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Old February 12th, 2008, 10:49 PM
JX Valentine's Avatar
JX Valentine
Your aquatic overlord
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: Harassing Bill
Age: 26
Gender: Female
Nature: Bold
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Apologies for how long this chapter took to get out.


Act Nine: Anti-Hero

Sometime in the afternoon, the door to Viola's apartment opened. She walked inside, her feet shuffling against the hardwood floor. Her motions were slow and uncertain when she took off her shoes and straightened, as if she was afraid of making a sound. As she turned towards the hall, she nearly ran into the dark purple specter that was her closest companion. She inhaled a sharp gasp while Haunter floated around her head with a warm expression on his face. A smile crossed her own face as she reached up to touch the ghost, and he floated in front of her with his eyes happily closed to receive her touch.

"Where did you head off to, Haunter?" she asked. "You didn't follow me, and it would've been nice if you were there too."

He crooned and rubbed against her affectionately. Her warm smile lingered on her face for a few moments before she let her hand rest on the top of his head. Opening his eyes slowly, Haunter peered into Viola's face as her smile faded slightly. She closed her own eyes and tried to pass around her companion. Regarding her with a sympathetic glance, he floated behind her and pushed his disconnected hands forward to rest on her shoulders. She, meanwhile, merely touched one of his hands as she passed the den on the way to her bedroom. However, she no sooner passed the den as she attracted the attention of its sole occupant.

"Viola."

Immediately, she froze. Behind her, she heard the sound of feet thumping against the wooden floor. Sebastian appeared in the doorway, his dark eyes fixed on Viola's back. With a frown straight ahead, she started walking towards her room again without so much as a syllable uttered towards her roommate. Not wanting to forgo another opportunity, Sebastian pushed himself forward and reached to grab Viola's wrist, much to the annoyance of the ghost, whose body floated towards the side to make room for him. Viola gasped slightly and turned her head towards Sebastian to cast a cold glance his way.

"Listen," he said. "Please, just five minutes."

She hesitated for the first few seconds, the corners of her mouth pulling down again a bit more. However, reluctantly, she nodded slowly. Sebastian exhaled out of relief.

"Right," he said as he looked at his feet. "I know I was crossing the line a few nights ago, and for that, I apologize. I shouldn't have said that. I acknowledge that I was wrong."

Viola turned her head back towards her front but focused her glance on her feet. Noticing her silence, Sebastian lifted his head towards her with a small frown.

"I know I seem harsh towards you, but it's only because I know how dangerous being a Knight can be."

"So, are you acting this way because you think I can't handle it?" she asked softly.

Sebastian straightened and shook his head. "No! Of course not! I mean… Viola, even for the most street-smart player, dying is more likely than winning the Game. It scares me that you would ever think about taking the risk."

Viola scoffed. "But you would?"

Lowering his head, Sebastian muttered, "That's different."

"How can that be different?" Viola half-turned to look at him. "What makes you think you can win if you know that you're more likely to die?"

"It's better me than you!" Sebastian said as he looked away.

Viola shook her head and narrowed her eyes. "Why? Do you really put such little value in your life, or are you patronizing me?"

"You don't understand, Viola." Sebastian tried to stare into her eyes. "I'm doing this for a reason."

Another scoff heaved from Viola's lungs. "Is that so? What are your reasons, Sebastian?"

"You!"

Silence descended in the hallway. Haunter floated between the two humans, glancing from his master to her companion. Viola's eyes fixed on Sebastian with a blank stare, while Sebastian's cheeks took on a slightly pink hue.

"That came out wrong," he said as he rubbed his forehead. "What I mean to say is that… Do you remember how we met?"

Viola nodded. "Of course."

Sebastian removed the hand from his forehead to motion towards her. "I…" He took a deep breath. "I want to pay you back for what you did."

Raising an eyebrow, Viola stared at Sebastian for awhile. Minutes passed, and a sinking feeling began to develop in Sebastian's chest. He closed his eyes, fully expecting her to kick him out in the next instant. However, she merely cracked a smile and chuckled.

"Sei un'idiota," she said.

Sebastian opened his eyes and gave her a strange glance. He literally wasn't fluent in her language, but he had a feeling this reaction was a good thing.

"Why," Viola continued, "would you do something so stupid for me?"

