Network


417
Posted by: Orisla Admin

(Sticky) Welcome to Orisla


Welcome to Orisla, Islanders.

We are making it so that this site is self-moderated by the users without direct intervention from site moderators. This is being done to take an honest look at the human collective and to attempt to improve it. We will be making changes to the site periodically in order to facilitate this, but while we are in beta we may need to close the site down periodically until we can implement those changes.
Users who create Topics or Sub-Categories will be in charge of moderating them, but you will receive a share of the income your Topic/Sub-Category generates.

Here is a quick breakdown of how much you'll receive:
Topics:

Recognition given to Topic:

User who made the topic: 50%

Site: 50%

Note: If you create a Topic with a Paywall, you will receive 90% of the Recognition given to access content behind the paywall and the site will receive 10%

 
Recognition given to comment within a Topic:

User who made topic: 10%

User who received recognition: 45%

Site: 45%

Sub-Categories:

Recognition given to a Topic in a Sub-Category:

User who made topic: 60%

Creator of the Sub-Category: 20%

Site: 20%

Note: this is the same for Paywalls created in Sub-Categories

 

Recognition given to a comment in a Topic in a Sub-Category:

User who made the comment: 60%

User who made the topic: 10%

User who created the Sub-Category: 10%

Site: 20%

 
Here is a little information on what the site and larger project hope to accomplish.

This project was created as a means of providing every person with everything they need to lead a happy and successful life.  It is my personal attempt as a case manager to fix some issues with the application of practical wrap-around care.

The funds gained from this project will go towards:

    Developing and implementing new programs for the website
    Modernizing emergency shelters into a self-sufficient community format.

The programs on this site will come in the form of amenities and services.
Some of these will have a cost and others will pay you.
For instance, the Reward Tab allows businesses to pay you to watch their advertisements.

The emergency shelters we will be constructing will not be bunk beds in a building with many other families / strangers, but will be individual homes with enough rooms and garden space to feed the family as well as provide the means for extra income in a variety of ways.
If you become a resident you will have total freedom as long as you meet at least once per month with the on site caseworker, and refrain from harming yourself or others.
Other organizations may have strict specifications as to who qualifies to become a resident, but here, we trust you to know when you're having an emergency.

Please make sure you bring your best to this program as we would love to see it grow until everyone has food to eat, a place to stay, and the means to find fulfilling work.

If you'd like to read more, please use the About Us located at the bottom of the page.

(Also, here is a reminder of the suggested site rules. If you would like to participate in the discussion to update or alter these rules, please follow this link: https://orisla.com/network/all/326 )

Minor - Warning
1. Failing to utilize site designations correctly (we should anticipate most new users will need some direction here. The site designations can be confusing at first).
2. Posting someone else's content without citing a source / indicating it is  Not OC (Not original content)
3. Spamming Comments
4. Inappropriate username / avatar

Medium - Bans: 1 day to 1 week
1. Speech that is attacking individuals or groups
2. Failing to adjust accordingly following repeated warnings
3. Attempting to steal the content from other users for financial gain
4. Posting NSFW content outside of a NSFW designated sub-category

Major - Block
1. Failing to adjust accordingly following repeated bans
2. Scamming others / Posting links to Phishing or harmful sites
3. Impersonating another individual, or pretending to represent an organization
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24
Posted by: Javid
Last reply: Javid

Job opportunity for American English native speakers

Hi. The small company i work for wants to teach English. I live in  eastern Europe region, most people here are Russian speaking, a few young people learned English at school. I decided that unlike 99% of such companies here, we should involve a native speaker in our classes.


Salary: $20 - 25 for one session (90 minutes). If we attract many students, you will be able to participate in as many as possible sessions, thus earning more. 

Requirements: 1) a native American English speaker 2) a kind, responsible person 3) we have huge time zone difference so when it's day time here, it will be probably night there. You may need to work at night 

Exactly what you will do? Kind of like personal assistant. I start a lesson on, say, "Airport" or "English numbers". You are available, on a video call (zoom). Together with students, I explain new vocabulary items. I may ask you to pronounce words, or if we have a text, you may be asked to read it so students can hear native speaker 

Simply comment and I will arrange a short interview. Thanks so much 


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Last reply:
Javid
3
Posted by: princessblossom17
Last reply: Angege

Sunrise? or Sunset?

Me both got to share our sunset vibes here, last week.


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Last reply:
Angege
417
Posted by: Orisla Admin
Last reply: Jannah

Sitewide Update: Changes to Sub-Categories and Shops! (Updated 3/18)

Hello Islanders!

We have made some changes to the site, some noticeable and some.... less so.
You may have noticed we have shops now! This is still in beta so let us know if you run into any snags. We've been hard at work for this for a while, and they're still getting new features all the time. 

Shops:
- Private and public sub-categories attached to your shop (and vice versa). 
- Roles can be added to your shops (recognition split but with specific permissions and multiple users in one Role)
- Stock (no sales will go through if you run out of stock)
- Sales
- Image carousel for your listings
- We fixed some bugs that were causing your forms and listings to not save / erase progress during the shop creation stage
- We updated the design!
- We can now remove shops

Rewards:
- You won't be stepping on eachothers toes when obtaining Recognition from Rewards anymore!

Sub-Categories:
- Your sub-category descriptions can now be as long as you want!
- You can have a custom banner for your sub-category! (We are still updating this)
- You can see how many people are following a sub-category and how much Recognition has been exchanged there!
- Coming soon: You'll be able to see the top adjectives used to rate other users in the description
- We have updated the banner uploading process so you can crop the image you're using
- You can now request access to a private sub-category from a link to that specific sub-category


(Also, here is a reminder of the site rules. If you would like to participate in the discussion to update or alter these rules, please follow this link: https://orisla.com/network/all/326 )

Minor - Warning
1. Failing to utilize site designations correctly (we should anticipate most new users will need some direction here. The site designations can be confusing at first).
2. Posting someone else's content without citing a source / indicating it is  Not OC (Not original content)
3. Spamming Comments
4. Inappropriate username / avatar

Medium - Bans: 1 day to 1 week
1. Speech that is attacking individuals or groups
2. Failing to adjust accordingly following repeated warnings
3. Attempting to steal the content from other users for financial gain
4. Posting NSFW content outside of a NSFW designated sub-category

Major - Block, Site-wide Block
1. Failing to adjust accordingly following repeated bans
2. Scamming others / Posting links to Phishing or harmful sites
3. Impersonating another individual, or pretending to represent an organization
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Last reply:
Jannah
0
Posted by: viper
Last reply: iam_louise

What is your dream job?

My dream job is to be a singer! 

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Last reply:
iam_louise
3
Posted by: princessblossom17
Last reply: princessblossom17

Anime Lover's

Hi,


I will be sharing our One Piece collections here.

Here is Luffy Gear 5.

Please feel free to share yours too.

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Last reply:
princessblossom17
3
Posted by: princessblossom17
Last reply: princessblossom17

Crazy thoughts

Light's on?
when?

Lights off?
when?
----------------------
Me: 
light's off when sleeping time (with the company)

light's on when alone (in the house). I am a scary cat!

Share yours, lol!

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Last reply:
princessblossom17
8
Posted by: Hiraeth
Last reply: princessblossom17

Any opinions or advise before starting up a business?

So yeah, I am planning to start a small 'online' business and doing some research for it. Anyone who can give some insights, opinion or just an advise before diving in to the world of Business?


