Archive for the ‘Writings’ Category

Faith of the Raven Pt. 4

May 19, 2018

The three new companions rode out at dawn. The innkeep would not get up to cook breakfast but allowed them the use of the kitchen. Galath cooked up some eggs and sausage and then packed up some food for the road. Arne had suggested that they just leave as punishment for the lazy innkeep but Galath left a gold piece and Carania approved. While the two finished packing up, Arne swiped the gold piece with nobody the wiser. Now, they were on the path back to the forest with Carania at the lead with Arne and Galath riding side by side. Of course, being a dwarf, Galath was riding a war pony he had purchased a month prior. Arne and Carania each had exotic Kofrani horses. Carania’s had been a gift from the Silverlight family but she wondered how someone as shabbily dressed as Arne could have gotten such an expensive horse. Arne had spent the earlier part of the morning talking softly to his bird, Grimalkin, while Galath and Carania had remained quiet.

Finally, Arne broke the silence. “So, it’s weird to me to see an elf and a dwarf working together. How do you feel about it, fearless leader?”

Carania looked over her shoulder at Arne for a moment and then glanced at Galath before she turned back to watch the road ahead. “It’s true that there exists a long distrust between our peoples,” She said. “but I was brought up differently. I have no problems with dwarves.”

Galath smiled and looked at Arne. “And I have no problem with elves,” he said. “My family was intolerant but we did live underground where all we had were stories and a few unwelcome elven visitors to go by. Once I decided to live above ground, I learned to judge people by the content of their character instead of the pointiness of their ears.”

Carania smiled at that. “That’s a good way of putting it.”

“That is kind of strange, too,” Arne said, turning to look at Galath.

“What’s strange this time?” Galath asked.

“You said that you ‘decided to live above ground’ which is strange already for a dwarf,” Arne said. “On top of that, you are a cleric of Pelor, a sun god, which generally never happens.”

“I recognize that it is strange to worship something a dwarf rarely sees,” Galath said. “However, on a trip to the surface for trading, I was struck by the beauty of the sun that I could not get it out of my mind. I set out on my own and encountered a temple dedicated to Pelor in the first town I encountered.”

“So that’s when you saw the light?” Arne asked with a smirk. Carania groaned pretty audibly at the pun.

Galath just grinned and shrugged. “Yes, I suppose I did. In Overbrook.”

“I can’t understand the religious life,” Arne said. “I rely more on what I can do with my mind.”

“That sounds like a priest of Ioun,” Galath said.

Arne laughed and Grimalkin cawed in an almost laugh. “I am definitely no priest. If I was a priest I would be thrown out of any temple by now.”

“I’m new to the religious thing myself,” Carania said. “This is only my second day as a servant of the Raven Queen.”

Galath and Arne looked at each other and then back at the back of Carania’s head. “The Raven Queen does not have a lot of worshippers, per se. I guess we agreed to help you so quickly that we never heard that story. How did you become a devotee of the Great Spooky One?”

“Don’t mock her,” Galath said.

“I’m not sure if you mean Carania or the Raven Queen but I assure you that both of them can take care of themself,” Arne said.

“Never doubt it,” Carania said as she stroked the hilt of her sword instinctually. “The truth is that the story is strange and it’s still kind of sinking in for me.”

“Well,” Arne said. “Well, ou have to tell the story. It will help pass the time on the way to the battle.”

Carania paused for a moment and thought about the story and suddenly felt a little nervous. “It’s a pretty unbelievable story, I suppose. I’m not sure.”

“Now I’m really curious,” Arne said. “Please tell us. I want to know what I’m dealing with.”

“Tell your story or don’t,” Galath said. “Either way I am with you if your cause is to put an end to an undead threat. Nothing you say can make that cause unworthy.”

“Until the day before yesterday I was a bodyguard for one of the Silverlight daughters. I had trained for the job by training under three diferent sword masters at True Cross.”

“Well,” Arne said. “Being lead by an accomplished and well-trained fighter is definitely a comfort.”

“I’m so glad to comfort you,” Carania said, glancing back to show her sarcasm with a smirk. “I was on my way to a new assignment at the Capital when I was ambushed by a few thugs. I was skewered by an arrow and I fell to the ground and bled out. I died.”

“I can only imagine how horrible that was,” Galath said.

Carania nodded. “The next thing I knew, I was in a strange place talking to a woman who claimed to be the Raven Queen. She offered me my life back as long as I hunted those who would mock the barrier between life and death and the undead horrors they might unleash. It was not much of a choice so here I am.”

“I don’t know which is scarier,” Arne said. “That being real or you being crazy.”

“It’s true,” Carania said. “I don’t know who else would have had that power and would have left this mark on me when I woke up.” She held up her hand with the raven symbol on it.

“I believe it,” Galath said. “I have never directly conversed with Pelor or Lathander but I have felt their presence and the existence of religious visions is known. I’m envious even though I can see the burden she placed on your shoulders.”

“I suppose there are things beyond this world that I have not experienced,” Arne said. “For the record, I think she chose the right person to be her champion but we’ll see if she was right. Won’t we?”

“I suppose we will,” Carania said.

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When It All Ended Pt. 12

May 12, 2018

In the morning, Cassandra was sitting at the table near the kitchen by herself first. She was pretty much the only morning person of the group. She had the jar holding Monela sitting on the table in front of her, next to the eggs and sausage she had summoned from thin air. Galath and William came down the stairs together next. They both eyed the jar warily but sat down and food and drink were put in front of them. None of the three chose to talk just yet. Morgan and Percival came down next and they looked rested and in good spirits. Sensing the mood, even the usually verbose Percy stayed quiet while he started to eat his breakfast.

The group expected Garth last but first Clio glided down the stairs with a big smile on her face. As they all stared in surprise, she walked over to the table and grabbed a handful of eggs and shoved them into her mouth before walking out of the mansion through the front door. Everyone’s gaze was drawn to the top of the stairs where Garth had just awkwardly coughed before descending the stairs. He walked down and sat at the table with everyone and took hold of a magically conjured chalice and drank deeply of the juice it held. There was a very pregnant pause as everyone tried not to stare at him.

Garth started to eat as if nothing had happened but he was the first one to break. “Alright, yes. I shared a night of passion with the faerie woman.”

William grinned. “And how was it? Are you intact?” Many of the group stifled a laugh at that.

“I am in peak condition,” Garth said. “Ready to face danger.”

