Posts Tagged ‘A to Z Blogging Challenge’

Zeus’ Other Daughter – A Percy Jackson Story

April 30, 2021

Corinna sat down by herself at a table in the mess hall after a full day of training. Nobody dared to approach her and anybody who looked at her, tried to look away quickly. She was by far the most powerful fighter at Camp Prometheus. She was a daughter of Zeus and it showed in her bearing and on the field of training. She also seemed to hunger more and thirst more than anybody else at the camp. She was a legend and she had not even reached the age of 18 yet. People tended to steer clear of her because of how fierce she could be and she preferred being alone anyway. So it was a surprise to everyone, including Corinna, when Freddy set his food down on the table and sat on the bench opposite her. The room tensed and held their breath together.

Corinna narrowed her eyes. “Are you new?” she asked in a gruff voice. “Nobody sits there.”

Freddy just smiled brightly. “I am new. Thanks for noticing,” he said. Then he slid a foot to his right. “Is this better? Can I sit here?”

Lightning actually sparked in Corinna’s eyes. “Don’t mock me,” she said. “People who mock me end up getting turned into a smear on the ground.”

Freddy shrugged. “I’m not mocking you,” he said. “I saw an open seat and I took it. It’s not all about you.”

Corinna just grumbled and looked back at her food. She was too hungry to teach this newbie a lesson. Maybe later.

“My name is Freddy,” he said with that same smile. “Son of Eos. That is how people introduce themselves around here, right?” Like Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter, Camp Prometheus was a place for demigods to train and grow in safety. The only difference is that it was mostly made up of the children of Titans and those who might not fit in at the other camps. Of course, that meant that a lot of people there had a parent who was currently imprisoned in Tartarus. It made for a pretty strong bond.

“Eos, huh?” Corinna said without looking up. “I guess that explains why you’re so sunny.”

“That’s hilarious,” Freddy said with a deadpan expression. “I’ve never heard that before. I’m guessing Kronos is your daddy from the way everybody around here thinks your hot shit.”

Corinna looked up at that and started at Freddy for a beat before looking back at her food. “Zeus, actually.” She mumbled.

Freddy whistled in surprise. “The Thunder from Olympus, huh?” he asked. “Shouldn’t you be at Camp Half-Blood?”

Corinna sat her fork down deliberately and looked at Freddy again. “My mother and I disagreed with how those Gods carry themselves,” she said. “I had a friend who came here because they wouldn’t let her come to Camp Half-Blood with me. This is the only place that would take me after everything went down.”

“Zeus and his group are pretty unfair,” Freddy said. “Like our camp namesake got a pretty bum rap. He deserved better.”

“Probably,” Corinna said. “He’s kind of an ass, though.”

“You met him?” Freddy asked with surprise.

“He came around,” Corinna said. “Before the last Titanomachy.”

“The war with the Gods?” Freddy asked. “Wish I had been here.”

“No you don’t,” Corinna said. “It sucked. It was tense and nobody was happy.”

“Are you ever happy?” Freddy asked, half-serious and half-teasing.

Corinna sighed. “I would have been happy if they let me fight,” she said. “They grounded me and everybody else here.”

“You would fight your cousins and your dad?” Freddy asked. “That’s pretty heavy.”

“He never gave me anything but grief,” Corinna said. “and I just want to fight.”

“Why?” Freddy asked, watching Corinna’s face.

Corinna shrugged but inside she was thinking ‘because it’s the only thing I’m good at’.

The Yeti Adventure – A Disney S.E.A. Story

April 29, 2021

Danny Reed had a twinge of regret as he watched the plane fly away but any thoughts in his head were blown away by the cold wind that kicked up. He looked around and hurried to catch up with Mariah Mystic. She looked over her shoulder and gave him a mocking smile.

“Keep up, Reed!” She yelled over the roaring wind. “Keep up or you’re out!”

Danny grunted and kept moving in her wake as they walked away from the landing strip and toward a small cabin. They had taken several planes and ended up near a mountain range in Nepal. It was absolutely frigid and Danny felt like he had not been adequately prepared for that. The plane was too small to fully gear up so they had to get inside quickly. The cabin was not very warm but at least there was no wind. Mariah pointed at the fireplace and Danny grumbled and got to work starting a fire. Thankfully there was dry wood. After a while, the place started to warm up and Mariah and Danny took off their jackets. They sat down.

“You’re not doing that bad a job, Reed,” Mariah said. She had hung a kettle over the fire and they were waiting for it boil. There were rations stocked in the cabin but no actual food. “You still with me?”

