Posts Tagged ‘Fiction’

More Common Knowledge (Elorian Campaign)

December 18, 2017

The Guard

The law keepers of the Kingdom of Eloria are comprised of able-bodied men and women who act as both patrollers and first responders for any crime and unrest. In a pinch, they also act as medical first responders. They are primarily stationed in the cities and towns but there are various rangers who are stationed in guard houses in the wilderness. These wilderness officers tend to be a bit more rugged as they spend a lot of time out on their own. These officers carry badges that are readily visible, clipped somewhere onto their armor. The badges are recognizable and known to all citizens of Eloria. Most municipal localities have a station or two depending on their size which includes some sort of jail for prisoners. What is most interesting about The Guard is that they are trained as both a police force and a military force. In times of war, most of the guard ship out to the front lines to fight in the war. The guard, along with the military members who patrol the Elorian border, makes sure that in times of war the fighting force is seasoned and experienced.

The Royal Arsenal

They are a legendary team of former adventurers, most of them Elorian, who have become agents of the military. The Arsenal is used as a forward fighting squad in military conflicts as they are experienced with tough battles. When there are no military conflicts, they are installed in various municipalities as heads of law enforcement, beholden both to the King and the local nobility. Their assignment to the military was done as a reward for killing an ancient white dragon named Kanaaq. They saved the royal family and the royal city from destruction and the King could not think of a greater reward than employing them. Thankfully, they all graciously accepted after a short period of reflection. Each member is renowned for their incredible fighting prowess and their legendary accomplishments. Each member of the Arsenal approaches their duties differently but all of them are dedicated to the greater good. Of course, they are all semi-retired which kind of took the edge off their former strength but none of them should be underestimated. They are often consulted by adventuring parties, as they have a lot of good stories and great experience to draw on. Also, it does not hurt to have a government official who has a sympathetic ear for adventurers.

The Demon Vistra

Vistra is the demon lord who tried to invade the kingdom of Eloria and also, at one point, the Kingdom of Shera. He has twice found some sort of exploit that allowed him to travel to the Material Plane from his keep somewhere in the Abyss. Both times he was able to bring an army with him full of both weaker and powerful demons. On both of these known occasions, he supplemented his army by forming an alliance with enemies of the Kingdom of Eloria. On the first occasion, his emissaries were able to help form an alliance with Orcs from the Kingdom of Khull and the two armies were barely routed during the origin of what is now known as Eloria. The second time, his armies raised the dead to create an undead army during the war between Eloria and Shera. There are rumors that a part of that plan was an alliance with the dragon Khandaaq, an agreement that Khandaaq could turn the royal capital into its icy lair but those rumors have not and can not be confirmed. There are also whispers of Vistra’s private war against an unnamed Devil in the Nine Hells which is also unconfirmed. Finally, there are rumors that not all of Vistra’s army went home and that there may be remnants stored somewhere in Eloria. There are three generals under Vistra and they are named Balor, Abraxas, and Halfrek.

The Republic of Shera

Once known as the Kingdom of Shera, this place is mostly farmland, forest, and swamps. That is not to say that it is not civilized, it just lacks the diversity of biomes that Eloria has. Sherans are not completely unlike Elorians. The main difference has been formed by their more recent history. Years ago, the King of Shera decided to forgo all previous treaties and attacked the Kingdom of Eloria in a bid to gain all of the shipping resources of Eloria. As has been stated, that war was interrupted by Vistra’s forces and those forces killed the entire royal family of Shera. Liam III, the King of Eloria, decided not to annex Shera in the absence of their royal family. The grateful Sherans formed a Republic and they are now ruled by a council made up of the Mayors of their cities and various intellectuals. The new government reestablished treaties with all of its neighbors and work toward a brighter, more peaceful future.

The Kingdom of Khull

The Kingdom of Khull is a large country full of desert and scrubland near the middle of the Emerald Continent of Taldonta. Since Orcs are almost certain to maintain a constant violent relationship with the other races on the continent, many decided to seize land inhospitable to less rugged races where they formed their own Kingdom. This Kingdom is undoubtedly ruled by one person, the King, and everybody else is more or less on equal footing. With Orcs, the strongest often rules and makes the rules so aside from the King, the most brutal often keep the others in line. Their thoughts are constantly bent on war with their neighbors but it has been a long time since an actual war has taken place. Their southern neighbor is Shera which has built a tall wall all along the border to provide some relief from these vicious creatures. After its founding, the Kingdom of Khull opened its borders to any Goblins and Kobolds who wanted a new home. The newborn alliance worries the rest of Taldonta.

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Races (Elorian Campaign)

December 11, 2017

As D&Dcember continues, I thought I would continue to work on my campaign and do a little thinking of the possible player character races. I used the Player’s Handbook as a guide but I am toying with offering more options as I flesh out the greater world a little bit. There are definitely other races in the world but it might be a little too complicated to offer them as player options especially since some of them are rare or inconvenient. Anyway, I have decided to spend much of my time this month that is not taken up by work or the upcoming holidays working on this and connected projects.

Elves

Elves are quite possibly the first creatures to walk the earth. Their blood and bodies are closely attuned to the magic of the World as the first elves were carefully crafted from a deep primordial magic. Elves have been around so long that they cannot even remember everything their race has done. Ancient structures were abandoned in times of war only to be forgotten in new lands. Their language has also evolved beyond what it has been in the past mostly because they have to deal with the younger races and these new experiences inform and enrich their lives. Older elves are more likely to be more somber as there is not much that surprises them anymore and their young adventures are well behind them. Of course, this means that younger elves (and young is a relative term here) are often more eager to join the world and explore the world the older generations have given them. Elves end up being a bit judgy about the activities of the younger races, forgetting that the younger races often do not have the equivalent benefit of experience.

Humans

The youngest race created on purpose, humans have the ingenuity of gnomes combined with the size of elves and some of the hardiness of dwarves. Humans were made without the magic that elves are born having deep in the core of their being. Earlier humans sought that magic, which led to pacts with all sorts of things to even the playing field with every creature out to dominate the continent. These warlocks were the first human magic users and a lot of them were not trusted. Others decided to go another route and worked on their physical prowess and weapon skills. The first wizards emerged sometime later as humans were able to obtain knowledge from the older races and joined in innovating new magicks. Twenty years ago, the wild magic finally found humanity and their first sorcerers emerged. Humans are the most prevalent species on the continent (with Orcs coming in second) and are just about everywhere. Humans have way more variety in their appearance than the other races.

