Monday, February 9, 2015

Better Than the Last One

Alastair paced back and forth at the edge of a table in his forge, dwarfed by the fire blazing beside him. He had shrunk himself down to about the size of a thimble to put the finishing touches on Adra's wedding ring; it was too precise to be done well on a larger scale. He stopped his pacing to closely examine the inside of the band, carefully carving another groove into the heated rose gold. Taking a few steps back, he continued to stare at the letters appearing as though they were formed out of branches- the whole ring was meant to appear as though made of small branches- for what felt like an age, feeling critical of his work but not sure what to fix. There must be something...

It has to be better than the last one, at least. He had spared no expense in making her engagement ring, and although Alastair himself placed little to no value in ceremonies, he knew how important this was to Adra. She was so excited to be married, so he was determined to make everything within his power as idealistic as possible.

Struggling only slightly with tools much larger than he was, he polished the four small stones he'd cut out from the Cullinan for the third time that hour. Adra had seemed so in awe of the stone's energy when she first held it, and he wanted her to be equally impressed with the energy of this ring. Admittedly, it was hard for him to gauge exactly how it would feel to her, but he had exhausted himself on multiple occasions trying to recreate her alchemical perception of stones within himself, and as far as he could tell ring's energy was perfectly balanced.

While he had devoted much of his effort to perfecting the energy of the stones, between the opal, philosopher's stones, and diamonds, he determined that he must be equally concerned with the shape and appearance of the ring. It had to be able to match in some respect the shape of her engagement ring, so that she could wear the two together if she wished to; he didn't know what was customary for people to wear on an everyday basis. And then, of course, it had to look stunning, regardless of whether Adra ever saw it, and it had to feel physically comfortable around her soft, remarkable skin.

He felt along the inside of the ring. Not good enough. Carefully, he began to soften the texture. If he wore the grooves in the metal down too much, he might spoil the lettering it had taken him days to perfect. What if I ruin it?

You'd still have time to fix it.

What if it doesn't feel right?

She will. You've been so careful- she will.

What if its energy is off? What if she hates it? Suppose I mess the whole thing up-

Oh, honestly. Calm down. You're being ridiculous. She'll love it.

He ceased his pacing again, tilting his head slightly to the side. Why on Earth am I so kind to myself all of a sudden? Slight laugher sounded softly in his mind. Aretha Tesla?

She replied with the equivalent in thought of a smile. It's beautiful, Alastair. Adra will think so, too.

He paused for a moment, taking that in, and nodded once. She was almost certainly right, but he still worried. How is Niccolò?

Better. Not perfect- I highly doubt he will be anytime soon- but he's okay.

Good. He considered, and rephrased. Thank you. I hope she'll be pleased. He let Aretha fade out of the forefront of his mind, and returned his attention to the task at hand. The branch making up part of the "G" in "Gaia" wasn't quite as deep as the rest. He pushed the ring closer to the fire, reheating it for just a few seconds, and carefully began to carve into the edges.

A/N: Takes place a few days before the Aladra wedding, on Christmas Eve of 2014. He found the time to do all of the mining, stone fitting, and sculpting all the gold pretty much any time he was away from Adra, or unable to sleep in the middle of the night, or during hours that he made for himself by freezing time.

Antony Neverrest

The funeral parlour was crowded that day. Which meant, of course, that he couldn't go in. Jessica had a lot of friends. She must have grown to be a fine young woman, he thought. It was probably better for her that she didn't know him. Probably better that no one knew he existed- not even his own daughter. Not even now that it was too late. She only would've died sooner, he thought, if she'd known him. He thought. He prayed. He couldn't deal with any more blood on his hands. He flopped down on his bed. Immortality really lost its charm. Well, not quite immortality, he reminded himself. He was more like a lobster. He could die, but he never aged. 

"Are you ready now?" A voice sounded from behind him. So smooth, so soft, that he didn't even start. He just thought to himself, exhaustedly, yes. God, yes. I just want to see my wife again. He looked up, and was surprised to notice a man in a long black coat.

"You're not death," he exclaimed, surprised. "You're... You're just a person."

"Oh, Antony," the stranger laughed, "You are so deluded, aren't you? The years must have clouded your mind. I almost don't want you anymore, but then... When has insanity stopped me before?"

Antony scrambled back a few steps, finally realizing how deeply in trouble he was. "You..." his voice trembled, and his hands scrambled about on the table beside him for something to use as a weapon. He felt something he thought might be heavy, and picked up- an alarm clock. After all these years, he thought to himself, the best you can do is an alarm clock. Then he sighed, and just before he began his last thought, his world went black.

