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Rhea Dreadwood by LynaKiovote
Rhea Dreadwood
The first digital piece I've done in a long time.

A member of the Shadow race, with a unique ability to fall into their shadows, Rhea Dreadwood has the magical ability to use her blood, or the blood of others, as a potent weapon. To show that she has a magical ability, her right eye is red, like blood, and her right eye is amber.
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Episode 8: the Sisters Reunited

27th of Matrinalis, 4:98 East

"Mimi, will you read me a story?" Milly asked, poking her head inside her older sister's bedroom. She was three years old now, curious about the world, and her first true memories were beginning to form. Milly saw Maya staring out her window, bonnet tossed aside. Her ears were shown blatantly, the first time Milly could see them and understand that they were different than her own. She rubbed her ears. Yes, they were small and round. "Mimi, why do your ears look weird?"

"Milly!" Maya exclaimed. She scrambled for her bonnet. Her sister was quiet for a long time. Maya was still too young to understand why she was different, only that she was and that she was hated for it. "Milly, you must learn to knock. It's rude to barge in on people." She stood. "Did you need something?"

"Will you read to me?" She asked.

"No, Milly. I can't. I'm sorry."

---

17th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

"It seems weird that Laura would hold a party just to celebrate my birthday," Christophe said as he dug through Emily's jewelry box. He was not ashamed to admit that they shared earrings. Once, a drunken man had insulted him in this way and Christophe began the largest bar fight in the pub's history; albeit accidentally and in a relatively new pub.

"It's called a name day in the north, Christophe." Emily said as she braided her hair. She looked in her mirror as she tried on each of her hats. "But she's doing it because she loves you!" The pirate queen teased as she threw a rejected hat onto her bed.

The quartermaster laughed shyly. "Come off it." He grabbed a feathered hat taken from a rival captain's corpse before it reached the nearby gimbaled candle.

"Well, maybe Jeremie has her convinced you're royalty or something."

"And why would he have her think that?"

Emily batted her eyelashes. "Because you're the king of my heart!" She mocked him openly and mercilessly.

"Stop it." Christophe said firmly as she cackled. The door opened, revealing Ulrich behind it. The quartermaster smiled at his captain before leaving with a few golden earrings.

"I'm sorry, I didn't realize you had company." Ulrich said as he closed the door behind Christophe. "I just wanted to catch you before the party started." He approached her cautiously. Emily noted that he looked tired, as if he hadn't slept. She put her admiral hat down and walked closer to him.

"Well, that was good planning. I'll probably be drunk when the party starts," she joked with ease. He smiled, and though it didn't seem forced, he was obviously uncomfortable. "Are you okay, Ulrich?"

He started to pace. "I can't stop thinking about you." He said, causing his face to turn pink in embarrassment. She was blushing too. She grabbed her braid and started stroking it. Then she dropped it, only to start unbraiding it as she began nervously stroking her hair once more. Ulrich was obviously conflicted, and she knew from his statement that she was part of it, but that had never ended well for her.

Emily thought back to the last man who couldn't stop thinking about her. He'd been a dwarf, and though exiled, he'd done well for himself. He sold high quality dwarven crafts, direct from... where was is? Orcasimiehr? No, she thought with a deep frown, that wasn't a real place. Omashu? No, that was in Zhounghuo. It started with an 'o'!

She realized that she was ignoring him now. But when she tuned back in, it seemed she'd only missed more pacing. She watched him for a while, her head turning to follow him. Suddenly he spoke, never breaking his stride. "I know this sounds weird, but I actually have been considering your request that I join your crew."

Emily couldn't speak for a while. "Oh! That's..." She paused. "Good. Have you decided yet?"

"No. But only because..." It was his turn again to be silent. Gods, she hated long silences! She'd never liked them. "Emily..." He took a few steps closer and took one of her hands. She blushed. "That's not why I'm here."

Her face was burning. Could he tell? His face looked pink too. She shifted her fingers, tangling them with his. "I see." She said as calmly as she could. Her voice wavered between the words. Why was she so nervous, she asked herself as she stood to meet his eyes on his level.

He laughed. "I've never done anything like this before." Ulrich took a step closer. They were so close now. Emily could feel her training kicking in. Not yet, she told herself. There was nervous laughter. "Can I kiss you?" He asked.

It was endearing in an awkward way. "Yes you can," she said, pulling him closer. They kissed for a long time, and it felt good. It had been a long time since Emily had kissed someone and it had felt good. She wondered now if she ever had. The kiss broke too soon, but Ulrich was smiling. They kissed again, more passionately. Emily wrapped her arms around him. After the second kiss broke, he wasn't smiling anymore. "What's wrong?" She asked.

"I'm sorry. There's no way I can do this and not be the asshole." Ulrich said. The conflict was back, and so was that feeling in her. It was that feeling of unimportance. That feeling of dread when a favored client went back home to his family. Knowing that what he was doing was better for him, but wanting more and being unable to voice it. She took a pained step backwards, letting her hands fall back to her side.

"It's Yumi, isn't it?" She asked. He seemed startled that she knew. "No, I understand. There's history, she's the one, you need her..."

"No, it isn't... like that." Ulrich said. "Please, don't think that you're... Don't think you aren't important to me, or that you're my second choice because it isn't like that."

"You don't have to explain anything to me, Ulrich. I understand." She said, walking away from him. She ran her fingers through her dark hair. Out of the corner of her eye she saw him move towards her before retracting the motion, so she stopped.

He sighed. "No, you deserve better than me just leaving." The Mercenary sat down on the trunk at the end of her bed. "When Yumi and I... decided not to be a couple, it ended on a tense note. And not a definite one. I feel like I'm moving on and if Dhaune were still alive then I don't think I'd be so fucking conflicted."

"But she's dead and now..." Emily began.

"Now she's dead and I need to... I need to see." He said. "I need to know that if we start this it isn't because I want you to replace her, or because she is unavailable." Emily wasn't expecting that, and Ulrich obviously knew it. "You deserve someone who will give their undivided attention to you. I want a chance... to see."

Emily didn't seem happy. He couldn't blame her, because there were a lot of circumstances stacked against her. "Just promise me that if you and Yumi end up together... you'll still consider joining my crew. I still need you."

He smiled at her. "Anything for you, captain." The smile vanished. He was still sitting on her bed, his hands limply between his knees. The Mercenary seemed so sad, like his loyalties were torn. He likely hadn't spoken to anyone about this. She looked at her reflection in the mirror. Someone was going to leave this arrangement broken hearted. And quietly, her heart full of shame, she for the first time hoped it wasn't her.

---

During the party Ulrich stood patiently by the wall, waiting for Yumi to enter the ballroom. He shot Aelita and Odd encouraging smiles in the meantime, and the Scout responded with two thumbs up.

He looked at the Colonist when she finally entered with her brother. She wore a flowery yukata, while Hiroki wore a white burial kimono. Yumi glared at her younger brother and guided him away from the entranceway with a subtle harshness that was uncharacteristic. She spotted Ulrich, who smiled at her before pointing at her brother. She pulled Hiroki as she walked over to the mercenary. "He's wearing a burial kimono because he thinks that it's funny since we're technically dead." Yumi sighed. She focused on her brother. "And he's wrong!" She shouted at him.

"In his defense, it's a little funny." Ulrich shrugged. She frowned at him.

Her frown grew from disapproving to concerned. "You look troubled." Hiroki saw that his sister's attention was entirely focused on Ulrich now and decided to make his getaway, disappearing into the guests when Ulrich started talking.

"I am. About a lot of things." He sighed. "I... haven't slept since Laura and I walked through the Eluvian. I feel like I'm being powered by... something otherworldly." The Mercenary sighed. "Last night I saw that girl from the ball, Amelia, spying on Aelita and Jeremie. I think she might be working with the woman who attacked Laura and Aelita in the tavern."

"But we don't know who that woman is!" Yumi exclaimed. "And none of the guards reported anything unusual last night... Laura would have told us!"

"Don't you think I know that?!" He snapped, startling her. "But she didn't seem real. I attacked her, managed to cut her, even. But--"

"You attacked a fourteen-year-old girl?!" Yumi shouted. The nearby guests all stared at them, judging looks from drunken eyes. "Let's go someplace a bit more private, shall we?" The Colonist suggested firmly.

They walked together in silence until they reached a small sitting room. Yumi sat down on the ottoman, and dust floated up. No one had used this room in a long time. Ulrich looked at the collection of scrolls on the shelves. "Whatever Amelia did, she was able to get in and out without attracting attention. She acted like I wasn't supposed to be able to see her, too..." He said.

"Maybe... a cursed relic like the Masque?" She suggested. She looked to her pale, clawed hands. "Maybe that granted her teleportation and invisibility?"

"She wasn't wearing one that I could see." Ulrich pulled a book of the shelf. It was titled 'Maria the Bloodied, Last Queen of Elvhenan'. A real Elvhen Queen, yes, but this was very clearly a propaganda piece. Her armor was impractical for front line fighting as the copious amount of blood on her suggested. In one hand, she held a sword that, honestly, should have been held with two hands, and in the other was a cracked mirror. Her mouth had been sewn shut. "Maybe it was magic."

"Maybe, but if what you're telling me is true, then you shouldn't have been able to see her. She would have been forcing her avatar into the physical world, invisible to all but mages." There was a long period of silence as the Mercenary considered telling her of the glass stuck in his skin. She stood and moved closer to him.

They exchanged a few words. Meaningless things to fill the void. Subtle hints. Suddenly, Ulrich asked to kiss her. It was a quick awkward request to which she agreed. The kiss, too, was short and awkward. He pulled away before she could. "Dammit!" He cursed as he started to storm out of the room.

"What?" Yumi asked the air. She turned and chased after him. "Ulrich, wait! What's wrong?"
"There's nothing..." He started. "I don't..." There were no words. No amount of apologies that made his inadequate words any less crushing. "It's been so long and I think... I think I'm moving on... over you. And there's nothing... right about that, everything is weird, and... I'm really sorry." Yet he found it hard to break himself from her eyes.

