As she stared out over the counter of her store, she was hit with a sense of disbelief. This was her store, she had done this, she had worked for months to make enough stock to fill the place, she had gone and gotten the loan she needed for the retail, she had designed the layout and placed each item carefully to give it the attention it deserved and here at the end of her first week running her new store she was feeling good. Much to her luck, because of the area and the time of year she had tracked a lot of foot traffic into her little place over the past few days and she had made a few big sales too. It was a great encouragement to finish the rest of the garments she had started over the past day or so, she thought as she turned out the lights for today and locked up the front door.

It was a decent trek between the shop and the Celestial castle but she didn’t mind, the star was used to spending her time alone so she never really cared much for the 30-minute walk. It was chilly tonight though and she was glad she had her coat so that she wouldn’t end up with a cold, you’d think after everything a Celestial is weak to they’d at least be given resistance to illness but that was sadly not the case. She had been walking about 10 minutes when she felt the urge to look over her shoulder, she turned to face behind her but nothing was there. If there was anything she had learned from her years spent on the run it was how to know when someone was following her though so she quickened her pace trying to head back towards the more well-lit roads.

She had been right however, someone had been tailing her. She wasn’t exactly sure what they wanted with her and she didn’t intend on asking, the moment the male stepped out from the shadows and grabbed her shoulder was the moment she went into action. The Wayfinder might seem rational and sweet most of the time but this male would quickly learn that her survival instincts were sharp and would fight any blow he decided to throw at her. “What do you want from me?” she yelled at him while blocking a blow he tried to make to her stomach, the guy gave a slimy grin “What everyone wants from a fallen star” he responded smugly which made her blood boil, she was caught off for a moment when he pulled out a blade and slashed across her hand causing it to bleed immediately and her to cry out in pain. She knew at this point her emotions were getting high, meaning that her natural Celestial glow was brightening but she wasn’t going to lose to some street thug with a knife.

She looked around for a moment making sure that no one was actually around before she drew her Celestial energy to her and in one flash of light so fast that most would never even see it, she sent him flying across the way and he crash-landed against a dumpster. Her attention turned to her hand which was still bleeding pretty badly was she watched him make a run for it, it wasn’t like there was anywhere here to catch him and she didn’t have any way to apprehend him so instead she focused on trying to remember his features while she fell to a crouch, checking the wound to make sure it was clean and looking around for somewhere she could go to get it cleaned up. Her breathing started to quicken as she looked down at the cut, she knew it wasn’t a big deal but it had been so long since she was targeted and attacked that she really thought she was past it and this had been a very sudden reminder that a Celestial was never truly safe in the city. The more she tried to get control of her breathing the more panicky and shaky it got and the moment she heard footsteps coming towards her she stood up, getting on her guard and ready to blast the guy who had no doubt come back for more.

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Nobody would recommend them to rely solely on luck, especially when it has a habit to come back and bite them when they least expected it so she also didn’t expect Ophelia to agree with the notions either. “See, even you wouldn’t want your doctor to depend on luck while treating you” she quipped humorously, it does sound absurd when you thought about it, for a medical practitioner to do such a thing that was meant to be measured from skills and talent, how hard-working that individual is, rather than how lucky she is. “Being promoted though, now that I know that one would probably rely on luck” Celia’s always had a bit of a bitter history with luck even though she rarely found herself in trouble. “Hey, you never know if a gun suddenly lands on you” she didn’t expect to hold a gun either since she wasn’t used to it but at the end of the day, she did hold it. “Just saying, you know." There was a sheepish grin on the Italian’s face when Phe pointed out that Ce didn’t seem to believe or agree in it, “You’re not wrong, I don’t believe in it.” Would she ever believe it? Who knows, maybe… or maybe not. Only time tells. 

“I hope you keep yourself safe for more days to come in the future, Phe. You have a Volakiri, if you’re in trouble or if you even sense that something may go wrong, make sure to give notice to your Volakiri. Surely, you two discussed how to call for backup or aid when needed, right?” She won’t lie, Celia feels worried, and whilst Celestials are able to fend for themselves, it wasn’t as if she wanted to see people shooting light beams every time, especially when that would surely take a lot of energy. They had protectors for a reason, and for a Valkyr who lost her Volakiri once, she didn’t want to see that happening to anyone else. Not when it could be prevented. Ce couldn’t help but smirk at how Phe said a soulmate didn’t need to be a man, “You know, you had me at the first half, I was about to retort how it could also be a woman but you washed me away when you said a soulmate could be found in your friend” she chuckled softly, how endearing. 

