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Avatar: The Last Airbender RPG

420 years after the fall of Ozai, decades of tranquility have brought about an era where peace is no longer only a mere philosophical abstraction. However beyond the grasp of the Four Nations, a long lost legacy resurfaces.
 
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 Summer's Arrival (Closed)

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Deej
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PostSubject: Summer's Arrival (Closed)   Tue Mar 27, 2018 10:03 pm

((OOC: Just some history of August and his happenings a year or two prior to the current world state. This is my way of flushing him out as a character/individual. Thanks for reading!!))
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It was mid summer when August arrived in the Empire of the Sun. Bright sun burned hot in the cloudless sky. The capital city was just as busy as he had heard in the Northern Water Tribe. His family name, although not carrying the weight of a noble household, was known for its trading fleet, Cullen's Export. It had earned his family a fair wealth in the Earth Kingdom, enough so that they could spread across the world, spreading the company. His father made his way to the Northern Water Tribe to establish a powerful hold there. Well, as powerful as a trading company could get.

August had a small backpack carrying a few research supplies, several journals; some filled completely, others have a few notes scattered in between blank pages. Nice parchment stored neatly for future drawings of aquatic specimens. Ink, a few pens and pencils, food, water, and a change of clothes were also stored in the tumorous bag. A curved satchel sat upon his hip, filled with water for bending. He was ready to explore an area not choked with desert sand, or carpeted in thick ice or snow. Sandy beaches and tropical forests waited for him in the future. This was a future he felt he could live happily with.

Market stalls bustled with activity, vendors shouting and shoppers weaving their way through a maze of other people hunting for some obscure bargain. August thought it was silly for these people to be spending their time looking for things they didn’t need. Some glass object rattled in his pack.

He spent that day wandering around the city, truly enamored with the potential for a bright future, free to do what he wants. An orange and gold sun drowning in the horizon. Gentle clouds basked in the warm evening air. August scouted out a nice bar to get a drink in.

The bar, nestled between some absurd shop selling lacey dresses and other garments, and a store selling a wide variety of produce, overlooked the harbor. The cool interior opened to reveal a modern aesthetic, abstract art hung on the dull orange walls. Music hummed through the inane babble of bar goers. This was nice.

After ordering a fancy whiskey, one of the few alcoholic beverages he drank, August had the option to go to the outdoor on the roof. He obviously went up there. Several people were also up there, voices quite and soft. A small outdoor couch sat, faced towards the expanse beyond the harbor. August carefully sat, crossed a leg over the other, and took a small swig of his whiskey. He closed his eyes for a moment, taking in the humid heat, a change to arid desert and dry cold of the north.

The view was better than the whiskey. The bluish purple aura melting in with the summery oranges and yellow cast gallantly from the sun's last hoorah below the ocean waves was a perfect ending to August's first day in the city.

He felt a person sit next to him. He opened his eyes. A young woman in a flashy blue cocktail dress, sharp eyeliner, absurd light blue blush and eyeshadow. Her hair was done in a short curly bob. Legs crossed and a fruity looking drink rested in her hands. August sensed a flirty vibe to her, it made him uncomfortable. She broke the quiet he had been enjoying.

"Quite the foreigner, you are," she poked his shoulder with her index finger, the nails painted acrylic that didn’t match the gaudy blue she wore. "A nice change in these parts if you ask me, too many elite try to talk a big game and fail," she shifted her body to fully face August.

"Isn't that tragic," August spoke gravely. He took another drink from the glass.

"Very," the scent of some vodka riddled infusion rolled off of her breath. It burrowed uncomfortably into August's nostrils, flaring now from the fume. He let out a small cough, trying to be as polite as possible. "Why don’t we go downstairs and get a couple of drinks?"

"That’s awfully kind of you, but I'm good here."

"Alright big guy. Say, what brings you here?" The small talk was more comfortable than the invitations to 'go inside'.

"Just wandering for the most part. What about you?" He sipped the whiskey again.

"Family business darling, real exciting stuff. Gets the blood pumping." She shifted in her seat, "You know what else gets the blood pumping?"

"Exercise," August replied hastily. He got up and began to head inside. The woman also got up, a little less graceful than when she first sat down.

"Scared to handle a woman, sugar?" she spoke with a sass that only someone as flustered as her could make.

"Nah, but I can handle my men better than you apparently." He said with a wink. She stood a little confused as August descended down the stairs to go back in.

