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:spotlight-left: Hello! :spotlight-right:

:devart: The rules of My-Art-And-Proud are very easy! :devart:

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:clap: Please submit lots of different deviations! Each one is amazing to me! :clap:

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:rose: And remember, My members mean a lot to me, and I hope the group means a lot to you in return! :rose:

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Featured
Into the wild by Hooligan212
Avril Lavigne Typography by KibachuTheWolf
Bluejay Cherry Blossom Tattoo by HiddenTreasury
Leanna: commission by kyuubiXkitsune
Anything Else
[AUCTION] ADOPTABLE #5 ( OPEN ) by FourTCNT
Smiley by BeignetBison
Chapter 1 Cover: Adrift by FaithWalkers
Remote Angel Volume 1 Cover (Textless) by FaithWalkers
Photography
Floppy the Cat by Enlee-Jones
xxxi. by EADodd
Cala D'or Sunset (HDR) by skywalkerdesign
... suddenly alone ... by FlowerOfTheForest
Poetry
The Mummy by Joe-Roberts
Fan Art
158 - Pokeinktober day 12 : Lugia by Rikkimaru129
157 - Pokeinktober day 11 : Lapras by Rikkimaru129
Spongebob and Gary by Jade-Viper
Panda and Bamboo by Makicreazion
Sketches and Doodles
With Hair Like Wine by HaraaJubilee
Rogue Detective by HaraaJubilee
Cavern Safety by HaraaJubilee
Magic At Your Fingertips by HaraaJubilee
Prose and Chaptered Works
Hidden MagicWilford barely opened his eyes to look at the clock. 6.15 AM. Figures… What day was it? Friday? Lovely… He curled around a huge roll of fabric in lieu of a toy, having decided to catch some more ZZZs.The next moment he sat up, owlishly blinking at the clock. Friday. It was Friday. And it meant that they would go to the festival tomorrow!“Huh? W-Wilfy?” A head with only one straw-colored pigtail (the other had gotten unbraided) appeared from behind the fabric roll. It had been brought here yesterday because Bene’s room was stuffed with all things related to sewing – from patterns to finished clothes – and it just didn’t fit there.It was quiet, unlike in the yesterday evening. Wilford tip-toed to the sewing room and saw that Bene had surrendered: she was sleeping at her table. However, Wilford caught her eyes on him as soon as he entered.“Shame, shame, shame,” Bene muttered and yawned. “But at least I’ve finished all orders…” For about five seconds she was staring at the boy. Then she switched her look to Mandrake, who followed him. Then back. Then her eyes shot fully open. “Oh snaps! I completely forgot! Hope they won’t ask me for urgent orders this time!..”“Are you okay, Aunt Benny?” Wilford asked. Bene rubbed her forehead and stretched herself so that a crack was heard:“I would lie to you if I said I was okay, kids. However, it’s okay that I’ve finished all orders and now I am able to complete your newest costumes. So much for the fashion choices!.. And only Felix is allowed to call me Benny, Wilf.”“I call you Aunt Benny,” Wilford objected.“Don’t even know what to choose,” Bene winced.After the breakfast (Bene’s attitude towards food was not too exquisite, so they had oatmeal with raisins) Bene set off to organizing the colorful garments she had completed during the night, while Wilford and Mandrake were packing them into boxes with writings corresponding the names on the labels attached to the pieces of clothing.“I told them that I’m not taking orders today!” Bene snapped after having the third telephone call in a row. “Gosh! Don’t they understand that I might have my own plans? Of course they don’t!.. Sorry kids. Some people just don’t get that they’re not the only ones in the world.”“It’s because of the festival?” Mandrake asked, moving her finger under the name written on the next label.“Mm-hmm. Ordering the day before it is our everything. I like it when orders are made in advance, then the customer isn’t worried and I may consider all options… What am I on about? You’re going to learn it practically when you grow up, pipsqueaks.” Bene arranged the final stack and sighed. “Guess your parents are having even harder time than me, Wilf.”Wilford mentally agreed with her: he had heard that his mother Ahita and her best friend Ford, who worked as teachers at local school, had had to go to the neighboring town because of some ‘independent examination program’. His father Wim and Bene’s boyfriend Felix had undertaken working on a giant mural which had to be completed before Saturday, and Wilford’s older sisters Cappy and Vitalina were preparing for their first examinations, this is why Bene had been asked to take care of him.“What if they just left you?” Mandrake suddenly asked. “Everyone at once?”“Of course they did not, Mandy. Wim and Ahita would never abandon someone they love, especially the one they created.” Bene patted Mandrake on the cheek. “And if your birth parents abandoned you, it does not mean that someone else will as well. I would never leave you, little firestarter mine.”At this moment her phone rang. Bene grimaced and picked it up:“Hello?..” Her facial expression softened a bit – good sign. “Yes… yeah, Wim. Oh, really? I just knew it… You sure? Great, I shouldn’t have picked on you for this… Felix too? Okay. See ya.” She hang up, but the phone rang again almost at the same second. “Hey Ahita. Are you sure that you haven’t established any magical connection with Wim? He called me less than a minute ago… Oh, you too? Have you conspired?.. And what about Ford?.. Great. Meet you there.”“What?..” Wilford squeaked.“Like it or not, but your parents, Felix and Ford are gonna meet us at the festival, because they won’t be able even to get home beforehand,” Bene replied. “They’ve taken their costumes with them, so it shouldn’t be a problem. And now let’s get to your ones… Wilf, you first. Take off your shirt, a bit of arrangement is needed.”Wilford obediently took his shirt off, feeling uneasy – mainly because now the tangibility of his special feature was obvious. What to say, he felt most comfortably when the two nuisances (although Vitalina and Cappy always called them ‘fabulous’) protruding from his back were hidden in a backpack or disguised as decorations, like during the previous festival. Of course, that could make them sore, but Wilford remained calm.“Oh, come on, Wilf. Yours are at least functional. Look at mine.” Bene stuck one of her own wings out. Hers were small, each hardly longer than her arm, and covered in green feathers with silver shading (Felix stated that it was ‘an additional proof that she was a Slytherin’, to say nothing of her raspy nature). But Wilford would’ve changed his hot pink ones for those without saying a word… although it was not about the color. “Have you been training?”“Y-yes,” Wilford nodded, twitching his wings (some loose feathers fell onto the floor – in all they were so short that they almost imitated fur). “Are they not gonna be out this time?”“Not this time, kid. Now be so kind and fold them.” Bene fixed some kind of a frame on his torso that held the folded wings into place. “There we go, nice and reliable. Just tell me if they try to fall asleep, okay?”“How’s that?” Mandrake asked.“It means that they can stop obeying you if not enough blood gets to them,” Bene explained. “That can happen to arms and legs too… Don’t worry, Mandy, we’ll get to you a bit later. I need to check if the size is correct…” She almost pushed an open box into Wilford’s hands.This time the costume was sophisticated. Wilford’s first festival attire had mostly consisted of ordinary pieces (the only things he wasn’t used to were suspenders and a bowtie), but this time it was something special. At first he had to put on wide white pants, then something like a green robe with yellow, black and white accents, the sleeves of which were so wide that at least four more arms would’ve fitted there (in addition, there was a bell on the bottom of each sleeve for them not to fly around). This all was accompanied by a strange round hat and laceless green shoes.“It looks like a dress,” Wilford complained, now not knowing where to get his own arms: there were no pockets. The wings, on the contrary, felt comfortable: there was enough space, although the outfit wasn’t baggy. “I don’ wanna wear a dress. I’m not a girl.”“Keep still, or I’ll prick you,” Bene muttered through the pins she was holding between her teeth: she was using them to pin the outseams up. “Yeah, just a little bit smaller… It’s not a dress, Wilf, it’s a ceremonial robe. Remember, when we watched that documentary about Asian traditions? Your character is from that region.”“But I’m not… Asssssssian,” Wilford objected, although by the end of the statement he wasn’t sure about it anymore.“No, you’re not. It’s a funny thing about anime: most characters claiming to be Asian do not look correspondingly at all.” Bene finished the procedure, took Wilford by the chin and turned his head – first to the left, then to the right. “You fit almost perfectly. Your hair’s a bit too long, but that’s okay. However, your eyes are flawless. Golden brown and a bit slanting, excellent… Now take the robe off. Be careful so the pins don’t fall out.”“It looks so awesome!” Mandrake exclaimed.“You have no idea how much swearing and sweating it took,” Bene replied, placing the pinned-up robe onto the sewing machine. “In that anime the main character’s best friend always made new outfits for each of her missions. Don’t believe that she’s done it alone. So many details! On the other hand, she was from a rich family, so no wonder if she was helped… There we go. Try it on again, Wilf.”Wilford put the corrected robe on again and blushed when Bene critically examined him head to toe. She clicked her tongue (a good sign) and dug into the pile of cloth pieces:“Where have I put it?.. Here it is. Remember that training that Joseph has given you?”“Yeah,” Wilford nodded.“Your character is a very skilled martial artist and swordsman, so it would be a shame if you aren’t savvy in it, may it be just a little.” Bene finally found what she was looking for, and Wilford’s breath hitched.“Wow! A sword? A real one?”“Not quite. Try it.”The sword was a bit wider than those Wilford had seen in movies and had a large red tassel with a black huge bead hanging from its handle. It was heavy, although appeared to be made of wood at the closer look.“Plastic is cheap. Wood’s much better when it comes to decorations,” Bene commented. “It’s got metal inside, but only to make it heavier like a real one. Now try to imitate those moves that Joseph taught you… but try not to cut me or Mandy open in the process.”Knees bent a bit, arms relaxed, grip secure, Wilford reminded himself. Step one, step two, hit! Too slow. But Bene let out a lop-sided grin:“What thorough approach, Wilf… Great. Hope the scabbard won’t cause you blisters on your back.”“What’s a scabbard?” Mandrake asked.“A case for a sword,” Bene explained. “Canonically this one should be worn on the back… No worries, Mandy, I haven’t forgotten about you. You two will look great as a couple, cuz you’re gonna be the main character of that anime. And your two characters can be called a couple too, particularly because they often go on missions together.”“But you said the main character had many costumes,” Mandrake objected. “How do you know which one to choose?”“Oh, Mandy, you told me,” Bene grinned. “You can change into your regular clothes, Wilf.”“I told you?”“What is more fitting for a Fire Elemental Mage than…” Bene produced a sleeveless red top with extended waist and opening resembling fire tongues, “…an Ifrit-themed outfit? Ifrit is a fire spirit from Arabian mythology, for you to know.”Wilford chuckled to himself upon realizing that the white pants with orange flame border at the bottom – another part of Mandrake’s costume – were even wider than his. Apart from that, it included a red fire-styled hairpin and a narrow long belt with orange jewels on the tips.