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5 days ago
Current Fire Emblem or Genshin Roleplay. Hmm.
5 days ago
Would people be interested in a Genshin roleplay?
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21 days ago
Job searches are hard. I hope I can get a good one soon.
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26 days ago
I want to form a writing group but not sure how to go about it.
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27 days ago
I started up a gig on Fiverr!
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The cluster of cats cut through the thick-leaved grass as they padded towards BreezeClan's border. It was always somewhat haunting to know that there was never any clear indication that one was approaching the other Clan's territory, save for a spare tree or perhaps a small hill. It was the smell of BreezeClan cats that got to you first, even before one got close to the one or two stray trees that stood tall against the backdrop of the grassy dunes. And if that didn't help, there was always the sudden presence of sand beneath ones paws as they got nearer and nearer to the border, along with the sharp tang of salt in the breeze. Smokestep took all of this into consideration as they walked, the tip of his tail twitching with apprehension. There was a kind of tension in the air that he didn't like, but he shrugged it off as baseless apprehension more than anything.

He turned his head to see that Hawkshadow had approached, blinking warmly at his words. "Thank you. And personally, I can't wait for them to leave the nursery. That's when you get to see their true personalities shine," Smokestep smirked and flicked his tail dramatically. "StarClan knows that RainClan needs more energetic cats with sticks in the mud like Coyotestar and my brother prowling about."

Meanwhile, Oakpaw was very much preoccupied with Stormstrike, her eyes wide as she kept up with the larger tom despite the longer grass pulling at her paws. "I smell salt, and water... the ocean! Maybe some rock, too, and--"

"What are you doing on our territory?"

A line of shadows crested the hill right in front of them. Smokestep raised his eyes towards them, narrowing them in the face of the sunlight. Five BreezeClan warriors had appeared at the top of the hill. He immediately recognized Cloudstorm among their number. The larger tom's muzzle was wrinkled slightly as he scowled down at Stormstrike. "I had hoped that the deputy of RainClan had a better head perched upon his shoulders."

Smokestep growled, padding forward and standing next to Stormstrike. "What are you even talking about, you hare-brained fleabag?"

"I asked a question," Cloudstorm snarled, taking a step toward them. His claws glinted in the dim sunlight. "What are you doing on our territory, Stormstrike?"

Scribing scrolls... well, that sounded boring. Then again, Aether always seemed to be involved in doing such things for Finch. Maroon felt sorry for the poor fellow. If he were in his talons, then he would certainly die of sheer boredom. When the other dragon gave him tentative interest, the prince's smile grew. Tenderly, he began to guide him back out into the corridor. "Well, I heard there was a festival in the valley of the nearby mountains. I was wondering if perhaps you would like to join me." He made sure to honey his words as he craned his head down towards him. "I think it would benefit your well-being if you were to spread your wings for a while. If anyone were to complain, then you can say you were merely accompanying me."

It was the perfect plan. Not only would he have some company on his escapade, but he would also be able to garner some intel on Solstice if he touched upon all the right places. Even if he couldn't, festivals in the SkyWing kingdom were always lively and brimming with both food and drink. It would certainly be a fun time.

"What say you?"

MENTIONS:

In a matter of moments, the meeting had lost most of its diplomatic backbone. Most of their number were outraged that they couldn't do anything. Others remained silent for the most part, sweltering in their chairs as they mulled over the words spoken at them. Some of them had even left the room entirely, Bianca, Isaiah, and Nordrin included. Hestia simply sat there, her knuckles burning with furor as she glowered at Hyacinth. The chairman remained ever stalwart in the face of a storm of mixed reactions, his features never betraying a wrinkle of anger or irritation. Instead, he turned his gaze back towards the people that remained.

"I would like to remind you that there will be severe punishment slated for those who do get in the way of the investigation. I can't allow any of you to get in the way of the police's work. Arceus forbid that we're dealing with a particularly malignant adversary. Who knows what could happen?" Hyacinth said. Then, with a slight huff, he brushed off his sleeve from imaginary dust before he clasped his hands behind his back. "Relay this information back to the ones who've left. It's important that they know this. Other than that, you may leave."

