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A guide that follows your favorite Evolving Item and Rapid Evolving Item stories & tales.
User Image Pandaista

The city of Akihabeara, epicenter of all ursine matters, is holding their annual Panda Convention! Thousands from across the world make their way to the bustling district to get a piece of the action, and self-proclaimed Pandaistas Qin and Ling are among them.

Though the two are strangers, their like-mindedness lands them both at the same starting point. What better way to begin their long and exciting day than to start from the basics? There's only one store that fits the muzzle: Bear Essentials!

While Ling busies herself in the fitting room, trying on an array of cute panda undergarments, Qin takes pictures of mannequins with his cellphone. When he finds a pair of boxers he likes, he makes his way to the fitting room and bumps into Ling just as she's leaving. Surprised, his finger hits the phone's camera shutter... and in the confusion, she mistakes him for a peeping tom! Qin apologizes profusely and declares his innocence, summing up the whole thing as a huge misunderstanding. Ling, still suspicious, decides to forgive him ...only after he further apologizes with some small gifts: a pair of bangles with a cheap ring.

Qin walks down one of the streets and happens upon a crowd in front of a flashy store. Curious, he makes his way to the front and finds that Furinge Salon is having a promotional deal! Buy a headpiece of your choice and one of their talented hair stylists will style your hair to match for free. Pawsome! Not caring if this will end up as a bad hair day, he darts into the store. Moments later, spots a neat beanie mounted on a mannequin’s head. Happy with his choice, he makes his purchase and takes the receipt to the connected salon.

Ling patiently looks around the station while she waits for the stylist to come back. Noticing someone has taken the seat beside her, she peeks over and spots an adorable beanie. “Cuteee!” She squeals gleefully and asks, “Is that your item?” “Yeah,” a male voice responds, “Spiffy, isn’t i—AH!” A look of surprise passes Ling’s face, a similar expression mirrored by the boy sitting next to her. Without thought, she exclaims, “It’s you! Peeping Tom!” And just as quickly, he counters, “I'm not!”

Regret at her sudden outburst shames Ling into silence. He really wasn’t, the association had just slipped out. Twiddling the lensless glasses in her hands, she occasionally glances at the boy occupying the next seat over before muttering a small apology. “It’s okay,” Qin comments, “It’s just embarrassing,” “Pfft,” Ling snorts, “EmBEARassing.” Catching her pun, he bursts into laughter, causing her to do so too. The two hair stylist returns to a pair of customers in a giggling fit. Looking at one another, they shrug and smile in amusement as they begin working their magic on the now happily conversing pair.

Qin and Ling leave the salon together, ecstatic about their new dos. However, once outside, Ling realises a problem with their recent change in appearance. "Hey," she says, "Don't you think we're a little--" "Incomplete?" Qin grins cheekily as he finishes her sentence before adding, "You know what this means." She pumps her fists excitedly and throws them into the air, screaming, "SHOPPING!"

The two hop from one store to the next, picking up trinkets and clothing, yet unable to find what they are looking for. "What an epandamic," Ling sighs. "Fur real," Qin concurs. They slump against one another, expelling deep twin sighs. Just then, an idea hits Qin. "Since we can't seem to find something for ourselves--" Ling intercepts, completing his sentence, "Why don't we shop for each other?! That's a great idea!"

Unsurprisingly, both end up at Pandora, a spiffy store that specializes in all things pandaface. The two meet up in front of the fitting rooms and hand over their finds, anticipation building as they try on the clothes. "Pandastic!" Ling squees, bursting from her stall first and twirls in the dress and necklace upon her body. Qin follows quickly after, laughing in his sweater and tri colored scarf, only to stop abruptly when he sees her. An odd feeling of familiarity flits across his memory, but he can't quite place it. Ignoring it, the two then decide to continue browsing the store.

User Image Hoarfrost Pass
Discussion Topic

Hoarfrost Pass: Centurion- Cicero is a centurion of the Empire, far south of the wastelands. Bade by the emperor to rescue his youngest daughter, kidnapped by a mysterious enemy, he finds himself struggling survive the uncharted wastes. At the infamous pass, he is challenged by a nomadic northern warrior, a barbarian. Cicero's sophisticated techniques best his opponent, but only just; Cicero is startled and impressed by the warrior's raw passion and strength. Although all he knows about the northmen indicate that they can't be trusted, he takes a risk and proposes a bargain: he'll spare his life if he'll help him navigate the land and find the princess.

Hoarfrost Pass: Northman- Stieg "the Wretched" has mastered survival in the wasteland. He was once known and feared for his "blood rage" in battle; eventually his ability became so consuming that he lost himself, attacking even his own comrades. His own people believed he was a devil and felt no empathy, and exiled him. One day he cast his runes and read that he would meet a stranger from a warm land who could change his fate. He finally meets him at the Pass, a warrior from the south empire; Stieg challenges him, believing his fate will change through battle, as it always has. However, his opponent's calm and controlled fighting style is new to him, and he finds he's unable to invoke his blood rage against it. Upon defeat, he agrees to the man's terms... with no intent to follow through. He vows to cut his throat at the soonest chance.

The warriors travel further into the wasteland, hunting for signs of the stolen girl. Each man keeps a vigilant eye on the other, watching for threats or openings. Since they study little else but their companion, they inevitably notice small details.

Cicero observes the way Stieg finds fish under the ice, the practical way he carves animals and cures hide, how he tracks signs across the ice and snow. He realizes the Northman is not barbaric, merely better adapted to the land than to polite society. Cicero begins to wonder how this stranger would react to his homeland in the south, the great empire with its grand stone temples and shining gold sculptures, the likes of which have never been seen by northern men.

Stieg, determined to betray his companion, begins to spy on Cicero during his training exercises. He is again impressed by his controlled technique, noticing his scarless body (compared to his own, scarred a dozen times) and recalling the ease of his defeat. He's suddenly no longer ashamed to have been beaten by this warrior, who has obviously seen battle yet never taken a wound.

On the twelfth night into their journey, Stieg realizes somewhat uneasily that he doesn't want to kill the Centurion. Meanwhile, Cicero imagines showing Stieg his faraway city, all the while knowing the Northman could never set foot there, where he would be viewed by those less observant as a barbarian, lower than a dog, and executed...

Far into the wasteland, Stieg and Cicero find tracks leading to an abandoned fortress on the ice. They split up to search, only to discover the fortress is not deserted...

Cicero finds the princess in a high tower. She begs him to stay with her in the Northlands, away from her overbearing father. He refuses, determined to fulfill his duty to the emperor. The Princess' eyes grow empty...

Stieg finds the princess in a low dungeon, readying her sword. She smiles darkly and says, "Two brave warriors... Two Princesses. One of us is real, possessed. The other..." She giggles. "My double is with the Centurion now. The Princess is a strong warrior... We have probably already killed him!"

With a roar, Stieg launches himself at the woman, and steel meets steel. She's strong, stronger than him, but she's from the same school of combat as Cicero, and so Stieg knows her techniques. Until suddenly, the second Princess appears, face twisted, and Stieg is overpowered, his axe knocked from his hand. The Princesses raise their swords together for the killing strike...

At that moment, Cicero bursts from the shadows and intercepts the blow, taking a near fatal wound to protect his friend. Stieg sees the blood, and slips into his berserker state. The Princesses are taken aback, not expecting this display of passion from the lone warrior. The pair suddenly find themselves at his mercy, and just as Stieg raises his axe to slay them both, he hesitates. At that moment, he realizes he can control the blood rage that he had been helpless against before. He chooses then to strike down the Princess with the shifting face, and leaves the other unharmed. She gasps and collapses, relief and gladness returning to her eyes. The Princess is saved!

Stieg agrees then to help the Princess and the wounded Cicero return to the southern warmlands. He binds the wounds carefully and they begin the journey back to the Pass, where they will part ways.

On the last night, they have a large fire, and the Princess takes leave early to rest. In the early hours of morning, she imagines she hears soft whispering over the crackling of the fire...

Upon his return to the city, Cicero is offered the Princess in marriage for returning her safely. He tells the emperor, "We still don't understand the enemy which took her. I would rather have permission to travel north again, to investigate further threats to the empire." The emperor is reluctant to lose the hero, and deliberates for several weeks. At last, he agrees.

Meanwhile, Stieg travels west to his homelands. His people recognize that he is no longer enslaved to his blood rage and allow him to live among them again. Now he carries a different weight on his shoulders. One day, an eagle finds him, carrying the latest of many letters. It contains an oath, promising the sender will meet him at the pass before the month ends. Stieg reads runes before he sets out on his journey, and sees the quiet pattern of the dawn stars.

