It was almost noon when the aspect of death woke up.  A late hour to start the day according to most, but not very unusual for the broody male who didn’t really have a circadian rhythm. He didn’t have any obligations demanding him to wake up a certain time. No hobbies forcing him to be at a certain place. What he did have was duties but he hadn’t fulfilled them in ages and now it felt almost insuperable starting, but he knew he would have to sooner rather than later.

Erythreus yawned as he got up from the bed, wondering what today would bring. Nowadays everyday was almost the same, escape the guards pretending to go to the grave yard helping lost souls find peace and keeping order in the death realm. However instead he ended up drunk in a bar reminiscing about old times and old love. Somehow life had taken a turn and Ery didn’t know how to break the pattern. The rest of his aliward family had looked at him concerned, trying to break trough to the bitter shell of Erythreus but without luck. 

After a quick look in the mirror assuring he didn’t look like a complete wreck, not more than usual anyways, the aspect left his residence and made his way to the shared kitchen. The mansion was quiet, all of the guards were outside practising with the new weapons that had been delivered the previous day. The rest of the aspects were probably with them helping and participating. Erythreus had a faint memory he’d been asked but grunted a sour ”No”. Now he regretted that decision. It would’ve been nice feeling part of something again. The blonde knew they would welcome him with open arms if he decided to join in now. He could hear their laughters from a far and longed to be there with them. Anyhow he also knew that if he had been there he’d feel distanced, ruining the fun for the rest of his family. 

Instead the lonely aspect searched through the fridge for something to eat. His eyes noted a hot sauce with Bexley´s name tag on it, causing him to frown. That guard had been one of his closer friends but had also had a rough period in life and left the manor, and suddenly Ery knew what today would bring. He found himself a sandwich in the fridge that he devoured on his way to town, hoping any of the guards wouldn’t give him hell about it later, and heading for Bexley´s little shop in town. It wasn’t weather to drive his motorcycle and it would’ve drawn too much attention. He didn’t want to tell the guards where he went, hoping they wouldn’t notice he wasn’t brooding in his room until he came back.

A bell rang as he entered the small shop announcing his arrival. ”So its here you’ve been hiding Bex” Erythreus stated not meeting the females eyes.

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Shortly after the fall of Skye and the aspects and guards settled themselves into Evermore, Bexley began to look for her own place. It didn’t take long till she was moved out and starting her own shop in Evermore. It was her perfect excuse for  her not to be around the group of people that had become a family to her. They had all lost so much in the fall of the Isle, but the pain was something she didn't want to face. She couldn’t be around the others mourning with them, trying to convince one another everything was okay, when it wasn’t.

While she had always been a passionate business woman she never thought it would be a way to escape from people she shouldn’t be escaping from. The thought of losing anyone in their dwindling numbers was far too much emotion for the guard. She turned to self remedies to not focus on the worst in life, she placed herself in a routine and only went outside of it when the aspects called upon her for a mission, or events to keep up appearances the best she could. Though her calls to check in became less.

That morning was like any other, up working out in her home gym, shower, breakfast, covering the scar on her eye with makeup, and off to her shop Diviner Intervention. She unlocked the door walking through the deep green wooden door flipping the sign to open as she placed her bag under the counter, flicking the lights on. Something felt off among the shop as if something was missing. With a sigh, she picked up her phone and looked at the names in her contact list. Something was off about evermore lately. Maybe it was time to return to the Manor.

As the thought crossed her mind the bell went off to signal a customer which caused Bexley to turn to greet the person and a brow raised up. "Erythreus? What do I owe the pleasure?" she asked as she moved around the counter to place her purse under it. That feeling of something being missing was still high in her chest but seeing the face of the brooding king himself caused a different panic. "Are the Ailwards okay? The guards?" she asked poking for information on why he was here in her shop with no prior warning. Her mind could only go to dark thoughts and places.

The isle of sky had been a little paradise for all of them. A safe place where they could be together without fear of showing too much of their supernatural selves. A happy place. At least it had been the first years. A time when the now brody aspect hadn’t been so shy of company and hadn’t neglected his duties as the warden of dead. However for Erythreus it hadn’t been merely a place of joy. Just like the rest of the aliwards, his family, the aspect of death had been forced to make difficult decisions. Decisions with consequences both for them and others, with after waves still affecting them.