“Sweet. A true little Ifrit, that’s who you are… No worries, I’ve made it fireproof, just in case,” Bene went on. “Marvels of chemistry. And that will be yours.”Mandrake’s ‘weapon’ appeared to be a long pink staff with a six-point star in a circle on the top, adorned with a pair of white wings.“Wanted it to be made according to its actual size, but it would be too huge for you, Mandy, so smaller form for now.”“What’s that for? It’s not a weapon like Wilfy’s sword.”“Your character uses it to activate her powers. Here.” Bene tossed a narrow long box to her. It appeared to be full of cards – like playing cards, but much larger and all different. “There’s a little knack to them too. Just try it.”Mandrake hesitantly pulled the top card out. It depicted a little fairy in a puffy dress and the words at the bottom of the card were ‘THE GLOW’.“What do I do?” Mandrake asked.“Say its name, point at it with the stuff and watch what happens,” Bene instructed. “But before you do so, get dressed. I need to see if something gotta be corrected.”Now that was certainly something. When Mandrake changed into the new outfit, Bene’s mouth curved into a hardly seen, but genuine adoring smile, unlike her usual sarcastic or self-satisfied smirk.“Looks like I’ve done everything correctly here. Now try it, Mandy.”The girl performed the instructions, and both she and Wilford gasped, for the room immediately filled up with tiny greenish lights, much like fireflies, but intangible, like floating sun reflections.“Greeeeeeeat,” Bene commented when the lights died down. “It’s just an illusion, but it worked, huh? Mental note: thanking Suzannah for her efforts… By the way, Wilf, your characters uses somehow similar items. There you go. I prefer when things are complete.”The final ‘pieces of equipment’ given to Wilford were five mustard yellow cards with strange black patterns.“What are those?”“Those are called Jufus. Your character’s magic is mainly based on elements of nature, which are fire, lightning, water, wind and later ice. Although I have to disappoint you: those are not like Mandy’s. Merely ordinary pieces of paper.”“It’s unfair!” Mandrake interfered. “If his character has magic, then…”“I know it’s unfair, Mandy, but there’s a clear reason, and none of us is able to undo its influence. You’re a Mage, and the illusions caused by using these cards are triggered by your powers. Of course, Wilf does possess a bit of magic, because how else could his injuries heal twice as fast as normal? But he’s a Wingie, and that’s his nature. His magic is not enough to keep the illusions working.”“And what do the symbols on these… joo-foos mean?” Wilford asked.“Those are Chinese hieroglyphs. One symbol usually means one word, though more may be used.”“You mean those are like letters? But it’s impossible to read them!”“For you, little warrior mine. There are much more types of writing than you think. Some look like wondrous decorative patterns, some consist of lines and circles, and those originated from pictures.” Bene’s phone rang again, but this time she wasn’t irritated when answering. “Hello? Joe? Yeah, almost done… Right. Got it.” She hung up. “Joseph’s gonna take us to the festival tomorrow morning, as agreed, and I haven’t even finished my costume yet. Gonna do it today.”“And who will you be?” Mandrake asked.“Lady Deadpool this time.” Bene produced and outfit of mostly red and black colors. “Not gonna use the mask, it’s boring.”***Wilford could not sleep. It was not because of excitement, like on the nights before holidays. It could be compared to the night before he had met his Daddy and big sister. The unknown substance (ader-line? are-dal-line?) was making his blood practically boil, but he still was motionless on the couch, not knowing where to get himself.A faint whimper from behind the wall made him start. The first urge was standing up and finding out what was going on, but then Wilford heard rumble from Bene’s room and decided to listen.“Mandy? Why are you crying?”“N-no… no matter.”“It does matter to me. Tell me. I won’t laugh or mock you, I promise.”Some more sniffles followed.“I’m… I’m scared, Ms. Bene.”“Scared of what?”“Gonna ruin everything. Everyone will stare at me, and laugh at me, and…”“Why do you think so?”“They awways do.”“Listen up, Mandy. We’re going to a place where everyone shows what they like, and no one laughs at it. Those who laugh are not real fans.”“Fans?”“Fans are those who like something. Movies, books, videogames – all kind of that stuff. And if they are true, they always stick together.”“Even adults?”“Even adults… Hey, remember those Harry Potter movies?”“Mm-hmm.”“There was a creature called Boggart, wasn’t there?”“A ghost which turned into creepy fings.”“Yeah. So, what did the students do to shoo it away?”“Mmmmm… turned it into somefing funny. And-and laughed.”“This is it. Laughter is a very powerful thing when used correctly. Some use it to defend themselves without a need, like those who laughed at you. But you can use laughter against things you’re afraid of. Turn them into something funny and laugh. Or shout ‘Ridiculous’! In your mind, of course, otherwise someone may think you’re nuts.”Some moments of silence followed.“Ri-di-cu-lous. It’s a big word.”“It is. And… Have you ever thought why you were called Mandrake? Do you know what that means?”“N-no.”“This time it’s about the second movie. It’s a plant. A particularly ugly plant the roots of which look like babies.”“Ew.”“This plant is dangerous, for its cry is able to instantly kill the ones who hear it. But at the same time it was the essential ingredient of the potion which could bring those who were petrified back to life. Both deadly and healing, like all of us… You know, there’s a plant with the same name in the real world, and it has similar properties: a powerful painkiller and sedative, but fatal when the dose is too huge. So make sure to control your magic tomorrow, right? I’ve done everything I could from my side.”***Mandrake was squeezing Wilford’s hand while they were making their way to the ‘palace’ where the festival was going to take place (although this ‘palace’ was more of a huge house – no towers, no nothing). Wilford had chosen to walk between Bene and Mandrake because he felt that the latter still wasn’t completely trustful towards Bene, even though they were getting used to each other, and for some reason Mandrake always was slightly calmer when being around ‘her bestie’.The yard of the ‘palace’ was crowded with people – adults, teens, children – wearing all kinds of costumes: puffy dresses, space-themed clothes, seemingly everyday garments but with elements like spikes or logos, monochromatic, rainbow, dark, light – everything at once. Even though Wilford had already attended a similar event, it still felt foreign to him. Some even had wings or horns which looked amazingly realistic, so Bene had to convince Mandrake that they weren’t real. Well, almost all of them.“Your parents are already here, Wilf,” she informed after they entered. “I’m not telling you where they are. Try to find them by yourselves… By the way, Felix is here as well.”“And where will you go?” Mandrake squeaked.“I’ve got to have a small talk with Joseph.” Bene nodded at Wim’s best friend Joseph, who had driven them here. He was keeping a distance from them, feeling that they didn’t need an overload (by the way, his costume was that of a panther-themed superhero from comic books). “No worries, Mandy, I’m not going to abandon you. I just want you two to become a little more self-standing.”In a moment the two adults were gone, having left the children in the whirlwind of colors and sounds.“What are we gonna do?” Mandrake asked, voice trembling. No panic, Wilford reminded himself and scratched his head (the cap fell over his eyes for a moment).“Going around is not gonna work… Hey, Drakey, have you looked through those cards of yours?”“Not all of them.”“So, there may be one related to searching. Like Mama’s searching magic!”“But those are not the real cards,” Mandrake objected. “Just illusions.”“Yeah, but it’s still magic. C’mon, let’s try it!”Having found a relatively free place under one of the walls, Mandrake produced the cards from the bag hanging on her belt and began sorting them.“The cards, the cards, the cards will tell the past, the present and the future as well,” Wilford hummed. “The cards, the cards, just take three, take a little trip into your future with me!.. Is there one, Drakey?”“N-no.” Mandrake stacked the cards again. “There’s even a card called Nothing, but… no searching, no finding, no things like that.”Wilford decided to check it by himself. Indeed, the deck did not contain anything related to searching, but one card in particular attracted his attention – the one titled THE FIREY.“Hey Drakey, I think this one’s yours. Let’s try it.”“I can’t. What if my magic goes out of control?”“This one is an illusion, remember? Sure it will be cool. Aunt Benny likes risk, but she’d never put anyone in danger on purpose. Otherwise she wouldn’t have given these cards to you.”“You sure?”“I am.”Mandrake clutched her stuff so that her knuckles turned white. Having stood like that for a couple of moments, she blinked, having recalled something else:“What if someone sees?”“Trust me, Drakey, nobody’s looking. And if they see, it’ll be only cooler. It’s a whole world of aliens, wizards and everything in between.”“Who said so?”“Daddy.”“Mm-kay… Firey!”The next second both Wilford and Mandrake flopped on their butts, for the effect of this card was nothing like that of the Glow one. A bird-like figure dashed seemingly out of the card and circled the yard, leaving a trail of golden sparkles that slowly descended like snowflakes. Those sparkles were ethereal, for when Wilford attempted to gather some in his hand, they went right through it, having left a light tickling feeling.“Told you,” he whispered, for the world had stopped while the imitation of the Firey card dissolved in the air: everyone had been staring at it (no wonder), and now the visitors must’ve begun discussing the possible reason of such sudden special effect. “Cool flash! Do that again, Drakey!.. Drakey?”Something was very wrong with Mandrake: as if she forgot how to breathe. Or maybe her lungs shrunk all of a sudden? Wilford didn’t want to know. One thing for sure: she was gasping for air, unable to take in enough at one go. His joy was gone, replaced with almost dread. No. No time for being afraid, Wilford told himself, recalling Bene’s and Mandrake’s night talk. Think, think fast, think faster… Wait! There had been a similar case when Mandrake couldn’t breathe, and Felix had calmed her down with… with what? All thought flown out of his head, Wilford gave Mandrake a clumsy hug, one hand between her shoulder-blades, the other on the back of her head.“Shush,” he muttered, adjusting his hold not to make breathing even harder for Mandrake. “It’s okay, it’s okay… my bestie…”Mandrake’s arms slowly circled Wilford, moving as if they were wooden.“All eyes on me,” she mumbled. Speaking. Speaking is good.“All eyes on Firey,” Wilford objected. “Everyone’s okay. Nobody’s hurt.”“Really?”“Yes.”The ‘wooden’ impression started fading, but returned when a new voice spoke just over them:“Awwww! How touching! And I mean it!”“Uncle Felix!” Wilford exclaimed, rising his head. Felix beamed, the corners of his wide mouth almost reaching his ears, and patted him on the cheek:“I knew you’re smart, little man. Yes, MD, just like that, breathe… right.”“But we always breathe. Why couldn’t she now?” Wilford asked, letting Mandrake relax at last.“Guess MD got overwhelmed with so much impression,” Felix explained. Only now Wilford had a proper look at him: he was dressed in a medieval-styled outfit with green jacket and a tool belt, and his golden brown webbed wings, as well as horns circling his head (for he was a Dragon Wingie), were out.“Erm… who’s the character you chose?” the boy wondered.