Long after Cicero has left his city, a whisper spreads. A shaken servant, a woman responsible for dressing and bathing the girl since she was small, tells it one evening to her close friends. She speaks of a small girl with a birthmark shaped like a cornflower, and a woman who returned from the Northlands who had no birthmark. She speaks of a darkness in the Princess' eyes that others do not notice. The next morning, the servant is gone.

Far in the north in a frozen fortress, a woman's body lies, the flower mark on her skin buried and secret with her, beneath the ice and snow.
Emerald Dream
Life was so simple in The Dreamer's black-and-white world. She spent her days doing chores on her family's farm, her faithful pup Milo always by her side. But one day, she and her little dog found themselves whisked away to a magical, brightly-colored kingdom...

The Dreamer awakens in a strange new world of color, surrounded by tiny villagers buzzing around excitedly. She turns to see the source of their joy-- it's her house, smashed into the ground, a pair of fuchsia slippers wedged beneath! The Bunnykins thank her profusely for stomping out the evil witch, but the Dreamer weeps and wails to go home. A beautiful woman appears in a burst of light, introducing herself as L'grand Couturier. She promises to help the Dreamer return home, beckoning her toward a brightly-colored road...

Following L'grand Couturier's directions, The Dreamer and Milo walk for many miles along a bright golden road. They arrive at a large swath of wheat fields. In the center they find a strange man surrounded by crows. He calls himself the Superficialist, and he tells the Dreamer his sad tale: he lacks anything behind his mask and is unable to keep his fields clear. The Dreamer offers to take her new friend along, for at the end of the road, L'grand Couturier has promised they'd meet a powerful wizard who would solve all of their problems.

As the Dreamer and the Superficialist make their way along the yellow road they soon come upon a loud clanging sound. A man dressed in all shiny metals stands along the road preening, quiet proud of his fabulous collection of clothing. He has no heart and no time to appreciate anything but himself, so the pair offer to take him along.

Ruined Souls
Her name was Charise, and she was Daegal’s one hope. Oh, the memories he kept of her-- she was the light that chased away the darkness, her cheerful demeanor as fragrant as the incense that flooded her tomb. They were young and in love once, blinded by happiness, without a care in the world. But nature can be cruel to its most fragile creatures; those least deserving of death are overtaken by it, while the strong are left to suffer the loss. Still, Daegal wondered why Charise had been taken from him. The years after her passing were full of grief, turning his heart black with bitterness, sadness and a desperation deep enough to lead a man to consider unspeakable things...

Daegal considered the unthinkable: could the dead be raised to life, and if so, how? He tirelessly studied various forms of black magic, hoping to find the answer, but there was none. Was he the only one in the world to ask such a thing, Daegal wondered, or was it really so taboo that no one dared to investigate? Daegal cursed in frustration, but his cry would not go unheard. From beyond the outskirts of town, deep within the forest, across the stones of an unnamed ruin and beneath its gleaming waters, a voice called back.

"Come," the voice beckoned. It was faint as a whisper, ethereal in the way it echoed, but definite enough for Daegal to know that it was not his imagination. The voice lead him into the thick of the forest, far from town, until finally he emerged on the plateau of the mysterious ruins.

"Come," it encouraged, drawing him closer to the edge of what was once a well. The waters were alive with souls that reached up as if to overtake him; it was clear to Daegal that this place was likely a gateway between this world and the next.

"You wish to bring back what is lost, but such power does not come without a high price. Offer yourself as a sacrifice, to be used as a channel for spirits, and in return possess the power to awaken the dead and command their souls."

Overwhelmed, Daegal fell to his knees. He knew the price would be great, but who or what would he become in exchange? In his moment of weakness, the spirits conjured an image of his beloved Charise, tempting him with memories and the promise of seeing her again...

The spirits chased away Daegal’s doubt, flooding his mind with images of what he could be: A man of great power, a revered Witch Doctor, unlimited in knowledge and capable of doing what was once thought impossible... and all he needed to do was willingly submit. Tempted by the promises of these visions, blackness began to corrupt Daegal. But as this darkness threatened to overtake him, a white mist began to pour in, engulfing the area with the calming spell of incense, a fragrance that Daegal recognized from Cherise’s tomb...

the soft sound of a single person’s footsteps could be heard, circling the mists around him. What was this-- some divine intervention, trying to stop him from making this choice now that he was committed to making this sacrifice? Angered, Daegal searched the mists, demanding that whoever it was to show themselves.

The mist began slowly to fade, just enough to reveal the silhouette of a woman, walking towards him. She dangled the incense chamber at her side, which carried the calming fragrance. Daegal waited—frozen in place as her features became plain to him…it was Charise.

Just as the years had changed Daegal, so she also changed in spirit: beautiful, like a goddess walking on air. Her presence left him speechless. Had she returned to him? Yearning to touch her, he reached out to lay a hand upon her cheek but felt nothing but a cold sensation.

"No power is worth selling your soul for,” she told him, “and not even these spirits can promise you a power great enough to raise me from the dead as I was...” Her smile softened the pain in his eyes, as she took his hand in her own. “You’re tired... suffer no more, join me and rest.”

Her words were short, sweet, and calming... Daegal could not argue. When the mist cleared—they were gone, and well restored and purified as all the entities that had polluted the place had gone.

Art of Espionage
You stumble upon an imperial fan in your quarters; it bears the mark of royalty. A note falls out:

“After careful review of your application, we feel that you are qualified to serve the country. Starting at break of dawn, you are to attend the academy for intensive training.”

As you don the uniform left behind by your ancestors, you feel the adrenaline pumping into your veins. The time has finally come to prove yourself.

your first week of training has been tough, but you’re determined to rise to the challenge. It’s hard enough just keeping yourself warm and protected, but giving up is simply not an option.

It's now the second week of your training in the Art of Espionage, things just keep getting harder. But you won't let that stop you-- your eyes are lit with fire and passion as you leap through every obstacle they throw at you. You know this is where you were always meant to be.

Your commitment to learning the Art of Espionage continues. After a long session of weapons training, you find a hairpin mounted on the door. The pin is the symbol that you’re now ready for the final test... and her majesty will be in attendance!

The empress has arrived to witness your final test in the Art of Espionage: you must battle your way through an elaborate and deadly obstacle course. She's hypnotized at your expert footwork as you overshadow one opponent after another. Declared the final winner, you kneel before the empress and recite solemn vows to serve your country. She smiles at you and thanks you for your dedication, knowing that you'll become one of her empire's most valuable assets.
User ImageDark Heart
Desmona the Dark was loathed and feared by the people of Elwynne. Her younger sister, Annise the Light, was greatly beloved for her fair visage and pure mien. With jealousy in her heart, she sought to overthrow Annise and control the denizens of Elwynne.

Desmona flit through her Book of Shadows, searching for the perfect spell to cast on her fair sister. As she gathered ingredients to place in her magical cauldron, she wondered- whatever would she conjure? Perhaps a poisonous apple, the classic potion, or something much more sinister?

After repeating a chant three times, a hilt rose to the surface as a voice spoke out to her. "To overcome your dreary plight, you must carve out the heart of Annise the Light..."

From out of the bubbling cauldron a hilt arose. Desmona took hold of the magical blade and felt a rush of great power. "Yes, this will do nicely..." Desmona walked over to her grand wardrobe and tapped her chin. Whatever would she wear for such an occasion?

Desmona combed her ebony locks and topped her crown with her favorite hat. As she admired herself in the mirror, the mysterious voice repeated itself in her head. She knew not to whom the voice belonged, only that it gave her exhilarating power.

Throwing on her luxurious overcoat, she smiled at her reflection. "After today, the people of Elwynne shall bow down to me. Perhaps... I shall even become their queen!" She glanced over at her blade and began to ponder how she would carry out her cruel deed. Her lips curled into a grin as the images of Annise's imminent death danced through her head. She giggled to herself. She would find great joy in this.

Annise sat in the heart of the magic forest, humming a peaceful tune. She favored the halcyon ambience of the woods and the elusive creatures within.

A sudden snapping of branches and crunching of foliage beneath treading feet disrupted her thoughts. "Who might lurk yonder," Annise inquired.

A dull light grew brighter as Desmona emerged from the shadows, holding a magical flame within her palm. Annise's eyes lit up with surprise. "Dearest sister..."

Desmona's eyes hardened as she dismissed her flame and drew her blade. "Ah, Annise. I lack the time for chatter, for your end is nigh!"

