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A note from Ringo Farr

I forgot to edit and post this as the bonus chapter, so it's a little early. Another chapter is scheduled for 5 p.m Eastern Standard, and so continues the Bard's tale. 
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As Always,❅Stay Cool, Kids❅

A Grating Word




The Welcome Center was honestly really welcoming. A couple weeks into our stay my training was going well and I was becoming a much better shot with Clockly, my gun, and a better person whacker with Doug, muh schtick. Stell and I got a nice, full rest in our borrowed room though it was a just a touch furrier than preferred. Felix made sure to wake us up by changing into the lynx creature again and pouncing back and forth on us. I was the first to wake and caught him by the tail before he could jump on Ms. Murderation before she could prove just how unpleasant she was when woken up before her time. I’d learned that lesson and only needed to be taught once, seeing as how it was three days later and I still had a bruise on my arm from where she’d hit me. That was the first and only time I would try waking her up with water while she was a deep sleep, her irritation having been enough by itself to convince me, let alone the heavy blow that followed. Speaking of rude awakenings, I got my Partner started as gently as I could by letting my lips graze her; the move that consistently woke her up in a good mood. Apparently, the light caressing wasn’t enough so I gave her a real smooch and got Frenched because of my thoughtful gestures. I hadn’t felt anyway in particular about snail-smooches previous to meeting Stellara, but I was slowly becoming more fond of them the longer I spent with someone else’s tongue in my mouth.

 

Something I forgot to mention was the reason why I didn’t mind being surprised tongue-in-mouthed by Stell, and that was because her saliva actually tasted like something instead of nothing or halitosis like Brittany Brunswick. I hadn’t dated the gal, but I’d kissed her one too many times and nearly puked because of it. Her boyfriend was a much less lucky man than I because my love interest kind of tasted like Bull’s Eyes or Chu-ee’s as some people called them. I don’t know how to really go into detail other than that, but instead of getting morning breath, Stellara’s exhalations smelled like caramel and solid creme which was a pretty prominent plus to me. As the day went on, the scent and flavor were less noticeable, but it’s not like she pigged out on candy every night before bed. Come to think of it, the only dental hygiene I’d ever noticed her practice (And by extension, myself since I was with her most of the time) was using mouthwash, and boy. Lemme fuckin’ tell ya.

 

The least fun part of my morning was always that God-awful mouthwash. That crap? It tasted like a raw mint leaf and antibiotics got wasted on Molly and some kind of pain pill, banged for hours on end, scooped the mess out of the bed, and put that shit into a bottle. It wasn’t even a real liquid! It was more like a slime slash goop or something similar to a low-level enemy in a typical JRPG. I imagined that Slimes, as in the ones you stab, could have easily existed on farms in Avalesce as a whole or maybe just in Gerritt. My mind pictured blue gobs of life rolling around in grass-filled plains, leaving long stretches of slimey dirt behind them as they rolled along until someone with a steampunk vacuum came for the harvest. It made sense to me in a way, but when I’d shared the idea with Stellara, she just laughed because it was ridiculous.

 

Anyway, after the first kiss of the day and the abrupt interruption of a certain wet thing parting my lips, I got Stellara up and moving. She was a slow starter so I got the bath running and planned on hopping in first, but my Partner apparently didn’t feel like waiting in the slightest. Stell joined me just after I got my pants off, scaring me when I saw her come into my periphery. She giggled at my involuntary antics, rubbing a little sleep from her eyes. I couldn’t be mad since she hadn’t really done anything or probably even thought about spooking me, so I let it go and cracked a small smile, asking if she was going to join me again. That was when I learned that the betrothed (At least in Avalesce) were expected to bathe together, sleep together, and eat together, which was why there was no such thing as a one-man-tub in the country unless owned by a foreigner. I found it a little odd that a place with as many regressive tendencies as I’d seen so far would have such views on intimacy, but I chalked it up to a new planet and a new society, giving it little thought beyond what I already had.

 

Then I thought about the fact that Stellara said we were already engaged and I stopped thinking and started having a nosebleed. While Stell got me some bath tissue to mop up the mess, I couldn’t help but wonder what fucking anime I was in and what weeaboo-ass, otakun-ass, bitch-made, possible NEET drew my piss-poor-protagonist ass into it. Things didn’t seem much like an anime at the moment other than the fact that I’d picked up a devoted fiance immediately after getting to my first town. And the talking animal sidekick, that’s pretty weeb too. Other than that, I didn’t get any isekai superpowers and I didn’t think about the one that The Brit was supposed to have given me since I forgot all about it at the moment… Now that I think about it, I might just be a piece of weebaboo-osity without having watched anime in the past five years prior to my arrival on Septural. That’s a harrowing thought since I’ve read a good bit of Gantz, Garden of Eden, and whatever the shield-guy one was. All three of them had to do with either finding new land, dying, or being typecast as something just by existing, and I was really fucking hoping that my life wasn’t some kind of comic or something. Sure, weddings and stuff usually went pretty decent in the books and media I’d consumed over time, but there were also plenty that were ruined by outside influence. Namely, some demon or some shit, which I didn’t doubt existed on Septural because the world was butt-humping nuts, and I hump butts so I know how crazy it can get.

 

While all of that was going through my head, I was staring at Stellara and the space behind her like I was gazing into the abyss. Having just gotten out of an abusive relationship, I’d like to think that my hesitation to enter another with an infinitely more dangerous woman. Especially since that woman was literally lethal without trying, an alien, and possibly crazy. I tried not to let it cloud my judgment, but… Well, how do I put this one, Booksy? It’s like finding out that the Plain-Jane girl-next-door that turned into a sexual Empress after puberty was massacring your former classmates for a seven-figure a year job. I understood it, make no mistake. At the time, I accepted that I would never fully know Stellara complete struggle unless I met someone who could slash would truthfully tell me without punishment being dangled over their heads. The crazy thing was that I wasn’t as scared of Stellara as I was of being in another relationship period, which wasn’t making it easier to clarify what my subconscious was trying to tell me.

