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sleepwalker (am i dreaming?)

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

the tower

 


  

 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts, telepathy or flashbacks.

Bold represents a language other than english being spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both telepathy or thoughts.

Underline is void-speak.

 


 

Light shines down in a circular beam from a gaping hole high above in the tower’s ceiling. Motes of dust ebb and flow like stardust, igniting in flashes of gold and silver as they dance in the draft coming from the skies above as it pours into the building. Its light bathes you in its ethereal glow. Is it not orange or yellow like home- home? Where is home, as far as you’re concerned this world has always been home but- instead it is a bright foreign white?

Despite its alien appearance, the sunlight still feels the same, pleasantly warm against your skin and you can only stare up with wide eyes. Pieces of connecting stone just out from the high up walls, and as your eyes adjust you can see the upper levels of the tower. Squinting against the bright light, you spot several unbroken spokes that makeup walkways crossing the central gap.

You want to see more so your turn on your heel in order to take in your surroundings. You are standing in a massive cavernous room. The walls are so old and ancient, with thousands upon thousands of intricate carvings decorating the worn stone. Tracking the carvings as your eyes move up and up to the ceiling where you expected them to halt. But to your surprise they didn't stop there, continuing to climb back out into the circular hole in the ceiling and beyond.

You wonder how you got here.

You wonder how long it took for the people to build and carve this place- You wonder and wonder -But there are no answers.

Stepping out of the light you stumble over rubble from the collapsed walkways, your boots kicking over small stones as the rubble crumbles at the edges. You carefully pick your way through the minefield and walk over to the walls. Holding your right hand out, you gently trace your fingers on the cracks and the carvings.

Upon a closer look, you realize that there are characters carved into the stone. No matter which way you turn your head to the side to try and read it like you would in your language. You just can't make heads or tails of anything that it says. You don’t think that you could understand them anyways if you could. Walking forwards, you allow your hand the ghost over the bricks, until you come across the northern part of the tower, it branches into a separate area and it reveals a wide-open space that reminds you of an auditorium.

There are cage looking structures lining the walls, built of sturdy basalt stone with not a single sign of cracks or defects. Looking almost brand new compared to the rest of the towers state. There are rods made out of solid gold, carefully bent, shaped and fused together, creating the gilded bars of the cage.

These massive cages are easily two or three times your size, you are so small compared to their might. Each of them contains large pieces of white stone, easily 30 feet tall. They're carved into large skeletal creatures, with metal accents around the limbs reminding you of shackles and chains. There are muzzles covering the snouts made out of black iron-like metal. In their pitch-black sockets, there are large gemstones of various colors mounted within them reminding you of the pupils in your own eyes. There are sixteen of them lined up on the walls. And not a single one looks exactly like another, each is a unique individual in its own right.

You wonder what they are. You wonder why they are chained up- Did they deserve it? Do they deserve to be locked up? -You don’t know.

As you pass the statues the gems in their eyes almost look like they are tracking you as you slowly walk by. A shiver goes up your spine as you pass one of them. It has two sharp crests curling up from the top of its skull made out of the same white stone that makes up its face, and a lower set of horns just behind where the ears should be made out of black stone, curling downwards like the horns of a ram. Bloody red rubies are placed in its eye sockets, somehow glittering in the low light. Its square jaw is full of sharp teeth and a single canine tooth in gold.

Taking a glance at its opposite on the other side, you tremble because the other one is even scarier. Made out of too sharp angles, its mouth contains a row of interlocking needle teeth. It has a similar set of horns like it’s other, the two on the top curving and twisting into wicked points. While the lower set is jagged like a bolt of lightning. Scary. You tear your eyes away from its dark sockets filled with that crimson light and continue forwards.

You’ll check out the other statues later when you’re not feeling so wary around the red-eyed ones.

Passing the final set of statues, the room widens into a circular area, another hole in ceiling beams light downwards. Staring upwards, you squint through the light once more and spot that the walkways are all whole, which makes sense considering that you are not standing on any rubble.

Glancing northwards, you notice how the room opens up to the outside world. There are wide open windows framed by columns of stone that tower high above and connect to the ceiling. Your eyes haven't adjusted fully, but you think that you spot stairs leading outside.

A table-like structure juts out from the floor, illuminated in the alien light shining from above. Compared to the rest of the tower, the table is... different in comparison. While the stone is made up of the same exact stuff that the rest of the tower is made up out of.  What puts it at odds, however, are the runes that are carved along the sides and on the surface. Compared to the blocky and rigid carvings on the walls. The carvings on the sides are thinner, curving and spiraling in many concentric patterns. Painted with some sort of blue dye, but as you take a closer inspection you notice that the blue dye is actually a crystal-like substance.

You reach out with your hand and gently touch the blue swirls, and a soft gasp escapes your mouth when the symbols ignite in a bright blue. The light spreads outwards from the point of contact and you take several steps back when you hear a grinding-rumble. From the center of the table structure, you spot two of the circle symbols go from blue to white. The grinding sound continues and the two circles slowly but surely rise up from the table creating tiers. When it halts, the silence that leaves its wake fills you with wariness. A quiet click echoes through the silent space, and you swallow nervously when the upper layer of the circle depresses inwards revealing a circular slot.

Pulling off your satchel- when did you get that, how long have you been wearing that, where are you-you dig through the pouches until your fingers touch something icy cold. Huffing through your nose you grab the object and pull it out of your satchel. It’s spherical in shape, it’s made out of the same blue crystal that’s embedded within the runes, its cold to the touch and even though you hold it in your hands to look it over to check if there are any cracks, it never warms up.

The orb, now fully scrutinized feels suddenly like a crushing weight upon your body. Maybe it's the feeling in your heart, maybe it’s your soul. You cannot see your reflection within its reflective surface- it should worry you that you cannot see yourself. But this world is not yours or is it. Is it? who knows- so you turn it your hands one more time before you place it into the cradle.

The earth shakes under your feet, the runes igniting into a bright flare of golden light. The circular tiers sink back into the table. The orb, much like the runes bleaches into white. Light shoots from the orb and blasts skywards, sending the previously drafty wind into a flurry, blowing your hair back as well as your clothes. Squinting through the light, you lift up your arms to cover up your face as fast as you can because the light is blinding.

Gradually it comes to a stop, and the shaking of the ground beneath you grinds to a halt. The wind that was a fast-moving gale quickly became no more than a gentle breeze, gently moving your tousled hair back and forth. Tentatively you bring your arms down, and while the light is still glowing, it’s not as blindingly bright like it had been. You stare wide-eyed at the orb, or what had once been the orb, in its place is a large shard-like crystal. It’s easily as large as a- butcher knife -and its humming loudly.

You move forwards, head hazy entranced by the light and the feeling that’s radiating out of it. You reach out and your fingers brush against the crystal, warmth traveling through your entire body. The tower rumbles again, but you take no note of it because someone is speaking.

 

Iyo ha bei’na ailohn taime syi’nh soh’muoni ha'as dar’eid io ehn'tai eir ouhr domeian. Hou’gh ka dou, soumu’ningyo?

 

Thae'dii naika ahndo’syuka. Ouer lahn’gueiji iyo mata anteik.

 

Geito it ay moh’meit, thay whill understand. Ah, see?

 

Welcome traveler, We are the Reinohr.

 

You have entered our domain. It has been... a very long time since anyone has wandered into this land. It's forbidden for most species to wander into this place, yet here you stand before us. But you are not the first to come here. In our many years of continued existence, many have come through this tower.

 

However, Humans are rare. We have encountered countless mages, monsters, and mythical beasts. The brave ones, the foolish ones, they are common-place when they wander through this realm. But you? A human? You have no magic within your body like a mage or a monster, we've often encountered those whose magic has been tearing them apart from the inside out, yet you show no signs of magic corruption. You haven’t been bestowed with a mythical blade for a noble hero. No heritage that you are running from.

 

So why little human, why are you here? Do you have the answer?

 

You open your mouth, your skull full of haze as you spit out your answer. “I came here because I heard that-”

Whatever you said never manages to reach your ears.

 

An interesting quest, and a much rarer answer. You don’t want the magic power to destroy or control your foes. You don’t want prestige or recognition. You want to replace-? Yes. We can do that. However, you will need to do something for us. A series of tasks that you will have to do in order for you to get what you want.

 

“I’ll do it.” You speak, voice pleading- but you don’t know why - and begging. “Tell me what to do, please .”

 

So be it.

 

These tasks will take great fortitude and skill. Because you have not the ancient sword, you will have to use your wit and intelligence instead. Do not fret little one, you are not on a time limit so you will have plenty of time to train and hone your skills.

 

You will need to collect seventeen shards made out of elemental magic. Each of them is defended by a beast known as a 'Keilaises.' you may have noticed the statues within the cages, yes?  Those are the statues of the Keilaises. They are large skeletal monsters made out of a mix of earth, stone, and magic. You will have to defeat the guardian Kelaise and then retrieve each shard that they protect. Once you have the shard, you will bring them to the pedestal. Once all of these shards have been collected, it is only then upon completion that we give you what you seek.

 

You have brought us the first shard. Sixteen more to go.

 

The shard glows white, spinning slowly as it hovers above the pedestal in the center of the table. Gradually the spinning becomes faster and faster, hovering higher and higher the faster it goes. Suddenly, it shifts directions instead of pointing down to the pedestal below it and aims towards your chest. The humming sound that you heard coming from the crystal becomes an unbearable screeching crescendo, the glowing white turned blinding and-

It streaked forwards in a flash of white, plunging through your chest, cutting through the sternum, through your heart-

 

It hurts it hurts, it hurts. oh god, it hurts so much-

 

A wordless cry escapes your mouth as the fire spreads through your chest and you stumble back, hands clawing at your chest as you choke. Ice spreading through your body as you stumble-

 

(Your first foe is...)

 

-You trip over your couch with a gasp, pinwheeling your arms as you fight to stay upright. It's a futile effort and you topple off the back with a yelp. Your bottom hits the floor first before your head does. Sending white-hot pain lancing up your spine. Your head thunks against the floor afterward, almost like an insult. The action sends staticky stars glitching through your vision as pain shoots through your skull.

You groan and decide to just lie there on the floor and wait for the pounding in your head, and the pain in your tailbone to subside.

 


 

Ten minutes later you are still lying there on the ground.

 

That was one of the weirdest dreams that I've had in awhile. You think tiredly as you stare up blankly at your ceiling. What was that place anyway?

You take a glance at the clock on the wall, red numbers- red red red like the rubies in the eye sockets of the two Keilaises - reading 5:45 in the morning. The sun hasn't even come up from behind the horizon yet, evident by the dark purple light barely visible through your blinds.

The sleepwalking I could do without though. Sighing, you sit up and rub the back of your head, wincing at the dull pang that results from the action.

You're so glad that you had the foresight to install thick carpeting around your house. Because without the plush carpet your brains would probably be mush by how many times you've fallen due to your sleepwalking escapades. You may need to schedule an appointment with your doctor because as of late your episodes have been becoming more and more frequent.

You honestly don't feel like going back to bed. You've got college in just a few hours, and you are too spooked from the dream to even try to go back to bed. Stretching slightly, you sigh as the bones in your spine crack satisfyingly. You decide to head off to the kitchen to make breakfast, wincing slightly when you realize that sitting down today is going to be very uncomfortable. Of course, you've done this song and dance before so it's not as bad as it could be.

You hum a tune from one of those songs that you hear on the radio on the way to school as your stir cream into the melted chocolate. The scent of hot cocoa fills your kitchen and you have to resist the urge to drool. Once it's all successfully mixed together you add some sugar and cinnamon, pouring the hot chocolate into your mug and topping it with whipped cream. Placing the pot into the sink, you grab your jacket and pull it over your shoulders. Reaching out you grab your mug and head out to your porch, the cold morning air caressing your face as you step outside.

Mount Ebbot looms in the distance. Despite all of the stories and rumors around the missing kids and the old stories that are found in the darkest corners of the library. You don't fear Mount Ebott. To you it's just another mountain, there have been countless other mountains such as Everest or the Rockies with their own missing people. Just because there are stories behind the mountain, doesn't mean that is scarier or creepy. So honestly, what is there to fear?

The mug is pleasantly warm in your hands as you gingerly sip your cocoa. The way the mountain looks suddenly reminds you of the Reinohr tower. Because you were so tiny in the shadows of its rooms. You idly rub at the spot on your chest from what the crystal stabbed through, an odd feeling bubbling up in your stomach. You take a sip and try to shake the memory out of your head. You'll probably forget all about it within the next few hours, dreams like those never last long in your head.

Something inside you whispers but what if it is was real?

You still remember the crippling pain that stole the breath from dream-you’s chest. That alien language the Reinohr spoke was too realistic to be created from only your mind. You weren't a linguist.

You decide to focus on the horizon, watching as the dark black gives way to purple's and pink, before igniting into oranges and yellows as the sun reaches higher and higher. By the time the sun pokes out of the horizon, your mug is empty. There's a distant sound of something breaking and shattering into a million shards and pieces. It sounds like glass.

You swear to whatever deity that is out there that you see a flash of light in the distance at the summit of Mt Ebott, and a humming comes deep from within your bones, deep in your sternum from where your heart lays. It spooks you enough that you quickly retreat to your house. Desperately pulling out ingredients to make breakfast and lunch before you drive to the Ebott City State University.

 


 

 Did you hear? There were monsters spotted climbing down Mount Ebott.

I thought all those stories were just, you know, stories?

Guess they're true after all. Now, what do we do?

 


 

 

The world is ending!

This is the apocalypse starting to happen. The demons from Ebott are coming and within the next week they'll make their move and destroy us all!

They'll kill our women, destroy our homes. Take children from their mothers and corrupt their souls!

Only God can help us now.

 


 

The news said that monsters have come down from Mt. Ebott. Crazy don'cha think DJ Mason?

Yeah Rob, I even heard that those creatures were being led by some children. Children! Can you believe it, Rob?

I agree with ya Mason. How bad must those parents be to abandon a child at Mount Ebott and leave them at the mercy of monsters! Didn't those idiots hear about the stories?  

The monsters don't seem to want to hurt us though, did you see the Queen? Toriel right? She was nothing but kind and serene...

Oh, come on, Dee-jay. These monsters are probably like those crazy Russians, waiting for the right time to strike. You can't trust them!

 


 

They're going to kill us, Clara! I say that the military should blow them all away and keep them off of our streets.

I bet they're very nice. You saw the queen, she practically acts like my mom, hell, she's even like your mom! I say we wait and see what they do before we judge them.

You're just being stupid, Clara.

I'm an optimist Rachel, you know that.

Still, they're called monsters for a reason.

 


 



Monsters descending from Mount Ebott.

That's all you've been hearing about since you've arrived at college. The first from the radio as you traversed through the streets. From the gossip about your classmates. It seems to be the thing that everyone's talking about, even your teachers seem distracted in their own way.

Yes, you are distracted in your own right, but it's not from the shock about finding out that monsters actually exist. But as far as you're concerned, you just want this day to be over. Done with. You want to spend the rest of it zoning out on dumb fail compilation videos and other vids featuring cute kittens.

You still haven't forgotten your dream and it's been hours now. Every time your pen touches the surface of your sketchbook you can't help but doodle the things you saw In your dreams. You draw countless runes that you saw crawling up the walls. Or you sketch the alabaster skulls of the red-eyed ones, using a red pen to color in those ruby gems.

It's not real. It's just a dream. You repeat over and over as you work on your animation project. It's just a dumb dream, you're just overthinking it Y/N. Get a grip.

Grip was not gotten.

By the time you got to your graphics design class. You ended up doodling three whole rows of intricate symbols that you had seen on the walls. The shard that shot through your chest several times in different angles. But the one you've been working on for the longest is one of the red-eyed ones. The one with the golden canine tooth trapped in its cage. Its mouth is open up in a snarl, face pressed up against the bars but unable to bite through due to the muzzle covering the bottom half of its face. The muzzle with the bars and the odd spikes that jut out from the front looks almost like a medieval torture device. Its expression is desperately angry, saliva leaking from its mouth and its paws scratching at the bars but unable to escape. You shade in the bones, highlight the shine in its gemstone eyes and color the saliva a faint reddish pink.

You look at the finished product with a pained expression because of how sad and hurt it looks. Like it's trying to desperately escape its prison but can't due to the collar tightly latched around its neck. The chains wrapped around its bones and legs pulling it back from the bars. It looks like it's trying to reach something. You think back to the sharp-scary Keilaise on the opposite side. Maybe it's trying to help out it other. Their sibling? Their brother or sister? Maybe.

Your thoughts flicker back to the question you had confusedly asked in the dream.

Did they deserve to be locked up?

The answer, for now, is no. No, they don't.

You close your sketchbook with a snap, something inside you ends up feeling oddly hollow. Saving your graphic design for some fictional company, you turn it into your teacher and make your way through the ECSU halls. Your head has a fuzzy haziness to it, and you distractedly dodge your fellow students as you make your way back to the parking lot. Somehow you don't manage to collide with anyone. Guess your spatial awareness works after all.

Distantly you can hear students still buzzing about the monsters, but you pay them no mind.

 


 

You reach your car in less than five minutes. Your car is a 23XX Model BMW, painted in white that your parents had bought you for your sixteenth birthday. BMW's aren't as expensive as they were a few hundred years ago. Tickets to Mars cost way more than any car nowadays. You've had it for a long time now, and have made sure to take good care of it.

Your mother was a wealthy lawyer who has won many of her cases. She's ruthless and very stuck in her ways, so much so that more often than not a simple conversation would quickly morph into a blowout argument that left you both feeling bitter. It wasn't that you hated your mother, you really did love her. But you couldn't stand her half of the time. Your father works for some big company as a programming engineer. Compared to your mother, your father is very kind and caring. You know that old saying, opposite attracts? Your parents are living proof of that saying. He loves you so much and has always supported you in all of your endeavors. He was everything that you wished your Mom could be.

You also have a sibling. They could be annoying at times which was very often. You would get into the typical sibling arguments that most families have when there are children, but you still care about them. You'd comfort them in the aftermath of your mother's tirade when they were left in tears. Because Mom would never comfort them when she said words that cut deeper than any knife. And when she did the same to you, in the wake of that long continuous argument. They would find you and they would comfort you the same way as you had done for them. But since you've moved out of the house to Ebott City, you haven't seen or talked to them in months.

You hope that they're doing okay. You hope that your Mom has left them alone. Maybe you'll call them later.

Opening the door to your car, you haphazardly place your school stuff into the passenger side seat. Slamming the driver's side door after you get in an buckle your seatbelt. As you glance over at your things on the side seat, you notice that in your carelessness. Your sketchbook had come out of the satchel, flopping open and revealing the red-eyed Keilaise. You lock eyes with it's drawn on ones, and it stares back at you with pleading eyes. A lump forms in your throat and you take a moment to rest your head against the steering wheel. You don't care if you look strange for crying in your car.   

It's just a dream. You think to yourself defeatedly, your breathing coming our shaky. You wonder if you're about to cry.

But what if it's not?

 

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

the climb

 


 

 

 

 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold represents a language other than english being spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.

 


 

 

Follow your heart, for the shard’s light, it will guide you. From where the light is at its brightest, it is only then that you’ll meet your first foe.

 

The words rang in the back of your head a constant reminder of the task at hand. A faint glow pulsed from just behind your sternum, illuminating the bones through the skin from where the shard had pierced your chest, beating in tandem with your heart. The Reinohr had said that these tasks would take great skill, wit, and fortitude. But you knew deep within your heart that you just weren't ready to embark yet. The only things you had brought with you on the journey was limited due to your satchels size.

Your clan leader- who is your clan leader-? Your mother? No, no. You don't know who the leader is - was very strict on who had the right to be gifted with weapons training. That meant only the strongest and bravest members of your group could receive training. It was almost always men who met most of those qualifications.

You weren't strong or fast enough to become part of the hunting group. Those who needed to be quick on their feet and accurate with a bow. You were no mage either, so you had no magic at your disposal to join the cleric to enhance your abilities. You were instead stuck with the weaker men and the women in the gathering committee.

Not that you minded, the act of foraging and growing edible food was calming to you. You didn't think you have to stomach to kill off the majestic beasts of the forests anyway.

But now you had to work on your speed, strength, and endurance. The face of the sharp red-eyed Keilaise was still burned into your thoughts. Facing those beasts in your state would prove disastrous, for you would get tired easily. And judging by how most of the Keilaise statues were muzzled in their cages, you had no doubt in your mind that they were hostile. It frightened you, knowing that these massive beings were willing to harm you- but did they really? Did they really want to kill you? You don’t know - You’re dreading the encounter with the first one and your hands tremble in your fear.

This proves to be a mistake, and you bite back curses as your grip slips from where your fingers were embedded into the stone of the outer walls of the tower. The momentary loss of grip is all it takes for your progress to be lost, just as you’re about to climb over the lip of the wall and onto the third-floor terrace.

The feeling of weightlessness as you lost your grip is abruptly halted as you grab a handful of the thick vines growing in the cracks of the brick. Gritting your teeth as the feeling of fire erupts from your fingers as you slow your descent. Your feet gently touch the ground and you release your death grip on the vines. It’s the fact that you were so close to getting to your goal that stings the most, and you blink back tears. The friction from your fall made the vines cut into your hands.

You choke on bitter tears and resist the urge to punch the floor at your failure. But that’d be too dramatic and childish- she hated it when you pulled tantrums and got upset, a horrible, horrible mother, can't even comfort her own child -so you didn’t bother.

Grimacing you fumble for your satchel as you try your best not to get blood on it. A few seconds pass by and you successfully pull a roll of bandages- someone had given them to you, you think so at least, they taught you how to make them too, but who did? Who taught you? Who are you again?- and carefully walk away from the wall.

Sweat drips down the back of your neck and the white-sun shines it's light down upon you a pleasant and calming warmth. It seems as if the sun never sets here. It will always dip near the horizon in an imitation of dawn or dusk, so you know that a day has passed. But the sun never goes past the horizon, always swinging back up and preventing the sky from becoming an inky black.  You take a calming breath as you crouch by one of the springs that flow out of one the second story steppes of the tower. It is flowing out of the cracked stone wall and leaving a river of crystal clear water framed by countless bright green plants.

You have not a single clue of how the water gets up to the second level, but at this point, you've stopped questioning it. The Forgotten Wilds is a strange, unimaginable place. You place the roll of bandages by the spring and dip your hands in that clear water. Wincing as the water bites at your cuts and you gingerly clean out the dirt from the scrapes. You pick a few plants that you recognize as healing herbs that are growing near the water's edge and place them into your lap.

You’ve found an ancient robe during one of your explorations on the inside of the tower. It’s made out of a strange metallic fiber and a few other materials that you don’t recognize. The table’s concentric spiraling runes accent its fabric in between the rectangular and triangular patterns. It reaches past your knees and rests just shy above your boots. It’s much better than your old robe and seems to have enchantments that keep you cool when it is too warm. But at the same time, when the temperatures become too much for any normal person to handle, the fabric seems to warm you from head to toe.

A mortar and pestle rests in one of your satchel pouches, and you pull them out with a hum. Luckily for you, you had the foresight to snatch the bronze one from the Clan Healer- you don’t know her face, you don’t remember anyone, who -so it hasn’t broken on your journey like the clay-ceramic ones back home. Scooping up some water, you add the herbs and quickly mash them all together into a paste before applying them to your wounds.

You sigh in relief as the herbs quickly work their magic, and you have a sneaking suspicion that there’s a concentration of magic in everything here. Because as you watch songbirds and other flying birds such as hawks and eagles go about their day. When you finally wash the paste off your hands the cuts are pink and almost healed.

You still bind your hands anyway, but leave the fingers open for an easier grip. Because you will climb up to the third level. You’ve gotten so strong now, the muscles in your arms and legs are more defined. You had spent countless hours removing most of the rubble from the central room from where the walkways have collapsed, and all that’s left are the ones that are too large for your body to carry. Quickly rinsing out the mortar and pestle, you place them back into your satchel. Taking a deep breath, you stare up at the third story terrace and grit your teeth. You’re going to get up there even if it’s the last thing you do.

The thought of finally making it up to the third floor fills you with a sense of perseverance. No, it’s stronger than that.

 

It’s determination.

 

So you take those steps towards the wall, a fire burning in your chest and you stare up at the wall with new eyes. It’s almost as if your eyes have awakened with some sort of power. Scanning the worn and weathered stone you spot new handholds and sturdy places where stone juts out of the wall with no signs of cracks.  

And the Clan Leader had said that you were the weak one- you were not weak, you would not bow down, you wouldn’t let her win, not now not ever- it was time that you proved them wrong.

You grab onto one of the handholds that jut out of the wall with your left and with your right you dig your fingers into the groves of the stone. Gruting you pull yourself, your left hand darting up to claw at another gap in the stone, digging into the dirt that has collected there for many years. You move mechanically, eyes searching for every available handhold or area that you can hoist yourself up, or any sturdy plants that you know will support your weight.

Your arms are starting to burn and sweat drips down your nose, but for once you are focused and dead set on your goal. One of the handholds are further away and you can feel your grip on your right hand slipping. Grimacing, you dig in your fingers harder and begin to swing your body. With a shout you let go of the wall, grabbing the handhold in the stone, your right snagging a thick vine that grows out of the wall. You grin widely as everything holds and your breathing is heavier now in your excitement.

You are so close.

You can’t give up now.

Your eyes scan the walls, spotting several more handholds and several long vines the color of clay and you resist the urge to laugh in triumph. Bracing your feet against the wall, you glance down to make sure that you’re supported and clamber up. Your hands grip tightly on the stone and nature, grabbing one of the vines and another brick as you carefully ascend up the wall. Alternating between different handholds and kicking your booted feet into the deep cracks in the stone and using your legs to push yourself higher and higher.

Your bandaged hands grip tightly against the lip of the wall, your fingers curling off the back and your grin turns feral at the edges. Muscles burning in exertion you pull yourself up and over the wall. Your flop onto the third floor, your body cushioned by the soft green foliage that grows on the terraced steps. You breathing comes out in heavy pants as you stare up at the sky, watching the clouds move through the pale yellow-white of the sky.

Your arms burn more than your legs do, but the feeling is irrelevant because you have done it.

Each wall that goes up becomes higher with each ‘step’ or level. The ground layer was the shortest and the eight-layer is the highest. You've got a feeling that one day you'll be able to climb all the way to the top, and when you do it'll be glorious. Because- you would have proved them wrong. Look at how far you've come, you're nothing like her because you didn't follow what people thought was your fate- you've made it. And there was no one to help you or discourage you. The air tastes like victory and you have to physically restrain yourself from letting out a triumphant roar.

Sitting up, you run your hands over your face and laugh. By the time you’re done your stomach hurts, but you are content and happy with everything that’s happened now. You slowly get up to your feet and sit on the edge of the wall, allowing your legs to dangle off the sides. The wind rustles your hair and it sends a cool feeling as it brushed against the sweat, chilling you pleasantly.

You stare out into the landscape that’s become so familiar now. The tower rests on a central area of grassy plains that extend for a good couple of miles, dead center in a valley. There are mountains almost entirely surrounding this place, towering up high. There are stone bridges that interconnect everything together, allowing you to get to other places. Sometimes you think you catch the whiff of the ocean on the breeze, or see a massive sandstorm brewing in the far north. The wind blows the grass field that surrounds the tower in waves of green, and you spot several rabbits running through the short grass near the rocks. There's been an eagle circling around here for days now. You see it flying around everywhere and you've often tracked it with your eyes. You spot it after a few moments, gracefully circling high in the sky. It curves in a gentle arc before plummeting sharply in a dive, snagging a shrew from the ground before circling back to where it roosts.

Taking a few breaths of the cold air, you notice how tired you feel. So you close your eyes-

 


 

-and wake up on the roof of your house at 4 in the morning. You blink hazily as you stare up at the black sky above, the stars twinkling in the high up distance. For a moment you stare up at the sky with a blank expression, until it all snaps back into focus when your brain finally catches up with what it’s seeing.

You’ve never been so happy to live in on a plot of land that’s far away from other houses in your life until now. Because the ungodly shrieking sound that escaped your mouth as you frantically crab walk away from the edge sounds like you’re being murdered. The way that the adrenaline rushes through your body makes you feel like you’re dying though, so you take deep and greedy breaths of the cold winter air in an effort to calm your racing heartbeat.

When the rush fades, everything feels slow and tiring. You curl your knees up to your chest as you stare at Mount Ebott. You can barely see it in the blackness of night, but the lights that are set up at the base are a dead give away.

Your thoughts drift away from the fact that in your sleepwalking had somehow made you end up on the roof, and instead focus on the past events.

It’s been four months since the monsters have come down from Mount Ebott. It wasn’t as stressful as you thought it would have ended up, but Ebott City is still divided between people who are totally okay with the monsters, the ones who welcomed them despite their fears. Then there are the ones who are tolerant of the monsters, those who were wary at first but have gradually come to accept the monsters in the city. And those who wish them to be gone and dusted, wanting them to be banished back into the underground.

You are part of the first group. You may not pay attention to the news at all, one because you don’t really care about politics, and two you just don’t give a damn about the news aside from the weather. But you do know from your fellow students that those poor monsters have been locked away for thousands and thousands of years. The thought of being trapped in a cave for over a millennia makes you feel sick to your stomach. You’ve got a new appreciation for the world you live in. Because you can imagine now in the dark morning what it's like to be trapped. A stone ceiling, no way out. No sun, no moon, no stars.

It’s almost funny, You think to yourself, You don’t realize the worth of the things you have until they’re gone.

Relations between the human government and the Monster Government have been weaving in and out of strained and comfortable. Monsters are such a diverse race and the fact that people know that magic exists made people both excited and fearful. People fear what they can’t understand, so many of those who were terrified wanted to ban magic entirely, while the other wanted them to be able to keep using their magic.

That debate had gone on for a while until the monster royalties demonstrated some of the types of magic and how they could be applied for good. Like how green magic healed serious injuries within seconds, and prolonged exposure could make old scars disappear almost entirely. Or how dark blue magic made gravity heavy, as demonstrated by the monster scientists. It was enough that both sides of the issue managed to calm down.

And when the Core was mentioned about how it could create emission-free power, the local scientists were eager to collaborate with the Monster Science Force. There was a lot of legal jargon talked between the two, but you didn't pay much attention to that side of things.

Life for you continued as normal as you could get. Monsters could be seen exploring the streets, but only able to enter if they wore a keychain around their neck or a wristband, though you've heard that some just carry around ID cards. Said keychain, wristband, or card had an electronic passcode that allowed them to roam around and acted like an ID. The same was said for those humans who wished to visit the quickly growing monster district. People like you would have to apply for specialized ID cards before entering the town at the base of the mountain. The place that was given to the monsters three and a half months ago was nothing more than a slum, the Ebotton City congress was eager to give the monsters that area and you found that appalling.

You knew the real reason why they allowed the monsters to live there. Everyone you know is aware of the Congress’ scheme. It was further away from the rest of the city allowing easy quarantine. And two, they weren’t using much of it due to the poor condition and damaged buildings.

They gave it to the monsters because they hoped that the monsters would hate their living conditions and go back to the mountain. So they could ‘keep’ an eye on them. Jokes on them, they didn’t count on monsters using their magic to rebuild those shitty houses from the ground up using magic grown and made materials. The fact that dozens of monsters could use magic and be powerful enough to levitate objects made construction easier.

Monsters were slowly getting their rights, just a few weeks ago they were allowed to drive as long as they passed their drivers test. In a few more months they would be able to vote provided that a majority agreed. Even the U.S. Congress and President were already working on editing the amendments and the constitution to give monsters the same rights as humans. It might be also due to the fact that the monsters were filthy rich. However, transferring gold and exchanging it for money was taking some time.

The feeling of the almost freezing air brushing against your face was enough to break you out of your reverie, and you sighed at the task at hand. You hadn’t even noticed that your teeth were chattering. Getting up, you let out a pained hiss as you looked down at your hands, revealing scratches and cuts on your palms and the inside of your fingers. Searching for the way you climbed up, you eventually located the fence that sleepwalker-you had used to climb to the roof. You carefully clambered down from your roof, using the side fence as support and lowering yourself down.

Your hands burned the entire time, and you took a deep sigh of relief when you finally touched solid ground. Looking at your fence you winced when you realized that there was blood painting some parts from where sleepwalking-you had cut their hands. It’d come off eventually, and the fence did need to be repainted so really, sleepwalker-you did you a favor.

Looks like you weren’t going back to sleep anytime soon because you've been having those dreams for months now. Dream-you has been working tirelessly on increasing their strength and climbing abilities. Almost every week since the first dream all those months ago, you’ve been having dream after dream in that place… the Forgotten Wilds.

That’s what it’s called right? You ponder. It sounds right at least.

You breathed a sigh of relief when you stepped into the warmth of your home, you hadn’t realized how cold your bare feet and hands were until the heat enveloped your body like a cocoon. Your hands were faintly bloody, but most of it was already dried and flaking off. Walking over to your kitchen sink, you’re quick to clean up the cuts and wrap them up in bandages that you had under the sink in the cabinet.

Making your way into your living room, you debated on staying up. Taking a glance at the clock on the wall, you hummed to yourself when the numbers blared 4:16 AM at you. You didn’t have any classes currently, you’d be starting again in the spring. These were the months that you worked and did commissions for money. You could call up your Dad, and he’d probably send stuff your way, but there was always a high chance of your mom picking up the phone and berating you for your choices. You didn’t want to deal with her, so you never called.

Sitting down on your couch, you smiled and sank into the comfy cushions, you were still tired, and you knew that when the light shined through the blinds it’d wake you up again. There was a fluffy red blanket folded up behind your head, so you quickly unfurled it and snuggled into the soft plushness and closed your eyes.

 


 

It was around 11:30 AM when you swung by the Stone Vase, a combination cafe, and flower shop. It sits on the corner of Jackson and Willow Street, two stories high. The lower half is where the shops lie, while above it is the loft where the owners live in. It’s a quaint and pretty building, made out of a balanced mix of grey stone and dark oak wood. Ivy crawls up the walls in twisting curls of green, climbing high up to the loft. There are several awnings above the doors in a rich leafy green, providing cover from the snow.

Stone Vase is run by a pair of kind women who you had become friends with. You were responsible for designing their logo after all. They had commissioned it from you when you had talked about your line of work one early morning before you got ready for your first year of college.

Miss. Stone and Miss. Kurotsuchi has been happily dating for the past two years, and they always give you discounts or talked to you whenever you visited. And if they noticed that you were feeling stressed or anxious, they would make you a special blend of tea that would help you calm down.

Stepping through the flower sides door, the bell jangling musically as it announces your arrival. You’re bundled up in a purple jacket that had a very soft and fuzzy lining on the inside because winter was approaching and Ebott always had snow this time of year. Adjusting your side bag, you eagerly breathed in the scent of coffee and roses. Reaching up with your bandaged hands, you flipped the hood off of your head and took a moment to smooth down the disturbed strands into a sense of order.

“Well, well, if it isn’t (Y/N)!” You turned at the sound of your name and smiled brightly at the sight of Miss. Stone standing behind the counter of the flower side of things. Miss Stone is an awesome lady. She’s a good four years older than you with honey-brown eyes and wild curly black hair in tight ringlets. She’s wearing a golden headband that pulls the hair away from her face, as well as her casual day clothes consisting of a tank top, jeans, and a green apron.

 

“Haven’t seen you in a while, how’s it hanging kid?”

 

“Hiya Miss Stone, not coming in for three days is not a long time.” You joked and fiddled with the bandages on your hands, something that Miss Stone didn’t miss.

 

“What happened to your hand’s kiddo?” She asked you in concerned and she waved you over, her brown, almost gold eyes worried. You obliged, and stood by the desk and looked at the flower arrangements that decorated the oak surface.

 

Miss Stone gently took your hands into hers and gingerly unwrapped the bandages. Revealing the litany of scratches and cuts on the palms of your hands. She hummed to herself, before staring you in the eyes. “You’ve done a great job of dressing the wounds, I’ve got something that I can put on ‘em to speed up the healing process if you want it.”

 

You considered it for a moment before nodding, and you watched as Miss Stone ducked under the counter for a moment before pulling out a container of herb paste. You blinked in surprise because you recognized the mixture. Dream you had made the exact same thing. Miss Stone quickly applied a generous amount and wrapped up your cuts with the original bandages.

 

“When you get home, you can wash it off and within the next day this'll be healed.” Stone hummed and then closed up the paste again. “This stuff is relatively difficult to come by because it's of monster make, but it works like a damn charm. How’d you get those cuts anyway?”

 

“Sleepwalking incident.” You blurt out, mind still in shock by the fact that that the herb cream was the same stuff as your dream, only more refined. When Miss Stone gestures for you continue you swallow nervously. “Tried to climb a fence or something, only noticed it when I woke up.”

 

“Jeez, kid.” She sighs and shakes her head, wild black hair flowing back and forth like seagrass in a moving current. “You get yourself into some situations, don’t you? Didn’t you trip over a couch a few months ago?”

 

“Uhh, yeah. I did.” You nod and mumble an affirmative, mildly embarrassed that she remembered the whole incident.

 

“Whatever, hopefully, your Doc can find ya somethin that will help with those walks of yours. In the meantime, do you want some flowers?” Miss Stone asks, and pulls up a small stand chocked full of seed packets. “We’ve recently gotten a shipment of those Golden Flowers from the underground, and a new mystery pack of seeds called ‘Echo Flowers’.”

 

You look at them in interest, the Echo Flower package reveals a bizarrely blue looking flower that reminds you of a trumpet. Reading the labels, you smile when you read the words bioluminescent written in a fancy golden font. In fact, even the golden flower pack also says bioluminescent, which is pretty damn neat. “I’ll get one of each, it says they glow in the dark.”

 

Miss Stone grins and hands you two of the packs. “I knew you’d want to buy them, they’re also low maintenance as well. Kuro’s got some Echoes growin’ back at home. They’re great indoor plants that don’t need much light”

 

“Sounds cool.” You take them from her as she rings you up, eagerly forking out five dollars to pay for them and getting 50 cents back. “I’m gonna head to the coffee side of things, I’m in a mood for that tea.”

 

“Alright, I gotta prepare an order for some lovely lady.” Miss Stone says with a grin. “See you around kiddo.”

 

"Hey, actually, before you go!" As you turn to head out of the cafe, You falter when Miss Stone abruptly grabs your arm and presses something into the palm of your bandaged hands. Glancing down, you notice that she's placed a tube of what looks like to be medicinal cream. Though you don't recognize the brand, it's a pale green in color, written in some font that you've never seen before. "Take this with ya!"

 

"C-Grade Medicinal herbal cream, infused with C-grade and B-Rank green magic?" You mutter in confusion, glancing up at Miss Stone with a wary expression. "Where did you get this?"

 

"I think that you'll get more use out of it than I will. Consider it a gift." Miss Stone sends you one of her dazzling smiles. "I got it from a friend of mine, she's very... interesting to say the least. You'd like her."

 

You glance back down at the tube of medicine before placing it into your satchel pocket, covering it with the packets of flower seeds. "Thanks, Miss Stone, I appreciate it."

 

"No problem, kid. Take care of yourself." Miss Stone waves at you before continuing to mess around with whatever she has behind the counter.

 

You glance down at your bag warily before moving to go through the door that leads to Miss Kurotsuchi's section of the café.

You immediately walk into a fierce argument and regret your entire decision. The whole café was silent. Which is a rare thing considering the constant hustle and bustle of Stone Vase. A vast majority of the patrons, who are sitting at the tables lining the windows, were watching the whole thing but making not a single sound. Said argument was between one of the workers, Michael a scientist in training, who has the morning shift in the shop before he heads off to the science lab for his work. And… a short skeleton monster with- rubies embedded in the eye sockets, a single canine tooth in gold- wearing a red and black hoodie with golden accents on the zippers and the black basketball shorts.

How the hell is a Keilaise here? You thought in horror, eyes wide as you took the skeleton in. He was a dead ringer for the smaller red-eyed one, the lion keilaise. His expression, the teeth, the eyes. Everything. Well, aside from the fact that he's not as bestial.  I’m hallucinating. This has to be my thought haunting me. It’s not real.

But what if it’s not? Now, what are we gonna do (Y/N)?

 

“Sir, I’m telling you we don’t accept gold coins here.” Michael sighed, visibly withering under the red-eyed skeletons glare. “I mean- we haven’t gotten permission-”

 

“that’s bullshit ‘n you know it. i pay attention to the goddamn law. GC law 3.4 Section A clearly dictates-” The skeleton cuts in with a snarl, snapping out the facts from a law that you haven’t even heard of yet.

 

You swallowed nervously. Because- well, holy hell his voice was deep and with a slightly growly edge to it. His red eyes were glinting dangerously, and you knew that he was trying to obviously restrain himself and failing horribly. Not many people must see it, but you see red sparks occasionally flickering at the joints of his phalanges. “y'know what? all o’ yer damn human stores have been sayin’ the same shit each time i try to order somethin.”

 

“I can’t control the law.” Michael deadpanned looking around the store for assistance, and he locked eyes with Miss Kuro who was in the back a desperate expression on his face.

 

Taking a soft breath you grabbed a hold of the determination in your heart and square your shoulders, approaching the counter where the argument started to become even worse. Michael immediately turns to you and the skeleton’s expression turns murderous, you repress the urge to shudder as he glares at you.

 

“Ah, (Y/N)! Glad to see you again, it’s been a while since you’ve come by!” Michael eagerly addressed you, and the skeleton scoffs. “I’m glad to hear that the art business is doing good for you.”

 

“Hey. Michael, glad to see you too.” You spoke, and you were silently proud of the fact that your voice didn’t waver. “Well, it's kinda funny that you mentioned that the art business is doing well.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“You see, I manage to finish one hell of a commission the other day, and the commissioner paid me one heck of a sweet deal.” You explain. “So I’m feeling a little generous today considering the size of the tip that they gave me afterward.”

 

“generous?” the skeleton mocked, and you resisted the urge to roll your eyes, heart pounding in your chest.

 

“Yep. You can choose any drink and any pastry off the menu. Hell, you could get the most freaking expensive item on the menu.” You respond without a beat, turning to look him in the eyes. Your heart is pounding so loud in your ears, you wonder if anyone else can hear it. “And I’ll pay for it. All of it.”

 

Michael all but gapes at you, and you send him a reassuring smile. It’s the skeleton’s turn to also look bewildered as well, an odd edge comes to his eye- ...lights? -as he stares you down. “wait, hol' up, there’s gotta be a catch. there’s no way ya’d even-”

 

“Alright, you got me there, there is a catch.” You admit and the skeleton’s expression turns stony like he expected you to pull a fast one on him. Good thing that you're not an asshole. He then looks really confused when you pull out a sketchbook from your bag.

 

You wave it a bit as you speak, the pure white pages flapping as you continue to talk, before snapping it shut. “I’m an art student you see. Sometimes people’s looks and expressions interest me.”

