Ties That Bind

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  1. Perhaps she should have had that shot of rum before heading out of the dorms that morning. Maybe the liquor would have put a finite end to the colony of butterflies unfurling their wings in her stomach. Placing a hand over her abdomen, fingers spread in a delicate pattern, nails rounded down to the fine edge of the cuticle, Kellen inhaled. On the count of three, she exhaled, letting the simple breathing exercise occupy the wealth of her thoughts instead of what lay beyond the door of the sitting room.

    Not an individual prone to panic, and even less to the entrapment of hyperbole, she was nonetheless understandably concerned. There were few points in anyone’s life when they could genuinely see their life’s path branching, with nowhere to go but blindly forward, no control over which road was ultimately chosen. It felt like laying on an operating room, waiting for the knockout gas and having to trust strangers that she’d wake up at all afterward.

    For all the inherent poignancy being in that sitting room signified, it was hardly anything but exactly that. Rows of off-green chairs lined up against the walls in rows, the discreet hum of an industrial air conditioner, a heavy carpet that muffled sound. Across from her sat a pair of freshmen pretending to be occupied checking their cellphones, though the way their eyes flickered towards the door at the end of the room every other minute was a dead giveaway that the Angry Birds play session wasn’t enough to take their minds off the ordeal they were about to undertake.

    Once upon a time, only a year previous, Kellen had been in their position. Antsy but hopeful. Now she was very resigned to the real possibility that her second go at the Summoning Ceremony was going to go pear-shaped, same as last year’s, and that she would have to leave Savannah Treaty. SGUA had no use for people who were unable to form a partnership with an entity from the Celestial, regardless of how badly they might have wanted it. Simply didn’t work that way.
    Kellen closed her eyes; rested her head back. No telling how long it would take for the other candidate to pass. It could take hours. They’d already been there at least forty minutes. The sounds of squawking birds and pigs oinking filled the room again.

    Sometime later – a quick review of the clock said it was twelve past ten in the morning – the closed door swung on its hinges. All summoner candidates tensed, gazes snapping to the sleek blond woman conducting the ceremony, tablet in hand. Whether the other had failed or succeeded was impossible to tell, her expression was professionally ambivalent.
    “Miss Thomas, the room is ready for you.”

    Time to face the Pied Piper. The rest of the candidates relaxed; they weren’t on the chopping block yet. Kellen rose to her feet and followed after the woman, tennis shoes barely making a whispered echo to the other’s sharp clicking heels. Heading down into the hallway that seemed remarkably nondescript and plebian for the purpose it existed, Kellen found that she was almost okay with the specter of failure. It wouldn’t be the end of the world. It wasn’t like she hadn’t had a year to adapt and plan for a future as a civilian.

    They went through another door. When it wasn’t being used for Summoning day, the structure functioned as the offices for staff and registration, but the interconnection rooms and hallways were always kept separate and closed during the rest of the year. Supposedly, the walls themselves were carved with Celestial magic that bound new Guardians to remain put, until a pair became bonded. As a human, Kellen couldn’t sense anything unusual, but her roommate’s Guardian certainly didn’t seem to like going near the administration offices.

    Then again, no one did.

    Locked in with no outside windows, the Summoning room was devoid of all furniture. It was large and perfectly square, with a circle outlined that nearly touched all four corners. The floor was pure cement; her soles rasped against the rough surface. Within the circle itself were visible runes, painted in lines of color, working their way in intensity in bands until finally the center symbols were painted in pure white, twirling lines that culminated in a tree similar to the American Willow tree, the Emperor’s symbol both on earth and on the Celestial. Somewhere on earth, it was said, there was a tree exactly like that, but like a lot of things involving the Celestial, there was a lot of hearsay and very little factual reinforcement.

    “Good luck.” The woman said, sympathy lingering in the words, and left Kellen after handing her a disposable razor, shutting the door. There were no electric lights in the room. Instead the circle glowed steadily, casting ambient illumination from floor to ceiling. The young woman let out a sigh and put her hands together, cracking her knuckles out of old habit.

    “Well, here we go.” One foot moved over the line, then the other. The glyphs began to glow a little brighter, the luminescent light moving and shifting, causing an aurora effect of rippling colors in the air. Kellen applied the thin razor next to the inside of her arm, cutting lightly, avoiding making an unnecessary mess. The pain was a hot burn that stung, but it was only slightly more than a scratch. Kellen moved her arm so that a few drops hit the floor. Then she took a step forward again, and repeated the process, waiting until a few drops of blood fell before moving on to the next section.

    By the time she reached the white tree, the small cut had stopped bleeding and was reduced to a low sting. By then an actual indoor aurora borealis had formed, shimmering and swaying. Kellen slipped the razor into a back pocket and carefully looked around; the first time, she’d been too awestruck to appreciate the spectacle. Perhaps there were some benefits of failing the first time.

