Okay, let me try and explain...

Fanfiction is not a priority right now.

PASSING HISTORY IS.

MY ARTWORK IS.

MY RELATIONSHIPS WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY ARE.

So if you're here trying to learn why I'm not updating my sonic fanfics, it's because they really aren't important right now. I just want to get them over with and be rid of that game series forever, 'kay?

Here's the second chapter to Victim. Enjoy


Mordia was a cold place.

As Daerion stumbled hurriedly past the guardhouse, marking the end of the elvish sector of town, he realized this more and more. He knew this by the new winter shutters being installed on the buildings, the perpetually gray sky, and the faint chill in the air...

It wasn't always as cold as it was now- not six months ago, when he had came to the kingdom in the first place. Then it had been spring, and the earth was soft, the air a bit warmer- and in the summer it was entirely tolerable. But in the winter... oh, he had heard terrible rumors of the winters of Mordia. It was almost said that with the cold weather, the spirits of Styx and Stones would awaken again in the form of the worst luck, to cast vengeance against the kingdom...

Daerion didn't believe this, of course. Styx and Stones' tombs did, yes, reside in this area before; that was why the lands were constantly plagued with shadowbeasts. Their howls filled the air at night. They resided in every rocky crag on the horizon; in the foothills of every mountain; in every dark and concealed place of Sovrah Dan's detached peninsula. The area itself was quite isolated, surrounded on either side by turbulent waters or nigh un-navigatable mountains.

But the thing that made Mordia so cold was not how hard it was to get in and out of, the curse of the shodowbeast or even the harsh climate! Mordia itself was a dangerous place to live.

The palace, tall and dark, stretched far into the clouds, and at either dawn or dusk it's shadow could be measured to the edges of the main town. Directly east of the palace was the marketplace, south of which was the magic bazaar and even further south, the royal gardens. Further east or south of this was the many small houses and farms of the region, as well as much more untamed wilderness.

If you went northeast of the marketplace, keeping in mind you didn't go so far northeast that you got to the guardhouse- eventually you would come upon a warrior's guild. That was the home of the seven warriors of discord, infamous for barging in wherever and whenever they pleased. They were menacing and frightening by nature, what with their nigh insanity and very large weapons. Leader of these mindless war machines was Vicernal, who had apparently at one time killed a bartender with his bare hands... they weren't as prone to violence against the other citizens as one may believe, however. Their guild always had gold in it's coffer and undoubtedly did great services to the kingdom. It wasn't so great for the elves, though. Daerion was often confronted by warriors of discord, usually drunk, who either wanted to rob what little gold he had or had mistaken him for a girl...

As you can imagine, Daerion just thought it better to stay away from them.

Directly northwest (and quite close, only separated by a hill and some trees) was the Elven sector of town. Two bungalows were placed southwest and northeast of each other, with a gazebo just northwest of the northern bungalow, and a guardhouse southwest of the southern bungalow- directly north of the palace. You could walk in a straight line from the gazebo to the warrior's guild without running into anything. You already know about the elves that live there...

Elves, in Mordia, were basically sorry jokes. The eight elves in the kingdom had all come for the same reason- crowding in the elven homelands, and hope for a life with more experience and adventure. Oh, living in Mordia was an adventure alright- just not the kind they had hoped for. At first things had seemed okay in Mordia, when the sun came out more and people had less time to blame the elves for every single problem. Six months ago, it had been a year since Styx and Stones' defeat, and the city was still only middle-aged. The elves had set up in the bungalow, made an elven lounge, and then started to try and make livings as heroes.

It didn't work out so well.

Many of the heroes in the city had been heroes for a while, and thusly were at a very high level. They were respected in society for their strength, and always had enough gold. With their experience and ability, they could defeat the shadowbeast that eternally plagued the city, and always had a source of income.

But the problem was that the only monster left in the area anymore was the shadowbeast, lasting remnant of Styx and Stones' curse. The elves had no experience in battle, and couldn't defeat them! The elves collected no bounties and soon began falling apart, at a total loss as to what to do. They had to sell off most of their things. The northern bungalow found a cave of hell bears, though, and became strong enough to gain more leverage in the community- but no such luck for the southern bungalow.