 

Maybe my Id was trying to tell my Ego that I was in danger, or maybe my Superego was trying to convince it that staying with her was a morally depraved choice, but either way, guilt, shame, and fear all struck and made me wonder why I was half-naked in front of a murdersome sex-slave. The cognitive dissonance was strong enough to make me miss the fact that my nose had stopped bleeding some time ago and that Stellara herself was trying to get my attention, noticeably worried about whatever expression was on my face. I realized where I was and what I was doing, but I was frozen in place, watching my Partner as she worried herself half to death. She eventually tried kissing me as I did her to wake her up, but that didn’t pull me out of the near-mindless stupor I was in. It took tears forming in those beautiful, almond-shaped eyes of her to bring me back. It also gave me a legitimate answer to my question, plus one I needed to ask.

 

“Stellara.”

 

Her face brightened. “Yes!? I mean, yes?”

 

“Who are you?”

 

She blinked. “... I am Stellara-”

 

“I don’t feel like that’s your real name.”

 

“... It’s not the name I was born with, no.” She said slowly, obviously not getting my sudden change in demeanor.

 

“Your real name was Inova, wasn’t it?”

 

“My birth name, yes.”

 

“How many people did Inova have to kill before Stellara was born?”

 

She saw my question for what it was. “... I wish we would change topics.”

 

“I’ll be stuck on this one for awhile. I’m sorry, Stellara, but if we’re betrothed as you say we are, then shouldn't I have the right to know?”

 

“Some things do not bear vocalization, Gatian.”

 

I shook my head. “Some, but not all. This isn’t one of the exceptions.”

 

“Can-”

 

“Stellara. I’ll say it now rather than later; We don’t move forward together unless we tackle everything as one. If you’re my partner, and I don’t mean my fucking slave, then we need to know more about each other. Even the painful things we want to hide.”

 

A touch of anger showed on her face. “That is easy for you to say, Gatian.”

 

“My ex-wife looked like your twin, but with black hair. The only things physically different about the two of you are your individual color schemes, hairstyles, and voices. Your eyes are a little narrower and you’re a little healthier overall, but you, Stellara Inova, are the spitting image of the woman who beat, bruised, abused and occasionally raped me. You look so much like the reason I killed myself it’s not remotely funny.” Stellara stared at me and I continued. “Mentally, you two are radically different, but sight is the main sense for a reason. I fully believe that people who look alike act alike outside of families. Knowing that you’re willing to hurt people to put yourself ahead makes me think that you’re exactly what I died from, and seeing you be so willing to put down something nearly harmless?” Her expression was stuck somewhere between ‘What.’ without a question mark ‘SHIT!’ with multiple exclamation points. “It’s scary, Stellara. Being with you is scary for reasons you can and can’t help, and I know that a few of my fears are irrational, but what’s stopping you from stabbing me in the back once you’re not a Partner? Or bound by Avalesch laws? If you look at this from my point of view, then you would’ve met a kind, pretty woman who was essentially your property. Then you would have seen that woman kill something so fast its blood wouldn’t have time to spill. After that, you would find out that she had killed people who had potentially been friends and allies just to become your slave. Do you even realize how crazy someone would have to be to continue this journey with someone like that?”

 

More tears formed in her eyes, but unlike earlier, these fell by the dozen. A heartbroken smile painted her lips, wavering as it was. “... You think I’m a monster…

 

I shook my head. “I think you’re a fallen angel clawing her way up from Hell.”

 

She barked out a laugh. “What is the difference between them? Your Earthen theology equates the two!”

 

“From what you’ve been told, yeah. Demons were supposed to be a byproduct of sin, but angels? Angels fell because of their own choices. Do you believe that you were born a murderer?”

 

“I may as well have been!” She shouted suddenly, her voice cracking. “I thought you were different, Gatian! I thought-”

 

“You think that I’m not willing to listen to you.” I cut in, making her shut up. “Why is that?”

 

“... Why would you?”

 

“Because in my eyes, you were my friend before you were a killer. I owe it to you to understand your motives and the feelings behind them. It’s not a debt, it’s a contractual obligation.”

 

Her silence carried on as I looked at her calmly until she broke it as cautiously as she could. “You… I’ve killed so many people, Gatian… Why… Why would you give me a chance knowing that?”

 

“Because people don’t always have a choice. You could’ve stayed an Angel outside of Heaven or you could fall and fight your way back. Convoluted, I know, but it’s how I see the situation.”

 

“... Then as my friend, please… Please don’t be angry with me.” She pleaded. “I-”

 

“I understand that your options were limited. How did following through with your choice make you feel?”

 

Stellara closed her eyes and said, “Badly.”

 

“What did you have to do to become a Partner?”

 

“You know I cannot tell you this, Gatian.”

 

“Why not?”

 

“It would… It would be… inappropriate.”

 

“You stick your tongue in my mouth every morning.”

 

“... Is that not what lovers do?”

 

“The kissing part? Yes. On Earth, the tongue is subtracted.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“I don’t mind. You kiss well.”

 

She touched her cheek, the ghost of a pained smile on her lips. “... You do not have to say that.”

 

“It’s true. We’re telling the truth right now.”

 

“... What if I was trained to kiss that well?”

 

“Then I’d say I’m sorry you had to pass a kissing test just to have to settle for my one-star self,” I said blandly.

 

She blushed. “... And if you were my first kiss?”

 

“Then thank you for the honor. I’ve never kissed someone as generally pleasant, aromatic, and tasty as you.”

 

“... Tasty?”

 

“Your tongue tastes like candy. I thought all Septurans or whatever you call yourselves tasted like something, honestly. It’d make sense.”

 

“How so?”

 

“Did you have to pass a kissing test?”

 

“No.” Her small smile was transparent. I’d really been her first kiss.

 

“... Are you a virgin?” I asked confusedly.

 

“I do not know the ‘virgin’ word.”

 

“‘To be untouched by man, or the status predating sexual intercourse’.”

