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A place for the stories that take place within Rhy'Din
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Reiko Souma
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Home Revisited

Post by Reiko Souma » Wed Jul 03, 2019 10:46 pm

14 January 2017

There were messes everywhere. Left, right, above, below...I tried to scrub vigorously, but nothing seemed to give.

It had been the very last thing that I wrote during the last of my days in Rhy'din. Boy, was I in terrible shape then. Don't ask me to try remembering, either. Specifics no longer come to me. It was as if some things were but a dream, one that came and went like the weather patterns. All I knew was, the me of that day had been referring to the messes of my life that I only know, I could no longer clean up on my own.

Just over two years have passed since my hometown was my home once more, and I had bidden Rhy'din farewell. There were good people, not so good people, and the rest of them who I left behind. There were loved ones, friends and acquaintances, and strangers. Everybody else, really. Some of them, I had been unable to say good-bye to because I knew I would see them again at some point. Most of them, I've seen this week.

There are but two who I would really like to catch up with. Unfortunately, my time here in Rhy'din is almost at its end before I must return home once more. Sahlia, Wynn, Alin, and Ebony have been tending to my shop in my absence that I could never burden them with an extension to my leave. Maybe next time, I'll bring them with me for my next visit to Rhy'din.

Has anything really changed about this world at all? Yes, and I'm glad for it. These changes seem to be nothing short of positive in nature, a renewal in harmony, if I may. I like these changes. What I like more is that I've been able to relax. Some part of me has apparently wanted to do nothing but relax in Rhy'din for more than a few hours or so, and now I rest easy during each night with the peace of mind and relaxation that I get the feeling hasn't always come to me so easily.

Now, to figure out how I want to spend my last four days in Rhy'din...I'm sure there's some kind of festival coming up that I can get in on. Right?
Last edited by Reiko Souma on Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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7 July 20xx

Post by Reiko Souma » Sun Jul 07, 2019 1:29 am

The Tanabata, Star Festival...the weather was just perfect for such an event. Mind you, I had no idea that this was going to happen. Oi vey! It must have taken me a good three or four hours to find a shop that still had any yukata and geta in stock, but I had prevailed. Knowing that I would likely be out pretty late meant getting in a little bit of a nap after enjoying some lunch.

Who would have thought that I would end up trying my hand at smashing a watermelon tonight? Pun intended, of course. A demonstration video that I had watched after work one night had inspired this, seeing as how we had smashed watermelons during Golden Week for the last two years. Unlike the video, I wanted to avoid any risk of injury to my hand when I did attempt the karate chop, so I used some of my own aura as a forcefield of sorts. I need both of my hands for work, after all.

Speaking of work, carving that wooden trophy for the new Baroness in the limited amount of time that I had proved to be a challenge. There was no way I could finish it without the aid of my telekinesis; now I only hope that Yeardley enjoys it as much as I enjoyed the challenge of carving it so quickly.

Between speed-carving trophies and smashing watermelons, one of which a mage by the name of Icbani had frozen as a means of giving me a good challenge, finishing the night with a good fireworks show set to music was a welcome relief. The finale proved to be a bit much for my ears and eyes, but I made it through without any major issues. Here I am now, thinking back on my previous few days here in Rhy'din.

The thought of today being my last day here are bittersweet, but I know that I belong in Terra no matter how much I may enjoy visiting any other planet or realm. Rhy'din is no exception here. Visit briefly or visit on vacation as many times as I want or am able to, my life is in my hometown of the dangerous Camden, New Jersey. I'll be sad and miss everybody I had a chance of reuniting with or meeting, but I'll also be happy. Why? It means I'll have more to look forward to the next time I come to Rhy'din. Until then, once I've had a good night's sleep, I'll be able to enjoy my last day here with all my might.

Thank you, all of you, for making me feel welcome here and for reminding me that I haven't yet been forgotten by everybody in Rhy'din.
Reiko Souma
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24 July 20xx

Post by Reiko Souma » Fri Jul 26, 2019 9:40 pm

Waking up at home is usually comforting, the feeling of knowing that a good night's sleep was gotten with peace all around. Fluffed-out pillows, favourite blanket...and so on. The makings of an almost perfect night.

Waking up at sickbay, on the other hand...not so much. Where did I wake up this morning? At sickbay. More specifically, the Rhy'din Air and Space Guard sickbay. Smooth move for me, not even being nice enough to say hello to the ones who had brought me there to begin with. Or one. Huh. How did I end up here..?

More importantly, what are Shourim and my employees going to think when they show up at the store and not see me there with the doors open?

That part was taken care of with a phone call, fortunately. Situations like this are why I had left a backup key to the back entrance in a communal location. Shourim also had a key, so he was opening up the store for me this morning whilst I gathered myself.

Recollections of last night. Right. I had been watching duels in the Outback and lost a bet to Amaris over Matt's duel. Leftover cookies had been had, just like a good time in general. Then I saw a Slash being used in a Swords duel against old man Matt, and it could only be described as a memory that seemed to unfold. It was brief, but it also had holes. I had duelled someone who had their own gospel of 3:16 that, simply put, took issue with the use of Slash. The one who had said this was the part I had tried so hard to remember, at least until I asked Matt who it had been. G. How could I have forgotten something so simple?

It was no matter, for I was homebound after this. Or, I thought I was...

(That morning)
There was no chirping alarm clock to be heard as the pink-haired Albino came to, her lashless eyes sliding open slowly. Directly above her was a set of lights that were bright enough to force her eyes to slid shut until they were open in slits now. This wasn't her bedroom on Terra...nor was this any place on Terra at all. Where was she?

"Oh good, you're awake. Do you know where you're at?" a woman asked. She had walked over to check on Reiko and decided on sticking around for an extra moment upon the Albino waking up. Now the uniform-wearing brunette was watching the barely-awake woman slowly shake her head no. "You're at the Rhy'din Air and Space Guard. Sickbay. Matt brought you here."

Matt...Matt. Oh, she means the old man. Who'd have thought that he would bring her to a place like this? Reiko hadn't been to any sickbay in years, not since her days of serving in the SDF. "I owe the old man my thanks in the form of a drink. So, what happened to me?" she asked. The energy needed to function was starting to come to her. Blood circulated throughout her body as she moved her arms and then sat up. She didn't feel any worse, only better.

The woman, whose name badge sewn to her chest above her left breast pocket read Lauren, watched Reiko carefully. She could tell by the reactions that Reiko was no stranger to the sickbay. "According to him, you suddenly collapsed at the Outback. You have no injuries that require any attention."

Reiko looked to her right for her phone and found it next to her pillow. Into her pocket that went. "So, I'm good to go? I can go back home to Terra and get my shop open for the day?" the Albino asked. "I mean, I feel perfectly fine. Better, actually."

"Not quite." Come again? It didn't go over so well with Reiko when she was told that anyone who collapsed in Rhy'din and ended up at sickbay was to remain in Rhy'din for at least twelve hours longer. It was to ensure that no further medical episodes occurred during that time, which meant a visibly unhappy Reiko had to make alternate arrangements for her store to be opened and run.

"Will I be able to get some breakfast, at least?" she had to ask. She had medicine to take, and it required food.

And, that was how she ended up staying in Rhy'din for the day.


Phone calls were made, reassurances of my health were given, and Shourim's reminder to take my medicine came with my dry response of polite gratitude. For the first two hours, I was to stay at sickbay. As Lauren had said to me earlier, it was a precaution. Yeah, I was familiar with those. Stay put for the first two hours to eat and medicate if necessary, do some stretches and basic calisthenics, and then be on your way once the two hour mark was reached without incident.

Well, those two hours came and went just a smidgen too slow. I must have done one hundred pushups and jumping jacks (each) after eating, taking my medicine, and doing my stretches. Wearing yesterday's clothes into today was out of the question, so Kabuki Street was my first stop in my unexpected day trip in Rhy'din. It was nice to see such beautiful decorations along the way as I looked for a clothing store. Go figure, there were casual clothes and dresses that suited my style, such as this beautiful black dress with music notes and clefs. Not bad for Kabuki Street!

Fortunately, the Red Dragon Inn had some goblins who were nice enough to let me use the kitchen for some cooking. I had received an e-mail about a double-header challenge that night, one that was a potluck, and wanted to bring something to the table. What's one thing that the average folk loved? Meat, especially bacon, unless they were vegetarian or followed some other diet. Sorry, guys...the carnivores were getting spoiled.

Long story short? I'm now adding a special trophy section to my store, exclusively for the citizens of Rhy'din. Why? At this rate, I was going to end up making a trophy every week, and my employees were going to be pretty busy with painting them.
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1 August 20xx

Post by Reiko Souma » Fri Aug 02, 2019 8:25 pm

Strange things are afoot. Whether they be consistent through the world of Rhy'din and even include others remains yet to be seen, but one thing is definite: it's focused in Rhy'din. There would be more to the definite list than that if they were known; considering I only come to Rhy'din to join the audience for duels and challenges, as well as attend special festivals and events, nothing else can be ruled-out or confirmed. Too many questions simply remain unasked with no known answers, mainly because there was too little information.

What I consider strange, for one, is how the duellist I'm not cheering for ends up winning their duel. My psychic abilities couldn't be to blame for this one since I wasn't using any of them, so how..? All I have is the possibility of my having jinxed those I wanted to see as winners, or so I thought. Ack. I really am not sure where I'm trying to go with this one, other than the probable power behind one's words. Yeah, that was where I wanted to go with that. Either the power of my words triggered the opposite effect, or something else is responsible for this, was the initial conclusion.

As of tonight, not anymore! I was visiting for a challenge at the Arena, which was the start of a typical visit. An added amount of motivation had come to me in the form of searching for someone who had called some of my past duels. Joker. He's not someone I would put at the top of a party invitation list because of how verbally graphic he could be at times, but he was worth seeking out because I like his unique style otherwise. I hope to find him so that he could be the first to call my duel in Swords, but until then, I prefer to watch the duels.

And, what a duel it was last night! Amaris had challenged Alasdair; by this time, I had settled in with the decision to refrain from cheering for anybody because of what I had just written. The only difference was that I was actually expecting someone tonight. Thank Fate, Tomomi showed up. He was the first to not blow me off, which I greatly appreciate, and we watched the single-round challenge together. Unfortunately, Amaris didn't emerge the victor, but I'm still happy for Alasdair being able to defend his title. Note to self: find him and ask for his favourite colours to put on the trophy.

If I thought that things were strange in general already, then they definitely became stranger as the night went on. Nothing was strange about any of the pies, which I was only happy to join everyone in taking some of. What was strange, was what came next. I was licking blueberries off of Tomomi's finger! Even more, nobody batted an eye or yelled about getting a room! This may be Rhy'din with a lot of things happening in general, but for nobody to react to what could very well have been interpreted in one of several ways is very strange to me. Maybe that's a good thing...

...there are some things which won't be repeated from the recesses of my memories onto these pages. Things which are clearly meant to be secrets will go with me to my grave when that time comes; I'll leave it at the possible confirmations of the stranger-than-usual happenings in this world.

I'm not sure if anything more needs be said here, other than this being the first I've ever had anything licked off of me by someone. The tongue reminded me of a fox...just the thought of this brings that hot blush back to my face. Dear Fate, what in the world is the matter with me to be blushing like a mad fool? What even is going on anymore? Have my psychic abilities finally started to go awry with random targeting that I cannot control? Something really is happening, and I gain concerns that it might be affecting me more than it ought to.
Last edited by Reiko Souma on Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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7 Oct 20xx

Post by Reiko Souma » Mon Oct 07, 2019 6:27 pm

At the top of the first page is a blank space where there should be writing. This is indicative of Reiko's inability to think of anything to start her entry off with and is perhaps also a reminder to refer to this space again later.

The entry doesn't actually start until a third of the way down the page.


What is the difference between a storm on the outside and a storm on the inside? After all, both of them are very much visible at some point. Who sees the storm first is the answer.

Amidst the steady flow of increased business at the shop, a melancholy spirit lingers. It looks nearby, as if seeking the attention of the aware that something is soon to transpire. With the sixth sense being possessed for close to three decades meant the attention was captured. Prevent its development into something that could become a bit of a black cloud; do everything possible to keep it at bay or, better yet, banish it completely. The chosen option was to banish it completely by taking advantage of every opportunity to be as productive as possible.

Where even is this going?

All that can be said at this point is, the melancholy has been banished...at least for now.
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8 Oct 20xx

Post by Reiko Souma » Tue Oct 08, 2019 4:30 am

The entire page with this date at the top is blank.

What had started off as a moment of sudden inspiration, the same way that one experiences an adrenaline rush, was drained away the instant the day's date was written at the top of the page. The reason behind this is largely unknown...writer's block, maybe? Or, maybe Reiko took a look at what she had written just yesterday and is now half-tempted to tear said paid out. Today's date is the only thing written on the page's backside, after all.

With a slow, deep breath, Reiko picks up her pen and makes a second attempt of writing something. Anything.


Word. Words and sentences. Thoughts.

That's all she could muster for now. She's wondering why her thoughts suddenly evaporated from her. It's not like she's drunk or under the influence of anything. Yeah, she had to be given a checkup by Shourim upon her return to Terra early Monday morning to make sure her anaemia wasn't going to interfere anytime soon (especially following Saturday night's...happenings at the Inn). But, she was ruled fine by her guardian. Reiko simply didn't understand.

Just write the first thing that comes to my mind. I mean, that's what free-writing is supposed to be about, right? Just write and write without pausing to think about what you're supposed to be writing about, but that's the problem. I was all prepared to write about exciting things that have been happening lately when my mind suddenly went as blank as a newly-washed blackboard. Maybe if I write out what I'm going to backpedal to with words of association...

Excitement
Joy
Business
Woodcarving
Employees
Relief
De-Stress
Calm
Hobby
Inn
Kittens
Mayflower
Empathy
Bond

Upon writing the name, Reiko was forced to stop again. This time, it was for a good reason. Her word association had succeeded in helping her to reveal why it was that she had been so excited to begin with. The Albino had been hoping to find Bond and at least meet with him over tea. If her mind and heart were both in the right place, then the two of them had a lot to talk about - Reiko having a good deal of explaining to do to him, that is. She owed him more than a world of an apology that she wasn't sure he would be willing to forgive.

Not only that, she wanted to catch up with him, at least as friends. Finding him would be difficult enough because she knew how busy he was with his job. Being able to convince him to catch up with her over tea was, the woman thought, going to be even more difficult. What if he said no? Reiko would have no choice but to really move on once and for all, no matter how much it would hurt to have to do.

There it was, now. That sudden burst of a desire to write had returned, only now it was for a completely different reason.


Even if I never tell another soul, I'll at least have it written down for the sands of Fate to engrave on my behalf. There is no other way around everything that will follow.

Bond, I miss you. When I left you alone during the night, I did so with what I thought was the purest of intentions in bettering my life. I'd had no idea of just how broken I was before my return to Terra, at least not before I ended up on Sho-Sho-kun's doorstep. Whilst I lack most of the memories of what had taken place after I reached out to him for help - and believe me, I did try to remember in vain - my memories of our time together still remained intact.

Looking back now, I can see that those would-be intentions were quite selfish. Cowardly. How dare I leave you behind in the way that I had that night, and then expect you to want to have tea with me after three years? I sure do have a lot of nerve, quite the set of upper balls, to even ask for such a thing. How. Dare. I. I have to do a lot of earning if I want to be able to speak with you again.

(Though...I have just as much a set of upper balls to think that I can expect anybody else to want anything to do with me either, let alone forgive me, no matter how much I may hope for it...)

This is my reality to face. I can hope and pray and wish all that I want, but as long as any selfishness is evident, even the slightest trace of it, Fate can just as easily look down at me with laughter. What would you want, Bond?

Damn. I am pretty hopeless, aren't I..? I can skate around it all that I want, but I really wish I could tell you.

今でも愛してる。
Reiko Souma
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10 October 20xx: Typical Day at the Shop

Post by Reiko Souma » Sat Oct 26, 2019 12:58 pm

The wood shop that Reiko started three years ago is a business that comprises of three separate, but otherwise connected, buildings. The first is the biggest and is the store where customers are free to mill about with curious inquiring eyes, whether admiring the carved wooden sculptures they see or deciding that a particular one or two doesn't suit their fancy. Every sculpture that beholds their eyes has been carved by hand, for the most part, and sanded down by hand or by a small machine to give the smooth texture that one sees with most sculptures. Located by the register is a two-metre high refrigerator with non-alcoholic beverages and various small snacks to sell. Next to that is a locked cabinet with other tasty edibles. Customers must request these from the employee who mans one of the two registers. A small office for the manager on duty sits behind this, as does a separate office for Reiko. Lastly, a break room in the corner greets the employees.

The second building is a bit smaller than the store and is connected to it by a wide glass tunnel. It was Reiko's idea to have this put in and line it with cushioned benches all around for her employees to find inspiration for a new sculpture. Those who seek inspiration in the winter will be able to find it without having to brave the elements outside, whether that includes snow, ice, or simply sheer cold temperatures. Of course, that didn't mean that venturing outside was forbidden. One simply understood that their health was in their hands, and that common sense was to be exercised.

Once inside of the second building, there are portable tools, supplies, and safety gear clearly labelled and in their proper place on every wall. A safety manual with canary yellow covers sits in its yellow hanger wire mount nearest the entrance and emergency exits for all to see and have easy access to, and the rest of the space has tables for people to work. Go through the doorway into another room of equal size, and that's where all of the machines are. Each one serves a purpose in either adding convenience in a professional sense, cutting wood to its desired size, or smoothing the texture. Two large tables sit in the middle of the room with plenty of room for anyone to work comfortably and, just like the previous room, two safety manuals sit in yellow hanger wire mounts by the entrance and emergency exit. Reiko doesn't mess around when it comes to safety.