“How was it?” Percy asked. Morgan elbowed him in the ribs gently and he gave her an apologetic look.

“Unforgettable,” Garth said. “I’m really not interested in kissing and telling. I know I would normally boast and share all of the gory details but this is a woman who could literally tear out my spine. The good news is that she has agreed to assist us today. She is actually itching to get her hands dirty.”

“Didn’t she do that last night?” Percy asked which earned him another elbow from Morgan but pretty much everybody laughed, even Garth.

“That’s good news,” Morgan said. “We’re welcome to have her and, of course, Cassandra has enlisted the djinn Monela. Thank you, Cassandra, and thank you Monela. You will be released from that jar soon enough. Percival and I also enlisted the assistance of Amien’s wolfpack.”

“And you’re alright with that, Percy?” Galath asked, half-joking and half-concerned.

“We need all hands on deck for this one,” Percy said. “After this, Amien can ride or run off into the sunset and I’ll never have to see him again.”

“Or he could die in battle,” Garth added helpfully.

“Nobody is dying today,” Morgan said. “We are going to take out this dragon together.”

“Agreed,” William said. “I’ve never known a better group of adventurers than Morgan’s Raiders. In truth, I have never known a better group of people.”

“I’d still be alone at the academy if it weren’t for all of you,” Cassandra said.

“I would still be petrified in the middle of the forest,” Galath said.

“I’d still be a mere sellsword,” William said.

“I’d probably be locked up somewhere,” Garth said.

“There’s still time for that,” William said and everybody laughed again.

“And I’d still be puttering around that library,” Percy said. He and Morgan paused for a kiss.

“I’m proud of you all,” Morgan said. “You have saved the day with me several times over. We saved the world together when we barely knew each other. Now that we’re a family, we’re unstoppable. If it was any other group, I don’t think I would be leading them into the capital of my homeland to fight a dragon.”

“So what’s the plan?” Galath asked. Galath had always gotten to the point fairly quickly. One kind of expected a cleric to hold patience as one of their virtues but his directness had saved lives before. Although he was a healer, he never claimed to be a doctor so he was never worried about his bedside manner.

“Right,” Morgan said. “Let’s get to it.” She smiled and mentally composed the bullet points in her head. “The guard, Amien’s pack, Clio, and Monela will go in first and engage the dragon’s hangers-on. If the dragon chooses to engage at that point, then we will spring into action. Otherwise, we will head directly to the palace roof. Hopefully, Princess Cora will lure the dragon to the roof and we will fight it there. If not, we will have to confront it inside the castle which is less than ideal. After we take down the dragon, we help finish off any lizardmen or wyverns left over. This is our show so we’ll start and finish the fight. Any questions?”

“What’s our strategy when fighting the dragon?” Percy asked.

“I’m thinking it’s the same as when we fought that beholder that one time,” Morgan said.

Cassandra had a photographic memory and was a perpetual student so she felt compelled to speak. “William stays in the dragon’s face while you hit it with arrows from a distance. I hang back just in range and hit it with spells and try to disable it. Percy and Galath also hang back to heal and do what they can. Garth will be sneaky and look for openings to attack. If somebody falls, we get them up and keep going.”

“Exactly,” Morgan said. “And this breakfast you just fed us is our hero’s feast, right?”

“Yes,” Cassandra said. “I used my last chalice to summon it.”

“I was wondering why I suddenly felt braver,” Percy said.

“I suppose all that’s left is to go out and greet the day?” Garth asked.

“Yes,” William said. “Which means you’ll have to see your Clio again.”

“She’s not my Clio…,” Garth said as they got up from the table. The table and all of the food vanished as they did and Cassandra grabbed her jar before it could clatter to the floor. Morgan and Percy were last out of the door and they both looked back at their home and then at each other before going out to meet the day.

Your Next Assignment

April 28, 2018

Robin yawned as she turned on her laptop. It was eight in the morning and she was busy shoveling eggs into her mouth as she waited for the computer to boot up. She had finished her previous temp assignment a few days earlier and she was starting to get nervous. She was sending out applications for real jobs but several days of no pay wore on her nerves. She could also feel herself getting too comfortable at home as the days passed from when she last went to a job and acted semi-professional. Her computer finally booted and she brought up her e-mail with her stomach tightening at the potential of interview requests or requests for additional information.

In fact, there was none of that. Robin did not have time to be disappointed, though, because the only e-mail she had received overnight was one from her contact at the temp agency, Stacy. It was really vague but it talked about a new assignment. She looked for a date and time and the other usual details but that was the odd thing. There was a request from Stacy for a meeting and it was not an address she was familiar with. She asked Robin to show up dressed casual and the time was ten in the morning on the current date. That last bit made Robin’s eyes go wide and she nearly spit out some eggs. That did not leave much time to get dressed and get to the meeting. Casual dress probably did not include pajamas.

After a quick shower and a change of clothes, Robin hopped into her beat-up car and headed toward the meeting. In the frenzy of getting dressed, putting on makeup, and climbing into the car, she had had no time to consider what this job might be. She was used to tedious office work which was occasionally interrupted by actual research work where she felt a little like Nancy Drew combined with Indiana Jones. This was way out of the usual parameters and Stacy usually let Robin know exactly what was happening. This was weird and it set Robin on edge. She had spent her life making sure that her interactions with weird stayed strictly in fiction. Experiencing it now gave her a sour feeling in her stomach.

She arrived at the address and it was a series of storage lockers with no sign and nobody around. It did not even look like a business and instead looked like the kind of place junkies would shoot up. She warily got out of her car and that is when Stacy stepped out from behind a wall. The mousy office girl looked totally out of place in the worn neighborhood.

“Hey Robin,” Stacy said, looking up from a clipboard. “Welcome. I’m glad you made it.”

“Just barely,” Robin said. “You’ve got me really curious about this job, Stacy. I’m kind of feeling weird about all of this.”

“Well,” Stacy said. “I can understand that. Unfortunately, the name of the employer that is contracting you is to be kept confidential.”

“Umm,” Robin said. “How am I supposed to get my orders?”

Stacy smiled. “Well, I do have a solution here. The employer has included a journal in the welcome package that they say will tell you everything you need to know.” She held out an old leatherbound book and handed it to Robin. Robin looked it over an flipped it open and the pages were blank. She was more confused than ever. “Additionally, I am to give you this key and point you in the right direction.” Robin took the key in her hand and instantly felt strange.

“Point me in the right direction?” Robin asked. She felt as if she was suddenly underwater, all floaty but under pressure.

