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Legacy [A Narrative]

The Wish

The ride up was a lot more disappointing than the elf had expected. He had thought maybe he would encounter a portal, possibly some kind of magical hallway. Instead, he was currently sitting on an elevator. Not the most interesting way to travel, but it was still magic, of course. No cables, chains, or pulleys powered this ride. But goddamn if it wasn’t slow. He estimated that he’d been there for several hours, just listening to the hum of magic around him. The last few floors had been surprisingly easy. They weren’t overly complicated or dangerous, as he had come to expect. He guessed that made sense, considering they probably didn’t think about the potential growth of the tower ages ago. The elf himself couldn’t remember when the tower had been built, or who constructed these original floors, despite being older than both of those things. He sighed and lied back on the floor while he waited.
 He saw light at the top of the elevator shaft. Finally. He stood up and dusted himself off as the elevator came to a very gentle halt. He took a deep breath. He was sure that what he wanted would at least interest Quintara Lotus to some extent. Whether she actually granted the wish or not was another story. He walked through the doorway and ended up in a place he was not entirely expecting; but then again he didn’t really know what to expect. He was in a lounge room, with silky curtains and soft beds full of fluffy pillows. There were pleasant smelling candles burning in windowsills. He felt relaxed. There was movement in the far back of the room. He knew who it would be. He walked shakily towards the figure, trying to steady his nerves.
 She sat there across the bed, kicking her legs back and forth with a small pillow under her arms. He had to stop for a moment, and take everything in. She looked exactly as he thought she would. The perfect woman. To him, at least. Aside from the scaley parts of her skin, and the tail flicking across her back. Of course, she had been expecting him.
“ Greetings, elf.” She cocked her head at him. “Roygo… Roygo Gilamore, is that correct?”
 “ That is very correct. I believe you know what I’m hear for.”

She giggled at him. “ Oh, I do. But something tells me that you have a very… specific wish in mind for me today.”
He took a deep breath and pulled his scraggly beard. This was going to take some explaining.
 “ I’m sure that a being such as yourself understands the concept of a legacy.”
 “ Yes, I do. I’m going to assume your wish has something to do with gaining one?”
“ In a way. I have a very… special request to ask of you. My family is not impressive. None of us are especially gifted in any art. We are not extremely wealthy. We are not very prestigious. I have lived enough time to see my family grow, and be happy and content with their lives. I will tell you one thing. I am not a very arrogant or ambitious man. I don’t crave any of the things I’ve listed that I do not have. But I want it for my family. For my loving wife. All of my cousins, brothers, sisters, and children. I am the head of a house with no authority, yet I still have the respect of all of them. It eats me at night. It brings guilt to my heart that they don’t have better. So here is my wish, dragon. When I return home, I am going to make love to my wife. I am going to tell her that I wished for extreme fortune for our family. I am going to impregnate her. I beseech you to bless this child. Give them the most powerful blessing you can imagine. Please. Give this child a chance of greatness that none of my family has. I promise you that this gift will not be used in vain. I will make sure of that. This is an extreme request. I know that. But I beg you to agree.”

She was silent for a good while after hearing this. Beads of sweat poured down Roygo’s face. She chewed her bottom lip, toying with the idea in her mind. Roygo was good at reading people, even if those people were immortal dragons. It troubled him that she was taking so long to make a decision. She smiled mischievously after a moment.
 “ This is indeed quite an… interesting request. I like it. I love it. I don’t recall any of my siblings giving out these kinds of blessings. Okay, elf, I will grant this wish. My Magic is already inside your wife. Go now, and create your child. Do not squander this gift.”

Roygo just about pissed himself in excitement. His whole body was shaking, up and down. He was about to start crying, in front of one of the most powerful beings in existence. He nodded weakly and made for the elevator.
“ Oh! Wait, there is one thing I wish to give you before you leave.”

He turned around to her, and she was holding what appeared to be… an egg.
“ This is a special egg I’ve been fermenting. I want you to take it. If this child is going to be your family’s legacy, this will certainly add to it.”

He was more confused than anything. But he accepted the gift. She opened a portal to the ground floor of the Tower of Ultimate Wizardry for him, and as he turned around once more before leaving, she gave him a sly wink.



  • edited September 2017

    Birth of a Gilamore

    It was a girl. Well, it was going to be a girl. Roygo was so happy when the clerics told him. They said that it was unusual to be able to sense the amount of life she was giving off inside the womb at this point. He knew exactly why. He didn't tell them. Or anyone else. The family was even more excited. Roygo and Cynthia hadn't had a child in a very long time. Their son Lancelot was the crowning achievement of the family, and he was absolutely fanatic about a baby sister. Everyone was happy. Roygo still worried, despite the confirmation the Dragon Aspect herself had given him. He couldn't stop worrying that something could go wrong. He needed to tell someone what he did. He somehow felt guilty about something that he hadn't even caused yet. So one night during a celebration, he brought his son out to a balcony. After making sure they were alone for some time, he began to speak.

      " Son, I love you. I love your mother. And I'm going to love your sister as well. I know that you love them as well. So I have something I need to tell you. To get off my shoulders."

      " Dad, you sound like you're about to tell me you killed a man. What do you need to say? you know you can trust me."

      " Yeah, I know I can. Listen, Lance, I'm just going to get straight to the point here. There's no reason for me to sugarcoat it if I'm going to tell you." Roygo leaned against the railing on the balcony, not facing his son. " Don't tell your mom this. Or anyone else. Not even a member of the family. And I'll tell your sister when the time is right."

      " Dad, what exactly did you?"

    He sat quietly for a few minutes, and began speaking again.

      " Your sister is going to be special. Very special. I made sure of that. That's what I really wished for up in the Tower. Her Magic is already manifesting, and she hasn't even been born yet, Lance. She's going to be strong. Stronger than the two of us. Than anyone else in this family. I'm gonna make sure of that. I'm gonna make sure that she gets a life that I couldn't earn for the rest of you. But I'm scared, Lance. Scared for your mother. I don't know how the hell Quintara's gift is going to affect her actually giving birth. I've been praying every night before we go to sleep for her safety. I don't know what to do. I needed to tell someone. I'm sorry for overloading you with this. Take a minute to process it."

    Lancelot stood there with his father in the darkness, thinking. Just thinking. Because he really didn't know what to think.

      " Listen, dad. This all sounds... crazy, for lack of a better word. I don't really know what to say. Expect that I hope that nothing bad happens. But... if something does go wrong. I don't think I'll blame you. I know you try to do everything for us. I'll keep this a secret. Until I get the okay from you, at least. I'm gonna head back inside. Mom is probably missing us. C'mon, let's go, dad."

       You're probably right. I wouldn't want to make your mother wait."

    The pair walked back inside to join the throng and enjoy themselves. Roygo actually managed to sleep with peace for a night since his return from the Tower.


    The actual birth had gone well, but the aftermath had not. Roygo and Lancelot were standing off to the side, each of them holding one of Cynthia's hands as the clerics crowded around her body. Things were darkening. The baby had already been delivered, and she was perfectly fine. The problem was her mother. Cynthia's skin had gone pale, and she wasn't moving. Two of the clerics had already passed out and had to be replaced, because of the amount of energy they were pouring into her body to combat whatever the hell was killing her. Roygo had thrown up in a corner of the room earlier. He was terrified. His wife was dying. It was entirely his fault. In the arm that wasn't holding onto his wife's, Roygo held his daughter. Radiant, and full of life. He wanted to cry. But he didn't. He wasn't going to lose one family member to gain another. To hell with that. Roygo didn't really know what he was doing at that point. He silently cupped both of his wife's arms together, and placed their child inside them. She looked around at all the different people crowded around her, the shouting, the sadness, and began crying. She flung her shorts arms to the chest of her mother, burrowing into a pitiful, one-sided embrace. 

    Cynthia coughed. She coughed again, and sat up quickly, not even realizing that her child was now sitting on her lap. The clerics fell back away from her, clearly confused as to how she was alive. Roygo and Lancelot exchanged a long look with each other. Then Roygo rushed to his wife's side. 

      " Sweetheart, are you ok? Does anything feel wrong? Are-"

    She held up a finger to him as she coughed some more and cleared her throat. And then she looked down at the baby who was staring back up at her.

      " Oh... Roy, is this our daughter?" She picked up the baby and was now holding it in her arms. She was the happiest Roygo had seen her in a long time.

      " I haven't gotten to do this since Lance was a baby. I guess all my motherly instincts will have to come back to me, eh?"

      " Shit, I'm just glad you're okay enough to joke, honey. I don't know what I would've done if we'd lost you."

      " Well it's a good thing you didn't, isn't it?" She smiled back at him in the way that had sparked their romance.

    They traveled home by train. Cynthia was deeply asleep with the baby in her arms. Serena, they had decided. Serena Gilamore. She was also currently asleep in her mother's embrace. Lancelot and Roygo were seated across from each other.

      " So. Dad. Are we just not going to discuss what happened? A baby completely healed mom of everything wrong with her. Several minutes after coming out of the womb."

      " I know! It's incredible, isn't it! She's amazing, Lancelot. Good lord, Quintara Lotus actually did it. As for your mother, I'm just glad she's ok. I meant everything I said about losing her. But now we can welcome the newest edition to the family. We can teach her about her gifts later."

    Lancelot leaned in to whisper to his baby sister.

      " Welcome to the family, Serena."

  • Making Friends? Part I

    The wall of the manor was tall and foreboding. Durable stone, a very smooth surface, yet there were no guard towers, or spikes, or anything of real danger impeding someone from climbing it. Most thieves would have found this unnerving. Suspicious. The one studying it from the ground thought otherwise. She thought of it as an opportunity. The lean dwelf put down her lantern, cracked her knuckles, and began swinging her grappling hook up towards the wall.

      " Bit late to be out thieving, don'tcha think?"

    The thief spun around, a curved dagger in her off-hand. She searched blindly in the dark for where the voice had just come from. Finally, she saw the outline of someone sitting in a tree. She heard the snap of fingers, and a small orb of fire illuminated who was sitting there. A woman, appearing a bit older than the thief, was relaxing in the branches. She was dressed similarly to the thief, both of them wearing dark leather garments and cloaks. The only real difference between them was their faces. The woman was an elf, with the definitive ears and a sharper face. The thief's own face was much more rounded. 3/4 dwarf blood would do that to a person. The thief cut straight to the point with her first questions.

      " Who the fuck are you? And exactly how long have you been watching me from over there?"

    The woman blinked down to the ground and dusted herself off. " You can call me Vann. And I've been watching you since you got here. I'm gonna tell you right now, going into that place isn't a very good idea if you're planning on robbing it."

      " And why would that be? Are you one of their guards? Or maybe you're just trying to get rid of competition. I highly doubt that you're being honest with me."

      " While I will admit that you don't really have a reason to trust me, you're already going into this heist completely blind. If I tell you that I can help, why not take the extra risk? What do you really plan to accomplish by climbing that wall? Do you even have a plan?"

    An uncomfortable silence followed this statement for a few minutes. Finally, the thief sighed. 

      " Okay, fine. I'll team up with you. If you know what you're doing, lead the way. We can work out how to split it later."

    The woman smiled and began walking towards the wall. She outstretched her hand for the thief to grab. " Alright then. Hold onto my arm. My way of moving is a lot faster than climbing."

    The thief felt a bit of nausea as she was teleported on top of the wall. Looking around, the actual manor house was still quite a ways in the distance. The thief was disappointed. This looked much easier than it had appeared. The look must have been telegraphed, because Vann patted the thief on the shoulder.

      " Ah, don't look so sad yet. I guarantee that this is much more exciting than you think it is. Look over there, to the left. You see what I'm pointing at over there?"

    The thief squinted and looked in the direction. At first the thief didn't see anything as her eyes adjusted to the night, and there was evidently nothing, but soon enough she noticed that the shadows seemed to be shifting on the far side of the manor. Almost like something was moving.

      " What... what is that over there? I can't really see too well."

      " I'll give you one hint. That shadow belongs to a beast."

    The thief's eyes widened. " There's no way. No creature is that big. Besides... I dunno... maybe a dragon?"

      " Correct! That thing you see moving is a whelpling, almost fully grown and owned by this family. Let's try our best to avoid that side of the estate, shall we? I'd rather not end up as a toothpick."

    The thief swallowed the lump in her throat. This was suddenly a lot more dangerous again. They blinked down to ground level. The majority of the trek up to the actual house consisted mostly of traversing some light woods. There were still no guards or patrols yet, but the thief knew exactly why now and hoped that the whelpling didn't have a good nose. As they approached the south side of the main house, the thief took the opportunity to ask a few questions about her strange partner.

      " So... how exactly do you know about this place? Like, about the fact that they have a fucking dragon as a guard dog? Seems a little convenient to me."

      " Well, it should be pretty obvious by now that I'm pretty good at spell-casting. I simply used Invisibility to sneak in through the front gate and scout the place. I've been inside the house, almost every room, every floor, and around most of the grounds outside."

      " So then you are a fellow thief. Makes sense that you would look around so thoroughly. Do you know the route to their vault, or storeroom or whatever?"

      " Yes, I actually do know a good route to take. But two people taking it is a lot harder than someone who's invisible taking it. And I wanna clarify, right now, that I am not a thief."

      " But if you aren't a thief... why are you helping me? Why come here at all?"

    Vann gave the thief a mischievous grin. " I like to consider myself a thrill-seeker. I like adventure. I like to have fun. Helping you seems like a lot of fun, so I'm doing it. Do I really need more of a reason?"

      " I guess not really."

    Vann nodded in agreement as they crouched down. They were at the edge of the treeline. 

      " Well, my young thief. Ready to begin?"

      " Yeah. And before we go in, I thought you'd like to know that my name is Alice."

     " Cool. Let's go."

  • Making Friends? Part II

     Vann pointed up at the second floor of the manor.

      " Okay, you see that balcony over there? That's where we're gonna enter. That whole side of the manor is bedrooms, and I happen to know that the occupant of that room isn't there right now. They probably wont be back for a while."

      " Why? Where are they?"

      " Let's just say she likes to wander."

     Accepting this vague answer, the two of them sneaked further up until they were among the hedges at the base of the house. They were directly underneath the balcony. Expecting to teleport, Alice held onto Vann's shoulder and they blinked upwards, landing softly on the stone floor. Alice got out a set of lockpicks to start working on the door. As she turned around, Vann had already opened it and was walking inside. She was either the stupidest or the cockiest pseudo-burglar Alice had ever worked with. It amazed her. She followed suit, quietly closing the door behind them.

     The first thing Alice took note of was the decor. There was a four-post bed in the corner of the room, and a small mahogany desk parallel to it. Several large wardrobes lined the walls on each side of the bed. The other half of the room contained several chairs seated around a brick fireplace, and several bookshelves. They were chock-full of different volumes and novels. She was impressed with the collection of knowledge here. There were two adjacent rooms, them being a bathroom and a small study where even more bookshelves were housed. There were arcane symbols drawn all over the walls in this room; Alice made note of this as she left. Searching the wardrobes revealed scores of woman's clothing, which could've been sold for a decent price, but Alice wasn't looking for that kind of loot at the moment. Searching the rest of the room revealed no jewelry or overly-expensive items, so they decided to move deeper in. After quietly opening the door, they took a left turn and started tip-toeing down the hall. Vann whispered that the room next-door was worthless, so they moved on to the one at the end of the hall. As they approached, they realized that some light was coming from underneath the door-frame. Cautiously sneaking forward, they could hear voices on the other side. It sounded like two men arguing, but the duo couldn't make out any words. Vann motioned for her companion to back up so that they could continue on their way. Vann suddenly realized something, and turned around to warn Alice in a harsh whisper.

      " Be careful! The floor got waxed this morni-"

     But she didn't get time to finish her sentnece as Alice took an uncertain step and slipped backwards, making a loud banging noise as she hit the marble floor.

      Shit, was the only word Vann could think of in the few seconds she had to act. The voices in the room had stopped talking. She could hear footsteps. Before Alice could even sit up, she had shot a spell at her. The thief uttered a squeak as she was Polymorph'd into a small rat. She scurried behind a nearby plant pot. The double-doors of the room swung open, and an elf wearing a scowl walked out.