Danny fought not to sigh. “I’m still with you,” he said. “I’m not as used to cold weather as you are, apparently.”

“Better get used to it, Reed,” Mariah said. “The Society of Explorers and Adventurers are expected to go anywhere on Earth at the drop of a hat. You never know where knowledge might be hiding.”

“I don’t think it’s knowledge that is hiding here in Nepal, huh?” Danny asked. “We’re here on a specific mission.” He started to unwrap and dig into his rations.

“Why don’t you recite our mission, Reed,” Mariah said with a smirk. “In full.”

“Come on,” Danny said with a groan. “Is this a test?”

“It’s only a test if you’re about to fail it,” Mariah said. “I only do this kind of thing to prepare you for life in the S. E. A.. Reed. I grew up in this life. My family goes back generations in the Society so I was raised with all of this. You’re new. I want to make sure that you get caught up with the rest of us. It’s not personal.”

“It feels a little personal,” Danny said. “I mean, I can’t really blame you if your perception of my family is colored by your grandfather.”

Mariah took a deep breath. “The fact that my grandfather expelled your grandfather from the Society does not color my opinion of you,” she said. “It was a shameful chapter in the Society’s history and it was unfortunate that Garrett Reed earned his expulsion.”

“What did he do to get tossed?” Danny asked. “I never really asked and gramps got really distant after it all went down. I never saw him again, really. Not until the funeral.”

“My condolences on that last part,” Mariah said with all sincerity. “Nobody in the Society wished for Garrett Reed to die. My grandfather caught him acting inappropriately in regards to some mystical items in a dig in Egypt. After his expulsion, he clashed with Doctor Indiana Jones on several occasions.”

“Well, that tracks with why he was found strangled by vines,” Danny said. “Magic had to have been involved. At some point, I’d love further details, though. That wasn’t really a full explanation.”

“I can loan you my grandfather’s journals if you like and the official Society record,” Mariah said. “Your grandfather was not the only one expelled from the Society. We take our duties seriously and the supernatural can corrupt people quickly.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” Danny said.

“Now recite our mission,” Mariah said with a wicked grin. “You may have thought I forgot about that but I never forget.”

“I’ll keep that in mind too,” Danny said, rolling his eyes. “We’re here in Nepal to look for a missing Yeti. It used to be observed and ‘managed’ by the S. E. A. near Everest but the Yeti was attacked. A Joe Rohde attacked the creature with a series of flashbangs which frightened it away from its lair. Madame Zarkov was able to locate the Yeti here further along the Himalayas and we are here to aid the Yeti in getting back to the Forbidden Mountain.”

“Nice summary,” Mariah said. “We will sleep here tonight. Arnold Lindsey will arrive tomorrow morning with the rest of our gear and a guide. Rest well, Reed. Tomorrow will be another long day.”

“You can call me Danny,” he said.

Mariah took a deep breath. “Danny then,” she said. “That doesn’t mean you can call me Mariah yet. You have to earn it.”

X-Cell – An X-Men What If Story

April 28, 2021

(This is a companion piece to my Avengers story two weeks ago. It can be found here. TL;DR this world is in a bad way.)

“So where we at, mon freres,” Gambit said, leaning against a wall. “Things are looking pretty grim, non?” They were taking refuge in an estate in the country north of New York City. Westchester County was just far enough out of the way to dodge the heavier patrols in the city but close enough that they could still take action if they needed to. Besides, the place belonged to a man a few of them had met once. Charles Xavier, a mutant just like them who had brought them together for a purpose. To counter the threat of Magneto and the US Government.

“You ain’t lyin’,” Rogue said. “We’re in a fine mess.”

“Agreed,” Colossus said. “The government’s forces are closing in. They keep capturing our people and brainwashing them against us. Magneto, Logan, my sister, and so many more. And now they have started to kill us.”

“Sam,” Rogue said, her voice wavering a bit. “I can’t believe he’s dead. He was the best of us.”

“At least you took his power before he went, chere,” Gambit said. “I know it’s not a lot of comfort.”

“I shouldn’t have done it,” Rogue said. “They weren’t mine to take.” Magneto had somehow hurled a piece of rebar right through Sam Guthrie. He was bleeding out when he called out for help, barely conscious. Rogue had been the first one to get to him and the last one to see him alive.

“I disagree,” Colossus said. “It was smart thinking. Sam would have wanted his powers to continue to be used for justice. The legacy of Cannonball lives on through you.” Sam had been young and experienced but his power level was huge.