Uncharacteristically, he got another drink.

The night moved on, silver light from the moon poured into the bar where the low lighting failed to fill. August sat at a booth with several strangers whom he had met only a half hour earlier. The persistent woman from earlier eventually made her way inside and rapidly left the bar.

He learned a few things about the city, about the people, but more importantly, places where he could foster his now budding research. Two middle aged businesswomen spoke of their recent vacations and whereabouts. They mentioned one place in particular that caught August's attention.

He reached into his pack that now sat between his feet on the ground. Retrieving a journal and a pencil. He quickly opened it to an empty page and jotted down in an ornate hand:

"Kazuno."


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Waves ripped against the steel hull of the passenger ship heading for the islands east of the mainland. The gentle bob of the ship was enough for August to feel queasy. Only a few hours and he would be where he wanted to be. A few hours of hell.

Morning sun lit up the dazzling blue and green of the ocean, fish near the boat breached momentarily, a larger fish following suit. August wanted off the ship.

There was an elderly couple sitting in the small dinette on the upper deck. They sat cuddled together and happy as ever. They noticed August's glances towards them and invited him over to sit. He took a seat across from them at the large dining table taking up the space.

"Good morning young man, on your way to Kiyosu? Lovely little village," the old lady spoke with an eloquence unfamiliar to August.

"Sounds lovely, but, I'm going to Kazuno for some time," August looked out of one of the small windows lining the cabin. The horizon went up and down steadily. He looked away.

"Oh! Little ol' Kazuno, such a dangerous place to live if you ask me," the old man spoke, clearing his throat. "One strong storm and there goes half of the town not close the shore!" He gesticulated violently. The old woman shook her head, dismissing him.

"Don’t worry none, dear, this bag of bones has a vendetta against the town. Not even I know why." She looked at the man in the eyes, trying to solve some complex crime with no evidence.

"Bah!" He grunted, waving a hand in front of his face.

"Well young lad, you'll always find something in Kazuno, even if it's not what you're looking for," she smiled, she put her free hand on the old man's.  

"Ahh, I see." August said, raising his eyebrows. He felt a slight burn of second hand embarrassment beneath his cheeks. "I have no idea what awaits me be, but I hope it's something good."

An hour passed, the ship stopped at a small port, letting passengers bound for Kiyosu off. The elderly couple waved a hearty goodbye to August, he thanked them for the pleasant conversation. After a sizeable chunk of passengers left at this stop. A strange melancholy of emptiness fell over the remaining passengers. Kazuno was the next stop.

In 15 minutes, the iconic scene of houseboats, piers, and boat-plagued waters welcomed the incoming ship.

August got up, grabbed his trusty backpack, and got off of the giant metal ship that seemed to dwarf the smaller wooden fishing boats that were lined on smaller piers in Kazuno. Without hesitation, he headed for what appeared to be the market of the town. The wooden boardwalk held up passing groups of perusing customers, market stalls almost as impressive as those in Vermillion City. One stall in particular piqued August's interest. Bright colored reef fish lined a wooden box, a rough bed of ice keeping the fish as fresh as possible in the now sweltering midday sun.

A young man, smiling, carrying a box similar to the one on display, approached the stall. His confidence or bravado shined brighter than the sun. August couldn’t help but smile a little as If the young man was approaching him.

The vendor smiled as the young man approached, holding out a small purse which was likely a payment for more fish. August saw a chance for some quality research to be done. The man walked away from where August was standing. He disappeared behind a curtain of shoppers.

"Hey! No, wait!" August shouted, waving his hands, desperate for the man to see him. August pushed past several disgruntled people who looked as though he had just offended an ancestor they had recently lost.

Once he cleared the marketplace, there was nobody in front of him. Small piers linking together houseboats were barren of the man August was looking for.

A few people walked casually in the 'streets' of Kazuno. Aimless, August searched around for a place to stay for the time being. He found what he assumed to be an inn. The wide, shack-like structure stood uneasily on the wooden pier. He went inside, checked in for an unspecified amount of time, and made his way to his room. A small twin sized bed occupied a good portion of the space. An old table sat pushed against the wall underneath a slatted window, a wooden hatch rested above it. It was accompanied by an equal archaic looking chair. He put his bag and bending canteen on the table and laid face down on the bed. He was tired from the discomfort brought onto him by the boat ride here. Tomorrow was a new day, he could take his time to find a good place to conduct some research, or find that man that sold the vendor those unique looking fish. His heart beat a little harder for a second


Rain danced on the roof and walls of the inn. A gentle mumble of thunder in the distance woke August from an otherwise peaceful sleep. He took his belongings from the table, ready to get busy, despite the storm outside.