“Nestor from Spyro the Dragon game,” Felix replied. “His wing color matches mine quite well, and in all I was tired of wearing the protagonist’s costume all the time… Actually, this character is believed to be a carpenter, but I’ve got another tool. That’s what I was going to say: you may be weighted down, but I know how to make it lighter.” He produced a violin from the bag hanging on his shoulder and tested its sound, having moved the bow over the strings. “What was it there? Ah, got it.”He began playing a lively tune, having made Mandrake tear her face off Wilford’s shoulder.“Mr. Felix? What is this music?”“The musical theme of your characters,” Felix explained, not interrupting his playing. “Feeling better, MD?” Mandrake nodded. “Awesome! Let’s go give those cosplayers a bit of shock, shall we?.. Ford! Where have you stuck? The impressions are gonna be nothing without you!”The next one who joined them was Stanford Maxwell, aka Ford, the main peace-maker of the gang. He belonged to the Owl Wingie type and in addition was kind of a mutant: his wings were doubled in joints, so it always seemed that he had four instead of two. However, they were not out, securely hidden in a giant backpack, which oddly fitted his costume made almost in the same fashion with Felix’s. And, surprisingly, he wasn’t wearing any shoes.“I believe that Felix didn’t want to give Mandrake additional pushing,” Ford mused, setting his glasses. “That was clever of you, Wilf.”“Th-thank you,” Wilford stuttered. “Why are you barefooted, Uncle Ford?”“Call me Bilbo Baggins. Hobbits don’t wear shoes,” Ford grinned.“But Ms. Bene said that you… were gonna be… Mr. Pines from Gravy Force.” Mandrake’s voice was wheezing, but her breathing generally evened out.“Yes,” Ford nodded. “But I had to select this option because…” he checked if no one was listening, “I’m molting.”“Molting?” Mandrake parroted.“Losing feathers in order for the new ones to grow,” Ford clarified. “If I wore a coat, I would’ve left a trail of them… Bene will be in heaven. She has been complaining that there are not enough feathers for her new project. I’ll gladly share mine with her.”He produced a silver flute from the inner pocket of his dark vinous jacket, which made Wilford recall something.“But you… Mama told me that you have sick lungs and can’t breathe well.”“This is why I’ve taken up flute lessons,” Ford nodded. “I want my lungs to be stronger… Wait up, Felix! I’m coming!”“Can you help me find Mama and Daddy?” Wilford hoped that Ford would not object. And the adult did not, although his answer was unclear.“I can give you a hint. Why do you think Bene chose to make herself the Lady Deadpool costume? She purchased too much red and black fabric. That’s all I can say.”Red and black. Red and black. What characters wear red and black? Wilford looked around. Black was one of the dominating colors of the outfits of the surrounding people, but much less red spots were seen. Good.Having not found anybody else familiar in the yard, Wilford and Mandrake decided to search inside the building. And they almost immediately bumped into a duet in black and… not red, but orange. Nevertheless the color difference did not reduce the joy, for those were Wilford’s older sisters – his birth sister Vitalina and the foster one Cappy. The strangest thing about those two was that they looked almost the same age, even though Cappy was actually much older. But that was where the similarities ended.Vitalina and Cappy were polar opposites of each other in many issues. Vitalina was an Ord in terms of Triway, the world of her and Wilford’s mother: that meant she was an ordinary human being deprived of conscious magic. But she thought that was even better, stating that ‘she felt confident without anything extra’. And Cappy was something extraordinary even for Triway: she was a Double-Blade, possessing both wings and magic. Such beings were considered dangerous because of poor self-control, therefore they usually were surgically converted into Wingies (mostly) soon after birth. For instance, Ford was born a Double-Blade, but now all that reminded of a fact that he used to have a magical core was a tiny scar in the middle of his forehead, right over the nose bridge. And no one knew where Cappy had come from: she had been kept in a lab on Earth, but now Wilford’s and Vitalina’s parents treated her as their child. As about magic, she rarely used it – for special occasions only, because her main ability was not of those that should be used every day.Bene must’ve spent lots of time making their costumes, Wilford thought. Cappy was dressed in a black crop top with white puffy sleeves, black shorts and high boots, and her right wing was dyed black, while the left one remained white. In addition, her naturally snow-white hair was dyed blue (must be temporary dye, Wilford thought: he remembered how Bene had once dyed his hair pink ‘for the image’) and put in two pigtails kept together with bows. Vitalina’s costume consisted of a long orange coat, huge boots of the same color and a pirate tricorn, and in addition she was carrying a highly realistic anchor (a little bit smaller than herself).“Sweet Cardcaptors,” Vitalina grinned upon the sight of the smaller duo. “It was your deed, huh, Mandrake? That firework thingamagig?”Mandrake nodded, becoming dangerously pale again, so Wilford came a bit closer to her to ensure nothing wrong would happen.“Not gonna lie, it was awesome!” Cappy added.“Erm… Cappy… anyone knows dat… da wings… yours and of Mr. Felix…” The words were coming out in pieces, as if Mandrake did not know if it was polite to ask about such things.“No worries. Nobody guessed,” Cappy replied. “Can’t you see how many wing possessors there are? Some artificial ones look even better than mine, so there’s no reason to be anxious about it.” She examined her exposed flat belly. “But I still feel funny about this…”“You’ll get used to it, sis. I was asked if this is real… Step aside, you two!” Vitalina flung the anchor in the air, having almost knocked the hat off Wilford’s head in the process. “Cool, hey? Plastic on the outside and stuffed with cotton wool on the inside. Guess paint did the trick.”“Have you seen Mama and Daddy, Vee?”“They’re right over there,” Vitalina replied, gesturing to the side. “Enjoying the attention.”She didn’t need to say it twice, for Wilford darted in the indicated direction before she could finish. He recognized Ahita, his and Vitalina’s mother, right away even though he wasn’t expecting to see her in such image: this time she was dressed in a skin-tight red catsuit with black polka-dots, and her black prickly hair was put into two pigtails.“Wilf? Wow, Bene sure did a number on you!” Ahita leaned down to give the kid a hug.“Yeah,” Wilford genuinely replied. “Drakey, c’mere!.. Are you alright, Mama? Aunt Benny told me dat you were tired.”“I’m thankful that it’s all over, Wilf. Sure Wim… I mean Daddy feels the same. Right?”Wilford froze upon the sight of the man she addressed, for he doubted that the man in a black outfit with cat ears on the head and a tail made out of a long belt was his Daddy. This man was tall, just like Daddy, and had unruly hair bouncing over his ears and forehead, but it was straw-colored, not dusty brown like Daddy’s. Besides, Wilford knew for sure that Daddy had funny brush-like moustache and bristle all over his cheeks and chin, and this man’s face was smooth. Totally smooth. And what kind of people has such cat-like eyes? They were green, like Daddy’s, but with slit, not round pupils.“No,” Wilford shook his head. “Where’s Daddy?”“I’m right here, Wilfy,” the man replied, approaching to them. However, he backed away when the boy took the sword out.“Dat not Daddy,” Wilford insisted, keeping away from the blond lookalike of his father. “Daddy’s not blond, and he has hair on his face… and no cat eyes.”“Oh, Wilfy, Wilfy, Wilfy,” the lookalike sighed with a small smile. “My hair was temporarily dyed by Bene before I left, and I shaved. It will grow back, don’t worry… Frankly, I feel odd without my facial hair. And as about eyes, those are just lenses. They can be removed.”“Say something that only my Daddy knows,” Wilford replied. “Or I will stab you!”“You’re quite stabby by yourself… I met you when you were three. But you were wary of me until I had a surgery right here,” the lookalike pointed at his left eye. “There was a mass inside, so it was removed, but I had to walk around blindfolded. Would’ve bumped into everything if it weren’t for you.”Wilford hesitated. That was the truth, but he still wasn’t entirely sure.“And your name is a combo of mine and your mother’s best friend. Wim and Stanford. Wim and Ford. Wilford… okay, almost.” Another sigh. “Vitalina Faith Ace Realtoning and Wilford Stanley Ace Realtoning. Royal combos, right? OOF!”The last was caused by Wilford bumping into him and hugging his waist, for the boy recognized the ‘royal combos’ as the phrase that only his father used when it came to his and his older sister’s full names.“…gonna be fun, MD. See that Darth Vader over there? Now watch!”Wilford immediately turned around to see what Felix and Ford were up to. They were playing a marching tune (the Imperial March, as far as the boy remembered) to a person clad in black and in a strange helmet. Some of the spectators laughed at this sight, some stopped to listen, but attention was not enough. Felix abruptly stopped playing, thumbed his nose to ‘Darth Vader’ (most of the beholders cracked up) and went on as if nothing happened. Even Mandrake giggled at this sight.“Okay, let them have fun,” Ahita summed up. “Let’s get to some comic books, right?”But the way to the comic books appeared to have obstacles – those which were hidden. Or not showing themselves for a while.“Well, well, well, look who’s here! If it isn’t Ahita Realtoning! Long time no see!”This was said in two voices, and Ahita’s face scrunched at them. She forced herself to turn around and saw two tall persons – a man and a woman, both dark-haired and with reddish brown eyes. Their aristocratic beauty and the fact that they were practically copies of each other caught the eye immediately, although their outfits were of different fashion: the woman was wearing an old-fashioned indigo and purple dress complete with a hat and an umbrella (the darker version of Mary Poppins, Ahita thought to herself), and the man’s outfit was black with silver accents and more like that of a classic sci-fi villain, although at the same time it somehow resembled a business suit.“Anthony and Anla Dulocq,” Ahita replied. “Something double this way comes.”“Those are us.” The Dulocq twins nodded. At least they’re not having those rubbish Duel Mage hairstyles, Ahita thought to herself: Anthony’s hair was smoothly combed backwards, while Anla’s was put together in a puffy bun. The foreheads of both were completely exposed, showing the magical cores. “Ooh, you’ve got a total gang here! Why didn’t you all dress up as the characters from the same fandom?”“It would be boring,” Ahita stated, and it was true. “What are you two doing here in this world?”“We got interested in this one after that quest you got us into, remember?” Anla asked. “Anyway, we just decided to have some fun. Juuuuuuust right. You’re superheroes, and we’re supervillains. Or more like one supervillain. I’m Missy and Anthony’s the Master.”“And we also sensed some seriously powerful magic,” Anthony caught up. “Looks like it comes from THIS little missy.” He gazed at Mandrake, who clutched her stuff with both hands. “My my, looks like somebody’s scared flameless.”“I’m not scared!” Mandrake shot out.“Leave Drakey alone, she doesn’t want all that!” Wilford put in, taking a battle pose with the sword at the ready, although he felt myriads of shivers go down his spine after Anthony’s gaze was turned to him. It took the boy all his will to make himself stay in place, and the adult understood it.“And this is respectable. A desire to protect a friend even if the chances are low… I recognize it. Don’t tell me this is your son, Ahita.” Anthony’s eyes roamed both over Mandrake and Wilford. “Definitely…”“Anyway, we see that there’s a problem,” Anla interfered. “You seem to be the only Mage in your gang who is able to contain and make proper use of your magic, but you cannot contain this girl’s magic. It’s not only because it’s extremely powerful…”“Gets to the bone,” Anthony interrupted.