     Alice's first instinct was to panic. She hadn't exactly experienced a polymorph before, and it was freaky as hell. She ran behind the pot and poked her new furry head past the side. She was utterly confused about what was before her. Her partner in crime was nowhere to be seen, instead replaced by a much younger female elf. In the doorway stood a much older man, with crossed arms. He began speaking to the young girl.

      " Serena, why are you up so late? You know tomorrow is important."

      " Oh, uh... I'm sorry dad, I just couldn't sleep. Nervous jitters and all that stuff."

    The older elf smiled. " There's nothing to be nervous about, sweetheart. You and Rohbear have met before. It's just to discuss how they're going to treat you in the council. Just think of it as him explaining the rules to you."

      " Thanks for the reassurance. Is Lance in there? Tell him I said goodnight."

      " Alright, I will. Now go to bed, young lady." He walked back inside and closed the door.

    The young girl let out a huge sigh. She turned around and crouched down towards the plant.

      " Okay Alice, I'll break the spell now."

    Alice felt herself turning back into her normal self, and patted her body to confirm that everything was in the right place.

      " What the hell just happened? Vann, is that you?"

    The girl's entire body started changing, growing in height and shape until she became the mage from before. Vann grinned.

      " I'm pretty good at illusions, as you can see."

     They quickly made their way down a different hallway, and took a breather in a small supply closet. Alice narrowed her eyes at her partner, who was in the process of looking right back at her.

      " You sure know an awful lot about these people."

      " Yeah, well I've spent the last few weeks basically living here. The conversations are certainly interesting."

      " Hmm... what was that guy talking about back there? About a council? Does he mean..."

      " Yes, he meant the one you're thinking of. From what I can gather, his daughter is gonna join it for some reason. Not sure why. They're really secretive about it, even in their own home."

      " You think that girl could be valuable? Maybe we pay her a visit when she actually gets back to her room..."

      " Actually, I'd rather not add kidnapping to a list of accusations in case we get caught."

      " Well then, can we get to then loot already? How fucking long have we been here?"

      " If you're that eager, the vault is in the basement. Let's make some money."

      " Finally, some damn progress!"

  • These are pretty cool!
  • Making Friends? Part III [Final]

     The stairway to the basement was located in an obscure corner of the first floor. On the way down they had almost been discovered by a few servants that were getting ready for the next morning, but they managed to slip past  them without a problem. The pair then passed through several wine cellars, until eventually the walls turned to natural stone. The entrance of a small tunnel. Vann stopped in her tracks.

      " This is the way to the vault.' She thought for a moment. " Actually, I probably shouldn't call it a vault. It's not very grand or anything, and it's not even that well guarded. It's kind of just... a room. At the end of this tunnel."

      " I'm not a picky thief. Let's get this over with."

    Vann walked confidently ahead with no precaution, so Alice took suit. If they were gonna get caught for making a stupid decision, it would've happened a while ago. The tunnel eventually narrowed until the pair had to walk in single file, but it didn't take too long to reach the end. A steel door with several locks was blocking their path.

      " Well, this is it. I'm not exactly good at lockpicking, and I'd rather not blast it open. Sooo..."

      " Yeah, yeah; I get it. Move aside."

     Vann blinked behind her accomplice as Alice layed out her entire kit before her on the ground. She scratched her chin as she inspected the locks. Different designs were gonna need different picks. She really wished she had a skeleton key right about now. After choosing the proper tools, she set to work. The first lock came off easy; it was the biggest and gave her the most room to maneuver around in. The other two took a bit longer. They were both smaller, and the last one had some kind of magical seal on it that she had to get Vann's help to break. The door was surprisingly heavy, so they both had to put their weight into the door to move it open.

     Alice was not impressed. The room was almost completely bare. The walls were made of thick steel, and there was a safe on the wall opposite the door. But other than that, there was literally nothing in the room.

      " There better be a solid gold dragon egg in that safe or I'm gonna be really fucking angry."

      " I thought you weren't a picky thief? Anyhow, relax. There's stuff to grab. Trust me."

      " Hmmph." Alice took a small pouch off of her belt, and the bag of holding expanded to the size of a large sack. She put it on the ground and began cracking the safe. Vann sat back against the wall behind them and waited.

      " I got it!" Alice yelled excitedly after a few minutes, startling Vann. She quickly sat up.

     Alice began pulling the safe's handle to open it. Vann leaned over her shoulder. What Alice saw inside was... completely normal. There were several stacks of Gold bars inside the safe, on two different shelves. Any noble family could've had this kind of wealth stowed away behind a painting, or under a bed somewhere. It really disappointed her. Coming from this house, with it's mysterious owners, had really put the image in her mind of some unique treasure to plunder. Maybe some statuettes, magical artifacts, or anything besides what she was seeing. But a heist was a heist. She reluctantly began loading all of the bars into her bag.

      " You look... kinda disappointed. You're not satisfied?"

      " It's not that. This is a fortune. I don't do too many jobs like this that often. It's just kinda lame."

      " Well then. I don't really know what to do about that."

      " Let's just get the hell outta here."

      " Agreed."

     The duo backtracked the same way that they had come in. The resident of the bedroom still hadn't returned by the time they were off of the balcony. They ran through the woods, didn't attract the attention of the whelpling, and safely got back over the wall. Once they had traversed far enough to make it back to an actual road, they stopped and caught their breath.

    Panting, Alice wiped her sweaty forehead and looked over at her partner in crime.

      " All in all, I gotta hand it to you; that was a good heist. Thanks for all the help."

      " It was, wasn't it? We didn't even run into too many complications."

      " Guess not." Alice straightened up and patted her bag of holding. " Well... I guess I should go now. Maybe we can work together again sometime?" She turned toward Vann to hear her reply.

     And was hit with a wave of confusion.

     Sitting on a tree stump was not her partner, but instead the form of the young girl that she had taken on from earlier. She was smiling coyly at Alice.

      " Um... any particular reason you're using that illusion again?"

      " On the contrary, Alice, I've already broken the illusion."

     This took a second to comprehend.

      " Wait, what the hell do you mea-" But Alice wasn't able to finish that sentence.

    As she started talking the girl had rushed forward, leaving a trail of lightning behind her. Alice didn't have time to react properly, and felt a solid right hook connect with her face. But it wasn't a normal punch. Time seemed to slow down for Alice, and every second of the pain lasted for an agonizing eternity. She had time to take in every detail on the girl's face. She was grinning now. All of a sudden, time resumed it's normal speed. Alice collapsed to the ground.

     She just sat there, on her hands and knees, gasping for air after the attack. She felt her bag of holding being removed from her belt, but wasn't exactly in a condition to do anything about it.

      " I'll just be taking this, now. I'm not gonna let you actually leave with some of our gold. As for anything else in here, well I'm sure we can work that out at some other time."

      " wha.. what the fuck... is going on..." Alice felt like her jaw was broken in ten different places.

      " Allow me to explain. After the entertainment you've given me tonight, you deserve as much."

     Alice groggily was allowed onto her knees, and the girl sat back down on the stump, the bag in hand.

      " I don't know if you're fully comprehending this right now, So I'll keep it simple. Obviously I'm not who I said I was. Vann is just a name I came up with on the spot. However, I am actually the 'wandering' resident of the house that I told you about. Midnight strolls are nice, am I right?"

     Alice was still shaky. " Wha.. why?" was all that she could get out. She could tell her jaw was definitely broken now.

      " I told you before that I liked to have fun, right? That part was truthful. Going on this robbery with you was a lot of fun. It was exciting! And I think you're a pretty okay person, for a thief. We should do more stuff like this some time. But in the meantime... I do have to be returning this gold. Of course, all of our actual valuables are in a vault in Than'drellfal. Not a lot of big families would be dumb enough to hide all their stuff at their homes. And one final thing before I go. I have to take care of you for now."

     Alice was suddenly very afraid. She shakily stood up and held her fists in a fighting stance. This turned out to be an extremely bad idea, as Serena promptly froze both of her hands together in a solid block of ice. Alice slurred something that couldn't be understood.

      " Oh, I should probably take care of that while I remember."

     She placed her hand on Alice's chin and let Light magic pour into her. Alice could feel her jawbone being put back into place by it. She wasn't really expecting an act of kindness at this point.

      " So... you're helping me... even though I tried to rob you... and you helped me rob you... and now you're also robbing me?"

      " Don't over-complicate things. Just feel lucky that I let you off this easy. Now get out of here."

     The disgruntled thief didn't really have a choice whether to stay or not. She started walking. If she didn't find a sturdy boulder or a tree to smash it on, the ice wouldn't melt for hours. She thanked every divine that she had chosen to wear long gloves. Before she got too far away, the elf yelled one last thing at her that she turned around to hear.

      " If you ever need help with something, you know where to find me!"

     She was doubly confused now. She didn't really want to think about it, though. The sun was rising. The last thing she needed was for some asshole to spot her, completely defenseless, and get robbed a second time of everything else she had. What a tiring night.

  • edited September 2017
    also those are really nice :) 
    Fuck yeah IMA BIRB!
  • @Snarky Getting a thumbs up from porn elf is a pretty big milestone in my book!
  • Dreaming Big Part I

     The Dreamworld is big. Well, big is not the right word to explain the size. Infinite is a better term. That's what Serena thought as she looked around. This wasn't the first time she had accidentally dragged herself into the Dreamworld in her sleep. She sighed. Usually there wasn't much to do in here until she woke up. Walking literally never got her anywhere. She really wondered how the Dreamworld functioned, considering the terrain she was in. With her instructors, she had managed to pull them into the Dreamworld after several tries, and it looked almost the exact same as the place they were in. The few times she had been there while she slept, the Dreamworld was a swirling mass of color and clouds, always moving, always shifting. Sometimes shapes would materialize out of the clouds, and fade away in moments. Sometimes people she knew, or complete strangers, would walk out of the clouds and join her on the long walk. She didn't know if they were actually there or not, so most of the time she just assumed it was her subconscious giving her something to do.

     This time, she hadn't seen anyone for a long while. That was kind of weird. Usually at least something would've happened by now. She guessed that the Dreamworld understood this, because some of the cloudy areas up ahead were turning dark grey. This was the first time this had happened so far, so Serena sped up to see what was going on. Standing in the midst of this dark area yielded nothing, however. She turned to start walking in a different direction when she heard a sound coming from nearby. The clouds around her started to take on more defined and sharp shapes, until they began looking like the walls of tight alleys and compact buildings of a city. She listened more closely, and could make out the sound better. It was the heavy footfall of someone who was wildly running. It was coming towards her, and soon she heard someone very close by start panting, and the footsteps started slowing down. A person limped out from one of those alleys, and was now catching their breath when they locked eyes with Serena. It didn't take much for the two former partners-in-crime to recognize each other.

     The young blonde woman's mouth was agape for a minute. " It's... It's YOU!"

     Serena still didn't really think this was real. Just another apparition to talk to.

      " Mhm. So what brings you to this part of town?"

     Alice was bewildered. " What... What brings me here? What the fuck are you talking about!? I'm trying to figure that out! Why the fuck are YOU here!? Where even is 'here'?"

     Suddenly this felt a lot more real to Serena.

      " Wait, are you real?"

      " What does that even mean!?"

      " Um... How do I go about this... What's the last thing you remember before getting here?"

      " What? I don't know, I guess I fell asleep or something. But listen, I-"

      " Huh, that would explain a lot. You're in the Dreamworld right now. Maybe somehow I dragged you in here by proxy. I didn't know I could do that. Hmm... maybe I should try to come here on purpose for once."

      " No, wait I seriously need you to listen right now! This is probably the only chance I'll get to ask somebody. Oh man, I am so FUCKED!" Alice looked very panicked and on the verge of tears.

      " Whoa, whoa, just calm down for a second. What's wrong?"

      " I'm in some deep shit right now, and I seriously need help. Like, as in my life is in danger."

      " Okay, that's great, but you have to actually explain why if I'm gonna be able to help you."

     Alice sighed. " Okay, I'll try to keep this brief. I was snooping around in the usual manor that I do, scoping out a target. It's this gang of smugglers down on the docks of a city called Rogueport. It's kind of a shithole. But these guys smuggle some pretty high-end stuff onto the streets and to other criminals. So I thought that I'd get in on the action, unofficially of course. Problem was that they were a lot more vigilant than I expected. And there were a lot more guards than I expected, too. I didn't get very far into their warehouse when they caught me. And long story short... I'm currently sitting nice and tight inside of a barrel. And it's a bit embarrassing, but I kinda... can't escape. And I'm seriously starting to panic. I've been their prisoner for a couple days now and they've started talking about loading me up on the first ship they can find. I need fucking help. I-"

     The clouds were starting to swirl upwards around them. Serena didn't hear the last few words that came out of her friend's mouth as she too was suddenly rocketing upwards through the vortex. She knew what this meant.

     She sat up, fully awake. Not missing a beat, she got out of bed and began dressing as fast as possible. After grabbing a small backpack, she rushed out of her room and downstairs. She tried to avoid anyone she saw as to not complicate things or waste time, and made her way into the storeroom to gather some supplies. If she needed Gold she could just conjure it. After this, she opened up a window and blinked outside. She contemplated taking Ridge instead of travelling on foot to this city, but a gigantic dragon would probably draw a lot of attention. Ridge must've sensed his master thinking about him, because Serena could hear the ground shaking. She groaned. It looked like her cover had been blown by her 15-Ton pet. As he got close she could see that he had been chewing on the pesky family of lacerators that had moved onto the property. He was amazing at pest control.

     He began nuzzling his master affectionately, which wasn't hard considering that his nose was the length of her body.

      " Ridge, I really don't have time to play right now. I have someplace that I have to go. It's really important, okay?"

     She felt the wave of telekinetic magic pass through her head.

      " Okay. Maybe when you get back?"

      " Sure, buddy. I promise. We can fight and you can help me practice some Ice Magic. That'll be fun!"

     He snorted ash onto her, and started stomping away. She really was proud of him. She could never find any document or books containing evidence of any other whelpling be able to communicate like this. He couldn't even actually talk. But this way, when they talked, it felt a lot more personal. He couldn't talk telepathically to anyone else, to her knowledge. Well, she might as well make a run for it now that the whole house was awake. Unfortunately, someone was already standing at the front gate, apparently busy with something.

     She hadn't really been paying attention, just looking back at the house to make sure no one was following her, when she ran head-first into her big brother's back. She bounced off and hit the ground, dazed. Lancelot turned around.

      " Hey, sis. Bit early to be going somewhere, isn't it? Where are you trying to run off to?"

     He was inquisitive, but he was also protective as hell. Serena knew better than to lie to him.

      " I'm just gonna come straight out; I need to go to a city called Rogueport. A friend of mine is in danger there. I talked to her in the Dreamworld."

      " Okay."

     He was also extremely understanding. He knew she was probably telling the truth. 

      " Let's go, then."

     That was a surprise to her. She usually didn't involve family on her antics.

      " Uh... us? As in the two of us?"

      " I'm not exactly gonna let you go by yourself to a city you've never been to before. I'll go get my tarandor. Don't run off without me."

     Things would certainly get interesting with Lance on board.

  • edited September 2017

    Dreaming Big Part II [Final]

     Alice slumped her head against the side of her wooden prison. The barrel was made of thick wood, and the fuckers had nailed it shut. Her only source of light, air, and outside sound was a few tiny holes in the side of the barrel. She grunted into her gag, but there wasn't much she could do about her current situation. Tied from head-to-toe in a tight ball, movement was out of the equation altogether as well. Her only hope was that the girl who had tricked her a few weeks prior had actually been a part of the crazy dream she had. She did say that she could call her for help, right? But the more she thought about the dream, the more she thought about the details she had left out. She had given her, what, a city? Some docks? Not exactly a precise location to look. She tried to scream again and started struggling for a few seconds. If her arms weren't tied horizontally, she probably could've reached the switchblade she kept in her underwear. Thankfully they hadn't checked there for any hidden weapons. Not that it mattered. She stopped struggling and just sat there, trying to think of anything that could help.


