Writing

Old Friends

Here they are you guys! These are all the Edifice and Keeper pairings as they start out in Edifice. All my Edifices are to the left and their Keepers to their right.

Top to bottom: Lenci & Beck, Nuri & Mizu, Kuval & Sadie, Tale & Eva, Tarin & Zakhar, Edan & Caldwell

Here is the next excerpt which includes all of these guys together, which doesn’t happen often!

Lenci found Beck and stayed with him most of the night. Everyone retold funny old stories, glad to have new ears around to hear them.
There was the time Tarin, a large Scottish redheaded man, accidentally stopped to smell the wrong flowers. Everyone loved high-as-a-kite Tarin for three days. He, on the other hand, didn’t remember a single thing from it. Lenci laughed as Nuri told a totally untrue story about Tarin finger painting a whole room.
“No I did not!” Tarin shouted, then followed with a timid, “Did I?”
“No, you didn’t,” Lenci couldn’t stand stringing the big teddy bear along. “Nuri is messing with you.” She shook her head with a leftover laugh as Tarin breathed a loud sigh of relief.
Following that story went the one about Nuri nearly burning down the kitchen in their cooking class and one with Kuval accidentally flooding his own room. Everyone laughed especially hard at Edan lighting a beehive on fire only to have all the bees attack him. With so many stories about the others going around, Lenci had hope she would escape the spotlight. But she was wrong.
“She was always so curious!” Tarin bellowed. “It got our Lenci into plenty of trouble.”
“Like the time,” began Kuval, “she broke into The Warden’s quarters to read all his intel on everyone.”
“Or,” Nuri added, “the time she broke into the vault to try to learn the key to the Edifice locks. So much trouble for that one!”
Lenci felt her cheeks burn up to her forehead.
“Wow,” Beck turned to her, “the original felon.” He laughed as Lenci shrugged her shoulders.
As the night wound down many, including Beck, decided to retire to their mansions. Lenci was sitting on the ground sipping a soda and talking to Mizu. He was excited about going to find the new Edifice. Lenci was glad for him, despite being a tad bit jealous too. Soon, he decided to call it a night and she was left with Kuval.
“Three Keepers down, huh?” He nudged her shoulder.
“Yep. New record. No one has ever gone through more than two Keepers in their life as an Edifice. Maybe I never should have become an Edifice.” She looked into her soda bottle sadly.
“If that were true,” Kuval turned to face her, “The Warden would have replaced you long before now.”
“Maybe. Maybe he’s just holding out hope I’ll do better.”
“Better?”
“Better. That I won’t wake with dead bodies in my secure room, that I’ll manage to keep my demon under control and my Keepers alive.”
“I think you’re looking at it wrong.”
“How should I be looking at it?” Lenci looked him in the eye. “If there’s another way to look at it, tell me. Help me feel better about losing three Keepers, three friends.” A tear rolled down her cheek.
“Don’t look at it as your demon being out of control, look at it as you being lucky to be able to contain such power.”
“But—“
“No one in our history has contained Braithe as long as you. No one has been able to keep her from destroying both Keeper and Edifice. Only you have lasted more than 150 years. You’ve outlasted any other Edifice for Braithe. You are the only one who can handle so much power.”
Lenci smiled. He almost sounded a little jealous. “Thanks, Kuval.” He was right. She had the best track record of being able to handle Braithe.
“Any time, my friend.” He gave her hand a squeeze. “Any time. But I should be going. Sadie will be getting worried soon.”
“Goodnight. And good luck with your big decision. I’m sure you’ll be happy, whichever choice you make.”
Lenci was about to get up to go to bed too when Edan sat next to her. “Not tonight,” Lenci said. She drank the last of her soda.
“Sounds like you’ve perfected your American accent. I wish Warden would give me a reason to perfect mine. Then we’d be closer,” Edan told her in his Korean accent.
