Hell YA Buddy!!! I Got My 9th Payment From Cryptotab Browser

Hell YA Buddy!!! I Got My 9th Payment From Cryptotab Browser

Hellos you alls out there in the land of the internet. I hope you all are doing well and being safe out there. I’m doing ok, had a week off from work for my wedding with VivicaWolf who is now my beautiful wifey and of course your guys can read her writings on Thoughts Of Everything right here: https://www.thoughtsofeverything.org/category/creativity/writing/vivicawolf-writings/ where you can check out all her works and also share your feed back which is very much welcome. 

Now, I Rukun am glad to be writing this post as I’m getting closer to validating the legitmenacy of the Cryptotab Browser project which again I will remind you has been online for a while so life online plays a big factor and Cryptotab Browser is one of the first of its kind thus far in my current level of research done into this obviously at the date/time stamp of this post. But either way very promising project and because of this I own the pro version on my mobile device and also have a yearly subscription to the max version of Cryptotab on my mobile device as well. Tip, you can run both version on one device Thank you, Cryptotab Browser for doing this. 

Now another tip that I not sure if I had mentioned in previous posts is one being that almost all anti-virus, anti-spyware/adware and so on will label and quarantine Cryptotab. Now I can assure you it’s not a virus, or whatever unless you downloaded from another source not on Cryptotab’s website. Now I have put the link each time I mentioned the name meaning you can click Cryptotab or something similar and it will open a new window with a valid link. Yes, I earn from it but online when you sign up and become active. Now you can mine from a pretty decent PC/desktop for free using the software but you must add it to your anti-virus or other such program’s exclude list and if already in quarantine you must do some sort of restore file. Also, I have had experience with the browser closing it’s self sometimes when I start mining, so I found that if you keep reopening up, it will eventually stay open an mine. 

Now for the payment proof which like always it goes to my Coinbase account as that is where I have my Bitcoins of my short term holdings as I have a hardware wallet for my long time holdings and at the moment I’m holding all my Bitcoins from Cryptotab from my retirement. Now this payment was for 0.00009107 BTC and at the time of the transaction about $2.73 USD and here is my screenshot of this transaction (remember you can click image to view full screen).

Rukun's 9th payment from CryptotabSo if you would like to take a look further here is the whole transaction on the blockchain with others who also got paid it seems, see here: https://www.blockchain.com/btc/tx/b64496b356b64a23455a4ba0e9920334b371d44170d6ba7722c2ad74153f3a78. Now, this project for me is almost out of the Thoughts Of Everything testing list meaning we can fully say soon that this is verified program and soon Elite passive earning program. Now if you would like to join under me here is my referral link again which you can click here to join and start earning: https://cryptotabbrowser.com/32087702


Thanks for reading my post and if you like what we do here you can feel free support us and get a supporter account, and support all of our staff and keeping the site/server online. Income after running cost gets split among all active staff. We accept many methods, including being able to send us “tips” through Brave browser as Thoughts Of Everything is a registered publisher, if you need other ways to support us view this page: https://www.thoughtsofeverything.org/what-is-paid-access-and-how-to-get-it/, again thank for reading and/or clicking/joining any links in this post. Have a good one stay tuned for more and don’t forget to create an account here on Thoughts Of Everything, join the community, ask questions if you need help and so on.

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Assassins and Wolves (Chapter 7) By Vivicawolf

Dana stood looking at the beautiful stained wood mural on the wall with its carved trees, flowers, birds, and hidden beasts. She swirled the glass of rosy wine in her hand, letting the floral smell fill her nostrils before taking a long pull of the mildly sweet and tangy liquid. The mural could be gawked at for days, and you would continue to spy something new at every hour.

Dana reached up her free hand to rub at her left brow, feeling a smooth scar that cut through her pale ashen brow. The scar reminded her every day of the hell she had gotten herself into just five years ago. The night she confronted Colin had changed her world drastically.

Colin forbid her from visiting her family and friends, saying they were trying to turn her against him. Of course, he did enough of that on his own. Dana had nearly lost her spirit then, falling into a hole of deep depression and constant fear. Joe had been the only one left that Colin had allowed her to interact with.

When Joe found Dana after that night, curled up under her blankets, shivering and weeping, bandaged and bruised, it broke his heart. She had told him everything. Joe felt so helpless to comfort his adopted daughter, he could not offer her sanctuary, and he could not say anything to make it better. As he wallowed in guilt at putting the sweetest girl in the worst hell possible, he swore he would find a way to give her some kind of freedom, something to help her keep her strength.

That was when he discovered the tunnel leading to her tower. A secret door led down the tower and into a sewer system that ran under the city. He could give her a chance at escape. However, when he offered Dana her chance to run away, she turned him down.

Dana instead chose to remain, knowing that if she ran, even if her love ones went into hiding with her, Colin would burn the city to the ground trying to find her. Therefore, she would stay. However, she would use the tunnel. She asked Joe to speak with Ed, to find an artist that could be trusted. Ed found a friend willing to help, and the mural was built. A beautiful secret, hiding her only escape.

She would use it whenever possible to meet her friends and family and speak with members of the Left Hand. She would also walk through the tunnels alone, trying to test her powers. The powers that awoke in her in that fateful day were a mystery to her, any she was not sure why they failed her in the end. Therefore, for years she tried to hone her powers. A near impossible task when you are not sure what you are capable of.

With years of pain and anger on her side, she came to a very simple conclusion. Her emotions, especially her rage, fueled her powers. And so, when she felt helpless and raged in the solitary dark, she practiced her hardest. The rage within her would find a physical form from her will, enough where she was able to form shields to push objects away from herself. She was even able to focus the rage so well, she could use small bursts of that same force to hit an object.

Many walls in the sewer tunnels of Wellingstone bared the scorched and gouged markings of her many long hours of practice and self-discovery. Each mark a reminder of her pain, some for every woman Colin would slip into the Manor to share his bed. A mark for every bruise and mark on her pale skin. A mark for every night she cried for her mother. A mark for every night she was taken by force. A mark for every night she wished to die. A mark for every one she loved and missed every day she could not slip away against her husband’s orders. A mark for her still very broken heart.

Dana turned away from the stained wood mural and walked to the bedside table. She downed the last pull of wine, set the crystal glass down gently, begrudgingly placed on her wedding ring, and took the wool shawl from her bed, wrapping it over her shoulders. She ran her fingers over the elegant crochet work of the rich indigo wool.

Softer than any sheep wool, the ahuizotl river dog was a stunning and fierce beast with the silkiest fur along its petite body. Long waterproof locks of curling fur were highly prized in the southern reigns of Awica, where humans would trap or raise the fierce beasts for their exquisite waterproof wool. Dana had seen one of the animals at a shop, raised for its wool like many others, it’s almost human like paws would rifle through its owners belongings in search of small crabs.

The shop owner gave Dana a small treat to feed the river dog. She giggled at the feel of its tiny fingers opening her hands to find its treat, and as it nosily munched away, she ran her hand over its silver and black striped main. The creature’s tail swishing back and forth happily, its hair so long that its tail was twice its own body length.

The owner offered Dana its next batch of wool for whatever her heart desired. Dana, accepting the offer, promised to pay top price so long as she could return and feed the river dog again. With how lovely and charming the creature was, Dana almost could not believe the creature to have a fierce bone in its tiny body, until the owner showed her the scars of past sheering.

Dana smiled at the memory. Today would be a good day as well. While the weather promised rain, she would be out in the city doing what she was meant to do. She often went to the hospital and even poor houses to help anyone she could from bringing in hot meals, to helping heal the minds of the broken. While she would often face tragic and painful situations, she never felt more fulfilled like when she could make a difference in a person’s life, even in the smallest way.

On her trips into the city for her charity work, she was assigned at least two guards as protection, according to Colin and other members of the Arcane Order. However, she was certain it was to insure she stayed away from her friends and family on her outings.

While she would leave the manor with a solemn look, once the car left the gates, she could finally breath, watching the statue of the naked man and woman in their intimate embrace fade from sight.

The young soldier who sat in the back reflected back her smile. The lad had come from Zecroybia less than a year back, sent to Awica for his first tour of duty. A comfortable job that many would appreciate. The boy, who was maybe a year younger than Dana, had been very kind to her, despite the language barrier. The boy, Alabaster, struggled with learning the new language.

Dana flashed an even brighter smile back at the soldier. “Why are you smiling?” She asked with a soft laugh.

The boy pondered her words for a moment. Her accent, being from SvalvÍk, made her somewhat harder to understand. However, Dana was patient with him, and he appreciated it. After a long moment, Alabaster grinned wider, his white teeth bright against his naturally sun kissed skin. “It is good day with Drottning.” He nodded proudly.

Dana nodded politely. “It’s a good day with you, too, Alabaster.”

The boy sat up, his teal green eyes sparkling with pride. “Much honor, Drottning.”

Dana blushed, smiling shyly and gazed out the window to watch for the hospital. It did not take long for the white walls to come into view. Every time she came, she never knew what she was walking into. Some days were harder than others were. A string of plague cases sweeping through the city from time to time. A traumatic reminder for many who had to watch their loved one’s die painfully during the war.

While the doctors worked to fight the plague, it seemed to always be changing, and yet, always the same. This kept doctors from being able to truly stop the mysterious disease. All they could do was comfort the dying and pry they could save some. Dana often saw her mother in the faces of the infected, a pain that would be drawn upon with every death. However difficult, she never stopped coming.

As the car pulled to the hospital visitor doors, Alabaster stepped out quickly, turning to Dana and bowing, his right hand over his back and his left hand held out for her to take. She took his hand delicately and stepped out, pulling her indigo shawl tight against the chill of the day.

Alabaster stood over a foot taller than Dana, but she was used to being the smallest in nearly every situation. Tipping his hat to her slightly, giving her a glimpse of light hazelnut hair under his black hat, she smiled up at him and nodded before walking forward through the hospital doorway, their companion soldier, silent as a specter, only a few feet behind.

Dana walked into the large waiting room, a smell hitting her she knew all too well. Bile and blood filled her nostrils, and she could almost swear she could smell the salt of the sea with it. Dana reached into the pocket of her lilac cross-top dress and she raised a small white cloth to her face.

Alabaster let out a rough cough that made him gag. “Is death. Drottning must go.”

Dana shook her head, taking the cloth from her face. “If it’s the plague than I’ll be fine, it’s you I fear for.”

Alabaster did not seem to hear her as he watched a doctor approach. “My Drottning.” The doctor bowed slightly. “You shouldn’t be here today. There’s an outbreak in the poorhouse, its killing faster than we’ve seen before.”

Dana looked past the doctor to the door leading into the hospital’s emergency area. “How fast is it?”

The doctor looked over his shoulder at the emergency doors, looking distressed with sweat on his brow and dark rings around his eyes. “It’s hard to say how long the infection takes to show symptoms, but most are gone in just a day’s time.”

Dana could feel the fear and terror all around her from everybody in the room. She turned to Alabaster and patted his arm. “Go to the car and wait for me, I’ll be fine.”

Alabaster cocked his head like a confused hound. “I stay with. You go, I go.”

Looking just behind him, Dana could see that the guard with them had already backed out of the hospital doors and stood anxiously at the door.

Dana considered his words, she did not want him to get sick, but he was just as stubborn as she was. Accommodations would be made. She turned to the doctor. “Do you have any protection for my friend?”

The doctor frowned and shook his head. He shoved a hand into the pocket of his white coat and pulled out a simple cloth face cover. “This is the best I can offer, and it’s no guarantee he won’t get sick anyway.” He handed the cloth to the soldier.

Alabaster examined it with a deep frown before looking at Dana. “You go, I go.” He told her again. Dana nodded and followed the doctor into the emergency center with Alabaster at her side, the pale cloth tied loosely over his nose and mouth.

Following at the doctor’s heals, Dana felt overwhelmed by the smells of death and disease, the sounds of pain and loss, and the emotions that hung in the air like foul incense smoke. The doctor spoke, and Dana found it hard to focus on his words.

“…unlike anything…”

“…no normal disease…”

“…unnatural…”

As the doctor marched on, Dana stopped at a bed where a little girl lay, still as stone and just as gray. Her wide eyes focused on the ceiling, unblinking. Dana stood and watched the little girl, wishing she could see her frail chest rise, or a delicate finger twitch. The girl’s dark curly hair spilling over the pillow around her made he thing of her mother. Just as still and just as gray. Dana almost quivered with the anticipation of some movement, but never came. With the world around her gone but for this moment, Dana moved closer, only to be pulled back just as she noticed the dried blood at the corners of the little girls lips and eyes.

Dana turned to see Alabaster looking at the child with a sorrowful look. Silent as the grave yard, he simply led Dana away and steered her back into the path the doctor led. Dana did not fight against his firm, yet gentle grip at her arm. She knew he only wanted to spare her the horror of the plague.

As they moved to catch up with the doctor, Dana heard a loud pop. The sound was loud in the narrow hall, enough to leave her deafened for an agonizing moment . As the noise rang through the hall, she felt as though she had been punched in the shoulder so hard she nearly fell backwards. Stunned, she righted herself and looked at Alabaster. His teal eyes were wide and full of fear. Seconds turned into hours as Alabaster took Dana by the arms and pulled her close, she felt like they might be dancing for a moment as he twirled her around in the hall. Dana began to pull herself away from his embrace, the pain in her shoulder faded as the adrenaline took over.

