Chapter 4- Caius Ashfall

Chapter 4- Caius Ashfall

A Chapter by Cynical_Art

Chapter 4

 

Caius Ashfall

 

 

            “So you want me to protect your family?” asked Caius perplexed.

            “No. I want you to live with my family under the pretense that you’re protecting them,” corrected Charles.

            Caius couldn’t even begin to grasp the intentions behind Charles’s task. “I don’t understand. Paradise Lost is in turmoil right now. I should be pressing them. My Spider…”

            “Can still meet you. I only ask that you stay with my family from morning until curfew.”

            “Why? If I’m not protecting them, what exactly am I doing?”

            Charles placed a firm hand on Caius’s shoulder. “The other day at the shelter I saw something in you that I never saw before. Guilt. Regret. Confliction. Hesitation. Had you been raised under my Youth, it would not have happened. Alas, you were not, and your moral code derives from two very different places. Judicium and the Church. One tells you to serve your country unquestioningly while the other doesn’t distinguish between one country from another. An extremely problematic contradiction when at war. In war people die, both innocent and guilty, that’s simply the way of it. You can’t hope to win a war if you don’t pick a side though. You can’t see black from white. I mean to change that.”

            “So you mean to turn me into a racist,” said Caius, bluntly.

            “No. I mean to open your eyes. You live under a united realm under one flag. We are still at war with Cruor despite what the common people might say. The Cruorians still do not love us any more than they respect us. Each day they pray for our fall. You can’t hope to end this war for as long as you see them as one of us. Until they are truly part of Judicium, I will not have you hesitate to pull the trigger.”

            “And for that…you are going to have me live with your family?”

            Charles nodded. “Precisely. Everything you do, you do for this country, and you do it simply because that is all you know. You protect order, nothing more. That is why you feel conflicted if you yourself are disrupting that order. You cannot do wrong. But sometimes you must do wrong to do right. A lesson you can only learn when you have something to love. That is why I want you to live with my family. So you can learn what love is. So you can see firsthand, what it is you are protecting.”

            Caius found the idea as ludicrous as it sounded. “Wouldn’t that just make my moral code all the more conflicting?”

            “No. For love conquers all.”

            Is this Charles talking to me right now? The same cold ruthless man who murders innocent women and children. The same man who trusts no one unless he has a gun to their head. It was so out of persona that Caius had a hard time believing the words out of his Mentor’s mouth. Even so, Caius had known his Mentor to never jest. If he said it, he meant it. “So when do I move in?”

            Charles opened one of the curtains in the carriage. “We’re already on our way.”

            “So just how big is your family? How many are male, how many female? What are their ages? Hobbies? Routines? What approach should I take?”

            “This isn’t a job, Caius…”

I’m already wishing it were. He was bad enough at living his own life when he was not doing his duty, now his duty was to live life…and with a family at that. “Well, at least tell me what I should do if they start asking questions.”

“They must never discover that we belong to Judicium’s Shadow. If they ask what you do, say you’re my personal assistant at the Judicium’s Youth Center. As for personal life, fabricate a believable but untraceable story. Aside from that, be you. Get comfortable, get to know them, get attached if possible. All you’re doing is simply enjoying what it means to have a normal life for a couple days.”

            A normal life. The notion had never crossed Caius before. Maybe because the only time he truly felt alive and significant was on the job. Whenever he was not busy being a Shadow, the only way he could find something to do was drunk. He wondered if Charles would allow drinking in his home.

            Charles lived in the Sun District. It was the richest district in Lumina and where the Sun Tower resided. Unlike the Town District, the area was very spaced out and filled with manors. Each manor had it’s own span of land. Most had gardens in front making the district very rich and green. Charles’s garden however was a red carpet of roses. His manor was especially massive, mounting up to five floors. Caius imagined twenty little kids running around freely. The thought made him shudder.

            As they stepped out of the carriage, Caius got an uneasy feeling. This wasn’t just any family he had to live with; it was Charles’s family. One wrong move or word, he might as well take his own life.

            Caius was wearing a dark brown frock coat, beige vest, cream frilly cravat, black trousers, and brown leather boots. Caius was a peculiar looking Judician. His hair was jet black like a Rat but wavy like a Judician, his eyes were amethysts with stillness reminiscent of Charles’s frozen eyes but a slight potential for genuine emotion, and his skin was pale.