Thankfully, at that time, the city began to grow more. Two more inns were built, and the elves got jobs at many of them. This helped them pay off the taxes, (usu.) food, (again usu.) and anything else they required- but it wasn't always sufficient. Besides, the other heroes often stole or forced from them- as you saw Sam do earlier in the tale. The society of Mordia, like all human societies, saw Elves as lazy and sinful, and not many people cared if you stole from an elf or beat up an elf. But it wasn't entirely true. In reality, Elves had been entirely unaware to the concepts of gambling, rum or tobacco before trade with the humans began. Elves were indeed the 'fair folk'. Beautiful, but often physically frail and had a hard time being strong at heart. They had not very thick, sturdy wills or the best ability to resist temptations or stick up for themselves. They were like children, in that sense- innocent at heart but so easily bent and corrupted... quite the ideal victims for dealers and predators.

Julleran and Valerie had been different. They had some of the strongest wills and bodies found amongst elves- and they were great leaders. Julleran had come to Mordia to try and spread better word about the elven community- that the reason the Elves didn't work in their communities was because everything in the forest was in abundance. The reason that they drank so much was because their digestive systems got less high off of more wine. Wine wasn't as addicting, either. But Rum and Tobacco were terrible things, for elves. Once an elf got started it was nearly impossible for them to quit. People had gotten the illusion that elves were entirely sinful because they easily fell into addictions- but in reality, elves had some of the most moral conducts in the world. In the elven community, you did not officially reach 'adulthood' to age 25; and respect, honesty and kindness were highly valued virtues. Loyalty was very consistent amongst relationships, there was no social ladder, or orphanages, or poorhouses, or murder! It had been a strange sort of utopia, with great appreciation for music and beauty.

Then, trade with the humans and dwarves began. Narcotics, Rum, Tobacco, and Gambling easily snared the elves, and it was very, very hard for them to quit. When the other races saw how the elves lived, they assumed they were savage and lazy. Elves were often taken advantage of in the other realms- and the frail, attractive males of the species were often preyed upon. They simply weren't fit for the kind of society the humans had built around themselves. Dwarves and Humans were tough, diligent, and strong- but at the same time grew easily calloused, bitter and blind, turning themselves into sheep. Elves were beautiful, but they didn't care about the same things the humans did; being 'hard-working'. They cared about their own things; elves weren't made to be ordered around.

They were also very vulnerable, and the Humans found it amusing to use that against them. Countless elves had grown so stressed of the human environment that they turned into alcoholics and addicts, while the humans laughed as their beauty faded away.

Julleran helped keep Daerion away from all of those awful things. Thanks to his 'big brother', he knew how valuable it was to remember how the elves were supposed to live- beautiful, unrestrained and fair. Many elves back home had the same ideas as Julleran, and set up barriers around the elven forest to prevent import of any addictive substances, teaching the elves what was wrong with the picture. Sadly, though, many elves had no regard or care for such things- they began to forget just how beautiful they were, and started to listen to the humans' lies. Daerion sometimes worried that the entire elven kingdom would collapse- and maybe all elves would end up living the way he did, or worse if they were turned into junkies, prostitutes or alcoholics. Elves weren't built for the world of humans- and maybe it would have been better off if everyone had just kept to themselves.

He stuck closer to the north place wall as he saw a group of cultists walk bye, jamming his thumbs in his pockets and trying not to draw attention. They shot him some cross looks from behind their wooden masks, but kept on walking- to his relief. He sighed and once again looked up from the ground, walking faster just incase they changed their mind.

The cultists didn't have very much leverage in the society, probably because they were known for their use of narcotic plants for religious purposes, but were still much better off than the elves! They, too, could always bring in as much cash as they needed with their great skills in herbology and animals- they also were great with plants, and owned the royal gardens- collecting half of the donations and profits from that as well.