The third and final building is the administrative building, which also doubles as a medical centre with an office for Shourim. Because he works out of both the administrative building and the local hospital, he has his eye out for an assistant who can pick up in his occasional absences. Records, both computerised and on papers are kept here with Reiko's bigger office. The third and final room is a conference room with a lovely view of a sakura tree from the western window, a giant bay window. One may notice that this building has no glass tunnel to connect with the other two. This is deliberate on Reiko's part, intended to ensure that any wandering customer never venture past the black gothic-styled fence that surrounds the building. A code is required in order to pass through the gate, one that is unique to every employee. Only Reiko and Shourim can bypass said code with a simple slap from the palm of their hand in emergencies.

Reiko's workday begins at eight o'clock. A complete reversal from her not being a morning person in the very least is that she now wakes up at the crack of dawn. The Keurig machine is preset to make coffee at six o'clock whilst she readies herself and makes a simple breakfast of warming a croissant with butter. Out the door she goes after being awake for an hour to unlock and start setting up for another day of business. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are made ready; beverages and food are stocked, all in the break room. By the time the openers arrive, all is ready to go. They're only pressed into service earlier in the morning on days that Reiko's health betrays her, which fortunately has been few and far between lately.

The store itself doesn't open until eight-thirty, but there are customers waiting in the parking lot before then. An occasional customer will try to shake the doors in vain, as Reiko is only too happy to give a "Halloween scare" by letting them see the pink glow in her eyes. No customer has yet repeated their acts of impatience following such an encounter, nor have any who witnessed this ever attempted to try a first time. Their impatience wanes once the doors do open, and it's all business until eight o'clock at night. Whoever isn't handling the sales is in the workshop. Reiko? She's usually in the workshop with her employees if she doesn't have to handle the record books and pay those taxes that day.
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10 Nov 20xx

Post by Reiko Souma » Sun Nov 10, 2019 10:12 am

"Stranger things have happened," almost always seemed to be the default response given to those who would give their version of something "strange" happening. With the rare exception otherwise coming, stranger things did and still do happen. Whenever that applied, the new response would then become, "That is strange."

A pinpointed time for the strangeness to begin, in this case, was with Marina suddenly being abducted before she could start her first day of work. She was a seasonal hire for the front end of the business, one who had interviewed quite well. There had been no unusual patterns during the in-depth, much more thorough examination that came as an unspoken polygraph test, so why she had become a target for a pack of black goblins was simply one of the stranger things to come across whatsoever. It also raised a set of questions which revolved around how they were able to access a portal to Terra at all. How?!

Somebody had done near screwed up was how. Unless these goblins had donned some damn good disguise or even possessed some kind of deception-based ability to trick their way past the portal guardians, they should not have been able to leave their world. Their world, as suspected, was Rhy'din...unless there were some other planets out there that sprouted black goblins out of the wazoo. Seriously?

Marina had been missing for three days by then, and a certain business owner had been searching the entire time. Realising that the results would be empty and laced with failure without some added strength, a particular resource was utilised to recruit some help. Who would have thought that the help to be hired was an incredibly hot man with perfectly long jet-black hair? Phew! Those guns, even...

...right. Composure. Added muscle to help bring Marina back. That's where this was going. Certain assets were revealled as mere teasers to see whether Hellion was a man to take his job seriously. As it would turn out, he was, and he was able to bring the missing employee back alive within three days. He had also brought back the heads of every single goblin in a duffel bag. Yeah. Hellion deserved a generous bonus for his punctuality and "professionalism" (did that apply here?). Unfortunately, he hasn't been seen since, which was a damn disappointment.

Now for the next level of strange. Once Marina had been thoroughly examined at the hospital with a long-term treatment plan outlined for her, Thursday and Friday afternoons were being spent at The Anchor for a couple of hours each. Some of the discussions had been rather deep, but it was the continuous return, week after week. Sometimes all smiles, sometimes weepy, and sometimes just...there. It depended on the week.

That level of strange had been reached last night with a monumental level of, "What the fuck?" Things had seemingly gone fine and dandy at the Inn - at first, anyways...but then that old man came about and wanted to know how a mere sentence would have been completed! And then, when challenged to try getting it out, proceeded to lay on the charms and flirtations hard and thick! What? No! No means no, you old fool, and I'm not changing my mind!

Not even a handshake had been acceptable with this man. No, no compromises...he wanted that kiss, and badly. Stubbornness would eventually meet its ultimate match, but not before I was forced to resort to a technique that had come along with the practise of Fate. Nobody needs to know what the words were that I had uttered, nor who had taught them to me. All they needed to know was that it made a terrific escape route to the roof when one needed to collect themselves...yes!

Don't celebrate just yet, the silent warning loomed close by. Whilst a small group was gathered outside doing who knows what with zombies and the like, I was just trying to maintain some distance between Tass and myself. Too bad it was as short-lived as expected, and he had found me quickly. Ugh. Even worse, I had succumbed to a cold that I had been trying to quietly fight for the last four days now. Great...the old man ended up getting that kiss to my cheek after all, by the way, and I'm now trying to sleep all of this off in my hotel room.
Reiko Souma
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22 Nov 20xx

Post by Reiko Souma » Sun Nov 24, 2019 3:53 pm

That night had brought an evening of delicious food and drinks to be shared with all. It certainly was a pleasure to work with Amaris by helping her out with the menu. When approached by her with the invitation to join or help out, she had no idea that she was asking a veteran. The conversation that followed entailed filling her in on the general details of service in the S.D.F. because, let's face it, there are more details that can't and won't be mentioned than there are that can be. The psychologist calls it Complex Combat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. There had also been implications of Survivor's Guilt that remain buried with certain other details of those years past.

A collection drive had also been taken up to benefit the veterans who are homeless. The amount of support that was shown that night through the generosity of so many who donated, it was quite overwhelming. It also brought about a rather emotional response that it took a conscious effort to hold back the tears and emotional tone that would have otherwise been used. To all who came out to the Inn tonight, thank you so very much.

As a bonus, Reiko will be holding a meeting with all of her employees on Monday, where she will be proposing the idea of donating a good-sized portion of the store's proceeds from their sales towards the building of subsidised housing for the homeless veterans of Rhy'din and her location on Terra. She will also be proposing the idea of a food drive throughout the month of December, which will also be split amongst the homeless veterans and food pantries of both Rhy'din and her location on Terra. If both are given the proper support and necessary votes, then these will be presented to the Governor's Office on the following business day.
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03 Jan 20xx - Of a Painful Past Confronted, Part 1

Post by Reiko Souma » Sat Jan 04, 2020 4:18 pm

This is part of an ongoing storyline with Reiko Souma, Guddesk the Illithid, Ben the Butcher, Roni, Amaris, and Mist. Of note is the full credit given to Guddesk's role-player for this concept of how one can be healed through their memories.

A pre-scheduled maintenance on the Intergalatic Transit Line had escaped Reiko's attention. The company had sent out numerous e-mails to first inform, and then remind, their customers that all of the routes to the United States would be down for the duration of two days. Friday was day one, so imagine the fool that the ravenette felt when she drove to the station to make her travel from Rhy'din to Terra, only to be informed that completing her trip was not possible until Sunday. Baffled at first, she had thanked the attendant before taking leave. Then she decided that there had to be something more, some reason that might have eluded her knowledge, and a call to customer service was made. Sure enough, she was given the information about the maintenance. Not only were they being reprogrammed to accommodate an increased frequency of travel between planets, the system administrators were closing a loophole that passengers had been taking advantage of to save money on intercontinental travel. No more. They either travelled to another planet, or they utilised other means of travel within Terra.

Now that Reiko was stuck on Terra for most of the weekend, some quick texts were sent to Shourim and her opening manager. Fortunately, both understood the situation and were more than forgiving. As long as Reiko kept her head screwed on straight, her guardian was not concerned. He needn't know that his adopted daughter has been spending much of her time at Ben's cabin, or that she's been trying to improve her interpersonal relationships. He would certainly be proud of her for that, at least. Oh, but they could catch up in a couple of days. Until then, it was back to said cabin Reiko went.

She had to give the guy - Ben, that is - a lot of credit for not only putting up with a lot of the shenanigans that went on, but with more people coming to his cabin. Yes, that included that one friend who had accidentally set fire to the cabin. Reiko had felt guilty and partly responsible because of her friend being the guilty party, that she had spent half of the night fixing up the area of the cabin that had been affected by said fire. She hadn't done it alone, of course...now, the same cabin owner was serving up breakfast and letting Reiko and Guddesk - who she swore had some kind of special attachment and fondness towards her - help him put the finishing touches on the sauna that he had been working on.

The three of them were soon enjoying the first session inside of it. Reiko's three scars were in full view as she wore her black bikini, two from the war and one from having had a skin graft done following a tattoo removal. Ben's tattoos, most of them anyways, had their own significance, and Guddesk had his own to tell. As wonderful as it was for the three to sit together, Reiko had forgotten about one little detail: Albinos aren't supposed to sit in a sauna for more than five minutes. She had been in their for twenty! No wonder she was covered in first-degree burns all over the place! Reiko and Guddesk hurried inside to the bedroom where she had ditched her winter clothes at, all in favour of the Illithid voluntarily letting her use some of his salve to aid with burn relief.

As soon as the cream was on her palm, she started to rub it into her skin. The inside of her hands first, and then the outside. "Thank you," she said. Reiko watched for signs of it taking effect or some kind of reaction, whichever came first. However, there was no adverse reaction to be had. She watched as it instead took effect on her burned hands right away. "Wow...this works like a charm! You-I mean, would you be willing to help me apply more of it to my back, please? I can get most of me." She looked over the bright pinks and reds of her otherwise white skin. There was a lot of work to be done. "Look...about that method you used on Ben. That's what I want to talk to you about. Do you know...I mean, do you think it'll work on someone who has years upon years of really bad and painful memories? Like-like me?"

He paused behind her mid-step as she spoke and shimmied quickly into fabric...he hesitated as he looked at the cream, and then nodded. "I can help." He personally hated the stuff, but it could not be helped. He took another small dollop out of the container and rubbed it upon his hands, carefully reaching out to apply it to the woman's back, careful of the more strappy bits of her top. Those he pinched carefully between two fingers and lifted, quickly applying a thin layer of the salve before gently replacing them. "It will take some time, years and years of pain...it is not instant. And I will not erase them, Reiko." A warning came then. "I simply make them hurt less." He backed away then, done swiping at the hard-to-reach spots on her back, and took the towel left for him earlier, wiping them clean before tucking them beneath his tentacles, letting them wrap his hands. When he pulled them out, they were nice and protected once more in half the time it took to secrete the necessary skin protectant from the skin. "If you would like, I could help. However...I would ask something of you, as well." Service, after all, was hardly free.

With Guddesk working on her back, she was able to work on her arms, her chest, her neck, and her face. That left only her legs...and a particular area that was best done in private later on. "The memories I'm referring to, most of them have already been suppressed by months of sessions with a hypnotist. My guardian - you may have heard me speak of him a couple of times - insisted that this be done when I first returned home to see him four years ago. Long story aside, I'm probably one of the most screwed-up humans you'll ever meet once you take a glance at my memories. Ah, after we discuss the rest of the details." Such as the terms and conditions, that is, including the price. Reiko was working on her legs now. "You won't ask for money as payment, considering you and I are both quite rich in finances...what is it that you'll ask of me, then?"

He was buttoning his shirt as she asked him and paused, looking up. "I am no cook. I haven't eaten properly in years. I'd like for someone to cook at my establishment...maybe you could help me...train a kitchen. Or rather...the people in it. I wouldn't know a ladle from a spoon, really." He resumed his work on the buttons and straightened the collar as he finished. "Don't think that you are broken, Reiko. Or that you can't be fixed. It is unfortunate...humans rarely live long enough to healthily work through some of the things they must witness." And by then, they were too old to care anymore. A tragedy, really.

The woman was done applying the salve to the parts of her that weren't overly private by then. She turned to face Guddesk again as the effects of the salve, really cold to the touch, worked on the burns all over herself. "If I agree to this, then will I be able to train people in the evenings? After I come from work, that is...I have my business to run during the day, as you may well be aware of." Her face softened, almost to a slightly pained level added in, at the rest of his words. "That's what Mist tried to tell me last night...well, when I was acting weird by Amaris' standards. When I looked heavily-focused on fixing that roof last night? It was because Mist was trying to reassure me that I'm not so broken that I can't be fixed, that I'll come back stronger. And then...he made me remember why it is I do half of the stupid things that would probably make you blush if you knew what I've done."

"I don't blush," he said simply. He stepped closer and reached up, removing a smudge of salve from her cheek, before swiping the fingertip on the towel and looking back down to Reiko, tilting his head. He was looking down upon her and gently patted her head. "We all make bad decisions, sometimes. Some are actions, some are people. Nobody is immune." A hair out of place, fixed by two fingers smoothing it into line with the others. "And even broken things make for beautiful mosaics."

Guddesk might not be one to blush, but Reiko was at times, and she had recalled looking away from Ben as she had blushed at his remark. What had she been thinking? "Some, more so than others, as has been my case." Reiko's hair was still pulled away from her face in a bun, so it only made sense that there would be hair out of place. "Depending on the pattern of the broken pieces, maybe...maybe what I should be asking is, to make painful memories hurt less, how long might it take if there are memories which are excruciatingly painful?"

"Depends on the memory, really. And how I decide it needs to be fixed. What works for one, may not work for another. Each session would be different, depending on what I see." He hooked a finger beneath her chin, lifting, and the skin around his eyes wrinkled in that strange illithid smile. "No need to worry about how long it takes. As long as you listen to my voice, you'd feel very few unpleasant emotions. And when it is all finished, it will be...different. The same, in some ways, but different in the ways that count." A thumb brushed across the cheek before he hesitated and took a step back. "You do not ask an artist how the paints make a picture, or a potter how the clay makes a vase...because it is often the hardest question to answer, and to understand. I can only show you by doing it. If you're ready, I can proceed... but if you are unsure, it's best to wait."

That made sense. As had been witnessed, for instance, some people were more sensitive to magic than others. Others were more sensitive to hypnosis than some. She understood that quite well. "One such memory that the hypnotist had a lot of trouble with...it involved the simultaneous deaths of both of my parents. Even now, every time their anniversary comes up, I still cry like I had when I was seven." Reiko saw that his eyes were smiling when her chin was lifted, and the thumb across her cheek before the contact ended. "It's going to be twenty-five years in three months. That is way too many years for me to continue grieving, Guddesk. I...want to not have to cry over their deaths anymore. Not like I did then. Can you...would you be able to help me with that? Please? I have a feeling it might help with some of the healing that the hypnotist couldn't cover."

He was thoughtful for a moment, and then nodded. It was an unfortunate incident, he was sure...he motioned to the bed, for her to sit, and rubbed his hands together. He nearly smoothed his clothes, then realized there was nothing to smooth that wasn't already quite fitted. He hadn't tucked in his shirt, so he opted to do this, instead, shoving thin fabric into denim...he had some semblance of what he was to look for now, and this pleased him. Already, he felt as if he'd taken very long strides toward his dream of a more peaceful existence, something opposed completely to how he had started this life. Yes...he would end his story here, hopefully healing more scars than he'd caused.

By now, the burns that had covered her from the sauna were sure to have been healed (except for the areas she hadn't been able to cover, that is, but that would have no effect on her ability to sit). Reiko sat at the foot of the bed, her hands coming to rest on her thighs. What Guddesk was going to discover now was, the Albino could be a surprisingly patient woman. She looked to him, waiting as patient as she could be. "I'm aware that there might be even more tears once you start, and that it might take some time. Knowing this, I still want you to do this, and I am ready when you are."

With permission given, he mounted the bed behind her, long legs splayed out on either side of Reiko, before he pressed his fingertips gently into her temples. That smooth voice would start talking in her head, and it sounded as if he were reading out of a book on botany, naming plants, their descriptions, and uses...he allowed this mindless memorized droning to continue as he got to the real work. There were many areas that seemed grey, and fuzzy, and he passed those...they'd already had some work done, and weren't what he was looking for, anyhow...he touched, he prodded, he called, he danced around more pleasant moments...and then found the blackness he sought. Here it was, a mass, cancerous and thick. Fingertips would push in slightly as his mind grasped at the memory...and dove in, wriggling into the darkness that was intent on keeping him out.

As if by cue, or perhaps based on years of experience and practise, the Albino shut her eyes. It was to aid with focus that would be needed, and it was needed. It was a necessity, for she then started to hear the smooth voice as it started to speak. Reiko was listening. She was listening carefully, being completely attentive and open-minded. It wasn't often that she allowed this to happen; in fact, this would only be the second. Mist had been the first to be granted permission to even take a peek into Reiko's mind at all.

Guddesk had been granted permission to venture deeper than anyone had ever been allowed to venture before. Feeling the fingertips press in slightly, Reiko had this feeling that the Illithid had located the one memory that she had mentioned. There it was, blacker than the coals of even the eyes that her parents had had. The first and perhaps even the greatest source of Reiko's torturous pain was there, a tough outer layer of painful cancer that Guddesk had somehow managed to successfully wiggle into.