Yumi looked like she was about to get angry when her face changed to shock. "Come on. Someone just said the name Maya." This was enough to snap Ulrich out of his self-pitying state.

---

Aelita stood near Emily, who explained to her what Ulrich had said. Then the captain waited, as if searching the Outcast for advice. Normally Aelita would talk about how she just wanted her friends to be happy, but if Ulrich and Emily started dating, then Yumi would be sad. The opposite was also true. So she stood there silently, a permanent and awkward grimace on her face. Emily frowned deeply before drinking more wine.

"I'm sorry," Aelita muttered, unable to meet her friend's eyes. She glanced around and then excused herself to join up with Odd. The Scout swished his wine in his goblet around sadly. "Not having fun?" She asked.

"I worry what will happen if I drink. Will I lose control again?" He asked. Looking wistfully at the wine, he sighed and put it down. "Where's lover boy?"

"Laura needed him to search the room for assassins. He promised he'd be back soon." Aelita said. The two spotted Ulrich across the room. They smiled at him. "Worried about the wolf?"

"I've beaten it into a bloody pulp every night in my dreams. I wake up too tired to move." He whined. "And I still feel it controlling me!"
"Have you spoken to Patrick? Isn't he coming into the city?" She asked as her boyfriend joined them.

"No. I want control of the wolf. I've controlled it before and I know I can do it again." He said with a smile. "It won't be easy but I'm up for anything!"

Jeremie entered the conversation at this point. "I think that admitting you have complex emotions, not just primal, might be the first step. The wolf only lets you express joy and anger, correct? But there's fear and sadness, too." He smiled, as if to make his suggestion seem less invasive, "and since Patrick seems to have a way of bringing out your emotions, it isn't such a bad idea to speak with him again."

The Scout blinked. "How did you...?"

"I know everything," Jeremie joked as Laura and William joined them.

"It's annoying, isn't it?" Laura said with a smile. The group laughed. "Has anyone seen Ulrich and Yumi?"

"They went into some old library. Who knows?" William shrugged. All four Heroes looked at Jeremie. He blushed.

"It's about their relationship." He said. "They're angry." This quieted the group, leaving them tense, still and silent. Odd, to break it, offered a joke, and it went over rather well. They all laughed.

"Maya!" A voice shouted suddenly from across the room.

Aelita's face twisted in confusion. She looked around before spotting a young human girl with strawberry-colored hair standing next to Tamiya. Aelita's eyes widened. "Milly?" She asked.

The world grew sharper, like every corner was a knife. Her chest grew tight and her breaths grew closer. Her thoughts didn't quite piece together cohesively.

"Maya, I've been lokinog for you for yares!" Milly said.

"What?" She asked, quietly.

"Oh, don't worry!" Milly said. "The Eluvian sowehd me what you went through! I uanndrestd!"
"I don't..." She shook her head.

Jeremie put his hand on her shoulder and she stared at it. "Laura, William, get Odd out of here." He ordered. They obliged, and when they passed through her field of vision, they looked like strange blobs. "Alitea, are you oaky? Do you need to sit dwon? Sluhod I hvae Mlily ecrosetd out of the blroalom?"

She grew more distressed with each word. "I can't..."

Milly caught her arm. Her touch felt like sludge caked on her arm. "I konw you uesd to be a savle! I konw aoubt the pian and sfufrineg you wnet tuorghh!"

She yanked her arm away. "Stay back! Don't touch me!"

"Maya peasle! Hlep me hlep you! I need you, Maya!"

I need you, Maya. I need you, Maya. I need you, Maya.

The words didn't make sense. She went over them. Over and over, a hundred times in a second. No. No no no! This couldn't be happening, she thought as her braids rested on her chest, as she shrank down.

Milly was clearer now, young with dirt on her feet. Hair wet from Auntie Carra's pond. She wasn't supposed to go there, not since Roderick died. 'I need you, Maya.'

She was even younger now. Boys had been bullying her so she threw stones at them. A good shot for only being five. 'I need you, Maya.'

Younger again. Just learning to speak now. Nightmares and loneliness creep in near midnight. She can't sleep alone. 'I need you, Maya.'

Jeremie's voice breaks silence. "Alitea, you look vrey plae. Do you need to sit dwon?" She stared at him. Unable to speak, she ran. "Aelita!" He shouted after her.

---

Ulrich spotted Milly as Aelita ran. Yumi watched him run towards her, and she saw Emily run towards him. Milly went to chase after Aelita but was cut off by the two. Ulrich took three steps forward before he was close enough to lift her up by her collar. His face warped like it had during the night. "You shouldn't be here, Amelia." He said sternly.

Her tunic ripped, and she fell to the floor. Jeremie stuck his arm out to keep Ulrich from chasing her as she scurried behind Tamiya for protection. The Wise Man motioned for Yumi to chase Aelita.

Emily reached into her shirt and revealed the two daggers she had stored there. She moved around Jeremie, much to his chagrin. "Hello, naughty children."

"Emily, don't hurt them. They're just kids!" Jeremie ordered.

"Oh, but I came dressed to kill!" Emily joked as she looked from the Wise Man back to the two young girls.

Tamiya took a few steps back, Milly still cowering behind her. "When I count to three, you throw open a portal," Tamiya whispered.

"I don't know how to do that!" Milly panicked.

Tamiya concentrated and took more steps back. "One..." She lifted Milly onto her back. "Two..." She shapeshifted into a saber toothed cheetah, a predator native to the South. "Three!" She growled with her last elven breath. Milly threw forward one of her hands, creating a circular mirror that reflected nothing. Tamiya jumped through it, and the mirror disappeared.

"Dammit!" Ulrich shouted. He tried to run, but Jeremie caught his finery. The Mercenary flashed his mirror shard face at him, but the Wise Man stood firm, his eyes glowing blue. "Emily, go!" He shouted.

The pirate queen dashed for the hallway, but just as she passed Jeremie, he caught her clothes. Emily tried to fight him, but like Ulrich, eventually gave up. She looked at her potential love interest and asked, "Do you like dark humor?"

"Only in the form of knock-knock jokes."

---

Tamiya took her mortal form again, breathing heavily. She fell to her knees, and Milly stood, checking to see if the elven girl was alright. Tamiya looked over her shoulders. "I don't think we were followed, but I think the vampire is ahead of us."

"I don't get it. Why would Maya run from me?" Milly wondered.

The elf frowned deeply. "Maybe, for one thing, you keep calling her Maya!"

"But that's her name, what else would--"

"AELITA!" Tamiya shouted. "Literally everyone calls her that except for you! And let's not forget that the lives of changelings are almost always shit!"

Now Milly frowned. "I didn't contribute to that! Not intentionally! I'm younger than her!"

"You are literally a walking reminder of every shitty thing your hometown ever did to her! You were the youngest, the baby, the favored child! You got all the love while she was regarded a murderer--a baby, with no whim other than necessity, had killed the true Maya in their eyes!" It sounded personal.

"Tamiya... You sound offended."

The anger in her eyes was fading. "We all have our challenges." She said as she wiped her eye. Milly realized that Tamiya, too, had been a changeling... But, she thought with a pout, that didn't explain why she needed to see her sister. "We should hurry. Edna says that Aelita isn't mentally stable."

"Are you calling my sister crazy?" Milly demanded.

"She's not really your sister!" Tamiya pointed out, "And I'm only repeating what I've heard."

---

Tathas was finding it hard to stand up and she didn't really know how she felt anymore. It was like fear, anger and sadness existed as a strange miasma, and she was never truly in it but only around it. What's worse, she couldn't really remember who she was.

Maya fell to her knees, ripping the tights she wore under her finery. Her skin was left unscathed, however. She pulled herself up only to fall again before reaching the next flight of stairs. Her legs felt like noodles attached to a heavy piece of fruit for feet. What had happened to her shoes?

Aelita finally managed to reach the top of the tower, surprising the guards. They considered telling her to leave, but Empress Laura had told them never to bother her. Especially not, they figured, when she looked like she was ready to either burst out into a fit of anger or tears.
She fell again, sobbing into hands that felt too rough, two volcanic rocks hiding bones too brittle to withstand it.

Why was Milly here, she wondered? Why had meeting her baby sister--if she'd been speaking, that word would have caught in her throat--bringing out such a destructive reaction, when Tyron had caused only fear? And then it dawned on her.

No one had ever made Aelita feel so isolated as Milly. Tyron and Eleanor hated her, and truth be told she'd hated them too, but Milly loved her. However, she was all too aware that they were completely different. A thousand probing questions, hundreds of hours spent being interrogated, diagrammed and analyzed. Maya knew Milly loved her in her heart of hearts, but more often than not, she felt like she was viewed like fodder for a story instead of family.

"Aelita!" Yumi called out. Was that the name she was using? She couldn't remember. The Colonist grabbed the Outcast's shoulders, and she looked over her. She then hugged the elven girl, cold skin but motherly love. Aelita was confused at first but eventually hugged Yumi, too. "Are you okay?"

"I don't know... I don't even feel real right now, I don't have the capacity to know what 'okay' is." She said, breaking the hug to rub the goosebumps from her arms.

"You can't keep running away. You're scaring us. We're worried." Yumi said.

"Running is all I've ever known." Aelita murmured. This made the vampire groan deeply.
They both turned when Milly and Tamiya entered the room. "Ma-Aelita!" Milly called out. "Please, don't run away again!"

"Milly, you shouldn't be here!" Tathas said firmly. Was that her name? She couldn't even remember what Yumi had called her not two minutes earlier.

"No! I'm not leaving!" She protested. "I've spent too long trying to find you to give up now! Not when I've seen you!"

"I... I can't deal with you right now, Amelia."

"You don't have to deal, you just have to listen." Milly took five steps forward. It was too close; Maya took three steps back. She was pressed against the wall, her breathing still uneasy. "I'm sorry for what you went through. I didn't know you'd been captured by slavers, or I would have tried to find you sooner."

"Why? To drag me back to Falcon's Bridge, so I could rot in the Oubliette?"

"No!" Milly said, shaking her head and hands. "To set you free! So we could be together!"

