Posts Tagged ‘Fantasy’

Time Goes By Pt. 3

January 25, 2020

After a few reluctant mouthfuls of breakfast, Mariel looked back up at the twins. Just in their happy, supportive presence, she was starting to feel more like herself. Her confidence and sanity were slowly regenerating and she found herself even smiling a bit.

“I truly am sorry that to interrupt your vacations,” Mariel said. “Where did the two of you go? Back home?”

“I went back to my order,” Dimitri said. “It was good to see some old friends and Mistress Callen.”

Mariel looked confused. “You didn’t go together?” she asked. The twins had been inseparable for much of their lives so any separation was curious. Perhaps both of them had gained more faith in Dina’s ability to control her curse.

“We didn’t,” Dina said, tearing a sausage in half with her teeth. “Fern and I went camping in Thorncatch forest.”

Mariel smiled. “You and Fern?” she asked. “Really?”

“Yes,” Dina said with a smile. “We finally decided to give it a shot.”

“It’s about time,” Mariel said. “It feels like the two of you first kissed ages ago. Did you enjoy yourselves?” Mariel was suddenly overjoyed. The young druid and werewolf had been making eyes at each other since they had met and Mariel had hoped something would spark. She had remained neutral but she had hoped desperately. She was also impressed that Dimitri had not stood in their way.

Dina nodded. “You know that Fern is hard to read but I think we both had a really good time,” she said. “It’s really nice to just get lost for a while, you know?”

Mariel blushed slightly and nodded. “I think I catch your meaning,” she said. “Would you two mind if I went back upstairs to clean myself up before everybody else arrives?”

Dimitri nodded. “I think we can hold down the fort until you feel that you’re ready,” he said.

“I never put much stock in being clean,” Dina said. “But do what makes you happy.”

Mariel almost laughed. “Thank you,” she said. “I’ll be right back down.” She stood up and put a few silver on the table before the twins could try to pay for her. She still had her dignity. She hurried up the steps. She had not expected her friends to arrive so soon but she was so grateful for the support. The six of them had been through a lot together and it felt good to have them at her back again. Especially at a time where she had completely lost her footing.

She came back downstairs later after bathing and reapplying her makeup. She had her bag full of magical tools and weapons at the ready, attached to her waist with a sash belt. Just making the change made her feel ready for action again. There was still a tension running through her but she felt less wobbly. She would confront this head-on with her friends like they had confronted so many monsters and villains. She had turned a demon to stone, she could do this. She could hold it together.

When she arrived at the bottom of the stairs, the twins were nowhere in sight but her eyes were drawn to the source of whoever was playing a hurdy gurdy near the fire. It was Asher Woodhome, of course. Asher was a world-famous traveling bard who had somehow stumbled into fame by accident. He was more focused on making and understanding music and its power. He was also the only other member of their party who was as fashion-forward and put together as Mariel. Most who met him thought he was self-centered but he was actually just distracted and overly thoughtful.

Sitting on the floor and meditating near Asher was Luther Stonestill. The old dwarf had left home at a young age and, according to him, had led a brutal and self-centered period in his life. He had joined a monastery to atone and had become a centered yet passionate monk whose whole body was a weapon. And yet, he just as often used his words to diffuse tense situations. He was slow to violence but quick to end violence when it began. He had become the de facto leader of their group and it was he who had called everyone together once again. She was glad to see him.

Mariel sat in a chair across from Asher and next to Luther. Asher stopped playing with a smile and a nod. Luther spoke without opening his eyes.

“Are you ready to investigate?” Luther asked, absolutely calm.

“I am,” Mariel said. “Shall we?”

“I thought you’d never ask,” Asher said, slinging his instrument over his back.

“The children are all outside,” Luther said.

“Let’s go gather them then,” Mariel said. “One way or another, we are figuring this out.”

Time Goes By Pt. 2

January 18, 2020

Mariel spent the following night in a fitful half-sleep, tossing and turning and getting up to pace and drink now and again. She knew it was not healthy but she was also not really in her right mind and wanted to be unconscious. She eventually did pass out in those achingly quiet hours before the dawn. Her mind had still been racing with possibilities but it had just shut down as she blacked out. Her dreams were full of faded scraps of memories of her parents. She woke back up in the late morning and everything was too loud and too bright even though the curtains were drawn.

She stumbled out of bed and nearly fell down, her legs wobbling and her head spinning. She had no idea if she was still drunk or it was sleep deprivation. It may have been both. She managed to keep standing and moved to her dresser where she drank directly from a pitcher of water. She rummaged in the dresser for something to wear. She got dressed in the streaks of morning light streaking from the edges of the closed curtains. She ran fingers through those crimson red locks and then slipped on the pair of flats that she usually only reserved for dungeons and battlefields. She was too unsteady for heels.

She stepped out into the hallway and headed for the stairs. She knew she had to at least attempt to eat something. As she descended the stairs, she heard the familiar chatter of the taproom, something she had gotten used to the world over. She put on a brave face, trying to make her expression pleasant but unreadable. She concentrated on changing her gait into more of a glide to cover up her nerves. As she reached the bottom of the stairs, she saw that two of the raucous voices she was hearing belonged to her friends.

