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Fantasy Cosmical Glitch ( ellarose & starboob. )

Sub Genres
  1. Action
  2. Adventure
  3. LGTBQ
  4. Magical
  5. Romance

ellarose

wanderer
'Bet they were like any other greedy hellscape and burned down their forests for fuel money. We sure as fuck shouldn't be getting blamed for that.' Juno's words tighten around something buried in Lettie's heart. Something rotting and covered in dirt, something that she doesn't want to brush off to examine any further than the surface level. After all, there's a reason why nature and technology can coexist in harmony on Avangeline. A reason that she doesn't need to fucking think about right now. It can drive other planets to ruin... but they get to take, and take, and take. It's not because they've been 'blessed' with good fortune or some fantasy bull like that. There've still got their fair share of skeletons. They've just stuffed them into a fucking closet and dusted their hands clean of it all. No bodies, no crimes... right? Nah. Better to laugh that Juno's seething over her nickname and, y'know, focus on surviving.

"Kay, kay." Lettie agrees with two-fingered salute, putting on an impish little smirk. Juniver. Hehe. How's it feel, huh? Should she start making them equally as obnoxious as the ones the pirate gives her, specifically to give her hell in case if they die? Yes, yes she should. The 'Opal' shot her way serves as the perfect incentive to do exactly that. Two can play at this game, missy! (That and this saves precious, precious time in place of the full-blown argument this could easily turn into. Just because priorities need to be adjusted a bit doesn't mean they have to be eliminated entirely, all right? She's a professional in the art of the multitask and therefore can insult the pirate and save their lives at the same time. And if she condenses all her frustrations thus far down into Juno's most insulting slight against her, it'd be the fact that she couldn't be bothered to commit her name to memory.) "You got it, capn' Junonia!"

Lettie gets to work with the mirror, making a mental note of the existence of a gym on board to examine in case they live through this, and aligns the mirror so the red eyes above them appear in the reflection. Chewing at her bottom lip, the way she always does when she concentrates (geez, she'd have popped a piece of gum time wasn't slipping through their fingers!) she fastens her goggles over her eyes and kneels before the mirror so she's covering the bottom half and the eyes are still in the top. (Also making a mental note to steal this mirror for her bedroom on board. It'll feel better, reflecting art than reflecting Juju and her... uh, stupid buff muscles. Stupid buff muscles, toned and spotlighted as she worked out. Damn, damn, damn. Fuck's sake! Get it together, Letts!)

"Oooh. What are you doing, miss Olette?" Abigail hovers around like a butterfly behind her. But once the faerie tears her fantasies (they aren't fantasies!) to shreds, she ends up in such a zone that she can't hear anything except for her own thoughts, working in overdrive to reach for the glyphs she'll need to pull this off. There's the version of the tech to be considered, the constellation patterns of the glyphs she saw before, the 'great star'... "Will you be giving the sal-u-tation a 'make over', too? I'll suggest yellow. Such a sunny color."

Lettie traces a glyph over the surface of the mirror. Almost, almost. When she finishes, her magic flashes and a glimmering of bluish white light dusts around her face and scatters to the deck in swirling clouds. (Normally she might have basked in the awed gasps behind her, but she's focused now. The second she loses focus it's all over.) Narrowing her eyes, she presses her palms against the cold glass and rakes her fingers inside like claws. They dip through the surface like a pool of water. She presses her eyes shut and opens them again to find herself closer to the eyes in the reflection. Essentially, she's created a make-shift, looking glass simulation of her own. One where her projected self can still fly, one where she can't be killed. (Well, she can. But that's not going to translate to her real body-- which is still sitting on the deck with Juno and the skellies. There, she's still as a statue and the surface of her goggles are glowing and gridded, blocking out the sight of her eyes through the glass. The pirate will probably groan about her being useless or something in the meantime, because that's what it's going to look like on the surface. But whatever! That doesn't fucking matter now. Not like she cares what a stupidly buff pirate thinks.) Anyway, if this simulation version of herself perishes, she'll just wake up in her own body. But in this case, the likelihood is that she'll reappear in her own body and then get fucking exploded when the countdown reaches zero. So, yeah! No pressure, haha.

As nothing more than a flickering of ghostly white faerie-figure in this form, she zips around the glowing grid cast over the walls of the simulation and searches for abnormalities.

Then the countdown jumps down ten seconds. Ten precious seconds gone in a snap! "...Fuck!" The faerie's voice has a funny, echoey quality in this form. It reverberates around her and the walls of her simulation shudder. No. Don't lose focus. Getting desperate, Lettie exhausts more magic and energy by summoning several butterflies to help her cover more ground.

Lettie flies up, up, up to confront the big red eyes in the sky. Well, if nothing else she can distract the thing from swatting at her butterflies, which will cover more ground at a faster rate. When she does, though... she notices the constellations of glyphs shimmering faintly in the darkness, fashioning a big star around the red eyes. And in the center of it all? The point that shimmers the brightly only now that she's notices it, the point they need to be aiming for. Aha! Tried to hide it in plain sight, hm? (Those are the same red eyes of that beast they were fighting before. Will this break through the simulation and also puncture through the creature holding them hostage here? Well, there's only one way to find out. Depends on how hard Juju and her outdated Lady can hit it.) Before Lettie can retreat, though, the thing gives a loud screech and her brain is flooded with imagery.

Beautiful forests, blue skies as far as the eye can see. Snap, snap, snap. The images flash faster than the seconds counting down. A technological utopia, built up in phases before inexplicably descending into ruin, rotting everything that was colorful to pure darkness. Skeletons wrapped in wire and vine. Flat, bare soil reeking of death. Gradually, everything starts to sink underground until it aligns with the reality they're stuck in now. Lettie feels like a fly caught in a web. A fucking fly. She writhes, pulls, pulls-- "Let go of me you fucking--!"

Lettie finally falls back into herself and her body collapses to the deck. She scrambles back up, prying her goggles from her eyes. They're white again. "Juno--" Too fucking preoccupied on surviving now to bother coming up with anything else, "Hit the bastard right between the eyes!"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
So between literally watching her lifeline tick down to zero or watching the faerie do her weird raver magic, Juno chooses to watch the faerie do her weird raver her magic. She obviously doesn't understand it (and while she is curious, she refuses to ask), but it's better than hitching her anxiety up into the stratosphere were she to watch the timer. Plus, if she doesn't look and it decides to skip ten crucial seconds again, then it's like it didn't happen. It also comes with the added benefit of being (somewhat) surprised when they get blown to smithereens. Look, it's not the she doesn't trust the faerie to know what she's doing, she just doesn't trust the faerie to act fucking quick enough. And it seems she has every reason to think this given that nothing, nada, zilch is happen––

Iridescent blue dust collapses over the deck in billows, unfurling itself as far as it can reach. That stuns the pirate. It's beautiful. Magnetic. Unlike anything she's ever seen before. The sight forces her to drop her arms from her chest as she becomes as awestruck as her crew. Though surely that can't be it, right? Like some magic dust (which Juno is faerie-ly certain she could acquire were she to crush the bug) is not going to take care of those red eyes. There's no way. Like, does she plan to irritate the digital monster? Because Juno is fairly fucking certain that won't work. Just as Juno turns around to snap at Olette, Marjorie's bony hand grabs her wrist and pulls her back, shaking her head in disapproval. "Tut, tut, captain! Miss Olette is at work and you always hate it when we interrupt your incantations." That's incredibly true, but also obviously different since Juno's spells can actually do shit to help them and all the faerie has accomplished is liquifying her gym mirror. "Ah-ah-ah, don't you give me that look! You have your own task to work on––are you even ready for when miss Olette gives you the all-clear to fire?"

That's surprisingly a good fucking point. The acknowledgement must show on her face, because Marjorie taps the device Juno had pulled out earlier and urges the pirate to ready herself. (Even if the chances of this being successful are slim to none, it's better to be safe than sorry. She's not going to let her chances of survival dip to zero just because she fucked up the most important part of her plan––supercharging shit.) "Fine. Fine. Get everyone secured to the ship, if all goes according to plan, we're going to lose power and the ship's gonna drop."

"What about yo––"

"Don't fucking worry about it," she scowls (Marjorie rolls her eyes as best an eyeless skeleton can), "Just make sure you're ready to boot up the back-up generators when I give the signal." The crew member nods and starts gathering the group––this does involve Philip having to carry Abigail away after she refuses to leave Olette's side. (Apparently, she doesn't want to miss the show.)

At that moment the faerie returns to this realm and, for the briefest moment, the pirate finds herself concerned when she collapses on the deck. But it's a fleeting paltry thing and definitely not worth investigating any further. It's also even easier to bury when Olette rips off her goggles and sends Juno backwards in time with her white ass eyes. ("Dude. No. No, no, no––") She sucks in a breath and anchors herself back to the present. There's no time to (ever) get lost in the past and with time definitely not on their side, she's got to fucking pull it together. So she does, because she's captain fucking Juno. When the faerie tells her where to hit, she nods, and (gladly) turns away from her. The four canons that line the deck of the ship and the five that line the side all swivel to take aim between those giant eyes. (If the situation weren't so high stakes, the pirate might have thrown in some line about the faerie being fucking sure this work or else she'll resurrect them both just to murder her, etc. etc. As it is, she's all focus.) What happens next happens is measured in seconds. Juno diverts power from the ship to the cannons and giant sparking orbs appear at the mouths. Then, all at once, she fires them towards the target just as the countdown clock gets to three.

They fly through the air like fireworks, arcing before falling towards the space between the thing's eyes and when they land? Well, too much is going on for Juno to really say what exactly happens. Mostly because with the power gone, she has to scramble to cover the faerie and herself in a bone cocoon so that they don't fly away; she also has to signal Marjorie to get those back up generators on before they splat across the ground and make all this effort for naught. So when the nine orbs land on their target, Juno does miss the spiders of lightning skittering across the wall and ceiling. She misses how everything goes dark. She doesn't, however, miss the sound of something (presumably the simulation room) exploding. Nor does she miss Marjorie chattering into the radio––something about, "Hold on to your faerie girlfriend!" and "Inez called dibs on steering." There's too much for Juno to process exactly what is happening (and she likely never will bother to put together the sequence of events), but clearly the back up generators were successfully switched on and clearly someone (Inez) is speeding them away from the explosion.

There are several bumps, the sound of metal scraping against the earth, and finally everything stills. It takes a few moments for the pirate to recover, and when she does, she finds that in the process of covering herself and Olette, she... tucked the faerie into her chest and used her own body as an extra layer of protection. For some reason. Instinct, probably. (Fuck.) The cocoon turns to ash around them and when Juno looks up? She's staring at a rather gleeful looking Inez. She's going to pretend she can't hear the rumors already spinning about them and the position they were caught in, because it doesn't fucking matter. They're rumors and they aren't true. What does matter, however? The hollow shell of the tech giant they must have been trapped inside now staring at them. "What the..." she mutters, pushing herself to her feet and deciding to ignore that (1) she was on top of the faerie and (2) she protected the faerie (with her body) (again).

Now outside of the simulation, the giant from before lays on its side, one of its eyes blasted through (likely where they made their exit) and electricity sparks all over its massive body, but the thing is quite clearly dead. Or temporarily out of commission, but more than likely dead based on how it smokes. The planet itself is cold and dark, like it hasn't known the sun in eons. It makes it difficult to make out the landscape, but Juno can feel the pulse of death still clinging to the planet like it was only killed yesterday. Whatever happened here was worse than what happened to Juno's planet. That much she can tell and she doesn't even need to see the barren wasteland that is undoubtedly this planet. She can feel it. It's strong enough to pull her to the ledge of her ship.

The threads of death, like white wisps, waft from the ground and are so thick in the air that Juno cannot make out the ground below. Experimentally, she lifts her hand into the air and calls upon the bones of the earth. The call is not particularly powerful, but the threads all straighten to attention, like they've been starved of it, like they've been waiting. They start pulling towards her, dredging up skeletons from the earth like marionettes that all climb, claw, and crawl their way towards the necromancer. The sheer magnitude of skeletons is overwhelming, so much so her forehead starts to bead with blood sweat and she has to sever the connection, dropping all the bones with a unceremonious clatter. Not that she intended to raise the entire fucking planet's former denizens, but the mass of energy sparked her curiosity and she had to see just how many people are buried on this graveyard planet. (A whole fucking lot. That can only mean...)

"We need to get in the air. Fast." The urgency in Juno's tone is not unwarranted given that soon after she speaks a chilling wind sweeps over them; a wind that laughs. She starts to shove her way over to the helm, but––

Blip!
 

ellarose

wanderer
Lettie’s last memories flicker through her mind in fragments like shards of broken glass suspended in midair after an explosion. The pirate’s stern nod, which states without words that she trusts her assessment before firing off the canons… only to dive towards her seconds later and envelop her completely in the warm (comforting?) darkness of her black clothed body before they drop. Unable to see anything, the destruction around them makes itself known in earsplitting blasts and crackles until at last a shrill ringing pierces through the faerie’s mind. For what seems like forever, there’s nothing but stillness, darkness and that sharp ringing in her ears. Ugh. Is she dead? Did they die? (The stress, the exertion from the fast-paced scan and the pressure of the deck on her broken wing is all it takes to snuff out whatever remains of her consciousness. Floating in that void, maybe she can admit to herself that it’s also the safeness of being tucked in those big strong arms, the shell of the cocoon that allows her the peace of mind to slip away in that moment. In this moment she’s protected, nothing is going to hurt her and…) Then she shivers as the warmth disappears. Is she holding onto a piece or is she only dreaming when she hears the urgency in Juno’s voice— the fear— and the cryptic laughter on the wind…?