“Yes,” Stacy said. “In there.” Stacy pointed at one of the storage units and Robin felt herself nod.

Robin started to shamble toward the storage unit without another word. The world started to tilt side to side but she kept an eye on that storage unit door. She was still clutching the key and the journal as she struggled to walk toward that storage unit. Each step became harder and harder. As she approached the sliding door it slid open and she found herself desperately walking into the darkness.

It seemed like a moment later when she woke up and she realized that she was in a speeding car, heading down a highway she had never seen before. She reached down to grab a cold bottle of water and sipped from it as she drove. She held onto the wheel hard as she tried to look for some signs or some clue as to where she was. She looked down and the key from before was in the ignition. The journal was open on the passenger seat but she had no time to inspect it further. There was a post-it on the dashboard that said “turn here” and she almost missed the exit. She kept driving until she saw an open field to drive onto and she turned off the car and tried to breathe.

After a while, she took her seatbelt off and opened the driver’s side door to get out. As she started to slide out, something nudged her leg. She reached down to grab it and found that it was the hilt of a sword. What the Hell was going on? She settled back into the driver’s seat and grabbed the journal and as she did she saw a pen and a stack of blank post-its. She wondered what that was about. She looked at the journal and where it was blank earlier, there was now writing. A passage caught her eye.

“To slay the beast, grasp the sword and do not back down”

She shook her head and slipped out of the car but grabbed the sword and drew it from its sheath. It looked really old so what was it doing in this car she had never seen before? She had no chance to think about it further as she heard a growl behind her. She turned to see some sort of dog creature, crouching in the tall grass. It charged and she dodged to the side as it sailed by. It lunged again and instincts took over and she slashed at it with the sword. It fell to the ground still and bleeding. There was a sudden pain in her arm as she watched a tattoo of the dog creature form. What was going on?

Xenopus

April 27, 2018

“And then the little girl says ‘No, what did it look like before it died?” Melissa said. “And then the guy goes” Then she made a great show of looking surprised and then she burst out laughing. I heard myself laughing but I know that it was not real. The joke was not all that funny and I was distracted. I was out of my element and more than a little uncomfortable.

I slowly cut into the steak in front of me and pushed each forkful into my mouth one by one. It was probably fine but I was used to a mouth full of earthworm instead. I thought of the delicious variety of worms that I had enjoyed at lunch which had been far superior to the steak. I understood that I was in the minority in that opinion. I knew very well that most would shake their head at me with a gentle yet smug smile and tell me that I would figure it out eventually. ‘You’ll see’ they might say as if I did not know myself.

“Do you get it?” Melissa asked. She looked expectantly at me and I smiled back at her.

“Yeah,” I said while nodding. “I got it. Very funny.”

It is not that Melissa was a bad person or that I did not enjoy her company. In another world, she could be my friend and I would definitely enjoy that. However, it was really the pressure of the situation. I was expected to be here. Not specifically the restaurant but specifically on a date. Which was weird because I did not want to be on a date. Yet here I was, talking to a perfectly nice person about perfectly nice things. All the time I was thinking about how I wished I was back home in the water, swimming around. The chair was uncomfortable and I felt dry.

“Is anything wrong?” Melissa asked. “You’ve been really quiet.”

“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m just not used to this fork and knife thing. I usually shove things in my mouth with my claws, you know?”

“Oh,” Melissa said. She blinked and looked back at her food, suddenly finding her salad very interesting.

This date was a setup. I could not believe that I had gone along with this. When Raina had suggested that I go out with her friend from work, I shrugged and tried to move to a different subject. She never got the clue and persisted to bug me about it. I could not shake her no matter what excuse I made and finally, I had been forced to give in. If I told her that I Was content, she probably would have shaken her head and told me that I was just being shy. Nobody wanted to believe that a guy could wake up alone and feel good about it. For the record, they did not believe a woman could do the same.

“So,” Melissa said. “Do you watch Blue Bloods?”

“What?” I asked. “Um, no, I don’t have a television. It’s a bit difficult with all of the water.”

“Oh,” Melissa said. She was clearly disappointed.

“What’s it about?” I asked, not wanting to take the air out of her balloon yet again.

“Oh!” Melissa said with a smile. “It’s about a family of cops and one lawyer. They fight crime and deal with family stuff.”

“Well, I can approve of fighting crime for sure,” I said. She did not immediately chuckle at that softball so I blurted out. “I had an uncle who was a lawyer.”

“Cool,” she said, clearly uninterested. “Do you get out to watch movies ever?”

“It’s hard to get out of the stream, really,” I said. “This is the longest I’ve been out of water for a while.”

“So have you seen any movies?” She asked, her opinion of me clearly falling lower every second.

I shrugged. “I’ve seen Die Hard.”

She laughed. “That doesn’t count. Everybody has seen Die Hard.”

I nodded and smiled, feeling like a complete jackass. Obviously, I had just failed some test. I searched my mind for something to talk about with this girl. She deserved pleasant conversation at a minimum. I was definitely failing at that task. I thought about every topic I was even remotely knowledgeable about and nothing seemed like it would be up Melissa’s alley. She was approaching something ‘normal’ which was a bit frightening to me. I am anything but normal. I am a freak. I am broken.

“This is a bad date, huh?” She asked. She smiled at me in a way that inspired honesty.

“Yeah, uh, it’s pretty bad,” I said. I tried to smile to soften the blow.

“Sorry,” Melissa said. “I made all the decisions for this date and now you’re not having any fun.”

“It’s not your fault,” I said. “I think it might be my fault a little bit. I didn’t want to come out and I did anyway. Maybe nobody’s at fault. We can’t blame Raina, for sure.”

“She’s great,” Melissa said.

“She really is,” I said.

“Do you have a thing for Raina?” Melissa asked as if that would explain everything. If it were true, it would explain everything. It also would be pretty danged convenient and I would definitely not be in the position I had put myself.

“No,” I said. “I don’t have a thing for anybody. There’s nothing wrong with you. I just don’t want this.”

“Don’t want what?” Melissa asked. She looked as confused as I often felt.

“Dates,” I said. “A girlfriend. A boyfriend. A significant other. To impress anyone.”

“Wow,” she said. “That’s really weird.”

“Tell me about it,” I said. “Are you going to tell me that I’m wrong.”

“No,” She said. “I don’t get it but I guess I get it.” She shrugged.

“Thank you,” I said. “Can I drive you home?”

