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About Varied / Hobbyist Jelly Bean21/Female/United States Group :iconamateur-writers-club: Amateur-Writers-Club
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Photos littered my apartment floor. Snapshots of birthday parties sulked beneath the table, and a pile of headshots spilled its guts onto the kitchen tiles. I flicked through the ones in my hand and let them fall to join the others, snatching up my Polaroid camera as if it would give me answers.

At a loss, I did what came naturally to me; I raised the camera and took a shot. The image of a dirty, photo-strewn apartment slipped from its belly a few moments later. I let it fall to join the rest.

My phone buzzed. I frowned at the screen, but my options were growing few. Ignoring the text from my service provider reminding me of my dwindling minutes, I punched in a number with the ease of long practice.

“Hey, Mom. Can I come over later today?”

I scoured the attic like I had scoured the boxes of photos shoved into my apartment closet. Bits of metal pricked my fingers and discarded paper scoured lines along my palm. I pushed a box aside, ignoring the twinge in my back, and grabbed another. Dusty light peered in through a crack in the curtains on the attic window, slicing the room in half.

My mother appeared at the door, squeezing the knob in a white-knuckled grip. “Are you almost done, dear?”

She only called me “dear” when she was annoyed. She had called me that quite a bit throughout the years.

“Last one.”

If it wasn’t here, it wasn’t anywhere. I had taken most of my photos with me when I left, but a few stayed behind amidst toys and other childhood memories. I clawed the box open, slicing my finger on the cardboard edge, and pulled out an old tissue box. The ancient material almost crumbled in my hands as I dumped out its contents.

Photos spilled onto the floor. There, amidst amateur shots of birds and empty playgrounds, sat a photo of a birthday card held open by a Band-Aid-riddled hand. The important part, the part I had come for, sat almost off the edge of the photo: a torn envelope. On it was scrawled a hand-written return address.

“Are you coming to the hospital?”

I looked at my mother, photo squeezed in my hand. Stress lined her face. She held her arms against her stomach as if she might keep in her grief. In the pale blue summer dress, lit only slightly by the hazy light, she looked delicate and worn. I got to my feet.

“Thanks for letting me look,” I told her, sweeping up my mess until no trace of my search remained.

As I passed her in the doorway she said, “Alex, he wants to see you.”

I hurried down the stairs.

Adelaide had gone missing a few days after the Fourth of July, almost two weeks ago. She had sent me a picture of fireworks above her house. That was the last thing I heard from her. We were supposed to talk every day, if only to say hi, to tell each other we were alive. It was a tradition so old I could not remember who started it. In some ways, we were reassuring ourselves of our own survival. Usually it would be on Skype, but sometimes one of us would be away from a computer and shoot the other a text. She had not answered my messages in either form.

We grew up with each other, bathed in the light of our computer screens. We had laughed together over bad movies, shared our secrets in the dead of night, and whispered reassurances through the click-clack of keys. Now she was gone.

I fished out my phone charger, gathered all the money I had in my apartment, and grabbed the keys for my bike lock. I had scrawled the address on my arm, but it was already starting to smudge. According to this, Adelaide lived barely a state away in a place called Springdale, Orgeon. It would take me at least a few days to get there.

I stared across the photo-strewn apartment. My camera was around my neck, though I couldn’t remember putting it there. I flicked the lights off and left.

Hotels were not cheap. I had known that already, but here, sitting on the bed and counting what little savings I had scraped together, the fact sunk my gut into my shoes. My phone buzzed again. Another text from my mother.

Ignoring her messages, I pulled up the Skype app and scrolled through my past conversations with Adelaide. It took me a moment to get past my own frantic messages, unanswered, to find the last thing she had sent me.

[7/6/2015 6:24 PM] Queen_Adelaide: happy belated 4th of July!!!

Beneath it was a cream-colored house, its dark roof lit by blue and red fireworks. A thumb smudged the corner of the photo. Her house sat not too far from the fairgrounds, which put on a show every year. Neither of us had ever gone to a fireworks show before, but she always said that she wished she could take me. I found fireworks too loud, and I needed special equipment to snap a good picture of them, but I would have gone with her.

