Galanthus' Heart

A/N: Hey everyone! So a couple months ago, I started watching Fairy Tail and got extremely addicted, and I haven't been writing for a bit so… here's my new story! Okay, I know the summary sounds a little comical, but it's not (note the genre section). It's more on the serious side.

Idea: Basically, I'm trying to make whole stuck in an anime world as realistic as possible (with the exception of possessing magic).

Genre: Family, Friendship, Hurt/Comfort, Romance (just a bit), Adventure, Action

Note: I only watched the anime (skipped most the filters), and I just started the manga, but it's currently on hold right now. I'm basically finding all my info on Fairy Tail wiki until I get around to reading the manga. But I'm all caught up in the anime! Sorry about that!

Edit 03/05/13: Decided to add poems to the beginning rather than definitions; fixed typos.

Disclaimer: I do not own Fairy Tail.


Chapter 1: Plumeria


Plumeria | Plumeria:

"Death's cold and merciless grip

Drags me down,

Down,

Down,

Into her abyss…

But if only I can reach out

And grab onto that bit of light,

I can hope.

Hope that it's not the end…

But a new beginning."


Family: Any group of persons closely related by blood, as parents, children, uncles, aunts, and cousins.

Stranger: A person whom one does not know or with whom one is not familiar with.

If you asked me who my family were, given the definition of a family, I would have said it was everyone I lived with: my mother, my father and my brothers.

If you asked me who was a stranger to me, given the definition of a stranger, I would have said it was everyone… including the people I lived with.

Contradictory, huh?

Yet, in a sense, it was true.

I mean, what is a family anyways? Who are strangers to me?

I never really did understand the meaning of those questions back then. Day in and day out, years after years, I have known them to be my family but never did I felt emptier… lonely. Nevertheless, I accepted the fact that they were family because that was all I recognized them to be since birth. They were people who gave me food, water and shelter—the basic necessities to live.

However, there was one thing that they never gave me; the one necessity that no one can truly live without and that was often disregarded due to a lack of a physical form. It was the one thing that truly defines a family.

And I never received it for the past seven years of my life.

Never.

And now, I never will.

Why?

Because today… I died.


"…up…"

It was cold… so, so cold… Was this what it felt like to be dead?

"…ake… up…"

I heard something. Was it the voice of the reaper coming to bring my soul to the afterlife? Hmmm… that sounds nice. Maybe now I can finally rest in peace—

"Wake up, dammit!"

"Ahhh!" I screamed, bolting up upon a sudden impact to my head. I groaned as I clutched my head as it throbbed relentlessly like the pain of a thousand needles. I felt tears sliding down my cheeks as the pain was too much and buried myself into my knees, curling myself into a ball as I sobbed.

"Hey, hey, Kid! You okay? I didn't mean to hit you that hard!" a raspy voice called, grabbing my left shoulder.

I screamed and reflexively slapped his hand away before curling myself back into a ball. He said something again, but I couldn't hear it for my mind was starting to go numb. I felt my arms being pull away from my face, and instinctively, I stared upwards into the face of the man who had hit me. Our eyes met, and through my blurred vision, I could see his face.

He looked to be a man around his mid to late thirties with shoulder length red-orange hair that was slicked back, black eyes and stubbles from an unkempt beard starting to take form. Turning my eyes downwards, he was wearing a green cloak over his attire with what looked to be a sack sling over his shoulder. In short, he looked like a pedophile.

My insides jerked to a sudden stop as I stared at him with wide eyes, frozen on the spot. I wanted to cry and scream, but I remained rooted on spot. I definitely didn't think there would be creeps in the afterlife as well.

The man furrowed his brows as he studied me as if something about me intrigued his curiosity. Just then he gave me a confused look before speaking, "Hey, are you okay? Come on Kid, snap out of it. You shouldn't be out here. Come with me," he said, standing up and holding out his hand. "I'm not a bad guy," he added.

I didn't dare move as many provoking thoughts surfaced. Even though he said he wasn't a bad guy, it seemed all the more reason to question his motives. My mind cried out, telling my body to move. He's going to kidnap me, and then I'm going to be raped and killed! My eyes went back to his, and when I made no move to take his hand, he reached forward and grabbed mine. That was when my body finally reacted.