     The city was pretty much how Alice had described it to her; it looked like a shithole from this distance. Lance had become more wary once she told him everything she knew, but she also knew that it would take more than some criminals to scare her brother. Riding into the city with the tarandor probably would've drawn a lot of attention, so they left it in the care of some shady gnomes at an inn a little ways outside of the walls. They didn't expect to see it again. They kept the hoods of their cloaks up the whole walk down to the docks, trying not to draw attention. The district containing the numerous warehouses was isolated from the rest of the buildings, and numerous guards patrolled every gate. After observing it for a while, they saw that only certain people were allowed in: people hauling large amounts of cargo, and people hauling... live cargo. Serena tried to conceal her rage as she witnessed what was clearly slave trafficking going on right across the street from them. Her attention was then drawn to the actual docks behind the fenced-in area. They were all empty. She prayed that her friend hadn't already been taken aboard a ship. Her brother turned to her.

      " Okay, Serena. I think I have a plan to get us in."

      " Oh yeah? And what exactly would that be?"

      " Well, I really don't like it, but It's our safest bet to not be discovered at first. All you have to do is Blink up to a rooftop, then to another one past the fence, and use Invisibility. After that, find your friend, signal me telepathically, and I'll create a distraction for you to bring her out. And then we run like hell and hope those damn gnomes didn't steal Ellon."

      " Okay. I guess it's worth a shot. What do I do if I'm caught?"

      " I know you don't like to, but kill them. We don't want future trouble, and I don't want anyone coming after you."

     Serena frowned at this.

      " I'll try to remember that."

     Lance sunk back into the shadows of the alley they were in, and Serena turned invisible to find a suitable spot. She chose one near the end of the row of warehouses; if she was going to have to search each building, she would check the farthest first. Getting down to the ground was easy, but to actually get inside was different. She had to wait until someone opened the back door and catch it before it closed behind them. There weren't any guards in this building, and the only containers there were some sacks. They were full of produce and flour. Even criminals had to have something to eat. The next building had an open window, so she blinked halfway through and hung there to see what was inside. It made her blood boil.

     She had found the pen where they kept their slaves. Men, women, children, old and young of all races were crammed together with their own filth in cages against the walls. They were all almost completely nude, or covered in so much filth that it looked like they were wearing paint on their bodies. Each of them had collars around their necks, which instinctively made Serena rub her own Silver Silk collar. They were all tagged with a number on their ears. A large porc was guarding the door here and he looked deeply asleep. Maybe she could obey Lance's command and turn him into bacon... But very reluctantly, she backed out of the window. Alice's captors would have no reason to move her there if they were keeping her themselves. If Serena was caught by her friend's captors, she would incinerate them. She knew that now. 

     She thought that the next building was the likely contender. Lots of guards, like Alice had said. There were large and small containers scattered around in groups. Lots of barrels. One by one, she began quietly knocking on all of these barrels when the guards weren't nearby. Not making any process, she thought that they probably wouldn't keep her in a random place around all the other goods. She made her way towards the back of the warehouse. There was a set of stairs that led to some kind of office, and a small door. She moved closer to the door. There was a small window with some bars on it, so she looked inside. It looked a miniature prison cell. Some manacles hung from the walls, straw was strewn around the floor... and a big barrel sat in the corner. Bingo. She used telekinesis to unlock the door. She smiled, knowing that she outclassed the thief in terms of lockpicking ability. She slowly crept through the doorway and closed it.


     Alice thought she was hallucinating. Lurching forward as far as her bonds allowed her to, she peered through a hole and thought that she witnessed the door unlock itself and close. She had definitely heard the scuffle of a boot on the ground. She determined she was going mad. Until the lid of the barrel popped right off, and a mess of chocolate-brown hair spilled into her face.

      " Did you miss me?" Whispered the mischievous voice of an angel.

      " Mmmphh! MMgghhh! Mgh mm MMH!" Alice attempted to respond.

      " Mm, I don't know Alice. That look kinda suits you."

     The thief glared at her rescuer. Serena struggled to get her out of the barrel and onto the ground. She ungagged her first, untying the cloth and taking the rag out of her mouth.

      " Fucking son of a bitch!" She muttered as the elf was cutting her loose. When her wrists were freed, she rubbed them. They were bleeding and there was some deep bruising. Serena put one hand on her arm as she cut Alice's legs free with her dagger. After a few moments she was completely fine, and free.

      " Well, I'm glad to see that I was actually talking to you and not having a fever-dream."

      " Maybe we can talk more after we leave?"

      " Oh, no. I'm not leaving yet. I've got a score to settle now. Do you have any explosives?"

      " I have my hands."

      " Good enough for me." 

     Lance wasn't exactly sure what his sister was doing, but that was one hell of a signal. Two of the warehouses had caught fire, and were being consumed by roaring infernos. It looked like the fire was coming under control now, but everything inside had surely been lost. He was getting ready to start when Serena popped into existence behind him. Startled, he whipped around.

      " Mark of summoning?"

      " Mark of summoning."

     Standing next to Serena was who he could only guess was her friend. She she and Serena exchanged some words, then she fled up the alley away from them.

      " Woman of few words?"

      " She went to make sure the gnomes didn't steal your moose."

      " He has a name."

      " Well so does Ridge."

      " Okay, fine, good point. Let's get out of here. Dad's probably wondering where the hell we are right now."

      " Do you think Alice could stay for a bit? I think dad would probably like to meet her."

     Lance stopped. He was looking at something in the distance.

      " I don't think that's gonna happen, sis."

      " Why not?"

      " Because she just stole my moose."

     Serena looked ahead and saw them galloping down the road. She grinned. It appeared that her friend would always be a thief, no matter the circumstances.

  • edited September 2017

    Short summaries of different groups/individuals + future ones

     I've been pretty fucky with new content here because I've just got a lot of thoughts in my head that I'm trying to put down into writing. Good concepts + amateur writing do not equal good shit. That's why I deleted the most recent story I had written. Sorry if you actually wanted to see a kid learn about magic, I didn't know how to continue it and it bummed me out. So I thought that taking some time to just jot down the shit I had come up with so far would be a good idea. People like that, right? Anyway, I went ahead and did that.

     1. The Gilamore Family. 

     The simplest to talk about because I don't really need to. They are the main focus besides in small side-plots that I'll be writing about other things mentioned in this comment. All you need to know is that there are 5 of them in our group: Roygo, Cynthia, Lancelot, Serena, and Argus; listed in order of oldest to youngest. It should be pretty obvious by now as to which of them our main focus is on. ( Argus will get another chance for a story since I deleted his first appearance.)

    2. Alice 

     Alice is a prideful thief with a series potty-mouth. Her pride isn't all that far-fetched though; she actually is quite skilled at what she does. She only really ever fails when she's sideswiped or doesn't know all the details of a job ( You should already know how well that went last time). Alice will also be getting standalone stuff that I'll be working on. I'm trying to work on a rotation of what characters to write about as well. I don't want to write 10 stories/chapters in a row of Serena/Alice adventures, that gets boring and stupid. I have some particular stories that I know I'll be doing, so I hope they'll be good.

    3. The Council

     I'm really nervous to do basically anything with the elven council because we haven't seen how they work yet but I did have some ideas for implementing them into the story. I'll probably mention them in name only and never actually set something in it.

    4. Fun stuff

     I've got some really fucking cool stuff that I've been brainstorming for the past few days. My favorite that I came up with has definitely got to be the Goro Clan. A band of criminals who are all, of course, Goros. All races, from Goblin to Ogre, are welcome in this gang. The only requirement? That you have 4 arms. They make a particular habit of taking in Goros when they're young to swell the ranks. Papa Goro, the 5-armed Ogre, leads the clan. His final word on any matter is law. Of course the clan has certain rules to keep infighting to a minimum; jobs are taken by the individual or assigned by Papa Goro. Every Goro gets to keep whatever money they make, no matter what. Two of the most prominent members of the clan are the Goro Twins; a pair of deadly dwarves that have never failed a job to this day. ( They may or may not be making an appearance in our story.) They're regarded as the clan's best fighters. Think of this clan as like The Khans from the Fallout universe, or The Phantom Troop from HunterxHunter.

    5. Some Shadowy Shit

     Not going to get too deep into a potential spoiler of something that I'm not even anywhere near close to writing yet, but there is definitely going to be a much larger, major scale plot. It's not just gonna be a collection of random stories that I came up with.

    That's pretty much all I got for now. I'll be trying to write something not related at all to either of our "heroines" and then the one focused on Alice.

  • The Nest Part I

     12. No, 15. No, wait, 20. The gun became unsteady in the Ranger's hands, and he finally released his breath and stopped looking through the scope. His gnomish-radio crackled to life.

      " Seymour, report in! How many do you spot by the entrance? Is it anything serious? "

     The Ranger glanced back down over the ridge. Probably two-dozen thralls wandering around down by the cave. Fuck. He fumbled the radio off of his belt, and began his answer.

      " Uh... sir, I don't really know. At least 20 are down there right now, but some more of them are just slowly ambling outside. I don't think they're really going anywhere. What should we do?"

     There was silence for a few minutes, but then Seymour got a reply from the other end.

      " Get back to camp, son. We'll discuss this more there. Everyone needs to be there when we come up with a plan. "

     Seymour breathed a sigh of relief and packed up his things. The trek back to the main camp would probably be the safest part of this mission.


     He walked past the faded red banner and back into the camp, his gun slung over his shoulder. Seymour's fellow paladins were squatting around the campfire cooking something when he got there. They looked up and waved at him, and then went back to their meal. Seymour walked past them towards the bigger of the two tents that they had pitched for the camp. Walking through the tarp entrance, he was met with the stench of alcohol and cigarettes. The captain was apparently nervous enough to be using both. 

     The captain noticed him as he walked up. He was studying a map of the region provided by the Order. There was a large, white X marked over the location of the spiders' nest. The captain looked up at Seymour as he entered, and they nodded at each other. He sighed and rubbed his eyes, and then beckoned Seymour outside. Seymour thought that he was probably going to address the whole squad at once. He followed suit.

     The measly squad stood at attention when the captain stepped outside of the "command tent." There were 7 of them in total, counting the captain. A Paladin and his squire, their demolitions expert, a mage, a healer, and then Seymour; the sharpshooter. What a collection they were. The captain began his address shortly after they were all ready to listen.

      " I know you guys are anxious to get out of here. I don't like camping out within 100 miles of a spiders' nest, let alone the distance we're at now. But we have a mission to carry out. And we finally got some new orders from HQ."

     They all glanced at each while the captain let this news sink in.

      " As you know, our orders so far have been to wait here and keep watch on the entrance while the other nests are cleared. Besides a few stray thralls, we haven't really had any trouble. But after I told HQ about the small horde Seymour spotted, they decided that we need to take some actions."

     The mage, Theodore, butted in. " And exactly what the hell does that mean? Are the 7 of us supposed to charge into the gates of hell?"

      " Yeah, real funny. No, this isn't a suicide mission. I'm not sending any of you out to die. All we have to do is reconnaissance the cave. We are not to engage any enemies, except for the ones outside. If we see a spider, we retreat immediately. If we find the queen, we retreat immediately and radio HQ. If we are somehow incapable of escaping, Moralis is to collapse the cave."

     At this point, he turned to the small gnome carrying all of the team's explosives. He was silently focused on the ground, his arms folded. The captain resumed his orders, this time turning to address the healer.

      " Linssa, I want you to stay in the back of the group. If someone gets poisoned by the spiders, you become invaluable. Even saying that, I don't want you to try and be a hero. I know this is... very morbid, but if there's even the slightest chance that we can't save someone, don't try. Is that understood?"

     Everyone looked at the elf. She was biting her lower lip, but she finally budged. 

      " Yes sir. I understand."

     The others knew that making the cleric forget about saving lives was something she hated with a passion. Seymour felt sorry for the girl. This probably wasn't the kind of work she had in mind when she joined the G.P.O. She was probably more interested in the humanitarian side of things. The sort of " help rebuild these poor kobolds' village" or "heal the sick and wounded." That sort of crap. So Seymour didn't feel too sad for her. Being naive like that got you a lot more than disappointed on an actual mission. It got you dead. At least her heart was in the right place.

      " Seymour, you're to take up position behind us when we take on the thralls. After that, I want you to stick to close quarters stuff. Your rifle isn't gonna be much use in a confined space like that. As for the rest of you, you're with me up front." The captain thought for another moment. " I think that's about all I need to say. All right squad, get ready. We roll out in the morning."

  • edited December 2017

    The Nest Part II

     One. Two. Three. Three shots, three splintered skulls. One was coming up behind Linssa. Bam, four. Captain Ramos and the meathead, Nacamara, had sent several waves of holy fire onto the undead, quickly thinning their numbers. Theodore and Moralis were more focused on keeping the thralls back than actually trying to attack them in case the noise attracted more. Even Nacamara's squire had gotten a few good hits in. Seymour noticed a particularly large one ambling in from the woods. Probably a blackboar in a time past. He had to put two bullets in the pig's skull to break it. The group on the ground looked around, checking for any stragglers. It seemed as if they had taken care of them all. Seymour checked himself, and climbed down from the tree he was in.

      " That was some damn fine shooting, son." Ramos felt the need to congratulate Seymour on something everyone already knew. Nacamara grunted in response. 

      " All in a day's work, I guess. Should we head on it?" Seymour was shouldering his rifle and starting to load his one-handed crossbow. He had a large combat knife, but he didn't really like using it. Range was a preferable advantage when dealing with monsters that breath in your face to kill you. He was getting out his special bolts when he noticed Nacamara's squire looking at something.

      " What are you looking at, kid? Another thrall we didn't see?"

     He frowned. " Um... no sir, I don't think so. I just thought I saw something move. Now I'm not so sure."

      " Well just keep an eye out. Chances are that if I didn't spot it, you didn't."

     The squire nodded at this. He still looked nervous.

     They gathered at the entrance to the cavern. The sticky material that the spiders weaved was already visible all over the natural stone. It had a sickly purple color. They were all about to enter when Nacamara shouted at his squire.

      " Hey, pipsqueak! Are you comin' or what? Get over here!"

     His squire had not moved from his previous spot. He did not heed Nacamara's call. It looked like he was shaking. Obviously angry, Nacamara marched towards the young boy.

      " Squire! What the hell do you think you're doing? You wanna go chase fairies in the woods, you little turd? You spot some spirits in the trees? Huh? What is it? Answer me!"

     Linssa decided to butt heads with him.

      " Hey, you don't need to be so rough with him! He's just a kid!"

      " What the hell do you know?"

     They argued back and forth for a few minutes, and this didn't bother Seymour. The squire was bothering Seymour. A lot. He still hadn't moved. Wait. His head was moving... he was looking at something. Seymour started following the same path his head was moving in. His eyes widened, and he immediately bolted towards the trio.

      " FUCKING MOVE!" He yelled at them, and the arguing pair turned to him, startled. He tackled Linssa, knocking them both into Nacamara and creating a dog-pile of angry people a few feet from where they had just been. Seymour turned around to yank the kid down, but it was too late. Frozen with fear, the squire didn't move as a small shape leaped out of the foilage towards him. It was a goblin. He was dripping in some kind of liquid that looked like... oil. Seymour realized all of this in the split second before the goblin attached itself to the squire's chest in a bear-hug. He had already stood up and was taking aim at the goblin when it erupted into flames. 

     The squire finally started doing something. And it was screaming. It was the scream of an animal in the middle of its death throes. The oil from the goblin's skin had splattered all over the squire, and he was being burned alive. The flames engulfed his entire body. Seymour's teeth were gritted, and his aiming arm was shaking. He couldn't shoot the kid. But he couldn't kill the goblin without doing that. He didn't have the time to make a decision. The squire collapsed onto the ground, still on fire. That wasn't the worst part. Linssa screamed.

     The goblin was getting up. Ageless. Of course. Seymour scrambled backwards and fired several bolts into his head. He fell over, dead. None of them spoke for a long time. Linssa and Nacamara were still on the ground. They were stunned. Nacamara slowly got up and crawled over to the corpse of his squire. He was speechless. Seymour wasted no time and glided into the woods. He checked the surrounding area for several minutes in case more of the little fuckers tried to ambush them. He found nothing. When he returned to the group, a sheet was covering the squire's body. There was a dreary silence in the group. The captain finally spoke up, trying to get back on track.

      " We should... we should get to work. I'll make sure that his body is sent to his parents."

     Nacamara spoke up. " He didn't have any. He was the survivor of an ageless raid on a village."