Despite living just a few bus rides away on a reasonably planned trip, we had never met. It was a mutual agreement, one we did not discuss. We lived separate lives, connected by computer screens and photos, and that was it. To me she was Queen_Adelaide of Skype, not Alisson Burkeman from Oregon. I could not imagine shattering the deep connection we had formed by shaking her hand and calling her “Alisson.”

Yet here I was, sitting in a hotel on the Oregon border with a phone charger, a hungry wallet, and a photo of a birthday card from ten years ago. I could deal with shattered illusions, just as long as I found her.

My phone buzzed in my hand. I turned it off and went to bed.

Adi was the one who taught me how to use a butterfly bandage.

“Make sure to line up the edges,” she told me as I fought back tears of pain. It was the first time I had heard her voice. It was higher than I had expected, but that might have been the fault of poor sound quality.

I did not bother to give her the excuse I would give everyone else. She knew me too well for that.

“He was just angry,” I told her instead, covering the wound with a larger bandage to keep out dirt. I experimentally moved my arm and winced. “Do you think it will scar?”

“Anger’s not an excuse.”

I winced at the rage in her voice. “It’s fine.”

“No, it’s not.”

The wound healed slowly, leaving a thin white line that stayed long past its welcome. Other scars would come and go, but not this one. It refused to leave, like the residue of a resilient sticker, clinging to my skin as if it were somehow too sentient to simply die like the rest. Some things, usually the painful ones, refuse to fade.

I ran out of money on my third day. The last bit had gone to a bus ticket I snagged online. The bus station was a town over, at least an hour bike ride away, but it would get me the rest of the way there.

My clothes smelled and my muscles ached from constant peddling. I had no money for a hotel, so I locked my bike onto a park bench and curled up on the rough wooden surface. Even in summer, the cold bit at my face. Across from me, a concrete barrier separated the basketball court from the rest of the park. Graffiti littered its surface: names, vulgarities, crude caricatures. Directly in the center someone had written in black and red, “NO GOING BACK.”

I rolled over to face the back of the bench.

Something prodded at my shoulder, startling me awake. A pair of cops scowled down at my, eyes hidden behind black sunglasses. They looked like the eyes of beetles.

“This isn’t a place for sleeping,” one of the cops growled. Pre-dawn light cast shadows across his face.

I rose stiffly to my feet and looked towards my bike. It was gone.

The cops seemed to take pity on me after I had calmed down, or perhaps they just did not want to deal with me. They escorted me out of the park, told me to stay out of trouble, and went on with their business. I was just old enough not to look like a runaway, but too young to seem like a regular offender of trespassing on park benches at night. They had better things to deal with than some scruffy stranger.

An old clock tower reared up from the front of a bank. I had three hours to get to the bus station, and no bike to get me there. All I could do was walk.

A McDonalds burger dwindled my cash into the cents range, but my body needed the energy. I ate it as I walked, one hand thrust out towards the rode with my thumb peering at the sky as if searching for miracles. I was going to end up dead on the side of the road. This thought should have sent me reeling, but I had accepted my end long ago. When I was young I thought that I would never reach thirty. When Adelaide asked me why, I could only say that it was instinct. I always knew that a person would be the one to kill me, not a heart attack or a misplaced step on a mountain path, so I had decided years ago that I would decide who did it. If it was not me, then it would be a stranger in a pick-up truck.

The sun had risen into the horizon by the time a rust-colored truck pulled over.

“Going south?” the man said, grinning a gap-toothed grin.

John Sullivan was traveling from Yakima to visit his mother.

“She ain’t gunna last much longer,” he told me.

Beer cans and chip bags littered the floor of the vehicle. A pair of pink fuzzy dice swung when the car turned, glimmering in the dawn light.

John noticed me looking at them and said, “She gave ‘em to me when I bought my first car. Always had a sense of humor.”

When he asked, I told him that I was visiting a friend. I hoped it would not be a lie.

“Must be a good friend to be hitchhiking for ‘em.”

My phone buzzed.

“You gunna answer that?”


He did not ask again.

John spent most of the ride talking about his mother. They had not always gotten along, he told me, but they still loved each other. Every year in April they went to see the tulips together, even after John had moved away. Last year she had been too sick to go, so he had bought three bouquets and brought them to her in the hospital. I pulled out my wallet and showed him one of my favorite pictures: a purple tulip field in bloom. Early-morning fog melted the edge of the field so that it seemed to go on forever. John stayed quiet for a few minutes. I thought I had offended him until I noticed tears in the corners of his eyes.

