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So, I know that some of you have seen my contributions to the World Builders Guild. Others of you may have seen the worldbuilding that the hubby and I did for the world Syrasza, currently a fantasy roleplay running here on Iwaku. Well...

Starting in December, after I complete a major project currently underway, I will be accepting world building commissions. I will sketch rough maps (sadly map making is not something I am that great at), but what I am best at is actually writing out descriptions of worlds. I love creating worlds and will do so to your specifications, or make you something fully original. Be aware that, depending upon the depth of detail required, costs will vary, so the following is just a guideline. Word counts are not exact; you are paying for depth of detail, not length.

$20-Starter World- Less than five thousand words, light detailing, general outlines of what the world is currently like. This world type is best for those who just need a good jump start or a roleplay setting for one game.
$50-Simple World- Probably somewhere between ten thousand and fifteen thousand words, due to more depth. More detailed information on broad biomes and sentient races. A few well known plants and animals.
$100- Lightly Detailed World- This is the cost for 20k words and up worth of detail. Here, it gets to be a serious investment of time. A rough map will be included, as well as a few other simple graphics. This world is fairly detailed when it comes to sentient races. Light flora, fauna, and industry detail, more specific biomes detailed, but fairly little history detailed. See the OOC for the Syrasza game for an example of this sort of world (though I cannot tailor any of my worlds for commission to specific games, due to copyright issues)
$200- Moderately Detailed World- Here you will have more animal and plant species, architecture described, and simple timelines and history added. The world will feel more whole. Expect around 50k in length.

Since I will be being paid to do these worlds, I will try to accommodate your schedule as much as possible. Anything over the 200 dollar mark, however, is going to take at least three months. These worlds, once created, are yours. You are then able to alter and use them as you wish, so long as I am credited with their creation. I do realize that the cost for a custom world appears high at first, but the effort that goes into building them and the end result are worth far more than you will be paying.

Exceptions: If anyone wishes me to write a world for a system they plan to market (seriously plan to market), I will do so for a share in royalties (to be negotiated), cover credit as a coauthor, and an advance of one half my listed price for a world of that detail.
 
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New Lyrics in progress


The little blue girl
Dressed in black
This woman with a life
She can’t take back.

Bring it out
Bring it out
Sing it
Too much pain
Too much noise
Bring it

Artful enchantment
Sweet release
Fearful reactions
No surcease

Bring it out
Bring it out
Sing it
Too much pain
Too much noise
Bring it

This blue girl’s got her own way
And I can’t break it today
Alone

She sits alone
At the bar
Drives the country curves
Goes too far

Bring it out
Bring it out
Sing it
Too much pain
Too much noise
Bring it

No more guessing
Time’s run out
You have to answer
The question now
Blue girl.

No more secrets
Bare it all
Let the indecision
Fall away.
Blue girl

This blue girl’s got her own way
And I can’t break it today
Alone

Alone

This blue girl’s got her own way
And I can’t break it today
Alone!

(Bring it out
Bring it out)
SING IT
(Too much pain
Too much noise)
BRING IT

You can’t run away
SO RUN FORWARD!


 
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Calling the Muse

I want a song that nobody has written
That sums up just exactly how I feel
With words that speak to me without imposition
That lets me know I'm real.

Been caught too long
Feeling so lonely
Without words to a song
Sometimes I think
I am the only
One who feels these thoughts.

So lend me compassion
In music's sweet passion
And tell me I'm not alone!*


So many love songs
All the same stories
Of break ups or jealousy.
Of romance and footsteps
Or of hesitation
But never the love song of me.

So many ballads
All different stories
Of tragedies black and blue.
Of loss and mistakes
Of failures and glories
But none of these strike me as true.

Been wading too long
Without sighting shoreline
With too many lyrical faults
Sometimes I think
I am the only
One who feels these thoughts!

So lend me a song now
And don't take too long how
I long to know I'm not alone!*

So many protest songs
Always the same story.
The downtrodden fight to be free.
But my differences
I'm outcast of losers
And no one will speak up for me!

So make it last longer
strum the string stronger!
If passion would have them break!*

I want a song that encapsulates my life
And tells me I'm not lost alone
That drives me forward to find myself ...
And guides me safely home.

I want a song that nobody has written
A song that is purely my own!
But shared with a handful who feel that they too
Need a song that feels like home.