When he woke, he couldn't stop spinning. Every sense was heightened- scents and sounds bombarded him from every direction, and his vision was so acute it almost blinded him. And the screaming... All that screaming... He didn't know if it was his, or someone else's, or maybe... He almost thought that it was both at once... And there were voices, so many voices. His hands were covered in blood, but they weren't his hands- and then he was moving, wielding all sorts of knives like an expert, but it wasn't really him moving, and he thought that maybe he was hurting someone, but he couldn't stop himself. He recognized someone else's laughter in his head. Is there no rest, he cried out, panicked to discover that his voice didn't work, even in death?!

Well, the soothing voice answered, suddenly seeming pained and genuine now that they were on the same plane, You did name yourself Neverrest. He even barely thought he heard I'm sorry.

A/N: Story of the death of one of Niccolò's names.

A Second Chance

"I want you to pay very close attention, Niccolò," Alastair muttered under his breath, "Because I am about to give you the most important choice of your life. You get to make it all over again. Do you understand?" He grinned madly, excitement feeding into crazed energy. He knew he was even more unhinged than usual- Hell was too much even for him to bear without any scars- but for his purposes, it only made him stronger.

Over the past few days, Alastair had set out to destroy everything positive Niccolò had ever created. He killed refugees and starving children, spoiled water supplies, and everything else he could think of while the voice in his head struggled against him. Niccolò's presence had become so small that Alastair could barely feel it. This would be the final nail in his coffin.

A man with blonde hair and cold blue eyes strolled into the Stille family library. Christofer rose to greet the stranger, extending a hand.

Alastair watched himself threaten the mother and two sisters of seventeen year old Niccolò. "This is it. The night it all began," he whispered gleefully, his voice lacquered in temptation. "If you overtake me now, you can reverse it all. Every person you've ever harmed-" the small presence within him stirred- "safe. Every epidemic we've ever brewed," it thrashed wildly, "nonexistent."

Christofer's expression quickly changed to one of horror, as the stranger slowly advanced till he was backed between a blade and a desk. He had to think of something. There was no way he could take the knife away, and even if he could, he wouldn't know how to use it, but he couldn't stall forever- he had to think of something...

Alastair bent over, sliding a few feet down the slanted roof across the street where he'd stationed himself, his fingers curled tightly in his hair. "Every world... We've ever destroyed..." he now spoke in shortened bursts of breath, a splitting headache overtaking him. "Your sister's children..." He drew a shuddering breath, and then was gone.

Niccolò rose to his feet inside the house- he had teleported before he fully regained control of his thoughts- and threw two knives at once; one buried itself in the neck of the young Alastair, and the other he drove through the bone of his own skull. Croatoan took a slow breath, closing his eyes, and sank to the floor. He didn't even feel himself sobbing. Finally- finally, it was all over.

The end.

An unfamiliar scream sounded over his shoulder. He glanced backwards at an unfamiliar woman who was trembling uncontrollably, and realized a few seconds later that the setting had changed. He wasn't in his library anymore. The revelation tore through what was left of his spirit. He had never been in his library at all.

Two young boys, three and five years old, lay dead where they had been chasing each other around a kitchen table. Then there was nothing. Alastair tucked away the shriveled, blank presence that had once been Niccolò, knowing that from this point forward it would perceive nothing, and feel nothing. It had no fight left. He smirked in content, thinking quietly to himself. You were right. It was, in fact-

the end.

A/N: Took place shortly after Alastair gained control from Niccolò, just before Aladra started to form.

Rainbow Paint

In the musty, dimly lit basement of a very, very old church, the dust is not as old as it should be. There was movement there, mere months ago- an extravagant battle where there should have been nothing. The candle flames flickered, the only indication of Niccolò's entrance.

"I know you're here," he said plainly. "We've always been too sentimental, haven't we?"

War rose up from a crack in the floor, shifting into a mirror image of his copy. "You were sentimental. And dramatic. It bled through. I just want to see the world burn."

"Oh, come now, we lived in the same head for some time. You can't fool yourself that easily. You are quite possibly the most sentimental name I've ever stolen."

War sighed. It was uncharacteristic of him to sigh. It was uncharacteristic of him to have a conversation. But he was only going to kill his copy anyway. Perhaps it was time to cut to the chase. "What are you going to do about it?"

"Plenty. I came prepared this time."

