Hidden 7 mos ago Post by shylarah
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The day had started like any other. Cecilly finished teaching towards the end of the afternoon, and after the end of the last class for the day she tidied the studio before locking up. The weather was chilly, but most of the winter's snow had melted away, and she thought she smelled the hint of spring. Still, the wind gusted cold, and she pulled her jacket closer and buried her nose in her fluffy scarf until it died down, glad for the warmth of both. There was a smile on her face as she headed off down the street.

Cecilly was in her thirties, but years of dance and self-defense had her in superb shape. She was tall and solidly built, with short, dirty blonde hair that framed a round face. She wore a matched fleece outfit over her closefitting dance clothes to guard against the weather, and worn running shoes, but she wasn't at all self conscious because of it. Her stride was confident, and from a distance it was impossible to tell she was blind. In a world where a significant percentage of the population had some minor magic ability, she had been very lucky that hers compensated for the fact that she'd been born without eyesight. Instead, she "saw" the world in spaces and distances between things, sensing their locations. It gave her some advantages over the seeing at close range, but as things got farther away what she could sense dropped off sharply.

She heard the car coming, but it had a red light and she was already halfway across the street. Even if she'd known that it wasn't going to stop, there might not have been time to get out of the way. It was going far too fast, and she had just enough time to realize she was in trouble before her world imploded.

The sound of the car's engine moving away was muffled. There was something cold and hard and uneven digging into her cheek, and under her fingers. It took a long moment for her to realize that it was the asphalt of the street, that the rhythmic noises were the footsteps of someone approaching. She was far too disoriented to make them out in great detail, but she prayed they would help. Please God, I'm not ready to die. I don't want this to be the end. It was more the idea than actual words, but that was the thought that ran through her head. Please.
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Malice
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There was a screeching of brakes. A sickening crunch as metal hit flesh. The whole world was turning upside down, and yet the whole world continued on, as it always did, oblivious.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ stood on the pavement, watching, waiting. They knew the accident was going to happen; they knew before the day had dawned, before those involved had always been born. They had always known. Known that this incident would happen here, on this day. And they had known that they would stood on this street, quiet and passive, as the events unfolded before them.

Fate was stitched into the fabric of time, always with that inky black thread that signalled death. Sometimes it lay at the end, but for some, death was only part of their journey.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ knew this. Such was the reality of a reaper. They existence purely to ferry the soul, the spirit, whatever name was given to that core-essence of life, from their corporeal form, from their cocoon that made up their body, and take them to wherever they were destined to be. A reaper’s role was impartial; they treated all the same regardless of their actions on Earth. Reapers were not bestowed with human morality, it was not their place to judge; and so, quite simply, they did not.

And so, 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ was to go to this woman, to comfort her in her last moments of life, gently easing her from this realm and to the next. They stood, patiently watching events unfold. Eventually, they moved on to the road, silent as the grave.

Reapers would appear to the dying in many forms; it was not something that they had any influence over, however, and would find themselves cloaked in the apparition of whatever brought the greatest peace to the individual. Sometimes it was an angel, other times a loved one. Sometimes it was a creature unknown even to 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ themselves.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ reached the woman, wondering how she saw them. They knelt, placing whatever might amount to hands on either side of her face and leant in close, exuding an aura of serenity, a void that seemed to suck up fear and cast it to the wind.

But then, in an unexpected moment of curiosity, 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ did what a reaper was not supposed to do.

Whispering in a voice unfathomable and intangible, that was felt in the soul more than heard, they simply said,

“Live.”
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by shylarah
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The footsteps came closer. It was someone she knew -- the step and smell was familiar -- but Lee couldn't figure out who it was. They knelt, reached for her, and she knew that as bad as things seemed, everything would be alright.

Live.

The word resonated through her, and now instead of just peace Lee felt the pain receding. She could move her fingers, slowly lift her head. A semblance of rational thought returned. Had she not been hit as badly as she thought?

First, get out of the street.

Lee didn't trust her balance just then, so she crawled over to the curb rather than trying to stand. She seemed to be alright, though she could feel parts of her coat that seemed damaged. She was shaking rather badly but beyond that, she didn't feel hurt. She cast around with her senses for the one she thought had just been at her side. There! They were strangely hard to make out, and she still had the nagging sense of familiarity, though she couldn't place it.