When the Celestials escaped, saved by the wayfinder, it had both been a big relief and of course a big sorrow. As in every battle for a better future not everyone made it out alive. Their deaths forever haunting him, but it wasn’t just him who had become a gloomier person since the island fell. Most of the aliwards and their guards chose to stick together when coming to Evermore, Erythreus being one of them. He needed his family even tho he right now didn’t know how to be around them and find his way back to the person he’d been before the world changed.

Bexley had been one of the few choosing to wander off on their own rather than continue to live together at the mansion. They still checked in every now and then, joined a few missions every now and then but the rest noticed that they only where a reminder of what was lost. So they didn’t force themselves on Bexley and other guard members choosing solitude as a way to cope.

The Aspect of death could sense that the brunette was surprised by his visit. He was quite surprised himself to be fair. It had been whimsicality leading to his decision but now that he was here he was happy he’d come by her shop it felt right. ”Can’t the reason for my visit just be to visit an old friend?” Erythreus question raising a brow and lifting up one of the more antique items off the shop eying it closely. ”2000 dollars for this piece off wood? Are you kidding me?” the out spoken aspect couldn’t help but huffing.

Bexley gave him a confused glance before shaking her head towards him, “When it comes to aspects, and the guards no one just ever comes and visits me to visit me. It's always either a job or to make sure I am still alive.” Eyeing him for a moment, “And since you didn’t come in with the bad news face I will just assume that you are here to make sure I am alive and not planning anything to bring Crane back.” She gave a shrug of her shoulders before she shifted from behind the counter at that moment.

She moved over taking the wood from his hands and placed it back down. “One you are rich, what does the price tag mean to you? You and the aspects are some of the richest beings in the world. And two the price is that high because its Hawthorn wood, some of the rarest wood you can find. It's very potent to Valkyrs. So I don’t really plan on selling it for less than the right price. Two thousand is far too low in my opinion.” She gave a shrug of her shoulder as she stared at the wood. “I also consider it some insurance if a Valkyr comes after me.” 

The diviner gave a short chuckle as she looked around the shop for a moment before moving towards the curtain that led to the backroom beaconing for the Aspect to follow.  She moved to the small kitchen putting on an electric kettle as she placed a teabag in her cup. “Want a cup of tea? And tell me why you are here and not training with all the other Aspects and Guards with the new shipment of weapons?” She turned and leaned back against the kitchen counter as her dark eyes rested on him. “What are you running from hum?” 

She was the one always being questioned on why she lived away from the guard, away from the aspects. Even though a lot of her work was translations and helping Malva or Cora with dark magical things. Missions were rare for her but not uncommon in the end. She had been avoiding the manor lately because of her last run in with Aureus. Since she had been really fucking up when it came to her memories and well she had crossed a line.

”I have a bad news face? Thats news to me” Ery said amused. Her next words wiped that amusement off his face. The aspect was aware that Cranes death had been hard on Bexley. Bening the main reason she lived on her own away from the rest of the guards. The ones giving their lives when Skye fell had gotten a memorial ceremony but no one ever spoke about them. Their souls still haunted Erythreus. Deep down he knew they didn’t blame him for their suffering but it was still he got when they appeared in their ghost form staring at him with judging eyes.

”That you stop living cutting yourself off from the world won’t bring him back you know” The blonde said his voice taking a softer tone. There was so much more he wanted to say. For example he would hate to see you like this but people hated when you said that often having the opposite effect. Also who was he to say those things how could anyone know what dead people wanted more than to live?

”Excuse me, that is how you remain rich” he said rolling his eyes at her. Erythreus was after more than a century he was still not used to having almost infinite amounts of money. Buying crap just for because he could wasn’t at all appealing. Not that what he spent his money on, booze and vehicles, was much better use for it.  The words made him frown.Keeping the fragil peace had been one of the things that actually mattered to him even tho he hadn’t done much to secure it. 

”No thanks flavoured hot water ain’t my thing” The aspect of death said with a grimace following Bexley in behind the shop. ”Why aren’t you?” he countered an effective way to not have to answer, the broodiness back. He was quite surprised she knew it was delivery day. It seemed strange for someone who never visited to know but maybe she had kept an closer eye on them than she’d like to admit. 

“You are the aspect of death, is the bad news face something you wouldn’t always have?” She raised a brow at him. The mood went dark quickly which you think would be hard for a dark diviner and the aspect of death and yet it happened. They both had overwhelming guilt for different reasons when it came to the fall and why the fall happened. She was haunted by Crane but that was her fault since she messed with things she shouldn’t have done.