Sitting at a table with sizable breakfasts were the twins Dina and Dimitri Briarhaven. They were collectively known as The Beast and The Blade. The two had been separated at a very young age. The more reserved Dimitri had gone on to take vows as a paladin of Lathander. Dina had been inadvertently saved from kidnappers by a pack of werewolves. In the attack, she had become a werewolf herself and barely escaped into the wilderness. It was many years later when the twins had been reunited. Dimitri used the powers he gained from his faith to help control his sister’s inner beast and she, in turn, had helped him loosen up. They became a great team together.

The two suddenly turned almost in unison to look at Mariel. She saw a brief hesitation in their eyes that showed concern before they smiled again. She realized at that moment that she had not only forgotten to put on her makeup that morning, she had also forgotten to take it off the night before. It was obviously no great sin but it was not like Mariel at all. Even in the midst of battle, she was put together.

“Quite a posh place you’ve found, Mariel,” Dina said with a wicked smile.

“She’s always held that particular skill,” Dimitri said. “Can we interest you in some breakfast?”

“I suppose I should,” Mariel said. “It’s honestly been a rough morning so far.”

Dina stood to give her a hug and Dimitri stood to take her hand and help her into a chair.

“We have fruit, cheese, and bread for you,” Dimitri said. “We can take things slowly.”

Mariel nodded and started to use a fork to put food in her mouth. She chewed mechanically and swallowed without really tasting anything. The twins tried not to stare at her.

“I’m sorry for interrupting your vacation,” Mariel said. “I didn’t mean to.”

Dina waved her hand as if she was blowing the words out of the air like smoke. “I was getting bored anyway,” she said.

Dimitri shrugged. “When Luther contacted us, he gave us a choice,” he said. “We chose to come. This is important and beside that, it seems like this is an interesting turn of events.”

Mariel nodded. “To say the least,” she said. “Everybody didn’t come did they?”

“Luther and Asher haven’t arrived yet,” Dina said. “Fern is outside.”

“Outside?” Mariel asked and looked concerned. “What is she doing outside?”

“Hanging out?” Dina said with a shrug, shoving a sausage into her mouth.

“She has too many ‘passengers’ and she’s filthier than usual,” Dimitri said.

“Oh,” Mariel said and went back to eating. Fern was a druid the team had found in a cave and she was much more used to the outdoors. She often had rats, insects, and snakes crawling in and out of her robes and often had enough dirt caked on her skin to actually grow plants out of. She was both touched and guilty that her friends were all arriving. She had not meant to ruin their good time but she was grateful to have the support. This mystery could mean nothing but could it could be the most important thing to ever happen.

Time Goes By

January 11, 2020

Mariel was walking down the streets of Carrena, every few steps she spun her parasol on her shoulder. It was a sunny day and she had a new dress and she was on vacation from adventuring. The rest of the team had scattered to the winds so Mariel was on her own. A lot of them had gone back to visit their families and touch base with their lives outside of fighting monsters and gathering treasure. Mariel had no family anymore. She was the tragic backstory type of adventurer. Her parents were magical researchers but had meddled with something wrong and they had detonated the tower they had lived in. Mariel had been flung across town and it was a miracle that she had survived at such a young age. One of her pointy ears had been singed off permanently which led to a lifetime of artfully arranged long hair.

Fifty years had passed quickly since they were just a blink of an eye for a young elf. Still, she could barely remember her parents’ faces and it had been a long time since she had been anywhere remotely near her home in the Bremid Empire. She had chosen instead to visit Carrena. She had grown up far from cities in her small town and she had gotten a taste for city life and especially city fashion while on adventures with her new family. They had been in Carrena the previous year battling a death cult down in the sewers. Not the best memories but when they had emerged from the blood and fouled water, the colors in the city had been so bright. They had hit several pubs in the city and had caroused for two straight nights on the King’s coin.

She had bought a new dress the morning they had left and she promised herself that she would return. Now she had paid for a week at the Deer’s Head and she was just having fun shopping and exploring the city. There were no dangers to confront and she was enjoying having some time to herself. She had spent her day reading a romance story by the famous Fountains of Umberlee’s Daughters. It had been so relaxing but now she was starting to get hungry again and there were no more snacks in her bag of colding. She also thought she could do with a glass or two of black wine. She was looking forward to the warmth of a good fire and a luxurious silk sleeping gown.

That’s when she saw it. It was a teddy bear lying in the gutter, leaned up against the curb like he had just been taking a little rest. He had certainly seen better days. He was tattered and burned as if the bear had been set on fire, flung against a wall, and then fallen into a bucket of water and stayed there for a while. The thing was, Mariel knew the poor gentleman’s name and she found herself whispering it.

“Mullo,” she muttered and a shiver ran up her spine.

She took her parasol off of her shoulder and held in front of her. She whispered a few words and she felt magic surge into the parasol. She looked through the thin silk which was her version of the Detect Magic spell. Through the veil of her parasol, the bear was lit up like a bonfire. The thing was radiating vast amounts of magic. The magic looked different from anything she had ever seen before. Every so often it would distort and then flicker as if it was not fully there. She reached into her bag and pulled out a pair of gloves and picked the bear up. Without a doubt it was Mullo. How had he gotten clear across the world? Was it the magic from that night?