    The last step took her into the center, the tips of her red tennis shoes brushing against the stylized roots of the Emperor’s tree. Kellen clasped a hand over her arm, making sure no blood dropped, and hesitated for a delicate moment, the immensity of the moment making itself known. This was it. Only one thing left to do.

    Kellen raised her voice above its normal pitch, the words absorbed by the curtain of gleaming lights instead of bouncing off the walls. “My name is Kellen Thomas, and I wish to enter a pact with a being of the Celestial, for the mutual protection of monster and human alike, as per the Treaty of Rights, as agreed upon by the Emperor. If I am suitable, please heed my summons.”
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  2. Food. That was the first, last and most important thing on Anax's mind, intermixed with the desire for a nice long nap. Nine days spent chasing down a couple of wayward Zephyr spirits, that thought it would be fun to scatter around their food. Now, he had to make it back to his current home. Cursing slightly, he again wondered what they had all been drinking to choose inside a cavern as their current home. Purely as a safety standpoint it was an excellent place. Surrounded by the thick thorny branches of the trees, and deep underground where few could even see. Anax's problem with it was, there was absolutely no room to maneuver at all. There were places to sleep, but with seven other's roughly his same size, it got pretty cramped.

    He had to admit it though, the Zephyr spirits sure knew how to fly. He hadn't had that much fun chasing something in years. Even having to walk through the prickly vines couldn't ruin his good mood. The swooping, twisting on the wind, curling to reach new heights, it was a thrill that could never be matched. Only the best fliers were made into scouts, and Anax had no intention of letting anyone take his spot.

    He had been feeling slightly antsy all day. It showed in the twitch of his tail, a shift of the wings. He had simply chalked it up to not being able to fly that day. That was normal, nothing usual. In fact, he had almost made it to the opening of the cavern before something caught his eye. It was suddenly a lot brighter than it should be. Little bits of color, here and there, some dim some brilliant, none of which belonged in in the shadowed area that he was in.

    Anax had heard about this from others. It was a summoning. They came with no warning, these little bits of color the only notice one received. It steadily grew brighter and brighter, and the last thing Anax thought before he had to close his eyes, his kind not overly fond of very bright lights, was that he hoped whomever it was wasn't one of those insanely chipper types.
  3. Once the words were said, there was a minute of silence. Kellen’s palm pressed down hard against the wound, the only sign of duress she demonstrated, despite being quite alone in the large room. There were no cameras, no two way mirrors, no one observing and no one on standby to help if something went wrong. Not until they heard the screams, anyway.
    She shifted, weight pending on her back foot, trying not to become too restless as each second ticked by, uncounted and invisible but felt, an internal pair of hands moving rigidly, not unkind, but final. Kellen tossed a look left, then right, expecting the floating manifestation of power to ebb and dissipate at any moment, much as it had the first time she had entered the summoning chamber. It was taking longer than she remembered. Or perhaps her perception of time had gone out of whack.

    Still, nothing was happening, other than the interminable glissando of—

    Kellen bit her tongue on a stifled yelp as she jumped back, nearly clearing the inner tree circle line, but stopped herself in the nick of time, automatically assuming a combat ready position, legs spread evenly, rear heel raised with force pushed on the ball of her foot, ready to move fast. Like a reverse sonic boom, the noise had hit her first, like slamming into a wall of pure sound, and barely a fraction later, the rest of the monster appeared.

    No, not a monster, Kellen corrected herself mentally, a rather piteous token attempt at logic as the large room was suddenly cramped and immensely insufficient to house the large, winged creature that had invaded her personal space. Worse than that, they were a tight fit within the circle, unable to move forwards or backwards or risk breaking the spell.

    Once the rest of her brain had caught up with events, Kellen had to resist the urge to shoot out a surprised expletive at the fact of reality; there was a Guardian in the room with her. A big one at that; she had to tilt her head back to look up at it, and staring into it face gave her pause. That wasn’t the friendliest of faces. Medieval stonemasons had crafted gargoyles more amicable looking than the elongated jaw full of stiletto sharp teeth, skin like bracketed pieces of black shiny metal conjoined together when it didn’t give way to red scales along the membrane of wings. She wanted to say it was a dragon, but dragons didn’t look like that, either.

    From jump to stare, only a few seconds had passed. Kellen unhooked teeth from her sore tongue and, as she wasn’t quite done yet, brazenly went on. “What is the requirement of your pact?”
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  4. The anxious feeling Anax had all day suddenly got much worse. It was a tingling that started in the tips of his wings and spread all the way to the tip of his snout and tail. After a minute, it felt more like a million tiny bugs were crawling around under his scales. Next came a headache and the oddest feeling of shrinking, which Anax could not for the life of him figure out why that was happening. He wasn't even the biggest in his group.

