Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 3

January 23, 2021
  1. Monster

The Beast of Calla Flats hounded the rural areas of Calla for decades before people figured out that it was actually a pack of direwolves that managed to keep from getting caught for generations. They are not really wolves but look vaguely wolf-like and are the size of a small pony. They are not to be messed with.

  1. Trends

The poorer ladies of the capital of Calla basically invented a new fashion trend when a few of them sewed together dresses from strips of leftover cloth creating a sort of rainbow dress. Eventually, rich women had them made from finer fabric and with more embellishments.

  1. Music

The music coming out of the Court of Bards outside of Paika has become more complex and upbeat. The invention of the guitar has made for interesting new compositions alongside the lute. The musicians of Ganarastav have started to spread the previous obscure popularity of the hurdy-gurdy.

  1. Traditional

Yearly, the capital of Paika holds a parade with dragon floats, music, and dancing. Many people wear costumes inspired by dragons. There are carts of food in the streets as people celebrate the anniversary of the death of Carragon.

  1. Lost Arts

People have largely forgotten the practice of archery outside of martial arts schools. With the advent of guns, many were eager to leave bow and arrows and crossbows behind.

  1. Priest

The Priests of The Musician are often born performers and their services are often at least partially a concert. They encourage others to join in and create a joyful noise. Priests in Ganarastav are more somber and speak in long sermons.

  1. Sacred

The temple of Calla has on display a simple walking stick that is purported to have been handled by The Wanderer. It is a venerated and holy object. Many people in back alleys have been known to sell “splinters” of this stick.

  1. Ostracized

Some races continue to be ostracized despite ongoing activism and efforts at education to try and change it. The orcs, the dark elves, the goblins, dragonborn, and tieflings are among those who are often villified. The dragonborn of Calla were largely forced to live in the dangerous wastelands.

  1. The Youth

The young people of Calla generally attend school for basic language, reading, arithmetic, civics, and history. Many also receive training in some sort of trade as they get older. Upper class kids often must study to take over from their parents. Some go off to study magic.

  1. Conflict

A continental conflict arose among the nations of Calla, Paika, and Florana. The drow elves rose from the depths and demanded their place in the sun and were prepared to take it by force. The war between the drow and the light elves tore all three countries apart in a civil war before both sides compromised.

  1. Celebration

Most lands celebrate the new year as the snow thaws and the spring flowers start to appear. The New Year’s Festival celebrates renewal and new life.

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 2

January 16, 2021
  1. Pets

In the magical wastelands of Calla, dogs became interesting due to the cracks in reality bending their physiology. They grew in size and sprouted tusks and spikes. Despite their fierce appearance, these so-called Desert Dogs have often been tamed by the Dragonborn who were able to settle in that chaotic location.

  1. Bazaar

The mysterious Night Bazaar of Kanna Island is by invitation only. This works because Kanna Island is a Dwarven-made island that actually moves from place to place. Magical assistance is needed to navigate to its location. The finest chefs, exotic weapon dealers, the best fences, and more frequent the Night Bazaar and exchange goods. No paperwork is exchanged to help with the secrecy and bad deals are punishable by death.

  1. Monument

In the central square of the capital of Paika is a stone statue honoring the legendary hero Rylan. In actuality, everybody knows that this is actually Rylan herself. She was turned to stone during her last battle to defend the city. Clerics and wizards could have easily figured out a way to change her back but there were also several poisoned arrows sticking into her when she turned to stone. Knowing she would die either way, they decided to spare her that final pain.

  1. Legend

As hinted at earlier, the story of the death of the black dragon Carragon is often told in pubs and over campfires. The story goes that the mighty adventurers fought long and hard to defend Castle Paika from the dragon. Rylan was able to blind the dragon but this was not the final blow. The final blow was accidentally struck when the dragon tumbled into the battlement where the bard Piotr was standing and he fell onto the dragon. In desperation, he tried to find purchase with a sword he barely used and killed the dragon.

  1. Demon

Demons, like their counterpart Devils, are only able to create change in the mortal plane with assistance. They do this by tempting and corrupting mortals and tricking them into summoning them to the mortal plane. They seek to destroy and conquer and hard to vanquish once they have gained purchase in reality.

  1. Funeral

In the deserts of Calla, the Dragonborn took to dismembering their dead and placing the remains on tall rocks to feed the birds. It was believed this would help their souls soar to the afterlife.

  1. Subculture

The cult of the Light Beyond the Door worships a previously unknown god and seeks to open the door to let the light in. Many of them hide their affiliation in order to infiltrate other corners of society and to hide their unpopular beliefs. Many believe that this is a dangerous cult that might be worshipping a demon or devil or something worse.