When we were almost to the town, John pulled over to the side of the road. I had half an hour left.

“Would you do me a favor?” he asked.

My heart screamed at me to hurry. I nodded.

John got out. Before us the ground fell away into low, rolling hills covered in a thick layer of pines. A wide river sparkled in the morning sun. John stared at the sight for a few moments, and then leaned against his truck.

“I’ve had this beauty for almost twenty years. She’s been with me through a lot. But I know she ain’t gunna last long, and I don’t want to forget her. Can you get a picture?”

Though the clock ticked down by the minute, I took my time setting up the shot. John smiled, but his eyes were grim. The sun outlined his truck in gold.

John dropped me off directly at the bus station. He gave me a few dollars and a slap on the back for luck. I snagged another shot as he drove away, not quite sure why. Perhaps I, too, wanted to remember that nameless beauty of a truck and the man within it.

I sat next to an old man on the bus, hoping that he would not feel the need to make conversation. A few minutes into the ride, he fell asleep. I got out my phone.

Seven new messages. I did not have to guess who they were from, but I scrolled through them anyway.

Mom: You should really see him. I know you’re upset, but he wants to see you one more time.

Mom: Please talk to me.

Mom: Stop acting like a child. You’re an adult now. Ignoring your own parents is not the sign of an dult.

Mom: *adult

Mom: Come to the hospital.

Mom: Please.

The last one caught my eye:

Mom: He’s gone.

I leaned back against the seat. My arm itched where the pale scar still sat. I could count all the scars on my body and know where they came from, and most had come from him. I did not want to feel sad. I did not want to cry.

I curled up and went to sleep. My dreams were full of tulips.

Adelaide’s house looked more normal than it had any right to. It had seemed strange and mysterious in the pictures she sent, but now, as I stood before it, it just seemed like another house. It did not look like something I had traveled days to find.

Someone had written “Burkeman” onto the mailbox in neat print. It was stuffed full of mail. Adi’s parents were in Australia for the summer, as they always were, so she had the house to herself. I walked up the cobblestone path, past bowing yellow flowers, and stopped on the porch. Sweat trickled down my neck. I wanted to turn and run. Instead I knocked on the door.

Predictably, no one answered.

“Adelaide?” My throat burned. “Alisson?”

Silence. I hesitantly tried the door. It swung open.


I stepped inside. I was a stranger here, an intruder. But I shuffled forward anyway, eyes wide to take in my surroundings. I had seen snippets of this strange place in the backgrounds of Adelaide’s pictures, but seeing it for myself was an entirely different experience. It suddenly seemed real. I passed through the kitchen like a ghost and stopped in a hallway. A white door with the name “Adelaide” scrawled onto it stood before me. Drawings littered its surface: sketches of animals, ink-drawn portraits. A paper cutout of a cat was pinned to one corner. She had been on video chat with me when she made it. A few of my own photos stared out at me from the collage. I pushed the door open.

Adelaide sat slumped against her desk, ginger hair fanned across her back like a thread-bare blanket. Silver light slipped in through the curtains to outline her shoulders, her lips, her eyelids. A bottle of pills sat at the edge of the desk, as if a gentle breeze might knock it over.

For a long, excruciating moment, I wanted to take a picture. I wanted this moment caught forever in film, this beautiful tragedy cemented in history.


I was not sure if I actually made any sound, but she twitched. My heart slipped down from my throat. I slunk quietly to her, as if afraid to wake her, and touched her shoulder. She murmured in her sleep. When her hand twitched, she hit the computer mouse and the screen before her lit up.

She was writing her will. I grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. We both ended up on the floor as she jerked to life, gasping and tumbling from the chair with me beneath her. She scrambled to her knees, one digging into my chest, and stared at me.

“Alex?” Her voice sounded as if she had not used it for quite some time.

I grabbed her shoulder and pulled her to my chest, trembling. She whimpered apologies into my shirt. Said she didn’t want to go on. Said she couldn’t stay here anymore. Said the silence was killing her. I held her as she sun soared high into the sky.

That night we ate the steak her parents had been saving in the freezer, packed all her things into her car, and drove.