Please, oh please write!
This unwritten song!
 
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New art time!

First off, a random swashbuckler.
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And now, a fox girl. Yes, she's meant to be cartoony.
Foxgirlresize_zpsf1efc05d.png


Tribs's character, Hinata. I am very pleased with his hair.
Hinataresize_zps3366e2ff.png


And my character Tra'eve, in his human fantasy form.
TraResize2_zps64f4c7d5.png
 

Astaroth

[*screaming into the void intensifies*]
ADMINISTRATOR
Invitation Status
  1. Looking for partners
Posting Speed
  1. Speed of Light
  2. Slow As Molasses
Online Availability
It varies a lot depending on my schedule, unfortunately.
Writing Levels
  1. Advanced
  2. Adaptable
Preferred Character Gender
  1. Primarily Prefer Male
Genres
Psychological horror
Body horror
Supernatural
Giallo
Splatterpunk
Dark fantasy
Historical
Low fantasy
Magipunk
Weird West
Noir
Thriller
Gothic horror
Southern Gothic
Gaslamp fantasy
Cyberpunk
Space saga
Clockpunk
Space Western
Space opera
Paranormal
Modern fantasy
Dieselpunk
Post-Apocalyptic
Crime drama
Medieval fantasy
Hurray, Hinata and Tra!
 
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Short piece I did based on a prompt. I actually really enjoyed writing it.

The mansion was usually quiet and respectable. Well appointed with the finest decor and the best servants, it sat unobtrusively in a small patch of woods off of the Bentrice highway. A twisting road lead to the door, cars occasionally coming up to deliver a package or leaving to take one of the residents to some appointment.

The owner of the mansion, Kelly Arch, was a well respected man in the community. He’d served the city of Bentrice for much of his life, starting as a hardworking and industrious teenager and blossoming into a beacon of hope. He had not been born wealthy, nor had he really aspired to be, but it had been necessary for him to accumulate business ties and thus wealth to keep helping those in need. Now, Mister Arch was retired, having finally accepted the rewards and accolades for his work these past thirty-six years. It was time for another generation to benefit from his wealth and aid those in need.

Today, Kelly Arch sat in his library, turning the pages of the local newspaper. A few articles caught his interest. He ignored the business section; his trust in his brokers and lawyers was complete. They would keep the estate flush with enough money to fund the projects of those who would soon come into power. Instead, he focused on the city’s local news. Politics, mainly. There would be an election soon and this would shape the world the new generation would work in. As he read, he carefully turned the ring upon his hand.

The ring had been a gift on his tenth birthday. It had been a surprise and it had been years before he realized what a precious gift it had been, how much his mother had sacrificed to give it to him. The thought made him clench the ringed hand. Old wounds, wounds that had never healed. Once he’d realized the gift of the ring, it had brought about a realization of his own gifts and his work had begun. It was a simple thing, titanium with a large star ruby set in it, but it meant the world to him. And today would be the last day he wore it.

Outside the mansion, there was the sound of tires on the drive and a door opening and closing. Chimes sounded through the house and more doors were opened to admit a man of short stature with a magnificent, tightly curled mane of hair. Clean shaven and dressed in a three piece suit, the man had his mane secured at the base of his skull, though it was clear that it endeavoured to escape at any convenience. In one hand the man, one T.J. Kardis, carried a briefcase. A butler offered to show him to the library, but Kardis declined. He’d been here often enough, though it had been roughly three years since he’d set foot inside. He reckoned he knew more about the house than anyone but the Butler and a few maids. He reckoned he knew more about the house than Kelly himself. And so it was that he found his way to the library.

Kelly had learned long ago that one rose and shook hands with business partners. Kardis was a lawyer and a former politician and didn’t quite qualify as a business partner, but Kelly rose and shook his hand anyway, stepping around the table he’d been sitting at. The handshake shortly dissolved into a hug, the sort old friends out of contact for too long give one another.

“Kelly, you old scoundrel. You scared us half to death, vanishing off the face of the Earth like that. Where’d you go?”

Kelly chuckled. “Off the face of the Earth is almost appropriate. Do you remember that underground complex in China that I mentioned?”

“You found it?!”

“Found more than I bargained for-- oh, do sit down. Charity, bring us a couple bourbons.”

