|Aria Shen ~ Head Counselor of Astraeus|
"Set your course by the stars, not by the light of every passing ship."
|Hunkered down between the assisted pull-up machine and a rack of free weights, Aria leaned back against the wall of the Weight Room. Facing the opposite mirror wall, she blearily observed the gentle movement of her flyaway hairs whenever the rotating fan in the corner blew in her direction. Her workout had been excellent but exhausting, as clearly shown by her mirror image's weariness of expression and shortness of breath. Unwilling to take a nap so early in the morning, Aria resorted to sipping on coffee she had stowed in a Thermos at breakfast in case she needed a caffeinated pick-me-up during the day. She had never particularly liked coffee--it was too bitter for her tastes, and no amount of sugar or cream could make up for it--but recently she had learned to tolerate bitterness to some degree. Idly listening to the hum of the fan and the ticking of the weight room's mechanical clock, Aria rested, listless.|
|Owned by: Nata ~ Posted on: 19:06, October 9, 2017 (UTC)|
Aria: After a strenuous workout early in the morning, Aria had hoped that she would feel more awake and energized during the day. However, she had immediately felt completely drained of energy, a sensation which even drinking alarming amounts of coffee did nothing to remedy. Still exhausted but now unable to fall asleep, Aria did her best to carry out her daily routine despite her lethargy. And perhaps therein lay the answer: routine. Everything she did lately--organizing cabin events, training her fighting abilities, studying for her degree--was blurring together into a mindless cycle. Many of her friends had already left Camp, so for the past few months Aria hadn't even been able to rely upon her unruly companions' antics to draw her out of her ruts and onto their adventures. What was the point of living such a mundane life? Would rejoining mortal society even bring her the same enjoyment it once had? Burying those depressing thoughts for later, Aria shook her head and focused on how she could escape her funk. If routine was the cause of her torpor, then why not see if breaking her routine would have an effect?
Nyxil: Nyxil was uncharacteristically passive for the rest of the day after he got back from his fight. Obviously there'd been one - one look at him made that much clear, what with how f*cked he looked. Like, sure, "ragged" would be a perfect description of him any day of the week. But now the term was just unrealistic. He was... yeah. F*cked. Maybe that was why everybody had steered clear of him when he got back. Nobody interrupted him on his way to the forest. So he'd spent basically the whole day there, the woods came to a cliff overlooking Long Island Sound. The sun was just hiding itself under the horizon. Stars were starting to peek through the orange-to-purple whatever above. Nyxil - lying down with legs up on a tree and head down over the cliff's edge - flipped them off. Then he realized he'd done it with his cigarette hand, groaned, took a long draw, and used the other instead.
Aria: Aria seldom went for nighttime walks around Camp anymore. When she had been a new camper, she had frequently explored the campgrounds at dusk, illuminated by light from first the setting sun and then her father's starry realm. On some nights she would meet new friends along new paths, while on others she would rendezvous with her old friends at other cabins or along the beach or in the woods. Now that she considered it, a walk through the woods would both break her routine and provide a tranquil place to mull over her thoughts. In no time Aria had hiked deep into the woods, surrounding herself with old-growth trees and overgrown paths. Soon she arrived at a cliffside clearing--one already occupied by a stranger who was precariously perched atop the edge of the cliff. He was smoking a cigarette, a habit which Aria generally disliked, but based on his body language and facial expression, it looked like he really needed that cigarette, so Aria held her tongue. She wasn't about to pester someone who looked like he'd been dragged to Tartarus and back about making healthy decisions. Keeping a respectful distance away from the stranger, Aria settled down at the edge of the cliff, watching the sea of vibrant colors above settle into a soothing navy blue.
Nyxil: As much as he was literally in the process of cursing the night, it did give him strengths. Or, not as-much-as. That was in part the reason he was cursing it in the first place. Either way, as the daylight gave, a sixth sense woke in him. Rustling leaves were a background static now alive in his head, their details just as obscure as the shshsh they made in the breeze. Waves below were something similar, but more surging. Grass was the opposite. Aria, on the other hand, stood out. People blended together to him when they were in groups, or cities, same as leaves and waves and grass. Not out here, though. Her stillness was unique. Nyxil tried to make out her features without looking - as he always did, since it'd probably work one day - but gave up and looked over at her. ... Oh. Constellation chick. "Stars are gay," he said. It was so matter of fact, that, coupled with the fact that he was back to flipping the sky the bird again, it was hard to tell if he'd event meant it for her to hear.
Aria: When the breeze wafted cigarette smoke in her direction, Aria discreetly used her gravity powers to draw the smoke away from her. She settled back against a tree a few meters back from the cliff, conserving her energy. Such a light gravity field would only affect small particles in the air and wouldn't drain her powers that quickly, but she was sufficiently tired that it would become a nuisance soon enough. As the sky darkened, Aria's field of vision expanded until she could see the stranger's face more clearly. He looked familiar--yes, he was one of the people who had been roped into James' and Nin's giant arena brawls. Aria remembered talking to him in the midst of conducting damage control during one of those free-for-alls. She hadn't seen him much around Camp besides that... did he just say that stars were gay? Aria chuckled, unoffended by the remark but surprised at the suddenness of the declaration. "You're gay," she eloquently retorted, no force or insult behind the words. "If you keep moving your fingers like that, they'll get stuck in that position," she joked, halfheartedly bantering with the not-quite stranger.