He watched the scene play out, from Reiko's very own eyes, and could not seem to understand...it was...off. The memory was correct, he was sure, but it was tainted in some way. No matter. He could make use of this very crack. In Reiko's mind, he set to work...implanted ideas of foul play, sickness...why, nobody just collapsed like that. The sight of someone that made you smile did not cause you to fall dead on your face. Here, he found doubt was his best weapon. It was not the deaths that had scarred the girl so badly, though surely it did not help. No, it was the guilt. He wove doubt, laid it in small amounts here and there. Those would grow on their own. Before he left, he paused, and those smiles seemed to be brighter for Reiko, something to focus on in the darkness. Slowly, he retreated, and there was a temptation to look one more place...but he passed the colors of thought and memory, untouched in his travel, and, gently, pulled his fingers away from Reiko's temples. He would sit still now, and wait for Reiko to come back.

As the memory that had given the hypnotists so much difficulty in working with now started to play out before her like a film of sorts, the woman was already being visited with tears in her eyes. Questions that she had asked herself twenty-four, close to twenty-five years ago now, came rushing back to her as she watched. It was suddenly as if it was happening all over again, and oh was the guilt ever present. The guilt had brought on questions like, "What did I do wrong? Why are they looking at me like this? Am I going to get hit again?" Workings of doubt were being woven intricately in what Reiko saw as fine silver-coloured threads.

One thread questioned why she thought something wrong had been done. Another questioned if how they looked at her was supposed to be bad. Did a smile have to mean that something bad was to follow? Reiko was reminded of a comparison to the present day. She was able to smile, so why couldn't they try to start smiling then? How could she have done anything wrong when they had been away from her for a week? The smiles being the last thing she had seen before their fall in front of her, they seemed so much...fuller, more sincere - if that was even possible.

Reiko's face was damn near completely flooded with tears by now, but no effort was made to try wiping them away. "Okā-sama...Otō-sama...it wasn't your fault. You were trying to turn over a new leaf, as people like to say in our country." An idea of foul play had been introduced at some point. The rational mind knew what the child form of herself could have never known then: nobody who's otherwise completely healthy just falls down dead without something causing it.

Something had killed Reiko's parents. That much was obvious.

There had been no heart attack, no "giving up the ghost," so to speak, and no self-inflicted desires. No, it had clearly been murder. How could Reiko have missed this? Oh, right. She had been a child. To think, she had lived the remainder of her childhood as a mute following their deaths...she might have been mute anyways because they were dead, but who even knew? She might not have been mute for nearly as long if she had known the cause of death and understood it. No, Reiko might have wanted revenge.

It was too late for that now, though. Years too late, actually, so what more could she do but cry? It was as if the heaviest of weights were really cracking now, soon to shatter completely. Cracking all around, that was exactly what happened - but not without more tears with a final round of sobs to follow. Yes, Reiko was about to let go of one of the biggest sources of her pain. "Okā-sama! Otō-sama!" she would cry out as she made her way back into the here and now, the bedroom where this had started. Still in her bikini (she should really fix that now), she had bent over to her left without being aware of it and started to sob for what would eventually be the final time over the loss of her parents.

He was still at first, but soon found himself gathering Reiko closer, cradling the woman like a child, and wiping her face with his sleeve every now and again, so she wouldn't try to do so herself and inadvertently smoosh leftover salve into her eyes. He patted her back and seemed to envelop her completely, protectively. He'd expected something close to this, but didn't quite expect the effect it would have on him. Like a man with an injured pet, he was scared, he was determined to help, and he was livid. He said nothing, merely allowing Reiko to pour her emotions out. Empty the vessel so that it may be refreshed and refilled. Drain the poison, the pus of years of some dark infection. Break it, so it may heal aligned and correct.

Who even knew how long it would take for her mind to be fully drained of all of the emotions and pain that were tied to this one memory? There had been years of other painful memories which led to this one, one of which had been properly dealt with. That one memory which had been properly dealt with was the day her parents had branded her with the word, "Pink Widow." Nobody in their right mind did that at all, much less with a wired coat hanger. With the removal of the branded-on tattoo had meant the end of the first painful memory with psychological effects. This one, the loss of her parents to what she now knew to be murder, was the first major traumatic experience of her lifetime. She'd had absolutely no idea of how to respond at all then, let alone appropriately.

So much pain, even! In her continuing to come back, she started to become aware of her current position: bent over to one side with Guddesk holding her in comfourt. It had been the same kind of comfourt that she'd desired prior to then, only her guardian had been the one to provide it after. Now it was Guddesk who was doing what Shourim wasn't here to do: wipe her tear-soaked face, pat her back, and holding her like she was a child (in a sense, she sort of was, considering parts of her childhood had never matured).

Who would have thought that she would be able to find the answers to her twenty-five year-old questions one such a manner? Although Reiko had no idea of what memory Ben had confronted and had absolutely no intention of asking him, she now understood why it was that he had wanted to be alone for some time. Unlike Ben, however, being alone wasn't in the cards for Reiko. Not as long as she had combat-based Post-Traumatic Stress, that is.

The heavy sobs and crying would continue for another several minutes as the last of the pain and guilt were confronted and dealt with. Each doubt and suggestion that had been planted within her pertaining to this one memory had been exactly what the woman had needed in order to finally deal with what had affected her so deeply for so long. Would doing this cause her to become numb to her own emotions? No, not at all. As Mist had told her just the night before, Reiko would be like the bowl he had projected an image of into her mind then - broken, but not beyond repair, and able to become even stronger as a result of everything.

As the girl's sobs slowed, and she eventually fell into a hiccupping silence, he spoke, softly. "Reiko." Just the one word, only her name. He didn't know what to say yet. Was there anything you could say? Nothing. And so he remained silent after. He pulled her in closer, and tentacles withdrew from her, so that he could rest his head upon hers without the temptation to let them roam her face, poking and pulling and popping on her skin. An unpleasant thing, his affection, or so he'd been told. As this thought ricocheted in his own mind, he loosened his grip on her and lifted her gently, sitting her up. She was now laid across his lap, legs over his left, and he patted her back gently, perhaps in an attempt at imbuing some strength into her spine so she may sit under her own power. It was no easy stroll through a garden. He'd released something dark into the ether, and it would hurt for some time. He would feel none of this, he was only able to look on from the other side of some unbreakable barrier, and give encouragement. Like a thumbs up given to a falsely convicted criminal as they were led to the guillotine.

No amount of words could hope to be spoken after her name being spoken ended the silence that had been brought on with the quieting of her sobs into little whispers, although briefly. After her name was spoken came no other words, no verbal response from the woman that she would normally speak to give acknowledgement to the one who had successfully gotten her attention. There was no need for any spoken response from her when her body language alone was enough. When she was pulled in closer to the Illithid, she offered no resistance. His gestures of comfourt, even his head resting on hers for a brief moment, told her that he wasn't about to go anywhere. Reiko believed that with her entire being.

Then she found herself in what she might admit was a more comfortable position. With her legs no longer beneath the rest of her meant that any circulation that had taken reprieve from them could now make an effective return as meant to. The pats to her back were also helpful, and not just to revisit strength to her spine. They were helping her in making sure that her spine remained straight, not that there was any risk of scoliosis to be concerned with. As the last of the tears soon ceased to flow, the Albino could only sit in silence whilst feeling was gradually regained all throughout her body. This memory that had been confronted was easily the most painful of her early childhood. Oh, was Reiko painfully aware that there would be lingering amounts of hurt for an undetermined amount of time. Nothing was ever easy in life, this she knew, and as she opened her eyes at last, she would wrap her arms around Guddesk. Call it a means of silently communicating to him that she was aware and out of that darkest recess of her mind, if one might. It was also her way of, for now, thanking the Illithid for doing this for her. Motives behind the hug were nothing but pure, as was every hug that the woman gave to those who were willing to receive one from her. Reiko might always be like that of a child in that she was always transparent and sincere when it came to giving out a hug. If she was appreciative of something, as she was right now, then she would show it in the event that words should fail. They surely had failed for those moments.

Once again, he found arms encircling him, and his head tilted. There was no hesitation now, and he returned the gesture quite readily. He couldn't possibly understand her position right now, but was willing to be there as she sat in it. His own emotions were scattered, and confused. He would not voice this, but rather keep it to himself, to dissect later. For now, he was content in the warmth of the woman's arms, something familiar and strange all at once. For now, he was pleased with his work. Hope was allowed into the illithid's world. He reveled in the victory he was told he would never have. He'd done good in this world, and left behind the hurt he'd caused in the other. For now. No matter. The past was in the past, and the future was yet to come. It would be one of his own making. The present...this was something to look forward to. The contact held no strings, harbored no greed, and felt pure in a way that nearly washed him away. He swayed, and gave a groan, falling to his back. Tentacles curled upon each other lazily, and his eyes nearly closed, lids heavy. He'd lay here only a moment. He wasn't so vigorous as he once was, an unfortunate fact of his lack of diet, aside from the dwindling fungus he'd managed to snack on to keep what he did have...and a secret he defended, in fear of his relative weakness being seen as an exploit.

After some time, when she was ready, Reiko slowly removed her arms from around Guddesk and pulled back some. It was apparently on time, as she saw him sway and groan as he fell backwards onto the bed. What was this? Perhaps he's tired, or hungry and tired, was the first thought to come to her mind. It was the first conscious thought she was able to generate without thinking of what had transpired. Scooting off of his lap and sitting to one side of him on the bed, Reiko looked down with the softest of smiles. "Thank you. Guddesk, thank you so much for this," the Terran native spoke with a voice just above that of a whisper, but also one that was so full of sincerity.

There was a noncommittal and watery mumble, and one hand lifted, limply gesturing to his jacket. It dropped unceremoniously then, and he turned to his side, curling up into a near-fetal position. His eyes were still open, though only half-lidded; he seemed to be watching Reiko closely. One tentacle now caressed the other three, as if to wake them, or keep them so. Even it was lethargic and lazy, and did nothing more than writhe uselessly, before also falling still. He was not asleep, but perhaps rather simply still in this moment of weakness. There was a trust and a wariness in his look at Reiko...he could not quite move, and could not fight her off, had she decided to end his story there. It would be a quick and quiet death for the illithid, and he knew this all too well.

A concerned frown soon ushered across the Albino's face in place of her previous expression. What was he pointing to..? His jacket. There was something inside that he wanted her to retrieve for him. Reiko knew from years of experience that trust to retrieve something from one's person (er, Illithid) was difficult to come by these days, so she pointed at the same pocket to confirm that it was the pocket he wanted her to retrieve something from before her hand dared to venture inside. She did this carefully, not wanting to damage whatever it was that she was to fetch for him. She gingerly searched until she found it. A fungus, yes, or some other kind of food source that she now held in her hand. She held it out for Guddesk to take. "This is it, yes? What you wanted me to get for you?" Reiko asked.

He reached for it and took it gently from her hands. He was grateful she could not hear the choice words it had for the rough handling of the day, nor the string of curses as he pulled nearly half of it away, reaching to his own mouth beneath the tentacles. He consumed slowly and let the other half drop away, letting his eyes close, finally. Tentacles curled inward, and his arms pulled in, fingers curling closed until they each clutched a small amount of the fabric of his shirt. A voice in Reiko's head, and his head tucked in, hiding his face completely now behind his knees.

"I...understand. Please, let one of us know if we could do anything to assist you in the meantime." Reiko pointed at her left temple to indicate how she could best be reached. Then, finally gathering the clothes she had changed out of several hours ago, Reiko pulled them on over her bikini. She could hear other people inside now and wanted to be appropriately presentable, especially since one of the voices she had heard belonged to Amaris. Reiko definitely wanted to be appropriately dressed for her, but kept her flip-flops on. She was silent as she walked to the bedroom door, turning around to look back at Guddesk. Should I really leave him be like this after he had just helped me..? Reiko thought, only to continue on out of the room.
Last edited by Reiko Souma on Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:55 am, edited 3 times in total.
Reiko Souma
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Location: Camden, NJ, Terra; visits Rhy'din on vacations
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07 January 20xx - Of a Painful Past Confronted, Part 2

Post by Reiko Souma » Wed Jan 08, 2020 10:44 am

("Of a Painful Past Confronted" is an ongoing storyline as portrayed primarily from Reiko's perspective. Current participants are Azriella, Ben (Butcher Ben), Guddesk, Reiko Souma, and Tomomi; participant list will be updated as more characters are introduced, not including any player-made NPCs.)

Just before the woman could come close to working her way halfway down Ben's back, he was suddenly falling backwards towards her. She quickly uncrossed her legs and slid forward to make room whilst catching him. !!! Just imagine the brilliant shade of pink that hurried onto her face now, quite unwilling to move with him nuzzling his head into her. "Sleep well, Ben," Reiko whispered, leaning in to very gently land a light kiss to the side of his forehead. All she could do now was find another blanket to spread over him telekinetically.

—•—•—•—

The woman has been awake for hours. There was the fireplace in front of her, the fire that had been burning in it sure to have died out as she slept. Even when Ben would eventually wake up, Reiko wasn't ready to move just yet. She was lost in her own thoughts; a self-reflection, if one might. It would then gradually transition into a full-blown session of meditation. To clear one's head periodically was a necessity from time to time, and boy did she need it.

It should be more than once a week that she did this, however, but best that it be done now than not at all. Typical of her meditation, her entire body would begin to glow with a pink aura which matched the colour of her eyes. The bottom of her hair would begin to rise some as the process of organising into compartments and otherwise clearing her head commenced. Whether anybody noticed or not, she neither noticed nor cared. Serene, undisturbed, and with even breathing, she dove deeper into the recesses of her own mind.

Maybe it was a good thing that Ben had relocated to his bedroom at some point. Reiko would surely have been unable to focus herself otherwise. Encased in her aura of pink azalea with more of her hair flurrying from the bottom, and she was then beginning to levitate. "Sanctus gloria mysterium..." The quiet chant flowed from her lips. By then, Reiko was in the middle layers of her mind, and she was only diving deeper. "...e lux, no maledicti." She was chanting in Latin, a long-dead language that a community of individuals was attempting to revive. It wasn't going too well. There weren't enough people involved in the effort; Reiko was most assuredly not one of those individuals. She just happened to have picked up on a little bit of the language from her priest.

The room would go quiet once more, her breathing remaining even and easy as she continued to sort and compartmentalise. It would then happen, something that she always dreaded. The first line of her painful memories came to her - not the one of her parents dropping dead before her from what she now knew to be a slow-working poison, but rather all of the torment that had been inflicted upon her before then. No longer was her breathing easy and even. Quickening, exhales coming as puffs as if she was fighting to stay composed, and she was fighting with herself.

"Guddesk!!!" the sudden telepathic cry would come from the Albino as she struggled to retreat from the recesses of her own mind. What had possessed her parents to ultimately reject her based on her looks alone, to do to her all that they had done prior to their last-ever vacation?

The call was a cry for help, a struggle that she was trying to not lose the battle to. Otherwise, Reiko was unaware of what was happening outside of her mind, let alone outside of the cabin. She was stuck, and she was trying to push the memories away from her before she could become lost to them. When she had wanted to try confronting her own painful memories on her own, this wasn't what she had in mind. What now?

"I...I have to fight this, just as I had been taught to do. I need to win this!" Unintentionally, her telepathy was radiating to anything, and anyone, who was nearby. This was not her plan whatsoever. She was pushing...giving a good push as she then started to exert her own energy towards the memory itself. "No maledicti lux, ejectus." She would repeat this a few times with intensity as the memory suddenly...

...shredded. The chains of pain attached to it had been shredded, all of a sudden. With a cry, the Albino retreated from her own head.

There were going to be tears, just as there had been when Guddesk had been given permission to aid in the confrontation of the woman's most painful memory ever. If that had been the most painful, then this one was a close second. Make that a really close second. It was entirely possible that the woman might have discovered on her own just how it was that the Illithid had used his own telepathic ability that night. Needless to say, there were several more chains that had just been severed.

Yet, as she would cry out the results of her meditative session for possibly the last time regarding the memories of abuse, her mind would pick up on only one word that seemed to echo from the same one she had called out to earlier. It was only one word, "help," and not one that sounded like it was urgent in any way. Perhaps it was an expression of his current mindset and the reason for no actual response being given to her earlier call. Whatever it was that warranted the single word communication, Reiko was in no position to offer any actual help right now. As it was, she sure did hope that she hadn't woken Ben from his slumber either.

Ben, speaking of, came down the stairs in a pink kimono robe, letting out a loud yawn as he stretched his arms over his head. The color was back in his face, the bounce back in his step, and the smile shining as bright as ever, "What's with all the commotion? Is the party startin' without me?" He saw only Reiko, sitting with tears running down her face; evidently the noise was not indicative of merriment. He crept quietly and carefully then, so as not to disturb her, but kept an eye on her as he moved to fix up a pot of coffee.

He would check his phone as well. Lots of messages; far too many to go through first thing of the day. He simply skimmed over a few, trying to get a sense of who all was trying to communicate with him, but continually glanced up and down between Reiko and the phone.

One hope that the woman had was, as she brought her knees to her chest and hugged them, the severed chains of pain associated with the memory would be as less as the previously confronted one. With that one, almost all of the tears were shed with the departing pain. With this one, there were more years to sort through. Up to seven more years to sort through with a search for a reason. Could she even be objective with this like Guddesk had been? Maybe not. He had been the neutral party to initiate the sewing of doubts, not Reiko herself.

Speaking of the Illithid, the woman was fairly certain that he was now trying to reach out to her for help. Hearing the echoed, but somewhat small and even strained plead, all the woman could do in her position was reach out and offer the closest thing to a calming wave that she could muster. Be sure that she was practising these on herself, the images of tranquility in the form of waterfalls and water trickling over piles of smooth rocks in a creek that she projected to Guddesk. All the same, she was hearing Ben's voice in passing. Lowering her head into her knees, she hoped not to embarrass herself with her crying as she attempted to calm her emotions some more. At the moment, the events from yesterday were far from her mind.

