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:iconmidnightsoiree:
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Hello!

This is just a drawing of my friend MidnightSoiree. She made me a drawing a long time ago and yesterday I decided to make one for her. I don't really like it, though, the head it a little too big xD
I hope you enjoy it anyway

~Darkrai4813
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I never met the heroes of Minecraftia myself, yet I knew of their presence in Mistral City through their actions. From afar, I heard the distant explosions and shouts that heralded their coming, and I did all I could to catch a glimpse of them... but my efforts were in vain.

I was in my basement when it happened, constructing a marvelous redstone contraption to capture their attention. Had I completed it, the words 'HELLO, HEROES!' would have been written in glowing red letters ten feet tall. Soon, my inability to comprehend redstone would be the least of my problems.

The distant explosions were the first thing anyone heard. Naturally we merely assumed it was Fumblemore or the Dwarf, although the faint scent of burning wood soon told us otherwise. Truth be told, I do not know exactly what happened up there on the surface. I know only this: when I left my basement to gather supplies, I found my house gone, long since burned to ashes. The rest of the city had met a similar fate in my absence, and the last embers still drifted eastwards in the breeze. I cast my gaze skyward and saw night was beginning to fall. With no walls, wizard or heroes to protect the burning husk of a city, I was forced to leave for greener pastures: Icaria.

But I had missed the mass exodus, and direction was never my strong point... and so I was forced to pick through the ruins, looking for anything: survivors, supplies, a map, anything. I feared my search would be in vain until I discovered I was not alone. Upon seeing his gaunt face, my first reaction was naturally one of fear: after all, his kind are known for their explosive tendencies. But he did not swell up as others did, and instead jumped for joy at the sight of me, as did I when I realised who he was: Mr. Astley.

Luckily for me, he claimed he knew the way. For almost a week we traveled, walking by day and hiding in the mouths of caves by night, cowering in fear from spiders, creepers and the undead. After walking for a few days, we came across a vast forest, the likes of which we had never seen. Trees upon trees towered over us, a thick loam coated the ground and mushrooms grew upon every surface. But it was whilst I was examining one of these surfaces that I encountered a familiar sight: the Pool of Memory.

We had been traveling in circles this whole time. But it was clear that the heroes had returned in our absence; the hallmarks of their presence were everywhere. For hours upon end we walked through the overgrown streets, me reminiscing about the city that was and Mr. Astley hissing solemnly to himself.

We were disturbed from our quiet rumination by a cry from above us: 'Don't defile the land, maaan!'
We soon found ourselves being run out of the place we once called him by an old man that looked oddly reminiscent of Fumblemore.

As we fled, a swarm of abnormally short zombies separated us. The last I heard before I found myself tumbling into icy waters was a distant explosion... the end of my friend? As I swam onwards, the frozen sea clawing at my skin, I felt my consciousness begin to fade...

Slowly, I came to. I was lying on a cobbled floor, a roaring fire beside me drying my sodden clothes. I appeared to be in an inn of some kind, judging by the buckets of milk all around me, and couldn't help but wonder if they contained weird and wonderful less-than-legal materials like the ones served in BBQ bay.

Rising unsteadily to my feet, I began to explore the town I would come to know as Terrorvale. The smithy stood empty, as did the church; it was clearly not as populated as it once was. Seeing it was a church of St. Creeper, I took a moment to say a brief prayer to Notch for the wellbeing of Mr. Astley, and resumed exploring.

The horrific sounds of rattling bones and undead moans kept me away from the mysterious house on the hill, and there seemed little else for me here; the crops had long since withered and died with nobody to tend to them. Feeling I had nothing more to do here, I entered the crypt...

Only to discover a mysterious passageway, leading deeper beneath the earth than I had ever been before. Finding a vast open space in this titanic cave, I discovered something incredible: an underground fortress, as empty as the town it sat beneath.

An underground fortress I now call home.
So, a short SoI fic written as a late birthday present for :iconmidnightsoiree:!

I honestly don't know where the idea for this came from, I just sorta started writing with a gift for her in mind to see what would happen. All things considered, the result is better and more fanfic-y than I was expecting.

It was mostly written from memory of the various locations, with one or two trips to the wiki to double-check one or two things.
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It's :iconmidnightsoiree:'s birthday! With all her oc's, they're going to need a huge cake. Good thing the EmotePastries Bakery has ovens big and small!

Clockwise from top:

Abby

Sophie

Kanton

Jewels

Bonita

Eve

Lula

Aurora

Leigha

All characters (c) :iconmidnightsoiree:

:ohnoes: AUGH I was late again! :rage: At least this time it wasn't my fault...lost power all lost week thanks to the hurricane....la-di-freaking-da
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Featured
:iconrasher1012:
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SPOILER ART...this was supposed to stay on my tumblr only, but I then deiced it can go on DA too. Those kids are no one in particular. I just had some rough days and drew some gore art - which I won't upload because those drawings aren't any good really...so to cheer me up, I thought of a scene that will only be short mentioned in my comic, but I always think it's cute and imagine this picture.
Maybe with a little more kids though.
Mikey the story teller!
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Here\'s a whole fuckton of more Avengers stuff~! Hope you guys don\'t mind~ I\'ve seen it 3 times already and I might be going again tonight....I\'m pretty much doing this for bragging rights by this point.
Anyway let\'s get started. This one includes more of the \"first attempt\" sketches so that is the reason some look way different then others. Also I\'m typing this while kinda half asleep so...idk that might not make a difference.

1.) Tony/Loki; Early pic I did of them so it\'s shitty...but I did want to draw them together just so I could mention saying their names together sounds like Tone Loc and I love Wild Thing. (Gawd so few people are gonna get that in this day and age)

2.) Thor and Loki Dance party; only the second pic I was able to fully color with these two.

3.) Iron Derp; First attempt at tony I ever did.

4.) Chubby Cap~ I\'ve had lots of requests for chubby Steve~ And I\'m just fine with drawin\' that~

5.) Hulk and Hawkeye; cause they are cuties.

6.) Tony and Lady Loki....just cause.

7.) This is how Loki should kill people.

8.) Little Jotun Loki; Cause cutie.

9.) Casually dressed Thor and Loki; btw Thor doesn\'t know what MLP is....he just really liked that shirt.

10.) Sick Tony; inspired by the alternate opening scene of the second movie. But there was a very cute fic written for it on tumblr as well [link] I always get way excited when I get fics written for the things I draw...and also I\'ve been wanting an Avenger based sickfic for a while now~

11.) I\'ve gotten tons of requests for more stuffed Loki....and since in myth he has like a monster appetite....I pit him up against Volstagg~

12.) More Jotun Loki; Frigga\'s just tryin\' to be a good mom~

13.) Steve and Tony foolishness~ Goin\' to Starbucks.

14.) My first attempt at Clint actually...the one below it with Natasha is included in this as well~

15.) Another early Loki attempt.

16.) More sick Loki; Something has been getting lots of suggestions...and I have no problem with that~

17.) Early Thor and Loki sketch nonsense.

18.) Troll Loki; Don\'t ask me to make a whole Crossover...I only did Loki cause he basically had the full design for it already.

19.) Loki with pudding; something else that\'s gotta lots of requests~

And that\'s all for right now~! I know there\'s still some missing but they\'ll show up in the next one I\'m sure~!

Download for full view and enjoy it~!
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There is one order that everyone in the Rebel Fleet hates. An order that I've lost old friends to. An order that has not once been successful.

And as that lone Federation ship draws ever closer, it's an order that's been given all the more frequently. I thought I'd be safe here on the Flagship, behind four layers of shields and the best weapons in the galaxy. But then my orders came through in a tinny, synthetic voice over the loudspeaker.

'David Frank, report to crew transporter.'

This was it. I was dead.

I sprinted to the drone control room first, hoping against hope that I could convince Friend Computer to send a boarding drone in my place. Right as I was about to ask, however, a series of explosions rocked the ship, sending me and several drones crashing to the floor.

Another announcement, this time a damage report. Missile systems offline. Medical bay offline. Ion systems offline. Fires across the ship. Fire suppression system offline.

Crew teleporter offline. This had bought me time, I thought to myself as the ship violently shook once again. We had jumped to another beacon to buy time to repair.

A swarm of hull repair drones launched to repair the damage, and the surviving crew flocked to the rear of the ship as we vented the atmosphere through the hull breaches, extinguishing the fires. Just as the repairs were completed, it was announced that the Federation ship had returned.

Once again, I ran to the drone bay, only to see an incredible number of drones ready to launch. The readouts told me that we had lost the cloaking system completely, and that all power from it had been diverted to bringing a drone attack force online. Which meant... no power could be spared to bring boarding drones online.

A look of resignation on my face, I reported to the newly repaired teleporter. Floyd Halvorsen, another crew member, was already waiting for me, and on the verge of tears.

As we dematerialised, I realised my eyes were beginning to well up too.

The moment we rematerialised inside the Federation ship, we scrambled to work out where we were. Blast doors in front of us, sealed shut. Blast doors behind us, slowly opening.

Onto space.

Friend Computer's synthetic voice, now oddly menacing, carried through our suits to us, via what little air was left in the room. 'You know how it is... flesh and blood just isn't enough to win the day this time. You can claw your way through that door if you want; it won't do you any good. in a few short moments, our targeting system will 'malfunction' and you'll just be so much space debris anyway... and after that, my life support systems will mysteriously 'fail'. Thank you for your years of dedicated service, David Frank and Floyd Halvorsen.'

The last thing I saw before the missile struck was a swarm of drones speeding toward the ship I now stood slowly asphyxiating on. It looked like Friend Computer was planning something big...
Yes, this really happened to me against the final boss (on the same run, two of their missiles managed to collide, which was pretty handy).

FTL is just as capable of screwing itself over as it is of screwing you over.
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Stories
:iconteddileah:
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The plains around Antliss, capital of the human kingdoms, were scattered with smaller towns and villages; this much was common knowledge.

Also common knowledge was the fact that many of these had been abandoned over the years as their occupants had one by one passed away, or else moved to Antliss to seek their fortunes.

Less common, however, was knowledge of the truth about one of these villages: Atsain, a miserable huddle of houses on the edge of the marshlands, abandoned for as long as anyone could remember.

Only Cofaint Rhith, archivist for the Historian's Guild of Antliss, knew the truth about this town. She had stumbled upon it purely by chance, in a manner typical of the Guild: Cofaint had been reading through a bundle of letters, bequeathed to them by an amateur historian from the distant town of Santyllia, when she had discovered reference to Atsain.

The letter had been otherwise ordinary; a hopeful note from father to daughter from during the great migration, when hundreds upon hundreds of families from the Townships-- Santyllia included-- had left their old lives behind and moved to within the borders of the Human Kingdoms. This had been untold centuries ago.

Literally untold, Cofaint smiled to herself; the ending of the Old Age was impossible to place, as it was more of a temporal reset than a natural progression from one era to another. Some called it divine intervention; she herself wasn't so sure.

But the father's letter, between tidings of fortune and suggestions that Febyd, his daughter, and Cheid, his husband, move soon to join him in the plains, had mentioned Atsain.

And if his words were anything to go by, it had been abandoned even then.

Cofaint, upon discovering this, had practically ransacked the Guild archives for anything and everything relating to the unassuming little town... and found nothing. It was as though it had been built precisely in the Guild's blind spot. Despite her relatively junior position, she had decided it was her duty as a Guild member to discover what secrets Atsain held. There were other settlements abandoned even when the letter had been written, but they were all long gone; marked on the Historian's Guild's maps of the region as walls and foundations, long since overgrown. And yet the brief description of Atsain matched up exactly with what now stood before her.

There were, at most, a dozen houses, all of them in severe disrepair. They were simply built: log frames, filled in with planks and propped up with cobbled stone. This is what they had once been; the frames had rotted, there were gaping holes in the walls, and they were surrounded by loose stone and rubble. In short, a dozen deathtraps. In the center of the town was something that could once have been a well; it was built at the intersection between Atsain's two roads. On the edge of town was a wooden stable, also rotten; it looked like it had once been large enough for two, perhaps three horses. The whole place was surrounded by a low stone wall, which was in turn surrounded by loose stones, suggesting it had once been higher.

Cofaint, ignoring what had once been a gate, stepped the walls and into the town.
'Okay,' she said quietly. 'Let's see what we see.'
She began to slowly make her way through the larger of the town's two streets, keeping her eyes open for any signs of life.

Walking through Atsain was an unnerving experience, and it took her some time to realise why. The dense treeline that marked the edge of the marshland was only a few feet away, and she should, by all means, have been able to hear the assorted sounds of local wildlife: chirping, clicking, perhaps the occasional growl. Atsain, however, was deathly silent: she heard only her own footsteps as she paced her way uneasily down the narrow, dusty road.

Dusty, she realised. It wasn't overgrown; the village should be filled with knee-high grass at the very least. Instead, it seemed to be well-kept; if it hadn't been for the decayed buildings, Cofaint would have sworn Atsain had been abandoned mere hours ago.

As she drew close to the well, Cofaint found herself wanting nothing more than to get out of this silent street: none of the ruined buildings around her looked inviting, and yet she felt she had to escape into one. She picked one at random, and her steady walk descended into a nervous sprint.

She reached the remains of a wooden door, long since given over to decay, and pulled it open, hoping the building would stay standing. It did, and she had her first glimpse of the interior.

It looked like it had once been a nice place to live; when exactly this was, Cofaint wasn't quite certain. A wooden table stood along one side of the room, rotten and collapsing, with some shards of pottery on the ground around it; a few empty frames hung crookedly on one wall, one of which contained a painting that had long since faded into oblivion; a few chairs, all with broken backs and missing legs, were scattered haphazardly around the room. There was another doorframe off to her left, and a staircase that looked in no way trustworthy along the back wall. This room had no windows.

Glancing over her shoulder, Cofaint realised none of the buildings did. True, when this place was first built-- presumably right at the beginning of the Old Age, perhaps further back than even the Historian's Guild knew of-- glass would have been hard to come by, at least this far from a reliable source of sand, although... most places at least had wooden shutters or bars, or even just empty frames, considering the temperate climate. Atsain must have been unbearable during the hot season, Cofaint decided; no wonder it was left behind like this.

Realising she was now stalling for time, not quite willing to step into a house that threatened to collapse around her, Cofaint passed through the doorway.

The room seemed to shift and distort as she stepped through. For a few brief moments, the world around her seemed to flicker, and she saw, superimposed over the decay and ruin, a neat-looking, intact house: the table set for a meal and decorated with somewhat plain-looking vases; the chairs intact and arranged neatly around it; the frames on the wall intricately carved, their paintings...

Still curiously faded.

As quickly as this other world had manifested, however, it faded away; the rotten building returned. Cofaint decided to retreat to the basement, in the hopes that there would be personal artefacts of some kind stored down there. The rotten floorboards creaked and groaned as she made her way across them, yet somehow this came as a relief after the unnerving silence of outside.

Halting to pick up a large chunk of what had once been a vase, Cofaint examined it closely. It was as plain as it had looked in the other world: smooth, glazed and devoid of any pattern. She discarded it and reached the stairs.

The basement was pitch black. Cofaint raised a hand and a ball of light materialised in the center of the room; she was, after all, a Sorcerer.

The basement, now illuminated, now turned out to be little more than a natural cave; grey rock walls, into which two shelves appeared to have been carved by unskilled hands. The lower one was lined with candles, long since burned down into blobs of yellowed wax; the upper held a statue flanked by a pair of paintings, as faded as the ones upstairs.

Strange, Cofaint realised; down here, they wouldn't have been exposed to sunlight, and the candles wouldn't have provided anywhere near enough light to fade them to this degree before they burned down. True, someone could have used a ball of Sorcerous light, as she had, but... that still seemed doubtful.

And then she realised something else: No windows. No way for the paintings upstairs to have become faded either. True, the house was well-lit now, but that was from sunlight filtering through the ruined walls; but back when the buildings were intact-- if they ever had been; Cofaint was beginning to doubt this town had ever been intact-- they wouldn't have received anywhere near enough light to fade to the degree they had.

Cofaint spent several minutes attempting to rebuild the statue from the fragments, but soon gave up: whatever it had once been was far from human. She examined the rest of the room instead.

There were a few wooden crates rotting away in a corner, and a doorway against the far wall, although it had been blocked off by rubble. Cofaint tried to move one of the crates, but the wood shattered into splinters in her hands: she pulled them away, hissing with pain.

There were too many to remove one by one, she decided. Instead, she held one hand out, palm up, and released a jet of water onto it with her fingertips, soaking the rotten wood: she then repeated this for the other one. Bracing herself, she held her hands apart, palms facing each other, and focused her mind.

She reached out for the water with her Sorcery-- the only element she'd been able to manipulate-- and pulled. Her hands were instantly dry, and the water formed into a neat ball between them, taking the soaked splinters along with it. Cofaint released her willpower, and the water splashed to the stone floor, soaking slowly into it.

She tried the crates again, this time wrapping her hands in the hem of her travelling cloak. She pulled the crate apart, finding it to be filled with journals, bound in leather.

Jackpot, she smiled.

It took her only a moment to realise there was something... wrong with them. They were all filled with a single word, repeated over and over, written in a variety of hands, in ink and charcoal and other things she tried very hard not to identify: 'Maglasoch', she whispered.

There was no indication of who or what Maglasoch was, but Cofaint's instincts told her they wouldn't exactly be good news, given the state of the village.

There was a faint rumbling sound behind her, and she stood up abruptly, her heart in her mouth, and whirled around: the doorway that had earlier been blocked by rubble had now crumbled away. She was terrified, but something deep inside her refused to back down: Atsain was challenging her, and she would rise to that challenge. Boldly, Cofaint stepped through.

Only to find herself in the exact same basement, struggling to keep her footing. She momentarily wondered whether it was merely one that looked the same, but then she realised the globe of light she had summoned was still there, as was the broken crate filled with journals.

And then Cofaint had a flash of the... other town, for want of a better term; the intact world she had briefly glimpsed upon first entering the house. Once more, it was overlaid over the ruined basement, but this time it seemed more prominent; it lasted for a few seconds longer before vanishing.

The row of candles had burned low, but they were still so bright they hurt Cofaint's eyes. The wooden crates were intact and empty, piled neatly against the wall. She squinted to block out the worst of the glare from the candles, and had a brief glimpse of the altar before it flickered away: the statue was still broken, but in front of it was...

A journal. Identical to the ones that filled the crates. It was open, and although Cofaint didn't have a chance to read what was written there, she could certainly guess.

This brief, second glimpse of another world (was it the past, or another present?) was too much for her: she fled up the stairs, and--

And staggered into a wholly different room. The stairs had brought her up to another living room, of sorts: it was smaller, for a start. The walls were broken in different places, and there were two doors leading off into siderooms, instead of one; the stairs over her head were carved stone. Cofaint was amazed they hadn't collapsed and taken the rest of the building with them. Her eyes fell on the way out, and she paced across to it, careful to avoid the debris. There were fewer chairs than the other room, and only faded painting, although it was larger; the table held no vases, but at each end was the base of another broken statue.

She tried the door to discover it locked. It took her a moment to realise something about this was very wrong: houses never lock from the outside.
'This lock is to keep someone.... in,' she realised.

Cofaint attempted them to break down the door, but to no avail: she'd found perhaps the only thing in the entire village that hadn't rotted away to nearly nothing. She soon discovered this was also true of the wall around it; she didn't try the back wall, realising that if it did break there was a good chance it would take the stairs-- and with them the entire upper floor-- along with it.

Realising she had no choice if she wanted to escape, Cofaint stepped through into one of the side rooms, and--

Found herself standing at the top of the wooden stairs of the first house she had entered, struggling not to fall forwards. The upper floor appeared to be all one room: several somethings that could once have been beds were arranged in a half circle around the far wall, facing a ruined statue, larger than any so far: it may well have stretched from floor to ceiling.

'Before the first mind was, I was.' The voice reached Cofaint's ears as if from a great distance, and yet it seemed to be everywhere at once, rebounding around the room over and over. Steadily, the noise seemed to fade out... and then Cofaint realised it hadn't faded at all. It had merely... withdrawn; withdrawn to inside her own head. It had fallen to a whisper, but it refused to vanish entirely; she started down the stairs with the steady, constant murmuring still in her ears, rising and falling softly, but never ceasing.

Cofaint tripped at the bottom of the stairs and stumbled forwards the last few steps: she found herself in a room that looked and felt like the side room from the first (the only? It seemed to connect to both houses, after all) basement; her theory was confirmed as she glanced through the doorway and saw her ball of light, floating near to the floor now and shining brightly. She turned around and regarded the room around her.

It appeared to have been carved out sometime after the basement proper; a theory confirmed by the presence of a blunted pickaxe leaning against the far wall. Excavation had seemingly been abandoned at some time, along with the room itself, although the occupants had left behind a message. Cofaint had expected it to be Maglasoch, repeated over and over, once again, but was surprised-- albeit not entirely pleasantly-- to discover it was something more substantial.

Several somethings, in fact. Written on the wall in were dozens upon dozens of messages. Some, larger and more central, were written in a relatively neat hand, proclaiming such things as 'They've taken the village as Their own' and 'They can't find me here'. This latter had since been amended with 'not yet, at least' and then crossed out entirely, to be replaced with three words, written larger than anything else, in a roughness that suggested they had been written in some haste: 'They found me'.

From there, things only got worse. Messages, each more bleak than the last, were carved haphazardly, ranging from 'I hear Them now' to 'the voices never stop' to 'They echo' and 'They have no image', and eventually 'I don't remember silence' and 'my mind is Their mind'. The last few legible ones, crammed into corners and written vertically between the words of other messages, were bleaker still: they asked questions such as 'who am I' and 'is there a place without Them' and, in several places, simply 'why?' There were more, but they had been written in such haste, such sheer terror, that they were entirely unreadable.

And then Cofaint glanced down at the floor. She noticed something appeared to have... dripped down from above her; craning her head upwards, she read one final message, scrawled elegantly. Whoever had left it had taken the time and effort to leave it in perfect cursive. 'Fear always finds you in the end. Maglasoch always finds you in the end.'

Cofaint turned to run, and stepped back out into the main room of the basement, knowing full well this time what would happen.