 

That was true. You would often draw people and objects that caught your eye, so you weren’t lying. And the skeleton was interesting, so it was the truth as far as you were concerned. A statement full of truths and not one little white lie. You hate liars. “I don’t need to be paid in money, but a portrait.”

 

The whole restaurant is staring at you openly now. Michael’s jaw has all but dropped to the floor, and some of the regulars are mimicking his expression. Miss Kuro, who is still looking from the back where she’s making a batch of choco-chip lava cakes looks very amused and you think that you spot her mouthing a “You go (Y/N)!”.

 

Looks like you're not going to be living this down with the Kurotsuchi-Stone girlfriends. Oh well. It's always good to have some support though. You'll find this funny one day, and the three of you can laugh about it later. But today's not that day. Anyway, back to the current situation at hand.

 

Even the skeleton looks taken aback.

 

“Wha-”

 

“I mean, hey it’s not a bad deal. All you need to do is sit down and be yourself while I draw, and you get some free food that's really awesome.” You grin, even though it feels a little strained and try to shrug carelessly. It works somehow. “Besides, who doesn’t like getting some good fuckin’ free shit?”

 

Your sudden use of swears manages a startles laugh out of the skeleton, and he seems a little bit more relaxed. This causes you to resist the urge to grin. There's an internal debate churning in that skull of his, you can see it in the considering glint of his eye-lights. Finally, he makes his decision. “alright, fine. you got yerself a deal kid.”

 

“Excellent!” You turn back to Michael and heh- rattle off your order. You immediately go for your favorite tea, something that Miss. Kuro doesn’t actually have on the menu. “I’d like to get Kuro’s ‘For The Artist’ special and the 'Pink Power’ Tart.”

 

Turning to the skeleton, you gesture for him to go. He actually flounders for a moment and stares up at the order. “uh- shit, gimmie a second- didn’t actually think i’d get this far-”

 

You look over at Michael and send him a look because you wonder how many other monsters he’s turned away. Maybe some of them had human money and could get the food, it wasn't like the government moved that slow. With the monster thing being as big of a world-changing event, they don't have time to be slow. And he puts his hands up in surrender.

 

“uh, the ‘Cinna Surprise’ cocoa ‘n a 'Zebra Swirl’ lava cake.” The skeleton finishes, and steps back. Well, he chose the most expensive drink, but you didn’t complain because the cinnamon roll hot cocoa was one of the best ones on the menu.

 

“Michael!” Miss Kuro shouts from the back, causing the poor scientist in training to jump, spinning quickly on.

 

“Uh, yes Miss Kuro?’ He calls back tentatively, blue eyes wide.

 

“Give Y/N the discount!” Kuro hollers and goes back to making her next batch of 'rockin-rainbow’ cookies.

 

“Alright! Got it!” Michael shouts back, taking your credit card from your hand. You watch as the price goes down a couple bucks and swipes your card before handing it back.  

 

“Alrighty Y/N, your orders will be out in a bit.” Michael sends the skeleton one more wary look before he heads to the back where he gives his fellow co-worker, Chloe the order.

 

You hum some mindless tune and head off to your typical table that’s situated in the corner of the café and has a good look at the street and the camellias that are placed outside the café’s windows. Red-eyes follow just shy behind you and you notice that his whole posture and expression is tensed. It’s only then that you notice that people are still starting, and you find yourself also straightening up at the attention.

 

“I usually sit here, I don't do well with crowds.” You blurt out nervously and gesture to the table that's farther away from the rest of the crowd in the corner. There's a speaker nearby that plays some soft jazzy-café music that blocks out the whispering coming from the patrons. “It's decently far away from people and you get a good view of the street, so, yeah.”

 

The skeleton blinks at you and then glances at the crowd who stares back. He has a good view of the whole store, and there’s no side door for anyone to get to close without anyone sneaking up on him. It’s enough and the skeleton relaxes.

 

“alright.” Pretty red eyes stare at you with an odd expression that you can't place and he chooses the seat that's back against the wall. Sliding himself into the soft cushions of the seat that overlooks the store.

 

You sit down across from him and place your sketchbook onto the polished dark-oak wood of the table. You place your side bag next to your legs and quickly dig through one of the pouches for a sketch pen and a red gel pen.

 

“Yer really are fuckin’ serious ‘bout the whole portrait thing arencha.” He asks, his voice rumbling lowly.

 

“Well, we made a deal didn't we?” You ask, tilting your head to the side as you deposit your pens and pencils onto your sketchbook. “I helped you pay, and now you're helping me further my art career. That counts for something doesn't it?”

 

“sure, whatever.” The skeleton lets out an amused snort and rolls his eye-lights, his clawed distal phalanges tapping the table in a rhythmic beat. A nervous tic maybe? “er, thanks a latte for the help back there….uh, really fuckin ‘ppreciate it.”

 

Puns? Oh god yes. You laugh and immediately regret it because the skeleton’s expression twists into an upset glower, almost bearing his teeth. The fact that he’s so expressive is surprising considering that he's a skeleton. But he's made of magic so he doesn't have to follow human skeletal rules. You raise your hands quickly up in surrender and he pauses for a moment, staring at the bandages wrapped around the backs and the palms of your hands. “Sorry, sorry, I'm not laughing at you, uh, you said a pun. I like puns. Um-”

 

Come on Y/N, you can do this. Think, think, think, coffee puns. You are the pun master.

 

“Coffee puns really aren’t my cup of tea, so, you know what they say.” You stutter. “If you can’t do em’, brew it!”

 

“Heh.” He snorts, eye-lights widening slightly as he chuckles like he’s surprised that he actually laughed. You feel accomplished with yourself and try to smother your smile. “Alright, yer not half bad, kid.”

 

“Um, I never did manage to catch your name. It’d probably be rude to keep calling you ‘the Skeleton’.” You say, making air quotes about the skeleton part before you fiddle with your bandages.

 

“The names' Carmine, Carmine the Skeleton.” He holds out his hand, and you take it into yours. You think you feel a buzzing-shock sensation, a joy-buzzer? It probably would've hurt more, but your bandages block it out for the most part. The look on his face is slightly confusing if not regretful, but he easily ignores it.

 

“Carmine?” You ask, and mentally compare his eye-lights to the rich red color. “It’s very fitting, your eyes are the same shade, they’re very pretty.”

 

Carmine’s skull turns an equally red shade at his rounded cheekbones, that guarded look in his eyes returns full force. He reaches up to the hems of his hood and seems to be mentally debating about wanting to hide his face or something.

 

Whoops, looks like he can’t take a compliment. Quick, A distraction!

 

“Did you know that Carmine’s made out of bug’s blood?” You say, quickly blurting out a fact because you're an art major for fuck's sake, trying to get his mind off the fact that you’ve flustered him. “It’s a dye made out of these crushed up little bugs called ‘cochineal’ and is used as a pigment.”

 

“uh. i see.” Carmine coughs into his hand, the red fading from his cheekbones. “yer name’s uh, (y/n), right? seems like, everybody knows you here.”

 

“Kind of. I am a regular. The whole staff knows me, but I don’t know a lot of the customers who come here.” You explain, tapping the fingers of your right hand in a rhythmic beat to one of the songs you had been listening to the other day. “I’ve been coming here since Stone Vase was founded. Uh, I was the one who made their logo and a lot of their advertisements.”

 

“...interestin.” Carmine hums and he turns to look at something, that wariness still evident in his posture by how he sits a little straighter, his body stiffening. You also follow his move and smile when Chloe approaches your table.

 

“Hey, there Y/N!” Chloe greets you, as she holds a tray on her shoulder, carefully balancing your orders. “It’s good to see you again.”

 

“Likewise!” You smile as the brunette places down your orders in front of both of you. “Thanks for the delivery, how’s your schooling been doing?”

 

“Eh, it’s so-so, got a few more credits and then I’m home free.” Chloe grins. “Anyway, I need to go head back, Miss Kuro needs something done pronto. We can catch up later!”

 

“Alright, sounds good.” You turn back to Carmine and slide over his mug of cocoa and his pastry. “You made a good choice, Cinna Surprise is one of the best drinks on the menu in my opinion. It’s a perfect mix of sweetness and spice.”

 

“huh.” He takes his mug into his hands, and you watch as the tip of his right pointer finger flickers with magic, it’s a bloodied red that matches his eyes, and you watch as he taps his finger against the side of the mug.

 

Ah, I see. He’s adding his magic to the food so he can eat it. You realize, your mind quickly finding the pieces of the puzzle and slotting them into place as you take a sip of your tea. It’d probably fall straight through otherwise.

 

Your eyes flutter shut as a sigh escapes your lips, relaxing as it fills you with warmth. You quickly open them moments later, just to see the best image of your life.

 

Carmine takes a sip of his cocoa and you smother the smile with your hand at the sight of his eyes widening comically. He stares down at his drink in a slightly bewildered manner and mutters something that you don’t understand in another language- it sounds familiar somehow- and eagerly takes another sip.

 

“It’s good right?” You smile and he nods, the same red hue painting his face once more. You have the image stuck in your head now, so you take a bite of your strawberry choco tart and begin sketching the portrait.

 

You start off with the basic sketch, using circles and rectangles to get the shape of his face and body. Gradually you add more detail, the folds, and creases of his jacket, the curvature of the mug held in his hands as the image version stares down at the drink. You are aware that Carmine is watching your every move, but you push that aside as you drink more of your tea and another bite of your pastry. Uncapping your pen you quickly ink in the lines with precision, coloring in the sockets and thickening the lines in certain places.

You’ve completely consumed both your drink and your pastry by the time you finish the portrait, using your gel pen to ink in the eye-lights. You shade it twice, the first shading dyes the white paper red and the second coating adds depth and shine.

You look it over and hum to yourself, spotting a few places that you needed to edit, uncapping your black pen once more, you add a few more cross-hatchings. Satisfied, you give it one more look over before signing your name in some corner where it’s barely noticeable.

 

(Y/N) (L/N), 10-14-23XX.

 

“Alright, the portrait’s done.” You hum and turn the page over to him. “What do you think, Carmine?”

 

“it’s… definitely somethin’ alright.” He stares at the picture with an unreadable expression. The mug of cocoa is entirely empty and the pastry is nothing but crumbs. He picks up the portrait with surprising carefulness, his clawed hands barely even gripping the paper.

 

“You can keep it if you want.” You announce, and his face looks up from the portrait his eyes wide. “I mostly just said the whole portrait debt thing as a way to placate the crowd. I mean, Did you see how many stares you were getting?”

 

“gee, i never fuckin’ noticed.” He deadpanned, glancing over at the crowd behind the two of you. You also turned your head to the side and looked at them via the reflection. While most people had looked away, finding the aftermath boring, there were a few pairs of humans looking at you both with disgust. Well, not at you, but Carmine. It was enough to make your blood boil and your smile that had been soft, become sharp and strained. He grunts and crosses his arms, spitting out a quiet “assholes, the lot of em.”

 

“You know, you’re much braver than I am.” You admit, and you get that wide-eyed look again. It’s honestly kind of cute in your opinion. “You waltzed into a store full of humans unknowing what sort of outcome you would've gotten. If I were in your situation I would be very rattled, shaken to down to the bone.

 

You hope that he’s not offended by your skeleton puns. But he does seem like the sort of guy who digs that sort of thing. And you’re very relieved when he snorts, and you see a smile threatening to break across his face.

 

“looks like ya need to put more backbone inta whatcha do.” Carmine snorts again, a slight laugh in his voice and you find that you like seeing him get all amused.

 

“Heh, yeah, I guess I need to bone-y up my nerves.” You grin and laugh at your pun. Sobering a little, you fiddle with your bandages again. You absently wonder if the scratches and nicks are healed up yet. It seemed like the ones in the dream healed within seconds.

 

"what happened?" Carmine asks abruptly, causing you to look up at him in confusion, brow creased slightly.

 

"Uh, what?" Is your oh-so-eloquent response, and it takes all of your willpower to stop yourself from cringing.

 

"your hands, they're bandaged. what happened to 'em?" He asks again, that odd guilt is back in his eyes and you have a hard time wondering why he's looking at you like that. "i shocked ya with the buzzer, forgot to take it off, ya didn't get more hurt didja?"

 

"Oh! These? I'm really clumsy, and I ended up doing something stupid and cut up my hands." You respond quickly, collecting up your thoughts. "It's not too bad, I didn't do any serious damage, like, y'know cutting down to the bone."

 

Carmine looks a little ill at the mental image, judging by how the bright red of his eye-light pale dramatically and his expression twists, so you're quick to continue on. "You didn't hurt me, Carmine, if that's what you're worried about. The bandages are thick enough that it got all blocked up."

 

"ah, that's good." Carmine then scratches at the back of his skull. "not th' scratched, but th' fact that, uh, y'know what 'm tryin' to get at."

 

"Yeah, I know what you mean." You smile at him softly and nod in agreement. You take a glance at the clock on the wall and you sigh in resignation. You were actually having fun now and you didn't want to leave just yet. But life never stops for anyone. “Ah, damn. Looks like my break’s over. I need to get started on another commission or I’ll be up till 11 again.”

 

“Also, I’m also serious about the whole keeping the portrait thing.” Getting up off of the booth chairs, you gently tear off the page with the portrait of Carmine, and place it on the tabletop. You slide it towards him with a smile and you close up your sketchbook and place the pens back into their pouches. "Just chatting with you is enough payment in itself.”

 

“..thanks.” It’s mumbled softly and you swear that you see his eye-lights go fuzzy at the edges. He carefully scoops up the paper and you watch as it suddenly goes up in a flash of red magic. You did recall something about monsters having an ‘inventory’ of sorts, so you assume that’s where he stored the picture.

 

“I hope that we can meet again,” You say, and he looks up at you. “I had a lot of fun despite the whole people-staring-at-me thing. I’m totally willing to pay for you again if the need arises.”

 

"but what if I wanna pay?" Carmine cuts in, sending you a wink. "then what're ya gonna do?”

 

"Well, if we do this again, I guess we'll have to race or do rock-paper-scissors to determine who's gonna be the victor of the paying battle." You also send him back a wink of your own. "I do intend to win, luck's on my side after all."

 

"we'll hafta see then. when d'ya often come by here?" Carmine asks, cocking his head the side.

 

 "You'll usually catch me chilling here on Saturdays or Sundays." You hum, considering as you tap your chin with your index finger. "In case of weekdays, finding me will so it'll most likely be by chance. I never come in later than eleven though, my classes usually start early in the day." 

 

"ten ta eleven am then?" He continues, and you merely nod.

 

You look over at the clock and wince again. "Okay, sorry, but I really gotta make like a banana 'n split or I won't get this done early enough. I hope to see you again Carmine, have a great day!"

 

Carmine snickers at your pun, causing you to grin like a maniac as you make a break for the exit. You pass by the other patrons, holding your head up high and squaring your shoulders in your gathered [DETERMINATION]. You don’t care that they’re looking at you, judging you.

You did something good and you’re not going to let anyone bring you down.

The cold wind of the messed up weather that Ebott usually has this time of year doesn't even bother you like you normally would. Flipping up the hood of your jacket, You wave to Miss Stone and Miss Kuro who is standing at the registers. Both of them send you equally happy and eager waves as you quickly make haste to your car that's parked in the lot behind the store. Passing by the window seat that the two of you had been sitting at. You catch Carmine’s eye-lights, burning brightly despite the barrier of glass between the two of you. Grinning, you wave to him once more as you round the corner and out of sight.

You still taste the sugary sweetness of the pastry on your tongue, and as far as you’re concerned…

It tastes like victory.

 


 

By the time Carmine warps home, the Serif-aster household is silent which is honestly the best case scenario. His brother is still with the Fallen Royalty, caught in negotiations with the Tale and Swap royalties. The others are nowhere to be found and it’s honestly a relief for the short skeleton when he notices that his bike is the only vehicle still parked in the driveway. The snow’s a bitch though and Carmine glares down at the white powdery bull-crap-shit that’s piled up on his cycle.

It’s a shame that he’s too damn lazy to even bother with cleaning off the damn thing. He fumbles with unlocking the door, and he’s well-fuckin-aware that he could just teleport his way in. But with the new wards that Gaster and Achernar had installed, he couldn’t do that anymore without getting a hearty zap. And he already feels guilty enough about electricity shocks already. He's gotten a fill of JY magic for the day.

He finally manages to unlock the door with a bestial snarl. He’s too angry at the fact that it’s jammed so many times now that he’s half tempted to blow the hell out of the defective door lock with his blaster. But then he’d have to deal with the JY electricity, which is never pleasant considering that he's the epitome of a glass cannon. But if the door was broken, then he'd have to apologize to his brother and his fluffier counterpart for busting the damn thing inwards until it imploded into a rain of burnt wood and splinters.

Papyrus is a sweetheart. But when it comes to lectures, Papyrus is utterly relentless, which is surprising considering the other's demeanor. Hell, he’d rather deal with his brother’s screeching over a Papyrus Scolding™. The lectures have never failed to make him feel guilty. Not even the fuckin’ carrot could last very long when it came to his scolding. So, needless to say it fills Carmine with a sense of vilification.

Serves the orange fucker right for being dumb enough to smoke in the damn house, even Carmine wasn’t that stupid when it came to smokin’ the treats.

He resists the urge to slam the door behind him, and instead closes it with a click, all the while letting out a volley of vile curses that would make his own damn dad blush. He places his keys into the bowl near the door, kicking off his shoes near the rack and settles himself down on the couch and thinks back on his morning. He’d taken the day off, not like there was much to do considering that most of his jobs were now defunct in one way or another. There was only so many hot-dog stands that could be opened.

Sans, Daucus, and Lupus had been the ones to quickly snatch up those jobs (though all of them worked that the labs at varying times of the day. Each had their own unique specialty). So Carmine didn’t even bother and instead stuck to dealing with the combined mess that was all four Gasters in the local Science Building. Yes, it was called that. Because none of the higher royalties could name shit to save their lives.

Carmine grumbles to himself and takes out his phone, fiddling with the inventory until he finds the box labeled ‘portrait’. He taps on the icon and watches as it gracefully flutters down onto the coffee table. He’s very careful to pick it up off the table, he’s well aware of his distal phalanges sharpness, and he doesn’t want to punch any holes into it.

(Y/N), that bizarre human with a kind smile and bandaged hands who had made it for him. He had been skeptical about the whole image at first. It had looked like a mish-mash of shapes and odd lines. But as the seconds turned into minutes he watched in amazement as it all came back together. He stares down at the red eyes of his double and carefully traces the lines of his skull. Taking a closer look at the bones of his hands, he noticed that the human had also managed to draw some of the nicks and scratches in the bones.

 

“Didn’t miss much did ya, you fuckin’ weirdo.” He mutters to no one in particular. The interaction had been, strange, an anomaly. A rare occurrence. He hadn't expected to meet (Y/N), hell he never even knew that they'd existed until now.

 

The last couple runs when he visited the Stone Vase usually resulted in him getting angry at the damned cashier and then storming out of the establishment. This time he had shown up a little later in the day to see what would happen. It had started the same, the arguing back and forth with Carmine’s temper gradually going from zero to sixty in a matter of seconds.

He didn’t expect the human to step in to help. Their soul was almost practically unreadable compared to the other peoples, surrounded in a dull haze of impenetrable magic, almost like the human's soul was shielded. The worst part was that he couldn't tell what type was shielding it. It looked like it was a mix of blackish-purple miasma, but he couldn't sense any malicious intent behind it. The cashier, Mike-something had a Patience soul, while the lady in the back had a Passion soul. (Y/N)’s was hazy, with that horrifyingly odd shadow in their chest gave nothing away about their true intentions. He thought that he’d seen the briefest flickers of determination-red, but didn’t have too much time to look.

(Y/N) didn’t even seem like the selfless type, nor did they seem like someone who’d stick their neck out for someone considering how they acted at the café and their general awkwardness. But they were kind, gentle even, especially when they calmed down. Honestly, he didn't really know what to make of them.

(Y/N) was a mystery, a puzzle with too many pieces and a majority of them hidden or missing.

(A part of him wanted to try and seek them out, try to unravel the enigma surrounding them)

(He doesn't know why.)

Were they a new anomaly? Only time would tell.

He gazes down at the red eyes of the picture and realizes that he has to put this up somewhere. It'd be wrong just to shove it away somewhere in a place that would eventually be forgotten and possibly water-stained. The human had made it for him, gifted it to him even. Didn’t even take any payment. He could put it in his room, but then he’d probably deal with the aftermath of the doubles snooping through his shit so that option was out.

 

“Might as well deal with the shitshow all in one,” Carmine grumbles, getting off of his ass and making his way over to the kitchen, to where there’s a magnetic bulletin board in the dining room.

 

He takes down one of the magnets and tacks the picture up on the board. He knows that he’s gonna get a lot of shit for it. But as he looks at the image once more, taking in that surprised expression that he no doubt wore the moment he took a sip of the heavenly fuckin’ hot cocoa. A foreign feeling bubbles up in his chest. The taste of sugar still lingering on his manifested tongue.

It tastes almost like love.

...Carmine has no idea what to make of it.

Chapter Text

 

 

sleepwalker

doe-eyed, no eyed


 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold represents a language other than english spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.


 

 

Your first foe is… a beast that wanders on a tableland of stone, wandering aimlessly in the grass.

 

You’re climbing up the spiral staircase in the central part of the tower where the white-sun shines through the hole in the ceiling. You’ve set up your home in the fourth floor of the tower, it’s darkest there, as there are no windows on the fourth floor but rather gates that you have to open manually in order to walk out on the fourth terrace.

The third-floor terrace has countless healing herbs growing there as magically-charged water flows through there. The fourth terrace seemed to be more garden-based, with some edible plants that you recognize such as onions and carrots. Some blackberries have completely taken over one spot and are currently at war with the raspberries in another section. It’s interesting that these are still growing the way they are. Seeing as no one has been here for years, probably even centuries by now, all of these plants should be out of control. Yet they’re not. At this point, you’re just going to blame magic as it’s the most reasonable excuse that doesn’t result in a headache.

However, you’re not on the fourth terrace for food. Today is the day in which you’ll retrieve the first shard.

The fourth floor has several rooms, but there’s one in particular that you’re interested in. The Reinohr has been whispering to you about certain items that can help you in your quest, and that room contains all of those assisting items. The door is locked closed. Concentric blue runes painted dead center spiraling outward like the petals of a flower. Your touch the center circle with your right hand and watch as the runes flash gold once, then glow white. The light ripples out of the center, almost as if you’ve thrown a pebble into a calm lake. There’s a loud sound of stone grinding against stone and you watch as the door slowly opens inwards.

You hesitantly enter, watching as the thousands of runes carved into the walls glow an eerie gold, illuminating the darkened room in a dull ochre. It appears to be an armory of sorts, there were shelves lining the walls, backlit by the glowing runes revealing hundreds of dusty old pieces of armor and scattered weapons. Nothing seemed to be of interest, but you had a feeling that something was here, you just needed to find something that stood out to you- you are an artist, you’re good at this sort of thing- so you began to search.

You pass by several shelves chocked full of armor but nothing catches your eye, some of them have the concentric swirls decorating them, but they’re just not right somehow like there’s something missing . Looking down at your chest, an idea pops into your head.

Is the Light a guide? Could it guide me to what I need? You ask yourself, and you take a calming breath of air. The light burst from your chest, you can faintly see your ribs through the cloak due to the intensity of the light. One main beam points towards the first Keilaise. Three dimmer beams point to somewhere in the room. Looks like I’m correct.

The light fades but you still remember the way that they pointed, your boots clicked with each step you took against the stone floor, the glowing runes flaring brightly each time you put your foot down. Something on one of the furthermost shelves, two levels down caught your eye. They appeared to be another pair of boots made out of an odd fabric that reminded you of leather. You gently picked them up and noticed that they didn’t have any dust on them.

Looks like these were important, and as you looked down at your boots you winced when you realized that the tanned leather was worn out in places, threatening to rip and tear. They weren’t even good boots anyway, so you wouldn’t miss them in the slightest. You pulled them off and placed them on the shelves with the rest of the dusty stuff. Maybe in another one thousand years or so your ancestors could find them if they ever managed to get into the Forgotten Wilds.

You pulled on the boots and noticed how it wasn't actually leather but some sort of metallic thread that had metal plates sewn into them. The blue runes match the ones on your robe, creating an alien pattern on the fabric as they swirl along the seams. You pull them on and they feel way too loose, you find an odd rune in a circle of concentric runes that spiral outwards, and you tap your finger against it.

The runes activate with a chime and you watch as the fabric glows blue for a moment, and they shift before your eyes matching your previous shoe size. You stand up and test out your new shoes, they feel oddly lighter than your previous pair, and as you walk around you notice that they seem to hold onto the floor easier and don't slide. Lifting up your foot you check the underside and notice that there are runes in the soles, still glowing gold despite the fact that the rest of the shoe has ceased its glow.


“Oh, I see.”
Your voice echoes through the armory and you startle at that. Your voice is hoarse and scratchy from your weeks of near-constant silence and hearing it is shocking in of itself. “The runes make the soles grip onto things instead of slipping off.”

 

It’s very useful, and you have no doubt that at one point you would have to climb up and over obstacles to reach the Keilaise.

You allow the light to beam from your chest again and follow another one of the dimmer beams until you reach another shelf.

 

 

Resting on it is only one object, a pair of gloves that match the boots you are wearing, made out of the same dark black-blue fabric with metal plates sewn into it. You pull them on, noticing how the activating runes are on the palms of your hands. You clap them together and push some of that light into them. They activate with a snapping-crackling hiss, glowing blue and fitting themselves to your hands. Much like the boots, they prevent you from losing your grip.

The third beam led you to the furthest shelf way in the back of the room,  the dust was somehow even worse over there compared to the very start of the room. The runes were so caked with dirt and grime that their glow was significantly dimmer than the others previous. On one of the shelves, there was a pair of trench knives resting on a slab of dusty white stone. They jumped out at you.

 

 

Dark green runes were carved into the blades made out of a pitch-black metal that was wickedly curved and had serrated edges. The handles were made out of black iron rods with gold accents, and had a cushy metallic mesh where you would hold onto. Taking a closer look at the fabric you could see similar green runes stitched into the fabric. You reached over and picked them off the stone, they felt light in your hand, not heavy like the blades back at the village. You slotted your fingers into the knuckle-duster like handguards and gave them an experimental slash downwards.

They whistled as they cut through the air and you idly looked it over. They were very pretty in a deadly sense, with the runes and the shininess of the edges it almost looked ornamental. You have no idea how they’re going to be useful in the future. You look at the piece of white stone and take an experimental stab. The runes ignite in a flash of teal and it sinks through the stone and into the shelf below with a hollow thunk. You stare down at them with wide eyes, and carefully dislodge the blade from both the stone and the wood. Well, if you couldn’t hold onto the Keilaise, if you were desperate enough you could stab the knives in and cling to the side of beasts that way.

The thought of hurting them though still makes your stomach twist painfully in discomfort. You just hope that it never ends up that way.

There seems to be no sight of the sheaths for the blades anywhere. You search around for any sign of something that you can use to keep them on your body, but there’s nothing that fits the way the blades are shaped. Taking a glance at the odd runes on the gloves, you notice how the central rune matches up with the runes on the handles. You clench the blades in your hands, matching the runes to the ones on your palms and you watch mystified as the knives glow cyan before getting absorbed into the runes. They glow white for a moment before settling with the dark green.

 


 

Seeing that there’s nothing left for you to do in the armory, you turn and make your way out of the dusty room. The moment the door shuts behind you, it kicks up a huge cloud of dust and you let out the most obnoxiously loud sneeze that rings through the halls and the stairwell. You blink back dust-induced tears and quickly make yourself scarce. You descend down the stairs two at a time in a mild hurry, only stopping when you reach the bottom, jumping over the last five steps.

You take in a deep breath to calm your heart, and enter the idol room and observing the statues that line the walls as you pass by them. There’s another duo of keilaise that have a hostile, menacing aura around them, almost similar to the red-eyed ones. They seem to be more vicious, however.

The smaller of the two has mismatched eyes. A large amethyst settled in its right socket, while the left is a vivid orange jasper. They're tiny pinpricks of dull purple and orange in a sea of black, and it looks seal-like, on a second glance you realize that it’s an… otter? Somehow it’s still scary despite its… cuddly appearance. It’s crest horns are short and small compared to the others, and the lower set made out of dark black stone protrudes forwards like tusks.

It’s opposite on the other wall is wolf based, and has mismatched eyes. The left has a deep blue sapphire and the right has a cyan agate embedded into its sockets that remind you of the colors of the sky. Its horns are also shorter than it’s other counterparts, made out of small blunted crest horns, while the lower set curls down and inwards slightly. Its jaw is full of sharp dog teeth, and the upper incisor teeth have been replaced with wickedly sharp gold.

The amethyst-and-jasper-eyed one is more aggressive in expression, while the sapphire-and-agate-eyed one looks almost timid. It’s an odd difference, as both Red-Eyed ones look intimidating. Only one of this duo looks fearsome, and you fear to encounter this one.

You continue past the other statues, taking in their features and you notice with growing dread that a vast majority of them are wearing the muzzles. Out of the sixteen keilaise, only three of them don't have any iron masks around their faces or the wreaths of chains around their bones. You take a calming breath, something in your chest burns brightly and it’s not the light that rests beneath your lungs. It’s the same sensation when you had climbed up to the third level all those weeks ago… It was that determination. Despite your fear, something inside of you was screaming.

Don’t give up, don’t to give in, don’t stutter and crumble. You took a hold of that red, red, red energy and held it close. It flowed into your body and heart, and you stared determinedly at the statue of the deer keilaise.

A name pops into your head, and you take a moment to speak it aloud to the world.

 

“Your name is… Sheka.” You mutter as you look into the pure white quartz that makes up its eyes, and it seems to stare back into yours.   “It will be an honor to fight you.”

 


 

Your mind is now made up, and you stride out of the tower and into the light of the white sun. It’s high up in the sky, it’s bright alien light bathing you from head to toe. You feel the light burning in your chest, and you allow it to guide you. The beam a brilliant gold that is somehow brighter than the light that shines from the sky. You stare into the direction that it leads you, watching how it points southward, and you sigh when you realize that you have to go quite a distance to get to Sheka on foot.

You begin to walk in the direction and you mentally debate if you should jog or walk the whole way. You’re not exactly burning daylight, but the idea of the journey taking hours of exhaustion before you could even reach Sheka is irritating.

You break into a jog, internally regretting the fact that the horse you had ridden on to get to the Forgotten Wilds had bolted when you had inserted the first shard into the slot, the blast scaring the already weak-willed horse into fleeing. You haven’t even seen him since, and you do regret not stealing one of the stronger horses. But Hinode had been the only one to let you ride it.

You heard and odd clicking-whirr sound, and you take a glance at your boots, watching how the runes turn a warm gold. You let out a choked shout of surprise as your speed abruptly increases and you shoot forward like an arrow. However, you’re not used to the dramatic speed increase and it doesn’t take long for you to trip and stumble over your new pace. You quickly throw yourself into a roll, getting up seconds later and manage to get out unscathed and only slightly dusty. You stare down at your boots, watching how the gold fades back into the blue. You idly click the heels of your boots together and watch as the runes light up teal.

I want to run faster. You think as you stare down at your boots, and you watch as the runes proceed to ignite into gold again.

This time you’re prepared for the speed boost, and you shift from a walking pace to a jog, then a jogging pace into a run. By the time you reach the running speed, you’re flying through the grasses. There’s the cool noon wind in your hair, blowing the strands too and fro as you breeze by rock formations, animal burrows, odd bits of crumbled stone and metal rings. The scenery blurs the faster and faster you go, the world shifting into golds and greens. Normally you’d take in your surroundings, but running at this speed is forcing you to pay attention to where you’re going lest you wanted to take another tumble.

The tunnel vision eventually halts when your brain realizes that it’s reached its destination.

You skid to a stop, kicking up mud and grass as you stomp the metaphorical breaks. The gold fades from the runes and you take in deep breaths of air as your heart pounds in your chest. You spot the tower in the distance- it’s a good eight miles away, you’re bad at math, but distances are easy- and you can’t help but wonder how fast you were going. Turning away from the tower you look up at the wall, and you allow the light to flow from your chest once more, and sure enough, the beam points up and through the mesa. Your legs are barely even burning, but you do take a brief rest because falling from that height will surely kill you.

 

“Alright.” You say as you stare at the rock face, and you can spot dozens upon dozens of handholds and cracks that you can climb up with. Taking a glance at the tower once more, you suddenly are very thankful that you had climbing practice. “Let’s get this over with.”

 

You approach the rock face and search for the nearest handholds, your gloves activate with a gentle chime and you carefully begin to climb up the rocks. The gloves definitely help, as they almost seem to be able to read your mind. When you want to let go, the odd attraction that sticks you to the rock ceases and allows you to hoist yourself up to the next handhold. Your boots do the same exact thing, and you’re glad that you retrieved them because they making the climb so much easier.

Your arms are slightly sore by the time you haul yourself up onto the top of the mesa. It’s almost completely devoid of any plant life except for small patches of lichens and smatterings of moss on the rocks. You lie on the rocks for a moment, collecting your breath as you stare up at the sky. The clouds move by slowly, and for a moment you think you see some stars in the white distance. Sitting up, you look around the mesa. It’s almost entirely flat, however, there's an abrupt drop in one part and you have no idea where it leads.

Getting back up on your feet, you hesitantly begin walking over to the edge. You don’t see Sheka anywhere, but you keep your guard up just in case. You kick a stray stone and watch in mild horror as it falls over the side, and you count the seconds, hearing a clatter a good three seconds later. Looking over, you spot the Keilaise. Sheka is much bigger than you had originally anticipated, and you mentally compare your height against its own. Sheka stands at a good- 75 feet, no, no, no, how can it get that big- and you are so- small, insignificant, it is so easy for it to kill you, just one wrong step and you would be -compared to it.

It’s wandering aimlessly, the white of its bones is practically glowing from the sun’s light. There are large pieces of stone surrounding its body like armor. The armor protects Sheka’s abdominal cavity, hindquarters, all of the legs, and a large curved piece cover the front of its chest. There are plants growing out of some of the open parts not covered by stone, and your mind quickly picks out handholds and ledges that are protruding out of the stone. Every step that it takes practically makes the floor beneath your feet rattle like mad.

It stops for a moment, before rearing back and rushing forwards, each step of its hooves shaking the ground. It slams its head against the opposing side of the step, it’s set of three-pronged horns grinding against the stone, leaving dulled cuts. It staggers back, letting out an odd warbling cry through its mouth- and you notice that while it didn’t have the iron mask around its face, something black was wrapped around its mouth, keeping the jaws locked shut. They’re chains you quickly realize and as it shakes its head you can hear them rattle ominously.

You take a glance down at your own side of the mesa you spot countless gouges deep in the stone, and a lump forms in your throat. Scanning the sides of the step again, you notice that every side is covered in countless gouges and scratch marks in six gouges all over the place. Some are old, weathered by countless months of rain and wind, and others are still chalky white from where it’s been freshly scratched. It doesn’t take long for you to realize that it’s been bashing itself over an over against the rocks, for how long, who knows. A thought pops into your head, and your heart sinks.

Sheka is trapped here, it’s been trying for years to get out but with no success. The stone is granite-based, unbearably strong. And you’ve been sent here to retrieve its shard.

You wonder if you have to kill it to get the shard.

You wonder if you can save it.

You wonder if you could help it escape.

You… you don’t know.

Taking a deep breath, you search for a safe place to climb down to the lower step. You find it after a few moments, a couple shelf makes it easy for you to get down, and you rush over and began to climb your way down the side. Your gloves and boots activate and you fully utilize them on the way down, kicking the tips of the boots into the cracks. The fact that there are a few shelves makes it so you can stand and inch your way down to the next one. It takes a bit for you to do so, and you jump the last few feet down, rolling on impact. At the bottom of the shelf, there’s more grass and softer dirt that lines the lower shelf of the mesa.

You breathe in greedy gasps of air, the burning in your arms returning with a vengeance. You quickly pull out a canteen from your satchel and take eager sips of water, and you feel the earth shake. You nearly drop your canteen when you turn your head and watch in mild horror as Sheka begins to walk towards you.

Your hands tremble as you grip the metal in your hands. From further away Sheka seemed almost harmless, however now that it’s getting closer you realize just how much of an ant you are compared to it. It rumbles lowly and it practically vibrates your bones with its tenor, and it crouches down to rest on its legs.

Your breathing is uneven and stuttery as you go completely still. Sheka’s head lowers until its massive left eye stares into yours. The lower shelf of the mesa is shaded, the white sun coming in at an angle. The lights in its eyes are very bright, and it illuminates your body with a soft white glow. The look it has is almost curious as it looks you over, and your heart aches when you realize that Sheka is intelligent in its own way.

It presses its snout against your chest, gently nuzzling you and you let out an involuntary whine of fear as you feel the smooth bone rub against your robe. It’s eye-lights widen slightly before pulling away with a curious chirping noise. The eye-lights shutter in a manner that reminds you of a blink, and as you look at the horns on its head. The tips have been grounded to wickedly sharp points, and you notice that you can spot an odd layering effect on its bones. Unlike the deer you’ve encountered, their horns would eventually fall off and regrow, for the deer, this wasn’t the case as Sheka's horns would keep on growing continuously from its skull.

There’s an odd glow coming from the back of Sheka’s body, and you spot at the glow coming from the cervical vertebrae near where the nape should be. It pulses a visible whitish-orange glow erupting from that spot. Sheka is still looking at your curiously, tilting its head to the side left and right, scrutinizing your body and a soft rumbling noise erupts from its chest, rattling the chains wrapped around its mouth and body.

Sheka eventually loses interest in you, and it gets up from it’s crouched position and turns away from you to trundle to the walls of the mesa. You place the canteen back into your satchel and you keep your eyes fixated on the glow on the back of Sheka’s neck. You stand up shakily and notice that the stone armor covering its body has odd ledges and points jutting out from them. You can climb those and your brain practically highlights a path for you to follow.

Clicking the heels of your boots together, heart hammering in your chest you sprint to the beast, the world blurring. Your mind whirls around like the winds of a hurricane, your brain calculates your speed and with a quiet grunt, you kick-off to the ground and manage to grab one of the spikes coming off of Sheka’s armor. Sheka doesn’t notice you, and you watch as your gloves glow yellow. Narrowing your eyes, you carefully manage to pull yourself up onto the stone, your boots and gloves magically attaching you to the armor.

You are very glad about this because every step that Sheka takes practically gives you vertigo. Nevertheless, you carefully begin to climb up Sheka’s back leg, using every bit of the armor to your advantage. You keep your eyes ahead of you, glowing gold hands carefully finding new handholds and anchor points to pull yourself higher and higher. One particularly harsh step from Sheka makes your left foot disconnect from where you’re stepping, and your foot slips through a chink in the armor and you feel your foot touch bone. Sheka startles at that, stopping in its tracks and craning its neck to look for the source of the irritation.

You grit your teeth and hold on tight to the stone plates as Sheka starts moving erratically, it’s walking pace shifting into a panicked canter, occasionally bucking it’s back legs in an effort to throw you off. Your gloves ignite white, the runes humming loudly in your ears as you will the energy to keep you held on. Each irate movement makes you shake and jostle, and you think that you’re going to get sick.

Eventually, Sheka stops with all of the motions, it’s pace slowing back into the original walking motions, a wheezed panicked breath escaping from it’s sealed jaws. Its ribs heave with heavy inhales and you quickly use Sheka’s tiredness to your advantage, quickly pushing your feet into a vertical jump, grabbing hold of the stone carvings and digging your fingers into the cracks. You grunt as you manage to pull yourself up onto it’s back. You remain crouched and wince when you notice that Sheka’s spine is otherwise exposed from the stone armor.

Something in the back of your mind whispers for you to take your trench knives and sever the bone, make it drag itself with its front legs. Its words are vile and twisted, sounding nothing like the Reinohr with their gentle coaxing. Rather it’s a cold and harsh tone that reminds you of one of your tribe elders, their tone- please stop, i hate arguing with you, when will it be over? Do you really hate me that much -borderline caustic in its acidity. It fills you with nausea and in a fit of disobedience, you ignore what those toxic words say, and continue to crawl on all fours.

Sheka starts prancing again, kicking out its back legs, shaking its head back and forth as it tries to shove you off to no avail. A keening wail escapes from its mouth, and you grimace at the sheer panic, fear, and terror in Sheka’s cry. Wrapped around the sharp points of the spine are the shackles that wrap themselves around Sheka’s body. The dark metal is actually a blue so dark that it reminds you of the night sky just before it turns to pitch black. You carefully tap one of the chains with your fingers and watch as they turn sky blue for the briefest moment, before reverting back to the dark color they were previously.

Sheka’s rampage slows again as it gets tired. You take that moment of no movement to carefully use your middle and ring finger to tap the rune at the palm of your hand. Watching as the rune glows white, teal magic flowing out in wisps of blue and green, wrapping themselves around your fingers as they manifest into one of the trench knives.

You grip it in your hand and carefully use your other available arm and feet to anchor yourself against Sheka’s back. You hook the blade underneath one of the shackles, the chain pulling taught beneath the blade as you carefully slice upwards away from yourself and the spine-spike. The chain all but disintegrates as the blade cuts through it like butter.

You carefully begin to make your way up to the neck from the rear-hindquarters, cutting each shackle around the spinal column, the chains jangling as they come loose and uncoil like snakes. Sheka’s breathing has evened out more, and you take a moment to look up and notice how it’s staring at you with wide, pure white eye-lights. Sheka huffs air through its nose and anxiously paws at the ground, and you can see something stirring in its eyes. You look away and continue to cut and sever the chains, and you notice that Sheka’s bones had been a stark white. But with each chain that you cut, and every link that snaps with every slice, the bone started gaining a slight color. Turing from a bleached white to a softer, pale peach color.

It’s almost as if the chains were… corrupting it somehow. Thinking back on those horrible, awful words- sever the bones, cut the spine, make it suffer, suffer, suffer -you think that the voice belonged to the chains. It made so much sense, and your heart twangs in sympathy for the poor deer Keilaise. If its words were so vicious in your head, you wondered just how bad it was for Sheka. Reaching the cervical vertebrae, you notice that the chains are no longer present, instead, you see that orange glow deep in the bone. With extreme gentleness, you gently pat the bone and reach between the gaps. Your hand hits metal and you grimace when you feel even more of that material on the underside of the spine. You take your knife and oh so carefully cut through the metal that shields that orange light.

A loud ringing sound explodes in your head and your cry out. You grab something round from within Sheka’s body, and you quickly take your hand out from between the gaps of the spine to claw at your skull. Gripping the hair on your head as the ringing sound intensifies. Your vision swims and you watch as all of the chains disintegrate into black dust, before glowing that vivid teal. It hovers for a moment in the corner of your vision that’s steadily becoming black at the edges, before it spikes into jagged shards.

It feels like you’ve swallowed glass.