Annise beheld her sister with despair and shook her head. "Desmona, you have a darkness in your heart, but it does not have to be this way."

She stood, brushing leaves from her dress, and held out her hand towards her turbulent sister. "Please Desmona, you are beautiful and loved. Come with me. Show the people that you are not as cruel as they believe...”

Desmona hesitated for a moment before gathering her senses. "No!" she screamed, and lunged for Annise with her blade thrust. Before the edge could pierce her heart, Annise suddenly dispersed in a glittering display into the form of a gilded bird.

Desmona fell forwards and looked up as the bird hovered momentarily. "You mustn't listen to this dark man," Annise uttered wistfully before flying away.

Back at her lair, Desmona contemplated her bitter failure. Her eyes glazed over with tears as she recalled Annise's kind words, and her heart began to ache at the thought of being reunited with her sister.

"Do not waste thoughts on absurd propositions, Desmona. You have failed in your quest. Do you really think this land of halfwits could love you so easily? You are as cruel and twisted as I."

Desmona straightened herself up. "Please...tell me...who are you?" A sudden sharp pang shot throughout Desmona; she watched in horror as her heart was torn from her chest. As Desmona fell limp to the ground, a shadowy figure emerged from the fog of the cauldron, holding the still-beating heart. "My dear, you may call me...Mephiste."

User ImageCafe Miam

Cariana has been flitting from one job to the next, never able to hold one down for more than a few days. As hard as she tries she hasn't been able to find her true calling in life.

One day she receives a letter and out falls an elaborately decorated key. "Dear Ms. Cariana", it begins, "We have been impressed with your work experience and would love to offer you the job of barista at Cafe Miam starting tomorrow. Please arrive promptly in the morning and let yourself in with the enclosed key. Our manager will provide you with training and you'll be making high-quality coffee in no time!"

Cariana doesn't remember applying for a job at Cafe Miam much less the cafe itself. This whole thing seems strange but she's always wanted to make coffee and she does need a job.

Cariana finally finds Cafe Miam nestled in the back of a quiet cobblestoned street. Aaaa~ the cafe looks so cute and cozy! She enters with the key and looks around, not really sure what to do until the manager arrives. Finally the door jingles open and in walks— A DOG?! He strolls behind the bar and hands you an apron. This must be the cafe's manager, Tarquin Barnaby II.

As Cariana sets up Cafe Miam for the day (with the help of Tarquin of course), the first customers start to slowly stream in. She's a little nervous but luckily the first orders are easy. A straight up large mug of coffee, a coffee and milk with donut special... no problem! But then someone comes in and orders an extra large cappuccino with extra foam and cinnamon... oh no! Tarquin lets out a bark and starts pointing his muzzle at the equipment. Amazingly Cariana is able to understand his instructions as Tarquin points and barks through the steps. WOAH this cappuccino is as big as her head and it smells delicious. This is fun~

User ImageParcel Post

Wow, can you believe I packed everything in time to make my flight?! I think I might have left a bowl of soup on the TV, but I DID remember to bring Miupii!! Phew! I'll send you some cool stuff and a picture with Miupii when I land! Cheers~!"

"Hi--ii!! Uwaaa, my flight was sooo long! It was almost bedtime when we landed-- or morning the previous day?? I'm so jetlagged! We're staying at a traditional hot spring resort, though, so I got to have a hot soak that night. I've sent you a souvenir towel and a robe?? I think?? Maybe you shouldn't bathe with it, though, it was pretty expensive!! Byeeee!"

"Hii---ii!! Wow, I'm writing to you from a tea shop, touristy much?? lololol. Time to unwind after Fashion Weekend-- I heard the new Queen was in attendance, but I couldn't get into the Cherry Nakamura show!! >o< Still I got you this cool Cherry reversible tee and a wig I scored from a designer friend backstage. Dry clean only, duh!!"

"Hi---ii!! Boy, luxury cruises sure are tiring! I'm staying with a friend over Spring Break, she goes to a really prestigious all-jellymaid academy near Ghisguth's Trench. Have you tried crystalfish sashimi?? Probably not, it's soooo rare! Too bad. Anyway, I'm sending along an academy uniform and some genuine 100% tentacle extensions, just fyi, no heat styling!! Ciaoooo~"

"Hi---ii!! Boy, luxury cruises sure are tiring! I'm staying with a friend over Spring Break, she goes to a really prestigious all-jellymaid academy near Ghisguth's Trench. Have you tried crystalfish sashimi?? Probably not, it's soooo rare! Too bad. Anyway, I'm sending along an academy uniform and some genuine 100% tentacle extensions, just fyi, no heat styling!! Ciaoooo~"

"Hi--ii!! Wow, vacation flew by! I know I said I'd be coming home at the end of the month, but guess what?! I'm orbiting the planet aboard Paradise 5, and I've applied to become a Galactic Angel!! I know, right? It's very exclusive. I guess I'll have to fight some interstellar bad dudes and get some cyberoptic implants, but mostly I'll be singing karaoke!! lolololol~~ Anyway, it's space station policy to discard all worldly goods, so I'm sending you my international Miupii collection. The Galactic Angel Miupii has real star fragments! They're kinda sharp and glowy, be careful! Byeeee~~~~!"

User ImageParamour's Break
Knox clasped Vera's hand and gave it a light squeeze. "We're in this together then..?" Vera gazed into Knox's eyes and nodded solemnly. "Together." He brushed her hair back and linked a delicate chain around her neck. The pendant was that of their team emblem. She smiled at him and they took a deep breath.

At once, they burst out the door, guns blazing and swords flying. Nothing would get in their way to escape the syndicate. They would live their dream to escape to a better life...but that would not come without one final trial...

After clearing out the area, the lovers quickly ran across to their next destination. Vera's heels clacked against the pavement as they made their way for new cover. They knew all too well that more of their former brethren would soon infiltrate. Although they were a skewed type of family, the members were loyal to only one man and they would receive no assistance. The syndicate's cardinal rule was that once a member was initiated, they could not leave-- not unless they had a death wish.

As expected, another wave of henchmen came upon them. As projectiles began to fly in their direction, Knox emptied his clip and quickly pulled out two smaller pistols from his jacket and continued to fire until they all went down.

In a darkened surveillance room, a mysterious man sighed and ran his fingers through his silvery hair in annoyance as he watched the two move on... "If this keeps up, things will have to get serious."

Vera stood up and looked across the compound. "We need to keep moving!" Knox grinned at her, wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his sleeve. "You look nice tonight," he teased. Vera blushed and furrowed her brows at him. "This isn't the time, Knox! We have to focus!"

A loud booming sound and smoke and fire filled the range. Coughing, they watched as the shadow of a familiar figure emerged. Knox growled, "Slater."

The man smirked. "Please tell me why my favorite duo is trying to leave our happy home? I must hand it to you both, you now have my undivided attention..." With determination, they looked on at the man. This would be it-- the final battle...

As smoke dissipated behind Slater, more figures emerged from every direction. Slater's special forces had come to back him. Immediately, they initiated combat with the two as Slater calmly watched on.

Alongside each other, the duo skillfully did away with the goons. Slater's eyes widened with shock and anger as he watched his men dropped one by one. As fear caught up with him, he turned to run in the midst of battle. Knox quickly took notice and put a bullet in his leg, hindering his escape. Slowly, they approached the fallen man. "You may end my life, but you will never live a life of normalcy! Never!," he screamed. Vera grimaced and then closed her eyes, striking down the coup de grâce... Exhausted, they walked away.

After glancing back in reminiscence, two mounted Knox's motorbike. Vera hugged Knox from behind and nestled her head against his back, their hair blowing in the wind as they drove away from the wreckage.

When they got into the city, they went above a building top and overlooked the night around them. "This is all ours, Vera," Knox whispered. Vera smiled and embraced her lover. Finally, they could put away their weapons and live their life in peace...
User ImageSong of Amour Discussion Thread
Faith is a well known singer, and her fans pay huge sums of money and travel around the world just for the chance to hear her voice. Her boss, however, is extremely strict and protective, and maintains a rigid schedule to protect her. He's worried that her beautiful voice will lure the most unwanted of people.

Despite all the protection Faith’s boss has given her. It was only a matter of time before a mysterious figure arrives with intent to take Faith away.

Faith is becoming restless with her singing role, but her boss is very persistent, since it is her voice that is making him rich.

The stranger appears before Faith again. She notices his sheath and becomes nervous as he approaches her. Before he can say a word, her boss intrudes and vows to have the stranger killed by his men if he approaches Faith again. Though she usually looks shamefully downward, Faith can't resist looking up to see this mysterious man.

