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Battle is an Art

Summary

Herah always considered herself a master artist, be it a painting, sculpture, portrait or whatever, Herah could make it without problem. 
Combine this with her gift to make her art into a reality, her great combat prowess and her infinite amount of willpower, she was clearly a no brainer to participate in Recompense; a series of trials that if one won would grant the winner anything they wanted.
With each trial being not only a battle to win but to survive, and the fact that the losers got a prize as well, that most really didn't  want, and the Cendruex had some stiff competition.
But with a broken No.2 pencil, a nervous smithing apprentice, a too trusting liar and an honest, omniscient jackass, Herah had Recompense in the bag.
After all, Herah was a master artist, and she always considered battle exactly that: an art.

 

Getting the Idea

Herah had five simple wants in life.

One, and this is most important, to honor La Flamme.

Two, the ability to create her art in peace, for it was a source of great pride.

Three, meet a space Cendre, because that would be fucking awesome.

Four, forge weapons and armor worthy enough to be wielded by a Nettoyant.

Five, have or meet someone to continue whatever legacy that will be left in her wake.

Herah also had three simple responses to anything that tried to stop her from completing these wants.

Harm it.

Beat it.

Or in extreme cases,

Kill it.

It was Tarkos, the second day of the week, and Herah's second cycle at Noir E. Blanc Academy. The youngling was in class with her teacher, Elder Rose, doing what was normal for her for the last quarter cycle in Rose's class, ignoring the pink skinned and scaled elder while also entertaining herself. The youngling's source of entertainment for this very day being a portrait of her teacher, which was nearly finished.

Parts of the teacher already completed, were the eyes and horns, which had pink irises with slit pupils and were curled on the side of her head respectfully. Herah had also completed drawing the scales that covered Rose's forehead down to her nose, the rest of the face being covered in skin. The youngling was working on the elder's full-teeth smile. The youngling had just gotten up to the last of the elder's fangs when the subject of the portrait broke the younglings focus.

"Mmmhmm."

Normally, this sound would've been ignored, since it was usually directed at other students, but the youngling heard it in such close proximity to herself that Herah couldn't help but turn her head up from her art to see whose attention Rose was attempting to get. This led Herah to be rather surprised when her eyes made contact with Rose's glare, the elder's arms crossed in front of her.

"What are you doing?" Herah asked her teacher, genuine confusion laced within her voice and expression, not only because of the fact that Rose had interrupted her working, something very few did in fear of a beating, but because it also broke the deal the two had made. The teacher only continued to glare at her unproductive student, causing Herah to glare back.

All of the other students in the room immediately stopped whatever they were doing to watch the duo, some even swapping cash while others placed new bets. The air was becoming thick with anticipation at was going to happen next, neither of the two subjects of interest caring. They just continued to stare at each other until Rose said, "It's about time we resolved the problem that you and I have.

Herah's glare transformed into a smug grin, her response being, "You mean the problem you have, and I'm all down for it, but my condition hasn't changed."

"I will not call you elder, for you are not above me, and I will never admit such a lie." Rose's glare lost a bit of its edge, "I just want to want solve this without needless violence."

"Mmph."

"Hahahahaahah!"

Rose snarled, watching as Herah bang her head into her desk, the youngling's body racked with laughter. Her laughter quickly switched into startled grunts however, as Herah tried to lift her head back up. The youngling's horns seemed to dig deeper into the desk at her attempts to pull her head away. This continued with Herah adding more force to pull her horns from her desk, letting out a growl at the sounds of Rose and the rest of her class laughing at her predicament.

Turning her head to glare at everyone in the room, causing a hush to immediately fall over the class. Herah then turned back to Rose and said," You want solve this peacefully then do what I said, because I'm not changing my condition. The customs of the Cendreux, our people, determine that the only way we're solving this "issue" is through obeying my demands, as the superior Cendreux, or one of us defeating the other." Herah began to stare at Rose with a mock look of concern, and began to speak to the teacher with a worried tone, that both knew was faked, " But by the sounds of it, you might've forgotten our customs." Herah paused, giving Rose a faux confused expression, before shaking her head and throwing out her hand towards Rose before continuing, "Nah. It couldn't be that."

Herah gave her head a bit of a tilt, acting as if pondering Rose's question then cheerfully said," Oh! Maybe it's not that, maybe you forgot exactly how this all went down. Well if that's the case, allow me refresh you on the events that led to my "belief" of superiority."

Herah got up from her desk and stood right next to Rose, turning her head towards the elder and tilting her head up a bit since Rose had her beat by a few inches in height, Herah whispered condescendingly, " The first day we met, I walked into this class and blew three rings of fire at you, the first step to Ash va s'installer, the common greeting from one Cendreux to the other when looking to shape first impressions. You answered back by backing away in fear, not shock or surprise, but full on fear. I was left rather intrigued by this, I mean, you are my elder, you're supposed to show me my place, assert your dominance, and ash state me as your equal, anything but what you actually did."

Herah walked around to Rose's other ear and whispered, "Now, I understand you might've been surprised, since, you know, younglings rarely ever perform Ash va s'installer, when greeting an elder. I mean, the mere fact you're an elder is usually confirmation enough to tell us to respect you." Herah then pointed at herself," But not for me, you see this school is filled with elders who do not deserve the respect and attention I would normally give to someone of that status. My "belief" as you so believe is non-existent. Because I don't believe your beneath me." 

Herah then moved in front of her teacher, giving her a smile filled with a vicious delight, her next words were filled with such confidence that they might as well have been concrete,

"You. Simply. Are."

Nearly two cycles worth of rage flooded Rose's mind at that statement, causing the teacher to immediately rip the portrait of herself in half and grab Herah by the front of her sleeveless red tee, bringing the youngling face to face with her. Herah quickly lost her smile as her focus settled on the two falling pieces of paper. Only once the destroyed art fell to the floor did Herah look at her teacher, gritting her fangs while growling out, her voice now much deeper and feral,

"MY WORK!"

"That. Doesn't. Matter." Rose said, mocking Herah's earlier words, "What matters is getting you to understand how this works!" Rose yelled back, the elder's anger on full display, gritting her fangs as her grip on Herah's shirt remained tight. "You will learn to respect me, because I'm sick and tired of your shit!"

"Hey," Herah started, her voice and face doing a complete one-eighty, her tone now extremely soft and her head looking down, "You remember what happened to Toby when that bastard spilled some water on a drawing I was making three weeks ago, don't you?"

"Of course, it happened right outside my class. Toby just returned from the hospital today. What does that have to do with anything?" Rose answered back, now a bit confused.

"Well guess just how much worse you're going to get for that." Herah said, her voice still lacking life as one of her claws pointed towards the ripped pieces of paper that used to be Rose's portrait.

Rose turned her head towards the scraps of paper, not realizing that her grip loosened up enough for Herah to grab the teacher by her head and force the elder's face to meet her knee.

CRACK!

The sound of cartilage breaking was heard as Rose's head was snapped back upwards in an instance, leaving the teacher reeling, which caused her to release Herah to cover her broken nose. After returning to her senses, the elder glared and snarled at Herah, who herself looked downright pissed, and shouted, "You know what?! Fuck it! I realize not that my hope for a peaceful solution isn't going to happen. And as much as I hate to admit this, the only way my message will get through your thick skull is if it's beaten into it!"

Finished with talking, Rose unfurled her wings, a pair of bat like limbs that were a lighter tone of pink than the teacher's skin, and with a single powerful flap Rose launched herself towards Herah. Grabbing the youngling by her face, Rose caused the duo to fly through her whiteboard Herah first, launching chunks of the lesson plan every which way as the two smashed into the lockers outside of the class. Not yet finished, the teacher took Herah's head, and smashed it into the lockers again, crushing the steel with little resistance. Rose then began to drag the youngling's head through the lockers, leaving Herah covered in mixture of school supplies, lunches, and personal medication. This short trip through the lockers went on until they reached the cement wall that was next to the lockers, which the teacher stopped at, then punched Herah's head through. Rose followed this up by grabbing the downed youngling by her leg and throwing her into another set of lockers that sat on the opposite wall, completely caving them in as a result.

Rose refused to let up in her assault, dashing over to Herah, who had fallen out of the ruined lockers and stood up seemingly unaffected by the attacks, and drop kicking her down the hallway and into the fourth-floor stairwell. Herah crashed into the steps, leaving a few destroyed and the rest with the youngling embedded into them. Rose then flew over to the stairs and punched Herah down and through them.

BOOM!

A sound not unlike that of a bomb was heard as a dust cloud full of dust and debris was launched towards the one who had creating it, causing Rose to Rose used her wings to launch herself towards Herah, breaking the sound barrier, causing nearby windows to shatter. As her body was launched towards Herah, the teacher flipped and raised one of her legs to slam into Herah. Unluckily for Rose, Herah caught her foot and threw her through the wall just behind the now destroyed stairs.

Herah, still laying atop the rubble that used to be a stairwell, stood to her feet not at all nonplussed by her teacher's attacks and began to clean her hair and face of the accumulated debris. Herah did this by taking a deep breath and exhaling a small sliver of flames into her hands, and then simply thought of the fire covering them. With her hands now ablaze, Herah grabbed her own braided pony tail and moved her hands along it, burning away all of the dust and useless school supplies. With her red hair now clean, Herah let her ponytail drop back to its original length ending at her tailbone. Herah then moved onto her face and began to burn away the mess that covered it, until all that was left of it was a pile of ash. The youngling was then left with cleaning her shirt and red jeans, which left another pile of ash on the rubble and Herah looking like just another student going to lunch.

Speaking of which, Herah walked through the hole co-created by her and began to look around in search of the elder, not really caring that they were in the lunchroom. Youngling and elder Cendreux sat in their seats, none really caring for the fight that was going on, that was until a random student, recognizing the two called out,

"Hey! It's Herah and Elder Rose. I told you that they would crack before even a fourth of a cycle was over, didn't I Lach, now pay up!" Suddenly everyone cared about the fight, a mass exchange of money suddenly occurring as everyone either paid up or got paid. Herah even saw some other teachers swapping cash there, who once they saw Herah looking upon them turned away with nervous looks on their faces. The youngling scoffed, disgusted with their behavior. Herah quickly lost interest in the teacher's and began to search for Rose in the chaos riddled cafeteria, wanting a bit more entertainment from the angry elder.

After a few seconds of searching, Herah, who had gotten distracted by a pair of student's that were arguing over how much one owed the other, found her attention drawn to the shouting of several Cendreux students to her right. Turning that way, Herah was not at all surprised by the sight of Rose flying at her, with one of her legs reared back for a kick. Sweeping her foot through the air, Rose attempted to send Herah flying however the youngling easily caught Rose's leg and threw her away. A few seconds later Herah heard more screams coming from another direction, turning to face what her guesses led her to believe to be Rose once again. This time however, her guess was wrong.

Very wrong.

SMACK!

As if her entire body was slapped, Hera went flying back through her still co-created hole as the 9-foot table struck her, her body flattening against it like a pancake and her horns piercing the wood. Flipping both herself and the table while sailing through the air, Herah managed to get her horns out and land the table with only a slight bump, now speeding down the main hallway.

