Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 13

March 25, 2023

They had all gotten some sleep that night after a good dinner but they had gotten up fairly early. They all had things to get back to. They gathered in the grand room that they had used for portaling. It was so nice to see everybody so happy and relaxed after all of that trouble and strife. Couples were happily close to each other and everybody was eager to return home. Enchantress had disappeared in the night but everybody was fine with that. They would all know how to alert each other if she started to cause problems. Belle hoped the troublesome fairy had given up her more wicked ways. She could deal with a little chaos but the cursing was over the line.

“Can I just say something before we all start going home?” Belle said. 

“Of course,” Anna said. “If not for your leadership, we wouldn’t have stopped the end of our worlds.”

Belle blushed slightly. “We’ve all learned a lot,” she said. “I don’t want to go home and never see each other again. We have such a great opportunity to learn more by visiting each other.”

“Definitely,” Aladdin said. “I’m always up for learning new things and I’ve been amazed by what I’ve seen so far. I can only imagine what whole new worlds can hold.”

“Then are we agreed?” Anna said. “This isn’t over and we can visit each other in the future. The worlds are united from now on.”

“Show of hands?” Esmerelda asked. “That’s the fairest way to decide, right?”

“Sounds fair to me,” Eugene said. “Let’s see those hands people. We don’t have anything to be afraid of, right?”

Everybody raised their hand and they all smiled. They really had developed a fellowship of trust during their battles. They trusted each other with their lives and it showed. They had all been forged tough by adversity but this adventure had done so much more. They would never forget each other.

“We should check with the people of our worlds, of course,” Tiana said. “We don’t speak for all of the people. We’re just a handful of the people involved.”

“Right,” Merrida said. “And we need to make sure that evil people don’t take advantage.”

“But the good thing is that if one of us has a problem, we can all jump in to help out,” Naveen said. “I feel like we’ve proved how well we work together.”

“Agreed,” Jasmine said. “I have many things to settle here and I am sure you all must check on your worlds. There has been a lot of chaos. In the meantime, we will keep the three witches imprisoned here outside of Agrabah until we decide we have another solution. They built this prison, we might as well use it.”

“But they just might surprise us and redeem themselves,” Aladdin said. “It happens.”

“It does,” Elsa said.

“I won’t hold my breath,” Esmerelda said. “But we can hope, I guess.”

“Are you sure you guys can handle things?” Tiana asked. “No offense but they are more than a handful and dark magic can be real trouble.”

“We have the fairies here, at least for now,” Jasmine said. “We also have Genie. We have more than enough power in our corner.”

“Yeah, last time they took us by surprise,” Aladdin said. “Now we know more of what to expect.”

“Well, I guess that’s it for now,” Adam said. “Let’s all go home. We deserve it.”

“Until next time!” Rapunzel said with a big grin.

They all started opening their portals to return home. There was a lot to inspect back home but they all had a feeling that the worst was behind them. They were excited to see their friends and family but many of them were already making plans to visit other worlds. Things really would not be the same ever again.



Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 11

March 11, 2023

The remains of the makeshift magical kitchen that Tiana had been working in were on fire and the rest of it had been scattered across the field of battle by the explosion. As everybody ran in that direction, Grimhilde attacked. One of her attacks lanced through Aladdin’s shoulder and the group was forced to turn back around to continue the assault. Things were disorganized and desperate now but also fueled by the renewed passion of revenge. The heroes attacked with that fury and quickly turned the balance of the battle. This would not hold, though. Nobody could sustain rage for too long before the body gave out.

Belle reached the ruins of the kitchen and started to pull away pieces of the wreckage, clawing at it. Tears were streaming down her cheeks. Somewhere inside she had known that many of them might get hurt or even die but this was real. She had told Tiana to be in that spot and that decision had led to Tiana’s death. On top of that, the plan was now in shambles. 

“No no no,” she muttered as her hands started to hurt as she handled still smoldering pieces of wood. “Please please please.”

She looked up at the battle and knew that she would have to rejoin soon or more of her new friends might die. Up on the mountain, her husband was counting on her for survival and their world also hung in the balance. A lot had happened since she washed up on the shore of Ariel’s kingdom. She just wanted it all to be over. That was when she heard some coughing from a few feet away. The smoke was starting to clear but it still stung her eyes a bit.

“I could use a little help,” Tiana said, sitting on the ground next to the huge iron cauldron.

“I failed you,” Belle said. “You’re dead because of me.”

“I sure hope I’m not dead,” Tiana said. “I don’t feel dead. All your pain is supposed to go away but my hands hurt really bad from carrying that hot cauldron. I’m not sure if I can be of any more use with these burned hands.”

“You’re alive!” Belle shouted with delight. “Thank you!” She shouted that last to the universe, to the angels, to whoever would listen. 

“Amen to that,” Tiana said. “I’m not finished with this world yet but I amI finished with your recipe. What’s the next step?”

