The point of the land was to be impressive. Since he stepped out of the carriage, he could see that. Impressive and imposing, with old, distinguished stone steps through the winding hills that only seemed to go up. But he climbed all of them, even the ones that crumbled under his feet. There were hedges and trees, guards to bar his way. As if this was a test. Although, in this society, it very well might have been. Here was different. Here with the stone steps and winding hills and guarding trees, everything was different.
Eventually, even the trees gave way to an arena. It was the first place he had come to that wasnt overgrown with flowers and weeds, but the grass was kept neat and tidy, and the stonework looked like flawless marble. It had white and black squares, and it was, as expected, very obviously a chessboard. What wasnt expected was the aging man, holding an ornate box on his lap as he was sitting on a marble throne at the end of the arena. He smiled, and then beckoned the newcomer closer. Across the chessboard he walked, without a pattern to speak of. When he was within speaking distance, the old man motioned for him to stop. He did.
What is your name, stranger? Why have you spent half the day trekking through my grounds, the old man asked, reinforcing his grip on the chest.
Samuel, the man said, staring defiantly into the others face. My name is Samuel, and I have come to you because I believe you have something that concerns me.
The old man looked Samuel over with a sly smile. After a few minutes of this scrutiny, the man drew a deep breath and spoke again. Something I have that concerns you? Forgive the assumption, but you dont appear to be from around here, friend. So what would I have that youd be concerned about?
For a moment, Samuel didnt say anything. He looked down, at the white marble square he was standing on, and mumbled the answer. A woman.
The old man let out a raspy laugh. A woman? I hate to be the bearer of bad news, boy, but there hasnt been a proper woman on this estate for two decades now.
An improper one, then. One who made it to your collection. The last word was spat out. Fists clenched from the first sentence jerked by the last. The old man took a moment to respond, again with a sly smile.
Ah, her. You should have asked for her by name, Samuel. I know it. Samuel didnt look up. The old man leaned closer, pulling the chest into his stomach. Ask for her by name, Samuel. The grin bared his yellowing, crooked teeth.
Im looking for a woman named Elisha, Samuel said firmly, his furious gaze back on the mans face. It seemed to have as little effect now as it did before.
And there we are. I know her, yes. She came to me, not more than a week ago. The old man leaned back and opened the chest on his lap. He reached into it, then seemed to think better and turned to the intruder again, leaving the chest open and one of his hands inside it. She said she had come from Celestin. All the way across the country, he went on, pausing to see if Samuel took the bait. I take it you came from there as well? Samuel merely nodded. The old man laughed again. This begs the question, Samuel. What is Elisha to you? He reached into the chest and took something out, closing his hand over it tightly as much as he could. Samuel stared at his hand as it weaved in and out. He didnt know what was in the chest yet, but he could hazard a guess.
Elisha he trailed off for a moment as the old man locked the chest again. Elisha is my betrothed.
Aha, was what the old man said, as he revealed a small figurine to be the object hes holding. He held it up to his face and inspected it idly as he continued. Betrothed. I figured shed have to be important, for you to come all this way looking for her. No wonder it took you so long. But tell me, havent you considered that you are the reason shes leaving? The man turned to face Samuel again, with a cruel smile on his face. He watched the young man stare back at him in defiance, but remain silent. Unsatisfied, the old man pushed again. She didnt tell me, when she came. Didnt tell me what or who she was running from. At the time I didnt push, but I like to know these things. A good piece bio makes the piece itself worth so much more so fill in the gaps for me, Sam. What made her run?
I dont-I dont know, Samuel stammered, his defiance giving way to sadness as he thought of her. He knew it wasnt believable enough for the old man. She just had a-a moment of weakness.
A moment that lasted a two-week journey across country? Hardly likely. Was it perhaps a lovers quarrel? Shes very pretty, Sam. Almost a shame to keep her in this miniature form for so long, and so often. I do hope shes a decent fighter, Id hate for her to lose her first duel, she could be so much more usef-
H-how can you just say that, questioned Samuel, the outrage ringing through in his voice. How can you j-just sit there and say that! Money doesnt give you the right to treat people as objects! His hands were shaking now, and the old mans smile was only making them shake even more.
Youre right, Samuel. Money doesnt give you the right to do what you wish. Status does. Heritage does. This place, this estate, this country, does.
No, nothing gives you the right to claim anothers life as yours.
Another raspy laugh came from the old man before he answered. Youre in my society now, Sam. In my world. Out there in Celestin, the rules are different. People on this side of the mountains dont fear some all-powerful presence like you do. You left that back East. Please try to recognize that.
Obviously. A man like you in Celestin would be seen for what he is. A monster.
You dont think there are collectors in Celestin? Thats the same naiveté that mustve chased poor Elisha away.
She didnt leave because of me.
Suddenly, the little figure was in Samuels sight again as the old man raised it with a nod towards the younger man. Careful now shes fragile, he said as he threw the piece, Samuel rushing forward to catch it. And if she didnt leave because of you, why didnt she ask you to come along?
The question didnt register with Samuel. He was gone the moment he saw the figures face, every bit of it just like her. It was a centaur, and it was a woman, her weapon a long double-bladed axe held proudly to the side. Her long hair swept itself over her armor and her face was so detailed that it could easily be expected to move into a smile or talk at any point. He ran a finger lightly over it, going for the lips but the size difference making him encompass the whole face. The old man watched him intently, the hint of the smile on his face. Samuel let out one shaky breath before turning his eyes at the old man and closing his hands around the figure. Is-is this her?
The old man let out another laugh. Boy, you come here, in my realm, in my estate. You travel halfway across the country to find her and you dont even do your research? Dont you know what its like here, in these grounds? Dont you know how it works? The old man paused while Samuel dropped his eyes to the figures face. Looks just like her, dont it? Told you she was pretty.
I know she was. Is.
Then let me explain it to you, Sammy. She came to me to be part of this set. She came knowing this. Not many people choose the life of a chess piece, hell, shes the first Id ever heard of. Eternally enchanted to do the chess set owners bidding. She didnt tell me much. Just her name. That she lived in Anahera, over in Celestin. That she didnt want to die, and that this was the ticket. He paused, inspecting Samuel as the young man stared into the figures eyes, as if theyd move. Of course, I didnt tell her that this job has a much higher chance of death than any other. It wouldnt have mattered anyway. She seemed broken, running from something. Like I was her last chance. And I, graciously, let her in. She had specifications, though. A white piece. Not a bishop. Seems on odd request, doesnt it? Someone coming from such a religious place as Anahera, not wanting to be a bishop. He leaned forward towards Samuel again. I bet youd choose the bishop, wouldnt you, Sammy?
But Samuel never heard the last part. He kept tracing the figures face, her hair, everything up from the horse part of her body. Anahera really was a different place. On the other side of the country, if there were chess masters like this man out there, then they kept themselves hidden, they didnt strut with estates like he does. Samuel wanted to think there werent any there Celestin, the place renowned for its religious practices and strict moral standards, housing such monsters? The place God himself smiles upon cannot possibly contain such people. The place where, if you werent religious, if you didnt follow the rules like a good, God-loving person should, then you were shunned, even expelled. There wasnt a soul in Anahera, one of Celestins main cities, that wasnt completely and entirely devout.
Youre in my world now, boy, the old man said, snapping Samuel out of his thoughts. My world, my rules. She came to me. Shes a figurine, in my set, and she will fight for me until she proves herself useless. And then she will die. This is how things work here, outside of Celestin.
Samuel stared at the piece. Let me take her place, he said after a minute. Ill be more useful to you. Ill fight harder.
The old man sat back in his marble throne, thinking this over. She ran because of you, didnt she? he said finally. What did she say, Samuel. What did she do, that you think she wants to be saved so badly? When he saw Samuel hesitate, he added an incentive. It will help my decision to accept or deny your request, Sam. Careful now.
She she said that, Samuel started, but stopped as he looked into the figures face again. I told her it was just a test. She was c-confused, she was very confused. Thought what she wanted was away from Anahera, away from God. She didnt want to be there and I, I was just trying to-to help. The younger man paused as his voice shook, taking a moment to regain control over himself. I told her it was a test. That God was testing her, and shed be stronger for it when she passed it. She d-disagreed. She told me that I didnt I didnt know anything. That I didnt know anything about what was really out there in the world. That I can sit here and pretend all will be alright if we just have enough faith, but the people outside Celestin who have faith suffer for it. S-she couldnt see that it was just a test just a test she needed to pass, but she didnt want to. He paused again, running his finger over the figurines face. She said she hated me. Because of how devout I could be, and how different we were because she could never see the world like I do. That she wasnt good enough for me. And that she hated that. And me. And she just just left, after that. Left for here.
The old man didnt speak for a long time, watching as Samuel traced over the figurine again, as if it was the only object in the world. Fine, he said finally, reaching into the chess set and bringing out a gold crown. It was worn and dull, the shine of it long lost. Ill let you take her place, but youll have to fight for it. Samuel nodded at once. The old man reached behind his throne, pulling out a sword. It was as dull as the crown, but it was obviously sharp as well. You have to fight her for it, he added, nodding to the figure in Samuels hand. Samuels face looked from him to the figure in his hand in horror. The old man nodded, closing the chest and putting the crown on his balding head. Set her down now, and Ill throw you the sword. His hands shaking, Samuel carefully set the figurine down on the white marble square, stepping back from it. The old man closed his eyes and muttered something, and the figurine expanded until it was even taller than Samuel. The womans lips parted and an explosion of color on the figure, from the soft pale of her skin to the harsh silver of her armor, exploded with her breath. Samuel stared up at Elisha, the horse part taking control of her features below her waist, a brilliant white color. She didnt look at him. She looked straight ahead, the double-headed axe in her hands. The old man behind her gave a small cough and threw the sword towards Samuel, where it landed with a loud clang a few feet away from him. Still shaking, the man picked up the sword, cautiously pointing it towards Elisha. The old man grinned behind her. He simply nodded his head and Elishas gaze focused on Samuels face immediately. Get ready now, he warned, holding his precious chest full of pieces close to him.