Half-Elves

When human and elf relations started to pick up, a lot of humans were fascinated with their fey-touched cousins. It was only a matter of time before physical and romantic relationships sparked up. It turns out that the two were more compatible than they had both previously thought. The first Half-Elf children were a surprise to everyone (except maybe the Gods who had created both races). This first generation was caught in a sort of limbo. Neither elf nor human, their respective parents did not know what to do with these new children at first. Sure, they were part of loving families but it was difficult at first, especially since, at that time, humans had not yet discovered their capacity for magic. Now that humans have figured out magic, the two races have warmed to the benefits of these progenies. The existence of this hybrid race has drawn the worlds of elves and man closer together and it has brought many elves away from their lofty enclaves to live among the other races.

Dwarves

Dwarves are an ancient race born deep under the land. Born near the roots of the earth, they were the first to harness the ore that they found there. As they extracted that ore, they were left an abundance of rock. Many dwarves not involved in the actual mining became master stone crafters and this, in turn, led to the discovery of dwarven runes. Dwarves became the first to discover techniques to imbue the magic of the world into physical objects. They remain the foremost experts at enchanting but their enchanters are always eager to get their hands on other races’ work to stay ahead of the curve. In a similar way, dwarves can be great students of architecture and often go on walkabouts from their underground civilizations to check out how the rest of the world is building things. Some dwarves also tire of the heat of the forges and the threats from things in the mines and journey away to live out in the open.

Halflings (Hin)

It is theorized both that “Halflings” were a first attempt at creating humans or a second attempt at creating gnomes. Neither theory has been proven but, of course, neither could be proven conclusively. For the most part, the Hin (as they are rightfully called) are a happy folk who are content to farm the land and create rural communities. However, every race has those struck by wanderlust and the Hin are no different. Their small, yet hardy stature allows easy access to all sorts of mischief. Many traditions of the roguish variety came from those first members of the Hin who left home and found that sticky fingers could be a benefit. In fact, the special language Thieves Cant evolved at first from an obscure Hin “tapping language” on the walls of their tunnel-like houses. Although they are small in stature, many have achieved more than the humans twice their size and nothing is really out of their reach when they put their minds to a problem.

Gnomes

Gnomes are very rare to see in the surface world these days. Gnome flesh must be tasty to orcs and other nasty critters because the tiniest race was facing extinction at some point. Of course, as far as most on the continent know, gnomes may still be endangered and some may not have realized that the gnomes are not extinct. Gnome culture and knowledge adapted to the world. Gnomes became more secretive and protective. They went back underground like the dwarves and only a few gnomes live in towns and cities on the continent. Those who do are usually very security-minded. In fact, gnomes are largely responsible for the advances in locks on the continent and have come up with some particularly nasty mechanisms. Gnome burrows are often situated in secret locations near Dwarf settlements and they are often meticulously clean and efficient towns. They often have a deal with Dwarven mining operations to help fix their equipment and innovate new ways to obtain ore.

Tieflings

Tieflings were once humans but at some point in their lineage, demonic energy twisted their family line and children were then born with red skin, tails, and horns among other demonic traits. Their infernal blood gives them abilities different from normal humans. Tieflings are rare in Eloria, mostly because there were not a multitude of families affected. Many Tieflings are from families who made pacts with Visna’s forces or Visna himself during his first attempted invasion. Other Tieflings in the area come from other lands or even other planes. Tieflings are not well liked by many in Eloria since there are still bad memories connected to demons and it is hard to separate their lineage from who they might be now. Tieflings are both good and bad, the bad ones pretty much lack the backing of Visna so they have to be more subtle.

Half-Orcs

The progeny of both humans and orcs, the half-orcs are not accepted by either race. These mutts are often spotted on the edges of society either in slums or in the wilds. There are exceptions, of course, but most of them are proud outcasts. Many of them chose to renounce their human heritage and work hand in hand with orcs. Others work harder to endear themselves to humans and other races in an effort to make their lot in life a little easier. They are tough and strong and harder to put down than a human. They are easy to spot by their grayish-green skin, tusk-like incisors, and abnormally tall height. Scars are not uncommon in some communities of half-orcs as they often lack proper medical care either physical or magical.

Dragonborn

The Dragonborn are incredibly rare on the entire continent. They are a humanoid race which has a lot of traits in common with dragons. They are scaled beings that walk on two legs. Most of them are bigger than your average human and some are even born with tails. Their scales come in every color that dragons come in. Chromatic Dragonborn are treated with almost as much disgust and fear as the chromatic dragons they resemble. However, they do not have the innate reality warping abilities that dragons do. Metallic Dragonborns are more tolerated although misguided prejudice does exist. In reality, no color of the spectrum is more likely to be evil than any other. Chromatic Dragonborn are often nurtured to be evil and are more likely to identify with the old stories of chromatic dragons.

Redcross Pt. 12

December 9, 2017

Redcross

“What do you mean by that, Sheriff?” Reverend Roy Simmons asked. “I am just a simple small town reverend at a Methodist church.”

“Bullshit, Reverend,” Sarah said. “Twice now you’ve come to the rescue with that rifle of yours. I didn’t think they taught that at any seminary school.”

“Maybe I wasn’t always a reverend, Sheriff,” Simmons said. He folded his arms across his chest and for a moment, Sarah thought she might have gotten things wrong. But only for a moment.

“Which circles us back to me asking what you are,” Sarah said. The two of them locked eyes and Sarah started to stare him down. She had trained this particular skill by being hardheaded with her father. He was a hard man when he had to be and he had not let Sarah get away with a whole lot unless she fought for it. Nowadays, she mostly used the look on rowdy kids in town but it was also well-suited for grown adults who had something to be guilty about. After only a moment, Simmons sighed and took a step back into the church.

“Come on in,” Simmons said. “Do you want some coffee?” He started walking off toward the kitchen even before she could answer.

Sarah walked through the door and nodded. “Please and thank you, Reverend.”

Sarah walked into the church. She had had some difficulty attending the church for a while after her father died. In the aftermath, Sarah had been named the new sheriff by most of the important people in town. It was not pity that guided the town to elect her. She had been close to her father and knew what went into the job. The job had consumed her that first week and then several of the weeks that followed. Once she resurfaced, getting back into the routine of going to church was not an easy task. It was important to the town for the sheriff to be there, though, no matter what her feelings might be. Now she went every Sunday but her recent suspicions about Reverend Simmons threw all of that on its ear.

Simmons came back with the coffee and they sat down in the little sitting area just off from the sanctuary. Simmons waited for Sarah to sit first which annoyed her a little in the moment but she went ahead and sat instead of arguing over pettier things. When organized, unkillable mountain lions were doing battle with wolves in the streets of Essex, it was not the time to quibble over niceties. Sarah sipped her coffee, eyes locked on the Reverend. They were both silent for a few moments as Sarah waited for the Reverend to start talking and the Reverend seemed quite comfortable in silence.

