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Magic ~ A Title I Made Up Off The Top Of My Head

Discussion in 'Literature Library' started by Owly, Apr 23, 2017.

  1. Owly

    Owly Friend of the Eco, Foe of the System

    (Eevee (J))
    Level 9
    Feb 3, 2017
    So, I'm writing this thing.
    It's being written as we speak, and I'm writing it on a certain very secluded website, but I really like it and I want to see what other authors would think of it. So, here it is.
    Only a few of the characters are mine. I'm writing it, and I invent all the NPCs and the main-main character is mine, but all the others have been supplied on said website. There. Now no one can sue me.
    I update this on Wednesdays and Sundays - today was the first day. So, here are some things to read:

    Ashildr leaned against the car, trying to keep up a calm facade while staring at her cell phone. She had gotten it precisely for this purpose, really: that when the time came, she would be able to lean against something, plug in her earbuds, and text like she was some high schooler in Starbucks.
    Luckily, it was only about nine o'clock, and nobody was asleep at that time. Ashildr was able to have a very realistic conversation as she waited. Hey, Ash, what's up? U shud come over tomorrow: we're having spaghetti.
    Nah, won't be able to make it. We're going to a movie.
    Cool, which one?
    Dad's an Emma Watson fanatic.
    Say no more.
    "Honey, are you doing okay?" Ashildr looked up at the officer, who was bending slightly to be face to face with her. "I know this is rather traumatic for you."
    "I'm fine," she replied, shrugging with a teenage air.
    "Good. Then you won't mind if I ask a few questions."
    "Fire away." She had prepared for this.
    "What's your full name?"
    "Aishling Luna O'Brien. I'm Irish."
    "What about your father's?"
    "Michael William O'Brien." That wasn't true. His name was Áed.
    "Where were you two headed?"
    "We were going to the movies in the strip mall up ahead, to see Beauty and the Beast." That was, technically speaking, true. They were going to hide in the movie theater.
    "Thank you. I'll come back if I need to ask you anything else." Ashildr noticed the obvious lack of what happened? She, of course, had an answer ready, but it wasn't needed. The smashed driver's-side window, cowering daughter, and beaten father showed it all.
    They hadn't made it. Somehow, their chasers had missed Ashildr, but there was still the matter of her father. Dead, the medics had said. Rediculous, Ashildr knew. All she had to do was get to him and everything would be fine.
    Everyone there was very distracted. The flashing lights and CAUTION tape sent even the policemen into a panic. This was a small town; nothing like this had ever happened before, and there was only so much you could do. That made it much easier for Ashildr to sneak right up to her father's body and wrench his jaws open.
    "Taispeáin dom má tá sé ina chónaí," she whispered. "Ostende mihi vivit."
    A thick white smoke billowed from her mouth and down his throat, spiralling and contracting, writhing as it entered its new host. But it soon billowed, overflowed, and poured out of his mouth again. "No. Impossible. Taispeáin dom má tá sé ina chónaí. Ostende mihi vivit. Ostende mihi vivit!"
    No matter how many times she repeated the spell, it was painfully obvious.
    Her father was dead.
    Ashildr wrenched open the backseat door, crawling into the car and hefting out one of the cushions. There was a messenger bag there, smushed from being hidden so long, but ready if she ever had to flee. Ashildr snatched it up, slung it over her shoulder, and got out of the car again, sprinting into the woods.
    When she was far enough away, she pulled out a flashlight from the bag and rummaged around for the notebook. That was the most important thing, bigger than even the map. If the notebook was not there, all was lost.
    She breathed a sigh of relief as her hands closed around its hard leather surface, pulling out the brown-binded book and flipping it open. Her father's handwriting had not changed in thousands of years: it was still almost impossible to decipher. Still, she only needed to refresh her memory, not learn anything anew.

    A bit of necessary background info:
    On your travels, you will encounter many creatures, and it is essential that you know how to recognize them, and battle them if need be. Know that all magical creatures are either immortal or undead, so the methods for defeating them must be followed to the letter. The rarities are from one to five, one being the rarest and five the most common. Please be careful, my darling. Remember, every magical creature can transform themselves to look human, so be alert at all times.

    Species: Dragon
    Rarity: 1 - there are many of us in this world, but almost all are hibernating and healing. I doubt you will come across another waking dragon on your travels.
    Types: Riding (that is you, my dear - designed for others to fly on, red-scaled); hunting (as I am, made to seek out prey and capture it, blue-scaled); fighting (the most dangerous of all, I pray that you do not meet one of these vicious creatures on your quest, black-scaled); breeding (like your mother, made purely to keep the species alive. Beware - they have a violent streak, purple-scaled).
    Powers: Fire-breathing, flight, impenetrability (do not let anyone get under your scales or you shall be truly doomed).
    Identifying features: long, claw-like nails; wild hair; short build. It is possible they may show you their wings, but unlikely.
    Weaknesses: If you ever find yourself fighting a dragon, get your claws under their scales before they get under yours. You are agile and quick, like all of your type; most other dragons are slow, but harder to breach the defenses of. Fighting dragons do not have scales on their stomachs, so if you do find yourself battling one, get under them. Just remember: this lack of scales makes them the quickest of the dragons, so beware.
    Immortality: It is impossible to kill a dragon, as you know. But we can be mortally injured, and fall alseep to heal our wounds. This happened to you when you attempted to join the American Revolution, do you recall? You slept through much of the Western Expansion. Remember that dragons are one of the oldest species on this planet, and can come from as long ago as Ancient Greece.

    Species: Pixie
    Rarity: 5 - they normally travel in packs, and there are many around this world.
    Types: Flying (Flying Pixies are often called fairies by the humans because of their wings and small shape); shape-shifting (one of the trickiest, as they use these powers to pass off as anything and then wreak havoc); spell-casting (the most dangerous, as they are tiny, powerful targets); boogieman (terrifying pixies, ones that prefer scaring humans as opposed to their other, prankster relatives).
    Powers: Invisibility, changing their height (each type of pixie has a separate set of powers.)
    Identifying features: A small, skinny build; short hair; freckles; a light, common laugh; pointed ears in some cases.
    Weaknesses: All pixies cannot resist a good joke, and will fall over laughing; they especially appreciate slapstick. Flying Pixies' wings are incredibly delicate and can be harmed simply by touching them. If you can find a way to silence a Spell-Casting Pixie, they are completely harmless. Boogieman Pixies detest the light, especially sunlight.
    Immortality: Pixies are easily confined, and it is difficult for them to escape almost any cage, but they cannot die, as they don't have blood in their veins or a heart to pump it. Remember that Pixies are generally not more than a few hundred years old, as they first started appearing in the sixteenth century.

    Species: Mermaid
    Rarity: 3
    Types: Selkie (shifters, though they are limited to mer-shape, sea creature-shape, and human-shape), Siren (the most beautiful, with singing voices that will lure anyone towards them - but beware, for they are the singular carnivorous species of mermaid); Maiden (the ones most commonly seen by humans, and a completely useless breed in my opinion).
    Powers: They do not breathe, resistance to pressure, inhuman strength, communication with sea creatures
    Identifying features: Very long hair, an attachment to water, flirtatious nature,
    Weaknesses: Mermaids dehydrate if they are out of the water too long, and become weak and susceptible. In order to shift into their creature-shape, Selkies need their skin (often a piece of clothing), and are stuck as a human/mermaid without it. Sirens admire voices as beautiful as theirs and will let you free if you impress them. Maidens are flirtatious and weak, though they have a tendancy to befriend other, stronger sea creatures - beware of those.
    Immortality: Mermaids do not breathe, and therefore do not need lungs; they have no blood to react to pressure with. They can feel pain, but are not damaged by attacks. The best thing to do is render them incapable of whatever they are attempting. Remember that mermaids are creatures that first came about during the Reconaissance, though ones that old have generally retired to the middle of the ocean by this time.