"I freed myself! I don't need your help!"

"I know! That's why I want to be with you!" Amelia took another step forward. Aelita's hand slid against the wall towards the opening. Her fingers were twitching.

"Stay back!" She shouted.

The young girl seemed sad but obliged. "Why can't you see that I just want to be with you?" She asked.

"It doesn't matter." Yumi stepped in, taking Aelita's hand and rubbing the fingers until they stopped twitching.

Tamiya pushed Milly aside. "Aelita, I lied when I gave you your staff. I stole it from Edna, but she thinks you broke your word. She's coming for it, and you."

"What? Why?" The Colonist asked.

"The punishment for breaking a promise under vir sulevanan is typically exile from the clan, but since Aelita has been exiled already..." Tamiya explained. Yumi groaned again, loudly and obviously annoyed.

"As if we needed a new enemy. Now we have two back-from-the-dead Elvhen women after us." Yumi held her face in her hand. She heard Milly yelp, and then saw Aelita transform into a swarm of butterflies before flying through the small window. Milly ran for the larger one near her and put her years of travel to good use scaling the walls. The vampire ran to the window to try to stop Milly, but she screeched when sunlight touched her face. "Dammit!" Yumi yelled at her friend, "Aelita! Get off the roof!"

"Why don't you try to make me!"

"How old are you?!" The Colonist screamed.


Out of everything she was aware of, she knew exactly where the roof ended. And she knew that Milly would follow her, and if she was lucky, a few deft moves and her sister would back off, hopefully forever. But as she looked down, memories flooded back. She was filled with longing, and with terror.

"Ma... Aelita, please. Listen to me." Milly begged. She turned. The young human girl had been too afraid to risk coming close, so she was a meter and a half away. Too close for comfort, but an acceptable distance, she supposed. Aelita held her arms and rubbed them, less for warmth than comfort. "I know what you've been through. Or, at least, I know where you've been. I... I know that our parents... my parents treated you terribly. But please, tell me what I did wrong so I never do it again. So we can start over."

"Milly..." She said. "It... it isn't that simple."

"Please!" Milly was weakening. She could have sworn a crack appeared in the world. She looked at the tear in the Veil in the distance, swirling ominously and raising the dead all over the country. Maybe it was a trick of her mind. "Please. I love you."

Tears welled up in her eyes. "Sometimes... sometimes love isn't enough, Amelia."

Her younger sister seemed shocked by the words, as if she had never considered that Maya would reject her in such a way. The running and the hiding she had expected after peering through the Eluvian, but this? Milly started to cry. "No! Please! Just tell me..." It was pointless but she had to know. "Tell me what I did wrong."

"There was nothing you could have done." She said, her voice low and whispy. She closed her eyes. "Because nothing that happened was your fault. But I see you and I can't help but think of my misery... And I want to forget it. Creator, do I want to forget." She sank slowly to her knees. "I don't know how to feel when I see you. Sad, happy, angry? Maybe this is... regret that I feel?"

"Regret?" Milly asked.

"Lowell and Eleanor focused their abuses on me... I had no way of knowing that it wouldn't shift to you. I worried you would be in my place, battered, beaten and broken. That night... I considered turning around, going home and saving you from them too. But I left without you." She, too, now cried. "I'm such a coward! I can't do anything but run! Where would we be if I had taken you with me? Why didn't I go back?!"

And for a long time, Aelita cried. It was like everything about her life flooded to the surface, and something prompted Milly to look beyond the physical world. Connecting to Aelita were thick chains that went up and disappeared into the sky. All except for one, which connected to Milly's heart.

When the Mari'linen touched the chain connected to her, nothing changed. She mentally touched another chain, however, and it pushed against her. She physically stumbled back, falling down onto her back. She struggled to sit up. When she looked again, a demon hovered before Aelita, beckoning her closer. The Outcast took a step closer. "No!" Milly shouted, grabbing the chain connected to her and pulling as hard as she could. It affected the physical world; Aelita was yanked backwards and the chain shattered.

Milly crawled over to her, and she hugged her. She was still crying, but she was slowly starting to calm down. "Let's say you and I go back to the party?" She said, making her voice as gentle as she could. She nodded, and the two sisters started to climb back down. Milly looked at where the demon had hovered. It was gone.

---

Ulrich seemed shocked when Aelita and Milly returned together. Aelita was still a little shaken but obviously in a better place. Jeremie finally released the two overly violent teens in his hands, and Emily fixed her outfit before smiling at Aelita. "Why is she smiling at us? Didn't she want to kill us?" Tamiya whispered.

"Kill you?" Aelita exclaimed. "No, that isn't her style."

Jeremie hugged the Outcast, and she buried her head into his neck. "Are you alright?" He asked.

"A little shaken. I'll be fine." She said. She thought back to what Tamiya said, and by the look on Jeremie's face, he'd heard her worries. "Where's Laura?" She asked, removing Samahlin from her neck. Jeremie pointed her out, and Aelita walked up to her.

"How is it that every party we have or attend turns into a total disaster?" Laura joked. Aelita smirked, which seemed to be enough for the Fair. She asked for Laura to hold out her hand and the Fair nearly dropped it when she saw what it was. "Minerva's mercy! Don't give this to me!"

"Edna is coming after me to get it. That won't end well. I don't know why she wants it but she can't get her hands on it." Aelita said firmly. Laura hesitated, but nodded.

"Well, we should get back to the party. Let's hope these pirates aren't too weirded out to dance, hmm?" The Empress smirked.

"Apologize to Jeremie for me, will you? I want to sing something for Milly." She twiddled her fingers as she said, "It was her favorite song when she was little."

"It isn't the one about farm animals, is it?" Hatred and annoyance seemed obvious from her tone.

"What? No." Aelita rolled her eyes and, somewhat awkwardly, walked over to where the band was playing. She spoke to them quietly, and they began to play as quietly as they could as to not overpower her voice.

She seemed nervous. It had been her first time performing in front others in years. She closed her eyes, focusing on why she was doing it. She opened her mouth and started to sing.

"I hear your voice on the wind.
And I hear you call out my name.
Listen my child you say to me.
I am the voice of your history.
Be not afraid, come follow me.
Answer my call and I'll set you
Free!
"

Normally, William would have offered to dance with Laura, as it was their inside joke that they share all of their first dances with each other. But he was, quite literally, sitting on Odd to make sure he didn't accidentally attack Milly. Jeremie had found a chair to sit in almost as soon as Laura told him Aelita wanted to sing before they danced. He was clearly pleased with that development. Emily nudged Christophe forward before Ulrich asked her out onto the dance floor.

Christophe nervously asked Laura for the first dance, to which she obliged. Hiroki, having spotted Milly, considered asking her to dance, as did Tamiya, but Milly ignored both of them when she realized it was her favorite song. Yumi rubbed her little brother's head. "Next time, champ."

"I am the voice in the wind and the pouring rain.
I am the voice of your hunger and pain.
I am the voice that always is calling you.
I am the voice, I will remain!


Jeremie was enjoying the song. It was so easy to forget how much Aelita loved music, and yet, suddenly, Vigilance grew more active, and he listened closer.

"I am voice in the fields when the summer's gone.
The dance of the leaves when the autumn winds blow.
Never do I sleep throughout all the cold winter long.
I am the force that in springtime will grow!
"

There was a musical break, and Jeremie wondered why Vigilance wanted him to hear those lyrics. They seemed exactly like the kind of poetry one typically found in old elven songs, but this wasn't one. It was a song Maya sang to Milly when they were children; had Aelita created it, or was it prophecy?

"I am the voice of the past that will always be
Filled with my sorrow and blood in my fields
I am the voice of the future, bring me your peace.
Bring me your peace, and my wounds, they will heal!
"I am the voice of the wind and the pouring rain.
I am the voice of your hunger and pain.
I am the voice that always is calling you.
I am the voice!
"I am the voice of the past that will always be.
I am the voice of your hunger and pain.
I am the voice of the future.
I am the voice!
"

The music took over for a while, getting louder until it eventually stopped rather dramatically. Aelita moved out of the way so the band could resume, and Milly hugged her. "I missed you." The Mari'linen whispered.

"I missed you, too."

---

19th of Eluviesta

Odd pushed open the door to the magistrate outpost. He looked around. It was dirty, but plain-clothes magistrates were working on cleaning it. There was a black haired man sitting behind a marble desk. He was reading a book, though he seemed almost disinterested in its contents. "Uh... can I ask you a question?"

"Dunno. Can you?" He asked. He looked up from his book, but only slightly.

"Has Patrick Belpois arrived yet?" The Scout asked, rubbing his arm.

"Dunno. You'd have to ask the person in charge of registration."

"Where can I find the person in charge of registration?"

"Dunno."

Odd groaned loudly. "Is there anything you do know?" He complained as the door opened behind him.

The man half-heartedly motioned to a woman with blonde hair who had opened the door. "I know that's her." Odd looked at the woman, who was about his age, and she waved for him to follow her.

"Sorry about Jean. He's new and not quite so helpful. Knows the battles but not the wars, you know?" She laughed, opened a door and then propped it so it would stay that way. She and Odd both sat in large, comfortable chairs. "Now, what brings you to me?"

"I just wanted to know if Patrick Belpois has arrived. I wanted his help."

"Let me check my books." The woman pulled out a large book bound in leather and turned to a page marked by a velvet ribbon. "No, not yet. Sorry." She closed it and smiled. "Why did you need his help specifically?"

"Well, he's helped me out before with things that are too... delicate for most people." Odd said.

"No need to be coy." She said, standing. She closed the door and then sat back down. "Maybe I can help you."

"I'd prefer to wait for Patrick..." Odd started. The woman frowned. She seemed honestly upset. "I suppose it couldn't hurt to speak a little. Just so you could relay a proper message to him when he gets here."

"No, I suppose not." She pulled out a quill and a piece of parchment with many, tiny notes on it, but room for many more. This was likely as close to the action as she usually got, he assumed. "What do you want me to tell him?"