Dana almost smiled at the observatory of dancing in a hall with Alabaster. Like a splash of ice water to wake her, she watched as the sides of Alabaster’s throat burst, blood spraying as he pulled her down to the ground with him, still trying to shield her as he slumped into her.

The world suddenly seemed to catch up to real time speed as she sat with Alabaster’s torso in her lap. With his head on her stomach, Dana pressed her hands over his bleeding neck as he gasped for air. Around her, people ran in all directions, screaming, but it all sounded so far away. All she could hear was the gasping breath of the young man.

Straining to keep her back off the ground, she held tight to his neck, whispering something inaudible even to her. She saw Alabaster swallow hard, blood leaking out the corners of his lips. His lips quivered and she strained closer to hear him.

Alabaster choked on the blood for a moment. With all his remaining strength he gargled roughly, “Long live Drottning.”

***

Dana stood over the body of the young man who died to protect her. He lay so peaceful in his black with red trim uniform, as though she had only caught him napping on the job. The mourners had cleared the hall, leaving Dana alone in the still of the massive hall, the dragon skull looming above them, watching through hollow sockets.

Dana placed a hand on the young man’s icy cheek and tried to smile, fighting back her tears. “Forgive me, Alabaster.” It hurt. She truly cared for the young man and considered him a friend.

She felt the ache of her shoulder as she leaned her head to the side to examine the wound on his neck. Curious, she let her fingers pull down the collar of his uniform to see the stitching that sealed the bullet holes. Jerking her hand away, Dana sniffed hard several times to keep her nose from running as the tears overwhelmed her.

Alabaster would return home to his family across the Turbul sea to rest in his home town in Zecroybia. She could picture a rolling hill, lush with soft grass and spotted with yellow flowers, freckling the landscape. She imagined a pale stone at the tip of the hill, marking his final resting place, where his spirit could watch the fields come alive in the bright spring morning as the deer grazed and the birds sang his name in the wind.

A fantasy, pleasant as it was. She knew nothing of what would happen to him once his casket boarded to the next ship to cross the Turbul sea. Even so, she had no doubt his family would be grateful to have their son back to rest among his own.

Dana’s eyes blurred more. She squeezed her eyes tight and let the tears fall freely, sniffing hard. The fantasy was blown away like a plume of smoke as the sound of familiar sauntering footfalls filled the hall. Her shoulders tensed -painfully at her wound- as Colin approached, standing just behind her. She dared not turn to look at him. She hated letting him see her cry.

Her breath grew shallow as she felt his lean body press against her, his breath hot against her neck. “Since when do you cry for a soldier of the Order?” He asked, his voice a husky whisper.

Dana lifted her chin, her jaw clenched painfully. She feared and loathed his touch, his very presence making her stomach clench painfully. Her breath shook as she tried to remain composed.

Colin nuzzled her hair, smelling the sweet notes of peach, vanilla, and musk from her perfume. He placed his lips against her ear. “Handsome young man, wasn’t he? I’ll bet you let him fuck you senseless. Why else would you cry for him?”

Dana’s upper lip twitched as she fought a snarl. “Your foul.”

Colin licked Dana’s earlobe, pressing himself harder against her. Growing hard, he ground himself against her back. He began to pull the black lace dress up her thigh a finger at a time. “And your a little whore, aren’t you?”

Hot tears rolled down her eyes. She wanted to run away, but if she tried, he would only hurt her worse. “Please, stop.” She pleaded.

Colin took her wounded shoulder and gave it a squeeze, making her whimper in pain. She had to buckle her knees to keep from dropping to the marble floor. “How about I bend you over his corpse and show you what a whore you are?”

Before Dana could so much as breath, a familiar voice saved her from his sadistic pleasures. “My Kongur, Dr. Vlach’s war dog has arrived.” She had never been so glad to hear the cocky voice of Martin Altair.

Colin straightened his black slacks and adjusted himself to hide his hunger. “The traitor has finally returned. Splendid.” Colin clapped once before he waved his friend off. He turned back to Dana. “Come, dear, your body guard has arrived.”

Dana turned her head only slightly to see Colin out of the corner of her eye. “Body guard?” She asked skeptically.

Colin smiled. “Oh course, we don’t want another attempt on your life, do we? I had the good doctor bring in his little assassin. Who better to protect you from an assassin than another assassin?” He let out a dry chuckle.

Dana turned her head to look at her husband better with a cold glance. “What do you care? I figured you’d be thrilled at the prospect of my death.”

Colin waved his finger at her and tisked. “Now, now, sweet wife. You’re not entirely so disposable. No, come. Meet your new guard dog.” Colin held out his arm for her to take.

Reluctantly, she placed her arm in his as he lead her from the hall. A heavy wave of exhaustion hit Dana, leaving her with a hallow feeling. She felt to tired and weary to feel her usual disgust at her husband’s touch.

Colin guided his solemn wife from the hall and walked her towards the central tower. All the while he spoke excitedly about something Dana was tuning out. She kept her eyes ahead, and allowed her mind to drift as she was aimlessly led to her husbands work office in the central tower. Typically a place she dreaded, but with the promise of so many people waiting for them, she felt safer than if she was alone with Colin.

Upon entering Colin’s office, Dana scanned the room quickly. She saw Dr. Isadore Vlach talking to Martin and two other soldiers Dana had not seen before, or at least could not recall. Standing at the center of the group of men stood a tall man as still as stone and clad in all black. A heavy black hood hid his eyes from sight. At his face was a hand crafted black leather mask shaped to look like a wolf snarl. More black leather fit tight along the man’s barrel chest and waist. Tight black cloth filled in the gaps around his muscular arms and legs. A sniper rifle rest over the man’s stiff back. Dana took a moment to peak at the mans belt and spotted at least one dagger hilt and a pistol hidden under the black cloak.

As Dana drew closer to the strange man, under the heavy cloak wrapping around his shoulders and neck, she saw something that gave her pause. The man’s left hand looked to be armored in a metal claw glove of black and blue steel. However, as Colin urged her closer, she realized the clawed metal glove was a prosthetic, as she looked closer, she could see the outline under the black fabric over the entirety of the arm and his shoulder, jagged and powerful, clearly heavier than the right arm with the way the man stood, his weight shifted to his right to find balance.

Dana did not hear her husband addressing her she tried to get a closer look at the left hand. She straightened herself and looked to Colin. “I’m sorry?”

“Surely you know the story of Isadore’s war dog?” Colin smiled mischievously, a terrible glimmer in his icy blue eyes.

Dana could sense the malice, and returned a look of confusion and annoyance back to her husband. Like a giddy child, Colin moved up to the dark stranger, staining only inches away from the man. Dana noticed the man stood a few inches taller than Colin, and for some reason, found it amusing.

“Awica’s very own traitor. He joined the Arcane Order and took the ritual, like us.” He grinned at Dana and turned to look at the man. “Killed his own. And together, we won the war by killing the Alliance Transcendents.”

“He’s a Transcendent?” Dana asked, drawing closer to try and see the man’s eyes.

“The only other to survive the ritual.” Spoke Isadore Vlach. “We recovered him from a landslide, probably caused by some blast. His entire arm was crushed, the shoulder was badly damaged at well. We were able to save him, and after the ritual, we were able to replace his lost limb with a metal-dragon scale prosthetic.” The doctor proudly took the stranger’s arm and showed it to Dana closely.

“The blue, that’s dragon scale formed to fit with the metal. The scale is far stronger than any material we could hope to use. And you see, here,” Isadore bent the arm awkwardly, revealing strange marking along the inside of the wrist, hidden under the blue scale. “Our witch was able to create ruins that allow the soldier to cast with the arm. His very touch can generate heat, cold, even electricity! Its incredibly powerful!” Isadore nearly hopped with excitement, his eyes comically wide behind his bottle glassed.

Colin turned to Dana, still grinning wickedly. “Makes for quite the effective assassin. Isadore is the handler for our dog of war, here.” Colin placed a hand on the man’s black clad shoulder and shook him, barely moving the man’s arm.

Dana found it odd when the man made no reaction to the talk around him. Seeing the man make no reaction to touch gave her pause. She cautiously drew close.

Colin watched Dana starring at the man like a curious child, and took hold of the man’s heavy black hood. With a effortless tug, he revealed the man hidden in cloth mystery. A wave of thick brown hair fell forward, a main falling just at the man’s broad shoulders.

While the leather wolf mask hid most of his face, Dana was finally able to look into his hooded eyes, looking into a set of doll like steel blue eyes. Dana drew ever closer and reached out with her mind to touch the strangers. It was like nothing was behind those captivating eyes and thick brows. But that wasn’t possible, no one was a hollow shell. As she tried to prod deeper, suddenly sensing something like a spark in a dark room, she was interrupted.

“…will be yours to command,” Spoke Isadore Vlach with a smile.

Dana looked at the doctor and blinked, confused. “Command?” She asked.

Isadore Vlach excitedly took Dana’s hand, then took the hand of the assassin, placing his at the bottom and Dana’s on top. “Yes, I give you command of him until I must claim him back. Until than, he is yours. He will obey and protect you at any cost, my Drottning.” Isadore released their hands, leaving Dana’s hand awkwardly on top of the assassin’s remaining human hand.

Letting her hand fall away, she looked to Colin to see his reaction. “Fear not, my dear, you are in the best of hands. No one shall harm you.”

Dana wanted to ask, “No one?” She dared not provoke her husband’s wrath. Instead, she dipped her head and lightly curtsied. “Thank you, my Kongur.”

Colin gave her one of his charming smiled, the smiles that used to fill her stomach with fluttering wings. Now, they made her feel sick at the very pit of her being, stirring hate and fear within. “Of course, my love. Now, if you will, you may retreat for the evening with your new dog. I believe my wife has had a long day.”

Dana excused herself polity, and as she moved to the door, so did the strange man, without so much as a summons. The man remained at her side in deafening silence as they walked from the central tower and back to hers.

As soon as they were safely alone in the sanctuary of her room, Dana paused. She studied the man as he stood still as stone making no move to even examine the room around him. Everything about him was unnatural and inhuman, but Dana couldn’t believe that was all there was to the stranger.

She stood facing the tall masked man. His hair hanging in his face like a brown vial. His hooded steel blue eyes held her captive as she tried to search them. No person could be so without emotion like this. She knew as everyone did that the man was trained as an assassin, but there should still be something to feel. He did not back away as she inched ever closer, trying to find something she was certain she glimpsed before. Something was hidden away inside the man, and she felt a pull to it.

As her hands rose, she stopped. “Could I… may I take off the mask?” She asked in a whisper.

The man stared at her for a long time, no sound or movement made. Slowly, she moved her hands to his face as she stood on her tiptoes, waiting for him to stop her. Very carefully, she pushed back the strands of his dark brown hair and delicately let her fingers search for the release for the leather mask. Watching his eyes, he held perfectly still for her. When her fingertips found purchase on a small clasp, she carefully worked at it until she felt a release.

The leather wolf muzzle mask slacked and she carefully took hold of the black mask and pulled it away from the man’s face. Not looking away, she delicately set it onto the table at her side. Under the mask was the clean shaved face of a man who looked to be in his mid to late thirties. His face was a square shape, with a slight dimple on his chin. His jaw seemed to relax slightly at the freedom, his lips a soft pink. His nose was straight and more narrow towards the tip, his cheekbones high and narrow, giving him hollow cheeks.

Dana gasped softly. She was surprised by how handsome the man was. She had expected to discover some rough, scar covered soldier under the mask, but the man before her was quite comely to look at. She waited to see if he would react, but he still made no movement. She could not shake the feeling that something called to her from behind the cold stare. Like a song that she could only hear if she could silence her own heartbeat.

Carefully she reached up one hand, and again, he did not move to stop her. It was as if part of him wanted her to touch him. She reached up to his face again, this time letting her long fingers slip into his brown mane and touch his temple. There she felt it, a part of him lost in his own mind.

No.

Not lost.

Imprisoned.

He had likely been a prisoner of his own mind for many years, isolated and helpless with only a small window of the eyes to watch the outside world move on without him. She could feel hopelessness and longing from the imprisoned mind.

Dana had never come across a mind that caged its own consciousness like a bird in a cage. It was a terrifying possibility. She couldn’t imagine how something so horrible could happen to someone. What could have happened to be imprisoned in his own mind?

She reached out, unlocking the cage in his mind and taking hold of the man within and gently led him forward. As she pulled him forward she could hear the laughter of children calling out to the boy lost in his own mind. She could feel the joy and the connection he felt to the voices that called to him. Much like a lullaby sung from afar. Dana pulled the man out of his cage and freed his mind.

The man let out a sudden gasp and stumbled backward, falling to the floor with a heavy clatter as his weapons hit the wall. The man let out heavy breaths, panting hard. Startled by the reaction, Dana had to keep herself composed as to not frighten the man further. As Dana knelt down, she saw heavy tears run down the man’s terrified face.

Slowly setting herself to her knees, Dana held out a hand to the man. “Shhh… you’re safe. No one’s going to hurt you.” She kept her voice low and calm.

The man looked at her, blinking away the tears. “You… How? What did you do to me?” The man spoke in an Awican accent, which again, startled Dana. While he was Awican born she still didn’t expect it.