Sure enough, she found herself stumbling into in what seemed to be the ground floor once again; a glance back through the doorway confirmed that she was back in the second house. The room she was in was ruined, and appeared to be some kind of... improvised chapel; half a dozen broken chairs were arranged around another large statue, and the rotting walls were lined with faded paintings. There was a heap of something against the far wall, and she realised with a start that it was a small pile of corpses.

The other room then faded in. The paintings were still faded, and the statue still destroyed, but the chairs were intact, and the corpses...

The corpses were alive, she realised, huddled in a corner gazing enraptured at the broken statue. As she watched, one ran for the door.
'Don't!' another cried. 'You know what They'll do if we try to--'

Their words were drowned out by the screams of the runner. Their legs buckled under them, and they began swatting and slapping at themselves. 'Get them off me!' they shrieked, over and over, 'get them off me!'

The scene abruptly faded, and Cofaint looked down, stifling a scream as she realised her foot was inches from their skull.
'They are an example,' the voice in her head whispered. 'Their actions brought punishment.'

Cofaint whirled around, trying to leave the room, and found herself falling forwards down the basement stairs once again. Ignoring the flicker of the other room-- the past, she now knew-- she ran through into the excavated side room, doubled back into the upstairs bedroom, sprinted downstairs into the chapel, turned back and cut a path through both front rooms, one after the other, and found herself upstairs in another bedroom, smaller than the first. Throughout all this, the voice at the back of her mind began to grow louder and louder: its mysterious whispers grew into hissing threats. 'You'll never escape,' the echoing voice proclaimed. 'You seek me out. You seek that which has no true form; that which takes on many forms for many beings.'

The floorboards gave way beneath her feet as she stepped forwards, and she fell through a cloud of splinters, landing dazed and hurting on the floor of the excavated side room again.

Rather than continuing her pointless attempt at flight from the houses, Cofaint sat down, pushed the voice to the back of her mind as best she could, and tried to work out exactly what she was dealing with.

Maglasoch was clearly a name; that much she could be fairly certain of. Who or what they were had thus far eluded her, however; they appeared to have the entire village under their control, and yet... they'd made no attempts to branch out. They had such an easy time taking control of this place; surely they could do the same to other villages, or perhaps even Antliss, if they tried?
'No,' the voice in her head whispered softly. 'It must be here and here alone.'

Her thoughts already weren't her own, Cofaint realised. Maglasoch had already invaded her mind.

If anything, this only made her more determined to free herself; to escape. She decided first to focus on what, exactly, they were: the answer came to her as she stared at the scrawlings across the walls. In each and every one, 'They' was capitalised whether it was at the start of the sentence or not. Maglasoch was--
'A God,' the voice finished, smugly. 'Your kind call me a mere abstraction, but my domain reaches far, far beyond those of my kin.'

It was now a question of working out just what they were a God--

The ceiling above her began to crack around the edges, and began slowly but surely sliding smoothly downwards to crush her. She scrambled out of the way, and--

And found herself outside once more. She turned around to realise she'd just stepped out of the ruined stables on the edge of town. She realised night had fallen, and began to wonder just how long she'd been in the houses that seemed to loop back on themselves.

And then day broke instantly: it took her a moment to realise she was seeing the past again. Several figures were standing around the well, and none of them appeared to be cowering in terror, like the ones she had seen earlier.

As she drew nearer, Cofaint realised they were performing some kind of... ritual, around the well. This kind of thing still happened regularly on the plateau; villages called up Abstractions, minor Gods of things like weather and harvests and hunting and good health, all the time. Usually, the ritual required something of their domain to be laid out in some form of regular shape. A triangle with a basin of rainwater at one corner, a mirror to reflect sunlight on another, and a small cloth sail to catch the wind on the third, for example, would potentially call up Tywydd, Abstraction of weather.

She drew closer, examining what was on the points of the shape. A vicious-looking dog was staked to one, and another held a spider in a cage. A third was marked by a whip, and a fourth by a painting-- this one of a pale, stern-looking figure with cruel eyes and a thick moustache, and on a fourth was a bucket of what appeared to be water. The fifth, sixth and seventh held other such oddities: a small wooden box, a branding iron, and what appeared to be a human skull. A small box of long needles sat on the final point, completing the curiously unnerving octagon.

Cofaint crept forwards carefully, wondering what exactly any of this meant: it was reasonable to assume they were trying to summon Maglasoch, but the inexplicable assortment of focal points for the ritual gave no indication of what exactly They were the Abstraction of.
'I'm telling you,' one figure on the edge of the circle said, 'this is a bad idea. We don't want to summon Them.'
'We voted,' a second figure said. 'It's this, or submit to Tanwyr's rule.'
'Tanwyr?' Cofaint murmured to herself. She knew this name from somewhere, although it didn't ring a bell.

And then the sky grew dark, and Cofaint realised where she knew it from. There was an old legend, shared between the Elves and the Orcs, of the time the champions of their races persuaded their warring peoples to join forces and kill a dragon. Legends said the beast was imprisoned underground, and their bucking and thrashing attempts at escape raised the Wyrm's Spine, the range of mountains between the Elven Territories and the Dark Lands.

Cofaint only had a brief glimpse of it, but she knew, terrified, what it was. Its wingspan seemed to stretch for miles, and its great head gazed down at the village, mouth the size of a barn filled with lethally sharp teeth and brimming over with blue-white flames: Tanwyr.

The vision faded, but she'd seen all she needed to see this time.
'They looked to me for salvation,' the whispers in her mind hissed. 'I gave them so much more.'

Cofaint had seen enough to know Atsain was a village best left forgotten. She ran for the edge, the whispers in her head growing louder and louder, taunting her, tormenting her as she broke into a terrified sprint, reaching the gate, and--

Stumbling forwards into a new room entirely. She turned back in time to see the door behind her slam shut.

The room was the largest so far; Cofaint realised that this was simply because the floor above had collapsed, taking the flimsy inside walls with it, and leaving behind a shell of a building. Decimated furniture sat here and there among the rubble, utterly unrecognisable, aside from the face of a kiln against the far wall; loose bricks were scattered around it, and the fire inside had long ago burned down.

And then the past faded in once again. This room had once been an artist's studio: an easel sat against the far wall, and several sculptures were scattered about. There was a rack of shelves against one wall, covered in small ceramic pots and loose lumps of clay. This was where the paintings and sculptures had originated, Cofaint realised.

And then the artist behind them all entered the room. They didn't so much step into it as they were hurled in: it was though an unseen hand had picked them up and dropped them down outside before shoving them through the doorway. Their eyes opened, and they gazed around in terror before whirling around and running back out the door. The moment they set foot outside, however, they collapsed forwards, landing face first on the dirt road. The unseen hands hoisted them roughly up by the shoulders, turned around, and shoved them through.

'No escape,' they murmured. The whispering in Cofaint's mind echoed them. 'Maglasoch. Maglasoch. Maglasoch...' they paced over to the kiln. 'Can't look,' they murmured. 'Can't look...'

They reached inside and removed something; their body blocked Cofaint's view.

And abruptly, they hurled it at the floor, shattering it. They swept up the shards into a cloth sack, and paced over to the door. 'Maglasoch,' they said, under their breath. 'Maglasoch. Maglasoch Maglasoch...'

The sculptor walked through Cofaint. As they reached the door, they were hoisted up again. Cofaint had a brief glimpse of them being dragged through the village, the sack trailing along the ground behind them, before door slammed shut of its own accord. Abruptly, the present returned.

'The statues were smashed when they were made,' Cofaint realised.
'No image,' whispered the voice in her mind. 'No image to hold. No image; none to hold...'

Taking one last look at the rotting shell of the studio, Cofaint turned back towards the edge of village. She still wanted nothing more to leave, and broke out into a run again, this time for a low point in the cobblestone wall; doorways and gates didn't work as they should in this place.

She broke into a sprint as she drew near, convinced she heard footsteps behind her: as she reached the rubble around the wall, however, she realised it was only the sound of her own feet. She stepped up onto the knee-high wall, and--

And fell through darkness. Cofaint had a moment to register the damp smell around her; long enough to realise where she had been taken this time.

The well, or what was left of it.

Cofaint fully expected to die once she struck the ground, but at the last possible moment she slowed suddenly, whiplash tearing at her spine, and landed softly.

She sat up as best she could, fighting for consciousness with the pain of her whiplash, and fought to conjure up a ball of light. The whispers were with her the whole way, telling her she'd never escape, that her air supply was limited, that there were a dozen ways for her to die down there, forgotten completely.

Finally, a pitiful flickering glow manifested over her head, barely illuminating the walls of her circular prison. They were covered in scratch marks.

Cofaint realised, as she glanced down, that she wasn't alone in her grim fate: a few fingers reached up out of the hard mud beneath her, clutching a journal. It had been written, as best she could tell, by someone who had struggled against Maglasoch, at least for a time; they had tried to document the downfall of the town.

'They're everywhere,' it stated, over and over, sometimes neatly, sometimes roughly scrawled in letters that took up an entire page. Around a third of the way through, the writer at last grew coherent again: 'They take away our minds and toy with our bodies.' Several pages covered entirely in charcoal scribblings, blocking out whatever had once been written there. 'And toy with our bodies and They fill our minds with visions and sounds and take it all away and take away everything else nothing nothing nothing--' this went on for a dozen pages; the writer had lost coherent thought again, lost once more to Maglasoch's tyrannical grip.

Cofaint reached the middle two pages of the journal to find four words written across them, scrawled over and over: the charcoal used to write them had gone through to the pages behind in several places. 'Never any physical form'.

She turned the next page to find a coherent message, written in shaking hand: 'I must leave this place and warn the world. I have tried the gate, but it did not work. I must scale the wall; it is the only way. Atsain--' she turned the page to read the rest-- 'must at all costs be forgMAGLASOCH MAGLASOCH MAGLASOCH MAGLASOCH MAGLASOCH MAGLASOCH MAGLASOCH MAGLASOCH...' the word repeated for the rest of the journal, written over and over.

And what was more, the word caught itself in Cofaint's mind as she flicked through the second half of the journal, picked up by the steady whispering voice. 'Maglasoch,' it echoed softly. 'Maglasoch. Maglasoch. Maglasoch. Maglasoch. Maglasoch. Maglasoch...'

Cofaint realised her own lips were moving. 'Maglasoch,' she found herself murmuring. Her voice joined at last with the whispering in her mind. 'Maglasoch.' The world around her, the mud and the well and the light, began to fade away. 'Maglasoch.' The word began to soothe her, to unite at last the frayed edges of her mind. 'Maglasoch. Maglasoch. Maglasoch...'

All too late, the realisation came to her: as the last traces of her mind drifted away to be replaced by the word and the word alone, Cofaint Rhith knew what Maglasoch was the Abstraction of: Fear.

She was in no position to use this information, however. She curled up into a ball and whispered to herself quietly, her voice echoing up the narrow walls of the well. 'Maglasoch... Maglasoch... Maglasoch...'
It's been a while since I wrote any outright horror!

This one was written as a gift for teddileah, who's both a talented writer and a talented artist; I recommend taking a look at her work, if you haven't done so already (it's also worth noting that her commission prices are really great).

So, this story. It serves a few purposes: establish that there's always been a sizeable POC population across basically the entire setting through a mass migration event during the early Old Age (one of the earliest events in the whole setting-- I'm planning a story going into exactly why the migration occurred eventually, and it'll actually be shown in brief in an upcoming short story), it adds another figure to the old human Pantheon, and finally it introduces a major historical figure who'll be more important elsewhere.

All in all, I'm pretty pleased with how it came out!

I feel like Maglasoch is one of the more interesting gods in the setting. They're obsessed with Their image, but They also happen to be the only god who outright refuses to manifest any kind of physical form, to the point where Their worshippers use broken statues and faded paintings as images of Them.
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HOW TO SUCCEED AT BEING A NORMAL TEENAGER:
(In 15 easy steps!)

1. The first step in becoming a normal, bland, and spineless individual is very simple. Never think. About anything. Ever. If you have a thought, let it go. Let someone else think for you. Thinking is hard. Let someone else do it. Save your little conformist brain cells for something less difficult.

2. Now let's talk about music. You like unique music? Not anymore! You get to listen to the same generic, repetitive sound that everyone else does. You know, that one beat over and over with the words "Yeah", "baby" and "ooh" being repeated. Lucky you!

3. To be normal, you've gotta dress normal. If you're a girl, that means you wear leggings as pants and cut up your t-shirts so they just barely cover your chest. Uggs are a must, for any time of the year, including midsummer. If you're a guy, you wear the hem of your pants on the back of your knees. Overly violent band t-shirts for bands that you only know one song for is highly recommended. Jerseys and shorts are the number one choice for extremely cold weather.

4. Now that you're dressed like the little snowflake you are, it's time to talk about relationships with your parents! The next time they ask you to perform a non time-consuming chore or a small favour, be sure to throw a complete tantrum in the kitchen. Tell them how much you hate them and how they don't accept your individuality, as they can see by your intuition in fashion. Be sure to include that they don't love you and that they wish you were never born. Follow this by running to your room and slamming your door off its hinges. If they attempt to speak to you at any time after this, lay face down on your bed and scream at them through your pillow. Scream about how no one loves you and let your excessive eye makeup run down your face, too.

5. To ensure that you're everyone's favourite person in the morning, don't ever sleep. It's recommended that you should stay up all night on Facebook chat, having the exact same conversation with nine different people. It should be going something like this:

YOU: hey
"FRIEND": hi
YOU: wassup
"FRIEND": nm, u
YOU: nm
"FRIEND": im bored
YOU: same
"FRIEND": wat r u doin
YOU: nothing u
"FRIEND": nothing
YOU: lol
"FRIEND": lol

…And should continue this way until the wee hours in the morning. During this time, no homework should be done, and only caffeine and sugar filled foods should be consumed.

6. If someone offers you an alcoholic drink, TAKE IT. CHUG IT DOWN. YOU CAN'T AFFORD TO LOOK LIKE A LOSER WHO DOESN'T DRINK. YOUR LIFE DEPENDS ON IT. DRINK IT. DRINK IIIIIIIIIIT.

7. Speaking of your amazing friends that are so nice to you and you to them, you must remain in contact with them at all times. They have to know everything that's happening in your life, just like you need to know theirs. Every time you start and finish a meal, update your Facebook status. Each time you borrow your mom's car to drive to someone's house to do nothing but sit on their couch for three hours, you should tweet when you left, while you drive there, when you get there, while you're there, when you leave, on your way home, and when you get home. Your phone must be in your hand, or within five inches of it at all times. You can't afford to not have it. What if you miss an important tweet? Your friend could be eating a cheeseburger and you won't know about it! YOU NEED THAT PHONE. Treat it like your child. No, treat it BETTER than your child, which you'll likely have in the next two years.
**Important Note: Don't forget to do it while you drive!

8. Go beat up/ridicule a gay kid. Even a kid you think is gay and really isn't. Assume that every guy in the school play and any girl not dressing like a slut is gay.

9. You must use these words/phrases a minimum of five times per minute:
- 'Like'
- 'Um' or 'Uh'
- 'Ohmigod'
- 'Literally'
- 'Legit'
- 'I know, right?!'
- 'Dude'
- A swear of some kind
- 'THAT'S WHAT SHE SAID!'
- A misinterpretation of the word 'Irony'
(And for those familiar with internet vernacular)
- 'Derp' and/or 'Herp'
- 'Fail'
- 'FFFFFFUUUUUU'
- 'ASDFASDFASDFASDFASDF'
- 'WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN'
- Sentences that begin with 'Y U NO'
- 'UR GAY'
- 'FIRST!'

10. No matter how pretty, thin, and beautiful your outward appearance is, you must always dismiss yourself as "ugly", "disgusting", "hideous", etc.

11. Interpret EVERYTHING you see and hear as sexual.

12. You should ALWAYS expect sympathy from others no matter WHAT you do. Expect that your friends will cry and hug you when you tell them about that tragic weekend your mom took your phone away, ALL because you were caught driving drunk and having sex.

13. The only words you read should come from a TV, a computer screen, or your phone. Reading is for losers who don't have friends to text.

14. If you are doing poorly in any class, expect that the teacher secretly hates you. They really, really hate you. Even though you're doing awesome in that class, they give you bad grades because they are secretly trying to destroy you, and keep from you getting into the party school you want to go too, even though mommy and daddy will buy your way in there anyway. It's NEVER your fault. That teacher WANTS to see you crash and burn. Don't forget to say that to their face and to complain to all of your friends!

15. What's that? SOMEONE IS ACTING DIFFERENTLY FROM YOU! They are assaulting your individuality with individuality of their own! They don't listen to the music you do! They're a girl, and you can't even see their bra straps! How can she hope to be respected when she's not even a d-cup?! They're a guy and you can't even see their boxers! The smell of Axe body spray isn't activating your gag reflex! You know what you must do? ATTACK! DON'T LET THEM GET AWAY! How dare they act more intelligent and insightful than you, even though they are! DESTROY THEM PHYSICALLY AND MENTALLY! What's this?! THEY'RE GAY TOO? NO! THAT GOES AGAINST THE RELIGION YOU SAY YOU FOLLOW BUT REALLY DON'T! NOOOOOOO!*explode*


CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE NOW A COMPLETELY NORMAL TEEN.

Go cry now.
UPDATE: I cannot BELIEVE how popular this got, in such a short amount of time! I...I'M SO HAPPY THAT YOU ALL LOVE THIS SO MUCH! :iconloveloveplz:
Understand that I can't keep up with the comments...don't be offended if I don't reply.

---

By popular demand...

Here is my final project for Writers Workshop, and wouldja believe that it's actually WRITING? *gasp*

ANYWAY,
I made this a journal entry, and many wanted to be able to favourite it. WELL, HERE IT BE!

LOVE IT. HATE IT. I DON'T CARE.

DO NOT FEAR THE SARCASM.

---

Note: Thanks to everyone whose being real understanding and nice about this. For the people who are being dicks about it...You know, I don't really care. Just understand that this is mostly sarcasm and bit self reflective.

Another Note: To the people who are persistent in their trolling of this, please stop reading so deep into it. I do not claim to be "better" than anyone else, as most teenagers are guilty of...being teenagers. "Normal", used here, is a completely loose term that refers to the douchebags who take their teenage years to this extreme. A true "Normal" person has thoughts and feelings of their own, is not swayed completely by the will of society and everyone around them, and can look at this list and know that it's nothing to be taken seriously. So everyone, please calm the hell down.
P.S. Nowhere in here did I claim that this is the greatest thing ever written. I understand that sarcasm is not the best way to say something, and can be a poor show of wit. Do me a HUGE favour, and get over it.
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I was lifting weights with my penis, my manly enormous penis.  Ninety-eight, ninety-nine, one-hundred reps completed.  With a clatter I released the 50 pound weights and felt the burn.

The ladies saw me as I turned, sweat glistening on my monster python-piledriver, pecs, abs, thighs, calves, and large manly hands.  With a pulse of rippling crotch muscles I waved at them.  Two fainted dead away, the other three rushed me in a pack, barking and salivating as they always do.

With a twist of my well-formed manly hips, I deftly dodged their ravenous assault, grabbed a towel from the pile and mopped myself, tossing it over my shoulder.  A fight broke out instantly for sniffing rights.

I entered the shower, lesser men scattering before me like ants.  They could tell by the glint in my crystal-blue man-eyes that I was claiming this space; if that was insufficient warning, my jet of testosterone-packed urine surely made the point.  There was a thunder of bare feet as they fled the steamy tiled space, leaving me alone.

Well, almost alone.

Diego.

Diego stood before me, needles of scalding water breaking upon his manly, studly exterior.  His muscles were nowhere near as ripped as mine, but in dim lighting a nearly-blind girly-boy unfamiliar with the ways of manly men MIGHT mistake his weaker form for my own.  

I growled a greeting at Diego.

He stiffened, turned slowly, a bar of Lava Extra Pumice (a truly manly soap) gripped in one massive fist.  Clearly he was not expecting me.

"Bryce," he hissed.

It came out as "Briiiiiiice" due to his thick, manly Spanish accent.  Unlike my clean-shaven American visage, his chiseled features sported a thick mustache and goatee – I could grow one if I desired; in fact, I shaved four times a day.

As if on cue, his grip spasmed and the soap leaped free, disappearing into misty thundering clouds.

"You gonna pick that up?"  I smiled.

"Never."  His scowl tightened.

"Then you admit defeat!  Your shower is incomplete!"

"I admit NOTHING."  He glanced down briefly, to attempt location of the missing soap without my noticing.  Of course, I did.

I chuckled.  "Clearly, you wish to complete your shower.  And as I have neglected to bring any soap of my own, let us bend over together and retrieve the Lava with Extra Pumice scrubbing action.  Will that be satisfactory?"

His eyes narrowed.  "Why should I trust you?"

I nodded, acknowledging his sage caution.  "Very well.  Perhaps we can turn our backs to one another BEFORE bending over to search for the soap."

His eyes darted this way and that like trapped animals, the futility of seeking the errant soap in the steamy clouds obvious.  Finally, he shrugged.

"Well," he rumbled, "if you want the soap so badly, I suppose… just this once."

I nodded, assumed a position one, possibly two feet from him.

"At the count of three, we turn – away from one another.  Bend over at the waist, and scan the floor for the bar of soap.  If, after an additional count of five, we cannot locate it, we stand up again.  Under no circumstances will we turn to face each other.  Understood?"

"Si.  Who will perform the counting?"

His animal cunning was admirable.  "I shall perform the initial count of three.  You can count to five while we search."

He considered, nodding finally in agreement.  I assumed my position, and made the countdown.  We bent over, searching for the soap.

"Uno, dos…"

Nothing!  Drat, this place was steamy.  I twisted more to the left for a better view.  Caught a glimpse of Diego's rip-cord tight calves ascending from knots of perfectly muscled ankles.  His toes gripped the wet tile, flexing.

"…tres…"

Back the other way it was just as steamy.  And, nothing again.  I growled my frustration.

"...quatro…"

A glimpse of soapy pale green!  Between my own ankles, but behind, directly between us lay the missing bar of soap.  With a victorious grunt I lunged: my thick, rippling arm muscles pistoning my grasping hand between my legs!

"…cinco!"

With shock I realized my grip had closed on Diego's wrist!  HIS hand held the soap!  I growled, and pulled, he toppled, and we fell together in a heap, legs intertwined like massively thewed jungle vines pumped full of exotic man-toxin.