Little did the blonde know that Crane was in fact with her just not in a way any of them would understand. Since she had messed with magic that she shouldn’t have she had accidentally bound Crane soul to her home. “I know he will never be back the way I want him to be. I am learning to cope through that more now. Yet I don’t think you can tell someone how to grieve, we all have our own way of dealing with things.” She said simply, after all their group was made up of so many different people they were not the same cut of cloth whatsoever. She did note his soft tone for a moment, which was something she wasn’t used to when it came to the aspects unless it was Argent and Virindeus.

“Yeah, yeah open your pocket for a small business sometimes. It's not a bad thing.” She rolled her eyes back at him, the sass level in the room increasing, with a chuckle from her lips though. “Would you prefer coffee?” she asked as she watched the kettle waiting for it to heat up. This was a mundane thing she did that made her feel normal, a cup of tea in the morning. She looked at him with a brow raise and a chuckle from her lips. “Weaponry was never my reason for being a guard.”

She gave a shrug of her shoulders for a moment, “I train on my own so I am well fit but weapons I rather hunt and provide for the cause not welding it.” she said as the kettle went off and poured it into the mug with the tea bag. “Besides I am more of a translator, spell caster, locator of magical things.” She turned back to him, “I mean even before it was rare I went on a Mission better suited for Dom or other strong guards. I have my skills, we all know that.” She looked him over, “What is your reasoning? hmm?”

”Um excuse me, RUDE” Erythreus huffed offended by the words. ”Me being the face of bad news” He continued scuffing upset by the words even tho he knew deep down the words where true. No one wanted to hear that their loved one had crossed over to his realm. There were rarely anyone who was happy someone died. Of course some really old rich mean person didn’t get much sympathies but otherwise death didn’t bring much happiness. It burdened him that he always was a source of sombreness in every room he entered. Another reson he had become more and more drawn back as the centuries passed, he didn’t want to destroy the mood with his presence. 

His years as a valkyr hadn’t been much brighter. His humanity almost wiped out as human lives were slayed one by one with very little remorse. However that had been a group activity and he wasn’t solemnly the face for death. Still guilt for who he’d been and the people he’d killed haunted him, their ghosts visiting him when he was drunk or emotional. The aspect of death could see that Bexley was feeling guilty as well. The moody aspect had never really understood why she took his death so personally. It was nothing they had ever spoken about, but he could sense that it had something to do with why she chose to leave aliward quarters.

”I provide income for many small businesses all the time” Erythreus proclaimed rolling his eyes. Both breweries and pubs got a fair share of his wealth every night. ”Whiskey but I don’t suppose you’re willing to give me that are you” he shrugged. ”Yes you’ve always been great at that, now that you mention it I have a soul who has been bothering me for weeks but I can’t seem to figure out what he is saying or which language.”

”Oh no reson I just didn’t want to kill the mood with my bad news face” the male answered sarcastically.

Bexley gave a gentle sigh realizing that maybe her words had gone too far, she was out of practice when it came to interacting with someone beyond just selling goods to them. “Forgive my ill attempt at a joke.” She sighed as she didn’t look back at him at that moment. Her words often cut down many. It's why she spent most of her life alone keeping people at distance was the way she survived. “My words never fall well, it's why I learned so many languages in hopes that in one of them I would be a good communicator. Seems to have failed again.” She mumbled the end towards herself.

“I don’t think bars count fully as small businesses unless they are really obscure ones.” She teased him and yet after she said it she was sure it fell flat. “Ah whiskey.” She said as she reached down and opened the cabinet and poured a glass for him. “Who am I to fully judge your habits? After all I have done my fair share of stupid things especially as of late in life.” She moved to set the glass down on the table and moved back to her tea adding a splash of the whiskey into it.

“Your face is charming, stop it.” She said softly as she raised the mug to her lips taking a long sip before signing into it. “Erythreus, have you ever…” she thought on how to phrase what she wanted to ask. “I know he hasn’t told you but I had asked Reus to take away my memories of Crane. Well seems I did this more than once as I apparently regained them a few times and then asked him to take them away again. Anyways long story short, he gave me my memories back and I may have casted a spell to try and bring Crane back.”

She slowly steeped the tea bag in the tea and whiskey mix. She shifted to press her back to the counter that was there and let out a sad sigh. “The spell worked, or didn’t? Have you ever been haunted?” She finally got to her point after stumbling around. “Have you ever been haunted but not really wanted to get rid of the ghost?” She looked at him with a gentle gaze.

