The GodForSaken City
(a chapter from Kelim and the Necromancer)
Quaraun, glided gracefully across the room, to stand beside the pretty young wife. The Elf cupped his hand under her chin and pulled her face close to his.
"Dear sweet, pretty girl. Your husband was right. You ARE very beautiful. Not as pretty as me, but still, lovely just the same. Do you know what happens to someone when they lose their soul?"
"No," the girl squeaked, sounding terrified.
"They die, ever so slowly. They turn into a Nzambie. They start to eat everything and everyone around them. Their need to drink blood and eat brains becomes insatiable. And in your case..."
Quaraun's gaze moved to the young woman's pregnant belly. He slid his hand from her chin, down her breast, stopping on her belly.
"Your baby will not survive. It's soul, is connected to yours. It's soul will go with your soul, out of your body, and into me. I'm a soul eater now. A side effect of being soul bound to a Lich. Half my soul is dead. Half his soul lives in me. Half my in him. But he died. Now I drink blood. I eat brains. Because I was in love, and I bound my soul to his. I was not careful with my wish. I didn't think of the consequences. Why would I? I was young and foolish. I will be beautiful forever. Immortal. Unageing. But at a terrible price. I wished for love. Eternal love. Love that would never die and would last forever. Your father can't kill me. Though he and his men, may try. But I can never die. Not while the Lich lives. I tried to warn your husband. I told him what had happened to me and what would happen to him and you, if he carried out his wish. But he said he didn't care. Said he would have you at any price. He said you were his. But you didn't love him. So he needed me, to cast a love spell. Grant his wish. He got his wish. But he didn't pay me. you've had three glorious years of bliss. But every wish has a price. Payment is due today."
Quaraun let go of the girl.
"I didn't hire you." She pleaded. "Deal with my husband, not me. You can't force me to agree to any of this."
"Your husband was unusual. Most care not for their soul. They will gladly sell it for love. But you he tried so hard to get you to love him, and you never noticed he was alive. Desperate, he came to me. He wanted your love. He wanted your hand in marriage. But he wasn't willing to give up his soul. He loved himself, far greater than he loved you. He wanted you to love him, as much as he loved himself. But he did not desire to love you in return. No man who loves a woman, offers the price, your husband offered."
"What did he offer?"
"YOUR soul. And the souls of whomever were with you when I arrived. And look how many are here. Half your father's kingdom is here to celebrate your child's birth."
"We can pay you money. My father is wealthy..."
"I am Quaraun, The Pink Necromancer. Your father's wealth is but a pittance next to mine. And I'm the most powerful sorcerer the world has ever known, I can get more money, whenever I need it. I've no need for your money. I need things that can not be so easily got. I need souls. I am the most beautiful being ever born. How old do you think I look?"
"You look very young. Younger than me."
"I know. And yet I am more than 750 years old. Elves should only live 400 years. I'm twice the age I should be. And I've not aged in 500 years. I am immortal and I have eternal beauty and I have love that can never die even though my lover is now dead. That's what I wished for. But it came at a price. I eat souls to survive and maintain my eternal, youthful beauty. I need your soul. I'm not evil. I don't want to hurt your unborn child. I don't want to take your soul."
"Too late. You don't have a choice."
"Because I don't have a choice," the Moon Elf said, shaking his head. "People who play with magic, wishes, and souls like they children's toys, eventually learn the error of their folly. I must survive. I don't want to die. I warned your husband to never sign a contract without reading it first. Especially not one written by a Necromancer." Quaraun turned to the man. "You are a fool. Prove to me you act on love not lust, I said, you have not done that. You selfish dick. A child already born and another on the way. Had you loved her, you would have waited, like you agreed to do in the contract. Ten years with no sex, and your souls would have been free. No longer bound to me. Prove your love was not lust, by never having sex with her. Prove you loved her, more than you loved yourself. You couldn't do it. And payment is due on this the first birthday of your first child. You never loved her. You just wanted to sink your dick into her warm flesh. A man who loves would never sell the one he loves to save himself. You know nothing of love..."
The girl looked to her husband: "What have done?"
"It's not like he says, he's lying. He tricked me."
"I deceived no one. You were too fast to save your own ass at any cost. Today is the first birthday of your first born child. Ten years have not yet passed. You couldn't live with her, for ten years, without sex. Prove to me you loved her and didn't just lust after her. Had sex never happened, the spell I cast would have erased itself 10 years from the day you signed it."
"Quaraun," the young mother pleaded. "Please, I made no deal with you. I have no part in this. Please have pity."
And such was life for Quaraun.
An endless need to collect souls.
Before binding his soul to BoomFuzzy's, Quaraun had never done anything evil, illegal, or even remotely bad. Nor would he have. This was the price he had paid for eternal love. A price that he didn't truly understand, until his lover commit suicide to become a Lich.
Now he was alone. Soul bound to an undead creature, that was making it's way across the planet decimating villages, slaughtering everyone in it's path. And Quaraun, followed it, hunted it, in and endless search to find the Lich and destroy it. Kill it. Free himself of it's grasp. Gloomy. Disappointed, and eternity unhappy. Quaraun wandered the world aimlessly. Always two steps behind the Lich. The Lich always eluding him, for it had part of his soul, and so, just as he always knew what the Lich was about to do, so too, did the Lich always know what Quaraun did.
The Lich was no longer the man, he had loved. It was an undead creature incapable of feeling love or mercy, or even remembering that it had once been alive, once been in love.
As the Lich became more soulless, so to, did Quaraun require more souls to stay alive.
The hopelessness of endless despair constantly crushing his mind. The Lich was out, killing again. Quaraun could feel it. He hated that he could feel it. Feel the joy the Lich felt as it obliterated towns, slaughtering with out mercy. Everything the Lich felt as it raped and murdered and plundered and destroyed everything in it's path, Quaraun felt, and it was killing him. Quaraun needed to drown it out.
Quaraun stared at the bottle of Green Fairy Wine. It's minty, anise fragrance lulled him to it. A flavour as heavenly as it smelled. But even that came with a price. More drug than alcohol, Absinthe clouded his mind with hallucinations. The consequences of the delightful aromatic wine, was a clouded mind.
The deliriously unhappy, lonely, heartbroken Elf didn’t want to deal with a hallucination right now.
Hallucinations had become a regular part of Quaraun’s life these days. Besides drowning out the Lich, he had pain of his own he wanted to erase.
Quaraun's health was not well. He had immortality. But immortality did not mean, life without suffering. Life without pain. Quite the contrary. The aches and pains of old age, creaked through Quaraun's muscles and bones. But one pain, worried him most of all.
The pain in his head grew worse. It was a pain he had lived with since childhood. A Thullid parasite lived in his head, burrowed deep inside his brain, slowly eating it as it grew bigger, hollowing out the Elf’s body and taking over.
The thought of the Thullid in his head and what it was doing to him, depressed him. He didn’t like thinking about it. He pretended it wasn't there. He pretended he was still an Elf, that somewhere inside him, Quaraun the Elf still existed. He knew this wasn't true.
Quaraun the Elf had died centuries ago.
Quaraun the Thullid was simply replicating his life, pretending to be the Elf, Quaraun had once been.
To the innocent eye Quaraun appeared to be travelling with nothing.
Nothing at all.
Anyone meeting him on the street would presume him nothing more than an empty handed wandering merchant, for a merchant is what the heartbroken Moon Elf told people he was. He had begun avoiding telling people who he was. The rumours about him were too wide spread now.
Every one knew the name of Quaraun the Insane, but few knew what the hermit Necromancer looked like or how he dressed.
The fact that the lonely Elf Necromancer was a transvestite and easily mistaken for female was not mentioned in any of the rumours, nor was the fact that the mournful Elf wore eye-popping pink.
Somehow, people neglected to mention these facts when spreading their slanderous lies about Quaraun.
And so as long as no one knew his name, the nervous little Elf could pass safely through a village without striking terror into the hearts of those he passed, simply because they were on the lookout for an evil Moon Elf Wizard, not an elegant, Northern High Elf princess.
Quaraun was cloaked in pink silk regalia.
Dripping with glittering embroidered hearts.
Massively encumbered in pink and verdant gemstone jewellery.
And carrying nothing but a minuscule beaded pink heart-shaped purse.
Quaraun looked every bit the aristocratic princess, he acted like he was. If the gloomy little Necromancer didn’t speak, you couldn’t tell he wasn’t a female Elf.
Quaraun was not trying to be a female, nor did he pass himself off as one. He simply liked the fashions women wore and saw no reason why he couldn’t dress the same way. His voice did give his natural gender away.
The shy, secluded, quiet Elf didn’t deny being a male if anyone asked. But with his social anxiety and selective mutism issues, the grief stricken Elf rarely spoke to anyone. Thus few knew that this lady in pink finery was in fact the world’s most remarkably formidable and most exceedingly powerful wizard.
The primary problem with the way Quaraun dressed was the fact that most women did not actually dress like the reclusive little Moon Elf did. He dressed like a prostitute. Or at least, he dressed like what Human men considered being a harlot.
In these times when sumptuary laws forbid females from wearing the kind of clothes Quaraun wore, only prostitutes dared wear such garb.
Silks and cottons were exceedingly rare and in most places excessively taboo.
Each of Quaraun dresses was embroidered with enough gems and pearls to buy a country.
Quaraun had so many jewels on his dresses that he made King Edward III look dull and drab and everyone agreed that that was hard to do.
Once men got done gawking at his clothes, the next thing they noticed was his long, silken, luxuriant bum length silver hair, which the skittish little Elf left unplaited, uncut, unstyled, and spent three hours every morning brushing until it gleamed and flowed fluid as silk.
Human women kept their hair tamed somehow.
Husband-less women braided their hair and twisted it into ram’s horns.
Espoused women did the same but wore a veil to let men know they were owned.
Only prostitutes wore their hair long and loose, a sign to men that they were both single and available with eagerly open legs.
Unfortunately Quaraun was an Elf, not a Human, and he knew little of Human ways or Human laws, and was unaware that by dressing as he did and keeping his hair long and lose, Human men assumed him to be a prostitute begging for every man in the village to fuck her. This led to Quaraun having been raped or nearly raped on many occasions.
Most horny Humans left him alone once they realized the stupid little Moon Elf was a male, but others didn’t care and raped him any ways.
Once men got past seeing the clothes which said prostitute and the hair which also said prostitute, they saw his face. Everyone had always said Quaraun was the most beautiful being ever born.
All Elves were beautiful, it was why their entire race was so vain, but even other Elves were envious of Quaraun’s looks. He had an unnatural beauty that took the breath away from anyone who laid eyes on him. The end result was every male he meet, Elves, Humans, Dwarves, Thullid, and Gnomes alike, wanted to jump in bed with Quaraun and expected to be able to do so, thinking that the timid little Moon Elf was both a female and a whore.
Quaraun could get help from any male he meet, in any village. He was the most exceptionally beautiful Elf any one had ever laid eyes on and he knew it.
Boy did he know it.
Quaraun excelled at these things.
He made an art of these things.
It was his entherial good looks that made him so damned arrogant, stuck up and pompous.
And with everyone thinking he was a female, the silver haired, pearly skinned, azure eyed Elf had males everywhere eating out of his hands, lining up and begging to serve him, just to get a close up glimpse of his astounding beauty.
This often lead to trouble, as men were rarely content just to look at the mesmerizing beautiful Elf and usual the men expected Quaraun to repay their help with sex.
In every town he entered, Quaraun ran up against someone who wanted to rape him and was bold enough to try.
Quaraun was very small and very thin, and was every bit at frail as he looked. Standing only 5'6″ tall, most women were taller than he was. Elves were usually very tall. Quaraun was always the shortest Elf anyone had ever seen. Most Humans were taller then he was, not just their men, but their women too, in fact their children were often taller than Quaraun. So this increased the perception that he was female, but it also made him physically too weak to fight off most Human attackers. Quaraun with his vanity was quick to take anything offered him, but often the men doing the offering expected sex in exchange.
There were several problems, first being that regardless of what he looked like, Quaraun was still a male and most men coming after him, wanted a female, so once the discovery was made, that there was male genitals under his skirts, Quaraun often found himself with a knife to his throat or in his side as was the most recent case.
The second problem was the fact that even if the man coming after him, didn’t care that he was male and was willing to fuck him any ways, Quaraun was a wizard of the Di’jinn order and had taken a vow of celibacy and thus had no interest in sex. He was for lack of a better term, an uncastrated eunuch. Quaraun was very adamant in not breaking his vows, so adamant that in spite of his love and desires for BoomFuzzy, the two had never had sex, which was certainly not from a lack of trying on BoomFuzzy's part. BoomFuzzy would have ravished the Elf daily had Quaraun let him.
Quaraun’s scars were another issue entirely.
Quaraun was vain enough, that were his entire body beautiful, he probably would have run around naked, but his belly, groin, thighs, and genitals were badly mutilated and covered in horrifically disfiguring scars.
But all of this contributed to the problem Quaraun had when travelling on the road. For he looked every bit to the Humans as a prostitute begging to be fucked and he appeared to be carrying nothing with him, save a small purse that hung from his belt and could not possibly have held more then 10 coins in it.
While Quaraun was blessed with beauty, he wasn’t blessed with brains.