Pain erupts in your body as they pierce your skin. Your grip slacks on the bone as your head fills itself with static, distantly you still feel the orb in your grasp-

 

And you

 

Fa l  l .. … …  .

 


 

You wake up in a foot of snow, curled up into a tight ball next to one of your wooden planters in the garden. Your fingers are numb and each breath sends the feeling of glass sliding through your chest. You choke miserably, tears burning in your eyes as you carefully sit up. The sky is cloudy, heavy flakes of snow falling from the sky to rest on your aching and freezing body. Your fingers are so cold that they burn, and you carefully push yourself up until you stand.

Your breath puffs into cold clouds, and you deliriously imagine the vapor freezing the moment that it hits the air. It doesn’t seem like you’ve been out here for too long, you can still see your footprints. Well, it looks like you crawled through the snow and then collapsed. You belatedly realize that you’re not shivering. You carefully follow your tracks, your feet aching as you stumble into your home closing the garage door behind you with a quiet click.

You take a towel off of the dryer, carefully wiping off the snow and dirt off your snow soaked body and clothes. You grimace and clumsily pull off the wet clothes and haphazardly throw and the towel into the hamper. You don’t care that you’re wearing barely anything, but it’s not like there is anyone to tell you what to do otherwise. The warmth of your house burns. The heat feels scorching against your chilled limbs and it feels like someone’s set you on fire. You’re tempted to just collapse on the couch or something but you just want to get this all over with. You stumble into your room, searching for your spare pajamas. It takes a minute of groping around the pitch dark room until you find them.

You think that they’re inside out once you pull them on, but you just don’t care because you’re in a disgusting mix of too cold and too hot. You take one glance at the clock and whine sadly when you realize that it’s five already. Though the heavy cloud cover makes it look like it’s earlier than it really is.

Groaning miserably, and you realize that your lips feel chapped. You’d drink water and maybe try to find some lip balm, but you’re just so tired and cold that you decide to just-

 

“Screw it.” You cry out to no one in particular, and you’re so fed up with everything that you don’t even realize that you’re not even speaking English anymore. “ I don’t even care at this point.”

 

-crawl underneath your sheets and bury your face in your pillow. You pull your cold, cold, limbs to your chest and focus on trying to become unconscious as fast as possible. On an afterthought, you take your alarm clock and toss it into the hallway as hard as you can. The sound of it bouncing off the wall and down the hall is the most satisfying thing that you’ve done all day.

Gradually everything fades away into the blackness of oblivion as your consciousness leaves you.

You wake up at eight in the morning, the sky still dark and your mouth filled with cotton. You groggily stare up at your ceiling with exhausted eyes. Your hands feel all scaley and weird as you run them over your face, only to feel the same sensation on your face. Getting up out of bed, you throw off the covers and shiver as your feet touch the wood of your floor. You trail your hand against the hallway, stepping over your alarm clock as you make your way to the bathroom.

You look alright for the most part, you had woken up before hypothermia or frostbite set in. Your skin is very dry now, however, and you decide that it’s time to take a bath because there’s no way that you’re gonna go out in public like this. Because then people will ask questions, and you hate it when people don’t stop asking the same damn thing over and over again.

You dig through your cabinets until you find bubble bath soap, it’s rose-scented and has chamomile in it. Some of your friends had gotten you loads upon loads of various bubble bath shit. Bath bombs with glitter, gels, etcetera. The expensive and the really good a-grade shit that makes you feel like you’ve bathed yourself in a damn cloud. You don’t really care if people find it “girly” or “sissy”, you just want comfort goddamnit.

Okay, so maybe you just want to bathe in galaxies and imagine that you’re an astronaut. So what? Space is your favorite thing aside from your art and… uh, you can’t really think of anything else right now.

Revolution maybe?

...

Yeah, you fuckin’ love revolution.

You start up the bath, plugging up the drain with the stopper and all but dumping half of the bubble mixture into the water. You stir the water with your hands, making sure that it’s to your liking. Once the bath is sufficiently warm and bubbled, you shut off the water. Taking off your everything and giddily getting into bubble-topia. You hum in delight as you sink into the hot water, the bubbles reaching up to your chest as you submerge yourself, grinning in bliss.

You’re gonna make a damn bubble castle and it’s gonna be glorious . You’re gonna give yourself the most glorious bubble-beard know to man and monsterkind. 

Screw being an adult this is your time.

 

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

runnin’

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold represents a language other than english spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.

 


 

 

It’s honestly such a shame when you have to get out of the bath an hour later. As much as you want to start up another one, you have things to do today. Like going to the gym because lately you’ve been stressed out over various things. Like your sleepwalking issue and your most recent client who’s been really getting on your nerves with the bullshit that she’s been spouting about monsters and boys that don’t like her.

What is she, five years old or something?

The very thought of her makes you want to punch your fist through the internet hard enough that it phases through and decks the gal through the other side of the screen. Alas, that’s not physically possible and you mourn the fact that the laws of physics keep getting in your way.

(And you’d probably get sued if that was a thing. So it's probably for the best)

You quickly made yourself a breakfast of oatmeal with those cute little dinosaur eggs in them, and a few pieces of toast slathered in pomegranate jam that you had made over the summer when your tree had borne its fruit. You had also prepared a cup of cocoa. And it now rests comfortably in your hand and the ceramic is pleasantly warm against your skin. It’s not as good as the stuff you make. As it’s made from a packet, but you’re all out of chocolate and that makes you sad. You mentally add that to the list to pick up from the local superstore tomorrow.  As you eat, you look out into your backyard and look at the rows of your planters, mentally debating on what to grow for next spring.

The greenhouse still had pumpkins and other stuff growing inside of it, but there’s something relaxing about gardening in the sunlight and feeling the wind on your face. While the greenhouse is nice and all, it’s still cramped in comparison. You may do carrots, radishes, and beets in one row. Lettuce, cabbage and a few herbs in another row. Maybe even start up a raspberry or a blackberry bush as well.

-Some blackberries have completely taken over one spot and are currently at war with the raspberries in another section.

Your cup clatters to the tabletop as the thought blindsides your mind. Luckily for you, you’ve drunk most of it so none of it splashes onto the wood. You gently rub at your temples with your index and middle fingers, trying to will the mental image of the tower gardens out of your head. It works for the most part, but you can't help but feel mildly upset about the whole thing. Those dreams are still haunting you. In public, you see certain shapes that abruptly shift and flicker into runestones. Certain sounds make you turn on your heel because it sounds just like one of the predators that run amok in the Forgotten Wilds.

Even if it’s good inspiration, the whole dream thing is getting creepier. Especially because now you start to mutter things in that ancient language that the Reinohr whispers in the back of your mind. In the latest dreams, you’ve started to pick up certain words and phrases that you hear them say. Like the names of certain plants and animals, the words foreign but oddly comforting on your tongue. The language almost reminds you of a bizarre cross between Japanese with the many characters and fragments of English in how the sentences are structured.

Running your hands through your hair you finish your mug and quickly shove all of your dishes into your dishwasher. Going to the gym sounds delightful at this point because nothing gets your mind off the things that you don’t-want-to-think-about, faster than beating the ever-loving shit out of an undeserving punching bag.

You change into your gym clothes before carefully applying layers of other clothing such as a thicker pair of pants, socks and your typical purple hoodie. You got this jacket from your father, it’s rather heavy but the inside is lined with the softest cream colored fur, and you’ve taken good care of it since you got it.

It’s still snowing when you open the front door to your house. Immediately there's a burst of wind that enters your house, the cold air blows into your face and chills you slightly. Your bag is packed with a few water bottles, your boxing gloves, and other miscellaneous items such as a speaker and some earbuds. Walking down the concrete path that leads to the driveway. You hop into your BMW. Pressing the button that turns on the ignition, it takes a few seconds for the engine to start up and the heater to switch from “oh god why is it freezing” to “hospitable”. Pulling out of your driveway, you carefully begin the trek to the local fitness gym. The one that you still can’t remember the name of.

(Everyone knows that the monster district has the simplest of names, and you have no doubt in your mind that their gym is probably just called “Gym.” You still have no idea who the hell is naming these places but you don’t want it to stop anytime soon because holy hell it’s hilarious .)

You’re almost tempted to head off to said Gym, but your ID card in order for you to enter the monster district still hasn’t arrived yet, so you’ll have to hold out for a few more days. They said it would arrive on October 15th, right? It was the 13th now, two days after you met Carmine at Stone Vase. So you’d have to wait another 48 hours.

It doesn’t take long until you pull into the Smash-It Gym’s parking lot. Due to all of the snowfall and the fact that it’s a Saturday, there are barely any people out on the streets, most likely staying in while you, the absolute maniac, is heading to the gym.

“Pffft! Smash… It??”  Your voice cracks as you squint up at the logo and snort in amusement as several innuendos pop into your still tired brain. “Really? This is what it’s called? Holy shit!”

Taking out your bag from where it rests on the passenger seat, you throw it over your shoulder and pull up your dark gray scarf over the bottom half of your face. You easily climb up the stairs and push one of the buttons on the wall to open the door. A gust of hot air greets your face, and you step into the gym with a sigh.

 


 

The lobby area is mostly devoid of people except for Cameron, a teenager a few years younger than you are who mostly stays behind the counter to work on his homework. The black haired teen is furiously typing something down on his tablet, and he glances up after a few seconds and sends you a shy grin.

 

“Hello (Y/N), bad night?” He asks, blue eyes curious as he takes in your slightly exhausted appearance.

 

“I guess you could say that.” You respond with a tired grin. “Getting your term paper done, or are you texting Jamal again?”

 

“It’s uh, both,” Cameron admits to you softly, blushing at the mention of his boyfriend and sends you a shy smile. “You know how good he is with English, he’s helping me out with some of the grammar issues.”

 

“That’s sweet of him. Is anyone else here besides you and me?” You ask “I didn’t see many cars out in the parking lot today.”

 

“Only Julie, Clara, and Rachel.” Cameron lists off. “Which is kinda surprising when you know how lazy Julie is. I thought she just would’ve stayed home you know?”

 

“Julie may be lazy,” You can’t help but let out a snort as you elaborate. “But she loves Clara ‘n Rachel with all of her heart and soul. I would be so unsurprised when all three of them start being lovey-dovey.”

 

“Huh.” Cameron blinks and thinks it over before nodding sagely. “I can see that happening, actually.”

 

“Anyway, I’ll leave you to that thought.” You tease and head into the main gym area. You pass the three girls who are currently taking a break by the ellipticals and treadmills.

 

You’re only slightly surprised to see Julie, a girl with dark hair dyed blue and green eyes, looking red-faced with a sheen of sweat on her brow. Rachel, an almost stereotypical looking blonde with bright blonde hair and blue eyes, looks immensely satisfied with herself as she takes sips out of her water bottle. Clara, a girl with brown hair and almost chestnut brown eyes also looks pleased, but in a more content sort of way. Clara spots you looking at them and sends you a bright grin.

 

“Hey (Y/N)! It’s so great to see you.” Clara smiles as she closes her water bottle and approaches you with a bounce in her step. “Did you hear about the latest law regarding the monsters?”

 

“Hello Clara, can’t say that I have.” You respond and send her an apologetic look. “You know how I am with the news, care to tell me about it?”

 

“I’d love to! Okay! So, yesterdaaay-” Clara looks excited at the prospect while Rachel looks resigned, cutting the brunette off mid-sentence. “Aw, are you really encouraging her (Y/N)? Aren’t you just the slightest bit concerned about the whole monster thing?”

 

As much as you enjoyed the trio, they all had different views on certain things that made the relationship only slightly strained. Clara was an avid monster supporter. Julie didn’t really mind their presence, and mostly made judgments on her experience. While Rachel was paranoid and worried about the monster’s presence. Not that she could blame the blonde, everyone had their own fears. Like how you were terrified of spiders- getting abandoned, being forgotten -and dying.

 

You shrug at that. “Not really, I’d rather see things for myself than just banking on rumors. And most rumors are based on lies after all.”

 

“But some have a grain of truth too.” Rachel frowns, crossing her arms. Clara looks upset by her, pointedly avoiding her girlfriend's words. “Like how they can absorb souls and stuff, what if they are here just to gain power?”

 

“Rachel, come on can't you just let it go?” Clara says softly, eyes pleading.

 

“Don’t worry Clara, it’s not like we’re gonna get into a fight.” You say, sending her a reassuring smile. “Everyone can have their own doubts and thoughts.”

 

Turning back to Rachel you continue to talk. “I don’t think they’d do that, from what I’ve gathered it was more or fewer humans becoming fearful of monsters for that ability. While it is possible, I don’t think monsters would really want to take our souls anyway.”

 

“Why do you believe that?” Rachel asks, her expression remains neutral for the most part, but you can see that her eyes are thoughtful.

 

“Can you imagine being sealed under a mountain for at least one thousand years?” You ask, and you spot Julie listening in almost excited for your mini rant. “They lived in a dark cavern for centuries, no sun, no moon, no stars. It must’ve been suffocating you know? Looking up at the sky daily only to see tons of stone above, wondering each day what the weather must be like out there. Like, they literally had nothing but rock and whatever else they had to live in.”

 

Rachel nods a pinched expression on her face. Clara looks genuinely upset at the whole idea of being trapped under a giant rock. Julie looks mildly ill at the prospect of nothing above but stone, due to her claustrophobia. “Not to mention that Mount Ebott is near an active tectonic area, we’ve gotten some earthquakes in the past, and while the monsters may have some sort of protection, they can’t protect everything…”

 

“Cave-ins,” Rachel mutters, an expression of horror on her face. Her hands move jerkily to cover her mouth because she witnessed a landslide take out several cars in front of her on a trip to the other set of mountains in Ebott after one particularly bad rainstorm. “Oh. Oh no, I never thought of that…”

 

“Me either, I thought that since they had magic…” Clara trails off in a horrifying agreement. “I guess I didn’t consider that not everything would be strong. Imagine the early days, when they're trying to find empty space to live in, only for the ceiling to come down on them....”

 

“Ugh, rocks.” Julie scowls, shuddering and you can’t help but laugh at her expression. Rachel and Clara also crack small grins. “What? I dunno about you, but I’d be scared shitless if a giant rock suddenly decided to drop out of the damn sky.”

 

“Anyway, stealing souls after being trapped under a mountain susceptible to cave-ins and other natural disasters isn’t high on their to-do list. Not to mention that while they do have magic, we still have technological means that are very devastating.” You continue. “So the chances of them wanting to kill humans is pretty damn slim when it comes to us killing them.”

 

“I see.” Rachel nods before sighing. “Okay, I’ll save my judgments until they actually do something bad.”

 

Clara looks surprised at that. “Really?”

 

“Yeah.” Rachel grins awkwardly and scratches the back of her neck sheepishly.

 

The blonde turns around to look at Clara and she dips her head down, a regretful expression on her face. “Uh, I’m really sorry Clara about the recent arguments. It was really bad for me to let my fears get to my head.”

 

“It’s okay,” Clara smiles softly. “I know that you’re just worried about us.”

 

“It’s still not right for me to cut you off though, I’ve been doing that a lot lately.” Rachel sighs looking miserable. “I’ll… I'll make it up to you by going with you to the Pro-Monster rally on Saturday, the one you really wanted to go to?”

 

“Oh, Rache, you don't have to come with me if the whole thing makes you uncomfortable.” Clara looks only faintly teary-eyed before she smiles and eagerly hugs the taller blond. “The apology is enough, really! Love you.”

 

“Love you too,” Rachel responds, and Julie looks mildly uncomfortable. Clara and Rachel look at each other for a moment, and Julie squeaks in surprise when she’s also dragged into the hug. “Guess we oughta listen to you too huh, Jules?”

 

“Someone needs to be neutral through this.” Julie sniffs haughtily before shyly snuggling into the embrace. “Idiots.”

 

You smile at the trio before deciding to give them some space. You hadn’t intended to get dragged into the whole discussion, but it was nice to see that they were resolving things. It wasn’t often that you helped people out, as you were mostly a solitary person. You weren’t sure if these changes were from the dreams, or maybe you just got tired of standing around. Making your way over to the punching bags, you found yourself feeling rather proud of your unintentional assistance. Though the underlying stress still roiled beneath the proud satisfaction, so it was somewhat of a dampener on your mood.

Pulling out your hand wraps, you carefully tied them securely before squaring up the battered red punching bag that you normally went to town on, dangling from the chain that connected it to the mount on the ceiling. You took a few calming breaths, the world muffling around yourself as you concentrated.

It was game-on.

 


 

The world blurred into colors after that first initial punch.

It was so easy for your mind getting caught up in the haze of the fight. The tunnel vision always happened when you were focused on something, it was useful at times because it meant that you could block out your thoughts and feelings.  The downside was that because you were so single-minded in your goal that you would often neglect your health because you wouldn't feel pain until the battle-haze went away, and even then you were still running on that exhausting mix of adrenaline-fueled determination.

It was the sound of shouting that broke you out of your reverie and you blinked in confusion as the battle haze faded into befuddlement. You took a glance at the clock and realized with a jolt that you had been wailing upon the bag for 30 minutes. You looked down at your hands and tentatively flexed your fingers, but you didn’t feel any cracked skin, just some slight pain in your knuckles from where you kept punching. Maybe you needed to add some kicks to your routine, your legs have always been stronger than your arms after all.

Thanks, aquatics.

Taking a towel out of your bag you wiped off the sweat that was dripping down your face, grimacing at the uncomfortable feeling.  You quickly retrieved your water bottle as well, taking a few sips of the ice-cold water that you had packed, sighing in relief as the water cooled you down.

Tossing your towel over your shoulder, you made your way over to the lobby water bottle still in hand. The shouting gradually becomes louder as you near the desk area. Clara and company are standing by the threshold, nervously peeking through the doorway. Rachel looks starstruck and you’re curious about what’s causing such an unusual expression on the teen's face. Clara spots you and waves sheepishly, turning her head back to watch the shouting match.

Feeling brave for once, you all but waltz into the lobby area, and you suddenly realize why Rachel looks so starstruck.

One of the most gorgeous monsters stands in front of you, and for a moment you wonder if you’ve accidentally stumbled upon some sort of goddess. Only to quickly recall that yes, monsters are a thing, and there would be no way in hell that a goddess would be in a damn gym out of all the places in the world.

She's a fish monster who's a good six feet and five somewhat inches tall. Her scales are the most gorgeous shade of cerulean blue, spattered in other shades of teal and cyan reflecting the white light from the lights of the lobby, shimmering with an almost rainbow sheen as she crosses her arms. She's got the brightest red hair that you've ever seen, and you realize that her hair is actually a fin connected to her skull and tied back into a long flowing ponytail the color of scarlet and garnets. Her eye is the brightest shade of yellow and her slitted pupil is surrounded by a thin ring of dull red, while the other is covered by the cutest eye patch with an upside-down red heart stitched into the fabric. Even though she's scowling, you can still see some of her sharp upper canine teeth sticking out from her lip in a sneer.

God, you could be so bi. But you're pretty sure she's taken and good god you could never keep up with her because that lady is so, so, so strong. She could flex and break you in half out of sheer badassery.

Standing a few feet away from her is a dinosaurian monster with an impressive head crest that reminds you of a chameleon crossed with a triceratops. She's a head shorter than the fish-woman, so around 6 feet. She also has an impressive set of gorgeous scales, though they're not as shiny as the fish-woman’s. They remind you of dulled gold coins. With rich oranges and yellows cascading throughout her scales. She's also got one eye, the one that is damaged is not hidden by an eye patch but is closed instead and you can see a clawed scratch mark scoring the scaled skin. Her sclera is a similar burning yellow to the fish-woman's, however, her slitted pupil is surrounded by a ring of rich green.

Neither of them looks amused in the slightest and you spot Cameron timidly hiding behind Smash It’s owner, Mason McKenzie.

Mason is a rather chill dude and doesn't really give a shit about the whole monster issue, though with his rather tough appearance with his impressive beard one would easily assume that he was a major asshole. It didn't help that he's decked out in a myriad of tattoos that span from his upper arm down to his elbows that are designed to look like koi fish scales in solid blue and purple ink that's stark on his skin. When it came to the saying 'never judge a book by it's cover' Mason was living proof of that statement. Once you knew him well enough, you'd realize that he's one hell of a plesant person. His arms are crossed and he's looking at the goddess with the same frown on his face.

Suddenly Mason slams his fist onto the top of the counter which startles the crap out of poor Cameron and leans down with an eager grin on his face. His hand is in the position of an arm wrestle you realize with a start, you've been so busy taking in everyone's features that you've completely tuned out the entire conversation.

The goddess slams her own arm on to the counter with an equally loud bang and grabs Mason's hand with her own fist, a challenging grin on her face that is equally eager. You wonder how on Earth the table isn't broken and where can you get one made because you crushed that shite coffee table on one of your sleepwalking incidents.

The most awesome arm wrestling match that you’ve ever witness in your life- though with all things considered you haven’t actually witnessed many - proceeds to happen and much to your surprise, Mason appears to be losing. Both of their muscles are straining, but even you can tell that Mason's arm is slowly moving down to the table.

You just hope that they don't break each other's arms because you witnessed one of your classmates snap their arm like a twig when they go too overzealous in their match. You can still hear the wet popping-snap sound to this day. It causes a small shiver to run up your spine, and you resist the urge to twitch at the unfriendly mental reminder.

The arm wrestling match is honestly like a car wreck, you can’t turn your eyes away. Mason’s arm hits the table with a slam, and the fishwoman lets out a triumphant roar, her only eye flaring with burning triumph. You might be imagining it, but you swear that you see her hair flowing in an invisible breeze for a second.

 

“You’re not half bad punk!” The lady says with a shark-like grin on her face. Mason grins back in a similar manner and you watch as they clasp arms and do the chest bump thing. Her voice is rough and has a hard edge to it that reminds you of an unpolished diamond. “Unlike most who go against me, you’re one of the few ones who’ve actually given me a decent challenge!”

 

“Ya ain’t so bad either.” Mason drawls, his heavy Boston accent seeping into his words. “Most of the chucklefucks that try ta mess with me always get the short end ‘o the stick.”

 

“So, the gym? You said that you’d let us in if I won.” She smiles, all teeth. “And I won, so that means we get to check out the place huh?”

 

“Honestly? You didn’t even have ta arm wrestle me.” Mason said with a snort. “It’s obvious that both of ya ain't basic, hell, seein’ how dedicated you both are, how can I possibly turn ya away?”

 

Mason turns and spots you, a kind smile replaces the ferocious grin that he had on earlier. “Ah! (Y/N), how’s it goin’ kiddo? Sleepwalkin’ not gettin to out of hand?”

 

Feeling a little subconscious, you shuffle your feet nervously before approaching the desk. You can feel the fish and lizard ladies’ eyes burning into your back and you swallow nervously.

 

“I’ve been, better I guess?” You give him a wobbly hand gesture, your voice low. “...I might’ve woken up this morning in the garden again.”

 

“The doc’s meds still not workin’ for ya?” Mason’s tone drops, his voice becoming barely audible. And his smile becomes strained at the edge, visible anger in his eyes. “Can’t that quack do anything right? You’ve been gettin’ worse kid.”

 

“Doc’s medicine has been working better than the last batch I got. It’s not every night anymore, so I guess I can’t be too choosy, it’s a bit more pricey considering how my condition isn’t... Exactly normal.” You explain. “Sleep meds stopped working years ago, uh, she said that it’ll take a bit longer for them to kick in. So, here’s hoping?”

 

“Alright, but the moment that ya know that they ain’t workin, ya go let ‘er know that you need somethin’ else.” Mason grunts.

 

“I will.” You respond, ducking your head down in acknowledgment,

 

“Hey, (Y/N)?” Mason asks, and you turn to him with a brow raised. “How’sa bout you go and show these lovely ladies around the place? They have a few more join’ them later so they’re trying to find the best place to work it.”

 

You turn and look at the two monster women, noticing how their eyes are practically looking you over. It’s almost as if they’re sizing you up and you’re not sure whether to feel threatened or concerned. You’ve seen this behavior before on Carmine, the suspicion in his eye-light practically mimic theirs. “I’d love to show them the run-around, I don’t have anything else to do for the day.”

 

That was a lie, but you really didn’t feel like working on Bitch-Tits McGee’s commission right now, and she said that she wanted it done in three and a half days, so you could simply cram as much of her shitty ocs into the shitty comic and be done with it.

 You say in greeting, sending both ladies a bright grin. Turning on your heel you gesture for them to follow behind you, and as you listen to your surroundings you hear both of them fall into step behind you. As you pass through the threshold, you see that Clara and Co have gone back to the ellipticals, as if they hadn’t been eavesdropping the entire time. You snort at that before turning to the monster duo.

 

“Welcome to Smash It! One of the few better gyms in the town of Ebott that isn’t horribly dilapidated.” You say as you raise your arms in the air and spin around, before giving them a bow. “My name is (Y/N) and I’ll be your guide for today. What are your names and what type of exercise routine are you looking for?”

 

“The name’s Undyne, punk.” The fishwoman, now named as Undyne responds, there’s an amused smile on her face from your antics and she looks you over before glancing to her partner and elbowing the dino in the side. “And this is my buddy, Thrash.”

 

The dinosaur monster, Thrash, inclines her head and sends you an equally vicious smile. “Sup’ nerd. We’re both looking for a routine that gives us endurance and a way to blow off some steam.”

 

“Well, you’re being guided by the right person then.” You grin back, a tingle of excitement racing up your spine. “I do kickboxing most of my days, and since we got this really neat parkour set up that trains all your muscles through the use of obstacles, I’d say that that’d be right up your alley.”

 

“When I first moved to Ebott, I didn't really work out all the much.” You say in a way to start up a conversation. You eagerly guide them to your area a spring in your step. “But since I got so stressed out with college bullshit, I came here to blow off my own issues, and I can’t help but come back every week.”

 

“You’re in college?” Thrash speaks up, curiosity in her gruff voice. “Doin’ the nerdy classes like advanced physics or ballet, twinkle toes?”

 

“Or maybe even nerdier classes!” Undyne chortles. “Like quantum physics!”

 

“Nah, I have an intense dislike for math, and dancing’s never been my style.” You snort in amusement, shaking your head. “I’m just your average art major, I’m just finishing up my business path for now.”

 

“What kinda stuff do you draw? A few buddies of mine do art.” Undyne says, a grin on her face. “Mostly sculptures, but some have turned to other things, like poetry.”

 

“Oh? Like you?” Thresh snorts, elbowing Undyne who doesn’t budge. “I’ve heard your poetry, it sucks-”

 

“OH MY GOD THRESH, WE DON’T SPEAK OF THAT.” Undyne roars, a dark green flush scrawls across her shimmering blue scale, and you can help but giggle at her flustered expression. “Say the person who writes love songs, and fuck you my poems are GREAT-”

 

“SHUT IT! AT LEAST I DON’T WRITE TRASHY ROMANTIC POETRY, RAUUGHHH” Thresh roars, and you burst out in helpless laughter.

 

“BULLSHIT, YOU WRITE SAPPY LOVE SONGS, NGAAAAAAAH!”

 

“Oh my god, poetry? Songwriting?” You say as they both turn their one-eyed glares to you instead, and you can’t help but howl even harder. “Hah hah holy shit- I’m suddenly very thankful that I draw in various anime styles-”

 

At the mention of Anime, both of them peak up in an almost eager fashion. “You like anime?” Their response is said at the same time, and you merely nod in response.

 

“I used to watch a lot of them when I was younger. I have a tendency to watch a bunch of the older animes from the early 2000’s, yes, while 2100 anime is decent there’s too much...” You make the motion of huge badonkers. “Of that stuff, so I mostly stick to the classics. I like tig ‘ol biddies as much as the next person, but when the protag is so young- hurk .”

 

Both of them nod with a respectful look in their eyes. “Have you ever seen Mew Mew?”

 

“Kissy Cutie?” You say, and both of them nod again. You think back to your younger days when you first found MMKC, it’s been a few years since you’ve seen an episode and you suddenly miss the show. “I used to watch it all the time when I was little, I was a big fan of the tv show and I loved the first movie it had great world-building and well developed side characters.”

 

“The second, however, is utter trash .” Your expression sours, your lips curling into a sneer at the reminder of that disastrous sequel movie. “They just- ruined so many characters and don’t get me started on that whole love triangle bullshit? We all knew that Starfruit and Kyu Kyu Kiwi were in love, but the still tried to push Starfruit and Miu Miu Mango together!”

 

“Absolutely horrendous!” Undyne crows. “Too much badly done fanservice, Mew Mew Strawberry is too good for fanservice! She’s the world protector-”

 

“-not some cheap merchandise object!” Thresh roars, finishing the other thought, and you nod in agreement. “And did you see how they changed Nya Nya Blueberry’s designs? The skirt was way too short.”

 

“Finally, someone gets it!” You cry, throwing your hands up into the air. “Holy shit, we gotta marathon that movie together and just spend the entire hour and thirty minutes to just drag it through the mud -”

 

“I decided that I like you, nerd.” Undyne grins. Her teeth glint in the fluorescent lights of the gym ferociously, and you can’t help but mimic her grin revealing your own row of pearly whites. “If you can keep up with us at boxing, maybe then you can come over for Trash Talkin’ MMKC2.”

 

“Bring it on.” You hiss at her, and both her and Thrash cackle gleefully. You have a feeling that this is going to be the start of a beautiful friendship.

 

That’s how you end up spending an hour beating the shit out of a few punching bags with Undyne and Thrash. They had made you put on your boxing gloves, even though when you tried to protest that your bandaged knuckles were just fine, they insisted (read: nearly suplexed you into the floor) and all but shoved the gloves on your hands. It was easy for you to adapt to their styles. Undyne had a tendency to almost dance around the bag, flitting between harsh punches and quick jabs, never staying in one place for too long. Thrash, on the other hand, remained mostly stationary, she would do mock dodges and feints, with strong attacks in between each move.

You were more or less a mix of the two, moving around the space with strong kicks and blocks with forearms, or dancing around the bag when it came after you from a particularly strong punch from Undyne. By the time the hour was up, your legs were burning, chest heaving and sweat dripped down your brow.

You sat on one of the benches, breathing in a controlled manner to slow down your racing heart. You wiped your face and neck with the towel, and you blinked in surprise when Undyne handed you an ice-cold water bottle out of thin air. You were suddenly reminded of a monster’s inventory and mentally lamented at the fact that humans didn’t have that, it’d be so convenient for storing food as it seemed to remain in some form of stasis.

 

“Take a breather (Y/N), you did great,” Undyne says, praise in her voice. There’s something in her eyes that looks almost like fondness, and it fills you with a sense of warmth. “You’ve got the same determination that a friend of mine has, he ALWAYS does his best to keep up with me. It’s kinda scary how similar you are to him, you’ve got that same dedication.”

 

“I’d agree too,” Thrash says, nodding a fond smile on her face. “Pol’s the same way, always doing his best to match me, and he’s always been so tenacious. Of course, he never wins unless I let him, but don’t tell him I said that.”

 

“Your secret is safe with me.” You say with a smile, winking at them and mimicking zipping up your mouth. “Are your friends gonna be here soon? I heard Mason saying something about others joining us.”

 

“AH FUCK! I knew that I forgot something!” Undyne shouts, and you watch as there’s a flicker of iridescent green magic the color of fresh mint, and a phone deposits itself into her hand. She aggressively types her password. “Heya PUNKS! Guess what? We can get to the gym, the main man said that we practically have free reign to do whatever we want here.”

 

You can hear someone talking faintly, which is kind of impressive considering how loud the male’s voice is on the other end of the phone. Whoever the person just be, he’s probably very… vocal. This... honestly isn’t all that surprising considering Undyne’s bold personality that is matched by Thrash’s brash nature.

You let the two of them chat with the people on the other end of the phone, and you proceed to take out your own as well. You scroll through your contacts, your thumb hovering over the contact labeled “MOMTHER”, your finger trembles briefly over the name. Should you call her? It’s been years now… you decide against it, for the feeling of anxiety curling in your gut surging forwards.

For once, you’re having a good day, and you don’t want it ruined.

You quickly scroll past it for someone else. The contact is colored orange, the name labeled as “Sibther.” The anxiety abates and you simply send your sibling a few hearts and a request to call them later. There’s a moment of silence, and you smile when you see your sibling type on the other end.

You laugh a little as they send you a few photos, their face decorated with cake frosting, a few friends crowding them with devious grins on their faces.

Another is a picture of them posing with a math award, a bright grin on their face, and you’re quick to shower them with praise. You feel awful for not being there, and it’s almost like they managed to read your mind.

 

“Don’t worry, I don’t blame you. Once I get my license, we can celebrate it together (Y/N).”

 

You’re quick to respond. “And I’ll make sure to bake you a cake and everything. Double chocolate chunk, just the way you like it.”

 

“<3”

 

You send them a few pictures as well. You getting your completion certificate, Kurotsuchi-Stone holding up your logo with proud grins on their faces, and a snapshot of Undyne and Thrash grinning up at the camera.

 

“Hey, (Y/N), our friends will be here within the next couple minutes,” Thrash says, poking your shoulder. You quickly let your sibling know that you need to go and shove the phone into your pocket. “D’you wanna come out an meet them?”

 

“I’d love to!” You respond with an eager smile. “I could hear them over the phone, and I must ask, is everyone you know that hyper?”

 

Thrash snorts in amusement and sends you a grin. “Meh, most of the group are a bunch’a slow moving nerds. Pol’s ‘n Pap are the only two who are really active.”

 

“Like sugar high active?” You ask, and Thrash sends you a smirk. “Well, that’s when you know that shit’s getting good.”

 

You stand up and stretch a little your spine cracking at the motion. You place your towel on your bench, capping your bottle of water, before following behind an eager Undyne and Thrash. Clara and Co are gone now, having left 30 minutes prior shouting their goodbyes to you as you ducked a particularly vicious punch from Undyne who had accidentally whiffed past the bag and almost smashed your face.

Something catches your attention, and you approach the gym’s window and look out into the parking lot, you notice how there is a 211X model Ferrari parked right next to your BMW on its left side. It’s one of the types that has a sunroof and convertible top. The snow falling onto the dark grey leather of the hatch, and you can’t spot any movement from the inside of the vehicle.  It’s the color of a bright red candy apple, with shiny chrome rims. It doesn’t have ice chains, but rather an odd orange glow around the tires that appears to be melting the surrounded snow.

Magic is fucking neat.

 

“(Y/N) NERD! GET OVER HERE!” You let out a surprised ‘meeh’ and abruptly slam the top of your head into the windowsill hard, there’s an awkward cracking sound as bone meets metal and you promptly curse quietly and step back from the window, idly rubbing your head.

 

“OH MY GOSH, HUMAN ARE YOU OKAY?” You feel gloved hands steadying your back, and it takes you a moment to blink the pain out of your eyes.

 

“Yeah, I’m just a little stunned.” You sigh, feeling slightly dazed. A gloved hand presses itself against the tender spot on your head, and you sigh at an almost cold sensation spreading outwards from the person’s palm. The stinging pain in your head all but fades away, and you distantly hear the sound of a sharp intake of breath as your thoughts become fuzzy. 

 

“...can’t use… on humans…”

 

“THEY’RE HURT… HAVE TO HELP.”

 

“Don’t know the effects… (Y/N) stay awake-”

 

You feel sleepy, and you dully realize that whatever the person is using on you has all but melted the stress off of your exhausted body. You blink tiredly, and it doesn't take long until you're unconscious.

 


 

Coming back to consciousness is a gradual, agonizing process. It feels like you’ve swallowed an unpleasant mix of glass and gravel, and each breath fills your lungs with pain. A cough forces itself from your lungs and you taste iron on your tongue. Your right-hand grips something hard and round, but you have no idea what it is. Your mind is too stunned and fuzzy to comprehend much of anything.

You’re aware of the fact that you’re sprawled out on the ground, and you could almost imagine your village elder’s scorn- you better not be lying around right now, when I’m doing all the work! You’re just sitting there, get up you ungrateful child!- The memory is unpleasant enough to cause you to grimace.

Something nuzzles the side of your face on your right, just slightly shy of the junction between your neck and shoulder. You blearily reach out with your available hand, your palms meeting bone, and gently try to push whatever it is away from you. A very familiar whining sound causes your eyes to snap open, and you find yourself staring into one of the white eye-lights of Sheka…

Who is... suddenly much smaller than you remember. When you had faced it earlier, it’s size had been at least 75 feet, but now it’s the size of a horse. A really large horse, even the hunting groups prized mounts weren't even that big.

You thought that Sheka would be more deer-like in stature, as deer were much smaller than horses and twice as willowy and lithe. In Sheka’s case, the keilaise now stands at a height of seven feet.

There’s an odd look of concern in its eyes you notice and you swallow dryly. It’s eye-lights shutter at you, before extinguishing momentarily in a manner that reminded you of a person closing their eyes. Sheka rubs its snout against the bare skin of your neck, rumbling lowly as it does so. Your hand trembles momentarily, and you grip your fingers into a tight fist in order to get the shaking to stop. Opening your hand, you reach up to caress the lower mandible of Sheka’s jaw. The gesture causes the keilaise to let out a delighted chirp, an odd purring noise erupting from its chest as you gently rub and scratch at the weathered bone.

Wincing, you place the orb- Which is glowing bright orange and has two shades of blue swirling gently in the center -into your lap. You carefully push yourself up into a sitting position, the joints in your back cracking loudly as you got out of your uncomfortable position. You sigh in relief as some of the pressure abates in your back. Sheka, however, seems to react violently upon hearing the sound.

Sheka jerks its head away from your hand and warbles worriedly, moving to get a look at your back and tentatively nosing the back of your robe. It’s done so delicately that you barely even feel it pressing into your back. You suddenly remember that Sheka’s made out of bone, and probably mistook the sound of your joints cracking for your spine breaking. Seeing that you’re stock still, Sheka’s whining becomes louder and more frantic. Oops.

 

“Sheka. I’m fine, it’s okay.” You say softly in a soothing manner, and to show that you’re unharmed, you stretch to the side and your back remains silent. “That noise just happens sometimes if I remain seated for too long.”

 

Sheka cocks its head to the side, and you give it a reassuring smile. The worry eases off of the keilaise and you watch as moved to your side. Sheka lies down beside you, sitting down on its haunches and angling its head so it can look at you. You look up at the sky, with the pristine white clouds flying high above, swirling in a manner that almost reminds you of the eddies and whirlpools in the nearby ocean that was just a couple dozen miles westward of your village. For a moment you think back to those horrible thoughts from those corrupting chains and how deathly pale Sheka looked.

You take the orb into your hand, marveling at how the colors spin and twist inside, moving to where your fingers are resting against the surface- like one of those plasma globes that you saw at the science fair- and darkening. You place it into your satchel, in the same pocket that the other one had rested previously.

Glancing at the now smaller Keilaise, you notice that the eye-lights are a very pale blue in the center that fades to white and a dull halo of orange around the edges. It almost reminds you of the time when you took a shard of obsidian and looked at the sun through the dark glass, revealing the bright white circle that radiated orange light. It was oddly pretty in its coloration, and you wondered how Sheka's eye-lights would look like in the dark.

You try to get up again, and to your relief, there’s no tingling sensation in your limbs anymore. You clumsily get onto your feet, and you sway a little on your heels. Sheka quickly gets up with a dull clatter of bone against bone, nuzzling it’s snout into your back and steading you as it does so. Looking around the mesa, you contemplate how to get Sheka and yourself out of here. You can’t seem to find any exit points other than places that you have to climb up to and over. Looking back at your new companion, you realize that it’s hopeless to try and get it up and over the stone.

Maybe you could look around the perimeter? Maybe there’s a place that you could find that’s small enough for a moose sized deer. You hope so at least, whoever had trapped Sheka here had to have gotten him in somehow. There was no way that a 75-foot tall creature managed to climb that high of a sheer cliff.

You walk over to the perimeter of the lower shelf of the mesa, looking around the edges. Sheka follows behind you like a puppy, it looks curiously at you, cocking its skeletal head to the side. You hum a tune to yourself, it’s scratchy and hoarse due to your almost constant silence, but the sound is comforting. You hear the tune repeat and your head snaps to look over at the deer. The tune is horribly off, with an odd high pitched whistling noise accompanying the sound, but the fact that it mimics the sound brings a smile to your face. You hum the tune louder and grin widely when he tries to match your voice.

You abruptly step into some tall grass in your distracted searching and your plummet down ass over teakettle down into the dark. Sheka’s song turns into a cry of alarm that’s drowned out as you go down. You slide down the sudden decline, banging your arms into stone and bruising your knees as you roll to a stop. Luckily for you, the bottom of whatever you’ve fallen in is densely filled with soft grasses and moss. You stare up blearily at the ceiling of a cave, the light filtering down from the hole that you had just fallen down into. Plant matter such as vines climbs down the hole, their leaves bright green in the yellow light. You can see the outline of Sheka nervously peering down

A giggle escapes your mouth before it turns into hysterical laughter.

 

“FOUND IT!” You howl up at the ceiling, the sound echoing faintly off the walls, clutching your stomach and pounding your fist into the floor.

 

You hear the clatter of hooves on stone, followed by an awful scraping sound and your head darts up to look at Sheka, who is currently sliding down on his haunches. His eye-lights boggle out in the most comical fashion and it startles another laugh from you. He skids to a stop, peering down at you with wide eye-lights. And yep, they are rather pretty in the darkened light of the cave.

He? You can’t really remember when you started referring it as a ‘Him’. Looking at the horns, and the sheer size of them, you guess that Sheka’s male. It’s definitely better than referring Sheka to an ‘it’.

You push yourself back onto your feet at the same time Sheka gets up on all fours. Your arms and knees hurt, but it’s completely drowned out by the sheer vilification that flows through your heart and soul. You managed to find a way out, and you eagerly follow the cave out. Trailing your hands against the faintly glowing moss and the damp stone as you do so and into the warm light of the white sun. Turning to look back at Sheka, you notice how he stands at the mouth of the cave. The hanging vines concealing the entrance drape over his skull and horns like a wreath, peering out into the wilderness with a look of wonder in his eyes. He ducks his head down and takes a tentative step forward, then another and another until he stands in the light.

You half expect him to run for the hills and into the distance until you can no longer see him. Sheka’s free now. Free of the chains and the stone prison that he had gotten himself into.  Instead, he turns to you, clacking his jaw nervously and gently pressing his snout against your neck. You reach up and gently rub at the bone.

 

“What are you going to do now?” You ask him, curious about why he’s still standing by your side. “You’re free, you can do anything you want. You can run for the hills, and eat… whatever giant deer skeletons eat.”

 

Sheka lets out a soft whine, and you feel his breath against your neck. It’s eye-lights abruptly flare a bright, vivid blue, and you watch as magic gathers on it’s back and shoulders. You wince at the brightness of the glow, looking away briefly until it fades. When the glow dies, you spot what looks like a saddle resting on its back. It's made out of the same fabric that your equipment is made out of, except the colors of the fabrics are varying shades of grey and orange. You occasionally see a flicker of bright orange and blue that sparks off the runes stitched into the fabric.