August stepped outside, holding his hand above his head, the water seemed to hit an invisible wall, shielding August and his backpack. As he expected, the 'streets' were sparsely populated. Good.

He wandered near the outermost edge of the town. The sea and horizon danced a violent waltz, dark grey storm clouds clashing with the aggressive teeth of the blue grey ocean. In face of this, August felt at peace.

"Calm seas can get old, storms are fun." a smooth and sultry said calmly, a contrast to the harsh sounds of rain against wooden planks. August looked over his shoulder to see who exactly he was talking too. The same young man from the day prior now stood, leaning against the wall a house beneath an awning, his face showing a hint of concern. "Everything all good?"

"Wha- Um, yeah." August felt a tad flustered. The hand he held up to bend the falling rain suddenly felt heavier than before. "Yeah, just, uh, going for a walk," he lied.

The man let out a small chuckle. He folded his arms and shook his head. "Ah! Of course, with such lovely weather," he squinted his eyes a little. "You sound like you come from the Northern Water Tribe, Dezadeash I think, but have the looks of an Earth Kingdom native, north from the Si Wong Desert. Your family gets around, yeah?"

"Precisely. How did you figure all of that out?" August could feel the blush on his cheeks boil beneath his skin.

"Trading with many people from all over for years gives you that edge," he shrugged. "Aedan, nice to meet you," he extended his hand outward, the rain hitting his fingertips. August drew near, shaking his hand.

"August Cullen."

"Wait a bit. Like Cullen's Export, shipping and trading?"

"Correct. I'm surprised you got that connection."

"We used to have a C.E. ship drop off lumber after a particularly bad storm season," Aedan trailed off a bit towards the end of the statement. "But now we have a member of the family gracing our presence!" he gestured towards August, worsening the already bright red blush infecting his face.

August rubbed the back of his head timidly. Up close, Aedan is slightly taller, and much more attractive than what August wished for. The only word echoing in August's mind was, "FUCK!" although even he was confused as to the context of the expletive. He chuckled to try and cover up the clear embarrassment in his body language.

"So are you here on family business? Or?" Aedan questioned, trying to keep the conversation going.

"No actually, I left the business. It was too boring for me. I had a world to discover and could sit still any longer." August looked out to sea once more. Lightning arced its way through the dark clouds that floated like mountains in the sky. Aedan let out a small sigh. The humid sea air sat heavily between the two.

Aedan cleared his throat, "Well I don’t think the rain will be over for some time, come inside why don’t ya." he opened the door to the house and went inside. The invitation was more of a demand than an actual offer. August complied.




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_________________
The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can have is an instrument of peace.

Hey guess what? Let me tell ya this, being a nice and kind person costs literally nothing so why don't you give it a shot.


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Last edited by Deej on Thu Mar 29, 2018 7:42 am; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: Summer's Arrival (Closed)   Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:30 pm

The quaint interior was decorated mainly with small plants, a few of which had beautifully colored flowers adorned upon them. Wooden paneling gave the home a cabin aesthetic August could appreciate. Aedan gestured towards a dining table, three wooden stools placed around it. August took a seat.

"Tea, water, rum?" Aedan asked, messing with something in a bag on the countertop lining a corner of the house.

"Water would be perfect." August said with a tone even he didn’t recognize. A moment later, Aedan came to the table holding two wooden cups, only to catch his foot on the rug, tripping forward. The cups soared through the air, Aedan still recovering from almost falling over. Instinctively, August stopped the liquids from hitting the floor while the wooden cups bounced on the ground, adding to the cacophony of thunder outside. August stood up, water and rum floated in the air. Aedan, a little panicked, picked up the cups, and set them on the table, August guided the water and rum into the two cups. "Close call," August said a little sarcastically.

"No kidding, that rum isn't cheap." Aedan said, taking a gulp from the cup.

"I bet it isn't, but the day is too young to be drinking don’t you think?" August felt a little concerned. His dad used to drink early in the morning, drunk for the day, angry or sleeping by evening. His fear of drinking too much creeped back into his bloodstream, a primal fight or flight reflex buzzed in his arteries.

