Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

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.”

Advertisement

Faetown Pt. 3

November 19, 2022

RH walked through the decadent marble and brass of the new government building that had recently opened in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. As usual, he was covered head to toe in black clothing and wore a ceramic mask that only left his eyes exposed.  He much preferred the offices that he and other officers worked in. It was a solid concrete bunker. It felt more private and had fewer needless decorations. He flashed his badge at the security guard who had started to stand up. The guy sat back down and waved him through. RH gave him a grateful half-smile that the guard could not have seen through RH’s mask and did not break his stride. He hit the button for the elevator which opened right up. He stepped inside and took a deep breath as he watched the doors close. He hated elevators. They were a stupid human invention. Just before the doors closed, thin green-tinged fingers appeared between the doors. When the doors slowly re-opened, there was the grinning visage of Jenny Greenteeth. It startled him and he actually let out a gasp.

“Nice to see you too,” Jenny said with a smirk. She stepped into the elevator with style and grace. “Well, as much as you can be seen.”

“It’s not you,” RH said. “I hate elevators. You caught me at a weak moment.” The doors closed again and RH winched. The elevator started to rise.

“Imagine a bogeyman like you having a weak moment,” Jenny said. “Imagine something like you admitting to a weak moment.”

“I guess you just have a way of making people feel vulnerable,” RH said.

“I know,” Jenny said. “Exploiting that vulnerability was where I ran into trouble.”

“Yes,” RH said. “A lot of us got into trouble. That’s why we’re here.”

“That’s why we’re here,” Jenny said with a smile. “Redemption.”

RH grunted. “I suppose,” he said. “Or at least something to do each morning.”

The elevator dinged and the door opened and RH pushed past Jenny to get out. He could hear Jenny’s laughter at his back but he did not care. He was out. He started on his way down the hallway and Jenny easily caught up, her luurious green hair bouncing as she walked and her green eyes shining with mirth.

“We’re going to the same place, slow down,” Jenny said.

“When the big boss calls you in, you can’t get there soon enough,” RH said. “How do you know we’re going to the same place?”

“Just a hunch,” Jenny said. “Besides not many offices on this floor.” She added quickly.

“True enough,” RH said and slowed down a little.

“You also just confirmed that we’re both meeting with the big boss,” Jenny said.

“Top level detective,” RH said. He opened the door for her and then they both walked into the reception area for Balor’s office. His secretary snapped to attention.

“Can I help you?” she asked. The sign on her desk said that her name was Becky.

Jenny spoke first. “Yes, hello Becky,” she said sweetly. “We’re here to see Balor. Could you buzz us in? I’m Jenny Greenteeth and this is – “.

“Just RH is fine,” RH said, interrupting.

“His name is a little long,” Jenny said. “He’s sensitive about it.”

“I’m not,” RH said. “It’s fine.”

“That’s right,” Jenny said. “Repress, repress, repress.”

Becky looked from RH to Jenny and back again and then hit the intercom. “Mr. Balor, your nine AM meeting is here,” she said.

A deep baritone voice came in over the intercom. “I told you that it is simply Balor,” Balor said and then sighed. “Send them in.”

Becky gestured to the door and Jenny and RH walked side by side, opening the double doors and walking inside. Balor stood in front of the big glass window of his office. Looking past him, RH could see the faint glow of Faetown on the other side of the harbor.

“Heavy is the head, eh boss?” Jenny asked gently.

Balor replied without turning around. “I am no longer a king,” he said. “I have no crown. Still, I have responsibilities and loyalty to our people.”

Jenny and RH looked at each other for a moment and the silence stretched on.

“We all do,” RH said. “How can we help?” His voice was kind and gentle, something that seemed to catch Jenny off guard. He was capable of compassion despite what all the old stories might say.

Balor slowly turned around, his one enormous eye blinking a bit as his mood went from wistful to the intensity of being on the job. RH and Jenny stood at attention as his gaze took them in. RH had known Balor for a long time. Centuries of shared experience in seeking redemption from the bad old days.

“Obviously, I called you here because of a sensitive job,” Balor said and gestured toward the armchairs in front of his desk as he sat down. “Otherwise this could have been a conference call or an email.” He shuffled through a few files on his desk. “Thank you for coming in, of course. I know it’s a little out of the way.”

“I’ll always make time for you, boss,” Jenny said with a bright smile. ”No problem at all.”

“Brown noser,” RH grunted. “It’s fine. Let’s get to business, boss. What have we got?”

Jenny stuck out her tongue and gave RH a one-finger salute in response which RH shrugged off.

Faetown Pt. 2

November 12, 2022

Trace stepped into the bathroom and shut the door. She knew that Jove could just walk through the door but setting boundaries was still important. Especially when Jove insisted on testing those boundaries. It was not as if Trace did not still have feelings for the guy, it was just more complicated than that now. She was still processing things but something would have to give soon or they would both go crazy. Sometimes she wondered if Jove hadn’t already gone crazy. She could no longer predict his moods. It was troubling.