“…but also because it’s of a completely different kind. Your Searching magic is nothing like our Dueling or her… what is it?.. Elemental.”“Wait a second. You’re stating that you’re able to help contain Mandrake’s magic?” Ahita clarified. “What’s your deal?”The twins let out similar sarcastic laughs, and Anla explained:“Can you imagine what it’s like when your own magic is on average level, but it grows multiple times when combined with your twin’s? You gotta learn to use it very carefully and having mind that a little bit stronger, and it could’ve been BAD!”“But first we wanna make sure that you deserve it,” Anthony added. “I see you’ve got a very precious someone. A Double-Blade, a legitimate Double-Blade!” He advanced to Cappy, who frowned at his sight: she had a habit of being suspicious towards tall people (except for those whom she knew well). “Both wings and magic. Are you able to contain it? Welp, if we are impressed with what it is able to do, then worry not. We’ll teach the little firestarter contain herself.”“Give us a moment,” Ahita sighed. Her first urge was replying with a determined ‘no’, but then her reasonable part stuck in: indeed, Anthony and Anla were more experienced in Dueling magic, which had similarities to Fire Elemental power. Therefore, they could help, and in addition Ahita knew that they never broke their promises (despite being quite ill-tempered). “We haven’t asked Mandrake yet.”Mandrake was visibly fighting herself as well. The Dulocqs weren’t the best when it came to first impressions…“Listen up, MD.” Felix, who was watching the scene as well (in an unnoticeable manner, as only he could), decided to take the possible blow upon himself. “I know these two are jerks and a half, but they’re really savvy in magic. I’ve seen the proofs as well as Ahita. Besides, they are right. They know what being too powerful is like, and they can teach you… but only if you agree.”“I’ll come wif you,” Wilford cut off, producing the sword. “Won’ let anybody hurt you.”Anthony let out another sarcastic chuckle:“Totally Ahita’s offspring, right, Anla? Stubborn and devoted, just like her.” He crouched next to the boy and gazed into his eyes. Wilford stared back: he decided that looking away would be equal to losing. “Wait. I sense a tiny bit of magic inside you, little James Potter. It’s barely felt, but it’s there…”Wilford’s wings reminded about themselves right on time: the boy realized they got sore from being kept in place for so long. Anthony’s eyes flicked to the side for a moment, and he smirked.“Okay. If you want to be by the side of your fire-headed friend, then let it be so.” He stood up. “Well?”“If you teach me so that no one’s hurt, then I agree,” Mandrake nodded. “But if you hurt Wilfy or someone else, it won’t do.”“I swear that no one will get hurt on purpose,” Anla said. “And the Dulocq twins never break their oaths… Time to fulfill yours.”Ahita turned to Cappy, who beamed, to her surprise:“I know what to do, but only if you help me, daddy Wim.”“What do you have in mind?”“What Chat Noir can do that you can’t?”“Emm… rope-walking, acrobatic tricks, high jumping…”“This is it. If you let me, I’ll try to give you these abilities so you can impress those nasty twins…” Cappy’s smile faded, and she chewed on her bottom lip. “I mean… if you trust me… I promise I’ll do my best not to hurt you…”“Cappy, I do realize that your intentions are the best possible.” Wim crouched in front of her and took her by the shoulders. “But do you remember the key factor of your magic?”“Wishing,” Cappy nodded.“Others’ wishing,” Wim clarified. “I wish to help Mandrake gain control over her powers. Therefore, I wish to impress those who can take care of it. Therefore… power me up, Cappy!”“Are you crazy?!” Ahita shot out.“The craziest things I’ve ever done are right here,” Wim calmly responded. “Their names are Vitalina and Wilford.”The named siblings exchanged glances, and Vitalina spoke for both:“Just be careful, Daddy.”***Wim let out a long exhale, concentrating on the logical chain in his mind. Helping Mandrake – impressing the twins – getting temporary powers from Cappy. Sincerely. Becoming Chat Noir for a short time. Who doesn’t want to become a superhero?.. Mandrake, twins, Cappy. Mandrake, twins, Cappy. Once again.At first the familiar sensation of being watched returned: Wim felt like this when someone was watching him paint. However, this time the sensation was much stronger. But then another impression started growing inside. Confidence? Trust? Will power? Stubbornness? Wim didn’t know its name, but decided to wait a bit longer for it to push the first one away.Just one more moment. One more, before it gets too high.“Will-I-Am,” Wim mouthed and dashed off.***Wilford knew that his father was capable of many awesome things, but this was something entirely new. Usually Wim was calm, cool and collected, but this time… At first he behaved as he always did before starting some important actions: stood still for some seconds, eyes closed, breathing even. Then it started. Wilford had seen the performance by gymnasts and circus performers, but that was nothing like those. First, a couple of front flips at an almost impossible speed. Then a jump – a jump higher than any human legs can ensure, as if there were springs hidden on the soles of Wim’s shoes. He landed on the wall, much like the spider-themed superhero that Vitalina was fond of. One more jump, landing on the hands and staying in such position.Naturally, the sight attracted even more spectators than Felix’s and Ford’s performances. Wilford tore his eyes off the ‘scene’ and concentrated on those who were watching. Most of them were awestruck or captivated with the sight, but some were not. Ford, Ahita and Mandrake were so tense that the air seemed to be electrified around them, Vitalina was anxious, Felix was gnawing on his bottom lip, threatening to bite it through, Bene (she appeared to be around as well) was pretending to be bored, but her eyebrows knitted together gave out that she was on edge, and the Dulocq twins were exchanging glances and sneering to themselves. And Cappy’s face was not expressing emotions – it was expressing pain, although she was doing her best to hide it.Finally Wim performed a classic superhero landing, having made the audience explode with cheering. Wilford and Vitalina rushed over to Cappy right on time not to let her drop onto the floor, and along the way he heard Felix whisper to Mandrake:“Release the Firey and Watery cards together. It’ll make a decent ending, telling ya!.. No worries, MD, I’ll ask JoJo to take care of Cappy. He’s much better at it than all of us.”***Bene said that there were other ideas. Which? She called them boring. Why so?.. And indeed, why didn’t she choose characters from the same universe?.. What am I even thinking about?..Thump. Thump. Thump.Wilford jumped up and began instinctively feeling around for something to use as a weapon. It was worse than the night before: his eyes were closing, but his brain was behaving like an insane cinema projector, making random images (most ‘recorded’ during the day) pop up in his mind at a furious pace.A tall tow-topped person walked by the open door of his room. Wait. There were no tow-tops in their family. Maybe Cappy could be counted as one, but she was an albino, not a tow-top, and her hair was much longer… Wilford tip-toed after the stranger, having not managed to think of anything cleverer than grabbing a mop along the way.The stranger appeared to not have any sinister intentions. He proceeded to the balcony and stood there, leaning on the railing. Then why did he come?“Wilfy? Is that you?”And then it dawned on the boy that it wasn’t a stranger. He had completely forgotten that the blond hair was temporary.“I thought someone broke in, Daddy,” he mumbled, holding the mop in front of himself like a shield. Wim chuckled.“Hah, I’m still not used to being blond. Thank goodness it’s not forever.”“What about your ‘stache?”“Facial hair will grow back in no time. Just a few days, and your dad will be a brush-kisser again.”“Brush-kisser?”“That’s what your mother says.”Wilford didn’t know if he should be disgusted or laugh. The only sensible decision here was putting the mop in the corner and approaching closer, and he did so.“If you still don’t believe me, I can tell you something else. You spent the first three years of your life on the planet Triway with your mother, and you were very wary of me when you came here to Earth. Wary but brave. Nice combo.”The boy kept quiet, for meeting his father was one of the first bright memories he had. The reflections of everything that had taken place before were blurry.“The music boxes were reminders,” Wim went on. “Cappy made them and charmed them so that if one of them was winded up, the other would play too. It was our way to tell each other that we remembered. Saying ‘I miss you’ or something.”“Music boxes?” That was new. Wilford didn’t say anything else, but Wim understood.“Wait here.” He quickly returned, carrying a tiny box made of dark wood, which had a metal handle on its side. When he winded it up, the handle started turning by itself, followed by a slow calming melody. Wilford had never seen anything like it, so he carefully opened the box to reveal the mechanism inside. But that was not the most surprising fact for him.“But… where are the words, Daddy? There should be words.”“Not all music has words. Classic music does not… mostly… but you’re right, this one has words. This tune is called Jump Up, Super Star… Heh. Do you know that I named Cappy after one of the characters of the game it’s from?”“Really? Why?”“That character is a half-ghost, half-hat, and he’s white with pinkish red eyes, like our favourite albino. And he is also able to fly and possesses some magic.”“Yeah, just like our Cappy… So, what are the words?”“I don’t remember them exactly, but there’s another version. Ford wrote other lyrics for this very part. He thought they would be more fitting for us.”“Sing.”“I’m not the best singer in the world, Wilfy, and no singer at all…”“Sing, please,” Wilford insisted.“Alright,” Wim sighed and scooped the boy up. “I’ll do my best.”Wilford didn’t care if his father was ‘no singer’. The squeaky voices of ‘real’ singers always made him want to shut them down. And Wim’s voice was quiet and a bit nasal, but who was there to judge?“It’s time to snuggle up in bed,Lay down your little headAs all your worries slowly melt away,It’s time for bed, my superstar,Tomorrow isn’t so far,Sleep soundly until the day.I’ll be there in your dreams,Smiling and at ease,The stars are shining now, can’t you see?I know you’re sad, my superstar,You thought I’d make it this far,But soon you will come,We’ll frolic in the sunAfter the Odyssey.”“You sure that Ford wrote this?” Wilford muttered, clutching the front of Wim’s pajamas shirt with his fist. “Cuz I fink you did.”“Of course it was Ford. He has a nice way with words. Besides, he is… he’s great at understanding even when it comes to someone that doesn’t like showing feelings.”Wilford let out a little gasp when Wim’s palm moved to his upper back, right to the place where the boy’s wings met it. It was ‘the spot of trust’, as Ford and Felix referred to it, for there was a special trust gesture for Wingies – it was the permission to touch this very spot. Its meaning was ‘I know that you won’t rip my wings out’. And Wilford knew his father would never do so.“Daddy?”“Hm?”“Thanks.”“For what?”“Drakey. Those twins are mean, but if dey teach her to control her magic, she won’ be so scared anymore.”“I’m sure she won’t be scared if you are by her side.”“Really? But I… I don’t have any magic.”“You do. It’s hidden. But hidden magic may be even stronger than the visible kind of it… Let’s think about it tomorrow, my superstar.”
