “Good,” Sionann agreed sweetly. “I’ll see you at dinner then. Oh, and if you’re going to the base, would you mind bringing back some sugar? We’re running a bit low, and I hate tea without sugar.”
 “Whatever,” Blaise replied, flicking his hand in dismissal (or maybe it was acknowledgement? Lyra didn’t know him well enough to tell) before stalking across the room to leave the house. Seconds later he was gone, leaving only the two women and the fast-asleep dragon in the house.
Sionann simply shook her head, a fond smile on her face.
“Don’t let him get to you,” she told Lyra warmly, still staring at the door Blaise had disappeared through. “He acts terribly rude most of the time, and he needs some manners, but his heart’s in the right place. Blaise is one of the most dependable people I know. He’s like a brother to me and Adrian.” She clapped her hands together and turned her gaze back to Lyra. “Now. Have you settled in okay?”
“Ah, yes,” Lyra agreed, a little taken off-guard by the swift change of topic. “I guess.”
“Good!” Sionann enthused happily. “I’m so glad I’m not the only woman in this house anymore. I love A and B, but they’re out of the house so often, and when they’re back they only talk about the Hunt. I’ve been dying for some proper conversation.”
 “Uhm, yeah. Right,” Lyra agreed hesitantly, suddenly reminded of the first time she had heard that term. She never had gotten clarification on that. “Mind explaining what exactly the Hunt is? Everybody’s been mentioning it and I have absolutely no idea what they’re talking about.”
“Oh! Right,” Sionann exclaimed, sheepish. “I keep forgetting you don’t know this stuff. Right. The Hunt. Well.” She turned to the kitchen, turning on the beverage-maker for some hot water. Making another drink of tea, then. Lyra had never seen anybody drink as much tea as this woman did.
“So, you know this is a Gateway World, right?” Sionann asked patiently, hands busy with the predicted tea-making. She tipped what must’ve been half a bowl of sugar into the tea cup.
 “So I’ve heard,” Lyra agreed non-committedly, leaning against the counter, “but I have no idea what that means. The person who mentioned it didn’t exactly elaborate.”
Sionann idly tapped her chin in thought.
“Hmm, alright,” she murmured, probably trying to get her thoughts in order. “Basically, Gateway Worlds are the first line of defence against the Wilds.”
Right. More fairy tales that aren’t.
“You know how the Rifts can be opened at Full Moon, and connect to the different worlds?” Sionann asked before shaking her head. “What am I saying, of course you know. Thing is, there are some people and creatures out there in the multi-verse that…well, I guess it’s simplest to say they’re addicted to the forces of the Balance. When Full Moon occurs, they open the Rifts, and go travelling through the multi-verse in search of worlds rich in the forces they’re addicted to.”
She dropped some dried leaves in a teapot and promptly filled it with boiling water. A faint smell of mint-leaves drifted from the pot as the water began to rehydrate the dried leaves.
“Their very presence in those worlds causes the Balance to distort. On top of that, they will very often go on a killing spree once they arrive in the other worlds, killing every being they encounter. So, to protect the other worlds, and the creatures in those worlds, the Keeper set up the Gateway Worlds. Oh, would you like something to drink?”
“No thanks,” Lyra rejecting the offer for a drink. “What exactly is the deal with the Keeper anyway? Is it – he, she, whatever – actually real?”
“Oh, very real, yes,” Sionann confirmed, turning back to Lyra as she left the leaves to steep in the water. “I’ve never met him myself, but I know Lady Alison is quite close to him. The Keeper…nobody really knows where he came from, or even what he really is, but he’s pretty important to the multi-verse. As far as I understand, he is very…close, to the Balance. Everything he is, apparently his very existence, is somehow tied to the Balance. He comes and goes in the different worlds as he pleases, but there is one thing and one thing only he does – protecting the Balance.”
She looked into her teapot, judging the strength of the brew before putting the lid back on, the action causing the minty smell of wet leaves to drift towards Lyra, before continuing.
