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TEEN: Viridian's Repository

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I've seen people make threads to hold their short writing bits that aren't one shots, so, um...here's a thread to hold my short(-ish) writing bits that aren't one shots. The writing bits might be Pokémon-related, or they might be OC-related. They are likely to have minimum to no context because some of them are fragments of a bigger project, but I'll do my best to make each one understandable.

It's rated Teen because that's as high as I go when writing. Some of this will probably end up being more like E10. I'll put the writing bits in spoilers and give specific content warnings for each. Broadly speaking, though, the Teen is for light-on-graphic-details violence and somewhat heavy themes. One of my projects (DragonCraft) also features blood and blood-equivalent body fluids as the mechanism for elemental powers. As a result, works based in this world are likely to mention blood/fantasy blood-equivalent in a clinical, nongraphic way.

Since Teen can be very broad, I feel like I also need to say: the Teen rating is NOT for language or sex. There won't be any language stronger than "heck", because I don't like profanity. There may be light romance at some point, but no innuendos beyond "this person likes that person."

And lastly...I have no idea how often I'm gonna post on this thing. But hopefully someone enjoys it.
 
DragonCraft (OC story)
Topic: DragonCraft (OC story)
Sub-rating: Everyone
CW: brief mention of a missing limb/prosthetic

While traversing a mountainous, snowy region, the party happens across a cabin. It is well-stocked with food and firewood, but it appears no one has been there for some time…

“This is normal?” Revenant asked, his doubt clear in his voice. He cast skeptical eyes around the rustic, well-stocked cabin.

“In regions like this, yes,” Aquifer said, her voice much more upbeat. She’d detached her ice-laden mechanical arm as soon as they were inside, but her organic arm was rapidly moving between cabinets, exploring the food left inside them. “Blizzards can come up suddenly, so families who own cabins often leave them unlocked and stocked for travelers in case of emergency.” She passed a few cans to the table behind her, where Hemlock had taken up position. The bounty hunter accepted the cans and began stacking them into piles.

“There’s no chance this is some sort of trap?”

Across the room, next to the fireplace, Ignatz groaned. “The entire world isn’t out to get you, you know.”

Revenant wanted to say, “I know that; the small population of people who are out to get me just happens to technically include this country’s entire police force.” But he kept his mouth shut. He hadn’t explained his entire situation to his travelling companions, and it didn’t seem wise to him to do so now.

Ignatz tossed a few logs into the grate, then flicked his right hand. A spark flew off his fingers and landed on the logs, instantly setting the long-dry wood ablaze. He turned back toward the middle of the room. “I’ll begin the cooking. What sort of food do we…have…?” His voice trailed off as he stared at the table. Aquifer had been industrious in emptying the cabinets, and Hemlock had been just as industrious in stacking the food into little pyramids. “Dare I ask what you’re doing?” Ignatz asked at last.

Hemlock shrugged. “Organizing,” he said. He had the tone of voice one uses when something is so obvious the question is silly, but it isn’t polite to point that out to the questioner.

“Organizing HOW?” Ignatz asked. He stepped over to the table and examined the food stacks. “They’re certainly not alphabetized, and they’re not in groups based on what tastes good together…”

“Speak for yourself,” Hemlock interrupted. He picked up two adjacent cans and waved them at Ignatz. “I happen to believe that preserved tomatoes and pickled tuna are among the most exquisite of sandwich combinations.”

“So…this is organized according to what YOU think is appetizing…?”

Hemlock shrugged again. “Not exactly.” He looked at his tidy forest of pyramids. “I dunno…if you don’t get it, I don’t really know how to explain it.”

Ignatz turned to his liege for help, but Aquifer could only add her own shrug. “I wasn’t really watching him. I’m not sure what he was thinking here.”

Revenant, meanwhile, was still not convinced the cabin was the product of someone’s generosity and NOT some elaborate trap set by bandits. He prodded every piece of furniture in the small room, looking for booby traps or hidden compartments. He felt a rush of vindication when a panel in the simple wardrobe gave way. The rush faded when he saw the compartment contained only a leather-bound volume. Revenant pulled it out. There was no title embossed on the spine or cover. He cracked the cover open to reveal a name handwritten on the first page: Serif.

This wasn’t a trap at all. It was only a diary.

And yet…there was something odd about finding a diary here. If Aquifer’s explanation of the cabin was correct, this was probably a seasonal home, occupied only sporadically. Why would someone leave their personal diary in a place they couldn’t access for long periods of time? And in a place where strangers could enter and snoop at any time?