He stayed still for a bit, just observing. Surely she would have heard him, so that meant she would have addressed him if she needed anything. Right? But perhaps not. He left the coffee to brew and slowly stepped in her direction, finally stopping to kneel down in front of her, "Hey there. You doin' okay?" he asked softly.

Ben..? As her eyes finally ceased to produce unrestrained tears, the ravenette would find herself raising her head from her knees. Everything about the puffiness in her eyes indicated that she had been crying for more than a few minutes at this point. At least there had been no sobs this time, and she was surprisingly calm now. Those tranquil images she had projected to Guddesk, they had worked quite well - on Reiko, who lifted her head higher above her knees and wiped at her eyes with one hand. "I, I think I will be," came her admission. She looked to him.

"You look like you could maybe use a little rest..." he suggested with a raised eyebrow.

—•—•—•—

The woman had, following the last words that she'd heard Ben say to her, taken to lying back in front of the fireplace and falling asleep. When she awoke, she found herself alone in the cabin and blinked. What she had dreamt about, hands extended to help her climb out into a new plane, had only been a dream. It was relieving enough, to say in the least. Unless she was being carried to a bed, there was no way that she would ever allow anyone to just move her in her sleep, emergencies excepted.

Screams didn't escape her awareness as she stood from the floor. Gathering her senses, she moved about to the room where some of her things were. A clean outfit to wear...there were some of those in her duffel bag, including one that was entirely white. For some reason, it seemed necessary a colour for her to wear as the exchange in clothing was made. Seeing a pair of matching white shoes, those too were donned, and she set outside to locate everybody.

"Please...don't have done anything foolish, Guddesk," her telepathic voice reached out calmly.

From where he stood, Guddesk backed up a step, and a tentacle wrapped around the woman's brow, pulling her head closer to his. He looked as a cornered animal, back to his own cave, and his eyes darted back and forth. It was a long, tense moment before the tentacle seemed to slide down her cheek in defeat...she gave a great gasping breath as he all but let her go, eyes closing and face burying itself into her shoulder. "Kill it! You idiots, just kill it!" Beneath the cloak a flurry of arms and legs, as well as she could manage, but the illithid did not move. He did not react to the kicks, or the clawing fingers that dug into his arms. "FUCK!" The girl screamed. Guddesk's shoulders shook slightly, and suddenly, without any warning, he threw her toward them. She landed on all fours, and scrambled behind them, choosing to cling to Ben, pointing accusingly. "That thing is a danger! Quick! While he is weak!" The figure flinched at her words, but otherwise he did not move, did not lift his gaze to see how those before him looked upon him.

He shook the lady off of him, clearly having some reservations about placing his trust in her, "Woah, woah, okay...SLOW down now, folks." He drew one of his knives again and held it with an earth-grip, keeping his free hand out to establish distance, "I ain't doin' nothin' unless you really insist it's gotta be done. So just gimme the word, Squidward, and I'll have a pair of cement boots ready by tonight!"

"STOP." The sudden authoritative voice had come from Reiko, who had closed in on the location through her senses and her hearing. Her sunglasses were off, her eyes were glowing an intense shade of pink, and she was not happy. Not happy with this situation was what she was. She wanted to see it resolved peacefully, if at all possible, and stared at Guddesk and the one who had just cursed loudly. "By what authority do you two get to determine who it is that lives, and who dies, by anybody's hand?" Reiko asked. Her hands turned with the palms facing up, the two hands surrounded by the same colour aura that her eyes glowed.

There was a shudder that went through the Illithid at the sudden touch of his hands, and a flinch at Reiko's voice. There was no escape from what he'd nearly done, what he still so desperately still wanted. The woman, realizing no help would be given to her...went quiet and still. She rubbed the back of her neck, and held a red palm to the others, as if a final plea, as if the evidence of his hunger would be enough...Guddesk's eyes slid to the side, and closed, avoiding Azriella's gaze. Then, softly, he spoke. "Do what you will with her. If I see her again, I will finish what I started." He looked directly to her then, and she shrunk under his gaze, her voice issuing out reedy and thin.

"Gugu...love...we've been through worse, right? Dont you love me? We can live in your filthy cave together...just like old times!" As she spoke, she attempted to reach out to him, coming across some invisible barrier, which she put her palms on. "Look at all the friends you've made! You always were the best thing to happ-hrk!" Her words cut off with a choke, and he sighed.

"Shut. Up."

Azriella turned then, eyes on the woman as they grew dark and cold and, releasing one of his hands, shot one in her direction, pointing menacingly. "You stay right there, woman!" Just then she looked over and noticed Reiko had entered the clearing as well, and seeing the woman hit an invisible wall of sorts, glanced at the Albino and gave a nod of thanks before looking back to the woman. Seeing that he had telepathically clinched her throat to silence her, she turned back to him then, her eyes softening once more as she looked up and whispered. "It's ok, Guddesk," Her free hand went to his again, taking hold of it and squeezing. She noticed he avoided looking at her, but she persisted, her head tilting as it did and smiling up to him. "I promise?" She added nonchalantly as she dipped her head back some, indicating Ben without actually looking at him. "What he said."

Reiko, whose tone of voice was usually quiet in nature and soft in volume, maintained its recent change to the authoritative tone that it had taken on. With an attempt of the stranger to move brought about a thick psionic wall around her that would be considerably difficult to penetrate, lest the one she sealed within it was a stronger psychic than Reiko was. "I said, stop," she repeated. She didn't want to have to act further, but she would if she had to. "Have the two of you any sense at all as to the end result of your actions towards each other?!"

Ben holstered his knife again and rolled his neck around a bit. These telepaths were clearly communicating things that he had no part of, but his words to the mysterious lady would be for all to hear, "You hear that, lady? It's your lucky day. Why? Cause I still dunno who the fuck ya are. Now get movin'." He was getting cold from the lack of movement; the idea was to stay warm via exercise, not hang around in the cold dressed like a worker at a Bangkok brothel. He simply made his way back to the cabin with a wave to Guddesk and Azriella over his shoulder.

Seeing herself defeated, the woman wrinkled her nose, and spoke, harsh and spitting quietly at Guddesk, "Are these the new ones you're going to refuse to bed?" A derisive snort, and she looked back to the retreating form of Ben, eyes sliding back to the Illithid as he looked up at her. There was a shame upon his shoulders, weighing them down, and his tentacles withdrew, as if burned, as she spoke. "Maybe you can just watch me go for someone else. Just like always." She looked as if she wanted to run, but her legs were heavy, rooted.

Guddesk threw a pleading look to Reiko, as if trying desperately to apologize, his fingers subconsciously curling around the hand that grasped his. He had no words. He had nothing to say. The Illithid was quiet and looked then to the cave. Perhaps that was enough. He felt himself crumbling, the world he'd just started to form melting away.

The woman then looked to Reiko. "What business is it of yours what I do with him, anyway? He's mine, and none of you...none of you know what he's done. Bet he never told you about what he did to his own lover, huh? Of course he'd try to eat my fucking brain. It's what he does!"

"What does it matter who he is, and what's been done in the past? Or what history you two may have?" She caught onto the look that was now being aimed her way from Guddesk. She would give a response to him later, but there was this woman who kept on going. Did she not seem to know when to shut up? "Bury the hatchet that is the past with your hateful desires, and go your way that keeps you two apart! There is no need to entertain it any further!" This was technically none of her business, but Guddesk was her friend. "Guddesk is my friend, and I am more than proud to have him as such!"

Listening to the exchange between the woman, Reiko and Guddesk, Azriella was silent for now as she took it all in. Seeing as she now apparently held the platform, she turned away from Guddesk to face the woman, one hand remaining on his and squeezing tightly. Waiting for Reiko to finish, she nodded her agreement and then added her own, that 'refusing to bed' statement sticking with her for some reason. "And you've no idea what I've done. Regardless, he is our friend and we will not allow you to to speak to him this way any longer!" She squeezed Guddesk's hand tighter as she said it, allowing him to hopefully know her words were sincere.

Ben, however, was so not having an episode of psycho-ex drama. The important thing was that his friends were safe and that the psycho-ex wasn't some sort of uber-powered demon or whatever that could have done them any harm. He made his way into his cabin where he would resume his exercises in the main living area.

Guddesk sighed and moved two fingers on his free hand, and released the woman. As soon as she realized it, there was a wild cackle, and she back up, pointing at the group as she backed away. "You deserve him!" she burst, a pointed look at the Illithid before spitting and turning tail to run. The anger grew within Azriella as the woman spoke yet again. A simple statement, but one meant to elicit a response, which was coming. She released Guddesk's hand then, turning fully to the woman as she spat and turned to run. She slipped a moment on the leaves, and the still form seemed to watch her go, eyes nearly dull.

Reiko recognised something like the look on Guddesk's face. For an Illithid, it was difficult to notice because he was of a different race than she was, but the accompanying vibes were all the same. "Don't you do it, Guddesk..." she warned, sensing something of a cross between regret and anger. "...don't..."

Then it happened. There was a twitch of a muscle in his face, just above a tentacle, and, just as her feet hit the pavement, her neck would suddenly snap to an unnatural angle. To Azriella, who had been about to give chase, it happened quickly as she heard the crack and saw her head snap to the side. "Oh!" was all she could manage as she stopped then, watching the woman's body go slack and hit the pavement with that dull thud.

To Guddesk, it happened slowly. First, the faltering step, the drop to her knees. Then the woman hit the aged asphalt with a definitive sound of meat hitting something solid. She hadn't been powerful, perhaps, no demon, no avenging beast of unknown origin...but she had her mouth. She had her ways of manipulating those with actual power into her sway. He couldn't allow for it. He couldn't let her come back. There was the smallest noise that came from the Illithid as she crumpled, and he drew away from Azriella and Reiko, seemingly horrified by what he'd done. "I... I couldn't...she would have ruined us all..." It was a weak apology. In the back of his head, he wondered how effective Ben's proposed shoes would be.

"Well that's one way to do it." She said it under her breath, hoping the others wouldn't hear before turning back to Guddesk, seeing him crumple and then move towards him. "Oh, Guddesk..." Her words were soft, understanding, as she placed a hand on his shoulder.

"NO!!!" Reiko shouted verbally as the stranger fell to the ground. She glared at Guddesk, but had no words. She couldn't speak. Instead, her body took control ahead of her brain as the angry tears flooded her face, and her legs suddenly started to carry her out of the forcefield. They carried her all the way back to the cabin without cease, nearly crashing into the door as she opened it and hurried inside. Hurrying to the nearest room with a bed in it, she practically threw herself down on it and tried unsuccessfully to conceal her sobs in the pillow.

—•—•—•—

Guddesk's chest tightened as Reiko ran, and he looked down at Azriella then, at his side, tentacles limp, eyes nearly drooping. Illithids did not cry. They had no capacity for it, usually, and the necessary biology was always shrivelled in the transformation. Perhaps this was the closest he could come. He seemed deflated, much smaller than his 6'3", thin and paler. None of this was supposed to happen today. He was supposed to heal in that cave, forget, and plant anew, start fresh. His eyes rolled towards the body, and then to the ground. "I am guilty of everything she says." His voice was quiet, and subdued. "And more." He turned away from the sight. "Let the woods have her. I don't wish to poison myself with her thoughts any longer."

She listened as he spoke, watching his face and seeing an all too familiar look in his eyes. She didn't know what else to do aside from what she'd already done. All she could think of to do at this point was offer a few simple words of condolence to him. "We are all the villian in someone's story, Guddesk. But we're also the hero in someone else's." She leaned in, her forehead moving to rest against his as she closed her eyes slowly and shushed him. "It's over now. She's gone. Everything will be ok." She relaxed in the embrace, hoping in some way she would get through. She had seen Reiko run off after the woman's death as well and had no doubt the Albino was very emotional right now. She hoped she would be okay. Truly.

His eyes did not close as she closed in and laid her forehead against his, but rather watched the flutter of her eyelids, the flare of her nostrils as she breathed. His fingertips twitched against his own thighs, and after some time, he stood straighter, pulling away from the woman's attempt to comfort him. He'd damn near alienated everyone. Reiko had given him such a piercing and dirty look. He hadn't meant for his friends to come to him and see him at, possibly, his worst. Well. His recent worst. There was a temptation, there, to prove the woman wrong, but...in what way? He'd no clue. He took Azriella's hand and patted it. Hesitating, he seemed as if he were going to pull her with him, but he simply let her go, turning toward his cave and picking up his rucksack before entering it.

After a long moment, Azriella opened her eyes and looked up at him as he retreated, her hand slipping from him as he went. She just stood there then, eyes gazing at the entrance of the cave he entered and then disappeared into. She wanted to follow him, desperately, but she had no idea if she would have been welcomed in or if her presence would have made things worse. She lingered for but a moment longer, eyes still scanning the entranxeway longingly before she gave a heavy sigh, her shoulders drooping in her helplessness before she wandered away into the wood, intent on finding him and the others another day.

—•—•—•—

Ben stopped mid-crunch as Reiko stormed inside like a weepy hurricane, "What the Hell..?" he rolled up back to his feet and knocked on the door of her room, "Hey!" Knock knock knock! "Hey, Casper! What's goin' on?" He continued to knock until he would get some kind of response.

If she was to think of anything other than what she had just witnessed, then the first thought to mind would be how persistent Ben was. The nonstop knocks weren't going to make her move from her prostrate position on the bed, although she was going to feel guilty about slamming doors at all. Because she wasn't going to move from the bed, she instead waved her right hand to let the door open telekinetically. Her shoulders would shake as she tried to process everything. It had been exactly the same way that her husband had been murdered nearly ten years ago, the very last blow when the sword hadn't worked. This was not a memory that she had wanted to see resurface, at least not in this way.

He froze still as his fist knocked on air. He didn't even expect her to answer the door, but rather just to give some sort of verbal confirmation that she was okay. Poking his head in, he saw her shaking on the bed, unsure of what to do at this point. Poor gal had clearly been having a rough day. First thing he saw when he woke up? Reiko crying. First thing he saw when she got back up? Reiko angry. Now she's back at the cabin? Reiko devastated, "Man, oh man, hon... do you need to be alone right now?"

From Reiko crying to Reiko angry, and now back to Reiko crying, this was one of the worst days of her life. As much as she wanted to and tried to control herself, it was coming uncontrollably for her. The only thing she could manage to do was lift her head, followed by her body, in a shaky attempt to sit up. If she hadn't looked so pleasant and sociable this morning, then she sure as Fate didn't look it now, and her lower lip trembled as she tried unsuccessfully to speak. Finally, as if feeling weightless, the very much distraught Albino sprung to her feet and ran to Ben, throwing her arms around him as she continued in her uncontrollable sobs. She would ask for forgiveness later.

He stiffened up at first; a lunge-hug at a guy like that was a risky move for anyone. But, after a moment, he softened and and gently wrapped his arms around her, rocking back and forth a bit in a calm and soothing manner, "I dunno what the Hell has been goin' on with you today, hon, but I hate seein' ya like this," he softly uttered, "if ya ever need to talk about any of it, you know I'm here, right?"

A really quick nod came from her. At the very least, she was able to understand, acknowledge, and respond. Today really had not been a day where she was seen at her best; in fact, it was a real emotional low. Regrets were starting to creep their way into her mind as she made a second attempt at trying to quiet her sobs. "G-G-Guddesk..." was the first thing to come from her mouth. Then, trying to muster more to even speak, the other word, "K-k-k-killed!" spilled forth from her trembling lips, and she immediately regretted speaking the word.

"Squidward killed crazy lady? Damn, that is so gangsta! Didn't know he had it in'em." His attempt at injecting a little humour into the situation would have likely failed miserably, but he truly did mean well. They did earn him a rapid nod from Reiko. His attempt of humour, not so much. "Look, Reiko." He took her hand and guided her to the bed that she had just been prostrate on with her tears soaking the pillow her head had just been on, where he sat on the edge. "Can I ask, how close are you to his situation with her? Do you know what transpired between the two of them? Do you even know anything about her?"

All she could do was shake her head repeatedly in the answer of no to all of the rest of his questions. Not only did she know nothing about the situation and of their past, apart from what had been mentioned by the now-dead female (and who even knew if any of that was true?), she knew nothing about her at all. The only one who really did was Guddesk. Sitting with him on the bed, she used her free hand to try wiping at her tears some more. Looking at Ben through eyes that had ceased to glow several minutes ago, the woman was trying to express the real reason for her current state. "I...know...I know nothing..." She really was trying, and she was finally starting to lose the case of the sobs.

"Okay, well I didn't know anything about the lady either. But I trust Guddesk. if he felt she deserved to die, as difficult as it may be to stand by, I'm sure there must've been one helluva reason for it," His lack of sympathy for the woman had another underlying explanation as well, even if he wasn't fully aware of it. The man was right; there was obviously a good reason for it, but she didn't understand why it had to come to that.

"...it-it's more...of how he did it...memories..." Her late husband. Everything about the way that woman had been killed, reminded her of how her late husband had been killed. But, why be bothered by it when she had been ready to divorce her husband at the time?

He simply listened to her explanation, putting things together in his head. She was still quite busted up about the matter, evidently, "It was you who killed him, wasn't it? On accident?" If he was wrong, then who could blame him? It wasn't like he was a mind-reader or anything.