“None for me, and you shouldn’t drink either til we’ve signed these papers.”

“Oh, give me a break, T.J. I’m not going to make a clerical error from a few sips of bourbon. Now, I take it the papers are all arranged and the recipients have been notified?”

“All I need are your signatures and witness signatures,” the lawyer said, taking the glass offered him despite his earlier protest and sipping at the liquid within. “Gods, this is amazing. Too bad you aren’t giving away your distillery, too. I’d have demanded that myself.”

“Have to keep something to see me through my old age.”

The lawyer snorted. “Old age. Man, you’re fifty one years old. And retiring to a life of luxury. But that brings something up. Are you sure you want to give this, your career, the mansion, your identity up?”

A pause. Kardis knew that these sorts of pauses meant that Kelly was about to speak from his heart, something a man of his profession was rarely able to do with a friend. Kardis gave him time to gather his thoughts.

“I’m old. I’m far older than I ought to be. Even with the best medical care on the east coast, I’m wearing down. Between arthritis and repeated broken bones, I just want to rest and enjoy my bourbon and a nice fire in my cabin. When I started this, I was a poor man, I worked with what little I had, and it wasn’t much. I suffered for that. I suffered for not having the technology, the medical care, the friends. And that’s why I want to be sure that the next generation have all the best. They shouldn’t have to struggle the way I did when their contributions are so invaluable.”

Kardis nodded, then opened the briefcase, taking out a stack of papers.

“Nothing has changed except that one name you wanted switched. I don’t blame you, after those tabloid reports. Are you sure you wish to do this, old friend?”

“I’m sure. I trust these young people to do what I no longer can. Especially Charity. She doesn’t know she’s in this paper yet, does she?”

“She’s the only one who has yet to be informed. But I think she suspects. She sounded... curious on the phone. But she’s Charity so she doesn’t ask.”

“I’ve often held that girl knows far more than she lets on. And she never asks. Which is why she’s perfect. A bit old at twenty, but there’s no one I trust more with this.” In a few broad strokes, he signed the paper in the correct places. The butler signed as witness, one of his alternate functions, and stamped the paper in the correct places. All was settled. All but one thing.

Reaching into his front jacket pocket, T.J. produced a small manilla envelope, the type that collector’s coins are sometimes placed in. He set it on the table and slid it to Kelly.

“Strength, my friend.”

Taking off the ring and admiring it one last time before sliding it into the envelope, Kelly laughed.

“I’ve no need for strength anymore. It is the new ones who will need it.” He sealed the envelope, wrote the name ‘Charity Moss’ on it, and handed it back to the lawyer. The paperwork and ring went into the briefcase. Charity, still unknowing of her fate, entered the room again to refill the bourbons. She quickly exited, leaving the men to their talk.

For a moment, there was no talk. The two simply sat and stared at their cups and listened to the crackle of the fire. Finally, Kelly lifted his glass. He looked older, Kardis realized, but happier, as though a weight was off his shoulders.

“A toast. A toast to a new generation of super heroes. May their compassion, justice, and strength guide them. And may all the resources of Arch Manor be at their disposal for future generations to come. Cheers.”

“Cheers.”
 
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I have new art! First is Nino's character, Ninth, followed by my characters Rat and Brier. Finally is Tribs's Kal.







 
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I'm currently looking to do a few pieces, just request pieces, for people. There is no guarantee that they will be colored or full body, but I'm very willing to at least attempt some sketches. But right now, I really am not looking for anything that is going to be a major project, so please limit it to one or two characters. I have final say on what I will and will not draw.
 
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Just a reminder, I am still taking requests. You can see my information in the art shop group or check out my deviantArt page.
 
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Seriously thinking to revise and edit and send to publishers.

The Golden Virus

Thinking back, I didn’t know what I was doing. There was a moment when I was so certain I was doing the right thing. I didn’t know then about the fate that hinges on instants, I didn’t understand how much havoc one man’s choice could unleash. You see, there are these moments in time, moments that have to happen either one way or another. They happen in each world, they are the points where existence comes together before webbing out again. Everything leads to these points. Unfortunately, my 33rd birthday was one of these points.

Is it clear now? No, I suppose not. Maybe if I tell you, it will make sense. Maybe it will alleviate my guilt just enough for me to open that door and walk from this prison cell. Or maybe nothing will change. But I must tell you, anyway.