 

“Sexual… Innercourse?”

 

“Lovemaking? Sex? Coitus? Penis-Vagina time?”

 

“... What?” She looked at me as if she had no idea what she was talking about, and I could see in her eyes that she was confused.

 

“... What sexual acts did you have to perform?” I asked in turn.

 

She hid her hands behind her back. “...”

 

“I’m going to judge you more for killin’ peoples than being forced to suck a wiener, Stella- Er, Stell.

 

“Stella?” My Partner tilted her head.

 

“Yeah, it’s an abbreviation of the name ‘Estelle’ from another country from my homeworld. It’s also a name in and of itself. Do you like it?”

 

“It sounds like a combination of my names.” She cracked a grin.

 

“Stella it is then, I guess.” Shrugging for extra nonchalance, I leveled a cool, calm look at her. “And the question you’re trying to dodge?”

 

Her face flushed all over again and this time she hid most of her face behind her ashen locks. “... It is very embarrassing to speak of, Gatian.”

 

“My ex-wife raped me from behind with a fake dick. Is it more embarrassing than that?”

 

She choked, coughed, and went over to the super-cool toilet for a little pre-breakfast purging. Little came out, but Stella? Shaking like a leaf in front of the bowl while I was watching on, damn-near completely nonplussed. It took me a few minutes to realize that there was something entirely wrong with the situation; I wasn’t acting anything like myself, nor did I feel a real reason to. When I actually gave it some thought, I came to one very simple conclusion; Stellara had shocked the rest of Gage into a coma and had woken Gatian up from the semi-consciousness he’d been in. Ruminating on that for a bit brought me to wondering if I’d just had enough of the deceit that surrounded me or the facade that everyone apparently wore, and I decided that I was right. I’d had enough of it. There were too many lies in my life, and if my Partner was going to lie to me, then I wasn't going to live it with her. Gatian bore no bullshit, and now I bore no bullshit, especially not from someone who was supposed to be loyal to me. I felt like I was being mean to Stellara to a certain point, but while my compassion was still there for her, my desire to know heavily outweighed my weakened empathy. Watching Stellara tremble left an impression on me to be sure, but it wasn’t anywhere near where it would’ve been the day before by my reckoning, and that wasn't something I liked.

 

I’d thought that Gatian was the person I needed to be since he was cool, smooth, funny, and useful whereas Gage was lame, awkward, boring, and generally useless outside of his one job. What I was thinking was wrong. I didn’t like the way I currently felt and all I did to change it was getting frustrated and angry before I approached Stella. When I laid a hand on her shoulder I felt a little more like me, so I knelt next to her. Well, I tried to do that, but as I was getting down I got tackled by a sympathetic gal with some ick in her mouth. Gage wouldn’t have known what to do, so I was a little relieved when I acted on instinct and just held her for a little bit. I eventually rolled over because we weren’t doing anything other than laying there (Not even crying, just laying), putting myself on top of someone who could change the positions easily. As I gazed down at Stellara, she looked up at me and evidently didn’t see whatever she was looking for.

 

“... You’re not sad? Or embarrassed?”

 

“I could always choose to be, but why would I? I spent my time being embarrassed in the hospital when my ass was still bleeding and the cop I talked to laughed in my face. I spent my time being embarrassed when I got turned out of every shelter for being a man. I spent a lot of time being ashamed. Don’t see what all the fuckin’ hubbub was about; shit sucked.”

 

“... My bottom was also taken.” She murmured. “The pain was… Bearable.” There was a pause. “I… Bleeding from such a place…

 

“Yeah, that hurt. So you’re an Anal Queen now, right?”

 

“What other types of Queen are there?”

 

“Sexually? You’ve got the Titty Tsarinas, Bootiful Beauties, Pussy Princesses, Anal Admirals, and Sex Ba-Bombs.” I made all of those up, but she didn’t have to know that, right?

 

“... That is confusing. What is Tsarina? And bootiful? What does that mean?” I waited for a sec as she glanced off to the side. “Also, what is ‘pussy’? I wish to know that as well.”

 

“A Tsarina is a Queen of a country called Russia, but they do votes last time I checked. Bootiful means to have a nice rear, or to be callipygian.” She nodded, still looking confused. She wasn’t wearing pants at the moment, so I just reached down and Trumped her, making Stellara gasp and grab my hand. “And last but most certainly not least,” I tapped her lips a couple of times, making her breathing hitch with each firm pat, “this is pussy. It’s one of the most valuable things on Earth, dontcha know?

 

She practically shrank underneath me until I let her go, the feeling of her lips..⚫

 

Shit! Sorry Booksy, it’ll dry, right? Maaan! Great, now there’s a fucking splotch of ink in my journal and… FUCK! Ugh… I’m not replacing you, J-Man, but having ink bleed through three pages? Fuck you and your weak-ass pages, dude… Whatever, I guess.

 

God, where was I? Oh yeah, drooling. And thinking of the lips that don’t usually speak, of course. I have to say with every ounce of my being and the scalding bucket of truth I keep nearby that Stella’s lower lips felt like her genitals had been drawn by someone. They’d been carved into living flesh as if she were a statue. I don’t know if Penis Envy feels anything like what I felt then, but goddamn was Stella’s pussy was great. Her lips were small and soft enough that they felt like warm marshmallow with a light smattering of fuzz. I almost wanted to take things a bit further, but the situation was all wrong for it. Ultimately, I decided against it with how alarmed she’d been at my touch.

 

I raised a brow. “What? Too ‘pure’ for even a little fondling?”

 

Why would you touch that!?” She mewled, making me shake with a barely-contained peal of laughter.

 

“Why wouldn’t? It’s one of the best things to touch on a woman.”

 

B-B-B-B-B-” She blubbered. I almost kissed her until I remembered the past five minutes, so I settled for sticking my finger in her nose.

 

I was surprised when she barely even flinched. “What are you trying to say?”

 

I wiggle the tip of my finger around and she squeezed her eyes shut. “Why are you so weird!?