 

The presence of the Reinohr suddenly surges forward from the depths of your mind. You instinctively flinch at the sensation, pressing your hands against the sides of your skull.

 

“This one now wishes to accompany you on your journey. You have done him a great service by saving him from the corruption of the Yoh’Kuh.” They whisper.

 

“The Yoh’Kuh, what are they?” You ask. “How did they create such... evil magic?”

 

“The Yoh’Kuh is an old, ancient race from long before you Ningyo-nen and Katju-nen roamed these lands. They lost their way and the magic warped them into something monstrous.”  

 

“And?”

 

“The rest we cannot speak about, even their names are too old for even us to remember. But we are sure of one thing, they are dangerous, and they must be eliminated.”

 

You swallow nervously, fiddling with your gloves as the knowledge sinks in. You think of those dark and twisted voices speaking in the forefront of your mind, how cold and oily-hostile their words were in your head. The Yoh’Kuh are like the Reinohr, but malevolent and twisted.

You wonder what caused them to change into such a horrible being. Reinohr whispers in the back of your mind, reassuring you that they will do their best to protect you from their influence. It warms something in your chest.

 

“Sheka will now serve as your Nou’Rhu if you so wish him to be.”

 

“Nou’Rhu? What is that?”

 

“Noh’rhu serves as one’s mount, they are used to traverse these lands as they have acute knowledge. They function as guides and traveling companions.”

 

“And he wishes to accompany me on my journey?” You’re dumbfounded, and you glance over at Sheka who’s looking at you with his head cocked to the side. His eye-lights flicker in a facsimile of a blink. A chuffing sound escapes his mouth, and he nuzzles into your neck again exhaling deeply, the chuff becoming a low, purr-like rumble.

 

“Indeed, he appreciates your kindness. The Yoh’Kuh were trying to convince you to kill him, He could hear their voices as they spoke to you. Seeing how you managed to resist them and saved his life, he wants you…”

 

“He wants me to do what? What could I possibly offer him in return?”

 

“He wishes for you to save his brother.”

 

Your thoughts flicker over to the caged Keilaise in the tower. You recall Sheka’s shackled form trapped in the gilded cages. You remember how it’s white gemstones were fixed across the turtle-like keilaise on the opposite wall, their expressions pleading and desperate. You swallow the lump that has formed in your throat, and you wipe away the tears that have formed in your suddenly wet eyes.

 

“I… accept his wish to accompany me.”

 

Sheka approaches your side, and you carefully climb up using the stirrups as a step, and you situate yourself on his back. He warbles to you and you reach up to stroke the spot between his impressive horns. He chuffs softly, and you grab the reins. He immediately starts off in a walk, before shifting gears into a full-on gallop, racing off to the Tower. You hold onto the horn of the saddle angling your body lower so you don’t cause Sheka to slow down.

In the ten minutes that it took you to run to the tower, Sheka managed to make it to the worn steps of the tower in around three minutes. You brush your hair back with your fingers, looking back at the mesa where you had just come from, noticing how the clouds above were swirling above that space. You dismount off Sheka, and the moment you step onto the floor, the saddle disappears into a rush of sparks the color of bright sunset orange and rich ocean blue.

The Tower is quiet like usual, and the only sounds you can hear is the faint whispers of the wind and the clacking sound of your boots and the clicking of hooves against the stone floor.

You approach the tale structure in the center of the room, noticing how the central pillars in the table are still up, the runes still glowing the same blue from the first orb that you had placed there. A thin beam of blue light emanates from the central cup at the center, beaming skyward through the hole in the ceiling. You reach into your satchel, noticing how there are other grooves cut into the table that hadn’t been there before, and pull out the orb out of the pouch.

The surface of it shifts, and you let out a bark of surprise as it suddenly hovers over your palm. The glasslike surface seems to melt and you watch as the orb turns into a cube shape, the edges a bright orange, while the blue condenses and swirls rhythmically in the center.

You spot a cube-shaped hole in the center of the table, and you placed the orb-turned-cube into its spot. It clicks into place and you watch transfixed as the blue runes on the table glow orange, the cube blazing brightly. The concentric runes that lead to the cube from the central spire in the table shift before your very eyes, becoming jagged and squared off.

Energy flows from the cube and-

Your world goes white as the energy blasts skywards. You’re knocked off of your feet at the force of the blast, grunting as you hit the floor. Your eyes open and you find yourself lying on your side, feeling the harsh winds as the energy races up and up. The marble statue of Sheka in the cage glows and cracks, the golden bars of the cage melting and splattering to the floor as the statue crumbles into rubble. As the light fades and your vision darkens once more, you think you spot a shadowy figure standing above you. Your vision swims as the thing crouches down, it’s skeletal in appearance with two orange and blue eye-lights.

You feel it gently touching your face, stroking your cheek with bony fingers.

 

“Your next foe is… a creature that lies dormant in depths of a seaside cave, it moves slowly but that does not make it any less dangerous.”

 

Everything falls into oblivion.

 

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

hang out

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

-Guide-

 

Italics is telepathy

Bold is a language spoken other than english

Bold Italics is a mix of both

Underline is void-speak

 


 

You could feel something poking and prodding at your face with rubber-gloved fingers. Mildly upset at your rest being disturbed. You clumsily slapped at the offending appendage with one of your available hands, and you breathed out a satisfied sigh when the nuisance went away shortly after.

Your bedroom was awfully loud this morning, and you suddenly regret tossing your alarm clock out of your room because you are positive that it’s still screeching. In response to this, you curl yourself up into an even tighter ball in an effort to block out the infernal noise of whatever was trying to wake you from your rest.

 

“By Asgore’s beard…” You heard a voice growl, and you sputtered and coughed when a cup of water was dumped on your face. “GET UP NERD!”

 

“UNDYNE, OH MY GOD! YOU DON’T JUST WAKE PEOPLE UP LIKE THAT!”

 

“Hey, it worked on me in Hotland!”

 

“YOU WERE PASSED OUT IN THE HEAT, THAT WAS NECESSARY-”

 

“-Well it’s the only thing that worked, (Y/N)’s up now. And Paps, you know you can’t use green without checking first-”



“I KNOW, I KNOW. I’VE ALREADY SAID THAT I'M SORRY BUT THEY LOOKED LIKE THEY WERE IN SO MUCH PAIN...”

 

“(Y/N) just smacked their head, Pap. It’s not that big of a deal.”



“UNDYNE, THE CRACKING SOUND DEFINITELY SOUNDED LIKE A ‘BIG DEAL’ TO ME.”

 

“You’re a skeleton! Besides, humans are strong! It was just a headbutt, it didn’t even do much damage!”

 

“ON THE CONTRARY, HUMAN-CINNA SMACKED THEIR SKULL AND THEY HAD A CONCUSSION!”

 

“But that was when they fell off their bike, That’s different! NGAHHH!”

 

“UNDYNE, NOOOOO! PLEASE DON’T NOOGIE THE SKELETON!”

 

Your disjointed mind was still trying in vain to snap itself back together, but the fogginess of whatever the person had used on you was still clouding your thoughts. It was a struggle to crawl back to awareness from your fragmented thoughts, and a distressed whine escaped your mouth as you blearily looked around the training room near the punching bags.

Or, at least. you think that those weird blurry red things are punching bags.

Everything was all muddled and fuzzy. You winced as the light from the fluorescents over your head blinded you with their intensity, causing you to squint as your eyes struggle to adjust. Everything was too bright and too loud. The cold water dripped down the curves of your face and streamed off the locks of your hair. You wondered briefly if this is what hell felt like.

 

“Bwuht the fuck -” Your hands trembled as you tried your best to wipe the offending liquid off of your face to no avail.

 

“LANGUAGE!” Someone, male, said in a lightly chastising manner.

 

Cracking your eyes open, you spotted the grey and white blob take something out of another something. You shut your eyes and sputtered a weak protest as they wiped your face off with a towel, before throwing it over your head and gently dried the water from your hair. You sat there quietly, your hands in your lap as the person spent a few minutes to get the rest of the water off of your clothes.

It was almost humiliating in a sense, you had practically fainted out of sheer exhaustion. Though you weren’t all that surprised considering how active sleepwalker-you was during the nights.

 

“Wha happ’nd” You slur, reaching up to grab the towel and scrubbed your face with it briefly before wrapping it around your throat like a scarf because you suddenly feel cold.

 

Everything burns, the light in your eyes is utterly relentless as they assault your senses. You blink furiously in an effort to make the blurriness stop and is relieved when everything gradually pieces itself back into clarity.  “Did ah pass ‘ut or sm’thin again?”

 

Undyne crouched next to you, a worried look in her eyes. “You bonked your head and my friend decided that it was a great idea to try and heal you-”

 

“Y-yahh-you didn’t use magic ,” You say immediately, your slurred voice becoming sharp and cold halfway through the sentence. Undyne flinches at the frigid tone in your voice, and you feel awful.

 

The reason why you have such a visceral reaction to someone using magic was of the fact that you suddenly recalled something that you heard over the radio a few days after you met Carmine. As of now, Magic was currently banned in human areas. While it had been proven that monster magic has incredible properties, there was still so much that humanity didn't know about. They were terrified of magic, even if they'd witnessed that it could be used to help. Anyway, magic would continue to be banned until the government could screen, document, register, and classify everything. Once everything was registered and classified, it was only then that the monster could gain the ability to use their powers freely. And your new friends? Companions? Life-ruiners?

Had just used magic on you when they weren’t in the Monster District, and could get into serious trouble because they didn’t have the correct goddamn license and registration.

Good god, You’ve never hated politics with such vitriol until now. It was like someone had lit a fire in your chest because now you’re just upset and mildly horrified.

 

“You didn’t use magic, I just banged my head ‘n it caused me to have a narcoleptic episode.” You say, your voice insisting in its intensity.

 

“What on earth are you going on abou- oh .” Undyne’s voice went soft, and her ear fins folded back as she straightened. “Okay, you just had a narcoleptic episode and we helped you out.”

 

“UNDYNE WE-” You turned your attention the other speaker, his voice was higher pitched than the person who had cleaned your hair and face of the water. His voice sounded like someone from an old, ancient tv-show from the 1980’s, Skeletor you believe? Your knowledge of pop culture stuff from the 21st century is quite abysmal.

 Your mind stutters-

 -because holy shit it’s another skeleton and you immediately recognize those eye-lights. The skeleton’s eye-lights are small and round. If anyone else looked, they would’ve assumed that they were just a plain old white. But you’ve always noticed the little things. They’re a very pale blue in the center, and they gradually fade to white and are surrounded by a dull halo of orange around the edges.

 It’s like Carmine and the Red-Eyed Keilaise all over again. Except this guy is the exact match to a certain deer, all the way up to his expression.

All you can do is helplessly stare at the very, very tall skeleton who stands in front of you.

He’s quite tall, around 6 foot 5. Everything about him is light and fit, and his bones are the color of a very pale peachy-orange, much like Sheka’s bones after Dreamer- you should probably call them that now - cut off the chains.

His eye sockets are honestly kind of beady, but it’s cute in an odd sort of way. They’re mismatched, with the left eye socket being a tad smaller than the right. He’s wearing bright red booty shorts of all things, a white tank top that exposed his lumbar vertebrae with the words “JOG BOY” written flawlessly in the papyrus font and permanent marker. He’s wearing rubber boots and an equally bright red set of woolen gloves and a long ragged scarf around his neck that drapes behind him like a cape.

He looks pretty cool, like some sort of athletic superhero.

He shifts uncomfortably as you stare him down, wringing his gloved hands together and sends Undyne a confused look. Said woman merely shrugs in response.

 

“Sheka?” You mumble, cocking your head to the side, and the skeleton looks at you in confusion. Whoops, you didn’t mean to say that aloud.

 

“UM, HELLO! DID YOU SAY SOMETHING?” He asks you, and you immediately shut your mouth and shake your head no. “I’M SORRY FOR CAUSING YOU TROUBLE, I DIDN’T MEAN TO USE-”

 

“Don’t worry! It’s fine! Nothing happened, I just passed out.” You say with a wink, and something dawns in the eyes of the skeleton.

 

“OH! I SEE ,” He says, snapping his gloved fingers in sudden realization. “YES. NOTHING HAPPENED!”

 

“YOU JUST PASSED OUT, OF COURSE!” He calls out, and you find yourself smiling in relief. “HELLO, HUMAN! I AM THE GREAT PAPYRUS. ONE OF THE TWO MASCOTS OF MONSTER-KIND!”

 

The monsters have mascots? You think in confusion, and you suddenly regret not paying attention to the news. Since when did they have mascots???

 

“Oh? So you’re Paps then?” You ask him. “Undyne talked about you a lot-”

 

(Y/N) ” Undyne hissed in warning, and you sent her a cheeky smile and stuck out your tongue.

 

“-She said that you’re a huge nerd.” You tease, Undyne wraps her arm around your towel-covered neck and gives you one hell of a noogie and you cackle gleefully despite the pain. All the while Papyrus proceeds to sputter.

 

“I’M NOT A NERD, MY BROTHER IS THE HUGE NERD.” He protests. He turns his nose up in the air and sniffs haughtily, though the whole image is ruined because you can see a small smile on his face. “I AM THE COOLEST SKELETON OF THEM ALL!”

 

“Yeah, no kidding, He is the biggest nerd,” Undyne says, chortling as she lets you go. You rub at your head a little to ease the pain. “But you are the second most biggest nerd, Ufufufu~

 

Papyrus’s smile drops into a pout, and you hear a giggled “mweh heh heh” from behind you. You remember that Thrash had talked about a person with the nickname ‘Pol,’ you hesitantly turn on your heel and look for the source of the laughter.

It’s another skeleton, and he’s… much shorter than you expected.

Papyrus was a giant compared to this guy, and he’s a few inches shorter than Carmine- though that wasn’t saying much because Carmine barely reaches to your chest- he’s somehow kind of chubby? You think you see a pale blue haze of magic that’s very faint around his lumbar vertebrae, and it looks almost like a… stomach?

Man, magic is so weird.

His bones are significantly thicker than the ones that makeup Papyrus’ body.

His skull is rounded and soft looking with the large cheekbones. His sockets are large, almost childlike. His eye-lights are shaped differently than Papyrus'. They’re oval in shape and large like that of a cat’s eye when one is about to pounce. The ‘iris’ part of his eyes is a robin’s egg blue, darker around the edges, while his pupils are star-shaped, and are colored a very pale yellow. There’s a baby blue bandana wrapped around his neck and a matching set of boots and gloves made out of some sort of rubber. He too is wearing booty shorts and a tank top shirt that shows off his lower vertebrae, with the words “RUN GUY” written in a blue pen, in perfect comic sans.

 

“LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?” He teases, his smile bright and warm.

 

“Yes. Your eyes are very pretty.” You’re too stunned to even be embarrassed. It looks like Pol wasn’t prepared for your blunt answer because a dark blue tint crosses his face. You’d question how on earth a skeleton could blush, but you chalk it up to magic. “So pretty that I couldn’t help but stare.”

 

You send him an awkward smile and flash him your best pair of finger guns while Undyne and Thrash lose their shit in the background. Papyrus laughs too, and you notice how his eye-lights briefly flicker like a dying candle before extinguishing altogether. Leaving a black void in their wake. His smile seems strained at the edges, and you- unfortunately - recognize that look.

 

(You see it in the mirror sometimes when you were upset at your body when you were a teen. When you felt self-conscious about your appearance. Whenever your sibling did something wrong.)

 

It’s shame, and something ugly twists in your chest because you wonder who made Papyrus so ashamed over his pretty eyes.

 

(Did people see him as creepy or something? Some sort of freak?  How could they see such a positive guy as weird?)

 

...You wouldn’t put it past humans though.

 

You immediately turn over to Papyrus and send him your most winning smile, because you didn’t mean to make him self conscious about his lights. “And deary me! I may have been staring earlier. But I couldn’t help it, I was just… stunned stupid by your beauty.”

 

“Your eyes, such a gorgeous shade of blue and orange, it was like staring at an eclipse.” You sigh dreamily.

 

Papyrus’s smile becomes more genuine as a soft blue tinted haze makes its way across his cheekbones. You can’t help but smile wider when his lights make an appearance once more flickering back into existence, so you give yourself a mental pat on the back.

 

[You miss Undyne and the others all glancing at each other as you continue your little act.

You miss how they look at you with something akin to respect.]

 

Swooning dramatically, you stumble forwards and drape yourself over Thrash like the idiot you are, and hurriedly fan yourself with your hand. “Oh god, there are so many pretty people. I’m so bi that I might die."

 

“This is why I appreciate (Y/N)!” Thrash howls in laughter, you grunt and stumble to the side when she elbows you in the ribs. You rub at the spot and send her an embarrassed smile. “Brutally honest, and doesn’t beat around the bush!”

 

“I don’t see why I’d have to, it’s better to give someone the cold and bitter truth than lie constantly.” You say with a snort. Oddly enough, both Papyrus and Pol seem to agree with you on this, so you file away the information to think about it later.

 

“You got a name, handsome?” You ask as you incline your gaze down at the shorter skeleton.

 

“YES I DO, HELLO I AM HANDSOME- I MEAN- OH SHOOT.” He blushes again, before straightening, he offers you one of his hands. “MY NAME IS POLARIS!”

 

“Oh! So that’s what Pol is short for!” You say, and you slap your fist into an opened palm. You’re quick to accept his hand and is given one doozy of a handshake that leaves your hand hurting after he lets go. “I was wondering what that meant. Like the north star?”

 

“EXACTLY LIKE THE NORTH STAR! PEOPLE ALWAYS ASK ME IF MY NAME WAS INSPIRED BY THE COMPANY.” Polaris says with a pout. “THEY JUST ASSUME THAT BECAUSE WE HAVEN’T SEEN THE STARS IN MANY YEARS, THAT ALL OF OUR INFORMATION COMES FROM THE TRASHEAP.”

 

“Well, most people usually think of technology first.” You respond. “But I’ve never been most people, besides, I like astronomy.”

 

“Uh, what’s this about trash?” Then the second part of his sentence registers, and you ask all of them in confusion.

 

“Yeah, most of our tech and stuff came from the garbage that washed into the underground from the various rivers near the landfill.” Undyne explains. “You haven’t heard about that? There was a big ass legal battle about it when people found out that the company had illegally been dumping their garbage into the various waters.”

 

“Uh, no actually I haven’t.” You scratch at the back of your neck awkwardly and advert your eyes. “I don’t really pay attention to the news much, if at all. So please excuse me if I don’t know about certain things.”

 

“That’s fine, we can fill you in later if you'd like?” Undyne says and you nod.

 

“That’d be nice, but... I might just… do some research….. later.” You said, and your voice trails off into a mumble. You mentally add a ‘check current legal matters pertaining to monsters’ to your ever-growing list of ‘things that you need to do’.

 

“(Y/N), you said that you like astronomy?” asks Thrash, placing her hands on her hips as she gives you a look.

 

“Uh, yeah? What does this have to do with anythi-” You start, but is quickly interrupted by Undyne who’s eye widens.

 

“SO YOU ARE A NERD!” Undyne shrieks, point at you with a shark-like grin. “Nerds LOVE stars!”

 

“Says the nerd-person who writes romantic poetry.” You snark back, showing off your own teeth in a bare grin. “Besides, stargazing makes for a great dating event.”

 

“UNDYNE, YOU NEVER TOLD ME YOU WROTE POETRY!” shouts Papyrus, he lets out a happy noise and stomps one of his feet. “WAS THE LETTER TO ALPHYS ALSO A POEM?”

 

Undyne looks at you in betrayal, and you’re quick to respond. “We’re all nerds now, there’s no escape friendo.”

 

“THRASH ISN’T A NERD,” Polaris says with full confidence, crossing his arms and grinning. “SHE’S TOUGH, STRONG AND SINGS DEATH METAL!”

 

“Huh-” You put on your most thoughtful expression, and Thrash’s eye widens in sudden alarm. Polaris turns to her and sends her a confused look as she stomps past him.

 

“(Y/N)” She says, voice and eyes hard.

 

“Well I heaaaaaard-” You continue, your smile reaching shit-eating levels of grinning.

 

(Y/N)! ” Thrash warns, her eyes narrowing.

 

“-that Thrash writes love songs!” You blurt, and Thrash roars at you in mock anger. Cackling madly, you sprint away from the irate dinosaur.

 

“GODDAMN IT, (Y/N)! I TAKE BACK WHAT I SAID, YOU’RE THE WORST! ” Thrash snarls, though she sounds more amused and embarrassed than threatening.

 

You distantly hear Polaris say something about Trash’s songwriting, but you’re too focused in running away from the dino than paying attention to what he’s saying. Someone’s left a piece of exercise equipment, and you don’t slow your pace, in fact, you go faster and easily vault yourself over it. Thrash, however, isn’t so agile and has to stop and carefully climb over in order to go after you.

By this time you’ve managed to reach this little exercise equipment area that reminds you out of something from a military boot camp crossed with a child’s jungle gym. Which is exactly what it was designed after.

Certain areas had foam blocks under certain parts just in case if you fell while trying to climb over certain things, and you know from experience that falling into the foam is… irritating because the more you struggle the more you sink. Luckily you’re tall enough that you can just wade through the foam and climb over the edge and back up onto the higher ground.

Taking a quick glance over your shoulder, you spot Thrash quickly gaining on you. However, you’re much faster and you’re swift enough that climbing up up the ropes with relative ease. You carefully balance yourself across the top beam that is connected to the ropes. Before hopping up and onto one of the main areas that require the person to climb up a series of rock-like handholds to reach the top. Your brain seems to highlight every single handhold and you feel your smile turn wolfish. You move up like some sort of human spider, quickly ascending all the way up.

You’re quick to perch yourself onto the roof of the thing, a wild grin on your face as you watch Thrash doing her best to scrabble up its surface. You then spot Polaris and Papyrus following behind Undyne, amused smiles plastered on their faces.

 

“Don’t you dare move Y/N!” Thrash growls, nearing you slowly. It looks like her claws aren’t really meant for climbing in this manner. They’re rounded and sharp, reminding you of a velociraptor. More or less meant for flatter surfaces.

 

You merely giggle like a maniac, inching yourself off the top of the rock wall and move onto a monkey bar-like structure, however, it was only one pole that required you to hang under it and inch your way across. You grip on tightly to the pole and swing yourself slowly until you’re upside down. You feel your arms and legs get used to the shifting of gravity before you carefully begin to move forward.

 

“Oh my god-” You hear Thrash say distantly but you’re already halfway across by the time she reaches the top of the rock wall, her claws scrabbling for purchase on the mock plastic.

 

Reaching the opposite platform, you whistle a cheerful tune from a videogame and smile cheekily at Thrash. “Didn’t you say that you were a royal guardsman? Shouldn’t you be able to catch a puny human like me?”

 

“I was a captain. Am a Captain.” Thrash pouts from where she glares, which causes you to snicker.

 

“Oooh, pardon me, my mistake.” You tease, looking thoughtful.

 

“Oh my fUCK!” Thrash barks as she suddenly loses one of her grips on the stone, sending her sliding down the surface of the plastic and back on the ground.

 

“Shouldn’t a big, strong, tough, captain like you be able to catch such a weak human like me?” You reiterate and flutter your eyelashes at her. Now it’s Thrash’s turn to snicker.

 

“Well, you may be too agile for me-” She begins.

 

“-BUT NOT FOR ME!” You shriek when someone grabs you from behind, their arms wrapping around your front. In an effort to get away from- the threat, threat, threat, there’s foam beneath- and you lurch yourself off the overhang in one jerky motion. The arms around your body tighten considerably and the person yelps as you fall forwards into the foam below.

Your world goes dark as you feel yourself sink into the cubed blocks, the person letting go moments before you ate soft cushy cube. You sputter incoherently, trying in vain to gather your bearings. You can’t tell which way is up, so you spend a moment thrashing around before you sink in and touch the bottom of the pit with your feet.

You stand up in a mini-explosion of foam cubes as you look around wildly. Polaris lies spread eagle on the top of all the blocks, his bones too light for him to sink below. He stares at you with wide blue eye-lights, the yellow stars are tiny little dots in the center of those cyan depths.

 

“I- um- don’t do well with surprise attacks.” You blurt, awkwardly wading your way over to him as Thrash laughs in the background at your apparent misfortune.

 

You feel your face and neck heat up with a blush, and you have to resist the urge to duck your head down and hide from everything.  “Uh, try not to do that again- I would have punched you and I really, really, really, hate hurting people.”

 

“I THINK I SEE THAT NOW, I’M VERY SORRY FOR STARTLING YOU.” Polaris says as he awkwardly tries to sit up, only to sink back into the foam with an annoyed “myeh”-ing sound that brings a tiny smile to your face.

 

“Do you need some help getting out?” You ask as you stand by his side. He wiggles for a bit longer, sinking into the foam as he does so, and you snort back a laugh.

 

“NNNNYES, THAT WOULD BE VERY MUCH APPRECIATED,” Polaris responds, and he allows himself to be picked up by you.

 

You take a moment to mentally debate which type of hold that you should go for, bridal style? Nah, maybe fireman’s carry? That makes it easier for you to put him on the side and then get out by yourself. You haul him up with a slight grunt, and for a moment you gauge his weight. He is, in fact, much lighter than you expected. He’s lighter than most of the weights that you wear during your runs, so you’d say that he’s around what, 20 something pounds?

Goodness, that’s light.

He squeaks quietly, reminding you of a dog toy as you drape him over your shoulder and awkwardly wiggle your way through the multicolored monochrome blues of the pit. Thrash and Undyne are all but wheezing in the background, and you’re pretty sure that they’ve taken a few photos of your descent and the current situation. Maybe you should ask them to send you some copies.

Papyrus stands by the edge of the pit, looking almost tempted to jump on in and join the two of you, though you’re positive that he’d just get stuck. You think that he realizes that too, so he refrains from all but diving into cube-hell.

 

“Having fun today, Papyrus?” You ask him, and Papyrus smiles at you.

 

“YES, TODAY HAS BEEN QUITE FUN.” He glances back at Thrash and Undyne, who are both curled up on the floor giggling like mad. “THOUGH WE HAVE NOT BEEN DOING AS MUCH EXERCISE AS I WOULD LIKE.”

 

“Well, the gym closes at like, 1 in the morning, so you’ve got plenty of time” You hum as you finally reaching the edge of the pit. “Hey, Polaris, we’re here you can just flop back onto the side now.”

 

He struggles for a moment and you feel his hands palming at your back until he manages to push himself up and over your shoulder. His rounded cheekbones are practically glowing a dark blue, and he does his best to not look you in the eyes. It’s so adorable, and you’re so glad that you have a small ounce of self-control that prevents you from cooing at the sight.

 

“Embarrassed?” You tease gently.

 

“I’M NOT EMBARRASSED!” He protests loudly before he buries his face into his hands and speaks again, voice muffled. “But why that carry?”

 

“It was either carrying you like a sack of potatoes, or the bridal style.” You respond, and he looks up at you with wide eye-lights. “And you don’t strike me as a person for the latter carry, so Fireman’s carry it was.”

 

“I… WELL, THAT COULD BE WORSE.” He admits, before straightening up the blush fading from his cheeks. “NOW THAT THAT’S OVER, SHALL WE ALL TACKLE THE COURSE?”

 

“I think I’ll watch from the punching bags.” You respond, jabbing your finger behind you to where all of your equipment. “You guys can run it if you’d like, but I still need to work out my aggression.”

 

“AGGRESSION? YOU DON’T SEEM ALL THAT ANGRY TO ME.” Papyrus asks.

 

“Uh, I’m really good at hiding it?” Your response is more of a question, even to your own ears, and it causes you to shuffle your feet awkwardly.

 

“WHAT HAPPENED?” Inquires Polaris, joining in on the conversation.

 

“Eh, just a really annoying client of mine.” You huff, your face falling to a frown when you think of your most recent commissioner. “She seemed like a decent person at first, but it’s all been going downhill.”

 

“Why not cancel the transaction?” Polaris asks you in confusion. “Surely it can’t be that bad?”

 

“Uh, I’ve already put too much time into the work, and she’s already paid for the first half.” You continue. “My policy states that once the first payment is made, then I will finish the commission. I don’t go back on my promises. I just won’t consider her next time.”

 

“I SEE, WELL. HOPEFULLY, YOU’RE ALMOST DONE?” Papyrus said, and you nod in response.

 

“Yeah, just gotta finish lining and coloring the second page. Which means that I should be done tomorrow.” You huff through your nose at that. “Today’s a break day for me, so I may do a little more before I sleep tonight.”

 

Thrash and Undyne finally make their way over to you, and you merely nod at them. “What’s this I hear about bad clients?”

 

“Nothing too bad Undyne, just some mean lady with a really nasty penchant for saying dumb things,” You respond, being as vague as possible. “Nothing that I can’t handle. Which reminds me, do you guys have anything to do later today?”

 

“We do. We’re going to have dinner later at a friend's house. Why?” Thrash asks.

 

“Well, I know this really lovely cafe that is monster tolerant, and I was wondering if you guys would like to visit it with me later?” You ask, your voice is hopeful. “It doesn’t have to be today but maybe later in the week? I don’t have many friends-”

 

“AND YOU WOULD LIKE US TO ACCOMPANY YOU?” Polaris asks, a hint of confusion in his voice. “BUT YOU HAVEN’T KNOWN US FOR THAT LONG!”

 

“Well, would it be weird if I told you that…” You clear your throat awkwardly. “Uh, that something about you guys just feels right? It’s like I’ve known you for a bit already.”

 

“Well, you fit right in with us! Ufufufu~ ” Undyne laughs. “It’s not that surprising, you’re a great person anyway.”

 

“Yeah! We’d love to go to the nerd cafe.” Thrash chuckles. “Is it a good date location? I was thinking of bringing my lovely girlfriends along!”

 

“Hey, I was gonna do that!” Undyne snaps, and they both mock glare at each other.

 

“Well, why not double date and I can give you guys more Supreme Dating Locations™” You say as you step between them, mock fight or not, seeing tense moments between friends still makes you feel iffy. “I’ve got a bunch of them, stargazing, peaceful beach areas, you name ‘em.”

 

“You must be one hell of a Casanova then.” Undyne snorts and gently ruffles your hair as she does so.

 

“Mmm, not really.” You snort, the idea of you dating someone is silly, laughable even.

 

You’ve only had a few dates in your past, and most of them were in your middle school years. “I’ve been a single pringle who’s never been ready to mingle for years now.”

 

“You’re kidding! But you’re such a genuine person, who wouldn’t want to date you?” Undyne sputters, and you flush in response.

 

“Uh, humans don’t really go for personality??” You squeak out, looking around for some help. There is none. Oh hell. “I’m not much in looks, so I’m not surprised.”

 

They all look at you in slight disbelief.



“BUT- YOU ARE VERY PRETTY!” Papyrus says, and you feel yourself blush. You smile at him weakly and scratch at the back of your neck. “I MEAN, YOU’RE ABOUT AS HANDSOME AS MYSELF.”

 

“That’s sweet of you to say, Papyrus, but I’m afraid that not a lot of people agree with that.” You laugh awkwardly.

 

“WELL, MAYBE YOU’LL FIND THE RIGHT PERSON ONE DAY!” Polaris chirps, sending you a bright smile. It does make you feel a bit better.

 

“Maybe.” You echo softly, before coughing in an attempt to gather your thoughts. Papyrus pats your back, and you find yourself genuinely coughing. Oh god, why are you such a mess?

 

“Uh Anyway! I just wander around a lot whenever I decide to go on hikes and stuff. I have a tendency to stumble upon these nice locations and keep them secret because people like ruining things.” You explain hurriedly. “But you guys seem trustworthy, so I think I can share these places with you.”

 

“Aww, that’s sweet of you,” Thrash says, her expression soft.

 

“WE WOULD LOVE TO ACCOMPANY YOU TO THE CAFE. WHAT DAY SHOULD YOU THINK WE SHOULD GO?” Papyrus asks, and you watch as he pulls out a phone in a flicker of blue energy as it materializes in his hand. “AFTER TODAY, WE ARE MOSTLY FREE FOR THE REST OF THE WEEK,”

 

“EXCEPT THIS SUNDAY BECAUSE WE HAVE A RALLY TO GO TO.” Polaris continues, and you notice how he also checks his phone.

 

“Maybe on Saturday?” You ask, pulling out your own phone. “Maybe we should exchange contact info? Also, since I rarely check text messages, have any of you guys heard of an app called Strife?”

 

“No, what is Strife?”

 

“Strife’s a really neat chatting app that has a desktop and a phone app, it’s predecessor was called Discord back in the 21st century.” You explain. "Discord still exists, but it’s mostly aiming for video games nowadays. Strife is more or less for casual conversation.”

 

“ADDED!” Polaris says after a moment, intensely looking down at his phone. You notice that the other’s are all doing the same thing, and after a moment they stare at your for you to continue.

 

“My username is Somnambulist#6969 you can search it up in the directory and it should show my icon which is an icon of a moon and stars.” You say, and you wait patiently.

 


 

 

ScarfedSkeleton has sent a friend request.

 

GuardoftheStars has sent a friend request.

 

LesbianFightingFish has sent a friend request.

 

FeistyLizardLesbian has sent a friend request.

 


 

 

“Got you all!” You chirp happily and accept them all one by one. “Love the usernames!”

 

“Yours is… interesting.” Thrash says after a moment, before snickering. “Your ID number really was #6969”

 

“Oh, yeah.” You laugh with a snort. “I did that as a joke but never changed the number back, if I ever need a pick me up, I look at my number and say ‘nice’.”

 

“Anyway, I’m also gonna create a server. Any name suggestions?” You hum. “Feel free to chime in?”

 

“Eh, I’ve got nothing,” Undyne says after a moment, and Thrash nods her head in agreement.

 

Polaris looks like he wants to say something, but he glances at Thrash after a moment before shutting his mouth with a click. “I HAVE NO CLUE?”

 

“Alright, Nerd-Cafe it is.” You say after a moment. “Okay, sending you all an invite link now!”

 

“We can hash out more details, in the meantime.” You look over at the course. “Howsabout you guys go and take on that training course huh?”

 

“AND YOU WILL- BEAT THE STUFFING OUT OF THOSE PUNCHING BAGS,” Papyrus says after a moment, and you grin widely.

 

“Maybe you guys can beat my time? I completed it in… uh, I think it was in 3 mins and 15 seconds?” You say in lieu of competition. “If you guys can beat my time, I’ll run it with you guys the next time you visit.”

 

“DEAL, I ALWAYS ENJOY A CHALLENGE.” Polaris chirps happily.

 


 

 

You breathed heavily, your heated breaths fogging into the icy air and is dragged away by the freezing winds. The weather had picked up shortly after you left the gym, snow falling from the sky in heavy flurries. By the time you managed to reach your house, your driveway had gotten absolutely blanketed in the pure white substance.

So much so that you couldn't even drive your car up it. The city did have people drive all the way out to your home and plow the snow off of the roads, but that means that you couldn’t park your car by the side lest you wanted your BMW to be snowed in. Which meant you actually had to get out of your car, stomp your way through the shin-high snow, and grab your snow shovel and the bags of salt out of your shed. It took a bit to get all of the snow pushed down the driveway, and then sprinkling the salt also took another additional 15 minutes.

You feel sweat dripping down your face, and you wipe it away with the back of your gloved hands with a grimace. Your arms are burning from exhaustion, the snow shovel is held tightly in your gloved hands. Each breath that you take turns into a misting cloud as you exhale and you observe your handiwork. You’ve managed to carve a big swath of snow away, and you suddenly wish that you had those magic chains like the ones that had been on your new friend's tires. Apparently, even the tires were enchanted with that heated magic, so they didn’t have to deal with the snow as it seemed to destabilize the snow so they could drive through it easily. You wondered if they could enchant concrete. Maybe then you wouldn’t have to deal with an assload of snow every time fall and winter rolled around.  Humming to yourself tiredly, you meandered your way back over to your shed. Placing the shovel in its spot and dragging the bag of salt, locking everything up neatly.

It didn’t take long until your vehicle was safe in the garage. You stepped out of the BMW and shut the door soundly behind you as it locked itself up. You took a glance at the clock, mentally calculating up the hours that you had spent up at the Gym. Seeing how you left early in the morning and had stayed past four.. you had spent seven hours there.

You had a feeling that your entire body would be sore, considering how that (read; Papyrus and Polaris) both had beat your time on the endurance course by a good thirty seconds. They had easily managed to shanghai you into running it with them not once, not twice, but five times. Needless to say, you were quite exhausted. Also, a bit hungry, all you had at the gym was a single protein bar. You’re too tired to even want to try and cook anything tonight, so canned soup will have to do.

Sitting at your desk, you browse through several of your sites. Replying to questions that some people asked, responding to people interested in your commissions, and rolling your eyes at the sight of that lady’s messages towards yours. You lift a spoonful of tomato bisque to your lips, and you merely comment back with vague and dispassionate responses.

Picking up your tablet pen, you simply turned your music to drown out the static and immersed yourself in the art in front of you.

You'd have this done within four hours, even if it killed you.

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

hunted

 


 

 

 

 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold represents a language other than english being spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.

 

 


 

A pot of hot water bubbles softly, rattling slightly as steam escapes from the gaps in the lid in plumes of translucent white. The fire roaring beneath the pot is tinted green for some reason, you have no clue why it’s colored like that. You’ve seen the fires back in the forge at the village become different colors when pieces of enchanted metal shavings were placed into the flame.

But you’ve only been putting wood into the fire, so it shouldn’t be turning into green.  Maybe there was something in the wood that caused the flames to become that color? You manage to tear your eyes off of the flame, just as the pot nearly starts to boil over. You carefully grab the handles with your hands wrapped in some of your cloth from your satchel. Placing it beside you on the stone floor of the fourth terrace. Opening up the lid, the scent of cooked potatoes, meat, and a wild assortment of wild herbs waft out of the pot.

You hum one of those nursery tunes that the Village Matriarch would often do with the children as you idly stirred the soup with a spoon that you had carved a few months back. Beside you, curled up on one of the soft grassy areas of the terrace where there are no vegetables, lays Sheka who dozes in the warm light of the sun. He blinks at you lazily with one eye for a moment, listening to the tune you hum and it’s slow-paced beat. After a moment of silence, you quickly restart the song, this time Sheka joins you with his own set of notes.

It’s nice, you’ve taken a few days to yourselves, mostly to get used to each other being in one’s space. Sheka’s singing, (kind of reminding you of birdsong) has gotten better to the point that he no longer makes these ear-piercing shrieks. You’ve also learned more about your calcium-and-stone composed friend.  While his max height is 75-feet, you’ve quickly found out that he can go from the size of a really large moose to the itty-bitty size of a bunny with gangly and long limbs.

Sheka had sent you such an offended look when you laughed at the size of his bunny sized form. But you couldn’t help it, with his too-large horns and long limbs, he looked so cute and awkward. You had merely given him some extra scratches a little bit below where the ear holes were, just to let him know that it wasn’t mocking. It was honestly one of the best things you’ve ever seen in your entire life.

That’s kind of sad now that you think of it.

You idly stir the mixture as the song continues, until it fades into a comfortable silence. At the scent of food, Sheka eagerly perks up and carefully get back up onto all fours, mindful of keeping the grass relatively neat. He ambles towards you, hooves clattering against the stone for a moment before he peers down curiously down to see the contents of the pot.

You take a few pieces of potato and veggies into the head of the spoon and awkwardly shove it into Sheka’s open maw. The deer let out a delighted rumbling sound, and you watch transfixed as white magic wisps out of his teeth as he digests it. You never see the food pass through the rest of his body, so you assume that it all dissolves in his mouth. You idly scribbled down the information into your journal.

You didn't write all that much back in the village. It wasn't something that a person like you was assigned to do. It was a job typically reserved for the elders to transcribe down information such as the stories from the more prevalent members of your family and village. Or books upon books full of counts, like how many deer had been killed, how much meat everyone could have, who was responsible for growing a certain crop. And so on and so forth.

Luckily for you, the Elder Mage, a woman with a fierce head of curly red hair and electric blue eyes bordering on white, had a soft spot for a young scout like you. It had always filled you with an intense sense of pride that someone of Lady Ophi’s caliber took you on as one of her apprentices. While you couldn’t learn magic like the other mages, you were smart and eager to learn how to read and write. The “math” part was a little confusing, but it became easier the longer you worked on things.

Your mother- it was always her, wasn't it? Always trying to crush your hopes, “You can't do this, being an artist will not help you, you should go for something more respectful like your father or me” your dreams- hadn’t approved of Lady Ophi taking you on. She hated the red-headed people from the Whirling Eddies.

They had killed your father, and they had killed your brother as well.

You suppose that this was part of the penance of your village and you honestly believed that everyone deserves the tragedy that befell them. Your clan was well known for their violence and warmongering. They’ve always prided themselves on being able to take over others through sheer brute force and cut-throat tactics. Raising up their strongest to be soldiers, while the weak are set to work with livestock and farming. You were an odd middle ground, strong but weak. A paradox in your home. You were too weak to fight but strong in the mind.

While others submitted, you continued forward, even when the others tried to beat you down over and over and over again.

You were filled with-

(determination, justice, patience, kindness, perseverance, integrity, hope--)

(--who are you?)

-something that burned in your chest spurning you forwards and filled your bones with fire.

Your clan has forcibly taken over a few of the nearby villages, inducting those who wished to live and killed off the ones who would become an eventual problem. The Whirling Eddies ended up drawing up a truce agreement, and at the time, you were not aware of how long the tentative truce would last. In a gesture of good faith, the Elder of the Eddies, the one who carried the name of “Tidemaster” had sent one of his most powerful mages into your sector of the village as a gesture of goodwill.

The mage had been Lady Ophi, she taught you how to read, how to write, how to tell if someone was lying, how to lie without being caught. Even if you didn’t have magic, it was enough to give you a leg up when it came to the others back home- but was it ever a home? Home had died with your father, died with your brother -and you had always been amused by how much they resented you for it.

You wonder how she’s doing. You wonder if the peace is still continuing, or has your village finally decided to stab the Eddies in the back?

You don’t know.

Sheka nuzzles his snout into your back with a worried whine, and you feel something hot dripping down your cheeks. Blinking in confusion, you raise your hands to your face and your fingers come away wet. You hadn't even noticed that you had been crying. You’re aware of it now. The blurriness of your vision, the uncomfortable feeling in your throat, and the ache in your chest. You blink furiously in an effort to clear your vision, and when that doesn’t work, you rub your eyes with the heels of your hands.

You don’t even know why you’re sad, it’s been years since the death of your brother and father. You had been done with grieving. Maybe it’s not sadness, maybe it’s relief that you’re free now. Free from the village that tried to crush your creativity, free of your mother, free from the fighting.

Because now you have something to protect. You had the free will to decide how this quest goes. You saved Sheka, and that meant that you could save the others. You didn’t need to be a killer like the ones back at that horrible, horrible place.