            The first thing Caius noticed walking into Charles’s manor were all the Black Coats, each armed with bayonets. It seemed an excessive amount of security, especially in the Sun District. As they passed the gates and entered the red carpet of roses, Caius started to notice the statues of men dressed in Judicium’s Light uniforms. At the top of the manor a large Judicium flag flapped in the wind. Finally, they reached the front door.

            Charles opened the door and Caius followed shortly after. The inside had a brown tiled floor lit marvelously by the golden chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. The main hall had two spiral stairs that could be seen ascending to all the floors. Massive room after massive room could be seen from just the entrance and yet for all the space it had, the manor appeared to be entirely desolate.

            Caius glanced around searching for servants or signs of family. Finally he saw a Rat walk in. She was wearing typical maid garb, a black dress with a white apron and headband. Her jet-black hair was tied into a ponytail. She was thick with puffy cheeks. Her family brand was a sickle on the side of her left eye. She looked to be in her early forties.

            “Welcome home, Master Veritas,” she welcomed Charles.

            Charles gestured at Caius. “Pearl, I’d like you to meet the new temporary member of the family. Caius Ashfall. Attend to all his needs without question.”

            She turned towards Caius and bowed. “My wish is your command, Master Ashfall.”

            “Find my wife and children. I wish for them to meet our honored guest,” ordered Charles.

            “I will bring them to you immediately, Master.”

            Pearl departed elegantly up the spiral stairs. In less than a minute, another woman descended the spiral stairs. Caius gazed in awe; she was easily the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. She was wearing a green bellbottom dress with a sky blue corset and white jacket. Her hair was pure gold, shimmering with richness. Her hazel eyes were emphasized by the elegant black eyeliner and lilac eye shadow. Her cheeks were rosy pink against her smooth pale complexion. And her lips, God bless her lips, were a juicy glossy red with a smile sent from the heavens. Caius couldn’t believe the affect this beauty was having on his sober mind. To think such a hard intimidating man could breed such perfection. How many more surprises can Charles serve in a day?

            “Caius, I’d like you to meet my wife. Liana.” Wife…? Impossible…she can’t be more than a year or two older than me. Charles gestured at Caius. “Liana, Caius Ashfall.”

            Caius reached his hand out. “A pleasure to meet you, Lady Veritas.”

            Liana smiled and took his hand. God that smile. “The pleasure is mine, Caius.”

            Charles nodded approvingly. “No need to be so formal around one another. You’ll be getting well acquainted soon enough.” He turned towards his wife. “Where are the kids?”

            “Pearl went to get Emilia upstairs and Venir should be on his way from the academy,” answered his wife.

            “That might serve better, actually. Venir can be most troublesome when he chooses to be.”

            Caius noticed Pearl descending the spiral stairs alongside a little girl with a white dress, less than ten for sure. She was extremely pale and had Charles’s faded blonde hair opposed to Liana’s rich gold. Caius was surprised by her lack of weight. Even for a little girl, she couldn’t have been more than sixty pounds.

            When they reached the bottom Charles introduced her. “This is my daughter. Emilia. She’s very fragile as you can see. Be gentle with her.”

            Caius awkwardly leaned down and reached out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Emilia.”

            Emilia hid behind the maid’s skirt. “She doesn’t often see strangers,” explained Charles. “It will take her some getting used to.” Charles started to make for the stairs. “Follow me, Caius. I’d like to show you where you will be staying.”

            Caius followed without question. They went up to the fourth floor. There were two long hallways, one left and one right, each leading to an array of doors. Charles led him down the right hallway all the way to the end. They entered the last door. The room was huge. In it were all the essentials.

            “I’ve filled your closet with clothes all your size. Under your bed is a chest with all the weapons you could want if the need arises. By the desk I’ve left you paper, quill, ink, and three ravens. I want you to write to me often. I don’t want you to treat it as a report though, think of it more as a journal. Anything else you need you can ask Pearl. I’ve also assigned to you your own personal carriage and horse.” Charles turned to face Caius again. “Any questions?”

            Caius looked around the room. “I think you’ve put a lot of thought into this.” If truth be told, it looks as if you’ve planned this long before the attack on the shelter.