Out of her mouth was about to come a heavy weight after she shook her head no in response to his question. "I-It..." Reiko paused. "...it was...he killed her...the same way my husband was..." She was going to keep the tissue companies in business for quite some time yet, at this rate.

Ben's phone buzzed again. Whoever had been contacting him all day must have had an urgent matter on their hands. He knew well who it was and what the matter was about, even without taking his phone out to look. He wanted to stay and console her, but this was a matter he could no longer keep pushing off, "Look, Reiko..." He took her hand in both his and kissed the top of it, "I'm sorry you're havin' a hard time; but unfortunately for me, now is a bad time. Like, a really bad time. I may be back around later, but I have to get moving. Try to get some rest, do something to distract yourself; whatever it is you gotta do, okay? And if you need to talk more, I'll be there. I promise." With that, he made haste for the transporter...he was still in his pink kimono.

It may not seem like it, especially right now, but Reiko did understand. Nobody's lives should be put on hold for the sake of one person, regardless of what they may want to do to help another. With a nod, she didn't fault Ben one bit. He had been nice enough to let her come to his cabin at all; who was she to ask for anything more? She simply hated that, after a seemingly perfect night following unfortunate circumstances last night, Hell in Rhy'din had to follow.

As much as she wanted to take a nap, she didn't want to shut her eyes. The last time she'd seen something like this happen, shutting her eyes had revealled the same scenes she had seen multiple times over. Reiko didn't want to see that happen again. "Ben...please...be safe." The Albino watched him leave in a hurry, still wearing his pink kimono. If he was looking to be taken seriously, then his current attire might not be the best suited for doing such.

Alone once more, Reiko found herself looking around, her hand that Ben had kissed completely still. It was a bad time. There was never a right time for anything tragic to happen, much less be reminded of any sort of past tragedy. Her head would return to the pillow that it had touched earlier with more tears to come until she was too exhausted for her eyes to remain open any longer.
Reiko Souma
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09 January 20xx - A Disturbance

Post by Reiko Souma » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:50 pm

Fast asleep on the couch at the cabin was Reiko, who had spent just a little bit more time cleaning the cabin after returning late. She had ultimately cleaned herself into a state of exhaustion that taking the medication Shourim had handed to her hadn't even been necessary. The couch, being the nearest place to her, had become her bed, and anyone who passed through that part of the cabin would see the Albino passed-out on it. For the first time in several days, she was asleep with a smile on her face and her hand to her cheek.

There was a little bit of a stretch as the Albino started to come to on the couch several minutes later. The sleep she had gotten was just the beginning of her trying to reestablish some kind of a stable sleep schedule, a slightly more normal sort - if that was even possible. Not a single dream passed through her to see or recall, not even a nightmare. As her eyes slid open, she looked forward to find herself staring at the window. No fireplace had been lit last night, either. No fire to let die. Reiko felt something on her cheek and glanced down to see her hand touching her cheek. How had..?

Right away, she knew. It was where his hand had been. What a thought to have in her head the first thing she woke up. How...she didn't know what to think at the moment. Other than her need for coffee, which had her raise in a sitting up position on a cushion, she really didn't know her else to think of. Sure, a weird feeling crossed her mind, but that could just be from the position she had slept in. It had been some time since she'd willingly slept on the couch.

Plod plod. Sock-covered feet carried the zombified Albino into the kitchen. There was coffee in the pot, undoubtedly cold, as it barely had its pleasant aroma at this point. Forget about heating it up. A mug was filled and immediately consumed. Not enough, although it did wake her up a little bit. Pour another cup of cold coffee, and drink. There it was. She was now more awake, enough to find herself some breakfast (those leftover burgers oughta do the trick after heating them up), but that weird feeling was still there. Why am I feeling like there's something wrong? It's not like I'm anybody's keeper. Nobody owes it to me to report their safety and well-being to them...so why? Reiko went along, continuing in her gradual process of not feeling like such a zombie.

A run. "Yeah, that's it. I could go on a run. It'll help me clear my head, and I'll be able to get some work done after." That was the plan, anyways, and she started to slip her feet into her running shoes. A series of stretches followed, and she stepped out onto the porch. Oof. An extra sweatshirt was going to be needed for this one.

There was a moment when she was stepping back inside to grab a bottle of water. Walking back to her car, she opened the car trunk and pulled out a sweatshirt. With black over red and more black, Reiko was now ready to go. Starting off on a jog, she made her way towards the same path that she and Ben had run on yesterday. Her mind focused on thinking of anything other than the possible source of this off feeling. "Why, damnit, why?" Reiko hissed, refocusing her mind.

Her chosen path was leading her towards the woods, as it was the same path that had been taken yesterday. It was light enough that her already-heightened vision allowed for her to see a little bit more than she was already. Not quite at the wooded area yet, however, she had her options. To change her path, or to stay at it? Reiko had to make a decision. To stay her current path meant possibly heading towards the cave that the damned raccoon had led her to. Where she had found Guddesk and Azriella, and where she had apparently been found by Shourim. She was all set on that. No more taking those kinds of paths alone, and definitely no more following raccoons!

Away from the woods Reiko went. Opting for the path to her right instead, it was one of the potential that she had never taken before. It wasn't as well-used as the ones she had seen before, so curiosity now took over. Now running, Reiko was looking for signs of wildlife. More deer, maybe? Maybe some moose this time. Photos of the trees? She still hadn't asked about the trees for her shop yet, but now her vision was distracted. There was somebody coming at her. Slowing back to a jog, the ravenette was inevitably making her way in the same direction as the one she saw. A closer look showed that the someone was, "Roni? What are you doing out this way? Clearing your head as well?"

She had been focused on just moving and not slipping on the slick that found the path she had been taking, barefoot, along the River's edge, that she hadn't heard Reiko's approach, until the woman called out her name. Wide-eyed, Roni froze, and snapped her attention towards the other woman. Honestly, she looked quite a sight. Muddied, hands covered in what looked like it might be dried blood. Hair not tamed from sleep, and barefoot. She stared a Reiko a long moment, before she took a step back.

"I-I gotta go. It's urgent." The words come breathlessly, before she herself was moving again, and aiming to step her way around Reiko, and back towards whereever she had hidden her car. She had to go. Things to do, people to kill.

"Whoa..." The woman stopped making paces, but kept jogging in place. Taking in Roni's sight, Reiko went from curious to concerned. She looked like a mess! What in the world had she been doing, digging up holes? "...Roni?" Yeah, Reiko. Way to make oneself sound like a bit of a broken record by repeating someone's name. Really?

To her, Roni did not sound anymore okay than she looked. She was, in fact, the opposite of what Reiko looked and felt today - weird feeling aside. She didn't want to keep the other from going about her business, but she was also jogging in that direction. Something had happened. That much was obvious. As for what had happened, a little bit of a heads-up given would be appreciated. Reiko didn't want to resort to her telepathy, and she sure did not want to be blindsided.

Enough. "Wait! Please?" She hoped Roni would at least say something more than her urgency in having to go. "I'm jogging in the direction you just came from. Is...there something that I should know about, something I might need to consider wearing my sunglasses for? You're all dirty...like someone who just lost a fight to nature."

Roni was generally a mess, but today she actually looked it. Reiko's question was enough to give her pause, before she rolled her shoulders in a shrug. "Just don't go that way. Go another." That's all she states, before finally, she continues, scrabbling, scrambling up along the river bank. At the most she had a symbol to follow for a trail, and not much else. It was absolutely useless, especially if she had no idea what at all it was, or meant, or how to even follow the trail that it might offer.

Her frantic path led her back to the cabin long enough to leave a bit of a muddy mess, and grab the rest of her shit, combat boots included, before she was gone again, and off in the direction that she had parked her car. Something happened to someone that Roni considered family. It most definitely could be said that she was not thinking straight at all.

Just don't go that way. Go another. That was it? The look of concern on Reiko's face simply led to a deeper frown as she watched Roni scramble off. One problem to being told to take another path was, this was the other path. "But...the other path will just lead me back to the place that I don't want to go back to," the ravenette said, mostly to herself. She came to a complete stop now, no longer jogging in place at all, and looked back in the direction where she had seen Roni coming from. Something had happened. "I'm sorry, Roni, but I don't know of any other paths that will keep me away from the woods." On Reiko jogged, no longer deciding to run because of the conditions of the path itself.

Not too much further into the path itself, the woman started to pick up on some signs of what could only be described as a disturbance of sorts. Mud, droplets...what were those, by the way? Her jog slowed to a walk, and then to a near-stop, with what started to seem like a trend. "Hey, this isn't paint…" Reiko suddenly started to look around, the walls of her guard now built up rather high. Now she had to tap into her senses, and she reached out whilst surveying the area. "...well, there's nobody in the immediate vicinity," she concluded, but kept her telepathic radar engaged whilst surveying the area still, walking forward with caution. There were...those weren't rocks she was seeing up ahead, and she started to hurry over.

Bodies, and quite a few of them.

"Oh my Fate!" Reiko fumbled with both hands - not to touch the bodies themselves, but through her pockets. She couldn't get her sunglasses out and on fast enough. "There are so many! What in the world happened, here?" Roni. She had been covered in mud and what had to be bits of blood. What was her involvement in all of this? No. No way. She couldn't be involved in this. Roni looked like too much of a wreck to be responsible! Was it..? Never mind trying to take guesses right now. Whose cellphone number did she have anymore..? Her guardian's, all of her employees, maybe Amaris, definitely Mist's, and definitely Rachael's. Better rule Rachael out, though. Reiko was taking out her cellphone and calling Mist. Between him and Amaris, Reiko preferred contacting adults over children. Besides, Amaris would be at school, wouldn't she? "Mist! Come on…" Voicemail. "...Mist, I think you'd better talk to Roni or something. Something happened near the cabin, like a lot of somethings...and Roni was the only one I saw before I found the bodies. Just call her, or something."

Click. Reiko was in no wise sticking around to see anymore. She turned tail and jogged off again, heading back to the cabin. Too bad she didn't have anyone else's phone numbers...being able to contact Ben or Roni herself would be most useful right now.

The thunderous movement coming from outside was enough to disturb Reiko's meditation. Returning to the ground with a soft thud, she opened her eyes. Just when she thought the bodies and Roni covered in mud and blood was concerning enough, now she was hearing people talk outside. As good as her hearing was, Reiko had just been meditating. Standing now, she stretched, rather flustered, before walking to the door. When she stepped out and looked to her left, she saw Roni marching off and both Ben and Mist at the bottom. "What..? No trace of..?" the confused woman muttered to herself. This should be none of her business, really, except that Amaris - wherever she was - considered Reiko an aunt to her. She stepped down the stairs. "Is...this a bad time to say hello and ask who you guys are looking for?" she asked, which was likely nobody but herself at this point.

There was talk of bodies and someone being missing. Who else would be missing that spent time around here..? Come to think of it, I haven't seen Amaris in a couple of days...if not longer. Reiko was really starting to get a sinking feeling in her gut as she thought about the last time she had seen the girl. Unsure of what else to do, she reluctantly followed a good distance down the path where the three of them had gone, only walking instead of jogging like she had been doing earlier that morning. No way was she going to take another path. She could hear Ben shouting as she continued to follow, but remained quiet. That is, until she heard Amaris' name and her backpack being found. Yeah. Reiko let out a gasp at what she had heard and, realising that she might have been heard, looked for someplace to stand where she could be out of sight. Amaris and Michelle? Wasn't Michelle doing some weird stuff lately?

Nope. In that moment, Reiko decided that she was better off not getting any closer. If they wanted her help, then they would have said something. Those three were capable of taking care of things, what Reiko knew now had her all the more worried for Amaris. Surely Michelle wouldn't stab her like she had that caller that she had seen at the Arena that night? But, Amaris is still a child… Reiko frowned. Standing there wasn't going to help get Amaris back, and she sure as Hell had no idea where to even start looking. Turning in the opposite direction, the Albino ran off back towards the cabin to get her coat and was soon driving away from the cabin.

A change of scenery was needed, at least for a little bit. Visiting Pharlen was overdue, some catching up to be done. What she didn't like was feeling useless in some situations where she might have some knowledge (whether useful or not was a different story, but that was beside the point), but this was more about finding someone than it was about how Reiko felt. So, pulling up to the Anchor in her Mercedes, Reiko stepped out and went inside, approaching the bar. "Hey, Pharlen!" the woman called just as her phone started to buzz with an incoming text.

Before she could type out a response to the text, she was greeted by the Governor, who was reading something off of her pad. She set it down; the Fox-Girl server appeared in a shower of pixels and spoke her welcome to Reiko in (gasp) Common! That was a pleasant change.

At once, even though her mind wasn't as clear as it had been an hour ago, Reiko managed a smile. "Pharlen, I've really missed being around my favourite Governor," she said, before changing subjects. Focus! An order was placed for Tendon Pho with rice and a bottle of water, as Foxy beamed and scooted off to the kitchen, though the water bottle was brought quickly thereafter.

Pharlen watched with a benign smile and half-lidded eyes, yes. "Ah, you are one of the few that has missed me, then." An amused wink, "Some people use scopes, yes. How are you?"

She then looked up from her phone. "Yes...I've been here, there...a little bit of everywhere between both here and my home planet. But, I was wondering if you might be able to help me out with something." Having been texting somebody back and forth for a few minutes, she pushed the button to direct her to the photos and pulled one up. "Have you seen Amaris lately?" Reiko asked, showing Pharlen the photo on her phone.

"Hmm? I can certainly try, yes yes," she replied, and paused, brows lifting. "I have not. I haven't seen any of the little devils since they started conjuring up unicorn things in the fields. Is there a problem?"

"Little devils? Conjuring unicorn things?" The woman hit the Back button to return to the gallery. Upon receiving another text, she lowered her phone down for a moment. Then she returned to the gallery and pulled up a photo that she had taken of Michelle. It had been taken just before she had stabbed someone, so Reiko held that up as well. "Quite likely, if you haven't seen Michelle lately either," she responded. Reiko was absolutely serious.

"Maggie, Desdenova, and Amaris have been creating their own havoc, lately," she replied, brow quirking. She sent a text, herself, from her pad, then glanced up, her eyes narrowing. "What did she do this time?" she inquired, dry and dark alike. Another text...

After showing the photo of Michelle, Reiko returned to the home screen and flipped the phone shut. It was set down on the bar before her, where it would stay whenever texts weren't coming to her. Recalling what she had heard before running off, the woman took a deep breath. "There's reason to believe that Michelle might have started to resort to kidnapping children...Amaris is missing." Reiko felt no need to mention that she had seen bodies after Roni had found them. "I want my niece back, preferably alive. So, if you know anything about what Michelle's been up to since I saw her stab one of the duelling hosts recently, then please. Will you let me know? I won't even use your name, for the sake of protecting your identity as Governor."

"Bother," she muttered, lifting a hand and snapping her fingers. The entire place came to a halt: Time stopped. She looked up. "Beril, send for Desdenova, Jackie, and Alice, please." Fingersnap. Time flowed on. The fox girl brought Reiko her soup and rice. Pharlen, however, would think there was something very wrong with her kids if there wasn't a pile of bodies to mark them being kidnapped or otherwise bothered. Go figure. "My dear, there are very few people who even know how to hurt me," she noted, dryly amused. Unfortunately, Michelle may or may not be one of those. It depended on how well the woman paid attention. "She has been popping up randomly in the Red Dragon and at the Golden Perch. Unfortunately, we all tend to stand on common courtesy, so there's not as much of that attack the bad guy because they're bad activity as there used to be. So... feel free." She smiled, yes yes.

Upon hearing this, Reiko immediately sent a text: "According to Pharlen, Michelle bounces between the Perch and the Inn frequently and could be in the area tonight. I hope this helps with finding Amaris."

When the Anchor came to a halt at the snap of Pharlen's fingers, Reiko looked around. Everybody had ceased to move except for Pharlen, Reiko, and the one she had communicated with named Beril. Before she could ask, a second snap of fingers resumed the flow of time, and the Albino's soup and rice joined her bottle of water. Payment with an initial tip was remitted to Pharlen. "Thank you, Foxgirl," Reiko said, digging in.

Her attention remained trained on the Governor at the information given to her. Random appearances at the two places that Reiko's seen Amaris at from time to time. That wasn't good. Reaching for a napkin, she produced a pen from her coat pocket and started to write. "That's a start...a good one, I suppose. Did you, or anyone you know, happen to notice anything odd about her when you or they saw her? Looking at someone for too long...maybe just doing something odd?" She was no cop, but damn, these questions she was asking!

"You have been entirely out of the loop, my dear." She turned her pad to show, absently bringing up several news articles featuring Michelle far out of her usual mien of mild mannered Baker. Randomly attacking people, including Pharlen, viscous matches, gathering up evil around her, and of course, the premoistened state the woman had been existing within. "It had been quite a few weeks worth of crazy, yes, yes." To make matters more interesting, there was also "Fluffy," the kraken that lived in the deep caverns under the dock and bay. The little figure caught Pharlen's attention - movement equals prey, except she wasn't pouncing on the moving thing. Simply focusing on it.

"Yeah...apparently, I have been." This was confirmed when she was shown the archives of articles that mentioned incidents both in and out of the duelling rings. "May I?" Reiko asked, pointing to the pad. She looked up at the Governor after taking an initial glance at the list of articles. One of them jumped out at her, that one being where she had been present at the time of the stabbing. That had to be about two or three weeks ago, Reiko figured, maybe sooner.