The dragons were old. A dying race, resurrected but flawed. They had no way to reproduce once pulled from their stone crypts. This great people, just and noble, were dying, but they’d have a few hundred years, a span of time in which they aided humanity. We found world peace, we saw great advances. They taught us their science, we learned their art. And as we advanced, we saw hope, a way that the dragons might be able to live on after all. There was hope, and I was one of the hopeful.

I wish I could pinpoint the moment things began to change, the moment my faith faltered. But as I try, my thoughts go to her and the moment we met. And I suppose I could say that is the beginning.

Jennifer Isaac was one of those women every outcast nerd dreams of. Long red hair, science background, and she had a lightsabre on her keychain. And if I had known any better, I would have walked on down the street instead of stopping when I saw her. But there she was, that long hair obscuring her face as the wind tugged mercilessly at the waves of orange and the purple scarf she was wearing. She was trying, very intently but without results, to untangle a group of dogs from around a parking meter. The leashes, entwined and knotted, were trouble enough. That at the end of each one was a barking, yipping, or whining hound, terrier, or something that must have been a small game animal masquerading as a dog did not make the task at hand any easier.

“You look like you could use a hand,” I called. The moment she shook her hair out of her face and looked at me, I was hopelessly trapped. I know it sounds foolish, but at least on my side, it was love at first sight.

“Mff, yes. Can you hold the two Russels? I think if I can get them to stop jumping around, ack! I might be able to get the rest of these beasts sorted out.” Despite her predicament, she sounded humorous. Annoyed, but humorous, just that bit of laugh in the voice.

“The two that look like tiny fox hounds?”

“Those would be the ones. Just be careful. Saxon licks.”

This was something I was already becoming well aware of as the tiny dog was eagerly smearing my cheek with enough saliva to dissolve a brick.

“So--” I dodged a long, curled tongue aimed at my nose. “You’re a dog walker? Or are these all yours?”

“Neither, really. My friend’s out of town and this menagerie-- lift your foot, there we go-- anyway, the dogs belong to her. She’s paying me a hundred dollars a day to dogsit.”

“Doesn’t really seem worth it with this bunch.”

“Tell me about it. Next time, I’m demanding tickets to the Bahamas.” She grinned, and her nose crinkled in a way I’d later come to realize meant she was being especially silly at her own expense. “My name’s Jennifer.”

That moment, the leashes came untangled and I was suddenly caught in the midst of a furry hurricane complete with paws and tongues and lashing tails.

“And I really apologize for the dogs,” she continued, attempting to haul them back. “Look, I hate to impose further, but do you mind taking a few of these leashes? My friend’s condo is just around the corner.” I found myself eager to agree and moments later, the dogs were safely home.

“Thank you so much. Er, didn’t get your name back there.”

“Kevin. It’s no problem. I was just going to the coffee shop, anyway. Hoping to get some writing done.” Her eyebrow lifted at that.

“You’re a writer?”

A dog ran by, taking the coatrack down with a precisely placed tail. I managed to catch it before everything crashed to the floor, but several garments still made their leisurely way to the carpet. Jennifer bent to retrieve them as I righted the coatrack.

“I’m not the kind of writer you think. I write copy for the local radio station.”

“Oh. Well, that must be an, um, interesting job.”

“It pays the bills. I don’t really have the talent to write the great american novel, but I got over that a long time ago.” I decided not to mention the manuscripts gathering dust on my ancient desktop, a machine kept out of sentiment rather than necessity. The truth was that copywriting paid fairly well, especially for someone to whom advertising came so naturally. I had more gadgets than your normal geek, but that was something else I felt it best not to mention. Girls tend to react strangely to men who want to show them their toys on a first meeting.

Another dog dashed through, howling at the top of his lungs.

“Look, do you want to go somewhere a bit less noisy and hairy? The coffee shop, maybe? I can buy you lunch in return for helping me get these miniature jackasses home.” She smiled again. I shouldn’t have, but I found myself watching her mouth. It quirked a bit at the corners when she held her smile for longer than a second, and one curve of her upper lip arched a bit higher than it’s match. Realizing I was fixating, I pulled myself back to reality.

“That’d be rather wonderful. Getting away from the dogs, I mean.”