“Your person, that sounds quite romantic when you say it” Did she have someone like that? She liked to believe she had one. She’s just… gone. “I hope I’m right too.” Safety is so short in supply, these days, it was no wonder people were worried everywhere. Why Evermore? “I came here before Gideon did, actually… at first, only to scout if this place is an actual reality. I got back to report to him about it and somehow, I just found myself settling here. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of someplace that could be called… home, you know? I’ve been a nomad my entire life, but maybe for once, I wanted stability.” A place she feels like she belonged to. “And maybe, people here wouldn’t fear me more than others outside” A fault that could probably be fixed, her name probably meant more trouble to the Valkyr community.

 “You didn’t have to” she mused coolly and winked playfully at her just to prove her point, “You’ll be surprised to hear how the imagination could wander just right anywhere they could find a place to settle by.” Generally, Celia was glad Phe felt comfortable with her, she was fine with giving her the safe space she needed to talk. “I didn’t say you were a crazy homebody, sheesh” she chuckled, okay, maybe she did think how she went by. “Ah, you picked a good bar. I like the one near the northeast city corner, it’s probably because it’s mostly packed with tourists” and it’s a heated place, perfect to find someone to go home with. But given the reputation it serves, Phe probably knew why Ce preferred a place such as that. “But I was thinking that we could have a drink at my place instead of a bar, at least we don’t need to worry how sober a designated driver has to be. All the embarrassment can happen there too instead of a public place.” Of course, Ce had her stash of alcohol, unsurprising. 

The Valkyr found herself staring at the plate with her lips pursed, “Maybe… It’s hard when most people don’t give me a choice to do so” It wasn’t like Ce wanted to resort to the harsh methods but sometimes, they wouldn’t eat her warnings. “But I can work on doing more good things, you’re right.” She’s a doctor, isn’t she? “Are you telling me you’re harder to kill now?” There was a smug smirk aligning with her curved lips, obviously amused by the bravery she displayed, “Yeah… pretty as the owner herself” This time, she had a genuine smile, perhaps remembering her features clearly. “You know, you should really get my number.”

Ophelia shook her head in amusement at Celia’s words about not wanting a doctor to rely on luck “Well there is a reason medical school is so long and difficult right?” she raised her brows for a moment, she had respect for those who found the time to be able to do long term study like that, it was something she would have liked to do if she hadn’t spent half of her life on the run. Ophelia raised a curious brow when Celia said that a gun might happen to land on her some time “Well then I would run the hell away” she commented with a wry grin and shook her head, truth be told she didn’t really know what she would do in that situation and she didn’t really want to stick around to find out. “You’re probably smart not to believe it” she commented with a soft grin “But I decided to hold onto something” she commented in a soft voice, she needed to hold onto hope or she wouldn’t be able to get up and face the day.

She looked back at her and then shrugged her shoulders slightly “I think I handled it just fine, they always underestimate me, think because I’m a Celestial that I must be weak but they are very wrong” she appreciated her looking out for her though, she even sounded a little worried which made Ophelia smile “We talked about it but...I don’t want to worry him unnecessarily” she commented and pressed her lips together, she hated feeling like she was a nuisance to others. “I mean my Volakiri isn’t just a Valkyr, he’s also the leader of a faction, I can’t expect him to come running every time something happens” nor did she like being a damsel in distress of sorts. Ophelia gave a playful smile when Celia responded to her about a soulmate being a woman too “I like to think I’m open-minded when it comes to all of that, I don’t think there’s a single definition of ‘happy’” she was sure people could find happiness in many places.

She smiled softly when she said the idea of someone being your person was romantic “I like the idea of there being someone out there who makes you feel...the best version of yourself” whether that was a friend who always encouraged you or a life partner who was always by your side. Looking up at the Valkyr she tilted her head slightly as she processed her explanation of what brought her to the city “It’s weird how a place can end up feeling more than than just a place” she mused softly with a smile resting on her lips “So Evermore became your settling down place huh?” she could sense that perhaps Celia seemed a little unsure about that herself “Have you thought about wanting to move on again since you came here?” she asked it out of curiosity, wondering if the nomad lifestyle felt hard to put down like she felt it was too. All she had been looking for was a place to settle down and now she had it, she felt uneasy.