    Species: Vampire
    Rarity: 4
    Types: Pack (travel in groups and are very vicious when together. They are very loud and blend into crowds, trying to isolate groups to attack.); Lone (travel alone, very bloodthirsty. Usually hunt in small areas, blend in with the background, and attack singular people).
    Powers: Turning into bats, knowing their exact location at all times, a limited teleportation, night vision
    Identifying features: Overlarge canines, a goth dressing style, overly pale skin
    Weaknesses: Vampires dislike garlic, and enough of it will make them hesitate before attacking you, though it is not the best weapon. They are not susceptible to holy water or crosses, so DO NOT USE THESE. Wooden stakes are the best, though they are also injured by silver. They detest sunlight, though it will not kill them, and lightbulbs/flashlights have no effect.
    Immortality: Vampires are undead. They do not have blood, but they do have a heart. Piercing this heart will cause them to return to their grave - the time depends on the severity of the wound - before they can walk the Earth again. Remember that vampires average at about two hundred years old, though they first began appearing in the eighteenth century.

    Species: Werewolf
    Rarity: 3
    Types: Hybrid (can turn into a wolf at will, generally very bloodthirsty and dangerous creatures even as humans); Moon (only turn into a wolf at the full moon, though they still have dangerous qualities as humans); Lycanthrope (can turn into a wolf at will, though also turn into one at the full moon; at this time they have no control over their actions, and tend to be rather docile otherwise).
    Powers: Shifting into wolves, inhuman strength, inhuman agility, night vision
    Identifying features: A lot of hair, scarring, a tall stature, sharp teeth
    Weaknesses: Werewolves are injured by anything silver, and even touching it against them will make them cry out in pain. Other weapons don't even harm them, however. They detest getting wet and will avoid water at all costs.
    Immortality: Werewolves can die. However, if you kill them, they are not destroyed; a hundred years after dying, they return as an Undead, and the only way to fend them off is returning them to their grave, similar to a vampire. Remember, werewolves can be ordinary humans with their lifespans, but once they die they can be hundreds of years old - I once meta 567-year-old Lycanthrope when I was searching for your mother.

    Species: Morphlings
    Rarity: 2
    Types: Gryphon (half lion, half eagle); Hippogriff (half horse, half eagle); Sphinx (half lion, half woman); Chimera (part lion, goat, snake, and dragon).
    Powers: Ingenuity, heightened speed, inhuman strength
    Identifying features: A perfect posture, long hair, a tendancy to show off, a way with animals
    Weaknesses: The best way to defeat a Morphling is to outsmart it. Treat it with respect; they are not usually agressive animals unless they are offended or otherwise instigated. If you find yourself being attacked by a Morphling, however, they are easily hurt by anything that might harm a human. Beware, though, for this does not incapacitate them.
    Immortality: When a Morphling is killed, it turns to stone for fifty years. When this time is up, it returns to its life as usual until it is defeated again. Morphlings live indefinitely and are not killed in one blow.

