Crimhildianas of the Niedlan house always hated Record Days. Record Days were days spent inside and behind a desk, reading through the journals written by the dead in order to cleanse themselves of sins. But Crimhildianas couldn't stand that part of her usually fantastic job. She was practically raised outside and under the sky, fighting monsters and darker mejik users before she could even spell her own name. Admittedly, it was a name quite difficult to spell, but all her family's names were of the sort. They were created to intimidate enemies, even though the sharp, bloody spears and the multitude of scars adorning their showing skin usually accomplished that goal. Her house, the Niedlans, were a group of nomadic mercenaries and hunters. She was one of their only women warriors, at least until the day she was captured by her enemies, decapitated, and then disemboweled in a ceremony for their gods.
Crim, as she was called only by her most trusted people, shifted against the hard chair. She felt like a part of her was missing without her favorite spear, Maar, strapped to her back. The girl felt weaker and even a bit scared without the support of something more deadly than her sharpened teeth. It also gave her an almost light headed sort of feeling, as her long, platinum blonde hair usually got tangled with her assorted pieces of weaponry.
Still, Record Days were definitely Crim's least favorite days of the month. She was a Valadian, employed under her gods and goddesses to assist the dead. She would collect the souls that were roaming, cleanse people's sins, and since she was an elite, help train new Valadians. When she died, she was assigned to become a Valadian for numerous reasons, but the most significant ones being that she had died a horrific, bloody death, she had killed and sinned too many times in her life, and she refused to go to Heilrede, the afterlife.
She was immediately put into a sector that took care of the most dangerous of the killed. Crim was placed as a sister in sector nine, and was instructed by her sector's guardian goddess, Lore, to bond her mejik gift with the girls already place in the sector. She was the third to arrive after her bonded mother, Geilm, and one of her sisters, Athensia. Crim's other sisters, Yulea, Alissi, Nilan, and Tyro were skipping on Record Day. She remembered that Alissi was finishing a long mission, and Yulea had gone to drag her back. They were supposed to be due that day. Tyro and Nilan were probably fighting again somewhere, and probably involving some poor mortals.
With a sigh, Crimhildianas picked up the final record journal on her desk. The other ones she had been assigned to were mostly incomplete, though. She was just bored of their stories. Geilm and Athensia had already finished long ago, but Crim could not help but to procrastinate. She snuck a final look outside, only to realize that their artificial sun, created to make their sector and afterlife more comfortable, was setting.
"Ugh, I want to go home..." Crimhildianas complained obnoxiously.
Geilm frowned as she bent to pick up half-eaten apple that was about two feet from Crim's desk. "If you were more organized, you could have finished already." Even though she was the oldest and held the mother position, Geilm only looked fifteen. Standing at her full height again, she tossed the apple in Athensia's direction.
"Eep!" Athensia squeaked, blocking her head. After hearing the apple hit the floor, she blushed heavily and took a peek at the offending object. "S-Sorry..." She lowered her hands and kicked the apple out of the door leading to other sector work rooms.
"No, it was my fault." Geilm said, disappointed that she wasn't able to get Athensia to use her secret gift. She did admit it was immature, but even after forty four years, no one in the sector knew what kind of gift Athensia possessed. Even so, Geilm still felt pretty badly. And she was supposed to be a good influence on Crimhildianas, Nilan, and Yulea.
Crim stretched her arms back, contented with the feeling. "Don't trigger an attack, Mom." She spoke through her yawn.
Geilm gave a half-hearted glare before turning and nodding at Athensia. The girl blinked in confusion for a moment, before her eyes widened in an almost amused realization. Both girls remained quiet as they approached the drowsy Valadian. Sighing deeply, Crim almost didn't notice Geilm and Athensia move behind her hard, wooden chair.
With a small, uncharacteristic giggle, Athensia tried to tackle the warrior girl from her right while Geilm took the left. Crim's eyes grew in horror, before shaking her way from their grasp. Whenever Crim fell asleep or at least got drowsy and ignored her work on Record Days, any of the girls were allowed to tickle and humiliate her.
With another nod, Geilm called Athensia off. "She's awake."
Crim and Geilm were noticeably pleased that nobody had to resort to tickling. But to their surprise, the normally extremely timid and reserved Athensia looked a bit disappointed. Geilm gave a pleased smile, glad that the deeply tan girl was finally trusting her and Crim.