Turning out around on your seat, you close your journal and place it to the side as you face Sheka. He blinks down at you and stares deeply into your red-rimmed eyes. A confused chirp escapes his teeth, which quickly transforms into a shocked whistle halfway through.

You gently hold his face in your hands, pressing your forehead against his snout. A shaky smile crosses your lips as you feel tears stream down your face, and you shut your eyes. You can feel Sheka’s hot breath ghosting against your neck, and you listen as his breathing becomes softer, more gentle. Humming under your breath, you nuzzle your face into his snout before pulling away.

You promptly go back to check on the soup and is satisfied to see that the meat is tender, and the vegetables are cooked nicely. You remove it from the flames, placing it beside you into the stone of the terrace. You stare at the green fire momentarily transfixed by the swirling mix of greens and jade; before dumping some water over it to put out the blaze. You'd be really upset if the crops caught fire, it'd be a devastating blow to your food sources, as well as your peace of mind.

You hear a clatter of small hooves against the floor and a laugh bubbles out of your chest as Sheka, now the size of a small dog, sits eagerly by the pot of soup.

 

"Let's eat, shall we?” You say to your companion, and Sheka trills excitedly.

 

You eagerly spoon out the delicious smelling broth into two bowls, one for Sheka and one for you. The deer eagerly shoves his snout into the bowl, some of the soup spilling out of the sides in his eagerness and onto the floor. Appreciative noises rumble from his throat and you snicker as you blow some air into your own meal.

A soft hum escapes your mouth, and you take a tentative sip of your creation. It’s exactly like how your father made it. For a moment you expect the feeling of grief-sadness-pain to well up in your chest at the thought of your Dad, but it never comes. Rather the familiar taste fills your chest with heat that warms your bones. For a moment you swear that you can feel your Dad’s arm wrapped around your shoulder like he had done when you were little.

Lunch has never tasted so good until now.

 


 

Riding on Sheka has always been a bit… odd to say the least and always took some time to get used to. It was so strange to be on the back of a creature so intelligent and brilliant. Sheka was leagues ahead compared to any horse that you've traveled on before.

But Sheka was no ordinary beast, no, he was something much better. He had personality, he could listen to your commands but would disobey you when he knew that your command was either dumb or counter-productive. But he would also comfort you when he noticed that you were upset, as the village outcast, you were unused to this form of treatment. Unused to unconditional kindness and comfort. Lady Ophi had been like that too, to just wish that you could have asked her to accompany you to the Forgotten Wilds.

But the Eddies were her home, and you would never try to tear anyone away from the place they belonged to.

No one would miss you, but you hoped that maybe, just maybe, Ophi missed you too.

Sheka, ever so observant seems to realize that you're down distracted in some sort of manner because his rigorous gallop has reduced itself to a mere trot. He turns his head to look at you, those pretty eyes looking into your own. You merely smile at him, a tinge of wistfulness in your gaze as you pat his flank encouragingly.

 

“I think…” You say after a moment, your voice low. “That it’s time that we rescue your brother? Wouldn’t you agree with me Sheka?”

 

Sheka’s eye-lights briefly widen before sharpening to tiny points as he nods his head eagerly. You turn your head the the horizon, the light from your chest beamng forward, pointing you toward your next goal. The brother, the Turtle.

 

Kah-Mae.

 


 

When you wake again, you find yourself once again in your garden. Your chest aches in an unfamiliar sort of way, however, the taste of iron in the back of your throat is becoming more and more familiar as the dreams continue one. You also have no clue why your lungs seem to hurt every time this happens. The air isn't even all that cold anymore.

Considering how often you've found yourself waking up in the garden, lately, you've been going to bed with a few layers of clothing on. Just in case if you find yourself in the snow again. It looks like you made the smart decision because you're ankle-deep in snow and your toes are kind of cold. But you are not in danger of frostbite this time.

You're about to head back inside when you hear the sound of a distant scream. It pierces through the silent night air before trailing out into a whimper. It sounds eerily familiar, but you cannot seem to figure out why it fills you to the brim with worry.

The loud, pained whimpering abruptly shifts into an agonized keen and- oh

Sheka made that noise when you got hurt.

You scrambled to the garage in order to get some shoes on, heart thumping madly in your chest. The sound is coming from within the forest. Once you change your snow-soaked socks and lace up your boots, your feet seem to barely touch the ground as you leave the safety of your fenced-in backyard and into the snow and forest behind your house.

The moon is bright enough that it illuminates everything in a sheet of silver. Turning the colors of the landscape into shades of grey and black. The wind groans through the tops of the trees, and the ambient sounds of animals are silenced but the cries of whoever is making the awful sound. It sounds like they are in pain, the cries sounding like a mix of whimpers and sobbing.

Your heart- maybe even your soul -is crying out to the one in pain desperate the help.

Once again you are thankful for the moonlight; if there was no moon, you’d be trapped in this cold metallic hell. Because deeper into the forest you go, farther and farther away from your house, that you start to notice the traps

They're awful things, made out of metal and razor-sharp wire. However, it’s the bear traps that are probably the worst of the bunch. The wire traps, while requiring some grace to climb over them, are easy to spot. Same thing with the snares, that when stepped in would hang any creature, human or otherwise by their ankles. In the case of the bear traps, however, with their long, jagged teeth, they are harder to spot as they tend to be covered by more snow.

Your breath mists out in clouds of silver smoke that fades into nothing as you slowly inhale and exhale. Something about the forest feels dangerous at night, even more so with the looming danger of the traps set throughout your forest. The thought that some human was setting up traps in your land, was infuriating. Sure, even if you didn’t have a fence around the entire expanse of your land. people still had to obey the signs that you had placed around the perimeter.  

You had thought that it wouldn’t have needed any fence, how part of it was from Ebott forest itself, and if you climbed over the government-mandated fence, you’d be near the mountain. And no one was willing to go near the mountain out of fear of monsters. Though you suppose that it’s natural- or maybe it’s unnatural - defense is gone with the ‘monsters’ being peaceful.

But still, some other human is encroaching on your territory, and you are not amused.

You barely manage to hop over one of the traps, it snaps closed a second too late to catch you, destabilized by the snow that it had been buried under. The springy sapling that it’s attached to lunges upright, whistling as it passes your left ear. You don’t flinch, rather, you merely glance over your shoulder and frown.

It’s almost as if whoever’s been putting their traps up has no clue what they’re doing. If they were trying to hunt small critters like squirrels or rabbits, they’d place the traps on the little game trials or around water.

These traps had no sense of order, scattered around all over the place, almost as if they were…

Trying to keep someone out of the forest.

Or maybe keeping whatever was in there from getting out.

Either way, it didn’t bode well. Hopefully, by the time spring rolled around and all of the snow melted; that maybe you could just go around and disable all of the traps. Actually, you might as well gather everything up. Maybe you could try to find out who the manufacturers of the bear traps were, and maybe you could track the human that had spread these deadly things all over your turf.

You continue to carefully pick your way through your death-trap riddled forest, using the light of the moon to guide you and your ears to try and find the source of pained cries in the distance. You seem to be headed in the right direction, for the weeping calls become louder and louder, no longer faded and distant.

Your boots continue to crunch the fresh snow beneath, practically carving your own trail through the untouched (though could it be considered untouched with all of these traps strewn everywhere?) wilderness. With a low grunt, you hop over a snow-covered bush, the foliage making an odd crushing-rustling sound. The crying abruptly stops, and you look around confused. It appears that you’ve managed to find a wide-open clearing, it’s not a perfect circle of trees, nothing in nature is ‘perfect’; instead, it’s more like an oblong circle with one of the curves sort of… smushed in? Kind of like a hoof print from a cow or maybe a horse.

Does it really matter? The clearing is not circular. Why do you always need to make things more complicated?

The moonlight beams down from the sky, the clearing illuminated in silver and white, the snow covering everything like a sheet. All of the evergreens still have their needles, the powder suffocating them beneath an inch of cold. The deciduous trees are all skeletons of their former selves, their branches spiking out, like thousands of bony fingers to the heavens above. They cast ragged shadows across the white space.

You spot something in the far corner of the clearing, partially hidden by a snow-covered bush.

It takes a moment for your eyes to adjust to the influx of light from the moon, no longer partially obscured by the pulled cotton clouds of the sky. Something seems to shine in the distance, and as you tilt your head to the side, you realize that those two glowing things are eyes.

For a moment you think that they’re reflecting the white light of the moon, only the thing is facing away from the moon, which means that its eyes are either glowing, or there’s another light source that your human eyes cannot see. Whatever it is, it’s obviously terrified.


“Hey there,” You say softly, your voice carrying across the silent glade. It’s almost as if the world is holding its breath, for even the wind in the trees is gone. “You doin’ alright? Nevermind, that’s a dumb question.”

 

The lights blink at you, and a low whine makes its way across the clearing. The sound is eerie in a way that you’ve never heard before, it’s enough to send a slight chill racing up your spine.

 

“Oh-kay,” You take a calming breath and steel your nerves, you continue to talk to the creature softly. “I’m going to approach you now, coming in from the left side. If that’s alright with you?”

 

The low whine abruptly stops, and you watch as the lights tilt to the right side slightly, as if it’s observing you. A moment passes, and you watch as the lights dip down, almost like a nod of ‘yes’ so the thing is not a thing, nor it. They then? Taking that a sign to continue, you carefully make your way through the almost shin-high snow. You drag your feet alongside the bottom of the slush; almost as if you were at the beach, scuffing your feet against the seafloor as to avoid stepping on a ray or a sea urchin. You’re not sure if there are any traps, but it doesn’t hurt to check.

The closer you approach the person, the more details that you can make out. They’re worryingly thin, with a torn black bodysuit exposing too-pale skin beneath. There’s an odd shine to it though, like a dull nacre from an oyster shell. A tattered red scarf is wrapped around their throat, draped over their body like a worn blanket, maybe even a cape. The lower half of their body is concealed by the bush, but it appears that they’ve collapsed in some sort of fashion.

You then realize that the person isn’t human, rather they’re a very familiar skeleton.

 [You miss the sounds of someone walking in the distance, a wet twig snapping under the heavy-weight of someone's foot. You miss the sight of a single, bloody red eye glittering in the darkness, madness swirling within the crimson depths.]

 

“Papyrus? What are you doing out here?” You ask, voice heavy with confusion. The tall skeletal monster startles at the name, reddish colored eye-lights peering up at you from where he lays collapsed on the floor. There’s something off about him, and it’s then that you notice that his eye-sockets are smaller than normal.

 

And oh god his teeth. You’re no dentist, but you’re pretty damn sure that teeth aren’t supposed to be misshapen like that. His canine teeth are almost too long for his jaw, jutting outwards slightly, reminding you of teeth from a saber-cat. The incisors are a crooked, jagged, unsightly mess like he’s broken them multiple times and they’ve regrown back wrong. Even all of his molars are too jagged.

You wonder how he even manages to close his mouth. Papyrus looks up at you, his eye-lights tiny little dots of orange, and his mouth parts into a grimace.

Shit, this is an even bigger deal than before.

A quick glance at his phalanges shows that they’re much longer, and you can see white bone piercing through the fabric of his gloves. Even his cervical vertebra on his neck have sharp points, looking almost like spines jutting out from them. In fact, these spines poke through his clothes, down his entire back. You’d assume that they’re a good 2-3 inches in size, but you can’t tell just by looking.

You finally manage to scuff your way through the snow, and just as you’re about to near him, you feel you foot tap something metal. You can feel the blood drain from your face and you take a steadying breath, as you look around you spot a discarded branch sticking out of the snow. You shuffle away from the metal thing that you’ve just kicked and return with the branch. The wood is damp, and you can feel the cold slip through the fabric of your gloves as it gets wet.

The trap snaps around the branch with an ear-splitting snap! You jump back away from it, startled, and Papyrus also jolts at the sound. It appears that the motion caused something to go wrong because the skeleton’s soft gasp of surprise morphs into an agonized sob. Grimacing, you reach down, pick up the bear trap and look at it with a frown. Looks like it has a decent bite force on it. You scan the sides and notice that it has a serial number on it.

 

“7265736574 dash charlie echo foxtrot.” You mutter to yourself a few times. You mentally box up the number and place it with a bunch of other important memories in your skull. Glaring down at the offending trap, you also spot some sort of insignia etched into the side. Most likely the company. It’s an image of a snarling wolf on a diamond shape, backed by a shield.

 

You think you recognize it, Howling-Wolf Coalition. You also add that to the important memories box. 7265736574-CEF, Howling-Wolf Coalition.

You send the bear trap one last glance before chucking the damn thing away from you and into the snow. It falls through the clean white with an audible slushy-crunch, leaving a near-perfect imprint of the damn thing. Papyrus (not papyrus?) glances warily at the discarded trap like it’s going to bite him. You purse your lips, before carefully inching towards the new skeleton. He trembles visibly, bracing himself up on his elbows in a parody of a modified push-up. A loud rattling sound fills the clearing, almost musical in tune. His eyes are still too wide, terrified like he thinks that you’re going to hurt him.

 

“What’re you doing so far out here, my friend?” You ask, finally stopping a foot away from him, before crouching down onto your knees. The snow is cold like always, and your teeth chatter slightly as the iciness races through your limbs.

 

Not-Papyrus cocks his head to the side, and you can see faint tear tracks staining the pale-white of his bones a dull, rusty, orange. The rattling sound grinds to a halt as the last part of your sentence finally registers. “FR...IEND?”

 

“Yeah, we met earlier today at the gym? You uh,,, beat my runtime by thirty seconds, that was pretty impressive.” You state to no one in particular. His voice sounds weak, strained with an underlying tone of agony. It pulls at your heart, and your soul practically whimpers.

 

“WAS… I?” He slurs, and with a low moan he sags, his arms buckling underneath him as he falls into a clatter. A sob rips from his teeth, and his ribcage moves in an awkward pattern as he breathes in and out with shaking breaths. You have no clue why a skeleton needs to breathe when in doubt, say that it’s magic. “I… HURT. I AM HURT. I DO NOT WANT… TO BE HURTING.”

 

“I know, I know.” You say soothingly, your voice soft. “I’m gonna get you outta here okay? I promise.”

 

“PRO...PROMISE?” Not-Papyrus asks, burnt orange eye-lights looking up at you. He searches your face frantically, trying to figure out if you’re lying to him. “YOU CAN… MAKE…. THE HURT STOP?”

 

“I live pretty close by here, it may take a little bit for me to get back though,” You respond, and you try to send him a comforting smile. “I did leave a trail behind, and I managed to get around the traps.”

 

“THAT’S GOOD.” Not-Papyrus’ eye-sockets shutter with an audible click, and you spot orange tears gather in his socket, before dripping down the sides of his mandibles. “THAT’S… REALLY GOOD.”

 

You carefully get back up, and you continue to shuffle your feet through the snow. Luckily there’s not a single trap in your way, so you manage to quickly get behind the collapsed monster, and the sight that greets you is… grisly. A low noise builds up in your throat as your face turns ashen, and Not-Papyrus lifts his head up and looks at you in fuzzed confusion.

He’s managed to get himself caught in a bear-trap. The bone of his ankle is screwed up and you can feel bile burning in the back of your throat. The jaws have crushed the bone of his fibula, and bright orange marrow has spilled over the snow. The entire ankle is contorted at an odd angle, twisted from his apparent fall, and you can see how most of the bone has splintered apart.

There’s dust, a stark dull gray against the blank white of the snow.

 

“Oh shit, I’m so sorry Paps.” You breathe out, your hands are trembling and your breathing is slightly shaky. You grit your teeth, mentally reaching into the depths of your body and you grip onto a flare of orange light that spreads fire through your being. “I need to get it off, it’s going to hurt. I’m sorry.”

 

Not-Papyrus’ breath hitches, and he shakily exhales. “DO… IT.”

 

You mumble out a word of assent, the bravery still flickering in your chest as you crouch. You clench your fists and take a steadying breath. Grimacing, you reach over and search for the springs holding the jaws shut with your bare hands, trying to ignore the feeling of gritty dust against your fingers. The skeleton groans and you watch as he squirms slightly as the injury is disturbed. Taking a few more deep breaths, you straddle the limb between your legs, holding him in place in case if he tries to thrash around.

The metal makes a horrifying shrieking sound as you press down the springs, and you watch as the jaw releases, the teeth coated in a thin layer of glowing blood-orange marrow. continue to take those steadying breaths even as Not-Pap- you know what forget it, Papyrus thrashes beneath you with a horrific squealing-scream.

 

“Sorry, sorry, sorry, I almost got it, just a few more seconds!”

 

Distantly you can hear him clawing at the ground, harrowing cries filling the air. With a snarl you finally manage to open the trap enough Papyrus jerks his leg up and out of the trap. You toss the trap away and it shuts with a snap! You’re quick to roll off the skeleton’s leg and you watch as he curls up with a dull whimper.

 

“Okay, let’s get you outta here.” You say, voice trembling.

 

You quickly go to his side, even though he’s way taller than you are, you do your best to hold him in your arms bridal style. The skeleton struggles for a moment. “Papyrus, I need you to hug your arms around my neck okay?”

 

Papyrus is quick to obey, and you grunt as he grips a little too tight. Much like Polaris, this Papyrus is very light for someone of his size and stature. (He's obnoxiously tall, but Papyrus is definitely taller than seven feet.) You’re guessing that he’s around forty to fifty pounds, and something about that bothers you. He should weigh more for his size, he’s too light. You begin the careful trek back home, taking extra care not to jostle the poor monster’s injuries. Following the trails that you’ve left behind, you finally seem to realize the sheer silence of the forest now. The wind is no longer hissing through the trees, and whatever winter nocturnal creatures like owls are not making any sounds.

The spindly shadows of the trees make the scenery all the more eerie like the forest has now become a cage.

[For a second you swear that you hear an extra pair of footsteps. You pause for just a second, looking around for a moment before continuing forwards. You dismiss it as your mind playing tricks on you due to your anxiety.]

[You miss how a second later, a large figure raises an axe over your head. You miss how Papyrus looks at the other and shakes his head, causing the other with the vivid red eye-light back off.]

The return trip seems to be so much longer than the one coming into this death trap of a forest. With your arms full of an injured and possibly traumatized skeleton, you are very, very, very careful to avoid every single trap.

You even have to make detours at one point, because the moonlight illuminated one particularly rough spot that you had ducked and weaved through; had been full of wire traps, spread out like some demented spider web of steel. What sadistic fuck put all of these up? And how the hell did you not even notice? You should’ve been able to hear the vehicles. There was only one main road to get to your house, and there were no busy freeways nearby.

Ah, hell.

This means that people parked far away and then walked in order to trespass on your territory. Making a move to keep the monsters out of your land. Fury wells up in your chest, and you have to bite your tongue to distract you from the sudden rage. You had no time to be angry, worry first about your injured skele-friend. You can get furious on his behalf later.

You almost start crying at the sight of the forest ending, and your house in the distance. It practically looks like heaven compared to all of the bullshit you’ve seen in your now demented forest. Glowing almost in the glimmering silver of the moon, it’s the prettiest thing that you own now. Once the forest ends, a good fifteen or so feet is nothing but smooth grassland. Of course, it’s all covered in snow, but you know that it’s safe.

 

You stare at the latch gate awkwardly. You can’t put him down to open it up, there’s no way in hell that you’re placing him back onto the floor. “I- I can’t grab the latch.”

 

“i got it.”

 

OHSHITFUCK-DEFCON ONE! You manage to choke back your squawk of surprise, voice cracking. You feel like a dish-towel that’s been rung out over and over. This night is exhausting. Another skeleton has just popped out of mc-fucking-nowhere.

...Wait, did he just teleport? That’s fucking sweet.

The scent of- oddly enough- rotting cherries fills the air as a dull red magic dissipates in the cold wind that has finally decided to make a re-appearance. The new monster, also a skeleton that looks eerily enough like both Carmine and Polaris for some fucking reason that’s really confusing you. There’s something that you’re missing.

What is this, a clash of the multiverses?

Oh shit, maybe it is. That’d explain so much.

This new arrival is much bigger than both Carmine, Polaris, and Papyrus. Though you’re pretty sure that this… skeletal version is proportional to his brother, the injured-Papyrus. Meaning that the two of them are tall as all hell. You reckon that he’s a good two to three feet taller than you are. Though you’re not sure because one, you’re stressed out of your damn mind, and two, you’re hella tired.

A chill races up your spine when you notice that there’s a gaping hole in the back of the poor guy's skull. Jagged at the edges, and from the angle, it looks like it went- straight out the other socket on the right side. He turns his head towards you, and your suspicions are unfortunately correct. All of the others had two functioning eye-lights, this one does not. The remaining eye-light in the big-boi’s left is an engorged, bloody red. Oh god, you think that you can fix Papyrus’ leg, but the other’s injury is so old that there’s probably nothing that you can do.

The new skeleton reaches up and grabs at the latch on the other side. With a metallic squeal, you really need to oil that thing, he manages to get it to unlock. The gate swings open, and he cocks his head to the side staring at you unblinkingly with his one red eye.

 

“Thank you.” You blurt out, before smiling at him weakly and averting your gaze. “Uh, I’ll just go in.”

 

Carefully you manage to get through the gate, careful not to knock Papyrus’ too long limbs against anything. Papyrus, despite being in pain, looks around your snow-covered house, eye-light looking at the garden. You sweat that you see a painful hunger in his eyes.

Hungry, little to no weight for his- no, their, you’re assuming-size, brittle, too pale bones.  

Oh no, these two have been starving.

You hear the other follow behind, and you suddenly realize that you recognize the sound of his footsteps. He had been following you. Had gotten close to. If he could teleport soundlessly like that, then no wonder why he could’ve snuck up behind you.

...You’re never doubting your paranoia ever again. Paranoia saves lives.

Once again you find yourself at an impasse. You had shut the door to your garage, the very same one that led into your house and had locked it in your haste to find the source of the pained cries in the distance. You blame your autopilot.

 

You send the other skeleton a pleading look. “There’s- a key in my pocket. Left side.”

 

His hand is massive, and he barely manages to dig through the pockets of your shorts. Suddenly you’re thankful that your key has a rubber band so that he can get it around his wickedly clawed phalanges; you thought Carmine’s were sharp. Nope, Carmine’s claws are nothing compared to this guys. They made Carmine look like a damn kitten in comparison.

He fumbles with the lock for a moment, struggling to fit the key into the slot. You would’ve found it cute seeing such a big guy struggling with something so simple but- uh- considering the hole in his head and his height it was just sad. He looks like he’s a good three seconds from ripping the door off your hinges.

 

“Key’s upside down.” You supply helpfully. The skeleton looks at you for a moment, before flipping up the key and the lock opens with a click. He gently nudges the door open before making room for the two of you.

 

“Uh, actually there’s one more door. Could you hold that open for me?” You ask, and he merely grunts. Walking ahead of you, you awkwardly avert your eyes from the back of his damaged skull. The light from the moon makes the cracks stand out like dark spindly shadows. You awkwardly have to maneuver past your parked car and the washer dryer set. Maybe you should clear out the garage and get more space.

 

The light from both of their eye-lights is enough to faintly illuminated the expanse. Papyrus stares longingly at your vehicle. You highly doubt that he’ll be able to even fit in your BMW . His knees would be up to his chest, or maybe he'd be totally curled up with his knees up to his face. Actually, both of their knees would be up past their chests

Huh. Damn, you were tiny.

Stepping into the safety of your home was a relief, the heater was currently going on filling the air with its delightful warmth. You make a beeline for your living room, there's a couch in there with a central divider that can be folded up to create a three-seater. Your legs are starting to tremble from exertion and you do not wait to drop your injured skeleton. Luckily for you, the big guy knows what to do. His lumbering form grips the bulk of the center divider and pushes it up.

You gently place Papyrus onto the couch and a soft whine escapes his teeth, he looks up at you blearily and you smile down at him weakly. You gently reach out and stroke the side of his face, your thumb gently feeling one of his sharp canines. Papyrus’ eye-lights flicker for a moment, and he nuzzles his face into your hand slightly. Your heart clenches painfully.

 

“I’m going to get some blankets.” You say abruptly as you stand up, you turn your head and look into the single red eye of the Polaris-look-alike. “I think I also have some stuff for splints and some medical cream in the medicine cabinet. Please keep him comfortable while I go get it all.”

 

You cut through the studio that still faintly smells like paint to reach the cabinet in the hallway that leads to the other bedrooms. Your clock is still on the floor, so you merely pick it up and toss it on the bed. Medical bullshit first, clock timey-wimey shit can be dealt with later. You crouch down and pull out one of the nicer blankets, the one with the soft grey lining on one side and a soft velvety layer on the other side. The second one you grab is rattier, and you use that to keep his ankle on while you try and reset the bone.

 

You place them beside you on the carpeted floor, before standing up to root through the medicine cabinet. You manage to grab the tube of medicinal herbs, maybe it’ll work on Papyrus? You take a moment to actually read the label.

 

“Grade A - Medicinal herb cream, made by Doctor Morpha.” You mutter, scanning through the list. “All natural, infused with green magic, 60 percent for a faster, more speedy heal. Prolonged exposure heals more.”

 

It might work, and it definitely would help the injury heal. You may need to test it first and the idea that pops into your skull makes you feel a little ill. It healed the cuts really fast, but those had been mostly surface level. Would it even heal this much? Maybe going into the monster district soon so you can find better medicine, or better yet, a monster doctor.

You also grab a roll of bandages, the pair of scissors and a splinting set. As an afterthought, you grab the hydrogen peroxide and some cotton balls. You’re not sure if skeletons can get infections, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. You gently close the cabinet and the door still manages to slam somewhat. God, you hate that thing. Placing everything on the blankets, you gather it all into your arms and quickly head back through the way you came.

Papyrus honestly looks close to passing out, not that you can blame him. You’d probably be napping too if your ankle was barely hanging on. The other skeleton is holding Papyrus’ hand, and he snaps his head up to look at you.

(It almost reminds you of you and your brother. He had passed out one day at school due to the intense heat, and you had waited in the room with him until your parents had gotten to the nurse’s office.)

There’s a dull sort of wariness in his eyes, and judging by how his posture tenses he really doesn’t trust you. It’s understandable and you don’t feel upset, he has every right to feel suspicious.

 

“Hey big guy, could you help me get all of this stuff set up on the coffee table.” You smile at him weakly and you helplessly gesture with your arms full of soft fluff and medical equipment. “My hands are, uh, full.”

 

He glances down at his brother, wary expression softening at the sight of his brother and the flushed orange on his cheeks. He stands up slowly, taking all of the medical stuff and placing everything neatly on the table. He hesitates slightly with the scissors, eyeing you again with some suspicion before placing it down alongside the bandages. He also pauses at the sight of the medicinal cream and you have to ask-

 

“Will that work?” You ask, nodding at the large tube of medicine. “On the break, It is fine for cuts but-”

 

“it’s grade a.” He mutters, voice deep and rumbling in his chest. His red eye scans the label, and it looks like he’s having a difficult time reading the small print. “green 65 percent is… decent will need to be applied several times.”

 

“Okay, that means it’ll work for now.” You breath out a sigh of relief “I’m waiting on my new ID card to come in which will be sometime tomorrow, so I can possibly look for something with a higher concentration.”

 

You place the older blanket on the upper part of the couch. Carefully you unfurl the soft blanket and carefully drape it over Papyrus. The skeleton startles at the sensation, eye-sockets open. He stares blankly at the dark purple comforter, uncomprehending. He gently feels the blanket, his clawed phalanges carding through the fabric. He pulls it up to his face, and he looks up at you with wide eyes.

 

“I CAN… USE THIS?” He asks tentatively.

 

“Of course, I’m not sure if magical skeletons get cold, but I thought it might help you out a bit Paps.” You respond and smile down at him. He gently rubs his face into the soft velvet, delighted in the fuzzy texture. “I need to work on your ankle, uh, I could turn on the TV or something and maybe it can distract you?”

 

“WILL IT BE TOO BRIGHT?” Papyrus asks, and he glances over at his brother. “SANS CAN’T.... LOOK AT BRIGHT THINGS FOR... TOO LONG, HE GETS... HEADACHES.”

 

“i’m pretty sure that i can manage, bro.” The other skeleton, now dubbed Sans, grins softly at his brother. His teeth aren’t as bad as his brothers, almost all of his incisor teeth touch and the upper canines hook over his lower set. It’s a cute smile, and you have to shake that thought out of your head.

 

You grab the remote off of the coffee table. You don’t think that they’ll want to watch human dramas, so you switch it to the internet set of things. “Anything you guys uh, want to see? Music, Gaming, Cooking-”

 

“no cooking,” Sans says, voice strained, and you see his smile turn to a glower. Ah, right, starvation. Damn.

 

“...Arts and crafts it is.” You say, and you quickly find one of your favorite artists using acrylic to make 3d paintings. Calm music pours from the surround sound speakers and the two of them swivel their heads around to look at the source of the noise.

 

Seeing that Sans is sitting near his brother, you grab the worn-out blanket and carefully do your best not to jostle the break too much. Papyrus grunts in pain, but watches transfixed as the lady on-screen paints a turtle.

 

You take a deep breath and steady your nerves. You’ve got work to do.





Chapter Text

sleepwalker

fixer

 


 

 

 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold represents a language other than English being spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.

 


 

 

Papyrus is almost passed out by the time you’re done. The tallest skeleton has his brother’s hand in a death grip, and his orange-red eye-light flicker at you exhaustively in a crude facsimile of a blink. The Papyrus at the gym had the ability to close his eye-sockets, but it seemed that this one couldn’t do that. Adverting your eyes from his own; You instead focus on the task in front of yourself as you carefully use the scissors to cut the bandages and place the roll back onto the coffee table.

With a barely audible humming sound, you idly check over the gauze. Idly smoothing out some of the places where you had accidentally overlapped in awkward ways, making double sure that nothing was putting too much pressure onto the injury.

There’s a faint glowing green seeping through the bandages from where you had carefully squeezed the ointment into the break on Papyrus’ ankle. It’s wrapped up firmly, splint in place keeping everything on the straight and narrow. A feeling of relief curls pleasantly in your stomach, though you wish that you could enjoy it without feeling guilty.

In a way, this was your fault, you had been inattentive. This was your property, it was your job to make sure that no one was trespassing through your land. You failed.

Utterly.

This shouldn’t have even happened. Neither of these two was supposed to get injured. And you hope to everything, even if it’s a little selfish, that Sans didn’t get hurt on one of those traps too. If he did, it meant that the two of them had essentially been in your backyard for months now, both malnourished and the other with a horrific head injury.

Was it your fault that they were starving too?

The most that grew out there were mushrooms. All of the fruit-bearing trees have had their produce devoured by hungry birds, so there was nothing left to forage. Berries were out of season and only grew in the inner areas of Ebbot. Such as the temperature-controlled greenhouses that were set up in places to combat hunger on the streets. Most game critters have either left for warmer places or have gone into hiding to escape the cold. The ones that were still awake, like the rabbits and deer, were most likely too fast for either of the emaciated monsters to catch. 

Maybe if the traps were theirs, then maybe they would have gotten something to eat. But it was unlikely that all of those traps belonged to the skeletons. Most hunters would remember where they placed their traps, especially if it was to prevent hunger.

‘Then again, they’ve been starving, it is possible for impaired judgment and memory to cause Papyrus to step in his own trap’. A voice whispers, sounding almost like your mother, in the back of your mind. ‘ We need to consider everything (Y/N), you can’t make a case without finding all of the facts.’

These were not for hunting. All of them would’ve killed the prey in a manner that would’ve dirtied the meat puncturing through the soft organs. The bear-traps for example.  The most that a bear trap was supposed to do was capture, not maim. That defeated the whole purpose of it being a trap. These ones were obviously meant to do serious damage, to kill even if the wound had gotten infected.

(A faraway part of you screeches and howls in rage, how dare they. How dare they do this to-)

It takes a bit to haul yourself up and out from the depths of your thoughts. The process is almost akin to slogging through a foot of thick and sticky mud. You find yourself staring down blankly at your hands from where they rest against your lap.

Your fingers are stained with a very faintly glowing orange and green. You had to take off your gloves in order to do the procedure.

The orange is from the marrow that had leaked out of the bone when you hard carefully rotated that ankle back into place; green from the magic in the ointment. The roll of bandages had been unused until now; you didn’t get injured all that often even despite the sleepwalking, and now you’ve practically gone through half of it. The same thing with the salve. While the tube wasn’t all that big in the first place, it now only had about 1/4th of its original contents left. You had to slather it all in the fractured bone of Papyrus’s leg until it looked like you had put a ton of glue on a kid’s craft project in order to get the pieces back into place.

You need to get more.

You have a feeling that what you have just isn’t enough.

A few videos have passed by now, it did help to have some background noise to ground you throughout the whole procedure. Papyrus had let out the most agonized sounding cry that you’ve heard all night when you had reset the ankle back into place. You’re pretty sure that keening-sobbing wail will haunt your dreams for days to come. You were glad that your hands hadn’t been shaking even though you were high strung. Of course, now that the most difficult part was over, now you could feel the tremors just begging to be released, itching under your skin.

You’re aware that your breath is shaky as you begin your breathing exercises to relax your fast-beating heart. You wonder if the skeletons’ can hear it’s hummingbird-like speed because you can hear it loudly in your own ears. You clench and unclench your hands, before tapping your fingers against your thigh in an attempt to ground yourself.

It’s not working.

You need to do something else.

The guilt is practically eating you up inside.

 

“I need to go do something, I’m pretty sure you guys can keep each other company?” You say abruptly, the words spilling out of your mouth like water. You don’t even bother to hear their responses as you quickly hightail it out of the living room an into the kitchen.

 

With them out of sight, you rush over to the sink and turn on the hot water. You shove your hands in immediately, even though it’s freezing cold. You don’t know how long you stand there. But when you finally take your hands out of the running water that’s now very hot, your skin is tinted pink and the towel feels too rough and scratchy.

You had scrubbed yourself slightly raw in your stressed-out state. Oh well, you can manage.

The anxiety is abated somewhat, and you can finally get your scrambled thoughts in working order. You glance over to the microwave and sigh after a moment before rubbing at your eyes with the heel of your hands. You take this time to take a few calming more breaths, in through the nose for four, out of the mouth for eight. Repeat as needed.

It’s already 3 in the morning.

You’re so glad that you got that you had the foresight to get that commission done. Because after this is all over, you’re gonna pass out. You’re gonna sleep sooooo hard, dreams be damned.

You straighten back up, squaring your shoulders before going over to your pantry. You open up the oaken door and reach over at the revolving shelf and take a moment to look through your inventory of canned food and the hoard of instant noodles. You need to make them something light. You don’t know if starvation effects monsters like it does to humans, but you need to play it safe. It’s not hard to locate the soup broth that you had purchased earlier in the year in case the flu season decided to screw you over.

A quick glance at the label tells you that it’s chicken. Humming to yourself, you also look around for anything else liquidy that they could consume. You’re in luck because you’ve still got some tomato bisque. So if they can manage to eat the chicken broth, then you can give them that as well. Because you know that it has decently sized tomato chunks that are still soft enough that it probably won’t be too difficult for the duo to chew on.

You get out two of your largest bowls, the ones that can fit an entire can and a half of liquid food in them because those plastic kiddie bowls would fit in the palm of their hands. It wouldn’t be enough sustenance either.

Thinking back on it, as you dump a generous amount of broth in both of the bowls before covering them with a thin layer of plastic wrap. You bet that you had looked ridiculous when you had carried Papyrus through the forest. If you had been a few inches shorter, his legs would’ve been brushing over the tops of the snowdrifts. Though luckily enough you were tall enough and your boots did give you a few inches. So it was highly unlikely that he would’ve gotten hurt more if you misstep.

You idly the stir one of the soups with a metal spoon, before taking a moment to you place the second bowl in the microwave. You can distantly hear Papyrus talking about how pretty the person’s painting of fish was, Sans seemed to respond occasionally but wasn’t as loud as his brother in any way shape or form.

You just hope that the damage to his skull hadn’t done too much to his psyche. Your friend Kass back before you moved to Ebbot had gone through a traumatic experience when a building had fallen down on her. She was never quite the same after that. The rubble had severely damaged parts of her brain that controlled movement and speech. Even though she was now wheelchair-bound, and a had a really harsh stutter, you still did your best to keep in contact and talk to her nowadays. You were friends after all.

Friends were important, sacred.

You would never abandon a friend in need.

Maybe you can ask her what you could do to help Sans with his possible mental problems, you want to make sure that everything turns out okay for these two.

[The guilt is eating you up from the inside.]

The soup seems to be hot enough as you remove the second bowl from the microwave. You carefully dip the tip of your index finger just to gauge it. It’s not hot enough to burn, but it’s not lukewarm either. Perfect.

You did have a job as a waitress for a couple of years before moving to Ebott. So carrying them over to the living room is as easy as breathing. You don’t spill a single drop, nor do you slosh it around in the bowl like some sort of heathen. Both of them snap their heads over to you, eyeing the bowls hungrily. Something in Papyrus’ eye-lights looks primal, but after a moment it dims down.

 

“IS THAT… SOUP?” Papyrus asks after a moment, watching you set them down onto the table with all the medicinal stuff on it. He looks very eager at the prospect of something to eat. A quick glance at Sans shows you that the large skeletal monster is drooling slightly, the engorged red eye-light wide and hungry as he seems to catch a whiff of it. “DID YOU MAKE THAT FOR US?"

 

“It’s not quite a soup.” You admit as you hand the bowl over to Sans. The skeleton looks down eagerly at the contents and falters.

 

“where're the noodles… or… the meat…?” He sounds absolutely confused, even a bit angry. His eye-light locks onto you and his bares his sharp fangs at you. “is this some sort of taunt?”

 

“SANS, I DON’T THINK THAT… THAT THE HUMAN MEANS TO TAUNT US.” Papyrus says, though even he looks upset at the idea of just eating soup broth.

 

“I don’t know how starvation affects monsters. Recovering from malnutrition and starvation for humans is… very difficult” You try to find a way to explain it.

 

“Uh, our stomachs tend to shrink the more we starve and when we do finally get some food in us, we just don’t feel full.” You pick up the other bowl of soup and move up to where Papyrus’ head rests on the armrest of the couch. “So we just keep eating and eating until our stomachs burst inside ourselves. It’s fatal.”

 

“HUMAN… DID THAT… HAPPEN?” Papyrus trails off, looking up at you helplessly.

 

Both of them seem startled at what you had said. Sans is quiet for a moment before looking you over. You had taken off your jacket and the other layers, so you’re now back at your usual size and twice as thin. It’s almost as if he’s gauging your weight.

 

“Oh, oh goodness me no.” You’re quick to catch on to what they’re hinting at; you’re quick to wave away any sort of worry as you frantically flap your available hand around with the most wide-eyed expression on your face. “I’ve personally never starved in that manner before, I’ve just... learned about it.”

 

This seems to ease both of their worries, but now the two of them almost look fearful of your own body’s capabilities to just… explode. “Anyway, this is why I’m giving you broth. I’m going to do my best in order to try and build you guys back up to the point that you can eat semi-solid food again.”

 

“Even if you can eat solid food right off the bat, for the sake of my peace of mind- could- could.” You mentally course your anxiety-ridden stutter and you shut your eyes tightly. Papyrus’ eyes soften as you stumble nervously over your words. “Drink the soup? I- I promise, I'll make something else. I just don't want to see you guys get- uh, more hurt.”

 

Papyrus looks over to Sans, and both of them converse to one another in some sort of unknown monster language… actually, you heard Carmine mutter something that sounded exactly like this. How did it go again? While Sans starts eating his soup, you carefully feed the exhausted Papyrus.

 It’s easy to fall into a mindless rhythm of spooning the food into Papyrus’ eager maw. Then followed by a good three seconds of waiting for him to finish his mouthful before scooping out another spoonful. Rinse and repeat. While your eyes glaze over, you continue to try and recall how Carmine said the mystery language. Finally, after a good minute, you finally have some recollection of what he had said.

 

“Wha-what a we-weird hu-hu-huma-human.” You stutter through it, the syllables falling off of your tongue awkwardly.

 

It’s like you’re trying to be a monkey that banged a car radio in a drunken night of splendor. It's coming out all glitchy and warped. Wrong. There’s still something so familiar about it but you don’t know why.

Sans, who was spooning some of the broth into his mouth abruptly jerks his hand some of it making it back into the bowl while the rest dampens his shirt. Papyrus’ eye-lights grow to the size of dinner plates and they once again glance at each other and back at you.

They seem to have a silent conversation between the two of them just with their eyes. Do they have some sort of twin telepathy? Are they even twins?? Can monsters even have twins???

 

“where did you learn that?” Sans speaks to you in that weird language, though you have no clue what he says. Seeing no reaction he switches back to English. “where did you learn that?”

 

“I- I heard Carmine mutter it.” You say, running your hand through your hair nervously. You carefully spoon some of the broth into Papyrus’ slack jaw.

 

“carmine?” Sans asked tentatively.

 

“He's a skeleton monster that I met at the cafe I frequently go to.” You explain, looking down at Papyrus who’s seemingly very interested in the rich purple color of his new blanket. Just so you could avoid Sans’ suddenly alert gaze. You can practically feel his eye-light boring into your skull. “He said that at one point when we were sitting together. Did I say something bad?”

 

“nah, you didn't say anything horrible. this carmine, does he look like he stumbled through a hot topic store?” Sans asks. You glance up just to see his red eye-light boring deep into your own set.

 

It takes you a minute to get the Hot Topic reference. The business chain had multiple cases of art theft and had gotten sued and summarily shut down in the early 20’s of the 21st century. But your Grandma has snorted in amusement when talking about those good ol’ days.

Monsters also learned their information from illegal dumping. So you’re not surprised that old books and other media stuff would end up in the underground talking about the edgy walking disaster that had been that store.

 

“You mean all black n’ red n’ edgy?” You ask and Sans nods. “Yeah, How'd you know?”

 

For a moment, the largest skeleton looks awkward glancing away from you and instead focuses on his now empty bowl of broth. Seeing that he's uncomfortable, you’re quick to speak up. "It's okay, Sans. you don't have to tell me if it makes you uncomfortable.”

 

A dull chuckle escapes his teeth, and it causes the hair on the back of your neck to rise. It's a low, bitter chuckle and reaches up to scratch at the inside of his eye socket with his clawed phalanges. “we didn't really have the best relationship.”

 

Coming from a household where and these sorts of grudge matches occur, you're great at sensing bad blood. You recognize his whole demeanor towards this current subject and it screams that there's something deeper here.

(Of course, you recognize this. You've gone through the very same song and dance over and over and over again.)

Maybe if you get to know him better, then maybe you could try to get down to the bottom of this issue. But you don't know him at all, so you don't even bother. He seems surprised that you quickly discard the subject and instead focus on the fact that the two of them have finished their soup.

