Bastian swallowed and fixed a smile on his face. His nerves untangled a bit and the hint of oleander in the air added a genuine element to his smile. He let the bauble drop from his hand within his pocket and immediately felt the tension melt from his fists.

Bastian Feign is a man so enamored with beauty that he often finds himself, despite his surroundings, stupefied into silence. He is a man whose universe is occupied by all manner of absolutes; bred from and unnatural confidence and a vision incapable of straying too far left or right. An absolute understanding of his normality. An absolute understanding of how events laid themselves out. An absolute acceptance of his tiny corner of reality.

Beside him, Oubliette minutely swayed in tiny patterns; her voluminous skirt cinched impossibly about her waist. She stared absently, her head continuously shifting slightly about the neck, but her eyes fixed unfocused as the cab chugged through its motions.

"Have I been away too long?" Bastian asked.

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