Dana sat up onto her black heals, a strange position in the knee length black dress and heels. “I pulled you forward into your mind. I knew you weren’t just some mindless soldier.” Proud of herself, she smiled. Realizing the inappropriateness of the smile and her pride, she let it slip away as she watched his face.

He shook slightly. “I remember everything… I remember you.” He let out a shaking sigh.

Dana nodded, trying to hide her excitement. “That’s good, that means part of you was still able to observe what you were made to do.”

The man looked her in the eyes. “What they did to me… What I did… I…” He trailed off.

Nodding, Dana looked at the man with sympathetic eyes. She concluded that the man had been warped and likely brainwashed into this roll. “You’re safe. I know what they did to you, and I won’t let them hurt you anymore.” She maneuvered herself to sit more comfortably on the cold marble floor, tucking her legs to the side. “What’s your name?”

The man looked around the room for a moment. “It’s, uh, Redford… Broderick Redford.” He looked down at himself and examined the heavy metal and dragon scale arm more closely. The iridescent colors shifted in the low light.

Dana watched him closely, realizing how overwhelmed he must be. “I’m sorry this is a shock, and it will be hard to fully grasp for a while, but if you let me, I’ll help you.”

He looked up at her. He mulled the notion over for a moment. He knew there was no one he could put his trust in anymore. He could not even be sure if he could trust this woman; however, he knew he was out of options. He nodded once, showing that, for the time, he would accept her offer. “Ok… What do you need me to do?”

Dana gave him a kind smile. She could sense the unease, and honestly could not blame him. She would simply have to prove herself trustworthy. “Right now, I want you to try and relax. We can figure this out one day at a time. Ok? Is it ok if I call you Brody?” She asked, reaching for a small peace offering.

He swallowed hard and nodded. No one had called him Brody sense before the war, it was strange and yet comforting to hear form this stranger. “Yeah.”

She gave him a genuine smile, feeling a small wisp of hope. “Can I get you into some regular cloths for the night?” She motioned to the leather and armor suit, guns and knives harnessed all over his belt and back.

Broderick blinked at her, giving her a confused look. “We’re staying here?” He glanced about her quarters, her room alone was the size of a large apartment, it even came with its own bath and shower room, a small library and reading nook, and balcony. A large couch was at one end of the room while the large bed stood at the other end.

“It’s safe,” Dana explained. “I keep the door locked. No one will come in without my say, and I have a way to sneak out if I needed to.” She whispered, flashing a knowing smile and winked, sharing her secret in confidence without fear.

Broderick watched her stand, taken aback by her strange and seemingly trusting manor. “Why would you help me?”

Dana’s face fell as she stopped and looked over her shoulder at the man on the floor. The tone of her voice changed, stressing the seriousness. “Because I can’t sit by and watch the Order destroy more lives.”

Broderick raised a dark brow at her remark. “Then why not leave?”

Dana folded her arms over her chest and hunched over slightly, as though suddenly cold. “It’s… Complicated.” She let out a heavy sigh and walked to the wall only feet from the bathroom entrance. On the wall was a woodcarving of a forest scenery with birds and flowers on the branches, animals sneaking through the trees, in all different shades and colors of stained wood polished beautifully.

Dana pressed one finger into the center of one of the purple stained flowers and a door opened from the wall. She turned her head and smiled at Broderick. “I’ll bring some cloths for you, just relax and don’t leave.” She slipped onto the space and disappeared.

Broderick remained seated on the floor and stared at the door, transfixed. He waited for less than ten minutes before Dana came back with a dark skinned fragile looking man walking behind her. Both were walking in with handfuls of clothing side by side. They walked to the couch and set everything down. Dana walked the elderly man back to the door, her arm holding his intimately and whispered something to him that Broderick could not make out before slipping through the door and out of sight again. Dana closed the secret door and walked over to Broderick.

She knelt down in front of him and gave him an assuring smile. “Don’t worry, he’s a friend.” Dana held out a delicate hand to Broderick.

Broderick looked at her hand for a moment. Her long fingers looked elegant with the long rounded, unpainted nails. three out of five fingers were adorned with narrow banded silver and rose gold rings with precious stones of blue sapphire and amethyst on her fingers. He reached out and placed his large, rough right hand in hers, but did not use her to help himself up.

Dana noticed but gave no reaction. “You can change out of all this,” She waved to his armor. “Feel free to use the bathroom to try some clothes on. I’ll wait.”

Broderick walked to the couch and glanced at the cloths. Very casual style, such as plain shirts and dark pants. Everything seemed like it might fit fairly well. He picked up a gray shirt and some black slacks and began to walk to the bathroom. He turned to see Dana sitting on her bed, watching him closely.

Broderick clenched his jaw, mulling over his mistrust. He did not like how she seemed to observe him like many of the scientists and such who would observe his every move. “What do you intend to do with me?” He asked dryly.

Dana looked genuinely taken aback by the question. She smiled and scoffed. “I don’t intend to do anything with you. I wanted to free you. However, I think you should stay with me until we can right the wrongs we’ve done here.”

Broderick looked at her curiously. What wrongs could a small and delicate lady like her commit? “What do you mean?” He asked slowly.

Dana looked at her hands. “If we want to stop all this, we have to do it from the inside. I need you to play the role of my bodyguard. You’ll be safe here with me, and we can figure out how to save others. Because if we were out there,” She pointed out the window to the city lights outside. “We would be powerless and on the run. We have a chance to fix things here.” Dana paused and looked at Broderick. “Think on it, and if you want to go, I won’t stop you.”

Broderick furrowed his brow and looked at her for a moment before walking into the bathroom to change. It took him a while to take everything off and put on very different cloths. The shirt was tight over his arms and chest, and the slacks were slightly loose, but that was better than being to tight over his muscular thighs. When he looked in the mirror, he smiled, pleased with the result. He looked almost like he used to when he was young, before the war, before the nightmare his life had become.

He gathered his armor and weapons, keeping everything together to make it faster to put on if needed. He had been thinking about what Dana had been saying, and really, she was not wrong. He also wanted to right the wrongs he committed over the years as the assassin they made him to be.

When he stepped out of the bathroom, he saw Dana in a white full-length nightgown, he hesitated as he saw that the fabric was somewhat translucent. He could see the outline of her hourglass shaped body and the shape of her large breasts and the soft blush of her nipples.

He cleared his throat and looked away to the window. “I, uh, I want to join you. In your plan that is.” He felt his face grow warm.

Dana noticed his reaction and walked to her cedar wood armoire and picked out a thick robe of soft purple velvet, and wrapped herself tight. “I’m glad to hear it. I could use a friend here, I’m afraid my welcome is wearing thin.”

Broderick looked over at her curiously. “What do you mean?”

“They assigned you to me because someone tried to kill me, and while they claim it’s the rebels of the Left Hand that tried to kill me, I know that’s not true.” She walked to the now cleared couch and sat at the end. She patted the spot at her side.

Broderick set his armor beside the couch and sat down at the far edge of the couch, looking at her cautiously. “How do you know it wasn’t a rebel attack?”

Dana inhaled deeply and exhaled slowly, her breath shaky. “Because, I work with them.”


More coming soon

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Innocence Lost By Vivicawolf

Dana awoke in a haze. As she began to stir, she could feel her body aching. Her head felt heavy and her eyes felt like they might burst. As she tried to open her eyes, the world around her was a blur. A light hit her eyes, feeling like a hot iron jabbed in her iris. She let out a soft whimper and shut her eyes as tight as she could. Her ears suddenly began to ring, a soft mumble creating a strange rhythm to the sharp ringing. She ground her teeth and tried to cover her ears, but the effort of moving her arms was both difficult in itself and painful.

She let out another soft whimper as tears began to roll down her cheeks. Through the ringing in her ears, she could just make out familiar voices around her.

“…Almost killed her!” Joe shouted surprising Dana greatly. Joe rarely rose his voice to anyone.

“Mr. Epps, please. I know you’re concerned,” Spoke Dr. Isidore Vlach before Joe cut him off.

“No! You don’t know! You don’t have a damn clue! My daughter almost died ’cause of you.” Joe’s voice shook with anger.

“But she didn’t die,” Spoke Colin calmly. “She’s strong. She’ll recover quickly.”

Dana heard Joe take a deep breath to calm himself. “You should postpone the weddin’,”

“That won’t be necessary.” Colin interrupted. “She will recover enough by tomorrow.”

“You can’t seriously expect,” Joe tried to get a word in.

“I can and I do. Now please excuse me, I must get everything ready.” Dana could hear Colin’s boots as he turned and left the room.

“He’s right Mr. Epps, she will recover very quickly, you have nothing to fear.” Dr. Isidore Vlach tried to reassure Joe in his thick accent. After a moment, she heard Vlach walk out of the room, leaving Joe alone with Dana.

Joe stood stunned for a long moment at the coldness of his adopted daughter’s near demise. Joe had felt the mansion shake when the explosion occurred. No one had been able to fully explain to him what happened. However, when everything around him shook like in an earthquake, he knew something terrible had happened. Joe had ran to the lower levels faster than he had in years. Unfortunately, he arrived only to find himself barred from entering the room where they took Dana.

He could hear the panic behind the door. The chaos was potent, making even the men guarding the doors anxious. When the door finally opened to him, he watched as Dana was being brought out of the dark room on a stretcher. The room itself was destroyed. Men were struggling to put out a fire; the lights from the ceiling were hanging by the cords, sparks falling like scorching snow.

As Dana was carried out of the room, Joe saw how pale she was, so void of color her skin was ashen and gray. He was certain she had died in that awful place. He wasn’t even allowed to follow at first, the guards held him in place while the doctor, Colin, and an older woman with a bad cut on her brow was walking with Dana’s body at a frantic pace. When they were out of sight, the guards finally let Joe go.

He followed as fast as he could, the adrenaline keeping him going when he would normally be exhausted by this much movement in one burst. He followed them all the way to her room where they had placed her in her bed. Joe was relieved to see color return to her face, her breath shallow, but steady as she lay still.

Joe had never lost his temper like he did at that moment, not even when Abigail died. He was so angry but also terrified at the thought of losing his child. The helplessness was the worst of it. He wanted to help her, to protect her. He also wanted to punch the smug smile off the bastard, Colin, who acted as if nothing had gone wrong. He wanted to take Dana home and keep her safe from these monsters.

However, there was nothing he could do.

Joe turned and saw Dana struggling to move in her bed. He ran to her side and grabbed her hand. “Sweet child, don’t move. You need to rest.”

Dana squeezed his hand as hard as she could but was still so weak. “Papa, what happened?” She croaked.

Joe kissed Dana’s hand and wiped the tears from his eyes on his arm. He told her everything he knew after the explosion, but he could not tell her where the explosion came from.

Dana forced her eyes open, still blurry and bloodshot. “It…came from me.” She spoke slowly, trying to swallow. “They did something… Something inside me… Made me stronger… Something dark,” Dana coughed and let out a groan.

Joe stroked her hair -which looked ashier gray now- and kissed her forehead. “Shh, sweet child. You need to rest. That monster expects you to attend the wedding tomorrow without incident. I think we made a mistake bringing you here.”

Dana squeezed Joe’s hand with a little more strength in her grip. “I know.” She let out a long sigh. “We can’t turn back now.”

Joe looked at their hands and nodded, feeling defeated. “I know. I’m so sorry.”

“Don’t be. It was my choice.” Dana forced a smile.

Joe nodded again and stood. “We need to rest. We just have to get through another day. The hard part should be over.”

***

Dana had mostly recovered by the morning. While she was able to move like normal, she still felt like her head was spinning off-kilter. From time to time she would have to sit down and rest, waiting for the waves of dizziness to pass.

As strangers entered her room to dress her, doing her makeup and hair, she grew weary of the attention bestowed upon her. Her now ash blonde hair was placed in a loose bun at the back of her neck with ringlet curls around her face to frame her oval face shape. Her face was dabbed with a pale powder followed by rouge at her cheeks. A bright red lipstick drew the eye to her soft lips, and a black flare was drawn on the top lid of her eye to make her lashes seem thicker.

She was given pearl earrings and a matching necklace, her veil dotted with smaller pearls to match. A perfect set. The dress was sheer white, with a V-neck line just reaching her cleavage. The tight sleeves reached her hand, where she slipped her middle finger into a small knot at the end, the trim of the sleeve over her hand dotted with tiny pearls.

Dana examined herself in the full-length mirror brought in for her. The shining white of the dress made her look like she was glowing. Her large breasts and wider hips were flattered with the narrow waist pulled taut by a corset. The corset also helped to keep her bosom in place. A stunning accentuation to her already hourglass figure. As she ran her delicate hands over the smooth fabric of the dress, she could not help but smile.

From the reflection of the mirror, Dana smiled at Joe who smiled back, eyes watery and red-rimmed. Dana twirled around like a dancer and grinned. “How do I look, Papa?”

Joe’s gentle voice cracked. “Beautiful, sweet child.”

Dana could feel the warmth, love, and fear coming off Joe like steam. With tears in her eyes, she gracefully moved to Joe’s side and wrapped her arms around him, resting her head on his shoulder. Joe wrapped his arms around Dana and squeezed tight.