    When the brightness faded, at least enough for him to open his eyes, he was in a plain room. His oddly pale eyes snapped from one thing to the next. first the simple walls, which certainly explained the continued tingling in his limbs, then the symbols on the floor. The slight scent of blood was obviously from the small drops on the floor. Finally, he was crammed into this circle with a human... no, his summoner.

    Shifting his tail slightly, so that he didn't accidentally hit the girl with it, though that would have made an amusing first impression, Anax tilted his head so that he could see her properly, taking note of the height, color, and scent of this girl. It only made sense really, if they were gonna be partners, then he should make a point to be able to pick her out of a crowd. The thing that pleased him the most was the red in her hair. Red was always a sign that someone would be good in a fight, at least, among Wyverns.

    When she stared at him and demanded to know the terms, he blinked. Hells, he hadn't even thought of what a good thing would be to ask for. He knew from others, that they could ask for nearly anything, and while it would be so amusing to ask for something completely ridiculous just to see if she would do it, that probably wouldn't benefit him in the end. Still, he hissed out a short laugh, which sounded nothing like a laugh at all. "I think.. an hour a day of free flight will suffice, within reason of course. Do you accept?"

    That was kind of a strange request, Anax was sure of that. But, free flight sounded heavenly, especially since there would be a great deal of work that the two would have to do. It was going to be hard enough staying in one place all the time, but doing so without being able to fly at all simply would not do.
  5. “I’m sorry, what?” Questioning a creature that looked like it ate her body weight in one day was technically not advisable, but Kellen just raised her eyebrows, bewildered with the minimal requirement of the pact. For such a fearsome looking dragon-creature, that was a very simple task to ask for. Trivial, really. She’d heard of that happening with other Summoners, a pact that was barely more than a courtesy nod to the outlines of the Treaty, from Guardians who didn’t care to test the worthiness of their Summoners so much as the chance to live on earth for a few decades. Apparently, fast food restaurants and cable was something of legendary novelties in certain parts of the Celestial.

    It just hadn’t occurred to Kellen that she would be one of those. Mostly because she hadn’t expected so much a moth to show up to keep her company until time ran out. Priorities. One of which she was currently blowing.

    "Is that all you want?" She questioned, perhaps tempting fate to pitch a fastball at her, but too judiciously fair to want to deal with a Guardian who'd later come to regret the meager deal. For all the service they provided to the world, it seemed only honorable to try to not hose them in a deal. Easing slightly off the combat stance she’d pulled into, Kellen waited a beat, to give chance for another sibilant reply or change of mind, but not much more than that. She wasn’t that idealistic.

    “I mean, yeah, you can fly all you want, you’ll be my partner, I’m not going to keep you on a leash or anything. So if that's all you want...” More like they both had people to answer to when they stepped out of line, but Kellen didn’t relish the idea of having a Guardian she’d have to babysit, nor did she enjoy the thought of telling anyone what to do. If it wanted to fly, she wasn’t going to ground it. Sure, she was probably going to have to tell it to watch out for things it probably wouldn’t easily recognize or be able to put into context, like ‘no flying over military bases, they’re trigger-happy’, but she fully believed in an equal partnership.
  6. He had to admit, the look on her face was almost worth the uncomfortable feeling being stuck in the room was giving him. Almost. Really though, he didn't have any idea what this girl could actually do for him. Anax knew the details of the Treaty, everyone did, but he didn't know anything about Earth save rumors, and half of them sounded completely made up. He hissed out another laugh. Actually the more he thought about it the better it sounded. The last thing he wanted was someone that would boss him about, that would almost be as bad as one of those bubbly types.

    "I want many things, as most do." Anax stated, the tip of his tail tapping the ground slightly. "However, that seemed like something you could actually give me." He shifted slightly, bringing his head down slightly closer to her level. "Also, your name. I am Ksuvanianax. You may call me Anax."

    It was always difficult to judge the expressions of creatures with scales. Generally, they always looked the same. However, by watching wings, and tail, the shifts in the neck, you could actually figure out quite a bit with a little practice. His tail came up a bit, moving back and forth, much like humans did when talking with their hands. His wings shifted, laying close to his sides. "A leash?" Another chuckle. "I doubt you have one in my size..." The tail moved again, pointing at Kellen. "The deal is acceptable, so lets be finished here."

    He did not like the room, although Kellen so far seemed entertaining enough. Granted, he was not really looking forward to taking a human shape, as Anax was sure he was going to despise being so small. The lack of wings would be strange but, it would be easier to sneak around. He's have to wait and see.
  7. "Right. Well. You might be surprised." This was in reply to the comment about there not being collars in its size, by which she indicated by gesturing at her throat, but left the odd comment as a non sequitur. There would be plenty of time enough to explain the intricate oddities of a world populated by both humans, monsters, and the wide world of the internet and all those who gathered there. She eased slightly, realizing it wasn't one step away from reaching down and chomping her head in half between the powerful jaws.