“Maybe if you would show some initiative and perfect it beforehand, he would have a reason to move you there. But I sincerely hope you don’t and he doesn’t. I don’t want to be anywhere near you.”
“You have to forgive me, Lenci,” he ordered her.
“Do I?” Lenci’s voice dripped with disdain. “I feel like that should be my decision. Plus, I have forgiven you. I had to for myself. Forgiving you doesn’t mean I trust you or want to be anywhere near you.”
“It’s been 198 years. You’re being ridiculous. Give me a break!”
“No.”
“I didn’t know what being an Edifice was like back then. I didn’t know how easy it was to lose control, especially in the first few years,” he justified.
“That doesn’t excuse your behavior.” Lenci wouldn’t relent. “I don’t care what year it was. Warden raised us with the highest standards of equality, including consent. Even if you didn’t know what being an Edifice was like, me not wanting to sleep with you should have been enough. You should have stopped when I said no. You should have stopped…” Her eyes filled with tears at the memory and she fought down the lump in her throat. “…when I said you were hurting me. You should have stopped before I had to force you off of me. I shouldn’t have had to fight off my best friend!”
“I know that.” Edan reached over to wipe a tear from Lenci’s face.
Lenci shoved his hand away and shouted, “Don’t touch me!”
“I’ve changed since then, Len. Please—“
“Have you?” Lenci asked. “Because you still can’t take no for an answer. You only care about what you want!” She stood up, smashed her soda bottle to the ground, and started walking away.
“Wait!” He ran after her and grabbed her wrist.
She swung around and decked him in the face with her free hand. He immediately released his grip as he brought both hands up to his eye.
“You want to prove to me that you’ve changed?” She shouted at him. “Stop laying your hands on me like you have my approval. You don’t! Don’t ever touch me again!” She stormed off into her house.
She slammed the mansion door closed and leaned her back against it with her eyes shut. Their whole conversation had brought up horrible memories. It took some of her self control from her. Her body shook in rage and sorrow. She could hear Braithe laughing in the back of her mind.
“Nice one, sweet little Lenci,” Braithe’s voice became clearer. “Let me out. I’ll take real care of him for you.”
“No,” Lenci whispered aloud. “Go away.” She took deep breaths and calmed herself.
“Come now,” Braithe whispered softly. “That man is a disgusting, vile being. I remember him from when I was first trapped in here. I know exactly what he did and exactly how it made you feel. It still upsets you.”
“Leave me alone or I’ll set us on fire,” Lenci threatened louder.
“Let me finish him off for you.” Braithe’s voice became more aggressive.
“Never.”
“He tried to rape you!” Braithe shouted in her head.
Lenci cried out in rage and lit her whole being on fire. Braithe was right about how she felt. That was no excuse to release a demon into the world. Her saying the actual word ‘rape’ made it so real though. It infuriated Lenci and she worried she might lose control. Lighting herself up was the only option to keep that from happening.
She and Braithe screamed as she expended vast amounts of energy and anger. After a long minute she collapsed onto the floor. Her flames died down and a few sobs shook her body. Lighting herself on fire had left her in her bra and underwear but Braithe was silent, put back in place.
“Are you alright?” Beck asked. He stood a few yards away with a worried look on his face. Leaving a little space between them, he knelt in front of her.
“I will be.” Lenci stared at the floor.
“Wanna talk about it?”
“No.”
“May I?” Beck reached his hand out but didn’t touch her until she nodded. When she did, he proceeded to wipe the tears from her freckles. “Want to go in the secure room and light the whole thing up?” He cracked a sideways smile.
“I really do.” She smiled up at Beck as he stood and extended a hand down to her. As much as she hated her transformation room, basking in the heat of an entire room of fire did sound soothing.
“So,” he said as he opened the big black door for her, “you always wear fireproof underwear?”
“Always,” she chuckled. “You should too.”