Quaraun was too stupid, too vain, and too scatterbrained to think to not look so vulnerable and was often left to wonder why he was so often attacked by gangs of horny men dropping their pants and trying to fuck him.
It was a frequent occurrence for men, bandits, highwaymen, camped beside the road for the night, to see Quaraun, think he was a she, and the she was a whore, and so ask him to join their camp and stay the night.
Quaraun dim-witted and forgetful as he was, never realized their intentions, would agree to share their camp, only to quickly find himself pinned to the ground being groped and undressed by a group of men whom hadn’t had anything to fuck in weeks and, once discovering the reluctant Elf was a male, were not about to let that get in the way of what they had started.
Quaraun always managed to get away with the help of Pocket Lich, his pet DracoLich.
The dark, demonic, undead dragon would catch the rapists by surprise. Some horney humans fought the enormous, ominous onyx dragon. Others dragged Quaraun into the bushes, still intending to rape him, dragon or no dragon.
Quaraun often ended up with badly bruised arms and legs where the men had restrained him.
Poor Quaraun. Surely the men would kill him. The men would have beaten the poor, frightened, frail, sickly little Elf to death while raping him. But the DracoLich mysteriously materialized and greedily gobbled up the men.
To the untrained eye, it would have seemed that the DracoLich should have eaten Quaraun as well. The men were too quick to assume the Elf unarmed and carrying nothing.
Examining his belt revealed a singular, sinister truth.
But therein lay the illusion, for Quaraun was a tailor, a jeweller, and a wizard. Before his people died, Quaraun had lived a simple life. Quaraun sewed heavily embroidered clothes and accessories for fine ladies and wealthy Wizards. His specialty had been colourful gemstone jewellery, luxuriant velvet capes, and shimmering silk robes bequeathed with magical powers. At his hip was a little heart-shaped bag that was far bigger on the inside. Large enough on the inside to house a massively big black dragon, along with the dragon’s mountain full of glittering gold.
The DracoLich was Quaraun’s pet and he kept her safe and sound in his pocket. Once aware the men intended to rape him, the discombobulated little Necromancer pulled the Dragon out of his bag of holding. Thus she appeared seemingly out of no where.
From Quaraun’s belt hung a small, insignificant looking pink heart shaped pouch. It resembled a sachet, heavily embroidered with beads and bullion. The pouch no bigger than his fist. Within it was anything Quaraun thought he might need on his journey. Including a tent which would well serve his sleeping outside at night.
Quaraun stood in the road, look at his map, than looking up at the sky to study the clouds. He was growing tired and wanted to stop and rest. He could see a think forest up ahead, and thought it would be a good place to set up his little tent and sleep. But the clouds hung low in the sky, dark and grey, while thick fog rolled in.
"Snow", the Moon Elf muttered to himself. "Damn. No time to stop. I need to get to the village before the snow gets too deep to travel."
Quaraun rarely slept in public houses, inns, apartments or taverns. He only stayed at such places when he was sick or wounded and needed a safe place for extended rest. Or when the weather was ill fitted for sleeping outdoors. He would have slept in his tent tonight, where it not for the black storm clouds rising up on the horizon.
Quaraun said he preferred to sleep indoors, stating that he was an emperor and emperors sleep in beds. But, when presented with the choice, he choose sleeping outside instead. On warm dry nights, he lay on the grass, watching the moon. On cooler nights he lay on a thin bedroll, in his pink striped tent, instead. Quaraun had been a travelling vagabond wizard for many decades now. He'd grown used to sleeping outdoors. He enjoyed being outdoors. Being inside buildings made him feel trapped. Uncomfortable.
It had snowed last night.
It would snow again this night.
Quaraun knew he must find a place to seek sturdier shelter for the night.
The heart shaped bag held more than just a dragon and a tent. The bag on Quaraun’s belt contained an entire house full of items.
His massive mostly pink wardrobe. A myriad of magic weapons he never used. Shelves full of potions, he had pre-made for selling. All his sewing and magic item crafting equipment. Food. The heads of those whom he had killed. The hearts of his murder victims. Rumour had it that the eccentric Elf Necromancer kept his dead wife in this little heart shaped bag to one day resurrect her.
Of course, this rumour was only partly true. He had every dead Moon Elf in his pocket. And had no intention of resurrecting any of them. He simply liked being reminded that were all dead, exactly as they should be.
When the melancholy little Necromancer got tired need to rest, he pulled out a bedroll. When he needed a place to sit, out came a big carved gold throne with overstuffed pink velvet cushions.
And in case the bizarre little Elf ever decided to settle down, the palace of the Moon Elves was also in his pocket. His shop and BoomFuzzy's house were both in his pocket as well.
Quaraun had no need to look for a place to spend the night. All the forgetful Elf had to do was pull a house out of his pocket and be safe and dry. Quaraun was too stupid to think of that and so he bemoaned the oncoming snow storm bearing down around him.
Quaraun hated to set up camp, and have it get soaking wet. He felt there was nothing worse then trying to stuff a wet tent back into its little heart shaped pouch.
Pocket Lich was very important to Quaraun, for he had no other means of protection. To lose Pocket Lich was to lose the only defence he had.
Trudging through the muddy snow, ZooLock sighed, glanced around nervously, then whispered: “We are being followed.”
“That’s preposterous. Who would follow us, your greatness?”
“That pink robed Elf you were talking to back at the glass-blower's pavilion. It’s been spying on us for the past hour….”
“Really? Where? I’ve not seen anyone.”
“That’s because you aren’t taking notice. I can hear it. I can smell it.” His many long tentacles tweaked to sniff the air. ZooLock glanced behind. He could no longer see Elf. The purple alien squid slunk further down the dark alley. “It ain’t passed yet. It’s hanging back, waiting for us to come back out.”
“Then why did we come down here? We are trapped in here. This is a dead end, your Lordship. Anyone following us must have ill intent, mustn’t he? We’ll be murdered! You’ve killed us! I’ll be left to wander the world alone….” Xanoodut wailed desperately.
“Shut up.” ZooLock grabbed the green Goblin. The purple tentacled alien flung the little Orcling back against the brick wall. Xanoodut landed in a garbage can.
“You needn’t do that,” said Quaraun from the terrace above the squid headed Thullid.
“Why are you following us?” ZooLock hissed, twisting several magenta tentacles in every direction.
Quaraun leapt down to the cobblestone ground below.
“I’m not following you.”
“No, I’m following the Pixie which is hitching a ride in your pack.”
“Pixie? Pixie! Blessed thieving Pixies! I hate Faeries.” ZooLock’s tentacles flailed frantically. He yanked off his backpack and shook out its contents onto the cobblestone. Among other things out tumbled a tiny winged creature.
The Pixie attempted to flee but was snatched up by one of ZooLock’s tentacles. The Pixie hung helplessly in ZooLock’s grasp. ZooLock held the creature upside down by its ankle. It flapped its wings furiously, trying to escape. He held it up to one of his fishy wall-eyed Pleco eyeballs.
“Why were you in my pack?” ZooLock demanded.
“He was hiding from me,” answered Quaraun.
“What do you want with this creature?” ZooLock held the Pixie behind his back. He trusted Elves less than he trusted Faeries.
“That creature stole something from me and I want it back.”
The Pixie fluttered wildly, gesturing, begging: ‘Don’t give me to the Elf’. Moth dust scattered in the air from its beating wings.
The Goblin pulled himself from the garbage can which ZooLock had tossed him into. He had found a fork for his collection and way, twisting it as he walked back to ZooLock and the Elf.
“Bug’s afraid of Elves, Master,” the Goblin said.
“I can see that,” answered ZooLock.
“Insects are worse than demons,” said the Elf to the squid headed demon.
“Who are you, Elf?” ZooLock demanded as he held the Pixie behind his back, out of the pale Elf’s reach.
“My name is of no importance to you. Give me the Pixie.”
“Why would I do that? I have no proof this Pixie stole anything from anyone.”
“Why else was he hiding in your pack?”
“Lots of reasons. Primary one seems to be it has a great fear of you. I sense you will not leave this creature unharmed if I hand it over to you.”
“Keep the thief. I have no use for him. I already have his soul. His body will come to me when he dies. Just give me the vial he lifted from my purse.”
The Thullid searched the Pixie. It was carrying a small heart-shaped glass vial filled with shimmering green goo. Etched into the glass was a pocket watch with a brass dragon encasing it.
“You have got a weakness for hearts, strange Elf,” said the Thullid.
ZooLock looked from the heart-shaped bottle to the giant magenta hearts embroidered on the Elf’s bright pink robes. The Thullid tossed the Pixie, and it flew away. ZooLock stared at the little bottle, spinning it back and forth with his tentacles.
“An alchemy potion. What does it do?”
“It is not important, give it back to me.”
“If it’s not important, then I have no reason to return it. Have I?”
ZooLock pocketed the tiny heart-shaped bottle.
“You really don’t want to be doing that,” Quaraun warned.
“Do you want to die?”
“Is that a threat?”
“No. Merely stating a fact. You’ve no clue what is in that bottle. If continue to play with it, you WILL die.”
“Ah, and what are you going to do about it?”
“You will give it back to me.”
“What if I don’t?”
Quaraun seethed menacingly. “Do you know who I am?”
“Do you know who I am?” ZooLock challenged.
“No, tell me. Who are you?”
The little Goblin jumped forward to answer: “This is my lord and master ZooLock the Great.”
“Ah,” nodded Quaraun. “Now see, I’ve never heard of you.”
“Never heard of ZooLock the Great?” Xanoodut stammered. “How is that possible? Everyone has heard of the Great Zoo. All powerful warriors are afraid of the mighty Zoo King, the innocent defender who fights the stupid Oolong, the….”
“Do you mean Oolong the Stupid?”
“Yes! My master ZooLock…”
“I’m sorry, never heard of him, and I’m not interested in being told the stories about his enslavement of the innocent in goldfish bowls
***[WRITE MORE HERE—LOOK UP PHRASE IN BOOMFUZZY***.
I simply want my vial back, and I will be on my way. I have places to be, people to kill, liches to make, heads to shrink….”
“Not so fast strange one, you have not yet told us who you are.”
“Ah yes, forgive me. Where are my manners? I am Quaraun the Insane, though I’m not insane. I don’t like people calling me insane. I cut off the heads of people who call me insane, just as quickly as I cut off the heads of thieves who steal my dragons. Now it’s my vial or your head.” Quaraun pointed to the shrunken Thullid, whose head already hung on his belt. “I’ll take both or either it makes me no difference.”
“Quaraun the Insane? You?”
“So you’ve heard of me? How utterly boring. My vial or your head.”
The little albino Moon Elf now held in his hand a ruby encrusted, black obsidian dagger.
“Who hasn’t heard tales of you? Your conquests are legendary.”
“I would hardly call them conquests. They are mostly people who are trying to kill me because I am in love with a man and dress like a woman. I am just so fast that I kill them first. I have all their heads. And I’ll have your head too if you don’t return my bottle.”
“Oh, but they are. You defeated the mighty Gibedon,” ZooLock slithered out.
Quaraun looked down at the dagger. It was the same one he had used to cut off Gibedon’s head.
“One wizard is hardly a conquest,” Quaraun said, not taking his gaze from the enchanted dagger. “When he had sex, I stabbed him in his bed. No conquest there. Give me my dragon.”
“But he was not just any wizard. He was Gibedon the Great. A Necromancer. Vile beasts, the Necromancers….”
“You do realize, of course, that I am a Necromancer?”
“Ah! But of course! But you differ from the rest. You fight for love. Thus the hearts. I should have recognized you by the hearts embroidered on your silks. Is it not what they say of Quaraun the Insane? You are on a noble quest to kill the Lich Lords, for that I commend you.”
“Nobel quest? I’m not on a quest.”
“You are to defeat the Lich Lords.”
“Defeating the Lich Lords? Whoever said I wanted to defeat them? What bull crap idiocy is that? I built them. I’m the Necromancer who controls them.”
“But you are hunting them.”
“No. One of them escaped. I’m searching for him and trying to get him back.”
“You truly do not recognize me, do you?”
“No. I don’t want to. I have my freedom now.”
“No. Why would you? It has been many a year. Oh my. So long ago, you killed us all, but spared me. I never understood why. You slaughtered us, because you were in love with that beast. The boy who loves horses. You’re in love with the Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. You murdered the Di’Jinn to save his life. You poisoned the Moon Elves to vindicate his death. And then you resurrected your lover as a Lich. You truly don’t remember me, do you?”
“Should I? You seated me in The Sanctuary for thousands of years. Is it fun to live in a glass bottle? No! I prefer no recollections of you.”
“I was your guardian, centuries ago. I have searched for you for so long, my ladyship. I had feared you lost. I am he who implanted you in the Elf.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You are no Elf. And you forgot. You are one of us. A Thullid.”
“I am no Thullid.”
The purple squid man bowed before the pink robed Elf.
“You are our leader.”
“Yes. I am aware.”
“The Grand High Emperor of the Triple Planets.”
“An annoyance seeing how I don’t even know where The Triple Planets are.”
“Our Lady Herself: The Scared Pink JellyFish.”
“I am NOT your ladyship.”
“It’s why you wear pink.”
“I wear pink because I’m a Di’Jinn.”
