IMPORTANT UPDATE:

Due to the murder of my family and the resulting court cases, police investigations, and FBI investigations, I no longer have time to daily update this website.

Likewise ALL novel, short story, and article writing projects are on hiatus.

All book releases, book signings, workshops, and convention appearances for 2015 (and unknown amount of time after) are on hold while the murder investigation of my family is ongoing.

Writing advice for the worldbuilding, character creation, and other writing how to articles are on hold.

From now on, the bulk of updates here will be about the investigation into the murder of my family.

No, NOT just THIS author website, not JUST the EelKat pename, not just self published books: ALL 15 (fifteen) of my penames are on hiatus, that includes traditional published books as well, newspaper reporting jobs, editing jobs, my work for Harlequin Romance Novels, my work for Disney... EVERYTHING is on hiatus. Every publishing house I work for, every series I write, every penname I write under: they are ALL on hiatus, ALL projects.

There is NOTHING being published under ANY penname, not for ANY series, not for ANY publisher, from 2015 onward. EVERYTHING is on hold due to the murder of my family. I do not know when or even if, any of the projects will be restarted or finished.

Yes, BOTH the magazines I owned are indefinitely shut down because of this as well, with no plans for either magazine to return. The publishing house I own is also closed to submissions from now on, we will no longer be publishing anything. It is unlikely we will reopen the publishing house either.

All book signing tours, workshops, letures, PAX events, ComicCon events, carnival/festival/state fair/car show events are also canceled. I will not be attending ANY of them. If a venue still has my name listed as a guest/speaker/etc it is because they've not yet removed it. I WILL NOT be there, no matter where it is! 

EVERYTHING, EVERYWHERE, IS CANCELED!

The ONLY thing continuing from this point on, is THIS website, where I'll post updates on the murder investigation, hopefully every week, but, you know how it is when 10 members of your family are beheaded, it's kind of difficult to have a schedule for anything anymore.







Official Home Page Of The Quaraun Series
The Adventures of Quaraun The Insane: Bizarro Fantasy


FAQs: What happened to The Summoner of Darkness? The book was never released and the whole tour was cancelled.

The Summoner of Darkness, my NaNoWriMo 2014 novel that was due to release summer 2015.

It never got released because my family was murdered April 10, 2015, and I obviously had to stop work on the novel. 

I've had quite a bit of trouble going back into working on Summoner of Darkness, due to events that happened while I was writing it.

It was due to release June 2015 and we - me and my family - had just bought my motorhome a few weeks earlier (February 21) because we had a cross country book signing tour planned, which included a booth at the San Diego Comicon (do you have any idea how hard it is to get into that convention as a guest speaker?) and we were all going together.

But than my family was murdered April 10, 2015 and I stopped work on the book, and I had to cancel 57 book signings/lectures/workshops in 43 states, as well.

So, the tour was cancelled, the book was never released because it was never finished, and my family is dead.

I stopped working on the book and started playing Witcher 3.

I've been playing Witcher 3 ever since and I've not been able to go back into writing new novels for The Quaraun series without massive post traumatic stress disorder issues. That's why there has been no new releases for The Quaraun series since April 10, 2015.

I've not published anything at all since my family was murdered. 

No novels. No short stories. Not just the Quaraun series. No series at all. Not on any of my 15 other pennames either. Not for Disney or Harlequin either. Nothing. No where, in over 6 years.

I don't know when or if I'll go back to writing.

Sorry, but, my entire family was murdered and my life has been 24 hours a day every day for weeks, months, now years, of police investigations, and FBI investigations, and lawyers and court and even finding time to write between all of that, is just very difficult right now.

FBI Agent Andy Drewer out of the Portland, Maine FBI office is in charge of the case. If you have information about the April 10, 2015 murder of my family or any of the attacks on our home and relatives, give it to him not me. He can be reached @ +1-(207)-774-9322 




Well, this just pissed me off, so I'm putting it on the front page...

If you want to answer this yourself.... just click the link Reddit provides in the embed code... there are already 700 outraged responders, so, you won't be alone in responding to this.


>>>I was told to avoid making my main character disabled unless "it matters to the plot, like how a protagonist is basically only gay if it's an LGBT-centered book". I want other thoughts on this...

>>>My friend and I were having a debate, see.

>>>Because my main character has epilepsy, something that happened after a traumatic brain injury from the past. Long story short, his older half-brother tried to kill him and his mother, was half-successful (killed mom) but failed to kill the MC. He survived, but with epilepsy.

>>>However, my friend said this, essentially:

>>>"You honestly shouldn't make your character disabled unless it matters to the plot in some way. Otherwise people will either read too much into it or think it matters when it doesn't. Kind of like how you shouldn't make your MC black or gay or whatever unless you're trying to make a political statement or if you're writing a specifically LGBT-centered book. It's all about markets and selling."

>>>Now, of course it's not verbatim since we were talking for a while, but they were basically saying not to write...anyone, I guess? Fucking, like, I guess I'm not supposed to write anyone because of "markets" or whatever. Because my book isn't about disability or epilepsy. It's actually a fantasy book. It just so happens that the MC is epileptic. But they said, because of that, that I shouldn't have an epileptic MC since people will "read too much into it" or whatever...?

>>>Does anyone even get what my friend is saying?

>>>I mean, fuck it, my MC is still gonna be epileptic and nobody can stop me, but my friend seemed dead-set determined to tell me I shouldn't since it's not, like, a central theme or thing or whatever. I don't know...

>>>Thoughts?


Thoughts?

I have so many thoughts.

Let's explore them.

I am not a plot device. Neither are the characters I write.

My MC Quaraun, walks with a cane because of a lame leg from an old injury (a sword through his hip), has joint pain that is probably arthritis, but arthritis hasn’t been discovered yet in his time period, is clearly Autistic even though Kanner’s syndrome won’t be discovered until the 1940s, has a learning disability that causes him to not be able to mentally process numbers/time/years/dates/math, he has obsessive-compulsive disorder; he has post-traumatic stress disorder, he sometimes can talk fine around close friends but struggles with selective mutism and extreme anxiety around strangers, punding is a serious problem and trips up his ability to do everyday things - like if he sees a field of flowers he is compelled to pick as many flowers as he can carry and he doesn’t know why he does it and it usually requires a friend to come along and pull him out of the flower field because he can’t stop on his own, he is prone to walk along railroad tracks with a bag picking up every grey rock that has a white quartz stripe in it and he has thousands of them around his house instead of having a front lawn due to do many years of doing this daily, and he is prone to walking for hours on end on ridge-top roof poles of the old abandoned factories and mill buildings along the Saco River for no reason at all other than he feels a desperate need to be close to the clouds.

Why?

Not a shred of that has anything to do with the plot.

So why do I write him that way?

Because:

   *   I walk with a cane due to a lame leg from an old injury (a two foot long foundation nail/iron rod through my hip when I was 4 years old

   *   I have joint pain that is probably arthritis

   *   I have Kanner’s syndrome aka ACTUAL Autism, which is NOT on the Autism Spectrum (because only illness that are NOT Autism are on the Autism Spectrum, which means the 861 illnesses that can be confused with but are not Autism) and is in no way, shape, or form related to Aspergers

   *   I have a learning disability that causes me to not be able to mentally process numbers/time/years/dates/math

   *   I have obsessive-compulsive disorder

   *   I have post-traumatic stress disorder

   *   I sometimes can talk fine around close friends but struggle with selective mutism and extreme anxiety around strangers 

   *   Punding is a serious problem for me and trips up my ability to do everyday things - like when I see a field of flowers I am compelled to pick as many flowers as I can carry and I don’t know why I do it and it usually requires a friend to come along and pull me out of the flower field because I can’t stop picking flowers on my own

   *   I am prone to walk along railroad tracks with a bag picking up every grey rock that has a white quartz stripe in it and I have thousands of them around my yard instead of having a front lawn due to doing this daily for over 50 years now - I started doing it as a toddler, the railroad tracks go right by my yard

   *   I am prone to walking for hours on end on ridge-top roof poles of the old abandoned factories and mill buildings along the Saco River for no reason at all other than I feel a desperate need to be close to the clouds

I am not a plot device; I didn’t choose to have those things. These things exist in my life, like it or not.

I write him having the same disabilities as me, because I know what it is like to live with these things. I know how these things trip up everyday activities, like how I can’t just open the door and walk outside because I get to the end of the driveway and go back to the door to check the lock, 10 or 20 times before I finally make it out of the driveway... and he does this door checking thing to, not because it has any meaning to the plot, but because, I don’t know how to write a person who does NOT do that. 

This is who I am and how I live, and these are things I have no control over. There is no plot reason why these are physical and mental illnesses I live with. They simply are physical and mental illnesses that I live with. And guess what... I’ve had ALL of these things, even arthritis and PTSD since I was 8 years old, and because I’ve lived with these things for 40+ years, these things are NORMAL for me. This is my normal. I wouldn’t know what it was like to live without these things, because these are things I was either born with or got before the age of 8, so have had them all since early childhood.

Because this is MY NORMAL, I wouldn’t even begin to know how to write a “mainstream normal” character who did not have these disabilities.

And thus, my MC is written with ALL of these things in his daily life, because they are HIS NORMAL, simply because they are MY NORMAL.

There is no plot reason behind my MC having any of these disabilities. This is just who he is.

My disabilities are not plot devices.

On top of that, he’s a Persian Mountain Jew Gypsy living in America, and THAT has nothing to do with the plot either. Why is he a Persian Mountain Jew Gypsy living in America? Because I am a Persian Mountain Jew Gypsy living in America. I know my own culture, traditions, religions, holidays, taboos, etc, so I just naturally write him having the same. I know the stereotypes and stigmas of being a Gypsy and I know how Americans treat you until they find out you are Jewish or Gypsy and suddenly they change how they treat you completely, and so I have characters treat him the same way Americans treat me, and that has nothing to do with the plot either, it’s just me writing him being treated the same way I am treated.

My race and cultures are not plot devices.

Plus, he is bi-polygamous, has 5 wives and 2 male spouses. Why? Because, you guessed it; I was born and raised in a bi-polygamous culture. My grandfather has 2 wives, my mother has 2 husbands, my uncle with the most wives has 15, my aunt with the most husbands has 9. His being bi-poly has nothing to do with the plot, the story is not LGBTQA+ centred. I write him that way, simply because that is NORMAL lifestyle for my people, and thus it’s just default normal for me to write him that way.

I could write him as a straight, white, able-bodied American, but, why should I? I am not myself a straight, white, able-bodied American and I wouldn’t know the first thing about writing a straight, white, able-bodied American. If I tried to write him as a straight, white, able-bodied American I’d end up filling it with cookie-cutter stereotypes, because what do I know about about white people, straight people, or American culture?

Would it be a plot device if my characters were healthy? White? American? Straight? Monogamy? No! So why would it be a plot device for me to write my characters exactly as I am?

Your friend is wrong on so many levels of wrong.

>>>I mean, fuck it, my MC is still gonna be epileptic and nobody can stop me, but my friend seemed dead-set determined to tell me I shouldn’t since it’s not, like, a central theme or thing or whatever. I don’t know...

You can and SHOULD write your character however you want. Your friend is wrong.

Yes, there are people who write disabilities ONLY because they want to be PC/inclusive/SJW/political, and if that’s how they want to write, well, let them write that way. Them writing that way, shouldn’t stop you from having your characters your way.

But here’s the thing, my MC’s disabilities, culture, and lifestyle may not be what the story is about and may not have any bearings on the plot, BUT, these things DO affect his life, how he acts, how he talks, things he can do, things he can’t do, things he wants to do and get frustrated over not being able to do.

For example, because of my leg/hip/spine injury, I can not climb stairs on my own. I require a person to hold me steady, while I use my cane and hold the railing, and going up just 2 or 3 steps on someone’s front porch can take a half hour or more - this is something that takes an able-person under 30 seconds to do. This is a enormous issue and causes me to be unable to visit certain relatives/friends because they live on the 2nd/3rd+ floor and have no elevator, so I can’t get up to their apartment, and when my family goes to visit their family, I have to wait in the car in the driveway, alone, by myself, while everyone else is in the apartment eating dinner and watching tv. This is the reality of having a crippled leg/hip/spine. An injury that I received when 3 strangers attacked me in the parking lot, while I was 8 months pregnant. I’m legally blind and almost deaf, so I neither heard no saw the attackers coming, while I was putting groceries in the back seat of my car. They killed my baby, broke my spine, broke my hip, broke my leg, and left me for dead. I was 5 months paralyzed, 18 months learning to walk again, and that happened November 14, 2013, 8 years ago, and I’m still not fully recovered. I’m out of the wheelchair (something doctors did not think was possible) and I’m slowly improving, but the reality is, my spinal column is crushed and can’t be operated on, so I’ll never run again, I’ll never walk normal again, and stairs my possibly never be something I can do again either.

Well, I wrote my MC to have this exact same injury. So, he can’t maneuver stairs, he needs help with even small steps. He can’t sit in chairs because his hip don’t bend normal, so he has to sit on pillows on the floor, he likewise can’t sleep in a bed because he can’t climb up into a bed, so he sleeps on blankets on the floor. Why? 

Because...

   *   I can’t maneuver stairs

   *   I need help with even small steps

   *   I can’t sit in chairs because my hip don’t bend normal, so I have to sit on pillows on the floor

   *   I likewise can’t sleep in a bed because I can’t climb up into a bed, so I sleep on blankets on the floor

You see him trying to pour tea, a task that takes 2 hands, while also trying to stand up leaning heavily on his cane. You see him sitting on pillows on the floor, having no chairs and no bed in his apartment, and you see him grabbing hold of the table to hoist himself up, while steadying himself with the cane. You see him hiking across the country, but not getting very far each day, because of the agony of his leg, causing him to have to stop and rest constantly, every half hour or so.

The story is about him struggling with the survivor guilt, after his lover commits suicide and so his disability has nothing to do with the plot at all, BUT, the disability is a major part of his life, causing many struggles that cause him to not be able to do basic “normal” things like climbing stairs, sitting in chairs, or sleeping in beds, and so this shows up in several scenes. You SEE him being disabled, but there is never a point where his disability is ever talked about, not in narration and not in dialogue. You just see his struggle to do normal things and you see the cane there in passing. 

Well, think about this now... writing a character with a lame leg and a cane is a pretty common disability for abled authors to write, but when was the last time you saw a character with a lame leg and a cane ACTUALLY STRUGGLE with ANYTHING? They don’t. Why? Because the author looks at a lame leg as just a thing you drag, and treats the cane lie a decoration. They NEVER write the character struggling on stairs, not able to sit at a table because they can’t bend the leg to sit in the chair, sleeping on the floor because they can’t lift their leg up high enough to climb up into a bed. They don’t write those things, because they have no clue that someone with a cane does those things, because they never had to live with a lame leg.

That’s where the problem of undisabled writing disabled comes in. Granted, they mean well and are trying to be inclusive and all, but they have never lived with that kind of disability so they have no clue how big of an impact something like that has on your life. 

It’s one thing I liked about the Witcher books. Several characters have lame legs, broken legs, use a cane or crutch, and the way it’s written, well, you KNOW the author had a broken leg at some point in his life, because you see the characters actually struggling to walk up hills or get on a horse. Take Avallac’h for instance. We are told he rides his horse all the time, even in the house, because he has a lame leg and can’t walk on his own. The one time we see him walking, he has 3 women gathered around him, holding him and helping him walk. Or Dijkstra, we see him, unable to run, dragging his leg, his leg in a brace. The descriptions are amazingly accurate and the struggles are very realistic. To the point, it’s obvious the author had to deal with a crippled leg at some point in his life.

It’s not a political statement to be disabled, but it is something that causes simple everyday tasks to be a challenge, so it will change how you write scenes of your character walking, eating, sleeping, talking, etc, depending on the disability. The story doesn’t have to be able the disability to have a disabled character. 

I am disabled, but you know what? It doesn’t define my life. I go hiking every day with my dog. I have to stop and rest along the trail because of my leg, and I can’t keep up with other hikers or joggers on the trail, but you know what? I’m out of that damned wheelchair against all odds and to the shock of all the doctors, who in 2013, said I would never walk again. I was paralyzed. I was in a wheelchair, and I said fuck this, I’m going to walk again. And it took me years to do it, but I’m back on my feet again. I refuse to let being disabled stop me from living my life. I refuse to let being disabled hold me back. I refuse to let being disabled define who I am. I got out of that fucking wheelchair and progressed to a walker, and then I progressed to a cane, and 2 years ago, I couldn’t walk to the end of my driveway, and now today, I walk over a mile a day with my dog, and I’m not stopping until I can do 2 miles a day, then 3 miles a day... before 2013, I took 13 mile hikes every day, and it took me 8 years to get back up to 1 mile a day, but if it takes me another 8 years to get up to 13 miles a day again, well, then I’m just going to spend 8 years doing that. I refuse to let a disability control my life and tell me what I can or can not do. 

And so I hate it when characters in fiction are disabled for plot device and SJWism, because I know immediately no actually disabled person wrote that. Token disabled characters, read as though all of us disabled people want sympathy, but we don’t. Heck, I turned down the government disability check and kept right on working. I hate the whole pity-party thing abled people do, “ooooh poooor cripple”. You know what? I’m not a dog. Stop patting me on the head before I plow you down with my wheelchair and beat you over the head with my cane. I don’t want your fucking pity or sympathy, and I hate it when abled people write disabled characters to pull in the pity points with readers. 

And you know something I really hate a lot? I hate when Fantasy novels throw in a disabled character and somehow magic cures them. Or a blind character, who can “see” through magic thought waves, or a deaf character who “hears” with telepathy, or a crippled character who suddenly magic happens and now she can fly and not need her legs. I HATE those types of characters/plots in Fantasy. It feels like the author was trying to erase disabled people from existence so they wouldn’t have to be bothered with looking at them. It’s very: “Oh disabled people bother me, I want to pretend they don’t exist, so let me wave a magic wand and POOF the disability transforms into a superpower”. I just hate that type of story and that type of use of disabled characters. That’s just erasure of disabilities. It’s like the author is saying they want to eradicate disabled people.

In the end,  say, yes, write your character with whatever disability you want/need them to have, but, don’t do it to pull the pity card, be PC/woke/SJW, or because you feel the need to be diverse. Do it because it’s right for the character.

Disabled people need to be in books more, yes, but they also need to not see their disability be used as a marketing tool or mocked or turned into the primary plot. Let disabled characters have a story that is something NOT related to their disability, and let the disability just be a thing in the background that they have to work around.

Just like how my relearning to walk is not a political statement, so too should writers be allowed to write a disabled character without that character being a political statement either. I am not a plot device. Neither are the characters I write, I just write my characters with the same lifestyle I life, because that’s MY default normal.

I have more thoughts, but you get the idea so I'll stop now.



FAQs: Why is Quaraun considered Bizarro?

>>>Why is Quaraun considered Bizarro?

Uhm, well, let's see:

The main character is a female Jellyfish, passing herself off as a male Elf.

His lover is an undead Unicorn turned Lich.

And his best friend is a time traveling Cotswold Sheep-man.

What was your question again?


FAQs: Why is Quaraun considered Erotica?

>>>Why is Quaraun considered Erotica?

I have no clue. I wrote it and I can't see anything even remotely sexual or erotic about it. When you figure out what it is that people find to be Erotica in it, you let me know, because I'd like to know why it is every other person says the series is Erotca.

The series, today, is about an elderly supervillain, looking back on the committed by his lover, after his lover commits suicide, and being so guilt ridden that he is contemplating suicide. There is nothing remotely sexual or erotic about it.

When it started, it was called Friends Are Forever and it was about a cat and a dog and a horse, who met and eel and a jellyfish and went looking to find a frog that lived in a haunted house and drove in a flying car - and AMC Gremlin - to get there. It was 16 pages, 200 words every other page, paintings on the opposite pages. I was 5 years old and it was published by The Old Orchard Beach, Jameson Kindergarten School in 1978.

I'm sorry, what part of a picture book about talking animals, written by a 5 year old to be read by other 5 year olds, and published by a Kindergarten School to be sold during a fundraiser to build a new playground, do YOU see as Erotica?

Keep in mind the 1970s and 1980s first editions were sold as children's Early Reader and Middle Grade Fantasy books for readers aged 8 to 12, and most of the first 30 or so volumes were PICTURE BOOKS, made up largely drawings and paintings, again, for readers aged 8 to 12 years old.

Most of the first editions where 16 to 32 pages long and featured under 20k words a peice. I was 5 years old when the first volume was published, making me one of the youngest published authors in America back in the 1970s.

The BULK of the series was written BEFORE I was 12 years old.

Prior to the 1991 rewrite, ALL of the characters were TALKING ANIMALS, cats, dogs, birds, sheep, horses, and fish or TALKING CARS. From 1978 to 1991, no Humans or Humanoid characters appeared in the series.

In the 1991 rewrites, the characters were changed to alien animals who used magic to shapeshift into Human form, to better blend in with society, and the talking cars, were removed from the series entirely, each one replaced with an Elf of the same name, who drove the car, rather than was the car.

It wasn't until 1991 after my best friend Tajid was murdered, in the first murder of The Cascade Murder serial killings of Old Orchard Beach, Maine, an event I witness, due to be one of the 6 kidnapped and tied up and forced to watch the other murdered, that you saw the adult Horror re-write re-release of the series, where main character Tajid (named after the real person) was renamed Quaraun, and his wardrobe turned pink instead or orange, and the first Horror scenes featuring death, bloodshed, violence, and murder appeared. These editions now novellas of 40k to 60k words and for the first time NOT illustrated.

In 1996 my uncles and cousins decides God told them to go on a killing spree ... you might have heard of it, it was little thing called Heaven's Gate, they killed 39 people by forcing them to drink poisoned Kool-aid. I survived that and had a really hard time dealing with it. Because of this all editions after 1997, had a heavy theme of suicide.

EVERY volume of the pink cover novel editions includes at least one and often as many as five on page suicides or suicide attempts, the suicide scene often spanning more than 100 pages of grueling detail. Mass murder and suicide became the running theme of the series as I wrote my way through the trauma of having survived every one in my life having killed themselves or killed someone else.

The series was official The Friends Are Forever Saga, but dubbed in 1987 as "The Twighlight Manor Series" by fans of the haunted house by the same name, which was the setting for the bulk of the stories.

The series appeared on FanFiction.net from 1999 to 2012, where it featured Lord Sesshomaru from InuYasha as the main character and was title The Bride of Sesshomaru.

In 2012, the series was deleted off FanFiction.net, and Lord Sesshomaru's character was written out and merged with Quaraun's character.

The series was renamed The Quaraun series in 2014, when The Pink Cover Editions were released for the 35th anniversary of the series.

The Pink Cover editions, were the largest rewrite of the series, a project to turn all 2,000 original short stories and picture books into novel editions. This project started in 2006 and is ongoing still, with the 2,000 short stories now combined and compiled into 138 volumes each varying from 115k to 230k words per volume. 

The first gay character to be added to the series was BoomFuzzy the Unicorn who was created in 2014, and was created SPECIFICALLY BECAUSE, Westboro Baptist Church started showing up at my house accusing the books of being what they termed "Gay Romance" and "Gay Erotica".

Also, by that point I was 47 years old and had yet to learn what the words pennis and vagina was, because there's this little thing I was born with, called Kanner's Syndrome, aka ACTUAL Autism, which is in no way, shape, or form related to Aspergers or any of the other 861 Autism Spectrum Disorders, because Autism is NOT on the Autism Spectrum, the Autism Spectrum meaning a disease with symptoms similar to Autism but is not Autism. If you are ON the Autism Spectrum you DO NOT HAVE Autism.

Likewise if your HAVE Autism, you ARE NOT ON the Autism Spectrum.

While 1 in 3 people are on The Autism Spectrum, real and actual Autism effects only 1 in every 120,000,000 (120 million) people, making it one of the rarest diseases in the world with fewer than 20 actual medical diagnoses of it in the past decade.

Having Autism, actual and real Autism, means I have a complete and total inability to imagine things.

I have no imagination.

This also means I am ONLY about to write about real events that I have experienced myself.

This is why there were no sex scenes in ay of my books and also why things like Quaraun's children being beheaded were added to the series in 2016 after my own foster children were beheaded in 2015.

Every event in every novel I have ever written, happened in real life to me, that is why I wrote it.

This is WHY the original characters were a black cat, a gold dog, a silver cat, an eel, a black shetland pony, and the 2 cars in the story were a 1964 Dodge 330 and a 1974 AMC Gremlin, both orange. Those were real pets that I had at the time I wrote Friends are Forever and those are the 2 cars my father had bought a few weeks before I wrote that story.

This is also why before 2014, no gay characters were in the series because, I had never heard the word gay befoe the West Borogh Baptist Church showed up in y yard.

They saw gay people, where there were none, but in researching to find out what gay was, I ended up adding a gay character to the stories, something that never would have happened had they not first accused the series of being gay when it was not. 

After 40+ years of having never once in my life written a sex scene, 21 sex scenes were written in 2014, those appearing spread out across the 138 volume pink cover novel set, one appearing in Night of the Screaming Unicorn, another appearing in BoomFuzzy and a 3rd appearing in GhoulSpawn and the Lich Lord's Lover.

Each of those 21 sex scenes is a very violent rape scene, that leaves the victim serious injured with broken bones and massive amount of emotional trauma. There is NOTHING even remotely erotic about these scenes, some of which show the victim brutal murdered long before the sex scene is over and being continually raped after being dead.

The first drug use scenes appeared in 2016 and 2017, in the expanded edition re-writes of BoomFuzzy, Screaming Unicorn, and Summoner of Darkness, after the FBI investigation into the 2015 murder of 10 of my 12 children, at the time the latest of The Cascade Murder serial killings of old Orchard Beach, Maine, revealed that a huge heroin drug ring out of Connecticut was behind the more than 130 beheadings which have taken place on Portland Ave, Ross Rd, and Cascade Rd in Old Orchard Beach, Maine since Tajid's murder in 1991.

As you can see, the contents of the Quaraun series, reflect the real world events that happen in my life, and the rewrites of each volume reflect the recent changes in my life at the time of that rewrite. Thus why in the 1970s the books were 16 page picture books for children, rewritten in the 1990s to feature murder and suicide, rewritten in the 200s to feature beheadings and rape.

Whenever some says it's Erotica, my mind defaults to thinking: "I hope the department of human services straps them in a straight jacket, locks them in a mental institute and nevers let's someone so mental psychotic that they find murder erotic out into the light of day ever again."

I'm thinking, because of all the abuse, violence, and bloodshed in 50 Shades of Grey, people have started to see any violent act in any genre of fiction to be Erotica, lately, and that's truly terrifying.


FAQs: Why are the new editions rewritten and not the same as the first editions?

>>>I noticed a change in your books. Overall tone got very dark in the reprints. A lot of beheading and severed heads in in them now. I didn't remember those being there, I checked my old copy and it wasn't. Why did you change all the murder scenes to be decapitation, when they weren't in the first editions?



Yes.

I did change the murder scene of both The Twighlight Manor and The Quaraun series, to be predominantly beheadings. No, you are correct. In the first editions, everything published before August 21, 1991, there were no murders, and in the reprints after 2016, most murders were rewritten to be beheadings.

This is because of how my own children were murdered.

Also, in the pre-1991 editions you'll notice too Quaraun's name used to be Tajid and he always wore ORANGE NOT PINK.

Tajid was a real person. He was my best friend, and he was murdered August 21, 1991, at 144 Portland Ave, Old Orchard Beach, Maine, along with 4 other children. It was the first of the Cascade Murders. He was Cinese and always wore orange, and I created Quaraun's original Tajid rendition after him. 

I was unable to write the character, after Tajid's murder August 21, 1991, and that is when you saw the character's name changed from Tajid to Quaraun and when you saw his wardrobe rewritten as pink instead of orange. It was the only way I could continue writing the series.

This is also why I no longer name characters after real people. I discovered, after the real person the character was named after dies in real life, I was no longer able to write the fictional character based off of them.

After the April 10, 2015 kidnapping and May 15, 2015 murder of 10 of my children, from/at 146 Portland Ave, Old Orchard Beach, Maine I went back and rewrote every murder scene in the Quaraun novels to be a beheading instead of the original stabbings. And yes, I did that because of how my family was murdered by being beheaded.


FAQs: Are the Quaraun books mass produced?

No they are not.

Every volume is short run, printed by local copy shops in York County, Maine.

With the exception of five 35th anniversary special editions that were released on Kindle in 2014, they are NOT sold ANYWHERE online.

You can ONLY buy them locally from small mom&pop bookstores in Maine or from booths at carnivals, festivals, and fairs in Maine, or from booths at conventions. 

Other than the convention editions, The Quaraun books are NOT SOLD OUTSIDE OF York County, Maine!

If you want a copy of them you MUST visit Maine to buy them.

Yes, ALL of the 57million copies sold were sold to people living in York County, Maine.

Yes, I do sell more copies of my books through physical face to face sales, than the average author will ever sell WORLD-WIDE via online sales.

If you are an author and you just slap your ebooks on Kindle and never sell physical paperbacks to the locals of your home town, you ARE missing out on your primary readership base. 

Yes, that DOES mean that ALL of my 27,000 readers and fans live within 14 miles of my driveway.

Yes, that ALSO means, ALL of the haters of the Quaraun series, also live less than 14 miles away from me.

Yes, that also means, NO ONE who goes anti-gay hate fest on the Quaraun series is an "online troll" - NO ONE who goes anti-gay hate fest on the Quaraun series is "internet people" - YES, EVERY ONE who goes anti-gay hate fest on the Quaraun series is LIVES IN YORK COUNTY MAINE less than 14 miles from me, because the books ARE NOT SOLD outside of that 14 mile radius!


Update: August 18, 2021

Because I have gotten so many requests for the Quaraun series to be made available online, I have started uploading some of the short stories to FanFiction.Net's Fiction Press...


Three short story collections have been started on FanFiction.Net's Fiction Press, clicking the 3 covers below will take you to them. I will be adding more to them over time, but as of right now I do not yet have an upload schedule for them.

...do note that MANY of the Quaraun novels and short stories CAN NOT be approved for uploading to MOST web novel sites like WattPad, Royal Road, Fiction Press, etc, due to the strong suicide content, graphic gore, drug use, and in the case of Royal Road - BoomFuzzy's dialogue (they consider the Shetland Pony, a Scottish horse's speaking Scottish English -my native language - a REAL LANGUAGE - to be quote: "derogatory mocking of the minorities of the south" unquote - uhm - I've never been outside of Maine, have no TV, have no clue what south people sound like... in a C world, you can't even write your own fucking language, which happens to be called Gaelic btw way and I don't take kindly to my Native Gaelic being called "derogatory southern black talk" the other term they used..) As such only a limited number of Quaraun stories can be uploaded to these places. 

Because I've been on FanFiction.Net for so many decades, and am used to their publishing format, for now, that is the ONLY web-novel site, any Quaraun stories appear on. Also, 2021 is my 25th anniversary of writing/publishing on FanFiction.net! I've been here since 1996. I can't believe it's been 25 years since I joined this site. Where did the time go? 







April 10, 2015 my 12 children were kidnapped,
from 146 Portland Ave. Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

May 15, 2015, ten of their heads were nailed to my door.

Do you have information?

FBI Agent Andy Drewer out of the 
Portland, Maine FBI office is in charge of the case.

If you have information about the April 10, 2015 murder of my family 
or any of the attacks on our home and relatives, give it to him not me.
He can be reached @ +1-(207)-774-9322 


Do you live in Biddeford, Maine?

Especially in the Main St, Elm St, Cutt St area?

The woman suspected of  orchestrating the murder, has been sighted the past few weeks at bars and shops in this area and the FBI wants your help catching her.

As of September & October 2021, new information has come forward, and the FBI wants YOUR help, to catch the people who murdered my family.

Go to THIS PAGE and read the article for more info on how you can help, and also full details on the murder and investigation. 

Please, don't let them get away with this. They've walked free, far too long. And they've hurt so many more people in the 7 years since April 10, 2015.

Do you have information?

FBI Agent Andy Drewer out of the 
Portland, Maine FBI office is in charge of the case.

If you have information about any of these attacks, give it to him.
He can be reached @ +1-(207)-774-9322 







The Most Popular Articles On This site:








FAQs: Where is the article Flamboyant Nipples & Wizard Testicles? I can't find anything by that name on your website.   

FAQs: Where is the article Flamboyant Nipples & Wizard Testicles? I can't find anything by that name on your website.  

That would be because there is NO article by that name on my website.

It took me a while to figure out what you was talking about as I don't read reviews, so I was unaware this review existed. But now that I've found and read the Warrior's Forum review you are talking about, what Tom Addams is referring to in his review on The Warrior's Forum is this page here:

As you can see, the title of the article in question is Noses, Penis Piercings, And Rapunzel Hair: Writing Character Descriptions: A Detailed Look At How I Write Character Descriptions of The Quaraun Series, and NOT  Flamboyant Nipples & Wizard Testicles which is why you could not find it.



And on that note, let's answer this question right under it:

What are the weirdest things ever produced in your world?

My mage MC, Quaraun, makes (and wears) enchanted jewelry. Magic rings that allow the wearer to cast certain spells when wearing those rings, are a common item he wears. He changes his rings out depending on what set of spells he wants to be able to cast that day.

Among his collection, and also the set of rings he wears the most often, is a pair of citrine and gold nipple rings that shoot fireballs, essentially allowing him to shoot fireballs from his nipples.

The idea original came from one of my readers, when in 2016, I posted on the fan page FB group for the novel series, to ask readers, this question:

"If I wrote a novel based off the idea of flamboyant nipples, what exactly would flamboyant nipples be?"

After lots of good ideas, one reader pointed out that the enchanted rings was a long established fact in the published novels already, and the MC had pierced nipples, so why doesn't he wear enchanted nipple rings that shoot fireballs?

Me and the readers spent a few days laughing and joking about the idea, but about a week later when I sat down to write the next novel in the series, I couldn't get the idea out of my head, I just kept asking myself: "Why DOESN'T he wear fireball shooting nipple rings?" And I couldn't think of a reason why he WOULDN'T. His personality, that is EXACTLY the type of thing he'd wear. So, that became a feature in that novel, and has appeared in every novel published since that one.




How do you come up with monsters or mutants for your book?

Do you mean the Thullids? They are the only race that I think could be considered either monsters or mutants.

The primary monster/race that is used in most of my novels and short stories, is a very Lovecraft-like mini-cthulhu type of parasite, known as The Thullids, which people often assume I created inspired by Lovecraft's Call of Cthulhu, but in fact I created about 20 years before I ever heard of Lovecraft or Cthulhu. 

The creature itself is a tiny jellyfish that gets up your nostril, attacks to your brain, and over a period of about 3 years, while it's tentacles burrow inside your spinal column and nerves fussing to them so it can take control of you body, it slowly eats your brain, while learning how to be you, learning to mimic your habits, speach, etc so once it eats your brain (and kills you) is can take over your body and pretend to be you and no one knows you died.

I created the race back in the 1970s, when I was not yet a teenager, and, the inspiration came from a trip to the city aquarium, where I learned the fascination of stingrays, deep sea giant moray eels, and jellyfish - creatures that went on to become my favorite animals, to point that my tribe (I'm Kickapoo Native American) renamed me "EelKat" stating that eels and cats were my spirit animals. 

As my writing career got going, my novels and short stories were always filled with monsters that were just mutated eels, stingrays, jellyfish, bristlenose pleco catfish, octopi, or squid. Creatures which went on to be pets I had in real life, and still keep to this day. I love eels, jellyfish, and pleco, they are my favorite animals, so, most everything I write features them in some way.

Over the years, my parasitic jellyfish race, evolved as I researched more about real jellyfish and discovered that in Japan there is a thing known as "The Immortal Jellyfish" the oldest known living creature on earth, estimated to be several thousand years old: it's real sea creature, look it up. It's an asexual jellyfish, that ages to old age, than changes gender and reverts back to being a polyp, grows to old age again, changes gender again, reverting back to being a poly, it can't die, so long as it continues to change gender from male to female every 10 years or so. It's one of the strangest creatures in the animal kingdom and its DNA is what scientists use to make cloning possible, it's DNA when crossed with rabbits results in rabbits that grow glow in the dark green fur - glow in the dark rabbits are illegal in America but now sold as pets in Japan where these scientists are actively crossing the DNA f the immortal jellyfish with everything they can find trying to make a cure for cancer. One big side effect is something you now see in every PetSmart across America: Glow Tetras, Glow Danios, Glow Bettas, new breeds of fish created by injecting jellyfish DNA into the parents.

I because utterly fascinated by the bizarre create that existed in our real world, and the vastly improbable things our real world scientists are doing with it's DNA. And I wanted to use that to make my fictional jellyfish race, more accurate to real world jellyfish, so I spent a few years doing nothing but studying everything I could get my hands on, about jellyfish and jellyfish's connection to science. I even signed up for marine biology degree at college.

In the end, I took a fantasy-horror creature that I had created as a child, crossed it with real world science that I discovered later as an adult, and used it to create an absolutely terrifying race of monsters, who, as long as they keep jumping bodies and changing gender from being a male to being a female, they live forever, inside the empty skulls of the dead humans whose bodies they take and reanimate.

Once I had this race, their backstory (there's a full backstory involving another solar system being destroyed when it's sun supernovae, thus how they ended up on earth), who they were, what they did, why they did it, etc, all fully fleshed out, I kind of just stopped creating other monster or mutant races, and just focused on every short story and novel after that, all being set in this same world, so every MC of every story always ends up meeting this monster race somehow.

One thing lead to another, and I eventually started writing just one MC (Quaraun) for all the stories, the Quaraun sometimes being male and sometimes being female, as the series ran forward telling the story, no longer through the eyes of the Humans who saw the jellyfish as invaders, but now through the eyes of a homeless/planetless jellyfish who sees themselves as a refugee on Earth, just trying to survive on what they see as an incredibly hostile planet.

For those unaware, Quaraun is an Immortal JellyFish in Medusa stage (a pregnant jellyfish) carrying a clutch of eggs. She lives in empty skull of a dead, male Moon Elf, whose body she has taken over and controls.

This is why some characters call Quaraun HE while other characters call Quaraun SHE. Characters who know Quaraun as an Elf, call him he, and characters who knew Quaraun as a JellyFish before she lived in the Elf, call her she.

Quaraun is biologically a female, but is living as a male and hiding the fact that she is pregnant, carrying 7 million eggs, thus Quaraun uses the male pronouns HE/HIM and gets upset when referred to as the female pronouns SHE/HER.

All because when I was 8 years old, I saw a jellyfish in a big tank at a city aquarium. (Saco Aquarium owned by King Weinstein, byw, if you wondered which one. It is no longer there and the building is now the Saco Imax/Cinemagic.)

If we had never visited that aquarium that day, I might never would have created the jellyfish monster and in turn, I might never have become a writer, because the only reason I start writing at al, was because I wanted to tell the story of the jellyfish monsters I had created.

Looking back, I wonder how different my life and my career would have been, had we never visited that aquarium that day?

So for me, creating monsters and mutants, wasn't something I actively set out to do. At the time I was just a kid and not even yet a writer. I just saw this fascinating creature, something I had no idea existed and I thought it was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen. I wanted to live in the ocean so I could swim with eels and jellyfish. As a kid, if you asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I'd say things like "a deep sea giant green moray eel" or "a lion mane jellyfish". My child brain was convinced, I cold become a sea creature once I was an adult, and I think that heavily influenced the jellyfish monsters I write, take over human bodies. I think it's because, I just really wanted to be a jellyfish when I grew up.

It's a childish, ridiculous concept, but, I ran with it, I had so much fun with it. I still do. That's why I write it, because it's just fun to imagine life as a jellyfish.

Look around you. What do you love? What are you obsessed with? Where is your passion? Look to that thing. How can it become dark? How can it become evil? How can it become mutated? How can it become a monster?

When you take something that you love, like how I love jellyfish, you can take that thing and run wild with it, making it whatever your novel needs it to be.




Let's answer this question on the home page, because, I'm going to post several chapters from a Quaraun novel here with the answer, which, will go a long way towards telling you want exactly the Quaraun series is, how it read, and why people who call it Erotica are kind of idiots.

No better way to see how idiotic the Erotica rumors are, than by reading the series for yourself, so, let's give you a free read of it here on the home page of my author website, eh?

>>>So, I just read a review that said the Quaraun books were literary genre in the style of Edgar Alan Poe and HP Lovecraft. Someone else said it was erotica and gay sex none stop. Another says it sword and sorcery high fantasy, like DnD told behind the sense. Which is it? I wondered because I want to write slice of lice and your books was recommended to me as the best slice of life in sci-fi.

>>>So I'm working on an episodic mecha slice of life series about a pair of 15 year olds, one is demon girl mechanic called D and the other is a curious gill man called Finn. The series is about them having fun in life with the giant robot D found in a junkyard, which comes with the added burden of being an attractor for villains, who constantly crash whatever they're doing.

>>>Now the way I write each episode is a standard intertwined A and B plot. It usually starts with main pair going to do something slice of life (the A plot), with the villain of the episode soon starting their B plot by creating/hiring a monster to try and eliminate the leads whilst they're out of their robot. Then it's a bit of back and forth with A and B plot development, with the leads resolving the relatable topic and the monster causing havoc over time. Then of course it ultimately ends with the monster growing big, the leads get in the robot and they use said robot to pummel the monster (and are allot of the time the whole city) into oblivion. This isn't every episode, but it's the basic skeleton for the slice of life episodes I use.

>>>Now with the episodes being a 50/50 split of slice of life and giant robot fighting, the fighting part is easy. The main problem I'm having is the slice of life side. I have trouble coming up with topics that people can find relatable that would fit the main characters interests (or general misfortune). Any idea's of good topics that could work well, something that can be done comedically or light hearted?

>>>The main problem I'm having is the slice of life side. I have trouble coming up with topics that people can find relatable that would fit the main characters interests 



>>>So, I just read a review that said the Quaraun books were literary genre in the style of Edgar Alan Poe and HP Lovecraft. Someone else said it was erotica and gay sex none stop. Another says it sword and sorcery high fantasy, like DnD told behind the sense. Which is it? I wondered because I want to write slice of lice and your books was recommended to me as the best slice of life in sci-fi.


The Quaraun series is most definitely not Erotica, not even close to it. There is also no sex, gay or otherwise. I'm not sure why that rumore goes around, but it's pretty obvious to anyone whose read the series that those reviews are from people who never read it.

I'm sorry, but you can't expect to ever become good in writing your genre, no matter what genre it is, if you never read anything from that genre.

I mean there IS a REASON I'm the world's top selling, best of the best writer in the Slice of Life Fantasy genre, to the tune of the fact one single volume of the Quaraun series sold 57 million copies... I'm the best writer in my genre, because I'm a huge reader of my genre. I read 4 to 5 novels a week, I read 10 or 12 short stories a day. All Slice of Life Literary genre and Fantasy genre. I know the Slice of Life and Sword & Sorcery genres inside out, because I read a few hundred volumes of it EVERY YEAR for the past 50+ years.

I love this genre, that's why I write it. I can't get enough of the Slice of Life genre or the ElfQuest franchise, and I wanted there to be something like ElfQuest, that was very Hills Like White Elephants, and since there was no ElfQuest meets Hills Like White Elephants out there, I decided to write that, and that we have the Quaraun series.

I wouldn't be considered the world's top writer of y genre, if I didn't read my genre inside out every day, year after year.

And the fact that you have no clue what your genre even is and are mixing it up with something else, well, that just tels me you either don't read at all, or if you do, you certainly don't read the genre you are trying to write. 

If you read the genre you wanted to write, you wouldn't be asking a question like this because you would already know the answer, just from knowing what other authors within the genre do.

The best way to become someone who writes good Slice of Life literature, is to first become someone who voraciously reads the Slice of Life literature that is already published. Edgar Allan Poe, H.P. Lovecraft, H.G.Wells. Charles Dickens, Ernest Hemmingway, all wrote Slice of Life within other genres (Poe was Slice of Life Horror, Lovecraft was Slife of Life Cosmic, Wells was Slife of Life Science Fiction, for example). So if you are looking to write Slife of Life blended with something else, I recommend you read everything by Poe, Wells, and Lovecraft. And if you want straight up pure Slice of Life: Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Edward Abbey, and the king of Slice of Life himself: Ernest Hemmingway, are what you want to read.

Other greats in the Slice of Life genre include: Herman Melville, Jack London, Nathaniel Hawthorn, Laura Ingalls Wilder, George Elliot, Lucy Maude Montgomery

You can't very well write a genre, if you have no clue how the best of the best wrote that genre, so read them first, before you even think about writing Slice of Life.

I get the feeling that you don't know what the Slice of Life genre even is. Based on your question, there is absolutely nothing here that indicated Slice of Life at all.

I would suggested reading the Slice of Life genre to find out what it is and that way you will get a better feel for how to write it.

Some of the best in the Slice of Life genre are:

* Hills Like White Elephants - arguably the greatest piece of Slice of Life literature ever written

* A Christmas Carol

* Little House on the Prairie (all 9 volumes of the series)

* The Old Man and the Sea

* The Lottery

* A Picture of Dorian Grey

* The Fall of the House of Usher

* The Unicorn in the Garden

* Desert Solitaire

* Oliver Twist

* Moby Dick

* The Bronze Door

* The Great Gatsby

* Grapes of Wrath

* Of Mice and Men

* Silas Mariner

* Anne of Green Gables

I highly recommend you read all of those before trying to write the Slice of Life genre, because I really don't think it means anything close to what you think it means.

Slice of Life is quite literally the line by line detail of every single minute of the entire day of a character's life. EVERYTHING including slowly chewing a meal for 5 ot 6 or 10 or 12 pages is spelled out in greuling detail. Everything: sleeping, waking up, a page or 2 of yawning while sitting on the edge of the bed and thinking deep thoughts of should they get up or go back to bed, brushing their teeth, peeing, pooping, washing their hands,drying their hands, walking slowly to the kitchen while describing in vivid detail every wrinkle in the wallpaper, every loss thread on the carpet, every table and chair they pass, everything they walk by is described in detail.

The Slice of Life genre is widely regarded as the single most dull, uneventful, boring, mundane genre out there (though for me it is my favorite genre, and is both what I read and write) because it takes 200 or more pages just to describe the character waking up and getting out of bed, and than says The End, without the character even even getting to the kitchen.

It's an extremely "artsy-fartsy" genre, that looks at how the human mind processes looking at things in their life.

It is called Slice of Life, because it is literally taking a look at a 5 minute slice of the character's life and analyzing every minute detail of those 5 minutes, and taking an entire novel to examine those 5 minutes. It is an incredibly detailed look at a single slice of the character's dull, boring, mundane life.

There is nothing here:

>>>So I'm working on an episodic mecha slice of life series about a pair of 15 year olds, one is demon girl mechanic called D and the other is a curious gill man called Finn. The series is about them having fun in life with the giant robot D found in a junkyard, which comes with the added burden of being an attractor for villains, who constantly crash whatever they're doing.

>>>Now the way I write each episode is a standard intertwined A and B plot. It usually starts with main pair going to do something slice of life (the A plot), with the villain of the episode soon starting their B plot by creating/hiring a monster to try and eliminate the leads whilst they're out of their robot. Then it's a bit of back and forth with A and B plot development, with the leads resolving the relatable topic and the monster causing havoc over time. Then of course it ultimately ends with the monster growing big, the leads get in the robot and they use said robot to pummel the monster (and are allot of the time the whole city) into oblivion. This isn't every episode, but it's the basic skeleton for the slice of life episodes I use.

>>>Now with the episodes being a 50/50 split of slice of life and giant robot fighting, the fighting part is easy. The main problem I'm having is the slice of life side. I have trouble coming up with topics that people can find relatable that would fit the main characters interests (or general misfortune). Any idea's of good topics that could work well, something that can be done comedically or light hearted?

...that suggests you are actually writing anything even remotely Slice of Life, let alone 50/50 Slice of Life.

>>>Any idea's of good topics that could work well, something that can be done comedically or light hearted?

If you really want to write Slice of Life (but I think you don't, I think you have it mixed up with something else, I'm not sure what), there is NEVER anything done comedically or light hearted. Slice of Life is very, very, very, very serious, almost uptight.

>>>Now with the episodes being a 50/50 split of slice of life and giant robot fighting, the fighting part is easy. 

I can tell you right now that if you tried to sell this as Slice of Life, you'll have a full on 100% of Slice of Life readers going full on lynch mob on you over false advertising.

>>>fighting, the fighting part is easy. 

Fighting has no place even being considered in the Slice of Life genre. If you sell this as Slice of Life, you will quickly find the entire Slice of Life readership blacklisting you - and yes that is a thing Slice of Life readers are known to do. So, if you value your writing a career, and don't want to see your novel plastered all over vigilante callout sites, I would suggest you REALLY get to know The Slice of Life genre really well, because you are looking at the most hostile MENSA society member snooty-tooty readership out there. Readers who have walls of PhD and writing 5,000 word scathing reviews of 1000 word short stories. 

They are high IQ sticklers for accuracy and want no nonsense in their look at the Human condition.

>>>So I'm working on an episodic mecha slice of life series about a pair of 15 year olds,

The slice of Life fandom is made up largely of old men who are bankers, lawyers, stock brokers, psychiatrists, and psychologists. They have zero interest in 15 year olds or having fun or playing games in junkyards, that is why the average Slice of Life MC is between the ages of 60 to 90.

Again, I really think you need to research the Slice of Life genre, and get out there and hang out with readers of Slice of Life, because from what you've said it, I don't think you've ever even read the Slice of Life genre before or hung out in High Society Country Clubs and talked with the demographic who reads this genre.

>>>The main problem I'm having is the slice of life side. I have trouble coming up with topics that people can find relatable that would fit the main characters interests 

Slice of Life is a look at the Human Condition through a psychiatrist's microscope, and focusing just on one segment of the day: eating an apple or sitting on a boat fishing, and there is nothing else. It's taking eating an apple and expanding the process of eating that apple into a 500 page slow grind that examines and analyzes the feeling of the apple's crunch between your teeth, and how it feels in your eardrums while you chew, and why that makes you think of you dead great grandmother who baked apple pies.

Slice of Life takes an extreme narrow focus look at one act: sitting on a boat fishing (Old Man and the Sea), reading the newspaper Sunday morning (Unicorn in the Garden), drinking at the bar while decide to have an abortion or not (Hills Like White Elephants), sitting in a desert spending 300 pages talking about the petals of a single flower (Desert Solitaire) and turns the entire story into a deep, emotional psychological drive into the character's emotional turmoil over that one five minute event.

Slice of Life is NOT, the boring parts between the exciting parts, that need spicing up with comedy and light heartedness, as you seem to be thinking. I really think you need to do a deep dive into researching what Slice of Life means, because what you are describing is not even close.

If you really want to read the Quaraun books and see what Slice of Life is, and you don't live near by so can't stop by and buy a copy directly from my car, here, I'll post some of it online here for you so you can see what it looks like, and see if it helps you to understand what typical Slice of Life genre looks like when done in a Fantasy setting.

>>>So, I just read a review that said the Quaraun books were literary genre in the style of Edgar Alan Poe and HP Lovecraft. Someone else said it was erotica and gay sex none stop. Another says it sword and sorcery high fantasy, like DnD told behind the sense. Which is it?


The Quaraun series IS Literary Slice of Life, as I have stated many times before. If you are looking for sex, drama, action, adventure, battles, wars, factions, than you are in the wrong place because the Quaraun novels contain ZERO of any of those things. It's the mundane every day life of an elderly Elf wizard, as he goes from one tavern to the next, while trying not to have an emotional breakdown over the suicide of his dead lover BoomFuzzy the Unicorn. It's 90% internal monologue of a depressed Elf, trapped in an immortality/eternal love curse, and doomed to live his life over and over again, thousands of times. The series starts in 800AD ends in 2525 and than repeats back at 800AD over again, with things happening differently each time he relives his life over again, as he goes through time trying to change his past to make a better future where his lover doesn't die.

The GodForSaken City, Tea With a Thullid, The Swamp Hag's House, The Death of Finderu, and The Marketplace Aftermath, all from the novel Kelim and the Necromancer, are a perfect example of what you will see in EVERY Quaraun novel. AND, it shows you what people mean when they say it is like literary slice of life written by Edgar Alan Poe and H.P.Lovecraft.

Here there are, 5 chapters of Kelim and the Necromancer in their entirety, for you to read for free:



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."

"Than don't."

"Too late. You don't have a choice." 

"Why?"

"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.

Lost.

Troubled.

Miserable.

Grieving.

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.

No pack. 

No weapons. 

No equipment. 

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. 

Vanity.

Arrogance.

Ego.

Pride.

Pretension.

Self-admiration.

Conceitedness.

Hubris.

Ostentation.

Disdain.

Narcissism.

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.

Mostly uncastrated.

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.



~o0o~



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?”

“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.

“No?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“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. 

Maybe.

Was he?

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?

Respectable. 

Respected.

He used to be a lot of things. 

An aristocrat. 

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.

Eternal love.

Immortal 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.

Another male. 

BoomFuzzy. 

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. 

Almost.

His name was Quaraun. 

Quaraun Swanzen.

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”




Insane.

He hated that term.

A label.

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.

Very 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. 

Grants wishes. 

Raises dead. 

Commands Demons. 

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.

“Tentacles?”

“I have a JellyFish living in my head.”

“You what?”

“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. 

Poor Quaraun. 

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. 

An attack. 

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. 

Except BoomFuzzy. 

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. 

Must die.

Many were dead already.

But Finderu had eluded capture.

Always escaped.

Not this time.

He was close.

Finderu was here.

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 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. 

No one. 

For centuries. 

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. 

Unloved. 

Unwanted. 

Hunted. 

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. 

Quaraun. 

Gibedon. 

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. 

Again. 

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 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. You sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine."

"Anything stolen?"

"No. Only thing I was carry was my bag and that's still here."

"Okay than."

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.”

"No, I mean... What happened? Why you bleeding?"

“Bullies don’t care.”

“What?”

“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?”

“Say what?”

“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."

"Ain't it?"

"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?”

“No."

"Why not?"

"I am unique." 

"So?"

"I don't cut my hair.”

“Why?”

"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?”

"Sure!"

"How do you know Finderu?"

“Everyone knows him.”

"Everyone?"

"Yeah."

"Who everyone?"

"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.”

“How come?”

“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?”

“What?”

"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.”

“Obviously.”

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.

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I’m an Elf.”

“So?”

“You’re not an Elf.”

“Meaning?”

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.”

“Why not?”

“You’re not an Elf.”

“So?”

“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.

“Why?”

“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?”

“Of course.”

"Why would I do that?"

"It's the polite thing to do?"

"Is it?"

"Isn't it?"

"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?"

"A what?"

“Quaraun.”

"Wait what?"

Quaraun continued walking.

"I said, my name is Quaraun."

“Quaraun? What? You mean, like the Necromancer?”

“Yes.”

"Are you... wait... are you THE Quaraun? The one on all the wanted posters around town?"

"Yes."

"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."

"Why not?"

"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…..”

“Who’s Kelim?”

"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.”

“Another Pixie?”

“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?"

“And?”

“She doesn’t want to.”

“She wants to marry the Pixie.”

“No.”

“No?”

“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?”

“Yes.”

“But she’s a Witch.”

“Yes.”

“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."



~o0o~     




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!”

    ~o0o~


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.”

“I’m sorry.”

“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."

"What's Ongadada?" 

"You don't know?"

Quaraun shook his head.

"It's 1849 and Ongadada didn't happen? And you never met me before?"

"No."

"Something’s changed. I don’t know if that’s good or bad.”

“Are your pupils supposed to look like that?” Quaraun asked, still focused on the stranger’s yellow eyes.

“Like what?”

“Your pupils aren’t round.”

“I know.”

“You have eyes like a llama.”

“Sheep.”

“Sheep?”

“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!”

“We?”

“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?”

“It’s rude.”

“Saying you smell like hay is rude?”

“Yes.”

“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 do?”

“Yes.”

“You sleep in the barn with the sheep?”

“Yes.”

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!”

“Sheep.”

“Sheep?”

“I’m a sheep. Cotswold.”

“So you’re a Satyr?”

“Ursiug.”

“What?”

“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?”

"I suppose."

“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. You’re is almost dreadlocs.”

“Yes. Wool is difficult to brush.”

“I like dreadlocs,” Quaraun stated for no reason whatsoever.

“I know.”

“Do you?”

“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?”

“Am I?”

“You’re a female Medusa JellyFish masquerading to be a male Elf.”

“How does the little Satyr know that?”

“Ursiug.”

“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’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.”

“Ghirardelli?”

"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."

"Do you?"

"Yes."

"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?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"I have reasons."

"Who are you?"

"Gremlin."

"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 damns difficult to get nowadays. My name is Gremoorsh Loire. You knew a friend of my fathers."

"And your father is?"

"I believe your friend refereed to him as The Ghoul."

"The Ghoul? Your father was The Ghoul?"

"Yes. That's why you used to call me GhoulSpawn."

"Did I?" 

"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."

"BoomFuzzy."

"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?"

"Yes."

"What's that?" 

"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."

"Why?"

"Because I love you and you forgot that. They made sure you forgot it. I must go, and you must kill Ghirardelli. She lives over there."


     ~o0o~


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. 

Consistent. 

Stable. 

Calm. 

Steady. He must walk steady. And consistently natural. And calmly stable. 

Balanced. 

Balanced is more advisable than stable. 

Yes. 

Balancing was desirable. 

And upright. 

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.  

Lightning flashed.  

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.

Cautiously.

Carefully.

Slowly.

Guardedly.

“Who are you?” Quaraun called out.

No answer.

Silence.

Quaraun stumbled, but hastily caught himself.

Can’t collapse.

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.

Nothing.

The man stood in the doorway.

Watching.

Staring. Silent.

He didn’t move.

He didn't speak.

Might be one of his friends.

No.

They shouldn't be here.

They couldn't be here.

They were dead.

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.

"What man?"

"That man!" Quaraun sat up and pointed towards the door. 

Wait. 

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 silence.

Waiting.

Than the knocking came again.

Louder.

Again.

Louder still.

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. 

Quaint.

The glittering gold sheep and the glowing purple unicorn were both gone. They had never been there. 

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."















Tea With a Thullid
(a chapter from Kelim and the Necromancer)

THREE YEARS EARLIER... 


... IN THE FRONT BAR ROOM OF AN INN, SITUATED IN A SMALL VILLAGE IN THE MIDDLE OF NOWHERE, SOMEWHERE IN THE FORESTED COAST OF MAINE.... The Great Gale of 1846 had just arrived in Saco Bay and Quaraun, was seeking shelter for the night:


“Do you have a room for hire?” Quaraun asked the innkeeper. 

“We do,” the innkeeper answered. “Four.”

“Four rooms?”

“Four rooms. Ten beds a piece.”

“Tens beds? In one room?” Quaraun did not conceal his disgust at the suggestion of ten beds in a single room.

“Aye-yep. And if we are full, which we are, it being harvest time, you see. All the transient potato, blueberry, and orchard pickers are here for a few weeks. But in busy fall season, like now, ten beds per room ain’t enough, so we lease space for mats on the floor. Hay provided for under the mats. You furnish your own bedroll.”

“I see.” 

Quaraun looked around at the crowded room. Busy season was an understatement. Dozens of the apple orchards’ harvest hands sat around the inn’s public room. 

Some talking. Others drinking. 

Most, like Quaraun, were only in here to wait out the hurricane. The massive storm slammed the Gulf of Maine and trapped itself in Saco Bay, dancing circles through the massive sandbar horseshoe. 

Four hundred acres of apple trees bordered the largest of the Saco Bay beaches. And if this storm had any say in the matter, most of Maine’s apple harvest will have floated away in the Atlantic Ocean by morning. 

Most of America’s entire apple production grew on this one beach. The livelihoods of near every family in the area depended on the sale of the apple harvest. To lose the apple harvest, days before it’s sale to the out-of-state merchants, would devastate the economy of every town in this region.

Merchants from around the country recently arrived here expecting to load up their ships. The ships owned by fruit merchants lined up along the Saco River Delta. All the merchants waited to load their ships’ hulls full of apple barrels. They too gathered in the room, worrying about their ships, fearful of losing not only their cargo, but their ships as well.

This topic of conversation spewed from every labourer and transient picker in the room. Hurricanes rarely reached this far north, but when they did, they hit hard. 

No one expected the storm. 

No one knew it was coming. 

Quaraun struggled to understand the Human astonishment over the storm’s arrival. In his mind, it had been easy to see the storm was on its way. 

Crickets stopped chirping their night time songs several nights ago. Sea gulls, pigeons, hawks, ducks, geese, and shorebirds flew inland, fleeing the coast in droves. 

The brackish, salty smell of the ocean permeated the air with the sharper, heavier, rotten egg stench of sulphuric gases being churned out of the gravel. While, the already thick coastal fog became denser with each passing night. 

The normally cool autumn air had become hot, thick, and humid days ago, making every sweltering day unbearable.

These signs and many more told Quaraun an enormous storm was brewing. 

How had the Humans not detected the signs this storm was coming? These uneducated, backwoods Humans were all so dreadfully unprepared for this. 

Quaraun marvelled that a species as stupid as Humans could massively spread across the planet like an insufferable plague of parasites. He concluded that their stupidity was precisely why they were becoming so over populated. They were too stupid to know how to do anything other than fuck each other.

The old Elf listened to the Humans in the room talking and marvelled at the levels of their sheer stupidity.

Quaraun predicted the storm’s arrival a week before it showed up. But he never considered that Humans lacked skill in deciphering the symptoms of weather. 

Being an Elf, reading signs of nature was natural for him. His soul’s proximity to nature made it difficult for him to remember that Humans were as distant from nature as he was close to it.

Also, being a Moon Elf, especially, made it easy for the ancient Elf to foretell the weather. Moon Elves were born properly adapted to knowing the phases of the moon and its effects on the tides. 

And thus, Quaraun had known weeks ago that a gale would soon arrive. Thus why he had veered off his normal coastal route and headed inland.

Like a tremendous tornado, it raged up the coastline, ripping up every house, tree, cow, horse, and boat in its track and hurling them across the sky. 

The smell of salted crab and slippery uprooted kelp filled the air. The storm churned up everything laying at the bottom of the sea, and spat it out onto the sandy shoreline.

Men, women, and children huddled, frightened, in every corner of the lodge. They feared the building itself would uproot and crush them. The fierce storm beat the walls with every tree, goat, and boulder it could find to throw.

Completely oblivious to the rain, there were some children who continued to play outside, while their mothers fussed and worried frantically at the front door of the inn, begging them to come in out of the raging thunderstorm. The high winds whipped their long hair out of their buns and veils. The minister nearest the door raged that demon where carried in on the wind, to tear the cloths off of their women.

More men and women were making their way towards the building. Their arms around each other, they bowed their heads and walked on against the wind, barely able to stand.

This inn sat several miles inland, away from the coast. When the storm hit, every fisherman, merchant, farmer, and hired hand grabbed whatever they could carry and ran in a mass hoard away from the waterfront. Many stopped here, while as many more kept running further inland.

Quaraun listened to the conversations. 

Farmers worrying about the loss of their apple, blueberry, and potato crops.

Merchants terrified for the safety of their ships, precariously bobbing around in the port, knocking against one another, rocking in the raging tides.

“Along the way to my friend’s house,” one woman said to another. “I saw several lilac bushes in bloom. Just the other day. This time of the year. When winter will arrive soon. Can you imagine? I told her it was witchcraft and do you know what? She agreed with me, that’s what. It a bad omen telling us that witches are in the area. Lilacs got no right to be blooming this time of year. Spring flowers they are. But we had an Indian Summer we did, just last fortnight, and it caused all the spring flowers to bloom, when they should bury their heads under the leaves and getting ready for winter. Damned Indians cursed us with this heat all over again. Witches. Witches and Indians. Bastards. Every one.”

“It’s a hurricane,” Quaraun interrupted the woman.

“A what?”

“It’s not a curse from witches. It is a tropical storm, from the south. That is why it has been so hot. No one sent a curse to your town. This kind of weather is normal down there. Winds shifted and sent it up here. Hurricanes happen in these parts about every ten or twelves years. Just because they are uncommon up here in the north doesn’t mean they were caused by witches or curses. There are no witches involved in this.”

“Are you from the south?”

“No, but...”

“Than you got no business telling us what the south is like, do you?”

“I have been there. I resided in the cloud forests of Rupa-Rupa for a few years.”

“What sort of gibberish nonsense, childish baby talk is that?”

“Rupa-Rupa? It’s a country in Peru. In the Amazon Forest. In South America. I lived with the Indians down there and they are nice people. As are the Indians around here.”

“And I suppose you’ve lived with them filthy savages too?”

“I have.”

“How could you stand living with such horrible, filthy savages?”

“They are good people. Not filthy nor savage.”

“Well, I just find that hard to believe. They live in tents, sleep on the ground. Keep their horses inside with them.”

“Their horses will survive this storm, while the horses of this town will all be dead by morning. They care about their livestock."

“Do you suggest we should bring the horses in here with us? How revolting a notation! Think of the smell!”

“You consider not smelling them for a few hours to be more valuable than keeping them alive?” 

“Horses smell. I don’t see how my husband can stand them. They stink to high Heaven!”

