Second Chances: Starting Anew



Original poster
Sometimes the people you don't think deserve a second chance are the ones that need them most.

Yesterday, in the trade city of Haler's Mill, six children celebrated their birthday, and with it, their passage into adulthood. Last night, all of them - even Beni, who never dreamed - dreamed of another life. And then they saw themselves, sitting at a round table with a man impossible to describe. He dealt cards to each of them, and they gambled against him until one by one, they disappeared in turn from the table. When only he remained, he gathered the cards, carefully shuffled them back into order, and then rolled a pair of dice. As they bounced and rolled, he faded from view. The dice continued to roll, until suddenly they stopped, ending the dream. Each of the six children, those who bothered to look, found that when they woke up, their birthmarks had grown bolder.

In Beni's bedroom, a small sprite with sore wings lay curled on the girl's chest...
Beni snored. It was an impressive sound, considering her mouth was open - drooling a bit onto the pillow she clutched in one arm, nuzzling happily againt. "Mmm, than'oo... hit me 'gain, willya... an' more o' this drink oo've sherved ush up...?" What came afterward was an awkward-sounding giggle and a turning in her bed, causing her to fall off the bed with a quiet -thud-.

At first, it might have appeared she was dead - until she let forth another roaring snore, shifting a bit in her new position on the floor. Blearily, she opens her eyes. Mumbling to herself, "Nnnn... floor 'gain..." With a yawn, she sits up, blanket falling from her body. She had, years ago, fallen asleep in the nude - it was the only way she felt comfortable now, but originally, it had been because she always woke up nude anyway, and often with her joints hurting.

With a sigh, she walks over to her dresser, putting on her clothes before sitting down in front of her mirror - her hair fuzzed out and filled with static. Grabbing a brush, she began to fix it - wondering a bit about the briers and stickers she pulled out. She mentions to herself, "Gotta do this more often..." She was, of course, completely oblivious to the poor sprite that was, thankfully, saved from being smushed by the falling Beni, but now was under the sheets that lay on the floor...
Yvonne was sleeping so deeply that she hadn't heard her mother calling. It was a rude awakening when all of a sudden CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! happened by her ear and Yvonne bolted out of bed to land in the floor with a loud THUD!

"Good morning, sunshine! I see you slept well!" exclaimed her mother, Denia, looking pretty chipper and all too amused.

Glancing at the window and giving her mom a bleary eyed glare, Yvonne picked herself off the floor. "You are SO mean. I'm telling dad." Getting some water to splash on her face made the sudden shock a little easier.

"Uh huh, Speaking of you Daddy, he's decided you can cash in your birthday gift today. One free no-work day, all for you!" at her daughters squeal of happiness, followed by a dance around the room, Denia rolled her eyes with a grin. "After you feed the chickens."

"The chickens, mom?"

"The chickens."


"YES THE CHICKENS." interrupted a booming male voice from downstairs.

Denia laughed as she left, leaving a mumbling Yvonne alone in her room to get dressed. Seeing as today she got to have a free day, with no chores (except for the chickens), Yvonne decided it was the perfect day to wear the pretty dress mommy gave her for her birthday. She never got to wear dresses, and it wasn't because she didn't like them. It just wasn't practical when you were running around on a family farm and helping your parents do the dirtiest things imaginable.

Trotting downstairs, Yvonne stopped long enough to kiss her father on the cheek before prancing away to feed the chickens! Tossing feed around, she yawned, thinking over some of the dreams she had before she was so rudely awakened. They were all pretty strange. Watching herself do a million things she had never done before. But it had felt so real. The worst part was that she knew it was her, but it didn't feel right. Left her feel kind of sick to the stomach.

With the chickens fed, Yvonne skipped off towards the town. A free day meant the perfect opportunity to talk a friend in to an adventure. Beni or William might enjoy playing!
Luca turned over in his bed, his eyes thick and heavy with sleep, his mouth slightly open and his soft inhaling and exhalations could be heard. Tousled blond hair pooled around his head and Luca yawned, his dream flickering at the back of his eyelids.


A sharp rap on his door startled Luca from his bed, his eyes flying open and the sun-filled room greeted his finally awakened presence. A small twinge at his left hip caused him to look down. To his surprise, his birthmark stood out boldly, a brilliant mark against his skin, almost like a welt.

"Coming mother!" Luca realized suddenly who was knocking, stumbling to his rough wooden dresser to tug out clothing to wear. A pair of brown, loose leggings and a stark white tunic later, Luca was tromping sleepily into the room with his mother and father.
Luna's eyelids slowly opened, her vision instantly fixing on to the ceiling of her bedroom. Silently, she slid out from beneath the covers, pulling them up to the pillow and smoothing them out - All part of her morning routine.