The cultists lived in the village, placed far south of the main citadel. They were the north-most of the buildings there, (still far away from the palace) surrounded by a guardhouse, a temple to Helia, a trading post, and an inn- known as the 'Tiger's Shadow'. Vinneran and Arrius worked there, and came home every day with some sort of token from a prank they had pulled on the cultists or Solaris. That was another reason the cultists didn't like the elves- not just because no one did, but because once Vinneran saw it amusing to steal their leader, Yellow Grass's mask and place it on the top of the tallest tree in the city. (Elves were great tree-climbers). The elves could only do something like that to the cultists- they were the only ones that wouldn't squash you flat. The cultists had gotten their revenge; though- they managed to burn down the elven lounge only a few weeks after it was built.

As for the Solaris... they were definitely above the cultists and about equal to the warriors of discord. But they paid little or no attention to the elves- kind of pretended like they didn't exist. They just went diligently about their duty with smiles on their faces as they obliterated attacking monsters left and right, always moving, working, drinking, doing something. Sometimes Daerion preferred the cultists trying to sell him narcotics or the tax collectors telling him he was scum or even the warriors of discord getting drunk and mistaking him for a woman! At least then he knew he existed. When he was ever so unfortunate to end up in a room full of Solaris... he just wasn't sure anymore.

As he finished walking the length of the palace's northern wall, he looked to the south to see the blacksmith- it's three stories and many smokestacks blotted out the view of anything else for a moment.

The blacksmith (a guardhouse southwest of it) was directly southwest of the castle- working there was one of the three northern bungalow elves. They were shop security in the marketplace, magic bazaar and blacksmith. Daerion didn't see or talk to those elves much- Julleran said they were 'lost' and 'corrupted'. That usually means they drank like the devil and had forgotten almost entirely what it meant to be an elf.

To the west, past a few of the peasant's homes, sat another Warrior's guild. This one housed two regular blue-armored warriors and (now get this) two paladins!

They were still left over from when the kingdom had first gotten started. Originally, a temple to Dauros and a warrior's guild had been the only thing besides the castle. That was before Styx's attack. Two of the paladins had died and the temple to Dauros was utterly destroyed. But- Jupithra and Chanet remained, loyal to Mordia. Sir Talon, Sir Greyheart and them were some of the highest members of the society. Daerion liked them. They didn't pick on the elves or even bother with them- but they didn't pretend they didn't exist, either. They didn't treat anyone any differently than anyone else. They just went solemnly and nonchalantly around their business- they were cool, controlled, gallant- not like the loud, noisy warriors of discord or perpetually infuriated cultists, Solaris or priestesses.

If you went north of the warrior's guild, you would come upon the wizard's guild.

There were only two wizards in the entire kingdom, and it was very rare to see them outside of the guild. Therefore, Daerion didn't know much about them. He did know that the wizards must hate him, though, because elves weren't allowed in the library- that was 'wizard' property. He also wasn't sure what level of Mordia's social ladder they were on. Perhaps they weren't on it at all- he smiled; imagining how lucky it would be to live in such a way...

As he went back over the list of buildings and people in his head, he felt as if something had been left out. No, a few somethings... the first one quickly came to him as a loud, strange howl came from the palace- resulting in a full set of howls from the many shadowbeasts in the area.

Oh, yes- the sovereign.

The sovereign... No one was quite sure about the sovereign. During the first attempts to settle here, the original king had died. It was said that his niece was to replace him- but none of the citizens had ever seen the 'queen' leave or enter the castle. There were no visits allowed, and no one in the palace could recall ever seeing her. There was never anyone in the throne room. Apparently only six people in the entire kingdom had ever seen or spoken to her. Two were the paladins, Jupithra and Chanet. The third was the leader of the Solaris, Chromari Gleamweaver. The fourth was the royal advisor himself. The other two were Trepidy and Redblood, priestesses. None of these people had ever spoken a word about the sovereign except for when she had placed a bounty or had a message to the civilians.

And the strange noises that would come from the palace... roars and howls of some kind of terrifying beast- louder and deeper and meaner than the shadowbeast that seemed to constantly howl, day and night. He had never, ever in his life heard such a noise. But Julleran had. He had said that was a dragon's roar. That had always confused Daerion; what in the world was a dragon doing in the palace?