Please Find Me“Ow,” Wilford muttered, rubbing the back of his head. “Owwww,” he repeated when it responded with dull pain. What was going on? Where was everybody? And, most importantly, where was he? It was quiet here. No wind, no leaf rustling, no rocks falling… Wilford’s heart jumped into his throat when he realized he couldn’t open his eyes. The eyelid edges were stuck together, and in addition his eyes were covered with some kind of cloth. A blindfold? And Wilford quickly understood why: the skin of the upper half of his face exploded with pain when he tried to take the blindfold off.Wilford sat on the floor, feeling the surface under him. Smooth wooden floor, cool to the touch – it was a pleasure for his wings to touch it… Wait a second. Wings? Wilford remembered that they had been securely tucked under his jacket all day long. So why were they out now? He touched his torso and realized he was wearing his tee only, while the jacket was gone. The first urge was flopping onto the floor and bawling. Yes, Wilford knew mild fear – for instance, when he had had to meet his father and big sister for the first time. But this time it was something else. Something like a black hole, like in a clever book with pretty pictures that Ford had shown him… What did Mama always say? Weeping won’t get you anywhere. Try and do something, Wilford reminded himself. Besides, weeping would’ve made things even worse. Hurt even more and maybe attract someone… someone who wouldn’t like it. Another problem arose when Wilford attempted to stand up. His legs would not hold him. No, not like that: the left leg obeyed him just fine, while the right leg, wrapped in bandages, was pulsing with dull aching feeling. Wilford almost fell over after the first couple of steps. In addition, his left ankle appeared to be swollen and hard as stone, although he could not feel any wounds on it.Wilford began slowly crawling around, moving one hand in front of him in order not to bump into anything. It seemed to be someone’s room. A chest of drawers, a bed, some chairs…“Oh, you’re awake? Careful there!”***The feeling of unreality was not leaving Joshlynn. Only now, when she saw the proof crawling around in attempts to understand where he was, it began dawning on her. The memory of seeing this child tumble down the mountain face was so blurry that the impression was as if she had seen it in news or documentary instead of reality. It was a miracle that he hadn’t broken anything. But not only that.The boy was about five years old. And he was going to grow into a handsome man, Joshlynn thought, for he had incredibly thick dark hair bouncing over his forehead and sticking to the sides. Not only that, his face features – those that were visible now – were proportional and thin, including small turned-up nose, sharply contoured lips and reasonably-sized chin. But his most prominent feature was his wings. Joshlynn had revealed them after having brought the unconscious child home. They had been hidden under his jacket (no wonder), so Joshlynn had thought them to be a weird lump, but now they were sprawled over the floor, poking through the previously cut holes in the boy’s tee. The wings were quite short, like that of a bird of prey – a hawk or a falcon – and pink. No, not just pink. Eye-watering pink, like neon signs.“Oh, you’re awake? Careful there!” Joshlynn exclaimed, attempting not to let her worry out.The boy froze, turning his head to the source of the sound. Then he backed away.“No, no, don’t run from me. I mean no harm. I want to have a look at you,” Joshlynn hastily went on.“Mama says I not s’posed to talk to strangers,” the child babbled, but stopped.“Okay,” Joshlynn instinctively nodded. “Then let’s fix this. My name is Joshie, and what’s yours?”“But you sound like a girl,” the boy mused, nibbling on the nail of his thumb. “And Josh is a boy’s name.”“It’s Joshlynn. Like Josh and Lynn together. My daddy thought of it.”The child seemed to relax a little at this statement.“My Mama did it too,” he stated. “She says she named me after my daddy and her bestie.”“Really?”“Yes. My name is Wilford. Mama says it’s the best name dat sounds like Wim and Ford together.” “Wilford…” Joshlynn hummed. “Wilford. You’ve had a nasty fall, Wilford. Let me check your condition, okay?”“Why can’t I see anything?” Wilford asked, reaching to touch his face.“No-no, don’t touch. You’ve got a burn there.”“A burn?”“Yes. I’ve applied some ointment to it, but not only that. There’s a huge gash on your right leg, and the left one… Have you remember being stung by insects?”“Ye-es,” Wilford nodded slowly. “Wee little ones in the grass.”“Even worse,” Joshlynn sighed. “Looks like you’re allergic to insects’ venom.”“What does dat mean?”“It means your body is extra sensitive to it. Allow me have a look, okay?”Wilford gnawed on his thumb:“No one saw me? I mean…” he fluttered his wings. “You won’ tell anybody?”“I will never. And I promise I’ll help you find your parents.”“Really?”“Really-really. Now sit still.” Joshlynn removed the blindfold from Wilford’s face, and it instinctively scrunched at the light hitting against the closed eyelids. Let’s see… The boy’s lashes and brows were burnt at the tips, but in all managed to stay fine, as well as the bangs over his forehead. However, the burn was enough to make him keep his eyes closed all the time (keeping them open would’ve been painful, and it seems he couldn’t open them at all). “Do you remember what happened? It seems like a fire burn.”Wilford shook his head:“I remember fire in my face. Am I gonna stay blind?”“Of course not. Your eyes are solid, the skin just needs to heal. Stay.” Joshlynn rubbed Wilford’s face clean with a tissue and applied a new portion of ointment, attempting not to get any between his eyelids.“My daddy was blinded too once,” Wilford informed. “There was a lump under his eye, and the doctor had to remove it. I helped him walk around, because he had a blindfold.”“I’m sure you did.” Joshlynn put a fresh blindfold on him and switched to his right leg. The sight that opened after the bandages were removed was horrid: most probably, Wilford had impaled his ankle on a sharp rock while falling, for a long stripe of skin was literally torn off the leg. It had already stopped bleeding, but was swollen and was almost visibly throbbing.“Hurts,” Wilford complained when Joshlynn set off to treating it.“I’m sorry, but I can’t make the pain go away. All we can do here is waiting till it heals.”“And what about those insect bites?”“Insects don’t bite, they sting. The main thing here is making sure it doesn’t get worse.”After the treatment was complete, Wilford curled up in a ball, hugging his knees.“Are you scared?” he asked in a very small voice.“Why should I be?” That was true. Joshlynn was worried, but not scared. “I mean… in movies… don’ wanna be experi-maned on.”“We’re not in a movie, Wilford. And do you know what I see? I see a child who fell off a cliff and needs help. Perhaps I’m a naïve fool, but I feel that I gotta help you. Now… you must be hungry, right?”***At night it got worse, although during the day Wilford was feeling almost natural. Joshie seemed to be nice, for he could not hear any false notes in her voice. And her actions? His right leg did not hurt anymore thanks to her. And she fed him as well. Wilford was supine on some soft surface (by feel it was a couch), wondering. It had not been Mandrake’s fault. She had been scared because… because of a beetle? A huge rainbow bug that had flown out of the grass right in front of her. Wilford remembered that. Searching magic. Surely Mama would use it to find him, right?“Please find me, Mama,” Wilford quietly called out.***It took several days before Wilford finally told Joshlynn about the origin of his extra limbs.“There’s another world,” he stated while she was dressing his gash. “It is like this, but there are three kinds of people. Ones like you, then Wingies and Mages. My Mama is from there. She’s a Mage.”“And what about your Daddy?”“He’s from here. Now we all live here… My big sister is like you. No magic, no wings. But I’m like this… Mama says it because people in her world got so mixed up dat it impossible to know who’s gonna be born next time.”Joshlynn decided that if it was true, then Wilford must have inherited some magic as well, for his burn was healing truly marvelously: the skin was restoring its original condition, and it seemed unlikely that the scar would remain. However, the swollen tracks of stings were not going to heal any time soon, as well as the gash.After having gotten some soup into Wilford, she set off to search. Big Brother is watching you, she thought, typing the search request. Right… In some minutes she did find a social network profile of a man named Wim Ace. Most of the photos contained there showed various graffiti pictures (and most decent, Joshlynn admitted – from Marvel superheroes to fictional crests), but there was at least one picture of the author. Joshlynn beamed, for the man in a paint-stained hoodie was an adult copy of Wilford: his thick bouncy hair, although a bit lighter, was even laying in the same fashion as the child’s, and the face shape was almost the same, if not to count his longer nose. Joshlynn wondered if Wilford’s eyes were as wide open and attentive as this man’s… Having searched more, she found a family picture and made sure this was the right choice. Wilford was present at it as well, along with a black-topped girl with sharp face features – a hybrid version of Wim and a woman with short black spiky hair and pale skin accompanying them. Right, now about the message… God help me, Joshlynn instinctively prayed.“Greetings. My name is Joshlynn Yates. I have found your son Wilford.”***Wilford lost track of time – being blinded did have its side effects – but he was sure that more than a week passed before he attempted to finally open his eyes. The thin crust covering the upper half of his face had fallen off, so now where was a chance.“No-no-no! It’s too early.”“But I’m tired of not seeing anything!” Wilford complained. The worst thing was feeling helpless: Joshie helped him, for instance, when it came to bathroom procedures, and Wilford understood her intentions, but it still was hardly bearable. “Trust me, I know. I’m a nurse. If you try to force the sickness go away, it may get even worse, so stay patient.”“I’m trying,” Wilford grumbled and jumped when the doorbell rang. Now that was new.***The man standing in the doorway was Wim Ace. No doubt, it was him, but Joshlynn remembered the rules of verification very well.“Hello. Are you Joshlynn Yates? I’m here to collect my son Wilford,” the man stated.“Describe him,” Joshlynn firmly stated.“Five years old, dark floppy hair, golden brown eyes, no freckles or anything,” the man replied clearly. “Worn denim shorts with frayed edges, black belt with holes all over it, red tee, dark blue jacket with a hood, light blue trainers with white stripes… and grey socks.”“Right,” Joshlynn nodded, astonished at the exact description: as if he was describing a photo right in front of him. “But what is the most special feature of your son?”The man sighed and lowered his voice:“Wings. Hot pink. Short. Peregrine falcon.”“Exactly,” Joshlynn nodded and thought to herself that she was right: those were the falcon wings. “Come in, Mr. Ace.”***Wilford tensed at the sound of four feet against the floor. The next moment the sickeningly familiar mix of smells of spray paint, hibiscus tea and something warm and spicy hit his nostrils, and he almost jumped up, but blasted legs still did not obey him so well. However, his anxiousness did not last long, for two strong arms clad in long soft sleeves scooped him up, and countless careful kisses were pressed into the undamaged parts of his face and hair.“Wilfy, Wilfy, what happened, Wilfy, are you okay, of course you’re not, you’ve got horrible swelling on your leg, oh god…”“Da-Daddy,” Wilford mumbled, clinging to his father for dear life. “J-Joshie says I’m gonna be okay soon…”“I can’t express how thankful I am to you, Ms. Yates.” This was said in a more even voice, unlike the previous frantic muttering. “Not everybody would take care of my son just like that.”“Doctors say that it doesn’t matter who is treated,” Joshie replied. “Their deed is treating, not judging. And I agree, even though I’m a mere nurse.” “I know one thing: you’re a very good person, Ms. Yates. Now where’s your jacket, Wilfy? Let’s go home.”***Wilford remembered the rest of the day very faintly, as if he was dreaming. He remembered the less expressive, but not less loving embrace of his Mama – she was far not as emotional as Daddy. Then their conversation in the car. Then… then the faint voices of Felix and Bene. They were talking to Mandrake, who was on the verge of… of crying? Why didn’t they let her come? Or maybe?.. Then Vitalina. And Cappy. Those two almost tackled him from both sides until Daddy told them to ‘be gentle’.Only deep at night Wilford finally heard the clear voices.“…lucky.”“Yeah. For the first time I’m grateful that you created that page.”“You should be grateful that our son is alive and well. And, according to Ms. Yates, he’s healing extremely fast.”“I hope it goes on like that. I’m not a healer, so I can’t make sure it does.”“But still it’s not only due to the page. Your magic worked as well.”“When I was a kid, I thought searching for things was the most useless kind of magic. Now I admit that it may come in handy.”“May?”“Okay, can.”The next day Mama’s hopes came true: Wilford’s eyes finally opened. The crust over the burnt place peeled off by itself, and his eyelids moved up, but not for long. The boy squinted, getting used to the lit-up world again. When his sight became crystal clear again, he examined his legs and felt sick, having seen his left ankle which was almost one-and-a-half time thicker than normal, and brownish purple on the back in addition. His right ankle was wrapped in bandages, and Wilford decided not to think what was hidden underneath.“Are you sure that your sight is the same as it was before?”“I can see everything, Daddy,” Wilford repeated. “When will my legs heal?”“JoJo is going to come today. He’ll examine you and then give an answer,” Mama replied.But JoJo was not the only guest arriving today. Felix and Bene came earlier. Mandrake was with them as well, although she was so nervous that the air was tingling around her.“I did it, Wilfy!” she exploded after spotting him. “I burnt you! I made you fall! What if you died? What if…”“Listen up, Mandrake: Wilford is safe and… almost well, but there’s nothing that would damage him forever.” Most of the adults left the room, understanding that Felix was the only one to whom Mandrake would listen. “We all were so worried these days, but you should not blame yourself. If that bug hasn’t flown out of the grass…”“It was me!” Mandrake insisted. Felix crouched and embraced both Wilford and Mandrake around the shoulders:“Fear is not an option, Mandrake. It only makes things worse. Wilford, were you afraid?”“Yes,” Wilford nodded. “But I tried to be brave. Mama says weeping is not an option.”“Ahita’s too serious when it comes to tears. Sometimes you should let them flow, it makes you feel better, but generally I agree with her… It’s okay now. I know you two will always do your best to be brave, because you’re my flaming daughter and my falcon godson.” Having kissed them both on the foreheads, Felix left.“I not his real daughter,” Mandrake mumbled. “But Mr. Felix is very sweet… What’s a godson, Wilfy? I thought Mr. Wim’s your daddy.”“Uncle Felix told me dat it’s a tradition,” Wilford replied. “If something happens to kids’ parents, their godparents take care of them… Help me out here, Drakey. So sick of crawling!”Mandrake almost laughed with relief: now it was clear that the only thing that remained of the burn was the pinkish colour of the upper half of Wilford’s face. It would come off soon. And his eyes stayed there – golden brown, just as required, and wide open and attentive, just like his Daddy’s. All was going to be fine. Maybe not now, but later.
