Posts Tagged ‘AU’

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Agrabah Pt. 4

March 6, 2021

Kuzco had been in the basket for what felt forever. He had felt the strangers pick the thing up, load him onto the wagon and he had tumbled end over end. He had landed in a very uncomfortable position but because of the produce around him, he could not easily move. The basket had been still for a long time and no light was seeping into the basket. He wiggled and squirmed and somehow reached up to the edge of the basket and used it to right himself. He burst out of the basket, sending the lid flying and then he looked around. It was very dark with a single torch lighting the room and everything was very silent. This would be the best moment to make his move. Somebody would eventually come back to distribute or organize the food and supplies, right?

He wiggled his legs, trying to find firm ground to push off of as he leaned to reach to hold the handle on the side for leverage. This only led to him tumbling out of the basket, barely avoiding tipping the basket over. Instead, he flopped hard to the stone floor below and tried to groan as quietly as possible. A melon bounced on the floor next to him and he reached out to grab it. As he stood up, his knees wobbling, he clutched the melon close as if he would use it as a weapon should anybody burst in on him. He moved toward the door and pressed himself against the wall next to the door and cracked it open. The coast seemed to be clear or at least he thought it was. He walked timidly into the hallway and started to stumble down it.

He had tried to do what Naveen had suggested and tried to guess how many turns they had made and when but he was upside down and he had no idea. He thought he might have fallen asleep at one point due to all of the blood rushing to his head. He felt a little dizzy at that moment and he could not see perfectly straight. He had had more fun as a llama. He tried to figure out which way the door might be but it was hard to tell. He moved down the corridor, pressed to the wall. He was in luck that the lighting was so dim but he worried about what sorts of people could exist in this low-lit place. Maybe they were not human.

Somebody or something came around the corner and Kuzco tried in vain to push himself through the wall. However, he did find some sort of chute that he promptly fell down headfirst. He did not hear any astonished cries so he hoped he had at least avoided detection. He landed in what appeared to be a pile of mud. He briefly considered just staying there. He felt the mud soak into his clothes. He then considered that it might be mud and then he was worried that it was not mud. He pushed himself to his feet and tried not to breathe in through his nose. Then he worried about breathing through his mouth. Then he figured he should start moving again.

It felt like hours while he stumbled around the building, avoiding patrols and dodging obstacles. The whole time he still clutched that melon as if it would save his life. He finally came upon a lever that looked promising and he tried to pull it. It did not budge. He jumped up and pulled on the lever and it did not budge. Finally, he crawled up onto the lever and finally it began to sink. The wall next to the lever started to slowly slide open and it was so loud. Kuzco looked wildly around, hoping nobody heard. He fell back to the floor and then stumbled into the opening. Thankfully, he saw the desert and a few moments later three camels carrying Jasmine, Naveen, and Mattias. Kuzco fell to the ground.

“Kuzco!” Jasmine called out. “Are you alright?”

“I’m just gonna lie down for a bit,” Kuzco said, cradling the melon to his chest.

“What’s with the melon?” Naveen asked. “Did you need a snack?”

“Melon weapon,” Kuzco muttered. He had a thousand-yard stare.

“Uh,” Mattias said as he looked at the others. “Is he alright?”

“Seems our friend has had a time,” Naveen said. “You did a good job, Kuzco.”

“You rest here, Kuzco,” Jasmine said. “Come join us when you’re ready. It’s time to fight.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 6

November 7, 2020

“So do we have a plan?” Aladdin asked. “We haven’t been here long but we have to do something before that monster army comes and smashes this place. I’ve been out there. I’ve seen it from above and it is really bad.”

“I’m familiar with how big the army is,” Mulan said. “Shang and I dodged a lot of patrols getting out of the palace. I’m open to suggestions. I’ve got plenty of soldiers but I’m short on advisors.” Mulan was not too proud to accept help and, from the sound of it, these people all had

“Obviously, there is some sort of dark magic afoot,” Merrida said. “What do we have to counter that?” Her eyes showed that she knew the pain of magic gone awry.

“I am not actually that familiar with magic,” Mulan said. “Just a little bit, really.” She knew that her family had guardians and that her ancestors helped from beyond but magic was not in her everyday life. It showed itself in little ways in big moments.

“My sister has a lot of magic but I have no idea where she is,” Anna said. “I only know a little how magic works. It just kind of works. In my world you usually have to be born with it. I wish the trolls were here.”

“I was born with magic,” Rapunzel said. “A lot of it is gone now.”

“When I messed with magic it went poorly,” Merrida said. “I really blundered my way through it. It has to be done by the experts or it all goes wrong.”

“If only my friend Genie was here,” Aladdin said. “He can do just about anything. He used to grant wishes but he’s still pretty powerful without all of that.”

