I'm Inky! I'm 22, agender (they/them/theirs), committed, a Hufflepuff, and a bipolar insomniac. I love animals more than people. Deal with it.







Eclipse

I’ve been writing the last few days. I don’t want everyone to read this, I’m just posting it for a friend to read. DON’T READ ME WEH. D:

Candles flickered around the walls of The Fox’s Fang inn and bar, the air warm and heavy with grey-blue smoke. Outside, the wind howled and fluffy snow built up around the edges of the windows, the glass rattling in the frames. Three people sat in the far corner of the bar, hunched over their drinks and talking in hushed tones to one another. The bartender seemed suspicious, moving between tables as he wiped them down in an attempt to listen in on their conversation.


“This mirror you’re looking for- what does it do?” said a tall blonde woman. She held her wine glass close, watching the older man across the table. Next to her, a slightly shorter man sipped his drink, looking less enthused than she.


“The Mirror of Athath- it holds the ability to return life to the dead,” the man said, his gaze on his hands.


“And what do you want it for?” Arwen pulled on locks of her hair as she watched the man speak, trying to pick up any sign of deceit.


“My wife…my wife passed away several weeks ago. She contracted a case of valley chill and, well….” The man sighed and ran a hand through his hair, looking genuinely upset. “At least she is no longer suffering.” Her traveling companion spoke then, keeping his voice low.


“I’m sorry to hear about your wife,” said Spencer, nodding in the man’s direction. “The valley chill is a nasty one. My condolences.” The stranger nodded in acknowledgement, eyes still locked on his drink, as if he were searching for something in its depths.


“I don’t think we’ve introduced ourselves- my name is Loresh.”


He reached across the table, finally looking up, and shook hands with Arwen first, then Spencer, giving them both a gentle squeeze. She could not help but brush her hands off- the stranger had something on his hands that smelled a bit strange.


“I am Arwen, and this is Spencer. It’s nice to meet you, Loresh.” She offered a small smile, brushing her long hair over her shoulders and off her face. “Now, whether or not we take on this task depends on how much you’re willing to pay us.”


“I can pay you each two thousand notes. That’s all the money I have in the world.” He folded his hands atop the table and leaned forward a little more, desperation clear in his eyes. “Please- I know it is a dangerous journey, but my wife…she was gone before her time. All I want in the world is to have her back.”


Arwen looked between him and Spencer, lips pursed. At first, she couldn’t be sure taking on such a task would be wise. It meant they would have to travel over sixty miles to find this special mirror, dealing with wildlife, unsavory characters, and the weather all the while. All those things aside, was two thousand notes really enough for such a thing?


She leaned closer to Spencer and hid her mouth behind her hand, mumbling.


“What do you think?” she murmured, lifting her shoulders in a shrug. “Is that enough?”


More than enough. Are you serious? That’s a small fortune.” Spencer hadn’t bothered to cover his face, less cautious than Arwen.


She looked around at Loresh and nodded, tugging on her hair again.


“We’ll do it. But first tell us more about this mirror.” Loresh let out a hefty, relieved sigh, face in his hands as he smiled and shook his head.


“Thank you. Thank you both so much,” he breathed. He shifted in his seat before speaking, pushing his glass aside. “The Mirror of Athath brings life back to the dead.” There was a pause in which he looked over their heads to be sure they were alone; the only other company was the bartender, who seemed to be minding his own business at the counter. “Unlike other artifacts, it doesn’t create the mindless undead that most necromancy deals with. The mirror returns a person who has passed on to their previous form. It pulls them from the depths of Ansul’s afterlife and restores their body, leaving them totally intact. It’s a completely unique artifact that’s been hidden for decades, but through some research and a few favors, I’ve found where it’s being held.


Loresh reached below the table and picked up a bag, digging around in it. He pulled out a map and spread it out on the table, holding the edges and pointing to a small circled X on the northeast corner.


“It’s right here- in the Athath family crypt. The clan has kept it hidden for ages, I suspect because they are afraid someone might use it for nefarious purposes.”


“‘Nefarious purposes?’ What sort of things can this mirror do? I thought it only brought the dead back to life,” Arwen asked, tilting her head. Loresh shook his head.


“The mirror can also be used to summon otherworldly beings, admittedly.” He looked slightly uneasy, shifting in his chair. “I can promise you both that such a thing is not my intention. All I want is my wife back. Please.”


Between the two of them, there was enough tension to cut with a blade. Arwen was staring at the man, arms crossed over her chest, as if she did not entirely believe him. Spencer watched Loresh for a few moments before he turned to his companion and shrugged his shoulders.


“I think we should do this, Arwen,” he said with a nod. “He seems sincere to me.” She returned his nod, grinding her teeth a bit nervously.


“It will take us a few weeks to get there and back, keep in mind,” she offered, holding up a finger. “And some time to gain access to the crypt. I’m sure the Athath family doesn’t want strangers digging around in their loved ones’ sarcophagi. We’ll likely have to sneak in and steal it.”


“Whatever it takes, I will cover as much of the cost as I can,” said Loresh with a grin. “Thank you both so much. How does half up front sound?” He reached into his bag and plopped a large sack of gold and silver notes on the table, sliding it toward them. Arwen promptly pulled it into her own bag, beaming.


“It sounds just fine, kind sir.”


The three of them continued to speak about their arrangement for another hour before drowsiness finally hit them all, made more pronounced by the heat and drink. Near midnight, they all took their leave and retreated to their rented rooms for a good night’s rest.


Come morning, Arwen took the time to strap herself into her leathers before exiting the room, wary of the cold outside. As she pulled her cuirass on and cinched it up, she went over their travel plans in her head, occasionally referencing the map they carried. By the time she had her boots on, it occurred to her that they would need to cross a wide, rushing river to stay on-path. This was wholly unacceptable; Arwen feared drowning almost more than she feared spiders.


With her backpack slung over her shoulders, she pulled the room door open and met Spencer at the same table they’d occupied the night before, holding the map. She spread it out on the table and sat, not bothering to remove her bag.


“Morning,” she offered with a yawn. “I noticed something as I was getting dressed.” She pointed to the river on the map, looking up at him. He didn’t have a chance to speak before she started again, apparently quite excitable that morning. “We have to cross this river here. I don’t think we can do that. We’ll be soaked, and it’s too cold out to be wet all the way through our leathers. We have to go around.”


There was a pause between them, in which Spencer stared at her, a half-eaten apple in his hand. He finally put it down and raised his eyebrows, crossing his arms.


“Good morning to you too. I slept well, how about you?” He rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Why can’t we just go across it? We’ll find a narrow spot and cross there.”


“Because there are no narrow spots until you get three miles to the north of it,” said Arwen with a sigh. “And even then, the narrow spot isn’t that narrow. We’ll have to go all the way around.”


Spencer ground his teeth, looking the map over as he scooted closer to her.


“Okay. Alright, we’ll do that, then. It’ll add almost a third of a day to our trip, though.”


“That’s fine with me. It’s not like we have a deadline.” Arwen suddenly rolled the map up and tucked it away in her bag, smiling. “I’m glad we’ve come to an agreement. Let’s go!” She bopped him in the chest as she jumped to her feet, kicking the legs of his chair to get him moving.