"Fight back!" Rose shouted, Herah merely flared her nostrils, releasing a tiny spout of flames in response while giving the elder a smirk, finding amusement in her teacher's reactions. And Herah had all the reason to, Rose didn't look to good, her mint slacks and dull pink dress shirt had many tears covering them. Her head was also covered in dust and debris and had a few cuts on the scaleless parts of her face, all of this from being thrown through a wall once. This was in stark contrast to how Herah looked, the youngling being completely clean and her clothes perfectly intact, adding that even after all of Rose's attacks Herah had no visible cuts or bruises on her body, the odds seemed in Herah's favor.

As Rose flew towards Herah, fire was blown into her hands covering them much like Herah had earlier as the elder landed upon the speeding table. Herah stared at the flames covering the woman's hands and gave a snarky remark, "Don't tell me you forgot that burning me with fire is not a possibility, ash you can't even do that to scaleless newborns." Herah held her hands up, as if praising the air, and smiled with maniac joy while continuing her sentence in a frighteningly joyful voice, "Our ability to breathe fire is a gift from La Flamme herself, and our mistress would never give us such power without the ability to protect against it!"

Rose let out a snort of flames and swatted at Herah's head, causing the youngling to bring up her arm in response, making Rose's claws bounce of her scales. Rose then grabbed Herah by her shirt, causing flames to spread across all of her clothing, and punched her in the stomach. Herah gave a slight stumble back and then grabbed Rose by the face and slammed her into the table, causing it to shudder and crack, but not break apart. The elder then punched Herah in the wrist, causing the youngling to let go with a pained hiss and step back, allowing the raging teacher to pounce upon Herah, knocking the youngling onto her back. Now on top, Rose used her fist to smash Herah's head through the table, causing it to splinter and break apart. The still on fire Herah slammed headfirst into the floor, going forward as tile and flooring was uprooted. Rose jumped off and flew above Herah as this all occurred, and after a few seconds slammed feet first into the youngling's gut. As a result of this, Herah abruptly lost her momentum and breathe, a crater was forming where her body stopped. Rose jumped into the air again, and as the teacher did so, Herah instinctually used Rompu to disconnect the nerves on her stomach. Rose came back down and began to wail on Herah, punching the student in the stomach in rapid succession, releasing a boom with each strike. Each punch Rose landed, dug Herah deeper into the floor, steadily uprooting tiles in the process. Rose then grabbed Herah by one of her legs and threw her through a double door and into the gym.

A still flaming Herah skipped across the floor a few times before twirling about and landing on her feet, sliding a bit as the action was completed. Herah, hearing the flap of large wings, looked up towards the gym door. What the youngling found was Rose, hovering a fair distance from the ground, slightly hunched over and breathing heavily. The teacher used one of her flaming hands to clean her face, then pointed at Herah and haggardly said, 

"You will respect me." With those words, Rose launched herself towards Herah, leaving a sonic boom in her wake. As soon as Rose was in arms reach, Herah caught her teacher by the throat, not even allowing the elder to attempt to punch her. 

BOOM!

The back wall of the gym exploded from the force generated by Rose's sudden stop, launching bricks out into the student filled courtyard it was right next to, causing shouts and screams to be heard as they scrambled for cover.

Herah and Rose paid no attention to this, their attention was solely on each other. Rose, still being held by the throat by her student, continued to glare at Herah, her rage bleeding through her eyes as they attempted to stare the youngling to death. Herah, her clothes no longer on fire thanks to Rose, glared right back at her teacher.

"Are you done?" Herah asked, "Because the only one of us who looks hurt here is you. And that's just sad." Rose weakly clawed at Herah's face, dragging a claw upon the youngling's face scales. Exhaustion had finally caught up with her body, but not with her will, defiance still in the eyes of the elder. Seeing this Herah, couldn't help but feel a deep amount of respect for the teacher, and after all of this, Herah felt it about time to share these thoughts. 

"That!" Herah started, quite literally beaming at Rose, " That right there is why I respect you!" Rose, gave Herah a bewildered stare, as the youngling continued "Your will far surpasses that of any of the other elders and younglings in this school, and I can respect that. You seem to believe that because I see myself as your better, that there is no possible way for me to respect you." Herah just shook her head, continuing on in her words," But you're wrong! I do respect you, I just don't respect you because you're an elder." Herah then backed away from Rose, stood at attention and exhaled a flaming flower. The flower was no bigger than the younglings fist and made of blue flames, with four petals creating a parachute-like design with the connecting purple stems that merged into one, creating a small opening with what looked like a red orb in its center.

" A wisp lantern?" Rose asked, not exactly sure of why Herah summoned the religious flower. In response Herah crushed the flower, the blue flames shrouding her fist which the youngling then slammed into her chest. This caused Herah to gain a shroud of blue flames.

"As a devote follower and worshiper of La Flamme, I require three things." Herah then brought up a single finger, "One, an unwavering faith." Another finger was raised, "Two, a keen eye." A final finger was raised, "And third, an eternally strong will."

Herah than brought her hand down, losing the flame shroud, and smiled at Rose. 

"While I don't know how strong your faith is, and I know for sure you're not the most aware Cendreux, I know you possess an eternally strong will, and anyone with that has earned my respect. After all, you've dealt with so much of my shit for nearly two cycles without ever attempting violence. To be honest, your threshold for dealing with annoying things far surpasses mine and most Cendreux I know."

"Now you know that I respect you, but-" Herah then balled her fist and slammed it into her hand, her smile suddenly becoming vicious.

"You still owe me for the portrait." 

Ten minutes later, another teacher appeared, coming to see how the fight ended. What they found was Herah standing next to a bloodied and unconscious Rose, with her scaly hands covered in blood. The teacher then called the hospital, letting them know that Rose needed to be picked up. It was another ten minutes before an ambulance arrived and transported the elder to a hospital. As Herah stood next to the destroyed gym, the youngling watched in mild amusement as the ambulance drove away, not at all worried for the teacher.

"Herah War Hej, would you please report to the principal office?" A loud speaker sounded out from next to Herah, causing the youngling to groan and began her walk to the office in question. After a brief trip down the destroyed hallway, Herah flew herself up onto the fifth floor and turned left into the office.

Once Herah stepped inside, the youngling found herself face to face with her black scaled and skinned principal, wearing his white suit and sitting in his white leather chair. 

"Noir, you asked for me?" Herah said, her brash tone and completely relaxed stance causing one of Noir's eye to twitch. Noir then sat forward, bringing his arms in front of him, glaring at Herah as he did so. After a bit of Herah staring back him unimpressed, Noir looked away from the youngling with a sigh. The elder then turned back to the student and said,

"Young Hej, I know you know why you're here, and we both how this all began. So, let's skip right to what I need to get out of the way, why don't we?" Noir said, with Herah simply give her head a lazy nod.

"I understand that you and Elder Rose got into a fight that left a bit of wreckage, bit being an understatement. So, I'll be going over the damage you two manage to create." Noir then took out a moderately thick folder that Herah rose her brow at, surprised at the fact someone managed to record all the damage they had created that quickly.

"On the third floor, where the least damaged was created, you two managed to create a hole that had a diameter of ten feet and six inches deep in a fact enforced brick wall, you managed to cave in and wreck fifty lockers, forty of which you apparently had your head smashed through, that were made of fact enforced steel. We then move onto to the stairwell and windows you two destroyed, a combination of fact enforced rebar, concrete, and glass but for you two they might've as well have been paper, since it's currently spread across the entirety of the first floor." Noir paused to massage his forehead before continuing, "Speaking of the first floor, you managed to create a hole in the wall of the cafeteria and-" "I co-created that hole." Herah interrupted, a completely neutral expression upon her face as the statement was said. Noir only stared at the youngling in confusion, seeing this Herah continued, "I co-created that hole, you said "you" created that hole, it was a collaborative effort between me and Rose." Noir merely rubbed his forehead again and continued his overview of the damage created, "Anyway, after the cafeteria wall, which was made of proven bricks had a hole fifteen diameters wide "co-created" by you, a cafeteria table of plywood reinforced so heavily with facts that it might as well have been five hundred pound steel table, which is now splintered apart and spread throughout the hallway. Speaking of the hallway, while the entirety of it isn't destroyed, over a hundred feet of tiles uprooted and stabbing into all the lockers, walls, and even the ceiling near it. And that crater, wow just wow, an eight-foot-deep crater that managed to create twenty feet worth of damage. Then we get to the gym, the place in the school most specially built to deal with large amounts of physical activity, which had the entirety of the back wall destroyed, which was made of even more heavily proven bricks than the cafeteria wall. I tell you all of this because this is your most destructive, in control, incident yet. All of this damage caps out at about," Noir paused for a moment to make sure the number was right, "2.9 million dollars. We're not funded by our government and this school isn't made of money!" Noir finished, sounding absolutely livid.

Herah didn't even have the decency to look ashamed, instead the youngling said, with a completely straight face, "You're acting like you can't have the geology class fix it free of charge, plus I haven't caused the school that much damage." In response to this, Noir reached under his desk and took out a stack of papers that had to be at least five feet. "This is recordings of all the damage you've caused to this school, just this cycle. If I added last cycle to it, the stack would break through our roof." Noir then leaned over his desk and glared at Herah, "Why should I let you stay at this school?" Each word was said deliberately drawn out, making it clear that this was Herah's last chance. Herah realizing this only, glared back at Noir, looking down upon the elder and said,

"You shouldn't."

Clearing the Canvas

"I'm home!"

"You finally managed to get expelled, I see." A charmingly, smooth and masculine voice greeted Herah.

"You say that as if it wasn't her choice to pretty much expel herself." A distinctly brash, yet feminine voice, much like Herah's if it was older, responded back.

Herah walked into her house and was immediately greeted with a pair of aquamarine and emerald eyes, from her father and mother respectively, staring her down. Her father, Orange, a well built and muscled orange colored Cendreux, was standing in the kitchen chewing some meat, while her mother, Rouge, a much slimmer but still muscled, red colored Cendreux of the same vein as Herah, was sitting on their couch glaring at her daughter, her emerald color eyes filled with both annoyance and disappointment. Herah seeing this glared back with a light blush upon her cheeks, slightly annoyed at the accusing stare. Herah then looked back to her father, rolling her eyes at his clothing. The Elder was wearing a light blue polo shirt with the top two buttons unbuttoned, and his khaki slacks that had a few new rips and tears. Orange saw Herah staring at him, and turned his smile towards her. The father then used his tail to rub his unruly, neck long hair, a few strands of it sticking out wildly, before pointing towards Rouge with his four foot appendage. Herah turned to her mother, who was still glaring at her with a small snarl in place, now standing up with her arms crossed. This allowed Herah to see Rouge's green tunic, which had a bit of gun powder on the sleeves and the scent of oil upon it.

Herah said nothing else, only walking into their home, a modest two-story house, and throwing her backpack next to her couch. The youngling then walked into the kitchen the pursuit of food on her mind. 

