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“Maybe it's worth a try” she murmured to herself and bit her bottom lip apprehensively while her thumb hovered on the screen of her phone, it was as if the name Arcadia written in a neat font was slowly calling her out. Maybe she’s free… maybe she’s not free. Astraea knew the elder Aurazin was volunteering at Evermore General, so with all the logical explanations considered, she should be busy. She probably should’ve thought twice before accepting the task given to her earlier today instead of thinking she could handle it when she may not have the capacity to hold her own. It’s been a little over two months since she’s worked at the cafe as a part-time waitress. Somehow, they employed her after seeing her work ethic for the past month. She’s been working for dinner shifts mostly since she would visit the tea shop in the mornings to help the old lady who owned it.
Mrs. Evans is a very nice woman around her late eighties who owned the shop and from what she gathered, people often ventured there to buy her tea sachets. Surprisingly, she was still so healthy and it didn’t take the Aurazin long to develop an attachment towards the kind old lady who taught her how to brew tea. Today is one of those silent days, it wasn’t that busy when the clock struck 5 pm. Not that she was complaining, she could get some rest then. It wasn’t until she was greeted by the news that the cafe will be closed at 6, a few hours earlier than usual. Astraea was used to closing up at 10 pm the earliest after cleaning up so it was news to her. Apparently, someone reserved the place to hold an event tomorrow, and it was both good news and bad news for the staff.
Good news, some of the employees would not be needed for tomorrow because it was going to be a private event and they will only pick a few to stay, and those who are selected to work for tomorrow would be paid twice the amount by the hour. Bad news, they will need to have the entire place prepped and done in less than 22 hours. 21 hours now, after she cleaned up and sat by the kitchen, staring at the phone in her hand with a skeptic look. Time was running out and she was told to decorate the cafe and make it ‘presentable’ by 4 pm tomorrow. By presentable, she had a feeling it needed to look close to perfect for a private gathering, judging from the looks her co-workers gave her. The Aurazin was fine with doing anything.
One big problem.
She does not know anything about event planning, not the slightest.It was why she has been scrolling down Google for the past 35 minutes trying to wrap her head around it. She really needs help, she decided, and pressed on the name before pressing her phone against her ear, “Please… please, pick up” she mumbled and when the call was finally connected, she almost cheered loudly. “Arcadia! Hey… it’s me, Astraea. Do you think you could come over to Wanderlust? I need a big favor” she was trying her best to drag it out politely but it was clear from her tone, that time was running out. Leaning against the counter near the cash registry, Astraea started telling her what happened and why she called her. It was almost 8 pm by the time she finished cleaning every table and every surface. She wasn’t sure if they were trying to test her or bully her, because being left alone to decorate the spacious room in less than 20 hours was definitely not how she envisioned things happening. Positive thoughts, Astraea.
She chuckled under her breath giving a slightly guilty expression when Astraea pointed out that they all took on people’s problems “True, though I’m not sure it’s healthy for us to keep taking on everyone’s problems time and time again” she nodded slightly, she knew their role was to support people and comfort them but the whole point of cutting ties afterward is to avoid attachment. It was hard not to feel personally involved as an empath though. “Life is different huh?” she nodded slightly, she was trying to see it as an opportunity rather than an awful thing but it did become difficult to keep being positive when they still had no idea what had happened to their home and seemed no closer to figuring it out.
She nodded in an understanding manner when Astraea pointed out that it made the anxious knowing they couldn’t return home “Especially you shepherds huh...you never wanted to be out in the world in the first place” some of the aurazin chose to not return to earth and just served for those souls that needed help guiding their way through. “I get it...there is so much here and it’s hard to separate yourself” Arcadia probably wouldn’t have chosen to be an empath if she hadn’t discovered she was really good at it. That spurred her on more because she wanted to make people feel better, she wanted to assure people they would be okay. Sure it was hard for her but the balance was worth it to the empath. “Well whether we like it or not, this is our reality for now, all we can do is blend in, live our lives and keep searching for how to get home” seemed bleak but what else could they do when the door to the veil had disappeared.
She nodded slightly “Well we can’t...be what we are and not believe in destiny right?” he responded to the younger aurazin’s worries and the shrugged her shoulder “Maybe this is just another twist in our story that we have to figure out” they were supposed to be dead and yet they weren’t and now they were here back where they started. She laughed under her breath when Astraea teased about how she could own the whole mad hatter concept “You’d pull it off no doubt, I swear you could wear the craziest outfits and still somehow make it work” she laughed and wrinkled her nose playfully.