A blush crept across Sebastian's cheeks. "The Midsummer Treasure, Viola. Everyone knows about it. They say with it, you can have your wildest dreams. I'll use it to make us both rich so you don't have to worry about a thing anymore as a proper thanks." He motioned wildly behind him. "You can leave the Wisteria District and live someplace nicer. Think about it!"

Again, Viola shook her head. "I don't want that. I'm happy here."

Sebastian hesitated, the curious glance settling on Viola's face. "Then why are you in the Game?"

After a beat of thought, Viola shrugged. "I don't know." Without further explanation, she turned on her heel and began walking towards the shop. "I'm headed to my workshop. You want to come down with me?"

With a frown, Sebastian fell into step behind her. "Hey! You didn't answer my question!"

Again, Viola shrugged. "I really never thought about it. I don't really care about the Treasure, and you know me, Sebastian. I guess I just wanted a reason to get out of the house."

The response made Sebastian stop in his tracks. He stared at Viola's back for a long while as he puzzled over her reasoning, but he made no effort to ask her to elaborate.

---

"You! Get back here!"

Toby's feet pounded on the pavement. Next to him, a large, blue turtle pointed a pair of cannons on its back at the fleeing figure who pushed through the crowds. Upon sight of the blastoise, several bystanders screamed and attempted to dodge as water bubbled from the edges of the silver cannons. A roar ripped through the commotion of the street in the Tulip District as water blasted in jets from the turtle to gouge a trench in the cement. The target leapt out of the way at the last moment, the jets doing no more damage more than clipping part of the dark trousers the figure wore. The rest of the body went sprawling.

The corners of Toby's mouth drooped to form a sharp curve downward. His hand rose to beckon Blastoise forward, and with that, the turtle lumbered behind him. Bystanders kept out of the way, each one whispering in terror as they tried to define the parties as Montague or Capulet or fumbling for cell phones. For that reason, Toby hit no resistance in his journey forward until he loomed over the fallen, dark-haired figure he knew to be Knight Illusion. The frown slowly turned into a grin, and he reached forward to grab the collar of the downed Knight.

Suddenly, his Master beeped before he could lay a finger on his victim. With a quick movement, his other hand plunged into his pocket and pulled from it the slender PDA. His eyes narrowed as he read the words on its face, the order to retrieve an item across town. A snort heaved from his nostrils as he pushed the Master back into his pocket. As soon as he turned his eyes back to his quarry to finish what he started, however, he stopped. There, right beneath his hand, was empty air. His mouth opened slightly as he gaped at the disappearance of the figure for a moment before he lifted his head towards the sky. A great bellow ripped from his throat, rippling across the chatter of the street like waves traveling over water. It even echoed off the brick walls of the city before dying away without a response.

The turtle by his side grunted, lowering herself to all fours as her reptilian nostrils flared at something on the ground. Toby tore his eyes away from the sky to glance at what the blastoise was trying to show him. There, where his quarry had been, lay a small, white rectangle. Stooping slightly, he picked up the card and turned it over, examining it carefully. On its face, printed in the shining black of new ink, were the words "Allegro Dolls," followed by an address.

A huff heaved from Toby's lungs as he pocketed the card. Already, he was forming plans for that night.

---

Viola's hand reached towards the lamp near her head, the one that shone a spotlight on the metal-and-plush creature she was carefully shaping. It, so far, looked much like what a mouse would look like, should the mouse have lacked most of its skin (save for the purple swath that formed its ears, tail, and back) and possessed a metal skeleton and a little, black box for a heart. Her pale fingers stroked its back gently as she stared at its still formless face.

In her distraction, she failed to notice Sebastian leaning over the parapet separating the workshop from the shop floor. For a long time, he had been silent, watching her work as his thoughts wandered. Inevitably, they would meander back to the idea of the Trio, lurking somewhere nearby. By then, he knew that two of them had challenged Viola and failed, and it was, according to his calculations, only a matter of time before the third struck. As he closed his eyes during the last few minutes before Viola stopped, a silent vow had passed through his mind.

Now, when Viola put down her tools, he opened his eyes slowly, the clicking sound of a metal screwdriver on a metal countertop pulling him back to reality. Presently, he watched Viola stroke her latest creation, and in that moment, he forced himself to smile.

"Hey," he said. "That rattata looks good so far."

Viola raised her eyebrow and looked over her shoulder. "You never watch me work."

He shrugged. "I thought it would help if I learned how the magic is made."

Immediately, Viola's eyebrows went up. "Why?"