"Just that... I need his help with a personal matter that grows more urgent. Aelita's sister is apparently back? I haven't met her, actually--don't write that part down!" She didn't. "Then just tell him it's from Odd, and to meet me by... I don't know. The tree on the corner of Charger's Passage and Barrow Close."

"...Barrow Close and... done!"

He stood with a smile. "Thanks for doing this..." He paused.

She stuck out her hand for him to shake it. "Eva."
It has come to my attention that Seasons of War's first seven chapters have been reposted on Wattpad. Please, don't read it there. Firstly, you're missing out on 46 other chapters of adventure. Secondly, I was not asked about this, and did not approve it.

These are the websites where you can read the story where I uploaded it:
FanFiction: www.fanfiction.net/s/9624088/1…
DeviantArt: Seasons of War Episode 1-It Begins
Archive of Our Own: archiveofourown.org/works/1162…

I'd also ask that you report the story. It is, again, there without my permission.
  • Mood: Disbelief
Episode 7: the Mirrored Princess

16th of Eluviesta

It was nearly an hour to midnight when Milly finished drawing her glyph. She placed her catalyst stone in the center, and she began to meditate. Slowly, she entered the Ethereal Ghost stage of her ritual. It was a nonmagical technique that required intense focus and would partially send her consciousness into the Beyond. Most of her awareness, however, remained in the mortal realm, and she was able to project her mind across a wide area. She'd honed it over the years, and her dedication to the practice allowed her to move so far away as the gates to Arlathan. But the farthest she needed to go tonight was the palace.

Milly opened her eyes. Her body looked strange in this form, her hair a wild curly mess that connected back to the catalyst stone. Her eyes glowed ever so faintly with a fire behind the hazel. She willed her body, or what constituted it, out of the glyph.

The runaway phased through the window and looked at Capital Lyoko at night. It was truly serene. But she was on a mission. Milly floated towards the castle. She ignored drunken brutes wandering home through alleyways; they could not see her and this form was incapable of manipulating the physical world.

Milly found her way into the castle and started at the very bottom-the dungeons. She highly doubted Maya was capable of such evil that the Empress herself would detain her, but she was an elf, and the Gauthier reign had been hard on the Elvhen. The runaway found no trace of her sister but did discover a mirror twice her size with no reflection. The mirror called out to her, begged her forward.

It was distressing. The mirror was speaking without a voice, without words even. The feeling was foreign, like a primal urge. It drew her closer, and yet... The words were not sinister. Not the ramblings of a trapped demon. Milly had been trained to sense them in this form, as her body lay empty and open to malicious spirits.

It was the mirror's own voice speaking to her. But she left it, afraid of its meaning.

Milly searched every room until she found a couple sleeping soundly. At first she thought nothing of it. 'Just a married couple,' she thought until a pink fluff appeared. The runaway floated in for a better view.

She nearly started crying when she recognized her. Maya was older, thinner, and obviously more experienced. Her hair was short and messy and presumably very soft. Milly reached out, and for a moment, it felt real. In fact, Maya even woke up.

Though, "woke up" might have been putting it gently. Maya shot up and started panting heavily, as if she'd been woken from a nightmare. She looked right at Milly, and for a moment the younger sister's heart felt like it stopped beating. Then she remembered that she was invisible and it sank.

Maya looked back at the man Milly assumed was her husband. She kissed him and snuggled close to him before falling back asleep. He hadn't even stirred, but judging by how silly his sleeping face looked, he had probably had a long night.

Milly sighed. At least she knew where Maya was. She looked up when the door opened to see the man that she had danced with several months ago. Yet he looked different.

He watched the couple for a moment before he looked up at the window. For a moment Milly stared at him before looking out the window herself. There was nothing abnormal outside. She looked back and saw that he was still staring. "What are you doing, you creep?" She mumbled.

"I'm the creep?" He asked, offended.

"Yes, you're the creep. You just barge into-okay, I guess I'm a creep too." Milly sighed. It took her a moment to realize he'd responded to a statement he shouldn't have heard. She froze in place.

The man's body and face changed. The whites of his eyes became blood red, and glass shards appeared all over him. He was bloodied, bruised and ready to attack as he drew a sword. In an ominous voice he said, "You aren't supposed to be in here, Amelia." He lunged at her, but she didn't move. He couldn't hurt her.

His blade glanced her cheek, and surprisingly, it filled with pain. Her hand grabbed her face and she looked at her palm, which was covered in blood. Milly was so shocked that he'd cut her that she fled back to her body almost instantaneously.

Her spirit returned with such force that she was knocked back a few feet. She jumped up and rushed for a mirror. The cut wasn't visible but the pain lingered. Milly began to hyperventilate, wondering why he's been able to see her, let alone attack her.

She thought back to the mirror. Why had it called her name?

It didn't matter. She had found Maya, and that was the purpose of her mission.


---


17th of Eluviesta

Milly marched up to the castle gates and took a deep breath. She had prepared herself all morning. The guard, a woman about forty, her salt and pepper hair styled more nicely than a guard's hair should have been, stopped her. This was expected. "Let me pass. I must speak with Maya Tyron."

"There is no one here by that name." The guard said. "Besides, the Empress is preparing to host a small, private party. She is seeing no one who isn't on her guest list."

"What is it with the Gauthier line and parties?" Milly asked. "Doesn't the Empress know there's a war going on?"

The guard became angry. "Listen, pipsqueak. The Empress is more aware than anyone in this damn country the stakes of this war. So you'll forgive her if she throws a small party to celebrate the name day of an important ally. She has done more for the war effort in her short reign than the King could have done in ten." She muttered something else that Milly didn't quite catch. "You will respect the crown or I'll haul you into the dungeon myself."

Milly at first refused to move, but the guard threatened to poke her with the spear she carried, and she was forced to walk away and reconsider her entry plan.

As she walked along the castle wall the young runaway considered scaling it, but then considered the mirror. She had no way of accessing it, but she wanted to see it up close and in person, which meant she needed a way inside the dungeon. The guard's threat suddenly looked less intimidating and she stopped.

Just as she was considering walking back and actually letting the guard arrest her, she heard a loud crash behind her, followed by a long string of curse words. Milly turned to see an Elvhen girl from the South sitting in a bush, a large round scooter-like device spinning next to her.

The two met eyes and remained silent. "Look, as much as I appreciate the comedic value of this moment, it doesn't really suit the theme I'm going for." Milly said flatly.

"Sorry," the girl apologized. "I just really have to speak to my former clan mate Aelita." She pushed herself out of the bush. "My name is Tamiya Diop of Clan Aloten, born to Sabrae."

"Long name. Milly Tyron," she started, stopping at the muffled sounds of alarmed shouting that made it over the palace walls. Her voice turned urgent, "Listen, I'd love to stay and chat and I'd love to ask you about that thing," Here she pointed at the scooter. "But unless all we want to see is the dungeon, we need to get out of here."

Tamiya nodded and hurriedly gathered her belongings while Milly looked nervously in the direction she had come, waiting for the armored footsteps that were surely coming. "Hurry up," she urged the elven girl who was just righting the hovering scooter thing.

"Hop on," Taniya said after stepping onto the device. She pushed the Overwing forward and squeezed a lever under one of the handlebars then angled the nose up, beginning to climb skyward.

"What are you doing!" Milly cried, "Archers man the towers, they'll shoot us down."

She shoved the nose back down, giving up the little altitude she had gained. "That would explain why I fell out of the sky."

Milly could do little more than shake her head at that. Tamiya flew on through the silence, looking back to ensure that they weren't being chased, not that foot soldiers had a chance of keeping up. Once she was certain they were far enough she set the craft down in a deserted city square. As both girls disembarked Tamiya turned towards Milly and offered her hand. "Thanks for the help back there. Sorry to interrupt whatever business you had though."

Milly shook the elf's outstretched hand and replied, "not a problem. But now I need a way into the castle to meet with my sister. I've been looking for her for years."

"Oh, wait! A friend of Aelita has a brother... or maybe a son? I don't really know but maybe if we could contact him he could bring us in as his friends!" Tamiya suggested.

"How would we do that?"

"I have a portable Eluvian that can contact the larger one that the Empress has." Tamiya said, pulling her backpack off.

Milly had only met a few of the wilder elves during her travels and they were always reluctant to speak to humans. She had once believed that Maya had joined a different clan after the one near Falcon's Bridge had been destroyed. But obviously she was wrong about that, if she was in a human city married to a human man.

Tamiya let out a disgruntled sigh that brought Milly back to reality. "What's wrong?" She asked.

"It's broken." She said, showing the small hand mirror to the runaway. "It must have been damaged when I fell... I guess I'm just lucky that didn't kill us all." The mirror was whispering, as if it were in pain. Milly felt her fingers twitch. She asked to hold it, but the Elvhen girl rejected her request politely. "Humans don't know how to operate such advanced magic."

Tamiya was right, of course. Milly had never seen an Eluvian before. She couldn't know how to operate one. The Elvhen girl began weaving a spell to repair it, but still it called out her name... Milly gently touched Tamiya's shoulder. The magic surged, and the crack in the mirror shrank. The mage was startled and confused, but Milly smiled briefly. "Let's go to my apartment. We probably shouldn't do this out in the open." Tamiya agreed and gathered her things.

As Tamiya tried to create the surge to completely repair the mirror, Milly pulled the mirror out of the bedroom and brought it into the common area. She placed it in the glyph, and then subtly tried to convince Tamiya to enter it as well.

Milly focused on the catalyst stone as the oblivious mage continued her work. The runaway closed her eyes and tried to focus on the whimpering of the mirror. It begged her for something, and she mentally reached out.

The magic within the glass spiraled around her fingers. It looked like stars, but they wiggled and jumped like small children. She saw Tamiya panic as she looked at the magicless mirror, and Milly pointed at the one from the bedroom.

The magic flew away, colliding with the glass. The stars spread out, spiraling around and creating beautiful music. It whispered a song to her. She finally understood.

"Fen'harel enansal," She said proudly. The stars still sparkled, but the transfer was complete. They parted, releasing an ethereal wind. Milly opened her eyes to reality.