“I’m so tired of carrying these legacies,” Rogue said. “I already had M’s and Banshee’s powers.” She could see their faces still when she closed her eyes. She had traces of their memories and knew their pain. It was a lot.

“Are you having difficulty holding in that much power?” Colossus asked as gently as he could. He cared for his teammates and wanted the best for them. He had never asked to be their leader but their options were fewer and fewer. Charles was in a mysterious coma in the basement after a confrontation with Magneto’s forces. Many of their former friends were imprisoned or brainwashed. He badly wanted to hand over the position of team leader to anybody who would take it.

“I’m having difficulty holding the grief in,” Rogue said. Gambit reached out for her but she waved him off. There was time enough for comfort later. “I’ll be fine, though. We have to be fine, don’t we?”

“We must,” Colossus said, nodding with a grim look on his face. “For now there is the three of us and Pyro. Madrox, Kurt, and Raven are still on their mission. I can only hope that Morph is still undercover somewhere but out of touch. Betsy and Jean are spending all of their energy shielding us from the government. The Avengers are missing.”

“They have to still be out there somewhere,” Rogue said. “Otherwise, they would have been plastered all over the news. They would be crowing about it.”

“Chere’s got a point,” Gambit said. “They are probably hiding just like we are. Except we can’t stay hidden forever.” They were all getting restless and hope was dwindling. Remy kept joking and flirting to keep the dread away but it only did so much.

“Agreed,” Colossus said. “We have to make a move and soon.”

“I’m ready for it,” Rogue said, her eyes suddenly fierce. “I’ve got all this power and I’m ready to rain down hell on them. You have to turn me loose.”

“Soon enough, Anna Marie,” Colossus said. “The first opening we get, we strike. We will win our friends and loved ones back to our side.”

Wilde and Hopps Detective Agency – A Zootopia Story

April 27, 2021

Nick followed Judy into the dusty old office. The building was on a little side street off of Savanna Central. It would have been a prime location if the building had not been so neglected. It must have been missed by the new Mayor’s beautification programs. Nick had made a face when he saw the building but Judy had not seemed to notice it. Nick had lived in and been to plenty of sketchy places but he thought that part of his life was over. And yet, here he was following Judy Hopps into another situation.

“Explain what this place is again?” Nick asked, gesturing around them. He ran a single furry finger along a desk and came away with a thick bit of dust. He wiped it off on his pants.

“This is my new office,” Judy said. “Our new office if you still want to join me.” She seemed to be in exceptionally high spirits but Judy Hopps was almost always vibrating with energy. At least, that’s how Nick had always known her. It was part of what had convinced him to go straight.

“I still can’t believe that you quit the police force,” Nick said. “Wasn’t that your dream from when you were a little kid?”

“It was my dream,” Judy said with a smile. “but things change. When I had that dream, I didn’t really know what it would mean for it to come true. Mayor Lionheart and then Mayor Bellwether proved that the system is broken and it can’t be fixed from the inside. I don’t regret working hard for that dream because it gave me the skills for my new dream. I want to really help people.”

“So that’s why we’re here?” Nick asked. “That’s why you need an office?”

“Yeah,” Judy said. “I want to be a private investigator. No case too big or small. I want to help people. That was my real dream.”

Nick laughed and shrugged. “I kind of wish you had this epiphany a lot earlier,” he said. “You know, before I went through the Academy too.”

“It wasn’t a mistake for me to join the Academy and the force,” Judy said. “but it was a mistake not to really talk to you before you did the same. I’m sorry.”

“Hey, it’s not that huge a deal,” Nick said. “It’s just really weird for us to be reversed from when we met. Me the police officer, you the civilian.”

“Yeah,” Judy said with a laugh. “It is a bit weird. At least I haven’t devolved into a life of crime.”

“Yeah yeah,” Nick said. “I guess I sort of deserve that. I’ve gone straight but don’t think for a minute that I haven’t lost my cred on the street.”

“Heaven forbid,” Judy said in mock indignation. “I would never suggest such a thing. Your street cred is what made you so effective on our first case together.”

“Our first and only case,” Nick said. “unless I quit the force, of course. That’s a big ask, Judy.” He leveled his gaze at her and watched her tense up and look embarassed.

“Right,” Judy said softly. “It is a big ask and it was wrong of me to pressure you. Besides, I can always use a man on the inside.”

“I’m just kidding, Judy,” Nick said with a laugh. “I’d quit in a heartbeat for you. I proved that I belonged. We both did. You proved that a bunny could do it and I proved that a fox could do it. I have nothing left to prove. Besides, what you have in mind sounds more fun.”

