Monthly Archives: March 2012
Weight: 125 lbs
Eye Color: Mint
Body: Average, Pear-shape
Blood Type: A-
“I don’t like using daisies when I play ‘he loves me, he loves me not.’ Marigolds are better, and they smell nicer, too.” -Jaylee
(Jaylee was drawn by Deanna. Check out more of her art [here])
Jaylee’s brother said she was obsessive. Her father thought she had too much free time. Her mother only smiled and said, “Jaylee, would you like a–” holding out her most recent cooked creation.
Well, her brother was a twit, she thought. And her father thought everyone had too much time. Her mother understood, though. Her mother was the one who taught her about pheromones in the first place. The cookies she baked were delicious, too.
It started when she began her diary at the age of ten. Her mother gave it to her, telling her it was precious and she could write down her deepest secrets. She took this to heart.
First Entry -
Dear Diary(is this how you start?)
Lancer’s dumb. I don’t why anyone calls him Lancer. I did because he doesn’t like his real name and asked me to, but is Layne a bad name? I think it’s nice. I wrote too much bye now.
Second Entry -
I don’t like starting dear diary, so I’m not going to. You’re a book not a person and I don’t want talk to you.
Lancer’s dumb. I asked if he wanted to come for cookies today, but he said no. He said *there are tear drops on the page here* I smelled and had cooties! Serious? We’re ten and I don’t have cooties. He’s dumb. No one has cooties. Those are fake.
Seventh Entry -
Lancer’s dumb. If he’s really dumb am I dumb, too? I look at him in class and I can’t stop! I’m going crazy. He’s so pretty, though *heart* We’re reading a book and the teacher told us to write our favorite descriptions and I want to write about Lancer but I can’t give Ms. Allen that! She’ll read it. I’ll write them here.
Lancer’s hair is dark and wavy like wheat stalks bending in gusty wind. His eyes are so beautiful and blue, like a deep lake or maybe a splashy puddle on a rain day. His lips are ohmygod I can’t even think about his lips Iwanttokisshimsobad.
Do you think he’ll kiss me if I ask?
Eighth Entry -
Lancer’s dumb. Today is my birthday and I asked him if he’d give me a kiss for a present and he said no. Why? I’m not pretty? I think I am. Mom has a big mirror and I can see all of me when I stand in front of it and I’m pretty sure I’m pretty. I even practiced making pretty faces so I could show Lancer. But he looks away! I make a pretty face and he looks away. Serious? If I were him I’d kiss me. What about ohmygod I can’t write that! Alright, I’ll write that I think kissing would be fun but maybe there’s more fun after? Diary, if you aren’t a book and are a person and you tell anyone I’m going to burn you in a fire.
A few days later, Jaylee’s mother knocked on her door. “Can I come in, dear?”
Jaylee stuffed her diary under her pillow in the middle of writing her ninth entry. “Yeah, mom. What is it?”
Mrs. Ellis opened her daughter’s bedroom door, stepped into the room, then closed the door behind her. She smiled at Jaylee, reassuring and calm. This, Jaylee thought, was odd, because her mother didn’t do it unless something was wrong. Sure, she smiled all the time, but it was more a silly, whimsical look instead of one with a lot of meaning.
Her mother removed the plentitude of stuffed animals from atop a wooden chair and pulled it to the foot of her daughter’s bed before sitting on it. “Jaylee,” she said. “We should talk, dear.”
Jaylee shrugged. “Alright.”
And they talked. About birds and bees and how Lancer might be a very pretty boy and–
“Wait,” Jaylee said near the end of the conversation. “How did you know about Lancer? Did you read my diary?”
“Yes,” her mother said.
“Is that why you gave it to me? You’ve been reading it this entire time! Right? Haven’t you? It’s private, mom! I hate you!”
This was the fourth time Jaylee had said I hate you since coming home from school, and while she meant it this time(she really did, more than the time before when she thought she’d hated her mother but now knew she didn’t but this time was for real), her mother smiled and laughed it off.
“It’s fine to have crushes on boys,” her mother said, ignoring the accusations(which were true, of course), “but wait until you’re older, please? Maybe you’ll get married and then it’ll be amazing. Kissing is fine, Jaylee, but you have a wonderful life ahead of you and I don’t want you to ruin it by–” And here her mother mentioned awkward details of what lay beyond kissing.