When Lettie wakes in the room she’d made her own aboard the ship (for once not being rudely awaken by the pirate’s rage) she’s afflicted with a mood that makes it impossible for her to get out of bed. Maybe she’s sick, maybe she’s been possessed by the spirits of the wailing women… or maybe she just feels like shit. So she stays there, lying flat on her stomach. Not it’s because the bed itself is comfortable enough to melt back into or anything like that. It’s kind of hard and kind of scratchy. Unappealing. Two out of ten at best. Ah, fuck. This is her life now, isn’t it? Stuck with Juno the homicidal pirate until she can figure out a way to escape… and even then, stuck on volatile worlds that are nothing like her own. She’ll be wandering aimlessly until dumb luck strikes and sends her back home. And even when she makes it home, her troubles don’t end there. No, when she makes it home her troubles will only just begin. The faerie’s been running the calculations in her head. If this catastrophe continues for all that much longer, her future starts to look grimmer and grimmer. There's a reason why she hasn't taken a proper vacation in years. And this, for all extents and purposes, is not a vacation. But if she's not working, she may as well make the most of it and rest here for as long as chaos isn't waiting at her doorstep.

A few days pass where only the skeletons will attend to her and keep her company. On the days where she does cross paths with the pirate they always find something to argue about. (There are instances where Juno will wonder where her things have gone... things that Lettie has stolen. Instances where Lettie will reprimand Juno for blatantly trying to kill her. The faerie has had to avoid what can only be described as death traps on multiple occasions now. These encounters typically end with one of them tackling the other before they are ultimately yanked apart by the skeleton crew.) Sometimes their only interactions in a given day involve moving Carpet's corpse around the ship specifically to spite each other. The worst is when Lettie wakes up next to the rotted, disgusting thing and screams so loudly that it disturbs the world of the 'whisperers' and gets them into a shitload of trouble.

The battles are endless. Mainly because Juno's first instinct is to punch any creature they meet in the face upon meeting! And naturally, this pattern gets exhausting fast. Facing numerous sea serpents, ancient giants, and even a gang of horse-headed men with chainsaws.

Occasionally, Lettie will hear the telltale sounds of battles ensuing above deck while she's lounging in bed. Yeah, well. Probably Juju picking fights again! Surprise, surprise. At a certain point, she figures it's probably better if she's not around to get blamed for those. Until the pirate finds the time to harass her about crushing the cube again or threaten to throw her overboard again, she takes these distractions as an opportunities to recuperate and gather her spirits back up. Painting her nails, teasing her hair, changing her outfits. Except it's pretty damn hard to rest properly when the ship shakes about so violently that it starts to make her ill. (When she pokes above deck once to see what's going on out of curiosity, she finds herself staring into a beautiful galaxy of stars... where giant, slimy black tentacles are reaching out from a gaping hole in the sky. Noooope! Nope, nope, nope. She's out! The faerie immediately dematerializes below deck.) If the ship takes enough damage that it starts to bother her, though, she ends up wandering to the engine room out of habit. While there, she tends to any problems the Lady might be having, fixes them in silence. At least it gives her something to do. The adjustments she makes are minimal at best with the means and materials she has... but geez. Imagine the upgrades she could give the Lady if she did! Not that she's going to stick around for long enough for that to be necessary. Right? ...Right?

...Of course, Juno doesn't even think to credit Lettie of doing anything that useful on the ship. Through routine, the faerie quickly learns that it goes unspoken that the pirate credits Marjorie with any helpful task she does not do herself. (And even then, she'd probably sooner credit Abigail with these fixes than the faerie. And as wonderful as Abigail is, the dear, that's really saying something.) Whatever, though! It's not like the pirate's opinions matter. When Lettie figures she has rested long enough and they land on a quaint enough looking forest, she finally makes her long awaited escape.

And this time, undoubtedly content to be rid of the 'disaster magnet', Juno doesn't follow her like all of those other times. This way she'll be rid of Lettie and the cube, they can finally go their separate ways and--

Blip! Blip, blip, blip. But of course, no matter how far Lettie tries to run, the cube always whisks them off to new worlds and somehow snaps their bodies back together like magnets in the process. At this rate, she's starting to get bruises from how much this has happened. And worst of all, she's starting to memorize the shape of Juno's figure, her muscles, pressed against her and it's--

It's no biggie. Nothing to obsess over, no way! Pfft. Those stupid buff arms aren't worth her time. No. Lettie has too much to worry about to concern herself with those. (It's not like she's memorized the pirate's gym routine specifically to watch her work out or anything ridiculous like that. What!? And even if she did do something like that (she totally didn't) it's all purely strategic!) What the faerie needs to worry about is how she's going to put enough distance between herself and the pirate to keep the cube from drawing them back together.

Lettie knows the cube has her beat the day she manages to convince a sentient motorcycle that she's a famous, world renowned racer. Once she mounts it, she takes off full throttle without once looking back. With the wind flowing in her luxurious violet hair, she ignores all of the road signs, speeding off the road after pissing off one too many people by refusing to stop. She even attracts the attention of the authorities. But it'll be worth it if she can get away from Juno forever. And this time, this time she swears she's gotten further from the pirate than ever before when... blip!

The cube smashes them together again. So hard that Lettie's face is pressed up against Juno's face. Her lips on... Juno's lips. Juno's lips, which are surprisingly warm and soft for all the shit-talking the pirate does with them and... and-- and-- the images that float around in her head are impossible to ignore. The idea of those muscular arms wrapped around her, fingers sifting through her hair, lips meeting lips-- shit! Shit, shit, shit!

Lettie squeals and pushes herself upright, venting her frustration by pounding on Juno's chest her fist. Her face and wings are both awash with a flustered, rosy hue. "Shit! Fuck! Damn it!"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Her bones feel like dark storm clouds, heavy and ready to break. Dark circles have made a permanent home under her eyes, but honestly those could just be bruises from one of the countless fuckers she's had to deal with day in and day out. When she walks, her foot fall shakes the ground below, unable to carry herself with more grace. It's like she's back on the ground again, fighting for her survival. Fighting for the meager privilege to fucking breathe. It doesn't bother Juno. It doesn't. She won't let it. There's no point in complaining. It's a waste of fucking time and energy when it is clear that her situation isn't going to change. So she holds her breath and buries that childlike want to curl into a ball and hide under her covers. For however bothered she is by the situation, she doesn't let it show. From from the outside, everything is business as usual. She keeps her spine straight, eyes trained ever forward, and keeps trudging along. The ground prepared her for this life and while she had thought she escaped that once she made it to the Echelons, the goddess is a fucking bitch. There's nothing more to it than that.

It had clicked for Juno much sooner than it had for the faerie that they were stuck together after each of her attempts to escape were met with a single blip that brought their bodies back together like two stars set on a collision course. Juno would be lying to say she isn't hopeful that one of these days it will work. Hell, she's half tempted herself to try and devise a plan for escaping their fate. (The robot's words from that platinum planet haunt her and she does her best to ignore them.) The cube only seems to punish them.

That becomes clear when Juno had her arms wrapped around the soft form of a total biker babe, only to feel her body being ripped away and replaced with. The faerie. The fucking faerie who she has either landed under or on top of so many times, that she could just as easily recognize her by feel alone. Imagine her confusion when a new, unexplored, part of Olette lands on her fucking face. Her fucking lips. And it's not Juno's fucking fault she had only, moments ago, had her tongue down the throat of another babe that a little tongue is definitely added to their lips pressing together. Because it's not a kiss. It's not. It's fucking not, because Juno says so. (That her stomach spawned butterflies when her lips touched Olette's and hadn't when she had been kissing that other chick, is entirely coincidental. Nothing to think about or investigate. She'll also ignore the light sting that comes with the faerie's upset, because she's pissed too. Obviously.)

"Fucking Hell! If you want me so fucking bad, don't rely on your fucking cube to get a piece. Just take me out to dinner," she snarls, burying any feeling that isn't pure and utter resentment for the faerie. There's no point in discussing this any further and since it seems the world they've landed on this time is relatively peaceful, she storms below deck and decides to work out her sexual frustrations by hitting the gym.

After that hiccup, the routine continues as usual. She wakes up, exhausted, and pries her body from her cushy feather mattress. She probably curses upon stubbing her toe on Clay's stupid fucking corpse. (The thing is starting to fucking reek.) She stretches and tries to forget that she's not home anymore. (And probably never will be again. Good riddance, she supposes). Then the barreling reality that her life has become never fails to get her sprinting above deck before she's even touched her morning gruel. It's always something with these fucks. Either Lady is an eyesore to the local homeowners association and the locals (sentient squares) are threatening to tow her; some god or guardian is pissed off because Juno threatened to punch them in the face; revenants are attacking; she set off a ancient trap or activated a curse... Honestly the list goes on and the days are all starting to blur together where she doesn't remember if it was last week she was fighting some tentacled horror from space (she's still got sucker marks speckling her skin) or yesterday.

The one perk from all of this? It's giving the necromancer more experience than ever before––like, yeah, her entire fucking existence has been experience, but even then she has never seen anything like the shit she's encountered abroad. Don't get it twisted––it's not a pleasure fighting all these fucking batshit opponents who won't just leave her the fuck alone, but she won't deny that it's forced her to adapt and innovate. Never would she have thought to use an opponent's blood to create a ward against itself. It might have only worked for a minute, but that minute changed the fucking course of the fight. (Nevermind that her attempt to body swap with Marjorie totally blew up in her face and nearly got her ass kicked and lost the ship as a result. It had been a good idea in theory, just too fucking bad it didn't work out.)

Through the fighting and collection of bruises, cuts, suckers marks, and bites Juno has only confirmed that being the first one to throw a punch is paramount in any fucking fight. Something the faerie doesn't fucking understand seeing as her strategy when dealing with an eldritch horror had been to offer to give it a fucking makeover. Had Juno not shown up when she did... Let's just say they probably would not still be alive, because that fucker had been shady as Hell and her instinct to punch it on sight had been wise seeing as it nearly tried to tear Lady in two. (That that might have only happened because Juno punched the thing is irrelevant. It proved itself an ugly motherfucker in the end.)

So, yeah. The faerie is still fucking useless but at least she doesn't get in the way (usually). Juno has no idea what she does with her day other than steal shit and hide Clay's body in inconvenient locations. (Juno had not been pleased to find the fuck chilling in the freezer when she went to grab a late night snack. That's about when she decided that she ought to shoot his body from one of the cannons. Granted, they ran out of cannonballs a few days back and so it was also the economical choice.) She guesses that the faerie might also busy herself with painting her nails and changing her crew different colors (right before important fucking battles, making them all look like fucking ninnies). And the one time they were forced into a battle together had been no thanks to the cube miscalculating and dumping them directly into a haunted maze of horrors where they inevitably got seperated. The necromancer has not a clue how the faerie survived without her. (That she found Olette sitting on top of a pile of charred corpses, filing her nails, is easily brushed aside. She probably found them like that.)

It is better when they try to avoid each other. Especially after that unmentionable incident involving their faces getting mushed together. (She refuses to call it a kiss, because it wasn't a fucking kiss! It wasn't. It just wasn't.) In fact, ever since then they seem to have only grown more irritated with the other's presence––resulting in more tackling, more bickering, more attempts to kill each other. The faerie plays fucking dirty, she learns. (How else can Juno interpret the faerie precariously placing a bucket of water on top of a door? That easily could have fucking killed her and naturally Juno has to respond by scattering hexed teeth throughout the ship, set to impale anything that breathes as they walk past.)

Anyway, the longer this entire quest goes on, the more supplies dwindle. The captain isn't fucking ignoring this fact either––she's tried to grab supplies from the other world's they've been teleported to and each time they arrive somewhere new, it's all ash. Doesn't matter if it's a cool sword she swiped from a fallen god, a bag of something called "flour," or a goddamn inconsequential rock, it all puffs to ash. It's starting to stress the pirate out and that only means she's become more irate and disagreeable. Marjorie even avoids the captain and she generally has the highest tolerance for her bullshit.

So maybe that's why when they end up on a planet that's so green it makes Juno sick, she actually does sort of listen to the faerie prattle on about plants being food or something. (Sounds fake.) Tentatively, she had also accepted a small round berry Olette offered to her earlier and, having already watched the faerie eat several already and not die, she eventually sniffs it. Then she crushes it between her fingers and smears the juice on the side of a tree, sneering at it as if it has offended her. She continues to stomp through the forest, grumpy, and too tired to even look for a fight to pick. That's when she notices a nice pink tree with a rather pleasant smell. 'What'd the faerie say? Lick the pink ones?'

Yup, she's pretty sure that's it. So she sticks out her tongue and––
 

ellarose

wanderer
--and Lettie tackles Juno to the ground before she can lick a poisonous tree, ultimately saving her life. "Juju, no! I told you, that's poisonous!" She tells her just as much. "And who in their right mind licks a tree?" Will the faerie get any thanks for her efforts? No. Because she's been living a miserably thankless existence ever since they met! She offers freshly picked berries to sate the pirate's appetite (perhaps hoping that might improve her grumpy-grump mood, which can easily encourage her to put their lives at risk by picking more fights) and even snacks on them in front of her to prove that they're safe. But naturally Juju has none of it and squashes her delicious peace offerings between her fingers. This isn't the first time she's been blatantly disregarded like this, either. Oh no. She foolishly thought she might have gotten a sliver of acknowledgment when she took care of all those monsters and zombies in the haunted maze... only for the pirate to claim that she must've found them like that. (Like, what the fuck!? Did she think that she found a bunch of corpses like 'Ah, yes. A convenient throne!' Well, okay. Sitting atop a throne of her enemies does sound pretty badass. And it was! But it's only badass when she's rightfully credited with taking down said enemies.) And as for the much-needed improvements she makes in the engine room? 'Thanks, Phillip' says the pirate, when the faerie helpfully points out the fact that Marjorie had been with her when these 'mysterious fixes' had been made. There's no point. There is no reasoning with the pirate. To Juno, she's just an annoying little faerie whose words translate to nothing but a buzzing in her ears. Like a pest-- a fly-- a bug.