“So Reverend,” Sara said. “Do you want to answer the question or do you want to continue evading it in favor of coffee and a pleasant chat?”

“I have never evaded a question before, Sarah,” Reverend Simmons said before sipping his coffee.

Sarah’s eyes narrowed slightly. “That’s too close to a lie, Reverend. I saw you make shots a normal man wouldn’t hit in a million years last night. You also carried yourself well with that rifle out near the mine. You can trust me, Reverend, I just want to trust you again myself.”

Simmons took a deep breath and leaned back in his chair. “I served in the army for a time. They trained me and apparently, I displayed natural talents with firearms. Eventually, my way of thinking did not align with that of the Army and I requested my leave. Once that was granted, I was lost and found myself with the Salvation Army at Lochiel where I discovered a penchant for preaching so I chose to do that instead of fighting. The church here in Essex was empty so I eventually came to lend my voice.”

“I hadn’t heard the Army part of that story before,” Sarah said. “I had heard the rest. What do you mean when you say you didn’t get along in the Army?”

“I’m not a violent man,” Simmons said with a shrug.

“I would be liable to believe that if I hadn’t seen you with that rifle, Reverend,” Sarah said. Something was not adding up with his story. If he had forgone violence, why keep the rifle? he knew for a fact that Simmons didn’t hunt which also put what he was doing out near the mine in question as well. Even if what he said had been a hundred percent true, something just did not feel right.

“I am not a violent man,” Simmons said again. “or at least I don’t want to be. I wasn’t into fighting Indians or Mexicans. I felt like there was a greater purpose out there.”

Sarah smiled a bit at that. “I can commend you for not going after the natives or the Mexicans.” She thought of Senora Chilton, the woman who had warmed over Death himself. “So, was your greater calling the church or something else?”

“I’m not sure how much I want to reveal, Sheriff,” Simmons said. “No offense.”

“Reverend Roy Simmons,” Sarah said in her most authoritative voice. It was stern, it was hard and it could command a room when she pulled that voice out. “After last night and what we saw at the mine, this town is in trouble. People are talking all sorts of lunacy out there. If you know anything that could help us then it is time to spill everything.”

Roy Simmons watched her for a moment and then set his cup aside and then watched her again. “I found something else in Lochiel besides my faith.  I found a greater calling, one I never thought I would have to answer again.  I am part of a secret organization that has existed for centuries. It is called the Order of the Red Cross.”

Sarah’s eyes popped open at that name.

Redcross Pt. 11

November 25, 2017

Redcross

Sarah got up early the next day even if she wished she could at least sleep in until noon. She put some breakfast on the griddle and she got a lecture from Doctor Marion about how unhealthy the breakfast was. Even with the lecture, the thick cut bacon, eggs, and black coffee felt good and she began to feel like herself again. After that, she asked Marion to stay put for her own safety and got an argument there as well but it was just for show. Sarah strapped on her gun and grabbed her coat and hat and walked out the door, locking it carefully behind her.

She moved over to Chip Hendley’s door and pounded her fist on it until the door unlocked and Chip was blinking at her through bleary eyes. The man was huge so Sarah had to look up to talk to him and Sarah was fairly tall herself.

“Good morning, Sheriff,” Chip said and the smell of beer and whiskey drifted from his sweat and breath.

“Been drinking, Chip?” Sarah asked.

“I have, Sheriff Redcross,” Chip said. “Last night was the damnedest thing I’ve ever seen. After those things left last night, I took one drink and just didn’t stop.”

“I don’t blame you, Chip,” Sarah said. “I don’t blame you at all. You said ‘things’, Chip. Do you not think they were wildcats of some kind?”

“Do you, Sheriff?” Chip asked. “I saw you shoot one of them take six bullets and it was still moving. No wildcat on Earth does that, to my knowledge.”

“On Earth? Where do you think these things came from?” Sarah asked.

“I don’t really know,” Chip said. “But I don’t think they’re from here. Just a feeling I have.” He shrugged. Chip was smarter than he looked and Sarah did not discount anybody’s ideas out of hand.

“I don’t either,” Sarah said. “But you may be right. I plan to get to the bottom of it either way. For right now, I need your help.”

“Me?” Chip asked. “I don’t know what I can do but I’m happy to help out where I can.”

“You’re the best carpenter in town,” Sarah said. “I need you to go and replace Doctor Schaefer’s door. One of those ‘things’ broke it down and I would like her to have a good sturdy door to protect her again.”

“For sure I can do that,” Chip said. “I’ll get some coffee and eggs down and go right over there. I’ll try to have it done well before sundown.”

“Great, Chip,” Sarah said. “I’ll have somebody bring by some lunch and water to you later. When you’re done there, please replace the back door of my office as well.”

“I’ll build both of them stronger than before,” Chip said. “I’ll get right on it.” Chip seemed to come to life as soon as he had a purpose for the day. His eyes looked clearer and he smoothed his hair out of his face and smiled.

“Thanks, Chip,” Sarah said. “I’ll check in with you later.”

Sarah moved on to her next destination, walking across the dusty main thoroughfare of Essex. There were spots of black here and there where bullets had spilled blood from the creatures. She wondered if they had red blood that merely dried black or if the blood was black in the first place. Too many mysteries and Sarah felt more lost than she ever had. She had a feeling that, had this happened in her father’s time as Sheriff, her father would have been just as lost. This thought was not exactly comforting but it did bring up a resolve to fix this problem from deep inside of her.

Sarah found Holly Dawson peeking through the window of her family’s house and waved at her. The sound of a heavy deadbolt being unlatched preceded Holly slowly, cautiously stepping out into the sunlight.

“Sheriff,” She said softly. “I’m glad to see you survived. I saw you standing out in the middle of it all before mom and I hid under her bed.”

“Thank you, Holly,” Sarah said. “I’m not gonna sugar coat it. That was bad. But I could use your help today if you can muster up some courage for me.”

“Anything for you, Sheriff,” Holly said and her face hardened and her chin tilted up, summoning courage from somewhere.

“I don’t need you fight a battle or anything,” Sarah said. “Although I should teach you how to shoot at some point the way things are going lately. Today I just need you and your momma to cook some lunch and dinner for Chip who will be at Doctor Marion’s place and for Doctor Marion who is at my place.”

Holly just grinned.

“Did I say something funny?” Sarah asked but could not help but smile even as she put on her best confused face.

“You’ve never asked me to cook for you before,” Holly said. “You always just give in when I bring you food.” Her face was so sunny at having this victory. It was a small victory in Sarah’s eyes but apparently not for young Holly.