Nyxil: He laughed softly. Nyxil always looked tired, but today he actually felt it. He hated feeling tired. "That would be... so freaking convenient," he mused. Nyxil had seen Aria's face around camp a couple times, but it wasn't until he really looked that she started reminding him of Cal. He couldn't remember if Astraeus and Asteria were actually related. Something to check out. He lowered his arm slowly and turned his attention to the sunset. Upside down it painted an even worse message - like all the light was climbing away to someplace beyond, with the whole world pinning him down where he couldn't follow. Instead he was just left hanging over an abyss full of... more f*cking stars. "Really, though, screw stars. They suck. This whole night business, it's- it's..." He trailed off. He didn't know exactly what he was thinking, and the only worthy explanation he could think of was giving up and settling on his cig.
Aria: The distinctive thorns in the quasi-stranger's hair combined with his particular personality (a contemplative soul masked by a mien of apathy and weariness) should have made it a piece of cake for Aria to remember his name, but it had been a hectic time when he first introduced himself, and she had always been better at recalling faces than names. Nick? Nixon? No, it had been a more unusual name--Nyxil? Aria had mistaken him for a new camper then, and she hadn't even seen him around Camp after their first encounter until now. "What did the stars ever do to you, my dude?" she asked, staring at the twinkling dots of light reflected onto the Sound. "They're too far away to really affect people on Earth. Unless you're talking about the Sun or about my constellation constructs from that big arena battle, that is," Aria amended, remembering how Nyxil had extinguished her constructs in a wave of darkness the last time they'd met. "You don't have to answer if you don't want to. Personally, I'm okay with the night. Everything's quieter, and I can see things that the daylight always covers up. Relaxing things like stars, meteors, the ocean beneath the moonlight--things like that. There's always something different about the world when it's dark outside. But I know not everyone thinks the same way I do about nighttime. From one night god's kid to another, what's the reason behind your take?" Aria asked quietly, closing her eyes. Around her, the last of the summer's crickets chirped, and the beginnings of an autumn breeze stirred the trees.
Nyxil: "Too much... time to think," Nyxil said slowly. This was far from the first night he spent staring at the sky, trying to drown out the starlight with one little ember of his own. He wove his cigarette between his fingers. "Night used to be a kind of freedom, yeah. That's how I always felt about it. Years and years, I'd do everything I could not to waste it sleeping. Less clutter. Less noise. Now all that just grates on me though. For demigods, they get to know that the sun, or the stars, or storms, or the sea, or whatever - those things are their parent's domain. Nyx is something, different though. So that's one part of it," he sighed. "The night sky up there, it's literally her. No matter what, I'm guaranteed a daily reminder that she's right there in full view of me, and doesn't give a damn what she did." He hesitated, realizing that he'd raised a question he didn't want to answer. "She, uh. Yeah, "mother" and I aren't on speaking terms right now. Not that we've ever been," he mumbled.
Aria: The daughter of Astraeus exhaled gently and opened her eyes again. Aria wasn't always the most socially perceptive kid around, especially during moments of exhaustion, but something about the strangeness of the encounter and the mournfulness of her surroundings made her feel like asking too many questions would shatter her immersion in the moment. Perhaps it was better to let the conversation ebb and flow naturally, like the waters of the Sound below. "Can't say I've been through something similar," she spoke after a few moments. "I guess I'm pretty darn lucky to have Astraeus as a dad. He doesn't go out of his way to meet with his kids, but he hasn't wronged any of us as far as I know. This might be sacrilegious to say, but even though he was on the 'evil' side of the Titanomachy, my dad seems to have been a lot nicer than some of the Olympians." Aria waited to see if Zeus would smite her with a lightning bolt or if Hera would attack her with an angry peacock for her blasphemous words, but when the moment passed and she hadn't been dismembered, she figured she was safe for now. Maybe she should change the topic away from the gods, just in case they were still listening. "Hey, is there a reason you're never at Camp anymore?" Aria blurted the first question that came to mind, her brain-to-mouth filter steadily disappearing as she grew more tired.
Nyxil: "Hm?" He laughed softly, a smirk not visible from how he was laying, but its amusement audible in his voice. "Well, how long do you plan on staying in here? There's shit to do."
Aria: The son of Nyx didn't like talking about himself much, Aria surmised. That was perfectly fine by her. For better or for worse, Aria was an open book, always willing to share or to listen. "I'm transferring to a full-time university next fall," she admitted, something she had only told her own lieutenant counselor so far. "Ever since I first came here, I've been going to the cafe in town to complete my general education requirements at an online college. Free Internet at the cost of possible monster attacks, which really isn't a bad deal because it gives me practice fighting monsters. Keeps things interesting, y'know," she laughed. "I don't think the demigod world has much for me in the future, to be honest. I've always wanted to become an astronaut, and the only way I can do that is by studying in a mortal university." Aria paused and mulled over her next words. "It's not a particularly popular opinion around here, but I view Camp as a place where demigods can learn the skills they need to rejoin mortal society, not as a place for us to form an isolated, permanent half-blood community. Like you said, 'there's shit to do.' All the famous scholars and ancient heroes who were demigods managed to contribute to mortal society despite dealing with monster attacks, so we also should be able to if we want to. Still, I'm not sure I'll even be happy to rejoin the mortal world, now that I've been here for so long. Call me sentimental, but no matter how tired of Camp I get, I'll still miss it at least a little."