     Nobody had half-expected Nacamara to know a single thing about his squire based on the way he treated him. He started walking towards the entrance of the nest. He turned back to them.

      " Are we doing this, or what?"

  • I haven't read through all these yet, but they're really good so far. Good Job :smilebold:
  • edited September 2017

    The Nest Character Sheets






  • The Nest Part III

    The cave was a labyrinth. They didn't know where they were heading, or even in what direction at that point, but Moralis was carefully scribbling a map for them to retrace by the light of a lantern as they walked. The narrow walls of the tunnel they had been following was starting to get gradually wider. The captain suddenly signaled for them to halt. The cavern had opened up into a larger area. The oozing cobwebs of the spiders lay on every surface. All of their weapons were drawn, ready for anything that they might encounter. Seymour was mostly on edge for more goblins. If one ageless goblin was hanging around, chances were that a whole clan or tribe was with them. The tunnels were the perfect place for the little fuckers to ambush them.

     Walking carefully forward, the crunch of bones and the squishing of the fleshy webs were the only noises they made as they traversed the open space. They spread out, finding that the room was basically empty besides for a few piles of bones, and the pathway that led further in. Looking around, Ramos gave the all-clear symbol. They all breathed a sigh of relief. Moralis crouched down on the ground and flattened his map out, revising any errors that he could find. Linssa had summoned up an orb of Light and was inspecting the walls. The others, besides Seymour, were looking into the tunnel that led deeper in. It was more cleanly shaped, almost like it had been man-made. The 3 men were discussing the probabilities of finding miners down here; but they came to the solid conclusion that even if they were still here, they were either dead, or they were undead. So it didn't really matter. Seymour was searching the walls, inspecting the webbing for any area that wasn't acidic like the ones the spiders puked. He was using one of his crossbow bolts to do this just in case he were to stumble upon something dangerous. Eventually, he felt something more solid, and his bolt actually penetrated slightly deeper into the wall. Swinging up his lantern, Seymour realized that there was something in front of him.

      " Hey, Ramos! I found something over here."

     The whole squad was now crowding around the part of the wall that Seymour had pointed out. Ramos stuck his gauntlet forward into it, and discovered that it was solid webbing. Not like the toxic stuff that the spiders left everywhere; more like the silk that normal spiders spun. Taking in the whole shape of the webbing, the squad concluded that it was a pathway that had been blocked up. This confused them greatly. Ramos turned towards Moralis.

      " Moralis, do you think you could find a way to get through all of this? It might be a good idea to find out what's on the other side. It certainly wouldn't hurt."

     Moralis scratched his chin and nodded. " I could probably do it. I just need time. And it's not like I'd be in danger if I did it. We already cleared everything on the way here, and you guys'll be up deeper in, so I don't have to worry about anything jumping me from there. Hmm... Okay, yeah, I can handle this. You guys go on ahead. If I need help, I'll radio in."

     The captain agreed to this plan, and the 5 of them set off further down into the dark.



     The first clue of something wrong was the sound. The sound of silence. Completely. No dripping water, no scurrying insects; the passage was filled with dead air. Eventually, the group came to something that they had not expected. An end to the cave. There was nothing in this final room expect for some thick webbing that covered the ground; the non-acidic kind that blocked the doorway earlier. The captain was perplexed.

      " I don't understand... there's no way that this is the end. This is definitely a nest, but if this is the end... then where the hell do they come out of? The damn walls? It doesn't make any sense."

     Seymour shifted his feet uncomfortably. He had been doing this ever since they had entered this final chamber. Come to think of it, they all had. None of them had found any solid footing, and Seymour realized that taking a step was becoming difficult. He realized what was happening then. Linssa started physically straining her legs and came to the same conclusion as he did.

      " So... is it just me or are we stuck? I can't even really turn around."

     Seymour started getting out his knife to cut the webs away from his boots. He talked as he worked.

      " Yeah, we need to get out of this webbing. Everyone start cutting. And don't fall over. It's just gonna create more of a hassle if we have to fish you out."

     Several minutes later, Ramos and Seymour had gotten themselves back onto the normal ground of the cave. The others were still struggling to free themselves, but they weren't in any immediate danger, so there was no hurry.

     All of a sudden, Theodore stopped. He stood back up and tried to keep his balance. He looked confused.

      " Did anyone else just feel that?"

     The others looked over at him, not sure what he was talking about. He looked panicked all of a sudden.

      " Do you none of you feel it?"

     Everyone shook their heads. He pointed down at the webbing.

      " Then just look, damnit!"

     Horror dawned on Nacamara and Linssa's faces as they realized what he meant. With none of them moving, the webbing was vibrating violently. Something else was moving it. Seymour and Ramos shot up to help them get free. All of a sudden, the webs starting shifting and moving around, shaking the three people still stuck in it. Seymour threw stealth to the wind and drew his matchlock rifle. He ran to the edge of the webbing and aimed downwards.

      " Theo! Throw a fireball straight down, right now!"

      " Are you fuckin' crazy!? I'll burn a hole all the way to the ground and kill the three of us!"

      " Just trust me, you asshole!"

     Theodore gulped, but ultimately started forming the ball of flame in his hand. He was preparing to throw it through the webbing when a large opening was cleared in the center. Scurrying legs began emerging from this gap. They all froze. Seymour was breathing heavily. Fucking hell. He had fought some shit in his life. The wolves that terrorized the farm. Bandits. Lacerators, and even a goddamn Blood Snake Queen. But seeing this real, AGELESS, monster, he hesitated for a second. He hesitated for too long. The spider leaped out of the hole it had weaved for itself and went to pounce on the nearest victim. Linssa. She instinctively fell backwards, trying to cover her face with her arms, only to realize that her entire body was now stuck to the webbing. The spider was bringing down one of its legs onto her body, attempting to stab her. It was interrupted by the fireball that Theodore had been holding in his hands. The hair on its back scorched off, it reared back into the air, blindly swinging its legs all around in pain. Nacamara managed to move his way towards Linssa and was attempting to help her up. Ramos had no ranged means of attacking the spider, so he waited at the edge to assist Nacamara. Seymour finally found his nerves and unloaded into the spider. He landed almost all of his shots, and cursed himself for his idiocy. Black ooze was gushing from the holes that he had made in the flanks of the spider, but he remembered that it was Ageless. He had wasted all of his ammunition. Theodore was preparing another spell to shoot at the spider, when another one shot out of the webs next to him. Theodore panicked, and shot his Flamelance. Directly into the ground beneath him. 

     The webbing caught fire almost immediately. The fire shot down so fast that there was barely time to react to it. Theodore blindly waved his arms in a windmill-like fashion before the ground beneath him was gone, and he was tumbling into darkness. The spider went with him. The flames spread across the entire webbing, and as it reached the other three beings still on it, they disappeared into the earth. 

     The last thing Seymour heard as he looked over the edge was the screaming of his squad as they fell even further into the nest.

  • The Nest Part IV

     They stared into darkness. A gaping hole. Neither Seymour nor Ramos spoke in the aftermath of the short battle. For a long while, they just stood there. They heard nothing come from below. Finally, Ramos spoke up in a hoarse voice.

     " Seymour... We need to leave. We need to get back to Moralis, and get the hell out of here. We can't... we can't die here as well."

     Seymour whipped around, and he looked ripe with anger.

      " We can't just abandon them! We have to go down there!"

      " I... I understand your concern, son. But there's no way that they survived that fall. And even if they did, they'd be in no condition to fight off the spiders. If those two came from down there, then I bet that's damn well where the rest of them are. We can't risk it."

      " To hell with that. I'm not leaving. You go if you want to. I'll do it myself. If you're going to be a coward, then go call for backup. Right now. I'm gonna save them while I still have a chance."

     And with that, he took his grappling hook off of his belt and shot it into the ground. Seymour grasped the cord tightly, and began rappelling down into the depths. All the light he had was the lantern on his hip. As he started descending, he heard Ramos start walking back towards the entrance. Seymour was on his own now.


     The geography of the cavern became more natural the farther down he went. The walls got rougher, and he could tell that he was entering a true cavern now. When he had reached the bottom of the pit, he only found the corpse of one spider. Evidently, his allies had managed to kill one and flee further in. Or maybe it had softened their landing when they fell. Either way, he had stabbed an arrow over and over into each of its eyes to make sure it was dead. He hadn't seen a single sign of another creature since that corpse.

     After what felt like hours of wandering, Seymour had ended up even deeper. He rounded a corner to continue, and quickly ducked back around it. There was a gathering of spiders doing something up ahead. He found a small opening in the rock, and quickly pressed himself against the wall. He extinguished his lantern. After an  agonizing time crouched there, he both heard and smelt the spiders scurry past his hiding spot to some other location. He waited until he couldn't hear them anymore, and fumbled with his lantern to relight it. He walked slowly down the tunnel, his rifle at the ready. He didn't have many bullets left, so he had to make every one count. He reached the spot where he thought the spiders had been, and his heart sank. A grisly scene lay before him.

     The mage's crimson robes were stained with another red when Seymour looked upon them. The color of blood. His chest had been pierced through in numerous places, marked by large holes where the sharp legs of the spiders had penetrated. His face had been given similar treatment by the monsters. Theodore's corpse was almost unrecognizable due to all of this mutilation. Seymour reached down, not really sure of what to do. He decided to pull his body off to the alcove where he had hidden, and left his cloak over him. Seymour had not known the man very well. He regretted that he hadn't taken the time to get to know him at all. At the very least, he would try to bring the body back to give him some dignity.


     Seymour hit a lucky break when he examined the ground of the tunnel. He had walked for a long while now, and a small spider had ambushed him. He had stomped its head in, but not after it had landed a good bite on his arm. He had to use some of the cloth from his pants' leg as a makeshift tourniquet. Sitting down for a minute to rub his wound, Seymour realized that something shiny was on the ground. A trail of blood. Not the disgusting stuff that the spiders bled, but the blood of a person. Would Nacamara bleed everywhere? No, probably not. He wore a set of heavy plate armor that covered most of his body. So Linnsa must be nearby, and she had been injured at some point. Even though she could heal herself, Seymour quickened his pace.

     He had reached a more natural part of the cavern that was devoid of signs of the spiders' infestation. The blood trail had thinned, and ultimately he had reached its end. There was no sign of Linnsa. Either she was dead, or she had healed her wound upon reaching this area. He continued, determine to find her. As he searched, he came across an expansive room. He could not see the roof nor the end of it; and what he assumed was a small, underground lake was before him. He stooped down to quickly refill his canteen from this source when he heard a noise coming from nearby. He slowly got up and held his rifle up in front of him. He slowly approached where it was coming from. A sliver in the cavern's wall. He approached it, and the sound became more clear. Whimpering. Sobbing.

     Seymour started to squeeze himself through this small gap. He almost wasn't able to fit, but he was lean for a dwarf. Poking his rifle through the opening in front of him, Seymour heard someone draw their breath. They definitely noticed his presence. Seymour finally got all the way through the crevice, and his lantern illuminated the small area. Staring at him from a fetal position was Linnsa. He breathed a sigh of relief, and so did she. She sat up, and he knelt down. Her face was red from crying and covered in grime.

      " S-Seymour? Is that really you?"

      " Yeah, don't worry. Everything's gonna be okay. We're gonna find Nacamara and get out of here. Do you know where he is?"

      " I... no, we got separated. Me and Theodore ran off into a different direction, but then... Theodore's leg got busted in the fall. I was trying to heal it while we ran, but they were so fast... both of us took some hits when we were escaping, and all of a sudden he blew me down the tunnel before they caught up to us. I hid, and I had to sit there and listen while they killed him." 

     She paused for a moment and sat there in silence. Seymour leaned in a bit and realized that she was beginning to cry again.

      " It was so horrible... he screamed the whole time. They just kept attacking, and I could hear him firing off everything he had. Eventually those sounds stopped, and I heard them drag him away. I don't know how long I stayed there, but eventually I snuck away. When I thought I was safe, I healed myself. And then I crawled here."

      " Shit... I don't know what to say. But we need to get moving. So c'mon, get up."

     She weakly tried to pull herself off the ground, but she fell back down and gasped. She looked up at Seymour.

      " I don't think I'm going anywhere. I'm exhausted from blood loss and the healing. I.. need rest. I'm sorry. I want to leave here too, believe me."

     Seymour didn't like this at all. Resting would just waste time.

      " We don't have any time to rest. Nacamara could be dead right for all we know."

     She looked at him angrily. " It's not my fault that I don't have any energy left! I can barely move, let alone go search for Nacamara! What good are we to him if you have to drape me over your shoulder the entire time we search?"

      " Alright, alright. We can rest. But not for long. You understand?"

      " Yeah, I get it. You don't have to act like I have selective hearing."

     Seymour sighed and sat down next to her. He hoped he wouldn't be there long.

  • edited September 2017

    The Nest Part V (Extra long!)

      " So why did you join?"

     Seymour paused to think of an answer to this question. They were feasting on all the supplies that Seymour had left ( that they logically concluded that they wouldn't need).

      " I'm not really sure. It was a long time ago when I signed up. I was still a kid, fresh out of the farmlands when the recruiters started knocking on doors. There wasn't much left for at home in terms of a future, so I grabbed my gun and left. Mom and dad still aren't too happy about that decision. They can go to hell, though. They wanted me to waste my life sharecropping, when everyone knew that I had potential for something greater."

      She absorbed that information. " You don't really mean that about your parents, do you?"

     Seymour looked up at the ceiling. " No, not really. I got through that phase a while ago."

     They ate in silence for a few minutes. Linnsa spoke up again with another question.

      " Kinda weird how a family of dwelves had to be farmers. They couldn't find any other work?"

     Seymour looked at her with a bewildered stare.

      " Uh... what did I say? I didn't mean anything offensive, I'm just curious. I'd understand if it was your family's choice or if it was like an ancestral thing, y'know?"

      " Do you... do you really not know that I'm a dwarf?"

     She looked confused now. " Wait, that's not... is that true? Wow, that's embarrassing. Sorry about that, I guess. It's just that you're kinda... taller than the average dwarf. By a long shot."

      " I guess it also helps that you're short."

     Linnsa was flustered. " I am not!"

      " Whatever you say." Seymour responded with a smirk. Now it was his turn to ask the question.

      " So why'd you join? Probably didn't have a life like I did."

      " Well, you're right about that. I was born in a big family. Most of them were healers; so I got to learn the same stuff. And well, naturally when you learn skills to help people, it kinda makes you wanna help people. So they were really proud when I told them I was going to join the Order. I just had to promise them I wouldn't do anything too dangerous. Boy, mom would be mad right about now if she could see us. "

      " Yeah, I can imagine."

     They finished their impromptu meal and just sat there, quietly. Linnsa shivered, and scooted closer to Seymour for some warmth. She looked up at him. In a quiet voice, she asked him a question.

      " Seymour... do you think we're gonna make it out of here?"

     He didn't know how to respond to that question. Did he put false hope into her? Did he crush her spirits?

      " I hope so."

     Satisfied, she set her head against his arm. She was drifting to sleep. Seymour was following suit, even if he didn't realize it. They were soon both asleep, leaning on each other for support.


      Seymour woke up first. It was impossible to tell what time it was, so he just waited a few minutes before waking up Linnsa. He gathered up his rifle and his backpack, and shook her awake. She groggily sat up and rubbed her eyes.

      " It's time to go."

     She nodded, and they exited through the crevice together. It didn't take them long to reach the part that belonged to the spiders again. They took the turns that Seymour hadn't on his first path. They wandered tunnel after tunnel, corridor after corridor, and Seymour knew that they were definitely lost. If they found Nacamara, the only way to escape would be luck. He didn't share these thoughts. All of a sudden, Linnsa took a big step, and they both heard a loud, cracking noise. Shining his light down to the floor, they saw that her boot had sunk through the shell of a large egg. She quickly drew it out.

      " Seymour, if that's an egg, then we must be close to..."

      " The actual nest. Shit."

     Looking ahead, they saw several more eggs halfway embedded into the earth. They carefully walked around each of these. They descended deeper, and the amount of eggs increased exponentially. They were stuck into the walls, the ceiling, the floor, and they were clustered together in large numbers. Seymour didn't want to know what would happen if they hatched. They reached a larger field of them in the next area they came upon. A large outcropping of rocks in the center of the room acted as a centerpiece. Several things hung from the stalactites on the ceiling, slowly rocking back and forth. Upon getting closer to these objects, Seymour swallowed a lump in his throat. They were cocoons.