“I wonder how your husband can tolerate the smell of you. You madam, stink from having not bathed. You simpletons think bathing is a sin and bath only once a year and you smell bad because of it. The Indians are clean and well kept, unlike the bulk of your white men are. One has only to look around this tavern to see no one in this town even knows the invention of soap happened. I can not fathom how any of you can live with yourselves, let alone with each other. It’s you white Europeans who are evil and full of hate, daning to bring harm to one another. You think just because your own hearts are full of evil thoughts that everyone else’s must be too. Not all people are cold-hearted, bigoted, and cruel like you, you know.”

“The nerve!”

“After I lived in the south, I travelled the coast back up here again. It took me over a dozen years to walk the coast back up here. I saw several hurricanes during that time. They are fairly common in the south. Tropical storms push the heat ahead of them. There is absolutely no magic whatsoever involved in any of this. You shouldn’t blame people for things they didn’t do.”

“And I suppose YOU would know magic if you saw it?”

“Yes, as a matter of fact I would.”

“An expert in weather and magic? How do we know you’re not the witch who cursed us?”

“Madam, I assure you, I am no such thing, nor have I done any such thing.”

The two women snubbed their noses at him, got up from their table, and stormed across the room, where they could continue their gossip and busy bodying away from Quaraun. 

Quaraun sighed and continued to make his way through the terrified crowd. He continued to eavesdrop on the conversations as he roomed around the room, looking for a quiet corner to sit in. One preferably free of Humans. The problem with being the last Elf on the planet was, there was no one but Humans around to talk to.

The majority of the crowd, who were not apple growers, were fisherman worrying that dead fish from the storm would pollute the water for months, and leave them with no fish to sell to market.

Quaraun felt no concern for the economy of this Human village. 

The old Elven wizard was just wanting shelter from the rain for a few hours. However, the witch accusation brought up by those two women earlier bothered him greatly. So much so that the pink robed necromancer began listening to see if others had similar ideas.

Quaraun was a mage. 

A wizard. 

A necromancer. 

The Pink Necromancer.

Deemed the most evil mage to ever walk the earth.

And in the minds of most Humans, this made the lonely little Elf a witch. A wizard was just a male witch, by Human logic. And Human logic in this region, stated that witches were evil and must die. 

Drowned. 

Stoned. 

Hung.

Burned. 

Crushed. 

Humans devised many ways of executing witches. And here in New England, killing witches was as common as the white steeple church congregations who did the killings.

The more attention Quaraun paid to the discussions in the room, the more unsettled and disturbed the nervous Moon Elf became. And the less he wanted to be in this town at all, let alone in its over crowded inn. For the jelly-brained Elf quickly recognized that most every Human in the building maintained a witch’s curse caused this storm. Many spoke of gathering pitchforks and heading into the swamp to kill the local witch and end the storm. 

“Killing the witch will kill the storm,” one man reasoned to another.

“Aye, we gotta break the curse to save our harvests,” agreed the fellow across from him.

Several more men cheered in response. Each adding his own comments of killing witches and removing the curse. 

Talk of witches and witchcraft and evil curses filled the room. 

At every table.

In every corner.

These frightened people believed a witch’s curse had produced the storm.

Quaraun became more uneasy the more he listened to the hysteria filling the room. Should anyone discover the old pink robed silk merchant was also a mage, they’d murder him.

As Quaraun paid closer attention to the conversations, he also realized that all the local church congregations were here as well. None felt safe in their churches as the howling winds ripped up buildings and tossed them into the sea. They feared the monstrous Atlantic waves would sweep away their parishes.

Various groups of highly paranoid Christians sat clustered about the lodge.

Some praising the lord.

Others cursing the devil. 

All glaring daggers at each other. Huddled in opposite ends of the room from each other. Each group keeping their distance to avoid contamination by opposing doctrines.

Each religion claiming to be God’s chosen people, while condemning the other sects to eternal damnation.

Nothing terrified Quaraun worse than Christians. Especially the extreme, hyper radical, fanatic super-Christians of northern New England. They loved to praise the Lord while also hypocritically slaughtering their neighbours. 

Praised the Lord, while slaughtering innocent old women on false charges of witchcraft, voodoo, and black magic. 

Murdering innocent young girls on charges of sorcery, simply for the sin of having been born with red hair or green eyes. 

Every time the elegantly dressed necromancer set foot near one of these Christians, he risked his life. For Quaraun, hiding the fact that he was a wielder of magic was vitally imperative for his survival.

A minister stood in the doorway, casting demons out of the weather.

One minister was yelling at a man, accusing him of being a witch, based on the fact the man was chewing tobacco.

Another minister stood on a table raving that witches and warlocks walked among them and must be found and executed. He was waving a book over his head as he screamed out lists of ways to tell a witch. At first Quaraun thought the man was reading from a Bible, but as he stopped to listen to the passages, Quaraun soon realized it was not the Bible this preacher was reading. It was Heinrich Kramer’s Malleus Maleficarum. The treatise on witchcraft, and the only book ministers, valued more than the Bible itself. 

Quaraun cringed as he remembered the smell of burning flesh. He’d walked through towns, where dead witches were left hanging crushed and burned, strangled and mutilated, unburied and on public display. Left as a warning for other mages to stay away. The charred stench of the publicly burned bodies was horrific. It gave him nightmares.

The pastor on the table bothered the old Elf quite a lot. Quaraun was a mage, a wizard, a necromancer, and a priest of what this minister would consider a Pagan religion. Listening to this minister brought to Quaraun’s mind many terrible old memories.

Thoughts he didn’t want to think.

Quaraun just wanted to stay dry. He did not want to be reminded of dreadful events of his past. The Hanging Tree.

Memories of his father and the Moon Elves.

Horrible memories of their contempt for all things not deemed good and righteous, by their standards.

Memories of bullying and teasing, that got out of hand, and led to torture, mutilation, and murder by public execution.

Loud, angry mobs.

Violent mobs that rose out of fear.

Fear deliberately being placed in their minds by radical, charismatic fanatics.

Fanatics, not unlike the minister, who right now stood on the table, trying to rile up the locals into witch hating hysteria.

Fear filled Quaraun’s mind and soul with dread, as he took notice to the minister’s hate filled words, furling hate filled furies, in the angry eyes of the men and women whom had gathered around the terror crazed preacher to cheer him on.

Quaraun made a mental note to not let anyone in this area to find out he was a mage. The last thing he wanted was to be huge up in yet another tree. Quaraun pulled his mind away from the radicals and focused on the words of the merchants instead.

Sailors.

Pirates.

Privateers.

Scurvy.

Rickets.

The sea gods, punishing land dwellers, by sending demons to stir up the cold ocean.

Goods trapped on ships in danger of sinking.

Goods stuck on docks in danger of flooding.

Perishable goods delivered to the wrong port, and not being able to get to them because of the storm.

The need to take the ships away from shore to save them from being crashed on the rocks.

The harvests, not yet gathered, and being mercilessly destroyed by the storm.

Money lost.

Ships lost to transatlantic gulf winds.

Even more money lost.

Money being lost seemed to be the biggest worry of the Humans. Quaraun wondered why the Humans worried so much about money.

Though Quaraun was quite wealthy and had more money than he would ever need, he also never used it. The wandering wizard appeared to most people to be both homeless and penniless. Humans laughed when the old Elf asked to buy things, thinking he could not afford them, but they then gawked when he dropped handfuls of gold coins in their laps.

Quaraun could not count. He knew nothing of math or numbers or years or dates. It was the reason Quaraun never knew his own age or what year it was, or how many days had passed from one event to the next. Why he sometimes said week, when he meant year. Why he sometimes said he was 400 years old and other times said 800. This was also why the old mage did not realize that gold coins were worth much more than common coppers. And also why he did not understand that he was giving Humans way more money than they asked for whenever he paid for anything.

Money was the biggest, number one worry these Humans possessed right now. Witches were the second.

Superstitions of sea monsters and sirens, mermaids and mermen, silkies and roans.

Curses cast by witches.

Tales of terrible squalls and suffocating typhoons, sent by evil witches to destroy the mercantile economy, force the people to not buy from grocers and instead buy from charlatan apothecaries. Or so said several of the merchants who, right now, sat in the bar.

The conversations of the merchants were not much better than the conversations of the ministers. 

Equally hysterical. 

Equally pointing fingers at magic casters. 

Equally ready to kill any mage in the area in order to end the hurricane and save their harvests.

The farmers and fishermen were no better. Tossing around tall tales of sea witches and swamp hags, skulking around at night, poisoning water, killing fish, spiking apples with maggots and rot.

This was a superstitious lot. Anti-mage topics were spewing from every table.

It was clear no one here knew anything about nature or natural sciences, knew nothing of how weather worked, and was ready to tar and feather anyone they deemed a witch.

Listening to the overall conversation of the majority of the crowd, Quaraun felt uncomfortable in this inn. Worse, than just being a wizard, he was a necromancer, who practiced blood magic, raised the dead, dealt in soul exchange, and summoned demons. If anyone in this room discovered what he was, these people would turn into a lynch mob fast. 

Clearly, superstitions and fear of witchcraft ruled supreme in the minds of these people. Several tables sported me, gathering up self-proclaimed adventuring parties to brave the storm, head out into the swamp, and kill the Swamp Hag who lived out there.

One orchard grower was shouting, offering to pay top coin for the Swamp Hag’s head, if they could kill her before the storm destroyed all of his crops.

Three merchants were haggling over the price of one self-proclaimed mage hunter whom they each wanted working for them and not the other two.

The people of this region were terrified of witches and were blaming every ill fated event they meet on one witch: Ghirardelli, The Swamp Hag. 

The price for her head was being bargained over drinks, as more and more men, stumbling drunkenly forward, bragging tales of how they had once killed this or that witch and were well qualified to rid their town of the scourge that was Ghirardelli.

Quaraun knew of Ghirardelli. She was a friend of Finderu’s. Finderu was the leader of The Guild of Wizardry. Ghirardelli and Finderu were responsible for most of the wanted posters of Quaraun. 

Ghirardelli the Swamp Hag was well respected in the mage community. If she lived long enough, she likely would take over as leader of the Guild one day. Quaraun was looking for Finderu. And if anyone knew where to find Finderu, it’d be Ghirardelli. And thus Quaraun had come to this region looking for Ghirardelli. 

But Quaraun was old, and in frail health. He moved slowly and walked with a cane. Aching bones and creaking joints kept him from travelling as far or as fast as he would like. And so, Quaraun had wandered these parts for several years, moving from town to town, village to village, swamp to swamp, sea port to seaport, in search of anyone who knew the whereabouts of Ghirardelli the Swamp Hag.

Everywhere he went, the story was the same: everyone had heard of Ghirardelli, but no one knew for sure where she lived, or even if she was actually real at all. Many believed her to be nothing more than a bedtime story, parents told to naughty children to scare them into staying out of the swamps at night.

And so Quaraun had meandered through the swamps and forests along the coast, searching in vain these past several years for any hint of where Ghirardelli might live.

It was by sheer luck and pure accident that he wandered into this random inn and found it rife with the conversation of gathering parties of heroes together to hunt down and kill the infamous Swamp Hag. 

Heroes. 

Off to kill the wicked old witch.

Heroes.

Murders of the innocent.

Masters of slaughtering elder women.

Elderly women, branded as witches, for no other reason than young people, inherently hate the elderly. 

Elderly women, murdered at the hands of thug like gangs of gold hungry men, killers for hire, killing in the name of doing good deeds.

Skilled at killing the so-called changeling children.

Mentally disabled children with learning disabilities, branded as demons and changelings left by Faeries, branded as evil, by incompetent parents who couldn’t be bothered to admit their child was retarded. Easier to claim some elderly woman was a witch, and hire a pack of greedy, bloody thirsty hero to kill them both.

Children, branded as monsters, slaughtered by heroes, murdered by killers for hire. Gangs of 4 or 5 men banded together under the guise of being an adventure party. Singing bards and drinking pints, with the blood of the innocent still dripping from their swords.

Off to kill the big, bad, terrible monster, returning with tales of glorious conquests. Quaraun had seen plenty of these so-called bands of heroes in his lifetime. There was never a genuine hero among them. Nothing but ravenous packs of bullies, greedy, money hungry bullies, who hired themselves out as warriors to rid your town of evil.

Quaraun wondered what made heroes think they were heroic. 

What was more heroic? 

Killing the elderly after falsely accusing them of witchcraft? 

Or killing the mentally retarded children falsely accused of demon possession?

Heroes. That’s what every self-righteous killer called themselves. Quaraun found these so-call do-gooders to be the most repulsive life forms of all. Using religion and hysteria as an excuse to commit murder. 

Though he admitted he couldn’t complain too much without being a hypocrite. Quaraun had killed enough of these adventure parties in his lifetime. They were always adding his name to the list of big bad boss villains in need of battling. He hated them and their ego evilness, that they paraded around as heroics and bravery.

Quaraun liked to be left alone, left to do his own thing. Weaving and sewing silk. But he was old, and he had eccentric habits and quirks that branded him as evil. A witch. A demon. Endless groups of warriors, rouges, rangers, bards, and assassins had hunted him down. Travelled great distances to seek him out. Seek him out and kill him. The big bad super boss villain. That’s what they always called him.

Idiots.

Though Quaraun rarely used magic and preferred to live life as a normal unmagical being, he was, in fact, the most powerful mage the universe had ever known. 

Foolish Humans.

Four or five of them would arrive. 

Taunt him. 

Tease him. 

Bully him. 

Threaten him. 

Challenge him to a duel. 

A fight to the death. 

Expecting to win. 

Expecting him not to flay their minds with a simple thought. 

Expecting him, a psionic Elder Brain, living in the body of an undead Elf, to not obliterate their brains, with nothing more than a blink of the eye, a twitch of the nose, or a wave of the hand. 

Quaraun’s powers were incomprehensible. 

In nearly a thousand years of life on this Earth, no one had yet defeated him. They branded him as the world’s most feared evil super villain. The world’s most feared and most powerful sorcerer.

And yet these silly bands of Humans, calling themselves adventure parties and heroes, continually hunted him down, expecting to kill him, expecting to take him down, expecting to be the one to defeat the infamous Pink Necromancer. 

Quaraun shook the thoughts of past adventurers he’d killed out of his mind. Right now, it was more important to focus on the mob like citizens who were organizing groups of adventurers to seek the supposed cause of this massive storm: Ghirardelli, the Swamp Hag. 

“She’s usually hanging around that Finderu,” a man said to his buddies at the table.

“Finderu?” Quaraun whispered. 

The old Elf spun around and approached the table. He knew caution was needed here, as Quaraun must find Finderu without these people discovering who he was.

“Excuse me?” Quaraun addressed the man who had mentioned Finderu. “When you say Finderu, do you mean the sorcerer Finderu the Masked?”

“Aye. That’s the one.”

“Does he live around he?”

“Who wants to know?”

“I do.”

“What’cha want him for?”

“What? I WANT to kill him.”

"What'd he do to you?"

“He killed my friend. I’ve been looking for Finderu for years.”

“Finderu lives up at The Godforsaken City, far as I know. With Ghirardelli, the Swamp Hag.”

“Do they live together?”

“No. The old hag lives in the swamp. Finderu has a castle or fortress or something he lives in. He heads some coven up their for witches.”

“The Guild of Wizardry?”

“Yeah. That. Witches are all coming through here. They have little pow wows, casting spells and curses on the locals. Folks ‘round here are scared shitless of Finderu and his witches. Won’t surprise me none if they what caused this here storm.”

“This, here, storm, as you put it, is a hurricane, and no witchcraft caused it, however, given the type of magic Finderu does, he could have put a spell on your village so that you didn’t see it coming.”

“Yeah? You think so?”

“Well, considering this is a port full of sailors and fishermen, who usually are pretty good at seeing big storms before they get here, does it not seem logical. Something stopped you all from seeing it?”

“Yeah.” The man turned to his friends. “The old Arab’s got a point.”

“Arab?” Quaraun puzzled over the term. “Why do you call me this?”

“Ain’t you one of them Arabians?”

“No. What makes you say that?”

“The get-up you are wearing. Seen drawings of men dressed like you in The Arabian Nights.”

“Ah! I see. No. I’m Persian.”

“What’s the difference?”

“Well, quite a lot, but I suppose not enough for you to understand.”

“Yeah, well, all you towel heads are alike.”

“Towel head?” Quaraun had encountered this term before and it never came from the mouth of anyone good. He was uncertain how to respond t this, so he said nothing further.

Looking around the room, Quaraun was now paying closer attention to how these people wear dressed. 

Mostly in black, brown, grey, or midnight blue.

The men wore hats.

The women wore white bonnets.

Quakers.

Puritans.

In New England.

Just outside of Boston.

The fishermen and sailors dressed in hemp and worn rags. 

Field hands and harvesters fared no better.

Peasants. 

Serfs. 

Something of that nature. 

These were poor people.

Uneducated.

Superstitious.

And lead by religion crazed men who waved Heinrich Kramer’s Malleus Maleficarum higher over their heads, they waved their beloved Bibles.

This was no place for a magic caster. 

Especially not a necromancer like Quaraun, who practices blood magic, summoned demons, raised the dead, and devoured souls.

Quaraun fell silent as the men took to talking of how they would kill Ghirardelli, the Swamp Hag and Finderu the sorcerer. 

The conversation soon turned to plotting an ambush to capture and torture to death every mage that made his or her way to Finderu’s place. The hostility with which these men described what they were going to do to every mage they encountered was deeply unsettling for Quaraun.

Quaraun slipped away from this group, before they realized he was himself a wizard whom had once been a member of Finderu’s Guild of Wizardry. 

The Humans in this place were ready to tear any mage they saw limb from limb. And Quaraun, with his fear of water, did not relish the thought of being dragged down to the river and drowned, as they were now suggested they would do to the next mage they saw.

The witch hunting craze that was winding into a frenzy in the pub of this inn was utterly terrifying for Quaraun, as he was what they would classify as a witch.

Quaraun looked back at the bar where he had left the innkeeper standing, then looked back up at the ceiling, contemplating the four rooms with their ten beds each ad hay on the floor for more lodgers. He was still thinking about why he had come in here: to rent a room for the night.

But now Quaraun reconsidered that option. This place did not seem to be as safe as it had at first appeared. While the building’s structure appeared strong and study enough to withstand the hurricane, the people inside were angry and far more dangerous than the hurricane outside.

Quaraun slowly made his way through the crowd, cautiously stopping and listening for any hint of Ghirardelli’s location. 

Or more importantly, Finderu’s location. 

But it appeared no one knew for certain exactly where she lived. All anyone seemed to be certain of was that the biggest thunderstorm anyone had ever seen, was tearing apart the coastline as it ripped its way North, and witches and witchcraft caused this storm, therefore Ghirardelli must die, because who else around here was a witch?

Utter nonsense.

That’s all any of it was. 

Complete and utter nonsense.

No one here knew what a hurricane was.

Everyone here was blaming witches for something no witch could do.

Convinced that this crowd was nothing more than delusional fear mongers looking for blood, Quaraun decided he would get no useful information about Ghirardelli’s whereabouts here. And so Quaraun squeezed between the witch crazed bigots, and made his way to the front bar where the innkeeper stood serving drinks.

Quaraun settled down at the bar and ordered a bottle of brilliant, emerald green absinthe.

“You don’t get many hurricanes up here, do you?” Quaraun asked the innkeeper.

“Nope.”

“Do you know what a hurricane is?” 

“Big tornado, out at sea.”

“I’m surprised.”

“By what?”

“That anyone around here has an education. You don’t seem to be as hysterical and superstitious as everyone else.”

“I run a business. Have to keep a level head to deal with this lot.”

“Yes. I could imagine. What’s this witch they are all talking about?”

“Ghirardelli? Local legend. An old woman who lives out in the marsh somewhere. Makes herbal potions for heal fevers and warts. That sort of thing.” 

“Have you ever seen her?”

“Yeah. She comes into town a few times a year. Folk around here make up stories about witches and demons, because it makes them feel justified in bullying old women. It’s those stupid preachers what put those ideas in their heads.”

“So you don’t believe she caused the storm?”

“Hell, no! Of course not. She’s just an old woman who folk make up stories about, because spreading rumours and lies about people who are different is easier than taking the time to get to know them.”

“Do people here not know about weather systems?”

“What’s that?”

“Never mind.”

Quaraun listened around the room some more.

“The people around here really believe in witches, don’t they?” Asked the dismayed Elf.

“Yep.”

“Is that not a silly superstition?”

“Well, not many schools up here. This ain’t Boston, you know?”

“No. I know. But is Boston any better?”

“Well, they did have the Salem witch trails down there, didn’t they?”

“Yes, that’s what worries me,” the woefully worried, world-weary little Elf said skittishly.

“Why’s it worry you?”

“They went after Tibuta.”

“What’s a Tibuta?”

“Who. Tibuta was a woman who took care of a minister’s children. And the children called her a witch. That’s what started the whole thing. But I knew Tibuta, and she was just a kindly old woman who took care of children for wealthy men too incompetent to raise their children themselves. I saw the trails happen, and they were no trails. Just a bunch of hysterical ministers, with their hysterical followers, pointing fingers based on skin colour, race, and how one dressed. Tibuta was black. Only black woman in Falmouth. And we are less 2 days walk outside of Falmouth here.”

“So why’s that worry you?”

“I’m a foreigner. How long do you think it’ll take them to call ME a witch, just because I’m from the Middle East?”

“True. Folk like you probably shouldn’t tarry around these parts long.”

“Those people are looking to burn a witch. I don’t think they’ll care too much who they burn, either.”

“You still thinking of renting a room?”

“With this lot? I’m not sure.”

“Well, I wouldn’t blame ya iffy you waited out the storm elsewhere.”

“I might do that. I don’t relish being hung in a tree.”

“Those ministers over there are right good at working folks ‘round here into a frenzy. You think they are bad now? Wait’ll they was listening to that book reading for a few hours, then see how bad it gets.”

Quaraun looked up at the ceiling, seeking to determine how big the building was. After a few moments, he turned back to the innkeeper.

“How many rooms are upstairs?” Quaraun asked the man.

“Four on each floor.”

“And there are three floors?”

“There are.”

“That’s twelve rooms.”

“It is.”

“But only four bedrooms for rent?”

“Yes.”

“And all sleep at least ten people?”

“Yes.”

“No private rooms?”

“No.”

“But you have extra rooms,” the uneasy Elf Necromancer pointed out. “Besides the four for rent, I mean.”

“Yes.”

“What are those rooms?”

“Ones on the first floor are this room you are in, the scullery behind me, and two rooms for my household. The chambers on the second floor are bedrooms for rent. You rent the bed, not the room.”

“And the third floor?”

“Those are for clients.”

“Clients?”

“Clients.”

“Could I rent one of those?”

“Are you a client?”

“No. I don’t think so.”

“Than you can not.”

“How does one become a client?”

“Why don’t you just rent a bed for the night, like every other traveller does?”

“Do I LOOK like every other traveller?” Asked the unusually elegant silk merchant. “I’m an Elf. Or did you not notice that?”

The innkeeper stepped backward and stared at Quaraun, studying him up and down, scrutinizing every inch of him, with an expression that suggested he had not, until just now, noticed how Quaraun was dressed or that Quaraun was not Human.

“No,” the man shook his head as he spoke. “No, you certainly don’t look like no traveller I’ve ever seen before. You from Morocco or something?”

“Morocco?”

“Yep. You look like you from Morocco.”

“What makes you say that?”

“Looks like Moroccan robes, all striped in silk, you are wearing there.” 

“Do they have striped silk in Morocco?”

“Don’t they?”

“I don’t know.”

“You ain’t from Morocco?”

“No,” Quaraun shook his head as he spoke. “I’m not. That’s in Africa. You’re a long way away from Africa. Do you know Morocco here?”

“Aye. Seen pictures of it before.”

“Really?”

“Ah-yep."

"Where?" 

"In a book."

"I'm surprised anyone in this area is smart enough to know what a book is, let alone have one." 

"Yep. Used to be a man 'round here with books."

"But not any more?"

"Nope."

"What happened to him?"

"Don't know."

"Oh."

"When I was a boy, there was a learned man in town who had a lot of books. Couldn’t read the words none, but they had a lot of pictures. One was a travel book. Showed lots of drawings of people showing how they dressed, all exotic, like you, what kinds of food they ate, exotic culture traditions, and the places, you know, the buildings and architecture and stuff, and also the strange plants and animals. He would read the words to me and tell me about the places. He’d visited ‘em. Always wanted to go see those places. Morocco, Egypt, Persia, Babylon, Baghdad, Bangladesh. But it costs money to travel and one gots to work to feed his family, you know?”

“I am from Persia.”

“Are you?”

“Yes,” the resplendently elegant silk merchant answered. “I am a Di’Jinn.”

“So, you’re like one of those Arabs, then, right?”

“No.”

“Same difference though, yes?”

“Not exactly, no, but, uhm, well, it’s similar, I suppose you could say. No. I’m not Arabian, though I suppose in your mind everyone from the Mediterranean is Arabian? You don’t know enough about our cultures to know they are different.”

“So you’re saying you’re from Arabia, but you ain’t an Arab?”

“No. I’m from Ivujivik.”

“Where’s that?” 

“Ivujivik is in Quebec.”

“Canada?

“Yes.”

“So you’re one of them Frenchies?”

“French and no, I’m not French. I already told you. I’m an Elf.”

“Ooooh.”

“You don’t know what an Elf is, do you?”

“Elves is like Vikings, right? It’s why you got eyes like you do.”

“How are my eyes different?”

“They is blue. Never see no one with blue eyes ‘round these parts here.”

“No, I suppose not,” the cerulean eyed little jelly brained silk peddler said as he looked around, noticing that everyone had brown eyes. “Also, you meant Scandinavian.”

“What’s that?”

“Viking is the Scandinavian word for pirate. A Viking is a sailor turned rouge, like most pirates. Scandinavia is the region.”

“Ooooh. Right. So, if you’re one of them Vikings, why are you dressed up like an Arab?”

“I’m not a Viking. I’m an Elf. And it’s Persian, not Arabian. I’m dressed like a Persian.”

“Same diff.”

“No, it’s not the same thing... I am an Elf. I was born in Ivujivik, but after my mother died, a Di’Jinn priest, who took me back to his home in Persia adopted me. I was only three years old when my mother died, so I was raised my whole life as a Persian, with the Di’Jinn.”

“And the Di’Jinn are who?”

“Many Humans call them The Magi or Wisemen. Perhaps you know them by that name instead?”

“You mean, like The Three Wise Men, what gave baby Jesus gifts on Christmas?”

“Yes. Exactly them. They were looking for The Chosen One. And they were still looking for The Chosen One when I was born. I’m possessed by an alien JellyFish, that arrived on Earth via a spaceship that fell out of a portal, and landed in the Hudson Bay, crawled out of the ocean, and up the nose of the first life form it saw. A little 3-year-old Elf boy.”

“Did you now? So you’re saying you are a JellyFish, living in someone’s nose?”

“Yes,” the little jelly brained Elf answered. “That’s exactly what I am.”

“Riiiight. This ain’t your first drink tonight, is it?”

As it was clear, the innkeeper thought Quaraun was drunk, Quaraun saw no reason to not continue.

“Yes. The Di’Jinn have based their entire religion on looking for Thullid possessed babies. And as they know the Thullid to be aliens who arrive here on ships from other solar systems, they are always looking for and following fallen stars, shooting stars, comets, just any star that moves.”

“The wise men from Gospel of Luke?” 

“Yes. They were searching for the mother ship, and god. They thought it was Jesus in Bethlehem, but that star was just a comet, and not a Thullid ship, so they left, but they made such a fuss about the baby before they left, that every Human in the area assumed the child to be the Messiah from the Hebrew Torah, so a bunch of witch haters got together and murdered him in a bloody Necromancy sacrifice, then resurrected him as a Lich.”

“Murdered who?”

“Jesus. They hung him on a cross for 3 days. And once he’d become a Lich, hoards of Humans started following him, assuming him to be God or the Son of God and thus Christianity rose up.”

“So you’re saying Jesus is a Lich?”

“Yes. He was. He is. He stills roams the Earth today, that’s why so many Christians claim to have seen him. I am soul bound to a Lich.”

“Soul bound?”

“Yes.”

“Like spirit wivery?”

“What?”

“Spirit wivery.”

“I heard you. What is spirit wivery?”

“Men hoard up women, have weird witchcraft orgies and then say their wives are their slaves for eternity in the Celestial Kingdom, after the Second Coming of Christ?”

“You mean Mormon? I know a Mormon. Odd fellow.”

“No. Not the Mormons. They broke off of ‘em though.”

“Broke off of who?” 

“The Cochranites.”

“Cochranites?”

“Yes, follow that Jacob Cochran around. Seventy-three of the women in his church have married him so far. Spirit binding rituals. They claim Jesus is a corpse running around in Peru. Spirit wives are a big thing with them. Every one bind souls to every one else.”

“Have they now?”

“Ahyah. They live out on the Heath Road. Just off the Flag Pond Road. Out near where that Swamp Hag supposed to be. She lives near the Cascades. Lucy Mack over there,” he pointed to a woman sitting at a far table. “She wanted to marry him too, but her father had himself a right fit over it. They live up on York Hill.”

“In Pepper Valley?”

“Ahyee. The Macs is moving to Vermont after the storm. Bought themselves a sheep farm.”

“The Cochranites are polygamists, then?”

“Yep.”

“You don’t see polygamy often in America.”

“Nope. Ain’t your people polygamists?”

“Elves?”

“Arabs.”

“I told you, I’m not Arabian.”

“Oh, yeah. You did. I forgot.”

“My people are polygamist though. I had two spouses at the same time.”

“Will they be needing a room too?”

“No. No. They both died many years ago. That’s why I’m here, in fact. I’m searching for the man responsible. I heard Finderu lives in the area.” 

“So, you’re not a Cochranite.”

“No. I’m not a Cochranite.”

“Don’t they believe Jesus is a corpse walking around in South America?”

“I don’t know. I’m not familiar with any Cochranites. I never heard of them before. I don’t know what they believe. Though if they do believe Jesus is a Lich, they may just be the one religion that has Jesus right.”

“So, you are saying Jesus wasn’t The Chosen One?”

“No. I’m The Chosen One. The baby with a Thullid in his brain. The Elder Brain reborn. The Sacred Pink JellyFish. It’s why the Wise Men carried off me and not Jesus. They left him laying in a manger. Poor baby. Left in a dirty feed trough, to be fed to pigs. What a horrible thing to do to a baby.”

“Aye-yep. Nothing filthier than a pig sty’s manger. You like babies?"

"I love babies. I have a clutch of eggs I'm waiting to hatch."

"You... what?"

“Do you realize I remember the world before the Christian religion was even invented?”

“Really?”

“Yes. You Humans didn’t start worshipping baby Jesus until over a thousand years after he had died. But all that is beside the point.”

“And the point is?”

“The point is, not everyone in many layered long stripped robes is Arabian. Some are Jewish, some are Islamic, some are Romanian, some are Persian...”

“Like you?”

“Like me. And I am not a female.”

“Didn’t say you was.”

“Yes. I had noticed that. It puzzled me that you didn't mention it. That’s why I brought it up.”

“Eh?” 

“Ninety-nine per cent of every American Human I meet thinks I’m a man in a dress.”

“Do they?”

“Yes. It’s really annoying.”

“I should think it would be.” 

“They can not comprehend that there are places where men dress like I do. It is so tiring. Every time I walk into an American village, I am bombarded with teasing and taunting and bullying and being hit and pushed around and rocks thrown at me, because they say men like me can not be around because the Bible says this or the Bible says that. And do you know what?”

“No. What?”

“I’ve read the Bible.”

“Have you now?” 

“Yes.” Quaraun nodded his head as he spoke. “Every word of it several times. And you know what?”

“No. Tell me.” 

“Half the stuff they say is in it, isn’t in it at all. It’s just some bigoted, racist ass shit their minister or pastor or preacher SAID was in the Bible, because he knew his followers were too damned stupid the read the damned book for themselves, so would follow him like brain dead sheep. It’s so annoying.”

“Churches?”

“No. Well, yes, they’re annoying too, but no. Americans. You Humans. You really are an evil lot, when you get right down to it. All you do bicker and fight and beat up everything that is different from you. Which is why I find you, you, personally, to be so odd.”

“Me?”

“Yes. You. You haven’t started screaming and yelling, calling me a man in a dress, and waving Bible verses condemning me as evil, in my face, and I’ve been standing here in your inn, talking to you, for nearly an hour.”

“Well, it’s not polite to bully people.”

“But bullying people is the Christian thing to do, isn’t it?”

"Is it?"

"I've never met a Christian who didn't bully me yet."

“Well, some people is just ignorant.”

“But... you do not see how I dress as odd?”

“No. Should I?”

“No. You shouldn’t. You’re not a Christian, are you?” 

“Nope. Does that make a difference?”

“It shouldn’t, but it does. You are not judgmental and cruel.”

“Meaning?”

“It’s just that I so seldom come across anyone in the Americas who doesn’t act offended and unnerved by my style of attire. And I rarely encounter Christians who are not quick to try to rape me. When I find someone who does neither, I am left to assume they are neither Christian nor American.”

“Your clothes bothers people?”

“Usually, yes.”

“Well, your dress certainly ain’t normal.” 

“No. Not your normal at least.”

“Are there different types of normal?”

“Yes. What is normal for me is strange for you, but what is normal for you is strange for me. What you call exotic is perfectly normal. And what you call normal, I see as exotic.”

“So you think us in our homespun and hemp is exotic and you in your bright blinding pink silk wraps is normal?”

“Yes.”

The innkeeper started laughing.

“I see nothing funny about it,” Quaraun said.

“You are very serious.”

“I’m an Elf.”

“So?”

“Elves are always serious,” the jelly brained Elf said very gravely. “We never make jokes.”

“Why not?” 

"Jokes are evil."

"Are they?"

"Yes!"

"How you figure?"

“Jokes are a form of lies. Lies are evil. Evil is as evil does. We Elves abhor evil.”

“Okay.”

“Usually they say I am dressed as a woman and call me a prostitute, and say I don’t look like a man. I get beat up by you Americans on grounds of being ‘a man in a dress’ all the time. It’s rather annoying that no one identifies me as dressed as a different culture, not a different gender.”

“Ah! Well, they just stupid people is all. They don’t know other cultures exist. They think every ones same as them. But me, I know different. See? I know the world is full of exotic places with exotic cultures who wear exotic things, see? So, I look at you and I do not see a dress. I see an Arab from Morocco all dressed in striped silks.”

“Arabians don’t come from Morocco and I’m not... uhm... I’m from Iran, Persia. I’m not Arabian or Moroccan.”

“Well, same difference.”

“No.” Quaraun frowned. “Where I am from is 10,227 miles away from Morocco.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. It took me four years to walk from Persia to Morocco.”

“You been there?”

“Yes,” the elderly Elf answered. “I have.” 

“Why did you do that?”

“I’m walking my way around the world.”

“Really? What for?”

“No reason in particular? My family died. It upset me. So I started walking. And walking. And I just kept walking. And now, it’s been so many years, that I don’t know how to stop, so I just keep doing it.”

“So, you’re a tramp, like a beggar?”

“Oh, no. Quite the contrary. I’m very wealthy. My uncle was a king. So, technically, I’m a prince. I have plenty of money. I don’t need to beg and I can pay for whatever I need when I need it, and right now I need a place to spend the night.”

“Ah, yes. You came in here asking for a bed to sleep in.”

“No. I don’t want a bed to sleep on. I want a private room where I can meditate undisturbed. Could I rent one of your client rooms?”

“You’d have to be a client.”

“How does one become a client?”

The man stared blankly at Quaraun for several seconds before responding.

“You don’t know what a client is, do you?”

“No. Should I?”

“You look rather old to be a client.”

“I look old?”

“You ARE old, aren’t you?”

“I am, but I was not aware I was starting to look old.”

“What I mean is, you seem to be elderly and clients are usually rather young.”

“Ageism?”

The man pointed across the room to four women, then spoke very slowly, almost whispering: “We have four prostitutes. The four rooms on the third floor belong to them. If you wanted to be one of their clients, well... you DO know what a prostitute is, don’t you?”

"Oh yes. I've been mistaken by one by enough jackass white American Christians."

Quaraun stared at the four women, who were dressed somewhat fancy, or at least fancier than the rest of the crowd, and sitting together chatting. After a few moments of thought, he got up and made his way to them. But first, stopped at Lucy Mac's table.

"You shouldn't be here," Quaraun said to the woman.

"Our house is right on the river," Lucy Mac replied. "It's not safe there."

"No. That's not what I meant. Something has changed. I changed history somehow. You were supposed to go to Vermont twenty years ago. You had a son, who killed 13 sheep on the farm, and then an angry mob chased you to New York. You lived in Palmyra after that. Your son talked to ... well, he said they were angels. He started a church. It's very big. Has a huge impact on the world a few hundred years from now. If you are still here in Maine and your name is still Mac, in 1846, than, something has gone very wrong with history."

"I'm sorry, sir, but you have me mixed up with someone else. I have no son."

"That is very troubling. I wonder what it was, I could have changed to cause this to happen?"

Quaraun left Lucy Mac, worried about the changes of this timeline and wondering if he should try to fix whatever he had changed which had caused this. But, just now the biggest hurricane in the history of planet Earth was bearing down on Saco Bay and he had other things to worry about.

"I have an interesting proposition for you ladies," Quaraun said to the four women, when he finally arrived at their table.

"What? Let me guess. You want all four of us at once?" The chubbiest girl asked. "That cost extra."

"That is not what I meant. Wait? Do you do that?"

"Freakish things cost extra too."

“No. Could you please let me explain?” Quaraun pulled a chair away from one of the other tables and sat down at the whore's table. “I want to rent your room, not you.”

The four girls exchanged glances, then looked at Quaraun like he was crazy.

“What do you want our rooms for?”

“Not all of them. I just want one.”

“Sure. Whatever. Just one. But for what?”

“I like my privacy. Is there something wrong with that?” 

“I guess not. But it’s still a strange request.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. You are odd,” the first woman said.

“Yes. Very odd,” agreed the second woman.

“How is it an odd request?”

“How isn’t it? Why can’t you just rent a bed like everyone else?”

“Your village doesn’t have a proper inn or boarding house or, well, this is the only place I can find that will rent rooms to travellers.”

“But that doesn’t answer my question.”

“Doesn’t it?”

“No. It doesn’t. Not in the slightest.” 

“I’m looking for a private room where I can rest without being disturbed. But here, it’s renting one bed in a room with ten beds and, I’m... I’m not very sociable... and... I... I’d rather not sleep with, well, uhm... to put it bluntly, commoners and poor people have a tendency to rob people like me and I feel safer, if I’m not sleeping in a room full of thugs. This IS Old Orchard Beach, after all. Scum dive honky tonk of Maine.”

“So, you’re a wealthy snob who doesn’t enjoy being around us poor folk?”

“No, that didn’t come out right.”

“That’s what you said.” 

“That’s not what I meant.”

“What did you mean?”

“It’s not poor people I dislike. It’s men.”

“Men? You don’t like men?” 

“Christians mostly. Especially the American ones. White ones most of all.”

“Why?”

“I don’t like being raped,” the elderly silk merchant said bluntly.

“Raped?”

“Rich or poor, in fact rich are worse than poor for that sort of thing. You see, I used to sleep in places like this, but I was attacked and, rather than help me, the others in the room joined in helping the rapists rape me and now, I seem to have developed a fear of sleeping in the company of ... well... men.”

“Rapists?”

“Yes. They raped me. Several times. It’s the way I dress, they... they don’t understand my culture. American men, they see how I dress and say I look like a woman, they say I’m wearing a dress so, I must want to be treated like a woman. Thing is, where I come from, all males dress like this. This is normal for my people. But, it’s happened at more than dozen villages now, you Mainers are sex crazed imbeciles and I’ve developed a fear of boarding in rooms with other men. I’d like either a room by myself or with women.”

“Why don’t you just change the way your dress?”

“I shouldn’t have to change who I am to visit America. If you came to Persia, I would not ask you to stop dressing like a whore and dress like me to fit in with my people. What is it with you Americans and you insistence that everyone change who they are to become duplicates of you?” 

“If you don’t like Americans, then why are you here?”

Quaraun sighed. 

He hated talking to females. 

He also hated talking to Humans. 

He especially hated talking to female Humans.

He struggled to understand the arrogant Human hatred for all things not themselves, and they struggled to understand his not wanting to become like them. Females took it a step further by seething an arrogant hatred for men, as well.

Quaraun felt particularly uncomfortable around these four female Humans.

“I enjoy visiting other places and experiencing other cultures. I have never seen such violence, such racism, such bigotry, such hatred for everyone, and such sex crazed rampant rapism as I have encountered here in America. You are a cold, cruel, bitter people full of animosity and hate, who rape everything you don't kill.”

“Well, yeah, that sounds like a lot of men. Gotta push their weight around. Put us women folk in their place. You should join up with the women’s suffragette.”

“Woman’s suffragette?” This new word surprised the old albino Moon Elf. “What is that?”

“Women’s rights. We fight for the right to vote. We have a mind, don’t we? Are we not intelligent, just like men?”

“In my experience, most women are more intelligent than men.”

“See?” One woman turned to address another of them. “What did I tell ya. You get a man with an education and he’ll agree we women are smart. It ain’t all men who hate us.”

“American men are cruel,” Quaraun stated bluntly.

“Aren’t they though?”

“I came here, to your country, to learn from your people. To make friends. But it has met me with nothing but violence and suspicion and hatred. Your men all act like I’m an evil villain because I don’t look like you, don’t dress like you. I don’t understand it.”

“They treat us women the same way.”

“Yes. They say that too. When they attack me. They say I’m dressed like a woman, so I deserve to be treated like a woman.”

“See? What’d I tell you. Men are women hating bullies.” 

“Men are evil. My family died. Men. It was men who did it. And evil man, I've been trying to find for years, orchestrated the whole thing. Kept his hands free of blood so he could proclaim his innocence. Hired thugs to carry out his plots."

"Your family died?"

"Yes."

"That must have upset you. No wonder you hate men. I would too, bastards out of Hell, that's what men are."

"Yes. It upset me. So I started walking. And walking. And I just kept walking. And now, it’s been so many years, that I don’t know how to stop, so I just keep doing it. And one day I was in a port. I got on a ship and it brought me here to America. If I had known before I came here how evil and hate filled your men were, I never would have come to this country. Your men here are downright evil.”

“Yeah, every woman in America thinks the same way. Men are fuck faced bastards.”  

Just then, a group of drunk men tumbled their way to the table and began pawing at the four women and Quaraun as well.

“Get away from me!” Quaraun said angrily, as he shoved the man aside. Then he turned to address the women: “I’m sorry I bothered you. It seems you’ll be busy tonight and I won’t be able to rent one of your rooms. Here.” 

Quaraun handed the four women each ten gold coins. It was enough money to feed every person in the building for the rest of their lives. 

“Lock yourselves in your rooms and don’t let any of these men touch you. You don't belong in a place like this. Take the gold, use it to help other women. You fight for your rights. Don’t let men push you around.” 

Quaraun stood up and turned to leave, then stopped and said: 

“I came in here to get out of the rain. I’ve a tent, I normally camp out in that, but it is raining and windy and cold. But I’d rather be cold and wet than beaten bloody and molested by your degenerate, sex crazed American men. I feel safer weathering the storm, even though I already know what's going to happen. I'm sorry. Run. No one gets out of this village alive tonight. The Great Gale of 1846 is going to go down in history as the biggest Hurricane the world has ever seen, 10,000 people are going to be dead in this town by morning.  I'm probably going to regret doing this, because I know it is going to change history, but get out of here. Go inland further. Try to get as close to Bangor as you can. Bangor isn't going to get hit hardly at all."

"What are you talking about?"

"I'm a time traveller. I'm from the future. No one in Saco Bay will live through the night. You aren't far enough inland here."

"You're serious aren't you?"  

"I am. You need to get out of here."

"Are you leaving?"

"Yes. I have to find shelter for the night. I know how this week ends. I know where it is safe and where it is not. I've lived through it enough times now. Pepperell Mill will survive the storm. Do you know where that is?"

"Yeah. We work there."

"Yes. I know. That is a pity. Take the fastest horses you can find and get out of here. If you can't reach Bangor, head to Biddeford, the factory, the section with the smoke stack will still be standing 200 years from now. You'll be safe there. I'm heading that way myself."

"You going back out in the storm?"

"Yes."

"Biddeford's fourteen miles from here."

"Well, than I best get going. I'll feel safer in Pepper Valley in tent by the mill, than I do spending the night here with rapist Christians and witch hating murderous Christians. I must constantly remind myself that I am in America, the most vile, immoral, degenerated, hostile races of Humans to ever exist. I do not feel safe in your country at all. Your men are pure evil. I wish you luck with your suffragette. Oh, and avoid Dr. Bean.  He hates the women vote movement.  He's going to kill a lot of you at a rally in four years. They won't find your bodies for another hundred years, when they drain the swamps to build the Saco Police Department Maybe we can change that part of history.”

Quaraun left the building and trudged through the wet, muddy streets, until he made his way back out of the village. He continued walking until he came to a meadow.

“Tall wet grass. Damn.”

After walking nearly a six hours through the waist deep tall grass, blueberry shrubs, and thickets, he finally reached the safety of the old growth pine forest, overlooking York Hill, once again. Black smoke billowed up from the mill's row of smoke stacks. By morning 3 of the hundred foot tall chimneys would be gone, along with most of the mill's west end. But the North Dam side would survive. Here it was safe to stay and wait out the massive hurricane. 

He searched around a bit for a grove with enough of a flat area for him to set up his tent on, then, pulled out his wand, walked around in a circle for a few moments, muttering enchantments, while drawing sigils in the mud. Moments later, his pink and magenta striped tent POUFFED into existence. 

Quaraun used his wand to make a glass-like barrier around the tent, to keep out the wind and rain, and protect it from any trees that might fall during the storm.

Once inside, he hung up his wet cloak and robes and changed into dry ones. For a while he set about to weaving more of his pink and magenta stripe silk and later spent a few hours embroidering other yardages of pink silk. 

Outside the rain continued to pour down, while the thunder rumbled and lightening flashed.

“Sounds like a big hurricane. Stuck in the bay and swinging back like a rubber band. I’m gonna be stuck here a few days.”

And as he predicated, Quaraun was stuck in this location for several days. The torrential rains of the hurricane whipped through the trees, sending limbs and trees crashing around him. 

Quaraun waited out the storm by dying and spinning and sewing and weaving and embroidering. Being a merchant of pink, embroidered silk scarfs and dresses, Quaraun took any opportunity to replenish his stock. In between dyeing silk worm cocoons, spinning silk threads, weaving silk cloth, embroidering silk yardages, and sew silk clothes, he wrote in his scrolls and read his books.

Quaraun lost track of how many days it had being since he set up his tent. This place was secluded and peaceful. No one bothered him, and so he was content to stay put.

The heavy cloud broke open above the tent.

“No,” Quaraun said. “That’s not correct.”

He crossed out the sentence and stared at his scroll, speculating how to better word what he wanted to say.

The heavy cloud broke open above the little pink striped tent.

“Nope, that’s not good, either.” He scribbled out that sentence as well.

The old Elf sighed, rolled up the scroll, and returned it, his ink bottle and quill back into his pink beaded heart shaped bag of holding. 

Writing was not his strong point. Still, Quaraun made a point of writing down the events of each day, at the end of the day, before retiring to bed for the night. 

Today was different. 

Today, it was raining. 

It was still raining.

It had been raining all week.

Quaraun was glad he had decided not to rent a bed or a room or a space on the floor at the overcrowded inn. 

Hurricanes usually lasted only a day or so before moving on. This one was stuck in the gulf and had stuck around all week. He couldn’t imagine spending a week with that lot at the inn. Of course, they were likely all dead by now anyways.

This spot where he had found to pitch his tent was much nicer. 

Quieter. 

Peaceful. 

And though he hated using magic for everyday things, it had been a simple matter to put up a magic barrier to keep out the rain.

The hurricane was still spinning around like a top, trapped in Saco Bay’s massive horseshoe shape, and so instead of moving on, it just kept riding back around.

Again.

And again.

And again.

Two merchant vessels had come crashing down beside the tent. Twenty three more were scattered about the yard of Pepperell Mill. Three of the mill's smoke stacks lay shattered and crumbled not far away. Back in Old Orchard, three hundred acres of apple trees were uprooted and now floating in the nearby Scarborough Marsh. The pier had collapsed, as had the roller coaster and more than 200 hotels. Saco, Biddeford, Old Orchard Beach, and most of the rest of Greater Portland, lay in ruins. Ten thousand dead and counting, many hundreds of bodies would never be found, all ready dragged out to see.

And yet, the storm kept raging, as the death counts continued to rise with each passing day. The biggest Hurricane in Earth's history: The Great Gale of 1846, decimated Maine, and Quaraun, once again had a front row seat, just as he had, hundreds of times before.

Stuck in the horseshoe of Saco Bay, the hurricane made it's way across Maine yet again, for the seventh time in the past three days. It was why hurricanes did so much damage whenever they hit Maine, and it was fortunate that hurricanes rarely hit Maine. But the hurricane had been pelting the area for more than a week now, and was no longer a hurricane, but rather was not just a very large storm. The Saco River had flooded every town along its banks and Pepperell Mill, in Pepper Valley, Biddeford, was underwater and had been evacuated. 

Quaraun could have moved on, but he was in the high grounds, and he liked sitting and looking down on the Saco River estuary. And watching this storm, had become an annual event, something he did every life time. It was the birthplace of BoomFuzzy, his lover from long ago. Biddeford had been BoomFuzzy’s home, and though Quaraun had never been to Pepper Valley while The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley had been alive, he returned here each year to be nearby to the place his dead lover had called home.

But with the hurricane arriving only days after Quaraun did, the elderly wizard found it difficult to go outside and watch the birds and fishermen in Saco Bay. Of course, there were neither birds nor fishermen out there right now anyway, any that had been foolish enough to not leave the area, were not splattered dead on the sides of the big red brick mill buildings.

Quaraun had busied himself with weaving and embroidering and sewing, the entire week, but, the ground was cold and damp, and he was old and weak. His bones were hurting, his hip was aching, and the moist, foggy, rain filled air, was wrecking havoc on his rheumatism and arthritis, making it painful for him to sit at his weaving loom today.

And so it was not yet night and not yet time for bed, but Quaraun was sitting in his tent, contemplating going back to bed, to sleep off his aching bones and hope that the rain will finally have stopped by the time he woke up. 

Listening to the pitter patter of the rain, Quaraun was stuck sitting in his tent, waiting for the rain to stop, not quite tired enough to sleep, but hurting too much to do anything else. 

Some days, immortality and eternal beauty were nice. 

Other days, like today, the side effects of old age reminded Quaraun just how very old he was. 

The ancient wizard tried to figure out how old he was. The problem with this, was he didn’t know exactly when he was born. Quaraun had been born some time around the Human’s year of 800 A.D.

The other issue with this, was he did not know what the current Human year was.

The other problem, was the local Humans were protest English rule, so, they had stopped using the English calendars, around the same time they had tossed all the English tea in the Atlantic Ocean.

Quaraun was not good with math or numbers in general, so he struggled to calculate his age. 

An exact age was near impossible to determine, but even a rough estimate was difficult. 

Quaraun finally concluded that he was somewhere older than four hundred years old and somewhere younger than a thousand years old, and decided that seven hundred and fifty years sounded like a good number. So declared himself to be seven hundred and fifty years old. And he had spent the past three hundred or so years telling people that he was seven hundred and fifty years old. 

And now today, he sat in his pink and magenta stripped silk tent, resting on his pink and purple striped silk pillows, wearing his pink and fuchsia stripped silk robes, wrapped him his pink and orange striped shawl, wondering how many years it had been since he had started telling people he was seven hundred and fifty years old. He wondered this now, today, because his creaky bones were hurting worse than usual and he wondered could it be he was now over a thousand years old?

After concluding that he must by now be over a thousand years old, the old Elf sat on his pile of pink striped silk cushions for a few more moments, struggling to determine of what he could do to pass the time. Specifically, he concluded that being old was a depressing thought, and he wondered what it was he could do to take his mind off the thought of old age. 

The ancient wizard contemplated getting up and working on his weaving, needlepoint, or sewing some more, but his hip was sore, so he continued to rest lazily on the pillows. 

Quaraun suffered from poor health. This was not because of his greatly advanced age, however. He’d been born a runt. Small, sick, and weak, straight from the womb, no one had expected him to live to the end of his first week. His youth had been spent mostly indoors, in bed, reading books. There had been little else he was capable of. Though he had grown stronger as he grew older, he remained forever, two heads shorter than most other men and a full head shorter than most women. Quaraun wondered what it was that bothered him most: being short, or that he had gotten old?

At least he had immortality. That was the advantage of being a necromancer who was soul bound to a lich. The lich was immortal and now, so too was the necromancer whom had created the lich.

But immortality did not mean a life without suffering, or existence without pain, discomfort, and illness.

And after ten thousand years of reaching the implosion of Earth, going back in time to start life over again, Quaraun had become bored with everything in general.

The Phooka of a thousand death. An undead lich, cursed to live his life over and over, endless eternities. BoomFuzzy. Quaraun knew the risk of binding his soul to a lich, but he'd done it anyways. And now he too, was cursed to relive life again and again, forever.

Immortality. Deemed by Humans to be a thing to strive for. To live forever. Was that not the ideal life?

Quite the contrary.

The aches and pains of decrepit age creaked their insufferable discomforts through Quaraun’s elderly tendons and ancient bones. Pangs twisted inside of the aged wizard’s body while miseries racks his joints, and the damp, dank, musty weather had only made every ounce of suffering that much more unbearable.

Quaraun decided that since rain cascaded down outside, and this tiny field seemed off the main road and somewhat secluded, with so little chance of anyone disturbing him, to set up his bedroll and go to sleep for a few hours.

And so the dripping wet drenched Di’Jinn silk merchant did precisely this, after spending quite some time first drying his long floor sweeping hair.

A few moments later, Quaraun drifted off into a peaceful slumber, to dream pleasant dreams of his youth spent with his lover, BoomFuzzy.

“Argh!” Quaraun half screamed from fright and half yelped from pain in his hip, as he felt someone shaking him out of his dream.

A newcomer, a stranger, a mature female Human, stood in the eccentric silk weaver’s tent with him, leaned over the dishevelled sleeping silk merchant, shaking him, struggling to wake him.

“You gotta help me! Please!” The woman desperately pleaded, almost yelled, while trying to nevertheless be quiet and whisper. “Please, help me!”

Quaraun blinked sleepily and yawned, before slowly sitting up and peering around, disoriented and bewildered and trying to remember where he was. It took the tired bleary eyed Moon Elf a moment to recall he was in Pepper Valley, had set up a tent to wait out the deluge, and had now been here in Pepper Valley for ten days, still waiting for the precipitation to stop. 

He sat and dreamily watched the little silk moths fluttering about the room.

The tired jelly brained Elf shivered. 

His bones ached. 

His muscles were sore. 

And the salty ocean air was cold and damp, both chilling him and making his aches and pains more noticeable.

The chill from the wet, stormy night air drifted through the tent, chilling him. Quaraun yawned again, then pulled the soft rusty coloured fox fur blanket up around his shoulders before finally focusing on the frightened woman.

“Who are you?” Quaraun asked. “And why are you in my tent? How are you in my tent? I put up a barrier. You should not have even been able to see my tent, at all, let alone get through to come inside. How did you even see my tent to begin with? It should have been very, nearly, completely invisible to the naked eye.”

“You gotta help me,” she stated, completely ignoring the Moon Elf’s questions.

“Why? You seem to be perfectly capable of breaking through magic barriers. That’s not something normal people can accomplish. That is not even something the most competent of mages can manage.”

“They’re after me.”

“What? Who is? Whoever it is, they are not likely to find you in here. You are safe in here. In fact, I am surprised you even found your way in here at all.”

“Please, you gotta help me.”

“I don’t gotta do a damned thing. Who are you and why are you in my tent and how the hell did you even get through my barrier to get in my tent?”

“My name’s Ghirardelli. I’m from The Godforsaken City.”

“Ghirardelli? The Swamp Hag?”

“I’m a Human. I’m not a hag.”

“Fair enough. But that does mean you are a mage? Does it not? And a powerful one. You’re a Guild member. I recognize your name. I find myself being very weary of any Guild member. Why are you in my tent?”

“Some men...” she paused for a moment, anxiously eyeing Quaraun up and down. “Wait. Are you a man?”

“I’m an Elf.”

“Elves went extinct centuries ago.”

“I know,” the old Elven silk merchant replied as he reached for his hookah. “I’m the last one.”

“I hoped this tent belonged to a woman when I came in here. You look... you look... female. But your voice...”

Quaraun puffed on his hookah for a few moments before answering the woman.

“I assure you I am a male, or at least I used to be before a group of wretches castrated me, regardless of what my features may tell you. Why are you in my tent? What precisely do you require?”

“Castrated, you? You mean you don’t have...”

“Do you want me to show you, exactly what it was that they did to me?”

“No. I... uhm... no. I am so sorry.”

“About me being castrated or you so rudely trespassing in my tent and waking me up?”

“Uhm. Both, I guess. It’s just that I noticed the tent. It was pink and, decorated and ruffles and beads and, I ran inside thinking it was a lady’s pavilion. I didn’t realize. And then I saw you asleep, you looked, I assumed, your hairstyle and your gown and your face, you...”

“You did what every one does and judged me to be a woman, yes, I understand. I get mistaken for being female all the time. It’s annoying really. You’d think no one in America ever saw anyone from the Middle East before. What do you want?”

“Are you trying to uhm... are you trying to be a woman?”

“No. This feminine face is just what I was born looking like. I can’t help the face and hair I was born with.”

“And your clothes?”

“I’m Persian.”

“So?”

“So? This is how Persian men dress.”

“Really?” 

“Yes.”

“Aren’t those women’s clothes?”

“No. These are not women’s clothes. These are not dresses. They are caftans and cloaks and coats. Every man in the East wears them.”

“In pink?”

“Yes. In pink.”

“Really?”

“Yes. It’s the colour of royalty.”

“Are you royalty?”

“I am The Grand High Emperor of The Triple Planets.”

“You’re an emperor?”

“Yes.”

“Really?”

“Yes.”

“Living in a tent?”

“Yes.”

“With no castle or palace or body guards or...”

“No. None of those things.”

“And you wear pink?”

“What is wrong with pink?”

“It’s a girl’s colour.”

“I like pink,” the ancient pink robed silk merchant stated without further explanation.

“You sure do,” the woman said as she stepped back away from the Elf and looked around the tent.

Everything was pink.

Everything.

Every stitch of absolutely everything was pink.

Every single item.

Every detail.

Pink curtains.

Pink pillows.

Pink quilts.

Pink blankets.

Pink tapestries on the walls of the tent.

Pink rugs and carpets tossed around covering the dirt and grass making a soft, pink, plush floor.

A gold throne with bright pink velvet cushions. 

As she surveyed the gaudy pink decor, it suddenly occurred to her that this tent was much bigger on the inside than it had been on the outside. 

From outside it had appeared to be a small little circular marquee, perhaps big enough for one person to sit and sip tea. It was certainly not big enough to lay down or stand up in. And yet, once inside the pink tent, the room was so incredibly vast.

And pink.

So very desperately pink.

Even the moths were pink. 

Fat, chubby, fuzzy pink moths covered in yellow spots were flying lazily around the tent. 

Fluffy white silk months fluttered around loose in the tent, as well.

After getting over the shock of how overly pink everything was, she suddenly realized how quiet it was inside the tent.

So very, dreadfully quiet. 

It was too quiet in here. 

The quiet was unnatural.

Outside the sounds of the hurricane ripping the forest apart, crashing, clattering, roaring, howling, thunder, lightening, high winds made it deafening to the point of being unable to concentrate. Yet stepping through the cloth door-flap of the tent was all it took for every sound outside to vanish.

“What dark magic is this?” The woman whispered under her breath as she listened to the absolute silence.

The ceiling tall shelves were lined with books and trinkets and potions. Herbs reducing down to their oil essences, bubbled in various double boilers, while small cauldrons simmered with spices.

Stacks on woven reed and marsh-grass baskets were piled around in various places. Some filled with fruits and vegetables, mostly apples and potatoes. Others filled with various sewing, weaving, and embroidery gear. Still others with glass blowing and wood carving tools. Most of them contained various dried herbs and flowers.

It appeared as though the Elf made everything himself, from the little wooden tables to the woven baskets, as there were also stacks of partly carved wood and partly woven baskets laying about as well. 

From the bamboo tent poles hung hemp braids, full of dried pomegranate and oranges, both stuck full of anise stars and cloves. The heady aromatic aromas of sandalwood and patchouli incense burning filled the air. 

Braided garlic, nets of red wax dipped cheese balls, strings of dehydrated apple slices, and bunches of dark brown vanilla beans, dried opium poppy pods, and large cocoa pods also hung from the ceiling. 

Spices, cheeses, fruits, and chocolates were stacked on various tables and clearly made up the bulk of the old Elf’s diet.

One pot was cooking what appeared to be wassail. The citrusy, clean smell of boiled orange slices, mixed with the pungent fragrance of anise stars, cinnamon sticks, and cloves, wafted up from the syrupy mixture of spices, cut fruit, and rum.

“There are so many exotic smells in this tent,” she said as she walked around opening pots and lifting covers. “That I can not rightly tell where they are all coming from.”

“Exotic is a matter of perspective,” Quaraun stated dryly. He was not amused by this woman’s intrusion of his privacy, nor her refusal to state why she was here, and her snooping around through his things was irritating him and raising his suspicions. “What is exotic to you, is perfectly natural and native to me. It is only exotic because you are unused to it. Please stop touching everything.”

As she looked around the tent, and could see no source of light, and yet, the tent was as well lit as though she was standing in a dry meadow on a clear, bright, sunny day. A fire was lit under the cauldron and pots, but it was giving off no smoke and not nearly enough light to fill the room. The lack of smoke from the fire and the well lit light from no source alarmed her and signalled even more magic was at work here.

“There is no smoke from the fire in here,” the woman said.

“No,” Quaraun answered. “It is vented out.”

“Is it?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t see how.”

“What matters is I did it and the air is safe and clean and non-toxic and we can breathe without choking on ash. Does it matter how I do it?”

“I suppose not.”

“Why are you in my tent?” Quaraun repeated his question yet again.

“There were men after me,” the women said as she continued to nosily poke around the tent, in business that was not her own. “Where is the light coming from?”

Quaraun pointed to a glowing crystal, a large quartz-like stone sitting on the table at the centre of the tent. Even the moths were pink. Fat little short wings, feather antennae silk months bounced around the glowing crystal, attracted to its brilliant orange light.

“What is it?” Asked the woman as she picked up the large rock and turned it over in her hands.

“You really don’t want to know.”

“Why not?”

“It’s feces from the lava slugs of Fire Mountain. Dwarven miners used to use them to light the way in the deepest caves of the Earth, centuries ago, back when Dwarves were still plentiful. The Dwarves went extinct before us Elves did. Pitiful. Only Humans remain.”

The woman quickly put the glowing, crystallized dung back down and the fluttering moths followed its glow. “Where did you get it?”

“From Fire Mountain.”

“Well, obviously, but what I meant was, how did you get it? Lava slugs are deadly. And massive. Nearly as big as a hippo.”

“You know what a hippo is?”

“Well, yeah...”

“I suppose the bigger question, should be: How do you know what a lava slug is?”

“I read about them once.”

“Most Humans would caulk them up to mythology and not so readily accept their existence. Of course, most Humans can’t see an invisible tent, or walk through a magic barrier, and you did both to get in here.”

“You’re a witch?” the woman inquired as she examined the rows of kettles bubbling away.

“I’m a silk merchant,” Quaraun said, stating what should have been obvious, as he continued to nervously smoke his hookah.

“I see,” the woman said as she peered into the enormous cauldron and found it full of silkworm cocoons soaking in a strange pink liquid.

The smaller pots, filled with other shades of pink liquid, each pot a darker pink than the next, and each likewise, also filled with large puffy silkworm cocoons, sat scattered around the larger pot.

On the table, near the cauldron, lay rows of bright pink cocoons drying on wire mesh racks. Near those were even more cocoons, these already dried and partly unravelled. The outsides of the cocoons were deep dark pinks, but the dye did not seep through to the worm in the middle, so the innermost fibres were pale pink, almost yellowish-ivory-white. Beside those were racks of long wooden poles, from which hung lots of filaments of variegated pink silk yarns.

It was easy to see how Quaraun achieved the delicate striped pattern of his striped pink silk cloth, when one saw how he dyed the cocoons before unravelling them.

“These are dyes?” she inquired, pointing to the smaller boilers filled with herbs.

“Yes. I dye my silk threads with them.”

“I’ve never seen silk woven like this before.”

“Have you ever even seen silk woven before?”

“Yes. Once. Years ago. A local tailor had ordered some silk thread to weave a shawl with. She said silk was too slippery to work with so, she never did it again. But, you don’t order the thread from elsewhere. You’re making it. You make your own silk threads.”