  1. The Poor

The poor are often the salt of the earth, the miners, the farmers, the peasants, the shopkeeps, the working class, and so on. Most lands do not have homeless and the only people who live out of doors are the rangers and the druids who wish to. The wealth gap is not so big but it does exist in most lands.

  1. Feast

The most feasts of the year happen on Hearth Day which is in the very depths of winter. It is a day to remind people of warmth and fellowship. It is spent with family either the one you were born with or the one you found. The motto is: “Nobody goes hungry on Hearth Day”

Worldbuilding: Aofa Pt. 1

January 9, 2021

This is a Twitter challenge where I did some worldbuilding for the world of Undead Reckoning, Thistlewhite Manor, and Hearth Day.

  1. Origin

The world of Aofa was created by primal forces, guided by the will of the gods. The gods worked in congress in those days and put their whole being into creating a place for all races to thrive. The seas formed first and then the air and then the ground rose from the seas. The original gods then all contributed to the sun and the twin moons. Each god was then given a portion of Aofa to shape to their heart’s desire. The gods came back together to brainstorm the creation of the thinking peoples of the world and created many races together. Some got bored and created animals, monsters, and so on.

  1. Weekends

Weekends are only mostly important in most cultures in Aofa. All lands have agreed to an eight day week with the last two days being the weekend. For example, in the land of Calla, rural areas do not care much for the weekend as their livelihood generally does not care what day it is. In larger towns and cities, leisure time is often granted on the weekends. In both locales, temple services are usually held on the weekends.

  1. Technology

The biggest advance in technology was the creation of the firearm. Suddenly, a world of sword and sorcery was introduced to a tool of instant destruction. Guns were invented through a mixture of engineering and magic and the enchantments needed to create a working gun limits their proliferation somewhat. Still, they are quite common in the more dangerous parts of the world.

  1. Heirloom

The Sword of Strings also known as Dragon’s Bane and Piotr’s Blade was the legendary weapon that struck the final blow on the dragon Carragon. The blade was revered and passed down through the ages until it met its own demise while repelling demon attacks in Ganarastav. The remnants of the sword were eventually melted down to form a rifle of some renown.

  1. Emblem

This is the national emblem of Ganarastav. The gray represents the snowy fields that cover the land for half of the year. The purple represents the amethyst crystals charged with magical energy that are mined there. The wolves are the national animal of Ganrastav and also represent the faith and trust its people have for each other. The diamond knot represents the land’s thriving textile business due to the thick wool their sheep and goats produce.

  1. God

It is said that the gods were all slain by the Moonset Riders not long ago but it is also said that no god can be truly killed. When their time is at an end, they simply transition to another form. The gods are formless beings but it is said that they can take on earthly forms to walk among mortals. The God of Calla is known as The Wanderer because of his love of adventure and exciting tales. The God of Paika is known as The Musician because they so love music balancing art and precision in equal measures.

  1. Ritual

The funeral rites of Calla are to carefully wrap the body in cloth strips, douse the whole thing in oil, and set it on fire. The hotter and brighter the body burns is usually thought to mean a better afterlife. They do this because they are deathly afraid of the undead and do not wish for their dead to return to threaten the land. The ashes are often given out to those closest to the deceased but the majority are scattered.

  1. Secrets

Nobody knows who the Face Thief is. Nobody knows anything about them except that they kill people and literally take their faces. The theory is that they take the faces and are able to somehow use them to take on the appearance of those that they have killed.

  1. Ruler

The current ruler of Calla is Queen Fiona but the crown’s power has faded in years. In more recent times, many duties have been relegated to the newly formed parliament. The Queen, an elf, is able to provide her long years of experience but there are many more people to pick up the day to day slack. The Queen has the final word but is not often asked about routine happenings.

  1. Ceremony

The Heartbond Ceremony often leads to what is commonly called marriage. There can be a number of participants in this ceremony. Each participant puts their hand on the Binding Stone. If their intentions and faith in each other is true the stone will mark them with a magical tattoo which signifies the bond they have formed with their loved ones.

  1. Fairytale

There is a really good story about the adopted Ganarastavian Princess who, being born a tiefling, sought a way to become human. She and her lover went on a lengthy quest to obtain this goal. They made new allies and new enemies and turned the kingdom upside down. In the end, they reached their goal. However, when the spell was cast the Princess’ lover turned into a tiefling. Many lessons were learned that day.