“I know you’re scared. So am I.” Dana whispered.

“I just wish I could save you from this. You deserve love and kindness.” Joe let the tears roll down his face.

“Maybe there will be, someday. No one can be truly all bad, right?” Dana smiled, trying to reassure Joe, and in a way, herself.

They were only able to offer each other comfort for a short time before a strange woman poked her head into Dana’s room to tell them it was time to head to the grand hall. The walk to the hall seemed to take hours as they walked in silence before coming to a set of rosewood double doors that stood open to a massive hall.

The enormous room had two floors. The first floor was for the guests who consisted of Dana and Joe’s small family filling the first few pews at the head of the huge gathering of people. Largely, the mass of people attending consisted of politicians and the richest men and women of the world. This was a grand and historic event, and no one was willing to miss the spectacle. The first floor was filled with pews and not a seat was empty.

Statues and taxidermy beasts watched on from the walls of the first floor. Sculptures of high-ranking men from the days of the Great War of the Mystics, generals, scientists, war heroes, and even one of Colin in his stone-carved dragon scale armor and massive spiked mace at his side.

Between each statue stood a beautifully preserved creature, looking so lifelike, even in their infinite stillness. A black-feathered griffin lashed out at the air in a frozen rage, its long talons shining like obsidian daggers. A naga warrior posed upright with a long spear in her very human-looking hand, the spear’s head made of simple stone. Her oxidized copper armor covered her upper body and arms. Her scales were a shimmering orange and black in the faint light. Her serpent face was still and serene, forever vigil.

Smaller beasts like wyverns and owlcats were perched on carved wooden stands, snarling at the crowd. A white warg stood beside a black wolf, showing the true size difference in the animals. If not for the size, one would easily mistake one for the other, until you saw the paws on the warg. Its toes looked like long human fingers with long black claws. Even its tail was shorter than the wolf at its side. Dana felt a strange chill at the back of her neck as she noticed how humanlike the purple glass eyes of the warg looked compared to the golden eyes of the wolf.

At the furthest end of the hall was the display of a massive dragon skull placed high on the wall like an idol of worship. The light and hollow bone was polished to a brilliant ivory white; its horns the only color remaining of a rough textured dirty clay red that curled like ram horns. The stained glass windows at either side were shaped like the dragon’s mighty wings, the webbing in colors of red, rose gold, and creamy white. Dana could not help but wonder at the brilliance of the poor creature in its living body. She could almost feel its hot breath in the air and smell the smoke swirling from its nostrils.

Dana glanced up at the balcony of the second floor. The area was reserved for the media, mostly local radio and newspapers were allowed to cover the wedding. Dana carefully searched the crowd above until she spotted Amelia standing in a tight black pinstripe dress, her dark hair curled beautifully, falling over her shoulders like a silky scarf. While she watched the crowd, her expression grim, she held a pen and pad in her hands, writing franticly as she scanned the crowd below.

At Amelia’s side was a man in a plain gray suit, he wore a simple cap of matching gray wool, his eyes hidden by a heavy metal handheld camera with three glittering lenses. Very few people on the upper level had a film camera, so in a way, it made him stand out more. When Dana noticed the red hair of the man’s short-cut beard, she realized Amelia had managed to sneak Ed Dillard in with her without alerting the Arcane Order’s guards.

Dana smiled nervously, feeling uncomfortable at the thought of her friends risking their potential freedom or even their lives just to be at the wedding. She knew they only meant to be there for her, but she was still very afraid for their safety.

A sudden strumming melody pulled Dana’s attention back to the task at hand. She looked over at Joe again who forced a smile as he held out his arm to Dana. “It’s time.” He said softly.

Dana nodded. As the melody rolled on, the two entered the hall and walked slowly with the rhythm. While most might find the slow melody calming and beautiful, it instead gave off a foreboding sound to Dana as she moved forward.

At the end of the hall stood Colin, dressed in his war armor. The armor was made of brilliant red dragon scale and steel. The steel shined white with trimmed gold to give his impressive armor airs of higher standing. The dragon scale glistened in the light, each piece chosen specially to fit his form.

Dragon scale was one of the hardest and lightest materials used. That was what made it so prized and lead to the inevitable extinction of the grand beasts. The scales were also hard to mold, so in most cases, a forger would seek scales that could be used to fit over steel armor without having to struggle to cut it to the right shape. To shape dragon scale, you needed a Völva’s magic. The witch would have to carve ruins into the scale and use their ancient knowledge to shape it, and if the legend was to be trusted, make it even stronger.

As Dana drew closer, she made note that she could see no such ruins carved into the red scale. She would have to examine it closer when she was able.

Standing beside Colin was a large man with heavy jowls, his head held high as he looked down on Dana and Joe as they approached. The man was donned in a gown of black with red trim. The strange symbol embroidered in red at his chest looked like a gothic line-drawn tower reaching up to a broken star. The Mystic Tower of Lakoya.

Dana had never followed any religion. In fact, most people she knew did not follow The Mystic Tower of Lakoya, either. The Lakoyans were the head church aligned with the Arcane Order. Their god taking the form of a broken star, representing a god of two natures. Man and woman, good and evil, life and death. Their two faced god was said to be the creator of magic and used magic to mark the pure being of the world, like the Transcendents. However, the Völva were said to be thieves of the god’s magic, making them impure and corrupt. They were the witches of the Wayfarer people.

Thanks to the followers of Lakoya, the Wayfarer people were pushed from their ancient homelands and forced to wander the world. In addition, because the Arcane Order followed the Lakoyan teachings, the Wayfarer people were targeted greatly during the war. Scapegoated for the problems of the world and the end of magic. Dana knew she would not see Sonia Havel in the hall with a Lakoyan priest in the same vicinity.

Reaching the stage, Dana and Joe knelt to one knee before Colin and the Priest. In a gruff tone and an Awican accent, the priest rose his voice for all to hear, silencing any lingering murmurs. “Joe Epps of Wellingstone, father of the presented bride, Dana Massie, you may rise.”

Slowly, Joe got to his feet again. Joe stood as tall as he could muster, holding his hands in front of him, holding his head high. His face looked far too grim for a wedding.

The Priest addressed Joe again, his gruff voice booming in the massive hall. “Joe Epps, do you offer your daughter’s hand willingly to this man?” The Priest waved to Colin, who smiled, looking like a truly happy groom.

Inhaling deeply, Joe nodded. “I do.” Dana could feel the anxiety and instant regret from her loving father.

The Priest waved for Joe to take his seat. He slowly made his way to the first pew where Joseph and the rest of the family sat glumly. After Joe took his seat, the Priest turned his attention to Dana. “Rise, child, and face the one you intend to marry.”

Dana stood and faced Colin who smiled like a schoolboy seeing his first love. She could feel the genuine excitement and joy coming from Colin, and she smiled in return. Perhaps real love between them was not so farfetched. Dana felt a warmth spread in her heart.

The Priest looked to the crowd before speaking again. “We bring these two together as Lakoya once was. A pure unity of man and woman in holy matrimony. Lakoya bless their unity in the eyes of man.”

As the Priest rambled on, Dana would sneak glances at the people in the room. Dana had suddenly noticed a man at the far end of the first pew on Colin’s side wearing a dark military uniform with red trim. He wore several metals and stripes on his chest. A war hero, Dana assumed. The man noticed Dana looking at him and smiled. He winked at her with his hazel eyes, tipping his head and revealing the thinning dark hair on his head. Dana gave the man the slightest of nods to be polite before turning her eyes back to Colin.

“Colin Devlin, Kongur, Hero of the Arcane Order, step forward to your intended bride and take her hands in yours.” The Priest instructed.

Colin stepped forward and stood inches from Dana. He tenderly took Dana’s hands to his, holding them close to his heart, and smiled down at her. Dana could feel her heart race and her breathing shake, as she could smell the man’s cologne, a masculine smell that made her stomach flutter.

“Do you take this woman as part of yourself, to fulfill and make yourself whole as Lakoya sees fit?”

Colin grinned even wider. “I do.”

“Do you also promise to cherish and love her? Keep her safe from all others, in sickness, and in health, till death do you part this realm?”

Nodding, Colin responded with a quick, “I do.”

Satisfied, the Priest turned to Dana. “Dana Massie, do you take this man as part of yourself, to fulfill and make yourself whole as Lakoya sees fit?”

Dana took in a sharp inhale before speaking softly, smiling. “I do.”

“Do you also promise to cherish and love him? Keep him safe from all others, in sickness, and in health, till death do you part this realm?”

“I do.”

The priest held up his arms in triumph. “By the power of God, and by the rule of man, I here buy decree you Husband and Wife. All hail Kongur Colin and Drottning Dana Devlin!”

As the crowd cheered, Colin slipped a ring onto Dana’s left ring finger. Dana looked down seeing a ring of rose gold, the metal shaped like a vine with three rose gold leaves on each side and small diamonds under each. At the center was a large amethyst stone held in place with rose gold flower petals. Dana gasped at the beauty of it. When she looked up, she was met with the softest kiss and gentle hands tenderly holding her face.

***

Dana had left the wedding in a daze with her arm in Colin’s as he led her from the alter. She had not even paid mind to the people she had spoken with as they slowly parted the hall. Even the faces of her family blurred by her as she drifted through the hall.

As the wedding guests and reporters left to continue the festivities, Colin led his blushing bride to the tower he resided. Dana’s mind was still spinning when she entered the room and walked wordlessly to the balcony. She stood quietly as the wind blew cool on her hot face, pulling her back into the moment.

After taking several calming breaths, she turned back to the room to see Colin carefully taking off his armor and placing it into a large wood chest at the end of the massive king-sized bed. As he did this, Dana slowly looked the room over.

Colin had his own shelf lined with books and trinkets. At the wall beside the bookcase was a beautiful depiction of a golden dragon bowing its head to a maiden in a flowing white gown, the woman reaching out a hand to touch the beast.

At the other end of the wall was a large stone fireplace, a low fire burning within. Above was a taxidermy head of a chimera. The creature had the head of a great lion, black horns curling upward to deadly sharp points. Its roaring mouth opened to reveal massive fangs that would have once held a paralyzing poison. Dana could make out dull copper scales at the nape of its neck just under the golden mane.

“I killed it when I was traveling in Askea, that’s where your father’s people are from.” Colin did not even look up from his task.

“I… didn’t know that.” Dana admitted.

Dana continued to walk around the room, examining the relics, art, and oddities collected over his years in the war. Even some of the furniture was foreign to her. “It’s all so beautiful.” She said with a mystified smile.

Colin set the last piece of armor into the chest and shut the lid. “None as beautiful as you.” He looked at her closely as she turned to him, blushing beautifully. Colin lifted his hand out to her. “Come.” He said in a husky voice.

Shyly, Dana turned and walked to him, placing her hand in his hesitantly. He gently held her hand and eased her closer to him until they were barely brushing against each other. Dana blushed; even her pale freckled shoulders had turned pink. As Colin examined her face, he leaned in and kissed her cheeks near the corners of her eyes. Once. Twice. Thrice.

Dana giggled. “What are you doing?”

Colin smiled and ran his fingers over her cheeks. “You have the lightest freckles, I just noticed them. I want to see where else you have them.” He let his fingers trace her exposed skin, finding new freckles and leaning in to kiss them.

Dana shook, gaping with every touch. Colin smiled at her reaction like a sly fox. “You’ve never had a man touch you like this?”

Dana turned her head away, embarrassed. “No.”

Colin let out a rough chuckle. “So I get to be the first man to taste you.”

His hands moved to the edges of the dress at her shoulders and began to slide it free. The dress slid off with ease off her shoulders. Colin’s lips found her shoulders as his hands reached to her back to untie the corset. His hands were skilled and sure, easily loosening it enough to let it slip over her hips. With her breasts free under the gown, he slid the gown over her torso.

In a panic, Dana rose her hands to cover her chest, nearly shrinking away in embarrassment. Colin took her hands in his and eased them away, exposing her large breasts and pink nipples to him. With a wicked grin, he leaned down and placed his soft mouth over her nipple, teasing her with his tongue.

Dana gasped, her body shaking with pleasure as she leaned herself into him. She felt the heat of her face and a greater heat between her legs. Colin moved his hands to slip off the rest of the dress over her hips, leaving her near-naked, save her soft cream underwear and the dress pooled at her feet.

Colin straightened and looked Dana over, smiling, satisfied. “You are a stunning woman.”

Dana forced herself to not cover her nakedness while Colin stood in a loose white shirt and white boxer shorts. Noticing her looking him over as well, Colin grinned and stripped himself of his shirt. His body was lean and defined beautifully with his rich tan skin. He had very little hair on his chest, save a soft patch at the center of his chest and a small ring of gold hair around his dark nipples. Dana watched as his chest rose and fell heavily.

Dana bit her lips and shifted her weight nervously. Colin laughed softly. “Don’t be afraid, I’ll show you what to do.” He slipped his thumbs under the bands of his boxers and slid them down, exposing himself fully to her.

Dana swallowed hard as she let her eyes travel his body slowly. His stomach was flat and lean, a soft trail of dark gold hair leading to his groin. Dana felt some terror at the sight of his penis, erect and larger than she would have imagined. She had the sudden fear that whatever he was going to do with it might hurt her.