Hestia still couldn't believe it. To be a sitting Psyduck in the middle of this whole mess... her skin already prickled with apprehension. All she had to do was sit and wait. That was easy enough. It had to be easy enough. She had to do this not only for Ryker, but for the rest of the gym leaders. Chairman Hyacinth cleared his throat at the head of the room, adjusted his glasses, then made his way around the table with a simple: "Farewell, and stay safe."

That was the queue for them to leave. Hestia stood, her bones stiff with muffled fury. Her eyes avoided the glances from the other leaders, if they even bothered to look at her. She couldn't bear to meet their gazes. She was the mere shadow of Ryker, and yet she was all that was left of him at the moment. Yes, she was a mere shade of the one who overcame her. But now, she was something different. She was meant to be more, especially when she was currently the highest rank among them. After a long moment of thought, she lifted her head and swung her gaze around the room at the rest of the leaders. "I'll be taking my leave. If you need me, I'll be a call away."

Hestia was upon Lazuli's back within the minute. The winds of travel wiped her hair back into the vicious current that swirled among the skies, and from behind her blurry vision she could see the faintest hint of Hammerlocke.

MENTIONS:

What’s going to happen next? What would be the consequences? These questions, along with a flurry of more, were thrown at the chairman’s direction. Hestia watched as Hyacinth removed his glasses from the ridge of his nose in order to wipe the lenses with a pale-colored rag. It was odd to see the man so calm after such a disaster had happened, but then again, she didn’t remember a time when he showed much emotion– not even when he was fuming. He was the type of person to express himself through words and not through action, and while this made him easy to deal with most of the time, right now it only made her more anxious. She bit the inside of her cheek as Hyacinth’s gray eyes once again swept over their number.

”The details of the abduction are still hazy, although it seems that whoever did take Mr. Sutherland also took his Pokemon along with him. There’s no sign of his Pokemon anywhere in his residence. Not even his Pokeballs.” Hyacinth cleared his throat before continuing. ”Yes, there’ll likely be an uproar in the face of canceling the opening ceremony, but I went along with the safest course of action. Going forth with the opening ceremony might have put many more individuals at risk and I didn’t want to take the chance. Thankfully, we’re prepared to receive whatever backlash that’s aimed at our organization in response, so you needn’t worry about any of that.”

Hestia cupped her hands and stared at the table. Her vision became misty as her mind raced with thoughts.

”Unfortunately, the police have little information on the situation as of now, so I ask that all of you remain in close contact with one another. Reach out to each other often to check in or board with one another if you want, I don’t care as long as you stick together. I can’t afford for this to get any worse,” the man continued. ”As to what happens next… I've decided that the tournament will continue as usual.”

Her rampaging thoughts were cut short. Hestia’s head snapped upwards as she stared at the man with wide eyes. ”Hyacinth, sir, how are we supposed to compete if we don’t even know what’s gonna happen?”

Hyacinth sighed heavily before he finally positioned his glasses back on his nose. ”We can only hope that we can find Mr. Sutherland in time for the championship match.”

”But–!”

”If we cancel the entirety of the competition, then we’ll never recuperate from such a financial travesty. Besides, I’m certain that this is what Mr. Sutherland would want us to do, wherever he may be.” Hyacinth affirmed. For the first time in the whole meeting, his features darkened as he narrowed his eyes at the number before him. ”That leaves the final matter. I don’t want any of you interfering with the investigation. All that I ask is that you lot carry out your duties as proper gym leaders. Is that understood?”

Her cheeks glowed a rosy hue as she ducked her head. She couldn’t believe this. They had to pretend that nothing was wrong until they found Ryker. That was, if they found him. Her hands quivered slightly as her fingers dug into each other.


Maroon's eyes hardly left Solstice, even when Aether echoed her words on the topic of pit fighting. Pit fighting, pit fighting. Oh, right, sometimes his mother, Emerald, had dragons fight in the pit, though it wasn't to the death. In fact, even the weakest contenders had at least one sponsor under their wing. But the SandWings made the Tainted fight until their blood drenched the sands at their talons. It sounded entertaining... but on the other claw, very barbaric. He didn't want to be known as a dragon who watched other dragons disembowel each other for fun. That would leave a bad taste in everyone's mouth.