The only thing that had ever been said about the sovereign was by Chromari- "Helia has truly manifested herself in the sovereign, as legends predict. But it is not just Helia, no! Our sovereign... the things she says and does... she must have pieces of power scattered from the heavens themselves..."

"From the heavens, or from the underworld?" Had growled a disgruntled peasant, overhearing Chromari. Her smile faded, and she shook her head.

"...Now that you mention it, on occasion, I am not sure."

Daerion was scared of the queen, in that sense. If she kept a dragon for a pet, that was a clear sign of some sort of mental deformity. Being ruled by a person with mental deformity is not the kind of idea that settles well. It's quite distressing, because at any time you have no idea whether she doesn't care about the bungalows, or is itching to tear them down, or both! A perfectly sane monarch is hard enough to try and predict, but an insane one is the last thing this elf needed to-

Daerion stopped. Stopped dead in his tracks, at what he saw. There was smoke, and billows of it, coming from the far-west guardhouse... He let his eyes widen slightly as the roar of some monster flew through the air, and gave out a gasp, running full-speed towards the area. That was close to the inn, where he worked. If the inn were destroyed... he would loose his job- the elves wouldn't be able to pay their taxes...

He took a few seconds to build up to the amazing elven speed, making no sound as he sped across the grass, past the warrior's guild, under the old, long-deceased tree...

He loved running. He was good at it- he could outrun even Julleran. And he was silent, when he moved- not bulky and clumsy like the Solaris or discords or even the paladins with their big, clunky armor. He felt completely different, whenever he ran. He felt worthwhile. No one could watch and elf run or move the way he did, fluent and gracefully, and not secretly approve of him.

The trip from the palace's northwest corner to the guardhouse was nigh instantaneous, and he stopped dead in the middle of the clearing, looking quickly at his surroundings. The inn was fine- to his relief. Many people were running or yelling- a few brave peasants were trying to salvage the guardhouse as, to his horror, two miniatures slashed vigorously at it. He caught sight of an archer, in the nearly destroyed building, shooting arrows at them- but it did little good.

He stared in awe as a few people ran past him- but mostly the clearing was empty, the civilians fleeing for their lives or throwing water onto the burning guardhouse. He stared, terrified as the Minotaurs prepared to give the finishing blow to the building...

"Blessings to the phoenix!" Came a shout from behind him, and Daerion nearly had to jump out of the way as a Solaris charged past him. He stared as she ran the twenty meters to the guardhouse, throwing herself at a Minotaur and smashing her mace against its leg. The limb gave a sickening crack and the Minotaur flinched away from the blow, sinking to one foot in attempts to relive pressure from the supposedly broken leg. Daerion gasped as, while the Solaris repeated the constant smashing of her mace against the minotaur's legs, it swiped downward with it's mace and struck 'Cindra Blazeheart' (he recognized her now) on the head with- luckily- the flat of the blade.

Daerion's eyes widened in horror as the Minotaur raised its axe for a second, fatal blow- and quickly grabbed an arrow, and fired it. It buried itself into the Minotaur's shoulder, and the beast flinched slightly as if it had suffered an excruciating bee sting. For a second it was preoccupied, clawing at the arrow-, which gave Cindra enough time to react, once again fighting fairly with the monster.

But the other beast wasn't so preoccupied. Looking first at it's fallen brethren and then at the arrow in his shoulder, the beast gave a snort and quickly snapped its gaze to the elf, who stood there, bow in hand. Daerion froze, and dropped the fine maple bow, his limbs shaking as the Minotaur stepped over some of the guardhouse wreckage and began charging towards him, axe raised.

The elf tried to react quickly, and turned to run- he was no match for a Minotaur! But it was no use- as fast as he was, he had reacted just a second too late, and the axe's parry swing barely clipped him across the back, leaving a shallow but painful cut from his mid-back to shoulder.

Daerion cried out, and fell to the ground, still wet with dew. He flinched away from the Minotaur's loud roar of victory, and closed his eyes, preparing for the axe's sharp blow-

"Sosivaru!"