Ten minutes later, we were seated across from one another at a high table in the local college cafe. She had an oversized cup of chai with leaves of various types and their scientific names printed on it. I had my usual coffee cup with me filled with a nebula, the local drink that involved a shot of raspberry flavored cream dropped into white hot chocolate and espresso with a chocolate swirl on top. Of course, the full beauty of this caffeinated monster was hidden inside my bluest and nerdiest of travel cups.

“So... what do you do when you aren’t walking dogs and watching condos?” That actually got a laugh. Better than I normally did.

“I’m a geneticist. Well, technically my specialty is sortiarius epigenetics.”

I gave her a blank look with a hint of a goofy smile. I’m a writer, I have a splendid vocabulary, and I had no idea what those words meant. Well, at least not when strung together that way.

“I study the lasting effects of magic and magical exposure on genetics. How it affects heritable traits and silences certain bits of DNA. We know that ancestral experiences pass on through genetics, and we’re trying to get a good feel for how psychic phenomenon, curses, dragon magic, all that affect heritable traits.” I signalled for her to go on before taking a sip of my drink. “The original question was whether the magic exposure just caused stress to show up in the genetic record, like ancestral disease or poverty does. But it turned out to show much different effects. It seems to alter genetic expression to such an extreme that it is causing really strange things to happen. Keying off and on parts of the genetic code that we haven’t even begun to unravel. Oh! I’m sorry. I got carried away.”

“It’s fine. It’s nice to meet someone in a line of work they’re passionate about. Most of the people I work with are completely dissatisfied. They thought working in radio meant being on air personalities and most of what they do is make sure the equipment keeps the songs properly randomized.”

We talked for two hours before I realized how much time had passed. It didn’t stop there, either. Over the next few weeks, I seemed to see her more and more, finally realizing she was making excuses to see me. Worried she might think me uninterested, I did the same, finding reasons to invite her to tour the station, help me come up with ideas for advertising remotes (I didn’t need the help, or so I thought. She surprised me once or twice with gems of knowledge about some of the locations the station would be broadcasting from), and of course daring her to try out new drinks at the coffee shop.

It was during one of these coffee meetings (I’d gotten her to try boba tea and we’d spent the past ten minutes laughing at her reactions) that she first told me about the dragon research.

“It’s amazing! We may be able to actually introduce a synthetic virus that will give them the capacity to reproduce again! We’ve been working with them for years on it, but obviously it takes a lot of time to create a tailored nanobot like this, especially one that can replicate itself. Well, with energy from the dragons’ magic.”

“So... this is a magical mechanical... virus?”

“That’s honestly the best way to describe it. It’ll replicate until it has made all the changes necessary and then the body itself should eradicate it. The dragons will have a high fever for a few days, but nothing beyond what humans would consider a swift case of flu.”

I took a sip from my cup, ignoring the noises it made when tipped beyond a certain angle.

“So... how’s the body going to kill something made of machine parts?”

“We’re able to use three dimensional nanoprinters to make biological matter into precise machines. They will be very much the stuff of life, or as close to life as most people can consider a virus. So they’ll have proteins that the dragon’s leukocytes can break down into harmless bits.”

And that was that for a while. She’d update me on her progress now and then, but more and more we spoke of other things, dreams of future houses and children, desire for closeness. I worked up the nerve to ask her out for something more than business and coffee. It was a wonderful evening but I hadn’t the nerve to ask her out a second time. Unfortunately, at that time her work took precedent and I didn’t see her for two weeks. I was despairing when she called me up and asked me to go to dinner with her at a very nice restaurant on the edge of town, something far out of her usual price range.

I sailed through my day, excited at the prospect of an extravagant dinner with a beautiful woman and of what might come after. I had missed my sweet Jennifer with the secret love of fandoms and the science brain. Tonight, things would be wonderful! I might even ask her to go on vacation with me when she had a chance.

Fate isn’t kind, and though the night was beautiful, the food perfect, and the music romantic, there was no love in the air. She spent the entire dinner speaking in half whispers about progress on her project. I wore a strained smile and attempted to show interest long into the night, but we parted without so much as a kiss. I thought it was a fluke. I desperately hoped that things were not falling apart so soon when they had seemed so perfect. But as we began to meet again regularly and her words lingered on work, progress, and the dragons, I realized that what might have been had faded from a guiding torch to fading embers on a damp morning.