“I’m so glad you said that,” Judy said. “because we have to clean this place up.”

“Suddenly, this sounds like not as much fun,” Nick said, his shoulders slumping.

“A little hard work isn’t going to kill you, Nick,” Judy said.

“We’ll see,” Nick said.

A VILE Phone Tap – A Carmen Sandiego Story

April 26, 2021

Sean Pumpkinclanger woke up on his cot at the ACME listening station. He stretched and moved over to the kitchenette area to grab an MRE for breakfast. He had been stationed there for almost a year but he would not complain. It was an honor to serve in one of the greatest agencies in the world. Better than the FBI, better than Interpol, better than anything else you could think of. He was the last student of Greg Lee before his retirement and he carried that truth like a badge of honor. He had first run into ACME while visiting his grandmother and he had known what he wanted to be. Now he was an ACME agent and he would do his duty.

On the other side of the bunker, his equipment came alive with a loud beeping. He rushed over, carrying his food with him, and put on his headphones. It was coming in on an old feed but it was definitely a phone tap. His heart started pounding as the line clicked on and the recording started. This was the first call in a while so Sean was so excited.

“Carmen,” a woman’s voice said. “I’ve got the loot. The Gates of Versailles are ours. They were definitely a golden opportunity.” The computer kicked into gear and analyzed the voice as belonging to Barb Dwyer. Her file came up on Sean’s screen. She was a tough biker chick turned VILE agent. That meant that the ‘Carmen’ on the other end of this call was the ultimate quarry. It was Carmen Sandiego.

“Excellent gate crashing, Barb,” Carmen said. “The original gates may have been broken when the peasants revolted, but these replicas are worth a pretty penny. Speaking of storming, I need you to storm across the Rhine and head to an area famously associated with the tales of the Brothers Grimm.”

“Grim?” Barb asked. “Sounds like that could make for some really killer ink.”

“Killer ink is right but I’m not talking about tattoos,” Carmen said. “You really need to read a book, Barb.” Sean wondered to himself why so many VILE operatives were so dumb and yet managed so many fantastic heists. Without Carmen, they would probably all be lost.

“Why would I read a book when they make movies of everything,” Barb asked. While she was not wrong, it did feel pretty ignorant.

Carmen sighed. “Listen, where you’re going you may need a flashlight because this place’s name is very dark,” she said. Sean was penciling his thoughts on a piece of paper while he listened and he was starting to get what Carmen was trying to hammer into Barb’s dense head.

“Darkness sounds good to me,” Barb said. “Makes it easy to lay low. Just as long as I can find a repair shop for my bike. I think the cobblestone at Versailles knocked something loose.”

“Head for the town of Baden-Baden,” Carmen said. “You’ll find what you need there but remember to lay low or you’ll get caught.”

“Sounds Baden to the bone to me,” Barb said. “Just my style. How long until we meet up?” Sean’s eyes went wide. A meetup? This was big news. The information on this recording could lead to Carmen’s capture and the potential dismantling of VILE. Of course, Carmen had been caught before but she had always escaped.

“Soon enough,” Carmen said. “unless you screwed up, of course.”

“I got away clean,” Barb said. “ACME has nothing on my bike.”

“Keep your head down,” Carmen said and the line went dead.

Barb Dwyer had slipped up. She had used an old channel to contact her boss and now Sean had to get this information to ACME. The detectives needed to get on the chase and track down Carmen. He started sending a message to command with the phone tap attached. “VILE agent Barb Dwyer in the Black Forest. Baden-Baden, Germany. Carmen may be en route.”

Senior Agent Greg Lee had taught him well. He knew it was the Black Forest from his studies in European geography. Barb would stick out like a sore thumb in Baden-Baden. There was no way that Dwyer would keep her bike idle with all of that countryside to drive through. He hoped that the agents would have little trouble tracking her and letting her lead them to Carmen. He smiled brightly as he pressed send.

Underworld Hunters – A Disney Crossover Story

April 24, 2021

The room was not very inviting when they arrived. A very large table sat in the middle of it. Many of them would have called it a dining table but who would make a dining table out of stone? It was so cold despite all of the blue flames in the room. There were exactly enough chairs for all of them which meant that the room had been staged just for them. Cruella was smart enough to be unnerved by that but she did not think the others noticed. They did not strike her as very bright. They reminded her of the Baddun brothers. Fairly stupid but also arrogant.