Jaylee cringed, because it was gross talking about this with her mom. Except, wait wait, she backtracked a second. “Lancer will marry me?”
“Why wouldn’t he? You’re an attractive young lady.”
“He doesn’t even look at me, though. I―alright, watch.” Jaylee made a pretty face to show her mother, the same one she tried on Lancer. “I do that and he looks away!”
“He’s shy, dear.”
“I don’t want him to be shy, though. I want him to kiss me.”
Jaylee’s mother scrunched up her brow. Contemplating something probably, but who knew what. Jaylee never understood her mother. Her father said she was some great sphereshifter before, but to this day Jaylee had never seen her mother sphereshift. Nothing. Not once.
“I’m going to teach you something, dear.”
“Mom, I don’t want to learn to make cookies.”
“Stop pouting, your face will get stuck that way and then how will Lancer find you attractive?”
Jaylee stopped pouting right away. “I still don’t want to learn to make cookies.”
“Not cookies. I’m out of practice, but I did this when I was young. You just need to be careful, alright? I don’t want you to take advantage of situations and if I hear about you and Lancer, or any other boy–” Her mother really really liked being awkward.
Twenty-seventh Entry -
Lancer’s dumb. Mom taught me pheromone stuff. She says it’s got to do with smells. I’m practicing but I can’t get it to work. She showed me one and I think it works, but people look at me funny.
Twenty-eighth Entry -
Lancer’s dumb and so is my mom! She tricked me. The sphereshift she showed me WAS SUPPOSED TO MAKE PEOPLE LOOK AT ME FUNNY! Serious? What kind of thing is that? Who does that who wants someone to look at them funny Idon’tunderstandher.
Thirty-fourth Entry -
Lancer’s dumb. My mom apologized and told me that was the easiest sphereshift to learn and that’s why she started with it. I guess that’s alright, but I don’t like people looking at me funny. This next one is nice. It makes people smile. Mom says it taps into memory centers in their brains and causes them to remember their happiest memories. That sounds nice. I smelled it but all I smelled were mom’s cookies, so I thought she was trying to trick me into making cookies with her. I used it around Lancer and he smiled! Tomorrow I’m going to ask him to kiss me.
Thirty-fifth Entry -
Lancer’s dumb. He wouldn’t kiss me. What an idiot!
One-hundred-and-fifty-ninth Entry -
Lancer’s still a little dumb, but I think I’m wearing him down. I’ve been holding back so much. I told my mother before what I wanted to try, and she thinks it’s interesting if I can pull it off. I finally managed to do it the other day, and I’ve practiced to make sure I understand it and I definitely do. I haven’t told her yet. I’m going to keep it secret for a little. Rei came today and asked daddy if he could give Lancer and her a ride into Garde on his next trip. That’s tomorrow. Jared and I get to go. I’ll be with Lancer! I need to find a way to get Jared and daddy to leave us alone. Rei will help, I think. She’s helped before.
Back to my discovery! This is exciting I’m so excited. The secret to pheromones is water sphereshifting, mom taught me. The scents are good by themselves, but if you mix small scents mix mix swirl mix with sphereshifting, and put them on certain points on your body(wrists, neck, armpits, or another warm spot that’s inappropriate and mom told me never do that until I’m married or she’ll ground me forever I swear you’re reading this mom and I won’t do it I want to kiss Lancer but I won’t do anything else) you can use your body heat to evaporate the mixture and send scents into the air around you. A minor fire sphereshift to heat the mix increases the effects by a lot, though.
Which is fun and it works but what if you mix the pheromones inside your body and when you sweat they come out? Not gross sweat like after you run and you’re sticky, but the regular kind that happens a little at a time throughout the day.
And I can do that now! It’s neat. I’ve been seeing what my body makes naturally, but I figured out if I eat the right foods I can add different pheromones for a little while. It’s still a good idea to carry vials and ingredients just in case, but this is less conspicuous. Lancer would wonder why I’m holding a vial and mixing things before I ask him to kiss him. Now I don’t have to! Isn’t that neat?
