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 Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]

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PostSubject: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Wed Mar 15, 2017 11:12 pm


Natsu would sigh as he laid the small paint brush next to the inkwell. He wasn't the best at calligraphy, and it showed in his talismans. He wasn't a master at making them yet... And it honestly bugged him that he couldn't make something as simple as a word or small phrase. Before he could chisel the word into the wood slab, he needed to write the word expertly into it... But he wasn't very good at that yet.

He'd lean against the door frame of the front yard porch, looking out into the front yard with lazy eyes. He really didn't understand why this was so hard. It made him tired trying to do something so perfect and still messing up at it. He supposed this was a form of art he was trying to master in the matter of a few weeks but... It had been too long since he started to not at least get the basics.

With a small huff, he'd pick the paint brush up again and gently dip it into the inkwell before trying his hand again at another kanji. This time, he tried to write 悪から逃げる as best he could... Except it came out as weird squiggles and a box looking octopus than anything else. He'd sigh exasperatedly at his failure, dropping the paintbrush on the ruined piece of paper before covering his face. This was way too stressful for its own good...

Should he start with something easier? He didn't know... This was honestly a waste of ink at this point... He had to empty out the contents of four ink pens to get the amount he got! It was hard to just find inkwells in grocery stores, after all... Or, at least that's what Arctic said. He rarely left the safety of his house...

Regardless, his thoughts aside, he'd huff as he brought his hand to his cheek, not noticing the smear of ink he left there as he crumpled up the horrid mess of paper and throwing it out into the street. He was annoyed at his failure... And being aggresive made him feel good for a second, at the least.
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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Thu Mar 16, 2017 12:41 am



Morning was just a bad time for Steven Vaughn.

The teenager brought a pale hand up to shield his squinted eyes as he walked toward the sunrise, drawstring backpack slung over one shoulder and held in place with his other hand. His expression was set in its usual dissatisfied scowl, as if scorning that distant star for interrupting his night and forcing him out of bed. It wasn't even so much that he was a night person, either--not being able to see clearly due to darkness was annoying, too--but daylight meant he was obligated to get out of the house and do things that he honestly had no real desire to do.

Like go to school. He was seriously tossing around the idea of just skipping; he was already not where he was supposed to be thanks to an errand he had to run, and just given how bright it was out already he knew he was going to be late. Still, if he didn't show for class he couldn't stay after and be a tutor, and there went some of his pay. That was a biting thought, but he really, really didn't feel like expending actual effort today...

His dread was interrupted by the sight of something black and white tumbling out across the sidewalk in front of him. He stared blankly at it for a moment before registering that it was a crumpled piece of paper, then glanced over at where it seemed to have come from. He raised a brow at the girl sitting there, with the smear of ink on her cheek and poring over something or another.

"Drop something...?" he called over, casually reaching down to pick up the trashed paper and begin to unfurl it. If it was something she didn't want others to see, she shouldn't have thrown it out into the street.

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Thu Mar 16, 2017 2:33 pm


To say the failed calligraphy the young man would see was... Good was a great lie at best. Natsu, though, would gasp and tense up as he saw someone actually walking past his house and pick up the crumpled up failure of work. He didn't really know how to react aside from thrust a hand out and shout a little too loudly.

"N-No wait!" he'd say in a voice easily mistakable for a girl's. It hadn't really reached a deepness deep enough to even hint at him being male yet... Regardless, the embarrassment of how loud he shouted was evident on his ink-stained face.

"S-Sorry! I-I didn't mean t-t-to shout I, s-sorry b-but please don't look at t-that!" he'd say in a bit too panicked tone of voice. He hated talking to strangers, and he hated it when they looked at him... But this guy was looking at his work and him and his failed work and his failed work would be judged for being bad and he'd be judged for making something bad! It was awful and terrifying looking at someone with pleading eyes to not think bad of them... But then, he'd either be given pity which he didn't want or ignored which he also didn't want... A loose loose predicament either way...

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Thu Mar 16, 2017 10:05 pm



He couldn't say her reaction was entirely unexpected.

Still, the shout hadn't startled Steven enough to prevent him from unfurling the paper, and he continued to do so as the girl floundered and begged him not to look.

"If it's something important, then you shouldn't toss it out onto the street where people can find it, y'know. Shred it or something." he retorted calmly, offering it out toward her. In doing so, he couldn't help but see the sloppily-written kanji and kana. He didn't think much of the poor quality, figuring the girl was still learning the strokes. As someone who lived in Little Tokyo, finding someone with an interest in the foreign language wasn't all that strange.

"Oh, what, are you learning Japanese or something...?" he questioned, retracting the paper to give it a closer look. "Don't see what you're so embarrassed about, but then again, I can't read it."


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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Fri Mar 17, 2017 1:49 pm

He was being nice. That made him smile briefly only for it to turn into horror as the young man unfurled the paper and looked at the work on it. He'd blink twice before retracting his arm from its outstretched position. That was so cruel... In so many ways... He didn't know how to feel about it.

"I-It isn't important though... I-It's just... Not something I want to share..." he'd say with a defeated tone of voice. He really didn't know how to feel about this situation now. He felt empty at the betrayal that had followed that brief speck of kindness. People really were awful...