"I guess I should start." Crim pouted, interrupting the momentary silence. Athensia gave a comforting smile.
Upon noticing the journal Crim was referring to, Geilm raised an eyebrow at the thick black book that was placed back on the desk. "Well, somebody certainly had much to say." Athensia nodded her head in silent agreement. "And a black journal, too. Whomever it is must have had a dark gift."
Crim groaned audibly, her almost content mood slipping away, and snuck another glance out of the window adjacent to her. She really hated reading the stories written by people with dark mejik gifts. Her own gift gave her the ability to mess with heat, whether it was to condense it or to take it away. That gift was elemental, and was usually preferred over the dark gifts. Darker gifts usually appeared to people with an overload of angst, what with their need to serve their evil master or seek revenge. All the girl wanted to do was either return to her chambers or go outside and practice her weapons. A day sitting by a desk built up so much tension in her normally well-used muscles.
Geilm noticed her straining attention, and went to admonish her with a motherly tone. "You need to finish your work, Crim. I trust you can easily handle one more record." The Niedlan pouted in a childish fashion, and her guardian smacked her on the head lightly."The sooner you read through this and cleanse the writer, the sooner you can practice outside with your spear."
"But it's so long!" She complained, rubbing her head where she was hit. Crim lowered her forehead to the cool, deep brown desk, feeling constrained in the almost empty and colorless room. All it held were enough chairs for the seven of them, and three wooden desks. However, due to Crim's mere presence, the room was littered with trash and unfinished records that Athensia was then scrambling to pick up. More trash quickly found its way outside, like the apple.
The warrior girl didn't understand how Athensia could possibly spend so much time in a place like this. She was usually the only Valadian to stay at their sector while her sisters worked in the field. Their sector was such a dull and lonely place and the only company available, for the most part, were the tales of the dead. Then again, the golden eyed girl was prone to anxiety attacks at random points in the day. Boring places like these probably made her feel safer, somehow.
Blue eyes peaked out at pupil-less white ones through pale hands. "I can go after this one?" Crim pleaded with the older Valadians, putting on her best innocent look, which looked quite offsetting with all her scars.
"You can go outside after this one." Geilm reaffirmed before moving to grab a (stiff, lifeless) chair and sitting down next to her charge. Athensia followed her movement, taking her favored chair that was obviously used often. "Who does it belong to?" Geilm asked with interest before untangling a piece of long, sea blue hair from her wide framed glasses.
"Drian of Eindeim." The tall, blond Valadian replied with a growing smirk on her face. She had heard enough about him from the sister in charge of collecting his missing soul and gift.
"A-Alissi's t-target?" Athensia stuttered out in a weak, questioning voice. She tugged nervously on her silver and blue necklace.
Crim nodded in affirmation. "So he finally moved on."
Geilm pushed her glasses back up her nose. "Don't be rude. He was alive, kind of..." The Niedlan snorted loudly. "But, I suppose, he has finally 'moved on.'" She paused for a moment. "That means Alissi should be back anytime soon."
"She'll be a wreck, though." Crim frowned, leaning her head on her hand.
Athensia tugged at her long braid. "B-But you m-m-missed her." Crim shot her an exasperated, if not slightly embarrassed look. It was no secret that Alissi and Crimhildianas worked well together. Crim's brash movements and intense skill complimented Alissi's careful movements and understanding.
"Only a little."
Geilm rolled her eyes. "We all know you did. It's no secret, love." Crim flinched slightly. "And it's not a weakness, either."
"Fine, fine, not a weakness." The warrior girl decided to switch her attention to one of the drastically smaller, grey journals on her desk. From the color, she could tell it came from someone without a gift. Whomever it was probably had a pretty normal life, but the fact that they needed a journal for cleansing said something was wrong.
"Mm, Crim, actually doing her work?" Geilm asked rhetorically, a smirk gracing her lithe features. She crossed her arms, and leaned back a bit. Athensia gave a sweet natured smile to her sister.
"Haha." Crim cracked the journal open, switched her gaze back from Athensia to the book and peered at the first page. "Oh, Lore. It's a rambler." She closed the book again, for the third time that day. She never really began reading, anyway.
