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Silas looked into his vanity mirror, sucking in his cheeks and then letting them out as Al listened to his breathing.  He had changed a lot since he had come to the guild.  He looked… healthier, somehow.  Was it his hair?  It wasn’t falling out at such an alarming rate anymore.  His skin?  He still looked quite pale, but perhaps less so.  He gently slapped his cheeks and turned his face from once side to another.

“Al, do you think I’ve put on weight?” he asked.

She scoffed and put her stethoscope away.  “It’s better this way.”

Of course she would know.  She was a doctor.  He mentally slapped himself.  “How many pounds?”

“It’s not important—you look better.  Stand up,” she instructed.  

Silas crossed his arms, frowning.  “I’m not so vain as all that,” he said.

Al raised an eyebrow at him.  “You are pretty vain.  Now stand up.”

Silas hopped off the bed, his arms still crossed.  Humans…  They never understood the subtleties of the long game of which he was an overseer.  “It isn’t vanity—it’s my living.  I have to ingratiate myself into a crowd that values appearance.”

“So you put on makeup and frills and you flirt with anyone with two legs?”

Silas sighed and uncrossed his arms.  “Look.  I know we haven’t been the best of friends—” he began, but Al cut him off.

“Oh, drop the act for just one second, I beg you.”  She sighed and rolled her eyes.  “Who am I kidding?  That act is probably all you have.  Put one foot directly in front of the other and walk in a straight line.”

His heart sank.  Did it really seem like that much of an act?  Not that it wasn’t; he had admitted that to himself long ago.  But it worked for him.  In some circles of society, at least.  He sighed and shrugged.  This wasn’t one of those circles.  It was time to try to make nice.  “I really do want you to like me.  Not that I won’t go on living if you don’t—let’s be honest, it’s not like you’re going to outlive me.  But… I feel like I’ve let you down.  And I don’t normally care about such things.  I’ve been around for a very long time, and few people actually impress upon me the desire for friendship, or at least a better relationship than spewing caustic remarks at each other.  I’ve known too many of those, and I don’t doubt there will be many more if I’m to remain in high society.  But not you.  I don’t want that from you.”

Al tilted her head slightly, her eyebrows drawn together in confused yet heartfelt emotion.  Her shoulders fell, and she smiled at him for the first time since he’d been here.  Oh gods, he thought, what if her obsession with me is even worse now…?  He looked at the floor and put one foot in front of the other in a straight line, hoping his face wasn’t as flushed as it felt and then remembering that it wouldn’t matter anyway because it was covered in talcum powder.

She put a hand on his shoulder from behind and he stopped dead in his tracks.  Sighing, she took her hand from his shoulder, and he turned around to see that her eyes had gotten red.  She sniffed and turned away.  Who’s the vain one now?  He thought, but chastised himself—almost every human had this reaction when crying in public.  That didn’t mean it wasn’t at least slightly vain, but at least it was socially acceptable to be vain this way.

“I’m sorry I called you vain,” she said quietly.  “I just don’t understand why you wear makeup and jewelry, and all those frilly silk clothes.  You’re a man—people treat men differently than women.  So why do you dress like one?”

Silas threw his braid over his shoulder, frowning.  Forgive me for not looking manly enough for you, he thought angrily, then took a deep breath and relaxed his face.  “I tried to play up my masculinity for a while.  I got in fights, shaved my hair, wore a false beard…  I wore rough clothing and I even wore stilts for a while, just to look more manly.  Turns out it just made me look even more ridiculous.  I wear makeup and jewelry because it looks good on me.  I’ve learned to work with my face and my slight frame rather than against it just for the sake of societal norms.”

She sighed and nodded, turning to face him, tears and snot running down her face.  Wiping her eyes with her kerchief, she sniffled.  “Would you… would you like to eat dinner with me?  I would really like it if you would take your makeup off—we could eat in my office, if you would feel more comfortable.”

He bit his lip and looked everywhere but her eyes, his heart beginning to race.

“It’s just that,” she went on, “I would like to talk to you…  It seems I should get to know you better, that’s all.”

He hadn’t realized he’d been tensing his shoulders.  Drawing in a breath, he faced her.  “Alright.  Dinner.  And… and no makeup.  On one condition.”

“What’s that?”