She turned on the shower and disrobed as steam filled the bathroom. She breathed in and breathed out, trying to center herself. When you visit a lot of mystics, you start to pick up on a few things as a side benefit. A lot of them were into meditation and yoga which Trace found helped her out. She looked down and ran her fingers over the shrapnel lodged in her abdominal muscles. As far as anybody could tell, these were pieces of a fae artifact from the cart that Jove’s car had plowed through. Nobody knew what it had actually been which meant that it was obscure and probably highly illegal.

These pieces of rare metal were imbued with magical energy and acted as an anchor that forced Jove’s spirit to stay within twenty feet. When doctors had tried to remove the fragments, it had hurt both Trace and Jove horribly. After a quick consult with a local mystic named Hari Shaw, the doctors decided to leave the shrapnel in. The metal was mostly stuck in muscle and fat and luckily had not pierced any organs. It was not an ideal solution. It kept both Trace and Jove from having complete autonomy and the artifact might have unforeseen effects down the line.

Trace snapped out of it suddenly and hopped into the shower. She always got lost in herself in the mornings and it always caused her to nearly be late to work. She quickly washed herself, letting the water wake her up and wash away the last vestiges of sleep and negativity. If she started the day on the wrong foot, it would throw the whole day out of whack. She yanked on her underwear and her uniform. It was gray and black with the Waverton corporate logo very prominent. Her name was stitched carefully on the vest. She burst out of the bathroom to look for her boots.

“I still can’t believe you’re a cop now,” Jove said softly, watching her from the far side of the living room. He was pretending to lean against the wall as if he was not intangible. He would have fallen through the floor if he had not instinctually floated to make it appear like he was being held up by the floor. His hair was perpetually shaggy as it was unable to grow or get cut. His eyes twinkled with mischief. He had not had heterochromia before the accident but that seemed to be the only change.

“I’m not a cop,” Trace said, probably a little too forcefully. “Waverton is a private security and detection firm. I trained for this”

“I know,” Jove said. “I was there for most of it.”

That was true. The accident had happened after she had been accepted to Waverton’s academy so Jove had been dragged to basic training. It had been awkward. They almost tossed Trace out but probably kept her because they would be automatically getting two people for the price of one.

“Yeah yeah,” Trace said. “Thank you and sorry for that.”

Jove shrugged. “It’s whatever,” he said. “I was trying to say that you look good in your uniform. Also, your boots are over there.” He pointed and Trace could not help but smile.

“Thank you,” she said and pulled her boots on and laced them as quickly as she could. “Are you ready to go?”

“Let me just grab my purse,” Jove said with a dopey grin.

“Very funny,” Trace said. “I just don’t want to drag you outside before you’re ready since I have the legs.”

“Right,” Jove said. “I’m ready. Let’s get you to work on time.”

Trace nodded and grabbed her bag and opened the door. She was determined for this day to be a good one.

***

Jove followed Trace, working to match her intensity. It was not like he was actually exerting himself but it took a little extra will to make himself go faster. He still had no idea how this spirit thing was supposed to work. He reached out and watched his hand phase through the door handle of Trace’s SUV. He had been trying to learn to manipulate physical objects with no success so far. Sometimes he trained with Hari while Trace was in bed. Even if the training had not been successful yet, at least it helped pass the time.

He took a deep breath and pushed himself through the passenger door and then he was in the passenger seat. As he had passed through the door he had briefly felt his essence interact with the electrical circuits in the door. This had happened before but it was infrequent.

“Are you alright?” Trace asked.

Jove absolutely did not want to talk about it. “I’m fine,” he said. “Let’s go. Take the HOV lane.”

Trace started the vehicle and pulled out, heading toward the office.

“I don’t know,” Trace said. “Is that cheating?”

“I’m here and that makes two people,” Jove said. “They’re not going to pull you over and stick a nightstick through my head.”

“You say that but they might,” Trace said with a teasing smile.

“I bet they won’t,” Jove said. “Ten bucks.”

“Sure,” Trace said. “You’re on. It’s a bet.” She pulled the car toward the entrance of the HOV lanes. Jove gave her a self-satisfied smile. “How is it that I’ll be disappointed if I win or if you win.”

“Pure skills,” Jove said.

“Whatever,” Trace said and rolled her eyes as she kept driving.

Faetown Pt. 1

November 5, 2022

Jove woke up with a throbbing pain in his knee and stiffness in his shoulder. The knee injury had been from his days of playing soccer in high school. It felt like centuries ago but it had only been twenty years. During one of those “big games,” the score had been tied and several college scouts were watching the action from the stands. All of those classic clichés. It had started to rain. Not too hard but enough to complicate things. A little wet grass sent his foot sliding and he had gone down with a twisted knee. Even after surgery, the pain in his knee had never truly gone away. It never hurt enough to need intervention and he often wondered if the pain was all in his head and the look in the doctor’s eyes had seemed to confirm that. He had accepted that and moved on.