Undead Reckoning Pt. 6

January 2, 2021

Talbot woke with a start and realized he had been leaning against the glass of the train window. He hoped he had not made much noise while he was asleep and having his dreams. It was not the strangest dream he had ever had nor was it the most frightening. He tried to grasp at the fragments of the dream as it faded away. The only thing that remained burned in his memory was the face of that young dark elf woman and even that was slipping through his fingers. He shook himself, letting the cobwebs drift away. He took out a flask of mead and took a long sip. The scenery was still moving by outside like it was supposed to be. This was when he felt a tap on his shoulder.

“Excuse me, is this seat taken?” A woman asked.

Talbot turned and looked up and was somewhat taken aback by what he saw. She was not very tall but she was wearing an extravagant light red dress with a corset. What through him for a loop was her red skin. He looked up past her smiling face and saw the black horns sprouting through her blonde hair. His drifted back ot her face which was covered in a stylized makeup design using a soft peach color around her eyes that almost made that area look human. She was absolutely gorgeous. She was also a tiefling.

Tieflings were rare. Extremely rare. Tieflings were those born from bloodlines mixed with either demonic or devilish heritage. There were a lot of legends on how that had originally happened and none of the stories were pleasant or appropriate for polite conversation. Whatever the origin, that bloodline was viewed by many as wicked. People thought that tieflings had been born evil and that danger needed to be curbed by any means necessary. That is why the cullings had started and many tieflings fell to the churches centuries ago. It was surprising to encounter one in the wild now. Yet here she was. Talbot had never believed any of the old legends and knew that people decided their own fates. He was not afraid.

However, Talbot did look up and down the train car and saw a lot of empty seats.

“Are you sure, miss?” Talbot asked. “There are plenty of seats.”

She smiled as politely as possible, showing just a hint of pointy teeth. “I hate to bother you but a woman like me should not travel alone and yet here I am,” she said. “You don’t need to protect me, I feel your mere presence will dissuade people from messing with me.”

“I guess I can manage that,” Talbot said, standing up. “Why don’t you take the window seat?”

“Are you sure?” the woman asked. “I wouldn’t be putting you out?” She smiled brightly, the idea obviously appealing to her.

“I’m not that put out,” Talbot said. “Be my guest.”

He moved out to the aisle and put his hands out to help her with her bag. She hesitated but handed it over but did and Talbot carefully put it up in the luggage rack next to his own small bag. He glanced back to catch a nervous look on her face. He shot her a questioning look in return.

“Just careful,” the woman said. “There are spell components in there.”

Talbot quickly withdrew his fingers from the bag. “Well, it’ll be fine up there,” he said. “I don’t imagine it will be a very bumpy ride.”

“I hope not,” the woman said as she flounced into her seat by the window. Talbot sat next to her, looking up and down the aisle to see if there were any objections. Not that he really cared, he just wanted to know if anybody would get in his face about being nice to a tiefling. He was not in the mood for an idiotic confrontation.

“My name is Talbot by the way,” he said, offering his hand.

“Charmed, I’m sure,” the woman said, taking Talbot’s hand with her own lace-gloved hand and shaking it only once. “My name is Clarity Havenwood.” She said it as if Talbot should have recognized the family which probably meant that she was rich, famous, or both. There were a lot of wealthy tiefling families. Talbot must have hid his confusion poorly because she added. “of the Silkspindle Havenwoods?”

Talbot shook his head. “Sorry,” he said. “I’m not familiar. You’re a wizard, though?”

Clarity shook off her disappointment and returned to smiling. “Yes,” she said. “I studied for years at Erolia University in Calliona. I’m happy to be back in country and headed west.”

“Not many people enjoy headed toward the magical wastelands,” Talbot said. “but I’m sure there are plenty of interesting phenomenon out there.”

“Oh I’m sure,” Clarity said. “I did my thesis on the gravity well of Karkown. I’m getting off before the wastelands, though.”

“Where?”

“Very forward, Mister…,” Clarity said, indicating a need for a last name.

“Hawkwing, and sorry,” Talbot said. “I’m just curious.”

“I’m getting off in Fallshield,” Clarity said with a smile and a shrug.

Thistlewhite Manor

December 26, 2020

“These are our iceboxes,” Marian Thistlewhite said with a grand gesture. “We’re one of the first to get them. They keep our food cold so it decays much slower. It is yet another reason that this would be the ideal place to hold the orphan’s fundraiser.” The young Thistlewhite was fairly proud of the acquisition. She had pushed her conservative parents to make the purchase, reasoning that it would be useful and it would help the mage who had invented the thing fund production. If the icebox was widespread, it would help Calla’s economy and general well-being.

“Very impressive,” Lucia Vostova said in her slight Ganarastav accent. “I am very sure that this will be an adequate location for the fundraiser. Your family has such a beautiful house.”