He snapped his eyes open and, although it agitated his wound greatly, turned to look up at the Minotaur, which was frozen in excruciating pain. A bright, red light pulsed around it for a few moments, and then a stream of red light shot back from the creature to the priestess standing a few meters off, holding her bone-staff in the air.

He propped himself up on his hands and knees, in too much pain to stand up. He stared in shock. A priestess... a priestess! The Priestesses were here!

This individual was not alone. Three charmed Shadowbeast crouched behind her, slinking stealthily into the battlefield. She gave a quick nod and they all began to charge, flowing across the battlefield with astounding speed towards the frozen Minotaur. Their ghastly forms blurred and faded as they moved, almost as fluently as an elf would. But not nearly as stealthily. Their pounding feet, their gnashing teeth, Their howls! They sent shivers down your spine, so eerie and frightening.

Daerion gasped and ducked as the beasts ran right over him, leaping upon the Minotaur and tearing viciously at it with their teeth, horns and claws. Swallowing to try and steady himself, he grabbed his bow and painfully scrambled a bit away from the fight, staring at the scene in disbelief.

Two or three priestesses were here now, with a total of four charmed shadowbeasts tearing apart the Minotaurs at close-range. The Solaris was fighting side-by-side with one, now, against the one closest to the guardhouse, and with three priestesses attacking them, it wasn't long before they both fell, with a near uproar of 'Sosivaru!" for the priestesses' victory and 'Our souls blaze brighter!' for the one Solaris present.

He simply sat there, in shock, as he stared at the fallen minotaur- that the shadowbeasts were now eating (a very unpleasant sight) and then looked around. The guardhouse was no longer on fire, and the priestesses were converging into one group, the fourth charmed shadowbeast seated directly to the side of the tallest priestess. It sat, menacing and solemn and loyal, like a hunting dog. The sight sent a tremor through his body, starting at the back of his neck and ending at his fingertips.

The priestesses were gods, in Mordia. The shadowbeast- the plague of the land, was also a blessing. Of the thirty to forty shadowbeast that seemed to attack the kingdom every few days, about two were charmed instead of killed each time. This means there was now a nearly immeasurable army of shadowbeast patrolling the streets, tearing apart the giant rats that ventured from the sewers or the trolls that manifested themselves in the slums. Thusly- the priestesses were invaluable, priceless- worshiped, nearly. And they were incredibly powerful- as if they somehow fed upon the 'curse' that everyone else had talked about- as if they could draw power from this 'negative' land. They were at the very top of the ladder, first in the pecking order- you had nothing to fear about monsters if you were anywhere near a priestess.

There were three temples to Krypta in Mordia- one was south of the blacksmith, and two were in the northern village- rather close to the main citadel, but it's own town all the same. A guardhouse was the third building in that village- but that was it. The priestesses lived, mostly, secluded- but they often roamed the streets, easily gathering gold as they and their charmed shadowbeast easily dominated any monster in the region.

Only one priestess and only one shadowbeast were constantly seen together- all of the other shadowbeast just ran around and savagely attacked anything that wasn't a citizen of Mordia, with a priestess' nod, that is. But not with Trepidy and Fate, her 'pet'. Trepidy was the leader of the northern village's largest temple, the one closest to the citadel. That was the level three temple, where all the strongest priestesses lived. Fate was always seen with Trepidy, sitting by her side. The shadowbeast were large- large enough to ride (but you wouldn't, for the spikes)- and when they sat or lied they would still come up to your waist. It was a fitting servant for an equally menacing person. Trepidy was one of the advisors to the sovereign. Trepidy was basically a god.

Daerion winced painfully as he struggled to sit upright- but his arm slipped from under him and he found himself once again lying on the ground. The Solaris and Priestesses, after collecting their bounties from the nearby tax collector, began their trips to home or the marketplace or wherever else it was they were headed to. But none gave the elf any notice. Normally shooting an arrow into the Minotaur should get him about ten gold for 'assisted defeat'. Mordia didn't treat elves normally.

As he again struggled to sit up, he heard a cry from behind him and nearly jumped two feet as the middle-aged woman ran to his side.

"Goodness, child, what were you doing? You have too many responsibilities to go playing hero like that!" She shouted, her frizzy brown hair pulled back in a bun, her head covered with the standard peasant bonnet.