The blonde bit her lip when she pointed out how hard it must be for her “It’s near impossible” she spoke softly, she had been breaking rules all these years but the knowledge of needing to go back to the veil always assured she kept her distance but this time the only thing holding her back was her knowledge that eventually she would need to go back. Her fears of hurting Ce were too great. She widened her eyes when Astraea said to go see her “That’s a stupid idea” she responded as she continued placing up decorations around the room “It’s crazy right...that’s I’m even thinking about risking it...knowing what they’ll expect me to do at the end” she sighed, keeping her gaze down as she focused on the ribbon.
Arcadia had a point, there was only so much one could handle and even they had a breaking point. Astraea knew hers, she reached that part some time ago. Almost, anyway. It doesn't make it any easier to just stop on your habits though. Unlike the blonde, Astraea is more likely to follow her heart more than her head sometimes. "It is. I'm not sure if I'm thrilled to see the change or if I'm… more scared or intimidated by it. My decision seems to be in the limbo, weighing from this side to that side because I'm unsure." This world feels a bit weird and different but she's slowly getting used to it. She had to. And then there's the situation back home, if they even have a home anymore. Nobody knows what happened so it's hard to come to a conclusion. Yes, she never wanted to be out, in the first place. That's why she returned to being a shepherd and living her life like a recluse person, fearing the outside world as if it would burn her.
"Most of us don't even know what to do right now… some are trying to find work because we need to fend for ourselves and try to adapt but it's hard to find us going into the empath road" It wasn't a change that can be done overnight, even for a former empath like her. "Do you think it's still there? Our home? What do you think it would be like to return somewhere… you don't recognize?" The last question sounded more to this state, this earth they're currently walking on. Perhaps it was because she hasn't been here in a while so the changes were very apparent. The brunette huffed and leaned against the table, her hands undoing the knots around the ropes as she stared at the blonde with a pout, "How many twists can we take, gosh it's like we're working at the customer service center" In a way, it does feel that way. Their workplace is pretty much a limbo. Her cheeks were slightly flushed when Arcadia pointed out that she would still make it work despite donning something so frivolous and eccentric.
"I can work a puffy skirt, maybe that's why" she giggled, even her hair is quite floofy and curly. "But not thank you, I don't think I'd appreciate people looking at me like I'm a Grade S crazy girl who just escaped from a sanatorium." She has always been obedient, she followed the rules and almost never strayed far from it, with the few exceptions when she befriended the people she was supposed to help even though she couldn't handle cutting off their ties after she had finished. So she wasn't surprised to hear that the older aurazin would find a loophole in between the lines, especially for someone who she loved so dearly. From the looks of it, it seems like she still loves her. Until today. It made her feel a bit jealous, if she was being honest.
Will she ever have something like that in her life? The feeling of loving someone irrevocably like that and being loved back? "Most good ideaa are usually the stupid ones, Cadia… besides, when else are you going to get this opportunity?" She purposely placed a heart shaped card that was pasted on the decorations in her palm and patted it gently, "Isn't love supposed to make you do crazy things? That's what I've heard."
Arcadia raised her brow curiously, having been an empath for so long she was used to the human world but she felt like aurazin like Astraea must feel pretty disconnected from the world “It’s not so bad though...sure we have to eat and sleep and avoid sugar like the plague but don’t you feel like things are more...real here” the veil was a life but it felt like being in a constant state of waiting for the next job to come along, here people had their own interests and lives. She glanced over at the younger female and nodded her head slightly “Keeping busy is a good plan, we’re here so we may as well use the time to...check off a few boxes” with any luck it wouldn’t be long until they were back home where they belonged.
Arcadia paused for a moment when Astraea asked her about the fate of their home “I feel like we would know...if it was gone” she spoke it in a quiet voice because she wasn’t exactly sure, she could definitely feel that the connection to the veil was disconnected right now, whether it was still there on the other side of the bridge was impossible to know for sure. “There’s so much we don’t know huh” she commented with a slightly sad smile, she wanted to stay positive but it was harder with every passing day of silence. She laughed under her breath when Astraea complained about too many twists and knots “Well that wouldn’t be much different to the veil...not like we really had time for a life there” souls were getting lost all the time after all.
She laughed and smiled as she watched Astraea, she was pretty, small with mousey features and a pout she was sure would make all the boys swoon “Well they might believe that before they believe you left a magical rainbow world where you guide souls who are lost after death?” she offered and laughed, it really did sound insane when you said it out loud that was for sure. Arcadia bit her lip when Astraea pointed out most of the best ideas began stupid, she sighed under her breath wondering if Astraea was right and she should take the chance to be with Ce “What if she hates me when I have to leave again?” that was the part she found the hardest, Ce held onto the things she cared for and she knew how long it had taken her to be able to move forward the first time.