Their kitchen was small, only able to fit four Cendreux into it at any given time, which was perfectly fine, since there was only the three. The tiled floor was cool, something Herah found soothing to her bare feet. There was some meat defrosting on the center area which the family used to place groceries they recently picked up, quarry Orange had recently hunted, or food that was to be eaten soon. Orange was standing at the bar still chewing on the meat from earlier when Herah walked up to her father and asked,

 "Hey dad, what're you eating?" 

Orange looked back at his daughter and said, still chewing,

"Tendon."

"Where does it come from?"

"Animals."

"What animal?"

"The type you eat."

"Species?"

"Edible."

Herah, seeing that her father wasn't going to give her the answer, turned to her mother who, once the elder realized Herah was staring at her, said, "I'm not talking to you about anything except for what happened at school and what we are going to do now, so unless that's what you're asking about, you're getting nothing out of me." Herah rolled her eyes in response, and sniffed her father's food.

"You finally got around to killing the boar, I see." Herah stated, grinning cheekily towards her father, who rolled his eyes and grinned right back at his daughter, letting out a small chuckle at their exchange.

"Oh wow! You managed to use your nose, should I get on my knees now and worship the all mighty, all knowing Herah?" Rouge mockingly asked Herah, flourishing her hands in an overly dramatic fashion, as the elder walked over to the bar and leaned onto the counter.

"Piss off." Herah said, feeling a bit fed up with her mother's hostility.

"Was that a challenge I heard my dear daughter? Unlike that pathetic teacher of yours, I can actually beat your ass and I'll do it rig-"

Crack!

Orange's tail shot through the bar counter, stabbing at Rouge's eye while the elder launched his hand towards Herah's face, his claw just tapping her chin. Both Herah and Rouge began to breathe hard, puffs of cool air coming out of their normally warm mouths. Their pupils also changing from their normally slit states, to a more circular form and enlarging as well. Frost began to form on the red duos' scales and clothing, slowly creeping up from their legs and towards their heads. Herah was terrified, her father's Presence rapidly changing from playful and nice to deadly and bloodthirsty. The two stared at Orange, who was the only thing seemingly unaffected by the sudden shift in temperature of the room, the only thing different about him being his glowing and pupil-less aquamarine eyes. The father then shifted his eyes back and forth between them a neutral expression adorning his face.

"No fighting in the house. Herah grab your food and go into the living room. Your mother seems rather intent on talking about the school thing, so let's do exactly that." Orange said, his normally smooth voice, now a flat monotonous tone. The elder Cendreux then moved his claw and tail away from the mother and daughter. The room returned to its original temperature, the frost that had appeared out of nowhere disappearing as it came. The only evidence of what had occurred ever happening being the two Cendreux still catching their breath. Once back to normal, Rouge gave a small huff, and walked back over to the couch. Herah began to say something but stopped herself and just grabbed some food instead. Herah might've been hard headed, but when it came to her father obedience was always given, definitely once subjugated  to his Presence.

Herah grumbled to herself, reaching into the fridge and cutting some tendon off of the recently killed boar with one of her claws, before walking back into the living room. Herah gave said room a sweeping glance as everyone went to sit down. It was a much larger than the kitchen, able to fit a three-Cendreux couch, loveseat, coffee table, lamp stand, recliner, and a modestly sized TV. The walls of the living room followed the same pattern as the rest of the house, being a dim yellow, and the floor being spruce wood. The furniture was all white while the table, TV, and stand were black. The living room was directly connected to the kitchen, the only separation being the bar. The couch was a few feet from the bar counter, the coffee table right in front of it, and the TV in front of that. The decliner was a suitable distance to the right of the coffee table, facing the TV, with the lamp and lamp stand just on the left of it and a window on the right. The loveseat was to the left of the coffee table and facing the recliner, it also had two yellow pillows on it, which Orange immediately laid against after getting into the living room and sitting down. Rouge had moved over to the recliner and angled it towards the couch, which Herah sat upon chewing her tendon as the three stared at each other.

After a few awkward moments of Rouge glaring at Herah, Herah glaring back and Orange just watching the two do this, Herah folded her arms and asked,

"So, what do you want to talk about?" 

Orange seeing this smiled and answered back. "Well, I think it's a good idea to try and get you back into that scho-

 "No."

Orange said nothing in response, the elder just gave Herah a look making it clear an explanation was needed and it was supplied.

"I made the decision to leave, and I refuse to go back on it. I'm not fickle enough to tell someone to do one thing, then ask for them to do the complete opposite. Actions and behavior such as that are not befitting of one of La Flamme's most devote follower."

"Sweety, I'm pretty sure La Flamme won't look down on you for choosing to go back on your decision, it's not as if this was a premeditated thought," Orange paused briefly, " It wasn't, was it?" Orange said, only causing Herah to nod no.

"No, I only thought about it when Elder Noir asked why I shouldn't be expelled."

Rouge hearing this then asked Herah, "What did you think you should be expelled for anyway? It's not because of the destruction you two created is it? After all you've caused more damage on your own way before this. I remember you managed to destroy over half the school once when you went into one of your feral rages. The only reason you weren't expelled for that one was because it was found out you had the wrong medication to deal with it."

Herah shook her head once again, and answered back, "For a while now, I've known and acknowledged the fact that most of our instructors are completely and utterly undeserving of their jobs. They rarely ever stood up for themselves, just allowing the students to do whatever they wanted if they deemed them too "troublesome". As if! Those weaklings, might've been able to hurt a teacher if they weren't so passionless. Nearly every Cendreux in that school was utterly useless, and I refuse to allow their way of thinking rub off on me."

Herah stood up and began gesturing to herself and towards the ceiling, "I want to be able to show my appreciation for La Flamme, by forging weapons our Nettoyants, those handpicked by her to expand her will beyond our galaxy. But that school taught me absolutely nothing about smithing, just how to add and subtract rational expressions and how to speak and read a language I already know." The youngling then spat out the final sentence, her disgust very clear, "Going back is definitely not an option."

Rouge sighed in irritation, bringing her palm to her head, and matter-o-factly stated, "You know what, you seem so fucking sure on what you're not going to do, do you have any idea what you're going to do?"

Herah paused for a moment, then somehow blushed even deeper, as the youngling realized that getting expelled was the farthest her thoughts went. Rouge immediately caught onto this, and made it clear,

"You didn't think ahead, did you?" Rouge mocked Herah, standing up and wagging one of her fingers in the youngling's face, causing Herah to growl and bite at the extended digit. Drawing her finger back, Rouge gave a victorious smirk as Herah began to shake in anger and embarrassment.

"Shut up!"

"Make me!"

"AAAHHHH!"

"Don't throw a tantrum now, it's not my fault you're an idiot."

"Fuck you!"

"Well you're the only one getting fucked right now. You don't even know what to do with yourself! In fact, I bet you wo-"

But before the mother could insult her child any further, Orange glared at Rouge again, forcing his Presence upon her at the same time, causing his wife to halt in her statement and for her body to rapidly gain a frost cover. Orange then walked over to Rouge and hooked one of her frozen horns with a claw, giving it a light tug to make her face him. Rouge turned her terrified face towards Orange, who shook his head disapprovingly with a small snarl upon his face.

"Stop verbally assaulting our daughter. I know your frustrated with her, but acting like a cunt isn't going to make you or anyone else here right now happy." Orange said, ire very clearly laced within his voice. Orange then redrew his Presence, his glare and snarl losing all anger in the process, and transforming into a knowing look. Orange continued, his voice now much kinder,

"Just tell Herah what's bothering you, we're not going to get anywhere if you two just keep yelling at each other.

Rouge, hearing this, turned away from both Cendreux, and began to frown. After a few seconds of this, Rouge turned back to Herah her frown still in place, but her expression less hostile. Letting out a breath, the elder Cendreux began to speak, her tone losing much of its brashness and anger,

"I'm not apologizing for what I said, but I will say I might've been a bit unreasonable. It's just," Rouge looked away from Herah, and let out another breath before continuing, "You're a very, and I mean very, proud Cendreux and while I'm happy that you're so sure of yourself and La Flamme, I'm afraid that this self-assurance is going to limit your vision, and leave you with no options. Remember when you told us that you wanted to become a blacksmith, we tried to get you an apprenticeship under some of the local blacksmith. You were so sure of the fact you would be apprenticed under one of them, that you had no other options when every single one of them turned you down. The only reason you ended up at Noir Academy was because we had managed to pull a few strings. Herah, you only ever consider the now and the distant future, never in between and that keeps biting you in the ass." Rouge then crossed her arms and gave a them a nervous rub, looking away from Herah with a surprisingly sad look upon her face.

Herah, both seeing and hearing her mother's reaction, looked away and frowned. After a few seconds of this, Herah found her face turned back towards her mother, by Orange, who was giving the two his "make up" stare. Herah and Rouge looked at each other, pensive expressions covering each of their faces, this awkward standoff lasting until Rouge opened up her arms and gestured towards herself with her hands.

"Come here."

Herah looked at her mother for a few seconds, then awkwardly shuffled up to her, hugging the elder Cendreux just as awkwardly. Orange seeing this, gave a big happy smile, showing each and every single one of his blood covered fangs to the two hugging Cendreux.

"See isn't that better. You two always argue, but we always end up here. No shouting, no anger, just hugging. Now get ready for me, cause I'm coming in for my own." Orange said, his voice back down to its original smoothness. The elder then threw the last of his tendon into his mouth, and crushed the hugging duo in a hug of his own. Though Rouge was taller, being 8'10 compared to his 7'11, Orange's naturally superior strength allowed him to lift up both his wife and child, and swing them around in a circle.

After a few seconds of this, Orange sat the two down, Herah and Rouge stumbling a bit as they did so. After Herah and Rouge regained their balance, the group of three returned to their seats and spent a while talking about what to do now that Herah made it clear Noir E. Blanc wasn't an option.

"Maybe we could try the apprentice route again, a new blacksmith just moved in from out a town. Maybe they'll take you-"

CRASH!

"Dammit Jeffery!" Herah shouted, the sound of glass shattering being heard as the figure in question was swiped out of the air as they tried to fly by the youngling. Rouge looked at their now shattered living room window that was next to Herah, then back to her daughter with a look that was clearly not amused. The elder then told her with a flat tone, "You're fixing that."

Herah snarled and threw Jeffery at her father, walking over to her backpack to get supplies to fix the window. Orange caught Jeffery with one hand and laid them across his lap and began to rub their spine, while speaking to Herah, "You should treat your art supplies better sweety," Orange then threw Jeffery back to Herah while giving her a smirk, "I hear it's unbelievably hard to get your hands on giant pencils nowadays, some might even say impossible."

Herah caught Jeffery with her free hand, the other occupied by a sketchbook and pencil. The youngling then twirled Jeffery and tossed them into the air.

"Stay still." Herah said as Jeffery righted themselves in the air. Herah then gave the pencil a glare, looking them up and down to get her point across. This examination also allowed her to make sure nothing new had been added to the pencil, especially red, as often happened when they were left alone. Jeffery was still the same color of an average pencil, no spots or lines of any other color running across their orange jacket. Jeffery's eraser was still red, no signs of discoloration or the sort which Herah was happy about. By the look of it, Jeffery was still 6'4 and they were no thicker or thinner. The last thing Herah checked for was Jeffery's lead, which was still as sharp as possible.