The pain in his shoulder was from the accident which Jove never really wanted to think about. He decided not to think about the accident right then as he had better things to do. It was morning and there were better things to do than mull over trauma while staring at the ceiling. He rolled onto his side to observe Trace who was sleeping peacefully. His gaze lingered a bit on the scar on her cheek and he immediately tried to suppress the immense crushing guilt that started welling up like a volcano. He took a deep breath and reached out to press his hand into her side.

She yelped. “Cold!” she called out as she woke up. She rolled over to look at him, narrowing those intense blue eyes in annoyance immediately as she swept her dirty blond hair out of her face. “What have I said about touching me while I’m sleeping?”

“I believe you said not to do it,” Jove admitted. “But it’s morning and I’m bored and it seemed like the funny thing to do.” He smiled slowly. “I was right. It was pretty funny.”

“I don’t know why I ever dated you,” Trace said and then sighed and started to get up.

“I’m very cute,” Jove said. “And I possess a lot of attractive qualities besides that. I know how to cook.” 

“I suppose you did,” Trace said. “At one point or another.”

“I still have a lot of those qualities, Trace,” Jove said defensively as he got to his feet. “They don’t just go away. It doesn’t work that way.”

Trace rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I guess that’s true,” she said. “But cute doesn’t do as much when you’re dead. It’s like a photo of a puppy is cute but you can’t pet the puppy.” 

“I’m not dead!” Jove snapped.

“Yeah but you’re not exactly still alive,” Trace said. “What would you call that? And don’t make the same joke about losing your body.”

“It’s not really a joke, Trace,” Jove said indignantly. “I had a body, I went to sleep, and I woke up without a body.”

“Didn’t the therapist tell you to stop downplaying things?” Trace asked. “Something about being more honest about our circumstances leading to acceptance and some semblance of peace?”

“I thought you had your headphones on during sessions,” Jove said. “That stuff is private.”

“Sometimes there is silence between songs,” Trace said. “Can you blame me for being curious?”

“Fine,” Jove said and took a deep breath. He spoke again in an even tone, not focusing his eyes on anything in particular.  “I was showing off for my girlfriend in my car. I wasn’t paying attention and I crashed into a stall in Faetown. There was an explosion and I blacked out. When I woke up, my essence or whatever was outside of my body and I couldn’t climb back in.”

“I wasn’t blameless, you know,” Trace said softly. “I was pretty much encouraging you to show off.”

Jove paused and refocused his eyes on her. “You’ve never said that before,” Jove said. 

“Well, therapy is good for some things,” Trace said. “It’s only fair, to tell the truth. I got off light for my transgressions. I mean unless you count being metaphysically tied to the ghost of my dead boyfriend. Which I do.”

“Not dead,” Jove said but the tone was a bit softer. “I never meant for this to happen to us.”

“I know,” Trace said. “Fae magic is unpredictable. We’re only starting to understand it.”

“Yeah, I know,” Jove said. “Do you think we can visit my grave again?”

“Definitely not,” Trace said. “It’s too morbid. Besides, if you’re not really dead, why do you care about a useless rotting body underground?”

“Well, I walked around in it for a long time,” Jove said. “I’m a little nostalgic about that.”

“That’s fair,” Trace said. “Maybe the mystics will figure things out and we can get you a new body.”

“I don’t know how to feel about that,” Jove said. “I mean, I wouldn’t be ungrateful but I’m not sure if a new body would have enough one-to-one similarity to my old body. Like what if I was suddenly blond?”

“I mean, is that really all that big a deal?” Trace asked. “Superficial physical differences?”

“Don’t downplay my theoretical body dysmorphia, you used to dye your hair constantly,” Jove said, folding his arms across his chest. “You probably would be cool with it. Always so practical. Practical Trace.”

Trace shook her head and opened her mouth to argue but then shrugged. “I don’t have time for this,” she said. “I have to get to work. Close your eyes. I’m going for a shower. Can I trust you or do you have to spend time in the lantern?” She gently placed her hand on the old lantern and it softly glowed green. It was a spirit lantern and could be used to store incorporeal beings. It was not pleasant. In fact, it was disorienting.

“I don’t like the lantern,” Jove said flatly.

“What’s it like in there?” Trace asked. “You haven’t said.”

Jove stared into the distance again. “I don’t remember,” he said.

“No disassociating,” Trace said. “Stay with me.”

Jove shook it off and smiled. “For real, it’s like the thing puts me on pause when I’m in there,” he said. “It’s too creepy.”

“Alright,” Trace said. “No lantern then. I don’t want to torture you. But the lantern does prove that you can interact with objects and not just living creatures, Mr. Icyhands.”

“I guess,” Jove said. “Experiments need to be completed and data needs to be extrapolated.”

“You sound halfway smart when you use big words,” Trace said, grabbing her towel.