She stared outside, smiling meekly at a tree outside of her window where a pair of birds whistled. Her smiled broadened and she happily waved at them, the other hand rubbing at her hip where her birthmark was. Honestly, she didn't think anything of it... Strange a mark as it was, Luna didn't believe it to be anything mysterious.

The girl pulled on a fresh shirt of light green and tan pants that hugged her legs, an emerald cape draped at her shoulders with the hood resting at her back. She took her small boots into one hand, a coin purse in the other.

With hushed footsteps, she made her way downstairs where the rest of her family was. She simply nodded her head of golden hair, deciding to make a verbal greeting as well,

"Good morning."
William and Griff had stood at the edge of the field as the sun rose, slowly moving through a few of the relaxation rituals Griff had taught the teenager, who had experienced some terrifyingly real dreams after his birthday.

Dark dreams of running into a night filled with filthy dead creatures and a horrific monster, and head woken with a start after a vivid part of the dream where the monster uttered something in a dark language he didnt know but yet had still seemed familiar.

William had woken screaming as he felt every moment of Wilhelm's death.

the dream had so shocked him that he was still having trouble breathing when Griff arrived to teach the boy more meditations.

when he had learned of the dream, the old man had smiled sympathetically and lead William through several familiar mediations instead.
Ina had woken up gasping for air and tears rolling out of her eyes. It had all seemed so real to her "What the hell was that?" she had asked herself as she sat up in her bed. When Ina had finally caught her breath she hugged her sheet around her and sat in her window. It was just before dawn and the sun was starting to break through the twilight. She was 16 today and by all accounts she should be excited however Ina could not see past her dream. It just all seemed to real and for the first time she really thought about why she couldn't open doors.

It was too much, there was no way it could be real, yet it made so much sense at the same time. It had to be from a past life but that was crazy, wasn't it? Inas mind reeled for hours about it.

the sounds of the house waking up pulled her out of her thoughts. Ina stood up to get dressed as she took the first step her foot got tangled in the sheet. Stumbling to catch herself, Ina managed to fall out of the entrance on the floor that connected her room to the main part of the house. The ladder that went from the entrance to the floor caught the blanket caused her to spin mid air right into her fathers arms.

Booming with laughter Wulfric kissed Ina on her head as her look of surprise and mortification was too much for him to handle. "Happy Birthday." He finally managed to tell her after a few minutes. "Why don't you get dressed and try coming down the right way?" He set her down shaking his head the laughter, at her expense, still shining in his eyes as he walked away leaving Ian scrambling back to her room and dress for the day.

Smiling lazily at his family, Luca flicked on his most charming self. Before he even got a word out though, his father's chuckled rolled through the tavern.

"Go on, my boy, I don't want exposed to that heartbreaking charm. Save it for the pretty lasses who come and pay just to make eyes at you. Go have fun, but be back for the evening rush. We still need you."

Grinning widely, Luca fished his coinpurse from his cloak and ran out the door with many times more agile grace than he had exhibited trudging down the stairs. Silently, he tried to think of what all his friends might be doing. Almost all had a birthday today.
Ina jumped down into the hallway and was securing her chain as her younger siblings rushed her with their delightful screes of happy birthday and their endless drone of how they were going to make a cake and pie and an enormous feast that night. Ina smiled adoringly at them as she took their hands and lead them toward the delicious smell of.. burning?

Ina let go of their hands and rushed to the kitchen and froze for a moment. As her father was standing there in her mothers cooking robe fanning out the smoke screaming obscenities at their charcoal like breakfast. Ina's mouth gaped and her mouth started to twitch into a smile. In no time Ina was on her knees as she was laughing so hard, her mother was leaning against the door frame with that "I told you so" satisfied smirk plastered onto her face. The children were laughing pointing at their father asking if he was their new mommy. Wulfric gave a snarl that would make any lion proud and stormed out of the room.

Many jokes and snide comments later Ina found herself walking into town for breakfast. Ina sighed and stomped out of the house in frustration as her father handed her money and told her to go make new friends. "What a jerk!" Ina grumbled as she kicked rocks down the road. She didn't know how to make friends outside of training. Most people just looked at her funny and made comments behind her back about her inability to open doors. Ina thought that most of the people were nice to her because of her father.