The prince blinked when Solstice slipped between the two of them and left the barracks before he could even muster a goodbye. His heart sunk deep into his diaphragm. If only he paid more attention! He could have given Solstice something as a farewell gift. Maybe one of his rings? Maroon thought for a few seconds before movement flickered in the corner of his eye and he realized that Aether was still there. Oh, right. Solstice's brother was still here. There would be entertainment at hand, at least. He smiled down at the paler dragon as he stretched out a wing and wrapped it around his shoulders.

"Aether, you're looking well. What do you have planned for today?"

Smokestep half-listened to his brother as he sorted out the patrols for the day, his eyes half-lidded in the light of the rising sun. He didn't have to pay attention to know that Stormstrike knew what he was doing. His litter-mate had proven himself to be a strong warrior when he was younger, which had obviously garnered Coyotestar's interest not long ago. Smokestep gave the deputy a somewhat lazy flutter of his eyes as the other cats began to move away. Standing up, he stretched out his back in a long, arduous manner and mustered a wide-jawed yawn. He felt Oakpaw's eyes sear into his pelt, so he straightened up and grinned down at her. "What? Do I have a feather in my fur?"

"Come on, Smokestep! Stormstrike and Hawkshadow are already waiting!" Oakpaw complained, punctuating her words with a huff.

He rolled his eyes. "Fine, fine. Let's get going."

Smokestep set off towards the camp entrance, the apprentice at his heels. He missed the days when he was an apprentice, though they weren't that long ago. There had been a certain thrill in going on patrols, but now they were just... boring. Oh well, he had to keep up the charade of a good and responsible warrior, especially in front of Stormstrike. Lifting his head as he approached the two other toms, he dipped his head in greeting. Hopefully something exciting would happen.


MENTIONS:

Hestia woke, with a hefty start, to the sound of a screeching alarm. It grated against her ears and made a desperate headache sprout from the back of her skull. Whimpering, she curled up beneath the covers in an attempt to get it to recede. But the alarm wouldn’t stop, not even when she reached towards her night-table as she blindly searched for her phone. It took her the better part of a minute for her fingers to scrape against the corner of her cellphone and send it clattering to the floor, the sound of its impact sending a fresh wave of pain against the side of her head. Cursing, she threw off her dappled russet covers and reached down to grab it. After a few moments of struggle, she finally turned the alarm off– though the flash of the violet numbers on her home screen made her blood run cold. Ten o’clock.

She was late for the opening ceremony.

Something left her lips. Whether it was a muddled screech or a groan of terror, she wasn’t able to tell. All she knew was that her head felt like it had a herd of Tauros rampaging through the middle of it, she was half-undressed, and she was late for the opening ceremony. A string of curses flooded from her cracked lips as she pulled on her pajama top and rushed towards the door in order to open it, but not before she stubbed her toe against it. Another yelp came forth from her mouth in a delayed reaction as she staggered down the hallway and half-stumbled down the stairs to see that Pine was lounging on the couch and watching television like always. Orion slept in a haphazard pile in the corner of the living room, his tail tucked close against his body as the fire at the end of his tail dwindled lazily. Neither of the Pokemon stirred, even when her feet stomped against the grayish wooden floors of the first floor.

”HEY! You two couldn’t wake me up?!” she cried out, her head hurting even more than before. She clenched her teeth as she pointed at her phone. ”Pine! You knew I had to be up earlier than this! Why didn’t you–?!”

Pine gave her a sidelong glance, then turned back to the television. He let out a little chirp as he pointed at the television with a lazy claw. ”Scep.”

In the midst of her desperation, Hestia turned to look at the screen. A newswoman with bright red hair and tired eyes stared tiredly from her desk as her mouth dribbled her report. She didn’t listen to what she said. Instead, Hestia’s gaze rested on the text in bold at the bottom of the screen itself. It read, ”GALAR REGION’S OPENING CEREMONY CANCELED.”

The fire in her chest immediately transformed into ice in her veins as she stared blankly at her television. Canceled?