      " Those... those poor people. What do we do, Seymour?"

      " We don't do anything. They're already dead. We just keep moving, until we find Nacamara."

     Seymour turned to her, and had to turn 180 degrees. She was staring at something. He walked back over to her.

      " Hey, what's wrong? What do you see?"

     He followed where her eyes were aimed, and found himself in the same silence she was in. It looked like their search had ended, because before them was the paladin, Nacamara.

     He was strung up on the center rock like a displayed trophy. He was not moving. They slowly approached him, neither of them daring to make a sound. Linnsa reached him first. She slowly raised a hand, and felt his face. It was cold. It appeared that he was already dead. But suddenly, his eyes opened. He started jerking his body in all directions. Seymour clapped his hands over Linnsa's mouth as she uttered a scream, now muffled. He stopped his spasm, and looked directly at them. He uttered one sentence.

       "Kill... me..."

     Seymour let go of her, and she rushed up to Nacamara.

      " No, we won't! I can heal you, just hold still."

     He tugged his face away as she held out a hand.

      " You don't understand..."

     She persisted, and placed her hand on his face. She sent a wave of Light Magic into him, and recoiled at what she felt. The usual feeling of someone's life that she could sense wasn't there. She felt a swirling mass of darkness in its place; and her magic was burning it; not replacing or healing it. Nacamara thrashed in pain.

      " Linnsa, stop! He's Ageless!"

     She fell backwards, breathing heavily. She had never used The Light offensively before. It felt so wrong. So dirty. She just sat there, staring up at him.

      " Goddamnit, what did they do to you. man?"

      " What the hell do you think they did to me? They turned me into a monster... please... end it... Seymour..."

     The gun was shaking in his hands. A mercy killing is something Seymour had never thought of. He had never had to perform one. He took a step towards the paladin. Linnsa sprang up in front of him.

      " I won't let you do it! He's still Nacamara! We can still save him. We can try to. Please, Seymour."

     He looked at her with a dark expression. " Linnsa, please move. We have to end his suffering. He... he wants it this way. I can't deny him that release."

      " Well then I will! SOLAR FLARE!"

     A gigantic burst of light broke the darkness of the cavern for a split second, and Seymour was completely blinded, as in he literally lost his eyesight. Screaming in agony, Seymour fell to the ground, feeling the crunch of eggshells beneath his body. He felt a series of weak punches assault his upper body, and he couldn't believe what was happening. Linnsa had blindsided him. Literally. She had used a skill that he didn't even know she possessed, and she had blinded him. As he came to his senses, he could hear her saying things as she punched.

      " I'm sorry!"

      " Damnit, Seymour!"

     The punches stopped. They hadn't really done anything, but Seymour still felt the emotion in every blow. He felt her get off of his body. She was walking somewhere. Damnit, he couldn't even tell where his rifle was. He couldn't stop her. She didn't know that she would just be causing more agony to Nacamara. There was nothing he could do but crawl around in the dark, grasping for things. Eventually, Seymour heard something approaching him. Without a word, feminine hands grasped his head and he could feel his eyesight gradually returning. As he saw more, he saw tears streaming down Linnsa's face. She had done it. She had killed him.

     She began sobbing at that point, and it was apparent that she wasn't going to stop any time soon. Seymour didn't really know what to do, so he just awkwardly hugged her and patted her on the back. Taking a life for the first time was never easy for anyone. She sniffled and rubbed her eyes.

      " I... I didn't know. Oh Gods... what have I done? I'm a monster!"

      " Shh... sh... you're not a monster. You tried to help him. It's not your fault that there was no way to. Even if we didn't kill him, he would've lived the rest of his life in torment. You just have to move on. We can deal with the consequences later. You understand?"

     She nodded. She wiped her face with the sleeve of her tunic and got up. Seymour looked back at the way they came. Their mission was over. They were getting the hell out. He would make sure of that. He leaned over to pick up his rifle off the ground. Linnsa gasped.

     Seymour whipped around, gun in hand. He immediately saw the problem. Spiders. At least a dozen of them. They were flooding into the chamber, crawling all over the walls and ceiling. Seymour grabbed her hand and ran in the opposite direction.


     He didn't stop running. They were basically flying down every passageway that Seymour got to. He was trying to put as much distance from the spiders to them as possible. But he kept running into more. Every few turns, a lone spider, or maybe a duo, would be there, waiting. They would dodge and weave past them, Linnsa using her Solar Flare to blind them as they followed. Seymour knew that no outcome in this scenario could be good. Deeper and deeper into the spiders' territory, and an army behind them. Eventually they would catch up, or Seymour would do something stupid like trip over a fucking rock and get them both killed.

     The tunnel they ended up in went on straight. The spiders were still behind them, somewhere. Seymour could hear their scurrying feet, but he couldn't see them. All of a sudden, the atmosphere felt a lot different. Seymour looked ahead, and his eyes widened in disbelief.

     An absolutely gigantic room lie before the pair. Seymour could literally see no end to it in sight. It was shaped like a large crater, and the terrain of this area looked like it belonged near a volcano. Blackened rock covered in pockets of steaming magma. But between this, and the certain death behind them, Seymour chose the pit. 

     Sliding down the ashy side, Seymour didn't know what he was getting into. He didn't know where he was, what the hell was going on, and he didn't know if he was ever going to get the chance to think about it. They hit even ground and began running again. Linnsa was beginning to pant, and it was evident that she had a cramp.

      " Seymour, I can't go much further! This hurts way too much..." She grimaced in pain.

     Seymour quite literally swept her up and kept running. The spiders were halfway down the slope. He was still running. He realized that he was running in between large clusters of gigantic eggs. He was in the nest now. Definitely. He didn't stop to think about it. But he was beginning to tire out. His stamina may have been incredible, but everyone has their limits. He began to stumble. He had been hugging the wall for most of these events; and now, as he ran out of breath, he fell towards it and landed on on his knees. Linnsa went tumbling forward a good distance. Turning around, Seymour saw something that struck fear into his heart. He crawled backwards towards the wall. In front of him was the largest, most terrifying beast that he had ever layed eyes upon. 

     In front of him was the Venomburner.

  • The Nest Part VI [Final]

    ClickClick click click. The gun was empty. Seymour screamed and jabbed his combat knife into the forehead of a spider. He turned around and swung his rifle wildy, trying to beat the creatures back with the blunt object. They were surrounded in a semicircle; with the queen standing behind the horde, simply watching them. His rifle was batted out of his hands by a leg from the throng of monsters, and he felt the bones in his hand break. He stumbled backwards, still holding his knife in the other hand while Linnsa placed her hands on his back and poured what little energy she had left into healing him as they were forced backwards. Seymour staggered back up on his feet and held his ground. The crowd inched closer towards them.

      " Come on, you bastards! I'll kill every single one of you!" Seymour yelled empty threats as he waved his knife back and forth in front of him. A spider rushed him; Seymour dropped to his knees and sprang up into the underside of the spider's head, piercing through his skull and dropping the beast to the floor. Another spider came forward and spewed a load of acid onto him, quickly melting through his leather armor and burning his torso. Seymour dropped to his knees and gritted his teeth in pain, trying not to scream. He shakily got off the ground as another spider scurried towards him, throwing him backwards against the wall. He dropped the knife and hit the stone with a resounding crack before bouncing off of it to land in front of his companion. He tried standing up, but realized that he could not feel his legs anymore. He propped himself onto his knees in front of Linnsa and held his fists up in a fighting stance. Another spider began rushing towards them, and Seymour tried to get off one last good hit with his fists.

     As Seymour raised his fist, the spider sliced horizontally towards him with a leg; cutting clean through the light armor, and all the way through the bone of Seymour's right arm. With the sound of a tomato being cut apart, Seymour's right arm flopped to the ground. Blood was gushing out of the open wound, and Seymour fell backwards onto Linnsa. He looked her in the face and wrapped his body around hers.

      " Use me as a shield..." He whispered. " I'm already dead."

     The spiders charged, and Seymour felt several objects penetrate his chest at once. He coughed up blood and gasped. He couldn't see. He was beginning to lose consciousness. He gathered his remaining strength and curled himself as tight as he could around Linnsa, trying to soften any blow he could. Seymour could feel himself slipping away, and he closed his eyes for what he thought was the last time. 

     As his eyelids slid shut, they suddenly snapped back open. Seymour felt something burning inside of him that quickly spread throughout his entire body, forcing him back into reality. He gasped, and fell backwards onto the cavern floor. As he did this, a pair of strong hands lurched him onto his feet and against the wall. Seymour almost couldn't comprehend what he was seeing. On the wall where he and Linnsa had been almost flattened against moments ago, a gigantic swirling portal had appeared, and people clad in the crimson armor of the Grand Paladin Order were charging through it headfirst into the horde that had surrounded the duo. Seymour turned towards the person who had grabbed him, but he instead looked at another paladin next to him. His captain.

      " Ramos? What... What's going on?"

      " Take it easy, son. It's over now. Just rest for now and we'll get you out of here."

     Seymour sat his head against the wall, watching his comrades do battle with the undead monsters. He closed his eyes, and blacked out.


     Seymour woke up in a bed. His whole body ached, and as he gazed down at his body, he saw that his right arm was gone. At the very least, it had been cleaned and wrapped in a bandage. Looking over to the other side of the bed, he beheld a surprising sight. Slumped over the side of the bed, deep in sleep, was Linnsa. Seymour groaned as he tried to sit up, causing her to wake up. She rubbed her eyes and moved her chair closer to him so that they could talk.

      " Are you feeling okay, Seymour?"

      " I guess. What happened? Where did they bring us?"

      " Well, one second we were being attacked. I thought for sure that we were dead. I doubly thought that you were dead. You went limp in my lap and then all of a sudden, this gigantic wave of Light came from behind me. And then a bunch of Paladins leaped over us and started attacking the spiders. Someone casted a Lay on Hands over us; I'm guessing that's what revived you. Reinforcements kept coming in through the portal, but I didn't get to see the end of the battle. They had already shoved me through to assess my condition, and then a few minutes later they brought you. I'm so glad you're alive." She smiled at him.

     He sank back into his pillow. " Okay. But that still doesn't tell me where we are."

      " Oh, right. We're in Kaddoral. The infirmary. The healers were all needed for the battle and to help the wounded, so they spared some regular first aid for you. It probably doesn't feel too good. I wanted to heal you, but they said that we should both get some rest first before we did anything. Sorry."

      " You don't anything to apologize for. I'm just glad that we're alive."

      " Yeah."

     Just then, they heard a knock at the door.

      " You can come in!" Seymour yelled.

     Ramos entered the room, along with a duo that neither Seymour nor Linnsa recognized. An older elf and a little girl that he held in his arms. Ramos nodded to the pair at the bed.

      " Seymour, this is Roygo. He's here to talk to you. That's all I really have to say. I have some business to attend to." He nodded to the elf and left the room.

     The elf sat his daughter down in a chair on the other side of the room, where she began idly kicking her legs. He came up to the side of the bed and gazed upon Seymour's injuries. Seymour became agitated at this silent inspection.

      " Are we gonna talk, or are you gonna stare at me? I get that I looked like a burnt sausage; you don't have to rub it in."

     The corners of the elf's mouth formed into a smile for a moment, but he quickly regained his serious tone.

      " No, I guess I don't. Anyways, I thought I'd start by seeing if you had any questions first."

      " Oh, I have a great one. How the fuck am I still alive right now?"

     The elf glanced over at his daughter. He leaned in. " Before I answer, I wanna tell you to watch your language around her. As for answering that question... The person you should be thanking for that is in this room. It's them who opened the portal for us."

      " So you wanted to gloat about how you saved our skins? Is that why you're here?"

     Roygo laughed. " No, I definitely didn't open that portal. Keep guessing."

     Seymour scanned the room, and stopped on the young girl. She looked up at him and waved.

      " But... Wouldn't that mean that..." He was confused at what this meant. Roygo helped explain.

      " That's right; she did it. My daughter happens to be extremely gifted in areas like this. A portal like that was child's play to her. You should also thank your captain for telling us about your plight over the radio. All of the other platoons had cleared their designated nests, and had returned here. Nobody realized that only a single squad had been sent to the southern one. We argued if there was any way to even reach you in time, and that's when they thought of having my daughter create a portal. Your friend over there's magic was weakening, but it was enough of a pinpoint to focus on. We got there just in time."

     Seymour sat back in silence. He spoke up a bit later.

      " So why exactly are you here then if your work is done? Based on your clothes, you aren't associated with the Order at all."

      " I'm here in this exact room because I looked at your injuries first-hand; no offense meant by that. If you want, before I leave I'll have my daughter heal you."

     Linnsa spoke up for the first time in this discussion. " Wait, she can really do that? Like, completely fix him up?"

      " Yes, if he so wishes."

     Seymour sat debating this idea. He thought of a solution that satisfied him. Drawing Roygo in, he whispered what he desired into his pointed ear. Roygo nodded at this decision, and called his daughter over.


     Several hours later, Seymour left the infirmary, Linnsa by his side. Dressed in the appropriately warm clothes for the tundra town, they huddled together for warmth. Seymour flexed his new mechanical arm. He had decided to have everything healed except for the arm. After his experience, he wasn't sure about whether or not he would still be fighting like he used to. In his other hand, he held a slip of parchment that was similar to a business card, with the names of Roygo and his family; where he could find them; and what to do if he ever needed help. He pocketed this paper and held arms with Linnsa as they walked down the road together.

  • The Lie Detector Part I

     She slammed the goblin into the brick wall. Several of his teeth broke on contact, and he cried out in pain. With his face becoming a bloody mess, she grabbed him by the few strands of hair he had and crouched down to his level.

      " Okay Grig, we can do this the easy way or the hard way. So which is it gonna be? Are you gonna tell me where the goods are stored or are you gonna get shoved into a trashcan with both of your little green legs broken?"

     The goblin coughed up a spout of blood. " Okay, okay, I'll tell you! Just let me go, please! They don't pay me enough anyway. The stuff is stored in a hideout up on that ridge outside town. Just don't tell them I said anything! They'll kill me!"

     She dropped him to the ground and dusted herself off.

      " See, that wasn't so hard now, was it? Get the fuck out of here."

     He scurried off down the alley. Alice sighed. After cornering a dozen of them, she had finally gotten a lead off of one of the goons. She had a place to start looking. Swiftly leaving the scene, she made her way back to her own hideout; a derelict building on the outskirts of the small town. She was only there because she had heard some rumors of a gang that was hiding some especially valuable treasure that a lot of other crime families wanted their hands on. She wasn't sure what it was, but she was hurting for money, so it didn't really matter. Petty theft was not Alice's preference, but it had been necessary to survive for the past several weeks. She really needed a big break. 

     Combing through the ruins of what once was probably some kind of warehouse, she gathered all of her things and looked for the tarandor. She had kept the thing mostly for mobility. She also kept it because she was pissy about the fact that her bag of holding had been stolen. It was only fair that she take something that belonged to them to compensate. She really missed that bag of holding, but she was also kind of glad that it was gone. She had been seriously over-reliant on it. She was forced to go for a whole month after her failed heist, and then her embarrassing capture, without a single tool or weapon. They had all been kept in the bag, and she had to replace every one of them, most of which were now strapped to her body or hidden up her sleeves, or on her belt. It had been overwhelmingly expensive.

      " All right, come on boy. We've got quite a trip ahead of us." She coerced the tarandor as she saddled it up. The beast reluctantly agreed to let her onto its back. Clopping through handfuls of broken glass and out onto the street, Alice set off towards the city limits, determined to make back a fortune.


     Looking through the spyglass, Alice didn't notice anything of particular importance about the place. There was a decent-sized wall around it, and only a handful of guards were patrolling the outside. That was suspicious. Either more were inside, or they didn't need more. Or maybe their guards were more quality over quantity. Maybe she was in the wrong place. Factors that weren't obvious. She shook off her nerves and began creeping towards the compound.