Agatha, Thought Daerion to himself.

Agatha was the keeper of the 'Outside Inn', where Daerion worked. She was a sensible, strong woman- meaning she was occasionally bitter and didn't hesitate to 'put people in line'. Agatha was okay- she wasn't exceptionally mean or nice to him, but sometimes she was a bit too 'practical' to rub the elf the right way. She used the word 'responsibility' way too much. Daerion hated responsibilities. But, all the same, Agatha treated him like a person- he liked that. Liked it a lot.

She dressed in a light slate-blue dress with her white cooking apron over it-, which was splotched with efforts of Tuesday's famous blueberry pie.

"I... I thought I should have helped." He offered, trying to stand up- but wincing lightly as the wound on his back stung only more intensely. Agatha grumbled, shook her head and gave the young elf an arm to support him. He obliged, and sniffed lightly to hold back what pain usually brought with it- the faint trace of tears. She paused for a moment to look him in the eye, and then shook her head.

"You don't have the time to be crying, son." She began, helping him walk towards the inn. "I'll patch you up, and then you can get to work- but honestly, it's not that deep a cut- you'll be fine. You cry too much."

"I'm not crying!" He protested, but found he was again lying. ...He was still agitated about what Sam had said, and that agony on top of the pain just pushed him a little too far. He winced as she intentionally applied pressure to the cut on his back- probably in reprimand. "Hey!" He snapped, flinching away as she laughed to herself. "...That stupid Minotaur cut right through my tunic. Julleran's gonna kill me!" He exclaimed, thinking about the huge gash in his clothes.

Agatha sighed. "You're too quick to panic child! I'll sew them up for you, and Julleran won't have the time to worry."

Daerion's eyes widened, and he looked at her, surprised. Agatha was not the most charitable of people, and such a gesture was uncharacteristic of her...

"What's the catch?" He asked, raising an eyebrow.

"Ha!" She laughed, shaking her head. "You know me too well. You work two extra hours- and no less! I'll send you with a note so Julleran knows where you've been- and don't even ask me about extra pay. A professional job could cost about 20 coins and I know that's 20 coins you can't spare."

"Sam took all of our money this morning." He agreed, nearly stumbling. "And he didn't stop there either- you should have seen how he talked to us!"

"Well, whatever it was, it must have been bad. You're awful weepy today, even for you." She rolled her eyes as they neared the door of the inn. Daerion frowned.

"Cut it out! I'm not weepy!"

Agatha again laughed, and the two headed inside the inn.

---

After a few minutes, Daerion was sitting in the middle of Agatha's room, (she and her family lived at the inn they owned) while the elderly woman struggled to properly bandage up the elf's wounds. It was a troublesome task though, for he kept squirming around...

"Ow!" Daerion yelped as Agatha pulled on and tightened the bandages around his rib cage. "That hurts! They're already so tight...!" He breathed shallowly due to how restrictive the band of cloth was, wrapped around his middle so many times and so snugly. Not only that, but the weird medicinal cream Agatha put on the wound stung!

"Oh, stop complaining. It has to be that tight or it'll fall right off." She muttered, neither anger nor compassion in her voice. If anything, she was just a little annoyed with the delicate elf.

"Well it feels like my ribs are going to collapse..." he grumbled, although regretted doing so for it only increased his shortness of breath. She sighed and patted him on the head, standing up to walk to the dresser on the other side of the room.

"You'll be just fine. Be glad you aren't a noblewoman- they have to wear similarly tight things around their waist every day. After a few minutes of work you'll hardly notice it." She stated; picking up Daerion's ripped tunics and turning back to the bed where Daerion sat. She too sat down on the surface and began stitching up the holes.

"...If you say so." He sighed quietly. "...But it hurts! I can't imagine working with this stupid thing suffocating me..." he complained, tugging at the bandages. Agatha slapped his hand away and pointed a threatening finger at him.

"Leave that alone!" She exclaimed. "Just quit complaining, Darry. It's your responsibility, as an employee, to work rain or shine. As long as you can stand and see straight, you can do something around here." She put down the now repaired blue tunic and started on the green one. "The customers won't show up for another hour or two; you can help me with some of the pies until then. That should loosen you up before you have to go carrying around dishes."