“Yes. I raise my own silk worms.” Quaraun pointed to the many bamboo aviary cages stacked to the back wall of the tent. These were filled with shrubs, covered in mass hoards of caterpillars chewing at the leaves. “I prepare my own dyes. Spin my own thread.”

“You produce your silk from scratch, then?”

“Yes.”

“That’s pretty amazing, actually.”

“Madame, a few moments ago you were screaming, terrified, desperate for help. You seem to have forgotten about that in favour of being nosy.”

“You said this tent was invisible, so I was safe here.”

“Yes. And I think you already knew that before you entered here. Who sent you?”

“Sent me?”

“Yes. Sent you. Who sent you? Why are you here?”

The woman ignored the old Elf’s question and proceeded around the room. The bulk of the tent’s interior looked like a tailor’s sewing shop. A spinning wheel sat its spindle full of soft freshly spun pink strands. Baskets of full spindles sat around the spinning wheel.

Near the spinning wheel, sat a large weaving loom, with yardage of fine, delicate striped pink Shantung slubbed silk partly woven. More baskets full of spindles sat around the weaving loom.

Several large embroidery hoops stood on stands near the loom, each with pink silk stretched across it. Some hoops had fuchsia embroidery partly started on the pink silks, while others, already finished being embroidered, had tiny magenta seed beads and small disc mirrors being sewn on to them.

“You mentioned you travel?”

“I said nothing of the sort, but yes, I do. I’m a peddler. A travelling merchant. Yes. I travel. Why?”

“Do you take all this equipment with you?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“I carry it.”

“All of it?”

“All of it.”

“Don’t you have a horse or a wagon or anything?”

“Did you see any when you barged in?”

“No.”

“Well, there you go.”

“But it was dark. And raining.”

“I have no horse. I have no wagon. I travel alone and on foot. I carry everything on me.”

“How?”

“You are a nosy one, aren’t you?”

“It’s just you are so small and you don’t look very strong, and there’s, like, an entire house full of stuff here.”

“Ah. Well, that is a puzzle then, isn’t it?”

Quaraun still lingered in his bed, which was a pile of fur pelts, laid out on the floor, that he had been curled up in, sleeping in them like a bird’s next or a fox’s den.

The old, sleepy Moon Elf necromancer hoped that if he just stayed in bed, the woman would leave and let him go back to sleep. But she continued poking through his belongings and snooping around in every nook and cranny she found, which annoyed Quaraun to no end.

Quaraun suddenly decided she must die.

No.

He shook the image from his mind.

He tried to imagine of something else.

BoomFuzzy’s BoomFudgy ButterCream Filled Chocolate Covered Apricots.

Yes.

That was a much better thought.

Quaraun pulled a box of BoomFuzzy’s BoomFudgy ButterCream Filled Chocolate Covered Apricots from out of his tiny heart-shaped bag of holding.

He stared at the velvet covered brown box with the friendly gold letters on the top. Such wonderful dark chocolates. Such horrible dark secrets they held inside each bloody bite.

BoomFuzzy had died centuries ago. One bite was deadly. BoomFuzzy’s last box of BoomFudgy ButterCream Filled Chocolate Covered Apricots.

The last thing BoomFuzzy ever made.

The last thing BoomFuzzy ever ate.

BoomFuzzy had poisoned the candy.

A horrible, terrible poison.

One that dissolved organs, and caused the eater to dying coughing up a pool of their own blood, mixed with their dissolved entrails.

BoomFuzzy’s last box of BoomFudgy ButterCream Filled Chocolate Covered Apricots. The box of chocolates BoomFuzzy had made to kill himself with.

BoomFuzzy had committed suicide.

This horrible box of chocolates killed BoomFuzzy.

No. 

This was not a pleasant thought.

This was a horrible thought.

A memory. 

That’s what this box was now. 

A memory of the day BoomFuzzy died.

Quaraun opened the box. The deceptively heavenly aroma of bitter sweet dark chocolate, soft, fluffy buttercream, and gooey fruity apricot jam wafted out of the box. 

Five chocolates were gone. 

The rest still remained.

“I loved my children,” Quaraun said out loud.

“What?”

“But I loved BoomFuzzy more.”

“What are you muttering about?”

“I murdered my four children.”

“What? Why would you do that?”

“This candy is poisoned.”

“Is it?”

“I gave them each a chocolate from this box. This horrible box of poisoned chocolates. I knew what they were, I knew they were full of poison, and I did it, anyway. I knew how BoomFuzzy had died. I knew what BoomFuzzy had done to the food. And I gave these to my children anyways. Five are gone. One for BoomFuzzy. Four for my children. The rest remain.”

“You murdered your children?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“They were sweet and innocent. Innocent and sweet. Pure and kind. Kindness is a rare thing. So few are kind. No one has ever been kind to me. I am too different to be accepted or welcomed in any society. Unloved and unwanted, outcast and abandoned. Yet they were innocent. They were not cruel and hateful like everyone else.”

“Then why did you kill them?”

“The innocent must die along with the wicked, in order for the spell to work.”

“Blood magic? Do you mean blood magic? Blood magic is the only magic that tells you to kill.”

“Yes. Blood magic. Dark and evil. Evil and dark.”

“Evil is right. No one does Blood Magic but the most evil sorcerers.”  

“Blood covered everything,” Quaraun continued saying, not listening to the intruder. “They were so cold after. So very cold. The coldness of death. I had never felt before. Stiff and rigid. It was horrible. And worse as hours passed. Their spines snapped. Their bodies folded back on themselves.”

“That’s horrible!” 

“I knew nothing of death back then. I did not know what it would do to their bodies. I put BoomFuzzy’s body away, quickly after he died. He didn’t go cold and his spine did not snap. But theirs did. I didn’t know what death was like. Have you ever witnessed death?”

“No.”

“You don’t want to. The light leaves their eyes, then tremors take hold of their body. The colour leaves their eyes. Solid black. Everything. Everyone. No matter how they die. Sickness. Old age. Poison. Hanging. It is always exactly the same when the moment of death arrives. I’ve seen so much death now.”

“And you seem traumatized by it.”

“I am. I know I am. Death is horrible to watch and yet I’ve watched it so many times now. Do you know the first death I ever saw?”

“No.”

“My mother. My father murdered her.”

“That’s terrible.”

“I know. I saw him do it. I was three years old. He suspected she was not an Elf.”

“How can an Elf not be an Elf?” 

“When they are a Thullid.”

“Thullids are pretty rare, aren’t they?”

“Yes. Nearly as rare as Elves.”

“Did he think she was a Thullid?”

“Yes. Accused her of being a Thullid. So he cracked open her skull. And he was right.”

“She was a Thullid?” 

“Oh yes. When her skull broke open, there was no brain inside. Instead, there was a jelly fish. A beautiful white jelly fish. He took it out of her skull, threw it on the floor and jumped on it. Crushed it flat. Both of my mothers died that day. The Elf who gave birth to my Elven host’s body and the Thullid who bore my jellyfish larvae. He murdered both of my mothers.”

“You’ve had a hard life, haven’t you?”

“But they took her body away. So I didn’t see what happens after death arrives. So I didn’t know what would happen to my children after they died. Their bodies expelled every last fluid, from their mouths and nose and ears and eyes, their bowels emptied. Death is horrible to see. Horrible to watch. A body must be buried within 3 hours of death, otherwise it will twist and snap its spine than empty every fluid while it does. Every body does this. Every person. Every bird. Every animal. I know that now. But I didn’t know it then. I’d never seen it before. I saw it happen to my children. I wanted them to die peacefully. But death is never peaceful. Death always snaps the spine and expels every fluid, no matter how you die, even if you die in your sleep just from old age. Death is always just plain awful.”

“Yes. It is, but murder is worse.”

“Murder. Yes. Bleak and vile. Heinous and gloomy. Sinister and evil. Malevolent and foreboding. Ominous and malignant. Malicious and gloomy. Blood. Red and oozing. Abhorrent and dismal. Anguish and despair. Malevolent and dread. Grim and malignant. Malicious and forlorn.” 

“What? Why are spouting off random words?”

“Hmmm? Am I? I don’t know. It’s something I do when I am upset. It relaxes me. I murdered my children. The Elf’s children. Not the Thullid’s children.”

“Thullid? You mentioned Thullids before...”

“So much blood. The blood was everywhere.” 

“When you killed your children?”

“Yes. But they were the Elf’s children, so why should I care? I should care for my true children. My Thullid babies. My clutch of eggs. The host’s children should not concern me.”

“The host?”

“This Elf whom I live in.”

“You are not the Elf?”

“No. I am the Sacred Pink JellyFish. The Elf is dead, his corpse is my host. They were his children. Not mine.”

“I’m confused.”

“The Thullid’s eggs will not hatch until they are fertilized. I must guard them until then. But the Elf fathered children. Their mother was evil, but the children, were innocent. I murdered them before I executed her. I murdered them to hurt her. She loved them. Like a mother should. But she hated BoomFuzzy and taught her children to hate BoomFuzzy and sing that horrible, terrible song. I could not listen to that song any longer, so I sent them to bed, each with one of BoomFuzzy’s poisoned chocolates. I quickly regretted it, but by then it was too late. They had already eaten the candy. I slit their throats while they slept, so that they would not die as BoomFuzzy ad done, lingering in agony for days while their organs boiled inside them.”

“Why would you do something like that?”

“The innocent die as a sacrifice to cleanse the caster’s hands of the blood of the wicked.”

“That’s dreadful!”

“I know. I’ve lived with the guilt, my whole life. Every lifetime. So many lifetimes. I am in Hell. This is my Hell. I was so young when I killed them.”

“Why are you telling me this?”

“I don’t know.” Quaraun put the box of poisoned chocolates back in his bag and fell silent once again.

“I think you are tired. You should go back to sleep.”

“Yes. I am very tired,” Quaraun agreed.

The carelessly lazy, lackadaisical Elf watched as the woman continued to rummage around in his things. Quaraun desperately wanted to slay the bitch, but he was lacking in the enthusiasm and determination to get off his own ass and actually do anything.

Her actions agitated the irritated jelly brained silk merchant greatly. However, Quaraun tried his best to remain calm, relaxed, and civil and be polite. Yes, politeness. This current situation called for politeness, not daggers, and her still beating heart in his hand.

Quaraun squeezed his eyes shut.

Must endure.

He needed to think of something.

Anything.

Sheep.

Unicorns.

The Swamp Hag’s head on a platter.

Nope.

This was not working.

Ghirardelli was acting suspicious.

Suspicious people upset Quaraun and caused him to think suspicious thoughts.

Squishy, psychotic jelly brain thoughts of murder. The mind flaying Thullid living in his skull, boiled in rage as the woman went around the tent rudely touching things. Images of millions of tentacles strangling the stranger, flashed through Quaraun's mind, as he long hair, grew longer, wriggling and twisting around him.

No.

Must not kill.

Quaraun did not like thinking suspicious thoughts.

Tea.

Yes. Tea. That’s what the disconcerted old Moon Elf required.

Opium tea.

Ghirardelli would be dead by morning if Quaraun didn’t have some tea to divert his glorious thoughts of ripping her head off.

No.

Silver. Violet. Purple. Flame.

Calm.

Quiet.

Polite.

Silver. Violet. Purple. Flame.

Peacefulness.

Relax.

Silver. Violet. Purple. Flame.

Heads.

Silver platters.

No.

That’s not right.

No heads.

No silver platters.

No heads on silver platters.

The temptation to rip out brains was great.

Quaraun's lovely silver strands of hair began twitching at the thought of pulling the woman's brain out through her nostril.

Quaraun reached out and began smoothing and soothing his wriggling strands of hair.

Must resist ripping her brain out.

One must be good to the Americans, evil though they are, no matter how big a piece of shit said American may be. 

Ghirardelli was shittier than the average Human. 

Quaraun knew this to be true, for Ghirardelli worked for Finderu.

Resisting the temptation to slaughter every Human, especially every American Human, most especially every white American Human, especially the vile scum that lived here in Saco Bay, he encountered, was very difficult for Quaraun. 

Ghirardelli fit all the above criteria. 

White. Never good.

Human. Always evil. 

American. Immoral degenerates. 

Trespassing in his tent.

Lived in Saco Bay.

 Quaraun liked Saco Bay.

Saco River Estuary was lovely. He could see it from here if only the hurricane would stop. 

Lovely tall green grass. 

Towering gentle giant white pines. 

Moose wading in the river. Loons shrieking from the water. 

Quaraun could wade into the water and let his JellyFish tentacles swim long, loose, and free.

Partridge booming their wings on fallen logs. 

Too bad the Humans were ruining it. 

Clear cutting everything. 

Three giant red brick smoke stacks lumbering down over all of it, filling the sky with thick, black smog. 

Pollution and filth, all for money and greed.

A crashing sound, the clattering of breaking pottery, brought Quaraun out of his thoughts. The old Elf opened his eyes, only now just realizing he had closed them. Ghirardelli had knocked over a shelf of terracotta jars, and now busied herself with picking them back up.

 Quaraun watched, as he reminded himself, that he must be nice to the jackass, trespassing intruder who was right now invading his privacy, even though in his mind all he wanted to do was wring the shit head trespassing intruder’s neck, shoot slugs at her from his wand, gouge her eyes out with his dagger, and then eat her brain. It had been so long since he had last eaten a brain.

The Sacred Pink JellyFish set about to thinking thoughts of how wonderful eating brains was. It had been so long since she had eaten a brain. Psionic creatures like Thullids required brains to eat, in order to strengthen their psionic abilities.

“Brains are such wonderful things,” Quaraun muttered to himself.

Before Quaraun knew it he was daydreaming visions of eating her brain sliced and toasted, spread with strawberry jelly and boiling her eyes, while wearing her teeth for a necklace. 

The psychotic Thullid possessed Elf thought these gloriously, lovely squishy thoughts of murder, while she continued to poke through his things, oblivious to the danger she had put herself by entering into this innocent-looking pink tent.

A pink tent that was brimming full of everything a silk merchant needed to grow, boil, spin, weave, dye, embroider, sew, and display his pink silk wares.

Quaraun’s display of pink silk wares is where Ghirardelli was now snooping around.

Dozens of pink dresses, pink scarves, pink shawls, pink sari, pink hijab, pink coats, pink cloaks, pink capes, pink blouses, pink corsets, pink hose, pink skirts, pink shoes, pink boots, pink ruffs, pink collars, pink cuffs, pink hats, pink slippers, pink bags, and pink petticoats all hung and displayed around the tent, some finished and ready to be sold, others in various stages of construction.

“What’s all this?” Ghirardelli asked, pointing to the weaving, embroidery, and sewing.

Quaraun didn’t answer. He was too busy thinking squishy homicidal jellyfish thoughts, to any longer pay attention to the stranger who’d instigated those thoughts.

“HEY!” The woman yelled as she grabbed Quaraun’s shoulder and shook him. “You okay?”

“What?” Quaraun blinked and looked around, trying to remember where he was. “Oh. It’s you. Are you still here?”

“Are you all right?”

“Oh yes. Quite fine.”

“You were in a trance or something back there.”

“Yes. I do that when things are upsetting me. What were you saying?”

“What’s upsetting you?”

“You are.”

“Me?”

“Yes.”

“How am I upsetting you?”

“You are touching my things.”

“And that upsets you?” 

“Yes. It is very upsetting for me. You are upsetting me.”

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you.” 

“You are invading my personal space.”

“I... it’s...” 

“I don’t like it. Anyone else would be dead by now.”

“Anyone else... wait... what? What do you mean, dead?”

“You are the Guild’s primary rat. And there weren’t other members of the Guild whose heads I wanted more. I’d have killed you already, soon as you said your name.”

“What’s all that stuff over there?” Ghirardelli asked, once again pointing to the weaving, embroidery, and sewing, and once again ignoring what the Elf had said.

“That? I told you. I am a merchant. As I can not travel because of the storm, I am working on replenishing my stock. Making more dyes, dyeing more threads, weaving more yardages, embroidering more cloth, sewing more saree. I sell these at markets along the coast. Each year I travel to the south, selling as I go, then I return to the north, selling as I go yet again.”

“Why though?” 

“I’m a silk merchant. This is what I do. Why is my being a silk merchant so hard for you to understand?”

“But, I mean, everything is pink. There is nothing not pink here.”

“What is wrong with that?”

“I don’t understand why you are doing it.”

“I’m a silk merchant.”

“Of only pink?”

“Yes. Only pink. I only make pink silk. Not blue. Not linen. Not green. Not cotton. Just pink. Just silk. Pink silk is my specialty.”

“So, you’re a merchant of only pink silk merchandise?”

“Yes.”

“Why silk?”

“I like silk. It is cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is light and easy to wash and wears for years without tearing. Plus, it is easy to make without having an entire crew of workers or acres of crops. And quite portable. I can make it on the road as I travel.”

“And people buy it?”

“Oh, yes.”

“And you make enough money to live off doing nothing else?” 

“Silk sells for very high prices. I can live quite comfortable on selling only a few bolts a year.”

“Who buys it?”

“Wealthy people, mostly. Also mages.”

“Mages?”

“Yes. It is Thullid silk.”

“Thullid silk? That’s illegal.”

“Is it?”

“It makes things...” she paused and looked around the tent again. “It makes things bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. It’s what this tent is made out of, isn’t it?”

“Yes. I sell purses and bags made out of it to mages.”

“Bags of holding? Those are illegal. You make bags of holding?”

“Yes. I’ve done so for hundreds of years. I invented them.”

“You... you’re the mage who invented bags of holding?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“I am the Sacred Pink Jelly Fish.”

“The Thullid god?”

“Yes.”

“You’re insane.”

“No. Though most people agree with that sentiment.”

“Why only pink?”

“I like pink.”

“But why?”

“I told you. I am the Sacred Pink Jelly Fish. In my natural state, I am a lovely shade of pink, with purple ruffles, and long thin, silvery white venom tipped stinging tentacles. And as I can not live in my natural form on this planet, I dress my host to look as I do in my natural state.”

“Your host?”

“This Elf body.”

“You’re a Thullid.”

“Yes.”

“And you make pink silk.”

“Yes.”

“Isn’t that like a sinful colour?”

“Is it?”

“Well, if you listen to the ministers around here, yeah.”

“I wouldn’t know.” Quaraun shrugged. “I don’t listen to them.”

“A merchant who specializes in pink. That’s kind of weird.”

“There is nothing weird about it at all. I’m a tailor. I weave silk, embroider it, then sew it into items that I sell to merchants and peddlers, so they can, in turn, sell it at markets and bazaars. Nothing weird about it.”

“Is everything really only pink?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I like pink.”

“Ever considered anything other than pink?” 

“No reason to. I miss living in my natural pink jelly body, so I surround myself with pink. There are hundreds of shades of pink, all makable with dyes from plants, petals, roots, mushrooms, and tree bark.”

“I can see that. But, you’re really a merchant?”

“Yes. I sell pink silk.”

“To who? Everyone around here wears black on black.”

“Yes. I had noticed the Humans in this region love their lack of colour. Of course, BoomFuzzy always wore black, now that I think of it and he was from Pepper Valley. Must be a cultural thing for this region. No, I don’t expect to sell many wares around here. No demand for pink or silk in this sea of Bible slinging black cotton.”

“So you can’t sell pink silk in this area and you know you can’t sell silk in this area, but you are a merchant who only sells pink silk and nothing else. Have I got that right?”

“Yes.”

“Than what are you doing in Pepper Valley?”

“You suggest I am here on business? No, no. I am not here to sell pink silk. I am here to resurrect the dead.”

“Resurrect the.. wait.. what?”

“My lover was from Pepper Valley. He talked about it often...”

“He?”

“He. Yes. We are both males.”

“But that’s... that’s...”

“Illegal. Yes. I know.”

“Why do something that is illegal?”

“Why is falling in love illegal at all, would be the better question.”

“Who’s talking about love?”

“I am. I loved BoomFuzzy. I still love him. I will always love him. He’s my soul mate.” 

“Males with males is illegal.”

“Yes. I know. I know that better than anyone. It’s why they castrated me. They said if I was going to let another man fuck me like I was a woman, then they were going to make me a woman. Well, you know what, there’s more to being a man than having a penis. So even without one, I am still a man. A man doesn’t magically become a woman just because Christians cut his dick off.”

“Few people in Pepper Valley wear pink.”

“I’m going to ask again. Why is it that you are in my tent and what do you want?”

“Some men are after me. I shook them off for a bit, but they’ll catch up with me again soon. I... I hoped you knew the area and could help me hide or get to someplace safe... or...”

“Why are the men after you?”

“Souls.”

“Souls? What does that mean?”

“Well, it’s kind of a long story and you probably won’t believe half of it.”

“I like long stories. So sit, pull up a pile of pillows, make yourself comfortable and tell me. Would you like some tea?”

“Tea? How are you going to make tea in a tent?”

Quaraun waved his hand and a steaming hot pot of tea water appeared in his hand. In front of him appeared a low to the floor Chinese tea table dressed in pale rose petal pink silk cloth, set for two, with dainty teacups and saucers, biscuits and crumpets. He placed the teapot on the table, then pulled out his rainbow wand and used it to draw several sigils on the ground around the table. Several piles of even more magenta pillows appeared all around the table.

“Come, sit. I will pour your tea. Do you prefer actual tea leaves, herb tea, or poppy infused tea?”

“I... uhm... tea leaves. Are you a mage?”

“I am.”

“But, I thought, didn’t you say, I thought you said you were a tailor?”

“One can be both."

"Yes. I suppose that is true." 

"Sit. Tell me your story. I so rarely have company. I live alone, you see. Travel the world. It gets very lonely. I’m often weeks with no one to talk to, save for myself. And I’m afraid not dreadfully good company for myself. The conversations I have with myself tend to devolve into depressing thoughts of old age rather quickly. I’m too depressing a person to talk to so I would rather ignore myself and talk with someone else.”

“You’re kind of crazy, aren’t you?”

“Most people say I am insane. I’m really not insane, though. Just dreadfully lonely. I’m always glad for company. Please, sit.”

Quaraun busied himself with serving tea. The woman sat on the pillows and looked around.

“I should have known you were a mage when I first noticed the tent was so much bigger on the inside.”

“Why didn’t you?”

“Don’t know. Wasn’t thinking. Are you a Guild member? I’ve never seen you at any of the meetings.”

“The Guild? Haha! Oh, that IS funny.”

“Funny? How?” 

“You don’t know who I am, do you?”

“Should I?”

“Well, I DO so love pink.”

“Yes, you certainly do.”

Quaraun glanced up at her and smiled, then continued fussing over the teacups. When he finished mixing the drinks, Quaraun handed Ghirardelli her teacup, then took his own and sat down on his fuchsia pillows once again.

“I have not attended a Guild meeting in very many years.”

“So you are a Guild member?”

“Well. I joined The Guild, somewhere around nine hundred years ago, I think.”

“You must be one of its founding members than.”

“Oh no. No. But I knew two of the founders.”

“Really? Which ones?”

“Finderu.”

“And?”

“And uhm... well

 BoomFuzzy.”

“I don’t know that name. You said it before.”

“Yes. BoomFuzzy was from Pepper Valley.”

“Only mage I know of from Pepper Valley was King Gwallmaiic, The Elf Eater. He got kicked out of The Guild for practising necromancy and blood magic and eating the other Guild members whenever he got angry with them. He was psychotic and dangerous.”

“Yes. He did, and he was.”

“You knew The Elf Eater?”

“Yes.”

“You poor thing.”

“How so?”

“Well, you’re an Elf. He murdered Elves and ate them. That’s why people called him The Elf Eater.”

“True that.” 

“You should come to the next Guild meeting with me. Some of the old non-Human members are from The Elf Eater’s time. They remember him. You must know them. It’d be good to see old friends, wouldn’t it?”

“I’m, ah, how shall we say it? Not well liked by most of the currently active Guild members these days. Finderu and I had a bit of a falling out and well, eh, you know how it is.”

“You had a falling out? Over what?”

“He didn’t like my lover.”

“The Guild doesn’t tell you who you can and can not love.”

“Oh, they did in my case. My lover was particularly hated by Finderu and, well, just about everyone else on the planet. I’m surprised you haven’t figured out who I am yet.”

“Should I know who you are?”

“I’m a purveyor pink silk. Few of us around. In fact, I’m the only one.”

“What’s that got to do with The Guild? Plenty of mages are also merchants.”

“Yes, but I’m the only mage who sells pink silk.”

“Are you practising magic illegally?”

“Well, I suppose that would depend on what you consider the legality of practising magic is now, wouldn’t it?”

“The law states you have to be a member of The Guild of Wizardry, and have all the necessary papers and permits on you at all times.”

“Well, I DO have papers on me. Not sure they are the ones you’d expect them to be.”

“Can I see them?”

“Perhaps. Maybe later. For now, tell me your story. You said you had men chasing you, so you ran in here and woke me up, out of my nice restful beauty sleep...”

“I thought Elves didn’t sleep. Don’t you like just sit around and meditate or something? Go weeks, months, years without needing to sleep?”

“Elves with a hive mind, yes. The hive mind makes sleep rather difficult, nearly impossible. Especially when one’s brain is jelly.”

“Jelly?”

“Yes. Speaking of jelly... jelly?”

A pot of grape jelly appeared in front of her.

“Grape is not pink, of course, but it is so hard to get good pink jelly these days, now that BoomFuzzy is dead. He made the best jams and jellies and jelly beans...”

“Uhm. Thank you. What do you mean by that, what you said earlier, Elves with a hive mind? Aren’t all Elves part of that hive mind thing they do?”

“Usually.”

“Are you saying that you’re not part of the Elven hive mind?”

“No. I’m not.”

“Are you an outcast Elf?”

“I am.”

“What did you do?”

“Why do you think I did something?”

“I’ve always heard that Elves only cast criminals out of their hive mind. Are you a criminal?”

Quaraun took to spreading jelly on a slice of anise biscotti.

“I am the tailor who is serving you your tea and jelly with crumpets and patiently waiting to hear the rest of your story.”

Quaraun handed the woman the fragrant, crunchy jelly coated cookie, then jellied another for himself.

“Quite patiently waiting, I might add, after you so rudely disturbed my sleep.” Quaraun said in between bites of biscotti. “Waiting ever so patiently, trying not to envision ramming my wand through your eye while you interrogate me. Interrogating me ever so rudely after the equally rude awakening you gave me, dragging me out of my bed. You ask so much of me and yet I know so precious little of you? Now I ask you, is that fair? Why should I tell you anything about me, when it is you who invades my privacy and offers nothing of yourself?”

“No. You’re right. This is your campsite, and I barged in uninvited and disturbed your peace. That was rude of me. I should go.”

Ghirardelli got up to leave.

“No. I did not say you had to leave. Sit and tell me why the men are chasing you, dear, sweet, Ghirardelli, Swamp Hag of The Godforsaken City. Let’s see if perhaps I can’t help.”

“I told you my name. Can you at least not do the same?”

“Why should I?”

“You know who I am. How come I don’t at least get to know who you are?”

“All in good time. The men? Why are they chasing you?”

“Okay, so, here’s the deal: I got this legendary evil sword.”

“Evil sword? How can a sword be evil?”

“It just is, okay? It is said to require souls to keep placated, otherwise it goes berserk and starts killing people.”

“A soul eater? Those are rare.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“How did you come by it?”

“I... I just did. Okay. It doesn’t matter how I got it. Alright?”

“My, my defensive are we. So we can assume you obtained it illegally? All right. Continue on then.”

“So, at first I’m thinking I got gypped...”

“Gypped?”

“Yeah, it means scammed and ripped off by Gypsies.”

“I know what it means. Do you have any idea how offensive it is?”

“What do you care? It’s just fucking Gypsies.”

“I AM fucking Gypsies. You are making a slur against MY people and I find it highly offensive.”

“You’re a Gypsy? I thought you were an Elf.”

“I am a Gypsy.”

“Your skin is way too white for you to be a Gypsy. No Gypsy is as pale as you.”

“I am albino. Did you not notice my pink pupils? Or my white hair.”

“Is that why you wear that?” Ghirardelli reached out and brushed her fingers along the edge of the Elf’s pink silk sari. “This is not like any Elf fashion I’ve ever heard of before.”

“Yes. I lived with the Di’Jinn.”

“The Di’Jinn? In Persia?”

“The Di’Jinn. In Persia. Yes. They raised me.”

“You’re a long way from Persia, aren’t you? What are you doing in Maine?”

“I was born in Ivujivik.”

“Ivujivik? Where’s that?”

“In Quebec, not far north from here.”

“Your a French Canadian Elf, but you lived with the Di’Jinn in Persia?”

“Yes. I was born in Quebec. But I was not raised by Elves. I grew up in Persia. In a Gypsy caravan. We raised horses and travelled across the desert to sell them in city markets. They adopted me as one of them, though I was born an Elf. My biological family abandoned me when I was just 9 years old. The Di’Jinn adopted me. Thus, how it is that an Elf came to be a Gypsy. When I was young. I was sick. I lived in the Deep North, where the snow always falls and summer never comes. My father murdered my mother and then he was going to murder me. His older brother had a friend, ZooLock, a Di’Jinn priest who was staying with him at the time.”

“ZooLock?”

“ZooLock.”

“Not ZooLock the Great?”

“Yes. ZooLock the Great.”

“You’re friends with ZooLock the Great?”

“Not exactly. I wouldn’t call us friends. We know each other. But we aren’t friends. I never said ZooLock was my friend. He was my uncle’s friend.”

“Yes. That is what you said, isn’t it?”

“He gave me to ZooLock, told him to take me with him, raise me as his own child. And he did. Thus, an Elf came to be adopted by the Di’Jinn. The Gypsies are my family. Not the Elves. I was happy with the Di’Jinn. I felt more at home with them, then I did my own people.”

“My understanding of the Di’Jinn is that they is an evil people. A nomadic band of criminal magic users. The Guild wouldn’t even allow them to be members.”

“That is an urban myth. Gypsies are not criminals. They are good people. They live in tents and wear bright colours, have big families. And that scares settled people.”

“I suppose I can relate. Whole reason I live in the swamps is because people in the town folk around here fear witches and they think I’m a witch.” 

“Yes. Never trust settled people. I certainly don’t. Settled people make up rumours. Spread lies. That doesn’t mean those rumours are true.”

“Do settled people spread rumours about you?”

“Yes. They do. I live in a pink tent, travelling on foot from town to town, selling pink silk and wearing pink silk. It terrifies people. But now we are talking about me again. You keep doing that. Changing the subject to me. Are you a spy? Here to find out information about me? I’ve seen no men chase you yet. I’ve only your word on that part, now don’t I?”

“I’m sorry. You’re right. I shouldn’t pry.”

“You’re a Guild member. That means you know Finderu. It’s to my advantage to not eat you.”

“Eat me? Wait? What? Why would you eat me?”

“I am The Sacred Pink JellyFish. Brains are my primary diet. And it rarely that brains of their own free will willingly stroll into my lair.”

“Lair? This isn’t a lair, it’s a tent.”

“I like my privacy.”

“You’re kind of crazy, aren’t you?”

“You don’t know who I am, do you?”

“Should I?”

“Everything IS pink.”

“Yes. You’re not joking when you say you like pink.”

“Nor am I joking when I say I don’t like Humans and their brains are my primary diet.”

“You eat Human brains.”

“Yes.”

“You expect me to believe that?”

“It’s YOUR ad copy.”

“My... what?”

“Waited dead or alive, preferably dead. Wanted for Necromancy, Demonology, Sorcery, Black Magic, murder, rape, buggery, sodomy, cross-dressing, bathing more than twice a year, eating Human brains... you don’t remember writing that about me? Printing it up on ten thousand wanted posters and then nailing it on every tree, fence post, store, and mailbox for a 14 mile radius all around The Great Portland Area of Saco Bay, even right here on York Hill, and all over the front of Pepper Valley’s Pepperell Mill? On the bulletin board in the bakery. Hmmm? Forgot you did that?” 

“I do that with many people. We ARE Justice Mages. It is our JOB to hunt criminals. And keep tabs on everything they do. I drive all over Maine to watch them, for weeks before they get arrested.”

“Yes. I know. I AM aware WHO you are. You’re a vile little bitch who makes an art out of being a nosy busybody. A slimy sneaky salamander you are.”

“I.. but, I don’t recognize you as a criminal we are looking for.”

“Really? Maybe you should get a better artist to draw my picture on your wanted posters than.”

“I’m sorry, I don’t... none of the criminals we are looking for are said to look anything like YOU.”

“Yes. Your wanted posters did lack a few details, like the fact that I always, ever, and only wear pink, or my Rapunzel hair. Even if you didn’t know me by my face, you SHOULD have known me the second you saw a pink silk tent. Most of the world knows me by my pink silk, and The Guild is so incompetent that they can’t even get that one simply, alarmingly identifiable fact about me straight. Or my hair. There is no mention of my hair in any of your wanted posters. Not one. You’d think some who supposedly knows me ooooooh soooooo well, that they can be a lying assed busy body gossip writing about my so-called sex life on a public wanted poster, that they should also know enough about me to know I ONLY wear pink and have twelve foot long hair.”

“Is your hair really that long?”

“Yes.”

“You’re sitting down on the floor. I can’t see how long your hair is.”

“Hmmmm.” Quaraun reached for the cane that was laying beside his make-shift bed of furs and used it to stand up. For the first time since, Ghirardelli had entered the tent.

The tiny, little old Elf was only five feet six inches tall, only coming up to Ghirardelli’s shoulder. But his hair cascaded down around him, over his shoulders, down his back, in front of him, behind him, spilling onto the surrounding floor, and flowing in heaping piles everywhere.

It was impossible to see how long his hair was, but with the way it piled around his feet and scattered along the floor, it was safe to say that twelve feet was a good guess.

“Good god! Your hair really is twelve feet long!”

“Yes. I told you. I never lie.”

“How do you walk?”

“With great difficulty.” Quaraun promptly sat back down, going down slowly and carefully so as not to cause further pain to his already hurting hip. “Also, I can’t stand very long. My hair is too heavy. My hair weighs more than my body does. It’s very difficult for me to move unless I’ve someone to walk with me and carry my hair.”

“Why don’t you just cut it?”

“You REALLY don’t know who I am, do you?”

“What difference does that make with your hair?”

“An enormous difference. Mages get their power from their hair. And I’m the world’s most powerful wizard for a reason: I’m the wizard with the longest hair.”

“You know I never thought of that. Makes sense. Mages do all claim the longer their hair is the more powerful they are. Something about their hair attracting magic energy force fields of something. But yeah, if that was true, then the world’s most powerful wizard would diffidently be the wizard with the longest hair.”

“Yes. Wizard with the longest hair. And also with the shortest tolerance.”

“Tolerance? Of what?”

“You.”

“Why?”

“You are a Human. I hate Humans. That is a well established fact.”

“But you’re an Elf.”

“Exactly.”

“Do Elves not like Humans?”

“Elves do not like people who use their gods as an excuse to murder. You Humans think it is perfectly fine to murder everyone who does not believe in your god. Yet, if one of us, kills you, because our god said to, then that is double reason to murder us. But we Elves are peaceful. We have no culture of weapons or war. So when you Humans invaded our homes, raped our women, slaughtered our children, we had no way to defend ourselves and no hope of survival. And when we took the weapons, you left behind and tried to fight back, tried to rescue our women and children, you accused us of being the invaders! It was you who invaded us. We merely tried to get our wives and children back after you kidnapped them.”

“So you don’t like Humans, then?”

“I am the last Elf. You murdered my people. All of us. Every last one.”

“Except for you.”

“Except for me.”

“How’d’you survive?” Ghirardelli asked. “Is it not odd that one Elf should be left alive? How did you manage that?”

“I was outcast.”

“Outcast? You mean, like shunned or something?”

“Like shunned or something, yes. Exactly that.”

“So, how did being outcast help you survive?”

“I was banished. Cast out. Cut off from the hive mind. Abandoned. Unloved. Unwanted. Left to wander the world. Alone in my head, like you Humans. No comfort from the Hive Mind. No more part of the community. So I wasn’t there when you Humans arrived. I was travelling the world of Men, selling silk to Humans, sleeping in Human taverns, often with Haman women as my only source of comfort and warmth.”

“Human women?”

“Yes.”

“I thought you hated Humans?”

“I do.”

“But you sleep with Human women?”

“Often. Yes. Quite often.”

“At taverns?”

“Yes.”

“Do you mean, like, prostitutes?”

“Yes. I mean prostitutes.” 

“I wasn’t expecting that. Not from you.”

“Do you have problems with that?”

“Uhm. No. But I thought you were... aren’t you castrated?”

“I am. I said I slept with them, not fucked them.”

“You sleep with prostitutes but you don’t have sex with them?”

“Castrated, does mean sex is not possible for me.”

“But I thought you liked men?”

“What gave you that idea?”

“Didn’t you just say a little while ago, that your lover was a male? Isn’t that WHY you were castrated? You said that. I heard you.”

“I did say that. Yes. My lover was a male. I also had a wife and fathered four children with her. And I’ve always visited prostitutes.”

“So you like men and women, both?”

“I like anyone who is kind to me. I don’t care what gender they are.”

“Oh.”

“Or what species. Or race. Those things don’t matter to me. I’m more interested in a person’s mind than I am their body. And I get lonely. And there not an abundance of people willing t be friends with a foreigner, a none-American, a non-Christian, or a non-Human. Humans are rather bigoted about petty things like religion, gender, nationality, culture, and skin colour. Prostitutes aren’t. Prostitute are desperate for money and willing to spend time with me, for a price.”

“So you buy friendship?”

“Yes. I pay people to sit and talk with me, because I am unloved and unwanted and no one would ever talk tome otherwise. That and a warm body to hold while I sleep. I don’t like sleeping alone.”

“You’re very lonely, then, aren’t you?”

“I am.”

“Can I touch it?”

“What?”

“Your hair.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“I don’t like my hair to be touched by strangers and people I do not trust to not hurt me.”

“Hurt you? What do you mean?”

“It is very painful for someone to pull on my hair.”

“That’s because it is so long. If you cut it, than it wouldn’t pull...”

“I would bleed to death if you cut it.”

“Hair doesn’t bleed...”

“Mine does.”

“That’s not possible.”

“It is. My father cut my hair short once. It bled for days. I was anemic for months. It took over a year for the sliced off ends to fully heal, and nearly twenty years for my hair to grow back. It was incredibly painful the whole time. The wounds on the ends of my hairs are still scarred. The scars on the ends are very sensitive to touch. The nerve damage never fully healed.”

Quaraun gently pulled up a handful of hair and ran his armoured fingers across the scarred ends. The hair withered, wriggling away from his touch. Moving as though it were alive.

“Nerves? In your hair? Scars on... but... you can’t have wounds on your... you hair... Hair... doesn’t... hair doesn’t bleed...” Ghirardelli stopped talking and watched Quaraun’s hair as it moved. Slithering around him, like a massive pile of thousands of tiny, wiry snakes. She moved closer to get a better look at Quaraun’s strange hair. “It’s not hair, is it? It’s... it’s... is it tentacles?”

“Yes. I told you, I am a JellyFish. My body is pink and covered with lovely purple ruffles, and my tentacles are long and white and look like hair. I already said this.”

“You hair isn’t hair.”

“No.”

“That’s... I don’t know what it is. That’s why you never cut it? It’s actually part of your body.”

“Yes.”

“They move on their own. How much control do you have over them? Can you move them at will, like arms and legs?”

“I can. I can use them like hairs to grab things and pick things up, or to reach up in the tops of tall trees and pick apples without a ladder. I could climb with them if I wasn’t scared of heights. I can walk on them like feet should the Elf’s feet get tired.”

As Quaraun said this, he suddenly lifted himself up off the ground, and by all appearances looked to be gliding, levitating, several feet in the air, his feet not touching the ground. It looked as though he was flying, unsupported by anything, but upon closer examination, Ghirardelli saw that the hair nearest the ground had grown stiff, rigid, and was lifting his body up into the air.

“You can walk on your tentacles and fly over people that way.”

“Yes. But that would terrify Humans. They would call me a witch and crush me under rocks or drown me with chains tied to my feet. You know how Humans are when they think there are witches about.”

Quaraun glided back to the ground, and gently sat himself back down on the pillows. His hair slithered around, coming to rest snuggled around his body as if protecting him and keeping him warm.

“You really are a jellyfish.”

“Yes. I live inside the Elf’s skull after I ate his brain. I let my tentacles grow out of his head like hair.”

“Aren’t they heavy? I mean, tentacles must be even heavier than hair, and hair that long is pretty damned heavy. That many of them, that long, they must be heavier than the whole rest of your body.”

“They are.”

“How do you walk?”

“I manage. My body was made for swimming. Not walk. But this ocean, your water, this planet it is toxic for me. I could not swim in it. And I die out of water. S, I live in this Elf and get by the best that I can.”

Quaraun got up and moved to the altar, which Ghirardelli only just now noticed. She was certain it had not been there a few moments ago. The altar was small, rough hewn wood. A low table that one must kneel before to reach. Nothing fancy or ornate. It did not match the rest of Quaraun’s furnishings which were elaborate. The altar had a prayer cloth covering it. On the cloth was a random mix of candles, religious statues, and scriptures.

Before Ghirardelli had a chance to ask what the altar was for, Quaraun knelt on a prayer rug before it and appeared to be praying, though Ghirardelli was uncertain in what language the Elf spoke. When Quaraun finished speaking, he did not get up, but rather continued to sit in front of the altar.

“Are you religious?” Ghirardelli asked.

“I am a priest,” Quaraun answered. “That fact alone should speak for itself.”

Ghirardelli looked around at the items on the altar. A book of Psalms open on the altar, and beside it a Jewish menorah candle holder. Beside it sat a statue of the Hindu god Ganesha. Statues of Jesus, Mary, Krishna, and Siva also stood on the table. Next to these lay a tear drop shaped amethyst of a swirly lavender purple with paler and darker areas. 

“What religion are you?”

“I am a priest of the Di’Jinn Order.”

“Yes. You said that before. But what I mean is, are you Christian or something else?”

“Does it matter?” 

“I ask because you have Catholic icon statues, but I see Jewish and Hindu statues as well. And a Bible. And a Q’raun.”

“I reverence and respect all religions, even Human religions, even ones I do not agree with.”

On Quaraun’s wrist was an evil eye glass bead bracelet tied with purple flocked ribbon. He fiddled with it, seemingly counting the beads as he did. It was now that Ghirardelli noticed the gold armour plates on the Elf’s fingers. 

Ghirardelli had noticed earlier that Quaraun seemed to have trouble gripping the tea pot and the tea cup, holding one hand below them, as though his fingers could not grip the handle well and he feared dropping them. But she could see now why this was so. 

The heavy metal plates, completely encased his fingers. Each hinged at the knuckles allowing him to bend his fingers ever so slightly. Ending in long claw like points over his finger tips. Gemstones in the shape of small pink hearts encrusted the elaborately detailed gold armour finger plates. 

They stood out to Ghirardelli now, as she was now standing over the old Elf, looking down at him, watching as he ran his fingers over each blue glass evil eye bead on his wrist. 

Quaraun was having great difficulty moving his fingers over the beads, because the heavy metal armour on his fingers drastically limited his movements.

“Why do you know remove those?” Ghirardelli asked.

“Remove what?” Quaraun looked up at the Human, wondering what she was referring to.

“The armour on your hands. It seems to hamper your ability to put things up.”

“I can not use my hands at all, without them.”

“What do you mean?”

“The day I was castrated. They crushed my fingers in the grinding wheel of a mill stone, after they ripped out my fingernails. My hands are damaged, almost to complete immobility. The armour helps brace my fingers so that I can use them. Without the armour I can not use my hands at all.”

“You’re crippled?”

“In more ways than one, yes. They drove a sword through my hip and another through my knee, that same day. I’ve had a lame leg ever since. I can not run, or even walk at a brisk pace. Thus the cane. I was not yet an adult when it happened. I was still an adolescent, when they did these things to me. I was 75 years old, which, in terms of Human years would have me, equivalent to 14 of your Human years. I’ve been crippled my whole life.”

“So, you were still a child when you were castrated?”

"Yes."

"You were a child when they castrated you for having a male lover?"

"Yes."

"But... wasn't... I thought... you were a child? Really? I thought? Every one said..."

"My lover was an old man, with a habit for sexually abusing little boys. I was a naive child. Unaware than of what he was doing. Unaware still, when I was punished along side him. People accused me of being one of loves male and I was the victim of a rapist, a child abuser, and rather than rescue me from him, they deiced to punish him, by mutilating his favourite victim. Me."

"I didn't know."

"Not many do. Not because they didn't hear of it, but rather, because they would rather turn a blind eye to the truth. The whole town was there. The whole town joined in. Every person took turned torturing me." 

"That's monstrous."

"It is easier for them to accuse me of sin, than to open their eyes and accept the truth, that they are child abusers as well. They can not face that they punished his victim to hurt him, rather than rescue me from him. But that is the way it always is. Blame the rape victim, not the rapist."

"I'm sorry."

"Do you know the irony of it all?"

"No."

"I did not love him. Before."

"Before? Before what?" 

"Before what they did to me. I was too young to understand what he was doing to me. I was confused. Had the Hanging Tree not happened, I think I would have grown to hate him. Despise him even. Looking back now, I can see he was a sexual predator, who preyed on young boys. But as a child, I did not see, did not understand. But after the Hanging Tree, that is a different matter."

"Why was it different after?" 

“They left me in the streets to die."

"Who did?" 

"My friends. My family. My neighbours. I was a child, castrated, bones broken, flesh ripped off, body mutilated. They left me to die."

"I'm so sorry."

"They abandoned me. But BoomFuzzy did not. They left me to die, and he came and found me and took me away."

"The man who sexually abused you?" 

"Yes. He tended my wounds, mended my broken bones. They broke my fingers so badly I can not use them. BoomFuzzy made these gold armour plates so I could my hands again."

"Those are actually useful?

"Yes. I can not use my hands without them. They hold my fingers stiff and bend, so that I can pick things up. My hands are dead. My hands do not work otherwise. BoomFuzzy made these for me, so I could use my hands again." 

"They aren't just decorations?"

"No."

"I thought they were jewellery." 

"He knew that what they did to me, they had done, because of him and he felt terrible about it. He never sexually hurt me again. He didn’t dare to. He was terrified if he ever touched me again, the town would do worse to me. He knew they were hell bent on believing I was demon possessed, hell bent on attacking the odd child, the not normal child, for any reason, any excuse.”

“Odd child? Were you seen as odd before BoomFuzzy?”

“I was. The village idiot, the boy who didn’t have enough brains to think. They called me a changeling. Said I was a Faerie in disguise. The Hanging Tree was not the first time they had done things like that too me. It was just the most violent one they did. I almost died. He feared they would kill me, that they would use his sexual indiscretions towards a mentally disabled child as an excuse to hurt me again. Had they REALLY wanted him to stop, they would have gone after him, not his victims. Or they would have gone after ALL of his victims.”

“Where there others?”

“There were many. For a lot of years. In a lot of places. I bragged about it. He was a sexual deviant.”

“You say that like you hate him.”

“On some levels, I do. I hate what he did to me when I was a child.”

“And yet, you say you love him, now?”

“Yes. I do. It is confusing, how I feel.” 

“And you were the only one hung in the tree and publicly tortured?”

“Yes.”

“Why you and not anyone else?”

“Because my father led the charge. My father didn’t care what BoomFuzzy had done to me. My father had murdered my mother, and I saw him do it and he knew I saw him do it. So he was ready to jump on any excuse to get rid of me. Kill me too. He wanted me dead. What they did to me, they did because he dragged me into the street and told them lies about me. Told them what he knew would enrage them. He fired them into a fury, so they would attack me, the rape victim, and not BoomFuzzy, the rapist. That’s why only me, and not the other boys nor our attacker.”

“So, this whole thing was about your father covering his own ass.”

“Yes. There were many. But they singled out me, because I wasn’t smart enough to learn an education. I didn’t have enough brains for math or science. They lived in a so-called perfect society and I was imperfect and could not tolerate the existence of imperfection. My father said all the things they WANTED to hear, and they attacked me, because I’m the one my father threw into the crowd once they were ready to tear apart the first person they saw. He had them so fired up, they would have attacked anyone he threw at them. And BoomFuzzy saw what they did, he heard what my father said. He knew that none of this was about him, that all of this was about my father wanting to get rid of the last witness to his murdering my mother. So, he knew, if I lived, my father would do it again. Worse than before. BoomFuzzy became scared for my life, scared of how easy it would be to trigger my father into stirring up yet another mob. So, BoomFuzzy took care of me. Became my friend. My protector. That was how the man who sexually abused me when I was a child, went on to become my best friend, when I was an adult. He actually did care about me. No one else did.”

“I’m sorry. I... I don’t know what to say.”

“There is nothing to say. No one cared about me then. No one cared about me since. No one cares about me now. I am accused of things I did not do, because I was a child who was the victim of a sexual predator. For that, people make up rumours and gossip and lies about me, which they spread through every town, every state, everywhere I go, the rumours have been there first. I am accused of things I did not do. Judged unfairly, falsely accused, harassed, cast out, chased out, welcomed no where, forced to live my life forever alone, all because Humans are so quick to hate based on rumours instead of listening to truth, facts, and reason.”

“I’m sorry.”

“People who are truly sorry, stop doing the things they are sorry for. But people like you, say they are sorry and don’t mean it, because soon as my back is turned, outcome even more rumours and lies spread by their busy body tongues. If they were truly sorry, they’d stop doing it. It is far too easy to speak the words ‘I’m sorry’ and far too difficult to actually mean it and act upon those words.”

Quaraun used his cane to pull himself back up. 

His movements were stiff and jerky.

His hip pained him greatly and moving was difficult. 

The crippled Elf limped back to his pile of pillows once again, and slowly inched his way back down on to them, once again wrapping himself up in the fluffy, soft, orange and grey fox furs.

“Come,” Quaraun motioned his hand towards the furs. “Sit. Talk with me."

“About what?”

“Tell me about your evil sword. Do you know how to feed it souls?”

“Well, that’s the thing. I had it for weeks and it did nothing and I thought maybe I got scammed. One night I hear a voice whisper ‘feed me’ and a shadow comes out of the sword. Well, I didn’t know how to feed it souls, so I decide to see what happens if you feed it something other than a soul.”

“What did you feed it?”

“Anything I could find. Bread, Butter. Jelly.”

“Jelly?” Quaraun looked up from lighting his pink glass encased votive candles. “You fed it jelly?”

“Yes, jelly. Is something wrong with that.”

“I like jelly.”

“What?”

“Continue. What else did you feed it.”

“Also, corn. Carrots. Potatoes. Green beans. Blueberries.”

“All things native to America.”

“Yes.”

“And did it eat them?”

“It did. At least I think it did.”

“You don’t know?” 

“The food would vanish.”

“That doesn’t mean it ate it. I can make food vanish too. One wave of the wand and POOF! Gone forever.”

“That’s dark magic.”

“It is. But isn’t owning a soul eating sword, also illegal dark magic?”

“Yes. That’s why I bought it.”

“You trying to get on Finderu’s bad side?”

“No. I was going to give the blade to Finderu, next Guild meeting.” 

“Why would you do that? If I know Finderu, he’ll charge you with necromancy and have you executed.”

“No. Finderu has asked Guild members to deliver to him any cursed blade we can recover.”

“Ah. So our dear Finderu has taken to collecting cursed swords, has he?”

“No. Finderu has set out a search for The Elf Eater’s cursed obsidian dagger.”

“Ah!” Quaraun pulled a curved obsidian bladed dagger from his belt. The hilt dripped with several teardrop shaped pigeon blood star rubies. “You mean this?”

“Is that...” Ghirardelli stammered.

“It is.”

“How did you get it?”

“You don’t know?”

“No. Should I?”

“Well, I am a mage who is likewise a merchant of pink silk. World’s most powerful wizard. World’s longest hair. It should be rather obvious how I happened to acquire the obsidian dagger of The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, now shouldn’t it?”

“Should it?”

“Enough about me. Tell me about your sword. What was Finderu going to do with it once you presented it to him?”

“I’m going to have him remove the curse, of course.”

“You assume he can?”

“He’s a powerful sorcerer.”

Quaraun scoffed.

“You think he’s not?”

“Honey. I have more power in my little finger than Finderu will ever have in his entire lifetime.”

“You really think you’re that powerful?”

“I don’t think it. I know it. Look at my hair. But that’s beside the point. Tell me about the food that vanished.”

“I don’t know where it went.”

“You are not very good at being a witch are you?”

“What?”

“A mage who knows enough about magic to become a member of Finderu’s Guild, SHOULD, be competent enough, proficient enough, skilled enough, to figure out where things go when a magic sword makes them disappear.”

“Are you calling me incompetent?” Ghirardelli asked.

“Yes. I am.”

“I’ll have you know I’m one of The Guild’s best mages!”

“Indeed? Well then, times have changed. If you are the best The Guild has to offer, perhaps I should pay The Guild a visit, one meeting soon. Rid the world of every last one of you, all at once.”

“Rid the world us? Are you a mage hunter?”

“No. I’m a wizard of The Di’Jinn Order who sells pink silk and has the world’s longest hair. You don’t get the joke.”

“That was a joke?”

“Some would find it funny. Finish telling me about your sword.”

“Anyway, the sword seemed satisfied with the regular food instead of souls. So, I have this sword for a few months, while I’m researching the history of it. Supposedly it belonged to a serial killer, who was a knife salesman, so nobody suspected that he was a serial killer for a really long time. And the knife salesman somehow got his soul messed up, sold it to a Necromancer or some such evil wizard and he ended up with his soul trapped inside of his own sword and the mage used the weapon to draw souls out of the living.”

“Ah, well, then, perhaps you are in just the right tent, after all.”

“What do you mean?”

“Souls are my specialty.”

“Souls?”

“Souls and necromancy. Necromancy and souls.”

“I thought pink silk was your specialty?”

“Yes. That too. Which would be why I am known as The Pink Necromancer.”

“The Pink Nec... Wait. No. You’re The Pink... No. You can’t be.”

“Oh, but I am. No one loves pink more than I. And no one knows necromancy better than me. And no one has a glorious head of hair like mine. Not even women possess hair as long as mine. I’m the world’s most powerful wizard.”

“Wait. You’re... my god! You’re Quaraun the Insane? The serial killer!”

“I am NOT insane.” 

“Isn’t that your name? Quaraun the Insane? That’s what everyone calls you.”

“Everyone likes to spreads rumours and lies and gossip. I don’t like that title. My name is Quaraun Swanzen. And I DID tell you I was the world’s most powerful wizard. Look at my hair. And everything is pink. With hair like mine, did you really think I was anyone other than The Pink Necromancer, world’s most powerful mage? How may I help you?”

“Wait. I just realized something.”

“You should have realized a great number of some things by this point,” the bad tempered little Elf chided her. “Considering you are the one who puts up my wanted posters in these parts. Anyone else didn’t recognize me. I wouldn’t have thought anything of it. But you?”

“Me?”

“Yes. You.”

“Why me?” 

“You are supposedly one of the justice mages hunting me, and here you are finding me, asleep and defenceless no less, and you don’t even have sufficient sense to recognize me, even though you know well that The Pink Necromancer is also a merchant of pink silk, which he wears. You had a right winning chance to kill me in my sleep, and instead you woke me up.”

“You are wanted dead or alive. Preferably dead. I SHOULD kill you.” 

“I am the world’s most powerful wizard. Try to kill me now that I’m awake and I’ll just evaporate you into a pile of ashes.”

“Can you do that?” Ghirardelli asked.

“Yes,” the old Elf answered. “I do it regularly, to dumb asses like yourself who annoy me too much.”

“That’s not possible. Magic doesn’t do stuff like that. That’s only fairy tales.”

“And you are supposed to be the best The Guild offers these days? Ugh.” 

“Mages can’t do stuff like that.”

“No?”

“No!”

“What exactly is it mages DO, do, hmm?”

“They make healing salves and anointing oils and burn votive candles to petition intercessory prayers and mix up sachet powders and bath crystals for spiritual cleansing and...”

“Bah! Mages these days!” Quaraun waved his hands in a motion showing utter disgust. “You are all nothing but quacks and hacks. Hacks and quacks, every one of you. You don’t know a thing about real magic.” 

“That IS real magic!”

“It’s folk magic. Granny magic. Swamp magic. And it’s NOT magic. It’s called medicine and science and herbal remedies. That’s apothecary. Green witchery. It’s NOT magic.”

“Are you saying that what we do isn’t magic?”

“I just said as much, yes.”

“It takes years to learn...”

“I KNOW it takes years to learn Hoodoo. I practice Hoodoo and I’m damned good at it too. But that’s NOT magic. That’s not snapping your fingers and POOF making things appear out of thin air.”

As he said this, Quaraun tapped his gold plated fingertips on the table and a plate full of pastries appeared.

“THIS, my dear, is magic,” Quaraun said pointing to the plate of glistening, honey coated confectionery. “What you are talking about is backwoods low country magic. Hoodoo. And while, yes, you NEED to learn it in order to learn the basics, it is not in and of itself magic. It is folk medicine. Learning it will help condition you for more advanced levels of learning. It takes great discipline to learn and master HooDoo RootWork, and yes, it’s very valuable to learn. Every mage SHOULD learn it, but you shouldn’t stop there. That’s just the beginning, entry level stuff. You’ve not even uncovered the tip of the iceberg if all you know how to do is Hoodoo.”

“How did you do that?” Ghirardelli stared bug eyed, gawking at the plate of food, Quaraun had made appear out of thin air.

“I harness the energy around me and change it’s construction. Right now we are surrounded by air to breath. I simply focus on that air, change it’s molecular structure to whatever I want it to become. And right now I was hungry for pink strawberry frosted, honey glazed doughnuts, and now here they are.”

“That’s not possible.”

“Oh, but I assure you it is. I just did it and you just saw me.”

“No. It’s got to be a trick. Smoke and mirrors.”

“Did you see any smoke? Or mirrors?”

“That’s Dark Magic.”

“No, Ghirardelli, it’s not. It’s just manipulating atoms.”

“Manipulating what?”

“Atoms... I don’t think you know about them yet.”

“What do you mean yet?”

“Never mind that. The fact remains, what you Guild members do, it petty entry level stuff at best. Which is fine and dandy if that’s all you want to do, but you can’t parade around calling yourselves the best mages on the planet, when what you do isn’t even remotely magical at all.”

“What you do, involves summoning Demons, consorting with Familiars, and performing blood sacrifices.”

“Yes.”

“That’s evil. It’s...”

“It’s REAL magic. NOT grinding up roots and herbs and curing a child’s fever with tea. Anyone with basic knowledge of plants can do that. Only mages can wield ACTUAL magic.”

“You’re evil.”

“You wouldn’t know real magic if it came up and bit you in the ass.”

“I’ll have you know...”

“You’ll have me know nothing,” the annoyed little Moon Elf said in a huff, not letting the woman finish what she was going to say to him. “You’re an idiot. Part of a group of bounty hunters, looking for a necromancer who wears pink, lives in a pink tent, and is a merchant of pink silk, and you don’t recognize me, my dresses, my tent, or my pink silk when I’m sitting here staring you in the face. That tells me you are stupid. But tell me what exactly it is you think you have realized? Hmmm?”

“I realized this is Pepper Valley. Home of The Elf Eater. You’re the Elf Eater’s lover. He had male lovers. You just told me you had a male lover who was from Pepper Valley.”

“Yes. I did. I said exactly that, and while sitting here dripping in pink, too.”

“His lover was an Elf,” Ghirardelli said, her voice now trembling with fear, as the realization of whose tent she was in settled in to her mind. “Just like you.”

“Yes, exactly like me.”

“He was soul bound to a Moon Elf. That’s you!”

“It is.” The albino Moon Elf nodded in agreement. “I used to be just the Last Moon Elf, now I’m the Last Elf.”

“You’re Quaraun the Insane!”

“We can teach you. How lovely. Would you like more tea?”

“Tea? No, I can’t think of tea at a time like this.”

“Ah, well, you have your minor revelation over there and I’ll pour myself some more tea than.”

Quaraun waved his wand and a vase full of fragrant sweet smelling purple lavender. 

“That’s not tea,” Ghirardelli stated, pointing out the obvious.

“No, that’s delightful blooms of colour to brighten the mood.”

Quaraun set about to pour himself more tea. The water in the tea pot was no longer hot, so the old mage gathered up a kettle of boiling water from the fire and refilled the teapot, before returning to the table. 

“Are you certain you want no tea?” He called back to Ghirardelli without looking up from his work.

“How can you think of tea, at a time like this?”

“A time like what?” Quaraun asked as he settled back down into his pink silk pillows and orange fox furs once again.

“You’re Quaraun the Insane.”

“Yes,” Quaraun answered, not looking at her, instead focused on pouring himself more opium tea from his pink china set.

“That’s why everything is pink.”

“Yes. It is.”

“You’re The Pink Necromancer.”

“That’s me.”

“The Elf Eater’s lover.”

“Yes. He’s dead now. Killed himself. Driven to suicide by your little group and their anti mage laws.”

“We didn’t cause his death...”

“You did. And one by one, each and every one of you will all die for it.”

“Why?”

“Karma. It comes back to punch you in the ass. For seven generations.”

“You’re the one who’s been murdering all the Guild members, aren’t you?”

“I am. Though I murder no one. I execute murderers who evade the law by lawmaking that favour themselves and cause real criminals to walk free while the victims take the blame for the crimes of their attackers. And I’ll execute you and Finderu as well. You are both high on my list of people in critical need of being executed.”

“Executed? For what?”

“For BoomFuzzy’s death.”

“BoomFuzzy?”

“Yes. BoomFuzzy.” 

“Who’s BoomFuzzy?”

“It was Finderu and his Guild of Wizardry what produced the regulations against necromancy and forced him into hiding. You sent Justice Mages to hunt him, when he did none of you any harm. And you drove him to a pit of depression so deep he couldn’t see away out of it other than to get himself. BoomFuzzy’s death is your fault.”

“You’re the evil sorcerer no one has ever defeated.”

“Yes. No one. And you’ve sent thousands of little groups of adventuring parties to kill me. Warriors, paladins, druids, little mage wannabes, archers, rangers, assassins, even some lunatic bards who thought they could defeat me by singing to me. Fucking bird brained idiots.” 

“The Guild employs the best bounty hunters...”

“The Guild employs incompetent idiots. They expect to poke me with their swords and have gold pop out as a reward. If they were so desperate for gold all they had to do was ask. I have plenty.”

“Are you wealthy?”

“I am a silk merchant, what do you think?”

“You seem to be well stocked on supplies.”

“I am. I have everything I need in here.”

“I think too, you are a homeless hermit, living in a tent.” 

“I am that as well. Can one not be wealthy and live in a tent too?”

“If you could afford a house, than why don’t you live in one?”

“I’ve lived in several, but you know how it is. White, Christian, American Humans can’t even tolerate none-white Christian, American Humans, hate far more non-Christians, white or otherwise, and nothing boils their blood worse than two men in bed together. Here I am not white, not Christian, not American, not even Human, and I bed with well, anyone willing to bed with me regardless of their gender.”

“What does that have to do...”

“With me not living in a house? With me living in a tent? I’ll tell you what it has to do with it! You do-goody little white assed, Christian Americans burned down every one of the last five houses I’ve had!”

“Because you....”

“Because I’m not white enough. Me! An albino! A fucking, pink eyed, white haired albino, with skin so white, I can’t go outside in daylight without my skin burning off me. And they have the nerve to say I’m not white!”

“Well, you’re not Human...”

“I’’m not a white Human, I know. Therefore I don’t deserve to live. I am outcast. Unloved. Unwanted. Unwelcome. Every where I go. Every town I set foot in. You white jackasses are insufferable! Your arrogance! Your racism! It’s deplorable! You make even the most raciest of the Elves look inclusive!”

“So, why do you live in a tent? Why don’t you just find a town that’ll except you?”

“I would. If I could find one. Do you think I haven’t tried? I’ve spent the last seven hundred and fifty years looking for exactly that! I walked across Asia. I walked across Europe. I walked across Africa. I walked across America. I walked across Mexico. I walked across South America. I’ve walked from one end of this fucking, Human infested planet to the other and you Humans are all alike. Hate filled racists, every one of you. I even went to isolated regions where no Humans had ever set foot and within a decided your creatures invade and run me out of my home, because you think your fucking superiority, gives you the right to shove every settler or native you find off their land to make way for more of you fucking bastards!”

“So, you are saying that you are forced to live in a tent against your will?”

“Yes. Though, seven hundred and fifty years and I’ve come to prefer the tent now. So now, I’d just like a place where I can set it up and not have to worry about being chased out by you dirty Humans.”

“When you say you have plenty of gold to buy off the bounty hunters, how exactly much gold are you talking about here?”

“More gold than you’ve ever seen in your lifetime. I guarantee you that.”

“Just from selling silk?”

“No. I also sell potions and do hoodoo rootwork work for hire, plus I read cards and crystals for people looking to learn of their future.”

“Can you see the future?”

“Yes and no.”

“Meaning?”

“Meaning, you wouldn’t be able to understand. You I can see the future, in a sense, but not, not in the way you are thinking. I don’t exactly read cards or crystals, I just let clients think that is how I do it.”

“And what is it you actually do?”

