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“Why doesn’t it work?” Tavia asked as she stared at the cube in her hand.

The pale blue alther stained her hand with dust, leaving her finger tips the color of the sky as she turned the cube over.

Alvis’s focus returned and he gave a smirk, and then shrugged.

“If I knew that, I’d have fixed it by now. Most people experience small fluctuations in the strength of their auras at certain points in the lives. It’s not usually a big deal, you might feel sick or dizzy, but it’s not enough to cause any kind of problems. This device is intended to help people with more turbulent auric fluctuations by locking the strength of their aura to one consistent level.”

“So this version is better than the last one?”

Alvis grimaced and turned away.

“I won’t know for sure until I test it, but… the previous versions could only establish a connection with an aura, they couldn’t actually affect it.”

Tavia looked over at the device, but it was already covered in dust, and the engravings were too hard to make out. Even if she’d been able to see them though, it wasn’t as if she’d understand what she saw. The cube aside, the really strange thing was that Alvis had actually interrupted his work to explain it to Tavia— maybe he was just that passionate about the project.

She struggled to find another question she could ask, one that would keep the conversation going, but she didn’t understand enough to even guess at what she could ask about. Her hesitation dragged on, and Alvis lost interest, beginning to sort through the documents with an air of finality.
She stared at his back, wondering if asking about his family affairs would be prying too much. His mother was involved with the Demis, somehow, and their relationship was far from cordial. In the end though, it was a question she wasn’t quite brave enough to broach just to alleviate a bit of the tedium of her job.

At least for a few minutes he’d been willing to communicate with her like she was a real human being and not the waste of space he constantly professed her to be. If only he could manage to sustain that all the time.

She sent a glance towards the door, remembering that Evos was waiting on the far side of it. Maybe she should let him in just to frustrate Alvis. The thought made her smile for a short moment, but then she shook her head. No, Alvis would just end up taking his frustration out on them both — there was no need to subject Evos to that. She needed to handle his attitude herself.

Tavia returned to her cleaning, and by the time the sun had begun to dip below the city skyline, the room began to actually look half decent. At the very least, she didn’t get that gritty texture, like sand had been scattered across the floor, underfoot with every step she took. She’d been at it for hours, and though cleaning such a mess actually felt rather refreshing, it was hard to be relieved when she knew she’d be doing it all over again in a few days.

As the light coming through the windows dimmed, Alvis tore his focus free from his work. The cube was still being engraved, but he had already sketched out plans for possible improvements, spreading them out all over the recently cleared countertops.

“I guess that’s enough for today,” he said with a yawn and stretch.

“Great, then I’m free to leave?” Tavia asked.

He gave an absent minded nod, and Tavia immediately began putting away her limited selection of cleaning supplies. A broom, a dustpan, and trash bin were her only tools currently, and they sat awkwardly in a corner of the room, out of place and neglected.

Alvis didn’t even bother doing any kind of cleaning up after himself. He just left his papers scattered about and grabbed his book bag before heading for the door. He stepped out, waiting just long enough for Tavia to escape with her things through the door before he turned to lock it.

“You’re done?”

Evos was leaning against the wall, but otherwise didn’t show any sign that he’d been waiting for hours outside. Night was falling, and the campus was lit by strings of lights suspended on posts set every few yards along the paths. It led to the pathways being well lit, but the darkness beyond them was dark and heavy. The moment Alvis spotted him, his lip curled up and he shook his head.

“What are you, a dog?” Alvis snapped. “Have you been waiting here this whole time?”

Evos narrowed his eyes, bristling at Alvis’s hostile attitude. His normal hesitation to speak to others blown away by Alvis’s tone.

“What I do with my time is up to me,” he said. “You could just let me in if it bothers you.”

“No. And if you’re student here, shouldn’t you have a life of your own? Why are you following her around like a creep?”

Alvis pointed at Tavia, and she frowned. Why did he make it sound like he was protecting her?

Even if there was a problem, she wouldn’t want the weak looking Alvis being her defender. That aside, the bigger issue here was that Alvis didn’t seem convinced Evos was really a student. It wasn’t as if Avel’lier had a uniform or anything though, so there shouldn’t have been anything to give it away.

“Just drop it,” she said, hoping they could change the subject. “Evos isn’t bothering you, and he’s not really wasting his time here.”

Alvis glared at Tavia this time, but in the end, he just didn’t care enough to actually put any effort into the argument.

“Let’s just go,” he muttered, but before he could storm off into the growing darkness of night a voice filled with hostility, reached them out of the darkness beyond the strands of lights.

“I’m afraid you aren’t going to be going anywhere just yet, Alvis Schwann.”

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A note from GracelessLiar

If you're in the States, have a great Thanksgiving! If you aren't, then have a plain ol' good couple of days till I see you next!


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