Thank you so much~!
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princessblossom17
8
Posted by: Hiraeth
Last reply: Basma1990

Have you ever been HYPNOTIZED or experienced it?

Do you have any experience being hypnotized just by talking or staring to someone or some thing?

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Last reply:
Basma1990
417
Posted by: Orisla Admin
Last reply: BigOleBobcat

Sitewide Discussion on Rules, please read.

UPDATED: 9/8/2023

Hello everyone, and thank you again for being a part of the early stages of this project. I can happily say that we are succeeding in our goal of having a positive initial culture. With that in mind, we have been in discussion to try to figure out how we want to handle times in which the rules are violated. Because this platform is attempting to operate differently than other platforms, we want the community to have a say in how these violations are handled.

Below is a list of the tools moderators have at their disposal once a topic is reported.
Note - These are utilized by site moderators but also by the individuals who have created a topic or a sub-category. Don't forget you are responsible for moderating your topics and sub-categories. In exchange you receive a cut of every Recognition exchanged in your topic/sub-category. If you do not want that responsibility you are welcome to put someone else's username in the Recognition Split and they can moderate it for you. If the user who owns the topic or sub-category bans or blocks the user in question, they will not have access to that topic or sub-category. If a site moderator bans or blocks someone, the user will not have access to the site.

Warning - the user will receive a pop-up text box with a message from the moderator

Ban - a temporary block from the Topic or sub-category.

Block - a permanent ban

How do you want to use these tools? 
What kinds of content requires intervention? 
What kind of intervention should it receive?

I'll update this Topic to include the discussion points.

Updates:
We have received some feedback and are in the process of incorporating it into the current structure. The discussion now continues to allocate which offenses are considered Minor, Medium, or Major.

Minor - Warning
1. Failing to utilize site designations correctly (we should anticipate most new users will need some direction here. The site designations can be confusing at first).
2. Posting someone else's content without citing a source / indicating it is  Not OC (Not original content)
3. Spamming Comments
4. Inappropriate username / avatar
5.

Medium - Bans: 1 day to 1 week
1. Speech that is attacking individuals or groups
2. Failing to adjust accordingly following repeated warnings
3. Attempting to steal the content from other users for financial gain
4. Posting NSFW content outside of a NSFW designated sub-category
5.

Major - Block, Site-wide Block
1. Failing to adjust accordingly following repeated bans
2. Scamming others / Posting links to Phishing or harmful sites
3. Impersonating another individual, or pretending to represent an organization
4.

Thoughts?
Anything we need to add or change?
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Last reply:
BigOleBobcat
244
Posted by: Captain Peanut
Last reply: Basma1990

Untitled story I'm working on. Work with me on it if you want!

This is the first three chapters of a story I've been working on for a while. I'm posting it here for feedback, with the intention of utilizing the Recognition Split feature to reward anyone who chooses to work with me on it with a percentage of the profits once it's done. 