"In case a customer asks, of course." He reached over the wall and unlocked the gate. "Will you be coming up soon? I'll make us some dinner."

With a huff, Viola put her tools and the unfinished doll in the cupboard just above her workspace. "You're definitely not Sebastian Cross. Who are you, and where are you keeping him hostage?"

Sebastian shook his head. "I can't do anything nice for you?"

"You could, but I'd expect this sort of treatment if I was on my deathbed."

Viola took off her heavy apron and lay it on the counter. At that, she turned and walked across her workshop to push open the gate. Sebastian stepped aside and offered her a half grin.

"Come on," he said. "I thought you said you forgave me for how I treated you."

"No, I didn't," Viola replied with a shrug. "I just said you didn't have to risk your neck for me."

Sebastian frowned. "So, you don't forgive me?"

"I never said that either."

"Wait." He held up a hand. "I don't understand."

Viola flashed him a sympathetic smile. "Forgive you? For acting like a jerk to Romeo, I do, and for thinking that I can't handle being a Knight. But for acting like a jerk because you're looking out for me?" She shrugged again. "I just know you well enough to know that you're just like that. I can't forgive you if it's something you can't help."

An embarrassed blush colored Sebastian's cheeks. "Does that bother you? Do you want me to stop?"

At both questions, Viola sighed. "Sometimes, I think you are being overprotective for no reason, but… no. I don't want you to change. I just want you to realize that I'm not a little girl."

Sebastian straightened. His mouth opened slightly, and the blush on his cheeks reddened. One of his hands rose, inching towards Viola's shoulder as he tilted his head.

"Viola, I…"

He hesitated, his mind grasping for the right words to say. The thoughts of another apology crossed his mind, some sort of reassurance that he was aware of what Viola was.

Before he could rest his fingers on the words, however, the window came in. A cry ripped from Viola's throat, and Sebastian could feel himself pulling her over the parapet and onto the linoleum floor. Pain jolted through his shoulder as he felt something cold – what he originally thought was glass – rain down upon him. Panting, he wiped the water away from his cheek as he stared at Viola's black hair. His hand reached for it, resting on the back of her head as she moved to gaze into his eyes.

"Are you okay?" he asked.

Viola nodded and tried to sit up. "Yeah. Just surprised."

Sebastian grabbed her elbow as he sat up to keep her down. Blinking at him, Viola followed him as he moved to push his back against the parapet. With his free hand, he brought his finger to his lips in a signal to keep silent. She nodded again as she rested her own back against the wall and stared at the ceiling. For a long time, there was nothing but silence, but then, the quiet was broken by the sound of boots on shattered glass. Almost by instinct, Viola pressed herself a little more against the parapet while Sebastian's hand inched into his pocket in search of protection. Viola followed suit, praying that Haunter would come down before she summoned another pokémon.

From the other side of the parapet, a rough voice rose. "Hello? I'm here for Knight Illusion!"

Viola froze, her blood turning cold and heavy, like lead. Sebastian sent a sideways glance at her as he attempted to analyze her expression. Her hand wandered towards his wrist, circling it in search of support. His lips drew into a straight line, and he nodded. Pulling away from her, Sebastian slowly stood, his hands in his pocket and ready to draw.

Beyond the parapet was Toby, who turned away from a pile of wet dolls to face Sebastian.

"I'm Knight Tide," he announced. "Identify yourself and your motive."

Toby eyed his fellow Knight carefully. "Knight Azure, here for Knight Illusion."

Sebastian frowned. "Why? What did she do to offend you?"

"She," Toby said with a beat of uncertainty, "fought my friend a few nights ago and took his Key. I'm here to get it back."

At that, Sebastian narrowed his eyes. "I don't know if this is true, but if it is, then there's nothing you can do about it. You know as well as I do that if the battle was fought fairly and if Keys were wagered, then the Key is lost unless the winning Knight had cheated. It's clearly stated in the rulebook."

Toby sneered. "I know that. This is revenge."

"Is that so?" Sebastian pulled a ball from his pocket and clicked the button to enlarge it in his hand. "Then, I'm afraid you must fight me before you may fight Knight Illusion."

"What does this have to do with you?" Toby snapped. "I'm only here for Knight Illusion! Stay out of this, boy!"

Sebastian walked towards the door. "You break into my home, damage part of my livelihood, and threaten my friend. I have everything to do with this." He turned to face Toby while, with his free hand, he reached into his other pocket to pull out his Master. "To defend my honor and the honor of Knight Illusion, I, Knight Tide, challenge Knight Azure to a duel, wagering my Key against his."