"What did you do?!" Tamiya demanded, but she sounded more impressed than angry. They stared at the mirror.

"I don't know. It was in pain so I found it a new home." Milly murmured.

"What?" She was silent for a long time after that. "I've heard of this... Mari'linen..."

"It called me Princess..."

"That's not fair! You're not even elven!" Tamiya said with her arms folded across her chest. "If anyone should have been the next Bloody Mari, it should have been m-Mamae. My mother." Both girls knew that she was jealous, but at this point Milly couldn't care less about ancient Elvhen prophecy.

She touched the mirror. It felt like the mirror was trying to hug her, like a long lost friend. "Andaran atish'an," She muttered. The Eluvian rejoiced at her voice. "Show me Maya Tyron." But the Eluvian, desperate to please, begged her to enter, to experience the memories of the mirrors and not just see them. So she struck a deal; the mirror would show the memories and lead the girls to the palace.

The gates of the Eluvian were thrown open. "Are you still jealous or do you want to go on an adventure?"

Tamiya looked at the human girl. She looked beautiful, her black hair and dark skin intensely highlighted by the magic. Her mouth twisted from a pout to a cautious smile as she offered her hand. Milly took it graciously.


---


The first memory was Maya's bedroom. It was snowing outside, and the changeling, only about three or four, watched it fall. Judging by the broom at her feet, Maya was supposed to be cleaning. Instead, she looked at the mirror. She looked sad and excited at the same time.

The bedroom door opened. "Maya, come here." Her father said sternly. Maya rushed toward him. "There's a baby in the house now. You can't slack off on your cleaning or Amelia might get sick. You don't want that now, do you?"

"No, sir." Maya said quietly.

The second memory began with Maya cleaning the mirrors in the house. Her parents were gone and they wouldn't be back for a long time. A crack of thunder came from outside and Milly started crying, scared of the sound. Maya dropped her cleaning supplies, and the memory became fuzzy until the young girl reentered the room. She paced with the child, trying to calm her down.

Maya looked at the front door. She pushed Milly's red locks underneath the bonnet and started to sing. It was a song she had heard in her dreams, reminiscent of one she had heard long ago.

"I hear your voice on the wind.

And I hear you call out my name.

Listen my child, you say to me.

I am the voice of your history.

Be not afraid, come follow me.

Answer my call and I'll set you

Free!
"

Milly quieted, and Maya smiled. She heard her parents approaching and quickly ran to put the baby back in the crib.

The third memory was much farther into the future. The changeling lay restlessly in her bed, unable to get comfortable. She jolted when the thunder cracked and rain pounded against her window.

As the storm raged on, Milly pushed open the door to Maya's bedroom. "Maya? I can't sleep. Can I lay down with you?" The two-year-old asked.

Maya was quiet for a long time. "Yes, Milly. Come here." The toddler ran towards Maya's bed and crawled under the covers.

After that, Milly remembered the scenes. Yet in her mind they were different. Milly had never thought Maya had changed until after the elves came to Falcon's Bridge, but subtlety she had changed before that. She was quieter, sadder, and questions Milly remembered being given sad but honest answers to were in reality met with cutting criticism and annoyance.

Of course, knowing now what her sister had gone through it made sense that Maya was sullen and jaded. But it made Milly question her intentions. Was she seeking Maya to find her sister and be reunited with her, or was she seeking resolution?

Many memories passed before one Milly could not place was shown. Maya entered an aravel with Edna, the Hahren of the Aloten. "My time in the Garden has reached its end. Carry my staff now, Aelita Durgenbora, for you will take my place as Hahren." She offered the staff on her back the changeling.

Aelita? That was who Tamiya was looking for! Maya and Aelita were the same person? She refused. "No! You will survive! I am not ready!"

Edna took her tiny hands and placed them on the staff. "Take Erahalam. The bond is yours now. Be wise, da'len, and do whatever it takes to survive."

"But-" Maya argued.

"Hush! Don't disobey me, da'len." The Hahren hissed. Maya grew nervous. "Bad things are coming. Have courage." She said more gently.

Milly frowned deeply. "Maya is Aelita? She... changed her name? She didn't tell me that..."

"Maybe it was too dangerous for her to tell anyone." Tamiya offered. The novelist agreed silently. After all, Maya's connections to the Aloten had been what sparked what she'd dubbed the Falcon's Descent.


---


A man dressed in intimidating leather armor pushed Maya into a tiny hut where a tall woman who was dressed beautifully waited. She rather roughly removed Maya's dirty, ragged clothes and pushed her into the stool. The woman played with Maya's hair, bouncing it in her hands, ignoring the sticks and twigs. "You have beautiful hair," The woman said flatly.

"Thank you," Maya replied weakly, her voice shaky. The woman moved behind her, and she held Maya's long hair over her head. She took a pair of scissors to it, and the changeling watched in horror as her hair fell, now not even reaching her ears. Her hands jumped up to her mouth, and the woman began to shave what little remained of her hair off with a razor. It fell in clumps to the floor, and when the woman finally finished, the elf rubbed her now bare scalp.

The woman pushed Maya off of the stool and threw a dirty tunic into her hands. "Go on. Get to work."

Maya looked up at her in confusion. "I don't know where I'm supposed to go." She pulled the dirty tunic over her head.

The woman rolled her eyes. "Go find Mirianye! Go on!"


---


An elven woman called Maya into a hut. She seemed sad, but after the last memory, Milly didn't find this very strange. She took Maya's shoulders and spoke carefully. "Aelita… you know as well as I do that you will not survive much longer if you stay here." She tried to protest, but the woman quieted her. "I don't want you to die, sweet thing. It's always sad when a young person like you dies in a place like this. Please, child, don't fight me on this. You do not want to die."

Maya hung her head. The woman handed Aelita clothes, a bikini-like shirt, a long blue glove to cover her vallaslin, and a skirt that wrapped around her legs. Then she slid a gold bracelet onto her arm and wrist, tied a black choker around her neck and pulled a necklace made of red and blue beads over her head.

She grabbed the paint off of the desk next to the stool Maya sat on. She spun her brush in the stuff and painted her eyes and lips. Finally she dabbed a bit of perfume under her chin and held her chin in her hand. "You look beautiful."

She helped Maya up, and she turned her around so she could look at herself in the mirror. Milly started to shake when she watched the wave of realization hit her. She looked up at the woman and asked with desperation in her voice, "Mamae Asha, what do I do?"

"Just be nice to the gentlemen, 'Lita. They'll be nice to you."

There was a lapse in the memory, as if it was responding to Milly's sadness and shame. "Oh, gods! Maya... Poor Maya!" She sobbed.

Tamiya took her shoulders. "Oh, Milly, don't cry." The next memory was already prepared. Maya was smiling. She was running her fingers through the hair that was growing back, slowly but surely. "Look, she's happy now!"

Milly looked up. It was true, her sister looked happy. As happy as she could, at least. Sadness still lingered in her eyes. The door opened and she turned. Milly actually recognized the man who entered-James Finson. They'd met in a town about two hundred kilometers north of where this memory took place, and about the same timeframe, but Milly couldn't have known that.

Maya's happy expression vanished. She stood and backed against the wall. "Please, no." The novelist could feel her heart breaking, and yet she couldn't stop. It was as if she had stomped on the pieces of her own heart.

The changeling danced around him for a while, trying to get him to lose interest, or perhaps trying to gain the upper hand. She squirmed away from him every chance that she got. But unfortunately Finson eventually grew tired of it, grabbed her and forced her into the bed.

Milly grabbed her head and fell to her knees once more. "NO!" She screamed, and the memory fractured. "I don't want to see this! I DON'T WANT TO SEE THIS!" She was sobbing uncontrollably as she wondered if knowing was worth the suffering.

The memory faded again. Maya was now pushing her hair into a wig cap and fixing a red wig to her head, her breasts bound. A human woman with long blonde hair tied back into a low ponytail hugged her from the side. "What's cooking, good looking?" The human asked with a light kiss on the cheek.

"Creator's blood, Anaïs, but you are terrible!" Maya laughed. She looked at the human, gently touching their hands. It was a loving gesture, but something about it felt reserved. "What manner of unspeakable evil have you got planned for us today?"

"Oh, Tathas! You are such a tease!" The woman, Anaïs, laughed. Tathas now, was it? She walked over to the door. "You know very well that I love to speak of it!" The two girls laughed as Maya grabbed a large brown backpack. "Come now. Nobles won't rob themselves."

"But they will rob us!" Maya called out as the memory faded again.


---


Maya caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror as she entered the room of a noblewoman in the next memory. "Miss Elisabeth?" She called out.

A dark haired noble in her undergarments appeared from behind a Nihonjin style screen. "Oh, are you a new slave? Thank the gods. Tell me, I'm to meet my future husband today and I need to know which of these goes better with my eyes!" She pulled out three pretentious dresses, one violet, one pink and one yellow.

Maya looked confused for a moment. "Pink never goes out of style." She reasoned.

Miss Elisabeth smiled. "You are absolutely right."

And it faded. Now no one could be seen, but voices could be heard, though she could only barely make it out. "So, when do we find this treasure you promised, and how do you know that it is still here?" A young man's voice asked.

"Well, the door was shut, there's that," Maya said, "Although the treasure can't be too much farther, I doubt it has any real value to anyone other than the People."

"Still, this is a good chance to learn something." The young man said. A secret wall opened. The young man, whom Milly recognized as Maya's husband, spotted the mirror that held the memory. His eyes moved to the skeleton of a person who had died in his armor and with his blade. "Gods above. This man died to protect these things," He said as he approached it.

Maya nodded sadly. "Many died here, in case the shemlen broke our defenses and tried to steal our artifacts. The ultimate humiliation would have been to have died at the hands of something you created." She explained. She approached the skeleton and sang a song to it.

The young man stood and searched the room. "Do you know what any of these things are?" He asked.

"Some of them, yes. The mirror is called an Eluvian. Every clan has one, and a person who maintains it." She cringed. "You don't want to be around a broken Eluvian. Actually, you'd better avoid that one, just in case it's passed its use-by date. Everything else here, I don't know. I've never heard of these things. Well, except the coins, but those are self-explanatory."