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Fan Fiction
Imp-Lied: Time WarpStay still. Stay still. Stay still, or you’re gonna fall off like my feet did… Only after this thought Eric realized how weird it could’ve sounded and relaxed, for he hadn’t said it aloud. This was addressed to his hands, which were shaking so much that he couldn’t even hold a lollipop which was his character’s attribute.“This one was great, Virgil!” the voice of Mark’s friend Thomas sounded from the next room. Today the house was almost stuffed with imps, for their three human owners-not-owners (carers maybe?) had decided to arrange a performance dedicated to the upcoming holiday. And, of course, Eric had been chosen for one of the roles despite his desperate objections. Thank goodness it was not one of the main roles, but ‘still important’, as Mark had stated. Eric would’ve preferred playing the part of a tiny little animal hiding under a bed.Surprisingly, meeting the new imps hadn’t been as shocking as Eric had imagined. Maybe because he already was familiar with Jack’s charges? Anyway, Thomas’s charge Virgil – purple horns sticking up, wings surrounded with puffs of smoke, shades around the eyes – flew into the room, landed by Eric’s side and wiped his forehead with his sleeve.“Whew! Now that one was nerve-wracking!” he gasped. “I told them that Dark would fit this role much better than me. But no! Your human says that he’s too tragic for this!”“I-I think you’re right,” Eric nodded: ‘tragic’ was the best word describing Dark who was almost constantly gloomy, but not because of being just grumpy. It could be felt that he was accompanied by overriding sadness day and night, but no one ever dared to ask him why. Only Wilford seemed to know what the matter was… although asking him would be risky at least (even though he was always kind to Eric).“I wouldn’t have agreed to act the part of Jack Skellington if it wasn’t one of my favourite movies,” Virgil confessed. “At least no hassle with learning songs by heart… Whose role did you get?”“Barrel’s,” Eric replied. Virgil grinned for the first time in his presence: it was a lop-sided grin, but still.“Lock, Shock and Barrel. Three mischief makers… Is it a coincidence that Mark, Jack and Thomas decided to give their parts to three imps from different families?”“Families?”“Are those not? Thomas adopted us all together, and I’ve seen those twins treat you like their little brother. And your carer… he’s so… kind to all of you. Isn’t that the indication?”“I dunno,” Eric stated, staring at the tip of his prosthetic feet. “Not gonna cope with singing. Totally not.”“And I think you will,” Virgil objected. “My part has multiple songs, and yours has only one. Besides, you’re going to sing it together with Remus. He’s a mess, but… don’t tell anyone, but he’s actually quite supportive towards those whom he likes.”“Do you think he will like me?”“Remus pulls pranks only on those who he considers to deserve it. I mean, those who think that bullying is fun.” Virgil stood up. “Come on, I think it’s time for our common episode… So it’s true, then,” he signed when Eric slid onto the floor and walked after him. “You’re not a flyer.”“Jims are teaching me.” Eric flapped his patched-up wings and this time managed to take off, but did not stay in the air for long, having almost immediately tumbled down. Virgil muttered something under his breath (judging by his tone, he was swearing), grabbed Eric under his arms and flew to the main rehearsal room. Eric did not mind being carried this way, for he was used to such treatment from the Jim Twins.The living room was practically occupied with imps of all colors, so Eric’s eyes even began tearing up with all this brightness. They were sitting on the back of the couch, on the shelves and on the shoulders of their human carers. Two of them were even hanging on the chandelier, one of them being the infamous Remus and the other Anti.“There you are!” Marvin, the long-haired imp wearing a white cat mask, landed in front of him. “Come on, it’s time for our first scene!”Eric restored the text he had read in his memory as best he could, but was close to forgetting it again when he saw the Jim Twins who were standing back-to-back, one of them keeping a creepy smirk on his face and the other doing his best to keep the nervous expression. Now that was going to be a total hurricane.***The rehearsal was not as disastrous as Eric had imagined. He had never sung anything in public before, but Mark, Jack and Thomas had agreed that his singing had been decent for the first time. However, he ‘had to work on emotions’. Why couldn’t they choose Wilford for the role of a mischief maker? – Eric wondered, rubbing on his neck. Working on emotions, ha! Wilford had emotions that were ready to burst him to pieces any moment, and Eric’s throat was ready to clench shut every time when he felt somebody’s eyes on him.“I do underztand you, little one.” The imp in a white gown and with a medical cap on his head landed next to him on the windowsill. “I’m not uzed to singing eizer. Couldn’t zey appoint Edward to zis role?”Eric shrugged, for he couldn’t emit a single sound, but not because of ‘stranger awareness’. In fact, this one was not a stranger. It was Henrik von Schneeplestein (what a name for such a tiny creature), Edward’s companion, for he had a natural blade on his tail as well.“Th-they… said s-something… about… fairness,” Eric pressed out and immediately had a fit of coughs. Henrik frowned, flew off and returned with an imp-sized cup of water and a round greenish blue thing that looked like a hard candy, but smelled strongly like mint.“It’z called a lozenge,” Henrik explained, having caught Eric’s puzzled look, and broke a piece of its edge. “It will make you feel better. Careful.”At first Eric was tempted to spit the ‘lozenge’ out, for his throat hurt even worse after he held it in his mouth, but he swallowed his discontent and waited. Henrik was right: soon the pain began subsiding, though it did not vanish completely.“Ze main zing is for you not to get totally sick,” Henrik summed up.“It won’t be any trouble if I do,” Eric objected. “I’m no good for the performance. Wilford or-or Bing will cope much better.”“Mein Gott,” Henrik muttered. “You’re not alone. I feel strange az well. I’ve never taken part in any performances.”“Really?”“Ja. But Mark decided I’ll fit for ze role of Dr. Finklestein just fine.” Eric snorted with laughter, having made Henrik roll his eyes. “Zat’s just it… Az about Wilford and Bing, first of all, zey have zeir parts, and secondly, Wilford’s too freaky even for ze role of Barrel, and Bing is not a singer. His singing soundz like white noize… Trust me, my little metal-walking pal, if Mark said you’re going to fit the role, zis means you are. Virgil was complaining too.”“Why? He told me it’s his favourite movie, and he got the star part!”“It’z about Celine.”“Celine? Wh-who’s Celine?”“The imp who lives wiz Mark’s girlfriend Amy. She is going to act az Sally, the love interest of Jack Skellington.”“And?..”“Virgil iz nervouz about it.”Having decided not to ask any more questions (he already felt dumb), Eric finished the lozenge. Meanwhile Henrik was humming something under his breath and then suddenly turned to the imp with prosthetic feet again:“By ze way, have you prepared ze song?”“Which song?”“Ah, maybe you weren’t present during ze discussion. Apart from ze performance, zere will be kind of a concert. Each of us who can sing should prepare a Halloween-themed song.”“But I don’t even know what this Halloween of yours is! I mean, I was told what it is, but…”“No worriez,” Henrik reassured him. “You can ask your mates. I’ve heard zat Wilford is preparing a song and dance act wiz Jameson and Remus. A mustached trio, ha ha! I’m not in zis, one role is enough for me…”Henrik was right. When Eric decided to join other imps in Marks’ bedroom (it took some time, although he managed to perform some gliding jumps along the way), he found that Wilford, Jameson and Remus were having a blast on the table, performing some kind of a strange dance (their feet were not tearing off the surface), while other imps were either laughing or cheering around them. The song to which the trio was dancing was quick and chaotic, and it was so noisy that Eric could not make a single word out.Finally Wilford stopped and rubbed the sweat off his forehead with a pant.“Keep you tentacles away from me, Remus,” he grumbled half-heartedly. Remus stuck his tongue at him, but put his four tentacles (he had them instead of a tail) behind his back. “Honestly, they’re weird.”“And I love it,” Remus replied with a sneer. “The weirder the better. Isn’t that the main rule of Halloween?.. Look who came, finally.” He squinted at Eric who climbed onto the chair at this moment. “Want a lift?”“No thanks.” Feverishly fluttering his wings, Eric managed to get at the same level with them and plopped down. “Wh-what about the songs? Schneep told me that we have to prepare songs.”Jameson nodded and unfolded his wings, showing words appearing on them (it was his way to communicate): [IT’S NOT AN OFFICIAL CONCERT, JUST FOR FUN. WE THREE CHOSE TIME WARP].“Time Warp?” Eric repeated (what a weird name for a song!). “Curiouser and curiouser… But I don’t know any strange and dark songs.”“No worries.” The imp in a baseball cap, Chase Brody (one of Jack’s charges), patted him on the shoulder. “First off, do you want to participate?”Eric hesitated. He didn’t want to be left out, but the thought of singing only made him shiver. Eventually he feebly nodded, the sensation of staying out scaring him more than stage fright.“Excellent!” The blue-winged imp with the heart-shaped tip of his tail (Eric recalled that his name was Patton, and he was one of Virgil’s and Remus’s brothers, right on time) beamed as if he got the best gift ever. “Most of the songs are performed in groups, so you will be supported. What about Grim Grinning Ghosts?”This time five imps – Anti, Dark, Kingie, the red-winged one (Romulus? No, Roman) and Patton himself – stood on their knees and froze like statues, while the Host pushed one of the buttons on the player next to them with his tail (he was sitting on the shelf above everyone, and his tail was so long that reaching almost anything he wanted was not a problem), having turned on a slow tune this time.“When the crypt doors creak and the tombstones quake,” Dark began. “Spooks come out for a swinging wake,” the rest four caught up. “Happy haunts materialize,” Dark went on. “And begin to vocalize, grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize,” all five continued. They all were keeping still, so that only their heads were moving.“They are going to pose as singing busts,” one of the Jims sneakily explained to Eric. “Wanna be the sixth one?”“N-no,” Eric confessed: he was sure that he was not able to stand still and sing at the same time. Having hastily looked through the list of songs he had learned (quite a short one), he found only one that could fit the theme. “H-has anyone chosen The Addams Family?”“I don’t think so,” the Jim replied and combed his hair backwards with his fingers, revealing tiny red horns on his forehead (so that was Cameraman Jim, CJ, for Reporter Jim, RJ, had blue horns).“No wonder. It’s short and silly.”“It’s short, but it’s classics,” CJ objected. “Besides, RJ and I could pose as – as Siamese twins!” Eric only blinked at that statement, for this was a new thing for him. “Usually twins are born separately, but there may be cases when they are… well… merged together. Those are called Siamese twins. Edward says that nowadays separating such ones is much easier than it was before, and I believe him.”“M-merged? You mean… like stuck to each other?” Eric wrinkled his nose. “Ew.”“A classic case is easy to fake,” CJ informed. “All we need to do is to tie two of our legs together and wear an extra-large sweater. The Addams Family had a lot of weird relatives, so why couldn’t there be… emm… Tricky and Freaky Addams? As about you, you don’t even need a costume. As Wednesday Addams said, she dressed up as a serial killer, and they look exactly like normal people.”Eric nervously giggled: although the idea of ‘the worse, the better’ was slowly getting to him, his natural anxiety was furious. Finally he decided that he liked this idea. Now the thing was to think of a strange name, for he remembered that it was the rule of the Addams Family.