Immediately, the Master in his hand beeped as it recorded his words. Seconds later, the one in Toby's pocket activated, and with a grumble, he pulled his own Master into the open and examined the command on its face.

Knight Tide: Duel with Knight Tide. Award for completion: 500 points, promotion to the next rank, and the enemy Midsummer Key. Penalty for denial: 500 points.

Turning on his heel, Sebastian walked towards the door. "We battle outside. I don't need you destroying more of my home."

Grudgingly, Toby thrust his Master in his pocket and followed. As soon as his back was turned, Viola peeked over the parapet, blinking in curiosity but knowing full well that it would be a bad idea to reveal herself at that particular moment.

Outside, the night air blew cool between the buildings. There were a few people milling past, but most people possessed enough sense to stay off the streets. While night in Verona City was no more violent than day in certain districts, it was the fear of the shadows between each building that kept people indoors, where the monsters in the darkness couldn't reach them.

Knights, however, eventually grew used to sharing the world with those monsters – sometimes, even being those monsters. Sebastian felt the night by that point – the cold, the shadows, the street itself. The only thing that he feared the most was the thought of losing the duel and surrendering his chances to accomplish the one goal he wanted most at that point. As he eyed his opponent, he took his position several yards away with a deep breath. He forced his mind to clear as he watched Toby beckon something in the shadows to come forward. Narrowing his eyes, Sebastian was careful not to react as he watched the thing beside the shop lumber forward, a literal monster pulling away from the darkness. It took awhile for Sebastian to make out the hulking figure of the blastoise, her eyes glinting in the meager light from the street lamps as her throat vibrated in a growl.

Sebastian grinned. "Blastoise? Fine. In that case, I'll choose Lapras!"

Flicking the poké ball outward, Sebastian watched as the ball cracked open and released a flash of white light. In seconds, the light morphed and twisted to form a finned creature with a spiked shell on her back. Lapras straightened her long, graceful neck to cast her gray eyes towards her opponent as she let loose a melodic cry.

"Water against water." Toby grinned. "Well, at least you'll go out on an interesting note. Blastoise, Rapid Spin!"

At once, Blastoise dropped to her smooth front. Her head, cannons, and forelegs tucked into her body while her back legs pushed hard on the pavement. The sharp shove sent Blastoise in a quick whirl towards her opponent, who had no time to dodge. Before Sebastian could give her a command, Lapras found herself being pushed backwards as pain laced through her front just after Blastoise collided with her. A startled cry ripped from Lapras' throat while the proud turtle drew her head and limbs from her shell and grinned smugly at her opponent.

The corners of Sebastian's mouth pulled downward in a sharp frown. "Lapras, recover and fight back with Body Slam!"

Shaking off the pain of the strike, Lapras glared at her opponent. Her flippers shoved her forward, launching her in a strange half-shuffle, half-hop towards the turtle. The blastoise grunted in mocking laughter at the sight of the awkward aquatic beast ambling towards him. It was clear to her that the creature was far more suited for a battle on water, rather than one on pavement and earth, and for that, the turtle let herself linger in one spot for far too long. However, when Lapras dragged herself a mere few feet from her target, her flippers pushed her off the ground with surprising force. The elegant creature flew through the air with a cry, throwing her entire body weight onto the turtle before she could recognize that the lapras was a threat. Blastoise's legs spread out from under her, and she shifted, attempting to block the attack with her hard shell. For that reason, although she felt the shock of the entire weight of the lapras come down on her, the shell took most of the attack.

What was worse, though, was that Lapras remained on Blastoise's back. The turtle pushed her limbs underneath her shell to try to force herself onto her hindquarters, but the weight of the pokémon on her back kept her pinned to the ground.

Toby balled his hands into fists. "Come on, Blastoise! Pull out of it with Rapid Spin!"

With a nod, Blastoise drew her head and forelimbs into her hard shell. Then, repeating her motions from moments ago, she used her back legs to propel her into a spin. At first, she moved slowly, her shell grinding against the rough pavement as she leaned towards the lapras' front. Lapras tried to keep her position on top of the turtle, but eventually, the turtle shot from beneath her and sent herself spinning like a top towards the shop.

Sensing where the blastoise was headed, Sebastian's eyes widened. "Lapras, stop her! Use Hydro Pump on the edge of her shell to send her spinning out of the way!"