“Thank you,” Marian said with a smile. “We’ve done the best we could.” She was starting to be unnerved by the representatives of the New Light Foundation. There were six of them but only the one called Lucia spoke and the others never reacted to anything that Marian or Lucia said. Still, manor security had cleared the visitors so they were just strange.

“Will your parents be present today to talk?” Lucia asked, snapping Marian back into the moment. “I am such a fan of your mother and your dear father, I wanted to thank him in person.”

“No,” Marian said with a sigh. “My parents were unfortunately detained and could not make it today. They sent me in their stead. My brother was also supposed to be here but he has not arrived. I apologize that I am such a poor substitute.” She made it into a joke but Lucia and her compatriots did not crack a smile.

“Quite the contrary,” Lucia said with a smile. “You have been delightful. It’s just a pity.” Lucia’s smile disappeared.

“A pity?” Marian asked, confusion spreading across her face. “What do you mean?”

“We had intended to send a message to your government by murdering your whole family,” Lucia said, pulling out what looked like a large knife or a small sword. “We will have to settle with using your death as the message. The Light Beyond the Door Will Be Revealed.”

Marian’s eyes went wide. The Light Beyond the Door was a growing cult worshipping an unnamed god. She had never thought she would come in contact with them. “You’ll never get away with it,” she said. “The guards will take you down.”

“Your guards will have been compromised by now,” Lucia said. “Do not make this difficult, young one.” Lucia stepped forward and she raised her blade. Marian frantically tried to calculate her odds of survival and it did not look good.

Suddenly, there was a sharp and distant cracking sound, the shattering of the kitchen window, and then one of the men behind Lucia’s head exploded into a fine red mist. In the confusion, Marian grabbed the glass vial hanging from her neck and threw it at the ground. Her side of the room instantly filled up with harmless smoke and she quickly ducked into the pantry. Somebody had fired a gun at these intruders so she was not as alone as Lucia had thought.

“Find who that was and remove their head from their body!” Lucia shouted, keeping her head down. “Find the girl. She dies slow and painful!”

Marian tried to stay as quiet as possible but she could hear the remaining five moving around the kitchen. The pantry door was yanked open and Marian lashed out with her fist. Luckily, her target was male and she connected hard with his softest bits. He fell backward and as he did, bullets started flying through the kitchen and Marian flopped onto the floor ungracefully but safe enough from the gunfire in the pantry. Out of the corner of her eye, she could see a man entering the kitchen and executing the intruders with expert gunfire. The gunfire stopped and Lucia stood up from wherever she had been hiding.

“Well, mystery man,” Lucia said with a smile and leveling her own gun at the man. Marian now recognised Guard Peter Overbrook. “You are now out of bullets and I have you at a disadvantage with no time to reload. You have killed my men but the message will still be sent regardless.”

Marian crawled into the kitchen and the sound distracted Lucia enough that she missed shooting Peter. Peter started to reload his gun. Marian lunged for the closest icebox and tore the heart of an ice elemental that powered it. She lunged at Lucia desperately. Lucia did not have enough time to turn before Marian was shoving the heart into Lucia’s cheek. Marian felt her hand stiffen and sting before she pulled it away, the elemental’s heart stuck to Lucia and her head slowly froze over with ice. A bullet slammed into Lucia’s frozen head and it shattered and fell to the floor.

“Sorry I was so late, Miss Thistlewhite,” Peter said. “I was detained outside.”

“That’s quite alright, Peter,” Marian said, shaking feeling back into her hand. “You were here when it counted. Are the rest of the guards…?” She couldn’t bring herself to finish the question but she could tell Peter got the point.

“Some are dead,” Peter said solemnly. “but not all of us. Your brother arrived just in time to tip the scales in our favor.”

“Thank the gods that he’s always late,” Marian said with a sigh of relief. “As much as I would like to rest, there is far too much to do. We must alert my parents, contact the authorities, clean up this mess, and bury our dead with honors.”

“Right away, Miss,” Peter said. “I’ll rally the troops and we’ll get right on it.”

“Thank you, Peter,” Marian said. “Thank you so much.”

Hearth Day

December 19, 2020

The snow fell in huge flakes outside of Garrion Castle and it should have been warm inside but the castle had been abandoned recently. When Milla Coalberry and Guy Nightscar pushed their way through the front door, they were wearing thick furs. They had needed to board the horses at the stable first and that meant trudging across the snowy grounds in almost waist-deep snow. Guy hurried across the entry hall and hurriedly worked to start a fire. Milla threw off her fur cloak and grabbed her bow, nocked an arrow, and readied herself for any threats. She checked each entrance one by one and then repeated the cycle. Her attention was only momentarily drawn by the sparks and embers from Guy’s attempts.