She had not remembered when she had started walking again. She had not remembered when she had started crying. She had put the parasol away in her bag but she was still clutching Mullo. She walked through the taproom of The Wolf Moon and up to her room. She set Mullo down on the dresser and reached into the top drawer for her sending stone.
She didn’t think, she just poured her will into it and called out two countries over and deep under the earth.

“Luther,” she called out in her mind. “I’m sorry, I don’t want to interrupt.”

“Mariel?” Luther’s voice sounded in her head. “It’s no bother. You sound distressed.”

“I found Mullo,” she said, trying to slow her breathing.

“Who’s Mullo?” Luther asked. The dwarf sounded understandably confused.

“My childhood teddy bear,” Mariel said. “Magic brought him here. Maybe…”

“Maybe you could find them?” Luther asked. The question was patronizing or mocking but filled with the cautious hope that Mariel had not yet allowed herself.

“Maybe,” Mariel said. “What do I do?”

“Stay put,” Luther said. “Find out what you can while I assemble the team. We’ll be there soon.”

“I don’t want to interrupt their vacation,” Mariel said.

“This is important to you,” Luther said. “We’re a family. It’s important to us too. You’ll see.”

“Thank you, Luther,” Mariel said softly.

“No problem,” he said. “See you soon.”

Night Sparrow

December 30, 2019

She had been born Sierra Swiftwatch but she had shed that name when she was still a scrawny teenager. She had been awkward when she had been thrown out on the streets. She had been taken in by Holdo the Blind. The world knew Holdo to be a blind beggar priest but in reality, he was a legendary thief in charge of a secret band of criminals. His alter ego was the Typhoon, and when he swept in, everything was gone. Sierra went through Holdo’s brutal training and came out the other side transformed. She became the Night Sparrow, a minor goddess of pickpockets and cat burglars. She left her tag behind wherever she went but they still could not stop her.

It was a gloriously bright Grand Festival day in Corallen in the proud nation of Alscines and the Night Sparrow was smiling. Her daytime garb changed every day because she never wanted to be recognized. She wore a different wig in a different style every day and never wore the same outfit in a twenty-day period. She even tucked her ears away to look more human. Although, she had posed as a half-orc a couple of times. She was extremely careful as anonymity was one of her greatest attributes. She had looked into getting some sort of enchantment to change the color of her eyes but no go so far.

She found herself on that sunny day flitting through the crowd and cutting purses and picking pockets like it was nothing. She was a little bored. The guards were completely clueless and every so often she would hear a surprised noise as people realized they were suddenly broke. She chuckled to herself as she was dressed very posh in an upper-class outfit. Nobody would ever suspect it was she who was the shark amongst all of the little fishes. She could have murdered any one of them but it was not in her code to kill anybody. She was ready to inflict a few cuts or a knockout blow if it was ever necessary but she was definitely not ready to kill.

Well, she had killed Holdo but he had pushed her too far. He had been a cruel master and she eventually needed to cut herself loose. Holdo had objected and had tried to push their relationship deeper so she had pushed the dagger deep. Even though she knew it had been necessary, it had given her nightmares for months. In the light, she had felt fine but when shadows crept, she saw blood on her hands and his empty eyes. She had been haunted. She did not want that ever again. She shuddered.

She reached out for another money pouch but she felt a hand clamp down on her wrist. She blinked. This had not happened since her training, in older days Holdo would have beaten her for this. She had been thinking about him and she had gotten distracted. Damn her eyes she had gotten sloppy. She kept her eyes low and blushed and then she looked up at the owner of the hand. She saw a grim-looking man with a long beard in the process of going gray. His eyes literally flashed blue and she gasped. Fuck! It was a magic-user. It had to be a magic-user.

“Can I help you, miss?” He asked and then smirked, an eyebrow raising.

“Um,” the Night Sparrow mumbled. “My mistake.” She hit the man’s wrist with her knuckles and he released her as he cried out in pain. She sprinted toward the closest alley. She would disappear in a moment and burn this outfit so she would never be compromised. This could be salvaged. Everything could always be salvaged.

Her feet flew from underneath her and she hit the pavement hard, her cheek planted in the puddle of grease. Was it magic or just bad luck? She tried to scramble to her feet but she had a lot of difficulties. The grease was absolutely horrible and it was everywhere. She managed to push off of the wall but when she looked up the magic-user was there again. He did not look mad, though. He looked amused, he offered her his hand.

“Well, miss,” he said. “I wasn’t sure before but now I am. You’re exactly what I need.”

The Sparrow blinked. “What?” she asked. “What are you talking about?”

“Let’s get you cleaned up and then I’ll get you a drink,” the man said. “Then I have a job offer.”

Lessons

December 28, 2019

It had been a roller coaster for Carly Weatherby in the past decade. Like many young wizards and witches, she had attended Hogwarts, excited about following an old family tradition. She learned a lot about herself at Hogwarts. She was sorted as a Ravenclaw and learned that she loved to learn and moreover she loved to teach. She happily tutored a lot of her fellow students and looked forward to maybe having a career in teaching. She wanted to help students explore new horizons in their lives and into their future. It was something that just instantly clicked in her just the same as memorizing spells and learning new charms and potions. She made a lot of friends and, bit by bit she was able to learn to set aside studying to have a little fun with her friends. She was never the stuffy academic but was able to remain wide-eyed and excited about new things.