“Come to think of it, my magical companion Mushu is missing,” Mulan said. “He’s a dragon. A family guardian.” Mushu’s absence was really glaring as he rarely let a moment go by without offering comment on the situation. The talkative little dragon had hurt things as much as he had helped but he had behaved himself more recently. Mulan found herself missing him.

“We could really use that kind of firepower,” Anna said. “We need something to fight back with.”

“Last time I used fireworks to finish the fight,” Mulan said. “If we could get a hold of enough of that we could surprise the army.” She thought back to wiping out Shan Yu’s army with fireworks in the mountains.

“If we could reverse whatever happened to send us here or keep our friends away, Genie and Mushu could come help make things even.”

“And Elsa too!” Anna said excitedly. “How do we make these things happen?”

“I’m totally on board with whatever we’re doing!” Rapunzel cried out. Mulan could tell that Anna and Rapunzel were both very excitable people and would need somebody to rein them in. They were like lit fireworks ready to explode. She needed that passion but she also needed cooler heads to prevail.

“With proper planning,” Mulan said, trying to invoke calm in the room. “We have to obtain the fireworks and we need to get into the palace. I have a feeling that whatever needs to be done is in there.”

“I agree,” Anna said. “If we can just sort of open the door, our friends can come help us.” It sounded so easy when she said it and that optimism was refreshing.

“And we can help them,” Rapunzel said. “I hope everybody back home is alright.” That gave all of the visitors from beyond pause. Mulan felt grateful that she knew where Shang was but it did make her worry about her family. They were smart enough to go to ground if things got dangerous but they were far far away from the Imperial City.

“I guess I could scout for fireworks,” Aladdin said. “Somebody will have to tell me what they look like.”

“I can do that,” Mulan said. “I can also ask around the camp to see who might know of some.”

“I can help with that!” Rapunzel shouted happily.

“Actually, I can help with that,” Anna said. “You’re much more valuable as a healer.”

“Agreed,” Mulan said. “Please do what you can to heal Shang and any other injured. We will need everything we have to win this fight.”

Aftershocks: Dark Carnival Pt. 3

October 17, 2020

Nancy stood seething and breathing hard in her anger with her fists clenched. Lydia moved to her side and gently touched her arm and Nancy calmed down a little bit. Rob stepped up to her other side and gave her a little nod. She nodded back.

“Killjoy!” Nancy shouted out. “If you’re working for my dad, we have a problem. Come out here!”

“No no, you little shits,” Killjoy shouted out through the PA system. “I still don’t think I am going to do that. Not when I still have people to fight for me. I pick my spots.”

“Show yourself clown!” Lydia called out. “We want to get this over with.”

“Unless you’re a coward,” Rob said with a smirk. This set off some grumbled curses over the PA system. Obviously, they had touched a nerve.

This was when a spotlight went on and in the middle of the pool of light stood the most pathetic, rotten-looking clown that any of the three had seen. They all instantly recoiled from him as he had a sinister air to him. He only had one eye and the missing one looked like it had been stabbed with a bladed weapon. Everything about him looked disheveled or injured, unlike the bright-painted clowns they had just dispatched. He was calmly smoking a cigarette. This thing had a completely dirty feel to it rather than the flashy, dangerous feel of the others.

“Who are you?” Nancy asked, all of them tensing up again. They knew that even the most pathetic looking demon could still be a threat.

“The name’s Stitches,” Stitches said in a Scottish accent. “I’m about to rain on your parade.” He reached into his pocket and pulled out a flower and put it on his lapel. The flower suddenly erupted with a geyser of water that the three barely dodged. Stitches adjusted aim to follow them and ended up hitting Nancy who was nearly washed away. She dug her claws into the ground and held on tight. She tried to turn her head so she did not swallow all of the water.

“Stop it!” Rob shouted and fired his shotgun, the ironshot and salt mix pelting Stitches on his right side. Stitches looked annoyed at best.

“Quit it,” Stitches said calmly and gestured at Roy and a noisemaker shot out and somehow knocked Rob off of his feet.

Lydia muttered a few words and threw a fireball at Stitches. At the last moment, Stitches pulled out a red-stained umbrella and used it to block the fireball.

“Cool off!” Stitches growled angrily but the geyser of water died down as he turned toward Lydia. A blade sprang from the point of the umbrella and he advanced on Lydia with extra menace. Nancy was still struggling to her feet, belching water onto the ground. Stitches swiped and stabbed at Lydia who had to scramble backward. She used her baseball bat to deflect some of the shots. The situation was dire.

“Stop!” Nancy managed to get out. “It’s me you want. It’s me that my father wants.” She started to struggle to her feet. She was soaked to the bone but she was still staring daggers at Stitches which only seemed to amuse the clown. He laughed and walked a few steps toward Nancy.

“That’s true enough,” Stitches said. “but that doesn’t mean we can’t have some fun first. Hell does not really like your friends here. The three of you have been a pain in the arse and Hell will be glad to be rid of both of them before we drag you home to daddy.”