“I serve them drugged tea. And while they are asleep, I use portals, to visit the future, see what it is that will happen to them. Come back here. Wait for them to wake up. And tell them what I saw. And because I am one hundred percent accurate, they pay me huge amounts of money.”

“You’re a charlatan.”

“No. I do see the future and tell hem what I saw. I’m just a time traveller so, I don’t see the future quite in the way you think I do.”

“Is there good money in this?”

“Being a wizard for hire?”

“Yes.”

Quaraun shrugged his shoulders.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” Ghirardelli asked.

“I can’t count.”

“You... how do you know you are wealthy if you can’t count?”

Quaraun reached into his pocket and pulled out ten large coins, made of gold. He handed them to Ghirardelli.

“Every time I buy a bottle of wine, waitstaff respond in shock over how much money I give them, when I give them this. They always say, it’s more than they would ever make in their lifetime.

Ghirardelli took a gold coin from the Elf and turned it around, flipping it over and over again in her hand. She couldn’t tell what the writing on it said, nor did she recognize the king’s face. 

Quaraun handed her another coin. It too was gold, but smaller, the writing different, and the image was of a castle. A third coin, from a third country. As she examined each coin, she realized that each was from a different country.

“Do you have any idea how much money this is?” Ghirardelli asked Quaraun.

The old Elf shook his head, than replied with: “I told you, I can not count. I do not know math. And my people, the Elves, and the Thullids, we do not use yellow and silver metals for currency.”

“No one paid you for silk or potions with coins like these. Where did you get these?”

“From Fire Mountain.”

“Fire Mountain? The volcano?”

“Yes.”

“But a drag... a... dragon lives... oh.” Ghirardelli fell silent for a moment, as she stared down at the ten gold coins in her hand, then back at Quaraun. “This is dragon’s gold, isn’t it?”

“Yes. It is.” 

“You killed the dragon of Fire Mountain didn’t you?”

“I did.”

“And this is from the dragon’s hoard.”

“Yes It is.”

“You... you ki... you killed a dragon. One of the last left in the world.”

“Yes. But, I felt guilty about killing her...”

“Her?”

“Yes. The dragon was a she. And I felt guilty about killing her. I didn’t mean to kill her. I was frightened. She was startled. The energy around me reacts to my emotions. My fears. My aura materialized into, I don’t know what. Some kind of jinn I think, a ghul perhaps, a polter spirit, and it killed her. I killed her. My emotions, my fears, made manifest, killed her. I’m not sure how it happened. But it’s not the first time. The Di’Jinn died the same was, except, they turned to ash. The dragon of fire mountain though, her body lay still in front of me. Massive. As big as humpback whale. Dead. I didn’t mean to kill her. So I brought her back.”

“Brought her back?”

“Yes.”

“You mean, an undead dragon?”

“Yes. She’s a lich now.”

“A lich? A dragon lich? You made a DracoLich?”

“Yes.”

“Those things are dangerous! Where is it, now? What did you do with it?”

“She lives in my pocket. With her hoard of gold. She is Pocket Lich.”

“You have a DracoLich in your pocket, siting on a dragon’s hoard of gold?”

“Yes. As I said, I have way more gold to give the bounty hunters than The Guild would ever give them."

"You did say that." 

"And if they refuse to take my gold, I have Pocket Lich to gobble them up."

"Pocket Lich?" 

"Yes. She'll swallow them whole. Bounty Hunters. Big dreams of killing me than having a dragon’s hoard of riches and jewels. Their lives are on your head. You know that, don’t you? I don’t like killing the innocent retards you pay to hunt me down."

"We don't..." 

"Of course, I get to keep all the gold you gave them. Not that I need it. But it funds my mulberry trees and rose bushes, so I can raise more silk worms and sell even more pink silk.”

“You kill everyone Finderu sends to arrest you and bring you in.”

“Arrest me? Ha! You call sneaking up on me while I sleep and stabbing a sword through my hip, arresting me?”

“You are difficult to catch.”

“Yes, an elderly man, with a lame leg, who can’t run, can barely stand, struggles to walk unaided, crippled hands, crushed fingers, can’t grip old of anything, can’t fight, is sooooooo damned difficult to catch. Your fucking retards attack me from behind. Stab me in my sleep. There’s a hell of a big difference between arresting someone and sneaking into their room at night to stab them in their sleep. You might want to rethink both your methods and your words.”

“You murdered them.”

“Murder is pre-planning killing of someone who didn’t deserve it. Like they do to me. You gather up little bands of heroes, always in groups of five or more, to pre-plan murdering, big, bad, evil supervision me, then spend weeks hunting me down, searching for me, plotting how you will kill me. THAT my dear sweet, Ghirardelli, is MURDER!”

“Are you accusing The Guild of murder?”

“Yes. I am.”

“We uphold the law.”

“No. You do exactly what my father did. You commit crimes, then cover your tracks by killing off the witnesses. Just like my father. And I elude you. You’ve killed so many mages. Wizards. Sorcerers. Why? They’ve done know wrong. They just the wrong kind of magic the wrong hour of the day, the wrong day of the year, and you kill them for it. While murderers and rapists in your own Guild, walk free.” 

“We do not...”

“People like you make me sick!"

"People like me? What about people like you?" 

"Sit in your meeting lodges planning the deaths of innocent, because their hair is too long or their cloths too bright. And calling it laws. You are murders. Not me. The Guild is nothing but a band of murderers who pat each other on the back, calling themselves hero, for hiring blood thirsty bastards to go on quests to slaughter innocent dragons, kill entire families of Orcs. Wipe out entire villages of Trolls. And stalk us wizards to stab us in our sleep! And you call yourself heroes, questing parties, adventures? You ain’t nothing but grave robbers, murders, and thieves. YOU are the villains, NOT those of us you harass, hunt, and kill. What I do is called self-preservation. Self-defence. Fighting back from my attackers. Self defence, is preventing yourself of being stabbed to death in your sleep. I’m not the murderer here, you and you fucking bands of adventuring parties of questing heroes are the murders.”

“You are a villain.”

“Ha ha! Villain. Listen to you! YOU are the villain, here Ghirardelli. Not me. You, and Finderu, and all your desperate, gold lusting, money hungry, filthy asses murderous, blood thirsty, heroes groups. YOU are the evil ones leaving trails of bloodshed every where you go.”

“We don’t hire murders and thieves. We hire warriors, brave men, war heroes...”

“Trained killers. Rouges. Assassins. Warriors. Archers. Paladins. Templar. Men trained to do what? Kill. Kill. KILL! Murders who can’t satisfy their lust for blood because there is no war going on right now, so they hire themselves out as adventurers, hoping to get paid gold for spilling the blood of innocent men, women, and beasts, who did nothing wrong, their only crime is that they were not born white, Human, American, Christians.”

“But...”

“Your so-called fucking heroes are the worse criminal thugs of them all, and they get rich off your coin. Rich off the blood of the women they rape, the children they enslave, and the adults they kill.” 

“They arrest criminals like you.”

“Where you there?”

“No, but...”

“Yes. Well, then how do you know what they do and do not do to us, whom you send them after?”

 “I... but... I... that’s all besides the point! You’re serial killer! And you killed every brave warrior we sent to bring you in.”

“No. I did not.”

“Yes, you did!”

“Where you there?”

“I... no... but that doesn’t matter.”

“Why does it not matter?”

“Because I know you killed them,” Ghirardelli said.

“How?”

“How what?”

“How do you know I killed them?”

“Because everyone knows you did.”

“How does every one know I did?”

“Everyone says you did.”

“Ah! But which one of those every ones was actually there and saw me do it? Hmmm? Tell me that.”

“I... uhm...”

“You don’t know. And do you know WHY, you don’t know? Because you, just like everyone else wasn’t there and didn’t see for yourself, with your own two eyes. You have no clue WHAT happened. You don’t know what I did. You don’t know what I did not do. Just like you also don’t know what your men did or did not do, either. Did you know I faint at the sight of blood?”

“You... what?”

“I faint at the sight of blood.”

“So?”

“Has that no significance to you?”

“No? Why should it?”

“It means, nothing?”

“No.”

“You call me a serial killer. How is it that you say I kill people?”

“You slit their throats with the Elf Eater’s dagger. You cut off their heads.”

“I cut off ONE head. Gibedon’s. And it was in self defence. He caught me in bed with his former lover. He dragged the both of us out of bed, stabbed my partner in the belly, mortally wounded him, and as about to slice MY head off, when I forced the knife back on him. The knife that was in HIS hand on MY throat. I killed him by accident.”

“Accident?”

“Yes.” 

“Really?”

“Yes. I stabbed him in the throat, with the knife that was still in his hand, I stabbed him, by trying to push him back off of my. And didn’t even realize I had stabbed him until the next day, after he was dead. I cut his head off in a panic, and cut up the rest of his body. Diced him up, dropped him in the neighbour’s stew pot. The town folk eat him the next day. I still have his head.”

Quaraun pulled Gibedon’s head out of his bag.

“I don’t know why I kept it. But, every time I look at it, it reminds me, NOT to kill any one ever again.”

“You’re a monster...”

“No. I’m not. I was asleep in bed with my lover, and we were both stabbed in our sleep, by a deranged drunk ex lover who planned to kill his ex, me, and himself. They both died. I lived.”

“You chopped a man up and cooked him!”

“Yes. And do you know what I spent the rest of the week doing?”

“No. Tell me.”

“Vomiting my guts out.”

“Why?”

“Because I can’t stomach the sight of blood. I can’t cope with the thought of death. And there I was not only with his blood on my hands, but, his entrails all over the room, and his head sitting on the table staring at me. I don’t know how I did it. I don’t know why I did it. I don’t know how I got through the week, the year, without killing myself afterwards. Perhaps, in a way, BoomFuzzy saved me.”

“What do you mean?”

“The knife wound, Gibedon gave him.”

“What of it?” 

“It became infected. Septic. He wouldn’t have lived to end of the winter.” 

“Wait, was he murdered? I thought you said he commit suicide?”

“Both."

"Both?"

"Both. He was stabbed in the belly. The wound got infected. He was suffering and he wouldn’t have healed. He would have died either way, but things would have been different, had he not taken his own life.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I do know that. I went back. I stopped him. It was worse. It was a lot worse. He suffered for months and than he still died. Some things are fixed in time and can’t be changed. His death was one of those things. He doesn’t matter how many times I go back. He always dies that same winter. Always."

"Always?"

"Always."

"What do you mean always?"

"Always. Every time line. Different days. Different ways. I made things worse by trying to stop it. So I went back to the original.”

“What are you saying? What have you done?”

“Never mind. It doesn’t matter now. What’s done is done. The fever took hold of him. He was suffering. In agony. He made a poison and drank it. Killed himself rather than suffer for endless weeks in agony, only to die any ways. Decided to die n his terms, laugh death in the face. I became obsessed with healing him. Bringing him back to life. I started studying necromancy, in order to resurrect BoomFuzzy. It over powered my revulsion over killing Gibedon. When Gibedon died, I wanted to die too, because I couldn’t live knowing I had committed such a horrible crime and than that same week, BoomFuzzy died and, I forgot about Gibedon and focused on resurrecting BoomFuzzy. If BoomFuzzy had not killed himself, I think I would have killed myself over what I did to Gibedon.”

You didn’t have to chop the man up after killing him. Why would you do that?"

“I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking. I panicked. I did not plan any of that. I wasn’t thinking. The man attacked us in our sleep. I wasn’t trying to kill him. I was just trying to push him off of me. He fell on his own knife. I didn’t even know I had killed him.”

“Why did you cut him up, than?”

“To hide the body. I told you, I panicked. I wasn’t thinking.”

“And you’re saying that was the only time you ever killed any one.”

“No.”

“Who else did you kill?” 

“My wife. A few years later.”

“So you are a monster.”

“No.”

“Really?” Ghirardelli challenged. “Explain to me, how a man who murders his wife, isn’t a monster?” 

“My uncle was king. He was sick, dying. I’d be king in his place. I planned to not accept the crown. I was already a merchant, and I was content with that. I did not want to rule a kingdom. Never thought it was even probable, I being the king’s nephew, I certainly wouldn’t be next in line, but circumstances ended up be being next in line.”

“What’s that got to do with killing your wife?” 

“My wife wanted the crown. She wanted to be Queen. I said she could have it. I didn’t care. I didn’t want it. But she said laws didn’t work that way. She became obsessed with the idea that the only way she could become ruler was if I died the same day as the king. She spent months planning how she was going to kill me, bragged about it constantly, and on the day the king died, she tried to kill me and I killed her instead.”

“So, you are saying you are NOT a serial killer?”

“Yes. I’m not.” 

“You are a horrible person.”

“Do you think I like the things I did? Because I do not. There isn’t a day that goes by that I do not regret what I did. I destroyed lives, I know that. I stopped someone’s heart from beating. I stole their life. I know what I did was wrong. I can’t go back and change what I did. I would if I could. I live with the guilt every day. I’m not proud of what I did.”

“You are a horrible, violent man.”

“No. I’m not.”

“Really?”

“I’m a rather peaceful person. I keep to myself. I stay out of trouble.”

“Trouble seems to have a way of finding you, though, doesn’t it?”

“Yes. It does. Mostly because people make up lies about me, which causes other people to attack me. People see me as they want to think I am, not how I actually am. They WANT me to be evil, so they can feel justified in beating him, hitting me, stabbing me. They tell themselves what they do to me is good and just and right, because they convinced themselves I am evil. And I am not evil. If they would only see the truth, they would know that. But they are blind to their petty lies, their viscous gossip.”

“But the bounty hunters you killed...”

“I didn’t kill them.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“Well, if you didn’t kill them, than who did?”

“Pocket Lich.”

“What?”

“Pocket Lich killed them.”

“Pocket Lich?”

“Yes.”

“What’s a Pocket Lich?” asked Ghirardelli.

“It’s a Lich that lives in my pocket.”

“You have a Lich who lives in your pocket?”

“Yes.”

“And, this Lich who lives in your pocket is the one who killed the bounty hunters we sent to arrest you?”

“Yes.”

“Could you explain that more?”

“I didn’t personally kill them my self. You see, like the evil necromancer that you think I am, I have armies of undead minions to do my killing for me.”

“You have armies of undead minions?”

“Yes.”

“Where?”

“In my pocket. They protect me.”

“In your pocket?”

“Yes.”

“How...”

“I can’t stomach the sight of blood, you see. I faint.

“You fai...”

“I faint at the sight of blood, yes,” the odd necromancer said, cheerlessly. “I deeply dislike death. And blood. The thought of either sends me into pits of ultimate despair.”

“But you‘re a necromancer. You do blood magic with blood sacrifices on the obsidian altar...”

“The Obsidian Altar?” Quaraun laughed.

“Why is that so funny?”

“I’ve never used it. I own it, yes, but that was BoomFuzzy’s. He used it, not me. He’s the one who did the blood magic and blood rituals and blood sacrifices. I’ve no head for blood.”

“Than what do you do?”

“I resurrect dead roses.” 

"You what?"

“I resurrect dead roses.” 

As he said this, Quaraun pulled a long-stem rose from the vase on the table, and touched it with his wand. The rose immediately started growing long tendrils and thorn covered tentacles, as the rose blossom itself grow several feet tall and evolved into a massive, snarling, snapping, thorn fanged monster.

“You just turned that rose into a demon!” Ghirardelli exclaimed.

“Yes. And I do the same to dead trees.”

“Dead trees? What do you mean, dead trees?”

“Dead trees. Rotten logs from out of swamps. Dead weeping willows toppled over by hurricanes. It’s why I’m here. You have a hurricane ripping through this region, killing all the plants, all the flowers, all the trees. And you Humans rely on the apple orchard of this region to supply all the apples for your entire country. But once this storm is over, there’ll be no apple trees left. They’ll all be uprooted and dead out there in GooseFare Brooke Gully, where the ocean will spit them up, and where I will go and resurrect them.”

“Why would you do that?”

“As much as you Humans are convinced I am on a hunting spree to kill you all, doesn’t change the fact that what I ACTUALLY am doing is trying to find a way to save you.”

“Save us?”

“Yes. If this hurricane destroys this year’s apple harvest, the villagers here will be destitute. I know. I was there. I saw it. Now I’m back to make sure it doesn’t happen this time.”

“This time? I don’t remember a storm like this here before or apples being destroyed. When did it happen before?” 

“It hasn’t happened for you yet.”

“What do you mean it hasn’t...”

“I’m from the future. I’m a time traveller. rust me. I was here before. I know what’s going to happen and I don’t want it to happen. They’ll starve to death. They need those apples to live. Some they eat and store for winter, but most they sell to out-of-state merchants. Without the money they make from those merchants, they will not be able to buy the supplies they need to survive the blizzards that will arrive in a few more weeks.”

“You’re wealthy. Why can’t you just give each one of them a gold coin. That’ll feed them for the rest of their lives.”

Quaraun shook his head sadly. “No. I tried that way already. This ain’t my first time trying to save this village.”

“Because you’re a time traveller?”

"Yes."

“How many times have you tried to save this village?”

“Several. I can’t count. I told you. I don’t know math. It’s been many times though.” 

“And giving them gold after the storm, didn’t work? Didn’t they rebuild the village? Replant the crops?”

“No. They didn’t. They did none of that. Giving them gold was the first ting I tried the first time I came back here.”

“And it didn’t work?”

“No. It SHOULD feed them for the rest of their lives, but it won’t. I’ve tried that method before. But when I return to the village the next year, they are just as poor and destitute as they were before I gave them the gold. They wasted it.”

“Wasted it how? On what? One of your gold coins is enough to feed a large city for hundred years. How did one tiny little village spend so much in so little time?” 

“Spend it on beer and vodka, gambled it away on horse races and dog fights. Spent it on whores and cards in saloons and taverns. Squandered it of frivolities and luxuries, tobacco and drugs and wine, while their wives and children starved. Greedy, selfish bastards, lavished themselves at the expense of their families. Giving them gold did far more harm than good.”

“So, you are saying they didn’t have enough common sense or moral decency to take care of their own families and spent the gold on themselves, and spent so much money, so fast on drinking and gambling that in just one year they were back where they started?”

“Yes.”

“Than why are you helping them at all? Why don’t you just let them rot in their own filth?”

“Is that how you think of your fellow mankind?”

“Wait, aren’t YOU the one who hates Humans?” Ghirardelli asked.

“Not. I don’t hate Humans as a whole. I do bed with your women, after all. I couldn’t do that if I hated you completely. What I hate is how deplorably, some groups, most groups, of Humans treat each other. You levels of racism and bigotry towards each other is rather astounding. I don’t understand it. I fear it. Humans scare me. I’ve seen far too many Humans commit atrocities and I don’t understand why you do it.”

“Okay, yeah, a lot of men are shit, I’ll give you that. But, why THIS village?”

“What do you mean?” 

“I mean, if I were going to go back in time to save a village, I’d pick someplace big and important. Boston. London. Rome. Paris. This village doesn’t even have a name. They call it the garden by the see or the old orchard by the beach, and it’s nothing but opium growers and hash dealers. Look at the fields of poppies everywhere. Why pick this one? It's all thugs and criminals and crime lords.”

"Yes. And in the 1920s it'll get  worse. And than in the 2000s it'll get even more worse. Biddeford. Saco. Old Orchard Beach. The Tri-City Area. Nothing but gutter scum and filth. Welfare bums and slum lords. Honky tonks and race tracks. Topless bars and Speedo beaches. The things this valley will become a hundred years from now, two hundred years from now, would spin your head and turn your stomach. Immoral degenerates who run around guzzling beer and shaking their bare boobs out of their string bikinis, while waving Bibles over their heads and shooting black children and men like me. If there was nothing but Humans here to worry about, I'd let this place burn. It will in 1871 and it will again in 1963. I have to stop those events as well. A glacier will hit here in 1917, freeze every one to death for 30 miles around. I have to come back here for that too. Heaven and Hell are out to obliterate this regions, time and again, and if it was just Humans to worry about, I'd let it happen."

"So, why save it?"

"Because this is Pepper Valley."

"It's Saco Valley."

"Yes, and that big bring building there is Pepperell Mill. Thus Pepperell Mill Valley."

"It's still not called Pepper Valley."

"Yes. I know. But BoomFuzzy couldn't pronounce the word Pepperell, so he always called this place Pepper Valley instead."

"So, why not save one of the other places. Isn't this storm covering a lot of area?"

“You assume I desire to save it for grand reasons?"

"Don't you?"

"No."

"You aren't trying to save Humanity?" 

"Trying to save Humanity?" Quaraun chuckled at the thought of saving Humanity. "Why would I, try to save Humanity?"

"Well, what are you saving than?"

"Hopefully as many of the local prostitutes as I can."

"What?"

"Jack the Ripper will kill a lot of women in London. And here in Saco Valley, Maine, one Dr. Bean is going to get the idea to be a copy cat killer. He's going to pretend to be a mill girl over at the shoe factory, and he's going to spend an entire summer killing mill girls who also work as whores. Dumps their bodies in the swamp. It'll be another hundred years before any one finds the bodies."

"You hate Humans, but you want to save prostitutes?"

"Yes."

"Why? Does one of those women go on to save the world or something?"

"No. I’m afraid I am a bit selfish. You see, it important to me personally."

"You... personally? How so?"

"In my very first life time, before I became immortal. I fell through a portal and was badly injured. I nearly died. A young woman saved my life. Took care of me. Nursed me back to health. A few days after I left, her jealous husband got drunk and beat her to death. It was my fault that she died. She wasn't supposed to die. So I went back in time and brought her out of her dimension into our dimension to save her life, only something went wrong."

"And what does that have to do with this storm?" 

"Many years from now, right here on this spot, there will be a house. My grandson will live here. And he will one day, be important to others. He will become friends with a young boy and that young boy will accidentally discover time travel. If this village is destroyed now by this storm, time travel will never be discovered. Time machines will never be invented. And because of that, my lover and I will never meet. We are from different times, he and I. I didn’t know that then.”

"And the girl from the other dimension?"

"Her husband was right to be jealous. She was pregnant, with my child. Her child is the mother of my grandson."

"But you're castrated."

"Yes."

"You can't father children. Can you?"

"I can. The four children I murdered, they were born nearly a hundred years after I was castrated."

"How is that possible?"

"I'm partly intact. I'm badly mutilated. Sex is difficult but not impossible."

"I don't understand." 

"I don't think you'd understand unless I showed you my injury. I early have sex with women, not because I do not like women, rather women are usually repulsed by my scars and won' have sex with me once they've seen how badly I am mutilated."

“So, saving this village has nothing to do with actually saving the people out of the kindness of your heart? You're just here to save some prostitutes and a girl you fathered a baby with?"

”Yes. Just like you Humans, we Elves and we Thullids, we Archangels or Demons as some prefer to call us, we are driven by our own purely selfish motivations. You Humans like to make up stories about how Angels come to and fro in your service, willing to please your every whim, but I assure you that pleasing your Human asses is never why we fulfill your requests. We always have a selfish motive for everything we do. We are no different than you Humans in that  regard.”

“Have you tried giving the women gold instead of the men?”

“Oh yes. I did. Men beat the women to death to ‘inherit’ the gold. So I came back again and gave the gold to the children, so the men murdered their children to steal the gold from them. The men who grow these old orchards on the beach, they are evil men, full of lust and greed, care nothing for women and children and will stop at nothing to kill everyone around them for gold. No. This way is better. If I give them free money, they just squander it and are back where they started a few weeks later. But if I give them Lich trees, they have a source of food that grows apples all year long, so they can sell apples all year instead of just one week of the year.”

“And you think my cursed sword will help you do that?”

“Perhaps. It depends on what exactly it is that your sword does.”

“I just don’t understand why you would want a cursed sword?”

“Why wouldn’t I want your sword, would be a better question, I think.”

“Oh. Well, why wouldn’t you want it? Wait... does that mean you’ve had this conversation with me before? You knew I was coming?”

“No. This is different. Something has changed. This never happened before. It’s why I didn’t bother to put up a stronger barrier around my tent. I didn’t think I needed one. I’ve done this so many times now. And perhaps that is why you are here now. Perhaps, each time before you were here but you passed me because of the barrier. You didn’t see the tent.”

“I don’t understand. Why would you do any of this? Going back in time to change the past.”

“Your farmers around here depend on apples for their income. With all the apple trees dead, they will have no harvest to sell, no money to buy supplies, no way to survive the winter. Their families will freeze to death or starve to death. They need the apple trees.”

“And so, what does that have to do with you turning the trees into monsters?”

“Liches.”

“What?”

“I’ll turn them into Liches. Not monsters.”

“How is a Lich different from a monster?”

“Monsters are generally just shambling beasts. Like Nzambies. Mindless. Controllable with no effort. Liches are intelligent beings. Sentient. With minds of their own. Capable of thinking rational thoughts.”

“Okay. Whatever. That doesn’t explain why it is you want to turn apple trees into Liches.”

 “I turn the trees into monsters.

“Liches. Because Liches are immortal. An immortal, undead, lich apple tree or monster as you call it, will provide the farmer with apples all year long, not just in fall harvest. Apple farmers will be able to feed their families all year long.”

“So, let me get this straight,” Ghirardelli said. “You’re saying you use necromancy to help people?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t understand.”

“What is there to understand?” 

“Necromancy is evil...”

“No. Necromancy is neutral. It only becomes evil, when evil men use it for evil things.”

“I’m confused.”

“I’m an Elf.”

“Yeah. I can see you’re an Elf. What does that got to do with anything?” 

“You don’t know anything about Elves do you?”

“Uhm, hello! Elves are extinct. They’ve been extinct for like 400 or 500 years or more.”

“I’m an Elf.”

“I can see that.”

“Elves are not extinct, so long as at least one of us is still alive.”

“True. But even if there were females around somewhere, you are castrated, so what difference does it make? You’re the last Elf and once you are dead, your species dies with you.”

"No. I already told you. I am still capable of reproducing and in fact I have with several Humans. So there are still a few half-Elves around.”

“Are half-Elves, considered Elves?”

“Not by most pure blooded Elves,no.”

“Aren’t you a pure blooded Elf?”

“Oh yes. The purest. I am an Ecrodon.”

“A what?”

“We don’t call ourselves Elves. Or we didn’t. Elves is an Earth term, you Humans gave us after we arrived here.”

“Arrived?”

“We are not native to your planet. Our planet suffered a super nova. Or rather our sun did. Precious few of us escaped. So, technically, I’m just the last Elf on planet Earth. In all likelihood there are still Elves alive on other planets. One only has to figure out how to get off your planet and go look for them.”

“I see.”

“Do you?”

“No.”

“Than why say you did?”

“Because I’d rather you explain to me what your being an Elf has to do with you turning apple trees into Liches.”

“Ah! Yes. I forgot I was saying that. Well, you see, it’s like this: Normally, Elves don’t become necromancers.”

“Elves don’t do necromancy?”

“No.”

“But you do.”

“Yes.”

“And you’re an Elf.”

“So, why don’t Elves do necromancy?”

“Necromancy has to do with death and we Elves don’t like death. We like life. We have a strong connection to the energies of the world. We feel the tears of the grass every time you cut it. We feel the pain from the tree, it’s silent agony as your axes cut through it’s flesh.”

“You’re saying plants are alive?”

“Yes.”

“And they feel pain?”

“Yes,” Quaraun answered. “I am surprised you do not know this."

"Why would I know that?" 

"You are a mage."

"What's that got to do with it?"

Quaraun rolled his eyes.

"They feel pain.  And joy. And sadness. And sorrow. When two trees grow together side by side and one falls down and dies, the other weeps tears and becomes depressed. Gives up the will to live, and soon too falls over and dies. Plants, like you Humans fee all the same emotions you feel. As do birds and animals and fish and insects. All life, gives off energy and I feel that. I see the auras around life and the emptiness around death.” 

“Auras?”

“Glow of colour...”

“I know what an aura is, but... you see them?”

“Yes. Everything has a colour it gives off.”

“Does that have anything to do with why you wear pink?”

“It does.”

“Can you see your own aura?”

“I can.”

“Is it pink?”

“It is. Sometimes.”

“Sometimes?”

“Often it turns black.”

“Black?”

“When I think about killing myself. The colour leaves my aura.”

“You think about killing yourself?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“I am unloved and unwanted.”

“That’s not a nice thing to say.”

“No. But it is the truth. And one must always speak the truth. I am unloved and unwanted. There is no way to say it and make it sound pretty or nice.” 

“But, there must be someone out there who loves you.”

“Oh, there was. BoomFuzzy loved me dearly. But, he died, remember? Males bedding with other males is very evil and taboo, so we were punished for loving each other, remember?”

“Yes, you’ve said.”

“And now he is dead and I am alone. Unloved and unwanted. Cast out. Unwelcome. Alone. I have no friends. No one to talk to. BoomFuzzy was my only friend and he is dead. He’s been dead for centuries. It is hard to go on. I try to make friends, but everywhere I go, people have already heard of me. I am famous. As you know. People fear me. So they hurt me. They won’t even try to get to know me. I’m a killer. A monster. That’s how they see me. I always alone. They only way I can get any one to spend time with me is if I pay them to spend time with me. It is distressing. I want so much to belong. Somewhere. Anywhere. I have no one. I am alone.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No. You are not. So do not say you are.”

“You don’t know...”

“Yes. I do know. I am a Psion. I can see your thoughts. You are not sorry at all.”

“Why is your aura usually pink?” Ghirardelli asked, ignoring what the Elf had said.

“Rape.”

“What?”

“Rape.”

“You know. Of all the things you could have said, I think that is the last one I would have expected. What does rape have to do with the colour pink?”

“People who suffer deep traumatic stress after having been raped, have a bright, fuchsia pink aura.”

“Really?”

“Yes. I know immediately when a person has been raped, because they are the only people whose auras are brilliant shades of fuchsia pink.”

“No one else has a pink aura?”

“No. No one else.”

“Only rape victims?”

“Yes. Only rape victims have a pink aura.”

“Why is that? Do you know?”

“I don’t know. It has something to do with the Archangel Raphael. I do know that.”

“You believe in Archangels?”

“I do.”

“And this archangel...”

“Raphael.”

“Yeah, what does he have to do with pink?”

"Pink is a colour of protection. The Archangel Raphael, puts a circle of pink energy around rape victims in order to help their minds heal. It is why I weave only pink silk. I sell very few of my items. I tend to give most of it away to girls who have pink auras. It helps them to heal, emotionally, if they surround themselves with bright pink."

"Helping people again?"

"Yes. It's what I do."

"You're actually good aren't you?"

"I try to be. I told you I am not evil and I'm not the monster that busy bodies and their gossiping rumours make me out to be. People make up horrible things about me all the time. I'm continually amazed the new things people come up with to accuses me of having done."

"And, the apple trees?"

"Apple trees?"

"Yeah. You were turning them into Liches, you said."

"Oh. Yes. That. Most Elves fear necromancy, same as you Humans do, because you fear death. And I started to wonder, why? Why fear death? Why can we not use death. Death is a plentiful energy force that exists all around us. Everything died, and the energy of the dead wanders, aimless and useless. We Elves, we seek to heal the world. Heal nature and Humans are part of nature, are they not?"

"I suppose."

"So many Humans are hurting and suffering. It's terrible. I feel their pain. I'm a Psion. I'm used to living in a Hive Mind with other like me, but now the others are dead and I am alone, and alone in my head, same as you Humans are. So I try to find connections elsewhere."

"And the apple trees?"

"Elves avoid necromancy. In fact, I believe I may be the only Elf to ever become a necromancer."

"Really? No other Elf before you ever became a necromancer?"

"No. None. Not one."

"Why not?" 

"Necromancy is usually used by Humans who are greedy and seek for power and control."

"Are you saying Elves don't seek power and control?"

"Oh no. Nothing of that sort. It's just that Elves live very long lives so we have plenty of time to think and plot and plan and wait for just the right moment to gain the power and control. Whereas you Humans live such short lives, that you are driven more rampantly, less patently, to seek out power and control." 

"So, because you live long lives, you don't need to become necromancers to become powerful?"

"Exactly. Plus we have different needs and desires than you Humans. Elves have a very low sex drive and we don't lust for gold, though we do lust for pretty gemstones. Humans seek different things. Gold. Sex. Lordship. Government control. That is what drives most Humans to necromancy. So they use it for evil intent, leading others to believe necromancy itself is evil, when in fact necromancy is neither good nor evil. It can be used for good or evil, but men have evil hearts so they choose to use it for evil, when they could use it for good.”

“But why plants?”

“I’m an Elf,” Quaraun said.

“So? You keep saying that, but I don't understand what you mean by that.”

“We are guardians of nature."

"Meaning what exactly?" 

"I am a Moon Elf, so my tribe, we guarded the life along the shore, life effected by the tide fluctuations caused by the phases of the moon. We restored life to areas decimated by blizzards and hurricanes, typhoons, and gales. We Moon Elves, travelled the coastline, following the storms, to right the damage the storms left behind. We tended to sick birds and wildlife, mended broken trees, replanted uprooted shrubbery. That is what we Elves did. Each tribe was assigned a different type of nature to look after. The Sun Elves, worked alongside us Moon Elves, they working in the heat of day, we working in the dark of night. Together we kept the coastline clean, the waters unpolluted, the plants and birds and insects and animals healthy. Wood Elves did the same, but inland in the forests. Meadow Elves tended the prairies of the West. Mountain Elves cared for the mountain regions...”

“I get the picture," Ghirardelli said impatiently. 

"Do you?"

"You are very condescending, you know that?"

"Am I?"

"Yes."

"I'm sorry. I don't mean to be. I'm not used to communicating with Humans. I don't do it often. Do you understand what it means for us to be guardians of nature?"

"You each had things you were assigned to protect and take care of and named yourselves after them. But why necromancy? That’s the part you didn’t explain.”

“Centuries ago, there were millions of nature guardians. Not just us Elves, but also Gnomes, Faeries, Dwarves, Dryads, Unicorns, Merrows, and others..."

"You know most of those are mythological creatures that don't exist."

"You mean like us Elves?"

"Yes. No. Wait..."

"I am aware that because you Humans are so short lived, you don't have memories of most of us, but I assure you, a thousand years ago, we were plentiful on the Earth."

"Are you that old?"

"I am. I am the Last Elf because I was one of the youngest Elves. One of the Last born. While you see me as old, I'm actually quite young."

"Unicorns were real?"

"Unicorns were real." Quaraun scoffed. "Do you know nothing? What are they teaching you young mages in school these days?"

"I never went to a wizardry school."

"Never went..." his voice trailed off.

The thought of a mage, not attending a wizarding school, caught Quaraun off guard. He didn't know how to respond to this and said nothing for several minutes while he mulled the concept of unschooled mages over in his squishy jelly brain. 

"No," he finally said at last. "No. It's not possible for you to be anything close to competent at magic if you've never trained properly under wizards who actually know what they are doing."

"You could teach me," Ghirardelli suggested.

"Me?" Quaraun sounded utterly horrified by the very idea of teaching something as lowly as a Human, his level of magic skills. "Teach you?"

"Why not?"

"Why not? Why not? Do you even have to ask?"

"Uhm... I just did."

"Do you have any idea how absurd it would be for someone like me, to teach someone like you?"

"What do you mean?"

"I'm an Elf."

"So?"

"You are a Human."

"Again, so?"

"Do you know nothing of the kind of magic I practice?"

"No. Tell me."

"I'm a necromancer."

"Necromancer?"

"Yes. Necromancer."

"But necromancy is illegal."

"Yes. It is. But I'm not one to abide by Human laws. You see, I'm not a Human. I'm an Elf. So your laws don't apply to me."

"You're a necromancer."

"Yes. And necromancy is the most advanced magic possible to learn. It's why there are so few proficient necromancers in existence."

""So shouldn't one learn necromancy from the best necromancer there is?"

"Well, yes, but, I don't think you understand. I'm an Elf. And you're a Human."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"We Elves live for many hundreds of years. I am myself nearly a thousand years old. You Humans are lucky if you even live fifty years. A few may make it to sixty or seventy even. Once in a while a Human reaches a hundred years old, but that is very rare."

"And this makes a differance?"

"Well, of course it does."

"How?" 

"I was over seventy years learning rudimentary magic skills. Basic level magic, that even the longest lived Human will never live long enough to master. I advanced those skills after that. And than after that it took me over a hundred years just to master the very basics of necromancy."

"So you are saying Human necromancers, even the most powerful ones, don't even know the minimal basics of necromancy, because they'll never live long enough to study it?"

"Exactly! The only reason I am the best necromancer in the world is because I'm the oldest necromancer in the world. Same for all my magic skills. I'm the world's most powerful wizard, simply because I am the world's oldest wizard. I've spent nearly a dozen centuries honing my skills and mastering my craft. It's pointless for me to even try to teach you anything."

"Would it be pointless to learn, even if one knew one could never master it?"

"Perhaps not. Learning is always good. But you don't even know the history of magical beings. You didn't know Unicorns were real!"

"Unicorns are taught to be things of fairy tales and Fantasy novels. No one believes they are real or that they ever were."

"And yet, they were real, so short a time ago, that I remember feeding herds of them in the Di'Jinn desert, along the river's edge." Quaraun sighed sadly. "I miss my little black Unicorn."

"Isn't that a perfect example of why mages like us, need someone like you to teach them?"

"How's that?" 

"Because people today have forgotten so much and you are old enough to remember the stuff we forgot."

 "It was but a few thousand years ago, you Humans started breeding in faster succession and you spread like a parasitic plague across the earth. That's why Unicorns are gone, you know. That and because the Di'Jinn killed most of them, which is why I killed the Di'Jinn."

"YOU killed the Di'Jinn?"

"Yes. They were going to kill my little black Unicorn. The one with the gleaming silver horn. I loved my little black Unicorn. He's dead now." 

"I'm sorry."

"Don't be. He'll be back soon. I'm working on resurrecting him."

"I thought you were resurrecting the Elf Eater."

"I am." 

"And you are resurrecting the Unicorn as well?"

"No."

"But you just said..."

"BoomFuzzy WAS the Unicorn."

"The Elf Eater was a Unicorn? But I thought..."

"The Elf Eater was a Phooka. Don't you know what a Phooka is?"

"Uhm. I'm not sure. It's a type of Faerie. Kind of lie a Demon."

"No. Nothing like a Demon. Phookas are a type of Unicorn. Similar to a Kelpie. But where Unicorns are white and have gold horns and Kelpies are green and have copper horns, Phookas a black and have silver horns. Also Kelpies are huge, like Clydesdale, while Unicorns are more like Arabian racing stallions, and Phookas are like little Shetland ponies the size of a goat."

"I never knew that. Wait... are you saying the Elf Eater of Pepper Valley was a HORSE?"

"Yes. The Elf Eater was a Unicorn."

"I thought he was a man!"

"No." Quaraun shook his head. "BoomFuzzy was a horse. He could cast illusion spells to make you hallucinate and see a man instead of a horse, but he was always a horse."

"So, you are saying there were lots of different types of Unicorns, right?"

"Yes. Horses with horns on their heads, were once plentiful, but than you Humans showed up and ruined everything."

"Ruined? How did Humans ruin everything?"

"You destroyed nature."

"No we didn't."

"Yes. You did."

"How?"

"At first, we thought you would help care for nature too, so we did nothing to eradicate you while we had large enough numbers that we still could. But then armies of you attacked and killed entire nations of our tribes, and well, you can see the result. Gnomes and Dwarves were the first to go extinct. I am the last Elf, unless there are a few others, like myself, travelling alone, but we Elves have a hive mind and I would have picked up on any survivors by now if there were any others out there. What few Faeries survived, opened up portals and fled to other dimensions. Demons did the same. The world is now left unprotected, defenceless against the infestation of your Humans. And you are destroying her.”

“Who?

“Nature. Earth. A lot of America is utterly destroyed."

"Is it?" 

"Yes. And it's worse in the future. A lot worse. In the year 2525, the Earth will implode, and you Humans cause it. You fight amongst yourselves so much that you build weapons of mass destruction and kill most all life on the planet."

"So, Humans eventually kill each other?" 

"Not just each other, but plants, trees, animals, birds. You vaporized everything with a very big gun. Entire forest disappeared. Burned to ash in the blink of an eye. America will be reduced to one, giant desert, with huge piles of rusted tanks and jet planes that fell out of the sky when left unmanned by the blast. They called it a nuclear war. I call it a disgrace."

"But some people survived, right?"

"No. After the war. Humanity rebuilt itself in bits and pieces, here and there, scientists set out to building time machines to go back and try to undo the war, but than, well, a side effect of the nuclear explosions was, a shit in the gravity pull of the Earth. It... days grew longer. Nights grew shorter. Summer grew hotter. The polar caps melted. And people panicked, because every one knew what was happening. New reporters showed what scientist said. The Earth was being pulled into the sun. And not slowly. Quickly. High winds took hold as the planet plunged forward. In less than a year, the Earth was sucked into the sun. The whole planet melted."

"That's terrible."

"It is. It was awful." 

"And that's Earth future?"

"Yes."

"Can it be stopped?"

"I don't think so. I've been forward and backward through time so many times, so many places. Only minor things change. It happens a week earlier a month later, But it still happens."

"So if you can't change it why bother trying to change anything at all?"

"To make life better for people I love who suffered needlessly. I saw the moon, break apart, and crumble to dust. The moon fell out of the sky. And when that happened, the ocean rose higher. Entire continents were buries in water. But than the water evaporated as the Earth neared the sun. In the day before it reached the sun, mountains melted, riverbed flowed with lava, the entire planet became charred, people burned to death if they dared go outside. Everyone moved underground the escape the burning sun. And than, the planet was gone. Earth was no more. The planet and everything on it, melted and became part of the sun. I became The King of the Burning Planet. I led the people to the ships. They crowned me king of the Planet of Flames."

"The Planet of Flames? I've heard of that."

"If you have, than, you have spoken to someone from the future."

"Are you back here in the past, because there is no Earth in the future for you to live on?"

"Yes. There are quite a few of us. When the sun went into supernova, ships fled through time. People chose various ships based on what year or what location it was set to go back to." 

"If you know the world is going to end and you know how, than, why bother with saving this village at all?"

"I told you, I want to make life better for people. Barely a hundred years ago, New England was nothing but pine forests. The Atlantic Ocean full plentiful of fish. Now look at it. Cites stand on mass acres of clear-cut forests. Dead fish, floating in polluted water, far outweigh the healthy fish in the ocean now. That’s why necromancy.”

“I don’t understand.”

“I am only one Elf. I can defend and protect nature from the millions of you Humans who are fast destroying her. But I can, follow your path of destruction and resurrect the dead you leave in your wake. And you Humans leave plenty of dead behind, so my job of restoring life to plants,, trees, birds, animals, and fish, is never ending, and all I do is this one region. I walk from Ivujivik to Boston and turn around and walk from Boston to Ivujivik. The trip takes me four years one way, eight years round trip. So, I will never catch up on restoring life to everything you Humans slaughter, but I do what I can, where I can.”

“What you are doing seems rather pointless,” Ghirardelli insisted.

“Yes. Sometimes I think that myself,” Quaraun agreed.

“Then why do it at all?”

“It was what BoomFuzzy did. He taught me how to do it. Though his reasons were far from noble. He resurrected lich apricot trees and lich wormwood plants to make drugs so he could drug his victims and make them easier to catch.”

“Is he around here somewhere?”

“BoomFuzzy? No. BoomFuzzy died many hundreds of years ago now. We had planned to come here while he was still alive. We were going to live here.”

“BoomFuzzy? You keep talking about BoomFuzzy. But I don't know who that is. Who is that?”

“BoomFuzzy? You probably know him by his real name. King Gwallmaiic. King of the Realm of Fae. He was the necromancer whom most people referred to as The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley.”

“The Elf Eater?”

“Yes. The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. King Gwallmaiic. King of the Faeries. He was also BoomFuzzy the candy maker.”

“You’re Quaraun the Insane.”

“Yes. You said that already.”

“You’re Quaraun the Insane.”

“I’m not... yes. I am Quaraun, but I am not insane. I dislike that label. And as for my papers, well, there is this one...”

Quaraun pulled a wanted poster out of his pink beaded heart shaped bag of holding and handed it to Ghirardelli.


WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE: 

PREFERABLY DEAD: 


QUARAUN THE INSANE. 


Wanted for Necromancy, Demonology, Sorcery, Black Magic, murder, rape, buggery, sodomy, cross-dressing, bathing more than twice a year, eating Human brains...


The poster listed more crimes, but Quaraun rolled up the poster and stuffed it back in his bag, before Ghirardelli had time to read the rest.

"What's this?"

"The wanted poster you put up a few weeks ago."

"You took it down?"

“Told you I had papers."

"Yeah, you did. But I didn't recognize you."

 "And do you know why you didn't recognize me?"

"No. But I suppose you will tell me." 

"I will tell you. Because that picture looks nothing like me. Really, you need to get a better portrait artists. Ugh. Look at that picture.” Quaraun took the poster bag out of his bag and held the poster up beside his face. “I am the most beautiful Elf the world has ever seen. Look at me!"

"I am looking at you. You kind of look like a freak?"

"Freak?"

"Yeah, like something out of a Gypsy freak show."

"I AM a Gypsy."

"Well, that's explain you're looking like a Gypsy freak show."

“I am NOT a freak.”

“You could’ve fooled me.” Upon discovering who Quaraun was, the old woman was now very agitated. “You belong in a freak show.”

“That’s very derogatory. I feel that you don’t like Gypsies do you?”

“No one likes Gypsies.”

“That is not true. Only racist bigots hate Gypsies. And you were perfectly fine sitting here drinking tea with me, until you found out what I was. You’re thinly veiled hostility is not welcomed. Nothing about my manner has changed. I am still the same person you asked to help you, that I was a few moments ago. Why are you suddenly on the defensive?”

“Why shouldn’t I be?”

“You weren’t feeling that way a few minutes ago. Not until you found out my name.” 

“You’re filthy criminal Gypsy scum,” Ghirardelli insisted.

“On the contrary, it is I who is perfectly clean. You on the other hand look and smell as though you’ve not seen a bath in months. It is you, not me, who is filthy.”

“That’s not what I meant by filthy. You’re filthy criminal Gypsy scum.”

“And before you learned my name, you didn’t think that. You were quite continent to sit here and drink tea with me.” 

“I didn’t realize I was drinking tea with a murderous, scumbag, Gypsy freak.”

“I’m not a freak.” Quaraun repeated himself. “You are just proving how evil you white Americans are.”

“Well, you ARE wearing a pink dress.” 

“What difference does it make what I am wearing? And besides, this is NOT a dress. It is a caftan and a kimono. Both of which are men’s articles of clothing, worn by men, not women. What is it with you stupid ass Americans and you inability to stop judging everything?”

“I don’t care what you want to call it. It is a dress.”

“Look at my face, not my dress.”

“You’ve the face of an Oriental freak,” Ghirardelli said as harshly as she could muster.

“Asian. Oriental is a white man’s word. Hate slur. You are quite racist aren’t you?” 

“And you’re a sorry excuse for a man.”

“No. That’s wrong too. I’m not a Man. I’m an Elf. I’m not Human at all, so I can’t very well be a sorry excuse for one, seeing how I’m not one, nor am I trying to be one. And you were not being so hostile before you knew my name. Does finding out who I am really change how you think of me that much?"

“Whatever you are, you’re a freak.”

Quaraun looked away from the vulgar racist and stared at the wanted poster.

“This picture doesn’t do me justice. That artist, clearly never saw me. How does Finderu ever expect to capture me if he can’t even find an artist that can capture my glorious beauty?”

“You’re very vain, aren’t you?”

“Why, of course I am. You would be too, if you were as beautiful as me.”

“Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

“A beholder’s eye. That’s a difficult thing to get a hold of. You know, I should do a sit down with your artist. Pose for my wanted poster. It would at least give you a fighting chance of trying to catch me. Not that any of you ever could. I am the most powerful wizard the world has ever known, after all. Now I ask you, does this even look anything like me? What were you thinking using this picture on my wanted poster? This looks nothing like me.”

“You look a lot older than I thought you would be.”

“Excuse me?” Quaraun tossed the wanted poster aside, and now pulled out a silver hand mirror. “Am I starting to look old?”

“You ARE old, aren’t you?”

“I am an Elf. Pure-blooded Moon Elf.”

“Aren’t you the LAST Moon Elf, because you ate the other Moon Elves?”

“Yes. The things one must do to preserve one’s beauty for immortality.”

“I thought Quaraun the Insane was young. But you’re an old man.”

“Old? Do I look old?”

“Well, yes. When I hear people telling stories about you, I didn’t realize you were an ancient old Wizard. I thought you were some young mage. People describe you being all lovesick over The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley and, well, the way people talk about you, I thought you’d be a teenage girl or something. I don’t know. I wasn’t expecting The Pink Necromancer to be an ancient old man, that’s all.”

“Ancient? What do you consider ancient? I’m barely four hundred years old!”

"Didn't you say you were seven hundred and fifty years old?"

"I don't know. I might of."

"Why don't you know?"

"I can't count. I don't know what year it is. I don't know what year I was born. I don't know how old I am."

"What's the oldest thing you remember. Like a world event or war or something."

"I remember Charlemagne. I was a child, when he was king. The Di'Jinn said he was a god king, for a Human. I remember I was still quite young when he died. He had 18 children by 8 of his ten wives. I was still a child when he died. He was 70 years old and I remember thinking, how dreadfully young Humans are when they die. I would still be a child at 70 years old."

"Holy Roman Emperor Charlemagne died in 814 A.D. That's... that's... that's a thousand years ago."

"A thousand years? Has it been so long?" 

“Do Elves live that long? Don't Elves only live around four hundred years?”

“I am immortal.”

“Immortal?"  asked, puzzled by this possibility. "How so?”

“Souls. I’m a soul eater. That sword of yours might come in handy."

"Why woul..."

"I could use a sword that draws out souls. Anything that makes removing souls easier is going to be a boon for me. Would  you be willing to sell the sword to me?"

"Sell it? No. And to you? Definitely not."

"Oh well."

"Why would you want it?"

"Why wouldn't I want it would be a better question, I think."

"It's cursed. It'll kill you if you don't feed it souls."

Quaraun laughed.

"Why is that so funny?"

“I am a Necromancer soul bound to a Lich.” As he spoke, Quaraun set out several pink seven knob candles on the table and lit them. At the centre of the ring of candles he placed a pair of pink bride and groom candles, then tied them closely to each other, bound together, wrapping them with a long pink silk ribbon. “I could, if I choose, break that bond. Break the spell that bound us. But I still love him and so every night, I renew the bond with a renewal spell. Even though he is now dead these many years, our souls are still bound together as one.”

“And that is relevant? How exactly?”

“You have a sword that steals souls from the living, yes?”

“Yes.”

“And I am a Necromancer who is soul bound to a Lich.”

Quaraun said now more and went back to the candle ritual he was working on. Ghirardelli waited for the Elf to finish speaking, but it seemed he was done, as now all of his focus was on the bottles and jars or oils and powders and herbs that he was now mixing together and anointing the candles with.

“Are you going to explain yourself?” Ghirardelli asked when she realized the Elf was no longer paying any attention to her.

Quaraun looked up from his mixture of pine needle essential oil, carnation flower bath crystals, and wintergreen incense powders. “What is it I am to explain?” he asked as he went back to his work, now sprinkling the mixture over the candles, causing their flames to fizzle and spark, with bright bursts of colour as the oil and salt hit the flame.

“I don’t see the relevance of your being soul bound to a Lich and what that has to do with you wanting my soul eating sword.”

“Ah! You do not understand Liches and what they are or what they do, yes?”

“I understand Liches perfectly. But I don’t see what that has to do with my sword.”

“But you do not see the connection between Liches and your sword. This tells me that you do not understand Liches very well at all.” Quaraun placed a bowl filled with violet coloured bath crystals on the table, and dropped clusters of purple wisteria blossoms into the bath crystals, crushing the petals as he did so, releasing their strong floral fragrance into the air. “So, tell me than, what it is you know of Liches and then I shall understand why it is, you do not understand the connection.”

“A Lich is a type of ghost."

"No. A Lich is a type of wraith, but continue." 

"The spirit of someone who commits suicide and can not go to Heaven because they committed self murder. They are condemned to walk the world of the living for eternity. Ever hungry, ever thirsty, ever full of insatiable desires, but never able to quell those desires." 

"Yes," Quaraun agreed, nodding sadly. "No matter how much they eat, they are never filled, their hungry pangs never go away. No matter how much they drink, their thirst is never quenched, their throat always parched. They forever lust for the warmth of others, but can feel nothing of the physical body, no warmth, no pleasure. Tis a sorrowful thing." 

"Their minds are racked with insanity from centuries of suffering and mental torment of never feeling an end to their suffering. It is their punishment for the crime of murder.”

Quaraun blew out the candles, and whispered words in a language Ghirardelli did not recognize, then waited for the smoke to drift away, before turning to the Swamp Hag to address her.

“You know only the bare basics of Liches, then?” He asked her.

“I know what I just told you and I know finding out that much wasn’t easy.”

“I see. Well. Not all Liches are created equal. And there is more to Liches than just being punished suicide victims.”

“You’re saying there are different types of Liches?” 

“Yes. But for our purposes, the suicide victim is the correct type. BoomFuzzy did, after all, kill himself to become a Lich. Everything you said is correct, but it barely scratches the surface of the clay. You are clawing at a brick and only getting dust under your nails. You have a lot to learn before you get to the heart of the matter.”

“And the heart of the matter is what?” 

“The short of it is this: a Lich can gain redemption through repentance of sin, but to do that they must return to a physical body and live life again, this time, making amends for the wrongs made in the first life. However, in order for that to happen, the Lich must have someone living, not just anyone, but specifically someone whom they committed a crime against in life, must forgive them and love them enough to resurrect them.”

“Resurrect them?” 

“Yes."

"Is resurrecting a Lich even possible?" 

"It is. Someone who was wronged by them and is willing to forgive them. A Lich must find a living person willing to forgive them and help them enter a physical body. And that, my dear, requires souls.”

“Souls?”

“Yes. Souls.”

“What do Liches need souls for?”

“In order to give the Lich a new body, one must gather up enough souls to animate a golem.”

“Are you saying you are trying to resurrect a Lich and you want my sword to use to gather up souls, to create a golem for the Lich to live in?”

“Exactly that, yes. Except, I already made the golem.” Quaraun reached into his pocket and pulled out a wooden box. In the box were several smaller boxes. He removed one of these and opened it. Inside was a glowing blue ice sculpture of a unicorn. He carefully took it out and held it up for Ghirardelli to see. “This is an ice golem.”

“It’s small.”

“I can change it’s size with my wand, when the time comes to use it.”

“Is it... a unicorn?”

“It is a Phooka. More like a Kelpie, than a Unicorn, but yes, a type of Unicorn.”

“Why did you make the golem in the shape of a unicorn?”

“BoomFuzzy is an Unicorn.”

“Wait. What?”

“King Gwallmaiic, The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. He was a Phooka, a black Unicorn. Similar to a Kelpie.”

“He was a man...”

“No. He was not. He took the form of a Human to blend in with your society, but he was a horse.”

“Your lover is a horse?”

“Something like that.” Quaraun put the little ice golem away. “Beyond that, there is a JellyFish living in my brain. So technically, I think I’m already dead. At least, my Elf body is. Elves only live 400 years, yes, that is correct, but I’m a Thullid living in an Elf’s body. I’ll survive for many thousands of years. I already have. I just never lived in a host before arriving at this planet. Never needed to before.”

“A host? What do you mean by a host?”

“I am the Sacred Pink JellyFish.” As he spoke, Quaraun took the pink seven knob candles off of the table and placed them in a red wooden box. He next placed the pair of bound together pink bride and groom candles, and placed them on top of the seven knob candles. He then gathered up the salts and oils and herbs and violets and lavender and wisteria and carefully placed all of those things on top of the bound bring and groom wax figures. On top of this, he laid a silver mirror, facing downward, then closed the lip of the wooden box and got up, taking the box with him, to put it in the fire pit. The fire blazed and flared brightly as the flames doubled in size, engulfing the box. 

“You said that before.”

Quaraun did not answer the woman. Instead, he sat down in front of the fire and watched the box burn. The salt and herbs and oils mixed with the flames, turning the fire a bright blue, as the pink candle wax oozed out into the fire pit, forming ripples of melted wax around the edges of the mirror, embedding it into the wax. After a few minutes, the blaze died down and the fire burned itself out. 

Quaraun watched as the liquid wax solidified once again, now forming into a melted pink disc shape, full if ashes and bits of burned herbs, and a scattered of salt crystals. Quaraun picked up the wax disc and carried it to the table at the back of the tent, placing it in a wooden chest, where Ghirardelli could see there was a large stack of similar wax discs. She assumed he made one of these every day, by the look of how many were there.

Quaraun returned to his resting spot on his pile of pink silk pillows once again, pulled out a pink glass hookah, and turned his attention back to Ghirardelli while he smoked his liquid hashish pipe.

“I did say that before. Yes,” he said between puffs of smoke. “Yes, I did. I am not an Elf. I simply wear the skin of a dead Elf the same way you wear a coat. I am a Thullid, living inside the body of an Elf. I am a female. I like beautiful things. He was a beautiful male. Such great beauty was wasted on him. An Elf who would never leave his village, never have a will of his own. Live forever as part of the hive mind that made them all identical in thought. But with me, the whole world can admire his beauty. The entire world can gaze up the glory that was his perfect body. Think of him as being like the fox fur stole worn by a wealthy noblewoman, because that’s what he is to me.”

As he chatted, Quaraun pulled a rusty, orange fox fur stole from his bag and wrapped it around his shoulders. He then arranged the pink tourmaline crystal charms hang from the rows of chains connecting his nose rings to his earrings. Ghirardelli watched the male Elf priming and fusing as though he were a female. It occurred to her that Quaraun’s being female and not male would, in fact, explain his feminine actions.

“You are a female, Thullid?” Ghirardelli asked the Elf.

“Yes.”

“And you are wearing the body of a male Elf?”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why are you wearing a dead body like it was clothing?”

“Because he is beautiful. Bewitching.” Quaraun pulled out a silver mirror once again. “Have you ever seen anything more gorgeous than he?”

“That’s why you keep pulling out these mirrors, isn’t it? You aren’t looking at yourself, you looking at him.”

“That would be correct.”

“You know, I thought you were joking before about the whole Thullid thing.”

“I never joke.”

“Yeah, I’m starting to think that’s true."

"I fail to understand why you appear so shocked by this."

 "Well, you DO seem a little bit on the crazy side and you are homeless and living in a tent. But you’re being a female would explain the styling your hair and wearing your clothes as though you wee female. So, you are saying that you ACTUALLY are, quite literally, you ARE The ACTUAL Sacred Pink JellyFish?”

“Yes. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true. You Humans are so annoying. You never believe anything anyone says, because your society is built on a web of lies. You all lie to each other so much on a daily basis that you think everyone else automatically lies like you do. We are not as corrupted and perverse as you deviated, immoral, lying thugs are. I am not a Human, nor an America, nor a Christian, I’m not even from this planet, Earth is not my native home, so stop treating me like I’m a lying ass piece of white trash, shit faced American Christian Human Earthling.”

“I wasn’t accusing you... hey, you know, I’m not a Christian myself. Christians don’t exactly abide with having us witches around, you know!”

"I told you I was the Sacred Pink Jelly Fish and you said you thought I was joking. A joke is nothing but one of many forms of telling a lie. In my culture, we cut out the tongues of vile miscreants like you who speak in jokes. Jokes are lies. Lies are evil. Lairs do not deserve to live."

"I..." Ghirardelli didn't know how to respond. The Elf, looked livid. He was truly terrifying just now. He was mad. No. He was pissed. Furious. Accusing him of not speaking the truth, seemed to have triggered some deep internal rage within him. 

Ghirardelli knew that if even half the humours about Quaraun's extreme violence and excessively bad temper was true, then she had to change his mood, and fast. 

The old Elf, did not wait for Ghirardelli to respond to him. He continued ranting his hatred for Humans and lies. Lies and Humans.

 "I speak the truth always and only, just because you don't know how to tell the truth to save your life, doesn't give you the right to treat me like the lying piece of shit you are!"

"I wasn't..." 

"My culture isn't built on lies like yours is. We are a Hive Mind society. Everyone knows every thought everyone else is thinking. Isn't even possible to tell a lie, because no one can hide any thought from anyone else. You Humans, think you can hide thoughts by lying, well guess what, I'm a psion and I can see your thoughts, just as well as I can hear your voice, so can't hide nothing from me."

"I didn't mean..." 

"I know every single time you lie to me, and you've been lying every other sentence out of your mouth since you walked into my tent. I know who you really are, why you are really here, just like I know that no men were chasing you, and you were well aware I was The Pink Necromancer before you even found my tent. I know you heard people in the tavern talking about a pink Arab and you figured it had to be me, Quaraun the Insane, it couldn't possibly be any one else, so you set out looking for me and made up that cock and bull story about men chasing you on the fly."

"I didn't make up..." 

"Humans and lies. Lies and Humans. You are all alike."

"Men really are..." 

"Not an honest bone in your body."

"You don't know me..." 

"No you me! Yet you judge me anyways."

"I wasn't..." 

"Bah! Humans! No pure thoughts in your soul. Twisted and corrupted, creatures full of lies and filth."

"I'm not..." 

"Lying, filthy, shit bag, gutter scum, pieces of trash, every one of you."

"WILL YOU SHUT UP!" Ghirardelli yelled.

The old Elf immediately fell silent and stared, blinking at her. He had not expected her to raise her voice, indeed, he seemed puzzled by the thought that she had done so.

"Are you done bitching?" Ghirardelli asked.

"I'm never done bitching," Quaraun answered dryly. "Apparently I make an art of it."

"Okay. Never mind all that. So, you're saying that you really are the Thullid god?"

"Yes."

"The Sacred Pink Jelly Fish?"

"Yes."

"But, I thought The Scared Pink Jelly Fish was an Elder Brain. One of the Ancient Ones."

"I AM one of the Elder Brains."

"But that's not possible."

"Why?"

"Don't Elder Brains swim around in giant brain form, swimming like jellyfish in slime filled primordial pools?"

"The Elder Brains are tiny. The size of maggots. Itty bitty pink jellyfish. We climb up your nostril, latch on to your brain, take control of your mind, and learn to think your thoughts, while our tentacles fuse to your spinal column, than grow into it, engulf it, attach to it, fuss to it. We become one with you, and for inside your skull, we learn your habits, your thoughts, your hobbies, your quirks, and after a few years, when we have learned how to pretend to be you, we eat your brain, grow to fill the size of the cavity in your skull, and live as though we were you."

"So, no giant elephant sized brains sitting around in slime filled primordial pools?"

"No."

"But that's what Thullid Elder Brains are always said to be."

"Who says so?" 

"Everything we know about Thullids saids so."

"Than everything you know about Thullids is wrong."

"Well, yeah. Maybe. It could be. It's been centuries since the last time anyone actually saw a Thullid. They are thought to be extinct. Or living in the dark underworld..."

"Dark underworld? What nonsense is that?"

"Everyone says the Thullids built a system of caves deep inside the Earth and they live down there. Cultists find huge sinkholes around the world and throw sacrifices in to feed the Ancient Elder Brains. They say Thullid psionic priests roam the dark underground serving Elder Brains. And someday there is going to be an uprising..."

"An uprising?"

"Yeah. The Old One, The Sacred Pink JellyFish, the oldest of the Elder Gods, is supposed to return, and bring his people back to the surface kill all Humans and restore the Earth to it's former per-Human glory."

"I'm supposed to do that?"

"That's what the stories and legends and folklore about the Thullid's god say."

"There are several problems with your Human tales of my return."

"Like what?"

"Well, for starters, I'm a female."

"Maybe it was talking about some other Elder Brain?"

Quaraun shook his head. "No. Can't be. Not possible."

"Why not?"

"Because Elder Brains are ALWAYS female. There are no male Elder Brains. We are like the Queen of a bee hive or ant hill. We are always a female and our job is simple: we lay eggs."

"You... lay... eggs... And you mean that literally don't you?"

"Of course."

"So... do you lay eggs?"

"Not in a very long time, but yes."

"When was the last time you laid eggs?"

"Before I came to this planet. Long before I was implanted up this Elf's nose. I was carrying a clutch when I was put in him."

"A clutch?"

"A clutch of eggs."

"You have a clutch of eggs?"

"Yes."

"Where?"

Quaraun pointed his finger to his head. "In this Elf's skull. I keep them safe, snuggled up against my belly, wrapped up in my tentacles."

Quaraun began softly humming, seeing to his egg clutch.

"You're saying your head is full of Thullid eggs waiting to hatch?"

"No. My head is full of Thullid eggs waiting to be fertilized."

"Fertilized?"

"Yes. I must find a male JellyFish."

"You mean a male Thullid?"

"Oh no. The generic squid or octopi Thullid is a different species.  Only another JellyFish is compatible for reproduction."

"How long can you wait to find a male?" 

"Forever."

"Forever?"

"Yes. Forever."

"How is that possible."

"I am an Immortal JellyFish. If we get too old, we simply revert to a younger version of yourself and start life over again. We Immortal JellyFish can do that forever. I will keep doing that forever, until I find an appropriate male for spawn with. Than I will lay my eggs."

"Lay... where?"

"In the brains of hosts."

"How many eggs are you carrying?"

"A few million."

"A few... million? Seriously?"