“The Elf always wore blue until you ate his brain and killed him.”
“I am not dead.”
“Yes. I understand. Something went wrong. Instead of taking over his body and you became him. You never developed a Thullid head.”
“I don’t need an octopus head. I have a beautiful face.”
“You should have tentacles like me.”
“I don’t want tentacles like you. I want my dragon back. I’ll kill you if you don’t hurry up and give her to me.”
“He never killed. He was gentle. But he was sick. Seriously ill. He was dead long ago. This is why I chose him as the host. He would soon be dead. The Elves would not care if we took his body and put our Queen in it, so you might have a body again.”
“Shut up and give me, my dragon.”
“There is nothing you can ask, that I will not do. I risked life and tentacle to keep you alive when the enemies attacked our temple. You were injured. We feared you dying. I am so sorry. We were forced to implant you in the body of this Elf. We had to save your life.”
“I want my dragon.”
“Oh Holy Pink JellyFish, your wish is my command.”
ZooLock handed the vial back to its owner.
….Five Years Earlier...
As he often did, Quaraun found himself in a seedy tavern on a gritty, slummy, crime filled, gang infested side of town. His addiction to Faerie Wine and Poppy Tea kept him in such places, though he hated the public houses, he could not tear himself aware from the siren call of glistening Green Absinthe Fairy Wine, the Milky sweet opium tea, or the hashish hookahs, so readily available in these places. Of the three, it was the Fairy Wine that keep drawing him back.
Faerie Wine was illegal in every city, town, village, and country Quaraun had been in, and he’d been in a lot.
Poppy Tea wasn’t illegal but it was looked down on by upper classes.
And Hashish, well, it marked him as from the Middle East. A Persian Elf addicted to Persian drugs.
"Hemp is for ropes, and cloth, and sails on ships!" Villagers chided him. "Not for smoking!"
A Persian Mage, with Persian addictions that came from being raised by Persian priests.
But Quaraun didn't care what people thought of him. And so he sat in a public house, drinking bottles of Fairy Wine, between cups of Poppy Tea, while smoking Hashish from his hookah, all while reading the latest round of wanted posters he'd found hanging around the town.
One would normally expect the world's most wanted criminal, to be taken down the wanted posters of his face, to not let people know he was wanted.
But, this was Quaraun, and Quaraun was not hiding who he was or what he did. He was however, upset that the wanted posted had called him: Quaraun The Insane and not Quaraun, Wizard of the Di'Jinn Order or Quaraun: The Pink Necromancer.
And so, Quaraun had gone around the town taking down all the wanted posters, and now sat in the bar, carefully crossing out the word "Insane" writing underneath it "I'm not insane, I am The Pink Necromancer, Wizard of the Di'Jinn Order" and in a few hours, he would be hanging the posters back where he had found them.
He did this in every town, as it deeply annoyed him when people called him: Quaraun the Insane.
"I'm not insane," Quaraun muttered as he crossed out the word "Insane" on yet another poster.
Quaraun used to be upper class.
He couldn't remember any more. To many life times. Too many futures. Too many pasts. They all blurred together now. It was difficult to try to separate them one from the other any more.
A nobleman. Yes. That was it. Wasn't it?
He used to be a lot of things.
Son of the king’s brother.
And the world’s most powerful wizard.
No, he was still that. But it was so long ago, that no one remembered. Now he was just a commoner. A common Elf.
He gave it all up for love.
And a wish.
A wish that had cost him everything.
A wish for love.
Love that would never die.
And now he was trapped in his own curse. Cursed to live forever. And relive life over and over and over again. Immortal. But immortality that never moved forward. Immortality that existed only to the end of the Earth and than slung him back to the beginning of this Elf's life.
He gave up everything for love. Everything. Even the ability to die and move o past this life.
Though bound to his lover, they were ever separated. Separated by hate. Bigotry. Eternal love, ripped apart by an angry mob. Their time together always so short. Doomed to watch his lover die, again and again, in and endless broken cycle of immortality. Cursed to walk to Earth alone for centuries after his lovers death, only to walk up one day, back at the beginning and start the cycle over again.
Their love was true, but so to, was the hate of the world. The world, refused to let the lovers remain. For he loved someone whom society deemed not worthy.
But now BoomFuzzy was dead.
Quaraun was trapped in and endless cycle, of trying to stop BoomFuzzy's death, and then, unable to stop his death, Quaraun walked the rest of the cycle, killing all involved in his lover's death. Until the Earth imploded yet again, and Quaraun woke up, yet again, the young child, whom had yet to meet BoomFuzzy.
Quaraun had seen BoomFuzzy's death a thousands times. Ten thousand times. Every time, he tried to change it, stop it from happening, something else would come along to kill BoomFuzzy instead.
Quaraun had learned long ago, that he could change how things happened. Talking to someone different. Saying different words. He could change history. He could change the world. He had to power of a god. Able to stop wars or cause them. Completely rewrite the time line of the Human race.
But not everything could be changed. Some things were constant. Every life time they always happened. Event connected to his wish, events leading up to his wish, they were frozen in time. Events connected to the discovery of time travel, they too were frozen in time.
Every life time was different. Minor changes. A different drink. A different colour hat. Small details could be changed. Lives could be saved. But every life time was always the same. Quaraun and BoomFuzzy always meet. The Di'Jinn always died while trying to kill the Unicorn. The Hanging Tree always happened. Gibedon always tried to assassinate BoomFuzzy. Quaraun always killed Gibedon. BoomFuzzy always commit suicide. The details were always different. The dates, not always the same. But the events could never be stopped.
BoomFuzzy was dead.
Just as he always way.
Of all the things he could not change, why did it have to be that?
Unable to stop BoomFuzzy's death, Quaraun devoted his life, to trying to resurrect his lover instead. But necromancy was a difficult art. No one had ever achieved a fully successful resurrection. Mindless shambling dead. Corpses with no thought of their own. That's all necromancy could achieve. No necromancer had ever lived long enough to achieve the full true resurrection of a loved one.
But Quaraun had an advantage over necromancer's before him: he was immortal.
By some bizarre fate, his wish for eternal love, had granted him endless life times allowing him to relive life through unlimited rebirths. And because of this, he was certain, that he could bring BoomFuzzy back to life. If he had to relive life a million times to find the secret of true resurrection, so be it, that s what he would do.
Wither he lived to the end of the planet, or died before than, Quaraun always came back to start life again. He could not explain it. He did not know why it happened. But Quaraun always came back, to start life anew. And he remembered his past lives. He remembered what went wrong, what not to do again, and what went right, what to focus on instead.
BoomFuzzy was dead.
Just as he always way.
Everyone was dead.
Everyone who hated BoomFuzzy.
Everyone who drove BoomFuzzy to suicide.
Every last Moon Elf.
Quaraun had killed them all.
He wasn’t really sure how, either.
Everywhere Quaraun went people died all around him.
He didn’t understand it. He just knew he couldn’t stay anywhere for long, because sooner or later he would get angry with someone and they would drop dead.
The world’s most powerful wizard had become too powerful and it scared him. He didn’t like hurting people. He didn't want to hurt people. Every time he got mad, everyone around him dropped dead. And he didn't know how or why.
"I'm not insane," Quaraun muttered yet again.
Quaraun looked down at the paper in his hand:
“Wanted dead or alive, preferably dead.”
Read the heading.
Under that was his name.
His name was Quaraun.
Quaraun Swanzen, Grand High Emperor of the Triple Planets, though he had no clue what the Triple Planets were.
Quaraun a Moon Elf.
Quaraun the Last Moon Elf.
Quaraun a wizard.
Quaraun a Wizard of the DiJinn Order.
Quaraun a necromancer.
Quaraun The Pink Necromancer.
Quaraun the merchant.
Quaraun the tailor.
Quaraun, weaver of pink Thullid silk.
Quaraun, merchant of magic-items.
Quaraun, travelling wizard for hire.
But that’s not what the paper said.
Quaraun read the name printed on the wanted poster:
“Quaraun the Insane”
He hated that term.
Quaraun hated labels.
Everyone have labels for him. Abrasive terms. Hateful slurs.
“I’m not insane,” Quaraun continued to mutter between glasses of Faerie Wine.
He shivered. It was cold outside. Cold inside. Snow flurries lightly drifted the town. The tavern was packed and crowed and loud. Everyone who had no place else to go, had clamoured into the building to get out of the snow.
This place was one of the more substantial buildings in the town. It had a foundation of hewn granite and the walls were made of sawn timbers. Wood that had come from a lumber mill and had not been, simply logs hacked in half. In spite of it's more study construction, it was the scurviest place in the town.
Apparently it had been built as a bed and breakfast by some wealthy merchant whom had died decades ago, leaving the building to be taken over thugs and whores, who turned it's upstairs into a brothel and it's downstairs into a bar-room.
Though travellers were invited to spend the night in the rooms upstairs, Quaraun felt uneasy about places which had rows of bed lined up side by side in a single room. He'd examined the upper rooms and found each bedroom had no fewer then 4 beds, and most had ten or more beds, though the rooms were not nearly big enough for them.
Quaraun liked his privacy.
He had work to do. BoomFuzzy to resurrect. BoomFuzzy's killers to hunt down. Bodies to run tests on. Corpses to experiment on. Rooms with other tenants, left him with no way to do his work. Nosy people didn't like necromancers killing the locals, slapping their bodies up on a table, and cutting them up trying to figure out how to reanimate them. Quaraun needed privacy if he was to complete his life's work and find a way to resurrect BoomFuzzy.
From time to time Quaraun would share a room with one or two others, but it was rare. He would have to find some place else to sleep tonight.
Quaraun looked around at the throngs of Humans, huddled together, some sitting, others standing, all yakking and yapping. Quaraun deeply disliked Humans. He'd been hurt by too many Humans, too many times, to dare trust any of them. What started out as fear, has since grown to hate. His dislike for Humans was a loathing revulsion, which stemmed largely from how many Human men had tried to rape him over the years.
Quaraun didn't care enough about any race to be truly racist, but he often came off as unintentionally racist, when he talked. Humans were often offended by things Quaraun said, leaving the Elf baffled and confused as to what it was he had said to offend them.
Humans were an easily offended, overly sensitive lot. And while Humans translated Quaraun's actions to be hostile racism, it was in fact post trauma stress, caused by having been abused by so many Humans, so often, for so many decades, that Quaraun lived in mortal fear of any contact with Humans and often spoke more defensively than he needed to, simply out of caution.
"Focus on the behaviour, not the person," Quaraun often told himself, whenever Humans were around.
Quaraun was becoming irritable and angry. Irritability and anger were common behaviours for Quaraun when he was stressed. The Humans on the far side of the room were getting loud and rowdy. Rowdy and loud. It was stressing Quaraun out.
Quaraun nervously eyed the brawling Humans on the other side of the tavern. He was ready to stuff everything into his bag and run, should they come to this side of the building. But so long as they didn't disturb him, he was okay sitting in a dark corner of one of their buildings.
Quaraun clutched his pink Thullid silk scarf, holding it to his face, rubbing it on his skin, his eyes closed. The scarf as soft as a baby’s skin. The feel of the soft silk on his skin comforted him and eased the tension being in this noisy tavern had caused. His long hair coiled tightly around his body, hugging him.
The veil, hid the living tentacles that were Quaraun's hair. From a distance, his hair, looked like read hair. But up close, it was too thick, to slimy, it glistened too much, and it moved like snakes with a life all it's own. Quaraun, was not an Elf. Quaraun was a Thullid. A parasitic JellyFish, living inside the skull of an undead Ef, and Quaraun's hair was the JellyFish's long tentacles. Covered in a pink silk scarf, Humans just assumed Quaraun to be a male Elf who liked dressing as a woman. And they were often too busy being prejudiced against what they assumed to be a transgender Elf, to notice, the slithering tentacles under the veil.
The building was dark.
Even with the light from the candles and fire pit.
Only a few candles lit the room.
One large pit fire sat in the centre of the tamped dirt floor.
Wooden planks were laid down here and there, for the serving girls to walk on and keep their feet from getting muddy as they served mugs of beer and tankards of ale to the ever increasingly more drunk Humans who frequented this place.
There was not enough light to see well at all, and definitely not enough light to read.
Quaraun had his own candles in his bag, and had set up several on the table and than placed several small mirrors around the table all facing inward, to cause the dim candle light to reflected back on itself, several times across the table, illuminating his table as though many dozens of candles were one it, not just a few.
The rich, flavourful warmth of the melted sugar cube flames, still lingered in the emerald green liquid, Quaraun was swirling around in the bottom of his fragile, shimmering, cut lead crystal glass.
Quaraun brought his own glasses with him. He always did. He never trusted a bar, pub, or tavern to keep their tankards clean.
Quaraun professed to hate the seedy public houses he often found himself in, but, Absinthe was illegal, and these underground nightclubs often sold it in their dark backrooms, to special clients wealthy enough to pay the steep price for a bottle of the refreshing, tantalizing, green liquid.
The aromatic smell of burnt sugar filled the air with it's sweet, pungent, syrupy sweetness, and mingled with the Green Fairy wine's hypnotic scent of anise and cloves. The heady aroma was as intoxicating as the drink was itself.
He reread the rest of the paper.
“Soul bound Elf driven to madness by broken bond.”
