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What is beauty, in the truest sense?
In its most basic form, it’s a combination of qualities that pleases the aesthetic senses that varies by individual. The qualities are irrelevant due to the case-by-case variance; no two creatures will enjoy the same things.
To me, it’s the rocky earth crumbling beneath my feet. The feeling of wind on my face. The mysteries behind the many species that inhabit Avand, and how their lives are lived out. The wonders of the universe. The warmth and welcoming feeling of love. I’ve seen a lot in the six-hundred years I’ve been alive, but for me, nothing comes as close as home.
Virion hardly considered himself a sentimental person, but even he couldn’t deny that Avand was beautiful. Within its natural flaws – like anything else – beauty could be found. Discovery, mistakes, learning, natural disasters… All of it brought a unique charm to the planet. Many passersby thought Virion spared nary a thought for the planet, but those who bothered to understand him knew how to read him in a different light. Virion wasn’t nearly as uncaring as they thought he was.
He thought the world was lovely, at its core.
In the serene hours before the sun rose, while everything below him was still quiet and unmoving, Virion felt at ease. The creations that he flew past were the very ones he was sworn to protect, whether he liked it or not. If he was in the mood, he would do just that. In his own way, he did; he just didn’t take the same actions as the other Demi-Gods. He chose to let the creatures of Avand suffer the consequences of the mistakes that were made; to reap what they sow. Lucky for him, he had Xyrnys and Khythos acting as the main guardians for the many species below; while they were busy playing babysitter, Virion would act a fool.
His attitude toward the ‘caretaker’ side of his job lead those to believe that he was a carefree fool; Virion and the other Demi-Gods knew otherwise. He held sincere feelings toward the creatures that adorned the planet – far too much for comfort – but he knew too much to let them know. He heard their unsaid words and saw their possible demise. He couldn’t bear to get too close to them and hear their pained cries as he outlived them; to have their haunted souls follow him for many years to come. It was worse if it was a life that he may have been able to save.
To preserve what was left of his sanity and composure, he made himself as annoying and carefree as possible. It kept others at a safe distance; if he presented an unwelcoming personality, no one would want to become close to him. Unless Xyrnys or Khythos needed his help, he preferred to remain on his own.
That’s what Virion told them, anyway.
Existing exhausted Khythos.
Not in the traditional sense, like humans. He didn’t need as much rest or food. Keeping the world at a neutral state, however, was exhausting. Virion did most of the fighting when necessary; Khythos preferred building defenses and using magic as an aid. It wasn’t as if he couldn’t fight. He just didn’t want to. Xyrnys’ tasks were strange; she defended Avand like he and Virion, but she also sought forbidden knowledge and defended timelines and the stars above. A knowing gleam always lit her eyes. Khythos was not jealous of this.
He had enough to worry about.
Khythos was forced to listen to the whispers of the souls that walked beside him; the souls that didn’t make it to their afterlife for one reason or another. He swallowed his agony as he tried to block out the screams of suffering souls passed by, blaming him because he couldn’t fix whatever was breaking them because he just didn’t know. The Soulstream was just so complex, and their Overseer let them do so little to fix things.
It was a wonder Khythos could keep himself upright, some days.
The Rhaeadran hardly wanted to complain, knowing what his companions had to deal with, yet he couldn’t stop himself. Giving him such a power and letting him do fuck all about it was torture, yet he knew Xyrnys and Virion were in the same waters.
Whoever decided that an Overseer could be created without emotions was just as sick as the Overseer themselves.
Being a Timekeeper was, no surprise, time-consuming.
Xyrnys found herself spending equal amounts of time between the Starbelt and Avand, never having enough time for either. Being a Starchild, having the power of Twilight, she found herself spinning in circles, unable to keep up. Their Overseer, Olotl, expected so much of her, yet never let her do what she needed to.
She stopped trying, instead doing what she wanted and what she should. Olotl be damned, the planet came first.
Khythos and Virion knew of her burden and did their best to shoulder it with her; for this, she was eternally grateful. Though there wasn’t much she could do to take the burden of their terrible powers away, she did her best to support them while they suffered.
