Weightlessness ; suspended in nothingness, yet being pulled all the same. A chill bit into her bone ; darkness obscured her vision from across the board. Straining herself, attempting to expand her awareness, told her nothing that would've been considered helpful to her sensory feedback. She continued to get this feeling of 'falling', nothingness replaced with the tepid warmth of water coasting across her flesh akin to a gentle breeze. Contemplation tugged at her consciousness, even as her eyes slid shut ignore the Dark (it was so coldcoldcold why did it have to be so cold? ) she couldn't help but notice . . .
' Falling . . . '
Her sight is greeted by the abyss once more, an all encroaching darkness gnawing at her sense of safety, her sense of security -her sense of self.
'I'm . . . falling . . . '
Keen of her to observe, mn? She extends her hand instinctually, a moment of weakness in the hopes of doing so would allow her to grasp onto something, anything so she didn't have to continue her endless fall. Light ( here was light, reach for it, don't let it escape ) caught her attention near immediately, and for just a moment, she thought that she had been deceived. Cool stone scraping against her legs as her inquisitive gaze glanced across a horizon painted in vivid oranges ; a perpetual dusk. Home. ( How unusual, for had she not been falling moments before? ) Irrelevant thoughts in the long run.
Shielding her eyes with her free hand, the brunette can't help but be /mildly/ annoyed, yet relieved at the near silent contemplation on her end being broken by someone sitting on the periphery of her awareness. Taking her gaze over brought her around to bright brown eyes. Sharp features - short-cropped hair. Shorts and a tanktop. Defined musculature, but that was because he did heavy lifting. Ah, had she agreed to meet Barret today? ( Probably not, she never actually bothered going of her own volition. Everything seemed so forced sometimes - )
Reaching over to pat her friend on his shoulder, she was shocked (reasonably so) when, instead of landing on the corporeal, she went through him, as if he were a ghost. The sudden motion knocked her off her balance, sending her into a freefall. Air distorting around her, almost as if a heatwave had struck, had set the world on pause, as gravity once again lulled her into His call. She wasn't going to die, this wasn't going to hurt - it wasn't dangerous - she wasn't sure how she knew, but know she did. Several motes of light peppered the air around her in flourish, coalescing beneath her with the comforting warmth of Light. Cheering brought her back into awareness to the world around her, (When had she closed her eyes, was it really that peaceful?) a familiar weight of an item- blue? Foamy? Ah . . . a struggle club.
Shoes toyed at her vision, as did the legs that were (very obviously) attached to them.
" You'd better be on your guard, Suihei . . . "
Biting purple met her own, expressive hazel in annoyance. Snide, that was the best way to describe his voice. As if he had already won when she hadn't even tried anything quite yet. The weight of his club against her own proved enough to bring a competitive grin to her lips. (She wouldn't lose, she couldn't lose, not to him of all people). For pride was at stake and she wasn't quite willing to lose that just yet. Amidst the friendly spar, the storm that were once the cheers of spectators ceased to be. As if she were in the eye, it was as silent as a graveyard. Curious as to what caused the sudden silence, Suihei lifted her eyes to the heavens, as everyone else had in shock.
Shooting stars? (No, that wasn't what caused the reaction, there was more fear than awe, and nobody feared a meteor shower). Celestial bodies continued to wreathe across the skies in a blaze, light /shading/, but never once /obscuring/ a sight that bordered the bizarre. It took a few moments for her to make out the object, but once she did her eyes widened in shock, disbelief! It shouldn't have been possible, but -
Those shooting stars . . . were her.
It took all her fortitude to not gape like a fish, to be taken aback further than what she had already, but by the time she collected herself, the old feeling of weightlessness returned. Similar to a movie being put in pause, everything around her remained static, unchanging, unmoving.
'Maybe . . . Maybe I'm dreaming . . . '
Like brittle glass, the world began to break apart ; desperation fell upon her near immediately ( no no no she couldn't keep falling like this ). Begging was never her forte, he was too stubborn. Even as her hand stretched out in an attempt to grasp 'his', he never once returned the courtesy. Moreso amused, really, at her panic like the /bastard/ he was. Only her safety passed through her mind, feeting as it could be. The probability of her actually landing somewhere secure though? Neigh impossible.