“Your dad won’t like this,” she said quietly. Her voice was deeper than distance had suggested. She did not say anything about her own family; they would not care either way.

“He’s dead.”

She stared at me. The traffic light turned green, and she was forced to look away. She did not say that she was sorry for my loss. I was not sure what I wanted to hear at the moment, so I was glad she stayed silent.

“He wanted to see me.”

She shot me a glance. “Why?”

“I don’t know. To apologize? To say he did nothing wrong? I didn’t go, and now he’s dead. I’ll never know what he wanted to say.”

“Would it have mattered?”

I leaned back against the seat. Headlights passed by, coming the other way. The moon winked in the sky.

“I guess not.”

She reached out and touched my arm, right where the scar sat. This was the first time we met, the first time we were truly real to each other, and she knew exactly where it was.

“You don’t have to forgive him.”

We drove late into the night, and we did not look back.

Adelaide stood by my side at the funeral. I did not cry; I was not ready for that. When it was all over and everyone drove away in their somber outfits, my mother’s face creased with grief, we stood together before his grave and waited, as if he might reach out from the ground and tell us his secrets. I set a bouquet of tulips on the ground.

“You were an awful person,” I told the silent tombstone. “But those are for you. I won’t run away from you anymore.”

I raised my camera and took a shot; purple tulips on a fresh grave. Adelaide took my hand, and we left.
Something I did for school. I'm not entirely pleased with it, but figured I would throw something up on here.
“You know, I really need to stop doing this kind of thing,” Eva said as she peered down the dark stairwell. Cars hummed on the street behind her. “How many times can I follow strange animals into the unknown before I get myself killed?”

The crow on her shoulder clucked its tongue. Eva pulled out her phone and waved it at the bird, her finger hovering over the “send” button.

“Remember, one wrong move and I bring a vengeful angel down on your tail feathers,” she said.


Sighing, she plunged into darkness. Her phone provided little light, but it was enough to stop her from stumbling down the stairs. She paused when they reached solid ground, squinting. Blackness loomed around her.

“Kind of dark,” she admitted in a small voice.

Cocking its head as if it had not considered this problem, the crow whistled. Golden lights lit a stone hallway. The crow eagerly hopped ahead of her, leading her deep into a maze of halls and doors. The architecture was somewhat eclectic, transitioning from stone bricks to plaster and back again. Sometimes torches lit their way with a golden glow. Other times, light bulbs did the job. At one point something flashed past Eva and she jerked away, catching a glimpse of a grey rabbit disappearing behind a door. She peered into the room. A large brown bear stared back at her, the rabbit on its head. It licked its nose.

Eva almost stepped on the crow in her rush to catch up.

“You’re here.”

Eva jerked to a halt. Two amber eyes glowered at her from a dim hallway. Golden light shone faintly on white, gray-dusted fur. The hallway seemed to shrink around Eva as she stared, frozen. At last the crow broke the gloom by chirping happily and landing on the wolf’s shoulder. It rubbed its chin on the wolf’s neck.

The wolf sat. When it spoke again, its voice was rough but not hostile. “To be honest, I didn’t think you would. Told Li it was a bad idea. Guess I was wrong.”

Eva bit her lip. She could feel her heart beat in her throat. When the crow whistled into the wolf’s ear, the canine growled.

“Good,” it said. “She should be nervous, what with her partner causing so much—”

“S-she’s not my—” Eva cut off when the animals turned to look at her.

“Whatever she is, you two work together. You’re the only one we know who might be able to calm her down.” The wolf stalked past her, glancing back with burning amber eyes. “Knock when you’re done. Then we’ll talk.”

Eva stood frozen until it turned the corner. She hesitantly pressed her hand against the door the wolf had stood in front of. It felt warm. Swallowing, she entered into a wave of heat. Too-bright fire flickered along the walls. The carpet smoldered. A bed in the corner suggested that this room had once been a bedroom, but now it was a furnace. The far end of the room was a maelstrom of fire and ashes. A being of light and flames paced in its heart. Rage, confusion, and hurt roared from the being and bore into Eva as much as the heat. The only things that kept the room together were the flickering golden runes along the wall.

Eva found that she was not afraid. Only sad. The overflow of emotions in the room seemed to push out everything but pity.