    Ksuvanianax. He said it so easily; Kellen's tongue attempted to twist itself at the thought of pronouncing it correctly, and people accused the Scottish of overusing conjoined vowels. Thank the Lord he supplied an easier nickname, she didn't relish awkwardly saying 'hey you' for the rest of her life. It also, belatedly but quick on the heels of it happening, occurred to her that in her mind the Guardian had gone from the genderless it to he, though Celestial voices and applying human standards to them weren't always the best matched. Perhaps it was the hint of patience. Well; soon enough, she'd find out.

    Since there were no hands, or anything approximate to hands to shake, she threaded her own fingers together in a clasping gesture and bowed a fraction from the hip and over, a sign of respect for this creature that was to be her partner for years, and for the sacrifice made in the name of honoring the Emperor’s wishes; a spiritual and physical commitment to policing a world they had nothing to do with.

    “My name is Kellen Thomas, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Anax.” The light tilt of her homegrown brogue presented a heavy emphasis on the first vowel, familiarizing the foreign name. Instructions were always purposefully vague at that part of the ritual, likely as to not lead to expected etiquette to stumble into the face of creatures with free will who moved and acted in unpredictable ways.

    Some things, however, were a must; Kellen couldn’t leave the circle without him, and he was currently too large to do more than shuffle around in the available free space, weaving his tail in a hypnotic way reminiscent of a cat to her. He was probably going to miss that an awful lot when it was gone.

    “I’m afraid I might need you to be a bit more my size for us to leave.” She pointed out, noticing that the waving bands of different colors were beginning to grow wan, like watercolors seeping vividness. Whatever that meant, she didn’t know, but probably it was the Celestial’s way of saying get on with it. In the most whimsical, majestic way possible, of course.
  8. Another of his laughs was the only response to her comment. He wasn't terribly concerned about it, although he did appreciate what he saw as an attempt at humor. Fortunately, she didn't appear to be one of those stuffy uptight types, or those that rambled about whatever little thing popped into her head. At this point, he wasn't sure which would have been more annoying.

    Anax's eyes flicked around the room again, before landing on Kellen again. Curious, as all Dragons and their kin are, he took a moment to study her. This tiny (to him) thing was going to be the one watching his back, keeping him alive. It was a strange thing to consider, and certainly something that he was going to have to get used to. Despite the red adorning her hair, her other coloring spoke more of a wanderer than a fighter. The blue, reminded Anax of the sky he so loved, while her clothing, appeared comfortable, yet easy to move in. Her skin was pale, yet the marks on her tiny hands proved that hard work would not be a problem for this one.

    When she gave her slight bow and offered her name, he ducked his head slightly, a slight wave traveling up the length of his neck. It was the equivalent of a bow for a creature that could not exactly mimic the gesture. Again, his tail flicked back and forth, reminiscent of a dismissive wave. "I suppose you make a valid point, yet you should understand my reluctance to become even smaller. I am already diminished from what I was back home." Still, He had to admit that she made a very good point.

    All Guardians could transform into a human shape. Some, who looked forward to making making a bond with a summoner, spent a good deal of their time in that form. Anax, who was a nomad and a scout, hadn't used that shape since he was a child in the eyes of his clan. Still, like any magic, once learned it was never forgotten. The gold eyes closed, and after a moment the large form started to shimmer slightly. The faint waves of color, all darker shades, seemed to waver, like the sun on a hot day. The large form started to shrink, dark scales turning into tanned colored skin. The wings transforming into lanky arms, and the tail vanishing completely.

    When the spell was finished, he stayed still for a moment, getting his balance. Immediately he missed his size, yet it was nice not to feel so cramped. Inky colored hair, hung messily to his waist, long bangs covering part of his face. The eyes though, those were exactly the same as they had been. His age was obvious when you looked at them. "Well, better?" His new voice was raspy, like one who had spent fifty years smoking heavily, rough and gravely. One eyebrow rose, and a small smirk grew on his face.
  9. “My apologies for that.” It had to be incredibly uncomfortable to shrink, and then, a literal paradigm shift of readjusting one’s views from an entirely different view point. Had it been her, Kellen would have been loath to do the same. Akin to going to sea, where nothing felt or moved right to eyes accustomed to staid rigidity, but multifold worse to every sense possessed. Unfortunately, the human world still had problems accommodating the requirements of monsters who lived among them en masse, taking into consideration the impressive bodies of Celestial beings would ensure no building could ever properly be built to standard to suit all who might go inside.

    He was just gonna love living in a cramped dorm suite.

    Out of respect, and unsure of how adept this Guardian of hers was with magic, nor how long the transmutation would take from beginning to end, Kellen stared down at her interwoven fingers, the round nails and hard fingertips speaking bluntly of thoroughly brutal hand to hand combat that only did not result in more permanent injury thanks to a Combat Master with a Guardian partner whose special focus was healing, and a monster handling the University’s private clinic whose magic was impeccable. Even if the rest of his personality was rotten. He did good work.