Chapter 1 
A place where chapters begin

There was a commotion over the hill.
Resting his hand gently on the fence he was meant to be repairing, the little devil let the wave of wanderlust wash over him. Holding onto it for just a moment, he let his mind roam wild with as much abandon as he could manage. Kaleidoscopic colors popped in his mind to describe the sounds of people who were neither angry nor disappointed. His eyes fixed on the large hill that stood between him and the rest of the world, and wished dearly that he could walk the dirt road around it. Lost in reverie, he missed the crescendoing thomps of footsteps in the mud behind him.
The colors went out at once as a wooden rod thudded into the nape of his neck.
“Back to work,” grumbled the coarse and cantankerous burp of a slurring voice owned by the red faced man, “For fucksssake, I swear I’ll mend the fence with your bones.”
Used to the garish threats of the unhealthy bloated old ghoul as well as the freakish casual greeting, the little devil willed the blinding black curtain back behind his eyes. The stars lingered for a moment longer but the ringing left as soon as it came.
“What’s all that for?” The small one gestured with his eyes towards the hill, specifically the sounds behind it, as he returned to mending the old fence.
The man scratched his stubble-ridden chins and pondered the question, “Ther’ havin’ a festival.”
The small one tried hard to shift his focus between his work and any sign or clue the man might give him, and waited. The big one stared wistfully towards the hill, his eyes glazed over as sorrow flickered across his expression. The small one nearly hit his thumb with a mallet and quickly decided he needed to pay just a bit more attention to what he was doing.
The man’s brow furrowed as he picked up a mallet from the ground.
“A big fuckin’ get together,” he continued, a little hostility in his voice now, “Everyone who’s anyone is gonna be there. There’s gonna be cakes, and pretty ladies dancing, an-”
“-other devils?” It just blurted out. He clasped both hands over his mouth, horrified.
A harsh kick knocked him over.
Instinctively he went to the fetal position with his hands over his neck as the man continued his assault, stomping on his knees, ribs, and hands.
“Don’t - You - Ever - Inter - Rupt - Me!” He howled like a wounded animal, enraged by its own suffering. Beginning to wheeze, the man stopped kicking.
“You just keep on taking,” the man shook his head with disgust, seeming to have burned off his rage.
The little devil waited a moment longer, if he made eye contact too soon the man might start kicking again. Worse, he might hit him with the mallet instead.
“Other devils,” the red faced man echoed, “You know what? You’re old enough. There are some other devils there. Want to know what they’re for?”
The boy’s eyes shot open, hopeful for something new.
Crawling back to a crouch to resume working, he could see the man was staring at the hill again. Unbidden, the man continued.
“The poor bastards,” he shook his head, “Worked to death, beaten to death, fucked to death. They chase ‘em down and beat ‘em if they don’t belong to someone important. They ship ‘em off to the front lines of wars, use ‘em to see if the weapons work. See how hot the fire is, how strong the poison, the acid.”
The red faced man turned an eye to the boy, working diligently on the fence and not making eye contact. Leaning forward meaningfully, he finished his sentiment, “We didn’t want that for you, so you better be grateful.”
The small one nodded and said, “Thank you for saving me,” as practiced a thousand times before. He learned it on a long and dreadful night early in his memory.
The man nodded, content with himself, and continued working.
The little devil continued to work, his eyes continuing to glance up towards the hill. He could hear music coming from the unseen city, light and happy noises he had never seen a person make. His fascination continued to grow. He had heard some sounds before, but this was far louder and far more jubilant than any other festival he’d been aware of from this side of the fence. One word would rise above the jubilant trumpets, drums and lyres; the only discernible word in the cacophony.
“W-” He tried to will himself to stop, to just keep working.
The man stopped nailing boards into the mallet and cast him a cranky sidelong glare.
A quick deep breath later and the boy plowed ahead, “They keep shouting ‘Light’, what does that mean?”
The man rolled his eyes but humored him, “Some people’re havin’ destinies kissed by the beauteous light of fate. Lucky for them, huh?”
The boy nodded as he thought about this. He didn’t really know what it meant to have a destiny kissed by fate, but if it meant they threw festivals for you…
“Could…”, the little devil’s hands were shaking and his voice came as a breathless whisper, “Could… I … have a destiny kissed by the… bootiest… light of fate? Could I meet my parents then?”
The man’s expression grew dark and grim as he stared at the small one. The boy tried to focus on the work but was distracted and frightened by the look on the man’s face. He gulped loudly as a knot grew in his tiny throat, and steadied himself against the fence as his legs began to shake. The man was still staring; he seemed to have become a statue, not even breathing or with a beating heart.
The sound of a horses galloping hooves against the dirt road rose from behind the hill, and soon a very silly dressed man appeared from around the side. Powder on his face and in a very uncomfortable looking suit, he rode daintily towards the two of them. The horse matched the weird display, with bells and lace adorning its face and saddle. The pair of them held up their noses as they stopped on the other side of the fence.
The red faced man didn’t address the stranger or his snooty horse until addressed.
“A-hem,” the dainty one said aloud rather than just clear his throat, “Gerald of Drea-Leaf Estates?”
The red faced man’s expression grew ever darker as he rose, a slight snarl forming on the edges of his mouth. The little devil shuddered: he would surely catch a beating later.
He turned to face the dainty man with a murderous rage buried beneath his visage as he growled, “Aye.”
The little devil pretended not to notice that he knew the red faced man’s name was Gerald, or that he had heard their neighbors address him as such in the past.
The dainty man didn’t notice, hadn’t really seemed to have opened his eyes at any point. Nevertheless, he stuck out his hand. In it, he held a rolled up scroll with a sky blue ribbon, sealed with gold bands.
The expression was gone from the red faced man’s face, his rage a forgotten memory. Dreamily, confusedly, he reached out his hand and took the parcel from the dainty stranger.
The snooty horse, sensing their purpose had passed, turned them both around and pranced back to some better smelling place.
“No,” the red faced man shook his head in disbelief at the scroll in his hand, “You have no place with order and fate, I knew that the moment I first saw you. The second the sun touched you, we both knew…”
Turning, he left his tools and supplies where they lay as he began the long walk back to the small shack in the middle of the large and ruined property where the sharp lady would be waiting.
“No,” he said again, “You’ve already been claimed..”
 Chap 1 Part 2