The day Lettie finds treasure is a very good day. (She might have bamboozled it from a troll under a bridge by faking a rare illness for sympathy points, but... desperate times, desperate measures.) With the pirate off doing her own thing, she has the skeletons help her carry it all to her room without getting spotted. Humming to herself, she counts the sparkling gold pieces, runs the calculations in her mind, accounting for the time lost on this impromptu adventure, and is ultimately overjoyed when she discovers that she can totally salvage the dumpster fire her life has turned into. Then the treasure burns to ashes on her floor when the cube chucks them elsewhere, burning all of her hopes up along with it. A pile of dust. Heh. Just like she's going to be, if this keeps... if this keeps...

These days Lettie has very little will to rise from her bed in the mornings at all. What's the point when nothing ever changes? It's not for a lack of trying on her end. When she offers the pirate knowledge about the forests and food, as well as applying much-needed improvements on the ship... there's nothing. Carpet's body, rancid and decaying, certainly deserved to be shot out into the stratosphere. Without it, though, their game ultimately comes to an end. Since any other harmless pranks she plays are perceived as death threats, she makes the wise decision to cut that small joy out of her life as well. Mostly because she's grown tired of dodging the pirate's overkill attempts at retaliation. One of these days she's going to stumble from her room in a sleep-laden haze, step on an enchanted bone and die. And that'll be it, the anti-climactic end of her life. Not to mention some of the irreparable damage they've caused, tearing through other worlds with all the grace of a tornado. The worst of which being the time they attack a giant who, upon falling, they realize carries (carried) an entire civilization on its back. The faerie still hears the distant screams ringing in her ears.

The skeletons start to worry about Lettie the way Ravan does when she closes herself up in her room. (...Why risk her life exploring the worlds at all if the treasure isn't going to amount to anything? Time moves with every second she wastes like grains of sand in an hourglass. One of these days it's going to run out.) Inez goes out of her way to steal Juno's big gym mirror and set it up in her room. Marjorie and Abigail bring her flowers to 'liven things up' (these also dissolve to ashes when the cube blips them away again, effectively ramming a spear through her heart) and the faerie ultimately feels so sick with herself that she takes the ratty spare blanket in her room and covers the mirror with it. The faerie then proceeds to spend a full day lying flat on her face. The weight of her stress is the equivalent of the world (or rather multiple worlds) on her back. She doesn't even bother lifting her head when, right on time for the pirate's daily workout, Juno storms in to retrieve her stolen mirror. Inez steals it again and suggests makeovers this time.

And eventually Lettie picks herself back up. She always does. Eventually.

It's a good thing she does, too. Lettie's neglected her skin routine for far too long! She takes care of herself immediately upon reuniting with her reflection, changing her hair to her favorite shade of blue and her eyes to a striking shade of violet. When Juno eventually comes back for her gym mirror again, she lights up with an idea and considers making a brand new routine for herself. (Busy, busy, busy. She needs to keep herself busy to keep herself from falling into another slump.) Anyway, this brilliant idea involves two words. Knife throwing. Yes! Considering she's kept herself apart from the pirate, thus sparing herself from being tackled on the regular, she has to keep herself engaged somehow. And what better way other than learning to throw knives? If she practices long enough, maybe one day she won't have to rely on her cheats with magic.

Lettie rises early to practice in the gym, making sure to time her visits before Juno ever makes it there. On one particularly uneventful day, though, the pirate apparently decides to show early. The faerie hits her target, cheers with delight, and then glimpses over to see her standing there silently in the doorway. Rather than yell at her for using the gym, though, Juno just... runs off? Well. Okay, then. Weird. But whatever! Of course, the faerie can't solely keep herself occupied with knife throwing. She decides to continue her work in the engine room and also-- using the guitar and drum-set-- ends up staring a band with the skeleton crew. 'Lettie and the Skellies!' Clearly she's living the dream here. Yeah! Haha, if she ignores everything then it'll all just...

Nah. Lettie's been having nightmares, incessant reminds of what's waiting for her. Resembling those... those mortifying things on Juno's world. The faerie runs through the motions of each day, desperate to keep busy, unsure whether she's thriving or dying.

Then one night Lettie and Juno end up on a world with a pretty flashy, neon nightlife situation going on. Abigail happily skips over as they're checking the place out from the deck, announcing that she saved an elderly man from getting run over by a dinosaur (a car) and that he'd given her a shitton of money as thanks. Cities mean restaurants-- food-- and also bars. Drinks. Fun times! How long has it been since she's had a fun night out? And money means they can buy these things without committing crimes or starting exhausting fights. The faerie quickly whisks Abigail's reward from her before she can rip it up and turn it into a rain of useless 'confetti'. (This has happened before, to the faerie's horror. Never again will she trust sweet, sweet Abigail with money.)

"Sorry, Abby. I'll make it rain magic dust later just for you. That'll be even sparklier." Lettie promises. Waving the bills towards Juno to coax her into coming along, she strolls off the ship. "C'mon, Juju! It's bad luck to waste good luck... or something like that. Who cares? I want to get trashed."
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Nature sucks. Nature sucks ass. Juno should have realized that the second that the faerie revealed her affinity for it, because everything having to do with the faerie sucks ass. They leave that forest planet grumpy for both similar and dissimilar reasons and the routine continues on and on and on. The pirate barely feels like a person anymore and her exhaustion gets worse the more supplies dwindle (she's even running low on bugs). Naturally, that means her attitude continues to sour like milk in the sun––especially when she notices her muscles starting to wither as a result of poor nutrition. This inspires the pirate to later try out a berry the next time they land on a planet with materials to forage. Granted, she does try the berry out in the privacy of her room, but at least she gave it a try. She arrives at the conclusion that it's edible when she doesn't immediately die and also concludes that she doesn't like berries. But it's the only thing the faerie gathers and so she makes do, stealing the berries when (she thinks) the faerie isn't looking and trying to do so before they're hurled across the space time continuum to face more fucking monsters. And hopefully not fell an entire fucking civilization do to a severe miscommunication. (Juno refuses to think about that incident. Or she tries to refuse, but the memories do come back uninvited and guilt settles in the pit of her stomach. There is the private relief that, even though they never talk about it, the faerie feels the same––that was obvious when they shared one 'Oh fuck' glance shortly before the cube disappeared them to a new location.)

Juno feels like a fly trapped in a spider's web and the spider is playing games with her as their (mis)adventures continue to dogpile on top of each other. The only relief she gets happens to be when the faerie decides to become one with her floor. The pirate has the thought to ask if she's alright, but quickly sweeps the urge away, reminding herself that she doesn't care about her. That she shouldn't care about her. (It does become more difficult not think of her, however, when Juno ran into her at the gym––at first shocked to see her there at all and then surprised to see her throwing knives with a surprising amount of accuracy. It had, uh, both caused Juno to think twice before messing with her and had her redouble the traps she laid around her room just in case Olette is thinking of killing her in her sleep. She doesn't want to acknowledge how it made other parts of her feel, however, so she pretends it was a fluke even if her pre-bedtime thoughts say otherwise.)

Anyway, when they finally land on a world that, while incredibly different than Juno's, promises something interesting, she doesn't protest to going along with the faerie to get trashed. For once, she agrees with the bug and where she'd be happy to go alone... Olette has the cash and she's too tired to tackle her for it. Also much too tired to steal or pick a fight. Just this once, she will choose peace.

"Fine," she mumbles, trying to sound as disinterested as possible. She then tosses the controls to the airship over to Marjorie. "You're in charge." And, upon seeing Inez mischievously tap her fingers together, she adds, "No fucking parties." There's protesting after that, but Juno ignores it and trails along after the faerie. They amble to a few different bars, Juno rejecting them for one reason or another, before the pirate grabs the other woman's wrist and pulls her into an absolute dive.

"You wanna get trashed?" she lifts a brow, "This is the place, for fucking sure." Maybe she's also trying to see if the faerie can hang by taking her to such a depraved place, but Juno's got to entertain herself somehow. Obviously, she's still under the impression that the faerie is a priss. This is probably (definitely) how they end up in a competition to outdrink each other. That somehow turns into them teaming up to outdrink the entire bar (and they are successful). A rosy flush adorns the pirate's face and she the loses her leather motorcycle jacket to show off her muscles. Obviously, that leads to a series of arm wrestling matches––that turns into an impromptu tournament, that Juno obviously wins. Afterwards, Juno tries some 'fries' and decides those are okay. At another point in the night, some dude tries to bother some chick and while Juno is fine minding her own business, she is amused to see the faerie start a fight on the chick's behalf. That does get them tossed out of the dive (and not before Juno collects the winnings from betting on the faerie).

What happens after is a blur. More drinks, that's for sure. More shenanigans, most definitely. She's pretty sure they ended up dancing at some obnoxiously loud and neon club. And, at some point, they're offered some sort of substance that's supposed to really get them into the vibe and that's about when the entire night slips away from Juno. She only has flashes of memories from that point onward––a memory of seashells, stars, and lying on the beach.

When she wakes up, miraculously back on the ship, her head is pounding and she instantly wishes she could plunge herself back into slumber. Her body aches from whatever they had gotten themselves into, especially her abs––like she spent some portion of the night belly laughing. It takes her a moment to come to, but she realizes they're in the gym for some––wait a minute. They? They're in the gym? Well, yeah, because Juno knows the feeling of the faerie on top of her. The pirate is flat on her stomach and Olette is flat on her stomach on top of the pirate. What the fuck?

She pushes herself up, and fast, letting the other woman topple off of her and also instantly regretting the choice as her stomach decides to slosh around. 'Fuuuuck.' She squeezes her eyes shut and groans as the wave of nauseation washes over her, draining the color from her face. She falls onto her side as she concentrates on not being a fucking weenie by throwing up the entire party they must have had the night before. 'Goddess please cure me of this fucking hangover and I will never fucking party again,' she lies.

"Captain?" a voice that sounds like it's talking through a bubble asks. When Juno turns to look over her shoulder it's Marjorie. (But also it isn't Marjorie at the same time. The pirate cannot place it in her weakened state and isn't able to question it as a result, but the crew member is distinctly not a skeleton. She's a giant sentient banana.) "How would her royal highness, Olette, like her morning coffee? Black? Two creams and a sugar?"
 

ellarose

wanderer
Mistakes were made. Lettie knows this when the warm bed she's in moves out from under her (because that bed is actually a person and a stupidly buff one at that) and she falls unceremoniously to the hard, cold floor. Rather than cry out, the faerie only possesses the strength to curl into a little ball and groan weakly. Damn. For a split second, she can acknowledge that she misses the warmth as soon as it leaves her (that the pirate is briefly synonymous with warmth in her mind is strictly attributed to the killer of a headache she's experiencing) before she feels the 'excitement' of a night spent partying all at once. The proof of the time spent exploring new streets and dancing is written in the fresh blisters on her feet, though the faerie's magicked heels had long since been discarded and tossed who knows where. The thump-thumping in her head is a sad, hollow mockery of the pounding music she vaguely remembers dancing to, only now rather than liven her spirits it feels as though her brain is going to melt out her ears. Not to mention the boiling pot her stomach has turned into, resembling an old witch's cauldron if she puts an artistic spin on it. That part should remain unmentionable, in fact, because oof-- too much information--

Lettie wraps her arms around her center, as if she might physically hold the contents of her stomach still and keep them from spilling out all over the floor. That said, where in the worlds is she? Opening her eyes puts on her a floor she's somewhat familiar with, but she knows she's never woken up here before. It takes a second of blinking and squinting for her to register that this is the pirate's gym. How'd they end up here of all places? She has absolutely no memories of the gym-- not even a wisp to clue her in. The faerie makes a herculean effort to sit up, fighting the nausea since it's like turning her whole world sideways, and catches a glimpse of her reflection in the big mirror. It's hazy, like the mirror is coated with a sheen of mist, but this does not bother her. Immediately she assesses that her hair is not one solid color but rather a whole pastel rainbow of them. Her eyes, too, are glamoured to periodically sparkle and change colors like some vibrant sleep-mode screen on a computer. (...Okay, she somewhat remembers trying to impress a very punk-rock lady with them now. She complimented the unique violet color and, Lettie being Lettie, probably upped the ante by changing her eyes a thousand different colors to blow her mind. Then she vaguely remembers that same lady she'd been flirting with getting in on the arm wrestling contest she'd been watching (not watching) and leaving when Juju wiped the floor with everyone. How does she know this if she wasn't watching? Well-- no-- that's unimportant! Ahem. Besides, studying the pirate's muscles properly is and always has been a matter of life or death.) Anyway. The rainbow hair is something she can cope with but her flashy eyes are making her sick. (Sicker.) With the lethargic whirl of her finger, she glyphs her eyes to be a calming shade of blue. The glyph comes out backwards (probably because of the mirror) and her eyes turn a warm shade of gold instead. Like honey. (The contrast between that and what she expects is slightly jarring, but... ah, but maybe it's for the best. Otherwise it'd have been a mistake. That shade of blue always has a way of reminding her of--) Rather than question her intentions versus what her magic just did, she turns when she hears the sound of her name. The voice calling out to her is just as hazy as her reflection. With a crackling noise the banana grows a skeletal arm, poofs into a maid uniform and a tray also appears.

It's not weird. It's perfectly natural, in fact, because Marjorie is offering coffee. Oh. That's right. This is Marjorie!

"Highness...?" Lettie mumbles, rubbing her newly gold eyes with the heels of her palms. She laughs quietly-- it's a bitter and self-deprecating thing-- and then falls flat on the ground again. She scrubs her hands up to her throbbing forehead and holds them there, pressing her eyes shut. "How can I be high when I'm lying on the floor?"