“Alright, alright, calm down. We’ve got a two weeks trip ahead of us,” he snapped, pushing the chair away. He picked up his own backpack, swung it over his shoulders, and they both approached the bar to pay for their stay before they left the building.


They were greeted by cold winds and two inches of snow on the ground, the dirt path partially obscured. Arwen double-checked her boots before she started on the path, the surrounding hills and valleys almost nothing but a white abyss. Spencer followed along behind her, walking in her footsteps.


The wind blew hard and created flurries, towers of light snow blown up from the ground and off the tops of trees, the gusts chilling them both to the bone. A couple of miles down the road, they passed by a caravan of elven folk pulling a large wooden cart, filled with shackled humans. Arwen noticed their faces, etched with fear and despair, anxiety about the life that awaited them at auction.


“I can’t believe slavery just ended,” she murmured to Spencer. “It’s…barbaric. Ancient. This should never have happened.”


“Can’t you, though? People are cruel to one another.” He stopped walking to watch the caravan pass by them, a hand up to shield his eyes from the sun. “There’s nothing you, yourself, can do about it. Don’t put upon yourself. It’s already over.”


Arwen turned and watched the group of elves walk away, a troubled expression on her face. He watched her in thought, frowning.


“I hate it. It’s not fair. If my father were still alive, he could be one of them. Any human was susceptible. It’s not fair.” After a pause, she tossed her hair over her shoulder, crossed her arms, and about-faced to continue on, hanging her head a little. “Did I ever tell you that he was born into slavery?” Spencer shook his head, trotting behind her to catch up.


“No, you haven’t. How did he get out of it? Isn’t it normally blood in, blood out?” he said. He lowered his tone, just audible over the wind.


“He just up and left one night. He always told me the story when I was little,” she said with a smile. “I’d call it a good memory of mine. My father said one night, he decided he was tired of whippings and days without food, so he loaded up a backpack with bread and a blanket, and left the slave house into the woods. It took him three days to get onto a tamped road. After that, he eventually found himself a home here in the Endur province, met my mother, and they settled down together.”


“That’s quite the story, Arwen. I’m glad your father found something good,” Spencer said lightly, offering her a smile.


The wind blew particularly hard, and both of them pulled their neck coverings up a little higher to protect their faces and the backs of their necks. Arwen offered a sigh in response, crossing her arms again.


“I miss them very much.” She sounded sad- almost terse.


“What happened to them?” Spencer almost couldn’t bear to look at her. He had known her parents had died for a long time, but he’d never found out how. It was clear from Arwen’s stiffening that it was a subject she did not enjoy breeching.


“House fire.” She swallowed hard, rubbing her eyes to stave off tears. “In the middle of the night. I was away, in downtown Irgary. I could see the smoke two miles away. I never thought it was them.”


He hesitated before speaking again, wanting to get his words just right.


“I’m sorry. I’m sure they were good people,” he said softly. “None of you deserved what happened.”


Arwen nodded, but refrained from speaking again, watching her boots as they walked. Bringing up the subject of her parents’ death usually reduced her to silent depression, and sometimes even hysterical tears, but she managed to keep her good spirits. Perhaps the soul-deep wounds were beginning to heal, after two long years without her loved ones.


“Let’s talk about something else,” she said, nudging him with her elbow. “About that river, maybe. I thought about crossing it. I might be willing to brave the water and the weather and go over instead of around. We’d get a few miles further today.” He shook his head.


“I wouldn’t want you to have a heart attack. I know you’re afraid of drowning.”


“And if you tell anyone, I’ll kill you in your sleep. Remember that part?” She grinned and pushed him sideways, unable to help herself.


“Yes, yes, you’ll cut my throat or set me on fire, something like that. I know.” Spencer returned her smile, sticking his hands in the pockets of his leathers to busy them as he walked. “I won’t even tell anyone you’re scared of little tiny spiders.”


“Have you seen some of the spiders around here? They get as big as dinner plates!” she exclaimed, waving her hands wildly. “You look me in the eye and tell me you wouldn’t be afraid of a spider that could eat your elk steak.”


“Oh, well, that I couldn’t do. I don’t blame you, but I still blame you, really.”


——-


The two stopped for dinner just as the sun was setting. The wind had died down some, making their passage through the valley less chilly. After clearing a section of grass just beyond the trees and building a fire, they cooked their food over the flames and sat atop piles of evergreen branches to stay dry, talking quietly with one another. It wasn’t until they were getting ready to sleep that they were disturbed, their tiny encampment happened upon by a snow bear. It growled at them as it approached, obviously unafraid. Arwen cried out in surprise as she jumped to her feet, picking up her pack and backing away.


“Move!” she shouted at Spencer. She snatched her bow from its clip on her pack and swung her quiver over her head and shoulder, nocking an arrow and drawing back. Spencer hopped up as well, the bear lumbering closer. He went back for his pack, just barely running out of its reach. With less than ten feet between them, Arwen aimed at its face and fired, the arrow lodging itself in the bear’s eye.


It howled in pain and stood on its back legs, swiping blindly in front of itself in an effort to attack whatever had just injured it. She nocked another projectile and let go once more, the second catching the bear in the chest. With another mighty roar, it turned, dropped back down to all fours, and ran off into the forest, growling and grumbling as it went.


Feeling useless, Spencer turned rather pink and avoided eye contact with Arwen as he dropped his bag and sat back down, huffing.


“I didn’t think it would run off so easily,” he said, poking at the fire with a stick.


“How can you be so nonchalant?” she asked after a pause. Arwen returned to her spot and set her bag down as well, but she remained standing, pacing back and forth in a small line. “We were just attacked by a bear. A bear that clearly has no fear of people.”


“It left, didn’t it?” Spencer pursed his lips and shrugged, pulling his blanket from his pack. “We’re fine. What’s there to worry about now? What are the chances we’ll be attacked by another bear any time tonight?” He wrapped the blanket around his shoulders, smiling pleasantly. “The chances are astronomical. Now that we’ve been attacked once, we probably won’t be attacked again for a long time.”


“Yes, you were just waiting for a bear attack. Clearly I’m the one being unreasonable here. How could I?” She snorted and rolled her eyes, surveying the surrounding trees before sitting back down. “You’re insane.”


“No, you’re insane. I’m not the one who enjoys mountain climbing.”


She huffed and waved him off, pulling her own blanket out of her backpack. She wrapped it around her head and shoulders before lying down, pulling her knees up to her chest and scooting a bit closer to the fire.


“Whatever you say, Spencer. I’m clearly the crazy one here.”


The fire slowly died down overnight, leaving nothing but chill in its place. With the sun set, the air was more frigid, biting at their skin and leaving them barely able to sleep in the cold. When the sun began to rise, patchily warming their faces through the trees, Arwen woke with a vigorous shiver, sitting up and covering her head with her cowl. She pulled it close around her face and stood, kicking Spencer in the shin to wake him.


“Time to get up, sunshine,” she sang, her teeth chattering slightly. “Sun’s risen, time for you to do the same.” Spencer groaned and rolled over, yanking his blankets up over his shoulders and hunkering down in them.