"I've been up long enough to be a long day. Geez you look ill, are you sure you're okay?" Aedan mirrored August's concern.

"I'm fine, I promise."

"Right, right." Aedan took another gulp. He grimaced as he swallowed, the burn probably hurt for a few seconds before giving way to a pleasant buzz. August stared out of a window that showed the stormy horizon outside of the small sea-weathered house. The silence could hurt even the most stoic of pirates and humble the mightiest of kings. Thunder hummed again, Aedan spoke again. "What's up with the bag?" He shot a glance at August's backpack which leaned against the foot of the table. An odd question but it was good enough for August.

"Research materials, journals, writing utensils, miscellaneous garbage." August looked down at the sad looking bag. Its leather straps worn and tired from years of use, the black cloth scarred with patches. Nostalgia crept its venomous way into August's mind, a chill as cold as the winter air of the Northern Water Tribe latched its teeth into his skin.

"Research? You're a scientist?" Aedan was bewildered. "Your family owns quite the successful business, yet here you are in Kazuno doing some fuckin' 'research'." he flailed his arms up, laughing all the same. He kept laughing until he started to cough.

August laughed as well, the pure shock in the man's voice alone was humorous, but the theatrics really made August giddy. "Oh my, don’t hurt yourself." August shook his head, "Yeah, scientist I guess. Marine biology to be specific."

Aedan wiped a tear away, "No shit? That’s pretty cool if you ask me,"

"Thank you," August rubbed the back of his head. "The family business got boring, I knew the world was out there and I needed to experience it."

Aedan hunched over on the stool, trying to see the reason why anyone would leave a such a profitable business. He struggled to get his head around the idea of being a part of a successful trading empire while his own fishing fleet made in just enough to get by.

They kept talking. For hours, reminiscing on a love for the sea, fish, and weird knickknacks that only a crone could find adorable. They talked of troubled pasts. Expectations. Everything really. They clicked like best friends that have always known each other. The morning trudged on to late afternoon, August had felt like he overstayed his welcome.

He got up to leave when the conversation seemed to hit a lull. Aedan, saddened, said bye to his newfound friend.

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Heavy, grey clouds hung angry in the deep sky, warm rain continued to descend on the world below. Aedan's house felt a little bit more alive now than it had in recent memory. Many days he would come home late from organizing the day's catch and barely have the energy to eat a satisfactory dinner. Many old dowagers that vacationed in Kazuno for its surrounding beaches seemed endlessly drawn to Aedan. They mentioned plenty his looks but more importantly his lack of a wife and potential for a thriving business. Each time, he would give a blunt 'no' and carry on. He had no time for someone else. Friends were few and far between, any relationship felt like it was dying and frail from the start.

Insecurities plagued an already wounded mind.

That day, however, changed something in Aedan. A spark for potential. For an honest connection. It felt good.

August was a breath of fresh air, not only for Aedan, but for the entirety of the town. With Aedan's support from his fishing vessel, August had a chance to look at the fish being fed to Kazuno. He was able to find the source for the mysterious and awful, parasitic, mudworms that impeded the human immune system, and successfully found a way to prevent further issues.

He gained the towns adoration during his stay. August was proud of his work; it lit a fire under him. Aedan was proud of him too. This man came from seemingly nowhere that had a rich family and was doing nothing short of a miracle. With fish safer to eat, Aedan saw an increase in sales, an improved boat that could take along a bigger crew, and a more stable future.

All thanks to August and his research.  

After three months of being in Kazuno, moving into Aedan's house, and turning an abandoned shack into his personal lab, August cemented himself as a marine biologist. He had a bright future in store for him.

Sooner rather than later, the grapevine passed along news of a talented individual that helped cure a town of an aquatic parasite that caused extreme sickness. "Augustine Elich Cullen" trended the top of a well read scientific journal based in Ba Sing Se.

As quick as the word got out, several offers came August's way. Invitations to discuss grand endeavors, proposals for future research and even a request to meet with some noble house in the Earth Nation to arrange a marriage. All wonderful things of course, but nothing really hit home.

Those months he spent with Aedan were some of the greatest he's ever had. Sure the research was incredible and the success outstanding but to August, nothing really seemed to matter if Aedan wasn’t there to help him out.