“Next time, I’m taking you out somewhere nice, and you’re going to wear a dress and we’ll both be wearing makeup.”

“Ugh!  N—!  Y—!”

Silas crossed his arms and raised his chin as she waved a finger in his face.  After sputtering out a few more letters, she relaxed with a sigh.

“Fine.”

Silas turned to the washbasin and splashed some water on his face, scrubbing with the towel until no more color would wash off.  Finally, he dried his face and turned around.  She smiled and held up his small hand mirror that he kept in his dresser.

“Look—you look much better,” she said.

He took the mirror and put it face down on his bed without even a glance.  “No thank you.  I’ve seen it plenty, and it doesn’t impress me.”

“Hmph.  Well come on, let’s go to my office.  There’s a bell in there that lets me order food to be brought in.”

Feeling unspeakably naked, Silas walked over to his dresser and put on his deep-hooded cloak, pulling the hood over his head.

“Oh, take that off, you don’t look bad,” she said.

“If it all the same, I’d rather keep it on until we get to your office.”

Al crossed her arms and tapped her foot, standing for several moments as though expecting him to cave.  He didn’t.

“Fine.  Come on.”

He followed her to the door, but when she pulled it open, dread washed over him.  “Wait, what if Desta sees me like this?  She’ll never let me hear the end of it!”

“Oh, don’t be silly.  She’s probably in the inventor’s lab anyway.”

He took several deep breaths to calm his heart.  She was probably right.

As they walked through the guildhall and out the side door, he could feel their eyes on him, and he pulled his hood down further until all he could see was the floor beneath him.  Al didn’t try to take it off, but he could hear her scoff.

Finally, they made it outside, and he lowered his hood.  As soon as he could see in front of him, he spotted her: There was Desta, coming toward the guildhall at a jaunty canter.  He scrambled for his hood, but she’d already seen him.

“Hey-o, Risal.  Hey, Alfred,” she said, waving as she passed them.  Al froze and turned around.

“I told you, it’s Al!”

Desta turned around, her thumbs in her ears, and blew a raspberry, then disappeared into the guildhall, closing the door behind her.  Silas, dumbstruck that she hadn’t commented on his lack of makeup, stared after her.  Al made a noise of disgust and rolled her eyes.

“Why does she do that?  I’ve told her not to call me that.  Does she not like me?”

Silas shook his head to clear it.  “Oh, she does that to everyone.  Haven’t you noticed?  She never calls me Silas.”

“Hmph.”

They walked in silence to her office.  Silas’s head was still spinning—had she not noticed?  Was she that disconnected from reality?  Or did she simply not care enough to tease him?  Did she finally respect him?  He doubted that greatly, but there was always a chance.  Several nurses greeted them as they walked past, but no one interrupted their journey, and finally they reached Al’s office.  It was lined with books, just like every other building in this place, but there was one open wall where there hung several pictures—past graduates of their college, he noted.

The chair across from her desk wasn’t uncomfortable at all, but he felt awkward with the desk in between the two of them, like he was being interrogated.  He shifted in the seat, but didn’t care to say anything about this.  Instead, he sighed, thinking of her end of that transaction with Desta.

“You… you really hate your given name, don’t you.”

“Tch.  What do you think?  Do you know how confused I was as a child?  My parents kept telling me I was their son, and they treated me like a boy.  They cut my hair, made me wear breeches, and when I started getting… when I started becoming a young woman, they bound my chest until I couldn’t breathe.”  Silas cringed.  No wonder she had such trouble understanding his style choice….  “Then you came along—your drugs anyway—and they squandered everything.  Sold every single thing of value and then sold the rest.  We moved to Lockhorn, where we could actually afford to go on owning a home… but I got sick.  My legs began to shrivel, and my parents disowned me, finally telling me that I was a girl and that they had never—”  She began to choke up, and Silas’s eyebrows drew together.  “That they had never wanted me.”

It was as though she’d driven a stake through his chest.  He drew in a deep breath and covered his face—this was at least partly his doing.  He had met with her parents once at a party and had determined that they were not fit for rulership of even the small town they oversaw, so he had decided they would be better off out of the way.  He’d heard of their son—their daughter, apparently—but he hadn’t thought much of it until just now.  After all, he had very little concern for such small-picture things as individual people.  But now… here he was, faced with what he’d done.