“Come get me then,” Nancy said, getting to her feet. “Come and get me already.”

Stitches started to walk toward her in earnest, spurred on by her taunting. At that point, Rob attacked on Stitches’ blindside and stabbed him in his empty socket. Stitches cried out and screamed and then started laughing.

“Third time is not the charm, boy,” Stitches says. “I’ve been stabbed before.”

“Not with an angel blade,” Rob said and smiled. Stitches’ smile faded and he suddenly cracked like an eggshell and collapsed into nothing.

Lydia moved to hug Nancy. “Are you alright?” she asked.

Nancy nodded. “I’m just tired and very, very angry,” she said. “I want to go home.”

“We’re almost done,” Lydia said. “One to go.”

Aftershocks: Dark Carnival Pt. 2

October 10, 2020

The three of them arrived at the fairgrounds and looked up at large tent that had appeared only two hours previously. They had taken the time to gather their weapons and get ready for whatever or whoever they would be facing. They had faced a handful of threats together but who knew what the future might hold? Lydia had recently enchanted a baseball bat which she had gotten pretty good at wielding. She had inscribed runes on its surface and then she had applied a finish to protect the writing. When she had reconnected with Dorothy and her friends, she had also reconnected with her mystical training. She was trying to embrace that. It was silly to handicap herself considering all of the threats they were facing lately.

Rob had a shotgun slung over his shoulder and a makeshift scabbard that held his angel blade. Lydia was still not entirely sure what Rob was. The first night they met she had seen him grow a glowing set of wings amid an explosion. He kept talking about family that he had not elaborated on them but she knew that they hunted monsters. Rob had somehow inherited a bunker from them. There were books on all manner of creatures and she kept seeing the word “hunter” everywhere as if that had a specific meaning. Lydia had worried that he might object to Nancy now knowing about her demon heritage. He had never once backed down from his support of Nancy.

Nancy was wearing her familiar striped sweater that changed shape based on her mood. It usually got baggier and looser as she got more nervous so she could hide inside of it. At her most confident, it could become a t-shirt. It was currently only a slightly loose knit sweater. Her hands were balled into fists but Lydia had seen those hands form into vicious claws. She had seen Nancy do inhuman things. With her own history with he who literally should not be named, she should have been repulsed but she loved her friend even more. Despite the demon heritage, Nancy was so vulnerable but she was still defying the forces of Hell. Lydia could never walk away from that. They were in this together.

A heavily painted female clown stepped out of the tent. She had green hair and a curious design painted on her belly that looked like a vertical mouth with sharp pointed teeth. She also had a smirk on her face.

“Oh look!” the clown said. “It’s little miss daddy issues.”

“Go to Hell,” Lydia said. She looked over and saw Nancy tensing in anger.

“Oh we awe going back but not without you little demon missy,” the demon said. “Come with me and you won’t get huwt.”

“Get ready for a fight, clown,” Nancy said, her look fierce.

“The name’s Batty Boop, pintsize,” Batty said. “You awe a little eawly but we awe weady for you. Step right up!”

The three adventurers charged forward, Nancy at the front with claws extending from her hands. Batty laughed and disappeared in a shower of confetti. The three looked around and then entered the tent. They were immediately met with a blinding spotlight and they all had to adjust for a moment. As soon as they did, the spotlight went off which absolutely ruined their night vision.

“Welcome welcome ladies, gents, and pipsqueaks to the greatest circus on Earth or in Hell, Killjoy’s Psycho Circus!” a voice rang out. “Nancy! You have won an all-expenses paid trip to Hell! The rest of you get a lovely parting gift of death. I think we’ll kill a whole bunch of people before we leave town. What do you think?”

“Come down here and fight us!” Rob yelled out.

“Hmm no I don’t think I’ll do that,” Killjoy said. “I think you should say hello to my friends instead!”

A large shape moved through the darkness and hit Nancy like a bus, sending her sprawling. A spotlight hit the shape and revealed a large hobo clown with comically big boxing gloves. He advanced on the girl with a grunt. As Lydia moved to stop Punchy with her bat, she was cut off by the sudden appearance of Batty Boop. Batty almost sliced into Lydia with a nasty-looking sword. Rob turned to face the last figure which was an odd mime conjoined with what looked to be a robot baby. The baby detached itself and leapt at Rob who was forced to wrestle it to the ground. The three of them were forced to struggle with the three killer clowns. The laughter of Killjoy could be heard from somewhere up above.

Nancy made it to her feet just as Punchy swung down at her. She dodged to the side and had to keep dodging his brutal strikes as she shook off the earlier blow. She was so angry all of a sudden and she wanted so badly to hit back. She balled her fist up and jumped into the air and landed a heavy punch right on Punchy’s chin, sending him stumbling backwards. She punched him again and again and finally wound up and hit him with an uppercut. She punched him so hard that her fist went through his jaw and out through the back of his head. Punchy exploded into confetti.