    Part 1 - There Are Scents in the Air
    Ashildr shut the book carefully, placing it back amongst the other things in her messenger bag. Rifling around a bit, she soon extracted a map from its depths, which she unfolded carefully. Her father had tediously marked every small thing that the map covered, and by looking at it Ashildr knew where the nearest convenience store, strip mall, town, or city was. There were also symbols he hadn't told her about - ones that she suspected had to do with his killers.
    "You should have told me about them," Ashildr whispered into the forest. "I could've helped. I didn't know anything. If I did, maybe - "
    Something wet and warm rolled down her cheek, and she swiped at it unconsciously before recognizing it as a tear. Ashildr hadn't cried since the day a hundred years ago when her father returned from his own quest, telling her that her mother would most likely sleep until the Earth was torn apart.
    That was a reference to old dragon lore, one of the most famous in the magical creatures' world. It was also one of Ashildr's favorite tales, though certainly not the nicest. It was said that in the Old Days there was one dragon: Chéad (though that was only her own, Celtic name; other dragons from other parts of the world called him Primum, Próta, Saisho - they were as endless as the locations). In those days, the Earth was much bigger, and so Chéad had grown to fit that size. However, he soon became a giant, with claws so long and durable they were said to scrape holes in the earth. When Chéad walked, his feet dragged along, and he began to wear down the planet, until suddenly it was the size of a marble for him.
    Disappointed, he spread his wings and shot off the planet in one flap. This sent it careening across the sky, shifting the water into waves and pulling up the earth to make mountains. When the planet was still again, it found itself relying on the Sun's light and warmth.
    However, the story goes that Chéad is still searching for a home, and one day he will return to Earth. And when he does, he will be so large that even touching its delicate surface would break their planet into bits, turning it to dust.
    Ashildr folded up the map carefully.
    When the Earth was destroyed, it was said that only the dragons would survive. The other creatures would remain injured beyond anything they could possibly imagine, too weak to even heal; but the dragons would simply sleep. And, no matter how long it would take - even if it was an eternity - their cells would recombine and they would fly the skies with Chéad, searching for a new home.
    Ashildr stood, brushing off her pants and staring at the thick trees. If she headed directly west, she would reach a strip mall in no time.
    It is said that the home the dragons will find is where Chéad will finally rest. As they land and rebuild their lives, he will lie down and sleep for a millenia, tired from flying around the galaxy, battling the monsters in the constellations. When he does, he will solidify like a Morphling, and become the most powerful temple dragonkind had ever seen.
    She began to walk, feet crunching against the fallen, browning leaves.
    He would never wake.
    Ashildr had been going over what she had to do if the Quest came upon her for centuries. It was edited as time passed, of course, and one of the additions made in the twentieth century was to stock up on storable foods. Canned beans, instant ramen, water bottles - anything that she could carry in her bag without trouble. If worse came to worse, she could hunt, but Ashildr had not relied on her capabilities in that field since the days that dragons roamed without fear. She was afraid that she would not be able to sustain herself on raw meat alone.
    She spent a lot of time merely at the grocery store, but there was more to find. Her most prominent concern was transport. Though Ashildr was definitely allowed a driver's license, her appearance didn't show it. Her modern human looks revealed a girl of about fifteen, though her stature and build often made people think she was thirteen, with wild red hair in a singular ponytail and light brown eyes. In the past, she had forged birth certificates in order to recieve licenses, but as security increased, she and her father agreed it was too dangerous to continue the action, and did not return when her license expired for the last time.
    Luckily, the mall had a bicycle shop. It took Ashildr a while to find a bike that fit her, but with the shopkeeper's help, she found one her size. It was a dark shade of purple, with thin poles holding it together. Ashildr had to smile. She could still remember her first ride on a bike, when the front wheel was so tall she could have sworn she would topple to her doom.
    Today's bicycles were not at all like that, and Ashildr was going at a steady pace along a less-used highway. Suddenly, she pressed on the brakes so hard the bike skidded and didn't topple over only because she'd supported it with her foot.
    There was a smell in the air.
    An old-timer smell. Some magical creatures were more difficult to discern than others, but the oldest were the most conspicuous - like her, or her father, or whatever Ashildr was smelling. Trying to cover up for her abrupt stop, Ashildr fished around in her bag for a water bottle, settling at the side of the road.
    And there he was.
    "You very nearly fell back there," said the man in a deep voice. "What was the hurry?"
    "I was - getting dizzy," replied Ashildr, thinking fast. "Biking too long with no water. Really takes it out of you."
    She smiled weakly, but used the time to examine her companion more closely. He sat up very straight on the neatly trimmed grass, his dark clothing and skin accenting him against the backdrop. His black hair was slightly mussed - on purpose or from the wind Ashildr didn't know - and his eyes glinted gold.
    That was the giveaway. Ashildr thought for a moment, trying to think of a creature that matched his appearance. He was most likely a Morphling; only they got so old, and his dark skin screamed Africa.
    "Where are you from?" Ashildr asked innocently, crossing her fingers behind her back.
    He smiled. "Does my accent show? I thought it wouldn't. I've spent a while perfecting my English. I'm Egyptian," he explained, confirming her suspicions.
    "How long?"
    "A while. I don't keep track exactly."
    Morphlings could be very dangerous - but they could also be excellent allies. Ashildr had to decide which he was going to be - and quickly. "Where are you from, little dragon?"
    She reeled in shock. "Definitely a Morphling," Ashildr grumbled, remembering the last time she'd come in contact with one, and how annoyingly omniscient he seemed to be. "Ireland, though I lived in Scotland for quite a while. Oh, and don't worry, your accent doesn't show."
    "I thought not. You look rather young."
    "I'm still aging." This was true. Now that Ashildr was separated from her father, it was more than likely she would grow into an adult maturity. "Will you tell me your name?"
    "Only if you promise not to lie if I ask you yours. I am Argen."
    "I'm Ashildr."
    "I've heard of you," he mused. "Weren't you in Ca - "
    Both of them stopped suddenly, and sat up straighter. There was no need to talk - they had both heard the snap behind them, and smelled it. It was a smell no creature ever wanted to encounter, especially when alone.
    The smell of blood.
    "Vampires," Argen muttered. "I hate the things."
    They both stood, slowly, and Ashildr pulled her messenger bag over her shoulder, searching with her fingers carefully inside as their hunters revealed themselves. It was a small group, evidently scouts from a larger pack, who smiled and drooled when they saw the two. "You look like you're in a bit of a tight spot," said the first. His voice was accented and sharp, almost staccato. "Mind if we lend a hand?"
    "I had been getting hungry," Argen said smoothly.
    "Very funny," said the same one. "Are you a werewolf? I love hunting werewolves. They always think they can defeat us."
    Ashildr's hand came in contact with something cold and metal. "And I suppose I'm a pixie."
    The second looked at her before speaking in a drawling, monotonus tone. "You do look it . . . but your hair is too long. Actually, I think you're a mermaid."
    It was all Ashildr could do to stop from laughing. Stupid, stupid vampires. "What clan are you a part of? I want to report you to your leaders."
    "Ah, so we've got a pack of werewolves. Lead us to their hideout!"
    The third, and final, vampire smacked the first on the back of the head. "Idiots! Can't you smell the Old on their skin? They are dragons! Or Morphlings!"
    If vampires could pale, the first two did. Ashildr and Argen glanced at each other. She wasn't sure exactly what type of Morphling Argen was, but they tended to draw attention - and so would a gigantic, bright red dragon. "I have another way," Ashildr mouthed, gesturing ever so faintly to her bag. Argen gave her a shadow of a nod.
    As the vampires began to gloat again, realizing the two's predicament, Ashildr quickly whipped the item out of her bag, aimed it at the vampires, and fired.
    The bang! alerted them to danger, and three bats flitted away from their clustered form. The first to materialize was the first vampire to speak. "You shot a silver bullet at us!"
    "Yes, I did," Ashildr replied, blowing at the tip of the gun. It was very old - an antique - but they couldn't risk forging gun licenses.
    "That's cheating!" the vampire griped, pacing. "We're supposed to find out you're a dragon. Then you turn into a dragon. We get fatally wounded and then I heroically manage to get my fangs under your scales, causing you to collapse. We drag you home to the rest of Clan Kalshrani, and feast for days!"
    He clapped his hand over his mouth suddenly, realizing what he'd said.
    "I say we find this Clan Kalshrani," Argen said to her, raising his eyebrows. "And these boys are going to tell us where they are."
    "Hey! No!" cried the second, backing up a bit. "Attack Jean-Luce. He's the one who actually knows stuff."
    "Don't attack me," said the third. "I can direct you to another vampire who will be much more trustworthy than us. Her name is Nocturna pon Kalshrani and she lives in the nearby town, by the shore."