“You didn’t even look around before you crossed the threshold, Guy,” Milla said. “There could have been any number of threats for each step you took.”

“If I had to choose between freezing outside for one more moment or getting maimed in here, I know what I’d choose and I chose it,” Guy said, shedding his own furs. “You could be a bit nicer seeing as how it is Hearth Day Eve.”

“If you didn’t want to go on this holiday mission, I could have gone on my own,” Milla said. “I just thought since neither of us has family we could do this together.” The two were the only orphans of their little group but could not be more different most of the time.

“Which is why I came,” Guy said. “besides, you would be lost without the greatest swordsman in the western continent.” He took a pull from his flask but only to warm himself or so he told himself.

“The self-proclaimed greatest swordsman,” Milla said, relaxing her bow when nothing immediately sprang from the darkness to maul them to death. “I’m constantly pulling your behind out of danger.”

“I’ve saved you just as much,” Guy said. “Maybe one or two fewer times.” One should not lie so close to Hearth Day.

“You’re reckless and undisciplined in any activity that does not include a bladed weapon,” Milla said. “but I’m happy you’re here. I’m happy not to be alone.”

“It wouldn’t make much tactical sense to tackle this one on your own, huh?” Guy asked with a smirk. “You’re far smarter than that.”

“Yes but I’m allowed to want company on a holiday,” Milla said. “I also didn’t want to be alone.”

“You’re always going off alone,” Guy said, raising an eyebrow. “The hermit monk only comes out of her hole when justice must be served.”

“Maybe I’m tired of being a hermit,” Milla said. “Maybe I want to be in the world now.” She walked over to the closest door and started hammering a metal spike under it to force it shut.

“Says the woman who decided to travel out to this manor in the middle of nowhere,” Guy said with a laugh. “Mixed messages there.”

“I’m serious,” Milla said with a frown. “When my parents and siblings died, I threw myself into my training at the monastery. I didn’t think I wanted to live anymore. I wanted to be a weapon for justice. When it turned out the monastery had duplicitous motives, I was lost again. Now I’m just trying to figure it all out.”

For once, Guy was shocked into silence for a bit. Milla had never said any of this in his presence before and was somewhat of a mystery to their little adventurer collective even though she was the de facto leader. “Well, you know we’re all here for you,” he finally said. “I’m free to talk whenever you want. I’ll buy you a drink sometime when we’re not in imminent danger.”

“I don’t drink,” Milla said. “but you know that. I can certainly just watch you drink as long as you promise not to be so disgusting.”

“No promises,” Guy said with a grin. “but we should probably start hunting ghouls. They really should have warded the family graveyard properly.”

“Not so fast, Guy,” Milla said. “We’ll have to start in the morning. Without a cleric along, we’ll have to start the hunt while they’re dormant.”

“Rina would have never gotten through the snow,” Guy said. “I barely did. Frankly, this won’t be my strangest Hearth Day morning.” He had never really had the traditional experience, adventuring, and carousing during most holidays.

“Nor will it be mine,” Milla said with a shrug and a smile. “It won’t even be my most violent.” Guy could imagine how she must have spent previous Hearth Days and knew that they were probably soaked in the blood of evildoers.

“That’s strange and possibly a bit said, Milla,” Guy said. “We’ll have to raid the larder after we finish to celebrate. I’ll brave the wine cellar on my own, don’t worry.”

“My hero,” Milla said, voice dripping with sarcasm but then she legitimately laughed.

“Happy Hearth Day, Milla,” Guy said.

“And to you, Guy,” Milla said with a smile. “Help me secure the doors.”

Undead Reckoning Pt. 4

December 5, 2020

Talbot walked onto the train platform carrying very little baggage. He had always preferred to pack light even when traveling long distances. Only the essentials were necessary, he was not very sentimental after all. Of course, he had brought the rifle but kept it wrapped in cloth and twine to keep it from startling anybody. He wore it slung across his back and it was definitely a familiar feeling that he was trying and failing to ignore. He was also trying to ignore Silas Brickhome who was presently buzzing in his ear. The two of them, along with Cara Moonweaver, had been business partners for years but Talbot had come to realize that Silas was a bit of a worrier.

Silas would call it caution and sometimes it was a good quality. In fact, there were times where Talbot thought that anxiety might be a natural defense mechanism for gnomes. They had been saved by quite a few calamities because Silas had a bad feeling about a situation. Talbot trusted Silas but knew that sometimes his anxiety could go overboard. He thought this was one of those times. Talbot had explained to Cara and Silas that he was only going on a short trip to satisfy his curiosity. He had explained that he wanted nothing more than to return to the shop after no more than a week and work on their projects and assist customers. Cara had accepted it with a grunt and then she had gone back to her coffee and a troublesome bit of fine furniture. Silas had become apoplectic.