“I’ve never wanted to trouble you or your family, Holly,” Sarah said.

“You’ve never been trouble, Sheriff,” Holly said. “I don’t think you could be if you tried.”

“Thanks, Molly,” Sarah said. “And thanks to your mother as well. You have good souls.”

“And where should I deliver your lunch and dinner, Sheriff?” Holly asked.

Sarah smiled, at last realizing what this would mean to the girl. “Hopefully, my office but I might be all over the place today.”

“Alright,” Holly said. “I’ll see you later.” She smiled and slipped back into her house, the deadbolt sliding back into place. Better safe than sorry. In fact, the street was mostly empty and, although it was hot, the place should have had at least a little activity. It was not the worse thing for people to hide inside of their houses and shops for the moment.

Sarah made her way further down the street and found herself at the old, ragged church. She paused at the door and then she pounded on the door with her fist. After a long moment, Reverend Simmons opened the door. He looked just as fresh and ready as he usually did. He smiled when he saw who was at the door, those blue eyes twinkled.

“Sheriff,” the Reverend said. “What can I do for you? Come for spiritual guidance?”

“I came to ask you some questions,” Sarah said.

“Questions?” The Reverend asked. Sarah was not sure but she thought he might have looked nervous for a small moment.

“Like, what are you?” Sarah asked.

From The Desk of a Random Court Reporter

November 20, 2017

<INTERIOR: A well-adorned Courtroom in the middle of a busy city. The prosecution is sitting at their table on house right, facing the judge’s bench. The defense and the defendant sit at the other table on the left. A court reporter sits near the judge’s bench. The bailiff, a tall redheaded woman, strides into the room confidently.>

BAILIFF: All rise! Court is now in session. Presenting his honor, Judge Gallows.

<Both sides stand as does those seated in the packed gallery. Judge Eugene Gallows walks in wearing his long black robes. He takes a moment to look over his notes, looks at the prosecution, defense, and defendant. He then looks at the bailiff.>

JUDGE: Before we let the jury in, I have a number of motions that were submitted since yesterday and I thought we would take some time to review those so I can make some decisions. Is that fair?

<Both sides nod>

JUDGE: Of course it is. I’m the judge. <He takes his glasses out and pulls out a sheaf of papers which he squints at.>

JUDGE: I’m looking at a whole lot of motions here. I am going to begin with a few from the defense. Let’s see here. I have a Motion to Just Let the Defendant Go This One Time. That is denied because that is just not how we do things anymore. I have a Motion to Blindfold the Prosecution which I am still considering because it could be funny. Finally, I have a Motion to Alter Reality and Erase the Crime from Existence which I have to dismiss because They stripped that power from us in the recent legislative session.

<The defense nods, the defendant bows their head. The Prosecutor for the STATE raises her hand and the Judge points at her>

STATE: Thank you, your honor.

JUDGE: No need for that. Just doing my job. Now onto the State’s motions. I see a Motion to Read the Defendant’s Mind. Good luck with that, I can’t even read my own mind. There is a Motion to Shoot the Defendant in the Head but those pesky metal detectors made sure none of us have fun. I just have a pocketful of bullets myself.

<JUDGE starts lining those bullets up on his bench idly after an uncomfortable amount of time he seems to get startled looking at everyone staring at him and goes back to his papers>

JUDGE: Next we have a Motion to Let The Media Poke And Prod the Defendant and the Defense for 60 Minutes And Attorney’s Fees. I will dismiss this because I hate the media. They’re always finding things out about me. Finally, there was a Motion of the Ocean which I agree with and I have forwarded it to my ex-wife.

<The STATE nods. The defense lightly applauds. The Defendant remains silent>

JUDGE: OK. Please let the jury in and then we can begin.

<The BAILIFF goes and opens a door at the side of the room and there is a whoosh of air as she opens it. The jury stumbles into the room gasping for air, their skin a little blue. They all lie down on the floor for a few moments before getting up and slowly filing into the jury box.>

JUDGE: Please be seated. <Everybody sits> Bailiff, please make a note to provide the jury room with oxygen. Not the good stuff, though, we’re on a budget. Prosecution, call your first witness.

<The BAILIFF nods and makes a note on a small notepad>

STATE: The Prosecution calls to the stand Bernice Clevinger. I summon you forth!

<BERNICE walks into the room, escorted by a police officer to the stand. She flounces into the seat. She looks nervously at the JUDGE’s nametag>

JUDGE: Don’t be nervous. We don’t even do that anymore. We use needles.

<The BAILIFF holds out a bible to BERNICE>

BAILIFF: Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth or else?

<BERNICE places her hand on the bible and it starts to sizzle and smoke but she does not pull her hand away>

BERNICE: I so swear.

<The BAILIFF pulls the bible away with some difficulty as it sticks a little to BERNICE’s skin>

STATE: Please state for the record your name and age.

BERNICE: Bernice Clevinger of the Dark Abyss. I’m 99 years old.

STATE: Permission to treat this witness as hostile?

JUDGE: Not until she takes a swing at you.

STATE: Please tell us your relationship to the Defendant.

BERNICE: We live together.

STATE: Please clarify.

BERNICE: We both pay rent on the same apartment. Our agreement is that she gets the rooms and I live in the walls. We share the kitchen.

<The STATE walks over toward the jury box>

STATE: You. Share. The. Kitchen.

<The STATE hands juror number 6 a twenty, gets a box of girl scout cookies in return, and then pats her on the head before walking back toward the witness stand>

STATE: Permission to turn into a fox and bark at the witness?

JUDGE: I’ll allow it but watch yourself.

<STATE’s skin ripples and she slowly turns into a red fox which shakes itself and starts to yip at BERNICE who looks displeased but does not respond. This goes on for quite some time.>

DEFENSE: Objection!

JUDGE: Yes, yes. I think the State has made its point here. Why don’t we take a recess?

<The STATE returns to human form and walks back to her table. The Bailiff starts prodding the JURY back into the jury room. The JUDGE returns to his chambers>

<The names and situations in this teleplay are not intended to represent anybody in real life. If you feel that any fictional situations contained herein apply to you, please seek the help of a qualified professional or return to the alternate reality you come from.>

Eloria

November 13, 2017

(This is an early draft of the basic description of the 5e D&D campaign setting I am working on)

Eloria Rough

Sitting on a huge peninsula at the base of the so-called Emerald Continent of Taldontei, Eloria is a jewel nearly surrounded by the Calm Sea. For centuries, it has been ruled by the Royal Family in an unbroken chain since Galen I led the armies in the First Great War, defeating the devil, Vistra, and his Orc/Fiend alliance. At that point, the borders of the kingdom were re-established with neighboring Shera and the castle was rebuilt. The people crowned Galen and he laid down his sword in order to lead and protect his people. The crown was passed down the line from King to Queen to King and so on. Now it adorns the head of the current King, Liam III. He is supported by his wife Gianna, his heir Ariana, and twin princes Galen and Bram.