    They stared at the three, long and hard, daring them to attack again. After a few moments, the vampires scuttled back into the woods and vanished.
    "Idiots," Argen grunted.
    They made the town by nightfall - Argen had a truck - and immediately noticed the smell of the sea. There were different sorts of coastal areas, usually populated by one sort of mermaid, but this had the smell of all three.
    "Must be quite a place we've gotten ourselves into," Argen murmured. "Smells big as Atlantis."
    "I've heard of an American/Canadian group of merpeople living in the Atlantic Ocean," Ashildr whispered back. If their discussions were heard, it could be disastrous. "Still, it wasn't from a very reliable source. I doubted they were real. Though this smell says otherwise . . . "
    "Keep your eyes open. We definitely don't want to be disrespectful to any members of the Mer-Guild."
    Ashildr nodded in agreement, glancing around.
    It was a nice town. Sand from the small beach bordering it blew into suburban lawns and onto thin sidewalks. It was organized almost symmetrically, with one long street full of two-story houses and the other with shops full of knicknacks and essentials. The two agreed to split up, Ashildr taking the line of stores, searching for a vampire.
    She didn't find one right away.
    Ashildr had stopped in the butcher shop, thinking that hunks of raw meat would draw any vampire right in. She didn't notice any obvious vampires, but there was someone else, purchasing a hunk of steak. There was something odd about the way she did it, and how she glanced from side to side, as though looking out for someone.
    Ashildr decided that was worth investigating, and stayed inside the shop as the girl continued her transaction. She had long dark hair and looked fairly normal in jeans and a light jacket, but Ashildr kept one eye on her while pretending to examine a huge leg of beef. It was making her mouth water a bit, just hanging there from a ceiling beam . . .
    The girl turned around, paper bag from the shop in hand, and left the store, the bells by the door tinkling as she pushed it open. Ashildr dug in the back pocket of her jeans, pulling out a wallet and looking inside, then back at the beef. "Shoot," she said aloud, pocketing it again. Ashildr actually had enough money to buy the entire store, but she needed an excuse to leave without attracting the shopkeeper's attention, who had been looking at her expectantly.
    Ashildr regretted going outside as soon as she left. The air was so full of mer-scent that there was no chance she'd be able to isolate one girl's - especially because the dragon wasn't sure that she was a mermaid, anyway. It looked like she'd have to take a more subtle approach.
    "Excuse me," said Ashildr, hurrying up to the girl. "Would you mind taking a quick anonymous survey? Great! Just step right over here. First question: What do you look for in a house?"
    She stared at Ashildr quizzically. "That's a weird survey, but . . . multiple stories and wide windows."
    "Secondly, how much time do you spend on the beach?"
    "Almost all of it. I love the water."
    "Thirdly, how would you feel about condos being built on the beach?"
    "That is the stupidest thing I've ever heard and any project being designed for that purpose had better stop now."
    Ashildr smirked. Jackpot. "That's all. Thanks for your time."
    "Good, because I wanted to ask you a question." Like Ashildr, the girl didn't wait before asking, "Why do you smell like reptile?"
    Ashildr inwardly hit herself as her mind drew a blank. She'd been training for this for literally centuries. How could one of the million responses she and her father developed not come to her?
    "I thought so. I didn't think there were any dragons left awake."
    "Very few," Ashildr admitted. "I'm the only one I know of. If you don't mind me asking, what type of mermaid are you?"
    "Selkie. Are you a riding dragon?"
    She nodded in reply. "I'm sorry to bother you, but do you happen to know of a vampire in this area? We got attacked by three of them on the highway and we need to figure out where their clan is."
    "Are you on a quest?"
    Ashildr bit her lip. "Yes."
    "Where to?"
    "I can't tell you that."
    "Well, I want to join you. I've had enough of this place. I need to see something new."
    "We won't be near water all the time."
    "I don't care," replied the selkie, shrugging. "Just drinking enough keeps me conscious. And, by the way, I do know the vampire you're talking about - but I won't tell you where she is until you let me come with you."
    There wasn't even a hesitation. "Yes. If you're sure you can handle it."
    "Cool. Nocturna pon Kalshrani lives on the outskirts of town. She's a pack vampire, but she's staying away for a bit because she got into some trouble. She's not a bad person, though . . . intense. Expect a fight, but only for fun. And she'll probably want to see your dragon form."
    "Sounds great," Ashildr sighed. "Are you coming with? I can introduce you to my Morphling companion."
    "I need to grab some stuff first. Meet me at the edge of the ocean in an hour."
    The selkie turned to leave, but Ashildr called after her, "Wait! I need a name to ask for."
    She smiled. "I'm Sorrel Agne."
    Ashildr found Argen in the grocery store, picking out garlic. "We won't need that," she told him, glancing at his already overflowing bag.
    "You can never be too careful," he replied, selecting a final one. "Even if we don't need it for Miss Kalshrani, Clan Kalshrani will definitely be overflowing with hostiles."
    She snatched the bag from him. "Five cloves of garlic. That's it."
    He took a while poring through the bag, finding the largest and smelliest cloves to take with him. When they finally bought them, Ashildr grabbed the garlic and stuffed it into the very bottom of her messenger bag. "We're not hostile and neither is she," she warned him. He raised his eyebrows but said nothing. Hopefully he didn't realize that she had stuck her gun deep into her back pocket just in case.
    Nocturna's house was elevated slightly, with rickety old steps leading up to a wooden door with a bronze bell hanging by the window. Ashildr tinkled it as she arrived and the door flew open. "Oh. Sorry," said a red-haired girl. "I thought you were someone else. I'm not interested in whatever you're selling."
    Ashildr stuck her foot in the door as Nocturna made to close it, surprised at their closeness in hair color and style. Though the dragon's was much curlier than Nocturna's, they were about the same length, and their ponytails seemed to hang in the same spot, right down to the bangs in front of each ear. "We're not Clan Kalshrani, but we're here to ask you about them."
    "Why do you want to know about my pack?"
    "We ran into some scouts who tried to kill us. That's violating the Restrictions. We need to talk to their leader."
    "The Vezetö will never let you come near them," Nocturna warned. "But I will tell you where to find them . . . on two conditions."
    "Name them."
    "First, when you appeal for compensation, ask for a temporary release of Nocturna pon Kalshrani."
    "Secondly, I want a sparring match. You versus me. Though if you're a mermaid or pixie, then forget it."
    "I'll spar with you," Ashildr agreed. "I used to do it quite often, as part of my training."
    "Great! I love a challenge." Nocturna backed into the house, letting Ashildr and Argen inside. It was a dismal place, not taken care of at all, with cobwebs in every corner and dust on every surface. Nocturna stood in the middle of an emtpy room to their right, directly across from a set of decaying stairs going up to the second floor.
    "I don't think this is safe," Argen muttered to Ashildr. "I have no doubt you can take her on, but Sorrel told you Nocturna is intense. For all we know she could be playing to put you to sleep."
    "And me to put her back in her grave. I don't think she wants to do that, Argen. I agree there will probably be high stakes, but you know where I'm from."
    "Well, I hope they had a very good training program. And if I think she's gone too far, I'm leaping at Nocturna in full form."
    "That's fair. I'm tempted to let her beat me now, just to see what you are."
    "Fat chance. Anyway, if you visit the Clan Kalshrani all beat up, they're not going to take you seriously. Actually, they'll get hungry."
    Ashildr nodded and stepped into the room.
    She had sparred quite often during training, centuries ago, but she had never fallen out of practice, often fighting with her father. So Ashildr was not taken aback when Nocturna threw a punch, and easily ducked out of the way, letting out a jab of her own. Soon they were both connecting, slowing, connecting again, slowing again. Ashildr thought that perhaps she had a black eye, but she wasn't quite sure, as she couldn't remember - nor did she have the time to try - whether or not Nocturna's fist had connected with her face. Finally, when Ashildr's fists began to bleed, she threw up her arms and surrendered. "I can't get too beat up if I'm going to face the Vezetö."
    Nocturna nodded in agreement, sprinting upstairs and coming back down with a vial of murky liquid. "This should fix you up."
    Ashildr stared at it. "I haven't seen Só Leigheas in years." The potion was used to heal any injury except death. It took time to go into effect, depending on the wound, but it was super effective every time. It was also incredibly rare.
    "Só Leigheas? This is Gyógyít," Nocturna said, tipping the bottle to catch the light. "Vampires are experts in making it."
    They both looked at Argen. He shrugged. "Sounds like they translate to the same thing. I think the potion must be like your Chéad, Ashildr - it goes by different names."
    Ashildr shrugged and took a swig from the vial. She didn't need the whole thing - that was for extreme cases. A single drop of Só Leigheas could heal a black eye.
    "Well," said Nocturna, after healing herself too, "Shall I take you to Clan Kalshrani?"
    Stop hovering to collapse... Click to collapse... Hover to expand... Click to expand...
    An Evil Wizard likes this.
  2. Owly