 

“Do you guys feel okay? No nausea? Or any lightheadedness?” You ask, checking over Papyrus. He seems to be okay, and his eye-lights seem a little brighter. You glance over at Sans and swear that you see a tiny white dot flickering in Sans’ ruined eye socket, but it could just be a trick of the light. “I can break out the tomato soup if you want?”

 

“IF IT'S NOT TOO MUCH?” Papyrus asks shyly, and you nod. “THEN THAT WOULD BE LOVELY.”

 

“Uh, Sans? Do you want some too?” You ask, looking over at the other skeleton sitting on your second couch.

 

“eh, kinda lost my appetite.” He mumbles, and Papyrus looks a little worried.

 

“I'm sorry.” You blurt out, this is your fault isn't it? You had to try and speak that language. And you brought up Carmine, you should've said Polaris instead. It's likely that all of then know how to speak that weird language because you're sensing a theme.

 

You just need to figure out what this theme is.

 

“what’re you apologizing for?” Sans asks, slightly blindsided. His only eye narrows at you for a moment before reverting back to its normal circle shape.

 

“I brought up something that I shouldn't have.” You say quietly, collecting both of their bowls and spoons. “It was dumb of me, I'm sorry.”

 

“it was bound to happen eventually.” Sans sighs and sends you an exhausted smile. “best to get it over and done with earlier than later.”

 

“Yeah, I guess so.” You say quietly, glancing back over at Papyrus you smile at him. “How much do you want? Half the can?”

 

“THAT WOULD BE GOOD, I DO NOT THINK I COULD EAT THE ENTIRE THING BY MYSELF,” Papyrus responds, and glances over at his brother. “SANS, ARE YOU SURE THAT YOU DON’T WANT ANY?”

 

“im fine bro, don’t worry,” Sans said, smiling faintly at his brother. He rests his head against the skull tilting upwards as his eye sockets shut with an audible click and… is he- snoring? Man, you wish that you could fall asleep that fast.

 

“DON’T MIND HIM. HE DOES THAT SOMETIMES.” Papyrus snorts dismissively. Sans lets out a very loud snore, though it sounds like an aborted attempt at smothering a cough. It causes Papyrus to roll his eye-lights fondly.

 

“I’ll be back with your soup in a minute then.” You get up, the dining utensils in hand as you retreat back into the kitchen.

 

You place Sans’ dishes into the dishwasher, before cracking open the can of tomato bisque and pour half of it into Papyrus’ bowl. Once it’s done cooking in the microwave, you take out the half ‘n half that you have in the fridge and add a splash of it to the soup, stirring it in until it turns from dark orange to a pale, creamy orange color. You idly dip your finger into it again to gauge the temperature. Not too hot, not lukewarm, just perfect. Placing the spoon back into the bowl, you carefully make your way back into the living room once more.

Papyrus perks up, a small smile crossing his face as the rich scent of the tomato soup fills the T.V. area with its savory sweetness. Sans stirs for a moment, his red eye-light flickers briefly before the eye socket slides shut once more.

Neither of you trades any words. The most noise that Papyrus makes are happy little sighing sounds and pleased chirping as you carefully feed him spoonful after spoonful of the soup. It’s oddly cute and you have to resist the urge to gently stroke his skull with your hands like a puppy. But you have impeccable impulse control (even though your hand holding the spoon twitches with the sudden urge) and does not do the thing that your brain desperately wants to do.

 

“Bad (Y/N). Papyrus is not a puppy.” You internally scold yourself.

 

Holy shit, Pup-Pyrus.

You’re a genius. You hope that Sans likes puns because he’d probably get a kick out of that.

(You try not to think of Carmine and his pretty eyes, and how he’d probably find it funny too.)

(You’ve read enough fanfiction to know where these tropes are going. And you're not sure whether to be worried or not.)

Before you know it, Papyrus has drained the bowl of the entirety of its contents. He looks very content now, sleepy almost. His eye-lights have changed shape from rounded and hollowed ovals to semicircles. It reminds you of someone with their eyes half-closed. Occasionally the lights flicker and die out like a candle, only to reappear moments later with a flare of honey-orange light.

 

“How about you take a rest now?” You say quietly as you stand up from your crouched position beside the couch, before collecting up all of the utensils into the bowl. The TV is still playing distantly, though the music is so quiet and calm that you had completely tuned it out. Grabbing the remote you hit the off button and the screen winks out from a dark blue to an inactive black. “It’s been a long day for all of us.”

 

“Yes.” Papyrus slurs quietly in agreement. His head lists to the side and you watch as the lights flicker out once more. They don’t turn on again and for a moment panic grips you by the stomach, twisting your insides uncomfortably. Then he starts to snore and all of the anxiety floods away like water. You slump where you stand, as everything starts to feel unexpectedly heavy.  It’s like the air has become lead, crushing you slowly.

 

On second thought, that’s probably the exhaustion talking. You really should get to sleep.

Another glance at the clock above the microwave tells you that it’s starting to near four in the morning. You place the bowl into the bottom of the sink and turn the faucet to cold and fill up the ceramic container all the way until the water overflows and spills over the sides. You can start the dishwasher later in the day after you’ve gotten enough sleep to function correctly.

Wiping your hands free of the water, you place the towel back onto its hook. Taking one last glance in the living room, you falter after a moment. Sans is still in that uncomfortable sitting position with his head resting against the upper cushion at an odd angle. While he does look very big height-wise, you realize that most of his bulk seems to come from the parka that he wears that’s stuffed with what you assume is soft padding. His unwashed white t-shirt exposes a dirtied pale blue expanse of bone, and you realize that he’s just as thin and gaunt as his brother.

It somehow makes him look even smaller and you wonder briefly if he feels cold. You don’t care that he had been wearing slippers that were such a muddied brown that you couldn’t even tell what it’s original color was. Or how his basketball shorts are loose on his iliac crests, the hem slipping off slightly. You just have the sudden urge to find the softest, fluffiest blanket and bundle him up into a skeleton burrito.

You don’t resist the impulsive urge, spinning on your hell and quickly retreating down the hallway, passing your room and blatantly ignoring the alluring siren call of your bed. Opening the doors to the lower cabinets, you rifle through the sheets once more a triumphant exhale of breath whooshes out of your mouth as your hand finds a blanket of the perfect softness and cushy delight. You pull it out of the depths of the cabinet and find yourself enveloped in the familiar scent of your home.

It fills you with bittersweet happiness. You can suddenly recall all the good memories back then, but at the same time, you still remember all of the bad things too.

The blanket is very much like the one that you had given Papyrus in size. However, it’s very different from the pale lilac color to the fact that this one is knitted with high-quality wool. It was too heavy for Papyrus to use, and you feared that with his ankle in such a fragile state, that this one would’ve been bad for him.

But it’s perfect for Sans, and that’s all that matters.

Scooping it up into your arms, you toddle through the house with it wrapped around you as you carefully walking around the opposite side of the central table in the living room as far away from Papyrus in hopes to not awaken the injured monster.

Sans has started to list a little to the side, his mouth parted revealing a translucent, faintly glowing red tongue in his mouth. As you think back on it, all of the skeletons that you’ve met have had tongues. All of them in that strange, almost jelly-like substance. Shaking the distracted thought out of your head, you carefully tug on the sleeve of Sans’ heavy blue parka. He slumps over with a low moaning noise, and Papyrus mumbles something in his sleep.

The large skeleton shifts a little, unconsciously finding a comfortable place to rest his skull against so that none of the jagged pieces of bone touch anything. One arm drapes off the side of the couch, and you gingerly maneuver it until it rests by his large chest. With a low huff of air, you carefully drape the blanket over him, smoothing it out over his curled up form, and is rewarded with Sans making a soft and gently content noise.

Neither of these two had any right to be this cute.

Seeing that your work is now done, you no longer resist the urge to disobey your bed’s siren song. You practically stumble over to your bedroom like a drunk, shutting the door behind you as you flop onto the soft heaven that is your bedsheets. You roll yourself into burrito format in your soft red blanket, burying your face into the fluffy fabric.

You drift off in minutes, and for once you don’t dream of anything. No giant skeletal beasts, no nightmares.

Just neverending, all-consuming darkness.

[Something in the blackness stirs. Opening up one giant faintly glowing golden eye, a dull blue light flickers in the depths before it flickers like a dying lightbulb, and goes out once more.]

But still, you sleep on.

 


 

You wake up the next morning feeling totally refreshed. But you also let out a squeal because-

HOLY FUCK SANS WHAT ARE YOU EVEN DOING

-Sans is looming over you a confused frown on his face. In your panic, you crab-walk away from the much larger monster only to fall off your bed with a shrill squawk and onto the hardwood floor of your room.

A pathetic whimper escapes your teeth as you hiss in pain. Great, now your tailbone hurts. Time to deal with this shit again. Last time you fell off the couch like a dumbass. This time you panic crab walked off your bed like a dumbass. Somethings never change. This is one of them.

You take a hot minute to get yourself back into working order before crawling back up onto the bed. For a moment you think that the whole ‘Skeletons in my forest, and now in my house’ was just some sort of fever dream, but nope. Sans is still standing there, looking slightly embarrassed and very much confused. It seems that he’s abandoned his parka, and your eyes distractedly look over his bare shoulder because his shirt is too ruined to even stay on correctly. You need to find out both of their sizes. You refuse to let them stay in your own home with nothing but rags while you have the equivalent to riches.

Then you also notice that he has the blanket that you had given him carefully draped over his body like it’s something precious. Well, you hope that it’s precious, the thing had cost a lot after all. It was really hard to find wool as soft and not scratchy like the one that he was carefully borrowing.

(Something deep inside of yourself purrs in delight at the sight of him draped in something so comfortable. He deserves something good.)

(You are very quick to squash that little voice into the depths of your mind. You’re awake but not that awake to deal with those thoughts.)

You stare blankly up at him for a moment before you slap the flat of your palm against your forehead. The cracking sound of skin against your skull is oddly satisfying and even though your face stings a little the voices in the back of your mind have poofed out of existence for the time being.

 

“Something that I can do for you up at…” You glance over at the clock. Nine AM, that’s decent. You can let that lady know that her commission is done at eleven. “Nine in the morning?”

 

“wh-” Sans’ voice cracks and the skeleton looks mildly frustrated as he scratches at his cheekbone with his clawed fingers. “why… why did you do it? why did you help us?”

 

“Wait, wha-???” That leaves you speechless for a moment, and you mentally fumble for the right words to say. “Because it was the right thing to do?”

 

“a human like you wouldn’t have gone out of their way to save my brother,” Sans growls out, voice low and scratchy. “you-”

 

“If I had found an animal then I would’ve left it.” You respond, your eyes are wide but your voice is flat. You tap your fingers against your outer thigh to try and rid the jittery feeling that’s started to crawl in your skin like static, and Sans glances down for a moment as if recognizing the gesture. “But guess what! You’re not animals, you’re people. Papyrus was hurt. I had to help!”

 

“i don’t understand.” Sans groans and you watch worriedly as his eye-light sparks and flickers like mad. You carefully scramble over to him as he reaches up and starts to dig his hand into his ruined eye-socket, the sound of bone scraping against bone is nauseating.

 

Before you know it, you’re gently reaching up to cup the skeleton’s face, a litany of jumbled words spew out of your mouth like a faucet on full blast. You gently mutter anything in an attempt to calm him down just as the skeleton falls onto the floor with a clatter of bones as his legs give out from under him. He’s breathing heavily as he slumps against you, and you notice that yep, your tired observations from last night are unfortunately true.

He’s in the same exact condition as his brother. Worse even, especially with that hole in his head. He barely even manages to push you with the little weight that he has on his bones.

 

“do… do you expect to get… anything out of this. why are you so dedicated to helpin’ us?” He wheezes.

 

“I… I feel guilty.” You admit, and he looks up at you confused. “You got hurt in my territory, you nearly died without me even knowing.”

 

“Humans… have, have, have trespassed on my turf without me knowing.” Your voice starts to shake as the mix of guilt and rage burns hotly in your gut, bubbling up in your chest in a mix of self-loathing and righteous fury. “Some assholes snuck in when I was either asleep or gone and decided to set up their fucked up torture devices in my home. My fucking backyard!

 

Sans falters for a moment, and you force yourself to take a long set of calming breaths. You don’t know why you’re so angry. It’s been ages since you’ve felt rage and hate this caustic before. It’s like your heart is screaming for blood and you have no clue why and you hate it.

 

“You’ve been starving. And I have been utterly oblivious to everything.” You spit out with a sigh.

 

“...You don’t even know my name. Did you even know that my house was beyond the forest?” You mutter, voice becoming weaker and weaker as the heated anger vacates your body like steam from a kettle. “You could’ve knocked, or, or, left a note. I could’ve tried to help.”

 

“we did. we did know about your home. it’s just... humans don’t take kindly to us.” Sans grunts, still leaning against you. His eye-light is questioning, searching you for any sign of you lying. But you’re not, and that’s what’s so confusing. Why aren’t you lying? “what could you have done?”

 

“I could’ve left canned food out in the back. Or maybe cooked something and left it up on the brick wall for you together.” You say, listing off a bunch of possibilities. “Hell, even if you mentioned that my forest was now a metal-filled wasteland I would’ve done something earlier.”

 

“would you have really?” Sans continues.

 

You falter for a moment. Would you have listened? If they had mentioned the traps and the possible trespassers you would have to investigate. This was your home after all. No one else was allowed to sully it without your permission. “If you mentioned the traps or trespassers, then yes.”

 

“why?”

 

“Like I said earlier.” You glance down at him. “This place, all of this land, it is my home. I’ve done so much to keep this place, it’s mine and I refuse to let anyone ruin it.”

 

You love your family, but... you’re never going back there. Sans looks like he’s about to say something else, but decides against it. Sighing, you gently help him back to his feet. His eye-light is much duller in the morning light from the hallways. Even at night, the glow had been somewhat dull.

 

“Hows-about I go make all of us some breakfast huh?” You say after a moment. “You go take a load off on the couch, and I’ll make us some cream of wheat.”


“cream of what?” Sans slurs in confusion.

 

“it’s a hot cereal, remember we gotta work you guys back up into solids.” You say, gently herding him through the hallways like a big confused sheep. “Who knows? You guys might even heal faster.”


“...can you add something sweet into it?” Sans says after a moment.



“Of course.”

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

conversationalist

 


 

 

 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold represents a language other than English being spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.


 

Sans sits on the couch slightly curled up with the blanket around his waist while you stand at the stove idly stirring the milk so that it doesn’t burn. The TV is on once again, this time instead of the lady painting on acrylic and making a 3D painting. She’s carefully making greeting cards. Using a few machines and scissors, she cuts the paper into the shapes that she wants and then uses them to decorate blank cards. Your great-grandmother apparently did that sort of thing. It was interesting to do, maybe you could also add “card-making” to your repertoire.

Seeing that the milk is finally boiling, you carefully measure out the proper portions for the three of you and then pour it into the pot. Turning off the flame, you continue to stir it with the whisk until gradually it becomes thicker and thicker. Seeing that everything is properly mixed, you go over to one of your lower drawers and pull out a trivet made out of a cork-like substance. Setting it down onto the counter, you then walk over to the pantry and dig through the shelves in order to find some brown-sugar. With a triumphant noise a-la Zelda. You get your hands on your prize, and like a dragon, you add it to the steadily growing mess on the island counter.

Daring back to the stove, you take the pot and place it on the trivet. The cream of wheat has gotten much thicker than when you had first added it to the milk. Scooping out the brown sugar with a spoon, you stir it all throughout the hot cereal. The color going from a pale creamy white to a soft brown color. You then add a dash of salt to balance out the sweet, followed by a half teaspoon of vanilla.

A quick dip of the spoon, you place it into your mouth and sigh in delight. Just as good as always.

Taking out three decently sized bowls, you add an equal amount to all of them. However, for the skeleton brothers, you add a little bit of half n half and a slight dash of milk to make it a little less thick. You pick up the bowls, one in each hand and leaves yours behind on the island as you stride over to the living room. Sans’ head snaps up to look at you and sits up eagerly at the side of food in your hands.

Papyrus who’s still slowly waking up merely lets out a delighted chirp. In the sunlight that filters through the gaps of the blinds, you notice all of the little nicks and scratches in their bones. Like they’ve been chipping away for months on end, ah, hello guilt, how are you today? You hand the bowl over to Sans, who happily snatches it from your hands. You’d bet that if you didn’t have a spoon in the bowl he’d probably eat it with his bare hands.

Papyrus is still too weak to do much of anything but lie there. At the scent of the cream of wheat, however, he’s quick to perk up. The only thing that’s preventing him from sitting upright is his ankle. “Good morning Papyrus, did you sleep well?”

 

“YES! I DID! THE BLANKET WAS VERY.... NICE, AND THE COUCH IS MUCH SOFTER... THAN I EXPECTED.” Papyrus says idly stroking the blanket reverently as a pleased chitter escapes from his teeth. “IT’S NOT LUMPY AT ALL.”

 

“I would hope so if it was lumpy then the salesperson and I will have to have a little chat.” You joke lightly, sending the lanky skeleton a wink. “Anyway, got you some hot cereal. I hope that you don’t mind if it’s a little sweet.”

 

“I AM FINE... JUST AS LONG AS IT’S NOT TOO SWEET” Papyrus says after a moment. “YOU HAVE NOT.... DROWNED IT IN SUGAR HAVE YOU?”

 

“That’s a form of torture and a waste of food.” Your disgusted face at the idea of drowning the cereal in sugar seems to ease his worries. Taking the spoon into your hand, you get a decent amount in it and offer it to Papyrus. “Here, try some.”

 

Papyrus lifts his head off of the armrest, and carefully takes the mouthful into his jaw. He makes a noise of consideration and you watch as a faint reddish glow appears at the base of his jaw near where his throat would be. That’s… something that you’ve only seen with Sheka. Carmine had to forcefully add magic into his food in order to eat it. You look over at Sans, and sure enough, you see that faint glow of magic in his throat. It almost looks like-

 

“Wait, you guys aren’t doing the magic thing.” You say blankly.

 

Do these guys have ghost organs? Holy shit???

 

“what magic thing?” Sans asks after swallowing down a mouthful of wheat. You watch as it sort of goes down where the esophagus of a human would be, throat surrounded by a haze of dark crimson magic.

 

“Uh, at the cafe with you know who, he tapped his index finger that was sparkin’ red with magic against his mug and food.” You recall a small smile crosses your face at the gentle reminder of his wide-eyed expression at the cinnamon-roll hot cocoa. “I think he uh, imbued it? It would’a fallen through otherwise if he hadn’t.”

 

“WHERE WE GREW UP,” Papyrus said, and you turn your head to look over at him. “WE COULDN’T USE... MAGIC THAT OFTEN, OUR ENVIRONMENT WAS- WAS… UH-”

 

“very harsh. we had to adapt to eatin’ human styled food.” Sans continued, idly stirring the cereal with a spoon. “lotsa us did.”

 

“YES, NORMALLY MONSTER FOOD... DISSOLVES BEFORE IT REACHES WHERE THE HUMAN... THROAT WOULD BE,” Papyrus explains, momentarily ignoring the spoon full of food in his face. You place it back into the bowl. “BUT HUMAN FOOD REMAINS SOLID… WE HAD TO CHANGE OURSELVES... TO DIGEST YOUR FOOD.”

 

“So that’s why you have magic ghost organs?” You ask, cocking your head to the side like a puppy.

 

“heh heh heh,” Sans sputters a little at your summarization, a startled laugh ripping from his throat. It has an echo-y quality that you’d never hear in a human’s laughter, with an almost base-like undertone. You decide very quickly that you like that sound. “magic ghost organs. yeah, that’s it.”

 

“So, how does that all work? Did this form naturally orrrr?” You can’t help it, you’re now very interested in how this all works. “I mean, if you don’t wanna talk about it that’s fine.”

 

“WE HAD TO LOOK AT.... HUMAN BIOLOGY BOOKS,” Papyrus says, his voice becoming slightly higher pitched as he thinks of what to say and he adverts his eye-lights. “YOU GUYS HAVE-”

 

“A lot of unnecessary stuff?” You ask, a tiny but still amused smile on your face.

 

“YOU COULD SAY THAT.” Papyrus squeaks out, his cheekbones tinted an odd reddish-orange.

 

“Okay, that’s good enough for me, then.” You take another spoonful of cereal and hold it out to him. “Do you feel like you can start feeding yourself, or do you want me to continue with what I am doing?”

 

“I.. AM TOO WEAK... TO SIT UP ON MY OWN, MUCH LESS... EAT BY MYSELF.” There’s something in his voice that indicates that he doesn’t really like being immobile, but there’s really nothing that he can do. “...THANK YOU FOR HELPING US.”

 

“You shouldn’t be thanking me.” You reply blandly. You just can’t feel good about helping them when they’re in this state.

 

“HUMAN,” Papyrus announces, voice suddenly stern. His eye-lights shape changes, narrowing into thin bars. “IF YOU HAD BEEN... ANYONE ELSE, YOU MOST LIKELY WOULD.... HAVE LEFT ME THERE.”

 

You look away from Papyrus because... Wow, the wall is suddenly very interesting. It honestly looks like it could use a few new coats of paint because it looks a little flat in some places. Maybe even a color change from the blank white to something else, but on the other hand, it looks good with the dark browns of the oak wood. A large bony hand reaches up and you falter when it gently presses against your cheek.

 

“YOU ARE NOT AT... FAULT FOR THIS HAPPENING,” Papyrus says, and you stare down at him uncomprehendingly. His thumb, the bone worn and scratched yet somehow warm, gently rubs circles into your skin. It’s a grounding sensation, and the tension melts from your body. “YOU COULD NOT HAVE.... KNOWN THAT WE WERE EVEN... IN THE FOREST.”

 

“you have your own life.” Sans agrees he’s placed his food by the side for a moment because you can still see some left in the bottom. There’s something calculating in his eye as he looks you over, considering. “you’ve barely even been home, comin’ back late in the day, we've seen.”

 

“Am I really that transparent?” You mutter, leaning into the cold bones of Papyrus’s hand.

 

“yea,” Sans looks genuinely amused. “to anyone else, that'd be a nah, but you’re talkin’ to the masters of hidin’ our emotions.”

 

“SO, WE ARE REALLY.... GOOD AT RECOGNIZING IT. ESPECIALLY BECAUSE... BOTH OF US HAVE DONE THE SAME THING.” Papyrus adds. “LIKE WE SAID EARLIER, OUR HOME ENVIRONMENT WAS… BAD.”

 

“so it was necessary for us.” Sans continued.

 

You… really needed to do some research on the underground. You have never seen monsters in such a negative shape like these two. There had been more of them. Wouldn’t there be news about starving and warped monsters? Or did humans just not care? You wouldn’t be surprised by human action, but certainly, there would be people who would want to help?

 

You have a feeling that you’re stumbling upon something much greater, but you have no clue what this ‘greater’ thing even is. You’ve got pieces of the puzzle, but not enough to try to make any sort of educated guess.

 

“I see.” You say quietly and sigh when Papyrus removes his hand from your face. “Should I practice more on that? Make a better front?”

 

“I LIKE THAT YOU ARE... WILLING TO BE SO OPEN WITH US,” Papyrus replies, a small smile on his face, though it comes out as a strained grimace due to his irregularly shaped teeth. “DO NOT FEEL BAD FOR... PROJECTING OUTWARDS,”

 

“sides,” Sans adds. “it’s been ages since anyone’s been honest with us. you’re special, you don’t lie.”

 

“I don’t lie to friends.” You mutter. “That’s always been a rule for me. I can’t stand liars.”

 

“that’s good then,” Sans says quietly, something softening in his eyes at your statement. Papyrus looks appreciative.

 

Seeing that the conversation at hand was mostly over, you pick up the spoon and quickly resume feeding Papyrus. Your food is getting cold on the island countertop, and even though most of your appetite has left you, your body still needs to have something after such a stressful night.

After everything’s all consumed, and the dishes have been rinsed off and put into the dishwasher. You pick up your phone off of it’s charging station. The transparent holographic phone ignites in a flare of blue before revealing your home screen and all of its icons.

You have… so many messages. Over 100 of them, all from Strife. Looks like your new buddies have been busy. Or up to no good. Maybe even both.

You idly walk back into the living room, before locating one of the bean bag chairs that you had left near Papyrus from where his head had rested. You settle into the plushy reddish-purple bean bag chair with a delighted sigh at the soft and cushy fabric. Sans glances at you from where he sits on the couch to the right of you. You had decided to switch from the internet to mainstream T.V. while the lot of you had been eating breakfast and when paging through the channels, Papyrus had gotten excited at the sight of a racing show involving speedy cars.

Naturally, you had selected the channel for him.

It did seem like something that he would like. Humming some nonsensical- wait non- sans -ical, hehe you’re funny! tune to yourself. You continue to scroll through the horde of messages awaiting you.

 


 

 

ScarfedSkeleton today at 4:00 am

HUMAN, ARE YOU STILL AVAILABLE?

TURNS OUT THE RALLY GOT CANCELLED DUE TO SOME ISSUES REGARDING SOME…

THINGS.

OH DEAR, YOU’RE ASLEEP ARENT YOU.

 

ScarfedSkeleton today at  4:35 am

IM SO SORRY.

I DIDN’T MEAN TO DISTURB YOUR REST!

I’LL BE GOING TO DO STUFF.

VERY SOON.

 

FeistyLizardLesbian today at 4:45 am

oh my god Paps

it’s almost five

of course they’re still asleep

 

LesbianFightingFish at 5:15 am

Oh my god, both of you it’s too early for this bull shark!!!

I’m muting everything.

RIGHT THIS INSTANT!!!!

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 6:22 am

HUMAN ARE YOU AWAKE?

IT IS NOW PAST SIX!

YOU SHOULD BE UP DOING A MORNING JOG!

 

LesbianFightingFish today at 6:23 am

YEAH! YOU SHOULD JOIN US ONE DAY!

 

FeistyLizardLesbian today at 6:30 am

[runninginthe90s.png]

[It’s a picture of Undyne and Thrash flexing, while Polaris lies on the floor with swirls in his eye-sockets. Papyrus is also flexing, and appears to have sunglasses on his… shoulders?]

ONE DAY, THIS WILL BE YOU
BE AFRAID
BE VERY AFRAID

 

LesbianFightingFish today at 6:32 am

You fucking memelord.

You ABSOLUTE meme.

 

FeistyLizardLesbian today at 6:35 am

[shutupfishbiitch.png]

[It’s a picture of Undyne getting suplexed into a fountain by Thrash. It seems that Polaris is taking the picture due to the blurry blue blob that is his thumb in the frame.]

THIS WILL ALSO BE YOU

BE SOOOOO AFRAID

 

The next set of messages is all of them bickering. Undyne who is especially upset at being dunked into a fountain full of rusty ‘flavored’ water from the coins that people have dropped in. Meanwhile the skeletons, naturally, jump to their fellow’s defense. Undyne with Papyrus, and Thrash with Polaris. Dorks. The lot of them. A small smile crosses your face as you scroll down through the banter.

 

It’s quickly wiped off with the next set, however.

 

ScarfedSkeleton today at 7:40 am

DOES THIS LOOK GOOD?

[breakfastspaghetti.png]

[It’s a… horrifying picture of what appears to be spaghetti with red sauce mixed with brown sugar flavored oatmeal. Wait, hold on… are… are those  raw eggs mixed into it?]

 

Oh hell no. Your eyes are wide with horror at the sight of the awful concoction. If you ever see Papyrus again, you’re personally giving him cooking lessons. The whole thing was a waste of food, and something inside you growled lowly at that. You then frown at the screen, because you have zero-clue where that came from.

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 7:41 am

IT LOOKS GREAT!

YOU SHOULD SEE MINE!

[breakfast-tacos.png]

[Somehow… it’s even worse than Papyrus’ spaghetti amalgamation. Burnt corn tortillas with a mass of what used to be eggs, bacon and beans. It’s absolutely stuffed with glitter.]

 

Holy hell, who let these two near a kitchen??? Holy nope, you definitely need to give all of them cooking lessons. You have an inkling that Undyne and Thrash are the worst role models when it comes to cooking. Most likely baking as well.

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 7:41 am

BRO SAYS THAT IT’S MY BEST ONES YET!

 

LesbianFightingFish today at 6:45 am

Looks edible.

 

FeistyLizardLesbian today at 6:45 am

...ditto

 

How the hell did those look edible? Was this a normal occurrence? Ruining a potentially good meal? How long had they been doing this for that mess to look ‘better’? To many questions roll through your mind, and you’re pretty sure that you’re staring at the screen with disbelief.

 Apparently, they all got tired of talking together and started spamming the chat with letters, literally doing the entire alphabet letter by letter. Then doing the alphabet in the reverse order before giving up at 8 am.

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 9:45 am

HUMAN ARE YOU OKAY?

 

ScarfedSkeleton today at 9:46 am

YOU AREN’T BEING LAZY ARE YOU?

 

Somnambulist today at 10:01 am

Uh, hey. Sorry to make you guys worry. I woke up like, and hour ago.

I swear that I wasn’t being lazy, I just uh, had a rough night, so to speak.

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 10:03 am

OH NO! WHAT HAPPENED?

 

Somnambulist today at 10:04 am

I was walking in the woods behind the back of the house and stepped in a bear trap. Someone's been setting up shit in my backyard.

 

FightingFishLesbian today at 10:05 am

Holy fuck, are you okay?

 

FeistyLizardLesian today at 10:05 am

do you need an ambulance? holy shit??

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 10:05 am

LANGUAGE

AND ALSO-

WHAT?

YOU STEPPED IN A BEARTRAP?

 

ScarfedSkeleton today at 10:06 am

DO YOU REQUIRE ANY ASSISTANCE?

YOU HAVE NOT BEEN HORRIBLY MAIMED HAVE YOU?

 


 

Horribly maimed.

You flinch at the reminder of your Papyrus’ messed up ankle. Your hand twitches slightly and the phone’s thin holographic screen as you breathe in through your mouth in order to try and bite back the guilt welling up in your chest. You can almost smell the strange scent of stale oranges and sickly sweet iron. Before you know it, your breathing is coming out in too sharp pants and soft wheezing.

The world seems to become staticky for a moment.

Sans glances over at you cautiously, taking in your blanked out expression. Unheard to you through the haze of mental static, Sans chirps something to his brother in that strange language.

 

"bro, looks like they’re thinkin’ about it again, d’ya think that ya can do something about it?”

 

“OF COURSE... I CAN BROTHER, GIVE ME A SECOND!”

 

You pause when you feel bony fingers stroke through your hair. The world snaps back into clarity, the glitching haze in your mind fading. You’re still sitting down on the floor, resting your back against the couch. Papyrus (your Papyrus), makes a soft, gentle, if not comforting sounds as he gently pets your hair. You wonder how they could both be so nice when you had failed them so badly.

It is then that you realize that you’ve been idle for too long. Glancing down at your hand, the second realization is that your screen is off. You tap the screen twice with your thumb, and in a flash of blue, it unlocks as it scans your retinas and pupils.

You have now been spammed by 12 messages. It’s nice, you suppose, to be worried for by people you barely even know. Though you grit your teeth because you needed to lie to them, and you feel like such shit for your deception towards your new friends. You had to protect your Sans and Papyrus. You had too. They wouldn’t survive out there.

When it came down to it, you’d break your own morals to protect someone. This is your [LOYALTY] at work.

 

[Something in your chest glints gold. No one notices.]

 

[In the darkness, something stirs once more. Not yet, not yet.]

 

[It is not time.]

 

It’s then that you abruptly realize that you still haven’t told your skeletons your name.

 


 

Somnambulist today at 10:12 am

Sorry for the late response!

No need to panic and look for me at any of the human hospitals.

It's not that bad, really, my ankle is a little bruised and a little swollen.

It’ll heal in a few days, so don’t worry too much. c:

I’ve got some herbal cream and some ice, so I’ll be right as rain in no time!

 

ScarfedSkeleton at 10:13 am

THAT’S GOOD, SO MAYBE WE CAN RESCHEDULE THIS MEET UP FOR ANOTHER TIME?

WHAT DAY WOULD BE GOOD FOR YOU?

 

FeistyLizardLesbian at 10:14 am

‘dyne and i are both in the royal guard, but we do tend to get wednesdays off and part of the weekends to ourselves

fridays are always anime nights with the babes

 

LesbianFightingFish at 10:14 am

YEAH!

Tho, Since we both know that you like anime…

If you want to, feel free to come over!

 

Somnambulist today at 10:14

I’d love to! Maybe sometime next month or so?

I still haven’t gotten my ident card yet.

:c

Fricken 5-7 business days!

Also, I do have a few animes and mangos that I could recommend as well!!!

Wait.

Hold up the heckin phone.

...am I a babe too?

 

LesbianFightingFish today at 10:17 am

Holy shit, yeah, you’re a babe now!

 

FeistyLizardLesbian today at 10:17 am

rofl

the best-est babe to have ever babe-d!

 

ScarfedSkeleton today at 10:17 am

I AM SO CONFUSED

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 10:18 am

SO AM I.

WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING?

 

Somnambulist today at 10:18 am

Stupidity.

That’s what’s happening.

Ah! I need to go, I’ve got a few things to do.

Like, get more ice for instance.

 

GuardOfTheStars today at 10:19

BE SAFE!

IF YOU DO NEED HELP, JUST GIVE US YOUR ADDRESS!

 

ScarfedSkeleton today at 10:19

WE HAVE CLEARANCE TO GO INTO ALL HUMAN ZONES.

WE CAN LITERALLY BRING THE PARTY TO YOU!

=D

 

Somnambulist today at 10:20

I'll keep that in mind.

See you soon! Hopefully.

 


 

 

You shut off your phone and take a moment to stretch out. It's been a bit since you've done that so your spine cracks the whole way down. The tenseness from your stiff back fades like water off of a duck's back as you sigh in delight. You miss how Sans nearly slams his skull against the headboard of the couch, his eye-light too wide before constricting in a mix of confusion and worry. Humming softly, you rest back against of the chair.

You blink at Papyrus when he starts to comb his hand through your hair once more. A quick glance at his face reveals worry, though there's a very dark blood orange tint spanning across his face. You suddenly recall how Sheka had freaked out over Dreamer's back cracking. “Is there something wrong?”

 

“OH, UH. IS THAT… NORMAL?” Papyrus stutters a little, his eye-lights darting from your face back to your… well, back. “FOR YOUR BONES TO MAKE THAT AWFUL POPPING SOUNDS?”

 

“It’s normal for humans, we’ve got this stuff called ‘synovial fluid’ and it’s between every single joint in our body. Sometimes, we get like, air or some sort of gas in it or something? So the cracking sound is the joint’s doin’ somethin.” You explain before sending the two of them a sheepish smile. “I haven’t done biology in years, so my knowledge is a bit… foggy.”

 

“And uh, if it makes you uncomfortable or something, just let me know and I’ll go crack my joints somewhere else.” You hastily add-on, nervously twiddling your thumbs as your phone rests on your lap.

 

“YOU’RE FINE. IT DOES NOT MAKE ME UNCOMFORTABLE.” Papyrus squeaks out. “BUT IT’S A LITTLE WEIRD! ARE YOU SURE THAT IT DOES NOT HURT?”

 

“It really depends? If anything, it’s sort of, y’know relieving?” You try to find the right words. Would saying that cracking your joint felt ‘pleasurable’ would make things weird? “Like, sometimes I feel intense pressure in my joints, so I kinda act like a human glowstick to get everything does not feel so constricting, I suppose?”

 

“so it feels good to ya?” Sans asks quietly, there’s a faint tinge of dull blue crossing his face, reminding you of a sheen of blue-tinted steel. “like, y’know, uh-”

 

“Relieving.” You blurt out, resisting the urge to flee the room your traitorous mouth opens up, and oh god you hate yourself. “Does it feel weird if you get it, and oh-my-god-I’m-so-sorry. Shutting up now, you don’t have to answer!”

 

“nah, you’re fine. for us, that usually means that something’s bendin’ the wrong way.” Sans replies, and gradually the embarrassed blush fades. “obviously, we don’t got any of that syno stuff, just magic but it just acts as a sorta- uh- um- paps whaddya call it?”

 

“BUFFER? MAYBE EVEN A BINDER?” Papyrus tacks on, used to his brother forgetting certain words. “IT CUSHIONS THE BONE, BUT IT NEVER MAKES A POPPING SOUND.”

 

“..is that why you guys have glowing joints?” You ask, genuinely intrigued. “Cause of the magic between them?”

 

“glowin’?” Sans mutters softly before his crimson eye narrows at you slightly before reverting back to its typical circle. “...what do you mean by that?”

 

“Huh? You don’t see it? I noticed it a good hour or so ago after the two of you guys started eating.” You gesture to the exposed bone of Papyrus’ phalanges, the dull orange glow faint in the light streaming from the blinds. “It’s been getting brighter, so I’m uh, assuming that I’ve been doing something right.”

 

“OH,” Papyrus looks like he's about to start crying. A nervous expression crosses your face when you see the beginning of translucent tears building in his eye sockets. “IT'S… BEEN SUCH A LONG TIME.”

 

This mood whiplash is giving me a headache. You can't help but think. Even Sans is starting to scrutinize the joints of his bones, red eye-light darting rapidly in his socket.

 

“the glow fades if we don't eat all that much.” Sans says quietly, looking over at you. “costs too much energy to glow so it dulled the more we… starved.”

 

“So, this is a good thing?” You ask, momentarily reaching up to hold Papyrus’ hand in order to take a closer look. The joints are more spaced out compared to that of a human skeleton.

 

You briefly wonder if Polaris and Other-Papyrus have a similar thing going on with their bones, are they different from your Sans and Papyrus? The glow appears to be emanating from an almost jelly-like translucent orange substance between the bone. You idly use your nail to trace the glowing magic, noting how the texture almost reminds you of a thick gel. “It looks a little healthier?”

 

“THAT IS BECAUSE WE ARE STARTING TO HAVE MORE MAGIC FILLING OUR RESERVES.” Papyrus sounds positively delighted, even though there's a gentle hitch to his breath as you continue to compare similarities to his hand and yours. “IF- IF WE KEEP THIS UP, OUR RESERVES WILL BE THE HIGHEST THAT THEY HAVE EVER BEEN.”

 

“I'll make sure of it.” You mutter softly. “I think my ID is coming in today. So I'll be able to go into the monster district later today.”

 

“WHY DO YOU WISH TO STOP BY?” Papyrus asks, one of his eye-lights in a halved circle shape in his confusion.

 

“I wanna find a higher grade medicine for your injuries. Maybe we can even do something for both of you guys' nicks and scratches.” You pause before glancing between the two of them. “They aren't all scarred are they?”

 

“most of em are just superficial, our magic should take care of them soon,” Sans says, glancing down at his hands before reaching over at his knitted blanket to cover himself up in it a little more.

 

“I'M PRETTY SURE THAT THE DISTRICT.... SUPPLIES S-GRADE MEDICINAL CREME. I AM JUST NOT SURE IF... THEY SELL THEM TO HUMANS.” Papyrus mutters, his fingers tapping against his chest.

 

“It doesn't hurt to try though?” You say with a shrug of your shoulders. “If not I can just try to pick up some by herbs, and maybe we could add magic to it and make some of our own.”

 

“BUT-”

 

“It shouldn't be too hard to replicate…. Right?” You glance between the two of them.

 

“im not sure if the two of us can make green magic that pure,” Sans admits after a moment, looking almost self-conscious.

 

“THE BEST RANK THAT OUR MAGIC CAN MAKE IS C-GRADE FOR SANS AND B-GRADE FOR MYSELF,” Papyrus adds, with a very similar look of self-pity on his face.

 

“Well, that’s okay. I’m sure that will help enough?” You sigh, thinking for a moment before asking. “But what about me, is there anything I can do to produce magic?”

 

“No,” Sans says, voice abruptly sharp. You look to him in confusion.

 

“HUMANS CANNOT MAKE ANY MAGIC, IT APPEARS THAT THE MAGE SPECIES WERE THE ONLY NON-MONSTERS WHO COULD USE MAGIC.” Papyrus is quick to say in reassurance. “THERE ARE NO WAYS THAT HUMANS CAN CREATE GREEN. YOU SIMPLY DO NOT HAVE THE EVOLUTIONARY TRAIT TO DO SO.”

 

“Oh I see-” You're cut off as the doorbell buzzes. Blinking in surprise, you quickly stand up and glance down at your phone. There's a notification glaring up at you, reading 'package delivered’. “Huh, speaking of identification cards, I think that I just got mine right now.”

 

“THEY JUST DELIVER IT TO YOUR DOOR?” Papyrus asks. “ JUST LIKE THAT?”

 

“Yeah, pretty much. I've got no criminal record, never done anything publicly indecent so stuff like this gets dropped off without much fuss.” You smile at them both. “Good behavior goes a long way in this society. I'll be right back.”

 

You quickly cut through your office before meeting up with the hallway before heading left to get to your front door. It doesn't take too long for you to get everything open, and you carefully reach down to pick up the thin cardboard box off of your welcome mat. The package is incredibly easy to open and your brand spanking new identification card rests comfortably in the palm of your hand.

It looks different than your driver's license. The card has a more holographic quality to it and is colored a dark grey that's almost black, the outside edges are colored white, and for some reason, you can't see anything else on it. Save for a rune-like symbol. It’s a circle that has two wings surrounding it, with three triangles beneath it, two of them are pointed upwards, while the one in the center points downwards.

You continue to turn it in your hands, and when your finger brushes the center of the circle you watch, transfixed as it abruptly flashes gold before fading. The black glass-like substance then glows blue. Your picture smiles up at you, and next to it you see a whole host of information from your full name to your weight.

It looks exactly like your average ID, but then the screen changes again. You blink down confused at the sight of… game stats?

HP. ATK. DEF. EXP.

Your LV is one, which you assume is probably a good thing, or it wouldn’t be on the card. Your HP is reasonably high, a grand total of 50/50. Your attack… isn’t all that much, considering that you only have your fists and legs, which results on 8 ATK. Your defense is one of the best stats, with a solid 40. You also have no EXP, though it tells you that you only need 15 EXP to reach the next LV.

Tapping on the acronym for LV you notice that you can’t actually view what it means, nor can you find what EXP means either. Only a [JUDGE] can. It does tell you that anyone with a LV higher than 1 is not allowed to enter the district without further psychological testing.

LV is probably something that you should avoid.

So you’ll avoid it with extreme prejudice.

Closing the door behind you, you quickly retreat back to the living room.

 

“Yeah, I got my ID. It looks pretty cool huh? ” You send them both a grin, excitement jolting through your body. But your smile then turns into a pensive frown.“Though, I do need to ask. What’s LV and EXP? The card won't tell me, it says that it needs a [Judge] to access it.”

 

Both of them glance over at each other, a look of mutual worry crosses their face alongside doubt. Were those two acronyms really so bad?

 

“LV IS-” Papyrus begins, before closing his jaw with a click, wincing as it jars his teeth.