“Metallius.”“What?”“Metallius Addams. How does that sound?”“Sweet,” CJ beamed. “Hey, look, the Singing Busts have completed their rehearsal. RJ! Where are you? Time for some spooky and ooky singing!”Without further ado he pushed Eric into the middle of the improvised scene so that he almost crashed into Anti (whose razor-sharp wings unfolded with alert, but quickly folded again, having not damaged anyone). And the Host pushed another button on the player.Da-da-da-dum, snap, snap. Da-da-da-dum, snap, snap.Omniscient, Eric recalled. Of course. Before he could’ve frozen with all eyes on him (and the Jims, judging by the shuffling behind him), he snapped his fingers in the rhythm and began the first verse, having forgotten that his throat had been sore a little while ago:“They’re creepy and they’re kooky,Mysterious and spooky,They’re all together ooky,The Addams Family.”***“Stop pretending, Eric. I can see that you’re not sleeping.”Eric rolled over and stared at Mark, who leaned over the collection of triple-bunk beds.“How did you guess I was not?” he mumbled, putting his glasses on (he still didn’t know who produced such tiny glasses; somebody had to do that officially, for CJ, Kingie, Google, Henrik, Patton and his brother Logan did wear them too; moreover, Jameson wore a monocle and Bing had orange shades).“The bed is shaking under you.” Mark placed his hands, palms up, in front of Eric, and the imp crawled into them. “I’ve heard you agreed to participate in the concert.”“CJ made me,” Eric confessed. “And-and it’s no good to be left out.”“I understand your concern, but if you don’t want to do something, just say it out loud. Here nobody will be angry at you for this.” Mark walked to the balcony and placed Eric onto the wooden railing. “So, which song did you choose?”“The Addams Family. And I will be posing as Metallius Addams.”“Wow, that’s nice. Listen, tomorrow we’re going to have another rehearsal, and we were going to discuss the costumes for the concert.”“That tentacled imp with spiked balls on his wings constantly wears one,” Eric muttered. Mark chuckled:“Totally. In fact, Remus and Roman gave me the idea. Wilford demanded a pink afro, and Jameson… well, he always looks like a jolly gentleman, right?”Eric suppressed a laugh, imagining Wilford with the mentioned hairstyle. That was going to be a doozy.“Metallius,” Mark mused. “Metallius. What do you think about an armor-styled costume?”“I-I-I don’t want to overload you,” Eric babbled.“It’s not overloading. We’re not leaving you out, as you said,” Mark pointed out. “Besides, everyone’s going to work. Making tiny clothes is not so easy for big creatures like me. Will you participate in some stitching work?”“Yesyesyes!” Eric bounced on the railing and would’ve fallen off if Mark hadn’t caught him by the tail.“Keep calm! Were there any other ideas?”“The Jims wanted to pose as Siamese twins.”“Aaah, that’s their style.”“Yeah, b-but it should be unbearable to walk around with someone attached to you all the time,” Eric confessed. “I-I wouldn’t have stood it.”“But you stand walking with those prosthetics,” Mark objected. “You should’ve had feathered wings and halo instead of those webbed ones and these,” he caressed Eric’s head with his finger, starting from the little yellow rounded horns below his hairline (they used to be broken, but had been smoothed soon after Eric’s arrival). “However, who cares? I’m even surprised that you managed to stay this pure despite being mistreated. You’re stronger than you think, Eric.”Eric wrapped his wings around himself to hide that he blushed beet-red. Mark chuckled:“I’ve heard that there also was the Grim Grinning Ghosts song, right?”“Yes,” Eric nodded, folding his extra limbs.“Canonically, there should be not only the Singing Busts, but the Ghost Host too. Got it?”“G-Ghost Host,” Eric repeated. “He’s already like a ghost. And who doesn’t need a costume is him, for sure.”“But more effects wouldn’t be extra, hm? What do you think about fake blood?”“Eesh!”“That’s what I wanted to hear.”***Eric had some experience of working with needles and threads, for he had had to mend his ripped clothes when he had lived with his previous owner. This time the task was much thornier, for it was not only about putting pieces of fabric together – it was adding decorations as well, and Eric had a lot of doubt that the result would be decent.“Make those stitches a little smaller,” Amy instructed. At first Eric hadn’t been able to speak in her presence, but now the atmosphere was much more relaxed, for her attitude was as patient and caring as Mark’s. “Don’t worry, it’s always so. You should never show a work in progress, for it almost always looks lumpy at least.”“That’s right,” Thomas nodded (he was occupied with something strange: pants with three legs; probably for the twins). “It’s like cooking. Mixtures may look gross, but the results are completely different… Ah, there you are.” At this moment two balls of energy, red and blue, dashed into the room. “Try these on, pals.”While the Jims were attempting to push themselves into the conjoined clothing, Amy carried Eric into the rehearsal room, where Virgil was in the middle of Jack’s Lament. This time Eric was convinced that he and Roman were brothers, for Virgil’s singing was outstandingly heart-wrenching (in good sense), and if Roman was the drama king in his normal life, the stage could blow his reactions up to twenty times at least.“Excellent one, Virgil!” Mark quietly clapped. “Okay, now for…”The Jims did not let him continue, for they walked into the room, dressed in those very three-legged pants with three suspenders, the middle one separating the halves of their shirt which was red on the right and blue on the left. How they managed to walk in one set of clothes for both, Eric had no idea, as well as about the way that shirt was made up to leave all four of their wings out.“We are Siamese if you please,” the twins sung in grotesque squeaky voices. “We are Siamese if you don’t please! Now we’re looking over our new domicile – if we like, we stay for maybe quite a while!”“Glad that you’re ready, but maybe you’ll turn into the two-faced Mayor?” Jack asked. “Riiiiiiight, it’s not gonna happen… Marvin, Eric, Remus, your turn!”This time Eric made himself recalled several times when he had been with one of the fifteen imps that had lived with his previous owner before. They had sneaked to the movie theater and had watched some funny scenes, munching on the remains of popcorn stolen by – Terrick? Merrick? – before being chased out. And it had been strangely fun. Technically it had been a bad thing to do, but Eric remembered the feeling of thrill and now did his best to wake it up.“Kidnap Mr. Sandy Claws?”This time they managed to say the phrase almost in perfect sync. Marvin’s eyebrows jumped up, and he continued:“I wanna do it!”“Let’s draw straws!” Eric caught up, knot of tension inside him easing.“Jack said we should work together.” Of course, in real life Remus would’ve never stated something like that, but it sounded convincing.“Three of a kind!” Eric put in.“Birds of a feather!” Marvin added, and all three finished the speaking part:“Now and forever! Wheeee!”This time Eric played his part better, as he thought, but his challenges were not over for today. In the evening the ‘trial makeup session’ was announced.“Now I’ll have make-up,” Remus joyfully stated, watching Amy apply black eyeshadow to Virgil’s eyelids. “Powder and everything. Like a girl… Smells sweet. Wonder what it tastes like?”Virgil only blindly whipped Remus with his tail. Now, with chalk-white face and drawn stitches next to mouth corners, he was looking so appallingly that Eric almost tumbled down onto the floor after seeing him completely. And he was not even wearing his costume! If with casual clothes it was so impressive, then what would the complete image be like?The procedure was odd, but not unpleasant. Once or twice Eric did his best not to sneeze when the powder got into his nose, but mostly of the time he sat motionlessly, wondering what his new image would be like. And it appeared to be similar to Virgil’s, but without the ‘mouth stitches’ and more… childish or something.“You know what the funny thing is?” Marvin landed next to Eric, carrying a huge (for an imp) witch hat. “In the movie Shock is a girl, but in our version it’s going to be Squidward Tentacles.”Remus only screeched with laughter at this statement, and he absolutely adored becoming green-faced. Marvin felt uneasy about taking his mask off, but eventually agreed and received long red eyebrows and bluish lips.But the ones who really stood out were the Host and Wilford. The first one’s make-up was minimum, almost like Marvin’s: all that was added were red vertical lines on his cheeks, resembling blood drop tracks, but they added remarkable effect. And Wilford… well, he received his pink afro wig and now was soaring around like a giant ball of cotton candy.“No way. The Host is not going to sing,” the Host stated. “He is going to tell scary stories. The shivers on the listeners’ backs are guaranteed if the Host is helped. And he is going to be helped.”***The evening of the performance was approaching, and the imps slowly got involved into the redecoration of the small garden next to Mark’s house. Now pumpkin lights (jack-o-lanterns, Eric reminded himself), spiral wire decorations and paper bats were hung and attached everywhere where it was possible, but not only that: the humans had instructed everyone to make at least one his or her own decoration. Some of them were easily recognizable, like Marvin’s cardboard cats (this one with its back arched, that one with a charming smile), Virgil’s spiders (mostly plastic ones) and Anti’s knives (plastic too, for Jack hadn’t allowed him use the real ones, to his dismay), but some were tricky, like a mirror made out of pieces (only later Eric learned that it was Dark’s work) and wooden puppets (Jameson’s addition).The whole picture showed up when twilight came and the yellow and orange lights were turned on in addition to the candles in the carved pumpkins (this one with moustache, that one with a lop-sided smirk). And I thought it was possible only in movies, Eric thought, carefully stepping on the carpet of yellow leaves not to slip.Snap!Eric slipped and flopped onto the nearest pile of leaves.“Sorry. Are you hurt?” The reason appeared to be Amy, who was holding her phone in the position most suitable for taking pictures.“I-I am not,” Eric replied, standing up and shaking the dust off his clothes.“You were just so enchanted that I couldn’t resist. Are you nervous about the performance?”“Yes,” Eric nodded. “Although i-it’s dumb. Virgil must be the most nervous. And-and Janus is too. He plays it cool, but I-I know when people are anxious.”“Janus? The one who acts as Oogie-Boogie Man?”“Mm-hmm.” The imp fiddled with his fingers. “Jackieboy may be offended. He likes playing superheroes, and this time he’ll be practically a victim. Remus, Marvin and myself are gonna kidnap him.”“That idea seemed strange to me at first. Jackie as Santa Claus! Although Logan as a mad scientist reviving monsters which do mashes is even stranger, don’t you think?”Monsters which do mashes? Ah! Monster Mash was the song that Logan had chosen. Another weird-worded one… although Eric was slowly getting the hang of this collection of stranger things. Then he paid attention to the circle of young trees with pictures painted on them – a pumpkin lantern, a painted egg, a decorated fir tree, a four-leaf clover, a brown bird, a cracker and a heart.“What is it?”“It’s for the performance. And in all it’s pretty, huh?”