Because her back was to the rest of the place, Reiko didn't see the little figure that had caught Pharlen's attention. That didn't mean she wasn't aware. She was merely interested in reading these articles and passing them along to whoever was also part of this. Since Ben's hands were full, Reiko was ready to call Mist - whether by phone or by telepathy.

"Of course," she murmured, pushing the pad over and giving her attention to the one who had just arrived. The figure, Reiko noticed, wasn't such a little figure anymore; in fact, it was actually a she who had greeted Reiko and Pharlen.

"Hello," the ravenette greeted with a small smile, "I've not seen you before...are you new to this neck of the woods?" Eating a few spoonfuls of soup, she then took the pad with thanks to the Governor and started with the oldest article. This was going to take awhile to read. She was eating the soup and rice in cycles as well. This was something that she really should be calling someone about, especially with the information before her. "This...is very troubling…" But not frightening? She read her way to the article that referred to the match where Michelle had stabbed a calling host with a soured expression, only becoming more sour as she continued to read. "...now I wish I hadn't passed out when that blood spell had been cast that night. That would have helped me out a lot more," she mumbled.

A moment was taken where Reiko allowed herself a break from reading through the articles on the pad to exchange introductions with who she now knew was Daiyu Bo. She was at the Anchor on business for Mallory, which was the last thing Reiko paid full attention to as she continued to read. When Reiko had finished reading through the collection of articles that Pharlen had pulled up for her, she had no words. Although it didn't give an idea of an actual location, the woman now had a better idea of it. It's as if she moves about in a certain pattern, one that changes a lot...but I can't just call it into anyone if I have no specific location. So much for trying to contact Ben or Mist. Actually, a text was very quickly fired off, and then she put down her phone.

"Thank you so much, Pharlen." She stayed a bit longer to finish her food and water. That, and Ben had asked her to bring back some spicy udon noodles for him. She probably should have asked who else might want some food...

Her thought was momentarily interrupted by Pharlen’s response. "No worry, darling. But I advise you, be careful. A simple assassination in this place is anything but unless you know all of the variables." To this, Reiko gave a curt and serious nod. She wasn’t going to be doing any assassination, or at least she hoped she wouldn’t be assassinating anybody. The woman just wanted her niece back, preferably alive, and would do anything to help those who were also actively searching for Amaris. Seeing anybody abducted at all had her attention. Seeing a child kidnapped made her put everything else behind her until the return of said child. They were the cornerstone and the foundation of the future of their homeland!

Reiko blinked as Daiyu suddenly grew from six inches tall to six feet tall and gave the unfortunate news of Mallory being unwell, a question that she was hoping to not have to answer was asked...two questions, really. "And you said Amaris is missing..?" she turned to Reiko, only to pause. She looked back at her pad. She said a few bad words. "Where is Mist, then?"

"Yes...she's missing. Mist was helping Ben and Roni give some context when I ran off. I...I don't know if Roni wanted me to be privy to this, but I am now...I want my niece back. Alive,” the Albino answered as Daiyu Bo and the quiet customer that was with her vanished into the crowd outside.

Pale eyes narrowed. She'd already sent the kids on to Sard and Emrys. That left her all too free.

"What?" Reiko was now void of food and water. She took note of Pharlen's narrowed eyes and facial expression. "Pharlen, what is it? Is there something I missed in those articles?" the Albino asked, desperate. Anything new, she would appreciate so that she could pass it along to the others.

"There is much you don't know, and likely, it is a good thing that you don't know. How was Mist when you last saw him?" she replied slowly.

No shit. This was what the woman would say if the one she spoke to wasn't the Governor of Rhy'din. Reiko straightened, her pink azalean eyes not looking away from Pharlen for even an instant now. "Pharlen. Whether or not I interact with Michelle directly is not anything of an issue to me. I've had a death sentence signed since I was born, so whatever you know that I don't, I'm not going anywhere as of yet." Reiko might be getting pushy now, and she might need to start reigning herself in. This was for Amaris, not for herself. "As for Mist, I could tell that he was in quite a mood. He...might have been having a difficult time suppressing any anger that he had, but like an adoptive father, he was obviously worried." She folded her hands in front of her. "It's Amaris' other adoptive father, Ben, who you might want to worry about as well...who do you think has been texting me since I first got here?"

She said a few more bad words, and stepped back. "Daisy, Daisy, tell me you love me do…" Because you do sing randomly in stress situations. Or. Probably not. But, it had the desired effect. Shadows grew darker, then coiled and curled, finally pooling under Pharlen. She glanced downwards and spoke something that sounded like a splash of water. The shadows vanished. Pharlen glanced up, a brow quirked. "It is not hard to find Michelle, follow the sigil and the damp…" A pause. She lifted her glasses with one hand, and indicated with another. The Sigil marked on Michelle's followers showed itself like a hologram on the tabletop. Then an image of Michelle cast. After that, Pharlen lowered her glasses. "Chances are very good she has trapped Amaris between realities where it is very difficult to know where a being is. If she has tried to shove Amaris into R’lyeh or any of the other Dreamer's Cities, then we will know of it soon enough: Amaris is an argent star. The real problem is that there are people who can be pushed past a point and after that, it becomes difficult. I have to go. Be careful, yes." And rather than to leave... She turned not only a whiter shade of pale, but translucent: water. Splish. She was gone. Leaving only a coating of brackish water on the floor, which Foxy mopped up.

Well...shit. If the actual location was somewhere in between realities, then any telepathic usage was pretty much rendered useless. Reiko was useless in that aspect, but perhaps someone she knew might not be so useless? Right now, she was taking more notes on the napkin that she had started to write on. She didn't bother to ask for permission with taking pictures of the holograms that projected. Whether they would actually show up on Reiko's phone was a different story. They might not show up, but the effort was worth it if they did. She sighed, almost in relief. There was so much to process, even more to speak about. Reiko bowed her head. "Thank you, Pharlen, thank you very much,” she said right after the Governor vanished.

Reiko, looking to Foxy, let her small smile remain. "Foxy...may I have two orders of spicy udon noodles, three orders of rice, and two containers of every sauce that are available please?" she asked. Payment was immediately remitted. "I'm taking this to go." The poor kitchen staff had a lot of cooking ahead before Reiko could leave...

*Co-written with Roni (Cabin at the Wilds) and Pharlen (The Anchor).
Reiko Souma
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Location: Camden, NJ, Terra; visits Rhy'din on vacations
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10 January 20xx - Of a Painful Past Confronted, Part 3

Post by Reiko Souma » Sun Jan 12, 2020 3:36 pm

"People under siege turn to us in complete frustration, and I get a chance to go in when it's do or die." - Curtis Sliwa

Just a few hours earlier, there had been peace...relieving pent-up frustrations, drinking cheap beer that falsely claimed to be Rhy'din's best.

Chaos ensued, seemingly once more, starting with a text.

Suddenly, everything seemed to happen far too quickly. The guard that Reiko had seen accompanying Roni during the night of retrieving Amaris, she had moved towards Amaris with her scythe. There was absolutely no way that was going to happen on anybody's watch. Between Ben doing his job as father to protect Amaris and Roni trying to stop the one named Siobhan from doing anything at all, the only thing that Reiko could do was stand in front of the girl and raise her psionic shield. It wasn't a request for Amaris to back away that came from the S.D.F. veteran, but an order for the sake of protecting an innocent child. She didn't care what anybody was thinking (or not thinking), children have no business with being harmed over things which they had no control over. Period. She had given one a chance to leave with her life as close to intact as possible, and thank the Fate for Amaris being the child to leave whilst the adults hashed things out.

What Reiko hadn't intended, however, was for Amaris to really take off running. Then again, a scared child usually meant flight when given the opportunity. Silent thanks were given that Maggie was there to talk to her. This Terran native had already exhausted her limits with trying to help children in distress, not that it was Amaris' fault at all. Reiko simply still had much to unpack when it came to children in general, and the one child present who would know was Maggie, being that they had duelled in what the former had clearly established as a kid-friendly duel.

Trusting Amaris to not run off again whilst in Maggie's company, Reiko gave some distance between the two girls before shutting her eyes. After a moment, she opened her eyes again. Radio silence, so to speak. I hope he'll be all right... She looked out again, keeping quiet now as she continued to watch. Two from the squad that Maggie had brought with her last night were doing their patrol. What of Reiko? She could either go back inside herself, or she could stay outside. Unfortunately, the fish that she had helped with smoking earlier and helped bring inside were now as cold as the night temperature itself was. Then she looked out and away from the cabin once more. Things didn't seem to bode well. Was it the full moon that Ben had mentioned to her earlier?

A soft sigh left Reiko. Sitting down on the grass, she decided on being good and remaining inside of the shield. For now, anyways. Things seemed even more upside-down now than they had last night. For real, this full moon.

Taking advantage of this time that she now had to herself, the Albino took a mental inventory of everything that's transpired in the last, well, day: Amaris was bouncing between crying and vomiting, Roni now had to deal with lycantrophy. Ben was...somewhere...she had last seen him in the cabin before she'd run off to continue looking after Amaris. Other than being on the verge of tears about the level of pain that Amaris was dealing with, Reiko was for the most part fine. Hell, even Maggie and her squad had their shit together. Then there was that one all in black...hopefully Scyther wouldn't end up wanting to try slaying Amaris in her sleep. That was Reiko's biggest concern right now - well that, and just wanting to help bring some kind of stability back to the cabin and its current occupants.

There was a loud gasp as the woman's hands flew up to cover her ears. What she was hearing in her mind right now was loud enough to cause her to feel it physically, as if she was being shouted at - even though there was nobody in front of her to actually shout at her. "Too loud..!" It was a wonder if nobody came over to see if she was all right, but she had to be if she was able to rise to her feet and start taking some steps forward. "Where...are you, Ben..?" Reiko wondered aloud. She kept stepping forward until she was outside of the shield that Mist had put up. What she was hearing come back to her was in no way normal, which only worried her more. SHe didn't care that she had left her coat inside. Reiko just wanted to find Ben and make sure he was all right. "Ben..? Ben?" a worrying Reiko called.

Ben would be found in the middle of the frozen-over river, combatting with various wraith-like individuals. It seemed that the presence of several still remained, yet hadn't taken form, as though they were blending in with the shadows. One, who had incarnated into flesh, had its head held beneath a break in the ice as Ben choked, drowned, and stabbed the man repeatedly and repeatedly. He pulled the man's head above water to creepily moan into his ear, "Don't ever leave me..." There was an almost erotic desperation in his voice before he threw his head back under and continued to stab, finally cutting the heart straight out of his chest.

Ears were still covered as Reiko was looking from left to right with each step forward that she took. Soon, the varying sounds that she heard were enough to draw her attention in its direction. What was in that direction, now? Her hands came down from her ears when she could hear nothing else; however, the telepathic connection that she had established was not about to be lost to her just yet. Reiko just couldn't use it as a reliable means of locating Ben was all. She was stuck with relying on her heightened sight and sound as her walk became a run. "Ben..! Don't tell me you fell into the river again!" she hissed as she ran.

Right towards the frozen river, where she heard those sounds coming from.

Was worry starting to turn into panic? Reiko had absolutely no idea. There were still certain emotions that she had neither the understanding nor an established grasp of. One thing was for sure, though. She wanted Ben to be safe. For his having once told her that he didn't want to lose her "too," she had meant it when she'd told him that she didn't want to lose him either. She ran until she found the frozen river.

And Ben, but he wasn't alone. "Ben!!!" Reiko shouted, hoping he could hear her.

Ben heard Reiko, but it was as though his mind or heart didn't perceive it; like that of a catatonic schizophrenic, only it was blood-rage that had him consumed. Just as he finished the man off and sent him flowing downstream beneath the ice, another wraith took physical form and stabbed him in the kidney with an obsidian dagger. Ben howled in pain before reaching over his head and throwing that one beneath as well, but staggered as he got back up to his feet.

Great. Now what? Think, Reiko, think... She had to think fast. Ben had just been stabbed in the kidney and was definitely in pain. Were these things even real? Well, they had to be real enough to had stabbed him. "Ben, it's me. Reiko. I don't know what's going on right now...will you let me in?" Reiko really wasn't supposed to force her way into anybody's mind at all. It was an invasion of privacy to do so, but this was an emergency situation. Certain, this was an exception to what she had been given explicit instructions on. Keep cool, he had told her. Was she still supposed to keep her cool now?

Three other wraiths took the form of flesh, and Ben still hadn't had time to recover. Light wounds could heal quickly; kill-shot wounds, like a stab to the kidney, would take awhile. But bleed and suffer as he did, his resolve would not waiver. He lunged in, fool-heartedly so, to continue brawling; he did quite well for himself, all things considered. But, he was running out of gas...and fast.

In the meantime, when was Reiko going to learn? If something didn't work the first time, then trying a second time wasn't going to work any better. Her telepathy was rendered completely useless, so she took another two steps forward. "Ben!" she shouted again. This time, the woman drew her Katana. It had never left her person for even a second since she had brought it back to Rhy'din with her. What are these things..? passed through her mind as she stepped closer to the surface of the frozen river. She could stand on frozen water, no matter how thin it was, with her own support. Ben could not, and she wasn't about to let Ben fall in a second time.

Katana in hand, Reiko took aim at one of the wraiths. "Leave! Him! Alone!" she ordered. Pft. Did she actually expect them to listen to her?

The wraiths came out in droves then. What had been three in the form of flesh quickly doubled; then doubled again. The two of them were almost surrounded as scaled warriors steadily closed in on them, steps at a time. Ben was in the midst of gutting one of them when suddenly, he realised how desperate their situation had become. Fight turned to flight, and he had no energy to escape.

A right leg was raised to kick an arm away from the wraith nearest her. That was only to try putting some distance between it and her as she, gripping with both hands now, swung her Katana. This...this was not good. They were doubling, and the ones that were doubling had been the ones that Ben himself had attacked before Reiko's arrival. "Shit! Ben, we are getting out of here! Now! If I can find an opening...or make one, anyways..." If cutting them down was going to do no good, then that left one other option. The shield. They couldn't get through the shield that Mist had put up. Reiko shook her head, as she had to do something to get there. "I hate using this technique...I really hate using this technique."

Not too far away, a pair of figures were making their way towards the very area that Ben and Reiko were fighting in. Suddenly, there was a thk, thk as two of the wraiths fell, the handles of daggers sticking out of their spines just below the basis of their skulls. One that was nearby would turn to face Guddesk, and he glared at it, sending a blast that would scatter it to nothing, informed forever. Another behind it gave an unholy noise as it shuddered and seemed to freeze in place, stunned. "Ben? Reiko!" It seemed his friends were embroiled in some battle, and he was only too happy to help.

Reiko surrounded the two of them - Ben and herself - in her psionic shield, that not being the hated technique. The technique she hated using the most started with her eyes glowing dark pink. Others weren't recommended to be around her once she activated that ability. Her intent? To hopefully send Ben flying back within Mist's shield whilst she tried to take care of these things with the dreaded Telecom. Or, so the plan was, but Ben himself was in a blood-rage. He would continue to take down every last one of them that he could until either they had all fallen, or he would. His persistence paid off, at least in a utilitarian sense, insofar as he managed to slice down six more before finally dropping to his knees. He was losing blood, and fast.

Reiko's Telecom itself was intended to turn the wraiths against each other. "Not that it's going to matter too much right now, but don't look at me right now, Ben...or you'll be subjected to the effects as well." Focusing on those that were still standing and coming, she made sure they had made eye contact with her. "You are not friends with your neighbours...they are not your comrades. The only purpose they serve is to use you, and to kill you, as you want to kill them now." Those that remained stopped. Their heads turned, as if they were in a trance. Then, suddenly, some of them who had made eye contact with Reiko closed in on each other. The resulting sight wasn't pretty, to say in the least.

Ben was too enraged to see relief. He was huffing and puffing like a beast that refused to fall. Unaware of the Telecom that was in effect, he still moved in and kidney-stabbed whoever he could, sliced throats wherever possible. There were still enough that were unaffected, however, that he was still in danger by being in the middle of the fray. At some point, he would regain awareness of what was actually going on and actually notice Reiko. She was there the whole time? How had he not noticed it before?

He sprinted over with a stagger in his steps and grabbed her hand. "We have to go!" He said it authoritatively, like there was no room for disagreement or arguing.

!!! One glance back was all it took for her to see that it was best to not stick around. "Ben..? What the-?" She turned to look at him again. With the last six still pursuing them, he led her up the hill and back into the protective barrier. No doubt the two members of the patrol who were with Maggie were looking in their direction and running over to check on them.

Catching the fleeing forms of Reiko and Ben as they retreated to the safety of the shield, the now-seven foot tall of corded muscles, razor sharp teeth, and claws encased in midnight-coloured fur that was Azriella began dispatching the wraiths one by one. Razor sharp claws sliced at one, ripping it to pieces before moving onto the next, growling gutturally as she took it with her jaws and snapped down on bone, dismembering that one. She looked to Guddesk then. In their scattering, she wasn't sure if she could get to them all. But, she could get to at least one more.

Most of the remaining wraiths that still maintained some autonomy after the use of Reiko's Telecom had opted to abandon their corporeal forms and disappear into the shadows. Still, four that hadn't been taken down by Azriella were pounding on the protective barrier outside of the cabin, thirsty for Ben. Ben, meanwhile, collapsed as soon as he and Reiko made it within the barrier. Sure, he would heal up soon enough, but in the meantime he no longer had the strength to continue carrying himself forward.

"SIr! Miss! Are you two okay?" The two on patrol had hurried over to Ben and Reiko. Whilst Reiko wasn't physically hurt, Ben looked like a different story.