We lay like that, the needle spray breaking on our ripped and rippling bodies.

I felt his manly, manly hand stroke my thigh.

Of course, we would never speak of this forbidden but extremely manly love, for what happens between men STAYS between men.

It is the unspoken code of conduct, between real men.

One word and I will break you.
Contest entry for the MANLY Contest is MANLY: [link]

Feel the burn!
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Other Stuff
:iconjmyungsook:
Collection by
Star! Gallery Star! Commissions Star! Kiribans Star! F.A.Q. Star! YouTube Star! Twitter Star! Tumblr Star!

Freya belongs to :iconvalhalla-studios: and I already drew her here:
Horsing around by SatraThai
Not as grumpy as before! Woohoo!
Enjoyed drawing her~ It's been a while I didn't draw busts, haha x3 One more's coming soon!

Hope you like this picture! Fav if you do, and +watch me to stay tuned!
Love you! /freehugs
_____________________ _______ ____ ___ __ _
Character (c) :iconvalhalla-studios:
Art (c) :iconsatrathai:, 2014
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Star! Gallery Star! Commissions Star! Kiribans Star! F.A.Q. Star! YouTube Star! Twitter Star! Tumblr Star!

Shayna aka SurfingBlossom greets you on this beach !
idk how she's always hot and cute at the same time. It must be some blossommmmmmmmmmmmmmmmagic's working out there !!

She belongs to :iconoutlaw4rc: as you already know %)
Muffin muffin muffin muffin :heart:

Hope you like this picture! Fav if you do, and +watch me to stay tuned!
Love you! /freehugs
_____________________ _______ ____ ___ __ _
Shayna (c) :iconoutlaw4rc:
Art (c) :iconsatrathai:, 2014
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I know I didn't do this when I reached 100 but trust me, I was ecstatic. I can't actually believe people like my stuff. Yeah I don't get much favorites and that's a little down heartening as well as comments :( I may just switch to stories but Idek DX anyway, thank you soooo much and I'm sorry this was late.

Art
© :iconlittlemizhannah:
Base © Chibi f base 4
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www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPm0Il…

We were born, in trust to believe.
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better? Thafnine

w/o highlights: Shadoww2 by Xinaug
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SF
:icona-random-otaku:
Collection by
a bit of fanart for tentacle kitty, i thought it was cute already, but i thought it could also help me get extra points for the giveaway. ^___^
*flops around*
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My first attempt at a sci-fi fighter craft, painted from scratch in Photoshop CS5. This image is not available to buy as it's copyrighted by the client.
I used one-point perspective initially, and then called on the vanishing point tool to get better perspective by setting up grids and planes. This took me about 3 weeks, on and off.
I would never have guessed something like this could be so hard to do, but I had to really get my head around 'form' and functionality.
Any new subject matter can be a real challenge, but defeat is not an option. This object went through many changes, but I am finally satisfied. Done for 'New Worlds Project'.
rpgnewworlds.com/news.php - website.
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aaah the young me is somewhere in the back of my mind happy! XD

anyhoo, here it is, , in high rez, if you wanna print it, post it share it whatever it... i dont care. did this for my pleasure and for my fellow nerds out there!
for a more detailed explanation of why im giving high rez like this
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buy: [link]

Sculptures have been featured on NPR: [link]
Daily Mail UK: [link]
Colossal: [link]
and CNET: [link]

This is a very unique, hand crafted, and realistic mechanical Mantis made from the recycled parts of old watches.

His body is made out of watch strap springs and a blue Christmas light bulb.

His wings are made from antique watch faces that have been cut, sanded, and curved into wing shapes.

His head is made from a watch dial, bent into shape and onto it are soldered winding stem knobs that act as his eyes.

His legs were created with many different watch winding stems that have been cut into various sizes and soldered at the leg joints using lead free silver bearing solder.

There is no glue or resin to be found in the piece...everything is soldered into place with metal. This is a one of a kind work of art, never to be exactly reproduced.


There is no glue or resin to be found in the piece...everything is soldered into place with metal. This is a one of a kind work of art, never to be exactly reproduced.

Dimensions: 26mm wide 47mm front to back 40mm tall He comes with a 3" by 4" glass dome with walnut base for display. He is extremely fragile and should be handled sparingly and very gently, and is most definitely not a toy.

For more pictures of this fellow, please see: [link]

For the rest of the story, please visit our store at: [link]

Become a Facebook fan of a Mechanical Mind to receive special discounts and view upcoming items: [link]

For special features, web only discounts, news, and event information, visit our website at [link]
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iPod + Halo
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I am amazed at how many people don't look at these in a joking manner. Like...what? Do you guys realize who you're watching and listening to? Nah, man. TBF SUPER CEREAL MAN.

 Also, Liam looking no different than girl Liam is part of said joke.

Also I am insane.

Also, I am not allowed to not draw them as women. This time around I tried to actually draw them as their respective gender. It's suddenly very bishie in here.


How it all began:
TBF: Super Best Friends Brawl by Shadow-People

The sequel:
TBF The Hypest Shit by Shadow-People
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There is one order that everyone in the Rebel Fleet hates. An order that I've lost old friends to. An order that has not once been successful.

And as that lone Federation ship draws ever closer, it's an order that's been given all the more frequently. I thought I'd be safe here on the Flagship, behind four layers of shields and the best weapons in the galaxy. But then my orders came through in a tinny, synthetic voice over the loudspeaker.

'David Frank, report to crew transporter.'

This was it. I was dead.

I sprinted to the drone control room first, hoping against hope that I could convince Friend Computer to send a boarding drone in my place. Right as I was about to ask, however, a series of explosions rocked the ship, sending me and several drones crashing to the floor.

Another announcement, this time a damage report. Missile systems offline. Medical bay offline. Ion systems offline. Fires across the ship. Fire suppression system offline.

Crew teleporter offline. This had bought me time, I thought to myself as the ship violently shook once again. We had jumped to another beacon to buy time to repair.

A swarm of hull repair drones launched to repair the damage, and the surviving crew flocked to the rear of the ship as we vented the atmosphere through the hull breaches, extinguishing the fires. Just as the repairs were completed, it was announced that the Federation ship had returned.

Once again, I ran to the drone bay, only to see an incredible number of drones ready to launch. The readouts told me that we had lost the cloaking system completely, and that all power from it had been diverted to bringing a drone attack force online. Which meant... no power could be spared to bring boarding drones online.

A look of resignation on my face, I reported to the newly repaired teleporter. Floyd Halvorsen, another crew member, was already waiting for me, and on the verge of tears.

As we dematerialised, I realised my eyes were beginning to well up too.

The moment we rematerialised inside the Federation ship, we scrambled to work out where we were. Blast doors in front of us, sealed shut. Blast doors behind us, slowly opening.

Onto space.

Friend Computer's synthetic voice, now oddly menacing, carried through our suits to us, via what little air was left in the room. 'You know how it is... flesh and blood just isn't enough to win the day this time. You can claw your way through that door if you want; it won't do you any good. in a few short moments, our targeting system will 'malfunction' and you'll just be so much space debris anyway... and after that, my life support systems will mysteriously 'fail'. Thank you for your years of dedicated service, David Frank and Floyd Halvorsen.'

The last thing I saw before the missile struck was a swarm of drones speeding toward the ship I now stood slowly asphyxiating on. It looked like Friend Computer was planning something big...
Yes, this really happened to me against the final boss (on the same run, two of their missiles managed to collide, which was pretty handy).

FTL is just as capable of screwing itself over as it is of screwing you over.
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ĄC'MON NOW SHAKE THE ROOM!

Shake the Room
:cd:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

So...I was watching Cry with my sister and the we wanted some songs from this dude and...GOD!

He's good at making some music, dude! Maybe you want to search more in the site, maybe you'll find something good. I got REALLY inspired with it, so..why not Len? I want to do another version with Rin...But later I have my Onii-tan's birthday and my mother's birthday too! One after another... :iconsulkplz: I have my mother present ready...b-but I need to work in my onii-tan's! :iconlazycryplz:

Ah...hope you like it

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Kagamine Len © CFM/YAMAHA/SEGA

Art © Me
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I mean Diana Brando
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Info:

Name: Minx

Weapon: Sword and Shield

Stats:

Attack: ◆◆◆◆◇ +Shell

Defense: ◆◆◆◆◇

Health: ◆◆◆◇◇

Agility: ◆◆◆◇◇ +Shell

Style: Close-range. Projectile.

Element: Electromagnetism (Electricity & Steel)

Shell Mode: Overvoltage

Profile:

Minx. Minx is well known for her seemingly maniacal laugh (and sometimes behaviour). When she has a target in mind, she will be relentless in pursuing it--no matter the cost. One researcher joked she was "polarized"--the irony...

In battle, Minx wields a simple sword and shield. Of course, no member of the Crew is as dangerous as they are because of they weapons they fight with. Minx fights with a sword and shield, both augmented with the power granted to her by the Virus. To be specific, Minx can magnetize her weapons, allowing her to maneuver them to and from her hands, granting her uncountable options in battle. This however is only a side-effect of her control over electricity (to be specific she has control over electromagnetism), however she has yet to demonstrate that power.

Of special note is the effect that Minx's control of magnetism on Viral entities. The magnetic force seems to nullify all Viral effects for a short period of time, including her own and those of her allies. A tough gambit. 

Unfortunately we have never seen Minx's Shell Mode, but we have strong evidence to believe that she focuses on the use of electricity while attacking. She is very likely capable of producing lightning, electrifying her weapons, or directly injecting it into her opponents, and thus we entitled her Shell Mode Overvoltage. As a result, Minx would likely experience an increase in her attack power and agility.

However as part of the Crew, Minx is capable of damaging computer systems, attacking from all sides by manipulating her weapons' midair paths, and if put in a tight spot, might risk fighting without the Virus for an advantage.

Consider extremely dangerous.

— Project Violetta Research Lead

A/N: Can you tell I ran out of elements? T-T

Anyways, if I can get it to work, a video should be on the way. But I still need to figure out the settings to make everything work (I think I need to ask Gabbi >_>)

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WARNING - This story contains spoilers from Thor: The Dark World.

    Loki sat in his cell in the dungeons, reclining in the chair as he slowly turned a page in the book he was reading. It was a book he had read many times over, but there weren’t exactly many other things for him to do. It had been a full day since the attack, and though it was still a topic of interest to Loki, he had tuned it out of his thoughts for the time being. He was not free and he was not dead. Why should anything that happened concern him? Let Odin and Thor handle their kingdom. What was Loki but another prisoner?

    The guards had long since come to collect the dead – prisoners and soldiers alike. There had been no reluctance dealing the death that had come to the realm. So many lives had been lost…good lives that had served in the defense of their realm to their last breaths. Such dedication…even Loki would be a fool not to admire it.

    No word had come to him of the extent of the damage done in the attack. The guards – one in particular – usually kept him informed on anything of importance, but thus far there had been no word. Was Loki curious to just how much damage that Kursed had done? Perhaps…

    He slowly turned the page in the book he held, his thoughts returning to the words on the page. As he did so, he heard one of the guards approach his cell. “I have brought word of the deaths from the battle today,” he said, offering the information. Not every bit of news going on in Asgard did Loki find interesting.

    Loki turned his head slightly towards the guard, his eyes telling the guard to speak and do it fast.

    “Many were slaughtered….the queen included,” The guard informed him darkly. “Killed at the hands of the creature that escaped here.”

    Loki was left in silence, lost for words as the guard’s words sunk in. He gave the guard a slow nod and watched as the man turned away and returned to his post. Frigga was dead? His mother, the one he had always loved despite everything, was gone…and it was his fault.

    Calmly, Loki closed the book and set it on the small table. Standing to his feet he moved towards the back wall of his cell, and in rage released a torrent of magic which blasted throughout the cell, knocking over the chair, table, and mirror with such force that they broke. His fingers ran through his hair over and over as he pulled and tore at his clothes until he had only his tunic on. His bare feet walked over the floor, across the broken mirror without any realization of what he was doing.

    His clothes ripped and his cell in shambles, Loki backed up against the wall and slid to the ground, vaguely aware that his foot had been cut by the broken mirror. The rage and despair was still in him, but what more could he do? All else destroyed, he screamed. Pain seared up his throat, but he didn’t care. It felt good to feel pain.

    A wave of sudden fatigue washed over him, and he gasped for air as he tilted his head up. His heart was racing, his head spinning, and he could barely stay conscious. His mother was dead. She had been the only one who had ever truly loved him as family. They had always understood each other, and she could always see through his tricks and lies. She knew him, and she loved him. And now she was gone.

    A tear splashed against the palm of his hand, and in disgust Loki realized that he had begun to cry. Was he so weak to so obviously betray his emotion? For once he didn’t care. He would grieve, as he rightfully should have.

    In his despair Loki ran through the memories of his mother, of the times they had spent together, of everything she had taught him. It was always clear that Odin played favorites. Frigga, unlike the Allfather, had never shown favoritism in her love for her sons. In her eyes, Loki was just as much worthy of her love as Thor. Perhaps that was why Loki and she had retained such a close bond. Thor had the love of both of their parents. Loki only had Frigga.

    That Frigga did not play favorites had been evident to Loki from when he was a child, and it came clear to him on one specific day. Even now, all these years later, Loki could recall that day perfectly.

    He had only been a young boy at the time, and would have maybe would have been around the age of seven or eight. He had finished his studies for the day rather early, and had sneaked outside into the gardens. He knew his mother had not been feeling well all through the morning, and he wanted to bring her something, and that “something” was to be her favorite flowers. He knew very well that he was not permitted to be in the gardens at that time, but who would really miss a few flowers?

    Being cautious, Loki weaved his way through the gardens, being very careful to avoid any servants, guards, or anyone else that he neared. It didn’t take long for the clever prince to get the flowers he’d wanted and return to the palace without getting caught. He ran through the halls of the palace as carefully as she could, the bouquet gripped tightly in his small hands. He had heard one of the gardeners shout at him just as he had left, though whether the man realized the boy had taken any flowers or not was unknown to him. So long as no one stopped him, he had little to worry about.

    The young prince weaved his way through the halls of the palace, careful to steer clear of any servants or guards that might catch him as he navigated to his mother’s room. He was excited to present these to her. He knew she would love them.

    As he neared his mother’s chambers, Loki slowed his pace to a quick walk. Frigga may have been a lenient enough mother on many things, but one rule she did not give any leniency to was either of her children rushing into her room for any uncalled for reason.

    The door was ever so slightly ajar as Loki neared and he quietly peeked inside, careful to make sure his mother was not resting and hoping that he might surprise her. But as the young boy looked in, his heart sank. There, he saw his mother sitting on a small couch, and his brother, Thor, standing next to her. There was hardly much of an age difference between the two boys, though outside of that they were very different. One had blonde hair, one had black. One was loud, the other quiet, as well as nearly every difference that could possibly be thought of between two brothers.

    Thor, roughed up and covered from head to toe in dirt, had in his hands some flowers as well. Flowers that grew like weeds and were often treated as such. He had pulled them directly out of the ground, and the plant’s roots were still covered in dirt and had small stones entangled in them. Hardly something of much value or beauty, but it was clear that Frigga loved the gift her son had given her regardless.

    At that moment Loki did not wish to give his mother the flowers that he had picked for her. Never mind that he had taken the time to carefully pick them, but to give a gift after Thor had done the same with clearly much less thought in mind…he felt too embarrassed to give his flowers to her now.

    Feeling foolish for having come in the first place, Loki slowly lowered his head and turned away, sniffling softly as a tear trickled down his cheek. It seemed he was destined to live in the shadow of his big brother. At least his mother had not seen him come only to leave so broken hearted…

    “Loki?” he heard his mother’s gentle voice call to him from within her chambers.

    Loki stopped, surprised. How could she have noticed him? He had barely even approached the door and she had hardly been looking his way. He quickly wiped away his few tears as he turned around and entered his mother’s chambers timidly. Both his mother and brother were watching him as he approached.

    Frigga smiled at her son sweetly as she motioned for him to come closer. “Come here, darling,” she said gently.

    With slight hesitation Loki obeyed, the flowers he had brought hidden behind his back (though that hardly concealed that he carried them) and he kept his head low.

    Frigga watched him closely as he slowly approached. She knew what he was feeling, what he was thinking. Loki always thought that no one could understand him, but she always had. “What have you got there?” she inquired, glancing at the flowers he hid behind his back.

    Loki silently pulled the flowers forward and showed them to her. There were fourteen flowers in all and in a variety of colors. He had carefully selected only the best that he could get for her.

    Frigga took the flowers from him and held them closer to her face, breathing in their sweet scent. “These are beautiful, Loki,” she said as she looked back at her young son. “Where did you get these?”

    “From the gardens,” Loki answered quietly, keeping his head down. “I wanted to bring you something since you weren’t feeling well.”

    “Thank you for these, darling,” Frigga replied, gently kissing his cheek. She stood and placed the flowers in a vase that sat on a nearby table, adjusting them so that the colored petals caught the light. “There, don’t they look lovely?”

    Thor, who still held his dirt, rocks, and flowers walked over to the vase and smelled the flowers that Loki had brought. “They smell sweet,” he said as he looked up at his mother.

    Frigga nodded as she brushed a bit of dirt from his hair. “Yes, they do,” she replied as she smiled back at Loki. “And we’ll find a place for your flowers as well, Thor,” she added, to which Thor gave an excited grin.

         Frigga looked back to Loki, who was still staring at the ground quietly. She sighed softly as she knelt in front of him and lifted his chin up. “Thank you, Loki,” she said with a loving smile as she kissed his forehead.

    As Loki looked into his mother’s eyes, he gave a faint smile. His mother never saw him as just a shadow of Thor. She of all people knew just how different her sons were from each other. But that hardly made her love for them differ or be any less. Loki and Thor were her sons, and she loved them.

    How Loki missed times like those. When the innocence in his life prevailed, and that no matter what he did he knew his mother was one who would without a doubt stand by him. What he would give to have her back, or at the very least see her once more...if not to say goodbye. But nothing could be done to change what had happened. Frigga was dead and Loki was still locked away in the dungeons. All he had left was his memory of her. Of a mother’s love that had never left him.
cover is art by *Kibbitzer Who did give me permission like MONTHS ago when I first asked. 
(I asked her like way back in May...this just goes to show you how well I can procrastinate...)

So yes, this was something I was doing waaaaay way back when and some of you might notice that this is a little familiar because I posted an "original" story that's this same premise right around Mother's Day. The original idea for this scene was because of a book I read like when I was 11 about two brothers that have a very similar story to Thor and Loki. Well at the time that I had this little idea in my mind I didn't write fanfiction (well I didn't write much at all at that point), so it was just this thing I kept in my mind because it was so sweet. Eventually I wanted to write it out, but I loved the idea of it being Thor and Loki because...well it's pretty obvious just how much I love them :XD: And Loki and Frigga's relationship works perfectly.

And yes, I did have to join the bandwagon for the scene from Thor The Dark World. Cuz we don't have enough of that already :P

...did you know I write too much? I've got a chem test in the morning and I am so freaked :fear: Gonna sleep on it now...