Ophelia rolled her eyes when she said her mind liked to wander given the chance “You seem different from the average person raised in…” she wasn’t sure exactly how to phrase it without sounding harsh but she supposed the fact was that times really were harsh back then “Less open-minded times” Ophelia had been very traditional, even though she was never raised by anyone because she fell rather than was born, she found herself adhering to the silent rules of society around her. It probably made her seem old-fashioned and stuffy but she was working on trying to be adaptive to modern times. She gave a quirk of her brow when she said she wasn’t calling her a homebody “You thought it for a moment there” she teased with a laugh but she went quiet when she said they could go to her place and have a drink there “Well that sounds dangerous but slightly less public” she commented with a shake of her head “What do you have?” she questioned curiously, a girls night in could be fun.

Her eyes softened a little as she realized that Ce seemed to be holding some inner conflict about the things she thought were right and things she had to do “I’m sure it’s not without the opportunity for them to the right thing first” she commented in an empathetic voice “It can’t be easy to do what you do” Ophelia would fail on day one so she definitely respected her for having the strength to do what the faction needed to. “That is exactly what I’m saying” she commented and smirked slightly “I am not the damsel in distress people paint be out to be, I have my moments of weakness, but usually they are down to my emotions rather than my ability to protect myself” and she had been teaching the other stars to follow in her footsteps. The way Celia described Cassidy made her smile sadly “Maybe wherever she is, she missed you too” she liked to think there must be more.

When she offered her number she blinked before she reached for her phone and put it out on the table “I haven’t really figured out all the contactless sharing thing so...here” truthfully she hadn’t had a lot of time to keep up with technology full stop.

"Sometimes I think back on my days at the medical school and I feel grateful I haven't gone crazy yet" another message saying she's glad she is still holding onto her sanity still. It hasn't been easy and for Celia, a being who actually survives on blood, it was a big challenge to be around people who were always bleeding most of the time. Thankfully, she had enough self control to make sure she's used to the amount. It wasn't her first time being a healer, after all. "Cute" she pointed out sheepishly when Phe said she'd run away at the sight of a gun, "Nor the violent type huh" but then again, the Celestial didn't exactly peg as someone who would resort to such measures. Her gaze softened considerably upon hearing how determined the other female sounded, if only she could have half the confidence Phe exuded, at this moment, perhaps things would've taken another turn. 

Cecilia wasn't moved by anything, nothing could change her stance, which makes up why people often thought she's cold-hearted. But she wished she could remember what she had recollected centuries ago, it was becoming a memory as time passes. "Wise choice" she murmured faintly, holding on, it's a big choice with a big result. Sometimes, she felt like Ophelia was a lot braver than she portrayed herself to be. It amuses her. "I think you're far from weak, you don't hear it from me but… back then, everyone underestimated us. I never let it get to me, I show them what my worth is, at the end of the day. You could also use it to your advantage, they'll never suspect much from people like us, and that's fine." Using your strength to your advantage had been one of Celia's strengths over the centuries. 

"Gideon looks busy, I know, sometimes I had to remind himself when was the last time he had a proper meal when I found him scrambling for a sandwich in the kitchen one time…" It worries her sometimes. "But he does care for you, we have an unexplainable bond, us Volakiris. Even though my relationship with Atticus isn't… what it once was, I'll do anything to keep him safe and sound." Even if she still had a few bitterness towards him for what he did. Personal is personal, right? From where she stood, Ophelia seems very mature and wise, which does make her smile. It's not everyday you meet people like that. The best version of yourself, why did those words hurt her so deeply? It was as if she could remember who said the same thing, sometime ago. "You can say like that... It's different from any other places I've been at. I don't want to keep moving here and there… Evermore's kept me here longer than expected... " She's been here for a while, and nothing seemed to drive her out. Maybe she just wanted to stay, for once.

 "I'm not sure where I stand on wanting to leave, but if things are well, perhaps I can call Evermore my home. I haven't thought about wanting to go to another city nor another country so that's something new." All she hopes were the people close to her wouldn't be leaving her. A chuckle escaped the Italian when she saw how Ophelia tried to word it properly, "You can say it like that, you know. Times were harsh, you know it and I know it. I've lived centuries before civilization even tried to improve themselves, it's tiring. But to answer your question, I guess it helped when you weren't expected to do anything. Before I became a Valkyr, aka before I died, I was born out of wedlock. My parents were lovers, my dad got himself killed by my mother's brothers, uncles of the year, I know. So I grew up as a bastard child outside the city, with only my mother to take care of me. Everyone knew my name but not the person who carried it, all they seemed to care was that darned Laterza-Natale name. People respected me because of my parents' noble heritage but they don't give a damn about what I do. Nobody had any expectations and I could do whatever I wanted." It was fun while it lasted. 