"H-hello?" Lee called, her voice shaky and uneven. "Excuse me... do I know you?" They'd helped her somehow, she thought, but just how she wasn't sure. How on earth was she still in one piece? That couldn't be any one person's doing, she was sure of that, so...was she just lucky?
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by Malice
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死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ stood back, watching as Lee pulled herself away from the road and onto the pavement. They were quiet in their curiosity, observing how the woman dealt with her very near experience with death.

Lee would not know just how near that experience was. She was supposed to be dead; 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ knew that much, they knew that they should have untangled her soul from the threads of mortality and set her free. But 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ had not and so Lee lived still.

“Hello, Lee,” 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ spoke in that ethereal voice, one difficult to place but soft and calming, “perhaps you know me. Who do you think I am?” 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ did not know who they might be appearing to Lee as; even if they had had chance to stare into a mirror, 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ would have appeared to themselves as they always did. They wondered who, or what, was important enough to Lee that she would see them as she died.

Or in this case, didn’t.

The wind blew down the street, echoing between the buildings and scattering leaves and litter. 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ did not shiver; they did not feel the cold on their plane between worlds. 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ had no idea what was to come; they had never not reaped a soul before, nor did they of any who had failed in their task. Reaping souls was all 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ existed for, and by allowing Lee to live they were defying their very purpose.

What was a reaper who did not reap?

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ could not say why they had done what they did, but they were glad they had.

They rested their gaze on Lee inquisitively.

“Tell me, Lee; what is it like to live?”
Hidden 7 mos ago Post by shylarah
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The voice wasn't the one she was expecting -- and besides, as Lee gathered her thoughts she realized that her mother couldn't possibly be there. The woman was long dead, though the memories Lee had of her were comforting. "I'm sorry, I...I thought you were someone else. My mistake."

She shuddered in a sudden gust of wind that cut through her coat, hearing the whisper of leaves dancing down the road. The person before her didn't seem affected.

Their next question was a surprise, and perhaps under different circumstances Lee wouldn't have answered. Certainly if she'd been thinking straight she'd be getting her cell phone, calling an ambulance or a friend to take her to the hospital. Instead she considered.

"I've never really tried to put it into words," she said at last. "But I guess it's like having a fresh chance each day, to do just a little more, or make a little change. To keep trying. For me, I feel most alive in the silent moment after finishing a performance, just after the music stops and before the applause starts. It's a rush." Lee paused, common sense asking why she was sharing this with a stranger. But she trusted this person, without quite knowing why. She could spare them a few minutes, surely.
Hidden 6 mos ago 6 mos ago Post by Malice
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死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ hummed softly in thought, although it was more like a feeling that reverberated through their body than an audible sound.

“Quite curious,” they responded, resting their chin on the palm of their hand. While ever 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ was around Lee, their ‘mark’, they seemed to hold a vaguely humanoid form; two arms, two legs, presumably the one head. But as they held their free hand out in front of them, all they could see was the undulating plasma, black and purple, gold and red. Amorphous and ethereal.

Of course, no human other than Lee could see 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ right now, and even that was debateable due to her blindness.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ dropped their hand back in to their lap and returned their full attention back to Lee. “Life sounds… Fascinating. Confusing and tiring, but fascinating none the less.” 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ gave what amounted to a smile.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ tilted their head, taking in the ambient sounds of the city; the blowing week, the cars in the distance, the chatter of people.

It was odd, perhaps, that after Lee’s accident no-one had rushed to her aid; was that not what humans normally did when they saw another of their kind in pain? Or did they see no reason to flock to her side as she had crawled her way to the pavement by herself? Humans were such bizarre creatures, with their contradictory morals and their inconsistent interactions.

“Come now,” 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ spoke, pushing themselves to stand and holding a hand out to Lee to support her in climbing to her feet, “you are not hurt. You should take this opportunity to go feel that rush. You will be fine.”

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ hesitated then because, despite their claims, they simply did not know. Not for a fact. Anything was possible if you defied death.

“I think.”
Hidden 6 mos ago Post by shylarah
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Lee accepted the hand up, though she took a moment to steady herself before letting go. The one with her said she was fine, and so she believed it. It didn't occur to her how odd it was, that they should be sure -- nor how strange that she would trust someone so entirely when they'd only just met. "I should thank you," she said. "For a moment there I was sure--" Lee stopped, not willing to voice just how sure she'd been that she was in serious trouble. Her fingers found one of the rips in her coat and picked at it fitfully. "Anyhow. Thank you."