“I’ll handle it from here,” Belle said. “You’ve earned a rest. Stay low and get as much fresh air as you can and rest. We’ll tend to those hands when this is over and it will be over soon.”

“What about this magic stew?” Tiana asked.

Belle picked up her spellbook and focused her will through it and waved her hand and the liquid started to rise from the cauldron. The liquid slid through the air and spiraled into some glass vials. Corks rose from the ground and stopped up the vials of liquid.

“Stew, huh?” Belle asked with a smile. “Well, soup’s on for Grimhilde.” She scooped up the vials and ran toward the battle.

Belle waited for her opening before she threw the first vial at Grimhilde. It shattered against the witch’s right cheek and some of the glass stuck there as the liquid poured down from her face to her body. Grimhilde launched a fireball in Belle’s direction but Belle dodged it easily. She showered Grimhilde with the rest of the vials. Grimhilde gestured at Belle but nothing happened.

“What’s happening?” Grimhilde asked, confused. “What did you do?”

“Anti-magic potion,” Belle said. “No more magic for you.”

“Nooooo!!” Grimhilde screamed to the sky, her eyes wild. The heroes around her stopped in their tracks but remained ready to continue. Instead of attacking again, Grimhilde kneeled on the ground. 

Up on the mountain, the image of Chernabog flickered and the giant monster stopped and looked down at Grimhilde. Something in the air between them suddenly snapped like a clothesline being cut in half. Chernabog screamed and evaporated into a foul black smoke. Grimhilde reached out in a futile gesture and then slumped in defeat. The still armies surrounding them crumbled into dust. The battle was over.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 10

March 4, 2023

Chernabog raged on the mountain and the dedicated team of heroes continued to distract it. The eldritch beast would get attacked by one of the team on Bald Mountain and then the heroes would scatter when Chernabog tried to strike back. It was dispiriting that their magical weapons did not leave even a scratch on the monster but they were doing their job as Team Distraction. Eugene managed to scurry up Chernabog’s body which drove the beast insane. As Chernabog worked to shake the thief off, Adam turned into The Beast and literally got into the monster’s face. Naveen mostly made sure people got out of the way and helped people up when they got knocked down. Esmerelda launched fireworks as Anna hacked away at Chernabog’s ankles. Jasmine led the action, calling out suggestions and commands in turn.

Eugene landed roughly and Naveen helped him up. “Thanks,” Eugene said. “I swear I’m usually more graceful. This doesn’t seem to actually be working.” He was a thief, not a fighter. He had not been used to handling his problems directly until he had met Rapunzel. He hoped she was alright down the mountain.

“It’s working fine,” Jasmine said. “Nothing we could do would actually stop Chernabog. It’s up to our friends down the mountain.”

“So we keep this up until they kill Grimhilde or until we die,” Euguene said. It wasn’t a question. 

“Very optimistic,” Naveen said. “I have faith in our friends.” Naveen’s heartfelt and easygoing smile did inspire confidence. He was not a fighter but he had learned a lot about it in the past few days. He hoped to never touch another weapon after this. He desperately wanted his ukelele instead.

“I guess we have to,” Eugene said. He gritted his teeth and prepared to get back into it.

“Keep fighting!” Adam bellowed as he rushed past. It was hard to contain his anger in Beast form or maybe that was an excuse. Either way, that rage was carrying him through this fight.

“Right,” Eugene said. “Keep fighting it is.” He lept back into action and tried to keep that smug and confident smile on his face.

Aladdin lunged at Grimhilde with his sword and stabbed through her belly but her image flickered as it was revealed that she was an illusion. He barely rolled out of the way as flames rose from beneath him. Elsa put the fire out with an ice blast and then tossed icicles in Grimhilde’s direction but the witch easily batted them away. Merida fired her bow from behind Grimhilde and actually landed a hit but the witch kept going. Aurora and Rapunzel lunged at Grimhilde with their weapons and kept her off balance. Belle kept casting counterspells to keep Grimhilde from instantly killing them all. 

“Keep it going,” Aladdin yelled out. “She can’t keep this up forever.” He was used to endurance trials after being chased by the law for so long all throughout Agrabah. 

“I’m not sure we can either,” Elsa said. She was fairly athletic but staying hidden in her room and then getting imprisoned did not really lend itself to conditioning.

“Then we need to end it,” Merida yelled. “Take her out!” Her experiences with magic users were not exactly positive and she was ready to kill another villain. She just wanted to go home. She was tired but it had very little to do with being physically tired.

“How do you guys talk while you’re fighting?” Rapunzel called out. “How do you breathe?”

“She’s got a point,” Belle said. “Maybe keep conversation to a minimum.” 

Belle looked over at Tiana who was feverishly cooking in her makeshift kitchen. She realized her mistake when she noticed that Grimhilde was following her gaze.