"I-It's nothing like that! D-Don't think that way about me!" he'd say with a blush on his face, making the black smear of ink pop out more than it already did. He couldn't believe someone would think that! I-It wasn't anything provocative or embarrassing like that! U-Ugh...

"I-It just looks bad... A-And I hate it... I-I should be better at doing it by now." he'd say with a huff, not knowing why he was even talking about this with a stranger. He didn't like it when people talked to him... Or looked at him... Or judged him with their eyes. It was a terrible experience and he hated it...

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Fri Mar 17, 2017 3:10 pm



Steven raised an eyebrow at the kid's--he assumed kid; she looked about the same age as him--utterly defeated response, wondering what could've possibly caused her to be so self-conscious about some scribblings on a paper. Some people had bad handwriting; it wasn't something to whine about. At least she was putting forth the effort to try and change that; some people didn't even care enough to do that.

"Don't think what way about you?" he responded to the accusation, tone defensive but with a slight edge of aggression to it as well. "Kinda hypocritical to assume I'm judging you, isn't it? Means you judged that I'm a judgemental guy."

Still, he offered the paper back to her, the frown caused by her offense softening back into his usual scowl.

"You shouldn't be ashamed of the steps you take to reach a goal, y'know. People aren't just magically good at things, contrary to popular belief. Even the most talented, naturally gifted artist has to learn how to mix paints. The best calligrapher had to learn how to read and write before they could even think about putting a brush to paper."

Honestly, people got so caught up in the little details that they became their own worst enemies. So what if it wasn't perfect, the fact that she was even trying was a feat in and of itself. And hey, at least she could apparently afford the time to engage in hobbies she enjoyed without people riding her ass about the things she should've been doing.

"If you're not learning Japanese, then, what's it for?"

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:46 pm

He'd shrink back a little at the accusation of being judgemental. He'd frown in confusion, not really sure how to respond. He supposed that was right, but... He couldn't help it. His first instinct when seeing people was thinking they thought the worst of him.

"I-I... S-Sorry..." he'd say timidly, unsure what to make of this situation. Was he being... Mean or nice? He couldn't tell... And then if he was being mean, he was being weird about it. But if he was being nice, could he be doing it rudely or some different way? Could he just... Be... Being nice to him...?

"I-It's not that... I-I've been doing this for a while now and I'm still awful at it... L-Like, I haven't improved at all despite the effort and time I put into it... I-If I can't get better at this, then I-I can't get better at anything else..." he'd say with a sigh, shaking his head as he looked down at the multiple failed results around him. Arctic would probably have a fit if he used up all the paper in the house again... He should probably quit soon and start cleaning up before she came home.

"I-It's... Um... F-For talismans... I-I make them to ward off evil and to keep my s-sister safe..." he'd say timidly once more. He didn't think people would understand why he did things... But, honestly, he did think people would taunt him for being stupid.

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:43 pm



Steven merely watched as the kid's confidence crumpled, much like the paper that she'd thrown out. His expression was neutral, reflecting the fact that he wasn't entirely sure what he thought of her.

"I think you've got a severely flawed line of logic there if that's what you think." he commented at her self-shaming, placing a fist on his hip as he looked at her with an expression somewhere between disappointment and confusion. "Flipping what you just said around, you're basically saying that if you're not good at one thing, you're not good at anything. Using that logic... I'm not great at science. Does that mean I'm bad at everything else?"

He left a long pause for her to think about what he said and answer, but the question was mostly rhetorical.

"Sounds to me like you're trying to be perfect at something that you have an interest in. You do know perfection is literally impossible, right? You'll never be able to write and have it look just like that image you've got in your head. Just won't happen." he explained, an air of nonchalance to his tone. "I suggest you show your work to someone you trust, but who you know is gonna be honest. Your sister, maybe. Hell, I'd be willing to do it for you if you want, but I know I'm just a stranger."

He shrugged, completely ignoring the girl's reasoning for making the talismans. Everyone had their beliefs, he figured, and while he didn't have much faith in anything, he could understand why one would want to ward off evil.

"Steven, by the way. Steven Vaughn. I don't think I've seen you around Seven Stars."


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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:17 am

If his confidence could dwindle more, it would. He was poking holes in his self-deprivating mind like it was paper or putty or something... He didn't know how to feel other than scared, even a little annoyed. Why would someone try to talk to him like that? It wasn't worth it... No one liked him, after all...

"N-No... I-I meant... J-Just forget it... I don't expect a stranger to understand me..." he'd say with a sigh, letting the pause consume the moment. Why should he have to explain himself? He didn't gain anything from it... Plus, what was there to say? If he couldn't master something as simple as fancy writing, how could he one day talk to people like a normal person? Or go out to the store? Or ride in a bus? These were things everyone could do... And he couldn't.

"Perfect and trying to become better at something are different... Perfection is impossible, but strengthening a skill isn't... I shouldn't still be a beginner at this..." he'd say with a huff, shaking his head before glancing up at the door. He felt so small when he was huddled up like this. Everything was frightening when you were little, even something as harmless as a door. To him, everyone was terrifying and scary... But he didn't want to view people like that.