A nectarine (Inez) hits their drum set in a smooth 'ba dum tss' to punctuate the faerie's words. She guesses it's fine that the drum set is in the gym and not in the room their band has repurposed for practices. Cubes appear in little stacks all around them and play fuzzy, canned laughter like they're on some kind of television set. This is also fine.

"You are high because we're on an airship, princess Olette." Marjorie the banana supplies. Inez gives another 'ba dum tss' and the cube laughter plays again. While it's charming the first few times, these sounds begin to play on repeat without any bad jokes to lend them meaning, to the point where it does nothing but add to the chaotic cacophony in the faerie's head.

"Ugh. Cubey, can you tell your family to quiet down?" Lettie is about to glyph her purse to reach for the cube, but rather than go to the effort there's a 'flicker-flicker' warping the air and the cube appears in her palms without her having to go to the effort. With a sigh, she sets it down atop one of the cube stacks around them. "This hangover sucks."

The second that the cube leaves Lettie's fingers is the second that the world morphs around them. They're no longer in the gym, but on the floor of Mammy's house. Probably the cube's fault. Silly cubey, always blipping them off from place to place! The sentient table is on fire (and screaming) but no one seems to acknowledge it. The burning gingerbread smell swirls Lettie's mind around like soup.

"Juju! Lettie! Mammy is so happy that you children have found the time to pay her another visit." The peppermint, cracked and held together with hardened chocolate, claps delightedly. "Wait there for just a moment! I'll bring her right out."

"Yeah, no. Fuck that." Lettie whispers to Juno, having none of this. Geez! Why did the cube take them back here of all places? (It doesn't occur to her to question the fact that they set this place on fire and it should not, in fact, exist anymore.) With a sluggish stretch, she clambers to her feet. (It becomes apparent when she's standing up that she is wearing nothing but her underwear and Juno's motorcycle jacket. This is totally fine.) The ground sways beneath her and it honestly still feels like they're on the ship, despite being in Mammy's candy house of horrors. They're not tied up this time, so faerie just walks to the front door and opens it. Where there should have been a snowy landscape stretching out before her, she finds herself walking into another replica of Mammy's house. No matter how many times she does this, the door opens to the same setting. Occasionally the piece of furniture that's on fire changes. Sometimes the colors swap around. This repetition is vaguely annoying to the faerie and nothing more. She's mostly unfazed, simply trying again and again until she finally opens the door and an avalanche of skeletons tumbles out on top of her, burying her in a sea of bones. "Ouch. Juju! Did you do this!?" The pirate is the first person she associates skeletons with now, so this conclusion is logical. Either way, she finds that they're sinking, drowning in them.

Some of the skeletons whisper for them to run. A chill careens down the faerie's spine.

"Good news, children! Mammy found your real mothers. If you wait for just a moment longer, they'll be right out to greet you. They want to take you home." These words are spoken through dark laughter. It doesn't sound like the peppermint's voice anymore... it sounds like something much, much more sinister than that. "They've missed you so much!"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
'Shutupshutupshutup!' the pirate wants to yell. Wants to yell and yet she cannot muster up enough strength to do so while her stomach and head rage against her. Juno cannot even remember the last time she let herself drink so fucking much. She cannot remember the last time she got so fucking fucked up the details of the night are hidden behind a thick black wall, locked away. Granted, she does somewhat remember neither of them wanting to quit once their drinking competition started––leave it to the fucking faerie to not understand her limits and forcing them into such excess, because obviously Juno is the fucking victim in all of this. This isn't her fault. While she may have been the one to instigate their (first) competition, she refuses to take responsibility since she only drank as much as she did because the faerie drank as much as she did and being that they were in competition with one another (and the faerie is apparently a competitive motherfucker), she obviously wasn't going to stop. The pirate isn't a quitter, nor is she a loser. (Clearly, the faerie is cut from the same cloth given the feedback loop they got themselves caught up in the night before.)

She squeezes her eyes shut even tighter, as if that will block out the noise––Marjorie's voice, the faerie's voice, the drums, and the laugh track. She'd cover her ears, but her hands are too preoccupied clutching her stomach. Then the pirate lets out a pathetic pained moan when sweet warm aromas assault her nose, making her want to gag. She mutters incoherently as she forces herself to sit up right. Though she miscalculates, moves too fast, and has to drop her head between her knees as the world spins 'round and 'round with no sign of ever stopping. 'Never fucking partying with fucking Olette ever again.' She can't even be bothered to omit the faerie's name in such a desperate state.

When she opens her eyes and finds herself in that haunted candy house, she doesn't think twice about it. It's obvious to her that they would be here, because... because that's where they've always been as far as she's concerned. She just wishes she could turn off the assaulting smell of this place, because it is seriously making her want to hurl. In fact, when she (slowly) brings herself to rise, she nearly does. Right onto one of the flaming chairs that flickers between being on fire and not, between milk and dark chocolate, while the faerie keeps running through the house in circles. "Quit fucking around, you're making my hangover fucking worse!" she grumbles through her teeth, looking up to shoot daggers at the faerie.

The faerie who continues to make things worse by endlessly going through that same door and eventually finding the skeletons buried in Mammy's closet. Ugh, typical. And of course she blames Juno, too! As if that furry elephant doesn't reek of evil. "Yeah, because between passing the fuck out on the beach," weird because they definitely woke up in the gym and somehow got here, "and paying a visit to Mammy, I fucking found the time to summon skeletons that duplicate. Just to fucking fuck with you." Crap, talking so much is a bad idea, because it makes her want to pass the fuck out (again). She sucks in a breath and waves the skeletons away for the faerie, turning them into fireflies. Yeah, that makes sense. All of Juno's bone constructs turn to fireflies afterwards. "Let's just fucking jet before––"

Too late. Much too fucking late. Waaay too fucking late, in fact. Now the evil circle is announcing that Mammy found her mother, apparently. (Nevermind the faerie's fucking mom, this is obviously more concerning to Juno.) As if she even wants to see that bitch again. (As if she even remember what that woman looks like.) Not after––nope, she's not even going to fucking go there. Swallowing down the next wave of nausea and unwanted memories, she grabs the faerie's wrist, kicks down one of the cardboard walls (?)––puffing it into confetti (??)––and pulls them into that poisonous forest they explored not too long ago. (It's not poisonous, Juno just tried to lick the one (1) poisonous tree in the forest.) "Goddess, that bitch is so fucking nosy." Even though Juno hadn't intended to make elephant nose joke, Inez the nectarine appears with the drum set to play her little ba dum tss. Then she puffs away.

Anyway, the forest is exactly as they left it––floating fish and everything. (Wait, weren't the floating fish part of a different forest?) Sir Regis appears out of nowhere. Well, at least an approximation of the shark does as this Sir Regis has the lower half of a man and the upper half of a shark. He's also wearing a full suit of armor (as best a half-man, half-shark can). "Ah, greetings, princess Lettie and captain cupcake!" he bows, "I see you have returned to defeat your mothers in physical combat! A noble quest indeed, for mommy issues are one of the last dragons that have a grip over this land."

And when Sir Regis says that? A giant, multi-headed dragon lands in the middle of the forest, sending a ripple through the landscape as if everything were made of water. (This makes total sense.) Each of the dragon's many heads take on the face of a different animal. There are three that immediately remind the pirate of her mother figures. Ha. Cool. What the Hell, right?

"Still a useless fucking runt, Juno? Or did you finally learn how to pull your own weight?" the bobcat head spits, breathing lightning at the same time she does the insult. The pirate grimaces in response and ducks behind a rock––immediately regretting the sudden action as it stirs the explosive contents of her stomach around. She presses her back to the rock, hitting her head against it as she she shuts her eyes and clenches her jaw. Alright. Okay. This is fine. This doesn't fucking blow at all. Not like it's dredging up repressed fucking memories that are fucking repressed for a fucking reason! (Fucking rude.) (In her mind's eye she can see a tin laden establishment burning; steward soldiers marching through; they're leaving. Juno's legs are too small and––)

Her eyes snap open. She tenses her stomach and forces it to cooperate for two fucking seconds and looks over the boulder, watching the bobcat head rear for another attack. She ducks. Then the white-eyed octopus head starts talking, "Juno, what ever happened to James?"

At the mention of that name, the color washes away from the pirate's face, frozen behind the rock as the beast gets closer. The third head, a wolf, snaps at the bobcat and the octopus, growling, "Oi, leave fuckin' kid alone! Juno, what'd I'd always tell ya?" That seems to loosen the knot between Juno's shoulders as she remembers exactly what she used to tell her. ("No, Juno, you’re not gonna quit. You’re gonna become the baddest, scariest motherfucker out there––make the wolves 'n shit bow to you.") The necromancer opens her eyes, nodding to herself (and the wolf), as she steals herself over. Right. She doesn't fucking quit. She won't back down on that promise.

When she turns back from behind the rock, her eyes start to glow––because obviously they've always done that––and she starts shooting laser beams at the fucking dragon thing. This also makes sense and is definitely something she's always been able to do. Nothing weird about it––she's obviously just, uh, bending the necromantic energy into... laser beams. Yeah, whatever, as long as it shuts the dragon up. The cube piles start emerging from the ground to cheer the pirate on.

Meanwhile, the fourth head, takes a particular interest in the resident faerie.
 
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ellarose

wanderer
Nothing about this forest strikes Lettie as particularly odd. Not the fact that Sir Regis has grown legs, nor Inez the nectarine appearing however briefly to play the drums and punctuate their jokes. The sight of Juno hiding behind a rock upon facing the dragon, however, is one of the things she does find odd. Really fucking odd, in fact. It's visceral. Where has the cocky pirate who promises to punch all of her foes in the face gone? The dragon breathes lightning and insults directed at Juno in the same breath, the octopus hits her with taunts which sound far too personal for her liking and-- and instead of tuning their words out, the way she tunes the faerie's words out all the fucking time, the pirate listens to them. And it's odd. She's never seen her like this before.

"Juju..." Lettie isn't sure what to say or whether she should say anything at all. Curling her lip, she's halfway tempted to tell the dragon off on her behalf because of how off-putting this is. Don't let them talk to you this way. Stand up and fight, damn it! Fortunately for all of them, the wolf speaks up before the faerie can pass over any of the strict boundaries she's set for herself when it comes to expressing concern for the pirate. She hasn't succumbed yet, no matter how many monsters they've faced, no matter what wounds they might've endured in the aftermath. She gives what she gets. And Juno, for all extents and purposes, has given her no reason to give a shit. The glimmer of sympathy she feels is a fluke, not something to act on. Anyway-- she doesn't really catch what happens next on Juno's end. Probably because one of the heads hasn't spoken yet. And she notices that it's staring at her with laser focus.

The fourth head is a unicorn with an elegant, flowing white mane and sharp blue eyes-- sorrowful and clean, like diamond tears. They freeze her solid where she stands. They're so familiar. Is it just Lettie or does she feel even smaller? Like a child. Or maybe the dragon has grown larger.

"Olette, darling." The unicorn's voice is delicate. Lulling. Almost hypnotic. But it cuts through Lettie like the end of a jagged razor blade. "Haven't I raised you better than this? Why would you go outside dressed like that? You know full well what people will say about me if they see you looking like... like..."

Lettie resents the way she automatically straightens her posture and glyphs a presentable dress in response to this. She turns a graceful spin and the frame of a beautiful gown sparkles before appearing around her frame in soft billows of fabric. Colorful flowers from the forest floor rise and sparkle like shooting stars, adorning themselves beautifully along the hem. It's a dress befitting of a princess, seeing as everyone's been addressing her as one lately. (Never mind the fact that the faerie doesn't have any clothes on to act as a base. As far as she's concerned, she's always been able to make clothes appear out of thin air.) She makes a pose to finish off her transformation and wears a soft smile, like the one she always practiced in the mirror. (It doesn't reach her eyes. But that doesn't matter. It never did.) There. Just like art! She should be satisfied with this much. Please let it be enough, let it be enough--

"Lose the jacket."
Juno's motorcycle jacket. Lettie falters and reluctantly takes it off, immediately missing the warmth around her arms. With each piece of criticism, a beam of energy shoots out of the unicorn's horn that the faerie has to dodge. "And you know I hate those artificial colors in your hair, Lette. Do they allow you to wear it like that in the estate? I should think not." Oh. Right. Her rainbow hair loses pigmentation until it's a snowy white that matches the unicorn's mane. She doesn't even need to lift a finger to make it so. (Her skin drains of color the same way. Her eyes fade to white, too. The estate...? The estate?) "Not your eyes!" Despite being a ethereal unicorn, the voice she screeches with resembles a banshee. A jarring contrast to her dulcet tones from before. The blasts come faster and this time she doesn't dodge in time. It knocks her back, sends her rolling into a heap. "Do you hear me!? Change them back now! Change them back before someone sees you!" There's the wheezing, the raving, the slurring. Her panic is infectious. Always was."You'll be of no use to me looking like a demonic little minx!"

No use, no use, no use. Lettie's trying, but in the haze she's forgotten how to use her glamours altogether. Ugh, so embarrassing! And now her nose is bleeding.

There's something off about this picture and the faerie can't place it. It's so clear and yet resting just beyond her reach. The estate. Lettie's scar aches and she clamps her hand over it. That's right. The urge to rebel boils over her helpless childhood instincts and overflows like raging hot lava. After cleaning her bloody nose with the back of her hand, she glyphs her floral dress into a shorter number and her hair a soft pink, because fuck this. She picks herself up off the ground and approaches the dragon. Her eyes flash. And just for now, she allows them to stay their natural white out of spite.

"Useless! This is precisely why I sold your--" Lettie doesn't want to hear the end of the sentence, so she doesn't. Mainly because she explodes the unicorn's head with her mind before she can finish it. (She's fine. This is totally fine.) The dragon's remaining heads are screeching, facing the onslaught of Juno's attacks as well. Where the unicorn's blood should've been streaming, a garland of flaming roses spills out from the wound instead. The faerie watches the petals warp and wilt as if hypnotized. It's her fault, but...