Nyxil: Nyxil shook his head lightly. His hair shifted a bit, and he could feel the weight of his laurels tugging down. There was probably a metaphor in that fact somewhere, and it pissed him off. A lot of things did that. Including that fact itself. He and Aria had a similar conversation that first time they met too, he remembered. They seemed to agree on things, in critically different ways. They both fought at the arena - she because she didn't want anyone to drop dead that night, but he because he didn't want anyone to drop dead all the nights after. It all came back to the same thing for him. He bit his tongue and started flitting his gaze around, the obvious way that people do when their thoughts are rebounding. Is that a way to describe things? Fuck. He felt so out of it, but so... Gods. It was-- It was like the feeling of paralysis from a sudden shock. Suddenly you can't move, but really, no, you're tensing up, you're twitching in ways that hurt and you can't control it, it's moving, but. His cigarette slipped from loose fingers. "I don't get it," he said slowly. His eyes were trained on the sunset, but he wasn't thinking of that anymore. He couldn't say it - or even think of it, more than just subconsciously - but he at some level hoped that Aria would help him. The hell does that even mean? It's his own fault.
Aria: From her perspective Aria couldn't see Nyxil's face, but she could see his shoulders tense up and his cigarette fall after she spoke. Had she touched a nerve? Crap. Aria had been trying to keep the conversation as inoffensive as possible while broaching some sensitive topics, but maybe in her weariness she had misspoken. Shrugging aside her own fatigue in favor of concern (Nyxil seemed like the kind of guy to vehemently reject pity, but Aria firmly believed concern to be a sign of caring, not of pity), she physically turned towards her companion and reflected on his comment. What didn't he get? Aria's simultaneous fondness and tiredness for Camp? No, from what she had seen of Nyxil, he understood emotional complexities like that. Though she knew little of his past both at and away from Camp, she could infer that it hadn't been an entirely happy one. Perhaps he didn't get why Aria dreamed of becoming an astronaut--or not specifically why she wanted to be an astronaut, but why she had such high hopes for the distant future when most demigods were fated for short and tragic lives? Did Nyxil even have any dreams for his own future? Aria had always been an incorrigible dreamer, eager to explore joyful possibilities, constantly looking up at the cosmos with wonder, but Nyxil looked at the same night sky with uneasiness and frustration. Even in moments of bone-deep weariness like Aria was currently experiencing, her dream was strong enough to convince her to keep going, to keep looking up--the thought that Nyxil might not have anything like that only strengthened her conviction to talk it through with him. "Is there anything I can do to help you 'get it'?" Aria asked, unsure of what Nyxil needed, uncertain she was saying the right words, but wholeheartedly determined to help out her newfound friend.
Nyxil: Nyxil sighed, gritting his teeth and closing his eyes. The beach in L.A., the hospital in New York, the little house in Canada. Camp. A cramped townhouse in Detroit, a small town in Colorado... So many chances. He scraped together the composure to sit up, head on his arms on his knees, but didn't actually meet Aria's eyes. Instead he just stared at the grass. That wasn't something unusual, granted - eye contact with random people bothered him - and he wore the weary look well. Another thing that bothered him. "Look, I'm sorry. You're a, good person I guess?" What a weird thing to say. "I'll try not to go all zoned out on you anymore, it's not like me. I guess it's just...," he started. The words still weren't forming coherenetly, so he groaned and decided to just talk. It was a good solution a lot of the time. "I don't know, you seem so convinced that you can have a normal life, like, at all. And that doesn't... click with me. Everyone else in camp is either a f***ing idiot, that is determined to deny reality by not training and could probably be killed by a strong breeze, or is a f***ing psycopath, that thinks screaming incoherent murder at preteens is 'cool' and has even more dramatic one-liners about death and fear of the dark or whatever than a death metal concert." He shrugged, looking up at Aria for a moment. "You're not like that, though. You have a... You have a handle on your life, I guess. And that's awesome. Do you, really. Be an astronaut. That sounds fucking cool. Fuckin', hundred percent. I support that." He genuinely laughed. It didn't last, though. "I just know that... that I can't. I can't do that shit." That last sentence was muffled as he buried his head in his sleeves.