Al had begun to sob.  His sigh heavy with guilt, Silas stood and walked around the desk to comfort her.

“You know,” he said, thinking fast, “if you wanted… I could call you Alexandria.  Just between us.”

She sniffled and looked up at him.  Her face was red, her eyes bloodshot, but she still managed to look cautiously hopeful and relieved.  “I…  I don’t know…”  She rubbed her nose.  “Really?”

“I think Alexandria is a lovely name,” he said.  “And it would give us a code word in case there was any doubt of my identity.”

She laughed bitterly, then began to sob again.  His clothes got wetter and wetter as she cried, but he just patted her shoulder and let her go on until she’d finally finished.  “I think…” she said.  “That would be really nice.”
Alexandria (Trigger warning)
TRIGGER WARNING: Dysphoria, child abuse

idek man, this will probably be in book 2?? Maybe??
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I know school is out right now in most places, but I want to get this out there before the start of the next school year.

I AM OPENING AN ALL-HOURS EDITING BUSINESS!!

  • Need help coming up with a topic?
  • Got a paper due tomorrow, but don’t have time to make sure everything looks alright?
  • Not sure how to properly cite your references both in-text and on the works cited page?
  • Need help making it longer?

Send it on over!  

I have a bachelor’s degree in English, and have professionally edited every level of paper, from high school to post-graduate.

Send me an email for my rates: righterwriter@gmail.com

I know how hard it is to have every assignment suddenly due all at the same time, and I want to help alleviate that!  I’m here to help, no matter what grade/year you’re in!

PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG SO THAT LOTS OF PEOPLE WILL HAVE SEEN THIS BY THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR!!

It wasn’t every day that Otto let people enter the Music Wing.  That was why it caused a bit of a hubbub when Silas was allowed to go inside, and even more of a hubbub when people heard music issuing from behind the door a short while later.  Nearby guild members began to crowd around just to listen, and in short order, dozens of people were pressing against the door and squeezing around each other to hear what was going on.

When Nick saw the commotion, he stopped in his tracks, joining the throng around the closed door.  It didn’t take long for him to realize why they were there.  From the other side of the door, sprightly harp music wafted like a spring breeze, and after a short instrumental solo, Nick heard someone singing along, a bright tune in a language he didn’t recognize—he couldn’t hear it well enough from where he was, but he knew it wasn’t English.  The singer’s voice was clear and lovely, and much too feminine to be Otto’s.  Intrigued, Nick tried to get closer to the door, but the person in front of him would not budge.  Neither of them wanted to make a sound lest the music cease, but Nick tried to elbow the man in front of him away from the door so he could hear better.  The other man elbowed him back, and the people around them started shushing the two of them, so Nick backed off, still miffed.

Eventually, the song segued into a new one, and the harp slowed down to a more somber rhythm.  It was shortly joined by the sound of a piano.  Looks of excitement were exchanged, and more people stopped to listen.

“Who is that in there with Otto?” Nick asked quietly.

“Risal the Seer,” replied the man with whom he’d just had a scrap.

“You mean Silas?  That’s him singing?”

“Shh!  Yes.”

And just as he said that, Silas’s voice once more accompanied the instrumentals, a much slower song than the one before.  Something about it tugged at Nick’s heart, even though he couldn’t understand what the song was about—there was a deep sadness to it that filled Nick with longing, though for what he couldn’t say.

Just then, Otto’s baritone voice joined Silas’s high tenor, but stopped just as soon as it started, and the piano stopped as well.  This didn’t seem to bother Silas, for he kept singing, and a few moments later, Otto joined him again, and the piano began once more.
“What’s goin’ on?” asked Desta’s voice, and several people shushed her.  Looking put off, she held her hands up in defense and came closer.  When she realized what everyone was listening to, her eyebrows shot up.  “Is that—”

Nick nodded at her and put a finger to his lips.  After what seemed much too short a time, the music came to a stop.  People quickly and quietly abandoned the door, lest the two of them find out they had such a large audience, but Desta did not budge.  Nick caught her elbow and tried to get her to leave, but she shrugged him off.

“That was lovely, and I wanna tell them.”