Elisha took another breath. It was an exaggerated gesture, her entire body moving with each intake. For a moment, Samuel thought she would take a step back. But then he realized what she was doing was rearing back on her hind legs, her tail whipping the air behind her, and bringing her weapon down in an arc, straight towards his chest. He rolled back quickly, the white marble hurting him and the sword making loud clanks with every contact with the ground. Elishas axe hit the marble as well, the noise ringing through the forest and the blade cracking the black marble of the square. She fell back on all four legs again and, pulling the blade back out with ease, jumped towards Samuel. He had just gotten up from his roll when he noticed her coming again, this time swinging from the side up, towards his left arm. He reeled back and brought the sword down on the axes haft, stopping the arc short and digging the blade back into the marble once more. He put all his weight on the sword as he turned towards his attacker. Elisha, he said quietly. The centaur began to attempt to pull out her weapon once more. Elisha, listen to me! Its me! Its Samuel! She looked straight at him, looked at his face and met his eyes. He relaxed his grip on the sword, smiling, but the woman pulled hard on her weapon and sent him reeling back, the sword flying over his head and out of his hands. He staggered, the sword falling a few squares away from them with another loud clang. Elisha took a better hold on her weapon, not even looking where the sword had landed. Her gaze was locked with Samuels, though her eyes didnt see him. They saw an opponent. Please, he pleaded, his voice shaking now as she raised the weapon over her head. Please, Eli She reinforced her grip as he fell to his knees in front of her. Please, just remember He turned his head down to the cold white marble, his shaking hands holding him up. Let my death bring you back, Elisha, he said quietly. Let my death save you.
Enough! the old man said suddenly, and Elisha brought her weapon to rest at her side. Dont you see, Sam? Shes not there anymore. The woman you came looking for is lost. She was too weak in the mind when the enchantment on her was placed. So now shes too weak in the mind to think for herself, too. Too far gone to remember you, even if you die because of it. Samuel didnt get up. He stayed as he was, the marble now splotched with the few tears he couldnt hold in. Shes not there anymore, Samuel.
Shes not there because of the enchantment, not because shes still shes there! the young man spat out, looking up into the female centaurs face. Elisha was looking straight ahead once more. Shes there, somewhere. Under that enchantment, shes there and fighting.
You lost, Sammy. You lost, and I get to keep her. The old man smiled slyly again. And you.
Samuels head shot up at the man, sitting there with his grin. What? he breathed, his eyes wide and his hands clenching.
I get to keep you, Sammy. Yes, I have an empty bishop spot, dont I? You ventured into my world, boy. My world, my rules. And youd like to be a bishop, wouldnt you? Always so close to your dear Elisha. Do you love her, Sam? You must. To come all this way, to fight, to be ready to die for her. And she didnt love you enough to spare your life.
She did. Does. She does. Its the enchantment!
Sammy, if she was really fighting as hard as you want to believe she was, she wouldnt have been so ready and willing to kill you. The old man watched Samuel struggle with this, the same sadistic glee on his face that has been present throughout this entire time. Let me explain how it works to you, Sam. She came to me, broken. Wanting immortality, wanting to be part of this chess set. When the enchantment is placed on someone whose human mind has been so far shattered, their human mind stops being a part of who they are. She is this chess sets white knight piece. Thats what she is now. Thats all she is. He paused, a crooked smile on his lips as he added, and its your fault, isnt it, Sammy?
Samuel didnt say anything. Instead, he stood, and carefully approached the woman. Her face was above his own, but as he approached, she leaned down to see him better, her eyes and her entire face following his moves. The weapon was held horizontally in her hands, and she merely leaned forward, the same blank gaze looking at him. He put his hands lightly on her shoulders and brought himself up to her face, cracking a smile with a small, shallow breath. He pressed his forehead against hers and closed his eyes for a moment. Ill bring you back, Eli. Ill save you. He then very carefully raised himself up on his toes and touched his lips to hers, holding it for a moment. There was no return. When he let go of her shoulders, she was looking at him like she had before. Blank stare. Sam didnt look away from her as he spoke again. The white bishop. Next to her.
He touched her hair again, letting it run through his fingers. Her gaze never changed from her stiff stance, even as his hand shook and the strands of hair fell quicker through his fingers. She didnt move, she merely stood there, not seeing him. Not seeing anything anymore.
An older Creative Writing assignment, the last of the batch. I love these two characters, and, for a change, they're from a novel I'm writing, not a comic I'm planning. Along with a lot of other chess pieces I have in my head but not fully fleshed out. Maybe I'll continue this theme and go through every piece coming into the set. It'd be fun~
Although "writing" gives the impression I'm working on it. "Possibly will write in the not-so-distant future" would be a better term to use there. XD;;; It's daunting, knowing you have enough material to fill up an entire novel, and that you'd need to fill it up to get the story out. Scariest thing to an artist is a blank page. And for me, it's a lot easier to fill it with drawings than with words, but I do so love to write x3 It's what we call a Catch-22, of sorts.
Regardless of what it is, I do think I'll try writing more, too. I haven't done it in a while, and I have classes that expect it. And more practice is never bad~!
(Bonus points if you spot the connections the title has with character's histories/names. It's a very specific thing x3 That worked out very nicely~ I'm all happy with it.)
The man was not a hermit by choice, but out of necessity. His first name was Doug, and his last name no longer mattered. What few relatives he had still living were out of touch and scattered across the States. Doug lived in an old shack out in the woods, nestled in the riverbottoms of the Ozarks in a secluded valley. Considered legally insane by his doctors, whom he visited only a few times a year, he lived a sparse monk-like existence on a meager government disability check. But he knew that he was quite sane, no matter what any doctor said, and he was a haunted man. Once a month, when he drove into town for supplies, he felt the eyes of all the normal people piercing his soul, but these were not the eyes he had to worry about. Any would be guest inside his home, not that he ever had any, would notice a fish hook tacked to the wall someplace in plain view in every room. And upon these fish hooks hung strips of raw bacon, why he did this only he would ever know, but the strips of flesh lent a meaty odor to the cabins interior. He did other strange things in an alost ritualistic manner besides hanging bacon on hooks in his house. The wooden floor of his home was gritty with granules of salt, which he used a hand cranked yard fertilizer to dispense in large volumes, and various herbs hung in tied bundles over every door. These habits were essential to his survival, and his self taught rituals which will be mentioned later seemed like mad paranoid activities in which a cause-effect relationship was not readily apparent to anyone but himself.
Shadows always crept into Dougs little valley a few hours before nightfall, and that's when...things...would start to happen. The night time chorus of crickets and other things nocturnal would start up, a soothing sound if not for the deepening tension in the air. As the sun would slip below the horizon, signs and alarms would go off, telling him when to expect a visit. And tonight, like many other nights when the tension was so powerful a buzzing would fill his ears and the hair on his head felt like it was standing on end, the bacon on the hooks would begin to twitch. At first the strips of meat would sporadically jerk and twitch, but soon they would begin to curl up and writhe like worms dipped in alcohol. The herbal wards above the doors would keep the thing out, as well as the salted floor, which the spirit simply would not tread upon. But the company it kep could cross these barriers...the dead things coaxed halfway back into a mockery of life in the spirits presence. Doug never knew what paths the thing walked to get to the valley, but it would gather up a host of denizens before its arrival: corpses from passing through forgotten cemeteries, and roadkill from slinking across dark lanes.
He readied himself, not with conventional weapons, no firearms, nor did he wield such implements as supposed holy water or a mallet and wooden stakes. The spirit itself was not substantial enough to be physically harmed, and its pets were already dead. The raking of nails or claws started on the storm door, the cabins only entrance. And as Doug peered out the window into the moonlit night he saw the thing glistening in the shadow of the well house outside. What was it made of, he wondered...it had the look of snail slime, and seemed to circulate through a structured network of invisible veins and capillaries, which were confined to a humanoid shape the curvature of which was very suggestive of a young woman. The she-thing seemed to glide from the shadows and into the full moonlight, and her host of cadavers shuffled from the darkness and pressed their rotting wormy faces against the window. They could not enter, yet their taunting tormenting presence was both nauseating and unbearable. They had visited him since the time he was a young man, ever since the hunting accident...he still had a deep scar on his forehead where he had been grazed by a bullet...
...he spent two weeks in a coma, two weeks of confusing nightmares of the incident. A loud ping reverberated through his head, accompanied by unparalleled pain. He lay paralyzed on the ground, his view of the sky was cluttered with tree branches, their leaves in full fall color. His head rested against a tree trunk, he could only move his eyes, and he saw his blood spattered on the trees bark, running down, splitting and flowing like veins and capillaries. Then blackness. And a dream of a woman clothed in a dress of woven moss, her hair the color of fall foliage, dragging herself from beneath the roots of the tree. She expired with her head laying on his chest, bleeding her last all over his body, not red, but clear and slimy like the trail a snail would leave behind, and sticky, like tree sap. After his full recovery was when the haunting started, and through torment, trials, and self taught rituals of practical magic, he had become a self taught shaman of sorts. Able to keep the she-spirit at bay, if only for another night...