 

“I could always-”

 

“N-No! I-I…” She shrank again, so I pulled my finger from her nose, concern gracing my emotions for what felt like the first time in forever, despite it only being like, ten to fifteen minutes at that point.

 

“Does it feel bad? I’m sorry, Stell, I-”

 

“It- It doesn’t…” If her face was any more flushed, she probably could’ve passed for the Devil’s unfortunately hot, virgin sister.

 

I kissed her nose because I wanted to put my lips on her. “You can say it, Stellara. I won’t do it again if you say so.”

 

From what I knew of her, the only thing Stellara was really anxious about was her past and my opinion, so I didn’t think she would have a hard time telling me ‘no’ on that one. “... It felt…

 

The brain started working again, crunching the numbers. Stella was still wearing a shirt, so I placed a hand on her breast and squeezed gently, making her squirm and give me some unnerved side-eye. “Is this bothering you?”

 

“Wh-Why are you doing that?”

 

“Most women say it feels good.”

 

She bit her bottom lip and said, “... Th-That’s not…”

 

I stopped. “Not true here? Again, sorry.”

 

Stellara wouldn’t meet my eye, but she did put her hand over mine and guide it back to where it had been. “... It’s… It’s true…

 

“Why are you nervous? I promise I won’t do anything to you at the first sign of ‘stop’.”

 

“... W-Women… W-Well… Choret women… From- From a young age, we… We are taught that…” If you pause anymore I’m gonna fuckin’ hit you. This is annoying. “... Well, you know…

 

“I don’t. I really don’t.” I rolled her so her back was flat on the ground, tilting her head so that she was facing me.

 

Despite that, she still looked away. “... Th-That place is woman’s sin…

 

Then let’s make a sinner out of you~” I growled goofily, trying to make myself sound ridiculous enough to not be taken seriously.

 

It worked, which was a surprise. When Stella giggled, it hit me that my sarcasm and backhanded jibes usually went over someone’s head or into their hearts. I guess the Gift of Gab is giving, huh? “I feel as though you are soon to tell me I am mistaken.”

 

“If you already know I’m about to say it, should I really waste my breath?” Wait, am I flirting? Well? The thought bashed me in the back of the head and put a smile on my face. Maybe this Gatian thing isn’t so bad.

 

Much to my surprise things continued to go well. “You could always save that breath for something special~”

 

It didn’t take a genius to know that she meant a kiss and kiss her I almost did. I had to agree with her; saving the oxygen I would’ve wasted on saying the obvious was a far better, literally sweet choice. Once we got some mouthwash, it took ten solid minutes of rolling around while making out and generally being goofy for me to see that I’d been duped. Stella had talked her way out of answers a couple of questions that I’d wanted answering, but even to this day, I don't regret leaving sleeping dogs to lie. I’d felt like I’d learned enough from what she did say and how she reacted to get the important part of her homicides out of what I’d seen rather than heard. The discomfort was one thing, but guilt and shame fill someone with an entirely different mojo, a different energy. I knew for a fact that Rachel stopped feeling guilty when the abuse became daily instead of just frequently, but on the same vein, I’d never seen somewhere with so much weight on their shoulders as I did with Stellara Inova. Even as I transitioned after the realization that lies made a coliseum around me wherever I went and masks were more realistic than I thought, I started paying more attention. Even with Yolanna the previous day, I think I started to feel the prickle of knowledge start settling in. I felt like I was understanding people now more than ever.

 

I also saw my previous life as the most pathetic, garbage, bullshit, asinine, synonym, and loosely similar word (I’m not mad right now, don’t look at me like that, book!) which kinda burned. It literally created a burning sensation in my chest that hurt enough to upset me, making me wish that it would just go away. I wanted to forget Gage Gauner then more than ever, so I lost myself with Stellara, giving myself over to the moment and the other. I wondered how my new, slightly jaded outlook on the world was going to affect my life for the most fleeting seconds of my life, wrapped up in the sprouting field of Puppy-Love. It was also known as Sucker-Love ‘round London in some contexts, but even with the dual meaning, I couldn’t help but find adequacy in the phrase. I mean, Stella had literally just suckered me into not asking about her kill count, so there’s that for evidence.

You fucking book; stop looking at me like that. We used to be such good friends, Booksy, what happened?

 

Whatever. Be like that. You’ll never get to smooch Stella, so ha! Speaking of that particular smooch, it ended around the time I hit the cabinet under the sink, but it wasn’t very bitter and far more sweet when we finally let each other go. The day was off to a good start in my books. Granted the day started just before noon and it was past lunch at that time, but a good start, dammit. It was a little ruined by the cold bath but that was fixed easily in an obvious way. I didn't make Stella drain the tub because I had an idea, and when my hand was nice and cold, I calmly approached her and gave her a hug. Kinda. I held her with my dry left arm and slid my hand under her strange, iridescent panties. Her yelp was great. What made it even better was the fact that I probably wouldn’t have done it predating my own personal brick wall. Adding still to the moment was the snug embrace from Stellara when she felt her cheek freezing, dripping wet. Hell, even getting bitten was a plus since she did it hard enough to put a smile on my face.

 

After I made Stella wet in the wrong way, I had to ask, “Hey, Stella?”

 

She waited until I moved my hand to answer. “That was cold!”

 

“Yeah, but how are babies made?”

 

She gave me a look. “They are stored in the hospital, are they not?”

 

I stared at her. “... Why would a woman’s stomach swell-”

 

“Oh, women eat twice as much when they prepare to have the baby so they may offer it as soft food when the child comes! Was this not taught to you on Earth?”

 

“... So when a Mommy and Daddy love each other very much or not at all, they do a special dance that has a lot of different poses.”

 

“I know this, Gatian. What does this have to do with baby-making?”

 

“If you put the Daddy’s… Beenis into the Mommy’s… empty honeypot, he might leave some honey behind.”

 

“Beenis? Honeypot?”

 

“It’s called a ‘penis’,” I patted myself, “and a vagina.” I pointed at her nether regions.