There was just one problem. It was not a problem for Carly but it ended up being a problem for Hogwarts. The school had often been seen as a little more conservative than Ilvemorny or Beauxbatons but less conservative than somewhere like Durmstrang (of course). A lot of old families clung desperately to tradition. Carly had actually been named Joseph when she was born. In between years six and seven, Carly came out as transgender which her parents and family were very accepting of. They supported her decision to undergo a transformation spell that physically turned Joe to Carly in order to match her inner self. The spell itself was physically painless but it ended up resulting in emotional scars. While her friends were supportive, other students and the staff could be cruel.

Officially, the school kept referring to her by her dead name and they refused to move her to the girl’s dormitory. She was constantly getting chased out of the girl’s bathrooms. She was misgendered in classes and some people at Hogwarts just could not wrap their heads around the simple change. Carly was still the same person she had always been, she was just now living her completely true life as well. Students stopped wanting to be tutored. Carly’s grades suffered and the school graduated her because they probably wanted her out. That was the year of Dumbledore’s sabbatical but Professor McGonagall had been comforting and supportive. It did not spill over into the school’s board of governors and Carly was ostracized.

Carly had applied for teaching positions throughout the wizarding world, not feeling ready for her dream job of teaching at one of the great wizarding schools. She was flatly turned down because her reputation preceded her. Nobody wanted their kids to be exposed to Carly’s innocent true nature which they saw as wicked and unnatural. Carly became cynical and frustrated over the whole thing and began to fade into obscurity. She delved into research instead of teaching and started to show up on many radars. She was hired by a small collective in northern Africa that was doing good work researching weather magic. Carly eventually became an expert in lightning and storm magic. She invented a way to store lightning for use as magical power. She and a colleague were even able to provide small bursts of magic to squibs.

It was during this time that she met and fell in love with a young vampire named Sura, a lovely woman native to Sudan. The two bonded over their rejection from society and their mutual love of learning and knowledge. They made a home together in the shadows. While Carly made a sort of name for herself in weather magic research, she slipped through the cracks of academia at large. Her first true love of teaching was almost a distant memory, a dark frustration that reminded her that she would never be truly accepted by the wizarding world. She and Sura did their best to be happy but Carly knew something was missing and Sura knew that it had wounded Carly.

Then the second great Wizarding War happened and Carly waited with anxiety for the results of the Battle of Hogwarts. Sure, there had been plenty of bad memories at the end of her stay there but there had been plenty of good ones before then. Even though she knew they had done her wrong, she did not and could not wish death or injury on any of them. Her favorite teacher Professor Mcgonagall was still there and Carly feared the worst. She knew that everywhere people were fighting the Deatheaters which were the most visible symptom of the hate and prejudice that Carly had experienced. She had a twinkling of hope that the exploits of the great Order of the Phoenix might banish some of that hate and bring some light back into the world.

She was not disappointed. Many things changed in England after the Battle of Hogwarts. There was a concerted effort to change hate into love everywhere people looked. People found it a bit harder to listen to darkness after the King of Darkness had been defeated. The joy of victory spread from Hogwarts and the world began to change bit by bit. The bigots were expelled from the Ministry and the tide turned against them. People’s minds started to open bit by bit thanks to young luminaries such as Luna Lovegood speaking up about the right to be different. Best of all, Professor McGonagall became the new headmaster of Hogwarts and the first female headmaster. McGonagall reached out specifically to Carly and asked her to take her pick of subjects to teach. Carly hesitated only as long as it took Sura to convince her to take the position.

Carly moved back to a much more enlightened Hogwarts and brought Sura with her. While students were curious about the new transgender professor with the vampire girlfriend (soon to be wife) but they were kind and respectful. They were even supportive. Sura happily agreed to work in a staff position when Carly vouched for her. Carly felt herself healing deep inside a wound she had barely acknowledged but had darkened her heart. She felt love and light shining all around her as a new day dawned for the wizarding world. A much kinder, more inclusive world to be sure.

Mindcrash Pt. 2

December 14, 2019

May arrived at the crime scene and luckily somebody had erected a barrier around the body. That was good as a crowd of pale people in dark clothes had gathered around with curious and cautious eyes. It had probably been one of the AI servitors who operated as officers in the Lost Land. They usually laid dormant until moments like these. The barrier was bright white and eight feet tall and made of energy. May flashed her badge at the barrier and it rippled and pulsed and allowed her to step through. It felt a little claustrophobic inside the barrier but at least the crowd could not see inside. There were only two other people present inside the barrier.

Dylan was standing and looking down at the body. He was really tall so May had to look up which was kind of annoying. He nodded at her and she nodded back. Cirra was crouched over the remains like a pale spider. May recognized her as one of Vampire Town’s local Learned. She had probably been closest when the call went out. It looked like Cirra had just finished coaxing what energy was left of the body’s energy into a container.