She was not a fool so she knew where she was. She remembered her death and her arrival in what could only be the Underworld. It was different than she had suspected. She had expected pearly gates but after a lot of reflection in this place, she realized that she probably could have been nicer to those dogs. She probably could have been nicer to a lot of people. The moment had passed and now she was stuck in this hole. However, this room was new and it certainly broke the monotony.

Suddenly, one of the others spoke up. It was a big oaf with his feet propped up on the table.

“When are we going to find out why we’re here?” the man said loudly. “This is boring!” The man was wearing a tight red shirt and even tighter pants. His dark black hair was in a ponytail.

“Shut your mouth, you fool,” Cruella said almost in a hiss. “Don’t you know where you are?”

“I could care less,” the man said. “Don’t you know who I am? I am the great Gaston! I fear nothing!”

“Empty bravado,” Cruella said. “you really are a fool.”

“I’m afraid I’m going to have to agree with the lady,” a man in a wide-brimmed hat said. “We have to keep one eye open here. McLeach is the name, by the way.” He tipped his hat and somehow the gesture was not polite but threatening. The man had skin like leather from being out in the sun too much and his words were thick with what Cruella guessed was an Australian accent.

“At least there’s a little intelligence in this room,” Cruella said.

“What’s your name, lady?” McLeach asked.

“Cruella de Ville,” Cruella said with a flourish. “Certainly you’ve heard of me.”

“Nobody’s heard of you,” the third and final man said. “Neither have I heard of Gaston or McLeach. All nonsense names. I hardly expect you to know my name either even though it is known in many circles.” The man looked absolutely put together with slicked-back hair and a thin pencil mustache.

“What is your name then?” Cruella asked.

“William Clayton,” the man said. “Greatest hunter that ever lived.”

McLeach and Gaston laughed at that, each in their own way.

“Noone hunts like Gaston!” Gaston cried out. “I doubt you could match me kill for kill.”

“Calm down there, Frenchie,” McLeach said. “I know I’m a better hunter than you but I’m not about to get into a pissing contest. Where have you hunted, Clayton?”

“Africa mostly,” Clayton said. “The most dangerous continent.”

“Doesn’t hold a candle to Australia,” McLeach said with a chuckle.

“I thought we weren’t engaging in pissing contests,” Cruella said with a smirk that caused McLeach to frown.

“Is your name really devil,” Gaston asked suddenly.

“Shut up,” Cruella said simply.

“How about we all shut up?” a voice said as the doors opened. A gaunt man with blue flames for hair and a smirk on his face walked in. “How about we all just settle down and play nice for the moment, huh?”

“Who are you?” Gaston asked indignantly.

“What are you?” Clayton asked, aghast at the supernatural figure before him.

“Hades,” the man said. “Lord of the Underworld. You’re in my house so you play by my rules. Capiche? Great. Now I’ve invited you four because I have a bit of a problem and you’re just ruthless enough to solve it. Two days ago, a coven of witches escaped from the Underworld. Now, I’m the boss around here but I have to deal with my brothers who are big pains in the keister. Frankly, I love to send chaos up there but these were unauthorized. I need you to go up there and take them out. The hard way.”

Before anybody could say anything, Cruella raised her hand. “We accept,” she said simply. “Give us weapons and we’ll bag these witches for you. If it means getting out of here ourselves for even a moment, we accept.” She glared at the others and they all nodded.

Taking Time to Mourn – A Descendants Story

April 23, 2021

Jay, Mal, and Evie sat on benches behind Evie’s cottage. The sun had gone down and the moon was out and it was the only light beyond a single light at the back door. None of them seemed to notice. They had talked a little but mostly they were quiet. Most of the evening they had stared at the ground or gave each other knowing glances. They had gotten together to have dinner at Evie’s but none of them had an appetite. Anytime that one of them tried to start a conversation, they all just seemed to run out of fuel and go quiet again. The four of them had left the Isle of the Lost together but now there were only three. It was so painful. All three of them were alerted to the sound of footsteps on the stones leading around the house.

“There you are,” Uma said. “Ben told me I could find you here.” Her face was solemn but it was clear that she was trying to keep her voice somewhat light. All three tensed at her approach and Mal almost stood up. “Whoa! I come in peace.”

“Sorry, Uma,” Evie said. “It’s still hard to get used to you being friendly after all of the kidnapping and swordplay.”

“That’s fair,” Uma said. “I admit I’ve been a little nasty to you. I’d be on guard if I were you too.”

“No,” Mal said, her own voice almost startling her for a moment. “It’s not fair. We’ve all done bad things here. None of us are innocent. We shouldn’t judge you.”