“Thank you,” Jove said. “You say just the sweetest things. Go take your shower already.”

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 9

September 3, 2022

Belle pulled a flustered Tiana aside who was watching her husband run up the mountain toward a monster taller than any building she had ever seen. Tiana struggled to pull her attention back to Belle, her heart pounding. She was not used to being in combat.

“What do you need, Belle?” Tiana asked, putting on a brave face.

Belle gave Tiana a tight, stressed smile. “I need you to do what you do best, Tiana,” she said. “I need you to follow a recipe.”

“Wait, really?” Tiana asked. “Is this really the time for beignets?”

“I would love to have whatever those are later,” Belle said. “But for now I need a potion and I need you to brew it.” Belle recited something from her spell book and waved her hand and a full kitchen with a cauldron. She waved her hand and a page from the book appeared in Tiana’s hands.

Tiana was startled but pleased. This was right up her alley and she was suddenly fired up again. “You got it,” Tiana said. “One potion coming up!” She rolled up her sleeves and cinched her hair tie a little together.

“Good,” Belle said. “We’re going to need a lot of it.”

“Right,” Tiana said and started to read while Belle ran back into the battle.


Up on Bald Mountain, Jasmine’s team approached the monster. She had shouted instructions at the group as they ran. Anna and Naveen picked up rocks and started to throw them at Chernabog. This drew the annoyed monster’s gaze from Grimhilde and toward the insignificant insects that dared even approach it. When Chernabog tried to swat at the group, Esmerelda and Eugene made everybody vanish in a puff of smoke. Jasmine lept from nowhere and stabbed her sword into the beast’s hand. The others followed suit and the beast howled in pain. Adam transformed into the Beast, ran up Chernabog’s arm, and clawed at its eye.

Chernabog struggled to pull Adam from its face for a while. When it tried to pull its hand away to help, the swords stuck in it dragged through its inky flesh. Jet black blood sprayed everywhere. Adam kept scrambling around the beast’s face until he was caught and thrown into a tree. Everybody regrouped and kept trying to get and keep Chernabog’s attention. They were not really going for damage. They noticed that Chernabog had quickly healed the heavy damage they had inflicted. This was going to be tough but besides Adam, none of them were really built for combat but they had a bunch of goofballs and flimflam artists. They had energy and could definitely do distracting.


Back at the foot of the mountain, Belle rejoined the fight against Grimhilde and started slinging spells at the witch. Grimhilde was now forced to fend off ice blasts from Elsa and magical energy from Belle. Merida found a spotted and started to fire arrows at Grimhilde. The first arrow actually sank into Grimhilde’s arm. The witch drew from her connection with Chernabog and the arrow vanished. The next time that Merida fired an arrow, Grimhilde was able to teleport out of the way. Merida was undeterred and kept firing. Grimhilde fended off Belle and Elsa’s attacks with dark energy. Aladdin and Aurora started to take turns running in to slash at the witch. Rapunzel used her hair to try and lasso Grimhilde but was unable to catch her. They were definitely pushing Grimhilde to her limits but she was crafty and was still drawing on Chernabog’s power.


Tiana worked feverishly in her makeshift kitchen, preparing ingredients for the potion. She had no time to look up at the mountain or over at her other friends. She was hyper-focused on her cooking. She had to be because she sensed that everything hinged on this potion. She turned to fill up the cauldron with water. She just had to hope that her new friends and her husband could keep it up to defeat the evil. She wiped her brow and leaned against the counter. It was hard work being a hero.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 8

August 27, 2022

The group stepped through the portal one by one. Belle stepped through last and gasped as her eyes focused. Adam reached out to steady her, once more in beast form. She gratefully grabbed his arm to steady herself. Everyone stood stock still, momentarily barely having the nerve to breathe. It was definitely nighttime in this world but it felt artificial. There was no moon to be seen and the sky was awash in eerie waves of blue and green energies. However, that is not what made Belle gasp and paralyzed the group with fear. 

They were surrounded by an army that seemed to be made up of the armies of the other witches. They spotted what looked like citizens of Agrabah, citizens of Atlantica, beasts that must have been from Hawaii, and Maleficent’s creatures. Mixed in were unspeakable monsters of some other origin.  Luckily they were frozen in place, obviously poised for an upcoming attack. Their eyes were closed as if they had fallen asleep while standing up.

After taking a moment, the group all looked at each other and they moved forward, carefully picking their way through the army. Nobody wanted to accidentally brush up against somebody or something that might come to life and attack. There was no way this small group would last again an army of that size. Finally, they reached a large flat area free of the army. Standing in the middle of that was a woman and she was standing in front of an altar. The woman’s body was swirling with green and black energies.

Jasmine stepped forward. “Grimhilde,” she called out. “You will cease your pact with the creature known as Chernabog and you will dismiss your army. If you do this, your life will be spared but you will be imprisoned in your world of origin or in mine if they will not have you. I swear that you will not be harmed if you give up now.”