     Taking note of the different routes the guards were taking, she chose to scale the wall near the back of the building. Climbing it was not difficult, but she cautiously peered over the edge before fully committing to crouching on top of it. She drew out a crossbow from her cloak, and aimed it at the edge of the roof. Making sure that no guards were below her or nearby to hear, she fired the bolt. It pierced the wood, and the rope that she had attached to it hung limply. She tugged her end until it was taut, then swung down towards the ground. She placed her feet against the brick wall, and began scaling the building. Heaving herself up onto the roof, she made her way to the entry point that she had spotted with her spyglass. A large skylight. Peering through, she didn't see much on the inside. She could see the tops of a bunch of crates and barrels, but no torches or lights were hung anywhere. Waiting for signs of any guards inside, she caught movement of someone walking down one of the aisles, wielding a lantern. He was wearing some chainmail and had both a short-sword and a pistol on his belt; Alice thought that he must be a guard. He walked underneath the window, passing out of view, and Alice started to try and open the window. It wouldn't budge, no matter how she tried to bust it open. She looked back inside, deciding to take a risk. She hadn't seen any other guards, so it wouldn't hurt to go loud. She backed up, and drew back her leg. She flung down a heavy kick into the glass, shattering one of the panes. She quickly tied her rope to part of the empty frame, and lowered herself down into the dark.


     As she had expected, the lone guard came running towards the sound of shattering glass, drawing both of his weapons. Alice crouched on top of a box, waiting to pounce on him at the first opportunity. He got closer, the lantern on his hip illuminating only his immediate surroundings; he could not see up at the level where Alice sat, perched. But he could definitely see the broken window in the moonlight, and a thin rope dangling from it. He peered closer to get a good look, and Alice took her chance. 

     Springing down from the stack of boxes, her feet kicked into his shoulders before wrapping around his neck in a choke-hold, spinning him towards the ground, where he dropped both his gun and his sword. She held him in this position, strangling the life out of him with her thighs, until he passed out and was no longer moving. kicking his weapons away, she took the lantern from him and began her search.

     Not taking too much time in-between, she searched up and down, both vertically and horizontally, the rows of containers. The only things of any value that she could perceive were things that she wasn't there for. E.X.P. needles and power levelers, counterfeiting materials, just randomly assorted "criminal" materials. Not anything that she was looking for. After closing the lid on one of these containers, Alice was frustrated.

      " Damnit!" She thought to herself. " If it's not in any of these, then where could it be? It should be obvious to what it is, so why haven't I found it yet? Son of a bitch!"

     She angrily kicked over a small crate and began looking around again. She was going over the far side of the boxes when she realized that there were several side rooms that she hadn't noticed before.

      " Offices? Shit, how did I miss these?"

     Quickly walking over, she peered through the smudged glass on one of these doors. No lights were in the room, and there was no sign of movement. She pulled her lockpicks off of her belt and swiftly had the door opened. Reading some materials in the office revealed to her that this place had actually been a credible trading outpost before this gang took it over to store their goods. Useless information. She went back outside and looked at the other door on the wall. This one was different; the door was solid steel with a frame of similar metal. This had to be it. She began work on the large padlock that kept it shut; but soon she had broken it. She entered quietly.

     Inside, she was surprised to find that the interior held no containers. No crates, filing cabinets, barrels, or anything. Instead, she noticed first a small bed with a gross mattress tucked into the corner, and then a small window near the top of the opposing wall. A single lamp sitting on the floor illuminated the room. Walking forward, she wasn't exactly sure what she was looking at. Lost in thought for a moment about who this room could belong to, a small cough snapped Alice back to reality. Whipping around, she was surprised at what she saw.

     A child was cowering in the corner of the room.

  • The Lie Detector Part II

      The child was shaking now that she had been noticed. Alice was unsure of what to do. She began slowly approaching the kid, trying not to scare them.

      " Uh... hey there, sweetie. It's okay, I'm not gonna hurt you." She reached out a hand to them.

     After hearing this sentence, the child quickly got up and looked at Alice, almost like she had already accepted this statement as fact. Alice got very uncomfortable during this process. Finally, the girl spoke to her.

      " Okay." Was the only thing she said.

     Alice frowned. " So... what's your name, kid? Why are you here?"

     The girl looked up at her. " Can I ask you a question first?"

      " I guess? Sure."

      " What's your name?"

     She saw no reason to lie in this scenario. " My name is Alice. Now will you tell me yours?"

     The girl nodded, and ignoring Alice's question, said something else to her. " So you're telling the truth? I guess you're okay, then."

      " Wait, what? How do you know I'm telling you the truth? How did you know my name?"

     It was then that the girl's mouth curled into a small smile, and Alice saw two sharp, protruding teeth. Fangs. Alice realized just then what she was dealing with.

      " You're a vampire!" She exclaimed.

      " That's true." The girl nonchalantly replied.

      " Well, I guess that explains a bit. A vampire could be pretty useful to a bunch of criminals..."

      " You believe that's true."

     " Are you gonna keep doing that? It's getting annoying."

      " You believe th- Oh, I'm sorry. I'll stop."

     Alice looked around the small room again, and proceeded to ask another question.

      " What exactly are you doing here?"

     She was about to answer, when they heard a commotion from beyond the door. Alice quietly went over to it, opening it a crack so that she could see outside. She was surprised to see that all of the lights in the room had been turned on. The area was illuminated no longer by the moon through the skylight; and her entry point was now completely visible. She grabbed the child by the arm and put her finger to her lips to signify that they needed to be quiet. The girl nodded her head in terrified agreement.

     Crouch-walking out of the room, Alice could hear a number of voices talking near the center of the storage area. She hurried and hugged to the first line of containers nearest the wall. She caught a part of the conversation as she crept along.

      " I was down in a couple of seconds! There wasn't nothing I could do!" 

     A voice that held much more authority and education replied to this first one.

      " There was something that you could have done; not fail in your one job. The Boss doesn't tolerant this kind of mistake."

     A harsh, female voice barked in.

      " Who gives a shit about this guy, the important thing is that the thief is probably still around. We have to find this asshole."

      " Hmph. I guess you're right. I guess this man is no longer of use."

      " Wait, what? You-you're not gonna kill me, are you? You can't!"

      " You couldn't even stop one thief! How the hell can we put any trust in you? You really think you deserve to live, you piece of shit?"

     Alice was trying to force open a window at this point. She wasn't really paying attention to what they were saying. The window was just giving in to her pulls as she heard them talking again. Something was different in the tone this time. 

      " Sorry, pal. You should've done a better job."

      " I wholeheartedly agree. Mann, do your thing."

     Alice heard the snarling of some wild beast, and then a blood-curdling scream from the guard. She looked back over her shoulder as the sounds of a vicious attack played out. Whatever creature it was, it wasn't playing nice.

      " Good job, Mann. Not a single trace left. Now why don't you go poking around and see if the intruder is still present?"

     Alice froze in place. She could hear the huffing and shuffled movement of something lumbering around on the other side of the crates. She tried once more to open the window, to no avail; it wouldn't move another inch. Turning back around, Alice nearly had a heart attack.

     Turning the corner of the aisle towards her was the single biggest porc that Alice had ever seen. The gigantic, black creature walked on all fours and was not wearing any clothing. He spotted her, snarled at her, and immediately charged.

     Snapping back to her senses, Alice quickly wrapped her arm around the child's waist, and in one swift motion, drew her grappling hook and fired it at a rafter up above by the ceiling. As the blackboar was at a distance where Alice could see the foam frothing from his mouth, she pulled the mechanism on the grappling hook, pulling her upwards. She retracted the hook and landed on top of the boxes, where she was able to see the pair that been talking before. They looked up at her.

     One was a savvy looking elf with circular spectacles; he had a look of extreme indifference about her being there. The other was a kobold with light-grey fur, and she looked ready to attack, a fierce and angry glare dominating her face. She heard a loud bang as the porc crashed into the wall where she had been standing. The kobold screamed at her.

      " You're not gonna leave this place alive!"

     Alice was not in the mood or position to banter with a group of dangerous criminals; she ignored this threat and began leaping across the aisles back towards the dangling rope, carrying the child against her chest. She was an aisle away when she felt something wrap around her leg, and she was whipped forwards, smashing her face against the corner of a crate. She let go of the child to instinctively cradle her now bloody face. She looked down at her leg and realized that an elongated furry arm was wrapped around it in a knot.

      " Shit!" Alice exclaimed to herself. The arm began reeling her down the aisle back towards the duo as the other arm snaked itself towards her to assist its counterpart. Alice pulled a small sphere off of her belt, and proceeded to throw the fragile object down at the limbs that were binding her.

     The firebomb exploded, scorching the rocky fur that was ensnaring her. The limbs began convulsing, and Alice could hear the kobold scream from across the room. She took this opportunity to run backwards, grabbing the girl once more and climbing up to her escape route. She grabbed hold of the rope and shimmied up until she practically threw the kid onto the roof. She climbed out after her, and was preparing one more bomb from her belt when a spear of Ice flew out from the window, just barely missing her torso as she dodged out of the way. She threw her device down through the window, the smoke bomb bursting upon hitting the ground. Carrying her over her shoulder, Alice ran with the girl to the same side of the wall she had scaled. 

     Jumping down, she had forgotten to check for guards; but evidently they had all gone running at the sound of an explosion inside. She helped the girl climb the wall, and then scaled it herself. She didn't stop running until she had reached the tarandor; it sat there, obviously agitated that she had been away for so long. Making sure that the small girl was seated properly in the saddle, she rode off into the night, trying to put as much distance between her and trio she had encountered as possible. 

     She had a feeling that this wouldn't be the last time she saw them.

  • edited October 2017

    The Lie Detector Part III [Final]

      " Ugh... goddamnit, this hurts!"

     Alice rubbed the bag of ice across her face again, trying to ease the pain of her broken nose. It hurt like hell. The innkeeper had been kind enough to bandage up her face, but of course no clerics resided in the town. It was a town built around an iron mine. So, even more alienating, the town was filled with dwarves that gave strange glances to this pair consisting of a dwelf and a child, not to mention a tarandor of all mounts. They had drawn a lot more attention than Alice had wanted as they rode in. It didn't help that it was the start of the work-morning. 

     She sighed, and looked over at the child, who was fast asleep in the one bed they had to share. She still didn't even know her name, but Alice already felt somewhat responsible for her. She had been theorizing why criminals would keep this girl around. Maybe she was one of their daughters? No, they wouldn't have locked her up and she would have protested at the idea of fleeing. Maybe they used her abilities for their own purpose? That seemed the most likely. Alice reasoned that a vampire's ability to see the "truth" could come in handy if you need to know if you can trust someone, perhaps in the middle of a deal or something like that.

     No matter the reason, Alice wasn't sure of what to do now that she had the so-called "treasure." She wasn't just going to give this girl back to any criminals. And she couldn't just drop her off at some orphanage. The trio that tried to stop her back in the warehouse kept coming back to mind, as well. She couldn't leave the girl alone knowing that they were probably looking for her. And anyone with her would probably be in danger. As she was thinking of her options, the innkeeper cracked open the door to inquire on her and her "sister's" condition. Alice took this opportunity to ask a favor of her.

      " Ma'am, if it's not too difficult, I'd like you to make me a promise. If anyone comes by looking for us, please tell them we passed through and left last night. If the group consists of an elf and a kobold, and perhaps even a porc, then you should know that they are dangerous people. They'd probably murder you if you outlive your helpfulness. So I beg you, don't even mention us. If they ask about the tarandor in the stable, tell them a lie. They want both me and my sister dead."

     The innkeeper furled her brow at this obligation, but solemnly nodded that she would carry out this wish. Alice thanked her and sighed. She climbed into the bed, concealing both her curved knife and another smoke-bomb under her pillow.


     Alice woke up, half-expecting a gang of criminals to be hovering over her. She looked over, noting that her small companion was still asleep. She groggily got out of the bed, grabbing her hidden weapons from under where she had rested her head. She drew up the hood of her cloak, and left the room to find some food for the two of them. Entering the part of the inn where a tavern resided, she sought out the employee behind the counter and purchased some simple supplies with the meager amount of gold that she had left. Returning to their room, the girl awakened when she closed the creaky door.

     Alice sat down on the edge of the bed and handed her a biscuit to eat. 

      " So," she began. " Do you think you can tell me your name today?"

     She quietly nibbled on the cold biscuit, and shook her head no.

      " And exactly why can't you?"

     She was silent as she ate, and didn't give a response. Alice had a feeling that she knew what this meant.

      " You don't really have one, do you?"

     She slowly nodded her head. " That's true."

     Alice sighed and ran a hand through her messy hair.

      " Well... I'm not just gonna call you "no-name" or something dumb, so I have a fun idea."

     She looked up at Alice, listening keenly now.

      " How about we come up with a name for you? Wont that be cool?"

     She smiled, and vigorously nodded her head. Alice grinned back at her. She began thinking for a moment.

      " Hmm... any names that you particularly like?"

     She didn't really know. Alice was thinking again, and thought of a name that she hadn't heard since that damn night.

      " How about Vann? It can be short for Vannesa. It's kind of a pretty name, right?"

     She smiled, obviously pleased at this selection.

      " Okay then, Vann. We need to talk about some other things. Like what we're gonna do. Do you have any family that I can bring you back to?"

     She held back a sniffle. Alice started to guess in her head what kind of sad story she was about to hear.

      " I don't remember my mama or papa at all. I don't even remember living with them. I think I've been with those people my whole life."

      " That's seriously fucked up."

      " You believe that's true."

     Alice sighed. She was doing an awful lot of that recently. She got up from the bed and started packing her belongings. She looked back at the new Vann.

      " We're leaving soon. We shouldn't involve any of these miners in this mess; we're already in enough danger ourselves."

     The young girl nodded.


     Riding out of town, Alice noticed that nobody was outside but the two of them. She didn't like that. It was the middle of the afternoon, and it looked like they were going through a ghost-town. When they reached the edge of town, the tarandor stopped in its tracks, clearly agitated about something. Alice looked around nervously, unsure of what could be keeping the beast from moving. A sudden noise caught Alice's attention from up ahead. Someone was whistling at her. Scanning the road ahead, she saw a lanky figure leaning against a tree. She broke into a cold sweat. The elf pushed up his glasses to the top of his nose.


     She whirled around, searching the treeline for the other two who were surely nearby. Looking forward again, the elf was calmly walking towards her. She pulled back on the reigns, trying to urge the tarandor backwards. When it was evident that he wasn't complying, she drew her crossbow and aimed it at the elf. He raised his hands in the air, but kept walking forward.

      " I'm not here to kill you yet, girl. I only wish to speak."

     Alice narrowed her eyes. " Bullshit. Where are your friends hiding?"

     He chuckled. " My associates are not the ones for negotiation. That being so, I requested that they not come with me. You can ask her if I'm telling the truth."

     She leaned back and waited for an answer.

      " He... is telling the truth, but we shouldn't listen to him!"

     The elf smiled. " I already said that I wasn't here to fight. I have a proposition for you. If you'll listen, that is."

      " I'm listening."

      " Good. Now, about the girl. We will give a total sum of twenty-thousand Gold, in any form you desire, for her return."

     Alice's eyes widened. They really wanted her that much? 

      " And if I don't want to give her back to you fucks?"

      " There is a solution to that as well. Seeing as how we will give you payment for her return, it only seems fair that you will give us payment to keep her. Of course, we request the exact same amount, but if you do pay it, I can and will assure you that no one will come after you."

     Alice thought this proposition over. She didn't want to fight them, but where the hell would she get that kind of money? No, her best solution would just be to try and shake them off her trail.

     As if reading her thoughts, the elf spoke up again. " Oh, and if you're thinking about just running away; don't. You may not have realized it, but the girl is imbued with a rune that tracks her location. That's how I found you here."

     Alice looked back at Vann, but she looked just as surprised as Alice. Looking towards the elf again, he was walking away. He called back to her.

      " You have a week! We'll find you wherever you are, so have an answer ready."

     He walked off into the distance.

      " Alice, what are we gonna do?"

     She was silent for a moment, deep in thought. Suddenly, she snapped to reality with a plan.

      " We're going to visit a friend of mine."

  • The Favor part I

      " Serena, there is an intruder out in the yard."

     She looked up from her book. An intruder? It was the middle of the day. Who would try to sneak into a place in broad daylight? She closed her eyes and reached out with her mind to respond.

      " Okay buddy, have you dealt with them yet?"