Writing

Meeting

Lenci and Beck went outside where the sun was about to set. Everyone stood in pairs in a circle, Lenci and Beck’s space the only spot to be filled. They stood in their spot and looked around the circle at Warden and five other pairs of people. They were all young like Lenci and Beck.
“Thank you for joining me here, everyone,” Warden began. “As you’re all aware, Aiden has been released. We will be sending Kuval and his Keeper, Sadie, to track down the demon and trap him temporarily.”
Everyone nodded to a man with tan skin, blue black hair, and a neat beard. He wore a dark blue Indian kurta with gold trim. Beside him was a pale woman with short hair, the left half pink, the right half black.
After everyone acknowledged the pair, Warden continued. “We do however find ourselves in need of a new Edifice for Kuval’s demon. Breaking the lock has left our dear friend unable to contain demons.” An audible joint sigh of sadness for this man swept the circle in waves before Warden moved on. “I will be taking Nuri and Mizu with me to find a new Edifice.”
This time everyone nodded to a dark skinned woman with darker hair that flowed beautifully down her back in thick braids. Her partner was an Asian man in a suit with his dark hair parted to one side.
“The rest of you will be assigned new secure locations with new guidelines. None of you are to leave your houses until otherwise notified. No phone calls, nothing. This is an absolute lockdown until things are under control. You may have tonight to catch up with one another. I know it’s been a long time since we’ve all been in one place. And in the morning we’ll be welcoming a new Keeper to our ranks. Lenci has chosen Beck to be her new Keeper and he has accepted. He will be titled in the morning before everyone is sent to their tasks and locations.” This time it was Beck’s turn to be acknowledged and he nodded back at everyone. “I will be making preparations if anyone should need me. Enjoy your night.” He bowed and went into house directly behind him.
“Let me take you around real quick.” Lenci led Beck across the circle to the Indian man. “Kuval, old friend,” Lenci said in a soft voice. “I’m so sorry.”
“Lenci. As am I. I heard what happened to Fredrick. Awful to wake to that.” He grasped her hand in both of his. “This must be his replacement then?” He looked to Beck and reached both hands out to him.
Beck gave him his hand and said, “I’m Beck. It’s nice to meet you.”
“And you. I wish you better wisdom than our late Fredrick.” He released his hand. “This is my Keeper, Sadie.”
“Pleasure,” Sadie said in a British accent. “Mind if I take you around to meet everyone while these two catch up?” She looped her arm through Beck’s and led him away.
Lenci chuckled as she waved to Beck. She turned her attention back to Kuval. “Are you okay?” She asked him with sincerity.
“I’m sore but I’m alright. Better than being killed I suppose.” He shrugged with a wince.
“I’m glad you weren’t killed. Good men like you are rare in any time.”
“Thank you.” He smiled weakly. “Shirts are a pain right now though. Like being titled all over again.” Kuval reached a cautious hand to his shoulder.
“That’s bad. How did they do it?”
“A symbol I’ve never seen before. I’m assuming it’s the key to the lock they put on us. It stretches across my whole back. I can’t be titled ever again.”
“I can’t imagine.” Lenci looked at him with sympathy. “What are you going to do then?”
“Warden is letting me decide what I want to do. He’s offered to let me stay on and teach the new recruits and rebuild our forces. I would retain my immortality. Or I may become a mortal and live a normal life for the rest of my days.”
“What are you going to choose? That’s a tough decision.”
“I’m not sure yet. A normal life sounds good after all this.” He laughed. “But I don’t know how to live a normal life with what I know. I don’t know how to do nothing when I could be helping. I’m still deciding. He told me to take as long as I need. Maybe I’ll go spend some time out in the world as a normal person and see how I like it.”
“Good idea. See both sides. I think I should go talk to Warden about a few things. Can I meet up with you again later?”
“Of course. It’s always nice to see you, friend.” He grasped her hand one more time.
“You too.”
Lenci knocked on the door of Warden’s house and waited. He answered and ushered her in.
“What can I help you with?” He asked.
“Don’t give me that. You know exactly what you can help me with.” She stood with her hands on her hips. “Why am I not going with you to find the new Edifice?”
“Because Nuri is coming with me.”
“I want to go too. I could help.”
Warden set his hands on her shoulders. “My Lenci. My strongest Edifice, my best warrior. You cannot come with me this time as much as I desire it.”
“Why not?” She looked up at him with pleading eyes. “I can protect you and the new Edifice. I always go with you.”
“Not this time.”
“What’s so different about this time?”
“This time,” he moved his hands to cradle her face, “you are the target. You are what the enemy is searching for. The Demon Master knows who you are already. He will come for you. You need to stay in hiding. You can’t go all over the globe with me this time.”
“I can’t hide and do nothing.”
“You won’t. You’ll hide and you’ll train Beck. He needs your attention right now. Prepare him for the next new moon and the many more to come. Prepare him for battle that might be necessary. And most importantly, keep your demon secure. Keep yourself secure. Don’t let me lose you.” He kissed her forehead. “Please. Do this for me. Until the danger passes.”
“Alright, Ward. For you, my dearest friend.” She leaned into him for a hug and felt his strong arms of comfort wrap around her. “I better go see how Beck is doing. Thanks for seeing me.”
“You’re always welcome.” He let her go and watched her walk out the door.