Despite the panic that had seized her - and she was panicking - letting go was easier. It wouldn't hurt her to let go, wouldn't pain her to continue drifting a bit longer, right? Suihei sighed to herself, eyes drifting to her left. If there were a time to be resigned, this had to be it, right? Numbness embraced her all the same ; there was no need to fret, to stress, to tug on the already tenuous connection she had to the world lest it broke. Streaking down from the heavens, just as her eyes had seen mere moments before.
'But if this is all a dream . . . '
Tepid waters splashed against her face, sending her drifting into the abyss once more. Quite the surprise it caused, when the rest of the world shattered with such an impact.
' Then why . . . '
How long had she been drifting? Minutes, hours? Spinning with the current, it was only with a sudden shift in her weight that she went right-side up. Suihei's feet touched the ground gently (and given her small amount of knowledge with science, that was probably a good thing) as if she hadn't careened from the heavens in the slightest.
She opened her eyes, then ; the Darkness, while all encompassing as it was before, wasn't as scary. A cursory glance around her revealed not a single soul in sight. Not Barret, nor Caius (the jerk that he was) - she was completely and devoid of company. Without guidance, without safety, without the security that she sought so desperately now. Apprehension crashed down on her in an instant, though it wasn't without merit. A single step forward lit the ground beneath her with a blinding light. Darkness fragmenting, lifting itself from a mosaic enraptured her near immediately - for they weren't shards of darkness as she thought, but birds leaving behind a flurry of feathers in but a moment.
' Then why am I alone . . . ? '
Suihei stood in silence as she contemplated this, chocolate eyes drifting down to the mosaic beneath her feet once the feelings of awe subsided. Certainly it was amazing, and not by any means was the feeling minimal ; the craftsmanship was something right out of a church, but . . . that boy. Suihei squinted to get a closer look. His features were something right out of a story book - spiky brown locks that ; an odd outfit of black covered him. Though the shorts were accentuated by the yellow stripes and sharp red pouches tied to them. Withiin his hand was a giant key, almost oversized to the point of being /humorous/ for the young lady. And though interested, she was unable to see the colour of his eyes- something most unfortunate for her. Certainly an interesting figure, but . . . she had never seen him a day in her life.
Who was he?
Focus. Once the thought was in her head, she'd be able to figure out where 'here' was ; truly, there was nobody else here. Merely her, the agonizing silence of darkness, and a spotlight illuminating her immediate area. A circular platform was the only thing keeping her from falling into the Darkness completely, she noticed ; though it was with some distaste that she took stock of her surroundings, Suihei was at least glad that she hadn't been forsaken entirely. Familiar faces would've been a comfort though- Barret. Relm. Ignis. Even that jerk, Caius, was preferential to being completely and utterly by herself.
"What am I supposed to do . . . " she rubbed the small of her neck in contemplation, completely unexpectant of the voice that responded to her near immediately thereafter.
' So much to do, so little time . . . Take your time. Don't be afraid, the door is still shut. Now step forward. Can you do it? '
Well, yeah, she had figured that much out. She refrained from saying anything, however, instead opting to fold her arms over her chest while trying to catch a feel for the tone. It was . . . odd. Light, yet biting. Gentle, yet harsh - an androgynous tone at best that made it a mite bit more difficult to discern the gender of whoever, or whatever, had been speaking to her. All she had t'do was get over her worries, right? Her body, having had enough of her meddlesome indecisiveness, took action by its own accord. Blue sneakers hit the ground - one step, then another. And another. The soft jostling her necklace brought her back to attention, so caught up in her thoughts she was that she hardly noticed that she had settled right into the midde of the platform until it was too late. Now all she had to do was wait for her next command, right? '
' Power sleeps within you . . . '
A beam of light flared at the edge of her vision, though she took no note of it immediately. Almost prepared to protest the statement, the brunette was nearly cut off immediately by her eyes glancing over to give the risen tablet in the utmost curiosity. A shield, black in colour with a peculiar design in the middle, greeted her. This didn't stop the voice from speaking, but on the contrary, it didn't seem to be quite finished yet.
' If you give it form . . .'
Suihei pivoted on her heel, just in time to see another beam of light rise from the surface to her left. Yet another tablet had risen from the ground, this time bearing a stave with an odd 'tri-circled' tip of blue. It vaguely reminded her of one of the cartoons she frequently watched on Saturday mornings, though such thoughts were immediately tucked away. After all, there was something about it that was captivating in of itself for her.