Hestia turned towards her phone. Her clumsy fingers worked to unlock it and enter her messages, though this took way longer than she would have preferred. The previous night had left her head feeling both light and heavy as a stone, which affected her motor skills and even her vision, which was clouded over by a misty film that she couldn’t get rid of no matter how often she rubbed her eyes. Finally, she was able to focus in on the words that lined the screen. A line of text was in bold at the very top of her list of messages. A new one had come in not even a half-hour before, from Peyton Hyacinth. ”Urgent meeting at Hyacinth Tower. All must be here by 10:30. Don’t be late.”

Shit.

There wasn’t time to shower, eat, or anything else. Hestia had to get on Pokemon-back quickly if she wanted to make it in time. She rushed back up the stairs, threw on sweatpants, shirt, and a pair of sneakers, and tied up her hair into a somewhat crooked ponytail. Both Lazuli and her were in the sky by 10:05. And, while the rush of wind against her face and ears made her head ache even more, she couldn’t help but feel glad when her Salamence’s claws touched down on the street in front of Hyacinth Tower at 10:20. She didn’t even bother to recall Lazuli before she sprinted towards the building. Lazuli was a good boy– he wasn’t going to get in trouble, and Hyacinth would understand why she left him outside the tower if this was truly an urgent meeting. Hell, she wouldn’t even care if he bit her head off later. All she wanted to know was what happened and why they all had to go meet him after he had decided to cancel the opening ceremony.

It was 10:27 by the time she made it to the meeting room. Her ponytail was nearly blown out of place by the storm of wind she had just flown through, and her cheeks were ruddy with a wild mixture of emotions. Her face was stark white and her eyes were wild, darting towards the people who had made it there before her, towards an empty seat, then back again. Breathing heavily, she sank down into one of the chairs near the front of the room, thankful for the presence of soft cushions. Hestia might have looked like a mess, but she was there on time and with time left to spare. What others thought of her at that moment mattered little.

Hyacinth entered the room at ten-thirty on the dot. An older gentleman of about fifty-something-years old, the Chairman’s age looked much more prominent than before right there and then. It was as if he had turned gray overnight; a fresh flourish of pale color hair bloomed out from behind his left ear and arched towards the side of his head. She didn’t remember that being there, and she had only seen him a few days prior. Nevertheless, the dark-haired man’s head was held high as he made his way to his chair at the head of the table and sat down, his bespectacled features betraying no emotion even as his gray eyes turned to look at everyone. He clasped his hands in front of him, neatly folding them upon each other, before his the bristles about his jaws finally twitched and his first words to them spilled forth from dry lips.

”Thank you all for being here today. I apologize for such short notice, but I couldn’t take any chances,” the Chairman began. ”As some of you have noticed, I’ve chosen to cancel the Opening Ceremony that was supposed to take place at ten this morning.”

Hestia leaned forward. ”Why?” she rasped. When he glanced towards her, she straightened up in her chair and coughed into a fist. ”I-I mean, why did you cancel the Opening Ceremony? Pretty sure the whole of Galar was waiting for us to make our appearances–”

”I wish it hadn’t come down to it, but it was a necessary step I had to take in light of information I received from Wyndon’s police department,” Hyacinth said, gloom hovering over his words. A somber shadow crossed his expression as he rested his chin upon his clasped hands, his eyes whisking over the gym leaders that had gathered before him. ”Mr. Sutherland was supposed to be here at nine this morning. When he didn’t arrive, I became worried, so I sent someone to check in with him. When they arrived, they said that his home had been broken into– and in the midst of a struggle, he was abducted. As of now, we don’t know where he is or if he’s alright.”


Sunlight bled into an array of wispy gray clouds and seeped into his dark scales. Maroon felt its warmth in his wings, his flesh, his bones. He longed to fly higher above the clouds, to touch the sun with his talons and feel how hotly that sphere in the sky burned. He pondered if it burned just as fiercely in other parts of the realm, or if it shied away from the ice and snow. In his mind, he imagined that the sun loved the SkyWing kingdom the most. It warmed the stone upon the mountains and provided his people with lovely basking ridges. At night, the warmth resisted the cold faces of the three moons, having embedded itself so deep within the earth that the mountainside felt like it had never been torn away from the sun’s embrace. That was why Maroon loved the mountains and the sky. It was as if they were lovers, ever together in the darkness of night, and he was lucky his wings were strong enough to grant him the gift of frolicking between them.