Seeing that Jeffery had no changes (that were perceivable by her) made to them, Herah turned back to the broken window and tossed her normal sized pencil into her now unoccupied hand. After giving the window a bit of an examination, Herah began to sketch a version of the thing that wasn't broken. The design was simple enough for Herah, a square with a four by four design that had a different flower for each pane. The top left pane had a white dandelion that covered the entirety of it, the top right a white lavender that ran from the top left to the bottom right of the pane. The bottom left, the pane that had been broken, had a white rose in the center of it, in the process of blooming. The final panel had another flower, this one being the only one that wasn't white. It was a wisp lantern, as blue as the one Herah had blown that morning.

Herah finished up the sketch in a second, her hand blurring as it drew each detail down to the exact scale. Now finished with the sketch, Herah began to shade the drawing in, this taking just a bit longer than the creation of it. After the shading was done, Herah erased the sketch lines and found herself with a drawing that replicated the unbroken state of the window perfectly. With that finished Herah activated her gift,  Traduire, on the drawing. It then glowed for a brief instance, afterwards the paper seemed to slowly push it out. As the drawing was pushed out of the paper, it grew until it was the same exact size as the original window.

"Jeffery, help me install this." Herah ordered the giant sentient pencil, causing them to fly over to the original window and begin to erase at it. And erase it they did, after a few seconds of Jeffery's eraser scribbling at the window all that was left was a perfect opening for another one to be placed. Seeing this, Herah lifted up the new window without even a grunt and slid it into where the other used to occupy. Herah then looked at Jeffery and nodded her head. Jeffery in response to this outlined where the new wall was placed and then tapped the outline with their head. The outline gave a brief glow then sealed the window back into place.

Throughout the entirety of this, Rouge and Orange just watched in silence, a small tinge of wonder filling both of them as it always did when they got to see their daughter's gift at work. After the youngling finished, Rouge walked over to the window and gave it and the area around it a light shove. Seeing everything still in place, Rouge gave a small whistle and turned to Herah, her face dancing between subtle joy and wonder in rapid succession.

"No matter how many times I see it at work, I always find your Traduire fascinating." The mother said, her voice still retaining some of its brashness that was offset by the same wonder that filled her. Rouge then shook her head and began to walk out of the room.

"We can finish talking about what to do with Herah later. I'm going to go take a nap. Care to join me, sweety?" The elder asked her husband, who gave her a brief look then shrugged yes. Orange then got up and followed Rouge, giving Herah a wide, fatherly smile as the two left the living room and went up the stairs to their bedroom. Herah watched this then turned to Jeffery, who was just floating in the air besides her and glared at them. Jeffery, noticing this, flew over to the wall and began writing. Once Jeffery was finished the message came out to be: What? You want to go? Cause I'll go right now. Herah read the message then glared even harder at Jeffery.

WHAM!

¨Ouch! Dammit Jeffery, that hurt!" Herah shouted, rubbing the top of her head as a bruise formed where Jeffery hit her with their eraser. The bruise also proved to be a trigger for the youngling's body to Réunir. This meant that flurry of punches Rose gave to Herah's stomach earlier in the day came back with a vengeance, the signals the nerves on her stomach had tried to send to her brain earlier, finally being received.

Herah let out a groan, doubling over in pain and holding her gut with both of her arms, the surge of pain leaving her shocked. Jeffery seeing this, quickly erased what they wrote on the wall and flew over to Herah, allowing the youngling to lean onto them for support. Herah gave a few wobbly steps before falling over, Jeffery darting under her arms being the only thing that stopped her from being splayed across the spruce floor. With both of her pits resting atop the giant writing utensil, Herah was raised from the first floor to the second, completely bypassing the stairs and guard rail. After reaching the second floor, Jeffery flew Herah down the decently sized hallway, the walls lined with a variety of hunting trophies her father had created, mostly boars since Orange had some sort of vendetta against them, and a few of her mother's gun designs. Jeffery eventually stopped at the door to Herah's room, located at the end of the hall, perpendicular to the restroom on the right wall. Herah used one of her arms to open the door to her room then allowed Jeffery to carry her in.

Herah gave her small room a brief once over, making sure her mirror hadn't been moved while at school. Her walls and ceiling were completely white, this couldn't be seen however due to the numerous pieces of art that covered everything that wasn't the floor. The left wall when entering the room was covered with an assortment of fully covered and lifelike portraits of every Cendreux Herah had ever encountered that carried any significance with her. Both Rouge and Orange were on the wall, as well as Rose. Each of the blacksmith who had turned her down for an apprenticeship were on the wall as well. They were also multiple portraits for each Cendreux, and they all tended to overlap with each other. The wall right across from the portrait gallery, as Orange called it, was where Herah stored the weapon and armor schematics normally kept in her sketchbook, removed once they filled up about a hundred pages in her sketchbook. Some of the designs were simple, a set of steel armor for example, while others were rather outlandish, example being a sword made of swords. Orange dubbed this wall: A Blacksmith's Dream. The back wall was covered in works Herah didn't finish, many of them half colored, painted, shaded, etc, it was called To Be Continued.... Herah's room also had a bookcase full of sculpture of the Cendreux in her portraits, that sat in the dead center of her gallery wall. The youngling's closet door was on A Blacksmith's Dream and Herah's bed was in front of To Be Continued... with her mirror and window on right and left side, respectfully. The entire floor was covered in a white fur rug, that had quite a few paint stains from some of Herah's projects.

Jeffery carried Herah into the room and over to her mirror, allowing her to stand on her on once in front of the mirror. After the brief trip up to her room and a few deep breaths, the crippling pain Herah had turned into a light throb, allowing her to move with only slight discomfort. After taking off and throwing the red tee to the side, Herah began to examine her reflection. Since Herah only had a green sports bra under the shirt, Herah was able to get a good look at her abdomen. There was no visible damage shown causing Herah to let out a satisfied sigh, glad that her healing speed wasn't affected in any way by her fight with Rose. The youngling then became distracted, as would often occur when her reflection was involved, and began to watch herself run a hand over her ab covered stomach, tracing each of her six wonders with her claw. The reflection then began to pose and flex, showing off the lean, strong muscles that cover the entirety of her body. After a few poses, Jeffery, who had been floating next to her the entire time, gave Herah another whack on the head, sending an image of one of Herah's earlier sketches into her head. It was of one of her first drawings and showed a crudely drawn image of a teenage Herah doing the exact same as her current self. It was quite clear that Jeffery meant this as an insult, and Herah responded in kind.

"I'll kill you!" 

The youngling shouted, chasing the pencil around her room for a few minutes, only stopping because of Rouge yelling at them to do such. After this, Herah decided to lay in her bed for a quick nap, seeing that it was around the evening. After laying down on her back, Jeffery floated into Herah's bed, preparing to be cuddled. Paying Jeffery no mind, Herah stared at her ceiling.

The ceiling to Herah's room was different when compared to the walls because it was covered in a single art piece, a real time, mentally manipulated display of her solar system. It had costed Herah an arm and a leg, but it was worth it. The center piece, also being the center of the system, was the white dwarf star named Ellon. Ellon had four paths of orbit around it, or four layers, on the first layer Herah's home world, Incendié, was located. Incendié wasn't too much larger than Ellon, and was one of three planets with life on it that orbited the star. Incendié's model was mostly a grainy grey, with a small blue octagon to the left of the north pole, representing the only significant body of water for the planet. There was also a slightly larger perfectly round green circle, located right on the equator of the Incendié, representing where most of the plant life, and animals dependent upon them lived. The rest of the planet was covered in ash, hence the grey coloring.Directly across from Incendié and on the same layer, was the planet most Couver who gained infamy on Incendié fled to, simply named Flint. Flint when compared to Incendié was mostly green with quite a few pockets of blue, representing the plant life and significant bodies of water respectfully. The next planet was on the layer after the ones before it, and this one was completely green, but not because of plants but because of the incredibly toxic atmosphere it held. This planet was four times larger than Flint, and had no natural life on it. A few Cendre lived on the planet, and being a solitary bunch exploration was nearly impossible. The next planet, this one located on the final layer was named Bious. Bious was by far the largest, twelve times the size of Incendié in fact, and this was where many Cendre went to live once they outgrew Incendié. Bious itself was constantly growing, at a rather small pace, thanks to the Cendre who lived wrapped around it's core. This Cendre also provided enough heat to allow life to develop on Bious, this life being only plants. Bious was mostly blue with large chunks of green covering the rest of it.

Seeing all of this, Herah chose to focus on Incendié and called for the map to zoom in until it was on her room. Herah's ceiling now showed her lying in bed and staring up. Herah watched as Jeffery lazily spun themselves next to her as the youngling tired to think to herself about what was to be her next course of action now that school wasn't an option.

POP!

Herah let out a gasp of surprise as the ceiling showed a mass of black appear in front of her door, causing the youngling to look up and directly stare at it. As soon as Herah did this, the mass began to suck her in.

"Fu-" But before the youngling could finish, her body was sucked into the mass, leaving the room with only Jeffery inside. Once Herah was gone, Jeffery floated into the air, and down to the living room, grabbing their creator's backpack and then zooming back up the stairs. After making it back into the room, Jeffery organized a few supplies, and then flew into her parent's room.

After an awkward pause, Jeffery wrote out a message to the duo about what had happened to Herah, causing Orange to quickly redress and secure the bag to Jeffery. After this was done, Jeffery shot out of the ceiling, leaving a substantial hole in their wake as they left to help Herah.

Rouge saw the hole, herself now dressed, a bit worried about her daughter but also miffed about the damages and said,

"Dammit Jeffery."

Gathering the Supplies

“-uck!”

THUD!

Herah let out a groan as her third headache of the day came over her. After a few seconds more of laying face first on what the youngling assumed to be a floor, Herah sat up and got a look at her surroundings.

Herah’s first thought on the room was that it was extremely plain. The walls and ceiling were an annoyingly bright white, the floor was equally white, except for a dark grey carpet that sat under the coffee table in front of her. The room also had two tan couches on the wall to the left and right of Herah and an equally tan recliner behind the table. It seemed to be about the same size as her living room back home, but Herah wasn’t too sure. Space, for whatever reason, seemed weird in the room.

Rising to her feet, Herah began to look around the room but quickly gave up after realizing that there were no noticeable exits. Another thing that Herah realized, was that the room was empty sans herself.

After sending a quick message to Jeffery, Herah decided to check the time. Walking up to the coffee table, Herah used one of her claws to carve a rectangle into it, afterwards using Traduire to create a replica of her oven’s clock.

“The ash? It’s five in the morning.” Herah shook her head and sighed, “Doesn’t matter how this happened, no matter the situation, prayer to La Flamme must be done.”

With those words, Herah turned away from the table and walked to the wall that was behind her. After getting there, Herah took a deep breath and created a wisp lantern. After crushing the flower and slamming her fist into her chest, Herah was covered in blue flames. The youngling then fell to her knees, looked up, closed her eyes and began to sing.