Unless this wasn’t a diary, but a log of hazards exclusive to the mountains?

Revenant pulled the book further into the firelight and began flipping through it. The first entries showed him three things: one, that this Serif definitely had Fire in his essence (there were tiny burn marks in the margins), Serif was probably a man (“He still gives me a hard time of it, even though I should think he would have grown out of teasing his brother by now,” read one entry), and the diary was…definitely a diary, not a guide for travelers. No mention was made of the cabin other than a comment that holding a tea there would be entirely impractical due to the distance guests would have to travel.

Revenant felt a bit guilty for reading through a stranger’s personal thoughts. But the fact that the diary had been left there at all kept nagging him. There must be some reason Serif had tucked it into a pine wardrobe instead of keeping it with him. Revenant kept reading, skimming as much as he could to preserve some shred of the man’s privacy.

Around halfway through the book, a sentence caught Revenant’s eye.

“These oddities would seem to be connected. And yet if they are, the resulting web would be so large as to be unbelievable.”

Revenant scanned the page above the sentence. Nothing odd was mentioned there. Most of the page, in fact, was taken up by complaints that the writer’s rose bushes weren’t blooming as much as the neighbors’. That didn’t seem worthy of such an ominous statement.

In the following entry, Revenant found a gushing review of a new raspberry scone recipe…and another incongruous add-on.

“I am being foolish, but my curiosity hounds me constantly. I must investigate. I will retreat to the isolated place to think.”

The “isolated place” was probably the cabin, Revenant mused. That would explain why the diary was here, instead of amongst the posh urban life described in many of the entries. But it didn’t explain why the author had left the diary there. Revenant turned the page…

…and found a commentary on a lovely mountain sunset. Revenant nearly groaned out loud. Were all people this unfocused when writing their diaries? He flipped the page again. It was flowery description of…well…flowers. This time, though, there was another non-sequitur underneath.

“I’ve unpacked my resources. They should be interesting reading, if nothing else.”

Revenant flipped through more pages, finding more essays on the beauty of nature. And then, abruptly, he found an abnormally short entry on a page by itself.

“I have now experienced what I will refer to as the Phenomenon. It occurred while I was being chased by a bear.

At least I think it was a bear. I didn’t really get a good look.

I will try to replicate the Phenomenon, preferably without the presence of irate wildlife.”


The tone of the diary shifted dramatically after that. Gone were the page-spanning entries on life’s trivialities and the wonder of the mountains. Instead, pages were dotted with short lines separated by dates. Most of the lines weren’t even full sentences.

“Unsuccessful”
“Unsuccessful”
“Divergent results. Will pursue this method.”
“Successful, but considerably taxing.”
“The Phenomenon is difficult, at any rate. This explains why it is uncommon, but not why it is unknown.”
“Further investigation. Some ideas.”
“Further investigation. I can’t be the only one who knows.”
“Some evidence organized. I don’t think I’m the only one who knows.”
“I felt someone watching today.”


The last line made the hair on the back of Revenant’s neck stand up. He turned behind him, checking to make sure he himself wasn’t being watched by some ominous figure. The only thing behind him was the cheery fire and his companions bickering over what does and does not belong in stew. Revenant turned back to the diary and lifted the next page.

“Many empires are built on lies.”

The remaining pages in the diary were blank.
 
Topic: DragonCraft (OC Story)
Sub-rating: Teen
CW: Brief mention of a missing limb/prosthetic; nongraphic depiction of moderate injury; discussion of serious injury/death/murder most foul; clinical description of what a poison does to the body. This also tackles the discrimination people can face in this world depending on how society views their elemental abilities.
A wedding aboard a grand navy ship seemed like a great idea, until an unnatural storm shipwrecked it. Now everyone on board the ship, including the party, are strewn across the shore of an unknown island…

For a brief moment after she woke up, Aquifer wondered why she was on the sand. Then she remembered the storm, the resulting chaos, the ship breaking apart…

Shipwrecked. She was shipwrecked.

That was fairly impressive, considering this was her first visit to a coastal region.

She attempted to move her right arm, and the mechanism responded. Her waterproofing efforts had paid off. She sat up and looked around. Her surroundings consisted of a sandy beach—as she had gathered from the gritty feeling around her—some rocky outcroppings, and…palm trees? She was no botany expert, but she knew the kingdom of Endraig was too far north for palm trees. Why would the climate on this island be the exception?

Then again, there WAS a pirate in the vicinity who could cast storms at will. If he wanted palm trees, maybe he could change the climate enough to grow them.

Which probably meant this was his island.