She didn't regret being born a bastard at all, at least she could run away from the stuffy life, for a while. "I should feel offended that you were implying I'm anywhere near dangerous but you wouldn't be wrong either…" when she asked her what she had, Celia pondered for a quick while before shrugging, "Depends on your preference. What do you like? I usually have red wine and a few other liquor stashed away...  Vodka, whiskey…" Can Phe hold her liquor? That's about to be a good question. "Let's put this in a good way, if you so happen to stumble on your drunken antics… at least I'll be the only one who could attest to it. Less public." Though knowing Cecilia, she'd probably use it for future blackmail reasons to get a laugh out of it. She does like teasing. "No, it's not. Sometimes I feel like my actions contradict what I'm supposed to do. I'm a healer, my job is to heal people… not end them. I guess you can say rogues are not even considered humane enough, but still… they were once humans. Hunting your own kind? It doesn't get worse than that." 

Ce often reminded herself that if she wasn't there to do it, their livelihood and future would be jeopardized. That wasn't something she could risk. Pull out the weed from its roots, she often told herself. "Having flaws… weaknesses, that's only a sign of being humane, Phe. It shouldn't be frowned over. I mean you can find it burdensome and a bother, at times. But… you know" that's how life works. The best they could do is adapt to it. "I like to think that she would miss me too. Because I know I do." She's in a better place now, though. "You're so cute" she shook her head and chuckled before taking her phone into her hands, keying her number and registered her name to it as Cece. She pressed it to call and smirked when she received it before ending the call by returning Phe's phone to the owner herself, "There you go. Saved. You do know how to call, right?" she teased. 

“Not unless I have to” she responded honestly when she asked if she was averse to violence, after seeing so many people get hurt and killed over senseless violence she couldn’t say she ever wanted to use it unless it was a completely last resort. “It think there was a time when I was weak” she disagreed with the idea that she wasn’t because there had been a time in her life where she wouldn’t have been able to cope with all the things happening around her, but slowly she had learned to pull herself up and face the world “But the important part is that I recognized that and then took the steps I needed to to change it” that spoke more about strength than actually thinking you were just born like that “No one is born that strong, it’s something we learn from experiences, often ones we should never have to endure” that’s how you knew the people who seemed the strongest had been through the most and she got the feeling Ce was very strong.

She laughed and shook his head “Yeah I have to keep telling him off for that because whenever he gets himself like that it makes me hungry too” she sighed slightly, they were both learning this whole balance thing but it did make you want to keep yourself in check so you weren’t bothering the other. “It’s hard to explain isn’t it?” she nodded slightly, the bond felt different from the ones she had with others, it was this...general understanding and feeling of mutual protection, like they would always take care of one another regardless of what happened. It wasn’t romantic but the way you described it could sound that way. “So this is the first place that has drawn you in huh?” it wasn’t the first place for Phe but it was definitely one of the few that had really stuck out to her.

She nodded thoughtfully, harsh was one way to put it, it honestly felt like the entire world was against her back then and she was fighting to just be seen and heard, it was a hard way to live your life. But with time things had changed, especially over the past century where developments in technology had come along as well as general human compassion. The way Ce described her past had Ophelia listening attentively, it was interesting to see how much she remembered from her past given that she had lived for over 1000 years, even Ophelia memories felt like they were faded in points as time moved on “So basically no one was going to give you the respect you deserved so you decided to stop caring about what people thought” she surmised with a small smile, it must have taken a lot of strength to do that.

Phe raised her brows to question it when she said she was offended she was calling her dangerous but then laughed when she said she wasn’t wrong “Dangerous isn’t always a bad thing, sometimes people need to step out of their comfort zone right?” she pressed her lips together, she had spent the past few years remaining in that bubble, maybe it was time she tried something a little different. “Yes” she responded with a chuckle when she listed out different alcohol she had “I’m not choosy, as long as it isn’t weak” she wasn’t the biggest fan of beer for that reason. “True...though I’m not sure I like the implication I’m a bad drunk” she jested back shaking her head slightly.