“Vous êtes venus de loin, comme une supernova, vous avez vu notre maison, et l’a transformée, et après elle a été brûlée, couverte de cendres et de cendres. Nous étions nés. La Flamme nous vous remercions pour le feu à nos coeurs. Le cadeau qui nous donne la vie et nous permet de vous doucher de la louange et de l’adoration que vous méritez.”

As Herah sung, both her voice and the flames covering her began to change. Her voice became more melodic and divine as the song went on, while the fire covering her changed colors. First, it was blue, then it was red, and once Herah had finished her prayers the flames surrounding her were purple.

POP!

“-it!”

“-hell!”

Herah jumped up, her flame shroud dissipating as two peculiar looking creatures with the same face fell onto one of the couches. One looked pissed and confused, the other just looking confused.

Herah found her sights drawn to the creature who looked pissed, immediately dubbing them Fureur. They had pale skin (No signs of scales anywhere on their body) and was a brunette; their hair in a ponytail and reaching down to their back. Fureur also looked rather androgynous, with their wiry frame and lack of any gender-specific features. Fureur’s green eyes reflected a cold intensity that Herah found a bit unsettling, but not enough to make her look away.

Fureur was wearing a green shirt with the words: DO YOU WANT THE TRUTH on them in white letters. Over the shirt they wore a blue windbreaker, that was left unzipped.

Done with her one over of Fureur, Herah turned her attention towards the other creature and found that they were essentially Fureur’s doppelganger. The only thing that was really physically different between the two, was the slight bumps on her chest area and her confused expression. So Herah dubbed her Confus.

Regarding Confus’ clothing, her shirt had the words: DO YOU WANT THE LIE on them in green letters and they wore a pair of khaki cargo shorts. Over this, they wore an open trench coat.

The one thing that really caught Herah’s attention, however, was the new pairs’ feet. Neither of the two had toes, just black things in the general shape of feet.

Before Herah could contemplate the peculiarity of Fureur’s and Confus’ feet, her instincts screamed at her to move.

It was a good thing too.

THUNK!

Or the cut on her cheek might’ve been more severe.

The youngling turned to face the wall behind her, finding some type of blade buried to the hilt where her neck had been not a second before. Herah turned her head back towards the two creatures and slipped slightly. This caused the youngling to began to fall forward and allow Fureur, who had been rushing towards her, the chance to grab her by her curled horns and slam her chin into their knee. This left Herah so heavily dazed that Fureur was able to slam her into the wall next to where their blade was and then pull it from the wall and put it to her throat.

A voice sounded from in front of Herah, but to the youngling the words were unintelligible. As her vision blurred, the sound of Herah’s heart filled her ears. An unbridled rage began to flow through her. Thoughts tempered by this rage began to fill the youngling’s mind.

‘Who the ash does my attacker think they are?’

‘What the ash do they take me for?’

‘What the fuck is wrong with ME!?’

As all these thoughts filled her brain, Herah’s heart continued to be louder and louder in her ears, until it was as if an enormous drum was being methodically beaten inside of her noggin. But even with this noise, Herah realized what must be done.

Herah would burn the two till they were ashes.

Then Herah would burn the ashes.

Deep inside of Herah, in a pocket right next to her heart, a soft red fire burned. And with each beat of her heart, the flame grew hotter, slowly changing colors and intensity as it did so. Eventually, the flame swarmed into Herah’s lungs, through their connecting passage, and up to her mouth. Small wisps of violet flames leaked out, as Herah’s cheeks puffed, ready to release the wave of fire.

But just before the youngling could open her mouth fully, a bit of dust from the wall flew into her nose.

“Achoo!”

Herah saw and felt several things happen after her sneeze. One, the air between her and Fureur ignited, causing the blade at her neck to slit her throat and for her head to be filled with a ringing noise. Two, both Herah and the creature were launched back, with burns covering all of the creatures exposed skin and Herah being embedded into the wall. Three, Confus caught the now burnt Fureur in their arms. Four, Confus reached into the pocket of Fureur and pulled out another blade. Fifth, and most surprisingly, Confus stabbed Fureur with the blade.

After giving the ringing in her head a few minutes to stop, Herah pulled herself from the wall. Giving a light shake of her head to clear her vision, Herah rose to her feet and walked over to the two look alike creatures. As the Cendreux neared the pair, Confus noticed her, and jumped up, putting up her hands as if to stop Herah from advancing. The youngling paused and gave the Confus a cautious stare, not too sure of what they could do. Confus then began to speak,

“Okay,” a voice neither distinctly feminine or masculine came from her mouth, her tone rightfully cautious, “I know you might be pissed at my brother over there.”

Confus then pointed at who Herah assumed to be her brother and continued,

“But he was just freaking out, he’s never seen anything like you.”

Confus gave Herah a nervous smile and asked,

“Umm, with that said, what are you exactly?”

Herah continued to stare at the creature in front of her, not too sure what to do about them. Seeing that Herah wasn’t answering, Confus gained a pensive expression and begun to run her hands through her ponytail.

Herah slowly edged towards the creature, allowing one of her claws to extend in preparation to attack Confus. Slowly inching closer, until they were at arm’s length, Herah prepared to strike. But before Herah could attack, Confus made an ah-hah noise and looked back at her. Upon her face, Confus wore a kind smile that immediately made the youngling stop in her attack. Herah found Confus’ smile too kind and welcoming for it to belong to a threat.

“Why don’t we exchange information?”

Confus then pointed towards herself and continued,

I’m what you call a human, a human female to be exact, my brother, though hard to tell, is a human male. We come from the planet Earth!” The now named human then gave Herah a bow and said, “My name is Max, my brother’s name is Alex and I deeply apologize for his unprovoked attack.”

Herah moved to speak but found herself interrupted by another voice.

“Why do you always try to make friends with everyone we meet? Especially after I’ve attacked them.” A voice sounding exactly like Max’s came from behind the human.

Herah leaned to the side and glared, doing her best to hide her surprise at his condition. Alex, the human who had attacked her, was now standing looking perfectly fine. The only indication of his earlier burns being his hoodie’s mostly burnt sleeves and his missing pant’s leg. Alex had seemed to calm down, his face set in a weary and watchful expression. The human walked up to stand next to his sister, his eyes examining Herah’s neck.

“Could’ve sworn I cut you with my kris, but I see no wound. Even if there isn’t one, ” Alex then pointed at Herah accusingly, his voice coming out distinctly more feminine and angelic, ”Your throat should be filled with blood right now."

Right after the human finished speaking, Herah felt a thick liquid began to clog her throat. The youngling fell to her knees and began to cough heavily, but what the Cendreux presumed to be blood, was already clogging her throat. Herah thought quickly, allowing flames to flood her throat and boil the blood. After allowing the steam to exit her nose and forcing the blood clumps down her throat, Herah rose to her feet and jumped back and over the coffee table. This landed Herah right in front of the other couch. Alex followed this up by pulling out the dagger that Herah was pretty sure cut her and pointing it at the youngling.

Herah saw that the blade was an asymmetrical, wavy shape with many curves that would cause a terrible gash to be left in its wake. The blade also had an intricate pattern upon it, with layers of irregular lines and circles covering its entirety. The thing about the weapon that caught Herah’s attention the most, however, was the material of the blade, since it smelled of mostly iron and a bit of nickel. Herah assumed this was what caused the pattern on the blade to have a silvery look that had a heavy contrast with the black backdrop of the rest of it.

Now done with examining his weapon, Herah stared back at Alex as the human did the same to her. Alex brought his kris up to his left shoulder so that it was hovering right above it. He leaned forward with his left leg and brought out the dagger that was stabbed into him earlier, holding it in a reverse grip over his left knee.

Herah herself had already leaned forward until nearly on all fours, with her right hand out to her side, hovering just above the floor in a claw-like shape that pointed towards Alex. Her wings were at the ready, unfurled just enough to give her a quick speed boost if needed.

As the two had their standoff, Herah noticed that the room seemed a lot larger than it was before. Everything was where it was supposed to be, there just seemed to be more space between the couch and table.

A lot more.

But these thoughts quickly left her mind once Alex began to charge at her. Herah responded by forcing all her weight unto her legs and then slinging herself forward with her arm, her body leaving the floor. After this the youngling unfurled her wings fully and gave them a partial flap, using her five-foot wingspan to guide her towards Alex. Just before the two could meet in the center, a card flew by Alex’s head, giving him a little cut on his cheek, and in-between the two.

"That card is a burst of wind." Max said, her voice much deeper and masculine.

Just as the human finished the sentence, a burst of wind appeared between Herah and Alex, causing them to be launched back into the couches.

Having landed with her legs over her head, Herah rolled off the couch and growled at Max, who now stood between the two on top of the coffee table. Max hearing this turned towards Herah and put her hands up, just like before, and smiled while hurriedly saying,

“Please ignore my prick brother, he’s just hostile towards everyone and I’m so sorry he used Enlightenment against you in such a way. It just wasn’t-”

“Max!”

Both Herah and Max looked towards Alex, who was now standing up and looking even more pissed off than earlier. The angry brother then pointed at his sister and told her,

“Get away from that fucking demon.” Alex then pointed towards Herah and continued, “I might not be exactly sure what type you are, but I’ll be damned before -”

Herah held up her hand, causing Alex to pause in surprise. The youngling then took a deep breath and pointed at herself,

“I am not a demon.” The youngling said, her voice filled with mostly annoyance and twinges of anger.

Alex gave Herah a hard stare before looking away and giving a curse under his breath, Max, who was now standing next to her brother, smacked him across the back of his head. After matching her brother’s glare with her own, Max turned back to Herah, once again smiling, and kindly said,

“As you can see,” The sister gestured towards her brother,” My dick of a brother thought you were a demon.” The human then hurriedly added, “Which you’re clearly not if my brother’s reaction is anything to go by.”

Herah gave the pair an apprehensive look, then asked,

“Why is your brother so trusting of my words, you do realize demons can lie right?”

Alex then gave an annoyed sigh and said,

“Don’t worry about it,” The boy gestured towards Herah, “Just know that I’ll know when you’re lying to me.”

Max smacked her brother across the head once again. Then the human gave Herah another smile (which was starting to creep the youngling out), and began to speak once again.

“Now since we know you’re not a demon, would you mind telling us your name and,” The girl gave an awkward shake of her hand towards the entirety of Herah, “What you are?”

Herah pondered this for a few moments. While the youngling was still quite angry at Max’s brother, Herah found herself not too disliking of Max herself. Giving the idea a bit more thought, Herah blew six rings of fire towards both of the pair, three for each.

Max gave the rings a curious stare, even sticking her hands through their centers, which caused the rings to dissipate. Alex’s reaction was completely different, swiping through all three of the rings that flew at him with a glare adorning his face. Seeing both of their reactions, Herah gave a deep bow and said,

“Through the act of Ash va s’installer and prior experience, I recognize you,” Herah turned towards Max, “As an equal and potential friend, Max.”

Max gave a delighted laugh and bowed back, hers a bit more dramatic than Herah’s.

Herah then turned towards Alex, giving him his own bow, and glared, the next words coming out of her mouth through gritted teeth.