    Owly Friend of the Eco, Foe of the System

    (Eevee (J))
    Level 9
    Feb 3, 2017
    Sooo, RL was crazy, and I finally finished this a day late. It's a little shorter than Part 1, but I didn't want to leave everyone in suspense too long.

    Part 2 - The Solemn Word

    Clan Kalshrani was hidden in the middle of the woods. A deer trail, with areas coated with leaves or fallen trees, led the way, with a river blocking the road at a certain point. It was about an hour's walk from Nocturna's house, but eventually they arrived, where a wall of boulders blocked their path.
    "Nyissa ki az ajtót," Nocturna murmured, swaying slightly. "Hadd kövessem az utat. Hadd lépjek be a világba." With those words, she scraped one fingernail against the rock. "Ismerje fel. Fogadj el. Hadd jöjjek." The boulders slowly rolled back, over and over each other until they stood as two towers on either side of the path. "Állítsd meg magadat és engedj át," said Nocturna finally, stepping through and gesturing for Ashildr and Argen to do the same.
    As Argen stepped past the towers, they collapsed into each other, forming a solid wall once more. He raised his eyebrows. "That's impressive magic. Just how powerful is Clan Kalshrani?"
    In response, Nocturna pulled back a curtain of vines.
    The Clan was a circle of black tents, some smaller than others. The largest was in the back of the circle, but centered, and in front of it was a wooden panel where five vampires sat. They didn't bother to hide their Full Forms, and sat proudly on what were probably thrones. Vampires, though eerily pale in human form, could be all sorts of colors in Full Form, such as green, purple, or a snow white.
    Nocturna trailed a bit behind Ashildr and Argen as they approached the panel, halting as they passed a fire pit at the center. They didn't notice, though, too fixated on the Vezetö and their hard stares. "Identify yourselves. Why do you come?"
    "This is Ashildr, and I am Argen Stone. We are here to appeal for compensation."
    A vampire with skin the color of blood leaned over the panel, his dark bangs swishing into his black eyes. "Appeal for compensation? What Restriction have we violated?"
    "Yesterday, an unprovoked attack by three of your scounts was launched on Ashildr and me. When we revealed that we were magical creatures, they did not relent, and Ashildr was forced to defend herself with a silver bullet. As you know, the Restrictions state that no magical creature may hunt another for sport or supplies."
    The same vampire nodded, sitting back in his throne again. "That is fair. We were unaware of this and will compensate it fairly. What are your demands?"
    "Our first request is that the Vampire Clan Kalshrani agrees to grant one favor to Ashildr or Argen Stone should we ask for it, with no denial or trickery."
    "Only if it does not endanger the Clan."
    "Done." Argen glanced at Ashildr to continue.
    "Our second request," she said, "is a pardon for bringing garlic into the camp of the Vampire Clan Kalshrani."
    The panel hissed collectively, their canines on unnerving display as they recoiled. "You brought garlic into the grounds of the Clan? That, too, violates the Restrictions!"
    "No, it doesn't," replied Ashildr. "The Restrictions state that a creature may not bring unannounced weapons into another creature's sanctuary. I now announce that I have a gun loaded with silver bullets and five cloves of garlic in my possession. Would you like them confiscated or will a promise be enough?"
    They talked among each other for a moment before the dark-haired vampire said, "Keep your garlic. It repulses us, not harms us. We will keep the gun for the remainder of the meeting."
    Ashildr was no stranger to creature etiquette, and bowed her head before walking up to the panel, gun flat in her palms. She did not look at them, but placed the weapon on the panel before returning to her place beside Argen. "Our final request is a temporary release for Nocturna pon Kalshrani."
    There was no debate. A vampire with strange orange hair and dark blue skin instantly replied, "Granted. Nocturna is not welcome in the Clan."
    From the corner of her eye, Ashildr saw Nocturna cringe. The two bowed, retrieved the gun, and exited the camp with her on their heels.
    "What was that all about?" Ashildr asked. "I thought that would be the most difficult thing to retrieve. Aren't vampires in a Clan treasured above all else?"
    Nocturna shrugged. "I've never been anyone's favorite. I did something the Vezetö really didn't want me to do, so, I've been avoiding them for a while. A bit of traveling would be a good excuse, wouldn't it?"
    They nodded in agreement.
    "But there's something more important. Ashildr, you were carrying garlic? I thought your bag smelled odd, but I never imagined you'd come to me like that. Don't think I don't know who it was intended for."
    "Obviously, you don't," Argen grunted. "Ashildr made it very clear none of the garlic was to be used on you."
    "I almost had him at gunpoint," said Ashildr, smiling a bit. "I promise, the garlic was just a last resort in case the Vesetö were more hostile. Luckily, we didn't need to use it."
    Nocturna frowned, but nodded. "We should get back to town. I want to be away from here before one of them comes out. The blue skinned one? He's my grandfather, and I'm sure he'll want to do some really fun 'you have a responsibility to your Clan' talks."
    No one really knew what to say to that, so they started off down the trail again.
    "Where have you been?" Sorrel demanded as Ashildr approached her. She had found a piece of driftwood to lounge on, and a thick, well-packed duffel bag rested on the sand by her high-tops. "It's been at least two hours."
    "Sorry," Ashildr said. "We went to see Clan Kalshrani."
    "Hey. I thought I was part of this quest - though you haven't even told me what we're questing for, which is totally making me trust you, by the way - but instead you just prance off and do whatever you want, leaving me to watch Maiden Flirt Time."
    "Maiden what?"
    "Ugh - never mind. You're concentrating on the wrong thing. The deal is, if you do something, I want in, okay? No abandoning the selkie on the beach again."
    "Fine. Sure. I'm sorry, Sorrel."
    "That's better," the mermaid grunted, tossing her hair. "Looks like you found Nocturna."
    "They sure did," Nocturna said, grinning. "I'm glad to see you're coming with us. Being stuck with two Old for the entire trip would be quite a bore."
    "Oh, um, about that. Remember when I talked about Maiden Flirt Time? There's this one girl I know . . . she's really nice, but there's this horrible story - her parents ended up being psychopaths - I'm not going to get into the details. But her name's Adelaid and she really wants to join us."
    "I don't know," Ashildr said. "I'd have to meet her first. And, I mean, this really wasn't meant to be a group quest . . . more a thing to do on my own."
    "You can meet me now," said a voice behind them.
    Everyone turned to face a girl. Her hair was long and stringy, her nose hawkish. She was pale, slender, and gangly, her eyes an unnervingly light blue. The shirt she wore seemed to be two hundred years old, greying and frayed in areas, and her pants were a little too long for her, rolled up to reveal a pair of bare feet. "I don't mean to intrude," the girl continued. "I don't have to join you. I just thought it would be fun . . . and I have so many bad memories here . . . "
    Her voice cracked a bit, and Ashildr's heart broke with pity. "Of course you can come with us. I know all about bad memories."
    She skipped in the sand a bit, melting almost everyone's heart. "Then we should head out! It's Siren Feeding Time anyway, and no one wants to be around for that."
    Ashildr shuddered. "Certainly not. The sirens here feed on humans?"
    "Sometimes," Sorrel pitched in. "Rarely, honestly. But they love letting us watch as they eat - the selkies especially, everyone knows they make it extra gorey if they catch something a selkie shifts into. They also love it if there's a merman around - ah, speak of the devil. CarrAskan doesn't know when to get out of the area."
    "CarrAskan?" Ashildr repeated, glancing at Argen for clarification.
    "It means the Broken Spear," he replied. "Doesn't sound like the best name for someone."
    "Oh, well, his name's Caspian, but no one calls him that," Sorrel replied. "Plus, it's kind of funny when he gets all annoyed. Though now's not the best time - the sirens will take care of that."
    "What are they going to do?" Ashildr asked, having a sick feeling that she knew exactly what the answer would be.
    "Probably sing. Siren song affects anyone who hears it - but especially the opposite gender. CarrAskan's a little too close."
    "Shouldn't we warn him?"
    "He knows. He's not dumb."
    For some reason, Ashildr doubted the former. As the selkies began to climb onto the rocks, tails flashing in the light, she only hesitated a moment before screaming, "COVER YOUR EARS!"
    "That was an incredibly dumb move," Argen said from behind her. Ashildr was about to inquire why, when every head on a siren body turned towards the group, sending identical glares full of daggers towards them as Caspian dipped back under the waves. "Sirens hate it when their prey is warned ahead of time."
    "I'm thinking run," Ashildr remarked.
    "Well, actually - " Nocturna began, but Argen grabbed her arm and dragged her along the sand as the sirens began to hiss. Once at the town, and away from magical shielding, they wouldn't dare show themselves to the humans.
    The five stopped once they reached the line of stores, leaning over to catch their breath. The sirens had turned back towards the water, evidently deciding that losing a plaything was less precious than not eating anything during their Feeding Time.
    Once everyone stood up again, they started walking down the street, five abreast. There was no talking except for Nocturna's grumbling about how she could have taken them, and they were almost out of town when someone stepped in front of them.
    "So . . . " he said awkwardly, his blue-silver gaze lingering just a short moment on Sorrel. "I wanted to say thank you. If you hadn't shouted back there, I would have been siren souffle. I just wasn't paying attention."
    "It wasn't a problem," Ashildr assured him.
    "Actually - " Sorrel started, but was cut off by a glare from Argen. "Yeah. No problem, um, Caspian."
    A flicker of a smile settled on Caspian's features for a moment before he held out his hand. "I don't know where you're headed, but you're obviously not sticking around. If you find your way back over here . . . I owe you a favor."
    Ashildr smiled. "Thanks."
    "No, I should be thanking you. But I have to go now - I think my guardians are waiting for me." Without another word, Caspian slipped down a deer trail near the bushes on the side of the path and out of sight.
    The five continued walking, a little more comfortable now and making small talk. After Caspian left, Adelaid began speaking more, and jumped in on every conversation. She laughed often, a noise like little bells. She was certainly the sweetest person in the group, Ashildr was certain.
    Finally, once they reached the middle of the woods, Sorrel stopped in her tracks and whirled around. "Okay, we've gone far enough," she announced. "I've seen you consulting that map, Ashildr. Now, my question is: where the hell are we going?"
  3. Owly

    Owly Friend of the Eco, Foe of the System

    (Eevee (J))
    Level 9
    Feb 3, 2017
    Yikes. The formatting on Part 2 is . . . terrifying.
    Also, um, I had no idea I hadn't updated this in so long. Wow.


    "Talamh na Tearmann," Ashildr admitted. "We're looking for Talamh na Tearmann."

    "That doesn't exist," said Sorrel bluntly.

    "Oh, I know it's just a myth, but hasn't it been proven that myths are real? Besides - "

    "No, I mean, it actually doesn't exist," Sorrel clarified. "I've never even heard of it."
    "Neither have I," Nocturna admitted, "though I never payed much attention during lectures."

    "What's Talamh na Tearmann?" Adelaid asked, struggling a bit with the pronunciation.

    "I've heard of it, if we're thinking of the same thing," Argen said. "Though I know it as 'Ard Alharam Alshsharif. The Land of Sanctuary, correct?"

    Ashildr nodded her head. "A fabled land, where it is said that all creatures live in peace and without fear. They have a powerful army with creatures who have long since retreated from this world, and a prosperous community for those who prefer the quiet. If my father ever found himself asleep, I was to wait for him there."

    "You wouldn't know about it," Argen continued, "because the myth died out thousands of years ago. Only the Old remember it, and some have even forgotten. Personally, I think that if it ever existed, it was extinguished along with its legend."

    Ashildr shook her head. "I have a map. X marks the spot. Father found it - it's real, and I'm going there, whether you're behind me or not."

    Nocturna shrugged. "Hey, wandering around looking for something that might not exist is better than wandering around looking for nothing. I'm still in."

    Adelaid came up next. "Anywhere's better than here - even if it's nowhere."

    "I'm behind you all the way. I'd travel to the core of the Earth to talk to another Old again," Argen supplied.

    The four glared at Sorrel, who rolled her eyes and stepped towards them. "Now it's my turn to say some cheesy, heartbreaking line that pledges my undying alliegance to you, isn't it? Well, here it is: you may be an idiot and slightly crazy, and we're all heading off on a stupid quest to literally nowhere, but . . . actually, there are no good things about this to say!"

    Ashildr glared at her. "Look, snarky comments to yourself, okay?"

    "Ooh, I'm terribly afraid of the big bad dragon."

    Ashildr glowered.