Their eyes meet, and suddenly she remembers everything. Her so-called “boss” is really her kidnapper! Long ago, she was stolen away from her lover for her beautiful voice. Fidel has come to take her back. The boss, realizing who this man is was, grabs of Faith and drags her back into corridors, leaving his men behind to finish off Fidel.
Fidel fights through the kidnapper’s men and reaches the end of the corridor. He opens the door and is surprised to find Faith locked away in a cage. With only the kidnapper now between them, he lunges upon the man and runs his sword through him. He frees Faith and the two make their exit before being caught by the kidnapper's men-- smiling and looking into each other's eyes, they leap out of an open window.

The kidnapper's men run up and look out the window at the ground below expecting to see two bodies, but finding nothing as two love birds fly out to the horizon. The soul mates are finally reunited again.

User ImageStinger Discussion Thread
For years, the savage Horned Beetle Clan has been running around aimlessly after the death of their leader, who was lost in their last battle with the Honey Bee Clan. Clearly a new leader is needed, but the strongest warriors are each too proud to concede leadership of the clan. Tired of the constant infighting and watching the once-powerful Horned Beetle Clan dwindle, one lowly soldier decides to take control and consolidate power-- but to do this, he must enter the Bee Clan's home and steal their legendary weapon, Stinger. After spying the entrance for days, he sees his opportunity to sneak inside as all the male Bee Clan members depart on a hunting trip...

The Horned Beetle soldier enters the grand foyer of the Honey Bee Clan's fortress. It's an impressive room under normal circumstances, but today the eerie silence makes it feel lonely and neglected.

The soldier skirts around the perimeter heading towards the largest of the doors but is stopped by debris littering the room... no, this is not debris. These are the broken shards of the Beetle Clan's laurel horns worn only on the days of battle. Looks like some of his other clan members had the same idea but were met with resistance.

He must hurry now... it's important that he be the one to steal Stinger first, for some of his clan members are so heartless and savage that to have them win the leadership would spell certain death for the entire Horned Beetle Clan.

The Horned Beetle soldier stealthily slips from room to room through the silent Honey Bee clan lair. The large hallway coming off the foyer has been gently sloping downward in a large spiral for the last mile. Instinct tells him he has chosen the correct path. On either side, spacious rooms and smaller hallways branch out into an endless maze.

Unexpectedly, a young girl enters from one of the side passages. She is crossing the large hallway when she spots him and freezes, dropping the tray of drinks she was carrying. Here in front of him is the sworn enemy-- one of the nefarious Honey Bee Clan, responsible for the death of his leader and years of chaos back home. She stands surprised and weaponless. It would be so easy to run her through with his sword and exact revenge. He feels rage running through his arms as he raises the sword above her head, but look of innocence and fear in her eyes stopped him, and he knocked her out cold with a blow from the blunt end. She was no warrior... just a young girl, perhaps a servant, and he was not as ruthless as he believed himself to be.

The hallway spirals tighter as the Horned Beetle soldier descends further down. Finally around the next corner he reaches the end! A large doorway stands open revealing a huge throne room, so large that the walls disappear into the darkness. Inside he can barely make out the shapes of a large throne and masses flitting in the air. All that doesn't matter because what really catches his eye is Stinger embedded in the middle of the room, an unnatural glow shining off it's blade. Here is his prize but first he must dispatch the pair of Honey Bee guards flying towards him.

The Horned Beetle soldier takes down the two bodyguards and strides into the throne room, coming to a stop a few feet away from the Honey Bee queen. Between them lies the legendary sword, Stinger, deeply embedded in the earth. "We've been expecting you beetle," she hisses. "I've already met your friends."

She points a long spindly arm towards her left where a pile of horned beetle soldiers lie dead. "They weren't one for words," she continues "They came in and began to slaughter all my children so we had to... well... put a stop to that. I tried to keep order but I'm afraid I lost control and my entire army flew off to kill the rest of your savage clan." The soldier's face contorts to one of horror.

"Or maybe you're different from your brethren. You did, after all, spare my daughter." The queen gestures with her other arm and a young girl with bandages on her head and an angry expression comes forward. It is the "serving girl" he ran into earlier.

The soldier understands what he has to do now. He takes the last few steps forward and grips Stinger's hilt.

"Take it. I will not stop you... or both our clans will perish," the Queen says, "For it was I who wielded Stinger on that grim day many years ago, and used it to cut the head off of your leader. I have lived with the guilt all these years and now my clan is paying for it. Claim Stinger and run me through! My head will be the revenge you've been seeking."

The soldier pulls Stinger out of the ground in one fluid motion. He raises the point towards the Queen who stands resignedly in the same spot, showing neither signs of fear or uncertainty. But instead, he lowers the blade and starts walking out. At the entrance, the soldier turns around and yells back, "I will use Stinger! I will use it to bring back peace." He turns around once more and runs out to find the two clans.

User ImagePolar Tear Discussion Thread
Far in the frosty North, at that time of year when the sun never quite lifts the morning over the horizon and the long months are covered in perpetual twilight, an ice sculptor named Pétur waited out the winter. For many years, Pétur and his wife, Ísa, had spent the dark months in each other's loving company, but the previous winter, a sudden, jealous illness stole Ísa from Pétur forever. His tools sat in their case, unused for several months before, in the pale light of what-- at any other time of year-- might have been morning, the ice sculptor felt a strange longing to walk out to the glacier, where the ancient ice slept...

Polar Tear followed Pétur as he discovered a strange secret in the northern wilderness. Urged on by a mysterious call and shivering in his lamb's wool sweater, the sculptor trudged through the snow to the foot of an ancient glacier. There, in the dim blue of perpetual dusk, he saw a bright, crystalline light shimmering in the ice. Pétur had heard of glacial ice as clear as crystal and hard as diamond, impervious to heat and forever frozen. His Ísa had given him a locket containing her portrait and claimed, winking, that the star-colored stone on its face was immortal glacial crystal... As he watched the light in the ice pulsing like a heartbeat, a shape took form in his mind...

Pétur has carved from the glacial ice the likeness of a beautiful woman: his beloved wife, Ísa. He named the statue Ísthur - a goddess made of ice - and gazed at her strange, glittering heart until sleep overtook him. As he dreamt of lost summers, of soft breezes and soft smiles, Ísthur's heart watched over the sleeping sculptor. Her frozen eyes, as deep and blue as the heart of a glacier, slowly opened, and a shimmering tear fell down her cheek. Her limbs began to move, and her crystalline hair softened, spilling over her shoulders like water. Ísthur awoke.

The goddess Ísthur ha revealed her true nature. As Pétur slept, Ísthur gazed at her creator, something like tenderness in her cold eyes as she searched his dreams and saw her shape. It was not Ísthur-- those long-ago summers belonged to someone else-- but she smiled sadly as the ghost of a memory passed through her ancient heart. She placed a gentle kiss on Pétur's smiling lips.

But morning-- finally, after many months, true morning-- drew near. Ísthur slipped out of her earthly garments and out of the front door, slipping barefoot into the pale dawn. Her silvery hair unfurled behind her, shimmering and long as the tail of a comet. It was time she returned home. She would forever be grateful to the sculptor for freeing her from the glacier. Nearly forever, she thought, as she melted into light and rose into the velvet sky... for a star is very long-lived, and looks down on the earth always.

When Pétur awoke, he found his sculpture was gone, her crustal gown (so like Ísa's wedding dress) a glittering puddle on the floor. Throwing on his boots and scarf, he ran out into the pale light, where a woman's graceful footprints suddenly disappeared as if she'd been lifted into the sk. He gazed at the morning star, shining brighter than ever before, and touched his lips. That's right... He had dreamt, and Isa, and the memory of her kiss had begun to thaw the cold ache in his heart.

User ImageWisteria Discussion Thread
Victoria and Tyrian are siblings and have been the best of friends as long as either of them could remember. Their incredible bond gets put to the test, however, when word is received from their parents: The pair has been invited to stay the winter at their relatives' distant, creepy, mansion!

Victoria and Tyrian have arrived at their relatives' distant mansion. They're overwhelmed by the size of the house, and like any curious children, they begin to explore and play about the mansion.

As Tyrian and Victoria playfully explore the mansion, they accidentally trip over a hanging wall drape, revealing a boarded-over opening only wide enough to fit a small child. A draft can be felt through the cracks in the walls and Tyrian's curiosity gets the best of him. Victoria watches nervously as he pries the rusted nails out of the old boards keeping whatever it is behind the entrance hidden.