The Kingdom of Eloria is divided into six districts that surround the capital where the royal residence is. The land was divided into districts by land type and each is locally managed by a noble house, supported by lesser noble houses. The King has full say but cannot micromanage and a lot of trust is placed on the nobles and the people to maintain both efficiency and harmony. To that end, the Crown took two major actions to make sure the kingdom was safe. Galen I established The Guard, a police force that is stationed in every municipality. These armored law keepers work with the noble houses and magistrates to mete out justice as fairly as possible.

Five years ago, Liam III established a new tradition with every intention for it to carry on into the future forever. Nine years ago, the Kingdom of Eloria fought in a war against the bordering kingdom of Shera to stop an invasion. Partway through that war, both sides were assaulted by an undead army lead by the returning devil, Vistra. Both armies, although weakened, campaigned to combat the horde and eventually defeated the threat. A truce was signed between Liam III and the new king of Shera.

Meanwhile, a large Chromatic White Dragon took the opportunity to try and make the royal castle its new lair. A band of adventurers sprang to the castle’s defense in the king’s absence and slaughtered the dragon after a lengthy, difficult battle. As a reward, Liam III named that band of adventurers as an official royal fighting force. He called them the Royal Arsenal. Each of them was given a commission in a district of their choosing. Officially, they are officers in the military and can be called upon to face threats to the kingdom. In everyday life, they are in command of the Guard of the biggest city in their district.

And now, the Kingdom of Eloria thrives. It is still healing the wounds caused by the war with Shera but relations have normalized. Vistra has been sent back to the Nine Realms of Hell again and no signs of him or any new armies (undead or otherwise) have been spotted. Since the Kingdom is once again at peace after a long war, it is once again a great time for adventuring as the armies recover and the wilderness remains unguarded. Also, the current king has a very favorable opinion of adventuring parties. So, go forth adventurers and face the challenges of Eloria!

Points of Interest:

The Battle Arts Academy

A sprawling academy located in the district of Stull outside of the city of Hurlock. This is where The Guard and the King’s Army are trained. One of the Royal Arsenal, Sir Havelock is a part-time instructor at the academy and several former Army officers, Guard, and adventurers make up the rest of the faculty. There are other fighting schools in the kingdom but this is the most famous and elite.

The District of Orden

Orden is the tip of the peninsula. Its coasts are heavily fished in seasons and they are home to many ports of call for trading ships. Chief among those ports is Whitecrest, the de facto capital of Orden. The Arsenal member Gareth Whispernight is in charge of law and order in Whitecrest. The noble house of Whitecrest, from whom the city gets its name, is in charge of day to day operations and command their own fleet of ships.

The District of Stull.

The District of Stull borders Shera and the rest of the continent. It is known for its rougher terrain and hardy citizenry. The Cascius Mountains are a major feature of the district. Nestled at their base is the town of Hurlock and the famous Battle Arts Academy. The Arsenal member that lives there is Sir William Havelock who is also an instructor at the academy.

The District of Channon

This district lies near the heart of the kingdom, but a little to the east. Its most dominant feature is the vast Fangleth Forest, a small percentage of which has actually been explored. On the northern border of the forest is the city of Woodright, the de facto capital of the district. The Arsenal member who lives there is Morgan Moonglow who eagerly tracks criminals and monsters in the region.

The District of Hasse

At the center of the kingdom is Hasse which is mostly full of vast plains. Its most dominant feature is, of course, the walled city of Flameheart which is where the Royal Castle resides. Herds of wild horses roam the district which is a major source of horses for the kingdom outside of domesticated birth. Hasse itself is managed from Callida. The Arsenal member there is Galath Wyndham.

The District of Etting

Etting is nestled just south of Hasse and north of Orden. It is small but densely wealthy. It is the main home of Eloria’s alcohol production facilities, most of which are controlled by famous noble houses. The city of Silverlight has somehow maneuvered itself to be the second wealthiest city in the Kingdom but also the center of fashion and entertainment. The arsenal member is Percival Stardane.

The District of Coppin

On the northwestern coast of the kingdom is Coppin. Its most notable for a collection of magic schools as it has cultivated the trade of magical knowledge and the training of innate skill. The main town is Braddish. Cassandra Oakspring is the Arsenal member installed there.

Magical Earth Defenders 11

November 11, 2017

Magical Earth Defenders

Lennon rolled her wheelchair through the crowd in front of the school. She could not really see through the sea of fellow students but she knew the general direction of the school so she headed that way. Her mom had dropped her off and helped her out of the car and into her chair. Lennon had practically had to beg her to go to work and let Lennon roll in on her own. As much as she loved her mother, she wanted to feel as independent as possible. That is why she was rolling the chair manually instead of engaging the motorized system. She had especially rigged it so she could turn off that system to conserve the battery. The doctors approved as it gave her more exercise.

She suddenly realized that her mind was wandering and stopped just short of colliding with somebody’s shins. She found herself blushing.

“Excuse me,” She said gently. “I need to get by.” Lennon was trying to be more patient. It was not everybody else’s fault that she was in this bulky wheelchair.

“Lennon, it’s me,” A voice said and Lennon looked up and saw a smiling Kelsey. Kelsey was dressed in a casual button up shirt and corduroy pants. Lennon could not help but smile back. The day before had felt like such a dream and Lennon almost could not believe it had happened. The thought of being upright as the Red Defender was as bright in her mind as the flames she had wielded.

“Oh!” Lennon said and adjusted her glasses. “Sorry, Kelsey!”

Kelsey shook her head. “You don’t need to apologize. Just say good morning already.” She smiled and stuck her fist out toward Lennon.

Lennon smiled and banged her fist gently against Kelsey’s. “Good morning.”

Natia seemingly came from nowhere and bumped her hip into Kelsey’s to get her to move over. She had the hood of her sweatshirt up and it covered up the bulky headphones tucked in. She was wearing jeans which was a borderline violation of the dress code. “Move over, girl scout!” She said with a sleepy smile. “Mornin’ Glasses.”

“Good Morning, Natia,” Lennon said. The lively girl was amusing to Lennon, especially since Lennon herself had almost always been in her shell. Shy and smart often went hand in hand.

“There’s nothing good about morning, Lennon,” Natia said with a yawn. “But she dragged me here and I’m here and we’re a team and junk.”