Doug snapped out of his flashback and into here and now. The corpses seemed content to slobber graveyard mud and lick the panes of glass. But the spirit seemed to be gathering moonlight, becoming less dim and transparent while gaining luminosity and solidity. This was something new and disturbing. Doug had learned to deal with her tricks over the years while her approach and strategy of haunting took on new and varrying characteristics, as though she was learning and improving the art of torment through experience as well.
The corpses parted as she stepped forward and pressed her semi-solid palm against the window...and the pane cracked. So, it looked like the haunt was learning to manifest herself physically as well. She even seemed impressed with this new found gift herself, drawing power from the moons ghostly light. She threw back her head and let out a cackle that sounded like the strangling of a crow. And in that same instant her triumphant laugh was cut short as low storm clouds moved in on an errant breeze high above and shrouded the moon, blocking its nourishing light. The laugh turned to a shriek as the spirit grew dim again. This sudden waning of power abruptly robbed her of her fledgling solidity and her glistening mass collapsed and splattered into a puddle of phlemy slime on the ground. The host of corpses she had raised in her passing fell to the ground as well.
Doug braced himself, choked down his fear, and went outside to investigate the now quiet yard. He examined the pool of slime and briefly went back inside to fetch several mason jars. He collected a large sampling of slime, and upon pondering what it was made of he simply decided to take Hollywood's advice and labeled the jar "Ectoplasm". He also took tissue samples from the undead and labeled the jars "Zombie Flesh". He would have to test the samples by tomorrow night to see if any substances or rituals could harm or decompose them. This supernatural harassment had gone on for years, and now he believed he had the means to stop it for good.
The ectoplasm, Doug discovered, actually seemed like a secretion, and smelled like tree sap which would seep from a cut in the trunk or branch of a tree in Springtime. It had the characteristics of something that would be produced by a plant, yet also conformed to the traditional notions of the ghostly manifestation ectoplasm that was mentioned in so many ghost stories. So, he surmised, perhaps it was a marriage of both. The spirit, or what he vaguely remembered of it during the hunting accident, emerged from the tree after it was struck by the very bullet which glanced off his forehead, a trauma that seemed to link him to her. Perhaps the link was both from the wounding and from misplace blame, as if the undead tree spirit thought Doug was responsible for her death and unwanted rebirth as a haunt. He ruled out trying to communicate or reconcile with her, there was too much of a grudge between them, fueled by years of moves and counter moves in a chess-game of contempt.
He was not as interested in repelling the zombies and risen roadkill as he was destroying her, because they seemed to be merely a side effect of her corrupted presence. Doug truly hoped to rid himself of the haunt permanently but if he was merely able to come up with a repellent he would settle for that. First, there was salt, which he knew was an irritant to her. That day, Doug made a trip to town to buy things to test on the substance of the cytoplasmic goo. He returned to the cabin and went diligently to work. He reasoned that if ectoplasm was truly the phlegmy secretion it seemed to be, supernatural or not, it would react as such to specific drying agents. So he had stocked up on various brands of sinus pills with red label warnings on the packages that advised the user to drink lots of fluids with them to prevent dehydration, as well as an off brand on the same medicine as Mucinex, which he hoped would break up the ectoplasm the same as if it were phlegm. He crushed up all the pills with a mortar and pestle and mixed them thoroughly with some salt. Then is a separate jar he stirred in a powerfull brand of herbicide used for killing brush and mixed it into a thick paste, that he then spread on a sheet of wax paper to dry. An hour later he had a white slab of what he hoped would be an effect spirit killing poison, or, at least, something that would make her not want to come back.
Next Doug decided on using his shotgun to deliver the toxin. He got the twelve-gauge pump from under the bed and a box of slugs. Next he used a pocketknife to cut the end off each shell and pop the slugs out. The slugs were replaced by chunks of the poison slab, and the ends of the shells he taped over with duct tape. Next came the removal of the plug from the shotgun so it would hold seven shells. Locked and loaded, he waited 'till nightfall, when it was time to hang fresh bacon on the hooks. There was no cloud cover this night, the moon was three quarters full and bright, almost a holy looking night except for the fact that the she-spirit would draw power from that glow...
Soon, the bacon began to twitch, then curl and writhe, but this time its reaction to her approach did not stop there...the strips started flapping like agitated bat wings, and that feeling he got was much more intense, goosebumps came with the feeling of hair standing on end. There came the raking of nails on the door, and soon the raking became thumping and knocking. He had swept, mopped, and polished the salt off the floor, this time, he would let her in...into his lair for what was hopefully a final confrontation.
There came the splintering of wood as the outer screen door was ripped off its hinges, followed by a crash as a large bloated zombie bashed his inner door wide open. The zombie shuffled into the room stiffly, followed by a pancaked possum and a mangled deer with only half a shattered antler. The true threat charged into the doorway behind them though, and her form was more complete that any other time he had beheld it. In life she would have been a beautiful Dryad, a sylvan sprite left over from an older age long passed away except for rare and singular occurrences. But now her form was made of amber slime, held together by a skeleton of dead twisted roots and branches. She let out a banshees wail and came at his as though to tackle. Three ear splitting shots broke off her wail as Doug fired and pumped in rapid succession. Three slugs of concocted poison struck the spirit...one blew her left arm off, the second exploded her chest wide open, and the third disintegrated her head yet still she stumbled forward. The grip of her right arm was like a vise on his throat. Another point blank shot sent her flying off of him, giving him time to hip shoot the three remaining slugs into her now melting form. He knew she was dying at least, the zombies dropped to the floor and the bacon hung limp. In a matter of moments she was nothing but a pile of twigs and goop.
There was a horrible mess to clean up, and rotting corpses to re-bury, and he would do it gladly. Finally, Doug could live a normal life...
Ikuto was shock to hold her fainted body, "Amu wake up!" shaking her body then he heard something, "she didn't eat anything all day, thank goodness I thought it was something else" wrapping her close and tight. Utau saw him hugging somebody, she almost broke her glass of red wine "Utau!" she turned around and saw Kaemon, she just walked off but he stop her "I don't want anything to do with you, you already broke my heart once cheating on me with a foreign model I'm just....." she almost cry, he pull her close "you don't have to say anything I'm sorry" Utau forgot about Ikuto and Amu. "Ikuto we should get going before we cause a scene" Yoru floating next to him, he transformed to Black Lynx and in a way flew from building to building to get to Amu house. When he get to her balcony, he gently open her balcony window and lay her down on her bed. He walked off suddenly he drop some of Amu school books, he found a ripped photo, "she found the other half of the puzzle" looking at the ripped photo, he put it down and saw the Humpty Lock. "Ikuto grab it, so we can be one step closer to finding the Embryo" Yoru said. He just grab it and almost left her balcony, "Ikuto" Amu talked in her sleep, he walked back by her bed side and grab her hand, she closed it feeling his hand. He kissed her forehead "I'm sorry but we have to keep our distant" he purposely left the Humpty Lock on Amu hand. He walked back to his house, when he got to the city area he stopped for a moment, and saw poster of his new CD "I fulfill my dream but I can't enjoy it because its not my dream its someone else dream" when he looked closely at the Easter logo on his Cd poster. Utau and Kaemon were still at his place but in his bedroom alone. They both hugged again "why do you want me back?" Utau ask "I really love you, but when we started our relationship I always saw you close with your brother more than family so that's why I cheated to get even with you" Kaemon taking off his blazer, "I'm sorry you thought that why." He grab his guitar and a song sheet, "I wrote this song for you" he played his guitar:
♫Alone on an empty stage The curtain falls on my dream And I realize that like yesterday, Tomorrow will never come again The final scene is always Painful and beautiful but I will dry my tears and open the door... I am born again Courage grows with me So I am no longer afraid My heartful song...♫
"That was amazing" Utau heard, he gave her the song sheet "No, you should keep it you can trust me with this" she remembered about when she first started working for Easter Studio. "Mr.Director I got song I would live to sing in my first concert, here" 14 year old Utau said, he didn't say anything, he just rip her song sheet. "You don't think of your song from now we think your songs" he said. 14 year old Utau was shattered by his word, then she became a stronger by his word "I got that" he gave her first song -Black Butterfly- But really she had two sides of her, the kind caring Utau and the tough and strong Utau, then came her two Guardian Characters, Eru and Iru. He still gave it to her, "keep us a special gift from me to you, suddenly Utau cried again. "Utau, please sing that will make you feel better" Kaemon holding her tight "I feel broken inside" Utau said. He just carry her to his bed, "Utau I want you back in my life your really important to me, I would give up being a playboy to have you" she didn't say anything but kiss him. She smile happy "I waited to hear for so many years, and I do want you back" they have night to remember and forget about the rest of the world. "Director were done!" some worker said at Easter Studio, they presented it to him and showed "as you see can see, all our singer like Ikuto Tsukiyomi and Utau Hoshina sing to collect only a few X eggs but when they use out new device that is planted inside their microphones. When they sing there vocals and song can activate more powerful energy to get triple as more X eggs. He agree to their idea, they left each a headset microphone and regular microphone in each of the singers dressing room. "We'll be one step closer to getting the Embryo, and nobody can stop us because all my performers are my puppets who don't have freedom or free will" looking outside his window. -The Next Day (Friday)- Amu woke up, she found herself in her pajamas "was it only a dream?" she looked at her alarm clock and it is 6:00 am, "that was some weird dream, at a party with other huge celebrities and then almost kissing.... touching her lips, Ikuto." Amu stepped on something, she found the clothes she was wearing in her dream "so it wasn't a dream" before she could anything else, she heard her stomach grumble. When she got to the kitchen, she found some miso soup, fish, and rice next to that a letter:
Amu-chan were going to a fancy hot spring for our 2nd anniversary we also took Ami so take care of the house till we get back
P.S: In the living room we left you some money to buy some extra food
Love Mama and Papa