***Eric’s costume was more of a black skeleton onesie, and he liked it. The evening was cool, and it was hiding his prosthetic feet (the only problem now was not losing his shoes). In addition Amy and Thomas had painted his wings, having made them completely black with white bone lines, but they could not do anything with his hair, so it was made as messy as possible.The Host acted as the narrator at the beginning and then turned into a DJ, turning the required tunes on. Mark, Jack, Thomas and Amy had stated that they had invited their friends to see the performance, but it seemed like much more people came – or was Eric so nervous that he took one person for two? Anyway, the intro passed on smoothly, and even Celine who seemed to be very cold-blooded was coping with her role of Sally.“Okay, now Jack’s Lament, then What’s This, and then i-it’s up to you not to spoil it, Eric,” he muttered, hiding his hands into the sleeves, and started when a limb – not a hand – curled around his waist. “Eep! Remus? Is that you?”“I just love showing up when I’m not invited,” Remus sneered and blew a bubble out of the green gum he was chewing; it popped and covered his face till the forehead. It was strange to see him in a dull pinkish coat instead of his usual frilly outfit. “Knees shaking?”Eric nodded.“Even supermodels sometimes fall on the runways, and that doesn’t make them worse,” Remus commented, detaching the pieces of gum from his face. Then, to Eric’s disgust, he put them all together and tossed into his mouth again. “It’s gonna be just fine… Thomas is always nervous before his performances, but then he comes to the stage and forgets his worries! It’s a thing. Just don’t be too dramatic, okay? That’s my twinny’s job.”It’s even strange that Roman had not regained the role of Santa Claus, Eric decided and made himself see reason: if it was a classic tale with princes and princesses, Roman would’ve done it, and this time… Eric snorted, having imagined Roman in a red jacket and with a fake beard. This image fitted Jackie much better despite seeming odd at first.In the movie Lock, Shock and Barrel wore masks, but those had appeared to be too difficult to make, so Marvin, Remus and Eric had been instructed to make smiles as fake as possible during the first scene and reveal emotions only during the song part. It sounded easy, but Eric almost cracked up at the sight of the Jims dressed in two-sided business-styled (grotesque) clothing back-to-back to each other.“And what are you two doing here?” CJ snapped (he played the ‘sad face Mayor’ part).“Jack called for us,” Marvin replied.“Specifically!” Remus qualified.“By name,” Eric added carelessly, though his heart was thumping in his ears, deafening him.“Lock!”“Shock!”“And Barrel!”“Jack, those are… Boogie boys,” CJ mumbled very convincingly.Eric didn’t hear anything that Virgil was pretending to whisper to them. The only thing he could see was one of the black ‘stitches’ on Virgil’s cheek that was partially erased, but indeed, who cared? He could see it because he was close to the imp playing the main part, and from a distance… who else could?“Kidnap Mr. Sandy Claws?”This was said by two voices instead of three, and Eric snapped out of his wrong kind of day-dreaming. Forcing himself not to panic, he recalled what he should do next.“I wanna do it!”“Let’s draw straws!” Eric stated and received a familiar push from Remus.“Jack said we should work together!”“Three of a kind!”“Birds of a feather!”“Now and forever!”***Eric leaned onto the player and relaxed, feeling the coolness of plastic and metal against his heated face. He didn’t even register when the Host turned the next tune on.“The Host is certain it was something. But Eric seems bothered. What made him uncomfortable?”“I know you’re asking it just to calm me down,” Eric replied, having grabbed a pack of wet towel wipes and attempting to get rid of the makeup, for he didn’t need it anymore, and he had to prepare for the role of ‘Metallius Addams’.“Yes. But the Host knows firsthand that talking about things bothering people without asking them freaks them out.”“Sure. I-I had to hold myself from escaping the stage when I missed the line three of us should’ve said.”“But then Eric played his part excellently, as well as Marvin. Remus went a little bit extreme. The Host is not blaming him, he’s naturally such, even though he refuses to accept it. Brothers.”The sounds of cheering from behind the wall (the player was hidden under the porch, from where there was a secret way to the house) told Eric that the concert was about to begin. Anti’s voice approved it:“Hey! And what about the party?”Judging by the gasp that followed, the Singing Busts Quintet was not moving during the performance. Or maybe everyone’s attention was too drawn to the actors? Anyway, now, disguised as statues (only their upper halves, not counting arms and wings, were visible, while the rest was hidden with special cloth and stands), they were quite a sight, especially when Dark started his solo.Eric pulled the jacket decorated with dozens of thin metal chains on. The knight-styled outfit had not worked out, for the foil could not be attached to the fabric reliably (it was constantly falling off), so the final concept was heavy-metalish. The pants were ordinary if not to count leather fringe on its sleeves, and in addition he had to put goggles onto his head. Goggles and glasses – how did you like that? Eric’s eyes were tearing up with having to tense his sight during the performance, so he had no choice but to wear both at the same time.The chains rattle when he moves. Ghosts rattling their chains, grim grinning ghosts coming out to socialize… The song was ending, and that meant it was Eric’s turn. Not hiding his prosthetic feet this time, he walked out – and froze.This time it was for real. All eyes were on him. Some girls were making comments like ‘aww, cutie!’, some were showing that gesture – horns? – that Eric had seen while watching rock concert videos, some were just clapping and cheering, already heated up by the performance and the beginning, but they all had something in common – they were spinning around Eric, even though he was standing still. Then Eric’s head became heavy, as if hit with a rock, and it got silent. Did he turn deaf all of a sudden?When silence changed to whispering and dissatisfied muttering, Eric realized that he was held by the shoulders and then recognized the blue and red sleeves.“What is it, Metallius?” RJ asked. “Have you overdone with the chains again?”“I think he has not, Freaky,” CJ added. Trying to save the day by acting as their characters, how sweet, Eric thought and clenched his teeth not to burst into sobs or something. And the wish to do so was high…“I just love it when chains are so heavy that they make me fall!”It was a total stream of consciousness based on Eric’s memory that the Addams Family members took almost everything vice versa. Bad meant good, the freakier the better.The singing part went on… the word ‘okay’ would be the best to describe it. Eric thanked the Jims for the thousandth time (in his mind) after he finally had a chance to escape the ‘stage’ and let the twins cut the tension with their version of We Are Siamese.He didn’t even register being given a one-winged hug from the side. And it took him even more time to be amazed at the fact that it was given by Virgil – hair sticking to all directions and then some, make-up half-washed off, shades under the eyes.“You’ll get used to it,” he grumbled. “Anxiety is a stinker, but a good friend to me too. May it become one for you as well. By the way, cool improvisation with the fall.”“Th-thanks.”“I’m glad that I don’t have to act anymore,” Virgil admitted, brightening up a bit. “Wanna dance? I hear that it’s almost time for your cotton candy psycho’s number. Remus told me that anyone could join.”“B-but I can’t dance, I-I’m gonna fall again,” Eric replied.“This song contains instructions how to dance. Come on!”Before Eric knew it, he was already in the bunch of imps watching Wilford (in the middle), Jameson and Remus, who were bending over backwards to impress the public.“It’s just a jump to the left and then a step to the right,” Wilford instructed to the tune. What an odd song. “Put your hands on your hips, you bring your knees in tight, but it’s the pelvic thrust, they really drive you insa-a-a-ane! Let’s do the Time Warp Again!”Not wanting to know what the lyrics of the song meant, Eric glanced at Virgil, who smirked and took a running leap, having landed on the left to Jameson. The imp in the bowlhat gave him a joyous smile, and Virgil joined the dance like nothing even happened.In the middle of the second stanza Wilford performed a high jump – a bit too high, for his pink afro wig almost flew off, but he caught it right on time and plopped it back onto his head, having made the audience laugh. And really, who cares? – Eric thought unexpectedly for himself. If Wilford can lose his wig, Virgil can dance with his makeup flaking and… and Jameson doesn’t even talk, but everyone loves him, then why can’t I try?And, not feeling his legs under him, Eric found himself to the left of Remus, the chains on his jacket rumbling like a whole bunch of ghosts.“That’s right! Let’s do the Time Warp again!”
Drawings and Artistry
122 - Meteor rain by Rikkimaru129
Really? Contest
Superhero Like by Pedrariall-art
Anything Else 2

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guys i'm so sorry if your submissions haven't been getting accepted but my computer crashed. I'm at the library right now, and my computers in repairs. I'll be switching back to auto acceptance until its fixed and all recent submissions will have to be resubmited. SORRRRRRRRRRRy TT.TT
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Adopt, adopts, adoptable, awesome, point, points, sell, free, cute, sweet, nice, epic, secret-softie, s-j-art, adoptables, extra, extraordinary, ordinary, odd, strange, weird Good or Bad Fan Art Love, Cute, Nice, Anime, Cartoon, Emotional, Poetry, Depression, Hippies, Hippy, Bright, Colourful, Competitions, Adoptables, Everything! ^^
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:icongeonetique:
Geonetique Featured By Owner Jan 6, 2019  Professional Digital Artist
anything else folder is full, and CAN NOT submit to anything else 2 folder.
My I suggest a Digital or fractal folder as well,
thanks L)
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:icondengekipororo:
dengekipororo Featured By Owner Sep 2, 2018  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Fan Art folder are full.
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:icongeonetique:
Geonetique Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2018  Professional Digital Artist
Hi,
The 'anything else' folder is still full.

also, have you considered making a folder for fractal art?

thanks for your time
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:iconzoiaeras:
ZoiAeras Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2017  Student General Artist
Hello, I'm selling two computer backgrounds all in one for only 150 points or a $1.50!
zoiaeras.deviantart.com/art/Me…
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:icondeaderidan:
Deaderidan Featured By Owner Nov 7, 2016
characters for sale/trade sta.sh/2w21n1acm8x?edit=1
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:iconsjart117:
SJArt117 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014
How's my old group going? =3
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:icontiny-toons-fan:
Tiny-Toons-Fan Featured By Owner Apr 22, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I've decided to leave. Bye.
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:iconsjart117:
SJArt117 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014
What happened )=
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:icontiny-toons-fan:
Tiny-Toons-Fan Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014  Professional Digital Artist
I'm currently a member of 151 other groups, two of which I admin. I was in a lot more but unfortunately I have left a lot of them (mostly the one's with less activity). It's nothing personal.
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:iconsjart117:
SJArt117 Featured By Owner Jul 6, 2014
Aah. =3

I was just checking up, as this group was originally founded by myself. ^^
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