“It’s nice to see you both,” Lennon said. “I don’t have a lot of…” She trailed off, not sure if she wanted to or even could talk about drifting away from her old friends.

“You do now,” Kelsey said. “We’re in this together.” Kelsey’s smile was kind and not a bit condescending. Natia treated everybody pretty much the same no matter what. Lennon had not realized how much she really needed that. She felt so much like a freak adjusting to her relatively new condition. It was nice to see two people who genuinely seemed to see her for what she was instead of who she had been.

There was a murmuring from the crowd and the whole feel of the area changed. The three girls looked confused and started to look around for the source of the crowd’s new excitement. Moving through the usual crowd of students were two familiar faces. Margaret walked as if she owned the place which was impossible since it was a public school. Maya was a bit more wary, her eyes trying to decide whether she should be looking all around or looking at the ground. She seemed grateful to lay her eyes on Lennon, Kelsey, and Natia.

Maya was dressed in a long black dress with little white accents, a little formal for school but pretty. Her rune tattoos were seemingly gone. Margaret was dressed in pricier clothes than anyone in the vicinity, possibly anybody in a two-mile radius. Her leather half-jacket was particularly expensive looking but all of her clothing was in a fairly conservative style.

“Whoa,” Natia said. “I wasn’t expecting you two. Looking sharp.”

“It is nothing special,” Maya said. “I like dresses but they’re not as easy to maintain on the run.” She reached down and smoothed her unwrinkled dress a little nervously.

“Where’d you get such a pretty one on short notice?” Kelsey asked.

“I pulled something from my own wardrobe last night and delivered it to the castle this morning,” Margaret said. “We’ll go shopping after school.” Maya made an embarrassed face as if they had already argued about that, an argument she had lost. “You deserve it, Maya, you lost so much.”

“Thank you, Margaret,” Maya said and smiled, shaking off the bad feeling.

“Can any of us come on this shopping trip, Mar?” Natia asked.

“Sure,” Margaret said. “We leave directly after school.”

“Cool,” Natia said and then noticed that Kelsey was giving her a curious look. “What? It’s not like I want something. I’m allowed to like clothes. I’m not that much of a tomboy!”

Kelsey smirked. “I didn’t say a thing.”

“So, Margaret,” Lennon said. “Were you just dropping off Maya?” It was a little odd to see Maya the magical refugee at school but somehow it was even stranger to see a private school student within spitting distance of Charrot High School.

“I’m here to attend school,” Margaret said. Her words were deliberate and accompanied by a gentle, proud smile.

“You’re what?!” Natia asked loudly, nearly yelling the question. Kelsey instinctively covered her mouth with her hand, used to dealing with her younger sister. A series of muffled sounds issued from Natia’s mouth and Kelsey withdrew her hand and wiped it off with a tissue.

“What about the Academy?” Lennon asked. She knew the Academy’s reputation for rigorous education. In fact, her mother had applied for a scholarship there when it became clear that their daughter was exceptionally brilliant. In the end, she had been happy to stay at Charrot where the teachers had allowed her to design her own curriculum to challenge herself.

“Yesterday was such a life-changing experience,” Margaret said. “I assume it was for you ladies as well.” They all nodded and agreed. “We fit together so quickly yesterday, there is no way that I could hold you all at arm’s length. I would rather explore it. As it so happens, I have a good use for the tuition my parents were paying the Academy. It can do more good elsewhere and I am sure this school will do right by me.”

“Wow,” Kelsey and Lennon both said, almost in unison.

“School never did right by anyone but I guess it has its uses,” Natia said. “Welcome to Charrot, Mar.”

“Yeah,” Kelsey said with a smile. “Well, team, it looks like we have two new students to introduce to the office and our truant Natia has to throw herself on the mercy of the court. Follow me.” She started to walk and then turned to look at Lennon. “Are you coming too, Lennon?”

“Yeah,” Lennon said. “But I can push myself.”

“Of course you can,” Kelsey said with a smile before leading the way.

Aftershocks: Demon Days 4

October 28, 2017

Aftershocks 2

When the three of them opened the door, there was an intense blast of heat. The furnace must have been in overdrive or something. It was like walking into the desert and it took some effort to keep walking down the stairs. Lydia was glad that she had her hair up as usual but she looked with sympathy at Nancy who had long, shapeless hair draped everywhere. Rob pretty much had a crew cut so he was fine. Why was she thinking so much about hair? It must have been the heat that was making her delirious.

“We need to finish this guy off quickly,” Rob said.

“Can’t take the heat, Rob?” Lydia asked with a smirk. Nancy tried to cover her mouth before she started laughing but she failed.

“Quiet,” Rob hissed.

“I think they know we’re coming, Rob,” Nancy said.

“I know,” Rob said. “Maybe I just want you to stop mocking me.” He kicked open the door at the bottom of the stairs. The three of them moved into the room and fanned out.

A man was standing in front of the furnace with his back toward them. The flames made his shadow dance around the room. He slowly turned to expose a manic but determined look on his face. He was stone still and his eyes looked and smile looked devilish.

“It’s over, Jack!” Lydia shouted out.

“I don’t think so kiddo!” Jack said. “Enough is enough, time for you kids to get punished.”

“Come and get it!” Rob shouted.

Jack chuckled and pulled out a bloody axe from behind his back. “Here’s Johnny.” He said softly. He ran toward them, swinging the axe in a wide arc. The kids scattered and readied their weapons again.

The first to attack was Lydia, running at the left side of Jack and thrusting her sword as hard as she could. Jack simply stepped back and swung the axe downward in one movement but when the axe would have hit Lydia’s back, she evaporated into mist and reappeared a few feet away. Jack roared at her, his eyes going blood red.

In the confusion, Nancy swung the iron poker hard at Jack from his right side with a yell of fearfulness that suddenly found courage. This was a demon and if they did not step up to the plate, they would die in a hotel basement and nobody would ever stop Jack. She put all the balled up fear of the day and all the days before into that swing. Unfortunately, Jack sidestepped that one as well. He struck Nancy in the back of the head with the butt of the axe and a bit of blood spattered across the concrete floor as Nancy stumbled into a corner.

Rob pulled out a pistol and fired point blank at Jack. The first two bullets hit Jack in the stomach and he barely flinched even as more blood hit the floor. The next two bullets struck Jack’s chest and he started to laugh. The laughter grew more manic as bullet five hit his cheek, tearing a little bit of it away. The laughter did not die when the sixth bullet hit Jack right in the middle of the forehead. If anything, it got louder.

“Holy shit!” Lydia shouted. “That should have worked right?”

“It was worth a try,” Rob said. “At least it was supposed to slow him down.”