“The bridge is restored,” Uma said. “My beef with you and Auradon is over. Well, it’s a start and after we put the smackdown on Audrey together, I think there’s a future for us.”

“I’d like that,” Evie said. “I always liked the whole sea pirate sheik thing you have going on.”

“We’d all like that, I think,” Mal said. “We could use more friends right now.” They all nodded at that sentiment.

“Yeah,” Jay said. “I kind of liked hanging out with you, Harry, and Gil without fighting.”

“Same,” Mal said. “I’m so tired of fighting.”

“We all are,” Evie said, moving to take her best friend’s hand in hers. “No more fighting.”

Uma sat down on a bench. Mal waved her hand and ignited the fire pit with a thought. They all relaxed for a moment.

“You know, you said that none of us are innocent,” Uma said. “but do you know who was the closest? Carlos.”

There was a deep silence at that moment. None of them had mentioned the name of their dearly departed friend.

Jay suddenly smirked. “Yeah,” he said. “He talked a big game but he was a pretty lousy villain.”

“He was the first of us to turn away from the dark,” Mal said. “He helped inspire me to shake off my mother’s influence. I mean, you all did but Carlos was just so sweet about the whole thing.”

“I know,” Evie said. “We all helped each other and Carlos was a big part of that. If we hadn’t made the decision to be good together, we would never be where we are now. Life is getting better for everybody, right?”

“I think so,” Mal said. “We’re going to make sure it does. Ben and I have made sure that Auradon is dedicated to helping reunify with the Isle of the Lost.”

“I never cared about anybody back on the Isle,” Jay said. “but Carlos had a big heart and that kind of rubbed off on me.”

“We were all pretty selfish back then,” Mal said. “Carlos took to being kind the fastest. The rest of us followed suit.”

“If you four hadn’t become such big shot do-gooders out here, I wouldn’t have started my crusade to free the Isle,” Uma said. “When we were all on the Isle together, I only cared about crushing your crew. When you were gone, I took a look around and wanted better for everybody. I didn’t think it would end with the bridge rebuilt but I guess friendship really works.”

“You are our friend,” Evie said. “I don’t want any enemies.”

“We need your help to figure out how to really help the kids on the Isle too,” Mal said. “Helping is what Carlos would have wanted.”

They all nodded at that thought. Carlos was mischievous but ultimately a good guy and there had to be more on the Isle more like him that they could seek out and reform. They had to move on without Carlos. It would be hard but the realm was depending on them. They had to follow through.

Red of the Feywild – A Fairy Tale/DnD Story

April 21, 2021

Red had spent three full years away from her village near the woods and it was strange to be back. Years ago she had left on a simple errand, through the woods to grandmother’s house to deliver a basket of food to help her nana through a sickness. On the way, she had been accosted by a wolf that had spoken to her. She had been shaken by the experience but she had survived. When she had arrived at her nana’s house, she had discovered that the wolf had already attacked the house. Her nana was dead. Red would have been killed too in that cabin if a passing huntsman had not saved her. He escorted her back to the village.

It turned out that the wolf had attacked in that area because it had been displaced by a roving band of orcs. When they arrived back at Red’s village the next day it was on fire. Her parents had been killed in the chaos. She gathered up what belongings she wanted and followed the huntsman back into the woods. For two years the huntsman and his wife had taught her how to survive, how to hunt, and how to fight. Eventually, she was old enough to hunt and forage on her own. She was armed so she felt a lot braver. She even hoped she might meet a wolf or some orcs and show them how much stronger she was.

Except, life had other plans. She wounded a rabbit with her bow and arrow and while she was chasing it, she crawled under a fallen tree. When she stood back up she realized she had managed to fall out of her world. She was in a dangerous new place and it was a week later that she confirmed that she had entered the Feywild. That was only when she had found other people her age. They had banded together to survive and, impossible as it might seem, they survived a full year in the Feywild together. Alice the elf noble, Jack the human trickster, a halfling altar boy named Seng, and a tiefling farm girl named Buira. It had hardened them into true adventurers. A ranger, a warlock, a rogue, a cleric, and a fighter.

“We don’t have to be here,” Alice said gently from behind Red. “We can turn around and find work elsewhere.”

“Now wait a minute,” Jack said. “avoiding trauma is all well and good but we still need food and a place to sleep tonight.” They had existed for an entire year without a proper bed but, now that they were back, some of them had grown accustomed to a nice downy bed.