Bexley and Ery both were brutally honest lacking the ability to bite their tongue. If you wanted a censured and bubble wrapped answer they weren’t the people to go too. Speaking ones mind could both be frown upon and seen as rude, but also liberating and refreshing depending on the recipient. However the aspect of deaths blunt way was most often accepted. ”I’m not the best communicator myself Bex” Erythreus said comforting. He was a sensitive soul despite his direct communication skills and could see that she was feeling bad for hurting him. ”I didn’t know that was the thing that drove you. I wouldn’t say fail you know more languages than anyone else I know”

”I will have to disagree with you there, Alcoholic beverage is a big market” Ery chuckled happy she was confident to joke again. ”Ah thanks” he took a big sip from the glas ”I thought all of you guards had gotten strict orders not to provide me with any liquor” The big male grinned taking another sip. 

”Well thank you” Erythreus  replied pouting and dashing his eyelashes at the guard. He could be a charmer when he wanted. After many crashed relations he keeps to short loveless affairs. It was easier that way and it wasn’t like he didn’t have enough offers. The blondes eyebrows started to frown as his friend began to talk about more serious matter. To remove och change ones memory was always risky business. He could understand the temptation to remove certain part of his history, for example his last love, but it always came with a cost. 

”YOU DID WHAT?” The aspect exclaimed choking on his last sip. ”That’s a lot of dangerous dark magic” He tried to stay calm and not sound too judging. The irresponsible aspect knew just how annoying it was when his fellow aliwards did that. ”Ghost or rather lost souls of those we lost haunt me always, it’s a part of my burden to make them find peace and guide them int the next world, however lately I’ve lost control over it and neglected my duties” It was hard admitting that maybe her problem was his doing? ”You see Crane don’t you and have bound his soul to this world, but he is not the same is he?” Erythreus said gently trying to gain more information.

Bexley realized how often in that moment her and Ery where alike. They could in fact let their darkness spread to others easily if they didn’t keep it contained. Dark, brooding, too blunt and honest for their own good they made quite a pair. “If anyone can understand what it's like to not be the best of communicators it's me, Ery.” She let out a huff then took in a soft sigh. “Well Revenge only ever motivated me until I rid the earth of the scum who harmed me. So I had to find another passion, one my parents started teaching me. Just snowballed from there.” She gave a shrug. “It's been useful with helping Mavla in translating things from all around the world. I feel useful to the Ailward's when I am translating. Everything else though.” She gave an easy shrug of her shoulders.

“That is what I am saying they would make more money than a small business being a big market. Therefore not a small business.” He had made her point for her; she just felt the need to repoint it out. “Well seeing how we aren’t on Ailward property I am more than happy to give you a drink. You could be doing far worse than having a drink with me to keep an eye on you.” She joked with a half smug look on her face as he took another sip. “Though it's not my fault if you get an ear full when you are back at the Manor.” She took a sip of her own drink.

Bexley was lost in her thoughts, not sure how to talk about what she had done, if she wanted to ask if it was something that could happen. She had convinced herself for a while that what was seeing was real or not. It was the biggest secret she was holding so maybe she was desperate for another to know it. Telling it to Erythreus may not have been the easiest person to confide in but she felt he would be the one who wouldn’t judge her too harshly. Hearing his almost choke on his sip made her look away for a moment.

She felt as if she was about to be scolded like she was a child. “Well being a dark diviner and all, dark magic is a specialty of mine.” She gave a weak chuckle past her lips. “I guess you are the person I should have come to when it first happened. Yet part of me didn’t want to send him away either. He is there everyday waiting for me to come home. I can talk to him, we may not be able to touch but…” She sighed softly. “Is that why you haven’t noticed his soul missing? You are overrun by them, neglecting them?” She tapped her fingers to her mug. “No he isn’t the same, I just miss him so desperately.” 

With a heavy sigh she moved closer and placed her hand on Ery's shoulder softly. “Maybe we can figure this out together. I know I can’t keep Crane here anymore, each day he looks like he is hurting more and more.” With a soft frown on the guard's face. “Is there a way I can help you catch up on your duties?” she asked him softly.

Being an asset to whatever context one found themselves was normal, maybe not health but normal. Especially in the society they lived in now where once performance were rated above all. Ery had many times felt the pressure to do more, be more. Which only resulted in chaos, and being someone he wasn’t. ”Whatever works for you I guess” he said sighing. He’d seen so many driven by revenge and it rarely took them any place good. At least it was a strong motivator something himself had lacked for a long time. He had almost become indifferent toward most things, a way of guarding his heart from disappointment. A feeling he had gotten a little too much of. 