Aria: As the words spilled from Nyxil's mouth, Aria listened, tired but attentive. When she dropped the faint gravity field she had set up against cigarette smoke, a faint autumn breeze drifted through, bringing along the faint scent of woodsmoke and pine. Saturn, the astrological sign of earthly limitations, glowed brightly overhead as night fell. Although Aria was not superstitious by any means, she could appreciate the poetic symbolism of her father's art. Saturn represented fear and restriction--Nyxil believed that living a normal life was beyond his grasp--but it also stood for self-control and worldly experience, both of which Nyxil possessed in abundance. He had a strong grasp of his physical limitations in fights, yet he undervalued his personal capabilities, his potential to forge a happy future in spite of his past. "Thanks, man," she smiled, "and no need to apologize; you didn't do anything wrong." Aria paused. "Y'know, I have to agree and disagree with you about the other kids at Camp," she said, thinking of her reckless but endearing friends. She hadn't seen them in ages and could only hope they were doing alright. "I'm worried about them. Maybe it's not in my place to be so concerned, but I don't want anyone to suffer unnecessarily if I can help it," Aria sighed. "Some of them are so hard-headed that they'll only learn anything through firsthand experience, though, which isn't always pleasant or even, well, survivable. No wonder why so many demigods never make it to 30," she said quietly, looking down at the rippling stars reflected on the Sound.
"But," Aria continued, looking back up at Nyxil's hunched-over form, "you, my dude, aren't the same as them either. You've fought through gods-know-what on your own and have far more experience surviving outside of Camp than some demigods ever will. And even though you always look like you've been dragged out of a fight whenever I see you, I can tell you're not one of those maniacs who lives only to 'bathe in the blood of your enemies' or anything like that. You're introspective. You care a lot more about keeping yourself and others safe than you realize, if the way you're talking now and the way you acted back in the arena battle are any indication." Making a spontaneous decision with her sleep-deprived brain, Aria used her powers to float closer to the edge of the cliff, nearer to Nyxil's spot on the ground. "As for living a normal life, screw normalcy. It's overrated," she said forcefully. "Being 'normal' isn't for everyone. But if you do want the option to live a moderately exciting and relatively fulfilling life, then you've already got it." Aria glanced up at the crown of thorns digging into Nyxil's sleeves. "I apologize if I'm making you uncomfortable again. Let me know and I'll stop whatever I'm doing." Continuing, she said, "I know basically nothing about your past or about any motivations you have as a result of your past, but truthfully? Your future doesn't have a lot to do with your past. What's already happened can't be changed, but what you do now has a much bigger impact on what will happen than anything that's already happened, cliche as that might sound. You might not be able to live a normal life right now, but if you truly want to have one in the future, you can take the first steps towards it at any time, better now than later." Seeing no response in Nyxil's body language, Aria grew quiet again, praying she wasn't pushing him further away. "Is there something you're looking forward to in the future? It can be anything, big or small. No worries if you don't have anything specific in mind, either."
Nyxil: "... Not really, no." He forced himself to look up again, eyes back on the stars. "I appreciate that you're trying to help, but, really. I'm not as good a person as you're acting like I am." There's a difference between wanting to keep people safe and actually doing it, he thought to himself. It made him sick. "I've had the chances. To have something 'normal', or whatever. But that's- that's- not-," he cut off, trying to steady his shaky breaths. After a moment he continued with a sigh, "The world like that doesn't make sense to me. I've had the chances. I can't deal with them. Fucksake, how fucking pathetic do you have to be to be afraid of just living in a goddamn house? Who the fuck gets literally terrified of just seeing their girlfriend?! What kind of fucking worthless person would rather abandon their godson and their-"
For a split second Nyxil was shadows. There was no warning - out of nowhere an explosion of cold wind shook the grass and the shadows of the trees flickered unnaturally. But a heartbeat later it was over, leaving nothing but a chill in the air and some wispy shadow-mist around Nyxil. He was pale now. With a sigh he buried his face again.
Aria: "Yes, you've had chances to be 'normal,' but you'll continue to have chances for as long as you need them. Even if you didn't take those opportunities in the past, you can still seize them in the future whenever you're ready to try again. You may be imperfect, but you aren't something that needs to be 'fixed.' There's nothing permanently broken about you, dude. And if you don't fit the definition of 'normal,' that doesn't mean you're horrible or worthless or unsuitable, either."
Aria paused, her tired mind swirling in an attempt to vocalize how she felt. "You say that the world doesn't make sense to you. That's fair. Maybe one day you'll understand it, or maybe you won't--I can't guarantee anything about that. A single conversation with me won't magically change your entire worldview, but maybe at least one thing I say will help you see things from my perspective: that if you want to change something about yourself, it's never too late to start, and if you want to find peace, your present and future actions matter far more than your past."
She considered her next words during another pause. "I'm going to ask you a few questions, and you can answer them if you're comfortable or ignore them if you're not. I don't want to walk around eggshells with you, but I don't want to be completely insensitive, either." Softly, she continued, "Are you afraid of living in a house itself? Or are you afraid of finding peace, only to constantly worry about it being stolen away from you? Are you worried that even if you live in a house, you still won't understand how to fit in with human society, and that nothing will have changed from your current feelings? Maybe it's none of those things; maybe it's a combination of all of them; only you can answer that. Are you scared of how your girlfriend will react to you? Or is it that whenever you see her, you can only see a reminder that you have more to lose than just yourself in the event that something goes wrong? Do you think of her as someone ideal, something you can't maintain, and you're afraid that 'normal' life will also be the same?"