Lydia dodged wild sword swipes from Batty, the sword clanging off of her baseball bat. Lydia hung in there as Batty got more and more sloppy. The demon clown was not used to prolonged fights. She was more used to seduction and surprise attacks against more helpless prey. Still, she was definitely giving Lydia a lot of trouble. With a tongue foreign from Earth, Lydia lit the runes on her bat. Lightning arced from the bat through the sword and into Batty’s body. She fell to her knees smoking. Lydia tried to think of a pun on Batty’s name and using a bat but just swung for the fences. Batty’s head and then her body exploded into confetti.

Rob wrestled with the little machine as it gnashed its teeth and tried to strike at him. Eventually, he was able to grab his angel blade and stabbed the little baby in an explosion of confetti. The mime swung downward with a pickaxe but Rob rolled away. He recovered his shotgun and one shot sent the mime to an otherwise silent death.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 2

July 11, 2020

The carpet approached a large fortress far outside the outskirts of the Imperial City. Aladdin was determined and Mulan just held tight to Shang, trying to keep him still and stable on the fluttering fabric. It was at this point that an arrow whizzed past them, managing to nick Aladdin’s ear making him wince in pain. It was a good thing he was not the one actually controlling the carpet. The carpet slowed down and approached the guard tower where the arrow had come from. A young woman with striking, frizzy red hair and shockingly white skin came out of hiding carrying a massive longbow. She had a fierce look in her eyes as she leveled the bow toward them and drew back an arrow halfway and held it.

“Halt and declare yerself,” the woman said. “I cannae let you pass.” She had a thick accent and the posture of a warrior of some renown. Mulan sensed that the woman was used to people watching her, something Mulan was just starting to get used to.

Aladdin slowly maneuvered between the woman and his passengers. “Stand down Merrida,” he said. “You know me. It’s Aladdin. We just saw each other a little while ago.”

“Oh. Yer back from scouting too quick,” Merrida said, squinting a bit at Aladdin. “Can you blame me for getting a wee bit twitchy?”

“I guess not,” Aladdin said. “I’d probably be angrier if you had actually aimed for me.”

“Nae,” Merrida said coldly. “You wouldna feel a thing. You’d be dead.” Then she smiled and shrugged.

Aladdin smirked. “Tough talk,” he said. “I came back early because I spotted these two. One of them is injured.”

“Who do ye got there?” Merrida asked and Carpet rotated slowly to reveal Mulan and Shang.

“My name is Mulan,” she said. “This is Shang. He’s bleeding out. Please let us go.”

“If yer good with Aladdin here then yer good with me,” Merrida said. “Go on to the healers and give my best.” She relaxed her draw on the bow, un-nocked her arrow, and slipped back inside the tower without another word.

As soon as she was gone, Carpet floated over the fort’s walls and down toward a small building toward the rear. As they descended, there was shouting from below. Another white girl came rushing out of the building. She had light brown hair that was cut very short in a style that Mulan kind of wished she could adopt. The girl had big, beautiful eyes full of optimism even in grim surroundings.

“Get the injured inside and on a table!” the girl called out. “We need to stop the bleeding immediately. Bring bandages and herbs.” She clapped her hands and everybody started running around. Mulan and Aladdin helped carry Shang inside but then the short white girl pushed both of them back outside. Mulan fumed and was about to head back inside when Aladdin caught her by the arm. She almost took a swing at him but backed off.

“He’s in good hands with Rapunzel,” Aladdin said. “You’d do best keeping out of her way. I need to scrub the blood out of Carpet before I do anything else.”

“Who put you people in charge?” Mulan asked. She was still on edge and she was tired of having to trust absolute strangers in the midst of danger.

“We’re not in charge,” a young woman said, walking toward Mulan and Aladdin. She swept her hood back and Mulan could see that she was also white and had a long braid with a single shock of white hair running through it. Mulan had seen more white people on this day than she had seen during her entire life to date. Something very strange was going on even beyond the destruction of the palace and a strange gray army swarming over everything. “My name is Anna. We’re just trying to help out since the soldiers took us in. If you’re looking for who is in charge, that would be Lieutenant Yao.”

“My name is Fa Mulan,” she said. “Yao’s here? I know him. Where is he?”

“I can take you to him,” Anna said. “I’m sure he’d be glad to see a friend. We’ve been trying to help but this land is very foreign to us. It’s weird.”

Mulan shrugged. “It’s all I’ve ever known,” she said. “Lead me to Yao so we can start getting to the bottom of things.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: China Pt. 1

July 4, 2020

Mulan wrapped a cloth around Shang’s wound and felt his forehead. He was fading in and out of consciousness and he did not look bad. She needed a cool damp rag but she had very little since they had barely gotten away from the Imperial City with their lives. Those things had been terrifying and seemed to come out of nowhere and then part of the palace had exploded into green flame. Mulan and Shang had been able to flee with many soldiers into the countryside but they had been separated from everyone in the madness. Things were not looking good when suddenly she heard a voice from above her.