“You can’t fool me,” Grimhilde bellowed. “A potionsmistress like me knows a cauldron when she sees one.”

“I have no clue what you’re talking about,” Belle said. “Maybe it would be best to focus on the people actually attacking you.”

“Or maybe I’ll make an example out of that one first,” Grimhilde said with an evil grin.

Grimhilde waved her hand and Tiana’s kitchen suddenly exploded.

“No!” Belle yelled out as everybody scrambled toward Tiana.

For the Hoard

February 25, 2023

Ilodil and Lisnia made their way down the rock face of the cliff carefully. Ilodil had taken off his armor in order to make the climb and he was not happy about it. They had left a lot of their gear above as they planned to camp out for the night before they trekked back home. Lisnia was a much quicker climber and was a few lengths ahead of Ilodil.

“I can’t believe after all of that, you let the coin fall all the way down the cliff,” Ilodil said. “We have to get it back.”

“I know we have to get it back,” Lisnia said. “The whole point is to return the coin to Lord and Lady Frostsworn. That much is obvious. It’s not my fault that the bandit holding it fell off the cliff. Do you think he survived the fall?”

“I doubt it,” Ilodil said. “This is quite a cliff.”

“Agreed,” Lisnia said. “When we climb back up, will you carry me on your back?” She grinned and looked up at Ilodil.

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Ilodil said, glancing down and regretting it. “You’re quite strong enough to carry yourself back up.”

“Fine,” Lisnia said with a laugh. “I will definitely be ready for a good night’s sleep when we make it back up. I’m not cooking. I’m already too tired. Rations will be had by all.”

“Rations are fine,” Ilodil said. “I don’t need fancy food like you usually do. I will even take the first watch.”

“How gallant,” Lisnia said as she reached the bottom of the cliff. “You don’t have much farther to go. Don’t look down.” 

“I fear your warning came too late,” Ilodil said. “I have already looked down.”

“You always look down,” Lisnia said with a gentle sigh. “You know what that does to you.”

“I will maintain,” Ilodil said. “As you say, it is not much farther.” Lisnia watched as he slowly descended and faltered only slightly at the surprise of reaching the round. He brushed himself off and tried to hide his embarrassment. “Have you found the coin yet?”

“Oh! I guess I was distracted by watching your form,” Lisnia said. “I’ll look now.”

“Please do,” Ilodil said. “That climb cannot be for nothing.”

“Relax, Sir Grumpy,” Lisnia said as she looked around. She spotted the bandit spread eagled in the dirt. “Oh, I hope he was dead before he landed.” She shuddered and walked over. She plucked a coin from the dirt and cleaned it off. “Wait a moment, this isn’t the coin.”

“What?” Ilodil asked in a flat tone. “How can it not be the coin? Don’t tell me that the coin is still at the top of this blasted cliff.”

“No,” Lisnia said indignantly. “I saw him hold it up in the sunlight. He taunted me with it. Taunted us with it. Then he got an arrow for it and that led us to where we are now.”

“Then why is that not the coin?” Ilodil asked.

“It must be an errant coin,” Lisnia said. “A coincidental additional coin.” 

“I’m not sure about that but a more thorough search is required,” Ilodil said. “I believe you when you say that he had the coin. I have faith.” He started to search the ground around them.

“I’m touched,” Lisnia said. She leaned over the bandit who was well and truly dead. She pulled her arrow out of him and wiped it off on her pants. It was then that she noticed that the bandit’s fist was clenched. She bent down and pried it open and there was the coin they were searching for. “I knew it! Coin found. We’ll fulfill our contract after all.”

“And then some,” Ilodil said. “I found more coins in the dirt. A trail of them. They lead into that cave.”

“A bandit hidey hole perhaps?” Lisnia asked.

“Carelessly hidden if so,” Ilodil said as he led the way into the cave. The place was massive and what looked like gems were embedded in the walls. After they had made their way a little further in, they found an absolutely massive pile of treasure. It looked like millions of coins and various objects could be seen poking out from the sea of coins. The two adventurers were momentarily in awe.

“I don’t think this is for the bandits, dear Ilodil,” Lisnia said. “I think this is a dragon hoard.”

“There hasn’t been a dragon reported in the land for decades,” Ilodil said.

“Exactly,” Lisnia said with glee. “That means this was left behind and now it’s all ours.”

Into the Cosmos

February 4, 2023

The Legion of Tears had taken control of Villa Myra. Lord Myra himself and much of his household had been slaughtered senselessly in acts of wanton violence. The Legion got their name from a very specific regional drug that the group took. It was made from a combination of ground-up Duskmoss and Ghost Wasps. The feeling when one partook of the powder was extreme euphoria but long-term use often caused a loss of emotional control. This caused most mortal creatures to eventually start weeping uncontrollably. The Legion of Tears could be easily identified by these tear tracks. Longer use turned those tears bloody. 