Xyrnys knew that they all cared for the beings on the planet below. Avand was precious to them.
How much longer could they deal with Olotl?
A small sigh passed through the woman's lips as she could hear the birds singing outside her window. The woman slowly slipped out of the warmth of her bed as she made her way to the window. She drew the blinds up and saw the blue jay's sitting there chirping away. A smile passed over her lips as she reached a hand up and touched the glass softly. There were times she wished she could be out there with them. Taking flight without a care in the world. The woman knew better though, she had to take care of the plants around her.
She didn't know how much more she could take though. Always doing the same things and never meeting anyone new. She sighed as she dropped her hand from the window, and watched as the blue jay's took flight. The morning sunlight hitting the blondes face as she made her way to her closet. She opened the doors and peered inside as she started looking for something to wear. When she found what she wanted, she pulled it out of the closet and laid it on the bed. She could hear her younger brother starting to stir as well. It was time to make breakfast.
She made her way out of the room and towards the kitchen. That's when Malichai came around the corner with his stuffed bear, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. “Good morning Odette” the little boy said. Odette looked down at the child and smiled lightly as she opened her arms towards him. “Good morning to you Malichai” she said lightly as she hugged the child close to her chest. She stood and carried him into the kitchen. “What would you like for breakfast?” she asked as the pair went into the kitchen. Malachai yawned lightly laying his head on his sister's shoulder.
“Eggs and buttered toast?” he said. Odette broke out into a grin as she set the child into his chair. “Coming right up!” she said as she made her way around the kitchen making food for the boy. She opened the fridge and sighed lightly seeing they didn't have much of anything at the moment. She knew she would need to make her way into town after she dropped the child off with one of the neighbors for the day. “So after we eat I'm going to take you over to Mrs. Charlotte's so she can keep an eye on you while I go to town and try to find work” she said with a small sigh. She didn't want to leave the boy, and knew he didn't want her leaving either.
“When will daddy be coming back? I know he said he was going to go and find momma, but it's been ages since he left…” the child said in a small voice. Odette paused what she was doing and turned to the boy. She walked over and knelt down in front of him, taking his small hands into her own. “I don't know when daddy's coming back. So for the time being I need to do everything I can for you. I need to find work so I can make sure you are taken care of the way you need to be. I know it's hard, and I miss momma too…”
“But I need you to be strong Malachai. Everything will be okay I promise you” she could feel tears stinging her eyes as the child nodded lightly and looked away from her. Odette let out a sigh as she finished making them breakfast. She hated her father, and part of her wished he was dead. It would make their lives so much easier. She kept herself busy as she made breakfast, and then went to make sure Malachai got dressed. When they were both done, she took him to Mrs. Charlotte's and then made her way into town. Everything was falling apart around her, and she honestly didn't know what to do.
She wanted her father home and safe, but she knew that Malachai would be heart broken if he came back around, and then vanished again. She shoved those thoughts aside as she made her way to town, a basket on her arm. She had two things on her mind just then. Finding work, and making sure they had enough food to last for a couple more weeks.
Khythos hummed to himself as the world around him began to come to life. Humans and mages alike began their morning routines, seemingly without a care in the world. He envied their carefree nature – managing both the souls of the living and the dead was exhausting. He bore his duties well, however – he couldn’t imagine what it would be like if the world was left to wade in chaos.
A thought for another day, he decided.
Cloaking himself to remain unseen, he landed on the ground outside a nearby town. It was a nice, humble town with gorgeous undergrowth and foliage; Virion’s old mentor would’ve loved it. Khythos chuckled as a wisp of a soul darted by him – perhaps the old man’s soul was here, enjoying whoever managed the upkeep of such beautiful plants.
Even as a god of the sea, he was thoroughly impressed.
Khythos sauntered slowly through the town, the townsfolk passing by without notice. Only animals – or those with experienced magic – would be able to see through his cloaking. It would give him the opportunity to see how things were without incident.
Hopefully nothing was wrong. The world going awry was the last thing they needed right now.