“You look like you could use some help,” a young man said. Mulan looked up and saw a man dressed in slightly torn clothing standing on what seemed to be a rug floating in the air. He had kind eyes and a reassuring smile.

“Those things came out of nowhere,” Mulan said. “They overtook the city and destroyed the palace. They can’t be far behind us.” Her eyes were wild and she tried to calm down as best as she could. She took deep breaths.

The man and the carpet floated upwards a short distance and he scanned the horizon. He floated back down. “I can’t see them but you’re probably right. We need to get out of here. I was only scouting

“He got hit with a spear,” Mulan said. “It went all the way through. He needs medical attention quickly.”

The carpet lowered to the ground and the man leaned down to look at Shang. “You’re right. It doesn’t look good,” the young man said. “There’s a fort near here where we can get him help. Carpet can take us.”

Mulan looked dubiously at the flying carpet. “Are you sure?” she asked. “Is it safe?”

“Yeah,” the man said. “Do you trust me?” Something about his eyes made Mulan want to say yes but trust should not come so easily.

“I don’t even know you,” Mulan said. “I could hardly trust you.” She wanted to, but her head was spinning and she was equally likely to lash out as she was to accept a favor.

“Let me put it this way,” the man said. “Do you really have any better options right now?” Mulan had seen that the man wore a curved sword but she had a feeling she could outfight him if she had to even in her exhausted state.

“No,” Mulan admitted. “I’m willing to let you prove yourself. Thank you for your help.” She ran her hand along the fabric of the carpet and it responded as if it was a big friendly dog. “This is magic, right?” She only had a little bit of experience with magic but Mushu was nowhere in sight lately. Her guardian had disappeared and she was worried about the little guy.

“His name is Carpet from the Cave of Wonders,” the man said. “My name is Aladdin, by the way.” He offered her his hand. Mulan had never heard of such a cave but it sounded like a place that would have a flying carpet in it. The man looked foreign and Aladdin was definitely not a Chinese name but she and Shang were in a tight spot. She would have to trust him and hope for the best. She took his hand and shook it.

“My name is Fa Mulan,” Mulan said. “This is General Li Shang. Please help us.” Cards were on the table and it was either sink or swim now. She clutched her sword tightly.

“Of course,” Aladdin said. “I’m at your service.” He reached down and helped Mulan get Shang onto Carpet as gently as possible. Mulan knelt down and Carpet took to the air. She was amazed to see that Aladdin was able to stay standing, keeping a wide stance.

They flew over the countryside, shooting through the air as fast as Carpet dared. The ride was surprisingly smooth but all the same, Mulan held onto Shang. She was so worried about him and the blood that was slowly soaking the bandage on his shoulder. She could barely process what had happened. With transport taken care of, she almost passed out from the stress and exhaustion. She hoped that Shang could hang on. Her husband was dear to her.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Atlantica Pt. 4

June 20, 2020

The palace under the sea had changed recently. It had grown darker and strange new, toxic plants had started to sprout up everywhere. Fissures had opened up all over that flooded the area with hotter, sulfurous water which helped the plants grow. There were a lot fewer citizens in the kingdom. Many of the fish and other creatures had fled, getting as much distance as possible from the gathering darkness under the waves. The merpeople who were left drifted about rather listlessly as if their very will had been drained from them. Periodically, teams of them would swim to the surface where they would sprout legs for some evil purpose.

In a little cage in the throne room was a crab who still had life in his eyes but not much. As Ursula, the Sea Witch swam close to the cage, Sebastian the crab trembled. He could not escape and he knew that Ursula kept him prisoner to spite the King and Ariel. His eyes briefly flicked toward Triton’s trident leaning against the throne and knew that with it, Ursula would not be opposed.

“Sad little crab,” Ursula said in a mocking tone before chuckling. “You could go free in an instant.”

Sebastian looked defiantly through the bars. “There is a catch,” he said. “You always have a catch.”

Ursula shrugged. “I admit that I almost strictly believe in the concept of quid pro quo,” Ursula said. “Tit for tat, little crab. I love to make a deal.” She grinned, knowing that the crab knew well the deal that the witch had given Princess Ariel and the trouble that had followed. He also knew something of the other ‘poor unfortunate souls’ that had fallen for Ursula’s tricks.

“Whatever you want, you are not getting it,” Sebastian said. “Do what you will.”

“Oh Sebastian,” Ursula said and the sound of his name made the crab shiver. “All I want is for you to spill all of Triton’s secrets.”

“I know nothing,” Sebastian said. “I am simply the palace composer.”

“Nonsense,” Ursula said. “You’re selling yourself short. I know that you have been an adviser to the King and a close confidant with Princess Ariel.”