Grimhilde turned around and smirked. “Is that the deal?” she asked.

“That’s the deal,” Elsa said, stepping up beside Jasmine. 

Aurora also stepped up. “If you don’t take it, we are going to have to put up a fight,” she said. “We put down all of your friends. You don’t want to be next.”

“Friends?” Grimhilde asked and then laughed. “Merely pawns. I’m the one who made the deal with Chernabog. I just needed them to help amass an army and keep you lot busy. I would have liked it if they had succeeded in killing you but I suppose that was asking for too much.”

“It sounds like she’s not taking the deal,” Aurora said.

“Yes, I think I got that impression as well,” Jasmine said. “I tried to be fair. More than fair, I thought.”

“I believe in second chances,” Elsa said. “I’ve benefitted from one myself but I think she’s all out of chances.”

“Fools,” Grimhilde said bitterly. “I’ll deal with you as I dealt with my stepdaughter. I’ll make you watch as I conquer the worlds. I’ll make you watch as I pull the wings from all of the faeries and then I’ll execute all of you slowly and painfully.”

“I don’t think so,” Jasmine said. “We’re going to stop you from summoning Chernabog.”

Grimhilde laughed and it was the ugliest sound any of them had ever heard. “I have already summoned Chernabog. Even now he fully awakens from his long slumber,” she said. 

Grimhilde gestured toward the towering mountain and a jet-black creature larger than any of them had seen started to spread its wings. It glared angrily down at those who would dare oppose its disciple. Everybody instinctually pulled their weapons out.

“We’re doing this,” Jasmine yelled out. Aladdin ran up next to her and the two exchanged a lingering look.

“What’s the plan?” Anna called out.

“I’m going up the mountain to distract that thing,” Jasmine said. “The rest stay here and end the witch. Esmerelda, Anna, Eugene, Tiana, Naveen, and Adam with me.”

“I need Tiana down here, actually,” Belle called out. 

“Fine,” Jasmine said. “Let’s go.” Jasmine’s team went running after her up the mountain without question. There was no time to second guess plans.

Elsa launched the opening salvo, blasting Grimhilde with ice magic. The witch barely conjured fire magic to counter it as Elsa kept pressing her attack. It was clear that Grimhilde was more than up to the challenge.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 7

August 6, 2022

Genie had provided everybody with a feast fit for royalty which made sense as many of them were royalty. They all ate and tried to remain in good spirits with the fight of their lives ahead of them. In the meantime, the fairies had set about building and enchanting armaments for the group. They all assembled before the portal where everything was laid out on a table. Flora floated over to the table and stood resolute.

“Aurora, step forward, my child,” Flora said and Aurora stepped forward. “You have inherited the Sword of Truth and the Shield of Virtue.” Fauna and Merryweather held them out and Aurora gratefully took them. Light swirled around her and new armor formed on her body. It had red, blue, and green accents. She stepped back into line.

“Aladdin, step forward,” Flora said and Alladin stepped forward. “A simple weapon but trusty in its familiarity. She handed him the familiar scimitar which he had been forced to pick up so many times. He hefted it and swung it a bit before stepping back into place.

“Jasmine, step forward,” Flora said and Jasmine stepped forward. “The simplest of weapons but perhaps the most useful.” She handed Jasmine a long wooden staff which reminded Jasmine of that piece of wood she had used once to vault from roof to roof. She returned to stand with Aladdin.

“Esmerelda, step forward,” Flora said and Esmerelda happily made her way forward. “Rather unwieldy weapons but we trust you.” She handed over a pair of chain whips.

“Have you ever seen me twirl ribbons?” Esmerelda asked. “This will be very similar.”

“Merrida, step forward,” Flora said and Merrida stepped forward. “Yours was an easy request and I know it will feel personal to you.” She held up a carefully crafted wooden bow with accents reminiscent of a bear. Merrida gripped her new bow and instantly leather armor formed over her body complete with a quiver of brand new arrows. She stepped back.to stand with the others.

“Flynn Rider, step forward,” Flora said.

“Eugene, actually,” he said as he stepped up. “You know what? It’s fine. The worlds are about to end, call me anything you want.”

“An ax from the Snuggly Duckling,” Flora said. “Swing true.”

“Thanks!” Flynn said and carried the ax away.

“Rapunzel, step forward,” Flora said and Rapunzel stepped forward. “Your request was strange but far be it from us to second guess a champion.” She held up a frying pan that shimmered with power and had the familiar symbol of her flower. Rapunzel took it with a grateful smile.

“I guess that’s not just for cooking,” Tiana said.

“It’s served me well in the past,” Rapunzel said with a shrug.

“Great, I saw it earlier and wanted one for myself,” Tiana said. “I’ve had to deal with unruly customers that way.”

Tiana stepped forward and received a very similar skillet, emblazoned with the symbol of a frog. She smirked and flipped it and caught it again.