            “I’m a resourceful man, if nothing else. There’s one more thing I’d like to tell you before I leave.”

            One more surprise. “What?”

            “Whatever the case, my wife and daughter never leave this manor unless the place itself is on fire. Is that clear?”

            That’s not weird at all. “Understood. By manor I assume anything within the gates is included.” Charles nodded. “What about your son?”

            “My son is…a troublesome child. He leaves to the academy every morning except on weekends. He may stay out later on certain days but there is no need to worry. He’s at least smart enough to stay out of trouble. If he allows you, talk to him. He could use some guidance in his life.” And here I thought I was the one who was here for guidance.

            “Understood,” responded Caius obediently.

            “Very well, then. I’ll be on my way. I have a flight to catch to Judimia.”

            As Charles was turning to leave Caius stopped him. “Mentor, if you don’t mind me asking. What has the Fuhrer called you for?”

            Charles studied him with his cold emotionless eyes. “You’ve never cared for business that doesn’t concern you before.”

            “And still don’t. You forget you’re still my Mentor. Any big changes in your life are likely to affect mine as well.”

Charles hesitated before speaking. “The Council of Seven is recently a member short. Judicium’s Moon has died. If all goes well, you may soon take my place as Mentor.”

            How convenient. There had been rumors of Charles having his eyes on the Moon’s seat but Caius never cared enough to confirm it. Now it seemed it was becoming a reality. While he cared little for Charles’s ascension, his own promotion had a nice ring to it. “All hail the Fuhrer.”

            “All hail the Fuhrer.”

            Charles left immediately after, as promised. As Caius watched his carriage ride away, he instantly felt lost. What am I supposed to do now? He could hear Charles’s voice in his head say, live. Only, he still had no idea what that meant.

            He walked back inside the manor. As soon as he stepped in he could feel the emptiness inside. There was no activity in the house as far as he could tell aside from servants doing busy work. Caius counted that aside from Pearl there were four other house servants. All of them Rats. Out of the five only one was a male. The male Rat seemed to be the head of the servants, ordering all the female servants around, and dressed in full formal wear; a frock coat, vest, frilly cravat, and trousers.

            After slowly wandering around the house aimlessly, Caius decided to go to his room. Once inside, he decided things might not be so bad. If the house was always inactive, it meant there was little to do but rot. Caius enjoyed his privacy. It was one of the few things he didn’t often enjoy. Back at the Shadow Manor he shared a room with three other Shadows. The only privacy he ever enjoyed was in his own mind. Unfortunately, it didn’t take too much of privacy before he grew restless and felt the need to move around again.

            The first thought that crossed his mind was going to the Proud Morning. He quickly remembered that he was only allowed to leave Charles’s family after curfew though. It was still five more hours until nine. He thought about asking Liana for some wine, but the fear of Charles glaring at him with his cold eyes erased any fragment of the thought. He did however decide he would go find Liana. A woman with no duties or job to keep her busy, whose stuck in a house every hour of every day, must have some way to keep herself busy.

            It didn’t take him long to find her. He stumbled into her on the first floor as she was headed towards the front door. “Lady Veritas,” he called out. “I was just looking for you.”

            She stopped and smiled kindly at him. That smile. “I’m sorry, the servants did not inform me.”

Caius returned the smile, only his was much more awkward and unnatural. “They couldn’t have. I never informed them.”

            “Oh, well then good thing you caught me as I was on my way out. How may I help you?”

            You can start by telling me what you do for twenty-four hours every day. “Well, nothing really. Charles told me to get well acquainted with his family so I figured now was a good a time as ever.”

            She gave him the most sincere apologetic look. “I’m sorry, I was just on my way out. Perhaps another time.”

            On her way out? I don’t recall the house catching on fire. “If you don’t mind me asking, just where exactly are you headed?”

            She played with the blonde locks resting over her shoulder resting beside her firm breasts. “Every Wednesday I head to the Town District to stock up on my personal needs and whatever else pleases my eyes. It’s a hard job being a lady.”

            So she’s beautiful and a liar. “I’m sorry, Lady Veritas…”

            “Liana, please.”