“It’s too early,” he whined. “Sun barely up.”


“Nope, it’s time to go, we have a long day ahead of us!” Arwen started packing away her things, throwing their used skewers at him. “Time to go!”


It took him an age, but Spencer eventually gathered his things, cinched up his bag, and dropped it onto his shoulders, finally ready to get moving. Spirited, Arwen linked arms with him and led the way back to the path, careful to avoid slipping on the snowy grass as they climbed up a small hill. Once back on the path, he was less cranky and much happier to be walking on mostly even ground, as the movement brought blood to his extremities and warmed him considerably.


The snow had been tamped down by other travelers, the path a filthy mix of white snow, grey, and red clay. With little snow in their way, the pair started toward their goal once more. They encountered a part of the road that circled around steep hills and deep valleys, and rather than follow the road, they chose to go over each hill and cross each dip. This limited their conversation, for climbing each tall mound practically sucked the wind right out of their lungs, the cold air turning their throats sore and raw. The hilly land persisted for over a mile, and by the end of it, both of them were completely out of breath and needed a rest, forcing them to stop by the side of the road and have a snack. They each had an apple and drank from their waterskins, eating in near silence out of exhaustion. They eventually packed their things away and went onward, able to talk once the slopes had flattened some.


“So this mirror we’re after,” he started, biting into a second apple as they walked. “I’m wondering if we shouldn’t just keep it for ourselves, sell it, and take the fortune.”


“I don’t know, Spencer, I’m concerned about such an artifact,” said Arwen, looking dubious. “I know we’re doing it to help out a man and his dead wife and all, but if it were for any other purpose, I don’t know how I would approve. It’s still necromancy. You know it’s outlawed here, right?”


“Of course I know. I’ve lived here my entire life, just like you.” He offered her the apple and she took it, stealing a bite before handing it back. “I guess I didn’t think of it as necromancy, since it doesn’t create voodoo zombies.”


“So you’ve heard of this mirror before?”


“In history books on elven kind, yes. There’s not much information on it, but there’s a little. If I recall correctly, it takes the sacrifice of a rabbit and the blood of an Athath to do its thing, and instead of putting a stolen soul in a corpse, like normal necromancy, it actually creates a whole new body.” Spencer took one last bite of his apple and tossed it into the snow, sticking his hands in the pockets of his leathers. “I’ve of course never seen it used, but it’s supposed to be a very powerful artifact. Lore says it can even bind demons and gods to bodies on this mortal plane.”


The wind suddenly picked up and they each pulled their coverings up to shield their faces, the gust turning their cheeks and noses red. Arwen waited until it passed to speak, carefully holding her cowl up to hide her ears.


“I love learning about magic. It’s fascinating,” she said, smiling brightly. “I’d actually like to learn some necromancy, just to round out my own skills. I can start fires, freeze things, summon ethereal creatures, but I can’t raise the dead.” She shook her head, looking skyward dreamily. “I know it’s illegal here, but I still want to learn. What does it say about a mage that can raise the dead, that can beat death?”


“Well, technically, the mirror doesn’t raise the dead, since their original body is still dead,” Spencer clarified.


“But it’s still a form of necromancy, isn’t it?” She made a confused face, shaking her head. “If it doesn’t raise the dead, then what would you call it?”


“I’d call it an exchange of energies, maybe a form of conjuring. It’s just not the same as regular necromancy.”


“I think calling it conjuring sounds about right,” she said, looking thoughtful. “I won’t know until I actually hold it in my hands and feel its energy, but I imagine using the mirror feels a lot like summoning a familiar.”


As the pair crossed a deep valley, they encountered an opening in the side of a hill, nearly obscured by overgrown foliage, and what appeared to be a large, abandoned beehive. The husk circled the entire mouth of the cave, looking as though a bee hadn’t inhabited it for years, the structure falling apart. Arwen tapped Spencer on the arm and motioned to it, approaching.


“Look at that,” she started, poking her fingers in the honeycomb holes. “Let’s go inside.” She did not wait for him to answer, ducking into the cave with Spencer right behind her.


“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” he said, sounding concerned. “There might still be bees in there.”


“Don’t be silly. Whatever exterminated them did so a long time ago, can’t you see? Let’s go, come on. The sooner you get in here, the sooner we can be on our way.” A little reluctant, he caught up and stayed close behind her, one hand on the dagger at his waist.


The further in the moved, the warmer it got, water dripping on them from the cave ceiling. The air grew damp and heavy, their vision clouded by thick mist. Arwen kept one hand on the wall as they slowly made their way, squinting in the darkness.


“This isn’t working,” she said, abruptly stopping. Spencer bumped right into her, leaving them both a little startled.


“Let’s just go back,” he groaned.


“No! I’m interested now. I bet there’s a hot spring down there! I can fix the light situation.” Arwen raised a hand above her head and it suddenly lit up with a bright white glow, illuminating everything around them within ten feet. It became clear the cave was overrun with rats, the creatures scattering in the new light. “Ew. At least those things are afraid of the light,” she said, poking her tongue out.


“Are you sure we shouldn’t just keep going?” Spencer asked, exasperated. “This is a waste of time.” Rather than respond, she pushed him playfully and kept going, excitedly shuffling along the tunnel.


The cave opened up into a large cavern, the whole thing hazy with steam. In the center of the ground was a massive hot spring, easily the size of a small lake. Rats surround the water’s edge, but as the two approached, they scurried off into hiding, their tiny nails clicking on the stone.


“I told you it was worth it,” she said, sitting by the water. “I’m getting in. I need a bath, badly.” She removed her boots and started on the leathers, looking up at him. “Aren’t you getting in?” Spencer looked slightly dubious.


“I don’t know…. I suppose so,” he offered, siting as well. By the time he’d started on his armor, Arwen was already down to her underclothes and walking into the water, sighing in pleasure.


“A hot bath is a real pleasure,” she said lightly, up to her neck in the water. She waded back and forth, spinning and kicking her feet in the water. “It’s almost too hot.” Once he climbed in, Spencer could not help but agree.


“I’m glad you talked me into this, actually,” he said with a smile, sweeping his hands along the water’s surface. He swam a little further out, leaning back to dunk his hair in the water. “I haven’t had a warm bath in a long time. It’s too cold for that up here in Endur.”


“Cold baths are the worst. I don’t know why I stay in Endur except for the fact that I’ve lived here my entire life.” She moved closer to him, swimming in little circles around him. “I don’t know what I’d do if I lived elsewhere. I’m just so used to the cold. Need soap?”


“Yes, please.”


Arwen climbed out to retrieve a bar of soap from her bag, hurriedly returning to the water for its warmth. She first let him wash, then did so herself, humming quietly all the while as they enjoyed the hot spring. Once they were both clean, they left the water to dry off and strapped themselves back into their leathers, having reached the end of the cave.


“Ready to go?” she asked, double-checking her pack and armor. Spencer responded with but a grunt, clearly cranky to be leaving.


“Let’s just stay in the warm water forever,” he said with a sigh as they left the cavern.