The scroll remained at the forefront of his mind as the little devil watched the man leave. Knowing he was meant to stay and fix the fence, he couldn’t follow behind him. But O the desperation! Panic began to well in his chest and he found himself having to concentrate to avoid hyperventilating. He’d never seen the man look so lost or speak so fluently. Something shook him. Something important. Something important was in that letter. Something about him, his destiny.
He watched the man’s frame become smaller as he walked down the hilly rows that clearly used to be maintained but now mostly held adolescent trees and weeds. Once the man was out of sight his limbs moved on their own. He tore through the foliage as silently as he could manage as he followed the man back to the small shack.
His foot got caught in a root at the top of a hill and he fell with the aplomb of an avalanche down the hill. Sitting still he looked over to see if the man had spotted him, but he continued to walk with head down, staring at the scroll in his hand.
Realizing that the man was in his own world, the little devil crept silently along the path, ready to duck behind a tree should he turn around suddenly.
The insects appeared to be holding out for more appealing mates and the wind seemed to have left for better foliage: even the birds became bored with intruders and gossip. The man walked slowly still, eyes fixated on the rolled up scroll with the daintily tied sky blue ribbon with the golden seal.
Familiar, the nauseating stench of The Hungry One met the little devils’ nostrils as they rounded the last hill. The dilapidated old shack they called home sank slowly in the mud next to the tin shed and shoddily but sturdily stacked fencing of the old hog who called it home as well. Once a prized hog who ruled over many denizens who later found their way onto tables, now she was a bitter artifact of a gentler time.
The man did not look up as he walked into the shack, but did close the door firmly behind him. Since the door did not sit level on its hinges and the latch never seemed to catch entirely, it took him several tries. Normally there would have been more cursing, but today he silently and calmly pulled it closed five, six, seven times before it finally cooperated.
The red faced man was aware that the little devil used to listen from outside the door, and had already taken care to move deeper in and whisper. There were three decent places to eavesdrop from: the door, the “bedroom” “wall”, and behind the fireplace. The red faced man had chosen the bedroom wall as he did not want to be overheard and there was nowhere else to go. The little devil’s wide eyes flitted desperately over to the slits between the panels of the “bedroom” “wall”, within the pen which imprisoned The Hungry One.
“Nnnnnnnnnn” he inadvertently hummed. Biting his thumb to stop the hum, he realized he was going to have to go into the pen. On his forearm he bore a scar from the hog’s nasty bite. Having fallen in while trying to feed it a bit of grass, it had latched on to him for several hours before the red faced man had pulled him out. The infection had taken its toll as well, bedridden with high fever for a period of time he could not discern. He didn’t notice the rise and fall of the sun and wasn’t important enough to be told.
Goosebumps appeared on his skin, his breath became shallow, cold sweat formed on his forehead. Forcing himself to not gasp, he ordered his nerves to quiet and allow him to proceed.
He swung his legs over the fence railing and quietly landed in the eternal slop of the Hungry One’s domain.
Not thinking twice about the smell or the mess, he slid quietly on his belly across the length of the shack. His eyes stayed fixated on the shack, whose shadows contained The Hungry One.
“Mmmph mphmemenphen” came the distorted voice up ahead.
Closer, closer, closer, resisting the need to clench his eyes closed with every push. Every motion, every possibility for a sound that would alert the god forsaken abomination within that tin shed threatened to stop his heart completely.
Finally he came to nestle beneath the “window” in the “wall” of the “bedroom”.
“Ye gods, Gerald,” the sharp woman was inside with him.
Normally she sounded angry and brittle, every word would stab and splinter inside intended to be felt for days or years at least. Her cries were no different.
“Ye gods, Gerald,” she repeated mournfully, “He can’t come here!”
“I don’t know,” the red faced man was crying, “Nothing’s made any sense, any sense a’tall…”
“I can’t bear it Gerald,” the sharp woman seemed to rise from the bed and her footsteps suggested she had walked to the corner, no doubt to face it and hug her knife-like elbows. There was silence for a moment.
Bitter, tense, resentful silence.
Quietly at first, a huffing of breath rose, quickly followed by heaving of shoulders and gnashing of teeth.
“Ye gods,” she shouted, “Just smite us already! Chop me into bits and feed me to the birds,” she sobbed, “anything… anything but this,” there were odd gasping sounds, “Anything but the shame! You-should’ve-killed-him-Gerald, you should’ve… just…”
The boy’s heart threatened to escape his chest as The Hungry One snorted lazily from within the tin shed.
“No,” The red faced man’s indignant sobs began to turn to anger, “Don’t you put that at my feet! You couldn’t do it either, you wouldn’t!”
“I tried damn you!” she shouted, “I held him under the water until he stopped drawing breath, but he did not die!”
“I threw him in with Rosie but he did not bleed out!”
The little devil could remember these moments clearly, but was most concerned with the Hungry One. The shouting reverberated with the tin, rousing the bloated boar to one…. two heavy hooves. The little devil feverishly began to slide away.
“Why couldn’t he have just died?! I just wanted to farm tea and be respected by my sister, now I can’t…” she broke out into full sobs for the last words, “Just kill me Gerald, just get it over with, I can’t do this anymore!”
He joined in, “Why can’t we all have just died?!!”
Sobs dampened by fabric like harrowing distorted screams were all that was left. The little devil waited for half a minute before deciding all had been said and he turned his attention towards leaving the pen.
“Don’t touch me!” came the abrupt protest like shattering glass.
There was a wet slap as one of them struck the other and the screaming began.
The little devil watched in horror as The Hungry One’s smushed face appeared from the side of the tin shack. It caught him right away within its beady eye-line, tilted its head back, and squealed mightily. Unable to contain his initial cry of fright, he scurried to his feet and was over the other fence rail well as its battering ram of a head crashed against it.
A guttural, primal roar emanated from inside as the red faced man got wise.
“This is all your fault!” The red faced man’s voice thundered through the trees and seemed to vibrate the ground.
Has he ever been so angry?
The little devil didn’t slow down, he tore through the unkempt hills and maintained his stride until he was at the far end of the property.
He paused now, away from the bite of the hog and from the wrath of the red faced man and the cold bottomless pit of despair that was the sharp lady, he took a deep breath and steadied himself.
Ventured but naught gained, he held out hope for one last domain. Surely - when it came to the festival - the neighbors would be talking.
Chap 1 part 3