Nyxil: Aria was trying, Nyxil thought numbly. Actually, really trying. Just that on its own, he wasn't ready to deal with. He couldn't help but feel even more sorry from that. Her words weren't reaching him anymore, but that wasn't her fault, he could tell - and even if it was, she didn't need to be doing this in the first place. But, no, she was right. You can't expect a couple minutes to really change things. He'd had years to change, and it-- He sighed again, slowly lying down on the grass. He'd noticed all the little flaws in her questions as she posed them. He'd already formed all the responses. But now he didn't have the energy to keep up the argument. Argument, he trailed. Why was he thinking of it like an argument? "Thanks, a ton. Really. You're probably the first person in... uh," he said, trailing off uncomfortably when he couldn't remember how old he was. "I don't know, a long time, that's tried to help me with this stuff. And you have helped. I needed to face all that, and if it was just up to me I probably never would've. I... think that's all I can handle for tonight, though."
Aria: "That's alright," Aria nodded, letting the conversation drop. She hadn't expected Nyxil to answer her at all, but as soon as he started speaking, there was no way she would've ignored him. Although their conversation may have seemed almost argumentative at some points, neither of them had meant any personal insult to the other, and overall she was glad to understand a little more about where Nyxil was coming from. His perspective on things really was different from hers, even if they fundamentally agreed on some things like how dangerous it was for demigods to be complacent or reckless, Aria thought. The lull grew, but in a mutually tolerable way, returning to the silence they had shared at the start of their meeting. "Hey," Aria said at last, the grin on her face the same one she wore when pranking other cabins, "y'know, you don't seem like the type of person to have a secret girlfriend hidden away somewhere. What's she like? Based on what you said about Camp, I'm guessing she's not a camper--at least not now--but you've been full of surprises lately," she laughed lightly.
Nyxil: Nyxil smiled faintly, turning his gaze to the last lights of the sun. It was already below the horizon now, leaving only its beautiful shades in the distant sky. "She's one of the saddest people I've ever met," he said. It might've sounded like an insult or something, he figured. But it wasn't that at all. "And she's... everything." Everything. In that little moment of trailing off, he'd thought of a million different words, and none of them seemed enough. 'Everything' was the best he could say to do it all justice. "And ah, yeah, she's a camper. A former one, though. She left a couple years back. She looked really good in the old tee shirts though," he said, smiling, remembering the day they met. Who knew "perfect" was a generic-brand orange summer camp shirt? "Y'know, it just occured to me, do they even give those things out anymore? Not one for tacky orange myself, but, they aren't that bad."
Aria: Aria laughed, glad to see that Nyxil seemed genuinely happy. "What's her name? I know a few of the older campers, though she might've been before my time. I only got here a little over two years ago, when I was fifteen, but so many people have come and gone since then." She thought of happy, mischievous Benny; witty, outgoing Sean; warmhearted, mellow Clementine--where were they now? "As for the pumpkin shirts? I had to ask the quartermaster for one when I got here, but they still hand them out if you remind them. The infirmary gives out extra-large ones whenever people's clothes get ripped up, too, so some of us have huge collections of giant shirts and not much else."
Nyxil: "Pfff. Yeah, now that you say that, I remember this Apollo kid - Adam, I think? He tried to give me one after a fight." He started laughing, remembering the boy's annoyed look when he turned his back for a split second and suddenly Nyxil was back in his hoodie. Rather than explaining, though, he followed up quickly before the conversation could be steered back to himself. He was starting to relax, and he didn't want to mess that up. "Hey, I guess it's kinda late to be asking this, but, I haven't been able to remember your name yet."
Aria: "I'm Aria, and no worries, I was having a little difficulty remembering your name too. Nyxil, right? The first time I ever spoke to you, you told me you were 'aces,' and I think I made some horrible joke about that," Aria said, looking back at the arena megabattle once again. "I don't regret it, for the record," she grinned. "Since I never got to know my dad, I just make all his dad jokes for him. My mom gave up on stopping me long ago." She paused, admiring the last remnants of the sunset. "She's still in California, and I haven't seen her in ages. I need to catch up with her sometime soon."
Nyxil: "Yeah, life's pretty good at making it hard to stay in touch, isn't it? My...." He frowned, realizing that he was about to call one of his friend's mothers 'mom'. He shrugged it off anc continued, though. "There's a lady in Detroit, she's a foster care parent or whateverI call her Mom cause, y'know, she's just Mom, that's what everyone calls her. She didn't raise me or anything, but she's one of my best friend's moms and she's awesome. Anyway, point is, I haven't stopped by in a year or something. She shelters demigods, and that takes a lot of heart. I should stop by more." He smiled and put his arms under his head, looking back to the sky. Nyx didn't even cross his mind. "But, it's not that bad. That's what family is for, really. They're the people that, it doesn't matter whether you see them all the time or not, or if you change or anything. You can go off to a weird summer camp for years, or run around fighting monsters and shit, or be an astronaut and go to the moon. And to you everything seems so different, and you think nothing could possibly be the same anymore... But then you see them again, and it's like nothing's changed at all. They're still who they have always been, and they help you realize you haven't changed too much yourself. At the end of the day family's still family."