“Ambrosia,” she said.

The creature whirled around and roared. A rush of heat and rage slammed into Eva like an ocean wave. Light blinded her as fire leapt through the air. She felt pressure in her chest, in her throat, in her bones. Ambrosia roared again. Flames poured from her fur. The air around her warped with heat.

Eva stepped forward. Embers licked at her heels. She felt as if she were approaching a volcano finally bursting, releasing its tumultuous power after eons of pressure. She felt as foolish as anyone approaching an eruption.

“Ambrosia,” she said again, as if that name might bring the creature before her back to Earth.

The fires flickered uncertainly. Eva took another step forward, and then another. She approached slowly through the choking heat. Ambrosia snarled, but did not move away. The fiery beast allowed the girl to walk through the flames and crouch before her. Smoke clouded Eva’s glasses. She pulled them off.

“It’s okay to be afraid,” she told the center of the storm. “It’s okay to be angry. It’s okay to be lonely.”

She reached out her hand. Fire licked at her fingers, angry and uncertain.

“It’s okay to hurt.”

Teeth sank into her hand. She yelped, yanking her hand back, and stared at the injured limb. The bite hardly broke the skin. She remembered a rainy night weeks ago, the yellow light of the gymnasium glimmering against the bleachers; she remembered a pair of pig demons and a little wet dog with sharp teeth.

“You bit harder when we first met,” she said somewhat absently.

Flames receded around them. Ambrosia’s legs buckled beneath her as her fur shifted from roaring flames to simple white-and-brown fur. She let Eva catch her and pull her into her lap. Her fur was still hot.

“I’m tired,” Ambrosia croaked, and finally allowed herself to rest.

For the first time in almost a year, Ambrosia awoke to the touch of another human. She felt something moving gingerly along her back, rhythmic and warm. It lulled her like the soothing crackle of fire. She almost wanted to drift back to sleep.

“Stop petting me,” she grumbled.

The sensation immediately stopped, accompanied by squeaked apology. She started to stretch, only to stop immediately as pain shot through her body.

“C-careful,” Eva said, laying a hand on her shoulders to keep her down. “You’ve got a nasty bite—where did this even come from? A-and why are you even here in the first place?”

Back to stuttering again. She peered around. Eva sat cross-legged next to her, one leg pressed into Ambrosia’s side. She didn’t want to look at her own back, knowing that it was matted with blood from the wolf’s bite. A worried face appeared in her vision.


“I heard you, I heard you.”

She gave the girl a brief description of how she had ended up here, resting her tired head on her paws. She ached in places she didn’t know existed. This was not exactly an unknown phenomenon in her life, but at least her head felt clearer. Eva seemed to have that effect.

Eva. The wizard squeezed her eyes shut. “You shouldn’t have come.”

“Why not?”

“You could have gotten killed. You could still get killed.”

A pause. Eva spoke slowly, as one prods a loose tooth. “I’m not your apprentice anymore. You don’t have to care about what happens to me. I thought you didn’t care in the first place.”

“I don’t care. I’m not supposed to care.” Ambrosia stayed quiet for a long moment. A strange kind of relief tugged at her heart, lulling her. She closed her eyes and said, not quite sure what magic pulled the words from her throat, “I never knew how they met—my parents, I mean. My father was a bounty hunter at the time. I don’t think he ever did anything else. He grew up as a wizard, spent his life among magic. My mom didn’t. They knew each other for a few years, dating on and off, until my father made what he called the greatest mistake of his life. He introduced her to magic.”

Ambrosia paused, but Eva stayed silent and watched her with intense, attentive eyes.

“She died when I was young. Some naga gang cornered her on her way home. They wanted revenge. But my mom never did anything—that’s the funny part. My dad had taken down their leader a few weeks back. They found out, hunted him down, and killed his wife. Simple as that. My mom was just a means to them, something to get them a bit of intangible satisfaction that lasted until my father slaughtered them all after weeks of searching.”

“I’m sorry,” Eva whispered.

“You get it now, don’t you? The magical world is a dangerous place. My mom only had to marry a wizard to put her head on a stake. It was selfish of my father to pull her into that. And it was selfish of me to pull you into this.” She buried her head in her arms. “And now you’re here, trapped underground with a wolf at the door, and you’re going to get killed because of me.”