“I know he’s always searching for disruptions and Anomalies, and once he finds them, he either deals with them himself, or he leaves it to his agents. But despite his absolutely immense power and ability, even he cannot be everywhere at once, so when he first noticed the problem of the Wilds – the creatures I mentioned, the ones that travel the worlds on Full Moon – he set up the Gateway Worlds, and he left his agents in charge of them.”
She rummaged through the drawers in front of her, pulling out her trusty tea strainer and promptly placing it on top of her cup. The freshly-brewed tea from the teapot quickly followed through the strainer, filling Sionann’s cup with the aromatic brew.
 “The Gateway Worlds work by forcing any creature that travels the multi-verse to cross into them, and then sealing the Rift behind them so they cannot go back to the world they left. It also prevents other creatures from entering or exiting through that Rift, so in effect I suppose the Gateway Worlds control the spread of Wilds. Once a Wild has entered a Gateway World it will be trapped until the next Full Moon, which will give the Keeper’s agents time to deal with them.”
She took a tentative sip of her tea, and then a bigger one when she was satisfied with the quality and temperature of the tea.
“Deal with them? How?” Lyra asked curiously, a dreadful suspicion forming in her mind. ‘The Hunt’…the name started to make a bit more sense, but it didn’t lead to a very good conclusion.
Sionann glanced up from her tea, and there was a dark shadow in her eyes.
“We hunt them,” she confirmed callously. “We capture them, question them, and let them be judged. If they pass, we do everything in our power to either return them to where they came from, or make life comfortable for them in their new lives. If they don’t pass…well.”
She didn’t complete the sentence, so Lyra did it for her.
“You kill them?” she asked bluntly, a little horrified by the idea.
“Yes.” Sionann’s voice was rock-hard, and her eyes glittered with ice. “We kill them.” She placed her cup back on the counter with a loud clank and fixed Lyra with a hard stare. “Do not feel pity or compassion for these creatures, for they deserve neither. They are cruel, vicious, and evil, and they take an absolute delight in the suffering of others.”
“That’s horrific,” Lyra immediately retorted, horrified that she was sharing a house with killers, murderers. “Just like that, you kill them? No second chances, no option to get help, nothing?”
“They are not poor, helpless victims, caught in an addiction they can find help for, Lyra,” Sionann declared firmly. “Given the chance, they would happily destroy every single thing, kill every living being, all in pursuit of their twisted desires. I will repeat: they do not deserve pity. There is only one cure for them, and we give it to them.” She closed her eyes and exhaled, and the hard tension left her body. “That is the Hunt.”
Lyra crossed her arms, scowling at Sionann.
“And everybody on this island participate in this fucked up activity?” she interrogated the fairy.
 “I see there is no reasoning with you,” Sionann sighed and picked up her tea again. “You do not understand the horror of these creatures. You haven’t experienced their twisted maliciousness. I pray you never will, but this is a Gateway World, so chances are you will.”
She lowered her cup and stared silently at her tea, the corners of her eyes pulling with sadness. 
“I have lost many, many friends to the Wilds,” she admitted softly. “We all have. But we stay here, and we will remain here, because without us, the destruction the Wilds would incur is much, much bigger than anything you can imagine. Innocent worlds, worlds without an inkling of what true violence looks like, worlds like the one you came from, they will fall completely against these creatures, because they do not know how to fight against them. If by staying here, and killing the Wilds, we can save even one world, it is cause enough.”
Her earnest words caused Lyra to fall silent. The thought of creatures like the ones Sionann had described invading Sunset Valley filled her with dread. If the creatures – the Wilds – were really as vicious and malicious as Sionann claimed…Plumbbob. Nobody back home would stand a chance against them.
“Maybe I just don’t know enough to judge,” she admitted. It was as much apology as Sionann would get.
Sionann picked her tea back up. “Indeed,” she agreed mildly, sipping at her tea and closing her eyes in pleasure. “The Wilds and the Hunt is a complex topic, and it’s not one that can be explained in some simple sentences. It has to be experienced to be understood. Please, do not go looking into it any further, and do not question it. It is the way things are, out of necessity.”