“What do we got?” May asked. She crouched close to the container and peered at it until Cirra gave her a scathing look which caused May to stand back up.

“From what I can tell,” Cirra said. “A male. Energy signature matches an Akemi Nakamura.” Her voice was monotone and kind of sounded disinterested although May knew from experience that it was just how she sounded. She loved doing her job even when it was this morbid.

“What killed him?” May asked. “Was it a Fracture?” The Fractures were the distorted remnants of those who had been lost in the server failures on Christmas Day. The files of their mind had been corrupted and twisted. They operated much like ghosts but their energies could be unpredictable and harmful. Most people were scared of them but some found them fascinating. May thought they were sad and wished there was some way to help them.

“It was not a Fracture,” Dylan said. “Scans prove there has been no Fracture activity in this sector for a while. The only ones remotely near here were on the other side of town.”

“Good work, Dylan,” May said. “So what is the cause of death?” Dylan was a go-getter and had obviously been able to get out of bed a little earlier. May felt a little embarrassed that she was lost to the party but she could play catch up with the best of them.

Cirra sighed. “It’s a little early to tell,” she said. “I will have to run any data I find to create a simulation. It was violent, though. I can tell you that it was most likely not natural causes.”

May raised an eyebrow. “Do we even have natural causes in here?” she asked.

Cirra shrugged. “Maybe,” she said. “We don’t know enough yet. It’s actually my personal research project.” The Learned were highly intelligent and creative citizens of the Lost Lands who chose to study the Lost’s unique human condition. They were the doctors, the scientists, and, in this case, a crime scene investigator.

“Interesting,” May said. “Not exactly useful here but I’d be interested in hearing any results.”

“I think most people would be,” Cirra said. “That’s why I picked it.”

“Is there enough to reboot?” Dylan asked, interrupting. “Seems a shame to see a guy go like this.”

“I think so,” Cirra said. “There is significant data left over but I am not sure what will come out of it.” She looked hopefully and thoughtfully at the container.

“And whatever is rebooted from Mr. Nakamura will have no memory of the crime,” May said. “We need to know who he was.”

“Nakamura had designated himself a citizen of Gamezone,” Dylan said without looking at the container. “He was a top scorer.” Gamezone was the part of the Lost Lands dedicated to video games and gamer culture. It could be a pretty wild and violent place.

“What was a gamer doing all the way over here?” May asked. “It’s not the most inviting area.”

“People have different interests,” Cirra said indignantly. “I could go over to Gamezone.”

May gave her a sidelong glance. “Do you go over to Gamezone?” she asked.

“I said I could,” Cirra said. “if I wanted to. I probably won’t want to.”

“Uh huh,” May said. “Fair enough. Anything to add here Dylan?”

“Not really,” Dylan said. “We should probably head over to Gamezone to check out Nakamura’s friends.”

“Of course,” May said. “but we should also question any witnesses around here and drop a note with the head of Vampire Town as a courtesy.”

“Sounds like a plan,” Dylan said with a nod.

“Back to the lab for me,” Cirra said. “I’ll let you know when I know anything else.”

Pantheon Addendum

November 23, 2019

The following are more minor deities of the realms.   These are mostly neutral parties that did not take sides in the conflict that broke the world.

Ogun, God of the Forge

Ogun was a lonely and solitary god, who did not speak to most of the other gods. The only exception was his rare talks with Ioun and her entourage as they engaged Ogun’s intellect. He used them to inspire new ideas. He was mostly preoccupied with his creations. He loved to create, spending every day at the forge to create for the sake of creating. However, when the other gods learned of him, they sought him out. They tasked him with creating magical weapons and tools for them. He decided to take neither side and created many magical items for the various deities and their followers. He also discovered the secret of making sentient weapons and items, a skill that has rarely been replicated. He used a lot of the same techniques to give birth to living constructs. Many of them guarded his forge against both sides and assisted their master at the forge. He is not a very skillful fighter and he lost his arms and face while guarding his forge in the final conflict. He was able to construct new arms, even better-suited for his tasks. He replaced his face with a mask of metal and stone. After the Final Conflict, he was locked deep under the world at its very center. He was content to build and destroy his own creations and never see the world again. Ogun’s worshippers are makers, happy to get their hands dirty in order to make things nobody has ever seen before.

Nami, The Iron Maiden

Nami was Ogun’s greatest creation, a perfect living construct that he meticulously created over years of careful creation. Left to her own devices (as all constructs were) she made the choice on her own to assist Ogun with his projects. She quickly proved herself to be the most capable of his assistants and in return, he infused her with greater god energy, a spark from his own being. She became the mother of all constructs, from that date onward having a hand in the creation of every construct created. She became a true love and companion of Ogun after spending a few years on her own, as suggested by Ogun to make sure that she was not merely subservient to his will. She eventually had a few of her own projects. She organized the defense in the final conflict and she was the one who personally crafted the replacement parts of her true love. She gladly went into exile with Ogun after the conflict so that they could both create together. Nami’s worshippers often crossover with Ogun’s. If the world’s remaining constructs could talk, they might reveal that they worship Nami.