"W-Want me t-t-to read for y-you?" Athensia asked, biting the inside of her cheek. She was a bit nervous at the possibility of reject, though it would be beneficial to her.
"Crim can so it on her own." Geilm interjected as said Valadian opened her mouth to answer. "Besides, she has yet to d-"
The sound of a door being slammed open interrupted her sentence. In marched Yulea, who was carrying an extremely distraught Alissi. It looked ridiculous, as the former was the youngest of the sector, only fourteen when she died, while Alissi was the eldest of the sector at twenty-seven. Yulea was also the smallest of them all, and Alissi towered over all the girls except Crimhildianas.
"We're back!" Yulea chirped with a large smile, momentarily forgetting that minutes ago she had forcefully dragged her superior back to their sector. They stood awkwardly in the doorway for a few seconds as the three other girls took in the scene.
"S-Sisters." Alissi stuttered out in greeting. She hiccuped before bursting into tears again.
"You sound like Athensia!" Yulea commented with a giggle. Said girl grew a slightly indignant pout and bit the inside of her cheek again. She noticed the gum was starting to bleed slightly, so she stopped abruptly.
"What's her issue?" Crim asked in a blunt manner, interrupting the giggle. Geilm lightly smacked the top of her head again, eliciting a baudy "Hey!" in protest.
"She got too attached to her assignment!" Yulea smiled widely, seemingly missing the heavy atmosphere and topic. Her black, worried eyes, however, completely gave her facade away.
"Poor thing." Geilm whispered before rising gracefully to take Alissi from the smaller girl. After leading Alissi to her previously occupied chair, she used her gift of water to take the tears from her charge's eyes. The seemingly older girl immediately latched onto her Valadian mother's support and began crying again. "There, there." Geilm attempted to calm the actually younger girl. After about ten minutes of Alissi's hysterical sobbing, Crimhildianas had enough.
The Niedlan warrior had no tolerance for acts of weakness, especially in family she had bonded with, though it was by using the aid of mejik. All the girls, except their sister Tyro, had grown too close to an assignment at least once, including herself. Then again, Tyro wasn't exactly human, so it made some sense. "Get on with it!" Crimhildianas yelled, jumping up from her seat, but the glare from Geilm quickly set her back down with her eyes lowered as if she was a child that had just been scolded for eating too much candy.
"If you want to leave until your other sisters return, the door is open." Geilm said in a cool voice. Yulea glared briefly at Crim, before putting her all-innocent mask back on when Athensia gave a curious, passing glance. "And we all know it will take time."
"No, C-Crim's right." Alissi finally let out. Crim was slowly starting to growl under her breath in annoyance, not listening. "I need t-to calm d-down."
"You still sound like Athensia..." Yulea pointed out again quietly, while trying to keep a joking smile. Like Crim, she came from a noble and militaristic family. The Ziangs, as they were called, had fierce tempers backed by intense physical skill. If she had cried during her mortal life, her own mother would have beaten her. Unlike Crim, though, she envied and felt empathy for those that could cry and feel in such an outward fashion.
"Sorry." Alissi took a deep breath, and wiped her eyes one last time. Athensia, who was then holding the dead man's journal, held up the cover so it would be visible.
"Look, Liss, it's Drian's journal. Your assignment." Alissi stiffened at Drian being called an assignment. Geilm began to stroke her golden hair in a soothing manner. "You calm down now, and once Tyro and Nilan get back we'll read it and cleanse his sins, okay?"
Alissi nodded, and put a small smile on her face. "Yes." Her golden skin was starting to regain its color, and her chocolate brown eyes were no longer blood shot. "And thank you, Mom." The girl rolled her shoulders before daintily raising a hand in a small salute, turning to face her sisters. "Alissi of Salistein, reporting to Elite Valadian Sector 9 for work on Record Day."
"That's right, Record Day." She drummed her fingers on the desk. "And Crim still hasn't finished her work." Geilm switched her eyes to Yulea. "You can help her later, sweet."
Yulea and Crim groaned at the same time. They were hoping Geilm would have forgotten official Record Day and they could have gone home. Athensia handed their mother Drian's journal, and quickly went to tug on her black braid to relieve her growing anxiety.
Alissi allowed herself to giggle, feeling a bit better. "Don't worry, Athensia and I will help too. Won't we?"