“Someone has to protect people” Phe responded as she looked back at the dark haired female, someone had to stop those rogues from hurting people, especially people like hers, everyone knew once a valkyr crossed that line there was almost no coming back from it, they would become so obsessed with blood that their humanity faded away. She bit her lip slightly when she said having flaws and weaknesses is a sign of having humanity “Yeah...but I have a whole faction looking for me to lead them, weakness can’t really be afforded, not in front of them at least” it was a hard pressure to hold herself to but she did it for them. She laughed shaking her head playfully when she teased her for not knowing how to use her phone “Yes, I know how to use the call feature Cece” she commented as she took the phone and read the contact name she had chosen. She called over the waiter so that she could pay their bill, which she didn’t give Ce the chance to even consider paying because this was her treat as a thanks.

“I should probably be getting back to the castle before everyone wonders where I am” she spoke it softly with a sweet smile “Thanks for taking care of me tonight, most people wouldn’t have” but the sense she got from Celia was that she was kinder than she probably wanted to show the world.

It's always so fascinating to see people who hated violence and wouldn't resort to them unless they really really have to. Cecilia, despite telling herself that she didn't like to resort to such measures, realized that there were certain times where she takes pleasure in it. She should feel guilty for feeling like that but the Italian accepted that perhaps, amidst all these centuries where she hunted their own kind down, she may have developed something over it. "Look at you go… nor many people are willing to dial themselves up a notch to improve, it takes a great deal of bravery there." Even Ce had to question her methods and why she did what she did. So far, things worked out well in her favor. "I'd say you're very wise for your age but considering how much you've been through, I'd say that's an understatement of the century." People grow stronger from time to time given the chance and opportunity. Surely, the Celestial Wayfinder wasn't exempted from such. 

It still required a certain amount of motivation to walk through it, of course, which is why the Valkyr was keen on getting to know Phe. To see how far she's made it today. It's an interesting topic for her. "Hey, at least he's eating healthy, I've seen him gobbling up on more greenery than I've ever seen him touch for the past century, and that's saying something" They didn't have a specific diet and Celia didn't like to remind herself to keep a strict overview on how she takes in her meals, but she could be quite disciplined when needed. "I think I understood it better when it's not explained. Because in a way, you already know it." At first, it was overwhelming because there had been no records up to date regarding Volakiris. But today, it was different. There were plenty of people having them already. "I guess you could say Evermore has something no other place has. Because of that, I'm attracted to its enigmatic energy." She'll leave it at that until she finds out what exactly was keeping her there. 

Her past seemed so tragic but feels so connected to the person she is today, in a way, she would describe it as the foundation of what made her today. She went through a lot of phases. "A bit like that, I wished it lasted though… my uncle took me in and it was all back to ground zero to learn all the things a lady must. At least, he didn't stop me from pursuing what I wanted so that's a good uncle right there. Ce knew it was because he felt guilty for what happened to her mother but said nothing about it. The Valkyr wouldn't even try to understand something she probably shouldn't have to. "Point is, you should never let anyone or anything pull you down. You'll eventually find a way to overcome it if you really want to." The two of them were very different but to Celia, that's exactly what made them an interesting pair. She looks forward to seeing how this friendship of theirs would go. 

"Be careful what you say, Phe, you should tread carefully when you're with me, I'm 'dangerous', after all" she winked playfully and found herself chuckling at how Phe said she wasn't a bad drunk, "We'll know when we see that." Now she's definitely curious to see what kind of drunk the Celestial would be. "Yeah… that's what keeps me going today really… the fact that someone needs to do that and I'll be glad to do it." There was a small smile stretched on her lips, Phe understood that and she felt like she could finally breathe without having people look at her thinking she's bad. "Then don't show it in front of them. Keep it to yourself or show it to people you trust enough to carry that. I don't show mine to people either. It irks me to know they know what weakens me. But just know that it's fine to have it." She never would've thought she'd go by Cece, ever. But perhaps it's fine if it's just Phe, right? Nobody else needed to know that. 

Celia frowned slightly when Phe insisted it was her treat, but decided not to push any further, though it didn't mean she didn't try to make up for it. "Let's put it this way, next time we meet… it'll be my turn to treat you, okay?" The time was ticking away and she nearly forgot it was late at night already, "Most people should've" she pressed with a gentle smile and waved at her before taking a few steps back, "I'm tempted to walk you back to the castle but I know you can handle yourself. I should give that a chance. I'll see you later, Fifi, don't miss me too much" she cooed coyly and giggled before making her leave. On her way back, Celia couldn't help but to grin to herself, perhaps tonight wasn't so bad. She didn't feel as hungry anymore too. 

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