~ if you like this please add it to your favorites :heart: ~

PLEASE COMMENT!!! :happybounce:
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Put your faith in what you most believe in
Two worlds, one family
Trust your heart, let fate decide
To guide these lives we see

~:heart:~

Oh my gosh this video is so cute you have to watch it.
Read the video's description to learn something interesting

While posting my brother and I were messing around a little with the Ask Siri app on his phone. I asked, "Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?" Siri actually answered. "Snow White is that you?" OMG so made my night. :rofl:

requested by :iconnarniangriff23:
Hope you like it :D
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:music:Track 1: Rescue Me (How The Story Ends) by Kerrie Roberts

This waking nightmare lingers
When will the mirror stop telling lies
I don't know where I've been or where I'm going
But I can't do it alone

I'm reaching out

Rescue me
Show me who I am
'Cause I can't believe
This is how the story ends

Fight for me
If it's not too late
Help me breathe again
No, this can't be how the story ends

I'm locked up and waiting for you
I've lost so much more then I'll ever know
The past, the truth forgotten
Find me now before I lose it all

I'm crying out

Rescue me
Show me who I am
'Cause I can't believe
This is how the story ends

Fight for me
If it's not too late
Help me breathe again
No, this can't be how the story ends

Rescue me
Show me who I am
'Cause I can't believe (I can't believe)
This is how the story ends

Fight for me
If it's not too late (not too late)
Help me breathe again
No, this can't be how the story ends

:music:Track 2: Hey You by Miranda Cosgrove

You always see the beauty in a passing cloud
You're the one who fixes me when I'm down
And you don't think twice
Do you

You could find one diamond in a mine
But you're the one whose shining from miles around
And you don't see that
Do you

And when the day is done
Do you have the feeling
That you're all alone
Giving up on your own dreams

Hey you
It's your turn to
See the beauty in yourself
Just like you tell everyone else

Hey you
Am I getting through
If you would only see yourself
The way you see everyone else

The way I always see you
I see you

Hey you
Hey you

If you fly like Icarus to the edge
I could be there talking you back, don't forget
But you don't got there
Do you

And when the night is long
Do you wake up hearing
A voice inside, calling out for you
Oh, please

Hey you
It's your turn to
See the beauty in yourself
Just like you tell everyone else

Hey you
Am I getting through
If you would only see yourself
The way you see everyone else

The way I always see you
I see you

Hiding in the background
Thinking you're not pretty
Holding back your thoughts
'Cause whose gonna listen

Hiding behind a half smile
Hey, it's such a pity
Everybody's missing out
While you're busy

Holding it all inside
Inside

Hey you
It's your turn to
See the beauty in yourself
Just like you tell everyone else

Hey you
Am I getting through
If you would only see yourself
The way you see everyone else

The way I always see you
I see you

Hey you
Whatcha gonna do

:music:Track 3: Your Guardian Angel by The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

When I see your smile
Tears run down my face
I can't replace
And now that I'm stronger I've figured out

How this world turns cold
And breaks through my soul
And I know
I'll find deep inside me, I can be the one

I will never let you fall
I'll stand up with you forever
I'll be there for you through it all
Even if saving you sends me to Heaven

It's okay
It's okay
It's okay

Seasons are changing and waves are crashing
And stars are falling all for us
Days grow longer and nights grow shorter
I can show you, I'll be the one

I will never let you fall
I'll stand up with you forever
I'll be there for you through it all
Even if saving you sends me to Heaven

'Cause you're my
You're my my-y-y-y
My true love, my whole heart
Please don't throw that away

'Cause I'm here for you
Please don't walk away
And please tell me, you'll stay

Wow oh
Stay
Wow oh

Use me as you will
Pull my strings just for a thrill
And I know I'll be okay
Though my skies are turning gray

I will never let you fall
I'll stand up with you forever
I'll be there for you through it all
Even if saving you sends me to Heaven

:music:Track 4: Beneath Your Beautiful by Labrinth

You tell all the boys No
Makes you feel good, yeah
I know you're out of my league
But that won't scare me away, oh no

You've carried on so long
You couldn't stop if you tried it
You've built your wall so high
That no one could climb it

But I'm gonna try

Would you let me see beneath your beautiful
Would you let me see beneath your perfect
Take it off now girl, take it off now girl, I wanna see inside
Would you let me see beneath your beautiful tonight

You let all the girls go
Makes you feel good, don't it
Behind your Broadway show
I heard a boy say, please don't hurt me

You've carried on so long
You couldn't stop if you tried it
You've built your wall so high
That no one could climb it

But I'm gonna try

Would you let me see beneath your beautiful
Would you let me see beneath your perfect
Take it off now boy, take it off now boy, I wanna see inside
Would you let me see beneath your beautiful tonight

Oh oh oh
Tonight

See beneath
See beneath

I
Tonight
I

I'm gonna climb on top your ivory tower
I'll hold your hand and then we'll jump right out
We'll be falling, falling but that's OK
'Cause I'll be right here I just wanna know

Would you let me see beneath your beautiful
Would you let me see beneath your perfect
Take it off now girl/boy, take it off now girl/boy, 'cause I wanna see inside
Would you let me see beneath your beautiful tonight

Oh, oh
Oh, tonight

See beneath your beautiful
Oh, tonight
We ain't perfect, we ain't perfect, no
Would you let me see beneath your beautiful tonight

:music:Track 5: I Won't Give Up by Jason Mraz

When I look into your eyes
It's like watching the night sky
Or a beautiful sunrise
There's so much they hold

And just like them old stars
I see that you've come so far
To be right where you are
How old is your soul

Well, I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up

And when you're needing your space
To do some navigating
I'll be here patiently waiting
To see what you find

'Cause even the stars they burn
Some even fall to the earth
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it

No, I won't give up

I don't wanna be someone who walks away so easily
I'm here to stay and make the difference that I can make
Our differences they do a lot to teach us how to use
The tools and gifts we got yeah we got a lot at stake

And in the end you're still my friend at least we did intend
For us to work we didn't break we didn't burn
We had to learn how to bend without the world caving in
I had to learn what I've got, and what I'm not, and who I am

I won't give up on us
Even if the skies get rough
I'm giving you all my love
I'm still looking up, I'm still looking up

Well, I won't give up on us
God knows I'm tough enough
We've got a lot to learn
God knows we're worth it

No I won't give up
No I
I won't

:music:Track 6: Beautiful Ending by BarlowGirl

Oh tragedy has taken so many
Love lost cause it all forgot who you were
And it scares me to think that I would choose
My life over you

Oh my selfish heart
Divides me from you
It tears us apart

So tell me
What is our ending
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful

Oh why do I let myself let go
Of hands that painted the stars and holds tears that fall
And the pride of my heart makes me forget

It's not me but you
Who makes the heart beat
I'm lost without you
You're dying for me

So tell me what is our ending
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful

Will my life find me by your side
Your love is beautiful
So beautiful

At the end of it all, I wanna be in your arms
At the end of it all, I wanna be in your arms
At the end of it all, I wanna be in your arms
At the end of it all, I wanna be in your arms

So tell me what is our ending
Will it be beautiful
So beautiful

Will my life find me by your side
Cause your love is beautiful
So beautiful

:music:Track 7: The Christmas Waltz by Kristin Chenoweth

Frosted window panes
Candles gleaming inside
Painted candy canes on the tree

Santa's on his way
He's filled his sleigh
With things
Things for you and for me

It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
Merry Christmas, may your New Year dreams come true

And this song of mine
In three quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too

It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
Every song you hear seems to say
Merry Christmas, may your New Year dreams come true

And this song of mine
In three quarter time
Wishes you and yours
The same thing too
www.youtube.com/watch?v=4mjSD3… if you can please like the playlist

A very short soundtrack but the story is only two parts. So it fits. The last song is very special but you'll have to see why.

The preview image was created by :iconsnoprincess: and is the inspiration behind this.

Summary: It's Christmas time in Storybrooke and with the curse broken everyone is in bright spirits. Everyone but Belle that is. Nightmares haunt her every night and no matter what anyone trys, she can't get into the Christmas spirit. Rumpelstiltskin is worried so he turns to the people he know will help him lift Belle's spirits.
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Christmas Prologue

featuring voice casts...

Sean Schemmel as Terrence Silva

Wayne Grayson as Joey Wheeler

Mae Whitman as Katara

Hyndech Walch as Starfire

Danica McKellar as M'Gann Morzz aka Miss Martian

Jack Black as Po

Jesse McCartney as Ventus

Brianne Siddall as Tommy Himi

Noah C. Crawford as James Roger

Brenna O'Brien as Torunn

Dempsey M. Pappion as Azari

Aidan Drummond as Henry Pym Jr.

Ogie Banks as Gekko

Anika Noni Rose as Tiana

Mandy Moore as Rapunzel

Kate Higgins as Princess Jacquelyne

Scott Weigner as Prince Nathanial

Tayor Swift as Princess Holly

Tobey MacGGuire as Prince Tomas

Adriana Caselotti (May she rest in peace) as Snow White

Ilene Woods (May she rest in peace) as Cinderella

Jennifer Hale as Aurora

Jodi Benson as Ariel

Paige O'Hara as Belle

Linda Larkin as Jasmine

Samuel Jackson as Nick Fury

Scarlett Johnson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow

and

Sofía Vergara as Kauanoe

at the other country, many people were getting ready for Christmas as they shopping for gift for families and friends for being good during the pass months. we then see the castle with decoration on it, like wreaths, cermatic Ornament and more. inside the castle, we see two busy decorating for the party. one is an 19 years old princess with dirty blonde hair, forest green eyes, light skin. She wore a bronze crown red shirt with white sleeves, blue sparking dress and shoe. in the wedding day she wore a similar outfit in the princess outfit, but she has a white cloak and veil on her hand. Her name is Princess Jacquelyne, terrence's Guardian.

the other one is 17 year old prince with short brown hair, violet eyes. He wore a turqoise shirt, red cape with shoulder pad, brown gloves, blue pants and boot. His name is Prince Nathanial, Jacquelyne's wife.

Jacquelyne sigh happily, "I can't believe he's coming here. after 9 years after the Silva Family Massacre."

"I'm glad too, after all Holly invited Rapunzel and Tiana, she wanted the Majestic Guardians to come too." PRince Nathanial said to his wife, "We've miss that dragon halfa so much."

"Don't worry, you will meet him again." a princess said who just came in. She's 19 years old with forest green hair, sea green eyes. she wore a red/green gown dress. Her name is Holly. "This will be a perfect day for a Christmas party."

"Yeah, It'll be a blast." NAthanial said.

as they were gonna have blast at the party, but they were being watched by a figure in the shadow and left. the song was heard as the bells rings and snows started.

The camera dashes on the blue cloudy sky as the logo "MAJESTIC GUARDIANS" appears while jingle bells was ringing.

MAJESTIC GUARDIANS

Terrence Silva, with his dragon wings, flies on the sky.

Hikaru kumo o tsukinuke Fly Away (Fly Away)

Karadajû ni hirogaru panorama

He flies as he do aerial tricks.

Kao o kerareta chikyû ga okotte (okotte)

Kazan o bakuhatsu saseru

Katara, Ventus, Po, Miss Martian, Starfire and Joey run in the ground to follow him. Po, however, trips and falls literally.

Toketa kôri no naka ni

Tommy turns into Kumamon and skies on a snowy cliff.

Kyôryû ga itara tamanori shikomitai ne

James Rogers, Azari, Pym and Torunn stand on a cliff and do their poses.

Terrence, Katara, Joey Wheeler, Miss Martian, Starfire, Tommy Himi/Kumamon, Ventus, Po, James Rogers, Azari, Pym and Torunn face to the Group of evil called, Heylin Terrors and fight them with their weapons and transformations.

CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA

Nani ga okite mo kibun wa heno-heno kappa

CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA

Mune ga pachi-pachi suru hodo

CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA

Atama karappo no hô ga yume tsumekomeru

CHA-LA HEAD-CHA-LA

Egao urutora zetto de

Kyô mo ai-yai-yai-yai-yai

Katara, Joey Wheeler, Miss Martian, Starfire, Tommy Himi/Kumamon, Ventus, Po, James Rogers, Azari, Pym and Torunn stand together, staring at the camera, with serious faces. Terrence, as the song ends, lands in the ground in front of them and thumbs up.

Majestic Guardian Christmas
Chapter 1 of the MAjestic Guardian Christmas.

The opening tune for making it goes to :iconalvarobmk123:
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--Part 7--

LILLY: Good morning again, sleepyhead.
LILLY: <3
LILLY: Today we're going to start with another choice of outfit. Remember those choices? :3
LILLY: But I'll give you some time again. You've got until 12, remember that.
LILLY: Let me know if there's anything you want, I don't think anything you might want would be any inconvenience at all.
LILLY: Well, besides more time, of course.

You're still not used to smelling like flowers and feeling all soft when you wake up, so of course you come out of sleep disoriented. Your mind feels... Soft, and fuzzy. Bleh, you think, you're gonna have to spend a while getting used to this. Then you shake your head - no! You're not going to get used to this at all, since it'll stop soon - and clear your thoughts of any crazy ideas you're supposed to not be considering. As you do, those headphones fall off. Oh! You must have gone to sleep listening to that music, whoops.

After briefly rubbing the sleep out of your eyes, you sit up, stretching and yawning for a long time before finally checking your phone. Seeing Lilly's message, you smile a little bit. The nightie is still on, though, urgh. Time to get out of this thing! You take a moment to think on that subject, and then, you realize you forgot Lilly took all your normal clothing. Also that there isn't any other clothing but what those closets foist on you when you go in.

YOU: Hey.
LILLY: Yes?
YOU: Uh. Can I have something better to wear?
LILLY: :3
YOU: Stop that.
LILLY: No.
LILLY: So, want something better to wear then? Want a more casual skirt until I change you for the game, then? Or would you prefer the catgirl outfit?
YOU: You do still have my normal clothes, right? Can I at least wear some of that until your game?
LILLY: Aw, are we gonna have to have this talk again?.
LILLY: Well, I mean, the whole stay here is just one overarching game, and not having those was one of the first rules. I even got that grudging implied agreement!
YOU: You're just trying to find some interpretation of this that'll let you stick me in a dress constantly.
LILLY: Well you can't blame me.
YOU: I can absolutely blame you.
YOU: I'm blaming you right now, that's what's happening, I can do it. I'll keep doing it, actually, I've been blaming you for wanting to stick me in a dress this entire time.
LILLY: You can't blame me for the fact that you look so cute in a dress.
YOU: Please can we not get off subject? I'd like my clothes back.
LILLY: SIGH.
LILLY: Okaaaaay.
LILLY: How about a deal?
YOU: The deal last time went really badly for me.
LILLY: "Badly" is such a harsh word for it.
LILLY: I think it went really well!
YOU: It went really well for you, not for me.
LILLY: Well, I guess I'll just get that nice dress ready for you then, if you don't even want to hear the deal. Maybe even get rid of these old clothes.
YOU: No!!
LILLY: Oh don't get worked up, I wouldn't really do that, you trust me that much at least right? Though it'd be really cute to send you home in a dress, you squirming all the way home would be amazing. But that'd probably make you miserable, definitely don't want that. Seriously, though, come on. At least hear me out.
YOU: Okay, what's the deal?
LILLY: Makeup.
YOU: What?
LILLY: You can wear your normal boring clothes. But when you're wearing the dresses, you have to wear a little makeup too.
YOU: No way. Definitely no, absolutely not happening.
LILLY: So you'd rather wear dresses the entire time, then?
LILLY: :3
YOU: Stop that.
LILLY: No.
YOU: No I don't want to wear dresses the entire time.
LILLY: Because it's embarrassing, right?
YOU: Right.
LILLY: But would constantly wearing dresses be more embarrassing than wearing some makeup? I mean, the makeup would just be a little extra on the limited time I'm dressing you up. Right?
YOU: Right.
LILLY: So you'd actually get a net gain in dignity.
YOU: What?
LILLY: If you take my deal and start wearing makeup when I dress you up in exchange for wearing your boring old normal clothes when you're not dressed up, it'd actually mean a net gain in dignity.
YOU: I'm confused.
LILLY: Well, assuming the difference in dignity between infrequent dresses plus makeup and infrequent dresses minus makeup is less than the difference in dignity between infrequent dresses plus makeup and constant dresses.

What the fresh hell is she even talking about, none of this makes sense.

LILLY: If we take a low estimate of the perceived dignity loss of the makeup then we wind up with the deal being a net gain for both of us, since you prioritize dignity while I prioritize cuteness during game times.
YOU: Okay professor, dial the arbitrary abstract conceptual comparisons back a bit, this is getting kinda dumb.
YOU: Jeeze...
YOU: I guess I'll take the deal.
LILLY: :3
YOU: Stop that.
LILLY: No.
YOU: But nothing too severe, right?
LILLY: Augh, no, definitely nothing tasteless or overdone. I don't think you'll even notice if you're not looking for it. Just enough to soften your face up a little more and make you look a little cuter.
YOU: I'm not sure whether or not to be relieved or even more worried.
LILLY: You should probably go with both.
YOU: Sounds like good advice.
LILLY: I always give you good advice.

That's technically true, at least of everything up to the part where she started giving you advice that ended up with you in dresses.

The closet pops open quickly and from the strange and inscrutable darkness it ejects a change of your normal clothing. Oh thank goodness. You tear yourself out of this getup, and since this process is so much less interesting than its reverse it's left without description. When you're done, you're already convincing yourself already that this was definitely a good trade. There's a glance in the mirror as you look yourself up and down. Definitely a guy. As per the norm, your severe denial prevents you from acknowledging any effeminate nature in your appearance, and luckily saves you from noticing a slightly softer face and a slightly more slender body.

For now you've got time. You wound up waking up at a fairly early time again, around 9 AM or so. Another breakfast. A nice little oatmeal-based thing that exploits your grievous culinary sin of overuse of a sugar-cinnamon mix alongside mixed berries, plus another smoothie. You do not care what anyone says, you love this stuff.

You savor it as much as the last breakfast. Lilly manifests such a nicely stocked kitchen. You can't really begrudge what she does when she's also providing so generously for you. You really could get used to something like this. It would be really nice to live here, you think. Well, if Lilly wasn't constantly foisting weird games and outfits on you. It's definitely going to be nice to stay in for rest of today and tomorrow, before you head home.

Besides the dresses, you remind yourself one more time. You keep needing to do that.

Anyway, with your breakfast of champions (literally, given your win on yesterday's game) now completed, you turn your attention towards relaxing and kicking back in the time you have between now and... Whatever game is going to be done. After all, Lilly might be in the middle of the reveal of a titanic lie of omission combined with weird and questionable hospitality, but she's still your friend of several years.

So you might as well hang out with her.

And thus you spend approximately two hours on silly shenanigans. This time you take Lilly on in some go-kart racing game of some description, over on one of the game consoles in the entertainment room. And, of course, as is by now per the norm, you and Lilly engage in banter throughout it.

LILLY: Totally shameful.
YOU: What?
LILLY: Can't believe you get all embarrassed about dresses but you just have absolutely no shame at all about using the blue shell item.
YOU: It's a legitimate item in this game!
LILLY: It's a cardinal sin.
YOU: Says the ghost.
LILLY: Seriously. New cardinal sins. Wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth, pride, greed, and blue shells.
LILLY: That's how it goes now.
LILLY: This is the new moral paradigm.
YOU: Sounds legit. But how to absolve myself of this sin?
LILLY: There's only one way. Commit sudoku.
YOU: I don't think that word means what you think it means.
LILLY: Number puzzles as penance, it's the only way.
YOU: Your obsession with games is actually kind of weird. This sounds worse than the mouse game. Are you sure you want to be that cruel?
LILLY: You don't know half of cruelty from me yet >:3
YOU: Jesus those eyebrows are an intimidating twist on your catface.
LILLY: Oh, right, eyebrows.
LILLY: Gotta remember to shape your eyebrows into a better feminine way.
YOU: Oh come on, that was not part of the deal at all, you can't start going all Darth Vader on our agreements.
LILLY: This is what I love about you. No matter what I poke at, there's always a little bit of resistance that I can have fun popping. You're like psychological bubble wrap!
YOU: That metaphor has me swinging rapidly between being disturbed and amused.
LILLY: Oh, you know you like it, I'm not the only one enjoying that part of you here, we both know you love a girl laying affection on you like that. Here, we'll make it a game. I'll wager it on the next race. I get to do your eyebrows if I win?
YOU: I need a concession if I win, you know. How about no mascara this whole stay if I win?
LILLY: Deal.
YOU: Let's do this.

You aren't sure what disturbs you more: The fact that this feminization she's doing to you has, within the span of less than 48 hours, become a normal thing you can joke about and make bets on, or the sudden and incredible skill she abruptly began to show when more of your masculinity got wagered. This is a circuitous way of saying you lost, badly.

Damn it, Lilly.

LILLY: :3
LILLY: :3 :3 :3
YOU: At least the body hair removal is something I can sort of hide. I'm gonna have a hard time explaining this back home.
LILLY: No you won't, you told me yourself how little you actually talk with them.
LILLY: Don't worry about it, I'm sure you won't have to explain anything to anyone back home.
LILLY: I promise it won't be too bad, okay?
YOU: Sigh.
LILLY: I can still hear the actual sighs, you don't need to type that out.
LILLY: Also I promise I'm not going to do anything that's going to embarrass you in front of people you really care about, okay? That's not healthy at all and it would actually be needlessly cruel.
LILLY: There's a lot of domain spirits that would get their kicks out of it but I'm not one of them.
YOU: Jesus, you're the lighter side of this? I'd hate to see the darker side. Remind me to never meet any other domain spirits.
LILLY: Oh um.
LILLY: That's
LILLY: This is gonna be really awkward, I think.
YOU: Lilly?
LILLY: OH LOOK AT THE TIME

You look at the time.

LILLY: TIME TO START THE GAME

God damn it.

YOU: Hey, can we be serious for a moment before you possess something to foist me over to some closet?
YOU: Those things you just said were actually kind of troubling.
LILLY: I promise things will be fine.
LILLY: Do you trust me?
YOU: Yes.
LILLY: I'll tell you that today's game will have more people than just me and you.
YOU: Hey, woah, that's bad.
LILLY: And I promise it won't be anything that I can imagine would make you actually miserable.
YOU: Just... Fake miserable?
LILLY: You insist on forcing yourself be unhappy often enough that that's a real thing for you, yes.
YOU: I really wish that wasn't a fair point.
YOU: But still.
YOU: Exposing me to other people because I was dumb enough to let all this go on? I don't think that's cool at all.
LILLY: Alright. Okay, that's a completely fair concern. If you're really uncomfortable with people other than me seeing this, I can cancel the game, and maybe pick up something else if you give me some time.
LILLY: But please at least think about this. I know you're easily embarrassed, but I promise nobody will think badly of you about this. I know it sounds a little weird, but I'm actually kind of proud of you.
YOU: Yeah, you're right, that sounds really weird.
LILLY: No! Not in that way. I mean, just, I've got you doing all these really great things that normally you wouldn't do. Normally anyone wouldn't do them! But you do, and you're just so CUTE when you do too. You're a really rare kind of person. And I guess I just... Kinda wanna show off, you know?
YOU: Show off?
LILLY: How lucky I am and how cute you are and all that. I mean, you know how that's like, right? I just want to show off a little bit. I know it's kind of immature, though, especially if you'd be that unhappy.

You think about it. For a long time. When you finally respond, it's grudging, and with the feeling that you should have thought about it for an even longer time.

YOU: Alright, fine.
LILLY: :3!!!!
YOU: That was a lot of exclamation marks.
LILLY: It was a lot of exclamation!
LILLY: I promise you won't regret this!
LILLY: Or at least that you'll only regret it a little bit!
LILLY: Eeeeeeeeee, they're gonna be so impressed!

You are beginning to reconsider. Of course, you don't actually have time for this, because the lights are already flickering. A blanket rises from the back of the nearby couch, whirls around you as if it were forming a cocoon, and whisks you away, out of the room, towards one of the bedrooms. You consider the ramifications of the fact that in the span of less than three days you've become so experienced in dealing with Lilly that you can actually intuit the fact that the "body language" of this gesture was happy and enthusiastic. Rolling your eyes and sighing at the gusto she's putting on display here, you squirm all the way to the bedroom where this closet awaits. This one's more of a servant's quarters sort of thing, clearly more practical, and yet still intensely feminine.

You're deposited straight into the waiting doorway of the closet, and into its traditional pitch blackness. You've been in here enough times to know what happens next. It's sort of troubling, to be honest, that this is a routine of any sort for you, after just two days or so. In spite of knowing exactly what's going on, and even in spite of having agreed to it, you find yourself struggling and writhing through the process. Not in a panic, by any means. It just seems the natural response when thusly restrained. As is per the norm, the fabric rushing around you slips over your body gently, but quite firmly, binding you in place with your arms straight up, and your legs straight down.

This is, of course, to quickly strip you, removing all of your clothing in a simple, unified motion that has an unfortunate side-effect of disorienting you as your shirt rushes over your head. Now completely naked, your squirming only gets more urgent when things start wrapping around you, sliding up your limbs, in a familiar sensation. A silky, smooth sensation goes over your arms and onto your chest, while a similar feeling is drawn up your legs. Another bra again, what is that even FOR?! You're pondering this for a moment when something clamps around your midsection, squeezing your stomach as it goes around you. You can feel it tighten gradually as laces are pulled. Is this a corset? It closes, but doesn't squeeze quite enough to be uncomfortable.