'It will give you strength . . .'
Another beam of light had appeared, and with it came another stone tablet from the depths of the floor. Suihei's brows knitted together in confusion. This one had appeared right in front of her - and on it was a broadsword with a gold and blue hilt. Much like the staff, it radiated power in a way that captivated her, enthralled her.
' Choose well. '
Thoughtless, she stepped forward to give the sword a closer look. While her club after school had given her an opportunity to practice Kendo with her peers, so it was the obvious choice in her humble opinion.
' The power of the warrior. Invincible courage. A sword of terrible destruction. Is this the power you seek? '
She couldn't help but smile when she nodded her assent, fingers extending to wrap around the hilt of the blade so she could test it's weight in her hand. Despite the large size of it, it appeared to be far lighter than what she initially thought it'd be. Almost like it was made for her. "Yes." Her voice was breathless (was she that amazed by it?), though she couldn't veil the disappointment that crossed her face once the weapon disappeared in wisps of light.
' Now what will you give up in exchange? '
Give up, huh? Her gaze lingered on the remaining two items ; the shield, and the wand. In order to gain, sacrifices had to be made. So what would she throw away for the power of a warrior? For courage to face all? Her choice was made almost immediately, bounding over to the staff to take it into her hands. Almost apprehensively, she stared at it - it held such power, such untapped strength, that she was almost hesitant to throw it away.
' The power of the mystic. Inner strength. A staff of wonder and ruin. You give up this power? '
She had to wonder if magic was legitimate or not, but . . . well, courage and inner strength were pretty much the same thing anyways, so, she offered a nod. Similar to the sword, the wand evaporated into wisps of light, though it didn't appear to retain the warmth that she had felt when she had chosen the sword. Almost like a little burble, really - there, but not like the fire of what she recognized as strength flowing throughout her body.
' You have chosen the power of the warrior. . .
You have given up the power of the mystic. . .
Is this the form you choose? '
Musing on the stream of questions, she learned, would probably get her nowhere in the long run - she could either answer them and continue on with her path, or remain stagnant and be swallowed by her apprehension. The fear that had seized her before had fortunately abandoned her now, which meant that the youth was free to continue carving her path. Suihei nodded her approval, figuring that it sounded rather decent all things considered. Yet, as she waited for the voice to return there was a tremor beneath her feet that almost knocked her off course. Seemed the platforms had disappeared once she had made her choice then, mn?
Quick to gather her bearings, another tremor caused the youth to lose her footing this time around. Glass shattered around her, which caused her to instinctually cover her head with her hands in the hopes of avoiding being cut. Oh, she didn't get cut, but unfortunately she was right back to plummeting further into the dark. There was no light, no warmth, no comforting voice to tell her that she wasn't alone (she couldn't stand being alone) - merely the void blanketing her vision once more.
She was falling, this time faster than before and with no type of solace from the Dark. It may have been childish to think of it in such a manner, but there was something about it that had always put her off. Evil things lurked in the Darkness, her mother had told her time and again. And everyone had a bit of that darkness in them, as history had taught. Her hair fluttered wildly around her in the breeze that followed her plummet, though her worries of being abandoned to some purgatory of endless falling was ended soon enough.
Straining herself to keep focus, the young woman's mind snapped back into 'the game' so to speak once she came to realize that she was on yet another platform. Similar to the previous one, it a beautiful mosaic beneath her feet - though this time there was a young woman clad in a green dress. She had skin a few shades darker than Suihei's own caramel chocolate, and dark brown eyes that appeared to be festive as they were determined, the other figures (including a frog with remarkably similar eyes, an alligator, and a young woman with the oddest hair style) were what greeted her. After a moment, Suihei felt the rightness, the warmth of the blade she had chosen on the other platform settle it's weight into her hand. Curious, because she thought it had disappeared mere moments before.