"...Don't call me Darry..." he moaned softly, resting his head in his hands.

"What was that you said?" She asked, shooting him a confused look.

"Don't call me Darry. Please." He repeated, remembering the foul name Sam had given him.

Agatha laughed lightly to herself, and handed him his blue tunic.

"Okay, Daerion, I won't. But what I will do is go downstairs and finish those blueberry pies. Are you coming?" She inquired, finishing the final stitch on the green tunic and handing it to him.

Daerion at first stared at her blankly, but sighed and pulled on the blue tunic, afterwards fastening the green one around his waist. The painfully tight bandages underneath his clothes made him appear even scrawnier than before. By elven standards, it was attractive for the males to be slender, but even this was awkward- especially when you're busting tables for warriors of discord. Those things barely fit through the inn doors!

"...I'm coming." He answered bleakly, standing up and following Agatha downstairs. "...Was there any damage to the inn from the Minotaur attack?" He asked, pacing himself as he slowly advanced to each new step.

"No, luckily there wasn't any wind today. It could have carried some embers from the guardhouse fire onto the roof! Thankfully, no such thing happened." She began, turning the corner to the kitchen and taking out some supplies for the construction of new pies. Some dough, not currently in the needed shape, sat on the flour-covered counter. Apparently Agatha had to leave it sitting in order to go outside and help her only employee. "Finish rolling that out and place it in the dish, Dae." She gestured, returning to the blueberry mush that was eventually going to be the filling of Agatha's well-selling pastries.

Daerion nodded and picked up a rolling pin, flattening out the dough. It was awkward; he was still short of breath.

"It's good that nothing happened..." he said after a pause. For a while Agatha didn't respond, and Daerion wondered if she hadn't heard him over the howls coming from outside. The shadowbeasts' howls were rarer during the day. Shadowbeast only howled when they had something to be enthusiastic about- mostly at dawn, dusk or night. But that doesn't mean they'd be completely silent.

Another few minutes of silenced passed in the empty inn- the sun had barely come up yet. But soon Agatha sighed and turned to the elf, the filling for the pies completed.

"I know you're depending on what you earn here, Dae, and I know you're in a tight spot. But we're all responsible for ourselves here. We have to take care of ourselves before we can learn to take care of the rest of the world." She replied, taking the piecrust Dae had just finished and placing the filling in the dish, afterwards handing him the last of the dough.

"What do you mean?" He asked, beginning to flatten the top crust of this pie, and soon the last two for the one that would follow it. There would be many customers this morning.

"I mean that I'm not going to be charitable to you. It's not because I don't like you-"

"Is it because I'm an elf?" Daerion interrupted coldly. He knew Agatha had the same opinion about elves that most other humans did. She had changed her views a little after hiring Dae out of desperation, but she still had some bitterness...

Agatha shot him a hard glance.

"No. It's because I believe we all have to work for what we want. You elves should learn that lesson- nothing's going to just fall into your lap while I'm on the job."

"What's so great about that?" He asked. "The elves at home live happily."

"Glad is a four-letter word. You don't appreciate something unless you work for it." She replied. He shook his head.

"So we should all be permanently miserable since it 'builds character'?"

She stopped placing the finished pies in the oven, and turned to look at him, shaking her head.

"There's no way through that skull of yours, is there, Daerion?" She smiled. He didn't return the favor, though. She didn't understand. That's not how elves are supposed to live... He placed the finished crusts in the dish, along with the filling, and placed the pie in the oven.

"There, we're done." He stated. "Can I please go sit down until we open the doors? I feel dizzy."

It wasn't all an excuse. He was feeling light-headed at the moment, from shortness of breath. Agatha chuckled and shook her head.

"Of course... I think I'll take a minute or two for myself as well. But be ready to go when the customers show up!

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Please review. Again, if you're here on account of wondering what happened to me and my other fanfics, I promise to finish them .Whether it takes me five years or forty years or two weeks, they will be finished. Eventually.