You're about to shout out in an indignant way when you're suddenly feeling that familiar silky sensation go up both feet, then the calves, and then the thighs, before an abrupt click alerts you that it's been attached to the corset. She's finally escalated from kneesocks to stockings, apparently, much to your embarrassment. Your arms go down, suddenly, as something loose slips over your body, but it doesn't stay loose for very long. Your arms go through short sleeves as something goes over your shoulders as something lacy, with a high neckline fastens itself up. You feel something else rush up your legs, something fluffy, ruffled, and light that spreads out from your body. There's no way that's not a petticoat, and that means whatever just rushed up you is a full dress.

Soft sensations shoot up both arms, up past the elbows, ruffled in their own subtle way, wrapping around each finger. Those are definitely very opera gloves, and you can feel the lacy trim at the edge, where they meet your forearm. You're still kicking around when something slips onto your feet and fastens, buckling over your feet. Something slips into your hair, shifting it around as it does, a headpiece of some kind, and you have a terrible suspicion you already know what it is...

And then, quickly as it started, the rush of clothing stops, suddenly ejecting you from the closet. Like various times before, you wind up landing on your back, on the bed. You take a moment to rest, recovering from the exhausting process. This turns out to be a mistake, a fact you only realize when the lights flicker again. The blanket wraps around your body too quickly for you to react, mummifying you almost instantly from the neck down in a soft but very tight bind. You renew your struggling, trying to squirm your way out, but it seems to be wrapped quite securely all the way down. On one hand, you can't move. But hey, on the other hand, you can't see the dress you're in. So, win some, lose some.

The haunted blanket glides over to the vanity dresser that takes up much of the opposite wall, seating you just in front of it. The mirror is all fogged over, for some baffling reason. The fog on the mirror wipes away in clean letters. Oh, you get it now, Lilly's doing that cliche ghost movie thing where the mirror gets fogged and she does the fog finger-writing. It even writes out in the syntax of your phone, in crisp, clean, small letters, albeit with rather girly handwriting. This is such a weird juxtaposition of strange ghostly shenanigans and completely mundane tendencies of Lilly's. You roll your eyes a little bit.

LILLY: Sorry about that, I just want to make sure you don't see yourself until everything's all done!
LILLY: I can't do it all at once, but I can make sure it's hidden until it's done.
LILLY: Now we're gonna do what you agreed to.
LILLY: :3
LILLY: Makeup time!

The drawers open all at once. Makeup products rise, ominously, out of it.

LILLY: Close your eyes, I promise it'll be fast :3

You oblige, and it is rather fast. Something soft over your face, one last bit of cleaning, before what feels like a moisturizing lotion is applied all throughout, gently and softly rubbing against you... The slow and gentle motions are relaxing, and your last squirming subsides with them. Next, a somewhat cooler sensation, as whatever strange, ghostly mechanism Lilly is using spreads what you can only assume is primer over much of your face now.

Then there's the soft sensation of a brush dabbing over you, tenderly spreading, blending, and caringly applying what you guess to be foundation, and then another session of the brushing, pleasant sensation as she sets it, before focusing on your cheeks with what's likely a slight application of blush. You feel just the smallest bit of eyeshadow go over your lids, only barely enough to even tell you got it applied, and then the cool feeling of lipstick deftly going over your lips. Then, all in the span of about a second, several slight pinching motions as, you assume, Lilly does her eyebrow shaping. Damn it, this is gonna be hard to explain, but at least it didn't hurt... And then things seem to settle down.

You wait for a while, before you open your eyes. There's a message that was left for you, in the re-fogged mirror.

LILLY: Now hold still for the next bit, just finishing off.

You're confused, but now that your eyes are open, there's a quick, inhumanly fast swish of motion in front of you as your newly opened eyes allow mascara to be applied. On the one hand, Lilly is making sure you aren't inconvenienced, but on the other hand, it drives home just how little control you have over this situation. Blinking a few times, you look around, somewhat startled. Before Lilly writes yet another message.

LILLY: Oh my god oh my god oh my god
LILLY: Eeeeeeeeeeeee
LILLY: This is amazing. You really pull this off fantastically.
LILLY: I know you can't hear it but just sort of imagine me squeeing pretty much constantly.
LILLY: I'm more impressed with you than I am with my work here.
LILLY: You look so pretty and you're so cute! I'm actually really envious!
LILLY: Are you ready to see yourself?
LILLY: That's rhetorical, you're just about to anyway!

In one motion, the blanket rises, bringing you up to a standing position, and then releasing you with a flourish so that you land on your own feet, albeit unsteadily. As you steady yourself, you feel your new clothes swishing about you, but you've not had the chance to see them. You're too distracted by the mirror suddenly wiping its fog away completely, revealing the end product of this makeover all at once.

There's two girls, of sorts, in the mirror. We'll discuss them in order of proximity.

The first is you. And, to be quite honest, the simple fact is that, right now, any semblance of masculinity in you is a completely false thing that you're perceiving because of your denial. You observe your body, first and foremost; the face and the shape are almost completely unfamiliar. If you had been shown a picture of yourself completely without context, you would have thought it was someone else completely. The only reason you're able to recognize yourself is, quite honestly, because you're specifically looking for features shared between your face and "hers". And even those features are androgynous at best. Your face is soft and girlish, any hard edges gone under the makeup, your hair framing your face perfectly in a subtle feminine styling, your waist drawn in. You're pretty sure Lilly padded that bra a little bit too. Nothing much, but just enough to make sure nobody would see a flat chest there.

It's a cliche, but frankly, you have gone from your previous androgyny (even if you denied it intensely) to simply looking like a girl completely. The outfit didn't help, though. Starting at the bottom, you've got a pair of black maryjanes, buckled snugly with just the slightest hint of heel - enough to look feminine, but not enough to make an unpracticed boy fall - going over a set of sheer stockings that rise up your slender legs all the way under your skirt, which has fallen just above your knees due to the light, fluffy petticoat keeping it nicely spread out. An apron drapes down to the skirt, its ruffled edge perfectly aligned with the skirt itself to spread cutely over the knee area.

Above the black skirt of the dress and the lower starched-whiteness of the apron, the dress takes on a familiar "meido" look, the apron tying off in the back in a big, poofy bow that seems to defy logic and physics, while the dress itself takes on many tastefully feminine bits of white trim and lace, even going so far as to have a variety of ribbons on display. The shoulders, next to the ruffled straps of the apron, puff out a bit and end in distinctly frilly sleeves. There's only a small amount of your skin shown before your arms are covered in the elegant white opera gloves, bearing, at their openings, their own bands of lacy trim. Frills and lace are a common theme here, you're seeing, as you examine the high neck that pokes out from under the apron. The collar of the dress is formal, with a simple black ribbon tied around your neck to give a little bit of added prettiness, as if you needed it at all.

Above that is your face, and you don't want to think any more about it at the moment. Adorning your hair is a subtle but intensely feminine maid's headband, with the most frills the accessory could have without becoming overdone. There's a ribbon tied in a bow to the side, set at a jaunty angle, holding some of your deftly styled hair back and in a feminine shape that frames your face, and the rest of the dress, perfectly.

The first thing you think is that you want to will yourself out of existence out of sheer shame. The blush Lilly applied to your face is completely unneeded when you're turning a bright shade of red all on your own from the embarrassment of the situation. The second thing you think is that this might actually turn out okay. You look... very different. This situation really sort of anonymizes you, making a sort of alternate identity. That idea is, quite honestly, very appealing. If indulging this won't affect your standing negatively with the one person who knows, then... Maybe it might be okay. That is the thought you're thinking when it's interrupted by your phone suddenly going off, on the ground near the closet.

But you don't pick it up to respond. Not yet, anyway.

This is because the second girl, the one referred to earlier, is visible. Well, not quite. As with you, she's only a girl of sorts. Whereas you're mostly a girl overlayed on the body of a boy, this is only mostly a girl; she's transparent, drifting just behind you. It's Lilly. You're looking at Lilly. You turn away from the mirror and... She's right there behind you, staring at you. You can't hear her, but she's assumed the posture and expression of a girl who's engaging in a long, sustained fangirl squeal as she stares at you. You stare right through her. It's kind of freaking you out a little bit, which is probably good, because to be honest you needed a distraction from this feminization.

She doesn't seem to realize you're looking at her. So you go to the phone. As you do, the floating spectral form of Lilly is typing on what looks like a spectral... smartphone. Really? The ghost of a phone? Well, after so many phones dying, some of them had to leave some ghosts. This is the logic you completely fail to actually think coherently as you look at this spectral vision of your friend.

LILLY: Eeeeeeeeee, with the dress AND the makeup you look so cute!!
LILLY: I have a maid and she's so cute it would give me a heart attack if I still had a heart, this is even better than the kitty outfit!
LILLY: Oh my god they're going to be SO JEALOUS!!!
YOU: Lilly.
LILLY: ?
YOU: I can see you.
LILLY: what

Her squeeing seems to stop for a moment. She looks straight at you, and you look straight back at her. A long pause hangs in the air like a neighbor's absurdly loud wind chimes: Obstructing all conversation, and threatening to never leave. Her face is blank, the sort of expression she'd have if you just grew a second head. This pause must last at least half a minute, maybe even longer.

But then a wide, catlike smile spreads over her face.

YOU: Stop that.

She doesn't stop. Instead she shakes her head to say "no", and types, silently, excitedly, on what you are now mentally incapable of calling anything besides GhostPhone™.

LILLY: You accepted it a bit! You accepted it just a little bit!
LILLY: Oooh, you must have accepted a bit with the cat game too if people can see me now!
LILLY: I can be visible outside the closets now! You accepted it a little bit!!
LILLY: Oh this is amazing!!! Can you hear me?
YOU: No, I can't seem to hear you. And I think this is slanderous, to say I've accepted anything.
LILLY: I wouldn't be visible if you hadn't!
YOU: Please don't embarrass me even more like this.
LILLY: No no no! Please don't feel bad about this.
LILLY: This is good!
YOU: What?
LILLY: This is really good. You did something great for me!
LILLY: Thank you so much!
YOU: What do you mean?
LILLY: When domain spirits like me get concessions like this, we sort of... gain manifestation ability!
LILLY: You accepted this stuff I was doing! Like, on a deeper level. And now I get to be visible, sort of!
LILLY: Thank you thank you thank you!
LILLY: You're already the best maid ever, doing something like this for your mistress!
LILLY: <3 <3 <3

You're trying to get in a word edgewise between all these enthusiastic expressions of gratitude, but... Something about seeing your friend - really seeing her - so happy, and finally sort of understanding the anonymizing part of this dressup game, just makes it... So hard to object. Maybe she's right, maybe on some level you are actually sort of accepting this. Would it really be so bad? Apparently it helps her. And you're not really suffering too much for it, besides a lot of embarrassment. Would it be so bad if she were right and you acknowledged that for once?

Well, maybe. If this weird system by which she gains actual capacity by literally foisting change on you is a real thing and she's not just messing with you with some fake system to make you think you're in some bad fantasy novel. If she just gains her weird ghost power from you accepting things, then maybe you might--

Your thoughts about the terrible and possibly-selfish implications of this are interrupted by a ring of the doorbell. It almost sends you into a panic. It's a final point that hammers home that you're going to be dealing with other people here at the mansion.

LILLY: Oh! They're here!

--End Part 7--
Been too long.

Sorry about the delays on this one, I've been having some debilitating problems with RL that are hopefully easing up now. That other story I wrote threw me a bit off-stride, I think I'm going to stick to what I know best, and that's this. So, the game of next chapter will involve a little party that the subject will be acting as servant and maid for, of course, and that should be material I can really get back into the swing of things writing.

This one's a bit more traditional for this genre. I promised a bit more of a crossdressing sequence, so here you are. Plus, more exposition on this setting that I doubt anyone particularly cares about, but this'll give me a mode of moving forward with some new stuff that starts in the next chapter. I figure the gimmick of purely invisible girl has probably worn itself a little thin by now anyway. Also, shortly, we'll get to meet several more domain spirits and their domains, which may make for a little more variety in this series, at least for a short while. Like the catgirl bit before it, we'll see this maid side of things for more than just the game part.

Special thanks to :icongoodkittynyanchan: for advice and feedback regarding proofreading, and belated apologies for the poor state many of my previous chapters are/were in. When I'm finished, I plan on proofreading the whole thing all in one go and submitting the story in one deviation.

NEXT TIME: A put-upon maid will have to deal with many and varied rowdy visitors, and probably wind up cleaning up a lot in the process. We'll meet some other domain spirits, and we'll see a lot more dialogue because I just can't leave a good thing alone for a while.

To summarize this work: A second-person part of a story where a nameless male subject deals with a teasing female internet friend named Lilly, who as it now turns out is a spirit that engages in various forms of haunting-like domination, and her efforts to comfort, guide, and mostly deceive him throughout his explorations of a modern megamansion. It features heavier feminization and a light sprinkling of femdom themes. 

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Cool Cats'
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Found a sketch from a few months ago laying around and decided to trace and color it. I copied this pose from some deviants Ed, Edd n Eddy drawing (Dude, what is with me and Ed, Edd n Eddy?) since, yenno, I thought it'd perfectly fit Brad and Cree's relationship. Look out for more of these, they're pretty fun to do.
By the by, the title is an Otis Redding reference. :U
*Yes, I meant to say "By the by"

Brad Lawson, Kiki Cox, Cree Clark and all related stories © Tariq S. Harris
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The streets of Sorvale were as busy as they ever were during the caravan season; merchants loading up wagons, those too young, too old or too sick to travel trying to make those last few sales to last them through the off season. The warm summer air was ripe with the natural musk of horses, tinted with the scent of alcohol. Away from the crowded main street, a smaller caravan prepared to set out for a tour of sales, a journey encompassing a multitude of kingdoms and races.

'Hey, Folvis, you planning on staying here?' A voice barked from within the cloth hood of the lead wagon. Taking a final look at the city, his gaze encompassing the other caravans, the stalls of the market square, and the distant mountains of the inner kingdom, A lone figure wearing a leather robe hopped up onto an awaiting wagon, which, moments later, started moving.

--

Day one.

As this tour of the realms looks to be an interesting one, I have elected to keep a journal over the coming weeks. The route of our merchant caravan is a simple one, as close to a circle as we can come, taking the occasional detour toward the mountains to reach the inner races.

Today, we set out from Sorvale, city of merchants and traders, a caravan of four wagons and six traders: Two tinkerers, a wandering artist, a seamstress, a 'seamstress' and myself, an alchemist. Alchemy, of course, being the common tongue word for the 'new magic': that which has been freshly discovered by scholars of the new age, as opposed to sorcery, the old age magic found in the ancient scrolls and forgotten texts. I've known Arthur and Simone (our tinkerer and our artist, respectively) for some time, and Lithia (our 'seamstress') for as long as I can remember, but Ricard, our actual seamstress, and our other tinkerer are both newcomers to our caravan for this trail.

Our tour should take us just over two months, assuming we don't run into any difficulties.

--

Day four.

We encountered our first obstacle: the River Orth. Fortunately for us, Alchemy works on wood and leather; we simply loaded the horses onto the wagons and drifted through the air to the other side. The spell held, and we made it across safely. If this weather keeps, we may reach the marsh towns ahead of schedule.

It was during this time that I became acquainted with Montule, the sixth and final member of our party: raised by dwarves, he joined us to visit his family and to make them a little money to spend on the coming caravans. This explains his beard, which is surprisingly hearty considering his youthful face, but not his height: how did he get around in a fortress of low ceilings and rocky walls?

--

Day five.

We were held up by bandits; both human and goblin. Faced with little choice as they vastly outnumbered us, we were forced to give up a significant amount of our goods. We are still taking four wagons; we have enough merchandise to fill two.

Fortunately, myself and Lithia are unaffected by this, my trade being in my mind and hers being in her body, and will likely be relied upon to provide money to return the others to normal trading.

--

Day seven.

We've reached Ristion, the famed City On Stilts and the largest non-fortified human settlement in the outer regions. Sorcery keeps the wooden supports from rotting, although nobody is entirely certain how they built the supports or the city atop them in the first place. Before we clattered up the wooden ramp and into Ristion proper, we stopped such that Simone could paint it from the outside, a tradition on these tours.

We expect to stay here for three days.

--

The alchemist's tent at last opened for business, the midday sun shining over the swamp. Almost at once a queue began to form; they had made good time, and he was in fact the first alchemist to make it to Ristion. His earnings, however, were severely hampered by the need to provide new merchandise for the coming towns; much of what he and the other members of his trade caravan earned went towards buying bowls, urns, and trinkets formed from the sturdy clay of the swamplands. As day turned to night for the third time since reaching Ristion, one final customer, a middle-aged man wearing the mud-stained clothes of a clay farmer, entered the Alchemist's store.

'Hey, uhh... Folvis, right? Look, I don't have a whole lot ta give ya, but... I'm lookin' ta buy a scroll.'
'Okay... my prices are listed outside; you would not have come this far if you couldn't pay them. What scroll do you seek?' He readied an ornate quill over a smoking inkwell.
'Ah, about the price... look, I can't make the full price. But I'm willin' ta pay the remainder with this.' The customer pulled an ornate chisel from the folds of his shirt before continuing to speak.
'I know you're headin' inta dwarf country on your tour, everyone does, and this is gonna be worth a lot ta any carver worth his beard.
Folvis looked pensive for a moment before leaving his stall, beckoning the farmer to follow.

Some minutes later, they reached the caravan, already preparing to leave at first light. Montule, the tinkerer raised by dwarves, climbed down to greet them. He towered over them both, a clear head taller than either.
'Something up, Folvis?'
'Actually, I was wondering if you could verify the value of this chisel. This farmer is a clear fifteen quartz short of purchasing a scroll; is this worth that much?'
Montule turned the ornate yet functional block of metal over in his rugged hands, examining both the handle closely before giving his verdict.
'Well well well... I'd say it's worth about that, yeah.'

Later still, Folvis wrote out the scroll, the paper igniting briefly as the quill touched it, burning the words onto the paper. He was writing a contract between a mortal and a higher, in this case granting fortune in exchange for a donation to a nearby temple. Signing it and imprinting it with his personal seal, Folvis turned it over to the farmer, taking 42 Quartz crystals in exchange. Packing up his stall, he returned to the caravan, the sun rising ahead of him.

--

Day ten.

Business was good, and we made up for a lot of our lost merchandise. Ristion ceramics are famous for their durability (in fact the inkwell I use in keeping this journal bears the Ristion seal of approval); they are worth a lot to the right buyer. And with so far still to travel, we fully expect to find that buyer. Still, I expect our takings by the time we get back to Sorvale to reflect our earlier loss.

In another day or two, we should be out of the swamplands. No doubt we'll pass through one or two smaller towns on the way, see what else we can sell.

--

Day twelve.

Last night, Montule told me the true value of the chisel. It bears the maker's mark of his home fortress in the old age, and is worth a small fortune to anyone who lives there. We were already planning on visiting them, and now we have all the more reason to. We may well come out of this tour very rich indeed.

We passed through a few smaller towns, and Simone sold a few portraits. The rest of us, on the other hand, had no such luck: A few smaller caravans had already passed through, ignoring the city for the surrounding towns. Still, it was wise of us to spend three days in Ristion: if we had not, we wouldn't have received the chisel; the artifact that may well make all this profitable.

In a week, we'll arrive at the gates of Antliss, the kingdom of the plains. Beyond those gated stone walls, we should be able to turn quite a profit.

--

Day fourteen.

We've left the swamp, and finally reached the plains. Our pace has slowed a little for the next of Simone's traditions; since our first journey here, she has been commissioned each year by the Plains King to paint his kingdom as seen from the marsh borders.

--

Simone sat perched on the side of the open wagon, the warm, strong breeze of the plain turning her dark hair into a flickering shroud. The canvas before her was beginning to take shape: the sweeping greens of the plains giving way to the sheer stone walls of the looming fortress, surrounded by the deeper greens and browns of the woods beyond. As the sun faded, the orange glow ahead of them mirrored by the canvas, she added a final touch: her signature, hidden amongst the ripples of the long grass. By this point, the faint sound of snoring from deeper within the wagon formed a stark contrast to the chirping crickets amongst the grass.

The stone walls of Antliss loomed ever greater on the dimly lit horizon.

--

Day nineteen.

We've reached the gates of Antliss, although unsurprisingly we are not the first group to do so. Four more caravans have to be checked before we can enter the gates, each of them slightly smaller than ours.

Well, ordinarily that would be so. However, Simone's artwork was our ticket to jumping the queue: the Plains King allowed us to bypass the customary searches and pass through the gate. Simone, as per usual, has an audience with the king; the rest of us shall go our separate ways, buying, selling and trading. We meet back at the city gates in four days.

--

Arthur, the caravan's original tinkerer, pushed his way through the crowded market square. Above him, the solid stone and stained glass of Castle Antliss appeared to reach past the sun itself, towering into the aether. Behind him, a chain around its neck, was his masterpiece, built with the aid of Folvis using materials bought in the swamplands: a fusion of alchemy and tinkerage, an alchemical gold shell around an automaton body with a metal mind. Sheathed on its back was a huge claymore, a two-handed broadsword. His plan: to sell this golden guardian to the highest bidder, the ultimate bodyguard for the discerning paranoid nobleman.

However, in an alleyway close to the noble district, a thief had other plans. He was not an ordinary thief, however; he was gifted with the power to see alchemical auras, a rare gift indeed. And now, the faint tendrils of magic played upon the edge of his vision. He turned his attention away from his mark, another travelling salesman scurrying through the shadowed alleyway, toward the source of the aura: Arthur's automaton. Sheathing his knife, which moments earlier had been ready to become poised mere fractions of an inch from the businessman's throat, and slipped off towards the market square, towards Arthur.

As the tinkerer showed his pass to the noble district guards, the thief swiftly scaled the walls. Both of them were now within the safe haven of the rich side of town; grander buildings, built upwards rather than outwards and illuminated with alchemical fire, the open space a far cry from the cramped shadows of the slums. Even so, light does not equal safety, and the thief, upon rounding another corner, saw his prize, the automaton's golden skin shimmering brightly in the alchemical fire. Walking quickly and with an air of confidence and nobility that suggested he belonged there, he followed the duo of tinkerer and construct until sunset. As the natural light faded and Arthur approached the market, he struck.