Writing

No Means No

Trigger warning: talk of attempted rape

They dashed From the beach into the house and back to the mansion. Doors slammed behind them. The house shook once again and they both fell to the floor. When the shaking stopped, Lenci stood and helped Beck up.

“Did we move again?” He asked as he regained his feet.

“Yes. That was an emergency move. I wonder why.” Lenci walked to the front door. “Let’s see where we are now.” She opened the door and groaned. “Crap.”

They were in what looked similar to a desert except that what was at her feet was not sand but salt. She would have seen it stretch on for miles in every direction if it weren’t for the circle of mansions they were not a part of. The shack part of their house was missing. The sun hadn’t set here yet but it would soon.

“What? Where are we?” Beck peered around Lenci. “What the—“

“We’re on the salt flats of the Great Salt Lake. Get dressed.” Lenci went to close the door as Beck retreated to his room. A hand stopped her. She reopened the door to see a man. This new man was only about two inches taller than her. Dark spiky hair stood on his head and his narrow eyes held dark irises within them. He was extremely well muscled in his too tight t-shirt.

He looked her over and whistled. “Someone’s been having fun without me.”

I don’t have time for you, Edan.” Lenci walked away with Edan following close behind.

“Of course you do. You certainly have time to let me enjoy you in your cute little swimsuit. I never get to see this much of you,” he whined.

“That’s because I don’t want you to.” She gasped as Edan took hold of her waist and spun her around. She crashed into his solid chest. He held her tight against him.

“Come on, Lenci. Spend some time with me. Like we used to.”

“No. We’re here for a reason. Now let me go,” she demanded.

“What if this is the reason we’re here?” He leaned in.

“No, Edan.” Lenci backed away as far as she could. She wouldn’t have this. If he wouldn’t let go on his own, she would make him let go. She grabbed his wrist and twisted as she pushed him away. He cried out in pain and cradled his hand. She followed with a good hard smack to his cheek. She immediately turned heel and strode the rest of the way to her room.

“Lenci, wait!” Edan walked after her. He tried to catch up as he shouted, “Wait! I’m sorry, okay?” Lenci only slammed her bedroom door in his face. Edan laid the side of his face against the door and said, “It can be how it used to be. We’re so similar, Len. I know you, I can feel you. Let me in.” He didn’t receive any answer.

“You know that’s not what we’re here for, Edan,” The Warden’s voice said from down the hallway.

“I know.” Edan turned back down the hall. “I can’t help it though.”

“You can help it,” The Warden chided. “Don’t give me that.”

“She’ll give in one day though. I can’t give up. You’re supposed to tell me to hang in there and have hope.” He looked up to The Warden who was nearly a foot taller than him.

“No I’m not. Why would I condone you harassing another person? Let alone another Edifice. When someone says no, it means no, Edan. You need to take your answer and go.” He looked down at him with serious eyes. “Don’t let me catch you bothering Lenci again.”

“Fine.” Edan walked away as Beck came into the hallway in a t-shirt and jeans.

“Warden,” Beck greeted. “It’s nice to see you again.”

“And you, Beck.” Warden paused as Lenci joined them in a grey shirt, black jeans, and white leather jacket. “I’m sorry to have to take you from paradise so soon. I had planned on you staying there for the remainder of the week.”

“It’s alright. What’s wrong?” Lenci wondered. There hadn’t been a meeting like this in over a hundred years. The last time was when… “Who was it?” Panic flooded her chest.