After reading the letter, she heated and ate her breakfast. Amu showered and change to her uniform, she grab her book bag and Guardian Character bag. When she was walking to school, she looked at the beautiful sky, then saw a poster of Ikuto Tsukiyomi upcoming Live Concert. "We're enemies, so we have to keep a distant" Amu remembered what Ikuto said to her a few days ago "Amu-chan do your best!" Ran cheering everybody up "Yeah! I will beat Ikuto of his word" crossing the street. "Spin the wheel, and win an amazing prize!" "you should try" Amu pointed at herself. "Yes, you come and spin the wheel!" Amu spin the wheel fast because she was going to be late for school, out came out a blue marble "WE GOT A WINNER! You win 5 tickets to Ikuto Tsukiyomi upcoming concert for you and 4 of your closest friends." Amu was still holding the 5 tickets she won, "could it be destiny or a sign about me and Ikuto." When she looked at the time she rushed to school. After class was over she had a Guardian Meeting, "I got information and found out that Easter Studio is sending some of their singer to other country like New York to get more X eggs, that's why we have to find the Embryo before they do" Tadase looking through his paper. Amu showed the 5 tickets, she won "I got these tickets so we can check what happens at his upcoming concert" Yaya was happy to go one of concert since his tickets go sold out in 5 minutes. The concert was a week from now, so they had to be prepared for whatever happens. "I wonder what Ikuto is doing?" Amu walking. Ikuto was in the school garden taking a cat nap, he was sleeping on one of the bench, "shouldn't you be practicing for your concert?" Yoru floating around "I got better things to do then another day seeing him" still sleeping. He had a vision of Amu smiling happy, "Onii-chan do your best!" Ikuto woke up, "I can't stop thinking about her but she's my enemy. "Ouch" Amu ran to help her up "are you ok?" "thanks, I should be careful next time" she looked and saw she has a broken ankle "what happen to your ankle?" "I got it injured, so I can't perform as the swan princess and I worked so hard to get that leading role." "Amu-chan I feel the presence of an upcoming X egg from her" Miki pointing to the girl "I feel it too" Su sad for her They both walked to and took a seat on a park bench. "So you said you do ballet?" "yeah, my dream is to be like my mother she was a former ballet dancer but then her dreams were ruin when she lost her chance to get a career as a professional ballet dancer." She saw teardrop, suddenly she passed. Amu and her guardian characters saw a X egg, "Ran, character change" "Hop, Step, JUMP!" She looked everywhere and wondered what happen to the X egg "It's not the embryo, so it's no use for me" Ikuto almost crushing it "IKUTO!" seeing Ikuto holding her X egg. "What is he doing with her X egg?" shock to see him.
I woke, my body felt peaceful, I was dead. 'So this is what peace feels like,' I thought, 'I almost with that the demon won't come for me ' "Why have you called upon me," a sad voice called. "You must be Sebastian," I answered. "How do you know me by that name?" the voice demanded. "You served Ciel Phantomhive as his butler; you protected him until the end. I have come to tell you that he was tricked; our parents' real killers are still alive, the angel lied to you and him he died for nothing, you contract was not finished," I said. A pair of purplish red eyes appeared in front of me, "That would explain it," Sebastian said. "Explain what." "That day I took him to the island of death but I was unable to take his soul, but my mark is gone from his eye." "He believed that you had killed the one he was after, there for he thinks the contract was finished." "I still have his soul; I have kept it safe, what is it you want, other than to tell me that I failed in upholding my contract." "I have called you to make an offer, my soul, if you help me find and kill the real murderers of my parents." "No, I don't want you soul, I want something else, if what you said is true then young Ciel's body is still out there somewhere and I have his soul, I will help you only if I can get my young master back and apologize, for breaking our contract." "That's it, and once that happens?" "Our contract will be finished, and I will leave." "What about Ciel, If you can really bring him back won't he want you to take his soul. My brother keeps his word, and you not taking it will upset him." "I already have taken his soul so therefore that part of our agreement is done." "Very well, Sebastian Michaelis, will you agree to work and serve me until we find my brothers body and the real murderers," I asked. "Of course .Mistress."
1. You refer to your instrument as My precious or My baby 2. All your conversations start as Yesterday in band 3. You yell at the music on the radio for being Out of tune 4. You keep a metronome handy in your back pocket 5. People listen to Imperium while waiting for you to answer your phone 6. A whole section can be missing from your band 7. And you can sing their part 8. in tune 9. You know what a Wind Staff is 10. And threaten to use it on someone 11. daily 12. All of your friends have either a reed or a mouthpiece 13. You know what a Pancake Key is 14. and enjoy pressing it 15. You conduct the radio 16. Youve composed a version of your favorite video game music for your instrument 17. You accidentally empty your spit valve onto someones foot 18. And try to explain how its Only 30% spit! 19. You randomly [in public] start fingering your part for your concert music 20. And all of your friends do the same thing 21. until you have a whole band of imaginary instruments 22. All of your Mad Libs include the words Spit Valve, Reed, Baton 23. You can think of personal experiences to add to this list 24. You come 45 minutes early to school 25. so you can practice in the band room 26. Anyone who isnt in band doesnt understand ANY of your jokes 27. You have TRIED to date outside of the band 28. but failed miserably 29. so everyone in band just passes around the cute trumpet player 30. You take turns with everyone else in band to guess what died in the tuba 31. and somehow you always win 32. You always argue how youre late 33. for being early 34. cause when your early, youre on time 35. and when your on time, youre late 36. and when youre late 37. youre in TROUBLE 38. You have A LOT of time on your hands 39. and you spend it making lists like these 40. You skip whatever class you dont want to go to, to go to band 41. You scoff at people in chorus, saying how singing isnt a talent 42. You have your band music on your ipod/mp3 43. Your band shirt/shirts are your favorites 44. You know that the band exam is the easiest test you will ever take 45. You know the phrase Just one more time is a LIE 46. Your non-band friends have to yell at you to stop singing showtunes 47. Your instrument has a name 48. Your case has a name 49. your friends know the names 50. Your band director has LOTS of nicknames 51. but no one has the courage to call he/she that name 52. You have to say Its a band thing MANY times a day 53. Cork grease starts to taste kinda like ChapStick 54. so you tried it 55. and liked it 56. You know the pitch of your school bell 57. and when it held out for too long 58. You are laughing at this list 59. Cause you know its true 60. You spend your time reading lists like these 61. ALL of your time 62. Youll comment and add some of your own 63. And youll still laugh about it later 64. youve been able to teach your science partner all your concert music just by singing it so much 65. ....and how to play them 66. ....on most of the instruments 67. Your teacher tells you to stop talking 68. ...but you complain your only humming your band music 69. ...and that's not talking 70. You've seen your Drum major wear his marching shoes to a school dance 71. and been jealous because you had to wear heels 72. You've worn your band uniform to a dance. 73. You wear your bowtie constantly 74. and usually end up with it as a hair accessory 75. which angers your band director 76. which amuses the band and chaperones 77. you have come to realize all band directors are CRAZY 78. and that they may pass information on you 79. and plot against you 80. and that no baton is safe in his hands 81. EVER 82. Youve been caught in the spray of your friends spit valve when they forget to clean it 83. No matter what people say, NO BAND DIRECTOR IS EVER COOL 84. but still pretend he is so he doesnt complain 85. but you still talk about him behind his back 86. and enjoy it 87. Youve played Spin The Piccolo 88. Or you even know what it is 89. And got to kiss the cute trumpet boy 90. and sadly the tuba boy 91. and almost the flute chick nobody likes 92. but was saved by the hot string base player (coughcoughWILLcoughcough) 93. You have been hit in the head with a flying piece of baton 94. and still have the mark to prove it 95. You are currently a member of the White Collared Penguin Mafia 96. and still dont remember how you got in 97. Or how to get out 98. You have been threatened to be blown away by a bazooka 99. by your band director 100. while he was holding a bassoon on his shoulder 101. Youre a bassoonist and have been asked if you have rabies 102. and know theyre calling you a baboon 103. You know the german word for bassoon 104. and love saying it 105. and love telling that its faggot 106. You call the flutist fruity 107. you love to blow your faggot! 108. you laughed at the last one 109. because you know its true 110. Walkin and Talkin is your ringtone 111. You have been thrown into the wall by the bass clarinet 112. with their whole body 113. You know every word to Bohemian Rhapsody 114. At 11:30 at night, you have nothing better to do than make lists like this 115. with your best friend 116. and a ceramic heater 117. cause youre in TN and its FREEZING 118. even though the Floridian doesnt think so 119. but the other Floridian that moved to TN was a pansy 120. just kidding, shes a Rose 121. You LOLd at this 122. cause you know Rose 123. Youre afraid to sit on the band carpet 124. because you know whos emptied their spit valve there 125. and you laugh at the unfortunate newbies 126. who dont know about it yet 127. You can recite the whole Beethoven movie (the musician people WORK W/ ME!) 128. because youve seen it so many times 129. You looked back at # 121 and 122 and wondered what it had to do with band 130. and actually pondered it 131. You wake up at 4 in the morning just for band camp 132. and you got used to it 133. You think guitar hero is stupid and unrealistic 134. and think they should make Concert Band or Classic Hero instead 135. Youve left band with a half moon imprint on your forehead 136. because you leaned on your trombone mouthpiece 137. and fell asleep during the band directors lecture 138. You take Band Geek as a compliment 139. and even wanted it as your band t-shirts 140. but you stupid ------- band director said no 141. .you understand that ----- is one of his forbidden nicknames never to be said 142. At one point your band director looked like a Unabomber 143. and you enjoy this picture very VERY much 144. and love the newbies faces when they see it 145. and love the fact that now hes bald 146. Your iPod is your life support 147. and you cry when it dies 148. Youve given nicknames to the other music programs 149. like orcha-dorks 150. and you tell them that you can kick brass/kiss your brass 151. you love their faces when you say this 152. You wish you had aim 153. so you could hit people with you trombone slide 154. and pie your band director and not miss 155. and never let it go 156. You like the thought of #154 157. and have given the idea to him as a fundraiser 158. You know every band fundraiser is either cookies or candles 159. and that no one will ever do it : ) 160. unless its that one drummer who has no life 161. even in the band 162. which is REALLY saying something 163. You think farting in your instrument is both insulting and amusing 164. but you still felt bad for the instrument 165. and have considered trying it 166. but saw the effect on the first instrument 167. and decided to save your Baby 168. You can hear any mosquito ringtone from a mile away 169. and can name its pitch 170. You can be called flat 171. and not know that they didnt mean to adjust your instrument 172. cause its your boobs! (courtesy of Sandy Roy) 173. You have a strange obsession with FLOAM 174. and have been floamD 175. and clamD 176. and are wondering what this has to do with band 177. You have been shoved inside of a tuba 178. 1:to find out what died in it once for all 179. 2:just for fun 180. Everything you do MUST be connected to band 181. including baking cookies 182. You are ashamed that you dont know what a melophone is 183. You just read this because it had the word "Band" in it 184. You realize that our keywords have NOTHING to do with this deviation : )
NO BAND GEEKS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS.