“BoomFuzzy,” Quaraun whispered.
They had been soul bound.
Quaraun and BoomFuzzy.
Soul binding was an illegal ritual. Their souls cut in half. Traded. They each had half of the other’s soul.
Soul binding was dangerous.
A person bound to another, felt everything the other felt. Even wounds, and injuries. And depression. And sadness.
BoomFuzzy had been depressed for many years. Long before he had met Quaraun. Quaraun's wish, the wish that caused his immortal curse, had been worded because BoomFuzzy had been so very depressed. Eternal love, for BoomFuzzy. To help him. Heal him. Fix his broken mind. But depression was not so easily fixed, and love was never enough to stop BoomFuzzy from ending his own life, after so many he knew and trusted, turned on him. It was Gibedon's betrayal, that always caused the problem. BoomFuzzy trusted Gibedon.
And while he loved Quaraun and was filled with great joy when they were together, BoomFuzzy harboured inside of him, dark, morbidly morose thoughts that he could not shake.
Could not escape.
Could not break free of.
Memories of abuse he'd lived through. Guilt over crimes he'd commit. It finally became more than he could bear, and even with the undying love he and Quaraun shared,
Love was simply not enough.
And so in every lifetime Quaraun relived, BoomFuzzy killed himself, not knowing the dire consequences it would have for Quaraun, who felt every agony of BoomFuzzy's dying breaths, as though he himself were dying.
BoomFuzzy had drunk a poison, that dissolved his organs. He drowned in his own blood, as the acid burned through him, melting away his insides. It took three days for him to die. And there was no cure. No way to stop the suffering once it had started.
And Quaraun had felt it all.
Quaraun learn the hard way, why soul binding was illegal.
Why laws forbid such a ritual.
"Oh, my poor BoomFuzzy. I had no idea how sad he was. I never should have bound my soul to his. I thought it would help him, if he could feel how much I loved him. I never thought of the reverse. That I would feel how heavy his depression was on his mind."
The sounds of cackling drunk Humans singing and shoving each other around, brought Quaraun back out of his morbid thought. He'd forgotten for a few moments that he was in a tavern.
A new crowd of Humans had come in from outside, leaving the door open. Frigid cold wind, swirled through the building, snuffing out several of the candles, and blowing at Quaraun's stack of papers.
One of the bar maids, sputtered and swore, yelling loudly at the rude men, as she made her way to the heavy hewn timber door and closed it again.
Large drifts of snow had blown in, and now lay scattered around the front tables. The building was so cold inside, that the snow did not melt and simply collected on the floor, with other snow that had been previously tracked in by other patrons.
Quaraun shivered. It was nearly as cold inside this building, as it was outside. But at least the walls kept most of the wind and snow outside. Quaraun reached into his little pink, silk bag of holding, and pulled out a large luxurious fur coat, made out of many skins of many animals, all patched together. Legs, paws, heads, and tails all still hung from the pelts. Everything from fox to rabbits to weasels to coyotes were patched together on the cloak.
The long hooded cape-like cloak had belonged to BoomFuzzy. Quaraun had kept it after BoomFuzzy's death.
Quaraun kept reading.
“Sodomite. Murderer. Necromancer….”
There were many more crimes listed.
None of them true.
They were nothing more than slanderous rumours made up by Finderu, the mage whom had enticed Gibedon to turn on BoomFuzzy. Finderu, was the root cause of everything. Finderu's actions were what started the chain of events leading to BoomFuzzy's death.
Finderu, who always lived. In every lifetime, Finderu always walked free, unpunished for his deeds. Lived, nearly immortal. Lived, a good long life. Even though he caused so much suffering to so many innocent people.
Finderu's lack of punishment and lack of death, frustrated Quaraun every lifetime. Quaraun always killed everyone involved in BoomFuzzy's death, except for two: Ghirardelli and Finderu. The two mages who always escaped punishment, every time. Every lifetime Quaraun hunted them and every lifetime they escaped. Every lifetime Quaraun actively made changes to events, hoping it would lead him to killing Ghirardelli and Finderu, but every lifetime, they never saw justice for their crimes.
“Sodomite. Murderer. Necromancer….” Quaraun whispered the words from the poster. The words written by Ghirardelli and Finderu.
These first three were the only ones, actually true.
“Sodomite. Love shouldn’t be a crime."
"I’ve only killed murderers, thieves, bullies. Criminals who've evaded justice. That should not be a crime either."
"Necromancy is the only way to find the lost soul of the dead lover they murdered. For they did murder him. They drove him to suicide.”
He skipped over the lines that were inaccurate, stopping to read out loud the paragraph that was accurate:
“Master of DiJinn Magic.
Can control any dead object, including dead trees and objects made of wood.
Master of the Undead, builder of Liches.
Is the Necromancer who created the Lich Lords.
Carries the head of Gibedon.
He has in his possession:
* a DracoLich,
* a school of flying zombie goldfish,
* and a flock of vampire turkeys.
Is able to stop time and travel forward and backward to the past and future.
Does not need a weapon to kill.
A wizard of unusual and illegal powers.
Does not require the use of spells, rituals, gestures, or words.
Like a Thullid, Quaraun cast spells psychically via thoughts;
He needs only think it to make it happen instantly.
The bottom of the notice was signed: Finderu, Founder of The Guild of Magic and Ghirardelli Chief of the Justice Mages.
Like a Thullid.
That line stung.
Quaraun made doubly certain no one discovered his secret. No one must know he was a Thullid hiding inside the body of an Elf. No one. Ghirardelli and Finderu were casting suspension on him.
“I’m not a Thullid,” Quaraun said to himself, forgetting he was in a public tavern where others could over hear him. “Oh dear. Like a Thullid. So much like a Thullid. Oooohh. So much like a Thullid. I’m turning into a Thullid, that's so depressing. I have such beautiful face.”
Quaraun pulled a mirror out of his beaded heart shaped purse that was much bigger on the inside and stared sadly into it.
“I am the most beautiful creature on the planet. The last thing I want to look like is a Thullid. It is so depressing.”
Quaraun slumped over the table and burst into tears.
“You alright?” A barmaid asked. She couldn’t remember ever seeing an Elf cry before and thought she had heard somewhere that they didn't cry because they didn't have emotions.
“I don’t want to sprout tentacles,” the Elf wailed, not looking up at her.
“I have a JellyFish living in my head.”
“It’s eating my brain and taking over my body. I’m losing control of who I am.”
“Ah, yes. Of course.” The girl shook her head and walked off, thinking the Elf was drunk.
Thullids were even rarer then Elves were these days. They were almost as rare as Unicorns and Unicorns were long believed to be extinct.
Quaraun had been attacked and implanted by a Thullid, nearly three hundred years ago. Humans barely lived forty years, so three hundred years was out of reach for their memories. Most had started to think of the squid headed aliens from Neptune’s moon as a mythical race. And so no one believed Quaraun when he told them that he was turning into a Thullid.
Everyone simply believed the Elf to be crazy and so no one ever listened to him when he said squid headed aliens from Neptune’s moon had implanted a tiny pink JellyFish in his brain.
Who in their right mind would believe such a story?
It was crazy.
He knew it was crazy.
If it wasn’t happening to him, he’d not believe it were true either.
Unfortunately, it was true.
There really was a tiny pink JellyFish living in his skull, devouring his brain, sending it’s tentacles twisting and winding throughout his body and taking control over him.
The problem for Quaraun was not the fact that a JellyFish was living in his brain.
The problem was that Quaraun the Elf had died three hundred years ago and he didn’t know it.
He already was a Thullid.
Which was why Quaraun was such an emotional Elf prone to crying and laughing. Things Elves simply did not do.
The JellyFish had taken over the Elf’s body centuries ago, but the JellyFish had been damaged during implantation and the JellyFish instead of taking over it’s host had become it’s host, with the JellyFish now believing itself to be the Elf, not realizing that it was actually the JellyFish and the Elf was dead.
Quaraun’s fit of self pity was interrupted by a bar room brawl that had broken out between a few Humans. Quaraun scowled as he watched the Humans tumble around fighting. He hated Humans. Then he looked back down at the paper.
“The Guild is becoming a problem. This needs to be dwelt with.”
At the bottom was a name:
“Finderu,” Quaraun said to himself. “I must find, Finderu.”
Quaraun pulled out his map. It had several towns and cities scrawled across it. He’d crossed off most of them. He'd found Finderu's men in each of them and gotten all the information he could out of each of them before relieving them of their heads.
At the centre of the map was a circled title:
The Godforsaken City.
“Of all the places. The Godforsaken City. Only Humans would think of such a name.”
The drunk Humans continued to brawl, bringing Quaraun out of his thoughts again.
“And why a tavern run by Humans? Filthy creatures. I swear I….”
“Hey, cutie-pie,” a slurred voice caught the attention of the pink robed albino Elf and broke him from his thoughts.
A woman’s hand began caressing his shoulder.
Quaraun cringed at the thought of anyone touching him.
He hated being touched.
Someone was in his personal space.
He didn’t like it.
It felt like an invasion.
His first impulse was to swing around and punch the Human bitch in the face.
But he couldn’t draw attention to himself.
The Guild was doing enough of that already.
He resisted the temptation to pummel the filthy Human whom had dared touch him.
The Elf turned and saw a drunk woman. She leaned against him and smiled.
“I’m looking for a good time, how about you?” She asked. Her breath reeked of alcohol.
“Go fuck yourself.”
The Elf growled, baring his sharp fangs, and pushed her away violently.
He hated females.
Especially Human females.
Quaraun loathed women.
Drunk women were worst of all.
Drunk Human females were loatheful.
He despised them more than anything.
The female stumbled back a few feet, then fell hard on her bum.
The sight of this made The Pink Necromancer chuckle sadistically.
Though not an outright act of violence, shoving a woman, even a drunk one, was enough to give him disapproving glares from fellow tavern goers. Quaraun didn’t care what they thought. They were, after all, only Humans and he was a pure blooded Elf.
Not a Common Elf, but a High Elf.
And not just any pure blooded High Elf.
But a pure blooded Moon Elf.
Purest of the purest, highest of the High Elves ever to exist. Higher than most with all the drugs he took, took.
He was also the last Moon Elf, and being the last Moon Elf, he’d long ago decided he was never going to procreate and simply die the last of his kind.
The thought of creating a half-breed child repulsed him to no end.
Quaraun even refused the company of other Elves.
Fathering a half Moon Elf half other type of Elf, repulsed him as much as half Elf and half not Elf.
Quaraun had devoted himself to being a eunuch. He wasn’t going to fuck anyone or be fucked by anyone.
And BoomFuzzy was dead, so there was little chance of that happening.
Quaraun was not in the tavern looking for drinks or whores, and he was not happy to see either drunks or women sitting in the same room with him.
Quaraun was there for one reason and one reason only: His map was telling him that somewhere in this tavern, this filthy, disgusting Human infested tavern, was Finderu.
It pointed to the left, the Elf got up, taking his bottle of Green Faerie Wine with him and followed the direction of the map quickly, pushing back numerous drunks and druggies.
A band was playing off to the side while an off-key bard sang long half-ling poetry in drunken slurs.
The music boomed in his foot long pointed ears and would surely give him a headache later.
But Quaraun paid no attention to the packed tavern, and it’s Human patrons. His mind was focused on other thoughts. Long ago thoughts. Centuries old thought that drove him ever on ward in his killing spree across the globe.
BoomFuzzy was dead.
Everyone involved in his death, must pay.
Many were dead already.
But Finderu had eluded capture.
Not this time.
He was close.
Finderu was here.
In this very tavern.
Somewhere in this tavern, was a Fairy.
Not a Human.
He should be easy to find.
But where was he?
Quaraun could see him no where.
Finderu must die.
Finding Finderu was Quaraun’s only purpose for the moment.
It was the only thought on his mind.
Quaraun had never met Finderu, so he didn’t know who he was looking for.
BoomFuzzy had known Finderu.
BoomFuzzy was just a nickname.
BoomFuzzy’s real name was Gwallmaiic.
King of the Realm of Fae.
King over all the Faeries.
Finderu was one of the people whom had wanted BoomFuzzy dead, though Finderu had never known him as BoomFuzzy.
Finderu had known the Evil Sorcerer King as Gwallmaiic, King of the Faeries.
Finderu had once worked for the King, as his advisor.
King Gwallmaiic had, had many advisors.
But Finderu was the one whom had turned on the King and tried to kill him.
Finderu had plotted with the Necromancer General Gibedon, to overthrow the throne.
Finderu had played a primary role in causing King Gwallmaiic’s depression and eventual suicide.
After BoomFuzzy’s death, the Faerie kingdom fell into disarray.
No longer one vast empire. The Realm of Fae was now many small factions.
Each faction led by ruthless cut-throat men. Finderu was one of those men.
One by one everyone who had had a hand in causing BoomFuzzy's suicide was fast becoming dead. Losing their heads to the vengeful Elf who was hell bent on wiping out every last person whom had ever even thought ill wishes towards the dead Faerie King.
Not just the Moon Elves.
BoomFuzzy had already been depressed and suicidal when he meet Quaraun.
Quaraun had not known this.
He had known BoomFuzzy was sad, but he had no known how sad.
That it was more than being sad.