The raging hoard of a cult had rushed the villa and overwhelmed the guards who were taken by surprise. They had then gone on to slaughter the staff and most of the family. The twins, Corra and James had somehow made it through the chaos. They had run blindly with many members of the Legion close at their heels. Just as they thought that they would be ended, a house materialized in the air and crashed down on several members of the Legion. The twins were stunned as a young woman in a very fancy dress stepped out and started picking off members of the Legion with a crossbow. A heavily scarred tiefling jumped out of a second-story window and launched a fireball that exploded, sending Legion members flying. 

“What are you waiting for?” the woman asked, yelling at the twins. “Get in the house!”

“What?” Corra asked, blinking.

“In the house!” the woman repeated, jabbing a finger toward the front door she had just come out of.

James grabbed Corra’s arm and pulled her toward the door. “It can’t be as bad in there as it is out here,” he yelled. “Come on, Corra. Run from the maniacs.”

“I hope you’re right, James,” Corra said as James pulled her inside.

The inside of the house was very ornate and the twins gaped in wonderment at the fancy house. Corra could have sworn she saw a torch sort of blinking at her. It felt off. For a moment, they both forgot the fighting outside. Then they remembered their family members.

“We have to go back for them, James,” Corra said.

“We can’t,” James said. “They’re already gone. It’s too dangerous.”

“We shouldn’t have run,” Corra said. “We could have saved them.”

The woman and the tiefling burst through the front door and slammed it behind them.

“Are you crazy?” the woman asked. “There’s no way you could have survived. You did the right thing.” She banged on the wall. “Let’s go before they try and break in.”

The twins felt the house go all weightless for a moment and then things went back to normal. Corra rushed to the nearest window and there was nothing but blackness outside of the window as if somebody had painted it with tar.

“There’s nothing out there,” James said from behind her.

Corra looked back at him. “What’s going on?” she asked.

The tiefling spoke up. “It’s the void between planes,” he said. “It’s where the house goes when it travels.”

“Since when does a house travel?” Corra asked. “Who are you?”

“This is a very particular house,” the woman said. “My name is Kestrel Proudseeker and this is Wit Cinderstride.” She pointed at the tiefling who nodded. “He’s mute, not impolite. This is the House of Mystery and it goes where it is needed.”

“Where it’s needed?” James asked. “I don’t want to seem ungrateful but the house could have shown up a little earlier.”

Corra nodded in solidarity with her brother.

“I wish we had shown up earlier,” Kestrel said. “Near as we can tell, the house can’t see the future but can sense danger in the moment. It must have sensed specifically that you two were in trouble.”

“Why us?” Corra asked.

“You must be needed to save the planes,” Kestrel said. “What the house needs with two teenage elves is beyond me.”

“We don’t have any clue either,” James said. 

“I don’t want to save anything right now,” Corra said. “I just want to cry.”

“I understand,” Kestrel said. “But I’m not about to argue with a house. Pick whatever unoccupied room you want. There’s plenty of food and drink in the kitchen.”

The twins wandered off together into the house.


January 7, 2023

Caraline gripped the ledge outside of Castle Diadem with one hand while she clutched the Jewel of Dragons in her other hand. This heist had not gone as well as she had planned. She reviewed the plan. The first step had been to enter the castle undetected. She had accomplished that. The next step had been to grab the Jewel of Dragons without setting off any traps. This had also been checked off the list with only a few complications. The last step had been to exit the castle again undetected. That last part had not gone off without a hitch. A chance encounter with a servant had alerted the guards. A makeshift escape rope had been made from a tapestry but it had only gotten her so far. That led to her predicament.

As her mind raced to try to find the next step in her escape plan, a crossbow bolt suddenly impacted her shoulder. It was the shoulder of the arm hanging onto the ledge. Miraculously, she barely managed to hold on for a few moments. Then her arm spasmed and her fingers released as if they had a mind of their own. She started her rapid descent and her mind went into overdrive. She quickly swallowed the jewel. She would need her hands free. She tore the bolt out of her shoulder and grabbed both ends and caught it on a stone jutting out of the wall. The pain was exquisite but the move slowed her down enough to push off of the wall in a backflip.

She was much more close to the ground but still had a ways to go. She twisted in the air and just barely caught hold of a branch of the tall tree in front of the castle. She swung on the branch and pointed her body to a lower branch. She bounced off the limb and tumbled clumsily downwards. She braced herself for impact and landed on her own two feet. She was definitely going to feel all of this for weeks. This jewel better be worth it. She shook it off and sprinted toward the gates.

The gates were in the process of closing. Crossbow bolts flew past her but she sprinted with everything she had left. A big guard stepped into her path but she launched her fist into the poor guy’s throat. She pivoted around his falling body and pushed off to sprint again. She slid under the closing gate and then somersaulted back into a run. The treeline seemed so far away. That was the moment that she felt a hand on her back and she was suddenly teleported far into the trees. She promptly ran into a tree.