“Man,” Jack said with a sigh. “You kids make me want to drink. Instead, I guess I’ll bash your brains in. That tends to solve problems.”

“You’re not hurting anybody else,” Rob said steadily. He pulled out the silver spike of a blade from his coat again. Jack’s eyes were immediately drawn to the thing.

“I’m supposed to be scared of that thing?” Jack asked. “I know what that is. Don’t know how you got it but I know what it is. Real fancy, boy. You still have to actually hit me with it and none of you have had a bit of luck.” He had a very demonic grin on his face, his eyebrows knitting together.

“Demons will never win,” Rob said. “In the end, demons lose and humans win.”

“Whatever, kid,” Jack said. “I’m not going to let another snot-nosed kid beat me this time.”

“I think we’ve had about enough of you,” Lydia said. “Enough talking, more killing.”

“I agree,” Jack said with a grin.

All of the lights in the basement suddenly went out including the fire in the furnace. There was an ominous silence. Lydia and Rob tensed, holding their weapons in front of them. This must be one of Jack’s tricks. The flame of the furnace restarted and once again cast light in the basement.

Out of the darkness behind Jack, there was suddenly the looming face of Nancy. However, just her face was about ten feet tall, her hair cascading into the shadows. Jack saw the astonished faces of Rob and Lydia but as he turned to see, giant hands floated out of the darkness. Those hands were the size of cars. One grabbed Jack’s right arm and the other grabbed his left arm and held him in place. Jack struggled as hard as he could but the now titanic Nancy was way too strong.

“Now, Rob!” Nancy boomed, fiercely serious eyes looking down at Rob. Rob snapped out of it and ran forward with his weapon and thrust it through Jack’s chest. Jack’s body lit up as if he was a jack o’lantern and a candle had been placed within him. After a moment, the light went out and Jack slumped in Nancy’s grip. The furnace light flickered again and Nancy was suddenly standing next to Lydia and Jack was lying on the floor.

“Is he dead?” Lydia asked.

“He’s dead,” Rob said and took a deep breath.

Nancy looked at Lydia, worry in her eyes but Lydia reached out and took hold of her hand and smiled and Nancy smiled back. Lydia pointed her other hand at Jack’s body and it turned to sand and seemed to blow away in a non-existent wind. They stood there for a long moment before all of them noticed that the furnace was starting to burn brighter and brighter. All of a sudden, ghosts started to descend through the ceiling, sucked into the furnace and seemingly burned up.

“We should probably get out of here, right?” Nancy asked, staring into the fire.

“Yeah,” Rob and Lydia said almost in unison.

“Let’s go then,” Lydia said and she pulled Nancy up the stairs with Rob very close behind. They ran from the basement and through the hallway and the lobby and out through the automatic doors. When the doors closed behind them, there was a harshness and a finality to the sound. There was the huge sound of an explosion from deep inside the hotel and the whole building seemed to go up in flames. After a few seconds, the building was completely gone. Nobody on the street seemed to notice.

“We’ve got a lot more work to do,” Rob said.

“Well,” Lydia said. “I think we’re up to it.” She looked over at Nancy.

Nancy nodded. “More than up for it. This time, it’s the demons’ nightmare.”

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 3

October 21, 2017

Aftershocks 2

The three of them ran as fast as they could, blood sloshing at their ankles and their footfalls splashing as they ran. They ducked through a doorway and Lydia slammed the door behind them. All three of them held the door against the pressure of the flow of blood, breathing hard. They looked around and found that they were in what looked like a small ballroom with tables set up for some kind of party. There was a rolling bar set up in one corner. In the other corner, there was DJ equipment set up.

“What was that?” Nancy asked. She was looking down at her formerly white socks which were now red. Her sneakers were probably ruined.

“It wasn’t cherry kool-aid, that’s for sure,” Rob said.

They slowly eased off of the door and it held by itself. They made their way into the room.

“This place has some really creepy tricks,” Nancy said.

“I’ve heard some nasty things about the place they used to be. I think it was called the Overlook,” Rob said.

“I don’t think I want to know,” Nancy said.

“So, where is Jack?” Lydia said. She practically yelled it she was so mad.

“He is down below,” A voice from behind the bar said. “doing the devil’s work. He is not to be disturbed.” The man’s nametag read Lloyd and he was dressed like an employee of the hotel.

“Well,” Lydia said. “He’s as good as dead.”

“Yeah,” Nancy said. “We kind of want to talk about this place’s policies on demons and by ‘talk’ we mean stab.”

“I’m afraid that we can’t let that happen,” Lloyd said. “You’ll have to die and we’ll feed you to our new home like all the rest.” As he spoke, several other ghosts faded into view and surrounded the three young demon hunters. The three of them found themselves standing back to back to back, facing the threat.

“Try us, asshole,” Lydia said, practically bearing her teeth in defiance. The ghosts started to move toward the trio.

Nancy swallowed hard and gripped the iron poker tightly. She swung it at the oncoming ghosts and watched them flicker angrily and disappear as the poker passed through them. She kept swinging hard, thrashing around viciously. Rob aimed his shotgun and fired over and over. He wished that he had had time to shake out a salt circle around them to try and hold off the ghosts. He searched his mind for any memories of what his family would have done in this situation. When he ran out of shells, he pulled out a wicked silvery spike and swung that at the ghosts. Its impact made a burning line in each ghost and they flickered and disappeared. For her part, Lydia was also fighting hard. She swung her new sword at each ghost and its steel composition had a similar effect on the ghosts. Her slashes and parries made each ghost flicker and disappear.

After a while, the three of them started to get tired. They kept swinging and getting rid of ghosts but they were starting to notice that ghosts they got rid of earlier were only coming back for more. Lydia had had enough. She dropped her sword and flexed her magical will as she gestured her hand toward Lloyd.

“Back to Hell!” She yelled out. The words somehow sounded amplified and reverberated through the room. The ghosts all suddenly got very still and Lydia closed her fingers one by one. Lloyd’s form trembled and then started to smoke and then it burned up like a piece of paper in the fireplace. She turned to the other ghosts and gestured more widely and they all started to tremble and then burn up. In the silence that followed, she found that she was suddenly sitting in a chair trying to catch her breath. Nancy was kneeling beside her, holding her hand.

“Are you alright?” Nancy asked. Her eyes were wide and glimmered like a puppy dog’s eyes. Nancy was such a good person despite her lineage.

“Yeah,” Lydia said. “Sorry that took so long to figure out.”

“Don’t apologize!” Nancy said. “That was awesome!”

“It was really impressive,” Rob said.

“Thanks,” Lydia said. “It’s been something I’ve been working on for a while just in case you-know-who comes back someday. I’m just really glad it worked.”