Not to mention, he was likely the reason for the shipwreck, given the suddenness of the storm.

So, not only had she managed to be shipwrecked on her first trip to the coast, it was likely caused by pirates and had left her stranded on a pirate island. Very impressive indeed. If she wasn’t starting to feel sick wondering if everyone else had survived, this would be quite thrilling.

Aquifer stood up, dusted what sand she could off her clothes, and began walking along the beach. She kept her eyes and ears sharp for any signs of other humans—shipwreck victims OR pirates. As she passed the first cluster of palms, the remains of a large ship flying the colors of the Endraig Navy came into view. Its sails were shredded, and there were several large holes in the hull, but it was mostly intact. Supply crates from the ship lay scattered across the beach, some seemingly from the holes in the ship and some washed up on shore independently. The crates were jumbled and cracked, but, like the ship, they were mostly intact. Aquifer sighed in relief. If the ship and supplies had grounded on the beach, that meant the captain’s countercasts had worked and the rest of the crew and passengers were safe.

A groan came from her left and Aquifer’s heart sank. Maybe everyone WASN’T safe.

“Just pick up the crate and bring it over here,” said an exasperated voice. “My being a captain and your being a civilian does NOT mean you need my explicit approval for every tiny action!”

Aquifer perked up. Maybe the groan was frustration, and not pain? At any rate, the speaker had talked long enough for Aquifer to locate the sound. She crept to a rocky outcropping a few yards further inland and peeked around the edge.

The groan could have been either frustration OR pain. Captain Gale was lying on the ground with a frustrated expression on her face, as well as a long, shallow wound to the shoulder that sparked with lingering cast damage. Next to her was a partially shattered supply crate. And next to the crate was Hemlock, doing his best stiff, awkward impression of a fence post.

“Hemlock! Captain!” Aquifer called, coming around the rock. Both of the others looked up and smiled.

“Lady Aquifer!” Captain Gale exclaimed. “I’m pleased to see you’re safe. Have you seen any of the other crew or passengers?”

“No,” Aquifer said. “But I haven’t walked very far. I’m…I’m sure they’re around here somewhere. The ship looked mostly intact when I passed it. A bunch of the supplies washed up safe and sound, too.” As she spoke, she studied Hemlock. His smile wasn’t his usual broad, enthusiastic grin. It was subdued and uncertain. Was something wrong? Aquifer’s eyes drifted back to Captain Gale’s injury. The captain ACTED fine, but Hemlock was an apothecary. If her injury was more serious than she let on and he’d noticed…

“Are you alright?” Aquifer asked, pointing to the captain’s shoulder. The captain touched the spot and grimaced.

“Drained, mostly. This is just a standard, albeit well-executed, toxin cast. Nothing some Aqua Vitae won’t fix.”

“One of the pirates did that?” Aquifer asked. “I wouldn’t think someone with a Fire essence would want to be a sea marauder…”

Captain Gale gave a dry smile. “It sounds ironic, doesn’t it? But no, it’s not uncommon for pirate crews to include some Fires, especially with a toxin manifesto. They can find lots of uses for poisonous people.”

Aquifer nodded, still wondering what was bothering Hemlock. Then a horrible thought flashed through her mind. “Is Swish…?”

Hemlock patted the bag slung over his shoulder. “Just waterlogged and ‘sleeping’ it off.”

Aquifer sighed in relief. Captain Gale cocked an eyebrow at her. “That’s, uh…something to do with the special project my companions and I are working on,” Aquifer explained vaguely. The captain seemed like a very understanding woman, but explaining they were illegally hiding a reconstructed ancient dragoncraft automaton in a shoulder bag to protect him from a (possible but unconfirmed) government conspiracy miiiiiight be pushing her understanding nature a bit too far.

Thankfully, Captain Gale accepted the loose explanation. “Well, if there’s one thing I’ve learned during the Comet Crisis, it’s not to ask questions about the ‘special projects’ unless you’re ready for some heavy answers. And at the moment, I don’t feel equal to a heavy anything.” She reached into the shattered crate and pulled out a bottle. “I’ll take my medicine, then once it starts to have an effect, I’ll start searching for my crew and—”

Aquifer saw something move and move fast. By the time she could even think to react, it was over. The captain was empty-handed, and Hemlock’s hands were filled with the medicine bottle.
“What—what is the meaning of—” Captain Gale sputtered in a mix of shock and anger.

“The seal’s been tampered with,” Hemlock said. His subdued smile had been out of character, but his mannerism now seemed like a completely different person. His voice was emotionless, his gaze on the bottle was analytical but unresponsive.