EXCEPT CODY. HE DESERVED IT THOUGH. SO ITS OK.
AND MANDI. IT WAS CODY'S FAULT.
AND THE TROMBONE MOON PRINT... BUT THAT WAS HIS FAULT.
MAYBE WE SHOULD REPHRASE THIS,
NO IMPORTANT BAND GEEKS WERE HARMED IN THE MAKING OF THIS.
Falling in Love with Fangs! BY: GABRIELA I. BERDECIA MEDINA
CHAPTER 1: I'm Getting A Bad Feeling!
I don't like this new teacher we got all of a sudden, he's so suspicious-looking I can't help but stare at him... His eyes are crimson-red even if he tries to hide the color of his eyes behind his framed-black glasses; they are a bit scary if you look at them for too long it's almost as if they are following your every move.
He's pretty young looking for a middle-aged man, he almost looks like a high school student, how is that ? His eyelashes are long and his hair is short and messy, his black hair really makes his eyes pop out more. He is very pale and looks tired all the time; I bet he has bags under his eyes when he comes to school. To make it even more suspicious his name is Masashi Kurotsuki, in Japanese it means "Elegant Black Moon." I don't know maybe, I'm thinking too much since I was forced to watch a vampire movie with my younger sister last night
"Lily Shizuka", Masashi shouted as he walked by her desk, smacking his ruler across her desk loudly, making her jump in her seat.
"Y-yes", Lily blurted out in surprise as she looked up at the tall scary, Masashi. Masashi began to smirk slowly then said, "I was doing attendance and I called for your name, Ms. Shizuka."
Lily blinked and looked down and muttered softly, "I'm sorry I wasn't paying attention "
Masashi lifted Lily's chin up with his ruler slowly and she glared at him then Masashi said softly, "If you weren't paying attention to me then why were you staring at me, Ms. Shizuka?"
Everyone in class whispered and Lily turned red in embarrassment and shouted, "It's not what you think, you just look...strange to me, Mr. Kurotsuki."
Masashi smiled and lowered his ruler and stared into Lily's brown eyes then said softly, "Whatever the case, please refrain from staring at people, it's very rude, Ms. Shizuka."
Lily nodded and she looked down at her notebook to avoid the eyes of her classmates, then she folded her arms, staring at Masashi write on the blackboard. She stuck her tongue out at him and Masashi stopped writing and smiled feeling amused then said aloud, "Ms. Shizuka, stick your tongue out at me again and you'll be staying after class with me and my ruler~" Lily flinched and her eye's widened and she said to herself, "He couldn't have saw me!?" Lily was quiet for the rest of the time in class and the bell rung, everyone rushed out the room and Lily finished packing up.
She was about to leave out the doorway, when she felt a ruler brush the side of her neck gently and she shuddered. "Ms. Shizuka", Masashi whispered softly, and Lily squeezed her fists and turned around and said feeling annoyed, "What?!"
Masashi smirked devilishly as he lifted a long scarlet-red strand of Lily's hair, running his fingers through it and letting it fall down onto her chest lightly.
"I hope that we'll get along better tomorrow, Lily-chan~" Lily blushed red and left the classroom quickly and stopped by a nearby water fountain and splashed water on her face.
"He's very suspicious", Lily muttered softly as she touched a long strand of her red hair gently.
Lily walked out the main school entrance, sighing loudly as she carried a backpack full of books. She went down the front school steps and stopped when she hit the ground and turned her head around. She scanned around and felt someone was watching her then she started to walk home when one of her friends came behind her and hugged her.
Lily jumped and she turned around and shouted, "You almost scared me to death, Ayumi-chan!" Ayumi giggled and then walked beside Lily then said excitedly, "I heard your new English teacher is a hottie~"
Lily's eyebrow twitched in anger at the thought of Masashi then she looked at Ayumi and said, "He's really not; he's a big-headed and stubborn teacher!"
Ayumi blinked in surprise at Lily's response and then her cell phone started to ring. Lily grunted loudly and said, "Let me guess it's your boyfriend, taking you home again?"
Ayumi laughed nervously and then hugged Lily and said, "Sorry Lily, umm maybe we can walk home together tomorrow?" Lily sighed and smiled, "Fine, you better hurry Ayumi."
Ayumi smiled wide and nodded as she waved good-bye to Lily as she headed back the opposite direction of Lily. Lily started walking down the sidewalk and a couple of minutes into it she ended up at a stop sign and she saw a black car pull up and stop.
Lily ignored the car until it honked at her, she looked at the car window slowly slide down and it was Mr. Kurotsuki waving at her.
Her eyes widened and she began to walk fast but he honked at her again, she bit down on her lip feeling frustrated then she walked up to the car window.
"What do you want, Mr. Kurotsuki," she asked with a fake smile on her face. Masashi smiled and said, "I wanted to know if you wanted a ride home, since I'm headed the direction you're going anyway." Lily smiled and said, "No, thank-you."
"Are you scared, Lily-chan," Masashi said teasingly. Lily's cheeks turned red and she yelled, "No, I'm not and don't call me Lily-chan!"
She walked around to the other front passenger seat, opening the car door and sliding herself into the car seat. Masashi looked away covering his mouth, trying to hide his laugher and she clicked in her seatbelt and folded her arms, pouting quietly.
Masashi got control over himself and started to drive and then he asked Lily, "Do you act like this at home?" Lily sunk low in her seat and looked at the car window, ignoring Masashi then she asked softly, "Do you like scary movies?"
"I'll answer your question once you answer mine," Masashi said sarcastically. Lily muttered, "Smartass." Masashi smirked and stopped the car all of the sudden and Lily gasped moving forward and backward in her seat.
Masashi turned and stared at her intensely, "Ms. Shizuka, I can turn this car around and make you have detention with me, so this is your last warning."
Lily blushed red when she looked into Masashi's seductive-red eyes and she leaned in closer to him without knowing and Masashi flicked her nose.
"Ow," Lily shouted and Masashi said teasingly, "You're too young for me, Ms. Shizuka, grow up a bit more and then you can kiss my lips~"
Lily blinked and her fist twitched and she punched Masashi in the face then she stared at her fist.
"Mr. Kurotsuki, I-I didn't m-mean too," Lily said nervously as she stared at Masashi repositioning his glasses then he looked at Lily in the corner of his eye and that sent shivers down Lily's spine.
Masashi smirked and revved up the car and did a U-turn. He sped down the streets and Masashi said softly, "I warned you~"
Lily gripped her car seat at the thought of what Masashi would do to her in detention and Masashi gripped the steering wheel with a wide smirk on his face.
"I'm getting a bad feeling about this," Lily thought in her head.
Sadie woke from her nap in the usual way, to the beeping of a telephone. Pressing the receiver to her ear, she listened carefully despite the lingering tiredness of her mind.
The voice, which she'd never heard before, said, "I can't believe that jerk took my ring. I oughta report him."
Another voice, which she'd also never heard before, answered, "Like they'll do anything to him. Big jock like that."
Sadie sat up and cracked her back gently along its length. A bit of static rippled through the phone call and another voice, one much deeper, emerged and said, "Dude! You would not believe the primo ring I just scored. It looks expensive. Wonder if I can hawk it."