“And through the acts of Ash va s’installer and prior experience,” Herah said the next words with steely pride flowing clearly throughout them, “I recognize you as my equal and potential rival, Alex.”

Herah rose up, Alex matching her glare with a rather dismissive look that caused a feral growl to emerge from her throat, but nothing else. Allowing herself a few moments to calm down, Herah sat down on the couch behind her and began to speak.

“I come from a race called the Cendreux, and my-” Herah found herself suddenly interrupted by Alex.

“Your race calls itself the Ashen?” The human asked, one of his brows lifted in mild curiosity, causing Herah to give him a surprised look before speaking once again.

“How do you know our ancient language?” The youngling asked, a bit on the edge at the fact Alex was able to understand it.

Alex gave the confused Cendreux an exasperated look, and replied,

“Because it isn’t ancient, that’s just French without the accent. Why would that language be-”

The human then paused and began to tap his nose. After a few seconds, Alex looked back up and snapped his fingers. The human then turned to Herah and asked in a voice filled with curiosity

“You’re not from our universe or our planet at least, are you?”

Herah shook her head, a bit off-put by Alex’s flip in tone.

Alex then turned to his sister, who was looking about just as confused as Herah was, and said,

“That’s why earlier she was talking about rivals and friends and shit from earlier she said, ash shall settle. ” Alex then added, “In French.”

The brother then pointed towards Max and exclaimed,

“Hah! I knew those five years of studying it was going to pay off, but someone thought otherwise.” Alex then got up into Max’s face and said, “I know the ancient language of an entire species, and you just know dumb old Japanese. Who was wasting their time no-”

“Urrk!”

Alex fell onto the couch massaging his punched throat, as Max gave him an annoyed glare with a slight blush on her cheeks. The human then turned towards Herah and gave her an apologetic smile, which now had Herah half convinced that it was the girl’s natural expression, and said,

“As I said earlier, please excuse my dick of a brother. He often interrupts people when they’re talking.”

Herah gave a small smile and added her thoughts,

“While such blatant disrespect is annoying, this isn’t the first time, I’ve dealt with someone who constantly inter-

CRASH!

“Dammit Jeffery!”

A sound not too dissimilar to glass shattering was heard as Jeffery shot down from the ceiling, shards of it falling towards the floor and fading away as they neared it. Jeffery stopped themselves short of impaling Herah through the head, flipping over to hover right next to her instead. Herah seeing her stuff tied to him, took it off, which Jeffery immediately took advantage of by writing out a message for the youngling on the wall behind the couch. It read: Herah! I finally found you. I can only destroy so many planets and solar systems before I’m annoyed.

Herah, after reading the message, shouted in surprise. Jeffery then erased and wrote another message on the wall: Don’t worry, they were all uninhabited so the only thing that died was some rocks and stars. Herah, after a few seconds of staring, just shrugged her shoulders and grabbed Jeffery, before gently running her hand along the length of their body.

“So Hera is your name, huh.” Herah turned back to the twins, noticing that Alex had been the one to speak. The youngling glared at him, shaking her head and answering back,

“It’s pronounced here-ah.”

Alex gave Herah a dismissive nod, causing the Cendreux to growl at him, before turning towards Jeffery. Herah watched as Alex studied Jeffery with a sense of measured caution emitting from him, causing Herah to stew silently in anger.

The youngling then smelt an unfamiliar scent approach her, it was mostly unique as often was for any living thing but had the smelled of anemone and carnations apart of it, causing her attention to shift towards Max who was now standing next to and looking at the youngling with a single eyebrow raised.

“What?” Herah asked, a bit confused by the twin’s look.

“Oh, nothing.” Max responded, causing Herah to let out an annoyed grunt. The youngling then asked,

“Why do you smell of flowers?”

Max gave Herah another genuine smile, causing one of the youngling’s eyes to make an unconscious tick. Max after giggling at Herah’s reaction, answered the Cendreux’s question,

“Me and bro were tending my garden when we were sucked into whatever brought us here.”

Max then gave her head a slight tilt before asking,

“Do I have the smell of any particular flower on me, and if I do, do you recognize it?”

Herah looked back towards Alex, who now seemed to be studying where Jeffery had come from while tapping his nose, before answering back.

“Yeah. You smell of anemone and carnations.”

Herah heard another small giggle come from the human. Max then said,

“Those two are my favorites, I especially like red anemone and striped carnations.”

Herah gave a small nod of understanding before looking back at Alex, who still had his attention on Jeffery. Herah glared at Alex, getting another dismissive look from him in response.

“Why the ash are you staring at Jeffrey anyway?” Herah snarled, finally fed up with Alex’s silent staring.

“I’m trying to figure out why something so powerful has bound itself with someone so,” Alex stared at Herah disappointment clear in his expression, ” What’s the word I’m looking for, lacking.”

“Brother!”

Herah saw red, but before the youngling could act on her rage, Jeffery shot up and nailed Alex in the face with their eraser. This launched the human into the couch behind him. The couch, thanks to Alex’s speed, was propelled into the wall leaving a few cracks on impact.

Jeffery returned to their position in Herah’s hands, the youngling ’s anger dissipating in surprise of Jeffery’s actions. Jeffery noticed this and wrote her another message. It read: What? You think I’m just going to let some little human piece of shit mouth you off without worry. Only I and your mother can do that. 

The gigantic pencil then floated back into their master’s hands, allowing themselves to enjoy more rubbing. Herah directed her attention towards Max, who had walked over to her brother and poked him.

“Uuhh.”

After hearing Alex groan in pain, Max looked back at Jeffery and said,

“Thanks, bro can get insufferable sometimes.” Max then looked at Herah, giving another one of her damn smiles, and continued, “I know I’ve apologized for him before, but I still feel I must repeat it for what he has done.”

Herah, seeing the smile again, felt her guard immediately lower. The youngling waved the girl off, saying that Max had nothing to be sorry about. Max then sat down next to her comatose brother and began to stare into space, allowing Herah to direct her attention towards Jeffery.

“Hey,” The youngling said, gently patting the giant pencil, “Do you know where we are?”

After a few seconds of nothing, Herah found an image of a pocket invading her mind. Not at all bothered by the foreign thought, the youngling gave Jeffery a questioning stare. Noticing this, Jeffery showed her the image of a cube. Herah just blinked in confusion, causing Jeffery to float up and smack her across the head with their eraser. The youngling let out a yelp (causing Alex to finally come back to his senses) before swiping at Jeffery. The pencil flew over to the wall behind the twins and stabbed through it with their eraser. Pulling out of the wall, only darkness was revealed to the room’s occupants.

“That tells me nothing!” Herah shouted, both hands directed towards the hole.

“Well it does tell me something,” Alex said, the human now tapping his nose, “We’re either in a pocket dimension or the belly of a Kilonia. And since I don’t hear the wailing of children, I’ll assume we’re in the former.”

Herah gave Alex a surprised glance before saying,

“Ok, not even going to ask about the wailing children, but how do you know that this is a pocket dimension?”

Alex gave Herah an unamused glance before looking back at Jeffery, “I’ve been in a few before this one, and once while inside she,” Alex pointed towards his sister, “Managed to bust a hole in the side of it, we saw the exact same thing.”

The human then began to tap his nose, his expression becoming thoughtful as his finger tapped out a rhythm upon it.

“Of course, I might be wrong, but that’s unlikely.”

“Oh really, why should I beli-”

But before Herah could finish, her breath hitched and her knees buckled. Everyone, except for Jeffery, fell to their knees, breathing now a much more arduous task than before for the three on their knees.

“Shit. This feels like dad. Just without the freezing.” Herah said, her voice strained and hoarse.

“Fuck! I’ve never felt a Presence this powerful.” One of the twins said, but Herah wasn’t able to tell which, her vision beginning to fill with black dots.

Then suddenly, Herah felt another Presence engulf her, this one very familiar and welcoming. With this, Herah was able to force herself to her feet and began to breathe regularly again. The youngling summoned Jeffery to her hands, the pencil responding without delay. Herah twirled Jeffery above her head and then held them their with her left hand where their pain ended and her right just after Jeffery’s center. Herah leaned back on her right leg, with her left pointing forward and tilting her pencil’s tip slightly towards the ground.

“Thanks Jeff.” Herah said, her eyes searching for whoever was releasing such a Presence.

“Ahh. My young Artist, it’s always a pleasure to see one of my creations able to stand in my Presence. Even if a little help is required.”

A rather gentle, masculine voice came from behind Herah, causing the youngling to whip around, and face the one who was speaking.

The entity, Herah felt that was what best described them, was unique in their appearance. They were bipedal and stood at a rather imposing height of 9′3, with the entirety of their body having a black backdrop. Herah saw it as a backdrop because upon their skin, if it was even that, was a collection of galaxies and stars, slowly moving across. The figure had six arms, each limb covered in stars of increasing size, that started small and white at where they connected to the torso and ended upon the palms and back of their hand’s as large red stars. The beings legs showed an asteroid belt wrapping around each of them. The torso had two slowly moving galaxies on it, a third emerging from the right side. Upon the face of the entity were two dark spots that Herah presumed to be black holes and the being’s eyes.

The entity stood with its bottom set of arms hanging from its side, the center pair playing rock-paper-scissors against each other, one of the top set waving at Herah and the other arm working as the referee for the middle two. The entity’s eyes held a sorta mischievous curiosity to them, that was eerily welcoming. It was as if Herah was staring at one of her ancestors, a rather ancient one at that. However, this didn’t stop them from looking regal and eternal.

Though somewhat familiar, Herah still perceived whatever was in front of her as a threat and keyed them into that idea as well.

“Who the ash are you?” The youngling growled, baring her teeth at the figure.

In response to her question, Herah heard laughter, in the same gentle voice from earlier, come from the entity. They then spread all six of their arms out in a grandiose display before saying,

“I am known by many names. God. Allah. Yahweh. Krishna. All-Mighty. Maker. Bois D’allumage by your people. But the name I gave myself, my personal favorite, is what you shall call me.”

The entity began to glow, before releasing a bright light that briefly blinded Herah. Once her vision cleared, in front of Herah stood someone completely different than before.

It was a Cendreux, who stood at a respectful 8′5 and had grey scales and skin. They were wearing a simple white t-shirt that said Embrasse Moi en Français, and some black sweats. Their black hair was short but messy, and they had a grey tail as well. The Cendreux looked rather different than the entity from before but had the same expression as them, now with a grinning mouth and sapphire eyes. The entity now looked below average for a Cendreux, lacking any sorta of defined physique. They stood slightly hunched over as if they were just lazily holding themselves up, while staring at Herah with a soft grin and a laid-back composure. The Cendreux then spoke in the same voice as before stating,

“Call me Norwe, and who am I?”

Norwe made a dramatic pause, using both of their hands to cover their face before bringing them away and winking at Herah, their expression set in a lazy grin as they did equally lazy jazz hands.

“The creator of your universe, that’s who.”

Choosing What's Needed (new)

“Damn.” Alex started, his voice showing quite a bit of nervousness, “I never thought I actually meet another Maker. Kinda hoped I wouldn’t.”