“It looks intact,” Aquifer said. Hemlock flicked his gaze to her, and it was all she could do to keep from flinching. She had never seen this before, and she had no idea what had done it, but SOMETHING had flipped a switch. This was like a dark lamp versus a lit lamp. A stranger just behind a friend’s face.

“A good job. Not a perfect job,” Hemlock said. Then he crouched down and rifled through the crate. Moments later he stood up. “All the seals are redone.”

“Meaning what?” Captain Gale asked, losing some of both the shock and anger in her voice.

Hemlock broke the seal on the bottle he was holding, took a sip, swished, and swallowed. “This contains hydroroot, distilled to its colorless and odorless essence. It is primarily affiliated with Water, with a secondary Fire affiliation. At this level of concentration, it would increase the body’s phlegm production while burning microholes in the lung lining. The consumer would die of suffocation as phlegm-water pooled in the lungs. The chemical is thus most often used to fake death by drowning.” His voice was still emotionless, which gave the impression that he was reading a textbook.

“Let me see that,” said the captain, reaching out for the bottle. Hemlock handed it to her. She dabbed her finger into the neck of the bottle to wet it, then took the slightest of licks. After a moment of silence, Captain Gale said, “I couldn’t see any signs of tampering. And this is an authentic bottle. I’ve seen enough forged goods to know the company crest is genuine. However…” She smacked her lips. “…That is certainly not the normal aftertaste of Aqua Vitae.”

“So…” Aquifer said, “someone took real medicine bottles labeled Aqua Vitae, in a real crate labeled Aqua Vitae, and replaced the contents with poison?!”

Hemlock cleared his throat. When he spoke, it was in his normal voice, as if whatever switch had been flipped had just been flipped again. “TECH-nically, the crate is labeled ‘qua Vit’. But it’s probably safe to assume that was after a few proof-reading sessions with rocks.”

Aquifer snorted a laugh, more from relief that Hemlock was back to making weird Hemlock jokes than from finding the joke funny. She quickly composed herself and turned to the captain. “Can you think of anyone who would want to poison you or someone on your crew?”

Captain Gale gave another of her dry smiles. “Only an armada’s worth of pirates.” She dropped her smile. “Lady Aquifer, you said it looked like many of the supplies survived?”

Aquifer nodded. Captain Gale groaned. “Why do I suspect that wasn’t just a stroke of good fortune?” She struggled to her feet. “That Fire pirate was quite liberal in his casting. I’m sure more people suffered injuries like mine. And if they come across more of this tampered medicine, they’re liable—” Her wound fizzed angrily, causing her to grunt and stagger.

In another too-quick-to-react movement, Hemlock was by her side with his arm bracing her good shoulder. “Hey, calm down! Toxin effects get worse if you get your heart rate up!”

The captain pushed his hand away. “I need to find my crew and the other passengers before they fall victim to booby-trapped supplies. So unless you have untainted Aqua Vitae on your person, I insist you unhand—”

“You’d take medicine from me?” Hemlock interrupted.

Captain Gale stopped struggling and gave him a piercing look. “You have medicine? Good medicine?”

Hemlock nodded. “He’s an apothecary,” Aquifer interjected.

“And you didn’t tell me this sooner because…?”

“I…didn’t think you’d take medicine from me.”

“Because you’re one of the, as I put it earlier, ‘poisonous people’?”

Hemlock looked at the captain with alarm. “H-how did you—”

“You just took a substantial sip of a liquid you were reasonably sure was poison,” Captain Gale said. “Most people wouldn’t do that unless they have a resistance.” She sighed. “Help me back down, please.” Hemlock helped lower her to the sand. Once on the sand, she shuffled herself back toward the rocks until she could lean against them. Then the captain looked up at Hemlock. “When I called people with a Fire essence in a toxin manifesto ‘poisonous people’, that wasn’t an insult. It was a blunt description of what such people do when they decide they want to hurt someone. I call myself a ‘slicing sailor’ for the same reason.”

That was a disturbing image.

“If you wanted me dead, you could have let me drink the tainted bottle. Or, better yet, planted one of those knives of yours in my back when you found me unconscious. In either case, everyone would have blamed the pirates, and you would have gotten away blame-free. Since you didn’t take those highly convenient opportunities, I doubt you’re going to hand me a bottle of poison in front of a witness. So, yes, I trust you enough to take medicine from you.” She held out her hand.

Hemlock hesitated, then swiveled his bag to the front of his body. He shuffled inside—keeping the opening tilted away from the captain so she wouldn’t see the sleeping Swish—and pulled out a bottle of clear liquid. He handed it to the captain.