“I know no secrets, witch,” Sebastian said. “Leave me alone.”

“Maybe I should do to you what I did to Triton and his other daughters,” Ursula said, bringing her smirking face very close to the cage.

Sebastian’s eyes went wide. “W-what did you do to them?” he asked with the tiniest bit of a stutter.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Ursula said and laughed. “You’ll find out soon enough. For now, I should introduce you to my new friend.”

Ursula swam over to the throne and took hold of a strange jar with a writhing shadow within it. Sebastian looked on with both fear and curiosity. The shadow was new to him.

“Have I told you yet how I won this time?” Ursula asked. “I finally beat Triton and it is because of my new friend here. I was gifted this shadowy fellow by a visitor to this world. The visitor said they had found it in the far off land of ‘New Orleans’ wherever that is. It lets me expand my magic so deliciously. With my magic, the shadow, and the trident, I am unbeatable. It is only a matter of time before the surface world is mine. They will kneel before me or they will drown.”

“You’re evil,” Sebastian said. “Ariel will stop you.” He was loyal to his core to the King and he had grown to love Triton’s daughters, and especially Ariel as if they were his own family.

“She can try,” Ursula said with another laugh. “I have allies from beyond and I have sent her beloved to another realm. She’s all but done.”

“That girl never gives up,” Sebastian said. “She beat you once. She will beat you again.”

Ursula shrugged. “Enough talk,” she said. “You bore me, little crab. I will let you play with my shadow and then we’ll see how much you’ll sing for me.”

Ursula slowly unscrewed the jar and the shadow slithered out as if it were her own black ink. It circled the cage as Sebastian struggled with the bars fruitlessly. Its approach was maddeningly slow and Sebastian could see that it was inevitable. He tried to brace himself as it drew closer.

Aftershocks: The Goblins Down Below Pt. 3

October 19, 2019

Aftershocks Witches

The trio had to find a safe place to wait for the Wicked Witch of the West. None of them wanted to involve the general public in this fight. Of course, all three knew that human authorities were of no use. Sabrina came from a society where such things were strictly forbidden. Nancy’s mother had tried to appeal to the police and psychiatrists to no effect. Lydia and her family had never had the chance to call for help but it was unlikely normal humans could have done anything.

Besides, human authorities either did not want to deal with these sorts of things or they were not really capable of keeping up. Either way, it was best to fight fire with fire and it was easier to cut loose when innocents were out of the way. To facilitate that, Lydia and Sabrina worked on weaving a cloaking spell which would keep people away from the warehouse they had chosen. If all went well, the Wicked Witch would be cast back to Hell and nobody would be the wiser.

While they prepared, the other girls told Nancy in detail the story of Dorothy’s first trip to Oz during which the encounters with the Wicked Witches had happened. They told her of falling houses, a scarecrow, a tin woodsman, a talking lion, and all sorts of other wonders. They told her of subsequent trips and what Dorothy had learned. They talked about when they met and some of the other girls in their circle. After hearing the stories, Nancy very much wanted to meet Dorothy and the rest of the circle. Lydia promised the two of them would somehow make that happen if they got through the next fight. Maybe Sabrina could come back and meet Rob, too.

When the spell was in place, Sabrina snapped her fingers and a small black cat appeared. Nancy leaned down to pet the cat with a smile.

“Is this your cat, Sabrina?” Nancy asked. The cat quickly crawled up Nancy’s arm and draped itself across her shoulders, purring.

Sabrina laughed. “That’s my familiar, Salem,” she said. “He’s not exactly a cat. Not really.”

“What does that mean?” Nancy asked.

“Like you, Salem is more than meets the eye,” Nancy said. “Familiars are otherworldly creatures usually in the shape of Earth animals.”

“Salem will be good in the fight,” Sabrina said. “He is way tougher than he looks. Let’s finish getting ready for her.”

It was an hour later when they started to hear banging on the outside of the corrugated metal walls of the warehouse. It started slowly at first with what sounded like the occasional tennis ball hitting the wall. Then the sounds started to surround the girls and they got faster, louder, and more numerous. The three of them stood their ground and tried to stay calm.  The sounds began to get more rhythmic and synchronized, signalling a small army outdoors. As the sound climaxed, the sliding doors of the entrance slid open. Standing in all of her glory was the green-skinned Wicked Witch of the West, just as Dorothy had described her. She carried a broom etched with wicked-looking runes and there was a twisted smirk on her face.

“Well, my pretties,” West said. “Time to go to Hell!” Her voice was thin and high-pitched but somehow compelling and forceful. Her clawed hand flexed and she gripped the broom tighter. She grinned, revealing incredibly sharp teeth. Her face was impossibly angular and she was instantly identifiable as something no longer human. From the stories Lydia remembered, the Witch had ceased to be human before her death.

“Back off, West,” Sabrina said. “Nobody’s going to Hell but you and your stupid monkeys.” All of Dorothy’s girls knew the stories almost by heart and who could forget flying monkeys as villainous henchmen?