“Beverly,” the well dressed boy whispered to his well dressed sister. Even in nightgowns speaking in the dark, the little devil who lay in the thorny bush outside felt a twinge of envy. He couldn’t remember the first time he had seen the well-dressed family’s carriage go by the farm, but he could remember what the well-dressed man always said, “Should’ve killed him Gerald, there’s still time.”.
“Beverly,” the well dressed boy whispered more emphatically.
“Oh. My God. What.” Came the posh response of his sister, “I want to sleep and see the Grey Lady and be princesses.”
The little devil knew this was a recurring dream brought on by the stories the well dressed woman would read to her well dressed children. His personal favorite was the one about the Sacred Warrior Kai.
“Beverly,” He said again, the stupid bastard, “Tell me about the Lord of Light.”
The well dressed girl let out a great exasperated sigh, “You already know about the lord of light, I’m not going to tell you again. Goodnight Geoffrey.”
“Why didn’t he come?” There was a rustling of very soft sounding bedsheets, he must have sat up, “Why couldn’t we see him?”
The girl smacked herself in the forehead, “Because he didn’t like the Lord Aeris; shut up Geoffrey or I’m going to tell momma.”
 There was silence for a long while. The little devil considered slowly making his way out of the bush. There were lots of leaves and thorns, he had to move very slowly to not make any noise. He inhaled deeply to prepare himself for the task ahead, but the well-dressed boy began again.
“But why didn’t he like the Lordaris?” He was too small to say it correctly, “Will we go again tomorrow?”
It sounded like the well dressed girl was thrashing in her bed, “I DON’T KNOW, GEOFFREY, GO TO BED.”
“Hey!” The little devil nearly jumped out of his skin as the sound of the well dressed man’s angry voice was heard from outside the bush, “I knew I’d catch you here!”
It was the worst case scenario, he had been caught.
“I thought you were too smart to trespass on to my property,” The well dressed man said with a snarl as the moon caught flickered across the bow he was raising, “But here you are, wrapped yourself up in my roses. Better stay still, or you’ll shred yourself on those thorns,” the moonlight flickered again on an arrowhead as the well-dressed man pulled hard against the draw-string, “What can I say, I’ve always been lucky like that.”
The little devil tore through the thorn bush, leaving ragged cloth and torn flesh in its vines as he fled around the side of the home with a surprising alacrity.
Thwip
Thud
An arrow violently buried itself in the corner beam of the home by his head as he beelined directly back to his property line. The arrows continued to fly as the man chased after him, both running at full tilt. The little devil rolled down the hill, the property line was within sight.
“Fucking whore!” The well dressed man shouted as he slipped on a tree root, “Augh!”
Another arrow landed into the fence he had spent the day mending as he launched over it.
“Safe!” He thought, lifting both arms in exultation.
Thud
He spun to the ground.
His hands immediately went to his collarbone, where he found an arrow. It had pushed through from behind his neck and protruded below his right nipple.
He bit back a cry and stayed still in case the well dressed man chose to fire again.
The shouts and curses began to fade, he had sprained his ankle during the chase and was headed back to his house, content he made his point.
The little devil bit his thumb as some cries escaped his lips. He dare not move, lest his death soon follow.
He stared at the arrowhead coming out of his belly as he lay on his side, and held his neck with his hands. He rocked back and forth gently, he had no idea what to do and could think of nothing other than to hope he would be found by someone who would eventually decide to help him.
He did know that he couldn’t stay here, the well-dressed man had been hurt. He would absolutely come to finish him off if he lingered.
Cries escaped his lips as his body pulled into the fetal position, hot tears flowed as he realized he was going to have to get up and walk back to the shack, and hope the red faced man would take pity on him. He had been mad earlier, as mad as he had ever seen him. And here he was, as hurt as he had ever been.
Quietly and quickly, he failed several times to get back onto his feet. The angle was odd, and he had to stand without bending his torso at all. Nevertheless, he stood on his feet and began the walk back home through the overgrowth.
Through his teary eyes every blade of grass looked like an arm sticking out of the ground, every tree like the well-dressed man and his drawn bow, every gust of wind was feet in the leaves. Finally, he could not contain his cries any longer and he sobbed openly as the fire through the windowpanes became visible.
He stepped on the threshold and for the first time paused to think of what he would say.
A calloused hand wrapped around his throat, and the red faced man materialized behind him.
He spoke in a mocking, sing-song tone full of malice, “I gooooooooooot youuuuuuu”.
Chap 1 part 4
If the red faced man was at all aware of the grievous wound, he offered no sign as he threw the little devil to the ground. The wound protested loudly, reverberating through his small frame from where the arrow wriggled as he hit the ground and rolled onto his side.
In his panic he had failed to notice the heavy alcohol sweat diffusing through the air around them. The red faced man staggered towards the boy unevenly, it was a miracle he was standing at all.
“Whaddre you doinnn,” the red faced man slurred badly, “Tryin’ to make me feel bad?”
He lifted the heavy boot and crashed it back onto the boy’s wrist.
A whimper caught in his throat as he stifled the scream; screaming would make him more violent. He shook his head back and forth and tried to find a defensive position, but could only manage to roll onto his side under the weight of the red faced man. A harsh kick to his shoulder forced him back onto his back where he lay gasping, winded.
“Aiiiii…. Know where youu … belong,” the moon caught his eyes for a moment, casting a malicious gleam as he grabbed the little devil by his ankle, dragging him towards the shack. He pulled his arms in and tilted his neck forward to keep the arrow from catching on the ground as he bounced around the ruts and loose stones, through the mud… towards the pig-pen.
He gritted his teeth and closed his eyes as the man swung him over the fence and threw him into the pen. Bouncing through the muck, he came to a halt on his stomach, the thin metal shack which housed the hungry one just a few meters away.
“I’mmmm… doin’ you a favor, freak,” the red faced man didn’t sound angry anymore, somehow that was more worrying.
The little devil’s breathing became shallow and his face very pale as the man stumbled over to the shed and rapped his knuckles on it with a grave sternness. His rage had vanished quickly, replaced by a kind of sadistic fascination occasionally worn by sociopaths who aren’t totally sure they’re ready for what they’re about to see. A shrill cry pierced the night as the hungry one awoke. Fat footsteps thudded inside as the wall trembled against the weight of the shifting hog.
It emerged teeth first, a misshapen and treacherous maw that was known to take indiscriminate testing bites from anything that wandered too close. Rough chomps on the fence-post were a warning, though not always a heeded one. The shed reeked of small dead things that weren’t very good at math.
From his spot in the mud he could only watch in horror.
A series of grunts like a reaper’s chuckle escaped from deep within the beast as its beady eyes rested on the little devil. It took one deliberate step towards him, then two, then three, realizing now that he wasn’t running.
Thoroughly gripped by terror, he swallowed the lump in his throat and caught the eys of the red faced man, now looking like he was very far away.
“Y-you’re right,” He stuttered desperately, “I-I-I.. Let me make it up to you!”
Unphased, the man’s unfocused eyes were aimed towards the hog, nearly on top of the boy now.
“I’ll do anything,” he shifted his weight back, trying in vain to crawl away as his limbs just would not cooperate.
There was a whistle from down the dirt path leading up to the home,
The well-dressed man with his two children were walking towards them.
“Help!” He cried out to them as loudly as he could manage, but it came out as a hoarse whisper, “Please help!”
“Wow, Gerald,” Disregarding the little devil completely, the well-dressed man grinned wide, “You shoulda done this a long time ago.”
The girl, still in her nightgown, squeezed her father’s hand, “Why’s he in there like that?”
The man grimaced as a bitter hatred filled his eyes, “He’s part of what’s wrong with the world, baby, neighbor Gerald is doing a good thing.”
Satisfied with that explanation, she nodded solemnly as the screaming began from inside the pen.
The boy chimed in next, “Is he gonna get ate by the pig, daddy?”
The man nodded, “Yup he sure is.”
“Alla youu,” Gerald seemed angry again, “Git offa my land, thisissa private… family… thing”
The well dressed man nodded. He had come to complain about the devil but this was even better than what he was going to ask for in restitution. He ushered his children back down the path where they came.
The well dressed girl looked up at her father as they walked hand in hand, “Why won’t he die?’
“He’s only got a few bites out of him. Don’t worry though sweetie, he will,” The man placed his daughter on his shoulder.
She could barely hear his explanation over the screams as the boy begged for his life, but she nodded and rested her cheek on her father’s hat, suddenly very weary.
Inside the pen the hog was taking its time. Blood soaking its snout, it paused to look at the moon. Full circle, it had been waiting for the day it could finish what it started.
The beady eyes narrowed as it lowered its head back to the little devil’s ribs, glistening now in the moonlight. Pushing its nose around the wound, nudging the arrow as it considered the tenderest place to start, it didn’t hear the red faced man come up from behind it…
Thwack!
…until he began beating it with a cane. Squealing, it retreated into the reeking shed.
“Yurrr not… gonna poison my hog with your foul blood,” he said quietly, sternly, standing over the little devil as he gasped for breaths.
He looked helplessly up at the red faced man, trying to decipher what the far-off look on his face meant. Was that… shame?
“You’ll… scrubthe tiller…,” the man struggled to say. The alcohol was doing its job, he wouldn’t be conscious for long.
The boy nodded emphatically, eyes wide with panic. Would he be pulled from the pen before the man passed out?
“Builda mah fence,” he paused as though waiting for a reaction or response, but continued before one could be given, “Stop…mopin’... so damn much.”
He finally broke eye contact and looked towards the marks in the ground where the boy had skidded through the muck.
The little devil shook his head emphatically again, straining the sore bones and muscles in his neck.
“Fine,” the man said as he turned to walk away, “Goodnight.”
“W-Wait!” he cried out, casting a sidelong glance at the opening of the shed where the hungry one’s enraged and grinding teeth were visible, shaving off their own enamel and creating a sound like nails on a chalkboard.
The man sighed heavily before grabbing the boy by his hair and dragging him again to the edge of the pen towards a rain barrel. Hoisting him up, he dropped the boy into the water.
He sputtered and coughed as his face fell below the surface. Craning his neck up, he managed to just barely get his mouth and nose out of the water.
“Nowww… ol’ Rosie won’t…” he mimed three big bites, very drunk, ”getcha”.
Content with his acts of charity, the red faced man stumbled towards the pen and collapsed on his way over. With one leg aloft in the air, face down in the mud outside the pen, a loud snore echoed through the cold night air.
Satisfied that they were effectively alone again, the hungry one chortled and wandered lazily over to the barrel. Sniffing the outer wall near his shoulder, it pushed on the heavy barrel with all its might. If it knocked the barrel over it would pick up where it left off, but all he could think about was breathing as the fetid water continued to try to fill his mouth and nose.
With no way to measure time, he could do nothing but struggle as the seconds ticked along. As the seconds came and left, they took with them any hope he had that he would see the sun rise.
Vibrations from the hungry one trying in vain to find a weak spot in the barrel reverberated through the water, he could feel its grunts throughout his whole body. The stagnant water seeped in around the arrow, he could feel the chill as it dripped steadily.
Sanity became slippery as his body became oddly calm, dreams came to him and passed. More and more, he began to wonder why he was struggling at all. Even if he got out of this situation, he would still be a little devil, would still be on this farm with the red faced man and sharp lady and have to share a wall with the well dressed family. He would still have to care for the hungry one and bow down and cry and take beatings. Why not just… stop?
He thought of the sounds from the festival, how nice it would have been to go. Just once, he would have liked to leave the farm and see the city. Even if they were every bit as awful as the red faced man always said, could they really be worse than this? He resigned that if he survived this night he would run away, run far around the hill and never return.
At one point in the night - who knew how many hours later - he could have sworn he felt the skeletal fingers of the sharp woman wrap around his neck and force him down. He sputtered as his face broke the surface again, gasping for another confused breath before he was forced down again. This time the hand held him under until the pressure broke and his body shuddered and he couldn’t remember where he was.
The wanderlust returned, time to go he thought as his face broke the surface again. Trying to straighten his legs to walk down the path, he remembered his predicament.
The hand was gone, and did not return that night.
He didn’t hear the morning birds or see the early morning light, but the emergence of the black flies told him it was morning. The strength had only just returned to his arms, and he managed to hook them over the edge of the barrel. Leaning forward, the arrow emitted a dull pain if only just to remind him that it was there. He was past caring, and rested against the side of the barrel.
A promise is a promise, he thought, I’m going to leave this place, and I’m never coming back.