I thought at first, as I struggled to keep the friendship going, that it was another man. Surely she had left me for her true love, something I could feel martyr to at least. But there was no mention of another man, even when I dropped hinting inquiries. Then I wondered if perhaps her romance was with one of the dragons. But that made no sense, either, for when she spoke of them it was with passion, but the passion seemed directed more at progress than romance. I finally came to the conclusion that the passion was entirely for her work, her science. The word had become a curse, a sneer, a thing held in such derision that my usual science fiction fandoms lay forgotten and dusty in my apartment. Science, of all things, had taken my hope from me.

In my mind at night, I replayed numerous scenarios where she would fail and fall into despair and come cry on my shoulder, where I would welcome her back and our love would rekindle as we grew closer than ever. But always the part of my mind that spoke for the freedom of others would set her free and the musings would turn to images of her sudden new discovery that threw her back into the scientific limelight. She would cure the dragons. She would become an icon, gain all the funding she could dream of, and found new centers of learning. She might win a nobel prize. She would be happy and I would be alone. The thoughts drew anger around them like a cloak.

More weeks passed, and as my birthday neared, it was clear I would be spending it as a single, lonely, and bitter man. My writing had taken a turn for the sarcastic and dull, appealing to the median of humanity instead of trying for the clever and bright half. I was actually published in a digest of short stories, but found no joy as the story that was published was hackneyed and without any evident soul. But then, soulless seemed to be what the market wanted. I wondered if my soul was what drove women away, what had caused me to be alone.

I found myself online chatting with some of my friends when I happened to mention my romance troubles to a few in a private room. One of them, I soon discovered, was a professor in epigenetics at a rival school. He said from what I relayed that her ideas sounded feasible, so long as she timed the viral attack properly. That is, so long as the viruses were defended just well enough to alter the dragons without killing them.

I’ve always been a quick learner when I put my mind to it. I’m good at teasing out enough knowledge to seem well versed in something, to solve a problem or pass a test without learning the whole subject. I knew I’d never earn a degree in a matter of weeks, but it struck me that if I could end this project badly that she’d return to me. My evening thoughts grew into mockeries of my plan, but I persisted. I didn’t need to know genetics. I just needed to know how to alter a three-d printer’s readout. And that, it turned out, was simpler than I thought.

I only needed to put on a readout that reflected the numbers entered as they were while the actual computers moved the thickness of the viral shell variable up by a power of three. It was simple, so simple to claim I was going to leave a gift for Jennifer. I switched the panel out easily enough following instructions I’d downloaded into my tablet and a few tools I’d borrowed from a friend. I didn’t have time to stay and see if it worked. I had no real way to test it. Tests had been run and the actual application of the project would be tomorrow. It had been intended to be the next year, but with two dragons dead of old age and only one female remaining, it would have to be soon. Either my alterations would work or they wouldn’t. It was in the hands of fate.

I felt oddly calm that night, as though a great weight were lifted from my shoulders. I turned on my television and watched old sci fi movies, reveling in the sight of experiments running amok and how I would prevent one more from happening. No dragons would mutate and devour humanity. Somewhere along the way, I’d convinced myself that I was doing this for all of humanity. Deep down, I knew it was a petty, manipulative act with the sole purpose of regaining Jennifer. But I could not let myself believe that it didn’t have a higher goal.

I suppose you know now what happened. The virus, which would, by all predictions and tests, work perfectly, did not die as easily as expected. The emergency antivirals had no effect on this somehow mutated creation. The last she-dragon died in agony and the males soon followed from heartbreak. I went to console my Jennifer, knowing she would need me.

She was gone. She’d left with only a note to her department head that she was leaving the country to live with a distant relative who’d offered to shelter her from the backlash she was facing on all directions. I was informed that she had left in a state of despair and depression over her role in the death of the dragons. It was my birthday and I was alone.

Over the next few weeks, world peace and the golden age imploded. The nations of the world struck from their pits like coiled vipers, attacking without mind for what had been and could have continued. Scientific progress ground to a halt for religious leaders were able to grab the dragon tragedy as a reason to distrust all science and education of scientific principles. With one act, one treacherous and horrid act, I slew the last of the dragons and eradicated world peace. I destroyed the golden age.