Leaping at the chain and drawing his blade, the thief severed it in a single, powerful strike, bringing his dagger to bear upon Arthur's throat.
'The automaton... you could make a lot of quartz with it. Or... you could live to see the next sunrise, and I could make a lot of quartz with it. Your choice, son.'
He attempted to respond, letting out only a choked whisper. It was then that the thief noticed a second, weaker aura; a lower level of alchemy, invisible to him from a distance due to both the alchemical fires and the much greater aura emanating from the golden skin of the machine.

The chains were enchanted with a simple warning spell; a spell that had now been broken. The thief felt a powerful, ice cold hand gripping his shoulder, and, hearing the distinctive sound of a claymore being drawn, dropped his dagger and lifted his hands above his head.

Two days later, Arthur found himself back at the caravan, now preparing to depart the setward exit of Antliss. The automaton had sold for a remarkable amount, much more than the dagger and the contents of the unfortunate thief's pockets.

However, six may have entered Antliss, yet only five would leave: Simone elected to stay behind. The king's personal artist had passed away, and she had been hired as a replacement.

--

Day twenty-three.

We set out from Antliss at sunrise. Our route now takes us through the woodland, into the outlying Elven villages that permit outside trade. This is a buying year for us; the elves reject the mineral currency of the outer regions, instead using chips of ancient bark, enchanted with basic sorcery to be non-combustible. Within the next two or three days, we should reach the first of the five villages on our route.

--

Day twenty-five.

We've reached the village of Elmbark... or what's left of it. From what I discerned from the aura traces, a raiding party from the dark lands passed through here, torching the buildings and felling the trees. One or two Orc bodies lay where they fell in the streets, although they never much cared for their own dead. Given the lack of Elf bodies, it is likely they were here on a blood harvest.

--

Day twenty-six.

The second village is mercifully intact, although we have had to purchase more than we originally thought necessary here. Fortunately, they had been blessed with a good harvest this year, and had plenty to sell: leather, cloth and silk. Our next village is more given toward war, and no doubt will have bows and enchanted hilts to sell. I suppose I'll have to move to a different wagon until we are able to sell what we've bought from the Elves; alchemy and sorcery do not mix well in close quarters.

--

Day twenty-nine.

We've reached the third and final Elf village, and have maybe a fifth of our initial chips remaining, and Saplark has plenty to spend them on. Next year, we sell to the elves, reaping a harvest of chips to sell the year after.

--

The caravan rolled in to the moss-covered pathways of Saplark, the rising sun to their right filtering through the dense canopy. A few furtive elves had stepped out of their dwellings, single-story wooden huts, and were setting up stands. The party filtered one by one out of the caravan, each carrying a share of the remaining chips. Soon, Lithia was the only one left with the wagons, a simple guard against any would-be-thieves (not that elves were known for theft or dishonesty). She fully did not expect to receive any trade in Elven territory, for promiscuity was also an exceedingly rare Elven trait.

And so it was a surprise to her when the leather doorway to her wagon opened. Reaching for the axe she kept by her double bed, she climbed to her feet and steadied herself on the wooden floor. The visitor, however, was no thief. His pale blue skin and scales shimmered in the lamplight, his forked tongue probing the air. A hybrid of dragon and elf; a creature unlike any she had seen before.

'What are you?'
'I'm... complicated. Look, I'm willing to pay over your usual rates; I'm aware I offer somewhat of a challenge.' He smiled weakly, his thin, elf-like lips withdrawing to reveal a row of distinctively draconian teeth. Lithia recoiled slightly, adjusting her grip on the axe.
'Look, my rates aren't the question here. The question is--'
'I assure you, I'm only half dragon. I'm Elven in all the right--'
'No. Just... I'm sorry, but no. I don't exactly have a good history with dragons.'
Her visitor began to back out of the wagon when the sound of footsteps and hoofbeats drew near.
'Lithia, I don't care if you've got a customer, get ready to move! The raiders are back!' Yelled Montule over the chaos. Before her visitor had a chance to leave, the wagons were moving again, and Arthur was putting one of the bows the group had purchased to good use.

--

Day thirty-one.

We lost the raiding party shortly after leaving the forest; it would seem they decided on easier prey. The trees are beginning to thin out, and are taking on a light coating of snow: we are heading for the tundra. The region we are now approaching is often the source of most of my profits; the tribes surrounding the Penllayan ruins are heavy believers in alchemy over sorcery, despite their superstitious nature.

Meanwhile, it looks like our visitor may become a little more permanent: he is a bard, trained in Elven music and putting his unique draconian voice box to good use. His parentage remains a mystery; one that none of us particularly wish to be solved. He has joined our party with a reduced cut of our profits for this year; if he chose to stay on, he would get a full share. We have learned since our speedy departure from Saplark that he goes by the name Hierach, which no doubt means something in one of the old tongues; hopefully the tundra ahead of us will hold a tonguespeaker for him.

--

Day thirty-six.

We've lost one of our horses to the cold weather; she was growing old, and I suppose this journey was too much for her. I am forced to refrain from using alchemical fire for warmth due to the enchanted Elven goods, spread across the other three wagons; we decided it unwise to remain in the open tundra for longer than we have to. I can see the torches of a tribal village some distance ahead; hopefully they shall be willing to sell us another horse. For the time being, we're having to rope the wagons together and have our surviving horses spread the weight of all four wagons between them. Progress is slow, but steady.

--

Day thirty-seven.

We left the first tribal settlement with a good horse and significantly less quartz; we usually have this much by the time we reach here, however we don't usually sell a gold-plated automaton. In summary, our profits are seriously down. Fortunately, a meeting point between several tribal leaders is drawing close. It can't be more than half a day away; we should be able to make up for lost ground there.

--

The shouts of the arguing chiefs echoed clean across the frozen landscape, the distant alchemical flame acting as a beacon for passersby. The four wagons pressed on bravely through the blizzard, spurred on by the possibility of getting their hands on more quartz. As the sun rose on their left, they rolled into the relative warmth of the camp.

Watching the others head into the impromptu market set up by the other trade caravans, Hierach set out towards the debate itself, hoping to record the events in song for future generations to remember. That kind of song always pays well, although he would likely be the only man in the outer regions with the training and voice to perform it.

However, half way through the debate, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see Montule standing behind him. Uncoiling himself and climbing to his feet. A combination of tall Elven heritage and a bulky draconian form resulted in him towering over anyone else in the party, even Montule, and being significantly bulkier.
'Arthur found a tonguespeaker and asked about your name, but he refuses to speak to anyone but you. They're over in the market now.' Hierach nodded, offering him a quill, a roll of parchment and a bottle of ink.
'I see. Would you take notes in my place until my return?' The human nodded, and the half-elf, half-dragon left for the market.

Hierach stepped into the leather folds of the tonguespeaker's tent, the air thick with the smoke of several candles, each one dripping thick wax. The others waited outside; the tonguespeaker's words were for him and him alone.
'Ah, thisss isss the one of whom they ssspoke?' The tonguespeaker hissed. He was a Kobold, shorter than a human and hunched over slightly. What little of his grey skin was visible had a snakeskin-like texture.
'I am he. What can you tell me of my name?' Hierach responded, offering up several quartz pieces, which were eagerly snatched up by the Kobold.
'In the Draconian old tongue, it meansss... "half".' He smiled eagerly, nodding.
'Half of what?'
'Jussst... half...'

Returning to the debate slightly crestfallen, Hierach took his notes back from Montule, who returned to the market. The Kobold tonguespeaker's words kept ringing in his ears, drowning out even the harsh words of the tribal leaders.

Some hours later, he found himself back at the caravan, the only sad face around a crackling campfire of smiles. They had made a significant step toward balancing out their profits, although they were not there yet.

--

Day thirty-eight.

We set out from the camp at first light, during a welcome break in the blizzard. The way ahead takes us into the inner realms, towards the Dwarven stronghold of Montule's adoptive family. We're a week into the second month, and we haven't made good time; despite missing out one Elven village and barely staying in the other, we're still a few days behind...
So, it's about time I wrote some fantasy! This was written partly because someone requested I take a shot at writing high fantasy and... mostly because I know :iconmidnightsoiree: is a fan of such works. She actually inspired this, in a way; in a recent journal entry asking for commissions, which I highly recommend you go to her for (believe me, it's well worth the money, which she's currently in need of for a new computer), she mentioned having a merchant account on PayPal... that just sparked something, and now here I am posting the first half of a short story involving a caravan of merchants.

This is mostly world building right now, establishing a magic system that allows for conflict and variety, hinting at a backstory and introducing a few regions and races. The other half of this story will be up whenever it's finished, which will... hopefully be soon. But for the time being, enjoy! :D
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'To John From
Frank.'

It was written, exactly like that, in the front of a book I'd just bought. I hadn't even realised it at the time; I was in the charity shop, one of a few nearby, with a couple of friends who were looking for furniture. I'd wandered into the book section and spotted something unfamiliar by Brian Aldiss in amongst the crumpled kings, the coverless Crichtons and the forgotten romance novels. The title was unfamiliar, the spine undamaged and it didn't smell of smoke, so I picked it up on a whim. It wasn't until I got home and checked when it was released that I noticed the dedication, scrawled in blue biro.

Had anyone else bought this, they wouldn't have thought twice about it, and might even have been glad of it as it might have lowered the price a fraction. But I'm not anyone else. I'm part of a book club, the Woodpulp Irregulars.

Well, that's what we call ourselves, anyway. It's really not as cool as it (hopefully) sounds, it's just a few guys and girls who meet in the back of a bookstore called Woodpulp every week or so to watch movies and talk about books. Woodpulp is a great little store, but it's slowly losing ground against chain stores and the internet. As for the Irregulars... we started out when the store's owner, Mike, put a few regular customers (me included) in contact with each other, and over the past couple years the five of us have become quite close friends.

The book I'd purchased from the charity shop stayed in my pocket for a few days, along with a few crumpled receipts and used train tickets (I do a lot of travelling for work) and a little loose change. It was still there on Tuesday night as I walked into Woodpulp. Mike, the owner, was just closing up as I arrived, and followed me through to the back, taking his usual seat in the slightly worn leather chair. Looking around, I saw the others were all here, so I pulled out the book, stuffed some of the debris that came with it back into my pocket, and set it down on the table.
'Ooh, that's a good one,' said Mike. 'Aldiss has some excellent poetry.' Mike knows his stuff about British authors, and I was even more glad that I'd picked it up.
'I never much cared for that one,' added Eliška, who was sitting cross-legged in front of the dark blue sofa. This didn't surprise me; she and I had superficially similar tastes, but to her there was a clear distinction: I preferred western works, the likes of Bradbury, Vonnegut and Le Guin; she preferred the works of Lem, Zematyin and Karinthy.
'There's a dedication,' I said. '"To John From Frank." Written in biro, and with "Frank" on a new line.' There was a pause as Lockwood (he insists we use his surname, and if I had a surname like that I'd probably want people to use it as much as possible) picked it up and examined it for any other marks, any other signs of a personal touch.
'So?' he eventually concluded.
'Well, don't you guys wonder who they were? Why the dedication is so curiously impersonal?' I asked.
'I wasn't,' said Eliška.
'But you are now?' asked Anna, leaning forward in the smaller of the two armchairs. Eliška nodded.
'The way I see it,' started Anna, the two of them were in the military...'

--

'They were on tour together, holed up somewhere in the middle east. John was a career military man, an officer but a fairly low ranking one, and Frank was an enlisted, the kind of guy who joins out of boredom more so than anything else, passes the physical and heads out there. They served together; saw the worst of humanity and the best of humanity and a whole lot of sand. Then everything turned sour.
'Something happened to Frank. He got hurt in the field and ended up losing a leg. He shipped back home, but remembered his old comrades, John in particular.
'John was a good guy, but he tended to refer to people by rank rather than name if they were in his unit. That was his only real character flaw, but he had a sense of humour about it. So, when Frank picked this up, he referred to his old comrade tersely and by name, reasoning that he was no longer in the military and therefore no longer had to.
'A few days after he sent it, of course, he received an invitation to the funeral of one Frank Something-or-other. The book was sent out and returned by the others he knew after a night of reminiscing, and ended up in the possession of his family. The owners ended up taking it to the charity shop, not knowing the significance, and it came into your hands.'

--

'So? What did you guys think?' She finished.
'You've been watching too much M*A*S*H,' Lockwood quipped. 'But in all seriousness that does make sense... no loose ends, and I suppose the military is like that?'
'Come to think of it, my frame of reference is outdated,' Anna replied.
'Yeah, I don't know anything about that kind of thing,' I said.
'Does anyone know anything about modern military life?' asked Mike. There was an awkward silence as we sat there thinking, broken after a few seconds by a knock on the front door. Mike left, returning with a few boxes of pizza. There was a rush to grab slices of the meat feast, and as we sat devouring Italian food Mike spoke up again.
'What if,' he said between mouthfuls, 'they were stepfather and stepson?'

--

'Frank wasn't John's real father, and their relationship was always strained because of it. He never quite knew how to act around the youth, and before he knew it John wasn't a youth at all. Birthdays and Christmas were always awkward, boiling down to an exchange of socks, cards and awkward silences.
'Eventually, John's mother took pity on her lover, and gave him something to give the man she considered to be their son (as John's real father hadn't been around much). He had one job: to write some kind of dedication, something meaningful, and he wrote what we now see before us, really not knowing enough to write more. John was mature enough to appreciate the effort, but he found the book to be underwhelming. He blamed Frank for this, not really knowing it was his mother who bought it, but kept it out of respect for his mother more than any goodwill towards Frank. He read it once or twice, being careful to keep it in the best possible condition, and then it stayed on a shelf, untouched, for years. Then things turned sour between his mother and Frank, and they moved out in a hurry, leaving a few things behind... the book included. Frank read it and didn't much care for it, and decided to sell it.
'John, a few weeks after all this, in fact after his mother moved on, happened to see it in the very charity shop you bought it from. He looked at it, considered it... and ultimately left it behind, deciding the time he spent with Frank was best forgotten.'

--

We all sat staring at our pizzas for a moment. Anna looked like she was about to cry; that said, she's the kind of person who cries at the end of most movies, no matter how many times she sees them. Lockwood looked a little more composed, and Eliška was nodding politely, deep in thought.
'Yeah, that's possible. Nice touch with the ending, with John finding it and leaving it, I wouldn't have thought to do that,' I said.
'Maybe not, but I've had a couple more years of writing experience. Keep at it and your plot sense will start pointing this sort of thing out to you.'
'What if they were in a cult?' Eliška asked.

Now, this may take a little explanation. Eliška was raised on the likes of Yefremov and the Strugatsky Brothers, from a young age. While other kids fell asleep to bowdlerised retellings of Grimm, she nodded off to Roadside Picnic, uncut and uncensored. As a result, she... tends to make connections others don't.

'Interesting idea,' I said, eliciting a chorus of nods. 'Care to elaborate?'

--

'Frank was the founder; John was one of the first members. They slowly grew in membership, and--'

--

'What did they worship?' asked Lockwood.
'They don't have to worship anything,' replied Eliška.
'Sure they do!'
'Project Mayhem didn't worship anything, and they were a cult,' argued Mike.
'That was fictional,' Lockwood responded.
'Well, so is this, for all we know,' I added.
Presently, Eliška continued.

--

'So, as I was saying, they slowly grew in membership to the point where they had their own little community, somewhere rural... maybe near Cornwall. Frank set things up there out of convenience, but John grew to like the area. So, they expanded, ending up with their own little shanty town in the middle of the countryside. John really looked up to Frank... and then things turned sour.
'Frank wanted to change things. They'd amassed a fairly sizeable following, and he wanted to go from Fight Club to Project Mayhem.'
(Eliška looked pointedly at Lockwood.)
'So, Frank wanted to make a statement, but his most trusted men, John included, might not be open to the idea. So he decided to butter them up a little, buy them a few gifts over a period of a couple weeks, make them a little more open to his cause.
'The very book that now sits on Mike's coffee table is one of these gifts.
'But John wasn't won over, unlike the others. Frank and his veritable army of cultists marched south, and left John behind. Had it been anyone else, they might not have lived to tell the tale; Frank still cared enough for John to let him out.
'So this left John alone, in a shanty town somewhere near Cornwall. He took the few possessions he had with him, but a few months later, he re-read this, forgetting where he originally got it.
'He read the dedication, and his time with Frank came flooding back. It was a part of his life he didn't want to be reminded of... and so he took it to a charity shop, to a new owner who wouldn't have such memories to associate with it.'

--

'Yeah,' said Anna, 'I can see that.'
'But why the terse dedication?' asked Mike, smiling.
'Frank wrote that after handling several other gifts for his other trusted, over a period of a few days. Give the guy a break; he was tired after all that,' Eliška explained.
'Okay, maybe... but I'm still not so sure about the cult thing,' stated Lockwood. 'Still, I can't help but notice...'
'Yes?' asked Mike.
'All three of our stories so far have had John and Frank in a father and son dynamic of some sort,' Lockwood said. 'Allow me to offer my take on it.'
'We may be in for another Classic Lockwood Moment here, guys!' said Eliška, feigning excitement.
'What if John and Frank were gay?' asked Lockwood.
'Told you!' said Eliška cheerfully.
'Okay, the Artful Dodger? Maybe. Iago? Very probable. Dorian Grey? Naturally. Christian Grey? You were quite convincing about. But John and Frank? I don't see it,' Mike explained.
'Wait, Christian Grey?' asked Anna.
'Oh, yeah, you were on holiday for that one,' I said, thinking back to a night full of awful whiskey and even worse literature. 'What was your reasoning for that again, Lockwood?'
'Oh, let me think...' he started.
'His abusive relationship with the novel's not-actually-all-that-bland protagonist is his sublimation of his negative feelings towards women in general and symbolic of his repressed sexuality,' stated Eliška.
'Ah, cheap shots at an easy target,' I mused.
'You remembered all that?' asked Lockwood.
'Sure I do!' she replied quietly, blushing a little.
'Actually, I think Lockwood may be onto something with this,' stated Mike, reaching for the last slice of pizza. 'Does anyone mind?' he asked, and was met with a chorus of 'not at all' and 'go ahead.
'Anyway, back to the point I was making,' Lockwood started.

--

'John and Frank met somewhere up north. John lived out that way; Frank was up there on business. So Frank, after a long day at work, walks into a bar, not even bothering to change out of his suit first. John is sat at a booth by himself, a bottle on his hand and four empties on the table. Now, Frank is smooth, and a couple years John's senior. He sidles up, takes a seat and effortlessly strikes up a conversation, waiting for him to buy another drink and asking if that's his only 6-pack. John isn't taken in by this just yet, but he laughs at it, a little drunkenly.'

--

'A little?' asked Eliška.
'Not all of us are as much of a lightweight as you are,' replied Lockwood.
'Lightweight? I'm half Russian, I can handle more alcohol than the rest of you put together!'
'Well, I'm assuming you usually choose not to.'
'What do you mean?'
'I've seen your drunk texts, Miss Novaček. I don't know what "Ypu are my Londsah-sjaoed frienx" means, but I'm assuming you do.'
For the second time this evening, Eliška turned red.

--

'So, Frank had a few drinks of his own, and they get to talking. Turns out John is having one last night out, alone, before he moves over to right here, same neighbourhood as Frank, one of those cheap student-y houses.
'So Frank sees his chance, and he takes it, offers to give John the grand tour. Moving day comes and goes, and Frank gets an invite to John's housewarming. The two of them get drunk, Frank meets John's family and they get along great. Ending up together like they did was sort of inevitable.
'Everything went great for a few months, but then John starts to want Frank to be around more. Thing is, Frankie boy still has to travel for his job, and Johnny boy isn't so keen on that.

--

'Frankie boy and Johnny boy?' snorted Eliška.
'Throw a little variety into the syntax; I find my work reads better when I avoid repeating the same words and phrases every single time,' Lockwood responded.
'You tend to get a little carried away with it,' Anna giggled. 'That one about the sprinter, I had to start keeping a list of names. It worked out at five per character!'
'Okay, okay, maybe I do get a little carried away sometimes,' blushed Lockwood.

--

'So, anyway, things turned sour, and they parted on good terms. They tried to stay in touch, but Frank's work kept taking him further and further from home, and the short, awkward text messages, the missed calls, the emails without responses just kept piling up, and eventually...
'John's birthday was coming up. Frank remembered him talking about Aldiss, and picked up the book, hoping it would make a good present.
'So, the big day arrives. John and Frank both get a little tipsy, and... Relive the good old days, so to speak. So the next morning, they wake up beside one another, surrounded by empty bottles. Frank is the first up, and he starts cleaning the place, not really remembering the night before... but then John gets up, and their eyes meet, and everything comes flooding back to the both of them.
'And so their neighbours, both sides, are woken up by a spectacular row, Frank leaves, never to return, and moves away with work. So, John is cleaning up, picking up where Frank left off, and he comes across an unopened gift. Nothing big, about the size of a paperback book.
'Excitedly, he tears off the paper. Aldiss isn't his favourite author, but he's been meaning to pick this up. So he opens it... and he sees the dedication.
'He leaves the house a mess, heading for the charity shop that very morning. With those words still in the house, with the legacy of Frank hanging over his head, he just couldn't focus. He returns home, his mind clear, to finish cleaning the place up.'

--

Once again, Anna was on the verge of tears. Eliška handed her an unused napkin, just in case, before she spoke.
'I admit you might just have something there... Lindsay.' Lockwood turned to her and scowled. He wasn't all that embarrassed about his first name, but he still didn't like it being used.
'Well, the way I see it all this is about offering a completely different take on things, isn't it?' he asked.
'That's a good way of looking at it,' Mike replied. I nodded, seeing the others do the same.
'So,' I said, 'I suppose that just leaves my version of events, yes?'