“Where would you even learn something like that?” Rob asked. “My family doesn’t have a lot of good experience with witches.”

“She’s a good witch,” Nancy said. “Like Glynda.”

“Glynda with attitude but only because I was tired of being like Dorothy,” Lydia said. “I learned everything from reading and some coaching from some friendly ghosts. I could let you skim some of my books at some point.”

“Really?” Rob asked.

Lydia nodded. “Ever heard of the Handbook for the Recently Deceased?”

“No,” Rob admitted. “But I would love to see it.”

Lydia smiled. “Ask me about it later, then.”

“So,” Rob said. “Are we ready to go downstairs and deal with Jack?”

“I don’t know,” Nancy said. She almost seemed to shrink into her over-sized sweater as she frowned deeply with worry.

“Come on, Nance,” Lydia said. “We’ve come this far and if we don’t do this, then nobody will. Maybe nobody can.”

“She’s right,” Rob said. “Nobody is going to believe us about the demons. Believe me.”

“Alright,” Nancy said. She sighed and then took a deep breath. “Let’s get this over with.”

Aftershocks: Demon Days Pt. 2

October 14, 2017

Aftershocks 2

The hotel was in a run-down part of town, probably perfect for hiding the murders of people less likely to be missed by a loved one. It looked like it was frequented by tourists looking for a bargain, maybe even people flying in to deal business in the old financial district fifteen blocks away. Whatever the case was, it looked like any other non-chain hotel that Lydia and Nancy had ever seen. It looked like it was an alright place to crash after a night on the town or a day in the boardroom. There was even a sign on the door advertising free wifi which looked like it was a new addition.

They took Rob’s car but only because of the trunk full of weapons, otherwise Lydia wanted to take a cab or rideshare or something. When you have dealt with demons and demon ghosts, dealing with an Uber driver suddenly felt easier. Lydia insisted on driving because she actually had a legitimate driver’s license and the thought of riding in the car while Rob drove made her nervous. It was a strange place to be in when she was more worried about a car accident than facing down a deadly demon.

“Will you teach me to drive?” Nancy asked. It shook Lydia from her thoughts.

“What?” Lydia asked.

“I don’t have my license yet and I want to learn how to drive,” Nancy said. She was curled up into a ball on the passenger seat, hugging her knees. She was staring straight ahead.

“I can teach you,” Rob offered from the back seat. He had grumbled at having to sit in the back seat of his own car but had finally relented when Lydia pressed the issue.

“No,” Lydia said. “Not you. You keep forgetting that you are younger than us. You should not be driving this thing. If we’re going to be partners, I’ll do the driving unless it’s an emergency. We can’t risk getting the car pulled over by a cop. They might search it.”

“Besides, we wouldn’t want anything to happen to you, Rob,” Nancy said.

“Fine,” Rob said and went back to putting guns from the trunk hatch into his duffel bag.

They pulled into the parking lot and walked toward the hotel. Lydia was a little bit surprised that the sliding door just opened so readily for them. When it did, they were hit with the air-conditioning and also the specific chemical smell of bleach. All three of them looked at each other and they stepped into the lobby. It was absolutely empty. When they were not looking, somebody must have come to the front desk from the office. Lydia saw that he had a neutral face which suddenly turned into a practiced smiled, a move known to all in the retail or service industry. He was obviously taking in the well-armed teenagers and preteen.

“Can I help you?” The man asked. His nametag said Grady but Lydia was not sure if that was a first or a last name.

“We would like to speak to the manager,” Lydia said calmly.

“I am sure I can help you and we do not need the manager,” Grady said. “Shouldn’t you be off at some school function?”

Lydia drew her sword from is scabbard. “We know about Jack, Grady. We’re here to stop him.”

“Don’t pull any tricks,” Nancy said and put on her best tough face.

“I don’t know what tricks I could possibly pull and I don’t know who this Jack is,” Grady said. “You would do well to turn around and go home before I call security to correct this situation.”

Rob pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired it directly at Grady. Lydia and Nancy screamed but noticed that Grady was not injured, he just dissipated in the pray from the shotgun. “Salt rounds,” Rob said. “It looks like we have some angry ghosts to deal with.”

“Great,” Lydia said. She ran behind the front desk and found some keys and tossed them to Nancy. “Nance, see if these will lock the front door. We don’t want to be interrupted.”

Nancy went to the front door and the key worked and she locked the sliding doors into place. She pocketed the keys and walked back over to regroup with the others. They checked the office and it was empty. They started down the nearest hallway, Lydia with her sword, Rob with his shotgun and Nancy with a poker that she had pulled from the lobby fireplace.

“Stay close, there’s bound to be more of those ghosts,” Rob said.

“Do I look like I’m afraid of ghosts?” Lydia asked. “Some of my best friends are ghosts.”

“You’re just afraid of one ghost,” Nancy said softly. Lydia shot her a look and Nancy shrugged.

“Not anymore,” Lydia said. “If I see him again, I’ll be ready.”

Nancy yelped as Rob’s shotgun went off again, dissipating another ghost. “I have a feeling that if we get rid of Jack, the ghost stuff might clear up?”

“I hope so,” Rob said. “Otherwise there are ways to get rid of ghosts for good too.”

“Wait, are there guests here?” Nancy asked.

“Not that I saw on my stakeout,” Rob said. “At least not living ones.”

“Then who are they?” Nancy asked as she pointed. She was pointing at a pair of children standing in the middle of the hallway ahead. The two young girls were identical with sunken eyes and plain dresses and looked absolutely out of place. As they were noticed by the heroic trio, their dead eyes seemed to come to life a little bit.

“Come play with us,” the girls said in unison.

“That’s super creepy,” Nancy said. “What do we do?”

Rob pointed his shotgun and fired and the little girls screamed as their bodies dissipated just like the other ghosts.

“Were you a hundred percent sure that they were ghosts?” Lydia asked.

“Ninety-seven percent. Maybe Ninety-six,” Rob said and shrugged.

“OK,” Nancy said. “That’s slightly less homicidal then, kiddo.”

“But only slightly,” Lydia said.

At the end of the hallway, there was suddenly a rumbling noise that started to get louder and louder. Rob aimed his shotgun until it was clear that whatever it was would not be bothered by salt fired from a shotgun.

“I think you pissed it off,” Lydia said.

The elevator doors slid open and thousands of gallons poured out of the elevator. After that first wave, what looked like millions of gallons started to pour, rushing down the hallway towards them. For a moment, all three of them stood there with their eyes wide. Nancy started to run in the opposite direction down the hallway. Lydia punched Rob in the shoulder.

“Run!” She yelled.


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