Esho, the Goddess of Time

Nobody is quite sure how she does it but Esho maintains the flow of time and keeps it moving forward. An enigmatic figure, she was rarely ever seen by the other gods and never by mortals. Still, scraps of her story have filtered down through the years. She was most likely the first deity to form into being and was alone in the void before creation. She is self-sufficient, a total loner who never needed any companionship. She did not take part in the Final Conflict as she needed to be completely focused on her job. She also had no attachments to the others and did not want to take sides anyway. After the conflict, she disappeared and nobody could ever find her. She passed beyond the planes but still obviously maintains the flow of time. She has a few odd worshippers but she pays them no mind. She gets annoyed when magic users cast time-based spells like Slow or Haste.

Fear

A truly sadistic force of nature, Fear never took a proper name and never allied itself with any of the other gods. A true shapechanger, nobody knows what Fear’s base form is. Fear delighted in invoking its namesake in all mortal beings, keeping them all beneath its heel. It absorbed the world’s fears and grew very powerful. Before the Final Conflict, the good gods banished Fear to the Dream Realm where it bides its time creating nightmares. Any worshippers are absolutely insane.

Uzas, the Goddess of Trickery

The Goddess of Trickery is a more innocent version of the Cyric (Corruption) and a more stable version of Akanay (Chaos). She is also the twin sister of Laverna (Luck). She is the patron of those who rejects society’s rules and often society itself. She believes that the world is more interesting if you sew a little confusion and surprise to spice things up. Uzas enjoys playing pranks on people and drawing a reaction from the world around her and therefore prizes those individuals who feel the same. She also prizes individuality. During the Final Battle, she fled in fear along with her sister (although Laverna came back) and she regretted it. Nobody is quite sure where she went after the conflict but there are reports of pranks being played in the various heavens.

Lady of Pain

The mysterious Lady who presides over the equally mysterious City of Sigil. Nobody is quite sure what the Lady looks like as most look down or away when they sense her approach. She is surrounded by chains and strips of cloth that seem to have a mind of their own and swirl around her, hiding her from view. Also, people can kind of feel when she is around. Nobody is quite sure what she is or where she came from either. What little that is known about her or her wishes are communicated by six lieutenants that see to the day to day operation of Sigil. She is not a deity, or at least she does not wish to be worshipped as one. Anybody heard worshipping her is usually gruesomely murdered by the Lady herself. She is known to defend Sigil from any major threat. In fact, there is a rumor that the Lady easily defeated and vivisected a Tarrasque sent to dominate Sigil. It is best to just avoid the Lady when possible, get in and out of Sigil quickly, and make sure you follow her rules.

In Fear of Sundown Pt. 4

November 16, 2019

“A Goddess of Light?!” Westcott asked. “But there is no God but Leotas.” This was well known and spread by the churches in Sunwood before Deputy Westcott was born. Leotas was a kind and simple god, preaching love and understanding.

“There is no such god,” the right Sister said. “Leotas is a lie meant to keep the world passive.”

“The lie of Leotas keeps your kind from the truth,” the left Sister said. “the truth that the true gods went away a long time ago.”

“Went away?” Afa asked. “Maybe you should expand on that. We’re completely in the dark here. Let’s have us some storytime and explain some things. Please.”

The two sisters looked at each other and then nodded. The left Sister spoke up. “In the dark, indeed, Afa. The world slept in darkness until the gods arose. Seven shining gods who brought life, shape, and happiness to the world. Genii, the goddess of light. Callebus, the god of knowledge. Ori, the goddess of nature. Cherbus, the god of fortune. Honus, the goddess of magic. Clairen, the goddess of life. Nepta, the goddess of justice. The seven championed the people and fostered civilization. Life was good.”

The right Sister took her turn. “But all was not completely bright and good. There were also evil gods who were bent on the destruction and domination of mankind. They appeared uncalled for and wreaked havoc on the world. Luckily, these gods did not know how to work together. They worked at cross-purposes but their chaotic efforts brought the world to the brink of oblivion on many occasions. Finally, the seven had to do something drastic to end it. They sacrificed themselves, fully intending to remove themselves from the world along with their adversaries. They only succeeded in putting all gods to a deep sleep.”

“So what about Leotas?” Westcott asked.

“Leotas is a manifestation of the energies from the sleeping Oulas, Lord of Lies,” the left Sister said.

“His energies created a mass delusion,” the right Sister said.

“Shit. What does all of that have to do with us?” Westcott asked. He was a lawman in a small town. This was way over his head.

“They are all waking up,” the left Sister said. “the first was Meggron, goddess of darkness.”

“She is responsible for the deaths and disappearances in both of your homes,” the right Sister said. “They are assembling in the darkness.”

“Who is assembling?” Afa asked. She was so close to solving the mystery she had been trying to solve for a long time.

“The children of Meggron,” both Sisters intoned together. “She is turning the people against their own kind. They must be stopped.”

“So some of those people who disappeared are still alive?” Westcott asked.

“Well,” the left Sister said. “They are alive but they are no longer human. They must be eradicated. Think of them as insects if it helps.”

“If they were responsible for the deaths of my friends and family, they are as good as dead,” Afa said. She had revenge in her heart and she was close to solving the mystery she had traveled across the world to solve.