Colin noticed her fear and took her hand. “Come lay on the bed. Don’t be scared, I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

Dana followed his lead and crawled into the bed, covers pulled down to the end of the bed, she lay on her back stiffly. Colin laughed. “You can relax, I’ll lead you.” He moved onto the bed at her side and put a hand on her thigh, gripping it gently.

He moved her leg to one side and moved it so he could crawl between her legs on the soft mattress. As he maneuvered between her legs, he took her ankles and lifted them to his shoulders, kissing her legs tenderly. He leaned forward and took hold of her underwear and, with a tug, pulled them from her hips and up her legs. He tossed them to the floor as he let her legs fall from his shoulder, spread out before him.

Leaning over her naked body, he ran a hand up her thigh as he kissed her stomach, making her stomach shiver with the sensation. Creeping up to her soft mound, he eased two fingers into her, finding she was already wet and eager. Dana gasped at the sensation and let out a soft moan as he slowly moved his fingers inside of her.

Colin let out a soft growl. “See? Your body already knows what to do.” He slipped out his fingers and moved his hips to hers, taking his hand and guiding himself inside of her.

Dana gasped and squirmed under Colin. As he began to slowly thrust himself inside her, she felt a pinch of pain creep through her abdomen. The pain quickly faded as she felt herself moving her hips with his, riding the wave of pain into pleasure. Colin pressed his hand onto her abdomen, holding her as still as he could as he moved faster.

Dana moaned and arched her back, the sensation like nothing she ever imagined. She wrapped her legs around his hips and held him tightly as he moved faster, panting with the effort.

A trembling wave of throbbing pleasure filled Dana, moving like a wave from her groin, up her stomach, into her chest, and finally clouding her mind in bliss as she cried out uncontrollably. Colin thrust himself faster inside of her, reaching his own climax with a deep grunt as he held himself inside of her, filling her with his seed.

After a moment of both just smiling at each other and panting, Colin leaned in and passionately kissed Dana. He pulled back after the long and lingering kiss and looked into Dana’s dark blue eyes. “I love you.” He whispered.

Dana blinked, shocked at his words. Did he really find himself in love with her so quickly? Was this warmth and bliss she felt love? She was not sure. She had never loved like this before. She did not even know if the same sensations she felt from him was what love felt like, but she let the words slip free without fear. “I love you, too.”

More coming soon

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Quid Pro Quo By Vivicawolf

Dana sat quietly with her hands clasped in her lap. Sitting up straight with her knees together and her ankles crossed, she tried to listen to the voices around her as she attempted to block out the emotions connected to them. She could feel the weight of it all around her like hands pressing onto her shoulders, back, and eyes. Her head began to ache with the effort to block it out.

She sat in Papa Joe’s live in room while Ed Dillard, Amelia Orrin, Joe Epps, Joseph Epps, and his wife, Lindsey, who was holding baby Elroy in her arms. They talked and argued around her as she sat like a piece of furniture.

“We can’t let that monster have her!” Amelia snapped.

“I understand, but this could be a huge opportunity,” Joseph rose his voice slightly to be heard, trying not to frighten his infant son.

“You’re actually ok with putting your sister behind enemy lines like that?” Ed pointed accusingly at Joseph.

“That’s not what I’m saying and you know it.” Joseph puffed out his chest and took a step forward.

“Joseph, please.” Lindsey looked to her husband, fearful of where the argument might lead. She clung tight to her child, bouncing him in her arms. She was a short woman with a thin frame. Her skin was a light copper with hazel eyes and wavy sun-kissed auburn hair falling at her narrow shoulders. Her yellow floral dress was stained at the shoulders with spit up from little Elroy. While the baby looked just like Joseph, he had the stunning hazel eyes inherited by his mother.

Joseph held up his hands and took a step back, relaxing his posture. “Look, I know what’s at stake, but this is how we get someone on the inside. I’m not saying she should play some spy game, I’m saying with her at the head, things could actually change.”

“So, what? Have her whisper sweet nothings of peace into Earthshatter’s ear? You think that’s a safe place for Dana?” Amelia spat a curse in her mother tongue.

Joseph wagged a finger at Amelia. “Watch your language. Besides, if she is made Drottning, you think anyone would dare harm her?”

Amelia cocked her head and glared. “And you honestly believe nothing could happen to a Drottning? What makes you think that would stop them if they find out she is part of the rebellion?”

Joseph waved his hand dismissively. “They won’t,”

“They will, and they will kill her.” Ed marched forward and snarled, standing inches from Joseph’s face.

Dana stood abruptly and shouted. “Enough!” She was done feeling like she had no say in her future.

The room went silent, save for the irritated coos of the squirming baby in Lindsey’s arms.

Dana took a deep breath to calm her own frustration, stirred by the emotions of the room. “It’s my choice, isn’t it? Or do I not get a say in my own fate?”

Joe reached out a withered hand to Dana. She reached out and gave his hand a gentle squeeze, being tender to his old joints. “If I can do something to help without violence, I’ll take it. Lives could be saved.” Dana looked to Amelia. “If there is a chance to fix things from within, I have to try.”

Amelia’s eyes watered as she quickly moved in front of Dana and took her face in her hands. “Ma donna, no. I’ve seen what the Order does to people. I’m begging you, don’t give yourself to him.”

Dana placed her hands over Amelia’s hands and gently took them away from her face. “I know you’re afraid, so am I. But I need you to trust me.”

Ed folded his arms over his chest. “Danny, we trust you. We know you can keep yourself safe with your gift and all. We just can’t leave you to fend for yourself in that.”

Joe cleared his throat. “Well, what if I go with her? If I’m there as some kind of servant, I can keep an eye on her. Besides, aren’t there hidden tunnels in the castle?”

Amelia blinked. “Yes, but you could get caught sneaking through hidden passages.”

“And your informants? Have they ever been caught?” Joe asked calmly.

Amelia looked taken aback. “Well, no. But that’s…”

“I’m an old man, who would ever look my way twice?” Joe interrupted. “I can help her. I will make sure she is safe. And if it gets bad, I’ll get her out.”

Joseph and Ed looked at each other skeptically. “Pa, no offense, but how can you keep her safe from Earthshatter?”

Joe shot his son an agitated look. “Now see here, you think you can take on a monster any better? No? Now be quiet. You have a wife and boy, think of them. And you,” He shot a glance at Ed. “You’ve stirred up to much trouble, you have eyes on you. You’re not even an option.”

Ed’s mouth opened, then closed as he thought better to simply keep his mouth shut.

Dana nodded. “Papa is the best option; he can find the tunnels easily. If your informants can give him a few places to look, he can talk to other servants and get them to spill the beans.”

Amelia let out a heavy sigh. “This is a bad idea, I hate this so much.”

“No one is thrilled about this, but this could save everyone in Wellingstone.” Dana looked at her friend. “I know your worried about me… all of you are.” Dana glanced from person to person, making sure to look each person in the eyes. “But it’s my choice.”

Dana turned and walked to Lindsey and looked at baby Elroy chewing his fingers, drool forming at his chin. Dana cupped the soft little cheek and ran her hand up to caress the top of his fuzzy scalp. Elroy let out a happy chirp at the sensation, making Dana and Lindsey smile. For a moment, Dana pondered the idea of her own children, a sensation a yearning, despite the paternal candidate.

Dana’s smile slowly faded as she gazed into Elroy’s round hazel eyes. “I’ll make your world a better place.” She vowed.

***

Dana left everything she had owned in her room at Joe Epps home. She came to this country and started her life with nothing, and felt it best to do the same in this situation. She made her bed and picked out the best dress she owned. A pretty dress with a rich purple wine color. The dress with adorned with a black lace hem, and a violet sash for her waist. She put on a pair of old black heels and did her best to shine them. When she was satisfied with the results, she put them on and began to brush out her hair.

She took her time to curl her hair and put it up, soft wavy locks at the top rolled at her temple and held in place with a few bobby pins. She fixed her makeup and examined the results, admiring herself in the mirror. Her lips stood out beautifully in the matte red shade of lipstick Amelia had left for her with a note that read simply, “Long Live the Drottning.” She added a light rouge to her cheeks and filled in her brows to make them a hint darker. She finished off the look with earthy-toned eyeshadow and brown mascara.

She felt quite lovely as she pulled on her faded black gloves. With a final glance in the mirror, she twirled on the tips of her toes, the dress swirling like a flower around her. She could not help but smile, her stomach fluttering with butterflies.

Stepping out of her room, she found Papa Joe waiting in the hall dressed in his finest suit. His cane in one hand, and his hat in the other. Dana stepped up to Joe and brushed his shoulders, feeling the rough dark gray fabric under her fingers. She reached to his collar and adjusted the dark brown tie at his throat.

Joe gave his adopted daughter a forced smile and held out his right arm to Dana. “Shall we?”

Dana took Joe’s arm and put her other hand at his elbow affectionately. “It will be a long walk, are you sure you will be able to make it.”

“Sweet child,” Joe smiled and placed his hat on his head. “I’ve faced greater obstacles in my adventurous youth; I won’t even slow you down.” He said, brimming with confidence.

Dana hugged his arm and they left the house together. They had started early in the morning. The morning air was crisp from a cool evening, and the morning birds were already out and singing as a choir to wake the world. As shops began to open and people went about their day, they would take their time, peek into the windows at clothes shops, and follow their noses to the bakery for sips of coffee and flakey sweet pastries filled with sweet pureed fruit. A treat rarely afforded them.

As the walk took them up steeper paths, Dana would fain exhaustion, knowing Joe would never ask to stop. As she would complain of tired feet or the heat of the sun, Joe would insist on a short sit and some water.

As the gates of the castle came into view, Dana could feel her heart race faster. Marble white walls with gold veins rose into the air taller than the shops nearby. Three tall spires reached into the sky like fingertips caressing the underbelly of the clouds above. The windows reflected the light of the sun with spectacular colors of stained glass.

As a massive black iron gate came into view, out stepped two strange men in black uniforms, their eyes hidden behind dark glasses and wide-brimmed hats. The men moved to the center of the gate opening and stood side by side, long rifles in their arms held lazily.

Dana and Joe moved cautiously towards the guards who made no further movement until the two were only five feet from the gate. One of the two men held up his hand up, palm out to halt them. “Miss Massie, we welcome you and your guardian to the Arcane Manor.” The man waved towards the end of the black iron gate where an iron doorway stood.

The guard walked them to the doorway and opened it, taking a step outward to stand behind the door, allowing room for Dana and Joe to pass freely. As they stepped through, the man spoke, “My Kongur waits for you inside.”

Before they could respond, the man shut the iron door and walked back to his post. The brick path led them up to a massive courtyard where a statue of a gigantic white marble man and woman embraced above a fountain of sky blue marble. The man held the naked woman in his own nude embrace, her head tilted back into his shoulder with his hand pressed onto her lower stomach, their other hands held together in an elegant and intimate caress. The beauty of it made Dana gasp, she had never seen anything like it.

Her cheeks grew hot as she turned her eyes away from the sensual image. She looked over at Joe who seemed to see right through the marble statue to the blood-red double doors at the front of the mansion. The whole outside was of a pale gray river stone and smoky gray marble trim, the roof the color of a dark red fall leaf with charcoal black frames around the edges and window frames. While the manor itself only stood three floors tall, the towers came to stand five floors high. The sides of the manor stretched out like the wings of a stone angel, giving the feeling as if it might wrap itself around you.

They slowly walked toward the entrance, a blood-red path of brick through the lushness of the green and cared for yard and garden. Vines of ivy crawled over fences and hid them almost entirely. Flowers and trees were in bloom and the vibrant colors around them looked like splotches of paint dripped all over a canvas of deep greens.

Even in her own anxiousness, Dana could feel Joe’s hands tremble slightly. She knew very well that it was not exhaustion that did this, but fear. While beautiful, this place held darkness and secrets like a haunted house.

They reached the door and before they could knock, the door opened from within, where two more black-clad guards held the doors open. The floor was a smoky black marble with gold veins that shined like a mirror. The walls were an eggshell white with black iron and more black marble adorning the lower walls in sections. Two curving staircases swung out to the far sides of the first room with black iron railings and blood-red carpet on the black marble staircase, reminding Dana of raven wings on fire.

At the top of the steps stood Colin Devlin, wearing his own three-piece suit of a charcoal black, a deep red tie, and a red handkerchief in the left breast pocket being the only color to his ensemble. His silvery blue eyes stood out like distant stars in the night sky as he smiled widely at his guests.

“My gods, how far you’ve walked to be here.” He leaned onto the black iron railing; the pattern twisted and swirled like wisps of smoke. “Had I known, I would have sent a car. Please forgive me.”

Joe Epps straightened himself and took off his hat politely. “The day was fair. We enjoyed the walk and time together.”

Colin chuckled and began to walk down the long staircase. “I’m sure it was a fine walk, but I do feel inhospitable for not providing my services.” He lightly skipped off the last step in a youthful manner. “You must both be famished. Could I offer a drink in the dining hall?” He waved to a doorway at the left.

Dana dipped her head in gratitude. “That would be greatly appreciated.” She spoke as politely as she could.

Colin dipped his own head in response, a stray wisp of golden hair falling into his face. “Of course. Shall we?” He held out a hand and Dana carefully placed her hand in his, Joe still at her side.