    From peripheral sight she could see the undergoing changes, muted under the more dramatic tinting of the array’s display. It cost the human brain, somewhat, even if one was theoretically inured to such events, to fully grasp what went against what the laws of physics and reality. Certain forms of visible magic could outright make people sick, and other transformations from full form to human and human to full form were… not pleasant, by anyone’s standards. Anax’s, however, seemed markedly smooth and undramatic No sickening crunch of bone and snap of sinew.

    She glanced up when innate sense said the deed was done, and shot him a quick look from top to bottom, undisturbed by the nudity. Wouldn’t be the first naked guy she’d seen that week, anyway. Living with a hedonistic Celestial being and working at a nightclub stomped hard on any shy, maidenly little vestiges anyone could have.

    “You’ll fit through the door, at least.” Kellen replied, directly, and, considering it, asked, “Do you need help walking or are you good?” At least he’d been a biped to start with. She glanced at the singular door through which she’d entered, knowing the other room down the end of the hall was part wardrobe closet to deal with the first initial hurdle of introducing new Guardians to their lives on earth, as well as offering medical aid for those Summoners unlucky enough to get a Guardian whose requirements were downright predatory.
  10. Anax, after one long stretch, that popped his back, examined the back of his left hand. While being different from claws, it was interesting to see the veins move when he flexed his new fingers. The long scar along the back of his hand actually made him smirk wider. He remembered the fight that made the scar than ran down his wing. In fact, he was a little surprised to see that it had transferred to his new shape. Other than the noticeable differences, the hair was certainly going to take some getting used to, it wasn't all that bad.

    Like Kellen, Anax wasn't concerned with being nude. Things like embarrassment, shyness, and uncertainly, simply weren't things that Anax ever felt. Wyverns, in general, were never shy or embarrassed, as all of them despite various types of colors or size, looked generally the same. As for uncertainty, well there was no room for that. You saw what needed done, and you did it, it either worked or it didn't.

    At Kellen's question, he shrugged. Anax straightened a bit, and took a step, only slightly unsteady. "No, I'll manage." He glanced at the door as well, "There is food out there at some point, right?" He still had plans for a good meal and a nap. Being summoned and gaining a partner wasn't going to change those plans, only delay them. "Because, I've had an... interesting few days." The smile came back, thinking about the fight, and then the chase. He moved over to stand next to his summoner, looking down at her, from his slight height advantage.
  11. "Food, yes, and the wonderful thing known as -- well, I'll let you find out for yourself." It should be interesting to discover how he would react to shoes, among other things. Kellen turned around, then, in that space of discretion first offered by no longer facing her Guardian, an easing of tension and flourish of relief; a catharsis of twelve months of self-existential crises and dark pits of plateaued confidence. The real wellspring of thankfulness and release tension wouldn't come still yet, not when there were still things that were her responsibility to get done. Primarily, working to guide Anax into the not always entirely reasonable world of humans.

    "You can tell me later. As it stands, I venture to guess the next few are probably going to be even more interesting." Since he'd said that he didn't need help, and aside from a controlled wobble, Kellen just walked forward, but not quickly, allowing him to stay close and sliding a hand back over her arm, which by then had stopped bleeding entirely, but no one had mentioned whether or not bleeding on the array after things were said and done was a good thing. Better not to discover that on her own.

    Before crossing the final band she hesitated and focused with a flare of quiet intensity, aware that once they exited the room would be sanitized of the impurities of her blood, wiping the slate clean for the other students still waiting their turn back in the sitting room. Still, she had the instinctive surge of self-preservation that ventured to imply that walking straight into a wall of magic and break a seal, however intentionally, might trigger an unpleasant feedback.

    One tennis-wearing foot slid forward cautiously, nudging the curved edge of the circle. When it met with no resistance, Kellen straightened her shoulders ever so faintly and stepped over the circle onto the clean cement.

    The aurora hung in the air a moment longer and then, like suspended water suddenly resubmitting itself to the whims of gravity, splashed to the floor and dissipated in filaments of light. Very showy. Las Vegas could probably learn a trick or two from real magic. As a result, however, Kellen's all too human eyes went from relying on the steady illumination to the meager glow of the sigils on the ground. Blindly, she reached in the direction of the door, awkward as an overturned turtle, until she gripped the doorknob and pulled it open, spilling in electric light that had nothing to do with otherwordly origins.