“She does make me crazy though” she grumbled as she looked down to the heart-shaped card and placed it into her pocket before getting back to decorating, the place was staring to shape up now and thankfully it didn’t look completely jumbled up “Who even plans a party this late anyway” she commented as she affixed some balloons to one of the pillars.
She still couldn't get used to how different things were, the last time she had been on earth was over a century ago and plenty of things have changed since then. "Eating… sleeping… I even made a notice to set alarms for that everyday. I still couldn't get used to it but I'm sure in time, it'll get easier" at least that's what she would like to tell herself. Besides, eating or sleeping are basic needs for a lot of living beings, and it was certainly the least of her worries right now. "At least the world had plenty to show so I'm not as bored" that was one of the good things she noticed ever since they set foot in this realm. "It's not gone…" But she was saying it as though she was trying to convince herself more than Arcadia herself. "Have you felt any significant change ever since we got here?I mean, I assumed empaths wouldn't feel as disconnected since you're here more often than the rest of us but I'm not sure if the discomfort I feel sometimes were due to the sudden change in my environment or it was from the disconnected synchronisation with the veil that used to be the bridge between them the entire time."
Weird, indeed. "It feels so different" she grumbled under her breath, there were times when it would make Astraea feel antsy. "I'm just thinking about the poor souls trapped in the Void without us to help guide them to their rightful places. We're not there to help fend them off the voidlings either… I wonder what would be of them." If she was being truthfully honest, she was worried that the innocent ones would end up being devoured by the merciless creatures. "It's like leaving the front gate unprotected or unguarded during such perilous times… when your enemy is just across the other side. If we were doors blocking the voidlings from getting to them, now the door is gone." Was there anything stopping them from launching an attack there without their presence? "That does sound more believable" she chuckled, their existence are too complex for some people to understand. Not even supernaturals themselves could comprehend their existence, much less humans.
She didn't have any experience with love so the aurazin could only offer her a small smile in response, placing a reassuring hold over her shoulders, "That's inevitable, Cadia. It's hard to determine how long we'll be here… but I don't want you to miss out the opportunity to be happy with your love" After all, the blonde has been keeping a careful eye on the Valkyr all these years, what was stopping her from meeting her now? "She won't hate you because you'll be doing something you have no control over" she reassured. The dark haired aurazin chuckled when she said she makes her crazy, "Crazy love, huh. I imagine it must feel good though." Astraea leaned against the pillar briefly before climbing up to check the lights, "Just some colleagues wanting to celebrate someone's promotions at their workplace I'm guessing. They're even hiring babysitters for their kids…" Poor kids, she could only imagine how bored they would be to be in the same space as their parents at a party like that.
She chuckled under her breath “I’ve gotten used to the habits because I’m often the one visiting earth but it still feels foreign compared to the veil” and having to eat but avoid sugar was more of a nightmare than anyone would realize, it was crazy how many different foods and drinks you could find that contained it. “Being in it is certainly more entertaining than watching it from a distance” she agreed with a slight nod, everything was so lively here and everyone was lost in their own realities, it was honestly pretty fascinating to her. “I can definitely feel something is wrong but...I have to believe our powers are tethered to the veil and therefore if we still have powers, the veil is still there somewhere” she nodded slightly, god knows how much trouble they would have if they lost their powers and were regular humans.
Her expression softened when Astra pointed out that there might be people lost in the void and unable to make it out “Well we don’t know what happened to those in the veil, if they’re still there, they might be able to reach the void” she hoped they could because she remembered being lost in the void and it wasn’t a pleasant experience and she wouldn’t wish it on anyone. “But right now there is nothing we can do and torturing ourselves with what ifs doesn’t help those people any further” she nodded slightly, it was their job to guide them but if they couldn’t be there, she was sure the universe would find some way to balance it. She hoped so anyway.
Cadia never fell in love in the veil or really allowed herself to have any kind of a life there, it was work consistently that kept her busy and out of trouble. She knew of other aurazin who had relationships and found happiness in the afterlife there but there was always a part of her that knew she wasn’t going to be able to get past Ce and honestly, she didn’t want to. She was happy to watch her from a distance and know she loved her deeply “Being happy is such a relative term when you know it has an expiry date” she spoke softly and let out a long breath “I’d be pretty mad if someone came back into my life knowing I’d inevitably lose them again” after all the pain of heartbreak was agonizing “It’s intense” she spoke softly in admission when Astraea asked if it was good “But the highs are incredibly high” she let a small smile cross her lips and nodded as though to affirm it.