Aria: Aria nodded, absorbing Nyxil's words. "I didn't have a lot of friends when I was younger, and my mom's the only family I have, but she's always been enough for me. Even though Camp feels like a second home to me, I don't really feel like we're a family here." Aria had made many new friends at Camp, but none of them understood her as deeply as her family could. Like what Nyxil said, if Aria returned to her mom even after years apart, she would be able to talk with her as if she had left only yesterday. No one else could really compare to that. "I love my half-siblings dearly, but just because we share blood doesn't make us family."
Nyxil: "Hmph, yeah. People think family's who gave you your dna and crap, but that's stupid. Leon and his mom and I are family. My friend Blake is family, my grandmother is family... My dad's not, though, and Nyx definitely aint," he said, flipping the sky off one more time for good measure with a smile. "Honestly, I've only ever even been friends with one other person from the Nyx cabin. I know of a few others, 'cause I've lived right by them for a while, like Elysine and Selena and Alice and the jerkoff with the whistle - yknow, the guy that was at that arena mess we met at? So, I know of them. They've all been there a long time. Elysine was the counselor when I got here, and she still was for years until one day I showed up and Selena was giving the orders. I can pick them out of a crowd I guess... but that's about it."
Aria: "The whistle jerkoff?" Aria thought back to which of the Nyx kids had been at the arena battle. Well, there was really only one guy who matched that description. "You mean Nin?" She burst into laughter, entertained by the memory of him whistling like an overworked gym teacher but also dying on the inside every time she remembered that giant mess of a fight. "Yeah, he's like that," Aria said, calming back down. She leaned over conspiratorially. "Did you know that the first time I met him, he used his shadow tentacles to attack me?" she stage-whispered. "It was pretty disturbing. He didn't even buy me dinner first," she sighed dramatically.
Nyxil: "How did that guy manage to simultaneously use a whistle a bunch and spew dramatic one-liners... Like, how did he have time to breathe?" He laughed, picturing the overbearing guy getting all defensive toward someone as outwardly unintimidating as Aria. "The shadow-tentalce-things- they aren't always voluntary, really. But still, only time I've ever just started shadow-tentacle-ing a random unsuspecting girl was..." he trailed off, then bursting out laughing. "Uh! Okay, so I was trying to continue the joke, but that sounded way funnier before I started talking."
Aria: "If you're around for Camp's Halloween party next year, I'll help you make a Cthulhu costume to go with the whole eldritch tentacle monster schtick," Aria joked, already contemplating how she'd make such a costume but forgetting that she herself might not be at Camp in another year. "I made a Halo costume for the costume contest last year! It was the default Spartan armor, but I used my powers to recreate that plasma sword that the Arbiters use. This year I just drew dark circles under my eyes and went as the girl from The Ring, though." Aria took her hair down from her ponytail and used her gravity manipulation to float her hair in front of her face. "Sun comes up, we live and we cry. Sun comes down, and then we all die?"
Nyxil: "Hah! Nice. The hair's perfect, holy shit. Alright, um..." He thought for a moment, then sprung up to his feet and pulled up his hood. Immediately shadows covered his face, and tendrils of darkness started to slither from inside his hoodie, out through the sleeves and at his waist, wiggling around in what Nyxil hoped was a menacing way. He didn't know any lovecraftian chants, but figuring the wierd language he'd suddenly realized he was fluent in earlier in the day sounded perfectly eldrich, he rattled off a grocery list in it.
Aria: "Keep it down!" Aria jokingly shushed, making a point of peering around the clearing through her wall of hair even though both she and Nyxil had night vision anyways. "Your chanting is extremely impressive, but the other campers are gonna think we're performing a demon-summoning ritual if they hear us. What is that language, anyways? The closest thing to a demonic incantation that I know is the Pledge of Allegiance in Latin, but what you said is a thousand times more legit," she laughed. "Now that I think of it, maybe that's a valid way of fighting monsters. If any of them decide to attack us in these woods, let's chant at them and see if we can scare them off," Aria declared, only half-joking.
Nyxil: "Y̷̡̧͖͈͉̯͌́̽͌͘'̴̨̛̯̀̏̃̚ ̴̲̱̍̒̚͠m̸̛͕̜̬̺̳̔̐̉͛͛͘g̶͖̪͎̝͙̟̉̽̀e̵͔̜̱̾̋̍͑͋̕p̴͖͚̊ ̵̧̧̺̮̎͑̋̕̚m̷̱̯̪̀͘̚͝͠g̴̹̞͔̣̓̀̒͜ ̶̺̳͚̩̰̌̄̓̾̉l̶̨̜͕̱̥̐l̴̛̛̺̑͐̎ó̵̲̣̀̅͐͆̾i̴̛̘̱͍̜̲̇͊g̸͈͒̂̊̓̾ȟ̶̨̢̖̤̻͚̼̀̽̽͝͠n̶̡̛͙̏͛̈́͠á̴͔̮̊̏͐̚͘͝ḥ̷̰͓̞̹̏͝-̷̨̙̳̱̜̕ " He stopped taking, glancing down as if confused by his own mouth, then started over. "I actually have no freakin' clue. I was in a fight earlier today, went to drop a few F-bombs, and bam. That stuff came out instead." The shadows wriggling across him vanished with a distinct pop, leaving a fading dark mist that was disturbed by his arms as he stretched. "Probably it's a Nyx thing, but I'm not sure. I didn't even know it existed before today, but now that I'm aware of it, seems like I can switch to it whenever. Maybe if I start talking like that to another Nyx kid, they'll slip into it too," he wondered. He sat down again with a yawn. "That's how I talked Greek the first time, at least. What about you?"