Too scared to follow, Victoria waited outside while Tyrian found himself deep in a small room filled with old trinkets and books.

"Did you find anything?" Victoria wailed into the passage.

Tyrian was immediately disappointed with his discovery, but just before he could answer back to Victoria, he heard a chime in the corner of his ear. The sound seemed to be originating from a chest buried among the books. He approached the chest with some apprehension and wiped a thick layer of dust from the lid. It was unlocked, and despite the chest looking so old and important, he found only a small bunny doll inside. Disappointed again, he took the doll and brought it back to his sister.

"It was nothing but junk! How boring! But I found this and thought you might like it." Tyrian grumbled. Victoria's squealed with excitement and snatched the doll away from Tyrian, falling in love with it instantly.

Victoria aimlessly skipped and pranced the halls while chanting to herself, stopping every now and then to gaze into the cursed ring. Tyrian, concerned by his sister's uncharacteristic obsession, attempted to subdue her and force the ring off of her hand. When he held her hand still and tried to pull the ring off, she became aggressive and violent, pushing back with a fury and strength his sister had never before displayed. In her rage, she unclenched her fist to push Tyrian down a staircase. As Tyrian fell away from his sister, the ring slipped off into his hand, and he fell violently down the stairs, clutching it.

With the ring off, Victoria managed to snap out of the spell, and ran down the stairs to save her brother... just as he took his last breath.

Distraught over what she'd done, she knelt by his side wondering how it could've happened like this. This wasn't like her, this was something different. "How could I? What am I going to tell everyone? How am I going to live with myself?" She felt something tug at the back of her dress. It was the doll.

"You won't need to worry about that. It's too late, both of you belong to me now, a-ha!" The rabbit's maniacal giggle echoed through the house as both Victoria and Tyrian both vanished into a dark smoke, and the ring fell to the floor with a clink. The doll picked it up, placed it on its own wrist as if it were a bracelet, and pranced and skipped down the hallway, chanting the same tune Victoria had a few moments before.

User ImageAntipathy Discussion Thread
In a high stone tower in the heart of a dark city, a pale prisoner lies, chained and dying. The man can no longer remember his name, his loved ones or his far away homeland; he's been driven mad by his hatred for the evil king who imprisoned him. In his last moments, he clutches a burnt wooden charm that hangs around his neck, and mutters words in a strange language. The charm begins to glow...

At the prisoner's incantation, a twisted shade slithers from the charm. "My name is Wraak, and I revenge," it whispers. "Like I, you are begot of hatred and suffering. Your body and soul are mine." The monster, with a kind of evil grace, slits the man's throat and seeps into the bleeding wound.
The prisoner's screams rattle the stones in the tower down to the ground, then abruptly quell. The jailer climbs the steps to investigate, and finds a man that is not a man. The demon stretches the prisoner's lips over his teeth. "I revenge."

In the castle's main hall, an unsuspecting royal court has gathered for a ball. The night is still young and the royal family has yet to make their appearance. A terrible rumbling in the walls rattles the stones it's made of, but neither that nor the distant screams of the castle's jailer are heard behind the music and lively chatter.

Just as the music hits a crescendo, the doors shriek open wide, startling the lords and ladies in their finest garb. Guards standing before the royal chambers ready their swords. Wraak, wearing the prisoner's body, lurks in the shadow just beyond the opened door. Its low and dark voice pervades throughout the hushed room, "I took his hands which locked the chains..."

"I will have the eyes of those who watched me bound and did nothing. I will take the innards of those who defend a cowardly man," growled Wraak as it took a few steps into the ballroom and into the light.

"I revenge."

The guards fall easily, the servants flee. The crash of metal and the desperate bark of combat carry along the curving halls to the royal chambers. Back there, out of sight of the battle, two people have halted, breaths hitching. The nineteen year old crown prince, the only child of the king, moves ahead of his mother, the queen. The sword he had donned for the ball is decorative, hardly effective against any enemy that could defeat the guards, but he readies it anyway. Far ahead, the strangled battle cries quiet, and the mother and son are shrouded in silence.

A rattling, then wet sounds, and then the heavy pitch of bone scraping on the smooth marble floors. It echos and the prince can feel the tiles tremble below his boots.

"Ah," the voice, quiet and clear, carries down the corridor. "The brave prince and noble queen. His bloodline, and his heart."

The mother and son quake as the shadow oozes into sight, dribbling syrupy blood and bits of meat from its teeth. The prince's sword clatters to the floor.

"I will devour them both."

At last, the sound carries to the deepest chambers. The King, grandly dressed in silks and furs, leaps to his feet at the shrill scream, a chill crawling up his spine. He shouts for guards and dives for his sword just as the door to his room bows inward and shatters to pieces with a horrifying crack. His heart freezes in his chest, his limbs like stone.

"My dear hunted," Wraak slips past the splintered wood as the scent of blood taints the air. The demon mockingly holds a hand to its chest. "This heart skips a beat at the sight of you."

"You..." the King sputters, eyes wide in recognition. "You, I thought you were dead. I locked you in the tower--"

"Twenty years ago. Yes. And as revenge, I have now killed much of your court, your men, your wife and your son." Wraak advances slowly. "And there is not one remaining to come to your aid." The King watches as the monster's face changes. He can see the prisoner-- the dead man-- peering out at him from someplace dark within his own body. "I came to this city to offer aid. Charms and potions and harmless spells. But you were afraid of my foreign magic." The dead man falters his steps, as if trying to pull his own body back, and failing. "You had only to ask, and I would have gone."

"It was witchcraft," the King replies, his face white. "You tell me you meant no harm, but now, look what you have done."

The dead man snarls. "I had only wanted to be a friend. Now all I can think of is my revenge. This is what you have done to me, King. This evil thing consumed me... as it has consumed this castle... and as it shall consume you."

"No--" The King collapses, bowing his head. "God, what are you? Forgive me. Oh please forgive me!" Wraak touches the King's head, almost kindly. Behind its eyes, the prisoner is gone. Only the monster remains. Smiling.

"I am Wraak," it whispers.

"I do not forgive."

User ImageModus Operandi Discussion Thread
Takes place in a faraway kingdom where a third princess has just been murdered. The local police working the case-- Officers Straw, Sticks, and Bricks-- are baffled. Serial homicide, in their little kingdom? They decide to call in help in the form of Detective Wolfe, an expert criminal profiler with an enormous file of known felons, and as the cops soon discover, an abnormally bad attitude.

Upon examining the scene and photos of the previous murders, Wolfe quickly discovers the connecting link: a scrawled "happily ever after" in the princess' blood. A clue to the motive, or the signature of a dangerous serial killer? Peculiar, the officers think, that no one saw these notes until Wolfe arrived on the scene. Meanwhile, Wolfe's presence in the kingdom attracts attention. Some local reporters take interest in documenting Wolfe's progress on the murders, promising to make the investigation even more difficult for the officers.

As Wolfe continues his investigation on the field, the police return to their station and begin to sort through Wolfe's index of killers, finding each one more horrifying than the last...

New developments in Modus Operandi have Officers Straw, Sticks, and Bricks opening up Wolfe's case file of serial killers and coming face to face with the first suspect, Rapunzel. Not much is known about her except hints of a troubled childhood and an overbearing mother who never let her out of the house. Her murder weapon appears to be her own long hair which she uses to strangle her victims to death. There have been samples of hair left on at least 22 victims in only a 3-year period. Aside from Rapunzel's distinctive long hair she is known to scale very tall towers and structures and has destroyed much of the skin from her hands and legs. It is not known at this time the motivation behind the killings but she seems to prefer young, handsome, well-to-do men.

User ImageRosamund's Revenge Discussion Thread
Is the tale of Princess Rosamund following her beloved Ciel's selfless death. She returned home to grieve, but palace life no longer held her interest. The rigidity of court protocol, the princess' ridiculous, constricting garments... That life was gone, and in its place a thirst for revenge grew ever stronger

With Rosamund fed up with her royal obligations and desperate to avenge Ciel's death. She cast off her mourning collar and powdered wig, revealing ruby red curls-- once her greatest vanity, trimmed short in tribute to her beloved. Rosamund fled the palace and stole away into the night, her dark cloak concealing a mysterious and mystical artifact...