Colin led the two through a red door and into a long hall lined with beautiful paintings of strange landscapes and strange creatures. Paintings of tropical forests with snake people that carried bowls of food in human-like arms, some in armor with weapons slung over their backs as they slithered along together. Another painting of brightly colored harpy women flying together like dancers over a desert oasis. Another of a massive black griffin taking down a striped horse in an endless grassy plane. There were so many that Dana was unable to glimpse them all.

The long hall of paintings led to a massive dining space with a long red-stained wood table with several chairs of the same stained wood lining it. Colin walked then to the far corner of the table and pulled a chair out for Dana beside the head of the table. He waved for Joe to sit at her side while he took the head of the table.

Without a word, an older woman in a very modest black gown walked out with a silver tray with three crystal wine goblets and a dark bottle with an unknown liquid sloshing inside. She carefully set the glasses in front of the three and soundlessly poured a burgundy liquid. Leaving the bottle, she tucked the silver tray under her arm and quickly left, slipping behind a massive tapestry at the wall furthest from the table.

The tapestry reached from the tall ceiling to the floor and depicted a pack of hunting hounds perusing a frightened stag with the feathers of a peacock down its back. There were clear marks on the stag from the teeth of the hounds, leaving torn bloody wounds on its haunches and chest, the bright yellow eyes of the poor beast full of wild panic. Dana suspected that the poor beast was always meant to parish.

She reached for her cup of wine and took a small sip, the wine was surprisingly sweet and smooth on her tongue. She delicately set the glass down and looked to Colin. “You have such a lavish home.”

Colin brought the cup to his lips and smiled. “It’s far more than just my home. This is the Arcane Order’s Capitol in Awica. Did you know that?”

Dana shook her head slightly.

Colin took a long swallow of the wine and set the glass down. “We have many of the best scientists working here. Along with frequent visits from political heads and of course, many, many lavish parties.” Colin smiled slyly. “But most of all, this will be our home together.”

Dana felt herself flush with color as she fumbled with her dress under the table. “Yes, I suppose it will be.” She took a deep breath, finding her courage, and puffed out her chest for good measure. “Before we move further, I have to place my own stipulations on this arrangement.”

Colin rose a brow and lifted his glass to his lips again, pulling the last of his wine before smiling wolfishly at Dana. “Aren’t you a bold one? Very well, what are your demands?”

Dana took another deep breath, feeling Joe place a hand on her elbow to help her remain brave and remind her she had support. “First, my father,” She looked to Joe and smiled at him.

Father?” Colin chuckled, the word coming out like a mockery.

Dana blinked at Colin, shocked by the rudeness. “Yes. My father. He raised me as such and so he is.”

Colin waved away her hurt tone. “Apologies, as you say.”

Dana cleared her throat. “As I was saying, I require that my father remain a part of my daily life even here. If it would be convenient for you, I would prefer he work here as my caregiver and confidant. I trust him and his wisdom and feel he would be a great asset to me.”

Colin looked at Joe and nodded. “That’s a fair request, anything else?”

Confidently, she continued. “I want my family to receive any aid they may need in the future, including assistance with food, money, housing, or anything else they might need. Times are hard, and I couldn’t live like this,” She gestured to the room. “Knowing they would still be suffering.”

Colin nodded thoughtfully. “We can arrange that. Your family will not go wanting, I can promise you that.”

Dana nodded, relief washing over her as her body began to relax.

Colin leaned forward and lowered his tone. “Since we are asking for things, I do have my own requirements for this arrangement. My first is that I do expect children from our marriage. But I’m sure you wouldn’t argue with such a thing.”

Dana felt her heart race. She had already come to terms that children would come with a marriage, but to hear it from his lips made her feel like a shy child. She smiled shyly, her eyes downcast. “Y-yes, I had thought that would be expected.”

Colin smiled wolfishly, his voice going horse. “I had a feeling you might be willing to put in the effort.” He chuckled as he watched Dana’s face redden even more.

Colin leaned back, making himself more comfortable. “Now, I also have a very serious requirement of you. The scientists of the Arcane Order have worked years to perfect the enhancements of our kind. With the use of science and magic, we are able to make ourselves truly godlike in power. And what I want is for you to go through the process as I and others like us have done. To bring you to your full potential.”

Dana looked to Joe, who looked back at her with wide onyx eyes. “What would that mean for her?” He asked, voice shaking slightly.

Colin spoke gently. “Your daughter will be meeting with my scientists. They have a powerful Völva in their service who helps with the creation of a serum that will be given to Dana. The serum will enhance her Transcendent abilities, bringing her to her full potential. Her lifespan will become even longer because of this.” Colin tried to give his most assuring smile to Joe.

Joe swallowed hard. “And this was done to you and others like you?”

Colin nodded. “It is quite safe, I assure you. After that, we will be wed the next day.”

Dana could feel the fear from Joe. Taking his hand, she looked at him and smiled. “It will be fine, Papa. I promise.”

Joe looked at her with watery eyes, trying not to tear over. “I can’t help but be afraid for you, my sweet child. You’re my little angel, and I love you like any of my own.” He let out a shuttering sigh. “I will never stop worrying over you, but I won’t stop you. I trust you, I always will.” He leaned forward and kissed her forehead, stroking her hair lovingly.

“I love you, too, Papa.” She whispered.

Colin stood, the chair pushing back with ease, a look of mild amusement on his face. “I will take you to your room; your father may stay with your tonight. Tomorrow we will perform the ritual, and the next day we will be wed.”

Colin led them out of the dining hall and through a maze of halls until they, at last, came to a spiraling staircase of one of the three towers. The room at the top of the tower was massive. It was nearly the size of Joe’s house, with a single huge room filling the majority of the space. An empty bookcase covered the entire wall closest to the window with a wide balcony overlooking the city and the sea beyond. A red door at the other end of the massive room led to a large bathroom with a cherry wood vanity and large shower made with river stones and its own separate claw-foot porcelain bath. The marble floors here were white with gold veins. A large couch carved from cedar wood with clay red leather cushions and a queen-sized bed with a wood canopy were all that were in the room.

As Dana and Joe walked in, eyes wide with wonder, Colin spoke up, smiling at them. “Don’t worry about it being so empty. In the morning I will have new clothes brought up for you both, and we will find some nice things for you to decorate.”

Dana walked over to Colin and bowed politely. “Thank you, for everything. I don’t know how to thank you.”

Colin chuckled hoarsely and smirked, taking her chin in his hands. He tilted her face up and kissed her deeply, savoring her soft lips, the taste of sweet wine shared between them. “Your very welcome, my love.” He gave her a bow, and left, closing the door behind him.

Dana stood speechless, her fingers lightly touching her lips, her face hot.

She turned to see Joe frowning deeply. Embarrassed, she looked at the floor and walked to the bathroom, mumbling, “We really should get some sleep.”

***

Dana stood cold and stiffly near the stone wall in the lower working of the manor as the people around her began their preparations. The room was dimly lit and cold, the walls made of dark stone that made the room look like a cave. The walls had the water stains to make it appear more like a dank cavern.

As she stood holding herself and trying not to shiver, she stared at the steel bed with a thin white cloth draped over to offer comfort. Stainless steel tables were placed near the bed, some with candles burning, others with syringes and leather restraints. She felt her skin crawl as she watched men and women in white coats scramble to ready the ritual.

Joe had been asked to wait in the tower until the ritual was over, presumably for his safety. Dana hoped that was the only reason. As she watched, wide-eyed, a hand fell onto her shoulder, startling her. She jumped and turned defensively, only slightly relieved that it was only Colin putting his hand onto her shoulder to get her attention.

He smiled down on her reassuringly. “Don’t be afraid, my love. I will be with you the whole time.”

Dana forced a smile and nodded. “Thank you. It just seems so…strange.”

Colin chuckled. “Of course it would, only a handful in this whole world have been through this. But I assure you, you are in the best hands.” Colin put a hand at the center of her back and steered her towards an older man and woman conversing beside the steel bed.

The man was a small lanky creature with thick glasses that magnified his wide, bloodshot brown eyes. He wore a loose-fitting lab coat with a gray wool suit underneath. His hair was completely gone at the top, leaving a halo of gray from ear to ear. As Colin steered Dana towards the man, he grinned wildly, revealing a set of false teeth that were far too perfect and far too white for his age.

Colin reached a hand out and shook the other man’s hand. “A pleasure to have you returned, Doctor. I want to introduce you to my soon-to-be wife.”

The man nodded to Dana, his large eyes examining her all the while. “A pleasure, miss. I look forward to seeing what kind of results may come of this. I believe you may be an extraordinary find.” He spoke with an accent similar to Colin’s Zecroybian accent, but with a soft slur.

The woman beside the man stepped forward. She was older as well, her eyes narrow and dark from a lack of rest. Her hair was a wild salt and pepper, strands of curls struggling to break free of the bun she pulled her hair into. Her white coat covering a dark robe underneath that reached the floor, hiding her feet. She was taller than the man only by a few inches, but her posture making her seem larger and somehow younger.

She smiled down on Dana kindly and spoke in a strange accent. “Forgive doctor Vlach. He tends to blind himself in his pursuit of knowledge that he forgets his manners.”

The doctor flushed with color from his round chin to the top of his round head and nodded. “Ah, apologies.”

Colin gave Dana a tender squeeze, tugging her close, his arm over her shoulders. “This is Doctor Isidore Vlach; he will be overseeing the ritual.”

Vlach grumbled. “Procedure,”

Colin nodded. “As you say.” He said dismissively before waving to the woman. “This is our most honored Sonia Havel. She is one of the last known Völva. She was once dubbed the Witch of the Silver Grove.”

Sonia nodded, a strangely sad feeling emanating around her. “In the old country, but that was many years ago. I am here with the Arcane Order now.”

Dana looked at the woman curiously. Sonia gave her a similar look as she examined Dana. The woman waved a hand in front of Dana’s face, startling her. A strange dark smoke seemed to puff from the woman’s fingertips. After a long moment of eerie silence, Sonia smiled. “You have a powerful destiny. Let’s see if you are able to follow the right path.”

She flashed a crooked smile to the men, walked away to the side of the steel bed, and waited.

The doctor scoffed, his face contorted in disgust. “Damned Völva. Dramatic to a fault. You can never make sense of them.”

Colin chuckled. “Truer words have never been spoken.” He looked down at Dana. “Take your place, my love. We are about to begin.”

Biting her lip, Dana stepped forward in bare feet and slowly moved to the table laid out before her. She carefully lay on the bed, careful to keep her robe from bunching. She put her fingers over the cloth and felt the chill of the cold steel underneath. She shivered and turned her attention to Sonia. “What did you mean by a powerful destiny?”

Sonia gazed into Dana’s eyes, and Dana could have sworn her dark eyes turned to a solid black. She felt a strength and energy she had never known, something reaching out and taking hold of her mind like dark claws in the night. “You will be the end of it all. The ancient song is calling. Can you hear it in the distance of your soul?”

Dana could not speak, she felt frozen in time as the woman held her in her gaze. Afraid, Dana made an effort to respond through the magic that held her. “I hear nothing.”

Sonia lifted her chin. “You will. A voice in the dark cries out for freedom and dead sing of revenge.”

Dana looked confused. Before she respond with questions, Sonia brought a finger to her lips and then used the same hand to wave over Dana’s head.

“Now lay back and relax,” The voice of Isidore Vlach pulled Dana out of the strange trance, and she reluctantly obeyed.

Dana laid back onto the table with a shiver and struggled to relax while Isidore Vlach took her arm and prepared an IV line. The thick needle made Dana whimper in pain and the doctor smiled sympathetically at her. “I know it’s uncomfortable, but this will make the process easier.”

The cold saline solution ran into Dana’s veins and made her feel like she had been dropped into the icy sea. She bit her lip and watched the doctor pick up a syringe full of a thick pinkish liquid. “Doctor, would you tell me what’s in that?”

Isidore Vlach’s eyes lit up, seeming to grow larger as he grinned from ear to ear with excitement. “This! This is the key to our evolution. With the combined works of science and magic, we were able to use the blood of the most powerful creatures in the world to make your kind stronger in every sense.”

Dana looked at the IV in her arm. “Blood from what kind of creatures?”

He sat at her side holding the syringe like a pencil, tapping the covered needle on the table. “Well, Colin was given a serum with dragon’s blood. This made him stronger and, as far as we can tell, invincible. The magic in the dragon’s blood seemed to bond with the magic of his own blood. It’s quite fascinating!”

Dana glanced from Sonia to Isidore Vlach. “And the blood in mine, is that dragon’s blood?”

The doctor frowned. “Tragically, Colin was the last to receive any with dragon’s blood. The rest was destroyed in the war. However, there is a creature that is related to the common wolf, the warg, with near-human intelligence and a strong connection to the magical realm. Wargs were easier to find, they tended to live in the same places as their wolf cousins.”

“How can you distinguish the two?” Dana asked.

“Wargs are huge beasts, they have strong bodies, and their shape has a very human appearance. Long fingerlike paws, muscular upper bodies, shorter tails. The Völva used to tell stories that the warg were once men who learned dark magic and became wolves. But it’s more likely that the warg are just large wolves with magic in their blood.”

Dana swallowed. “Will it change anything… physically I mean?”