    "I guess you're not a vegetarian, are you?" Though genial, and maybe an odd place to start, Kellen genuinely couldn't think of another opening salvo as the hallway stretched out in front of them, clothes and food awaiting them. She, personally, could have done with a pint.
  12. "Ah... I've heard of some of your ... wonderful things..." His tone was dryly amused, one hand moving a bit as he spoke. In truth, he was looking forward to it. It wasn't exactly what he had planned but, he was adaptable, to a point. "Although, I have to admit, some of them sound completely ridiculous." Honestly, who in all the worlds would believe that a human could get paid a fortune to hit a ball while swimming.

    He grin reappeared at her comment. "Interesting is how you look at it." He wasn't going to argue, mostly because Kellen was probably right. Learning to have a partner, being in a completely different world was bound to be interesting, but he was pretty sure he had some stories that might catch her attention. "Granted, I could tell you about a raid some Lupines did on the Nature spirits." He gestured a bit, as Kellen moved toward the edge of the circle, making a point to keep pace with her.

    The colors drew Anax's attention away from Kellen. It was lovely, in an artistic way, the muted colors something a creature used to darkness could appreciate without being overly harsh. As the aurora fell to the floor, the light dissipating, Anax's eyes only took a second to adjust. The faint glow from the symbols almost brilliant to his eyes. The shadows in the room felt almost like old friends, something he could easily get lost in and never be found. It almost made him want to try, shadow jumping a skill that he rarely used anymore. Then, Kellen opened the door and the bright light ruined the pleasing thought. This light was sharp, and shattered the illusions that the darkness could bring.

    "I sincerely hope you're joking." Anax shot Kellen a flat look, hand dropping immediately. "Plants are for rabbits..." He grinned abruptly. "Rabbits are for dinner... Well, that and for drinking with." There was very little funnier than an intoxicated rabbit spirit trying to hump everything in the room.
  13. "I guess that's one of those things you're going to have to tell me about. Rabbits, huh...?" Their worlds were so different, it was a little difficult for Kellen to grasp. Even if she'd lived with another Guardian for a year, Gaen's unique personality insured that it would be wise to take everything he said not with a grain of salt, but with a whole sack of it. It was going to be interesting to see how Anax reacted to the sardonic fairy... and how loudly Cassie would cheer when she realized her roommate had passed the test.

    "Nah, I'm joking. There's plenty of meat. Though I'm told nothing tastes quite the same." Again, by Gaen, on one of the few things he seemed genuinely sincere about in frustration that nobody seemed to be able to make decent pipe snuff anymore.

    The hallway wasn't overly long, just the width of the summoning chamber they'd vacated. The building would need to be rebuilt or the summoning ceremony moved to a new area soon, as Savannah Treaty had been founded with the idea of maintaining a local student base, not to be accepting trainees from all over the world, but good summoning schools were rare, and even with the high turnover rate of students dropping out or being removed from the program, there was often a waiting queue. But if there was one thing she’d discovered in moving to Georgia, it was that the people of Savannah liked little less than to knock down the old in favor of the new. They held an immense pride over being the oldest city in the state, and the Historical Society’s stamp was on nearly every house, structure and building, making it verboten to even consider an upgrade.

    She opened the door down the hall, remembering from her brief, rushed exit through it when she’d failed. It was filled with racks of clothing in all sizes and colors, a temporary stopgag before a full wardrobe could be ordered, all on SGUA’s credit. Though even that had limits, and she’d never tried to dig too deeply into where certain Guardians appeared to get their bottomless finances from. It probably wasn’t very legal.

    The other summoner who had passed before her was still in the room, looking half-terrified and half-pleased as he tried to convince his apparent doubtful Guardian that clothing was necessary; she appeared to dwarf him by over a foot, a statuesque amazon with icy blue hair that shifted like licking flames, and whose interest seemed more focused on the table laden with trays of raw and cooked vegetables, chicken legs, sausages and fruits, the university’s best attempt at covering their bases. At least he’d convinced her pants were a good thing.

    On standby stood a STU staff member with a length of measuring tape, who didn’t seem to find the scene odd at all.
  14. "Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that everything has to be meat. There's nothing wrong with a berry tart." One shoulder came up in a half shrug, his right hand making a 'What can you do' gesture. Everyone had a preference though, and Anax's race tended to eat meat. It was simply the way it was. He fell silent after that, that little smirk still toying at the corner of his mouth. Honestly, he was just glad to be out of that room.

    Nothing here felt the same, that was a truth none could deny. Even in the cavern that his small group currently claimed there was always a feeling of magic in the air. Nothing that could be seen, but more the air felt slightly heavier. Here, the air seemed thinner. The building was also strange. It was old, but many buildings in the Celestial were, but it could simply be that Anax was more used to seeing them from high in the air than actually being inside of one.

    When Kellen opened the door, Anax actually chuckled at the sight before him. That poor summoner's patience was certainly going to be put to the test with that one. Anax had a feeling how it was going to work, he chose some clothes, and wore them, then he could eat. The most practical thing to do then was pick some. He didn't really care what they looked like, although he could see a leather jacket that reminded him of the color of his scales. Mostly, he just wanted to be as comfortable as he could be without actually being in his usual form.