Carefully, Sadie set the phone down. She didn't need to hear anymore. She understood where she needed to go and what she needed to do. Getting up from her couch, she walked over to her bathroom and washed her face gently.
She afforded herself on a quick look in the mirror. Sadie only came up to the bottom of it. Her full brown hair flared out from her head and down to her legs like a cape across her back. It fluttered a bit as she turned to crack her neck. She glanced at the clock on the bathroom wall. She'd managed a ten minute nap before being needed.
Before heading out, she slipped on her silvery nightgown. It flowed across her and glittered even in the low light of her apartment. It protected from her neck to her knees like cloth armor.
Stretching her arms up high, she made her way out of her apartment. She didn't bother to take anything with her. Nothing would be needed.
Trudging down the hall took her to the front of her apartment complex. In what any reasonable person would consider a dangerous neighborhood with worn walls and tough guys hanging out by doors, Sadie made her way without a care.
On occasion, in the past, the random person might follow her at a distance with a small knife concealed in their pocket. If they attempted to get close to her or draw the knife, they would invariably find themselves accidentally injured by their knife suddenly sliding into their own hand. If they persisted beyond that, they would freeze in place until Sadie was clear of them by quite a distance. None persisted past that point and it had been a while since any had followed her with malicious intent.
Sadie trudged in her silver sandals, nightgown gleaming in the sunlight, and wondered what choice the "big jock" would make.
The big jock's name was Russ Harton. Sadie knew that and where to find him. For her, it was an undeniable sense.
Russ had been lingering around the bleachers of his high school when he noticed the bright ring on the finger of a classmate. He didn't know the guy's name, nor did he care. He waited for his moment. Then the guy got up to leave, he put himself in-between. The whole operation was just a quick stagger, slip of his hand, and some token apology for bumping into him.
Surveying the cheerleaders at practice later with a wide grin, Russ turned the ring around in his hands. The lettering was strange. An etched serpent curled in a tight spiral around the front.
After looking it over quite a bit, Russ slipped the ring on his nearest finger and tested the fit. Perfect. As he examined it, his buddy Todd ran over in his football uniform.
It only took Todd a moment to notice the ring. Russ made some excuse about a gift from some grandfather. As he sat there, Russ noticed the ring was getting strangely warm on his finger.
He looked over to the side of the bleachers. The dude who had the ring was looking around all over. With a smile, Russ lifted his hand enough so the guy would notice. Then he flexed his firm shoulder muscles just a little. The guy gave him a look but said nothing.
Todd settled onto the bleachers and they talked about the cheerleaders in their usual way. As they talked, the ring felt like it was under a heat lamp. It wasn't painful. In fact, it was more like a warm wrap for Russ. He didn't mind it.
Turning between the cheerleaders and his buddy, Russ began to notice something strange. Todd's black hair, normally a buzz-cut with flecks of sweat from his workout, was getting longer. It flowed to his neck and back to his shoulders.
Russ gasped. "Dude "
Todd turned and brushed back his long hair. "What?"
As Russ watched open-mouthed, Todd's face lost its muscular rigidness. His nose, slightly bent, straightened and slimmed. His lips swelled slightly. And his features looked perfectly smooth. It took Russ a moment to realize the kind of face he was looking at was a girl's face.
Instead of muscular arms with dense hairs, Todd's arms were much smaller and glossy soft. His hulking body was dwarfed by his uniform and his pants were many sizes too small. Casually, Todd slipped off his football uniform. Underneath, Russ could see a gorgeous girl. She was dressed in the red top of the cheerleaders, although a bit closer to a bikini top than the normal uniform. It clung to her new cleavage. Below, Russ's eyes lingered on the short white skirt, also smaller than usual.
A rush of feeling overwhelmed Russ as the new Todd flapped her skirt a little, giving the quickest glance of her underwear. The girl in place of Todd looked like something out of one of his many fantasies. In fact, if he could manage a clear thought, Russ would realize immediately that she was one of his imagined girls come to life.
The female Todd picked up a football beside her and asked, in just the voice that resonated perfectly for Russ, "Wanna throw around?"
Russ could barely contain himself. He panted, at a loss for words. He heard a giggle behind him and looked at the men's tennis team. In their place were a mass of giggling girls with a rainbow of long hair in just the colors he loved most. Their outfits were a snapshot of all his fetishes.
Mouth open, Russ grinned widely and walked around. Todd gave a big frown and said, "Where are you going? Don't you want to play?"
Russ chuckled to himself, took in Todd with a grunt of appreciation, and muttered, "I gotta check something out."
He went around the bleachers to where guy he'd taken the ring from had been. In the guy's place was a girl with full hair dyed purple and brilliant green eyes. She smiled back at him. Russ knew he could turn back and take in the adoration of many lovely ladies. But he went on.
The baseball field was just on the other side of the bleachers and it was sure to be packed because of the game. As he looked on, it was now packed with girls wearing uniforms much tighter than normal. Russ cackled to himself as they turned to smile at him.
The girls from the bleachers came. Russ cracked his knuckles and said, "Ladies. There is plenty of Russ to go around."
The women looked at him and then said, in a single voice, "You're not Russ."
All the feeling and enthusiasm Russ had for a world populated solely by his harem suddenly deflated into shivers. He backed against the fence.
"What? My name is Russ."
The girls all took a step closer as one. "Your name is Charisse."
Russ scoffed as best he could with his racing heart. "Shut up! That's a girl's name. I'm guy. I'm Russ, dammit!"
The girls followed him like a coordinated flock. "You are a girl. A very cute girl. Your name is Charisse."
Russ glared and gestured to himself. "Do I look like a girl?!"
A simultaneous grin spread across the girls on both sides of the fence, surrounding Russ as they said, "You just need a little makeover "
They swarmed all over him like they were attacking. He shielded his eyes but the mass too strong to resist. Their touch didn't hurt but enveloped him. Fingers pressed through the links in the fence from behind.
He felt frozen in place and unsure what to do. They teased at his short hair. It felt like they had a wig there but each little tug to tease it yanked at his scalp. The fingers on his face felt like they were applying makeup. His cheeks felt strangely cool and smooth under the press of their fingers. His cough, barely managed under the wash of floral perfume, felt so small and faint under the chattering sea of the girls.
His strong arms reached out to push away but they were surrounded by the girls, who lavished on them. Soon, his arms were so much smaller, smaller even than the ones he'd made for Todd. His stared at what he could see of his tiny finger. And still, the swarm continued.
They enveloped his chest. He gasped at the sensation, like a seamstress's needle across his skin, and they left him little time to take in the new fullness as his lower half was attended to next. The crowd rose up around him as he felt shorter and smaller in every place. He tried to scream but feared the sound he would hear. He shut his eyes and tried to will all this away by concentrating on the ring but every effort just made them press back harder.
When it seemed that he could take no more, they vanished and slow footsteps flowed away from him in all directions. Carefully, Russ opened his eyes.
What Russ saw sent a shiver all through her changed body. No longer was she a muscle-bound man dominating over six feet tall. She felt so tiny. Full, blond hair swept over her shoulders. Her body was narrow without sign of real muscles anywhere. Instead of her sports clothes, she wore a bright-pink top with a napping kitten curling up. A pair of small but terrifying breasts pressed out the front. The close-fit jeans she wore told her all she needed to know about what happened down below.
Crouching, she cupped her mouth and shook her head. Screaming felt like the next step.
Quietly, a voice nearby said, "Hi there."
Russ whirled around to look at a girl who was actually a bit shorter than she was now. The girl smiled lightly and said, "Call me Sadie. I'm here to help."
Stammering, Russ managed the question, "Sadie?"
Sadie nodded in return. "Yup. And I know all about you and the ring."
Russ's eyes widened. She scuffed her feet and swallowed as she asked, "What are you going to do to me?"
Sadie tucked her hands in her nightgown pockets. "Do to you? There's nothing I can do to you. I'm just here to ask you if you would please return the ring."
Quickly, Russ tugged the ring off her tiny finger and held it out to Sadie. "Please take it will that turn me back?"
Sadie looked at the ring but didn't take it from Russ's hands. "Returning it won't restore your previous form but it is the right thing to do for yourself and others."
Russ looked down at the ring and then back at Sadie. "What will restore me?"
"Nothing I know of. You stole a ring with very special attributes. To those not chosen to possess it, it defends itself by first granting a shallow wish and a deep fear. What you have done and what has been done to you is irreversible. If you had persisted with the ring, many lives would've been disrupted and the results for you would've been worse and completely self-destructive."
Russ swallowed and her eyes didn't meet Sadie's. She knew what she meant by deep fear. Ever since he was a little kid, he'd always been fearful of being weak and frail and small and pressed against it in any way he could. And he felt a strong rejection of anything the least bit unmasculine.
An unfamiliar feeling flowed through Russ as she asked, "What will happen to those I changed?"
"What twisted their minds will fade. It will be harsh for some, less for others. They will all, in time, remember what you did to them. You will always hold that responsibility." Her expression as she spoke didn't appear harsh to Russ. Sadie didn't smile but she had an air of ease about her. Still, Russ felt chilled.
Russ shook her head and looked at her submissively. "I need to return the ring to her. What then?"
"You do your best. It will be hard but if you keep your efforts sincere, reality will guide you."
Cupping the ring, Russ sniffled and nodded, "Okay. Not sure what that means but I'll do my best. I'm sorry. It was stupid and wrong."