With a sudden cry, I kicked my right leg up right between his legs. He yelped as my foot made contact, and he tumbled to the ground, holding his groin. I panted heavily, staring at him in shock at what I just did. He looked up with an expression of pain on his façade before trying to pull himself up and reached for me. Before he could fully recover, I turned around in order to run away, but the scenery made me stop dead in my tracks.

Snow, snow and more snow.

My eyes widened as nothing but pure white could be seen for miles. Wrapping my arms around my body, I realized that I was wearing nothing but a plain white summer dress. The temperature of the surroundings finally hit me, and I fell to my knees, shivering.

"What's… going on here?" I mouthed; Goosebumps covered me within seconds, but when I felt a hand grab my ankle, I shrieked and turned back to face the man. "Let go!" I cried in terror.

"I'm not going to hurt you! Just listen! My name is Gildarts and—" Before the man called Gildarts could finish, I kicked him in the face, which prompted him to let go. Hurriedly, I pulled myself out of the snow and ran for my life.

I wasn't sure where exactly I was going, but anywhere would be better than being around that strange man. I huffed and puffed, feeling the cold hurt my lungs, making it difficult for me to breathe, and I noticed my feet were starting to turn blue, having been in bare feet since I'd woken up in what I assumed to be on top of a mountain.

"Cold…" I whispered, rubbing my hands over my arms in a measly attempt to create heat. Nevertheless, it was futile. My fingers were frozen, and my legs burned from the contact of ice and snow for who knows how long. In a state of anger, I started to cry but even my tears turned into ice crystals from the cold.

I hate this. I hate this a lot. I didn't think the afterlife would be this bad. At this rate, I'm pretty sure I'm going to freeze to death—if death is even possible in the afterlife.

Biting my lips, I whispered to myself, "All I wanted was some peace and quiet… Was that too much to ask?!" I yelled angrily.

In response to my question, I heard a loud roar coming from behind me. I gasped and stumbled forward, turning around to find a large white gorilla-like creature behind me.

"Woman!" the creature hollered in a lecherous grin before taking a good look at me. Suddenly, it frowned, displeased about its discovery. "Not a woman!" it roared in fury.

I sneered, discontent with the monster's words. "I'll have you know, I'm one hundred percent female. Thanks." I glared at the beast, forgetting about my fear for a fraction of a second, before the monster reminded me with a loud howl to my face.

"Me no like little girl!"

I backed away, seeing how big it truly was. I was alone on a snowy, cold mountain somewhere in the afterlife, and now I was faced with a talking monster those enormous hands could probably kill me in a single blow. My heart beat loud and hard, and my breathing became shallow. I was panicking.

I was scared.

I stared back at the beast as it approached. I knew I shouldn't be afraid. I was already dead! Yet… a lump swelled up inside of me, choking me.

I was scared… but not because of the monster but fear of never finding the peace I sought. My eyes tear up.

I was scared. I didn't want to go through any of this anymore!

I was scared. I didn't want to keep drowning.

I'm scared! Someone help! I mentally cried out.

I shut my eyes tight and held my breath just as the beast's hand came less than one metre from me. I waited, but nothing came. Plucking up the courage, I slowly opened my eyes but then yelped as a dark grey hand filled my vision.

I fell onto my back, although that gave me a better view of the situation. The monster stopped moving, frozen in mid-action, and yet shaking as if it had seen a ghost.

"Scared…" it whispered, bringing its hands to its face. "Me scared…"

I tilted my head in confusion, all fear replace with curiosity. I got up and took a step forward. "What are you—"

"Get away!" it screamed, turning around and running away—fear clearly evident on its features. Fear, just like how I felt moments ago.

"What on Earth?" I spoke, completely stunned by the situation. There was nothing here but snow. Why was the monster suddenly afraid?

"Pretty impressive, Kid," a voice spoke, catching me off guard. Whipping around, my eyes narrowed upon seeing the creepy man again. He seemed to notice my hostility and anxiety and held his hands up as a sign of peace. "Calm down, Kid. I mean no harm. Honest!"

"Liar!" I sneered, backing away.

"You don't have to believe me, but don't run off!" he snapped. I flinched, surprised by his sudden aggression. "These mountains are dangerous, especially for a little girl. You may have fought off one Vulcan, but it's clear that you can't control your magic yet. Once it wears off, that Vulcan will come looking for you."

I blinked. Vulcan? Magic? What was he talking about? I wasn't positive, but I think he knows a bit about this place. Finally gathering courage, I asked, "Where am I?"