    Being half distracted by the smell of the food, it had been a while since he last ate, Anax made an absent gesture with his hands. "Soo, Kellen, lets get this done so I can eat, hmm?" He flashed her a smile, just a hint of fangs showing when he did so. "I'm sure we have things to talk about, hmm?" He turned to poke at the clothes.
  15. Kellen reflexively smiled back at Anax, caught by surprise. She was still processing the whole chain of events and the moment she had a moment of privacy to herself that lasted more than two seconds she was probably going to dance a little jig and then text her twin brother, who was probably even more of a nervous wreck than she'd been, because they always worried more about the other than they did for themselves.

    "He'll take your measurements so we can order clothing for you. I'll try to get something you can wear out in the meantime." The redhead stepped back, glancing at his human form critically; he wasn't too dissimilar from her brother, and she'd been forced to go on enough shopping trips to get Camden to stop wearing his raggedy, torn old clothing to have a decent perspective on what to choose.

    The other summoner didn't seem so lucky. Kellen had to pass by the statuesque woman in order to enter the rows of racks, and caught sight of wickedly long nails, which she was using to perfunctorily shred meat from bone as well as a deboning knife could rasp flesh free. No wonder she didn't want to get dressed, the clothing wasn't even the right size. Internally going tsk, the altruistic element in Kellen couldn't resist collecting a one-piece body suit that should fit until something could be ordered in size Tall, Busty and Packed.

    Not inherently intrigued by comparing and culling clothing past what was functional and what wasn't, she still nonetheless was cautious in selecting nothing that was hideous or uncomfortable, coming out from behind the racks with not only the one-piece suit (which she dumped on the flabbergasted Summoner's arms without a word; let him sort out how he'd deal with his Guardian.) but a pair of matte black Levi's jeans, a deep red t-shirt and a leather jacket that she was pretty sure should fit well enough for a few days. Shoes they'd sort out later, that she didn't venture to guess at. At least underwater was pretty standard.

    "Here. If it doesn't fit, I'll find something else." Kellen set the pile on one of the unoccupied chairs, figuring the measuring session had gone off without hitch.
  16. Anax, who was really rather hungry, had behaved very well while the staff member, took his measurements. That, of course, didn't stop him from tossing out a comment to the other Guardian, a simple question about whether the food was any good. Anax was very good at amusing himself, and he spent the time getting measured, thinking up outrageous, and possibly insane things that the other Guardian could have asked her Summoner for. He knew of a Fox that had demanded that her Summoner steal her something beautiful every week.

    He chuckled a bit, when Kellen dumped the clothes on the other Summoner, and took a moment to be thankful that his partner wasn't an idiot. "It'll be fine." He waved his hand at the clothes. "I doubt I'll even know the difference." He felt this was a pretty good point. He wasn't used to clothes, and wouldn't be for a long time. Anax just didn't see the point in worrying about it. It really was more for Kellen and the other human's benefit. If it was up to Anax, he would just stay in his normal form the whole time. But, he could see how that might cause problems of it's own.

    It took a lot longer for him to actually get the clothes on than it would most Guardians. Several of them wore clothes regularly, while Anax didn't. Despite that, he did fairly well, getting tangled int he shirt only once. He did have a bit of a problem with his hair, as it seemed to always be in his way. The process had to be horribly funny for anyone watching. When he was finally dressed, the pants slightly loose, he shoved his hair out of his way again and looked himself over. It wasn't too bad really, he definitely liked the colors.

    Ignoring, for the moment, the boots that the helpful staff member had brought him, he wandered over toward the table, rather cheerfully picking up various things to eat, and pointedly staying far away from the pile that was in front of the other guardian. He had been rather patient in his opinion. Still, after another moment, in which three bits of meat and two of the sausages vanished, he moved back, trying and failing to figure out how to tie the laces. Finally coming to a decision, he simply removed the laces.

    Anax threaded his fingers together and stretched, before looking over at Kellen. "What's next?"
  17. Kellen observed how Anax seemed to examine each article of clothing critically before he put it on, it becoming apparent very quickly that like the other Guardian in the room, clothing wasn't something that came to him all that easily. But she didn't have to nag and cajole him into putting any of it on, so she was willing to call that a victory. She'd taken a seat on one of the empty chairs, sitting on the very edge of it with her hands on the edge, gripping it in a faux-casual manner as she leaned forward, occasionally tilting her head and muffling a grin as Anax appeared to be at odd ends with his hair. She was going to have to teach him how to braid it or something.