“Sorry!” a voice cried out. “I was trying to help!”

Caralina wiped the blood from her broken nose. “I told you that I did not need your help!” she yelled.

Andi reached down to try to help Caralina up. “I know you did and I tried to not help,” she said. “I could have helped you countless times but I was good. I could have cast invisibility, feather fall, stone shape, and so many more spells but I waited until you had succeeded. You were about to be shot in the back.”

“I was already shot,” Caralina said, waving Andi away. “I survived that well enough.”

“You’re not invincible!” Andi shouted. “You have to accept help at some point.”

“I’m fine,” Caralina said. “I’ll get to a cleric.”

“Did you get the jewel?” Andi asked.

“Yeah,” Caralina said. “We’re going to have to wait for it. I had to swallow it.”

“You did what!?” Andi asked.

“Is that bad?” Caralina asked, frowning at the urgency in Andi’s voice.

“We should get you to that cleric a little quicker,” Andi said.

The Gift

December 24, 2022

Cassidy Wintercrest had The Gift. She had always wanted to make a difference in the world and something, somewhere had made that happen. A little voice in her ear had granted her the ability to protect the people. This had come in the form of a magical sword that she had found stuck into a snow bank one winter. Remarkably, the blade had no rust even though it had been submerged in snow and wedged into the frozen ground below. The blade was perfect and when she touched the handle, that voice in her ear came alive.

“Hello Cassidy,” the voice had said. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Who said that?” Casidy asked. “Who’s there?”

She looked all around but Cassidy could see nobody. However, she did feel somebody was very close and it unnerved her a bit. She was a simple young woman from a family of modest means but she had very little contact with magic. The village and the farms nearby were too out of the way for adventurers passing through and the locals could handle the odd beast or goblin attack. Magic was not part of her world and she knew that is what she was touching. Something about the blade was mystical and it scared and excited her.

“You cannot see me, child,” the voice said. “I am both close at hand and very far away. This sword before you is a conduit to me.”

“Where are you then?” Cassidy asked. 

She was not so ignorant as to not know about the other planes of existence. If she was talking to a being of Hell or the Abyss, she would have to walk away and send for a priest or cleric of some sort. The thing talking to her would be pure evil.

“I am not from any of the 9 Hells nor am I from the cold Abyss,” the voice said. “Be assured of that.”

“How did you know that’s what I was thinking?” Cassidy asked. 

“Truthfully, touching the hilt of the sword opened a connection between us,” the voice said. “If you walk away, then that connection will fade with time. If you take up the sword, that connection will be strengthened.”

Cassidy thought about that for a few moments. It sounded like there were not so many strings attached to what the sword wanted. But what did the sword want? 

“And what happens then?” Cassidy asked. “If I take up the sword.”

“I help you fight for truth and justice,” the voice said. “We make a pact and that pact will give you power. Power beyond anything you’ve seen before.”

“So we make a deal,” Cassidy said. “What do you get out of the deal?”

“I get a champion to help manage my affairs on your Earth,” the voice said. “However, I would never call on you to do anything that would be against your moral code.”

“Pretty words,” Cassidy said. “How can I be sure they’re true?”

“I must speak the truth,” the voice said. “If I don’t, I lose much of my power.”

“Wait,” Cassidy said. “You said what you aren’t but you haven’t said what you are. Are you a fairy?”

“I am fae in nature,” the voice said. “Yes.”

“Fairies can’t lie,” Cassidy said, more for herself. “But they are not wholly beneficial to mortals. Fairies are tricky.”

“I don’t wish to trick you,” the voice said. “The honest truth is that I seek to contain a threat caused by one of my kind.”

“You could have led with that,” Cassidy said.

“I didn’t wish to frighten you,” the voice said. “I was going to work up to it.”

“No more lies by omission either,” Cassidy said. “Or I walk away.”

“You haven’t walked away yet,” the voice said. “Does that mean you’re interested?”

“I’m obviously interested,” Cassidy said. “But I need to know everything. That starts with your name.”

“Names mean power,” the voice said.

“Backing out so quickly?” Cassidy asked.

“I only say that to show how important it is that I give you mine,” the voice said. “My name is Rainer. Pleased to make your acquaintance.”

Faetown Pt. 6

December 10, 2022

They were almost to the site of the mysterious resurfaced prison. Traffic was light this early in the morning but RH had had to endure Jenny’s insistence on listening to drive time radio. That had finished and Jenny had retreated into her phone, rapidly typing with her thumbs and concentrating. RH glanced over at her.

“What are you doing over there?” RH asked, more out of boredom than real curiosity. “You look so absorbed in what you’re doing. Playing games?”

“I’m not playing games,” Jenny said. “I’m on the job. We’re in go mode. I’m setting up social media alerts in case something strange happens. Whatever we’re tracking is already on the move and we’re going to want to know the second it does something weird.”