"I'm fine," she said, "he'll be fine, but right now...help me carry him inside. Please." She looked to them pleadingly. Since they couldn't leave their posts, especially with the threat present, one more was called outside. He helped Reiko carry Ben inside. His being lifted hurt, but it was still a relief from moving, and he would take whatever aid he could get at this point. After all, freezing to death outside was still a possibility in spite of his healing factor, but he was laid on the couch in front of the fireplace with the fire still burning. "Ben...Ben, can you hear me? You're safe now. We're both safe," Reiko said. She touched one cheek with her hand to see if he was still conscious enough to answer. Ben simply groaned.

Reiko would take that groan. Any response was better than none at all, and she was just happy that they were away from those creatures. "I'm so glad you're safe...I knew you were still in there this entire time," she told him quietly, using a volume meant for just the two of them to hear, whether he was going to remain awake for much longer or not. Relief flooded her face then. "I didn't lose you, Ben..." Reiko murmured.

"I will want answers. Tend to him," she heard Guddesk reaching out to her.

"You..." Ben muttered, "...ain't ever gonna lose me, Casper...haunt me forever, please..." What he meant by that was anyone's guess. Maybe it was just a joke, with the whole 'Casper' nickname and all. Maybe he really did want her around. It could have had multiple meanings, or it could have had no meaning at all. The wound would have sealed up by now, but he still needed time to recover. With what little consciousness he had left, he reached over his head with a hand. "One more night here..?"

She was...smiling? Being called Casper had grown on her that she really could only smile whenever she was called by the nickname that only Ben used for her. "I'm not going anywhere, especially not now." Just what did he mean by telling her to haunt him forever, though? He was so exhausted, Reiko thought, that he might not even remember telling her that. Even so, she wasn't moving from his side. She took hold of his reaching hand with both of hers. "I'll stay as many nights as you want me to stay, Big Ben." Really? Big Ben?! What kind of a nickname was that?

"Hehe..." He chuckled as he began to drift off. "'Big' Ben...you've got no idea yet..." He snorted one last time at his dirty little joke before falling into a snoring slumber.

"Go to sleep. You're silly tired now," she told him. Freeing one hand, she kissed her fingers. Then she touched his cheek with those fingers and waited for him to be completely out cold. Then she found a blanket to cover him with and lay down next to him. After a few minutes, her eyes slid shut, and she was fast asleep.

Once again, Wonder Woman here had come to Ben's aid. He nuzzled his head into her and drifted off; free from fear, free from blood-rage, and feeling nothing but safe contentment.
Last edited by Reiko Souma on Tue Jan 14, 2020 6:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reiko Souma
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11 Jan 20xx - We Interrupt this...

Post by Reiko Souma » Sun Jan 12, 2020 4:37 pm

"You..." Ben muttered, "...ain't ever gonna lose me, Casper...haunt me forever, please..."

"What's on your mind, Casper?" His inflection with her nickname sounded different this time. It was always endearing, always friendly, but this time it sounded personal.

This would be only the second time that Reiko was sitting in the master bedroom, the first having been just minutes ago. Earlier, she had been on an afternoon run after sleeping the entire morning away. Running within the perimeter of Mist's shield with her Katana, and then running along the outside of it, had made the woman hungry. But, it had been something that she'd considered a bit of a self-imposed duty to carry out for the sake of protecting everybody who resided at the cabin. There were civilians, humans, Fae, quite the mix of various races crowded under one roof. All of them, in their own way, were more than capable of defending themselves. Yet a possibility always existed that even the best of defenders could end up being caught off-guard or, depending on the conditions, injured.

Before the return to this bedroom, that was exactly what had happened. Sort of, anyways. It was something that had clearly upset Ben, but here they were again. He now adjusted his rob, the reason behind that hopefully being known only to him, and took a sip from his bourbon. And then, just a stare.

Reiko had essentially asked him the same thing, but in her own words. Now the tables had been turned on her, but oddly enough, it warmed her smile more. To hear the nickname given to her by him alone in a tone that was more than the casual use, it seemed to cause something to stir within her that she couldn't put into words. All in the same time, she remembered what he had said to her as he'd started to fall asleep late last night. "Do you...do you remember what you told me last night..? You said, 'Haunt me forever, please,'" she reiterated. Then she waited to see if he remembered, or if he had been too tired by then.

"Yeah." He nodded, breaking the eye contact that they had made to bow his head lower with every downturn of his head. "Yeah, I do. I was scared I was gonna die. Truth is, I hit thirty, and it felt like my body just started falling apart. Now it turns out I've got this weird regenerative healing thing, and I have no clue what the limits of it are." He kept his head down, looking at the floor as his hand made its way to hers. Fate be damned if Reiko was going to let that eye contact stay broken. Some of what he was saying, she had figured out on her own. His regenerative ability was that thing she had figured out from mere observation of sight. No doubt he would be dead without it, if one was to be realistic. Honest.

It was only when Ben's hand made its way to hers that Reiko would take hold of it, holding onto it. With her other hand, she lightly slid it beneath his chin. "There is only one thing that I have ever been scared of in my life, Ben...last night, I learnt that I was scared that I would lose you as well." Was her voice becoming quieter? More intimate might be a more appropriate description of her voice by now.

Their hands now joined, her touch made him calmer. "[color-#cc0000]Yeah...[/color]" He nodded, even with her hand on his chin. "I haven't known you for too long, but I honestly would've been torn up if I lost you..." He blushed a little, but didn't move his face one bit. He strongly faced his shred of embarrassment.

The hand that held his, Reiko gave it a gentle squeeze of assurance. He hadn't lost her, and she hadn't lost him. They were here, now, sitting in front of the fireplace with a glass of bourbon. The hand beneath his chin slid upwards some, moving to his cheek. It was there that she rested it, hoping that he would look up at her. "And I, you." They really hadn't known each other for too long at all. "I am here, and you are here. We are here."

Ben said nothing. What was to happen? He certainly couldn't bring himself to kiss her. Instead, he just relished the moment of looking into her exotically-coloured eyes. There was a connection there, one he did not, could not, have understood.

At first, she said nothing. Their eyes meeting once again, it was as if she was gazing at...seeing something that she might have been seeking out. But, what? There was no denying that there was definitely a connection between them. One that, when seeing past the light banters, the ice fishing, and all else, transcended any expression of words. Her hand would continue to hold onto the one that had reached for hers, the other one remaining on his cheek with the gentlest of touches.

"I want to be the one who haunts you always, Ben," parted from Reiko's lips breathlessly as she closed the distance between them. Her lips were then on his, meeting for the softest of kisses.

It took Ben by surprise. Suddenly, he started spitting into a nearby mini-trash bin and held his head over it as though he was about to throw up. Cough, hack, spit, and wipe of the mouth on the sleeve of his boxer robe, he couldn't stand it. He gagged a few times before turning his head up to her over the trash bin. "I'm...I'm so sorry...it's not you, I swear." He gagged again and then vomited fully into the bin, wiping his mouth on the sleeve of his robe. "Please, just...don't..." He was about to ask her not to take it the wrong way, but found himself vomiting again into the bin.

Blink...blink. Reiko froze at first as she watched him. What...just happened? she thought, now completely confused. One would ordinarily be upset by this, right? Oh no. Reiko was by no means upset, as much as she probably should be. The entire thing had caught her so off-guard that she just sat there, blinking repeatedly at the reaction.

Well...that was...unexpected. The woman shook her head after a lengthy silence on her end. Then she moved towards him slowly, using her knees and below to carry her to him as she started to rub his back. "I probably should be upset, shouldn't I..?" Reiko finally asked. Some part of her brain still didn't process emotions a certain way. This was one of them. "I don't see why I should be, but...now I understand. Why it is that you use your fingers to kiss me on my cheek, and why it is that you're more comfortable with only kissing my forehead and hand directly."

Suddenly, she thought of something. "Hm...could it be my breath, I wonder? Maybe I should ask my doctor to prescribe me iron pulls that don't smell so rancid." Reiko held her other hand in front of her mouth. Then she breathed into it.

"It's just..." He held his head over the bin. "Sorry, it's GROSS. Saliva and mucus being shared...it's just..." He took a deep breath and righted himself, avoiding eye contact at this point. "I'm sorry, Reiko...this is hard for me...I don't know you all that well, and..." The fact that he secretly desired a certain level of satisfaction over carving her beating heart out of her chest wouldn't be mentioned. He simply bowed his head down and nuzzled it against her chest. Snuggles were still nice.

Was this a phobia she was hearing? Perhaps she shouldn't remind him that they had been sharing a beer from the same bottle only yesterday, That might make him want to wretch all over again, and she didn't quite want that. He had already vomited enough as it was. Nope. My breath has no rancid smell to it. She lowered her hand down to her side and the other, to his shoulder. "You know...for someone who does a lot of fighting and combat, you sure do have the oddest of aversions..." Reiko said. Her arms came around him. "...the irony is as strong as my being in the service with my phobia of blood."

After awhile of silence, the woman let out a silent yawn. Was it that late already? She lowered her hand and glanced down at Ben, whose head was still nuzzling against her for some time now. That he was too quiet now could mean one thing: he had fallen asleep in her arms. Her arms would come around him fully for the sole purpose of lifting him from the floor. Then, whilst holding him up, she would part the blankets of his bed for him. A moment later, she was using her telekinesis to lay him beneath those blankets. She tucked him in herself, then looked around the room. Since the bed was big enough and had plenty of room, she hoped he wouldn't mind her laying down next to him. She lay on top of the blanket next to him, soon out cold with both glasses of bourbon abandoned in front of the fireplace. She'd been unusually exhausted lately.
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12 Jan 20xx - Crash

Post by Reiko Souma » Tue Jan 14, 2020 11:40 pm

Reiko was waking up at what was considered a more reasonable hour to her, at least reasonable compared to yesterday's late wakening. In sitting up, she realised that she was still in Ben's room and stood. She also realised that she had fallen asleep with her Katana still strapped to her. Ouch? No wonder her body had felt it appropriate to turn onto her side and face the general direction that Ben had been sleeping in when she'd moved his sleeping form into his bed last night. Sleeping with a weapon strapped to your person behind your back was not only uncomfortable, but painful.

The first thing she did was take her phone from her pocket and power it on. A notification of a voicemail message from her guardian greeted her, and she listened to it. It was as she had been silently confirming for some time now. The red line was fast approaching. No need to alarm anybody over this, the Albino decided, and quietly stepped out of Ben's room to walk downstairs.

She waited until she was outside on the porch to make her phone call. "Moshi-moshi, Souma desu," she said when the caller answered. After a moment, "Daijōbu desu. Erm, sukoshi, hai. I got your message. You're not the only one...I'm starting to notice it as well, even with my daily regimen." The woman paused. "Yes. I've been watching the intake and monitoring carefully as well. ... You think it's almost time? Hai. Wakarimasu. ... Aishitemasu. Ja." She felt okay for now, and she understood. Reiko had to start preparing for her return to Terra.

In the meantime, the woman took a look out towards the river. Something that was supposed to be such a peaceful sight to behold and to enjoy poking around for fish had been anything but that in recent days. Those were not things that she wanted to think about, however. Thoughts of pleasant memories flooded her mind at her desire as she took to a casual walk around, staying close to the cabin. Reiko had thoroughly enjoyed her time here, for the most part. She wanted to be able to come back here once her obligations on Terra had been fulfilled.

By that, she looked to her left arm. In a matter of hours, or days, it would have an intravenous cord sticking out of it. She was going to be out of commission for hours, she knew, which was why she wanted to keep it to herself the reason for her return to Terra. As circumstances had the tendency of working with reality, however, she had a feeling that it might not be so easy to conceal. Her left arm lowered at that thought, and she continued to walk, remaining within the shield. Reiko saw no reason to venture outside of it right now, not even for a morning run. Today was her day to really relax and let the professionals do their job whilst she made her way back to the porch. And inside, finding a place at the table after pouring herself a glass of orange juice. Her eyes themselves, they were neither blank nor void...rather, they were reflective of the thoughts on her mind.

—•—•—•—


Hours of resting had been done. It was as if the exhaustion that Reiko has been feeling for the last few days decided to catch up with her all at once, all of a sudden. One of the officers from MisfitHQ had seen Reiko standing in an unusually dazed state and asked her if she was all right. She was just tired, and was going to get some rest. Onto one of the couches by the fireplace the woman had gone. It was there that her would-be nap would start.

Some nap. She was asleep for a few hours before waking once more, the sun already close to the horizon of setting. Opening her eyes, she noticed that it was unusually quiet in the cabin. Quiet was good. Reiko liked quiet. It meant that today was free of immediate threats not unlike those which had dared try to cross any of them so recently. That also meant, today was a great day, which was in the good things category. Reiko had assisted with playing a heroine a lot lately.

"Everything's still peaceful?" the woman asked one of the six from said headquarters. She may look well-rested, but the truth was, she was still feeling it.

The officer looked to her. "Yes, ma'am. The perimeter remains secured," he answered. Then he looked to her. He could see the subtle traces of one who ultimately wasn't well. "How long has it been, ma'am?"

"Excuse me?" Reiko asked.

"Your health. My little sister has thalassemia, so I recognise the signs. How long has it been since the diagnosis?" the officer pointed out.

Reiko sighed. She looked to the officer. "You would have been better off asking about my Albinism, but...it can't be helped, I suppose. Twenty years this March," she said, "but this remains between me and you. The last thing I need is for anybody to worry about anything else happening...especially with the area outside of the shield seeming to have become a combat zone NSFH lately."

The officer nodded. "I understand, ma'am."

So as not to interrupt his duties and his purpose for being at the cabin any longer, Reiko took a couple of steps backwards. They were there for their own reasons, to be the extra eyes with a periodic rotation to get the rest that was needed in order to fully carry out their duties. Socialising, she believed, wasn't one of their duties without any relation to the job. Sure, the friendly greeting was welcomed with offers for fresh meals. That was why she had brought the extra food back from Terra to begin with.

A delicate feminine voice, one that was not unfamiliar to the Illithid from past interactions, would reach out to him. "Hi...Guddesk..? Would you happen to have a moment...or a few..?" Reiko was the source, and she sounded exhausted.

"Ma'am! Miss Reiko!" Reiko had been sitting on the roof of the cabin following her conversation with the officers. Now there was a rotation, and two new officers took the place of the previous two. One of them had heard of her name being spoken by Ben the other day; it was he who came to join the woman on the roof. He was the one who noted the visible state of exhaustion she now wore despite not doing much more than take short walks and say a few words here and there. "Miss Reiko. Are you in need of attention?" came the query of concern.

The Albino shook her head no. "Happen to overhear what your coworker told me, did you?" she asked in response. The man looked sheepish, his face admitting to guilt. "This is kind of why I'm up here on the roof...nobody needs to be as concerned about me as they should be about the fact of it being too quiet. Like it's the eye of the storm. I..." She paused to receive a response to the telepathic call that was sent out a couple of minutes ago.

The voice that came back was thick, perhaps just a bit flustered. "I...I'm...is it important?" Perhaps the Illithid was in the middle of battle!

"Perhaps...perhaps it is…" She should not have to feel like an effort is being made just to use what came to her naturally. "Unless the sword you fight with is flaccid from a losing battle...I...I might need-" There is a cutoff as, possibly unbeknownst to the Illithid, Reiko's eyes slide shut against her will. Her message has gone unfinished, the last of the connection being a projection of an officer from the Misfits HQ carrying her down from the roof of the cabin.

"Ma'am. Reiko!" the officer called out. When there was no response, he immediately checked her pulse. Asleep, or so he thought. He lifted her in one swift motion and carried her down from the roof. "Contact HQ, but keep it in-house otherwise that we've got a problem...hopefully just a small one." As if Reiko's eyes opening in skits was an indication of such...she thought she had just blinked as she was sat on a chair and brought a bottle of water to drink.

The Illithid that appeared at the treeline was not gentle in his arrival. He passed any that tried to speak to him without a word, and any that stopped him would find themselves unable to draw near. He did not knock at the proverbial door of the shield in which he had been granted permission to enter by Ben, nor did he bother to engage in polite niceties with those he considered peons at this moment. His long limbs, wrapped in leather, brought him where he needed to be; he knew exactly where that was.

He appeared on the porch, looming and foreboding, an armored bird of prey, staring down at the young woman emotionlessly. She seemed mostly incapacitated, so he looked to the one caring for her. "What happened?" The tone was low, dangerous. He approached Reiko gently, looking her over. Although she was already as white as the colour itself, looked paler than normal, if that was even possible...it did not bode well.

The fresh air purposed to aid with assuring that Reiko was still able to function at all as she remained in the chair. "G'desk...tell 'em. Tell 'em that Ah'm okay, Ah' always look lah'ke this. Whah'ter than a sheet...it’s how Ah' was born." Granted she never spoke with her native New Jersey accent whenever she was in Rhy'din. That she did was a sign of her current condition.

The officer tending to her turned his head to look at Guddesk. He had made sure that the ravenette wasn't on the verge of passing out a second time. "Sir, Miss Reiko briefly passed out when she was on the roof. It's entirely possible that her current state is the result of exhaustion from recent strenuous activity." The other officer took over, and the one speaking to Guddesk stood. "My fellow officers witnessed her sleeping more than usual lately. Are you aware of any pre-existing conditions?"