August has had his fair share of friends, smiling faces of those he trusted, memories gilded in a honey sweeter than cane sugar. Good friends, even. Best friends? No. No face came to mind. Until now.

Slight wrinkles, rough skin dried by sea air, a beard that covered a strong jaw, kind eyes as golden as the purest heart.

That was the face August associated with 'best friend'.

But he felt more. A desire, a force that seemed to control his thoughts. It was new to August. All he felt were melting magnets.


It was August's last day in Kazuno, the next morning, a ship would take him away. He found a quiet place, Kyme, to carry on his research and focus on what he needed to without the distraction of those around him. Without the distraction of a certain someone.

'It's just a distraction, right?'

He spent the majority of the day packing up his equipment and saying his goodbyes to those who had helped him during those three months. The bittersweet sting of facing the future was nothing compared to the hurt he felt when he saw Aedan sitting alone on the edge of the pier. Most evenings, Aedan would invite August to come sit on the edge and bask in the setting sun. Rarely did those moments have strong conversations, silence brought them closer than any words could have. Without a second thought, he took a seat next to Aedan. His hands were placed on the warm wooden pier, his feet just barely touching the surface of crystal clear water. August took up the same position except he kept his hands neatly folded in his lap.

"So this is it, huh?" Aedan mumbled. His voice sounded rougher than usual. "No more August." Guilt ate away at August's heart. "I am proud of you, you know that? You helped not just me, but th' whole damn town!" Aedan turned his head to look at August.

"I couldn’t have done this without you either," August turned to meet Aedan's gaze. "Thank you." The smallest of smiles crept along Aedan's face.

He leaned in. Actually, they both leaned in.

Melting magnets were all August felt then. A rough hand seemed to cup his face, tender and sweet.

That night, August didn’t really remember too much between the heavy breaths and gripping hands.

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_________________
The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can have is an instrument of peace.

Hey guess what? Let me tell ya this, being a nice and kind person costs literally nothing so why don't you give it a shot.


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PostSubject: Re: Summer's Arrival (Closed)   Sat Apr 14, 2018 11:08 am

((OOC: Sorry for any abhorrent spelling or grammar, my bad I guess. Two new characters are introduced in this installment, they will have their own little back story/character apps. Don't worry, they'll be far less dramatic than these two I promise. Speaking of, it's time to get emotionally sappy, corny, and cheesy. Who asked for a gross Rom-Com minus the comedy? Just me? lol oops alright.))

---

Heat seeped between the wood paneling, adding to the already warm body of Aedan against August.

Tropical birds squawked noisily outside, the shrill cries dragging August's consciousness back into his mind. He looked to his left to see Aedan still sleeping soundly, even through the obnoxiously loud bird wailing outside. 

August sat up slowly, trying his hardest not to wake the sleeping body. He gently placed his feet on the wooden floor, making sure not to make the boards squeak under his weight. The boards were cool, unlike the stuffy air.

August made his way outside. He looked at the edge of the pier, a strange nostalgia wracked his heart. Last night was too much, yet not enough. He got what he wanted yet he still needed something. He sat down at the edge, crossed his legs and stared out to sea.

The dawn sun barely illuminated the town through the heavy overcast. Hopefully, the clouds wouldn’t herald a storm.

It was the day August would be leaving the town he grew fond of, as well as the person he grew to be very fond of. A gentle breeze moved the heavy air.

The door to Aedan's house opened and closed with a rattle. August turned to see Aedan walking casually with two cups in each hand. He sat down next to August, plopping his feet into the cool seawater. He handed August one of the cups.

"I know you're not much of a tea person, but try it," Aedan said, staring into his own cup. August hummed in compliance.

"This is really good, actually, what's in it?" August was genuinely surprised by how good the tea was.

"Some pineapple, berries, and just a little bit of jasmine. Truly amazing what dried fruit can do," Aedan smiled to himself.

The two sat in the usual silence that filled these moments. This time the silence felt like a noose around August's neck and he was at his own personal gallows. A few minutes passed before they both got up and made their way to August's old lab space where his luggage was stored.

The ship to the Kyme would arrive in less than an hour. It would be one of the last ships to go from Kazuno to Kyme now that the summer tourist season is coming to an end. Fall was around the corner and although that wouldn't be much in the tropical Empire, it would be for the rest of the world.