Mom if you’re reading this stop reading this. I’ve asked you a million times. I’m sixteen now and I haven’t even kissed anyone. If you’re scared of me doing I’mnotgoingtowriteitthat’ssoweird I’m not talking about this with you. I won’t do it, alright? I don’t even use pheromone sphereshifting on Lancer ever anyways, but if I use it once to get a kiss that’s not bad, right? I’ll do the rest the hard way and I swear he’ll ask me on a date and I have two years and we’ll marry when I’m eighteen or maybe nineteen I don’t know.
I’ll talk with you when I get back. Stop reading this.
Prize Tier Reached – 3/5
Odds of Winning (as of end) – ~4%
Hey! Contest Time! This is my first contest, so bear with me. The contest deadline is April 30th, 2012(4/30/12) at 11:59PM EST(UTC-05). Any entries after that won’t be accepted, so remember to enter before then. And don’t forget to tell your friends, have them enter, share the site, the story, all that good stuff.
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“So,” the clam said, wasting a tick. “We have options.”
The clam had options, maybe. Lancer only had eighty-seven seconds left. “Let’s go with the first.”
“Are you sure?” The clam sounded dubious. “That’s–”
Lancer interrupted. “Yes, I think that’s our best course of action.”
With seventy ticks remaining, the clam waited for Lancer’s approval after explaining his idea.
Lancer blinked, completely stunned, wasting precious seconds. Slightly over a minute to go, which possibly allowed for another plan, but anything in-depth and they couldn’t act upon it. At least with this plan they had a plan, which was barely above winging it and praying. Lancer emphasized “barely” in his mind.
“Breathe deep,” the clam said. “When I open my shell you won’t be able to breathe underwater anymore. That’s how it works.”
Lancer swallowed lungfuls of air at fifty-nine seconds and at fifty-seven seconds the clam lifted his clamshell lid. By the light of the moonstone pearl, Lancer swam to the edge of the clam’s perch and pulled away the rocks and sand beneath. Slowly the clam came loose, the bindings holding him in place coming undone.
Lancer re-entered the clam and the lid closed again. Freeing the clam took more effort than he’d first thought, but then again he had never dug underwater before either.
“Plenty of time!” the clam said, jubilant. “Fourteen ticks and counting.”
“That’s it?” Lancer panicked, clutching his hair. “Are you serious? This won’t work. I can’t see how it will.”
“Ten,” the clam said.
“This is ridiculous, you know? I might as well–”
“―have stayed in the reservoir–”
“―and drowned for all the good this’ll–”
“Early liftoff. Not sure why I started with ten,” the clam said.
Lancer didn’t know either, because despite the clam’s countdown, they had nine seconds remaining.
The clam didn’t care, though. Lancer wondered if clams could care? Did they lack that feeling? Probably, which made it all the worse. If he survived this, which he doubted at the moment, he would have learned a valuable lesson: Never trust a clam to do the right thing.
With that thought in mind, Lancer didn’t even care when bubbles blooped through the closed clam’s shell, popping against his face. He didn’t worry when the clam’s momentum caused him to bounce back and get stuck near the clamshell’s hinge. What did it matter, because in three―no two―seconds Jaylee was a goner.
Wait, they’d finished early on purpose to allow half a minute extra time, didn’t they? Lancer had planned to swim to the surface, but with this plan he no longer needed to. A slight victory, but by how much?
Lancer’s spirits rose, and he enjoyed it somewhat when the clamshell opened midair revealing the sky overhead. He peeked over the edge of the flying clamshell to the ground below.
Jaylee’s body twisted in Albedo’s earthen cage. The rocks contorted, shrinking, grasping her body like a skintight suit. In thirty seconds, they would press against her skin until her bones cracked.
The plan, Lancer thought, had merit. He thought it dumb before, but now he saw the light. Perhaps the sun helped, cheered him up, but after counting down moments and listening to a clam’s bad ideas, thirty seconds seemed like a lifetime.
“Are you sure about this?” Lancer asked.
“Nearly. Afterwards I won’t be much use, though. Out of water I’m like a clam out of water,” the clam said.
Lancer ignored the clam’s lack of cunning simile and prepared for his part. Dragging himself away from the hinge, he gripped the clamshell’s edge and tensed his leg muscles. Albedo and Isabelle gaped at the flying clam, clearly unsure what to make of it.