“No,” She said. “I’ll just take the bus.”

I nodded. “Okay. Sorry.”

She nodded in return and walked out.

Faith of the Raven Pt. 3

April 26, 2018

The woods had been infested with the undead and human thugs. Carania knew that with the Raven Queen’s boons she could probably save the day but there was time to be more efficient about it. So, it was time to do a little recruiting. Few things banded people together like dealing with the undead and Carania was counting on that. After examining her map, she decided to head back toward the town of Thorncatch that she had previously just passed through. She found the road again and made her way back to the town limits. Along the way, she discovered her horse Rhiannon wandering on the side of the road. She had thankfully fled when Carania had been shot and killed. Rhiannon was particularly happy when Carania approached.

The two of them stood outside of the gate of the one manor at Thorncatch which Carania assumed housed the Thorncatch family. Most villages and cities in Eloria were built around and named after the noble families that lived there. However, the gate was fastened shut and there was not a bit of movement in the place no matter how long Carania banged on the gate and yelled. Admitting defeat, she headed to the only tavern in town which bore the name of The Grasshopper. Carania pushed her way inside and pulled her hood down and shook her hair free. The first thing she was confronted with was the warmth and smoke from a fire. The second thing she noticed that there was a bird in the rafters and it was a raven.

Carania stared dumbfounded at the bird and it turned its head to stare back at her as it cawed. Strangely, she saw intelligence in the birds’ eyes. Of course, she knew that ravens were intelligent birds in their own right but there was something more in those shiny, obsidian eyes. She looked down at her hand which had the symbol of the raven on it and then back at the actual raven. It was too much to just be a coincidence, right?

“I could draw you a picture,” a voice said. “before she pecks out your eyes for looking at her funny.”

Carania tore her eyes away from the bird and looked toward the source of the voice. “You see it too?” She asked. She thought maybe the Raven Queen had sent the raven as a sign.

“Of course I see it too and she’s a her not an it,” the young man said. “Her name is Grim, short for Grimalkin.”

“Wait,” Carania said. “isn’t that just a generic term for a cat? That’s a bird.” She gestured at Grim as she said it as if it was not an obvious statement.

“Very smart. She is my familiar,” the young man said. “Which means she can change. We all change. She was a cat when I first summoned her but she changed along the way.” Carania sensed there was more meaning here than the words conveyed but she felt it was not the time to probe that particular subject.

“Sorry for assuming so much about tour familiar,” Carania said. “So you must be proficient in magic then? Oh! My name is Carania Garion. What’s your name?”

The young man took a drag off of the herb he had been smoking and smiled. “Sure, why not? My name is Arne and yes I am a wizard.”

“Arne what?” Carania asked.

“Simply Arne,” he said with a hard look that said ‘drop the subject’. “What’s your deal, Carania Garion?”

“I’m a paladin of the Raven Queen and I came here to ask the Thorncatch family for help in hunting the necromancer in the woods near here,” Carania said.

There was a silence during which Grim cawed and Arne took another drag from his herb and then he blew the smoke out slowly. “That was pretty direct,” he said. “I like that. It’s refreshingly honest. Unfortunately, Thorncatch Manor is all closed down. Lord and Lady Thorncatch left one day to travel and never came back. Tough luck there.”

“I suppose I could attempt the hunt on my own,” Carania said. “but I was told to get help where I could get it.”

“Told? Is there coin in it then?” Arne asked. “I could be convinced to help for the promise of a challenge and sufficient pay.”

“Well,” Carania said as she thought hard about that. “it is sort of a holy mission but I bet that the necromancer will have some gold that you’re free to have a share of.”

“A holy mission?” Arne asked. “I’m not so sure about all of that. Don’t get me wrong. I am experienced but I am not a holy person and I have never been on a holy mission before.”

A dwarf sitting at a table alone spoke up. “You’ve never been on a holy mission? Truly? It’s a little bit like sailing with the wind at your back. Somebody out there wants you to succeed. My name’s Galath Windham and I’m a cleric of Pelor. I’m definitely available to help you on your quest.”

“Just like that?” Arne asked. “I guess my share just shrank, huh?” He stubbed out the burning herb he had been smoking on the surface of the bar. It was not the most polite thing to do but Carania did not see any member of the staff about to yell at the wizard and Carania was not about to ruin a chance by scolding him herself.

Carania turned back to face Arne. “So you’ve let go of your reservations then? You’ll join me as well?” She smiled at the young man who paused and made a face like he had been tricked.

“Like I said,” Arne said. “I enjoy a good challenge and it’s been a long time since one came along. You came here looking for help and you’re going to get it.”

“Thank you,” Carania said. “I seem to have lucked out in Thorncatch afterall.”

“I take it from your statement that you have taken me up on my offer of help as well?” Galath asked. “Will an elf take help from a dwarf?”

“Hmm,” Carania said. “I suppose I have little choice.” Galath looked a bit disappointed at that but then Carania smiled. “Aside from that, I have no bigotry in my heart. All who oppose undeath are welcome.”

“That’s definitely in my job description,” Galath said. “I’ll fight by your side.”

“And I’ll fight a little behind the both of you where I hopefully won’t get hurt,” Arne said.

“That’s fair enough,” Carania said. “Sleep well because we ride out at dawn.”

Vampire Brain

April 25, 2018

Living in Neptune had never been the most stable thing in the first place. It was a town divided by class warfare, those living in the fabulous 90909 zip code versus everyone else. Like most 09ers, Crystal had lived the high life thanks to her parents both being high-priced lawyers in high demand and a sizeable inheritance from Grandma. She had never wanted for anything in her life. Here parents’ wealth and the wealth of her friends was the eternal wellspring that would always be there. When the Hellmouth had opened in the basement of Caitlin Ford’s mansion, it had changed everything. Vampires were something sparkly in that movie with Robert Pattinson one moment and then they were suddenly real. The town of Neptune had changed. Instead of the haves versus the have-nots, it was humans versus vampires and demons.

Crystal had been at a party at Caitlin’s when it all went down. At the time, Caitlin was attempting to buy her way back into the hearts of Neptune’s finest. She had left a bad taste in everybody’s mouth when she had cheated on her boyfriend with a biker who later turned up beaten to a pulp. When the vampires arrived, they just started ripping through the mansion and feeding off of the wealthy guests. Crystal had been lucky to have been in the spacious backyard when it started. As she ran, she witnessed the infamous Veronica Mars try to fight the vampires and then the whole Sheriff’s office arrived. In the melee, Crystal had been forced to fight which is when she discovered that she had powers of her own. She was recruited by a squad of Buffy Summers’ slayers and taught that she had had potential which was realized when she was exposed to the Hellmouth’s magic. They brought her back to the Neptune Grand which would be a base for the Slayer Army and a refuge for survivors of the vampire attacks.