“On that, we agree,” Westcott said. “I can’t abide killers out there somewhere.”

“Then I suppose you have accepted your mission,” the right Sister said.

“We will help you,” the left Sister said.

“How are you going to help us?” Afa asked.

“I’ve rarely seen you out in the town,” Westcott said. “You’re gonna come with us and hunt these things down?”

“No no,” the right Sister said. “We cannot leave this place for long. We have made something for you to locate the aberrations.”

“Made something?” Afa asked. “What did you make?”

The right Sister walked over to a curtain that Westcott and Afa swore had not been there before. She pulled it down and a very young girl was standing there. The girl waved awkwardly but otherwise did not move.

“We have made you a tool to track the aberrations,” the left Sister said.

“You made us a little girl?” Afa asked. She looked at Westcott in shock. “What is going on?”

“You made her?” Westcott asked. “I think somebody ought to explain the birds and the bees to you.”

“This is not a human girl,” the right Sister said. “This is a tool for locating children of the evil gods. It is infused with the energies of the seven.” The Sisters faces were covered but both somehow looked pleased with themselves.

“Uh, thanks?” Afa said. “I guess we’ll use her the best we can.”

“Does she have a name?” Westcott asked.

“Why would we name it?” the Sisters asked simultaneously. They cocked their heads in unison as a sign of confusion.

“Come on, then,” Westcott said. “Let’s go a hunting.”

“We’ll call you Isa,” Afa said. “Hello, Isa.”

Isa smiled and waved but said nothing.

In Fear of Sundown Pt. 3

November 9, 2019

Deputy Westcott paused in the doorway, immediately put on guard by the large open room. Afa blew right past him and entered the huge hall. She spun around in a circle in the cavernous space, trying to take it all in. Westcott had drawn his gun, clearly spooked, and tried to search the shadows around them. Afa obviously seemed way more excited than scared. There was a damp chill to the air that clashed with the dry desert heat of Sunwood just outside the door.

“How is this place so big?” Afa asked, making plenty of noise. “This is crazy!”

“I have no earthly idea,” Westcott said. “I’ve never been inside of here before. It ain’t natural. Maybe it’s a good idea to keep it down?”

“Maybe I’m trying to wake the so-called Sisters, Deputy,” Afa said with a smile and a wink. “Did you think of that?”

“That’s sort of what I’m worried about,” Westcott said. “The Sisters are spooky.”

“Only because you fear what you do not understand, Westcott!” A voice rang out through the castle. It was loud enough to send vibrations through the bodies of Westcott and Afa.

Westcott did not see Afa move but suddenly she had both of her revolvers in her hands, slowly turning in a circle to look for the source of the voice. Westcott stepped into the room to join her, looking around for what had to be the Sisters. However, they sounded stronger somehow, more ethereal. The front door slammed shut and Westcott flinched. Afa only glanced at the door.

“Also, we do not sleep, young Afa,” Another voice said. “No need to wake us up.” The voices seemed to come from all around with no apparent source.

“Neat trick!” Afa yelled. “We just want to talk.”

“How ’bout you show yourself!” Westcott yelled.

“You both bear the mark of Gennii,” one voice said. “This is wise. We were worried your kind would reject it.”

“Come into our chambers,” the other voice said. “We would speak with you although you have violated our threshold.”

“Uh,” Afa intoned as she looked back at the door they had kicked in. “Sorry about that.”

“There are more important things at play, young Afa,” the other voice said. “We must talk.”

A small mote of light rose up from the floor and started to swirl around almost playfully like a moth. After floating around for a moment, it headed down a hallway.

“I reckon we’re supposed to follow,” Westcott said. He and Afa shared a look and then started walking after the light.

“I just wish they would stop calling me ‘young Afa’,” Afa said. “They didn’t call you ‘Old Westcott’.”

“Easy now,” Westcott said. “Words are hurtful.”

The two of them stepped into another chamber, this one draped in deep red velvet. Neither Afa nor Westcott could detect where the flickering lights were coming from. The door shut behind them again. They both turned toward the sound and when they turned back and the Sisters were standing there. Westcott had seen them before and they had been hunched-over, old crones. Now, they stood straighter and they were wearing odd porcelain masks but somehow Westcott still knew it was them. Afa and Westcott moved to point their guns again but the Sisters held up their hands, fingers spread wide and impossibly long. The skin was as pale as the porcelain. More motes of light swirled behind and around the Sisters as they stood calmly, imperiously.

“You do not need any weapons,” the left Sister said. “Calm yourself.”

“You will come to no harm in this realm,” the right Sister said. “You are safe. For now.”

“This realm?” Afa asked.

“What in the Hell does that mean?” Westcott said.

“We are no longer on your plane of existence,” the right Sister said. “You have ascended to a world beyond yours.”

“Time is limited,” the left Sister said. “You cannot last long here. Not safely.”

“Thought you said we were safe,” Westcott said but Afa shook her head and waved away the question. Westcott looked annoyed but stood by. None of this sat right.

“You said Gennii earlier?” she asked. She exposed her tattoo to the Sisters. “What does this symbol mean?”

“The symbol of Gennii,” the Sisters said in unison.

“It protects against those who creep in darkness,” the left Sister said.