"Mt. Hakobe," he replied. "The mountains near Magnolia Town."

I raised a brow. "Magnolia? Didn't expect a city in the afterlife to have such a happy name… Tell me, are you some kind of reaper or something?"

"Afterlife?" Gildarts questioned. "Reaper? What are you talking about, Kid? I may be older than you but don't go killing me off just yet." He sighed, dropping his hands, and I got into a defensive position. However, to my confusion, he took off his cloak and tossed it to me. "Here, at least put this on if you're going to be such a hassle. You'll freeze, and then you really will go to the afterlife at this rate."

I flushed a little. "Thanks…" I muttered, blushing. Wrapping the cloak around me, I noticed it was absolutely huge, but I couldn't care less as I finally felt some warmth in this ice cold climate. "Not that I think we're okay or anything! I still think you're a creep!"

He sighed again. "Seriously, you are not cute at all. What kind of kid talks like that anyways?"

"If I'm not cute, stop harassing me, Old Man!"

"I am not—Oh, never mind. Look Kid, do you want to get off this mountain, or do you want to freeze to death here?"

I frowned. He was right. I can't stay here. My feet were already going numb, and my face was hot—likely a fever on its way. I swayed a bit, feeling light-headed all of a sudden. My eyes averted from Gildarts for a fraction of a second as my vision blurred. Unfortunately for me, that was all that was needed for Gildarts to suddenly appear in front of me, and a sharp pain erupted from my neck area.

"Sorry, Kid," His voice echoed in my head before darkness engulfed me.


Sob… sob…

I groaned slightly. My fingers twitched.

"Help… me… Help…" Tiny voices chanted continuously.

My lids opened. Eyelashes fluttered as to adjust to the darkness. Pushing myself up into a seated position, my honey brown eyes scanned the area, trying to find the source of the voice I heard moments ago.

"Hello?" I called out, but there was no answer. "Anyone here?"

Sob… Sob… "Help…"

"Who?" I yelled, attempting to stand, but blood rushed to my head, causing me to lose my balance. I pulled my hands out as I fell to the ground to break my fall. However, the moment my left hand made contact, I felt something squishy beneath my palm. I yelped and pulled my hand back. "What on Earth?"

It was at that very moment all the lights seemed to turn on simultaneously. I gasped, looking around to see… blobs? They were dark purple and grey ones all around me with little black eyes. The dark purple ones were the ones that were sobbing, and the grey ones were the ones that were calling for help. They bounced up and down, surrounding me and continuously repeating the same actions over and over again.

I shook my head, not comprehending the situation. Just then, I heard a noise like the sounds of a giant gate opening, and out of nowhere, mix coloured blobs with a look of confusion bounced over to me.

Standing up, I scanned the area once more. Hundreds of gates appeared; all but three are closed with blobs of various colours caged inside the cells. The red ones slammed angrily against its cell. The yellow ones bounced in glee. The blues looked calm and peaceful. Every one colour acted differently.

I blinked as realization hit me. "I'm dreaming, right? I'm in my head. These are… emotions? My emotions?"

And just like that, the mix coloured ones headed back into its cage, and the gate fell, closing them in. Looking back to the ones that were out, I frowned.

"So why are you still here?" I asked them. "If I have to take a guess, you're sadness," I pointed to the dark purple ones, and then I glanced over to the grey ones. "Um… fear? No, that can't be right…"

I noticed a group of deep, dark blues with a petrified look earlier. I pouted, frustration came, but I sighed.

"Forget it. This is stupid. I don't know why you're out, but I am not sad or… whatever you are. I don't need help. I'm fine on my own," I hissed to the grey ones, only for them to look at me with large, sad eyes.

"Help…"

I blinked suddenly, and I realize the world in my head was gone and all I could see at the moment was two dark brown eyes staring back at me. The eyes blinked, and I in turn. We held our gaze for what seemed like an eternity before the owner of the eyes screamed and fell off the bed. I pushed myself up and spotted a girl around my age on the floor rubbing her rear end. She had long dark brown hair in a ponytail and was currently wearing an orange dress. She looked up at me, blushed and then ran out the door yelling "Master".

Several minutes later, an extremely short and mostly bald old man, Gildarts and the girl came in. My eyes caught Gildart's, and he grinned.