    When the end result was presented, she was pleased; not too shabby. Perhaps Gaen's fussy fashion sense had taught her a thing or two about fashion after all, though not to hear him tell him. If it were up to the fairy living in her dorm suite, both Cassie and she would be waltzing around in expensive couture. Though that seemed rather typical of Guardians of the fae type, they tended to like things as beautiful as possible... even if not ultimately practical. She placed a hand under her chin, thinking about it; if anything Anax seemed wholly practical. Maybe even as much as she was, if not more.

    When he turned to her, she blinked, slowly and languidly, having caught in a kind of measured daydream to which she visibly had to shake her head to dispel fully, a hint of color against the pale of her cheek contrasting the smear of freckles that a long and proud Scottish history had passed down. "Ah, well. We go home, I fill out a few papers to make our partnership officially legal, and you meet my roommate and her Guardian... and I try to answer any questions you might have about things..."

    Things like their duties and their schedule for the foreseeable future. Kellen got to her feet, taking note of the missing shoelaces. Maybe she was going to have to get him velcro. She hissed out a laugh, passing a hand over her eyes and gestured towards the last door at the end, which led out towards a short hallway which opened out into the main foyer of the building, and then out the double glass doors to the rest of the Savannah Treaty campus. "Actually, you might meet them a lot sooner than that, if I know Cassie..."
  18. Anax slipped a couple extra bits of food from the table, being surprisingly sneaky about it. He was far from full. For a minute, he chewed it thoughtfully. "Like a registry?" Already, he was nodding a bit. "Makes sense to know who or what is paired with whom. Well, no sense in putting it off." He popped one last bit of sausage in his mouth. As much as he would really prefer to simply eat his fill and nap for an entire day, that apparently wasn't an option. Knowing at some point, he was going to get to examine the entire place from the air, made it easier, for him to follow Kellen to the glass doors without complaint.

    The little blond had been practically dancing in place for last half an hour, all the while rambling at her smoking companion. "I'm sure of it, Gaen! Kellen will have an amazing Guardian when she comes out. I'm so excited for her!" She barely took a breath before continuing. "Not as great as you, of course, I mean I got sooo lucky, but hers will be great for her." Abruptly, she froze, and spun on her heel. "But, if for some reason she doesn't have one, then we are taking her out and getting her so drink she can't remember the entire day." A sharp nod accompanied the statement.

    When the door finally opened, Cassie let out a loud cheer and darted forward to envelop Kellen in a tight hug. "I knew you could do it, Kel! I just knew it!" She tightened her grip a bit before letting go completely, and peering at Anax, who looked almost horrified. "Hi! I'm Cassie!" She bounced slightly in her toes, happy for her friend.

    Anax had instantly taken a rather large step backward when the cheerful blond girl hugged his summoner. She was... very perky. Honest truth was Anax never knew how to handle the perky ones. He stood there for a minute, then gave a gesture that was a mix of a salute and a wave. "Anax." He didn't see the point in giving her his full name, with his luck she would try and repeat it and mangle it. He eyed her Guardian for a minute, before nodding politely.
  19. Once outside, the first thing that Kellen noticed was how sharp and vivid the sunlight was after so much time spent inside in relatively dim rooms. She blinked, shielding her eyes just in time to notice the second thing, which should have been the first, that Cassie was out there dancing her own rendition of an Irish jig and then zoomed up to her with a speed usually only credited to small, animated Mexican mice. The Scottish girl returned the hug affectionately, nodding, throat clogging briefly at the thought of how awful it would have been to walk out and do so alone.

    "Thanks..." The sentence wasn't meant to end there with that trailing space behind it, but she was busy sorting out the thickness caught in her throat and pretending the sunlight was the reason she passed a hand over her eyes, blinking to back that up. She felt eyes on her, sharp and predatory as always, and just ignored the fairy, not wanting to deal with him quite yet and trusting Gaen not to give her away. He could be an ass, but hopefully this wouldn't be one of those times.

    When she finally looked to see how Anax was reacting to the blur of energy that had turned his way, she lifted her eyebrows, taking note of a certain... awkwardness there. Had her big scary Guardian actually taken a step back? Kellen snorted, and then that snort turned into a helpless laugh that was more out of exorcising the built up stress of months of anxiety than anything else, though the wary silence from her Guardian to her roommate was nothing if not funny.

    Sleek and blond, attired impeccably, Gaen hung back, a half-smoked cigarette hanging from his fingers, which were long and graceful, the nails gently rounded down. He inclined his head in return to Anax, seemingly worn out by having waited outside. "I am still for the 'drinking' portion of your plan." He informed his Summoner, with the bland tones of I don't care either way which meant one way or another, he was going to have a drink before the day was over. Stylistically, his accent was similar to Kellen's, but lighter, more musical. He flicked the cigarette, ash drifting to the ground. "Congratulations." He said, finally, politely.

    Kellen nodded, out of breath from laughing. "Actually, I could use a drink too. And I think he's still hungry. So I'm all for going home." The thought of curling up on her bed called her with clarity and promise of a siren song.
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