As soon as she received her orders, Lapras lifted her head and crooned. She inhaled a deep breath, pointing her snout towards the edge of the brown blur headed towards the shop. Opening her mouth, a jet of water rushed forth, raging towards her target. However, at the last second, the blur moved, swerving in a curved path back towards the lapras and away from the stream of water. Lapras cut off her attack in her surprise – but not before gouging a deep trench in the sidewalk just outside of the shop. Meanwhile, Blastoise spun back towards her like a tornado, and before Lapras could realize that her target was close, the turtle slammed into her again and sent her skidding back. She winced and whimpered, feeling the burn of her scraped flippers. Her fore limbs flopped, revealing their rose-red undersides before they rested in front of her.

"That's it, Blastoise!" Toby called. "Keep using Rapid Spin! She can't hit you if you're too fast for her!"

Although Blastoise gave no confirmation, she seemed to hear the order. For that, she continued to spin around Lapras like a wild planet in orbit. Lapras yelped helplessly as she swiveled her graceful neck in order to keep track of the turtle. Unfortunately, no matter how hard she tried, the turtle slipped out of her line of sight frequently, and it was during those moments when her head was turned away that Blastoise darted forward to strike. Already, welts were beginning to develop on her body where Blastoise whipped her.

Sebastian bit his lips. He realized that Lapras lacked any formidable speed on land – at least, the sort of speed that could match Blastoise's. Casting his eyes around the battlefield, he tried to think of a way to stop the turtle… or at least slow it down. Eventually, his eyes fell on one of the lampposts that lined the street, and there, his glance lingered. After a few moments, his gaze trailed back to his lapras as an idea wormed its way into his mind.

"Lapras, Ice Beam the road. Coat as much as you can with ice!"

Raising her head again, Lapras flinched at Blastoise's latest strike. Taking another deep breath, she channeled the energy of her body into her mouth. A cold ball of pale, blue light began to develop above her throat, and the light shined through her cold lips. Her mouth eventually opened to reveal the glow just seconds before, with a crack, a jagged bolt shot from the heart of the ball to the pavement. The frigid energy cut through the air, freezing the water droplets around it as it went. Snow settled on the pavement around the beam's striking point. As the beam passed over the pavement, a slick, black coat of ice developed over the surface. Lapras turned, maintaining the beam to draw a circle of ice around her that slowly grew in all directions.

Not long afterwards, Blastoise hit one of the patches of ice as she went in to strike Lapras. She wobbled in her revolutions, the slick surface throwing her off. Unable to stop, she skidded into Lapras, who cried out at the sudden blow. Unfortunately, immediately, Blastoise ricocheted off Lapras and spun away from her, towards her owner. Toby gasped, watching his turtle roll rapidly towards him as she tried and failed to stop on the layer of ice. Her master knew that if he failed to move, he would be crushed by her attack, yet he, for some reason, found himself rooted to the spot.

Suddenly, a dark ball of energy shot from the side and struck the side of Blastoise's shell with a crack. The strike landed with enough force to change the course of the water-type, sending her spinning into a lamppost across the street, causing the light to bend over her like a flower with its stem bent in half. Upon the collision, Blastoise finally stopped, sticking her head and limbs out of her shell in a daze.

Gaping at his downed blastoise, Toby took a step to the side before turning to face the source of the strike. He found himself staring at a purple ghost floating in front of a familiar young figure.

"Are you okay?" Viola asked.

Slowly, Toby nodded. He opened his mouth, but he found he couldn't speak.

Sebastian sent a wary glance towards Viola. "You really shouldn't have done that."

Viola frowned. "I thought I had to. He could have been hurt."

Toby straightened. "You… you saved my life."

With a shrug, Viola repeated, "I thought I had to."

Toby stepped towards her, the look of surprise being replaced by one of confusion. A realization inched into his skull, but he found himself unable to speak about it. Viola backed away slightly, taking his expression to be something threatening.

A long moment of silence lapsed between the three humans. Sebastian's eyes wandered between Viola and Toby during this time until his eyes settled on something beyond them. Suddenly, his face paled, and he stumbled back in surprise. Viola tore her eyes away from Toby to stare at Sebastian.

"Viola," he said, "look!"

He extended a finger towards the figure past her. She turned her head to glance at what he was seeing, and as soon as she took in the sight herself, she stopped dead.