Eva shifted beside her. When Ambrosia glanced up, she realized that Eva was wiping her eyes.

“No wonder you didn’t want much to do with me,” Eva said, her voice still choked with tears. She cleared her throat. “But really, you don’t have to worry about repeating all that with us.”

“And why not?”

“I’m sorry Ambrosia, but you’re not my type.”

A pause. The wizard burst into laughter. Her lungs burned and her muscles twinged with pain as humor racked her body, but she couldn’t stop. Weeks of stress, pain, and exhaustion had made her feel mildly hysteric. When she finally managed to settle into painful giggles, Eva watched her in a mixture of amusement and concern.

“I understand, though,” the girl said. “But you have to remember that you’re not the only factor here. You may have brought me into this world, but I’m the one who chose to stay. Your mother did as well. At any time she could have left, I’m sure, but she stayed. Maybe it was because she loved the magic world or because she loved your dad, but she stayed. She may have died and it may have hurt, but it was all her choice. She wanted to make memories, and a family, and maybe a million other things. It killed her in the end, but isn’t it worth it that she got to live?”

“Maybe she would have regretted it, if she had known.”

“Maybe, but maybe not. I know it’s hard to watch people make choices that you don’t agree with, but you have to let people live their own lives.” She paused, a smile flashing across her face. “I know it may not mean anything to you, but I’m glad I followed you that night. I’m glad you showed me this world.”

“But you’re scared. You’ve said it yourself. You’re terrified of the things that go bump in the night.”

“True,” Eva said, “but I got to meet all of you.”

Ambrosia snorted. “Sap.”

A grin spread across Eva’s face. “Come on, there’s a wolf who wants to talk.”

“I don’t want to talk.”

“Of course not. You’d rather run in and bite people on the leg, and then maybe set things on fire.”

Ambrosia shot her a glare. Eva looked away, but kept talking.

“But you’re going to talk, because the only other option is to sit here until these people finally get tired of you and—I don’t know what they’ll do. Please, Ambrosia? I want to leave too. Just—just try.”

This time Ambrosia looked away. Even if she thought that fighting would get her out of this mess, she was in no condition to run around with fire in her throat. She hadn’t been the first time either, but Eva’s presence cleared her mind and she could now feel her own injuries and fatigue. Besides, she owed it to the girl to get them both out in one piece.

“Fine,” she growled. “But don’t tell Ralf. He’ll think I’m going soft.”

Grinning, Eva got to her feet and knocked on the door. It immediately swung open with a flash of golden runes. The wolf stood in the hallway, turning to them when they cautiously stepped out. It obviously hadn’t touched the door. A show of power, Ambrosia assumed; the wolf controlled their environment, so they had better behave. Ambrosia curled back her lip. The wolf barely looked at her before turning, stiff-tailed, and stalked down the hallway. Eva followed with reluctance, Ambrosia at her heels.

The wolf led them to a clean white room. Small bottles and boxes covered the counters and shelves that lined one wall. A woman stood at an examination table, her back to them, as she pulled strips of gauze from a box. She looked to be in her twenties, as far as Ambrosia could tell, with black hair cropped even shorter than Eva’s and tipped with hot pink. She turned to grin at them as they entered. Ambrosia couldn’t tell if the expression was genuine; despite the florescent lights, dark sunglasses hid the woman’s eyes.

The wolf jerked its head to the couch against the wall. “Sit.”

Ambrosia opened her mouth to refuse on general principle, but Eva moved towards the couch.

The woman spoke before Ambrosia could follow. “Why don’t you come over here, little bounty hunter? I can fix you right up.”

She patted the table. A built-in stepladder on its side suggested that the table was used to smaller occupants. Though Ambrosia’s wounds twinged in pain, she merely growled.

“Don’t worry,” the woman said cheerily. “I won’t hurt you. I’m the medic around these parts.”

Ambrosia stayed put. She looked to Eva, who was staring at the woman in puzzlement.

“I-I can’t read her,” the girl said in a startled whisper.

The woman held out her hand, grinning even wider. “Come here, Eva.”

“Don’t,” Ambrosia growled, but Eva reluctantly moved forward and touched the woman’s hand. Her eyes widened.

“Sh-she’s telling the truth. She won’t hurt you.”