After Norwe’s introduction, their Presence over the others had lessened considerably. With the Maker’s shift in Presence, another thing changed as well: the room.

It now resembled a dining room, with a rectangular, brown table in the center which had six seats around it. On one end sat Norwe, who was cleaning out one of their ears with their pinky, on the other sat Alex, in his still burnt clothing, twirling his kris in one hand as his other tapped his nose. On Alex’s right and in the chair closes to him, Herah, who was still only in her green bra, sat staring at the other person who had come with Norwe. Max sat next to the shirtless youngling doing the same exact thing to Norwe. Jeffery lazily floated above Herah, doing nothing of interest. Across from the three, sat the person who had captured Herah’s attention.

They had been with Norwe when the Maker had first arrived, using the leg of the Maker and their small stature to hide from the other’s view. They looked like a tiny human, an extremely tiny one. His little face was rather pudgy and childlike, with freckles all across it. To Herah, the gnome, that’s what Max had called him anyway, looked to be about 2′8, and was dressed up rather strangely.

Sitting upon his head was a soft, blue cone-shaped hat, that had a little white ball on the tip. The gnome also wore a blue tunic that sounded as if it had been lined with metal, the soft metallic clinks Herah heard and the smell of a metal coming from the little guy leading her to this conclusion. Though unable to see them anymore, Herah remembered that the gnome was wearing some things called shoes, each as soft as his hat with a tiny part of them curling upwards where his toes were. Both shoes, much like the gnome’s hat, had a small white ball atop of them.

Before sitting down, Max had given the gnome a look and said they looked like a toddler, this caused them to blush deeply and use their hat to hide from her, which they were still doing. The gnome hadn’t said anything since his arrival, just looked around at the gathered group nervously before Max had scared him. His behavior had caused a chord to be struct within Herah, bringing up some uncomfortable memories.

“So Norwe,” Alex began, “Why exactly did you, presumably, bring us all here?”

Herah directed her attention towards Alex, who was looking at Norwe with a look not too dissimilar than the one Jeffery had received when the two first met. The human had set his blade down, but was still tapping his nose.

Norwe gave a small yawn, drawing his ear from his pinky before giving the group another lazy smirk. Norwe then provided an answer in their soft voice,

“Well, I have brought you here,” Norwe gestured to the room, “To explain to you what exactly you’ve been dragged into.”

“And that would be?” Max piqued in with her own question, clearly not as wary as her brother of the newcomer.

“Recompense.”

Herah watched as Alex suddenly stopped tapping his nose and reached for his neck pinching it, before giving his sister a concerned glance. Herah directed her attention towards Max, who’s brow had crinkled immediately after her brother pinched his neck, however the sister still seemed unaware of what exactly was going on. Directing her attention back to Alex, Herah saw his attention back on Norwe, who had been giving him an amused smile. Norwe then began to speak once again,

“I see my Soothsayer knows what’ s happening, “Norwe then gave everyone else in the room a glance, “But does my Liar, Artist or Creator know the same?”

The three others sitting at the table simultaneously felt their breaths hitch at the titles given to them. Herah gave her own glance towards the two others who had done the same as her, pretty sure as to who Norwe had been referring to when naming each. Herah then directed her attention towards Alex and tensely stated,

“You seem to know what’s going on, mind letting the rest of us in on this?”

Alex seemed surprised by Herah for but a brief second, his expression quickly morphing into that of anger. Alex opened his mouth to respond to Herah’s thinly veiled accusations, but Norwe quickly puts an end to them before the human could speak.

“Now now now,”

“What the-”

“Hurrk!”

Two things occurred rapidly, one moment Norwe had been sitting in their seat, the next they were crouched next to Herah with their hand around her neck. The Maker’s grip left Herah unable to breathe as her face was forced to face Norwe’s. Spiteful emerald met playful sapphire as Norwe bore down on Herah. Though Norwe still had a cool expression, their hand made it quite clear that while this might be entertaining to them, they had some things they weren’t tolerant of.

“My dear Artist,” Norwe gave Herah a soft pat on the head, “Don’t be so quick to turn on my wonderful Soothsayer, he, and I would advise you to get used to hearing those type of words, had no idea when I would force his universe to undergo Recompense, or how it would start. It would be such a shame if-”

Herah saw Norwe pause, finally acknowledging what else had happened in the instance that they had moved.

“Now old friend, don’t worry I won’t kill or erase her, can’t really thanks to you.” Norwe gave Jeffery a wink, the pencil moving its tip from the Maker’s neck in response and floating back to its place above its creator. Herah sent a quick thought of thanks to Jeffery, before sending another regarding the two’s relationship, curious about how they knew each other.

‘Why did they call you old friend, have you met?’

“That pencil of yours gets into quite a bit when they’re not with you.”

Herah’s head whipped towards Norwe who had returned to their seat at their end of the table. They gave Herah a little wink before letting out a soft breath.

“Back to business,” Norwe pointed at Herah, Alex, Max, and the gnome. “You four will be participating in Recompense.”

“You still haven’t told us what that is?”

“Max!”

“I’m sorry bro but he hasn’t.”

“Do you want to be erased from existence!?”

“No! But I would love to know what’s going on.”

Herah watched in amusement as the siblings bickered, letting out a few giggles at their behavior.

“Recompense is essentially a way for me to entertain myself.”

Immediately, everyone’s attention was back on Norwe, the Maker’s soft grin seeming a bit more threatening. The Maker then clapped their hands together before saying,

" So, why don’t I start with why I chose you guys.”

Norwe gestured to the table, causing several large spheres with galaxies upon their surfaces to appear above it.

“Each of you though created and birthed from one of my children, have all been touched by me.”

Norwe then pointed at a single sphere, causing all the others to fade away and for the remaining one to enlarge. With the sphere now nearly the size of the table, Norwe zoomed in on one of the galaxies.

“La Flamme!” Herah, seeing her mistress once again, shouted in surprise.

La Flamme was currently in her travel state: a supernova. To be exact, La Flamme looked like a supernova given direction, a mass of white light was in her center with an array of colors circling around it as the chieftain of the Cendreux propelled herself through space like a beam.

“That,” Herah looked away from her creator and back towards her Maker. “Is the ninth out of 589,786,890 of my children and whenever I feel like it, I pick a random number of these universes and select however many of their gifted are alive at the time. These will be the participants for Recompense.”

“Sti-”

“Shut up sis! He’s explaining.”

Norwe just smiled at the two, entertainment at the two clear in their eyes.

“Depending on how I feel, the selected groups might go through twelve or only one event, which I call acts. In your case there are twenty universes, each somehow only having two gifted. You’ll be in groups of four and you have ummm,” Norwe’s brow crinkled slightly before they just shrugged their shoulders and said, “Sixteen. Let’s go with sixteen acts.”

Norwe raised one of their hands, the image of La Flamme disappearing, and images of Alex, Norwe, Herah, and the gnome replacing it.

“Each of you possess a gift, one given to you by me through that touch I mentioned earlier. Your gifts were formed out of one of the many possible timelines that you could travel down. Luckily for most of you, your gifts were the perfect fit. Onwards, when creating your groups I had to see how each of your abilities would mesh with each other.”

The gnome, Herah, and Max disappeared, leaving Alex to be enlarged.

“My Soothsayer is really the only one of you whose gift is really good at playing off the others, working especially well with my Liars gift.”

“Umm, excuse me.”

An extremely soft childlike voice sounded out, causing everyone else in the room to turn towards it. The gnome, with an extremely shy glance towards everyone their, voiced his thoughts.

“What about me and the pretty dragon lady?”

After the gnome finished his sentence, his eyes met Herah’s, who winked at him causing him to hide under his hat once again. Norwe chuckled slightly before stating,

“I just threw you two with them, no real thought put behind it.”

This caused Herah’s eye to twitch in annoyance, before her mind was drawn towards one of Norwe’s earlier statements.

“Why exactly,” The youngling started, causing attention to be directed towards her, “Do you call this Recompense? What exactly are we repaying you for?”

Herah, though unable to see him, heard Alex make a noise not too dissimilar of that of a dying pig. Norwe’s grin transformed into a full-on smile, this one for some reason rubbing Herah the wrong way. It wasn’t hostile or anything like that, Norwe’s smile just seemed foreign.

“Your existence. You’re repaying me for your existence” Norwe said, snapping his fingers as Alex’s image was replaced with a single universe.

“About fifteen millennia ago, I found myself,” Norwe began to roll their hand, until seemingly finding the word they were searching for, “Bored. So with this boredom, I decided to do what I usually did, immerse myself within my multiverse.”

Norwe then took the single universe into their hands and ripped it apart, causing a multitude of universes to surround them, each covered in its own unique set of galaxies and stars.

“Experiencing omniscience and omnipresence is different than explaining it, so I won’t, but what I will tell you is that while doing this I simply asked myself, “What would entertain me?“”

Norwe snapped their fingers, causing each and every universe surrounding them to disappear.

“And I instantly knew what to do. So I went and bothered a few of my siblings, asking for them to make me some empty universes and give me all but omniscience over them. Only the God of Abraham, Benny, and Lucifer were willing to supply but that was good enough for me.”

As Norwe spoke, their voice maintained its softness but their face showed a steady increase of excitement, a sight that was somewhat startling to Herah. Norwe made no notice of Herah’s surprise as they continued on, conjuring up numerous empty globes as they spoke.

“I then took these empty universes and put them on standby while I chose three others filled with life by my children to participate.” Norwe conjured up three universes in a row and tapped each of them, a blurry shape appearing above each.

Norwe pointed at the universe to their left and said,

“From this universe, came 28 individual gifted.” The blurry shape above the universe became the number 28.

Norwe then pointed towards the planet to their right and said,

“From this universe, I brought 20 individual gifted.” A 20 appeared above the universe.

Norwe then pointed at the universe in the center and said,

“And finally, from here I brought two individual gifted.” A two took shape above the empty universe.

With Norwe’s final statement, Herah gave Norwe her own weird look which was mirrored by everyone else who had a face in the room, excluding Norwe themselves. Paying no mind, Norwe waved their hand. This caused the three universes to fade away, which were quickly replaced with twelve others that were empty.

“I divided each of my fifty participants into groups of two,” Lights began to appear in a concentrated area on each of the universes, “Then I had these groups undergo a series of twelve acts, each more terrifying and deadlier than the last.”

Herah watched as the universes started to disappear one after the other, until only a single one remained.

“Until finally at the last act, the universe with only two gifted won.” Norwe said, waving their hand.

“What happened after that?”

This question came from Herah, who was left a bit confused as to why they were being told this story.

“Well the victors got a single wish from me, which could be anything except for omnipotence or omniscience.”

“Wait,” This time it was Max interrupting Norwe, ” Why isn’t omnipresence off the table?”

“Sis!”

“It’s a perfectly valid question!”

Herah paid little attention to the arguing twins, hers was solely placed on Norwe who was watching the twins. The reason for Herah’s attention being directed towards the Maker was due to how peculiar Norwe was to her. After all, this was the parent of La Flamme and the apparent Maker of her universe. But they acted nothing like what the youngling’s expectations led her to believe one of such power would. Norwe came off as just some average Cendruex, floating through life as just another face in the large crowd that made up her species.