You deserve this. You deserved it. You deserved it--

But Lettie's losing grip over her righteous anger and fast. Ah. That's what's been off. Her mother's been dead for a long fucking time. The applause ends and the cube flashes. Piece by piece, the forest floor falls away from beneath them like pieces of broken glass and plunges them into darkness. Rather than falling forever, though, they hit solid ground much faster than she expects.

"Oof!" Like so many times before, Juno ends up landing on top of Lettie. "Ugh. Did we win?" 'Are you okay?' What? No, she's not fucking asking that! The faerie's just seriously messed up, because everything about that was-- well, messed up. Geez. Her head hurts. It's... just the hangover, isn't it? She punches Juno's shoulder to distract herself. "Get off me already! Where are we this time?"
 
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starboob

lover / leaver
When they fall through the earth, Juno cannot help but to feel relieved. The dragon hadn't been that difficult to defeat once she remembered that she's not a fucking quitter and she's the toughest fucker out there, but. The words flung at her have already left their impression. She feels exposed. Naked. Vulnerable. Not the toughest fucker out there, to be quite honest. The win is bitter. The bobcat's head had melted pleasantly and the octopus fell apart and her tentacles ran away into the forest. The wolf... The wolf eventually sprung from the dragon's body and embraced Juno (as best a wolf can). That gesture probably choked her heart more than the memories pulled up by the other two heads. She's glad that the force of them falling through the earth dries out the moisture in her eyes before it can streak down her cheeks and call itself tears. (Which the pirate doesn't have, by the way. She's captain fucking Juno and she doesn't fucking cry for her mommy.) She supposes, she's glad that fourth head focused on the faerie because she's not sure if she'd have been able to handle the onslaught from another voice from the irrelevant past. (She only caught snippets of what the fucking unicorn had said, having been a little preoccupied melting bobcats and deconstructing an octopus, but... Well, if what those heads had said to Juno had been fucking personal then she wonders if the same is true for the faerie. If so––)

"Ugh!" she falls flat on her stomach, immediately recognizing that she's on top of her unwanted partner in crime. The jolt doesn't do her headache or stomach any favors, and as funny as it'd be to hurl on Olette, she holds it down. She accepts the punch to her shoulder without protest; if anything it helps ground Juno in the status fucking quo. (In the fact that all those women are long gone from her life and therefore they should not have a fucking hold over her.) She's actually kind of grateful for it and the distraction it provides. Her features return to their usual perma-scowl and she pushes herself up off the faerie, hovering over her for just a second. (Maybe a second too long.) "If we won, our prize better come with fucking interest because that was fucking bull."

She hadn't been looking at the faerie's face before and now that she is hovering over her, she recognizes Olette's white eyed gaze. She freezes, her muscles tense visibly. She swallows, and opens her mouth to snap but then remembers how that horned horse reacted to those eyes and, well, she feels a twinge of something in her. She doesn't know what it is or what it's called, but it's enough that she lets go of the breath she's been holding and elects to stare a little longer. It's not hostile, just a gesture to get her used to those eyes. Then she gets up and it's like nothing happened.

"You seriously don't know where we are?" she scoffs, shoving the faerie the second she does get up, because why not. While their surroundings had been nothing more than an endless black expanse when they landed, Juno's remark brings the world to life. Her world, specifically. "Idiot, I fucking told you a thousand fucking times we're almost at the Shrike's." Juno doesn't question what she says or the fact that she's in a memory she definitely didn't experience with the faerie. This is just the way it is. (It couldn't be, though, because this happened when she thirteen and without a scar. In fact, the scar on her face disappears and she appears younger and oddly scrawny. The white stripe in her hair is also missing. ...This is totally just how Juno has always been?)

The skies are as purple and disgusting as ever before; the ground they walk on is covered in bones; the nightmares that are always haunting the planet look like the parade balloons. Yup, this is fucking home to Juno. (No.) "Don't tell me you're chickening out? We've been talking about this for fucking months, dude." The necromancer talking to the faerie as if they're old pals is obviously normal, too. They're friends. Childhood friends, in fact. Obviously. "It's gonna be totally fucking fine. I've been practicing. I'm Juno and I'm the fucking best," she grins (her child self grins).

Cubes pop up out of the ground to play a, "Fax, no printer," soundbyte before shrinking back into the ground. A handful of large feral candy corns run across the path before them and Juno sticks out her arm to keep the faerie from getting caught between the flurry. Abigail is flying. This is home as she remembers it. Totally. (No, it really isn't. She knows that. She knows that this is weird, but she cannot place why for the life of her. Where it feels wrong, it also feels unquestionably right.)

"Junooo," the wind whispers, bearing a strikingly similar voice as the octopus from earlier, "Where's James?"

James? James. James. The white stripe reappears in her hair and her blood freezes over. "Shit," she mutters. When she looks to the side and sees Olette (at eye level), her eyes widen. Faeries aren't supposed to be here. "Fuck." Naturally, she launches to pounce on top of the faerie, turning back into her full adult self as she does so––scar, (stupidly buff) muscles, and all. "What kind of drugs did you trick us into doing!?"
 
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ellarose

wanderer
Juno's gazing into Lettie's eyes. There's something in this gaze-- a 'something' that the faerie doesn't bother trying to define for herself. Most likely because the confrontation she's just escaped is still fresh in her mind, causing any positive implications she could've derived to wither as quickly as they bloom. She levels with herself. The pirate is only ever going to look at her as an annoyance that she wants to be rid of. There's no depth to any of this and she's just... tired. Hungover. Maybe delirious with her appetite for acceptance after that horrendous confrontation back there. Mother's version of beauty isn't the only version of beauty to exist in the worlds. She's grown and knows this now. She's been through all the angsty phases, of hating her reflection and then learning to love it for herself. (And then... to hate it again. To love it again a week later and so on. Apparently it's a whole fucking cycle.) Through it all, one thing has been universal. Her white nightmare eyes are unsettling to look into. No one's going to find the time to fall in love with eyes like these when they're too busy feeling creeped the fuck out by them. No one wants to drown in eyes like these-- not when they resemble a mist where they might get lost and get snatched up by something horrific. When Juno stops hovering over her, Lettie finds that she remembers how to apply her glamours again and turns her eyes into a modest shade of brown. They're so warm. So safe. Comfortable. They say the eyes are a window to the soul, right? These glamours are necessary to proving to everyone around her that there is more to her soul than that... cold emptiness in the ghostly white of her eyes. The faerie shivers, wishing that she hadn't taken off the pirate's motorcycle jacket at her 'mother's' request.

When had Juju given Lettie her jacket, anyway? Nah... they were drunk. It doesn't meaning anything. Just like that gaze didn't mean anything. The pirate shoves her for no reason and ultimately gives her the confirmation she needs on this subject. This is where they stand. This is natural. Without comment, the faerie pulls herself to her feet and finds herself simply going through the motions. She walks alongside Juno. It's like she knows this place and she doesn't at the same time and the contradictions find a way to make perfect sense to her. Just like it makes perfect sense that Juno is standing at her eye level now and acting like her friend. Well, duh! They've been friends forever!

"Shrike's?" Lettie asks. She doesn't understand this, but she guesses that's where they're going if Juno says so. She follows the pirate's (?) lead like it's precisely what she's meant to be doing at this moment in time. This Juno is small, though, and somehow does not remind her very much of a pirate anymore. The faerie is so distracted by her attempts to puzzle through what about her has changed that she walks right into Juno's outstretched arm with an 'oof' when the parade of feral candy corn and Abigail cross their path. "Oh. Thanks."

James. James, again? Lettie tilts her head wonderingly. That's who that octopus was talking about before. The name gets caught in the faerie's throat like bile when she thinks to ask about it. That's probably just the effect the expression on the pirate's (?) face has on her, though. Juno doesn't look frightened. Ever. The only time she's come close is that time that she saw Lettie's eyes for the very first time. Either way, she looks frightened now. And that's a jarring enough change that her own perspective of these events take a violent shift. The pirate (yes, she is a pirate) throws her to the ground and forces her to stare into her eyes, and at the unfamiliar purple skies above them. Where the fuck are they?

"It's not my fault!" Lettie shouts back. The acknowledgment of where they are seems to shatter the world again, dropping them into a dark room, lit with only a blue tint of moonlight. Although the faerie is stuck underneath Juno, there's a smaller version of her standing in front of the mirror in what appears to be a bedroom. It's a seemingly perfect room, like a suite in a five-star hotel, but isn't something off about it? There are glowing bars over the windows. The other Lettie is sixteen, she's holding herself and hyperventilating. "It's not my fault. It's not my fault!" She repeats it over and over again between shaking breaths as if desperately trying to convince herself. Then she screams out in a way that can only be described as anguished, throwing the mirror to the ground and shattering the glass. Shards fly towards them and before they can pierce either the real Lettie or Juno, the scene vanishes like smoke.

And now they're in a garden. It's also dark and lit only by shades of blue from the large moon in the sky overhead. It almost appears too large. Like it's about to crash into the earth. At the same time, though, it's natural and nothing to worry about at all. It's just the moon, right? There are rows upon rows of roses and angelic statues as far as the eye can see. Beautiful. Ominous. A glittering dust sifts through the rows and rows of flowers like a magic mist. Some take the shape of vaguely human-like forms. Butterflies playing the tiniest violins float down from the sky like a gentle rain. The song they play is slow and sorrowful.

"The Star Grove... a garden of souls." Lettie observes, weakly pawing at Juno's shoulder in a silent plea for her to get off. The scar around her wrist flickers gold and she quickly clamps her hand over it. Where the fuck did her bracelet go, anyway? That's the least of her worries, though. A menacing shadow shifts among the trees in the forest on the outskirts of the garden and she immediately stiffens, tracking it with her eyes. The rattling of chains sounds-- distant, dragging, coming ever closer. The shape in the trees flickers and takes a monstrous shape. The song the tiny violins play hasten into an urgent melody indicative of oncoming danger. "He's coming. You don't want to get caught, do you? Get up. Get up, get the fuck up! We need to run!"

"Do you think you can outrun fate, Olette?" A voice laughs on the wind. "Do you think you can outrun me? No matter where you go, you will always be--"

"Come on, Juju!" Lettie tries to shout over it. When they run, the world around them does something curious. It flickers rapidly between their worlds-- one moment they're running past roses and the next they're running through those bone-covered streets from before.

"Juno. Juno, where is James?" When they cycle to the other world, the wind selects a different target.

Lettie's wrist glows gold again. This time a long thread appears and she gets forcefully yanked backward by it, dragged through the dirt and bones towards the menacing shadow. "Juno!" (Help, she thinks, but... will the pirate help her this time around? When she wants nothing more than to be rid of her? The faerie holds onto her pride and struggles against the pull in attempt to free herself.) She rakes her nails into the earth to try and claw her way out. This does nothing but leave a long, scratching trail in the dirt behind her. The shadow reels her in and pins her to the ground by her shoulders. Shit. But... she doesn't see the face she expects to see there when she looks at it from up close. This is something (someone?) else entirely. This is relief and yet for obvious reasons she can't find it in her to be too relieved. Those red eyes she finds herself staring into promise danger and pain. The warmth of its breath on her face causes her heart to pound out of her chest. Who the hell is...

"The relic." The stranger hisses in her face, claws elongating like a threat. It draws a delicate line against her throat, causing her breath to hitch. "Where is it?"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
The emotional cocktail swirling in her chest vanishes as they leave one nightmare just to land in another. Though, it doesn't really feel like a nightmare. Nah, this is fine. In fact, the pirate can't even remember why she'd been so gripped moments prior, she only knows that she was. The pirate, too distracted to immediately get up off of the faerie, looks up at the room and mentally tallies how much a place like this must fucking cost. Even the Duchess couldn't afford something this lavish––this is skyward level money. Juno would know it anywhere. So to turn and see the (younger) faerie staring at herself in the mirror? 'Typical.' It really doesn't surprise the pirate to learn the faerie is a snobby little rich bitch. ...Even so, she will admit that it's strange to see her so distraught. She's usually more annoying and carefree. What gives?

The young faerie throws the mirror to the ground and Juno shields herself with her arm, bracing for impact. Though no glass licks her skin. Instead, they're somewhere else (again). The Star Grove. Sure, that makes sense. It feels familiar to Juno, though she could not say where or how she knows this place. It's something visceral and is enough for her to not question it. Bizarre as it is. (The endless statues are, to put it lightly, creepy as fuck and Juno has half a mind to punch one in the face just in case they can come to life.) However, before she can too lost in her thoughts, Olette interrupts her by pushing at her shoulder, reminding her of their positioning. Oh, right. Fuck. A fierce blush storms across the pirate's face and she looks away to hide it, noticing the golden circle on the other woman's wrist. 'What the Hell is that about?' She doesn't think she's seen her wrist glow before––not that the pirate is paying attention to the faerie, but she does think that is a reasonable thing to note about another person.

Too bad she isn't given more time to question any of this as the music around them takes a dramatic shift. Her heart syncs to the rhythm of the song, putting her at alert. Danger. Danger. She doesn't need to be told twice to get up and immediately, she springs to her feet and follows the faerie. The world changes around them, but honestly? The pirate doesn't really notice. Not at first. Not when she's trying to figure out just what the fuck is chasing them and whether or not it's got a punchable face. "Who the fuck is he, bug!?" she heaves out as she runs, only stealing the occasional glance to look at their shadowy pursuer. "Shouldn't we fucking fight him?" Because that's been their (Juno's) strategy thus far and really hasn't failed. (Except for that time they toppled an entire civilization.)