Lyra inclined her head just slightly, wordlessly agreeing to Sionann’s request. She still didn’t agree completely, but it wasn’t worth it to get into an argument about it. She really didn’t know enough.
“So, you’re all ‘agents’ of the Keeper?” she asked instead, trying to change the topic. Sionann smiled at her, clearly appreciating the gesture.
 “No, not quite,” she denied, a little sheepish. “Lady Alison is, and I suppose Lord Leneo as well, but the rest of us…we follow them. So maybe we are, indirectly.” She tapped her chin again in thought. “The structure is a bit complex. The Keeper converses with Lady Alison, and gives her his orders, and she ensures they get followed. If the orders have something to do with the Hunt, or the Wilds, they belong under Lord Leneo’s jurisdiction, while if the orders have something to do with the Balance, or the multi-verse in general, Lady Alison acts on it. We’re the ones who actively carry out the orders, so I guess we too, are the Keeper’s agents – just not as directly as our leaders.”
“Right,” Lyra muttered blankly. It was so weird. Two days ago, the Keeper and the Wilds and dragons and all those supernatural kinds of things belonged firmly in the realm of stories. Now it was reality, and she was talking to someone who publicly claimed to be the agent of a surreal being, and nobody would look at her twice for doing so. It was so surreal.
The door to the house opened, causing both Lyra and Sionann to instinctively turn to the newcomer. Lyra didn’t recognise him, but Sionann clearly did, for she bounded up to him and threw her arms around his neck.
“Adrian!” she exclaimed happily, her entire face lighting up with delight. “You’re home!” The newly-identified Adrian smiled back at her, his arms encircling her waist.
“I am,” he agreed, his voice warm and just as happy as Sionann’s. Lyra tilted her head, bemusedly studying her new housemate, the only one she hadn’t met with yet. For some reason, she’d thought he’d be a fairy, like Sionann, but he most definitely wasn’t. He looked just as normal as she and Blaise did.
“What took you so long?” Sionann pouted at him, her wings fluttering happily behind her. Adrian smiled at her like a sap, and for what felt like way-too-long, they made lovey-faces at each other. It was nausea-inducingly sweet, and Lyra mentally pulled a face at the scene. She had never acted like that with Edwin.
Adrian chuckled at Sionann’s question and gently disengaged himself from her arms. Her hands slipped from his shoulders and down his chest, and even Lyra didn’t miss the wince on his face as Sionann’s hands grazed his skin.
Sionann’s attitude did an abrupt one-eighty.
“Strip,” she ordered with a no-nonsense voice. Adrian stiffened guiltily, a slight frown appearing on his face.
“Sionann,” he protested, but the fairy was resolute.
“Don’t try to wriggle out of this, Adrian,” she ordered briskly. “Strip.”
“It’s just a scratch, Sionann,” Adrian protested feebly. “It’s already been treated. I’m fine.”
The words didn’t seem to reassure the fairy. If anything, it caused her posture to stiffen even more. Adrian seemed to recognise the warning signs, as he sighed in defeat and took off his shirt.
Lyra gripped the edge of the counter. His entire chest was wrapped in bandages. A mere scratch wouldn’t warrant that.
Sionann’s slender fingers hovered over the bandages, threatening to unveil the carefully covered injury.
“Keeper, Adrian,” she breathed, her voice hitching in concern. “What happened?” The raw concern in her voice felt so intimate, so private, that Lyra felt like she was intruding in a moment she wasn’t supposed to witness.
“Got careless,” Adrian confessed, his voice dropping to a low murmur that Lyra could only just make out. “Werewolf gouged me just as I brought it down.”
Lyra felt her breath hitch as sudden realisation burst into her mind. The Hunt. He was talking about killing someone. A shiver of fear ran down her spine.
 “It’s been cleaned?” Sionann asked concernedly. “No infection?”
“It’s a scratch, not a bite,” Adrian interjected easily, “so no infection. Lady Alison checked it over herself. I’m fine.”
Sionann sighed in relief and cupped Adrian’s cheek with her hand.