    "Oh, come on, what's with the face?" Nocturna pouted, swinging an arm around her shoulders. "Hey. Y'know what would make you feel better? A fly!"
    "A fly? In these woods? I'd take down half the trees!"
    "Oh, come on. Dragons have wings in their human form, don't they? Fly like that! I'll come with you!"
    "With me?" Ashildr shot her a glance. "What, you have wings?"
    "Wings on vampires!" she groaned. "Next they'll be putting them on mermaids!"
    "I sure hope not," Sorrel grumbled. "I'll stick with the ocean, thanks very much."

    Ashildr sighed. "Fine, I'll go for a fly. But only to make you happy. Argen, will you be joining us?"

    "What makes you think I can fly?"

    She shrugged. "It was worth a shot. Come on, Nocturna."

    Ashildr carefully unfolded the wings that had been plastered under her shirt. The whole structure was made out of muscles so flexible they could twist like oragami, though the skin protecting them was also paper-thin, so the veins stood out in blue against the red. Keratin ran along the edges of the wings, ending in spikes, while a singular bone ran up the center of each wing.

    As Ashildr took off into the air, Nocturna shifted into her Full Form. Vampires, being humanoid, did not have such a dramatic change as other creatures; instead, their skin seemed to fold over like scales to reveal a new appearance underneath. Her skin was blue, like her grandfather's, and her hair and eyes turned a shocking, eerie scarlet. Behind the locks of hair, her ears turned pointed. Without waiting for remarks which may or may not have come, she shot up behind Ashildr to the sky.

    Flying was a remarkable thing. After hiding for so long, being able to know that Ashildr could be so high up and still not seen by a single human eye was breathtaking. The woods were spread out before her, her wings bent in the wind and kept her steady, and she could inhale pure, fresh air not yet contaminated by the smoke of the city.

    "Hey, Ashildr?" asked Nocturna after what felt like hours. "What's that smell?"

    Ashildr could sense it too - something dark, rancid, and vaguely, well, evil. Without discussing it, the two dived down to investigate, landing feet-first on the pine-needle dusted floor.

    There was an evergreen lying there that seemed to have been present for an eternity. All its needles had long since turned brown and collapsed. Its bark was charred in places and black, its roots dry and caked with dirt. The two moved a little closer. That was odd - though it was evident the tree had fallen a long time ago, some of its burns were still smoking.

    "I think we should go back," Nocturna murmured, plucking a piece of bark off the tree. "Maybe Argen knows what this is all about."
    "Probably," Ashildr agreed, stepping into the woods. "Argen knows a lot of things."
    They walked for a while, Nocturna shifting back to human form at one point, until a girl stepped out in front of them. "Excuse me," she said shyly. "You were making a lot of noise, and I smelled something odd - " she paused for an awkward giggle - "So I was wondering who you were?"
    "I'm Ashildr, and this is Nocturna," said the dragon. She could tell that small girls usually didn't wander about this deep in the woods, meaning she was probably a creature.

    The girl's hair was a strange light blue, her short dress a lilac color. As she smiled, causing her green eyes to crinkle, and said, "Hi! I'm Henna!", she unfurled a pair of green iridescent wings. "I hope you don't mind if I show these off. No one else is here except for the pixies - unless you're human!" She giggled again, nervously, and continued, "But I don't think you are, because Ashildr, you've got an Old smell. How come?"

    "How come?" Ashildr stared at the girl curiously. She acted incredibly childish, but she was certainly at the pixie maturity of a preteen. "Because I am Old . . . ?"

    "Oh!" She giggled again, for quite a while. The sound should have been pleasing, but instead it merely annoyed Ashildr, who wanted to be on her way and investigate the strange tree. "Of course! The only reason I ask is because I smelled a very faint scent of Old before, and I thought it might be you, and when I looked up I saw this black dragon, but you've got red hair so I don't think - "

    "Wait. Black dragon?" When Henna nodded, Ashildr groaned. "There's a Fighting Dragon? Here? Oh good lord, this day just went from bad to worse."
    "What's so wrong about a dragon?" Nocturna asked. "I mean, you seem nice."
    "I was raised with the utmost class, at the highest rank a dragon could have," Ashildr replied. "And - oh, honestly, don't you learn this stuff in school?"
    The vampire shrugged. "I told you, I don't listen to lectures."
    "Well, Fighting Dragons are completely uncontrollable. They're violent, bloodthirsty creatures, rash and cruel. You should loathe the day that you come in contact with one. Actually, you should pray you never come in contact with one - which is probably not going to happen, considering."

    Henna bounced on the heels of her feet. "Then maybe I could take you someplace safe. There's a big pixie complex in this woods, with a bunch of Spell-Casters. Nothing can get by their magic."
    As Ashildr hesitated, Nocturna nodded. "As long as there are no Bogeymen there, I'm happy."
    "Well, I can't guarantee that," Henna replied. "I think there are a few. But - "
    She was cut off by a sudden shout.

    "Hallo? Ist da jemand?"
    This isn't the whole thing, I met the limit of characters

  4. Owly

    Owly Friend of the Eco, Foe of the System

    (Eevee (J))
    Level 9
    Feb 3, 2017
    "Ich bin da! Wer bist du?" Ashildr shouted into the trees, trying to mask her rising panic. German. A German in the woods.

    "Wo bist du? Ich stecke fest!" the voice called back, not hiding its own emotions. "Bitte komm! Ich bin verletzt!"

    "Umm . . . Ashildr?" asked Henna with a shy giggle. "What's going on?"
    "Oh, sorry," replied Ashildr, turning to the pixie. "I figured you'd understand. World War II and all that . . . everyone knows a bit of German, right?" She smiled, feigning nonchalance. "Someone's stuck in the trees up ahead. They're injured, they need help. I think it might be our dragon."
    Nocturna nodded. "We should find them, then." Ashildr couldn't smell it, but she was pretty sure the tiny droplet of saliva that had formed by Nocturna's lip (before she hastily brushed it away) was a sign that the words the voice had shouted were true.

    Following Nocturna, who could still smell the blood, they soon came across a figure near the top of the trees. She seemed to have crashed into the canopy, her wings caught in the branches. The weak, taught skin, easily punctured, the way the wings bended, and the black shade made it enormously clear that this girl was a Fighting Dragon.

    Her hair was blond, in a boyish pixie cut, with pale skin and plain brown eyes - the blonde in itself was strange, but Ashildr was surprised at the scent - or, rather, the lack of one. This dragon did not smell Old. That was astounding, as younger dragons were incredibly rare to find. Henna probably smelled an Old odor on her because of how young pixies were comparably, but Ashildr couldn't detect a thing.

    Henna fluttered up, wings gleaming in the sparse light, and started untangling the branches. The dragon didn't seem to be seriously hurt; though wings were delicate, a few punctures would not harm their capabilities. Once she was free enough to move, the dragon shook herself off the trees and floated down towards the ground, landing maybe a little harder than she should have.

    "Das tut mir leid. Mein Name ist Rabe. Was ist dein?"

    "Ashildr," she replied, before blurting, "Don't you speak anything other than German?"
    "Oh, sorry," replied Raven. "German was my first language, so when I got hurt it was kind of automatic. Then you replied in German, so I figured . . . "
    "Yeah, well, that was basic conversation," Ashildr muttered, not meeting her eyes. All she could think of was German was my first language. German was my first language.

    It's not World War II anymore, Ashildr tried to remind herself, shaking the message out of her head, but it wouldn't go away. Memories of serving for the RAF - damage to her father's plane - asleep - trying to get out of Italy without being buried alive along with him -

    "I don't carry a first-aid kit with me," she said, maybe a little louder than was necessary. "Henna, do you have some sort of infirmary where you're taking us?"
    "Yes. I'm sure they can fix your wing. They've certainly fixed mine plenty!" Henna giggled again. Ashildr resisted the urge to slap her.

    Even if she had, Henna would have danced out of the way as she turned back into the woods. "Come on! It's this way!"


    Argen was feeling awkward. He usually had no trouble talking to anyone, but crabby Sorrel was throwing him off his game, and there was just something odd about Adelaid. Something off. Ashildr wasn't like that. He hadn't talked to a girl like Ashildr in centuries. She was so easy to speak to, and they were so comfortable in conversation, and she was the Ashildr, the -

    Ah! That was it!