Chapter 2
A place where chapters continue
The red faced man was still asleep when the guests arrived, and didn’t wake until the sound of a whinny roused his aching middle aged situation. Surveying the world with bleary eyes and the face of a man with a hell of a migraine, he leaned over and vomited as the sound of horses and men grew ever nearer.
Instinctively the little devil slid deeper into the barrel; there were no good strangers.
He heard the horses trot slow in front of the gate. Normally his heart rate would have picked up, but being so near to death, he listened intently with a quiet curiosity.
Four horses stopped in front of the small shack, waiting at the fence that separated the yard from the greater estate. A man’s voice, stingy and in an accent the boy didn’t recognize but immediately disliked, broke the silence.
“What a shit-hole!” he announced as if he were proud of his incredible descriptive ability..
There was a ruffle of fabric and clinging of metal as multiple people dismounted in succession.
The little devil felt his curiosity grow. There was a small crack between two of the boards near the top of the barrel, and he repositioned himself quietly so as to spy them through it.
Four peculiar figures stood in front of the gated yard before the shack, staring disapprovingly at the red faced man still half-asleep and covered in vomit and pig shit.
“Horus!” The stingy man proclaimed. A moment passed and nothing happened. He sighed dramatically before whining, “The gate”.
Standing behind the others with his arms crossed was a man in a black tunic with a copious amount of stark white hair. Poised gracefully with her hands held up before her as if in prayer was a beautiful woman wearing a highly stylized dress that looked like the petals of a large flower. A shorter fat man in a brown robe hustled up to the gate and, struggling for a moment, opened it for an equally short thin man in a regal uniform who shook his head and frowned.
The stingy man in regal garb marched forward, his first step inside the fence splashing a circle of muck up onto his trousers. His expression twisted into totally unveiled disgust, horror, and despair.
“Oh!” He proclaimed with thespian flair, “Burn them! Burn this horrible place down!”
The man in black pushed forward with a heavy sigh, bumping the regal man with his shoulder as he walked to the door and knocked, ignoring the red faced man entirely. Surely this was a servant with no authority. Turning back to face the regal man, he stepped aside and mock bowed, presenting the door with both hands.
The sharp woman answered, took one look at the group assembled beyond the door, and immediately began to howl.
“Ohhhhhhh!” She yelled at the top of her lungs in a tone the boy couldn’t quite decipher. Happy? Surprised? Frightened? Gravely concerned? It all seemed to be there.
“Ahhhhhhh!” She continued after a breath. She ran back into the shack, ‘Gerald! Do something!”
There was a rustle as the red faced man grumbled to his feet, “It’s too fucking early for this. You’re early. The scroll said the 14th, it’s the 10th.””
“‘No later than the 14th’,” the short fat man in the brown robe corrected as he recited the exact wording of the scroll.
Ignoring them both, the regal man cleared his throat, “Congratulations are in order,” he proclaimed sarcastically, “You’ve been picked as the guide for the Lord of Light sir, by the Sage of Naer’Winmir himself no less. Apparently you’re what comes to mind for him when he thinks ‘reliable’.”
The fat man in the brown robe cleared his throat, “A-actually.. sir…”
The regal man spun around, eyes suddenly wide with exasperation, “WHAT DO YOU WANT HORUS? I’M BUSY”.
The short fat man’s posture stiffened as though he had been struck, he shook his head and said nothing.
The man in black sighed, “This isn’t the one we’re here for.”
The little devil’s head began to swim, his vision started to blur.
The regal man’s affect changed back to calm, “So the woman, then,”
He turned his attention back to the red faced man, “Go and get your….” he paused as he wondered what their relationship was, “...woman. Please.”
The sharp woman appeared suddenly from behind the door, now with her hair hastily done and with some color on her cheeks and eyes. She was wearing a dress the boy had only seen once before, he had gotten a lashing for coming near it as it hung in the closet. The next time he had done the laundry it was gone.
Her eyes were fixed on the ground. Mournfully she spoke, “Welcome, Lord Aeris, to our humble farm. What brings you here?.”
The regal man stifled an incredulous laugh, “Farm?”
“Hey!” The red faced man stumbled to his feet hastily and took a step towards the regal man, shaking his finger at him, “You ain’t takin’ my wife you bastard!”
The regal man recoiled away from his filthy approach, “T-Taberdeen!” He cried.
Immediately the man in black was between them, the red faced man’s wrist firmly but gently held secure in his hand. Towering, he looked down at him with stoic apathy.
“I remind you he is in a barrel,” The beautiful woman’s voice was gentle like the wind in spring, and seemed to carry the songs of birds. She was staring down into the rain barrel.
He could barely see her. Hot, weak, the world seemed to be getting further and further away like a hill was rising up between them and he was falling back behind the fence..
The man in black was already beside the barrel, already reaching in, hooking his hands under the boy’s arms, and laying him out in a recovery position.
She knelt down and looked at him, her face a stone mask of concentration. He could feel her eyes on his bruised arms and legs, his cracked lips, his swollen eye, his ribs, the arrow… .
“Hey kid,” The man in black said casually as his eyes fixated on where the hungry one had bitten around the protruding arrow head, “Want me to kill them?”
The boy couldn’t move or answer. He could barely process the question. His nerves were firing fast, thoroughly exhausted and overwhelmed, embarrassed and afraid.
“You said he needs to go to the twins?” The man in black whispered to the woman.
She nodded, and at once the man in black lifted him and strode towards the horses.
The red faced man shook his head and hollered, “Hey, where do you think you’re going with that?”
The regal man groaned and turned away, as if he couldn’t bear to look, “Ugh, of course it’s another Altar.”
The woman spoke again, the delicate certainty in her voice never wavering, “I remind you: I told you many times he would be.”
The red faced man stumbled past the regal man and the beautiful woman and past the fat man in the brown robes, “You can’t take him with you, who do you think you are?”
The red faced man reached for the man in black to grasp his shoulder as he placed the boy in the saddle, but stopped short. The man in black had spun around already.
A terrifying chill shot through the red faced man as he met the eyes of the man in black. Though he showed no emotion there was an undeniable, overwhelming, terrifying pressure emanating from him. The red faced man took a step back, “That’s my son you’ve got there,” he warned, “You’ll give him back or we’ll send for the Elders.”
“Send for them,” The man in black agreed, still speaking casually, with apathy, “But if you reach for me or this boy again I’m taking the hand at the wrist.”
“Wh-what?” The little devil uttered with sloppy disbelief pointed towards the red faced man.
The man in black turned a dark glare in the same direction like a building and encroaching storm cloud, “You didn’t bother to tell him.”
The red faced man, sheepish and ashamed, turned his face away from the pair of them.
“Ahem,” the fat man in brown robes cleared his throat, “Your… son has been selected by the Sage of Naer’Winmir to assist the Lord of Light on his quest.”
The beautiful woman slid into the saddle behind him with ease and aplomb, waiting eagerly now to be gone from this place.
The boy remained a rigid statue as her arms came forward around him to grasp the reins. He shook his head. None of this made any sense. A hot feeling swept through him and he felt very light, like he wasn’t really in his body. He looked around at the faces of the people who had gathered, each of them regarding him with a different expression. His vision was fading out as the black curtain came once more from behind his eyes, consuming everything. There was no way these people were going to take him with them, there was no lord of anything, Altar wasn’t a real thing and he wasn’t one, and these were not his parents. The feeling of being out of his body intensified and black clouds began encroaching across his vision. He couldn’t go with them, he needed to run away and never return.
“Can..” he began to say before he vomited brackish water onto the horse’s neck in front of him.
The horse snorted in objection but remained obedient. It stomped its right foot in annoyance.
“It is time I take him to the Spire,” the woman stated before leaning closer to the unsettled horse’s ear, “Fly, Llyewellyn.”
The horse reacted to the command, turning around with a slow trot.
“Halt!” The regal man commanded, “I didn’t say you could go!”
The woman on the horse behind him placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, “All is as it should be.”
The boy tried to continue his protest, but he felt himself finally slipping back behind the fence, the world was totally obscured and he could not see the beautiful lady any longer. He went limp as the horse picked up speed back the way they had come. The group on the ground watched the pair round the hill, the sound of hoofbeats picking up speed and then vanishing altogether.
Chapter 2 part 2