“Is that what you think they are?” West asked. “No. No more winged monkeys, no more Winkies. I have new friends now.”

“What are you talking about?” Nancy asked. “What are they?”

Creatures started to make their way through the door, they had orange-red skin, sharp teeth and they behaved like feral animals. “The goblins from down below,” West said. “You must be my prize, the one called Nancy.”

“Leave her alone!” Lydia called out, moving slightly in front of her best friend. The two of them glanced at each other and there was no need to say anything. They were in it together until the end.

“It’s best to give up now and save me the trouble,” West said. “Then I can go back and finish off that troublesome Dorothy.” She was having fun drawing out the anticipation and trying to get the three girls to squirm. All three bravely stood their ground and glared at the wicked witch.

“Back off, witch!” Lydia yelled. “Let’s get this over with.”

Aftershocks: The Goblins Down Below Pt. 2

October 12, 2019

Aftershocks Witches

It was hours later when Sabrina showed up. She had bone-white hair and she was incredibly attractive, it made Nancy feel somewhat self-conscious. She shook off the feeling and moved on. She saw the worried yet happy look in Lydia’s eyes and wondered if she was not keeping her best friend from making other friends. Although she was cute, Sabrina had a cut across her cheek and a visible burn mark on her hand. Both had been properly treated but they were clearly fresh. They had met in front of the town library since neither Nancy or Lydia thought that Rob would agree to the risk of inviting a stranger to the bunker, even if Sabrina was a trusted friend of Lydia’s. As soon as they met, they moved quickly to a back room in the library so they could talk privately.

“Are you alright, Sabrina?” Lydia asked. “You look a little banged up.”

“I’ll live,” Sabrina said. “And luckily so will the others but it was a really close call.” She looked more relaxed now that she was sitting down but she still looked keyed up about something. It was definitely something really bad.

“Maybe we should start from the beginning,” Lydia said. She glanced over at Nancy in the corner. Nancy’s t-shirt had morphed back into a floppy sweater which was a clear sign that she was nervous. “Sabrina, this is Nancy, my best friend. Nancy, this is Sabrina, my old friend and classmate.” Nancy visibly brightened at the mention of her being Lydia’s ‘best friend’.

“Nice to meet you,” Sabrina said to Nancy. “Any friend of Lydia’s is somebody I can trust.”

“Thank you, Sabrina,” Nancy said. “What happened to you?” Nancy healed really fast so she was more likely to fuss over other people’s injuries. She had certainly fussed over Lydia and Rob enough.

Sabrina’s expression darkened and she shuddered. “That’s why I came here. She’s back, Lydia. The Wicked Witch of the West has returned and she’s in our world this time,” she said.

Lydia’s eyes went wide. “She’s dead!” she shouted and then remembered they were in a library. “Dorothy killed her in Oz.”

“Yeah,” Sabrina said. “but all worlds lead to the same Hell and they brought her back. There was a huge burst of hellfire and there she was. She caught us all off guard. Dorothy and I were the only ones left standing and we only kept everybody alive with a desperate defensive spell. Dorothy and the rest are safe in a hospital but I had to come and warn you.”

“Warn me?” Lydia asked. “What could she want from me?” and then her brain caught up with her and she shut her eyes with a sigh. “Oh.” She looked at Nancy.

“Not another one!” Nancy cried out and buried her face in her sweater sleeves. The rest of what she had to say only came out as mumbles as she was muffled by the fabric.

“What’s going on?” Sabrina asked. “What does she want?” The mystery had been eating at her the whole trip and now she was so close to figuring it out.

“She wants Nancy,” Lydia said. “Not me. The King of Hell wants Nancy.” She could feel the fear and anger rising inside. Nobody was going to take Nancy anywhere.

“Why?” Sabrina asked without knowing how loaded that question was.

Lydia and Nancy locked eyes and then Nancy nodded slowly. She literally trusted Lydia with her life. “Nancy’s dad was a demon,” Lydia said. “She inherited a lot of his powers and maybe even more.” Nancy watched Sabrina nervously.

Sabrina took that in for a moment. “That’s alright, Nancy,” she said. “A lot of my family worshiped the Devil for a while. Also, I’ve heard a lot of weird stories from our circle so I’m a little jaded at this point.

Nancy smiled and her sweater changed back into a t-shirt. “So who is this evil witch?” She asked.

“The Wicked Witch of the West,” Lydia said. “She clashed with our teacher Dorothy but died almost by accident from getting wet. It, uh, sounds sillier than it was.”

“Sure,” Nancy said. “but what is her name? You keep saying the Wicked Witch of the West.”

“She and her sister sold their names a long time ago in exchange for more power,” Sabrina said. “They have gone unnamed for a long, long time.”

“That’s pretty twisted,” Nancy said.