With home far behind her, Rosamund steeled herself for the inevitable confrontation with Mephiste. Even in the darkness she could see his castle looming on the horizon, emanating an eerie red light, almost as if it desired to be found. Rosamund pressed on, knowing her fate lie in that dark lair. She had cast off her royal trappings and donned the garb of a hunter, draped all in shadows-- she would not back down. As she reached the castle, the silver moon emerged from behind a veil of cloud, glittering against Rosamund's ancient rose pin…

Deep in Mephiste's lair, Rosamund searched with increasing frustration for the devil she had come to destroy. The castle seemed deserted with no sign of Mephiste or his dark magic, but as she crept into the throne room, Rosamund saw something very strange indeed-- herself. Or rather, Mephiste. The doppelganger Rosamund grinned and curtsied in her princess gown.

"You were expecting something more... brutish? I thought this would be more to your taste. Or maybe..." Mephiste gestured over Rosamund's shoulder, and standing there was Ciel, bathed in a heavenly glow. She smiled softly; Rosamund could almost believe she was real.

"Isn't this your heart's desire?" Mephiste whispered. "I am desire, princess. Everything you want is here. Stay here with me, or try to escape?" She giggled. "Either way, you'll join your beloved. But I'd much rather keep you to myself."

Rosamund gazed for a moment into Ciel's eyes, and holding in her mind the vision she so longed for, she turned and plunged her ancient rose pin into Mephiste's heart. The demon shrieked as the dagger sank deeper, its blade growing into a razor sharp sword-- Aculeus, the royal family's sacred heirloom. Rosamund stumbled back and watched as Mephiste clawed desperately at the hilt.

"No," Rosamund said. "You will be alone, forever."

Mephiste's body, the illusion already fading, sank to the ground as clusters of red roses bound it from head to toe. Here it would be sealed for all eternity... or for however long the magic held.
Rosamund turned, but of course, Ciel was gone. Her far-away kingdom was safe, and Rosamund was alone. Mostly. Closing her eyes, she pictured her Ciel, smiling one last time. The image warmed her heart and... tickled her scalp? She touched her head and found that her shorn curls had been miraculously restored. Perhaps some unseen angel had blessed her.

User ImageGary's Island Adventure Discussion thread
This week, Gary finds himself clinging to life after a mysterious shipwreck...

Gary builds a crude raft (his first and only escape attempt) which promptly sinks... is he doomed to forever languish in his paradise prison?

A mix of island ingenuity and grim medical misfortune. Gary makes himself a nice hat, and then contracts a mild roundworm infection. Ha ha, make sure it cooks all the way through next time, Gary!

Gary's island adventure continues with two classy new poses, both foretold in the ancient texts by Old Pete: "Looks, uh, looks like Gary got hisself a new pair of coconut pants and a sea bird peckin' on his face." Well said, Old Pete! Nothing will fancy-up your wardrobe quite like an unruly gull attack or dazzling coconut pants.

Gary's Island Adventure continues, but it gets lonely out there on that island. Thanks to his new hairstyle, Gary's met a new local love interest! She's a bit hard-headed but sweet on the inside, and Gary's nuts for her.

With no rescue in sight, nobody to talk to, and no concept of what day it is or how long he's been marooned, Gary is hitting the makeshift tropical runway for the First Annual Gary's Island Adventure Sea Terrors Fashion Show! Meticulously assembled from living sea creatures are a gorgeous octo-wig, fashionable fish sandals, and a school of lobsters hanging off any available loose piece of skin. Those with an appreciation for the craft will be interested to know this entire look was constructed by Gary in complete silence-- aside from the occasional guttural squeal of discomfort when a lobster pinches a tender area, Gary hasn't used his voice in over a month!

Gary's island adventure continues, featuring more looks from his First Annual Sea Terrors Fashion Show! Next up on the runway-- a titillating sand dollar bikini, made with hand-smoothed dollars that won't chafe or irritate sensitive skin. Also making a showing is Gary's seagull bride, whose powerful beak and encouraging squawks were instrumental in forging Gary's new crab-based swimwear. Its durable shell protects Gary from errant fish nibbles and really brings out his eyes!

Gary noticed that the local government appeared to consist mainly of birds and rocks. Following a brief show of how far he can throw pebbles and how fast he can run, most of the birds flew off, leaving Gary in charge as the island's undisputed king-deity. Show respect for his glorious rule by donning this crown of bottles, seaweed cape, and fishbone scepter!

Judging by the signage, tools, and rudimentary monuments to himself, It looks like Gary survived on the island for a great many years, but we may never know how he met his end. Perhaps he passed away peacefully in his sleep, or valiantly in battle with a pelican. It could have also had something to do with the wasp nest he used as a pillow. Whatever the case, we'll miss you, old friend!

User ImagePrince of the Sea Discussion thread
The Prince of the Sea has set sail on a voyage to find his father, who was recently lost at sea. The only clue is a pendant, left behind by his father shortly before his disappearance...

The Prince of the Sea is quite surprised when a creature seems to be growing out of the pendant. Will it guide the prince to his father?

A year has passed since the Prince of the Sea tried to find his father and failed. The creature that hatched from the pendant has grown a little bigger and seems to sense something in the sea. Resuming their journey, the Prince sets off to the sea once again, with hopefully a clearer sense of their destination.

With still no lead on his father's whereabouts, the Prince of the Sea is losing hope. The crewmen are also growing weary of this expedition after another year has passed. However, the growing little creature looks out at the sea, believing a familiar presence is out there. The crew must remain strong, as their adventure has only just begun.

After another year on treacherous waters, the Prince of the Sea had enough combat training to become part of the crew. However, a sudden turn of events occurred-- as they were approaching an uncharted island, several crewman suddenly dropped dead on the ship. And when they held a funeral at sea, they vowed to find the cause of their deaths. The creature spouted yellow sparks from its tail, sensing the danger on that island…

The Prince of the Sea and his crew fought a long battle with mysterious ships that appeared as they moved closer to the island. It seems that something on that island was trying to prevent them from landing. Unfortunately, having nearly exhausted their supplies and manpower, they were forced to retreat back. As they finally reached land, their creature grew into some sort of sea serpent. And later that night, the prince dreamt of the sea serpent, who whispered that what they seek was not on the island, but underneath it...

Fully stocked and recovered, Prince of the Sea's crew once again heads back out to the island. In the middle of their journey, the sea serpent undergoes an unusual transformation. Its blue fabric like fin wraps its entire body as it falls into a slumber state. What will become of it as they reach the mysterious island?

The Prince of the Sea and his men finally managed to land on the mysterious island without any more ill occurrences. They searched for clues of the prince's father until one of the men spotted a stone slab on a cliff. They rushed to the slab, only to be heartbroken by their discovery. His father's name was faintly inscribed on the stone-- they were too late. Other graves were soon discovered one after another as they walked down the flowery trail. After they mourned the loss of their captain and fellow friends, the crew returned to the ship to prepare for their journey home. The prince retired to his quarter and stared at the locket that his father had left him. There must be a reason why his father led him to this island.

"What they seek was not on the island, but underneath it..." echoed in his mind.

Prince of the Sea continues evovling around a legend of an enormous, disfigured beast living deep underwater. Its origin isn't known, but tales of such a monster lurking beneath the surface have circulated since the earliest sea voyages across Gaia. It is said to be a merman, vile and twisted, who had tasted the flesh of his own kind. Growing stronger, annihilating and consuming entire clans, and flying into fits of rage when its preferred source of strength-- his own kind-- became scarce. The story goes on to suggest that many sailing ships carrying Gaians were also lost to the great beast, though that's never been confirmed by any credible source. It is now said to lie in wait under an abandoned island once populated by the merpeople, anticipating the day an errant descendant of those he consumed would come in search of answers.

It's been over a year since the Prince had rescued the merpeople's Princess from the Mermaid Eater. She and the Prince have formed a unique bond as they sailed the vast Gaian oceans. The Prince has taken her hand in marriage, and the pair continues their quest, looking for survivors scattered across the seas.

User ImageDaughter of the Snows Discussion thread
In the Northern Kingdom, the people are accustomed to long harsh winters followed by brilliant bursts of spring. However, winter has lasted for years with no end in sight and there are no clues as to where spring has gone. When word reaches the kingdom that the answer lies further north in the jagged mountains, the king sends a contingent with his daughter, Princess Sashenka, in charge. Not only is she the beloved heir to the throne, but she is also the kingdom's most brilliant mind.

Sashenka has been traveling north for days, adding layers of fur as the weather gets colder and colder. One day she spots another group of travelers and is surprised to find her cousin Dima among them. He has been leading a hunting party and was on his way back to the palace. When he learns of her quest, he insists on going with her. Sashenka finds her young cousin to be brash and conceited, but cannot deny his hunting skills so she allows him to join.