This reality might’ve been better than what her people’s story said about the being, but it still rubbed Herah the wrong way.

Terribly.

So, Herah decided to do what was normal for her when rubbed the wrong way.

The younging tried voiced her thoughts.

“Why are you-”

Luckily for Herah, Jeffery heard the thoughts going on in her head and decided to intervene before anything suicidal came out of her mouth.

WHAM!

“YOU FUCK!”

“Ahem.”

Herah paused in her attempts to strangle Jeffery, and redirected her attention to Norwe who was giving her a knowing stare.

“Now that all attention is back on me,”

Alex nervously chuckled at this.

“Omnipresence is allowed because it wouldn’t interfere with my control.”

“Ok, I can understand that.”

Herah rolled her eyes at Max statement before getting the group back on track.

“You were telling us what happened after the winners were chosen.”

“Right,” Norwe began, “After granting the winners their wishes I returned them to their universe.”

“Um, excuse me.”

All eyes were directed towards the gnome, who had raised their hand.

“Yes, my Creator?”

“W-What happened to the losers?”

“Oh, they lived,”

Herah watched as both the gnome and Max sighed in relief.

“I erased their universes however.”

Herah watched the two’s relief become replaced by terror and surprise. Herah directed her attention towards Alex, who had a grim expression upon his face but nothing else. Herah was surprised like the other two, but that quickly turned into downright angry. The thought that someone got screwed because of another’s action not only pissed her off, but went against one of her key principals.

Just as one’s victories were their own, so were their fuck ups.

“Why the hell did you do that!?”

Norwe turn towards Herah, no surprise at her outburst shown. In fact, they looked like they expected it.

“Four reasons,” Norwe began, “One, it has worked as great motivation for a good portion of the participants. Two, the mere act of participating in Recompense is how you guys repay me. Third, I like to have a set number of universes and this allows for me to add more. Fourth, this adds another factor in the entertainment.”

“What?!”

“Herah shut up!”

“Dammit Alex!”

Enraged, Herah got out of her chair and marched over to the human sitting at the other end of the table. The youngling then grabbed him by his shirt and lifted him up. The youngling stared into the human’s eyes, finding inside of them something that made her completely disgusted.

“Earlier I acknowledged you as an equal, not just because of the fact you were able to take me down so easily. It was because I saw that you were not only confident, I also saw that you were brave.”

Herah let out a snort of smoke.

“But now I just see a little bitch.”

Alex didn’t look at all bothered by Herah’s statement, the human just glared at the youngling harder.

“Well sorry for wanting to live, goddamit!”

“Norwe dammit please, God is my sibling.” Norwe piqued in.

Ignoring Norwe, Herah continued to focus on Alex.

“The hell does that mean!?”

“Are you fucking with me or are you really that retarded?”

“Just answer my damn question!”

Alex shoved Herah away from him, straightening his shirt back out after doing so. The human then looked back at Herah and said,

“Norwe is a Maker. Specifically our Maker.”

“Yeah, they said that already. What are you getting at?”

“GRRHH!” Alex pinched his neck several times in rapid succession before continuing, “It means that he,” Alex pointed towards Norwe, “Has complete control over us.” Alex pointed at himself, “He could with a snap of his finger, make me disappear.”

Alex scoffed before sitting back in his seat. As the human sat down, Herah heard him say under his breath,

“I don’t see why you don’t get that.”

Herah almost continued in her questioning, but after hearing Alex’s words decided not to. Herah might’ve thought his actions unbefitting, but that didn’t mean that the youngling was going to push him anymore.

For now.

“My Soothsayer” Herah turned to Norwe, the Maker grinning softly as they continued, “The reason why my Artist is so willing to talk back is due to how I’m perceived in her universe.”

“What do you mean Norwe?” Alex said, now visibly calm and collected, but clearly still on edge.

Norwe then gestured towards Herah, the youngling understanding that this meant that the Maker wanted her to continue. Though not too liking of Norwe at the moment, Herah would never past up a chance to spread the reach of La Flamme.

So with those thoughts, Herah walked over to Norwe’s end of the table and turned to face everyone else in the room. All eyes were on her, Max and the gnome staring at her with clear curiosity in their eyes while Alex watched her with his ever-searching glare.

But Herah did’t speak.

Herah preached.

“Bois D’Allumage,” Herah began, her voice filling the room as her tone became deep and powerful, “Is considered the parent of La Flamme, the creator of my species. Our tales tell that at the beginning of our universes life-span it was just a piece of coal. This coal piece was infinite in mass and held a conscious.”

Herah then brought one of her hands to her chest, her voice rising in tandem with her excitement. Her eyes sweeping the small dining room as her story went on.

“My people called it Bois D’Allumage. And for eons, it was perfectly fine with its existence.”

The youngling then brought her other hand to her chest and clinched both fists, her voice taking on a sorrowful tone.

“This feeling of satisfaction however slowly changed into sadness and depression. And as the centuries went by, these feelings compounded until finally, Bois D’Allumage couldn’t take it anymore.” The youngling placing special emphasis on the last part of her sentence.

“So what happened next?”

This question came from Max, who looked to be getting into Herah’s word as much the youngling herself. Herah smiled at Max in response, always happy to see someone willing to listen, before continuing with her sorrowful tone.

“They ignited themselves. And began to burn”

Herah smirked as the sounds of the gnome’s and Max’s surprised gasp graced her ears, her eyes making a slight twitch at the dismissive grunt Alex made. Herah brought her hands to her side and continued, her tone now like it was in the beginning, powerful and heavy.

“As Bois D’Allumage burned, pieces of it began to fall away still engulfed in flame. And while most of Bois D’Allumage burnt away and gave way to our universe. ”

Herah sent a quick message to Jeffery, the pencil responding by launching her backpack towards her. Herah caught it without problem and drew out her sketch pad and pencil. Within moments, Herah had drawn and used Traduire to bring five pieces of coal into existence. With her mouth now dry, the youngling took the pieces of coal and ignited each of them with her fire.

Throwing the now flaming pieces of coal out and over the center table, Herah continued to preach,

“However five of these falling pieces didn’t burn away. Instead, they changed and as they changed they gained sentience, recognizing each other as siblings.”

The five burning pieces landed in the center of the table, each one beginning to take a different form. Herah sent another message to Jeffery, the pencil responding by lining up its eraser with the form that was closes to the youngling before launching it at her.

Herah caught the flaming form, which caused its flames to extinguish. This revealed the fossil of a dinosaur’s foot that was the size of Herahs palm. Allowing everyone in the room to see it Herah said, her voice still loud but much more gentle,

“The first of the coal fragments to take form was Le Dinosaure. The eldest of the siblings”

Herah dropped the piece and caught another of the flaming coal pieces, but unlike the one before, the coal didn’t lose its flame covering. Instead the coal burnt away until there was only fire left sitting in Herah’s hand.

“The second coal fragment to take form became La Flamme and later went on to create my race.”

Herah dropped the fire next to the fossil, the table not catching fire, and differentiating from before caught two of the burning coal fragments. One of them burnt away to reveal a palm sized bubble held miraculously by Herah’s middle and thumb claw, while the other revealed a scorch mark on the youngling’s palm.

“Two of the final three coal fragments became Le Serre and Le Scorch, the twins of the group.”

Herah let go of the bubble and flipped her hand while over the table. The bubble floated down to rest next to the still burning fire, with the scorch mark landing right next to the bubble. Jeffery launched the final coal fragment at Herah, and the youngling caught it without problem. This time, like the first, the flame was immediately extinguished.

“Is that a diamond?”

“Pretty.”

“Can you make me one?”

Herah rose a brow at the reactions of the three mortals in the room, not seeing what was so big about the what the final coal fragment turned into. Shrugging her shoulders Herah named it.

“And the final piece, the youngest of the group, became Le Diamant.”

Herah dropped the diamond next to her other creations before finishing her sermon.

“With the creation of these five, Bois D’Allumage died and left the universe to the will of these five siblings, who we call Les Frères et Sœurs à base de Carbone.”

Herah then created a wisp lantern, crushed it in her hand, and brought it to her chest in order to create her flame shroud. After letting Max and the gnome give their little oohs and aahs, Herah bowed to the group and said, “Let your flame burn eternally.” The shroud disappearing with these words, Herah rose back up and moved back to her seat.

After sitting down, Herah looked back at Alex who was tapping his nose once again. Not a word was said by anyone else, the entire room silent as everyone just watched each other. Alex, of course, was the one to break this silence.

“Your people don’t believe that Norwe is all-powerful, do they?”

Herah shook her head, and spoke,

“Amongst the Cendreux the idea of something or someone being unbeatable is not only unaccepted, it’s frowned upon greatly. We believe that all can be surpassed.”

“Even your god, The Flame?”

Herah nodded her head.

“Especially her, La Flamme isn’t even the most powerful of her siblings.”

Herah used the flame still burning at the center of the table to launch the diamond near it into her hand.

“That honor goes to Le Diamant, who is also the most durable. La Flamme is the most loving of the siblings, hence the reason my planet was the first to gain life that worshipped one of the siblings. We were created due to her sense of loneliness.”

Alex nodded, before turning his sights towards Norwe, at least that’s what Herah assumed.

“Are you okay if I ask one more question?”

“Sure.” Norwe answered, their voice showing no form of annoyance, “It’s best if you learn as much about each other as possible, it’ll allow for better collaboration.”

Herah watched as Alex nodded his head, before setting his sights back on Herah.

“So the five siblings are, in this order: the dinosaur, the flame, the scorch, the greenhouse, and the diamond, right?”

“Yeah.”

Alex leaned forward, his eyes narrowing in suspicion.

“How do you know about the others exactly?”

Herah immediately noticed the suspicion and growled at the human.

“La Flamme told us.”

“Told one of your ancestors right?”

Herah gave Alex a blank stare before saying,

“Of course La Flamme did that, but our goddess also showed up eight cycles ago to spread the word herself.” Herah smiled softly, “I met with her personally.”

Alex blinked in shock before tapping his nose like crazy, presumably a lot more questions being created by that statement. Herah heard a gasp come from both the gnome and Max. This caused Herah to look at Norwe in confusion, the Maker answering her unasked question.

“Where they come from their gods rarely interact with mortals, and even when they do, they don’t it on the level in which my daughter does.”

Norwe then checked a clock that they got from nowhere, and said,

“Now look at the time,”

“Where did you even-”

“He’s a Maker sis.”

Norwe shook his head in amusement before continuing,

“It’s about time that you guys got to your first act.”

With those words, Norwe snapped their fingers causing a black mass to appear in front of the table and suck the gathered group in, excluding Norwe and Jeffery.

Norwe turned to Jeffery and said,

“You better get going old friend, my Artist will be needing your help.”

Jeffery scribbled a message on the wall before flying up and out of the pocket dimension in search of Herah, her backpack on their back.

Norwe didn’t even look at the message on the wall, already knowing what it said. The Maker just said,

“I forgot to fix the Soothsayer’s clothing.”

The Maker then thought briefly and added,

“Also the Artist needs to put a shirt on.”