' You've gained the power to fight. Take a swing. '
Now that was something she could do easily. A loose stance was taken, both hands grasping the hilt and giving a vertical swing - not enough to lift her off of the ground, but she didn't exactly stop with the motion either. Planting the balls of her feet into the ground, Suihei then gave a quick rotation, blowing back her invisible enemies with a burst of . . . air(?) that extended from her (had she made the right choice? This thing seemed dangerous . . . )
' Alright! You've got it. Use this power to protect yourself and others. '
Tch, as if she didn't know that. It was always important to play your part, do what you had to do to protect those who you cared about or somethin' like that. Rolling her eyes in annoyance, Suihei's gaze focused once she pulled herself from her thoughts. Only to catch a black spot from her periphery. What was that? When did it get here anyways? Her inquiry was answered once it managed to raise from the ground - an odd thing, with ant-like antennae and beady yellow eyes. It was . . . odd. Surprisingly cute, or, at the very least it would've been if it's presence wasn't so disconcerting. Would it hurt her?
' There will be times you have to fight. '
As Suihei watched, another spot emerged, and another . . . and another. By this point, her lips drew into a thin line of apprehension, fingers clenching tighter around the hilt of her blade. These things were a bit more serious than she thought they'd be, it seemed. It would've been laughable if one of the blasted creatures hadn't jumped at her with claws outstretched, intent to impale (rend, hurt something that was too precious for her to give up.)
' Keep your light burning strong . . . '
An opening! Suihei bounced forward on the balls of her feet and angled her blade so it would pierce instead of slash, pushing the shadow creature back with the unsettling amount of strength that had settled into her form. Almost immediately, it burst into a fine black mist, obscuring her vision to the point where, if she hadn't skipped out of the way, she would've been caught off guard by a swipe of the claws. It was a sloppy dodge, enough for her to get her calf muscle scratched by those ( coldcoldcold, so cold ) sharp digits. Her sword created sparks, dragging across the floor from her unbalanced motion before it was rectified by her swinging horizontally. Once, twice, until her muscles ached at her and she had eliminated every creature in her immediate area. A cursory glance around her immediate area revealed that she had cleared most of them out, but for how long was the question?
' Behind you! '
The forewarning came a little too late ; stricken from the back, Suihei barely had time to acknowledge the blindingly frigid pain sprouting in her back- it hurt, it hurt a lot, but she grit her teeth and used the inner fire she had felt running through her veins to switch the sword into a backhanded grip and gave a blind swing back to dislodge the creature with a soft cry. A rather pitiful kick and another slash dispersed it (finally), though relief was short lived. Suihei had hoped that nothing else would. A rumbling tremor caught her attention. Her eyes widened at the dark spots, now more than ever, appearing in spades. One by one, bit by bit, they began overtaking the platform that she had believed was clear with that cold, vile, repulsive darkness. Attempting to run was a moot point, for at every turn there was nothing but more Darkness waiting for her (why her, why always her?)
Mistakenly, perhaps out of panic, she stepped into the darkness in her attempts to run, causing her to slip onto her backside. She tried, oh she tried to claw her way out of it though! No way was she gonna let herself be eaten by this . . . stuff! But to her dismay they were everywhere! Each motion was met with her sinking deeper and deeper, gasping from the exertion it put on her as the ice-cold puddle continued to drag her further and further down. It's consistency was akin to tar, though once submerged completely, her air supply found itself dangerously limited. She struggled as though her life depended on it.
With a gasp, her bare hands touched the cool surface of yet another mosaic. A few minutes for recovery, that's all she needed. Panting reached her ears, but she didn't take notice of it until her eyes cracked open. She had panicked, let her fear get the best of her. Suihei pushed herself onto her feet shakily, glancing around with a wariness that was only befitting for being put into such a precarious situation. Another platform, great. The most she could hope for was that things didn't get shot straight to hell and back . . . again.
There was nothing waiting for her this time. No voice. No ink-creatures. Nothing.
Well, nothing except a beam of light that caught her attention. Once she righted herself, Suihei brushed her hair behind the shell of her ear towards it- or, rather, towards what it was pointing at. A door - ornate as it was beautiful, was beneath her scrutiny near immediately. Transparent enough to her eyes, and yet, once her hands came to rest on the handles, she proved incapable of pushing it open.
'What a pain. . .'
Attempting to push it open did nothing, and it only seemed to lead to . . . itself. Folding her arms over her chest and cupping her chin, the brunette continued to stare for a few moments, almost curious to what this door was for if only to be pretty. She was distracted from her musings by a brilliant light catching her attention. Suihei turned to face it, only to find a treasure chest waiting for her. Huh, that hadn't been there a few moments ago, kinda odd if ya asked her. In curiosity, she opened it, believing that there was a possibility of some sort of treasure waiting for her, or perhaps even instructions on further direction. Whatever had been inside was obviously gone now, but the few twinkles of light left behind were telling in of itself.