Daughter of the Snows forges on in the face of a perpetual deep freeze. Temperatures continue to drop as Sashenka and Dima go further north towards the mountains. Up here it's obvious the extent of the damage that years of winter have done to the land and its peoples. One morning, the pair spots a pure white stag among the snowdrifts. It stares back with intelligent eyes. Dima sees the chance for a gorgeous new trophy on his wall and draws his sword, but the stag bolts. Dima sets off after it, and Sashenka comes along-- not for a trophy, but because she thinks it may know something.

After giving chase to a mysterious white deer, Sashenka and Dima finally
corner the intelligent beast at the base of the mountain. Dima moves in to make the kill, but
Sashenka wrestles the sword away from him. Sitting on the ground, exhausted and in tears, the
great stag approaches her and stares directly into her eyes. Its enormous, bright blue eyes with
magnificent swirling tendrils throughout its irises stared deeply. Without warning, and as if the
thought weren't her own, Sashenka now knew the secret of the endless winter. Her parents,
desperate for a child, had prayed for and received a daughter made of snow-- the winter had
been necessary to keep her alive since her birth. With a final thought and a tear, Sashenka
asks the animal to return the seasons to normal. It nods, and Sashenka and Dima begin the
walk home for a final farewell.

User ImageTrilune's Covenant Discussion thread
When life brings you down, sometimes you need guidance. So what do you do? You pick up your amethyst crystal pendulum and start searching for answers. By clearing and relaxing your mind, you rely on your subconscious to move the pendulum, unlocking the power within.

A maiden appears before you. A representation of both youth and enchantment, she promises you new beginnings as the night is still young and encourages you to never give up-- even when life presents to you its darkest moments.

As you progress further with Trilune's Covenant, you are visited by the mother: a symbol of stability, power and protection. She advises you to stay on path towards your goal until the end, for that sense of fulfillment is a feeling worth aiming for.

User ImageRuncible Spoon
This week, our young lovers prepared to cast off their old lives as desperate singletons and set out on the grand journey of love. They took with them only the stylish clothes on their backs-- well, maybe a few other things. Owl, a pretty smooth guy, brought along his mandolin, while the practical Pussycat remembered to bring her purse and a dainty scarf to ward off the autumn chill.

This week, Owl and Pussycat hopped on their antique bicycle and pedaled out to the shore for a mini-break, where they picnicked on mince pie and stewed quince jam. Pussycat wore her best leather booties and warm lace leggings, while Owl wore tall riding boots to protect his linen trousers-- should he find himself down on one knee, that is...

This week, Owl and Pussycat finally tied the knot! After Owl presented his lovely lady with a shining gold ring, Pussycat treated herself to some freshly tinted fringe at the Piggywig Salon. It wasn't long before the stylish sweethearts stood side by side at the altar, dressed in vintage wedding attire, gazing into each other's beautiful eyes... and inevitably stuffed themselves with cake. Congratulations!

User ImageRavenwood Manor
Mathilde reluctantly enters the foyer of Ravenwood Manor and is overwhelmed by a rotting smell. She then spots an elaborately framed family portrait to her left. The figure seems very familiar to her but it's hard to make out the details with layers of grime coating the painting. As she turns around she swears that the portrait's eyes move. Frightened, she dashes into the first room on her right which appears to be a gentleman's study...

In the parlor of Ravenwood Manor, Mathilde feels as if someone-- or something-- is watching her and rushes out of the room. She hears a voice whispering her name and follows it up the manor's grand staircase. As the lone light in the hallway flickers on and off, she sees a gruesome pile of old medical instruments, stained and rusted with blood. The whispering is coming from a room at the end of the hallway, but a door to her left catches her attention. Somehow it seems oddly familiar...

Deep in the heart of Ravenwood Manor, Mathilde finds herself in a ballroom and standing across from her with an evil grin is Mr. Jackdaw. In a flash, all her memories come flooding back to her; a happy childhood with loving parents at Ravenwood-- until the handsome and charming Mr. Jackdaw shows up. He gains her parent’s trust and then with no warning-- murders them with his pet ravens while Mathilde watches, causing her to lose her memories.

Mathilde is overwhelmed with the rush of emotions and memories after 10 years of emptiness. Suddenly, with a snap of Jackdaw’s fingers, a raven darts toward her and pecks the soul from her body. However, Mathilde does not die-- because Jackdaw is actually in love with her-- and she's trapped as Ravenwood Manor’s mistress...forever.

"Welcome home Mathilde", he says. "By the way... all my friends call me Mephiste".

User ImageCustom Cut
For their first challenge on Custom Cut, the contestants are told they have to reinvent the classic sweater. Luka finds this challenge very fitting because when he was a young boy, the first piece of clothing he ever designed was a sweater. His precious design is now full of holes and held together by duct tape, but he still finds it very inspirational.

Luka has made it through the first round on Custom Cut with his handmade asymmetrical sweater. The next challenge will have the contestants updating yet another classic piece into a sexier and edgier show-stopper. But first it's time to pick out fabrics at the famous Attitude fabric shop! Luka grabs his lucky hat and begins round 2...

Luka made it past the second challenge with his skirt design. For the final round, each contestant must sew an outfit for both men and women to go down the runway. The model's styling will play a big part in choosing the final winner, so Luka confers with the hair stylist on the look he's going for.

The most critical moment of Custom Cut is upon us with its finale episode. Time to select the winner! Luka holds his breath as they announce... SOMEONE ELSE'S NAME? Looks like they chose the other contestant simply because their clothes are going to be easier to produce to the masses. Oh well, 2nd place isn't bad-- it’s a great opportunity for a spin-off show. As Luka starts to walk out of the studio, he turns around and declares, "This won't be the last you'll see of Luka LaGrand. I didn't come here to make friends!”

User ImageSainte Ciel: Agape
Ciel is a beautiful young sister who spends her days ensconced in a convent, quietly praying. She is gentle and kind, but her past is shrouded in mystery. When news of Princess Rosamund's kidnapping reaches the convent, Ciel spends many sleepless nights praying for the princess' safety, lighting candles in the empty sanctuary... what could inspire such unrelenting devotion?

Sister Ciel received a letter from Rosamund's father, the king, asking Ciel to once again take up her sword and rescue the princess from the clutches of the evil and mysterious Mephiste. Could it be that Ciel has a secret past as a warrior? Along with the Paladin's Crest, Ciel arms herself with a shining silver sword, and with it, cuts off her flowing hair as a sign of selfless devotion.

This week we saw Sainte Ciel set out on her noble journey, donning the shimmering armor of her true profession-- a magnificent hero! An armored skirt compliments shining heeled boots. And, depending on Ciel's path, she further outfits herself in puffed armored sleeves or the crest of a warrior. But the breastplate doesn't offer much... protection? No matter! The power of love is all Ciel needs to rescue her sweet princess.

At long last, Ciel stormed into Mephiste's enigmatic black lair, the light of love guiding her through the darkness... but Mephiste had no intention of letting the little princess escape alive. As a cursed rose shot out of the shadows, Ciel pushed Rosamund away, allowing her own heart to be pierced. Holy light filled the chamber and Mephiste fled from its purity. The princess was finally safe-- but at a great price. Weeping, Rosamund gave one last kiss to Ciel's lips, softly smiling, but already cold. "Your sacrifice shall not be in vain," the princess vowed, and with Ciel's holy blade, cut off her long curls. "I will fight the darkness in your memory, my Sainte Ciel."

User ImageSainte Ciel: Eros
Ciel is a beautiful young sister who spends her days ensconced in a convent, quietly praying. She is gentle and kind, but her past is shrouded in mystery. When news of Princess Rosamund's kidnapping reaches the convent, Ciel spends many sleepless nights praying for the princess' safety, lighting candles in the empty sanctuary... what could inspire such unrelenting devotion?

Meanwhile, Sainte Ciel: Eros receives a cryptic message from the stolen princess-- her own rose signet ring and a lock of her hair. Such an intimate parcel can only mean that Rosamund wishes for Ciel alone to rescue her. Ciel braids the scarlet curls into her own, that token of Rosamund's affection filling her with determination and ardor. She will take up her ebony blade and rescue the princess from her captor, no matter what the cost may be.

This week we saw Sainte Ciel set out on her noble journey, donning the shimmering armor of her true profession-- a magnificent hero! An armored skirt compliments shining heeled boots. And, depending on Ciel's path, she further outfits herself in puffed armored sleeves or the crest of a warrior. But the breastplate doesn't offer much... protection? No matter! The power of love is all Ciel needs to rescue her sweet princess.