The couple rummaged through the old items. Maya's husband found a gauntlet that opened into a sword, which he slid on his arm. "The elves seemed really advanced, contrary to our stories. The humans say that your people were savages."

"They still say that." She said flatly.

And as it faded for the last time, Milly could feel her heart aching still. She couldn't take much more. Maya brushed her hair, and she pushed it out of her face. She was dressed in finery, much too fancy for the rags she'd been shown in earlier memories. "Don't freak out," Her husband said as he approached her from behind. She smiled as he tied a necklace around her. They were small beads of jade, and she obviously loved it.

"I must have done something good to meet you, ma vhenan." She turned so she could kiss him. It lacked the reservation that the kiss she'd given Anaïs had. He wrapped his arms around her, and they were still for a while.

Maya looked at his hand, and Milly saw how much it looked like tree roots. "Does it trouble you?" She asked.

"Not so much anymore. It's useful too." He said. "Besides, it reminds me of you."

"Jeremie, stop. You're making me blush." She teased him.

He offered her his arm. "Let's get a move on. Laura won't hold the party until we get there."

"Believe me when I say that the only thing we've missed out on is Emily's pre-drinking." Maya joked.

Party? Maya realized that what they were seeing was a recent memory. Maya had been in front of a mirror only hours ago, at the castle! She was in too much of a hurry for proper emotions to spread on her face. She severed the memories and demanded the Eluvian take them to the castle. She dragged Tamiya through the glass, ignoring her pleas for a moment to rest.

The castle Eluvian was locked in a cell, but Milly always carried a full set of lock picks. Her arms and hands were small, so she easily reached through the bars. While not being able to see what she was doing was a hindrance, she opened it with little trouble, and forced the gate open. Tamiya, panicking, chased after her.

"Maya! Maya!" Milly called through the halls. She attracted the attention of many guards, who all tried to capture her. She punched one in the face and ignored the others.

Eventually she came to the ballroom. There actually weren't many people inside, only about thirty or so. The guard wasn't lying when she said it was a small party. She scanned the faces in the crowd.

Maya stood across the room with her husband. They laughed with their friends. "Maya!" Milly shouted for the last time.

The changeling, confusion written on her face, looked over at her sister. Shock spread across her face, and she dropped the glass she held.

"Milly?" She asked.
Episode 6: the Empress' Favor

14th of Umbralis, 4:99 East

Milly had always been an early bird, unlike Maya. Father said it was because Maya was lazy that she would sleep all day if you let her, while Mother said it was because she stayed up so late. Either way, Milly knew why: Poor Maya always looked so sad and it kept her up so late, and the fact she was always forced to rise with the sun often made her sick. But Father knew that the best way to fix the 'sleep weakness' was through hard work, so Maya was always working.

But Amelia Tyron, future novelist, would not let her beloved sister work hard and never have fun! So she woke up early and snuck into her sister's bed chamber. Gently, she called her name. "Mimi. Mimi! Maya, wake up!"

Maya yelped and shot up, her hair messy and out of its usual braids. Milly always loved Maya's rosy hair, and she never understood why Mother made her hide it. She made Milly hide hers, too, of course, but Milly's hair was curly and tangled easily.

"Amelia! What are you doing?" The eight-year-old asked.

"Come on! Let's go play in the gardens!" Milly said almost too loudly.

Maya quieted her, but she got out of bed and dressed quickly. They ran down the stairs and into the garden, where the moon lilacs were closing up and the sun roses had turned towards the ever-so-distant sunlight. Milly and Maya pretended to be faeries as they leapt between the flowers, picking up dirt to sprinkle like pixie dust.

Milly had never seen Maya so happy. There was a light in her eyes she'd hidden. Maya was so happy being outside, dancing in the sun, laughing. Maybe Father was wrong. Maybe freedom would cure Aelita's sleep weakness.

But no good thing could last. "MAYA!" Father's voice bellowed from above. Maya froze and shrank. She frowned at her sister before running inside.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

Laura was so deep in her library that even she didn't know exactly where she was. Spread out on the large, generously lit table in front of her were what few maps of the Uncharted South her library had. All of them seemed old and none of went further than the northern most part of the territory. Still she scrutinized every one, looking for something specific. Christophe had once mentioned a city called Ngemby, but it was either too far south to be on the crude maps she possessed or it was too small to be considered noteworthy.

She yelped when Jeremie snuck up behind her. "Judging by his accent and the knowledge Vigilance has given me, Christophe is most likely from a country called Mesoaiyuttos, a desert country famed in the South for the fertile fields that are flooded by the rivers, and their sculptures." He said, his eyes glowing slightly. "However, the gods he invokes are from ancient Oupavoxeivos, or it's more modern name, Syelkimba. That's likely where Ngemby is."

She whirled around to face him. "And how would Vigilance know that?" Laura demanded.

Jeremie took a step back, raising his hands to show he was harmless. "When I'm asleep, Vigilance wanders in the Beyond, peaking into dreams and memories. He's been doing this long before I was even born, and so he knows the nuances of many cultures." With a smile, he added, "When the war is over, I'd like to take Aelita to the South. There are so many things to see there that no one from Medieuropa has seen, and Vigilance tells me that the elves there are more accepting."

The Empress sighed. "Don't get lost. I need you in court." He seemed confused so she clarified, "Who else can tell me who plans to assassinate me from three kilometers away?" Jeremie laughed. He'd been smiling so much more lately. It was nice to see but also, in some strange way, disconcerting.

"Maybe you shouldn't work so hard. Have you relaxed at all since we came back?" The Wise Man suggested.

"A little. Between trying to coordinate war efforts and fixing and growing an empire, I've got too much to do to be relaxing."

Jeremie nodded in response and a moment of pregnant silence opened between them. Just as the Fair was about to turn back to her maps though, he brought up the subject that had brought him here. "Laura, I know that you're experimenting with blood magic." Jeremie said firmly. "Are you taking precautions? What kind of demon is it?"

"I--" She seemed angry for a moment before realizing spreading falsehoods to a human lie detector was pointless. "It's a pride demon, I think."

"That's dangerous." He warned.

"You don't think I know that?" The Fair shouted. Quietly, she added, "I am so afraid of it. But I can't stop."

"It's an addiction. That's how they get you." The Wise Man said. "You should talk to Aelita. Maybe she can mentor you."

"I would love to talk to Aelita about blood magic, but she'll think that I'm trying to hurt or insult her. And I can't blame her for thinking that." She pulled her arms in. "I am so... I don't know how to approach her."

Jeremie took Laura's shoulder. His face was stony as he said, "As an equal."

---

30th of Cassus, 5:01 Guardian

Milly knew that her first novel would be based on Maya. But what could she write? Maya only ever stayed in the house and did chores. She didn't go on adventures. She didn't seem the adventurous type.

The only solution Milly, Ace Reporter, could conceive was to ask her sister what sort of adventure she would go on. She grabbed charcoal and a roll of paper and found her sister in the kitchen. However, instead of preparing dinner, she was on the floor, crying into her hands. The side of her face was bloody, and it appeared to be swelling. "Maya!" Milly shouted, coming to her sister's aid.

"Oh, Milly, you shouldn't see me like this." Maya sobbed.

"What happened?"

"I was just asking if he'd teach me... teach me to..." She started crying harder. "Oh gods, Milly! Why am I so terrible at everything?!"

Her younger sister comforted her. She hugged her tightly and quieted her sobs. "Thank goodness I came in when I did." Milly said when the swelling went down some. When Maya asked why she'd come in, she explained.

Maya was quiet for a very long time. "I would want to turn into a bird and fly far, far away. So far that nobody would ever find me ever again."

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

'As an equal', Jeremie had said. Laura abandoned her heavy gowns and jewelry. She let her hair down and dug out the clothes that she had worn so often when they first travelled around Lyoko. They were, however, still too fine of quality. She would come off as too 'princessy'.

She asked one of the servants who was about her size to loan her some plain clothes, and she was given a dark blue tunic and an evergreen shawl with a hood. She wore a black skirt and unadorned boots as well.

Hoping her more modest appearance would make her come across as more humble, she wandered through the castle until she found Aelita in the garden.

Judging by the stacks of books next to her, Aelita was supposed to be practicing reading, but instead she looked out over the flowers. They were all dried from the drought, and every so often Aelita would conjure water to help them. She wore a long dress, the top half black and the skirt was long and decorated with tight magenta roses.

"Can I help you?" The Outcast asked rudely.

"Yes. I mean, I hope so. But it's a really big secret." She rubbed her arms. "I need your help."

"Why? Are you trying to seduce Christophe or something?"

"Minerva's mercy, no!" Laura said with flushed cheeks. "This is... about blood magic."

Aelita stood and turned. "Blood magic?" She asked flatly. She searched Laura's face for any signs of deception, of mockery or of cruelty, but found none. Instead it was colored with a hundred shades of fear and worry. "Don't tell me that you..."

"Yes. I am." Laura took a few steps closer.

"Are you crazy? If you're discovered, you'll either be tried for corruption and executed, or even worse, create a country ruled by blood mages!"

"And that's why I need your help!" She shouted, and then calmed herself. "You kept your secret hidden for months from us, and years from many others. I need your help, Aelita, or I'm going to die, or worse." Aelita seemed conflicted, which she couldn't blame her for.

The Fair waited for a very long time as Aelita wrestled with the idea in her mind. Eventually she grew impatient.

"I'm the fucking Empress. What do you want in exchange for your help?"

"I want freedom for the slaves of Lyoko and reparations." Aelita said quickly, as if she'd blurted it out before thinking.

"I was already going to do that. You repeating it won't make it happen any faster." Laura rolled her eyes. "What do you want?"

"Exclusive bragging rights! 'Haha, I was right, blood magic is useful' and all that." She added.

"You are not very good at this, are you." Laura rubbed her temples. "I offer... an official position in my court. Something like... Ambassador of the Elvhen to the Imperial Court, or Arcane Enchanter to the Empress, or something. A position offering real political power."