Aria: "If you're curious, you could ask one of the Mnemosyne kids if they recognize the language," Aria suggested. "From the sound of your words and also what you said about innately knowing how to speak it, it sounds a little bit like Parseltongue from Harry Potter. You sure you're not secretly a wizard along with being a demigod?" she grinned, floating her hair away from her face. "As for me, I've never been that great at speaking Greek. I think most demigods have no problems with the written language, but I don't have an innate understanding of spoken Greek. I was homeschooled for most of my life, so I tried learning some Latin and Greek on my own, but I didn't get very far before I had to come here," Aria admitted ruefully. "Didn't bother to learn it here either, since everyone speaks English anyways." She mulled a bit over the lost opportunity, then let it go. What point was there in regretting something she couldn't change? "Do you speak any other languages besides the three you already mentioned?" she asked Nyxil.
Nyxil: "Hm. So there's, uh... One, two," he mumbles, counting off slowly on his fingers. "Three.... four... how do you count to twelve again... Yeah! Twelve. I can say 'fuck' in, like, twelve." He plops backward to lie down with a smirk. "Only fluent in two, though. Three with this new thing. English, Greek, and eldrich choking."
Aria: "A most impressive accomplishment," Aria grinned, half-expecting Nyxil to say the twelve words themselves as proof. "I only know English and Mandarin, and I don't even know how to swear properly in Mandarin, so can I really say that I know the language? Personally, I don't curse a lot, but I grew up in a town filled with overworked software developers, and a lifetime of listening to them curse about their work taught me everything I know," Aria nodded sagely. "If you ever find yourself in Mountain View, California, just head into any Chipotle at lunchtime and you'll see what I mean," she laughed.
Nyxil: "Oh, trust me, I already know," he laughed. Only girl I've ever met that could out-swear a fuckin... The thought slipped away un-finished as he lingered on memories. That one was a hazy subject. He wound up distracted by the stars again. Another night, a few months ago. Sitting under the stars with a dark-haired girl, up high, hearing waves in the distance... Nyxil shook his head to come back to the present. Aria and that other girl only had the hair in common, and this was a cliff on Long Island, not a rooftop in San Francisco. On the up side, he noticed, those memories didn't actually hurt, like the ones with Holly did. If anything they were fun to think back to. The revelation brought a relieved sigh from him, breaking a just-slightly-too-long silence. He didn't have anything funny to say, though, so he just kept smiling in what he hoped was a wistful expression - but, like, the good kind - that wouldn't invite any questions. Silence can be nice too.
Aria: Aria stifled a yawn, simultaneously energized by the stars but still worn down from her long, tiring day. It was getting colder outside, and in this abnormally cool autumn weather, even her innate temperature resistance could only go so far. It was nice to look at the stars, but Aria could also gaze at them from the observatory within her own, heated cabin. "Hey," she said after the conversation had lulled for a while. "I'm kinda cold, so I might head back in a few moments. Are you gonna head back soon?"
Nyxil: "Nah, I think I'll just stay put," he answered, eyes scanning the sky. "Th'cold doesn't bother me much, so I'll just stay out here for a while longer. Besides, I think I'm finally picking out that flying thing of yours. I mean, they're still all random blobs to me, but I can kinda imagine the blue-y one being part of a more, like, birdish...? Blob?" He put an arm under his head, and fished another cigarette out of his hoodie with the other. He didn't light it though. "Thanks for the talk. Sorry for making it kinda depressing and junk in the middle there."
Aria: "That flying thing of mine..." Aria thought back to what Nyxil could be talking about. "Aquila, the constellation I summoned at the arena battle?" She followed Nyxil's line of sight. "You're right: we're facing northwest right now, and Aquila's near the western horizon at this time of year. Takes good eyes to see it through all of NYC's light pollution!" Aria summoned a miniature recreation of the eagle constellation, no bigger than her palm, which soared in lazy spirals around her arm. "You probably already know the Greek story about Aquila, so I'll tell you a different one instead. The brightest star in Aquila is Altair, one of the Summer Triangle stars along with Deneb and Vega. In Chinese mythology, Altair represents a cowherd who falls in love with a heavenly weaver lady after he sees her bathing in a pond or something. His wingman is his sentient, magical cow, who steals the weaver lady's shawl so that the cowherd can help the her find it. After she falls in love with him for 'helping' her, they get married and live happily ever after." Aria paused for a few seconds for comedic effect. "Just kidding! After several years, the all-powerful heavenly grandma who had hired the weaver lady to weave her clothes gets angry, so she drags the weaver back up to heaven and creates the Milky Way to separate from her husband and kids. Side note: in Chinese the Milky Way is called the 'Silver River,' or yinhe, which happens to be my middle name. The cowherd skins his magical cow wingman friend to gain the power to fly up to heaven, and then he tries to empty the Milky Way river with a bucket so he can meet his wife again. The other gods feel so bad for this guy that they convince the angry grandma lady to let the cowherd visit the weaver one night a year, on July 7, by creating a bridge of magpies for them to walk across the Milky Way. July 7 is also the day when Altair, the cowherd star, and Vega, the weaver star, reach their highest point in the sky."