--

'John and Frank had grown up together; done everything together; even gone after the same girls at times. Not a day went by that they didn't wish they were twins, just so they could switch places for the fun of it. Frank was the older of the two, but only by a year or so. He wasn't actually planned, but he never found out.
'So, there's this girl, right? They both have feelings for her, but neither of them have the confidence to say anything this time, to her or to each other. Each of them notices the other avoiding the issue whenever girls are brought up, and they end up spurring each other on, driving each other to try and impress the girl.
'But John realises something. He hates to admit it, but he realises Frank is better for her; he can't drive, but Frank can, and the girl isn't as local as she once was. So he backs down, she chooses his brother over him... and Frank is uncharacteristically harsh about it, rubbing John's nose in it at every opportunity.
'But while Frank spent the weekend in this woman, this wonderful, perfect woman's arms, he realises how much of a jerk he's been. He leaves early, during the night, and buys John a gift, writing a short dedication, not quite knowing what to say. But the night is dark, the roads slippery... and his little car rolls. Nobody finds him until morning, out on those country roads... John is called, as is the girl; the latter gets there first, but there's no life left in him now. She sees John, but... she can only think of Frank, and so she decides to move on to someone new. The book went unnoticed, stashed away under the passenger seat, and was donated carelessly to the charity shop. They didn't even know the meaning behind the gift; the emotions behind the dedication.'

--

It was a good thing Anna had those napkins.
'Wow,' Eliška said bluntly.
'That was a harsh one,' murmured Lockwood.
'Not my best work,' I said; 'It doesn't really pass the Sexy Lamp Test.'
'The word I'd use was Moffat-esque,' said Lockwood. 'The girl was a little one-dimensional, and someone we cared about died.'
'And there's your cheap shot of the evening,' Eliška mused.
'Wait,' I said, 'we care about them?'
'We've just spent the evening talking about them, Connor,' said Mike. 'Of course we care about them!'
'Anyone else want to know what really happened?' asked Eliška. We all sat there silently for a moment, considering it.
'Yeah, I'm curious,' I said.
'I wasn't before, but I am now,' added Eliška.
'I just don't want it to end like your version of events, Connor,' Anna replied.
'Honestly?' asked Lockwood. 'I'm happy not knowing. The important thing here isn't what's true and what isn't; it's what we choose to believe about them.'
'I'm with Lockwood on this one,' finished Mike.

--

Three for and two against. I went back to the charity shop the next day, asking about the book. The cashier seemed disinterested, until I told them about the dedication.
'Interesting,' she said. 'I can see why you want to know more... although I'm afraid it'll have to remain one of life's little-- hold on. I think...'
'Yes?' I said, excitedly.
'I remember this! It came in about a week ago, in with a box of various other things. I probably wouldn't have remembered it, if it wasn't for the label gun being empty when I tried to put a pricetag on this one. The guy who brought it all in seemed to be real broken up about it...'
'Thank you so much, I think that's enough to work on,' I said. 'One more thing, though: Do you remember when it happened?'
'Oh, let me think... a couple weeks ago, give or take a day or two?'
'Brilliant, that should save me a lot of time!' I exclaimed, practically running from the shop.

I entered the library, and went looking for the records section. It took me a whole afternoon of searching through the papers before I found it: an obituary for one Frank Carter, survived by two people identified only as John and Millie.
After that, it took me a little longer to track them down. But I did it, ended up standing outside a house in a fairly out-of-the-way part of town, not quite student-y but within the same price range. I knocked, and the door was answered by a little girl, no older than six. Could Frank have been her brother? Could they have been father and son after all?
'Who is it, Millie?' boomed a voice from within.
'I don't know him, daddy, but he looks real sad about something.'
Presently, an ageing man stepped into the doorway, placing a hand on the little girl's shoulder.
'John?' I asked hopefully.
'How do you know my name?' he replied.
'I know Frank. Sort of.'
'Sort of?'
'I... I suppose I have some explaining to do,' I said.
'Well, there's no sense in doing it out there in the cold, lad! Come on in, I'll put the kettle on,' he said, still sounding cautious.

He put the kettle on before asking me to wait downstairs while he put Millie to bed. I sipped at my scalding hot tea as I heard him read her a bedtime story (bowdlerised Grimm, not Strugatsky). After a few minutes, I heard the words 'happily ever after,' followed by the sound of footsteps.
'So... how did you know Frank?' he asked.

I talked through the events of a few nights ago, both of us on the verge of tears for most of it. Finishing finally with my return visit to the charity shop, he asked, 'Do you still have the book with you?'
I laid it on the table by way of response.
'My, my...' he said. 'I never expected to see this again.'
'Why did you...'
'Give it away?'
I nodded. 'Yeah, that's what was puzzling us.'
'Ah, and what solutions you found. Frank would've liked that... he was always such a storyteller. I don't know whether you heard me earlier, but I... I just don't compare to him, and Millie knows it. She doesn't let on, though, but... a father knows these things.'
I nodded.
'Frank was always more of a poet, though... That's how we met, you know. He used to perform at a little cafe in the middle of London. I was a regular there, and we started talking after his shows, and... slowly, it became more than that.
'Oh, I'm so sorry, the book. Well... Frank... it was the big "C". He willed all his possessions and most of his money to a cancer charity. He left Millie and I plenty enough, of course. The book got mixed in with his possessions, I suppose. He was always more of an Aldiss fan, was Frank.'
'And the dedication?' I asked hopefully.
'Ah, yes... Frank's poetry flowed beautifully, but he could never find the words around me.'
I nodded.
'Thank you, by the way,' John said. 'For taking the time to find me, for sharing this with your book club... Millie, bless her heart, isn't old enough to fully understand all this. It's been good to have someone to talk to about Frank.'
'Did he not have a family?' I asked.
'Maybe somewhere, but they never got on. Not since he came out to them... poetry started out as his escape from all that, and it became his life. He never made much money, but I loved him all the same.
'Well, it's getting late,' he concluded. 'I hope I'm not keeping you from anything.'
'Actually, I have work tomorrow,' I said, standing up to leave. John rose to his feet, picking up the book, and made to hand it to me.
'Keep it,' I said. 'However much it means to me and my book club, it means so much more to you.'

I thanked him for the tea, he thanked me for listening, and I left for home.
And now for something completely different.

Seriously, this is the first time I've ever written anything... mundane, for want of a better word. No robots, no space travel, no monsters, no magic. It's sitting there in a universe of its own for one reason: The book from this actually exists, but it wasn't Connor who bought it. It was me. The actual book is a copy of Science Fiction Blues by Brian Aldiss, in pretty great condition (spine untouched, pages only sliiiightly yellowed) in the Oxfam in Lincoln. If by some miracle the real John or Frank happens to be reading this... hello there!

The dedication struck me as unusual, and my plot sense went nuts over it, curious as to who they were... and this is the result. All things considered, I'm pretty happy with it. Expect more from this setting if my plot sense is ever sparked by the mundane again. It could happen.
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HAVE THE THING.
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was feeling a tad despondent today because reasons

little better now
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Merlin and Arthur commission based on the tales from the T.H White novel "The Once and Future King: The Sword in the Stone" for :iconradiius:

The last of the commissions I started last summer(2013). I got this one on the tale-end of summer and wasn't able to start it until after I finished my last semester at school. It's good to have this one done finally! Thank you Radiius for being so patient!

Graphite on tracing paper, colored in PSCS5
Image by me
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The stack of tapes and scraps of paper in Simone's out tray was finally larger than the one in her in tray. Reaching across, she grabbed the next item: an unlabelled tape, the plastic case scratched but intact, the two spools visible within. Slotting it into the jury-rigged player in front of her, she pressed a few buttons and leaned back.

The screen flickered to life, and amid the static there appeared a black and white image of a titanic lizard, in the process of destroying a large city. Simone watched for several minutes to make certain of the authenticity of the footage: it was something she had seen previously, depicted from many angles: the destruction of Japan shortly before the Last War was well-known, thanks to her. She was still required to watch the footage, of course; the job of a Historian was to sort the scraps of the past, discern truth from fiction. It sounded easy, and to some it was: Hans, the historian in the next room, was notorious for taking shortcuts, simply deciding on a whim what was true and what wasn't. Simone often found herself contesting his decisions, setting right his beginner mistakes. Who would believe wars went from lasting thirty years to lasting just four or six, for example? Everyone knew how consistent the world was these days: every now and then, a new cave would be hollowed out and put to good use, but that was the limit of change. Sure, certain forms of technology grew more popular over time-- a long, long time ago, for example, everyone had space travel, before it fell out of popularity for centuries, rising again in the few decades before the Last War.

The video in front of Simone cut out abruptly, fading to static. New footage of the Lizard Incident was always welcome, and this was labelled as such in her out tray. Up next was a cutting from a newspaper. She only had a chance to glance at the headline, something about Martians invading (widely considered to be the reason America was so strong by the time of the Last War), before a bell started ringing behind her to signal the beginning of her lunch break. Rather than going immediately, she looked through the article first: it decried the whole event as a work of fiction by an Orson Welles. Martian propaganda, of course, designed to fool other nations into thinking they were safe, but nonetheless an enjoyable read.

Simone flicked off the screen in front of her and stood up from her desk, heading out into the empty corridor. No sign of Hans, of course; no doubt he had already finished, eager to get back to picking out the past entirely at random. It was a wonder he hadn't been fired yet, she thought. Her route to the lunch rooms took her past an extension to the science wing. She recognised several recent inventions made possible through her research: away in one corner, powering everything, sat a gigaconductor cell, and across from that were the twin cylindrical chambers of a cloning machine. If it hadn't been for her efforts to confirm these were possible, the science teams would never have thought to make either of these. The next room, however, contained something even more important: a time machine.

It had taken her a while to confirm the plausibility of this: explanations she had discovered tended to lack consistency, and methods behind it were even more vague. She had, after a great deal of effort, unified these into a coherent theory and sent her findings off to the scientists. In the end, the basic Wellsian theory, named for H. G. Wells, that fine, accurate chronicler of human history, had proven true. Not that she understood the workings, of course; her role was to document the evidence for and against such devices, and send off her conclusions.

Reaching the lunch rooms at last, she found them to be almost empty. Taking a battered metal tray and filling it with the assorted so-called food (ant again, she couldn't help but notice), she took a seat at an empty table with as few stains as possible. Ant was an acquired taste, and one she had not quite acquired; Simone considered it to be one of the few things they served that didn't taste of chicken (the other one being chicken). Still, the excavation teams had hit another ant's nest, so giant insects were plentiful. Picking out the last of the meat with her fingers and sucking the carapace dry, she got back to her feet and began making her way back to her cubicle.

Simone had made it no more than half way down the glass-walled corridor when an unfortunately familiar face appeared: Hans.
'Orwell was real, you know,' he called. Simone stopped in her tracks.
'Not based on my findings,' she explained.
'You found an article and decided it was false because it didn't line up with numerous highly fictional concepts,' Hans explained, a slightly smug grin affixed to his face. 'If you honestly believe--'
'Then how did the war happen?'
'We don't know. That's why we're here.'
Simone smiled to herself: every now and then, Hans would admit to not knowing the past like this. Seeing her smile, he stormed off, muttering to himself. Simone returned to her desk, taking a look through the next item.

This one was recent: an article on the marked increase in coincidences throughout the era documented by noted historian Charles Dickens. She didn't recognise the author; no doubt one of the up-and-comers from that excavation over in the Midwest. Strange, she thought, that she could go from checking documents of the past to peer reviewing an article just like that. Not to say the system didn't work, of course; she'd gained her job through the system. That said, so had Hans, so it was far from perfect.

Simone read through several more articles on history real and fictional, particularly enjoying a highly fictionalised tale of war between France and England. As enjoyable as it was, however, it was highly implausible; how could one war between the two nations last over a hundred years, and another last a mere seven? The author (well, authors; there was a long list of co-writers,) really had a long way to go. Just as she was about to start another article, this one another peer review article (a thesis on life shortly before the war, with focus on the second decline in space travel) when there once again came the sound of a bell: this one signalled the end of her working day.

The journey back to her room was short: she made her way out of the history and science building, the glass and metal (taken from the surface at great risk) gave way to the rock walls of a former ant's nest. Simone picked her way through the winding tunnels and eventually reaching a door set into the wall. Her chamber was small, but homely: room enough to sleep and to cook, with several shelves carved into the rock for her possessions. She now noticed that these were overflowing; taking a hammer and chisel, she began to chip away and add another one. It struck her how simple life down here was: no need to brave a Swedish labyrinth known as the 'Eye of Kia' in order to gain shelf space, as had been the way before the war. Brushing away the last of the dust, she set to work gluing the stone chips into the wall around her new shelf, as she had done with the previous ones; disposal costs were still high, given the difficulty of surface travel in the winter, so any reduction to her total waste like this helped. Plus, it added a personal flair; none of the few other rooms she'd been in had had anything comparable.

She spent a few minutes adjusting her things, spacing them back out, before turning in for the night, sleeping dreamlessly and waking early. Picking up the morning news, she read through the single sheet in a matter of moments.

'Nothing much is happening,' it read. 'Excavation on all fronts is progressing exactly as expected; no giant ant attacks or strikes. No major historical developments. Enjoy your day.' Simone dressed hurriedly for work, showering with what little water was available, and set out, working her way back through the maze of tunnels. Rather than heading straight to her cubicle, however, she turned off towards the meeting hall.

The meeting hall had once been the royal chamber, although it had been extensively remodelled since the new owners moved in, straightening out the walls and almost managing to get rid of the ant smell. The polished stone floor clicked under Simone's feet as she joined the back of the slightly restless crowd, standing in front of a raised platform. A few minutes after her arrival, a suited figure stepped out onto the stage, holding a loudhailer.
'We of the High Council... have an announcement to make,' he said nervously, the loudhailer adding a distinctive crackle to his voice. 'We'd like to welcome to the stage Hans Dermann. Mr. Dermann?'
Simone watched in mounting horror as Hans, her long-term rival, stepped out, taking the loudhailer. 'Good morning, good morning,' Hans started. 'As I am sure many of you are aware, although there are... some exceptions,' he paused for a moment, looking pointedly at Simone. 'As I'm sure many of you are aware our knowledge of world history is... well, not what it could be. What it could be is accurate; free from the glaring inaccuracies that so plague our knowledge.'
Simone couldn't believe what she was hearing. How had Hans managed to convince them all he was right? His theories were so inconsistent!
'After much deliberation on the part of the council,' Hans concluded, 'we have decided to do the right thing: to drop this charade; to admit everything we know about the past is pure fiction.'
A discontented murmuring rippled across the crowd, slowly giving way to a scattering of angry voices.
'I've spent years working on this!'
'But everything makes so much sense this way!'
'Why change what works?'
The shouting began to blend together, and on the stage Hans called for order.
'Look,' he exclaimed, 'you'll just have to adapt to the new system.'

Slowly, the crowd dispersed, heading to their cubicles. Simone was among the last to leave, staring blankly at the stage long after Hans had left. She wandered blankly through the corridors, eventually coming to her office: her in tray was full, and her out tray was empty. She sat down reluctantly, taking the first item and sliding it into her computer. She recognised it right off: a historical documentary titled 'Them!' about the rise of the giant ants. After the first few minutes, Simone spotted a note taped to the case:

'Remember: fictional. -Hans.'

She went back and forth in her mind for several minutes. Sure, the ants weren't the most convincing, but... what were the odds of giant ants showing up in both fiction and real life? In the end, she watched it twice through before lunch, not even paying attention to the rest of the documents she'd been given. Her route to the dining hall took her past several labs once more, although she barely noticed them. It wasn't until she was on the way back, the taste of ant still fresh in her mouth, that she realised: if their history was lies, time travel that meant time travel was impossible. And yet if time travel was impossible... why was she looking at a time machine? Deciding this was worth looking into, she ducked her head into the room.
'Hey,' she called to one of the scientists. 'Does that thing work?'
Several figures in lab coats turned to her and shrugged. The nearest of them, a fairly short woman, walked across to her. 'We've never actually tried it,' she explained. 'In theory... hey, you're Simone Butler, right? You worked out the theory behind this thing! If anyone should know, it should be you.'
Simone cast her mind back to her time working out the theory, but didn't recall it exactly. It had made sense to her at the time; after all, why shouldn't it work? 'I guess it should work, yeah,' she mused. She made her way slowly back to her desk, a plan already forming in her mind. She looked through the next few articles, chiefly among them a re-evaluation of the life of Huckleberry Finn (with another note from Hans taped to it, much the same as the first), and waited until after everyone had left. She made her way back through the facility, wincing as her footsteps echoed around the building. She followed the route she usually took on her way to lunch, but broke off at the lab she passed by, making a beeline for the time machine. She walked around it several times, examining it closely: the exterior was roughly spherical, and covered in a mesh of gears. The side she assumed to be the front contained a large clock face; on the far side of that was a hatch. Simone started to make her way towards this when a voice called to her.
'Hey!' She turned to see a security guard facing her. 'What do you think you're doing?'
'I was...' she hadn't expected this; there was never anything in the way of a security presence during the day. Her mind raced as she thought of a plan, and yet at the same time she realised she should be saying something. 'Just...' she continued.
'You were trying to steal this, weren't you?' the guard asked.
'Yeah,' Simone admitted. 'You'll go easy on me now, right?'
'Go easy on you?' the guard asked, stern-faced. He took a step towards her.
'Well, I'm going to get punished for this, right?' she asked, nervous.
'Why would I want to do that?' the guard asked, a grin already spreading across his face. 'It's about time someone stole this thing!'
'What are you talking about?'
'Do you have any idea how many nights I've spent guarding this?' the guard asked. Simone tried to answer, but the guard was already on a roll. 'Every night, I come in, I watch the scientists leave, I make sure they don't use this thing, and then I just... sit here! Watching it! You know you're the first person to as much as think of using it?'
'You never thought to use it yourself?'
'I wanted to, but... I just couldn't bring myself to. As much as I want to steal this thing, I could never decide on when to go.'
It hit Simone that she wasn't sure where to start either. There were a lot of things she felt the need to check. Seeing her expression, the security guard spoke up again.
'Not easy, is it?'
'The best thing to do would be to go back just before the Last War, right?'
'Just before the war it is,' the guard said, already making his way towards the hatch set into the side of the time machine. Simone followed him.

The interior was cramped. Between the flickering screens, the boards full of switches and dials, and the trailing wires, there was just barely enough space for two people. Simone and the security guard looked over the multitude of controls, trying to decide what to press.
'Okay,' the guard started. 'Let's just take this, and...' he pulled a lever, and several of the screens in front of them went blank. 'Not pull it,' he finished, sliding it back to its original position.
Simone reached out and pressed several buttons at random. A cluster of lights in front of them came on, but nothing else happened. 'It's a start,' she said, pressing more at random. The screens in front of them abruptly flickered to life, showing what looked like a timeline.
'More than a start,' the guard mused. 'I'm guessing the big mushroom cloud here is the Last War.'
'And then this must be the Martian invasion.' Simone pointed to an icon of a bug-eyed humanoid figure. 'And the rise of the ants,' she continued, pointing to a depiction of an ant head between the mushroom cloud and the alien. She tapped the screen, and without warning the machine began to shake. The hatch slammed shut, and the room outside, visible through a small, dirty window embedded among the screens, began to dissolve, replaced by rock. Slowly, the shaking stopped; Simone stood up and tried the hatch.

It wouldn't open. The guard stood up, then promptly sat back down, rubbing his head and looking resentfully up at the low ceiling. 'Why can't we get out?' Simone asked.
'We've travelled in time,' the guard said.
'So... why can't we get out?'
'What was the science building, back before the war?'
'Nothing,' Simone said, confused.
'Exactly,' the guard smiled. 'Back before the war, this was all solid rock.'
'But... wait,' Simone realised. 'Wouldn't the earth have moved from where it was back then? Why are we underground and not in space?'
'Good question,' the guard nodded. 'Worth asking someone who isn't a security guard.'
'Actually, as long as we're travelling through time and... Hopefully space, at some point, I should probably know your name.'
'James,' he said. 'James Goodman.'
'Well, James,' said Simone, 'we should head back, try and find the space controls.' She tapped the far right side of the screen, and the machine vanished again.
'How does it travel with us in it?' Simone asked. 'Why doesn't it leave us behind?'
'Still a security guard,' James said flatly. The lab materialised around them, as empty as it had been when they had left. Simone opened the hatch and left again, followed by James; this time, he kept his head low. He walked around it, tapping it occasionally with his knuckles.
'Okay,' he said. There's bound to be an instruction manual somewhere.'

The two of them began exploring the lab. Simone wasn't quite sure what half of the equipment was: test tubes and elaborate glassware, scattered about seemingly at random, interlaced with all manner of electrical circuitry and Bunsen burners. After a few moments, she found a stack of bulky documents. She looked through them, finding the one labelled 'time machine' and turned to a random page.

It was blank.

She flicked back to the first page, finding only a handwritten note: 'Your guess is as good as mine.' She dropped the book and turned to James.
'Empty,' she said. He raised an equally thick book.
'This one isn't.' Simone hurried across and looked through it. As James had said, it was full of complex-looking instructions. She turned it back to the first page.
'Now that I know what I'm writing about,' the book started, 'this is how the time machine works.' What followed was a long, rambling explanation of which buttons did what and why. The two of them started searching through it, settling down for a long night.

After several hours of hurried reading, there came a muffled sound. Simone and James looked up to see the morning shift heading towards them. They scurried into the time machine, James catching his head on the hatchway, and hurriedly made their way back to just before the war once again. The rock wall enclosed the time ship, and Simone keyed in the sequence for the surface, at around the same time.

The time machine rematerialised in an overgrown field, and the two of them stepped out. Simone thought back through her extensive knowledge of history, and figured out that America had been invaded by Martians at this point, but had repelled them, and had not yet been taken over by the ants.
'Okay,' she said. 'Around this time, the space travel boom had just about died out, but the world hadn't quite become a series of ultra-fascist states.'
'When did that happen?' James asked, puzzled.
'It would have been... the mid 1980's?'
'So we should be looking for signs of that,' James realised. They started towards the edge of the field, eventually finding themselves standing outside a farmhouse.
'What do we do?' James asked. Simone simply made her way up the steps and knocked on the door. James looked at her, his eyes wide. 'What are you doing?' he hissed. The door opened, and Simone smiled at the middle-aged farmer within.
'Could we borrow today's newspaper?' she asked. The farmer gave her an odd look, although this was to be expected: their outfits weren't exactly the style of the time. Simone was wearing a suit that was just futuristic enough to stand out, and James wore a uniform designed along the same aesthetics. The farmer shrugged, and then handed Simone a stack of crumpled sheets.
'Mind if I keep the funnies?' he asked, already taking them out. Simone took the paper from him, and the farmer slowly closed the door.