Curious, she glanced towards the door once again, brows creasing in annoyance once she had noticed that, yes, it was solid instead of opaque as it had been before. Suihei walked over to it, giving it a slow tap to see if it'd cause any sudden gestures. She took a step back in apprehension, though it was all for naught, for the door opened on it's own inevitably.
Slowly, the double doors began to part, a disconcerting creaking noise enrapturing her attention, completely. It would've been kept, if not for the radiance slipping between the seams. The warmth it emitted was comforting, painting the veil of her surroundings in golden beams that invoked warm, pleasant feelings within her. As her interest had yet to fade, Suhei took a step forward into the light, only to come into the familiar pale orange of twilight reflecting from the Clock Tower.
Had she finally made it home? Wait- no, she definitely wasn't anywhere near the Tower when she had tucked herself in earlier, so that wasn't it. Allowing her eyes to adjust to the sudden change in brightness, Suihei glanced for a quick investigation of her immediate surroundings.
' Hold on. The door won't open just yet. First, tell me more about yourself. '
Suihei sighed in vexation. Though, she really didn't have a choice did she? Such a stupid, overly complex dream if she'd ever had one. Suihei looked into the building, and across the tracks that would frequently take passengers to the other side of town, she noticed one of the boys she talked to after school was waiting for her. With short-cropped blonde hair, he leaned against the wall as if he was contemplating something. A vest and somewhat baggy black pants worked with his boots to complete his ensemble. ( Finally, someone to talk to. ) She hummed and dashed his way, only to be completely taken aback by the agelessness she caught in his otherwise even-humoured eyes.
"What's most important to you?"
Suihei, not expecting the question, sputtered indignantly at the otherwise free spirited boy looking so . . . so serious. It was unsettling in the wrongest of ways, though it did serve in giving her some room for thought. What was most important to her? Stupid thing, she didn't even have t think for longer than a few moments. "Friendship I guess?"
A mirthless chuckle rolled from his mouth, chilling her to the core. "Is friendship really such a big deal?"
Unsettled, Suihei began to edge away from him, walking outside if only to come face to face with a young redhead in school clothing - somewhat disheveled, yet hardly anything worth of note. His sharp jade eyes met her own hazel, and for a second she nearly thought about turning around and going right back into the building.
"What are you afraid of?" He asked, hands tucked into his pockets almost lazily as he gave her a once-over. A lot of things, was the sarcastic response that would've rolled from her tongue if she hadn't given it serious though. But, once more, the answer rolled from between her lips before she could even think about stopping herself.
"Being different." She hated the thought of remaining isolated from her peers, abhorred it, even. Yet there he was with a half-smile, as if her fears meant nothing to him and were, at best, a childish little thing to make note of in his eyes.
"Is being different really so bad?"
To have her fears brushed off like that left Suihei with a rather bitter taste in her mouth, though she said nothing that would allude to it. Instead, she turned on her heel, intent on finding a way out (it was better than dealing with that smug smile) before she found herself plopped right on the edge of the clock tower. Oddly enough, someone who she would've considered a close friend if not for their radical differences and pushing her to the side, was waiting for her. Feathery blonde hair framed soft features, while sharp silver eyes pierced her in a manner that had her recoil in shock. She knew she didn't really like her, but this?
Christ, talk about a buzzkill.
"What do you want out of life?" Her voice was smooth, almost mockingly cheerful, as Suihei fiddled with her hair. Either from apprehension or annoyance, she couldn't quite decipher at the moment.
"To . . . " What did she want out of life? A part of her had always dreamed, of course, that there was something out there waiting for her, something beyond the commons of Twilight Town, or the rather shoddy apartment that her mother and she shared. Not that her life was bad by any means, but . . . "To broaden my horizons." That's what her name meant, right? It was an interesting choice for her mother to make and all, if she had to be completely frank.
"To broaden your horizons, huh?" And almost as if she were amused by this, the blonde took a bite of her ice-cream and glanced away from Suihei, as if she hadn't been there at all. She was about ready to storm off again, though she couldn't this time around - her body wasn't responding like she thought it would. One twitch only led to another, but never led to actual movement. It was like she'd been glued to the spot!