"Well, looks like the princess is up. Feeling any better?"

I didn't answer his question but stared back at him instead. Memories of what happened before I fell unconscious surfaced, and I drew my lips into a very thin line. Anger burned through my veins, although, not a second later, everyone's faces changed slightly in surprise, and my anger ceased, causing me to frown in confusion.

What was going on?

"So, this is what you meant, Gildarts," the old man spoke to him.

"She's angry…" the girl said shyly, hiding behind the old man.

"And I have every right to be!" I said, bringing their attention back to me. Glaring at the red-head, I hissed, "What did you think you were doing? Hitting a girl is inexcusable! You better not have touched me anywhere, Stupid Creep!"

"Now, now…" he tried to calm me.

"What is she talking about?" the elder asked.

"Don't worry about it, Master. She was just being a little fussy, and I needed to get her off the mountains before she caught hypothermia. It was the quickest way!"

I felt my face heat up a bit. "Besides that, where am I? What's going on?"

"You are in Fairy Tail. Gildarts said he found you on top of Mt. Hakobe," the elderly man answered. "I am Makarov Dreyar, the third Guild Master of Fairy Tail," he introduced himself, before pointing to the others. "I see you've already met Gildarts, and this little one is Cana. And what's your name, Dear?"

I frowned, turning away. "I don't give my name to strangers."

Makarov sighed. "There's no need to be suspicious of us. Gildarts did save your life after all, and Fairy Tail is an official guild of Fiore. We will not harm you."

I tilted my head in confusion. What were they talking about? "Fiore? What's that? And guild? Who uses that word nowadays? What kind of weird organization uses a name like Fairytale? So childish." The three all looked at one another, looking about as confused as I was. "What?" I questioned. "What did I say?"

"Fiore is the name of this country," Cana spoke slowly, looking worried about my sanity.

"Fairy Tail is a wizard guild," the Guild Master explained. "It's where mages can take jobs, earn Jewels and hone their magic skills."

I stared in disbelief. "Wizards? Magic? You're joking, right? Wow, the afterlife is just too weird."

My eyes closed, and I breathed in and out. This is ridiculous! I thought. Why did I have to end up here out of all places? Oh right, it's because I died. I cursed my fate. With my face in my hands, I tried to think back to that time before I ended up in the afterlife. I remembered that I was cold—freezing even. Suffocating… I couldn't breathe like my lungs couldn't get any oxygen in. My chest hurt… a lot… maybe to the point where I craved for death. Accepted it.

Because there were no other options at the time.

"…Is she okay…?"

"I'm pretty sure she hit her head or something along those lines before I found her," I heard Gildarts spoke, breaking my thoughts. "She kept talking about the afterlife on Mt. Hakobe, too."

"She thinks she's dead?"

"Could be? I mean, wouldn't you if you randomly woke up on a mountain wearing a dress? She obviously wasn't traveling through the mountains."

"Attempted kidnapped, maybe?"

"Are you okay?" Cana asked, poking her head into my view.

"Would be better if the two old men would stop talking about me as if I'm not even here," I replied loud enough for them to hear. Yet, what they did say provoked my curiosity. They both stopped talking and flashed a smile at me to my irritation. Ignoring their actions, I began, "So let me get this straight. You're telling me I'm not dead? Okay, assuming I'm not actually dead—which I'm sure I am, I'm in some country called Fiore? Where on Earth is Fiore?"

"It's to the south-west of Bosco and Seven."

I blinked. "And where is that?"

"On the westernmost peninsula of Earth Land." They all looked at me, worried.

"And where—" I stopped myself, realizing they said an extra word. "I'm sorry, Earth Land?"

Cana nodded. "Earth Land. This planet," she stated as it was obvious.

"No, this is Earth."

"Yeah, Earth Land," she repeated, confused before she decided to elaborate on my behalf. "Magnolia, Fiore, Earth Land; March 22, year X774; spring—"

"Year 774?!" I interrupted, choking slightly on my saliva. No… no… NO! It's 2012!

"X774," she corrected, but I tuned her out.

So many things were going through my head at the moment, but right now, I knew it wasn't the time for that. Slapping myself to knock some sense into me, I threw the covers off, jumped out of bed and ran to a window. Peeking out, I gasped.