 

“LV is an acronym, though most people call it love or- abbreviate it as LVE, It means Level of Violence,” Sans says quietly, a frown on his face and a feeling of horror grips your heart when his eye-socket goes a pitch-black and he reaches uu to start scratching at his cheekbone. “ A way of measuring someone's capacity to hurt. The more you kill, the easier it becomes to distance yourself. The more you distance yourself, the less you will hurt. The more easily you can bring yourself to hurt others...”

 

“EXP IS EXECUTION POINTS. WHEN YOU KILL A HUMAN OR MONSTER.... YOU ARE GRANTED EXP ON THE MOMENT OF THEIR DEATH. THE MORE EXP YOU ACQUIRE... THE MORE YOUR LV RISES.” Papyrus continues as his brother trails off.

 

“Ah. It is bad then.” You reply quietly. “Thought so.”

 

“WHY DID YOU THINK THAT.... LV WAS BAD? DID SOMEONE.... CLUE YOU IN?” Papyrus asks you, his eye-lights sharp and alert.

 

“Well, I’m no longer a child, for one thing.” A tiny smile crosses your face, but it’s anything but amused or happy. “Typically in video games, My level would be very high because I earn ‘XP’ or ‘Experience Points’ which would increase my ‘LV’ or ‘Level’.”

 

“you have a different set?” Sans looks like he’s just had an epiphany. You just wonder why.

 

“Yeah, going by video game logic. LV is Level. HP is Health Points or Hit Points. ATK is Attack. DEF is  Defence.  EXP or XP is Experience.” You recite, listing them off on your fingers. “Some games are different, and have hidden stats, but it really depends on the game. The ones I just said are the general ones.”

 

“...I SEE.” Papyrus said after a moment. His eye-lights flicker in the manner akin to a slow blink.

 

“no wonder…” Sans mumbles looking lost in thought.

 

“Anyway, so LV and EXP are bad. Got it.” You take a deep breath and sigh. “Alright, I think I’m gonna head off to the monster side of things. I’ve got some more tomato soup in the pantry. Sans, I assume you know how to use a microwave?”

 

“of course i do.” Sans responds, looking slightly miffed. “it mighta been a bit since we’ve had electricity-”

 

“Juuust checking. Anyway, foods in the fridge and you guys can eat whatever.” You reply. “I’ll try to be home around six, but I may return later so there’s no need to freak out.”

 

“ARE… ARE YOU SURE THAT YOU WILL BE SAFE?” Papyrus asks, concerned and you quickly nod.

 

“Yeah. I got some pepper spray, and if I need to I can just use my keys as improvised brass knuckles.” You say with a snort. “I also have a few years of self-defense under my belt, so I’ll be fine. Trust me.”

 

“OKAY. BUT… IF YOU DO GET IN TROUBLE, YOU WILL CALL YOUR HOME PHONE TO LET US KNOW?” Papyrus continues, somehow looking even more stressed.

 

“Of course I will.” You gently reach up and give his skull a gentle caress, to which his trembles a little and nuzzles his face into your hands. “I promise.”

 

“ya promise?” Sans echoes, a sudden vulnerability in his eye.

 

“Of course, I may not make promises all that often, but when I do…” You trail off before sending Sans a wide grin “I never break them.”

 

“that’s good.” He sighs.

 

Taking your hand away from Papyrus, who whines a little at the loss of contact, you take your jacket from where you had draped it over the back of a chair in your kitchen. You quickly put it on, zipping up the front and grabbing your keys off of where they hang on a mount with several other sets of keys. One for the shed out back, the other for the greenhouse, and the final set to where your parents still live.

You resolutely ignore the ones that belong to your childhood home.

Shutting the door that leads to the garage behind you. You hop into your BMW and click the button that causes your garage door to open.

Taking a calming breath, you glance out of your windshield and notice Sans standing nervously at the door. His blanket is still wrapped around his shoulders, making him look so much smaller than he actually is. You send him a bright grin, waving at him excitedly before looking behind your shoulder and carefully back out of your garage.

You’ve got some work to do, and some skeletons to heal.

You feel-

(Hope, compassion, rage, justice, integrity, so many emotions. Who are you, really?)

 -Determined.

 

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

identity

 


 

 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold usually represents a language other than English being spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.

<ENCLOSED, BOLDED AND UPPERCASE INDICATE A SIGNED LANGUAGE>

 


 

You couldn't help the feeling of apprehension building up in your body the closer you got to the base of the mountain.  

Maybe it was excitement.

Maybe it was the terror.

But when it came down to your anxiety, it was hard to tell which was which. The sun was finally peeking through the clouds again, the snow a bright harsh white compared to the dark pitch of the asphalt. You haven't even been driving for all that long, and your eyes are already hurting from the glare. So you pull over and rifle through your glove compartment for sunglasses. You frown a little when you notice the sheer amount of recipes and other miscellaneous objects that’s been shoved into the box.

You really oughta clear it out sometimes because it's hard to find anything in there. It takes way longer for you to find your sunglasses than it should have been, wedged between the drivers manual and a few sheets of insurance papers. They look stylish with their golden rims and reflective blue lenses.

You slide them on, and you can imagine your [DF] increasing.

 


[Stylish Sunglasses]

[Too cool to hurt!]

[+5 DF.]


 

You snicker in amusement at the mental image. Like you said earlier, you're hilarious. Seeing how you're no longer getting blinded by the white of the snow, you glance over to your side mirrors and flip on your left turn signal before rejoining traffic. You've got skeletons to help after all!

They depend on you.

The closer you get to the monster district, the more forested it becomes until you reach a gated area. A chill races up your spine at the sight of armed soldiers standing there at the gates. Though, the feeling quickly fades as a smile suddenly crosses your face. You recognize one man standing near the entrance. Next to him is one if the K-9 dogs, Baxter, sitting loyally beside him, a dopey doggy grin on his muzzle. The only reason why you even remember the pup is due to Trevor always chittering about him on Chirp. Otherwise, literally, everything else was classified.

Time for the classical friendship greeting.

 

"EY, BITCH!”

 

Nailed it.

Rolling down your window, you can't help but holler loudly at him. “Bro! I didn't know that they stationed you here!"

Trevor, who looked internally and externally bored- which isn't a surprise to you considering that Trev's always been a man of action -jolts considerably out from his bored body language at the sound of your voice.

For his five or so years in the military, it shows that he’s gotten more disciplined. Seeing that he immediately didn’t try to plaster himself against the driver's side window like the huge nerd he usually was.

 

“WHOAAA! YO! FIGHTER!”

 

Well, you can’t get rid of all the party in Trevor “Wild Card” Corbin. And yes, there’s a story behind that nickname. Though, now’s not the time to get into that mess of a story. Maybe at a later day though.

 

An excited puppy-like grin crosses his entire face, brown eyes- though you swear that he didn't have that bright blue ring around his pupils, some new contacts maybe? -crinkling at the edges as he bounces on his heels in excitement. “Holy fuck man, I haven’t seen you in real life in ages!”

 

Fighter.

Man, that takes you back to when you were in goddamn Monterey Heights Middle School all the way in California. "Fighter" had been your nickname when you were younger, back in the old days when you didn't have a chronic sleepwalking disorder and when you were upset and fiercely confrontational.

Nowadays, when people bring that you up you can’t help but feel anything but embarrassment. It’s not like you were exactly proud of the fact that you’d beat up other kids on the weekly and rarely got in trouble for it because you had been that sneaky. Surprisingly enough, it wasn’t your parent's fault that you had been such a troublemaker as a kid.

Kids just weren't nice sometimes, and being seen as the “weird” kid of the bunch made it all the worse. For some reason, other kids didn’t like interacting with you. They found your little personality quirks, such as your tendency to correct things instantly when they were wrong, how it would seem like you’d be emotionless one moment, and then too emotional the next, as off-putting and strange and was quickly ousted.

Your great-grandmother Amber said that her best friend had the same problem, and they were viciously mocked for their appearance and way of speaking. Amber had been born in the late Screaming '20s of the 21st century, now that modern medicine, technology, and medicinal technology had gotten so advanced over the years, the life expectancy of nearly every country had absolutely shot through the roof.

Back then, the average life expectancy was around 70~75 years. If you desired (and had enough funds) to exist for longer, you could easily make it past 200. Of course, that usually meant there was either cloning of body parts and organs involved or advanced cybernetic augmentations to a person’s body.

(It had gotten to the point where you had people moving to Luna and Mars to accommodate the increasingly longer-living humans. Yes. Martians and Lunarians are a thing. Surprise. You recall that there are talks about further colonization efforts on other moons. You try not to think of the implications of interplanetary war.)

You always knew her as "GGma Ammy," she found your cute nickname for her absolutely hilarious, "Sounds like Gee Gee Ma, gosh it's been such a long time since I've heard that!". Ammy was proud of the fact that she was, by her words "a crazy old relic." While most of your family members were content with their lives, she wanted to see everything that the world had to offer. Which meant that she was quite, ancient by current societies’ standards. Her body had been more robot than human, after all, when you’re over 200 years old, some things had to give and the cloning of body parts was expensive. Also, she thought that being a cyborg was cool.

Despite her openness, she didn't talk about her best friend all that much; apparently one day they had been so upset that they ran away one night and never returned. The two of them had been very close. They’d practically been siblings, and they had always worn a locket with a picture of two of them in it on one of the halves of the heart.

In a way, the fact that you were getting the same treatment as her best friends from a couple of centuries ago haunted her.

You can never forget the expression on her face when you told her at 8 years old that it seemed like everyone wanted you to die. Because why else would they be mean to you if it weren't for how you looked and acted- existed -and talked? She had been quick to deny your dark thoughts, and you remember the coldness of her cybernetic hands as she held your face in her palms, muttering soft words or encouragement.

 

"You gotta keep fighting chickie," Ammy cooed softly as she wiped the tears still dripping down your chubby cheeks. "The world's gonna keep trying to get you down, my brave little starling. But don't forget, no matter how many times they knock ya down, you need to get back up."

 

"But what if they keep hurting me? What if they don't stop GGma?" You sobbed, your small hands gripping her long green skirt. "What- what if they make end up like- Kho’ran’ha  -I don't want to disappear-"

 

"You won't, dear heart, not as long as you keep on fighting.”



“Promise me, sweetheart. You keep your chin up and smile through the pain. One day you'll meet people who'll fight alongside you. Until then keep on moving, scream, kick, put up a fight! Let them know that you’re too much trouble, and most importantly wait for them to throw the first punch with plenty of witnesses around."

 

And so you did.

You never forgot her words. Ammy had made an impact in your life, and even though she's been dead for over 12 years now.

(After she died, finally tired of her adventure, it almost seemed as if the mistreatment got steadily worse.)

From insults to how you spoke- the eloquent words that you learned from reading -and how you sometimes misspoke them because you’ve never heard them said before. To the off shade remarks about your hair and the like. It was only natural that you acted upon those words that your grandmother had told you of. You’d insult back, sometimes managing to insult the person back twice as worse. Fights never really happened on campus- in fact, you only brawled with people in middle school -but most of you made agreements to start fighting off of school grounds.

Trevor was one of the nicest kids back then, and he had been the only kid daring enough to approach you. Naturally, you had been suspicious at first. The last time someone tried to become your “friend” was so that you’d do all the work in group projects.

You still hate group projects to this day.

But to your surprise, Trevor really just wanted to be your friend. He admired how you never took shit from anyone, and while he appreciated your intelligence and artistic skills, he was more interested in the person behind the carefully crafted mask of indifference that you had built up around yourself.

It also helped that when he was being mistreated by one of your old bullies back in elementary, you had quickly laid the bastard flat on the floor with a single punch and ran away with Trevor, hand in hand, in order to escape the chances of getting caught by a teacher. (You both did get caught, and you got to spend time with Trevor and said bully you’d decked in detention for two weeks.) You honestly hadn’t expected Trevor to follow you around like a puppy after those weeks of sitting in Mrs. Natalie's classroom, but looking back on those memories filled you with an odd sort of fondness and you’re so glad that he’d stayed with you.

After 2-Weeks-Of-Hell Detention, he’d jokingly call you his “Knight in Shining Armor” from time to time. Of course, you found that absolutely hilarious and only slightly embarrassing. After you befriended Trevor (or did he befriend you?), you soon met the rest of the crew.

Alpheus Diamantes was the second out of your small group of best friends, funnily enough, shared the same birthday as Trevor. The two of them had practically been glued together at the hip, and it had amused you no end when it came to the casual trouble the guys had gotten into.

Ryan Corbin and Cassandra Noitamina had been met in your first year of high school. You’d only met Trevor and Al in the second year of middle school, so none of you guys were really surprised.

Cass was a transfer from the rival high school Meridian General, and she was one cool teen at that age. She was a big fan of the latest internet trends, listening to podcasts on the various online gamesphere, and knew about every single pop culture reference ever. It was a sharp contrast to Ryan, who was pretty much clueless with anything pop-culture.

Ryan was a whole two ass grades ahead of all of you and was somehow the most awkward, his greatest skill was his technical abilities. Something wrong with your phone? He could totally fix it if you give him a day or so. Your VisScreen is having a hard time processing audio? It’s probably something glitched in the coding, hand the chip over and he'll have it all sorted out in an hour or less. It was always cool to see him so focused when it came to fixing things.

Now, Ryan and Trevor weren’t true siblings, they had the same father but different mothers. You’d think that it would be a messy relationship, but it never turned into anything caustic or hostile. Basically, what you’re trying to get at is when you have a shit father who ran away after he was discovered cheating behind their backs, and two awesome moms who bonded over their shared hatred for said father, things tend to turn out alright.

It had surprised none of you that Trevor and Ryan had both gone into the army. The two of them had ended up in the same squad together, this is notable because it's rare that siblings end up in the same unit, much less at the corresponding posting. And it looks like his unit, The 41st Centurion Airborne, had gotten stationed at Ebbot.


"I've been here for years my guy." You reply, glancing around at the other assembled faces to try to spot Ryan in the crowd. Most of them seem amused to see Trevor chatting with you. You knew Trevor tended to be a little withdrawn, so this was probably a reasonably new experience. "Moved away from Cali two years ago, been here ever since. Where's your brother?"

 

"Rye-Bread's deeper into the district. One more stop and I'm pretty sure you'll see him." Trevor chuckles. "You do have your ID right? Even though we're buddies-"

 

"-still gotta obey the laws. Ironic considering how I used to be back then." You finish, sending him a cheeky wink. "Yeah, just got it…. I dunno, an hour ago. I figured that I'd drop by and see the sights."

 

"Cool, cool. Oh! I've got a recommendation for ya. You should stop by Grillby's." Trevor looks positively delighted to tell you this, borderline ready to rock back and forth on his heels in eagerness. "You like burgers that taste like sin? Then Grillby's is the place for great food!"

 

That's strange, the Trevor that you know hates greasy food. You remembered all those days in middle school and high school of your bestie picking at his food because of the greasiness and how he complained about the feeling of a film in his mouth. If they had chili days, it would always be you eating the portion of Trevor's food because it was simply too greasy. But that's valid since school lunch can be less than desirable.

 

"Who the hell are you and what have you done to my best buddy?" You ask in disbelief, and it takes all of your willpower to resist laughing when Trevor's face becomes filled with alarm.

 

"Whoa, wait, I'm still meeeee-" Trevor babbles, eyes wide in a false sense of alarm.

 

"I thought you didn't like burgers. Now I gotta check this out." You tease. "Where'd Mr. I-hate-grease disappear to?"

 

"He died when I joined the military," Trevor says solemnly. Momentarily taking his hat off to place it over where his heart would be and bowing his head deep in mock respect. "Rip I-hate-grease.”

 

"He was a good man," You agree with a dramatic false sob, causing Trevor to snort.



“Also, because the ‘grease’ in monster food sorta dissolves? So I’m not too bothered by it anymore." Trevor admits with a tiny, almost awed smile.

 

“Is that so?”



“Yeah, monster magic’s crazy- I can tell you more about it when I’m off duty.”



“Sounds like a plan to me.”

 

You're so glad that there's barely anyone trying to get into the district. It's mostly monster drivers that are leaving the confined area to do some exploring in the human cities. So there's no need for you to hurry, so you put on the parking brake and sit back for a lovely chat.

 

"Hey, Trey, is this the Fighter you're always talking about?" One female soldier chimes, an amused grin on her face. Her black hair is tied back into a serviceable bun and her eyes are an oddly bright seafoam green color, spark in delight at the sight of the friends’ reunions.

 

"Yeah! BB, this is Fighter. We got into so much shit when we were younger!" Trevor babbles excitedly, Baxter, picking up on his human companions' excitement, boofs loudly. "Fighter, this is BB, my girlfriend."

 

"I hope Trevor's not too much trouble, has he tried to speedball a can of Monster Energy and his pain meds yet?" You can't help but ask. Trevor sputters in embarrassment while BB cackles in delight. "If he has, well, heh, looks like we must have words eh?"

 

"Damn straight." She high fives you through your rolled-down window while Trevor groans loudly. Instantly regretting that the two of you had met. "So, why're you visiting the monster district?"

 

"I wanted to check stuff out, been wanting to in the past but I haven't had the chance since I've been so busy with school." You explain, before biting your lip nervously. "Is it okay for me to buy things and bring them home, or is there some clearance?"

 

BB pauses for a moment, humming softly. "You should be fine, the only thing we're seizing is monster alcohol and food. We're still getting that stuff indexed, but anything medicinal is fine."

 

"Yeah, the medicine, while reasonably expensive, is useful. There is a law on selling them outside of the monster district," Trevor confirms with a nod. "So just as long as you don't sell it for exorbitant fees without a license, you should be good."

 

"That's good to know, so any other advice you've got for me?" You continue, even though you're a little worried.

 

Miss Stone at the Stone Vase had given you a tube of the medicine. Did that mean she could get in trouble with the law? She hadn't charged you anything for it, so it didn't count as exorbitant fees. Maybe it's okay as long as it's gifted?

Oh god, you don't need this added stress.

 

"For now, it's best to stay on the Tale or Swap sides of the district. The Fell and Fallenswap groups are a little hostile still, so it's not that safe for anyone but military personnel to enter." Trevor tells you. "You can grab a map by the stop near Ryan. It'll highlight all the zones you can enter, and all the ones you should avoid. Also, try not to live up to your nickname."

 

"I've mellowed out since then Trey; you don't have to worry about me." You snicker. "Oh, and BB, try to make sure that Trey doesn't try to do too many heroics. Ryan will kill me."

 

"Ey, I'm not gonna do anything stupid!" Trevor complains in protest, and you, alongside six other nearby soldiers, send him a look. Naturally, he pouts. "I'm honest! My days of being an idiot are over!"

 

That gets a round of laughter from some of the assembled troops, causing Trevor to blush a little and scratch the back of his neck. It’s not mocking laughter but more like, yeah-fucking-right laughter. It makes you smile a bit to see an act of good camaraderie.

 

"Cough- bullshit -Cough" You- well, cough quickly. Just as you roll up the window, you hear poorly concealed giggling from several of the other personnel as Trevor glances at you affronted. Smiling cheekily at him, you make a texting motion as he goes to flip you off. He cocks his head to the side like a puppy before nodding.

 

The two of you still are friends on the Strife app, who knows, maybe the BB, Trevor, Ryan, and yourself can stop for lunch at Grillby's one day when you aren't in a rush.

 


 

Humming another one of your mindless tunes, you continue to make your way through the winding roads of Mount Ebbot. The scenery flashes by in vivid shades of gold and green emerald from the remaining leaves on the trees. Despite the snow in the city, due to Ebotton Island's strange weather patterns, the mountain lacks snow for the majority of the year.

You're sure that all Mount Ebbot got was rain. Lucky bastards.

You still have zero clues how it manages to do this, though you're tempted to say magic and call it a day.

Maybe you could ask Sans and Papyrus?

Despite the injury to Sans' skull, you can still see intelligence burning brightly in the crimson depth of his single eye-light. No matter how fuzzy it is at times.

Papyrus is also very smart, but that’s no surprise. From the way he talks and his bright eye-lights, it'd be stupid to think that he's anything less. You should buy him a book of puzzles like word searches or Sudoku. You have an odd feeling that he'd like that.

So they've gotta know about the weird machinations behind monster magic, it's practically in… whatever their equivalent of blood is.

Humming a little, you come upon a second gate. This one is different than the one that BB and Trev were holding the fort. Someone starts to wave you forward, and you perk up at the sight of Trevor's older brother, Ryan. It looks like Trevor radioed ahead to let him know.

The best way to describe Ryan is one part suburban white dad, and one part mass murderer. He's quite tall, with dirty blonde hair and bright blue eyes, and built like a truck. To the ones he's had to face off against in the field, he's their worst nightmare. But to you, he was like a dorky elder brother. After all, a guy who likes to cuddle kittens and take care of stray cats while cooing over them, you can’t imagine him being cruel in reality.

 

You pull up to the gate as Ryan sends you a slightly exhausted grin. "Hey there Rye-Bread, you look tired, been having a rough week?"

 

"Eh, hey (Y/N), If you could call it that," Ryan responded as he held out his hand. With little fanfare, you placed your ID card into his hand, and he passed it to one of the officers in the nearby window box. "We've been dealing with minor scuffles between the fell monsters and humans."

 

"I heard, Trey said that you could give me a map highlighting all of the areas I should avoid?" You ask, and Ryan nods. "No one's been hurt yet?"

 

"Nah, we've had some close incidents, but Captain Obsidian and Charybdis have helped break up any conflicts," Ryan explains, he takes back the card from the other officer who looks a little nervous at Ryan, and you have to resist the urge to snicker. "If you ever find yourself in trouble, look for a tall skeleton decked out in black armor and a fishwoman with a bright-red fin for hair."

 

A fishwoman with a bright-red fin? "That's not Undyne?"

 

Ryan's expression becomes a little pinched at the mention of your new friends' name; he exhales slowly as he passes back your card. "No, but that's very close. You've met Undyne recently?"

 

"Yeah, I was working out at the local gym, and I met Undyne and Thrash." You mutter, and scratch at the back of your neck a little awkwardly as you place your ID card back into your wallet. "They're… interesting."

 

"Ah, then you must be the human that they were talking about. I thought that I recognized your description." Ryan sighs a little, and that's when you notice the bright red ring around his pupil, stark in the vivid blue of his eyes.

 

For once, a chill races up your spine. Something about the color puts you on edge, and you have to resist the urge to speak up about it. You fail miserably. "Hey, Rye?"

 

"Hm?" He glances over at you, the red glittering ominously.

 

<NEW CONTACTS?> You pantomime a circle around your iris and curl your finger slightly.  Something tells you that using the <SIGNAL> gesture-sign would be the best approach to this. When you were younger, back in the days when you were all just young kids against the world with the five of you, Ryan, Trevor, Al, Cass and yourself came up with your own unique set of hand signs. You all agreed to call it <SIGNAL> out of honor of your old clans back when you played DND.

 

The reaction you get is enough to make your heartbeat stutter as ice drips down your spine. You've never seen Ryan turn that color of white before. Ever. What the hell had you just stumbled on?

 

<CANT TALK. EARS LISTENING. DISCUSS LATER> Ryan signed. It's a bit like ASL in the sense that it's a signed language, the difference is that it's pretty much unnoticeable with its subtle hand gestures, tapping, and facial cues with slight variations.

 

You run your hand through your hair and fiddle with the sunglasses, before grinning at him. <UNDERSTOOD! TALK OVER STRIFE>

 

<YES. MAYBE AT FIRE-RESTAURANT> Ryan signed back, utilizing the gesture of fire. It takes a moment for you to realize that he's talking about Grillby's. You can only nod.

 

"What was my description? Nothing too bad I hope?" You ask like nothing even happened.

 

"Reckless for one; that's one thing you haven't lost." Ryan snorted a tired grin spanning across his face. "They also mentioned your attempts at beating the ever-loving shit out of the punching bags, your jacket, and your honesty. Monsters like Undyne and Thrash appreciate that."

 

Honesty. The word causes your happy smile to twitch at the edges. You lied to them earlier about coming to Ebott. When it came to situations like this, your [LOYALTY] beat out your [INTEGRITY]. Ryan, the beautiful bastard, always was an observant person. You appreciated his attention to detail, but not when he noticed your little cues.

 

"Did you have to lie to them?" He asks, and you can only nod miserably. "The others, are they in danger or are more important?"

 

You nod again and sigh a little, resisting the urge to trace small anxious circles on the steering wheel of your car. "And like, you know how much I hate lying. I just-"

 

"Then they'll understand when you come clean." Ryan sent you a reassuring smile. "They won't be angry at you if you lied to protect someone. Trev and I understood after The Big Fight."

 

You wince a little at the reminder that caused you to finally muster the courage to leave the nest but take a few calming breaths, and Ryan sends you a look full of apologies. "It’s fine, uh- Could you do some research for me? Howling Wolf Coalition. 7265736574 dash charlie echo foxtrot."

 

"Howling Wolf Cowl-Koala-shit- Coalition invests in hunting gear, right?" Ryan asks, momentarily stumbling over the word coalition and you nod in acknowledgment. "Any reason why you need this researched?"

 

"Trespassers have been putting up traps in the forest behind my house. I've got 24 acres of land, and I'll need to know what I'm dealing with before I even think about setting foot in there again." You explain as calmly as you can. You fail again, because anger ignites hotly in your chest, insides feeling like they're burning red.

 

[The golden eye in the blackness illuminates the pitch dark, and for a moment a ring of shifting blue and orange joins the gilded circle. A low humming sound reverberates through the dark space.]

 

Upon seeing your anger, Ryan’s expression hardens a little. He knows just how important your home is for you. In a way, since one of his best buddies is getting some trouble, he’d be willing to do anything for you. "I'll do what I can, send Trey and I the number over Strife and we'll see what we can pull up for you."

 

"Thanks, Rye-Bread! You're such a life-saver."

 

"And if ever you need any help with intimidation, just give me a call, and I can stand all menacingly behind you while you rip into the bastards like the raptor you are."

 

"Pfft, I think that I'm scary enough. I used to kick so much ass, and, and you know that! You were there!"

 

"Well, now you look like a marshmallow. All soft ‘n squish. Meanwhile, I'm the one who looks like a mass murdering psychopath."

 

"Hey! I am not a marshie, and you don't look like a serial murderer. You look like a suburban white dad!"

 

"I'm. Offended. You have deeply wounded me."

 

"Suffer Ryan. I'll tap dance on your grave."

 

"Ouch. Harsh. I cannot believe that we are friends. After all this time, you've revealed your true intentions."

 

"We're getting off topic! So, you know the city more than I do, do you know any places that sell medicinal stuff?"

 

"Yes… why?"

 

"My sleepwalking has been kicking my ass, and I keep accidentally hurting myself."

 

Ryan exhales a little, before pulling activating his VisScreen. A VisScreen is a projector construct made out of solid particles that can be interacted with in real-time, similar to holograms in those old sci-fi movies back then. They usually are accompanied by various other apps. Ryan's, however, is military-grade and has been melded into a special wrist band filled with a variety of other tech. From his wrist, the screen activates with a hum, showing an incredibly detailed map of the entirety of the monster district.

Each section is lit up in a different color, denoting them as separate areas. Despite this obvious disconnect, you realize that each section is pretty much the same size and space.

 

"Alright, In the tale district, that's the one highlighted in blue, look for Muffet's Pastry Parlour which is near the crossroads between all four of the main sections,” Ryan informs, tapping on the screen with his index finger and one of the buildings light up yellow, a brief message scrolling across labeling the monster who work there and what their job is. “She's got some decent discounts, and she's Dr. Morpha's cousin, so she gets them cheaper."

 

"Huh." That’s good to know.

 

"Another alternative is Tuffet's, which is in the Swap sector highlighted in Cyan. Both of them have decently low rates." Ryan continues, tapping on the other store and you mentally note their locations. The four sections colors go clockwise. The sector flagged “FELL” is in bright red in the upper left. To the right of Fell is a section in an almost toxic purple is flagged “FALLEN”. Below Fallen is the cyan area labeled “SWAP.” To the left of “SWAP” is the blue section titled “TALE.”

 

The names of them are a bit odd to you. Like the mystery between the malnourishment of your skeletons, and some of the weird coincidences you’ve been noticing.  So you once again add them to the mental folder you’re now simply calling “Conspiracy.”

 

"Whoa, that’s pretty awesome! Thanks a lot, Rye, you’re a lifesaver." You can’t help but grin at the slightly flustered expression you get in response. Dork.

 

"You're welcome, now get a move on; you're holding up traffic," Ryan says curtly, and for a moment you wonder if he’s just trying to hide his flusteredness.

 

You glance over your shoulder but spot no other vehicles. It's then that you glance over at the clock and quickly realized that it's almost noon. Ryan’s always been a bit punctual about things. "Ey, there’s no traffic. You're just hungry. You utter nut."

 

Ryan rolls his eyes and crosses his arms. The look he gives you afterward is filled with so much disappointment, that you can help but giggle nervously. "You don't know me."

 

"Youuuuuuu," You tease, sending him a cheeky grin. "Should schedule a date that Trev and his GF and your BF can meet up at Grillby's so we can all catch up."

 

"Just text over Strife," Ryan grunts a little, smiling fondly. "You're all set, run free, let the bulls into the china shop."

 

"Let the dogs out, go hog wild, go apeshit bananas, let loose the goose." You babble as many analogies that you can make up off the top of your head. It gets another chuckle from Ryan, and you finally start your vehicle up once more. "Alright, I'll see you on the far side. Have a good rest of your day!"

 

"Have a good rest of my day, they say, " Ryan grumbles as he stalks off back to his post. "Oh, I'll have a good day alright."

 

You pity the officer that's stationed with Ryan. The poor guy looks like he's about to have a heart attack.

Humming that mindless tune to yourself like you always do. You take a moment to use your phone to scan the map. It chimes after a moment before it lets you know that the process is complete. Since technology has developed so much, phones could now scan new maps and reconfigure them to the old one which would update the information with the more faster routes. You were good at directions, but you never really visited this part of the island before, so it's all new territory to you.

You just hope that you manage to avoid Undyne and the others. You're not quite emotionally ready to face them just yet. 

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

contempo

 


 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold usually represents a language other than English being spoken.

Bold italics is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.

<ENCLOSED, BOLDED AND UPPERCASE INDICATE A SIGNED LANGUAGE>

 


 

 

Like always, you manage to find your way into a shitty situation. You parked your BMW at the beginning of the Tale district, deciding that exploring the city on foot would be a more exciting experience. All the monsters that you've encountered on your leisurely stroll had been very friendly and welcoming once it was evident that you meant no harm.

You've seen a vast arrange of monsters already, and it hasn’t even been an hour yet, from timid insects that gave of a shimmering light similar to that of a firefly, to a whole colony of bunny monsters in varying colors. You swore that you saw a buff draconic-like monster holding hands with an equally buff bunny, but you didn't stop to gawk. You were on somewhat of a time crunch after all.

The city was much more colorful than any human-made capital. The buildings were all painted in some fashion, with colors that were chaotic but somehow meshed together in a way that wasn't blinding. You think you prefer it to the dull and lifeless grays of cities like New York or Ebotton Square.

Unfortunately for you, you must've taken a wrong turn because you should have been near Muffet's, according to your calculations. But when you glance down at your map, you realized with growing dread that you had stumbled your way into the Fallenswap sector — the one marked in a poisonous purple.

Unlike Tale's section of the district, the Fallenswap side was all grays and dull colors, a stark contrast to the colorful world of the opposite area. Almost everywhere, there were banners and flags mounted onto light poles, draped from the sides of the buildings. On the large pieces of purple fabric was a symbol embossed in silver thread, a diamond in between ragged bat-wings and three sideways diamonds.

The whole place almost reminded you of some military regime; the symbol was everywhere.

You had barely even managed to say a mental "Goddamn it." Before you find yourself cornered by a group of rather deadly looking rabbit monsters. Unlike the bunnies in Tale, these guys seemed more feral, their coats more ragged and teeth dagger-sharp.

Honestly, the idea of monsters attacking in a manner that was eerily similar to Touhou levels of bullet-hell bullshittery would have never even crossed your mind. 

Some weird barrier had formed around you, and your world fell into an odd blackness. You could see the surrounding city illuminated in lines of dark purple while the monsters themselves suddenly became gray-scale black and white. If you had been anyone else, you most likely would have tried to run away and gotten shot in the back by whatever magical bullets they attempted to summon at you. But you weren't anyone else, and it looks like years of casual training and working on your speed, skill, and stamina in the gym has finally paid off.

You idly sidestep past a barrage of white pellets, ducking under a flying kick from one of the larger rabbits, and hop over a low smattering of dull red stars. Dodging these sorts of attacks was almost laughably easy. The monsters had a bad habit of telegraphing their moves, so it was nearly effortless to stay one step ahead of the attacking rabbit horde.

Whenever you moved, the shaded barrier seemed to follow you as you carefully kept an eye on the angry monsters. Judging by their body language, they didn't look like they were much for conversation.

But you would not lose here.

You have people depending on you.

 You [REFUSE] to lose.

 

 


 

 

[IRON WILL - STAT EFCT]

Your [AT] and [DF] has increased by 64%.

 


 

(Y/N)  - LV 1

HP: null

ATK: 25 » 41 (+64% increase)  

DEF: 45 » 73.8 (+64% increase)

*Determined.

*Has a mission to fulfill.

 


 

A few of the monsters withdrawal from the fight at the sight of the sudden increase of your stats. Maybe it was the dull red that suddenly appeared in your eyes, glinting behind the lens of your glasses, or how suddenly the darkness of the fight suddenly became deeper, darker. A sneer scrawls itself across your face, and you take a calming breath of air in through your nose and out through your mouth. 

Seeing as the surrounding barrier would expand, it was highly likely that this confrontation could shatter the bounding box by evading and dodging the rabbits through the city. It was a risky idea, however, as other monsters with different magic abilities could also join in on the fight.

This whole situation would take nearly everything you had: your intelligence, your analytics, speed, and your dexterity. One wrong move could spell your end.

Sans and Papyrus depend on you. You cannot afford a mistake here.

You allow that sneer to morph into an unsettling grin that bares all of your teeth; you wield your smile like a weapon. This feral leer spreading across your face contained zero humor and promises pain. A few of the weaker ones take a step back, and an almost animalistic noise rips itself from your teeth in response. It's almost funny to watch those look at you in fear.

However, you're not here to fight. Shifting your foot back, you make it look like you're about to attack one of the weaker ones and abruptly rushed forwards, your grin murderous. The rabbit's eyes widen, and they scramble back, giving you the opening you need. Bodily slamming them to the side as you pass, sliding on by, you abruptly switch courses and sprint off into the adjacent street.

Like you thought earlier, the barrier tries to surround you, but since it’s not strong enough (or they don't expect people to be fast enough to get away), with a sound reminiscent of a sledgehammer through sheet glass. The box shatters. The sudden shift from blackspace to real-time colors would’ve been disorienting, but since you’re still wearing your sunglasses it doesn’t bother you that much when everything goes to normal.

 

“Chance ya fuckin’ idiot! You didn’t put up the fuckin’ [DT] bound barrier! How many times ‘ave I fucking-” You can’t help it, and you snicker a little as you hear one of the ringleader rabbits snarls at one of his others.

 

“Fuck you Dera, if ya’re too upset about, why doncha do it yourself you fuckin’ mangy prick!”

 

“Eat my ass-!”

 

It looks like they had expected you to get cornered in that alley, so it was likely that they rarely needed to put up a barrier with that tactic. Unfortunately for the rabbits, you could still think and not panic in the face of adversity, especially when you're so determined.

Keeping your breathing steady, in through your nose and out through your mouth, you set up a fast pace, fully aware that these rabbit monsters could run fast and had high maneuverability. This is always why you wear sneakers because heels are dangerous and should never be trusted. Flats too, you hate running in those.

Grimacing, you increase your speed and quickly jump over several trash cans with ease, before continuing with your determined sprint through the city streets. You can feel the sweat starting to build upon your forehead, and the heavy snow parka makes it seem almost as if you were starting to light up on fire. You'd shrug it off, but judging by the fifteen seconds or so after jumping over the cans (you heard cursing as one of them clatters to the ground) you do not have any time to do so as they’re still on your tail. Gritting your teeth, you continue resolutely forwards. 

Hurriedly, you ignore the fact that due to the high-speed chase that you are in, it is catching the attention of other monsters. You roll your eyes at the jeering and continue to keep your eyes out in case you spot any of the armored figures. So far, you're not having any luck. You have to sidestep a few monsters who try to trip you, sneering a little as they do so. Another monster abruptly grabs you by the arm, cackling in twisted delight as they try to force you to stop.

You're not going to take this standing. 

Spinning around until you back facing the monster, You twist and rotate the other’s extended arm holding them in a firm if not bruising grip. With an offended snarl, you focus on throwing all of your weight and bodily flips the fucker over your shoulder. They hit the ground with an audible smacking sound, momentarily dazed. Something else smacks into the back of your skull, sending a brief jolt of pain through your skull. 

You whirl around, spotting a another monster that looked like an odd cross between a peacock and a hawk, whiffing a distracting punch beside the bird-monsters head, before abruptly pulling the limb back until the back of their head and neck is resting in the crook of your elbow, gripping them into a chokehold before spinning around and promptly slamming them into the path of the approaching rabbits.

Now that’s all taken care of and a minor distraction of flailing limbs, you resume your sprint. You can't help but feel immensely satisfied with yourself when other monsters quickly step and stumble to get out of your way. The unsettling smile on your face probably has something to do with it; You can feel it pulling at your cheeks, baring your teeth into a fierce, if not malicious, grin.

You launch yourself over yet another set of trash cans, idly knocking one of them rolling behind you. You notice that the street is starting to become less crowded the deeper you go into the Fallenswap District. Taking a glance behind yourself, you see that some of the rabbits are gone. The remaining fifteen, which is better than the twenty-five previous rabbits, are still in hot pursuit. One with a noticeable limp, but too angry to care about the injury. A few even look wary, which is a bit strange to you. Some are visibly side-eyeing the leader, the most giant and scruffiest rabbit with the ash-white fur and red eyes, in something that looks almost like fear.

It looks like some of them aren't so sure of their leader's integrity huh? Seeing how everyone's so wary of this area of the city, you might as well continue deeper in. Taking a few more calming breaths, you ignore the burning in your limbs, the icy cold, and soreness of your throat from breathing in too hard and fast-

-You slam face-first into someone taller than you, knocking the unknown and yourself to the ground in a tangle of limbs. The person groans in pain, and in your sheer adrenaline riddled mind causes your everything to go haywire. You can hear the rabbits getting closer, with their mocking jeers as they realize that they’re making ground. The guy that you’ve knocked over is not having a fun time, so your panic riddled psyche decides to- well--

 

--it decides that the best course of action is to grab the guy in a bridal carry and for you to sprint off with him in your arms as you spit out a litany of curses. "Fuckity, Fuck, fucking, fuckitty fucking fuck-"

 

"quite a mouth ya got on you." The person's lanky arms grip securely around your neck, which is kind of surprising. If you were in his position, you would've straight outpunched the person in the nose. He's breathing a little heavily in an aborted attempt to ignore whatever pain he's feeling. 

 

"where're we goin'?" He asks, chuckling breathlessly, his voice is like smoked honey mixed with an accent that you can’t quite place. 

 

"I-" You gasp for breath, not even breaking pace. "Am so so fucking sorry- didn't see you there- too busy running for my life."

 

"whaddya do to piss ‘em off?" You finally decide to take a glance down at your accidental abductee, and it takes everything ounce of willpower not to trip over your own feet because fuck yourself, you're carrying the dead ringer for the wolf keilaise. The skeleton- despite the humor in his voice -is sweating. Translucent persimmon dripping down the contours of his skull, expression strained.

 

He's missing his entire lower jaw, and there's massive scarring on the bone from where the mandibles used to connect to the skull indicating that the whole thing had been ripped off at one point. In its place is a sturdy metal prosthetic with wicked-looking teeth. Somehow, the metal is moveable in an oddly fluid way.

Magic maaaaan.

 

"I didn't actually- do anything? I was trying to find someone in Swap, or was it Tale? F’cuck I can’t remember- Doesn't matter- but took a wrong turn and- got cornered in an alley-" You can scrutinize him more once you find some assistance. "And now I'm being chased by angry rabbits." 

 

"didja get the name of the main guy?" The skeleton asked, and you hum distractedly as your spin on your heel, catching a few trash cans with the flat of your foot, and send them rolling towards the colony, smirking a little at the cursing you get. Honestly, they should recognize your tactics by now.

 

"Dera? I think. Someone messed up a barrier and got yelled at." You snicker a little but feel a little bad. "-though I think they do this all the time since the other guy blundered the barrier again, causing big buff rabbit boyo to- hhhh - get maaaaad."

 

The skeleton chuckles a little bit, the sound a little raspy. "lookin' for a royal guardsman by any chance?" His voice is genuinely curious.

 

"Yeah, that'd be- ghhuk - great, I'd put you down but- I'm not sure if they're gonna hurt you or not since they'll probably assume that we're working together." You say quickly, ducking into an alleyway and rerouting yourself through the maze-like configurations, hopefully, you'll miss any dead ends. "cuz they don't seem to be all that bright-"

 

The skeleton chuckles again, laughter still strained slightly, and he grips you tighter. "yeh, that'd prolly be for the best- take another right, and then two left turns- you'll understand when ya see it.”

 

You decide to put your trust in the skeleton, the ones you've met so far have been helpful or kind, so why would he be any different? 

(If he tries anything, you'll toss him to the rabbits). 

Obeying his directions, you take a right turn, quickly side-strafing as a myriad of bullet attacks impact against the wall in a threatening display of sparking electricity that you had just been standing in front of, before taking the two left turns.

Sprinting out of the alleyways, you find yourself standing in the middle of the street, on the opposite sidewalk there is a large fenced in sort of area. It's a massive courtyard with plenty of trees and rolling hills of bright green, surrounded by the tall buildings of the city. Like one of those extremely fancy garden squares that you'd see in the movies with the delicate flowers and the hedge maze. Usually, it would be pretty to look at, but you can't appreciate it since you are currently occupied by trying not to get straight-up murdered.

What a fuckin’ week. 

 


 

 

You notice that one building stands out among the rest, unlike the typical gray of the city, this larger building that's set up in the main square made out of stone in the color of cast iron. The flags that hang down from the sides of the buildings are fancy compared to the rest, the hems embossed in gold filaments, while silvers wreaths through the purple fabric in Lichtenberg figures, or the gnarled branches of some ancient tree. The symbol stands proudly out in a white thread, brighter than the silver and gaunt on the dusky purple. 

It looks official so maybe-

 

"Is this the place that I'm supposed to know when I see it?" You question breathlessly as you dart through the courtyard gates with your arms full of a bony skeleton. 

 

The quickest way to get through that building is through the courtyard, and if you play your cards right, you can use the bushes to set the guy down and regain your stamina. Meanwhile, the rabbits will expect you to hide within the maze. Hopefully.