"Deal."

"You are not good at this! You could've driven your price higher!"

Aelita blushed. Laura couldn't blame the Outcast for her less than perfect negotiation skills. She'd had to fight for everything she had. She looked away, and the elven girl asked, "Can I ask you for a favor?"

"Of course."

"Will you... heal my scars? Please?"

Laura laughed. "I recall you saying something along the lines of, 'don't you touch me, Imperialist'."

The Outcast flinched. However, she recovered quickly and retorted, "I recall you saying, 'if your savage parents hadn't abandoned you, you would've known not to accept the proposal of a demon'."

"Minerva's mercy, did I sound that bad? I'm turning into my father!" The Empress shuddered.

Aelita waved her off. "No, your father was a different breed of ignorant--the kind that wouldn't try to learn." She pulled her arms in. "It's just... I'm starting my life over, Laura! And so long as I'm doing it... I just want a clean slate and..." She started to walk away. "This is stupid. Forget I said anything."

But the Empress caught her shoulder and smiled gently. She said in a voice that was almost motherly, "It'll take longer than it should because of the blood, but yes, I'll help you."

---

20th of Eluviesta, 5:03 Guardian

The door to Maya's bedchamber was still open, and Milly quietly peeked inside. She saw her sister, her bonnet thrown lazily to the side, focusing on a flower pot. Maya held out her hands and took a deep breath in. The flower grew tremendously, budding and blossoming within a minute.

Maya let out a small cheer, and to Milly's surprise, the break in her concentration did not result in the flower wilting or shattering the pot. "Wow! You're getting really good!" Milly encouraged.

Her sister jumped. "Amelia! What are you doing?"

"I came to ask if you wanted to hang out with me today, so I can get more material for my story." Milly said.

Maya ran towards the door and held it. "Go away, Milly." She said cruelly. Maya slammed the door shut with all of her might, ice collecting on the door frame. It would later permanently damage it.

Milly was frozen for a few moments. "Okay, bye." She finally said quietly.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

Laura had taken them down a level in the castle, not so close to the dungeons but still rather secluded. The walls were plain stone with no ornaments that made the place look homier. There were a few dark windows and a fireplace, but still the atmosphere was cold. It seemed fitting. Aelita presented the Fair with her dagger, the one she'd taken from James Finson, and Laura couldn't help but wonder why she had kept it for all those years. Was it a reminder, or a trophy? "You should always keep a blade with you. It will act as secondary defense, and it can draw blood more quickly than your teeth or nails." She smiled briefly. "Cutting your hand or wrist is traditional, but you'll experience less pain if you cut your leg."

"Good to know." Laura said. She looked around the room, taking note of the dim fire in the hearth, and the tinted windows. "So what's lesson number one?"

"That depends. What are you looking for?" Aelita asked. When Laura didn't answer, she clarified. "I was looking for freedom. Most people are looking for power. Some think it'll make them better mages. The list goes on."

"I'm not sure what I'm looking for." She admitted.

The Outcast sighed. "Then we'll start with some things that'll make you a better healer. Blood magic can make blood transfusions easier, if they're necessary, and can sterilize open wounds, often even making them heal faster, though it leaves scars. You should also know that you can send isolated distress signals with blood magic." She sat down on the floor, stretching out. "All of this causes pain, however."

"Those seem like things doctors should know." Laura said. "People might be less afraid of them." Although the threat of pain was still frightening, she noted.

"Maybe," Aelita murmured.

---

18th of Solis, 5:03

Milly watched as Maya and Murray were dragged away towards the Oubliette. She was so scared, but Maya was not. She was angry and hurt, and she could not tear her eyes from the Knight Templar. Milly fearfully looked at the pyre where the elven Hahren burned, but she could not keep her eyes on it.

Eva Skinner started to run after the magistrates who had arrested her friends, wanting them to either release them or take her with them. Her mother ran and grabbed her shoulders, holding her back. Father grabbed Milly and forced her to watch Edna burn, a sight she would see every night in her dreams for years to come.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

Aelita showed nonviolent forms of the magic. She could use it to dispel barriers and, in a strange turn of events, could use it to cleanse cursed objects but said it was so rare and difficult that it was hardly worth mentioning. She also noted that she was incapable of doing so, or she would have tried to fix Yumi's mask.

Laura was amazed that blood magic could cleanse. She thought it could only corrupt. Aelita explained that it was supposed to lure spirits towards the curse and then away, but again added she'd never accomplished it.

---

18th of Molioris, 5:05 Guardian

Milly slowly opened the door to Maya's bedchamber. She wasn't there. She hadn't been for two whole years. The town hated the Tyron family now, for allegedly hiding an alleged blood mage. It was all allegedly. But Milly maintained Maya was not a blood mage, and if she was, she had her reasons.

The young author sat down on her sister's bed, and then fell back. "Happy name day, Maya." She muttered. She would've been thirteen years old.

Milly then began to sob uncontrollably. Oh, poor Maya! She must have hated the entire town by now, if she still lived! The young girl covered her eyes and wept into them. She was unsure of how long exactly she lay weeping in Maya's chamber but she knew that it was getting closer to dinner. Crying for so long left her hungry, and so she finally stood, straightened the blankets and left the room.

She walked closer to the kitchen and froze to listen to her parents. "...should have let her stay here. She's a disgrace. I should have let you kill her." Mother said, anger obvious in her voice. Quieter, she added, "No, I don't mean that. But..."

"We should have kept her in chains," Father said.

"She would have escaped anyway!" Mother argued. "Ugh, I was a fool to ever think a bitchborn changeling could ever be a part of this family."

This news startled Milly. Maya was a changeling? Of course she knew that she and Maya were not related by blood, anyone with eyes could see it. But Milly had always assumed her parents had adopted Maya out of the goodness of their hearts. Now she heard that Father had wanted to kill her when they found her, that she should've had a human sister?

Milly ran away and closed herself up in her chamber. She thought for a very long time. Who was this mysterious sister? Was she more like Milly than Maya was, or less? If she was, would that be a good thing or bad?

No, Amelia thought finally, it didn't matter who her blood sister was. Maya was her real sister, and she was going to either find her or die trying, that was for damn sure.

Milly grabbed a pack and shoved it full of clothes. She snuck into her parents' chamber and stole almost all of the money in the emergency jar. She folded up clothes and blankets, stashed in her notebooks and wrapped her charcoal. Then she tied a rope to the post of her bed and climbed out the window.

---

14th of Eluviesta, 5:09 Guardian

"Using your blood as a weapon is a dangerous thing. Every drop you waste makes you weak. I prefer to use my blood only as a catalyst and then turn my foe's blood against them." Aelita said as she sliced at her hand. Fire engulfed her body. "But Hunger showed me other ways."

Laura watched intently as Aelita demonstrated a blood sword. It was capable of many different forms, such as rapier, longsword and even a Zweihänder, even though demonstrating this left her weaker. She collapsed the sword and created a ring around herself. She explained how it could be used to deflect attacks or as a weapon.

Aelita turned away and began throwing punches at the air, causing blasts of her blood to strike at the wall. One such blast actually left an indent in the stone walls.

The Outcast demonstrated a few more techniques, such and a shield and a throwing spear, before she fell to her knees and closed the wound on her hand. "Forgive me, this is exhausting." Aelita apologized.

"But it is useful." Laura said, helping her to her feet. "Does Hunger speak to you when you use blood magic?"

"Yes. And Pride will speak to you." She confirmed. "But just remember to counteract its logic. For me, I think of how happy I am with the things I have to fight desire. You must remain humble."

"You've met me, haven't you?" Laura joked. Oddly, Aelita laughed. "Come on, it's getting late. How about we go out to a tavern, to avoid having to explain to the others why we were together." She mentally added that the two reeked with the scent of blood magic, and many if not all of the people they'd eat with would notice.

"Is the chef not making your favorite foods?" The elven girl mocked. Laura rolled her eyes and helped Aelita out of the castle. Eventually the Outcast could walk well enough on her own that Laura's help was awkward and redundant.

Aelita had to admit, the Fair was being almost nice to her. It was strange and uncomfortable after everything the two had put each other through. Out of everything that had happened, it was blood that was bringing them closer.

The tavern was small, and no one recognized them, which was a blessing. They found a table in the corner. The waitress came over and greeted them. "Welcome to the Rampant Cat, my name is Veronique, what can I get for you? And don't say mead or rum. We haven't gotten a shipment of that yet, not until next week. And don't say whiskey."

"When are you getting a shipment of whiskey?" Aelita asked.

"Oh, no, we have whiskey, it just tastes terrible." The waitress said. The bartender heard this and shouted for Veronique to be quiet.

"We actually would just like something to eat." Laura said with a half-smile. The waitress seemed surprised but listed the day's specials. The two Heroines ordered and waited.

They sat in silence for a long time. It was driving her mad, so Laura said, "So. How much of what Edna taught you did you work into your... routine?" She was talking about blood magic. Aelita didn't realize that.

"Very little. Edna more or less taught me how to straight up fight, but you learn how to be more fluid and get more power from what Mamae Asha taught me." Aelita was talking about dancing. Laura didn't know that.

"Ah. I... see." Laura shifted and was quiet for a moment. "Then are you going to teach me those things?"

Aelita's cheeks turned red. "I don't see why you'd need to know the things I was taught."

"I just thought it would be useful to know how you fight, so I could incorporate it into my own fighting style."

"Wait." The Outcast furrowed her brows. "What are we talking about?"

"...Magic?"

She burst out laughing. "Oh, yes, that makes so much more sense!" The waitress returned and gruffly dropped off their meals, leaving without a word. "I thought that you were asking me about my routine at the Gypsy. For Christophe."

Now it was Laura's turn to have red cheeks. "Nononononooo! That's not it at all!" She buried her face into her hands and then shoved a forkful of food into her mouth. Aelita laughed again before eating.

Laura, trying to hide her embarrassment, finished eating long before Aelita did, and spent the free time afterwards explaining why she was sorry for insinuating that she teach her that, albeit accidentally. Aelita, on the other hand, just seemed to grow more exhausted. Eventually, she put her head down and started to sleep.