Her concerns change, however, when they end up running back to her shithole planet. (Wait. What?) That stupid haunting voice whispers her wicked question and, once more, Juno feels thirteen. Her body shrinks down in response as all of those feelings burst from the bottle they've been trapped in for over a decade. She wants to disappear. She wants to explode. She yells, instead, "You know what happened!" Hot tears sting at her eyes and she hurriedly and angrily wipes them away, because she doesn't fucking cry.

The wind laughs and it scrapes against the runt's nerves. The runt claps her hands over her ears. "Juno––"

Another voice interrupts the trance. Another voice calling her name. She doesn't know who, but it's enough to pull her back to the present. The pirate turns her head left and right to figure out who called her, but she doesn't see anyone. She only sees the marks of someone getting dragged backwards. Who the–– 'Olette.' (The cube, too. Obviously, the cube––the faerie is a secondary priority. Whatever, she doesn't have time for this!) "Fuck... you stupid piece of shit... where the fuck did you go?"she mutters, sounding genuinely concerned (for the cube). Coincidentally, when she starts to recognize her concern, the world flickers and brings her to the faerie. Huh, convenient.

However, her relief is short lived when she sees that... thing sitting on top of Olette's chest like a fucking creepy little demon. "You have got to be shitting me. What the fuck did you get yourself into!?" Yes, she's being a little aggressive and that's just how the goddess built Juno. She's concerned and, no, she's not going to leave the cube behind. (Because it's obviously the cube and not the pretty faerie who she is rescuing. Duh. Don't get it twisted. And the only reason she thinks the faerie is pretty is because she has eyes and that's it. Nothing fucking gay about it. Geez.) She fishes through her pocket for some teeth and tosses them towards the entity, turning them into spikes in midair. The entity doesn't move. It doesn't even flinch. The spikes just absorb into its dark form. It tosses its head back and cackles. "My, my––do you have any other tricks, necromancer? What next? More bones?"

Fine. If this bitch wants to see what else the necromancer's got, she'll give it.

Juno pulls her fist backwards, then launches to deck the entity in the face. (Classic, Juno.) But before she can make contact the world flickers. The entity disappears. Juno topples over the faerie, unable to stop her momentum, and when she sits up, they're in the club. The same club from last night. Because they're in last night, obviously! (Wait, this seriously feels fucking wrong.) Juno grabs the faerie and pulls them both to their feet. She opens her mouth to speak, but someone interrupts her.

The punk-rock chick the faerie had been flirting with claps them both on the shoulder and smiles in a way that says, 'Run. Get out.' "Hey! There you are!! Your unicorn is waiting outside for you, princess Lettie."
 
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ellarose

wanderer
Lettie can't seem to steady her breathing into a quiet pattern again until Juno pulls her back up to her feet. (Swallowing, she touches her fingertips to her bleeding throat. Those red eyes linger like scorch marks on the back of her own eyes, leaving tears of gold against the blackness, like staring at the sun for too long.) She resists the urge to grab onto the pirate's hand like she's seven years old again just because she was (scared) a little distraught. That was... close? And for once, she's glad that the pirate, homicidal instincts, stupidly buff muscles and all, is there beside her. And for a while she doesn't know what to do with that feeling. Maybe she doesn't have to do anything with it except shove it down, though, because the punk-rock lady is back to provide a convenient distraction. Or not. Nope, because apparently nothing can go right ever. Her unicorn?

The glasses on the bar clitter-clatter as it starts to tremble, colorful liquid spilling out over the sides. The lights flicker. Whether she wants to go outside or not is not left up to her, because the world itself is going to force them to go out one way or the other. (It's an unspoken rule. When the glasses go 'clitter-clatter' it means it's time to fucking leave.) A concoction of colorful, alcoholic beverages is flooding the bar floor. They need to leave before they drown, obviously. Lettie takes a tentative step forward, her feet sloshing through it and then-- without even having to walk across the bar, suddenly they're teleporting through the doors of the bar and out onto the back streets of Avangeline, lined with stone walls coated in sprawling vines. She wants to teleport even further away if possible, but the world doesn't let her do that anymore. Figures. That's just how it goes.

And then Lettie actually is seven years old, with a head of long, pretty white hair and clear blue eyes. She barely stands taller than Juno's knees. Shadowy humanoid figures with blurry faces and cameras swarm all around her, the 'pop-pop' of the flashes going off in her face. The lights slash left and right through across her vision like more of those golden claw marks. It takes everything in her not to lift her arms over her head to block them out. 'You need to save face.' There are questions, too. They're asking so many questions. 'Look. Titania Lycoris Radiata's bastard child.' They probably crone while they circle from afar like circling vultures, preparing to swoop in for the kill. 'Need to be perfect.'

"My, what a surprise! What would your mother say if she found out you were playing on this side of the city?"

'Go ask her yourself.' "My friend lives near here." Lettie gives a cheerful response and smiles pleasantly. There is plaintive fear behind it. "I'll be late if I don't go now, so..." Instinctively, she starts to hide herself behind Juno's legs. (For some reason she isn't sure exactly who she is standing next to right now. There shouldn't be anyone standing there. If nothing else, she just gets the sense she's the strongest and safest one there.)

"You're so cute! Almost doll-like. It's Olette, right? Ah, but we've heard Titania call you her little Lettie. Can I call you that?" (No.) One of the figures in the crowd is getting too close for comfort. Too close, too close, too close. Without thinking, Lettie reaches to clasp onto Juno's hand... but the figure is already pulling her into the heart of the crowd before she can. He puts his hands all over her wings to give the cameras something more to snap at. "Would you look at these! Genuine faerie wings."

'Don't cry, don't cry, don't cry.' Lettie reminds herself over and over as her smile trembles. Because if she cries, there is more for them to take pictures of. More for them to gossip about. They'll keep calling mommy a bad mom when she's been working so hard for them, and... a blimp displaying an older Lettie gambling and partying with skeletons sails across the sky and a hot stones of shame pitch towards her one after another. Oh no. Oh no. They'll gossip about that, too. She just knows it!

"Tis rude to touch a fair maiden's wings. Begone!" A mist appears in the street and a lanky boy walks through it, swishing out his black costume cape with an elegant flourish. The faerie isn't sure if she wants to laugh or cry more. Vampire wannabe extraordinaire to the rescue. She wants to stay until she can see his face, the first friendly face she'll have seen in a while, but-- "Run, Letts! I saw that stalker down the corner, you need to--"

Lettie doesn't need to be told twice. She wrenches herself free of the crowd without hesitation, grabs tightly onto Juno's hand (because she's strong, of course) and tugs her frantically along the streets.

The streets around them are starting to fade, to the point where they resemble watercolor paints bleeding together more so than an actual street. She tugs them into an alley, where the world turns black and white and the bricks on the buildings resemble shifting chalk marks. Gasping for breath, she hugs tightly onto the pirate's leg. "I want to punch them all in the face. But I have to be perfect." She gasps out, "Will you please punch them in the face for me? You look strong! Like... like you know how to punch guys in the face." (Of course she punches guys in the face. She's Juno!) Lettie blinks. The realization starts to dawn on her... just as an elongated claw curled around her waist like a hook and snatched her away (again), slamming her to one of the chalkboard walls.

"The relic. Where. Is. It?" Before she can react to even this, a sharpened claw stabs into her broken wing and stars explode behind her eyes. As if to taunt her, the creature tauntingly leaves her to hang there limply, pinned up only by her wing against the wall. "It's-- it's--" Lettie's breath hitches. She can't. Gravity causes the blade to tear a small hole before it finally yanks the claw out and she falls to the ground in a trembling heap. Lettie's cheeks are hot and she realizes that tears are spilling down her face. It's... it's just painful. That's it. And naturally this brings moisture to her eyes. No... no biggie.

"Juno." Their pursuer turns away from the faerie as if she isn't worth their time anymore, approaching the pirate instead. They taunt her in a low, sing-song voice. "Where is James? Why won't you tell us where James is?"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
Goddess. She's so fucking small. Yeah, admittedly, in Juno's mind the faerie does only reach up to knees but witnessing her actually only reach up to her knees? It pulls at something in the pirate. (Maybe because she'd been a shrimp too at some point?) She doesn't know if it has a name and she doesn't really know what it is, but it does make her want to punch those nosy bitches in the face. Maybe she'll break their hands for clearly making the girl uncomfortable––like, what the fuck!? She's a fucking child! 'Get your hands off her fucking wings.' Though some dweeb shows up before she even can cock her fist and then they're running. They're running and the world is changing again and while Juno does have some sense that this off, she doesn't have the time to place it. She couldn't even voice it if she wanted to, because that shadowy figure from before materializes again. Materializes and stabs the faerie's already broken wing (and that only reads as a cheap shot to the pirate), and demands the relic. (Now why does the relic sound familiar to the pirate? Who else has she heard ask about that?)

Again, because there is never any time to think anymore, her attention is yanked when the figure turns and addresses her. (She wishes they didn't. She very selfishly wishes they were still on the faerie's case. See, it's easier to be the knight in shining armor than the damsel in distress.) Juno swallows hard. She hates that this mysterious person knows about James. She doubly hates that presumably the faerie does, too. (Where are they? Why can Olette see this?) Her faces loses what little color it had to begin with as stones get stuck in her throat. As her heart is seized in a claw trap. "Sh-shut the fuck up!" She tries to get some of her bite back, but it's lacking. Her stutter gives that way. The person (entity? shadow?) takes another menacing step forward, moving slowly because apparently they have all the time in the world. (Since Juno's not moving, they might as well.) The pirate can't see it, but she can tell they're smirking.

"Oh, this must be getting good. Your big, big muscles are trembling. Your heart rate's spiked. Yet, there's no fight. Just flight, isn't that right, Juno?" The being splays out their hands, causing their claws to grow. They tap their cheek tauntingly. "The first hit's free, since we missed out on our last clash."

The words are meant to get under her skin. They're meant to get a rise out of her. It works and, to be honest, Juno is thankful, because at least she doesn't have to continue just standing there like a helpless little bitch. She launches at the entity and, while the punch lands, the being doesn't budge. In fact, Juno can feel her knuckles getting smashed against the being's unyielding form. "Oh, that was good. And I mean it, would you like to see?" But before the pirate can do anything, the being thrusts their fist into stomach and sends her flying backwards. "Apologies! Must've had some leftover charge."

Juno crash lands in a pile of bones. (Bones?) When she looks up there's a paintbrush hovering over her (okay?) dripping drops of paint all over the world, bringing it to life. Bringing Juno's world to life. Unlike the road they had been on before, now they're in a cavern below the earth. The only light that streams in comes from a hole at the top of the cavern. It sits directly over an altar made of human bones with odd markings (glyphs) etched onto the skulls. The altar itself sits at the top of a high pile of bones, all of them impaled. 'The Shrike's...' Before Juno can get up and appropriately freak the fuck out, a smaller version of herself is climbing up the pile of bones, completely unperturbed. Another scrappy looking kid follows after her. He's got wisps of curly auburn hair sticking to his sweat-drenched face, a dusting of freckles across his button nose, and rich brown eyes. He's taller than Juno, but not by much and he doesn't make up for it in muscle as he's twice as scrawny. He heaves uncomfortably as they climb. "Ugh, can't we rest, Juno? My chest hurts," he complains, his voice higher pitched than one might expect. "We still have hours before the twin moons arrive!"

"That's only a theory. Some say the shrike comes at any time she pleases! We have to be safe. I don't wanna miss this––this could be fucking huge for us. We're almost at the top anyway." She casually tosses a skull fragment backwards towards her friend, who grins, catches the piece and throws it back towards Juno, nailing her in the back of her head.

"Is there where it starts to get good?" the being whispers, suddenly standing right behind the real adult Juno and nipping at her ear. This causes the pirate to jump and, thankfully, once her concentration is broken the scene disappears in puffs of black smoke. ...Only to reveal the academy? The pirate doesn't mind this and it makes sense she'd be here, she supposes. She enlisted a month ago, so of course she's here. (The entity is gone, either left behind or hiding, but they're gone and all Juno can really remember of them is their mouth on her ear. Gross.) Olette is here as well, of course. They both enlisted around the same time. They're in those crisp (and dreary) gray uniforms all new recruits wear––gray slacks, gray collared shirt, gray boots. The only difference between uniforms are the stripes down the side of the pants, each a different color to indicate a new recruit's track. Juno's are white for bones. The faerie seems to have... rainbow colored ones?

They're in the barracks. It's hot. Sweat is dripping down Juno's back. It makes the bandage over her eye fucking insufferable, but she knows better than to move. Not when their commander, some hotshot third year recruit, is running his fourth inspection this week. 'Pompous fucking asshole.'

As if that hotshot third year recruit can hear Juno's thoughts, he materializes right in front of Juno and Olette. It's Clay. (Wait, why does Carpet sound better?) "Is there something you'd like to say to me, scarface?" Before Juno can answer, however, Clay (Carpet) catches a glimpse of the faerie and does a double take. His eyes narrow on her stripes and wings. "Is the academy a joke to you, Lycoris Radiata? Do we need to write to your mother again? Or should we send you to the pits?"
 

ellarose

wanderer
Lettie digs her nails into the ground where she fell, her breathing labored. Her broken wing is a mangled, twitchy thing drooped against her back, no matter how she positions it she can't seem to salve the pain shivering through it, moving like beads of rain rolling over a leaf in a downpour. Gold bursts behind her eyes again and again and nausea coils up tight in her. Fuck. She won't look at it. Looking at it will make the damage real. My beautiful wing... She almost catches herself worrying what the tabloids will say about the state of her wing. But then again, she's not a child anymore. (This is evident, as she had changed back to her actual size when she'd been stabbed.) Along with this, she's not in Avangeline anymore, either. That bastard. If Juju doesn't wipe the floor with them, they're going to answer to me. They just made it personal, damn it! That's when she notices a skull on the ground near her hands. Staring at her. Perplexedly, she squints at the glyph on it's head. Right. They're definitely not on the streets of Avangeline anymore. And whatever version of them they were running across before weren't right, either, for reasons she can't place. They're not supposed to be-- Steeling and rubbing the tears from her face, her gaze slowly pans up to see the mountain of bones in front of her. For some reason, this scene causes her gut to coil even tighter. Maybe it's the look on Juno's face. Maybe it's the sight of Juno, so small and so determined... just chatting with the one person she's never seen her scowling like a homicidal pirate at. So this is the Shrike's. And the boy... James?