“Quiet Jack,” Alice said and waved her hand. Her hand mirror lit up and Jack’s mouth kept moving but no sound came out. The magical cat that lived in that pendant and spoke only to Alice was a bit strange but they all trusted Alice’s judgment.

“It’s alright,” Red said. “Jack’s right. A job is a job. Besides, the village is being stalked by a monster. If we can help, we should.”

“I agree,” Alice said. “I just wanted to make sure that we are all on the same page.”

“We are in complete harmony,” Seng said. “Together there is no obstacle we cannot overcome.” He was always so optimistic and calming. It could be irritating sometimes but often, it was actually comforting.

“Our strength has much to do with it as well,” Buira said. “We will not be here long if it is a single monster we are dealing with.” Buira was so strong that it had been scary at first but she was very loyal to her friends.

“Good,” Red said. “Staying in one place too long makes Jack’s fingers start to itch.” Jack had earned himself a criminal reputation during their time together.

“I don’t steal things that much,” Jack said indignantly.

“Tell that to the goose,” Red said with a smile. Knowing her friends had her back made her a bit braver about walking into her old village again. “Let’s get some food and our rooms before we ask about the monster.”

“A solid plan,” Seng said. “It will be good to rest my feet.”

“I agree,” Red said. She had been running long enough.

Qaddriyah Comes to Monstadt – A Genshin Impact Story

April 20, 2021

Qaddriyah walked slowly into the market of Monstadt, a picture of grace and tranquility. She drew plenty of unwanted attention from locals and tourists alike. She wondered if it was because she wore a hood and veil or if it was the glowing green Vision dangling from the amulet on her belt. She shrugged and figured that it was probably a bit of both. She probably looked quite foreign even to the most worldly citizens of Monstadt and Liyue. In no hurry, she headed over toward a sign that read With Wind Comes Glory which looked like a souvenir shop. A smiling brunette wearing an apron was assisting another customer so Qaddriyah waited her turn.

She felt a tug on her belt and realized immediately that some ruffian was trying to take off with her money purse. She instantly lashed out her hand and a thorn whip magically formed and surrounded her target in an explosion of rose petals. As the thorns sank into the young man’s skin, he yelped and dropped the purse but he could not extricate himself from the vine to run away. A fiery arrow came from above and Qaddriyah’s whip instantly burned up in the sudden heat. The young thief scampered off as Qaddriyah shielded her eyes from the sun and looked up to see a young woman dressed in red, holding a bow and looking fierce.

“Stay where you are,” the woman said. “Only the Knights of Favonius can use a Vision within Monstadt’s walls.” Everybody on the street froze for a moment and then moved away from Qaddriyah, getting out of range of the target.

“The ruffian was trying to rob me,” Qaddriyah said calmly but indignantly. “I was merely trying to teach him a lesson. The lesson is taught, I am satisfied.” She kept her hands visible as she faced down this archer.

“Rules are rules,” the woman said. “We’ll just have a chat back at headquarters and clear all of this up. You’re not in any major trouble. I promise.”

“But I could be if I don’t watch myself?” Qaddriyah said softly, narrowing her eyes. “I will behave.”

“So distrustful,” the woman said, gliding down from her perch. “Relax. My name is Amber, Outrider of the Knights of Favonius.”

“My name is Qaddriyah,” she said. “of Sumeru.” She was not sure how much of her story to offer upfront.

“Can you state your business here in Monstadt?” Amber asked with a smile but her eyes were definitely studying the foreigner.

“I am here in search of Lisa,” Qaddriyah said. “We went to school together and I need her help.”

“Hmm,” Amber said, relaxing a bit. “Let’s go see Lisa then. She’s at headquarters anyway. Maybe we can just forget that this whole thing happened.”

“That would be agreeable,” Qaddriyah said. She knew that she was hard to read with her face covered. She tried to convey everything through her eyes. “Lead the way and I will follow.”

Amber turned and gestured for Qaddriyah to follow her and they walked through town to the headquarters of the Knights. Amber lead the way directly to the library where Lisa was dosing a little at a desk.

“Lisa?” Amber asked. “Do you know this woman?”

Lisa snapped awake and tilted her hat back on her head as she yawned. She spotted Qaddriyah and her eyes went wide and she smiled. “Qaddri!” she said in her best librarian “shout”. “How are you, cutie?”

Qaddriyah was thankful that her veil hid her blush. “I am well,” she said. “but I need your help.” At last, she was standing before her old schoolmate and everything was going to be alright.

“What can I do for you?” Lisa asked. She put a bookmark in an old book and slowly closed it.