            “Liana. But I regret to inform you that your husband gave me strict orders to make sure both you and your daughter remain inside the manor.”

            Her smile twitched into a spiteful smirk. In an instant her entire demeanor transformed. “I see my husband has trained his dog well. Please do tell, what else has my husband forbid me?”

Caius was thrown aback by her sudden boldness. “Charles…didn’t mention anything else. Only that I make sure that neither you or your daughter leave the house at all cost.”

“I heard you the first time.”

“I apologize. I’m only following orders.”

She turned her back to him and started on her way back whence she came. “No need to apologize. As you said, you’re only following orders.”

            Caius paced to catch up to her. “I’m sure there’s a reasonable explanation,” he said in an attempt to control the situation.

            She stopped and turned to study him. “You should know. You’re the one he placed here as my personal tail and bodyguard.”

            Caius struggled to find his words. “I’m…I’m not allowed to say. I apologize.” Why did I say that? It’s not like I actually know why.

            “What a surprise. You truly are my husband’s lapdog.” She turned her back to him and started walking again.

             “Where are you going now?”

            She stopped and turned again. “May I not even walk around my own house without informing you first?”

            “I apologize, I didn’t mean to make you feel uncomfortable in your own home. You just seemed annoyed, so I wasn’t sure where you were going. When people are angry they do irrational things.”

            “God you’re even worse than my husband. At least he doesn’t apologize for everything he does and then attempt to mend things by stating the obvious. Please do us both the favor, Caius, and relieve yourself the burden of following me while I head to my room. If you want you can even station one of our servants directly outside my door to make sure I don’t go anywhere.”

“As you wish…” Caius let her leave, as he stood behind dumbfounded. Is this still the same beautiful woman with the same angelic smile from before? She just met me and already she hates me for something I’m hardly to blame. But on the bright side, I’m learning what love is all about. It starts with fear and ends with a lie, and of course I get stuck with the truth.

            Not a minute after she left, Caius heard the front door open. In came an adolescent boy, probably fourteen or fifteen. He looked almost identical to Charles only much slimmer and a lot less intimidating. His white blonde hair and ice blue eyes were exactly the same though. This must be the troublesome son. After meeting the lovely wife what this one has to offer. The boy looked at Caius for about five seconds before he completely disregarded him and headed upstairs. And now I know.

 

***

 

            Caius felt a breath of relief as he departed on the brown stallion Charles gave him towards the streets of Lumina. He decided to take a trip by the Town District. The Town District was the busiest district in Lumina and the only one without a curfew, at least until the Cruorians overpopulated the lower districts. Anywhere else though you needed a Night Pass to be outside passed curfew.

            The Proud Morning was as packed as ever when Caius entered it. His reason for being there tonight though was neither to drink or f**k. A tavern was about the best place to gather information on everything going on. The newspaper may be a fabricated lie but drunken people were known to let the biggest truths slip out before. The Proud Morning was a high-class establishment so all its customers had places in society of some note. Whether just an officer in a Black or White Coat, or an Owner, they knew something that didn’t print in the newspaper.

            Caius took a seat in a corner table with two chairs and ordered a small meal to seem as inconspicuous as possible. There was truly no need for it. The majority of the people inside were oblivious to anything but their business, and the few that did notice Caius, had already grown used to him being that creepy quiet guy. No amount of effort to seem inconspicuous would’ve shielded him from their eyes. But it mattered little. They could watch all they wanted, Caius had nothing to hide. He was just there to listen.

            “Those f*****g Cruorians are getting out of hand. I killed three of them today,” said a White Coat to another.

            “It’s those f*****g Paradise Lost rebels. The idiots still think we’re at war. Don’t they realize it’s hopeless?” said the other.

            “Scum like them can never be trusted. We offered them peace once and they shat on it. If you asked me, we should have killed them all the second time around.”

            “Cheers to that.”

            Cruorians were easily the most hated race in Judicium. So much that Charles didn’t seem so much a racist as simply just another Judician citizen. Cruor was the last country to fall to Judicium and had the longest war during Judicium’s conquest. Despite its length however, the war was almost entirely one sided. There was no more bad blood than there was with any other of the countries that fell to Judicium. If not for the Crimson Treason, they may not have even obtained such an infamous reputation. Cruorians used to be respected, feared even, once upon a time. Now their word was worth s**t and no one shed a tear whenever one died.