This information clicks into place. Lettie understands it to be right. And yet everything about it feels viscerally wrong to her. Again, maybe it's just the expression on Juno's face. But...

Lettie loses track of what she's thinking about when the world itself melts around them again (the faerie feels like she's melting, too) because it seems like they've just been transported into the heart of an oven. (Maybe Mammy's finally cooking them?) She's sweating, uncomfortable-- super uncomfortable-- and her wing hurts like hell for reasons she can't quite place now. (She should know why, but she doesn't. The answer to this question sits just beyond her reach and taunts her. The annoyance this brings her is only escalated by the heat.) Right now, she's meant to focus on her work. Because she's in uniform, obviously. And then that man appears. They move his corpse around the ship all the time! He's alive now, though, and this doesn't strike the faerie as strange. He's obviously meant to be here right now.

"Uh huh. Let me ask you something, Carpet. Why are you so scared of girly aesthetics, hm? I'm not a fucking joke just because I wear colors. It's possible to be a badass in shades of pink if you're hardcore enough. I'm starting a revolution, here." Lettie proceeds to turn Carpet's uniform pink and snickers at the look of absolute horror that paints his face. She snaps her fingers and turns the academy into a mountain of vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles on top. The sky turns the color of rainbow sorbet, the clouds are cute marshmallow puffs. Abigail sits on one of them, wearing a pink uniform of her own and kicking her legs. A pegasus flies across the sky, pulling a chariot with a speaker playing club music inside. (Of course Lettie has the magic to do this, too. And damn, it certainly cools things down! Everyone really ought to thank her for this.) The other recruits are now running around in a frenzy as their gray uniforms turn pastel and the changes become increasingly more nonsensical, slipping and falling on their faces, covering their uniforms in sticky ice cream. Some of them transform into sheep. This is also normal.

"I'd like to see you try and write my mother, you piece of shit Carpet." Lettie throws her head back and laughs with faux bravado. Suddenly, this 'academy' (can it even be called that anymore, though?) changes into an entirely different academy. This one fits the image of what an academy is supposed to be better in the faerie's mind. They're in a classroom. Carpet now resembles a teacher whose face she remembers, but whose name she has entirely scrubbed from her memory. Lettie looks about sixteen now, her hair is pink but her make up and clothes are dark. It's a look that screams teenage angst, really, and that she's going through a phase. Because she's sixteen, this doesn't make her cringe.

"Miss Lycoris Radiata, I'm being quite serious. Changing your classmate's test answers for money... this is no laughing matter. I'll need to write your mother about this." The teacher threatens again, bringing a hand through his hair. "The integrity of our institution is at stake! Stars, that you've managed to hack our system at all is..." He stares at her outfit, then, with a look of plain disdain. "Don't tell me. Did you need the extra pocket money for new shoes or something? Because I can tell you now, this isn't the way to do it." Under his breath, he hisses something cross about faeries and their penchant for mischief.

"Bringing her mother into this... that's low. Seriously! What rock has he been living under?" A nasally voice says from behind them. Her classmates sit at their desks behind them. Their faces are all scribbled out with black crayon and replaced with white chalk drawings of faces that have pointed eyes and sharp, sharp teeth. For some reason, Juno looks like a teenager as well and is sitting on one of the desks as if she belongs there. Even so, her face is the only one that's still normal and uncovered in the sea of them.

"Her mother disappeared last month. It's been all over the news..." "So she just ran out on her? Poor Olette." "Pfft. I mean, have you met Olette? She must've been a handful." "Dude, I heard she might've been murdered." "Titania had a new boyfriend, right? What happened to him?" "I heard it was drugs." "Isn't it always drugs?" "No wonder she's so messed up."

Lettie ducks her head and holds her hands over her ears, but it does nothing to block out the voices. (...Why is Juno seeing this?)

"Less than a full fucking week of being stuck with you and I fucking hate you. I fucking wonder how your mom put up with your fucking shit."

Right. That's Juno's voice. An echo of those words she said before, on that volcanic world... replaying to taunt her. That immediately snaps the final thread that the faerie is hanging by. Lettie runs across the classroom and tackles the pirate (?) out of her desk, sending them both in a tumbling heap of kicks and punches to the floor. "Fuck you! You didn't see me dredging up your mommy issues after Mammy brought it up, did you!?"

Before Lettie can vent all of her pent up frustrations into this fist fight, Abigail and Inez pry them apart. They're in a new classroom now and the words 'detention' are written across the board. (It has a bastardized spelling, though, like 'detinshun'. Occasionally the letters scramble and create words like 'detain-shin' (with a drawing of a shin next to it), 'destitution', and 'desdemonia'.)

"Princess Lettie. Captain cupcake. Sit down this instant!" Marjorie reprimands them sternly. She is sitting behind the desk and dressed up like a teacher. (And still a banana, too. This is normal.) At her command, Lettie and Juno are tied to their desks with glowing ropes. "Yes, just like that. Very good!" Fuck! A stab of pain spears through Lettie's wing from the pressure, though she can't imagine why.

"You know, these magic ropes are pretty dope..." Inez the nectarine says. She plays the ba dum tss on her drums, despite there being no jokes to punctuate.

"Because they won't release you until you apologize to each other!" Abigail finishes in a sing-song voice. She sets a flower crown on Lettie's head (lopsidedly) and then a crown of bones on Juno's head (also lopsidedly). Then she waves. "Toodaloo! Have fun, you two!" With that, Inez and Abigail disappear. Marjorie stays behind her desk-- probably to play the mediator.

"This is so fucked up. What do I have to apologize for!?" Lettie huffs, stubbornly addressing Marjorie instead of the pirate. "She's the one who started it. She threw me in a dungeon and threatened to cut off my wings! Not to mention the bomb she threw at me, the death traps or the time she fed me bugs when--" The faerie coughs. Oh stars. It seems with every word she says against the pirate, the hellish magic ropes squeeze her tighter. Fuck, fuck, fuck! They're fucked!
 

starboob

lover / leaver
The scenery keeps changing faster than Juno can react to it, but this is how it's always been. (And, honestly, with how the cube tosses them across worlds like they're skipping stone, she cannot even be blamed for not holding onto the fact that something is off. In fact, it seems that with every shift, her grasp on what's going on slips through her fingers. Like the world doesn't want her to figure it out.) Yup, ever since the fucking faerie came into her life it's only been chaos and discord. Though she doesn't really mind the faerie's antics at present, and if she weren't so scared concerned about getting sent to the pits (again) she'd probably snicker at Carpet's expense. It's amusing to see him so flustered, but he shoulda known better than to tell the faerie anything about her stupid colorful get-up. Juno's already learned that lesson one too many fucking times.

When they fall into the seats of a classroom, that's kind of when Juno starts to questions things again. That weird sticky-sweet-cold stuff from earlier may have been odd to the pirate, who doesn't know what "ice cream" is, but somehow a classroom is less believable to her than the frozen fairy land. Probably because while the academy had been transformed into something the pirate is unfamiliar with, it was still the academy. Somehow. This, however, is not something she has ever seen. She doesn't know what a classroom looks like. (Academy courses certainly were not structured in the same fashion, given they were mainly meant to run drills over and over until they passed out from blood loss.) Perhaps that's why the pirate appears as the pirate and not as another uniformed school nerd. Her stormy eyes pan over the classroom, brows knit together, as she tries to figure this whole scene out. The other students... She can't place what's wrong with them but they feel off. The faerie, while she still looks like the faerie, also seems different. Then the rumors start whispering through the air and Juno gets the distinct sense she should not be hearing these things. That these things are private. That's apparent when Olette puts her head down on the desk and covers her ears. Juno thinks to do the same (well, just cover her ears) but then her own voice is playing with the rest and honestly? The pirate doesn't even remembering saying that shit, and even she can recognize it's fucked up given all these layers of context. Even the pirate can understand why the faerie would tackle her given that.

However, that doesn't mean she's just going to take the beating. Uhhh, fuck no! The faerie may land her fair share of hits––and even manages to deck her across the face––but the pirate is equally as fierce with her attempts to jab the faerie. (Surprisingly, she doesn't go for the wing. It'd be a cheap fucking shot and if she's going to take out the faerie, she wants to win fair and fucking square. Something about the sacred art of respecting someone you absolutely fucking hate.) "What the fuck do you even mean!? I didn't fucking know about your mommy issues until two fucking seconds ago when you put them on display for the whole fucking world to see!" Back when Juno had initially dealt the taunt, she had thought that the stupid furry elephant had been talking about her own issues––how the fuck was she supposed to know they both have mommy issues? Actually, scratch that––Juno doesn't have mommy issues because she's fucking Juno and she's above holding onto the past. Obviously.

Unfortunately, their fight is broken up way too fucking early (like they all are) and she finds herself in some sort of... well, it's another classroom and she really doesn't know what the weird chalkboard is trying to communicate to her. All she knows is that Marjorie of all bananas is in fucking charge. 'Oh, great.' The pirate preemptively rolls her eyes as they're tied to their desks and made to "apologize" to one another. As if Juno should have to apologize when Olette is the one who fucking started it! "Those were all normal fucking reactions to a prissy little bitch landing on my fucking ship and trying to kill me!" The ropes around Juno, like the faerie's, tighten, but the pirate isn't going to fucking stop there. Oh, no. She's on a fucking roll. "Maybe you should have fucking tried harder to fucking escape and then I wouldn't be in this fucking mess with the world's biggest disaster magnet!" After the pirate says the word 'magnet' the two chairs pull together. The pirate is about to say more, possibly risk her body being cut up by these fucking ropes, but Marjorie the banana interrupts and whacks them both on the head with a ruler.

"These are the sorriest apologies I have ever heard in all my years of teaching! Not even E––" Before she can finish her sentence, Marjorie starts to peel like all bananas do. Unlike all bananas, however, as she peels she bleeds (weird because banana skeletons don't have blood to bleed) and rather than the squishy off-white interior, James emerges. James with red eyes, those same red eyes as their pursuer had from earlier. (Earlier... Right, they hadn't been here earlier. They'd been elsewhere. Back at the Shrike's. That lavish room. On the streets. In a bar. Back at the candy shack of haunted horrors.)

"Juno," the red eyed James says, his voice sounding just as Juno remembers it. Her breath hitches and she starts to struggle against her restraints. The shadow wearing James's face smiles, "What happened to me?"

"Fuck you," Juno hisses, shutting her eyes tightly so she doesn't have to look at him in the face. Her breath is shaky and staggered, but she's markedly calmer than she had been in prior iterations of this taunt. Maybe because she's starting to figure this place out? (Other oddities start to stick out as she forces herself to remember where they've been––like her being able to shoot lasers from her eyes. The faerie exploding that horned horse with her mind. Marjorie being a fucking banana!) She sucks in a breath, then exhales. "The second I figure out how to break your fucking face, I'm going to break it into a million fucking pieces, you fucking bitch ass piece of shit motherfucker!" (And she's back!)

When she opens her eyes again, they're electric and charged. She focuses on the details that make this imitation of James false, such as those glowing red eyes. 'Not real. This isn't fucking real.' And because it isn't real? Juno uses the bone crown on her head to create endlessly multiplying skeletons (the idea comes to her when she recalls how the faerie had been buried under these fucks earlier). The skeletons all reach for the red eyed James, providing enough distraction that the pirate is able to stand up and then slam herself back onto the ground to smash the chair she's tied to. The pieces of the chair turn into mini-candy demons that join in on stacking on top of their pursuer. Still tied up, Juno struggles to get to her feet and when she does, she grabs the faerie's chair as best she can, and bolts. (What? Grabbing the faerie is natural. She has the cube. The cube that will surely get them out of this mess (and hopefully not send them into a worse one). Duh. Duh.)

She continues out into the hallway, turns a corner, then another, and another until she's satisfied the shadow entity isn't following them. She sets the faerie's chair down and looks at her long and hard, the gears clearly turning in her head. (It's unfortunate that her thinking look is awfully murderous, but, for once, murder is not on her mind. At least not where the faerie is concerned.) A light bulb (literally) appears over her head and she changes her posturing and expression to that of exasperation. "Ugh, quit fucking around and get up, princess. Or are you so fucking pathetic that you can't break through fucking clouds?" And, yup, whatever magic is running this place responds and turns those enchanted ropes into fluffy white clouds that they're able to easily brush away. Finally, at least one (1) thing is going in their favor. "Not sure about you, but we need to get the fuck out of here."

That desire doubles, triples, quadruples when the classroom door behind them opens to reveal the same scene from earlier. The one that takes place at the Shrike's. The one place Juno does not want to go back to and she especially doesn't want the fucking faerie there. "We need to get out of here now." She grabs the faerie's wrist and starts running again. Then the intercom crackles.

"Do you really think the Shrike will come? What if she's not real? What if she's just a story?" James asks, just as he had all those years ago.

"I dunno. I guess we just go back to Gran and call her on her bull? But so what? If we're gonna become the best necromancers ever, we can't pass up a chance to meet the Shrike."

"I think I'm good with just being an okay necromancer."

"Puss."


The audio devolves into the sound of a slap fight, giggles, and more taunts. Then it cuts out. Thankfully. Juno lets go of the faerie's wrist and presses the heels of the her hands into her eyes to stifle the hot tears that have filled them. She inhales sharply, trying to regain her composure as best she can. She repeats, "We need to get out of here."