Ina bit her lip as she made her way through the town and stopped just outside of the tavern where she was going to have some breakfast. Ina took a deep breath and looked around to see that no one was around. Ina slowly moved her hand to hover over the door handle. Her heart was pounding, her body was shaking and visions of her dream tore through her mind. Ina touched the handle and yanked her had back as though it were on fire. Ina sighed in defeat and was about to walk away as someone walked out. Sighing with relief Ina took her chance to slip in and sat down in the back corner, where she would be able to see everyone and the door.
The sprite Carma was just beginning to enjoy her well-earned rest when Beni woke up and dumped her on the floor. It wasn't painful, really, but it WAS insult to injury! She was tired and sore, and the cramps were just starting to go away, dammit!

She fought her way free of the tangled blankets, her comprehensive knowledge of invective muffled by the fabric. When she finally won free, she launched herself into the air and hovered at head height, yelling at Beni's back in her tinny voice. "Hey! Beni! What the hell was that for, hey? I come to help you and that's the thanks I get!? Dumped on the ground in a pile of blankets?"
Luck was having an interesting morning, if such a term could be applied to the Deific realms, where time was nothing if not flexible. And Time was flexible indeed. Talking to her tended to be incredibly disorienting, though some of the positions she could pull off...

He watched as the separate souls that had been Luca and Luna merged seamlessly, leaving no trace that there had ever been two, and as the battered Katara spontaneously reincarnated herself from the seed he'd planted so long ago. Jaquelyn ceased to be entirely - the soul no longer existed, and indeed never had. Luck would have to find himself a new candidate. He'd hoped to make an appearance early on, before certain events were set to play out, but it looked as if he would have to wait. He felt that perhaps he was beginning to understand a certain witticism about mice and men.
After struggling with a rather uncooperative brier for a moment, Beni finally gets it out, grinning at it... before slowly turning her smile into a somewhat serious stare... cautiously turning towards the sound of the voice - only to come face-to-body with an agitated pixie. Brows furrowed, she reaches onto her own arm, pinching it.

One could aaaalmost see her brain working as she thought about the situation... "...Sprite?" She mentions, before slowly getting up, looking around the window... walking slowly around the room, as if making sure there was no one watching, or no one playing a trick on her. Opening the door to look around a bit - no one there.

She closes the door, looking back to the sprite... "...There's some sorta special-like thin' I've gotta do, righ'? All the stories 'bout tha wee folk - no 'fense when I say that, by the by - said they're more'n 'appy ta be givin' out curses an' tha lot... wot's all this 'bout 'elping me, neh?"
Luca raised an eyebrow as a small female shape slipped past him into the inn. He contemplated going back in after her, but it was his day off! With a sharp burst, he took a gasp and the world seemed hazy around him, his eyes coating over.

He looked back to the building where his mother and father sat. Something seemed missing. With a slight tingle on his scalp, he turned back toward the sunlit town.
Morning found Alex kneeling in front of the temple's altar, hands clasped in prayer. He was going through the prayers, each and every prayer he'd learned for as long as he could remember. A prayer for luck, a prayer for business, a prayer for wealth, a prayer for prosperity, a prayer for honor, a prayer for--

Alex's knees hurt, his legs had fallen asleep, he was cold. He had been praying over and over ever since he had woken up. It wasn't that this was the time he usually got up to do chores like cleaning and cooking before having to do his studies. It was because of the strange dream he'd had, a dream that became more vague as he tried to remember more of it.

Alex turned at the sensation of being watched but didn't get up. There was a man in his sixties, dressed in priest's robes standing at the door some yards away, past the rows of benches and candles, standing there, studying him. He was thin, tall, long white beard and no hair under his priest's cap.

It was Father Hendrik. Alex stood once he recognized him and slowly walked over to him. He read the older man's lips. "What are you doing here? You are supposed to be getting breakfast ready."

Alex's hands began to move in sign language, the one way he felt comfortable talking. "I could not sleep. I had ... trouble sleeping. I came to pray and find peace."

Father Hendrik smiled and nodded. Then he responded back in sign language. "I understand. But you must remember that prayers can only do so much. Ten more minutes and then report to the kitchen. May you find what you seek and be at peace." He put a hand on Alex's head, nodded and left the boy alone.

Alex watched him go and then glanced away, looking all the more disturbed.
Yvonne skipped through the town, occasionally stopping to chat with other people in the village. She'd ask a few questions about what they were up to, offer to help, get shooed away, none of which seemed to bother her in the least. Her first stop was to see if William was available, but she spotted him off with his teacher-guy. Probably not a good idea to bother him yet.

Her second stop was at the bakery where she purchased a couple of those really sweet, very delicious pasteries with the fruit fillings. Last week she had tried a few experiments in making them herself, but... they didn't quite go over like she had anticipated. Maybe she should apprentice for a summer.