“I need your help back in Sumeru,” Qaddriyah asked calmly. She knew how eager Lisa had been to leave Sumeru and she suspected the mage would not want to return. Still, she had to ask.

“Ooh,” Lisa said with a frown. “That might be difficult to manage but if you really need help, I do have the perfect person for you to meet. They have been very helpful around here.”

“Should I go fetch The Honorary Knight?” Amber asked.

“I think you should,” Lisa said. “I’ll pour the tea. Come, Qaddri, let’s catch up.”

Passing is Magic – A Potterverse Story

April 19, 2021

Ross Granger-Weasely took a deep breath and then a sip of coffee before he stood up and walked toward the door of his office. He stopped momentarily and glanced out of the window at the bustling Diagon Alley. It was market day and even on the third floor, Ross could see all of the activity. He had put a lot of work into this office, slowly decorating it and getting it just right. Uncle George had helped with the real estate since his shop was still operating down the block. His parents had been encouraging but he had wanted to do this on his own if he could. He took another deep breath and felt more centered so he opened the door.

“Luke Lammermoor?” Ross called out into the waiting room, his eyes locking onto what looked like a young man whose eyes made contact and then he lowered his gaze to the floor.

“It’s Lucia, actually,” Lucia who had formerly been Luke said. “I mean, I think. I’m trying it on.”

Ross smiled warmly. “Then it’s Lucia until you tell me otherwise,” he said. “Won’t you come in?”

Lucia nodded and stood up before heading into the office. Ross waved his wand in the air of the waiting room and the space filled with white noise just in case somebody walked in while they were in session. Only then did he close the door firmly. He walked behind his desk and gestured for Lucia to sit down while he sat down himself.

“Please, have a seat,” Ross said. “Let’s have ourselves a little chat, shall we?”

Lucia nodded and sat down. “I don’t really know what to say,” Lucia said.

Ross nodded. “It’s really difficult to find the words,” he said. “First, why don’t we start with pronouns? I want to address you as correctly as possible.”

“Um,” Lucia said. “I think I would like to be a her if that’s alright.” She looked a little embarrassed about it but also perhaps relieved to have it out in the open.

“She/her?” Ross asked. “You don’t need my permission, Lucia. You don’t need anybody’s permission. If that’s who you are and how you feel then that is your truth.

Lucia brightened at that. “Thanks,” she said. “This is all really new.”

“It’s a lot to think about, especially at first,” Ross said. “It can be a confusing time so I’m glad you came here where I can help you out.”

Lucia nodded but said nothing.

“I can tell that you’re nervous,” Ross said as gently as possible. “How about I talk first and you answer if you’re up to it?”

“Alright,” Lucia said.

“Well, I first realized that I was trans during my fourth year at Hogwarts,” Ross said. “I had been having stray thoughts about how much I disliked my body when I looked in the mirror for quite a while but it did not really click until I attended a talk by Luna Lovegood. She had been traveling around delivering speeches for her Live Your Truth movement. I went to thank her afterward since our parents knew each other and she asked me point blank what my truth was. Before I knew what was happening, I blurted out that I wanted to be a boy. After more soul-searching, I was finally living my truth.”

“My story is a bit different,” Lucia said. “I just started having all of these dreams of being a girl. I always felt really disappointed when I woke up. I always kind of thought that I was born broken.”

“Broken is such a harsh word, Lucia,” Ross said. “I felt the same way, though. You’re not broken, though. It’s just that your identity outside doesn’t match who you are inside. Broken is a word that sounds so hopeless. Doesn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Lucia said with a deep sigh. “It does.”

“But it’s not hopeless,” Ross said. “The muggles have surgery and we have magic. The spell has been perfected over time and if that’s what you want to do, we can get that arranged for you. I also have a wizard solicitor who can arrange all of the official record changes for you. Have you talked to your parents at all about this?”

“Um,” Lucia said and then clammed up.

Ross nodded. “It’s hard even if your parents are open-minded,” he said. “My dad pretty much freaked out but my mom helped him through it. He’s always been kind of high-strung and mom’s very smart. She only wanted to make sure that I was sure so that’s why I eventually wanted to do the same thing. If you want, I can walk you through how you might talk to your parents or we can bring them here to talk about it together. You don’t have to make that decision now, though. We can continue to talk about it and make sure that if you do want to transition, that we make it as easy as possible for you.”

Lucia let out a breath and seemed to relax. “Alright, I’d like that,” she said.

“Do you want a cup of tea or coffee?” Ross asked.

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