Arcadia moved to support the ladder Astraea was climbing to ensure it stayed steady “Sounds like an excuse to get drunk if I ever heard one” she commented a little snarkily and shook her head slightly “Well it’s definitely looking nicer in here at least, though next time you should really make your boss deal with his bad decisions himself...say you got a date or something” he teased softly.
She pouted slightly because in truth, she does miss earth, she is a social butterfly, she practically befriends every living being possible. But at some point, it got too much for her and she needed to take a break hence why she sat at the other bench for about a century now so when they had to adapt to living here, it felt… overwhelming and surreal to the aurazin. "I miss earth… but you're right, it feels so foreign, like I've missed a lot, a century couldn't change that much right? But it seems like it did." War was still there but it's all about technology rather than manpower now, which was honestly terrifying. "We have to believe the Veil is still up because of our abilities, but the question is… how long will it stay up? Will they have enough defending it from god knows what's going on…" Worrying would be an understatement, Astraea hasn't been able to sit down without thinking of the what if's every 5 minutes.
There was so much uncertainty in what's currently happening and she hated to stay out of the loop. "I hate being uninformed and wandering around in the dark blind… it's unnerving to say the least." She hopes that they would be able to find at least some sort of clue that could lead them to a bigger picture. "I'm guessing I should go back to being an empath now that we're here but… it's so hard to go back to being one, is that weird?" She never told Arcadia the full story of why she stopped abruptly one day, only that she had to take a break from the constant environment, which could only mean one thing; heartbreak. The brunette frowned when she heard the blonde said that, "The expiry date is everywhere on everything, Cadia. But it never stopped anyone from going through it… love is supposed to prevail right?" Or was she so naive to believe such love still exists? "Am I being too oblivious and naive for thinking that?"
For someone who has never been in love, she sure doesn't have the clearest idea of what it realistically entails. "The heartbreak may not be worth it but… it's been more than a thousand years, Cadia… I'm sure she misses you." If she could still love her after all those years, she would salute them forever. That was the definition of everlasting love. Astraea couldn't help but laugh at her suggestion, "If I tell him that, watch the next day my colleagues bombard me with questions regarding my date. Like who are they? Tall? Short? Sassy? I swear they'd be in my business before I could even come near" she was uncomfortable by the constant hogging but Astraea would never be able to find herself saying excuse me. "But you're right, maybe I should find some excuse next time." Once she was done organizing it, she climbed down from the ladder and started folding the napkins. "Am I the only one who is shocked by the amount of sugar in everything these days? Like… what kind of food doesn't have sugar?"
“I think more than anything I miss what I remember earth to be...not earth itself” after all, being here it honestly felt like they were strangers, aliens even, everything was new and different, the technology brought everything to a different level than the world she remembered. “Development has become rapid in the past 10 years, it honestly seems so different to the world we used to know” it was probably for the better, change came in the format of development but also social change, it was okay to love whoever you wanted freely now and that said a lot. “The veil is stronger than we think, plus the other Aurazin aren’t just going to give up on our home, we just need to keep looking for answers” Arcadia didn’t want to fall down the slippery slope of doubt.
“Me too...but if we don’t start thinking positive then all we’re going to be left with is doubt and that’s not healthy” she nodded a few times, she didn’t want to dwell on the bad because honestly, that seemed dangerous. “I get it” she empathized with Astraea’s situation, being an empath wasn’t an easy thing to do “Before it was easier to find separation because you would leave after a mission...now it feels harder not to be move...involved” and getting involved meant making attachments to people and they both knew how dangerous they were. “If love prevailed then I wouldn’t have died before I got the chance to really experience it” she whined the words softly because she wanted to believe in love but how could she when she also knew how hard it was to lose it.
“I know she misses me” she spoke in a small voice, she really wanted to give in and just reveal who she was to Ce, she was sure the valkyr would be happy, relieved even to see her but she imagined that the valkyr would be crushed when she realized it couldn’t be forever. “And I miss her more than anything...if I haven’t pictured 1000 times how she would react to seeing me…” she pursed her lips and sighed, she wanted it so badly, her heart still raced every time she saw her, even from a distance. “Well at least it would keep them busy...freaking out about a fake date” she scoffed slightly shaking her head slightly “I’m sure you can find a less gossip-worthy excuse though, it’s not like they can really question you” Astraea was just used to being taken advantage of she supposed.
Arcadia continued work on the decorating and glanced over at Astraea when she whined about sugar “Tell me about it, did you know they even put sugar in pickles now?” she rolled her eyes, it was difficult to stay hidden when their disguises could be picked apart by one bad menu choice “It’s almost like they know our weakness” she grumbled as she finished tying balloons around the arch and set a few tables.