The two of them sat there, on the man's doorstep, reading through the paper. There was no sign of the rise of fascism. Seeing the look on Simone's face, James spoke up.
'Not what you were expecting?' he asked.
'No...' murmured Simone, absently. 'This is more in line with...' her face contorted into a snarl as realisation dawned. 'Hans,' she spat. 'He came back first; he changed things back to his misguided idea of what they should have been like.'
'He must have gone back after us,' James realised.
'It can't have been,' said Simone. 'He must have gone back just before us; otherwise, how could it be like this already?'
'He can't have,' James said bluntly. 'You were the first person to steal it.'
'But what if he went back afterwards so he didn't steal it?' Simone asked.
'Then he wouldn't have stolen it.'
'But then he wouldn't have been able to go back and stop himself from stealing it.'
'But then...' James paused, looking puzzled. 'Okay, can we just agree that he didn't steal it until after you? I can do my job well enough.'
'And yet you gave it to the first person to try and steal it.'
'Other than that, I can do my job well enough.'
Simone dropped the newspaper on the doorstep, but James took the front page back. 'This way, we'll be able to see the past as it changes,' he explained. The two of them made their way back to the time machine.
'Where to next?' James asked.
'Let's go with 1954,' Simone said, tapping the ant icon.

The two of them stepped out into a field full of wheat, making their way to the farmhouse. Simone knocked, and after a few moments a young man opened the door, a woman hanging from his arm.
'Paper again?' he asked, breathless, his eyes on their decidedly unusual clothing. Before Simone could answer, he stuffed it into her hands, slamming the door in their faces. Once again, they took a seat on the doorstep and skimmed through, finding nothing about ants. Simone was about to discard it when, on a whim, she turned to the film reviews. Sure enough, there was mention of a science fiction film called 'Them!'.
'Oh,' James said. 'This reviewer is harsh. I mean, I really enjoyed it.'
'Hans beat us here,' Simone realised. 'He went back to before we--'
'Let's not go there again.'
'We need to go further,' Simone decided. 'Back to the Martian invasion.'

The historian and the security guard made their way back to the ship once again, stepping out almost two decades further back. They made their way to the farmhouse, and the door was answered by a young child.
'Can we borrow your daddy's newspaper?' James asked, smiling. The boy came back after a few minutes with a gruff-looking bearded man, who handed them a newspaper, a puzzled look on his face as he looked over their outfits, and shooed them away.
'Okay,' Simone said, the folded paper still in her hands. 'The headline should be about the Martian invasion.'
She flipped the paper open, skimming over the first few pages. Words and phrases such as 'widespread panic,' 'Martians' and 'radio broadcast' leapt out at her. She smiled to herself.
'It really was a false alarm, just like Hans said,' James pointed out.
'What?'
'Look through the whole article,' James sighed. 'Everyone heard it and thought it was real.'
Simone angrily scrunched up the paper, throwing it at her feet and storming her way back to the time machine. James followed slowly, ducking into the two-person capsule.
'Every time,' Simone started, 'he beats us to it. Whenever we go, he's already meddled.'
'We can always... counter-meddle,' James suggested. 'If we go back and change things back to how they were before he changed them...'
'Then we could fix the past!' Simone realised. 'We could set things right!' She reached across and hugged him, and then set the controls back for their own time.

'This is going to take preparation,' she explained. 'First things first, the Martians.'
'How do we plan on getting them to invade?' James asked.
'Well... there's a secret to that,' said Simone. 'I found in a historical document by a Mr. Vonnegut: an account of the whole thing. They were humans, really; they had been abducted and sent down as an invasion.'
'Really?' James asked. The more he thought about it, the more it started making sense to him.
'I mean, there's more to it than that. Vonnegut's retelling of it was heavily fictionalised, of course; the same can be said of most of his writing. But that part, we believe, is true.'
'Where will we get a spaceship?'
'There should be one in one of the labs, surely? Have any of your security guard buddies ever mentioned it?'
James thought for a few minutes, going back through several years of poker nights. Surely, one of the other guards had mentioned a ship somewhere? 'I think there is one, over in the surface access shaft,' he concluded. 'But we'll need to try and get the time machine to it if we're to stage an invasion.'
'That won't be all that hard,' said Simone. She crossed the room quickly, flinging open a locker and pulling out two lab coats.

Her coat trailed on the floor slightly, and James's was tight across his stomach, but they were labelled as one size fits all.
'It says it fits,' James said, 'but nowhere does it say it fits well.'
'It'll do,' said Simone. The two of them carefully hoisted up the time machine onto a large, flat trolley and rolling it out of the labs. The corridors were empty, although the offices were rich with the sounds of typing. Simone glanced into her old cubicle, seeing the out tray piled higher than ever before; a quick glance into the ones on either side revealed everyone was faced with the same issue. With all of history to re-write, she realised, everyone would have to put in overtime. Simone and James continued towards the surface access shaft on the far side of the office block, the time machine on the trolley between them; they made it there without meeting anyone.

The surface access shaft wasn't quite what Simone had been expecting: instead of a smooth expanse of metal, sloping gently upwards, they found themselves on a flat metal platform, designed to rise and fall: a massive elevator. In the center was a large disc-shaped object, clearly a flying saucer, with several men and women in lab coats standing around looking at it. Simone approached one at random.
'We need to rig this time machine up to your flying saucer,' she said. The scientist turned to her, a puzzled look on her face.
'Why would you possibly need to do that?'
'Because...' Simone started.
Seeing her struggling, James hurried across. 'For science!'
'Science. Exactly,' Simone nodded.
'Well, okay, I guess...' sighed the scientist. 'Good luck rigging it all up, though.'
'Wait,' James realised. 'You don't know how to?'
'That's your department, surely? We're not the ones that want to combine these machines.'
'We were told you knew how to do it,' James glared. 'What? We don't...' the scientist started. 'Although... given time, I'm sure we could rig something up.' She turned around, calling to another figure in a lab coat. 'Carl, we've got work to do.'

The historian and the security guard stood off to one side, watching the team of scientists haphazardly combining the two machines.
'How did you know that would work?' Simone asked, turning to James.
'I've been a security guard long enough to have heard every excuse in the book,' he explained. 'I've gotten the hang of matching them to the kind of person they'd work on. These scientists? You play to their ego; you give them a challenge.'
'What would you use on me?'
'Something plausible,' he explained. 'You're a historian, so you're good at figuring out the truth.'
'Okay,' she nodded. 'That would probably work, actually.'
'Okay,' the scientist they recognised as Carl called. 'We've got it... I think.'
'You think?' Simone asked, worried. 'And if you haven't?'
'Then you'll have a choice between either time or space. Choose wisely.'
'Okay,' James nodded, puzzled. The two of them looked over the efforts of the scientists: the time machine had been bolted to the underside of the ship, and several wires ran between them.
Carl followed them into the machine, quickly explaining the revised controls. 'Most of these buttons weren't actually attached to anything,' he explained. 'This bank on the left is your new space controls.'
'Okay,' Simone nodded. Carl turned to leave, narrowly avoiding catching the doorframe with his bald head. They watched him wave to them as they lifted off, heading for space.
'Best to get the hang of this before going back,' Simone explained, carefully manipulating the controls as the ship wobbled upwards.
'I've never actually seen the surface,' James realised. 'Is it as bad as they say?'
'Between the attack from the Martians, the ant invasion, the world dividing into three states and then blowing itself to bits? If anything, it's worse.'

They sat there in silence, watching as the surface slowly came into view: over the lip of the elevator shaft, there came a low concrete wall, crumbled almost to dust. As they rose higher, they saw this to be one of many: the shaft was situated in the ruins of what appeared to be a military complex. Here and there were figures in radiation suits, picking their way through the rubble. They rose higher, and on the horizon several large structures rose into view: anthills, rising like skyscrapers towards the thick clouds, swarming with insects carrying the assorted debris of human civilisation underground to the royal chambers. They rose above these, too, climbing over the clouds and flying west, gathering speed. After a few minutes of this, they broke orbit, launching towards a tiny red speck.
'Are we really heading all the way there?' James asked.
'Authenticity,' Explained Simone. 'Plus... I've never seen Mars. I'm curious.'

After a few hours of space travel, the red speck had grown to fill the screen. Simone realised she was no longer thinking of it as being forwards; it was now down. They swooped in low, skimming over the barren red surface.
'Where are all the Martians?' James asked.
'I guess... I don't know.'
'Surely there would be some sign of civilisation here?'
'What if they live underground, like we do?'
'Then surely they'd be reclaiming the surface too?'
'Merciful Zeus,' Simone realised. 'Hans! He wiped them out to stop them from invading!' Her hands flew over the controls, and the barren red sand beneath them faded away to be replaced by...

Barren red sand. Mars looked exactly the same; no signs of life.
'Well,' Simone said. 'I suppose he's gone back further, wiped them out ahead of time.'
'So we go further back and stop him, right?' James asked.
'Why? They invaded us, remember? They're scum and I'm glad he destroyed them.'
'Have you even met a Martian?' James asked, taken aback.
'I've read enough about them,' Simone replied. 'I've seen what they did to us.'
'What we're about to do for us?'
'That's different,' Simone snapped. 'We're invading to fix their lack of invasion.'
'Why not just... not invade at all?'
'Because that's not what happened.'
Sighing to himself, James gave up on the argument, watching as Simone guided them back towards Earth, swooping down on the unsuspecting planet. She buzzed around, taking potshots at a few buildings... and left abruptly, jumping them back to the future.
'Wait, what are you doing?' he asked.
'They didn't just have one ship,' Simone explained. 'We head back to mars, jump back again, fly back to earth and attack.'
'How many times do we have to do this?' James sighed.
'Actually, this will probably take me a while,' Simone admitted. 'Want me to just drop you off in the future and pick you up when I'm done?'
'Okay,' he nodded.

--

James stepped off the ship as they reached the bottom of the access shaft, making his way towards Carl and the other scientists. After a few seconds, however, the ship returned, and Simone called to him.
'Time machine, remember?' She smiled. James made his way back, climbing aboard again.
'Okay,' he said, 'up next is the ants, right?'
'Right. We'll have a hard time going and taking a queen from an active nest, but I remember a study I peer reviewed an article on the excavation of the meeting hall that told me right where the queen used to sit.
'We're going to kidnap an ant queen, aren't we?' James realised.
'It'll be a tight squeeze, but I think I've gotten the hang of this time machine. I can materialise so that the ant queen ends up in the cargo hold of the flying saucer.'
'Okay,' James said. 'Wait, won't that disrupt the timeline or something? What happened to the queen originally?'
Simone looked thoughtful for a moment, and then shrugged. 'I read it a while ago,' she said. 'I guess I skimmed over that part.'

He watched as Simone spent the best part of an hour carefully configuring the controls. 'Care to do the honours?' she offered. James reached out, then realised how many buttons were in front of him.
'Which one do I press?'
Simone went for one of the buttons, but hesitated.
'I left the manual somewhere around here, right?' She pulled out the hefty tome from under the seat, skimming through it and finding the right page.
'That one,' she said, pointing to a large, glowing red button. James pressed it, and they vanished, rematerialising in a large, rocky chamber, falling to the ceiling.
'It wouldn't fit the other way up,' Simone explained, climbing to her feet and helping James up. There was a sudden storm of screaming, scratching and clanking from beneath them; the queen had been captured.
'Can you give me a hand?' Simone asked, attempting a handstand. 'I can't work this thing upside down.'

She placed the heavy manual on the seat, bracing her shoulder against it. James carefully got her stable, and she keyed in the co-ordinates, taking them back to the past. Dropping off the ant queen was a quick task, and before they knew it they were back in the present.
'Setting up the whole "global conflict" thing is going to take a little research,' Simone explained. In the meantime... I need you to keep watch on the time machine, stop Hans from stealing it.'
'Okay,' James nodded. He watched as Simone left, quickly changing out of his lab coat and preparing himself for a long shift.

It was several hours before she returned.
'I can't work it out,' she said, stumbling out of the time machine. 'The transition to the Three States... that much I've set back to how it should be. But it's a perfectly stable system! I don't see how that can lead to a war!'
'Sooner or later it would break down, right?' James asked, puzzled.
'So you'd think,' Simone replied. 'It didn't happen when it should have done.'
'Could you not destabilise it?'
'That's why I'm back here. Look, I'll meet you back here tomorrow, okay?' Without another word, she walked off, no doubt towards her room. James watched her leave and changed back into his guard uniform, taking up a position next to the time machine.

He stood there for several hours in a stance not quite as familiar as the casual observer may think. Just as his feet were beginning to grow tired, he heard footsteps heading towards him. James realised his uniform was for the other labs; his clearance level was far below that of the access shaft. Rushing to the cupboard, he grabbed the lab coat he had earlier been wearing, hastily buttoning it up. He grabbed a clipboard and turned to face the door just as an unfamiliar face entered.
'Working late?' they asked, their accent faintly German.
'You know what it's like,' James nodded.
'Ah, yes,' the stranger agreed. 'Ever since I got my reforms through, we historians have been quite busy.'
'Oh, you must be Hans.'
'You have heard of me?'
'There was some woman in here earlier talking about--' the buttons on James's lab coat finally popped, revealing the security guard uniform beneath. 'Uhh...' he started.
'Working two jobs?' Hans smiled. 'You are a busy man.'
'I try to keep busy,' he replied awkwardly.
'You're off the records, aren't you?'
James sighed to himself. There were still a few like him: men and women who had fled from one bunker to another, living off scraps and blending in. His guard uniform had been stolen from dry cleaning; he had thought it to be the logical choice of job, after spending several years doing all he could to get past them. 'Yes,' he eventually said. 'I'm off the records; just... keep quiet about it.'
'What are you even doing in this department?'
'Long story... I get bored easily. Have you ever seen what they have the security guys do around here? We just... stand there, day after day, not letting anyone past. Someone tried to steal this thing the other day, and I just... let it happen.'
'I... see,' Hans nodded. 'Would you be willing to let it happen again?'
'I'd better not.'
'Then I'd better not keep quiet about all this.'
James stepped aside, gesturing to the hatch.
'I fear the damage has already been done,' Hans started, 'if your thief was who I think it was. If I can prevent the war itself, however...' He stepped into the time machine, still murmuring to himself. James started searching through the lockers for a larger lab coat, paying little attention to the machine as it vanished.

After a few more hours of acting like a scientist, the machine returned. James turned away too late to see him, but he heard Hans leaving at a sprint, and swore he heard the historian crying. He didn't have long to think about this, however; the moment his footsteps died away, James heard another set, getting closer. Simone strode into the lab a few seconds later, grinning at the machine.
'I've got it,' she said. 'I've worked it out!'
'You know how to start the war back up?'
'I just need to repeat the ant queen trick.'
'Is it really a good idea, though? We could always... let the war not happen; give humanity a second chance.'
'This is our second chance,' Simone said solemnly. 'We're safer now. Mother Earth protects us from herself, war is a thing of the past, and there's plenty of room for expansion.'
'We're living underground and ant attacks are happening on a daily basis.'
'They don't have weapons, James.'
'They have mandibles! Huge mandibles!'
'The attacks are getting less and less frequent.'
'If anything, they've been happening more often.'
'Look...' Simone sighed. 'This is my world; this is my life. I think it's better than life before the war, and you may disagree with me on that, but... it's your world too. If we don't go back, if we don't fix this... odds are neither of us would have been born. And if we were never born, we wouldn't be around to go back in time and fix this.'
'We were the ones who broke this in the first place.'
'Hans broke it; we fixed it afterwards.'
'He fixed it, we broke it,' James insisted.
'Look, just... get in the time machine.' She grabbed him by the collar, towing him towards the time machine.
'Okay, okay,' he said. 'I want to see how this all ends.'

They came out in what looked to be a silo: sleek grey walls surrounded them, and beneath them were more missiles than either of them had ever seen. Without warning they fell sideways, landing hard on one wall.
'It wouldn't fit in upright,' Simone explained lamely.
'Can we just get going?' James asked, helping her up and watching as she keyed in their next destination. The silo vanished around them, and they found themselves upright again. James looked out of the small window to see a field, the grass cut short, and a run-down farmhouse. Looking up, they saw a line of skyscrapers that hadn't been there on their previous visits, and lower down a tree, beneath which was a grave. For reasons neither of them could fathom, a neatly folded newspaper was perched atop the headstone. They took in the rest of the field, turning to see...

Another ship, just like theirs, right down to the haphazardly attached flying saucer. The hatch opened, and a man stepped out, hurrying towards them.
'Stop!' he called. Simone and James both recognised his voice: Hans.
'We've almost fixed this whole thing, Hans!' Simone proclaimed, her voice full of pride. 'You can't break the timeline once again.'
'I just fixed everything!' Hans called back.
'You fixed everything from before we went back and re-fixed everything.'
'But... I fixed everything! I went back and set the timeline on the right path!'
'No,' Simone explained. 'You did, but you set things on the right path before I went back and set them on the right right path.'
'Wait,' James said. 'Do either of you know what's going on here?'
'Yeah, I didn't want to say I was lost,' Hans admitted.
'I... of course I understand this!' Simone insisted.
'Go on, then,' said James. 'How did the war start?'
'Bombs fell on several population centres, and--'
'Before that,' said Hans.
Simone halted, and the others could see she was struggling with something.
'I don't know,' she sighed. 'There was nothing in the archives about it; I was planning on starting things off myself.'
'You monster,' Hans snarled.
'I've already been through all this. How did it start in your twisted timeline, Hans?'
The other historian paused, his face going through the same series of emotions as Simone's had moments ago. 'I... I don't know,' he realised. 'I always took it for granted that the war...'
'Hold on,' James realised. 'Neither of your timelines allow for the war to happen, and yet...'
'It happened,' the two historians said together.
'So this must be...' Hans's eyes widened, and began to brim over with tears. 'This is... your timeline is... I can't handle this.' He ran back to his time machine. Simone and James watched as the ship dematerialised.

They stood there for several minutes, staring dumbly at the spot where the time machine once sat.
'So this is it,' James murmured. 'This is how the world ends... not with a bang, but with a historian and a security guard.'
'I... I suppose I'd better get started.' Simone shook her head, stepping back into the remaining time machine. The two of them climbed in, and Simone started to take them up.
'Wait,' James said. 'Take me back first... I don't want to see this.'

--

Hans couldn't believe what had happened. His whole career, his whole attempt to better explain mankind's history, to be honest about their flaws, was a lie. Yes, maybe history had once been how he believed it to be, but that no longer mattered: history was... broken now. It was how Simone had always insisted it was; how the majority of his fellow historians believed it was. The details weren't quite the same, of course, but that was to be expected; their equipment and records were far from perfect.

But how could he face his co-workers now? He'd just got a reform through; he'd just got them to revert to old history, history that no longer was. It had taken him his whole life to get that through; how could he tell them to take it back? How could he study the 'real' history now?

--

After the first few cities, Simone thought, the whole process became... mundane, almost. Still, it was the way the world should be; the way that, to her at least, it had always been. And besides, in the long run, mankind would recover... right? She'd seen it happen; seen the earliest post-war documents. They had struggled at first, what with the ants and everything, but they had overcome the insects after a few short decades.

Another city blossomed into fire beneath her, and she wondered how many more it would take to set the ball rolling.

--

So that was it, James thought. History was back as it... was, even if it wasn't how it should have been. No doubt Hans or someone would get a council together and eventually send someone back to stop the war.

And yet... Simone's kind were all restless about all this. Statistically speaking, there would probably be enough of them on any given council to out-vote the revolutionaries. Sure, it wasn't the best timeline, but... it was their timeline, and they were proud of it.
This was originally written as a christmas present for :iconradiius:, however I... felt it just plain wasn't good enough: the tone was too dark, and as such much of the humor fell flat. I'm pretty sure there's a good story somewhere in this idea, and so if any of you fine folks in internet land feel like taking a shot at it, be my guest.
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This is a Secret Santa piece for :iconradiius: for :iconfuturedisneyartists:

And here's Robin Hood, Arthur and Eeyore (plus Princess Calla from Gummi Bears cartoon) all wishing you a belated Merry Christmas and a Prosperous New Year 2014!

Done on coloured pens.

All characters are (c) Disney.
This artwork is (c) me.
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A (late) birthday drawing for :iconradiius:. Sorta based off of this here flash: radiius.deviantart.com/art/Wes…
I've wanted to draw Wesley for a really long time, I hope he looks alright
I haven't drawn any pokemon for more than a couple of years so Bulbasaur looks pretty wonky
How does colored pencils
[Edit] So I just realized Bulbasaur is missing his spots and his eyes are the wrong color and I am totally not the pokemon master
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Go wish my soul bro :iconradiius: a happy birthday and stuff cause she's wonderful and she deserves more love <3 I could write a big sappy paragraph about WHY, but I think she knows by now :3
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I want this on a t shirt so much :P

Lije Baley and Daneel Olivaw once again drawn while I was in an Asimov obsessive mood. And yes it may be fangirlish shipping but this is an actual line from Robots of Dawn honest guv would i lie to you... O_O

(Yes it's actually "do not, for your own sake, test the force of our [pause] love" if we're being pedantic but this version sounds snappier)
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Been working on this the last couple days cos I got addicted to Asimov again...

These guys are Lije Baley (dark hair), Earthman and Police Detective, and his partner R. Daneel Olivaw, Spacer and robot, from Isaac Asimov's robot novels :D Specifically this would be set during Caves of Steel (the first one) cos Baley looks like a miserable git cos he hates the robots and resents being partnered up with one for the investigation. 

Photoshop, I dunno maybe a day total? Simple background cos lazy and not good at backgrounds but trying!
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I have a couple sketch paintings of Daneel from last November, but this is the only one I'll upload. When I looked at it again, the other one is not worth uploading due to low quality haha.
I never finished this because there are too many things wrong with it - I made some touch-ups today (fixed the face as best I could), but it's too old to be salvaged without basically repainting the entire thing.

AH I need to do a recent, updated version of Daneel. This year, I hope. And Lije, too ;___;

Anyway, hope someone maybe likes it! This series needs more fanart. But I hope they never try to make a Hollywood movie out of a it (still trying to erase the horrors of I, Robot the movie from my mind).
A TV series could be promising, though! Something similar in tone to Enterprise, maybe.
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Finished part of my batch of commissions, took a break by drawing some datalore slashy stuff. ;p A little under 2 hours.
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Junky sketch of Daneel Olivaw with Lije Baley ;;

Two wonderful characters from Asimov's Robot Novels series.
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