“Can’t. We were paid to do a job,” she said. She lit the way once more as they came to the tunnel, their shadows dancing along the walls in the flickering light. “You know me, miss virtue and all that.”


“You skip out on bar tabs and hardly ever pay for your room,” he laughed. “Are you sure you’re not talking about me? I’ve been covering your tabs this whole time.”


“Really?” She seemed surprised, faltering in her step as she looked back at him. “That’s sweet of you, but you really don’t-”


“Yes I do. I don’t need to be banned from half the inns in Endur because you think it’s funny to dine and dash.” She frowned, stopping to look around at him a little longer.


“Sorry. I’ll pay my own way from now on.”


Outside, it had started to snow heavily, the wind at least no longer howling. The snow was light and fluffy, the type that packed well and made long-lasting snow banks. As they walked, Arwen started a weak snowball fight, though it more closely resembled a splash war, as they threw handfuls of loose snow at one another. It helped pass an hour or two, any distractions from the cold and the daunting journey ahead of them welcome. Come evening, the sun finally set, the pair of travelers cleared a spot in the woods once more and set up camp, sitting around a merrily crackling fire to keep warm.


“I have a question, Arwen,” Spencer said during a lull in conversation. “I hope it’s not too intrusive, but I’m curious.” She looked up, busy munching on a cooked leek.


“Yes? What is it?” She set her food aside, giving him her full attention.


“You’re half elf, half human, right?”


“Yes, so?” she said, preemptively defensive.


“Don’t you get angry? About the way people treat half-breeds, I mean.” He fidgeted, looking uncomfortable. “If people knew, you’d be an outcast, neither elves or humans would accept you.”


There was a long pause in which neither of them spoke, both looking intently at their food or in the fire. Finally, Arwen broke the silence.


“Of course it makes me angry,” she said, her voice soft and low. “There’s nothing about being half of each that makes me less of a person, yet everyone would treat me that way if they knew. It’s a real blow to the self-esteem.”


“Have you ever been discriminated against?”


“Of course. It’s why I wear my hair long, to cover my ears. They’re a dead giveaway that I’m not full elven or human.” She brushed her platinum hair behind both ears to reveal them, the tops slightly pointed. Lips pursed, she took a bite of her leek as she thought on her next words, watching the firewood disintegrate. “Once, I was stopped and detained in the Irgary jail for a day. All I did was wear my hair in a ponytail and carry a bow out in the open, and I got locked up for a day.” Spencer shook his head.


“I’m sorry. I don’t think your ancestry makes you any less of a person. You didn’t deserve that,” he muttered, unable to look her in the eyes. “I’d defend your honot of I saw that happening.”


“Thanks, but I can take care of myself, Spencer. I made it to twenty-seven on my own, didn’t I? And I’m still in one piece.” She smiled, finishing the last of her good and brushing her hands off. “I’m ready for bed. See you in the morning. You make sure to get some good rest, too.” He nodded in reply, watching her as she bundled up and laid down, laying close to the fire.


It wasn’t long before he did the same, through with his food. The air seemed less frigid than usually, allowing them to sleep more easily, with the wind at its slowest point in days. When the sun rose, warming them before waking them, Spencer was the first one up. He rested in his bedroll for a while before he quietly packed their things away, careful not to wake Arwen, letting her sleep a little longer.


“Time to go, Arwen,” he finally said softly, gently shaking her. She turned over and slapped his hand away, pulling the blanket up over her head.


“No. Sleeping,” she snapped. He shook her again, but this time she remained still.


“No, time to get up,” he sang. “We’ve got another three days ahead of us.” He whipped the blanket off her and folded it up, earning himself a waspy glare.


“Fine, fine. You don’t have to do that,” she whined. “You could have just said so.”


“I did, and you weren’t moving.” He tossed her backpack at her, smiling. “Can you tell I slept well?”


“Oh, most definitely. That is very clear, Spencer.” Disinclined, she sat up and pulled the bag onto her shoulders, getting to her feet. “Let’s go, then. We shouldn’t stop again, even for another hot spring. I’d like to get to the Bear’s Head Inn and sleep there for a night or two today.”


“Bear’s Head Inn?”


“Yes, Bear’s Head Inn. If we follow the path like we’ve been doing, I’d say it’s about eight miles from here. You’ve never been?”


“No- I guess you’re better traveled than I am.” He shrugged, leading the way back onto the snowed-over path. “But now I’ll be able to add it to the list of places I’ve been.”


Their travel for the day was impeded by heavy snow, visibility extremely low. They could barely see three feet in front of them, and what little vision they had was further obscured by their head coverings pulled low over their eyes and hiked up over their mouths and noses. Snow was quickly building up along the trail, forcing them to walk through inches of it as they went. Despite the weather working against them, Arwen and Spencer made the eight mile trip in near silence to the Bear’s Head Inn, a lead promising warmth and comfort in the snowy hills.


The inn could barely be seen through the snowstorm, the warm glow from the windows acting as a beacon in the flurry. The wind snatched the door as they opened it and swung it wide, banging it against the wall. Spencer pulled it closed behind them, sealing them into the warm, cozy tavern. Their clothing caked with white, the pair stood by the door and beat themselves off, leaving puddles of melting snow.


The tavern was nearly empty save for a pair of human men sitting at the bar. Arwen kept her cowl up until she had arranged her hair to keep her ears properly hidden, only removing it when she and Spencer had sat down as far from the human men as they could. The men were loudly making kissing noises and whistling at Arwen, causing her to flush and turn her back on them.


“Why does this always happen to me?” she groaned, her voice low and quiet. “It’s like I can’t walk into a bar without being accosted by drunk men. And it’s always human mean.”


“That sounds a little racist to me, Arwen.” Spencer snickered, unable to help himself. He was busy sharpening his dagger, nonchalantly leaning back in his chair. “It should be all men.”


“But I’ve only ever been catcalled by human men. Elven men have better respect for women, that’s just the way it is. Trust me, I’ve been shouted at enough to notice.” Arwen rose from her seat and smoothed her hair down over her ears, looking furtive. “Want some wine? I’m getting some.”


“Sure. Maybe ale for me, I’m not a big fan of wine. Thank you.” She gave a nod and squeezed past the table of men, holding a handful of coins.


A brown-haired man reached out and squeezed her backside as she passed, the entire table laughing and snickering to one another. Arwen jumped and whipped around, scowling. Looking scandalized, she raised a hand and quickly slapped him in the face, leaving a bright red scratch on his face. The other men all chorused “oooh,” in unison, the groper standing.


“Don’t you touch me!” she shouted, shaking her fist at him. He grabbed her by the wrist and yanked her closer, Spencer promptly jumping to his feet.


“I’ll touch you if I like, sweet cheeks,” he said, smiling. He looked around at Spencer, and the two shared a tense, unspoken moment before he let go of Arwen, sitting back down. “You’re not that pretty anyway. I’d rather stick it in an elf girl.”


Spencer approached Arwen and ushered her away from the table, coming to the bar with her.


“Are you okay?” he murmured, glaring at the group of men. “They’re apes.”


“Yes, I’m fine,” she said. She rubbed her wrist, frowning at the group before she turned her attention to the bartender.