“Naveen, step forward,” Flora said and Naveen stepped forward eagerly. “This was the most peculiar request but if it will help, we were happy to try our best.” She handed Naveen a rifle.

“Um, Naveen darling,” Tiana said. “These people don’t know what a gun is. Do you think it’s wise to show them?”

“Desperate times, Tiana,” Naveen said. “I’m sure nothing bad will come of this.”

“I hope you’re right,” Tiana said. She trusted her husband but did she trust the civilizations of the other worlds? That was a problem for later.

“Anna, step forward,” Flora said and Anna proudly stepped forward with her trademark smile. “A sword in the style of your homeland. It is short but foes who underestimate it do so at their peril, just like you Anna.” Anna took hold of the sword with the Arendelle seal on its hilt. She also grabbed a shield similar to the one Mattias used. She got a metal helmet as well.

“I’m fine with my ice powers,” Elsa said. “But thank you for the offer.”

“Similarly, I suppose I can transform and use my claws,” Adam said. “I’ve come to terms with that.” Belle squeezed his hand encouragingly and he squeezed hers back.

“Last but not least, Belle, please step forward,” Flora said. Belle stepped forward.

“I made this one,” Enchantress said.

“You helped,” Godmother said.

Belle picked up a book bound with leather and iron. She looked around at all of the confused faces and she smiled.

“It’s a book of spells,” Belle said. “A book is the most powerful thing in any world.”

Adam smiled and put his arm around Belle. “My clever wife,” he said.

“I suppose we’re ready,” Jasmine said.

The portal opened and it looked different than before. They could not see the other side and there was a sinister purple-black aura coming off of it. The group gathered their courage.

“Let’s go,” Aurora said.

The Harvest

July 30, 2022

The lonely hawk flew along the city walls, zig-zagging as it looked for a good perch. This part of the city was still mostly abandoned after the giant attack. Average citizens had no reason to frequent what were now ruins. Engineers and builders frequented the area but they did not have a large enough workforce to be everywhere. So it was that just like with other unused spaces, criminals moved in to use them. None of the criminals installed anything permanent but the area was perfect for uninterrupted secret meetings.

If the workers and criminals in the area bothered to look up, the hawk would have been fairly unremarkable. Some birds of prey did stray near the city and helped curb the rodent problem, especially in the damaged parts far from the hunting grounds of any feral cats. The part that was rather remarkable was that this hawk had a passenger. A tiny mouse clung to the bird’s neck feathers, managing to stay on even with the crosswinds up that high. The hawk made big swooping circles but finally came in for a landing in the remains of what must have been a wizard’s tower.

The mouse chittered and smoothed its fur before jumping off of the hawk. As it walked away, the mouse slowly transformed into the elven form of Becka. As she attained her normal form, she shivered and shook off the feeling of the magical transformation. She did not look pleased.

“That was weird,” she said. “That was really weird. I’m not sure if I hated it or liked it. My head is still spinning.”

The hawk shimmered and was instantly replaced by the form of the young druid Joshua. The young halfling was smug and gave a half-hearted shrug.

“That’s probably the effect of your intellect dropping to that of a mouse and then going back up,” Joshua said. “Though, in your case, it’s probably not that great of a difference.” He was perched a bit on top of a broken-down bit of wall. They were mostly enclosed in the top of the tower, giving them a bit of privacy.

“Watch your tongue, boy,” Becka said, her eyes narrowing with annoyance and the early rumblings of anger. “You know who and what I am.” She smoothed her cloak and tossed her auburn hair, an arrogant habit she had. She was a little more relaxed, sure that they would probably not be spotted anytime soon.

“Oh I know,” Joshua said with a smile. “The Harvest. The Coming Winter. The Butcher of Khull. I know all of your names and the reputation that comes with them.” 

“So you know that I could kill you in any number of ways,” Becka said. “I killed with a table leg. Ten soldiers with a table leg.” She gripped the hilt of her saber with a somewhat haughty expression.

Joshua nodded. “I’ve heard the stories,” he said. “I also know that you only kill criminals or enemy combatants. I am neither. You hired me to get you across the city.”

Becka’s eyes narrowed again. “Because you picked my pocket,” she said. “Which makes you a criminal. I also thought you would point me towards a shortcut through the sewers.”

“Sewers? Not ideal. You know what goes into the sewers, right?” Joshua asked with a smile. “Learning how to be a fish is kind of weird too. Fish are also somehow more stupid than mice.”

“We don’t have to be fish,” Becka said. “Do you ever just walk anywhere?”

“Ugh, not if I can help it,” Joshua said. “It takes forever. Look how quickly we flew.”

“Not exactly stealthy or safe,” Becka said.

“Look, we could sit around here discussing my methods or you could get on with the killing,” Joshua said.

“You’re not needed here,” Becka said, pulling out her bow to assemble it.”You can go.”