As she walked past the Temple, Yvonne slowed. Yesterday had been Alex's birthday too and she never had a chance to give him birthday wishes. Granted, normally if he caught sight of her, he took off running. She supposed he was shy or afraid of girls or something.

So, there she went, entering the temple. Quiet as a mouse, she glanced around at the humble surroundings as she walked down one of the isles. Yvonne never got the whole praying to invisible deities thing. It didn't make sense.

Once she saw Alex, she stood behind him for a few moments as he knelt praying. It would have been rude to scream his name in the temple (though it would have been really funny) so instead, she reached out and tapped him on the shoulder.

Alex had just returned to praying when someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned and blinked. Yvonne! He blinked and waved in greeting. Most people found it hard to speak louder without shouting in order for him to hear them. Yvonne was not most people.

Then Alex remembered that it had been Yvonne's birthday, too. He pulled out his pad and pen and scribbled something down. Then he showed it to Yvonne for her to read, because he knew she could. "Happy birthday, Yvonne."
"Thanks Alex! I didn't see you yesterday, so I came to say Happy Birthday to you too!" Stepped back, Yvonne made a big deal about showing off her new dress. It was simple in design and fell just past the knees, but the fabric was top quality and it was trimmed with embroidery. With long sleeves, a lower neckline, and a cord to tie the corset from the back, it seemed to blend the style youthful spirit and growing older perfectly.

"Lookie! A brand new dress for my birthday! The skirt is short enough to climb trees or attack somebody. I was going to go wrestle William, but he's busy right now. Hey, why are you still hanging around in here praying? Aren't you usually heading elsewhere by now?" Now that she was done posing, she was blinking at Alex curiously. He looked kind of disturbed - well, more disturbed than usual.

"Are people bothering you again, because I'll go beat them up if you want me to."
Alex smiled when she started to show off her new dress, especially the part about her climbing trees and attacking people. That was Yvonne to the letter, daring to do things no one else would do because it was too dangerous or people just didn't do those type of things while wearing a skirt. But then she caught on about him praying longer than usual and looking worried and he blinked. Oh, if only she wasn't so observant about these things!

Alex quickly shook his head. No, no one was bothering him. Well, no more so than usual. But suddenly Kyr and his band of thugs didn't seem so bad. (Eh, he was certain he'd rethink that the next time he ran into them.) Attempting to get Yvonne's mind elsewhere, he scribbled something else on the pad after crossing out his previous entry.

"Busy?" It read.
"No, I'm not busy." Yvonne replied, leaning forward ever closer to stare at his face. Mostly, because she knew it was intimidating and it seemed like he was changing the subject. "Are you busy?"

She leaned back again, giving him some relief as she turned away and was poking at one of the wall tapestries. She wondered how they managed to weave the fabric together all thick like this. Let alone tassels. Tassels looked like they took forever to make.

"Dad gave a chore-free day, so I thought it'd be a good time to have an adventure." she said over her shoulder, but suddenly casting a sly look. "You wanna come play with me? I know you're usually off reading, but we've read every book in Haler's Mill by now. We should build a catapult and see how far we can send a bale of hay flying! ...Or a person. I bet flying would be fun."
Alex looked a little ... worried about Yvonne's idea. A person flying in a catapult? There were a lot of things that could go wrong, so many things. It really wasn't a safe thing to be doing but Yvonne might give him the talk about only living once.

Only living once.

"G'morning, Yvonne, Alex," someone greeted. It was another of the priests, the thin but short Father Vehr. He had his hands tucked into the long sleeves of his priest robes. He'd been much rounder once, folds of his skin a testament of that. He had small eyes, wore spectacles and his short hair was colored salt and pepper.

Alex signed a "Good morning back to him" and then began to apologize for being late to the kitchen to begin his day of chores.

Father Vehr squinted at that but then he nodded in reply. He still had some trouble following Alex's quick but fluid sign languages. He had learned it slower than the other priests at Haler's Mill. "Y'are keeping him comp'ny?" he asked Yvonne.
"I've come to kidnap him." Yvonne said it with a straight face and such a serious tone, that it might have very well been the truth. All she needed was a sack and a sword.

She probably didn't even need the sack.

Putting on her nicest expression, her hands were clasped behind her back as she gave the priest a big wide smile. "I was going to make him play with me. You don't miiiiiind do you? Mary Hallisberd says 'A child should have freedom to enjoy their imagination before they face the harsh realities of the world' and since we're only still 16 it would be a healthy flexing of our youth!"

Sometimes what people say in idle conversations came back to haunt them. She liked remembering useful tidbits for moments like this. And if the Father didn't agree - Well. She'd just make good on that kidnapping threat.