“What’ll ya have?” said the bartender, gruff and curt.


“Whatever ale and wine you have in stock.” She placed the coins on the counter as he went about pouring them glasses, turning back to Spencer. “Thank you, but I’m fine, Spencer. He didn’t grab that hard.” They took the glasses offered to them and returned to their table, instead going all the way around the tavern to get there, rather than pass by the hooligans a second time.


“They’re just bad news. Try not to think about it,” said Spencer, sipping his drink.


“Stop worrying about it,” she said, waving him off. “Let’s just stay away from them for the rest of the night. I’m sure they’ll clear out soon.”


As predicted, the men soon paid and left the tavern, relieving Arwen and Spencer of their intrusive presence. They had little time to enjoy to themselves, though, for their beds called out to them, beckoning them to lay down for a good night’s rest. Having traveled over eight miles to get there, comfortable sleep was the first thing on their minds, right after drinking.


The pair of travelers stayed at the inn for two nights to recuperate from the freezing weather and allow the snow to melt some, the outside temperature having risen a good ten degrees. They were getting closer to the coastal town of Drejghan, where the Mirror of Athath could be found, but they still had another two days of travel ahead of them. Those nights of sleep in warm, comfortable beds were just what they needed to re-energize themselves, to make them ready to continue on the last leg of their journey.


Come the morning of their departure, the snow had stopped entirely and the wind had died down enough that they could walk without bundling up for dear life. Arwen waited for Spencer in the tavern, eating a breakfast consisting of apple slices and oatmeal. By the time she finished, he had finally made an appearance, disheveled and looking ready to go back to bed.


“You’re not even in your leathers,” she complained, standing. “Come on, Spencer, we have to go!” He waved for her to quiet down, holding his head.


“Give me a break, Arwen, I barely slept,” he moaned. “Was up all night with nightmares.”


“That’s too bad, because we have to get going.” She turned him around by the shoulders and pointed to his room, smiling. “Go get dressed, or so help me, Spencer, you will wish we’d never taken on this job.”


“I already wish that. Come up with better threats.” He yawned widely, rubbing his eyes as he shuffled away to dress. It took him another half hour to get strapped in, primarily due to fatigue. Once he made his second appearance, Arwen clapped for him and quickly ushered him out the door into the cold air.


“Good job! Now it’s time for adventure!”


The last two days of their journey brought them to the coastal province of Drejghan, which appeared to be almost entirely destroyed and abandoned. Along the road to its main city, Treke, were small encampments of elves, all looking underfed, unwashed, and sunburned. The town itself seemed even more scarcely populated, as if life completely ceased once they passed the gates. Buildings had collapsed in on themselves, the roads littered with debris and bits and pieces of what used to be cozy homes. Filthy snow covered most dilapidated structures. As they passed the remains of a church, Arwen brushed her hand along a protruding beam, displacing a handful of snow.


“This is terrible,” she said softly,lowering her cowl. “I can’t believe the utter devastation here. My gods.”


“That tsunami took out the entire province,” Spencer informed. “It’s been mostly abandoned for about five years now. I didn’t know that anyone bothered to stay behind. I would have thought this place was entirely uninhabitable.”


On the side of the road, a pair of dogs were tearing apart the carcass of a child, growling viciously at each other. Only when Spencer and Arwen approached did they scatter, yelping at one another. Spencer covered his mouth in sickness and turned away, holding Arwen’s arm as they passed. She shushed at him, patting his hand in what she hoped was a comforting gesture.


“We’re past it now,” she said, motioning in front of them. “See? Next, we find the cemetery.”


“I don’t think I like the idea of rooting through a crypt that doesn’t belong to either of our families,” he said, shaking his head. “That feels…blasphemous.”


“It’s okay, really.” She touched his cheek tenderly, the shadow of a smile on her lips. “They’re dead. They won’t know. We’ll be in and out in no time, just you watch.”


The pair passed more bodies on the way, corpses of elves curled up against destroyed homes and shops as if life left them while they huddled up for warmth. Toys were piled up against the doorway of a crushed house, a shrine to a lost child.  The sight seemed to cause Spencer physical anguish, for he grabbed his chest over his heart and sighed, a pained expression on his face.


“This is awful,” he muttered, surveying the wrecked land. “Absolutely awful.”


“Shhhh.” Arwen wrapped an arm around his shoulders and pulled him in. “There’s nothing you can do. Remember? We’re here for one thing, and one thing only. The mirror.”


He offered nothing but a nod, gritting his teeth to keep in the words he so desperately wanted to say. He wanted to do something- anything- to fix this devastation, but she was right. There was nothing two travelers, two treasure hunters, could do to improve the circumstances of these people left behind in a barren land. Trying to put it out of his mind, Spencer leaned into Arwen’s grasp as they walked down a paved slope, coming upon heavy, black iron gates. They were left open, a thick chain dangling from the handles. Arwen let go of Spencer and pulled them open further, waving for him to follow inside.


“This is it,” she said quietly. “Come on.”


Inside, grave stones divided the cemetery into neat rows, the markers nearly uniform. Across the snowy yard, crypts were barely visible, snow banks obscuring half the structures. Arwen started up the trail, Spencer close behind, the snow crunching under their boots. The mood abruptly took a somber turn the moment they crossed the threshold of the gates; whether out of respect or trepidation, it was difficult to tell.


Arwen and Spencer crossed the yard and split up to start searching the cemetery for the Athath crypt, taking the time to read each name plate before moving on to the next one. The crypts seemed to get older the further back they went, and only when they had come to the last row did they find it- the largest sepulcher emblazoned with the Athath family crest and a plaque on the wall. Spencer whistled and waved for Arwen to come over, inspecting the door for a way inside.


“It looks rickety,” he said, pushing on the wood. It creaked loudly in protest, the hinges barely holding on, covered in thick rust. “I bet we could just kick it down.” Arwen pushed him out of the way and suddenly stomped at the door, her foot going right through the wood. She cried out in surprise and held onto the archway, trying to shimmy her leg free.


“It’s eating me!” she whispered as she pulled herself free. Completely rotten, half the door came with her foot. “That was easier than I expected it to be.” They started pulling away the last of the door until they could duck under and step inside, the smell of decay and mold evident.


Water dripped from the stone ceiling, stagnant puddles littering the floor. Down the stairs, the air grew colder, insulated from the outside temperature. Spencer pulled what remained of the door closed behind them, following Arwen in. The crypt opened into a large hall filled with narrow coffins, each one bolted shut and set in the wall. She raised a lit hand, illuminating the nearly pitch dark crypt. Giant rats squeaked and scattered, hiding as the pair Wales past them.


“Where do you think it’s kept?” Spencer whispered, reaching out to hold her arm.


“Probably near the shrine at the back. Let’s try there first.” Arwen let him hold on as they walked, hurriedly moving toward the back. The crypt was giving her the creeps, the hair on the back of her neck standing up as if she could sense something not right.


At the very back of the structure was a long chest and a shrine to Rilia, the god of life and blessings. Rotted flowers and food surrounded a sculpture of a six-pointed sun, the metal bands on the chest rusted. Arwen dropped to her knees and examined the lock, shrugging off her pack.