“Don’t scare me like that,” she pleaded emotionally, her voice a soft murmur.
“Sorry,” Adrian apologised earnestly, and Lyra was very tempted to scuffle her feet, or clear her throat, anything to remind them they were not alone. Did they have to be so damn intimate?
It didn’t turn out to be necessary, as Adrian put his shirt back on and looked in her direction, noticing her standing awkwardly by the counter. His eyebrows lifted in surprise, but the expression was quickly replaced by a welcoming smile.
“Hi there!” he greeted her rather enthusiastically. “You must be Lyra, our new housemate.”
Lyra inclined her head. “I am,” she agreed neutrally. He seemed nice enough, but then again, Lyra hadn’t had the best experience with the males on this damn island.
“Welcome to our house,” he welcomed her earnestly, his voice warm. “You came from the Sunset Valley world, right? What’s it like there?”
“Boring,” she declared flatly, and there was something in Adrian’s eyes that caused her to change her answer with a sigh, if only slightly. “It’s very quiet, and nothing ever seems to change. People live, love, have kids, grow old, and die at a ripe old age, following the same path their parents, grandparents and great-grandparents did. It’s…peaceful, I suppose.”
And she was suddenly stuck with an absolutely immense pang of homesickness. For all its faults, Sunset Valley was her home. It was the place she had lived, laughed and loved, and it was the place she had cried, grieved and hoped. It was the place she had been loved, and it was the place she had grown up, and despite all the bad things that had happened, her memories were filled with hours of laughter and fun and camaraderie. Life had seemed so sucky in Sunset Valley, but now… now she missed it with a tangible pain in her heart.
 “Sounds like a great place,” Adrian replied, and there was a deep, deep sadness in his eyes and voice, but a very content smile on his face. It was absolutely contradictory, and Lyra didn’t feel even close to comfortable enough to ask about it.
“It is,” she admitted softly, both to him and herself. “When the sun sets, the town is bathed in a soft pink light, turning the sea purple…”
She ended up talking for a long, long time, telling the couple about life in Sunset Valley. She told them about the sunsets, the scenery, the stars, the way the snow blanketed the valley in the winter, and the way her house had been protected from the weather by the mountains surrounding it. She talked about the exhilaration of windsurfing in summer, the cosiness of campfires in autumn, the excitement of the brisk cold of winter that coloured cheeks and caused the entire world to sparkle, and about lazy picnics in autumn. It was an absolute relief to talk about it, but at the same time her heart was crying in bittersweet sorrow deep, deep inside her chest. She missed Sunset Valley so much.
Sionann left sometime during the talking, muttering about tending to her garden, but Adrian stayed the entire time, listening attentively to her rambling, that same contented sadness on his face and in his eyes.
It was only when she started to run out of words, having told him everything about life in Sunset Valley short from the stuff that had happened with her family, that he finally took a turn at the conversation himself.
“You and I are more alike than you think,” he told her gently. “I, too, am an Anomaly. I was born in the Monte Vista world, which, like Sunset Valley, is an Energetic world. Would you like to hear about it?”
And hell, there was no way Lyra could refuse. Despite all the claims otherwise, no one else had truly understood what it meant to be ripped away from your world without choice, but here was someone who did. Her heart yearned for his story, to understand how it could be possible to move on from that utter homesickness, as Adrian clearly had.
They talked until late, late in the night, and when they finally retreated to bed, Lyra felt closer to Adrian than she had ever felt to anybody aside from her family and Edwin back home. She had been in this world only one day, but things were already starting to look up again.
Time had a funny habit of disappearing on you when you didn’t pay attention.
Lyra stared over the yard, idly watching the rain fall on Sionann’s painstakingly cared-for garden. It had rained almost unendingly the whole time she’d been on Howell Island, something not unusual for the autumn season currently reigning over the island, Sionann had assured her.
It had already been over six months since she’d arrived in this world.