Realizing that she had reached the penultimate stage of tiredness--unfiltered rambling, which was followed only by the stage of complete unresponsiveness--Aria cut herself off from launching into another story. "So, yeah. That's one of my favorite myths about stars. Weird story, but it's no weirder than Greek myths. I wonder if there's a pantheon of Chinese gods out there?" She cleared her throat to prevent herself from launching onto another tangent. "Anyways, I'm going to start sounding delirious if I keep talking any longer, so that's my cue to head back to Camp." Dissipating her eagle constellation, Aria yawned and stood up. Her consistent power usage throughout the night had worn her out more than expected. "As for the talk, no worries. In all honesty, I liked the talk. I don't get the chance to have a serious conversation with the remaining people at Camp very often. But I also got a chance to talk about Halloween costumes and to learn the perfect language for demon incantations!" she laughed. A smile lingering on her face, Aria nodded in acknowledgement towards Nyxil. "I don't know when our paths will cross again, but I hope I'll see you around Camp sooner rather than later. If you're ever around, feel free to drop by the planetarium at Astraeus' Cabin so we can finish our eloquent debate on why 'stars are gay,' as you originally put it," she finished with a grin.
Nata: I wrote so much for Aria's initial post that I split it up into two parts, putting the first part before Nyxil's first post because they're happening simultaneously. Is that alright with you? Also, is Nyxil still in the same body that he had during the arena megabattles, or did he change bodies since then?
Tox: Yeah that's chill, it works nice. And yeah, Nyxil's in the same body. He hasn't changed for a few years now actually. Even his outfit is linked to the curse, so he's basically been wearing the exact same thing for 2-3 years. Only thing that's changed over time is his hair, it's grown out a bit more and got permanent rose-thorn laurels matted into it. Took them from Nyctimus (Lycaon's son, who I headcanonned is the new werewolf leader in an an off-wiki rp) after running him off, then found out they wouldn't come off. I think he already had that by the time of the arena battles tho. Oh and the whole deal there about describing things moving, that's from the new Nyx set I put up a vote for way back. I've been treating it as canon, but technically not enough people have voted for it to pass. Rip.
Nata: Who's Cal? Also, for reference and your rereading pleasure, here is the old megabattle RP where Nyxil and Aria first met. Though they sometimes interacted indirectly through their powers during the battle, the real conversation began towards the end of the RP, after Nyxil unleashed a blackout on the entire arena. Coincidentally enough, both Aria and Nyxil were very tired during that encounter, too.
Tox: Cal is a nickname for Calixto Ryler, an Asteria kid from the old 2012 era. He, Nyxil and Blake were a trio back then. They basically bonded over a mutual love of jumping off of things in the forest. Good times, good times.
Nata: Off-topic but I took a look at Calixo's old character page and realized that along with being starchildren, he and Aria also share the same height and weight. Spooky
Nata: >says we should keep posts short >posts a freaking essay
Toxy: Sorry, I was uber busy the last couple days x.x If Nyxil's breakdown seems sudden, it's really not, he's just letting himself consciously focus on something he's feeling in the background like 23/7. Don't take it too seriously. I just have a hard time wording it without making it sound really, really fucking dramatic. He's just mad at himself and overwhelmed and yadayada. Guy needs a therapist.
Nata: It's no problem! It honestly took me quite a while to figure out how to have Aria respond, but I'm satisfied with the results. Let me know if you were hoping to lead the conversation in a different direction/approach it in a different way. Also, on a personal level instead of on a RP level, if you ever need to talk to someone, anyone, about anything, just hit up my talk page and I'll be there
Nata: Note: Saturn really is prominent in the night sky right now, and it actually does stand for limits and self-control. I just can't pass up on space references with Aria around :') This long post killed me so I will now be limiting myself to 20 minutes and 150 words per response x.x
Toxy: Sorry again ;-; It's my last week at my job, so I've had to work a lot to train my replacement. I should be back to posting regularly in a couple days, max.
Toxy: The language he's speaking is the Tongue of the Old Times, that the primordials (and Kampe in the books) spoke. It occurred to me that if Aphrodite kids get the romance languages just by association, then demiprimordials probably get Tongue of the Old Times.
Nata: That... is a really cool idea. New headcanon accepted ✓ Also, as I tried to demonstrate in my post above, Aria is the kind of person who laughs during horror movies because she isn't able to take them seriously
Nata: I just realized that if Aria paints her sword green and summons a miniature version of Draco, she could be Genji using his ult for Halloween next year :O