With the thrill of victory burning in her bosom, Ciel raced to her beloved princess's aid. But what was this? The princess was alone and unharmed. In fact, she seemed to have made herself at home in Mephiste's keep... "My sweet Ciel," she cooed, "You have done so well. Now, with your sword and my magic, we will at last rule this land..." As Rosamund wrapped her arms around her, Ciel sensed for a moment the dark spirit lurking behind the princess's eyes, but a sinister spell quickly enveloped her senses in a sweet haze...Ciel smiled. "Yes, my princess and I...Together...Forever..."

User ImageCase of Pietro
The Case of Pietro is soon coming to a close: At the end of the day, the detective arrests the only guy left alive-- the thief, who claims ignorance of the whole plot. After a lengthy interrogation, an astounding discovery is made: Pietro's body has vanished, and all evidence of the murder has gone missing... including the Case and its mysterious contents. With no evidence left of a crime, the detective is reluctantly forced to close the case-- however, there appears to be a little more of the story left to tell...

User ImageMaster Alchemist
Every Master Alchemist begins as a lowly apprentice. This week, an aspiring student finds a scroll containing arcane recipes. The first experiments succeed, but the road to being a Master Alchemist is never easy; who knows what the future holds for this occult acolyte!

Our Master Alchemist opens the scroll to see what sort of recipe he's found-- wow, it's a tough one! He should probably start with something easier, but... nah. Time to get his exploring gear on, because he'll need a few components before he can even attempt this high-level recipe.

Having successfully gathered all the necessary ingredients, our Master Alchemist returned to complete the difficult formula. Time to put on some appropriate alchemy garb and get started...

The Master Alchemist has reached his final stage! Amazingly, he was able to craft the formula he found successfully! Well, he had imagined the wings would be bigger, but he can't be too disappointed for his first time. The crafting has transformed him and he feels strangely more powerful. An alchemical mark has appeared above one eye and the tips of his hair have changed color. He feels very hopeful for the future....
User ImageMystery of the Stolen Sapphires Discussion thread
Countess Fleur awakens one morning to find her antique dressing table in disarray.
Looks like someone went through her belongings during the night and STOLE her most precious jewelry!
As a widow alone in a huge mansion, she decides to take it upon herself and investigate this wrongdoing.

In Mystery of the Stolen Sapphires The Countess thinks she's found some clues in her bedroom. She has no idea what they mean but she's determined to find out. But wait-- what's that noise? It sounds like the chauffeur is tinkering around in the garage. Dressing in haste, the Countess goes to confront him.

The Mystery of the Stolen Sapphires continues! The Countess finds her chauffeur in the garage and promptly questions him on his whereabouts last night, and if he'd been inside the main house. The chauffeur responds that he had been asleep in his bed all night, and that he woke up early in the morning to test drive the new car, but came back quickly because he was missing a glove and it made his steering uneven. Besides, he has no access to the house, as he resides above the garage. The Countess gives a suspicious glare but decides to question the other members of her staff before coming to any conclusions.

No major breaks in the Mystery of the Stolen Sapphires, though the plot continues to thicken. The Countess finds her cook in the kitchen, covered in flour. The cook claims to have woken up early to bake bread, and had not heard or seen anything all night. Exiting to the foyer, the Countess nearly collides with her butler on his way down from the grand staircase; he too had been up early this morning, inspecting the west wing rooms which were tragically covered in a 3-inch layer of dust! Everyone seems suspiciously busy, but there's still one staff member to interview before jumping to any conclusions.

A dramatic end to the Mystery of the Stolen Sapphires! After interrogating her maid, the Countess reaches a conclusion. She rushes to the servant's quarters, and finds all her staff talking in low voices around a small table that holds a pile of her jewelry! Her suspicions confirmed, she rushes back to call the police. It turns out the chauffeur and cook were having a secret affair, for it was she who let him into the mansion early in the morning to steal the jewels. Unbeknownst to the couple, the maid, a recovering kleptomaniac, snuck into the Countess's room a few minutes later and couldn't help herself when she saw the sapphires. Soon after, the butler slipped into the room via the hidden passage to steal the last of the jewels... after all doesn't he deserve a raise? The thieves met later that day; amused that they had all committed the crime on the same morning, they decided to evenly divide the jewels and make a run for it. The Countess, who had always been meek and shy, was so proud of herself for her quick actions that she decided her mourning period was over and saw her staff led out in handcuffs from the mansion in her finest dress... and of course all the stolen jewels.

User ImageThe Watchmaker
Bleary-eyed from working through the night, The Watchmaker is finally finished with his latest creation. A delicate, golden pocketwatch: truly is his greatest work! Just as he's about to head out for some much-needed rest, he hears a loud clicking-- it's the familiar sound of gears turning, and it's coming from the watch! This is most unusual as he has yet to activate the mechanism. The room starts to shimmer...

Following the bizarre ticking coming from inside the watch, a pair of dark wings sprouts, seemingly from nowhere. The watch flies out of the Watchmaker's hands, vibrating and fluttering around madly as time breaks apart and he catches glimpses of the past, present and future.

The watch's powers have transformed The Watchmaker. As all of time is laid out before his eyes, he feels the obligation to be it's watcher, it's guardian, it's... Time Master. As he assumes his new role, the timepiece he created takes on its final form.

User ImageLittle Lucie
This week, we have a pretty tea party with Little Lucie.

Little Lucie's girlish owner came of age this week with a charming birthday party, complete with a cute party frock and lots of expensive gifts. Lucie didn't seem too happy with the new kittens, though... Today, the little girl evolves into a coquettish young lady and trades in her dollies for powdered pink curls and a cameo blush compact.

Little Lucie's owner has been afflicted by a host of mysterious injuries and an empty, listless gaze has replaced her usually sunny disposition. But this is no ordinary teenage malaise! Lucie has finally found a way for she and her beloved owner to be together... forever...

User ImageMineiro Scroll
Curious about the scroll's cryptic message, you decide to search for the location mentioned in it, which seems to be somewhere deep underground. But first, you prepare for the journey by gathering supplies and equipment, including a pack to carry all your gear.

The mysterious Mineiro Scroll will be leading you on a long and perilous journey, so you'd better prepare. This week, you pick up a few vital items: a shoulder guard and utility belt to protect you from danger, plus some comfortable boots for the long trek ahead.

This week, the real journey begins in Mineiro Scroll. Armed with a weapon, you set off to explore the abandoned mine that you believe is your destination. However, signs of life in the tunnels suggest that something was-- or still is-- inside...

After barely making it through the ancient traps set deep within the mine, you finally make it to the treasure room, where old columns from days past are draped with gold and jewels. You make off with as much loot as you can carry and grab some shiny new gear, then set off for your next adventure.

User ImageVivacenote
You encounter a traveler on a road and he offers to tell you a story-- a story about life, love and loss.

not knowing what to do with his lonely life, our weary traveler takes to the streets to sing somber ballads to neighborhood cats. The bond between our hero and his new feline friends grows so strong that he decides to devote his life to caring for them.

This week, the lonely traveler continues to roam the streets singing his somber songs. A woman approaches him and offers him a flower to cheer him up.

The flower girl requests a duet with our travelling hero, and a magical spark grows between them as they perform together. Has the wanderer found his true purpose in life?

The spectators watch in awe as the wandering traveler plays his song and the dancer moves gracefully to the notes. Our hero asks the dancer to join him as he tours the world, but she politely refuses-- as she vanishes into the crowd, the asks the traveler to remember her always and sing a happier tune.

User ImageGalactic Soldier
Prepare to heavily arm yourself as you have been set out to battle against an invasion that threatens mankind.

The intrepid Galactic Soldier continues to patrol the limits of civilized space, watching for hostile aliens and the horrors of the nether systems. To prepare, he's been equipped with a new helmet and power gloves for better protection and alien-smashing.

Invaders had better beware, because the Galactic Soldier has been issued a deadly new firearm this week, and it's time for some sci-fi carnage.

The Galactic Soldier has defeated a fanged space beast with some well placed strokes from his gruesome toothed axe. The people of the outer systems will sleep easier tonight knowing this menace is dead.

With explosions all around, our triumphant soldier stands in badass battle armor before a backdrop of pure annihilation. Having defeated the alien hordes, our hero triumphantly waves a flag.
off to a slow start updating the stories. Forgive me. I haven't had much time for Gaia lately.
Anywho, the Modus Operandi EI starting story is up.
The Watchmaker, Little Lucie, Mineiro Scroll, Vivacnote, and Galactic Soldier's stories have been added
Modus Operandi story updated
thread updated with Wisteria & Antipathy's story
Polar Tear story added
Polar Tear story updated with part 2 & 3

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