            By another table Caius peeped a wealthy looking man, probably an Owner, belligerent with a courtesan on his lap. He was talking more to himself than to her. “It’s those True Believers, I’m telling you! They’re the real ones we should be worrying about! My business collapsed because of those f*****g fanatics! It’s like they’re f*****g brainwashing everyone! What did God ever do for us? It’s us who’ve achieved all we have. Us, I tell you! Do you know everything my father did for this country?”

            The wealthy man went on a rant about his family history after that. Caius ignored him and put his attention on two Black Coats coming in instead. They both had mantles on their frock coats, which meant they were officers.

            “…and my son tells me she literally got on her knees and started sucking his c**k.”

            His friend laughed. “Yeah right, and my mother fucked the Fuhrer. You should tell that son of yours to watch that tongue of his before someone cuts it out. You know what happens to people who spread rumors about those higher up on the ladder.”

            “Well, I’d like to entertain the possibility of it being truth. It’d be pretty f*****g hilarious.”

            “I bet it wouldn’t be so funny if it was your wife sucking off another man.”

            Caius decided to just concentrate on his food. The gossip today wasn’t much different than the day before. Since the slaughter at the shelter, many Cruorians started attacking random Judicians in small groups as retaliation. Most attacks resulted in minimal casualties on Judicium’s side and a bunch of Cruorian corpses. There were some instances in which the Cruorians managed to kill at least a dozen Judicians though. Even the newspaper had trouble covering up those casualties. It seemed like now that was all anyone was talking about, at least those that fought to maintain Judicium’s order. The common populous was still hardly aware Paradise Lost even existed.

            Caius took a sip of his water when he noticed someone take the other seat at his table. He looked up and quickly recognized the man sitting before him.

            “Why are you following me, Raziel?”

            Raziel spread his arm wide. “Is it too much to want to visit a brother?”

            “No, but we both know you’re not here to catch up.”

            Raziel Starfall was not Caius’s brother by blood. They had both grown up in Judicium’s Youth as foster brothers. He was about the closest thing Caius had to family, which didn’t say much. Judicium’s Youth was not a home in which you build love. It was a home where you learned to serve your country selflessly. The only reason Raziel was the closest thing to family was because they were able to survive together the longest. Their paths went separate ways after Charles took Caius under his wing and Raziel took the Black Coat. Their paths reunited after Raziel proved superior worth and a Mentor took him under his wing and made him a Shadow.

            Raziel and Caius were arguably two of the best from Judicium’s Youth. Raziel was of a height and same athletic built as Caius. His hair was dirty blonde, kept short on the sides and curly on top, falling on his face. He had tired grey-green eyes with dark circles around them due to his insomnia. For as long as Caius knew him, Raziel had trouble sleeping, often waking up yelling. Between Raziel and himself, Raziel was definitely the better shot and Caius the better sword. While they weren’t what you’d call friends, they both had a fond respect for one another.

            “You got me. Wanna go somewhere more quiet?”

            Caius nodded. “Lead the way.”

They both left the tavern and walked into a dark empty alley with not a soul in sight. “Let’s cut to the chase, did Charles leave the city already?”

            Caius studied him. “Why do you care?”

            “I like knowing who Judicium’s Moon is. With the old Moon dead, someone has to replace him. You know how only the Mentors are officially allowed to know.”

            “You overstep you boundaries. S**t like that can get you killed.”

            Raziel laughed it off. “I’m too precious to kill. Every Mentor has their Star Night. I’m my Mentor’s and you’re Charles’s. We’re already being build up into becoming Mentors ourselves, it’s our duty to overstep our boundaries.”

            Raziel had a way of putting the unspoken truth on the table. Judicium’s Shadow’s hierarchy was a simple hierarchy. At the top was Judicium’s Moon, below the Mentors, then came the Nights, and lastly, the not official yet still crucial part of Judicium’s Shadow, the Spiders. Every Mentor had his own share of Nights under his wing and out of all of those there was always one deemed the Star Night. While the Star Night was not an official rank, every Mentor had one. The one they build into becoming Mentor and entrusted with information beyond their ranking.

