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This page contains quite a bit of text, and it may take longer than a minute and a half to read it all.
Trigger warnings for this page:
Racism, CSA, rape, pregnancy, murder, and blood.

Arcturus lays on the pavement, his classes sitting near his head.

I was temporarily knocked out by the impact.
Have you ever been hit by a car so hard you were flung into the air?
Well, that is what happened to me.

I must digress a moment.
This story is meant to be entertaining. It is meant to depict a world where, eventually, good triumphs.
But some parts of that depiction can resurface real-world experiences you may have been put through.
Bryph's story is a story of overcoming trauma.
But I will not look down on you for skipping over this page, or for only looking at the pictures.
Bryph had insisted on narrating this part for themself.
So... I will recite what they once told me to say for this part of the story.

My name is Bryph Glare. My name may be new to you, but my deeds would be familiar.
The consequences of my deeds will echo through time forever. But I was not always a hero.
I was not even always a taxi driver.

Bryph, as a five-year-old child wearing a pink dress and with their bright orange hair tied up in twin pigtails, holds hands with their mother who stands to their left, as their father who stands on the right speaks with an immigration officer behind a counter.
My upbringing, as a mammal in a reptile-dominated country was rough.
I would watch concerned parents pick up their kids and run away when I sat down to play.
They would tell each other I would steal their eyes, or infect them with fur.
Blatant lies to excuse the way they treated me. Lies they hid behind "I heard" or "they say".
I digress.
Once, long ago, in what may now be the distant past, a tornado destroyed my home village.
With our village and livelihood destroyed, we left my birth country, Poirien.
We arrived in Aden with little more than we could carry on our backs.
My father spent the family fortune on a small house in a quaint neighborhood.
Before long, I was enrolled in a gymnastics school.
My father had two reasons. First, I had far too much energy, in his opinion.
Second, he wanted me to make friends with other mammal kids.
He wanted me to grow up normal.
Well, he tried, anyway.

Bryph, as a ten-year-old child, performs a handstand split on top of a balance beam, as a blurred figure standing beside the beam grabs their leg and bends it back further.
Unfortunately for me, I was too good at it. I was selected for solo instruction.
In the opinion of the staff, I was a once-in-a-generation talent.
The choice was made for me. A giant man named Bruce would be my coach.
Under his tutelage, I learned the arts of gymnastics.
But he abused me. His hands were like iron shackles, and they restrained me.
I don't want to go into the details. It's too early in the story.
But if you're thinking "wait, there's no way they mean-"...
I'll confirm your assumption. Yes. That is what I mean by "abused."

Bryph, as a fifteen-year-old child, performs a handstand split on top of a balance beam, as a blurred figure .
When it at last sunk in for me how wrong this was, how horrible, I quit.
My mom asked why I suddenly wanted to take tae-kwon-do classes.
I told her it was so I wouldn't get pregnant again.
She went silent after that.
My instructor was named Philly. As per tradition, I addressed him as "Sabom".
Sabom Philly was an odd character, but in a wise way.
He had a hundred or so strange sayings which I'm sure he made up as he went.
One of these sayings was "there's a time for tears and a time for sweat.
I did eventually tell Sabom Philly what happened to me. This was his advice.
My initial reaction was outrage. How dare he tell me I shouldn't cry!
But he clarified. He said that to be a complete person, I need to make time for both.
You can't heal without crying. And you can't heal without working hard, either.
I made time for both. And, against all odds after years, I started to feel better again.
But a letter from Bruce stopped my fledgling recovery in its tracks.