---

Clamor of boots against steel mixed with the rush of wind. August sat the last of his numerous bags down in the ship's hold. Aedan was there with him. They walked back up to the deck of the ship. Most of the passengers were below deck in the commons area where comfortable seating allowed people to relax on the three hour ride, very few stayed above.

The overcast sky felt melancholic. The wind seemed to choke now, nothing more than a small cough of a breeze dared interrupt the fragility of the still air. Waves assailed the side of the ship, to no avail they fell defeated back into the sea. Time itself seemed too apprehensive to advance. The conglomerate of human emotion powerful enough to force the world to give up its relentless spinning for just a moment. That was what Aedan and August were, that is what they felt.

No words spoken would be enough to quell the fire that burned for more. It was the actions that would bring peace to the rage of that fire.

August felt Aedan take his hand into his own.

Something about it felt familiar and dismal. Like raindrops hitting a window, like the feeling of night falling a bit earlier each night, leaves falling in earlier autumn, puddles filled with petals from beautiful flowers, or watching frost grow on a pane of glass.

Something about it felt familiar and joyful. Like seeing a friend for the first time in a while, like a picnic on a beautiful day, like making a gift from scratch, reading by a pool in summer, a fresh glass of lemonade after being outside, or a runaway kite that got stuck in a tree.  

The last call for passengers was Aedan's signal that he had to get off the ship.

Feeling his hand let go was something August didn’t expect to hurt as bad as it did.

Physically he was fine, but the same guilt he felt before stabbed pins into every square centimeter of his skin. He called out to Aedan, "Hey, wait up!" August jogged lightly to catch up. The sentence felt a little too familiar.

Aedan stood still, shoulders sunk down and hands tightly clasped together. His eyes harbored tiny oceans, and the trails of the tears, rivers down his cheeks. "Yeah?" Aedan said casually, as if he wasn’t experiencing an emotional turmoil. He smirked a little, trying to his best caliber to mask the pain.

"No, no, no, please," August spoke ever so gently, "Please, please don’t cry," his voice started to break, overcome with an emotion he didn’t expect to feel. He wiped away a tear making its way down Aedan's face, trying his best to not feel the remorse tearing his soul into shreds. His own tears welled in his eyes. He mumbled 'sorry' and 'please' over and over. He considered himself a little lucky that the only other people on the deck were having their own emotional moment.

August pulled Aedan into a hug. The force from each body pulling the other into themselves was strong enough to condense a lump of coal into a diamond.

Neither person wanted to say goodbye, but as fate so humorously has it, they had to.

With a gentle grip on the back of August's head, Aedan pulled him in for one last kiss bye.

---

"Take care of yourself," Aedan began, "I don't want any news saying a local idiot destroyed something, got it?"

"I will," August said with a smirk. The genuine concern was nice to hear after being away from his old friends and family. He sighed and clenched his fists. "Goodbye, Aedan. I'll miss you."

"I will miss you too," Aedan breathed a bit heavier again, he felt the tears pooling once again. "Bye, August." Aedan turned, and made his way off of the ship. He didn’t glance back and August was almost glad he didn’t. He didn’t want Aedan  to see the tears now creeping down his face.

The other two people on the deck finished their emotional goodbyes shortly after Aedan and August's. The ship lurched twice before it actually started moving.

To Kyme.



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Who could have guessed that Kyme would be so lively? Not August. Although it is just a small fishing town off the dazzling Tykrise beach. A fair amount of people pass through the town no matter what time of year to come visit the beautiful beaches and reside on personal estates while servants took care of their homes. The rich brought trade to the town and helped keep the town thriving.

August struggled a bit to introduce a scientific influence to the town but he was accepted there as he was in Kazuno. He also found assistants to help him during his endeavors.

Anna Magnhild and Ella Xiomara were their names. They had been traveling together for some time and were really enjoying their time in Kyme. August allowed them to stay in an unused section of the small laboratory he was granted, they offered any aid and support in return.

---

The first week was the hardest for August. The familiar humidity of Kazuno replaced with a more arid breeze from the sea. No more sitting at the edge of the pier during sunset. No more Aedan.

He immediately wrote a letter to Aedan the third day he was there. It started with how he enjoyed the new potential for discoveries and innovation but devolved into an emotional piece on how much he cared for him.

It wasn't enough but it was something. He cursed himself out for falling for Aedan so foolishly. The moment he first saw Aedan was the moment his life changed, and he knew it too.