"Yes."

"And someday you are going to lay those eggs, and... a few million?"

"Yes. Around seven million."

"Seven... million...? Seven million Thullid eggs? That means seven million Thullid larvae will some day be put into seven million people. And those seven million people will turn into... into... squid headed brain sucking mind flaying demons."

"Yes. And no. Not Squid headed. Jelly-brained, like me. That is how we Thullids reproduce."

"It'll be an apocalypse."

"Undoubtedly." 

"Armageddon."

"Most probably." 

"Like Christian ministers are always talking about. They keep saying how Demons from the underworld walk among us in disguise and no one knows because they look like us, and one day they will rise up and take over the world, possessing others, taking over their minds, making them slaves to the ancient Elder God. That's YOU! Those ministers are talking about YOU. The Bible was largely written in 800 A.D. when your people arrived on planet Earth, when you were implanted into the Elf. The Bible calls you the Alfar, the Watchers, the Fallen Angles..."

"The Grigori. Yes. That was what Christians called us Elves back than."

"So, the Fallen Archangels of the Bible, that's you Elves, right?"

"Yes."

"And the Demons of the Bible, that's you Thullids?"

"Yes."

"And, you are one of the Watchers, a Demon Possessed Archangel, because you are a Thullid living in the body of an Elf?"

"This is correct."

"And so the stories of the Demon taken over in the Book of Revelation, that's talking about the day when you lay your eggs in the brains of Humans and the Human race turns into Thullids. That's what the Bible means when it talks about Demon Possession? It means Thullids sucking out Human brains and replacing them with baby jellyfish, who fuse with the body, become the body, and sprout tentacles out of their mouths and turn into squid headed eldritch demons?"

"More or less, exactly that. Yes."

"So, you're an implanted Elder Brain?"

"Yes. And this host is dreadfully beautiful. He has such a lovely body.”

“So, you are an ancient Thullid living in the body of an old, elderly Elf?”

“Elderly?"

"Aren't you?"

"Am I?"

"You look elderly."

"Do I?" 

"Yes. You're an ancient old, elderly Elf."

"Ancient and old? Old and ancient?"

"Why are you getting upset? Didn't you just tell me you were nine hundred years old?" 

"You think I’m old!”

“Well, aren’t you?”

The Necromancer stopped what he was doing, stepped back, and stared dumbfounded at the woman.

“Old and ancient. Ancient and old.”

His voice sounded wounded, and she instantly regretted her boldness in speaking her mind without thinking first.

"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings." 

"Are my feelings hurt?" Quaraun asked himself. "No. But am I old?"

"Being old isn't a bad thing, you know?" 

"Yes it is. It's terrible. I am immortal. I can't get old. How have I grown old and not known it?"

She didn’t know the habits of either Elves or Thullids, or Elves who were demon possessed by Thullids, so caution would have been a better move on her part.

"Ancient and old? Old and ancient?"

Quaraun silently mouthed the words ancient and old several more times. That he was immortal and would retain his beauty for many centuries was vitally important to him. Possibly more important to him than anything else. Even the slightest hint of a wrinkle at the corner of his mouth or a crow’s foot beside his eye was enough to send Quaraun into a panic of looking for herbs and oils and creams and lotions and potions to dab it away.

Quaraun strode across the tent to look the woman straight in the eye, standing so close that his thin, perfectly pointed nose nearly touched hers. He stared deep into her eyes, search for a hint of honesty.

“Do I look old to you?” Quaraun asked the woman, but he did not wait for an answer. He spun away from her, kicked his bedroll aside, and nervously paced around his tent.

“How could I possibly look old?” The ancient Elven wizard muttered to himself as he racked his brain trying to determine when it was that age had caught up with him.

Quaraun’s voice had changed. Calm and composed before, he could not mask the nervous, worried, panicked anxiety that shivered through him, causing his body to tremble.

Much to the woman’s astonishment, Quaraun pulled a full-length mirror out of his impossibly tiny pink beaded heart shaped hip bag. The ancient wizard then stood in front of the mirror muttering to himself about being old, while he stared, horrified, stressed, and perplexed, at his own reflection. The Elf had now taken to searching for wrinkles on his face.

“I didn’t mean...” the woman tried to explain she had not meant to upset him, but whatever it was she had said, was lost to the universe.

Quaraun wasn’t listening to Ghirardelli. The abnormally vain Moon Elf had pulled a silver brush from the bag of holding and nervously brushed his luxuriant white Rapunzel hair.

No.

Not brushing his hair. 

Quaraun ripped the bristles through his tentacle locks with a frantic abandon. His hair nervously withered away from the brush.

The thought that he might have aged had triggered the Elf into a self-absorbed frenzy of fussing over what he looked like while frantically brushing his hair.

The elderly wizard continued to mutter about being old and trailed off into speaking a squishy, slithering, jellyfish language the woman did not understand. Ghirardelli tried to get Quaraun’s attention. But it was a fruitless endeavour. She couldn’t tell what the Elf said, but whatever it was, Quaraun sounded terrified.

The woman couldn’t tell what the Elf was saying, but whatever it was, Quaraun sounded terrified.

The Swamp Hag continued talking to him, but she might as well been talking to a brick wall. The vain, self absorbed Elf was not hearing a word the woman was trying to say.

Ghirardelli suddenly realized this Elf was very self-conscious about his looks. 

“Are you really going to just shut down and not respond to me anymore?” Ghirardelli asked him.

He did not answer. She regretted what she had said to him. Though she did not regret it out of any concern for the Elf. She cared nothing for him or his feelings. Rather, she regretted it because it seemed apparent that once worried about his looks; the Elf had forgotten her presence. Quaraun was too busy primping in the mirror. The Pink Necromancer was no longer concerned with helping her.

“You’re not listening to me!”

Ghirardelli stamped her foot in frustration.

"I hate men," Ghirardelli said bluntly. "You are all alike. Self centred pricks. Every one of you."

Quaraun didn't answer. He was still muttering words she didn't know. She contemplated kicking the mirror, but than thought better of it. If this really was Quaraun the Insane, well, people called him insane for a reason, because he was insane. And an insane person was dangerous, wasn't they?

"Clearly you are a highly narcissistic, egotistical Elf."

Quaraun stopped brushing his hair for a moment to consider this. 

"Yes. A sad, lonely, depressed, narcissistic, egotistical Elf, suffering from some serious vanity and pride issues," Quaraun said agreeing with her. "That is exactly what I am. Plus, I am not a man," he added. "So you can't possibly hate me for being a man."

"I wouldn't have expected you to say that."

"What? That I'm not a man? Obviously not. I'm not Human. Me are always Human."

"When I said men, I meant males, but..."

"I'm not that either. I am a female. I just live in the body of a male."

"Whatever, but that's not what I meant."

"What then?"

"I meant, I wouldn't have expected you to call yourself narcissistic or egotistical or admit to being vain and having pride issues."

"No reason to deny what I am. I know I have problems. Personality issues. I'm not the easiest person to get along with. I am a bitch. Everyone tells me as much. You even did a few moments ago. I accept that. But that doesn't mean I have to accept aging. I am a mage. I ought to be able to keep myself looking young forever."

"Do you want to look young forever?"

"Yes. Don't you?"

"I'm beyond that possibility. Didn't you notice how old I am?"

"Of course, I noticed. I'm not rude enough to call you a wrinkled up old hag or tell you look an old, dried up piece of jerky, like you did to me."

I didn't say... HEY! Did you just call me a piece of jerky!"

"I did. What of it?"

"You were bitching about not being called names."

"What goes around, comes around. If you didn't want me retaliating with name calling, than you shouldn't have been calling me names first. Don't suppose you thought of that did you? You'd think someone your age were have some manners and not be acting like an immature ingrate."

Ghirardelli fell silent and Quaraun went back to sputtering foreign words, while fussing over his hair and looking for wrinkles on his face. It occurred to Ghirardelli that calling the Elf old could ruin her chances of getting any help from the Elf. The Elf seemed to have forgotten she needed help.

"You were going to help me," she reminded Quaraun.

"Was I?" Quaraun pondered this thought for a moment, trying to remember if he had said he would help this women or not.

"Wasn't you?"

"Did I say I would?"

"Did you say you wouldn't?"

"No. I did not say I wouldn't. That is true. But I also didn't say I would. I said I would listen to what you had to say, and serve you tea."

Loud thunder crashed outside the tent. Lightening flashed soon after, causing a red glow through the tent's pink stripped silk.

"What was that?" Ghirardelli jumped and spun around.

"It was only the thunder. There is a storm raging out there, remember? A hurricane. It was WHY I stopped and set up my tent. I was travelling. But this storm came up on me, so I set up the tent. Was weaving for a bit. Ate my meal. Took a nap. Got woken up by you. Now I'm having my tea."

"You know it isn't tea time."

"It is always tea time."

The sound of pouring rain came rumbling down on the roof of the tent. Ghirardelli looked up at the thin pink stripped silk.

"Is this tent strong enough to keep out the rain?"

"It's not just strong enough to keep out the rain, it's strong strong enough to keep out raining cats and dogs."

"I wish it WAS raining cats and dogs."

"Don't say that."

"Why not? More rain would keep the men from chasing me."

"No. That's not what I meant..."

As Quaraun said this, a flurry of growling and hissing started happening outside the tent.

"Oh dear," he muttered. He put his teacup on the table, used his cane to pull himself and tottered his way over to the front door flap of the tent to look outside. Cats and dogs were falling out of the sky. "Oh, bother."

Ghirardelli joined him in the doorway.

"You know I never realized how short you were, " Ghirardelli said to the tiny, little necromancer, who was shorter than her shoulder.

"My height has nothing to do with anything," Quaraun snarled. He hated when people mentioned how short he was.

"No, but, you're a man and you don't even come up to my shoulder."

“It’s raining cats and dogs,” Quaraun said as he watched a herd of wet cats scurry away, hissing and growling, while packs of small muddy dogs rolled in the mud puddles. “Did you do this?”

“No! I didn’t do it, but I wish I had. This is frigging awesome!”

“Don’t say that. Especially not around me.”

“Say what?” Ghirardelli was confused by what was happening and by what Quaraun had said.

"Wish."

"Wish?"

“Don’t wish for anything.”

“What? Why?”

“I’m a Di’Jinn.”

“So?”

“I’m a wishing mage. When people around me wish for things, those things happen.”

“You’re joking.”

Quaraun pointed through the door to the downpour of cats and dogs tumbling out of the sky. “Does THAT look like a joke to you, madame?”

“No, that looks like a lot of cats and dogs tumbling out of the sky. How did that happen?”

“You wished for it.”

“And you granted that wish?”

“No. But that’s what happens when people wish for things around me. It’s part of why I stay away from people. Especially you filthy Humans. Most especially you vile jackassery white Americans. Nothing but gutter scum filth. That’s all you Americans are. I should do this world a favour and rid this planet of the entire vile American existence. Nothing useful was ever birthed out of a white American Human. Not a one of you deserves to live.”

Quaraun left the tent, sputtering angrily about how wet his hair was. Growling about mud on his shoes.

“Humans and their idiotic wishes. Wish your boyfriend would spend more time with you? Poof! Now the two of you are fused together like fucking Siamese twins. I was warm and dry in my tent. Now look at me. Wet. Wet. And fucking more wet. Gamblers looking to enhance the power of wishes, rub lodestones on their skin, hope to attract gold to them, all they end up with are red blisters and rashes. Idiots can’t think straight enough to word their wishes rationally or logically. Soiled my shoes. Oozing black, muddy clay stuck on my silks. I should be indoors, not out here in a fucking hurricane, cleaning up jackass Human incompetence. Wishing it would rain cats and dogs, now we got herds of Llasha Apsos running wild through the first. What the fuck is wrong with her. Brain dead incompetence. That’s all it is, brain dead incompetence.”

The gale force of the hurricane wind was so strong, Quaraun could barely stand, let alone walk. In between tree limbs and uprooted shrubbery flying by, a random cat or dog zipped past his head, followed by several more cats and several more dogs.

After he’d gone some distance from the tent, Quaraun pulled out his wand and drew a few sigils in the mud while muttering something in Thullid. The cats and dogs immediately stopped dropping out of the sky. Quaraun turned back to glare at Ghirardelli and snarled at her, as he slowly staggered his way back through the mud into the tent again.

“Don’t wish for anything else, or I WILL kill every last fucking white American Human on this entire planet. I’m so sick and fed up to death with all of you. Careless words once spoken are often difficult to undo. Wishes cause more harm than good. And no good comes from you evil ass Americans. You white Americans aren’t worth the shit it takes to dung on your face. A wish spoken out of turn can be devastating. And I can’t always fix them as easily as this one.”

Back inside his tent, Quaraun pushed past Ghirardelli and soggily trudged back to his pile of pink striped silk pillows. 

Ghirardelli laughed for several seconds, thinking the old Elf was joking, but she stopped laughing when she realized how very grave and serious he looked. Quaraun narrowed his eyes and glared menacingly at her.

“Wait. You’re serious, aren’t you?”

“Madam, I am an Elf.”

“Yes.” Ghirardelli agreed. “I can see that.”

He stood, staring down at the pillows, contemplating sitting on them, then decided better of it. Wet silk was terrible to sit on, it smelled of rotting moths. One never got silk wet. Quaraun made his way to the fire pit, stripping his clothes off as he went, hung them on a rack that wasn’t there a few seconds ago, then pulled some new clothes off the racks of pink silk outfits and redressed himself as he trundled back to his pillows and plopped himself down on them.

“I am always serious,” Quaraun said as he pulled out a towel and began patting the water out of his twelve foot long hair.

“So, is that an Elf thing?”

“Yes, that is and Elf THING.”

“I thought you were a Thullid?”

“I AM a Thullid!”

“Then why do you do Elf things and not Thullid things?”

“I already explained that to you!”

“You did?”

“Yes!”

“When?”

“When I told you we live in the host’s body for several years, learning their traits and habits, before we eat their brains, so that we can know how to act like them, dress like them...”

“You know I don’t think Elves wear pink silk encrusted with rhinestones.”

Quaraun was sputtering with rage now: “I am NOT a Common Wood Elf! I am a High Elf. A Moon Elf!...”

“The Moon Elves wore blue, silver, and white. And they lived in the frozen tundras of the north. Silk moths and mulberry trees don’t grow there. And there is nothing naturally pink up there. Moon Elves don’t even know what pink is.”

“Lady slipper orchids are pink and they grow in the thousands up there. And we are inbreed so many generations that we are all albino and have pink eyes. So of course we know what pink is.” 

“Tundra races don’t wear pink.”

“I wasn’t raised in the tundra, I was raised in the Middle East in the Hawizeh Marshes of Mays?n, Iraq. What you Americans call Persia. I fed the wild Kelpies on the edge of the Tigris River at Al-Musharrah and Al-Kahla.” 

“So you’re an Arabian who grew up in palaces...”

“Palaces? There are no palaces where I lived. I grew up in the heat of the desert. With miles of nothing but tall reeds. We lived in woven reed huts in the grass. And on reed boats and slept under tents made out of tanned water buffalo hide. There were no palaces. You’ve never been to Iraq, have you?” 

“No, but I read about places like that in books...”

“In books? What books?"

"Well, children's books actually."

 "You mean Arabian Nights?"

"Yeah, that's the one." 

"You do know that book is fiction, don't you?"

"Yeah, but, you're a Di'Jinn and you grant wishes or something you were saying."

"You are confusing Di'Jinn with Djinn."

"How are they different?"

"Di'Jinn is two syllables die-GIN, for one thing. The D is pronounced as a separate word. And it's a religion. Djinn, one syllable, GIN, the D is silent, and it is a type of Chaos Demon that acts as a nature guardians of desert sands, desert plants,, and desert animals. There is quite a big differance between a Di'Jinn and a Djinn."

"So, you're not Arabian, even though you look and dress like and Arab?"

"It's Arabian, not Arab, and no, I'm Persian not Arabian."

"What's the differance?"

"Arabia is several hundred miles north Iraq. Iraq is by Iran and Egypt. Arabia is by Turkey and Romanian. I am from the southern marsh land of the Tigris River estuary, not the big city metropolises of Arabia in the north." 

"Did you not grow up in the city than?" 

"No. We lived in small clans and tribes along the river. We didn’t even have houses. The grass huts would last one season, be destroyed by floods, then we’d have to move inland and live under lean tos until the flood waters went down and we went back to the marsh and rebuilt our reed huts again."

"When you say huts, do you mean like, actual grass huts?" 

"Yes. Actual grass huts. We wove our houses by hand, just like we wove our clothes. Weaving is the primary crafting method of the Di’Jinn." 

"Wait. Is weaving like the primary industry where you are from?"

"Yes."

"So, that's why you are a merchant of hand woven cloth, than, right?"

"Yes. We wove baskets and boats and sold them to the merchant caravans that came through. Traded our silk and baskets for food, which we had precious little of." 

"So, did you like eat rice and stuff?"

"You know nothing of where I grew up if you think it was a land full of riches, wealth, rice, and palaces. I may be wealthy now, but I wasn’t than.”

“But you’re a Moon Elf. The desert is the exact opposite of where Moon Elves are supposed to be. I don’t...”

“I was born in Ivujivik, Quebec, in the tundra and snow, like every other Moon Elf, yes. But I wasn’t raised there. The Moon Elves sent me to live with the Di’Jinn Wizards in Mays?n when I was just nine years old. I lived in the Tigris River marshes my entire childhood and youth. I lived with them for more than 70 years. There was an oasis where they built their Temple of the Sacred Pink JellyFish. In that temple were hundreds of bamboo aviaries, just like those over there.”

Quaraun pointed to the rows of bamboo aviary cages stacked along the back wall of the tent. Each cage housed a shrub, mulberry, tea or roses, and each plant was hung heavy with massive webbing of white spiderweb-like sheets, as the silkworms eat the lush, green leaves, then spun their cocoons. Fluffy white silk months fluttered around lose in the tent, most of them staying near the glowing lava slug crystallized feces.

“In fact, those are some of them. Mine came from the temple. I brought them with me when I left. The Di’Jinn priests raised silk moths and wove pink, yellow, and orange silk. I dress like a Di’Jinn priest, not a Moon Elf, because I was raised with the Di’Jinn, reared by the Di’Jinn. I grew up in the desert, not the tundra. I have Persian habits and Persia customs and wear Persian clothes. Don’t judge me to be a spitting image of every other Moon Elf. Just because that is the race I was born as, doesn’t mean it was the culture I was raised in.”

"I wasn't trying to upset you...."

"You've been doing a lot of that today, madame."

"You weren't raised by Elves than, right?"

"That is correct. I was nine years old went I was sent away. And there were no Elves in the desert of the Di'Jinn. Only the Thullids who raised me and the Humans who lives in the marsh lands along the river."

"So, you essentially grew up with Humans, than, right?"

"Yes."

"But you hate Humans?"

"No. I quite like Humans. What I hate is the self righteous, racist, bigoted, terrorist Americans who think they own the world and can do whatever they please, to hell with every one else. They think because their god tells them they are the chosen ones, that they can kill everyone who is not them."

"Uhm... okay... I guess... but, if you were raised in Human areas, with no Elves to influence you, shouldn't you be doing predominately Human things, not Elf things?"

"I am still an Elf, even if I grew up with Humans and Thullids, doesn't change the fact, I am still an Elf."

"So, telling jokes didn't rub off on you, even though you grew up with no Elves around?"

"Do you think all Humans act like white trash Americans?"

"Humans are Humans..."

"No. Americans are a snide, arrogant breed of Humans, who murder everyone around them, bully, beat up, tease, harass, and hate all things not white, not Christian, and not American. Look how many times American trash slaughters black Humans! Chinese Humans! Irish Humans! Catholic Humans! Gypsy Humans! Do you see that happening in Europe? No! Do you see that happening in Africa? No! Do you see that happening in Asian? No! Just America, and not all of America, just Christians, and not all Christians, just white Christians. And you blame your violence, hate crimes, and murder on your god."

"So I can assume you had a bad run in with white, American Christians at some point?"

"Yes. Vilest things I've ever encountered. And they get worse in the future."

"That's right. You're not the Quaraun from this time period you said. Your a future Quaraun here in the past of your time, trying to change something."

"Yes."

"You know, for someone who claims to not show emotions, you seem to have a lot of pent up anger towards certain Humans. Isn't that you showing emotions?"

"We do not show our emotions with  mindless, simpleton frivolity, the way you retarded American white Humans do. Nor do we waste precious time telling jokes and lies."

"You know people call you Arabs terrorists for a reason, don't you. You can't go around saying things like that."

"Like what? Praising a none Christian god while we slit your filthy, vile, immoral American throats? I'm not a murderer or a terrorist, Ghirardelli. I'm a Di'Jinn Priest cleaning up the world of sex crazed immoral filth. If that means I have to kill every last white American Human to clean up this world and make it a decent, moral place worth living in again, than so be it. You kill my people on command by your Christian god, and my god tells me to protect my people from your god's immoral, sex crazed, child raping Christian army. If me doing the will of my god makes me a terrorist, what than are YOU, doing the will of your god, when your god tells you to invade my country and kill my people. My family is dead at the hands of your god's Christian followers, Ghirardelli. It IS my duty to execute every last person involved in murdering my family. I will see you all dead. Even you, Ghirardelli."

Quaraun paused, picked up his teacup and stared into it without taking a drink or saying a word. He stirred the tea, intently staring into the liquid less bottom of the whirlpool his stirring created. He sighed knowingly, then set the cup back down and continued talking, as he got up and returned back to the door of the tent.

"Nor are we sneaky, like you white American Humans. You knew I was a Di'Jinn before you came here didn't you?"

"No..."

Quaraun spun around and stood on tip toe to be able to look the woman in the eye.

"Don't lie to me madame. You worded that wish on purpose to get me away from the table."

"I didn't..." Ghirardelli stammered.

"You did."

"You are very short, aren't you?"

"Stop telling me what I already know."

"Well, you are. I'm not even tall and you barely come up to my shoulder. You're tiny."

"I am short. I know I am short. I don't need to be reminded that I'm shorter that everyone around me. Stop changing the subject. What did you put in my drink?"

"I don't know what you're talking about."

"Who sent you here?"

"No one."

"Don't lie to me, you filthy white American scumbag." Quaraun pulled out his dagger and pointed it at the old woman's face.

"I'm not."

"I'm not someone you want to cross, madame," Quaraun snarled through his teeth. "Finderu sent you didn't he?"

"No one sent me."

Ghirardelli backed away from Quaraun, looking around for a way to escape. The angry little Elf stood between her and the door of the tent, and small though he may be, he seemed fierce.

Vicious even.

She suspected that given the right mood, he could become violent. Was he not, after all rumoured to be the most deadly serial killer to ever walk the face of the earth? Every nation feared the very thought of Quaraun the Insane, precisely because of his extremely violent nature and the fact that he had killed so many people. And he didn't kill with magic.

No.

Though billed the world's most powerful mage, Quaraun was said to rarely ever use magic at all. He killed with the ruby hilted dagger that hung from his belt. Quaraun liked to get close to his victims, hold them tight against him, while he slit their throats, so he could feel the life drain from their bodies.

It was not for Quaraun's use of magic that people feared him, it was instead for his deadly skill at wielding the Elf Eater's dagger, which struck fear into the hearts of every man, woman, and child.

Ghirardelli felt that fear now, as she stared into the cold, lifeless icy-white-blue eyes, with the red veined pink pupils.

Quaraun's corpse like eyes terrified Ghirardelli most of all. There was no emotion in them.

No glint of life.

No twinkle.

No gleam.

They were the lifeless eyes of a dead Elf.

And was that not, what Quaraun was rumoured to be? Not just a Necromancer, but also, an Elf soul bound to a Lich, and himself turning into a Lich because of it.

Immortal.

Lifeless.

Not dead. But not alive either.

Undefeatable, because, he could not be killed, because he was already dead. An Elf, centuries older than any Elf had ever lived, because he was an Elf who could never die.

A male Elf, whose male lover had been ripped apart by an angry mob, centuries ago, surviving only a few days before killing himself to end the agonizing suffering he'd been left in.

An Elf, who had devoted his life to hunting down, not only every last person in the mob, but also their children, their grandchildren, their great-grand children.... every last relative he could find. Annihilate the entire bloodline of the people responsible for The Hanging Tree.

Ghirardelli was one of those people. She knew this. The Elf Eater had died nearly a thousand years ago, and someone in her ancestry had been there at The Hanging Tree. For centuries members of her family had been hunted by this Elf, The Pink Necromancer, Quaraun the Insane, who killed hundreds of her relatives, across hundreds of years, and was now standing face to face with her.

Ghirardelli had heard this rumour many times before. The rumour that Quaraun could not be caught, could not be stopped, could not be imprisoned, could not be killed, because he had long ago, transformed into a lich and was now the living dead.

She had never believed this rumour, but now, looking into the icy dead eyes of the necromancer himself, Ghirardelli had no doubt in her mind that the rumours were true. That Quaraun was dead. The Pink Necromancer was a wraith of some sort. A wraith with a physical body. A strange, new type of lich, something, not quite dead, but, not quite alive either.

"You tried to poison me," Quaraun said, his voice now lowered to a rabid, dog-like growl.

"No..." Ghirardelli.

"Do you really think you can kill me, madame?"

"I don't..."

"I can't die. I am immortal. I am soul bound to a lich. I am his phylactery. He lives in me. He and I are one being now. Two souls in one body. Your poison has no effect on me."

"I didn't..."

"You are devious and underhanded," Quaraun said in a derogatory and mockingly indirect way.

"I am neither devious nor underhanded."

"Yes. You are." 

"Why would you say that?"

"You KNEW I was a wish granting wizard. You knew that before you came here. You WROTE this wanted poster of me, and that is exactly how you described me. You made that wish on purpose, because you wanted to see what would happen."

"I'm not trying to upset you..."

"Why? Scared I'll do to you what I did to Gibedon?" Quaraun pulled Gibedon's head from his bag as he spoke. "Poooooor Gibedon. Poor, poor, sweet Gibedon. He done gone and lost his head. THIS is what I think of The Guild, Ghirardelli!"

Quaraun shook the dead mage's head in Ghirardelli's face.

"Gibedon thought he could beat me. Gibedon tried to fight me. Gibedon tried to kill me. Don't make Gibedon's mistakes, Ghirardelli. I have no qualms about adding your head next to his."

"I wasn't trying too..."

Quaraun shoved Gibedon's head back in his bag, pushed passed Ghirardelli, nearly knocking her over as he did, and stormed back to the far side of his tent, leaving  Ghirardelli, standing alone near the door.

She contemplated making a run for it, while the old wizard rummaged around in his boiling pots, but than thought better of it.

This was after all, The Pink Necromancer himself, Quaraun the Insane. Most feared and most powerful mage of all time. Defeating him, capturing him, killing him, any one of those things would land her the respect of the wizarding community, and she wanted that. She wanted that a lot.

Gingerly, Ghirardelli crossed the tent, to stand beside Quaraun and watch him work.

"What are you doing?" Ghirardelli asked the old pink robed Elf.

"Too stupid to leave?"

"What?"

"I gave you a chance to leave. Go. I don't feel like killing any one today. Go. I'll find you and kill you later."

"You're the greatest wizard of all time."

"So every one tells me."

"I could learn something from you."

"Really? What could a white magic, goody-two-shoes Guild member who sucks up to Finderu ever expect to learn from me, the closest thing to the boogie man there is?"

"I don't know. You were talking about helping people."

"Hhhhmm. Helping people is what I prefer to do."

"But you're a murderer. How do you justify that?"

"I only kill in self defence. Attack me and I'll lop your head off. Simple as that. Leave me in peace and I'll let you live. You send your little groups of adventures on a quest to defeat big bad mega boss super villain me and I'll explode the lot of them into dust, then resurrect them as nzambies to do my bidding. So, all you are doing is building my army a little bit more, every time you try to kill me."

Quaraun pulled out a map, folded it out onto the table and set about to eyeing it with a compass.

"What are you doing now?"

"Looking for BoomFuzzy," Quaraun answered without looking up at the woman.

"I thought you said he was dead?"

"He is. He's a lich."

"And you don't know where he is?"

"Nope."

"Why not?"

"I lost him. He got out of his bottle and ran away. Now I'm trying to find him. Hunting liches is never easy. But according to this map, he's nearby."

"According to this map? How can a map..."

"This is The Elf Eater's Enchanted Map."

"And?" 

"And this is why I hate women."

"What do you mean?" Ghirardelli asked. "What does any of this have to do with you hating women?"

"Women have an annoying need to fill every minute of the day with annoying excessive prattle."

"I do not prattle!"

"No? You have stopped prattling since you barged into my tent uninvited."

"Men were chasing me..."

"Will they seem to be gone now, so there is no reason for you to still be here, now is there?"

"But... well... it's not every day someone gets to talk to Quaraun the Insane, is it?"

"No. And I'm not insane, so stop calling me that."

"Everyone calls you that."

"I can't choose what idiots of the world call me? But I can kick you out of my tent if you don't stop calling me that."

"Tell me about your map."

"Why?"

"Something to do?"

"Why does your needing something do equate to me needing to talk?"

"What's wrong with talking?"

"Nothing, when I have someone intelligent to talk to."

"Are you calling me stupid?"

"Yes."

"Why are you so mean?"

"Why?" The immensely unhappy Elf looked up at the women. "Probably because not one single solitary person has ever been kind to me, not once in my entire life. Other than BoomFuzzy and you all decided to kill him for it. So I don't have any reason to be anything other than mean to all of you."

"I didn't kill your lover. You don't have to take out all your aggression on me."

"No?"

"No. I'm trying to be civil to you and you act like you're ready to bite my head off for no reason, whatsoever."

"No reason whatsoever?"

"No!" Ghirardelli insisted. "None!"

"Madame, you have an odd definition of no reason whatsoever."

"What reason do you have for not being civil to me?"

"I WAS civil to you. I let you stay here out of the rain and served you tea. There is not one Human back in that town down there who would have done so much. They all want you dead."

"And you're being hostile now."

"Am I?"

"Yes. Listen to the tone in your voice. You've become very aggressive."

"Have I not reason to be?"

"No."

"No?"

"By what logic do you say that?"

"By the logic I haven't done anything. By the logic you are nothing but a grouchy old man, with a bone to pick with everyone. You hate the world. You hate society. When was the last time you were even part of society?"

"Society cast me out. I'm not welcomed in society. Every time I try to be part of society, I get bullied, harassed. teased, lynched, dragged behind horses, and hung in trees."

"Not everyone is like that."

"No?"

"You jut have to find the right society, is all."

"Oh, that's all is it? And WHERE do you suggest I do that? I've spent the last nine hundred years looking for a place to settle down. That what I HAVE been doing. There is not a country on this planet that I have not visited. All seven continents. Hundreds of countries. Thousands of cities. And it's the same thing every where I go. You fucking Humans are all alike. Bigoted. Prejudiced. Racist assed pricks."

"You should try living with non-Humans..."

"I did that. I used to do that. But where do you suggest I find any non-Humans these days? Hmmm? The Humans killed them all. You bastards killed the Dwarves and the Gnomes and the Elves and the Unicorns and the Trolls and the Hal-flings and the Merrows and and Dryads and the Demons and the Faeries. There are no non-Humans left. You jackasses slaughter everything you see. Even each other! Look at the wars!"

"There's always wars..." Ghirardelli pointed out.

"Exactly. Humans slaughtering Humans, for no reason at all other than you just can't get enough bloodshed. You creatures are the vilest filth ever to walk the face of the Earth."

"Most would say that Demons were..."

"More evil than Humans? Bah. Nothing is more evil that Humans."  

Quaraun waved his hand in the air, indicating he didn't want to hear anything else, then returned to examining his map. After a few moments he began sputtering to himself, more raving than anything else.

"I'm sick of it. I'm sick of tending stab wounds and mending broken bones. I'm sick of fractures and split lips. There isn't a bone in my body that hasn't been broken more than once. I'm covered in scars. And for what? For nothing. Absolutely nothing. I stay in my house and mind my own business, and jackass busybodies gather in hoards, chatting Bible verses, praising the Lord, calling me a witch, and burn my house to the ground with me in it. Why? Because I had a male lover, that's why. No other reason. Not one damned other reason. Well, they can all burn in hell." 

"People don't understand you, because you're a hermit."

"As are you, madame. And look at how they treat you. You of all people should know what my life is like. They do the same damned fucking thing to you."

"Mages are a dying breed. Even Human mages like me are rare these days."

"And you're okay with that?"

"No. But wat can we do?"

"We can rise up and fight back. That's what we ca do."

"You and what army? You really want to take on the entire Human race?"

"I'm a necromancer." 

"I don't see how that is going to be very useful in fighting society," Ghirardelli said.

"It'd take me meer minutes to resurrect every dead corpse on the planet. Tens of billions of Humans, non-Humans, birds, plants, animals, fish, trees. You think the world could stop me if I really set out to wipe the Humans off the face of the Earth?"

"I think, you are more insane than the rumours say you are."

"And I think you have overstayed your welcome."

"You want me to leave?"

"Yes."

"Why?"

"Why? WHY? You made a frivolous wish, for something stupidly idiotic, just to see what would happen, and get me away from the table, so you could spike my tea with poison. You tried to kill me, not five minutes ago, and now you expect me to be civil to you? I ought to wring your neck is what I ought to do. I WAS being civil to you and you muffed it. Now get out of my tent."

"What if I don't leave?"

"I said get out!"

"Make me."

"I hate women."

"You said that."

"Yes, and you are reminding me why I hate them so much."

"You're not going to make me leave are you?"

"Why must I?"

"It's raining out there. Would you really send a poor old women out in the rain by her lonesome?"

"You are annoying me."

"I don't think you are mean enough to throw me out into the rain."

"You're right. I'm not."

"So, now what?"

"How about, you sit down, shut up. drink your poisoned tea, and let me get some work down. I have places to go and liches to build and you are interrupting me doing both."

"It that what the map does?"

"What?"

"The Elf Eater's map. You said it was enchanted."

"Yes. I did. It is."

"So, tell me about it."

"I have no reason to tell you about anything."

"What if I could help you?"

"You don't even know what I'm doing."

"Well, tell me what you are doing so I can tell you if I can help you."

"Did I ask for your help?"

"No. But..."

"Than stop offering it."

"Why?"

"Because you are a female and I hate females. And you are a Human and I hate Humans."

"I don't think you hate either," Ghirardelli stated.

"Really? How did you come to that conclusion?"

"By the fact that you haven't done anything to throw me out of your tent yet. I think you are lonely and want company and are going to let me stay here for as long as I want, just so you don't have to be by yourself."

"You're not going to leave are you?"

"Nope. So you might as well tell me about that map of yours."

"It's not my map, it's The Elf Eater's map."

"Okay. So what does it do?"

"It leads any one carrying it to his location."

"I thought he was dead?"

"He is."

"Well, don't you know where he's buried? You were with him when he died, weren't you? Isn't that what people say?"

"He wasn't buried."

"Why not?"

"I put him in a bottle, for resurrecting later."

"Resurrecting? The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley?"

"Yes." 

“You’re going to resurrect him?”

“Yes. I am currently in the process of resurrecting him, right now. That is precisely why I have come here to Pepper Valley.”

“But, isn’t the Elf Eater the leader of The Lich Lords?”

“No.”

“He’s not?”

“No.”

“Who is then, if not The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, who then, huh?”

“You silly Human, I am the leader of the Lich Lords.”

“You are?”

“Yes. I am the necromancer who built them. Do you not remember who I am?”

“So you command liches?”

“Of course. I am a necromancer, remember? The Pink Necromancer? I am the one who builds all the many vast armies of liches? I thought you knew all about me?”

“But still, I thought, at least I’ve always heard, well, isn’t the Elf Eater already a Lich?”

“Yes. And also no. You see, he is a normal lich. Meaning that he possesses merely a not solid, incorporeal, ghostly wraith form. He has no physical body.”

“And you want to change that?”

“Yes.”

“Why would anyone in their right mind want to do such a horrible thing?”

“We are lovers, he and I.”

“Are? Not were?”

“Yes. Are, not were. It is considerably challenging to conduct a visceral liaison with someone who is not in possession of a visceral body.”

“Oh. Yes. I can see how something like that would be a problem.” Ghirardelli wondered what visceral meant, but she dared not ask Quaraun the meaning of his words, for fear of angering him.

“This is especially problematic for a chef, who is more in love with food than he is anything else.”

“Is it?”

“Yes.”

“Who’s a chef?”

“BoomFuzzy.”

“Oh.”

“You have no clue about anything I’m saying to you, do you?”

“Kind of. No. Not really.”

“Liches can’t eat food and BoomFuzzy was a chef who devoted his life to endless food. It is absolute, eternal hell for him to live without a physical body, that can not consume food. So I built him a golem.”

“A golem? What’s that?”

"You don't know what a golem is?"

"No."

"Really?" Quaraun's suspicions were on the rise now,, as he had only moments ago shown her the Unicorn ice golem. 

"Why would I know what a golem is?"

“A golem," Quaraun explained. "Is an effigy that can be brought to life, a physical body that he can possess. But now I have to find him, to put his wraith body into the golem, so he can live a normal life again.”

“So, you are trying to bring The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley back to life?”

“Yes. I already told you that a little while ago.”

“Why?”

“Why not?”

“What do you mean, why not?” In her mind, Ghirardelli could not think of a more horrible thought than the idea that someone was attempting to resurrect The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley.

“We are lovers. I still love him. He still loves me. We seek to be reunited with one another.”

“But... how... how can you love someone like

 like

 well, like him?”

"You seem to think him not deserving of love."

"No. A man like him. Murderer. Rapist. How can you stand him?"

"He was my friend. And to me, he was nothing but kindness. I know the world hates him and rejoices in his death, saying he was evil, but I never saw that side of him. The world saw him in a very different light than I did."

"I'll say. He's the most evilest evil of all evils to ever exist."

"I thought you said that title belonged to me."

"No. You are the evilest evil currently alive?"

"You consider me to be alive? How droll."

"Aren't you?"

"No."

"No?"

"No. Quaraun, the Elf, he died some nine hundred or so years ago."

"Uhm... but you are, standing right here in front of me."

"What? You mean this Elf body? Oh. No. I have no idea what this Elf's name was. I am the Sacred Pink Jelly Fish."

"The Sacred... wait... the Thullid Elder God?"

"Yes. The Thullid Elder Brain. I ate this Elf's brain centuries ago, to make room in his skull for me to live in it. I animate his corpse and walk among you, the imposter that I am. Used to blend in back when Elves were everywhere, but now that Elves are extinct, I stick out like a sore thumb. Logic would dictate that I get myself a new host to live in, retire this body, but look at him. He was beautiful."

"I'm confused."

"The only problem with this body is every one wants to have sex with it and we Thullids did away with the need for sex millennias ago. I do get so tired of how sex crazed you Humans are. Elves at least showed some restraint. But you Humans just want to fuck everything that moves, wither it wants to be fucked by you or not. Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. Rape. It's all your Human men ever put any effort into doing. You creatures are so disgusting."

"I'm sorry... are you an Elf or a Thullid?"

"Both. I'm a Thullid living in the reanimated corpse of a dead Elf's body."

"And you're a lich?" Ghirardelli asked.

"No," Quaraun answered, sounding deeply annoyed. 

"Than why do people say that you are?"

"Because people are stupid."

"That doesn't answer my question."

Quaraun sighed. This woman was annoying him to no end.

"I'm soul bound to a lich."

"Why would you bind your soul to a lich?"

"I didn't."

"But you said..."

"I said I am soul bound to a lich, not that I bound my soul to a lich."

"How is it different?"

"He wasn't a lich when we bound our souls together."

"Oh. So... How does one become soul bound to a lich?" 

"We cut our souls in half, back while he was still alive."

"Is cutting souls in half even possible?"

"Yes. Obviously. We did it, didn't we?"

"I don't know." 

"Well we did. Half his soul is in my body and half my soul is in his body. And than decades later when he commit suicide in a lich making ritual, the spell didn't work because he wasn't in possession of both halves of his soul. Now I am half lich and he is stuck in between lich and dead. I'm trying to correct that. Make him into the lich he wanted to be, and free myself of becoming a lich with him."

"So you're a lich hunter?"

"Sort of."

"So, if you're a Necromancer, than, what was all that earlier with the cats and dogs falling out of the sky? What's that go to do with necromancy."

"Before I became a necromancer I was a Di'Jinn. A wish granting wizard. Somehow, the spell BoomFuzzy did, that caused me to become part lich, also caused me to have an unexplained energy field around me, that causes wishes to happen exactly as people word them. So when you wished for raining cats and dogs, the hurricane outside, stopped raining water on us and started raining cats and dogs on us."

"That's not possible."

"It most certainly is. You saw it with your own eyes."

"It had to be an illusion," Ghirardelli insisted. 

"Why has it to be?"

"Or a hallucination, maybe."

"I assure you madame, it was real."

"You can't grant wishes like that. That's just stuff from fairy tales."

"Just because you Humans are incapable of telling the truth on any level whatsoever, does not mean that this is a problem, I myself have. You seem to have forgotten that I am not Human. We Elves neither think nor act in the same you do, so do not expect us to. Your degraded, immoral, barbaric culture leaves you crude and lacking in any level of dignity or self respect. Do not expect me to devolve myself to your levels of evolutionary stupidity.”

“Yeah, well, okay, but you were acting like wish granting was real. I mean, come on.”

“You do not believe in wishes?” Quaraun mocked being horrified.

“Do you?”

“I am Quaraun. The Pink Necromancer. I am a wizard of the Di’Jinn Order. Granting wishes is what we do.” Quaraun picked up his teacup again and stared at it than set it back down again. "But of course you knew that."

“Oh. Like, really?”

“Yes. Really.”

“For real?”

“Yes.”

“You grant wishes?”

“Yes.”

“But aren’t you a Necromancer?”

“I am.”

“So, how exactly does granting wishes mix with being a Necromancer?”

“Not well, I’m afraid. We are lucky it was normal cats and dogs just now."

"Are there any other types?"

"Yes. It could have been Zombie cats and Vampire dogs."

"Seriously?"

"Yes. Thus why I recommend you get better at guarding your words and thinking more carefully before you speak." 

"So, like how you make food appear out of thin air?"

"Yes. Exactly that."

"So you are saying that, the energy around you, is so powerfully effected by you, that is I wish for something, that something will just appear, without you even doing anything to make it appear?"

"Yes."

"And not only that, but, because you are a necromancer, things that appear out of nowhere around you, end up being undead?"

"Yes."

"And you expect me to believe that?"

"Well, not most Humans, no. But, you? Yes."

"Why me? Why would you possibly think that I am any different from anyone else who would call this nonsense all smoke and mirrors?"

"I don't know, maybe I thought that because you came in here to disturb my sleep with some cock and bull story about men chasing you for a cursed sword? P.S.: Your sword shouldn’t be talking to you. If it does, please return it to the store immediately for a refund or replace it. I'll take it off your hands if you don't want it. I could find uses for a soul eating sword that talks."

"It's supposed to talk," Ghirardelli said, trying to sound calmer than she felt and hoping the old wizard did not sense how scared she was of him.

"Really?"

"It's a cursed sword."

"Like a cursed box."

"What?"

“I locked my memories into a memory box,” Quaraun pulled said box out of his bag of holding and showed it to her. The little glass vials tickled around inside it.

“And you threw away the key,” Ghirardelli said, anticipating the end of his sentence.

“No.” Quaraun stared at her, perplexed. “Why would I do that?”

“I don’t know.”

“You are a very strange woman.”

“You are a very strange man.”

“I’m not a man. I’m an Elf.”

“Okay. Yeah. Sure. Whatever.”

“No. Not whatever. It is what IS. I am most certainly not a man, I am an Elf. Pure-blooded. A rare thing these days. Feels like ninety percent of the Elves I meet any more are half-Elves or quarter-Elves or less.”

“Quarter-Elves? Is that a thing?”

“Yes. If you have Elf blood, no matter how little there may be, you still classify as an Elf and Elves would be not so arrogant as to hate the mongrels will always welcome anyone with even minimal Elf blood into their home.”

“So, not you.”

“How do you mean?”

“You’re one of those arrogant hoity-toities what is too pure blooded to help a half-Elf.”

“Too arrogant? Me? I’m not arrogant at all!”

Ghirardelli stifled a laugh. “Not arrogant? You!”

“Do you think I am?”

“Well, yeah.”

“I assure you I am not. Clearly you’ve never met an Elf before.”

“Nope. I have not. You are the first. Elves are rather rare you know.”

“I am outcast by my people. Shunned. Do you know why? I had a non-Elf lover.”

“Really?”

“Yes. We already established that."

"Did we?"

"I'm The Elf Eater's lover."

"So?"

"Do you not know what the Elf Eater was?"

"A psychotic madman, from everything I ever heard."

"A psychotic madman? How dare you."

 "You think otherwise?"

"Of course I do. I knew him. I lived with him. I loved him. I still love him. He was my friend. I miss him."

"And you say he wasn't an Elf?"

"No. He was not."

"What was he?"

"A Faerie." 

"A Faerie can mean a lot. What exactly do you mean, when you say Faerie? There are like a few thousand types of Faeries aren't there?"

"Yes. There are."

"So?"

"So? What?"

"So what type of Faeries was he?"

"The Elf Eater?"

"Yes!"

"A Phooka. And half-Human."

"Half Human? The Elf Eater was a Human?"

"I didn't know that."

"Few people do. I don't think he ever told any one outside of me and Gibedon."

"Yes. And not white."

"Really?" Ghirardelli asked. "Does that matter?"

"In Human society? Yes. You white Humans are racist prick who hate ever black, brown, red, yellow, grey, blue person you see. Death to all none whites is ever your battle cry. He was black and Asian combined. It made him doubly evil in your piss ant white dominated society."

"You don't like white people."

"No. White people are fine. I don't like white HUMANS. That's different. But than, it's white Human religion that is the problem."

"How so?"

"Elves got a hold of a Christian Bible and it corrupted Elf society. Elves started using it's teaches as an excuse to kill all non-whites, the same way Humans did. Before long, most black or brown skinned Elves had been killed by white skinned Elves, simply because that's what the Bible god says to do in his Bible."

"So, white Elves started acting like white Humans?"

"Yes. And it became worse, when they found out I was with BoomFuzzy."

"Why?"

"He was not only a male, and not an Elf, but he was also an Asian with black skin."

"Asian and black? And half-Human to boot?"

"Yes."

"How's that happen?"

"His father was black, half-Welsh-Phooka, half-Dahomey-Human and mother was half-Human-quarter-Mongolian-quarter-Japanese, and half-Aswag. So he was a black Asian, Welsh, Human, Aswag, Phooka mix."

"Aswag? What's that?"

"a type of Faerie from South Pacific. Basically a shape-shifter that likes to terrorize horney teen aged boys by turning into a disembodied head with a giant pair of boobs hanging off her back."

"Wait... you mean a hag?"

"Yes."

"An actual Hag?"

"Yes."

"Like wat people around here accuse me of being?"

"Yes. Exactly that."

"You know, I've never seen a real Hag before."

"Yes. They are kind of rare."

"So, the Elf Eater was, a little bit of each of a lot of different things, than, right?"

"Yes. And it made him mean."

"Why?"

"Because no one accepted him."

"There had to be a reason."

"No. There wasn't. Outside of racism, there was no reason why anyone ever did anything to him."

"Well, from what I know of The Elf Eater, he was a warrior who crowned himself king and went on a mass murdering spread across the globe, conquering nations, raping everyone, razed villages, burned everything to the ground, and he didn't make any distinction of who should live or die, because he just killed every man, woman, and child or every race, nation, species, and creed. He killed for the fun of it, because he liked to watch people suffer. He was pure evil."

"BoomFuzzy was not evil," Quaraun interrupted her. "The man I knew was very kind and gentle. He had more compassion than the average Human."

"That's not how everyone describes him," Ghirardelli insisted. "The Elf Eater was a cold, heartless killer. Anyone who crossed his path was brutally murdered, ripped apart, raped to death, than eaten. He was a total monster in the truest form of the word."

"BoomFuzzy was not a monster." 

"Do you deny that he did those things?"

"If he did those things, than he did them before I met him, because he never did anything like that while we were living together. And I knew him better than anyone."

"So you are saying he wasn't a murdering, serial rapist, cannibal, like every one says he was?"

Quaraun shook his head. "No. I didn't say he didn't do those things. I said I never saw him do those things, and he wasn't doing stuff like that while we were living together. I don't know what he did when he was younger or before I met him."

"He was evil before you met him."

"He was not evil."

"How do you know?"

"I am soul bound to him. I feel every emotion he does. I know every thought he thinks. I remember his memories."

"Can soul binding do that?"

"Yes. And he wasn't evil. e was sad. Lonely. And depressed. and unwanted by everyone. He had no one. His parents abandoned him when he was a small boy. Left him to die. He was sick. Half starved. Half frozen. In the dead of winter, when and elderly Elf found him and took care of him. The Elf was a mage who lived in a gingerbread house. Took care of the boy, taught him how to cook cookies and pastries and candy and ginger bread. The Elf was evil. Used Human children for ingredients. Ground their bones up into flour. And than one day tried to eat the boy. The boy fought back and killed the old Elf. And than ate him. Discovered he had a fetish for the taste of Elf blood, so took over the gingerbread house and used it to lure Elf children. Started cooking Elves, and became known as The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. He lived here in Pepper Valley for centuries."

"I never knew that."

"Not a lot of people did. BoomFuzzy didn't talk much."

"You don't seem to talk much either."

"I rarely have anyone to talk to. No one ever wants to talk to me. Most people are quick to attack on sight. No one ever gives me a chance to talk."

We meet. He was going to kill me, but by that time he was elderly, sick, and wounded. He couldn't kill me, as he was too weak from his injuries. I didn't realize who he was or that he had tried to kill me. I found him, saw him as old, elderly, hurt, sick, and in need of care. I took him in, nursed him back to health, and when he was well again, he left. We meet again a few years later. He was going to kill me but recognized me and spared me. And we meet a 3rd time, after that and became friends. Became lovers after that. We lived together for 30 years."

"Only thirty years?"

"Yes."

"So you weren't with him very long than?"

"No."

"The way people tell it, I thought you two were together for centuries."

"No. He died only a few decades after we met." 

"So you never knew him when he was the war lord, warrior king killing every one?"

"No. He did that hundreds of years before I was even born. I told you. I never saw the evil man, people describe him as. I only knew the elderly man, from many years later. And than my people found out I had a male lover, and went psychotic on us. Nearly killed the both of us. I healed. He didn't. His wounds became infected and he killed himself rather than suffer in agony any longer."

"But your people must have been terrified. You brought The Elf Eater into their village and they were Elves."

"Yes. They were. They were so full of fear, but I..." 

"Did you not think they would be upset?"

"If you would stop interrupting me, you'd know what I was saying. I did not bring him to the village. I met him there. He moved in and was there a few days before I met him. And that is different. Quite different than my bringing him there. You really, should learn to be more careful with your words."

"But, you're an Elf and he eats Elves. You should have been scared too."

"I know. But I wasn't. He didn't scare me even in the slightest."

"Why not?"

"I told you, I can see people's auras. His aura was blue and purple and peaceful. He meant us no harm. I could see it in his aura."

"And the other other Elves couldn't see it?"

"They could not."

"Why were you to only Elf who could see it?"

"Because I am not an Elf. I told you already: I am the Sacred Pink Jelly Fish, last of the Elder Brains. I only wear this Elf's body like a coat."

"So, you are a Thullid?"

"Yes."

"And seeing auras is a Thullid thing, not an Elf thing?"

"It is."

"And because of the aura thing, you were not scared of The Elf Eater, because you saw no threat from him?"

"Exactly."

"So you're saying he wasn't evil."

"No. I'm saying, he was not intending to harm us."

"Did you tell them that?"

 "I tried to explain he had changed. He wasn't the warrior he had been in his youth. He was an old man. Much changed from the villain of his youth. But they did not believe me. They refused to even try to get to know him. They deemed him evil. Faeries are below any other race in the minds of most Elves. To lower myself to bed with a Faerie. It was unthinkable. They castrated me. Tortured me. Dragged me for miles, stripped naked, and tied to the hooves of a team of horses. Used metal garden claws to slice the skin off my back. Broke my legs and my arms and my ribs. Than hung me by my ankles in a tree, for three weeks, while the villagers threw rocks at me, shoved branches up my arse, up my dick, and stabbed forks into my arms and belly. Strangers. My neighbours. My friends. My family. Even my own father - he’s the one who castrated me."

"Are you a eunuch?"

"Yes. I am. They all turned on me. Took turns beating me and hitting me, stabbing me and slicing me, while hung upside down, naked in the tree, unable to fight back. Flies came and laid eggs in my wounds. Maggots hatched out and ate my flesh, wriggled under my skin."

"That's horrible."

"It was."

"You wasn't a necromancer back than, was you?"

"No. I was not. I was a 'good' mage back than. A member of The Guild even. No dark arts. No necromancy."

“So, you turned to necromancy because you suffered a broken heart and you wanted your lover back?”

“Yes. His death devastated me. And every one said I must be evil, if I could love something as evil as him. It was why they tortured me. That event forced me to necromancy. After I finally escaped, it took months to heal. Years to fully recover. My body is marred with scars. Some pains never went away. The bones in my limbs still ache. The pain in my joints flairs up with every variation of weather. All because I fell in love, with someone they deemed not respectable enough for my social standing. I was the crown prince, you know?”

“I didn’t know.”

“I am The Grand High Emperor of the Triple Planets now.”

“Triple Planets? What’s the Triple...”

“But look at me,” Quaraun ignored her question and continued babbling. He informed no one what the triple planets were, and he didn’t plan to do so now. “Do I LOOK like an emperor to you?”

“No, you...”

“No. I don’t. And do you know why I don’t?”

“No, I...”

“Because I don’t want to be a king.”

“Why not?”

“I wanted to be a fashion designer. I wanted to weave silk. And what did I do? I wove silk. And they didn’t like it, did they?”

“I don’t kno...”

“Of course you don’t know. You, weren’t there. You have no clue. That’s why YOU are evil.”

“I’m evil?”

“Yes.”

“How am I evil?”

“Because, like a sly snake in the grass, you judge me without even knowing me.”

“How did I...”

“How? How?”

“Yes. How? You tell me.”

“Do I really need to?”

“Apparently, you do.”

“You have no clue what you possibly could have done to establish yourself as a sneaky snake?”

“Nope.”

“Are you really that stupid?”

“You’ve gone from calling me a snake to calling me stupid.”

“I am here minding my own business. Living in my tent, pitched on the side of the roadway, walking for miles every day, no destination, no ambition, no goal, just walking wheresoever the road takes me. Weaving silk. Embroidering silk. Selling silk at random marketplaces as I go on my merry way to nowhere at all. You wouldn’t know I was the emperor over all Elves, now would you? Living the life of a homeless, wandering vagabond. A merchant peddling wares. A wandering wizard for hire. No one remembers I am the Elven King. Why would they? I certainly don’t live a kingly life.”

“Every snake must slither out of the water sometime.”

“Are you calling me a snake?”

“I most certainly am.”

“Why would you...”

“Why? Because, you deceived me, like some sneaky, slimy, slithering snake! That’s why.”

“Did I?”

“I came in here because I thought you would help me!”

“No. You came in here to hide. Hide from men chasing you. You said as much. Also, you said you thought I was a woman and would disguise you and say you had been here with me all along.”

“I did but... you... I didn’t...”

“You know that’s what you did,” Quaraun wouldn’t give her a chance to talk. He interrupted everything she tried to say. “Don’t deny it.”

“I wasn’t...”

“I hate liars,” Quaraun continued to not let her get a word in edge-wise.

“I didn’t...”

“I despise liars as extreme as I hate bullies.” Quaraun continued. “And I won’t think twice about slitting your throat if you lie to me.”

“Will you let me talk!” Ghirardelli yelled.

The old woman, raising her voice, took the old Elf by surprise momentarily. He stopped talking and stared at her, blinking, looking as though he’d forgotten she was there and only just remembered he was actually talking to someone, rather than to himself.

“All right,” Quaraun said quietly. “What is it you want to say?”

“You are an evil super villain.”

“Am I?”

“Aren’t you?”

“I have a hard time seeing myself as evil or a villain or super. Although I do like soup. BoomFuzzy made wonderful soup. But that’s beside the point. Pray tell, how do you think I am an evil super villain?”

“Everyone knows that’s what you are.”

“Well then, everyone doesn’t know shit, do they? Do you always listen to rumours and gossip, let people drag you around by a ring in your nose?”

“You’re the one with a ring in your nose.”

“I have three rings in my nose. My nipples are pierced too."

"Why would you pierce your nipples?"

"So I can shoot fireballs from them."

"Shoot... fireballs... from your nipples?"

"Yes."

"Can you really do that?"

"I can."

"Why would you want to?"

"I have many centuries each in many lifetimes. I get bored and think up new spells."

"Like shooting fireballs for your nipples?"

"Exactly. I make enchanted, magically endowed jewellery. I have rings that shoot fireballs and rings that shoot lightening and rings that shoot ice. I should invent milk producing rings, so men can nurse babies."

"Can you do that?"

"I don't know. I'll have to try it and find out."

"You've got some kind of piercing fetish, don't you?"

"Oh yes. I've more in my scrotum.”

“I don’t think I wanted to know that.”

“There are 48 rings in my scrotum.”

“Again, not information I wanted to know.”

“And as many more in my foreskin.”

"I didn't want to know that either. And I thought you were a eunuch?"

"They drove three daggers up my penis and split it in half, lengthwise. I sewed it back together and used gold rings to hide the scars. So many scars. My whole belly is scars. And my thighs. And my groin."

Quaraun sighed a heavy sigh, put his mirror away and sat down on his pile of pink stripped pillows once again.

"They scarred me for life and you call ME evil for defending myself. You have a twisted sense of logic. But than on top of that, YOU are the one carrying an evil sword and running from a group of men and asking me, who call an evil super villain, for help. There's some irony, yes?"

"It's not meer men who are after me."

"No?"

"No!"

"What are they than?"

"They consider themselves gods."

"Gods? Haha." Quaraun chuckled at the thought.

"You think that's funny?"

"Yes, actually I do."

"Why?"

"Well, because I AM a god."

"You really believe that don't you?"

"I don't have to believe it. I know it." 

Quaraun busied himself with refilling their teacups. Ghirardelli watched and wondered why it was a god would need to drink tea.

"You're a god?"

"Yes. I am"

"A god who wears pink and sits around drinking tea in a tent?"

"Yes."

"Aren't you on the run from the Guild?"

"Yes. I am."

"Well, how can you be a god than?"

"What do you mean?"

"Gods don't have to run. You could just kill them all."

"I don't like killing. I avoid killing when necessary. However, I do kill the Guild whenever one gets close enough to be a threat to me."

"I'm a Guild member."

"I know."

"Are you going to kill me?"

"Do you still think I look old?"

"What's that got to do with it?"

"Quite a lot."

"I don't understand."

"Of course you don't. You're a stupid little Human who won't live long enough to learn anything, even if you live the full extent of your natural life."

"Instead of calling me stupid, why don't you just explain yourself?"

"Beauty is a matter of great importance to me."

"And?"

"And I do whatever I have to to maintain my entherial beauty."

"Really?"

"Really. I surround myself with beautiful things. I maintain my own beauty. I dislike things that are ugly. When I find things which are ugly, I make them beautiful or I remove them from my life."

"Would you kill someone just because they were ugly?"

"No. But I wouldn't subject myself to their presence either."

"Ugly people need friends, too."

"Sure they do. But that doesn't mean I need to be one of them, now does it?"

"You are as ugly on the inside as you are beautiful on the outside. You know that right?"

"You are not the first person to tell me. Nor will you be the last. I am not easy to get along with. I know that. It is why I live alone."

"Are you going to help me?"

"Perhaps. What is it you need help with?"

"The men who are after me."

"Are they?"

"Yes!"

"Why than has no one arrived looking for you?"

"What?"

"You've been here half the day talking with me and yet, no one has arrived looking for you. You said they were on your tail. That implies they were right behind you. Where are they?"

"I... I don't know?"

"Were they really after you?"

"Of course they were."

"Why than are they not here?"

"You don't believe me, do you?"

"Is there any reason why I should?"

"There was a group of men chasing me..."

"Yes. So you have said."

"They were after my sword..."

"You have told me, but where are they now?"

"I don't know."

“If they consider themselves gods, then the solution is that we become god-killers, yes?”

“Wait, you mean, like, we should kill them?”

“Me? No. You? Yes.”

“Are you telling me to kill them?”

“Yes.”

"Why?"

"They are YOUR problem, not mine."

“But that’s just, just...”

“Evil?”

“Yes!”

“Well, I suppose now I can see why it is that you consider me to be an evil super villain.”

"Is your first thought always to kill?"

"Is your first thought always to run?"

"Women don't fight. That's a man's job."

"Well, than, perhaps you should get the help of a man."

"But you're..."

"I'm an Elf and you're a bitch."

"How dare you! You know nothing about me! What right have you to judge me?"

"The same right you have to judge me without knowing me either. What goes around comes around. Don't judge me if you don't want me to judge you back."

"You're asking me to kill people."

"You're assuming I will kill them for you, but ma'am, I am not a killer. It is YOU who has bloody thoughts in your heart, but you didn't want to sully your hands, so you thought to hire me to kill for you, because you are willing to believe rumours over facts."

Quaraun paused and picked up his teacup once again. Once again staring down into it.

“You know," he said. "Killing people prophylactically is not a slippery slope, it is a sheer drop.”

"Prophylactically?"

"Yes."

"What's that mean?"

"You don't know?"

"No."

"I thought you were a mage?"

"I am."

"Are you not a swamp witch?"

"I am."

"And yet you don't know how to kill prophylactically?"

"No."

"Interesting."

"You imply I should know?"

"To kill someone prophylactically, means you make potions to help them, cure them, heal them, but knowingly make it wrong so that it poisons them instead. A healer who peddles herbs to cure all ills, but secretly, kills her enemies by slipping poisons into their tonics and elixirs. Is that not your specialty, Ghirardelli, murderer of many?"

"I am no murderer!"

"No? Are you sure?" Quaraun quietly stirred his tea as he stared, unblinking at Ghirardelli. "Tell me, Ghirardelli, when was the last time Finderu asked you to kill me?"

"I don't..."

"Don't lie to me. You're not good at it." Quaraun drank his tea. All of it. All at once. "Also, I'm in the habit of drinking poisons. My lover died from drinking poison and I've spent 400 years drinking poisons trying to die with him. It seems, because he and I were soul bound and he became a Lich, that I am now immortal on some level and putting poison in my tea has no effect on me. So. Now that, that didn't work, now, how are you going to try to kill me?"

"I... uhm..."

"No words? Pity."

Quaraun refilled his teacup.

"You don't know much about me do you? Poisons are somewhat of a specialty of mine. And you are too trusting, dear sweet, Ghirardelli."

"How so?"

"You are an apothecary. A potion mixer. And I knew this before I met you, but even if I hadn't, it would have been easy to guess by the stains on your fingers and skirts. Why exactly do you think I served you tea?"

"Because you drink tea at strange hours of the day."

"Because I wanted to see what you would do to my drink. And you did exactly what I thought you would do."

"And what are you going to do about it?"

"Not a damned thing... yet."

"Yet?"

"You tried to kill me and failed. That means number one, you're my enemy. Number two, I now hold something over you. Number three, you're an incompetent idiot, so I can't use you for anything useful. But I WILL think of something. You can be sure of that. Sooner or later, you will be useful to me and than I'll come to you and you WILL help me, whether you want to or not."

“Are you forgetting something?”

“Am I?”

“You're a killer for hire, aren’t you? An assassin mage.”

Quaraun scoffed at this. “Whatever gave you that idea?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe all the tens of thousands of people you’ve killed.”

“Have I killed that many?”

“Not denying you kill people for hire?”

“Oh, no, you are mixed up there. I’ve killed no one for hire. I don’t like killing people. I avoid it when possible. I’m not an assassin.”

“But you’ve killed tens of thousands of people.”

“Yes. It’s possible.”

“So, you’ve killed a lot of people, but you don’t know how many?”

“I think so.”

“How do you not know?”

“Probably the same way I didn’t know people like you thought of me as an evil super villain.”

“Meaning?”

“You don’t know world well do you?”

“I would think I do.”

“Do you know about portals and wormholes and rips in the fabric of time? Do you know that our world as we know it is just one of many that exist in this exact same spot all at once, and many versions of each of us, you, me, everyone else, exist in these worlds?”

“You’re talking about an inter dimensional multiverse.”

“Yes. And I’m not sure which world I came from, which world I belong in, or what my correct time is.”

“What do you mean?”

“My Elf body, Quaraun, he when and where he belongs, but my Thullid body is from many thousands of years in his future and also from a different dimension ad from an entirely different planet in and different solar system. I am in my wrong place and wrong time and forced to live inside the body of a host in order to survive on this planet, and so Quaraun should not have died, because I shouldn’t be living in him. I shouldn’t be on this planet at all. And that’s the problem.”

“Okay, but I cannot see what any of this has to do with you being a mass murdering serial killer?”

“I’m not.”

“Not? Not what?”

“I’m not a serial killer.”

“What do you mean, not a serial killer? Haven’t you killed a lot of people?”