“Tal, would you talk to me?” Silas practically yelled over the crowd. “I don’t think you should take this trip. It sounds dangerous.”

“It’s not dangerous, Silas,” Talbot said. “I’m just going for a little chat. I’m not going to be fighting any necromancers.”

“If it’s just a chat then why can’t you send a letter or a telegram?” Silas asked. “Settle the matter and come to the shop tomorrow.”

“Don’t you think I thought of that?” Talbot asked, turning around so Silas had to stop short. “It would be easy to do that but some things need to be done face to face.” Talbot was several feet taller than the other man and for a moment he imposed that size difference on Silas before backing off and shaking his head.

“Don’t you think he might have deliberately poked at your biggest sore spot in order to manipulate you?” Silas asked. “Don’t fall for his ruse.” Silas adjusted his glasses and stared up at Talbot, obviously trying to get through to him.

“Believe it or not,” Talbot said. “I thought of that too. If that’s the case, then I will lay a hand on Lord Blackrance with extreme prejudice. I will make my point felt.”

“All the more reason to stay home,” Silas said in a bit of a grumble. “I don’t want you to be arrested.”

“I know how to stay out of the jails,” Talbot said. “I know how to stop myself before I go too far.”

“You’re traveling so close to the magical wastes, Talbot,” Silas said. “It’s a risk going even that far.”

“I’ll be miles and miles away from the border,” Talbot said. “Relax, Silas, everything will be fine.”

“I promise you nothing is fine,” Silas said. “but your mind is made up.”

“Then wish me a safe journey, old friend,” Talbot said with as kind a smile as he could accomplish. “I’ll be back before you know it.”

“I wish you weren’t going at all but I do wish you well, of course,” Silas said as he tried to put on a brave face. “Please come back to us. Not for the shop’s sake but for your sake. You deserve peace.”

“I have it,” Talbot said gently.

“Not if the mention of your past can still bring storm clouds to your eyes,” Silas said. “Deal with what you have to but come back to us.”

Talbot rested his hand on Silas’ shoulder. “I will be back,” he said. “I promise.”

Silas shook his head. “Get on the train, Tal,” he said. “It’s going to leave soon.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 7

November 28, 2020

Anna and Aladdin hurried across open ground toward what was deemed the most likely place to find fireworks. They had opted to go on this mission since most everyone else was occupied or too valuable to be risked. Anna had gotten a taste for adventure after helping to save her kingdom twice, she was enjoying the thrill far too much. Aladdin was used to sneaking around but he was glad to be doing something proactive. He was glad to have a plan instead of winging it and holding out until somebody thought of something. Both of them wished Mulan could have come along but nobody wanted to risk the most competent soldier China had left on a mission. They had backup not far away but Aladdin had insisted on a two-person team because it was stealthier.

When they reached the wall, they both pressed against it and looked up at a nearby cliff. Merrida was up there with her bow ready to go if need be for cover fire. If one knew what to look for, they could spot a tuft of red hair blowing a bit in the wind. There was also a small group of soldiers at the base of the cliff that would be signaled when Aladdin and Anna found the fireworks. Anna pulled out a rope with a hook and tossed it up the wall and pulled it so it would latch onto the top of the wall. It was something that Rapunzel had briefly tutored her in and something she would find more exciting if they were not in mortal danger. The two of them started to climb and slipped easily over the top of the wall.

Inside the wall was a group of warehouses and Anna half expected to spot the fireworks out in the open. Unfortunately, this was not the case and everything was very tidy. While their mission was not simply achieved, the place did look and feel deserted. Hopefully, this was a little pocket of the land that the army of monsters had ignored. Fireworks sounded like magic and maybe they could turn the tide in this fight. For the first time it gave everybody hope again and this mission was worth it if only for that. Aladdin walked to the first door and started to pick the lock.

“Wow,” Anna said, clearly impressed and not a bit judgemental. “Where did you learn to do that?”

“Once a thief, always a thief,” Aladdin said. “I did a lot to survive before Jasmine made an honest man out of me.”

“I can’t imagine you were all that bad,” Anna said. “You seem like you have a good heart. Believe me, I have become a good judge of character from horrible experiences.” The lock opened and the two of them slipped carefully inside.

“I did what I had to in order to survive and that’s it,” Aladdin said. “All I did was not starve.” He was not ashamed of his past. Agrabah was changing under Jasmine’s leadership and the theft he had committed would not be something future generations would be forced to do.