     A few moments of silence ensued. 

      " Well... no. Not really."

      Is there a reason for that?"

      I smelled you on her. Kind of weak, but there. I thought you might know her."

     Serena immediately got up and opened the door to her balcony. Ridge lifted his scaly head to meet her there. Looking down over the edge, she saw someone pinned under his gigantic, clawed foot. Squinting, she could make out a familiar face that was filled with terror. Serena couldn't help but laugh at this scenario.

      " Do me a favor and bring her up here, Ridge."

     The dragon happily released his foot and took the dwelf's cloak in his teeth, throwing her onto the balcony.

      " Ow, you motherfucker!" Alice muttered as she rubbed her head.

      " Well, it certainly has been a while!" Serena knelt down to help her up.

     Noticing the bandages wrapped around her face, she questioned Alice about them.

      " Oh geez, what happened to you? You look like you got into a pretty nasty fight."

      " Yeah, I'll tell you in a minute; it's a long story. And it pains me to say this, but I really need your help. That's the only reason I'm here."

      " Really? You didn't come just to hang out? I'm truly shocked." She feigned a disappointed look.

      " Yeah, really."

     Serena let out a deep sigh. " Okay, fine. Just tell me what kind of trouble you got into."

     Alice relayed the whole story to her, not sparing any details. Serena paid special attention to the words that the elf had said, and shook her head when she was done. 

      " Alright, so let's think. Where's this girl right now?"

      " Hiding near your front gate with a certain animal that I stole."

      " Oh, right. I almost forgot about that. But first, let's get her in here so I can see about this so called tracking-rune."

     Alice nodded. A little while later, they had ushered her up to Serena's room, where the young mage began examining her.

      " Okay sweetheart, before I start casting spells, I wanna ask you some questions. First of all, do you feel weird anywhere? Like, maybe a prickling or a burning sensation?"

      " No. Not really."

      " Hmm... do you remember anyone ever casting a spell like that on you?"

     Again, she answered no.

      " Well, if there really is a rune somewhere on your body, a physical examination isn't really gonna get us anywhere. So I'll move right on to a magical one."

     Alice glanced at her with a concerned look. " What exactly are you gonna do to her?"

      " Oh, nothing that should hurt! I'm just gonna try and detect any magic on her. It should reveal the rune, if it's actually there."

     Serena held out her hand, and a deep, blue aura surrounded it. She waved it over Vannesa, first going over her back. The results were almost immediately visible.

      " Oh, holy crap, that's big."

     Covering her entire back was an intricate series of swirling lines, racing in every direction that they could reach. They glowed an ominous red in response to Serena's fluorescent blue, making them seem like deep, gaping cuts.

      " Well... it's definitely real."

     Alice looked over at it. " Okay, so what are you gonna do to remove it?"

      " We aren't removing it yet. At least, not until we move somewhere else."

     Alice grew angry at this statement. " Are you fucking kidding me? Why can't you get that crap off now? What, is it too hard for you?"

      " Okay, Alice, what do you think those three are gonna do if they suddenly realize that she's off the grid? Where are they gonna go first?"

     Alice thought for a moment. She crossed her arms, realizing her mistake. " They would come straight to the last place she was, I guess."

      " Exactly. And I would rather not let my house be trashed! So, we're gonna find a nice place away from anyone that could get hurt. Then I'll do it. Alright?"

     Alice begrudgingly accepted this.

      " Good. Now just let me go get some things squared away and we can find a suitable location."


      " Yeah... this should do."

     Serena stepped out of the portal and looked around more. She was surrounded by rolling plains that were barren save for the tall grass that went up to her knees. Exactly where she had wanted to be. 

      " Alright, you guys can come through now!" She called back through the portal. Alice nervously stepped forward, holding Vannesa's hand.

      " Damn. You said remote, but I wasn't expecting the absolute middle of nowhere."

     Serena aimed her hands at the ground, and began emitting an Arcane Beam. She spun around in a circle until she had made a small clearing where she could do her work in the midst of the grass. She cracked her knuckles and beckoned Vannesa over.

      " Alright, let's begin. This shouldn't hurt at all, so there's nothing to be afraid of, sweetie."

     Vannesa sat down and turned her back to Serena, who knelt behind her. She encompassed her hands in the same blue aura as before.

      " Can you hold up her shirt for me? I need both hands for this."

     Alice obliged and stood above them. Serena placed her hands on the young girl's back and began casting her spell. She closed her eyes to concentrate, and Alice immediately noticed the edges of the rune starting to retreat towards the center of Vannesa's back. After a few minutes, Alice realized that all of the lines had disappeared. She was already done. Serena stood up and stared off to the left of where they were.

      " Oh, that's interesting..."

     Alice was perplexed, as she saw nothing but the rolling hills in that direction. She looked at Serena.

      " What the hell are you talking about?"

      " Oh, right. You can't tell. Well, someone is beginning to open a portal over there, and I feel like I have a pretty good idea of who it is. Soooo... it looks like they're doing exactly what I said they would. This should be interesting."

     Alice started to panic. " Fucking open up another portal! Get us out of here!"

      " Mmm... too late." She turned to Vannesa.

      " Okay Vann, I want you to crouch down in the grass and get to a safe distance. Don't go too far though, okay?"

     The girl nodded and began maneuvering away. Serena turned around.

      " Welp, here we go."

  • The Favor Part II [Final]

     Alice desperately spun around in a circle, looking for anything they could use as cover. Nothing. Whipping back around with her crossbow out, she perceived the vortex shape of the portal begin to form in midair. It stretched and warped until it was large enough for an Ogre to walk through.

     Serena shrugged her shoulders. " Eh, I've seen better."

      " Oh, you have now?" said a voice coming from within it. The elf stepped out, followed by the rest of the trio. They observed the scene around them. He then set his eyes on Serena.

      " Well... looks like a new pawn has been put on the board."

     Serena acted offended. " Whoa there, buddy. I'm at least a bishop, if not the queen."

     The elf was not in the mood for banter. " Is that so? Good for you." He looked over at Alice and scoffed. 

      " Mann, go fetch your chew-toy that got away last week. We're more than capable of handling this child."

     The porc snorted and banged his head against the ground. Alice started to back up and took aim. The blackboar roared like a wild animal and began barreling towards her, and at the same time the other two rushed Serena. The fight was on.


     Serena felt a rush of adrenaline enter her body. She barely ducked in time to avoid a fireball thrown by the elf. The kobold had sunk low into the grass, but was making an obvious path towards her. Serena bent down and swept an arcane beam across the ground, but was caught off guard by an arm shooting through the grass and smashing into her gut. She flew backwards through the air and blinked back to the ground to try and get her bearings. As soon as she landed, she was assaulted by a hailstorm of arcane missiles weaving all around her. She saw the kobold leap out of the grass, and quickly pushed her back with a gust of wind, cancelling out the missiles in the process. The kobold's momentum reversed, sending her flying off into the opposite direction. The elf, seeing his ally soar through the air, reinvigorated his attack. He launched a volley of elemental blasts at Serena, who was sporadically teleporting all over the place to avoid getting hit. Serena was having fun, despite fighting for her life. Alice was feeling something much different.


     As the porc charged towards her once again, Alice rolled out of the way like he was a bull. She quickly fired a bolt into his back, adding on to the dozen she had already landed. 

      " This fucker just wont go down! What the hell am I supposed to do?" 

     Alice gritted her teeth as the porc shook his head and turned around for another attack. She grabbed her dagger from her belt. She had decided to do something crazy. He roared and moved forward with the power of a locomotive. Alice gripped her dagger, and at the last moment, when Alice could see the bloodshot tinges of his eye, she sidestepped the porc. He grinded to a halt a few feet away, and she took her opportunity.

     She ran up and leaped onto the porc's back. Climbing up, she wrapped her legs around his tree-trunk of a neck and held her dagger with both hands. As he violently tried to shake her off, she plunged the blade down as hard as she could into the top of his skull. The dagger barely penetrated his skin, and Alice had to use all of her strength to force it in deeper as the porc violently thrashed about. He was about to turn over onto his back, surely crushing Alice, when the blade slipped into place. Alice released her grip and immediately tried to get out from under him as he fell. She fell to the ground and began scrambling away from the behemoth. She was barely out of harm's way when the blackboar hit the ground with a resounding thud, and a sharp pain went all throughout her leg, causing her to screech in turmoil. Her eyes tearing up, she twisted around and saw that the lower part of her leg had been crushed under his bulk. She tried crawling away, but found that she was now stuck. She fell back against the ground, breathing heavily, and could do nothing but listen for the sounds of Serena's battle.


     Serena was pushed back by the force of the fireball. She was thrilled by the skill that her opponent had, and the large grin on her face showed it. She landed straight on her ass and looked down at the burn marks across her body as they healed. She got back up and dusted the ash off of her clothes. The elf, who stood nearby with another fireball primed in his hand, noticed this phenomenon.

      " That's quite the powerful ability you've got there. Self-regeneration... it almost makes up for your lack of finesse. I can see quite clearly that you've got some raw power stored up inside you, but I can also see that you've never really been in a fight before, have you?"

      " Well... not really," she admitted. " But that doesn't mean I can't win this one!"

     He shook his head and glanced backwards for a moment.

      "I have one more question for you. Where is the girl?"

      " You act like I'll actually tell you that. Why do you even want her? What is she to you?"

      " To me, she is nothing. To my employers, she is a tool. Nothing more, nothing less."

     Serena entered a combat stance. " Well then I guess I definitely can't let you get her now." 

     After this comment, Serena saw a blurry shape out of the corner of her eye. Quickly turning to defend herself, she was pounced upon by the kobold. Razor-sharp claws dug into every part of her body in a frenzy of blows; Serena was pinned down and couldn't fight back. The kobold, eventually satisfied with her mauling, got up and observed the bloody mess on the ground. She panted heavily, blood dripping down from her claws. She was about to walk away, when she witnessed what must've looked like a miracle.

     Serena rubbed her head. She then sat up.

      " Ughhhhhh... that hurt. Y'know, the worst part about healing is that you still have to go through the pain first. It really sucks!"

     The kobold's mouth was agape. She was completely speechless. Serena looked down and noticed that her clothes had been torn to shreds in the attack and frowned.

      " Oh, you gotta be kidding me! Great, now I have to find something to wear when I get home."

     The elf blinked next to his accomplice and shook her out of her trance.

      " What the hell are you doing?! Keep attacking her or we wont be able to kill her!"

      " R-right..." She stammered. Taking a moment to collect herself, she got ready to fight again. Serena had stood up in this time. She was fully ready, and fully refreshed.

      " Well, I don't know about you guys, but I'm ready for round two now! And now that you've decided to get serious, I guess I have to as well."

     Serena snapped her fingers, and disappeared.


     The two fighters stood back-to-back, waiting for Serena to attack. She was silently laughing to herself nearby at how on-edge they were. She wiped a tear off of her invisible face and started creeping towards them. She got as close as she dared, and reached her hands out in front of her. Suddenly, she lunged out at the kobold, who heard something coming at her before she felt it. Grabbing the kobold's head in her hands, Serena quickly leaned in and whispered a single world into her ear.

      " Sleep."

     The kobold's eyes rolled into the back of her head as her mind entered the dreamworld. She collapsed over, unconscious. The elf quickly retaliated with a wave of fire aimed in her direction, hitting Serena before she managed to teleport away. The invisibility dissipated, and Serena stood there grinning. The elf was anything but pleased by this. Glancing down first at his sleeping comrade, then over to the corpse of Mann the porc, it was very obvious that the elf had come to a conclusion that he did not like. He glared at the upstart mage who had essentially defeated him, but then took a moment to regain his composure. 

      " Well, it certainly has been fun. But I believe that I'll cut my losses here, rather than overstay my welcome and end up dead."

     Serena gave him a confused look. " Wait, dead? I wasn't gonna kill anybody. Just, like, knock you out so that I can bring you to jail or something."

      " While I would definitely enjoy continuing this encounter, this is not the right environment."

     He turned his back to her and summoned up a small portal. Serena was unsure of what to do in this scenario. Did she let him go? Did she shoot him in the back while he wasn't looking? Serena was frozen in indecision while he completed his spell. He turned around before going through.

      " Tell me before I go. Who exactly are you?"

     Serena unfroze. She thought about answering that question. If she even should answer it. But her pride eventually got control of her vocal cords, and she shouted to the elf.

      " My name is Serena Aradesh Gilamore! And don't you forget it!"

     He smiled before backing up into the portal.

      " Don't worry. I wont." And he was gone.

     The portal closed. Serena was left alone with bodies to look after. And a girl that she had almost forgotten about in the heat of the moment. She quickly put down a mark of summoning and brought Vannesa back to her side. She was startled by the sudden teleporting, but was relieved to see that Serena had won.

      " Alright, let me deal with this one and then we'll go check on Alice. I'm sure she's fine."

     Serena summoned up some honor chains and tethered the kobold to the ground. She then turned at made her way to the porc, with Vannesa at her side. Upon reaching his vicinity, she heard a low moaning coming from behind him. She rushed around the corpse to find Alice weakly trying to free her leg. She looked up and realized that Serena was there.

      " Oh, finally. I thought you might be dead or something. Hurry up and get me the hell out from under this beast. You don't know how much this fucking hurts right now."

      " Alright, don't worry. You'll be just fine in a second or two."

     Serena thought for a moment about the best way to move the body. Physically doing it was out of the question. She finally decided that the best course of action was just to move Alice instead. She grabbed Alice's arm and blinked them several feet away. Alice yelped out in pain as she hit the ground. Her leg looked like a crushed sausage.

     Serena fought her gag reflex as she reached down to touch the leg. She quickly let Light pour through her hands and looked away as the flesh reformed. Alice groaned once more, but then sighed in relief. She shakily stood up.

      " Oh, wow. That's much better. Thanks."

      " No problem! But now we have some other things to attend to."

      " Body disposal isn't my strong suit."

      " What? No no no no, I didn't kill either of them."

     Alice groaned again. " Great. Now what? Did you knock 'em both out?"

      " Well... I got the kobold. The elf got away."

      " Perfect! What do we even do with her?"

      " Don't worry, I have an idea. I'm gonna bring her to a prison. Does that sound good?"

      " Well... I guess so. But you better do that alone. I don't really wanna go anywhere near a prison. You know, since I'm kind of a criminal. So I'll leave that part for you."

      " Very well then! I'll see to it. Now how about we get back to civilization?"

      " No arguments there."

     Serena opened up a portal for the three of them and retrieved the kobold. They walked through, leaving behind the scorched remains of a battlefield.

  • The Favor [Epilogue]

     Serena walked back through another portal, ending up back in her room.

      " Alright, that's one prisoner dropped off! I just told them that she attacked me, and I think the fact that I was covered in blood and my clothes were shredded helped prove it!"

     Serena suddenly frowned. Alice had a backpack on and was fixing the straps on Vannesa's. She looked up at the elf as she entered.

      " Leaving so soon, Alice?"

     The girl scratched the back of her head. " Well... yeah. Sorry about that. Oh, and also sorry about stealing the moose. Just thought I'd get that out of the way. I owe you like, thrice over now? Guess I have to pay that back somehow. Might as well start today."

     Serena felt sorry for her friend. " Alice, where exactly are you planning on going?"

      " Oh, I have a place of my own. My parents left it to me before they died. I haven't been there in a long time. It's really just a shack, but it's still a house, so I'm gonna lay low there for a while with Vannesa. I've had enough excitement for a couple months. Don't even worry."

     Serena put her hands on her hips, and felt the bag that she had previously taken from the thief. Remembering it, she quickly thought of a benevolent act. Taking the bag of holding off of her belt, she offered it to Alice.

      " Here. You could probably use this. I never actually took that gold back out."

      " Wow... I really don't know what to say. Thanks."

      " No problem! Just remember, you owe me four times over now." She winked at Alice.

      " Yeah, I don't think I'll be forgetting about that debt any time soon. Anyway, I think it's about time we left. We've got a pretty long walk ahead of us."

      " Well then, goodbye. I'll get it touch with you if anything comes up, okay?"

      " Alright. Take care. C'mon Vannesa, let's go."

     The duo proceeded to leave the manor. Serena watched from an upstairs window as they walked out of the front gate. She then sighed, and went back to her room to get her book.