It came in pieces stitched together by indeterminable swaths of black nothing. Mounting anticipation as they round the hill which obscured his knowledge of the rest of the world for his entire life. Wry hope keeps him conscious, desperate to finally see what was being kept from him; the world he was escaping into. Around the bend he is greeted by rows of mutilated bodies on spikes. Headless torsos and bodiless heads on pikes with glossy eyes and mouths agape seemed to usher him back.
It’s all true, the red faced man was telling the truth.
Blackness.
A room full of shadows were arguing about something in frantic desperation, two small shadows plead with a larger one that seems to emanate tendrils of smoke. He doesn’t know where this is. The large shadow strikes down one of the smaller ones as it takes a step to stop him, he takes a thunderous step forward.
Blackness.
Screaming. He stands upright, bound. Rows of sharp faces in a squirming sea of movement scream in an orgasmic bliss. There are more bodies being held aloft, child sacrifices to the dark deity they praise.
This is the world on the other side of the hill.
Someone throws something at him, striking him in the face. A burning warm wetness splashes across his face as his legs buckle.
Blackness.
Calm.
Chapter 3 
Where chapters become stories
Slowly his consciousness rose to the surface of the inky blackness, illuminated more and more by the sunlight on the other side of his eyelids. It was warm and bright. He felt very little pain, but it was as though a heavy haze lingered on his thoughts. He’d been having the most horrible nightmare, but surely it was over now. Soon the red faced man would tell him to stop sleeping and get back to work. He felt no inclination to rouse himself, and thoughtlessly decided to wait for the rod that would spur him to action. Physically comfortable, he could tell an enormous weight was waiting. Something terrible had happened that needed to be dealt with, but for now he was happy to not remember. Just a few more moments of quiet and calm.
Please, he thought, let this moment last. Let’s never leave.
Now he imagined he could hear voices, and he felt content to let himself fall into the dream.
“-idn’t think he would survive at all, let alone recover so quickly,” one of the voices was whispering. A woman’s voice, she sounded calm and gentle, as well as a little fascinated. He remembered feeling fascinated, the same way he felt when he looked at the city or heard of the Sacred Warrior Kai.
The city. The bodies.
Was that real?
“It will still take months at the very least,” the same woman seemed to say, but the first voice had come from his left; this came from his right.
Confused, he just wasn’t ready to commit too fully to this dream. He waited for it to pass so he could return to the silent warmth.
“Emotionally?” the first asked.
“Psychologically,” the second affirmed, “Those conditions were deplorable, his condition was deplorable. And that’s just how we found him. Who knows what happened, what else happened.”
There was a rapping sound of knuckles against wood that made him open his eyes slightly as a reflex. That sound always meant trouble.
Without judgment he acknowledged that he had woken up in an ornately crafted room full of sunlight. The room was full of plants, books, vials he didn’t recognize, and strange sharp tools unlike anything he had seen before. Everything seemed quiet and far away.
He was lying down on a table in the middle of the room on top of a very soft and clean blanket. Two strangers stood over him, but they looked exactly the same.
Both were women with pale blue skin and short white hair, shrouded in dark blue clothing. One of them had a large welt and blackened eye and had both hands on his face. It crossed his mind that he didn’t trust her, that he wanted her far away from him. That thought seemed unimportant compared to the idea that he was comfortable, content, and that these feelings were very delicate. Any protest might irrevocably shatter that peace.
“We’re busy,” the black-eyed woman called out to the large wrought-iron door in the center of the far wall, and the stranger behind it.
The door creaked open suddenly, stopped, then slowly opened.
“Is he… uh… “ A somewhat familiar voice stammered, “Is he ready yet?”
Both women sighed, visibly put off by the question.
The one on his right called out, “For the fifth time, no. Not that it’ll stop you. It didn’t stop you from parading him around the city.”
The owner of the voice beyond the door stammered indecisively for a moment, “Um… but… could he be ready soon? Aeris is growing impatient and the people are starting to-”
The woman with the black eye took her hands off of his face and threw her hands up in the air, “If you’re going to do it, do it! Just stop pretending we gave you permission!”
A sinking feeling consumed him, the peace was shattered. Cold, shuddering fear and despair was creeping in as the owner of the voice became more apparent, and the terrible nightmare was being solidified as having been the real reality. The horrible thing was here, there would be no more rest or comfort..
If anyone knew he was awake, nobody had acknowledged it.
“Aeris is getting impatient,” the fat man in the brown robe’s head poked around from the edge of the wrought-iron door, “he’s going to send Roric if he doesn’t come with me now.”
The women took a moment to look at eachother silently for a moment, as if engaged in a conversation only they were privy to. The one on the right turned away from the table and the one on the left lowered her gaze despondently. The room became dark as a large white shape - a cloud? - passed over the window.
“He leaves after Roric comes,” the voice of the beautiful woman from somewhere behind him.
He wondered dismally how many people were in the room with him now, but he didn’t look. Bitter apathy had set in, it didn’t matter what happened to him now. He was in the hands of the ones who meant to destroy him, just like the red faced man always said. He had wanted to run away and never return to the farm, but without his freedom what did it matter? He had meant to use his time away from the farm to find his parents, but there wasn’t a point anymore. Those people, those terrible people in that terrible place…
It can’t be, he bemoaned silently as the creeping despair consumed his body.
The sound of the wrought iron door closing echoed through the room with an unyielding finality.
“He’s awake,” The woman with the black eye announced.
From above he saw the visage of the beautiful woman peer over him, “Don’t lose heart,” she told him, as if she could hear this thoughts.
If only I left when I had the chance, he mourned as the voices flowed together again. He had cried in the past but nothing came to him now. He felt like an item, a discarded object, a hollowed out husk. He felt maybe he hadn’t survived after all, and this was just a pit stop on to wherever was next. Drifting back away he tried to will himself into something, anything else.
He awoke to the wrought iron door ringing like a bell. With a resounding clash it tore open and a huge snarling bald man in heavy metal armor and a regal insignia burst into the room.
Both of the pale blue women quickly moved to stand in front of the table, with one swing he brought both of them to the floor. Drawing a sword from his hip, he raised it as if he meant to strike them down.
A long slender blade appeared from behind the huge man and he stalled in his tracks.
“Taberdeen,” The man growled, slowly recovering from the lapse in his rage but still standing completely immobile, “Do you know what you’re doing? The entire fucking Realms is watching us right now,” he continued to growl through gritted teeth, “and these harlot Altars are in my way.”
“I’m doing my job: protecting the Lord and his interests. That includes these ‘harlot Altars’,,” the man in black said calmly but enunciated as though he was speaking to a child, “That means the big man calms down. It means his actions have consequences”.
The burly man slowly turned, the blade drawing blood as a low growl emanated from deep within his belly. The man in black stepped back, but kept the tip of the blade pointed up at the towering mans throat.
“You’ve been getting cocky, you forgot you’re just his dog,” He said menacingly, “You might be too good in the hunt to put you down, but that stops when you stop being loyal. He’s been giving you too much leash. If you ask me, it’s about time he yanked it. All I need to get him to do it,” he motioned to the bloody line on his neck, “Is to show him this. I’ll have you in the gallows by morning. This has been a long time coming, I’m glad I get to be the one to do it.”
The man in black offered a charmed smile and motioned with the tip of his knife towards the window, “That grate doesn’t look very sturdy, does it.”
The burly man began to speak but barely a word came out before there was a loud crash and both of them were at the far side of the room. Only the man in black was visible with both feet on the ledge, facing the now destroyed grating. In his hands he tightly held the sky blue cape. The burly man cried out from below.
Alarmed, the pale blue women turned to the beautiful one, panic beginning to well up within them each.
Her delicate poised voice cut through the din as she stepped around the little devil on the table, “Your station will not be affected.”
The three women had their backs turned, the man in black was focused on the man dangling from the window.