There was a long silence and then Joshua spoke. “Oh, what’s your exit strategy then?” Joshua asks.

Becka barely flinched. It was subtle but Joshua spotted it. “I’ll figure it out,” she said softly.

“Maybe I want to stick around,” Joshua said. “I’ve never seen an assassination before.”

“Suit yourself,” Becka said with a shrug. “If you get in my way, I will take you down.” She pulled out her quiver of arrows.

“Noted,” Joshua said and pulled out an apple to eat.

Poor Unfortunate Souls: Endgame Pt. 6

July 23, 2022

Genie had conjured up a large table for everybody to sit at in the morning. Enchantress was a bit annoyed that Jasmine had sent so many people home already but Godmother had insisted that this was fate and she believed that they had who they needed. Enchantress had retorted that it was hard to believe in fate when their aspects of Chaos and Hope both existed. Jasmine eventually asked Genie to physically separate the two as their bickering escalated. Everybody filtered in and settled into their impromptu council meeting. They did not have an army but there were thirteen people, five fairies, and one genie at the table. It was nothing to sneeze at.

“You disappeared last night, Enchantress,” Belle said. “We let it go since we were so tired but now you will have to explain what you were up to.”

“I am as transparent as a window and open as a book,” Enchantress said. “I took the liberty of taking Yzma to her cell alongside Gothel. I then interrogated both of them.” Enchantress was just as smug as ever and her self-satisfaction unnerved everybody.

“Did you harm them?” Adam asked, folding his arms across his chest. He had let people around him get hurt, physically and emotionally and he was not about to let that happen again. Not without a fight.

“Really?” Enchantress asked. “These two may have been the most incompetent of this little coven but they did try to kill you just like Maleficent and Ursula. You would still show them mercy?” Her tone was playful and Godmother rolled her eyes, knowing the truth almost all at once.

“We don’t want to hurt people,” Tiana said. “If we have hurt people, it was to protect ourselves or stop them from doing something unspeakable.”

“Agreed,” Elsa said. “We do not torture people. I for one am working on being a better person, not sinking to new depths.” She still felt guilty about hurting her sister twice in her life and nearly destroying her own kingdom. She really was trying to do better moving forward.

“Relax,” Enchantress said. “I did not hurt even a hair on their heads. That almost never elicits true information anyway. They also were mostly left in the dark and would not have been able to scream their truth even under extreme duress.”

“Then your interrogation was a waste of time?” Aurora asked. Early on, she had tried to interrogate Ursula’s mind-controlled minions to no effect. Thankfully, Ursula’s death had freed them of their curse.

“I wouldn’t say that,” Enchantress said. “There are magicks one can use to bring a mind to an awareness of things they may have ignored or forgotten previously. Between the two of them, they had the information I needed. All of this was done without harm or any undue invasion of privacy. I know each of your codes of honor.”

“What information is that?” Godmother asked, her eyes narrowing as she asked.

“Why, the location of the final battle, of course,” Enchantress said. “We needed access. Those two were there but did not remember it. I combined their scraps of recollection. I can now open up a portal to the final battleground.”

“Where?” Godmother asked. “Where is it?” If she was asking that, there was no reason for concern for the witches. Godmother would have ended her truce with Enchantress even over the harm of the wicked.

“I could withhold it but as another sign of my loyalty, I will divulge the location,” Enchantress said. She was a born entertainer with an audience of one. Herself. “The final witch and her master are in a place called Bald Mountain.”

“We know witches,” Merida said. “But what manner of creature is this ‘master’?” She had indeed had a lot of experience with witches and distrusted all of this. She wanted to be ready for whatever was next.

“Chernabog is a being of pure dark magic that is linked to vast forces of darkness,” Godmother said. “What you saw with Maleficent and Ursula pale in comparison to the devils that Chernobog can unleash. If it becomes powerful enough to traverse the worlds, it will break reality as we know it.”

“Chernobog has to be linked to a mortal soul,” Enchantress said. “It has latched on to this evil queen, Grimhilde. If you take out Grimhilde, Chernobog will follow.”

“There isn’t another way?” Tiana asked, hesitant to kill anybody. She was a chef, not a killer.

“I’m afraid not,” Godmother said. “It’s too late for Grimhilde.”

“If it makes you feel any better,” Enchantress said. “She was killed once before. This is what she did with her second chance.”

Nobody looked happy about this but there were some nods. Second chances were important but so was the fabric of reality. This was a difficult thing to put on mortal shoulders.

“When do we leave?” Aurora asked.

“That’s the major hitch in the plan,” Enchantress said. “Chernobog knew what a threat fairies and other magical beings could be and banished most of us to this prison or elsewhere. We are barred from Bald Mountain.”

“Does that include me too?” Genie asked. “I’m ready to kick butt and chew bubble gum and I’m all out of bubble gum.”

“Sadly, you too, Genie,” Godmother said. “We will not be able to help.”

“Sorry, buddy,” Genie said to Aladdin.