Lancer relied on that, trusting somewhat in the clam(only somewhat, a small amount). At the apex of their flight, he leaped, earthbound.
He was good at this. Without any sphereshifting to speak of, he required instinct and physical ability to complete every task. Maybe he couldn’t do anything as fast, or to the same effect, as another sphereshifting skilled individual but he could do it just as well as most under common circumstances. This was no different, and after the practice of jumping out of trees onto unprepared victims for a prank, Lancer executed a perfect leap onto Albedo.
For good measure, he wound back his fist and slammed it into the well-dressed man’s shoulder upon impact. Every bit of momentum and hurt counted, Lancer thought. Oh, sure, he crashed too, both men sprawled onto the ground, limbs akimbo, but who cared?
Lancer recovered quickly, cocking his head to watch the clam. Like the shellfish assured, he soared straight for Jaylee’s cage, unerring.
How many seconds left? Lancer didn’t know, nor did he care. Albedo hastened to conduct an earth sphereshift which would crush Jaylee, but Lancer springboarded off the ground, landing on the man’s stomach. Compromised, Albedo’s attempt failed.
Out of the corner of his eye, Lancer saw the clam crash through the cage. Rocks cracked, splintered into a million tiny shards, pitched into the clam’s open maw before they harmed Jaylee. Then Jaylee followed suit, engulfed along with the rocks. The clamshell closed as it touched ground, rolling until it decelerated to a stop.
“You wretched, wicked child,” Albedo said, shoving Lancer and rising to his feet.
Isabelle, silent all this time, enraptured in the goings-on, laughed. “Splendid show though, you must admit?”
“Shut up.” Albedo turned to face Lancer, pure destruction gleaming in his eyes. Chunks of ground rose by his feet, forming hardened spikes. He ripped through one at the tip and tossed it in the air like a throwing dagger.
“I might have allowed you your life,” Albedo said, “If only for entertainment, I might’ve. Now? I’m going to bury you alive!”
Lancer dove into the water, aimless. He wasn’t pleased with this since aimlessness never worked well for him.
The middle, he should go there, except where was that? Lucky for him the water was crystal clear, but he still had no specifics on where to find this moonstone pearl. A pearl came from shellfish, and most lived in oceans. The ones that didn’t were small and easily shrouded in the depths of most waters.
He swam deeper, relying on the gulps of air he’d sucked in before immerging. If he could find the bottom of the reservoir, he’d at least have a better chance for success.
As it turned out, the water wasn’t too deep; on a hunch he’d say fifty yards. Deep enough, though, that the pressure from the air in his lungs hurt his chest. He pushed the pain aside, focusing on his search.
The farther he swam, the darker the water became. Looking up he saw a contorted view of the sun overhead, twisted sparkles convoluted by the water. If only he could sphereshift, this would be so much easier, but he dared not risk it. Last time he’d tried, electric sparks magnetized his body and he found himself sprawled on the floor of a classroom with desks toppling onto him, their metal frames drawn to him.
Jaylee had saved him, or at least she’d tried to help as best she could. What kind of person would he be if he didn’t return the favor?
He was thinking about this, becoming somewhat depressed despite his best efforts to turbocharge his adrenaline and be awesome, when a massive lid blocked out the sunlight and clamped down on him.
The world darkened. Trapped underwater with no way to breathe, Lancer panicked.
It came as a shock when he sputtered, forgetting he shouldn’t scream, and then the sound came out like any other scream. He breathed water, finding it as simple as air. Odd? Perhaps he was a prodigy water breathing sphereshifter without realizing it.
A glassy sphere illuminated his surroundings, shining light upon his predicament. The lid above remained clamped tight, trapping him against a ruddy, squishy floor. He pressed his feet against the floor as a test; it felt—or this was his assumption—like a tongue. The sphere lay in the middle of the tongue, black in color and emitting swirling incandescence.
Moonstone pearl? It seemed a likely candidate. He swam over and grabbed it thinking he could figure a way out afterwards.
The pearl had different views. It spoke.
“Woe unto thee! Who intrudes upon the water sphere god’s domain!”
Lancer froze. He stared at the pearl, confounded by the physics(metaphysics?) going on. How could it talk?