“You kind of remind me of my husband, Kristoff,” Anna said. “It sounds like you two might get along. He grew up in the wilderness and talks to a reindeer.”

Aladdin was about to be offended when he thought of something. “I guess I do talk to a monkey,” he said. “It’s actually a fair comparison.”

“It’s fun to be strange,” Anna said. “My best friend is a snowman named Olaf. Of course, he can actually speak my language.” She was teasing a little but Aladdin already knew that their little makeshift group was full of strange people. Normal people do not end up on adventures.

They slipped in among the boxes of the various warehouses, searching for the fireworks based on the drawings that they had been provided. They were very careful but fortunately the place was quiet. The monster army had no use for the things in these warehouses. Anna and Aladdin did each pick up a sword. Anna grabbed up a wooden pot lid.

“To use as a shield,” Anna said with a smile and a shrug. “Mattias has been teaching me combat lately back home and I have gotten used to using a shield.”

“I’m no great sword fighter,” Aladdin said. “I’ll just have to wing it.”

Anna gasped. “Wait,” she almost yelled. “Are these the fireworks?” she asked. She looked excitedly at Aladdin who hurried over.

Inside the box were long red cylinders with pointy tops with little strings poking out of the other end. “That matches the drawing,” Aladdin said. “I think I’ve actually seen these things in action before. Didn’t know the name. This should be really exciting.”

“Let’s signal the others,” Anna said. “We can’t carry all of these boxes by ourselves.”

“Yeah let’s do it,” Aladdin agreed.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Hawaii Pt. 7

November 21, 2020

When they rejoined Maui on the surface, Lilo and Stitch were approaching carrying some brown bags in a box. When Adam raised his eyebrow and glanced at Moana and Maui, Moana smiled in response. She led the way over to a small table surrounded by chairs in the open air outside of the little bungalow that Adam had woken up in. The three of them sat down and Adam noticed that Maui had the same trouble fitting into his chair that Adam had when he was in Beast form. He had some sympathy for the big guy.

“It’s called ‘takeout food’,” Moana said. “Lilo brings it to us sometimes.” Stitch grunted at that. “and Stitch helps, of course.”

“It’s from the restaurant my sister Nani co-owns,” Lilo said. “Authentic Hawaiian cuisine.”

“Food almost fit for a god,” Maui said with gusto. “Island food is the best food especially when somebody cooks for you.”

“She feels bad for you guys,” Lilo said. “She’s a little annoyed that I keep taking in strays all the time.” Lilo was obviously a little girl who spoke her mind no matter what.

The three sitting around the table all looked at each other. Adam felt a little awkward being a burden. He could see that Moana felt the same. If Maui was bothered by Lilo’s words, he did not really show it but he did momentarily look away. Maui reached down and grabbed the box of food and placed it on the table. He ruffled Lilo’s hair roughly which caused Lilo to giggle and slap his huge hand away.

“I told her that we have to help people when they need help,” Lilo said. “Besides, I used Jumba’s credit card to rent this place and get you groceries. Maybe you’re just part of the family now.”

“Ohana means family,” Stitch said. “Family means nobody gets left behind.” The statement seemed to hold a lot of weight. Adam was flattered but he also hoped that if he became family, it would be distant family. He hoped he would be reunited with Belle again and he had a lot of people who depended on him back in France. Still, this place called Hawaii was a paradise compared with other places to be stranded in. Perhaps if they resolved whatever magical chaos was happening on the island, a way home would appear.

“That’s very sweet,” Moana said. “Thank you, Lilo. Thank you, Stitch.” Moana had a good heart and it reminded Adam a bit of Belle. It was that same strong will that had pulled Adam from the brink and had set him on this path to redemption.

“Same goes for me, kid,” Maui said as he started tearing the paper bags apart and laying the food on the table. “Thanks.”

“You’re welcome!” Lilo said with a big smile. Maui and Moana glanced at each other knowingly for a moment.

“Yes, thank you Lilo and Stitch,” Adam said, remembering his manners. “Thank your sister for us as well. We’ll repay you any way that we can.”

“I will,” Lilo said. “We gotta go to dance class. I’ll be back. Good luck saving the world.”

“See you later,” Moana said. “Go have fun.”

“Bye bye!” Stitch yelled.

“Leave everything to us,” Maui said with a confident wink.

Lilo and Stitch walked off back toward their home. They all started to eat their food. It was hot and tasty and nothing like anything Adam had ever had before. His kitchens had always cooked good food but it was the finest French cuisine. This was all so foreign to him. From watching Maui and Moana, the food must not have been as foreign to them.

“She is a really good little girl,” Moana said. “She reminds me a lot of myself at her age. The odd one out and interested in the unknown.”