"Now you're the liar." War smirked. "All that preparation- that room that Adra built, the plan you laid out for Zafira- you knew it would end this way. Just you and me, in the dark. In this church, too, of all places. You knew it all along, and you have nothing planned, because you know you can't beat me. All that talk about coordinating with other names- I can't believe she bought it."

Niccolò could only shrug in his defense. "I hoped it wouldn't end this way. In either case, the others don't matter to me anyway."


A flicker of a smile played at Niccolò's lips, and in a flash of bright rainbow, paint exploded outward from the center of the room, covering everything in sight. "You caught me. The truth is, I did prepare. Just a little."

War looked about him with an expression caught between disgust and amusement. "You think you can kill me with-" And suddenly he realized what had happened. "...Paint."

Niccolò grinned, reciting the MageBay description from memory. "Grenaidbow- An average-looking grenade that will explode with rainbow paint that will give anyone within a hundred-foot radius a multi-colored makeover and also bind their powers until every dot of paint has been scrubbed off."

"I hate you."

"I know."

"You bought a rainbow paint bomb from the internet."


"You are an idiot."


"You've killed us both with a rainbow paint bomb!!"

"Not exactly. No magic- and that means absolutely no magic- for an extended period of time- we know what that will do do us, don't we? But we won't die just yet."

War gritted his teeth. "No, but we'll die slowly, in an ancient church basement painted with rainbows! This is..."

"Not dramatic, or sentimental," Niccolò sounded properly amused with himself.

"But this is suicide!" War was in a proper rage. He couldn't even turn this into a knife fight- he could already feel a fever raging inside of him, and he knew any minute they would both be out.

"You say that like you're surprised. I've attempted before, haven't I? I've succeeded, even- you remember that. Well, you succeeded, actually, and I don't remember it. Either way..." Hundreds of diseases surged through his veins. He could name every one- he'd created most of them- but none of that knowledge would save him now. It was perfect.

"But that was when... You don't care about that anymore..." War swatted angrily at the black spots dancing before his eyes. "You know something." He growled. "What?!"

"If our senses were still in order... We should hear her breathing right about now..."

"You mean-"

"Aretha. Again. Hearts... Are no problem-" He coughed violently, noting the amount of blood he'd lost. He didn't need to finish his sentence, so he saved his breath. That was the advantage of talking to himself, he supposed.

As if on cue, War coughed up the same blood, at the same time. To an outsider, they would look like one man glaring angrily at his own reflection. "She'll never know... Which one of us to save."

"She'll know." The affection shining in Niccolò's eyes was completely absent from War's- the only difference between them- and they both collapsed in exactly the same instant.


Aretha sighed, squeezing her eyes closed, as she waited for the minutes to pass. Sometimes she hated just waiting, while the seconds rushed past, never to be retrieved again. But only sometimes. And right then, Niccolò needed her desperately. She was just happy that, for once, both of them actually wanted to live. And, she supposed, happy to be alive herself.

The second hand reached its mark on her watch- exactly ten minutes had passed since she came in- and she raced for the stairs. She was meant to go slowly, but that was if all went according to plan, and she honestly couldn't recall a time when every detail had gone exactly according to plan. At least not at that moment. And she was more than a little terrified to see what had become of War and Niccolò.

On one hand, Aretha was incredibly relieved that for the first time in her immediate memory, it looked like everything had gone according to plan. On the other, she was beginning to wonder how well this plan had been thought out. She was strong, but Niccolò was dead weight, and his coat alone weighed about half as much as he did- maybe more- and, to top that off, he was totally covered in wet rainbow paint. Both of him were. She struggled to find some way to carry him without trailing paint on the ground, and without dropping him, because wet paint was slippery. She could feel the fever practically radiating off of him, and knew that almost all of the diseases that were killing him now were contagious. She'd have to work faster.

Once she finally reached the top of the stairs, she realized she was carrying the limp body of a man who looked like he'd taken a bath in rainbows straight into a historical and very open to the public church. And now the paint was on her, too, so there was no chance she could get herself out with magic. So she did the only logical thing- she hid him in a broom closet, and hurried back down for the second Niccolò. Once all three of them were successfully hidden- assuming no staff members decided they needed to open the door- Aretha pulled out her phone. To try and move all three of them any significant distance without magic would not end well, no matter how she spun it, but she had a few favors to call in.

Her call was answered immediately. "Yeah, it's me," she spoke quietly into the phone, "I'm back." She grinned. "The nightmare never ends." She paused, listening. "Well, I know that- I was there. And we'll talk about it later, but right now-" she looked at the two colorful murderers piled unconscious on top of each other. "I'm in a bit of an awkward situation. That's perfect, thanks so much! I'll see you." She hung up, and really hoped her team wouldn't teleport straight into the closet.