Bryph, as a seventeen-year-old child, sits in the back of a taxi wearing a red dress, covered in spatters of blood, holding a knife in one hand, and a gun in the other hand. The stars twinkle in the background, as streetlight reflections pass by on the window in the foreground.
It was a big mistake on his part to try to reach out to me after what he did.
He was lucky no one believed me. He was lucky that I blamed the baby on some random kid.
But his luck ran out the second he thought he was allowed to talk to me again.
I had a collection of knives. Folding knives, throwing knives, unusual knives.
I practiced with my throwing knives every day, until I was terrifying with them.
I agreed to meet Bruce. He had claimed he just wanted a chance to apologize to me.
I told myself, in my naivety, that I was in control of the situation.
I figured a restaurant was safe. Too many people for him to try anything.
I kept two of my knives on me, just in case, but I didn't think I was going to use them.
But then I slipped up when I realized we had stopped at a motel instead of the restaurant.
I panicked, I tightened my grip on my bag without thinking.
That's when he heard the clinking sound of the two of them knives against each other.

He pulled a gun on me. Told me to get out of his car slowly and go through the motel door.
He locked it. Told me to take my knives and cut my dress off of my body while he watched.
I had no choice. I started to do as he asked. But, mercifully, a car pulled in.
The room was on the first floor. Briefly, the headlights filled our room.
I shouted that they were peeking in. This was a lie, but he bought it.
I stepped forward. I kept the trajectory straight.
I'm never gonna forget the sweet sound of steel entering his eye socket.
That was the sound of my liberation. He fell over and I got his gun away from him.
He was the first man I ever killed.
When I was done carving his sins into his flesh, I took his gun, I took his money, and I called a cab.
I fell off the face of the earth. And, eventually, I came back as somebody different.

Bryph, as an adult, stands in a fighting ring under blinding lights, both fists raised in victory, their body covered in bruises, and blood trickling from their nose and mouth.
I took on the name Bryph Glare. I entered the underground fighting scene.
I was good at it. Real good. I made good money from that.
And I did some sex work on the side, too.
But let me tell you, lest you make assumptions, fighting in the ring was easier and safer.


Surely, you'd be asking yourself...
The burnouts of the world... The abused, the rejected, the prodigies, the outliers.
What happens to them? Where do they go, when they leave childhood?
Who can say, really? I can only speak for myself, for my own experiences.
What happened next? I'll tell you the gist.
Eventually, I saved up enough to get my top surgery.
I got a real nice set of faked government papers from a crooked bureau worker.
Birth certificate, social security, passport, even a high school diploma, the works.
I got a legit drivers' license. Cars ain't that big a part of life in Aden, but I had a goal.
I bought a taxi medallion. Taxi driving's lucrative here. Moved out of Dakera.
Got myself a nice little apartment above a book shop. Been living a strait-laced life since.

There was a time for sweat, and there was a time for tears. I cried for long enough.
I finally did what my old pal Lion said I oughta do and saw a therapist.
It took me a few years but I've made real progress.
I used to be one of those people who says "Oh, therapy's for other people, not me!"
Nah, that was bullshit. Therapy's for everyone. I'm not weak for going to therapy.
That's like saying a guy at the gym is weak because he needs to weightlift to build muscle.
Recovery is hard work! And a therapist is like a personal trainer for your emotions.
I'm starting to feel like a real person again, even under all these masks.

Bryph walks into frame and bends down to get a closer look at Arcturus. Arcturus opens his eye and looks back up at Bryph.
Yes, yes, a real person who commits attempted vehicular manslaughter, apparently!

Alright. Okay. No witnesses, we're in the middle of nowhere, nobody even saw this.
Camping trip? Cancelled. What camping trip? Nope. No camping today.
Just gotta get this guy in the trunk and dump him in the woods.
Bring my taxi to Baron's shop, say I hit a deer or something.
Insurance will totally cover a deer strike.
It'll be fine. I'll be fine.

Some weirdo wearing fake wings and horns. Where did this guy even come from?
Goddamn freak out here in the middle of nowhere... Just my luck...


Well, he smells dead. Trunk time.

... Whaiy, whass in the trung?



Their little misunderstanding aside, I was quite alive.
Definitely in pain, but alive nonetheless.
We have left the events in the cafe in suspense for quite long enough.
Let us see what Cae does in response to Rimas's brazen display of magic.