The pearl―or something―cleared its throat? Did pearls have throats? “You want the pearl, correct? You’re late. I’ve waited too long. The last person to arrive came―huh, one hundred years ago? That’s a long time.”
“Excuse me,” Lancer said, polite as possible. “Pearls aren’t supposed to speak.”
“I’m not a pearl, you idiot, I’m a clam.”
Lancer glanced downwards. What he’d mistaken for a floor with the texture of a tongue, was definitely a clam’s fleshy insides. The lid? The clamshell’s top. That explained the wavy shape at the edge of his confines.
None of this lightened his mood. In fact, he felt worse. How else should he feel with a giant clam eating him?
“I shouldn’t have said that,” the clam said.
“Shouldn’t have said what?” If a talking clam wanted to devour him, Lancer thought it could at least be conversational beforehand. Proper etiquette or something.
“I meant,” the clam said with the utmost authority, “I’m a god.”
Lancer didn’t buy it. “You’re not a god, are you?”
“You’ve put me in a spot. Strictly speaking, no. I know sphereshifting, though. I feel this is exceptional enough to guarantee godhood.” The clam hesitated. “Will you believe that?”
Lancer didn’t even care. “Today,” he said, “has been terrible. First my sister misleads me and forces me to travel under awkward arrangements, then weird pheromone sphereshifting sends me head over heels for a girl I don’t particularly like―she’s nice, don’t misunderstand―and then some fancily dressed man imprisons us, tosses me into this lake, and tells me to find a moonstone pearl or he’ll kill Jaylee. She’s the girl. And now you’re eating me, so can we do this? Things can’t get worse.”
“Oh,” the clam said.
Lancer waited, wondering how clams ate, hoping it was painless. Crush food with their tongues, or melt it to pieces with acid? Neither sounded painless, which upset him. Perhaps sphereshifting clams ate differently, though.
“I wasn’t eating you,” the clam said, sounding awkward about the confusion.
“If you’re not eating me, why’d you trap me?” A valid question, Lancer thought. Also the clam lied about his godliness, so why not about this?
“You looked like you could use a breather. Also this pearl is heavy. After holding it for so long I’m looking to get rid of it, start new projects, you know?”
Lancer didn’t know, but he nodded nonetheless.
“You sound depressed. Can I help?”
Lancer laughed. A clam who made magical pearls wanted to help him. The entire concept seemed ridiculous. “I don’t see how you could.”
“Do you have a lot of time? We could concoct a plan?”
“How long have I been here?”
“That’s difficult. I prefer simplicity. The sun rises, sets, and that’s a day. Not long? Sixty ticks?”
Lancer blinked. “What?”
“You know? I knew a watch once. It fell into the water by me and ticked. Sixty of those.”
“Ohhh.” That made sense. “A minute?”
“If you say so.”
“I have two more of those. Less considering I need to swim to the surface, too.”
“One hundred and twenty ticks. Let’s do this in ninety. That seems good.”
Lancer couldn’t help but feel that a clam, no matter its extracurricular abilities, had a lot to learn about sense of urgency. “If you say so,” Lancer said.
Jaylee and Lancer ran, or tried to.
“Oh, no you don’t!” the well-dressed man said. He snapped his fingers, the sound echoing through the air like the piercing howl of a wolf pining for the moon.
Silt and sand split beneath Jaylee and Lancer’s feet, making way for rocks and boulders. The boulders leapt skyward, divided, and formed into earthen bars while the rocks acted as connectors holding the bars into a cage shape. The whole thing crashed to the ground, trapping them inside.
“Take care of their friends,” the man said.
The lady frowned. “Don’t patronize me, Albedo. It’s already done.”
Jaylee screamed for help. Lancer did a little less than that, looking towards the carriage Mr. Ellis and Jared were fixing. They continued their task, oblivious, Rei sitting in the passenger section doing schoolwork.
Wonderful, he thought.
Albedo and the woman approached their prisoners, him smug and her curious.
“What do you want?” Jaylee asked. “Why are you doing this?”
Albedo chuckled. “We wanted test subjects, but you’ve rather ruined that, haven’t you?”
“You should’ve let him love you, dear,” the lady said.