Softly, Sadie gave a smile. "You don't need to apologize to me. I'm just here to help."
In her head, Russ saw the silvery shine around Sadie and thought "angel". Stammering a bit, she voiced this thought. Sadie's smile bloomed and she gave a little wave of her hand.
"I'm not an angel. I'm just a person who helps out."
Russ lowered her head and wrapped her arms around her stomach. The sight of her chest still filled her with dread. "I wish you'd been able to make it sooner."
Sadie shook her head. "I'm not here to intercede in choices. If you can imagine events of this nature happening all around the world with items and people and occurrences like cracks in the world .then I help the cracks heal themselves. That's all."
Russ took a breath. She could look over to the bleachers and see the purple-haired girl lingering with some others. She could just imagine the fury she might have when she remembered what Russ had done to her. She could imagine Todd's greater fury.
Just when it seemed the possibility of all that would kindle a greater fire of self-loathing and bitter tears inside Russ, Sadie leaned close and wrapped her arms around Russ in a hug. It surprised Russ. Usually hugs by girls were a chance for him to take in the sensation of their breasts against his hard chest. But when Sadie touched her, she felt a pleasant ripple beneath her physical form.
Her heart slowed and ease filled her. After a moment, Russ nodded and said, "I'll do what I can to help these cracks I made."
Sadie bowed her head a little and looked over to where the purple-haired girl was standing. Taking a deep breath, Russ walked over. Holding out the ring, she spoke with her head down and said, "I'm so sorry. This is yours."
Part of Sadie would've liked to stay and see how it turned out. But she could hear a nearby pay phone ringing just for her.
There was nothing to do. At all. Nothing. I was sitting in our mansion alone. Mum was outside of London having her, what- fifth facial surgery this year? Ian was in the stables with his polo pony and father was at a Lucian branch meeting.
Top secret of course.
"Mistress Natalie," Sophia, one of our many maids began. I perked my ears towards her voice. "Your cousin, Sinead Starling is here."
"Send her in." I ordered. Sophia nodded and beckoned Sinead in. Sinead skipped gleefully in my bedroom. I scowled.
"What is it, Sinead?" I asked. Sinead smirked.
"My, my, Miss Kabra, aren't you a grump today?" Sinead taunted. I merely glared at her, too bored to do anything else. Sinead sighed. "Come on, Natalie! I'm only in London for a few more days, you MAY not consider me as a friend, but won't you PLEASE come to the fair with me? You've obviously got nothing to do." Sinead begged, rolling her eyes at the end.
"No, I won't g-" I began, but Sinead cut me off oh-so-rudely.
"Who knows, maybe even Jonah will be there since he IS in London for his tour " Sinead murmured loud enough for me to hear. I perked up, but reformed in my straight posture.
"Fine. But only 'cause I have nothing to do with my weekend." I sneered. Sinead grinned but I waved off the matter and went to get dressed.
"Cheer up! The fair is amazing at night!" Sinead exclaimed. I sighed. Americans and their peppy attitudes. I'll never understand them.
"As you Americans say; whatever." I mused. Sinead let out an aggravated breath, and then laughed softly. I stared at her.
"What is it?" I asked her. Sinead shook her head.
"The only reason you came to the fair - and don't argue with me - is because you wanted to see Jonah. I know you. You have an easy to read poker face, Nat.
"You've liked Jonah since that Cahill meeting at Grace's mansion. Ever since he said 'Hey,'! You two have a lot in common. You're both two spoilt brats." Sinead finished. I glared at her.
"So why were you giggling?" I asked.
"Because Jonah is right over there being a helpless case is his." Sinead answered, pointing at a fifteen year old sauntering up towards us.
Emotion is weakness, emotion is weakness, emotion is weakness... I repeated in my mind. Emotion was truly weakness and I did not dare to show any of my happiness.
"Yo cousins! Can you believe n'one knows of da Wizard in London?" Jonah exclaimed. I rolled my eyes.
"Yes, Jonah, nobody knows, not even us!" I proclaimed sarcastically. Jonah grunted. Sinead looked between Jonah and I.
"I think I'll go on the ferris wheel- OH LOOK THERE'S KAYLA! Byebye guys!" Sinead frantically claimed while running towards the wheel. I tried to protest for her not to leave us together, but she was too far away to here me.
"So Nat? Want to go 'round the fair tog'ther?" Jonah asked. I grimaced, and then sighed. Better than being alone what would Lilya say? I don't want to know.
"Sure " I muttered. Jonah grinned. We just walked. No screaming fans for Jonah, it was as if we were two normal people just enjoying each other's company. But we both knew we were far from normal.
We stopped in front of a candy floss stall. I scowled.
"Jonaaaaah. I don't like candy floss!" I whined. Jonah gawked at me as if I was crazy. "What? I just said I don't like candy floss."
"What's candy floss?" Jonah asked.
"Cotton Candy as you Americans say."
"Oh. But have you ever even tasted it? It's pretty awesome." Jonah replied. I shifted a bit.
"No... but do you really expect me to eat that... junk?" I asked. He nodded.
"A first time for anything, right, Nat?" He answered. And he actually sounded serious. I then noticed something. He wasn't using his pathetic slang. I smiled slightly.
"I guess so " I hesitantly answered. Jonah nodded and ordered two sticks of candy floss. He handed me what I think of candy floss; a sickly pink cloud of terror and toothaches. He gestured me to eat it. I did.
And it melted in my mouth.
"I-it's so sweet " I exclaimed. I took another bite. I don't think anything would have been sweeter than this. Of course, it's just inflated sugar.
Until my whole stick was finished. I almost felt bad for it to be all gone. Almost. I turned around to see Jonah grinning widely.
"I told you!" He exclaimed. I stuck out my tongue and threw out my stick. I turned around to see Jonah smirking. I raised an eyebrow.
"It's obviously something, Jonah." I countered. Jonah put his hands up in an act of surrendering.
"Okay! I was thinking if you wanted to go on the ferris wheel with me!" Jonah answered. I stared at him, emotionless.
"Sure." I said. Just as simple as that.
We walked towards the ferris wheel to see Sinead walking with our cousin, Kayla Cahill. So Sinead wasn't lying about seeing Kayla.
"Kayla, what are you doing here?" Jonah asked.
"Ahhh family business you may say." Kayla explained while winking. Then she smiled. "I see you two have gotten a liking to each other." Kayla said as she gestured towards our hands.
I looked down to see Jonah was holding my hand. I shrieked and retracted my hand. Jonah's façade faltered for a minute, betraying- sadness? But it quickly went back to his cocky manner.
"I guess so, dawg." Jonah bluntly stated. I groaned as I was dragged to the wheel. I gasped when we were at the top.
"The view is amazing. Even more amazing than the view from my balcony!" I exclaimed. Jonah nodded in awe.
"In America, we don't see the stars 'cause of the pollution." Jonah said sadly. I had a splurge of sympathy shock me. That's quite odd.
"Oh." Oh. That's all I could say? If mother was here, she would have given 'The Lecture of Image'.
But she isn't here. She's somewhere else rearranging her face. I guess that's what you have to risk to be beautiful when you're forty.
"You know, I had a good time." I said, surprising both me and Jonah.
"Really? I guess it's because you were with me." Jonah teased. I laughed; something I haven't done since I was young. I always wondered why I haven't. "You should laugh more, it bring the better side of you."
"Oh really? I always thought both sides of me were good enough." I mocked. He smiled. I smiled back, but frowned. This would have ruined my reputation. 'Course with Sinead, a bit of bribing would keep her shut, but I wasn't sure of Kayla. I would have to think of that later.
"Nat?" Jonah asked.
"I hate you, Jonah Wizard." I said, but I was smiling during the whole thing. Jonah gave me an odd lock, but finally got the message.
"I hate you too, Natalie Kabra." He answered as he grabbed onto my hand.
I was wrong before. Candy floss may be sweet, but not as sweet as Jonah Wizard.
You hurt me, little girl, with all your cries and sighs and moans of pleasure, breaking through the ground in which I had been buried for years upon years, sleeping for forgiveness. I do not resent you that - if you are the first to be alive and lively in this ancient castle that was built upon my tomb, well, the more honor to you. I was never meant for peace and happiness, with or without you to disturb me.
It pains me that they found you out, little girl, dragged you out by your hair from the servants' corridor, never found your lover, so they called him the devil and you a witch. It aches to hear you scream as fire licks your legs and to know you won't be alive much longer - I had come to like the hurt you gave me, to feel that if I was damned, humanity wasn't.
A plague on their heads, little girl, a plague. I never saw your face - I picture you pretty, gold hair, round cheeks, a twinkle in your eye. God is a bastard, you tell him that for me when he denies you heaven. Tell him I don't repent, nor won't, tell him you are mine, girl. Tell him you are the Devil's, and the Devil still serves his old master and if the old man shall ever wake--
Shush, little girl, it's nearly over. You only have that much life in your chest. It's a bad world out there, there was a war and history's written by the winners, but I swear you this: we'll win in the end and it will be fair and beautiful and right. So tell him you don't mind going to hell - tell them you're a heretic, a Devil's whore; hide in my den away from heaven. There's others there. They'll hide you and protect you.
One day we'll win, one day the old man shall wake and the world will really be how you feel it ought to be. And this god, this unforgiving god, this cruel, sadistic god will fall. How long can he pretend? How long can he hold his post?