Day four marked the day August would officially start conducting research. The day went as he expected, until he needed something heated to a specific temperature. Usually he would rely on having Aedan to make fire hot or cool enough for August to use. The flame on the burner was new to August. All week he had remained stoic, for some reason the flicker of the fire melted the walls he had put up.

Day six was difficult. Anna and Ella found him crying alone holding the letter he had wrote but never sent. It wasn’t something he had wanted them to see. He asked them to leave him in peace but Ella, with abnormal strength, lifted the sobbing man off of the ground and slung him over her shoulder and marched with him outside. From his obscured view he saw Anna give a simple shrug and followed suit.

Ella set him down once they arrived at the small post office.

"Listen, pal, you look a damn fool cryin' in the dark about whatever it is yer cryin' about," Ella pointed to the doors of the office. "I saw an address on that paper there, go on 'n mail it."

"I…" August looked at the wrinkled paper clenched in his hands. "I can't."

Anna reached down with a delicate hand and plucked the paper from his hands. She folded it neatly and went inside without a word. August got up off of the ground clumsily and chased after her. It was too late. When August entered, Anna was already on her way out.

"It is done. Let's go get something to eat, shall we?" She said soothingly, her hand gently placed on August's shoulder. His posture dropped, shoulders drooped and a frown cemented on his face.

The two ladies stood talking to themselves when August reappeared outside of the post office. Anna extended her arms out, she wanted a hug, or she wanted to give August one. Reluctantly, he walked into the hug, his arms were squeezed rather painfully into his sides.

Many restaurants decorated the wooden boardwalk. The trio walked aimlessly forward, in search for a nice to eat. One restaurant had a funny picture of a cat eating a bowl of noodles which apparently was what Ella was basing her selection off of.

They entered the restaurant and were led by a server to a small table. After placing their orders, they continued a casual conversation about some obscure topic that August did not care about. He couldn’t help but think of Aedan and everything they did together. He was ripped from his memories by a pair of snapping fingers.

"Hey, hey, HEY!" Anna's voice filled the room. "Are you doing alright? You look like you're going to cry again." She looked concerned. August felt the familiar hand on his shoulder.

"Yeah, I'm good." He tried his best to sound enthusiastic in his response. Anna raised her eyebrows in suspicion.

"Right. Well whatever was on the letter clearly has to do with…" she gestured vaguely at August, "… this." Ella looked surprised that Anna was bringing up the letter considering he was just sobbing over it only twenty minutes ago.

"Anna, stop it." Ella shook her head. "Listen 'ere August, yer our friend and we want you to know that. We care about you." Ella had a warm look to her dark green eyes. She stood up suddenly. "Auggie, come with me." She turned and exited the restaurant. Anna looked just as confused as August. He followed regardless.

---

"Who has that heart uh yer's hurtin'?" Ella sat down on a small bench and patted the spot next to her. August sat down compliantly.

"Wha- I um…" the bright red of his cheeks made Ella chuckle. "Aedan," August looked down at his feet, avoiding all eye contact with Ella.

"He hurt you bad?  Want me to go an' punch 'em?"

"No! No. I actually probably hurt him the most." August felt that common sting of shame and guilt in his gut once again.

"So what went wrong? If ya don' mind me askin'."

"Circumstance."

"So no bad blood?" Ella sounded a bit confused.

"Yeah, none of that." August wondered if Aedan hated him. He just wanted to be there or here with Aedan.

"You still care for 'em?" Ella felt sorry for her new friend.

"Yeah."

"Ya know me and Anna go back a few years. I don’ know what I'd do without 'er. She was always a good friend and when she said that she felt stronger of me, I had no idea what to do with myself. She had been my entire world. Anna saved me from loneliness, and in turn I saved 'er from that crummy family o' hers. It wasn’t easy at first. The world seemed against us and we had a world to run to.  So we ran." Ella looked up at the clouds hanging in the sky. August's shame and guilt eased off. He felt hope now, hope that he and Aedan will be together soon enough.

"So you've been together through it all?"

"All of it. Thick 'n thin. You 'n Aedan'll be alright, I promise," Ella smiled at August. "We should go on an head back in. Poor Anna is probably worried sick."

The two went back inside.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

_________________
The most valuable possession you can own is an open heart. The most powerful weapon you can have is an instrument of peace.

Hey guess what? Let me tell ya this, being a nice and kind person costs literally nothing so why don't you give it a shot.


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