  • An excerpt from The Travels of Gyro Gilamore, Volume II

     " There is perhaps no more prestige for a mercenary in the western part of the world than to be a member of the Goro Clan. The group is famous for numerous reasons, the most obvious being that 99% of them are, of course, goros. It is however possible for a person with less than four arms to join; but the qualifications for this are very specific. Because of their martial prowess, these fierce fighters are often hired for extremely dangerous jobs. However, I have heard from numerous clan members that the range of things that they will be hired for is extremely variable. You could hire them to help clear your fields of pests, or you could hire them to help enslave a village. Morals are not their first priority. Their first priority is their code, followed only by money. The code is very simple to understand. The main rule is that each goro is their own man. Each goro who completes a task keeps any money they made during it. Jobs can be taken by each individual at any time, or their leader, Papa Goro, can assign them. His final word is also law in any disputes. We will discuss him more later, in the interview I was allowed to have with him. Now, we will move onto the subje..."

     The page is barely legible here, the paper turning a yellowish-brown color that shows that someone has owned this book for many years.
  • The Twins

     The guard brought down his greatsword with all the force he could muster in his body. His opponent caught the blade between four shortswords, and they struggled against each other's strength. He was beginning to push his blade closer to his foe's face, but the goro pulled back one of his swords and swiftly entered it into the guard's flank, before he could react. Blood started trickling from his mouth, and his grasp on the greatsword quickly loosened. The guard collapsed to the floor, the goro stepping over his corpse.

     Another goro kicked down a door at the other end of the room, entering to assess the situation. This one was carrying an unconscious girl over their shoulder.

      " Nice work, little bro'! I'd say you take that greatsword. It'd make a nice trophy on the wall back home. Good kill, too."

      " Should we check for anyone else?"

      " Nah, who cares. We already got what we came for." She adjusted the girl. " Anyway, do you still remember where we have to bring her? I kinda wasn't paying attention when Papa was reading that part."

      " Yeah, I remember. Let's get out of here."

     The siblings walked out of the home together, past the guards and servants that they had already disposed of. When they got to the road, they threw the girl into the back of their wagon and sped off. 


      " Annnndddd 5,000."

     The goblin drew out one last gold coin and handed it to the twins. The elder one frowned.

      " Hey," She said. " You promised us double this in the job description."

      " Erm... No, I'm pretty sure I said five grand."

     The goro grew angry and reached for a weapon, but her brother caught her arm.

      " Sis', you know the code. No killing customers. But if he doesn't want to pay us right, we don't do business with him anymore. We'll make sure that he's on the list of banned employers."

      " Yeah, yeah, I know the code. Sorry. Let's get the hell out of here. I'm gettin' pretty homesick."

      " Me too."

     When the twins returned to their wagon, they made way for the headquarters of Clan Goro.


     Upon entering the hills, the twins were immediately spotted by a sentry, who they hailed and waved their collective arms to. He waved back at them, and they could hear the blow of a horn in the distance, followed by several more horns. Soon, they were walking down the small dirt trail that led to the entrance of the base, surrounded by younger goros that wanted to know how their job had went.

      " Did you kill anyone?"

      " How much money did you make?"

      " What was the job?"

      " Did you bring me back anything?"

      The brother, eager to show off to the younglings, promised to tell them all about it after they had reported to Papa Goro. They all scampered away, shouting gleefully. The pair entered the cave system where Clan Goro resided, and made their way to Papa Goro's chamber.

     The room that the twins finally reached was lit by several dozen large torches. In this room, the decor resembled that of a lodge that hunters might reside in. Large table dotted it, with notice boards strewn up on almost every wall. Goros laughed and drank and rough-housed all around this space, and at the back of the room sat one goro that was larger than all the rest.

     The twins walked up to this last table, and presented themselves to Papa Goro. The ogre looked down at them, pleased to see that they had returned. He stroked his long, braided beard with his fifth arm and welcomed them to his table.

     The elder sister started their report. " Papa, we completed the job you gave us, but that scumbag cheated us out of half of our money!"

      " Mmmmm...." His deep, gravelly voice resonated with that of a caring grandfather. " No matter. You still received payment, and it was a job well done."

     He turned towards another goro sitting at a nearby table. " Lennard, will you put Hallis the goblin on the blacklist? He's no longer eligible for our services."

      " Sure thing, Papa. I'll get right on it."

      " Mmm...."

     The younger brother joined the conversation. " Papa, do you have any more work for us that we could do? We need to make some extra money now that we lost half our profit."

      " Actually, my child, I do. And I feel like only you two are qualified for this job."

     The twins immediately got excited. 

      " Papa, what job could that be?"

     The ogre cleared his throat. " Well, the actual job is not stated. What is stated in the letter I received is a request to send our best mercenaries to a certain location. A meeting point. Apparently, many different organizations could be involved in this job. But the payout... if this isn't some kind of trap organized by the Law, then you two should definitely go."

      " But wait, what's the pay?"

      " That's the best part, my boy. On successful completion of the job, each member involved with receive 100,000 Gold, in any form."

     The twins' eyes widened. They happily accepted the job, and received all of the details from the letter sent to Papa Goro. The only information present in the letter was everything that he had already told them, however. There was no name of the employer, no reasons, nothing but a simple request to meet at a certain address. The twins' grinned wildly at each other, and gathered up their equipment once again to head out.

  • The Job

     He checked his watch again. He had been waiting for hours. He was at the right address, and it was almost the right time. He had arrived before anyone else, if there even was anyone else coming. He wasn't sure how the hell someone had found him to send a letter, but he was, at the very least, intrigued. He was balancing a dagger on the tip of his finger when he finally heard someone walking up towards the house. Finally.

     Two people entered, and he assumed that they were dwarves based on their height. Looking twice, he realized that they were both goros. That was most interesting. If someone were hiring the goros and him, then it was serious business. He jumped down from the rafters and landed in front of the duo.

      " Whoa, holy shit! Where did you come from?"

      " Not too keen on stealth, are you two? I was watching you for a couple minutes from up there."

     He pointed at the rafters.

      " Oh. Well, that's a pretty good hiding spot. I'm sure you can at least somewhat tell who we are, but it's kinda dark in here. So who are you?"

     He smiled beneath his metallic mask, which hid any traces of it in the first place. He walked over to a lantern on a nearby dusty table.

      " How 'bout I light the place up for us?" He struck a match and lit the lantern. The twins gasped, immediately recognizing the face of the assassin before them in the light of the lantern.

      " You're... You're... Ghostblade! Holy shit! This is so cool!" The brother looked like he was about to hyperventilate. His sister moved in to calm him down.

      " Okay buddy, okay, calm down." She patted his shoulder. " Anyway, it's an honor to work with you, sir. Many of our clan are admirers of your work."

      " Well, it is nice to meet a fan. But we should talk later. Our contact should be here soon."

      " And Indeed I am." boomed a voice from a nearby doorway. The trio spun around, surprised.


     A figure in a heavy, dark cloak  that concealed almost their entire face stepped forth. They looked the three mercenaries up and down.

      " Mmm... a fine group, here. It's excellent to meet all of you. I'm looking forward to observing your work."

     Ghostblade spoke up. " So then you're our employer."

      " That would be correct, master assassin. And I have a very special job for the three of you. Or I should say, the four of you. I have an informant coming as well."

     The younger goro pounded his chest like an ape. " Just tell us what it is already, and we'll do it!"

      " If you're so prepared, then I will."

     The cloaked man took out a folder from beneath his cloak. He opened it and removed several small photos, paintings, and sketches. They were all of a young elven girl. He spread them out on the table for them to look at.

     Ghostblade silently studied the portraits. The twins were slightly confused. 

     Picking up a sketch, the younger goro frowned.

      " So, this girl is our target? Are the three of us really necessary for this? She looks pretty weak, to be honest. What do you think, Ghostblade?"

     The assassin was deep in thought. He began muttering details to himself.

      " Brown hair... grey eyes... the collar..."

     He looked up, amazement in his eyes. " Son of a bitch!"

     He turned towards their employer.

      " Just who the hell are you to want to do something like this? You fucking know who this is?" He waved the photo around in his hand.

      " I'm perfectly aware of what I'm doing. Are you afraid, assassin?"

      " Far, far from it. This just got a lot more interesting. I haven't done something like this in a while."

      " I'm sorry, but what exactly is going on?" Questioned the sister.

      " I'm sure our mystery man can tell you everything."

     The cloaked man sat down at the table in a rickety chair.

      " I'll give you all the information you need after you agree to take the job. And I'm sure that Mr. Ghostblade can fill you on anything I leave out. But more importantly... I believe my informant has arrived."

     At this point, they heard the opening and closing of the door. Turning around, they watched as an elf cautiously walked into the room. He looked the group up and down and walked over to the cloaked man. He whispered something into his ear, to which the cloaked man nodded. Turning now to the trio, the took off his backpack and dumped the contents onto the table. Several small objects landed with a thud. Ghostblade picked one of them up. It was a metal band with what looked like circuitry built into it.

      " Ah, you're probably wondering what that is." The elf began to explain. " Allow me to tell you."

     Picking up one of the other bands, he held it up for all of them to see.

      " This, my friends, is the exact tool you're going to need to complete this job. Your target is a powerful mage and isn't affected by normal silencing effects. Which makes her almost impossible to detain. So, the solution? We don't silence her. All you have to do is pop this little thing around her neck, and that's the end of your problems."

      " Hold on. What exactly do these collars do?" Ghostblade questioned.

      " It's very simple, really. Whenever the wearer tries to cast a spell, it sends an extremely powerful wave of electricity throughout their body. In the case of your target? It's completely non-lethal to her. She'll heal faster than it can hurt her, but the pain should be enough to interrupt anything she tries. It's just about the only way you'll be able to transport her."

     Ghostblade stroked his chin. " Even more interesting..."

      " I'm glad that I've got you so entranced, assassin." Said the cloaked man.

     The elf cleared his throat. " I'll give each of you one just in case any get destroyed or lost. But with your levels of skill, I doubt that my fears will be realized. Alright, I'm done for now, Boss."

     The cloaked man straightened up in his chair and smiled wickedly.

      " Now, let's discuss the plan."

  • An Invitation 

     Alice was flipping a pancake when a letter poofed into existence in front of her.

      " Agh!" She cried as she fell backwards, dropping the contents of her pan.

      " What the fuck! You have got to be kidding me!"

     She angrily got up and grabbed the letter off of her counter. Inspecting it, the envelope was cobalt-blue, and had no official seal or stamp. Cautiously opening it, she pulled out quite a normal piece of paper with a message written on it.

      " Dear Alice

        I know that it's been a few months since our last escapade, but I have a very special thing to ask of you! Next week is a very special occasion: my birthday! And I'd really, really appreciate it if you came to celebrate with us. I promise you that no one there will know of your criminal past, and even if they somehow do I can vouch for you. Plus, I'd really like for you to meet the rest of my family! And there'll be a really big cake! Everyone wins! Also, I'd shave off one of those favors you owe me. I really hope you'll consider.

                                                                                                              Yours Truly,


                                                                    P.S. You can bring Vann if she's still staying with you."


    Alice read the letter as she cleaned up her mess.

      " Oh, great. This can only go well. Shit... it's not like I can say no. I owe her way too much."

     She sighed and prepared to wake up Vannesa.

      " Well," She thought to herself, " At least I'll get some cake out of this."

  • A Party To Remember Part I

     On the grounds, decorations were being put up. Large tables were spread out, where food would later be placed when the guests arrived. A group of elves were directing the workers on where to place everything. On the other side of the manor, a dragon snored loudly as he basked in the morning sun. Upstairs, a certain young woman was awakening from a good night's rest.

     Serena woke up with a loud yawn. She rubbed her eyes and instinctively reached out with her mind to converse with her companion outside.

      " Good morning, Ridge! You know what day it is, right? Why the heck are you still asleep?"

    Getting up, she walked out onto her balcony to watch the whelpling wake up from his slumber.

      " Yes, I remember. Birthday-day. I don't think I could forget. You make such noise on every single one that you have."

    At this point, he had lazily put his head down on his claws, looking over in her direction, but didn't do much else in terms of any effort to get up.

     She stuck her tongue out at him. " Because it's an important day to me! And it should be to you, too. Don't you care about me at all?"

    She could practically feel the heat coming from across the yard in his response.

      " You know that's not a fair question."

      " Yeah, I'm just messing with you, buddy. I know the answer already!"

      " Me too. Can I go sleep now?"

      " Party pooper! I'm just kiddin', go ahead and take a nap, Ridge. I'll wake you up later."

     The dragon's eyelids closed again and he resumed his loud snoring.


     Alice was extremely nervous as the carriage bumped along the road. She was fidgeting with the end of her cloak, which she had switched out for a rich blue one instead of the sleek black she usually wore. This upgrade in material was the same for all of her clothes, and she had taken several valuables out of the Realm of Holding to pay for both her and Vann's attire so that they didn't look like dirty beggars. 

     Finally getting annoyed by this behavior, Vann decided to probe.

      " Alice, why are you so nervous?"

     She looked down at the girl, surprised that she had asked.

      " Oh... I, uh... It's just that I've never really been to something like this before. I mean, I've been to a few of them to do some... less reputable things to the guests' belongings, but I've never actually been to one, as an actual guest. Plus, Serena just makes me nervous by herself. There's just... something about her. It's weird. Maybe it's just me being paranoid or something, I dunno."

     Nothing in this response being untruthful, Vann accepted this and turned around to look at the countryside they were passing through. She set her eyes on the manor in the distance, past rolling stretches of farmland and vineyards. They would be arriving soon. Suddenly, Vann thought of something that might be important. She turned to Alice.

      " You remembered to get her a present, right?"

     Alice's face went blank.

      " Oh shit."


     The carriage came to a halt in front of the gate. Several others were already parked there, but they were apparently empty. Alice paid their driver and politely asked him to wait for them in the same area. Hopping out of the rickety, wooden construct, she made her way to the front gate with Vann behind her. She was surprised to find fully armed guards standing there, decked out in equipment bearing numerous symbols belonging to what was obviously some branch of the Elven Military. She cautiously approached these guards, who proceeded to bar her path.

      " Hold it right there, ma'am. What's your name? Full, please."

     Alice looked over at the other guard. He was holding both a pen and a clipboard with what she could only assume was a guest-list on it.

      " You... uh... you need it?"

     The guard sighed. " Look, girl, if you're just trying to sneak into this party then I need you to leave. We have a lot of high-profile people here and I don't have time for your bullshit."

      " No, wait, I'm definitely supposed to be here! I'm one of Serena's friends!"

      " Well then give me your damn name!"

      " Alice. Alice Mayflower. Go ahead and check, I know I'm on your list." She gave a triumphant smile and crossed her arms, waiting for him or his partner to respond.

     The one with the clipboard flipped back and forth through several pages, before looking up and shaking his head at the other guard. Alice was dumbfounded.

      " Wait, I'm not?"

     The guard put his hand on his sword's hilt. " No, and I suggest you leave now."

      " Whoa, just chill out. Maybe I'm just listed as just Alice?"

      " I'm going to ask you one more time to get back in that carriage and get out of here." 

     She started to walk forward, and he responded by drawing a gleaming, silver sword from its sheath. Alice immediately started to back up again, not wanting to get skewered. Suddenly, voices started coming from the other side of the gate. 

      " No, ma'am, please, we have the situation under control. Just someone trying to sneak in, it's not a big deal. No, We don't need help!"

      " I'll be the judge of that, just let me through!"

     Upon hearing this last voice, Alice breathed a sigh of relief. On the other side of the gate, She recognized a cheerful face that turned to excitement when the owner spotted Alice.

      " There you are! I was wondering when you'd get here." Serena said with a smile. She turned to the guards.

      " Open this gate immediately and let her through! I invited her."

     The guard brandishing his weapon reluctantly put it away and ushered Alice over to the gate. She and Vann walked through, where Serena greeted her with a giant hug that knocked the air out of her lungs. When she finally pulled away, Alice took a better look around the yard. She noticed even more guards stationed around at various places.

      " What's with all the extra security? Don't you own a fuckin' dragon?"

      " Well... I'll tell you in a minute. Let's go socialize."

      " Uh... okay?"

     And with that, Serena frisked the two of them away into a throng of guests.

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