Outside were houses upon houses, surrounded by a sea of vast colours of green from the forest. Crystal blues flowed around the town like the gentle skim of a painter's brush. Grey cobblestone roads ran throughout the city, looking worn out from the many years of being used. The buildings held a very European look to them, created with various kinds of stone and wood, but it still held a modern look and decorated with an array of colours you wouldn't expect a normal town to possess.

This was definitely not year 774, nor was it modern day 2012. Year 1774: I could believe, yet not really.

There was just something strange about this place. A sixth sense telling me this was not the Earth I knew and grew up in, and according to them, this wasn't the afterlife either. Apparently, this was Earth Land—whatever that was supposed to mean.

I took a step back. A slight sick feeling erupted from within.

"Hey, you okay?" a deep voice called out, but I was too overwhelmed to respond.

This was definitely not Earth, and if they were right, this wasn't the afterlife either. If it wasn't any of the two options, the only other logical—or rather, illogical—explanation was that I was in… another world?

I paled. Talking gorillas, magic… wizard guilds. Oh. My. Gosh.

Before I knew what happened, I fainted.


A week had passed since I discovered where I was. Even so, a part of me still refused to believe in such fantasy-like situations, and that was after some of the guys from the guild came by and showed me their magic—to which I fainted from sight, may I add. Gildarts came by often to my dismay, although, he did explain some things to me that answered a few questions, but also brought up a whole bunch more.

Apparently, I possessed magical abilities—Emotion Magic as he liked to call it. It seemed to be some kind of lost magic, with the only kinds that remained were those used by charms to force admiration towards the user. Nonetheless, my so-called magic was currently—quote: "running wild", and with no control, I basically ended up forcing my emotions onto other, and with enough, I can change other's emotions to the one I was currently experiencing, like that Vulcan earlier as he explained. I was scared and ended up accidentally pushing enough fear into the beast that I caused him to become afraid as well.

If this had been a week ago, I would have said that was complete nonsense, but now, I simply couldn't deny the fact that was the only explanation for that monster's behaviour and how everyone seemed to know how I was feeling at the moment. It wasn't as if I was trying to let out my emotions; I kept calm, like I always did. My poker face was flawless, but for some reason, these stupid emotions of mine just had to keep leaking.

And that seriously irritated me.

Not the fact that I was in another world, or that I had strange magical abilities, but the fact that everyone can read my emotions. And to make matters worse, some people from the guild decided to make a game of who can read my emotions the quickest every time I walked by them. It took me everything I had just to not throw myself at them.

I was absolutely sick of them, and this place.

Alas, I had nowhere else to go, and the Guild Master did offer to help me control my magic, stating that Emotion Magic could take various forms and with enough practice, I could become a great mage. The former, I couldn't say no to if that meant it'll stop people from reading me. The latter, was another story.

Basically, I was stuck here in a mage guild, but I refused to join his so-called guild. I was not a member, and I'll never be. I was just a girl who needed help fixing an infuriating problem.

That was it. Period.

I hated this magic, and I often wondered why I received this magic instead of something more… reasonable. I never showed my true emotions before, and I hated it when I do. I always hid them well in my previous life, but I guess karma decided to stab me in the back and gave me something I absolutely cannot tolerate as punishment.

Karma, well, I hate you, too. Just wait, I'll control it and show you.

I spent most of my days training to control my magic. Concentration was key, according to Makarov. It seemed that I tend to be a little too self-conscious around others, fear for they'll read me, that I always seemed to lose my concentration. Cana tried to help me by offering herself to be my practice partner. However, I did notice she seemed to hang around me a lot. I couldn't tell whether it was because I was the only person her age or some other reason. My guess was on the latter as I noted she always questioned me about Gildarts while seeming a little… jealous?

But nevertheless, I wrote that off as there was absolutely no way an eight-year old would have a crush on a middle-age man. Though, I couldn't help but still be a little doubtful.

"Why don't you learn magic?" I suddenly asked one night in Fairy Tail's main dining area. I poked at the meat a bit before taking a bite. "You've been here for two years, right? Why?"

She lowered her eyes. "No reason… I guess I don't know what kind of magic to use yet," she giggled, ignoring my latter question. Her eyes shifted slightly towards Gildarts. I raised an eyebrow in question.

"You know, he's old enough to be your father," I commented causally, taking another bite, only to hear Cana coughing violently. Hurriedly, I reached for a glass of water and gave it to her, rubbing her back. "Are you okay?"