'Your adventure begins at midday. . . Keep a steady pace, and you'll come through fine.'
' Curiouser and curiouser . . . 'Suihei thought to herself as the world around her began to wash away in muted colors. Suihei was suddenly right back on the platform that she had began everything on, where that odd boy with the spiked brown locks awaited her in another mosaic. This time, she mused, his outfit was different. He looked a bit younger and had a peculiar star shaped fruit in his hand, though the peaceful expression that his half-lidded eyes held spoke for her more than anything else about the scene.
Confident in her ability, Suihei took a few steps forward to investigate her immediate area. In the center of the platform there was a ray of light, or, a pillar rather, with small motes of energy circulating it. Mn? Maybe it was another lead. That'd be a lot better than, well, standing around and doing nothing for sure. So, without much of a preamble, she leapt into it, only to grimace once it slid right from beneath her feet to go darting across the surface of the area. She was right behind it of course, so keen on seeing where she had to go, what she had to do. Gratification lit her eyes once she managed to catch up to it near right near a stairway that she was quite certain led to another platform. Hhh, she was getting rather tired of doing these things, but beggars couldn't be choosers, right?
Muted red lit this area this time around, and though there wasn't any discernable features on the work of art. Oddly enough, there was only a silhouette of a young woman, or at least she figured it to be a young woman with the physique and all. Suihei pushed the thought of whatever it could've been out of her mind, instead opting to cease the jog she had began in her little hunt to find the light. Her arms swayed by her sides limply, eyes glancing up to the ray of light that illuminated her features in contemplation, yet doing nothing beyond basking in it's warmth.
' The closer you get to light, the greater your shadow becomes . . . '
Suihei turned on her heel suddenly, in order to investigate, only for her heart to crawl into her throat and stop. That wasn't her shadow, she decided. Because her shadow wouldn't be pulling itself out of the ground, wouldn't be growing to horrifying sizes. She stepped back in alarm, attempting for all but a few moments to call forward the warmth of the blade that felt so right in her hands. Another step back sent her falling onto her rear, so she did the most logical thng she could think of. Run. Catching a glance of it from over her shoulder, she was able to discern that it's face was covered in a 'mask' of black tendrils that appeared to start at it's head. Hair? That definitely couldn't have been it. Elongated arms ended in claws that she was sure would rend her in half if she so much as got glanced by them, and those eyes.
' But don't be afraid. . . You hold the mightiest weapon of all. . . '
Those piercing yellow eyes are what really got Suihei back onto her feet and running to the other end of the platform as fast as she could. She nearly tripped over that too, but thankfully her arms extended to the side so she would retain her balance. Another glance behind her revealed that it hadn't stopped growing, and for a second she felt her breath leave her - it was . . . gigantic. Easily a few stories tall and dwarfing her! What kinda weapon could outclass that? And where in the world was she gonna get somethin' like it if she had never seen it in her life?
Maybe he was talking about the sword? It made a lot more sense, but it's weight hadn't settled into her hand yet, the large hand of the behemoth with a heart shaped cut in it's abdominal region sort of made things a bit too hard to focus on though. Her thoughts were difficult to bring together, that cold, inky blackness slamming against the ground in a wave that near immediately swallowed Suihei. As the icy nails bit into her flesh, as she was dragged into the void, she ceased struggling. There was little point now, all she would do was tire herself out. Consciousness began to fade from her, though before she blacked out entirely, she heard that voice (promising, a whisper now) speak out to her-
' So don't forget: You are the one who will open the door . . . '
*Take a glance into a dream of the future. A dive into the heart reveals the innermost truths about oneself ; beyond the veil of dreams is the dawn of a new adventure - it is she, who will open the door.
" I wonder . . . who is that boy? " *
With the separation between light and dark ensuring peace for many generations, most Keyblade wielders have, more or less, faded into obscurity as well as legend.
The rediscovery of Xehanort's reports (be it through digging into some obscure part of the library or the like) leads to Darkness being reintroduced. Blahblah, essentially KH1 all over again.
The weird freakout dream is mostly her getting lucky and getting a one of a kind, totally not copy Keyblade . . . maaaybe I'll do more excerpts in the future of her adventures, given permission from my friend to include his character, of course.