As Odette walked through the town she heard the whispers around her. Everyone was surprised that she was in town. She couldn't blame them though. She was a sight for sore eyes sometimes. She made her way into one of the small shops and smiled at the shop keeper. “Good morning, Sirus. How are you this fine morning?" she asked lightly. The older gentleman looked up and smiled towards her. “Well if it isn't Odette Sanders. How are you doing my darling child? How's Malichai holding up these days?” he asked lightly as he stood and walked around the counter towards her.
“He's doing alright for the most part. We are just waiting for daddy to come back home. I hope it's soon. But I do have a question for you. Do you happen to have need for a hand around the shop? I don't mind how much the pay is. I just need something to keep me and my brother afloat” she said softly. The older male walked over and wrapped his arms around her, hugging her tightly. Odette welcomed the hug with ease. She adored this male so much. He was like another father figure to her. She just hoped he would have something.
“That's good to hear child. I'm sorry but I don't have anything at the moment. I think Rosetta might have something in the flower shop you can do. My shop's as dead as can be most days. It's just you keeping me afloat” he said with a small laugh. Odette nodded lightly as she stepped back. “I'll have to stop in once I'm done here then. Thank you, Sirus,” she said with a warm smile. The older man nodded lightly as he let her do her shopping. Odette ran her fingers lightly over the items in the shop.
What did she really need from here anyway? Then it dawned on her. She needed some medicine for Malachi and herself just in case something happened to them both and they fell ill. She finished in Sirus's shop and then walked back out the door and into the town square. The air fels slightly different when she stepped back out the door. She turned and waved to the older male and walked out. She ducked her head and walked into the middle of town, as the whispers started up once more. She rolled her eyes as she kept to herself.
Something was different and she couldn't quite put her finger on it.
There was a sad touch to the air, something within the souls that whispered to him that just felt off. What could it have been, Khythos wondered, the whisp of a ghost passing by his face. The passersby felt mostly the same, in the world of the living – getting by; not happy, not sad. This one soul felt different – a whisp of sadness amongst the neutrality.
It was just tipping the scale.
He continued to remain hidden as he wandered through the small town. Perhaps if he continued through this path, he would find the soul that intrigued him so much. Khythos would analyze it on the fly, and relay what he could to Virion when he could. Then, Khythos would seek out the soul again,
Khythos would have to. He would need to know why this sadness felt so raw. So painful.
Why Khythos had to feel it. Was it just the Soulkeeper's curse? Or was it a further burden; one Olotl had again failed to mention?
Odette brushed the odd feeling aside as she walked thorugh town. The whispers around her was making her heart break. Was it true? Did they find a body? Was it her father? She shook her head lightly as she took a breath and walked up to one of the towns people. “I'm sorry, but I couldn't help but overhear. Did you mention something about someone who lived in the forest finding a body?” she asked. The townsperson looked at Odette with sad eyes and nodded lightly. “Yes child, you heard right. There was a body in the forest that was found”
“No one knows who it is though. I'm pretty sure it's nothing you need to worry about” the older woman said in a soft voice. Odette knew better than that. She knew her father had been in the forest. He had gone to a couple towns over in search of work. He hasn't been back in almost two weeks now. Now hearing the whispers couldn't help but make her wonder. Was her father really dead? She hoped not. She thanked the older woman for the information and headed to Rosetta's flower shop. Once there she paused outside before entering the shop.
The smell of flowers hit her and she felt at home. “Rosetta? Are you here?” she called out. The sound of someone dropping a pot was heard from the back, along with a small curse. Rosetta made her way out of the back, wiping her hands on her apron. “Oh, it's you Odette. Hello. How are you darling?” she asked. Odette shrgged lightly. “I'm okay, just looking for some work. Do you have anything open? I'm trying to keep Malachi and I afloat while daddy's gone” she said softly. Rosetta nodded lightly as she walked around the counter her arms open.
Odette stepped into the woman's arms and hugged her tightly. “Of course I do. I'll have you start tomorrow though. Today's not a good day” she said warmly. Odette nodded lightly and thanked the woman. The two spent some time speaking about what Odette would be doing in the shop, and how much the pay would be. For now the whispers in town forgotten.
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