”I knew there was a reason I like you” the aspect chuckle gulping the last of his drink and starting to pour another one. ”I’m sure they’ll blame us both, cheers” he drowned his second drink waiting for her to continue. ”What you should have done is not bring him back to this world in the first place” The aspect sighed starting to walk around the small room restlessly. This was why he didn’t hung out with people anymore. Only having out in his room with booze. Now that he was made aware of this problem he would have to get involved, and he barely had strength to master getting out of bed everyday. ”Excuse me don’t try to blame this on me do you know how many people die every day? It’s not like I have a presence list on who is in that dimension” he scuffed before continuing ”Needing guidance to pass over and find peace? And you summon one of these poor souls who have finally found peace, UNBELIEVABLE!” Erythreus had spilled his drink very upset by what she had revealed.

Deep down he knew Bexley hadn’t meant any harm and didn’t deserve his harsh tone, but he couldn’t help but judge her egoistic wish to bring Crane back to ease her pain. He had done many dumb things himself, things that had gotten consequences that still haunted him but it had never been to mend his broken heat it had been for the best of his faction. ”I am sorry I know you didn’t mean for any of this” Erythreus apologised knowing he’d gone too far. ”Lets start with helping Crane” He said softly squeezing her hand comforting. 

✧ Two Lost Souls ✧

Bexley's eyes scanned along Ery as he sighed trying to read his every movement. She studied people to know their emotions and mood. Yet Ery being so similar to her she couldn’t seem to see past her blind spots with him. Or maybe she just didn’t want to know what he really thought about her. She probably couldn’t bear it if he hated her for her choices, or if he was just disappointed in her. She hated to let down any of the aspects but letting him down for some reason hurt her more ultimately. Clearing her throat for a moment she shifted from one foot to the other. “Not sure what works really, anymore.”

A slow smirk filled Bexley's face, “Alcohol is the only reason you like me?” She watched him fill the glass to the brim once again. Holding her glass up towards him. “Cheers. Always easy to blame the fuck ups right?” She sipped on her tea, as the judgemental tone filled his voice and he started to pace. Her eyes followed him along the room. “Keep pacing that way you are going to wear a hole into my floor.” She muttered out as her fingers moved along the mug in her hands.

As his voice started to get louder her brow arched, she was opposed to men yelling at her, even if he was technically her boss. She raised the mug to her lips as she took a long sip from it. “To be clear I wasn’t trying to blame you. You just seemed as lost as I do. Guess I thought you of all people wouldn’t judge me for my actions. Turns out I was wrong.” She turned her back to him to pour the rest of her tea down the sink that was there as she tossed the tea bag in the trash.

She didn’t look at him anymore due to his outburst, she felt so small at that moment. “Don’t apologize. I deserve to be burned at the stake after all. I’m just selfish.” She shrugged as she moved towards the door that led back to her shop. “I guess we should go to my house and help Crane move back to his eternal slumber. Then I can no longer burden you with my issues.” She moved to pick up her purse and waved her hand in the air, locking the shop's door. She was quick to open a portal to her home.

Being the aspect of death Erythreus was very familiar with all types of behavior. Especially with people in grief. This should make him good at reading people and how to approach them carefully. A few decades ago hed been, before his world had come crashing down. His heart broken and a thousand devastating decisions earlier. He had been good, great even at guiding the dead from this world to the next. Cutting all bounds tying them to their previous life and finding peace. The aspect of death had even liked it helping the souls find peace, but that was a long time ago. Now things were different. Not only was death seen upon with other eyes. People wanted to live forever and refused to let go of their loved ones, tying them harder to this world making the passing harder creating more ghost needing his guidance. Also he was in no need to help anyone let alone himself. At the moment he was the one needing guiding. To find his belief again. To find happiness, but it wasn’t the way the world works he had an assignment which he needed to fulfill or die and pass it over to the next.

Ery could see that his harsh words had struck her hard. Harder than he’d meant them to. However the damage was already done, he’d lost her trust and would have to work hard to win her back. Which would make their upcoming mission so much harder. It would either rebuild their trust or leave them even further apart. The aspect sighed, mad at himself for once again messing things up. He couldn’t even talk to people he considered his friends now without warding them off. You’re such a failure thee voices in his head whispered making him want to drown another bottle of alcohol and go back to his world of misery.

”Not more selfish than the average person” Erythreus enlightened her muttering. ”Sounds like a start” Ery agreed following Bex through the portal. His mind wandering to how the hell they would pull this off. 

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