    "Sorrel, are you hungry?"
    As soon as he said it, Argen flushed. Nice. Very tactful. Sorrel flushed too, but probably from anger more than embarrassment. "Well - I -"

    Her stomach betrayed her, letting out a loud growl. This time, her face was definitely all embarrassment. "Um, yes. I haven't eaten in a while. I didn't have lunch before leaving."

    "Hmm. Well, then, we should probably look for food. My trunk has most of my stuff in it, so unfortunately I don't have anything on me." He smiled apologetically. "Still, forests like these are full of jackpots."
    "You won't find any," said a voice from behind them. They all turned, and a girl stepped out. She looked to be in her late teens, but she was dressed . . . abnormally, with a green tunic, vest, and brown leggings. Her bare feet, belt, multicolored eyes, and pointed ears completed the fairy look. Definitely a woods wanderer of some sort - probably a pixie, considering her height and short blond hair. "There's a whole colony of pixies nearby. They stripped the whole woods. Makes it a terrible bother for the rest of us."

    Argen stood up quickly, his Old insticts taking over as he bowed. "May I ask your name?"
    She raised an eyebrow. "Hey, I can smell the Old on you, but that's still, like, creepy. Bowing is way out. Don't do that anymore. Anyway, I'm Oneria."
    "Sorry," said Argen, quickly straightening. Apparently, he was a bit rusty in playing Prince Charming. "My name is Argen. This is Sorrel, and that's Adelaid." The latter gave a wave to Oneria and a big grin.

    "Anyway, I can show you to the pixie place if you want," Oneria offered, "but I don't go in. We don't get along too well. Of course, I could always feed you at my place . . . " She paused, obviously unsure if inviting strangers into her house was a good idea. "Yeah, no. The pixies will be nice to you."

    Sorrel shrugged. "I don't care where we go as long as there's food."
    "All right then." Oneria led them through the woods in a seemingly random pattern until they finally reached two trees that leaned over each other in what could be a doorway shape. "Only magical creatures can pass past this point. If you want to find me again, I'm usually by the river." She smiled, a real smile. "Bye!"

    "Good-bye," Argen replied, and he couldn't resist a sarcastic bow. Oneria scowled, but couldn't surpress the grin spreading over her face.

    Once she had vanished from sight, the three stepped inside.
  5. Owly

    Owly Friend of the Eco, Foe of the System

    (Eevee (J))
    Level 9
    Feb 3, 2017
    PART 4 - Reunited We Stand

    "I - owwww." Raven winced as the spell-casting pixie in charge of the infirmary dabbed some sort of alcohol on the tears in her wings. "They don't need to be disinfected!"
    "Please. Disinfectant is standard procedure," the nurse tutted, dunking the cloth into the alcohol again.

    "Yeah, well, I'm not a pixie!"

    Ashildr rolled her eyes, standing by the doorflap. The pixies' complex was a collection of treehouses, made almost entirely out of wood. They balanced precariously on almost every tree, with wood bridges stringing them all together. It seemed much too easy to get lost in the winding paths. However, the four of them were not in one of those houses; they were all pixie-sized and absolutely tiny, and therefore they'd set up a temporary tent while Raven was being treated.

    Nocturna seemed just about as comfortable as Ashildr was, and Ashildr remembered the make of Clan Kalshrani's camp - tents were probably not a welcome sight for Nocturna. So when Ashildr nodded towards the door, it took her no time at all to agree.

    The sun was high in the sky at that point, and the two started around the camp. The floor was badly neglected, full of animal scat, weeds, and dried-up leaves. "So," said Nocturna after a moment, "Everyone knows a bit of German from World War II, huh?"
    Ashildr flushed. "Y'know, for someone who doesn't pay attention in lectures, you catch a lot of things people wouldn't want you to."
    "I pride myself on it."
    "Yeah. Well, um, my dad and I fought in a lot of the wars you've learned about - if you payed attention, that is. We never really got very far, one of us always fell asleep early on, but we did our best."

    "Wait, so, like, how far back are we talking?"

    "Well, the one you'd definitely know is the Revolutionary War. To be perfectly honest, um, my dad and I were Tories."
    "Tories?! As in, Loyalists? As in, siding with England?"

    "Yes. But you have to understand how long we lived under monarchies, and how long we'd seen colonies popping up, and how wrong the revolution was in our eyes. Parliament had every right to tax the colonies - I still stand by that! No winners are going to decide how I view that war. But, in any case, I cut my hair, I enlisted in the British army - and I got shot down at Concord." She smiled. "Didn't last very long at all."
    "Wait, then, does that mean you were a Nazi?"
    There was silence for a moment, a stifling heated one, and Nocturna wished she could take the words back. "You are kidding, right?" said Ashildr slowly. "Dad and I fought with the RAF. Of course we weren't Nazis."
    "Sorry - I shouldn't have assumed. It's just, y'know - "
    "You pick the losing side once, you pick it every time? Untrue. Admittedly, we picked the wrong side a lot. That's mostly why we didn't fight in World War I at all. But we were both so upset about the Holocaust that we just had to do something, and dragons belong in the air, so . . . " Ashildr cracked a smile. "I can't even imagine how humans consider that flying, though."
    With that comment, the tension eased, and Nocturna smiled again. "Did you know, I've never met a Bogeyman? I wonder if there's one here. They'd make good sparring opponents, I bet."
    "Nah, they cheat," replied Ashildr offhand. "Their absolute favorite thing to do is pretend that they can shadow-travel - they really just turn invisible and then run behind you and deliver this wicked punch to the back of your head."

    Nocturna grinned. "That sounds awesome. I totally want to spar with one now."

    "They might not want to if you're looking forward to it," Ashildr warned, "but I'm sure there's one here somewhere. Why don't you look?"

    "Hey, yeah!" Nocturna grinned, and her skin seemed to fold over again, revealing her blue-skinned Full Form. Raising her wings, she flapped off into the treehouse complex, scanning the pixies for one of the hostile Bogeymen. Ashildr rolled her eyes; only Nocturna could purposefully go looking for a fight with one of those.


    She whirled around, grinning in pleased surprise as Argen waved. "Who knew we'd find you here?"

    "What are you doing here?" Ashildr countered. "I thought you guys were going to wait for us!"

    "Well, you were taking a while, and everyone was hungry, so a nice pixie showed us here," Argen replied. "A bit small, isn't it?"
    "Very," Ashildr agreed. "Hey Sorrel! Hi Adelaid!"

    Sorrel grunted back, glancing around. Her eyes settled on Raven, who was shoving her way out of the black infirmary tent. "Um, Ashildr? Do we know this person?"

    "Oh. Yes." Ashildr hoped her tone was normal. "That's Raven. She's a Fighting Dragon, and she's German. She's fine. Just got hurt when flying."
    Sorrel nodded. "Do you know where all the pixies a-- oh! Hey! You there!" Noticing the nurse, she ran over and began talking, Adelaid trailing behind.

    "So." Ashildr turned. "Argen, I have a question. Have you seen anything like this before?" She raised a plastic bag where the bark from the strange tree was settled.

    He examined it. "Hmm. There's only one thing I can think of - but it's not even worth mentioning. I have a friend who might know, though. Shall we go see her?"


    "Well, when I said 'find me again,' I was kind of expecting months," Oneria remarked. She was lounging on the rocky shore of the nearest river to the pixies' camp, her hair dripping wet. "But the more the merrier, I suppose."

    Argen showed her the bag of bark, letting Ashildr explain where they'd found it. "Do you know anything about that?"

    "Oh, sure," Oneria replied. "That's the old evergreen. Everyone in the woods knows about it. A few years ago, there was this huge thunderstorm, and a lightning bolt cracked the tree right through. There was a pixie family living in there, and they mostly got out except for one of the boys. He was crushed, and apparently he died that night - though, obviously, that's impossible. People say the tree is haunted. I doubt it, but everyone avoids it anyway."
    Argen nodded. "What family?"
    "The - ah - Livs. Yeah, that's it. They've got a girl named Henna, you might know her . . . ?"
    "Henna?" Ashildr gaped. How could such a giggly, cheerful girl have suffered such a trajedy?