Aretha had asked to be brought somewhere wet and discreet. She was not expecting a small, tropical island in the middle of nowhere. She was hoping for someplace with a hose. But she didn't have enough time to be picky, so she hadn't complained. She was no doctor, but she knew she was quickly developing a fever, and a few strange rashes had already appeared in various places on her skin. Having to carry both Niccolòs everywhere wasn't helping.

The first order of business was figuring out which of them to help first. She fully intended to save them both, of course, but if she brought War back first he would just kill the rest anyway. And they looked exactly alike. She narrowed her eyes, thinking. There was no way she could hope to see inside their heads, so it would have to be heartbeats. She remembered him telling her that every person's heartbeat is different- like a fingerprint- and she'd made note of how his changed when different names took over, even when his appearance stayed the same, but she wished she'd paid more attention to his.

She knelt beside the Niccolò closest to her and carefully placed two fingers on his neck, feeling for his pulse. Her eyes closed and she listened intently, imagining that it felt familiar, but she might have been fooling herself. She couldn't tell. And then suddenly she felt herself running to the nearest bush to vomit. She groaned, and coughed a bit, feeling properly awful, and decided she would never complain about stomach bugs again. At least they weren't any kind of plague or epidemic, and she didn't lose blood over those. Her head was pounding. She sank to her knees, closing her eyes against the black spots that flooded her vision, and tried to push through the sudden exhaustion that overtook her.

She took deep breaths and cleared her mind. In and out... In and out... She coughed, but ignored the pain in her lungs, and just kept breathing until she felt less like she'd pass out and more like she was about to fall asleep. Then she opened her eyes and felt for her own pulse, hoping that that might jog her memory a bit. It didn't. Slowly, she stood, and set herself down again next to the second Niccolò. She carefully counted the beats in her head, concentrating hard just to stop herself from falling asleep, and realized with a start that his pulse sounded like... Her second hand raced to her neck to confirm it, because it was crazy, and then she was sure- his heartbeat matched hers exactly. She was too tired to be any more than a little shocked, but she didn't think she'd get any surer sign that this was her Niccolò. More black spots invaded her line of sight and she blinked furiously against them, pulling him as quickly as she could towards the water. She dragged him as far under as she could without drowning him, and rubbed the paint on his face off with the inside of her jacket. For a few moments she stood there in the water, waiting, but then she felt a sharp pain in her lungs again. She saw blood flashing red in the water, and her world went black before she could feel herself slip under.


"Aretha?" Niccolò called out, his voice wavering slightly. He knew she must have brought him here- he knew it- but he couldn't see her. And if she was in the water... His senses were coming back, but slowly. He needed them now. On command, his vision sharpened, and he could make out some of what looked like rainbow hair poking out of the waves in the distance. He teleported himself just next to her- swimming would have taken valuable time- and teleported them both back to the shore again.

She was hot, and barely breathing, and ill in a thousand different ways, and he didn't know whether he should heal the diseases or clear her lungs of water first. He wasn't even sure he could clear her lungs of water. But he could make her cough, and he could make her breathe, so that was what he did. He almost wished he had stolen her name, so he could force her heart to beat. But he'd brought her back before. He could do it again.

He closed his eyes, his mind slipping into hers, and softly called out to her again. She didn't respond, but he could see her, slowly sinking into the black abyss that had grown all too familiar. He followed her down as far as he could and reached for her, praying that he wouldn't be too late.

A/N: This is a story from January of 2014, when there were two copies of Alastair running around, one of which was controlled by the name War. This was around the same time Mevolent attacked Blogland from an alternate universe, Mara was days from her wedding with Harry, and Adra recently came back from a war on Gaia. 
If anyone remembers whether there is a last section of this story that I wrote out but haven't included here, please let me know! I feel like there's something missing. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

What is this for?

I want to write stories, and I need a place to put them. I also think I might archive some stories I've already written that never went anywhere, and maybe write some new pieces here, also. I'm considering writing more backstory on a few names, or more about Alastair, since that's come up a lot lately... Maybe Niccolò, also. If there's a specific thing anyone wants me to write, you're welcome to ask- I'm just in a write-y mood around now- and other than that, I won't give this blog a purpose, because if I make it for a specific thing, and then I lose motivation for that specific thing, the blog dies. And I just wanted a place to put whatever random things I want to keep track of in some form.

-Aretha Tesla