 

“... By honey, do you mean the white fluid or the watery one?”

 

“I mean the white one.”

 

Oh! That is not baby-making! That is the purification ritual through which women may become as fair as men, silly River Man!”

 

“How many babies does the average Choret woman have?”

 

“One. Why do you ask?”

 

“What happens before the wedding?”

 

“A purifier comes to the bride and flushes the blood from her sin so that she may be pure and receive the husband’s final blessing on their wedding night to bear a child. Sometimes the husband doesn’t give his blessing and a child comes anyway, but-”

 

“That’s… Stella, that’s so fucked up.” I couldn’t help but shake my head. “Nooo, that’s… Everything you know about conception is wrong, my gal. The purifier would be the father; not the husband.”

 

“... What?”

 

And so I explained the rest of the birds and the bees to Stella, affirmed that her vagina was perfectly holey- Er, holy, and educated her on the cuckolding ways of her Elders. She was fascinated to hear my take on things, even if she ultimately believed that River Person physiology was different than Choret anatomy. I then asked her if she had ever felt good like she had with me before and she admitted that she hadn’t, citing the sin of pleasure and adultery as the reason she’d never really let herself. The Chorech Core Convictions was a religious movement based on group rights more so than individual rights. Unlike the largest thing of that sort in Stalfisk, the Sin-Fall Sect of Din-Fal-Sin-Ke, the Church of Chorell (As the C.C.C. was colloquially called) taught that men descended from Un Jais Vita himself, ‘The Fertile One’. Apparently, women were formed from mud and gems, which I found kinda funny since Stella was ninety-nine percent gem and one percent platinum. When asked about her particular choice in religion, she had to think hard about her reply, so I told her to stop believing in something that meant she happened to be inherently inferior. I got a look for that, but then I pointed out all the things she could do better than me that I knew of, and that didn’t include the thing she was training me to do until she brought them up herself, a bit of confidence entering her voice.

 

It wasn’t a sure thing in the slightest, but I got Stella to stop seeing herself as a dirty, unclean thing to be ordered around, and got her on the track of ‘R-E-S-P-E-C-T, find out what it means to me!’. That would hopefully come to fruition before we got much further into the whole marriage thing, but I wasn’t too certain that I would be changing Stellara’s mind completely any time soon. I had to ask if there were other religions such as the one she’d come from and she told me that it was mostly a ‘conventionally complected’ thing to be religious. That got asked about too, in which I learned that the reason I’d been paired with Stellara was that we were close to the same complexion, which was a friend-factor in Avalesce. That being said, I was only considered ‘Normal’ because I was biracial. Mom being chocolatey and Dad being a vanilla swirl all his own meant that I came out a little on the ‘high-yella’ side, just a few shades darker than your average white guy. It honestly looked like I’d gotten a tan since I’d been on Septural, but it wasn’t much. Stellara’s cinnamon complexion was still a fair bit darker than myself, and she was sexier as a result. If I’d been lighter, I would have most likely gotten a native Gertt as a Partner or an enslaved Sotan. Any darker and I would have gotten a Denosian or a Toddtonite. It took some needling and a couple of assurances, but I learned that I could request a non-Human companion be brought from another Welcome Center with which I could start my journey. I was happy with Stella and told her as much while I was washing her back, being sat on in a very pleasant way.

 

After I was fully at attention along with the lower brain, Stella tried to prove just what her training had taught her to do, but I preferred to show her what my experiences had shown me, and boy. Boi. The taste of Stella? Once I actually managed to convince her that her lady parts had literally just been cleaned (By me) and were as prepared for being eaten (Also by me) as they were going to get, things were tasty from there. I used to enjoy cunnilingus when I had a choice in doing it, and that moment was no different. That combined with Stella's shyness and sensitivity made the experience that much better. I probably won’t go into detail since I don’t have a lock on this yet, but I will say that getting Stellara to spread her legs for more than a few seconds took some doing. She was also surprised to find that I was using my mouth for sex, but she enjoyed my endeavors, as far as I could tell. I needed to wash my face before I even really got start, my initial lick of her oddly protruding node garnering a splash or two that came from a torrential downpour. Stellara practically suffocated me with her tender bits after that, closing her thick, delectable, tasty thighs around my head and making me worry about my skull’s structural integrity. Apparently, Choret women were orgasm-friendly, though once I got away from the wetness, I saw another kind in Stella’s eyes that worried me, making me ask what was wrong. The woman got scared. Who’d have known? At least, who knew that climaxes could be scary when the situation was normal as far as I knew.

 

It took her a good while to get over her first orgasm, and she wouldn’t let me continue with her until she settled on how she felt about it. She didn’t like the feeling, oddly enough. It was just too intense, so I asked her if I could try again if I was gentler and Stella agreed with considerable hesitation. I decided against it since she just seemed so uncomfortable, but then again, she did let me play with her breasts for as long as I wanted since she said it was a lot milder than the other thing. Much to my surprise, Stellara was ‘producing’ as well as terribly sensitive with her chest, meaning that I got a mouthful of creme-flavored milk. She also soaked the sheets at a slower pace than before.

 

I forgot to mention that Felix was long gone by the time Stellara and I got back to the bedroom, having gone off to go and get some food and play with one of the employees that could tolerate him for a while. He came back while Stellara and I were in the middle of getting redressed, flying back into the room through the balcony and switching shapes mid-flight. He swooped in as a crow-thing, but landed as a cassa and bounded across the room quickly for some reason. Stellara still wasn’t fond of him, but in the week we’d spent together as a small group, we’d grown more like a family in that Stella and I were parents to Felix, except neither of us knew how to raise a child and I basically just let him do what he wanted as long as he wasn’t bothering people. That and his ohsum mindset was different than any Humans that I could’ve thought of, meaning that he was some kind of different altogether. That being said, when he skittered to a stop and started barking at the door to the balcony, Stellara yelled at him to shut up while I dove for my pistol, certain that he was being chased by something. The ear-shattering cry of a raptor sounded from outside and Felix hid under the bed.