"What's wrong? Did you get drugged or something? You didn't have anything to drink..." Laura said. Aelita didn't stir, and so she examined the tavern. They were few people in it, and no one was watching them. Then she spotted the waitress. Either Veronique had gotten a haircut in the short time they'd been in the Rampant Cat, or this woman was not her.

The waitress noted that Aelita had fallen asleep and went behind the bar. She strapped on a breastplate engraved with the symbol of the magistrates. Laura threw coins onto the table and grabbed Aelita. She then ran out of the tavern.

She dragged Aelita through the dim and partially rebuilt streets of the Capital for a long time before ducking into a rubble strewn alley. Panting from the effort, she considered leaving her there for half a second before banishing the thought. Instead she glanced around the deserted alley then removed her tunic and shawl as well as Aelita's dress. She quickly switched their clothes, making sure that the hood was pulled over Aelita's head. The pink hair was a dead giveaway.

Satisfied that Aelita was adequately disguised and still feeling exhausted the Fair again dragged Aelita's limp body through the streets of the Capital. A glance back showed that she hadn't lost the magistrate and as the armored figure moved closer The Fair began to panic. Luckily, she found a crevice caused by an explosion, and she shoved Aelita into it before crawling in herself. She covered her mouth with her hand, and tried to regulate her breathing.

The magistrate walked past, but she seemed preoccupied. She looked around as Laura prayed that they went unnoticed. Aelita grunted, adjusting her position. The magistrate moved for the sound. Laura, frightened by her sudden movement, started casting a fire spell. It launched too quickly and filled the narrow street with a sharp crack and bright blue light. Blinded, deafened and disoriented by the lightning bolt, the magistrate stumbled back, and while she was awfully confused, Laura didn't look a gift horse in the mouth.

She was running once again, and she quickly went through a list of places where they could hide. However, the magistrate caught up with them, grabbing the tunic that Aelita had been made to wear. Laura yelped as the Outcast was ripped from her shoulders. She turned and slashed at her foe with Aelita's dagger, cutting at her face. She then cut her own wrist, summoning the blood like Aelita had taught her--it was a more potent weapon, after all.

She created a circle of blood and threw punches. The magistrate dodged some of the blood blasts, but more than one struck at her breastplate, and one struck her leg, bringing her to her knee. Laura rushed forward and kicked the magistrate's head, knocking her out. She considered killing her, but she closed the wound and simply left her out on the street. Killing a magistrate would bring too much attention, not that, she thought gruffly, her obvious use of blood magic had made the situation any better.

Laura picked Aelita off of the ground and began to run. She didn't stop until she reached an inn, the Old Fox, and she ducked inside. She went up to the innkeeper, who was polishing glasses, and slammed three gold pieces on the counter. "Give me your most secluded room, and pretend we aren't here." She said firmly.

The innkeeper was surprised, but since average fare for a room was ten coppers, she obliged. "Kader! Bring them to the attic room!" She called to her son, who stood and led the girls upstairs. Laura gently placed Aelita on the bed, and she sent a distress signal with blood to Jeremie. When he telepathically contacted her, she simply said that that they would be spending the night at an inn and not to worry.

---

15th of Eluviesta

Aelita stretched as she woke, and she jolted up when she didn't recognize her surroundings. She started breathing heavy until she saw Laura, asleep in the chair across the room. Aelita went through the night's happenings, and she realized she didn't remember leaving the tavern. Mamae Asha had warned her about such a thing a long time ago, but she didn't remember drinking anything, not even water. It must have been in her food, but she doubted any random person could just handle someone's food. An employee, then, she thought.

She shook her head, and realized that whatever happened to her, Laura had prevented anything else from going wrong. She also realized that Laura was wearing her dress. Aelita stood and walked over to the Empress, and she tapped her forehead. "Psst. Laura."

"Hmmm? What is it?" She murmured sleepily.

"I want my dress back. It's got roses on the skirt and it's my favorite." She whispered.

Laura curled her nose in her sleep. "Later!" She hissed as she swatted Aelita away. The Outcast giggled. She was quiet for a moment and then tapped the Fair again. "What?" She asked in an annoyed voice. "I'm tired. Leave me alone!"

"My scars. You haven't healed my scars yet." Aelita reminded her.

"Can it wait until later? I'm tired!" Laura sounded desperate. Such was the way of sleepy people, Aelita thought. She picked up Laura and carried her over to the bed. The Fair was asleep before the Outcast had a chance to tuck her in. Aelita moved to the chair Laura had fallen asleep in and started to meditate. She tried to remember the face of the waitress, but while Veronique's face was still fresh in her mind, her peripheral memories didn't show Veronique. It was someone else, but Aelita couldn't quiet picture her face.

Several hours passed before Laura woke up. "Good morning!" Aelita greeted, and then with a smirk, she added, "Or should I say good afternoon?"

"Shut up." Laura said. At first Aelita thought that their bonding had been for naught, but then she realized the command was sleepy, not rude. "You were saying something, weren't you? I can't remember."

"My scars," Aelita said.

"Oh! Right." Laura nodded as she stood. She wobbled for a moment before she caught her balance again. She was still for a moment as the dizziness faded, and then she motioned for Aelita to sit down on the bed. The Outcast did so, and she removed the tunic and shawl. Her face turned bright red.

This wasn't the first time that Laura had seen Aelita's scars. The first time was at Marsy. It was still disturbing, to see the personal effect of something that you couldn't stop. But she had to be strong. She raised her hands and wove the healing spell, slowly but surely, the scars started to fade. As they faded, Aelita grew more relaxed. This, Laura thought with a smile, could only be a good thing.

---

Milly opened a box of journals that she'd been keeping since she left to find Maya. Her apartment was a mess, boxes everywhere and only her clothes were unpacked, though they were thrown into a corner to be dealt with later. She opened up one such journal. It was from when her journey first started. She'd written so much about wanting to return home at the beginning. She'd missed warm beds and meals. But she was determined to find her sister, and that search had brought her to Capital Lyoko.

Milly had been in the same party as Maya only a few months ago, though she didn't know it. Milly had seen her father at that party and left immediately, not wanting to get caught and dragged back to Falcon's Bridge. Still, the night had not been a total loss-she'd danced with the most handsome boy she'd ever seen. She swooned at the memory and wondered where he was now.

A knock came to her door, which Milly was wary of, since no one should have known that she was there. She grabbed her crossbow and loaded it, hiding it behind the door as she opened it. Eva Skinner stood in her doorway, dressed in a simple red plaid shirt, brown pants and leather boots. "Eva!" Milly exclaimed, gently placing the crossbow on the floor as she hugged an old friend. She looked down at her plain blue tunic and pink stockings. "I'm so sorry! Me and the place are a mess. I'd have cleaned if I'd known you were coming."

"It's okay. I only dropped by to speak to you, anyway." Eva said as she entered the room. Eva was the only person who knew of Milly's quest, and she had been sworn to secrecy.

"I can't help but feel like I'm close." Milly said after closing the door. She smiled. "I can hardly wait to see Maya. I'll bet she's more beautiful now than ever."

"She was in Falcon's Bridge a few months ago." Eva murmured as she looked around the apartment. It was obviously a temporary arrangement. There were only boxes of things and furniture that was provided by the landlord. Nothing that said 'home'. Not a single personal item, not even a piece of art on the wall. "She was travelling with some wanderers, or so I heard. No one really noteworthy."

The young girl spun around. "She was? How long ago?"

"Last I saw her, it was the 1st of Parvulis."

"Ugh! I was all the way in Cahlere." Milly groaned. "Have you seen her here? In Capital Lyoko?"

Eva smiled as she stood. "Actually," She said as she took a few steps forward. "I have. Almost chased her down, too, but she was gone before I could even say her name."

"Do you know where she was staying?"

"No, but I think she might have been travelling with one of the Empress' handmaidens." She sighed. "I don't think she'll speak to me. We ended on a tense note last time. But if you want to find her, all I ask is that you contact me soon after."

Milly took Eva's hands. "Of course, Eva. You miss her too."

deviantID

LynaKiovote
Jerlita Forever!
United States
Current Residence: Lyoko
Favourite genre of music: Soundtrack
Favourite photographer: Ansel Adams
Favourite style of art: Manga/Code Lyoko Art/ American
Operating System: Dell
MP3 player of choice: iPod Shuffle
Shell of choice: ...?
Wallpaper of choice: Something pretty...<3
Skin of choice: ...?
Favourite cartoon character: Aelita Stones and Jeremy Belpois
Personal Quote: "How is this MY fault?!"
Interests
It has come to my attention that Seasons of War's first seven chapters have been reposted on Wattpad. Please, don't read it there. Firstly, you're missing out on 46 other chapters of adventure. Secondly, I was not asked about this, and did not approve it.

These are the websites where you can read the story where I uploaded it:
FanFiction: www.fanfiction.net/s/9624088/1…
DeviantArt: Seasons of War Episode 1-It Begins
Archive of Our Own: archiveofourown.org/works/1162…

I'd also ask that you report the story. It is, again, there without my permission.
  • Mood: Disbelief

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Shina798 Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015  Student General Artist
thanks for the fav!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :la:
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Feb 6, 2015
No problem!
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KiraiMirai Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thank you for the favourite on Commission by Love-In-Belle 1#
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thank you for the fav! <3
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No problem!
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a1993 Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
what is seasons of war?
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LynaKiovote Featured By Owner Jan 19, 2014
It's my fan fiction. It's an AU of Code Lyoko. The summary I use for the FanFiction.net version is:

A wise man, a fair princess, a colonist, a mercenary, a vanguard, a scout and an outcast join together to fight the forces of darkness and evil. But one hundred years of slumber have given it more power than ever thought possible.

I hope this helps without spoilers. If you want more information, I'm always willing to talk about it.
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Thanks for the fav!
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No problem!
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Yumiishiyama123 Featured By Owner Jan 9, 2014

Thanks for the +fav!

:) (Smile) 

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