Although Crystal had become a lieutenant in this new army, she had recently been benched because she had violated the quarantine agreed upon by the Sheriff’s Office and the Slayers. She had let two scientists and some mercenaries in from Seattle. She thought maybe the scientists could help and the Slayers had agreed but she was still grounded for breaking the rules. She had decided to check in on the scientists while she was stuck on guard duty to see if any progress had been made. If they provided new information, maybe she would be allowed back on the front lines where it was not so boring. She took the stairs down from the roof and headed to the makeshift laboratory. The door was open but Crystal knocked on the doorframe. Almost getting killed and combatting the undead had somehow impressed the importance of politeness.

Ravi looked up from scribbling some notes in a journal and smiled at her. “Oh come in,” he said in that British accent “It’s nice of you to check up on us, Crystal.”

“Well,” Crystal said. “I’m excited that you might have news each time I visit.”

Ravi shrugged. “Scientific progress takes time. I know things are desperate what with the gaping doorway to Hell but I can only go so fast.”

Crystal nodded. “Has the vampire body helped? It’s strangely hard to kill one without it bursting into dust and ash so getting one intact like you asked was really hard.”

“It’s been fascinating so far,” Ravi said. “I have been able to figure out a little based on my findings compared to these Watchers journals. I always wished that magic could be real, I guess that kind of backfired.”

“Be careful what you wish for,” Crystal said. She lifted the sheet a bit from the body and tilted her head to the side. “Hey, um, I notice its brain is missing.”

Ravi nodded and swallowed a bite of the sandwich he had been eating. “Yes, well, I dissected it.”

“And then I turned some of it into shish kabob,” a voice from behind Crystal said. She turned to see the pale woman with white hair that she had met before. Except that Olivia, the woman who she had thought was a scientist too, was now in a cage. Olivia smirked at her surprise. “And then I ate them.”

Crystal backed up, making sure she was out of reach. “Why would you do that?” She asked.

Before Liv could answer, Ravi stepped up to stand next to Crystal. He looked unconcerned. “Liv is a Zombie, Crystal.”

“A zombie?” Crystal asked. “Weren’t vampires and demons enough?”

“Zombies aren’t actually like they are in the movies and television,” Ravi said. “For the most part, zombies retain their personalities. Liv is completely harmless.” Liv gave him a questioning look. “Mostly harmless.”

“Then why is she in a cage?” Crystal asked.

“I’m a little drunk on vampire brain,” Liv said. “When I eat somebody’s brains, I can usually access their memories. The problem is that I also temporarily take on their personality too.”

“It’s been worse,” Ravi said. “She was a racist once. Actually twice.”

“The predator part of me only wants to get out and hunt so I volunteered to be put in this cage,” Liv said. “How does Veronica do this all of the time?”

Crystal felt the need to stand up for a fellow Neptune native, somebody she would never have given the time of day to in her old life. “Veronica Mars is a vampire but she has a soul,” she said. “We checked.”

“My working hypotheses,” Ravi said. “is that because Liv is getting this mindset from a vampire without a soul, her soul is not allowed to weigh in.”

“Have you learned anything at least?” Crystal said, looking Liv in the eye.

“I passed some locations of some vampire nests up the chain of command,” Liv said. “I had some visions and this guy got around. Hey, can I ask you something?”

Crystal took another step back and nodded. “Sure.”

“Are you in Major’s squad?” Liv asked.

“Major who?” Crystal asked.

“Major Lilywhite,” Liv said. “Major is his first name. He came in with us but he hasn’t visited in a while. You’re obviously not on the same squad.”

“Sorry,” Crystal said.

“If you see him,” Liv said. “could you tell him I’m looking for him? Also maybe mentioned that I’m a little tied up at the moment and I can’t come to him.”

“Sure,” Crystal said. “I’ll do my best.”

Reunion at the New Moon Academy of Wizardry

April 20, 2018

Hollin Bellringer had arrived at the school reunion for the New Moon School of Wizardry a few minutes earlier. He was still tingling a bit hours after stepping out of the teleportation circle. He usually did not use teleportation as a mode of transportation but the invitation to the reunion had included a free round trip to Braddish which was only a long walk or a short ride to the school. He remembered making that trip with his friends late in his school days to eat lunch and try to sneak ale from the more flexible tavern workers. This time, the trip had been a bit shorter since he had hitched a ride with a carriage heading toward the school which had already been weighed down with others headed for the reunion. He had been hesitant about going at all but now that he had arrived, nostalgia had taken over and he found himself smiling.

They decided to hold the reunion outside in the Herald Memorial Courtyard. It was a full moon, of course, but those in attendance were also asked at the door to contribute some sort of light-producing spell for atmosphere. It was a little awkward when a non-magical guest showed up and had to inform the greeters but it was a nice idea all the same. The school could easily light the courtyard as there were magic lanterns already in place for safety and nighttime events. However, when Tritsi Highweather had volunteered to organize the event, the idea had caught on quickly when she suggested it. It was a way to show how much they had all grown from when a simple spell like Light was difficult to conjure. Hollin could see that Tritsi was quite pleased with herself over near the door, chatting away.

There was a tap on his shoulder and Hollin turned around to see Roxen Shadowend standing there in the dim yet festive light. Her floor-length dress showed off her deep blue skin and her hair was braided to highlight her prominent horns. Roxen was a tiefling, a race of humans who mixed their bloodline with dark, infernal or abyssal powers. Some saw tieflings strictly as servants of devils and demons but Hollin had been raised to give everybody a chance. It often paid to have an open mind.

“Roxy,” he said. “It’s been a really long time. How are you holding up?” She held out a long-stemmed glass which looked to be full of Blackwine and Hollin took it.

She smiled brightly, wickedly sharp teeth showing. “Things are great, Holls. I fell in with a monster hunting group a while ago and I have been having a blast.”

“Really?” he asked. “I can’t imagine getting used to all of that traveling. It also sounds like a dangerous line of work.”

“Of course it is,” she said. “but that’s part of the thrill. When you’re facing down a room of skeletons with only a few sellswords in between I just get goosebumps. It’s amazing.”