“Yes. I have killed people. But killing someone and murdering someone differs greatly from one another.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. You can kill someone by accident without ever having intended to harm them, whereas murder takes a well-plotted calculation, and then there is death by self defence, where you are scared for your life and kill out of pure gut reaction. Serial killer implies I make a habit of intentionally murdering people.”

“So you are saying that you don’t intentionally murder people?”

“No. I don’t.”

“But you’ve mass murdered entire cities. Killed tens of thousands. You’re famous for the sheer numbers of deaths you have caused.”

“Ah! But there even you have said a difference in terms, yes? Yes, I have killed tens of thousands, I think. I’m uncertain about the number, but if I had to guess, tens of thousands does sound about right. But murdered entire cities? No. That I have not done."

"But everyone says..." 

"Everyone lies. I murdered one city, and it could barely be called a city, as there were fewer that 300 people. And they were all relatives of mine, so I murdered my extended family, not some random city."

"You still killed an entire city..." 

"And they aren’t actually dead, that’s another thing."

"What do you mean, not actually..." 

"I poisoned the food supply and while they lay dying from their organs being melted into jellied blood, I froze them, shrunk them, and put each of them in their own little glass bottle, where they continue to exist to this very day, suffering in for eternity in the exact same agony which they made BoomFuzzy suffer in. The ONLY people I killed were the people who killed BoomFuzzy, and they aren’t even dead.”

"How could they not be dead if you killed them? That makes no sense."

"Ah! I will show you. Than you shall understand. You see, I am a Di'Jinn."

"You can't be a Di'Jinn. The Di'Jinn are dead."

"No. There are still two of us left. Myself and ZooLock. We are the last."

Quaraun pulled a large, ornately carved wooden box from the tiny pink beaded heart shaped bag of holding on his belt, and from that box, removed a much smaller, fancily carved wooden box. The second box contained several trays, each with tiny compartments. The trays stacked on top of each other, filling the box. He removed these trays and lined them up on the table. In each compartment sat a single glass vial, barely two inches long. 

The Pink Necromancer pulled one vial from its slot and held it up to the lamp, so Ghirardelli could see the contents of the vial. 

Inside the vial was an Elf. 

Screaming, writhing, twisting in agony. Pleading, begging Ghirardelli to help them, to save them, to let them out of their miniature, icy eternal prison.

“You’re torturing them!”

“Yes.”

“Why?”

Quaraun put the vial back in its tray, replaced the trays in the box, put the box back in the larger box, and returned the large box, back into his hip bag.

"I asked you WHY?" The woman repeated her question. "Why are you torturing those people?"

“They deserve it."

"Deserve it?" 

"Death was too good for them."

"How can you say that?" 

"They did exactly the same to me. Put me in a glass bowl and kept me there for ten thousand years! I used to swim free in my ocean. Than they caught me, put me in a greyer full of primordial goo. Breed me. Stole my eggs. Stole my polyps. Infested people I did not a approve of. Mutated them. Twisted them. Did experiments on them. Made them squid headed thralls, and demanded they worship me, their mother. Their Mother brain, the Sacred Pink JellyFish. The called me their god, their creator, and they imprisoned me for centuries in a glass globe I not escape from. And when one of them rebelled, and tried to save me, they hunted him. He fled the planet, clutching the bowl. He tried to to return me to my ocean. But something went wrong. All those years in the goldfish bowl, my body mutated and now the salt ocean is poison to me. He immediately realized the water was killing me and took me back out, and he put me in the first creature he saw, this Elf, to save my life. Now I live trapped in the Elf, and ZooLock, is the only DiJinn allowed to walk free. I torture the rest for eternity, each one locked alone in a tiny glass vial, just as they did to me."

"You're a monster." 

"No. I'm not. But they were. Eternal punishment, is much better.”

“Why?”

“I already told you why. Evil people do evil things.” 

Quaraun’s voice changed. 

“They. Castrated. Me." 

He now sounded bitter. 

"They. Tortured. Me." 

Angry.  

"For. No. Damned. Reason."

Enraged. 

"I. Did. Nothing!"

His voice seethed with fury.

"They just wanted their sick, perverse entertainment. They wanted to watch someone suffer, and I happened to be there. In the wrong place at the wrong time."

Pure hatred dripped from his lips as he spoke.

"They dragged me for miles, stripped naked, and tied to the hooves of a team of horses."  

Ghirardelli felt an uneasy sense of dread, suddenly fearing for her life.

"They used metal garden claws to slice the skin off my back. They broke my legs and my arms and my ribs. They hung me by my ankles in a tree, for three weeks, while they threw rocks at me, they shoved branches up my arse, they stabbed forks into my arms and belly."

"What you are doing is eye for an eye..."

"Tooth for a tooth," he finished her sentence. "Life for life, Tit for tat. Do unto me as you want me to do back unto thee."

"That's not how..."

"They were not random strangers."

"No?" 

"No."

"Does that even make a differance?"

"Yes. It does."

"How?"

"It hurt more. Emotionally. Had it been strangers, I could have said they were ignorant. But it was people who knew me. People I loved. People, I had thought loved me. I was not evil. They were my neighbours. They were my friends. My community. My own people. They were my family. Even my own father - the one who’s vial you just saw - the one who begs you to help him - he’s the one who castrated me."

"You were in bed another man. You admitted as much. And The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley no less." 

"Who I love is not their concern. It shouldn't matter if my lover was male or female."

"Like I said, you're a freak."

"They all turned on me. They all took turns beating me and hitting me, stabbing me and slicing me, while hung upside down, naked in the tree, unable to fight back. They watched and laughed while flies came and laid eggs in my wounds. They delighted and glorified at the maggots as they hatched out and ate my flesh, wriggling under my skin. After I finally escaped, it took me months to heal. Years to fully recover. And the whole while they continued to beat me and hit me and tie me up and drag me through the streets. Most of my body is still riddled with scars. Some pains never went away. The bones in my legs still hurt. The pain in my joints flairs up with every change of weather. All because I fell in love, with someone they deemed not good enough for my social standing. I was the crown prince, and I’ve had the last laugh. I am the Grand High Emperor, ruler over all Elves, and I safely stowed all my subjects away in little glass bottles in my pocket, where they will never hurt me ever again.”

“You deserved what they did to you."

"I did not. Their petty racism and desire to be segregated away from other races is not my doing. They tortured me because I was friends with a non-Elf."

"And look at how you retaliated. You're no better than they are. You’re a monster.”

"Perhaps."

"How do you justify what you do?"

"I do unto others, as they first did unto me. Do unto me, only thing which you desire I do unto thee. That is the philosophy I live by. That and never suffer a bully to live."

"And you see nothing wrong with that?"

"There is no one more dangerous than the man who healed by himself, for it is he who knows the true meaning of love and friendship, and the true sorrow of having neither, the true sorrow of being so hated by everyone, that he was left alone, unloved, unwanted, cast, rejected, abandoned, left for dead."

"That doesn't answer my question?"

"No? Are you sure? Perhaps you than need to learn to use your brain. I was tortured, for no reason at all. My family was killed. Why? We did nothing. We kept to ourselves. We harmed no one. We were both male and for that alone we were made to suffer."

"You live life on the edge. Hurting people who hurt you, makes you no better than they are. It makes you worse."

 “They taught me well. I learned from the bigoted, racist masters, the art of torture, pain, and enteral suffering. I had no goals of practising magic, no desires to be a wizard. Without them, I never would have turned to Necromancy. Through Necromancy, I found my revenge and peace of mind. All mine enemies are safely where I can always see them. Their souls are mine now. And they will never hurt me again. With Necromancy I defeated them and now I am able to live the peaceful life of a silk weaver, as I had done before they unjustly attacked me. It is not murder for they did not fully die. What you call murder, I call justice. They were bullies, most extreme. They delighted in the pain and suffering of others. One must never suffer a bully to live. All bullies must die.”

“You really believe that, don’t you? That killing a bully is okay?”

“Of course. I would not say it if I did not believe it.”

“So you see nothing wrong with what you do?”

“No. Why would I? They drove my lover to suicide. They got what they deserved.”

“You are just pure evil?”

“Why? Because I dare fight back and defend victims who can not stand up for themselves? If that is your definition of evil, then you may want to rethink your own values and morals, for you may very well be evil yourself. Watch you tongue, dear sweet Ghirardelli, or you may just one day end up in my bag alongside them.”

“What about the others?”

“Others?”

“Other cities, other villages, other towns. You’ve wiped out many.”

“Yes. Those were accidents. Not murder.”

“Accidents? How were they accidents? You’ve created mass chaos. Global panic. Devastation of entire countries. How was any of that an accident?”

“Inexperience. At the time of those events, I was still newly implanted, and not yet used to controlling this Elf’s body. There were difficulties in learning how to make his functions aline with my functions. I’m much better at it now. Training to learn to control it was all I needed.”

“Control what?”

“My Elder Brain abilities, is what ZooLock called them. Psionics. Telekinesis. Mind control. What you Humans call magic.”

“So, you really are a Thullid, then?”

“Yes. On my planet, in my universe, there are people like this, like me, who can make things happen with their minds. Big things. Like telling everyone in the city to die and they immediately and obediently lay down and die like good little thralls.”

“Thralls? You mean like, people you enslave with mind control and force to do all your work for you?”

“Well, I wouldn’t put it exactly that way, but yes.”

“You’re a mind flayer.”

“Uhm.. yes, I suppose that term fits.”

“But you don’t look like a squid. You look like an Elf.”

“Yes. We can choose to envelope our host and be the glory that is our natural form, or we can choose to remain encased inside our host’s skull and blend in with the locals. Unnoticed. I choose the latter.”

“So you’re not actually an Elf?”

“Oh no. Not anymore."

"Where you an Elf when they, when they..."

"When they castrated me?"

"Yes. That."

"No. Poor little Quaraun, he died centuries ago. Still just a child. Only 9 years old. I merely took on his name and identity, pretended to be him, continued to live in his family unit. No one ever knew the Elf had died, and I lived inside of him, pretending to be him.”

“And you are?”

“SunTa is the nickname I had. Your Human tongue would not be able to pronounce my actual Thullid name. SunTa is the shortened version. I am the last of the Elder Brains, after the great war. The thralls revolted, broke into the chambers and smashed every Elder Brain. ZooLock grabbed me and ran for the nearest star-ship. Didn’t know the first thing how to fly it. We ended up crashing here on this planet. I lay dying. To save my life, he implanted me into the first living creature he saw. A 3-year-old Elf toddler, out on his morning walk with his mother. I’ve lived in him ever since.”

“Did he not try to save any of the others?”

“Oh, no, of course not.”

“Why?”

“I am The Sacred Pink JellyFish.”

“So?”

“So, I am the only Elder Brain who is important.”

“Why were you the only one important? Shouldn’t all the Elder Brains have been important?”

“No. They were male. Males are unimportant. For every one female, there are millions of males. I am the only female. I am the last female.”

“Are you saying that you are a female Thullid, living in the body of a male Elf?”

“Yes. That is exactly what I am saying. If I died, the entire of the Thullid race would eventually cease to exist, because eventually all the males will die off and with no females left, no new Thullids will be born.”

“But how would any be born if you are living in a male body?”

“I have a clutch of lovely violet purple eggs nestled away in this Elf’s skull. The remainder of his brain protects them, all cushioned soft and warm.”

“You have... that just sounds awful.”

“Oh no, it is not awful. It is wonderful. Someday they will hatch, but not for a very long time. I must find a suitable male to fertilize them after I lay them. Until then, I will protect them. It is why this Elf’s body must not be damaged and why I must kill any who tries to harm him. My eggs are the last Thullid eggs in all of the entire universe. They must be protected at all costs.”

“You are the last female Thullid and you are carrying the last surviving clutch of Thullid eggs?”

“Yes. It is why they worship me and call me The Sacred Pink JellyFish.”

“If you must protect your eggs, then you must hide the fact that you exist at all, correct?”

“That is correct.”

“So you can never let anyone know that you are a Thullid and the Elf you are living in is just a corpse.”

“True.”

“Why than are you telling me any of this?”

“Because you are Ghirardelli, Swamp Hag of The Godforsaken City.”

“Meaning what exactly?” 

“Meaning, most people would say you are crazier even than Quaraun the Insane, and so if you tried to tell anyone, say Finderu, that I, The Pink Necromancer, Quaraun the Insane, is really The Scared Pink JellyFish in disguise, they would just say that you is a coo-coo, high on hashish, or had gotten into some bad locoweed. No one would believe you. And so, I can tell you all about myself with no fear of anything coming of it because the world sees you as a deranged lunatic.”

"I was born and raised here. They knew me. They know I'm not evil."

"Are you sure?"

"Of course I'm sure." 

"They knew me too, remember?"

"I'm not running around sleeping with other women, the way you were sleeping with other men."

"You think that's the only reason an angry mob cries WITCH? Foolish Ghirardelli. You are a silly Human, accused of being a hag. Do they not call you a swamp demon? A swamp hag? A swamp witch? They've already begun to turn on you, to the extent, that no one around here believes you to be Human any more. Had you not noticed? Are they not your friends? Your family? They who call you witch? They who spread the rumours that you are a demon?"

"They know me around here, they know I'm a Human. They know I'm not a demon..."

"That's how it started with me, too. Calling me a witch. Saying I was evil. That's how they start. With the small accusation. To dehumanize you. To demonize you. So they can feel justified when they string you up in a tree and murder your loved ones. They can pat themselves on the back after, saying, at least it wasn't a Human, at least it was only a witch, at least it was only a demon. It's how the people in Maine justify their crimes."

"Just because they did that to you, is no reason to think they will do it to me."

"No, Ghirardelli, they do that to EVERY ONE here. Welcome to Maine. And sooner or later, they'll come for you. You've a lot to learn about humanity Ghirardelli, and you my not live long enough to learn it. Tell me Ghirardelli, who was REALLY chasing you?"

"What?"

"You said men were chasing you for your sword, but I can see this sword is worthless and your story is bunk. WHO chased you into my tent?"

"I don't know who he is. Or what. He's not a Human. I think he's a Demon."

"A Demon? A TRUE Demon. Not a Thullid? But an ACTUAL Demon?

"Yeah."

"Are you sure?"

"Pretty sure he's a Demon."

"They are very rare. Why would he be chasing you?"

"He sold me the sword a few months ago. Than he showed up last night. Said he wanted it back. He appeared out of nowhere. Just walked through the wall."

"A portal?"

"I don't know. He's from Hell. He shows up, surrounded in flames. Blazing fire. Dressed on orange. He's yellow eyes and yellow hair. Not natural. Bright yellow like a dandelion or a daffodil. A long tail and goat legs."

"A satyr?"

"Maybe. He's a shepherd, Some kind of beast-master. He's got a herd of demonic sheep. They look normal at first, but..."

"But what?"

"I think they are undead. Vampire sheep. He seems nice, kind, gentle. friendly. Lures you in. Like he's your friend, but than he tricks you into buying things, and later he tries to get them back. I've bought things off him before, and a few weeks later, he'll show up at my house, and steal them back. I saw him do it."

"And he wants this sword back? Why? It's worthless."

"I don't know. I was going to give the sword to Finderu. So I grabbed it and ran, and he summoned this pack sheep from Hell, to attack me. And every direction I ran, he cast fireballs so I couldn't get past, and then herded the monster sheep after me. He trapped me, cut off every escape rought with hundreds and hundreds of sheep, and walls of fire, the Earth opening up and spitting out geysers of fire from the pits of Hell. It was utter chaos, and I just ran and ran, and then, I saw your tent up ahead and, just,..."

"He herded you to my tent?"

"Yeah."

"Like a shepherd herding sheep. He used a herd of sheep to direct you right to me. How odd. Chaos you said?"

"Yes. Total chaos."

"Sounds like a Chaos Demon. They are incredibly rare. And not from Earth. They come from a fire planet, what you Humans would call a Hell Dimension, undoubtedly. Why would a Chaos Demon herd you to me?"



    ~o0o~      


BACK AT SWAMP HAG GHIRARDELLI'S HOVEL TODAY:

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 many of 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. 

Consistent. 

Stable. 

Calm. 

Steady. He must walk steadily. And consistently natural. And calmly stable. 

Balanced. 

Yes. Balance is good.

Balanced is more advisable than stable. 

Yes. 

Balancing was desirable. 

Quaraun stumbled and fell, plunging forward into the darkness.

And upright. 

Yes. Upright.

Upright is very important for walking. It would do no good to walk if one was not standing upright beforehand. 

Quaraun wondered if he was standing upright or not. He couldn't tell. The determination in his steps became his immediate focus. Quaraun monitored 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.  

Lightning flashed.  

The momentary manifestation of blinding luminescence infiltrated the room through its purple haze. The silver violet flame melted away and sending the chamber back into the deepest blackness of night. 

Mists of the Swamp of Death crept into the room through every crack. Up from the soggy swampy, waterlogged floor boards. In around the curtains of the glassless window panes. Down the chimney and out the fireplace like a demon belching smug into the building. 

Wait... who is that?

The brilliant burst of the storm’s light lasted long enough to blind the lodging with intense light.

There was a man in the corridor. 

A man? 

Nay. 

A scarecrow. 

With a grinning pumpkin head. 

Long, green creeping vines coiled and slithered through the doorway and up the walls, around the windows, and across the ceiling. 

Twisting. 

Turning. 

Pumpkins rolled across the floor, tumbling, dull thudded sounds of hollow gourds as they rolled across the room. 

Laughing. 

Grinning. 

Shrieking. 

The man of straw stood tall and thin, the flames of his jack-o'-lantern head burning like the fires of Hell from which he came. 

Standing just outside the door. 

Looking in. 

Staring at Quaraun. 

Watching. 

Waiting. 

Laughing. 

Blood rained down the walls, flooding the floor. 

Splashing. 

Churning. 

Weeping. 

Yearning. 

The Pissed Off Pumpkin Patch had found him again.

The evil Pumpkin of Death and his straw body, standing in the doorway.

How’d he get in here?

Wasn’t the door bolted?

Quaraun walked closer to the door.

Cautiously.

Carefully.

Slowly.

Guardedly.

“Why are you here?” Quaraun called out.

No answer.

“Leave me alone!”

Silence came as the only reply.

“Stop following me!” Terror filled Quaraun’s throat as the air in the room grow cold. Sucked out of the building. Quaraun gasped to breathe. He turned to run, but stumbled, and hastily caught himself.

Can’t collapse.

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 pumpkin man in the doorway.

A dead pumpkin man. Where there shouldn’t be one.

“Who are you?” Quaraun called out again.

Nothing.

The grinning dead man stood in the doorway.

Watching.

Staring.

Silent.

Grinning.

Laughing.

Booshee.

Booshee?

He didn’t move.

He didn’t speak.

Quaraun closed his eyes.

It might be one of his friends.

No.

They shouldn’t be here.

They couldn’t be here.

They were dead.

Dead these many years. 

He was alone. 

He had no one. 

No friends. 

Alone. 

So dreadfully alone.

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. 

The flame eyed pumpkin man was gone.

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. 

A black hole was forming in the ceiling above. Blue lights flashed and burst. Sparks fell out of the gaping black hole.

Quaraun’s vision blurred and doubled, then went in and out of focus a few times. 

Where am I?

What’s happening?

The streaks of blood running down the walls were gone.

Gone too were the pumpkin vines.

No more pumpkins on the floor.

Lingering squash blossoms sat in vases on the table.

The muffled sounds of his friends’ voices bounced around like a rubber ball inside his head. 

He tried to focus on one voice. 

This one or that one, but he could clearly hear neither. 

One sound. 

Then another. 

He couldn’t make out what was talking and what was noise. 

Straining to hear who was talking and what they said. 

Finally, his vision became clearer, and the sounds became less garbled.

“Are you okay?” the glittering gold sheep asked.

“Who was the man in the doorway?” Quaraun asked, not answering the glittering gold sheep’s question.

“What man?”

“That pumpkin!” Quaraun sat up and pointed towards the door. “The Pissed Offed Pumpkin Patch! They’ve come for me again. You can’t let them take me!”

Wait. 

He wasn’t there. 

The pumpkin 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.”

Passed out on the floor?

Where am I?

Suddenly a knocking.

A knocking rapped quickly.

Then silence.

Waiting.

Then the knocking came again.

Louder.

Again.

Louder still.

Quaraun sat up and opened his eyes.

He looked around the room.

“Where am I?”

He was sitting at a large wooden table.

It was a small room. 

Quaint.

The glittering gold sheep and the glowing purple unicorn were both gone. They had never been there. Had they? No. Yes? Maybe. He couldn’t be sure.

Quaraun nervously twisted his hands around the long, thin neck of the clear glass wine bottle he was clutching. Its emerald green wormwood infused liquid was nearly gone.

“I need to either stop drinking Fairy wine, or drink so much of it I never wake up out of its embrace. Where am I? 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.

An altar dedicated to the proposition of attracting wealth.

Another altar for speedy business success and gambling luck.

Bundles of dried herbs hung from the rafters. An array of metal pendulums. An assortment of containers for spells. An egg broken open for divination. An herb that is used in hexing. Talismans, tarot cards, and teas.

The home of a witch.

“Ah! Ghirardelli! The Swamp Hag’s house. Forgot I was here.” 

He paused and glanced down at his hand. His fist tightly clenched Ghirardelli’s hair as her severed head hung from his grasped. He suddenly remembered why he was here. 

“Ah, sweet Ghirardelli. Payback for calling me old. I warned you I’d return for your head. You should have listened to me. How many times did I tell you I never joke? Oh dear. I’m running out of leads.”

A sword lay on the floor at Quaraun’s feet. 

“Well, your soul eating sword had a use after all. One shouldn’t try to scam a necromancer with a fake sword. It may not eat souls like you said, but it certainly robbed you of both your soul and your head. Tsk. Tsk. Lying to a Necromancer about a soul eating sword. Did you really think you could arrest me when dozens before you failed. Poor Ghirardelli. Now you are dead.”

A sound interrupted his conversation with the dead woman’s severed head. It brought his attention back to the sound which had awoken him. The knocking sound thudded dully through the house again.

He turned back to the front of the building.

“Damn. Someone’s at your door. I suppose we should answer it.” Quaraun glanced down at the dishevelled lifeless body of the Swamp Hag on the floor behind him. Ghirardelli’s blood was pooling on the wooden planks, oozing out of her severed neck, gushing from veins that hung where her head should have been. “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, as he made his way to the front door of Ghirardelli’s hovel.

"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 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."















The Swamp Hag's House
(a chapter from Kelim and the Necromancer)

Kelim knew where the house was.

All the kids did.

Ghirardelli, The Swamp Hag lived in a sod roofed, moss covered hovel, deep in the swamps, in the pine forests to the west of the salt marsh.

Kelim had been here before, many times.

On a dare.

It was something kids did.

Dare one another to go to the Swamp Hag’s house and rip a board of her fence as proof you did it.

There wasn’t a kid in town who didn’t have a piece of the old Hag’s fence.

Kelim began panicking as he thought of the fence.

“What if she recognizes me as the one who stole a piece of her fence?”

Kelim stopped walking and sat down on the grass. His head was spinning. He felt he was about to faint. The ground was still cold. The snow was mostly melted. Flowers peeked up through last fall’s dry leaves. Kelim lay on his back in the cool young spring grass and stared up at the tall towering pine trees. A sickly sensation of Vertigo sunk in his stomach as his gaze followed the trees up their 150 feet of height. Little brown birds ran down thick bark, head downwards and peeking under the cracks looking for ants. Kelim wondered how they did not get dizzy or fall off from the blood rushing to their head. He was getting dizzy just thinking about it. Kelim closed his eyes, but that did not make him feel any better so he sat up and looked out across the swamp in stead.

“I gotta do this.”

Kelim hated coming out into the swamp alone. The water was black and sickly looking. Not the clean, healthy, clear water anyone would want to drink. It stank too.

Ghirardelli wasn’t Human. Of this Kelim was certain. He was certain because everyone in town said it and it must be true if so many people said it. She wasn’t a Faerie either. Kelim didn’t know what she was. She was a Hag. But what was a Hag?

What was a Swamp Hag any ways?

A Demon?

He didn’t know.

He didn’t really care.

Hags were not Humans or Faeries or Fairys or Elves or any other such race. They were some sort of Monster race. Something akin to a Demon.

But..

He didn’t know.

And...

He didn’t care.

He just needed to think about something other than that he felt like vomiting right now. Most of him just wanted to run back to town. Kelim looked out at the swamp again. Where the edge water sat still, there was a brown rusty coloured gelatinous foam coating the leaves and sticking to twigs. That icky looking sludge seemed to be the sources of the smell.

Kelim got up and started walking again. He had to hurry if he wanted to talk to the Necromancer and still have time to get back through the woods again before dark. He walked round the edge of the water knowing that the Swamp Hag’s house was around here somewhere. 

The forest was getting deeper and darker. 

The trees closer together. 

The deeper Kelim went into the forest, the cleaner the swamp looked.

The swamp widened significantly now. The water at its centre more like a shallow pond, but still black from the thick peat floating at its surface. Tall grass and prickly spiky vines grew around the water’s edge. Kelim suspected he was coming to the end of the swamp as he could hear the sounds of running water up ahead. He had yet to find the Necromancer’s home.

Did he not live in the swamp after all?

A woodpecker screamed from a rear by hemlock as if to answer.

“Don’t be silly,” Kelim scolded himself. “It’s probably all just a stupid rumour, anyway.”

Kelim passed the glade in front of the large thatched roof hovel of Ghirardelli, the swamp hag. A tall stockade fence surrounded the entire place. Kelim stood, counting the missing panels that created gaping holes in the ancient wooden fence.

“She’s a Witch, and she has a Necromancer staying with her. Why do I let Witsnot talk me into these things?”

Kelim counted the trees to keep himself from feeling like he was stuck in a nightmare. He tried to convince himself that he was just getting worked up over nothing.

In the far corner of the swamp an old hovel was half hidden in the shadows of tall trees lined up behind it. It was the only sign of any life. So he strolled over, trying to look casual.

He hesitated a second before knocking on the door. There was no answer at first. He knocked again. Still no answer. He knocked louder. Kelim was about to give up and leave when the door swung open so suddenly it made him jump back.

He had expected the Swamp Hag to answer the door. But it wasn’t her who stood before him now.

It was an Elf.

Not a Common Elf.

No.

A High Elf.

Kelim had not expected the Necromancer to be a High Elf.

Nor had he expected the alien creature to be the one who would answer the door.

The door had been answered by a pale skinned Moon Elf with long silken bum length white hair, large brilliant icy pale blue eyes, and dressed head to toe in eye popping bubblegum pink robes, embroidered with huge platinum beads and magenta silk hearts. The Elf's opaline skin stood out in pale evening light, shimmering like moonlight on freshly fallen snow. Kelim had heard rumours that moonlight had this effect on the skin of a Moon Elf, thus their name of Moon Elf, but he'd never before seen it. An eerie prism like glow hovered over the Elf's frosty white flesh, making the Elf look as though it had been carved out of ice. The effect terrified Kelim, who had heard rumours that the High Elves had a deep dislike for every race other than their own.

Kelim had never met an Elf before. 

Common Elves were scary enough.

But the High Elves were terrifying. 

Ruthless.

Brutal.

Emotionless. 

Cannibals.

Predators. 

Emotionless predators.

Sharp fanged.

Vampire-like.

Blood thirsty beasts that had fallen from the sky and were trapped on Earth against their will. 

Kelim knew the stories. 

No blood relation to the Common Elves. 

Not Elves at all.

No blood relation to anything Earthly. 

Aliens from another time.

Another world.

Another galaxy. 

They hated being trapped on this alien planet. They hated all life on Earth. They kept to themselves and shunned all of Earth’s inhabitants. 

The High Elves were rare and even more rarely seen. 

So rare that rumours deemed them mere figments of over active imaginations. 

And yet, here was a High Elf. 

One of those rare alien vampires, was now standing face to face with Kelim.

Kelim stared at the Necromancer, uncertain what to say. 

The Moon Elf was looking at him with an expressionless face. 

Kelim had not expected the pale Elf to answer the door. 

He was taken by surprise at this. 

This was the Swamp Hag’s house after all. 

Why would a stranger answer her door? 

And while this was clearly an Elf, he was uncertain if it was the Wizard or not.

The strange, unearthly, shimmering, prismatic, somewhat phosphorescent skin of the pink robed Elf terrified Kelim. 

Kelim had heard rumours that the Moon Elves had a deep dislike for every race other than their own, and this Moon Elf was looking at Kelim with an expressionless face.

Kelim may have prided himself in knowing the stories told about the Moon Elves, but the fact was, that Kelim really knew next to nothing about Moon Elves in general, or this the Last Moon Elf in particular. 

Had Kelim known the actual history of the Moon Elves, and the truth behind how Quaraun had become the last of his kind, Kelim would have been running scared shitless, to get as far away from The Pink Necromancer as he could.

But Kelim only knew the stories. 

The rumours. 

Not the history. 

Not the facts. 

Not the truth.

If he had known the history, and how they had died, Kelim would have known that what he was talking to was in fact NOT a Moon Elf, but rather a Thullid, whom had killed the Moon Elves and was wearing the skin of this Moon Elf, like a coat.

Ghirardelli had known this.

And Ghirardelli could have warned Kelim of the danger he was in, were she alive, which she wasn't.

Ghirardelli was dead.

Quaraun had been a Moon Elf, many, many centuries ago. But now, like Ghirardelli, Quaraun was dead, and his hollowed out body was the skin worn by the Thullid living inside of him.

Had Kelim known this, he would have known that the words Quaraun was right now muttering under his breath, were not Elvish, but rather, were Thullid.

Kelim didn't know Elvish or Thullid, so Kelim just assumed that the Moon Elf was speaking Elvish. 

Assumptions were a bad habit for Kelim. 

Making assumptions bout those around him, was the easy way through life. 

To act on assumptions and treat them as truth, was the lazy man's way of facing the world. 

And Kelim, well, Kelim was as lazy as a lazy man could be. 

Except Kelim was not a man. 

Kelim was a pixie. 

A lazy Pixie. 

A very, tremendously lazy Pixie prone to making assumptions and acting without thinking.

Kelim was making a lot of assumptions right now, as he stood gawking at The Pink Necromancer, in all his pink striped silk finery, dripping with gold jewellery, glistening with pink tourmaline, and warped in fuchsia pink marabou feathers.

One: Kelim was assuming that he could get a wish granted, with little ease, and quickly be on his way, to find Ophelia waiting at his house to tumbling into his arms. After all, hadn't Ghirardelli told every one in the village of the night The Pink Necromancer had visited three years ago? Had she not met him during The Great Gale of 1846? The day, when the factories collapse, the towns were levelled, the apple orchards razed, the railroads destroyed, and everyone woke up to find hundreds of cats and dogs roaming the streets of The Godforsaken City? 

Had Ghirardelli not told everyone of her encounter with Quaraun the Insane, and how easily he had granted her wish that the hurricane's rain would turn into cats and dogs?

Yes. 

Kelim knew the story. 

He knew it well.

He'd heard Ghirardelli in town plenty of times, raving and ranting and trying to convince some one, any one, to believe her. 

To believe that the cats were not a herd of strays chased here by the storm.

To believe the stray dogs were not a wild pack that had roamed in seeking safety from the flooding.

No one believed her.

Why would they?

Rumours of The Pink Necromancer were ancient. No one believed he could still be alive after so many years. Had he not roamed the Earth in 800 A.D? Was it not now 1849? Three years after the The Great Gale of 1846? The infamous wizard would be well over a thousand years old by now.

And so, people laughed.

They laughed at Ghirardelli, and he story of a pink jellyfish, roaming the Maine forests, disguised as an Elf, granting wishes, and making cats and dogs rain out of storm clouds.

But Kelim believed her.

She'd been too convicted, too convinced, too certain, for it not to be true.

Kelim believed Ghirardelli’s account of a wish granting wizard, garbed all in pink, capable of bestowing any wish you could imagine.

This was Kelim’s first mistake.

Second: Kelim assumed that what stood before him was a female Elf.

This was Kelim’s second mistake.

Three: Quaraun had been asleep moments ago. Asleep and plagued by visions of pumpkin patches, and grateful to be brought out of his reoccurring lucid dream, but resentful at being woken up none the less.

Kelim had woken up a grouchy Elf who despised people demanding wishes from him.

That was Kelim’s third mistake.

Kelim stared up at Quaraun, reflecting about Ghirardelli’s account of wishes granted and pondered if he should request the pink robed wizard to grant his wish, or should he turn around and run?

Quaraun grumbled and sputtered Thullid swears under his breath as he remained in the entrance, blood dripping from his hand, glaring down at the green-winged Pixie.

The Moon Elves had perished three centuries ago, Quaraun being the last, and with them, their ancient Elven language had died out with them. All Elves were rare these days, and the Moon Elf language had been considered of as a dead language even when there were still Moon Elves alive. 

Quaraun had had to learn the many various languages of the Humans, the lesser Elf races, and other nonElven races in order to communicate with them. There was no one who could speak his native tongue. 

The Moon Elf language was as dead as Latin, which was why the poor Moon Elf had picked up the unhealthy habit of speaking to himself in order to keep from forgetting how to speak his native tongue. 

Unfortunately for Quaraun, what he did not recognize is that he long ago had ceased speaking the ancient Moon Elf language and was, in fact, speaking the Thullid language to himself most days. 

The Thullid language was not an Earth language. Being aliens from a distance galaxy, the Thullid ship crash landed on Earth centuries ago. The Thullid language comprised of mostly ‘L’s, ‘T’s, ‘X’s, and ‘I’s and little else. It’s slithering hissing words sounded very snake-like.

The language was spoken quick, intermingled with screams, and shrieks. The shrieks and screams were actual words, but to Humans sounded like mindless screaming and shrieking.

Quaraun, dressing as he dressed, talking as he talked, in his eye-popping pink beaded Samite silk gowns, pacing in circles, screaming and squawking to himself in a dialect that sounded nothing like a language at all, terrified most individuals. 

Kelim was terrified right now. Because Quaraun was right now, snarling to himself, in a hissing snake-like accent that frightened the little Pixie who stood trembling before him.

Quaraun rarely spoke to anyone, as he was usually too busy having conversations with himself to notice there was anyone around to talk to. More often than not, Quaraun had bitter arguments with a map that he spent an inordinate amount of time yelling at.

Quaraun had fallen asleep while having the most delightful conversation with the Swamp Hag’s severed head before the knock on the door interrupted him.

He did not like being disturbed. 

Kelim had interrupted him. 

He immediately decided he did not like Kelim.

Quaraun hated Kelim, for no reason, other than Kelim had knocked on the door and woken him up.

Quaraun was out of Green Fairy Wine. He would rather sleep if he had no Green Fairy Wine to drown his depression in. Kelim had woken him up, so he concluded he hated Kelim and stood in the doorway contemplating if he should cut off the Pixie’s head now or after he had heard what the Pixie had to say.

Most people who came across Quaraun, dressed as he dressed and chatting to himself in the Thullid language, heard nothing but a lot of wild rambling gibberish that sounded nothing like any Earth language they had ever encountered, so most people took Quaraun for a psychotically deranged, gibbering idiot and was very careful to avoid him.

Few realized Quaraun was no longer an Elf at all, but was in fact a Thullid. 

Quaraun was a Thullid Spawnling. 

The Thullid had killed the Elf. 

That’s what Thullid do.

They kill Elves and then take over their bodies. 

Even their closest friends won’t know they’re dead.

The Thullid larvae hollow out their skulls and live inside the Elf’s head, fusing their tentacles to the nerves. 

Quaraun’s icy white blue eyes were cold. 

Distant.

Empty. 

Completely devoid of any emotion. 

They were not the kind eyes of an Elf, but the empty emotionless eyes of a Thullid. 

Quaraun was not an Elf, not anymore. 

Quaraun the Elf was dead. 

He’d been dead a long time. 

A Thullid had taken up residence in his body.

Possessing him.

Infesting him.

Infecting him.

When Quaraun was just 3 years old, and eventually devouring his brain and replacing it with its own brain. 

Quaraun the Elf had perished centuries ago, at the young age of only 9 years old. All that remained was the hollow husk reanimated by the tiny pink jellyfish living in the dead Elf’s hallowed out, brainless skull.

The Sacred Pink JellyFish had eaten Quaraun’s brain, and like a hermit crab, was residing in his empty skull. 

Looking into Quaraun’s emotionless dead eyes, Kelim knew something was definitely mentally wrong with him. 

His eyes looked like those of a squid. 

The wall eyed fishy glaze of his eyes, terrified Kelim. 

Quaraun was nothing but the long dead corpse of an Elf whose carcass had become the home of an alien sea creature. 

Quaraun had become someone else. 

He had turned into a Thullid. 

Had he known he was facing a Thullid, Kelim would have shuddered to think of the horrible agony Quaraun had suffered through upon his death to be captured by a Thullid, to have it hold him down and drill a hole into the back of his head, then implant a larva into his brain. The weeks and months of agony that  followed as the larvae fed off the poor Elf’s brain, while rooting its spidering tentacles throughout his body, replacing his nerves with its own, hollowing out his muscles and refilling them with its own. 

The poor Elf had suffered in agony for years while the creature slowly took over his body and learned to replicate his words and actions. 

In all the Realms there was no death more horrific or more feared, then to die by Thullid infestation. Quaraun the Elf, only Quaraun the Thullid, meaning the real Quaraun had suffered in agony, alone, with no one there to comfort him. The real Elf had died such a horrendous death.

Quaraun looked like an Elf, he outer body had been born an Elf, but it was the Jellyfish living in his brain, that is who Quaraun was now. 

It was for this reason that Quaraun could often be seen, talking to himself, in a language that was filled with squishy, fish-like shrieks and screams that made little sense to the people who met him.

Quaraun spoke in 84 common languages. Quaraun, being the highly educated High Elf that he was, spoke most of the known languages of the region, and thus immediately shifted his own speech to match whatever language was being spoken to him. His ability to speak most every language could sometimes make talking to him difficult as he could, and often did, change languages mid-sentence and rarely realized he was doing it. 

Most of his conversation was thus a strange blend of his own native Moon Elf, mixed with Thullid in a bizarre language Quaraun had unknowingly created for himself in his last two hundred years of hermit like solitude. 

Kelim, unable to speak either Moon Elf and Thullid, could not pick up on this difficult self-language Quaraun had made for himself, which annoyed the Moon Elf, forcing him to speak the Pixie’s language, which pissed him off.

But none of this mattered right now, for Kelim was unaware he was addressing a Thullid.

In Kelim’s mind, this was an Elf. A Moon Elf.

A pale skinned Moon Elf with long, silken, bum length white hair.

A Moon Elf with large, brilliant icy pale blue eyes.

A Moon Elf dressed head to toe in eye popping bubblegum pink samite silk robes.

A Moon Elf with elaborately embroidered and beaded designs of hearts, roses, flowers, and jellyfish all over his furisode kimono and corseted gown. 

A Moon Elf who right now stood in the doorway staring down at Kelim. 

A Moon Elf with opaline skin which glimmered in pale evening light, shimmering in the moonlight. 

After his initial Thullid muttering to himself as he opened the door, the pink-clad Elf said nothing more and stood silently staring down at Kelim. 

Kelim wasn’t sure who he was addressing. He had come here looking for an evil male Necromancer.

But this was... he wasn’t sure. He thought he might be staring into the cold dead eyes of a female prostitute instead.

“Uhm... my name is Kelim?” It came out as a question, more than a statement.

The thin albino Moon Elf just stared down at him and said nothing, which was making Kelim nervous.

“I’m a Toadstool Pixie.”

“I can see that.” 

The Elf sounded bored.

Or tired.

Or maybe both.

Kelim was taken back slightly by the Elf’s voice. It was the deep, velvety voice of a male, but he could have sworn the Elf standing before him was a female. 

It looked like a woman. 

Dressed like a woman. 

The tightly corseted pink dress, with long flowing furisode sleeves. That was was women’s dress.

The Elf’s eyes were kholed with black, lips painted blood red, and fingertips glistening with pink jewel encrusted gold claw tips. Fresh blood dripped from the tips.

Sparkling pink and green watermelon faceted gemstones glittered from the many rings pierced through the Elf’s foot long pointed ears. 

A couple more jewelled rings were pierced through the side of his nose and glistening silver chains draped from the rings in his nose to the rings in his ears. Many dainty charms of silver, decorated with more tourmalines, hung from the chains connecting his nose rings to his ear rings. His long, silken white hair hung down to below his waist. 

If Kelim had met this pink gowned, bejewelled Elf on the streets, he would have sworn she, er, he, was a prostitute.

“Uhm...I...I’m looking for the wizard called Quaraun.”

“Well, you’ve found him.”

“Are you Quaraun?”

“I am he,” said the Moon Elf, as he stretched one arm out straight and leaned on the door frame, showing he was unconcerned by either who or what Kelim was, and barring the entrance to his home at the same time. He slowly began drumming his long, thin fingers on the door. He left bloody fingerprints on the wood as he did. 

Kelim couldn’t help but notice the Necromancer had multiple large, sparkling diamond and sapphire rings on every single finger. 

No. 

They were not rings.

It was jewel encrusted gold armour.

But it wasn’t the rings Kelim was focusing on. 

It was the blood. 

Blood was trickling down the Elf’s hand. Down his wrist. Into his sleeve. Blood spatter was sprayed across several parts of the dress, and the hems were soaked heavily with more blood. The Elf’s skirts left bloody streaks and swirls on the ground as the hems swept the floor.

“I’m sorry...you look...uhm...I thought you were a... Are you a man?”

“I’m an Elf.”

“Are you a male Elf?”

“If you mean, was I born with a cock and balls between my legs, yes.”

“You look like a...”

“How I choose to dress, whether it matches the gender I was born as or not, quite frankly doesn’t concern you, now does it?” 

Kelim looked down at his feet and began twiddling his thumbs. Talking to strangers made him nervous. 

People with any authority made him nervous. 

Wizards made him nervous. 

Elves made him nervous. 

He was just now realizing that effeminate men in pink sequined dresses with lots of feminine jewellery made him nervous. 

Quaraun the Insane was all the above. 

Quaraun was making Kelim more nervous than he’d ever been before.

He couldn’t think when he was nervous. 

Kelim didn’t know what to say next. 

He really hadn’t thought this part through. 

It had taken all the courage he could muster just to walk out into the enchanted forest in the first place. He’d almost turned back several times while going through the frozen swamp. 

And now here he was at the front door of a strange transvestite Necromancer Elf who was probably far more dangerous than Finderu the Masked. 

Kelim felt faint.

Masked frightened Kelim.

This wizard did not wear a mask like Finderu, but he might as well have.

Quaraun perked up his ear to listen, waiting for Kelim to say something. His thin, pointed foot long ears twitched, nervously causing the chains connected back to his nose to shake and tinkle.

The ears mesmerized Kelim.

And the rings.

And the chains.

And the charms.

Quaraun had 24 earrings in each ear.

And 3 nose rings, 1 in the centre, and one on each side.

Each ring in his ear had a tiny linked, delicate chain in it. Each chain connected back to one ring in his nose.

Every few links of the chain had tiny pink watermelon tourmaline crystal point hanging from it.

Kelim knew very little of Quaraun and was unaware that Quaraun was a priest and wore the very distinctive robes and jewellery as part of his religion.

Kelim remembered the old Swamp Hag, Ghirardelli, saying though born in Quebec, Persian priests raised Quaraun in the marshlands of Iraq. Quaraun was the only Elf member of his religion. And was one of only two Di'Jinn priests still alive. 

The Di’Jinn were all dead, save Quaraun and ZooLock. 

Kelim heard Ghirardelli say these things, but had not paid attention. He, like so many others in The Godforsaken City, had turned a blind eye to Ghirardelli’s pleadings. A deaf ear to Ghirardelli’s warnings.  

Ghirardelli was just the crazy old witch from the swamps. 

No one listed to her. 

As Quaraun had predicted, three years earlier, no one believed her story of having met The Pink Necromancer. Nor had anyone believed her warnings that a Thullid invasion was upon them, because the Sacred Pink Jelly Fish walked among them.

No. 

Like every one else in The Godforsaken City, Kelim had walked passed Ghirardelli, as she stood on the curb, screaming and wailing the terrors of brains sucked out and eaten by jellyfish.  

And so Kelim was unprepared for his own meeting with the self-same Thullid infested Elf, whom Ghirardelli had meet three autumn’s ago, during the The Great Gale of 1846. All Kelim knew was that standing before him was an Elf that looked to be a Muslim woman, but whom Kelim had been told was a male wizard, and Kelim stood very confounded and confused, and wasn’t certain what to say or how to address the pink robed Elf.

The glittering chains and charms and crystals hanging from the 48 earrings and connecting back to his nose were what was troubling Kelim the most, for he could not see hardly any of Quaraun’s face.

Quaraun was said to be beautiful. More beautiful than any other being ever born. And while it definitely appeared that man behind the veils and jewels was exotically beautiful, all Kelim could really see what his nose and his eyes. Kelim wondered if the rumours of Quaraun’s beauty were in fact inspired by the mystery of his mostly hidden face.

Quaraun’s long ears make it difficult for him to wear the hijab style, veiling properly. Thus why he wore this elaborate network of rings and chains, as a way to keep his face covered.

The jewellery acted as a veil, exactly as Quaraun intended it to do. Ghirardelli had not mentioned the chain veiling covering Quaraun's face, because he had not been wearing it the night she had met him.

Most of Quaraun’s face was obscured from view by of this massive network of jewellery. The chains act like veiling, with only his eyes and lips visible. The action of his abnormally long ears constantly moving with his emotions caused the crystal points and chains to make tinkling sounds every time moved his ears even the slightest bit.

Kelim continued to gawk, awestruck, jaw dropped at the Elf’s outlandish eye popping pink, jewel encrusted female outfit, and it was annoying Quaraun. 

Quaraun was very shy, extremely introverted, kept to himself, lived as a hermit, did not like attention, and was easily made upset by people staring at him.

Kelim was staring at him.

Kelim was staring at Quaraun for a very long time.

The awkward silence, combined with Kelim’s stare, was unnerving Quaraun. 

He felt the desire to pull out his dagger and rip the Pixie’s throat out. 

Quaraun did not like the Pixie.

It was staring at him too much, for too long. 

It made Quaraun uncomfortable. 

He did not like it.

Finally, seeing that Kelim was making no move to speak, Quaraun broke the silence.

“What do you want?” the Moon Elf demanded, sounding a more than a little hostile.

Kelim looked up at the tall, cross-dressed Elf.

Quaraun wasn’t tall.

In fact, he was short.

But Kelim was shorter and Quaraun seemed taller than he was, by the way he carried himself.

Quaraun lowered his eyebrows, into a guarded expression which said to Kelim, “You better have had a damned good reason for disturbing me. I have business to attend to and you are wasting my time.”

The Elf was clearly was growing impatient, and his icy blue eyes were cold and staring and served as a sufficient warning to scare Kelim into losing whatever courage he had mustered up on his way getting here.

Kelim was suddenly struck by how much taller than himself the Necromancer was, and how very short he suddenly felt standing in front of Quaraun.

Kelim felt as though he was closing up like a telescope growing smaller and smaller the more the Necromancer stared at him.

"You're uhm... I... uhm ... “

“I’m busy and you’re interrupting me, that’s what I am.”

“I ... you're uhm..."

"Spit it out, I haven't got all day."

"You're... you're... what are you?"

"Which what am I are you referring to? My being an Elf? Or my being a transvestite?"

"Uhm..."

"Doesn't matter. Either one, I don't like you talking about."

"Okay. Uhm..."

"You don't get many words out do you?"

"Uhm... I... no..."

“You’re a Pixie.”

“Yes?”

“Don’t you know?”

“I...”

"Xandit Winsnot the Goblin sent you didn't he?"

"Uhm, yeah, kind of..."

"Kind of? Either he did, or he didn't."

"Well..."

"You are Kelim?"

"Yes... I..."

"You're in love with Finderu's daughter."

"Yeah... uhm... sort of..."

"Don't waste my time, Boy, what do you want from me?"

"Well... I... uhm... I... well...I... I thought... you know... that... uhm... maybe... people are saying you... I was just thinking... you know..."

"Spit it out, Boy, I haven't got all day. I am rather busy and I do hate being bothered, especially by Faeries. Faeries are so annoying. I can't stand them, they're nothing but trouble, every last one of them."

The Necromancer sounded increasingly more and more annoyed, which frightened Kelim even farther.

"People around the village are saying you grant wishes and stuff for people who desperately need your help," Kelim said, now speaking as fast as an auctioneer, "I guess I just came to find out if it was true."

"Grant wishes? What am I, a Leprechaun? I don't grant wishes."

"They say you lived with the Di'Jinn and you got powers like a...like...a..."

"I am a Wizard of the Di'Jinn Order. We are the masters of magic. The most powerful Wizards in the world. None compare to us, not in power or skill.”

“Aren’t the Di’Jinn all dead?”

“Yes. I killed them. I’m the last one.” 

“But you can’t grant wishes?”

“That we are capable of making the impossible possible is not wish granting, it's us doing our jobs. You want to call it granted wishes, so be it. What is you damned wish?"

"I... uhm... how many wishes do... uhm... we... I... get?"

"How many wishes?"

"Uhm... er..."

"You certainly have trouble talking don't you?"

"Can I have three wishes?"

"What do you think I am? A genie in a bottle?"

"Uhhhh...."

"You can have a many wishes as you can afford. But I'm not cheap. Not many people can afford me."

"I have to pay you?"

"What? Do you think I just hand out magic potions for free?"

"I... uhm... I never thought about it."

"No one ever does. Everyone expects us Wizards to be making spell and crafting magic items. No one ever wants to pay us for the work now do they. And people wonder why my head collection gets added to so often."

"Head collection?"

"You buy my services and then decide you don't want to pay me, I'll take your head instead. You'll never cheat another wizard again, that's for sure."

"Do you cast love spells?"

"I cast all spells.”

“Even love spells?” 

“Anything you want, I can do. I didn't earn the title of being the world’s most powerful wizard for nothing, you know."

"But you specialize in Di'Jinn magic?"

"Yes."

"Isn't that wish granting?"

"No."

"Well, what is Di'Jinn magic then?"

"For your information, I make bottles for putting things in. You got an enemy you don't want around any more, I got a bottle you can put them in. Keep them in your pocket and they'll never bother you again, and you'll always know where they are. Anything you want to keep safe and out of your hair, I can make a bottle for you to put it in. If you have a dragon bothering your village and you are too kindhearted to kill it and want to relocate, I can make you a dragon bottle..." 

Quaraun pulled a small heart shaped bottle from the beaded heart shaped bag that hung from his belt. On the tiny glass heart was the shape of a pocket watch with a brass dragon encasing it. Quaraun held the small heart-shaped glass vial filled with shimmering green goo up into the light.  

“Is there a dragon in there?”

“Yes. PocketLich. I’d show her to you but she is as big as a mountain. I can not release her indoors. There’d be no house left if I did that. Crash right out through it, she would.”

“Why do you have a dragon in a bottle?”

"I like dragons," The Pink Necromancer continued. "They make good pets and even better weapons. I've had this one for decades. I got her from Fire Mountain. She's a DracoLich now. I turned her into a Lich before putting her in the bottle. She does all my killing for me so I don't have to. Keeps her well fed and I don't have to worry about what to do with the bodies. Dragons, Liches, Demons, Genies...anything you have, you want put in a bottle, I can make you the bottle for holding it. That's what I do, Pixie."

Quaraun put the small glass bottle of shimmering green goo back in his bag.

"Of course it's not limited to bottles. Spells can be fixed onto cards and candles. Most any object. For my own use I keep them in wands. Easier to use that way. I make boxes and bags as well." 

He pulled a small vial that resembled a perfume bottle filled with icy blue liquid, from his pink bag. 

"I can even take an entire village, houses, people, trees and all and lock it away in a bottle. Let time forget about them. Like they never existed. Wiped off the face of the earth forever. Until such a time as I decide to let them go free. Just like I did to the Moon Elves."

Quaraun put the small glass bottle of icy blue liquid back in his pink sequined heart shaped bag of holding.

"That is my specialty. But I'm a Mage as well. I study all classes of wizardry, witchcraft, sorcery, and hoodoo. I don't think, there's anything I can't do. At least there's nothing I have tried yet, that I ever failed at."

"You do sorcery?"

"Yes."

"That's forbidden."

"So's Necromancy and I'm a Necromancer."

"You're The Pink Necromancer."

"I am."

"You're not a Guild member are you?"

"No. I'm not."

"Finderu will be furious."

"Leader of The Guild? He's already furious. Price on my head gets higher every day."

"You're wanted by The Guild?"

"I'm The Guild's number one most wanted criminal."

"You sound proud of that."

"I am. While they've hunted and murdered every last Sorcerer and Necromancer on the planet, I continually elude them and now I hunt them."

"The Swamp Hag is one of The Guild's board members."

"Ghirardelli?"

"Yeah."

"She was."

"Then what are you doing here visiting her?"

"Expanding my head collection."

"What?"

"And you say you desperately need my help?" The deathly pale Elf titled his head and raised an eyebrow. "I am somewhat surprised at the thought of a Pixie seeking help from an Elf."

"W... why?" 

"Last I knew, Pixies didn't like Elves and wanted us all dead. If fact you were all quite overjoyed at the extinction of my people."

 "I... that... it... was before my time..."

"And Pixies aren't known for needing help from anyone. Their Fairy Glamour tends to serve all their needs."

"Well, yes." Kelim hunched his shoulders and ducked his head down in a stance that said 'Don't hit me.' "I...uhm...I...I don't do... uh... I don't know... magic. It's...it's not...not a skill I have...it's..."

"Hmh. Talking doesn't seem to be a skill you have either."

"Well, yeah...that's...that's...that's kind a...kind of the problem, why...why I'm here...I..."

The Moon Elf stood back from the door a bit and gestured his jewelled hand for Kelim to step inside. Kelim hesitated a moment, but then decided it was now or never, and stepped into the mossy snow covered hovel.

"I have work to do. I kind of need to do it. I'll do it while you talk. Considering how long it takes you, if I wait for you to finish a sentence, I'll never get anything done. Go sit down over there and see if you can tell me what you want in less than an hour."

The inside was neat and smelled of fresh pine, green herbs, lavender, and cedar wood chips, it didn’t look worn down and neglected like the outside or the rest of the area. He took a closer look at his host, and noticed that even though he had pure white hair, his skin wasn’t wrinkled, almost like he was hanging in between young and old. Kelim the Toadstool Pixie couldn’t decide which he was. 

Quaraun picked up the cursed soul eater sword and stared at it, as if wondering where to put it.

"You know, storing spells in swords, like wands is useful as well," Quaraun said, more to himself than to Kelim. "Pity, this sword is too big for me. It was man for a large male Human by the size of it. It's utterly useless to me if it's too big for me to wield."

"Where's uh...what's her name...

"Who?" Quaraun blinked, staring at Kelim as though he'd forgotten the Pixie was there.

"The old swamp hag that lives here?"

"Ghirardelli?" Quaraun set the sword back down.

"Yeah, that's the one. Never can remember how to say her name."

“She’s decapitated in the other room.”

“Decapitated?”

“Hmm?"

"You said she was decapitated."

"Yes. And?" 

"Are you sure that's the right word?"

"Ah. Did I say the wrong word?” Quaraun thought about it for a moment. "Decapitated," he muttered to himself.

“You ... you ... said ... she’s ... uhm ... she’s...”

"Incapacitated. Yes. That’s what I meant to say. She's temporally incapacitated at the moment."

"Incapacitated?"

"Yes." Quaraun picked up the soul eater sword again and stared at it for a bit, than tossed it over his head, behind him. "Worthless piece of garbage," he muttered. 

"It looks like a pretty good sword to me."

"It isn't."

"You sure?"

"Do you question my ability to judge a good sword from an inferior sword?"

"Uh... n... no... I... I just..."

"I suppose decapitated IS a better word.”

“Is it?”

“Yes. Also her sword is utterly useless to me.”

"Her sword?"

"Yes. It supposedly collects souls, but all it does is eat souls. Now I ask you what good is a sword that EATS the souls it collects?"

"I don't know."

"Of course you don't. Worthless piece of junk."

“But...”

“She can’t speak to you right now.”

“No?”

“No. Do you realize the only thing that soul does is demand to be fed?”

"Fed?"

"Yes. And people are scared of it. Do you know why?"

"No."

"Of course you don't. Why would you?"

"Than why... why did you... ask?"

"I was talking. You interrupted my conversation, so  now I am going to talk to you."

"But..."

"People are scared of that damned sword because they are idiots, that's why."

"Idiots?"

"Yes. Idiots just like you."

"How am I..." 

"You are an idiot. Do you know how I know you are an idiot?"

Kelim opened his mouth to answer but didn't have time to say anything before Quaraun continued.

"You, my dear boy, are an idiot because you are here. In Ghirardelli's house."

"But..."

"You know this is Ghirardelli's house and you know that I am not Ghirardelli. I have seen you around town and I can see into your mind. You know that Ghirardelli lives alone and I do not live here. Rumours compel you to be here, Kelim. You know that Ghirardelli has no friends, is visited by no one, is laughed at by everyone in the town, even by you. I know by you, because I saw you. I was at the tavern and saw you and your Goblin friend laughing and teasing and bulling her when you saw others doing the same. Mindless cattle who follow the herd. Idiots all of you. I saw you stop to listen to her words. You know that she warned you of a great evil, the worst evil, The Pink Necromancer, that he was here during The Great Gale of 1846, and he would come back. Would back to kill her and you and every one in The Godforsaken Town..."

"City..."

Quaraun stopped monologuing and glared at the incompetent fool, who was stupid enough to interrupt him while he was pontificating. Foolish enough, not only to interrupt him, but to correct his speech. Quaraun momentarily contemplated ripping the Pixie's head off than thought better or it and continued his monologued speechifying.

"Yes. City. Every one in The Godforsaken City. She has been warning you of it for the past three years and yet, here I am, and here you are. Talking to be like nothing is wrong. Like a lamb to the slaughter, to troddle on into the spiderweb."

"Troddle? Is that a word?"

"It is if I say it is," Quaraun snarled. This was the second time in under a minute that the foolish Pixie had thought to correct his words.

"Oh."

"Would you fear a talking sword that demanded you feed it souls?"

"Probably..."

"Of course you would. But why? The sword can't move on it's own. It can't possess you. It won't even die if you don't feed it. Do you know why?"

"No, sir, I don't."

"Because it's a sword. It's not alive to begin with. It sits there tossing threats at me, claiming all sorts of things.   But it's all lies. Lies. Lies. And more lies. That sword can't do one damned fucking thing. It just relies on people to be too scared to  think rationally, and do it's bidding. So long as no one discovers the sword has no power to do anything, it can get everyone around it to obey it's every whim. All the sword does it talk and eat. Useless as fuck. What a waste of a good curse."

"Curse?"

"Yes. Some one cursed that sword. Trapped the sword of a knife salesman in it. He's lonely so he tries to scare people into doing things for him, so he won't be alone. I've already got a cursed map and two cursed daggers, I don't need a cursed sword."

"Can I have it?"

"Be my guest." Quaraun waved his hand towards the sword, motioning for Kelim to take it. "I don't need it or want it."

Kelim cautiously crept across the room to where the sword had landed and picked it up.

"Hey! ... It's... uhm... It's ... covered in ... in blood."

"Yes, I had to test it out. See if it actually drew souls out of people, like it's name implied."

"Does it?"

"No. That's why it's useless for me."

"Whose blood is on it?"

"Ghirardelli's"

"The Swamp Hag's?"

"Yes."

"Is she dead?"

"Decapitated."

"Did you kill her for this sword?"

"No. I had other reasons."

“But...” 

“You'll have to do with talking to me. How may I help you?"

"Where's the... uh... uhm... the.."

"The what?"

"The uhm... uhn... "

"Do you talk like this with everyone?"

"I... err... uhm..."

Quaraun pulled a gold throne from his bag and flung himself onto it's fuchsia velvet pillows.

"The Goblin was right, you really do have issues talking. You'll never get a woman if you can't get to the end of a sentence."

"The Witch."

"The what?" Quaraun wasn't really paying attention to Kelim. He had other things on his mind. Important things. Like finding Finderu. Killing Finderu. Beheading Finderu. Adding Finderu's head to his collection of mage heads.

“The Witch.”

“The Witch? Oh! Yes. The Swamp Hag. What of her?”

“You said she was decapitated.”

“Yes. I did say that didn’t I? Slip of the tongue. Bad habit. Would you like to join her?”

“Join her?”

“Yes. There’s always plenty of room for more souls and heads. Heads and souls. Souls and heads. One can never have enough one or too many of either.”

"Where's the Witch?"

"Ghirardelli?" Quaraun looked around the room as though looking for something, then looked back to Kelim. "Oh, I left her laying around here somewhere."

"Can I talk to her?"

"I thought you wanted to talk to me?"

"You... you're... uhm... you're... uh..."

"I'm what?"

"Well..."

"Spit it out, boy."

"Mean.”

"Mean? You think I'm mean?"

"Well... uh... yeah."

“Mean? Am I mean?” Quaraun asked himself, not Kelim.

“And... scary too."

"I'm scary? Hahaha! Oh. That's hilarious." 

Quaraun stopped laughing and became serious again.

"You could try talking to her. Won't do much good. She won't answer you. You'll definitely need a Necromancer to help you communicate with her. I suppose it's a good thing I'm here then."

Quaraun, pulled a small red bottle from his pocket and held it up to the light, peering inside.

"What do you want, Kelim? Spit it out."

"Well, I kind of need a wish granted, sort of..."

"A wish? Are we back on the topic of wishes again?"

"Well, yeah."

"From Ghirardelli? Or me?"

"Well...you...people around town talk, you know and they say...they say...well...you're like...like the most powerful wizard on the planet....and....and I have pr...problems and people told me...I...I...I should...I should come to you while you was here, because you travel and..."

"So, you’ve come to make a wish? Throw a penny in the wishing well? Maybe you should be wishing for the ability to speak." Quaraun chuckled at his joke. "A moment ago you desperately needed my help, now you seek to make a wish. Make up your mind, Boy. Help and wishes. Wishes and help. Help or wish. Wish or help, what do you want?"

"Well...uhm...I ... uh... how are they different?"

Quaraun's pink pupiled pale blue eyes widened, then narrowed as he scrutinized the foolish young Pixie. Quaraun slipped out of his gold plated throne and paced around the room straighten things, moving nick-knacks, and cleaning as he spoke.

"Wishes granted are very different from help given. Help, well, help, helps you. Granted wishes are rarely helpful. In fact, more often than not, wishes granted usually make things worse."

"How?" 

"How? Wishes must be carefully worded, because what you ask for is what you will get. The problem is word meanings are very important, but the average person is simply too retarded to understand the meanings of any words they use. They say 'love' when they mean 'lust'. They say 'sleep' when they mean 'sex'. If you wish to sleep with a woman, than you shall. You will sleep. As in rest in an unconscious state. You will NOT have sex with her. And she'll probably stab you in your sleep and steel your gold, so you'll end up a dead virgin. Whereas if you ask for help, I could simply give you advice on how to seduce the women and you'd end up having sex. The power of dictionary definitions of words, is a powerful thing that incompetent fools oft overlook. What about men who say they want love, but all they really want is to rape the woman? That's all most love spells are you know, and excuse to rape. Humans don't know the meaning of the word love, they use it loosely and so incorrectly. But unlike other mages who give you dubious consent to rape a girl and call it a love spell, my spells deal with ACTUAL love, not rape, not sex. Use your word incorrectly and you'll be doomed by the curse of being loved to death, by a woman you actual hate and lusted for. Do you use words correctly?"

"I... uhm..."

"Perhaps you should first learn how to talk. One who lacks the ability to speak properly, certainly can't be expected to use words properly. You don't even have enough knowledge in how to talk properly, to try to interrupt my pontificating."

"You're what?"

"Pontificating. It's a word. It has meaning."

"What's it mean?"

"It means I'm an arrogant, self centred prick who likes to use flowery big words, for the sole purpose of attempting to annoy and confuse people around me, simply to prove that I am smart and they are stupid, and I have proved one thing already."

"What's that?"

"You ARE stupid."

"You’re mean."

"No. You being unable to face the truth, is your problem, not mine. Me telling you the truth is not me being mean. You want a wish and wishes rely on bringing words to life. If you can't even say the words you want to wish for, how do you expect to say the correct words correctly. When it comes to wishes, correct word usage is important. A slip of the tongue, a cough, or a sneeze, and you could find yourself turned into a rabbit..."

"Than I'd have ears like you."

"Hmmmm. No trouble saying that did you? You're someone who gets by, by bulling others. You don't know how to talk to anyone, because you are too busy being a bully."

"I'm not a bully!"

"No? The fence out front of this house had other things to say about that."

"The fence?"

"I'm a wizard, Kelim, but more than that, I am an Elf. I can feel the spirits, souls, thoughts, minds, and energies of every object. Every plant. Every animal. Every rock."

"And the fence? You hear the thoughts of the fence?"

"Yes. I hear the thoughts of the fence. I heard the thoughts of the fence. It's fear of you. It's sadness over your actions against it."

"How can a fence feel fear? It's just wood. Dead wood from a dead tree."