“Good idea,” RH said. “We have no idea what we’re dealing with. I hope you included a pretty broad list of search terms.”

“I’m a whiz when it comes to search terms,” Jenny said. “Some of us have adapted well to the human world.”

“I’ve adapted fine,” RH said. “I’m just more into reading their books and watching their movies than being on the phone or the computer all the time.”

“Ok Boomer,” Jenny said.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” RH asked.

“I’m not sure yet,” Jenny said. “It’s something humans say to make fun of people who are old-fashioned. Which is you.”

“I gathered,” RH said. “We’re here. Put it on vibrate.” He pulled the truck into a field and toward a stone arch structure. There was nothing but the arch but with the fae, nothing was ever as it seemed. RH grabbed a sawed-off shotgun and carefully loaded it with iron shot cartridges.

“That’s not regulation,” Jenny said. She grabbed an old-school revolver and checked the ammunition and gave the cylinder a spin.

“I’m not going down if there’s a dragon or something in there,” RH said. “I plan to make it back out alive.”

“Do you think that’s a possibility?” Jenny asked. “It’s been so long since I’ve seen a dragon. If it’s a dragon we’ll need surface-to-air missiles or a descendant of Finn McCool. I don’t want it to be a dragon.”

“I’ve got a small arsenal in the trunk if it comes to it,” RH said. “Pretty much none of it is regulation either. All we have to do is fall back to this position.”

“I’ll remember that if we don’t get vaporized right away,” Jenny said. “Now I’m curious about what you have back there.”

“Hopefully, you’ll stay curious,” RH said. “Some of it I’m even afraid to handle.”

“Is there an elevator back there?” Jenny asked with a huge sarcastic grin..

RH glared at her for a beat and then headed toward an opening that seemed to be ripped through the fabric of space itself. It was a door with no supporting walls on the banks of Curtis Creek. Jenny caught up easily. Luckily the park was closed but their badges would deflect any harassment from any other authorities. The two faerie officers approached guns drawn. RH motioned for both of them to stop and they listened for a bit. Things were mostly quiet.

“Anybody there?” Jenny called out after she lost her patience. “Any persons or creatures should throw down any weapons and lie down on the ground. Behave and we can tell them that you cooperated. That will mean a lot.”

“English? Really?” RH asked. “That cobbled-together language wasn’t around when anything in there was locked away. At least, not in the form we’re using today. It took me a month of exposure to learn the local tongue.”

“You have a point,” Jenny said. “Silly me. I mean, nothing answered anyway so we’re probably clear.”

RH shrugged and called out in ancient Gaelic. “Peace! We mean you no harm. Do not attack. If you need assistance, call out.” He then took a deep breath and stepped through the opening. He had once faced armies of men but, like most fae, he found his power reduced. Even being as magically resistant to harm as he was, he knew he could still be hurt and killed.

Jenny followed RH inside and the two took up positions to check the place out. It was clear that something bad had happened in the prison. The walls were scarred by some sort of magical discharge and there was debris all over the place. The prison was filled with what appeared to be statues. In reality, the two of them knew that creatures were sealed in stone to keep them in stasis during imprisonment. One of the statues had been ripped in half by something powerful which meant that prisoner was dead.

“Do you see anything out of place yet?” Jenny asked, still holding her revolver at the ready.

“One missing statue over there,” RH said as he pointed. “They did not exactly label any of the positions. I guess they never needed to know who was who.”

“I see two more empty spots over there,” Jenny said. “There might be more. This place got a little shook up when it landed on this plane of existence.”

“So we could be looking at anywhere from one to half a dozen escapees,” RH said. “We better get a lead soon and before anybody gets hurt.”

“Let’s get out of here,” Jenny said. “I’ll seal the place up and we can start looking for whoever doesn’t belong.”

“Sounds like a plan,” RH said. “Not much of one but it’s what we have. If we don’t get a lead, there are some people in Faetown who might be able to help.”

“Yeah,” Jenny said. “I would think they would be hungry for humans as soon as they woke up so heading toward a more populated area might be smart.”

Faetown Pt. 5

December 4, 2022

Trace pulled her car into the parking lot. Jove had been uncharacteristically quiet on the way in to work. He had sat there staring into the middle distance leaving Trace to listen to her music on the way in. Jove usually argued to listen to the news on the way in. He was endlessly curious about the world that he was no longer free to journey into. She worried about his mental health but she also worried about her own mental health. Something had to give. She loved him but they had been bonded close together by the accident for far too long already. She hoped work would prove distracting.

“Are you okay, Jove?” she asked. “We’re here.”

He made no response and did not stop staring through the windshield.

“Earth to Jove,” she said, waving her hand in front of his face. “We have arrived at our destination. It’s time to get to work.”

Jove slowly came back to himself. “Sorry, how long was I gone?” he asked.

“Gone?” Trace asked. “You were staring and keeping to yourself the whole ride over but you didn’t go anywhere. Did you think you went somewhere?”