It wasn't until she was home, dinner cooking and feline fed, that Lee realized she'd never gotten the person's name. Or maybe she had, but it was during the period of time that she couldn't quite pin down. Things didn't quite add up but there was something about it that made her not want to put all the pieces together -- like a frightening secret that she was frankly much happier not knowing.

---

Lee had a nightmare that night, something she only half remembered. In the morning, with the sunlight warm through the window and Freddie a fuzzy lump at her feet, it was easy to put aside, along with her bad experience the night before. The rest was banished by a morning visit to her grandmother, who was delighted to see her as always. The sheer normality of it turned the memories into something harmless, and by the time she arrived at the dance studio Lee had nearly convinced herself that the previous night had been part of that same dream. There was only the matter of her wrecked coat to indicate otherwise.
Hidden 5 mos ago Post by Malice
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The fates were displeased in a way that 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ could never have foreseen. Their behaviour had been unprecedented and unwarranted.
Thus, 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ came to find themselves in a peculiar predicament, part punishment, part example. Part adventure. 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ found themselves surrounded by darkness and silence, neither of which they were unaccustomed to, but also surrounded by a frigid cold. That was a new sensation, as, indeed, was feeling much at all.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ wriggled fingers and toes experimentally, a smile quirking at the corner of their lips. They had never had fingers nor toes to wiggle before. 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ shifted, moving to a sitting position, only the find their head connecting with something hard and decidedly solid.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ let out a cry of surprise. Pain was new. As was not being able to pass freely through solid matter at will.

There was the sound of grating metal and light flooded 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘’'s vision, revealing they were stored in a tight little metal box. 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ angled their head so that could see the source of the illumination, coming face to face with a rather startled hospital porter.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ found themselves scrambling out of a mortuary fridge, their very essence captured and pooled into a human body, recently deceased. The porter seemed extremely perturbed, particularly upon noticing the rather large, rather raw looking gash, neatly sewn up, that sidled down the chest of 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ ‘s new frame. Yet, despite everything that might indicate the contrary, this body was well and truly alive.

And oddly perky for someone who found themselves, only moments before, in a mortuary fridge.

And so, 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ was rather hastily discharged, after papers were signed, clothes were claimed, and various staff begged to not be sued and for the whole incident to be forgotten with haste. Out of the hospital, out onto the streets, out into the world of humans.
死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ was staring down at what were now their hands while they walked. Experimentally they opened and closed fists, feeling the ripple of muscle and tendons beneath the skin. Each fingernail painted in chipped black polish.

Naturally, as tends to happen when one is not paying attention to where they are going, there was a bang, a sharp stab of pain and suddenly 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ was on the floor staring somewhat dizzily up at the lamp post they had just walked head first in to.

Pain was going to take some getting used to, as was this irritating inability to defy the laws of physics. 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ found it incredibly limiting. Added to these new sensibilities, 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ became aware of the fact that they were being noticed. People looked up, some on the other side of the street laughed.

It was not distressing, just something 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ was wholly inexperienced with; normally they were able to pass through the world without being seen or sensed by any but a single, dying soul.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ pulled themselves to their feet and, in doing so, noticed their reflection in a nearby window. Head cocked, they stepped closer; 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ had always wondered what they looked like to others, but before it had been intangible and fluid. Now? Now they had a human face and a human body and everything was going to stay that way until…

Well, until whenever it ceased to be.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘’'s body was slender with very little sign of fat or muscle, giving no visual indicator as to gender. Their face was hollow, gaunt, as one might expect from someone recently deceased (and even more recently reanimated), with two rings in the lip, one in the nose and bar in an eyebrow. Their hair was and unruly that fell just above the shoulders, with its darkness only enhancing the ashy tones of the skin. Their eyes were a vibrant green, a little unsettlingly so, and glittered with an unnatural power; a subtle shimmer of the inhuman energy that resided behind them.

There was also a thin trickle of scarlet seeping from one nostril. A result of the head on collision with the fiendish beast that was the lamp post.

死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ raised their hand to wipe away the blood and became aware that there was movement beyond their own reflection, coming from inside. They blinked once, twice. Sure enough, through pure serendipity, was Lee in what appeared to be a dance studio.

Without a moment’s hesitation to actually sit and think through their actions, 死̵̪͕̯̊̂̈́̇̚͝神̵̺͖͈̦̝̳̈̆͌͛́̋̅͘ banged at the window, a manic grin on their face, trying to grab the attention of the woman who should have died.
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