 

With my gun in hand, I waited for the bird to show up, sure enough of the shot that I’d take. It wouldn’t be much more than fifteen or so feet if it were to come, but it never did and left me a little blue-balled with the bloodshed. I’d been expecting something to come and try to kill me so I could try my ‘Stop-Shot’, a function I’d had to program into the gun with dials and gauges. I’ll explain it later, but basically, I’d practiced using rubber-like and hard-ish bullets to just wound things instead of killing them, and the Stop-Shot was supposed to be a concussive blow that would render the target immobile for a few seconds, but I didn’t fully understand the magic behind it. Stellara and Yolanna both told me that magic wasn’t technically real on Septural, but I had a funny feeling at the time that told me they just called it something different. With my magical ‘non-magic’ gun at my side, I waited for the supposed predator to come and do something. I wasn’t really all that concerned about it when a little red bird landed on the banister-thing of the balcony. It let out a raptor cry and shuffled its wings. Then it left.

 

That was it.

 

Felix crawled out from under the bed and whimpered for some odd reason. Me being me, I just had to ask, “You alright, Felix? Sounded like someone wanted to talk to you.”

 

He changed back into the three-eyed crow so he could speak more easily. “She’s crazy! She wants to mate with me!”

 

“I know the feeling,” I said blandly. “Just tell her no.”

 

I have! She keeps pecking me!”

 

“Peck her back,” Stellara said simply.

 

“I can’t! What if she thinks I like her back!?”

 

“Tell her you’ll peck her eyes out and eat them if she doesn’t leave you alone.” She continued.

 

“... Do you think that would work?”

 

I gave Stella a look, but she didn’t know what I was getting at. “Why would you listen to the one that hits you all the time, Felix?”

 

“She doesn’t want me to like her. It’s pretty clear, honestly.” He answered plainly.

 

My Partner glared at him. “Then why do you insist on trying to get me to like you?”

 

“Because it makes you do that face right there and I like that face a lot.”

 

“You are pretty cute when you’re mad.” I chimed in.

 

She gave me a look as dirty as our sheets, just not with the same vibe. “You will never touch my breasts again.”

 

“That’s until I get you all hot and bothered again. I believe ‘begging’ is the term you’ll soon be using.”

 

Her confidence wavered. “Wh-While your sexual prowess is… slightly intimidating, I would like to think that-”

 

I stepped closer to her, getting some five-cheese alfredo together just in case my hearty Italiano-style marinara wasn’t saucy enough. “You’d like to think that I’d know when you lust for my touch?”

 

I swear to God, and I can’t make this up, but literal steam came out of her nose in a little puff. “You do not know when silence is the best course of action!”

 

“You don’t know the pleasure I can give you~” I winked.

 

“Stop trying to mate with each other and help me! Gosh, you Humans are so complicated!” Felix chirped irritably.

 

I gave him a look. “Why don’t you just talk to this bird? Or is she not another ohsum?”

 

“She’s just a corrin! A lowly common Gertt corrin!” He wailed. “Dad would eat me alive if he knew about this!”

 

“Damn.” It was the first time he’d mentioned someone other than myself as his caretaker, poking my heart in a soft spot. I wasn't offended, just surprised. “Dad sounds a bit harsh. Maybe you should just eat her?”

 

Stellara nodded. “Eating her would solve your problems.”

 

Felix looked between us. “The last corrin I ate made it burn to make dirt. I’m not doing that.”

 

“Then wound her.” Stella continued. “Women do not like being wounded.”

 

“They like being wound up, and running away from her is winding her up. Face her head-on in this crow-thing you have going on-” I started.

 

“I’m a sayer right now.” Felix cut in.

 

I rolled my eyes. “The thing is that you’re bigger than her in that form and probably more lethal. If you really don’t want to be bothered-”

 

“Wait, does that mean…”

 

I looked at him, unable to read ‘sayer’ emotions from body language. Birds don’t exactly exhibit outward emotion. “Does it mean what? I’m sorry if I sound cold, but I don’t really think anything should be trying to mate with you yet. You said you were still too young to breed, rightConfused” He nodded bird-fully. “Then this corrin or whatever is a pedophile and I don’t like pedophiles. I would kill it for you if I could get my hands on it.”

 

Stella let out a low whistle. “You are not going to like much of Teh se Bang. It has a very youth-centric sexual culture.”

 

I gave her a look. “We’ll change them too if we can. I’d rather end slavery first since we can do that here.” Giving my attention back to Felix, I said, “If you can’t make her leave you alone on your own, then suggest getting rid of her. Hate to be like that, but I don’t like it when people harass my friends. Especially for sex.”

 

“... What if I lead her here?” Felix asked nervously.

 

“I will shoot her,” Stella said, her tone brokering no arguments.

 

He took off without another word, leaving me to look at Stellara. “Are you sure you want to help Felix? It seems like…”

 

She raised a brow. “You said it yourself; this bird needs a swift death. I act on your own motives.”

 

“So it’s not about helping so much as doing my thing?”

 

“Do you find an issue with this?”

 

“It’s an honest kinda day, right?”

 

“We have shared much, yes.”

 

“Why don’t you like Felix?”

 

“He reminds me of my little brother and my little brother sold me into slavery,” Stellara answered darkly. “Once I find him, he will die, as is my right by the laws of Chorell. Felix is simply too much like him.”

 

“Someone like Felix, but not Felix himself, sold you?”

 

“Yes.”

 

I blinked. “Then fuck the music thing. We got a murder to commit.”

 

Stella tilted her head. “... I beg your pardon?”

 

“He fucked your entire life up. I’m going to end his entire life. Questions?”

 

“... Why would you fight my battle?”

 

“Betrothed.”

 

“Yes, and?”

 

“... What’s your duty as a wife again?”

 

“To make sure you live comfortably, find your success, and help you achieve your happiness.” She replied with a smile.

 

“And my duties as your husband?”