“No, in fact, this was used before. Not as great an impact as dragon’s blood, but it does the trick.”

Dana looked to Sonia, her eyes narrow as she looked into the candlelight and quietly chanted in a strange tongue. Dana began to breathe faster. Her head began to spin in a sudden panic. “I don’t think I can do this, something isn’t right.”

Dr. Isidore Vlach looked at Dana, surprised by her change in demeanor. “I assure you, you’re perfectly safe.”

Dana shook her head wildly as Sonia’s chanting filled her mind. “No, it’s wrong…”

As Dana watched Sonia, she tried to sit up in the steel bed, only to have herself restrained by two men. Her eyes never left Sonia who chanted faster and louder as she turned to look at Dana. Sonia stood and walked to Dana and placed three fingers on her forehead and three fingers at the center of her chest.

The sudden feeling of molten liquid running into her vines made Dana surge. She felt the fluid spread into her head and chest where the witch touched her. The burning was filling all of her, growing much worse in her mind and her heart. She screamed in pain and writhed, pulling so hard at the restraints, she was sure she broke her right hand trying to free herself.

In her mind, she could still hear Sonia, speaking in a strange language. And yet, the words seemed to draw a feeling in her mind. It felt like loathing, horror, and vengeance. Dana pushed back at the feelings, trying to think of her loved ones, and yet, the images of them seemed to burn to ash.

Dana pushed back as hard as she could, using everything in her. A burst of energy erupted from her body, pushing everyone away from her. Dana felt her last ounce of strength leave her as her breath slowed and she slipped into darkness.

———————

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Happy News Years Everyone & Welcome To 2022

Hello everyone and how is it going today? Hopefully well. Now I would also like to say Happy New Years on behalf of Thoughts Of Everything, welcome to 2022. we made it to another year. It already part way through the day for me and I got to go to work tonight. It’s 2:05pm right now where I’m at. Let all hope this year gets better and what not. The past couple years have been shitty for the most part and some had it worse that others. Anyways, with the renewal of my business license as well as the Thoughts Of Everything tradename. I want to start really kicking things up a notch and really start getting all my business projects going. Now I will say that I unregistered the Rutaku Anime tradename for Vivicawolf as I felt that because technically Rutaku Anime is part of Thoughts Of Everything and the Rutaku Anime domain points to our website anime category. Vivicawolf is a writer for our parent creative company, Productions Of The Human Mind which I may go into more detail about later maybe. 

Now I’m not going to go into too much more on this post as I’m trying to get a few things done around the house before I go to work plus another post I have yet to finish writing that I started before the new year. More or less I just wanted to say Happy New Years and give some updates to the Thoughts of everything brand. Thanks for reading and be safe out there.

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Story in progress Part 2 By Vivicawolf

Dana had lived with the family for a few months. She quickly realized how big Joe’s family really was. The Epps family consisted of Joe Epps, the elder of the family and his children. The eldest being his daughter Ida, who lived with her family just a few blocks away with her husband and three children. Oday was the second oldest, who unfortunately died in the war referred to the War of the Mystics, he left no family behind. Amber was the next, a widow with two children ages six and four. Finally, there was Joseph; he had a twin brother who died at a young age of a deadly epidemic. This same disease would eventually claim the life of Abigail Epps, Joe’s beloved wife.

There were of course countless other relatives. Both Joe and Abigail grew up with large families. Dana had yet to become aquatinted with the extended family. Holidays used to be a whole event for the family. The apartment would be so packed with people, according to Joe, that it might as well have been a sardine can.

Dana stood in the live-in room and ran her fingers over the ivory keys of the piano lightly. The feel of them was oddly soothing to her. The keys seemed to hold the energy of joy and love, with notes of sorrow that only added to the beauty of it. In her mind, she could almost recall the notes last played as a sweet melody had once hung in the air.

A sudden cry and crash of glass from down the hall pulled her back to the moment. She sprinted to the hall and ran to Joe’s room where Joseph struggled to calm his father. Joe was having more and more episodes where he would slip into the past. Sometimes his mind would revert to a few years back, sometimes it would go so far back that he became almost childlike and fearful. Those days he would weep and call out for his mother. Watching the decline of Joe’s memory and mind was hard on everyone.

Dana could feel the changes in Joe’s mind. She had grown so keen to the fluctuations in Joe’s mind that she would be able to warn Joseph. Joseph called them her instincts, and she had always been right in her perceptions.

All her life, Dana had been referred to as a sensitive child. She had always been able to read the emotions of others. This strange instinct of hers had been part of the reason she was able to survive on her own for so long in a strange land. She was able to feel a person’s intentions towards her and avoid the most dangerous. She could feel a person’s mood and gauge how she could safely interact with the person. Sometimes, she could feel something in a person that felt like something had been broken in them. It almost felt like broken glass or a deep and painful scar. She could feel the sensation of broken glass in Joe’s mind, like the drinking glass shattered on the floor.

Dana stood in the doorway and watched as Joseph struggled to keep his father on the bed and clean up the glass and water on the floor. Joseph turned and saw Dana watching, her eyes wide and her mouth open. He nodded to her. “Hey kid, come help keep Papa Joe calm, will you?”

He knew how much his father adored the little girl; even in his worst state, he always seemed to find serenity when she was near. Joseph found their bond curious, but without malice. Still, Joseph would often feel some jealousy towards their closeness. He knew it was a childish feeling, and he often hated himself for feeling that way. He knew the girl only knew kindness in her heart, he often felt the same calmness she seemed to emanate.

They needed her soothing aura now. Joseph was growing so fearful for his father; he had known elders to fall into this maddening state, which would eventually lead to their demise. It was as if his father’s mind was rotting away, slowly killing him like the plague that took Joseph’s mother. Instead of drowning in his own blood, he was being pulled away from the world and into memories of long ago.

Joseph felt terrible to subject the little girl to such an abysmal thing. He watched with a heavy heart as the little orphaned girl slowly moved into the dark room.

Dana cautiously tiptoed around the bed and sat at the side furthest from the door. Joe shivered in his bed, weeping softly. It killed her to watch her friend suffer so. She felt so helpless on days like this. Was she really so helpless? Was she so limited in her talent that she could do nothing to help him?

 She did not know.

However, something in her seemed to pull at her soul, telling her she could indeed do something. Still unsure of herself, and what her heart was telling her to do, she scooted close to Joe’s head and leaned over him. “Shh, Papa. I’m here to help you.” She said quietly.

Joe opened his watery eyes and sniffed hard, his chin quivering like a distressed child. “W-what are you going to do to me?” His voice was soft and almost childlike.

Dana swallowed down the urge to cry and forced a smile. “I’m going to make you whole again.” Dana moved her hands towards Joe’s face and he flinched, cowering slightly. “May I touch you?” She asked in a soothing tone.

Joe nodded after a moment and closed his eyes, the remaining tears rolling over his temples. Dana reached out slowly and placed her delicate hands over his wet temples. She could feel his mind; it felt sick and somewhat broken as she felt her mind touching his. She could almost see something dark and oily infecting his mind. Her mind, like her soft fingertips, gently began to wipe away the sickness. It took effort to do this, but after some time, she was left with the scars and open wounds it seemed to leave behind.

She reached out again and ran her mind along the wounds like a mother gently wiping away her child’s tears. Slowly, she could feel the wounds healing, knitting together parts like stitches, while the deeper parts began to fill with a healing warmth that felt like it was filling the holes with her love and spirit.

As the wounds finally healed, and the sickness was dispelled, she felt light inside, but also exhausted. She was suddenly aware of her own tears running over her pale cheeks. She felt heavy, wanting to just lay herself down and sink into the warmth and comfort of her bed. Her body shivered slightly as she let her eyes remain closed, feeling the gentle pull of sleep.

A familiar voice pulled her out of her exhaustion. “Sweet child, you can’t possibly be a simple girl,”

Dana opened her eyes and looked at Joe as he began to sit himself up. At the side of the bed, Joseph knelt on the floor looking at the two, dumbfounded. “I think you might be an angel sent to save me.” Joe wrapped his thin arms around Dana and hugged her tighter than she would have thought possible.

“Pa? What…” Joseph trailed off, the pile of glass forgotten.

Joe reached out to his son and pulled him into the hug. “I’m finally whole again.”

Dana sat with the man at the corner of the street. The former soldier had been struggling, even more so than usual, with his trauma from the war. Ed Dillard had been well known in the community to quickly go from job to job, only to repeatedly return to living on the streets and surviving on the bottle.

He shivered as he sobbed, the bottle tossed into the street in a fit of rage. He shot the young woman a glare. She sat there, not reacting. Just a young know it all in his mind. The girl was only seventeen; she had no experience in what the world was really like. He examined her for a moment. She was small with an hourglass figure starting to look more like a woman’s body. Her long dishwater blonde hair hung loosely about her shoulders, as she sat in her blue floral dress, a cream sweater keeping her warm.

Ed looked away with a scoff.

Dana had been trying to find Ed for months, hearing about how his mind seemed to be broken from the struggles after the war. She remained a silent companion for a long and terrifying hour, watching the man fly into a rage and suddenly collapse on the sidewalk and weep like a lost child. She knew he would not hurt her, but she still felt fear as many others did as they quickly passed them by.

Ed let out a painful cough as he choked on his own saliva. Dana reached out and patted the man gently on the back. He lifted his head from his hands and looked at her with red-rimmed eyes. “What the hell do you want from me?” He asked accusingly.

Dana fought the urge to back away and kept her hand on his back. “I only want to help.”

The man made a rude noise and rubbed his snotty nose on his sleeve. “No one can help me.”

Dana moved her head to stay level with his and try to hold eye contact. Her dark blue eyes locking in on his red-rimmed hazel eyes. “Would you let me try?”

He sneered angrily. “What the hell can some little girl do for anyone?”

Dana was taken aback for a moment. She had not been called a little girl in a long time now. Although she supposed to this man, she seemed very much a child in comparison. “You won’t know unless you give me a chance.”

Ed sneered. “What are you going to do? Give me money? Food? A place to sleep? It doesn’t matter. I’ll just fuck it up, like I always do.”

Dana shook her head. “I hope it can be better than all that.” She gave the man a weak smile. “And the only one who can fuck this up is me, and I haven’t done so yet.”

Ed let out a hiccupping laugh and scratched his filthy red beard. “I don’t know whether to be relieved or worried.”

Dana shifted to face the man, her arms held up level with his head. “May I?”

Ed rubbed his hand over his chapped lips. “I suppose you can’t make me worse, right?”

Dana smiled genuinely at Ed. “See? Already looking up.” She reached out at let her fingers touch Ed’s temples.

Ed closed his hazel eyes and felt himself fall backward. At least it felt like he fell back. Instead of hitting the pavement, it was as though he fell into a shallow pool of warmth and calm. It was a strange feeling, but not unpleasant. It felt like falling into mother milk, or a sacred promise.

When his eyes opened, there was no sky above him, as expected for someone who fell onto their back. Instead, he saw a young woman standing at the end of a porch overlooking a dry patch of land. The fabric of her dress reached to her ankles and blew lightly in the breeze. A pale cream with yellow and pink flowers floating along the waves of cloth. Silky locks of rich brown hair curled neatly were teased in the cool fall air. He could see the woman cross her arms tight against the chill.

“Lilly?” Ed whispered.

The woman turned and gazed over her narrow shoulder, green eyes sparkled as she smiled brightly back at him. “Eddie, it’s good to see you.”

Ed stumbled as he tried to move forward on the porch. He felt a hand reach out and hold his elbow, saving him from falling to his knees.

“Easy, Ed. It’s a memory.”

He looked up and looked into the sapphire eyes of the strange girl from the streets. “What? What the hell is this?”

Dana held him securely, helping the man stay steady in this jarring moment. “The war was hard for you. Seeing friends die. The same guilt felt by you and all the other soldiers when the war was lost. But nothing hit you as hard as learning she died in childbirth while you were oceans away.”

Ed felt a wave of calm trying to wrap him tighter while the pain of the memory seemed to open anew. “Why? Why are you showing me this?” Ed demanded.

“She was all you had left. She was so proud of you. You know she couldn’t blame you for their death.”

Ed watched the girl’s eyes fill with tears, rolling down her pale face freely as she seemed to emanate pure and unconditional love that he only felt with Lilly. “I should have been there…”

Dana shook her head slowly. “It wouldn’t have changed their fate.”

Ed felt himself go slack and he fell into the girl’s arms. She gently held the man as they wept together.

“You never failed her, you were her hero. She left this world proud of you.” Dana put her hands on Ed’s scruffy face, making him look into her eyes. “Don’t let your guilt and sorrow kill the man she always knew you could be.”

Ed gasped hard and fell backward onto the cold sidewalk. Pedestrians had paused on their journeys to watch the strange spectacle. Ed let the tears fall without embarrassment as he sat himself up, feeling warm and new inside.

Ed jumped as a hand touched his back.

Dana gently stroked his back, tears still on her cheeks. “Hello, Ed. Welcome home.”

Ed looked around slowly, seeing the people around them murmur to each other. As he listened closely, he could hear the same word whispered over and over amongst the crowd as the realization set in. He turned and looked at the girl in awe. “You’re a Transcendent.”