“It’s Aiden. He’s been released.”

“No.” Lenci covered her mouth with both hands. “Kuval?”

“He’s alive,” The Warden told her.

Beck stood in confusion but neither The Warden nor Lenci had the time or desire to explain at that moment.

“What do we do?”

“That’s what we’re here to discuss. Take a few minutes and meet outside. Beck,” he shifted his focus back to the confused man, “I’ll see you out there.” He disappeared in his white cloud.

“First question.” Beck turned to Lenci. “Who was that guy I heard you arguing with? The Warden sure told him off.”

Lenci cringed. “Edan. He’s an old… friend. Or he used to be a friend. We had a falling out when he tried to seduce me after I’d been titled. He knew it was wrong and dangerous but wouldn’t take no for an answer. I ended up knocking him out and moving away right after that. He can’t take the fact that I don’t want his friendship or anything else any more.”

“Anything else? Were you guys—“

“We were in the same class growing up. Over those years we had formed a bond. We had feelings for each other. Nothing ever happened that shouldn’t have. A few secret kisses, nothing more. He was made an Edifice a few years after me.”

“Next question.” Beck moved on quickly. “Who’s Kuval?”

“He was the Edifice for Aiden, the lava demon. Now his demon is free.” She shivered at the thought of a demon being on the loose. “Looks like they’ve found out how to break the lock put on us when we’re titled. It’ll make it easier for them to free more demons. Only high ups know that information. They must have gotten it when they attacked last month.”

“That’s horrendously terrifying,” Beck spoke exactly what Lenci was feeling.

“It is. I’m sure he’s already taken and destroyed many lives. That’s why we’re all here. Ward will explain what’s going on and what’s being done to capture that demon and prevent the others from being freed.”

Writing

What Beck Knows

“You’re here!” Beck shouted. “I’m so glad to see you!” 

“I bet you are,” Lenci chuckled. “Let’s get you out of here.” She untied him and heaved him up by his arm. “We have to hurry. Twenty more are about to come down on us.”

Beck glanced at the slightly scorched grunts. “Are they dead?” 

“No.” Lenci dragged him along with her out the door and stopped. 

Outside the door stood a horde more guards. Lenci did a quick count. Fifteen. She looked left and right. The right was crowded in while the left was more spaced out. She hesitated for a moment. The left was away from the front door, the wrong way for an escape. For the moment, it was the only way. 

“Follow me,” she whispered to Beck. Throwing punches and swinging men around, she cleared a path for Beck to follow.

They fought off clawing hands and swinging fists until they were clear. Lenci dashed away with Beck behind. She came to some stairs and had an idea. Two floors up, she led them to the roof access. 

“Where are we going?!” Beck called while stair hopping. “We’ll be cornered up there!” 

“No we won’t!” Lenci pushed the roof door open and ran to the edge. “Come on!” 

“What are we doing?” 

“Hold onto me.” She stepped up onto the ledge and held her hand out for him. 

“Up there?” 

“Yes, up here! Will you listen?” She looked up as the man with the pointy nose dashed through the roof entrance. 

He stared at her as he said, “There’s nowhere to go. Come back inside. You’re meant to be here anyway. My master will be pleased.” Guards filled in behind the man. “Your Keeper was a letdown though. We were expecting the Keeper of such a powerful demon as Braithe would be privy to more information. He’s so green, fresh from the world. He has absolutely no knowledge of anything.” 

“Not true!” Beck shouted. “I gave you the greatest breakdown of health insurance ins and outs ever!” 

“Disappointing.” The man frowned. 

“That’s a theme for you today, huh?” Lenci goaded. 

“Not now that you’re here.” The man’s frown turned up. 

“Ooh, sorry,” Lenci cooed. “That’s not happening today.” She reached down and grabbed Beck’s shirt collar and yanked him up on the ledge with her. 

“Where are you going to go?” 

“Nowhere to go…” she looked behind her, “…but down!” 

The man motioned for his guards to go after them. Lenci threw her arms around Beck’s neck as she hurled them over the edge. “Warden!!!” She cried as she heard Beck shouting. Then a white cloud appeared and swallowed them up.