    "Sure. Is that all you came here for?" When they nodded, she scoffed. "Geez. I'm not a computer. Get out of here, you two."
    They did so, having a lot to think about.
  6. Owly

    Owly Friend of the Eco, Foe of the System

    (Eevee (J))
    Level 9
    Feb 3, 2017
    Part 5 - Something To Be Filled In Later

    The five clustered around the table, plus a bandaged Myane, excited Henna, and a nurse still tutting over Myane's wings. It was much too cramped, the circular tabletop built for four people, maximum. The nurse placed a few bowls in the center, lining smaller ones along the edge for every person sitting. Ashildr grimaced when she saw the contents. The food was all salads and rice dishes - completely vegetarian. Sighing, she pushed her bowl away. "Sorry, I'm on a strictly carnivorous diet."

    Instead, Ashildr rummaged inside her bag for a moment. She'd unpacked most of her stockpiled food into Argen's truck, and the meager amount she had left was best to be saved for emergencies. Still, there was plenty of valuable stuff inside, and soon Ashildr unearthed a map.

    "Here we go," she said, rolling it out. At a glance, the map seemed to be the regular, modern sort - a nice, detailed one, but not incredibly special. But, in fact, literally everything on it had been labeled - sanctuaries, cities, woods, even the smallest creeks. Ashildr pointed to a symbol resembling a treble clef in the region of Canada. "We're looking for a place in between Quebec and Montreal, probably on the water there. See the big mark? Talamh na Tearmann is unplottable, so Father couldn't show where it was exactly, but he can give me a general radius."
    "Right," said Sorrel, leaning over. Her voice was muffled by lettuce. "That just leaves, what, three hundred miles to search? We'll be at the Land of Sanctuary in time for tea."
    "Please. Father did his best," Ashildr snapped. "You can leave any time you want to. No one's stopping you."
    "Are you hungry?" asked Argen suddenly, pushing his chair out. He'd heartily eaten his portion; strange, considering usual Morphling diets. "You're getting crabby too, Ashildr. When was the last time you ate?"

    She paused to consider. "Oh, geez. Not since yesterday. But that's okay, I'm not really hungry."

    As the words exited her mouth, though, Ashildr became aware for the first time of an emptiness in her stomach. It seemed to flop around loosely, falling down and down and down but in no real hurry to get to its destination. Fortunately, her body wasn't growling; she had some dignity left. "After this, I think we should head out. No reason to stay here, I mean, we have work to be done, and - wait. Where's Henna?"
    They all glanced around, but the giggly pixie was conspicuously missing. Then, Sorrel cried out. "Adelaid's gone too!"
    The pit in Ashildr's stomach grew deeper as she remembered. The hunters. The ones who had killed the unkillable. Could they be here, now? Behind a tree, watching, waiting? She'd just given them Talamh ne Tearmann's secret location!

    "Fan out. They can't be far," Argen ordered, taking charge when he saw the panic on Ashildr's face. Everyone did so, looking around but finding nothing.

    "Were you guys looking for us?"
    For the first - and most likely only - time, Ashildr was actually relieved to hear the giggle that pierced the air. "We just went out for a walk! Adelaid wanted to see the camp."

    There was a collective groan as everyone slumped back down into their seats.

    Then, in shock, they jolted up.

    Myane's head was lolling to the side, mouth slightly open, tongue hanging out. Ashildr's heart stopped for a moment as she went over. "Taispeáin dom má tá sé ina chónaí," she whispered. "Ostende mihi vivit."

    White smoke billowed into Myane's mouth, spreading into the new space, then settling comfortably, slipping down her throat, leaking out her ears. Ashildr grinned in relief. "Well, something put her to sleep, but she's certainly not dead."

    "To sleep?" Argen hurried over, the others not far behind. "That's insane! How could it happen?"

    They all turned to the nurse.

    "I can't do an examination on her," she snapped. "She's a dragon! I don't know their biology! Besides, she's asleep, and all of her organs are shut down. Myane's basically dead by pixie standards."

    "Hey," said Sorrel suddenly. "Weren't you cleaning out Myane's wings with something? Maybe she has a really bad allergy. Or, y'know, something else. It's worth a shot."

    The nurse titled the bottle of alcohol towards her, then uncorked it and sniffed. "That's odd. It smells off." She let a drop of the liquid fall onto the table, where it sizzled and started to tear away at the wood.

    "It definitely should not be doing that," the nurse muttered, stepping away from the table. "Someone tampered with my medicine!"


    "So, this is good-bye, I suppose."

    Ashildr clasped her hands behind her back, trying to look saddened as she faced Henna. She couldn't get out of there fast enough. "We'll miss you, but - "
    A giggle from Henna interrupted her monologue. "Miss me? Didn't they tell you? I'm coming with you!"
    Ashildr almost groaned aloud. "Really? Why?"
    "Adelaid's my friend! My parents said it would be okay for me to go on a trip, I just can't stay - so five is going to be six now!"

    Was it rude for Ashildr to turn and bang her head many times against a tree? With twenty-first century rules, she actually considered it. Instead, she forced a smile on her face and said, "Well, welcome to the group! You know pretty much everything already, but I should let you know - we're going to go to the city near here for the night before heading out to Canada tomorrow."
    "If we make good time," Argen supplied, "we should be in Canada by tomorrow night. Probably not Quebec, though."
    Ashildr grinned. "Well, that's good news."

    Before she could see Henna's response, Ashildr had already twirled on her heel. "All right, move out! The car's at the edge of the woods."


    Click. Click. Click.

    What was it in the spray paint cans that made them make such a noise, like there was a little ball rolling around inside them, clashing against the edges? Where did the noise come from? What was its purpose?
    The thoughts ran through her head like they did every night as she began shaking out fresh bottles of paint. She didn't like to think of what she did as vandalism. Surely, it couldn't be. She was creating art, beautiful art, that people would marvel at for ages to come - until it was painted over by the disrespectful loons who couldn't see the difference between work and teenagers getting drunk.

    Finally, when all the cans were properly warmed up, Falleg held the first up to the brick wall she had chosen to paint that night. It was in an alley that nobody looked in; it was possible that this piece would stay untouched for months before the kids trapped in community service duty dutifully painted it over in sloppy strokes of white. She was a master of abstract art, which some didn't seem to understand, and the use of the universe inside it. It was slightly ironic, she always thought, because the universe was the thing that was so against her.

    The painting did not take a while, and soon Sterker with a crescent moon was written on the corner. Falleg rocked back in her heels, considering it, tucking a loose strand of curly brown hair out of her eyes. It was lovely. Not her best, of course, but nice to look at. She allowed herself a smile.

    A hand clapped over her mouth.

    Falleg sucked in a breath, eyes widening in a silent scream. A voice above her whispered harshly, "Don't move, don't speak, don't breathe."

    Falleg was a log, a stiff board, an unyielding bar of metal like the ones on the deserted railway tracks she so loved to paint. She did not move, she did not speak, and her breathing was soft and shallow.

    When her captor stood, so did she.

    The two awkwardly shuffled around, and Falleg only saw a glimpse of a white van before a bag was shoved over her head, and she could see no more.


    Ashildr turned around in her bed, eyes shooting open once she realized she was awake. Light was streaming in through the curtains. How long had the sun been up?
    She stepped over towards the window, pulling away the curtain. The city spread before her like a well-organized maze: so many huge buildings and streets and oh, the smoke! So much smoke everywhere! From the cars driving down the crowded roads, from the huge smokestacks in the factories in the outskirts of town, collecting in the sky like an ominous black cloud. That was why she and her father avoided the city. The pollution was just too much. How did Argen stand it, who had been on Earth so much longer than she had?

    She closed the curtains again, perching on the edge of the bed. Training had made her wide-awake as soon as she woke up - which was always, always at sunrise. This was the first time in hundreds of years that she had slept longer. It was amazing, what one day could do.

    Later, fully clothed, her wild hair wrestled into its ponytail, Ashildr met the others in the lobby of the hotel, everyone fully packed and ready to leave. "A day's ride should get us to Canada," Argen reminded them, "further if we're lucky. We won't have any problems getting to 'Ard Alharam Alshsharifat that rate."

    They all nodded, smiles plastered across their faces. Ashildr wondered if hers was the only forced one. So much could go wrong still . . .

    Argen turned and opened the door to the street.

    He toppled backwards, a creature hitched to his chest.

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