That he had struggled with serious depression for years and had been teetering on suicide for many years.
BoomFuzzy had no support he could reach out to.
He'd been well over two thousand years old, when Quaraun had met him. BoomFuzzy, as King Gwallmaiic, had been the most hated person alive.
He'd been abandoned by his parents as a small child. Left to fend for himself, he'd grown up bitter and lonely and mean.
No one had even loved him, not even his own mother. He never knew love. He didn't know how to love. And Quaraun's love, so late in his life, was too little, too late. Gwallmaiic's mind was so far broken by the time Quaraun had met him, that there was no repairing it.
No recovery from the depths of despair. No saving him from the seductive embrace of suicide that he was fast spiralling to.
He had needed love. Wanted love. But when love finally entered his life, he couldn't accept it. Did not fell he deserved it. He had needed help, but he was too proud to ask for it. To scared to let anyone know how weak he was. Too depressed to admit to anyone, how lost he felt.
How much despair he felt.
He could see, no light of hope.
BoomFuzzy had desperately needed to reach out to others for emotional support. But this is easier said than done. He was in a low point and he couldn't see a way back out. He told himself to try to remember the people in his life who cared for him.
But than Gibedon had plotted to murder King Gwallmaiic and take his throne, and Quaraun had murdered Gibedon to save BoomFuzzy.
The discovery that one lover was plotting to kill him, and the other lover murdered the plotter, was too much for BoomFuzzy to bear. And the fear, that Quaraun, like Gibedon, would eventually turn on him, shadowed over BoomFuzzy's mind, and was a event he could not bear. Rather than risk eventually losing Quaraun's love, BoomFuzzy killed himself, while he knew Quaraun still loved him, before Quaraun had a chance to start to hate him.
Quaraun had back tracked into BoomFuzzy's past and found everyone whom had ever caused BoomFuzzy misery and killed them. There was no one whom had ever caused BoomFuzzy pain who was still alive, except for one: Finderu. The leader and founder of The Wizarding Guild.
Finderu was the law. Finderu made the laws. Finderu said what types of magic were good and what types were evil.
Some types of magic were so evil in Finderu’s mind, that they were worthy of being executed for. Necromancy was one of them.
Unknown to Quaraun when BoomFuzzy was alive, was the fact that centuries earlier BoomFuzzy had been a member of The Guild. Every wizard on the planet was forced to become a member of The Guild in order to practice magic, wither they knew that or not. Thus any wizard in any city or any country, even in distant jungles where no one had ever heard of Finderu or his wizarding guild, was required to join The Guild or risk execution for practising magic without a licence.
BoomFuzzy, however, had been a member of The Guild. Unfortunately, BoomFuzzy had also been a Necromancer and that didn’t fly well with Finderu, who hadn't known about Necromancy before meeting BoomFuzzy or rather Gwallmaiic. BoomFuzzy was just a nickname that Quaraun called the evil Elf eating King of the Faeries.
King Gwallmaiic, also known as the Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, was the actual rule maker. Not Finderu. And this was the root of the problem. Finderu wanted to be King. He lusted for control and power. King Gwallmaiic had the control, King Gwallmaiic had the power. And Finderu was jealous.
King Gwallmaiic made the laws. Not Finderu. King Gwallmaiic was the law. Not Finderu. But Finderu would hear nothing of it and Gwallmaiic had liked Finderu. Liked him enough to want to fuck him and therefore let Finderu make laws that normally Finderu would never had been allowed to make otherwise. Gwallmaiic had a problem with sex addiction and wanted to fuck everyone he meet, so there was nothing special about Finderu.
The problem was, Finderu was devious and plotted to get close to King Gwallmaiic, befriend him, kill him, and take the throne. Quaraun didn’t know all the details. He only knew BoomFuzzy's side of the story, which he only knew from reading BoomFuzzy's countless dozens of diaries after BoomFuzzy had died.
Quaraun was madly, insanely in love with BoomFuzzy and learning that BoomFuzzy had had other lovers, both before him and even while they were together had greatly upset Quaraun.
Finderu had been one of those lovers. Or at least, Finderu had pretended to be one of BoomFuzzy's lovers long enough to get close to the Faerie King and try to kill him. Which failed because Flower Faeries simply are not good at murder and Phooka's make an art of killing.
Pretending to be the lover of the king is exactly what led to Finderu’s law banning male lovers.
In the end, Finderu fled Pepper Valley and immediately made laws against Necromancy in hopes that someone else would kill the evil king of the Faeries for him. No one ever did and eventually the evil Necromancer King killed himself in a Lich making ritual.
Finderu made laws outlawing Liches as well.
And in Quaraun’s mind all of this had ultimately contributed to BoomFuzzy's depression which eventually lead to his suicide, meaning Finderu had been one of the murderers of BoomFuzzy and thus must die for the sin of his hand in BoomFuzzy's death.
Thus how Quaraun came to be in The Godforsaken City, sitting in this tavern, looking for Finderu.
For the ten thousandth life time, Quaraun once again, sat in this tavern, looking for a way to find and kill Finderu. But tavern's did not stay open all night and Quaraun was forced to pack up his things and head outside.
The problem with outside, was this particular village, was infested with a higher then average rate of thugs, criminals, pickpockets, thieves, gangsters, hoodlums, muggers, and overall scumbag degenerates of society. And Quaraun, was dressed like some sort of Bollywood version of a high society noblewoman turned prostitute, waiting to be mugged, and it wasn't long before a group of thugs decided to attack him.
Quaraun didn't get a chance to see who it was whom had hit him. All he knew was someone had hit him. And now he was dizzy.
"This is new," Quaraun muttered to himself. "I never got attacked at this tavern before in any of the previous lifetimes. Something has changed. History is not repeating itself. I don't know if that's good or bad. Either way, it means I don't know what will happen next. Or what to expect. I best be careful than."
Quaraun sat dazed on the hard cobblestone road, holding a bloody handkerchief over his mouth, and contemplated why it was this time was different, trying to figure out what it was he could have done which had caused this change of events.
“You okay?” A voice asked behind him.
“I’m fine,” Quaraun muttered through the silk cloth, without looking up to see who was talking to him.
“You don’t look fine.”
The albino Moon Elf wizard wasn’t fine, in fact he was hurting quite a lot, but he’d rather not talk about how he felt just now. The bandit had hit him hard on the jaw, and he’d landed even harder on the stone road. A bloody nose, a split lip, a scraped knee, a twisted ankle, and He wasn't sure who had hit him or why. He was a stranger in this town. Had entered the market, after leaving the tavern, looking to buy something to eat and had not expected to be randomly mugged, because he had been through this series of events in ten thousand previous lifetimes without ever being mugged before. The city guards had seen the whole thing and ran after the attacker. The mugger, running with the clippity clop of cloven hooves on the cobblestone, got away without taking anything.
One of the guards returned. "Bastard got away. Lost him in the crowd. You okay?"
"I'm fine," Quaraun said.
"Never seen nothing like it. Guy had hooves like a deer. Ran up crates and bounced over walls like a fucking billy goat. No way we can catch him."
"So you're saying I was attacked by a satyr?"
"A goat man? Yeah, looks like it."
"Was he wearing a green velvet coat?"
"Yeah. He was. You know him.
"No. But I've seen him before. History changes every time he's around."
"You sure you're okay?"
"No. Only thing I was carry was my bag and that's still here."
The guard left.
“You’re bleeding,” said the original voice, that was still standing out of sight behind him.
“Yes. I know. Thank you for telling me what I already knew.”
“What are you doing?”
"Trying not to pass out." Quaraun wanted to wrap himself tightly in the warm, comforting safely of his tentacles, but he knew doing such a thing, now, here, in public, would cause a stir.
"No, I mean... What happened? Why you bleeding?"
“Bullies don’t care.”
“Bullies are cruel.”
“You want to explain that better?”
“I'm sick of Elf hating bastards at every turn. Wizard hating wretches are just as bad. And whores. And drunks. And Humans. It's like this every where I go. Elves and Wizards aren't welcomed anywhere. And I am both. And I'm fed up with the way people treat me. I can't go any where these days.”
“You’re a Wizard?”
“Yes. And I'm tired of being beaten up for it.”
“Someone beat you up?”
“No, I just like randomly laying on the ground with a split lip for no reason.”
“You're dressed like one of those rich, uppity aristocrats. Not a good thing to do around here. Lucky they didn't brain ya. Probably thought you were carrying a lot of gold coins.”
“I am carrying a lot of gold coins.”
“Why would you say that?”
“Your kind of stupid aren’t you?”
Quaraun looked up at his conversation companion. It was a Goblin.
"A Goblin?" Quaraun muttered to himself, not addressing the Goblin.
"Yeah. I'm a Goblin. You sound surprised."
"Well, quite frankly, I am. Goblins are not prone to living in Human villages."
"This ain't a Human village."
"No. Faeries run everything around here."
“Who the hell are you?”
“Just a random stranger.”
“Great. Wonderful. I love random strangers who are too rude to introduce themselves. Think you could help me up?”
The green skinned Goblin helped the little Elf Wizard stand.
“You got long hair.”
“You keep stating the obvious.”
“How do you walk without tripping on your hair?”
“The same way I walk without tripping on my dress.”
“Why you wearing a dress?”
“I'm an Elf. This is how we dress.”
“Do all Elves have hair like that?”
"I am unique."
"I don't cut my hair.”
"Because I’m a Wizard.
“Do Wizards not cut their hair?”
“Yes. Have you never seen a Wizard before?”
“No. Well, wait. There’s Finderu.”
“Finderu?" Quaraun stopped dead in his tracks and spun around to face the Goblin. "Do you know Finderu?”
"How do you know Finderu?"
“Everyone knows him.”
"Everyone who lives here, of course!"
"Why would everyone here know Finderu?"
"Because he lives here."
“Finderu lives here?”
“Yeah. He’s a big shot. Thinks he runs the town. Bullies everyone.”
“What does he look like?”
“Flower Fairy. Rose red hair. Now that I think of it. His hair is pretty long. Not at long as yours, but still. So Wizards never cut their hair, huh?”
“No. We don’t. I haven't cut my hair in 300 years.”
“Our long hair attracts the energy which powers our magic abilities. The longer a mage’s hair, the more powerful they are.”
“You must be pretty powerful than. Your hair drags on the ground.”
“Yes. It does. And I am. I’m the world’s most powerful wizard.”
Quaraun looked around the market square. There was no sign of any other Elves or any one that looked remotely like a Wizard either. That was troubling. It usually meant The Guild’s agents were in the town. He set out about his business, but the Goblin followed him and continued to pester him.
“Are you a male Elf or a female one?”
“Will you stop annoying me?”
“Do I have to?”
"You kind of stand out. I mean... Look at you."
“Have you never seen an Elf before?”
“We don’t see many Elves around here.”
“I wonder why?”
“You’re kind of bitchy aren’t you.”
“Oh, I don't know. Let me think. I walk into town and get punched in the face. I think I've earned the right to be bitchy, don't you?”
“I didn’t hit you.”
“No. But it's not the first time it happened. I'm tired of being beaten up by racist assed bigots, in every town I go in.”
“Who beat you up?”
“I don't know. But when I find out, I'll have their head.”
“That’s a strong reaction, don’t ya think?”
“I’ve taken heads for less.”
"You sound serious."
"I am. Why wouldn't I be."
“You don’t look big enough or strong enough.”
“I’m bigger then you.”
“Barely. You're a full head shorter then every Human in town. I thought Elves were tall?”
“I'm short. Now go fuck off.”
“Why you dressed like a prostitute?”
Quaraun glared at the little Goblin.
“I am NOT dressed like a prostitute.”
“Could’a fooled me.”
“Is there some reason why you’re still yapping at me?”
“Thought you looked like you could use some company.”
“Do you want something?”
“No. I just saw a male Elf in a slutty pink dress, laying on the ground with a bloody face. Thought I'd stand here yapping at him. Don't often get a chance to talk to an Elf. They're kind of rare.”
“Do you know nothing about Elves?”
“Nope. Like I said, we don't get many Elves around here.”
Quaraun brushed himself off, pulled a small silver hand mirror out of his bag of holding and began re-applying his make-up.
“Are you just going to ignore me now?” The Goblin asked.
“I’m an Elf.”
“You’re not an Elf.”
Quaraun put his mirror and make up away and started walking. The Goblin walked along with him.
"Why are you following me?"
“You didn’t answer me.”
“Meaning I don’t want to talk to you.”
“You’re not an Elf.”
“I don’t talk to non-Elves.”
“You had to talk to me to say that line there, you know.”
Quaraun continued walking. The Goblin continued trudging along behind him.
“Why are you following me?”
“Nothing else to do.”
“Stop following me.”
“Just because we are both going the same way, doesn’t mean I’m following you.”
Quaraun angrily flung his pink feather boa over his shoulder, turned around and walked in the other direction. The Goblin changed directions as well.
“You are still following me.”
“Of course I am.”
Quaraun stopped walking.
“I’ve never seen no one like you before.”
“Of course you haven't. There isn't any one else like me. I am unique. I have enough self confidence and self worth to be myself and not have to try to be like everyone else.”
“You got a name?”
“I seem to recall you not giving me yours.”
“Xandri Witsnot the Goblin.”
“Do you expect me to tell you my name now?”
"Why would I do that?"
"It's the polite thing to do?"
"You didn't sound so sure there."
"Most people just know it's the polite thing to do."
"I'm not most people."
"Yeah. I can see that."
"You are a stranger to me. Why should I tell you my name?"
"Everyone starts out a stranger. First step to becoming friends is to introduce yourself."
"Who said I wanted to be friends with a Goblin?"
"No one. I just thought... you being new in town and all, you might need someone to help you out. Tell you where things are..."
"Are you a street urchin?"
Quaraun continued walking.
"I said, my name is Quaraun."
“Quaraun? What? You mean, like the Necromancer?”
"Are you... wait... are you THE Quaraun? The one on all the wanted posters around town?"
"You are wearing pink. Are you The Pink Necromancer?"
“Yes. I am. I just told you I was. Now please leave me alone. I'm busy. I have work to do. Corpses to dig up. Heads to collect. Souls to extract. Murderers to hunt down and kill. BoomFuzzy to resurrect. I simply do not have time to talk to you.”
“You’re Quaraun the Insane?”
“I'm not insane. Please don't call me that."
"I don't like being called that. It's mean and cruel and hurtful and a label slapped on my by bullies.”
"You're like... A Di'Jinn, aren't you?"
“Yes. I am a Wizard of the Di'Jinn Order.”
“So you grant wishes.”
Quaraun stopped walking again.
“You got a wish you want granted?”
“No. Not me. Got a friend who does though.”
“Really? Doesn't every body?”
Quaraun looked around hoping for a side street or a tavern or a dark alley, anything really, just some place he could slink away from this annoying Goblin.
“Yeah, but this one’s different.”
“They always are.”
“No, you don't understand. He's in love.”
“Love. Bah. I'm sick of love.”
"You? Ain't love your thing? I always heard…."
“My lover is dead. Get on with your story. I haven't got all day.”
“Well, it’s Kelim see…..”
"My friend. He's a Pixie…."
“Pixie? Good god. Faeries. That's the last thing I need.”
“And he’s gone head over heels for Ophelia.”
“No. She's a Flower Fairy.”
“Flower Fairy. So he wants to father half-breed mongrels, great.”
“You one of those purists?”
“I’m an Elf.”
"Uhm... Okay... whatever. Any ways. Her father has got her set up to marry this other dude, see?"
“She doesn’t want to.”
“She wants to marry the Pixie.”
“No. She doesn't know he exists. That's the trouble, see? She's in love with this other dude.”
“And what do you want me to do?”
“Well, Kelim’s shy….”
“Of course he is. Why else would he need a Di'Jinn?”
“But he’s also a Pixie and Finderu doesn’t like Pixies….”
“Finderu?” Quaraun muttered the name quietly.
The Goblin continued talking about Kelim and the Flower Fairy and the upcoming wedding but Quaraun heard nothing else the Goblin said after the word Finderu. When the Goblin finished, Quaraun addressed him, more calmly and less arrogantly then before.
“What has Finderu to do with any of this?”
“He’s Ophelia’s father.”
“Is he? Fascinating. Finderu has a daughter. I didn't know that.”
“You know Finderu?”
“Oh, you could say we're old friends. I some business to attend to with Finderu. I didn't realize he lived around here.”
“Are you a Guild member?”
“I'm a Wizard. What do you think?”
“It’s illegal to practice Wizardry without being a member of The Guild.”
“I know. Finderu loves to remind me.”
“Yeah. He made that rule or something. He's always talking about it.”
“Finderu. Founder of The Guild. Here. And he doesn't like this Pixie you say?”
“No. Won't let Ophelia near Pixies. He's one of those radicals. Don't believe in interracial marriage.”
“Well then, we'll have to fix that. You tell your friend, Kelim, come find me. We'll see if we can't set him up with Finderu's daughter.”
“Where would we find you?”
“Well, I was on my way to visit Ghirardelli.”
“The Swamp Hag?”
“But she’s a Witch.”
“I thought Wizards and Witches didn’t get along?”
"Oh. No. We don't, but….I... I have business with her.... uhm... her head needs fixing. If Kelim wishes to speak to me, he can find me there. I'll be there for a few days."
At that exact moment, elsewhere in The Godforsaken City, a little Pixie was having troubles of his own with Finderu...
Kelim the Toadstool Pixie stole a glance at Ophelia, the Lilac Fairy, as she passed him in the entrance.
“She looks splendid, her golden blond curls pulled back in a braid and her dusty blue dress reflecting her eyes.”
Kelim dreamed about composing poetry about Ophelia, then spun aside as she approached. He didn’t want to be caught gawking.
In Kelim’s mind, everything about Ophelia was perfect, except for one thing. She was the daughter of the snobbish aristocrat Finderu the Masked.
Finderu the Masked was formidable.
Kelim knew this was true because everyone said it was. Rumours said that Finderu was a nasty bastard because he was a vampire.
Kelim doubted that was true.
Kelim heard a lot of rumours he didn’t believe in, like the Lich Lords.
And that crazy psychotic Elf that was chasing them.
Kelim had met Finderu the Masked once, when the old wizard came into the bakery. Finderu had flaming red hair streaked grey with age, and blue eyes just like his daughter’s.
Finderu was arrogant. He also did not like Toadstool Pixies any more than he liked his daughter working in the bakery like a common commoner. It was the reason he had been at the bakery that day, to tell Ophelia off and let her, and everyone she worked with, know just exactly what he thought of his daughter lowering herself by getting her hands dirty along with the low, vile, filthy peasants.
“I’ll turn all you filthy peasants into fucking pheasants, if I catch even one of you near my daughter,” Finderu said as he left. “At least pheasants keep themselves clean.”
Finderu had glared at Kelim when he said the words vile, low, and filthy. He let Kelim know any advances towards his Ophelia were unacceptable.
Kelim’s first impression of the man was that Finderu was a hard-ass rich bastard who’d never worked a day in his life because he was some sort of aristocrat.
Plus, everyone knew Finderu thought of himself as a king. Finderu wasn’t a king, but he was the closet thing this region had to any kind of ruler. Finderu treated The Godforsaken City, which wasn’t even big enough to be called a city, like it was his own private dynasty.
Kelim didn’t like aristocrats. They were too arrogant. He didn’t like wizards either.
Finderu was also a wizard.
A high ranking, aristocratic wizard of immense power.
Not magic powers. No. Finderu was not the skilled mage he wanted people to believe he was, and he had a reputation for hiring assassins to kill any mage with actual real magical abilities.
Political power. That was Finderu’s true power. That and money. He had enough money to buy his way through life. Enough money to hire thugs to keep anyone who opposed him in line. Or tied in chains at the bottom of the Saco River.
Finderu was the leader of The Wizarding Guild. The Guild of Wizardy. The organization who declared who could legally do what, with magic.
All wizards everywhere on the planet had to answer to Finderu’s Guild.
Or at least, he thought so.
Finderu was a control freak.
Every magic user on the planet answered to him or else, wither they knew they were supposed to or not. He accepted nothing less. And he hired hit men, bounty hunters, adventures, and questing heros, to hunt down, and murder any mage Finderu felt threatened the sanctity of The Guild’s rule.
Most mages in the world were unaware The Guild existed until the day they found themselves confronted by a band of 5 or 6 self proclaimed warriors here to do their duty by killing the evil, big bad boss villain.
Hiring blood thirsty thugs, calling them bands of heroes and adventuring parties, and sending them on quests to hunt down so-called evil villains, was what Finderu was most known for.
The only problem was his questing parties were far from heroic and the so-called evil villains were just innocent victims. People Finderu wanted out of the way.
Kelim, however, was just a Toadstool Pixie and had no interest in magic, so he didn’t bother thinking much about Finderu’s obsession with other wizards. If he had, then perhaps he would have been at the town counsel meetings to hear the news of a dangerous renegade wizard on a worldwide killing spree or that there was a huge reward for said wizard’s capture and an even bigger reward for his execution or the even bigger reward for his head on a silver platter.
Finderu would have given anything for the head of the psychotically deranged, serial killing Moon Elf wizard, even Ophelia’s hand in marriage to a lowly Pixie. Finderu had been preaching his hatred for Quaraun the Insane, more heavily that usual, because rumours had said Quaraun was in the area. Thus why so many wanted posters had gone up the past week. Finderu HAD to make sure everyone in town KNEW Quaraun psychotically deranged, serial killing thug. It was imperative that no one find out he made up half the rumours about Quaraun. Imperative no one knew Quaraun was not the blood-thirty lunatic Finderu made him out to be.
Finderu was terrified people would learn the truth: that Quaraun was just seeking revenge for a murdered lover. Finderu’s glut lust of being King of the Faeries had driven King Gwallmaiic, King of the Faeries, Leader of the Lich Lords to suicide.
Had Kelim paid better attention to things in the local news, he would have known Finderu was becoming obsessed with finding and killing the lover of King Gwallmaiic, known to Quaraun as BoomFuzzy.
Kelim would have known he could find and kill the Elf and give its head to Finderu for any price. But Kelim was too busy thinking about the day when he finally stopped being shy and actually got up the courage to say ‘Hello’ to Ophelia. He hoped that day would be soon, because it had been weeks since he first laid eyes on Ophelia and he had said nothing to her yet.
One problem with Finderu the Masked was his love for gratuitous violence and another was that he was a skilled wizard of sorts, one who did not require the use of weapons or wands or crystal balls because his bare hands, knowledge of magic, and mental powers, were great enough on their own.
Everyone in the village was terrified of Finderu the Masked. Rumours even said his powers rivalled those of the Moon Elf, Quaraun the Insane who was fast growing a reputation for been the most powerful magic user of any type of all time. Kelim didn’t believe those rumours either.
Kelim liked to believe he was a forward thinking Pixie who believed the days of magic were outdated and foolish. He was also a radical who supported the recent expansion of the Human race, which was coinciding with the massive world wide death toll of the Elves, Gnomes, and Dwarfs.
The Faeries had dramatically declined in number decades ago. They blamed it on the overpopulation of the Elves, Gnomes, and Dwarves. Kelim was more than happy to see the Elves, Gnomes, and Dwarves brought to the brink of extinction. Though Humans would overrun the world, because of it.
Kelim the Toadstool Pixie had been in love with Ophelia the Lilac Fairy forever now, or at least it seemed that way to him.
Kelim told everybody that he had loved her forever.
Actually it had only been three months since she moved here and started working at the bakery where he worked. Kelim knew he was being ridiculous by not talking to her, but he was Pixie enough to admit to himself, at least, that he was a coward.
Cowards don't stand up to bullies, and Ophelia's father, Finderu the Masked, was a formidable bully.
Kelim didn’t have what it takes to tell Ophelia how he felt about her, that the only thing that brought him to the bakery where he worked every day was seeing her walk past him 5 or 6 times, depending on their timetables.
How could he? Not when her father was someone as so highly irritable as Finderu the Masked was.
At some point the word 'Hello' escaped his lips. He couldn't remember when.
“So, you mean you've never said a word to her?” Asked Kelim's buddy Xandri Witsnot the Goblin.
“Of course I've spoken to Ophelia. It's not like I'm a complete idiot!” Kelim said.
“Oh yeah? WHEN?”
“She was in the break room last month, and she asked me about Ghirardelli the swamp hag, when she was sitting in front of me. Said she hadn't seen Ghirardelli around town in a while, heard she had an old friend visiting but, never saw anyone new in town and was wondering if maybe Ghirardelli was sick. Thought maybe we might check in on her.”
“And what'd you say?”
“Uhm...” Kelim tried to remember. He had been so focused on Ophelia slim neck that he was caught blushing when she was suddenly facing him, her blue eyes amused and that smile of hers playing at the corners of her mouth.
“Uhm... ugh, I can't remember.”
“Because you didn't say anything you dolt!”
Quaraun lay on his back in the cool dying autumn grass and stared up at the tall, towering great white pine trees. The morose, dizzying sensation of Vertigo sank in his stomach as his gaze chased the timbers up to their 130 feet of height. Nuthatch and Brownling birds ran down the thick bark, head downwards and peeking under the cracks, searching for ants. Quaraun wondered how they did not get dizzy or fall off from the blood spilling to their brain.
Quaraun grew nauseated just thinking about it. Quaraun closed his eyes. This did not make old necromancer feel any better, so he sat up and looked out across the quagmire instead.
Quaraun listened to the Saco River, gently lapping the nearby shore. He wasn’t laying near the large swift-flowing river, but rather by a small swampy patch to the side of it.
The water of the river was a delicious copper from tannins, looking crisp and clean and drinkable.
The water here in the side swamp was black and sickly looking, not the clear, healthy, clean water anyone would want to drink. It stank too. In some places on the edge where it sat still, there was a brown rusty gelatinous foam coating the leaves and twigs. That icky looking mess seemed to be the sources of the smell.
Quaraun walked the edge many times this week. The Swamp Hag’s house was around here somewhere. Up ahead, the woodland got deeper and darker, the trees closer together. The deeper the elderly mage went into the ancient forest, the cleaner the swamp looked. Here it was not so clean, and that meant only one thing: Humans lived nearby. The only Human out here was the Swamp Hag herself.
A sudden Earth shattering kaboom, and rumbling earthquake that vanished as swiftly as it had started, interrupted Quaraun’s thoughts. Followed by someone screaming. Both happened so instantaneously that Quaraun was uncertain if he had imagined it. The old Elf sat up, his foot long ears, now erect, no longer hidden down his back under his hair.
“Someone’s hurt,” Quaraun said quietly to himself. “We should go see if we can help them. Where’s my cane?”
After a few moments of struggling with his cane, Quaraun finally made it back to his feet. He sniffed the air, listened to the wind, to determine the direction the scream came from. Before long, his ears picked up the sound of someone moving.
“That way,” the old Elf said to himself, pointing his cane in the grove's direction.
Back by the wider part of the Saco River, near the small sandy beach, Quaraun saw a man, with bright yellow eyes and golden frizzy, woolly hair, dressed in an extra-long, and extremely full skirted long green velvet kashimiri coat, over orange and yellow chiffon gota embroidery lelenga robes, decorated with pink jellyfish embroidery. He lay on the ground, his hands over his face, wailing in pain.
“Are you alright?” Quaraun asked as he paused over the man peering down at him.
“Arrgh!” The fellow yelped, then sat up quickly, only to scream in pain again, as he moved.
“I’m sorry,” Quaraun said. “I did not mean to startle you.”
The newcomer ignored Quaraun momentarily and scrutinized the area, peering around in every direction, seeking a place to escape to.
“I have never seen eyes like yours before,” Quaraun said, as he stared at the man’s gold flecked yellow eyes. “What are you?”
The fleece haired man glanced back up at Quaraun.
“Where am I?” The stranger inquired, ignoring Quaraun’s question.
“You don’t know?”
“No. I seem to have gotten myself lost.”
“That’s the Saco River,” Quaraun pointed his cane towards the estuary. “I believe this beach has a name, one the humans gave it, but I do not know what it is.”
“You are not Human,” the stranger said as he stared at the beach, then glanced around again.
“Nor are you, judging from the texture of your hair and the colour of your eyes,” Quaraun answered.
“This is Rotary Park.”
“Is it?” Quaraun looked around. “It doesn’t look like a park.”
“No. It won’t be until 1964.”
“Are you from the future?”
The man ignored Quaraun’s question and stared up at the sky as though he expected something to fall on him.
“I also seem to have misplaced my car.”
“Should I help you look for it?”
“Do you know what a car is?”
“No. Should I?”
“No. No reason why you . . . Good God! I hope it didn’t land in the river.”
The woolly haired man crawled closer to the river, and peered into the water, trying to see to the bottom. Quaraun followed him and looked into the water as well, not knowing what he was looking for.
Gingerly, Quaraun waded out into the water. Large schools of several hundred black-nosed dace and creek chubs darted away from the shore, swimming into the deep waters. Quaraun stood waist deep in the water, then turned back to face the man on the shore.
“Can it swim?” Quaraun asked.
“A car? Of course not. It’ll sink to the bottom, fast as a rock.”
“Oh.” Quaraun stared out at the deep middle region of the river. “I can’t swim, either.”
“Then why are you out in the water?”
“I like being in the water. I just can’t swim in it. Elves drown.”
“Shouldn’t fish know how to swim?”
“I used to swim. Centuries ago. But now I’m stuck in this Elf and he drowns. I almost drowned. My father tried to drown me. He held my head under the fountain.”
“He hated BoomFuzzy.”
“Don’t most people?”
Quaraun waded back out of the water.
“Did you know BoomFuzzy?” Quaraun asked.
“King Gwallmaiic, Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. . ."
“We’re in Pepper Valley.”
“We’re in Biddeford.”
“No. This is Pepper Valley.”
“Yes. It’s Pepperell Mill Valley. The mill should be right down there. Damn. I can see the trestle. Have trains been invented already? You call Biddeford, Pepper Valley, because. . . Never mind that. I can see the railroad station from here. What year is it?”
“Year? 1849. Three years after The Great Gale of 1846.”
“Oh.” The stranger searched Quaraun’s face. “You don’t know me, do you?”
“No. Should I?”
“In 1849? Yes. Ongadada happened four hundred years ago."
"You don't know?"
Quaraun shook his head.
"It's 1849 and Ongadada didn't happen? And you never met me before?"
"Something’s changed. I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I think it's bad.”
"Why is it bad?"
"If Ongadada doesn't happen. . . there's a doctor. He's born because of Ongadada. If Ongadada doesn't happen his parents. . . they don't meet, so he's not born. Which, I used to think was a good thing."
"But now you don't?"
"He was a good doctor. Saved a lot of people. Helped a lot of people. But than in 1983, a plague hit. The Crystal Plague is what most people called it. He . . . he decided who lived and who died. Seven million people survived. Every one else on the planet died."
"So he saved seven million people?"
"And that was bad?"
"No. How he did it was bad."
"The Crystal Plague spread across three planets. One planet had a region, where the plague hadn't hit. He went there to find out why. No one knows what he discovered. He wouldn't tell anyone. But he said, he knew how to save people. And selected people based on race, what they looked like. When people learned where he took the refugees, millions began to flock to BatBay. Mothers arrived carrying toddlers. He built a machine, to scan people's brains. Some people he declared, were immune to The Crystal Plague, and the scanner showed him that. He took babies from their mother's arms and threw them into the ravenous crowds, than dragged the mothers into the safe haven, while they screamed and tried to go back for their children. He told the mothers they were immune, their children were not. Others, he took the children into the refuge, and kick the mothers off the cliffs of BatBay Mountain."
"So he was evil."
"No. We thought he was. When it happened. There was a group, arrived from the future. Convinced if we went back to the past and Ongadada didn't happen, than both the doctor would never be born and The Crystal Plague would never happen. So they invented time travel and portal magic, and created the portals. Time Travel was created for one purpose, to kill the baby. Or rather, to kill his father's wife, before his older brothers could even be born. That was my job."
"To kill a baby? Or it's mother?"
"No. I couldn't. I went there, just like I was ordered to do. I was convinced they were right. So I was also convinced it would be no difficult task."
"But you're not evil. You can't kill, can you? I can sense that in you. You've never taken a life."
"No. I've never taken a life. But it was worse."
"I got personally involved. I was born into the time period of The Crystal Plague. I was born in 1959, so I was still a young man in 1983 when the bulk of the plague hit. When the scientists from the future, asked me to go to the past and stop Ongadada, I was living in the plague while it was happening and I'd seen the doctor throw children out upper windows of the hospital. We all thought he went mad. I believed I was doing the right thing, going back in time. Stopping Ongadada."
"And you don't believe it any more?"
"Things the scientists have done since then. When I went back in time. I was supposed to find this family, and kill the pregnant wife. I found the family, sort of. They miscalculated the time. Sent me to the wrong year. So I meet the doctor's father, before he had married. I figured, I could make friends with him. Maybe I wouldn't have to kill the girl or the baby. Maybe, I could just prevent him from ever meeting her."
"And how did that go?"
"We fell in love. Me and him. I couldn't go back to my own time, didn't want to. I wanted to stay with him. Than he met the girl. He loved her so much. Killing her would hurt him. He'd been thorough so much hell in his life, and with her he was happy. I couldn't. . ."
"You couldn't kill her."
"No. I couldn't hurt him. So I couldn't kill her. And that's the irony. Turns out, if I'd never interfere, me never would have met her and Ongadada never would have happened. Strange twist of fate. I can't explain it, but Ongadada happened BECAUSE I went back to the past. In the original time line, Ongadada, didn't happen. Creating time travel is what caused Ongadada, and yet, without Ongadada, time travel can't be invented. Ongadada is a fixed point in time, so long as time travel exists. Because time travel can't exist otherwise. But if no one goes back in time, Ongadada never happens. It's an impossible time loop folded back on itself. One can't exist without the other."
"But you said this time it didn't happen."
"Yes. I know. They punished me you know."
"The Diontite Scientists."
"The ones who created time travel?"
"Yes. Because of my inability to not fall in love, they went back in time, to 1959, took my pregnant mother and threw her into Hell. I was born in Hell."
"Hell, meaning what exactly?"
"It's an alternate dimension of Earth, that exists alongside Earth. But the whole planet is melting. On fire. Forests and plains burn endlessly. The Moon has been destroyed. So the Earth is being pulled closer to the sun. Mountains are melting. The oceans evaporating. Almost dry. What used to be the Pacific Ocean, is a vast canyon, full of dead sea creatures. Strange, sea creatures, from deep, deep below, from depths deeper than Man has ever explored, rose to the surface. Strange deep sea JellyFish, climb out of the briny pools that are all that are left of the ocean, and attack any life-form they find. Suck out their brains. Steal their bodies."
"Thullids. They aren't from another planet. They originated from Earth."
"Are you certain?"
"Oh, yes. Positive."
"I remember the planet dying. But there was so much confusion. ZooLock grabbed me and put me on a ship. I thought we went to another planet. Not another time."
"It was another time."
"How do you know?"
"I was there."
"At the end of the world?"
"At the end of the world. And your beginning. ZooLock loved you."
"He'd have done anything for you."
"I know. Poor ZooLock. I've not seen him in years. I don't know what happened to him."
"He lost you in the desert."
"Yes. I remember. My little black pony. I've not seen ZooLock since the unicorn arrived. And than I meet BoomFuzzy. I loved BoomFuzzy. I miss him. He died."
"I know. He loved you too. And The Diontite Scientists, they will do anything, to keep you and him separated."
"You are the last of your kind."
"I'm the Last Moon Elf."
"No. You're the last female Immortal JellyFish and you are carrying a clutch of eggs. Seven million eggs, that need seven million hosts."
"Seven million. Is that not the number of people the doctor saved?"
"It is. And that's why he saved them. Why he chose the ones he chose. He picked to be hosts for your babies."
"My babies will never be born. I am not only the last female, I am simply the last of the Thullid Jellies. There is no male to fertilize my eggs. So they will never hatch."
"How would you know?"
"It was in the year 2525, that the Thullids rose out of the dying sea to escape the dying planet. They come from the centre of the Earth. From the deepest, darkest reaches of the canyons beneath the ocean. They surface, to dry land, in the years before the planet dies. And they discover the time machines and go back in time, to try to save themselves. Only in the past, the ocean was, different. More salty. Less salty. I don't know. Maybe the surface water is different from the deep water, and they can't swim through it to get to the deep water. Whatever the reason, they become trapped on land and can't return to the depths of the ocean."
"And hat has to do with my unfertilized clutch of eggs, what, exactly?"
"You become the last female Jelly in 2525. But it is right now, what year?"
"Meaning the apocalypse has not yet happened. And there are still male Jellies, right now under the sea, seeking their Medusa."
"But I'm up here on dry land. Living in the body of a male Elf."
"Well, perhaps than, one of the males will get smart enough to figure out how to rise to the surface and live in something compatible with your male Elf?"
"That is not something I hold out hope for."
"Well, the doctor was successful in saving seven million people, remember? So successful, that people me to the past to kill his mother before he could be born."
"But you didn't kill her."
"No. I fell in love with instead. And now I'll do anything to protect my beloved."
"Love will destroy you. I know. Look at what happened to me and BoomFuzzy."
"Do not give up hope on BoomFuzzy. He'll move Heaven and Hell for you."
"His soul was cast into Hell."
"And he crowned himself Hell's ruler and broke open the gates of Hell to find a way back to you."
Quaraun did not respond and both men remained silent for a long time, watching the water, flowing down the river.
“Are your pupils supposed to look like that?” Quaraun asked, still focused on the stranger’s yellow eyes.
“Your pupils aren’t round.”
“You have eyes like a llama.”
“I have the eyes of a sheep.”
“Not like a llama?”
“No! Certainly not.”
“Does it make a difference?”
“It certainly does.”
“Why? Aren’t sheep and llama both similar?”
“No! We are nothing alike!”
“I’m not a llama.”
“I didn’t suggest you were. Though you do smell like one.”
“I . . . what?”
“You smell like a bale of hay,” Quaraun said.
“You just say the first thing that pops into your head, don’t you?”
“I do. Yes. Should I not do that?”
“Saying you smell like hay is rude?”
“But you do smell like hay.”
“I . . .” the stranger started to retort something angrily, but stopped and calmed his tone. “I’m a shepherd. I live on a sheep farm.”
“One can live on a sheep farm without smelling like the musty, musky sheep. You smell like you sleep in the barn with the sheep.”
“As a matter of fact, I do.”
“You sleep in the barn with the sheep?”
Quaraun fell silent for a moment, then asked: “Are you alright? You screamed like you were in pain.”
“Yes. I... uhm,” he hesitated and stared up at the sky. Then looked back at Quaraun. “I fell.”
“In a field of clover? There’s nothing to trip over.”
“Yes. Well, there’s grass.”
“You tripped on the grass?”
“I didn’t say I tripped. I said I fell.”
“Is there a difference?”
“Around me there is.”
“Do you need help up?”
“No. I think I should sit here and rest for a while.”
“Are you okay?”
“It looks like I’ve sprained my ankle. I shouldn’t walk for a while.”
“If you can’t walk, then you are not okay.”
“I will be fine.”
“We should put some camphor on it. I have some.”
Before the stranger could object, Quaraun knelt beside him and set about to tending to his ankle, but did not get far.
“Oh my! You have no feet!” Quaraun exclaimed, when he noticed the golden cloven hooves.
“No. I do not have feet.”
“You’re a goat!”
“I’m a sheep. Cotswold.”
“So you’re a Satyr?”
“Ursiug. I have long soft, fluffy, luxuriantly, lush Cotswold sheep’s fleece growing from my legs, not short, dry, rough, scratchy, bristly goat’s hair.”
“Your golden fleece is beautiful, it matches your lovely golden hair. If you’re a sheep, then you’re a ram?”
“Have you got horns on your head?”
“Somewhere, under my hair. I keep them filed down. Otherwise I wouldn’t blend in with Human crowds. And Humans do behave rather badly to discovering someone with horns, tail, and cloven hoofs.”
“You’ve a lot a hair.”
“Not as much as you.”
"No. No one has hair like mine. Yours is almost dreadlocs."
"Yes. Wool is as difficult to brush your tentacles are. My locks knot up after only a few hours of not being brushed."
“I like dreadlocs,” Quaraun stated for no reason whatsoever.
“Oh yes. I know you well.”
“And your strange golden eyes are like a pleco, not a llama.”
“A pleco? I’m a sheep, not a catfish.”
“Pity. I like sea creatures.”
“Because you are one?”
“You’re a female Medusa JellyFish masquerading to be a male Elf.”
“How does the little Satyr know that?”
“That word again.”
“I’m an Ursiug, not a Satyr. Satyrs are goats. Ursiugs are sheep. I’m not a Satyr, I’m an Ursiug. I’m not a goat. I’m a sheep.”
“Ah! Well, in any case, you’ve lovely golden hooves. And I . . . uhm . . . I . . . don’t . . . know where your ankles are.”
"I've twisted my ankles before. Quite often actually. Bad side effect of portals that open on a hill in the future that happens to be a valley in the past."
"You fell out of portal?"
"I can heal your leg. It's only. . ."
"No!" He quickly grabbed Quaraun's arm and shoved the Elf back away from him. "I know you can. But don't."
"I know what it does to you."
"It is easy to heal you."
"I don't want you to. I've seen you heal things before. It weakens you. Badly."
"When have you seen me heal anyone?"
"In the future. A different future. The world was dying. Forests were dead. Grass dead. You went frantic healing everything. Restoring life to every tree and blade of grass you saw. I didn't realize what you were doing at first. I didn't know how you did it. Until you collapsed. You exchange your own health and draw the sickness and death of the things you heal. And you're not strong enough for it. To heal me, you'd take my injury, and you're frail enough as it is."
"I am an Elf. It is my nature to heal things."
"I hate to see anything suffer."
"I'll be fine. Get on with whatever you were doing. Don't let me get in your way."
“I was looking for the Swamp Hag.”
"Yes. I've never found her not in any life time, and yet, 3 years ago, I meet her. Very strange. That had never happened before. She stole a sword from a shepherd and he wanted it back and chased her through the woods and she hid in my tent. Thing was, the man chasing her never arrived. I suspected no one was ever chasing her at all."
"I know where she lives."
"No one ever does."
"With good reason. She's well hidden. The hut is built out of sod and covered with moss. It's almost impossible to see. Follow the river, East toward the ocean. There's a swamp, followed by a ravine, climb down into the ravine, follow that, you'll come to another swamp. She's there."
"You're the one who was chasing her, aren't you?"
"I have reasons."
"Who are you?"
"Gremlin? Is that a name?"
"More of a title. A nickname. The car is a Gremlin. It should have landed by now. I hope I didn't lose it. Gremlins are damned difficult to get nowadays. My name is Gremoorsh Loire. You knew a friend of my fathers."
"And your father is?"
"I believe your friend referred to him as The Ghoul."
"The Ghoul? Your father was The Ghoul?"
"Yes. That's why you used to call me GhoulSpawn."
"You did. When I was younger. A lot younger."
"Gibedon's second in command. I never met The Ghoul. Loyal servant of King Gwallmaiic, from what I knew."
"You know King Gwallmaiic as BoomFuzzy?"
"No. I met his after he died. After you resurrected him."
"I've not done that."
"I know. Something went wrong. The Diontites, they changed history. Trapped you. Trapped him. Put up barriers to keep you apart. I'm undoing their changes. Reverted the world back to it's original history, before arrogant aliens decided to interfere. You WERE supposed to kill Ghirardelli and Finderu, and you did, originally. The first lifetime you lived. And you DID bring BoomFuzzy back. But it caused. . . it caused. . . the Crystal Plague."
"The Crystal Plague?"
"It's. . . there were side effects to true resurrection of the dead, and they went back in time to change things. But their changes caused the end of the planet. I'm fixing it. I'm putting things back to way they were supposed to be."
"You're rewriting history."
"THEY rewrote history. I'm erasing their changes and making things right."
"Because I love you."
"Yes and you forgot that."
"I've never seen you before."
"You've seen me many times."
“I've taken lots of forms around you. This one you are highly attracted to. You like this form. You finds it wicked attractive, so I keep it, more often than most. If you wanted a female, I would be a female. Had you wanted an Elf, I would been an Elf. I hate Dwarves, but had you wanted a Dwarf, I would been a Dwarf. I can be any gender of any race of any species you desire me to be. I've been testing out a lot of different ones on you for a lot of years now.”
"You're a shape-shifter?"
"Something like that."
"BoomFuzzy was a shape-shifter."
"I don't remember you, though."
"They made sure you forgot it. I must go, and you must kill Ghirardelli. She lives over there."
Quaraun stood looking in the direction Gremlin had pointed, than turned back to look down at the sheep-man who was still in too much pain to get up.
"I don't feel I should leave you here," Quaraun said. "It will rain soon. Look at the clouds. You've no place to get out of the weather and you can't walk to get anywhere."
"I'll be fine. I always am."
"You can't walk. From the look of you, you're in more pain then you're trying to let be known."
"Have you a suggestion?"
"I've a tent."
"You can stay with me until your leg heals. I wouldn't mind the company."
"It takes about twelve weeks for a torn tendon to heal."
"Is that what's wrong?"
"I think so. Longer if one of the bones is broken. Which it might be."
"Other than finding Ghirardelli, I don't have any place to be. And she's not going anywhere."
"You'd let me, a stranger, stay in your tent with you for twelve or more weeks?"
"I don't know. But I feel like I can trust you. I feel I've known you forever. And you're wearing the same yellow Thullid silk, embroidered in pink jellyfish, that ZooLock was wearing, last time I saw him, in the desert of the Di'Jinn, before my unicorn arrived. You remind me of ZooLock and BoomFuzzy the Unicorn. I miss them both."
There are some days where the memory of his past life was so vivid, he thought he could still smell that lovely tannis fragrance of crisp autumn air. Other days, like today, when his head was spinning and he felt sick to his stomach, there was nothing he could do but be haunted by ghosts of his past.
Quaraun stumbled across the apartment. His strides were swift and determined. Or as precipitous and controlled as he could compel them to act. He’d enjoyed a few bottles too much green Fairy wine to drink, and he knew it, but he couldn’t oblige anybody else to notice it. No. He wasn’t supposed to be out drinking this evening. Not tonight. Tomorrow is a considerably important day.
Steady. He must walk steady. And consistently natural. And calmly stable.
Balanced is more advisable than stable.
Balancing was desirable.
Upright was important. It would do no good to make attempts to walk if one was not standing upright beforehand.
Quaraun wondered if he was standing upright or not. The determination in his steps became his immediate focus. Quaraun kept an eye on his feet to make certain they were moving in the correct places. He couldn’t discern if they were or not.
Must walk steady. Mustn’t let anyone notice. Must... Must...
Thunder boomed outside.
The momentary manifestation of blinding luminescence infiltrated the room with its purple haze before melting away and surrendering the chamber back into the blackness of night.
Wait...who is that?
The instant burst of light lasted scarcely long enough to imbue the lodging with intense light.
There was a man in the corridor. Standing just outside the door. Looking in. Staring at Quaraun. Watching. Waiting.
How’d he got there?
Wasn’t the door bolted?
Quaraun walked closer to the door.
“Who are you?” Quaraun called out.
Quaraun stumbled, but hastily caught himself.
Couldn’t let this fellow think he was drunk, either.
He squinted his eyes. Straining to see through the darkness.
Hoping for the lightning to flash again.
There was a man in the doorway.
A man. Where there shouldn’t be one.
“Who are you?” Quaraun called out again.
The man stood in the doorway.
He didn't move.
He didn't speak.
A ghost of his past, haunting him in this unfamiliar place.
Might be one of his friends.
They shouldn't be here.
They couldn't be here.
They were dead.
Dead and gone forever.
It wasn't fair.
They should have been able to live a little longer. Live until he was ready.
He'd wished for it.
But too late.
Because, there is no promise, not if you die first.
His mind raced through the possibilities.
BoomFuzzy was dead.
It had happened before.
"Hello?" a voice called out.
He opened his eyes.
Two men were standing over him.
No one was there.
They were dead.
And he wasn't.
And never would be.
He was immortal.
He couldn't die.
Forced to live life over and over.
To watch his loved ones die again and again.
Every life time.
Unable to save them.
Once upon a time there was light.
There were colours.
Joy. But those days were gone.
Now there was only darkness and silence.
Darkness and drink.
But who knows?
Maybe. . .
No. . .
Couldn't be. . .
You didn't care. You weren't there. You abandoned me, when I needed you most. You left me behind. Quaraun opened his eyes.
A glowing purple unicorn was standing over him.
"You're mane and tail are corded. So lovely."
The unicorn answered, but Quaraun could not hear his voice or tell wat was said.
A glittering gold sheep was kneeling beside the unicorn.
"You have such beautiful golden wool."
They were both talking but he couldn't hear them.
Quaraun's vision blurred and doubled, than went in and out of focus a few times. The muffled sounds of his friends’ voices bounced around like a rubber ball inside his head. He tried to focus on one voice, one sound, straining to hear who was talking and what they said. Finally his vision became clearer and the sounds became less garbled.
"You okay?" the glittering gold sheep asked.
"Who was the man in the doorway?" Quaraun asked, not answering the glittering gold sheep's question.
"That man!" Quaraun sat up and pointed towards the door.
He wasn't there.
The man was gone.
Quaraun looked around.
The sun was up. It was daytime.
Night was gone. It had slunk away to the shadows, to hide for another day. Fleeing from the sun's warm embrace. Waiting for sunset to come and free it back into the world again.
"There was a man there," Quaraun said to no one in particular. "Where did he go? Did you see him?"
"No," The glowing purple unicorn answered. "Only thing we seen was you passed out on the floor."
A knocking, rapped quickly.
Than the knocking came again.
Quaraun opened his eyes.
He looked around the room.
"Where am I?"
He was sitting at a large wooden table.
It was a small room.
Old and old and old and old.
Quaraun rubbed his eyes.
They were dry.
Dry from crying too many tears.
Unable to cry any more.
His mouth dry too.
He looked around again.
The glittering gold sheep and the glowing purple unicorn were both gone. They had never been there.
Very, very small.
That was how Quaraun felt.
Small and alone.
Sad and alone.
Lost and alone.
So much alone.
Quaraun glanced up at the windows in this room.
They were small too.
So high above.
Out of reach.
Nothing felt real.
Death was real.
His hand dangled down over the edge of the table.
Quaraun looked down.
He was wearing only the clothes he'd had on last night.
His boots were missing.
"Oh god!" Quaraun whispered to himself. Quaraun stood and stumbled and quickly sat back down. "I'm drunk. Why am I so drunk?"
He thought back to the wine he'd been drinking all night. Bottle after bottle of it. Maybe that had something to do with it.
Quaraun nervously twisted his hands around the long thin neck of the green glass wine bottle he was clutching.
"I need to either stop drinking Fairy wine, or drink so much of it I never wake up out of it's embrace. How did I get here?"
Quaraun tried to focus his eyes through the semi-drunk blur, he was still drifting in and out of.
Lots of wooden shelves lined the walls.
Some shelves were jam packed full of ancient leather bound books.
Other shelves were littered for various assorted glass jars, coloured glass bottles, clay pots, and various brick a brack.
Bundles of dried herbs hung from the rafters.
"Ah! The Swamp Hag's house. Forgot I was here." He paused, suddenly remembering why he was here. "Oh dear. I'm running out of leads."
Quaraun glanced down at the dishevelled lifeless body of the Swamp Hag on the floor behind him. Her blood was pooling on the wooden planks.
His attention was brought back to the sound which had awoken him. The knocking sound thudded, dully through the house again.
He turned back to he front of the building.
"Damn. Someone's at your door. I suppose we should answer it. You certainly can't."
Quaraun pushed his chair back from the table, stood up, picked up the Swamp Hag's head and stuffed it into the pink beaded heart shaped bag of holding on his hip.
"My god! I just realized. This has never happened before."
Quaraun paused, took out the Swamp Hag's head and stared at it in disbelief.
"In ten thousand life times, I've never before killed Ghirardelli. I've never before even met her. So much is changed in this lifetime. I don't even know who's at the door. This is all new. None of this has happened before. I'm doomed to live the live the same events over and over. Endless lifetimes. It's always the same. It never changes. Why is it different this time? I'm not reliving my past this time. I'm on a new path in life. One I've never been on."