You died, my child. Don't worry. I have you tight within my grasp and won't let go. Hell is warm and there is cocoa, though you wouldn't know of it, and all the good people are there. We send the worst out, haunting through the empty vastness beyond and when they return, they are changed men, seeking peace and kindness - love would be bliss. God can keep his punishing angels, his righteous people, his prudes and stuck ups and fanatics. I won't let go, I swear. I never would. Don't be frightened. Tell God you hate him - He'll want you in hell. I'll rest some more; old mistakes hang hard around my neck, I should have won the war. But when I wake...
Little girl, when I wake, we'll seek my old master, the kindest of them all, and ask him to return and heal our wounds and push away all this righteous business that God loves so. Until then, look, I set a plague upon their heads. A third of them will die. The rest will live and hope.
This is one of those stories that I am incapable of judging. Stories like this one jump at me and take over - and good luck trying to put them in place. So, does it work? Do you get the point? Don't tell me if it's astonishingly heretical, I know it is, but hey, in today's world, you're not going to burn me for it. Could it be clearer/weirder/more impressive with a bit of tweaking that you have in mind?
Edit: Now submitted to #DevNews's "TO BE A" contest. My take? To be the Devil, of course
I sat in the room silently, hardly paying any attention to the instructor's lecture on battlefield strategy. I was much too busy being wrapped up in my own thoughts as the lesson droned on while I softly drummed my fingers on my desk. I knew that I should be listening, I knew that I should be taking notes, I knew this lesson was important to my future placement in the military, as was every lesson, but recent events had claimed my mind and forced me to succumb to the imponderables swarming my brain. Why had a lock-down been taken into effect over the entirety of Aizsargi Base no.12, our base, one week ago? Why were my classmates and I not notified of its cause? It couldn't have been a drill. Or else the date and time of the drill would have been clearly posted on the events bulletin. Perhaps someone made a mistake? No, no one ever makes mistakes here, planning is crucial to the security of Base no.12. So why? This is what I hated about being an officer in training. We're like fish in a glass bowl, surrounded by darkness. We are given a designated spot to stay in and are not permitted to stray past the set boundaries. We cannot see anything through the darkness that our superiors keep us in, not even my own brother, Luke, will tell me what I want to know. We are isolated and kept under a spell of forced ignorance while we are taught in this small, grey room. I sighed heavily in frustration, this darkness needed to go. I wanted to see. I wanted to see everything, everything that I've been missing. I wanted to be a part of the same world as my big brother, the REAL world. My eyes narrowed at the next thought that nosed its way into my mind. This dream, it also needed to be gotten rid of, this damn thing that flashed in front of my eyes and replayed itself every time I slept. The first time I dreamt of it, I dismissed it as another product of my convoluted imaginings, but the vision came back, night after night. I've talked to the other Dreamers before and from what I hear, repetition is an obvious sign of urgency, even to somebody of my level; a mere potential psychic, meaning there is no medical evidence of me having any psychic abilities, but there is still the possibility of an ability surfacing. Why should I have to report this anyway? It's not like I'm anything special, Never have been, never will. And yet, I'm dreaming of something that seems dangerously close to a Dreamer's vision. A short beep sounded over the intercom, signaling our 30 minute break before classes resumed. The rustling of papers and soft screeching of chairs scooting back could be heard all around me as I continued to stare blankly at my open notebook. Something wasn't right, this dream, I needed to tell Luke as soon as I saw him. He was the only person that would hear me out and keep it a secret. I gathered my things and wove my way through the rows and columns of desks, making my way toward the main hallway of Training Block C. Glancing down at my wristwatch, it dawned on me that Luke would be leaving for his 16:00 patrol within twenty minutes or so. "Crap", I muttered underneath my breath as I jogged down the familiar hallways. I pushed through the double-door exit and sprinted across the outdoor training area, passing my peers as they clambered up and over the mounds of equipment while the instructors barked orders and timed them. Most of them hardly spared me a glance, others waved at me and I did my best to smile and wave back as I ran toward the barracks where Luke lived for the time being. Finally I reached the door on the other side and slid the spare key-card Luke had given me in case I needed to talk to him at any time. I caught my breath while I listened to the automatic bolts slide out of place after I had been authorized entry. The door fully unlocked with a slight hiss and I pulled it the rest of the way open, breaking into a steady jog once more as I retraced the well-known path to Luke's living space. As I rounded the last corner I gasped just before smacking into somebody's chest and falling back onto my butt. I winced from the small burst of pain that came with landing on my tailbone and opened my eyes to a miniature snowstorm of paperwork. 'Oh, no' I thought franticly, not wanting to meet the eyes of whomever I had just inconvenienced. I wasn't even supposed to be in here, what if it was someone important?!? I swallowed the lump in my throat and slowly lifted my gaze to the accusing and none-too-happy stare of Lieutenant Kauffman. 'This is it' I thought 'This is the end of everything. He's gonna kick me out, he's gonna ruin my future; I'm done, fired, dead! I won't even be able to be a janitor in this place by the time he's done with me!' "Well, how long are you going to sit there and stare at me with that dumb look on your face?" He growled. "H-huh?" I stuttered. He sighed and rolled his eyes at my incompetence "Here", he said, holding out a hand to me. I took it and he pulled me to my feet, he then bent down the gather his scattered paperwork. I then snapped out of my shocked state and kneeled to help him. "I-I'm sorry Aaron, err, I mean lieutenant Kauffman! Please, let me clean this up for you!" He glanced over at me and nodded, standing up while I tucked the papers back into their folders and handed them to him in a neat stack. My mind was screeching in horror at what I had just done. First I had inconvenienced and high-ranking officer and then I called him by his first name. I was lucky to not be running twenty laps around the training yard right now. I trembled as he checked that all the papers were in order, he gave a satisfied nod and looked back to me. "What are you doing in here Allerdyce? I don't remember you graduating you final training segment, these grounds are off limits to you." He stated monotonously, the accusing look gradually being replaced with curiosity. "Um, I came to see my brother, Luke. There was something that I wanted to talk to him about " I trailed off, what should I say next? None of the other officers minded that I came here every once in a while, but the lieutenant was a whole different story. I could get Luke in a lot of trouble for giving me a key to this place. "You're too late." Kauffman said simply. "Oh, I see." I said softly, looking down. 'Dammit!' "Is it something that I should know about?" He inquired, eyes narrowing ever so slightly in effort to see what was so important that I would enter restricted grounds. Panic began to rise in my chest and I had to force my breathing to remain steady and calm. I hated this feeling; the sensation of a Reader prying into your mind for information was among the most uncomfortable of feelings. Resistance could make you feel nauseous; I've seen grown men puke after just a few seconds of refusing to have their mind read. My big brother, Luke, being a Reader himself, had taught me a few tricks to set up walls inside my mind, to avoid being read completely. Though effective, these methods of blocking were obvious to a prying Reader, and I could see the realization that I was hiding something in Lieutenant Kauffman's eyes. "Miss Allerdyce," he began, but still I resisted, "Rylee!" He voiced my name sternly. The surprise of being addressed so informally by an officer of Kauffman's rank shook me from my concentration, and I knew by the way the frustration on his countenance transformed into realization, that he had seen what I'd been hiding. "Miss Allerdyce." "Y-Yes Sir?" The trembling started again. "Please come with me." He said it softly, but I knew it was an order. "Yes Sir." I whispered. I hung my head in defeat and followed him out of the barracks, back across the training yard were a few stopped to stare and whisper as they watched the Lieutenant lead me back into Training Block C. At first we took the main hallway but our direction soon changed when he took me down the hall that led to Examination Area of Block C. As we made our way down the hallway, I searched my mind for any possible way of getting out of this situation. I've heard horror stories about Dreamer examinations from the others, and I was in no hurry to be put in such a position. The only possible way that I could get away from this was to run like there was no freaking tomorrow, but there were three things wrong with that plan: 1. Lieutenant Kauffman could no doubtedly run faster than me 2. His suspicion of me would raise and I would be in deep shit 3. Once I was caught, things would be twice as bad as if I hadn't run in the first place No chance, I was screwed. If possible, my head hung even lower as the Examination Area came into view. It was a common trait of Blocks B and C. Block A people were just beginning their training, and examination was not required of them. Blocks B and C were more focused on the mental abilities of future Aizsargi troops, especially those with abilities leveled C and above. The Examination Areas serve two purposes; one is to verify the mental well-being of those of us who are gifted with special abilities, and the other is to question Dreamers about their visions. Anxiety coursed through my veins as Lieutenant Kauffman herded me through the door and pushed me up to the front desk. My breathing began to get deeper and faster as he signed me in. I walked over the small waiting area and sat down in one of the chairs outside the door that led to the long hallway of examination rooms while I struggled to regain composure. This wasn't good, I didn't want to go in and be examined before I could decipher the dream for myself. Besides, what would they think of me? This dream, it isn't normal. And I can't help but get the feeling that it's connected to the lock-down we had last week. What if I get in trouble for knowing something I shouldn't? It's not my fault! Why do Dreamers have to be treated like this? It's not fair! All examinations are carried out by level A Readers. There are two consecutive steps to be followed when examining a Dreamer. First the Reader plays therapist, they talk to the Dreamer, ask a few questions, basically getting them to open up their minds. Then they make the Dreamer relive the vision while they scribble down what they see in their heads and erase the dream when their finished with the Dreamer. They don't even care how unpleasant the vision is for Dreamers, they could be screaming, they could be crying. Hell, they could be puking up their guts. It doesn't matter; we're all just slimy little goldfish in a glass bowl to them.