Hollin eyed her skeptically. “So you sleep in a tent?”

Roxy huffed and practically pouted, knowing where he was going with that question. “When I have to. There are inns all over the place too.”

“Sorry, Rox, I just know what family you come from,” he said, obviously teasing her a bit. “You had high standards back in school. You had a whole bed shipped in if I remember correctly.”

Roxen shrugged. “My parents allowed it so who was I to turn it down? Regardless, I’m made of stronger stuff these days.” She posed, making her right bicep bulge a little. It was not that impressive in general but for a wizard, it was pretty good. “What are you up to, judgy boy?”

Hollin was about to answer when he happened to catch sight of a dwarf making his way through the crowd. His red beard was out of control as usual but his hair was almost as well-braided as Roxen’s. “Thon!” he called out and the dwarf made his way over. “Thon Ironbeard, it’s been ages.”

Thon took a long swig from his pint of ale. “Too long,” he agreed. “I need to stand next to you so I look more handsome.”

Roxen rolled her eyes. “He looks fine,” she said.

“More than fine, I hope,” Hollin said.

“Hollin was just about to tell me what he’s been up to lately,” Roxen said. Both she and Thon looked expectantly. “Go on.”

Hollin nodded and smiled and sipped from his glass the pitch black but sweet liquid. “Well, it’s nothing as exciting as monster hunting. I just set up an enchanting workshop in Overbrook.”

“That’s kind of boring but not really surprising,” Roxen said. “You were always the fastest enchanter in our years there.”

“You were too good,” Thon said. “You must be raking it in. Overbrook has plenty of nobles and adventurers and the Guard pass through there all the time.”

Hollin smiled. “I do alright. It can get busy but most days are pretty laid back, the cost of enchanting is pretty limiting for the average person.” The truth was that Hollin had fallen in with the Broken Skull gang. They paid him quite well to enchant for them while he was still free to sell his services to whoever else came in the door. He was also their magic expert in that region and he consulted on a lot of their magical issues and problems. Of course, he would never tell even his oldest friends that.

A woman passed by and the hem of her dress brushed against Hollin’s leg which drew his attention. He watched her walk by, her auburn hair flowing loose and her green eyes sparkling. He knew exactly who she was and that is what surprised him.

“Is that Cassandra Oakspring?” Hollin asked.

“Looks like you don’t need glasses yet,” Thon said and took a big swig of his ale. “That’s her alright.”

Roxen looked around wildly until she spotted her. “Oh man, wow,” she said.

“Yeah,” Hollin said. “I wasn’t sure if she was going to come or not. She killed a dragon. I would have thought she would have better things to do.”

“Yeah but she lives here now,” Roxen said. “She’s definitely the coolest girl in school now.”

Hollin looked away from Cassandra and at Roxen with a smile. “Got a little crush?”

Roxen blushed. “No.”

“I’m thinking maybe she does,” Thon said with a grin. The two guys laughed and Roxen turned slightly away in mock anger.

It was great being back. Hollin found himself smiling brightly, far from his normally complicated life back in Overbrook. Part of him wanted to avoid Cassandra like the plague but another part of him wanted the thrill of talking to an officer of the law while working for one of the biggest thieve’s guilds in the country. This reunion was about to get interesting.

Faith of the Raven Pt. 2

April 19, 2018

Carania took a big gulp of wine as she processed this. The goddess of death was sitting in front of her quite casually. It was unnerving but it all fit. The black on black, the white mask, the feathered dress, the aura of immense power. Carania felt she had probably been impertinent to a goddess and that had to be remedied. “I’m sorry for offending you.”

“Offending me?” The queen said with a laugh. “You have impressed me. As for how I know your name, I am a goddess but you are not unknown in the world. You are Carania, possibly the best with a sword in Silverlight not to mention your proficiency with other weapons. But what interests me most is your name. You were born Cara. Caring Cara, always helping everyone as you grew up. You not only played with other children, you watched over them too. However, when you took your fencing training, you added the ‘nia’ at the end of your name.”

Carania nodded. “Yes, ma’am. I felt like I needed a change at the time. I never tried to hide anything about myself.”

“Ma’am?” the Queen asked and she laughed again. It was an almost musical laugh. “Very cute.” She waved her hand and her mask was suddenly gone and Carania immediately averted her eyes, looking down at her empty glass. There was rich laughter from the other side of the table. “You can look, dear girl. Few are allowed to see the true face of death but I trust you. Death can seem cruel but death is kind, I assure you.”

Carania looked up and saw what looked like a young woman Amela’s age. She was breathtakingly beautiful. Her waist length hair had suddenly gotten shorter and wavier and it was gathered in a stylish bun atop her head. Her face was painted to accentuate her features with striking black lips and heavy black around her eyes. Her skin was actually dark which was a bit surprising compared to the ghostly white of the mask. She looked almost like she was from the deserts to the north but she was a goddess so that could not be.

“It is like you have two names or two parts to your name. It illustrates the two sides of you. Compassion and the Sword. Both tools can be a great asset in what comes next and I need you to have every advantage you can get your hands on. I need you at your best, Carania.”

Carania swallowed the rest of the wine. “You need me? What possible use can the Raven Queen have for a mortal such as me?”

“I cannot walk the material plane as easily as you can,” the Queen said. “I need a champion out there fighting for me. I have many enemies and many things to set right and I need help. I think with your mind, your heart, and your sword, I think you can be exactly who I need.”

Carania blinked. “This is a job offer? I feel silly reminding you but I’m dead.”

“I can send you back,” the Raven Queen said. “As long as you agree to be bound to me.”

“What exactly would I do?” Carania asked.

The Raven Queen leaned forward. “You would be my sheriff. You would roam the world, mostly sending undead back to their graves by force. Undead rise all the time and they are unnatural and should be put down without hesitation.”

Carania nodded. “I’ve never met any undead but I would agree. Am I supposed to do this alone?”

“I would suggest that you partner with other people once you get back. Clergy and paladins of great faith are especially useful for this cause.”

“So, go back, recruit a fighting force and eliminate undead around the world? Is that all?” Carania mimed writing a list on her palm.

The Raven Queen laughed again. “For that, you get your life back and, seeing as how you’re an elf, you have a long way ahead of you. There will be adventures and I’m sure there’s some coin in what I’m asking if riches are your thing.”

“Where would I even start?” Carania asked.