"O-Of course." The normally silent girl offered a tired, nervous smile. She did, in all honesty, want to help her precious sisters, though. "B-But we sh-should s-start, r-right?" Athensia confirmed nervously.
With a thoughtful hum in response, Geilm held the book in one hand while she pushed her glasses up her nose again. After fixing herself, she rebalanced the heavy book in both her hands. It would certainly take a few days to read, and they definitely needed the final members of their sector if they were going to efficiently cleanse the writer. He might even have the makings to be an Maradian, the male version of a Valadian.
"Alright." Geilm said, breaking the silence. "Who wants to fetch those two?" Crim pointedly shot up from her seat. Anything to get out of the sector, even if only for a little while.
"I will!" She yelled, hand raised straight into the air.
Geilm smiled, and leaned partially on the desk. "Thank you, Crim." She pushed her glasses back up her nose before turning to Alissi. "And Liss, why don't you join her? Something to take your mind off your assignment would do you some good, seeing as we'll all be focused on him once you return."
"Okay, Mom." Alissi put on a smile. "But where are they?"
The blunette wordlessly handed the journal to Yulea. Then, reaching into her long, brown robes, she pulled out a large tome. Being a mother of a sector, it was required to have two gifts, and it was rare enough to have one without a tribe gift. Geilm's second gift was an extremely rare gift, a blood gift. Her blood, once spilled, could tell any truths, even ones Geilm did not know.
"Cut my finger, please?" She asked Crim. The girl slid a dagger out from the sleeve of her white furs and cut her bonded mother's finger. Athensia covered her nose and looked away from the blood.
She hummed an old, forgotten prayer to her guardian, Lore. Geilm placed her finger on an empty, unstained page of the book. "Where are Nilan of the Ire Hills and Tyro of Laksi?" She asked, watching as the drop of her blood formed deep red words. "They are in the village of Janecs of the northern hills." Geilm read out loud before closing her book and slipping it back in her robe. Yulea reached into her orange pouch and took out a small bandage. She wrapped it around Geilm's finger with care.
"Well, you saw the blood prophecy." Geilm said once Yulea was content.
"Yes, Mother." The two girls rose to their full heights and saluted, with their palms facing out.
"Permission granted for an adventure!"
Crim and Alissi nodded. "Let's go?" Crim asked, already making her way to the door and ready for the journey. "But we need to stop at my room first. I need Maar."
The older girl shook her head. "Of course." She turned to Geilm, Yulea, and Athensia, who was looking at the glowing blue jewel hanging from her necklace chain. "We'll be back with those trouble makers." Crim nodded in afirmation.
Alissi and Crim moved to the door that connected their sector to the other ones. Just as they were about to leave, a voice stopped them.
"W-Wait, please!" Athensia called out. Crim and Alissi stopped at the door, and turned to look at the reserved Valadian.
"Yes?" The more even tempered of the two asked, with a pleasant smile.
Athensia looked at her shimmering blue necklace one more time, and back to Alissi, then Crim. "I n-need to c-come with y-y-you." She nearly whispered, looking back down.
Geilm exchanged a look with Crim, who nodded in understanding. Though they were unsure of Athensia's gift, they were sure that if she ever said something pertaining to the mission, it was wise to listen.
Yulea, however, put on a well-crafted frown. "But you were going to help me with the records!" She complained audibly, crossing her arms.
"Don't worry, you have me." Geilm reminded her, placing a hand on the Ziang girl's shoulder. Her cool touch made the girl shiver.
Crim tapped her boot on the floor impatiently. "Can we go now? I want Maar." Alissi crossed her arms, her empathy gift picking up on Crim's anxiety. "Please?"
"But of course! You even asked!" The water-gifted girl spoke up. Athensia gave a small giggle of amusement at the slight irony in the statement. "Now, off you three go." She pushed Crimhildianas, Athensia, and Alissi out of the door that connected their sector to the Valadian's realm. "Have fun, and bring Tyro and Nilan home in one piece."
"Sure! And good-bye!" Alissi called, running out after the already disappearing Niedlan.
"W-We'll be b-b-back." Athensia promised, and Geilm felt a weight life from her chest. Clutching her necklace, Athensia turned her back and closed the door.