If there was ever a day that he didn’t get the chance to fly in the mornings, it would be a sad day indeed.

His talons clicked against marble floors as he landed upon the platform outside of his room. Maroon sighed, stepping inside and making his way towards the large mirror that waited at the head of his room. A songbird’s tune poured from his maw as he observed himself. His jewelry remained in place despite his early morning flight, and he was delighted to see that he appeared properly groomed. ”Seems that even the wind adores me, lest I would have had to spend even more time on my appearance,” he purred to himself with a flourish of his right wing. ”And that means that I would have the chance of missing her.”

With a light heart, Maroon began his trip towards the barracks. He kept his head high and his wings tightly tucked against his ribs, his tail delicately wisping behind him as if it were a long flame. Even then, he felt the sun-soaked breeze from his flight lift up his paws and allow his gait to be much more lordly than usual. Anyone, even the most lowly Tainted servant, could tell that the young prince’s day had begun well enough. And that was a good thing for everyone.

The guard’s barracks was much less ornate than the rest of the castle, but that didn’t matter to Maroon. The most beautiful thing to ever grace the earth of Pyrrhia was there, and that was enough for him. Her presence made the barracks the most glorious place he had ever seen in his entire life– so much so that even Aether’s untimely presence there didn’t soil his mood. With a broad grin, he approached the pale dragon’s side and gave him a sidelong glance. ”Good morning, Aether,” he greeted briefly before he turned to Solstice with a flutter in his chest. ”And good morning to you, my dear sun. Did you sleep well last night?”


He blinked at her with his deep amber eyes as he took a step towards her. Though she was his sun, her heat always frightened him, for it would flare at times he didn’t expect it to.

StarClan, he hated mornings. But that didn’t stop Stormstike from jabbing a paw in his side in order to wake him up for dawn patrol. That had earned his brother a heated hiss from Smokestep’s side, but that was the end of that. They had work to do and they didn’t have all day to do it. Yawning, the young tom stepped out from the warrior’s den and greeted the morning sky with a narrow-eyed stare. The den seemed to be growing smaller with every passing season, though he wasn’t sure if that was because they had more warriors or they were simply getting fatter.

Smokestep yawned again, his paws stretching way out in front of him as his tail arched into the sky. When he was finally done with his morning exercises, he sent a disdainful look back towards the den. It definitely looked bigger on the outside than on the inside. He wondered if he should tell Stormstrike to tell Coyotestar that they should probably extend the den at some point. It would be easy– all they would have to do was gather more long grass and lengthy fronds. Doubt that Coyotestar’s in the mood to think of something like that right now, though.

It had been a whole half a moon since… well, that happened, and there had been no mention of the next Gathering since. Smokestep curled his lip as he padded towards the Stormrock. The thought of BreezeClan and FireClan merging together made his stomach wrench, but what could they do about it? There was no changing what Whitestar and Dawnstar decided to do without spilling blood. Now, would Coyotestar actually go that far as to start a war between RainClan and two other Clans? His tail lashed in frustration. He was always taught war was a bad thing, that StarClan never condoned it. Yet, at the end of the day, he would sink his claws and fangs into any cat’s pelt if it meant keeping Ashthorn and the little ones safe.

”Morning, Stormstep!” came the upbeat voice of Sorrelwing. The she-cat sat right next to the Stormrock, her green eyes glimmering with energy. ”It’s been a while since we’ve been on patrol together. How are the kits?”

Smokestep smirked. ”Getting bigger every day. Took him a bit, but Batkit’s finally opened his eyes.”

”Oh, how sweet. I’ll have to pass by the nursery and say hi to Ashthorn. Must be hard to keep track of three kits!”

He let out a mrrow of amusement. It was hard taking care of any kit. Smokestep of all cats should know. His poor mother had seven kits, and while only five of them survived until apprenticeship, he would never forget how crowded the nursery felt during his kithood. That was something he wouldn’t wish on anyone.

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