            Judicium’s Shadow was as secretive amongst themselves as they were to the world. Even within their own ranks, one Shadow often did not know the other. Spiders only knew their Night and Nights their Mentors. Nights knew other Nights, but only those under the same Mentor branch as them. Until one achieved the rank of Mentor, they were not told the identity of the other Mentors or Judicium’s Moon. Mentors however were known to tell their Star Nights the identity of the other Mentors and occasionally, even Judicium’s Moon. Ultimately, all the secrecy made it so that not even a Shadow was safe from another Shadow. If ever there were a traitor, they would be exposed and executed.

            “I’m sure your Mentor will tell you who the new Moon is once he’s been ascended,” said Caius.

            “Who the f**k are we kidding, it’ll be Charles. You know that, I know that, my Mentor knows that.”

            Caius knew there was more he wasn’t saying. “If you’re so sure, why come to me?”

            “Because, Charles actually trusts you,” he answered.

            “Charles trusts no one.”

            “Except you. Why else would he leave you with his family?”

            He doesn’t even have the decency to pretend he’s not spying on me. “What do you really want to know?”

            He grinned. “I wanna know why Charles feels the need for you to protect his family.”

            For love, whatever that means. “I don’t know. But it’s my duty until he returns.”

            “So he did leave.”

            Caius bit his tongue at his careless stupidity. “You already knew he did. What is it you’re really trying to find out?”

            “A man that lives in the Sun District with ten Black Coats guarding his home hardly needs a Shadow as a personal bodyguard for his family. Unless, there was a danger. A danger that no one but the person he trusts the most could know about. And what kind of danger might that be, you might ask. Caius, do you know how Judicium’s Moon died?”

            Caius treaded lightly. “I didn’t know he was dead until earlier today. How did he die?”

            “Heart attack. Random, isn’t it?”

            “Are you implying Charles might’ve had something to do with it?”

            “I’m saying Charles had something to do with it and you know what.”

            Wish that I did. “Well I don’t. So I suggest you look elsewhere for your answers. Try not to get killed in the process.”

            Caius tried to walk passed him but Raziel blocked his way. “Is that all you have to say? I took you for a better man than that. We both grew up under Judicium’s Youth. Our reason for living is to preserve order in Judicium. If what you say is true and you really don’t know anything, can you really just walk away from this? What if Charles did kill Judicium’s Moon? We both know that’s treason of the highest degree. If you turn a blind eye to this, you’re no better than the filth we clean.”

            Charles wouldn’t kill Judicium’s Moon. He respected that man too much to take his life. “If Charles is guilty, Judicium will find out.”

            Raziel shrugged. “You and me both know the world isn’t as perfect as we make it out to be. All I’m saying is, keep two eyes and two ears open. The last thing you want is getting caught on the wrong side of things when s**t starts raining down.” He moved to the side to let Caius pass through. “Remember, even shadows have shadows.”

            Caius walked out the alley. Never thought I’d be the one being watched. But I have bigger things to worry about than a dead old man and the ascension of a New Moon. And with that, he departed to the lower districts.




© 2013 Cynical_Art



Author's Note

Cynical_Art
Now we're far enough to start making predictions. Also, curious to know what characters you like and dislike in general so far.

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Wow! You're great at creating characters! I'm not really into fiction but I'm just glued here.... One of these days, you're going to get me fired for not doing my job....

Posted 4 Years Ago


Cynical_Art

4 Years Ago

Lol thank you. I'm glad you like it. I know my themes and tone can scare a lot of people away XD I'm.. read more
All of.the.characters are.great. Even this new one, Raziel. And I would have to say that the three main characters are my favorite right now. I haven't narrowed them down any further than that yet. XD But I am interested to see where this story ends. Great job.

Posted 4 Years Ago


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Dark Rider

4 Years Ago

Okay. ^^
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4 Years Ago

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Added on January 16, 2013
Last Updated on January 27, 2013
Tags: fantasy, war, conspiracies, betrayal, trust, family, death, truth, lies, confessions, duty, order

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Cynical_Art
Cynical_Art

New York, NY



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I am 21 years old, I got my Bachelors in Science Degree when I was 19. My career profession is computer animation (I am an Environment Modeler, for those that follow the profession) but I love to writ.. more..

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