“Things dead, were once alive and I am a Necromancer. A dead piece of wood, was once a live tree. It’s soul haunts it’s dead body. That fence was made from the corpses of many dead trees. The souls of those dead beings, hover around the fence. Weeping.  Crying. Not understanding why the axe cut them. Hurt them. Robbed them of their life. For what? To made into a fence. It took them decades to come to terms with that. To come to terms with the fact that they were murdered, so that their bodies could be used to build a fence. They finally came to terms with it, and then shit head, little vandalizing hoodlums like you come along and break them up. Smash them apart. Why? Because you are a vile, evil, uncaring piece of shit, who thinks vandalism private property is fun and funny, oh, but I'm just a child, your parents should teach you better, your a vandalizing piece of shit, and you ought to die for that.”

"Die? For what? What did I do? I didn't do nothing!" 

"For how deplorably you treated an old woman. You neighbour. A member of your community. A woman, who needed your help. A woman who roamed the streets of your town, begging every one, any one for help, and what did you do? You laughed at her. You pushed her. You kicked her when she was down. Than just to pour salt into the wound, you trespassed onto her land and broke up her belongings. YOU Kelim are the one who is mean. YOU! And you have the gall to come to her and ask for help? Why should she help a piece of shit like you?"

"I need..."

"You NEED? What about HER needs? She felt the need to be protected. That's why the fence was there. She was scared. And she asked the people in your town for help, and when she did, you fucking bastards turned on her. Laughed at her. Hurt her. And then, you, YOU specifically, Kelim, YOU came here and smashed up the fence she hid behind. The fence she put up to protect herself. You violated her feeling of safety. The fence told me what you did and it told me how terrified she was by your actions. You gave no thought to her feelings. You thought only of yourself, even now."

"I..." Kelim looked around. He was scared of the Necromancer and his ability to see things Kelim had done in the past. "I..."

"You are caught and you don't know what to say, because you never expected anyone saw what you did and would tell on you. You thought your sins were hidden. Nothing you do under the shadow of night, can never be revealed by the light of the day. Be sure your sins will find you out."

"I..."

"You want help with a wish. Yes. I know. But you don't know the differance between help and wishes. Wishes are very different from help. You need to decide which one it is you want. I can grant your wishes or I can help you. I can do both or either or neither. You don't see them as being different?"

"Well, no! Why should I?"

Quaraun walked slowly around the Pixie, examining his shimmering green and gold butterfly wings. 

Quaraun did not like Fae. 

Good Fae. 

Bad Fae. 

Light Fae. 

Dark Fae. 

Water Fae. 

Mountain Fae. 

Trooping Fae. 

Solitaries. 

It didn't matter to him, the size or type, he didn't like them. 

Any of them. 

At all. 

Especially not Phookas.

Except... 

No. 

He hated Phookas. 

Yes. 

That was it. 

Faeries reminded him of Phookas. 

BoomFuzzy was a Phooka. 

King Gwallmaiic, King of the Faeries.

This Pixie was a Fairy. 

It was reminding him of Faeries. 

Which reminded him of Phookas. 

Which reminded him of BoomFuzzy.

He pondered the possibility of explaining to a Fae the difference between a wish and being in actual need of help, but concluded that he had yet to meet a Fae capable of logical thought or reasoning, and so trying to be either logical or reasonable with one, was absolutely pointless. 

"No. I suppose not. Fae have no logic or common sense in them at all. Ants have more intelligence. Too lazy to help yourselves. Always gotta bum off others. No self sufficiency in them at all. Ants are self sufficient you know. Do all the hard work themselves. You could learn something from ants. Though I do need more souls and willing souls don’t often come knocking at the door willing to throw themselves at me. So you desperately need my help with a wish then?"

"But I just... said... well... yeah...uhm...yes?"

"Alright. What is it then, this wish that you so desperately need my help with?"

"Well, you see, there's this...this...uhm...well... there's a...uhm...a....in the village...she...uhm..."

"A girl?"

Kelim blushed and stared at the wooden floorboards.

Quaraun shook his head. 

"It's always a girl. It's beyond me what you see in females. Nothing good about any of them, far as I've ever been able to tell. All they are good for is making babies and I can't see that that's very useful either. Babies just grow up to be adults and there aren’t a lot of good ones out there."

“Weren’t you in love?”

"Pixies," Quaraun muttered to himself, as he made his way across the room to a shelf with more small glass bottles on it. "I hate Faeries. Pixies no better than any other Fae..."

"Are you talking to yourself?"

"Oh course I'm talking to myself, I'm insane, remember? And there's no one else with a brain around here for me to talk to, now is there?"

"I'm here."

"That's exactly my point."

"You're mean, aren't you?"

"I'm an Elf."

"You don't have to be mean."

"I'm the Grand High Emperor of The Triple Planets, I can be whatever the Hell, I want."

"You..."

"Have you ever even talked to an Elf before?"

"No. We don't see many Elves around here."

"I've noticed that. Is it any wonder why, with Finderu around here?"

"Finderu?"

"I don't like Finderu, do you?"

"No."

"Good, then we're on the same page. Now what do you want from me?"

"Can you cast a love spell on Ophelia?"

"Cast a ... You want me to cast love spell? You don't know anything about magic do you?"

"Wha...what do you mean?"

"Magic is great and dandy for what it does, but magic has its limits. Things it can't do."

"So you can't cast a love spell?"

"That's not what I said. I'm a Wizard of the Di'jinn Order, I can cast any spell. I'm just not sure if you know what you want."

"I want a love spell."

"Do you even know what a love spell does?"

"It makes someone fall in love with you."

Quaraun shook his head.

"Why must I work with idiots and fools? Fools and idiots. Fucking imbeciles."

"I'm not an idiot..."

"Well then, you must be a fool."

"I'm a Pixie..."

"And I'm an Elf."

"So?"

"So you're the idiot who came to me for help, because you couldn't find anyone else with enough brain to help you."

"I... uhm..."

"You know I'm right."

"Uhmm..."

"Bit of advice, Boy, don't argue with an Elf, especially not one who is also a Di'Jinn. Especially not one as arrogant as me.”

“I’m kind of surprised you admit it.”

“What that I’m arrogant? I know what I am, Boy, I’m not going to hide it. You're lucky I don't cut off your head and stuff you in a bottle."

"Why would you do that?"

"Because I'm a Di'Jinn, it's what I do."

"Putting heads in bottles?"

"No," Quaraun pulled a severed head out of the pink heart-shaped bag of holding hanging from his belt. Fresh blood was still dripping from the ragged flesh of the severed throat. The eyes blinked and looked around. The mouth was gagged and moving as though trying to scream. "I keep the heads in my pocket. I keep the headless bodies in a bottle. Keeps them from getting back up and walking around. They need their heads to be resurrected, but not their bodies. A talking head can't go nowhere without its body. They are stuck here with me for eternity. Each has their own bottle.”

“Who... who...” Kelim pointed to the head in Quaraun’s hand.

“Who is this? This one is Ghirardelli. The Swamp Hag who lived here. Fucking Guild member. Would rather protect Finderu and lose her head than tell me where he is."

"You're holding a head."

"Of course I am. I'm a Necromancer. Did you forget that?"

"You're... you're..." Kelim stared bug eyed at Ghirardelli's head.

"I'm what?"

"A murderer."

"Yes. Of course I am. What did you expect? Pink ponies and purple unicorns pooping out rainbows? I’m a fucking Necromancer. We kill people for a living, so we can resurrect them as our undead minions. Talking heads are particular favourite of mine. Them and Liches.”

“Is that what Necromancers do?”

“No, we plant roses and hand out candy canes to children. How stupid are you?”

“I don’t understand.”

“Clearly. I’m a Necromancer. Being able to commit murder is kind of in the job description. I didn't used to be. Pity. That what love does to you, you know? Did you know I'm the victim of a love spell? And I’m the fucking mage who cast it. I'm very good at love spells. I cast one on myself and my lover, centuries ago, but he died and now I'm insane, and cut off heads. Still think you want a love spell cast on you?"

Quaraun stared at the head, holding it face to face with himself.

"What's love have to do with... with... that." Kelim pointed to the head.

"She hated BoomFuzzy."

"What?"

"She helped Finderu found The Guild."

"I don't understand."

"I don't expect you would. You're neither Elf, nor Wizard."

"Did you kill her?"

"I'll kill you as well, if you refuse to cease squabbling with me."

Quaraun placed the head back in his bag.

"Why did you do that?"

"Do what?"

"Kill her."

"Oh, I don't know," the annoyed Elf seethed, sarcastically.  "Perchance, perhaps, maybe, it might possibly, involve something to do with the fact of my being ever just so desperately insane. Or maybe it’s because I’m a Necromancer. And slaughtering people in as much gore filled carnage and bloodshed as we can muster, is we Necromancers do for a living. Or maybe, just maybe, it might be because that fucking little nosy assed, psychotic bitch, couldn't mind her own damned business and she encouraged Finderu to plot to assassinate BoomFuzzy. Or as it may as well be, it’s none of your fucking god damned business. You came hitherto me for assistance with wishes not to interrogate me on my habits."

"You really are insane, aren't you?"

"No. Actually I'm not. And people don't refer to me as insane because I collect heads because most people aren't even aware I do that. They call me insane because of the fashion of my attire. Now do you want your love potion or not?"

Kelim blushed again. 

"Shy one, aren't we?"

"I..."

"Always bargain during the harvest season. It's the wrong time of year for love spells."

"What?" Kelim felt confused, as though he's missed something.

Quaraun had pulled a large wooden chest from his hip bag and was now unpacking it. It too seemed to be a bag of holding, as he was unloading lots of other boxes out of it, way more than what should have fit it it. Or perhaps it was a Mimic, as it bit him a few times, while he was unpacking it.

The ancient wizard was muttering to himself as he unpacked smaller boxes out of the bigger boxes. And than he unpacked lots of tiny potion bottles out of the smaller boxes.

"Passion potion. Appreciation draught.  Comeuppance cordial.  Reckoning potion.  Cupid's sachet. Retribution potion. Hot Footing powder. Jack balls. Friendship potion. Reconciliation elixir. Worry potion. Friendship draught.  Retaliation cordial.  Black salt. Punishment potion.  Compassion sachet. Heartbroken potion. Goffer powder. Gris-gris. Fear potion. Harmony elixir..." 

"I want a love spell, not those other ones."

"Shut up," Quaraun snapped at the boy. "I'm looking for something. Stop interrupting me." 

"Okay."

The Elf went back to talking to himself, reading the labels off bottles and jars and little pepper pots as he unboxed them and laid them out on the floor all around him.

"Anger potion. Gratitude draught.  Requital cordial.  Arithmetic potion.  Cupid's potpourri. Revenge potion. Quarrel powder. Holy Water. Good will potion. Harmony elixir. Misery potion. Intimacy draught.  Eye for an eye cordial.  Diabolical savor. Torture potion.  Sympathy sachet. Empathy potion. Uncrossing powder. Wangas. War Water. YaYa potion. Seven Orisha elixir... ah! Here it is! Love potion."

Quaraun held up a tiny red glass bottle.

"You keep everything pre made in bottles?"

"Of course I do.”

“Why?” 

“A wise person is always prepared for anything.”

“But couldn’t you just, I don’t know, make it in the kitchen? Seems a trouble to have to carry it around with you.” 

“Look around you, Boy. I don’t live here. You know that. I don’t live any where. I’m a homeless wandering vagabond.”

“But couldn’t you just use this house?” 

“This isn't my house you know. It's that Swamp Bitch's house. I don't know what ingredients she has available. Or where anything is. When I'm at home I can make all my potions ahead of time. Well, all the ones that can be made ahead of time.”

“You just said you were homeless.”

“Yes. I did. And I am. But I have places I go. People who let me stay with them.” 

“Oh. But I thought you was going to make me a love potion special just for me.”

“Are you willing to wait long enough for me to make one special just for you?”

“I can wait. I’m here, aren’t I?”

“You really don’t know nothing about potion making do you?”

"What do you mean?"

"Answer my question. Yes or no? No or yes? Which is it? Do you know how potions are made?"

“No. Why?”

“How long are you expecting to wait?”

“How long does it take?”

“About 4 months.”

“Four months!”

“Maybe more.”

“More?”

“Yes. Depends on which recipe I use and what plants are available in this area. Could be a couple of years if I had to travel to some distant land in search of, I don’t know, some rare black orchid.”

“Years? Multiple years to make one potion?”

“Oh, yes. You weren't expecting me to wave a wand and go POOF! Were you?” Quaraun pulled out his wand as he spoke and waved it around over his head.

“Well, yeah, kind of. You are a wizard, after all.”

“You been reading too many Fairy Tales, Boy. Real world magic, isn’t like what they tell you in Fantasy novels.”

“But magic is real, right?”

“Oh, yes. Magic is most certainly real. I just think, real magic, may not be quite so glamorous as you are imagining it to be.”

“So, no magic wands?”

“No.”

“But you are holding one.”

“What? This?” Quaraun waved the wand around again. “This is nothing.”

“Than why do you have it?”

“In case I need to kill someone.”

“Kill some one?”

“Yes.”

“With a little wooden stick?”

“Yes.”

“How?”

“Well, usually, I just wave it around while I talk, and when they least expect it, I ram it up their nose and through their brain. And POOF! Instant death by magic wand. No magic needed.”

“You’re kind of violent, aren’t you?”

“The world is a violent place, Kelim. Of, course, I can also just do this.”

Quaraun spun around, aimed the wand, and a brilliant purple bolt of lightening shot out from the end of the wand and blew up the table on the other side of the room, leaving nothing but a smouldering piles of ashes where moments ago had been a table.

“That... that.. how..?”

“I am the world’s most powerful wizard.”

“But... you said...”

“That wizards couldn’t do that sort of thing? Yes, I did. And most wizards can’t. White Magic, Green Magic, tender footed morally ambiguous Grey Magic or any of those other tutti-fruittie legal forms of lovey dovey good and lawful magic arts can’t produce these kinds of results. Dark arts, Blood Magic, Demonology, Necromancy, my boy, are far more powerful, and allow for the type of magic, I do. Did you know I can shoot fireballs from my nipples?”

"What?"

"Magic nipple rings. Some for fire. Some for ice. Some for lightening. And not just nipple rings. I have 58 rings in my scrotum. Each one powers a different spell. I can piss fireballs if I wanted to."

“You’re evil. Aren’t you?”

“Evil is a matter of perspective. I do not see myself as evil, Kelim. But Finderu and his Guild, THEY most certainly think of me as evil. As does most of the high populating snooty citizens of the world.”

“So, you...”

Quaraun ignored Kelim and went on talking.

“These things don't make themselves instantly you know.” Quaraun held up a potion bottle. ”When it comes to love potions, people want them, now, not a week from now or a month from now, not tomorrow or the next day. They want immediate, now. You want this NOW, right?”

“Well, yeah...” 

“See? I know what my customers want. I know how the consumer thinks. Instant gratification. That’s all any one wants. Love or otherwise, they always want instant results. You want instant results, yes?”

“Yes.”

“They don't like to be told it takes me a week to reduce the flower essence down into oils. Do you want to wait weeks for me to gather 1,000 pink rose petals and boil them down into a reduced goop?”

“No.”

“No! Of course not! And who am I to make you wait? They don't want to hear that it'll take me 6 months to travel to where the flower grows and pick it. You wouldn’t want to wait 6 months, would you?”

“No.”

“You want Ophelia, now, not 6 months from now. Yes?”

“Yes.”

“Exactly! They don't want to wait weeks for the next blue moon for me to prepare it under. By having the potions pre-made, I can give you instant results, that no other wizard can provide. They are too busy, sitting on their lazy asses, in their hovels, waiting for clients to come to them and give them requests. Me? I come to you. You can find me at any tavern near you. And I have everything already made, so you can buy it immediately, and I can go back to my drink. I just make some of everything and have them already and waiting for you, before you even know you needed it. I know who wants what and make it before they get here.”

“Did you know I would be coming?”

“Yes. I did. I just did not know when. But I knew, at some point, you would find me. So, I have several love potions already made, some that took me many moons to make.”

“Moons?”

“I am a Moon Elf. We do everything by moon phases.”

“Do you?”

“Yes. Spells take weeks, months, to prepare. Certain things must be done on certain days. Specific moon phases. It takes months to get all parts made, just for a single potion, because so many moon phases are involved.” 

“Is it really that important?”

“Yes. And a man with a horney dick can't wait even minutes for a potion to convince the girl to let him fuck her. So they certainly won't wait months for me to make their potion. Thus, lots of boxes of lots of bottles of potions that I made months ago. I've a potion for everything.”

“Everything?”

“Everything. The advantage of being a travelling wizard for hire, and why my services are more in demand. More than any other wizard. Even though I’m a wanted criminal with a price on my head. No one turns me in, because they always need something from me, and they know they can ONLY get it from me.”

“But there are other wizards...”

“No other wizard offers my services, Boy. And my prices can't be beat. Everything is free, just sign me over your soul. Isn’t that why you came to ME, and not one of the other wizards?”

“Uhm... yeah... kind of... every one says you’re the best.”

“I AM the best.”

“Did you even consider going to one of the local wizards?”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Uhm... they’re all friends of Finderu.”

“Finderu.”

“Yeah. This town is kind of the hot spot for wizards. Every street has one or two. But, I don’t know...”

“They’re all Guild members.”

“Yeah.”

“Keep their noses clean. Never touch any of that big bad, spooky, scary, boga-booga, evil, black arts, dark magic.”

“Yeah.”

“They heal warts and pimples and the common cold, but can’t call down thunder storms or raise the dead or make your dear sweet Ophelia fall in love with you.”

“Yeah.”

“A bunch of incompetent losers and are nothing but wannabes in wizard’s clothing.”

“Yeah... it’s like... like... like they are a club and... and ... they only help wealthy people with aches and pains, and... I don’t know... nothing any of them does ever seems like real magic.”

“Poor Kelim. And that’s why you came to me.”

“Yeah, because, you... you... well... I think other wizards are scared of you.”

“They are. EVERYONE is scared of me.”

“It’s like, what they do isn’t real, but what you do is real, and they are so scared of you, that they... they...”

“They want to kill me to eliminate the competition?”

“Yeah. That too, but.. but... also...”

“They want to kill me so know one ever finds out what they do isn’t real magic, so no one knows the charlatans they truly are, because if anyone compared what they do to what I do, they’d know the Guild members were a bunch of phonies.”

“Yeah. That.”

 “And that my boy is exactly why the Guild wants me dead. They may say it’s for all those other reasons, but really they are just a bunch of losers, incompetent, bumbling wizards who can’t cast a proper spell, can’t brew a decent potion, and they know it. They are jealous of my skill, and want me dead, for no other reason, than I am their biggest competition.”

“How come you have more skill? Why can’t they do what you do?”

“I am 750 years old, and I was born, what people called ‘A Chosen One’”

“A Chosen One?”

“Yes. At the time I was born, there was some idiotic prophecy about a child with the powers of a god, that was going to be born, and everyone thought it was me.”

“Was it you?”

“Who knows. I don’t know. Maybe? Maybe not. That’s the point. The point is, my mother started teaching me magic arts when I was 3 years old, and she took me to visit these priests who supposedly were going to school me in magic.”

Quaraun paused. The thought of his mother, seemed to pain him. He became visibly upset.

“Did they?”

“Teach me magic? No. It was a trap. An ambush. The priests turned out to be Thullids. ZooLock in fact.”

“ZooLock! ZooLock the Great?”

“Yes.”

“Protector of the innocent? Defeater of Oolong the Stupid?”

“Yes." Quaraun rolled his eyes. "That ZooLock.”

“You’ve actually met him?”

“Yes.”

“Wow!”

“A fan of his?”

“Isn’t everyone?”

“No.” Quaraun's voiced seethed with loathing at the thought of ZooLock.

“He’s like, like... I don’t know, he’s like the most famous monk ever.”

“Yes. I do believe he is. And he kept me prisoner for thousands of years.”

“What? I thought you were 750 years old?”

“Quaraun is.”

“Aren’t you Quaraun?”

“Quaraun died centuries ago.”

“I don’t understand. I thought...”

“Quaraun’s mother took him to a group of priests, to school him in magic. But it was a trap. An ambush. The priests turned out to be Thullids. ZooLock was on the run. He’d kidnapped The Sacred Pink JellyFish.”

“She died didn’t she?”

“The Scared Pink JellyFish?”

“Yeah.”

“No. Quaraun did. The Elf died. But I still live.”

“Aren’t you Quaraun?”

“No. I’m The Sacred Pink JellyFish."

"You're the Sacred Pink JellyFish?" 

"Yes."

"How can you be? You're an Elf."

"ZooLock ripped opened the Elfling’s skull and put me inside. I ate Quaraun’s brain. He died a horrible death, that I might live. If he was The Chosen One, he died before anyone had a chance to find out for certain. But there was something different about him. That’s why ZooLock chose him for my host. I was able to grown and reach my full potential with his body. Something I could not have done in another Elf.”

“So you are a Thullid?”

“Yes. I am a Thullid.”

“Your the Thullid Goddess, The Sacred Pink JellyFish?”

“Yes.”

“And that’s why you can do magic, no one else can do?”

“Exactly.”

“So, you do Thullid magic, because you are a Thullid?”

“Yes.”

“So than, Quaraun is Demon Possessed?”

“How do you come by that logic?”

“Well, aren’t Thullids, Demons? And aren’t you living inside the body of an Elf, controlling his mind and thoughts and body?”

“Yes. This is all true.”

“Than you are a Demon possessed Elf, right?”

“I suppose one could see it that way.”

“Okay.”

“And that does not bother you?”

“No. This is great in fact!”

“Is it?”

“Yes!”

“How so?”

“Because that means your magic is real magic. It’s Demon Magic! That means you really can make Ophelia want me!”

"WANT you?"

"Yes!"

"That's different than love, boy."

"No, it's not."

"And this makes you overjoyed?"

"Of course it does!"

"Interesting. Usually it makes people want to run with terror as far from me as they can get."

"But this means you can actually, real help me!"

“Do you think you can afford me?”

“I have money.”

Quaraun scoffed.

Kelim felt confused. As though he had missed some important bit of information.

"What's wrong?"

“What use has a Demon for money?”

“What do people usually pay you with if not money?”

“Their souls.”

“You want my soul?”

“What I WANT is Finderu’s soul.”

“Finderu?”

“And his head.”

“But... uhm... does that mean you want me to kill Finderu?”

“Ideally, yes.”

“But Finderu is Ophelia’s father. If I kill her dad, then she’ll never want me.”

“Ah! But with the proper love spell, things like that won’t matter.”

“Won’t it?” The little, green and gold winged Pixie asked.

“No. If I cut your soul in half and cut her soul in half, and put a half of your soul in her and a half of her soul in you, the two of you will be bound together, forever, for time and all eternity. She’ll cherish you from beyond the grave.” 

Quaraun’s voice faded into sad, distant thoughts. He was soul bound, but his lover was dead. And yet he could still feel every thought, every emotion, every scream of agony from beyond the grave. 

"I don't want her to cherish me from beyond the grave. I want her to need me now, while we are both still alive."

"To love beyond death is a beautiful thing."

“Does it hurt?” Kelim asked, unable to mask the fear in his voice. The thought of death terrified him to no end. He didn’t like thinking about death.

“Hmmm?” Quaraun’s mind had drifted off into a hazy, foggy, fizzy, figgy, daze as he thought gloomy, dreary thoughts of his dead lover. 

“Does what hurt?”

“Cutting your soul in half?”

“Oh, no. That part is quite painless. Love, however, is never painless. The pain comes later. Death, brings with it, such lose, such loneliness. You feel everything they feel. You know all their thoughts. All their emotions. You are sad when they are sad. You feel the joy when they laugh. Their mirth bubbles inside you. When they are cut, you bleed with them. And when they die, you feel every last throws of death, as they feel it. Their joys become your joys. Their sufferings, your sufferings. Their death, your eternal doom.”

“I don’t want eternal doom. I want Ophelia.”

“Doom and gloom. Gloom and doom. You can not have true love without true suffering. They travel hand in hand. Skipping across your soul in fettered glee. Tormenting your mind. Haunting your spirit. Delighting in the joys of squashing your soul into the dirt. Love hurts. But your soul screams for it. Longs for it. Begs for it. No matter the cost. Love will trample your heart. Beat it into the ground. And you will want it ever still, ever more. The more love hurts you, the more you crave it.”

“Uhm… I want Ophelia to need me, not trample me into the ground.”

“Females trample the men they love into the ground. Without a love spell, she will use you and lose you. With a love spell, she’ll just use you. It is the nature of women and is precisely why I do not like women. Females are horrible creatures. I absolutely despise them.”

The blue eyed Elf wrinkled his nose in disgust as he thought of women.

“Ophelia isn’t like that.”

“No? And how exactly would you know? You’ve never even met her. You know nothing about her. You are mesmerized by her beauty. You know nothing of her personality. You lust after her. You do not love her. If you loved her, you would take her with all her flaws. And you would enjoy it when she trampled you.”

“Uhm…. uh… okay… but… uhm…”

“Back to the uhms again.”

“You became rather morbid there. I want Ophelia, not, that, whatever that is that you are describing.”

“Boy, you know nothing of love.”

Quaraun shook the thought from his mind, and his voice became overly cheerful and chipper.

“Together. Forever. True, genuine, authentic love can never die. Love that stays, ever and always. Unbreakable. Unshakable. The beauty of such a romance! To never be parted! Not even by death. The sensations of such a love. You can not even begin to imagine. The pair of thee shall be told of in legends.”

“I...uhm.. that.. not... I... don’t want... I just...”

“Soul binding too much for you?”

“I just want Ophelia to be with me, not that... that...”

"There is anther suitor?"

"She's getting married. I have to stop it."

"Why?"

"Because I need her, not him!"

“You do not want a romance that lasts forever?”

“I... I...uhm... I don’t... I... uhm...”

“Back to the uhms again. All right. We shall take note of that. Soul binding is too big and scary of a love spell for you. You want transitory love, not everlasting love. What else have we got?”

“You have more than one type of love spell?”

“Yes, I do. What we need to do it to determine which love spell you prefer. I can have the potion you want in minutes. You don’t have to wait months if you get your potions from me. But, we need to figure out what exactly it is you want it to do.”

“I want Ophelia.”

“Yes. You’ve said that. But which type of spell do you want?”

“I... uhm... do other wizards have different types of love spells?”

“No. They do not. That is why their conjurations so often fail, and mine do not. Every customer has different insurgencies. There is no one size fits all love spell. I’m a better wizard than other wizards because I know what the consumer wants. I let the customer think they are invariably correct, even when they aren’t. You want a love potion. You can’t be talked out of a love potion. I have love potions pre-prepared precisely for folks like you. So, you shall have a love potion. Now to work out WHICH love potion is appropriate for you and your case.”

“Which potion?”

“Yes. Which?”

“Are there many?”

“Yes. I have many. All do something different.”

“Is it many, as if a few or lots?”

“Oh, my, yes! Thousands. I don’t have so many pre-made. Many can’t be pre-made and must be made specific to the couple in question. But we can start you out with a pre-made one. And if that doesn’t manage the action you expect it to, we can think about a custom prepared one for you.”

"Why so many different?"

"There are different types of love."

"There are?"

"You don't love your mother the same way you love your wife, now do you?" Quaraun eyed the Pixie suspiciously. "Of course, you're a Faerie, so perhaps you do."

"I want Ophelia to need me. Whatever type that is."

"Tis planting season, not harvest season and you are bargaining for a great cause..."

"A great cause?" Kelim didn't understand. 

The Moon Elf seemed to be conveying only half of what he was thinking. Either that or he truly was insane and not capable of reasoning too plainly. Kelim didn’t think he had ever met an insane person before. So he wasn’t sure what to expect from this man, rumoured to be insane.

“Love is a great motive. Perhaps the only cause truly worth fighting for.” Quaraun stopped what he was doing and turned to the Pixie. “Would YOU fight for love?”

“Uhm...I... uhm...”

“Uhm is not an answer. You hesitate at too many things, Boy.” 

The Elf snapped his perfectly manicured fingers in Kelim’s face.

“It’s a simple answer, Boy, yes or no. There’s nothing to think about, no ahhs, errs, or uhmms, it should be just automatic: yes or no.”

“I’m just a boy, you know!” Kelim pouted. “I don’t know all the right answers yet. I’m not some ancient wise old Wizard who’s spent a lifetime studying brick a brack tomes.”

“Ancient and old? Old and ancient. You think I’m old?”

The Necromancer stopped what he was doing, stepped back, and stared dumbfounded at the Pixie. 

The De Ja Vue of this conversation irritated him. Had not Ghirardelli also called him old? And had he not killed her for that very reason? 

Of course, he had planned to kill her anyway, but he had planned to wait and get more information out of her first. He’d lost his temper when she called him old and ancient. Ancient and old. And this upset him deeply, because he was old. 

He was very old. 

He was many tens of thousands of years old. 

The Sacred Pink JellyFish had been tens of thousands of years old before being implanted into the Elf and now the Elf, trapped in an immortality love spell that cursed him to relive life for eternity, had caused the Elf to be many tens of thousands of years old as well. Quaraun had no ability of accurately determining his age, and the thought that he was old for eternity deeply upset him.

“Old and ancient. Ancient and old.”

Quaraun breathed erratically, hyperventilating as he said this. The old Elf’s voice sounded wounded, and Kelim instantly regretted his sudden outburst. Quaraun silently mouthed the words ancient and old several times.

“Do I look old to you?” Quaraun asked the Pixie, but then did not wait for an answer.

Quaraun’s expression had changed. Calm and composed before, confident in his arrogance, Quaraun could not now mask the nervous, unsettled, panicked anxiety that shivered through him, causing his body to tremble. Quaraun held onto the table to steady himself. He was shaking so badly, he feared he would fall.

Much to Kelim’s surprise, Quaraun pulled a full-length mirror out of his impossibly tiny purse. Then stood in front of it muttering to himself about being ancient, trapped in immortality, reliving old age for eternal lifetimes, while he stared horrified, stressed, and confused at his own reflection.

“I didn’t mean...” Kelim tried to explain he wasn’t calling the Elf old, but Quaraun wasn’t listening to Kelim. The abnormally vain Elf had pulled a silver brush from the bag and was now nervously brushing his luxuriant white Rapunzel hair. 

No. 

Brushing his hair was not quite an accurate statement. Quaraun was ripped the bristles through his locks with a frantic abandon. The thought that he might have aged had triggered the Elf into a self-absorbed frenzy of fussing over what he looked like while frantically brushing his hair. 

So alarmed was Kelim, by how disturbed Quaraun was, that Kelim failed to notice the fine strands of Quaraun’s hair, wiggling, recoiling to escape the onslaught of the hairbrush. 

Realizing the brush was injuring his delicate tentacles, Quaraun set the brush aside and instead set out to looking for a basin. Filled it with water, from where Kelim could not tell, and set about instead to washing his hair.

As he shampooed his hair, the elderly wizard continued to mutter about being elderly and trailed off into speaking a squishy, slithering, snake-like language Kelim did not understand.

“I didn’t say you looked old. Hey!”

Kelim tried to get Quaraun’s attention. But it was a fruitless endeavour. Quaraun was fully focused on lathering suds into his twelve foot long hair, a task which would take hours to undertake.

The fragrant, clean, fresh smell of herbal shampoo filled the hair as glistening bubbles drifted lazily through the room.

In between washing strands of his mega long hair, the Elf searched in the mirror for wrinkles on his face. 

Kelim couldn’t tell what the Elf was saying, but whatever it was, Quaraun sounded terrified. Kelim wondered how it was a person could become so afraid of old age, but that appeared to be the situation.

Kelim tried several times to talk to Quaraun. The little green and gold-winged Fairy might as well been talking to a stone wall. The vain, paranoid, self absorbed Elf was not hearing a word Kelim was trying to say.

Kelim immediately understood that this Elf was very self-conscious about his looks. Kelim lamented what he had said. Though Kelim did not regret it out of any concern for the Elf. Rather, Kelim regretted it because it seemed apparent that once concerned about his looks, the Elf had forgotten Kelim’s presence. Quaraun was too busy primping in the mirror. The Pink Necromancer was no longer concerned with helping Kelim to get Ophelia. And this was a problem for Kelim.

Kelim stamped his foot in frustration. He didn’t know what else to do. Kelim had not intended to hurt the Elf’s feelings. And obviously this was highly narcissistic, egotistical Elf. A sad, lonely, depressed Elf, suffering from some serious vanity and pride issues. It occurred to Kelim that claiming the Elf old could ruin his chances of getting any help from the Elf.

It took Quaraun three hours to wash his hair, and by that time he had calmed down considerably, 

"Are you still here?" Quaraun asked Kelim.

"Well... I... uhmmm..."

"You insulted me."

“I... I’m...I’m sorry, that didn’t come out right. I wasn’t thinking, I...”

“You seem to do a lot of that. You're lack of any ability to think is going to get you in a heaping world of trouble one day. Especially if you continue to run around requesting wishes be granted. The ability to think before speaking is paramount to the success of any wish you seek.”

Quaraun turned back to a shelf full of strange looking curio objects, which he had been organizing earlier. Jars of bird's feet and lizards tongue and such other things. 

"I... I..."

"I. I . I. Lack of thinking is a serious flaw on your part. Almost as bad as you inability to speak properly. Of course you're a Faerie, so what else is there to expect? It's why you're here is it not? Hasty thinking, don't know what else to do, ain't got enough sense to jerk yourself off, cum on your feet. Oh noooo. Got a little cunt ya want to be fucking. Can't find a way to fuck her, so let's run to the local Wizard whom we think is more powerful than the Wizard whose daughter I want to fuck."

"I didn't say I wanted to..."

Quaraun turned and stared at the young Pixie. He didn't need to say a word, Kelim could see from the look on his face, that Quaraun was accusing him of lying. Kelim hung his head and looked at the large wooden table.

The Moon Elf strode across the room and flung himself into a large throne like chair. He sat there staring at the Pixie waiting for him to say something. Seeing that Kelim wasn't going to speak, the Necromancer went back to talking.

"Of course that says something about Finderu, doesn't it? Big bad powerful Wizard, and he can't handle his own daughter. That's what comes of fucking girls. You end up with a pregnant bitch and babies to raise.”

“What’s wrong with having a family?”

“Families die and leave you alone.”

“Did you have a...”

“My family is dead.”

“I’m sorry.”

 “Wizards should never have families. You lose your focus. Finderu was never a contender for World's Most Powerful wizard now was he? And he can't stand it. So what does he do? Do you know what he did?”

“No.” 

“Organized a group of bloodthirsty militant Wizards to band together and kill off every last Wizard who is not a member of their group. Then they take over the government. Crown themselves law of the  land That's what he did!"

"Is that bad?"

"Law of the land! Finderu! Bah! Of course that's bad."

"So..."

"Crowned himself law of the land and forbid all types of magic they are too incompetent to practice themselves. Kill off anyone who can practice the advanced arts.”

“You're talking about The Guild?”

“Yes. That's what The Guild is, Kelim. That's the kind of Wizard Finderu is. And me, being the most powerful Wizard of them all, he's got more prizes on my head than any other Wizard.” 

“Aren’t you wanted for murder?”

“That, and bathing too often, among other things.”

“Bathing too often?”

“Have you seen the wanted posters lately? I doubt he even as half the money he says my head is worth. And you come along, want to stick your prick in his bitch’s cunt, and who do you go to for help? The person Finderu hates most of all. Me."

Quaraun held up a wanted poster with his face on it.

"You know these pictures don't do me justice. I should do a sit down with their artist. Pose for my wanted poster. Now I ask you, does this even look anything like me?"

Kelim looked at the wanted poster.




WANTED: 


QUARAUN THE INSANE: 


Wanted for Necromancy, Demonology, Sorcery, Black Magic, murder, rape, buggery, sodomy, cross-dressing, bathing more than twice a year... 





There were more things on the list, but Quaraun rolled up the poster and stuffed it back in his bag, before Kelim had time to read the rest.

"I am the most beautiful Elf the world has ever seen. Look at me! That artist, clearly never saw me. How does Finderu ever expect to capture me if he can't even find an artist that can capture my beauty?"

"You're very vain, aren't you?"

“You would be too, if you were as beautiful as me."

"Ophelia is as beautiful as you."

"No one is as beautiful as me."

Kelim slowly lifted his eyes to meet those of the Necromancer. Quaraun was sitting very stiff, leaning forward with his thin elbows on the arms of the chair and his long bony fingers crossed in front of him. Kelim thought the Elf looked very smug and regal, almost kingly, well queenly, the guy was wearing a pink dress after all. Kind of hard to take a fearsome Elf like Quaraun totally seriously when he was sitting there sparkling from head to toe in pink sequins. But still, his cold eyes were formidable and warned that this was not an Elf to be reckoned with.

"I need her. To me that makes her more beautiful than anyone."

"Well, you know what they say. Love is blind."

"Are you going to make a spell for me or not?"

"You do understand, Boy, that these things always come with a cost. Don't you?"

"How much do you want?"

"I'm a Necromancer. Only thing I ever want is souls. Souls and heads. Heads and souls. They are very valuable. And hard to come by. You pay with your soul or you pay with your head. Either or both, I don't care which."

"You're mad."

The Moon Elf laughed wickedly, "I'm supposedly insane, what did you expect?"

"How much does a spell cost?"

"I already told you."

"No, you didn't. I need to know how much to pay you."

"I’m not talking about money, Boy. I have plenty of money. Here!" Quaraun reached into his bag and pulled out a handful of gold coins and tossed them across the room in Kelim's direction. "Take some coins. Buy yourself a mansion. Let Ophelia marry you for money."

Kelim stared at the gold coins, now scattered across the floor.

“Are you serious?”

“Yes. I’m an Elf. I never joke. Take the gold. I don’t need it.”

"I can't take your gold."

"Why not? I don't need it and I've plenty more where that came from."

"Where'd you get it?"

"I killed a black, mountain dragon. I have a dragon's hoard. I own a volcano filled to overflowing with jewels and gold."

Quaraun slid off the huge pink cushioned gold throne and glided back to where Kelim stood. Kelim leaned over cock-eyed trying to see if the Elf's feet were touching the ground or not. He seemed to be floating several inches off the ground, but Kelim couldn't tell as the pink silks were fluttering on the ground and the Elf's feet could not be seen.

"Take the gold, Kelim. Buy the whore. Better than a love spell."

“No, it’s not.”

“Yes, Kelim, it is. In your case. All you want is a bitch to fuck. So go get yourself a bitch willing to be fucked. The only love spell that'll satisfy you is a dubious consent spell at best and a rape spell at worst, and I don't deal in either."

“That’s not what I want.”

“Really? Could have fooled me.”

“I want Ophelia.”

“But you don’t want the bad that comes with the good. All you want is a pretty flower willing to jump in your bed. You have no desire for love. You cringe at the thought of all of love’s side effects. And there ARE side effects to love. Love comes with more bad than good. If you only want the good, than love is not what you want. You know nothing about love.”

“I know what I want!”

“Do you?”

“Yes.”

“No! You don’t. You are young and foolish. You have no idea what love is. You only know the fairy tale fantasy. You know nothing of real love.”

“Do you?”

“YES. I. DO.” Quaraun snarled in raged fury as he said this last line.

Kelim stepped back. The Elf looked terrifying just now. Kelim didn’t doubt that Quaraun had been truly in love. But the love that Quaraun spoke of... it was terrifying. Painful. Suffering. That wasn’t what Kelim thought of when he thought of love.

“I.. I.. I want Ophelia to need me.”

“And you think a love spell will do that?”

Quaraun rolled the tiny red glass bottle over and over in his hand as he spoke. The fiery glare in his crystal blue eyes sent shivers down Kelim’s spine. All Kelim wanted to do was buy a love spell and be gone. Why was this old Elf making it so difficult for him? Kelim wanted to fold up like a piece of paper and slip under the door. To run and hide. This pale Moon Elf was scaring him.

“I need her...”

“Do you?”

“Yes!”

“Do you even know what love is?”

“Of course I do!”

“I think not. Kelim. I think you have a lot of growing up to do. I think, you are too immature to understand true love. I think, the consequences of love, actual love, are too great for your mind to handle. You act like love is something you can buy from any merchant. Disposable. Replaceable. Get a filly. Try her out. The toss her aside for a new model when you get bored. Love is a deep and important thing. It lasts forever. I loved once. I still love. But my lover is dead. But love, true love, is forever. It never dies. Souls can reach across time and space and touch each other, long after death. He is long dead, but I can still feel his soul. Forever’s a long time, Boy. If you truly love her, you’ll still love her, when she’s dead and gone. And you won’t replace her with another, because love doesn’t do that. True love lasts. Only lust replaces a lover, because lust isn’t love. Love is loyal. Love is devoted. Love is faithful. Love is forever. Do you love her or do you lust after her?”

“I need her.”

“And yet you don’t know her.”

“I...”

“You never meet her, even.”

“I...”

“Does she have any pets?”

“I... uhm… I… don’t… uhm…”

“What type of food does she eat?”

“I...”

“How old is she?”

“I..."

“What is her favourite colour?”

“I... I want her to want me.”

“Want is not a colour, Kelim.”

"I..."

“Do you know anything about her at all?”

“She works in the bakery to spite her father because he doesn’t want her associating with common peasants. He says he’ll turn all us peasants into pheasants if he catches any of us with her.”

“Hmmm. There’s an added detail, you neglected to mention before. And, how do you plan to prevent yourself from being turned into a fine feathered friend, after my love spell makes her love you?”

“I… uhm… wouldn’t the spell fix that?”

Quaraun shook his head.

“Oh. Uhm… well… could you do a spell to fix that, too?”

“Kelim, I can’t fix all of your problems with magic.”

“Why not?”

“Because, I’m not your slave. I’m not going to let you pull me around by a nose ring, and force me to do everything for you. I’m not an ox.”

“But you do have a ring in your nose.”

“Yes I do. And that joke isn’t funny, Kelim. You keep up saying things like THAT to me and you’ll have more worries about my turning you into a frog, long before Finderu gets a chance to go pheasant on you.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You should be. I don’t bullies, Kelim. I kill bullies. You start bullying me and I’ll not only not help you, but I’ll cut off your head as well.”

“Uhm… okay.”

“Grow some balls, Kelim. Your inability to stand up for yourself is the real problem here. Fix that and you won’t have to live in fear of Finderu or be too scared to talk to women. And it’ll fix your ah, ah, uhm, uhhh, problem as well. You need some self confidence. You have no feelings of self worth for yourself. That’s the spell you should be asking me to make for you.”

“But I need Ophelia to be with me.”

“Need?”

“Yes. She needs to need me the way I need her.”

“Need? Are you sure?”

“Yes.”

“That’s different than love.”

“I need her and she needs me, she just doesn’t know it yet.”

“How can you love someone you never meet? Never talked to. Don’t even know. That is not love. That is lust. You lust for a pretty thing. You want to stick your cock in her. And once you’ve done that, your burning passion for her will die and you’ll find another. Love doesn’t do that.”

“I need her.”

“Are you sure? Do you wish for love or do you just wish to be fucked? If you want to fuck someone, go fuck a whore. There are plenty of them in this godforsaken town. They’ll take your money and show you a good time. Get your itch off your chest and out of your pants. You will think more clearly when your saluting cock ain’t leading the way.”

“I’m not... I don’t...”

"Not what? Not low enough to fuck a whore? Don't need to fuck a whore? What are you? A eunuch? I know you're not a eunuch. You know how I know you're not a eunuch? Because I am a eunuch. I have mastered the art of ignoring any need or desire for any man or woman of any kind. That's why I'm a powerful wizard. My mind isn't clogged up with petty, useless desires for sex. The only thing that leads a man to a woman, is his dick. Not his head and certainly not his heart.”

“My... my... I... ain't...”

“Your dick ain't leading the way? Ha!”

“No, I...” 

“You love her? Really? I think not. It takes years to cultivate love. Love isn’t instant. That is lust. You can’t tell the difference between love and lust.”

“I do l... lo... lo...” Kelim could not bring himself to say the word love.

“You love someone you have never met? Live with that person for 30 years, than tell me you still love them.”

“Thirty years is...”

“Too long? Can’t wait. Gonna burst your blue balls before than? Love waits. And if you can’t wait, you ain’t in love. You just want to shoot your cum on the bitch. And when you’ve done that, suddenly you’ll find you got no more need for her. No more love for her. Because you fucking don’t know what love is.”

“You don’t know anything about...”

“Don’t I? I haven’t lived seven hundred and fifty years for nothing. I know the ways of the world a lot better then you do, Boy!”

"I want her..."

"Do you?"

"Yes!"

“Prove it!”

“How do I...”

“Are you willing to die?”

“What?”

“Would you die for her?”

“I... “Kelim hesitated. “Uhm...”

Quaraun snapped his fingers in Kelim’s face.

“Quickly, Boy! In life or death situations, you don’t have time to think. If you hesitate, you love will be dead. You’ll be left alive, covered in her blood. Because you hesitated. You waited. Love acts. It doesn’t hesitate.”

Kelim was distracted by the strong smell of Absinthe on Quaraun's breath. 

The anise and licorice minty scent was overpowering. Kelim knew fragrance of Green Fairy Wine. It was outlawed. But Winsnot drank it. 

A powerful drug. 

That's what Fairy Wine was. Wormwood, hashish seeds, and poppy milk, steeped in mint, beet juice, and grape wine, until it fermented into a sickly toxic emerald green colour. It tasted like licorice.

Kelim looked around the room. A bottle of Fairy Wine sat on the table. Two more bottles lay on the floor. There were more empty bottles on a shelf. 

“Are you going to help me?”

“Why should I?”

“Because!”

"Because?"

"Yes!"

"Is just because a reason?"

"Of course it is!"

"You are used to bullying people through life, aren't you?"

"I'm not a bully."

"No?"

"No."

"You are trying to force me to do a thing I do not want to do, for no reason other than you think you have the right to push me around. Is that not definition of a bully?"

"Will you stop going on about word definitions and get on with granting my wish!"

“Arrogant little fool aren’t you?”

“I’m arrogant?”

“Yes, you are.”

“Why, you, you... you...”

"I'm trying to tell you the importance of using words properly because, wishes rely on the pure power of word definitions. ACCURATE word definitions. Not slag or ignorant usages of a word. You could end up turned into a squirrel, if you say the wrong words when casting your wishing spell. Do you want to end up the rest of your life sniffing nuts and living in holes?"

"I... what?"

“What’s in it for me?”

“What?”

“If I’m going to help you, which I might, I won’t do it for free. What’s in it for me?”

“I said I could pay.””

“In what? Bread? I can’t live on bread alone.”

“No, I got mo...”

“Money?”

Quaraun pulled a handful of gold coins out of his hip bag and threw them at Kelim, sending a shower of gold coins raining down around the Pixie.

“Take them. I have plenty. Money is meaningless to me. I have more than I’ll ever need. I’m the Grand High Emperor of the Triple Planets. I am the wealthiest king in the known universe. I don’t need your money.”

“What do you want?”

“Your soul or head. Both or either.”

“I...” 

"Do you even know what love is?"

"Of course I do!"

“Do you have any idea how many horny men come to me, thinking they want love, begging for love, pleading for love, when all they really wanted was to shove their dick up her skirts? Once they are done fucking her, they'll dump her and leave her, ain't got no more use for her once they've emptied their aching balls into her. That's all they really wanted. They didn't care about love or commitment or forever. They couldn't tell the difference between love and lust. Why don't you cut off your balls and see if you still want her then. A love spell lasts forever, Boy. Be sure you ain't just lusting after the pretty little bitch, because you'll live to regret it if you didn't really love her and you went and cast a love spell to bind your soul to her."

"I...that's...uhm...soul...uhm...what?"

"Too much for you to wrap your mind around, Boy? You know what? I don't think you know what you want. I think you should go home, stuff your hand down your pants, relieve the tension you're feeling and see if that helps you to think more clearly tomorrow. See if you still love her, once you discover you don't need her to make your little baby factory work, you can do that all on your own, seeing how you are too good for the likes of a lowly whore."

“Do you go to whore..."

Quaraun glared at Kelim and the Pixie shut his mouth. 

"Do you know what a eunuch is?”

“Uhmmm.”

“Or do you want me to show you?” 

“You don’t have a...”

“No. I don’t. My dick doesn’t lead the way or control my life. So I can’t have sex. I don't have sex anyone. I repress all desires."

After a moment of silence Kelim said: "I told you I'd pay."

“You think I want money?”

“Don't you?”

“I killed a dragon.” 

“So?”

“Dragon's have hoards of gold.”

“So?”

“So, I'm very likely the wealthiest person in the galaxy, not just on this stupid little planet. I can buy anything or any one I want. Except for BoomFuzzy. He's dead. You can't buy back life. I know. I tried. I sold my soul for love and then he died and now I'm alone. What price are you willing to pay for love, Boy?”

Kelim reached into his pocket and pulled out a gold coin.

“But I told you I can pay you.”

"You still don't get it do you? I’m not talking about money. You want to buy a love spell? Yes? Love spells are not like other magic. Most magic you use on yourself. When people come in here looking for love spells they want me to wave a magic wand over the head of their chosen one and POOF make the bitch fall madly in love with him."

"Ophelia's not a bitch!" Kelim was getting impatient and becoming offended by the Necromancer's vulgar tongue.

"Ah! We hit a nerve. You'll defend the little whore then?"

"She's not a whore!" Kelim stamped his foot, quite forgetting he was supposed to be cowering in fear at what was supposedly the most powerful wizard of all time, but the Elf both looked and talked like a prostitute and it was hard for Kelim to accept that Quaraun was anything other than insane.

“Really? Not a whore?”

“No! She's not. You are!”

“I'm a whore? And on what do you base that?"

"Look at how you're dressed!" 

"My clothes? Don't judge a man by his clothes. Don't judge a book by it's cover. The most fearsome looking wizard, is always going to be the least dangerous."

"Really?"

"Yes. Someone who spends all their time trying to make you fear them, has nothing for you to fear. That's why they try to make themselves look scary. Wearing black. Decorating with skulls. They know you have no reason to fear them, so they have to look scary instead." 

"So why do you wear pink?"

"I like pink Why do you wear green?"

"I'm a Pixie. We're supposed to wear green."

"Really? I'm a Moon Elf. I'm supposed to wear blue."

"How come?"

"I don't know. But somewhere along the line, some Moon Elf decided that he liked blue and he made a law decreeing all Moon Elves must wear blue."

"So why don't you wear blue?"

"I told you. I like pink."

"So you're not big on obeying laws."

"It depends on the law. I'm not big on stupid law, laws that take away freedom, or laws that punish victims and let criminals walk free."

"You don't look evil."

"Should I?"

"Well... you ARE a necromancer."

"Yes. I am. And people are scared of me enough, just for that fact alone. I'd rather people not be scared of me. I'm a rather social person, given the chance. But soon as anyone knows I'm a necromancer they run screaming bloody murder."

"So why bother being a necromancer?"

"Because, my lover is dead. I didn't used to be a necromancer. That was never a goal of mine. But my lover died. I sought out a way to restore his life. Turns out there has never been a successful resurrection that allowed one to have both your mind and your corporal body. You either live as a body-less wraith or shamble around as a mindless zombie. My goal is for him to have both his mind and his body, and since no one has ever done it before, I had to devote my life to experimenting on corpses until I find a way to successfully restore him. For now he's a Lich, he has his mind, but no body. I wore pink long before I became a necromancer."

"Shouldn't you look the part of your job?"

"Nothing is as it appears, Boy."

"That's not true." 

"No?"

"No! How can you say that?"

"Did you pass an old woman on the way here?" 

"The one that sits under the street lamp, feeding the pigeons?"

"Yes, That's the one."

"Yeah. What of her?" 

"Old and grey and wrinkled, with one foot in the grave. Wouldn't you say?"

"I suppose."

"She's a whore. Did you know that?"

"A prostitute?" 

"Yes. Best whore in this town. Men pay her three times what they pay the pretty, young slutty things. And you know why?"

"They like old ladies?" 

"No. She has experience. She knows how to service a man beyond his wildest dreams. Don't judge a book by it's cover, Boy. I'm no whore. Pink is my favourite colour. I like glitter. Silk feels marvellous against my skin. And I've got big testicles, pants are uncomfortable. Chafe and bruise. I prefer to let my balls swing free between my legs. I'm not a whore. I just dress in a way that is comfortable for me and pleasing to my eyes.”

“You're insane.”

“Yes I am.” Quaraun took out the wanted poster and looked at it. “Yes, apparently that's what people call me now. Quaraun the Insane. Oh dear.”

“Can we stop talking about your problems and get back to my problems?”

“You mean your whore?”

“She's not a whore!”

"Really, now? And you know this, how? Because YOU haven't fucked her? She could be fucking the whole damned town and you wouldn't know would you?"

"How dare you!" Kelim yelled. "You take that back!"

"Hmmm." 

The Elf mumbled something in a squishy, slithery language, Kelim had never heard before, as he turned away and went back to the shelves at the far side of the room. 

"You have a temper to you, Boy. Scared shitless of everything around you, oh, I know that feeling, scared of everything, fainting over everything. It is so hard to stay upright and awake some days..."

"Maybe you should lay off the Absinthe."

"Yes... I do drink a bit too much of it don't I?" Quaraun stared longingly at the empties bottles scattered about. 

"You have a drinking problem."

"Do I? Perhaps."

"You don't think you do?"

"I didn't say, I didn't. You know, none I can find is as good as the Fairy Wine BoomFuzzy made. His was different. Had more kick. I was able to get much higher with the stuff he made. The cheap stuff they sell in taverns these days, is watered down gunk. ... but, as you said. Enough about my problems. We have you problems to consider... it puzzles me, you're willing to defend a woman, whom you freely admit you do not know and cannot speak to. Fascinating. Love not lust. Ha, ha! Ready to piss your pants at the sight of an Elf in a dress, but you can be goaded. Takes love on some level to get a reaction like that, even from a coward like you."

"I want her."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes."

"Tell me how you meet her."

"What? Why?"

"If you want a spell, I need to know who I'm making it for. Every spell is different, because every client is different. I could make one potion, divide it into two bottles, give one to you and one to a Wood Elf and even though the spell was identical, you'll both get different results. How you think, what you say, where you go, what you wear, what you eat, it all effects the spell. Now tell me, how you meet her?"

"Well, it was about three months ago, in the dead of winter..."

Kelim proceeded to tell the story: 

"So, here’s what took place : 

I strode out of the bakery into the snow-carpeted lane and peered up at the sky, breathing in the crisp, cold aroma of the clean evening air, cherishing the sparkling stars, and marvelled at this rare cloudless night. 

There had been snow every night for the prior week. It wasn’t often that the clouds disappeared in these parts. Some days it seemed like it would snow forever, but tonight the village was a gentle, blissful winter wonderland. 

I sauntered home through the cobblestone streets, delighting in the crunching sound of my boots in the crusty snow. The moon beamed down from above, a magnificent golden halo brimming its perimeter and guiding my course. 

My breath billowing in white snow-like clouds around my face. I breathed deeply, filling my lungs with the vibrant winds. It was a blistering frosty cold night, and I had to bundle warmly and stride briskly to keep from freezing. I relished the outdoors better than the stuffy indoors, no matter how frigid it was. 

I was revelling in the midnight air when suddenly a blood-curdling scream pierced the silence, sending chills down my spine. I froze in my tracks. After a moment, another scream shattered the night. 

My natural instinct as a man kicked in, and I ran bravely in the direction of the women’s frantic voice, my fear completely ignored.

As I ran, I could hear her laments for help grow louder, and as I turned a corner, I saw a desperate struggle taking place. I ran closer, shouting, and for a moment the scuffle stopped, revealing a man clutching a woman tightly by her throat. The stench of him was fetid. Decayed. 

In his other hand, he held an object that he stuffed into his pocket too quickly for me to see what it was. The woman’s eyes were wide with terror, but her air was cut off now and she couldn’t make a sound any more.

I ran towards the man and bravely shouldered him out of the way, punching him in the face so hard that I forced the villain to release his grip on the poor helpless woman. The man turned and ran, disappearing into the dark.

I knelt down next to the woman, who was now sprawling helplessly in the snow. She was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Golden yellow hair framed a creamy face and bright blue eyes fluttered from under thick purple lashes. A Lilac Fairy. A sweet floral fragrance emanated from her hair.

I had to see her again. I found I couldn’t get Ophelia off my mind. I’d been thinking about her since that night.

To my great surprise, a few days later she came to work at the same bakery where I worked, however, she acted as though she did not recognize I and I had not been able to get up the courage to tell her who I was..."

"Your natural instinct as a man? Are Pixie's men?" Was all the Necromancer said after Kelim finished retelling the night he and Ophelia met. 

The Elf thought about it for a few minutes and then said: 

"Either you've exaggerated the story or you have better social skills around people other then me. Considering you can't even talk to the girl, I'm guessing you exaggerated the story. Which does make it difficult for me to gauge the sort of spell I need to make for you."

"How come?" 

"I'm not a mind reader, I can't guess what you need. You have to be exact and accurate." 

"I am being exact and accurate." 

"No, Kelim, you are not. Oh dear." 

Quaraun got up and started pacing nervously around the cabin. He spied a broom standing in one corner, and took it, and began to sweep the floor as he thought about Kelim's words. After a few moments, Quaraun went outside and stood in front of the hovel, sweeping the dirt ground in the path leading to the house. Kelim stood silently watching the Elf sweep the ground, then followed him outside. 

"What are you doing?" Kelim asked the old mage.

"What does it look like?"

"It looks like you are sweeping the dirt."

"I am. That is exactly what I am doing."

"Why?"

"It's dirty."

"Yeah. Because it's dirt."

Quaraun didn't respond. He just continued to sweep the ground.

"I'm confused."

"About what?"

"About why you are outside sweeping the dirt."

"I'm thinking. Punding helps me think."

"Punding? What's that?"

"Doing repetitive actions to allow my body to relieve excess stress, so my mind is clear to think."

"But you are sweeping dirt off the ground."

"Yes."

"And you are filling the air with dust."

"I know."

Quaraun swept a large pile of dirt into the middle of the path, than went back into the building, and returned back outside carrying a dinner plate, and swept the dirt onto the plate. Quaraun then went back inside and walked around the building looking high and low for a place to dump the dirt.

"She has no trash can," Quaraun said at last.

"It's dirt," Kelim stated.

"So?"

"So, it's dirt. You can toss it anywhere. Just throw it out the door."

Quaraun stared blankly at Kelim, then went back to pacing in circles holding his make-shift dustpan full of dirt, looking for a place to dump it.

"Just toss it."

"On the ground?"

"Yeah. It's dirt. You just swept it up off the ground. It's dirt. Put it back on the ground where it goes."

"No, that is nature. Nature is dirty."

"But you like nature. Don't you? Don't Elves like nature?"

"Yes. I love nature. But nature is dirty. I don't like being dirty. I like being clean. And I like cleaning things."

"So you are cleaning nature?"

"Yes. I am an Elf. We are guardians of nature."

"So, you clean nature, because you are an Elf?"

"Yes."

"You're a strange Elf."

"I know that."

Quaraun went back outside and stood staring at the ground, then staring at the dirt in the plate, than staring at the ground. After a few minutes of this, he went back inside, and carefully placed the dish on one of the bookshelves at the back wall.

"Are you done?"

"I'm thinking." Quaraun shook his head and meandered aimlessly around the cabin. 

The story had unnerved him. He knew Kelim was lying about what had happened.

“Well?”

“Well?”

"Are you done thinking?"

"No. I can think for hours. Days. Weeks even."

"Well, do you think you can think later and focus on me?"

"On you?" Quaraun stared at Kelim. "Why should I focus on you?"

“Are you gonna make me the spell or not?”

“What are you prepared to offer in exchange for her affection, Boy?”

“I have money...”

“I don’t want money."

"Why not?" 

"I don’t require money."

"Sure you do." 

"No. I don't. I don’t crave money. I don’t need money."

"Everyone needs money." 

"I’m a wizard, with a dragon in my pocket. Boy, any time I need something, I can make it appear out of thin air. Or make the money I need to buy it with, appear out of thin air. Money is useless to me, besides I’ve already told you I own a dragon."

"What's owning a dragon got to do with anything?" 

"Dragon's horde gold. I have a dragon’s hoard of gold to go with it. Money has no real value. I’m seven hundred and fifty years old. I’ve seen nations rise and nations fall. Countries that were born in my youth don’t even exist today. Already plundered and destroyed. They mint new coins. Currency in one nation is no good in another nation. Gold coins here. Bronze coins their. Silver coins in that country. Cowrie shells in one country. Wampum is currency just a few miles from here. Head north a short ways and whale tusks are what they use." 

"So?"

"So, I’m a travelling merchant. A peddler of cloth. A wizard for hire. I travel the world. I have coins and notes and shells and bones and currency from every corner of the globe. And none of anything that has any value in one region has the same value in another region. People who pay me in China, I can't use their money in Brazil. Money is pointless. Money is useless. Paying me with money is like paying me with nothing.”

Quaraun placed everything he had taken off the shelf, back on the shelf. He plopped himself back down on the throne.

It was clear that Quaraun was suddenly angry. Kelim did not know why the Elf was angry. Kelim was unaware that Quaraun was the ‘girl’ whom had been attacked. Thus, Quaraun knew for a fact that Kelim was lying about meeting and rescuing Ophelia.

“What, besides money, do you have to pay me with?”

“I...uhm...”

“You do like your uhms don’t you?”

“Ahhhh...”

“Ah is not that much different from uhm.”

“What...how...how do people normally pay you?”

“I’m a Necromancer.”

“I know that.”

“And?”

“And?” Kelim felt confused again, like he had missed part of the conversation.

Quaraun sighed and shook his head. 

“Do you even know what a Necromancer is?”

“Well, you’re a wizard.”

“Yes. And?”

“And what?”

“And, what does a Necromancer does?”

“Well, you do, like, magic and stuff.”

“Magic and stuff, oh dear; yes.” 

Quaraun rested his chin on his hand, half covering his lips with his long jewel clawed gold plated, armoured finger. An index finger resting on the tip of his pointy nose. He stared off into the distance, past Kelim and out the window behind him. 

“Are you telling me that you came to a Necromancer for help, without even knowing what a Necromancer is?”

“You’re a wizard.”

“A Necromancer is a specific type of wizard. We do specific types of things. We use specific ingredients which other mages don’t use. We cast specific types of spells other mages don’t touch. We require specific payment methods not required by other mages.”

“So?”

“Kelim. I’m a peddler of death and souls. I kill people. I resurrect the dead. I make Zombies and Vampires and Liches. People pay me with their souls.”

“So you work for free?”

“No. Kelim. I do not work for free. I work in exchange for souls and heads and corpses. I’m a Necromancer. I need these things for my work. They are hard to come by. I get them from my clients.”

It always bothered Quaraun whenever he came across a potential victim, er, client, who wasn't familiar with necromancy. Evil though his practice may be, Quaraun himself wasn't evil enough to take advantage of an innocent young boy who had no clue what he was getting himself into.

Quaraun sighed again, "Tell me, Boy, what do you know about me?"

"Well, you're a Moon Elf and...and...you...and...you dress funny."

"I dress funny?"

"Well, yeah...look at you."

"Please don't state the obvious. What did you know about me before you came here and saw what I looked like?"

"Finderu says you killed Gibedon."

At the mention of Finderu's name, the Necromancer turned his cold eyes towards Kelim, but otherwise didn't move.

"He says your family died, murdered, and you went insane and took up necromancy to avenge their killer. He says you are a really dangerous person and to keep away from you, that you’d stab your best friend in the back for a price. Everyone in the village is terrified of you. They're even more scared of you than they are Finderu. They are more scared of you then they were of Gibedon. They say you killed Gibedon."

"You said that already."

"Did you?

"Kill Gibedon? Yes. I did. I still have his head if you'd like to see it."

“His...head?”

“I keep the heads of all my victims.”

"Are you...evil?"

"Evil is a matter of perspective now isn't it?"

"Is it?"

"No one sees himself as evil. Think about it. Most of the world thought Gibedon was evil. Villagers hired many brave warriors to fight Gibedon and they all failed, didn't they? Gibedon killed every one of them. And therefor Gibedon was evil. But, how do you think Gibedon felt? He didn't go out looking for trouble, now did he? The warriors came to his house and attacked him. He only killed them in self defence. To Gibedon it was the warriors who were the evil ones."

"Why did you kill Gibedon if he wasn't evil?"

"Oh I never said he wasn't evil. Gibedon was a Necromancer, he did many terrible things."

"But why did YOU kill him?"

"He was a Necromancer, it is what I do."

"But you are a Necromancer too."

"He was competition, a former lover of BoomFuzzy's. This was once Gibedon's house, did you know that?"

Kelim shook his head.

"I was his apprentice. Did you know that in order to become a Necromancer, requires killing a Necromancer first? I absorbed his power, now I am doubly powerful. But you still have not answered my question."

"Which question was that?"

"Do you know what a Necromancer is?"

"It's an evil wizard who does black magic and works with demons and stuff in order to be more powerful that a regular normal mage type of wizard."

"Hmmmm... no... demons have nothing to do with necrom...” Quaraun stopped and stared at the Pixie. Pixies were stupid and trying to explain anything to them was pointless. “Close enough. I suppose a more appropriate question would be, how do you think someone would go about paying a Necromancer?"