“No–” Jaylee’s lip quivered. She shook, scared, but stood her ground. “I don’t want it like that.”
“Oh? An idealist?” The lady sighed. “Tell me, what’s the difference? Love is nonsense in the first place. Why not add more? If he loves you or if scents in the air nibble at synapses in his brain that tell him he does, it’s the same in the end. A feeling is a feeling. It isn’t as if he’s unwilling if that’s what he feels.”
“You’re wrong,” Jaylee said, squaring her shoulders.
“Isabelle, really, you’re arguing with a child. What is she, fifteen, sixteen? Can we hurry this up?”
“Go, then. Fetch the moonstone pearl and we’ll tweak their sensations and send them to Garde with a sample of the moonstruck elixir.” Isabelle waved her hand dismissively.
“Moonstone pearl?” Jaylee asked, confused. “That’s a myth.”
“You think so? Shall I show you it? Use it to make you fall madly in love with me? Have you writhing on the ground, begging for my affection?” Albedo grinned, falling to one knee in a mock declaration of love. “Oh, how sweet. I should enjoy that, having a little pet follow me around. Perhaps I’d throw you a bone if I felt my blood stirring, too. God knows Isabelle’s a prude, so it could provide necessary entertainment.”
Lancer gritted his teeth. He’d remained silent, but this was too much. Perhaps he didn’t find Jaylee attractive in the way she wanted, but he wouldn’t allow some arrogant jerk to bewitch her into loving him. After feeling identical emotions, though minimized, he knew the aftereffects were distressing. If this man did that to Jaylee, heightened, when she freed herself from it who knew what she’d do.
Jaylee was too nice, too soft. It would break her.
“Jaylee, I’ll get us out of this,” Lancer said, having no idea how to do that.
“Oh, will you?”
A rock sprouted from the ground and slammed into Lancer’s back. The earthen bars split, enough to allow him passage, and the force threw him onto the ground at Albedo’s feet. As quick as that, the cage reformed to contain Jaylee.
“I think,” Albedo said, “I’d rather not dampen my suit, nor does the prospect of stripping and taking a dip in ice-cold water entice me. You–” He patted Lancer’s head. “–shall do it for me.”
Isabelle watched, her interest piqued. “Albedo, you’re ruining their lover’s catalyst. It’s amusing watching them act valiant. A few more steps and they’d jump into each other’s arms without need of my assistance.”
“Why would I want that? It’ll make the girl more difficult to spherebind.”
Lancer raised his head, stared Albedo in the eyes. “What makes you think I’ll help?”
Albedo burst into laughter. His cackle caused the earth to ripple beneath Lancer’s feet. “Because, my boy, if you don’t, your friend is in for a world of trouble. You see the bars she’s in?”
Lancer glanced towards the cage, confused.
“For every minute you dally, I’ll shrink the cage by half. I’d say she has three minutes until there’s no room to move. Four minutes until bones break. I’d hop to it if I were you.”
Isabelle smirked, though the look in her eyes looked less than pleased at Albedo’s crass torture. “He really will,” she said.
The rock bars of the cage shivered, tightening a miniscule amount, as if to show Albedo meant business.
“Right. Step to.”
The ground beneath Lancer erupted, tilting into the shape of a ramp and sliding him into the reservoir.
“I wouldn’t think about escaping,” Isabelle said when Lancer burst from the water, gasping for air. “I’ll know if you leave the water. Be a good boy and fetch us the moonstone pearl. Maybe I’ll make you my pet so you can remain with your little girlfriend. How about that?”
Lancer paid them no heed, didn’t care. He needed to find that pearl, the stone from Jaylee’s fable, or they were in a lot of trouble. Escape plans could come later.
He sucked in air, swallowing hard, then sucked in more. Holding his breath, Lancer dove into the reservoir’s depths.
How was he supposed to find this thing? Jaylee mentioned the middle of the lake and he hoped her myth held some truth, because with only three minutes he didn’t have time to spare.
“Lancer? Why aren’t you sitting?”
Why wasn’t he sitting? What a question. First, he had no idea why they’d ran to the lake, and second he felt uncomfortable being alone with Jaylee. He wasn’t good at this, didn’t know how to approach it. He knew some guys dated girls at school but he never really understood it. The whole idea seemed awkward.