She cracked the seal on the lid. “How many doses are in here?”

“Just one adult dose.”

The captain downed the medicine in one swig and leaned back against the rock. She sighed. “That’s a much more pleasant aftertaste.” Then she looked up at Aquifer and Hemlock. “I’ll stay put long enough for the Aqua Vitae to take effect, but we really don’t have much time. I hate to pass my duties to you, but would you two please start looking for my crew and the other passengers to warn them?”

“Of course!” Aquifer said.

“Wait, should we really leave the captain alone?” Hemlock asked. “I mean, we’re all agreed this island is probably a pirate hideout, right?”

“True…” Aquifer thought a moment. “Alright, I’ll stay with the captain and you go look for everyone else. You’re a treasure hunter, so you’ll probably notice more nooks and crannies where people could’ve taken shelter than I would.”

“Aye aye, boss.” Hemlock gave a sloppy salute and scuffed away across the sand.

Aquifer crouched next to the recuperating captain. The naval officer moved her head to watch Hemlock until he disappeared around the rocks. “So, he’s a treasure hunter?” she asked Aquifer.

“Yes. Well, technically he’s a bounty hunter, but he specializes in treasure hunting.”

“I thought you said he was an apothecary.”

“He IS an apothecary. But I guess that’s…not really his job, just a hobby he’s really, really good at.”

“Does he have any other hobbies he’s really, really good at?”

Aquifer gave the captain a puzzled look. Something about the question implied specificity. “Do you…have a particular hobby in mind?”

“I’ve heard of hydroroot. But only occasionally. It’s a hard poison to get ahold of. There are many easier ways to poison a person. Really, you’d only seek out hydroroot if you wanted an extra layer of misdirection. And yet, he had detailed knowledge of the plant.”

“That’s pretty typical for Hemlock,” Aquifer said. “He’s a great guy, but he lives off of weird. He’s picked up all kinds of trivia.” She gave the captain another questioning look. “I don’t really see what that has to do with hobbies, though?”

“He has excellent reflexes. Some parties would consider that valuable.”

Aquifer’s eyes got wide as understanding dawned. She violently shook her head. “NO. No no no. He’s never been an assassin. He’s NOT that kind of person.” As she spoke, something clicked in her head about Hemlock’s odd behavior. “But…I think maybe he’s pretended to be one.”

“What do you mean?” Captain Gale asked.

Aquifer thought back to the day she’d met Hemlock. Tossed out the tavern door, in the gutter, trying to talk down an angry man twice his size. “He thought you wouldn’t trust him because he had poison in his essence. I suspect that’s how most… ‘proper’ people react to him. But the…ah… ‘out’ crowd doesn’t really like him either.”

Captain Gale shifted on the sand. “Lady Aquifer, I’ve spent most of my adult life in the military. You can be blunt with me.”

“Ah…alright.” Aquifer took a deep breath, then repeated some of the tavern talk. “Dextrals call him a walking toxic waste heap and most of the people who aren’t proper due to being Sinistral call him a filthy self-entitled Dextral.”

“So he occasionally pretends to be more violent than he actually is, in the hope that other people’s fear of him will keep him safe.”

“Or something like that.”

“Has he told you any of this?”

Aquifer hesitated. “…Not explicitly. This is mostly stuff I see happen. How he acts, how other people act. But like I said, he’s a great guy. I trust him.”

“How long has he been in your employ?”

Aquifer thought a moment before answering the captain. “It’s not so much how LONG I’ve employed him as how much we’ve gone THROUGH since I employed him.”

Captain Gale made a wordless—but understanding—grunt.

A few yards away, the waves whooshed onto the sand, then back out again. A breeze rustled the leaves of the misplaced palm trees.

“I’ve had a long career on the sea,” Captain Gale said in a soft voice. “I’ve seen peril. Heroism. Villainy. Wonderful and terrible things. And in navigating it all, I’ve come to value what people do with their essence more than the essence. I thought most came to the same conclusion as they charted their own way through the world. Perhaps that’s just a lingering scrap of naivete.”

“We’ve met other people who thought that way,” Aquifer interjected. “I think that. My father thinks that.”

“But do most people think that?”

Aquifer didn’t have an answer.

“Regardless of what I or anyone else thinks,” the captain continued, “the people who antagonize your treasure hunter are idiots.” She stared at the crate of poison medicine and traced the fading injury on her shoulder. “If they ever convinced him to hurt them back, he would be exceptionally good at it.”
 
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