“I’m not sure,” Jove said. “I definitely did not feel like I was here. It felt more like television static.”

Trace tried to keep the horror off of her face. “Is that something we should be worried about?” she asked. “I mean, what if you ‘go away’ and don’t come back? Should we talk to Hari about it?”

“We’re at work,” Jove said. “Let’s do work things right now. We can always talk to Hari later. I’m not going anywhere.”

Trace narrowed her eyes at him and then let it go. He was an adult. “Alright, game faces on then,” she said. “Let’s do the damn thing.” They bumped fists or at least the nearest equivalent that a ghost could achieve. 

The two of them walked toward the office side by side. Trace opened one of the double doors and Jove floated through the other one. The office was bustling with people either going to their desks for analyst jobs or gearing up to get out into the field. Trace walked over to check the duty roster and found that she was scheduled for a briefing. She headed over to the analyst bullpen with Jove in tow.

They approached Calton Mirra’s desk which, as usual, looked like it was devouring the bespectacled redhead whole. She was bordered on one side by a three-monitor display and was tapping away at one of two keyboards. She was also surrounded by precariously balanced stacks of binders. The young woman seemed to sense their arrival even though Trace approached from behind and Jove made no sound.

“Trace and The Ghost approach,” she said without turning.

“I’m not a ghost,” Jove said. “You know I’m not a ghost and yet you persist in calling me that. I have a name.”

“I call you ‘Ghost’ because it is a fun button to push and pushing buttons is what I do,” Calton said. “Also, ghost is just shorthand because I know you are not a ghost but also I do not know what you are. Tell me what you really are and I will change your designation.”

“And you won’t just use my name?” Jove asked.

“By Jove, I think he’s got it,” Calton said. “You’ve got a weird name.”

“You’ve got a weird name!” Jove said in retort.

“I gave myself this name,” Calton said. “What’s your excuse?”

“Children,” Trace said, putting up a hand in between the two. “Stop arguing about stupid stuff.”

Calton shrugged and then nodded. “Agreed. Can we get to the business at hand?” she asked.  “It’s exhausting talking so much with my mouth.”

“Give us the information we need to hit the road and we’ll get out of your hair, Callie,” Trace said. “Strictly business.”

“A fair trade,” Callie said. “Thi is what we have.” She brought up an address on her center monitor. “This is where you will be going. 2532 Gwydion Street over in Faetown. That’s not a problem, right? I’ve read your file.”

“It’s fine, Callie,” Trace said. “Nowhere in Baltimore is off limits.”

“I’m not super happy about it but I’ll do it,” Jove said. “In case anybody was concerned.”

“Mildly,” Callie said. “It looks like there was a disturbance there. Not enough for the police to bother with but it has the Mayor of Faetown’s office concerned. They have hired us to investigate.”

“Don’t they have their own people for that?” Jove asked.

“Jove!” Trace said as a way of reprimanding Jove. “But I guess he actually does have a point. You would think that they would handle these sorts of matters internally.”

“There are many reasons why that’s not true,” Callie said. “They may not trust their own people with this. There’s also been a renewed effort for transparency from Fae leadership. They may want to make sure they have nothing to hide.”

“Everybody has something to hide,” Jove said. “Everybody.”

“Cliched dialogue. Check,” Callie said. “Your contact will be the Executive Assistant of the Mayor, Elicia.”

“There’s no mayor of Faetown, Callie,” Trace said. “Baltimore has a mayor, Faetown is part of Baltimore.”

“A figure of speech,” Callie said. “The duly elected council member and ambassador of the Fae. Enodia, spirit of the crossroads. Your attempt at a correction tires me even more.”

“We get the idea, Callie,” Trace said. “We’ll let you stop peopling and get back to your research. Come on, Jove. The game is afoot.”

“Cute,” Jove said. “See you later, weirdo.”

“See you later, Ghost,” Callie said. 

Trace walked out of the office before their argument could start up again and Jove was forced to follow her. She walked over to her locker to grab the keys to her SUV and her sidearm. The pistol was a state-the-art model with electric stun ammunition. Employees of the firm were not allowed to carry lethal ammunition unless they received authorization from an official law enforcement officer. Not that Trace was itching to use the firearm even though she had trained thoroughly. She left the body armor in her locker. This was a discreet detection job at best so armor seemed like overkill. She led Jove out back to the garage and they got into her official work vehicle.

Faetown Pt. 4

November 26, 2022

Balor ignored all of that with not a bit of amusement. “One of them has gotten loose,” he said. “All the safeguards we had in place but one of them has gotten loose.”

“One of what?” RH asked. “I haven’t heard of any breakouts. I have alerts programmed into my phone for all of the prisons.”

“All of the prisons that you know of,” Balor said. “This is one of the great old ones. Sealed away from the eyes of mortals and fae kind alike.”