"... I'm Natsu Breeze... I'm home schooled..." was his simple response before quieting once again. He realized he was having a conversation with this person and he wasn't... Being mean. Harsh... But, he supposed he had been too. He didn't really know how to feel about this anymore... It made him tired trying to deal with this.

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:48 am



"Well no, of course a stranger's not going to understand you. But that's why you get to know people. I just saw you having a problem and am offering some advice. Which you don't seem to be listening to, but eh. I tried."

Steven shrugged nonchalantly, thumbing his backpack further up onto his shoulder.

"If you've been doing it for a while then you're not still a beginner. Also trust me, I live in Little Tokyo. I've seen writing that looks a lot better and a lot worse than this."

Now, though, he was honestly kind of curious. What did being "good at" calligraphy entail? He knew there was some special way you had to go about writing... Something about the strokes and their order or something. He folded his arms, looking thoughtfully at the girl who now introduced herself as Natsu.

"Tell you what. What if I asked around my neck of the woods and see if there's someone who knows something about calligraphy? Maybe I can find a book on it or something, or someone who can tutor you." he offered, almost expecting her to turn him down. "You've probably already got stuff you're studying from, but more resources can't hurt, right?"



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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Mon Mar 27, 2017 11:27 am

He'd stay silent as he spoke again. It made sense... But he didn't really want to take what he said to heart. Why would someone like him even care about him? It had to be a trick or something... Right? He didn't really get it, but he supposed maybe he should be nicer.

"... I guess I can believe that... I just don't know why I suck so much at this and..." he'd trail off into silence. He was going to say everything else he ever tried, but that'd be exaggerating the truth slightly. After all, he was a good shrine keeper and knew his way around the samurai sword well enough.

"I-I would be opposed to seeing new people... But... A new book could help... I haven't been able to find very many, and the one I have is a little outdated... Y-You would do something like that for me, though?" he'd ask cautiously, he was still under the assumption this kid was secretly out to get him or something... But, the idea of a new book enticed him even if he didn't trust the kid fully.

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:25 pm



Seriously, what kind of upbringing did this kid have to be so self-shaming?

Steven rolled his eyes as Natsu continued to fret and fluster over how terrible she thought she was. To him, she was just blowing things out of proportion and making it that much harder on herself. Part of him wanted to just give up, to tell her that if she couldn't at least stop downtalking herself for five minutes then there was no hope for her...

But then, he supposed, that's what everyone else had done in one way or another, and that was likely why she continued to be like this.

He couldn't help the slight sigh that left his mouth as she immediately turned down the offer of being paired with a tutor. Shy or not, it was much more helpful having someone experienced in what you're trying to do teach you than fumble about on your own. But, he supposed, at least she was agreeing to something.

"Alright, a book then. And yes, I would do something like that. Why else would I offer?" he responded, an edge of impatience in his tone. The assumptions this kid was making, honestly... "I'll swing it by here if and when I find it. And if I really can't find anything--which I doubt--then I'll at least leave a note or something for you if you're not here. Sound good?"

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:32 pm

He'd stay silent as he heard the edge in his tone. He didn't have to stick around and listen to him... It wasn't like he was forcing him... Though, the boy supposed the kid wasn't forcing him to stay either. And yet he sat here talking to him despite how he felt...

"O-Okay... Thank you." he'd say with a small nod. He wouldn't smile, but his thank you was sincere. He didn't know how to feel about this situation... But he supposed it would be fine if nothing bad happened.

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Mon Mar 27, 2017 10:59 pm



Steven's grumpy expression softened ever-so-slightly at Natsu's thanks. Rather, Natsu's quiet acceptance of his reaction. Finally, she wasn't trying to think three steps ahead about how he'd respond. She was going to be a hard learner, he could tell, but at least she was making some progress.

"No problem. In the meantime, you keep trying, even if you think it's terrible. You only get worse without practice." he warned, pulling out his phone and checking the time. "Ugh, damn. I'm going to be late for class. I gotta run, but I'll go snooping around after class. See you 'round."

He gave a halfhearted wave as he turned and set off, tucking his hands as well as his phone into his pockets. Working through problems always left him in a better mood... one could even say a good mood. Productivity was an asset, as his parents always said. Ugh, it sickened him to think their little business quips were taking root in his head.

"Oh, and uh, stop throwing things out on the street. It's not nice to expect other people to clean up after you."

With that, he shrugged his backpack further onto his shoulders, skulking away toward Seven Stars. He'd missed at least half of his first class, but he'd make it right on time for history if he hurried.

[The King is out!]

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PostSubject: Re: Failed Calligraphy [Shadow King]   Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:45 am

He'd muse over his words silently, nodding gently in response. He supposed he could still try a little more... He didn't have to give up yet... But, he'd take a rest at least. This whole ordeal had been emotionally draining.

He'd gently wave at the boy as he left, blinking gently as he mentioned the paper. He'd blush before looking away. He had planned on going to pick it up... He'd sigh gently, putting on a smile regardless. At least he'd get a new book out of this.

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