“Where did you and Maui come from?” Adam asked. “I’m curious what it’s like.”

“I come from the island of Motunui,” Moana said. “It’s kind of the same as here but a lot fewer people and they have a lot more things. Still, there are some similarities between our cultures which makes me wonder. I went out to sea one day to right a wrong which is why I met Maui.” She gave Maui a pointed look.

“What can I say except ‘I’m sorry’?” Maui said. “I’m from the same world as Moana but I’m not tied to one particular island. I was born a long, long time ago. The Gods made me into what I am today and I’m humanity’s protector.”

“At least, you’re supposed to be,” Moana said.

“I’ve seen the light,” Maui said in what felt almost like his version of earnestness. “I’ve left behind my selfish ways.”

Moana looked doubtful but smiled anyway.

“What about you, furry?” Maui asked, turning to look at Adam. “What’s your story?”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 7

November 14, 2020

Belle was absolutely in love with the library when she walked into it again. It reminded her of her library back in Adam’s castle a bit. That made a lot of sense seeing as how they were both royal libraries. Still, it was always stunning to walk into a huge room filled to the brim with books. It had a very particular smell and feel to it that you never saw anywhere else. Although she was still lost, she still had a giddy feeling deep inside. She could not wait to start absorbing all of the text, all of the stories contained in that room. This was a whole new world to Belle. There had to be stories here that she had never heard before. She wondered for a moment if she could take some of these books back to her world. Would she even get back to her world?

“Can I help you?” a redhead stood up from the book she was reading and put hands on her hip. She blew a stray strand of hair out of her face. “Oh! You must be the new researcher.”

“Yes, my name is Belle,” she said. “It’s nice to meet you.” She held out her hand and Ariel took it graciously although a little awkward as if she did not really know a lot of protocol. Belle only knew how to act in a palace based on the books she had read and some instruction from Cogsworth.

“Thank you for lending a helping hand,” the woman said. “My name is Ariel.” Ariel’s blue eyes shone brightly as she displayed a winning smile. She acted like such a statement was no big deal.

“Oh!” Belle exclaimed. “This is your castle.” She had remembered Aurora saying the name Ariel the night before even though a lot of that was a blur.

“Mine and Prince Eric’s but right now it belongs to all of the refugees until we beat Ursula again,” she said. “but you’re here to help with that.” Ariel was definitely excited although Belle could tell that she had not really slept well in a while if at all.

“Ursula?” Belle asked. “Who’s that? I have no idea what’s going on.”

“Ursula is a sea witch,” Ariel said. “She and I both come from under the sea and she tried to trick me and take over my father’s kingdom but we beat her in the end. She was supposed to be dead but now she’s back. I confirmed it last night.”

“How did you confirm it?” Belle asked. “If I understand correctly she’s under water, right?”

“My father’s spell allows me to turn back into a mermaid when I touch the water,” Ariel said. “I snuck down and did some spying. I also brought back a prisoner.” As soon as she said this, a crab scuttled from behind a stack of books.

“It is definitely Ursula,” the crab said in a thick accent. “I was up close and personal with her horrible face. I thought she would eat me.”

“Belle, meet Sebastian and Sebastian meet Belle,” Ariel said. “Sebastian is my father’s most trusted advisor. Belle is a princess.”

“Your highness,” Sebastian said with a little bow which caused Belle to blush. “A pleasure to meet you. Forgive my hiding, the last time I was in this palace, it did not go well. I’m feeling a little exposed.”

“Nobody is going to try and eat you, Sebastian,” Ariel said with a little giggle. “Tiana has been informed that you are off the menu. In fact the castle has stopped serving seafood altogether.”

“Thank you, your highness,” Sebastian said as he scuttled off.

“So we’re dealing with somebody coming back to life,” Belle said. “It obviously has to be magic and I don’t think it was Ursula who cast the spell. I wasn’t really there but I have to assume that it wasn’t an ally to Ursula because she would have called on them to fight you during the first coup.”

“Is there anybody from your world that could pull off a resurrection?” Ariel asked. “It sounds like it would be a crazy big spell.” This was an understatement, Belle believed.

“Not that I know of,” Belle said. “but there are so many different worlds represented here, one of them might know something.”

“That’s very smart!” Ariel said with enthusiasm. “We’ll have to question the likely prospects. That may be a task for Milo to tackle.”

“So we’ll tackle the books and the others will handle the interviews,” Belle said. “It’s a plan.”

“I like this new direction,” Ariel said. “but we still need to find a way to counter Ursula’s mind control magic. Maybe the professor will have some luck on that. Let’s dig in?”

“Please,” Belle said. “Reading will help me find some balance here.”


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