The irritation seemed to fade as he closed in, and gentle hands cup her cheeks. It was a fine way to secretly press against her temples and get a better read on the situation. "I've seen her take medicines, and know her blood is not how it should be. It's all I know. I'm no doctor. Why is there not one here, now?" He went quiet then as he ventured to look into Reiko's head, replaying the moments she called to him, back...back before…

What Guddesk was going to see in his read was Reiko's diagnosis of the thalassemia variant of anaemia. If he was to venture just a little bit deeper, then he was also going to see that she had spoken with her legal guardian over the phone just this morning. The daily regiment of her taking her medication in order to manage her health as best she could and her knowing when to take it easy were, she had thought, no secrets. The woman shook her head as she tilted it down again, one of the two officers holding the bottle of water for her as she took another sip. It was then moved away.

He then looked to the officer, pulling away, and stood straight. "Someone here knows what is wrong. She does not belong here. She should be with physicians and healers." He gave a shake of his head and a derisive sort of noise. "You're supposed to protect her. Even if she's too hard-headed to realize it." The beak turned dangerously to another officer, and stared. "WELL? Do I have to crack open your skulls, to get the rest of you moving?" There was no kindness in his voice now, only the deadly gurgle and growl of a monster.

Reiko lifted her head some. "Ah'm fah'ne, she insisted.

He bent, and his voice softened, gentle and calm. "Reiko, of course you're fine. You just need a holiday. Why not rest? Drink your water, and let yourself be pampered, yes? I think we've all earned it, wouldn't you agree?"

"G'desk...Ah' told them not to make a big deal of this," Reiko spoke up. She shut her eyes, and then she opened them again after a long second. Her hand reached out for the Illithid's weakly. "Please...don't let anybody inside hear of this. Ah...Ah want them to enjoy some peace. Even if it...is too quah'et. Rah't now, keep it between us." The woman tried to tug at a fabric of his outer garb as she spoke. She then took a slow and heavy breath.

He'd gone to seemingly ignoring the others around them, fawning over Reiko as a man with a beloved pet, patting and stroking her hair, cooing his words softly, just for her. "A holiday would be perfect right now, yes?"

Reiko looked up. "A holiday..?" She was blinking slowly. Honestly, she was starting to have a hard time concentrating. "Everyone needs...a holiday. To a tropical land…" Her eyes shut once more. "What do you think Ben would say...or do...if he was to learn of this? Please...let him and Amaris...and Roni be at peace...bring me insah'de instead. Ah'll complah' with that."

"You heard her." One held the bottle of water, which was shut with the cap once more, whilst he and the other helped Reiko onto her feet. "We cannot leave our posts for the duration of our shift. We'll have to ask you to bring her inside and lay her on her right side. Make sure she finishes this bottle of water before anyone proceeds from there."

"Reiko, Ben would kill me. No doubt in my mind. I've given him the perfect tool to do so." Oh, he would no doubt be concerned. That was what she didn't want. She also didn't want to see anymore bloodshed, even though she doubted that it would actually come to that. Wasn't she supposed to be strong? She couldn't help look out for the safety of others if she couldn't be strong, and this was...this was rather weak of her. Forget rather. It was quite weak of her.

Guddesk made a displeased noise in the direction of the others as he picked her up, carefully keeping her upright against him, letting her head rest gently on his shoulder. He did not wait for anyone to open doors; they would open for him. He moved through quietly, humming a waltz to Reiko as he moved through the cabin and slipped into the bedroom that she had claimed two weeks ago, setting her down gently on a bed, onto her side after blankets pushed themselves back. Softly, he hummed as he covered her; she felt warm as she was laid on her side. "Do you wish to dream of tropical lands, Reiko? I can take you anywhere you wish to be...where is your device? I need to make sure it's safe." He brushed some hair from her face and tucked the blankets around her warmly, and she made sure that her arms stuck out. How else would she be able to move? Oh, how she had missed hearing the sound of the waltz.

"Can you...would you hum the waltz again, please?" Reiko asked, thinking about what she wanted to dream of. "Ah...I want to dream...of happier tah'mes. Of peace...a place where nobody suffers any longer...we can all be happy. Amaris and Roni can be without nah'tmares, and Ben and Ah…" Reiko's eyes slid shut once more. Her device? He must mean her phone. "Pocket..." the woman murmured, her right hand covering her pocket. She was having a hard time staying awake again. The water in the bottle might help her some.

Guddesk slipped a hand beneath the blankets to gently pluck her phone from her pocket, smoothing them out once more as he flipped it open with one hand. He sat beside her, humming, and tapped slowly on the number pad...and then flipped it closed, setting it on the bedside table and placing two fingers to her temple.

Just because her eyes were shut, didn't mean she couldn't hear. Reiko heard the sound of the number pad being pushed and stirred some. "What...what'd you do with mah' phone?" she queried just as the Illithid would flood her mind with pleasantries, some plucked from her own mind, and continue to hum. He stayed like this for a little while, tilting the bottle to her lips as needed with his free hand laid passively on his own thigh.

"If we are ever to dance again, you must get better. You are unwell, Reiko. Even the strongest of us must rest our bodies...and our minds." He knew all too well the strain of being too free with the brain, of overstretching when the body wasn't well. The two were absolutely linked and, if one was to fail, then the other would soon follow.

Interesting that he would mention dancing, though. The last time she danced, it had been with him, and she had been drunk. Well, both of them had been considerably drunk then. "Shourim...worried," the woman murmured. She was speaking of the morning's phone call. "Terra…" Part of her mind now focused on her phone sitting on the coffee table. Damn her being telepathic when she was supposed to be resting!

Shourim...ah, yes! Shourim! He reached once more, taking the phone, and tapped again, one-handed and slowly...before setting it down again. "Have you eaten, Reiko? What would you like?" Anything to keep her talking.

He had dodged her question. "What...did you do to my phone?" Reiko asked, the accent slightly lost. The woman wanted to know why he was tapping on her phone! Did he mean to push the speed-dial and call her legal guardian? If the cellphone reception was sufficient from here, and Guddesk did indeed push the speed-dial for Shourim, then the woman was going to be mildly miffed. She had already planned on returning home for an appointment. Now, she had a feeling that she might have to return sooner than tomorrow. Damnit!

"You could eat it at this tropical place, see? The breeze is nice, is it not?" He doubled down on the images: Reiko on a tanning chair, in the shade of an umbrella, with a drink in one hand and a particularly delicious sandwich in the other. Roni and Amaris would be building a sandcastle, and Amaris would get frustrated, then flick a flag from a parapet...earning a chastising before she stuck her tongue out and ran with Roni giving chase. Ben would be by the water with a fishing pole with his back to her and a beer in one hand, crooning some sea shanty that was nearly lost to the roar of waves. The images moved through her mind like a dream. A film, and she was watching everybody be at peace, just like she wanted. Reiko liked this image. She watched it unfold with some amusement in the image of Ben's poor singing being drowned out by the same roar of waves that would wash over him.

"Food..?" What would she eat at this tropical island? This required some thought. "A...a Kobe Wagyu steak, well-done, to piss everyone off...gotta kill all sah'ns of lah'fe." And, the Camden accent had returned. "Lots of fruit...with the bourbon that we drank last nah't." By "we," she referred to Ben and herself drinking in his room, the master room. And then, after another sip of water, the woman would stop moving completely. Whether she was asleep or passed-out was unknown to her.

She'd gone to sleep. Well, at least she looked peaceful when she’d fallen asleep. This was what exhaustion looked like with Reiko. She really needed to give it a rest and let others do the work. He would take this chance to pick up the phone and read the numbers quickly, setting it back down, and tapping them into his own device...and continuing conversations there. He was silent, looming, a dark figure sitting on the bed beside her, hunched over and slowly tapping away at the keys with one pointed finger.

The slumbering Reiko was, in getting that much-needed rest, going to be forced to realise that it wasn’t all about her, and it never would be. That was a lesson she really needed to learn as, gently, Guddesk would move her shoulder. "Reiko, you're missing the fireworks. Wake up." His voice was calm, soft, and reassuring.

Her eyes first squeezed shut. Then she started to slide them open again, just a little. "What fireworks..?" Reiko asked. She looked at Guddesk. "There are no fireworks…" Well, that worked, it seemed. He patted her head gently and cooed softly.

Reiko’s phone then vibrated on the table in front of her. "...phone...Ben." She put out her hand, wanting her phone.

The text that she wasn’t going to be able to read was from Ben. "Hey. I'm on my way back; stuck in Milwaukee for a little bit here. Squidward says you're not feeling well?"

"No need to contact him, Reiko. Just rest. I will do it for you, yes?" The Illithid held up his phone for her to see, shaking it slightly. What? No need to contact him? She didn't like the sound of that. "I'd like to learn how to use it, anyway. I haven't been able to, yet. Nobody has my particular number. I think this is the perfect time to start. Would you like to help me?" Again, his tone was soft, and now it was nearly monotone. Calming. Beaches and fishing, bourbon and sandcastles.

"Please...I can try to help if I hold my phone." The woman tried to sit up some. She would get her phone, one way or another. Don't make her use her telekinesis! "The screen...it will tell you what button to push to view the message. It should be the big one in the middle...show me the message." As in, show her or she was going to take the phone herself. Reiko needed to know what Ben had sent her.

Guddesk picked up the phone and tapped, as if unsure. "This one?" He was stalling. "Ah, wait, no...these are photos. I will try again..." There was some more stalling. "Ah, this one, surely!" Someone please... "It is the I? Surely the I, for intermessages…" How long could he stall? Please! "No, no...this brings up a...what is a google? Is a google your messages?"

Tap. Tap. Tap.

"I typed messages. It did not work...I'll start over…" Still stalling, he kept her phone just out of reach, as if concentrating. "I should have read the manual better...what is this one, with the little man? Ah! Yes. I see names! Oh, I'm not here…" Ben? Shourim? Anyone? He knew it would take a little bit for either to show up.

Inside, the Illithid was starting to squirm. "I'll just put me in here real quick, yes? Then you can send me messages! Won't that be fun...?"

Tap. Tap. Tap. Now he was typing even slower than his normal pace.

"E-Mail? Do I need one of those? I'll have to find out how to make an e-mail…"

Reiko was starting to get angry. As much as she didn't mind that Guddesk was adding himself as a contact, she really wanted to answer that text. Or at least read it! Her hand was still out as she frowned, her other arm supporting herself. "Give…give me that, damnit!" Reiko hissed. Now she was reaching out with her telekinesis to try swiping her own phone from Guddesk's hand. What the Hell! "You can make an e-mail account...later..!" Now laying down again, Reiko was still trying to retrieve her phone with her telekinesis.

The problem with telekinetics was, they were only as strong as the user. Guddesk absolutely felt the tug, but pretended to be unaffected. "Now, now, I can figure it out, Reiko!" he told her. "No e-mail, then. There. Look! I'm in your phone now!" He pretended to scan the device in his hand, holding it up for her to see his contact information on the screen. "See? No need to be so impatient, Reiko...I must learn these things on my own, or I will never understand them fully. Right?" He was playing the fool, stalling for time. Would anyone come to save him before he had a small Albino hanging from his throat?

"You're lying…" Reiko was getting frustrated now. She was flat-out calling him out on this. "...you had a phone before this, did you not..? You...you know how to use it. Don't you." Having started to try sitting up again, the woman raised her arm just as Guddesk reached out and put one hand squarely in the middle of her chest without thinking too much. He held her down as he shifted the phone and cradled it in one hand, moving his thumb awkwardly to continue.

"I've never had one of these devices, no. We always had the arcanist for messages, before she was torn in half. And that's not quite the same, you know…"

"Give me my phone back, Guddesk." How in the world was she supposed to communicate with Ben, damnit?!

He looked at her plainly, and spoke, serious and deadly calm. "Reiko, my sweet pet. I have contacted Ben, and your Shourim. I will have no more of this belligerence. You will lay down, and you will shut up. Do you understand me?" There was no bend to his voice. "You will do so, or I will do it for you. So help me, Reiko. Drink your water." He placed the phone gently on the bed beside her. "You will see that I speak the truth. I am here because you needed me. I am here because you called. I left someone…" He paused, looking away. "Be angry if you must. Just know I am here because I care. Not because I have to be."

She was clearly not moving anywhere, anytime soon. It was best that she give up on trying to move, especially when now her breathing had started to get heavy. "But…" This was not the time to be stubborn, not when she was truly in no condition to be putting up a fight like she was. "...but the others...Ah' can't let them hear of this." Guddesk was right, though. She had called for him to help her because she had been certain that she was going to crash right there and then. Apparently she was still managing to hang on, but not by much.

Too late. Ben came riding in on his motorcycle with the song, "American Music" by the Violent Femmes blaring out of the speakers. He ran into the cabin like a man on a mission, eager to assess Reiko's situation. He knocked on the door of her bedroom. "Reiko?"

Knock, knock, knock.

"You in there, babe? How are ya doin'?"

Son...of a bitch… Now there was no way that she would be able to keep this to herself whatsoever. "Damn...it..." On her face was a look of defeat. She was still breathing heavily as she turned her head away from the door and Guddesk. "...in here…"

Guddesk stood as soon as he heard Ben burst into the house and opened the door during his fervent knocking, stepping aside to allow the man entrance. "She's here. Her Shourim should be here soon. This is not something I know how to deal with. Shourim said I should try to keep her coherent. So I made her angry."

"I dunno Shourim. So fuck Shourim. He can ask my permission to be here like everyone else," he said flatly.

He doesn't remember what I told him… Reiko's forehead was warm, but not so warm that she was burning up. "No...Shourim is my father who adopted me...when I was seven. Before then...he was my doctor."

"So, what's going on here? Fever? Nausea? Do I need to call Dr. Callahan and and Dr. Nowacyzk?" He knelt down at Reiko's side and placed the back of his hand on her head.

The Illithid stood by the door, unsure, and looked out the door. He shifted, almost uncomfortably, and looked back to the two. "She went unconscious as she called out to me. I hadn't thought too much of it at first, And then she…" His voice lowered, almost in embarrassment. One could almost picture a flush over the illithid's features as he folded his hands in front of him, fingers writhing over each other just as surely as his tentacles must be within the mask.

She turned her head back to look to Ben. Her phone was by her hand. "I'm just exhausted, Ben...really exhausted. No nausea...I just slept all day. And apparently, almost passed out on the roof…" She tried to sit up again. It wasn't looking to be in her favour this time, and she moved her hands to try shifting herself upright instead. "Shourim...thinks I'm crashing."

Quietly, Guddesk left the room, almost shutting the door, but otherwise leaving it just a crack as Ben and Reiko were now alone. "What's going on with you?" Ben asked with a stern look on his face, "No, this isn't just exhaustion. Please. Let me call my boys. They can fix you up."

The woman looked away. This was what she hadn't wanted, to cause anymore worry than had already been experienced in the last handful of days. It was why Reiko always took her medicine whenever she was alone and tried to be careful. "I hope your boys are able to give a blood transfusion using my guardian's blood for it…" She gave up on trying to sit up and resigned to laying back down. "...that's why Shourim is on his way, Ben. I didn't want you to worry about my anaemia...albeit it's too late now. I was supposed to go home tomorrow."

"Shit, if it's a proper blood-type you need for a transfusion, then look no further than Dr. Nowacyzk or Dr. Callahan. These are my boys from back when I was with the Blue-Blood Brewers. Plenty of blood and in high supply. Even the top medical facilities in Atlanta can't compete.

Reiko grimaced, and why? The blood. She didn't want to think about the process past the stage of an IV being stuck into her arm. "AB+..." Her eyes shut. "...I'm so tired. Please...please don't worry about me, Ben." The ravenette's left hand reached for his. It was turned to face up. "I worked too hard…" What a stubborn fool she was being! The last little bit of the water sat in a bottle next to where she lay.

"AB positive? Shit. A vampire's favorite treat," he chuckled, taking her hand in his, "Look, I'm gettin' the docs here. This ain't anything to argue or debate over. It's what's happening."

Damnit. Damnit. Damnit! Reiko was cursing herself repeatedly. A vampire's favourite treat? That sounded even worse than having to deal with a blood transfusion!

He reached for his phone then and placed a call to his go-to guys. "Hey doc... yeah, we need you again, like, stat…" He stood up then as his demeanor shifted into a more authoritative tone, "I don't friggin' care. There would be no BBB without me. You assholes owe your entire career to me... no, no.... yes, you will be compensated...dude, if you guys don't get your asses here now, you'll have a lot more problems than Mike on your hands, that I can promise you…" another long pause was taken to listen for a moment, "Okay. Love you too, brother. Just get here ASAP. ASAP means now...okay, I owe you one…" That last bit was somewhat concerning. Was Ben really willing to get back into gang activity over this? Only time would tell.

Him reacting like this is exactly why I didn't want to tell him… But, if it meant getting a transfusion much sooner, than who was she to complain or even argue? Not that she had been given the option to do such either. Her eyes remained shut this time, probably for the duration of Ben's phone call. She really couldn't tell because she felt like she was taking micro naps. One more long nap wouldn't hurt, right?

Her eyes opened before that could even be entertained, however. "Ben..? I'm sorry I didn't tell you sooner…" she mumbled. Her left hand was still facing upwards. "...we've all been through so much. The last thing I wanted, was for you to have one more thing to worry about. Not when this is supposed to be a place for relaxing...and peace." Then again, Reiko's also been volunteering herself to help the officers of the MisfitHQ with their patrols around the cabin, inside and outside of the shield.

"Ain't no thang, woman. I got your back," he reassured her with a kiss on the forehead.

Tell that to the woman who was already fast asleep following the kiss to her forehead, a small smile on her face. There was a flurry of activity that followed with the doctors that showed up as called for the transfusion, and soon Reiko was resting easier upon the completion of the transfusion. She would be fine sometime tomorrow, but for now, she was going nowhere.
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