There, beyond her, was her mirror image. The figure looked, in every way, exactly like her, right down to the fraying of the coat sleeves. Beside the stranger, a ghost hovered – one that looked in every way like Viola's own companion. Viola took a step forward to examine the two carefully as Haunter drifted cautiously by her side.

Before anyone could react, the figure turned and bolted, followed closely by its own haunter. Without even thinking things through, Viola launched herself forward in a dash to follow her twin. Narrowing his eyes, Haunter flew forward, eager to battle the other specter as well as protect his master. As soon as he saw Haunter make his way forward, Sebastian started after Viola as well, but Toby raised an arm to bar his way. When Sebastian came close to it, Toby turned, pushing Sebastian back to grab him.

"Viola! Wait!" Sebastian cried before glaring at Toby. "What do you think you're doing?!"

"What does it look like?" Toby snapped. "Keeping you from running into something you shouldn't be."

A scowl crossed Sebastian's face. "Well, that's apt, coming from someone who burst into our home to exact revenge on an innocent woman, or was that not enough proof that you could have had the wrong person?!"

With a growl, Toby said, "Calm down, boy. Your Viola saved my life. Couldn't have been her, and we'll go to offer help in a moment."

"In a moment?!"

Toby nodded. "First, we have some business to take care of."

By then, Sebastian was ready to hit Toby if it meant getting away. "Oh? And what business might that be?"

Calmly, Toby reached into his pocket to present his Master to Sebastian. "Calling a tie before we both get kicked out of the Game."

That alone was enough to calm Sebastian.

---

Shadows crossed the opening of the run-down theater. Viola hesitated outside, staring at the chipping, red paint around the sign which formerly proudly announced plays starring once-famous names. The box office was abandoned, with the window broken and the glass scattered across the counter. In the window next to it, a poster hung, faded to the point where the name of the play it advertised had turned completely white. Her eyes fell on the door, half gone and half boarded up; it was the lower half that was missing. She had seen the figure disappear into the darkness of the building through this hole, but she was reluctant to follow.

With a glance towards Haunter, she drew a deep breath. She ducked and sidestepped, sliding beneath the boards to enter the theater. Immediately, her nostrils were assaulted by the smell of mildew as she squinted into the darkness. The lobby was no better than the outside. The counters and furniture were falling apart, with cushions ripped to expose mustard-yellow foam stuffing. Every surface was covered with a thick, gray film of dust. Cobwebs laced from the ceiling downward, and Viola was almost certain she spotted the legs of a spinarak scuttling out of sight behind a battered pillar.

Moving forward, Viola tried not to breathe in the dust and mold as she moved towards the door to the house. The door, once proud and red and manned by ushers in bright, red uniforms, hung awkwardly on its broken hinges with chipping paint on its surface. As soon as Viola lay a hand on it, it swung forward until its hinges snapped loudly, sending the door crashing to the floor. Viola flinched for a few moments before she shifted her eyes towards Haunter, who answered with a cautious stare.

Biting her lip, Viola wandered forward, her hand cautiously reaching for the chairs. As she dragged her fingertips across each arm rest she passed, she pushed away the gray dust into small clumps that fell to the grimy floor. Haunter floated in the darkness behind her, keeping his distance as he scanned the area for possible traps. For a long time, the house was silent, save for Viola's footsteps down the aisle. She struggled in the darkness to keep herself focused, alert to the smallest sound that may signal the presence of an attacker. Despite this vigilance, nothing happened as the minutes ticked away.

But then, she approached the front row. As soon as she drew next to it, her fingertips brushing the armrest, there was a bang, and a spotlight flashed onto center stage. Startled, she kept her eyes fixed on the spot as she heard footsteps fall on the stage from the wings. Her double walked into the open calmly, as if it was a spirit of the stage, a creature that haunted it since its birth. With a smile, it stepped into the spotlight and basked itself in the glory of the yellow glow.

Then, he spoke.

"All the world's a stage, and all the men and women… its players. They have their entrances and their exits, and one man, in his time, plays many parts."

A shiver drove itself down Viola's spine as she stared at the man. He fixed his eyes on her, and his smile broadened as she felt his stare burrow into her soul heart and lay itself on her soul.

"How many parts will you play in this act, I wonder?" he asked.
__________________
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Need some light reading?
Anima Ex Machina (Chapter 20 now available)
The Leaf Green Incident (SWC 2012 winner)
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