 

“... Give me a child?” Uncertainty crossed her face. “We are expected to procreate, which I would need your assistance with… Unless-”

 

“No, I’m sure we’ll procreate or something. I just want to know what I do for you in this relationship.”

 

“Um…” She picked up her bow and nocked an arrow, looking back to me when she was done. “Y-You could… Make music?”

 

“I’ll make a song for you, but I’ll also be a better man for you than you’re assuming I’ll be. My duties are pretty much the same as yours, Stella.”

 

“Really?”

 

I nodded. “Make you happy, support you, and protect you. If you want the full list, we can go over it another time.”

 

Stellara was about to say something when she whipped her entire body to face the balcony and loosed her arrow faster than I could figure out what she was doing. At her smirk, Felix said, “Wow! You’re really good with that stick-thrower!”

 

She chuckled and walked toward the balcony where red feathers were still falling. “I can hit a Avalesch drach with little difficulty. A corrin is no issue.”

 

Felix was on the floor of the balcony as a faulain, his favorite form. He licked his paw and rubbed his fiery orange ears, the similarities between his current color-scheme and the corrin being evident. “I’m glad you like me enough to not-” Stellara was about to cut him off before I cleared my throat. “What? Does she not like me at all?”

 

We both looked to the female of the group and she shrugged. “Rarely do my kind hold favor for any animal. You are many animals in one.”

 

“Oh…” Felix mewled softly. “I’ll… I’ll leave you alone, then.”

 

It was the first time Stella actually said something somewhat direct to Felix about her feelings toward him and she’d burned the bridge he’d tried to build. I wasn’t happy. “You also talk and you have magic, so I’d say you’re more like a changeling-thing than an animal.”

 

He looked at me, whiskers twitching. “Ohsums are related to changelings.”

 

“Really?” My Partner seemed surprised.

 

Felix looked at her too. “... Yes?”

 

“... Changelings are called ‘Somas’ in Chorell… They are revered as Demi-Gods…”

 

“What’s that?”

 

I took over. “Something really powerful and holy, according to Earth logic.” Stellara nodded. “It basically means that you’re important to Stella’s people.”

 

She sighed. “I have incurred much bad luck.”

 

Felix started hopping in place. “Oh! Oh! What if I don’t give you any bad luck!? I’ll be lucky, I promise!”

 

The look on her face was priceless. “I am not sure if you have much of a choice in the matter.”

 

“I totally do! Ohsums are supposed to grief people who give us trouble! Mom said so, but Dad said Mom was crazy because she was an ohsum.”

 

“What was your father?”

 

“I dunno, but he had a human form.”

 

I looked at Stella and she looked back at me. “... He’s half changeling, isn’t he?” I asked.

 

“Only changelings shapeshift with so much ease. He is either half changeling or lying.”

 

“I’m really not!” He yowled. “Dad liked to walk around as a Human when it was hot because you guys do the salt-water thing!”

 

“You mean sweat?” I asked.

 

“Yeah!”

 

Stellara sighed. “Felix…”

 

He looked at her in surprise. “You can pronounce that?”

 

I ignored his curious gaze and looked at Stellara with a furious vengeance, trying not to get sold out for lying. “Why, yes! She learned just this morning while I was helping her with some Common!”

 

She gave me a second’s peace before saying, “I did not like you enough to learn what to call you. Now is a different matter, Felix.”

 

“Wow. You’re mean.” He stopped hopping.

 

“And you are an ohsum. Are we going to state more obvious things?”

 

“No…”

 

I raised a hand. “I will. Stellara, you now have a reason to treat Felix with a spoonful of respect. Felix, try not to make Stella shoot you. Me? Gatian? Your job is the most important.” I looked at the vanity in the room, making my Partner sigh. “Keep shit moving, stop getting distracted, and go train. Got it?” I nodded, so I nodded back to me. “Good. Don’t be an idiot, son.”

 

“...” Stellara had come over as I was speaking. “Are you okay…?”

 

“Never better. Why?”

 

She puckered her lips. “Perhaps you would like a massage…? Or a drink to soothe your nerves?”

 

“... There’s been alcohol on this planet this entire time and you didn’t fucking tell me?”

 

“Gerritt is a dry province. There is, however, another kind of beverage that is known for its intoxicating qualities.”

 

“And we haven’t been getting intoxicated because…?”

 

“River People are prone to addiction within the first months of exiting their respective parts of the River of Rebirth. They also carry addictive natures long into their stays here if they live troublesome, exciting lives. It would be like giving your Earth alcohol to an abused child with a tongue for it.”

 

“Ow, I think.”

 

“I use the analogy loosely, of course.”

 

“Sure. I believe you.”

 

“... You do not believe me.” She sighed.

 

I poked her boob and made her squeak, which was super cute. “Aww, do it again!”

 

She blushed furiously and stomped her foot. “Are you going crazy or not?”

 

“If I’m going crazy, then you’re going cutesy.”

 

Stellara was not amused by my flirtations and proceeded to forcefully dress me, literally drag me down a flight of stairs, and whack me with a foam sword for the duration of our day’s training. Felix joined us for once, and it honestly felt like more friendly tormenting than abuse. The stairs were hard to navigate backward and all, but my Partner being true to her word hadn’t caused me much if any noticeable pain at all. Other than the whacking. That started to smart after awhile, but unlike Rachel, she aimed for places that were able to take the abuse for the most part. My triceps and thighs were abused left and right, but it took a good hour for them to start hurting. Honestly, it was more from me blocking oddly and trying to run around and not get hit, but Stellara still made it clear that she wasn’t ‘cute’. For some odd reason, she had an abhorrent aversion to the word, and it wasn’t attached to any emotional trauma. She just hated being called cute, and I wouldn’t stop because she was being so cute. So very cute. Her pouty, frustrated, ‘I’m mad at you, but I kinda don’t wanna be’ expression was adorable and tickled my heart in all the right ways.