“Taberdeen?” The beautiful woman cried out as she ran to his side, “What do you think you’re doing?”
“Do you have any idea what will happen when you drop him?!” the woman with the blackened eye shouted, not assuaged by the beautiful womans assurance.
“Do you have any idea what will happen when you pull him up?!” shouted the other.
The man in black ignored them.
“You know,” The man in black called down, “I’m really tired of you treating us like we don’t outrank you. Did you think you could threaten me by showing Aeris your scrapes? Go and tell him; tell him about how you threatened the Altars he considers his property.. How the captain of his own guard and war-time commander raised a blade against his personal surgeon and psychiatrist, how you blackened her eye. Or I could tell him myself. In fact, I can just let go and when you reach the bottom he’ll know that I am to thank for putting down a disloyal dog.”
There was silence on the other side of the window.
“I’ll take that to mean you understand,” The man in black pulled on the cape and lifted the huge brute with little effort.
The huge man landed in the room with a thud, knocking the table and the smaller tray filled with instruments over. There was a chorus of cries as the women rushed to assist the fallen child. When they pulled the table back to standing they were astonished to find he wasn’t there.
The fat man in the brown robes stood in the open space nervously rubbing his hands together, “He um…” and pointed beyond the door.
Beyond the door came the pitter patter of frantically descending feet on the white stone stairs.
The man in black flew across the threshold like a diving falcon.
The man in the brown robes knelt down to the burly one and mumbled, ““Maybe we should just keep this to ourselves, especially since you already broke the door and the window.”
From his spot on the floor, too shaky yet to stand, the brute cast his dazed countenance towards the ruined opening and grumbled, “It’s gonna be a bitch to get another door all the way up here”.
Chapter 3 pt 2 
Almost, almost, almost, almost, the little devil’s thoughts came out as anxious whispers with every step down the spiral staircase. Little windows were placed periodically allowing for rays of light to flash across his eyes, broken only by clouds as they collided with the tower. Already he could hear the commotion upstairs and picked up the pace. The stairs just kept….going. He felt like he was trapped in an endless loop, that the bottom would never come.
His heart pounded in his chest and his wounds ached. Fighting through the mental fog he continued until finally he found himself at a large ornate door. He tore through it at once with reckless abandon and immediately tripped down another set of stairs that went down and back up to a raised platform. Falling off the side, he landed in a small reservoir of water. He clawed his way to the top of the risen platform and at once was blinded by a bright light that was fixated on that very spot.
“Fucking finally,” The regal man stood a short distance ahead of him, “I don’t expect you to know, but it’s very bad form to keep such significant guests waiting. Ugh, the drowned rat.”
Slowly the little devil lifted his eyes. The light was beating down on him from the iris of a stone eye above a larger entryway at the far end of the vast hall. Pillars made of white stone that looked like a forest lined a raised sky blue runway. Above, the golden leaves shimmered dully, as though the false canopy obscured the night sky.
The man in black plucked him from the raised platform and they seemed to glide down into the tall grass to the right of the raised runway.
“I take it you’re feeling better,” The man in black whispered to him as he lifted the boy to his feet.
The regal man strode towards the end of the hall. The boy wasn’t watching him as he navigated the large twin doors that seemed to lead outside, but instead made a note of the most likely exit.
Sweating profusely and aching all over, he tried to steady his breathing.
“There’s something coming,” The man in black said to him as a chorus of cheers came from outside.
From outside, the voice of the regal man could be heard, “The time has come!”
“I know you don’t want to be here, neither do I,” The man in black continued, his focus remaining on the raised platform illuminated by light. Now the boy could see there was an odd symbol engraved upon it.
“The Lord of Light approaches!” another chorus of cheers outside.
“But you’ll be in good hands. The Sacred Warriors are Altars too, whether the nobles here want to admit it or not,” the man in black’s grip loosened on the boys arms, and they stood side by side. The boy relaxed somewhat, the feeling he was dreaming came back more strongly. “I was worried when the Sage of Naer’Winmir decreed Aeris to be the guide for the Sacred Warrior known as the ‘Lord of Light’, but changed his mind two days ago. Aeris wasn’t thrilled, you could probably tell, but between you and me,” The man turned his gaze to the boy with a warm smile, the first one he had ever seen directed at him, “I’m glad it’s someone like us. I’m glad it’s you.”
The boys eyes unfocused as he bit his lip. His mind started to race as he thought about how to escape. Time was running out.
“Alas! The Sage has spoken! The wisdom of the ancients is far beyond our understanding or basic comprehension, but time will tell! The Lord of Light approaches!” The crowd went absolutely wild and a moment later the sound of a smaller door within the larger twin doors at the end of the hall opened and closed again.
The regal man was striding angrily down the white stone path separating the sea of long grass. Somehow, his uniform was even more regal than the last time.
“Get him up there,’ The regal man commanded, “Little destiny thieving brat.”
The man in black shook his head and gestured at the platform with his thumb, “He already touched the sigil.”
The light bursting from the iris at the far end of the room had already begun to narrow, thinning out into a tiny beam towards the center of the platform. It became smaller and smaller until it focused on the center point of the sigil, until it vanished entirely. The entire room went dark.
A faint blue-green glow began in the point in the center of the platform, spreading through the carved lines and dispersing into the water like ink. The glowing began to spill down and throughout the fountain, flecks of blue light like fireflies began to list
The boy gasped, he felt a pulling from deep within him. It was as though the entirety of himself was trying to force its way out of the top of his head.
Continuing to spread, the light dripped into the grass and up through the trunks of the trees, rustling through the leaves and shining through the canopy like starlight.
All the light went out and the narrow beam returned. As the light expanded he could see the feet of a person who now stood on the platform.
The figure became more and more apparent until the light expanded back to where it was.
The boy watched in fervent disbelief as the figure’s features became visible, the pulling within himself subsiding.
The man in black shook his head.
The regal man sighed heavily, his next words slightly damp with sarcasm, “Welcome to the Kingdom of Sor, O Lord of Light.”
It was not quite what he had expected. A scrawny, black haired youth stood in the center of the platform. His face screwed into a dreadful expression and he retched into the water at his feet.
The figure spoke between heaves, “It’s so much worse than they said it’d be, your whole dimension reeks of piss. You,” he pointed at the boy, “smell like you were marinated in shit.”
The regal man chuckled, clearly pleased both by the insult delivered as well as by the wretched display, “Yeah he does. That’s your guide to the Realms though, and I have to say I’m starting to see the Sage’s wisdom myself.”
“I’ve changed my mind, I’m not doing this,” the figure stomped on the sigil he stood on, and waved at the stone eye as if to get its attention, “How the fuck am I supposed to turn this thing on? I changed my mind. I’m not doing it.”
The regal man looked confused, casting a curious glance to the man in black, “He can’t do that, can he?” his attention went back to the figure, “What do you mean?”
The figure fell to his knees and spoke between wretches, “He said what you needed wasn’t complicated, and that if I took care of it for him really fast he’d clear my record.”
Neither men could formulate a proper response.
After a moment of silence, the figure addressed the regal man, “How do I turn this on?”
Insulted, he folded his arms, “You can’t turn it back on, the Sage has to do it. We were only told to bring the person he chose as a guide and have them touch the sigil.”
The figure paled, “You mean I’m stuck here until it’s done?” His eyes widened as the implication set in, “Hurry! Where is your Seat of Soul? All I have to do is change who carries the balance for your Realms and then I can go back!”
“Why, I can’t recall if I’ve ever heard of such a thing,” The regal man drew out his words with sadistic pleasure, “Sounds a little like something out of a myth or child’s story, definitely not something anyone alive would have even the slightest recollection of.”
The figure shouted in despair, continuing to retch between sobs.
The regal man grinned wide, “Welcome home.”
The figure on the pedestal curled into the fetal position, half submerged in the water as the regal man’s laughter filled the antechamber.

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