She nodded, still coughing slightly. "Yeah, thanks."

I blushed, turning away. "I—I only did that because I didn't want anyone to die around me. They'd think I'd poison you or something."

Cana shook her head. "No, I think you're a nice person," she said. "I'm sure they wouldn't think that. You're just dishonest with your feelings."

"I am not!" I retorted, red in the face, but Cana looked at me unexpectedly and giggled. "What?"

"You're bashful."

"I said I'm not, so I'm not." Stupid Emotion Magic.

"Hey Princess, why all red? Is she being bashful again?" Gildarts laughed as he came over to us.

"No!" I replied, while Cana replied, "Yes!" at the same time.

I frowned. "And stop calling me Princess."

"Well, you won't get us your name," he countered.

"And I never will," I fired, narrowing my eyes at him.

He suddenly laughed, patting my head which annoyed me further. "Still feisty, but I guess that's what makes the guild more exciting."

Flushed, I pulled my head away. "I'm not joining your guild," I muttered weakly, facing my dinner and pretending it was more exciting than what Gildarts had to say. I stabbed at the peas angrily, but one of them flew off my plate as I tried to stab it, flying and hitting Gildarts in the eye.

"Ow!"

I gasped, leaning over the table. "Are you okay?! I'm so sorry! That stupid pea! I—I… Oh my gosh!" I panicked but was met with a roaring laughter. I broke away from my panic attack as Gildarts was laughing like a madman.

"I take it back, you really are adorable." He patted my head again as I stared at him in disbelief. "What a cute kid."

My face puckered up, and I slapped his hand away. "I am not cute! Don't touch me, Old Man!"

We continued these actions, which caught the attention of everyone else in the guild. They all laughed and cheered, making me feel extremely self-conscious about myself. I could see Makarov grinning at me by the bar. I was pretty sure by now, my emotions leaked to just about everyone in the room, knowing it was pointless to argue back.

"Hertz."

We all stopped and stared at the dark haired girl beside me. She smiled and pointed to me. "Hertz. Eirlys Hertz. It's perfect! Eirlys means snowdrop, which are one of the earliest flowers to bloom in the spring, and Gildarts found you on March 21th—spring! Also, Hertz means heart because emotions come from the heart, but I also believe you're actually a really nice person. You were really worried about me and Gildarts today, even though it wasn't a big deal," Cana blushed. "So I think the name Eirlys Hertz suits you."

I blinked, and so did everyone else. I was stunned by what she just did. Gildarts was the first to break the silence. "That's a great name! Eirlys it is!"

All of a sudden, the guild exploded in cheers, agreeing to my new name. Someone called out for a toast, but I interrupted them, slamming my hands on the table.

"Don't just go around naming people!" I accused her, frowning.

"…" Cana stated at me, studying. I didn't look away since I wanted to show her that I was serious. "Bashful," she spoke to my face, and my cheeks went all red.

"I am not!" I groaned, hiding my face in my arms.

"I think she likes the name," Gildarts whispered to Cana, and she giggled. "Nice job, Kid."

"I think so too."

Eirlys Hertz, huh?

My blush grew, but I didn't say anything. I kept my head down as long as they would let me before dragging me off to some kind of celebration. I didn't know what it was for, but they had one like every day, so I just went along with it. But something tells me, this was only the start of a new—and long and crazy and chaotic and dangerous—adventure.

"Welcome to the Fairy Tail family, Eirlys Hertz!" Master's voice rang throughout the building.

Family… I smiled sadly. I looked around at all the people smiling and laughing… like a real family, even though they aren't related by blood.

Maybe, just maybe I'll stay in this guild for a little bit longer.

Just a little.


A/N: I apologize if this chapter was a little dull, but I needed a way to get everything out of the way without dragging it for too long. Oh, and just to be clear, Eirlys' character is not supposed to be rude. It probably doesn't show that very well in the first chapter. She's tsundere, and very cautious and prideful. If you think she's a little too mature for her age, there's a reason for that. There's a reason for just about everything I put in my stories. Be patient, and you'll find out soon. :)

Just to let you know, it's going to have a fairly dark tone (like all of my other stories, sadly), with some comical moments here and there.

So what do you think? Like always, constructive criticism very much appreciated! But no flames. Flames do not, and never will, help writers improve their work. Thanks.

Review please!