It's Friday again and I am on schedule! (I did just forget it was Friday until like three minutes ago though) I'm keeping up with my once a week schedule pretty well. I was a couple weeks ahead for a while, but not anymore. Next week's chapter is mostly done-going slowly, but it's going!

Today I want to thank everyone who's been reading this story! Specifically Yakall, candlemouse, Alyssa Belle, Nacho Cheese Man, and Katie the guest. You guys are great with leaving reviews most of the time and encouraging me to keep writing, and I really appreciate that and all of you!

Seth strolled down the main hallway of the Under Realm, no destination in mind. Every so often he passed some undead being or other, which usually bowed but didn't address him unless he spoke to them first. He hummed some made-up tune under his breath to accompany his aimless wandering.

Soon enough, he recognized that he was close to a good spot for a break. Up ahead at the end of the hallway was a real light, as opposed to the dimness of the Under Realm lit by torches and lanterns. Where the hall ended was the archway that opened to the outside of the Phantom Isle, the only consistent opening to the Under Realm.

Stepping out into the fresh air in the world of the living was one of Seth's favorite feelings. He stood on the platform for a moment, just appreciating the feel of the wind and the sound of the waves crashing against the island. He took a deep breath and started up the stairs to the top of the island. The sunlight warmed his skin like nothing in the Under Realm could. At the top of the island, he searched for a suitable spot, then settled into a sitting position on the ledge. The spot he'd picked gave him a view of the sun, up ahead of him in the lower half of the sky, moving ever-so-slowly toward the horizon.

The island was small enough that he could see the ocean looking forward or backward. It wasn't far in front of him, but it was much lower than where he sat. He watched the waves hit the shore, then go back out, then come in, then go out. This was another of his favorite ways to spend free time, sitting outside in the open air of the real world. The biggest problem with it was the fact that it wasn't much to do besides sitting around. He was still working on a solution for that. It wasn't a good pastime when he was looking for activity; however, it was a good place to think.

Thinking was not one of Seth's favorite pastimes. It mostly ended up cycling back to one of too many things he didn't want to think about, things that were probably important and he should probably face—but he just didn't want to yet. He knew that he wouldn't likely ever want to, but what was stopping him from putting it off a little longer?

But that wasn't much of a problem today. Being out here probably meant thinking, but the negative thoughts weren't so prominent today. Right now, Seth's mind was on something else.

It had been a few months since a reckless girl had wandered into the Under Realm and shoved her way into his life as a seemingly permanent figure. He hadn't planned on Eve contacting him nearly every day through the button he'd enchanted, but he wasn't complaining either. She seemed to have been serious about them having been friends before he lost his memory, and she didn't treat him weirdly about it at all, even though she knew he didn't remember her from before. She never said anything to try to convince him of anything; they both tended to avoid talking about Seth's past before he lost his memories.

She seemed to be a genuinely good person, and he'd been surprised to find how similar her sense of humor was to his. He was always a little wary, finding it hard to believe that she'd known him before and had no ulterior motives, but he hadn't been able to find any evidence that pointed towards that in the slightest, aside from his previous experiences with people from his past.

He felt kind of bad about letting her believe he was just trapped as the Underking's servant instead of the Underking himself, but he wasn't about to give away his identity anytime soon. And, to be honest, it wasn't that far from the truth anyway. The voices of the other Underkings never quieted down—even now they whispered in his mind, almost white noise aside from the fact that he could hear and understand every word. They were currently complaining about being outside in the light. They often tried to convince him of things, to do or say things that were much harsher (or even more cruel) than he was normally. It could get hard to ignore them at times, especially because they were often his only companions for long periods of time. He'd taken to making a game out of ignoring or mocking them.

Still, having the obnoxious past Underkings as his constant company was not a valuable alternative to the companionship of real, living people. Seth had noticed himself in a better mood more often since he had made a real friend. He was looking more on the bright side of things, not letting the gloominess of the Under Realm get to his mindset as often, humming out loud more. He resumed humming again now as he just appreciated being outside.

The air was probably slightly cool for the outside weather in—what season was it, anyway? It might've been spring—but it was warm enough to radiate all the way through his body and warm his insides. Seth didn't think he would ever get tired of the feeling of sunlight. How odd was it for a being of darkness, the ruler of all beings of darkness, to enjoy the light even more than his own darkness? Yet he couldn't deny that it was true.

He closed his eyes and tilted his head back, leaning back on his hands, and wondered why he didn't come out here more often. He should make a list of things that were instant mood-improvers; he already had two! Having a friend and being outside.

Seth felt a mental nudge and recognized it as Eve reaching out with the button. I just spilled pudding down my shirt and I am not vibing, she said, and Seth laughed out loud.

Why would you do that? He asked, smiling.

I didn't mean to! Eve protested, laughing, and Seth felt warm like the sunlight in the way he could hear the smile in her voice. It was an accident.

Seth shook his head, though he knew she couldn't see it, and added a disapproving tone to his mental voice. I'll bet it was. I know how hard it is to eat pudding.

Eve laughed harder, which caused a snort, which made her laugh even harder than before, and that made Seth start laughing too. Don't injure yourself, he told her, and she responded by starting up a new round of laughter.

When the laughing finally died down enough for Eve to form a real sentence, she said, Thank you for your very kind commentary. I really appreciate it. The breath she took to recover from the laughing was audible through the telepathic connection. Anyway, today the chef made my favorite kind of pie…

Seth listened for a while as Eve told him about her day. This was one of his favorite things about being friends with her; she liked to tell him about what she was doing and what she had done, and her vivid descriptions almost made up for the dullness of the Under Realm that was his daily life. She seemed to always be doing something new or different, treating every tiny activity as just as much of an adventure as she would sneaking out of her village entirely.

The way she made even the most boring tasks into little adventures was inspiring, and it bled over into his own life. He found himself appreciating smaller details more often. It was a strange new change, but a good one. And unexpectedly, whenever he talked with Eve, the past Underkings who so delighted in tormenting him every waking moment became quiet and still, the only peace they ever gave him.

They talked for what felt like a few minutes but was probably really more like an hour or two. The next thing Seth knew, the sun was already at the horizon, the sky was darkening around the fading golden light, and the warm air was cooling rapidly into a slightly-less-comfortable chill. Eve was saying goodbye, that she was worn out from a long day of little adventures and needed to go to bed, and Seth figured she had a point. He couldn't suppress a yawn himself as he climbed to his feet, rubbing his arms to ward off the cool breeze.

Now that Eve had shut off the button and gone to bed, Seth supposed he might as well too. It was getting late, at least late enough to head inside. He started the walk across the island and down the steps, and couldn't help but feel a little bit sad at leaving the fresh air outside.

He trudged down the hallway of the Under Realm, blinking wearily. He hadn't realized how tired he was. He smiled to himself. It was nice to be tired from a good day, not a stressful one, and he knew that would make it all the better to go to sleep.

When Seth reached his room, it didn't take long for him to get ready for bed. He noted pleasantly the bottle of water he kept for when he woke up and the darkness that, although colder, felt so much nicer on his eyes than the light. Plus, cold air and heavy blankets made the best combination for sleeping.

Today had met every mark on the checklist for a good day, all of which were still fresh on his mind. There was nothing better for the human soul than being outside in the fresh air and sunlight and spending time with a real friend. Seth fell asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow, a smile still on his face.

lately i've been thinking about

what's going on between you and i

i need a true religion

or i need a new lie