 

"yep," The skeleton says, relaxing a little at the sight of the structure. "that's where my bro works.” 

 

Sprinting with whatever energy you have left, you dart through the gate and into the forested area. Your breathing is coming out in stuttered inhales, and it honestly feels like your heart is about to explode out of your chest. Doing occasional glances behind you to make sure that you've given the rabbits plenty of space, you hunker down in a place that is hopefully not too obvious. 

Now that you've slowed down and ceased running, the adrenaline has worn down. You’ve probably run miles by this time, and as proud as you are of your progressively better exercise habits, you are not built for long-distance running. All you want to do is lie down and pass out. Limbs trembling, you duck behind one of the trees, even as you hear the sounds of the rabbit horde spreading out through the yard. You set the skeleton down carefully onto the grassy floor, before crouching in place, pushing your sunglasses up onto the top of your head as you try to regain your breath. Honestly, it’s a miracle that they haven’t fallen off and had gotten crushed yet.

Tilting your head up slightly to give your airways less of a bend to go through, your breathing quickly starts to slow back to normal. You keep the cycle of in through your nose and out through your mouth until the fierce sensation of your heart beating furiously behind your sternum waned. Sighing mutely, you take a moment to finally sit down and rub your calves with your hands, wincing at the tightness in your muscles. You kind of wished that you could've done some stretches earlier in the day because you can practically feel the upcoming cramping. But you never expected your day to have a goddamn chase scene equivalent of a shitty b-rate movie.

The sound of texting catches your attention, the subtle click-clacking of bone against glass. You take a look at the unnamed skeleton, and you notice that he's typing quickly to someone. Taking a chance with this little break, you quietly observe the guy in full. Aside from the damaged jaw, his left eye has scarring, almost as if some had cut him with a knife. The slash mark goes down vertically from mid-forehead, bisecting the center and ending at his upper cheek. Seeing how worn and smooth the bone is around the slash, it's an old injury. The upper incisor teeth have been replaced by gold ones, and when the wind stirs up the leaves and allows rays of the sun to shine through, they glint orange.

Everything he's wearing is in the dark shades of the city around him. From the dark charcoal and grey jacket with soft dulled-orange fur on the insides of the hood to the tight-fitting black sweatpants with two thick silver lines going down the outer seam. His undershirt is more like a turtleneck, in the same color of purple that is all over the place on the flags. The only things that stick out the most are the collar around his neck that almost reminded you of a choker, the color a bright, vivid orange with a silver dog tag with something engraved in gold. 

Come to think about it, a lot of the rabbits had the collars on too. Only, the color of their collars was a dull red. Your brain whirls as it comprehends this information. Maybe the collars were color-coordinated, like something similar to those human gangs? If that was the case, then the collars showed which allegiance they belonged to or who they were aligned with.

You sure hope so at least.

 

"Who are you texting?" You ask, voice soft and barely audible to not attract any attention. Luckily, the sound of the wind rustling the leaves of the trees and bushes is enough to practically drown you out. 

 

The skeleton jolts a little and stares at you with wide eye-lights, obviously not expecting you to speak to him. It's then that you realize that this eye-lights are mismatched in colors. The left with the scar is the color of blue raspberry or the bright cyan of a clear sky. The right is rich yet dark blue, almost ultramarine. Your fingers twitch, and you sigh mentally because now is not the time for wanting to draw a guy that you literally just carried through a city in a fit of panic. "uh, textin' my bro, he c’n help us."

 

The sound of something approaching causes you to crouch in alarm, your hand flying down to your pocket and resting with your hands near your flip knife. The skeleton also goes stock-still, sockets narrowed slightly. He shoves the phone into the pocket of his hoodie, and dark blue magic wisps between his fingers and you can faintly see a staff-like object starting to manifest. It seems that not all of the rabbits had gone into the maze, showing that they weren't that dumb. A shame, really. Luckily for the both of you, the rabbit heads off in the opposite direction of the location that the two of you are hiding at.

 

"D'ya think we should move? That was way  too close." You mutter, deciding that it would be best to keep the knife out just in case, You swiftly unclip it from the inside of your pocket, clicking a button that un-sheaths the blade in a single smooth motion that causes it to glint ominously in the shade of the trees. After the first couple of dreams, the lack of a knife on your person made you exceedingly paranoid, so it was only natural that you bought one for yourself. 

 

The skeleton glances down at the blade, expression slightly wary, even as he idly fiddles with the staff in his hands. "ya know how to use that?"

 

"I know enough, I can be intimidating when I want to." You reply idly, even though you can feel your heart start to race due to the tension. "I just hope that my bluffing is as good as I think it is, or we might be screwed. Uh, I’m also, really, really, really, sorry for dragging you into this."

 

"if we get outta this, you c’n buy me a drink." He says, voice low. He sounds way to chill at the fact that the two of them could be potentially receiving the beating of a lifetime.

 

"Sounds fair. I do know a place-" You finally decide to lift your head above the bushline, noticing that most of the rabbits are still on the far side of the courtyard. 

 

The big guy, Dera is starting to look increasingly more desperate and angry. Due to how everything is all set up, from the trees and bushes in place, they're almost chest height with you. This means that you have plenty of obstacles between them and the exit. 

 

You carefully go back down, seeing that they don't notice you during that quick glance up. "-but before we get into the nitty-gritty, what can you do, and what can I do to help you?"

 

The skeleton hums softly, a look of consideration, judging by the slanted look to his metal jaw. "i c'n manipulate gravity, anything from slammin' ‘em into trees and holding them down. i'm an awful runner, so ya may just have tah carry me again."

 

"Why's that?" You look at him, slight worry in your eyes as you turn your attention over to him. He looks nervous despite that ‘chill' exterior that he's currently fronting, and honestly big same. "You don't have to get into extreme detail or anything if it makes you uncomfortable-"

 

"got an old injury, makes it hard f’r me ta run or do ‘nything strenuous." He mumbles, eye-lights darting down to his right leg. Ah, dang, well that's just peachy. 

 

"Okay, I don't mind carrying you again, though you wanna do something like a piggyback, or would bridal work for you again? You don't weigh all that much so it's not hard for me to hold you-" 

 

"i c'n lower my gravity to the point that ‘m almost weightless, might w’nna go f’r fireman's carry, so i c'n send attacks back if it ever comes to it." He admits, even as his face tints a dark orange at the thought of being slung over your shoulder. "your skills?"

 

"I know quite a bit of self-defense, I do boxing in my free time as well as some parkour. I also carry a knife on me at all times, but that's only in a place if I don't feel safe being there." You say quickly, tapping your finger against the side of the polished blade of your knife in emphasis. "I also have pretty good stamina, so here's hoping that this works out well."

 

Both of you flinch a little when you hear something rustling loudly in the distance, especially when the rabbits start to begin making another round. You look at the skeleton, and he nods at you. It's a little awkward to sling him over your shoulder, and the skeleton grunts a bit as he tries to get somewhat comfortable. You're surprised to feel something almost like muscles forming at the empty space below his ribcage, filling out similar to the lower torso. It keeps the lower part of the rib cage from grinding into your shoulder, so it's honestly helpful. 

Since he can apparently alter his gravity, and that the skeletons back at your place have magic tongues, you're not surprised that they have a method to create an abdominal structure. Either way, it's pretty awesome.

He's way lighter now than before, and the way he's made himself weightless kind of reminds you of that one Character from that anime from the early 2000s, My Hero Academia right? He's kind of like, liiike- uh, Ochako! Yeah! The cute brown haired girl with the blushy cheeks. You're suddenly imaging the guy wearing the girl's hero costume, and it almost causes you to ruin your hiding spot. You settle for grinning like mad instead. He might look good in it, but you're not quite sure.

 

"Alright, Mr. Skeleton, you ready to create some havoc?" You ask, patting the guy's clothed femur with your hand, and you hear the skeleton chuckle a little. 

 

"hopefully you don't get us killed, partner." He says. "i've ‘lready been in plenty of near-death situations."

 

Think of how the Dreamer nearly got trampled to death by a giant deer, or how they almost fell off the side of the tower when their hands sipped, or how you ended up on top of the roof of your house in your sleep, so you can't help but nod in agreement. "Oh god, same."

 

Mr. Skeleton chuckles lowly, and you pause for a second turning to him a question on your tongue. "Wait, I forgot to ask this. What's your name? Unless you wanna be called Mr. Skeleton…?"

 

"th' name's lupus, yours?"

 

"(y/n)."

 

Taking a deep breath and charging up your willpower once more, you make a running sprint out from the cover of the hedges with the weightless skeleton over your shoulder. It gains the attention of every single rabbit in your vicinity nigh instantaneously the moment they process what has just happened. 

 

"What are you waiting fer?!" Dera roars distantly. "Go after them! We can't let them leave!!"

 

"No way in hell man, that's The Blackbird's brother! This just ain’t worth it-" One of the rabbits that are off to the right of you snap out, panic in his voice. His voice cuts out abruptly just as a bullet in the shape of a star hazed in bright red courtesy of Dera, careens into his throat. The poor fucker gurgles quietly, choking on red, eyes wide in disbelief before he explodes into a cloud of dust. God, that's going to haunt your dreams for a while. That guy just got murdered holy shit- not time to panic, freakout later. The skeleton curses a bit because he had apparently seen the dusting, muttering something along the lines of 'not another one' and ‘fucking court cases.'

 

"Anyone who wishes to cross me will meet that fate. Obey me or die." Dera merely sneers, and for a moment you swear that you see a floating bar of [+40 EXP] flicker briefly over his head. The skeleton's hands tighten from where he's grabbing onto your hoodie. You’re probably really tired if you’re seeing videogame bullshit happening in real life.

 

Papyrus' words echo in your skull. ‘EXP IS EXECUTION POINTS. WHEN YOU KILL A HUMAN OR MONSTER. YOU ARE GRANTED EXP ON THE MOMENT OF THEIR DEATH' 

 

You can't see the guys [LV] , but if you're going by video game logic, then this guy must have a fucking brutal amount of [AT]. You scowl a little as the other rabbits snap into action, their movements desperate in the wake of their formers dusting. One of them is crying slightly, yellow eyes tinged with madness and you recognize grief when you see it. You distantly wonder what the deceased meant to them. Were they a sibling? A lover? A family member? A part of you feels awful that most of them are held hostage by this utter douchebag, but you cannot stop here. 

It creates a sick feeling in your stomach, and you're suddenly filled with a bright yellow flash of something that screams retributions and rightness. In this place, you're not sure that [JUSTICE] will ever prevail here.

Snarling quietly, you continue resolutely forwards, the bottoms of your shoes digging into the grass and tearing it up in your haste to get out of the courtyard. 

 

"strafe right." You obey, sidestepping and you hear the cracking sound of the skeleton's staff against magic, the sound buzzing and sparking. You really want to see what he just did, but you can imagine Lupus hitting back a bullet-like some star baseball player. Judging by the sound of loud swearing behind you, it looks like he managed to land a hit. 

 

Keeping your breathing level, you increase your speed and easily rip through the waist-high bushes, ignoring the fact that the branches scrape at your legs and catches your shorts. There’s another crack of magic against magic, and another bout of cursing erupts from somewhere on your right. One of the hedges practically explodes as one of the maze bunnies burst out of it, the wild look on the purple rabbit’s expression that is only accentuated by the fact that they’re covered in sticks and leaves. Their leg moves in a blur of motion crackling with bright unchained energy, and you quickly spin on your heel to dodge the sharp cyan-colored slash attack that was aimed at you with narrowed eyes. 

[MISS!]

The rabbit looks startled at the fact that you managed to effortlessly swing around it, blinking dumbly which proves to be a mistake as it leaves them vulnerable. Lupus, the beautiful bastard, winds up like a pro batter and all but cracks his staff against the purple rabbit’s skull with an audible thwack, as the spin was the perfect velocity for a hit and run. The rabbit goes down, with a [-1] popping overhead and a [STUN] hovering over their collapsed form.

This all happens in a matter of seconds, and by then you’re already back to bolting through the greenery, strafing obediently whenever Lupus gives you a heads up and occasionally bounding over bushes and other obstacles (like park benches, weirdly placed rose bushes, is that a hedge in the shape of a skeleton’s face????) that are in your path.

It’s when you finally manage to get yourself out of the courtyard and past the iron gates is when it all goes to shit. You don’t even see it coming, but you do feel it. 

A white-sharp line of fire cuts across your left side and across your back and your knife slips out from your suddenly lax fingers, clattering to the floor somewhere. The next thing you know your legs give out from under you, sending you to the floor. In the process, your sunglasses fly off your head on your sudden descent, smacking against the ground.

Your vision goes white as electricity sparks and crackles through your body as your mind fills with static. The air is filled with a howling shriek, it grates in your ears and rings through your skull.

You don't know who's screaming, but whoever they are they are very loud. 

Oh, wait.

 

That's you-

Chapter Text

sleepwalker

stumble

 


 

- Guide -

Italics indicate thoughts or telepathy.

Bold usually represents a language other than English being spoken.

Bold Italic is a mix of both.

Underline is void-speak.

<ENCLOSED, BOLDED AND UPPERCASE INDICATE A SIGNED LANGUAGE>


 

Lupus’ weight is gone from your shoulder the moment you stumble, and a distant part of you is grateful for it.  You recall the sensation and the flare of magic the taller had given off, and distant part of you compares it to the particles Sans let-off when he teleported next to you a day ago. Only, instead of Sans’ weird scent of rotting cherries, Lupus’ magic almost smells like something smoky yet sweet, kind of like honey whiskey and tangerines. 

You take in deep gasps of air as someone drags you away, their hands are thin, and you can feel each individual bone leaving marks against your skin, and through your hazy vision, you recognize the dark grey sleeves and the purple hems. 

Lupus is rattling faintly as he pulls your slightly twitching yet limp body across the road, electricity crackling around his fingers as it jolts from you to him.

His teeth are bared into a snarl, the left eye-light blazing a bright and vivid blue in a manner reminiscent of flames. Bones sharp and jagged like dog teeth in the same blue, cages around with an audible snapping sound creating a barrier of repelling gravity magic. It takes a moment for your brain to process this, still fritzing from the electrically charged bullets lodged near the base of your spine. Lupus is growling lowly, expression surprisingly murderous and you finally manage to shake off the static induced haze only a little bit. You go to move to a sitting position only-

 

“don’t move, jus’ stay still, they’re gonna keep dischargin’ if they detect movement. they’re yellow-cyan infused. yellow shocks, cyan damages ya if you move.” His voice is low and rolling with a dark growl, the slight Russian accent in his voice drowned out by the sheer rancor. “Th’ shield will last, jus’ sit tight, they’ll tire eventually ‘n hopefully well have our backup.” 

 

You hum softly in response, not trusting your voice and settles for staring at the massive cage of bones with a slightly dazed expression. Lupus is carefully cushioning your head with his crossed legs, and it takes you a moment to realize that he’s sitting down with one of his hands pressed flat on the ground. Blue concentric circles spiral out from the tips of his fingers, spiraling outwards and connecting to the bones. Gradually they seem to merge together, forming an impenetrable barrier.

They hum quietly, and the sound is eerily familiar-

Blue runes burning gold, the humming running through your bones as the beam of light rushes skywards. Something sparks in your chest.  

-You register the sounds of magic attacks and powered kicks slamming against the barrier that’s been set up. After a while, you can feel a faint trembling in Lupus’s limbs and something warm dripping down your cheek. Eventually, even all of that fades away, as your eyes shut slightly and you can see the white sun burning in your mind’s eye. 

You don’t know how long you lie there, caught up in the memories of past dreams, because everything seems to pass in a dull haze.  

It’s the sound of clicking heels against the stone that snaps you out of your reverie. The battleground around the two of you has gone eerily silent, save for the humming runes still connected to the skeletal birdcage. You can no longer hear the fizzing snap of magic attacks whizzing through the air or Dera’s angry shouts. 

It’s almost as if the universe froze.

Gradually, the footsteps get louder and louder as they approach the cage. And you blink tiredly up at Lupus, watching as tangerine sweat drips down the contours of his face, down the curve of his metallic jaw, wetting his jacket and occasionally you. He looks absolutely haggard, eye-lights flickering faintly in his tiredness, dark circles stark under his sockets. Despite the apparent exhaustion on the skeleton’s face, there’s relief in his mismatched eye-lights as the footsteps stopped.

 

“...get out of here if you know what is good for you.” The new arrivals' voice sounds eerily similar to Polaris; however, it’s almost wrong in a sense. While the blue-wearing skeleton’s voice is a light baritone coupled with a nasally, if not dorky tone. This guy, however, is all spite, venom, and nothing nice. This guy’s voice has the same baritone, but with a more sultry and a sharp, dangerous edge to it. Like a seductive poison or a glass of fine wine. (Poisoned wine?????)

 

“Your brother got in the way of my prey, you royal guard dog. ” Dera hisses, and you can imagine his face twisted into something monstrous in his anger. “He lets the bitch go, and then I’ll leave Fucker.”

 

Bitch? Did he just call you what you think he just called you?

Oh hellllllll naaaaw. 

 

“Bitch…?” You mumble softly in annoyance, the feeling of the magic bullets are practically static in the background, so you try to get up into a sitting position. Only for Lupus’ free hand to press down on your shoulder. As if on cue, one of them discharges into your body, and you bite back a low snarl. Normally this would really hurt, but you’re a little too mad to care. And you know what they say, rage is one hell of an anesthetic. 

 

“jus stay down, please, m’bro’s got it handled.” Lupus’ voice sounds urgent, and you grimace a little and merely slump back to your previous position and rest your cheek against his clothed femur. “-keep still, you got three ‘o em still stuck in ya.”

 

“Alrighty boss man,” You grumble good-naturedly, and you crack a tiny smile when you see his face tint persimmon. Looks like someone has an authority kin- you promptly give yourself mental smack to the back of the skull. It’s still too early for dumb mental thoughts. “I’ll try not to move too much.”

 

“Dera, please , we’re already in so much deep shit.” Someone pleads, despair heavy in her tone and you wince a little at the reminder of that poor rabbit that Dera killed. “Let’s just withdraw from now, this is a losing batt-”

 

“Shut the fuck up, Cyran! You can run if you want, but the moment you cower like the pussy ya’ are, yer not welcome here-” Dera retorts sharply.

 

The silence continues for another eternity, and you hear the other rabbit breath shakily. Only, you recognize that it’s not done in fear, but barely restrained anger. 

 

“You know what? I will. I’ll fucking run.” This statement is punctuated by the jingle of metal clattering against the stone of the road, and you realize that the sound is from a collar hitting the floor.

 

“You already killed my little brother, so I don’t… I don’t have to tether myself to you anymore.” Cyran just sounds almost empty if it weren’t for the faint tremble of sorrow and grief, and you curse under your breath a little because dead siblings are the worst. 

 

You couldn’t imagine losing your sibling too soon, and that burning- anger-justice-make it right! -in your chest only seems to amplify this.  

 

This was apparently the wrong thing to say within earshot of Lupus’ brother. “I see… So you’re a dirty brother killer then, Dera? Did anyone else witness the death of Zander?”

 

There is a quiet murmur that starts up, and you can hear the sounds of some of the rabbits shifting nervously. 

 

“Keep your fucking mouths shut! Not a single one o’ ya open yer damn mouths or even think of answering the fucker-” Dera explodes angrily. 

 

“Lupus and I did.” You speak up, finally unable to hold your tongue. It becomes so silent that you could hear a pin drop. “Zander recognized Lupus as your brother, and tried to convince Dera that it wasn’t worth it.”

 

“As like, I dunno the big guy decided that he deserved some sort of whacked-out punishment and killed him mid-sentence with one of those glowing red star things- one moment the Zander was standing there, and the next moment there was just an explosion of dust.” 

 

Lupus stares at you, stupefied, and you send him the blankest, most unimpressed look that you can manage. You lower your voice and quickly respond. “He called me a bitch, no one but my friends and myself get to call me that. His ass is grass and your brother is going to mow it.” 

 

“remind me to never piss ya’ off.” Lupus says shaking his head in amusement, just as something slams against the shield causing the skeleton to wince. Both of you startle as Dera snarls something, but you can barely understand what he’s saying because his voice is so feral and growling that it’s nothing more than animalistic babble. 

 

“Lupus. Is this true?” The tone of Lupus’ brother is almost soft, gentle in its tone. There’s danger under the surface. Sharks in calm waters.

 

Yeah, this isn’t going to go over well. You recognize that tone- after all, you've had to towards you, how could you ever forget it- tranquil fury - and The Blackbird is out for blood.

 

“Yep, i’ll write up a report later.” Lupus confirms, almost carelessly even though one of his eye-lights finally gives up the ghost, flickering once, twice, then voiding completely. He grimaces a little, using his free hand to smack the side of his skull in an attempt to reignite it but to no avail.

 

You hear a quiet, almost gentle sort of exhale from Lupus’ brother. The universe is silent for only a moment before you hear the other skeleton's heeled shoes clack loudly against the ground before everything explodes into sound. You still can't see anything, but from the sound of Dera's pained cry, you can easily connect the dots.

Well, sounds like the guy launched himself at the rabbit. Hot damn. Magic hums and crackles loudly, filling the air with a dangerous pressure and you can almost taste the energy, borderline crackling in your teeth. 

One side of the pressure is-

-Attackattack-rip-tear-defend-tiredwearyangry- I must win, I will win, I have to- red red red.

And the other is-

Calmdangerous-attack-attack-attack-defend I will win, purple, purple, purple, I will be victorious.

There's an odd tingling against the nerves of your back, and with a fizzing set of Snap! Pop! Crack! You slump over with a weak groan, the sudden lack of pain registering in the back of your skull is so relieving. You hadn't even realized how much those bullets had been messing with your system. Lupus’ single working eye-light glances down at you, scrutinizing, and after a moment of consideration with pursed lips- well, if you're being honest it's more like pursed teeth -before nodding.

Taking a few calming breaths, you sit back up and wince when you feel some residual pain still burning at the base of your spine. Now that you’re no longer at the floor level, you can finally see the fight happening outside the bone barrier.

As it turns out, mentally comparing Lupus’ brother and Polaris was a pretty apt thing to do, because the similarities between the two were almost eerie. 

Unlike Polaris’ rounded eye-sockets and cheekbones, The Blackbird’s sockets were more narrowed, flatter at the top and shaded in what looked like purple eyeshadow, giving him the impression that he was either very tired or very irritated. His cheekbones were a tad sharper than Polaris’ and angular. Much like Lupus, he had a scar going down one of his sockets, only this one was on the right eye-socket, and his eye-lights were mismatched. The right was dull purple and the other a burnt orange. 

He was wearing a black leather knee-length trench coat and what looked like a tattered burnt orange scarf with a black bandana under it, the tied back “ears” of the bandana were quite large, and flared out in a manner reminiscent of bat wings with purple eye-spots. He was also wearing what looked like to be dark purple skinny jeans and dark purple combat boots with silver heels and toes. 

The thing that caught your attention the most was the fact that his arms weren’t attached to his body. Well, to be more specific, everything from the forearm down was totally gone from the rest of him. You recall the mangled bones of your Papyrus’s body and shudder a little at the realization that even a majority of the area where his elbows had been lopped off. This isn't stopping him though, nor is it hindering him. 

There’s a bright purple miasma of energy surrounding his upper arm. If you focus enough, you could almost hear the sound of it. Humming like the strings of a viola with a solid and confident tune. You quickly realize why the magic’s hazing in such a manner, because Dera is being beaten back by two sets of disembodied limbs. The initial set is solid, made out of a material similar in color to the light purple of the shorter skeleton’s bones and extends a little short of the elbows, covered in sheer black fabric. It takes a moment for you to realize that they’re prosthetics. If they were closer to his body, they could reconnect and reform his arms.  

The second set is a transparent purplish-orange vapor of color, with only the palms and fingers. They hover a far distance away, skeletal fingers are lax and careless. Though, seeing how fast they moved earlier tells you that appearances can be deceiving. Artifices then. The initial set rests by his sides, hovering languidly by the skeleton’s outer thighs. With purposeful steps, he easily sidesteps the bullets that are sent careening towards him. There’s a blur of movement, and flare of bright and vivid purple, one of his arms reaching up to his chest in a manner that Lupus had done earlier, however in one smooth yet violent motion, the summoned weapon comes snapping into being. 

And you’re being very literal here.

The magic condenses, the bright almost white violet dulling in a rich lavender, forming a short staff the length of his forearm with a razor-sharp scythe, and a wispy piece of longer magic that manifests into a chain-like weapon with a short weight at the end. The air cracks as he slams the magic construct against the concrete hard. The brunt of it fractures the concrete, and you know that with one whack of that thing it’d shatter someone’s kneecap and utterly destroy it with no hope of it ever getting fixed.

Ah, now you recognize what it is, it’s a kusarigama. A chain scythe.

Dera hesitated for a moment before his eyes flare a dull red and square his shoulders. Unlike Lupus’ brother, his summoned weapons are much smaller and less sophisticated? His dull red magic convalesces around his fingers and forearms in hazes of dull crimson. They’re more or less like boxing, or maybe even gauntlets, emphasized by the knuckleduster like strips that go across the knuckles. It’ll be an interesting match up, that’s for sure. 

The Blackbird has more of an advantage, with the ability to keep Dera at a distance with both the reach and flexibility of the kusarigama and the floating hands to act as distractions. Dera relies primarily on close combat fighting, meaning that he’ll have to keep his guard up and avoid Blackbird’s attacks and keep one-up above the other. Of course, Dera does have decent stamina, and he’s built like a powerhouse. You have no doubt that one kick from those legs of his could also do near equivalent damage to that of Blackbird’s main weapon.

You carefully look through the gaps of bars, noticing that all of the other rabbits have somewhat abandoned their leader. Forming a sort of wide circle around the two fighters. A few of the rabbits are consoling Cyran, some with their collars in hand, and others lay discarded on the floor like trash. Despite the obvious despair on the sister rabbit’s face, her yellow eyes are almost manic as she stares intently at the duo in the middle of the circle. 

For a moment, the air is utterly still. Neither opponent seems to even breath, staring each other down. Angry crimson glaring into mismatched uncaring purple and orange. The wind kicks up momentarily, a single leaf blowing through the air and landing with a gentle scrape against the stone floor. 

A queue. 

The silent gunshot. 

Game on.

Dera moves first, ground cracking under his feet as he launches forwards, one of his fists pulled back, and his body wreathed in a billowing cloak of red energy. Lupus’ brother easily moves to the side with a precise sidestep and a spin of his heal. The irate rabbit monster misses the shorter skeleton by almost a foot as he slams his covered fist into the floor, the concrete crackling in a fractured circle. Dera rolls forward, momentum still going from his initial leap and back up onto all fours with a feral snarl- Just as the ghostly purple Artifice decks him across the face and sending the guy staggering off to the sides.

The Blackbird effortlessly swings the kusarigama up and around his head like a whip. The long translucent purple chains catching the light of the noonday sun. Your brain whirls a little at the sight, and you wonder if the brother can change the density of his magic to make it lighter. Or does he keep it at the same density and weight the entire time? Either way, it shows a lot of the guy’s skills. Dera himself barely manages to dodge the brutal weapon, the heavyweight all but missing the guy’s skull and clipping one of his ears, causing the rabbit to burst out in a series of rapid curses as the weight causes cartilage and weak bone to snap. His hit ear ends up folding entirely backward. You may not like the dude, but that’s gotta hurt.

 


 

[-15 HP]

 


 

Seeing that he needs to kick his ass back into gear, the rabbit quickly rolls to the side and gets back up onto his feet in a single smooth motion. The same red energy gathers around his body once more, but instead of charging like earlier, he takes off running. Apparently, when he has this sort of ‘cloak’ on, it allows him to greatly increase his speed.

The brother isn’t fazed by this in the slightest, now holding part of the chain in one hand and spinning the side with the handle and the blade in the other. It whistles loudly, metal glinting over and over the faster he spins it. His mismatched eye-lights are tracking the sprinting rabbit with frightening ease, orange and purple darting fast in his sockets. Dera abruptly switches courses, stopping at a dime near the edge of the ‘circle’, the red cloak still shadows around his body.

The asphalt cracks under the rabbit’s foot as he launches himself in fast-moving side steps. You’ve seen fights before. And while Dera is definitely faster, side-stepping with lighting quick motions in a crimson blur, your eyes can still manage to track him. Another glance shows that the brother is able to do so as well, mismatched eye-lights darting left to right and back in quick little jolts. With a sneer, the brother finally lets the scythe go. 

Once again, even with all that speed from the red energy propelling his body, Dera’s still too reckless. His movement stutters oddly as his claws scrabble against the floor a tad too slow, and catches the poleax hard with both legs. Dera makes a loud roar of pain as he hits the floor on his side. The scythe had missed him enough that it didn’t cut. But the handle had all but slammed into his hocks and knocked them out from under him. You do have to turn your head, feeling only slightly nauseated because the sound of the magic cracking hard against the guy’s bones sounds goddamn awful.

 


 

[-12 HP] [Slowed] [Bone Bruised]

 


 

Dera gets up shakily, snarling death threats as he does so. There’s dark bruising already showing up through his white fur, dark and angry. There’s a slight tremble to his legs, but even though the obvious pain, he’s in. The guy’s still moving. He has to, of course, as he nearly gets decked across the face with a purple fist. The dude barely even manages to dodge the fast-moving construct, before he’s already bolting with another haze of red magic.

The cloak’s starting to flicker, you notice. You have no doubt that the other skeleton has noticed this as well. Dera’s not as fast either, faintly limping along as he does his best to keep ahead of everything. The brother looks almost bored, he’s been mostly stationary the whole time. Actually, he’s pretty much in the same spot since the get-go. That’s a little embarrassing for Dera. You can hear jeering from outside of the sparring circle, the other rabbit’s expressions are cruel and their voices mocking. They’re not speaking English you realize, but it’s obvious that Dera can understand what they’re saying because his ears twitch and his expression somehow gets even angrier.

The rabbit’s cloak finally gives up the ghost, but it doesn’t fade. It destabilizes violently, the red exploding outwards and fracturing into an eruption of red stars that careen towards the skeleton monster. The brother rolls his eye-lights, scoffing in apparent disgust. The floating hands easily punch a few of the stars, and they explode in flares of bright crimson. Spinning the chain with casual ease, it acts as a shield and completely cancels the cloak’s hail mary.

 

“I’m assuming that you’re done playing around? I’m surprised that you’ve even lasted so long.” The brother’s voice sounds so bored, and his expression is smoothed in ice-cold indifference. “I think… that I am finished watching this pathetic display. Now it’s my turn.”

 

There’s a clack of heels against asphalt, and suddenly the brother is gone. Dera lets out a shout of surprise as he’s met with a face full of steel-toed boots. The skeleton’s trench cloak flutters loudly as the rabbit is sent slamming backward. Still using the speed in his initial attack, Blackbird promptly uses the guy as a springboard and landing neatly on his feet.

Much to his credit, Dera quickly recovers, rolling over onto his feet and limping off as fast as he can with those bruised legs of his. The rabbit snarls, red magic spiking around him and manifesting into stars that quickly soar through the air in fast-moving blurs of red. 

The brother is oddly graceful in his movements, and you can’t help but feel transfixed at the sight of him easily dodging the progressively desperate attacks of Dera. Red stars flicker and spin in dizzying arcs through the air. They’re admittedly pretty distracting, but it’s obvious that Blackbird’s used to this sort of thing, as his Artifices easily bat them away. Sometimes he even brings up the hilt of his scythe, moving quickly almost like a Jedi and blocking the attacks with lightning-fast motions. 

Your eyes are wide and calculating as you track both combatants, irises flitting too and fro, taking in all the tiny details. It’s all so very cinematic, even if the fight is obviously becoming very one-sided.

Dera’s movements are getting sloppy and unsteady, he’s breathing heavier than earlier chest visibly heaving with each inhale he takes. His eyes are borderlining on frantic, and you can see the desperation breaking through those crimson eyes of his. Blackbird, on the other hand, hasn’t even broken out into a sweat, even as the kusarigama rests almost lazily by his side. He hasn’t even used the sharp end of it that often, only using his quick speed and bodily slamming himself into the injured rabbit monster.

Each kick of the guy's boots adds another set of bruises. Even as Dera moves his arms up in a cross block as Blackbird once again aims a powerful set of kicks towards the guy’s head. The sound of crunching bone fills the air, Blackbird’s face curling into a sneer as the rabbit lets out a howl of pain, forelimbs bending into an awful angle. It’s apparently too much for the larger monster to handle. Dera slams hard to the ground, expression still angry.

 


 

[-20 HP] [Slowed] [Immobilized] [ITNL-Bleed]

 


 

He’s still furious even as Blackbird continues to pin him to the ground, one of his feet on the rabbit’s chest, keeping him firmly planted. A red star tries to manifest, only to cancel as the skeleton stomps hard on one of the rabbit’s shattered forearms, grinding his heel and eliciting an agonized yell from the rabbit, who squirms to get away, but to no avail.

 

“Give it up.” The blackbird hisses, crouching low until his mismatched eye-lights stare deeply into Dera’s steadily panicked red ones. “You’ve lost, everyone has seen you falter, stumble, and fail. Yield, before I severe your forelimbs from your own body you pathetic shitrag-”

 

Dera’s expression tightens before he allows his head to fall back, thumping against the dirty asphalt. His eyes shut, teeth-gritting as he finally speaks. “-I yield.”

 

Blackbird merely takes his foot off the other’s chest, stepping back as the dark expression smooths back into calm neutrality. The monster’s summoned weapon seems to break apart, shattering without sound and eventually evaporating into thin air. There’s a spark of purple magic in the skeleton’s hand, and it takes you a moment to recognize it as a phone. He looks hilariously unbothered as he quickly types something. The doors to that fancy building open up, and you notice that the monsters who step out of it are armored to the teeth. He looks up from his phone and gestures to the prone monster, before stalking over to the armored guardsmen and beings speaking to them.

You turn your attention away from the conversing monsters, merely sitting in quiet silence. Seeing that everything’s taken care of, Lupus exhales, the poor guy sounding totally exhausted. The humming sound emanating from the spiraled out circles ceases has he takes his hands off of them, the runes fading as the magic powering them stops flowing. The cage of bones also shatters and fades away in a similar manner to when Blackbird’s kusarigama, leaving the two of you exposed.

 

“hey, we should, hhhhh, prolly get up ‘n head over t’ the steps.” Lupus says after he regains his breath, tangerine-colored sweat still dripping down the contours of his face. The dark circles under his eye-sockets have also grown starker. “m’bro ‘n his co-workers are gonna wanna talk t’ th’ both o’ us about this whole thin’.”

 

You hesitate for a moment, before placing your hand onto his shoulder, causing him to jerk a little in surprise, eye-lights meeting your own concerned ones. “Are you sure that you want to get, you look like you’re gonna fall over and die.”

 

The look of surprise fades to amusement, and the skeleton laughs a crackly ‘neh-heh-heh’ escaping his teeth as he smiles at you a bit. You frown a little, brows creasing because you are not getting the joke. “neh, it takes a lot more than ten minutes of magic use t’ knock me out, ‘s fine. ah jus’ looks bad, ‘ll be fine once we get up ta’ th’ embassy steps.”

 

“Alright,” You agree after a moment, removing your hand from his shoulder and getting up with relative ease. From your position, Lupus looks like some poor kid who got the shit beaten out of him by the local school-yard bullies, only with less blood and bruises.

 

It takes him a few times to get up, well, you never actually gave him the chance to get up on his own power. You bend down, easily taking one of his hands into yours, and carefully pulls the dude up onto his feet. You’ve already learned from the other guys that skeleton monsters apparently weigh about as much as a handful of grapes, so you don’t end up launching him up into the air. He does look mildly embarrassed as he has to take a moment to stand upright without visibly wobbling.

 

“has anyone told ya, that yer like, much stronger than ya’ look?” Lupus asks face turned a cute shade of pastel orange, and now it’s time for your turn to be the one busting out into a round of snickering. “cause hoh-lee shit.

 

“Only a few times,” You respond with a sly wink and a teasing grin. “Or it’s just that easy ‘cause you weigh jackrabbits. You’re all bones and no muscle aside from magic, buddy. Or course I can pull you off the ground like a mother does to her young one.”

 

Lupus makes a snorting sound as you partially help guide the exhausted skeleton to the steps. Both of you settle down beside a concrete planter. There’s a large tree that looks similar to that of a pine tree, however, it’s needles are the most peculiar shade of blue. Though, to be fair, the monster district is really close to Mt. Ebott, which is known for some weird shit. Maybe they transplanted some trees from the previously fenced-off section of the mountain.

 

You watch passively as the monster’s (you’re assuming at least) local law enforcement make idle talk with the rabbits. Zander’s sister, Cyran looks a little teary-eyed as she’s comforted by the other rabbits as she gives her statement to a large draconic monster wearing heavy-duty armor.

“Sooooo,” You ask, glancing over to Lupus. “What happens now?”

 

“we’re gonna haveta wait until errybody else gives their statement.” Lupus begins, and counts off on his fingers. “then we’ll get yours ‘n compare it to the others, make sure that everythin’ gets checked out, ‘n seein that ya didn’t get ‘ny EXP, you’ll prolly get off with no issue.”

 

“That’s…. relieving.” You state, voice bone dry. Your brows furrow a little as you rest your chin on your hand, expression mildly pensive. “Will this end up going on my public record, or what?

 

“nah, you may have like, a notice on yer file once it’s sent off to yer human government. granted, the rabbit colony’s been ‘n trouble many times with other humans like ya, who were unfortunate to run across ‘em. so yer pretty lucky with all thins’ c’nsidered. ya coulda’ yanno, ended up inna way worse situation than yah are now.”

 

“Isn’t that lovely.” You snort, straightening up a little as you tap your foot with a small amount of anxiety. Your mother will not be happy when she receives the email about this whole situation with the update of your files. Which is fantastic, cause the video call you’ll get will be fucking miserable. “Well, I could be dead in an alleyway somewhere, so I’ll take my chances.”

 

You grumble a little, slipping your jacket off of your shoulders, to check the areas in which the bullets had lodged in your back. Your expression turns from mildly anxious at the thought of your mother confronting you, to utterly crestfallen at the sight of the jagged holes cut into your favorite gift. You mutely run your fingers against the ragged slashes with a downtrodden curve to your lips. You could repair it but- it’d never look the same again with all the patches. 

 

“wha’s wrong? did somethin’ happen?” Lupus asks as he catches your upset expression.

 

You wordlessly hold up the jacket, the back of it facing the skeleton monster as you then send him an upset smile. “I guess those bullets were sharper than I expected, it cut through my favorite jacket….”

 

“...and a lil’ bit o’ yer shirt.” Lupus adds glancing over at your back before he suddenly makes a hissed inhale through his clenched teeth, causing you to reach your arms behind your back. Confirming that yep, your shirt’s also torn in the same places.

 

You end up wincing as your fingers end up brushing against a few cuts. When you pull your fingers back, they come back slightly bloody. Honestly, you hadn’t even noticed any bleeding or increased pain after the bullets deteriorated. It was only when you decided to touch it that it decides to come back and haunt you.

 

“I didn’t even notice that I was bleeding…” You trail off a little helplessly before chuckling awkwardly. “Guess I got caught up with everything else that it all got shunted into the corner, you know?”

 

“howsabout you sit here, jus for a mo’ okay?” Lupus asks as he gets up onto his feet. You nod, blinking a little in confusion as the tall skeleton climbs up the steps towards his brother.

 

Despite Blackbird looking like the type of sibling to ignore his brother, he doesn't. The moment Lupus gets close to him and starts speaking, the guy puts a hand up to silence the guardsmen he had been talking to, giving the taller skeleton all of his undivided attention. Even the other monster, a feminine praying mantis wearing light armor, doesn’t seem to upset about being interrupted, merely dips her head in respectful acknowledgment, and gives the two space.

The skeleton siblings talk quickly to each other for a good couple of moments. Lupus is talking surprisingly quick, making several hand gestures as he does so and gestures in your general direction. Blackbird pauses, before turning to stare at you for a moment while Lupus turns to you and gives a small smile alongside a thumbs up.

A small thrill of apprehension races up your spin as Blackbird starts walking towards you, the clicking of his heels only adding to the ominous vibe the dude has practically hovering around himself. Lupus trails behind, looking very pleased with himself and only the slightest bit nervous.

You make a move to get up, only to have Blackbird lift up a hand and causing you to stop mid-motion. His eye-lights are locked onto your own eyes, and you see how they flit a little in his sockets, almost as if he’s looking you over.

 

“You don’t need to stand up, you can remain seated.” Now that the fights over, a lot of the liquid poison in his voice has all but faded away. He sounds the slightest bit more approachable, but you wouldn’t call it friendly, more like courteous. You nod a little, and decide to stand up anyway, at least to be on a more respectable level.

 

Even though he ends up standing on the stair above the one you’re on, you can easily measure his height to yours. Without the heels, he’s mid-chest level, meaning that he’s slightly taller than Carmine. With the heels, he goes to your jawline.

 

“My name is Rubus,” Bla-Rubus says, crossing his arms as he continues to stare intently at you before speaking again. “However, because I have just met you, I would prefer it if you were to refer to me either as ‘sir’ or my title as ‘Blackbird’. Understood?”

 

That’s. a surprisingly reasonable request. Sometimes people needed to get to know someone first before they felt comfortable with each other’s names being exchanged. 

 

“I understand, Sir.” You reply with a respectful nod. 

 

Respecting authority figures has been drilled into your skull, ever since you were a kid. Of course, your parents both made it clear that you could protest and disagree with said authority figure with the proper measures and research into the said protest if it’s apparent that they’re abusing their power. It’s one of the reasons why you would always read up on the local laws of the places you were living at. 

A healthy dose of paranoia saves lives, after all. You can never know what stuff can save you from a hefty fine or worse because it’s all written down and categorized. Needless to say, if someone tries to manipulate you, you know the law enough to tell the difference of what’s they can and cannot do. Rubus seems surprised by your easy compliance, visibly blinking in a slightly bewildered manner towards his brother. Lupus, in turn merely raises a browbone and the goofiest grin possible that brings a slight smile to your face. Rubus clears his throat and continues onwards.

 

“If you could follow my brother and me into the embassy, we have much to discuss,” Rubus instructs you. At your nod of acknowledgment, Rubus promptly turns on his heel and climbing up the stairs. “We’ll take your statement, and heal you of your injuries.”

 

You glance over to Lupus, and send him a shrug, holding your torn jacket in the crook of your left arm, and reach out the other for Lupus to take. His face softens a little, and he allows you to link arms with him as you quickly hurry behind Rubus. The shorter is marching like a man on a mission, and you can really respect that sort of work ethic.

Your heart beats a with a little bit of uncertainty as you approach the doors of the Fallenswap Embassy (Who keeps naming these buildings, anyway? God, it’s like ‘Apple Beverage’ all over again). However, Lupus’ easy presence eases your stress as you’re led past the double wooden and iron doors, and into the unknown.

 You are-

 -determined.