It had been difficult to adjust, in the beginning. The house was a lot quieter than Lyra had been used to. Back home, there had always been some noise. The waterfall drumming into the lake beside their house had been a constant din she had long learned to push to the back on her mind. It had been a sign of home, the same way the fact that there had always been some music had been, whether it was from the radio, an instrument, or more commonly, a combination of the two.
Now though…now all of that was gone.
Instead, there was the never-ending pitter-patter of raindrops hitting the roof, and the occasional hum as the wind blew Sionann’s singing voice towards the house.
She took a sip from her coffee, rolling the liquid on her tongue and savouring the taste of the rich Maui bean grind. Sionann grew more than just tea in her garden, and Lyra had to admit, the specially grown coffee beans had spoiled her for any other coffee out there.
It had been difficult to adjust, but she had, and while life wasn’t exactly great, she wouldn’t say it was horrible either. It just was. If pressed, Lyra would have to admit she had very little to complain about.
The biggest complaint she had, was that she couldn’t leave the house or yard without an escort. ‘For your own safety,’ Sionann and Adrian had claimed.
 “You have to understand, Lyra,” Adrian had tried to explain, “that this is a Gateway World. Wilds roam this island, and you don’t have the skills or the training to deal with them. If one of them should find you, you would be absolutely defenceless against them. Please, this is for your own safety.”
The words had irked her immensely, but in the end, she hadn’t protested. It had reminded her of that night, where Renard had ignored their dad’s orders to stay inside, and had promptly ended up in a situation none of them had been equipped to deal with. The price paid had been so very high, and she would hate for it to happen again. She’d lost enough.
A sudden cacophony in the garden drew her out of her morose thoughts. Chickens scattered every which way, clucking loudly and wildly flapping their wings as they ran from their coop as fast as they could. A little red head popped out the door, looking far more satisfied than the little beast should.
Lyra winced, and mentally prepared herself for the shriek that would follow. Sure enough…
Blaise!” Sionann’s voice reverberated. “Get your Keeper-damned dragon out of my coop!” The fairy was naturally soft-spoken and gentle, but when something managed to invoke her ire…
“Oh, for fuck’s sake,” a voice sounded right behind Lyra, startling her. She spun around, nearly flinging her coffee at him, and pressed into the wall, trying to get as far away from Blaise as possible. Plumbob, she hated him. Living and sharing a house with him had not changed her mind, and she was pretty sure he thought the same about her. She wanted absolutely nothing to do with him.
He whistled sharply, the sound tearing through her eardrums with its shrillness, and the satisfied little monster strutted out of the coop and flew to Blaise without a single sign of guilt or regret. Any curiosity Lyra might’ve once held over the little pest was long gone. The dragon was a menace.
And keep him under control!” Sionann ordered from the garden. Blaise merely rolled his eyes and walked away, ignoring Lyra as flatly as he always did.
Arrogant ass.
He didn’t get very far before another dragon burst into the room, appearing out of nothingness. At the sight of the familiar dragon, both Blaise and Adrian froze, their bodies tensing up. The entire atmosphere in the house changed, going from a lazy peacefulness to a tense anticipation.
“Keeper,” Adrian breathed in fearful concern, staring at the death dragon with wide, fearful eyes.
A/N: I think I’ve managed to confuse myself with all this lore. -_- I’ve written and rewritten it in so many different versions that I don’t even know what I’ve explained and what I haven’t explained yet. Sorry for the absolute overload of information in the last couple of chapters, but this should be the last of it, and now hopefully the story will make more sense!
I did consider dressing Lyra in some different colours (because it’s just way too convenient that she’ll find her fav colours in the closet), but she just wouldn’t be Lyra without her hot pink, so I gave in and gave her pink.
Also, dragons. Because, dragons! They’re way too fun to play around with. They’re pretty boring and limited in-game, but their story-telling possibilities are just too delicious to ignore. (Plus they still animate when you place them on OMSP, and that is just too adorable to bypass XD.) I’ll admit, I’m basing them a little off Anne McCaffrey’s fire lizards (pretty much just the teleportation and semi-telepathic abilities), but only because I want one so bad, and the dragons from Dragon Valley are the right size. So, you’ll get dragons this generation. :)