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. 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.”
“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!”
“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.
“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?”
“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.”