 

She didn’t end up wearing herself out; Quite the opposite, in fact. I was the one who fell to the ground in a giggling heap once my legs gave out and Stella refused to strike a fallen foe, even if he was laughing at her, apparently. “Ah~ Ah fuck! That- That was grrreat!” I chuckled achingly. Hiccups hurt after awhile, and I’d had them for the final portion of my Partner’s ‘assault’.

 

She huffed like an adult. “You are a man-child.”

 

“With complex emotions and ‘intimidating sexual prowess’, right?” I smiled up at her.

 

Stella glared back down, her smile ruining the effect. And the blush. “Stop before I beat you more.”

 

A cleared throat garnered our attention, along with the interruption of the guy who cleared his throat. “If you two are quite finished…?”

 

I rolled over and let Stellara help me to my feet, not taking my eyes off of the somewhat official-looking figure. His suit was an array of tacky, gaudy, eye-sore-inducing patterns that made it hurt to look at him with plaid, squares, stripes (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and a few on the z-axis as well somehow.), as well as a polka-dotted vest. Pink and brown, of course. The portly man wore mutton-chops and a ballcap for some odd reason along with bright, reflective neon yellow shoes that visibly brightened the floor around him. Other than looking like an utter kook, he also appeared to be waiting for something if his pocket-watch was anything to go by. He snapped it shut once he had our attention, coming over posthaste.

 

“Sorry, fella. Didn’t mean to keep you waiting,” I said warily, eyeing him carefully.

 

He flashed me a golden smile, and I do mean golden rather literally. “Ah, it’s nothing, my dear River Man. Just a bit of business I’d prefer to attend to at the earliest possible convenience, if it’s no trouble.”

 

I looked at Stellara and back to the man, seeing no reason not to talk for a bit. “I have time. How can I help?”

 

He produced a bar of stone-like stuff, split down the middle that he proceeded to pull apart, revealing a tablet-like see-through screen that was far beyond the technology I’d seen to date. “Now, I’ve traced a supernatural being or two in my life-”

 

“I beg your forgiveness and all,” I said, being as insincere as possible, “but I don’t believe you’ve introduced yourself.”

 

“How rude of me!” Do these people not get social cues or something? He smiled as I thought poorly of him, his first impression already pretty garbage. “My name it Toddington Todderson Toddley Toddman Toddings-Toddtonington but most people call me Steve.”

 

I looked that man dead in the eye and asked, “Why don’t they call you Todd?”

 

And he looked right back at me, not a doubt in his fucking tone as he replied, “Why would they?”

 

I wanted to slap him so bad, but that was Gatian getting out of hand. I reeled him in and inquired about something else. “May I call you Todd?”

 

The look he gave me almost ended the conversation. “... I suppose you may, though I haven’t the faintest as to why you would.”

 

“Thanks, guy. I-”

 

“Who is ‘Guy’?” I’m finna deck you.

 

“Todd, why are you here?” I asked, smiling through Gatian’s fury.

 

In his defense, Toddlingtonsman probably hadn’t known the level of enjoyment I was getting out of my time with Stella and he cut to the chase when asked. “Well, I am certainly glad that you asked! As I was saying before, I am what we Lasponians call ‘Alta-fae Arantas’, which translates to ‘Supernatural Observers’-”

 

“No, it does not. ‘Arantas’ translates to ‘Purifier’, and you are clearly Kinfause.” Stellara cut in sharply. “What do you want with Gatian?”

 

His smile was greasier than his chops. “Why, would you accuse me of hunting him, perhaps?”

 

“This sword may be for sparring, but I am still quite capable of killing you.” She answered, making me take a step away.

 

Make no mistake, it wasn’t because I was scared of her. No, she was going to need space to move and I would only slow her down. I was also not terribly fond of the look on Todd’s face, sunny as it was. “Oh? Would your Partner happen to be of interest to me?” He asked plainly.

 

I didn’t like him. I really just wanted him to leave, so I said, “Hey pal. Why don’t you just leave us alone?

 

A familiar glassiness came over his eyes as if he’d just finished a doobie. “... Sure. Why should I, though?”

 

Because there’s no supernatural shit here. Just a River guy and his Partner.”

 

“Right. A River guy and his Partner.” He smiled, turned around, and he waddled away (waddle-waddle-waddle).

 

When he was gone, I snorted. “Well, that was easy.”

 

“... Gatian?” Stellara asked fearfully.

 

I looked at her. “What’s wrong, Stells?”

 

The longer I looked at her, the more I came to realize she wasn’t afraid of something. She was afraid of me. “... You’re a Devil-Tongue…

 

“Devilishly handsome or-”

 

Stellara bolted and Felix was soon after her, both of them abandoning me completely. I laughed it off until I got to an empty room with our supplies strewn just about everywhere. Plenty of essentials were missing as well as Stellara’s weapons, selected armor, and clothes. There wasn’t much time in between me realizing I’d just been ditched and the fact that I had a lot more power than I’d thought I had. Between that crushing fact and thereality I was facing now and for the future, I didn’t even have the energy to cry about it. I’d been abandoned again by someone I’d just shared my body with. She’d whacked me for hours and I’d let her, only to have her leave when she thought I was scary. Chance after chance and her story only got darker, but I do one thing...

 

My friends left me because they thought I was forcing them to be with me…

 

You’re just a book, Journal.

 

It’s not the same. It wasn’t then and it isn’t now. Life changes too fast..

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Ringo Farr

Bio: Rewrites in progress; Pm for specifics, otherwise enjoy!

Ringtail is the Panda, I'm just the guy that translates for him. Call me Ringo.

Ringtail takes donations of bamboo, eggs, chocolate crickets, and constructive criticism. Don't be mean; I hate swearing while talking to the little guy. Especially since the swear jar gets expensive and Ringtail's a cheap fucker.

Yes, Ringtail is endangered. No, he is not a pet, and it's demeaning that you would call a sentient creature such a thing, even if his sapience is lacking.

No, I, Ringo, am not a furry. Ringtail is his own fuzzball, I have skin and I like other people that have skin.

If you need to contact me or Ringtail, PM's and Discord are the way to go. Ringtail#4665

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