“It’s ok, Genie,” Aladdin said. “Jasmine and I have beaten the odds before. You taught me that I can do anything if I trust in myself.”

“Aww, Al,” Genie said and hugged Jasmine and Aladdin.

“Then we’re on our own,” Belle said.

“No,” Anna said. “We’re in this together. We’re going to save all of our worlds.”

“We gear up and move out after another meal,” Aurora said. “Consult with Flora if you need weapons and armor. We can end this quick and go home safe and sound.”

Butcherbirds

July 16, 2022

Mouse crept out from behind the crates they had been hiding behind. As the smallest member of the Butcherbirds, the halfling was the perfect lookout. Mouse always had their blanket draped around them. Very few people had actually seen anything but Mouse’s eyes and they had often been disregarded as a pile of rags by most people. This was by design. Mouse crept below the window and looked for signs of life. Nobody was about so Mouse pulled out a whistle and blew on it before flouncing against the wall and acting like detritus. There was a long beat of silence.

Dinah strutted into the alleyway and then reached up and cinched the band of cloth holding her matted hair up and out of her face. She looked up at the window and used her hands to measure things and do some calculations in her head. She checked the gear tucked into the silk tied around her waist. She sighed softly.

“This isn’t a fashion show, D,” Griffin said. “Can we just get on with it?” He crept out of hiding, looking up and down the alleyway with his one good eye. His constant paranoia could be annoying but it did keep them safe. He fidgeted with a dagger, flipping it every few moments. It was his most prized possession. He was the fighter, the scrapper, the leader.

“You’re such a dingus, Giffin,” Dinah said. “This should be at least a little fun, right? If it’s not fun, we should go straight to an orphanage.”

“You’re just a lot, you know?” Griffin said. “Stop being all girly.”

“I’m an artist,” Dinah said. “And things need to be perfect if this bird is going to fly.”

“Whatever,” Griffin said. “Come on, Five. The coast is clear. You didn’t fall asleep again?”

A large mound of trash started to move as Five crawled out of it. His green-gray skin was splattered with dirt and grime from all sorts of things that were best not thought of. He seemed unbothered by the mess decorating him. He grunted.

“Gods, you smell so bad!” Griffin said. “This plan did not hinge on you hiding in garbage. We could have put you in a crate, big guy.”

“I don’t know, I think he might smell better than usual,” Dinah said. “Ready to go Five?”

Five grunted and nodded. He was non-verbal and nobody knew why. They had guessed that it might have something to do with one of his tusks being broken but nobody wanted to press the half-orc on the issue to confirm. Five was the muscle of the team which meant that he was less sneaky than the rest of the Butcherbirds but just as welcome. He had earned their trust and a place in their weird little family. Five had moved under the window and cupped his hands together. Dinah nodded and ran at Five, jumping into his cupped hands so that Five could launch her up toward the window. 

Dinah’s slight half-elven frame made her lighter than most and she shot up and landed gracefully on the windowsill. She braced her legs and pulled out her crowbar and shoved it under the window. She stomped on the crowbar and she heard the window’s lock break. Just like they thought, the place was too old to have good security. She tucked her crowbar away and opened the window slowly. She attached an anchor and dropped a rope below. Griffin climbed up and shut the window. Five and Mouse would shuffle off somewhere in earshot in case they were needed.

“So what do we have here?” Griffin asked. “There had better be something worth it in here.”

“Plenty,” Dinah said. “I mean, there has to be. It’s old.”

A familiar bird landed on a chair nearby and stared at the two child thieves.

“Oh no,” Griffin said. “What are you doing here?”

“Be nice,” Dinah said. “He’s one of us.”

“He keeps going off on his own,” Griffin said. “He keeps screwing things up.”

At that, the bird promptly turned back into a young boy. The problem was that he was still perched on top of the chair and that chair tipped over and dumped the boy face first onto the floor. He instantly sprang back to his feet and tried not to show how much that hurt.

“I do not screw things up,” Kant said. “I might have made a few mistakes but I’m here to help.”

Griffin sighed. “Fine,” he said. “Less magic, more thievery. Don’t touch anything troublesome. We’re only stealing the good stuff.”

“Which means stuff we can eat, use, or sell,” Dinah said.

“Got it,” Kant said. He could not really control his magic too well. It was innate magic that came from his blood. He had been abandoned in the streets as a toddler so he did not remember where that blood had come from. His wild magic often misfired at inappropriate times but he meant well. When his magic worked, it worked well for the Butcherbirds.

The three thieves set about looking for the best things to take with them.


Scary Studies

Horror is fascinating.

The Hidden Message

klaatu barada nikto

Growing a family

Im just trying to evolve

Panorama of the Mountains

Liam Sullivan's Ideas and Reflections

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

wolfenoot.wordpress.com/

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

The Bloggess

Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Damyanti Biswas

For lovers of reading, crime writing, crime fiction

%d bloggers like this: