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Originally posted by gulaben at First chapter of superhero story, Eye of Destruction

The sun was setting on the island metropolis of Hudson City, lights beginning web the buildings in a glowing lattice work. The city was home to many disparate groups and rife with magic and metahumans, a haven from the strict laws of the USA. Hiding in the light, performers, superheroes and mundanity, knowing that it made them seem safe.

On the edge of China Town crowds were becoming more dense as the work week ended and the weekend began. Tourists were flowing into the brightly coloured streets but the younger people of the city were on the way to the Plaza ,home of the cities nightclubs. Neon lights flickered on, drawing in crowds like moths to light. In the club, Wyrm, the music was muted, waiting for the dark. Currently a dim cavern, the Wyrm had a sinuous wooden bar, matching with winding starts and walkways that made there way through the building. As the lights slowly flickered on the design of a massive serpent appeared, fangs enclosing the dj booth, now occupied.

Doing her best to hide her wince as the music rose in volume, Kilala sighed, settling further in her chair. She had been here since soon after opening, carefully, slowly weaving an illusion over herself. It didn't hide her from view, just allowed people's eyes to slide over her. Delicate work, technically far beyond her skill level, but she had some help. Annoying help, but help non the less.

On the bar a cat appeared with a slight pop. You would think that would cause an issue in the growing crowd around the bar, but Kilala knew that no one else could see it. She glared at the cat, which gave her a smug look and began to clean itself, twin tails twitching.

“You will draw attention to yourself, Kadan, “ she mentally hissed at the cat, before taking a drink.

“You wanted me here,” came a voice in her ear as the cat yawned, “anyway you know better.”

He stretched, claws scratching at the wooden bar, but leaving no marks on the smooth surface as Kilala glared. Being possessed, at least technically, by a cat was beyond irritating. A demon would be a relief at this point. Still it came with some advantages, advantages which had Kilala warming a bar stool. With a bit of focus she would see the swirling omin-present streams of magic. With the right priming she could track the caster a spell, thus why she was here tonight. Memories of a still figure on a bed, breathing shallow, magic gone, the barest trickle left, caused a scowl on Kilala's face.

She let her glass hit the bar, straight through the apparition, making disappear in a swirl of colour. Bending around to scan the entering crowd, Kilala did her best to seem casual but she carefully noted people as they entered. No one caught her attention, but as she was about to turn back to the bar Kilala felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, a feeling of danger goosebumping her skin. Looking back at the people entering the club, she zeroed in on a small group of men near the entrance.

Drawing a breath, Kilala rose from her seat, holding her jacket over her shoulder. She has made concession to the club scene, a tight halter neck top, the lacy fabric only covering what decency required, leaving most of her torso bared, belly button piercing visible on skin the colour of pale cream. Instead of the typical tight jeans or micro mini, Kilala was wearing loose pants that hung from slim hips, nice leather boots instead of pumps. Still these guys had be focusing on Asian girls, at that point at least Kilala fit the mould.

She walked over to the table that the men had sat at with a flirtatious smile on her face.

“I don't think I've seen you here before,” she said, talking to the one with the strongest concentration of the foul magic on them.

“Same here gorgeous. I'd remember,” he said leering at her. Obviously thought he was god's gift to women, Kilala thought mentally rolling her eyes.

“Same here,” she replied, “ what's your name?”

“John and yours, honey?” Replying Kilala let herself fit into the flow of the conversation, soon sitting at the table, flirting, accepting offered drinks, thanking the potion she took before coming here for keeping her sober. After she started pretending she was a bit more than tipsy whispered in her ear.

“How about we go get some fresh air, honey?”

Agreeing with a laugh Kilala got to her feet, faking a slight unsteadiness. In a laughably gallant move he hooked his arm in hers. Surreptitiously flicking her eyes across the group Kilala could see the smirks. As they left the table, he ushered her out into the alley next to the club with the grip on her arm. Inwardly rolling her eyes, Kilala wondered if they had gotten sloppy, or maybe foreknowledge was to be forearmed. Still, she continued her chatter and pretended to focus her attention on the man in front of her, trying to ignore the skin crawling effect of the magic on him.

To her lack of surprise the rest of the men from the table appeared. Then her shoulders tensed as she realised there were more men that had been in the club. A quick count put it at nine, which made the situation even more dicey. Kilala could feel the alarm of Kadan mirror her own. Doing her best to calm herself she allowed the groping for a few more seconds before pulling away in alarm.

“Hey what's going on,” she said, still playing her role, as if she had just noticed the increase of people.

“Whatever we want honey,” said with a sneer, not even turning to see behind him. Well that it cocky as hell Kilala thought. The sneer quickly faded as a broad smile appeared on his supposed victim's face. In a smooth movement Kilala drew a small knife from a sheathe on her leg and pressed it to his throat.

“Seems like you will be doing what I want,” she said to the now sweating man in front of her, before focusing on the rest of the group for a moment.

“I suggest you all stay still as well. Unless you want to...”

Her voice trailed off as a figure behind the glaring thugs walked out of the darkness. Dressed in dark coat with long hair loosely tied back the man was obviously shorter than the group of thugs, but danger flowed off him like waves of heat. Worse than that Kilala recognised him and the symbol embroided on his jacket.

“Who the hell are you?” One of the group said, “Fuck off or you''ll be sorry.”

A smooth, slightly accented voice replied, “It looks to me that you are the ones in trouble.”

To Kilala's slight surprise several of the men turned to the intruder, with fists raised. She winced as the group of thugs closed on the figure. The man who she was restraining tried to twist, shouting for them to help him, but was soon silenced as Kilala swiftly drew her knife back and her head forward. She rubbed her forehead as he slumped to the ground. Crouching next to him she grabbed at the barely visible necklace, revealing and intricately carved amulet. She was carefull not to let it touch her, this close to her it made her skin crawl.

Reaching into a pocket, Kilala was momentarily stunned by a bright light, the smell of burning fabric with a hint of flesh reaching her nose. Looking up she saw that most of the rest of the group had joined there leader, only two still standing against their opponent. Next to her, Kadan appeared in a tense crouch.

“Get what you are here for!” He hissed out looking at her with vivid green eyes, she nodded finishing her delayed movement, bring out a small pouch that she dropped the amulet in. Some of the tension left her shoulders, the caustic feel of the magic withdrawing. Rifling through the downed man's pockets she found his wallet and, after a brief moment of reflection, leaned against the alley wall,. In a studiously relaxed pose, she went through the wallet, keeping an eye on the remainder of the fight. It didn't take much longer for there to only be the long haired man left. He looked around for a moment before noticing her, causing his mouth to tighten before coming closer.

“Returning to old habits?” He said looking at her with bright orange eyes obvious irritation in his voice.

“Hardly,” Kilala snorted, slipping the wallet into her pants “I want to know who this idiot is. This money might as well be used to help his victims too.”

She raised a hand to stop the man from talking as h e opened his mouth.

“What are you doing here? Doesn't one of the Queen's most powerful servants have better things to do? Eh Phoenix?”

“Zhu Que is the correct name. As you well know.” He started off icy, but the second sentence was muted, almost under his breath, but continued to glare at Kilala, Kadan intermittently hissing at him. Suppressing inappropriate laughter, she continued.

“That didn't answer the question,” she said, watching for a long moment as Zhu Que shifted impatiently on his feet.

“I could ask you the same,” he snapped, before looking away and continuing, “You aren't the only area that has been targeted by this trash.”

Kilala pursed her lips, she felt more unsurprised that she thought the announcement deserved, but it made sense. Sort of.

“Sounds like someone has a death wish,” was all she said standing up from the wall. “ On that note I'll leave the clean up to you, that's what you mob types are good at aren't you? I'm sure you'll get what ever information you need.

“Give me the amulet student of Zhang Guolao.” he said stepping closer and out as she turned away.

“Yeah no,” she replied finishing her turn and walking out of the alley, seeing his fist clench out of the corner of her eye, senses ready if he tried anything, but he let her go with only a suppressed noise of anger.

Moving quickly to her bike, Kilala shrugged her jacket on, ignoring the apparition on her bike seat. Starting up her bike she dodged the crowd on the street, some drunk even at this early hour.

“You say others have a death wish!” Kadan spoke into her head ,” that idiot could have cooked you with a click of his fingers.”

“Maybe,” was the only reply the spirit as Kilala focused on the road. And on the amulet. Something more than she thought was going on here.

Originally posted by gulaben at First chapter of superhero story, Eye of Destruction

The sun was setting on the island metropolis of Hudson City, lights beginning web the buildings in a glowing lattice work. The city was home to many disparate groups and rife with magic and metahumans, a haven from the strict laws of the USA. Hiding in the light, performers, superheroes and mundanity, knowing that it made them seem safe.

On the edge of China Town crowds were becoming more dense as the work week ended and the weekend began. Tourists were flowing into the brightly coloured streets but the younger people of the city were on the way to the Plaza ,home of the cities nightclubs. Neon lights flickered on, drawing in crowds like moths to light. In the club, Wyrm, the music was muted, waiting for the dark. Currently a dim cavern, the Wyrm had a sinuous wooden bar, matching with winding starts and walkways that made there way through the building. As the lights slowly flickered on the design of a massive serpent appeared, fangs enclosing the dj booth, now occupied.

Doing her best to hide her wince as the music rose in volume, Kilala sighed, settling further in her chair. She had been here since soon after opening, carefully, slowly weaving an illusion over herself. It didn't hide her from view, just allowed people's eyes to slide over her. Delicate work, technically far beyond her skill level, but she had some help. Annoying help, but help non the less.

On the bar a cat appeared with a slight pop. You would think that would cause an issue in the growing crowd around the bar, but Kilala knew that no one else could see it. She glared at the cat, which gave her a smug look and began to clean itself, twin tails twitching.

“You will draw attention to yourself, Kadan, “ she mentally hissed at the cat, before taking a drink.

“You wanted me here,” came a voice in her ear as the cat yawned, “anyway you know better.”

He stretched, claws scratching at the wooden bar, but leaving no marks on the smooth surface as Kilala glared. Being possessed, at least technically, by a cat was beyond irritating. A demon would be a relief at this point. Still it came with some advantages, advantages which had Kilala warming a bar stool. With a bit of focus she would see the swirling omin-present streams of magic. With the right priming she could track the caster a spell, thus why she was here tonight. Memories of a still figure on a bed, breathing shallow, magic gone, the barest trickle left, caused a scowl on Kilala's face.

She let her glass hit the bar, straight through the apparition, making disappear in a swirl of colour. Bending around to scan the entering crowd, Kilala did her best to seem casual but she carefully noted people as they entered. No one caught her attention, but as she was about to turn back to the bar Kilala felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, a feeling of danger goosebumping her skin. Looking back at the people entering the club, she zeroed in on a small group of men near the entrance.

Drawing a breath, Kilala rose from her seat, holding her jacket over her shoulder. She has made concession to the club scene, a tight halter neck top, the lacy fabric only covering what decency required, leaving most of her torso bared, belly button piercing visible on skin the colour of pale cream. Instead of the typical tight jeans or micro mini, Kilala was wearing loose pants that hung from slim hips, nice leather boots instead of pumps. Still these guys had be focusing on Asian girls, at that point at least Kilala fit the mould.

She walked over to the table that the men had sat at with a flirtatious smile on her face.

“I don't think I've seen you here before,” she said, talking to the one with the strongest concentration of the foul magic on them.

“Same here gorgeous. I'd remember,” he said leering at her. Obviously thought he was god's gift to women, Kilala thought mentally rolling her eyes.

“Same here,” she replied, “ what's your name?”

“John and yours, honey?” Replying Kilala let herself fit into the flow of the conversation, soon sitting at the table, flirting, accepting offered drinks, thanking the potion she took before coming here for keeping her sober. After she started pretending she was a bit more than tipsy whispered in her ear.

“How about we go get some fresh air, honey?”

Agreeing with a laugh Kilala got to her feet, faking a slight unsteadiness. In a laughably gallant move he hooked his arm in hers. Surreptitiously flicking her eyes across the group Kilala could see the smirks. As they left the table, he ushered her out into the alley next to the club with the grip on her arm. Inwardly rolling her eyes, Kilala wondered if they had gotten sloppy, or maybe foreknowledge was to be forearmed. Still, she continued her chatter and pretended to focus her attention on the man in front of her, trying to ignore the skin crawling effect of the magic on him.

To her lack of surprise the rest of the men from the table appeared. Then her shoulders tensed as she realised there were more men that had been in the club. A quick count put it at nine, which made the situation even more dicey. Kilala could feel the alarm of Kadan mirror her own. Doing her best to calm herself she allowed the groping for a few more seconds before pulling away in alarm.

“Hey what's going on,” she said, still playing her role, as if she had just noticed the increase of people.

“Whatever we want honey,” said with a sneer, not even turning to see behind him. Well that it cocky as hell Kilala thought. The sneer quickly faded as a broad smile appeared on his supposed victim's face. In a smooth movement Kilala drew a small knife from a sheathe on her leg and pressed it to his throat.

“Seems like you will be doing what I want,” she said to the now sweating man in front of her, before focusing on the rest of the group for a moment.

“I suggest you all stay still as well. Unless you want to...”

Her voice trailed off as a figure behind the glaring thugs walked out of the darkness. Dressed in dark coat with long hair loosely tied back the man was obviously shorter than the group of thugs, but danger flowed off him like waves of heat. Worse than that Kilala recognised him and the symbol embroided on his jacket.

“Who the hell are you?” One of the group said, “Fuck off or you''ll be sorry.”

A smooth, slightly accented voice replied, “It looks to me that you are the ones in trouble.”

To Kilala's slight surprise several of the men turned to the intruder, with fists raised. She winced as the group of thugs closed on the figure. The man who she was restraining tried to twist, shouting for them to help him, but was soon silenced as Kilala swiftly drew her knife back and her head forward. She rubbed her forehead as he slumped to the ground. Crouching next to him she grabbed at the barely visible necklace, revealing and intricately carved amulet. She was carefull not to let it touch her, this close to her it made her skin crawl.

Reaching into a pocket, Kilala was momentarily stunned by a bright light, the smell of burning fabric with a hint of flesh reaching her nose. Looking up she saw that most of the rest of the group had joined there leader, only two still standing against their opponent. Next to her, Kadan appeared in a tense crouch.

“Get what you are here for!” He hissed out looking at her with vivid green eyes, she nodded finishing her delayed movement, bring out a small pouch that she dropped the amulet in. Some of the tension left her shoulders, the caustic feel of the magic withdrawing. Rifling through the downed man's pockets she found his wallet and, after a brief moment of reflection, leaned against the alley wall,. In a studiously relaxed pose, she went through the wallet, keeping an eye on the remainder of the fight. It didn't take much longer for there to only be the long haired man left. He looked around for a moment before noticing her, causing his mouth to tighten before coming closer.

“Returning to old habits?” He said looking at her with bright orange eyes obvious irritation in his voice.

“Hardly,” Kilala snorted, slipping the wallet into her pants “I want to know who this idiot is. This money might as well be used to help his victims too.”

She raised a hand to stop the man from talking as h e opened his mouth.

“What are you doing here? Doesn't one of the Queen's most powerful servants have better things to do? Eh Phoenix?”

“Zhu Que is the correct name. As you well know.” He started off icy, but the second sentence was muted, almost under his breath, but continued to glare at Kilala, Kadan intermittently hissing at him. Suppressing inappropriate laughter, she continued.

“That didn't answer the question,” she said, watching for a long moment as Zhu Que shifted impatiently on his feet.

“I could ask you the same,” he snapped, before looking away and continuing, “You aren't the only area that has been targeted by this trash.”

Kilala pursed her lips, she felt more unsurprised that she thought the announcement deserved, but it made sense. Sort of.

“Sounds like someone has a death wish,” was all she said standing up from the wall. “ On that note I'll leave the clean up to you, that's what you mob types are good at aren't you? I'm sure you'll get what ever information you need.

“Give me the amulet student of Zhang Guolao.” he said stepping closer and out as she turned away.

“Yeah no,” she replied finishing her turn and walking out of the alley, seeing his fist clench out of the corner of her eye, senses ready if he tried anything, but he let her go with only a suppressed noise of anger.

Moving quickly to her bike, Kilala shrugged her jacket on, ignoring the apparition on her bike seat. Starting up her bike she dodged the crowd on the street, some drunk even at this early hour.

“You say others have a death wish!” Kadan spoke into her head ,” that idiot could have cooked you with a click of his fingers.”

“Maybe,” was the only reply the spirit as Kilala focused on the road. And on the amulet. Something more than she thought was going on here.

The sun was setting on the island metropolis of Hudson City, lights beginning web the buildings in a glowing lattice work. The city was home to many disparate groups and rife with magic and metahumans, a haven from the strict laws of the USA. Hiding in the light, performers, superheroes and mundanity, knowing that it made them seem safe.

On the edge of China Town crowds were becoming more dense as the work week ended and the weekend began. Tourists were flowing into the brightly coloured streets but the younger people of the city were on the way to the Plaza ,home of the cities nightclubs. Neon lights flickered on, drawing in crowds like moths to light. In the club, Wyrm, the music was muted, waiting for the dark. Currently a dim cavern, the Wyrm had a sinuous wooden bar, matching with winding starts and walkways that made there way through the building. As the lights slowly flickered on the design of a massive serpent appeared, fangs enclosing the dj booth, now occupied.

Doing her best to hide her wince as the music rose in volume, Kilala sighed, settling further in her chair. She had been here since soon after opening, carefully, slowly weaving an illusion over herself. It didn't hide her from view, just allowed people's eyes to slide over her. Delicate work, technically far beyond her skill level, but she had some help. Annoying help, but help non the less.

On the bar a cat appeared with a slight pop. You would think that would cause an issue in the growing crowd around the bar, but Kilala knew that no one else could see it. She glared at the cat, which gave her a smug look and began to clean itself, twin tails twitching.

“You will draw attention to yourself, Kadan, “ she mentally hissed at the cat, before taking a drink.

“You wanted me here,” came a voice in her ear as the cat yawned, “anyway you know better.”

He stretched, claws scratching at the wooden bar, but leaving no marks on the smooth surface as Kilala glared. Being possessed, at least technically, by a cat was beyond irritating. A demon would be a relief at this point. Still it came with some advantages, advantages which had Kilala warming a bar stool. With a bit of focus she would see the swirling omin-present streams of magic. With the right priming she could track the caster a spell, thus why she was here tonight. Memories of a still figure on a bed, breathing shallow, magic gone, the barest trickle left, caused a scowl on Kilala's face.

She let her glass hit the bar, straight through the apparition, making disappear in a swirl of colour. Bending around to scan the entering crowd, Kilala did her best to seem casual but she carefully noted people as they entered. No one caught her attention, but as she was about to turn back to the bar Kilala felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, a feeling of danger goosebumping her skin. Looking back at the people entering the club, she zeroed in on a small group of men near the entrance.

Drawing a breath, Kilala rose from her seat, holding her jacket over her shoulder. She has made concession to the club scene, a tight halter neck top, the lacy fabric only covering what decency required, leaving most of her torso bared, belly button piercing visible on skin the colour of pale cream. Instead of the typical tight jeans or micro mini, Kilala was wearing loose pants that hung from slim hips, nice leather boots instead of pumps. Still these guys had be focusing on Asian girls, at that point at least Kilala fit the mould.

She walked over to the table that the men had sat at with a flirtatious smile on her face.

“I don't think I've seen you here before,” she said, talking to the one with the strongest concentration of the foul magic on them.

“Same here gorgeous. I'd remember,” he said leering at her. Obviously thought he was god's gift to women, Kilala thought mentally rolling her eyes.

“Same here,” she replied, “ what's your name?”

“John and yours, honey?” Replying Kilala let herself fit into the flow of the conversation, soon sitting at the table, flirting, accepting offered drinks, thanking the potion she took before coming here for keeping her sober. After she started pretending she was a bit more than tipsy whispered in her ear.

“How about we go get some fresh air, honey?”

Agreeing with a laugh Kilala got to her feet, faking a slight unsteadiness. In a laughably gallant move he hooked his arm in hers. Surreptitiously flicking her eyes across the group Kilala could see the smirks. As they left the table, he ushered her out into the alley next to the club with the grip on her arm. Inwardly rolling her eyes, Kilala wondered if they had gotten sloppy, or maybe foreknowledge was to be forearmed. Still, she continued her chatter and pretended to focus her attention on the man in front of her, trying to ignore the skin crawling effect of the magic on him.

To her lack of surprise the rest of the men from the table appeared. Then her shoulders tensed as she realised there were more men that had been in the club. A quick count put it at nine, which made the situation even more dicey. Kilala could feel the alarm of Kadan mirror her own. Doing her best to calm herself she allowed the groping for a few more seconds before pulling away in alarm.

“Hey what's going on,” she said, still playing her role, as if she had just noticed the increase of people.

“Whatever we want honey,” said with a sneer, not even turning to see behind him. Well that it cocky as hell Kilala thought. The sneer quickly faded as a broad smile appeared on his supposed victim's face. In a smooth movement Kilala drew a small knife from a sheathe on her leg and pressed it to his throat.

“Seems like you will be doing what I want,” she said to the now sweating man in front of her, before focusing on the rest of the group for a moment.

“I suggest you all stay still as well. Unless you want to...”

Her voice trailed off as a figure behind the glaring thugs walked out of the darkness. Dressed in dark coat with long hair loosely tied back the man was obviously shorter than the group of thugs, but danger flowed off him like waves of heat. Worse than that Kilala recognised him and the symbol embroided on his jacket.

“Who the hell are you?” One of the group said, “Fuck off or you''ll be sorry.”

A smooth, slightly accented voice replied, “It looks to me that you are the ones in trouble.”

To Kilala's slight surprise several of the men turned to the intruder, with fists raised. She winced as the group of thugs closed on the figure. The man who she was restraining tried to twist, shouting for them to help him, but was soon silenced as Kilala swiftly drew her knife back and her head forward. She rubbed her forehead as he slumped to the ground. Crouching next to him she grabbed at the barely visible necklace, revealing and intricately carved amulet. She was carefull not to let it touch her, this close to her it made her skin crawl.

Reaching into a pocket, Kilala was momentarily stunned by a bright light, the smell of burning fabric with a hint of flesh reaching her nose. Looking up she saw that most of the rest of the group had joined there leader, only two still standing against their opponent. Next to her, Kadan appeared in a tense crouch.

“Get what you are here for!” He hissed out looking at her with vivid green eyes, she nodded finishing her delayed movement, bring out a small pouch that she dropped the amulet in. Some of the tension left her shoulders, the caustic feel of the magic withdrawing. Rifling through the downed man's pockets she found his wallet and, after a brief moment of reflection, leaned against the alley wall,. In a studiously relaxed pose, she went through the wallet, keeping an eye on the remainder of the fight. It didn't take much longer for there to only be the long haired man left. He looked around for a moment before noticing her, causing his mouth to tighten before coming closer.

“Returning to old habits?” He said looking at her with bright orange eyes obvious irritation in his voice.

“Hardly,” Kilala snorted, slipping the wallet into her pants “I want to know who this idiot is. This money might as well be used to help his victims too.”

She raised a hand to stop the man from talking as h e opened his mouth.

“What are you doing here? Doesn't one of the Queen's most powerful servants have better things to do? Eh Phoenix?”

“Zhu Que is the correct name. As you well know.” He started off icy, but the second sentence was muted, almost under his breath, but continued to glare at Kilala, Kadan intermittently hissing at him. Suppressing inappropriate laughter, she continued.

“That didn't answer the question,” she said, watching for a long moment as Zhu Que shifted impatiently on his feet.

“I could ask you the same,” he snapped, before looking away and continuing, “You aren't the only area that has been targeted by this trash.”

Kilala pursed her lips, she felt more unsurprised that she thought the announcement deserved, but it made sense. Sort of.

“Sounds like someone has a death wish,” was all she said standing up from the wall. “ On that note I'll leave the clean up to you, that's what you mob types are good at aren't you? I'm sure you'll get what ever information you need.

“Give me the amulet student of Zhang Guolao.” he said stepping closer and out as she turned away.

“Yeah no,” she replied finishing her turn and walking out of the alley, seeing his fist clench out of the corner of her eye, senses ready if he tried anything, but he let her go with only a suppressed noise of anger.

Moving quickly to her bike, Kilala shrugged her jacket on, ignoring the apparition on her bike seat. Starting up her bike she dodged the crowd on the street, some drunk even at this early hour.

“You say others have a death wish!” Kadan spoke into her head ,” that idiot could have cooked you with a click of his fingers.”

“Maybe,” was the only reply the spirit as Kilala focused on the road. And on the amulet. Something more than she thought was going on here.

Townsville Spec Fic Anthology Release

Well on the 25th of this month the anthology the writing group I am in is working on is going to be released. Come to the Riverway Arts Centre that evening if you want to celebrate with us.

NaNoWriMo Chapter 1

Chapter 1

Bright sun bathed the clearing, highlighting the buildings of a small village surrounded by trees. There was a quiet tension in the people, a feeling of unknown dread. The previous day had been interrupted by a man from the neighbouring tribe coming and trying to intimidate them into... something. The man was less than clear, ranting and then cast a spell trying to harm one of the tribe' hunters. their wise man had stepped in then and defeated the man, driving him from their area. Unease lingered though, lowering voices to a tense whisper

A detonation of light and sound smashed into the clearing, the screams of the people here faint over the roar of shifting water. Damek stared up seeing in the gaps between the trees the sky afire with coloured light. The sound faded and lights in the sky dimmed but did not disappear. The tribe was in chaos, several people had fainted and one of the elders had died, the shaman said his heart had stopped.

Though naked panic soon faded fear reigned, as the tribe milled around in confusion and fear. None of the normal activities of the tribe were being done, except for a young man on the edge of the tree line.

“Damek do you know what is going on?” An older man spoke to him, a family resemblance between them clear. Damek looked at his father for a long moment, then turned back to his work.

“Why do you think I would have a better idea than anyone else,” he said in a quiet voice.

“I hoped...” Damek knew what is father had hoped. The shaman did not like Damek's father, so much so when as a boy he had shown signs of power the shaman had said there was nothing there. That he had lied was evident to Damek's family, but they couldn't contradict the shaman on this, so they did what they could to help Damek control and hide his abilities. So maybe his father had a point in asking him. Damek closed his eyes and tried to feel outwards with his power. He could feel a heaviness in the air and a faint trembling in the ground. He had felt an earth tremor once and it felt a bit like that, but the air was thick with something, Damek did not know what but he felt afraid.

“The ground is shaking,” he said to his father, “I feel something, but I do not know what.”

This did not really seem to satisfy his father, but he nodded and left Damek with the plants.

The day passed very slowly and by the time the sun had begun to drop low in the sky, much of the fear had faded, at least somewhat. Damek stayed with his plants, not wanting to speak with others in the tribe, but he jerked his head up and around when shouts broke out on the edge of village clearing. The man that had bothered them before was back and there was something strange about him. He was still dressed in ragged clothes with an equally ragged haircut, but his formerly dark eyes shimmered with a silvery light. The shaman quickly came to the front of the people

“I have already told you that you are not welcome here,” the shaman said, glaring at the man, who snarled, raising his hand. Bright light gathered between his clawed fingers, burning into the shamans head. The old man did not even have time to cry out as fire took hold of his head and then there was an explosion. There was not a sound from the people as what was left of the body dropped to the ground, the stench of burned flesh and blood quickly spreading. Damek rose from the crouch he had been in, where he had been tending the plants and herbs grown for the tribe. There was a scream from a child quickly cut off by parents covering their mouth, the rest of the tribe remained silent in shock as the blood spread into a large pool.

“That is the consequence of disobeying a god!” The glowing pulse of power still showed in the eyes of the gaunt man and as he swept his burning eyes across the tribe people recoiled in fear.

Kneel,” he said with a sneer,” or you will share the same fate.”

The the tribe, one by one, fell to their knees, Damek one of the last to follow, his mind whirling. The power emanating from the man was immense, power he had not had the day before. What was going on? The questions stayed in his mind, the new god lit by magical power and the bright lights in the sky.

***

The sun reflected across the great River, shining on the scales of the fish small boats were bringing in for the day. One vessel was at one of the town's docks, but it began to drift as the newest member of the crew missed the thrown rope that would be used to secure it to the shore. As they began to drift from the dock, as recriminations flowed to the boy on the shore, one of the men on the boat focused, blue eyes intent on the water. The boat stopped drifting, bumping the dock and the young man looked around with a faint grimace, seeing the faint combination of awe and fear in the eyes of the people around him. It had been almost 3 years since he had come here, but he suspected he would never truly be a part of the people around him, but he could not return to the home of his birth. The repetitive nature of the work to finish up fishing for the day let his mind wander.

The sun beat down on the small group of children. The five children had wandered from their tribe when playing, and were lost in the hot desert they lived in. At least two hours had passed, but they could not find their way back to the main group.

“We're lost and we're going to die!” The child started crying before the largest child smacked them.

“You will if you keep crying. Stop wasting water.”

“Don't worry, Juhi, there is water not far from here,” one of the children said, blue eyes intent on a point the others could not see.

“What are you talking about, Salil? You still going on with this sensing fantasy?” The large boy sneered, but there was a hint of fear in their eyes. Salil ignored him and, grabbing the tearful child by the hand, walked off towards a small mound of rocks. In the meagre shade the blue-eyed boy went to his knees and began to dig. Several minutes passed, digging in the soft sandy soil difficult.

“I knew you were lying,” there was a shrill edge to the triumphant words that came forth, but the blue eyed boy ignored the other child as he continued to dig, compressing the walls for stability. It only took a few more handfuls of sand before dampness began to seep up, pooling in the cavity and Salil carefully filled his hand with the water and drank. Even hot and with sand iin it, it was the best water he had drunk.

The adults found them there the next day, the children tired and hungry but alive. Shouts and tears from parents and children, but one person, the tribe wise woman, walked over to the small pool of water. Many questions followed and Salil answered what he could. The next day Salil had been moved to the wise woman's tent, her youngest apprentice. However that didn't last long, when Salil became a teen the wise woman admitted she could no longer teach him, his magic outstripping hers as well as focused in a different direction. She sent him north, to the lands of the temples, to a friend of hers that could teach him more.

Salil shook his head to clear the memories, then his eyes widened in shock as the water surged and rose up and something like mental blast of light searing his senses. Shouts and screams of surprise burst from the people around, the water continuing to churn. As he raised his head to look at the sky, Salil's vision cleared leaving the flowing colour against the late afternoon sky clear to his streaming eyes.

That is was magic was obvious, but the wild fluctuations of it made his stomach churn. Like the others Salil scrambled off the boat, fighting the swirling water pull the vessels ashore, lest they sink in the raging river. After that he turned trying to rush into the buildings of the town before being roughly grasped by the arm.

What is going on?” The reddened face of one of the other townspeople glared at him.

I don't know, I am trying to get to so I can help them find out,” Salil said yanking his sore arm from the harsh grip and continued his journey.

Hey!” he heard the man shout, “I wasn't ...” the voice faded into the hubbub of the rest of the townspeople as Salil moved away. He got to his home soon after, pausing to catch his breath before entering the building.

***

The cold, barren lands of the tundra stretched ahead of a pair of figures, a bundled figure of a human and a massive white furred bear. The sky to the south was alight with the colours of the aurora, but unlike the gentle flow of those, these streamed in waves and vortexes across the sky, even sometimes visible during the increasingly brief days.

The heavily clothed figure sighed, sweeping the fur lined hood off her head revealing a head of short dark hair.

“It's not changed at all, Ila. Silaluk won't be pleased and I can't see what we can do” the girl, Anyu, said to her companion, her milky grey eyes going distant as an image of a bear sitting on the , Silaluk was sent to her.

“Now, Ila none of that,” Anyu said with a faint smile that quickly faded into a frown as she turned back to the sky, before turning away. The light had appeared a few days ago along with a massive rush of magic, that had caused their shaman to collapse. Anyu and her fellow apprentice Silaluk had managed to help her, but the old woman was still weak. She soon got back to the collection of huts that was her village. Almost as Anyu walked into the boundaries of the buildings a young man stepped out of one of the huts, but Anyu just shook her head at him and went inside, telling Ila to wait outside.

That bear of yours is going to cause problems at some point, people are scared of” the older boy said, returning to an old complaint.

She hasn't yet, Silaluk and focusing on that isn't going to change our circumstances.”

Silaluk scowled, crouching by the small fire in the centre of the room, but stayed silent for a long moment.

“We have to find out what is causing this,” he said in a quiet voice. Anyu sat by the fire as well, focusing on the flames for a long moment.

“Our duty is to our master and the town. Whatever this is it is far away. I can feel it.”

“Then maybe we have to go find it,” he said looking at her. Anyu remained silent listening to the winds outside, feeling a tug on her mind, she did not think her magic was going to allow any other path.

***

Bright snow blanketed the buildings of a town nestled into the side of a mountain. There was much activity as people went about their days, but on the clearing leading to the path down the mountain a group of people had gathered. Today a group of the clan's young warriors were leaving, travelling to the warm-lands to gain experience and seasoning. Jhotun preferred the cold areas of the world but in this mountainous area peace had mostly reigned for several generations, requiring their young to travel to places less suited for Jhotun inhabitance.

An offshoot of their clan lived in the cold mountains of the eastern land mass where this clan would send their warriors to the area to be blooded, but they had delayed when the flames in the sky appeared and now almost 3 years later were finally sending their green warriors back to the eastern lands. Their kinsman had been reporting more conflict with the humans there, raids on people travelling between villages, a perfect opportunity for the much larger group to get some seasoning.

Of the people gathering one stood out, the only red haired person in the entire group. Perched on a rock near the path down, she was braiding leather around a small carved stone. So focused on the task, she jumped when a tall young man spoke to her.

“Bridget! Are you just going to sit up there and not say goodbye?” He said tilting his head up to talk to her. Bridget ignored him for a moment, tying off the braided leather before jumping down and dusting herself off before turning to the shorter male. Jhotun were often called giants by the those of the warm-lands and the red-head proved that her over 8 feet of hight tall even for her kin. Still the young man in front of her, the eldest son of the Clan Chief, was still young and she suspected he would top her when fully grown. She tied the necklace around his neck.

“People who are getting gifts should be more patient,” she said.

“Trying to magic me?” he said with a combination of amusement and suspicion, as he looked at the rune then frowned as he read it. “Health?

“Yes, it would be ashamed if the great warrior Langer was felled by illness.”

Bridget shook her head at the teen, but before she could reply a blond woman interrupted.

“Don't worry about these pups, me and Geir will keep them from tripping over their own feet and impaling themselves on their weapons. As much of a trial that is going to be.”

Oh come on, Linnae we know how to use our blades,” and it was Linnae's turn to roll her eyes as Bridget laughed. The other woman was shorter and had a more solid build than the red-head, with golden blonde hair and grey eyes.

“There is more to sword work then not sticking yourself with the pointy bit,” she said ,” go talk to your parents, you are going to be gone a while.”

The young Jhotun sighed, then nodded and left. Once Langer had gone to talk to his father Linnae looked at Bridget with a more serious look on her face.

“I will keep an eye on him,” she said putter her hand on the taller woman's shoulder.

“I know,” Bridget said with a sigh, “ still that light bothers me.”

“It makes my skin crawl,” Linnae agreed, “but we can't stop living because of it, if something happens we will deal with it then.”

“Hmm, I suppose I just hope it's that easy.”

Bridget, along with several families watched the group of young warriors depart and she wondered if they felt the same feeling of trepidation.

NaNoWriMo

Well in an attempt to prove my writing prowess (or poor decision making) I will be doing NaNoWriMo. Will post whatever I write.

Untitled Chapter one part one

The first part of the first chapter of my currently untitled story.

Dark clouds gathered in the sky, dulling the afternoon sunlight and quickly beginning to obscure the near mountain peaks. The town of Lamon was busy, due to the harvest celebrations, but today for an autumn storm, a taste of winter to come. Through the busy people a woman moved with purpose towards the edge of town. Many people stopped her to talk, but she always managed to leave the conversation quickly and soon she reached a large house with a large shed near by, the chimney on the side suggesting the forge within, but it was cold today, no smoke rising from its chimney.

The woman walked briskly to the thick wooden door and knocked firmly. She took a moment while she waited to admire the dark wood of the door and the intricate carvings on it and though she could here much movement and talk in the house no one came to the door for a long moment and she began to raise her hand to knock again as the door was almost yanked open. The door was opened by a tall man, his pale blond hair tied back and his strongly boned face, perhaps showing a Jhotun ancestor, was drawn into tight lines.

“Esket, you are here,” there was relief in his voice,” Come in, Fjola is in the main bedroom.”

“Ulric, I am almost surprised you are not with Fjola, is everything alright?”

“Sonja is with her at the moment,” Ulric said, “ still getting ready for the storm and it is taking a bit longer than I expected. You would think we would be used to preparing for them but something always goes wrong.”

Esket reached up and gave the worried man's shoulder a squeeze,”

Go, finish getting ready for the storm, I'll clean up and get a few things prepared then go see Fjola.”

She moved to the kitchen to boil water and clean her hands, getting out some medications to help with the birthing pains. Esket turned at a soft sound behind her and saw a small boy looking at her, with mussed white-blond hair, a smudge of dirt on his cheek and his blue-green eyes wide.

“Olin, child,” she said with a bit of surprise,” why are you looking around like something is going to eat you?” A slightly amused look crossed her face then,

or maybe you are dodging some chores?”

“No...” his quiet voice paused, “Papa and everyone else is busy, they didn't have anything for me to do and Papa said to leave Mama alone. Is something wrong with Mama?”

Esket's eyes softened, of course he would be worrying with everything going on.

“Your mama is fine, its just the baby coming. How about we go and see her? Then I'm sure we can find something for you to do.”

Quickly putting the needed items in a basket Esket then took the young boy's hand and they went to the room beside the kitchen and knocked on the door. It was quickly opened by a honey blonde woman in her late teens.

“Your father said you would be helping today,” the older woman said as she moved into the room, bringing Olin with her.

"Go on," she said to Olin, who quickly went over to his mother who then spoke, "yes Sonja said she would at least be an extra pair of hands," the dark haired woman then turned her attention to her son, who was watching anxiously.

"Is something wrong, Olin?"

"I just didn't know what was going on," he said in a small voice.

“Everything is fine, honey, it's just the baby coming . Sometimes it can be a bit hard, but that is why Esket and Sonja are here to help. Okay?”

He nodded and Fjola looked at her daughter, “Sonja could you take Olin and find Daven, so Olin has something to do? Then come back of course.”

Esket sighed, as the teen girl ushered her brother out of the room, and turned back to the other woman

Well my dear, you definitely have excellent timing for these things. Wasn't last time with Olin enough ?”

A short laugh from the sweating woman followed by a grunt of pain as another contraction hit. It soon passed and Fjola managed to get out, “You know me, Esket, always trying to improve on the last time, though we can hope we won't get snowed in today.”

“Well we can only hope things go as smoothly with this one and that the town is still standing afterward.”

These are the round robin stories that we wrote

One

It was like nothing they had seen. The handwriting was absolutely atrocious. It meant long hours and hard-work if they were ever to expect such a poor pupil to amount to anything. No spell would ever function properly if its runes were illegible; even a minor grammatical error could render a lethal curse into a love potion.

Things were looking grim for the unnaturally low IQ pupil, measures had to be taken to ensure success. A complete insertion of the philosophers stone was needed to be driven straight into his brain.

We strapped the ignoramus down onto the table.

“Stop screaming,” I chided, thwacking my gloves. I then pulled out a needle, its point several inches long with a chamber full of pulsing green fluid. All good magic fluid was green... and glowed.

I rammed the needle into his whinging neck and pushed down hard on the plunger. The twit screamed in pain. Excellent!

Focusing on what was to be done, blood flew and saws cut.”I don’t know what you are complaining about. This is hard-work you know,” but the ungrateful wretch thrashed and screamed.

Then he got really pathetic. Apparently the use of wild cannibalistic badgers was too painful. The creaming got louder and more blood-curdling.

“We might need to buy some earmuffs,” I yelled over the tortured cries.

Then he dropped dead.

Two

Its not every day your own father joins the realm of the walking dead, then rocks up at your house determined to eat you. And today was not that day, because he was still out in the fields, bumping into the old tractor and groaning with frustration his green-veined eye trained on our door. The cows edged away, though a calf had tugged his arm off.

Several hours passed, and we found that he had yet to move any closer after being knocked down by stepping on a rake. Without his arm he could not get up from the lawn. Fear inevitable faded to ideas of ingenuity and he was propped up onto an electric treadmill attacked to the generator.

My father's plodding, lurching steps moved the treadmill with deceptive speed. It had dropped out electricity bill to almost nothing, but then the trouble started. The Zombie Workers Union found us.

How were we meant to know we needed a permit to exploit a member of the walking dead. Apparently there was a form that needed to be filled in, in triplicate.

So we decided it was too much trouble. So we turned him loose, but two days later we received a ticked. For littering! To wit one zombie. I knew we shouldn’t have stencilled out address on him.

Now we had to hand over $500 all because we didn't think to remove the line '13 Rivertrout Road, Cantra Feilds' from the back of my father's bald head. Unbelievable! And look, now he just stepped in dog poo. This day just gets better each moment. What is going to happen next? He might as well just drop dead... again.

As I stood, glaring at him through the glass window, my mother brought over a tray of freshly baked cookies. I eyed her off thoughtfully, perhaps she would have made a better zombie slave

Three

Jean saw the red robin sitting on the window still, singing sweetly to the dawn. As the melody danced through the glass pane one couldn’t help but notice how positively annoying the repetitive sound was. It was then that she decided that she hated dawn. Hated it, hated it she did – almost as much as she hated being deaf. Although, she mused, not having to listen to her little sister screeching like a banshee at 2am in the morning was a sure improvement. But there were drawbacks as well. Like not being able to tell if someone was yawning or screaming.

Still the best part of being deaf was that she didn’t fall victim to the sound plague that ate away at the sanity of anyone in the southern hemisphere with full hearing. The sound plague got the robin too. She saw its head turn, its ears bleed and its claws lose their grip on the branch. Her sister went next.

It was probably for the best, now she had complete access to her extensive collection of Braille orchestral pieces by Bach. So as civilisation collapsed around, plaster periodically falling in puffs of dust as the sound plague hit in waves, Jean could enjoy her soundless music, ignoring the screaming mass outside her window, except for occasional pot shots at the sound maddened mob.

At least she could until the walls started to collapse around her. Bugger. She forgot how much power sound waves have. She looked back at the window just as it exploded. And so passed the world, without a bang or a whimper. Just a gurgle.

Four

It all started in the least exciting and dramatic way possible. Yes, the apocalypse happened whilst my friends and I were having a Disney movie marathon. We were just getting to the part where Aslan was going to devour the white witch, but then the room blacked out. A Black Out! I’ve never been so frightened since that time I watch Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

I held perfectly still, my breath coming in short, shallow gasps. Around me, my friends giggled, oblivious to the danger that lurked in the room with us. The white witch was here. She stepped into the room, a massive imposing figure seven feet of tall malevolent graces. She was beautiful, she was deadly, she was a... transvestite?

TV static still dripped from her fingers and hair. I tried to remember when she turned good at the end of the story or not. I feared not. She reached back into the still rippling screen and pulled out a box of Turkish delights filled instead with hand grenades.

She threw the grenades across the room towards us. Finally my quick thinking paid off as I raced to the kitchen. I squeezed into the fridge, closing the door just as the explosion rocked the house. I held on tightly as the fridge took off through the roof, into the night sky.

Like Wolverine, and Indiana Jones, I was a fast healing mutant with an adamantium skeleton which saved my life. However, I was shocked to the find the White Bit... I mean Witch right in front of me. There truly was no justice in the universe.

The White Witch smiled as she juggled one last hand grenade. I could tell I was a goner. There was just nowhere to hide. She reached to throw... and slipped on the gooey remains of my best friend. I pulled out my vorpal blade and snickety snack, slicked off her legs. Then I poured a bucket of water over her, because as everyone knows, water is acid to aliens and witches.

She screamed, twisting around in pain. Like a legless person shaped ice-cube she melted, becoming nothing but a puddle on the ground. I sighed looking around at the destruction around me. I knew we should have watched The Lion King.

Five

A fierce growl emanated from behind the wine cellar door. The bartender raised his bat and said,

“Free drinks for any volunteers.”

Gunhilda, a Viking from across the Iron Sea, pulled her knife out of an inebriated farmhand's hand and raised her own hand. She hadn't killed anything in three days and needed to keep in shape. The farmhand fainted.

Unfortunately, the bartender never specified that the drinks would only be available afterwards. Gunhilda drover her knife into the nearest ale barrel, drinking its entire contents. After a, ladylike, belch she turned to the protesting bartender and her glazed, drunken... psychotic eyes had him fall silent. This is when the table was smashed over poor Gunhilda's head.

The bartender looked at the pale grey eyes of the thing holding the table. It looked sort of human, but way bigger and lumpier. It smiled at him with a toothy grin, drool dribbling down its massive chin. The bartender gulped. Tentacles emerged and the horror from a time that man knew not of stood tall, slime dripping to the ground. The bartender bad barely time to scream before he was ripped in two.

Which was rather gruesome. Like seriously some poor individual was now going to have to clean the bloody mess up. There usually aren't many volunteers for those kind of jobs. But when you need a tough job like this done right you need MR. Maxwell's cleaning aid.

Hi I'm Ben Harris and I'm here to tell your about a new miracle product that will help you turn a mess like this (camera pans over dismembered bar patrons) into a room like this
(camera pans to pure white Valhallan halls).

Six

Geoff rose gingerly, every bone in his body aching. He had no idea why he was in such pain. Last night was a complete blank. Geoff looked around where he was, seeing a grimy room, a single bed with water stains on it and a broken window, through which a cold wind blew.

What the... a distant knocking broke his like of thought. Shivering he walked to the plain metal door. Locked. He placed his ear on its cold surface hoping to hear the source of the knock. No, seriously. There is nothing more ominous and suspicious than the random knocking of a door.

“ Oh, coming?” he called, hesitant.

A gaunt pan in a suit stepped through the door and headed straight to the living room. Geoff had no choice but to follows this strange intruder. The man was sitting on the couch and gestured for Geoff to sit next to him. As soon as Geoff was seated the man said

“Mr. Steel are you ready?”

“Ready for what?”

“Ready to accept Jesus as your lord and saviour.”

The man open a silver attache case and removed a large syringe with a plunger shaped like a crucifix. Inside Geoff could see a mixture of red wine and bread crumbs. He was about to get very close to Jesus indeed.

The wall shattered as Jesus rode in on his chariot, pulled by two majestic badgers. Jesus raised his aviator glasses.

“Are you ready Geoff?” he said in a smooth baritone voice.

Geoff looked around in nonplussed silence for a moment before turning to the man on the couch.

“I don't need to,” he said, “ as you can see... I've already found Jesus.”

He woke up heart pounding, sweat covering his body. Thank god, it was only a dream. Then he saw the badgers at the foot of his bead.

Seven

Atticus pulled the lever and the air-lock doors opened, sucking the oxygen out into space, but the egg remained where it was. He shouted in frustration, banging several more times on the airlock button as the blast door behind him shook apart, his last like of defence.

The chittering of the pursuing creatures grew closer as Atticus glared in impotent rage at the egg and then the beasts behind the thrice-damned blast doors. There was little choice now, maybe just maybe he had enough time. He gently placed his backpack on the deck and slowly opened it. Time was short, but he mustn't rush. He had to move slowly and very, very carefully.

He set the timer carefully, setting the nuclear device up. The tell tales showed it was functional. Beep. Beep. Beep. It began to slowly count down one integer at a time. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep... Beep......Beep......Beeep. Each beep seemed to get long as it went. So he stopped, sat down and replied to all these text messages. Never mind, it was only his mum.

Once again, he focused on the beeps. It started to speed up, the beeps pumping out a familiar rhythm. It sounded familiar. He checked the device, damn he picked up the stereo instead of the nuke. But he knew what he must do. As the chittering hoard rounded the corner his focus gathered. He started to move. He started to DANCE!

For the creatures were in fact the physical manifestation of those pop-star arcade games where you have to follow dance moves, and when they emerged they immediately paused to rate his performance in terms of timing, accuracy and general panache. He danced for them like a monkey for an organ grinder as the device silently went nuclear in the airlock.

Eight

He took the leap of faith, drawing his blade with a shout. His first thrust caused sparks to fly as it met its blocking opponent. He smashed forward with his shield, knocking his opponent off balance, breaking a nail in the process.

Staggering back the enemy desperately tried to block with his shield, but Gral the mighty, slayer of the dragon Acid-breath, seducer of women, once read a book, smashed at him again. His foe was stated to falter, to panic. You could tell by the look of sheer 'omg-this-bloody-idiot-is-about-to-win' painted upon the opponent’s face. He lunged again like a sword-wielding ballerina.

Okay that’s enough, he thought, its time to show off this devastating move I've been saving. With an all mighty battle cry he pivoted on his heel, sword swinging, and promptly crash landed on he face. Standing over him, Gral gave a toothy grin.

“Better luck next time aye, Barry?”

“No no no no. Just let me get up and then you stand there. Right. And I'll do my thing again. Ok?” said Barry. Gral nodded and went and stood in his position, sword at the ready. Barry got to his feet and drew his second sword from his back, and then said to himself, right don't cock it up this time.

What he was trying to do was set his sword on fire with his mind, but a certain amount of concentration was needed. At the moment all he could summon was a couple of LEDs in the hilt, and frankly they weren't adding to his attack damage.

He began to concentrate with all his might, bringing the power of the sun into his blade, destroying the dragon. The excess sun powered the near by town for a decade and he became like a god. Gral was very impressed.

Nine

Blood pooled in gory puddles on the marble floor, slowly drying around the fallen bodies and staining skin, clothes and wings red. It was a pity really. The angels were beautiful when they were alive. Now they just looked...well, dead. Not to mention to red. Red didn't suit them at all.

“Oh well, off to work,” I said, picking up my shovel. I started to dig a grave for the angels. Dig, dig, dig. After much effort a hole was made, into which went the angels. One by one I rolled them in, folding the wings in every which way to create the perfect fit. A bit like Tetris really only with more blood and feathers.

When his job was done, he took out his knife and killed himself, just as all the other angels did. Or attempted to anyway. Stabbing himself in the heart was no easy task apparently. First, he had to muster the willpower. Which was no easy matter. An angels free will was like a heard of drunken Glaswegians after a football match. Erratic, violent and hard to muster is what I am trying to get at really.

He pulled his halo off and tried to sharpen the edge of the knife on it, but the blade just melted. He frisbeed the halo into the hole with the angels, and its golden light went out. Suddenly he was feeling a whole lot less virtuous.

Suddenly, with little warming, the angels rose from the grave.

“You gave up your halo for us, we are in your debt.” And everyone began to dance.

Thus the age old question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin was answered.

Prologue of Untitled

Prologue

The room was filled frenetic but quiet activity, clothes, books and other items quickly packed. D'miyah sighed, raising a weary hand to cover her eyes. She then began to ascend the delicate spiral stairs to the next level. The clear pillar the stairs surrounded were filled with swirling colour, blending and twisting as she passed, spreading iridescent colour over the bronze and copper scales around her eyes. D'miyah ignored the now common sight of the transparent column, as she rose through the tower rooms and entered the top level, the mingled smells of blood and incense reached her nose. The circular room was almost barren, with empty shelves and bare tables throughout. The light let through the windowed walls shone harshly into the empty room, as D'miyah walked around until she reached the only area that looked inhabited.

Standing in a series of intricately carved and painted circles was a short man, hands above his head and silvery hair damply clinging to head and neck. The tender undersides of his raised arms had bleeding cuts on them, drops of blood standing out brightly against the pale skin and green scales. The sounds of a quiet chant reached D'miyah's ears as she walked closer falling silent with a flash of light and the crack of his hands meeting. The lines on the ground glowed for a few seconds then faded.

“We are almost ready to leave, H’soka.” D'miyah said, walking past the circles to a crib sitting over near the wall. She saw that the baby was sleeping peacefully and some of the tension melted from her shoulders as she turned back to face H'soka. He walked over to a cluttered table near and began to treat the wounds on his arms before speaking.

“That is good, the elementals have almost all left already,” he said back, stepping closer to her. D’miyah frowned and started to say something then stopped.

“I had noticed,” she finally said instead stroking carefully along the baby’s head. H’soka placed a clawed hand onto her shoulder and, after a moment, she placed her hand over his.

“I know you want to take K’yoshi with you,” H’soka said after a moment,” I want you to take him with you, but the geas...”

“Why did your family agree to it? All it has done is make the situation more difficult now,” D’miyah responded turning to face H’soka.

“It has its benefits and my people wanted to make sure this place would be protected. So you cannot take him with you. It would be pulling at him as soon as he could walk, driving him here or mad. He needs time to train so he can deal with the magic flow safely.”

“I know,” D’miyah snapped, then continued more quietly, “I know.”

“Then let’s enjoy what time we have left, I need rest and so do you before you leave.”

She left the next morning, travelling away from the approaching dust cloud, only speaking when needed to direct the group. Leaving H’soka behind, leaving their son in the arms of the water elemental Katsia, had been the hardest thing she had ever done. Even knowing that the Elemental Lords would be taking care of her son was small comfort and as for H’soka... No, little comfort was to be had. The group travelled carefully, carrying their belongings and information for how the tribes were to deal with the enemy left. D’miyah also had other instructions, ones she was going to need for her son in the future. They reached a slight rise in the rock and sand around them shortly before noon.

This is far enough, so settle down and get comfortable. This might take a while.” D'miyah directed the group set up some shade and to settle into hidden positions to watch the Tower and the encroaching army. It took only minutes to conceal themselves, even with conversation kept to a minimum. They watched the Ahmarian army slowly drew closer to the shining tower of the World Spring. The tension grew palpable as the distance shrunk, but the group stayed quiet and still. Near sunset D’miyah could see scouts exploring the base of the Tower , though none had entered. The sky began to shift to red with the sinking sun as the rest of the army followed.

The rest of the army began to settle around the base of the tower, the shifting colours highlighting their movements. Only moments after they began to settle a bright white light shone from the tower. The beam of luminous beam pulsed, still for a few moments. Then, as the soldiers noticed, it spread to the earth in a curtain of iridescent light. The curtian swung 'round slicing a swath through the closest people. The heat created a blast of wind, obscuring the tower in a veil of sand save for the blade of light. The clearing dust showed a growing lake of molten glass and clouds of steam blown by blasting winds as water barrels exploded. A few people broke free from shock, most fleeing but a few small groups of mages started throwing up shields. As the spreading radience touched their defences it they just disappeared, those distant enough to not be enveloped and disintegrated, withering and dying, leaving streaks of colour to flow up the glow. It was obvious that the deaths were producing magic that was sucked up into the tower itself. As more and more flowed into the light it slowed, the stopped. A few moments passed, then the beam snapped back into the tower, shining so bright it hurt the eyes, before shooting upwards leaving the tower itself dark.

The light spread across the dark sky in a lattice work of rainbow colours, which soon began to rain down, turning the dark sand into a field of stars. The army formations finally disintegrated, fleeing , some small groups sticking together, but most simply ran, attacking any that stood in their path, leaving trampled bodies in their wake. Pack animals and the injured wandered around overturned wagons, dropped supplies and other wreckage that surrounded the now cooling, but still glowing lake of smooth glass.

D'miyah imagined she could hear the cries of the fallen from here, carried by the constant winds of the desert. One of the flecks of light landed on her hand, she stared at it feeling sick, knowing many had died tor this enchantment.. After a moment, as the speck faded, she took a deep breath and began to count the remaining soldiers.

“Looks like about a third were killed,” said the voice of her second in command beside D’miyah.

“Looks like,” D’miyah said back, then shook her head,” the rest won’t be too far behind I would imagine. Not without water or food.” She spent a moment to watch the chaos before her, spread around the now dark Tower of the World Spring, then sighed.

They aren’t going to get organised any time soon if ever, let’s get out of here. It’s done.”

The Question

Reading through some old threads on some sights i like and was struck by how right this question was.


Not surprisingly, I have a story? It’s pretty long, and I’m sorry. My husband, Doctor Glass, recently went on a weeklong workshop. The participants worked on teams, slept in a dormitory, shared meals and spent all day together. While there, Dr Glass acquired a strikingly beautiful female friend, who was absolutely luminous – like a fallen star or a revolutionary. She was also just about to enter university, making her very much younger than Dr Glass. They were on the same team, had much in common, and seemed to enjoy each other.

However, there was a twenty-something dude on the course who, according to Dr Glass, “made things awkward.” Immediately, he tried to make the workshop all about his pantsfeelings for Luminous Girl. Although he was on a different team, he was constantly buzzing around Dr Glass and Luminous Girl, getting in their way (which was dangerous and distracting, as they were doing physical labor) and trying to get her to talk to him, work with him, come over and look at his work, etc. In return she tried to ignore him, laughed him off politely, repeatedly referenced her desire to do her work, physically moved away whenever he got close to her, and stuck like glue to Dr Glass; saying NO in all those thousand little pleasant ways that women are trained to do. Awkward Dude tried to impress her with physical activity, but Dr Glass cut him off because he was being distracting. Confused and annoyed, Awkward stepped up his Game, trying to impress her with his intellectual cred, and it went down like a lead zeppelin, with Luminous and Dr Glass resuming their own work and conversations. So Awkward started loudly asking wasn’t Dr Glass married?!

At this, Awkward Dude attempted to kill Dr Glass with his laser-eyeballs at every turn, lurking and glaring and pining like a bad Snape impersonator. (Dr Glass wasn’t sure why he was suddenly the target of the resulting animosity, as he clearly had no romantic interest in Luminous, until I explained it to him: Dude had decided that the reason Luminous Girl was not sleeping with him was because she was the Possession of Another Male, and further, a Male who Already Had His Fair Share of Females; thus Dr Glass was the enemy for not shunning her and leaving a clear path for fellow males. “Oh,” said Dr Glass in sudden revelation, “That makes sense, I guess.”)

But the guy persisted – it wasn’t that Luminous didn’t like him! It was that she was clearly in thrall of my husband. The solution was to get her alone! So whenever they sat down to a lecture, Luminous, practically dragging Dr Glass by the arm, would move like lightning to position herself between him and a safe wall – with her lovely admirer circling them and glaring, loudly asking Dr Glass about his Wife Back Home. Awkward Dude implied that Dr Glass was creepy and odd for always hanging out with a girl half his age. Awkward Dude was annoyed that the course director, an older woman who should presumably know better, had assigned dorm space based on teams, so that Dr Glass and Luminous bunked in adjacent rooms (while he, Awkward Dude, was in the wing with the married couples!) because it was inappropriate and wrong to place a married man next to a teenaged female. On a particularly cold day, Dr Glass noticed that Luminous did not have warm clothing, and lent her an extra hoodie. It happened to have his name on it; Awkward Dude practically ignited, to the point where even the other people on the course were laughing awkwardly at him and saying “Uh, she’s… allowed to wear clothes?”

Luminous and Dr Glass both liked hiking, so one evening after dinner, they went out for a hike by themselves – not inviting the others in case Awkward Dude got wind of their plans. (“I mean, it sounds cruel, but I just hated him,” Dr Glass said.) It was after curfew when they walked back to their rooms,and the halls were completely dark; Dr Glass hung back to fill his water bottle. When he got to the rooms, at the end of the corridor, Luminous had been cornered by Awkward Dude. When Awkward spotted Dr Glass, he yelled at him about how inappropriate it was to go hiking alone with Luminous. Luminous seized the opportunity to flee to her room, locking the door. “I think it’s inappropriate to police her hiking,” Dr Glass said mildly and went to bed.

The next day was the last day of the course, and Dr Glass had had enough. Awkward Dude was “trying it on” in front of the whole group, making everyone uncomfortable. He had dragged Luminous into yet another unwanted conversation and Dr Glass called him out, in front of everybody, a deadly blow to Awkward’s pride. Awkward Dude tried to appeal to the group – he was only trying to be friendly – but Dr Glass had him up against the ropes, metaphorically, he’d broken the floodgates, and everyone began to laugh at Awkward instead: the old married couples, the other young men, and Luminous.

“I really feel bad about that, actually,” Dr Glass said. He hadn’t really wanted to humiliate the younger man in front of everybody, especially since his only crime had been really inept flirting. Was it really Dr Glass’s place to speak for Luminous? Perhaps he’d made a big deal out of nothing. But Dr Glass didn’t regret it. He just felt odd. He didn’t know why he’d been so savage over something so banal as Awkward’s favorite movie. He was pretty sure that he didn’t regard Luminous as a possession, or something to be protected. He’d just snapped.

“OH MY GOD,” I replied, “WHY DIDN’T YOU DO MORE? WHAT A FUCKING CREEPER!”

Well, Dr Glass wanted to assume good intentions on everyone’s part. They’d all lived together, after all, eaten together, worked together. Emotions had run high. It would have been pretty terrible for the Dude if he’d been ostracized right at the beginning, just because he wasn’t very good at talking to girls. After all, he was there for the workshop. They all were.

“AAAAH,” I wound down, “But what Luminous? WHOSE WORKSHOP WAS RUINED BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T FEEL SAFE?! She couldn’t just relax and enjoy spending time with you/her other new friends/nature – she practically had to have a bathroom buddy! He didn’t even let her focus on the work she was PAYING MONEY to do! You did not cross a line! HE CROSSED THE FUCKING LINE!”

Dr Glass totally agreed. But he still felt oddly uncomfortable about it all, as if there was something there to regret, like he was missing a piece of the puzzle. And then I asked The Question. And after I asked The Question, his face changed. He looked sick. “I didn’t think of that.” After The Question, he wished he’d been more explicit – gone to the course director. Been there more for Luminous. The good intentions that he wanted to assume, the passes he was willing to give the other man, evaporated, completely. They had evaporated for me, halfway through the story.

When I tell this story to women, they spot The Question right away. The men don’t; they think that Dr Glass behaved like a gentleman, neither doing too much nor too little. They are feminist men, and good people. They have read “The Gift of Fear” and they talk about privilege and the patriarchy, and they don’t spot it.

The Question is this: Why Was Awkward Dude Waiting For Her In The Dark?

Earlier in the story we heard that his own room was far away from hers. It was dark, at the end of a dark hall. He was waiting there, after midnight, with the lights off. HE HAD BEEN WAITING FOR HER IN THE DARK AT THE END OF A DARK HALL AFTER CURFEW, HE KNEW SHE HAD GONE OUT AND HE WAS WAITING FOR HER TO COME BACK. He was angry when he realized that she wasn’t alone. And Luminous was afraid – bolting into her room. Locking the door. And the women go HOLY FUCK WHAT IS THAT as soon as they hear about the atmosphere, and the men just accept it as another anecdote of Awkward Dude’s awkwardness, you know? Because how rude/silly/inept to pester a woman about hiking with another man! While the women are going BAD INTENTIONS BAD INTENTIONS FUCK SHIT THAT WOULD NOT HAVE ENDED WELL. And then you point out The Question to the men, and wait a while, and they suddenly go OH. OH MY GOD. WHY WAS HE WAITING FOR HER IN THE DARK. THAT’S – THAT’S PRETTY FUCKING SKETCHY. Everything changes. Dude-sympathy is gone. They put on the Matrix-goggles and peer into the world that apparently only women see. Awkward cornered Luminous in the dark after curfew at the end of the hall when he thought she was alone and he had a lot of anger and when my husband showed up he read Luminous as afraid and she ran into her room and locked the door. That is the reality. The good intentions, they are not there. Perhaps Awkward would have said that they were, that we, in our paranoia, are seeing rape in every dark corner. Perhaps he was trying to apologize for his previous behavior, or lend her a book, or make sure that she got back safely from her hike… so he’d chosen to do so alone, in the dark, making her afraid. That was what had been bothering Dr Glass. He wasn’t wearing the Goggles of Feminine Intuition, but he picked up on the signals that something wasn’t right. Seeing the Question doesn’t make you paranoid – it means your instincts are working.

If you live in the world of women, it isn’t your duty to educate everybody, to hand-hold and explain, to pass out Matrix-goggles. It’s Situation Normal: All Fucked Up. But perhaps you, Letter Writers, have good men, men who just need to wear the goggles.

That’s not really what I think, but our society is fucked up. I’ll assume good intentions on their part. Maybe it will help.

Rape culture in a nutshell that is.