“You would start with revenge.” Suddenly, the Raven Queen was holding up one of the arrows with the black fletching. “This is an insult. Their arrows are not even fletched with raven feathers. These are crow feathers. Fitting since the people who shot you are interfering with my harvest.” Carania looked a little lost. “There is a necromancer using human thugs to kill people for the necromancer to raise later. This necromancer is pathetic but he could become a problem later. I want you to take him and any undead out.”

“There’s plenty of incentive for that first mission,” Carania said. “I can’t pretend that the rest of it isn’t attractive either. You’re right. I do want to protect people and I have heard how nasty the undead can be.”

“Very nasty,” the Raven Queen said. “The unthinking undead such as zombies and ghouls are bad enough but the ones that think are even worse.  Eventually, you will be hunting down wights, vampires, death knights, and even liches. Do you think that you are up to the task?”

“As long as you’re not sending me back in this dress,” Carania said.

The Raven Queen laughed. “You can’t wear your armor all the time, Carania. If you do, it becomes a part of you and it becomes harder to take off when you need to. Figuratively, of course.”

“So, how does this work?” Carania asked. “How do you send me back?”

“Carania Garon, I charge you to purge the land of the undead scourge and to kill those who would unleash that threat on the world. In return, you will be resurrected, you will be harder to kill, and you will be granted special abilities to carry out your mission. In short, you will be a paladin and champion in my name. Do you accept this charge?”

Carania swallowed and nodded but looked at the Raven Queen with a steely gaze. “I do.”

“Take my hand, Carania,” the Raven Queen said. When Carania reached out to shake the Raven Queen’s hand, there was an incredible feeling just from her touch. It was cold but there was an odd tingling energy as well. The Raven Queen bent down and kissed Carania’s hand and Carania felt some of that power enter her body. She realized at that moment that she had been comfortably numb and now she felt everything again and it was exhilarating. “Goodbye for now. See you in your dreams.”

Carania suddenly woke up on the forest floor and stumbled to her feet. There was still blood everywhere but there was not even a single hole in her armor. She looked at her right hand and there was an imprint of the Raven Queen’s lips. The imprint slowly blossomed into the image of a raven with its wings spread. Carania looked out into the forest. It was time to go hunting.

One, Please

April 17, 2018

Frank was sitting in his office going over the latest receipts. He was also idly paging through some of the solicitations for upcoming movies on offer. He could hear the printer at the box office and its steady, familiar rhythm. Business was pretty good and it eased his anxiety about running a private movie theater. He had offers from all of the chains to join up but he kind of liked being able to pick the best movies. It made it so he had to worry about his business each week but it was a small price to pay. Besides, it was Monday and the weekend receipts were the best they had been in a long time. It probably had to do with half of the current movies being Oscar nominees. He had slipped away from the office often to rewatch a few of them and they were really good. He often did not care for most so-called Oscar movies but things were looking up.

There was a knock at the door and Frank looked up. There was almost never a problem on Mondays, at least not any that required Frank’s attention. The semi-retired woman who ran box office on Mondays, Sue, was firm and usually could disarm potential problems with a hard look. So, it was a surprise that there was a knock on the door of his private office.

“Come in?” Frank said, a little unsure.

The door opened and Sue poked her head inside. “Hey, Frank. There’s a guy out here complaining.”

“Complaining?” Frank asked. “You can usually deal with a little complaining, Susan.”

Sue grunted. “You know I hate when people use my full name. Something about him is just so… insistent. I think you should talk to him so I can get back to cleaning theater 3.”

“That’s Jimmy’s job,” Frank said. “Wake him up and tell him to get back to work. And you know what? Send the guy in here.”

“Mmhmm,” Sue said and closed the door. A few moments later, the door opened and an unassuming man walked in. He looked a little annoyed but grateful to get to talk to somebody about it.

Frank stood up and motioned to the chair on the other side of the desk. “Please, come in and sit down. My name is Frank Eastman and I own this theater.”

“Eastman,” the man said. “Like the man who invented the film camera. Fitting that you would own a movie theater.”

“I guess so,” Frank said. “I’m not sure if there’s any relation. What brings you to my office, Mister…” It was a blatant attempt at fishing for the man’s name.

“Mister is fine,” the man said. “I have a list of complaints, though. I guess I should get started?”

“Please,” Frank said. “If there’s a problem with my movie theater, I’m interested in fixing it.”

Mister smiled and shrugged. “These are not just problems with your theater, they are problems with all movie theaters.”

“Now you’ve really got my attention,” Frank said. The man seemed incredibly intelligent and warm so why had his complaints unnerved Sue so much? It seemed weird.

The man flipped open a small notepad. “Well, for starters. I had to move my seat because a woman sat down in front of me. She was wearing really strong perfume and it burned my eyes.”

“Alright,” Frank said. “That’s rude. I’m not a fan of people wearing perfume or cologne in public myself but what do you want me to do? It’s not like we can sniff people as they walk in and toss out the smelly ones.”

“Noted,” Mister said. “The couple behind me was talking during the whole movie. Every time I looked back at them, they lowered their voices and whispered but they would only get loud again over time. I had already moved, so I did not want to move again.”

“Well, again, that’s pretty rude but I can’t really stand over everybody’s shoulder and shush them whenever they talk. Movies can inspire people to talk sometimes and I can’t really stop it even if I sometimes want to.”

Mister only grunted at that. “Should I even get into the whole trouble with smartphones? Set aside talking and texting, just checking your phone during the movie can be distracting as the light from the screen suddenly acts as a beacon.”

Frank laughed a little at that. “I hate that too. I really do. I wish I could make the experience great for everyone. I specifically pump the volume to cover up when people talk. I sacrifice more theaters to make them bigger so everyone can find their seat. I do what I can. What do you want me to do? Nail your list to the door like Martin Luther?”

Mister shrugged. For some reason, as he got a little more worked up, he seemed to have more presence. “And why not? Is this not a temple?”

“A temple?” Frank asked. “Wow, I guess I feel the way that I used to feel in church in here sometimes. I’ve never heard anyone talk about it like that.”

“Because this is your temple where you honor me,” Mister said.

“You?” Frank asked. “Who are you?”

Mister sat up in his chair and smiled. “I am the God of Film.”

“What?” Frank asked. “Man, I don’t need crazy today. Monday’s supposed to be my slow day.”

“I can prove it,” Mister said. “There are cameras in each theater, right?”

“Yeah,” Frank said. “I use it to scan for camcorders but I also save a snapshot of each crowd just in case.”

“Bring up yesterday’s snapshots,” Mister said.