“Come on, we weren’t even supposed to be listenin—”  Nick said, but just then, the door swung open and Silas and Otto stopped dead in their tracks at seeing the two of them and the couple of other stragglers standing outside the door.  Silas didn’t seem at all shocked, but Otto turned bright red and backed away, ducking his head and trying to close the door.  Silas didn’t try to stop him from hiding.

“Well!” he said, smiling slightly.  “It seems we attracted an audience!”

“There’s a lot of things you en’t good at, but singin’s not one of ‘em,” said Desta, nodding.  Nick’s stomach dropped at the comment, but Silas started laughing, and Nick cheered up in spite of his embarrassment.

“And here I was worried I’d gotten rusty!  Especially at the harp—I don’t suppose you heard the mistakes?” he asked.

“Nah, I just caught the end of yer little concert.”

“Well that’s good, anyway,” said Silas.  Nick cleared his throat.

“I didn’t uh… hear any mistakes,” he said.

“What a relief,” said Silas, patting Otto’s back.  “He’s kept the instruments in wonderful condition.”

Otto mumbled something from behind the door, and the smile on Silas’s face made Nick think it must have been something like “thank you”.

“In any case,” Silas said.  “I have other things to do, and I’m certain you all do, as well.  Good day!”  And with that, he patted Otto on the back once more and slipped away toward the third-floor staircase.  Otto slinked back into the music room and shut the door.

Nick and Desta exchanged a look.

“Well, uh… I’ve got to uh…”

“Me too,” said Desta, and with a salute, she headed off.  Nick glanced at the music room once more and then continued toward the front door.
I know school is out right now in most places, but I want to get this out there before the start of the next school year.

I AM OPENING AN ALL-HOURS EDITING BUSINESS!!

  • Need help coming up with a topic?
  • Got a paper due tomorrow, but don’t have time to make sure everything looks alright?
  • Not sure how to properly cite your references both in-text and on the works cited page?
  • Need help making it longer?

Send it on over!  

I have a bachelor’s degree in English, and have professionally edited every level of paper, from high school to post-graduate.

Send me an email for my rates: righterwriter@gmail.com

I know how hard it is to have every assignment suddenly due all at the same time, and I want to help alleviate that!  I’m here to help, no matter what grade/year you’re in!

PLEASE PASS THIS ALONG SO THAT LOTS OF PEOPLE WILL HAVE SEEN THIS BY THE NEXT SCHOOL YEAR!!

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righterwriter
Sarah
Artist | Student | Literature
United States
I have been writing since I was in 4th grade. I am currently a senior pursuing a bachelor's degree in English with the intent of becoming an author. In the mean time, I plan to edit for a magazine, newspaper, or other company or firm.

I have taught English in a variety of settings, and have had the opportunity to ghost write with a group of writers and illustrators. Currently I work on-campus tutoring English until I graduate next fall.

I have been crocheting since I was six years old, and have been making my own patterns since I was seven. I love what I do, and I rarely turn down a challenge.

Now taking commissions!
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:iconxxdraxx:
xxdraxx Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2014  Student Artist
Hey~~

Just wanted to thank you for the fave!

Also, since I'm currently focusing on music, I was wondering if you'd be interested in supporting me in that endeavor of mine?

If you are, I can link you to where you can find that stuff!
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:iconrighterwriter:
righterwriter Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2014  Student Writer
Sorry, I don't have any money.  But I really liked the poem! ^_^
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:iconxxdraxx:
xxdraxx Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2014  Student Artist
You misunderstand :P I'm just looking for what people think.
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:iconrighterwriter:
righterwriter Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2014  Student Writer
^^; But I don't have money to buy it.  I mean, I'd love to listen to it if you have samples.  I love music.  ouo
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(1 Reply)
:iconrunawynd:
Runawynd Featured By Owner Aug 29, 2013
Happy bday, hon! :squee: :party:
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:iconrighterwriter:
righterwriter Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2013  Student Writer
Aww, you're sweet! (she says, a month later)  Sorry! ^^;
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:iconmikacosplay:
Mikacosplay Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2013  Student Photographer
thanks for the fav^^ :heart:
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:iconrighterwriter:
righterwriter Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2013  Student Writer
You're welcome. :)
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:iconproofrockpilchard:
ProofrockPilchard Featured By Owner Apr 11, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thank you for the fav. :)
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:iconrighterwriter:
righterwriter Featured By Owner Apr 12, 2013  Student Writer
You're welcome! :)
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