Ava cracks their knuckles in class, their eyes glinting with cockiness or maybe challenge. (It's Wrathia taking charge now, as Ava is still nervous.) Hair swept up into a beautiful braided bun, there's a pin in it. that Wrathia made for her, a tiny weapon if she needed it. The key shines in the bluish light with a bronze glow, strange considering the lighting.

Starting school was hard, but under Wrathia's influence it's gone over well.

Maggie still hates their guts, but her hair is bright green now, a blatant 'fuck you' to the school, and probably Ava too.

(Ava still misses the girl. It's hard to cope with the loss of your love.)

The teacher averts her gaze, flustered under the defiant stare that Ava is giving.

Being older really is a bit easier, but it's shown no real difference to Ava themself.

The bell rings and Ava calmly walks out, their eyes fading into red and yellow as Wrathia guides their body. Ava's suffering from mild panic, as eye contact is still a no.

Both of them make it to the room, and Ava's body falls to the floor.

"I hate school." Ava mutters, pulling the pin and hairtie out, hating how there's nothing to cover their ears.

Wrathia has explained impatiently, many times, that the hair and the casual indifference act is to make people like them, to manipulate the people into helping them complete this pact of theirs.

Ava gets ready for bed again, forgoing food. Food isn't all that important anymore, they just live off of some energy in the air and maybe some water and some sweet things.

Collapsing on the blue tinted bed, Ava sleeps.

Drifting into the mindscape, Ava brushes off their pajamas before walking down the now familiar path. Over the past few weeks, Ava and Wrathia have worked on cleaning up the clutter. Blocks are now safely stowed in drawers, and the floor has channels burned into it to help the lava flow safer.

Wrathia is bathing in a pool of scorching hot magma again, the molten slag pooling sluggishly around the vengess' shoulders.

Ava dips their limbs in, quietly enjoying the heat. It's easy to relax in this place now.

"So, Ava." Wrathia snips, opening her goat-slit eyes. "What was that little panic attack that happened a few minutes ago? Are you really that incompetent around people?"

The lava swallows Ava whole as they duck into it. Their ears are burning.

"Ava, I know you can hear me." Wrathia hisses, her nails clicking terribly loud on a nearby rock. "I need to know why you do this."

"So you can fix me?" Ava mumbles as they drift back up, their brows furrowing in irritation. "I just... seeing the judgement in their eyes... it's not okay. I panic at eye contact, and I can't handle touch. And besides, everyone acts like I can understand emotions properly."

Wrathia blinks, the flutter of golden-red eyelashes flickering gently.

"Oh." Wrathia raises a single clawed finger up to her lips, which are pursed in (for once) gentle contemplation.

The vengess hums a confirmation, mostly to herself, before talking again. "You act like a servant I once had."

Ava's attention snaps to Wrathia, as stories about the past empress life she lived were rare. It was always interesting to know how the fallen empire had worked.

"My servant... Niela Mornenia, I believe... she was a rare sort of creature." Wrathia blew smoke off her hands again, powder blues and muted pinks melding into a form, a dragon-like woman with longer hair than Wrathia's.

"She was a drakov.. a type of distantly, genetically related vengess who took after your human dragons." The smoke figure pursed her lips with a smile, the little horns on her head poking through cotton soft hair. "She took after me very well. Constantly sought after, too. However, she acted odd... had a condition. She only took interest in a few things, and didn't understand emotions quite right."

The smoke shifted into an image of Niela with the ends of her hair turning to pure thin smoke, the gentle warm inviting pinks flaring into bright neon anger as the smoke form of Niela raged and ranted.

"She melted down a lot. She also had a habit of describing people in beautiful, wonderous ways." Ava rubbed their thumb, a habit they had gotten into. The traits that were being described resonated deeply.

Wrathia huffed, a smile worming it's way onto angular cheeks. "She described me as dipping your toes into lava, the sun, the distant clouds turning red, fire and blood, and raising your hands to the stars."

Ava snorted. "Sounds like you were fond of her."

The smoke figure vanished, and Wrathia sighed loudly. "I suppose she was a good servant. She took care of my heir quite well when I was busy."

Wrathia sunk back into the lava, her hair sprawling out behind her and cascading down the drawer edge. "I gave her cursed wine as well... I hoped she would be able to find me but I suppose... for once in my life.." Wrathia paused. "I was wrong."

The vengess shut her eyes. Ava turned away.

Pale sky blue smoke drifted past Ava's nose, and their attention snapped to an open space between drawers.

Stepping out of the slag, Ava peeked round a corner, and there was only a half open drawer, with all the smoke wisping out of it.

Wandering closer to the door, Ava could smell strawberries and grapefruit. It was intoxicating. It made for a strong as hell headache though.

Going in, the hard but warm wood floor shifted to a soft purple grass that gave way under their feet as they trampled across it, waist high but it was easy to go through.

Their headache worsened but the curiosity burned brighter. Smoke trailed across the place, wreathing patterns around Ava's head, a miasma of sweet scents and sadness.

Incense cones and sticks burned all over the place, sitting on the few rocks and boulders on the plains.

It was a plain, a wide expanse of grass with one or two trees, a few huge rocks, and smoke hovering in the sky like a wildfire might be nearby.

There's a plume of more prominent smoke, coming from a while away.

Humming whisks through the air, a rough but pleasing noise on Ava's ears.

The plume comes from a fireplace in an open area, where the grass has been cut in a tear drop shape, starting from the fireplace.

"Oh." Ava wheeled around, their eyes opening in startled panic.

Niela, looking decidedly more solid, was stooped in a bow, a silken dress billowing in an unseen wind. The purple grass shifted and the pale sky shifted to a reverent star-spattered sky.

"Wrathia. My pleasure to have finally seen you again." Niela droned, a raspy but pleasing voice. The drakov vengess straightened, her blank empty sclera glimmering in amusement. Comfortingly enough, Niela avoided looking directly at Ava's eyes.

"I'm.. I'm not Wrathia." Ava stuttered, taking a step back, not in fear, but in respect for personal space. "My name is Ava. I'm her host..?"

Niela shut her eyes and huffed out a puff of smoke through her nose, the powder blue swirling like a haze around her head. "You're lost, aren't you."

"Y-yes. I am."

"Niela?" A voice trembled from behind Ava, and Ava whirled around again, only to meet the eyes of a trembling blonde boy. "Who's this?"

"Another host." The drakov's smile widened, a genuine one. "Ava, is her name." Ava winced. They didn't feel like being called a she today.

The blonde pressed his lips together. "Get her out."

"I'm not a girl-" Ava protested, but their words died in their throat as Niela sighed and blew some colourless smoke into their face, making their body collapse.

Ava wakes up on the floor.

a/n: if you didn't figure it out both Niela and Ava are autistic! (niela is an oc, yes)