"Uhm...kind of like, I don't know, you keep mentioning souls, so I suppose a selling your soul type of deal, maybe."

"Ah! So you do know something! Not totally and completely stupid. Marvellous!" 

Quaraun suddenly sounded quite pleased. He leapt up from the throne and swooped back over to the shelves of odds and ends and once again began taking things down. 

"You want something from me, I need something of value from you. Your soul will do nicely. But you must remember you are losing a piece of yourself. Forever. Sell your soul to the great beyond. Never to have it back. Are you willing to do that?"

Kelim backed towards to door, this suddenly felt wrong.

"Can I think about it?" Kelim asked.

Quaraun turned to look at the Pixie. "Second thoughts?"

"Well, uhm, maybe... maybe you were right, the whole, you know, maybe I just want to... and but my soul, kind of... uhm.. I can't get that back once I lose it, can I?"

Quaraun shook his head, and silently mouthed the word: "No."

“Never?”

“Never?”

The Elf shook his head again.

“Are you sure?”

“Quite sure.”

“Can you sell half a soul?”

“Yes. You can. But I don't recommend it."

"Why not?" 

"You need both halves of your soul."

"Are you sure?" 

"Yes. I know."

"How would you know something like that?" 

"I'm missing half of mine. I was in love once. I sold my soul for love. But I was young and foolish and didn't know what I was really doing.” 

“You sold your soul?”

“Yes. I wanted to love him forever. I wanted him to love me forever. And the spell worked. It did exactly what it was told to do. I love him forever."

"And so how is that bad?" 

"I'll never stop loving him. And I'll never know peace. Or joy. Or happiness."

"Why?" 

"Because he's dead."

"Oh yeah. You said that already. I forgot." 

"We still love each other. We always will. But his soul wanders the Valley of Death and mine the world of the living and I long for death, that we may again be together, but he was evil, so evil. I didn't know. I didn't want to know. I didn't want to believe. His soul burns for eternity of torment. And I am not yet evil enough for my soul to go to the same place his did. I long for death to be with him again, but if I die now we'll be separated forever. I must become as evil as he was, in order to go to the same place he is, when I die."

"Was he evil?"

"He was very evil. So evil, not even Hell will let him in."

"Than why do you love him?" 

"He wasn't evil for the sake of being evil. He had a hard life. Abused. Abandoned as a child. His own mother left him to die. He got bullied and abused, most of his life. It made him mean. He started retaliating. He did a lot of things, he should not have done."

"So, why do love him?"

"He was kind to me. When I had no one else. I was wounded. Dying. Abandoned by my own family. I think he saw himself in me and didn't want me to become what he had become, so he took care of me. Nursed me back to help. He was there for me when no else was."

"It sounds more like you pity him, than love him."

"Perhaps I did."

"So, why aren't you two together? Wasn't that what you wished for?"

"No. Being together, that wording was not in the wish. I wished for us to love each other forever."

"How is that different?"

"I wasn't careful with what I wished for, Boy. I wanted us to love each other forever. And we do. Oh we do. But now he's a Lich. He has no physical body. We can not consummate our love. I lust for his physical touch. The warmth of the flesh that he no longer has. I must correct this. I misworded my wish. I got exactly what I wished for and wishes once granted can't be undone. I became a Necromancer, just for that reason. To resurrect my BoomFuzzy. Bring him back, that we may share our beds again.”

“Wait. You bed with other men?”

“Yes.”

“But aren't you...”

“Also male? Yes.” 

“Why would you do that?”

“I don't like women, Boy. That's just the way I am.”

“But how... how...” The thought of two men having sex, confused and baffled Kelim who had never considered such a possibility before. “How can you... with.. I don't understand... how?”

“You've already determined I look and dress like a woman. I liked being fucked like one too.”

“You... like... you... you... you really are insane aren't you?”

“That seems to be the going opinion.”

“Do you... uhm...” Kelim stammered for several moments. “Uhm.. uhm...”

“I'm not a mind reader, Boy, spit it out.”

“You're the one that poster is about, aren't you?”

Quaraun pulled out the wanted poster.

“You mean this one? Yes. That would be me.”

“You're a sodomite.”

“Yes. I am.”

“And a rapist.”

“No. That part is wrong. I'm a virgin. I've never fucked any one. I can't. I'm a eunuch. You don't have be scared of me, Boy. I wouldn't do that you even if I could. I never had an interest in fucking anything or anyone, even back when I could.”

“Are you castrated?”

“Not entirely, but that's what they were trying to do. I'm damaged. Badly scarred and can't get erect. I get pleasure from being being fucked by other men, not by fucking them.”

“Why would you do that?”

“Let other men fuck me?”

“Yeah.”

“I'm a wizard of the Di'Jinn order. I took a vow of celibacy. I fuck nothing, but my vows said nothing about letting other men fuck me.”

“I don't think I wanted to know that.”

“You asked. I answered. Don't ask questions you don't want answers too.”

“So the whole love thing people say about you...”

“Is about King Gwallmaiic. The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. Not my wife.”

“Oh.”

“I'm a Wizard of the Di'Jinn Order, you might do well to learn what that means. You want a Di'Jinn Wizard casting a love spell on you? Ha! I don't think you even know what a Di'Jinn is. What we do. Our spells aren't cheap."

"I said I'd pay..."

"I said I'm not talking about money, Boy. Every action has a reaction. Every spell has consequences. Magic's not a game. Not a toy. And neither is love. The price is very high, and you'll get EXACTLY what you wished for, whether what you wished for is what you wanted or not."

"I want her to need me."

"Need you? Not love you? Heh. Yeah. I can make her need you. Just make sure that's how you word it when you drink the potion. One word out of place.... I won't be responsible for what happens. And you'll sign a contract to make sure of that. A Cupid Spell is what you are asking for. I'm not sure it's what you actually want, but I'll make it. It'll take time. You come back to me, next week. I'll have your spell. And the contract for your soul. She'll love you forever, whether you love her back or not, and I know love, Boy, and I know, you don't love her, but you're just like the rest. You won't listen to reason. You'll have to learn the hard way, the nature of love. And how long forever really is. But it's your life and you can do what you want with it. Who am I to stop you? You go home. And if next week, you still want the spell, I'll be here with it."

“Are you gonna take my soul?”

“Only if you are willing to give it to me.”

“What if I change my mind?”

“You are uncertain what you want. You should not sell your soul if you have any hesitation.”

“Are you telling me not to sell my soul?”

“I'm telling you the choice is yours. I'll not make up your mind for you. But once you've done it, it's done. There's no going back. You must be absolutely 100% sure this is what you want.”

“How do I know you won't trick me.”

“I'll not take advantage of you, Boy. You are even younger then I was when I sold my soul. I'll give you the chance to back out, the chance I wasn't given, the warning no one gave me. If you really want this spell, I will do it, but think about it first, Boy. Don't make a rash decision that'll you'll regret later. I don't regret selling my soul. I regret that I didn't write the wording of the spell more carefully. More specifically. In more detail. With more specifics as to what exactly I wanted to happen.”

“But if I want it bad enough, you'll grant my wish, right?”

“If you want it bad enough that you are willing to give me your soul, yes. I'll grant your wish. Just remember: I am a wizard of the DiJinn Order, I'll grant your wish exactly as you word it, so make sure the words you use, mean exactly what you think they mean and can't be used to mean anything else. Think about what are you are asking for. What it'll do to you. No matter why you do it, selling your soul, is something you'll live to regret. Even if you sell your soul for love. I know.”

“You sold your soul?”

“Yes, I did.”

“When you were a boy like me?”

“Yes.”

“How old are you now?”

“I don't know. I've lost count. Three hundred. Or was it four hundred? How do you count age, when every time you die, you are reborn back at the beginning and forced to live it again? Am I ten thousand years old? I wasn't yet an adult when I sold my soul. I was only 75 years old.”

“Only?”

“I'm an Elf. As long as nothing kills me, I'll live nearly forever. It's why Humans think of us as deity and call us Angels. At 75 I was just an adolescent youth, like you, not yet old enough to marry or raise a family, but old enough to hit puberty and be horny. Except I was horny for girls. I wasn't horny for anything until the night I was raped by the Elf Eater.”

“The Elf Eater? You mean the Lich Lord?”

“Yes, but he wasn’t a Lich Lord back than. One shouldn’t fall in love with a rapist, but I was already attracted to him before that. King Gwallmaiic, Elf Eater of Pepper Valley. BoomFuzzy. I loved him so much. I still do. He was everything to me. I couldn't get enough of him.”

“Do you regret selling your soul?”

“I regret a lot of things.”

“Can I ask what you sold your soul for?” 

“I sold my soul for love.”

“Do you ever wish you hadn’t?” 

“No. I don't regret that. For the short while we were together and we lived in glorious happiness. But it ended so soon."

"Did the spell break?"

"No. He died."

"Oh." 

"And his death was my fault."

"Really?" 

"Yes. I wished for something. Hastily. Without thinking the implications. I wasn't careful in how I worded my wish. That is my regret." 

"I you could make your wish over again. Would you change it?"

"If I had it to do again, I would still sell my soul for his love, but I would be more careful in the wording of the wish, because I got exactly what I wished for. I wished for our love to last forever. And it will. Because now I am immortal, and he is a Lich. He's immortal, but undead and with no corporeal body, but he still loves me. I feel it. I feel his love. But I also feel his pain. His suffering. His torment as he walks through the Valley of Death. Trapped. He's a Lich. I'm an Elf. Our love will last forever, but we'll never get to share it physically with each other.”

“I’m sorry.”

“You should be.”

“Why?” 

“If you go forward with this spell, be careful with the wording. You'll get exactly what you wish for and that may not be exactly what you really wanted. Do you really, truly want to sell your soul, for the love of this girl?”

"I... I'm not sure... I..."

With a large open sweep of his arm, Quaraun waved his hand magnanimously towards the front door. 

"Than, go."

"Go?" 

"Leave. Forget you ever came here. You own me nothing but the time you've wasted, and I shall get that back from you eventually. I always do. Nothing comes for free Kelim, some day you'll learn that. Everything has a price. Better you learn it sooner then later. Be careful in your youth. I wasn't careful in mine. Don't make the same mistakes I did. Life is too precious to waste it."

Kelim turned and ran from the Swamp Hag’s hovel, running as fast as he could through the swamp, back out of the forest, and all the way to his house, where he jumped into bed and hid under the covers, terrified that the Necromancer had followed him and would pelt him with sea slugs in his sleep. 

"Three months ago, in the dead of winter..." Quaraun muttered to himself as he pulled his pink velvet tufted throne out of the tiny beaded pink heart bag that hung from his belt. He sat down on the throne and stared aimlessly at the door through which Kelim had just exited. 

Quaraun remembered the night Kelim had mentioned. It was the night Quaraun had first arrived in Kelim's village, and the events he remembered were quite different than Kelim had described them. 

“Ha ha! His natural instinct as a man kicked in, and Kelim ran bravely in the direction of the women's frantic voice, his fear completely forgotten. Oh dear.  More like his natural instinct as a liar. Ah, but that means there was another witness. He was too far away to see everything, close enough to let his male ego imagination run away with him. I wonder if he really believes he rescued her? Or did he show up after. Hmmmm. Possible. Entirely possible. I did leave. She could have been attacked again. Hum. Maybe he's telling the truth... still... three months ago, I saw that man, attacking that girl, and it wasn't Kelim who rescued her. It was me. Kelim is lying. Why?”

~o0o~


THREE MONTHS AGO: Quaraun was new to this village. He knew some of the people in The Godforsaken City, which wasn't really a city. He knew the Guild members who lived here, but he had never visited any of them before, and Quaraun had vastly changed since any of them had last seen him. 

Last time Quaraun had attended a Guild meeting, he looked every bit the male Elf he was. His wife and children were still alive, but BoomFuzzy was dead. 

The Moon Elves were forcing him to wear the traditional silver and blue outfits of their culture and his hair was much shorter. 

That was three hundred years ago. Before he resurrected BoomFuzzy as a Lich and killed the Moon Elves. 

Today no one would have guessed him to be male, not until he spoke, and even then, his voice could have been mistaken as being a female with a husky voice. 

Behind the silks, the make-up, the jewellery, and the mega long hair, it was nearly impossible to tell that this was a male Elf. His having been born so short, light framed, and feminine featured to begin with made telling what gender he was all the more difficult, even when he was nude.

Quaraun was looking for Ghirardelli the Swamp Hag. He knew her swamp was in these parts, he just wasn't sure where and he wasn't keen on running into any Guild members, especially not Finderu or one of his cohorts. 

The last thing he wanted was more trouble with the Guild. They already had a reward out for his head, preferably not attached to his body where it belonged.  

The Guild of Wizardry, regulated the use of magic. 

No one was allowed to practice magic without proper Guild membership and authority. 

Special permissions, permits, and papers, documents and credentials were required to practice magic. 

Quaraun didn't have any of those things. 

Not that it mattered. They'd still be wanting him dead even if he did have them. Years ago, Quaraun had been a law abiding wizard and kept his papers and permits and licenses up to date, practising only the allowed magic arts, shunning the forbidden magic forms, etc. etc. 

All that was before BoomFuzzy died, though. 

Before the Moon Elf village was destroyed. 

Before Quaraun lost his way. 

Before Quaraun gave up on good, kind, helpful white magic arts.

Before Quaraun turned to Necromancy, Sorcery, and Demonology. 

Before Quaraun had murdered is wife.

Before Quaraun had murdered is 4 young children.

Before Quaraun had resurrected BoomFuzzy.

Before Quaraun became The Pink Necromancer.

Before Quaraun became the most feared being on the planet.

Before Quaraun became the most powerful wizard in the world.

Before Quaraun had eaten his father.

Before Quaraun became known as Quaraun the Insane.

Quaraun’s Guild papers had expired two centuries ago. 

And it had been even longer since the last time Quaraun had attended a Guild meeting. The last meeting he'd attended, the Guild's counsel had declared him a renegade wizard, a danger to society, and had ordered him to be executed. 

Quaraun used illegal magic to escape.

Magic the law abiding Guild members had been unable to counter. 

The Guild would have had to break their own codes to catch Quaraun.

Thus Quaraun escaped.

And now, Quaraun had wandered the world for two centuries, alone, never staying any place more than a few days, avoiding any village known to be the habitat of a Guild member.

But Quaraun was in need of Ghirardelli the swamp hag, or rather, he just needed her head. He wasn't overly concerned with her body. He already had Gibedon's head. Finderu's head would be nice but, Quaraun wasn’t wanting to make more waves then he already had.

Quaraun wandered through the dark snow covered streets, ducking away from the street lights and keeping to the shadows. The fewer people who knew he was here, the better.

“A library,” Quaraun muttered to himself, surprised to find such a place in a village this small. “In a Human village? I doubt it’s owned by a Human. I never met one with enough intelligence to be able to read. I wonder what kind books they have here?”

The library wasn’t open this late at night, but that didn’t stop Quaraun from picking the lock and walking inside.

Quaraun had long ago stopped worrying about laws. 

What need had he to obey laws, when he was already wanted for crimes he had no intention of quitting?

Murder. 

Drugs. 

Sodomy. 

Sumptuary laws.

“Ha! It actually worked,” Quaraun mused as he looked at the lock. “I’ll have to remember that spell.”

Quaraun used his Rainbow Wand to light his way through the small building. It wasn’t much of a library, but it did have massive bookshelves going all the way to the ceiling, cram filled every inch with books. 

Quaraun was looking for magic books, especially anything on Necromancy, particularly on finding Liches. Formally a very lawful and moral aristocrat, Quaraun had long ago developed a bad habit of walking off with every book he found that he had not yet read, and as he carried a bag of holding on his belt, he had infinite room to make things disappear and not be found should he be searched. Were anyone to look in the tiny beaded heart purse, they'd find exactly 10 gold coins. 

Not real gold of course. 

Illusions only. 

They'd turn into brown leaves once he had had time to escape. Quaraun himself was the only person able to reach in the bag and pull out anything from furniture to weapons to his massive eye blinding pink wardrobe.

As this was the home town of the Wizarding Guild and they had a ban on Dark arts of all types, Quaraun had little hope of finding anything useful, but it couldn’t hurt to check. There could be an evil book disguised as a good book, and only Necromancers be able to see it. You could never tell about these things.

Quaraun had been so absorbed in exploring the library that he did not notice the shadowy figure slinking along behind him, stopping and waiting for the right moment to pounce.

Quaraun was coming around one bookshelf to see if there was another on the other side when he nearly bumped into the man who’d been following him.

“Oh, hello. I’m sorry,” Quaraun said quietly as he tried to duck past the man.

Humans were much bigger then Elves, and a big Human, like this was, was especially much bigger than a little Elf, like Quaraun.

“Not so fast….” the man said.

Quaraun stopped and turned, wondering if he should stop or keep going.

“Get over here,” the man commanded.

Quaraun looked around, confused, uncertain if the stranger was talking to him or not.

“I said get over here!”

“Me?”

“There’s no one else here.”

Quaraun stepped back. He felt frightened of this Human. It’s voice was mean and violent, and it's breath smelt of beer.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to disturb you. I was on my way out.”

Quaraun turned and quickly stepped towards to door.

“Oh no you don’t!” The man roared as he ran after the Elf.

The man grabbed the first thing he could reach and threw it at Quaraun, hitting him between the shoulders, causing him to stumble and fall.

“Owww!” Quaraun yelped. “What was that?”

Quaraun looked and saw a small bronze statue on the floor, which he picked up and was looking at as he spoke, instead of looking as his attacker as he should have been doing.

“That hurt! Why did you hit me?”

Quaraun started to push himself back up, prepared to yell at the man, but the stranger, suddenly grabbed hold of the Elf, lifting him up and slammed his back against the bookshelves, hard enough to knock the wind out of him. 

Quaraun was now confused and terrified as he didn’t know who this man was or why he was being attacked. Quaraun's head throbbed. His eyes blurred. 

“Thought you could sneak off by yourself and no one would notice, eh Sweetheart?”

“Sweetheart? I ain’t your sweetheart! Who do you think I am?”

“I saw you back there at the tavern.”

“Let go of me!”

“Pretty little thing like you shouldn’t be walking home alone this time of night.”

“You’re drunk. Get off of me.”

Quaraun tried to shove the man back, but this only caused the man to push himself closer to the wizard, squishing him against the books behind him. 

“Bonny little thing aren’t you?” The man said as he began grouping the Elf. Quaraun suddenly realized what was going on and became frantic.

“No! Let me go!”

Quaraun struggled to break free of his attacker’s grasp, but Quaraun was a very small Elf, only standing 5'6" and barely weighing 130lbs. His attacker was a full two heads taller then him and far stronger.

As Quaraun continued to struggle against his attacker, the man began to kiss the Elf and as he forced his hard erection against Quaraun’s stomach. There was no question the man had mistaken Quaraun, not only for a woman, but also for a prostitute. 

Most men did. 

Quaraun had grown quite used to the way Human males reacted to his physical appearance, but he was usually better at getting away from them before they had time to get close enough to grab him. The man forced his mouth over Quaraun's. The Elf squealed and screamed, trying desperately to push the man off of him. Quaraun was old and weak and frail, and lacked the strength to fight off his attacker. While he hated being accosted like this, he hated more the raging fury men went into, once they realized Quaraun was not what they thought he was. 

A sense of panicked revulsion filled the Elf as he felt the man’s excited cock pressing against him. The little Elf became frantic to get away, remembering the fact that men got really pissed off when they rammed their uninvited junk between his legs expecting a vagina and got something else entirely. They beat the crap out of him, they always did, and a tiny little Elf like him, didn’t stand much a chance against the huge hulking Human that was bearing down on him, right now.

Quaraun managed to reach his hand up onto the man’s face and push him back a few inches.

“Let me go,” the frightened Elf whimpered. 

The man laughed. “Playing hard to get are you?”

“No! I don't want to be got at all,” Quaraun squealed as he slipped out of the man's grasp and tried to run.

The man grabbed the Elf’s arm, spun him around and slammed him face first against the wall. The little pink robed wizard yelped as his jaw made contact with the wall, clashing his teeth together. Tears streamed down the Elf’s face as searing pain shot through his face. But he had no time to think about the stabbing pain in his jaw. The man was fumbling with the slippery silk skirts, pulling them up to expose the Elf's ass for fucking.

Quaraun frantically, squirmed and wriggled his way out of the man’s arms again, but this time the man punched him hard in the face, splitting his lip and sending the little Elf fallen backwards into another shelf of books. Several books fell off the shelf, landing on top of Quaraun. He scrambled to crawl away, avoiding being crushed as the tall wooden bookshelf fell on the spot when he had momentarily been.

Quaraun stood up, gasping for air and stared at the fallen bookshelf for a moment, trying not to think of how badly it would have injured him, had he not moved and then quickly ran for the door.

The Human ran after him screaming: “Get back here you dirty little whore!”

The man threw a knife. The Necromancer cried out in pain as he felt the blade sink deep into his side. The wounded Elf staggered and tried not to fall as he continued out the door and back into the streets. 

In his hurry to escape the man, Quaraun crashed into a young female Faerie dressed in many layers of frilly lilac coloured dresses. Both he and the woman fell into the middle of the street, nearly being hit by a passing carriage. The horse reared and whinnied, and the girl screamed as the horses hooves came down inches from her face.

“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Quaraun muttered in a daze as he got off the woman, scrambled back to his feet and stumbled pass the carriage to the other side of the road, leaving the woman, laying in the road. 

The man from the carriage, calmed his horse and continued onward, leaving the girl alone in the street as the would be rapist tumbled out of the library looking all around to see which direction Quaraun had run off to. As Quaraun ran across the next street and disappeared down the alley, the man turned his attention instead to the young Faerie whom Quaraun had run into in his hurry to escape. With one victim too far away to catch easily, the man now lunged on the next closest woman he could find.

The girl screamed as the man mounted her and prepared to rape her. The girl’s cries echoed down through the ally, vibrating off the brick walls and reverberating into Quaraun's soul.

“Oh, hell,” Quaraun muttered as he turned back. “I hate not being evil. I’m a sorry excuse of a Necromancer rescuing every female in distress.”

The man was on the ground struggling with the girl and did not notice Quaraun had returned. The Elf stood, not sure what exactly to do, and looked around the street to see if anything brought any ideas to mind. He knew using magic of any type in this town would attract the attention of the Guild, their headquarters being here. Near the corner of a nearby building Quaraun spied a dislodged brick, picked it up, whispered something to it and then dropped it on the man’s head. The brick, came down with a force far greater then capable of an object so small and knocked the man out cold.

Quaraun stood over the man and kicked him to make sure he was still alive, then turned to the girl.

“Are you alright?” Quaraun asked the girl.

“Yes. Thank you.”

Quaraun helped the girl back to her feet.

“I'm very sorry. He was coming after me. You were not his intended victim. He thought I was a prostitute.”

“You do look like one.”

“Yes. I know.”

“Are you an Elf?”

“Yes.”

“We don't see many Elves in these parts. They're rather rare, you know.”

“Yes. I know.”

“You’re a male Elf aren’t you?”

“Yes. I am.”

“Why are you dressed like hooker?”

“It’s a long story.”

“Do you always dress like that?”

“Yes.” 

“You’re bleeding.”

“I know.” Quaraun touched his lip. Blood was dripping from the cut where the man had hit him, even more blood gushed from the wound in his side, and he was trying to ignore it. Quaraun was a pure blooded High Elf and both wounds would be healed in only a few days, but the poor Elf fainted at the sight of blood. He didn’t really want to faint here in the middle of the street.

“Are YOU alright?” The girl asked, seeing that the Elf looked weak and ill and was bleeding quite profusely.

“I'm fine. I'm used to it. It happens often. I heal quickly.”

“If he thought you was a whore, why was he beating you?”

"Men get really pissed off when they ram their uninvited junk between your legs expecting a vagina and get another cock instead. They’ll beat the crap out of you. I’ve have had my arms broken 3 separate times now, my hip broken twice, my back seriously injured more then once, and several concussions since I started dressing like this, because men came after me, thinking I was something very different then what I am. Do you know that I've had false teeth put in, because I had most of the teeth in the right side of my face knocked out? Do you know how much it hurts, to be hit so hard, you lose all the teeth on one side of your face? And it wasn’t just my teeth that broke—it fractured my jaw and cheekbones. And each one of these was a separate incident. Did you know I’m nearly blind in my left eye, because one man hit me in the eye? I have to wear these claws because another man cut my fingernails off.”

Quaraun held up his hands to show the girl the gold, jewel encrusted finger armours he was wearing. 

“It's a good thing I'm an Elf. Were I a Human, I'd be dead by now and scarred for life. Well, I am scarred. Not all wounds heal without a scar. Oh dear. That one wasn't done by Humans. My own father did that. I'm sorry. I'm rambling. I'm always getting beaten and stabbed and hit and punched…." 

“You’re losing a lot of blood,” the girl said as she pointed to the blood pooling on the ground around the Elf’s feet.

Quaraun looked down at the blood gushing from his side and running down his leg. "And.. And... uhm... bleeding. I'm bleeding. Oh so much blood. Oh dear. I'm bleeding quite a bit ain't I? I lose so much blood, so often. So much blood. Oh dear. I'm dizzy. I'm gonna faint. I have to sit down."

Quaraun sunk to his knees and looked paler then usual.

“You sure you're okay? You're bleeding quite a lot.”

“Yes. I do that. I seem to lose blood quite easily. Oh dear. I'm too dizzy to keep going. I'll faint if I keep walking. I might have to lay down a while. I'm so dizzy.” Quaraun touched his lip again. "I'm lucky I'm an Elf and heal without scars. Men are always trying to fuck me and then beat the heck out me when they find I've got more between my legs they thought I did."

“Then why dress like that?”

“I am a member of a wizarding order and this how we dress.”

“Are you a wizard?” The girls sounded overjoyed by this news.

“Yes.”

"Oh how wonderful! I love wizards!

“Do you?”

“Oh yes! My father is a wizard.”

“Is he?”

"You must know him."

“Must I?”

“Well of course. You’re a wizard aren't you?”

“Yes, I just said that.” 

“Well then you must know him. He knows every wizard.”

“Does he?”

“Of course!”

“And pray tell, why is that?”

“Why, he’s the head of the Guild of Wizardry.”

“Finderu?”

“Yes.”

“Your father is Finderu?”

“Yes.” 

“Oh dear. I have such luck.”

“He’s knows healing magic. We live not far away. I’ll get him.”

“No, please don’t do that. I’ll be fine in a few minutes. I just need to rest.”

“But he can stop the bleeding….”

“No. Please. I’m fine. Sit. Please. Keep me company until my head is clear.”

The Fairy sat beside the Elf.

“So you do know my father?”

“Yes. I know him. Sort of. Or I did, many years ago. I've not been active in Guild meetings in many years. I don't live around here.”

“You should come to the house and visit then. He'll be glad to see an old friend.”

Quaraun smiled nervously and turned away. 

"I did not say we were friends. He will not want to see me. No wizard in these parts will want to see me."

“Of course they will. All the wizards love getting together with other wizards.”

“I don’t work well with others. I’m solitary.” 

“Even the solitaries come out to socialize every once in a while.”

“No. You don't understand. I am not welcome here. I came on business. I'll only be here an hour or two.”

“My father always wants to see every wizard. It is his job after all.”

“To regulate the use of magic. Yes. I know it is. Your father is very judgmental and strict. He does not allow many forms of magic.”

“Only dark magic and evil forms of sorcery.”

“Your father has a lot of opinions on what he believes to be evil and not everyone agrees with him.”

The girl suddenly lost her bubbling joy and began to look frightened.

“Are you evil?”

“According to your father, I am.”

“You don’t look evil.”

“I don’t feel evil, either, but your father disagrees and he wants me dead.”

“Dead?” The girl stop up and stepped back, now looking very afraid. “There are only a few wizards who are so beyond evil that they have a price on their head. You aren't one of them are you?”

“Oh, yes, I'm afraid I am. Your father had quite a high price on my head last I knew. Seems to get higher every year.”

“Who are you?”

“No one that concerns you.”

"I've never heard father mention a wizard like you. I would have remembered a pink wizard who dresses like a prostitute. And he'd've mentioned you. If he wants you dead, there would be posters and descriptions of you…."

“There are. Oh, there certainly are. I've seen hem. Read them. Not entirely accurate and sometimes too accurate. I've changed.”

“You don’t seem evil.”

“Thank you. There are not many who would agree with you.”

“I've meet evil wizards, lots of them, and you can tell in a split second they are evil. I bet if you came to see my father, tell him you changed, he'll see that you are good now.”

Quaraun smiled nervously and looked away again, his checks flushed with shame. 

“I'm not what you think I am, Girl. There's no coming back from what I've done. Your father is right to call me evil. He is right to want me dead. I am evil and deserve to die. I have done horrible things.”

“What have you done that was so bad?”

“I am a murderer.”

“You killed someone?”

“I killed a lot of someones.”

“Why?”

"They were evil. They deserved to die. Or I….I thought they did at the time. I'm not so sure any more. There was no law willing to serve them justice and so I took justice into my own hands and I used very dark magic to do it."

“Well, that's okay. Evil people get killed all the time. That's why we have so many executioners.”

“Yes, I had noticed that when I arrived. You have a great plethora of gallows in this town. And dead men hanging from the trees.”

Quaraun rubbed his hand round his throat nervously as if expecting to find a noose there.

“It makes you good if you killed evil people. My father would like that.”

“No. Your father and I have different definitions of good and evil. The men I killed, your father thought they were good people, because they killed a man he thought was evil and he will not believe otherwise. He will never believe otherwise.”

“Well, why did you kill them? I mean, what they do?”

“They locked me in a tower and tortured me. And then they hung me upside down in a tree in the centre of town, naked, for the villagers to torture me and humiliate me as they say fit. They mutilated me. The scars I still have, the ones that didn't go away. In order to heal, I need time to rest and focus on my healing, but they injured me so bad, that I was unable to heal myself and scars remain. Then they killed my family. ”

“You must have done something to be punished that way. What did you do?”

“I fell in love with the wrong person. BoomFuzzy. I am a male and so was my lover. BoomFuzzy took me into his bed and used me as though I were a woman. And I enjoyed it and let him do it, and returned often to his bed for the pleasures he provided me. They tortured me because I bedded with another male. They mutilated me, saying if I was going to act like a female, then I should be one. Now I can love no one male or female.”

“Are you a eunuch?”

“More or less. I am mostly intact, but I am badly damaged. I can receive the love of a man, but can no longer give it to anyone. I am mutilated.” 

“I’m sorry.”

“If you choose to love an unsuitable person, one whom others deem unfit, unworthy of being loved, you pay the price.”

“What price?” 

“They hung me, in a tree. Upside down, by my ankles, naked, in the city square. For everyone to see, for days and days. Crowds came to beat me, whip me, torture me in every way they could imagine. Everyone.”

“Everyone?”

“Everyone.”

“Who’s everyone?”

“My friends, my relatives, my neighbours, my family, my father, my wife, my dear, sweet little children.”

“Your children too?”

“I loved my children. But I loved BoomFuzzy more. I had no desire to choose between him or them. I loved them both. They turned my children against me. They made the choice for me.”

“How old were your children?”

“Ten and twelve. Two girls. Two boys. Two sets of twins.” 

“They were so young.”

“They are dead now.”

“Your children?”

“Everyone. All of them. I poisoned them all. Later. After. My father. My wife. My children. The people from the village. I executed them all. That’s the reason I’m wanted for murder. But it was not murder. They were evil people. That’s why it was not murder. They deserved to die. They tried to get away with their crimes. They claimed their corrupted atrocities to be respectable good deeds. Crimes masked as laws are still crimes.”

“You even killed your children?”

“Yes. I did. I murdered my children.”

“Why?”

“They all turned on me. Every one of them. People I trusted. People who loved me. People I loved. They tortured me. People I believed cared for me. People I cared for. Stoned me. People I admired. Beat me. People I cherished. They abandoned me. They hated me. There was no reason for it. I did nothing wrong. Turned their backs on me. Hit me in places you should never hit a man. I dared to share my love with the man I loved. A forbidden act, in their minds. A crime punishable by death. A harmless crime. We hurt no one. I bedded another man. That alone was crime enough to be punished by torture. My own father led them on. He hung me in the tree and stripped me naked for all to see. I hate being naked. I hate being touched.”

“Does it hurt?”

“Hurt?”

“Your... Where they cut you.”

She pointed at the Elf’s crotch.

“It did when they did it. It was many years ago. I am healed now. Well, as healed as I can be.”

“And they did it in front of everyone? They cut you while your friends and family watched?”

“Yes. My father did the cutting. He said I disgraced him as a son. And then after many days of hanging in humiliation, in the town square, they took me out into the woods, hung me another tree, and left me there, to be eaten by a Phooka. They sacrificed me to the Elf Eater of Pepper Valley.”

“But they couldn't have sacrificed you. You're still alive.”

"I know. I lived. I survived. They didn't think I would. They didn't know... My lover.... they never knew."

“Knew what?”

"That he was my lover."

"Who was?"

 "The Phooka."

"What Phooka?" she asked, confused by what the Elf was saying. He wasn't speaking clearly. Only giving her half the information and thinking the rest silently in his own head. Leaving her confused by what he meant.

 "The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley."

"The Elf Eater?"

"Yes."

"What about him?" 

"I sold my soul for his love."

"Why would you do that?" 

"Phookas are shape shifters, they can be any one or anything they want to be. He lived in the village, disguised as an Elf. They didn't know he was a shape shifter."

"Did you know?" 

"I didn't know, not then, not until they hung me in the tree to be killed by the Phooka. The Phooka came and slaughtered them before they had finished. He eat every one of them before turning on me, only he didn't hurt me. I waited for him to to tear out my throat, to gut me and kill me and eat me as he had done the others, but instead, he cut me down and made love to me. Be careful what you wish for. I wished for his love, but I didn't know what he was and I didn't know the price I would have o pay to get it. In spite of my wounds. He still loved me, even after they mutilated me and left me unable to give my love to anyone. He took care of me, until I healed. It did not matter to him, what they had done to me. Even though I was damaged and not able to return his love, he still kept me as his lover. He pitied me. I was injured so badly that he could not bare to kill me. He made me his wife, taught me to receive his love like a woman. He shifted between BoomFuzzy and the Phooka, letting me see him as he truly was. That was when I realized BoomFuzzy was The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley and he would never hurt me. My lover wasn't an Elf, he was a Phooka and a Necromancer. King Gwallmaiic, was the evillest Necromancer to ever walk the Earth and he was my lover, my BoomFuzzy wasn't an Elf."

“The Elf Eater of Pepper Valley has murdered millions. He kills entire villages. He's a horrible monster.”

"I know. I tried to kill him, because I knew what he was, and I couldn't do it. Tis the nature of a spell cast by a wish. I wished for his love. To love him and be loved by him forever. The wish was granted. I got what I asked for, but at a terrible price. He loved me. I loved him and no matter how evil he was, I could not kill him, and no matter how much he lusted to eat my flesh, he could not kill me. The spell can not be broken. I've tried to break it so many times. I was so young when I made that wish. I didn't know the power of wishes grants of the price that comes with spells cast by wishes. So I joined him. I became a Necromancer too. His love was true. It did not matter to him that I had been mutilated. He loved me any ways." 

“Can I see what they did to you?”

“What do you mean?”

“I’ve never seen a eunuch.”

“You wish to see what I have between my legs?”

“Well, yes.”

“I'm sorry, My Dear, but that you will not see. I show no one what was done to me.”

“Why not?”

“I did not like exposing myself when I was fully intact, I like doing so even less, now that I am damaged. Just know that I am damaged, and you and every other female, has nothing to fear from me. I am only able to be a vessel for the pleasure of other men now.”

“Are you and he still lovers?”

“No. He died. A horrible death. In such pain and agony, lingering on for 3 days, suffering, alone, with no one to comfort him. No one to hear his cries. No one hold him as his body wracked with pain. My people killed him. They murdered him so horribly. They killed my BoomFuzzy and I could not live without him, so I brought him back. Oh! What have I done? He's worse now than he was before. I turned him into a Lich. And now he lives on forever, killing tens of millions, whipping out entire nations and it's my fault. I created him. And that is why your father wants me dead. That is why everyone wants me dead. I am the most evil wizard ever known. I created the Lich Lord that kills so many. That's not what I wanted to happen. I just wanted to be his lover. That's all I wanted. He's a powerful lover. I swept away with the immense power of his passion. He is so intense. His addiction to sex is incredible. He is so full of rage and anger and passion and all that comes through in his love making. He had many lovers. Male and female. He took whomever he wanted, whither they wanted him or not. He raped me. I hate being raped, but he was different. I can't explain it. His love was like a drug. I had to have more and more. I wanted him to love me and only me and no one else. I shouldn't have cast that spell. I am so evil.”

Quaraun covered his face with his hands and burst into tears. 

“You know, it’s kind of hard to think of you as evil, when you’re dressed in a glittering pink dress and sitting in the middle of the street balling your eyes out over a dead lover.”

“I’m sorry. I’ve not had a good life. Pink distracts me from thoughts of death. I've tried to kill myself so many times, but I'm an Elf. Do you know how hard it is to kill an Elf? I try to occupy my mind with happy thoughts. Glitter send glows of light on everything. It's so pretty. So happy. I need to surround myself with happy thoughts, to keep from slicing my wrists every day.”

Quaraun held out his arms, pulling back the sleeves so the girl could see the many scars and more recent slash mark covering his arms.

“You’ve cut yourself! Why?”

“I am so lonely. I am hunted and hated, abandoned and unloved. I have no one. I’m so alone. The entire Elven race, not just the Moon Elves, but every last Elf on the planet has cut me off of the Hive Mind. I am outcast. And I'm a coward. I try to kill myself to end my suffering and I haven't the guts to do it properly.”

“I’m sorry.”

“All because I wanted to be loved. That’s all I wanted. For one man to love me. And he did, but he's the only one. He loved me and for that the whole rest of the world hates me, and now he's dead and I have no one.”

“If you’re the Elf Eater’s Necromancer, that makes you Quaraun the Insane.”

“I am Quaraun the Insane, last of the Moon Elves, Lover of the Elf Eater of Pepper Valley, Murderer of Gibedon the Great, Resurrect of the Black Dragon of Fire Mountain, and I am the only one who can stop the Lich Lords, because I built them.”

 The girl laughed. She obviously did not believe the Elf. 

"You are Quaraun the Insane! Haha! Oh you're funny. I think you're right, you got hit on the head too many times. Wait til I tell my father I meet Quaraun the Insane."

“Please don’t. Please. I don’t want to hurt you. I don't want to hurt anyone.”

The girl wasn’t listening. 

“He'll love it. He's had it out for Quaraun for decades. The whole Guild has. He's the most wanted wizard out there. There is a huge reward on his head…."

Quaraun heard a sound. The girl looked to see the rapist, groaning and getting back up. 

“You little bitch of an Elf, wait till I get my hands on you….” he said to Quaraun as he pulled out another knife.

The girl turned back to Quaraun but he had scuttled out of the light back into the shadows. 

“Tell no one you saw me, please, I beg you,” he said to the girl as he disappeared back down the dark alleyway, leaving her to the fate of the man whom had attacked them both.


~o0o~


“Yes,” Quaraun said to himself as he remembered the day in question. 

Quaraun contemplated the possibility of how Kelim might have come to believe the events occurring as they had.

“He could have shown up after. Hmmmm. Possible. Entirely possible. I did leave. She could have been attacked again. Yes. Maybe the little Pixie is telling the truth. But if that's the same day... The same girl. Then the girl he thinks he's in love with, is Finderu's daughter. Oh my. Oh my, my, my! Oh what a fortuitous turn of events. But it could be a trap. I must prepare for this, in case he comes back. I must tell Ghirardelli. She'll be so pleased.”

“Do you hear that Ghirardelli?” Quaraun asked the swamp hag as he pulled her head out of his heart bag. “If all goes well, you and Gibedon will have company soon. Finderu will be joining you. Isn’t that marvellous?”














The Death of Finderu
(a chapter from Kelim and the Necromancer)

Kelim the Toadstool Pixie ran. He ran out of the bakery, down the road, through the forest, into the swamps, not stopping until he got to the hovel in the old swamp hag. He banged on the door with both his fists, gulping for air as his lungs cramped. 

"Hey! HEY! Open up!" Kelim yelled.

"What!" the voice shouted from the other side of the door.

"You have to help me! I didn’t ask for this, I’m a vampire!"

"A vampire?" The door swung open and Quaraun stood there, dressed in eye blind shades of neon day glow fuchsia pink. "You turned into a vampire? How did that happen?"

"You tell me! You cast the spell."

"You picked the words."

Quaraun slammed the door in Kelim's face.

"Hey! HEY! Open up!" Kelim yelled, once again pounding on the door with both fists. "I know you're in there! I just saw you."

"I know you did. Never said I wasn't here," Quaraun called from behind the door."

"You did the spell wrong!"

"No, I did not."

"I want my money back!"

"You never paid me any!"

"You didn't do what I asked!"

"I did EXACTLY what you asked."

"I asked for Ophelia to love me!"

"You most certainly did not!" 

"Yes, I did! You cast the wrong spell!"

"If you recall, I wanted to do a different spell and you insisted I needed to do the other one. I didn't want to cast the wishing spell. I wanted to give you a potion. One you could give to her to drink. It would have worked better. I told you! Wishes never turn out the way you expect them. Potions re far more reliable. But would you listen to me? Nooooo! Why listen to the wizard who actually knows what he's doing when your fucking dick is leading the way to a nice juicy vagina!"

"How dare you talk about Ophelia like that!"

"I'll talk about any body, any way I want to!"

"You were supposed to make her love me!"

"You wanted her to know how much you needed her, well now you need her in a way she can’t ignore. You need her blood to survive! I told you nothing good ever comes from wishing spells. I told you to give her a fucking potion to drink instead."

"That’s not what I meant!"

"Have to be specific, Boy. Wishes rely on words. Must be specific."

"What am I supposed to do now?"

"Like I said, you’ll have to prove that you can make sacrifices."

"Sacrifices?"

"Are you familiar with Jaf?"

"Jaf?" 

"Jaf is a religious holiday celebrated on the third crescent moon of summer. It is associated with a breakdown and masculinity. Celebrations last ten days. Traditions include public races and marriage proposals. Most traditions celebrate it differently." 

"Okay. Yeah. Jaf. So what? What the heck do you want to know about Jaf for, I got an emergency here and you're talking about Jaf?"

The door opened a crack and the pink robed Necromancer Moon Elf peaked out the crack. "If you can come to terms with this, I guarantee you will be celebrating your own new found masculinity at the next Jaf, by proposing marriage to Ophelia."

"Come to terms... with what? Being a vampire?"

"You are not a vampire."

"I'm not... well, the fuck am I?"

The Necromancer slammed the door again.

"Hey! HEY! Stop slamming the door on me!"

Quaraun opened the door again.

The albino Moon Elf is now holding a black ruby in his hand.

"What exactly, do you want me, to do?" Quaraun asked.

"Fix this."

"How?"

"I don't know! You're the wizard. You tell me."

"I did tell you before and you wouldn't listen."

"Well, I'm listening now."

Quaraun opened the door wider and motioned his hand. "Come back inside."

"Can you make her love me?"

"Yes. But it won't be real love. You don't seem to understand that."

"You were in love."

"I was. I still am."

"Well?"

"Well, what?"

"But, what about your wife? Can't you make it between me and Ophelia just like you and your wife?"

"My wife?"

"Yes. How'd you get her to love you?"

Quaraun burst out laughing.

"Why is that so funny?"

"My wife never loved me. Nor I her. We hated each other."

"But... I thought... 

"Why my wife, of all people?"

"You loved your wife?"

"Did I? I murdered my wife."

"You... wait... what? But, your whole thing is love. Everyone knows that."

"Love, yes. Wife, no."

"What do you mean?"

"I killed my wife. I couldn't stand the bitch. I hate females."

"But..."

Quaraun pulled the wanted poster out again, handed it to Kelim.

"Do you know what that word there means? And this one?"

The Elf pointed to buggery and sodomy.

"No."

"My lover, BoomFuzzy, the one I love, the one I mourn, was a male, like myself."

"But how do you..."

Quaraun took the poster back.

"I'd rather be a female, then make love to one. And I like being fucked up my ass by other men."

Quaraun shook his head.

"You want me to remake the potion?"

"Why didn't it work?"

"It did work. But I am a Wizard of the Di'Jinn order, my spells are activated by words. You must choose your words carefully. The spell will do exactly what you tell it to do. You told it to make her love you as much as I loved my wife, but I hated my wife. It was an arranged marriage that I wanted no part of. She didn't love me either. She had her lovers, I had mine. We lived together for show. I'm royalty, you know. My father was the king's younger brother. Everyone was expected to have the perfect family in public. My is not the one I loved, nor is she the one I mourn. She was a spiteful bitch and she drove my lover to suicide, so I killed her."

"But why would you do that?" 

"Why? Are you suggesting I have any purpose other than a selfish one? Come now, Boy are you that dull to the world that you thought you could strike a beneficial bargain with a Necromancer?"

"But you don't seem bad or evil, eccentric may be, but I thought you was like a good guy."

"Boy, I am Quaraun the Insane, murderer of Gibedon. Most feared Necromancer of all time, and I am undefeated. It is a wise man who knows with whom he does business, before doing business. Before striking a bargain. Before making a deal. Before signing your name in blood on the dotted line of a contract for your soul."

Quaraun waved his hand and instantly a paper appeared before him. He pointed to the brown stained signature at the bottom.

"Is this not your name?"

"You know it is." 

"Your handwriting?"

"You already know the answer." 

"Your blood?"

"Stop asking me these stupid question that you already know the answers too!" 

"Yes. Temper. Kelim. Temper. Your handwriting. Your signature. Your blood. On a contract signed by you, clearly stating that your soul, your corpse, your body, your head, now belongs to me." 

"But... but.., I can't read. I don't know what it says. "

"Then you should not have signed, because you signed your life away and you are now mine, to do with as I see fit."

"But you turned me into a vampire. "

"No. I did not."

"Yes you did."

"You are not a vampire."

"But I can't stop craving blood!"

"Yes. You will do that."

"Why?"

"You are turning into a Nzambie."

"A zombie!"

"No, a Nzambie"

"What's the difference?" 

"One, a zombie, you become after you die, the other, a Nzambie, you become while you are still alive."

"What? How?"

"Frogs."

"Frogs? What? What are you talking about?"

"It's done with frog slime."

 "Why?"

"Because of the hallucinogenic effects of slime from specific frog species..." 

"No. Not that. I don't care about your stupid ass frogs. Why did you do this to me?"

"Because I am a Necromancer and I am building an army of undead to fight the Lich Lords or so say the rumours, about me. Which is rather silly, considering I made the Lich Lords. The Lich Lords are my undead army, so why would I fight them? I will never understand how people come up with the wild, crazy rumours and gossip and lies they can think up to spread about me..."

"Will you stop talking about yourself. This is important!"

"Are you suggesting that I am NOT important?”

"No. You are not important. Your just an incompetent servant."

"Servant? By what logic am I a servant?"

"It's you job to give me whatever I wish for."

"No. Kelim. That most certainly is NOT my job. I am a silk weaver. Weaving silk is my job. And I am servant to no one. I am the Grand High Emperor of the Triple Planets...."

"Yeah. Whatever. I don't care."

"Clearly."

The two of them were both silent for a moment.

"Well?" Kelim asked breaking the silence.

"Well, what?"

"I almost ate her!"

"Yes, well, that was an unfortunate side affect now wasn't it."

"Side effect! You call this a side effect?"

"Yes."

"How is this a side effect?"

"Do you want me to explain what I do or not?"

"What?"

"A moment ago, you were upset because I was trying to explain how it is the spell functioned and why it is you were becoming an Ophelia eating Nzambie, but you weren't too willing to hear what I had to say."

 "You was supposed to make her love me!"

 "Was I? That is not what you asked for."

"Yes I did!"

"No, you didn't."

"Yes, I did!"

"Kelim, I warned you to word your wish carefully. You asked me to grant you a wish, via a love spell. I did exactly that. I gave you a love potion, that could be powered by a wish."

"And it didn't work!" 

"I did work. I left the wording of the wish, up to you. You are getting EXACTLY what you wished for." 

"I wished for Ophelia to not marry that guy and to love me instead!"

"No. You wished for Ophelia to know that you needed her. I warned you against spells involving wishes. I told you they are dangerous. I told you not to do it. I tried to give you a safer potion. You didn't want it. You wanted a wishing spell and refused to be talked out of it."

"You tricked me!"

"I am a wizard of the Di'Jinn order. We use words literally. Words have meanings. Meaning have more power than intent. It doesn't matter what you intended. It matters what you SAID. We know the value and importance of words. Words have meaning. Words must be used correctly. Slang words and words spoken with the wrong meaning, will hamper your spell and cause unexpected results. Wishes are easy to go wrong. I tried to warn you. You refused to listen." 

"You wrote the words of my wish down!"

"Yes I did. But they were your words, not mine."

"Well, rewrite the contract and word it better than!"

"I can't do that."

"Why not?"

"Because the words of the wish MUST be your own. The wish goes to the person who wished for it, the person who thought up the words. If I think up the words to write down, the wish will go to me, not to you. And certainly have no desire to be with your Ophelia."

"Why didn't it work!"

"It did work."

"No it didn't."

"Yes, Kelim. It did. See it's right here in the contract, you said, and I quote, 'I need her, I want her to know how much I need her." You did not say love. When I asked you if you loved her, your answer was: I need her. As you will recall we had quite a conversation what it is you do and do not need in life."

"But you knew what I meant!"

 "Ah! No, it is not my job to seek out, translate, or find hidden meanings you are too shy or too ashamed to speak out loud. I warned you to be specific in what you wanted and you specifically said you wanted her to know how much you needed her. Needs and wants are not the same thing. What you want, you don't always need. And what you need, you don't always want. Wants and needs. Needs and wants. You are plenty old enough to know the difference." 

"You tricked me!"

"No, Kelim. I did not. I told you quite plainly what it was I did..."

"You grant wishes."

"Yes. Sometimes. But I already told you how it is wishes worked, and why it was I didn't want to sell you a wish and would have preferred to sell you a spell instead. Spells are much safer, spells work much closer to your intent. Spells don't always rely on exact phraseology."

"You was supposed to make Ophelia fall in love with me."

"That is NOT what you SAID."

"You knew what I meant."

"Yes. But my knowing your intent, has no bearing on the results of your wish. The wish was powered by YOUR WORDS and yours words ONLY. Not your thoughts, not your intent, and not any knowledge I had of your desires. You WORDS and your words ONLY caused the result you got. It's as I already told you, you have to learn to think with your head Kelim. Don't choose your words so hastily." 

"I do think with my head. You're just mean."

"Kelim, people who resort to name calling, which you seem to like doing quite a lot, rarely, in my experience, have enough bran power to word a wish correctly."

"You keep calling me stupid."

"You ARE stupid Kelim. That's the problem. It doesn't matter how many dozens or even hundreds of times we have this conversation, you are never going to understand that YOU caused the result you got, because you are too stupid to think with your head."

"I do so think with my head. You're just mean."

"Yes, I am mean. But I'm not being mean right now. Nor have I been mean to you at all. You are just a whinny little crybaby, who thinks he can have whatever he wants, whenever he wants, immediately, right now, yesterday. And if you don't get everything your way, you throw a tantrum and resort to name calling. I am trying to be patent with you Kelim, but you really are annoying to deal with."

"You're the one who's annoying! You won't give me what I asked for."

"Oh, quite the contrary, I did. I gave you EXACTLY, what you asked for. Nothing more. Nothing less."

"You turned me into a monster." 

"Perhaps, you were already a monster and the spell has simply revealed your true nature?"

"You tricked me!"

"You keep saying that. You fail to acknowledge the power of words. Words have meanings. If you use the correct words, you get the correct results. Do you not remember Kelim, I warned you that because of you inability to properly use words, it would be unlikely that a wish was going to give you the results you desired. Did I not tell you this? I did, Kelim. I told you exactly that."

"You gave me no such warning."

"I gave you plenty such warnings. You weren't paying attention to what I was saying. The fact that you kept interrupting me, that alone, showed you were not listening."

"You tricked me!"

"Kelim, I did not. And you are doing it again, right now. You are refusing to listen to what I am saying. You are just babbling interruptions and not paying attention because you are so pissed over the fact that for once n your life, you didn't get everything you demanded. You expect people to kiss your ass and lick your feet and give you everything you demand at the drop of a pin. I don't work like that, Kelim. I am not your slave. I am not a Genie n a bottle for you to order around and that seems to be what you thought I was."

"You tricked me!"

"I did not trick you, Kelim. Your dick was thinking when your brain should have been thinking instead. You refused to listen to what I had to say. Just like you are doing, right now. I have no control over what happens when you make a wish. I don't cause the things that occur. I simply make it so your words can form at will. I can not know what will happen to those words once they are brought to life. This is why you must chose your words wisely. And their is no wisdom in your cock. Wisdom is in your head."

"There isn't much you need in life. You need food to eat, water to drink, and a place to sleep. Only this and nothing more do you ACTUALLY need."

"We need more than just that."

"No. You don't."

"We need love and warmth and..."

"You won't die from lack of being loved. Unfortunate but true. And you can live quite comfortable at many degrees below zero. You don't actually die from freezing to death. You die from lack of circulation of blood, due to dehydration. As long as you keep drinking water, or eating snow, you can live for years in subzero weather. I know. I've done it."

"You are missing my point."

"Am I?" 

Quaraun thought about this for a moment. 

"No. No. I do not believe I am. You only need food, water, and a place to sleep. I suppose you could count air to breath, but that's generally available without your seeking it out. Everything else is just want or lust."

"You need love." 

"Do you?"

"Don't you?"

"No one has ever loved me."

"But..."

"BoomFuzzy loved Gibedon. I murdered Gibedon. And BoomFuzzy commit suicide a few days later. He didn't love me. He loved Gibedon. I was... just a plaything BoomFuzzy used while Gibedon was gone away to war. My love for BoomFuzzy... hurts... it hurts so much. You know nothing about love Kelim."

Tears streamed down Quaraun's cheeks.

"But... you need love."

"No. You don't. Look at me. I've loved nearly a thousand years, with no one ever loving me once. Unloved. Unwanted. Hated. Despised. But I survive. Why? Because love is not a need. It's want. It's thing that's nice to have. But you won't die without it. You'll live on. I live perfectly fine in a tent for decades on end. Most settled folk consider me homeless and pitiful. But why? My needs are met. I have food and drink when I need it and a place to sleep. I have the freedom to go anywhere and do anything. You settled folks don't have that freedom. Why? Because you pander to your wants and lusts. If you truly NEEDED Ophelia then she therefor must be food, drink, or a place to sleep. When you do eat her, she knew most definitely without a doubt that you NEEDED to eat her, and there for she died in the knowledge that you NEEDED her. Your wish was granted EXACTLY as you worded. You now NEED Ophelia and she shall soon know it. I've kept my end of the bargain, now it's time you keep yours."

"But you don't have love and that's the thing you want most of all."

"Yes. It is. Love is my strongest desire. To love and be loved in return. It's the only thing I've ever wanted. It's the only thing I've never had. And that's why I know love is not a need."

"I wanted love like yours..."

“Kelim. Don’t base your love off someone else’s."

"But..." 

"What they show you in public, does not reflect what they do in private and you never know the workings of their heart. You romanticize what you THINK I am. Not what I actually am. That's why your wishing spell didn't work. You wished to be like me. I'm soul bound to a Lich. A wraith. A zombie. An undead creature.”

"But..."

"My lover died centuries ago. But before he did, I cast a spell to bind our souls together. I wanted him to feel the love I felt for him. And he did. But I felt, his feelings in return, and love is not what he felt for me. And than he died, and I'm stuck with half of his dead soul inside my body. And I'm immortal because of it. I can't die. I'm the living dead. Because he's undead. You wished to be like me, without knowing wat it meant to be me. I'm not alive, but not dead. I'm somewhere in between life and death. Soul bound for eternity with a Lich. You wished to be like me and now you are."

"I don't want to be the living dead."

"I know. Neither did I." 

“Will you undo the spell and make it again, so I can redo it?”

“Yes. I will, but be careful next time, and know that every time you have me redo it, the cost is going to be higher then before. You’ve only one soul, you’ve only one head. Make me, make it a third time and I’ll take your first born instead. Let’s see how long Ophelia loves you then.”

 "But..."

"No buts. Payment due."

"I can't give you my soul. That's crazy. I need it. I'm still alive. I'm using it. You can't have it!"

"Quite the contrary, I already have it, that's why you eat anyone you meet now. You have no soul to stop you from acting on your primal urges. No, it is not your soul I’m here for."

"What then?"

"It says here 'body and soul'. I'm here for your body. Specifically, I want your head. It belongs on my wall with the others."

"You... want... my... You can't have it! That's not what I agreed too!"

Quaraun took the contract and re-read it.

"No, it is EXACTLY what you agreed to. Says so right here."

"Please, they say you fight for love, everyone knows that, have pity on me, love is my cause as well. Can you not see that? Can you not find it in your heart to ... too...over look the contract?"

"I thought this might happen. I wrote a clause into your contract in case of this."

"Really? Does that mean you won't kill me?"

"Who said anything about killing you dear. Boy. Silly, Boy, I have no intention of killing you."

"Then...then...what do you want my body for...I mean, I'm using it...I... I..."

"I'm a Necromancer. I deal in undeath. Like I said, you are already turning into a Nzambie...."

"I don't want to be a Nzambie! I tried to eat her!"

"Yes...I can see that," Quaraun handed the Pixie a second piece of paper. "Sign this, I'll reverse the spell."

"Really?"

"Really."

"Great!"

The Pixie grabbed the paper and was about to sign it.

"Are you sure you don't want to read it first?" Quaraun asked.

"You said this reverses the spell, right?"

"Right."

"Why do I need to read it then?"

Quaraun rolled his eyes and shook his head. "Fine, sign it unread, it's not my funeral. Just know that if you sign the contract, you ARE agreeing to whatever it says."

"Yeah, right, whatever."

Kelim signed the new contract.

"So how does this work?" Kelim asked. "What happens now?"

"You should have read the new contract, it explained the details."

"You're not going to tell me?" 

"No. It was YOUR responsibility to read the contract before you signed it."

"But..."

"Good day. I'm sure we'll be seeing one another very soon." 

With that the Necromancer left. 


    ~o0o~      




Two years passed. 

Kelim forgot about his contract with the Necromancer. 

Life was wonderful. 

All that he had ever dreamed it would be. 

He and Ophelia were married now and awaited the birth of their second child. 

It was on a happy spring day exactly 2 years from the date on which he had signed the contract, that their child's first birthday party, was interrupted by a knock at the door.

"Excuse me, ma"am," said the servant girl to Lady Ophelia, as she entered the ballroom where many Faeries were gathered. "There's a strange looking Elf at the door. He says he's here to collect payment from you."

"From me?" The lilac fairy sounded surprised, but Kelim's grew very grim.

"Lidia, this Elf, what does he look like?" Kelim demanded of the servant girl.

"Well, he's, he's..."

She did not have a chance to finish. The Elf had followed her into the house.

"It's Quaraun the Insane!" 

Cries went out from the crowd of guests and they shrunk back in fear of the Necromancer's presence.

"Hello, Kelim," greeted the Elf, without any tone emotion at all.

"What are you doing here?"

Quaraun pulled out the contract. "Payment due."

"We finished this already. I owe you nothing."

Quaraun stood there reading the contract and then looked up at the Pixie. "No, you are correct. YOU, owe me nothing." He turned to Ophelia. "But she does."

"Kelim?" Ophelia looked to her husband. "What's he talking about. Why is Quaraun the Insane in our house? What's going on?"

"You did not tell her?" Quaraun asked. "Oh dear. Poor Kelim. My, my, my."

"Kelim? What is he talking about?"

"Nothing. He's not talking about anything."

Quaraun smiled. A wicked, evil smile.

"Your husband sold his soul to me."

"He, what?" 

"But your dear Kelim is a coward. After agreeing to pay me, he got cold feet and then he backed out of the deal. Wanted his soul back. So I took an exchange instead. I returned his soul to him, in exchange for yours. Your soul for his. Due today."

"THAT IS NOT WHAT I AGREED TO!"

“Oh, quite the contrary, it’s exactly what you agreed to. You simply neglected to read the contract before you signed it.”

“Kelim? What’s he talking about? What contract?”

“You can’t have her!”

Kelim stood between Ophelia and the Necromancer. Quaraun smiled a frozen, icy smile, and pulled a small heart-shaped vial from his bag. Green goo glimmered and shimmered, swirling inside the bottle. A pocket watch and a dragon were etched into the side.

“You will not touch my daughter,” a voice roared from across the room.

Quaraun turned to face the red-haired Red Rose Fairy.

“Ah! Finderu. I’ve been looking for you.”

“And I’ve been looking for you, Quaraun. You’re wanted for murder, among other things.”

“Oh, yes, so many other things,” Quaraun agreed. As he spoke, Quaraun pulled out the Elf Eater’s ruby hilted black obsidian dagger and drove the blade through his wrist. He barely flinched, and from the scars on his forearms, it was clear he cut himself often enough that he was completely desensitized to the pain.

“I want you out of my house.”

“You would LET me leave?”

Finderu stood in silence.

“I thought not. You got sloppy Finderu. Letting big bad old me slip into your house.”

“How did you get in here?”

“Does it matter? Here I am.”

“I can see that, you filthy wretch.”

“Oooooh! I’m sooo wounded,” Quaraun sassed.

“You spent too much time with the Elf Eater.”

“Oh, didn’t I?” 

“You start to act like him.”

“Oh geee. I wonder why? He’s a lich and I’m soul bound to him. We are one, remember?”

“You are insane, that is what I remember.”

“By now, you’ve sent your servants to fetch the law. Yes? And the other Guild members. On their way here. Going to surround the house? It’ll take all of them to take down me, The Pink Necromancer, after all. None of you is powerful enough on his own to overtake me.”

“All together we are.”

Quaraun laughed. “Do you really think so?”

“I know so.”

“Nay. Finderu. Every mage on the planet combined hasn’t even the power to fight a single strand of my hair.”

Quaraun was no longer touching the floor, now hovering several feet in the air, looking down at the partygoers. His twelve foot long hair hung loose around him, no longer twelve feet, pooling on the floor, and seemed to be more alive than Quaraun himself.

“And tell me, Finderu, what exactly do you plan to do about your daughter?”

“What do you mean?” 

“You can’t have her!” Finderu interrupted.

“Oh contrare. The spell was cast two years ago. Her soul would flee her body and come to me today, wither I arrived here or not. I did not need to come collect payment in person. But I did. I did need to come here, because they brought it to my attention, her delicate condition.”

“Her condi...?”

“She’s pregnant.”

Quaraun’s hair was much longer now than it was before. Impossibly long, and getting steadily longer, twisting and winding, weaving and wrapping its way around the room.

“What is this madness you have done with your hair?”

“I’ve not cut my hair in nearly a thousand years. I just let it grow and grow and grow, ever so long. I use magic to make it seem shorter than it is. But my goodness, me, it must stretch on for a mile if one was to take the time to measure it.”

“Your hair is alive.”

“Oh, yes. Yes indeed, it is. You see, unlike other Thullids, I’m not a mollusc. Not Octopi. Nor a Squid. I’m a JellyFish. A beautiful pink Jelly with lovely purple ruffles, and thousands of long deadly white stinging tentacles. Touch it and die.”

“It’s not hair.” Finderu stared in horror at the realization of what Quaraun’s hair actually was. “Your hair, isn’t ... hair.”

“No. I am the Sacred Pink JellyFish. I live in the hollowed out skull of this Elf. And where his hair once grew, I sprout out my tentacles instead. I can retract them back inside his skull when I need them shorter, or let them crawl out full length when I need to sting mine enemies to death with my toxic venom.”

“You really are a Thullid. Like the rumours say.”

“Yes.”

“You’re the Thullid Elder Brain.”

“I am.”

“You wouldn’t hurt a child.”

“Wouldn’t I? I murdered my wife and our four children, remember? I loved my children, but I loved BoomFuzzy more. And I’ll do anything to get him back. I don’t care if I have to kill every last person on this planet. I WILL bring him back to life. Love Kelim. REAL love. Is eternal. It doesn’t die. We can’t ever die. True love binds BoomFuzzy and me. Pure love. Eternal love. You wanted what we had, Kelim, do you not remember? Two souls in one body. His and mine together forever. Two hearts, two minds, two souls in one body. That’s what we are. Bound for eternity. He lives now inside of me, but he will live again in a body of his own. But I need souls to do that, Kelim. Did you really think I helped you out of the kindness of my heart? Everything comes with sacrifices. You got your wish, and now I’m here for your souls.”

“You won’t kill another child.”

“You want to test me on that?”

“No. But if you are the Thullid Elder Brain, she had a flaw. She’s pregnant. Full of eggs. And she won’t kill babies for that reason. And it stands to reason. If you are she, then that is why you’ve not killed Ophelia already. As you’ve stated yourself, she is pregnant. I don’t believe you will harm her, not at risk of harming he