“Looks simple enough,” she said, turning to dig around in her bag, her light extinguished. “Think you can take care of it?” She retrieved a lock pick set in a leather pouch, holding it out to Spencer. He took it, saluting her.


“Sure. Just don’t jump on me like last time,” he said. He took the picks and kneeled beside her, choosing his tools and getting to work.


“I couldn’t help it,” she started, trying not to laugh. She raised her hand and lit it up again, holding it high to provide him light. “I was just excited. That pile of gemstones landed us a small fortune.”


He shushed her and waved at her to quiet down, absorbed in his task, but the longer it took him, the more restless she got. She had been waiting for nearly ten minutes when there was a loud scraping noise followed by a heavy click. Spencer paused for drama,turning to look at her, before he swung the lid open, smiling broadly.


“That thing was really rusted through,” he said, standing with a flourish. “No need to thank me.”


“Don’t get your hopes up. I’m not nice enough for that.” Arwen started digging in the chest with one hand, pulling out sacred robes and pouches filled with gems and coins, left as offerings to the gods that governed the afterlife. All the way at the bottom, wrapped in a heavy cloth, thrumming with energy, was a large round bundle, tied with old, dusty ribbon. The two exchanged a look before Spencer reached in to pick it up, untying the ribbon and letting the cloth fall open.


In his hands, he held a shiny round mirror, its silver frame slightly tarnished. The glass seemed more reflective than an ordinary mirror, catching every bit of light emanating from Arwen’s hand. It was almost blinding. She took the mirror from him in her free hand, a grin splitting across her features.


“This must be it,” she said softly, eyes glittering in delight. “This must be what necromancy feels like.”


“What does it feel like to you? I’ve never felt magic before.”


“It feels…tingly. Like pins and needles. It feels a little dirty, even.” Arwen looked thoughtful, carefully turning the mirror over in her hands, touching its edges and engravings with her fingertips. “It feels the way drinking dirty water tastes.” She took another moment to look at it before she handed it back, watching as he wrapped it back up in its cloth and tied it closed.


“I’ll carry it,” he said, pulling off his bag. “I’ve got less stuff in my backpack than you.” He opened the flap and tucked it away in his blankets, making sure it was well-cushioned. “I don’t know what I was expecting when we got here. I was thinking we would encounter voodoo zombies or giant wolves or something.”


“Giant wolves? Where have you been for the last year? Giant wolves don’t exist.” She laughed lightly and stood up straight, pulling him to his feet as well.


“Yeah, but the wolves here in Endur are still very big. I would almost call them giant.” He motioned for her to go first, and they immediately left the crypt, promptly getting on their way back to their starting point in Aldathy.


They passed the same corpses on the way out of the city, Spencer hardly able to handle the tragedy a second time. When they passed the dead child, the body was missing a limb, a single dog sitting and eating what remained. Spencer nearly vomited, just barely keeping down his breakfast, but Arwen seemed just fine, walking with her head held high.


“Shhh. It’s alright,” she said, trying to be soothing. She took him by the hand, Spencer covering his eyes and shaking. “We’ll be out in a little bit. Keep it together.”


He nodded, focusing his attention directly in front of them in an attempt to avoid looking at the carnage around them. At the city gates, she patted his arm and nudged him, trying to be supportive.


“Look, we’re out already,” she said with a smile. “Time to go back home.”


“Yeah. Time to go back home,” he repeated, sighing. “I can’t get that out of my head.”


“What? Can’t get what out of your head?”


“That kid. On the ground back there.” He shook his head, rubbing his temples. “With the dogs.” There was a pause in which Arwen stared at him, slowing her gait and holding his hand.


“I’m sorry. We don’t have to go back there ever again. We got what we came for,” she said quietly. She patted him awkwardly on the back. “Just think. Another thousand for you once we get there.”




The journey back to Aldathy seemed to take less time than the trip to Drejghan, but it still took them almost two full weeks to get there. Despite having to stop in Serskel to stock up on food and supplies, they made good time, arriving in Aldathy a full day ahead of schedule. To pass the time until they met with Loresh once more, they drank and had merriment with other patrons at The Fox’s Fang, playing dangerous knife games, cards, and making bets with one another. What little rest they got was a godsend, for a month of travel emptied their energy reserves completely.


Arwen was apprehensive about meeting with Loresh again, counting down the hours until midnight, waiting for him to show up. The hour came and went, and Loresh did not show, however, causing her to worry even more. Waiting at their table, the mirror tucked away in her backpack, she broke the silence between her and Spencer.


“I’m nervous about this meeting,” she started, passing her glass of whiskey back and forth between her hands. “Something has me on edge. I’m having a lot of anxiety about this. I feel like something isn’t quite right.”


“I’m sure you’re just excited to get your money,” Spencer said, not looking up from his book. “If you could, I’m fairly certain you would pile all your gold and silver, and then roll around in it. That’s the sort of thing you’d do.”


“What?” she snapped, sounding scandalized. “I would not! I prefer doing constructive things with my money, like buying food and arrows and clothing.”


“Yes, clothing, of course. That explains why I caught you rubbing gold coins on your face after we sold those gemstones.” She turned a bit red, her flush highlighting the freckles on her cheeks.


“You say that like you wouldn’t do it if you had the money.” She pouted and crossed her arms, looking embarrassed. She opened her mouth to speak, but closed it as the tavern door opened, a slightly hefty man entering.


Loresh had arrived.


“Shh, shh.” Both of them closed their mouths and folded their hands on top of the table, watching Loresh as he pulled his cloak off and removed his hood. He took a look around before spotting the two travelers, and raised a hand in greeting as he strode to the table and dropped into a chair, a cautious smile on his face.


“Good evening. I apologize for being late,” he said, bowing his head briefly.


“It’s no trouble,” said Arwen, returning his smile. “We have what you’re looking for.” Both she and Spencer looked around the tavern before he rummaged around in his bag, pulling out the cloth-wrapped bundle and carefully setting it in the center of the table. Loresh’s eyes went wide and he reached for it, but Arwen clapped her hands over the mirror, holding up a finger.


“Not until you’ve paid, kind sir,” she admonished. “We walked a long way for this.”


“Of course. My apologies.” Loresh dug in his shoulder bag for a large sack of gold, dumping it out on the table. Arwen grinned and swept it toward herself, brushing coins into her already nearly full bag.


With business settled, he pulled the mirror close and unwrapped it, eyes wide as he caught sight of its shiny silver frame, taking in every intricate detail. His own reflection seemed presented in high relief, as if filtered to enhance every feature.


“It’s beautiful,” he said, brushing dust off its reflective surface. “Thank you both so much for bringing me this. I don’t know how I can possibly thank you enough.” Arwen glanced at Spencer before she spoke, as if questioning herself.


“Well, I do have a request,” she started, fidgeting. “I was wondering if, perhaps, you would be so inclined to let us watch the raising of your wife.” She paused, biting her lower lip in apprehension. “Maybe it’s too much to ask, but-”


“Not at all. Of course you can watch. I’d be honored to have you.” Loresh bowed his head, reaching out to take her hands in his. “You may watch the raising of my wife. I’d be glad to have someone who knows their magic with me, to be frank with you. I’m not much of a magic user.”