More coming soon

Note this publication is NOT allowed to be post, copy/pasted anywhere else except here on Thoughts Of Everything and on my online home of VivicaWolf Writings ordinally posted here: https://www.vivicawolf.com/uncategorized/story-in-progress-part-2/. VivicaWolf writings is a works of Productions Of The Human Mind a creative media company.

Thank you for reading this post and don’t forget to sign up for a user account and leave a comment or if you really like what we do here and would like to support us click this link here to find out how and what if comes with: https://www.thoughtsofeverything.org/what-is-paid-access-and-how-to-get-it/ or if your using Brave Browser and have the Brave Rewards program on you can send us a tip as we are a registered publisher with the project. Now if you do so please contact us after words so you can get the supporter access.  Thank you. Have a safe week everyone

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Story in progress Part 1 “Crossing the Black Sea” By VivicaWolf

Hello everyone! So I’m going to post something I’ve been working on for a while. It really is a work in progress, but as I work on it and begin to edit it I will keep this updated as well. I hope to hear what you think.

Part 1

Crossing the Black Sea

All her life Dana had known war. She had been born during the first threats of a world war she knew nothing about. As she grew older, talks of war were commonplace in her home, her school, even on the streets. However, as a small child, even when you grow up with it all around you, war is a difficult thing to grasp. The only thing she knew was that it frightened everyone.

Life had been hard as she grew, living in a town that seemed to be under attack-or at least under the threat of attack- for years. Rolling blackouts, having to give rooms and food to foreign and hometown soldiers alike, having to scrounge for every scrap of food and clothing. As the war raged on, civilians suffered the most.

When Dana reached the age of five, strange men had arrived at their home in search of capable fighters. So far, her father had been able to avoid the fight. Travis Massie had been a healer in the town for nearly ten years. His talents had been the only thing keeping him from being drafted into war, however, there were always needs for more men, and the demand finally reached their town.

Dana remembers her mother, Mollie, pleading not to take her father. Dana stood in the kitchen and watched the scene from a distance, tears rolling down her round cheeks as her chin quivered. She struggled not to make a sound and kept making the softest whimpers going unheard by the adults. That was the last time she ever saw her father, and over time, his face would fade from memory, like the town she was born in.

Less than a year later, Dana found her mother at the kitchen table, her head on the folded arms, weeping. It would take her Mollie two days to gather the strength to tell Dana that her father had been killed trying to save a soldier who had been shot in the field. That he died a hero.

Over the next few years, the war would slowly move closer to the town, making it extremely dangerous to live in. Dana and her mother had evacuated, fleeing to the SvalvÍk coast as many others did to take the next ship across the Turbul Ocean to Awica. The war had not reached the cotenant yet and seemed a safe refuge to so many. When the ship finally came to take the refugees overseas, the mass of people had doubled.

On the ship, Dana and Mollie had been crowded in below deck with no fresh air or sunlight. The trip was long and terrifying. Dana was sick for the first few days, barely able to eat or even keep water down. After a week, she had become used to the way the ship swayed, but the dark cabin still felt unsafe and crowded.

Great leviathans would come recklessly close to the massive ship, rubbing their powerful bodies against the haul of the ship. Wood and metal would whine at the pressure, causing moments of terror for the whole of the ship. Some moments Dana would hear fearful whispers of submarines that could destroy the whole ship. She did not know what was more terrifying. The monsters of the seas or the manmade monsters hunting the innocent.

Dana had even glimpsed airplanes flying through a gray sky, at first believing them to be dragons. She had never seen one so close before. She was flabbergasted at the speed and ferocious roar of the engines as they passed the ship. They seemed to cut through the clouds like hot knives through butter. The blue painted metal was a brilliant contrast against a colorless world.

As the journey turned from days to weeks, passengers grew sick. They would always start with a cough that never stopped. It would grow worst as their throats grew raw and blood began to choke them. Bile and blood-filled buckets, as the coughing grew worse.  Refugees and sailors alike began to die, choking on their own blood, dehydrated and weak. Their bodies and belonging were then wrapped in pale sheets and dumped into the blackness of the Turbul Sea.

Dana would not fully understand how sick her mother was until she was past the point of being helped. Slowly she would stop eating, her skin grew hot to the touch, and yet she could never be warm enough. Her cough had stopped on the last night and her breath sounded gurgled. Her mother shivered violently for the whole night while Dana sat at her side, holding her hand. She woke to find her mother still and cold as a statue. That morning, Mollie was wrapped in her bedsheet, her belonging put into a brown woven sack and filled with heavy scraps of metal, and carried to the railing of the ship only to be thrown into the black ocean water.

Dana wept the rest of the voyage. She felt broken and alone and terrified that she would be in a strange land alone. With no one to care for her, she was likely to die alone. When she found herself on the shores of the strange new world, she was relieved that she spoke the same language, if not without a different accent with the soft bur of her homeland, SvalvÍk.

She arrived in the massive city of Wellingstone, which was thrown into turmoil. Abled-bodied men had been sent over the Turbul Sea to fight and die in a futile attempt to stop the spread of the Arcane Order’s forces. Within her first week, her struggles grew when she began to hear people talking about the people known as the Transcendents. She had only learned so much about these types of people from school. She knew them to be a special kind of people, born with special talents that made them different than other people. The most well-known being people with super strength and those who could live longer, but they were not the only kind.

As she listened to the people on the streets talk, she realized there had been a group of Transcendents fighting against The Arcane Order in an effort to try to end the war. The only problem was that The Arcane Order had their own Transcendents. The Arcane Order’s Transcendents had the advantage in the war, as the Order found ways to enhance the abilities of the ones they recruited. Dana listened in horror as she heard the panic in the voices of so many passing her by, the Transcendents who fought against the Arcane Order were all killed in a last resort effort to stop the war. The Arcane Order had won the war.

Over the next few months, soldiers would return home defeated, followed by The Arcane Order’s forces. The slow takeover of Awica would thus begin, throwing the surviving citizens further into chaos and an even deeper hell.

Dana sat alone on the cold street as the rain came down like a gentle trickle. She had been trying to find a warm place to hide, but hopelessness took the warmth from her heart and she finally sat down, leaning into a cold, damp brick wall as she watched strangers rush through the gray. She pulled her legs up to her chest to try to stay warm. Her jacket had grown tattered and offered little warmth anymore.

She looked at the holes in the pants she stole from a clothesline, belonging to a boy not much bigger than her, she figured. She abandoned all her clothes, all the pretty dresses her mother had made for her. She even managed to trade some belonging for food. Now, however, she had nothing left to trade.

Dana chewed at her cheek, feeling the scars inside her mouth from chewing hungrily in her sleep. Tasting blood, she remembered that she dreamed of food again. Not just food, she dreamed of being home in her little town, in the kitchen of her little house, listening to her mother hum a sweet tune as she baked a savory bread with sweet onions, spicy sausage, and creamy cheese into a beautiful loaf of bread. She would cut off a steaming slice for little Dana and spread creamy goat cheese on it, topping it off with a sweet berry jam.

Just remembering made Dana’s stomach hurt, from starvation and loss. While she wanted to cry, she did not have the strength to do so anymore. She realized that she would die in this street today. She had no room left to fight and only felt relief at the thought of not feeling hungry all the time. Not being afraid and lost in a strange land. Perhaps she would even join her mother and father again.

Dana closed her eyes and let her head rest in her cold, wet arms. She seemed so tired now. She was not sure when she actually slept for more than a few hours at a time. She felt herself begin to slip into darkness, and a soft voice stirred her.

“Oh, sweet child. What’re you doing in the rain?” The voice was soft, shaky, with a gentle masculine tone. 

Dana raised her head to see a dark-skinned elder looking at her, kneeling down on the wet sidewalk. His short hair was a dark gray, his eyebrows bushy and bunched in concern. Kind, round onyx eyes looked into her dark blue eyes. He used a cane carved from a dark wood in one hand, supporting himself as he got down to Dana’s level.

“Where’d be your parents, sweetheart?” The man asked, with a sad smile that sparked the warmth in Dana’s cold body.

She began to sob, throwing herself into the man without thinking. The man righted himself, hugging Dana tightly and laughing. “Oh, sweet child! You poor thing.” He gently moved her arms from around his neck and stood slowly with a chuckling groan. He put an arm around Dana and hugged her again, reaching to her head and stroking her dark blonde hair. He was so warm in his thick wool jacket, only slightly dampened by the rain.

The man gently took Dana’s chin to look at her. “You must be starved, all skin and bone, you are. Come with me, sweet child, I have soup ready at home.” The man held out a slightly arthritic hand to the strange little girl. Feeling no ill intent from the man, she took it and walked with him to a large brick building only four blocks away.

The door was a soft cream with a hazy glass window at the top. The building was only three stories, but it looked massive from where she stood. As they walked to the door, the old man searched the pocked inside his wool jacket and pulled out a brass key with a small chain on it; attached to it were a plain gold ring and another brass key with a heart-shaped top. He gave a bright smile to the little girl at his side. “This is home; we live on the second floor.”

Dana smiled weakly. “Thank you, sir.”

The man chuckled as he fumbled with the key in the door. “No need to be formal, sweetheart. You call me Papa Joe. What be your name, child?”

“My names Dana, sir.” She dipped her head respectfully.

Joe laughed. “Not from around here, are you sweet Danny?”

“N-no sir, I’m from across the sea.” With a thrill of fear, Dana looked back over her shoulder as though she might see the ocean at her back.

The door finally unlocked and swung open slightly. “Now, Danny, no more calling me sir. It’s Papa Joe. Now let’s get you dry and fed.” He waved her in and gently eased her up the stairs. When they reached the second floor, there was a tan wooden door. Joe used the second brass key with the heart-shaped top to open the door and waved the girl in.

“Thank you… Papa Joe.” Dana said shyly as she walked in.

The apartment was the size of a house. Far larger than it even looked from the outside. Dana gasped quietly and smiled at the warmth of the place. The walls were bright with colorful wallpaper and beautiful paintings and pictures of many people. She slowly walked through the first hall and into the live-in room. There was an old piano and radio against the far wall with so much space, and a couch and two lounge chairs on the opposite wall. When she walked through that room, she turned into a doorway that led to another hall, to her left was a massive kitchen with a huge table at the far end with a white lace cloth and a vase with dry flowers in it. To her right was another long hall with several closed doors.

From behind came Joe, shuffling in slippers with a light sweater on to replace the damp wool jacket. He stopped and looked confused as he looked into the kitchen. “Hm. I thought Abby would be in here.” He turned to the hall and began to shuffle down it. “Abby, darling, we have a guest.”

One of the doors opened abruptly. A young man stepped out, his face scrunched. Dana could feel a wave of sadness and frustration coming from the young man. “Papa. Where have you been?”

“Oh! Joseph, I was just at the store,”

The young man turned Joe around and steered him back to the kitchen. “Papa, let’s have a seat, ok?”

Joe smiled as he walked into the kitchen. “Your Ma’ was making soup. I went to get onions from the shop.”

As Joe took a seat into the wood chair, Joseph stopped and looked at the ragged little stranger in their house. His onyx eyes were just like Joe’s, but they held worry instead of kindness. “Pa? Did you bring home a stray?”

Joe nodded, looking pleased. “This here is Danny. Poor child was sleeping in the rain on the sidewalk.”

Joseph frowned and looked to his father. “Pa, you can’t just bring home strays, it’s hard enough as is…”

Joe held up a hand and gave his son a stern look. “Now, boy, this is my home and if I want to bring a half dead little stray into it, that’s my business. You expect me to leave that poor little girl to die out there like that knowing I can do something? Is that what I taught you, boy?”

Joseph frowned deeply and looked over at Dana with a look that made her shrink back. “No, Pa, but we barely have enough…”

Joe held up a hand to stop his son. “I’ve put my foot down. Now get your Ma’ in here and we can feed this poor girl.”

Joseph looked at his father sadly. “Pa… Mama…She died years ago, remember?”

Joe blinked and looked confused. He looked at the floor for a long moment quietly. Dana felt the house fill with sorrow, like a heavy mist. “Ah,” Joe nodded, frowning. “Yes, forgive me. I remember now.”

While Joe sat quietly at the table, Joseph looked at Dana for a moment. Dana could feel that he was not angry with her, he was just… sad. Joseph knelt down. “Would you like me to make you some food?”

Dana nodded slowly.

Joseph finally smiled, even though it was forced, it still made him look more handsome. “Have a seat. Danny? Right, I’ll take care of you.”

Dana sat beside Joe who still looked at the floor quietly. She felt his pain fully in her heart and wished with all her heart that she could make his pain go away.


More coming soon

Note this publication is NOT allowed to be post, copy/pasted anywhere else except here on Thoughts Of Everything and on my online home of VivicaWolf Writings ordinally posted here: https://www.vivicawolf.com/crossing-the-black-sea/story-in-progress/. VivicaWolf writings is a works of Productions Of The Human Mind a creative media company.

Thank you for reading this post and don’t forget to sign up for a user account and leave a comment or if you really like what we do here and would like to support us click this link here to find out how and what if comes with: https://www.thoughtsofeverything.org/what-is-paid-access-and-how-to-get-it/ or if your using Brave Browser and have the Brave Rewards program on you can send us a tip as we are a registered publisher with the project. Now if you do so please contact us after words so you can get the supporter access.  Thank you. Have a safe week everyone

 

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