I couldn’t live with the guilt. Could you live with this? I was in the cafe when it happened, when I broke down in tears and yelled of my faults and misdeeds. The police were called, I was taken to the hospital. But when my stories were corroborated by evidence that had not been released to the public, I was arrested. I forget what all the charges are. It doesn’t matter. I’m guilty.

I sit here, telling you this. I feel if I could just forgive myself, I might be able to fight for my freedom, claim insanity, explain myself away to lesser charges. But I cannot forgive. You see, I’m guilty. I’m guilty of destroying the world as it was. And worse than that, I’m guilty of destroying the woman I loved. I cannot forgive myself. And I should not. I know my guilt, I know my sanity, and I will await my punishment.

Telling you lessens not one whit of guilt, one straw of emotion. I don’t want your forgiveness or your pity. Just remember this: when next the golden age arrives, don’t destroy it because you can’t let go of what was.
 
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So this is what happens when I write while really hurting.

Rain splattered the stones around us. It didn’t touch her skin, her hair, not even the humidity put a curl out of place. But then that was her all over. Untouchable. We’d been doing this dance, this thing, this relationship for months. To all observers, she seemed full of emotion, bright, cheerful, eager and flirtatious. But it had been almost half a year and I found I did not know her, this woman before me, any more than I had that first week.

So that’s how we came to be standing here, the rain soaking me but not coming through her carefully constructed shields.

“Does it have to be this way?” she spoke, looking at the ground, face cast in shadow.

“It does.”

“But... why?”

I took a deep breath. There had been just a hint, a flicker of emotion in that response and it dug deep into me, tearing through my own flimsy resolve. She enjoyed my company, and I hers. Would it really hurt that much to stay with her just a bit longer, see if she could actually open up to me, give her the chance?

My thoughts flicked through the good times, the dinners and walks and laughter and late nights playing board games. But I couldn’t avoid the other memories. The silence as she held her deepest worries in with pursed lips and a distant stare and how all I wanted to do was hold her, know what troubled her, know anything at all. Nights spent lying awake and listening to the tears she muffled in her pillow when she thought I was asleep. I’d been foolish enough to ask what was wrong once and she’d found an excuse to go visit a friend for the weekend rather than answer me. It was embittering, it was painful. All I wanted was to know her, and that was the one thing she denied me, again and again.

Silence dragged on as I tried to master tears.

“Why?” she asked again, and this time I could hear her own struggle.

“Because I don’t know you, Ann. In all this time, I’ve never known you. You share my bed, you share my meals, but you’ve never once told me what it is that makes you cry. Worse than that, I don’t know a single thing about the real you.”

“Of course you do! You- you have to.” Her fists clenched at her sides as though she were desperate to hold to this moment, to not let time progress. I was just as desperate to get it over with.

“Ann! You are so beautiful. You are friendly and amazing and a terrific cook. I know that. But I don’t know you. I don’t know your fears, your worries, your stresses, your pains. I don’t know any of that! And I can’t do this! I can’t love you without knowing who you are!”

“Isn’t it enough that I give you who I’m trying to be?”

“No! It isn’t. It will never be enough until you can let me in! I’ve tried! God knows I’ve been patient. But nothing has changed! I can’t do this anymore. I’m sorry.”

That was it. Her shoulders sagged as tears ran down my cheeks and fell to mingle with the now torrential rainfall. I turned away, grabbed my last, now nearly soaked through box and carried it to the car. I turned to set my keys on the low garden wall, hoping for a sign, any sign, of true sorrow that went beyond the stress of the moment. She remained where she’d been, face downcast. She’d made no effort to follow. Heaving a sigh of regret, I got in the car and drove away. The rear view mirror tormented me til I turned the corner.

***

Across the street, two men sipped their coffee at a table under an awning and watched the scene unfold. As the man’s car turned the corner, thunder lit up the sky and the girl looked up. Her face was streaked with tears. She stepped to the wall and retrieved the key before going inside.

“Poor girl.”

“Him, too. He’ll never know what he’s lost. It’s not often a girl feels so deep she can make the storms come.”

“Not anymore at least.”

“Do you think he knew?”

“I don’t think he could. Probably thought she was just a witch.”

“How must it hurt to be goddess of rain and be unable to ever touch it as it falls.”

“I asked her once how that happened to be.”

“Yeah? What’d she say?”

“She said she had to pack for the weekend and went inside.”
 
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