“They were some pretty twisted sisters,” Lydia said. “They ruled over large sections of the land of Oz and warred with the admittedly ineffectual government. Dorothy took both witches out and ended up helping with a regime change too. She’s gone back and visited some but that first trip was pretty rough.”

“So what are we going to do?” Sabrina asked. “We need a plan.”

“I think I have some ideas,” Lydia said. “Which I’ll need your help with, Sabrina. Nancy, think about what you can bring to the table. I know your powers take a lot out of you so we can’t rely on just you. We’re in this together.”

“As usual,” Nancy said with a smile.

Aftershocks: The Goblins Down Below Pt. 1

October 5, 2019

Aftershocks Witches

“Oh dear sister,” the West said. “My mistake last time was getting fixated on you and that little girl. This time, I’m going to stay focused. So, I’m not bringing you with me.”

“Damn you!” East said. “You can’t leave me down here.”

“Oh dear sister,” West said. “I have the stamp of approval from the King himself. I’m about to do what I could not do before. I’ll get that little girl and then I’m off to capture the King’s prize.”

*                *                 *

It was summer vacation and Lydia and Nancy were left to their own devices which mostly meant just hanging out in the bunker or swimming down at the local pool. Rob had reported at the start of summer that his parents were making him go to summer camp and he would not be around. Demon activity had been strangely quiet but the girls knew that something would be back. They had interfered three times with demon plots and the one that had started it all, Ley, had said something about the King of Hell wanting Nancy. Lydia was not about to let that happen. So, they spent a lot of time studying whatever books they could get their hands on. The Bunker also had a remote link to a database from something called the Men of Letters which had been very enlightening so far.

It was on a hot July afternoon when Lydia had gotten a text. She was honestly surprised, she had been caught in that belief that overtakes people that once physical and temporal distance separates us from our past, it is gone forever. There were parts of her life that she had not told her best friend Nancy about. She never imagined she would tell Nancy about any of it but they had both been open books otherwise. They both had horrible pasts but that had bonded them together. Now their future did not look exactly bright but there was hope if they stayed together. Important to that was telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

“Nancy,” Lydia said. “I just got a text.” She felt nervous. They had faced down demons and ghosts together on several occasions. She had had her own encounter with a deadly ghost. Her best friend was some sort of demon offspring. Still, she was nervous about not telling her friend something from her past. The words did not slip through her lips easily.

“Oh?” Nancy asked. “I didn’t think Rob was allowed to have a phone at camp.”

Lydia paused at that. “Is it troubling that he is our only other friend really?” she asked. The two of them ate lunch together at school, hung out together all the time, and had only recently started to hang out with the much younger boy who had shown up in their lives in a car with a trunk full of weapons. He had introduced him to the family bunker, a family he revered like kickass saints.

“No,” Nancy said. “The teen years are supposed to be awkward, right? Also, we’re totally weird.” She was not wrong, a witch and the daughter of a devil.

“True,” Lydia said. “but no. I got a text from an old friend. We’re going to be getting a visitor.” She slid her finger along the edge of her phone over and over, a nervous tic.

Nancy looked curious. She had changed since Lydia and she had met. She had started to blossom into a young woman who was less scared of the world and, most importantly, less scared of herself. Lydia had assured her over and over that she was not her father and that her admittedly fantastic powers were not a sign of evil. Nancy looked less like her usual muppety self without her trademark sweater but she had somehow used her own internal magic to turn it into a t-shirt. Those familiar red and green stripes were something that Nancy was rarely seen without. “Who’s coming?” Nancy asked. “I’m interested to meet one of your other friends.”

“When everything happened to me and my parents were killed I felt lost,” Lydia said. “My foster family just did not understand. I met a bunch of girls like me who were being tutored by a wise older lady named Dorothy. Like us, she had been the victim of magic. She had experienced another dimension and had come back changed from the experience. She had set out to learn witchcraft to make sure it never happened again to her or anybody else. I brought what little knowledge I had to the circle and they taught me so much. Eventually, my foster dad got a new job and we moved. We lost touch and I started off on my own journey and met you.”

“Wow,” Nancy said. “so you were part of an actual coven? I’ve only seen that kind of stuff in movies.” She looked so intrigued. She had such big wide eyes that made her look so innocent.

Lydia shrugged and smiled. “I’d hesitate to call it an actual coven,” Lydia said. “We never used that word. I’m sorry for not telling you about all of this until now.”

Nancy shook her head. “Don’t worry about it,” she said. “We’re friends. Best friends and I trust you more than anybody in the entire world.”

“And beyond,” Lydia said with a smile.

“And beyond,” Nancy agreed. “So who’s coming? Are they riding a broom?”

“My old friend Sabrina,” Lydia said. “and maybe. You make fun but some of us learned to do that stuff. She’s on her way now. I can only imagine this will lead to a new danger for us.”

“We’ll face it together,” Nancy said.


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