“Like the ones we were put in?” Jenny asked. “The cold, dark nothingness that we were put in?”

“Another one just like that,” Balor said. “But even worse. Ancient things that never had a chance at redemption like us.”

“If this prison was lost, then how do you know about it?” RH asked.

“Always the detective,” Balor said with a chuckle. “The prison reconnected with this world when the breakout occurred, otherwise the inmate would have had nowhere to escape to except for the void. No sane being would journey into the void like that.”

“Some of our kind are not exactly sane,” RH said. “I’m sure some of them might consider the void instead of prison. I’m not completely certain I wouldn’t succumb to despair.”

“It kind of puts the whole elevator thing in perspective, huh?” Jenny asked.

RH stared at her for a long moment and then shrugged. “The two things are separate,” RH said. “I don’t see a connection.” RH kept staring at her and Jenny stared back, slowly raising one eyebrow.

“Oh! I get it,” Jenny said.”He’s fucking with me.” She laughed. “You’re fucking with me. I get it. Very funny.” She smirked and shook her head.

“Can we get down to business?” RH asked. “I think we’re through talking about our feelings. Who are we tracking down?”

Balor grunted and shrugged. “That’s where it gets difficult,” he said. “We have no way of knowing who broke out of prison.”

“Tell me you’re joking,” Jenny said. “That’s the most important information we need.”

“When ancient beings throw beings into a hole and throw away the key, they don’t exactly keep records,” Balor said. “They expect the problem to go away.”

“A ridiculous idea,” RH said. “Problems don’t just go away.”

“Our jailers were not always rational,” Balor said. “It’s left to us to clean up their mess in this situation.”

“So what leads do we actually have?” Jenny asked. “We can’t just drive around and hope to run into an unaccounted bogeyman, right?”

Balor grinned. “I suppose that would be a waste of everybody’s time,” he said. “I have only one thing to offer you.”

“The location of the prison,” RH said matter-of-factly. “That’s the only thing you could have.”

“Always the brilliant detective,” Balor said. “Yes. The approximate address of the prison has been sent to your phones.”

RH and Jenny both looked at their phones. 

“It’s not even that far away,” Jenny said, her smile fading. “Not too close to high population areas, though. Gods be praised for that.”

“What are the odds that this prison shows up in Baltimore of all places?” 

“Why do you ask such questions?” Jenny asked. “Be thankful for small miracles. Accentuate the positive.”

RH shrugged. “I don’t believe in miracles,” he said. “Miracles and coincidences are both exceedingly rare. There’s always a reason.” 

Balor grunted and frowned. “Can you take your philosophical discussion on the road?” he asked. “Time is slipping away and there’s a vulnerable population out there that might be in danger. Knowing, what might be in that prison, they probably are in great danger. Get going. Get me results.”

Jenny saluted Balor sarcastically with a grin on her face and she turned and left the office before her boss could read her the riot act for insubordination. RH briefly shrugged as if in apology but then realized that he was not responsible for Jenny Greenteeth. Nobody in their right mind would be responsible for her. Of course, he knew that he was no prize to be won either. Then he realized that he was lingering in his boss’s office to avoid getting back into the elevator. He sighed and headed out of the office and down the hall. Jenny was waiting and holding open the door to the stairs with a really annoying smug look on her face. RH pointedly walked right into the elevator and started his descent downward. He let the doors close before Jenny could react.

Jenny managed to catch up a minute or so later out in front of the office building. She was smiling but RH could tell that she was a little bit pissed. “We’re taking your car and you are driving,” she said. “I will navigate.”

RH unlocked his truck. “I don’t need anybody to navigate,” he said. “You can sit and look pretty if you would like.” He climbed up into the driver’s seat and closed the door. He knew the land. He had always had a connection to the land wherever he had lived. Ireland was now far far away but he had connected with his new adopted Maryland. It helped that Baltimore had its share of Irish Americans. That felt familiar enough.

Jenny opened the passenger side and climbed into the seat with as much grace as she could muster. “I will always look pretty no matter what,” Jenny said. “That’s a given. I will think of something to do on the way there.”

“I’m sure you will,” RH said. “Just don’t annoy me.” A truly impossible request but if he did not ask, he would never get it anyway. He had not worked a lot with Jenny but he knew her by reputation. She seemed to have subverted her now-ancient murderous impulses into trolling people. She was reportedly a good officer as well and loyal to the Fae despite her outward behavior.

“No promises,” Jenny said. “Would it have killed you to open a lady’s door, though?”

“Don’t start,” RH said as he started the truck. “If I held the door for you, you would have nagged me for that instead.”

Jenny laughed. “You think you know all of my tricks,” she said. “I will still surprise you. I will always surprise you.”

“You make that sound like a threat,” RH said as he started the vehicle toward the direction of the prison.

“Oh darling,” Jenny said with a giggle. “Everything about me is a threat.”

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