Surprisingly, when Juno says that, the world melts and becomes that furry elephant's candy house again. Mammy sits at the chocolate table enjoying some beverage with four other animals––a bobcat, a wolf, a unicorn, and an octopus. The furry elephant smiles cheerily, "Ah, just in time for tea, children! Come, come––it is about high time we work out your issues."
 

ellarose

wanderer
If not for the tightening ropes, Lettie finds that she actually would've been content to continue arguing with the pirate for a while longer while she catches her breath. Maybe because the familiarity of those insults she's throwing her way are music to her ears compared to the gossip. (...Which is, of course, really saying something! Because she obviously doesn't think that the sound of Juno's voice is appealing or anything. No way! It's not like she slips sometimes at night, imagining what her voice is like when it softens, whispering in her ear while she's held in those buff arms-- and, ah, just because that fantasy sounds detailed doesn't mean it ever happened! And it doesn't mean she's imagining it right now, either. Geez. If her hands weren't tied, she might just slap herself. Or maybe punch the pirate. She hasn't decided yet.) Either way, that... that stuff is personal, damn it! Not for Juno's ears. But evidently this moment isn't meant to last. (Most aren't, for reasons the faerie can't place. Oh well. Hasn't life always been this way?) The banana peels and instead of Marjorie, she finds herself looking at someone who looks similar to that James kid from before. Only now his eyes are red. Huh... can he use glamours, too? Because if he is, he's going for an obviously creepy look. It isn't even subtle. She's not sure if this is what unsettles Juno, or if it's the fact that it is James... the one person whose name seems to strike fear in her. Just like the talk from before is personal for her, the faerie knows by now that this piece is personal for the pirate. She stares at the floor and silently wishes her hands could be free now so that she might cover her ears up.

Rather than listening to endless taunts, though, Juno starts yelling threats? Lettie perks up with surprise, watching her with awe as she confronts the very thing that's been making her look sick with horror all this time. (There is a certain appeal to the roughness of her voice, she guesses, when it's not throwing those contrived insults at her...) The faerie feels the strange temptation to smile because the pirate is acting like herself again and instantly whacks it down with a metaphorical nail bat. What the fuck!? Thankfully there is no time to question this lapse of judgement when Juno carries her (chair and all) out of the classroom. "Wha--!?" Breaking out of detention might've been a hell of a lot more fun if not for the fact that she is still tied up like a hostage of fate. The adjustment presses a bit more pressure on her wing on the back of the chair and she hisses through her teeth. Any energy she could've used to say something creative is spent actively fighting not to cry like a fucking baby. It hurts.

"Are you fucking serious? I'm--" Lettie rasps, keeping her head low to conceal her face as the pirate sets her chair down and tells her to get up. Hello? The ropes! She can't just-- but then the pirate says something about clouds and the ropes turn into clouds. Her breathing eases a bit when she's released and she watches the clouds swish away. "Oh." Well. That's convenient. She sits there a moment longer, though, as the word 'pathetic' brushes against something tender and, well, pathetic in her. The world is going out of its way to make her feel that way lately. It's obviously not just Juno. It's the judgment from her mother, the gossip, even Carpet insinuating that she's nothing more than a joke. If no one expects anything from her then she doesn't have to deliver. That's been her philosophy for a while now, sure. But it's really starting to tank her sense of-- oh. Juno is saying something about getting the fuck out of there. (Juno, who gets to look strong when she yells at her inner demons and rescues her from detention. In comparison, the little broken faerie she must look like really is pathetic.)

"Yeah. Okay." Lettie agrees with the pirate (for fucking once) and brings herself to her feet. She follows when the pirate pulls her through the hallways. (Her legs are shorter, so it takes extra effort just to keep up. If she could fly, she would be faster. But her wings are...) There are voices playing over the speakers, voices she knows by now belong to Juno and James. Rather than focus on the words they're saying, though, she focuses on keeping up. Her breath and heart are heavy enough in her ears that the meaning of the words don't register with her. (The sound of the childlike laughter, though? That tugs at something in her and hard. Even the mean, homicidal pirate was just a little kid once. Even she smiled at someone once.) When they stop, Juno is pressing her hands over her eyes. Lettie hangs her head so she doesn't have to watch this, focusing on catching her own breath. Sweat is rolling down her forehead. Shit. For the record, she's not out of shape, all right? Her diet's been reduced to mostly berries recently and she's been running around like this all day. (Nah, more like running around for the past month or so. How many days has it been, now? It makes her sicker with stress just keeping track.) And there's... something about the throbbing in her wing that's making her borderline feverish.

Lettie reaches behind her to brush her fingers lightly against it. She brings her hand in front of her again and finds blood on her fingertips. Her stomach twists. That's right. That creature.

There's no time to worry about that, though, when Mammy reappears and suggests they work out their issues with those animal impersonations of their mothers. Juno has three of them and she's only just now realizing this. For a second this does strike her as odd... but the concept of facing that unicorn again makes the twisting in her stomach even sharper. Wouldn't it be nice if the house spontaneously combusted? For some reason, Mammy's house overlaps perfectly with this comparison in her mind and as a result... Mammy's house does exactly what her mind tells it to do and bursts into flames. Experimentally, she grows it larger with her thoughts, building it nice and strong with her pent up frustrations.

This heat gradually starts to melt all of the snow around them and reveals polished floors hiding underneath. It's a sleek black marble with white speckles that resemble the stars embedded in it. The walls of an apartment complex build themselves up around them. It's immaculate with the exception of the bottles littering every conceivable surface. (The amount is exaggerated, she's vaguely aware. It's undoubtedly more than she and Juno drank the night before combined. But to her child self, the outlandish number seems... appropriate.) Lettie stands smaller than Juno's knees again and approaches the sofa where her mother is holding her head in her hands.

"I'm sorry, Lettie. I had no other choice." Her mother's voice slurs. "They're coming for you tonight... they're coming..."

"...Who is?" Lettie's voice sounds as small as she is. She shakes her mother's shoulder insistently when she doesn't answer. When her mother turns over in her hands, instead of seeing the face she (remembers) her beautiful (unicorn) face is rotting away and getting eaten up by flies. Along with her face, every polished surface in the room appears to shrivel and rot as well, gradually receiving a coating a coat of dust and grime. Static and the sound of a muffled struggle and screams echo overhead, threatening shadows dance across the walls like fiends. There's a pounding at the door, so hard that it shakes. Lettie's wrist glows gold for a split second, it's noticeable in the dark, and she quickly snaps her hand over it. (But that's not supposed to be there yet...) Her 'mother' proceeds to turn into that creature from before and pins her to the ground. The faerie is still small. She hasn't grown back to her normal size yet. This doesn't seem to phase their pursuer in the slightest, though. No matter how young she looks, the thing is bloodthirsty. Willing to strike when she's at her weakest.

"You're in deep shit, aren't you Olette? Are you ever really going to dig yourself out of the hole you're in?" They taunt with a cruel laugh. Lettie's eyes swim with a mix of tears and the creature's monstrous reflection. Pathetic. She feels... pathetic. Powerless. Just like a little kid. As if her mindset reflects who she is, she becomes a bit smaller if possible. "It'd be so easy to swallow you whole, little faerie. Unfortunately, I can't give you a quick, merciful death until you tell me where the relic is. I know you have it." Then it pierces her wing. Again. "If you want it to stop, all you have to do is tell me where it is. That's all."

"...Stay where you are, captain. Why don't you play with your good friend James while you wait?" Their pursuer smirks and waves one of its many claws, the motion summoning up a whole army of James copies to block Juno's path to them. They're everywhere-- to the point where it's impossible to look anywhere without seeing his face. Some of the copies have mini bobcats and octopuses attached to their shoulders that hiss and snarl as well, adding their questions to a rising storm of them.

"Did the Shrike ever show, Juno? I want to know the rest of the story!" "My face has been broken into a million different pieces, Juno. What are you gonna do about it now?" "What happened to me, Juno?" "What happened to me?"
 

starboob

lover / leaver
At least. At least the wolf is there. That's the one figure that keeps Juno sane and grounded and she focuses on the she-wolf rather than the bobcat, who looks as though she wants to eat the pirate's face, or the octopus, who looks incredibly smug. Despite the tightness in her chest, she focuses on her breathing. In. Out. In. Out. Once she has a better handle on her heart rate, she works to drop the tension from between her shoulders. Again, this entire time she stares at the wolf and the wolf stares back at her, something like pride glinting in her eyes. (Or maybe that is just a trick of the light. Maybe it's only Juno's hope that Eliza would be proud of her. None of this is real, of course, so it probably is just her own projections, she admits, deflated.)

Before Juno can do anything to stop them from having to have tea with the women who have undoubtedly done the most damage in their lives (the wolf excluded), the entire house bursts into flames––much as it had originally. Because this place should be frosted over ash. Right. She doesn't know how it happened, and she doesn't think to question it. Not when they're in some spick and span dwelling. Well, save for the bottles. The pirate, still a pirate, bends to pick up one of the bottles to read the label, maybe get a clue for what is going on. Though she finds that she can't read the label at all. The letters are all scrambled together and while that's a hint ruined, the noxious smell coming from the inside is enough for her to know exactly what kind of scene she's stepping into, because this obviously isn't one of her treasured and cherished memories. Lo and behold, there the faerie is, standing as short as ever. Juno sees the figure on the couch and then turns away, pans her gaze to the ceiling, the marble tiles, the bottles, anywhere except for the private moment between the faerie and her... mother? Juno figures that's who she must be. And while she doesn't want to invade on a private moment, doesn't want to know more about Olette than she has to, she does catch what this mom-person says. She won't make any guesses or leaps about what the woman is referring to, because it's not her fucking business. 'I'm going to punch the shit out of whoever designed this horror show.'

The pirate's attention is pulled when a new, familiar voice starts speaking. Her gaze sweeps from the observing ceiling over to the faerie being pinned down by the entity. Her stomach lurches as she watches the tiny faerie's wing get impaled (again)––just, what the fuck!? Yeah, Juno knows the faerie isn't actually that young anymore but you just don't fuck with kids! (You also don't fuck with a faerie's wings, some other part of her supplies, but she largely ignores that voice for the time being.) Like a bull seeing red, she's ready to charge––even if she knows charging hasn't exactly worked in the past. It's her first impulse (always is) and she even summons bone spikes that rip through her knuckles. (No, the pirate has never been able to do that because that would hurt like a motherfucker, but here? Here anything goes and this doesn't hurt her at all.)

Then... Then the entity continues their series of low fucking blows and summons an entire room full of James. 'This isn't real,' is her first thought. Her second is, 'Does that fucking matter? You deserve the shit he'd give to you.' Not that James would give her shit for what happened. He wasn't like that, Juno knows this. She knows this, but how can she not feel like she deserves it with how things ended when the Shrike arrived? All at once, the pirate feels thirteen again; thirteen and trembling, unable to control her breathing or stop her heart from trying to strangle itself. It's like her nerves are attacking her. She wraps her stick-like arms around herself and sits down on the ground with her head between her knees. 'Go away, go away, go away,' she repeats, hoping it will all go away. Hoping maybe that she will go away. (Eliza wouldn't be proud of her for wimping out like this, but at this age she doesn't know Eliza yet.)

Her entire body tenses while the crowd of Jameses circles around her. They link hands and start skipping around her, singing, "It's Juno's fault! We all know what happened!" The miniature bobcats and octopi hop from their shoulders and start piling on top of Juno until she can barely breathe. "I knew you would just drag the rest of us down had I kept you," a bobcat hisses. "All you did when you arrived was talk about your precious bones and did I not warn you what would happen?" an octopus asks. In fact, one of the octopi creeps off of Juno's back and swells to the size of a giant octopus. It thrashes its tentacles around the room, reducing the many Jameses to puffs of smoke; it wipes out all of the miniature bobcats and octopi as well, turning them into colorful candy pieces (non-sentient, for once). The octopus then wraps its tentacles around Juno (why does Juno already know what this feels like?) and forces her to look at it in its milky white eyes. "What did I tell you, Juno? What did you see when you looked into my eyes?" The milkiness starts to swirl as Juno is forced to stare into Gran's eyes and in those eyes, a sea of chaos and misery reflects itself, Juno standing in the middle of it all. "You're cursed and you've always known it!" she laughs, in this comical evil witch sort of way. It fills the room and breaks down the lavish walls in favor to let dark winds wrap around them.

Juno, still small and thirteen, struggles against the octopus's grip. She does try to ignore what Gran is saying, but it's hard when it's so true. She saw that fate outlined for her when the woman let her look into her eyes on the first morning of her eleventh year. All she touches crumbles to ash, because the goddess fucking hates her. (So what, though? It's not like knowing this has ever stopped Juno or her ambitions. She still went to find the Shrike, and while it ended fucking horrendously, she never fucking gave up. She never fucking gives up. So why is she now? Why is she feeling so fucking sorry for herself when she hasn't really felt that way in ages?) 'This isn't real,' she tries to remind herself again––the pain is, it never died or shrank, she just grew up and she has to remind herself that she grew up. She's not this small anymore. She's not, she's not––

Meanwhile, the entity stares back at Olette with its glowing red eyes and cheshire smile, showing rows and rows of sharp teeth. "Would you like to do this the easy way? Or the fun way?" Its dark claw shimmers and seems to blend with the dark winds circling them. A drop of the faerie's blood falls onto her forehead and it tries to wipe it away, but ends up making a cut across her forehead. Then it brings its claw to its mouth and licks the blood clean off with a satisfying pop at the end. "Faerie blood has never been my favorite, but yours may become an exception, little Olette. At least you can finally be good for something for once in your miserable life. Titania should have named you Onus." Its claw presses threateningly against her already damaged wing. "I can tear this clean off, you know? Would you like that? Then I'll go for the other so you aren't lopsided, as I think myself quite kind and considerate. However, all of that can be avoided if you just give. me. the. relic."
 

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