“We introduced it to your village,” the right Sister said, pointing at Westcott. “And yet you are from far away but still bear the mark.”

“Yeah,” Afa said. “My people found it in a cave. We kind of lucked out.”

The Sisters looked at each other and then back at Afa. “There may still be hope,” the left Sister said. “The signs and symbols are still out there. They may yet be awakened.”

“What are you talking about?” Westcott asked. “Where did you get this protection symbol from?”

“Protection symbol?” the right Sister asked. “No, it is a symbol of the Goddess of Light. If the symbol worked, it means she is starting to wake up.”

In Fear of Sundown Pt. 2

September 28, 2019

The Mayor, Deputy Wescott, and Ben Hoscut reconvened with the stranger in the back of the Sheriff’s old office. Word of the woman’s claims was already spreading through the town like wildfire. They shut the door on the townspeople but the damage had already been done. An exotic stranger had walked into a desert town and declared herself as the sheriff. Mayor Brown was especially irritated. In contrast, the stranger was completely calm but she had covered the tattoo up again. She moved with a lazy sort of swagger. She did not seem to notice that people noticed her. She glided along with a determined yet aloof manner. She stuck out like a sore thumb in the more reserved town of Sunwood.

“Who in the Hell are you?” Mayor Brown asked. “While we’re at it, how did you get our symbol?”

“Now be nice, Mayor,” Ben Hoscut said. “I don’t think she means any harm.” His voice was reassuring. He had kept his position on their small council based on his use of the symbol and his even-keeled determination.

“How do we know that?” Deputy Kyle Wescott asked. He had remained loyal to the old sheriff until the end and was still not at ease with all of this hocus pocus. The presence of the symbol was not a good sign, especially on an outsider.

“Maybe let her talk, Deputy,” Hoscut said. “Let’s start with introductions. We can be hospitable and civil at the very least.”

“My name is Afa,” the stranger said. “I come from an island far away. I’m sure you have never heard of it here in the desert.”

“My name is Ben Hoscut,” Hoscut said. “This is Mayor Brown and Deputy Westcott. We’re the leaders of this town since the incidents started happening.”

“We can be hospitable,” Deputy Wescott said. He walked over and grabbed a bottle of beer which the Mayor looked disapprovingly at. He set it in front of Afa. “Now how about that story?”

“Well,” Afa said. “Firstly, you called it ‘your symbol’. It is not your symbol. That symbol belongs to my people as well.”

“Did your people have the same problem?” Hoscut asked. He leaned in, very interested.

Afa smiled and shrugged. “I don’t know the problem you had here,” she said. “In our island village, people started to disappear without a trace save for some blood on the dirt or sand. We sent out search parties to find them. I lead one of them. We never found any of them.”

Westcott looked remorseful, pitying. “Yeah,” he said. “That’s the same problem. More or less.”

“While I never discovered any of the missing, I did discover something else,” she said. “I found a long-forgotten cave. There we discovered the symbol. We could not understand all of the symbols in the cave but when I touched this symbol, I felt like it would protect us. I guess I was right. I guess it protected you as well.”

“It has,” Hoscut said. “But it didn’t stop what’s still out there. Did you ever catch sight of whatever was out there?”

“Once,” Afa said, her eyes growing dark. “but only a glimpse. Really, all I saw were four bright eyes in the darkness. I heard something inhuman.”

The Mayor shuddered. The mood in the room had changed now that the three men believed that Afa was a kindred spirit of sorts. They had no idea whether they could really trust her but at least she had gone through the same fire they had. If she was telling the truth, of course. But why would she have that symbol? What would she gain from lying? Her words felt like the truth.

“Maybe we were too quick to anger,” Mayor Brown said. “Maybe you can help us figure this thing out.”

Afa nodded. “Where did you get the symbol from in the first place?” she asked. Her eyes burned with curiosity. “Maybe we can learn more from your source.”

The three men all looked at each other. One by one they nodded and shrugged. “We got the symbol from the Sisters,” Hoscut said. “They got the idea from a vision.”

“Who are these Sisters?” Afa asked she reached out and grabbed the beer and drank. “I want to talk to them?”

“We haven’t heard from them in years,” Mayor Brown said. “They’re probably dead.”

Deputy Westcott got a strange look on his face. “I remember my mother saying the same thing when I was a boy,” he said. “What’s that about?”

Afa stood and swept her coat back, exposing two onyx six-shooters. “Let’s go find out, shall we?” she asked with that same confident smile.

Deputy Westcott stood up. “Just because I’m backing you up doesn’t mean you’re the Sheriff,” he said. “With your permission, Mayor.”

Mayor Brown nodded. “I suppose it’s something,” he said. “We have lived in fear for a long time. Be careful.”

Deputy Westcott led Afa over to the Sister’s house. It looked quite ordinary. The Deputy knocked on the door and they waited for a long time. Westcott shrugged and started to turn away when Afa lunged at the door, slamming her foot hard into it. The door jamb cracked and the door opened inward. Before the Deputy could complain, Afa had slipped inside. When he followed, his mind could not immediately grasp what he saw. It looked a castle inside. A great big castle, much bigger than the house on the outside. Something was indeed strange here.


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