With considerable reluctance, Ambrosia climbed onto the table. She did not trust this strange woman or the white wolf, but for some inexplicable reason she trusted Eva. Perhaps she was simply too tired to fight any longer. She stiffened as fingers brushed almost imperceptibly against her fur, followed by a damp cloth that gently dabbed at the dried blood.

The wolf paced along the center of the room, separating Eva and Ambrosia like a wall. Another reminder of who was in charge. At last it spoke, staring at the wall rather than its audience.

“Why did you come here?”

Ambrosia snarled. “That’s all you have to say? You trap us in here—”

The wolf whirled towards her. “You came here of your own accord—”

“—stalk us for weeks—”

“—can’t just act like you have—”

“—if you really wanted to talk—”

“—owe us more than this—”

“—just a bunch of mysterious, idiotic beasts!”

They stared at each other, stiff-legged and glaring, growling at each other like dogs at the ends of their chains. A heavy, primal atmosphere had taken over the room, speaking of eons of animals staring each other down from across a clearing, ready to pounce if their opponent gave a single sign of attack. It spoke of armies with guns ready, of protestors about to launch.

The short-haired woman said in the voice of a sweet-tempered diplomat, “Perhaps we should introduce ourselves.”

Ambrosia had almost forgotten she was there. She would have ignored the distraction entirely had Eva not added in a nervous tone, “I-I think you already know who we are.”

“Quite right! I knew you were smart, eh? But I think we should introduce ourselves, at least. For diplomacy’s sake! Right?”

This last word was clearly directed at the wolf, who reluctantly broke eye-contact with Ambrosia to look at the woman.

“You promised,” the woman said, still grinning.


“You promised you would try.”

Eva stared at Ambrosia, silently reminding her that she, too, had promised. The bounty hunter forced herself to sit, thumping her tail to ease her tension.

The woman tilted her head towards Eva and said in an exasperated tone, “Does yours act like this too?”

The girl smiled, though it was a tad forced. Nevertheless, this eased the tension enough for the wolf to sigh and say, “Fine. We’ll introduce ourselves and act all goody-goody, if that will please you.”

The woman nodded graciously, still smiling.

“My name is Huyana Dukwibal,” the wolf said, stepping forward.

And was no longer a wolf.

Before them stood a tall, muscular woman with fierce brown eyes and a broad, regal nose. A loose tee-shirt showed off muscled arms that bulged beneath tan skin. Thick, serious brows added to her imposing figure. A necklace of feathers, fur, and teeth pressed against her throat.

“And I,” Huyana said, “am the leader of the Order of the Rising Sun. Welcome to our home.”
Gathering Ashes Chapter 21
Peeks in, throws a chapter at you, and runs.

Oh look, Gathering Ashes can buy booze! That's more than Eva can say for herself.

...Though I guess she could just ask Ambrosia. Who is only 20, but that's never stopped her before!

Next Chapter: N/A
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'And THEN I said...!' by Solarcharm
'And THEN I said...!'
Something I drew for :iconthe-b3ing:'s birthday, back when it was actually his birthday! I just didn't upload it until now.

Being recently started drawing himself evolved, so I decided to join the fun. Should I keep drawing myself as a marowak...? Who knows!

It will be starting in about ten minutes. I'll be working on a background style for a future project, and maybe take some doodle requests.


Solarcharm's Profile Picture
Jelly Bean
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United States
Lovely ID courtesy of :iconthe-b3ing:.


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Artooinst Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Fantastic artwork :3 very origional
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you!
Artooinst Featured By Owner Feb 18, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
Anytime ^w^...
James-the-Typhlosion Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
*hands upside down from a tree* o3o
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
What's up? (*ba dum chhh*)
James-the-Typhlosion Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Not much~ you?
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Ehehehe, sorry for the late rely. What's up is settled back at home for winter break. And also wondering what Pete and Pye will get up to next~
(1 Reply)
Rocket0634 Featured By Owner Nov 23, 2014
Water you doin on my DA?
I hope you didn't get lost!
Solarcharm Featured By Owner Nov 24, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
Nope, I've got a map right here! It says that this is the River River.
Dragon-Tamer795 Featured By Owner Oct 9, 2014
Have an incredibly enjoyable birthday!
Hope your year goes great~
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