“I thought I’d stretch a little,” he said.
“Oh.” Jaylee sounded disappointed. “Alright.”
The water was nice, though. Nothing like the lake near their village. It seemed uniform, more accurate somehow, like someone had decided a lake should exist, cut out a piece of the ground, and then filled it up. The water left a large, wet circle in the middle of the grasslands and imprinted the image of an oasis sanctuary, minus the whole desert deal. At the opposing end of the lake someone had erected a way station of sorts between the junction of the lake and the stream that fed it.
“There’s a story to this place, you know?” Jaylee said, still sitting, watching him over her shoulder.
Fine, fine. He would sit. Taking his place next to her like she obviously wanted, he said, “Oh yeah?”
She beamed, pleased like no other. “Yes! It’s an old story, so probably not true, but it’s a nice.”
Lancer nodded, listening. When Jaylee reached for his arm and scooted closer, laying her head on his shoulder, he let her. Something inside of him felt befuddled, like he should protest, but the words eluded him.
“Ancient people used to believe sphereshifting was a gift from the gods, and that each god controlled a sphere element. They thought this place was home to the water sphere god, because of how perfect it looks. They called it the reservoir,” she said. “Supposedly during a full moon, the god plucked a piece of the moon out of the sky and drop it into the middle of the lake. That’s why the moon becomes smaller at night afterwards. Whomever took the piece would have good luck, especially in love and romance. That’s where the term moonstruck comes from. Isn’t that neat?”
Lancer listened, to be sure, but he had a sudden undeniable urge to lean over, tilt Jaylee’s head just so, and kiss the corner of her lips to see what would happen. If she consented, kissed back? He’d kiss the center of her lips and progress from there.
She looked at him. He leaned forwards. Her eyes narrowed. He began his plan.
The plan stopped before it started, Jaylee jumping up, frowning. Lancer felt odd, muddled. Why was she angry? Don’t worry, he thought, I’ll kiss it better. Come to me.
“Serious?” Jaylee huffed. “This is ridiculous. The first chance I get alone with you and maybe for my first kiss and you’re spherebound.”
Lancer only half heard her, his intent focused on her delightfully pink and plush lips. Her brow furrowed, frustrated and concerned. He would clear that look right away, bring her happiness and delight.
Jaylee shoved him away when he tried to wrap his arms around her waist and pull her into a kiss. “Just stay still a second, Lancer. Let me fix this.”
He sat. He would do this another way. Poetry? All girls loved poetry, right?
“Oh Jaylee,” he said. “Your lips are fluffy and pink. In love with you, I am, I think. No, not think, I know! Your skin is white like fresh–”
Jaylee spent the time during his poetics adding water from the reservoir to a blue-green cordial in a vial she pulled from her pants pocket. Placing her finger against the crystal of the vial, a lavender whorl slipped from her fingertip and swirled through the liquid. Before he could finish his poem, she splashed the mix in his face.
“–Snow,” he said, the word falling flat.
Lancer frowned. He wasn’t so upset at her splashing a potion in his face, oh no. But was he really just reciting a poem? To Jaylee of all people? What the heck, had he seriously sat on the bank of the reservoir and let her rest her head on his shoulder?
And he’d contemplated kissing her. Not just contemplated, but had wanted to with the utmost urgency. Weird.
“I really liked your poem?” Jaylee said, hopeful. “Do you want to sit together again?”
“What just happened?” he asked.
“Bravo!” a voice boomed from behind. “I do say, that’s a wonderful trick. The girl countered it so simply, though. You’ll fix that, won’t you?”
Lancer spun around, looking for the voice’s source. A lithe man in a fancy suit, handkerchief in his coat pocket, white gloves on his hands, clapped. Next to him stood a younger lady in an antiquated patterned dress with a shawl draped across her shoulders that flowed to her knees.
“An unforeseen circumstance,” the lady said. “Pheromone permutation isn’t common knowledge, though she seems adept. I assure you the final result’s effects won’t be abolished as easily. It worked on you, didn’t it?”
“Jaylee?” Lancer said.
She joined him, standing by his side. Her hand sought his, but not out of any romantic ideality. “Lancer, we need to get out of here.”