Frank shrugged and grabbed his laptop and brought up the folder. “Which showing am I looking at?”

“All of them,” Mister said. “You’ll find me dead center.”

Frank frowned and started looking through the pictures. The first matinee’s picture showed Mister right where he said he was. The next picture, there was Mister again. The third picture was the same. Again and again and again there was Mister dead center, best seat in the house. Then Frank realized the implications of that. Several of those pictures were taken simultaneously. That was impossible.

“What are you?” Frank asked.

“I told you,” Mister said. “The God of Film. Did you expect me to look more like this?” He snapped his fingers and he suddenly changed into an extremely handsome young man with shiny black sunglasses and a big toothy grin. “Or this?” He snapped his fingers and he was suddenly a tall, platinum blonde wearing a fur coat. “This is my temple and you are my priest.”

“I never did any of this for you,” Frank said. “I bought this building to set up a movie theater because I love movies. If I worship anything, it is stories. If I want to watch a movie in peace, I can watch it in my living room or I can screen it here alone. I’m lucky that way. People come to the theater for the experience. Part of that experience is pushing past the petty annoyances and just getting lost in whatever story is playing out in front of you. And you know what? If you can’t get past that, then that’s on you. I’m not sure I even want you around anymore. I have the right to refuse service to anyone.”

“Not to me,” Film said. “You cannot deny me.”

“Well, to quote a really good movie: ‘I cast you out!'” Frank yelled out. Film looked pained and then he faded away, crossfading to somewhere else. It left Frank alone in his temple to do his receipts.

Heather and Hel

April 9, 2018

The elevator always took forever. It took forever to arrive and then the trip took forever. Heather tapped her foot and checked her phone again, swiping over to play a game while she waited. She knew that she would not have any signal once she stepped into the elevator and not for the rest of the weekend either. She had already changed her outgoing message accordingly and set an auto-response on her e-mail. It was a little weird getting cut off from the world like that but the girls weekend was a time-honored tradition. Of course, these weekends used to be a bit different right after college but Heather was dedicated.

Finally, the elevator dinged and the doors slid open. It was surprisingly clean. Heather knew that the elevator regularly transported bodies and blood and stuff so there must have been a great cleaning service. She turned off her phone, picked up her bang, and stepped into the elevator. Her heels clicked on the marble and the sound was pleasing to her. The place was always stylish as heck. There was a comfortable sofa in the elevator and Heather knew it was just for her. She kicked off her heels, set her bag aside and lounged on the couch for a good four-hour nap as the doors closed. It was hard work as a social worker and, as rewarding as it was, she needed a break.

When the doors dinged again, she woke up and checked her hair before putting her shoes back on. She grabbed her bag and stepped out into the busy lobby. The place was just full of people with all sorts of grievous wounds that must have been mortal. It was easy to bob and weave through all the staggering people with a dumb look in their eyes. It was also really cold and Heather cursed herself for forgetting to wear a jacket again. She got to the reception desk and rang the bell. A blue-skinned woman walked over to the front desk, her body making creaking and cracking noises as she moved. Her breath came out in clouds of ice crystals.

“Sorry, for the wait. I’m half ice giant on my mother’s side and sometimes it makes me a little slow,” the woman said. “Will I be assigning you a room or are moving on to Valhalla?”

“Oh no no no,” Heather said. “I’m just visiting.”

The woman just stared blankly at her, one of her eyes drifted away for a moment before she refocused. “Just visiting? Name?”

“Really?” Heather asked. “How many people come visiting?”

“Name?” The woman asked again with a literally icy glare. Out of habit, she looked down and saw that the woman’s name was Katrin.

“Heather Marks,” Heather said. She even fished out her ID and held it up.

“Alrighty Heather,” the woman said. She held up a keycard. “Please proceed to the penthouse. To get there – “

“I’ve been here before, thanks,” Heather said with a smile. She took the keycard and headed to the second elevator. With a swipe of her card, this elevator was much faster. She happily shouldered her bag and hummed a little tune as it lowered to the penthouse on the lowest level. She stepped into the hallway as soon as the doors opened and then she made her way through the front door. “Hello?”

A paper-white pale young woman with jet black hair stood up from in front of the glow of a large television and rubbed her eyes and yawned. “Yo, Heather! Welcome to Hel!”

“Thanks, Hel!” Heather said and the two of them hugged. “Isn’t it weird that your name and the name of this place are the same? I mean, it would be weird if I lived in a place called Heather, right?”

“You get used to it,” Hel said. “It’s nothing like living in the dorms at Hearst with you, though.”

“Yeah,” Heather said. “it was a lot more lively for sure.”

“Literally,” Hel said. “Thanks for coming down here for our girls weekend this time. I know you wanted to go to the beach but you know I don’t tan well. Besides, I just got done hosting some of my stupid uncles on their way to visiting Valhalla.”

“Oh yeah?” Heather asked. “Like the one with the hammer?”

Hel laughed. “Yeah, him and the rest of them. They visit more than my dad does. I really hope they don’t stop by when they swing back through. I wouldn’t want to interrupt our weekend. I’ve been so excited.”

“Yeah? What were you doing when I walked in?” Heather asked with a smile. Hel’s secret sanctum was nothing like the rest of her domain. It was much warmer for starters. It felt more like early spring than mid-winter. It also had all of the latest entertainment technology, stuff that Heather could never afford. One of the many reasons she had been willing to visit Hel instead of Ocean City.

“I just got the latest Monster Hunter and I was giving it a whirl,” Hel said, walking Heather back toward the TV.

“Didn’t you literally grow up around your father’s monsters?” Heather asked.

“Pfft,” Hel said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Dad’s monsters are totally lame. Hunting them would just be a pain in the ass. Just ask Tyr. We should play together! It’s so much fun.”

“Totally,” Heather said. “I brought blurays too.”

“Oh man,” Hel said. “It’s been so long since we binged movies. Oh, and I have plenty of other stuff to binge too.”

“Oh yeah? Like what?” Heather asked.

“Well, for starters I got us two whole pizzas,” Hel said excitedly. “Like that special we used to get back in college.”

“Oh man that was the best,” Heather said. “Just don’t tell my trainer.”

“Our little secret,” Hel said with a mischievous smile. “This is our weekend to be bad.”

“Exactly what girls weekend should be,” Heather said.

“So what do you want to do first?” Heather asked “Video games? Movies? Pizza?”

“Why not all three together?” Heather asked.


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