“I’d be happy to provide any assistance I can, but I dont know how much help you’ll need from me,” she stated with a shrug of her shoulders. “I’m not versed in necromancy.”


“This isn’t necromancy, dear. What we’re doing is a far cry from raising the dead.” Loresh wrapped the mirror back up and put it away in his shoulder bag, clasping it shut. “My plan is to start this tomorrow evening,” he explained. “On your map, you should see a trail through a forest. It’s only two miles in. There is a clearing there, about half an acre in diameter. Meet me there at midnight.”


“See you at midnight, stranger.” Arwen stuffed the massive bag of coins into her bag and rose, stretching and slinging it onto her shoulder. “Good night, both of you.” Spencer waved her good night as she retreated to her room for a good long rest. Loresh rose as well, still looking ecstatic.


“Thank you again, Spencer. I look forward to your presence at the ceremony tomorrow night.” The two shook hands before Loresh left the tavern, despite the late hour, leaving Spencer all on his own for the remainder of the night.


Both Spencer and Arwen slept far longer than normal, recuperating after such a long, stressful journey. They skipped both breakfast and lunch, only rising as other patrons started making their dinners in the tavern. Arwen was up first, slightly disheveled and wearing sleeping robes. She hadn’t bothered to change out of them, too comfortable and cozy to do so yet. Only when Spencer commented on it did she flush and change her clothing, following his lead and strapping herself into her leathers.


It was pitch dark outside by the time they left the tavern to meet Loresh in the forest, the sky dotted with twinkling stars and a full, bright moon. The lunar light made it easy to move through the trees, snow crunching under their feet as they trudged through a full foot of it. Fireflies lit up like terrestrial stars, the lightning bugs congregating around the path as if helping to light their way. With better eyesight, Arwen led the way, grasping tree branches for support as they walked, Spencer walking in her footsteps. The trip was relatively short, but they overestimated the time it took, so they arrived rather early. Once they stepped into the clearing, their eyes adjusting to the light, they were greeted with a sight that instilled terror in their hearts.


A young woman sat in the snow, her torso wrapped in rope, arms bound to her sides, ankles tied together, and what looked like a rag stuffed in her mouth. She was shivering, hardly appropriately covered in the cold, wearing just a set of robes and boots. When she caught sight of them, she started shifting and struggling against her bonds, kicking her feet and shaking her head wildly.


“Oh my gods,” Arwen gasped, rushing to her side. She drew the dagger from her waist and started cutting the ropes, careful to avoid cutting her. Spencer came to her other side and pulled the rag from her mouth, tossing it aside.


“What’s going on?” he asked, peering around in worry. “Who did this?”


“I did.” Arwen and Spencer stopped moving, the voice familiar. Loresh appeared from behind close-knit trees, carrying a hunting bow with an arrow nocked and pointed in their direction. He motioned for them to step back, smiling pleasantly. “Now move away from her and sit on your knees over there, both of you.”


Arwen cast Spencer a sideways glance before she dropped her dagger in the snow, both of them holding their hands up.


“Don’t shoot,” she said calmly, getting to her feet. “We’ll cooperate.” Spencer was a split second behind her, staring at her as if he could not believe what she was saying. They both crossed the clearing and dropped to their knees beside each other, Loresh lowering the bow.


“You’ve no idea how thrilled I was that you asked to witness the raising of my wife,” he said, approaching the young woman. He stuffed the rag back in her mouth and adjusted the damaged ropes, making sure she was still incapable of escape. “My wife doesn’t exist, by the way, in case you were wondering. I only said that to get you two to bring me the mirror. But, I’m sure you’ve gathered that already. You’re not quite as stupid as I took you for to begin with.”


Loresh began walking in circles, stomping the snow down in the center of the clearing. Once his pacing took him near the pair, he snatched the dagger from Spencer’s belt and tossed it away in the trees, that maddening smile still on his face.


“You see, to do what we’re going to do, we need a human sacrifice,” he continued, kicking snow out of the way. “A rabbit is normally used, but we’re not doing anything ‘normal,’ as you might say.”


“And what is it you’re doing, then?” Arwen asked, crossing her arms. “If you’re not raising your dead wife, then what are you doing?”


“We’re bringing our god to this mortal plane, dear. It’s time to thin the herd a little. Purify the waters.”


Arwen and Spencer looked at one another behind his back. “We?” she mouthed to him, frowning. He shrugged, legitimately confused.


“Who is ‘we?’” Spencer said, raising his voice. “There’s more of you?”


“I’ve said too much already,” their captor said, waving a hand dismissively. “Although it isn’t as though either of you will be making it out of here alive. Yes, we. My brothers and sisters are joining us tonight for the ceremony. That, I did not lie about, there will definitely be a ceremony- just not the type I led you to believe.” He leaned calmly against a tree, hands in the pockets of his cloak. “They should be here any moment now. I expected you to arrive a little later, so I apologize for their late arrival.”


The sound of grinding snow and rustling tree branches alerted them to the presence of others, and they were soon joined by a group of humans in cloaks matching Loresh’s. Six people, four men and two women, joined them, bringing the total of people within the clearing to ten. Loresh greeted the newcomers with hugs and handshakes, all of them smiling as if they were arriving for a joyous party. Stuck in the snow, Arwen and Spencer began to shiver, both out of cold and anxiety.


“You brought us two sacrifices, Loresh?” the shorter of the women said, hands on her hips as she watched them. “What are we to do with the second one?”


“Pay him no mind. I thought we would use the girl, and dispose of the boy,” said Loresh, pointing. “The girl is a half-breed.” The newcomers all ooh’d in appreciation.


“How could you possibly know that?” Arwen spat, fear building in her heart. It was true- she was only half elf, only half human.


“I can tell a half-breed when I see one,” he said, laughing lightly. “As pretty as you are, with that blonde hair? Of course you are. Which one of your parents was the elf? Your father?” Arwen scowled and lowered her head slightly, grinding her teeth audibly to hold her tongue.



Reblogged from slashseeker  16,959 notes
deepbones:

Listen, when you use a word of hate ironically — like, and your defense is “I’m not racist, how could you ever think I’m racist??” I want you to imagine owning a gun, but never buying live ammunition. You only purchase blanks. Ok? And say sometimes when you hang out with your close friends, you take out your gun, which they know contains no live ammunition, and you shoot it at stuff, and you think it’s funny. And maybe the first time you do it, they’re like “Shit. I mean, I know those are blanks, but that’s kind of fucked up,” but your argument is, “But I can’t really hurt anyone! They’re just blanks!” And over time they just get used to it and find it kind of funny. “Oh, that Cliff, sometimes he takes his gun out and shoots some blanks, but he doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just funny! You know how it goes.” Now, imagine that over time, having received the acceptance for your actions from your friends, you decide you can start firing blanks around people you’ve never met. In mixed company. You’re at a dinner party one night, you’ve had a few, so you go “Hey, wanna see something cool?!” and those who are your friends at the party know what’s coming, so they’re prepared, but then the people who don’t know you, they see you whip out a piece and go “Oh shit, I’m going to die, it’s everything I feared,” but your friends explain to them it’s not a big deal, there’s nothing to be afraid of, “Cliff wouldn’t hurt a fly,” so they eventually, begrudgingly, don’t say anything about it, don’t call you, Cliff, a fucking asshole. “Fine, it’s kind of ridiculous, but whatever.” Something like that. And then you are at a large public place. A concert, an open mic, where you and your friends are outnumbered by the rest of the audience. And maybe someone pushes you or gives you a hard time, so you decide, just to give the guy a taste of his own medicine, to pull out your gun, and fire some blanks. Give him a real, real visceral jump. And everyone around you feels threatened, unsafe, about to be part of something they were always on some subconscious level afraid would happen, but at the same time hopeful it would never happen because our society’s getting smarter and more considerate of those around them. And then some other people, who after seeing it happen, feel relieved that you were firing blanks, but also feel empowered by your choice to fire a weapon in a public place, and choose to do the same thing. Do you get it yet? The fact is that derogatory remarks, whether used sincerely or ironically, and ammunition, whether blank or live, still creates the same environment of discomfort and fear every time it is used. So cut the shit.
- Junot Diaz

deepbones:

Listen, when you use a word of hate ironically — like, and your defense is “I’m not racist, how could you ever think I’m racist??” I want you to imagine owning a gun, but never buying live ammunition. You only purchase blanks. Ok?

And say sometimes when you hang out with your close friends, you take out your gun, which they know contains no live ammunition, and you shoot it at stuff, and you think it’s funny. And maybe the first time you do it, they’re like “Shit. I mean, I know those are blanks, but that’s kind of fucked up,” but your argument is, “But I can’t really hurt anyone! They’re just blanks!” And over time they just get used to it and find it kind of funny. “Oh, that Cliff, sometimes he takes his gun out and shoots some blanks, but he doesn’t really mean anything. It’s just funny! You know how it goes.”

Now, imagine that over time, having received the acceptance for your actions from your friends, you decide you can start firing blanks around people you’ve never met. In mixed company. You’re at a dinner party one night, you’ve had a few, so you go “Hey, wanna see something cool?!” and those who are your friends at the party know what’s coming, so they’re prepared, but then the people who don’t know you, they see you whip out a piece and go “Oh shit, I’m going to die, it’s everything I feared,” but your friends explain to them it’s not a big deal, there’s nothing to be afraid of, “Cliff wouldn’t hurt a fly,” so they eventually, begrudgingly, don’t say anything about it, don’t call you, Cliff, a fucking asshole. “Fine, it’s kind of ridiculous, but whatever.” Something like that.

And then you are at a large public place. A concert, an open mic, where you and your friends are outnumbered by the rest of the audience. And maybe someone pushes you or gives you a hard time, so you decide, just to give the guy a taste of his own medicine, to pull out your gun, and fire some blanks. Give him a real, real visceral jump. And everyone around you feels threatened, unsafe, about to be part of something they were always on some subconscious level afraid would happen, but at the same time hopeful it would never happen because our society’s getting smarter and more considerate of those around them. And then some other people, who after seeing it happen, feel relieved that you were firing blanks, but also feel empowered by your choice to fire a weapon in a public place, and choose to do the same thing.

Do you get it yet?

The fact is that derogatory remarks, whether used sincerely or ironically, and ammunition, whether blank or live, still creates the same environment of discomfort and fear every time it is used. So cut the shit.

- Junot Diaz

Reblogged from fyeahcracker  24,093 notes
Can you explain why Europeans were much more technologically advanced than the indigenous populations of Africa? I mean, these cultures hadn't even invented sewage systems, which is something the Romans were able to design and implement in 800-735 BC (a long fucking time before "the white man" colonized it)... I mean fuck, without "the white man", they would probably still be in the fucking bronze age.
Anonymous

great-cliterature:

shitrichcollegekidssay:

I don’t really know what kind of history books bigots like you read.

The Great Libraries of Timbuktu? The steel metallurgy of the Haya? Dentistry? Caesarean section? Premature neonatal care? Mathematics, architecture, engineering?

I know it’s hard for a racist like you who imagines “technological advancement” to be some kind of end-all-be-all, or proof of some “inherent intelligence”. I know, I know. It’s hard to imagine, but Europeans have been drawing knowledge from everyone around them since the dawn of time. What did you think ended the Dark Ages?

Your magical (read: white supremacist) idea of a purely 'white' Rome never existed.

Nevertheless…

The Minoan culture on the island of Crete between 1500-1700 B.C.E. had a highly developed waste management system. They had very advanced plumbing and designed places to dispose of organic wastes. Knossos, the capital city, had a central courtyard with baths that were filled and emptied using terra-cotta pipes. This piping system is similar to techniques used today. They had large sewers built of stone.”

In case you needed further clarification, neither the Minoans nor other (later) Greeks were ethnically uniform. They also had the first flush toilets, dating back to 18th century B.C.E. They had flushing toilets, with wooden seats and an overhead reservoir. The Minoan royals were the last group to use flushing toilets until the re-development of that technology in 1596.

Oh, and look the Mayans had indoor plumbing, acqueducts, and pressurized water too. I mean, you can ignore that the area Mayans lived in had little to few rivers, no lakes or standing water, nor other sources of running water, while simultaneously dealing with monsoons and flooding due to one of the heaviest yearly rainfalls in the Americas.

Classic Maya even used household water filters using locally abundant limestone carved into a porous cylinder, made so as to work in a manner strikingly similar to modern ceramic water filters.

Of course, by this time millenia later none of your precious “white people” had developed any methods besides shitting in pots.

Continuing, the earliest archaeological record of an advanced system of drainage comes from the Indus Valley Civilization from around 3100 B.C.E in what is now Pakistan and North India.  By 2500 B.C.E (almost 5,000 years ago), highly developed drainage system where wastewater from each house flowed into the main drain.
All houses in the major cities of Harappa and Mohenjo−daro had access to water and drainage facilities. Waste water was directed to covered drains which lined the major streets directed to covered drains, which lined the major streets. Each home had its own private drinking well and its own private bathroom. The mains that carried wastewater to a cesspit were tall enough for people to walk through. Reservoirs, a central drainage system, fresh water pumped into the homes. Pools. Baths.

Filters for solid waste.

Sorry, what were the British doing up until like, 200 years ago? Shitting in the streets? Oh yeah.
I mean, I could get into how by the Shang Dynasty (roughly 1600 B.C.E.), China had sophisticated plumbing including pressure inverted siphons.

Or into the city of Amarna, Ancient Egypt. Or Persepolis, Persia and the Achaemenids in 600 B.C.E.
But, I mean, it sounds like the only one still in the Bronze Age is you.

Bringin this back for reasons

Reblogged from stalinistqueens  379 notes

youknowyouareasurvivorwhen:

You know you’re a survivor when you keep questioning if it really happened and it couldn’t really have been that bad and it doesn’t really count because you’re coping better than other people you encounter… despite the fact that compared to “normal” people who haven’t suffered abuse, you’re a gigantic pile o’ wreck.

Submitted by screaming-towards-apotheosis